Pindar’s Homer: The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past

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1. Oral Poetry and Ancient Greek Poetry: Broadening and Narrowing the Terms

§1. The theory of oral poetry as set forth by Milman Parry and Albert Lord resists application to Archaic Greek poetry only if oral poetry is defined too narrowly by the opponents of the theory—and if the surviving poetry of Archaic Greece is treated too broadly as a general example of oral poetry. In what follows, I attempt not only to sketch a concept of oral poetry that is broad enough to accommodate the various forms of ancient Greek poetry but also to redefine these forms in terms of specific sub-types of oral poetry. [1]

§3. From the vantage point of our own times, however, poetry is by definition written poetry, and what we need to do first is to broaden our concept of poetry. Aside from questions of oral poetry and written poetry, the very word poetry becomes a source of confusion, in that it excludes dimensions normally included in the word song.

§9. In the claim just made for the iambic trimeter of Athenian tragedy, the argumentation is relatively secure. What follows, however, is a matter of controversy. I am proposing that an absence or at least a reduction of melody—and an absence of instrumental accompaniment and dance—eventually developed not only in the iambic trimeter of dialogue in Athenian drama but also in the iambic trimeter of the old iambic poets (Archilochus, Hipponax, Semonides, Solon, and so on), in the elegiac distich of the old elegiac poets (Archilochus, Callinus, Mimnermus, Tyrtaeus, Theognis, Solon, Xenophanes, and so on), and in the dactylic hexameter of Homer and Hesiod. This proposition may at first seem startling, in view of such internal testimony as Homer’s bidding his Muse to sing the anger of Achilles (Iliad I 1) or Archilochus’ boasting that he knows how to ‘lead a choral performance’ (verb exarkhō) of a dithyramb (F 120 W). [14] The significance of this evidence, however, is not what it may first appear, and we must examine it more {20|21} closely. To begin, the internal evidence of Homeric and Hesiodic diction tells us that the word aeidō ‘sing’ (as in Iliad I 1) is a functional synonym, in contexts where the medium refers to its own performance, of the word e(n)nepō ‘narrate, recite’ (as in Odyssey i 1), which does not explicitly designate singing. [15] For some, the functional synonymity of aeidō ‘sing’ and e(n)nepō ‘narrate, recite’ is proof that the narrative format must be song—that the Homeric (and presumably Hesiodic) poems were sung and accompanied on the lyre. [16] For others, however, the equating of a word that refers to strategies of narrating Homeric and Hesiodic poetry with a word that refers to the format of singing to the accompaniment of a lyre proves only that such poetry had such a format in some phase of its evolution. [17] Self-references in Archaic Greek poetry may be diachronically valid without being synchronically true. [18] This phenomenon may be designated as diachronic skewing.

§14. From this rapid survey of rhapsodic traditions in the performance of Homeric poetry, I conclude that the model of simultaneous composition and performance by an oral poet at a feast had evolved organically into a quite different model, with the continuity of composed narrative achieved through a continuum of performance by rhapsodes who take turns at occasions like a Panhellenic festival. [28] The point that I am making about the context of {23|24} Homeric performance applies also to the medium of performance: just as the Homeric testimony about the performance of epic by singers at feasts belies the synchronic reality of the performance of epic by rhapsodes at Panhellenic festivals, so also the Homeric testimony about the singer’s singing to the accompaniment of the lyre belies the synchronic reality of the rhapsode’s reciting without any accompaniment at all. On the basis of available evidence, it appears that rhapsodes did not sing the compositions that they performed but rather recited them without the accompaniment of the lyre. [29] So also with Hesiodic poetry: the internal testimony of the composition represents a theogony that is simultaneously sung and danced by the local Muses of Helikon (Theogony 3–4, 8), [30] and yet we know that the Theogony, as also the other Hesiodic compositions, was in fact recited by rhapsodes. [31] This is not to say that hexameter could not be sung in the Archaic period: [32] only that hexameter evolved into poetry as distinct from song, and that its fundamental form of rendition, as poetry, was recitation. [33]

§18. In one particular case, the testimony of Athenaeus 620cd, 632d, [44] we must make a special effort to sort out the chronologically diverse strata of information. For example, Athenaeus 620c quotes Clearchus (F 92 Wehrli) as saying that one ‘Simonides of Zakynthos used to perform, rhapsode-style, the compositions of Archilochus in theaters, while seated on a stool [diphros]’ (τὰ Ἀρχιλόχου, φησίν, Σιμωνίδης ὁ Ζακύνθιος ἐν τοῖς θεάτροις ἐπὶ δίφρου καθήμενος ἐρραψῴδει) [45] Also, there is a report of a rhapsode called Mnasion who performed the iambic poetry of Semonides (Athenaeus ibid.) [46] and of a rhapsode called Kleomenes who performed the Katharmoi of Empedocles at the Olympics (Dicaearchus F 87 Wehrli, by way of Athenaeus ibid. and Diogenes Laertius 8.63) [47] Similarly we read at Athenaeus 632d that the poetry of Xenophanes, Solon, Theognis, and the like was composed without melody (cf. also Aristoxenus F 92 Wehrli, with commentary). But we also read at Athenaeus 620c (= Chamaeleon F 28 Wehrli) that the poems of Homer, Hesiod, and Archilochus could be sung melodically. This statement follows up on the immediately preceding discussion, at Athenaeus 620b, of Homēristai. These Homēristai seem to be distinct from the rhapsōidoi, [48] and they represent the innovative practice of taking passages that were traditionally recited and setting these passages to music (cf. the references to Homer at Athenaeus 632d; there is also a similar reference to Hesiod in Plutarch Sympotic Questions 736e). Such activity was {26|27} characteristic of the post-Classical era, [49] about which it has been said: “So great is the ascendancy of song over speech that, in the [Hellenistic] revivals of tragic and comic texts of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., it even takes over the parts composed in iambic trimeters, intended originally for simple recitation.” [50]

§19. Once such a phase is reached, where traditionally recited pieces of poetry are being set to music, it becomes easy to confuse and reinterpret the diachrony of various sung and recited meters that are obviously related to each other. For example, apparently on the basis of parallelisms in meter and diction between Homer and Terpander, a representative of Archaic lyric who was credited with the composition of songs sung to the lyre, [51] Heraclides Ponticus is cited as saying that Terpander set his own poems and those of Homer to music (F 157 Wehrli in “Plutarch” On Music 1132c). So also Stesichorus is described as having set what are described as his epē, loosely to be translated as hexameters, to music (“Plutarch” On Music 1132c). As we see later, this hexameter of Stesichorus is cognate with, but not identical to, the Homeric hexameter. [52] Further, Archilochus is credited with the invention of the parakatalogē, that is, a delivery characterized by reduced rather than full melody, with the accompaniment of a musical instrument (“Plutarch” On Music 1141a). [53] In “Aristotle” Problems 19.6, the parakatalogē is described as a form of delivery that explicitly contrasts with song. [54] Archilochus is generally credited with ‘introducing the practice of having some iambics spoken with instrumental accompaniment and others sung with it’ (ἔτι δὲ τῶν ἰαμβείων τὸ τὰ μὲν λέγεσθαι παρὰ τὴν κροῦσιν, τὰ δὲ ᾄδεσθαι, Ἀρχίλοχόν φασι καταδεῖξαι “Plutarch” On Music 1141b).


§24. The perception of plain or everyday speech is a variable abstraction that depends on the concrete realization of whatever special speech, or SONG, is set apart for a special context. In small-scale societies, the setting apart would normally happen in terms of myth and ritual.

§29. In complex societies—and the situation in Archaic Greece can already be described as such—the pervasiveness of myth and ritual, as well as their connectedness with each other, may be considerably weakened. Still, the marking of speech, that is, the turning of unmarked speech into marked SONG, may persist as the basic way to convey meaning in the context of ritual and myth. There is a reflex of this pattern in the usage of the Greek verb muō, which means ‘I have my mouth closed’ or ‘I have my eyes closed’ in {32|32} everyday situations, [77] but ‘I say in a special way’ or ‘I see in a special way’ in marked situations of ritual. The latter meaning is evident in the derivatives mustēs ‘one who is initiated’ and mustērion ‘that into which one is initiated, mystery [Latin mysterium]’. [78] So also the word mūthos ‘myth’, it has been argued, is a derivative of the same root from which muō is derived; [79] its special meaning seems to be ‘special speech’ as opposed to everyday speech. [80] For an illustration of the semantics underlying the usage of these Greek words, I cite Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 1641–1644: the visualization and the verbalization of whatever it was that finally happened to Oedipus in the precinct of the Eumenides at Colonus are restricted, in that the precise location of his corpse is a sacred secret (1545–1546, 1761–1763). [81] Only Theseus, by virtue of being the proto-priest by hindsight for the Athenians of the here and now, is to witness what happened, which is called the drōmena (1644). [82] Here the visualization and the verbalization of the myth, what happened to Oedipus, are restricted to the sacred context of ritual, controlled by the heritage of priestly authority from Theseus. [83]

