8. Hesiod the Rhapsode

8.1 Mantic Poetry

8.1.1 Hesiod’s Dichterweihe

Hesiod’s Dichterweihe (Theogony 22–34) offers an alternative to the Homeric invocation of the Muses:
          αἵ νύ ποθ’ Ἡσίοδον καλὴν ἐδίδαξαν ἀοιδήν,
          ἄρνας ποιμαίνονθ’ Ἑλικῶνος ὕπο ζαθέοιο.
          τόνδε δέ με πρώτιστα θεαὶ πρὸς μῦθον ἔειπον,
25      Μοῦσαι Ὀλυμπιάδες, κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο·
          ποιμένες ἄγραυλοι, κάκ’ ἐλέγχεα, γαστέρες οἶον,
          ἴδμεν ψεύδεα πολλὰ λέγειν ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα,
          ἴδμεν δ’ εὖτ’ ἐθέλωμεν ἀληθέα γηρύσασθαι.
          ὣς ἔφασαν κοῦραι μεγάλου Διὸς ἀρτιέπειαι,
30      καί μοι σκῆπτρον ἔδον δάφνης ἐριθηλέος ὄζον
          δρέψασαι, θηητόν· ἐνέπνευσαν δέ μοι αὐδὴν
          θέσπιν, ἵνα κλείοιμι τά τ’ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ’ ἐόντα,
          καί μ’ ἐκέλονθ’ ὑμνεῖν μακάρων γένος αἰὲν ἐόντων,
          σφᾶς δ’ αὐτὰς πρῶτόν τε καὶ ὕστατον αἰὲν ἀείδειν.

          They once taught Hesiod beautiful song
          while shepherding lambs under holy Helikon.
          This was the utterance the goddesses first addressed to me
25      the Olympian Muses, daughter of aegis-holding Zeus:
          “Field-dwelling shepherds, base reproaches, mere bellies!
          We know how to tell many lies resembling true things;
          and we know, when willing, how to proclaim truths.”
          Thus spoke the ready-voiced daughters of great Zeus,
30      and to me they gave a rod, a shoot of lush laurel
          they plucked, quite the sight; and they breathed into me a voice
          divine, so that I may celebrate what shall be and what was,
          and they bade me hymn the race of the ever living blessed ones,
          but ever to sing them first and last.
Here the Muses call the shepherd Hesiod to celebrate in song ‘past and future things’, endowing him for this purpose with the gift of ‘divine voice’, a voice (αὐδή) qualified by the adjective θέσπις I have already examined (see above, §7.2.1). Just as with Demodokos (θ 481 488), his initiation can be described as the Muses ‘teaching’ him beautiful singing (καλὴν ἀοιδήν for καλῶς ἀείδειν). In the Works and Days 659 the same event receives the wording με … λιγυρῆς ἐπέβησαν ἀοιδῆς, ‘[the Muses] set me on the path of clear song’: ἐπιβαίνω with the genitive of the sphere of expertise recalls the language in the Hymn to Hermes, where Hermes’ attaining to his due rights, his μοῖρα or τιμή, is expressed as κἀγὼ τῆς ὁσίης ἐπιβήσομαι ἧς περ Ἀπόλλων (173). Important to my argument here is the strong accent on the divine origin of Hesiod’s poetic voice and song, and that his purview, just as a seer’s, is the past and the future. I will comment further below (§8.1.2) on this all encompassing temporal horizon; for now, I should note that Hesiod’s initiation casts him in the role of a poet-seer, just as Homer’s persona better corresponds to the prophet. The σκῆπτρον Hesiod receives (perhaps to replace a shepherd’s crook that goes unmentioned) places him in regard to authoritative speaking in the same category as kings (Ζ 159; cf. Α 279 Β 86 etc.), priests (Α 15 28), seers (λ 91), and heralds (Η 277), and assimilates him to a rhapsode who performs with his staff in hand.
To understand the distinction between the μάντις and the προφήτης, the locus classicus is Plato’s Timaios 71d–72b: [1] here μαντική is specifically tied to ‘enthusiasm’ ἐνθουσιασμός, which the philosopher, with his usual tendentiousness, calls foolishness (ἀφροσύνη) and disease (νόσος). But—and this is the key distinction—if μάντεις are the vehicles of inspired sight, the προφῆται are appointed to ‘interpret’ them, i.e. to sit as judges, κριταί, over their meaning. ‘Some’, Plato goes on, ‘call them μάντεις, being blind to the fact that they are ὑποκριταί of visions and riddling utterances, not μάντεις, and that the most correct label for them would be προφῆται of the utterances of the μάντεις’. [2] As Nagy (1989:26) remarks, the semantic connection between μάντις and μανία holds at the etymological level, both deriving from the root *men- (μανία < *mn̥-i̯eh 2); but what in the classical era denoted an altered mental state was, diachronically speaking, only a marked meaning of the same family that gives us the Latin mēns; this suggests the possibility that at an early stage μάντις did not connote senseless furor, but was rather cognate with the mental state denoted by formations with *mnē- (‘have in mind, remember, mention, remind’), which is but an extended form, *mneh 2 -, of *mne-. [3] In his survey of Homeric passages Casevitz 1992 demonstrates conclusively that there was nothing of ‘madness’ (in its ordinary sense) in the person and practice of the epic seer. He defines mantis as a specialist who interprets divine signs, who reveals what to others is obscure and hidden. [4] According to him, the seer’s practice is not intrinsically oriented towards the future [5] and divides broadly into two categories: the inductive understanding of the reader of signs and the immediate understanding of the inspired seer. Casevitz makes Plato responsible for breaking this semantic unity in order to elevate immediate inspiration over against the charlatanry of traditional inductive divination. This aim required excising from μάντεις the interpretive function, which was conveniently assigned to προφῆται; and tying μάντις and μανία etymologically (a tie that Casevitz disputes) so as to make the seer one who is able to predict the future when he is seized by divinely sent furor. [6] Casevitz infers Plato’s high regard for inspired divination from Phaidros 244c, where Sokrates avers that the finest τέχνη by which the future is discerned would not have been called μανική if μανία had been disdained as shameful. I find Casevitz’s view of Plato’s motives implausible, not least because in a matter of such import and with so many ramifications it is doubtful that one can make any one Platonic statement the interpretive key to the rest. Those who have tried to ascertain Plato’s personal evaluation of poetry, a question that arguably depends on the philosopher’s estimation of inspired mania, have found their attempt notoriously difficult: not only does irony complicate the interpretive task, but one must also consider, for example, the specific aims of the relevant dialogs and allow for a measure of intellectual development from one to another. Be that as it may, I agree with Casevitz that Plato provides a watershed in the characterization of μανία that opposes it to τέχνη and equates it to being out of one’s mind.
Post Platonic scholarship finds it difficult to conceive μανία and the related verb μαίνομαι as a marked degree of intellectual activity, a heightened measure of cognition, indicating an extraordinary degree of mental awareness. This positive estimation, I believe, is the ordinary meaning of this semantic field, of which the negative (often punitive, and brought about by a divine agency) was the loss of mental (and bodily) self-possession and the inability to think aright. Hence, madness is to the increased cognition of ordinary, positive μανία as lies are to archaic truth or ψόγος to epic κλέος: a subordinate, negative image that can only be understood in light of the primary, positive acceptation. Mania implied not a suspension of one’s native mental capacities but their elevation, usually in the context of ritual and religious practice. The resulting heightened state combined natural ability, specific training, and divine influence—none overruling the others—in a coordinate exercise of superior judgment. [7] For this reason, Casevitz’s attempt to divorce μάντις etymologically from μανία and μαίνομαι is misconceived. Drawing attention to the divergent testimony of the Etymologicum Magnum 574.70–73 (cols. 1630–1631 Gaisford), [8] he proposes to relate μάντις to μηνύω instead. Bader (1997:5–6) validates this proposal but shows that Casevitz’s motivation is ill-founded and his rationale specious; for μηνύω comes from *mn̥h 2 -nu-, which is built on the zero-grade enlarged root *mn̥-h 2 - with dissimilation *μ(ν)η-νυ-. The unexpected outcome  > -αν- before -τι- is variously explained by scholars: Bonfante 1979 deems it an Indo-European dialectal variant; [9] Bader (1997:6), a regular, if older, reflex of the syllabic resonant before a consonantal laryngeal; [10] Bartolotta (2002:30), a common phonetic treatment by proto-Doric, Armenian, and Hittite peoples that attests to their cultural contact in the second millennium BC. [11] The use of the suffix -τις for the agent noun and its failure to assibilate remain puzzling, [12] but Casevitz’s proposal to segregate μάντις from μαίνομαι alleviates none of the difficulties. [13]
Not only is μάντις, then, to be traced to *men-. In fact, though some still contest this, the word Muse itself in all likelihood should be traced to the same root in its o-grade, *mon-: μοῦσα < *mon-tu̯a or *mon-ti̯a. [14] We would expect, then, to find traces in the literature of ancient Greece of that undifferentiated usage which employed μάντις and προφήτης interchangeably and which cast the poet, moreover, in a role such that the primeval unity of oracular speech and poetic utterance under the figure of the poet-seer might be discernible. This is, indeed, what happens, as we shall see below (see §8.3.2).

8.1.2 Revealing the song

For now, it is important to underscore the implications of this unity for the nature of the oral tradition. I have in mind here a function of epic poetry that in another work I have called ‘revelatory’, in that the singer acts as a vehicle for the divine message, conveyed to his audience by the inspiring divinity. [15] We, as modern readers, tend not to think of epic narrative in this sense: we are more attuned to its literary qualities as fictional poetry and it takes an anthropological perspective to realize that its social function and repercussions are more profound. When the singer is viewed from this particular perspective, his role has been called sacred and his speech religious, magic, or sacral. [16] Underlying this anthropological construction is the bard’s access to the divine will—I might even say to the divine mind—and his kerygmatic and explanatory mediating role as κῆρυξ and προφήτης. This traditional reflex is so pronounced that, even at the much later and largely conventional stage of Hellenistic poetry, Apollonios of Rhodes, too, builds on it by explicitly including Apollo with the Muses and the poet in a triangle of mediated inspiration, invoking the goddesses in an openly hermeneutic role as ὑποφήτορες of Apollo. [17]
In Greek thought the ‘revelation’ effected by oracular speech is not ordinary ‘speaking’, λέγειν, but, as Herakleitos famously noted, ‘the giving of signs’, σημαίνειν. [18] But σήματα, especially in the context of divine omens, [19] are strongly associated with vision—even inner vision [20] —and this serves to motivate the official title, θεωρός, for an envoy sent to consult an oracle. Etymology suggests that a θεωρός is one sent to observe a sight or spectacle, *θεᾱ-ϝορός (cf. DELG s.v.), and indeed it can mean ‘spectator’. Its connection with oracular consultation not only confirms the visual quality of the oracle’s σημαίνειν, but it also underlines the fixed character of mantic/prophetic revelation: the oracular answer must not be changed; the θεωρός must scrupulously guard its accuracy and deliver it just as he received it. And so, Theognis warns: ‘An envoy (ἀνὴρ θεωρός) sent to Delphi, Kyrnos, must take care to be straighter (εὐθύτερος) than square or rule or lathe, that man to whom the priestess of the god, making her oracular response, indicates (σημήνῃ) the sacred utterance (ὀμφή) from out the wealthy shrine. You could neither find a cure if you add [to it], nor could you escape fault in the eyes of the gods if you take away’. [21]
The orientation of the epic poet towards the past is no hindrance to his revelatory office. Hesiod, because of his mantic status, [22] was granted by the Muses the gift of song about things past, present, and future (Theogony 32, 38). [23] In practice, however, even he kept his focus generally on the past. To be sure, he did sing predictively in Works and Days 176–201, and other passages from this poem are similarly oriented towards the future. Such are the verses that make predictions on the basis of the calendar [24] or on the grounds of practices observed and actions effected. The commonplace that, Theogony 32 notwithstanding, Hesiod never sang of the future is a widespread misunderstanding that goes back to antiquity. [25] Verdenius (1972:239) claims that “the prophetic element is absent from the Theogony.” One might counter that Theogony 886–900, with its implication that Zeus’ rule will last forever, is “prophetic” in nature and no small thematic point in the overall architecture of the poem. But the multifaceted complementarity between the two major Hesiodic poems, which most scholars acknowledge (and is supported by apparent cross-references like Works and Days 658–659), argues against limiting the force and metapoetic significance of programmatic passages only to the composition in which they appear. [26] Surely this logic applies a fortiori to the verses that narrate Hesiod’s Dichterweihe, since there alone the tradition defines itself through the deliberate construction of its privileged performer. Hence, it seems reasonable to look for the fruition of the Muses’ charge to Hesiod in the Theogony not merely within that poem but in the diptych it forms with the Works and Days. If the former is primarily (but not exclusively) oriented towards the past, the latter explores the implications of Zeus’ Olympian rule for man’s present and future. In this connection, Verdenius’s remark (1972:239) that WD 176ff. speaks of the future “but in a critical, not in a laudatory, tone” fails to appreciate the ways in which divine judgment affirms, and therefore extols, the justice of Zeus. [27] In fact, the reformulation of Theogony 38 (εἴρουσαι τά τ’ ἐόντα τά τ’ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ’ ἐόντα) as ἵνα κλείοιμι τά τ’ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ’ ἐόντα, | καί μ’ ἐκέλονθ’ ὑμνεῖν μακάρων γένος αἰὲν ἐόντων (Theogony 32–33) suggests that the overarching thematic interest of the Hesiodic poetic tradition as a whole is to help the audience explore the present implications of the eternal rule of the blessed gods in its stasis under Zeus’ supremacy. The singer carries out this poetic project by narrating the genesis of the pantheon and its divine economy; and by considering the ways in which this economy shapes and directs his (and his audience’s) daily experiences and future expectations.
Writing about the relationship of verses 32–33 to verse 38 of the Theogony, Leclerc observes: “Pourtant, Hésiode évoque le présent et la vie quotidienne des hommes, dans la Théogonie. … Mais … ces composantes du mode de vie humain sont étroitement rapportées à la compétence ou à l’initiative d’un dieu … . Il ne s’agit pas de dresser le catalogue de ce qui est, mais d’enraciner cette réalité dans un monde en ordre qui a une histoire, ordre et histoire qu’il importe de faire connaître, *κλείειν.” [28] Both Neitzel (1980:397) and, after him, Clay (1988:330n31) are wrong to assert that the absence of the article τά before πρό τ’ ἐόντα necessarily implies that the words τά τ’ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ’ ἐόντα denote a composite, i.e. something that both ‘was’ and ‘shall be’. From the parallels adduced by Clay (ad loc.) only follows that, if the meter had accommodated the second article, one might well have expected τά τ’ ἐσσόμενα τά τε πρὸ ἐόντα. This is hardly to the point. Rather, the question to answer is whether the absence of the second τά—an absence that makes the expression metrical—results from the composer’s need for syntactic flexibility (and hence fits the canons of archaic epic diction) or from the composer’s wish to refer to his subject matter as things whose existence spans the past and the future without dissolution of continuity. It is not hard to settle the question: υ 310 should suffice to disprove Neitzel’s and Clay’s assumption that only a strictly parallel syntactic construction that repeats the article τά could allow for the view that Theogony 32 is but an epic compression of the fuller verse 38 (with verse 33 further explicating its meaning). [29] For the Greek text of Telemakhos’ assertion in υ 309–310, ‘for now I perceive and understand each thing, both the good and the evil’, runs as follows: ἤδη γὰρ νοέω καὶ οἶδα ἕκαστα, | ἐσθλά τε καὶ τὰ χέρεια. Note that the article is absent before ἐσθλά but present before χέρεια. Yet no one, I think, would argue that the audience should understand the ἐσθλά as indefinite and contrast them with definite χέρεια. Although in this case the article is missing from the first member of the τε καὶ pair and one cannot press the point Neitzel and Clay make in regard to τά τ’ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ’ ἐόντα, the verse serves to show that epic diction does not require, and for metrical reasons may suppress, the use of the article with one member of an enumerated series without thereby sanctioning readings that hinge on a fussy demand for strictly parallel diction. Even in English, if someone said of Kalkhas that ‘he knew what is what is to come and was,’ I think that few (if any) would construe the enumeration as bipartite (on the one hand ‘what is,’ on the other ‘what was and is to come’). The gloss that Clay offers for Α 70, “he knew both the divine and the human things,” is none the more credible for being reasonable on its face. One wonders what qualifies ‘human things’ for their ascription to the narrow temporal range of the ever-fleeting present. Are we to think of man as having neither a sense of his past nor an expectation of the future to come? Archaic poetry belies this impoverished notion. Does not Kalkhas’ interpretation of the present Akhaian predicament (and his prediction of the future) depend on his knowledge of past human actions and present (and future) divine responses? Unsurprisingly, neither the scholia to the Iliad nor to the Theogony offers an ancient interpreter to whom the contested over-scrupulous syntactic argument suggested itself.
A different kind of objection is Arrighetti’s (1998:316–317) insistence that Theogony 32 prima facie excludes the present from the Muses’ charge to Hesiod. What is this excluded present? For the answer, Arrighetti resorts to Theogony 369–370 which, in his view, is consistent with “questa esclusione delle cose del presente dal dominio delle conoscenze del poeta” (317). [30] In this passage, Hesiod closes with the following verses a partial enumeration of the offspring of Okeanos and Tethys (Theogony 367–370):
τόσσοι δ’ αὖθ’ ἕτεροι ποταμοὶ καναχηδὰ ῥέοντες,
υἱέες Ὠκεανοῦ, τοὺς γείνατο πότνια Τηθύς·
τῶν ὄνομ’ ἀργαλέον πάντων βροτὸν ἄνδρα ἐνισπεῖν,
οἱ δὲ ἕκαστοι ἴσασιν, ὅσοι περιναιετάουσι.

And there are in turn as many other loud-flowing rivers,
sons of Okeanos, whom queenly Tethys bore,
all of whose names it is hard for a mortal man to tell;
but they each know them who severally dwell around them.
Arrighetti considers this a confession of ignorance and an admission that a full enumeration is impossible. But the text claims no such thing: Hesiod only avers that they are so numerous that a hypothetically exhaustive listing would severely tax a mortal man. The rhetorical point of the statement is to underline the multitude of offspring. There is no admission here of ignorance; only the claim that those who live around each river know its name and, presumably, other relevant details. [31] To infer ignorance from the statement that the singer need not tax himself with telling all the names because the locals know them is to elevate ‘hard’ (ἀργαλέον) to ‘impossible’ (ἀδύνατον), to disregard the obvious rhetorical emphasis (the high number, not the alleged ignorance of the poet), and to forget that the singer has just exhibited his inspired knowledge by offering a representative sample in his bravura performance, not to mention his explicit avowal to know the precise number (three thousand) of the offspring whose names he allegedly ignores. [32] The point of these verses is not one of epistemology. It is rather a conspicuous corroboration of the Panhellenic shape of Hesiod’s Theogony: local rivers are of local, not Panhellenic, concern. [33] The Panhellenic rhapsode therefore omits to list them all and relegates them to the attention of local populations in what amounts to an elegant praeteritio. This observation addresses Arrighetti’s perplexity about why the poet does not resort to the Muses and ask them to supply him with the names (names which, for Arrighetti, Hesiod ignores). [34] One should not forget that the rivers whose names Hesiod does not mention are divinities too, and, presumably, both their names and any other relevant information (their genealogy, myths, etc.) would not fall under the purview of ordinary experience. Ascertaining such things would call, too, for an inspired and authoritative performer—only, in this case, a local bard who sings local poetry.
At his Dichterweihe, then, the Muses charge Hesiod with singing that is temporally comprehensive in its consideration of the gods’ impact upon the world of man. His song is not to exclude some hypothetical present in favor of the past and the future. Now, granting that even Hesiod often keeps his focus on the past, reciprocally, although oracular inquiries most often involved future concerns, questions about the past, usually about the identity of someone’s parents or the cause of some present affliction, were by no means unexampled. [35] We have, moreover, the well-known and puzzling statement by Epimenidēs (apud Aristotle Rhetoric Ⅲ.17.10) that ‘the past is known already, even by manteis’; ‘for [Epimenidēs] used to divine not the future, but only about past and obscure matters’, the philosopher adds by way of explanation. [36] However we interpret this quotation (which, if sarcastic, squares poorly with the seer’s own practice), [37] it is clear that oracular speech could engage the past just as well as the future. But not only with regard to their temporal orientation (their varying emphases notwithstanding) do epic and oracular poetry show a certain affinity; the oracular valence of Homeric poetry, its unfolding of the divine will, is similarly explicit in the diction of the poet. Thus, when at Odysseus’ urging Demodokos strikes up his song, the poet tells us that he ‘revealed his song’, φαῖνε δ’ ἀοιδήν (θ 499). φαίνω and φημί, of course, can be traced to the same root, *b h eh 2 - (DELG s.vv.), and this suggests the semantic development ‘to shine’ → ‘to make bright’ → ‘to make clear’ → ‘to say’ (LIV 2 68–70). [38] It is not a coincidence that the word chosen is closely related to the manifestation of signs (σ 67 υ 114) or divine epiphanies (Ε 866 Υ 131). Where used, as here, for a statement, it underlines the marked character of the utterance, whether emphatic (Ξ 127) or of great significance to the plot (Σ 295). Hence, in terms of the archaic poetics of the passage, the song presents itself as the semantic equivalent of an oracular pronouncement. This suits the rhetoric of Odysseus’ challenge: αἴ κεν δή μοι ταῦτα κατὰ μοῖραν καταλέξῃς, | αὐτίκα καὶ πᾶσιν μυθήσομαι ἀνθρώποισιν, | ὡς ἄρα τοι πρόφρων θεὸς ὤπασε θέσπιν ἀοιδήν (θ 496–498); it also complements the explicit hymnic framework in which the bard delivers his song: ὁ δ’ ὁρμηθεὶς θεοῦ ἤρχετο (θ 499).

8.1.3 The divine will

Indeed, we should not be surprised at the emphasis on the revelatory character of the song, a fact that has obvious implications for the worldview that informs epic performance and, consequently, for the notional fixity of the poetry. The poems present themselves as the outworking of the divine will, which without the bard’s song would remain at best opaque. This is most emphatically expressed in the opening lines of the Iliad, where the anger of Akhilleus and the subsequent death of many heroes is summarized by Διὸς δ’ ἐτελείετο βουλή (Α 5). One might think this a proleptic reference to Zeus’ favorable answer to the request Thetis makes on behalf of her son. But fragment 1 of the Kypria [39] reveals that, at least in other epic traditions (if not in the Iliadic one itself), Zeus was directly and personally responsible for the Trojan War, which he devised as a strategy to lessen the earth’s overpopulation; [40] significantly, the Kypria expresses the outcome by the phrase ἥρωες κτείνοντο, Διὸς δ’ ἐτελείετο βουλή. The plot of Zeus’ conspiracy thickens with Proklos’ summary, which adds that Zeus involved Themis in his planning. Whatever the possible diachronic developments within, and disagreements between, the traditions that informed the Kypria and our present-day Iliad, three factors lead me to consider it reasonably certain that, notionally speaking, the poetry of the Iliad [41] was viewed by its audience from beginning to end as the explication of Zeus’ will: first, the unity conveyed by the metaphor of an epic κύκλος, whose authorship, at an early stage, was ascribed solely to Homer; [42] second, the shared thematic and formulaic echoes just noted; and third, the frequent ascription to Zeus [43] of responsibility for the war.
The same can be said of the Odyssey. This claim calls for elaboration since, on its face, Zeus disavows any responsibility in the famous concilium of the first book and the words σφῇσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν (α 34) manifestly pick up on the σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο of α 7. Moreover, as Maehler (1963:23) notes, there is a sense in which this stress on the blind folly of Odysseus’ companions not only reflects a keen interest in exculpating the hero (and generally a focus on personal guilt, cf. ψ 67), but also suggests a contrast in emphasis with the Iliadic tradition’s foregrounding of the will of Zeus. But matters are more complicated than they appear at first, for after Odysseus escapes from Polyphemos and offers the ram to Zeus in thanksgiving we learn that ‘Zeus was contriving how my well-benched ships and my trusty comrades might perish’ (ι 554–555). Scholars have seen in this doublet of the anger of Poseidon signs of a reworking of two independent traditions, each of which featured the wrath of only one god as the ‘divine narrative engine’ of Odysseus’ many adventures. Regardless of how we account for Zeus’ refusal to heed the offering and however we conceive of it in relation to Poseidon (and here it is hard to deny there is a coincidence of purpose), for Heubeck to write that “there is no question here of Zeus being hostile” [44] and add that “[h]e must let events take their course in accordance with Moira” (Russo et al. 1992:41) seems to me inadequate and to fly in the face of the text. Add to this the words of Teiresias, who promises deliverance to the hero and his comrades despite Poseidon’s anger, if they do not harm the cattle of Helios; otherwise, only Odysseus shall come home, late and in someone else’s ship, and find trouble in his house (λ 114–115). The seer’s words [45] are an oral quotation of Polyphemos’ own curse, [46] and hence it would seem that it is still in Odysseus’ power to escape the wrath of Poseidon if only he and his men avoid harm to the flock of Helios: there is no talk here of Moira, as would be natural—were the necessity of fate really in view—in the mouth of a seer who proceeds, in fact, to prophesy about the manner of Odysseus’ death. One could counter with narrative necessity: that the hero must arrive late, find his palace overrun by suitors, slay them, etc. I agree. But this answer misses the point of my argument, which is that from within the logic of the story (call it the narrative or theological framework), some scholars ascribe responsibility for the unfolding plot to Poseidon alone, whereas, in my view, ι 554–555 and the words of Teiresias suggest that Odysseus is not bound by some moira to which Zeus yields, but that it is Zeus himself who secures the fulfillment of the Kyklops’ curse (with the obvious concurrence of Poseidon). The events on Thrinakia confirm this reading, for Zeus’ unfavorable wind there (μ 313 325–326) is the ultimate cause of the men’s sacrilege: they are driven by desperation and even in their transgression they take care to be as inoffensive as possible; and Odysseus is overtaken by a protective sleep sent to prevent his hindering his men or sharing in their deed (μ 338 371–373). Furthermore, Zeus is emphatically instrumental in carrying out Helios’ punishment and destroying the ship (μ 387–388). Neither must we forget that Zeus was also responsible for the onset of Odysseus’ adventures (ι 67). [47]
Contributing further to the revelatory character of Homeric poetry are its many connections to oracles, prophecies, dreams, and omens. [48] I might mention, for example, the omen at Aulis (Β 303–330); Kalkhas’ prophecy (Α 92–100); the intimation of Philoktetes’ return (Β 724); the prediction of Akhilleus’ death by his horse Xanthos (Τ 415–417); the famous and puzzling Delphic χρησμός about the future strife between Odysseus and Akhilleus (θ 79–80); the self-interpreting dream-omen of Penelope (τ 535–553); the visionary outburst of Theoklymenos (υ 351–357); and Teiresias’ prophecy about Odysseus and the oar (λ 119–130). Here, again, Apollonios of Rhodes proved his refined sense of inherited epic conventions by highlighting Apollo’s prophecy (φάτις 1.5) as the trigger to the plot of his Argonautika. [49]
Accustomed, as we are, to thinking about the constraints of genres (their observance, violations, and modifications) primarily within a self-referential framework of literary conventions—a sort of ahistorical ‘New Criticism’—we must make an effort here to recover all the social dimensions attendant on this poetry, especially the religious ones. The invocation of the divinity is still, in this period, fraught with sacral meaning: the Panhellenic nature of the poetry, its strong tendency to eliminate any details tied to local cult and to stylize any remaining instances of prayers and sacrifices, makes the archaic ritual context of Homeric performance very difficult to recover. [50] But here, the practice of using hymns (e.g. the so-called Homeric hymns) as προοίμια [51] to the larger poems (in whatever stage of compositional development and textual fixity) attests to the religious character of the singing of the bard. [52] A typical προοίμιον takes the form of a dialog of sorts: first, the bard addresses himself to the god, beseeching his aid and favor as he presides over the performance (and often celebrating his τιμαί and deeds seriatim); the Muse, in turn, replies with her song, which in the mouth of the bard becomes his own song and message to his audience. The Odyssey itself provides illustrations of the use of preludes. Indeed, the verb ἀναβάλλειν, as noted, [53] refers to the bard ‘striking up’ his song (α 155 θ 266 ρ 262); there is also one explicit instance of a hymnic invocation: ὁ δ’ ὁρμηθεὶς θεοῦ ἤρχετο (θ 499). Such preambles are further documented by Pindar (Nemean 2.3) and Thoukydides (3.104.4), and though neither the Iliad nor the Odyssey has come down to us accompanied by any one particular προοίμιον, Krates of Mallos knew of a copy of the former poem that included a prelude to Apollo and the Muses. The Theogony and the Works and Days do open with respective hymns to the Muses and Zeus, though a copy of the Works and Days without its first ten lines was shown to Pausanias on his visit to Mount Helikon (9.31.4). [54] In fact, the entire Theogony could be considered a hymn to Zeus, even as it contains both a προοίμιον to the Muses (1–115) and, within the same, a micro-hymn to Zeus (71–75).
The religious mindset (I might say piety) that must have pervaded the performance of Homeric epic at its earliest stages need not mean, of course, that there were no other facets to this poetry. Thus, for example, to mention only one that is amply attested, it was also supposed to delight the audience: μῆτερ ἐμή, τί τ’ ἄρα φθονέεις ἐρίηρον ἀοιδὸν | τέρπειν ὅππῃ οἱ νόος ὄρνυται; (α 346–347; cf. θ 44–45 and Hesiod Theogony 55, 98–103). But even in regard to the pleasure of poetic performance do the gods receive notional priority: [55] τύνη, Μουσάων ἀρχώμεθα, ταὶ Διὶ πατρὶ | ὑμνεῦσαι τέρπουσι μέγαν νόον ἐντὸς Ὀλύμπου (Hesiod Theogony 37–38); αὐτίκα δ’ ἀθανάτοισι μέλει κίθαρις καὶ ἀοιδή. | Μοῦσαι μέν θ’ ἅμα πᾶσαι ἀμειβόμεναι ὀπὶ καλῇ | ὑμνεῦσίν ῥα θεῶν δῶρ’ ἄμβροτα ἠδ’ ἀνθρώπων | τλημοσύνας, ὅσ’ ἔχοντες ὑπ’ ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι (Hymn to Apollo 188–191).

