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

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10. The Charms of Tyranny: Pindar and Herodotus II

§1. The paradigm of the tyrant in Herodotus is clearly a negative concept, serving as a foil for the moral message of historiā. Yet in the case of the archetypal tyrant figure, Croesus the Lydian, the perspective is not exclusively negative. There are positive sides to the traditional concept of Croesus the Tyrant, and the balancing of his negative and positive sides in the historiā of Herodotus has a striking parallel in the ainos of Pindar and Bacchylides. The parallel treatment of tyranny in ainos and historiā illuminates the comparison of these two forms of discourse.

§2. Let us review the negative side. In the historiā of Herodotus the hubris of Croesus the Lydian is implied even by his being the prototype of the Persians in wronging the Hellenes. Moreover, the luxuriance exhibited by Persians like Artauktes is supposed to be clearly a consequence of the Lydian heritage, and the testimony of Archaic Greek poetry and song leaves no doubt that luxuriance is an aspect of hubris.

§3. But we have also seen that luxuriance does not by itself constitute hubris. True hubris is also marked by savagery, [1] as is clearly evident in the behavior of the Persians. [2] Here we can pause to consider a point in defense of Croesus: at least he is not characterized in the Histories as an exponent of savagery. Croesus and his Lydians are characterized by Herodotus as indeed luxuriant but not necessarily savage. Moreover, Croesus is nowhere in Herodotus described directly as a man of hubris, although the Lydian blames the god Apollo as aitios ‘responsible’ for his own calamities (1.87.3) in a manner {274|275} that is characteristic of someone who has indeed committed deeds of hubris. [3] So too in the poetry of Theognis, men of hubris are apt to blame some god as aitios for the calamities they suffer, and the poet has to point out their error:

πάντα τάδ’ ἐν κοράκεσσι καὶ ἐν φθόρῳ· οὐδέ τις ἥμιν
αἴτιος ἀθανάτων Κύρνε θεῶν μακάρων,
ἀλλ’ ἀνδρῶν τε βίη καὶ κέρδεα δειλὰ καὶ ὕβρις
πολλῶν ἐξ ἀγαθῶν ἐς κακότητ’ ἔβαλεν

Theognis 833–836

§5. But there is yet another reason for the attenuation of any charge of hubris in the case of Croesus. The historiā of Herodotus is following a pattern of indirectness that is strikingly parallel to the pattern found in the ainos, as exemplified by the epinician songs of Pindar and Bacchylides. We see already from the internal evidence of Herodotus’ Histories a motivation for the indirectness in conveying the hubris of Croesus. With his untold wealth, Croesus is not only the most luxuriant of men: he is also the most generous. Specifically he outdoes everyone in his public display of material offerings to Apollo at Delphi (Herodotus 1.50.1–1.53–2); he reminds the god of this generosity when he is about to be incinerated by the flames of a funeral pyre that he had mounted for his public execution by the Persians (1.87.1). Then, as {275|276} Croesus invokes the god, a sudden storm extinguishes the flames, and his captor Cyrus, recognizing that this prisoner is a man agathos ‘noble’ and philos ‘dear’ to the gods, spares his life (1.87.2).

§6. We have arrived at a specific point of thematic contact between the historiā of Herodotus and the ainos of epinician poets like Pindar and Bacchylides. The generosity of Croesus is a traditional theme of epinician song, worthy of direct comparison with the generosity of the given patron who has commissioned the given epinician poem and who is destined to be praised in that poem. In Epinician 3 of Bacchylides, [7] for example, where the tyrant Hieron of Syracuse, the olbios ‘blissful’ son of Deinomenes (3.8), [8] is being praised as winner in the chariot race at the Olympic Games of 468 B.C., a special point is made about praising Hieron as tris-eu-daimōn ‘thrice-fortunate’ (3.10) for knowing how to display his wealth, which is greater than that of any other Hellene (3.10–14). [9] There follows a description of lavish offerings of gold made by Hieron to Apollo at Delphi (3.15–21), [10] concluding with the following thought:

θεὸν θ[εό]ν τις | ἀγλαιζέθω γὰρ ἄριστος ὄλβων

Bacchylides 3.21–22

It is the god, yes, the god that everyone should glorify, for he is the best bliss [olbos] of them all.