§34. My view of poetry as something derived from SONG and differentiated from song runs counter to the view of metricians for whom song is poetry set to music. According to this second of two possible lines of thought, music would be extrinsic to language. This other view, however, runs counter to the experience of fieldwork in ethnomusicology, a discipline that has built a strong case against the fallacy of treating music as a “universal language.” [95] Our own cultural prejudices in favor of such a concept can be traced to medieval Europe, where the eventual dissociation of language and music was already under way. [96] Toward the end of the fourteenth century, Eustache Deschamps already made a distinction between the “natural music” of language and the “artificial music” of traditional melodies. [97] But it is clear in this case that the association of language and music is primary. For example, a study of attested traditions of Provençal singing has shown that only with the eventual divorce of melody from “text” can melody take on the characteristics that we, from the standpoint of our own cultural preconceptions, can recognize as music. [98] With the advent of polyphony, the motet can triumph over its libretto; but before that, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the melodic traditions were still bound to phraseological traditions of song. [99] From the standpoint of medieval poetics, recognition as one good at melodies merely required a good vocal register; [100] a singer could be good at producing melodies and still be bad at producing words—and therefore a bad singer. [101]

§35. Of the two terms, lyric and melic, the first is the more elusive in that it tends to be applied in contemporary academic usage to practically all Archaic Greek poetry except Homer and Hesiod. For my purposes, however, lyric is still the more useful term since it is more general. As such, lyric is suitable for distinguishing the general notion of song from the more specific one of poetry, which is restricted to the recitative medium of epic, elegiac, and iambic trimeter. From here on I use the word lyric as a parallel to song, {35|36} excluding the elegiac and the iambic trimeter. In current usage such exclusion is generally not observed. It is instructive to notice, however, one particular constraint even in current usage against the application of the term lyric: we cannot say that the iambic trimeter of Athenian tragedy and comedy is lyric for the simple reason that it is patently recited as opposed to sung. As for what is sung, we call that lyric by way of opposition to what is recited. Thus the opposition of lyric meters and iambic trimeter in Athenian drama is that of song and poetry. We may note the dictum of Aristotle to the effect that iambic trimeter approximates, more closely than any other meter, everyday speech in real life (Poetics 1449a22–27; cf. Rhetoric 1408b33). Thus the opposition of song and poetry in tragedy not only recapitulates diachronically an earlier opposition of SONG and speech: it also imitates synchronically the actual opposition of song and speech in “real life.”

§40. Similarly, I also propose that the phraseology of SONG can stylize and regularize its own built-in tones or intonations, resulting diachronically in what we call melody. [113] If we combine the two proposals, we get a scheme where both rhythm and melody in SONG could be viewed as regularized outgrowths of speech that serve eventually to distinguish SONG from speech. In terms of this composite scheme, I am now ready to substitute rhythm or melody or both for metric substructure in the formulation of Ben-Amos. The result is a formulation that is not alien to ethnomusicology. On the general topic of the connections discovered by ethnomusicologists between music (what I have been calling SONG) and language, I cite a general theory, built on a broad cross cultural sampling of ethnographic data, offered by Bruno Nettl:

§43. In light of these arguments, supported by the insights of ethnomusicologists, I offer a broadened outline of possible developments, with special reference to the development of Greek music. Whereas SONG may or may not have required melody, song must be plus melody as opposed to poetry, which is minus melody or reduced melody. Whereas SONG may or may not have required dance and instrumental accompaniment, given forms of song may be plus dance or plus instrumental accompaniment or plus both.

§44. Let us pursue further the point, made earlier, to the effect that the parallelisms between patterns of dance or instrumental accompaniment and patterns of rhythm or melody in SONG are diachronically primary and that the contrasts between them are secondary. [120] If indeed SONG is marked speech, then such elements as dance and instrumental accompaniment can be viewed as ramifications of SONG that can in turn be further differentiated as either parallel to the SONG or contrasting with it or, even further, parting with it altogether, as in forms of dance or instrumental music that exist independent of SONG. This is not to say something altogether naive and pseudo-historical, such as “in the beginning there was song, which was both danced and instrumentally accompanied.” Rather it is to speak of the linguistic foundations of singing, dancing, and instrumental accompaniment. It is to speak of diachronic potential: SONG, as a marked form of language, is structurally capable of generating differentiated subforms such as dance and instrumental music. From a diachronic point of view, then, dance and instrumental music are optional realizations of the stylized speech-act. From the standpoint of traditions with song, dance, and instrumental accompaniment surviving together, analogous forms with any of these constituents missing are liable to be viewed as the result of a tearing away of that constituent from a unified whole, as we read in Plato Laws 669d–670a. In this connection, we may follow the formulation of A. M. Dale, who makes use of Milton’s concept of {41|42} Voice and Verse as uniting to form Song: “For the Greek lyric poet Voice and Verse were not a pair of sirens; Verse was merely the incomplete record of a single creation, Song.” [121]

§49. The sense of wonder about the mīmēsis performed by the Deliades concerns the accuracy or exactness of their reenactment: everyone will say, when they hear the sound of their own voices reenacted by the Deliades, that they are hearing their own way of speaking (Hymn to Apollo 163–164). [131] This line of thought corresponds to the celebrated description of mīmēsis in the Poetics of Aristotle as the mental process of identifying the representing ‘this’ with the represented ‘that’: οὗτος ἐκεῖνος ‘this is that’ (1448b17). [132] In the performance of the Deliades, the represented ‘that’ is not only whatever the visiting Ionians have sung before. Whatever they have sung before is simply the latest in an ongoing series of previous reenactments, ultimately reenacting a given myth. So also with the formulation of mīmēsis by Aristotle (again Poetics 1448b17): the represented ‘that’ identified with the representing ‘this’ can be perceived not only as the previous experience but also as the sum total of previous experiences. ‘This’, then, is particular, the experience in the here and now, whereas ‘that’ is potentially universal, a cumulative synthesis of all previous experience. Aristotle goes on to say that the mental process whereby ‘this’ is being identified with ‘that’, by way of mīmēsis, is a source of pleasure (Poetics 1448b11, 13, 18). This pleasure is not incompatible with an anthropological understanding of ritual: “Fixed rhythm and fixed pitch are conducive to the performance of joint social activity. Indeed, those who resist yielding to this constraining influence are likely to suffer from a marked unpleasant restlessness. In comparison, the experience of constraint of a peculiar kind acting upon the collaborator induces in him, when he yields to it, the pleasure of self-surrender.” [133]

§51. From the standpoint of ritual, then, the activity of the chorus in an institution like Athenian drama, where, song, dance, and instrumental accompaniment can function as a unified whole, is a matter primarily of reenactment, insofar as the performers reenact the events of myth, and only secondarily of imitation, insofar as the performers at one given occasion imitate the performances of previous occasions.

§53. And yet, if indeed poetry is to be derived from SONG, it is really one step further removed from speech: to repeat the diachronic construct, song is specialized by retaining and refining melody from SONG, while poetry is specialized by losing or failing to develop the melody that is potential in SONG. [136] In terms of differentiation, some form of SONG had to lose melody, or fail to develop melody, so that poetry could be differentiated from song. In Athenian drama, this form was the iambic trimeter. From a diachronic point of view, however, this meter did not have to be the form that imitated speech: we hear from Aristotle (Poetics 1449a21) that the trochaic tetrameter catalectic had been the earlier format of spoken poetry as opposed to song. [137] But the conventions of Athenian tragedy seemed to allow only one meter to serve as the canonical format for imitating speech at any one given time: [138] in attested tragedy, for example, the trochaic tetrameter catalectic is not isofunctional with the iambic trimeter—it is marked off from it by virtue of being associated with “scenes of heightened tension.” [139] Moreover, there is {45|46} evidence that the trochaic tetrameter catalectic was in certain situations delivered in a reduced melodic form known as parakatalogē. [140] There is no need to argue, however, that iambic trimeter could never be sung after having become the imitative format of speech: there are sporadic traces, even in Athenian drama, of sung iambic trimeter [141] as also of sung dactylic hexameter [142] and sung elegiac distich. [143] Still, the appropriate way to imitate the single format of speech with the multiple formats of SONG is to contrast a single spoken meter with the plurality of sung meters. If Aristotle Poetics 1449a21 is right in saying that the trochaic tetrameter catalectic used to be the medium for imitating speech, then I am ready to posit a stage where even iambic trimeter, like the trochaic tetrameter catalectic, used to be delivered in the format of parakatalogē, and where this type of modified melodic delivery used to be the only approximation of speech. [144] Then another stage of differentiation could have led to the iambic trimeter of Classical tragedy, with its non-melodic delivery, while trochaic tetrameter catalectic persisted with a modified melodic delivery. At such a stage of differentiation, only iambic trimeter could imitate speech, whereas the trochaic tetrameter catalectic would be imitating something that is now more than just speech.