8.2 Of Truth and Lies

If we come down to the classical period, to the late fifth century BC, and consider Plato’s Iōn, we find that, according to Sokrates’ chain of inspiration, Homer, the singer-poet, is possessed by the Muse (enthousiasmos works godward) and hence functions as a μάντις before the audience—or, more immediately, before the rhapsode who performs his poetry. There is here an important modification to the archaic picture: starting in the second half of the sixth century BC we find that the epic tradition, heretofore strictly conceptualized as the word of the Muse, is henceforth assigned to a prōtos heuretēs, [56] Homer, the archetypal wordsmith par excellence. [57] This development, attractive to the Greek mind in its historical simplicity, also took place in other social domains (e.g. lawgiving, animal sacrifice, etc.) and corresponds to that culture’s love of aetiologies. But from a sociological perspective, this shift represents a transparent move of the locus of authority for the performance away from the religious—the Muse, who aids the singer and makes his performance authoritative—and towards the secular—a great and inimitable composer, whose original utterance the singer is called to reenact. [58]
The issues, however, are the same: authority and veracity remain fungible, and with the evolving nature of authority we find a corresponding redefinition of truthfulness. [59] The living tradition was once tautologically true, for truth was performatively (re)enacted and untruth relegated to oblivion. This did not place all parties beyond the charge of mendacity: it was in the opposition between competing poetic traditions that ψεύδεα may be discovered. [60] Divergences between multiforms of a given myth or song would have been most readily detected at agōnes between competing bards or in the rival festival traditions of locales that shared cultural contacts. [61] It is, in fact, primarily in the context of strife (ἔρις), quarrel (νεῖκος), and competing claims that Greek poetry brings matters of truthfulness to the fore. The rhetoric of ψεῦδος and ἀλήθεια reaches out in two complementary directions: there is, on the one hand, a challenge to the audience to embrace or reject the truth claims of the message, dream, or performance; [62] but there is also a direct challenge by the speaker (or performer) to anyone else offering a competing claim (or song) in the context of ἔρις (or an ἀγών, which is but an institutionally regulated form of ἔρις [63] ). This conceptual affinity motivates Hesiod’s choice in making quarrels, lies, tales, and disputes (Νείκεά τε Ψεύδεά τε Λόγους τ’ Ἀμφιλλογίας τε Theogony 229) siblings all descended from ἔρις and ‘like each other in habits’ (συνήθεας ἀλλήλῃσιν 230). [64] The association between lying and competition resurfaces at Ψ 576, where Menelaos forestalls the charge of lying by calling on Antilokhos to swear that he has not won the horse race with a δόλος; the context is one of arbitration (ἐγὼν αὐτὸς δικάσω … ἰθεῖα γὰρ ἔσται 579–580). [65]
The conceptual ties between νεῖκος and ψεύδεα illuminate an otherwise puzzling episode in the Theogony (775–806), where Styx is presented as the arbiter of divine strife that results in competing truth claims, ‘when strife and quarreling arise among the immortals and if any of the gods, who live on Olympos, lies’. [66] A ritual of potential self-incrimination follows, which includes an oath and a libation with the water of Styx. A god who perjures himself lies ‘breathless’ (νήυτμος 795; ἀνάπνευστος 797) until the end of the year; the image is one of helplessness and ineffectiveness, the conceptual parallel of ἔπε’ ἀκράαντα (τ 565), [67] now touching not merely the god’s will but his entire person. It is clear, however, that the lack of breath, though in the context of a κῶμα and abstention from food, focuses on the lack of voice, ἄναυδος (797), in what amounts to an inversion of ‘authoritative speech’: ⟨ἄναυδος⟩ τὸ ἀπαρρησίαστον τῶν ἀσεβῶν χαρακτηρίζει, notes the scholiast. [68] This ordeal, however, is but the start of the appointed punishment, namely, a forced exile of nine years from the company of the gods (εἰνάετες 801; ἐννέα πάντ’ ἔτεα 803). [69] Likewise at Ω 222–224, Priam equates ψεῦδος with a ἅλιον ἔπος, an ‘idle’ or ‘fruitless word’. And Hera tricks Zeus into swearing with the following challenge: ψευστήσεις, οὐδ’ αὖτε τέλος μύθῳ ἐπιθήσεις (Τ 107); once again, the ‘lie’ consists in not accomplishing his word, in failing to bring it to pass. Not unrelated are the juxtaposition of μάψ, ‘in vain, without result’, and οὐ κατὰ κόσμον at Β 214; and the use of μαψιδίως to qualify ψεύδεσθαι at ξ 365. That ψεῦδος can be used to denote a statement’s lack of fulfillment shows that, just as ἀλήθεια does not strictly correspond to our notion of ‘truth’, so does ψεῦδος resist a straightforward mapping onto our notion of ‘lie’. Thus, when Nestor, ignorant of recent events, fears that his observations may be found in error, he remarks: ψεύσομαι, ἦ ἔτυμον ἐρέω; κέλεται δέ με θυμός (Κ 534; cf. δ 140). It is not lies, but an erroneous statement he wants to avoid: where we distinguish between misspeaking and lying, Homeric Greek, regardless of culpability, uses ψεῦδος. [70] In sum, then, though ἀληθής and ἀψευδής belong together (Theogony 233), in the larger conceptual world of Greek archaic poetics the fundamental opposition is the one between ἀλήθεια and λήθη, not ἀλήθεια and ψεῦδος. [71]
There is an obvious rhetorical point to lying that tries to gain a hearer’s favor (ξ 386–389; [72] Theogony 78, 709, 789), the coveted goal of the performer: ψεῦδος and θέλγω stand together at Φ 276 and ξ 387; Akhilleus uses ἀπατάω to describe Agamemnon’s breach of the heroic code that would have rewarded his service with τιμή and γέρας (Ι 344 371 375); and λ 363–368 contrasts the deceiver who fashions lies (ψεύδεα ἀρτύνειν) to the skillful singer (ἐπιστάμενος) of noble heart (φρένες ἐσθλαί) and shapely words (μορφὴ ἐπέων). [73] But in this last passage the ἀοιδός, as the instrument of the Muse, is still the paragon of ‘truthful’ singing, and of him nothing less than unassailable moral probity is conceivable. And yet it is hard to see how a judgment based on the speaker’s possession of these qualities would successfully tell the truthful from the lying, especially the artful lying; and this serves well to underline the precarious standing of truth in the context of performance, where competing singers are bent on winning the audience and defeating their opponents. Now, in the face of conflicting performances, only two judgments are open: either the Muse has inspired one singer but not another; or else she has filled the mouth of one with ‘truth’ and of the other with ‘lies.’ This (perhaps undesirable) state of affairs is but the reflection of the discriminating and variable nature of divine favor: now giving, now taking away, showing or withholding blessing for the gods’ own, at times inscrutable, reasons. [74]
In the one recorded instance where archaic poetry grew self-conscious at the boundary of competing traditions, the προοίμιον to Hesiod’s Theogony, it granted the Muses comprehensive responsibility for traditional poetics and, in good consequence, had to allow for the tantalizing possibility of ‘lying inspiration.’ [75] In effect, as the Hesiodic theogony makes a bid for Panhellenic status it must at the same time discredit any other local variants. [76] The Muses rebuke the poet with pointed abuse, calling him a ‘mere belly’, drawing on the topos of the man who is willing to do anything to satisfy his hunger; thus, Eumaios tells Odysseus that ‘wanderers in need of substance tell idle lies and have no desire to tell the truth (ἀληθέα μυθήσασθαι)’ (ξ 124–125; cf. η 215–221 σ 53–54). [77] There is, then, in the Muses’ rebuke a stab at the singer who is willing to compromise the veracity of his song by changing it to suit the expectations of local patronage. [78] Katz and Volk (2000:124) object that the ‘bellies’ of Theogony 26 cannot be poets because Hesiod himself (not a group distinct from him) is being addressed. I share their conviction that Theogony 27–28 describes two distinct capacities of the Muses and that Hesiod is inspired specifically with the truth (not a mixture of lies and truth, much less an anachronistic category of ‘truthful fiction’); and, like them, I think that one may not ignore or give short shrift to verse 26, as often happens with oversubtle philosophical readings. But I do not endorse their refusal, in which they follow Judet de la Combe (1993:26–30), to make poets the target of the Muses’ rebuke because this “would entail that Hesiod was already a poet even before encountering the Muses and that the Dichterweihe merely transformed him from a poet of lies into a poet of truth” (Katz and Volk 2000:124). [79] This objection only has force if we lose sight of the point of characterizing Hesiod initially as a shepherd: his transformation into a poet of truth is portrayed as utterly comprehensive, as a radical make-over—a rhetorical move necessary to mark him out as falling henceforth under verse 28 of the anaphoric distich, and not under 27. It is true that the Muses admit to inspiring many ψεύδεα also. But this is merely an unavoidable acknowledgment of the traditional character of the local poetry denigrated: the concession serves only to put down its authority in favor of the Panhellenic claims and scope of the Hesiodic Theogony. The very performance mode entailed by the pointed choice of λέγειν (27) deflates the clout of Hesiod’s rivals. [80] The rebuke to the shepherds is without motivation if they are not somehow involved in a wrong for which they are rightly indicted by the goddesses as κάκ’ ἐλέγχεα (26). Their ‘moral blemish’ is their eager embrace of local poetry under the patronage of local elites, poetry that is now exposed as devoid of truth, a blemish depicted as a character defect that makes them complicit in the perpetuation of the ψεύδεα with which they are punitively inspired and for which they are held morally culpable. [81]
It is the comprehensive and fundamental transformation in the scope and function of Hesiod’s poetic activity that accounts for the details of his induction as a Panhellenic singer: he is taught noble song (καλὴν ἐδίδαξαν ἀοιδήν 22), receives the staff of authority (σκῆπτρον 30), and the goddesses breathe into him a voice that carries their divine imprimatur (αὐδὴν | θέσπιν 31–32). These are all conceived as new emblems of authority because they are Panhellenic and, therefore, true in absolute terms. [82] As a willing participant in the local song culture, Hesiod enjoyed none of these divine grants and privileges. Given the culture of reception fundamental to traditional poetry, it is also possible to envision him in a double role by turns, both as singer and as member of the audience. To the degree that later pastoral poetry traces its origins to the realities of Greek archaic culture, that is, to the cultural facts that motivated the choice of shepherds as the targets of the Muses’ reproach and of the particular shepherd Hesiod as the object of Panhellenic induction, one may well consider shepherds both as source and as promoters of the deprecated local poetry. [83] We shall never know for sure or in full what motivated the Muses’ election of a shepherd as addressee and inductee. Doubtless the setting is partly responsible: the Muses set out from Mount Helikon and it is at its foot that Hesiod the shepherd was tending his flock. I am not persuaded by Stoddard’s suggestion that the human condition is in view; [84] for, although the need for sustenance (of which ‘mere bellies!’ is emblematic) marks the distance that separates gods and men, it is hard to see the reason for the pointed choice of shepherds as opposed to any other (menial?) occupation. Only a prejudice against shepherds that the Works and Days belies might support this view; but even then, why should an occupation that is ex hypothesi denigrated provide a particularly suitable representation of the human condition? If one rejects this rationale, we are left with the coincidental Helikonian setting as the sole ostensible motivation. Neither does it seem that the Homeric figure of the ruler-shepherd (of Near-Eastern inspiration) stands behind the election. However much Theogony 80–103 implicitly elevates the status of the inspired singer to the near-equivalent of the ‘heaven-nourished βασιλεύς’ (who himself cuts a figure evocative of the singer’s) insofar as it weaves them together through kinship of function, the notion that Hesiod’s portrayal as a field-dwelling shepherd corresponds in actual fact or proleptically to a ruler seems far-fetched. [85] We are left, I believe, with only one plausible option: field-dwelling shepherds are chosen because they are emblematic of the ‘old’ economy of the Dark Age, which, even if not strictly pastoral in nature, still gave pastoralism a privileged role that it did not enjoy in the age of the archaic and classical polis. [86] Large-scale pastoralism that would call for the keeping of flocks in the hinterlands of settlements was associated, both in pre-archaic and archaic times, with elites whose place in the social contract of the polis was ever a focus of tension and constant renegotiation. [87] Thus, field-dwelling shepherds would readily stand not only for the rural end of the polarity that opposed countryside to urban settlement, [88] but also for the elites who would wish to retain control of the cultural authority of traditional performers. [89] Theirs is not the small-scale herd-keeping that is associated with the rise and development of the archaic and classical polis. [90] On the contrary, they emphatically live ἄγραυλοι (26), away from the stage on which Panhellenic forces of trade, travel, and professional itinerancy played out. [91] There is no overt reference to the polis in the Theogony—although the Works and Days has much to say about it—but it can hardly be coincidental that a natural route for the Muses to travel to Mount Olympos from the foot of Mount Helikon near Askra passes through Thespiai. [92]
Some writers, of whom Luther 1935 is representative, approach this passage by placing a false emphasis on the alleged ‘individuality’ of Hesiod vis-à-vis the anonymous ‘Homer.’ This is supposed to explain what they view as a radically new, reflective approach to truth and deceit, an approach that now, for the first time, would have problematized the truth-value of poetry, overcoming the identification of the Muses’ song with truth. [93] Thus, according to Wismann (1996:17), Hesiod distinguishes “fictive realities” (ψεύδεα, “réalités fictives”) that arise from a perfect imitation of “perceptible realities” (ἔτυμα, “réalités sensibles”) through the medium of language (λέγειν ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα) from “true realities” (ἀληθέα, “réalités vraies”) that seem to depend on a different linguistic register (γηρύσασθαι). Nothing, he adds, suggests that the Muses only reserve for him one half of their powers. Their statement, therefore, reflects no polemic opposition with any other poetry, but hints at the relationship between the speech registers of ‘fiction’ and ‘knowledge.’ Wismann is only one of an increasing number of interpreters who refer both ‘lies’ and ‘truth’ to Hesiod’s own poetic tradition. [94] Clay (2003:58) agrees: “I would draw attention to the hidden, even unconscious, prejudices that have influenced many commentators: Hesiod must be convinced of the absolute truth of his message and therefore his reference to ‘lies like the truth’ must refer to something outside his own text.” [95] The anachronistic frame of mind that underlies such views surfaces fully formed in Heiden’s remark: “As quoted by Hesiod in his Theogony, the Muses’ speech appears to broadcast a threat to listeners or readers who might find the Muses’ songs unbelievable and dismiss them as mere lies. A poet about to narrate how Cronus swallowed and regurgitated his children had good reason to worry that his stories would be deemed lies. Hesiod’s defense—or his Muses’ defense … [was to disavow] this very distinction [between truth and lies], perhaps hoping in this way to preempt and disable the predictable … criticism that his stories were lies” (Heiden 2007:171–172). [96]
In truth, commentators like Arrighetti 1992 (against whom Clay takes aim) are not unconsciously prejudiced. They understand that in a traditional song culture performative authority is of fundamental importance to its reception; and that in the culture of archaic Greece this authority was proportional to the perceived validity of its truth claims. The self-reflective epistemological discourse of distinctly postmodern flavor that these scholars ascribe to Hesiod is altogether out of place in his ancient cultural milieu and more at home with the armchair philosophers of the academic halls. The intimate connection between truth and performative authority in the traditional song culture of ancient Greece has been well documented. [97] It is transparently recognizable, for example, in the Homeric equation between divine inspiration and eyewitness testimony and in the polemical engagement of Xenophanes (fr. B1.22), Solon (fr. 29 W), Pindar (Nemean 7.20–27) [98] —and many others—with the truth and authority of poetry; and it underlies the characterization of traditional poetry in performance as the actualization of Memory. [99] Only a substantial discontinuity between the poetics of Homer and the poetics of Hesiod can hope to justify so great and novel a departure. In essence, this would mean that the conceptual cast of Hesiodic poetry was deeply untraditional, [100] a claim that is prima facie implausible given its utterly traditional form. [101] If the revisionary scholarship is right, the genealogy of Hesiodic Ψεύδεα is more than a little puzzling (Theogony 226–232); [102] and one might well insist that verse 27 should have preceded 26: that the Muses know how to proclaim the truth should have been the foil against which to make the revolutionary claim that they also know how to tell narrative fictions—fictive narratives that the Theogony (in part or in full) is said to illustrate. Against all such interpretive subtleties Koning 2010 offers a salutary correction. [103]
I must briefly address two philological arguments often adduced in support of the views criticized above. One concerns the alleged opposition between ἔτυμα and ἀληθέα; the other, the meaning of ὁμοῖα. It has become fashionable to recast Theogony 27–28 as an opposition between two types of truth: one, experiential (ἔτυμα), the other, verbal (ἀληθέα). Wismann (1996:18) puts it most succinctly: “Si ἔτυμον désigne, en accord avec l’étymologie (cf. ἐτάζω), une réalité susceptible d’être vérifiée par un critère objectif et quasiment ‘expérimental’, ἀληθές, au contraire, évoque une réalité qui n’est pas vérifiable par un critère extérieur, mais qui s’impose immédiatement à la conscience.” Central to this claim is that these two adjectives articulate an epistemological polarity: ἔτυμα may be apprehended by ‘experimental observation,’ whereas ἀληθέα are unverifiable and propositional. Wismann’s added comment that the latter force themselves immediately upon the conscience is his own attempt to reformulate Krischer 1965, the basis of all these readings. I think that this formulation is profoundly misconceived. A full refutation would lead me too far afield and I can only offer a brief critique. But note that all these approaches shift the explicit terms of the opposition from ψεύδεα vs. ἀληθέα to ἔτυμα vs. ἀληθέα. [104] This is only valid, of course, when one identifies ψεύδεα and ἔτυμα, as Heiden 2007, for example, does. Although I can only accept Krischer’s article with significant reservations—I believe he oversimplifies the data and, like others, psychologizes them unduly—he is right to emphasize the connection that archaic poetry establishes between speech and ἀληθέα. [105] The proper approach, however, is not to psychologize the etymology, [106] but to take account of the verbal context in which it is used as a clue to its meaning and origin. I submit that the genesis of ἀληθής and ἀληθείη is not to be found in a general psychological need by the archaic populace for a special term that would mark verbal truthfulness; nor in narrow philosophical circles who made epistemological reflection their business. I submit that their emergence is to be located in the ambit of rhapsodes, i.e. itinerant performers of traditional poetry self-conscious of their social function as repositories and activators of cultural memory. This origin is to be traced to their double (and truly paradoxical) function as agents of Mnēmosynē who both resist the forces of Forgetfulness (Λήθη Theogony 227) yet also bring forgetfulness of cares through their singing (λησμοσύνη κακῶν Theogony 55). The rhapsode’s selection of what was worth preserving out of the sum total of current mythoi known to him and his perpetuation of this repertoire in performance can only have sharpened his self-consciousness as a key cultural agent; [107] doubtless the diffusion of this material through his itinerancy must have brought him in contact with potentially conflicting variants that would have sharply problematized the veracity, and hence the authority, of the rival tellings. It is in this polemical context of verbal truthfulness peculiar to the itinerant traditional performer who stakes a claim for the authority of his singing that the semantic contours of ἀληθής and ἀληθείη were delineated.
My account of their origin, if conjectural, enjoys several advantages over the psychological etymologies advanced by previous scholars: first, it provides a plausible cultural motivation—the performance of traditional poetry—and cultural agent—the rhapsode—for their coinage; second, it explains their fundamental verbal orientation—they were coined to characterize the telling of the rhapsode; third, it accounts for their polemical associations—narrative multiforms problematized the truthfulness, and hence authority, that alone secures the favorable audience reception inherent to traditional poetry; fourth, it justifies the curious choice (otherwise inexplicable without implausibly and self-consciously psychologizing the epistemology of perception) of a derivative of *lāth- (‘to escape notice’, ‘to overlook’, and hence ‘to forget’) for ‘truth’ and ‘truthful’—making the ‘memorable’ and ‘unforgettable’ the authoritative repertoire of the rhapsode as the cultural agent of Memory; and, fifth, it is fully consistent with the semantic implications of the earliest contexts in which the word family is used, especially where this use rises plainly from ordinary narrative to the explicitly metapoetic. Such are the loci cited above: Theogony 227, where Λήθη heads the list of entities born of Strife and Toil that bring about the dissolution of civilized society and is, in retrospect not unsurprisingly given Theogony 27–28, the sibling of Ψεύδεα; [108] and Theogony 55, where we are reminded that Mnēmosynē birthed the Olympian Muses to be the forgetfulness of evils, a reminder that the actualization of cultural Memory that takes place in the performance of traditional poetry inexorably entails a corresponding neglect, a turning away of one’s mind, from other subjects—here, the evils and cares of ordinary living that pointedly become the theme of the Muses’ song in the Hymn to Apollo 190–193. [109]
Levet (1976:16) objects to treating the conceptual link between λήθη and ἀληθείη as primary and hence as etymologically productive. [110] As often with this scholar, his meaning is less than perspicuous. Although he accepts a relationship between truth and forgetting, this ‘forgetting’ is fundamentally a kind of ignorance: “à la différence de la λήθη, cet oubli est intérieur au sujet lui-même et passif: c’est le *λῆθος, sur le nom duquel est bâti l’adjectif ἀληθής” (16). The conjectured *λῆθος is supposed to have disappeared already by Hesiod’s time, if not Homer’s, from all the Greek dialects. [111] Apparently, the point of his distinction between λήθη and *λῆθος is to expand the semantic field of ἀληθής so as to imply (through its negation) the psychology of λανθάνω, the failure to notice. Thus, he opposes limiting its scope to the middle λανθάνομαι, ‘to forget’, which he deems too constraining. Luther (1935:11–12) adopted a similar stance and resorted directly to the root *lādh- because it embraced the sense of both the active and the middle. Only, believing that its ground meaning was ‘unhiddenness’ (“Unverborgenheit”)—a property of things—Luther did not endorse Bultmann’s etymology ἀ + λῆθος, based on Leo Meyer, who had taken λῆθος as “verheimlichendes Täuschen” and *ἀ-λῆθος as “ohne verheimlichendes Täuschen.” Levet, in turn, goes back to a subjective sense and finds the textually attested link with λήθη unhelpful. To be sure, he acknowledges the occasional etymological play the relates memory, forgetfulness, and truth. [112] He grants it, for example, at Theogony 226–232, with qualifications at Theogony 233–236, and often elsewhere, but he seems keenly exercised to deny any linguistic reality to the echo between λήθη, ἀληθέα, and λήθεται. For him, this echo is mere rhetorical wordplay. [113] It is not clear to me whether, and in what sense, Levet deems λήθη external or active, [114] unless he takes a view of it similar to the one I am offering here—λήθη as the negative facet of the memorializing poetic tradition—a scenario that seems to me improbable. More nuanced is his recent attempt to revisit this argument. Although he continues to insist that ἀληθής is not to be etymologically related to λήθη but to the conjectured *λῆθος, he correctly observes that the meaning of λήθη is more multifaceted than mere ‘forgetfulness’ (Levet 2008:19). I agree with this and add that the metapoetic dimension (λήθη as a facet of the poetic tradition in performance) is crucial for a right understanding of it. In this sense, I can embrace Levet’s gloss for ἀληθείη as “le non-voilé-dévoilant” (20), a gloss that overlaps with Vernant’s study of the Muses of traditional poetry as the daughters of performative Mnēmosynē. [115] If one bears this in mind, it is not hard to understand the conceptual nexus that brings together in Theogony 233–236 ἀψευδέα, ἀληθέα, νημερτής, λήθεται, and οἶδεν. [116] As a traditional ‘Master of sea animals’ figure, [117] Nereus rules the sea in good Hesiodic fashion (cf. Theogony 80–92), i.e. by the performance of authoritative speech. Thus, he is called ἀληθής because he embodies and espouses an authoritative poetic tradition. Since this poetic tradition concerns justice, he is said not to forget authoritative ordinances (οὐδὲ θεμίστων | λήθεται) and (in parallel fashion) to know just and propitious counsels (δίκαια καὶ ἤπια δήνεα οἶδεν). In view of his divine knowledge, characteristically comprehensive, his speech carries oracular associations, and therefore, as to its unerring and truthful nature, he is predictably proclaimed ἀψευδής and νημερτής. [118]
To come to Levet’s contention that ἀληθής must be derived from the conjectural *λῆθος whose sense is other than the one attested by λήθη, one must point out that his claim is doubly vulnerable. First, because, even if it were true, it does not establish his point that there is a semantic distinction between λήθη and *λῆθος. [119] The latter is conjectured for the archaic period from an a priori belief that ἀληθής must reflect a derivation from an s-stem noun. λᾶθος is attested in Hesykhios Λ no. 95 s.v. λάθει, whose gloss ἀκηδίᾳ cannot, without further context, clarify the matter at issue; and in Theokritos 23.24, [120] which, with LSJ s.v., should be deemed the equivalent of λήθη: [121] the lover despairs of quenching his longing—i.e. of forgetting the object of his desire—even if he should drain the potion. Forgetfulness, explicit for him and implicit for the youth, is entailed, with a hint that death will be the ultimate realization of λᾶθος. At any rate, all this focus on a hypothetical archaic *λῆθος is misguided, for there are other more plausible derivations that do not require belief in the complete disappearance from the record of the alleged *λῆθος and its unaccountable replacement by a λήθη ex hypothesi of somewhat different sense. [122] Risch (1974:81 §31g) derives ἀληθής directly from λήθω, just as ἀσφαλής is from σφάλλω. [123] Chantraine (1933:23 §18) agrees, noting that the feminine suffix was used for deverbatives (here, for λήθη) irrespective of the vocalism of the verbal root. And Schwyzer illustrates well enough the array of deverbative adjectives in -ης, although he (implausibly) maintains that ἀληθής belonged with “verdunkelte Komposita” perceived as a “Simplizia”: “Schon für hom. εὐῆρες ἐυρρεής ἐυστρεφής φιλομμειδής braucht man keine *ἄρος usw. anzusetzen.” [124] Hence, there is no compulsion to accept Levet’s insistence upon the conjectural *λῆθος, and a rhapsodic deverbative coinage of ἀληθής, close to λήθη in its metapoetic implications, seems to me the most likely scenario and the hypothesis that best fits the record.
To return to the kind of contrast that is allegedly drawn in Theogony 27–28 between ἔτυμα and ἀληθέα, it is important to challenge the supposed epistemological opposition often inferred from it. I admit that there is a semantic difference between these words: ἔτυμος is the unmarked term that applies indifferently to anything that is, to any component of reality insofar as it exists in actual fact or is claimed or assumed to exist. It therefore qualifies things as much as verbal utterances. The latter are reckoned as true in that they reflect reality (or, in a stronger sense, even bring it about). The verbally marked term is ἀληθής, which only in the exceptional case of Μ 433—considered textually suspect by some—is found as the attribute of something other than speech. [125] Snell’s observation that ἀληθής is never applied to divine speech in Homer is only to be expected. [126] For, in drawing attention to the truthfulness of the utterance, it would polemically suggest by implication the possibility that it might not, in fact, reflect the truth. With regard to the Muses, this is beyond the conceptual horizon of Homeric poetry and, as noted above, first appears in the polemical context of the claims to Panhellenic status by Hesiodic theogonic poetry. ἐτεόν and ἔτυμον are used for (the content of) an utterance that corresponds to reality. At Β 299–300, for example, Odysseus bids the Akhaians wait and subject to the test of time the truthfulness of Kalkhas’ interpretation of the omen of the serpent at Aulis. To the extent that truthful speech has a bearing on reality, one may find in actual experience a measure of confirmation. This is not the exclusive property of ἔτυμα but also pertains to ἀληθέα to whatever degree it impacts the here and now of the audience. Scholars who argue otherwise base their logic on the thematic content of the Theogony, which is purported to be beyond the ken of mortal man. [127] But this all too easily dismisses the often aetiological import of the poem: for example in its claim that the stone that Kronos swallowed in Zeus’ place was the one displayed in Delphi, which could still be seen in Pausanias’ day; [128] or in its plain attempt to motivate the Panhellenic outlines of sacrificial practices in the worship of the Olympian gods. [129] This scholarly stance vis-à-vis the contents of the Theogony reveals an inadequate understanding of the temporal dimensions and implications of mantic and prophetic speech. Archaic epic concerns itself with the past as the grounds for present realities and the seed of future developments. [130] This is the sense in which Kalkhas’ purview embraces the past, present, and future. [131]
The converse of this argument is to assert that in the Works and Days Hesiod does not depend on the Muses for his material and performance (or does not depend on them to the same degree as in the Theogony). To make this point, Clay (2003:104) draws attention to the use of ἐτήτυμα in Works and Days 10, where Hesiod declares, ἐγὼ δέ κε Πέρσῃ ἐτήτυμα μυθησαίμην. She takes the choice of diction as a pointed avoidance of ἀληθέα that is fraught with epistemological implications. [132] Her argument, further developed by Stoddard (2004:80–84), [133] is that the subject matter of the Works and Days belongs to the ordinary experience of the audience and does not call for revelatory inspiration. [134] But this argument neglects a fundamental fact: that in the Works and Days the goal of the performer is to reveal to his audience the implications of Zeus’ eternal rule of justice for the workings of the polis, both in its institutional administration of justice and in the rhythms and practices that inform the lives and activities of its citizens (both brought under the umbrella of cosmic δίκη). Hesiod goes beyond the pose of the wise teacher, whose years of experience lead him to conclude that he has seen it all and there is nothing new under heaven. Rather, he is taught by the Muses to explicate the mind of Zeus to his hearers. His predictive teaching at Works and Days 176–201, his riddling αἶνος at 202–212, his privileged knowledge of Zeus’ watchers at 252–255, his instruction to the farmer, [135] his disapproval of ignorance at 824 [136] —all these are instrumental to his revelatory performance. In essence, Hesiod draws back the curtain that might hinder a clear view of the divine underpinnings of the experience that man has of his own world. [137] By its effect at least, his performance recalls Elisha’s prayer to open the eyes of his servant, in order that he might see the horses and chariots of fire protecting them from the king of Syria (2 Kings 6:15–17). [138] The epistemological contrast allegedly entailed by the performer’s respective recourse to ἀληθέα in the Theogony and ἐτήτυμα in the Works and Days is sometimes reformulated as the parallel claim that in the latter poem Hesiod exhibits a degree of autonomy from the Muses at variance with his dependence upon them in the Theogony. But this seems untenable in the face of his emphatic reliance upon the goddesses in the Nautilia (Works and Days 618–694). There, he avers that his didactic authority within the scope of his divine charge is undiminished by the absence of personal experience and professional skill (σεσοφισμένος) [139] because the Muses have taught him his song (the vehicle for his teaching). [140] The text clearly establishes that, as regards its inspiration or the nature of the performer’s authority, the Nautilia is not an ostentatious exception to the rule. It is rather an explicit statement of what is elsewhere tacitly the case. For, as he rounds up his introduction to the section, Hesiod grounds his authority in the wondrous hymn the Muses have taught him to sing (Works and Days 662), a hymn whose subject matter he calls ‘the mind of aegis-bearing Zeus’ (Works and Days 661). These two assertions are designed to recall the poem’s opening hymn to Zeus, in which the Muses celebrate their father Zeus (Works and Days 1–2); indeed, verses 3–9 are a hymnic summary of Zeus’ mind, whose essential concern is justice and the administration of justice in the world of men. [141] The justice of Zeus underlies the fabric of the cosmos and encompasses the rhythms of farming (Works and Days 483–484) as much as the calendar for sailing. This state of affairs is just as one might have expected it, for the poem sets out to explore how Zeus’ δίκη informs the workings of the cosmos, seen from the perspective of the archaic (and classical) Greek polis and its citizens. That the Nautilia fits within this larger context and does not call for exceptional inspiration or an anomalous source of authority seems further confirmed by its programmatic nature and its centrality to the poem’s architecture (at least in its canonical form), a fact generally recognized by scholars. [142]
One other example suffices to dispute Clay’s and Stoddard’s insistence on drawing from Works and Days 10 epistemological implications for the poem’s subject matter. In Works and Days 814–818 Hesiod observes, ‘few know that the thrice-ninth day is the best of the month for starting a wine-jar and putting the yoke on the neck of oxen, mules, and swift-footed horses; and for dragging the swift boat of many benches to the wine-dark sea’. And he closes by asserting that ‘few call things truthfully’ (παῦροι δέ τ’ ἀληθέα κικλήσκουσιν 818). [143] Regarding the use of ἀληθέα, West (1978a:362) writes: “[M]ost people presumably called it τετρὰς φθίνοντος, as Hesiod himself has done in 798. The idea that τρισεινάς is ‘truer’ implies that the number itself has an intrinsic relation to the day’s properties.” Note that West’s eminently plausible comment is contextually grounded and does not hinge on an alleged contrast between ἀληθής and ἔτυμον or ἐτήτυμον; [144] but it serves all the same to deconstruct the harsh epistemological dichotomy between the Theogony and the Works and Days as regards subject matter, a dichotomy that with the support of Clay, Stoddard, and others has recently gained currency. As if to round the argument against it, West further adds that “in later Greek τὸ ἔτυμον, ‘etymology’, judged not by historical criteria but by its ability to illuminate the inner nature of the thing” (1978a:362). For traditional epic, this power to illuminate is divinely granted, it transcends man’s ordinary ken, however wise with years (note that Hesiod’s age is never at issue), and it is precisely the revelatory charge the performer undertakes when he promises to tell Perses ‘true things’ (ἐτήτυμα μυθησαίμην Theogony 10). [145] The choice of ἐτήτυμα over against ἀληθέα is readily explained by the non-polemical focus of the statement: its point is not the veracity of Hesiod’s telling but its correspondence with reality. His speech reveals how things really are. The performing seer discloses to his audience the true workings of the world around them and explains how the underlying divine order of the rule of Zeus shapes its present operations and future course. Insofar as ἀληθέα, as the marked term, remained tied to verbal utterances, ἐτήτυμα was the natural choice to apply to their real-world referents. Had the truthfulness of the utterance been at issue, we should have expected ἀληθέα instead. The Hymn to Demeter illustrates the distinction well. Verses 44–45 inform us that no one, god or man, was willing to tell Demeter what had happened to her daughter (τῇ δ’ οὔ τις ἐτήτυμα μυθήσασθαι | ἤθελεν οὔτε θεῶν οὔτε θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων). [146] Here, the alternative to speaking is silence, not lying. At 121, however, Demeter lies about her identity even as she asserts the truth of her words: ἐγὼ δ’ ὑμῖν μυθήσομαι· οὔ τοι ἀεικὲς | ὑμῖν εἰρομένῃσιν ἀληθέα μυθήσασθαι. [147] The choice of ἀληθέα is ironic and pointed. [148] Epic’s recourse to ἀληθής is natural either where the veracity of an utterance is at issue, implicitly or explicitly, or where the narrative telling of a character has the metapoetic potential to blend with the authoritative telling of the traditional performer as the agent of cultural memory. The vocabulary of remembrance and forgetfulness is highly specific to each Indo-European language. For example, Latin obliviscor, ‘to forget’, is a metaphor arguably borrowed from the monumentalizing effected by formal (probably epigraphic) writing. [149] And, in contrast to the ancient Greek usage, sometimes it is not remembering but lying that a IE dialect associates with marked mental activity. Such is precisely the case with Latin mentior.
I must address now one other point that might be taken to support the specious epistemological argument that wedges ἀληθέα from ἔτυμα. It is the notion that Theogony 27 (ἴδμεν ψεύδεα πολλὰ λέγειν ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα) proves ἔτυμα to be non-revelatory, for otherwise their comparison with ψεύδεα presupposed by this verse could not take place. Even when the conclusion is not drawn explicitly in these terms, this view underlies much of the scholarly commentary on the passage. It is implied, for example, by those who claim that the verification of the ἀληθέα of Theogony 28 is beyond the power of man, whose purview is ‘earthly things’ alone (which ἔτυμα are supposed to be). When scholars of this persuasion observe that the register of speech denoted by γηρύσασθαι differs from that of λέγειν, they do not have in mind (as I would) a different authority but altogether a different epistemology. [150] Are their views sound? I submit that the answer is a qualified ‘no.’ What is the meaning of the statement that the Muses know how to tell ‘lies’ (to use the customary translation of ψεύδεα) that are ‘like etuma’? [151] Does it imply that, at least in principle, ἔτυμα are fully under the epistemological control of mortals and that, insofar as the goddesses make known ἔτυμα and like ψεύδεα, mortals can therefore subject that kind of divine inspiration to their own independent judgment, only to find its content plausible because it is consistent with their ordinary experience of the world? Thus posed, these questions tacitly exclude the very relevant fact that the ‘ordinary’ experience of mortal man also comprehends religious ‘facts’ and religious teachings, formal and informal, that he has internalized from his youth. Such propositional content shapes his worldview, prompts his ritual action, and gives rise to interpretive frameworks and standards of plausibility that structure his understanding of the world around him. Measured against these epistemological filters, plausibility turns out to have a notable ‘supernatural’ component, taking ‘supernatural’ in the sense of ‘above and beyond what the ordinary worldview would readily account for without the explicit involvement of τὸ δαιμόνιον.’ The notion that ‘reality’ can be immediately apprehended and readily interpreted by an exclusive recourse to ordinary (naturalistic or, as some might call it, practical) experience is simplistic. Aetiologies that explain striking topographic features or important rituals would make for the kind of σήματα that lend plausibility to the epic narrative. By the logic of the argument, local theogonies that made use of them but were otherwise in conflict with Hesiod’s Panhellenic version should be ascribed to the Muses’ inspiration of ψεύδεα … ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα. This does not, of course, mean that an appeal to naturalistic facts or ordinary (naturalistic) experience would be able to expose them as lies. By the same token, Hesiod’s use of aetiologies in his Panhellenic Theogony does not per se prove that the contents of his poem are or are not ἀληθέα unmixed with ψεύδεα. In Hesiod’s polemic with local poetry, his point is that other performers tell lies which hitherto have been inappropriately taken as authoritative only because they were superficially plausible in some way. This lying inspiration is to be traced to the punitive pleasure of the Muses. In the end, the absolute truthfulness on which the traditional authority of the Hesiodic performer depends is secured by Hesiod’s Dichterweihe alone, and it must rise and fall with the credence the audience gives to it. Overall narrative plausibility, that is, the performer’s successful accommodation of foundational elements of the worldview of his audience, is a necessary but not sufficient condition for his authority, and this agreement in essentials gives him the room to challenge the hearers elsewhere. Yet, ultimately, as the marked term for truthful utterance, ἀληθέα must seek to persuade by dint of the speaker’s authority.
Standards of plausibility are also in view in the famous Odyssean verse whose phraseology recalls Theogony 27: ἴσκε ψεύδεα πολλὰ λέγων ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα (τ 203). [152] During Penelope’s lengthy interview with Odysseus, disguised as a beggar (τ 107–307), the hero tells his wife a celebrated Cretan lie that, as Levaniouk (2000:47) writes, “keeps remarkably close to the truth on this occasion.” The verse in question prepares the audience for Penelope’s tearful reaction (τ 204–209) to news of Aithon’s (Odysseus’ nomen loquens) alleged encounter with her husband. Whereas her interlocutor makes up his Cretan lineage—the specific target of Penelope’s question at τ 162–163—he buttresses the plausibility of his answer with details about the island of Crete and her inhabitants. [153] But as a summary characterization of the hero’s tales, τ 203 does not merely regard the immediately preceding exchange but also looks forward to the developments that follow. These focus on Penelope’s testing of the beggar’s veracity: ‘Now indeed I think I will test you, stranger, | whether it is really true that there, with his godlike companions, | you entertained in your halls my husband, as you are declaring’. [154] She then challenges Aithon to describe Odysseus’ clothing, his manner, and his comrades. He fulfills her request with an elaborate description that stirs her emotions deeply ‘as she recognized the signs (σήματα) which Odysseus accurately exhibited’ (τ 250). It is important to mark in passing the visual implications of both σῆμα [155] and φράζω, implications that undermine Heiden’s challenge to ‘resembling’ vel sim. as the prevailing translation of ὁμοῖα in Theogony 27 (on which see immediately below). The narrative firmly establishes τ 203 in the context of plausible and persuasive deception.
Not so, argues Heiden 2007, who would want to render ψεύδεα … ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα in Theogony 27 as “lies equivalent to truth” with ὁμοῖος as “equivalent with respect to quality” (153). His point is that Hesiod preempts criticism of his Theogony by disavowing from the start the very distinction between truth and lie: “The Muses’ statement that they told ‘lies equivalent to truth’ claimed some of truth’s authority for the poet’s stories whether they were lies or not” (172). According to Heiden, the use of ἔτυμα in verse 27 parallels the use of ἀληθέα in 28: “Theog. 27–28 offer little or nothing to discourage a listener from supposing that ἐτύμοισιν and ἀληθέα are synonymous” (171n46). But the text is structured as a contrast between ψεύδεα πολλὰ λέγειν and ἀληθέα γηρύσασθαι, a contrast that would be largely effaced if ψεύδεα are fictions intended by the performer to bear the same cultural authority and epistemological validity as ἀληθέα. Why then the contrast between λέγειν and γηρύσασθαι? Not to mention that the vocabulary of pseudo- words, both in Homer and Hesiod, is tinged with moral condemnation. [156] Moreover, Theogony 28 would then seem otiose. According to Heiden, the Muses would be saying: “We know how to tell many fictions with the force of truth; and we know, when willing, how to tell truths.” But if the fictions are “as good as truth” (Heiden’s gloss at 171), why add the statement in verse 28? What would be the significance of their telling truths at all? They might as well tell only fictions as good as truths and be done. On Heiden’s hypothesis, rather than the climax of an opposition, Theogony 28 seems an afterthought added for the sake of completion with little practical effect. It would be otherwise if a mixture of lies and truths were alleged—lies, ineffectual and without authority; but truths calling for acquiescence and credence. Then, neither verse would be otiose and sifting the wheat from the chaff would face the audience with a real conundrum.
Heiden’s argument cannot succeed. He has not understood the meaning of the Muses, as his calling ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα, on the traditional understanding, “merely pleonastic” and “anomalous” shows (Heiden 2007:169). On the same page he also calls the proposition “tautological.” But there is nothing otiose about it. Its point is to account for what may well have come as a rude shock to the archaic audience: Hesiod’s Olympian Muses disown local poets and demote as lying inspiration what is bound to have hitherto enjoyed authority and prestige with the hearers. How was this possible? It was possible because the ‘lies’ were irresistible, invincibly compelling in their divinely crafted plausibility. [157] Not all lies are created equal: some are readily spotted. In the face of a Panhellenic challenge, why local poetry should have been so well received begs for an explanation. And what to make of the invocation of Muses by local poets? And of the texture of epichoric narratives, similar in type and form to the subject matter of Hesiod’s own Theogony, but narratives that, this fact notwithstanding, Hesiod now implies the audience is to cast aside as false? These are the facts that render Theogony 26–28 of fundamental consequence for the efficacy of Hesiodic traditional poetry. There is nothing pleonastic, anomalous, or tautological here.
But more narrowly to the philological point Heiden espouses: we may well accept his gloss for ὁμοῖος as “equivalent to X in respect of Y” (or, in a less cumbersome formulation, “like X in Y”), but this hardly decides, as he thinks, the meaning of Theogony 27. Once we agree that the identity of ‘Y’ is to be inferred from the context, why should one grant that this ‘Y’ is ‘didactic value’? The thrust of Heiden’s argument entails that the ψεύδεα are “as good as truth” in that under the proper hermeneutic principles they yield sound truth. [158] But why should we accept this arbitrary choice for ‘Y’? This strikes me as an implausibly anachronistic imposition upon the early archaic world by an age accustomed to distinguish the ‘higher’ truths that narrative imparts from its status as history or fiction. Heiden seems unaware that his ‘Y’ is neither contextually necessary nor natural, merely an assumption that must itself be judged on its merits. None of the parallels he adduces serve to establish his conclusion. Whether other examples of ὁμοῖος involved or not confusion between the object equated and the corresponding ‘X’ is only partly to the point, although here too Heiden has overstated his case. [159] What matters is what the context might reasonably lead us to infer as ‘Y.’ In the context of lying inspiration and the authority of traditional poetry, I submit that the consensus understanding, which makes ‘Y’ their prima facie plausibility, i.e. the persuasiveness on which such authority hinged, is eminently reasonable and much the best contextual choice. Archaic epic poetry makes clear that this persuasiveness was deemed a function of the subject matter’s factual veracity. Only with the ascendancy of intellectual elites who challenged the cultural preeminence of Homeric and Hesiodic epic were allegory and other approaches to legitimizing their canonical status developed, approaches that did not rely on an explicit or implicit claim to historical factuality. Heiden is right, then: the ψεύδεα of the Muses are ‘equivalent to actually true things’, not ‘in respect of the validity of their teaching’ but ‘in respect of their plausibility and persuasiveness.’ The Muses delegitimize and deauthorize what the audience has long considered inspired poetry, not by claiming that it is uninspired—its formal kinship with Panhellenic poetry and kindred thematic typology would have effectively blocked this approach—but by qualifying its inspiration as without validity, ineffective—that is, ‘false’.
Heiden aims at the wrong target when he criticizes the gloss ‘like, resembling’ in LSJ s.v. ὁμοῖος: “Cases where ὁμοῖος does denote appearance [in early epic Greek] are not rare. But even in these instances the shared appearance is not usually—if it is ever—a matter of close or deceptive resemblance between two things” (Heiden 2007:158). The scholar overlooks that the potential deceptiveness of the Muses inheres in the terms of comparison, i.e. in the equivalence of ψεύδεα and ἔτυμα, not in the relational ὁμοῖα that links them. To carry conviction, Heiden must independently establish 1) that in the mouth of the Muses ψεύδεα could intelligibly designate morally indifferent fictions; 2) that such fictions could reasonably be expected to gain the acceptance of archaic Greek audiences for their didactic value; and 3) that these audiences can be plausibly assumed to have extracted the ‘true’ teaching embedded in these fictive narratives by applying to them highly symbolic hermeneutic principles. Heiden’s article does not meet the burden of proof nor will the evidence support it. The language of τ 203, to which I have already drawn attention above, confirms that at issue in the Muses’ words is the plausibility of their inspiration, which, justifiably or not, imparts conviction and the sanction of authority to traditional poetry and invests its performer with consequent credibility. The asyndeton of this verse underlines the semantic development within the epic system of diction undergone by ἴσκε, doubtless from ἐίσκω. In this regard, it is analogous to the Latin verb fingo, which from ‘to shape or mold’ develops the acceptations “to modify the expression of (a face), tone of (a voice) … to assume, take on (a new attitude or sim.),” “to adapt (one’s actions, words, situation, etc.),” and “[t]o make (one’s expression, language, etc.) false or hypocritical” (so the OLD s.v. 4c, 5b, and 10a). The analogy is even closer if Beekes (2010:1.435) is right to suggest that the underlying IE root *weik-, of uncertain meaning, denotes ‘to be fitting’. [160] The newer ske-present ἰσκω (from the also new formation ἐίσκω = *ϝε-ϝίκ-σκω, but shedding the reduplication from ἔοικα) [161] would then mean ‘to fit or adapt’, the acceptation 5b in the OLD for fingo. Because the imperfect ἴσκε (=fingebat), used absolutely, would serve to round up a speech in the manner of ὡς ἔφατο vel sim.—how did he speak? he feigned—it encouraged asyndeta and is in fact only attested asyndetically in Homeric diction. [162] But this should not obscure the fact that in τ 203 the meaning and syntax of ἴσκε is only one step away from those attested for the ordinary factitive ἐίσκω, ‘to liken X (acc.) to Y (dat.)’ (LfgE s.v. ἔοικα I.4). [163] The best translation, then, is ‘he was feigning, telling many lies like actual things’. For ‘feigning’ in the sense of ‘inventing [a story]’ one might substitute ‘simulating’; or the sharper ‘dissimulating’, which brings out Odysseus’ veering from the truth by combining true and false in a plausible mixture. [164] The plausibility that derives from the overall effect (what one might, in the abstract, call the ‘appearance’ of the lies, i.e. how the ψεύδεα appear to the mind’s eye) can be soundly expressed by the translation that Heiden deprecates: “Thus he made the many falsehoods of his tale seem like the truth” (so Murray in his Loeb translation, my emphasis). [165]
One final argument to be refuted is Levet’s insistence (approved by Simondon 1982:113) that ψεύδεα cannot be the opposite of ἀληθέα on the grounds of the coordinate ψεύδονται and οὐδ’ ἐθέλουσιν ἀληθέα μυθήσασθαι in ξ 125 (Levet 1976:82–83). [166] This oversubtle reading ignores the possibility of emphasis through antithetical parallelism and seems to assume for the Homeric text the economy of a terse philosophical treatise. What would this view, which is not true to Homeric style, make of Aphrodite’s statement, ‘I am not a goddess … but a mortal’? [167] If one were to insist on extracting additional information from the second clause of ξ 125, ἐθέλουσιν might provide firmer ground for an argument. Although its meaning can be so weak as to indicate little more than future occurrence, i.e. ‘they will not tell the truth’, it might also point to the interlocutors’ unwillingness to answer truthfully the follow-up questions that Penelope would pose to them in conversation: ‘They lie and [when asked by Penelope] are not willing to tell [her] the truth’. One such probing question is precisely in view at τ 215–219. The sequence of tale-telling and questioning is made explicit in the ensuing verses: ‘Whoever in his wanderings comes to the land of Ithaca goes to my mistress and tells a deceitful tale (ἀπατήλια βάζει). And after welcoming him, she offers him hospitality and inquires about each particular (ἕκαστα μεταλλᾷ)’ (ξ 126–128).
The philosophical musings I have reviewed in this section and their oversubtle hermeneutics all depend on the problematic notion that Hesiod was as an exceptional thinker, well ahead of his times, anomalous in his conviction of the inherently fictive nature of mythic narrative and its capacity to articulate truth. But the individuality that underlies the claims of exceptionality has been overemphasized, and it has to do more with the distinctive character of this poetic tradition than with an individual self-awareness or self-disclosure. [168] Luther (1935:123n1) misreads the Iliadic narrator’s dependence on the Muse as insufficiency, and Hesiod’s remark as self-sufficiency that reduces the opening hymn to a mere literary convention. [169] Not so; in truth, the real distinction is the slender biographical schema that frames the Works and Days as Hesiod’s instruction to his brother Perses. This hardly exceeds the bounds of an undeveloped poetic persona, and the real innovation is that it belongs at all in the tradition and serves to articulate its authority in the presentation of its didactic poetry. This third-person identification of Hesiod, which takes place in line 22 of the hymnic προοίμιον that opens the Theogony (1–35), can only be construed as a departure from the greater ‘anonymity’ of the Homeric poems if we consider the latter strictly without their own προοίμια. [170] But it is analogous to the function the Hymn to Apollo 157–178 would have performed as a προοίμιον to the Iliad or the Odyssey, especially if we accept Nagy’s suggestion [171] that the Delian Maidens are the local Muses of Delos. [172] It is important that we view the particular use the Homeric and Hesiodic traditions make of their respective archetypal authors not as a biographical curiosity, but as fulfilling a traditional function within their own particular genres, whether a historical core can be recognized or not. Even West, who thinks that the mention of Hesiod’s name in the Theogony occurs “out of simple pride” (1966:161) and that in the Works and Days “Hesiod goes out of his way to be informative about himself and his family” because he is “anxious … for us to know these things” (1978a:33), must ultimately admit that Perses (his interlocutor brother and complementary ‘personality’) “is a changeable figure” whose biographical details are sometimes “invented for the purposes of argument” (1978a:40). In the agonistic engagement of the Hesiodic theogony with other local theogonic traditions as it made its bid for Panhellenic status, the opposition between them could not be marked generically (for the polemic was not directed against a different genre, e.g. heroic epic); neither could it be marked by geography, for this would have worked against its Panhellenic drive; [173] it is left, then, to divine election, to the particular favor showed by the Muses to ‘Hesiod’ the individual, to mark the tradition of poetry he represents as true over against all others. Whereas the truth of Hesiodic poetry is a function of Hesiod’s authorization by the Muses (his authority stems from his initiation), in its earliest stages the truth of the Homeric tradition would have been located notionally in the quoted speech of the Muses, without the interposition of the individual ‘Homer,’ whom later generations credited with the authorship of its poems. [174]
The polemical engagement with the tradition remained even after the locus of authority had shifted into the hands of the archetypal Homer; but rival multiforms were now assailed as illegitimate insertions (ἐμποιεῖν) of foreign material into the fixed, notional whole that was his oeuvre (just what, according to Herodotos 7.6.3, Onomakritos was accused of doing ἐς τὰ Μουσαίου); or, if the confrontation was with widely received Homeric oral tradition—as, for example, with Pindar’s assertion that Odysseus’ reputation had been exaggerated at the expense of Ajax’ (Nemean 7.20–23)—the strategy was to relativize the authority of the tradition by ascribing it not to quoted divine speech but to a manipulative composer or one carried away by his superior skill: here the rhetoric of the indictment would divorce technical skill from the piety that had traced it to the Muse (remember Μελέτη, p. 211 above); with such a break the truthfulness of the song was greatly undercut.
It is important to realize and affirm that the shift from the Muse to Homer was facilitated by the notional fixity of the poetic tradition. The bard’s song had once been considered sacral speech, the quoted utterance of the Muse, a veritable speech-act that retold what was, what is, and what is to come—matters that relate to the unchanging order of the cosmos and to events fixed, whether by the record of the past or by the necessity of divine will and prophetic insight. Now, according to the new perspective, Homer—inheriting the conceptual fixity built into the tradition—was said to have sung one thing but not another, and a guild of rhapsodes devoted to the semi-official control and arbitration of the tradition became conceivable, with a corresponding store of ‘unpublished’ ἔπη (cf. Plato’s Phaidros 252b4–6). That ‘Homer’ the individual had no existence independent from the poetic tradition could only be of help: every locale attached such biographical material as reflected its own local appropriation of the poetry, and thus arose a large body of apocryphal anecdotes and competing lives of Homer. [175]