The transcendence of the god is being applied to a man’s material wealth, making it transcendent as well: hence my translation of olbos here as ‘bliss’ rather than ‘wealth’. [
11] Immediately following this thought, the conjunction ἐπεί ‘since’ abruptly introduces the story of Croesus as if to validate the thought that olbos is indeed transcendent: Apollo is the very essence of olbos, the poem says, and the reason given is simply that once upon a time Apollo saved Croesus (ἐπεί ποτε καὶ Λυδίας ἀρχαγέταν … φύλαξ’ Ἀπόλλων Bacchylides 3.23–28). [12]

§12. Not only for Croesus but even for the very concept of turannos ‘tyrant’, praise song can stress the positive aspects whenever the song is actually praising a tyrant. In Pindar’s Pythian 3, for example, the poem has this to say to Hieron, Tyrant of Syracuse:

τὶν δὲ μοῖρ’ εὐδαιμονίας ἕπεται. | λαγέταν γάρ τοι τύραννον δέρκεται, | εἴ τιν’ ἀνθρώπων, ὁ μέγας πότμος.

Pindar Pythian 3.84–86

A portion of good fortune [eudaimoniā] is attracted to [= verb hepomai] you. Great destiny looks at the turannos, if at any man, as the leader of the people [lāos].

Yet the very next thought is negative: even heroes like Peleus and Kadmos, who had the ultimate olbos in the immediate sense of ‘material prosperity’ (ὄλβον ὑπέρτατον 3.89), could not achieve an aiōn in the immediate sense of ‘lifetime’ that was asphalēs ‘secure’ (3.86–87). [
28] After a quick glimpse of these heroes’ subsequent misfortunes (3.88–105), there follows another implicit warning of what can happen when olbos, in the sense of ‘material prosperity’, is perverted:

ὀλβος {δ’} οὐκ ἐς μακρὸν ἀνδρῶν ἔρχεται | σάος, πολὺς εὖτ’ ἂν ἐπιβρίσαις ἕπηται

Pindar Pythian 3.105–106

The prosperity [olbos] of humans does not go ahead, safe and sound, for a very long time, when it gets attracted [= verb hepomai] to them, with its full weight [ἐπιβρίσαις].

§15. The positive aspects of turannos, as with the Lydian Croesus, have to do with the material security that allows the tyrant to be a paragon of generosity. But this material security, as we have seen, is at the same time an ambivalent {281|282} conceit, conveyed by words like habros/habrotēs ‘luxuriant’/‘luxuriance’. [35] These words certainly apply to Croesus, who is actually called pod-(h)abros ‘with luxuriant [= adjective habros] footsteps’ by the Oracle of Apollo in the context of the god’s implicitly foretelling the tyrant’s doom (Herodotus 1.55.2). [36] We have already noted some other implicitly negative contexts of habros and its derivatives, [37] but we have yet to examine how these words too, like the themes of Croesus in particular and turannos in general, have an explicitly positive aspect as well. Turning back to Pindar’s Pythian 3, we note the following example in a passage that immediately follows the warning, quoted just now, about the perversion of olbos:

σμικρὸς ἐν σμικροῖς, μέγας ἐν μεγάλοις | ἔσσομαι, τὸν δ’ ἀμφέποντ’ αἰεὶ φρασὶν | δαίμον’ ἀσκήσω κατ’ ἐμὰν θεραπεύων μαχανάν. | εἰ δέ μοι πλοῦτον θεὸς ἁβρὸν ὀρέξαι, | ἐλπίδ’ ἔχω κλέος εὑρέσθαι κεν ὑψηλὸν πρόσω

Pindar Pythian 3.107–111

Here then is yet another variation on a theme that we have already witnessed many times before: the song of the poem is making the admittedly pleasurable material security of the tyrant into a transcendent thing. There follows a quick glance at epic heroes like Nestor and Sarpedon, made famous by song (3.112–114), and then a coda about the transcendence of aretē ‘achievement’ through the efficacy of the poem:

ἁ δ’ ἀρετὰ κλειναῖς ἀοιδαῖς | χρονία τελέθει

Pindar Pythian 3.114–115

And achievement [aretē] becomes enduring through songs of kleos. {282|283}

§16. In epinician song the word habros and its derivatives can in fact be so positive as to characterize the luxuriance that a victor earns and deserves as the fruit of his struggles, either in athletics or in war. It is in such a context that the kūdos ‘emblem of victory’ won by the victor is described as habron ‘luxuriant’:

ὃς δ’ ἀμφ’ ἀέθλοις ἢ πολεμίζων ἄρηται κῦδος ἁβρόν

Pindar Isthmian 1.50

Also, habros applies to the garland of myrtle won by the athlete Kleandros (Pindar Isthmian 8.66). The words of praise spoken about victors who are already dead qualify for the same sort of description:

τιμὰ δὲ γίνεται | ὧν θεὸς ἁβρὸν αὔξει λόγον τεθνακότων

Pindar Nemean 7.31–32

Honor [tīmē] comes into the possession of those about whom the god magnifies the word [logos] of repute, so as to be habros, on the occasion of their death.