§55. Before proceeding any further in our consideration of the distinctions between song and poetry, we must confront a semantic problem occasioned by our own cultural preconceptions. Whereas the stylized rhythms of poetry are known to us as meter, we think of the stylized rhythms of song simply as rhythm. This mode of nomenclature is hardly appropriate to the traditions of Greek lyric, where song operates on principles of rhythm that are clearly cognate with the principles of meter in the recitative poetry of, say, Greek epic. In fact it is common practice to speak of the rhythms of Greek lyric in terms of meter.

§63. With any differentiation of poetry from song through the loss of melody, there would have to come about a new structural strain in the oral tradition. Melody can be an important feature in the mnemonics of oral tradition in song, as we know from the studies of folklorists who scrutinize the transmission and diffusion of song: melody helps recall the words. [161] We are reminded of the anecdote about the Athenians captured after the debacle at Syracuse who ingratiated themselves with their captors by singing passages from Euripides: these memorable passages were evidently parts from choral lyric, not iambic trimeter (as we see from the wording τῶν μελῶν ᾄσαντες ‘singing from his lyrics’ in Plutarch Nicias 29.3). [162] In terms of a {50|51} differentiation of oral SONG into oral poetry as opposed to oral song, [163] I offer this axiom: with the structural strain brought about by the loss of melody in poetry, there would come about, for the sake of mnemonic efficiency, a compensatory tightening up of rules in the poetic tradition. [164] This tightening up would entail an intensification of both phraseological and prosodic regularities, as we see in the formulas and meters of Homer, Hesiod, and the old elegiac and iambic poets. I also suggest that the concept of formula, stemming ultimately from Milman Parry’s study of Homeric phraseology, applies primarily to such regularities stemming from the differentiation of oral poetry from oral song. In other words the formula is to be seen as characteristic primarily of oral poetry as opposed to song. In order to account for the distinct regularities of oral song as opposed to poetry, the concept of formula could be considerably broadened. [165]


[ back ] 1. An earlier version, with ad hoc application to the theories of Wolfgang Kullmann, was printed in Critical Exchange (16 [1984] 32–54), a periodical committed to the publication of tentative versions of work still in progress.

[ back ] 2. For my methodology, a particularly influential work has been Jacopin 1981, with its balanced treatment of parole as well as langue. Cf. also Leach 1982, especially p. 5, with incisive comments on the impact of Jacopin’s work.

[ back ] 3. For a forceful presentation, with an emphasis on oral song and poetry, see Zumthor 1983. At p. 34 the author stresses that oral poetry is not poetry minus writing. As an introduction to the characteristics of oral poetry, the standard works remain and will surely remain Parry [1971] and Lord 1960. The intellectual and emotional resistance to the findings of Parry and Lord stems for the most part from various cultural preconceptions of our own times concerning “folk poetry”; for an illuminating historical account of such preconceptions, centering on the dichotomy of “Volkspoesie” and “Hochpoesie,” see Bausinger 1980.41–55 (“Folklore und gesunkenes Kulturgut”). Cf. also Nettl 1965.13: songs can travel not only from “high” culture to “low,” but also the other way around. In the case of German traditions the two-way travel between “art music” and “folk music” is particularly intense (Nettl, p. 69). As songs travel “up” and “down,” there can be commensurate patterns of tightening or loosening, either way, in the built-in rules of song-making.

[ back ] 4. Cf. Introduction §15–17.

[ back ] 5. Cf. Pöhlmann 1960.29–48, especially 29–32, 47–48; also Henderson and Wulstan 1973.48–49 on the different systems of notation used by the rhythmicians and metricians.

[ back ] 6. Cf. Allen 1973.96–125, especially pp. 98–100.

[ back ] 7. On the role of the written text as an alternative to performance, see the discussion in Ch. 6, especially with reference to the work of Svenbro 1988. My argument that writing is not essential for either the composition or the performance of poetry and song in the Archaic period of Greece requires, already at this point, one major modification: a notable exception is the Archaic epigram, which does indeed require the medium of writing as an alternative to performance, though not for composition. As Alexiou 1974.13 and 106 argues, the epigram is a poetic form that compensates for emerging patterns of restriction against antiphonal types of lamentation performed in two choral subdivisions, where one subdivision took the role of the dead, engaging in a “dialogue” with another subdivision that took the role of the living; the medium of writing was necessitated as a substitute for actual performance, in the wake of social pressures, exerted within the new context of the emergent city-states, against ostentatious degrees of lamentation on the part of families with powerful ties to the older phases of the existing social system. Even in the case of the epigram, it can be argued that writing had no direct role in the actual composition of the poetry: it appears that the built-in mechanics of composition, which can be ascertained from the diction of the various attested epigrams, do not necessarily correspond to the various local patterns of spelling reflected by these epigrams. Two notable examples in Archaic epigrams are (1) the spelling-out of elided vowels (e.g., CEG 13.4) and (2) the spelling of “movable ν” in violation of the meter (e.g., CEG 288; cf. Kock 1910.22). For an internal cross reference to the genre of the epigram within Homeric poetry, cf. Iliad VII 89–90 and the commentary (with bibliography) of Gentili and Giannini 1977.22–25. As for the various other forms of song and poetry, which were not dependent on writing as their primary vehicle of expression, I agree with the general arguments of Herington 1985.41–57 (especially pp. 46–47) against presupposing the necessity of writing as an aid for the performance of songs in what he calls the “song culture” of the Archaic and Classical periods. I disagree, however, with his postulating the necessity of writing for the actual composition of songs (especially p. 41).

[ back ] 8. Cf. Lord 1960.13–29, 99–123; cf. Nettl 1983.247–258 on the concept of fieldwork.

[ back ] 9. Cf. also Chs. 2§3–6, 2§12–16, 2§23–24, 3§3–5, 13§1–2, 13§46–49, and following.

[ back ] 10. For the moment, I shall include under the rubric “Homer” not only the Iliad and Odyssey but also the Homeric Hymns and the poems of the Epic Cycle, such as the Aithiopis and Destruction of Ilion attributed to Arctinus of Miletus (Proclus, p. 105.21–22 and p. 107.16–17 Allen, Suda s.v.), the Little Iliad attributed to Lesches of Mytilene (Proclus, p. 106.19–20; Phaenias F 33 Wehrli, in Clement Stromateis 1.131.6), and so on. I reserve for Ch. 2§38–39 a discussion of the patterns of differentiation between Homeric and Cyclic Epic. As we see in that discussion, as also later in Ch. 14, the patterns of attribution to Homer become progressively more exclusive as we move forward in time, from the Archaic to the Classical period and beyond.

[ back ] 11. I use the term wisdom poetry to encompass both the Theogony and the Works and Days.

[ back ] 12. As the discussion proceeds, we shall see that some types of meter that are performed by the chorus are transitional between not-sung and sung, such as the so-called parakatalogē, with reduced rather than full melody (Ch. 1§18–20) and with reduced dancing (Ch. 1§35–37).

[ back ] 13. Details in Ch. 12, where I also reckon with various lines of argumentation that have been invoked to challenge the notion of an inherited correlation of song and dance in the khoros.

[ back ] 14. The meter in which this utterance is composed is trochaic tetrameter catalectic, on which see Ch. 1§51–54; also Ch. 13§30–33. Also in the same meter is Archilochus F 121 W, where the description ‘leading the choral performance’ (again, verb exarkhō) applies to the choral leader of a paean. Further discussion of the concepts of dithyramb, paean, and choral performance (verb exarkhō) in Ch. 3 and Ch. 12. For more on Archilochus F 120 W, see N 1979.252n.

[ back ] 15. Thus for example the aoidē ‘song’ of the Muses at Hesiod Theogony 104 is in the context of the poet’s bidding them to ‘narrate’ (espete: Th. 114) and to ‘say’ (eipate: Th. 115). On ennepō as ‘recite’, see N 1974.11n29.

[ back ] 16. See for example West 1981, who makes this additional observation at p. 113: “We cannot make a distinction between two styles of performance, one characterized as aeidein, the other as enepein.”

[ back ] 17. Again, N 1974.11n29.

[ back ] 18. I am using the terms diachronic and synchronic, on which see Introduction §7–11, not as synonyms for historical and current respectively. It is a mistake to equate diachronic with historical, as is often done. Diachrony refers to the potential for evolution in a structure. History is not restricted to phenomena that are structurally predictable.

[ back ] 19. For further exploration of this subject, see N 1979.18–20. Note Kirk’s (1962.281) comparison of the size of the Homeric compositions with the “leap from the largish pot to the perfectly colossal one” in the evolution of monumental amphoras/craters during the Geometric Period. What interests me in this comparison is that the colossal size of a utensil defies its own utility (N, p. 20§5n5).