8.3 Μάντις and Προφήτης

8.3.1 Ecstasy

As remarked above (p. 220) in my study of Hesiod’s Dichterweihe, the notional fixity of the Homeric tradition has its mirror image in the twin professions of μάντις and προφήτης. [176] Plato—we shall see momentarily—introduces two others: ἑρμηνεύς and ὑποκριτής. [177] The philosopher’s testimony, though indispensable, must be carefully weighed. For, having always an axe to grind, his material embraces real facets of his culture while tendentiously recombining the data and redefining their mutual relation. For this reason his dialogs are better characterized as refracting, rather than simply reflecting, Greek culture. Most famously, the Iōn puts the strongest possible emphasis on a view of ecstatic possession, during which the subject retains no self-control and is merely the mindless vehicle of the divine presence within him. Before proceeding any further, I must draw attention to the potential confusion that arises from the words ‘ecstasy’ and ‘ecstatic’. Often their use reveals simplistic assumptions about the nature of that divine influence upon the human subject which the Greeks called ἐνθουσιασμός or ‘being ἔνθεος’. Scholars ancient and modern, chiefly under Plato’s strongly tendentious re-reading of archaic Greek culture, have all too readily assumed that even before Plato the state of mind under such divine influence, regularly glossed by ‘ecstasy’ and ‘ecstatic’, was by and large thought to imply a ‘being beside oneself’, a suppression or annihilation of native cognition. In short, it was thought to render the subject temporarily mad or irrational. But this is not so. As Porzio Gernia (1989:85) observes, Indo-European derivatives of *men- exhibit well-determined semantic traits that encompass physical and psychic strength, (prophetic) wisdom, poetic inspiration, sacred speaking and singing (including prayers and magic incantations), and madness (sacred and pathological): “Il nucleo semantico che può aver generato questi significati non può essere che la nozione di una conoscenza particolare, non traducibile in termini della nostra cultura attuale e non corrispondente alla nostra conoscenza, di tipo logico-razionale. È un potenziamento della ‘mente’, intesa come complesso delle facoltà intellettuali e psichiche, come totalità dell’uomo. È uno stato anormale di coscienza nella quale si manifesta un’energia attiva e creativa. Questo particolare stato di coscienza è determinato dall’irruzione del divino, dall’incorporazione e manifestazione di energie di ordine soprannaturale.”
A comprehensive review of the misunderstanding induced by Plato must wait for a future work. Here, I limit myself to making only those brief remarks that are needful for the analysis at hand. The OED s.v. “ecstasy” furnishes a convenient entry point: “The classical senses of ἔκστασις are ‘insanity’ and ‘bewilderment’; but in late Greek the etymological meaning received another application, namely, ‘withdrawal of the soul from the body, mystic or prophetic trance’; hence in later medical writers the word is used for trance, etc., generally. Both the classical and post-classical senses came into the mod[ern] languages, and in the present fig[urative] uses they seem to be blended.” Although the OED is wrong to declare ‘insanity’ and ‘bewilderment’ “the classical senses” without qualification, it helpfully alerts us to the terminological confusion between ‘ecstasy’ and ‘trance’. The mystical tradition understands ‘ecstasy’ as “the state of rapture in which the body was supposed to become incapable of sensation, while the soul was engaged in the contemplation of divine things” (OED s.v. 3.a). Contrast this with OED s.v. 3.b: “The state of trance supposed to be a concomitant of prophetic inspiration; hence, Poetic frenzy or rapture.” The distinguishing element between them is what OED s.v. 4.a in turn defines as “[a]n exalted state of feeling which engrosses the mind to the exclusion of thought; rapture, transport.” But since ‘trance’ is commonly regarded as an “unconscious or insensible condition … characterized by a more or less prolonged suspension of consciousness and inertness to stimulus” (OED s.v. 2), ‘ecstasy’ defined as a ‘state of trance’ should appear incompatible with “[p]oetic frenzy or rapture.” [178] Rouget (1985:3–12) surveys the divergent use scholars have made of ‘trance’ and ‘ecstasy’. That, unlike ‘ecstatic’ for ‘ecstasy’, ‘trance’ does not have a convenient adjective has contributed not a little to the preferential use of ‘ecstasy’, which has in time come to incorporate what in some quarters would have been considered peculiar to a ‘trance’. Thus, Rouget groups under ‘ecstasy’ the following concomitants: “immobility, silence, solitude, no crisis, sensory deprivation, recollection, hallucinations”; and under ‘trance’: “movement, noise, in company, crisis, sensory overstimulation, amnesia, no hallucinations.” [179] Some of these are not immediately applicable to Sokrates’ and Ion’s discussion of inspired performance, and the important comparandum of the Pythia’s Delphic experience might seem to include, depending on the source, elements of both. But for the purposes of the discussion at hand, I will use ‘ecstatic’ in the sense of a mental paroxysm that suspends rationality and renders the subject’s cognition passively instrumental to the divinity’s aims. I will usually make this meaning clear by adding ‘irrational’ to it. [180]
Now, as has often been remarked in recent times, wild ecstatic possession that precludes, with any divine influence that might bear upon the subject, a coordinate use of his native cognition—i.e. an altered state of mind indistinguishable from ordinary madness—was not the archaic view of poetic inspiration. Indeed, at no point in the few places where the narrator of the Iliad or the Odyssey comes to the fore (at invocations of the Muse or when he addresses a character in the story) does he appear as anything other than self-possessed. The same is true of the two bards in the Odyssey, Phemios and Demodokos. The latter maintains his self-control at all times, even when he is described as prompted by the god or Muse. Thus, even though θ 73 makes the Muse responsible for the onset of his singing, from θ 87 90–91 we learn that the performance was punctuated by pauses and by the Phaiakian nobles’ encouragement to resume the singing: Demodokos’ inspiration, then, did not rule out a sensitive singer-audience interaction. Similarly, at θ 492 he is urged by Odysseus to move his song on (μετάβηθι) to the episode of the wooden horse and the sack of Ilion. Demodokos obliges him, starting at the appropriate point (ἔνθεν ἑλών ὡς … θ 500); yet, all the same, he is said to begin his song at the prompting of the god (ὁ δ’ ὁρμηθεὶς θεοῦ ἤρχετο θ 499). And this is not all: for Alkinoos, seeing Odysseus cry at the hearing of the story, commands the minstrel to check his singing (θ 537 542), and we have every reason to believe that Demodokos does as he is told. The same can be said of Phemios who, while singing as his νόος moves him [181] and Zeus metes out (α 346–349), [182] is yet assumed by Penelope to have a choice of repertoire, just as he is said at α 154 to sing under the compulsion of the suitors. Furthermore, scholars have noted that even the few μάντεις who appear in the story (e.g. Kalkhas) never show any of the stereotypical traits of ecstatic oracular delivery. [183] To Setti this has proved so surprising that he has been misled into describing Homeric poetry as the humanistic product of a secular polis culture (Setti 1958:136–138). But this only reveals his narrow view of inspiration, which robs of sacral notions and religious feeling whatever does not correspond to his expectations of an ecstatic oracular milieu. Setti is, in effect, looking for incantatory poetry when he insists on alliteration and rhyme as the sine qua non of truly religious poetry (139); but magic is only a narrow domain of a much larger religious landscape.