As for the living, we have just seen that the luxuriance deserved by the victor is manifested as ploutos, material security, which is likewise described as habros (again Pindar Pythian 3.110) and which is to be followed up by kleos, fame by way of song, in the future (3.111)—even after death, as in the case of heroes (3.112–115). It is specifically the elpis ‘aspiration’ of the victor that he will gain kleos on the basis of ploutos that is habros (3.110–111). Thus the luxuriance conveyed by habros can apply not only to the victor’s ploutos, which is transient, but also to the praise that he gets from song, which is transcendent. In the context of such transcendent luxuriance, elpis ‘aspiration’ makes the victor’s thoughts soar beyond mere ploutos:

ὁ δὲ καλόν τι νέον λαχὼν | ἁβρότατος ἔπι μεγάλας | ἐξ ἐλπίδος πέταται | ὑποπτέροις ἀνορέαις, ἔχων | κρέσσονα πλούτου μέριμναν, ἐν δ’ ὀλίγῳ βροτῶν, | τὸ τερπνὸν αὔξεται· οὕτω δὲ καὶ πίτνει χαμαί, | {283|284} ἀποτρόπῳ γνώμᾳ σεσεισμένον

Pindar Pythian 8.88–94

In other words ploutos ‘wealth’ becomes a transcendent thing when it is enhanced by the luxuriance earned through victory at the Games:

Pindar Olympian 2.53–56

§19. The Lydian connection brings us back to the negative theme: the quality of being habros, for all its attractiveness, has its built-in dangers. We have seen this negative theme in the story of the Colophonians: these men, in the words of Xenophanes, learned habrosunē ‘luxuriance’ from the Lydians (F 3.1–2 W), [53] and the misfortune of the turanniā ‘tyranny’ that befell them was because of this (ibid.). [54] The luxuriance of the Colophonians, as we have also seen, was a manifestation of their hubris, which led to their utter ruin (Theognis 1103–1104), [55] as was also the case with such other formerly great cities as Magnesia and Smyrna (ibid.). [56] Even for Sappho, who declares that she loves (h)abrosunā ‘luxuriance’ (F 58.25–26 V), the attractions of sensuality are not only foreign, as typified by the Lydians, but also dangerous: the Lydian army in full array may be a beautiful thing to behold, but it is also a threat—more overtly so than the lovely footsteps and radiant face of a pretty girl (F 16.17 V). [57] As recently argued, [58] the theme of luxuriance and its dangers must have figured in the lost final stanza of the celebrated ode by Sappho describing her reactions to a girl whose attention is being held by a godlike young man (F 31 V), and this theme is still to be found in the final stanza of the version by Catullus:

otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est,
otio exsultas nimiumque gestis,
otium et reges prius et beatas
perdidit urbes

Catullus 51.13–16

The dangers of luxuriance apply also to that quintessentially sensuous centerpiece of the Sapphic repertoire, the (h)abros Adonis (for the epithet, see again Sappho F 140.1 V). In the ideology of his cult the botanical luxuriance of Adonis leads to his own sterility and even doom. [

§20. Dangerous as it is, however, luxuriance is a thing appreciated and celebrated by the transcending medium of song—even if the luxuriance makes a man’s thoughts turn to tyranny. This theme is evident in Encomium 20B (SM) of Bacchylides, where the voice of the poet declares that no mortal has ever had access to complete olbos ‘bliss’ in his lifetime (20B.23–24). [62] With this thought in mind, the poet visualizes in the same poem the intoxicated lightheartedness of a symposium at the very moment when the singing and dancing get under way; it is in this setting that the poet’s thoughts can converge on wealth, sensuality, and tyranny:

ὦ βάρβιτε, μηκέτι πάσσαλον φυλάσ[σων] | ἑπτάτονον λ[ι]γυρὰν κάππαυε γᾶρυν· | δεῦρ’ ἐς ἐμὰς χέρας· ὁρμαίνω τι πέμπ[ειν] | χρύσεον Μουσᾶν Ἀλεξάνδρῳ πτερὸν συμποσ[ίαι]σιν ἄγαλμ’ [ἐν] εἰκάδεσ[σιν], | εὖτε νέων ἁ[παλὸν] γλυκεῖ’ ἀνάγκα | σευομενᾶν κυλίκων θάλπησι θυμόν, | Κύπριδός τ’ ἐλπὶς <δι>αιθύσσςῃ φρένας, | ἀμμειγνυμένα Διονυσίοισι δώροις· | ἀνδράσι δ’ ὑψοτάτω πέμπει μερίμνας· | αὐτίκα μὲν πολίων κράδεμνα λύει, | πᾶσι δ’ ἀνθρώποις μοναρχήσειν δοκεῖ. | χρυσῷ δ’ ἐλέφαντί τε μαρμαίρουσιν οἶκοι, | πυροφόροι δὲ κατ’ αἰγλάεντα πόντον | νᾶες ἄγουσιν ἀπ’ Αἰγύπτου μέγιστον | πλοῦτον· ὣς πίνοντος ὁρμαίνει κέαρ.

Bacchylides Encomium 20Β 1–16 SM

Elsewhere too thoughts of sensuality and tyranny converge. Let us consider the following words of Simonides, in light of the well-known verse of Mimnermus in praise of sensuality, quoted immediately thereafter:

τίς γὰρ ἁδονᾶς ἄτερ θνατῶν βίος ποθεινὸς ἢ ποία τυραννίς | τᾶσδ’ ἄτερ οὐδὲ θεῶν ζηλωτὸς αἰών

Simonides PMG 584

τίς δὲ βίος, τί δὲ τερπνὸν ἄτερ χρυσῆς Ἀφροδίτης·

Mimnermus F 1.1 W

What is life, what is pleasurable, without golden Aphrodite?

In the poetry of Archilochus we can detect an analogous theme: luxuriance and sensuality are attributes of not just any tyranny but Lydian tyranny in particular. The poet quotes a speaker as saying:

οὔ μοι τὰ Γύγεω τοῦ πολυχρύσου μέλει,
οὐδ’ εἷλέ πω με ζῆλος, οὐδ’ ἀγαίομαι
θεῶν ἔργα, μεγάλης δ’ οὐκ ἐρέω τυραννίδος·
ἀπόπροθεν γάρ ἐστιν ὀφθαλμῶν ἐμῶν

Archilochus F 19 W

In connection with Gyges, Tyrant of Lydia, Herodotus in fact testifies that Archilochus ‘continued the memory [= root mnē-]’ of a story told about Gyges (ἐπεμνήσθη 1.12.2)—presumably the same story that is narrated with such sensual gusto in the Histories of Herodotus: how Gyges acquired the basileia ‘kingship’ [
68] of Lydia by winning the sexual favors of the Queen of Lydia (1.8.1–1.12.2). [69] This poetic theme, the memory of which is continued by Archilochus and, after him, by Herodotus, is made directly pertinent to the story of Croesus’ misfortunes, which as we have seen is central to the Histories of Herodotus: the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi says that the usurpation committed by Gyges, that is, his political acquisition of the Lydian Empire and his sexual acquisition of the Lydian queen, calls for a tisis ‘retribution’ that will befall the fifth tyrant in the dynasty started by Gyges (1.13.1–2). This fifth tyrant turns out to be Croesus (1.15.1–1.16.1; 1.26.1). [70] For Herodotus, the continuity from Gyges to Croesus is a matter of thematic development, not just genealogy, in that Gyges serves to prefigure Croesus. This earlier Tyrant of Lydia, like Croesus, makes generous offerings to Apollo at Delphi (1.14.1–2); [71] moreover, he too attacks the cities of the Hellenes in Asia Minor—in this case Miletus, Smyrna, and Colophon (1.14.4). [72] Most important of all, the story of Gyges, like that of Croesus, manifests signs of hubris that set the theme for the overall narrative of the Histories. In the story of the tyrant Gyges, the hubris is manifested in an unrestrained sensuality that goes hand in hand with unrestrained political power. To repeat the essence of the tale: Kandaules, the tyrant whose queen and empire Gyges acquired, had a lust so great—ostensibly for the queen—that thinking her to be the most beautiful of all women, he was seized by a compulsion to reveal her naked to his trusted bodyguard, Gyges (1.8.1). Such is the legacy of tyrants, usurped by Gyges. It should come as no surprise then that the word erōs is used in the Histories of Herodotus only in two senses: sexual desire {289|290} and the desire for tyranny. [73] Tyranny, as the daughter of the tyrant Periandros of Corinth observes in the Histories, has many erastai ‘lovers’ (3.53.4). [74]