[ back ] 20. For a convenient collection of testimonia concerning the performance of Homeric poetry at the Panathenaia, see Allen 1924.226–227: Lycurgus Against Leokrates 102 (the law requires the performance of the poetry of Homer at the Panathenaia, to the exclusion of other poets), Isocrates Panegyricus 159, “Plato” Hipparchus 228b, Diogenes Laertius 1.57 (Life of Solon). Cf. also Hesychius s.v. Braurōniois. Herington 1985.139 calculates that the running time of the Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus “could be more than a quarter of that of a full-length Homeric epic.” He concludes: “These and similar figures seem often to be overlooked in discussions about the practicability of delivering the Homeric epics complete on any one occasion (p. 269n58). A dynasty of tyrants in Athens, the Peisistratidai, played a major role both in the shaping of the Panathenaia and in making this festival the context for performance of epic (scholia to Aristides Panathenaicus 3.123; “Plato” Hipparchus 228b). The involvement of the Peisistratidai in the institutionalization of Homeric performance at Athens has been explained in terms of a “Peisistratean Recension” (for an introduction to this concept, with bibliography, see [S.] West 1988.36–40). The present book develops an alternative explanation that does not require the textual notion of a “recension.” For more on the Peisistratidai and their connection with the performance of Homeric poetry at the Panathenaia, see especially Chs. 2§30–31, 2§44, 6§28–30, 6§53–54, 6§83–85.

[ back ] 21. For example, “Plato” Hipparchus 228b, concerning the rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’ at the Panathenaia. It appears that some cities were later than others in instituting formal occasions for rhapsodic performance: see Maximus of Tyre 17.5a concerning the “latecomers” Sparta, Crete, and Cyrene (ὀψὲ γὰρ καὶ ἡ Σπάρτη ῥαψῳδεῖ, ὀψὲ δὲ καὶ ἡ Κρήτη, ὀψὲ δὲ καὶ τὸ Δωρικὸν ἐν Λιβύῃ γένος).

[ back ] 22. On agōn as ‘contest’ in poetry, see Homeric Hymn 6.19–20 (cf. 5§2–3). When Heraclitus (22 B 42 DK) says that Homer and Archilochus should be banned from agōnes ‘contests’ in poetic performance, what is really being said is that rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’ (as suggested by the playful use of ῥαπίζεσθαι) should not be allowed to perform Homer and Archilochus. The expression Ὁμηρείων ἐπέων ‘Homer’s words’ in Herodotus 5.67.1 probably refers to the Seven against Thebes tradition, not to the Iliad or Odyssey; see Cingano 1985, whose argumentation meshes with a line of thought that pervades this book: that the patterns of attribution to Homer become increasingly less exclusive as we move further back in time.

[ back ] 23. Cf. Brelich 1958.320–321. Elsewhere I have argued that the “signature” in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo 172, where the speaker refers to himself as ‘the blind man of Chios’, is an idealized self-reference to Homer: see N 1979.5 and 8–9 (for a similar conclusion, from a different point of view, see Burkert 1979.57); the verb οἰκεῖ ‘he has an abode’ (from noun oikos ‘house, abode’) at line 172 suggests that Homer, as ancestor of the Homeridai, had a hero cult at Chios (cf. N 1985.76–77, 81§79n1). For other references to the Homeridai of Chios, see Acusilaus FGH 2 F 2, Hellanicus FGH 4 F 20 (both by way of Harpocration s.v.); Isocrates Helen 65; Plato Republic 599d, Ion 530c.

[ back ] 24. For a defense of the reported date, 504/1 B.C., cf. West 1975, Burkert 1979, and Janko 1982.261–262n88; Burkert adduces, for comparison, a tripod with an epigram dedicated by Simonides on the occasion of his victory in a dithyrambic competition at Athens in 476 B.C. (Simonides EG 28). The relative lateness of the date here assigned to Kynaithos is puzzling to those who posit a relatively early date for Stesichorus, supposedly the earliest attested poet in the Hellenic West. But note the juxtaposition of Homer and Stesichorus in, for example, Simonides PMG 564 (Burkert 1979.56n16); also in Isocrates Helen 64–65. I interpret such references to imply the appropriateness of conventionally juxtaposing performances of Homeric and Stesichorean compositions at a given festival.

[ back ] 25. Further details at 2§31–33. Cf. Burkert 1972, who offers an analysis of myths that connect the transmission of Homeric poetry by the Kreophyleioi with the transmission of Homeric poetry by the Homeridai. This testimony about the reception of Homeric poetry at Sparta may be compared with the remark of Maximus of Tyre 17.5a, cited at Ch. 1§10–12.

[ back ] 26. This detail about taking turns is apparently not taken into account in the arguments of Schnapp-Gourbeillon 1982.720 against N 1979.18–20 (et passim).

[ back ] 27. It remains to ask whether, in the case of the Panathenaia, the reported law about consecutive recitation (cf. also Ch. 1§9–10) was a reinforcement or extension of something that might already have been a convention of, say, the Homeridai. Cf. also Lycurgus Against Leokrates 106–107 about a customary law at Sparta concerning the performance of the poetry of Tyrtaeus.

[ back ] 28. Cf. 1§9-10. I infer that the rhapsodes who took turns reciting within the sequence were in competition with each other. I cite again the reference in Herodotus (5.67.1) to agōnes ‘contests’(ἀγωνίζεσθαι) in the public performance of “Homer’s words” by rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’ (cf. Ch. 1§10–12). As H. Pelliccia suggests to me, the requirement for consecutive performance by rhapsodes has the effect of ensuring that competition does not result in the arbitrary selection, by ambitious rhapsodes, of the most popular sequences. [S.] West 1988.39–40 leaves room for the possibility that the division of the Iliad (and, by extension, of the Odyssey) into twenty-four “books” reflects traditional units of performance by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia. On the usage of rhapsōidiā in the sense of a ‘book’ of the Iliad, see, e.g., Plutarch Apophthegmata 186e.

[ back ] 29. The expression ἄλυρα ‘without lyre’ in Plato Laws 810bc furnishes explicit testimony (cf. also Plato Ion 533b5–7). For testimonia about reciting rhapsodes holding a staff instead of a lyre, see West 1966.163–164 (though I disagree with his application of these testimonia to Hesiod Theogony 30). The iconographic evidence of vase paintings showing rhapsodes either with a lyre or with a staff (West ibid.) can be viewed as another example of the phenomenon that I have called the diachronic skewing of perspective on an evolving institution (on which see Ch. 1§9–10).

[ back ] 30. See Ch. 12 on the diachronic correctness of the description, in Hesiod Theogony 3–4, 8, of song and dance in the performance of the Muses.

[ back ] 31. For testimonia on the rhapsodic recitation of Hesiodic poetry, see Plato Ion 531a, 532a, Laws 658d; also 1§22–23. For an overview of the evolution from singer (aoidos) to reciter (rhapsōidos), see N 1982.43–49. Conversely, the concept of rhapsode can be retrojected all the way back to Homer and Hesiod, as when Plato refers to both as rhapsodes (Republic 600d).

[ back ] 32. For example, the hexameters attributed to Terpander, which counted as a lyric form, were sung: “Plutarch” On Music 1132c (Heraclides Ponticus F 157 Wehrli) and the commentary of Barker 1984.208n18. On the lyric hexameters (and quasi-hexameters) attributed to the archaic figure called Terpander as a model for those of the post-Classical poet Timotheus (including his attested Persians): see On Music 1132de and the commentary of Barker, p. 209n25.

[ back ] 33. See, for example, Aristotle Poetics 1447a29–b8, 1448a11, 1449b29; Plato Laws 669d–670a. Cf. Else 1957.37–39.

[ back ] 34. Cf. Ch. 12§55–56.

[ back ] 35. Cf. Ch. 12§55–57.

[ back ] 36. Ibid. See also Archilochus F 58.12 W, where we read ᾄδων ὑπ᾽ αὐλητῆρος ‘singing to the accompaniment of the aulos-player’; cf. Theognis 533, 825. Note Hipponax F 153 W and Mimnermus T 5 GP, by way of “Plutarch” On Music 1134a: the author is discussing an unattested passage of Hipponax where the poet cross-refers to Mimnermus as an aulos-player (cf. T 2 and T 4 GP); this cross reference leads the author to assert that in earlier times elegiac poetry was sung to the accompaniment of the aulos. See also the report in Pausanias 10.7.5–6 that at an early stage elegiac distichs were performed to the accompaniment of the aulos at the Pythian Games, and that this practice came to an end in 582 B.C. Also, the testimony of “Plutarch” On Music 1134a suggests the possibility that at an early stage elegiac distichs were performed to the accompaniment of the aulos at the Panathenaia. In the case of Pausanias, Bowie 1986.23 argues that the specification of elegeia ‘elegiac distichs’ may have resulted from a misunderstanding of the word elegoi in the Echembrotus epigram quoted by Pausanias (Echembrotus, p. 42 GP II).

[ back ] 37. See the commentary of Else 1957.56–57, who integrates the evidence of this passage with that of Poetics 1459b32–1460a2 and Rhetoric 1409a7; cf. also Lucas 1968.61.

[ back ] 38. Rosenmeyer 1968.218 (by “elegiac” he is referring to the metrically determined category of elegiac distich). Rosenmeyer’s 1968 article (following Campbell 1964) concentrates on the elegiac distich because his purpose is to challenge the widespread view, encouraged by the internal testimony sketched in the preceding discussion, that elegiac distich was regularly accompanied by the aulos. As for iambic trimeter, it is more generally agreed that it was recited, not sung (cf., e.g., Gentili 1985.45–46).