8.3.2 The Delphic Oracle

To speak only of the most famous of oracular seats, it is hardly a coincidence that the ancients themselves held divergent traditions about Delphi. [184] On these, modern scholars in turn have formulated two radically different reconstructions of the mantic session. [185] Some insist that the Pythia herself, in her right mind, delivered the oracles in prose or hexameters; that she could even be bribed to lie is adduced in support of this view (cf. Herodotos 6.66 and 6.75 [186] ). Others emphasize the mediation of the προφήτης, who, they suppose, conveyed the suppliant’s question to the Pythia and reported back her answer. A few writers go even further, asserting that, in the case of the more important inquiries, he would also ‘recompose’ her message into hexameters. [187] Most of the literary evidence supports the former reconstruction; owing to his office as priest at Delphi and his writings on the oracle, Plutarch represents a late but distinguished exponent of it. [188] Indeed, much of De Pythiae oraculis is explicitly built on the assumption that the Pythia herself is directly (and primarily, if not solely) responsible not only for the content but also the form of the oracles. The question at issue, after all, is why Delphic oracles are no longer rendered in verse. The reasons offered are several and various; among them is Theon’s, who argues that Apollo merely places within the mantis the ἀρχὴ τῆς κινήσεως, and she in turn is moved according to her natural endowments: ‘For the voice is not the god’s, nor the utterance or diction or meter, but the woman’s’. [189] This agrees with Herodotos, whose narrative conveys the distinct impression that the Pythia herself delivered her oracles to the inquirers, [190] at times even anticipating their questions and speaking unbidden upon their crossing the threshold of the temple. [191] Thus, Crahay (1956:83) states definitively that “Delphes n’a qu’un seul prophète, dont le rôle exact nous échappe, mais auquel, en tout cas, Hérodote n’attribue jamais de réponse.” [192] Now, one might argue that, given Plutarch’s late date and his admission that in his own time oracles were no longer in verse, he may simply have been ignorant of the workings of classical and pre-classical Delphi. But he knows of a report that, in the past, ‘some men with the gift of poetry’ (ποιητικοί τινες ἄνδρες), overhearing the Pythia’s words, would ‘twine them round extempore with epē, meters, and rhythms as containers’ (De Pythiae oraculis 407b). This is certainly not quite the same as an officially appointed mediating προφήτης, but there is enough overlap that it is hard to believe that Plutarch would have failed to mention the prophet’s participation in the recomposition of oracles into verse, had he known about it. After all, he is often well informed about classical Greece, even about subjects of which he had no personal experience; whereas regarding Delphi, his many years at the oracle as priest make his writings on the matter uniquely authoritative. One may retort that it is precisely such first-hand experience that made him incapable of viewing Delphi’s early history objectively. At any rate, that he draws on sources at least as old as the fourth century BC is clear from his reference to Theopompos (De Pythiae oraculis 403e). [193] We shall never know for sure, but the fact remains that Plutarch never mentions the cooperation of the prophet in composing the oracle, and the specific duties of this official remain elusive and conjectural. [194] While he is not epigraphically attested, Herodotos 8.37 (cf. 7.111) and Plutarch De defectu oraculorum 438b explicitly mention him, [195] but the only text that unequivocally tells of resident poets whose role it was to put the oracles to verse is Strabo 9.3.5: φασὶ … τὴν Πυθίαν … ἀποθεσπίζειν ἔμμετρά τε καὶ ἄμετρα· ἐντείνειν δὲ καὶ ταῦτα εἰς μέτρον ποιητάς τινας ὑπουργοῦντας τῷ ἱερῷ. Note, however, that he does not identify these ποιηταί τινες with the προφῆται.
Now, concerning mental states that point to an impaired ability to reason, there are scattered indications of behavior that could be called irrational, but their historicity is dubious. Thus, Strabo (9.3.5) draws attention to the πνεῦμα ἐνθουσιαστικόν that allegedly ascended from the chasm in the adyton, inducing the Pythia’s prophecies; and Diodoros’ legend (16.26) famously records the bizarre behavior of goats that accidentally breathed the vapors, adding that, after many people had leaped into the chasm under their influence, the locals restricted access to a single woman, the prophetess, furnishing her with the tripod as a device to prevent her falling into the chasm too. Lucian, in turn, mentions the chewing of laurel leaves, which was also thought to induce an altered state of mind (Bis accusatus §1). Despite the weakness of the evidence, modern scholars have found it hard to shake their attachment to the story of irrational Delphic ecstasy (certainly attested in classical Athens, e.g. in Plato’s Phaidros 244b). Since the existence of trance-inducing vapors has found no geological support, [196] some have had recourse to self-induced trances (e.g. Burkert 1985:116), while others rightly draw attention to the psychological complexity of trance-like behavior, not all of which can be simply mapped onto “hysterical excitement.” [197] Like Strabo, ancient writers who took for granted an irrational, ecstatic Pythia must have assumed that she was nevertheless sufficiently coherent to speak in hexameters, or else that Apollo put the ἔπη in her mouth to deliver while out of her mind—apparently, this latter is the model Sokrates wields in his dialog with Ion—though under this harmonizing scenario the specific role of the prophet is hard to determine. [198] Regardless of one’s view about the access an ordinary inquirer might have had to the Pythia, as Amandry (1950:168) observes, it is hard to believe that, in the marked occasions of politically momentous institutional inquiries, she would have spoken directly to the θεωρός or θεοπρόπος without prior screening and consideration by the men who ran Delphi. If indeed the prophet got involved especially at such times, we can understand why one can trace back to these instances the greater fraction of the extant oracular verse. Poetry’s latitude of form and capacity for ambiguity would have been welcome where powerful clients or delicate ‘international’ politics were implicated. [199] The confluence of irrational, ecstatic mantis and self-possessed prophet was even historicized by Rohde as the arrival in Delphi of Dionysiac elements and their influence on what, until then, would have been communication through incubation and Apollinean oracles of sortilege. [200] Or, at the suggestion of Parke and Wormell (1956a:12–13), the terms might be inverted, with Apollo taking over a primeval oracular seat of Γῆ, which already exhibited elements cognate with the ecstasy of maenadism (an ‘ecstasy’ that, even more than the Pythia’s, was assumed to suspend rational thought and be identical or akin to madness). [201]
Where poets chose to draw on the original sacral dimensions of their profession, they described themselves as prophets (Pindar Paian 6.6, Bakkhylides Epinician 8.3). A striking, celebrated instance is Pindar fr. 150: μαντεύεο, Μοῖσα, προφατεύσω δ’ ἐγώ. On first thought we might be inclined to focus on the apparent dichotomy between the Muse-as-mantis and the poet-as-prophet; but once we remember that the voice of the Muse is the song of the poet, this fragment turns out to reflect instead an early stage in which mantis and prophet were one and the same. Thus we are not surprised that Teiresias, the Homeric μάντις par excellence, is called by Pindar in the same breath ‘Zeus’ prophet’ and ‘straight mantis’. [202] Therefore, Pindar sees himself as intermediary and herald of otherwise hidden divine utterances. The same shifting valance of terminology was in evidence at Delphi. In Aiskhylos’ Eumenides 18–19, the Pythia calls Apollo both μάντις and Διὸς προφήτης: insofar as he speaks for Zeus, he is his ‘prophet’; vis-à-vis the mortals who inquire of him, he is the mantis. But taking this logic a step further, the communication of Apollo’s prophecy, too, can be similarly re-analyzed: viewed in relation to Apollo, the Pythia is commonly designated προφῆτις, [203] while from the point of view of the mediation of her own προφῆται, though most often simply called ἡ Πυθία, she could also be named μάντις [204] or πρόμαντις. [205] A further echo of this conceptual and terminological state of affairs is furnished by Plato’s Iōn, where Homer, himself the first link in the chain of inspiration, is described as the ἑρμηνεύς of the Muse. Strictly speaking, as poetic ‘composer’ (to use our terms) he does not interpret a prior message (as the prophet would do with the Pythia’s). He can only be said to ‘interpret’ the utterance of the goddess in the extended sense of the ‘original composition’ that wells up in his mind and constitutes the very substance of his song. In other words, there is, strictly speaking, no need for explanation and commentary in the ordinary sense, as if his poetry were to be something short of a ‘primary text.’ But insofar as he has access to and reveals the divine mind in song—i.e. insofar as we view him within the archaic framework—his poetry can be called revelatory, unfolding before our eyes divine truths that would otherwise remain obscure, unintelligible. In that restricted sense he can rightly be called the hermēneus of the Muse: he ‘reveals the song’ (see above, §8.1.2) and his ἔπη carry the full performative force of a divine utterance. [206]
The role of the prophet might seem slightly different in that, notionally, his poetry derives—interprets—the Pythia’s utterance. But we must remember that without him the inquirer receives no oracular response, and for this reason only conceptually does his prophecy enjoy a secondary textual status. And thus we are not surprised to find that there was at Delphi a tradition of oral composition, with its own particular formulaic emphases—emphases that were nonetheless traditional to the extent that the necessarily occasional nature of oracular consultation allowed for it. [207] Each inquirer posed his own peculiar question, but their number was high enough and the nature of many must have been repetitive enough that the answers can be safely assumed to have largely followed established patterns. Where such replies were in hexameter, this would have fostered a formulaic tradition of oral poetry responsible for rendering, on short notice, the appropriate answer to each questioner’s concerns.
Even from the late, fourth-century perspective of Plato’s Iōn, the role of the rhapsode vis-à-vis the epic poet remains analogous to the prophet’s relationship to the Pythia. Sokrates, it is true, collapses the centuries-long chain of rhapsodic transmission into a privileged beginning, the inspired Homer, who in turn, in the here-and-now, derivatively ‘inspires’ the Ephesian rhapsode. This constitutes a synchronic recreation of the true diachronic process. Ion is merely a representative caricature of the best in rhapsodic craft that the late fifth-century Greece could offer. We have no reason to assume that the dialog’s portrayal of Ion’s professional practice is anything but typical of high-classical rhapsodic performance. Precisely because Ion, the Platonic character, is illustrative of the rhapsodic link in the chain that brings the experience of divine inspiration to bear on the festival audience, he represents the characteristic outcome of the traditional process of apprenticeship by which aspiring rhapsodes were professionally trained. Some modern critics dispute the claim that the Iōn has anything to say about rhapsodic transmission stricto sensu. After all, Sokrates says nothing explicit about Ion’s training and the role that other rhapsodes played in it. So, for example, Pelliccia (2003:106) writes that “the Ion says nothing about successive rhapsodic performers. The magnetized rings of Socrates’ image represent 1) the god, from whom hangs 2) the poet, from whom hangs 3) the performer, from whom hangs 4) the audience. So the concept of rhapsodic succession is not available here for extrapolation.” But once Greece had embraced the notion of a prōtos heuretēs of Homeric epic, [208] it is not unreasonable to consider a schematic outline that involves precisely the four elements enumerated by Pelliccia a faithful description of the full compass of the process of inspiration—a description that, if anything, elides as a matter of course, rather than precludes, the reality of rhapsodic succession. A superficially synchronic, hypothetical alternative without the notion of an authoritative poet that focused on the godward relationship would have featured three elements: god, rhapsode, and audience; had it sought instead to bring out the manward dimension, it would have included at least two rhapsodes so as to elucidate the paradosis, synchronic and diachronic, at the level of training. If Plato’s interests and focus reflect neither alternative, one can hardly reproach the philosopher for evincing concerns typical of his age.
Pelliccia’s criticism overlooks what is most significant in Plato’s ostensibly synchronic account. Diachronic analysis should pay attention not to what agrees with our expectations of a fourth-century critique of the role of inspiration in composition and performance. Rather, it must attend to seemingly dissonant elements that confute our expectations by blending the categories of ‘poet’ and ‘performer’ and, in so doing, reveal the underlying diachronic process that the schematic outline abridges. For ‘poet’ and ‘performer’ I should rather write ‘epic poet’ and ‘rhapsode,’ since by and large Sokrates is strikingly and, I believe, deliberately silent about performers of other genres of poetry. In Sokrates’ celebrated description of the magnetic chain (Iōn 533c9–535a2), only epic is attributed an explicit intervening link between poet and audience. [209] This is not to say that other genres of poetry do not call for non-authorial performers; but in their cases Sokrates shows no interest in the second link and does not claim that the non-epic poet ‘inspires’ his performers. [210] This silence is significant and provides the first remarkable clue that in its full compass the metaphor of the chain only fits the scenario of rhapsodic succession.
This contention finds further support in Plato’s deliberate recourse, singularly meaningful for being unexpected, to language that softens the potential divide between Homer and Ion. His diction all but merges their circumstances, aims, and practices. The heart of Sokrates’ rhetorical strategy lies in its peculiar movement back and forth between Homer and his rhapsode. This has often puzzled Plato’s readers. Murray (1996:112) observes: “[W]ith the image of the magnet P[lato] shifts the focus of the dialogue away from the specific question of Ion’s skill (or lack of it) as a rhapsode and moves on to the larger subject of poetic inspiration in general.” Murray would have us believe that Ion serves as the narrative pretext for Plato’s alleged focus on the poet. The text refutes her. At the opening of his speech Sokrates professes to be seeking an answer to the question not why some poets compose well but why Ion the rhapsode ‘speaks well about Homer’ (περὶ Ὁμήρου εὖ λέγειν 533d2). At its end, it is true, Ion agrees that ‘it is by divine lot that the good poets express to us these things [that come] from the gods’ (μοι δοκοῦσι θείᾳ μοίρᾳ ἡμῖν παρὰ τῶν θεῶν ταῦτα οἱ ἀγαθοὶ ποιηταὶ ἑρμηνεύειν 535a4–5); but Sokrates retorts: ‘And do you then not, the rhapsodes, in turn express the [work] of the poets? … Are you then not interpreters of interpreters?’ (οὐκοῦν ὑμεῖς αὖ οἱ ῥαψῳδοὶ τὰ τῶν ποιητῶν ἑρμηνεύετε; … oὐκοῦν ἑρμηνέων ἑρμηνῆς γίγνεσθε; 535a6–9). The chief rhetorical thrust is to merge epic poet and rhapsode and, in effect, to make them near-identical successive links in the paradosis that joins inspiring god to audience. It is no accident that epic poets are said to ‘speak’ (λέγουσι 533e7) ‘all these beautiful poems’ while ‘full of the god and possessed’. [211] The language of composition is not entirely avoided, [212] but all the same the calibrated diction preponderantly equates to the fullest extent possible the classical rhapsode with his archetypal poetic source. This motivates the addition at 534b9 of λέγοντες to ποιοῦντες, in order that Sokrates may apply his explanation to Ion: ‘Seeing, then, that it is not by art that they make and say many fine things about these matters, just as you do about Homer, but by divine lot, each one is able to do (compose?) well this thing alone to which the Muse has impelled him—one dithyrambs, another encomia, another dance-songs, another epic, another iambic verse’ (my emphasis). It is a ‘divine power’ (θεία … δύναμις) that moves Ion to speak well (εὖ λέγειν) about Homer (533d3); and ‘by divine power’ (θείᾳ δυνάμει) that ‘they (the composers of dithyrambs, encomia, etc.) speak these things (ταῦτα λέγουσιν), since, if by art they knew how to speak well about one thing (καλῶς ἠπίσταντο λέγειν), then they would too about everything else’ (534c5–7). The facts are so arranged that ‘we may know that they themselves are not the ones speaking these things (οἱ ταῦτα λέγοντες) … but the god himself is the one speaking (ὁ λέγων) and through these speaks to us (φθέγγεται)’ (534d2–4). Plato’s aims are clear: he demotes the artistic accomplishments of poets to make them mere mouthpieces of the god, like chanters of oracles and passively instrumental seers. It is precisely this demotion that levels poets and rhapsodes and equates them both as speakers of another’s words, revealing their diachronic continuity. Even though the language of poetic making is not absent, the overriding impression upon the hearer is that poets are speakers of fine things, not much different from Ion the rhapsode who takes supreme pride in his ability to speak well about Homer.
If we seek to excavate the diachronic layers of Plato’s description of epic performance in the classical period, we must attend to the rhetorical thrust of the text as it equates Homer, the archetypal poet, and Ion, the representative rhapsode. This realization demonstrates the legitimacy of reading the metaphor of the magnet as a picture of rhapsodic succession: the primary element of discontinuity between these two links is their respective proximity to the ultimate source, the inspiring divinity. But a difference of degree is precisely what one would expect for successive links. And Sokrates passes up the opportunity to play up Ion’s greater remove from the Muse and to emphasize his derivative status vis-à-vis Homer. [213] In sum, I am not struck by the predictable elements of discontinuity between them; I am struck by how hard Plato works at equalizing and merging their profiles. One should not be surprised to find two additional elements that drive home this continuity. Plato has Ion acknowledge the psychagogic impact of Sokrates’ speech: Ion hints that Sokrates’ performance itself illustrates the ‘inspiring’ effect not of composing, but of speaking well by divine lot. In so doing, he draws Sokrates’ rhetoric within the productive ambit of epic poets and their rhapsodes as accomplished speakers. Finally, when Sokrates readies himself to explain why Ion speaks so well about Homer but shows neither skill nor inclination with regard to Hesiod and Arkhilokhos, the philosopher remarks: ‘Yet further, I think … you have never seen a man who is terrific at expounding Olympos or Thamyras or Orpheus or Phemios, the rhapsode from Ithaka, but concerning Ion the Ephesian [rhapsode] is at a loss and cannot contribute what he rhapsodizes well or not’ (533b5-c3). Once again, two rhapsodes—the indisputably creative Phemios and even Ion himself!—are put on a par with archetypal poets (Olympos, Thamyras, and Orpheus). The significance of this fact is the converse of the Homeridai’s claim either to descend from Homer or to perform his poetry by right of (rhapsodic) succession. [214] Continuity is the key to Plato’s argument, and rhapsodic succession its legitimate corollary.
Pelliccia (2003:106n20) realizes that Sokrates’ mention of Phemios the rhapsode ‘as also a composer of poetry’ undermines his argument. His reply is that the terminological distinction he alleges between the ‘creative aoidos’ and the ‘reduplicating rhapsode’ “was not inflexible.” To prove that despite this flexibility a stark divide between them did exist, he holds counterfactually that, if it had not, when Ion was pressed to say what he qua rhapsode was an expert on, he should have replied with “the Odyssean discussions of Phemius and Demodocus.” It is not clear to me what he means by this: is he suggesting that, if the notion of rhapsodic succession underlay the picture of the magnet, we should have expected Ion to reply that he was good at ‘singing κατὰ κόσμον’ what the Muse has taught him (θ 488–489)? What, then, about his claim that it was worthwhile indeed to hear how well ‘I have adorned Homer’ (κεκόσμηκα τὸν Ὅμηρον 530d6–7)? This will doubtless not satisfy those who, without proof or warrant, assert with Pelliccia that “[Homer] is quoted as text” (Pelliccia 2003:107) or assume that referring to Homeric poetry by the person ‘Homer’ eo ipso is tantamount to “referring to the text of Homer” (109, Pelliccia’s emphasis). I submit instead that Ion’s ‘adorning’ Homer does entail a compositional facet (at this late stage, of relatively limited range); and that only if this facet is acknowledged can one make sense of the manner in which Plato apparently mixes activities that (to use our terms) seem to correspond, on the one hand, to poetic composition (Homer’s speaking well about various subjects) and, on the other, to literary criticism (Ion’s speaking well about Homer). This is the key to a right understanding of the dialog. [215] Ion indeed is called a ἑρμηνεύς of Homer; but it is misleading to affirm that, in this regard, Homer and other kinds of poets are contrasted “with their performers and interpreters” (Pelliccia 2003:107). Poets themselves are called the ἑρμηνῆς of the gods (534e4–5, 535a5). The scholar’s main interpretive burden lies in establishing how poets in the exercise of their hermeneutic function differ, if at all, from rhapsodes in their ‘interpretation’ (530c3–4, 535a7–9). Merely assuming that there is a stark contrast begs the question. Note that only rhapsodes are said to ‘interpret’ their poets. This claim is made extensive to performers of no other genres. [216] I emphasized above that this is deliberate and not the accidental consequence of the dialog’s contextual framework. Among performers, ‘interpretation’ was exclusively the purview of rhapsodes because they were the only traditional performers: their repertoire embraced a well-defined corpus of traditional poetry, and the practice of their trade involved more than the delivery of an unchanging script memorized by rote. Sokrates’ observation that the rhapsode must interpret the poet’s thought to his audience (τὸν γὰρ ῥαψῳδὸν ἑρμηνέα δεῖ τοῦ ποιητοῦ τῆς διανοίας γίγνεσθαι τοῖς ἀκούουσι 530c3–4) has a close parallel in Phaidros’ statement, adduced by Pelliccia at 109, that he has not learned the words of Lysias’ speech but will instead go through the general thought of his arguments. [217] The specificity of Phaidros’ reference to τὰ ῥήματα is lacking in the case of Ion, the traditional rhapsode. Unlike the young admirer of Lysias, Ion does not seek to memorize his Homer word for word.
Pelliccia puts forward an unwarranted view, self-evident only to those who assume, rather than prove, that Plato’s standpoint is in toto our own, when he writes that, according to the Iōn, “the poet creates something historically, as a one time event, and the thing he creates survives permanently as an entity succeeding generations can come into contact with, take inspiration from, and, above all, perform. This created entity has of course usually been thought of as a text” (2003:107–108). Apart from the all-important fact that rhapsodes alone are explicitly singled out as susceptible qua performers of derivative inspiration by their archetypal poet, [218] the chief thrust of the dialog is to portray good poets themselves as mouthpieces of the god (‘the god sang’ through Tynnikhos ‘the most beautiful song’ 534e6–7), not as the agents of a defining one-time creation event. In effect, the making (ποιεῖν) is made notionally subservient to the poets’ performing (ᾄδειν). [219]