§21. Having seen that epinician song has the capacity both to appreciate the sensuality of the wealth inherent in victory and to warn against its perversion, we should not be surprised that, in the one attested Pindaric instance where the song explicitly warns against tyranny, it does so while all along promoting the ideals of moderation in a language that clearly espouses sensuality:

Pindar Pythian 11.50–58

I may add in passing that this same poem of Pindar makes a fleeting mention of Troy, in the context of its ultimate doom, with words that convey the sensuality of both the city and the woman on whose account it was destroyed:

ἐπεὶ ἀμφ’ Ἑλένᾳ πυρωθέντας | Τρώων ἔλυσε δόμους ἁβρότατος

Pindar Pythian 11.33–34

Figures of myth, such as Helen of Troy, provide unambiguously negative paradigms for warning against the perversion of olbos ‘bliss’. Let us take the specific example of Ixion:

ἔμαθε δὲ σαφές, εὐμενέσσι γὰρ παρὰ Κρονίδαις | γλυκὺν ἑλὼν βίοτον, μακρὸν οὐχ ὑπέμεινεν ὄλβον, μαινομέναις φρασὶν | Ἥρας ὅτ᾽ ἐράσσατο, τὰν Διὸς εὐναὶ λάχον | πολυγαθέες· ἀλλά νιν ὕβρις εἰς ἀυάταν ὑπεράφανον | ὦρσεν· τάχα δὲ παθὼν ἐοικότ’ ἀνὴρ | ἐξαίρετον ἕλε μόχθον

Pindar Pythian 2.25–29

He [= Ixion] learned his lesson, and a clear one it was. For, receiving a life of pleasure from the kindly disposed children of Kronos [= Zeus and his siblings], he did not, in his crazed mind, await expectantly his great bliss [olbos], as he conceived a lustful passion for Hera, whose bed of delights was for Zeus alone to share. But outrage [hubris] propelled him into conspicuous derangement [atē]. The man quickly got his just deserts, suffering exceptional distress.

In this case man’s perversion of olbos is manifested in sensual extravagance, the violation of sexual norms. For an analogous case of crime and punishment, we may compare the example of Tantalos:

εἰ δὲ δή τιν’ ἄνδρα θνατὸν Ὀλύμπου σκοποὶ | ἐτίμασαν, ἦν Τάνταλος οὗτος· ἀλλὰ γὰρ καταπέψαι | μέγαν ὄλβον οὐκ ἐδυνάσθη, κόρῳ δ’ ἕλεν | ἄταν ὑπέροπλον, ἅν τοι πατὴρ ὕπερ | κρέμασε καρτερὸν αὐτῳ λίθον, | τὸν αἰεὶ μενοινῶν κεφαλᾶς βαλεῖν εὐφροσύνας ἀλᾶται. | ἔχει δ’ ἀπάλαμον βίον τοῦτον ἐμπεδόμοχθον

Pindar Olympian 1.54–59

Having given the general reason for the punishment of Tantalos, his failure ‘to digest his great bliss [olbos]’, the poem proceeds to give the specific reasons: Tantalos stole and distributed to the other members of his symposium the nectar and ambrosia that the gods had given to him alone (Pindar Olympian 1.60–64). Earlier the poem had entertained and then denied another possible version, according to which Tantalos had given the unsuspecting gods the flesh of his own son, Pelops, to eat (47–53). The expression καταπέψαι μέγαν ὄλβον οὐκ ἐδυνάσθη ‘he was not able to digest his great olbos’ (55) covers both versions in that the perversion of olbos by Tantalos entails in either case a violation of dietary norms, [
81] just as the perversion of olbos by Ixion entails a violation of sexual norms (again Pythian 2.26–29). [82]