[ back ] 39. Cf. n36.

[ back ] 40. I suggest that the repertoire of rhapsodes would include such lengthy compositions in elegiac couplets as the Smyrneis of Mimnermus, on which see Bowie 1986.27–30.

[ back ] 41. Cf. Brisson 1982.61.

[ back ] 42. See Ch. 1§14–15. This formulation expands on the positions taken by Campbell 1964 and Rosenmeyer 1968. It can also serve as a friendly amendment to Bowie 1986.27, with whose basic point about the compatibility of the aulos ‘reed’ and the elegiac distich I agree.

[ back ] 43. On this point, see the survey by West 1981.114n8 on attestations of aeidō ‘sing’ as designating the performance of a rhapsode. Cf. also Timaeus 21b1–7, as cited immediately above. I agree with Campbell 1964.66 that the expression ἐν ᾠδῇ ‘in song [ōidē]’ in Plutarch Solon 8.2 (with reference to Solon F 1 W) refers to “formal recitation like that of a rhapsode.” A similar point can be made about the use of āidō ‘sing’ in Philochorus FGH 328 F 216 (by way of Athenaeus 630f). These considerations affect the arguments of Bowie 1986.19n29.

[ back ] 44. Cited at Ch. 1§15–16.

[ back ] 45. Cf. West 1981.125.

[ back ] 46. For the reading “Semonides” instead of “Simonides,” see West ibid.

[ back ] 47. West 1981.125 dates these testimonia to the fourth century B.C., or the end of the fifth at the earliest. On the setting for the performance of the rhapsode Kleomenes, we may compare the report that Dionysius I of Syracuse engaged rhapsodes to perform his poetry at Olympia (Diodorus Siculus 14.109).

[ back ] 48. See the useful references of West 1970.919.

[ back ] 49. As we see from a survey by Gentili 1979.26–31, with a focus on the performance of drama. Cf. also West 1986 on the hexameters of a newly-discovered inscription from Epidaurus, a fragment of a hymn that he dates “not later than the third century B.C.” (p. 45; cf. p. 44n19). The melodic notations preserved in this inscription reflect, in West’s opinion, a uniform instrumental cadence, hexameter after hexameter.

[ back ] 50. Gentili, p. 26.

[ back ] 51. See Ch. 1§14–15.

[ back ] 52. Cf. Appendix.

[ back ] 53. Cf. the commentary of Barker 1984.212n183, n185.

[ back ] 54. Cf. Aristides Quintilianus, pp. 5.25–6.7 (ed. Winnington-Ingram) on the recitation of poetry as an intermediate category, to be placed between the categories of speech and song. See further at 1§40. Cf. also Barker, p. 234n183.

[ back ] 55. Cf. the comments of Barker, p. 52n20.

[ back ] 56. For a similar line of thinking, note the report of Timomachus (FGH 754 F 1 in Athenaeus 638a), who says that one Stesandros was the first to set Homer to the lyre for a performance at Delphi; it is as if the medium of “Homer” had never been sung before, only spoken.

[ back ] 57. Cf. N 1974.10n29 and 244–261.

[ back ] 58. Durante 1976.177–179. The notion of rhapsōidos ‘rhapsode’ as ‘he who stitches together the song’ is made explicit in Pindar Nemean 2.1–3. On the concept of oimē as a sort of textual “fil d’ Ariane,” see Svenbro 1976.45n135.

[ back ] 59. Cf. also Herodotus 5.67.1, on which see also Ch. 1§10–12. For further testimonia from inscriptions recording various contests of rhapsodes, see West 1981.114n13. Cf. also Brisson 1982.62–63, with a convenient summary of details, gleaned from the Ion of Plato, about the competition of rhapsodes at the Panathenaia.

[ back ] 60. Quoted at Ch. 2§48–49. Further details on this passage at Ch. 5§2–3.

[ back ] 61. For a survey of the institution of competition among singers, see Dunkel 1979; cf. N 1979.311§2n6. For an example of a myth about such a competition, I cite the story of a contest between Arctinus of Miletus and Lesches of Mytilene, two of the poets of the Epic Cycle (Phaenias F 33 Wehrli, in Clement Stromateis 1.131.6). A more famous example is the Contest of Homer and Hesiod tradition (pp. 225–238 Allen); for bibliography, see Janko 1982.259–260n80; cf. also Dunkel 1979.252–253. On the interrelationship of narrative structure between the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey on the one hand and the Epic Cycle on the other, see 2§37–40.

[ back ] 62. For further arguments, see N 1982.43–49.

[ back ] 63. This is not to say that in historical times they could not have owned texts of what they recited (cf. Xenophon Memorabilia 4.2.10); in any case, it is clear that the rhapsodes recited from memory (Xenophon Symposium 3.6).

[ back ] 64. N 1982.45 and 69, citing Wackemagel [1953] p. 1103; also West 1981.114n12.

[ back ] 65. Ibid.

[ back ] 66. Note also the bits of information adduced by Allen 1924.48 about the sunthutai Mousōn Hēsiodeiōn ‘fellow-sacrificers to the Hesiodic Muses’ (IG VII 1785; cf. also 4240), a corporation that “owned the land at Thespiae which contained the sacred spots”: Allen offers the theory that this corporation was analogous to the Homēridai in that it seems to have exercised authority over the corpus of Hesiodic poetry. At p. 72 of Allen’s book, we find a parallel, not adduced at p. 48, that can serve as a powerful additional argument in favor of Allen’s theory: in Plutarch Banquet of the Seven Sages 149f–150a, there is mention of one Ardalos of Trozen, supposedly a contemporary of the Seven Sages and described as both an aulōidosaulos-singer’ (aulos = ‘reed’) and a ἱερεὺς τῶν Ἁρδαλείων Μουσῶν ‘priest of the Ardalean Muses’. The cult of these “Ardalean Muses” had been supposedly established by the ancestor of this Ardalos, also called Ardalos of Trozen (Plutarch 150a), who is elsewhere reported to be the inventor of the aulos (Pausanias 2.31.3). This parallelism suggests that the ‘fellow-sacrificers to the Hesiodic Muses’ are rhapsōidoi who transmit the compositions of Hesiod, just as the ‘priests of the Ardalean Muses’ are aulōidoi who transmit the compositions of their ancestor Ardalos—and just as the Homēridai ‘sons of Homer’ transmit the compositions of their ancestor Homer.

[ back ] 67. I print song types, not just song, to indicate the potential plurality of song types in opposition with any single given type of poetry. I elaborate on this point in what follows.

[ back ] 68. On the distinction between unmarked and marked members of an opposition, see Introduction §11–13.

[ back ] 69. On the notion of speech-act, see Introduction §15–17.

[ back ] 70. Cf. Leach 1982, especially pp. 5–6. For further elaboration, see Ch. 4§1–3. Most Classicists of my generation tend to resist the very concept of ritual in the wake of the earlier excesses of the so-called Cambridge School: see, for example, Herington 1985.123–124. Herington’s important contributions to our understanding of the earlier forms of Athenian tragedy could be further enhanced through a broader perspective of ritual. In this regard I find it helpful to cite the sketch offered by Seaford 1984.10–16. I agree with Seaford that his findings help confirm “the unfashionable view that the performance of tragedy originated in the practice of ritual” (p. 14).

[ back ] 71. Burkert 1985.8.

[ back ] 72. My translation, with slight modifications, of Burkert 1979b.29. For an illuminating discussion of myth, especially useful to those who are unfamiliar with the perspectives of social anthropology, I cite Leach 1982.

[ back ] 73. Cf. Leach, pp. 5–6.

[ back ] 74. Nettl 1965.120.

[ back ] 75. For example, SIG 672.15. Commentary and further discussion by Edmunds 1985.105.

[ back ] 76. Further details at Ch. 6§2–4.

[ back ] 77. Chantraine DELG 728: from onomatopoeic , with the primary meaning of opening and closing the lips (cf. Aristophanes Knights 10: see Chantraine, p. 717).

[ back ] 78. We may compare the semiotics of whispering, which may count as a form of not-speaking in everyday or unmarked situations and as a form of special speaking in marked situations of secrecy, sacredness, and the like.

[ back ] 79. See Chantraine, pp. 717–718, with bibliography in support of the argument that mūthos ‘myth’ is likewise derived from onomatopoeic . Despite the morphological grounds for accepting this derivation, Chantraine expresses doubts on semantic grounds. I hope that my interpretation here helps dispel that doubt.

[ back ] 80. For more on mūthos ‘myth’, see 2§27–28 and following. “Surviving examples” in social institutions tend to reflect a general pattern in earlier stages but only a particular situation in later stages of attestation.

[ back ] 81. For the belief that the corpse of the hero was a talisman of fertility for his native or adoptive community, see Ch. 6§58–60. On the hero cult of Oedipus at Colonus as represented by the tragedy of that name, see Edmunds 1981, especially p. 223n8 (a reference that is accidentally omitted in N 1985.76–77).