8.3.3 Oracular verse

It is true that oracular poetry was of comparatively low quality and that it was for this reason subjected to mockery and satire. [220] But it is remarkable that, even then, the belief in its divine origin was not surrendered and Apollo was made the butt of jokes by those who could not understand how the Mousēgetēs demonstrated less poetic skill than the very Muses he led and poets he inspired. [221] For my purposes, however, the important fact is that the unchanging divine answer, a fixed oracular utterance that could be neither modified nor retracted, was rendered into hexameter by practitioners of a peculiar kind of oral-traditional poetry, even when, conceptually, their mediation was elided in the interest of tracing the utterance immediately to the Pythia—as if the interposing of other human agents might compromise its infallibility. [222] It is notable that, even though iambic was occasionally used in contexts of abuse, when the oracle was not rendered in prose, hexameter was the meter of choice. To explain this fact some adduce the influence of Homeric epic and its cultural ascendancy. But I rather think it must have been the notion of a divine speech-act—a notion shared by epic and oracular poetry—that led both to use ἔπη for the notionally quoted utterance of the gods. This perspective views the system of Homeric poetry on its own archaic cultural terms—with its full sacral dimensions—rather than in the anachronistic terms of a cultural icon, Homer, who imposes his genre by dint of stylistic brilliance. Parke 1981 undertakes a distinguished, but ultimately flawed, attempt to explain the origin of oracular verse at Delphi in terms of the dominant prestige of epic poetry, viewed here strictly as a ‘literary’ phenomenon used or imitated for its register (elegance, solemnity, etc.). [223] Observing that most of the oracles at Delphi down to the time of Alexander were in prose, he argues that the earlier poetic utterances owed their form to a cult of the Muses alleged by Plutarch to have existed of old at the oracular seat, a cult that was only a distant memory in his own time (cf. De Pythiae oraculis 402c–d).
Now, it is obvious that, even if we agree that there were fictitious hexameter oracles, versifying prophetic utterances must have been a genuine (if not uniform) practice: why else trouble yourself with meter if all knew that the Pythia only rendered the god’s answers in prose? The question, then, is why the poetic form, and specifically the hexameter, should have been used at all. It will not do, I suggest, merely to argue that, during Delphi’s earliest stages (no later than the eighth century BC), only the epic hexameter was available to mark speech as solemn against ordinary prose. For even if we grant ex hypothesi the priority of hexameter over lyric meters (a view many scholars no longer hold), we must still explain why and in what sense epic poetry was perceived as ‘solemn’—i.e. what sort of marked speech it was—and why oracular utterance should have called for the kind of solemnity the epic style could lend. This reasoning, then, brings us back to the argument of this chapter, namely, that the archaic traditions of hexameter poetry were imbued with notions of quoted divine speech. If true, this view makes the use of hexameter poetry at Delphi entirely natural, and there is no longer any reason to make the versification of oracles immediately dependent on antecedent Homeric or Hesiodic traditions. In fact, the association of Apollo and the Muses is Panhellenic and, as far as I can tell, was already fully developed at the earliest stages of the extant oral traditions of epic. Therefore, to argue, as Parke does, that they owe their ties to Delphi, seems to me implausible on chronological and other grounds. Plutarch’s passage is the sole witness to an alleged archaic cult of the Muses at Delphi; by itself, it falls far short of establishing this fact: in his own time there was no shrine left, only the story that once there had been one. On what grounds are we to believe it? Only two Simonidean fragments [224] that mention χέρνιβα are marshaled in support, and neither names Delphi explicitly. The proem of Hesiod’s Theogony (vv. 3, 6) already shows the association of the Muses with fountains and streams of water, [225] and the debate whether the second fragment referred not to Kleiō but to Styx, as Eudoxos claimed, shows how precarious the link is between the first passage and the water that flowed from the oracle of Γῆ. I do not see how these fragments are supposed to prove the existence of a shrine to the Muses predating the ‘arrival’ of Apollo in Delphi. Even if such a shrine existed (which is far from certain), and even if it was placed in so central a location of the sanctuary (where else should we expect the worship of goddesses subordinate to Apollo but in the shadow of his temple?), what could prove its temporal priority over the worship of the god? It seems to me much more probable that a Panhellenic association of Apollo with the Muses that was both independent from the cult at Delphi and reinforced by the use of the hexameter for the composition of oracles should have found cultic expression, if anywhere at all, at the Panhellenic oracle of Delphi. [226] Besides Plutarch’s doubtful testimony, only Pausanias’ description (10.19.4) of the pediments of the fourth-century BC temple of Apollo offers further evidence of the ties at Delphi between the Muses and their Mousēgetēs: it featured Apollo with Artemis and Leto, the Muses, the setting Sun, and Dionysos with the Thyiades. But this falls short of proving the existence of an archaic shrine to the Muses, or else we should expect, for example, pedimental depictions of Γῆ and Athena, and shrines to Leto and the Sun. It is clear, instead, that the choice of sculptures draws on traditional artistic devices (the setting Sun), Panhellenic myth (the god’s mother and sister), and a certain representational symmetry (Apollo and Dionysos, each with his own cortège).
Neither is there support to be found in Plutarch’s Quaestiones convivales 744c, where his brother observes that the Delphians held the Muses to be three, [227] making them correspond to the notes that define musical intervals (οἱ τὰ διαστήματα παρέχοντες ὅροι). Parke (1981:105) relates this to the “names of the three strings of the primitive lyre,” presumably because of 745b, which seems to present φθόγγοι and χορδαί as alternatives. But I believe that these are not contrasted as two different options, but are near synonyms naturally juxtaposed for redundancy. [228] That this numeric correlation is said to associate the Muses with τὸ ἁρμονικόν (744c) shows that strings are not in view. In any case, as Parke admits, this equation betrays late schematism and cannot be original. Though a three-string archaic lyre probably did exist, there is reason to question that it was widely used or ever held a central position. [229] And if so, why would the number of the Muses be related to the strings of a marginal instrument? [230] Furthermore, the three-string lyre was still in (limited) use in late antiquity (Stella 1978:278), and, at any rate, in music theory the three tones were of abiding significance: thus a schema ‘three Muses ⇔ three strings’ need not have drawn at all on old lore. But one might argue that, all by itself, the claim that the Delphians, in defiance of Hesiod’s canonical number, had taught that the Muses were three (even though the report passes along admittedly late speculation as genuine) might be reason enough to believe that such indeed was the archaic Delphic doctrine. [231] But I wonder, rather, if the triad of Muses might not reflect the indisputably archaic veneration accorded to the Θριαί, a triad of Delphic goddesses, probably the Corycian Nymphs, which, Larson 1995 argues, lie behind the famous ‘bee maidens’ of the Hymn to Hermes. [232] It would not be surprising if the veneration rendered at the Corycian cave had also once been represented at the oracular site itself (though no longer so by the date of the hymn, cf. line 556). In this connection it is curious that the hymn calls the maidens μοῖραι or σεμναί (depending on the ms.), and that in the dialog that concerns us Plutarch should also link the Muses with the three Fates (Quaestiones convivales 745b). To sum up: the veneration of a triad of female goddesses, variously identified by competing traditions, is too entrenched at Delphi to argue with any degree of certainty that the cult of the Muses was archaic and original to the locale, older than the ‘arrival’ of Apollo (a chronological priority that might lend plausibility to the view that oracular poetry took up the hexametric form in strict dependence on the antecedent poetic tradition of epic). [233] Thus, I conclude that use at Delphi of hexameters to compose its poetic oracles was not derivative of the Homeric or Hesiodic oral traditions of epic, but a related consequence of the notional association of epic diction with divine speech. [234]

8.4 Plato and Inspired Poetry

I would like to close this chapter by returning to Plato for a last but very important insight into the ways in which the notional fixity of the Homeric tradition had an impact on its performance. The Iliad and the Odyssey make clear that ὑποκρίνεσθαι was used in the context of oracular hermeneutics. [235] Though we do not have any pre-classical surviving instances of ὑποκριτής (its nomen agentis), the verb is regularly used by Homeric poetry for the interpretation of signs and dreams (Μ 228 ο 170 τ 535 555; cf. Η 407 β 111). In view of the strong association of ὑποκρίνομαι with the interpretation of omens and oracles, and given the notional fixity that attached to divine utterances—to the ἔπη of the Muse and Apollo—the verb also acquired the same connotation of conceptual fixity and, where used, it conveyed that things must necessarily be as they are, or will surely come to pass exactly as predicted. An important example is Penelope’s dream-omen. This instance is significant, because the plot’s notional fixity is emphatically asserted by the self-interpreting omen. Penelope challenges Odysseus to interpret the dream, requiring him, in effect, to agree or disagree with the tradition of poetry of which he is the protagonist. The narrator quotes Penelope, who quotes the speaking eagle; Odysseus welcomes the challenge and aligns himself with the tradition: ‘Lady, in no way is it possible to bend this dream aside and give it another meaning’ (ὦ γύναι, οὔ πως ἔστιν ὑποκρίνασθαι ὄνειρον | ἄλλῃ ἀποκλίναντ[α] τ 555–556). The meaning is fixed, and, hence, interpretation can only reperform the quotation. [236]
But consider now Plato’s use of ὑποκριτής as a label for the rhapsode [237] in the light of the tension, expounded above (§8.3.2), between one who is a primary, revelatory hermēneus of the god, unfolding the divine will before his audience, and one who is a hermēneus of the poet in a derivative, exegetical sense—who, notionally speaking, not only quotes the ἔπη of the poet but also unfolds their meaning. (The distinction turns on whether the hermēneus mediates between god and man or between man and man.) Diachronically speaking, the import of this tension is that Plato’s rhapsode straddles the shift between the divine Muse as fountain of inspiration and the human poet as the source of the songs he reperforms for his audience. [238] Belonging as he does to a stage when Homeric poetry is relatively less fluid and, insofar as notionally fixed, ascribed to the authorship of Homer, there is a sense, then, in which the Platonic rhapsode finds in his designation as ὑποκριτής a label that comprehends not only the reception and more or less stable reproduction of relatively fixed material, but also his recomposition of what is relatively more fluid. This latter material can be seen under a dual perspective: not only as a ἑρμηνεία of the Muse, in that it is a creative reappropriation of the tradition (a true recomposition in performance), but also as a ἑρμηνεία of the poet, for the rhapsode elaborates upon the relatively more fixed traditional material (notionally ascribed now to the archetypal poet), developing the story through thematic expansion and contraction, ‘ornamenting’ the plot (with additional, non-essential themes), and providing transitional passages that join episodes whose text is relatively less fluid.
It is in this sense that the rhapsode can truly be called a ὑποκριτής of Homer. In time, as the preponderance of the poetic material grew increasingly fixed, the explanatory function of the rhapsode might have adapted correspondingly, and his personal contribution might have taken to prose comments, not unlike in kind, if perhaps in quality, to the sophistic lectures that came to dominate the cultural scene in late fifth-century Athens. This would spell a direct line between the rhapsodic ὑπόκρισις and the sophistic ἐπιδείξεις to which the former were often unfavorably compared. [239]
Plato’s slant in the Iōn is now clear: by collapsing poetic and rhapsodic ἑρμηνεῖαι, and exclusively choosing as his model of oracular delivery a wild and ecstatic Pythia, rather than the self-possessed prophet, he upsets the dominant archaic paradigm of poetic inspiration, opting instead for a comparatively late minority one that made irrational mania the performer’s modus operandi. No wonder Ion objected!