[ back ] 82. The participle drōmena is from the verb draō, which means ‘do, perform’ within the world of tragedy but also ‘sacrifice, perform ritual’ within the “real world,” the outer world that frames the world of tragedy. See Ch. 13§11–13. The participle drōmena, as used outside of tragedy, designates ‘ritual’ (e.g., Pausanias 9.27.2, 9.30.12; cf. Burkert 1983.33n14). Inside tragedy, as here at Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 1644, it bears the more inclusive and ambiguous sense of ‘things that are done’, ‘things that are happening’.

[ back ] 83. N 1982b. The key lines are in Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 1641–1644.

[ back ] 84. On the truth-value of myth: Leach 1982.2–7.

[ back ] 85. Detailed demonstration in Martin 1989.12–42. On the concept of speech-act, see Introduction §15–17.

[ back ] 86. When differences in pitch have a lexical function (as in ancient Greek), it is a matter of tone; where they have a syntactical function (as in English), it is a matter of intonation: cf. Devine and Stephens 1985.151.

[ back ] 87. On duration and intensity as aspects of “stress,” cf. Devine and Stephens, p. 152. Further discussion at Ch. 1§31–33.

[ back ] 88. See Guillén 1985.93–121, especially pp. 103–104, and Bright 1963.29. One feature of the fusion of experience in ritual, as Tambiah 1985.165 suggests, is “the hyper-regular surface structure of ritual language: the poetic devices such as rhyme, meter, assonance, and alliteration generate an overall quality of union and a blurring of grammatical boundaries.” Cf. also Jakobson 1960.358.

[ back ] 89. Note the following remark of Merriam 1964.119: “Some connection is made between pitch and muscle tension; the musician becomes accustomed to the muscle tension which he knows to be correct. One Basongye musician expressed this by saying that he chooses a pitch ‘which does not make me sweat’, and the same musician very logically noted that he comes to know the voices of the people with whom he sings and thus chooses a starting pitch ‘in the middle’ which he knows will suit all the voices.”

[ back ] 90. Cf. Allen 1973.100. The concept of dance should not be defined narrowly on the basis of our own cultural preconceptions. The categories of stylized bodily movement corresponding to our notion of dance vary from society to society. Cf. Royce 1977. Further details are at Ch. 1§39. On dance as an optional element in ballad performance, see Nettl 1965.56; for more details, with reference to Faroese culture, see Wylie and Margolin 1981.99, 115, 117. I note in particular the following description, p. 99: [ back ] “At the village dancehall—or, before villages had dancehalls, in a house rented for the occasion—men and women link arms to form a long, twisting circle. Anyone may join the circle at any point. They dance with a rhythmically shuffling, kicking step to the singing of the ballads. There is no instrumental accompaniment. A skipari (leader) sings the verses of a ballad, while the rest of the singers join in on the verses (if they know them) and on the refrain. When one ballad ends, the ring keeps moving round for a few moments until a new skipari starts up a new one.”

[ back ] 91. Cf. the ethnographic testimony discussed briefly by Merriam 1964.275.

[ back ] 92. Cf. Herzog 1934, Schneider 1957.32–33, and especially Sultan 1988.396–397. Note too Bake 1957.196–197 on the Indic traditional teaching that vocal music is “pure” sound while instrumental music is a “manifestation” of sound. As Nettl 1965.51 points out, the limitations of the human voice (not to mention the limitations of the human ear), as contrasted with the relatively greater freedom of sound-range in musical instruments, lead to differences in the patterns of evolution for vocal and instrumental music. In this connection it is useful to ponder the discussion of Bright 1963.27. See in general the survey of the relationships between language and music in Nettl 1964.281-292. On the tendency of specialization and even professionalization in the social position of those who perform SONG with instrumental accompaniment and, by extension, of those who perform musical instruments, see Nettl 1965.50. On the development of instrumental solo playing on the aulos, so that the aulōidos ‘he who sings to the accompaniment of the aulos [reed]’ gives way to the aulētēs ‘he who plays the aulos’, see Pausanias 10.7.4, with the terminus of 582 B.C. at the Pythian Games.

[ back ] 93. Hence the notion of “talking instruments,” as discussed by Stern 1957; cf. also Ong 1977b. On instrumental music as imitation of the “special speech” of bird song, see Merriam 1964.75. Conversely, at one step further removed, unusual vocal techniques like Alpine yodeling can be traced back to the imitation of instruments: cf. Nettl 1956.58.

[ back ] 94. On “stress” in ancient Greek, which includes the phonological features of duration and intensity but not pitch, see the fundamental work of Allen 1973; for an updated defense of Allen’s formulation, see Devine and Stephens 1985. From the standpoint of general phonetics, stress may be a matter of duration, intensity, and pitch. From a survey of typological evidence, Devine and Stephens, p. 152, point to “instances of languages in which intensity is independent of both pitch and duration (Japanese), languages in which intensity is independent of duration and combines with pitch as an exponent of stress (Estonian, Komi), and languages in which intensity combines with both pitch and duration as an exponent of stress (English).” When differences in pitch have a lexical function, as in ancient Greek, it is a matter of tone; where they have a syntactical function, as in English, it is a matter of intonation: see Ch. 1§30–31. In ancient Greek, pitch is thus a matter of morphology as well as phonology. This is being taught today as the sum total of Greek accentuation. Allen’s discovery, that ancient Greek also had a system of duration and intensity that was independent of its system of pitch, suggests that the two systems merged in Modem Greek, where the inherited patterns of pitch are correlated with both duration and intensity (Devine and Stephens, p. 146n83).

[ back ] 95. Cf. Merriam 1964.10–11.

[ back ] 96. See Zumthor 1972.100.

[ back ] 97. Ibid.

[ back ] 98. Zink 1972.24: “Quand le divorce entre le texte et la musique sera comsommé, la musique, paradoxalement, pourra prendre plus d’importance; elle sera développée pour ellemême et pour l’effet extérieur qu’elle produit, indépendamment des exigences internes du poème.”

[ back ] 99. Zink, pp. 17–24; especially p. 23n2.

[ back ] 100. Examples in Zink, p. 23n1.

[ back ] 101. Zink, p. 20n3.

[ back ] 102. A prominent example is Iliad XXIV 723–776, where the narrative gives a direct quotation of three different laments, performed by three of Hektor’s female next of kin on the occasion of the hero’s funeral. At this funeral there are also professional aoidoi ‘singers’ (XXIV 720) who sing a more stylized kind of lament, called the thrēnos (721), while the nonprofessional singers, next of kin to the deceased, are singing a less differentiated kind of lament, called the goos (XXIV 723, 747, 761). Correspondingly, at the funeral of Achilles, his next of kin, the Nereids, sing undifferentiated laments (Odyssey xxiv 58–59), while the Muses sing a differentiated thrēnos (xxiv 60–61). Cf. N 1979.112.

[ back ] 103. On the concept of imitation as a narrowed version of the concept of reenactment, see Ch. 1§47–48.

[ back ] 104. Ben-Amos 1976.228. He quotes at this point Andrzejewski and Lewis 1964.46, who note, as an example: “the Somali classify their poems into various distinct types, each of which has its own specific name. It seems that their classification is mainly based on two prosodic factors: the type of tune to which the poem is chanted or sung, and the rhythmic pattern of the words.” The formulation of Ben-Amos may be compared with that of Aristotle Poetics 1447b9–23, as discussed at Ch. 1§15–16.

[ back ] 105. Allen 1973.99–101, who prefers in the end not to use the word rhythm (p. 101). I continue to use it here in the sense of “a system that operates in terms of stress (duration or intensity or both).”

[ back ] 106. N 1974.145. Parts of this statement are already quoted in Allen 1973.14, 258 (cf. also p. 13) with the bibliographical tag “Nagy 1970b,” listed as “Monograph (unpub.) on Indo-European metrics” (Allen, p. 378). Without Allen’s generous acknowledgment, the existence of an unpublished 1970 version of N 1974 would not be a matter of public record (in N 1979b.629n1 I list those to whom I had sent copies of this unpublished version).

[ back ] 107. On the fundamental role of parallelisms and repetitions in differentiating what I am calling here SONG and speech, see Guillén 1985.93–121, especially pp. 103–104 with reference to the work of Žirmunskij 1965 following Steinitz 1934.

[ back ] 108. There is a particularly interesting example cited by Allen 1973.259n1: in the Luganda traditions of accompaniment, short syllables are regularly accompanied by one drumbeat and long syllables, by two drumbeats. See also Ong 1977b.

[ back ] 109. Allen, pp. 99–101.

[ back ] 110. I cite the formulation of Allen, p. 100 (where “stress” is intended to include the components of duration and intensity: cf. Ch. 1§31–33): “Implicitly or explicitly underlying this identification of stress as the basis of rhythm is the conception of rhythm as movement, and of stress, in the production of audible linguistic phenomena, as the motor activity par excellence.” Cf. Wylie and Margolin 1981.115, quoting from a 1906 description of Faroese ballad performance and dancing, where the dancers coordinate their voices and movements: “What, moreover, should be well looked after in the ballad singing is to ‘get the word under the foot’, as the old ones used to say. One gets the word under the foot when one stresses one word or syllable at the same time that one steps along with the foot.”

[ back ] 111. In light of this image I would translate skhēma as ‘dance-figure’ in Plato Laws 654e and 655a, despite the fact, noted by Barker 1984.142n60, that the usage of Plato does not restrict skhēma to the context of the dance. For the notion of skhēmata as ‘dance-figures’, postures and gestures that represent, see Barker 119n10 on Xenophon Symposium 2.15. With reference to skhēma as a pose that represents, D. Arnold draws my attention to the use of the verb ekhō, from which the noun skhēma is derived, in Herodotus 1.31.5: at the moment that the brothers Kleobis and Biton die after their ordeal in the service of the goddess Hera, it is said that ἐν τέλεϊ τούτῳ ἔσχοντο ‘they were held fast in this sacred accomplishment’ (the context is discussed further at Ch. 8§46). The narrative goes on to say that this precise moment, with the pose of the brothers in perfect synchrony, is captured as if in a “freeze frame” by the people of Argos, who witnessed the event: they commission the making of eikones ‘images’ of the brothers, presumably in their completed pose, which they dedicate at Delphi (Herodotus ibid.).

[ back ] 112. This formulation allows for the possibility that some rhythmical types, in the process of becoming purely metrical types, will have developed into a state of incompatibility with dance or instrumental accompaniment or both. On Aristotle Poetics 1448b21–22, where meters are described as moria ‘parts’ of rhythms, Hardison 1981.71n4 observes: “The passage simply asserts that meters share (‘are parts of’) certain forms derived from dance music (‘the rhythms’).” This observation is conditioned by Aristotle’s description of a particular meter used for imitating speech, the trochaic tetrameter catalectic, as a rhythm originally associated with dance that later became displaced by another meter, the iambic trimeter, which was dissociated from dance: Poetics 1449a22–24, Rhetoric 1404a31–33. See further at Ch. 1§51–53. Lucas 1978.86 emphasizes the fact that the scholia to Aristophanes Clouds 1352 mention dancing to tetrameters. Aristotle’s linking of the trochaic tetrameter catalectic with dance may well be extrapolated from such self-references as in Archilochus F 120 W, on which see Ch. 1§7–9. See also Menander Dyskolos 879, with a reference to the accompaniment of iambic tetrameters catalectic by the aulos ‘reed’.

[ back ] 113. Cf. Ch. 3§38–39. For a pioneering discussion of the relationship between pitch accentuation in the ancient Greek language and melodic patterns in ancient Greek song, see Allen 1973.231–234, especially p. 233, where he cites such testimony as that of Aristoxenus Harmonics 1.10 (and following) concerning the difference between (1) the sunekhēs ‘continuous’ pattern, with gradual shifts of tone in the accentual patterns of everyday speech and (2) the diastēmatikē intervallic pattern, with stylized shifts of tone in song, by way of intervals. According to Aristoxenus (ibid.), the diastēmatikē pattern is singing, not speaking. Aristides Quintilianus, pp. 5.25–6.7 (ed. Winnington-Ingram), posits an intermediate pattern, between the sunekhēs and the diastēmatikē, for the recitation of poetry. For similar evidence in Indic melodic traditions and elsewhere concerning the distinctions between tone, that is, pitch accent, and melody, see Allen, pp. 233–234. On zones of overlap and non-overlap in patterns of tone and melody, see Allen, p. 234. On the difference between tone and intonation, see Ch. 1§31–33. I expect that languages with fixed patterns in tone would generate melodic traditions different from languages with patterns in intonation only. Cf. Ch. 1§40–42.

[ back ] 114. Nettl 1956.136. Cf. also Bright 1963, especially p. 27; also Merriam 1964.285. There are important elaborations in Nettl 1964.281–292; note in particular his analysis of the correlation between the pattern of strong word-initial accent in the Czech language and the pattern of stressed notes beginning musical phrases in Czech folk music, both vocal and instrumental (1964.283); also his observation that, in English folk songs, the melodic contour “tends to descend at the end of a section, phrase, sentence, or song,” corresponding to intonational patterns in the language.

[ back ] 115. Sachs 1937.181–203, 1943.30–43.

[ back ] 116. Cf. Herskovits and Herskovits 1947 on Trinidad melodies: “But not all melodies are rephrasings of old ones. Sometimes a tune heard, a European tune, can be ‘swung’ into a desired rhythm, with perhaps a change of a few measures, or no change at all. In this case, the words to a traditional song might be joined to the new melody, or a proverb might be used and to it added lines from older songs.”

[ back ] 117. Note the description of “logogenic” melodies: they are “narrow of range, using small intervals,” whereas corresponding dances are “tight, controlled, expressed through narrow steps” (Merriam 1964.253). See Bake 1957.200 on the Indic tradition of the bhāṣikasvara ‘speech tone’, which has the narrowest pitch compass and is employed, according to tradition, in performing the words of the (White) Yajur Veda. Note too the following formulation: “The melodic line follows the text in every detail; the words prescribe the rhythm and the flow; there is one note to each syllable, pitch is independent of duration. One might say that the melody only supports the words” (Bake ibid.; cf. West 1981.115 and 116, who draws particular attention to the old three-pitch and four-pitch patterns).

[ back ] 118. In the case of Balinese music lessons for the young, Merriam 1964.152 notes: “Those instruments which do not play the melody are ignored for the moment, for the melody must be learned first.” On patterns of primary convergence and secondary divergence between SONG and speech, cf. the bibliography assembled by Nettl 1964.290–291. Cf. also the discussion of the factor of “tension” in Allen 1973.110–112.

[ back ] 119. Cf. Allen, p. 111: “One could envisage a form of which the pattern is determined by some prosodic feature x, such that there is another feature y whose distribution in the language is partially coincident with that of x. In such a situation one could speak of tension between x and y where the two factors failed to coincide in composition, and of ‘concord’ or ‘harmony’ where they coincided and so reinforced the metrical pattern; and such a ‘counterpoint’ between the patterns of the two features could arguably be manipulated by the poet for artistic ends.”

[ back ] 120. Cf. Ch. 1§39 and following.

[ back ] 121. Dale 1969.166.

[ back ] 122. Dale 1969.168. For reinforcement of this view on the level of testimony about the actual performance of song, see Pratinas PMG 708 (in Athenaeus 617b-f) and Plato Republic 398d.

[ back ] 123. Cf. also Plato Republic 400a and Cratylus 424c. See the comments on these and other passages by Pöhlmann 1960.30.

[ back ] 124. On patterns of primary convergence and secondary divergence between SONG and speech, I cite again Nettl 1964.281–292.

[ back ] 125. Cf. Koller 1954 on the inherited concept of mīmēsis; for a balanced updating of Koller’s synthesis, addressing the criticism of Else 1958, see Nehamas 1982. Following Halliwell 1986.110, I concede that the semantic range of mimesis was shifting, even before Plato, away from the notions of reenactment or impersonation, to accommodate such distinct notions as imitation or the reproduction of appearances. As I shall argue presently, however, such distinct notions are more limited in scope. For Plato’s views on mimesis, see Halliwell, pp. 116–122 (also p. 53). As for Aristotle, Halliwell, p. 128, begins his account by mentioning as a possibility “that Aristotle’s guiding notion of mimesis is implicitly that of enactment: poetry proper (which may include some works in prose) does not describe, narrate or offer argument, but dramatises and embodies human speech and action.”

[ back ] 126. In the case of Lysias 6.51, mīmeisthai refers to the misuse rather than proper use of a priestly costume by Andocides; still, as Halliwell, p. 113, points out, Andocides is “acting out the part of a priest in full.”

[ back ] 127. Cf. Halliwell, p. 114, on the nuances of mimesis in Aristophanes Women at the Thesmophoria: “Aristophanes’ parody involves, and deliberately confuses, both an ordinary usage of mimesis terms (for impersonation) and a newly developing application of the language of mimesis to the fictional status of dramatic poetry.”

[ back ] 128. Further discussion of this passage at Ch. 13§11–13. Cf. the discussion of Royce 1977.73, including this interesting quotation from Boas 1944.14–15 concerning the dance traditions of the Kwakiutl: “In the Cannibal Dance, the women’s War Dance, and some others, there is a fixed fundamental gesture like a basso ostinato that is broken at intervals by special gestures of pantomimic character which is descriptive of the text of the song.”

[ back ] 129. For the perspective of a social anthropologist on the reenactment of myth in ritual: Leach 1982.5–6.

[ back ] 130. I single out the helpful commentary of Barker 1984.40n4, especially with respect to the reading κρεμβαλιαστύν at Hymn to Apollo 162, which he interprets as “the locally grown rhythmic form, since rhythm is what krembala were used to emphasize.” Barker argues that this passage is “advertising the rhythmic and linguistic versatility of the Delian chorus, who might be asked to perform pieces from any of the literary and musical traditions of Ionia and the islands (ibid.). Cf. Burkert 1987.54: “Contrary to what both others and I myself have written [Burkert 1985.110], I am inclined now to take this [= lines 162–165] as indicating mimetic elements in [the] performance of choral lyrics.” Cf. also Bergren 1982.93.