Footnotes

[ back ] 1. μεμνημένοι γὰρ τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς ἐπιστολῆς οἱ συστήσαντες ἡμᾶς, ὅτε τὸ θνητὸν ἐπέστελλεν γένος ὡς ἄριστον εἰς δύναμιν ποιεῖν, οὕτω δὴ κατορθοῦντες καὶ τὸ φαῦλον ἡμῶν, ἵνα ἀληθείας πῃ προσάπτοιτο, κατέστησαν ἐν τούτῳ τὸ μαντεῖον. ἱκανὸν δὲ σημεῖον ὡς μαντικὴν ἀφροσύνῃ θεὸς ἀνθρωπίνῃ δέδωκεν· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἔννους ἐφάπτεται μαντικῆς ἐνθέου καὶ ἀληθοῦς, ἀλλ’ ἢ καθ’ ὕπνον τὴν τῆς φρονήσεως πεδηθεὶς δύναμιν ἢ διὰ νόσον, ἢ διά τινα ἐνθουσιασμὸν παραλλάξας. ἀλλὰ συννοῆσαι μὲν ἔμφρονος τά τε ῥηθέντα ἀναμνησθέντα ὄναρ ἢ ὕπαρ ὑπὸ τῆς μαντικῆς τε καὶ ἐνθουσιαστικῆς φύσεως, καὶ ὅσα ἂν φαντάσματα ὀφθῇ, πάντα λογισμῷ διελέσθαι ὅπῃ τι σημαίνει καὶ ὅτῳ μέλλοντος ἢ παρελθόντος ἢ παρόντος κακοῦ ἢ ἀγαθοῦ· τοῦ δὲ μανέντος ἔτι τε ἐν τούτῳ μένοντος οὐκ ἔργον τὰ φανέντα καὶ φωνηθέντα ὑφ’ ἑαυτοῦ κρίνειν, ἀλλ’ εὖ καὶ πάλαι λέγεται τὸ πράττειν καὶ γνῶναι τά τε αὑτοῦ καὶ ἑαυτὸν σώφρονι μόνῳ προσήκειν. ὅθεν δὴ καὶ τὸ τῶν προφητῶν γένος ἐπὶ ταῖς ἐνθέοις μαντείαις κριτὰς ἐπικαθιστάναι νόμος· οὓς μάντεις αὐτοὺς ὀνομάζουσίν τινες, τὸ πᾶν ἠγνοηκότες ὅτι τῆς δι’ αἰνιγμῶν οὗτοι φήμης καὶ φαντάσεως ὑποκριταί, καὶ οὔτι μάντεις, προφῆται δὲ μαντευομένων δικαιότατα ὀνομάζοιντ’ ἄν (Timaios 71d5–72b5).
[ back ] 2. These two offices seem to have been complementary at an early stage in Jewish religion. So, 1 Samuel 9:9 records the following parenthetical remark: ‘Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he used to say, “Come, and let us go to the seer”: for he who is called a prophet now was formerly called a seer’. The word for seer is the participle rō’eh, from rā’â, ‘to see, to perceive, to understand’. And though the verb is often used for the visual nature of theophanies, dreams, and visions, there is no evidence that the ‘seer’ himself obtained knowledge of divine secrets through visions or dreams. The word for prophet, nāb̲î’, has been variously connected to nāb̲ā’, ‘to bubble forth’ (suggesting ecstatic behavior, see below, §8.3.1), to bô’, ‘to enter’ (suggesting possession), to the Arabic root that means ‘to announce’ (suggesting herald), and to the Akkadian for ‘to speak, to proclaim’; still others have taken it as passive for ‘one called by God’. (The title nabû, perhaps ‘diviner’, is now attested in the Mari texts.) The great disparity in the etymologies discourages our relying on them and recommends, rather, that we look at the internal evidence of the Hebrew scriptures for a proper understanding of the word. There, though the context may occasionally hint at ecstatic behavior, the great majority of instances denote proclamation, authoritative public speaking. So, Exodus 6:29–7:2: ‘[T]he Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “I am the Lord; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you.” But Moses said before the Lord, “Behold, I am unskilled in speech: how then will Pharaoh listen to me?” Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh”’. Ultimately, what is of greater interest to my argument is that, just as with μάντις and προφήτης, regardless of the etymological distinction in emphasis between rō’eh and nāb̲î’, 1 Samuel 9:9 seems to make them interchangeable at an early stage, stating that only later, presumably after the former had become specialized, did the latter take over the generic meaning they had both once shared. The LXX usually preserves the etymological force of rō’eh, rendering it by ὁ βλέπων (Regnorum I 1:9, 1:11, 1:18, 9:18; Paralipomenon I 9:22) or ὁ ὁρῶν (Isaias 30:10) [or even ἴδετε, ‘behold’, at Regnorum Ⅱ 15:27]; but προφήτης is also used on three occasions (Paralipomenon I 26:28; Paralipomenon Ⅱ 16:7, 16:10). nāb̲î’, on the other hand, is always translated προφήτης. The word μάντις is reserved for qāsam, ‘to divine’, a practice that was despised and outlawed in Israel. (Balaam, for example, is called mantis in Josue 13:22.)
[ back ] 3. Cf. Meillet 1897, Ziehen 1930, Benveniste 1935:83, Roth 1988, Casevitz 1992, Bader 1997 esp. 5–6, Bartolotta 2002:27–32, and Bartolotta 2003. On divination generally, see the bibliography in Casevitz 1992:1n1 and Johnston 2005.
[ back ] 4. “Le mantis qu’Achille propose d’interroger est un spécialiste de l’interprétation des signes divins, il révèle ce qui, aux autres hommes, reste obscur et caché” (Casevitz 1992:3; cf. 11).
[ back ] 5. On Epimenidēs see below, §8.1.2.
[ back ] 6. In regard to Plato Timaios 71d–72b, Casevitz (1992:13–14) writes: “Ainsi Timée … distingue celui qui est en transe et celui qui interprète ce que celui-ci voit ou profère. … mantis désigne seulement ‘le personnage en proie à la mania’ … . L’étymologie qui rapproche mantis de mania est bien un outil de travail, qui aide à rehausser le prestige du mantis, mais du seul mantis à révérer, celui qui ‘délire’; tous les autres devins ‘traditionnels’ et populaires ne sont plus que des charlatans … .”
[ back ] 7. Plato acknowledges divine influence frequently and natural ability occasionally (e.g. in Apology 22c1). But he is keen to deny inspired δημιουργοί both τέχνη, the methodical skill that training imparts, and ἐπιστήμη, the body of knowledge assembled by philosophic inquiry.
[ back ] 8. ζητητικὸς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ μάντις τοῦ μέλλοντος, οἱονεὶ ὁ τὰ ἀφανῆ καὶ ἄδηλα ζητῶν. Οὐ γὰρ παρὰ τὴν μανίαν ὥς τινες ὑπέλαβον. Διὸ καὶ Ὅμηρος εὔφρονα λέγει τὸν μάντιν.
[ back ] 9. Cf. Porzio Gernia 1989:82.
[ back ] 10. “μάντις (< *mn̥h 2 -ti- > *manh 2 -ti-, avec traitement an de devant H dû au caractère consonantique de la laryngale, et plus ancien que le traitement par ‘sonante-voyelle longue’ de p. ex. μέ-μνη-μαι, avec chute de *h 2 et allongement compensatoire)” (Bader 1997:6).
[ back ] 11. Bartolotta 2004 lays out the argument in detail. After endorsing the proposal of a common origin to Phrygian and Armenian in the Thracian Balkans, she adds: “Queste ultime accomunano l’armeno non soltanto col frigio, ma anche col greco, con cui entrambe le lingue presentano numerosi tratti comuni. In quest’ottica, l’esito -αν- di μάντις potrebbe essere una traccia di possibili contatti linguistici e culturali di età preistorica” (Bartolotta 2004:113).
[ back ] 12. Casevitz 1992:14. If Bartolotta (2004:110–112) is right to locate the cultural roots of μάντις in a proto-Doric milieu, this would explain the failure of -τι- to assibilate (cf. also Buck 1998:57 §61 on ἀντί). See also Thompson 2008, esp. 754 no. 1.h.
[ back ] 13. On all this see Bonfante 1979, Bartolotta 2002:29–32, Bartolotta 2003, and Bartolotta 2004.
[ back ] 14. Cf. Watkins 2000:54 s.v. “men-” and Watkins 1995b:73. See Assaël 2000 for a recent review of proposed etymologies and an up-to-date bibliography.
[ back ] 15. González 2000:276. Cf. Grandolini 1996:29 (ad Α 1): “La poesia, perciò, è presentata quale rivelazione da parte della divinità, qui indicata con il termine θεά.”
[ back ] 16. Cf. Detienne 1996:43.
[ back ] 17. Cf. González 2000.
[ back ] 18. ὁ ἄναξ, οὗ τὸ μαντεῖόν ἐστι τὸ ἐν Δελφοῖς, οὔτε λέγει οὔτε κρύπτει ἀλλὰ σημαίνει (DK 22 B93 = fr. 14 Marcovich, apud Plutarch De Pythiae oraculis 404d). As Fontenrose (1978:238) writes, this is not a reference to oracular ambiguity, at least in the context of Plutarch’s argument, but an emphatic assertion of the instrumentality of the Pythia and its consequences.
[ back ] 19. Β 308 353 Δ 381 Ι 236 φ 413 with φαίνω; Θ 171 with τίθημι; Ν 244 with δείκνυμι; Χ 30 with τέτυκται (=ἐστί).
[ back ] 20. Brugmann suggested that σῆμα was cognate with the Sanskrit dhyā-man, ‘thought’. Cf. DELG s.v.
[ back ] 21. West’s translation (1993:71), modified. τόρνου καὶ στάθμης καὶ γνώμονος ἄνδρα θεωρόν | εὐθύτερον χρὴ ⟨ἔ⟩μεν, Κύρνε, φυλασσόμενον, ‖ ὧιτινί κεν Πυθῶνι θεοῦ χρήσασ’ ἱέρεια | ὀμφὴν σημήνηι πίονος ἐξ ἀδύτου· ‖ οὔτε τι γὰρ προσθεὶς οὐδέν κ’ ἔτι φάρμακον εὕροις, | οὐδ’ ἀφελὼν πρὸς θεῶν ἀμπλακίην προφύγοις (805–810 West).
[ back ] 22. The mantic quality of Hesiodic poetry as a matter of emphasis is to be contrasted, as noted above (§8.1.1), with the prophetic character of Homeric epic.
[ back ] 23. West 1966: “The phrase expresses the close connection between poetry and prophecy which is widespread in early literature. In the absence of written records, the ability to see into the distant past is no less marvellous than the ability to see into the future, and there is no reason for a sharp distinction between the two. Neither is possible without some form of divine revelation” (166).
[ back ] 24. This is true even if one thinks of it in cyclical terms.
[ back ] 25. See, for example, Lucian Hēsiodos §1.
[ back ] 26. The complementarity I have in mind concerns Hesiod’s persona and its significance for the Hesiodic epic tradition, and it should be sharply distinguished from the views that undergird modern efforts to harmonize narratives from major and minor Hesiodic poems that, although thematically divergent, seem to regard the same topic. Cf. González 2010a:386.
[ back ] 27. Strange is Neitzel’s contention that the inspired singer will not glorify and praise the future because it is uncertain and he ignores whether it shall be glorious: “Selbst ein von den Musen inspirierter Dichter wird die Zukunft nicht rühmen und verherrlichen, weil sie ungewiß ist” (1980:397). By assuming that Hesiod’s inspiration does not (cannot?) involve revelation and the infallible prediction of future events, the scholar begs the question at issue, namely, what τά τ’ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ’ ἐόντα denotes and what kind of inspiration it presupposes.
[ back ] 28. See Leclerc 2000:67–70 (the quotation is from 69). See, further, Neitzel 1980:396–398.
[ back ] 29. Arrighetti 1998: “καί di [Teogonia] 33 potrebbe benissimo avere un valore esplicativo rispetto ai contenuti dei vv. 31–32” (315).
[ back ] 30. The other example adduced by Arrighetti ad loc., the Nautilia of Works and Days 618–694, seems to me singularly unsuited to make his point, insofar as it explicitly claims that Hesiod’s inspiration (the song that the Muses taught him, cf. Theogony 22 and Works and Days 660–662) covers what for Arrighetti, ex hypothesi, belongs to τὰ ἐόντα. Because he is inspired, the bard can sing infallibly of what he himself has no first-hand experience (cf. Β 484–486). A contrast of his own making first drew the scholar’s attention to this passage: he infers from Theogony 32 that the Muses grant Hesiod an omniscience that he disowns in the Nautilia (cf. Arrighetti 1998:xxⅷ). But claims of omniscience are as specious in regard to Hesiod as they are in regard to Kalkhas: the goddesses do not bid him sing ‘all that shall be and was’ but simply ‘what shall be and was’. There is, to be sure, an implicit assertion of comprehensiveness that befits the Panhellenic scope of the performer’s authority, but hardly one of exhaustive comprehensiveness that would require commensurate omniscience. A common but loose characterization of the epic narrator as ‘omniscient’ may have led the scholar astray. An omniscient narrator, conventionally understood, is one who knows things that only a god could have revealed to him; the label does not entail that he knows everything exhaustively. One may reasonably question if true omniscience is applicable to anyone, whether man or god, including Zeus (cf. Theogony 565 and Solmsen 1949:48–49). At any rate, Arrighetti’s acknowledgment that Hesiod elsewhere adopts more traditional forms (he adduces three loci from the Theogony) should have led him to call into question his conflicting interpretation of the Nautilia and Theogony 367–370.
[ back ] 31. Cf. West 1966:269 on ἕκαστοι.
[ back ] 32. Cf. West 1966:268 ad 364.
[ back ] 33. West 1966:269 ad 370 cites Ephoros (FGH 70 F20) “[o]n the merely local importance of most rivers.”
[ back ] 34. See Arrighetti 1998:xxix. For the full discussion see pp. xxvi–xxxi and Arrighetti 1992:59–63.
[ back ] 35. Cf. Fontenrose 1978:17–18, whose D2 category concerns “extraordinary and obscure statements of past or present fact.” The corresponding frequency table for “legendary and historical responses” can be found at 21; for “quasi-historical responses,” at 45.
[ back ] 36. τὸ γεγονός, ὃ ἐπιστητὸν ἤδη καὶ τοῖς μάντεσιν, ὡς ἔφη Ἐπιμενίδης ὁ Κρής (ἐκεῖνος γὰρ περὶ τῶν ἐσομένων οὐκ ἐμαντεύετο, ἀλλὰ περὶ τῶν γεγονότων μὲν ἀδήλων δέ) 1418a23–26.
[ back ] 37. Cf. Cope 1877:3.203 and DK 3 B4.
[ back ] 38. Cf. Fournier 1946:12–13. It is traditional for lexica to offer two entries for *b h eh 2 - (or *bhā-), one for ‘to shine’ and the other for ‘to speak’ (cf. Watkins 2000 s.v. “bhā-”); this does not necessarily mean that the primitive identity of the two roots is being denied. Concerning φήμη note that it, too, is marked speech, viz. ‘a word of omen’ (β 35 υ 100 105; cf. χ 376 and Plato Timaios 72b3). See also Fournier 1946:8–12.
[ back ] 39. ἦν ὅτε μυρία φῦλα κατὰ χθόνα πλαζόμεν’ αἰεὶ | ⟨ἀνθρώπων ἐπίεζε⟩ βαρυστέρνου πλάτος αἴης, | Ζεὺς δὲ ἰδὼν ἐλέησε καὶ ἐν πυκιναῖς πραπίδεσσι | κουφίσαι ἀνθρώπων παμβώτορα σύνθετο γαῖαν, | ῥιπίσσας πολέμου μεγάλην ἔριν Ἰλιακοῖο, | ὄφρα κενώσειεν θανάτωι βάρος. οἱ δ’ ἐνὶ Τροίηι | ἥρωες κτείνοντο, Διὸς δ’ ἐτελείετο βουλή. (I follow Bernabé’s edition.)
[ back ] 40. Cf. West 1997:480–482 and Burgess 2001:245n59.
[ back ] 41. It is interesting that the debate whether Α 5 and fr. 1.7 of the Kypria referred to the same ἱστορία (to use the ancient term) is already joined by the Homeric scholia. Thus, Aristarkhos reportedly construed verse five with the immediately following ἐξ οὗ δὴ τὰ πρῶτα, so as to rule out a preexisting divine animus against the Akhaians and reject the ‘fabrications’ of the neōteroi. Hellenistic scholars, of course, called neōteroi all poets chronologically later than Homer, and would therefore have numbered among them anyone associated with the Cycle. Consequently, Aristarkhos is rejecting a thematic connection between the βουλὴ Διός in the Iliad and in the Kypria. The D scholia (in the Venetus A ad loc.) fills in the picture: ἄλλοι δὲ ἀπὸ ἱστορίας τινὸς εἶπον εἰρηκέναι τὸν Ὅμηρον. φασὶ γὰρ τὴν γῆν βαρουμένην ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων πολυπληθείας, μηδεμιᾶς ἀνθρώπων οὔσης εὐσεβείας, αἰτῆσαι τὸν Δία κουφισθῆναι τοῦ ἄχθους. τὸν δὲ Δία, πρῶτον μὲν εὐθὺς ποιῆσαι τὸν Θηβαϊκὸν πόλεμον, δι’ οὗ πολλοὺς πάνυ ἀπώλεσεν. ὕστερον δὲ πάλιν συμβούλῳ τῷ Μώμῳ χρησάμενος, ἣν Διὸς βουλὴν Ὅμηρός φησιν, ἐπειδὴ οἷός τε ἦν κεραυνοῖς ἢ κατακλυσμοῖς πάντας διαφθείρειν, ὅπερ τοῦ Μώμου κωλύσαντος, ὑποθεμένου δὲ αὐτῷ γνώμας δύο, τὴν Θέτιδος θνητογαμίαν, καὶ θυγατρὸς καλὴν γένναν, ἐξ ὧν ἀμφοτέρων πόλεμος Ἕλλησί τε καὶ Βαρβάροις ἐγένετο, ἀφ’ οὗ συνέβη κουφισθῆναι τὴν γῆν, πολλῶν ἀναιρεθέντων. ἡ δὲ ἱστορία παρὰ Στασίνῳ τῷ τὰ Κύπρια πεποιηκότι … . καὶ τὰ μὲν παρὰ τοῖς νεωτέροις ἱστορούμενα περὶ τῆς τοῦ Διὸς βουλῆς, ἐστὶ τάδε. (This text is conveniently included by Bernabé as item I in his first apparatus to fr. 1 of the Kypria, pp. 43–44.) We need not assume, however, that the oral tradition faced the hearer with a dichotomy of mutually exclusive options. As Burgess (2001:149–150) observes, “it is best to suppose that the reference to the plan of Zeus at Iliad 1.5 can suggest both the Iliadic and Cyclic manifestations of this phrase, not just one or the other” (cf. also his n. 61, p. 246). In other words, we should not assume that the Kypria ‘copied’ a fixed Iliad or vice versa: the relationship between them was one of oral traditions interacting through recurrent performances in the minds and repertories of individual singers. One should not rule out the possibility that the audience or their bard may have interpreted Α 5 in the light of what we now consider cyclic themes.
[ back ] 42. As Pfeiffer (1968:1.73) rightly observes, Aristotle Sophistical Refutations 171a10–11 implies that the Homeric authorship of the Epic Cycle was still widely received even in his time (his own stance against it notwithstanding). Furthermore, Nagy (1996b:38, 89–90) has convincingly argued that the ‘circle of poetry’ is a metaphor (natural to Indo-European poetics) of a perfect (notional) whole, of a tradition of poetry viewed as a superb composite artifact, whose individual parts are masterfully fitted together by the wordsmith-poet. The archetypal ἀοιδός (once the cause for the notional fixity of the tradition was transferred from the divine to the human realm of individual authorship) is none other than Ὅμ-ηρος, i.e. ‘Mr. Com-poser’ (§7.2.2 n. 121). For the ancient attribution of the Cycle to Homer see Nagy 1990c:78 and Burgess 2001:129–130.
[ back ] 43. Λ 78 Ρ 321 Τ 86–88 α 348 θ 82; cf. θ 579–580.
[ back ] 44. “[W]e are simply told that he did not accept the offering” (Russo et al. 1992:41).
[ back ] 45. ὀψὲ κακῶς νεῖαι, ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους, | νηὸς ἐπ’ ἀλλοτρίης· δήεις δ’ ἐν πήματα οἴκῳ.
[ back ] 46. ὀψὲ κακῶς ἔλθοι, ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους, | νηὸς ἐπ’ ἀλλοτρίης, εὕροι δ’ ἐν πήματα οἴκῳ (ι 534–535).
[ back ] 47. For a forceful defense of the priority of Zeus’ will in the Odyssey, presiding over the opposition of Athena to Poseidon, see Reinhardt 1996: “If the world experience of the Iliad is the result of a battle in which Zeus remains victorious despite setbacks, then the fates of the Odyssey are decided by a game of opposing and yielding, which leaves Zeus as the one on top, the one to whose will all the other gods submit” (87). Cf. Marks 2008.
[ back ] 48. Cf. Nagy 2003:27 and 21–38 passim.
[ back ] 49. Cf. González 2000:278–279. The prophecy is otherwise known from Pindar Pythian 4.71–78 and Pherekydes (FGH 3 F105).
[ back ] 50. For a succinct statement and analysis of this phenomenon see Nagy 1990c:143n40. Some critics even deny Homeric poetry and its performance any connection at all to cult or ritual. But cf. Nagy 1990b:10–12.
[ back ] 51. For a look at the poetics of προοίμια see Koller 1956. Cf. Nagy 1990c:353–360 and Nagy 1996c:62–64.
[ back ] 52. It is currently fashionable to deny a cultic dimension to the Homeric hymns. A recent survey of Greek ‘cult songs’ tersely dismisses them “partly because they are not cult hymns in any real sense” (Furley and Bremer 2001:1.43). Strictly speaking, it is not clear that they are also being denied a religious dimension, for the same writers oppose their genre (which they call ‘rhapsodic’) to “all the other genres of religious hymns” (1.42, my emphasis), thereby apparently conceding that the Homeric hymns, too, are in some sense ‘religious.’ A distinction between ‘religious’ and ‘cultic’ during the archaic and classical periods, however, is problematic and calls for careful elucidation. But in the section devoted to the Homeric hymns Furley and Bremer wield it without adequate scholarly nuance. If the key difference is the setting and peculiar manner of a hymn’s performance, when it comes to the Homeric hymns their treatment fails to address this matter, content with a cursory mention of “rhapsodic competitions at the pan-Hellenic centres” and possibly also “more informal recitations of epic at banquets, for example” (1.43). The reader who wants to understand the distinction between cult and religious songs looks in vain for guidance in the section devoted to ‘cult song’ (1.14–20): terms that are just as problematic—religious ceremonial, cult images, religious adoration, gifts and offerings, melody and rhythm, epiphanies, congregational singing, etc.—are massed to paint a composite picture that does not fully apply to any one of the hymnic categories selected for treatment. What makes a song a ‘cult hymn’? Do we need melody, or is recitation sufficient? Must it be accompanied by dancing? To what degree must its composition, its content, its tone be public? Must it address the divinity directly and must it do so corporately as ‘we’? Or is a choral ‘I’ sufficient? Does the corporate appropriation of an individual hymn (whose original authorial ‘I’ was not choral) suffice to make it a cult song? Can we tell when this has happened? Must the ‘Du-Stil’ predominate over the ‘Er-Stil’? Why? Must performance take place in the context of a public sacrifice? Questions like these can be multiplied sine fine. I do not mean to imply that they should not be posed or that satisfying answers cannot be offered. But it is wrong simply to dismiss the Homeric hymns because they are not ‘cult hymns,’ without a careful account of the rationale followed. In fact, Furley and Bremer (1.43) themselves list two reasons to resist marginalizing them: cult hymns are not a homogeneous body to begin with, showing significant disparity according to individual cult and genre; and the emphasis on ‘objective narrative’ (i.e. ‘Er-Stil’) has to do more with the genre to which they were a prelude than with their character as hymns: the rhapsode, after all, did address the god. (Race 1990:103n48 proves that not only is the distinction precarious, but the way in which it is applied to the Homeric hymns, too, is questionable.) Full consideration of the issues involved here, even though obviously relevant, exceeds the limits of the present work. In a future study I intend to carry out a comprehensive analysis of this matter.
[ back ] 53. See above, §7.2.1.
[ back ] 54. Cf. van Groningen 1948 and West 1978a:137.
[ back ] 55. See above, §7.2.3 n. 140. The archetypal nature of divine action is also on display in Hesiod Theogony 71–75, where the rule of Zeus and his apportioning τιμαί to the rest of the immortals is celebrated by the Muses at the beginning of Hesiod’s song: their theogony is none other than Hesiod’s own theogony.
[ back ] 56. On this concept see Kleingünther 1933.
[ back ] 57. On the earliest reliable attestations of the name ‘Homer,’ see above, §6.3.
[ back ] 58. This move was prerequisite for an openly critical evaluation of the epic tradition.
[ back ] 59. The bibliography on the truth claims (or fictive character) of archaic epic is vast. I can only give here a small selection of the relevant literature: Luther 1935, Frisk 1936, Luther 1958, Setti 1958, Accame 1963, Krischer 1965, Detienne 1996 [1967], Adkins 1972, Snell 1975, Levet 1976, Stroh 1976, Pucci 1977, Rösler 1980, Cole 1983, Puelma 1989, Ritoók 1989, Pratt 1993, Gill and Wiseman 1993, Finkelberg 1998, and Levet 2008.
[ back ] 60. For the concept of ψεῦδος in archaic Greek literature see Luther 1935, Levet 1976:201–235, and Detienne 1996:158n4.
[ back ] 61. As Nagy (1990c:57) notes, his very itinerancy would have made a singer conscious of local variations.
[ back ] 62. Cf. ξ 387–389. Odysseus’ elaborate lies in the Odyssey belong to his program of disguise and recognition, putting his interlocutors to the test. I cannot accept the attempt by Heiden (2007:171–172) to reconceive the articulation of this challenge in Hesiod Theogony 26–28 as a “threat to listeners or readers who might find the Muses’ songs unbelievable.” I find implausible his suggestion that Hesiod adopted a strategy altogether the child of our own postmodern times and disavowed the very distinction between truth and lies to preempt criticism of his poetry. More below, §8.2, on Heiden’s semantic argument.
[ back ] 63. Cf. Hesiod Works and Days 24–26.
[ back ] 64. Theognis 390, too, associates ψεύδεα and οὐλόμεναι ἔριδες.
[ back ] 65. Other Iliadic occurrences of ψεῦδος pertain to the following contexts: where reputation and family history is involved (Δ 404 Ε 635); in connection with oath-breaking (Δ 235); with promises (sometimes implicit or assumed), especially divine ones with an oracular or prophetic valence (Β 349 Μ 164 Φ 276 Ω 222; cf. Luther 1935:87); or where faithful reporting is in view (Ο 159). The case of Β 81 is complex: Zeus intends destruction on the Akhaians and sends an οὖλος ὄνειρος (Β 6), a dream that not only spells ruin but is also false: it is not true that Troy may ‘now’ by taken (cf. Β 37–38). Agamemnon, however, fails to appreciate its deceptive nature—for which he is called νήπιος (Β 38)—and tells the other chieftains. Thus the performer’s challenge to his audience devolves on the Akhaian leaders, and it falls to Nestor, standing in for the rest, to fail the test. But, he makes clear, they would have called it a lie (ψεῦδός κεν φαῖμεν Β 81) had any other than Agamemnon told it. Of interest here is that the status of the dream is connected with the speaker’s, who tells what amounts to an alternative denouement for the story of Troy: for the city cannot now be taken lest the tradition be falsified (cf. Β 349). This is further brought out by Agamemnon, who turns the dream on its head by telling the army what, from his perspective, is a lie, but arguably, from the point of view of Zeus, is partially true.
[ back ] 66. ὁππότ’ ἔρις καὶ νεῖκος ἐν ἀθανάτοισιν ὄρηται, | καί ῥ’ ὅστις ψεύδηται Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἐχόντων (782–783).
[ back ] 67. See above, §7.2.1.
[ back ] 68. Di Gregorio 1975 ad loc. is doubtless right in substituting ἄναυδος for the lemma οὐδέ ποτ’ ἀμβροσίης: “οὐδέ – ἀμβροσίης v. 796 … seclusi et ἄναυδος praeeunte Sittl ut lemma inserui.”
[ back ] 69. The significance of the number nine is not clear (cf. 789–790), but it is noteworthy that it is the same period of time Hephaistos took refuge with Thetis after Hera cast him off Olympos (Σ 400). The Trojan War, of course, lasted nine years, with the city taken only on the tenth (γ 118 ε 107 ξ 240 χ 228); and there is the universal of the nine months of gestation with birth on the tenth, counting inclusively (e.g. Hymn to Hermes 11–12; cf. Theogony 56, 722–725 and West 1966:341 ad Theogony 636); note, moreover, the temporal patterns in Hesiod fr. 304 MW. It is curious, if arguably coincidental, that, Panhellenic festivals being penteteric, the period of impotence covers precisely two such consecutive cycles.
[ back ] 70. Pace S. West (in Heubeck et al. 1988 ad δ 140), who, dismissing the evidence that ψεύδομαι can denote “unintentionally saying what is not true,” is forced to reject the translation, “Shall I be wrong or right in what I say?” But even she admits that Ε 635 could be so taken (and, I would add, must be so taken, if we adopt the most natural translation). It is true that the real question, as proved by the rejoinder ‘my heart bids me’, is whether to speak or to keep silent; but the only reason Helen has a stake in the choice is that she may be wrong if she speaks—here, she is not certain whether in fact the young man before her is Odysseus’ son or not. Similarly in error is Adkins (1972:14), who assumes that Helen’s statement may revive painful memories of war and cause so acute a feeling of embarrassment that she really does consider lying to disguise her thoughts. This, however, is contradicted by the following κέλεται δέ με θυμός: the choice is between speech and silence, and not between deceitful and truthful speaking, which would call for γάρ, not δέ, as the joining particle (‘since I must speak, shall I tell the truth or dissemble?’). Adkins’s reading, moreover, would force us to conclude that Helen had openly acknowledged that she might resort to lies: would such an admission be likely to escape opprobrium? If not, why would Helen willingly bring herself under moral condemnation, if, as alleged, she was so eager to escape embarrassment on another account? I find this reading socially and psychologically implausible. Note, further, Levet 1976: “Le ψεῦδος, à l’origine, désigne deux notions différentes, qui sont étroitement associées à la conception ancienne de certains mécanismes psychologiques, le faux par conjecture non conforme à ce qui est et le faux par invention” (234).
[ back ] 71. In Hesiod’s Theogony, ψεύδεα (229) corresponds to ἀψευδέα (233) just as ἀληθέα (233) to λήθεται (236). Cf. Detienne 1996:158n4. I cannot accept the view of Simondon (1982:113–114) who considers ἔτυμα and ἀληθέα the basic oppositive pair. More on this below.
[ back ] 72. For the use of παραπείθω in this connection see Luther 1935:98.
[ back ] 73. μορφή, with only two occurrences in Homer, is both times used with ἔπεα: μορφὴ ἐπέων (λ 367) and θεὸς μορφὴν ἔπεσι στέφει (θ 170). As DELG s.v. notes, μορφή “signifie ‘forme’ en tant que cette forme dessine un tout en principe harmonieux,” and its restriction to speech, however accidental, highlights its affinity with the rhapsodic appropriation of κόσμος explored above (p. 194).
[ back ] 74. Perhaps the most immediately relevant expression of this sentiment is the hymn to Zeus that opens the Works and Days (3–8). Cf. also Hesiod Theogony 442–443, Υ 242–243, and Xenophanes DK 21 B25.
[ back ] 75. Treatments of Hesiod Theogony 26–28 and the surrounding context are legion. Nearly all students of Greek archaic poetry have at some point advanced an interpretation of these famous words. The last fifty years have witnessed a proliferation of philosophical readings of postmodern flavor that make ‘lying-as-fiction’ fundamental to Hesiodic poetics. I believe that these readings are too clever by half and impossibly anachronistic. They lack cultural motivation and depend on the unlikely notion of an extraordinary individual poetic genius (‘Hesiod’), well ahead not only of his own time but, arguably, of most, if not all, of his successors. The words of Detienne (1996:22, quoting in part the opening of Wismann 1996 from an earlier 1993 mimeographed text), although intended as a defense of his structuralist method, seem apposite here: “Is it legitimate to apply to the author of the Theogony the modern hermeneutic principle on which the coherence of the work’s meaning resides, in the last analysis, on the autonomous decision of a single individual? The constraints of this principle involve accepting the work in its autonomy, the coherence of its meaning, a unitary project, an author at work, and a peerless interpreter responding to the appeal of a peerless author.” (For Wismann’s answer to Detienne, see Wismann 1996:23–24.) Detienne’s objections stand a fortiori if instead of poems created by a single, definitive personality we envision a diachronically developing, continental tradition of epic poetry shaped in performance by the hands of many bards. Modern philosophical speculations are oversubtle and ultimately sterile, because one cannot securely embed them in the cultural context of archaic Greece. Thus, for example, with much semantic analysis that is doubtless right and useful Levet 1976 includes sustained psychological speculation about the archaic mind that I, for one, find hard to follow and even harder to ascribe with any plausibility to the time and place of its alleged currency. What is lacking in many studies, Levet’s included, is a credible cultural motivation—a motivation that can (I submit) be confidently found only in the dynamics of diffusion and reception central to the performance of traditional epic poetry in the archaic period. (Cf. Nagy 1990b:43.) Such dynamics involve the full mythico-religious context that Detienne emphasizes and readily explain what Levet’s treatment unnecessarily convolutes. I cannot in this book thoroughly review the various interpretations offered by modern scholars. I must limit myself to outlining and critiquing a handful of proposals that have proved especially influential in recent times and have in turn encouraged many implausible readings. For a delightful, if ultimately unconvincing, treatment that conveniently reviews modern interpretive approaches to Theogony 26–28, see Katz and Volk 2000. Katz and Volk’s view that ‘mere bellies’ refers “to the role that [Hesiod] is about to play, his role as a recipient or, rather, a receptacle of inspiration” (127) is implausible because it would no longer make the term one of opprobrium, thus following awkwardly on κάκ’ ἐλέγχεα. I doubt that in the archaic Greek setting allegedly reducing the poet to a passive instrument should have been deemed “a (teasing) insult” (129). I am, however, sympathetic to their intuition that “what the Muses are stressing is the total dependence of a poet on their inspiration, as well as their complete wilfulness in granting it” (127). Two other works that should be singled out for their usefulness are Judet de la Combe 1993 and Leclerc 1993:167–221. See also the convenient collection of articles in Blaise et al. 1996.
[ back ] 76. So Nagy 1990b:45–47.
[ back ] 77. Cf. Svenbro 1976:50–59 and Nagy 1999a:229–233, 261 §11n4. To date, the only compelling interpretation of γαστέρες οἶον is Svenbro’s proposal as modified by Nagy, according to which the ‘mere bellies’ indicts poets who, driven by their physical needs, suit their poetry to the demands of a local audience. In contrast to the oversubtle philosophical readings of others, this interpretation alone accommodates concerns that may be plausibly ascribed to a Greek archaic performer of epic; and it alone bespeaks an interest in the poem’s obvious Panhellenic stake and scope. On ξ 124–125 see further below, §8.2
[ back ] 78. For Odysseus’ lies (e.g. τ 203) and his portrayal as a poet’s equal, see Nagy 1990b:43–47.
[ back ] 79. Cf. Verdenius 1972:234.
[ back ] 80. This would be so even if, in actual practice, to a cultural outsider the performance of local poetry were formally indistinguishable from the one envisioned for the Theogony. The point is not to suggest that the proclamation of truth to which ἀληθέα γηρύσασθαι (28) makes reference is of necessity metrically and melodically different from what local performers might have offered (though, in time, Panhellenic diffusion may affect these too); it is rather to suggest that Hesiod alone enjoys the authority exclusive to truthful inspiration. And yet for the cultural insider the song in its totality, formally and thematically (to use our analytical categories), is reconceived as radically ‘other’: only now may it be called ‘beautiful song’, taught by the Muses (22).
[ back ] 81. The notion that gods may prompt, or somehow be instrumental in bringing about, actions for which they in turn hold their human agents culpable may trouble and perplex us. But it is unquestionably part of the fabric of ancient religious thought. See, for example, my discussion above (§8.1.3) of the will of Zeus in the Odyssey. For two Semitic parallels, see 1 Kings 22:19–23 and Ezekiel 14:9. Regarding Zedekiah’s statement, ‘In what manner did Yaweh’s spirit pass from me to speak with you?’, De Vries (1985:268) writes: “[W]e interpret his question to mean that since he has prophetic inspiration, how can Micaiah presume to claim the same prophetic inspiration? Micaiah’s vision-oracle already offered the answer to this dilemma: a particular prophet can be inspired by Yahweh, even if it is a lying spirit which entices the people to the judgment that Yahweh has prepared for them.”
[ back ] 82. Cf. Nagy 1996a esp. 43. It bears repeating that there is no force to the objection that the rebuke of shepherds as ‘mere bellies’ cannot have performers in view because Hesiod’s initiation—his being taught noble song, his receiving the laurel staff, and his having a wondrous voice breathed into him by the goddesses—shows him not to have been a singer before his encounter with the Muses. His Dichterweihe in toto, as well as in its several elements, is not to be read in a rigid and superficial biographic fashion but as embodying and articulating the Panhellenic authority and authorization that he previously lacked and is now invested with. Cf. González (forthcoming).
[ back ] 83. Note the plural ποιμένες (26), which is entirely natural in the context of a pastoral community of herdsmen-performers, even though admittedly it does not require the view that the Muses are actually speaking to a group of shepherds (cf. Katz and Volk 2000:123n8). Hesiod could readily stand as a representative member through which the larger community is addressed. Cf. Lord 1960:21.