[ back ] 131. Cf. Aeschylus Libation-Bearers 564 and the commentary of Nehamas 1982.56–57. Cf. also Theognis 367–370, as discussed at Ch. 12§70.

[ back ] 132. On which see Sifakis 1986, especially p. 218.

[ back ] 133. Tambiah 1985.123.

[ back ] 134. I cite the description of an all-female ritual, as attested in an Ismaili community south of Mashhad in Eastern Iran, which entails the narration of a story as the central event of a ritual meal (Mills 1982). At crucial moments in the retelling of this story (described as a combination of Aarne-Thompson tale type 480, “The Kind and the Unkind Girls,” and 510A, “Cinderella”), the girl who is the chief participant, to whom the story is primarily addressed, has ritual food spooned into her bowl by the widow who tells the story, to which the girl answers yes at each of these crucial moments (as recorded in Mills, pp. 185–186).

[ back ] 135. Cf., for example, Dale 1968 on recitative anapaestic meters in drama.

[ back ] 136. There are parallels in medieval traditions: poetic genres where melody is absent are characterized by patterns of prosodic elaboration that seem to serve as compensation for the lost melodic component: see Zumthor 1972.99. On the old French distinction between dit and chant, see Zumthor, p. 406.

[ back ] 137. On the use of the trochaic tetrameter catalectic as a medium of dialogue, that is, imitated speech, see Pickard-Cambridge 1968.158–160. This is not to say that this meter could not be sung, danced, or instrumentally accompanied: see Pickard-Cambridge, pp. 156–158.

[ back ] 138. We may recall the primary nature of the opposition SONG and speech, as discussed by Ben-Amos (quoted at Ch. 1§35–38).

[ back ] 139. West 1982.78, following Pickard-Cambridge, p. 159, who cites, for example, Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 887–890, Euripides Herakles 855–874.

[ back ] 140. See Pickard-Cambridge 1968.158–160 (also Comotti 1979.21). It may be misleading to some that West 1982.77 uses recitative to translate parakatalogē. To repeat, I view parakatalogē as an intermediate stage between sung and spoken: the parakatalogē is described as a form of delivery that explicitly contrasts with song in “Aristotle” Problems 19.6. See Ch. 1§18–20.

[ back ] 141. Dale 1968.86 and 208.

[ back ] 142. Dale 1968.25–31. Cf. West 1982.98, 128 (especially n125).

[ back ] 143. As in Euripides Andromache 103–116.

[ back ] 144. In line with this argument it is crucial to note that parakatalogē is incompatible with dance, as Rossi 1978 has argued on the basis of Aristophanes Wasps 1528–1537. To put it more accurately: parakatalogē is compatible only with a special kind of stylized dance, a mimesis of dance (in this sense, a mimesis of a mimesis), not with dance itself. That is to say, parakatalogē is one stage removed from dance, just as it is one stage removed from singing. Dance becomes reduced, just as melody, in a format of reduced song. Moreover, it may well be that the ritual content itself is correspondingly reduced.

[ back ] 145. Full discussion in Ch. 8.

[ back ] 146. We may also adduce the prose of Gorgias (82 DK). For a parallel phenomenon in medieval traditions, where poetic compositions can be subjected to a conscious process of dérimage or “un-rhyming” into prose, see Zumthor 1972.99–100; also Kittay and Godzich 1987. In light of a distinctly juridical function associated with much of early medieval prose, and the fact that the form of an “un-rhymed” composition is perceived as conveying the content of a different level of truth-value from the “rhymed” (Zumthor, p. 98), it is interesting to compare the juridical dimension of early Greek prose authors like Herodotus, as discussed at Ch. 9.

[ back ] 147. On which see Ch. 11§30–32. We find a parallel in the medieval genre of the chantefable, such as Aucassin et Nicolette, with alternating song (the melody of the laisses has been preserved) and prose: see Vance 1986.161–163. I note in particular the following summary: “Prose is unmarked speech ‘at large’, while verse is the marked speech of a social constituency with precise boundaries” (Vance, p. 163). For the Chinese analogue known as chu-kung-tiao, see Chen 1976.

[ back ] 148. For a convenient metrical overview, see the analysis of Snell in the SM edition of Pindaric fragments, pp. 162–174. In only one case, Pindar Olympian 13, is there a coexistence of the two types within one composition (Aeolic modulating into dactylo-epitrite; cf. Bacchylides Epinician 3). For an exceptional case of a Pindaric song composed in neither Aeolic nor in dactylo-epitrite meters, I cite Olympian 2, composed in Ionic meters.

[ back ] 149. Cf. Appendix §1–2 and following.

[ back ] 150. On the concept of colon, see Appendix §1–2. For stikhos in the sense of verse, cf. Aristophanes Frogs 1239. On the concept of a distinction between the monodic and the choral medium, see Ch. 3§3–6.

[ back ] 151. Cf. West 1982.43. It is important, however, not to confuse synartetic with strophic and asynartetic with stichic, in that the category of asynartetic accommodates not only verse but also strophes where the colon is clearly delineated; conversely, the category of synartetic does not accommodate strophes where the colon is clearly delineated. Granted, there are cases where the direction of development is from asynartetic to synartetic (cf. Wilamowitz 1921.421). Still, it hardly follows that the constituents of the strophe are built from the constituents of the verse. As the discussion proceeds, it in fact becomes evident that the direction of development is the reverse: from colon to verse portion, not from verse portion to colon. In any case asynartetic is a category that is roughly half-way between strophic and stichic. Cf. 13§27-30.

[ back ] 152. Reduction of melody: Ch. 1§18–20; reduction of dance: Ch. 1§53–54.

[ back ] 153. Cf. Rossi 1978 on Aristophanes Wasps 1528–1537.

[ back ] 154. On the Alexandrian poetic practice of generalizing units taken from the synartetic framework of strophic song into the stichic units of verse in poetry, see Rossi 1971.86. For later developments in the genres of the nomos and the dithurambos, where the principle of strophic responsion is abandoned, see Gentili 1985.35. As it is pointed out in “Aristotle” Problems 19.15, the abandonment of responsion entails greater freedom for experimentation in both the rhythms and the melodies.

[ back ] 155. The meter in question is glyc@2da, on which see Appendix §3. All of Book II of the canonical Sapphic corpus was composed in this meter: Hephaestion 7.7, p. 23.14–17 Consbruch.

[ back ] 156. For example, glyc@da in Sappho F 94 V, on which see Appendix §3.

[ back ] 157. Cf. West 1973.188: “If there was epic or heroic balladry in (say) 1600 [B.C.], its characteristic verse was most likely the glyconic [= glyc], whose cognates are used in Sanskrit and Slavic epic.” On the Middle High German evidence for melodic traditions of epic sung in strophic form, see Brunner 1970.160.

[ back ] 158. Cf. Appendix §20 and following. For the metrical symbols, see Appendix §2.

[ back ] 159. See Appendix §18 and following.

[ back ] 160. Cf. Rosenmeyer 1968.230. One apparent exception is Pindar Pythian 9.4, 12. Another is Pythian 1.92 (– ⏑ ⏑ – ⏑ ⏑ – ⏑ ⏑ – | ⏑ ⏑ – ⏑ ⏑ | – – ⏑ | – –, on which see Gentili and Giannini 1977.17), where part of the sequence looks like a dactylic hexameter; it is not in fact a hexameter since there is no correspondence with the final word boundaries of hexameter. There is an analogous situation in Pindar Nemean 9: at the beginning of each strophe is a unit – ⏑ ⏑ – ⏑ ⏑ – – – ⏑ ⏑ – ⏑ ⏑ – – matching the hexameter in its initial and final word boundaries but clashing with the primary caesura patterns of hexameter.

[ back ] 161. Cf. Klusen 1969.72–83, cited in an interesting discussion by Rösler 1980.104n176. As a counterweight to the notion of gesunkenes Kulturgut in Klusen’s work, see Bausinger 1980.41–55.

[ back ] 162. Cf. also Satyrus in Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1176 fr. 39 col. xix.

[ back ] 163. On which see Ch. 1§51–53.

[ back ] 164. See, for example, Dale 1968.25–31, especially p. 29, on phraseological and prosodic irregularities in the sung varieties of dactylic hexameter—which are irregularities only from the standpoint of the regularities in the nonsung variety. Cf. West 1982.98, 128 (especially n125). See also Zumthor 1972.99 on a comparable situation in medieval European traditions: “Dans les genres non chantées, le perfectionnement des effets sonores semble une sorte de compensation de la perte de la mélodie.” As for Zumthor’s list (ibid.) of formal features that serve to differentiate poetry from song, I should emphasize that all these formal features are potentially present in song.

[ back ] 165. See N 1979b.614–619.

[ back ] 166. For more on the notion of mode, see Ch. 3§1–2 and following.