[ back ] 84. Stoddard 2004:73–79; cf. Clay 2003:57 (with n. 37) and Tsagalis 2006:84. The view of Detienne and Vernant 1989:57–61 is somewhat different and more nuanced. Historically speaking, pastoralism was indeed man’s first step towards civilized living. It may therefore function symbolically, as Stoddard suggests (2004:76), as the boundary between the wild and the civilized. This fact, in a sense, is reflected by my argument immediately below, except that I ground it in the economic realities of Greece during the Iron Age and the archaic period. My proposal is therefore rather different from Stoddard’s claim that as a social class shepherds symbolize “man’s intermediate position between god and beast” (76). I doubt her claim that this more abstract notion may be found as such in the ancient poetry of Greece and the Near East. For example, that a shepherds’ hut is where Enkidu is taught the rudiments of civilization (cf. Pritchard 1969:77 Tablet Ⅱ.ⅱ–ⅲ) seems to me to make precisely the opposite point and to place shepherds decisively on the civilized side of the man-beast divide. (The harshness of their livelihood is acknowledged at ⅱ.22–23, where the ground is called ‘the shepherd’s bed’, and at ⅲ.30–34, where Enkidu watches over herdsmen by chasing and capturing wild animals.) Contrast to Stoddard’s claim the arguably civilizing, pervasive Homeric image, readily intelligible to a Greek archaic audience, of the ‘shepherd of the hosts’ (ποιμὴν λαῶν) who ‘orders’ (διακοσμέω) his men. For its NE background see West 1997:226–227.
[ back ] 85. The implicit parallel, however, does reinforce the authority of the epic performer, as he confronts and seeks to shape the institutions of power.
[ back ] 86. For the proposal that pastoralism was of relatively greater importance during the Dark Age, see Snodgrass 1971:379–380, 1980:35–36, 1987:190–209, and 2006:134–135 (first published in 1989). Supportive are Morgan 1990:76, Hanson 1995, and Thomas and Conant 1999:43–45. For criticism, see Cherry 1988, Foxhall 1995, and Howe 2008 (cf. Hall 2007:61). Yet even Howe (2008:25) presents his criticism merely as “an adjustment” to Snodgrass’s model of social evolution.
[ back ] 87. Cf. Hesiod Works and Days 120, 308 with Howe 2008:43. Cf. González (forthcoming).
[ back ] 88. The success of the Greek city as a political project hinged largely on the integration and complementarity of town (ἄστυ or πόλις) and countryside (χώρα or γῆ); in particular, it depended on the ability of its institutions to reconcile the interests of extra-urban landholders (who may have clustered into smaller κῶμαι) and settlers from the ἄστυ (who may also own land outside the urban settlement). Many urban landholders were not from the elite and did not own extensive tracts of land that sustained large-scale grazing. There was, of course, no real urbanization in the archaic period. Before the fifth century, for example, the astu of Thespiai was not a major nucleated settlement “but rather a cluster of small village-sized settlements” (cf. Snodgrass 1991:14). For brief statements of the relationship between the polis and its hinterland see Effenterre 1985:203–206; Hansen 2006:101–105; and Hall 2007:67–79, 237–242. For greater detail, cf. Price and Murray 1990 and Rich and Wallace-Hadrill 1991 (especially Snodgrass 1991 and Osborne 1991:120–121). Writing about the tending of herds in classical Athens, Howe 2008 confirms that wealthy Athenians could only graze large herds “in the border areas” (63). After reviewing several testimonia (among them, [Demosthenes] 47 and Isaios 6), he observes: “The sheep and goats in the above examples are all treated separately, as herds, usually together with their shepherds, rather than as part of a working farm. Recent archaeological evidence from the Attic countryside seems to support such conclusions about semi-mobile herds of sheep and goats, grazing marginal pastures at some distance from the main agricultural base” (61). Ideologically speaking, when compared to the ideal of the citizen farmer, herding during the classical period remains marginal in the political imaginaire. This fact has its roots in ideological developments that marked the transition from Dark-Age to archaic Greece and that are intimately associated with the rise of the polis and the Panhellenic cultural trends it fostered. Cf. Morris 1991.
[ back ] 89. However integral to the workings of the polis, large-scale herding remained an elite economic activity in tension with the polity’s larger project of equal rights for all citizens (cf. Howe 2008). This means that, not only during the formative period of archaic epic but also for archaic and classical polis audiences, the figure of the field-dwelling shepherd would appear marginal to the current political culture, and his function coded as elite and ‘old-world,’ standing outside the dominant stream of Panhellenic cultural trends. With regard to the performer’s dependence on the patronage of the polis’ social elites (and the elites’ control of his cultural authority), the view of Svenbro (1976:50–59) dovetails with mine.
[ back ] 90. Cf. West 1966: “Sheep are conspicuous by their absence in the Works and Days (except in the spurious Days), appearing only in 516 in a pictorial image illustrating the strength of Boreas. For meat, milk, and skins Hesiod relies consistently on cows and goats” (160).
[ back ] 91. Hansen 2006:68 writes: “[T]he Greeks distinguished explicitly settlement in a city (polis) from settlement in the country (chora), and they seem never to have been interested in whether settlement in the country was in villages or on isolated farmsteads. They were much more interested in political structures than in forms of settlement, so they contrasted the people who lived in the polis with the people who lived in the chora … and almost all their attention was directed to the polis. Living in komai (villages) without any real city centre was regarded in the Classical period as an outmoded form of settlement going back to the pre-polis age … .” On ἄγραυλος see Stoddard 2004:74 and n. 35.
[ back ] 92. This is the context in which one should read the emphatic inclusio that frames the Muses’ words: Μοῦσαι Ὀλυμπιάδες, κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο (25) and ὣς ἔφασαν κοῦραι μεγάλου Διὸς ἀρτιέπειαι (29) do not primarily serve to emphasize their divine status vis-à-vis the human shepherds, pace Stoddard (2004:79) and Tsagalis (2006:84), but the Olympian—and hence Panhellenic—status of their inspiration.
[ back ] 93. Luther 1935: “Im homerischen Epos fallen ‘Dichtung’ und ‘Wahrheit’ zusammen. … Bei Hesiod ist diese Anschauung bereits überwunden” (124); and again: “Der grundsätzliche Unterschied der hesiodischen Einstellung zum ψεῦδος-Phänomen im Vergleich zu der des homerischen Menschen besteht darin, daß Hesiod dasselbe als Problem nimmt. Bei den Dichtern des Epos und den von ihnen gestalteten Helden fehlt jede derartige Reflexion” (138).
[ back ] 94. This is what Katz and Volk (2000:122) call the ‘monist’ interpretation: “[it] hold[s] that the two verses [Theogony 27–28] form a unity and refer to all poetry, including Hesiod’s own” (their emphasis). Although I call it ‘revisionary’ below, it is at least as old as Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1927:49n1): “Ein Dichter, der selbst so viel erfindet, tut gut, es auch den Göttinnen zuzuschreiben, welche ihn begeistern.”
[ back ] 95. She adds: “To refuse to accept the paradoxical character of the text will not make it go away; better to confront it and live with the consequences” (Clay 2003:59n43). Indeed, if it is, and must be, so. But, in fact, what Clay deems a ‘paradox’ is not inherent to the Hesiodic tradition and is ascribed to it only by choice. To foreclose what are arguably more plausible interpretive choices by denying them legitimacy a priori is in fact to beg the question.
[ back ] 96. For my critique of Heiden’s argument see below, §8.2.
[ back ] 97. Almost any treatment of archaic poetics validates this pervasive fact. Convenient starting points are Maehler 1963, Rösler 1980 (whom Bowie 1993 criticizes unpersuasively), Verdenius 1983, and Puelma 1989.
[ back ] 98. For Pindar’s own approach to the poetics of truth, see Verdenius 1983:29n73 and Koning 2010:310–318.
[ back ] 99. Leclerc’s reservations are fully justified: “Il serait … paradoxal de supposer qu’au moment même de son initiation, le poète prête aux Muses qui le légitiment une intention aussi manifestement contraire aux prétentions véridiques qu’il affiche” (1993:71–72; cf. 206). Unfortunately, Leclerc too ultimately inscribes the ‘lies’ within the horizon of the ‘truth’ (at 71); only, she deems them deliberate ‘fictions’ without the intent to deceive (72) or the distorted product of an imperfect reception (208). The latter alternative, with its subtle displacement of responsibility, does not however survive the clarity with which the Muses own that they, not their hearers, are the ones who know how to speak the ψεύδεα. It would be odd indeed to suppose that the Muses actually meant, ‘We know how to tell many misunderstandings … ; and we know, when willing, how to proclaims truths’. With the focus arguably on their will (εὖτ’ ἐθέλωμεν 28), it is hard to argue persuasively that the goddesses bear no responsibility for the reception of their words (however we choose to describe them). When willing, they also know, after all, how to proclaim what ex hypothesi are truthful, and truthfully apprehended, statements. Leclerc (1993:209) soon substitutes for her suggestion that ψεύδεα are distorted misunderstandings the proposal that they are the accommodations of divine language to the limited cognitive capacities of the audience. Clay (2003:46) is right to complain that “[l]ike many critics, Stroh ignores εὖτ’ ἐθέλωμεν in line 28.” Cf. Koning 2010:302n17.
[ back ] 100. Tsagalis 2006: “In this post-Promethean world, divine speech is often an unsolvable riddle, a semantical conundrum whose content humans will always struggle to decypher. … Keeping its distance from the absolute distinction between truth and falsehood the Odyssey is so fond of, the speech of the Muses indicates that the language of the Theogony will indeed be a jigsaw puzzle deliberately hard to solve” (85). Tsagalis follows Pratt 1993:110–111.
[ back ] 101. Cf. Edwards 1971.
[ back ] 102. Cf. Theogony 783–804 and Works and Days 708–709.
[ back ] 103. Especially at 202–210 and 297–318. I cannot, however, embrace his able defense of the well-known view (if now fallen out of favor) that Theogony 27–28 articulates a polemic against Homer, however much his opinion reflects an actual interpretive strand of the ancient reception of Hesiod.
[ back ] 104. As G. Danek perceptively remarks apud Tsagalis 2006:133.
[ back ] 105. Cf. Porzig 1942:218 and Cole 1983.
[ back ] 106. So, for example, Krischer 1965: “Die ἀληθείη ist der Bericht, der die Dinge darstellt, wie sie der Sprechende erlebt hat, ohne daß dabei etwas unbemerkt bleibt” (167). After him, in various ways, also Snell 1975:14, Cole 1983:12, Wismann 1996:18, Levet 1976:16, and others. All attempts to motivate the coinage of ἀληθείη and explain its use with reference to the psychology of perception entailed by λανθάνω, λήθω, or a hypothetical *λῆθος (as ‘what does not/cannot remain hidden’, ‘what does not escape notice’, or ‘what forces itself upon the conscience’) seem thin and unconvincing. Why should a marked term newly minted to designate veracity in the telling, which ordinarily depends on the will of the speaker, be correlated with (some version of) the negative of mental neglect? Who in the archaic Greek world could have felt the psychological need, and under what social circumstances, to coin a word whose purported meaning bore so odd a relation to its alleged linguistic forebears? I submit that looking instead to the conceptual universe of archaic Greek traditional performance readily provides a plausible context and motivation for the origin and the desired justification for the usage.
[ back ] 107. Cf. Nagy 1990c: “The latest performance is by necessity a crisis point for the tradition of myth, in that the latest performance determines what continues to be transmitted and what does not” (57–58).
[ back ] 108. False, ineffective stories are eventually consigned to oblivion.
[ back ] 109. Cf. Theogony 98–103, especially the antithetical parallelism of αἶψ’ ὅ γε δυσφροσυνέων ἐπιλήθεται οὐδέ τι κηδέων | μέμνηται (102–103). For the ways in which archaic Greek Mnēmosynē entails Lēthē see Nagy 1990c:58–59, who builds on the insights of Detienne 1996. (Nagy 1990c:58–68 probes the archaic Greek notion of ἀληθείη.) See also Simondon 1982:128–131, 141–149. West 1966:175 appositely cites Anthologia Palatina 10.67.
[ back ] 110. Cf. Levet 1976:96.
[ back ] 111. Levet 2008:18n26. Levet seems to endorse a biographic approach to Homeric and Hesiodic poetry that embraces a ‘standard’ chronology (standard, that is, among scholars of his persuasion).
[ back ] 112. He denies it to Ψ 359–361, disapprovingly citing Heitsch’s words: “ἀλήθεια ist nicht oder nicht nur als Privativbildung zu λανθάνειν zu verstehen und heißt also nicht nur Unverborgenheit, sondern ἀλήθεια ist auch die Negation zu λήθη und ἐπιλανθάνεσθαι und heißt also auch Unvergessenheit” (Heitsch 1968:35, apud Levet 1976:96n2). Pace Levet, I believe that in this Homeric passage the juxtaposition of μεμνέῳτο and ἀληθείην is deliberate and lends itself readily to a metapoetic reading.
[ back ] 113. Levet 2008: “[L]es auteurs anciens ne manquent pas de rapprocher ἀληθής, λήθη et λανθάνω, des origines de la littérature jusqu’au Ⅳe siècle et au-delà encore. Il y a là un fait absolument incontestable. Mais il est impossible de tirer d’une pratique rhétorique des conclusions justes sur la valeur originelle d’ἀληθής et d’ἀληθείη” (19–20).
[ back ] 114. See immediately above for his words, cited from Levet 1976:16.
[ back ] 115. Vernant 1985:109–136, at 115: “Le passé ainsi dévoilé est beaucoup plus que l’antécédent du présent: il en est la source. En remontant jusqu’à lui, la remémoration cherche non à situer les événements dans un cadre temporel, mais à atteindre le fond de l’être, à découvrir l’originel, la réalité primordiale dont est issu le cosmos et qui permet de comprendre le devenir dans son ensemble.” Although Vernant’s monograph is subtitled “Studies in Historical Psychology,” his focus on the structures and institutions of culture saves him from the sterile conjectures about individual psychology that often mar Levet’s otherwise helpful analysis.
[ back ] 116. Νηρέα δ’ ἀψευδέα καὶ ἀληθέα γείνατο Πόντος | πρεσβύτατον παίδων· αὐτὰρ καλέουσι γέροντα, | οὕνεκα νημερτής τε καὶ ἤπιος, οὐδὲ θεμίστων | λήθεται, ἀλλὰ δίκαια καὶ ἤπια δήνεα οἶδεν. Cf. the convoluted reading in Levet 2008:20–23.
[ back ] 117. Cf. Burkert 1985:172 with bibliography.
[ back ] 118. See West 1966:233 on the association of ἀψευδής “with oracles and the like.”
[ back ] 119. I have no a priori objection to Luther’s point that, if (as he assumes) ἀληθής were an s-stem derivative of *λῆθος and if Theokritos’ λᾶθος were its Doric form, it would be a methodological fallacy eis ipsis to ascribe Theokritos’ sense to the alleged archaic form (Luther 1954:35).
[ back ] 120. οὐκέτι γάρ σε, | κῶρε, θέλω λυπεῖν ποχ’ ὁρώμενος, ἀλλὰ βαδίζω | ἔνθα τύ μευ κατέκρινας, ὅπῃ λόγος ἦμεν ἀτερπέων | ξυνὸν τοῖσιν ἐρῶσι τὸ φάρμακον, ἔνθα τὸ λᾶθος (Theokritos 23.21–24). The parallel between λᾶθος and φάρμακον is almost certainly intended to recall Helen’s celebrated recourse to a φάρμακον in δ 219–226, a remedy that is described as κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων (221). The psychology of Helen’s drug is complex: it cannot be that it causes a straightforward failure to notice, since the passage avers that one who drinks it would not cry ‘even if they should slay before him with the bronze his brother or dear son and with his eyes he should behold it’ (δ 225–226, my emphasis). Perhaps we are to regard it as causing eventual forgetfulness, if in fact the intended order of events is not its ingestion first, and only then the experience of tragic loss. This is certainly possible with κατατεθναίη, and could be conjectured for δηϊόῳεν (then translating: ‘even if they should have slain’; note that I do not depend on syntactic arguments for this proposal but merely conjecture a sequence that the syntax does not decisively preclude). But perhaps the most natural reading is that the φάρμακον brings a certain emotional imperviousness that enables the failure to register the (full?) emotional force of subsequent events. This could be regarded as a qualified sense of forgetting just as well as a qualified sense of not noticing or passing over. Theogony 53–55 keeps plainly in view its own metapoetic potential. It is worth remarking that even in Β 33–34 eventual forgetfulness is only an intensification of actual neglect.
[ back ] 121. But Gow (1950–1952:2.410) reckons Stephanus’s emendation τὸ λάθας worthy of consideration: “sunt, qui pro λᾶθος legendum putent λάθας, ut sit: ἔνθα τὸ φάρμακον τὸ λάθας” (apud Reiske 1765–1766:2.38). If Stephanus is right, one could no longer have recourse to Theokritos in this connection.
[ back ] 122. Kamptz argues that Λῆθος (Β 843 Ρ 288), the name of the son of Teutamos and father of Hippothoos, is a backformation from Ληθαῖος or Ληθαῖον πεδίον (Kamptz 1982:111 §36g, 316 §80c; cf. LfgE s.v.). It may also be construed as the obvious masculine equivalent of Λήθη and could have been derived directly from it (cf. the New Pauly s.v. “Lethus”).
[ back ] 123. Cf. Chantraine 1999:1074 s.v. σφάλλω.
[ back ] 124. GG I.513 §Ⅲ.27a.β. Schwyzer further notes that ἀϊδής has no relation to εἶδος but to ἰδεῖν, nor ἀτυχής to τεῦχος.
[ back ] 125. Porzig (1942:218) puts it somewhat differently: he calls the usage at Μ 433 attributive, “sonst substantivisch ἀληθές oder ἀληθέα ebenfalls als Objekt zu Verben des Sagens.”
[ back ] 126. Snell 1975:15. His statement that “[b]ei Homer paßte das ἔτυμον eher für das Wort des Sehers, das ἀληθές eher für das der Musen” follows a priori from his tacit (and widely shared) conviction that ἔτυμα are derived from sense perception whereas ἀληθέα are strictly revelatory. This epistemological distinction is misplaced and the contrast is to be differently drawn.
[ back ] 127. This is explicitly the stance and contrast in Stoddard 2004.
[ back ] 128. West 1966:303 on Theogony 498–500; cf. Pausanias 10.24.6. It would be irrelevant, of course, whether the stone Pausanias saw was the very one referred to by the Theogony. Even if it was not, its existence and availability to Hellenistic theōroi would still serve to exhibit the aetiological force of the passage.
[ back ] 129. Not to mention the implications of its myths for the audience’s understanding and conceptualization of the cosmos. On aetiological myths in the Theogony, see West 1966:213 (on Theogony 154–210), 305 (on Theogony 507–616, which West calls “aetiological through and through”), and 401 (on Theogony 886–900).
[ back ] 130. See above, §8.2 n. 115 and §8.1.2.
[ back ] 131. Casevitz (1992:4) rightly emphasizes the engagement of the mantis with the past. Such engagement occurs with a view to explaining the present and predicting the future. Cf. p. 229 above on Epimenidēs.
[ back ] 132. Clay 2003: “[I]n the Works and Days, where [Hesiod] speaks of human things whose knowledge is granted to men through their own experience, Hesiod can declare to Perses his intention to tell him etetuma, ‘things as they are’” (78). I do not object to ‘things as they are’ as a translation of ἐτήτυμα; only, I add that to be able to see things as they really are one needs the inspired didactic paraenesis of the performer who has been taught by the Muses. On this point Hesiod’s authority turns. His is a privileged knowledge that is not “granted to men through their own experience.” Clay (2003:78n104) is wrong to see in G. Nagy’s (1992:50–52) diachronically modulated reading of ἐτήτυμα μυθησαίμην an interpretation that “would blur the important distinction that Hesiod makes between the contents of the two poems.” Cf. also Rousseau 1996:110–115.
[ back ] 133. “[B]y virtue of his mortal status [Hesiod] already has the ability to sing of mortal affairs” (81); “I would argue that this kind of truth [i.e. ἀληθέα] represents for Hesiod the ‘eternal truth’ of the cosmos, the sort of knowledge that only gods can have” (82); “The adversative force of τύνη· ἐγὼ δέ is extremely pronounced … : ‘Zeus, take care of your concerns … , while I, on the other hand, concern myself with the sorts of truths that mortals know” (83–84). A close reading of her footnote 52 on 82–83 shows how contrived the mapping ἀληθέα → ‘divine truths’, ἐτήτυμα → ‘mortal truths’ is.
[ back ] 134. The scholarly constructed opposition between a revelatory Theogony and an empirical Works and Days is surprisingly widespread (it is presupposed, for example, by Tsagalis 2006:84). Behind it stands a notion like the one articulated by Wismann (1996:18), which I quoted on §8.2 above.
[ back ] 135. Nelson 1998: “Hesiod is not teaching us how to farm. He is teaching us what the cycle of the year … implies about the will of Zeus. … His intention was rather to show us how the order of Zeus permeates nature and includes ourselves” (57–58).
[ back ] 136. Cf. Works and Days 818. His disapproval should be read against Works and Days 765–769.
[ back ] 137. Cf. Verdenius 1985: “[T]he truths proclaimed by the poet have a much wider scope than that of a personal quarrel: they refer to the good kind of life as contrasted with the wrong kind of life. The revelation of these truths was a task imposed on Hes[iod] by the Muses, as appears from Th. 27–8” (13, my emphasis).
[ back ] 138. Or, according to a competing reading, that he might see the assailing Syrian horses and chariots on fire as a sign of their entrapment.
[ back ] 139. δείξω δή τοι μέτρα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης, | οὔτε τι ναυτιλίης σεσοφισμένος οὔτε τι νηῶν (Works and Days 648–649).
[ back ] 140. τόσσον τοι νηῶν γε πεπείρημαι πολυγόμφων· | ἀλλὰ καὶ ὣς ἐρέω Ζηνὸς νόον αἰγιόχοιο· | Μοῦσαι γάρ μ’ ἐδίδαξαν ἀθέσφατον ὕμνον ἀείδειν (Works and Days 660–662).
[ back ] 141. Cf. Works and Days 105: οὕτως οὔ τί πη ἔστι Διὸς νόον ἐξαλέασθαι; Works and Days 483–484: ἄλλοτε δ’ ἀλλοῖος Ζηνὸς νόος αἰγιόχοιο, | ἀργαλέος δ’ ἄνδρεσσι καταθνητοῖσι νοῆσαι.
[ back ] 142. Cf. Rosen 1990:99–100.
[ back ] 143. Or, ‘few call it by its true name’. West (1978a:362) notes that “the abnormal adverbial ἀληθέα is developed from ἀληθέα μυθήσασθαι and the like.”
[ back ] 144. Even Stoddard (2004:81–82) plays up the significance of Hesiod’s diction on the grounds of his “etymologizing tendencies” (81n48). If one accepts her argument, then West’s holds true a fortiori.
[ back ] 145. Works and Days 768 uses ἀληθείη in regard to the people’s (λαοί) true discernment of the days from Zeus through political deliberation (ἀληθείην … κρίνοντες) that sets the civil calendar. There are actually slightly fewer uses of ἔτυμος (Theogony 27) and ἐτήτυμος (Works and Days 10) in the major Hesiodic poems than of ἀληθής (Theogony 28, 233; Works and Days 818) and ἀληθείη (Works and Days 768).
[ back ] 146. An omen that might have conveyed to Demeter what actually happened (ἐτήτυμα) is made concrete as ‘a truthful messenger from the birds [of omen]’ (οἰωνῶν τις … ἐτήτυμος ἄγγελος 46).
[ back ] 147. ‘I will tell you; for it is not inappropriate | since you ask, to tell you the truth’ (Hymn to Demeter 120–121).
[ back ] 148. Cf. Foley 1994:42.
[ back ] 149. Ernout and Meillet 1985:455 s.v. “obliuiscor.”
[ back ] 150. Leclerc 1993: “Contrairement aux ἀληθέα, indéterminés et ainsi absolus, les ‘mensonges’ s’inscrivent dans l’horizon de la vérité et se définissent par rapport à elle” (71); and: “Le premier terme [sc. ἔτυμος] désigne un type d’exactitude vérifiable dans la réalité sensible” (206). Simondon 1982: “[L]a vérité de l’ἀληθής est de l’ordre de la révélation. La vérité d’ἔτυμος est d’une autre nature, elle est celle ‘d’une identité entre une certaine présentation du réel et la réalité elle-même’” (113, quoting from Levet 1976:163).
[ back ] 151. The Muses do not say ἀληθέσιν ὁμοῖα not only because it is unmetrical but because they are not considering ψεύδεα chiefly as verbal art. Had they used ἀληθέσιν, they would have asserted that the ‘many lies’ resembled instances of truthful utterance. Their focus is rather on their likeness or correspondence to ‘things as they really are’. On Heiden’s view of the meaning of ὁμοῖος (Heiden 2007) see p. 259 below.
[ back ] 152. For a translation, see pp. 262–263 below.
[ back ] 153. Russo (in Russo et al. 1992) observes: “This passage, together with Il. ⅱ 645–52, is the earliest description we have of Crete and one of the most important pieces of historical information in Homer.”
[ back ] 154. νῦν μὲν δή σευ ξεῖνέ γ’ ὀΐω πειρήσεσθαι, | εἰ ἐτεὸν δὴ κεῖθι σὺν ἀντιθέοισ’ ἑτάροισι | ξείνισας ἐν μεγάροισιν ἐμὸν πόσιν, ὡς ἀγορεύεις (τ 215–217).
[ back ] 155. See above, §8.1.2. Cf. Nagy 2010b:157.
[ back ] 156. See, for example, Theogony 229, 233, 783; Works and Days 78, 709, 789. For Homer, see, for example, Δ 235 Ζ 163 Η 352 Φ 275–276 λ 363–366 ξ 125–127 (with ξ 156–157) ξ 296–297 387–388. Cf. Carlisle 1999 esp. 55–56. Carlisle’s conclusion at 91 that “the moral implications” evoked by the notion of ‘lie’ “are largely missing from Homeric contexts” is not supported by the passages above. But her larger point holds true metapoetically, i.e. from the point of view of inter- and intra-textuality. As she points out, “the speaker of Homeric pseudea intends to deceive” insofar as the “pseudo-word signals awareness that the promised outcome or reported event is not consistent with events as they will play out, or have played out, in the reality established by the main narrative” (55–56).
[ back ] 157. Heiden misses the point when he asserts that the consensus interpretation “would also have us suppose that the Muses used one of their three directly quoted verses merely to announce that they knew how to do what ordinary mortal deceivers could also do” (2007:169). I dispute the notion that ordinary mortal deceivers could lend their ‘lies’ the degree of authority and favorable cultural reception the Muses’ lying inspiration had arguably enjoyed before Hesiod’s challenge. But, granting Heiden’s contention for the sake of argument, the point would not have been that the Muses could do what ordinary mortal deceivers could also do, but that they had done it at all. Not to mention that, if Heiden is right, there is no a priori reason why mortal men could not also successfully resort unaided to the symbolic (fictive) truth-telling he ascribes to Hesiod’s Muses.
[ back ] 158. Thus, Heiden (2007:171) claims that “the Muses told Hesiod that they spoke only truth”; and that Hesiod’s audiences would have to accept his poetry “even when its assertions seemed dubiously believable; for in respect of properties undisclosed but presumably discoverable, the Muses’ lies were ‘equivalent to truth’” (172).
[ back ] 159. Heiden 2007:155, 159–160. Cf. Nagy 2010b.
[ back ] 160. LIV 2 669–670 suggests the root meaning ‘eingehen in, eintreten’, whence “‘hinzutreten’ → ‘nahekommen’ → ‘gleichkommen’.” From the point of view of their meaning, the adduced Vedic and Avestan parallels, however, are not entirely convincing.
[ back ] 161. Chantraine 1999:354 s.v. ἔοικα.
[ back ] 162. This was noted long ago by Nägelsbach (1834:268–269) and it probably underlies the ancient debate, reflected by the scholia to τ 203 and χ 31, whether to gloss ἴσκε as ἔλεγε or ἤισκε εἴκαζεν ὡμοίου. See also Buttmann 1869:275–279 and Lehrs 1964:97–98.
[ back ] 163. See the helpful note by Russo in Russo et al. 1992:87 ad loc. Of a different persuasion are Wilamowitz-Moellendorff 1927:62 and van der Valk 1949:116 with n. 7. Van der Valk’s connection of this ἴσκε to (ἐν)ίσπω is unconvincing (Fernández-Galiano in Russo et al. 1992:225–226 calls it “impossible”; cf. Ameis and Hentze 1889:16 ad τ 203). Nägelsbach (after Buttmann) simply suggested emending to ἴσπε. That χ 31 exhibits a further degree of semantic development is undeniable, but it too can be traced to its original meaning. Thus, there is no need for the uneconomical alternative, which finds no further support in the doubtless late epigram ascribed to Simonides (no. 69 in Page 1981:291).
[ back ] 164. Cf. LfgE s.v. ἴσκε.
[ back ] 165. The scholiast ad loc. interprets it thus: πολλὰ ψευδῆ λέγων εἴκαζεν, ὥστε ὅμοια εἶναι ἀληθέσιν.
[ back ] 166. “La présence de οὐδέ et la place de ἀληθέα μυθήσασθαι sont de nature à surprendre. Le refus de la vérité ne devrait-il pas, en effet, constituer le premier temps du mensonge?” (at 83).
[ back ] 167. Hymn to Aphrodite 109–110.
[ back ] 168. With the frequently quoted ἐγὼ δέ κε Πέρσῃ ἐτήτυμα μυθησαίμην (Works and Days 10), commonly construed in opposition to the Muses’ song as an innovative affirmation of Hesiod’s self-conscious ‘I’ (e.g. Luther 1935:123), one can readily compare Β 488 (πληθὺν δ’ οὐκ ἂν ἐγὼ μυθήσομαι οὐδ’ ὀνομήνω) and Β 490 (ἀρχοὺς αὖ νηῶν ἐρέω νῆάς τε προπάσας). Since Hesiod’s ‘I’ stands at the end of his hymnic προοίμιον, one might also compare the device that regularly closes Homeric hymns (e.g. Hymn to Demeter 495, Hymn to Apollo 546, Hymn to Hermes 580, etc.).
[ back ] 169. Stoddard (2004:64–65) also finds in the Theogony a Hesiod that seizes the initiative from the Muses and refuses to surrender control of his poem to them. But this Hesiod of Hellenistic cast is not to be found in the poem. It is true that the three hymns of the Muses ostensibly differ in their detailed subject matter and structure, a fact to which Clay 1988 has drawn attention; and that Hesiod’s song in turn also features its own distinctive shape. I hope to explore the significance of these observations in a future work. Here I need only remark that, as should be expected in traditional poetry, the occasion and audience determine the thematic scope and design of the performance. The various descriptions of the Muses’ song in Theogony 1–115 have different audiences and occur at various stages in the proem and their journey to Olympos. It is reasonable to suppose that each instance serves a distinct rhetorical end in the argument of the poem and that this sufficiently accounts for its peculiarities. Similarly, Hesiod sings not for the Muses or Zeus but for a human audience. His material and arrangement answer to the needs of his audience. But these are needs that the Muses supply through inspiration as they prompt the rhapsode to sing—it is after all their song (22) and voice (31) that the bard utters. There is nothing to the greater specificity of Hesiod’s invocation that Stoddard (2004:64) alleges. Her argument survives only through the ellipses of Α 2–5 and α 2–9 which give a false impression of unspecificity: each Homeric proem is a tour de force of narrative compression, giving in only a few lines the entire scope of each poem’s plot. The supposed “detailed list” of divinities which Hesiod allegedly gives the Muses to sing about—what Stoddard (2004:65) thinks as ‘exhibit A’ of Hesiod’s individual initiative—upon inspection dissolves into a predictable and simple enumeration of the entire cosmos: the gods born from earth and heaven, the night, and the briny sea, a thematic scope recapitulated as the genesis of the gods and the earth, the bodies of fresh and salt water, the stars and heaven. This too is a tour de force of thematic compression, with predictable Near-Eastern precedents (cf. Genesis 1:1–2), neither more nor less specific than the Homeric parallels and, like them, standing as an outline in a similar relation to the notional narrative totality. And the ‘demand’ that the narrative start ἐξ ἀρχῆς (115) not only comports with the Muses’ charge that Hesiod sing τά τ’ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ’ ἐόντα (32) and the γένος (33) of the immortals—which as often, and a fortiori in a theogonic context, draws attention to their γένεσις—but is no greater a sign of independence from them than the Homeric narrator’s ‘demand’ that the goddess sing about Akhilleus’ wrath ἐξ οὗ δὴ τὰ πρῶτα διαστήτην ἐρίσαντε | Ἀτρεΐδης τε ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν καὶ δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς (Α 6–7). Stoddard’s remark about Hesiod’s “intend[ing] to take an active role in shaping the Theogony” arises from her flawed presumption of a dichotomy of divine and human involvement in the performance of traditional poetry where, to put it in etic terms, there is in fact creative and artistic cooperation. This is Finkelberg’s working hypothesis; only, Stoddard embraces the opposite side of the polarity: “The narrator of the Proem deliberately sets himself up as the guiding force behind the poem and makes clear that … he is to be considered substantially responsible for the Theogony” (Stoddard 2004:67).
[ back ] 170. The actual name ‘Hesiod’ does not appear again at all, neither in the Works and Days nor in the Theogony. A pseudo-biographical framework is really operative only in the Works and Days, where its terms are a simple opposition between an unnamed ἐγώ (10, 106, 174, 286, 396, 654, 658, 682) and his brother Perses (10, 27, 213, 274, 286, 299, 397, 611, 633, 641).
[ back ] 171. Nagy 1990c:375–377. Cf. also G. Nagy 1992:127n6.
[ back ] 172. The ‘blind bard from Khios’, generally assumed to be ‘Homer’ (cf. Graziosi 2002:62–66), identifies himself here in the third person through an imagined dialog between a visitor to Delos and the Δηλιάδες. (Their response is conceptualized as the reperformance of the dialog itself.) Just as in the Works and Days 10, an emphatic ἐγὼν follows (177).
[ back ] 173. But even if a geographical label had not been objectionable, still the Hesiodic theogony could not pose as true merely because it was Boiotian, for even Thespiai and nearby Askra, for example, held competing traditions about the Muses (see above, §7.2.3).
[ back ] 174. As G. Nagy 1992:126 writes: “If there is a historical inference to be made from these differences, it is not that Homer and Hesiod had different attitudes about truth. It is rather that the traditional role of the performer is different in Homeric and Hesiodic poetry.” For the conventional nature and function of Hesiod’s ‘autobiographical’ material, cf. Griffith 1983, with an important corrective by G. Nagy 1992. Cf. Nagy 2009a.
[ back ] 175. See above, §4.1 n. 5.
[ back ] 176. Archaic thought ordinarily subsumed under μάντις their respective characteristics, viz. ‘revelatory insight’ and ‘explanation,’ even if on occasion it might draw attention to select facets of this semantic complex. This narrowing of semantic focus motivates the Homeric hapax ὑποφῆται at Π 235 (on this passage, see González 2000). This and other terms like ὑποφήτωρ are semantically related to προφήτης.
[ back ] 177. See below, §9.2.
[ back ] 178. ‘Frenzy’ is defined in turn as ‘derangement’ or ‘temporary insanity’, chiefly accompanied by ‘excitement of paroxysm’ (OED s.v. A.1). Ordinarily, ‘frenzy’ is marked by mental and bodily agitation.
[ back ] 179. Cf., further, Fachner 2006.
[ back ] 180. I do not, however, take this to be the pre-Platonic meaning of the word. For the ancient use and meaning of ἐξίστημι and related words, see Pfister 1939 and 1959, and Des Places 1969:308–320.
[ back ] 181. This refers to more, I believe, than a personal inclination or preference, for the psychology of the singer, to which νόος here, and θυμός at θ 45, speaks (cf. Ι 702–703) is not exclusive of divine influence, but rather coordinate with, or instrumental to, it. Thus, according to θ 44, a god has given Demodokos the gift of singing as his θυμός moves him.
[ back ] 182. In all likelihood, the main thrust of this statement has reference to α 32–33; but I believe it goes beyond it in suggesting that Zeus has not merely made it possible for Phemios to sing of the Danaans’ evil doom, but has also given the bard this specific theme as the choice of song for the occasion. Since Penelope’s reproach centers on Phemios’ selection, merely to argue that the events have happened and are therefore potential songs would not suffice as defense. But to argue that Zeus not only brought the events to pass but also moved the bard to sing about them would be an adequate apology.
[ back ] 183. Cf. Nilsson 1967:166 and Tigerstedt 1970:169 with n. 30.
[ back ] 184. Focusing only on Delphi is justified, I believe, on the grounds that this sanctuary was one of a handful of institutions that in the eighth century BC transcended the local interests of particular Greek city-states. Together with Homeric poetry, the rise of the polis, the proliferation of the alphabet, organized colonizations, and the establishment of the Olympic games, Delphi shaped and was shaped by the dynamic of supra-political communication that we call Panhellenism. Cf. Nagy 1990b:10 and 37. Note the mention of Pytho at Ι 404–405 and θ 79–81. For Claros, often cited as a close parallel, see Picard 1922:197–220, Parke 1940:86, and Haussoullier 1898.
[ back ] 185. Cf. Compton 1994.
[ back ] 186. Cf. Pausanias 3.4.3 and Thoukydides 5.16.2. But one might conceivably imagine some sort of collusion between the Pythia and her προφήτης, in which case the alleged bribery of the prophetess would not bear decisively on the particular division of labor that obtained between them. In fact, collusion is in evidence at Herodotos 6.66, though the historian makes clear that Kobōn was not a προφήτης.
[ back ] 187. Cf. Parke 1940. That prose was the dominant mode of delivery is stated at Plutarch De Pythiae oraculis 403e. (On the choice of form, verse or prose, in relation to the Pythia see Amandry 1980.) Dempsey 1918, a rather extreme supporter of a raving mantis, opines that the Pythia’s utterances would have been unintelligible apart from the mediation of the προφήτης, whose work it was to put her babblings into articulate speech. Farnell (1896–1909:4.189), more moderate, notes that her “wild utterance” was “probably some kind of articulate speech,” which the Ὅσιοι and the προφήτης knew how to interpret.
[ back ] 188. See, however, Flacelière 1950, who is responding to Amandry 1950. For a general overview of this old zētēma see also Nilsson 1958, Fauth 1963, and Fontenrose 1978:196–228.
[ back ] 189. οὐ γὰρ ἔστι θεοῦ ⟨γ’⟩ ἡ γῆρυς οὐδ’ ὁ φθόγγος οὐδ’ ἡ λέξις οὐδὲ τὸ μέτρον ἀλλὰ τῆς γυναικός (De Pythiae oraculis 397c; cf. also 405c–e).
[ back ] 190. Typical introductions are ἡ Πυθίη λέγει τάδε (Herodotos 1.65), ἡ Πυθίη χρᾷ τάδε (Herodotos 1.66), or ἡ Πυθίη εἶπε τάδε (Herodotos 1.85).
[ back ] 191. E.g. Herodotos 1.47, 1.65, 5.92, etc.
[ back ] 192. Cf. Fontenrose 1978:197 and 212–224.
[ back ] 193. The same mention also proves that by the fourth century BC some believed that the Pythia herself prophesied in verse, while others rejected this tenet.
[ back ] 194. If ‘prophets’ and ‘priests’ were the same officials, at least in the time of Plutarch—as appears from Nikander being called προφήτης in De defectu oraculorum 438b and ἱερεύς in De E apud Delphos 386b—it is easier to imagine what functions they may have discharged. In particular, the priest would have presided over the oracular session. Cf. Amandry 1950:119n2.
[ back ] 195. For other references see Amandry 1950:118–122 and Fontenrose 1978:218n30. If the identity between Delphic priests and prophets is as old as the Hymn to Apollo 393–396, some may see support there for a mediating προφήτης; similarly with Euripides Iōn 369–372, 413–416, though I personally do not consider the evidential value of these passages high.
[ back ] 196. The last decade has witnessed new attempts to ground the mantic experience in gaseous emanations of geological origin. Piccardi 2000 tied ancient reports of an oracular chasm to an east-west fault below the Phaedriades, although he did not put forward a gaseous release theory in connection with the Pythia’s μαντεία. In fact, he located the original chasm—a coseismic surface rupture—in the temple of Athena. His article was soon followed by De Boer and Hale 2000, De Boer et al. 2001, Spiller et al. 2002, and De Boer and Hale 2002. These scholars claimed to have identified a new fault that ran roughly in a north-south direction, apparently right under the temple of Apollo. They named it the “Kerna fault.” Although they could not determine its intersection with the Delphi fault, they inferred from “projections of fault trends” that it lay below this temple (De Boer et al. 2001:708). Furthermore, they held that the combination of faults, bituminous limestone, and rising groundwater caused the emission of volatile hydrocarbon gases (ethane, methane, and ethylene). Of these, ethylene in particular was made responsible for the intoxicating effect of the prophetic vapors allegedly attested by the ancient sources. These proposals were eagerly received by the news media and popular survey articles (cf. Krajick 2005:763–764). Soon, however, its central elements were seriously undermined or soundly refuted: the reality of the Kerna fault could not be confirmed by Etiope et al. 2006, who proposed instead two independent fault segments that did not continue under the temple of Apollo (821); they also demonstrated that the site is not prone to the production of ethylene in the amounts necessary to induce neurotoxic effects. As an alternative, they proposed oxygen depletion by the inhalation of CO2-CH4, which they associated rather tentatively with the western end of a conjectural subsidiary fault that would run under the temple of Athena and is supposedly disclosed by a linear sequence of springs. The authors, however, freely admitted that “it is difficult to interpret a linear sequence of springs as a fault” (821). They also added into the mix the possible emission of benzene dissolved in the water of the springs as the source of Plutarch’s ‘sweet smell’ (De defectu oraculorum 437c). Foster and Lehoux 2007 and Lehoux 2007 strongly rejected the conjectures of De Boer et al. and their positivist leanings. Foster and Lehoux (2007:86), apparently unaware of Etiope et al. 2006, independently concluded that the alleged ethylene intoxication of the Pythia was untenable on geological, toxicological, and historical grounds. Lehoux 2007, slightly later in date and now apprised of the article by Etiope et al., considered their suggestion of oxygen depletion unlikely, given that neither sealed chambers nor long-term incubation were involved. He also noted that these scholars did not offer any actual evidence for benzene. But it was Lehoux’s reexamination of the very ancient sources that geological theories seek to explain that proved these theories’ most effective refutation. In the face of his devastating critique, Ustinova’s (2009:281) dismissal of Lehoux on a priori grounds is inadequate and unconvincing. She assumes all too readily that what the Pythia did in the adyton was fully visible to inquirers (276; cf., contra, Flacelière 1938:98–99 and Roux 1976:136, 149); and that we know in detail from eyewitness testimony what took place during consultations (note the warning to the contrary in Fontenrose 1978:197; cf. 225–228). She also returns to a simplistic reading of the ancient sources that ignores most of the relevant classical scholarship of the twentieth century (e.g. as concerns the πνεῦμα, on which see Roux 1976:154–157 and Fontenrose 1978:197–203). But her greatest weakness is her reliance on the work of De Boer et al. (278), whose defects and limitations are now clear. Although aware of Etiope et al. 2006, she does not seem to realize the extent to which this study undermines the geological intoxication theory. The current state of the art on the controversy is Piccardi et al. 2008, which Ustinova ignores. This exhaustive reconsideration of the geological claims puts another nail in the coffin of the geological intoxication theory. Etiope at al. 2006 conclude that “there is no evidence of a Kerna fault” (6); that “[h]igh concentrations of ethylene … are thermodynamically impossible and are unrealistic in non-volcanic areas” (15); and that “ both ‘gas exhalation’ and ‘chasm’ had not physical geological reality during the time of the main functioning of the sanctuary (7th century BC–4th century AD)” (15).
[ back ] 197. Thus Dodds 1951:87n41. See his stimulating treatment at 71–75 and 295–299, though Plutarch’s emphasis in De defectu oraculorum 438b on the abnormal nature of the incident fails to bear out Dodds’s views about the character of the Pythia’s trance.
[ back ] 198. It should be emphasized that, except for Lucan (Pharsalia 5.169–174, 190–193, 211–218) and the Christian polemicists, the Pythia was never portrayed as raving deliriously, emitting sounds that called for translation into intelligible speech by a mediating interpreter. In the context in which it is introduced, not even Herakleitos’ famous fragment about the Sibyl’s ‘frenzied mouth’ (DK 22 B92 = fr. 75 Marcovich, apud De Pythiae oraculis 397a) hints at any measure of unintelligibility. Thus Amandry (1950:120) calls “entièrement gratuite” the notion “des sons inarticulés ou des cris sauvages proférés par la Pythie et interprétés par le prophète” (cf. further 19–24).
[ back ] 199. Cf. Plutarch De Pythiae oraculis 407c–d.
[ back ] 200. Rohde 1925:287–291. Rohde recognized that, according to the Homeric poems, Apollo instructed his seers in an art—the art of explaining signs of the gods’ will (1925:289; the original German refers to “die ‘kunstmässige’ Weissagung”). For the relationship between Apollo and Dionysos at Delphi, see Latte 1940.
[ back ] 201. Dodds (1951:69–70), leaning heavily on Apollo’s alleged Anatolian provenance (a theory now largely displaced or abandoned; cf. Burkert 1985:144–145), insisted that ecstasy in some form had always been part of the worship of this god.
[ back ] 202. Διὸς ὑψίστου προφάταν ἔξοχον, | ὀρθόμαντιν Τειρεσίαν (Nemean 1.60–61).
[ back ] 203. Cf., for example, Euripides Iōn 42, 321, 1322; Plato Phaidros 244a8; Plutarch De Pythiae oraculis 397c1, 397d1; Plutarch De defectu oraculorum 414b6–7.
[ back ] 204. Aiskhylos Eumenides 29.
[ back ] 205. Herodotos 6.66, 7.111, 7.141; Thoukydides 5.16.2; Pausanias 3.4.3–5, 10.5–6, and 10.13.8; Lucian Bis accusatus §1 and Hermotimos §60. Cf. Herodotos 8.135, where the ‘prophet’ of Apollo’s temple at Ptōion is called both πρόμαντις and προφήτης.
[ back ] 206. This view is strongly supported by Most’s survey of the fifth-century usage of ἑρμηνεύς and related words (Most 1986:308–311). He writes that “all the extant passages can be organised into a small number of rationally related groups once the basic meaning of the word has been grasped: it designates the agent that performs any act of translation of signification from one kind of language in which it is invisible or entirely unintelligible into another kind in which it is visible and intelligible” (1986:308). This remark brings into sharp focus my contention that, as ἑρμηνεύς of the Muse, the rhapsode in performance discharged a revelatory function. Cf. Leumann 1942:36–38 no. 73. Capuccino (2005:128–131) embraces Most’s conclusions but, misled by Plato, untenably reduces the rhapsode’s ἑρμηνεία to his mediating the poet’s voice and thought: the voice, by making accessible to the festival public poetry that would otherwise remain beyond their “direct” reach (whatever ‘direct’ means); and the thought, by performing an exegesis which she defines not as understanding the sense and explaining it but as judging the mind of the poet and acting as his spokesman (131). On her latter point, see my observations below, p. 300 n. 29; on the former, it is enough to draw attention to the implausibility that the fourth-century Athenian public only had access to the Homeric poems that may qualify as “direct” at rhapsodic performances. Pace Capuccino (2005:127n98), quite apart from the fact that the average educated citizen must have committed to memory (in whichever textual form was available to him) many of the poems’ celebrated passages, their very centrality to Greek paideia (Plato Prōtagoras 325e1–326a1 with Xenophon Symposion 3.5; cf. Isokrates 2.43) and their increasing availability in writing from the burgeoning book market suggest otherwise. To these facts testifies the well-known anecdote of Alkibiades’ punching a teacher who failed to own a copy of Homer (Plutarch Alkibiadēs 7.1). On the Athenian book trade see Turner 1977:20–23 and Harris 1989:84–85. On vase depictions of scrolls see Immerwahr 1964 and 1973.
[ back ] 207. Cf. McLeod 1961 and Andersen 1987. That writing was not used in delivering the answer is clear from Plutarch De Pythiae oraculis 397c (καὶ γὰρ εἰ γράφειν ἔδει μὴ λέγειν τοὺς χρησμούς …). Parke and Wormell (1956b:xxⅸ) wisely underline the ‘improvisatory’ character of most responses (an ‘improvisation’ that I take here in the sense of oral traditional poetry). For a formal study of oracular verse, see Fontenrose 1978:166–195. Helpful analyses can also be found in Parke and Wormell 1956b and Crahay 1956 passim, which should be read with McLeod’s caveat against source criticism in mind (1961:324–325).
[ back ] 208. See above, §8.2.
[ back ] 209. At 534d5 Sokrates mentions the paean by Tynnikhos of Khalkis ‘which all sing’ (ὃν πάντες ᾄδουσι, presumably in a sympotic context). But he never suggests that Tynnikhos inspires those who sing the paean and any inference to this effect is necessarily ex silentio. His focus then is solely on the author, who himself owns that his composition was ‘an invention of the Muses’ (εὕρημά τι Μοισᾶν). I submit that Sokrates owes his near complete failure to mention inspired performers qua performers in connection with non-epic genres not simply to what might be thought an accident, namely, that his interlocutor happens to be a rhapsode. Rather, Plato included him alone in the middle of the chain because traditional epic was the only genre that featured its performer, the rhapsode, as an indispensable link in its own paradosis. During the archaic period this was also true of other genres to a greater or lesser extent, but in the high-classical period rhapsody remained the sole thoroughly traditional performance craft and, for this reason, rhapsodes were still the essential agents responsible for the diffusion, transmission, and preservation of epic poetry. This fact corresponds to the culturally paramount educational role that they and their repertoire played during the archaic and classical periods. Although not explicitly in view, one could argue that the (almost certainly amateur) singers of Tynnikhos’ paean also experience a measure of the original divine influence that led to its creation. But if one insists on forcing them into the Platonic scheme, I believe that they would occupy the fourth slot of Pelliccia’s list as audience more readily than the third as performers instrumental to the further enthusiasm of a wider audience.
[ back ] 210. There is only one exception to this silence: Sokrates includes chorus dancers and their trainers and assistant trainers as potential links in the chain: καὶ ὥσπερ ἐκ τῆς λίθου ἐκείνης ὁρμαθὸς πάμπολυς ἐξήρτηται χορευτῶν τε καὶ διδασκάλων καὶ ὑποδιδασκάλων, ἐκ πλαγίου ἐξηρτημένων τῶν τῆς Μούσης ἐκκρεμαμένων δακτυλίων (536a4–7). But there are good reasons not to place rhapsodes in the same category with these dancers and their trainers. Plato has repeatedly drawn attention to dancing as an outward sign of inspiration. Hence the parallel of corybantic and Bacchic dancing at 534a, at which ἐμβῶσιν (534a3) and the winged poets (534b3–4) hint; and hence also the picture at 536b9 of Ion’s soul as dancing (ὀρχεῖταί σου ἡ ψυχὴ) once he has heard a ‘strain of Homer’ (μέλος). This choral recasting of the Ephesian rhapsode immediately precedes Sokrates’ observation that Corybantes are well supplied with dance figures and words when they hear the song (μέλος) peculiar to their inspiring deity. The realization that dancing serves Sokrates as leitmotif in his analysis of inspiration cautions us to consider carefully whether in fact the χορευταί of 536a5 are comparable to rhapsodes as derivative mediators of inspiration. I submit that they are not. Indeed, dancers and their trainers are introduced in the flow of the argument precisely where the audience belongs: the viewer is the last link (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ θεατὴς τῶν δακτυλίων ὁ ἔσχατος 535e7–8); the rhapsode, the middle (ὁ δὲ μέσος σὺ ὁ ῥαψῳδὸς καὶ ὑποκριτής 535e9–536a1); the poet himself, the first (ὁ δὲ πρῶτος αὐτὸς ὁ ποιητής 536a1): ‘Through all these the god draws the soul of men wherever he desires, hanging the power from one another; and just as from that stone, a very long chain hangs down, of dancers, trainers, and assistant trainers, suspended sideways (ἐκ πλαγίου) from the links that hang from the Muse’ (536a1–7). Both implicitly, by their place in the argument, and explicitly, by Sokrates’ express words, these choreuts are not portrayed as mediating agents of inspiration; for the philosopher himself says that they are suspended ‘sideways from the links that hang from the Muse’ (my emphasis), a peculiarity that distinguishes them from poets and rhapsodes and that subordinates their ‘oblique’ experience to the vertical inspiration of the latter. The plural ‘links’ that hang from the singular ‘Muse’ further evince that Plato does not envision these dancers, like the rhapsode, as hanging immediately from a given poet (a single link) and at second remove from the Muse. When Sokrates focuses on poets generally as the ‘first links’ (536b1–2, nota bene the plural) he is careful to add that ‘one poet is suspended from one Muse, another from another’ (535a7–8). There is also the obvious fact that chorus trainers and undertrainers, although professionals of performance, do not ‘perform’ in the ordinary sense of the word. Only if we picture their trainees as their audience can we press them into the Platonic scheme: but, on balance, the relative order in which Sokrates lists them (χορευτῶν τε καὶ διδασκάλων καὶ ὑποδιδασκάλων 536a5) militates against this reading (one would expect ‘dancers, undertrainers, and trainers’ or else ‘trainers, undertrainers, and dancers’). Given Sokrates’ desire to emphasize poetry’s impact on the hearer and, in particular, to elevate bodily motion to the level of a characteristic response, it is likely that the choreuts in question are not dithyrambic performers (who may well have sung and danced, as Pelliccia 2003:100n6 insists) but merely accompanied a hyporkhēma (534c4) with their dancing. Hyporchematic dancers did not sing, but mimicked with their σχήματα the words of the song (cf. Di Marco 1973–1974, esp. 330–331 and 332n16; Seaford 1977–1978:87–88; and D’Alessio 2007); and because of their strongly imitative performance, they would have furnished an excellent illustration of the ideal impact of derivative inspiration upon the audience. These considerations support the view that Sokrates’ singling out the rhapsode as his sole example of ‘the middle link’ is hardly accidental; and discourage the notion that the choreuts of 536a5 provide yet another illustration of performers who mediate inspiration. Had Plato wanted to provide a clear parallel to rhapsodes as Pelliccia views them, he could easily have resorted to dramatic actors. In them we would indisputably have what Pelliccia seeks to affirm of the rhapsodes: performers whose inspiration is derivative and who by and large merely memorize the original script of a creative poet. Yet this ready alternative is precisely what is missing from the dialog. See below, §9.2 n. 22.
[ back ] 211. Murray 1996: “The fact that P[lato] uses this verb of both composition and recitation suggests that he is not interested in distinguishing between the poet as composer and the rhapsode as reciter” (114–115).
[ back ] 212. ποιοῦσιν, for example, appears at 534a2 soon after, picking up on the explicit subject, οἱ μελοποιοί. Cf. ποιεῖν at 534b5.
[ back ] 213. One might counter, with Graziosi (2002:37–40), that ultimately it is the poet that the philosopher is after, and this explains why Sokrates demotes him to the level of the rhapsode and deliberately merges their respective profiles. But this is hardly an objection to my argument: such a rhetorical strategy can only succeed where its synchronic leveling has a prima facie claim to diachronic faithfulness.
[ back ] 214. See below, §10.2.3.4.
[ back ] 215. It is easy to illustrate this (to us, confusing) mixture. As a visible token of ‘possession’, Sokrates draws attention at 535b to the emotional impact of Homer’s poetry on Ion. This comes about by his fine poetic declamation (ὅταν εὖ εἴπῃς ἔπη 535b2), not by a rhapsodic showpiece of literary criticism. And Ion’s performance does not fail to pass on to the audience the inspiration he himself has derived from Homer (535d8–e3). The performance of epic verse is Sokrates’ illustration of the magnetic chain, a metaphor ostensibly introduced to explain not Ion’s inspired poetic declamation but his inspired ‘criticism’ of Homer, i.e. his inspired ‘speaking about’ Homer (533c5–8). And yet the metaphor seems at odds not only with its motivation but also with its application, for Sokrates goes on to apply it to Ion’s Homeric commentary: οὐ γὰρ τέχνῃ οὐδ’ ἐπιστήμῃ περὶ Ὁμήρου λέγεις ἃ λέγεις, ἀλλὰ θείᾳ μοίρᾳ καὶ κατοκωχῇ (536c1–2). Murray (1996:125) ad loc. observes: “[H]aving concentrated exclusively on the nature of Ion’s performances of Homer, S[ocrates] now slips back into talking about Ion’s ability to comment on the poetry.”
[ back ] 216. On the use of ὑποκριτής in the Iōn, see below, §9.2 n. 22.
[ back ] 217. τῷ ὄντι γάρ, ὦ Σώκρατες, παντὸς μᾶλλον τά γε ῥήματα οὐκ ἐξέμαθον· τὴν μέντοι διάνοιαν σχεδὸν ἁπάντων, οἷς ἔφη διαφέρειν τὰ τοῦ ἐρῶντος ἢ τὰ τοῦ μή, ἐν κεφαλαίοις ἕκαστον ἐφεξῆς δίειμι (Phaidros 228d1–4).
[ back ] 218. As already noted, one should expect derivative inspiration of performers qua performers only where traditional poetry is in view, an expectation the text meets.
[ back ] 219. This is the point of view commonly taken by the Homeric lives. Pelliccia’s attempt to preclude this standpoint by a recourse to the aorist aspect is misconceived. Surely γενέσθ[αι] in Pindar’s Nemean 7.21 does not entail the reading “Odysseus’ story became at a historical, one-time event greater than his suffering.” Hesitant to press the notion that here Pindar is immediately ascribing the alleged instantaneous change “to the act of creation,” Pelliccia writes that the remark refers instead “to a historical event (a change) quite explicitly tied to that act by the prepositional phrase διὰ τὸν ἁδυεπῆ γενέσθ’ Ὅμηρον. Once this (allegedly) reputation-changing thing has been brought into being, it remains ever available for characterization in the present tense (ἔπεστι)” (Pelliccia 2003:108). But Pindar does not have any such discontinuous and instantaneous change in view. Race correctly translates the aorist as an English perfect, “Odysseus’ story has become greater … .” It is rather what Smyth calls “aorist for perfect” (§1940), which “simply states a past occurrence” and is even “sometimes regarded as a primary tense.” The past occurrence often appears under a complexive aspect (§1927), stated nakedly without reference to process, with the speaker’s focus on the present condition that results from the verbal action. (Cf. the perfect of ποιέω at 531d2, 531d6, and 533b3. See, further, below, pp. 422ff.) This is the case here, where γενέσθ[αι] per se entails nothing at all about the process, gradual or instantaneous, behind it. What matters is that the speaker looking back realizes that today’s circumstances constitute a changed state: at some point in the past the story of Odysseus had not exceeded what he had experienced; now it has. The aorist makes no necessary reference to an instantaneous, once-for-all happening. With Pelliccia, one could read it as a simple historical aorist—‘the very day Homer wrote/sang the Odyssey the hero’s reputation exceeded his life’s experience’—but this is not the only available grammatical analysis and the notion that Pindar is alleging a discontinuous, all-at-one-time change stretches credulity: if not the act of creation, what is immediately in view? Pelliccia does not say. More superficially plausible is his claim that the ᾖσεν in Plato Iōn 535a1 portrays “the original interaction between the muse and the poet … as a one-time historical event” (2003:107). Perhaps so, although the verb ‘to sing’ draws attention to the (celebrated?) performance of the paean, not to Tynnikhos’ composition, which Pelliccia assumes not to occur in performance but to precede it. Here too, however, the aorist may simply be complexive, conveying the bare verbal notion without regard to process (the aorist per se does not rule out, for example, repeated performances of the paean, whether or not such reperformances are historically plausible). A good example in English of a complexive preterite would be ‘grew up’ in ‘when he grew up he left his home.’ ‘To grow’ is intrinsically processual. A simple past naturally regards the verbal action complexively without denying the underlying process. A fussier speaker might prefer ‘after he had grown up.’ To return to Pelliccia’s point, only he who has already committed himself to a particular view of the historical process envisioned can read in the aorist a necessary reference to a one-time historical event.
[ back ] 220. Cf. Todd 1939 and Henrichs 2003:216–222 (with bibliography).
[ back ] 221. Thus, when Zeus asks Hermes to use greater solemnity in summoning the gods to a meeting, Lucian the satirist has Hermes answer him thus: ἀλλ’ ἐποποιῶν, ὦ Ζεῦ, καὶ ῥαψῳδῶν τὰ τοιαῦτα, ἐγὼ δὲ ἥκιστα ποιητικός εἰμι· ὥστε διαφθερῶ τὸ κήρυγμα ἢ ὑπέρμετρα ἢ ἐνδεᾶ συνείρων, καὶ γέλως ἔσται παρ’ αὐτοῖς ἐπὶ τῇ ἀμουσίᾳ τῶν ἐπῶν· ὁρῶ γοῦν καὶ τὸν Ἀπόλλω γελώμενον ἐπ’ ἐνίοις τῶν χρησμῶν, καίτοι ἐπικρυπτούσης τὰ πολλὰ τῆς ἀσαφείας, ὡς μὴ πάνυ σχολὴν ἄγειν τοὺς ἀκούοντας ἐξετάζειν τὰ μέτρα (Iuppiter tragoedus §6). And in Plutarch De Pythiae oraculis 396c–d, amazed at the mean and cheap quality of oracular verse, Diogenianos complains: καίτοι μουσηγέτης ὁ θεὸς καὶ τῆς λεγομένης λογιότητος οὐχ ἧττον αὐτῷ [τὸ] καλὸν ἢ τῆς περὶ μέλη καὶ ᾠδὰς [καὶ] εὐφωνίας μετεῖναι καὶ πολὺ τὸν Ἡσίοδον εὐεπείᾳ καὶ τὸν Ὅμηρον ὑπερφθέγγεσθαι· τοὺς δὲ πολλοὺς τῶν χρησμῶν ὁρῶμεν καὶ τοῖς μέτροις καὶ τοῖς ὀνόμασι πλημμελείας καὶ φαυλότητος ἀναπεπλησμένους.
[ back ] 222. Cf. Iokasta’s speech in Sophokles’ Oidipous tyrannos 707–725.
[ back ] 223. This is not to deny that these associations existed at a later date. Aristotle, at any rate, considered the heroic meter ‘solemn’ (Rhetoric 1408b32–33). And though at first its use for dedicatory epigrams may have reflected the status of epos as the preeminent form of marked utterance—remember that archaic inscriptions speak in their own voice—doubtless in time it must have been fostered by the cultural prestige of epic poetry. Such epigrams, to be sure, are ideologically distant from the divine speech of oracles, but they still furnish a ‘performance’ of sorts, borrowing the voice of the viewer to utter statements marked by deixis (whether personal pronouns like με or ἐγώ or demonstrative adjectives like τόδε). See Baumbach et al. 2010 for a convenient entry point into the burgeoning field of the archaic and classical Greek epigram.
[ back ] 224. PMG 577a and 577b (Simonides 72a and 72b).
[ back ] 225. This association should not be confused with the notion, which I believe erroneous, that originally the Muses were nymphs of the mountains and the streams (cf. Farnell 1896–1909:5.434–435), a view embraced by Parke (1981:104) that would require Wackernagel’s etymology μοῦσα < *μοντ-ια, with *μοντ- cognate with Latin mōns (see DELG s.v. μοῦσα).
[ back ] 226. Since Delphi was the only truly Panhellenic oracle of Apollo in archaic Greece, it was there alone that the Panhellenic association between Apollo and the Muses was likely to find cultic expression at so early a stage. This explains the absence of a similar cult at other oracles of Apollo (assuming now, for the sake of argument, that the Muses had a shrine at Delphi).
[ back ] 227. Cf. above, p. 211.
[ back ] 228. Cf. LSJ s.vv. φθόγγος Ⅱ.2.b and χορδή Ⅱ.1.b. Trypho’s use of φθόγγοι and χορδαί to parse Lamprias’ ὅροι is natural and cannot be pressed for information on the historical development of the lyre.
[ back ] 229. I am using ‘lyre’ in a non-technical sense to stand for φόρμιγξ and κίθαρις. Cf. Guillemin and Duchesne 1935:118.
[ back ] 230. In her survey of the evolution of the lyre from late Bronze-Age down to geometric times, Stella (1978:277–292) writes that the number of its strings ranged from three to eight. But whereas the hepta- and octachord (with ‘chord’ designating the ‘number of strings’, not ‘interval’) were predominant during the late Mycenaean and Minoan palatial cultures, geometric depictions almost always feature four strings (see pp. 280 and 288). Stella dates the dominance of three strings to remote Cycladic times, but cites in support only the famous Keros harpist (now at the Athens’ National Archaeological Museum, no. 3908) and other cycladic fragmentary statues (280, with 280n9). As far as I can see, there is no firm basis on which to infer the number of strings the trigōnon might have featured (cf. Zervos 1957 figs. 316, 317, 333–334). Stella’s view, then, is only a conjecture, and, with Evans (see immediately below), one might just as well assume that the strings were four (or more!). Now, though there are occasional instances of late Bronze-Age trichord lyres, they are mostly in seals, where limitations of size and their practical nature might have encouraged an artificial simplification of detail (though a gifted artist working on an item of significance may succeed in representing even an octachord; cf. Evans 1928:834, fig. 551). Thus, Evans 1928 accords clear priority to the seven strings (834), calling the three-string “cursive versions” on clay documents (see his fig. 550 c,d) “secondary forms,” adding that “too much importance must not be attached to these secondary forms” (cf. 834n3). [Minoan representations of eight strings are common; Evans thinks this is but the doubling of a cycladic tetrachord trigōnon (1928:835; cf. Strabo 13.2.4 and other ancient loci in Barker 1984–1989:1.49) and he observes that the octa- and heptachords are one and the same, since consecutive tetrachords would have had one tone in common.] As to the geometric lyre, most vases depict it with four strings (cf. Deubner 1929; see also Wegner 1968:2–16, esp. 5 with fig. 5; Stella 1978 pl. LI, figs. 82 and 83; and Guillemin and Duchesne 1935, figs. 26, 29, 30, 32, and 35). Wegner (1968:12) sums up the data well by concluding the the Iron-Age lyre had four strings, and adds that examples of apparent two- and three-string instances “bieten keine Veranlassung, damit zu rechnen, daß es im wirklichen Gebrauch Saitenspiele mit geringerer Saitenbespannung als diejenige der kanonischen Phorminx gegeben habe” (14).
[ back ] 231. So Teodorsson 1989–1996:3.354.
[ back ] 232. See above, §7.2.1 n. 120.
[ back ] 233. Note, moreover, that the association of Apollo and the Muses is already attested by Α 603–604 and θ 488.
[ back ] 234. This conclusion would be weakened if one could show that the use of verse at Delphi was exceptional and without parallel at other oracular seats. This is Parke’s contention: that versification at Delphi was due to a historical accident found nowhere else, namely, the geographical coincidence of an ancient cult of the Muses with the later prophetic seat of Apollo (Parke 1981). Reports of oracular verse at other locations would either be late fabrications or, if true, instances of the influence exerted by Delphi on lesser oracles. Certainty here, as often, is not possible, but Parke’s case is not as persuasive as he would make it. After all, there are only two contemporaneous comparanda: Dodona and Didyma in Miletos (Parke 1981:102). But from Dodona we have no preserved archaic answers, only a few questions on lead tables which, unsurprisingly, are in prose (cf. Amandry 1950:171–172 and Parke 1967:110–111; more generally, Guarducci 1967–1978:4.74–122, De Gennaro and Santoriello 1994:391–394, and Lhôte 2006). Nothing can be concluded from this: was there ever a verse question posed at Delphi? (Cf. Dieterle 1999.) As to Didyma, we have the added complexity of the possible interference of pre-Hellenic Anatolian practices. There are also fourth-century BC reports of one response in hexameters and an iambic line. One might, with Parke (1981:103), dismiss these as late fabrications: this is entirely possible, but we cannot be certain. As to the three extant fragmentary oracular responses, Parke (1981:102) affirms with great confidence that “of two it can safely be said that they are not in verse.” And “the third … can at least be identified as not in hexameters.” But matters are not that simple: I note with interest that one of them is in fact analyzed as elegiac by Roehl (1882:132 no. 489). The fragment is now lost, but the surviving squeeze can be found in Harder 1958 no. 11). Harder assumes the integrity of the inscription along its left edge: it would then have to be prose. But after inspecting the squeeze I am not convinced that his view must be accepted, and Roehl’s solution cannot be discounted. Now, it is true that an oracle in elegiac would be exceptional (cf. Apuleius Metamorphoses 4.33!), but given its transition from non-Hellenic to Hellenic control, I would not think it impossible that, in adopting a Greek meter, Didyma would have experimented with one cognate with hexameter, which had been recently developed in Ionia and was surely current in the compositional practice of local poets. (Fontenrose 1988:180 no. 2 follows Harder. On the meter of oracles cf. Pomtow 1881. I have not been able to locate his obviously relevant Ad oraculorum quae exstant graecorum editionem prolegomena, published by Weidmann.) The second of Parke’s fragmentary oracular responses, Kawerau and Rehm 1914 no. 132, is inscribed on both sides: side A alone indisputably contains the god’s answer, ΘΕΟΣΕΠΕΝ (sic, see above, §5.1.2 n. 47), and, as the editor notes, it fits the iambic trimeter; side B does not, but it is by a later scribe and merely contains sacrificial regulations that, though surely sanctioned by the god, are not part of the oracular utterance. (Cf. Fontenrose 1988:180–181 no. 3.) We are left, then, with Kawerau and Rehm 1914 no. 178, which, I agree, must be prose (cf. Fontenrose 1988:179–180 no. 1). I conclude, therefore, that the ‘exceptionality’ of Delphi (in Parke’s sense; see 1981:102) cannot be established.
[ back ] 235. See below, §9.2.
[ back ] 236. For more on this dream and the mentality of fixity associated with ὑποκρίνεσθαι, see Nagy 2003:21–38, esp. 24–25.
[ back ] 237. See below, §9.2.
[ back ] 238. In actual performance practice the distinction is a matter of degree, for in either case there is some measure of recomposition in accordance with canons of traditional oral poetic production.
[ back ] 239. See below, §9.2.
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