§22. The story of Tantalos, attested already in such early traditions as the Cycle (e.g., Nostoi F 10 Allen in Athenaeus 281b), is especially important for this entire presentation because it helps us understand how the story of Croesus, as applied both in epinician song and in the Histories of Herodotus, is closer to home than we may at first have imagined. The initial impression of Croesus the Lydian as the quintessential foreigner, an oriental potentate who is supposedly the antithesis of what it means to be a Hellene, comes into question as we begin to consider in more detail the myth of Tantalos, the earliest Lydian of them all. Son of the god Zeus himself and of a mortal woman called Ploutō, wealth incarnate (Pausanias 2.22.3), [83] Tantalos ruled over a land rich in gold, stretching from Lydia to Phrygia and the Troad (Aeschylus Niobe TGF 158, 162, 163). The Lydian dynasty of Tantalos was short-lived, however: his son, Pelops, was deposed and driven out by ‘Ilos the Phrygian’ (Pausanias 2.22.3). This Ilos, son of Tros and brother of Ganymede, had gone to Phrygia and founded Ilion—that is, Troy—at a spot known as the Hill of Atē (Apollodorus 3.12.2–3); [84] he is the same Ilos reported to be {292|293} worshipped by the Trojans as their cult hero in the Iliad (e.g., X 415). [85] As for Pelops, Herodotus has the Persian king Xerxes referring to him as a mere vassal of the mighty empire inherited by the Persians, and Xerxes even calls him ‘Pelops the Phrygian’ (Πέλοπος τοῦ Φρυγός Herodotus 7.8γ.1, Πέλοψ ὁ Φρύξ 7.11.4). From the Persian point of view, then, Pelops is an antecedent of such figures as Midas the Phrygian (named, for example, in Herodotus 1.14.2)—not to mention Croesus the Lydian.

§23. But Xerxes also takes note that this same Pelops, this ‘slave’ of the predecessors of Xerxes (δοῦλος Herodotus 7.11.4), had conquered the Peloponnesus, which was named after him (again 7.11.4). Moreover, the Persian king’s arrogant appropriation of Pelops and hence of the Peloponnesus is actually based on a Hellenic myth to the effect that Pelops was indeed a Lydian (Λυδοῦ Πέλοπος, Pindar Olympian 1.24, Λυδὸς ἥρως Πέλοψ, Olympian 9.9), who was ousted from his homeland and emigrated to the Peloponnesus (in Pindar’s words the Peloponnesus is the apoikiā ‘colony’ of Pelops: Olympian 1.24). [86] This myth, from the vantage point of the Histories of Herodotus, is particularly suited to Sparta, the Hellenic city-state that came to dominate the Peloponnesus and was the foremost of all Hellenic states on the Mainland to establish an alliance with Lydia. As Herodotus observes, most of the Peloponnesus was under the domination of Sparta at the time when Croesus sought the alliance of this city-state (ἤδη δέ σφι καὶ ἡ πολλὴ τῆς Πελοποννήσου ἦν κατεστραμμένη 1.68.6), and in fact the narrative of Herodotus attributes the alliance to the premise, accepted by Croesus, that Sparta was decidedly the foremost city of all Hellas (1.69.2 and 1.70.1). [87] Whether or not we may view this premise as a historical fact, it is certainly presented as such in the Histories of Herodotus. [88] In any case, it is indeed a {293|294} historical given that the Lydian connection was formalized politically in the alliance between Sparta and Lydia (as also in earlier contacts: Herodotus 1.69.3–4). Moreover, the same Lydian connection was formalized ideologically in the myth about the colonization of the Peloponnesus by Pelops the Lydian.

§25. From the standpoint of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, the tomb of Tantalos is on Mount Sipylos, overlooking the city of Smyrna (Pausanias 2.22.3; cf. 5.13.7, 7.24.13, 8.17.3). [90] Already in the Iliad, the realm of Tantalos is visualized in the environs of Mount Sipylos, as we see from the details of the reference to his daughter Niobe (XXIV 615). [91] Yet other evidence suggests that these figures of Tantalos and his family were originally native to the Peloponnesus; one version, for example, locates his place of origin as Argos (Hyginus Fables 124). [92] There was a tradition native to the city of Argos, a tradition reported but not accepted by Pausanias, to the effect that the bones {294|295} of Tantalos were actually kept in Argos (2.22.2). [93] The Argives had another tradition, again reported but not accepted by Pausanias, that not all the children of Niobe died at the hands of Apollo and Artemis: two of them, Chloris and Amyklas, had been saved by Leto, and the statue of Chloris was housed in the sanctuary of Leto at Argos (2.21.9–10). [94] It seems that from the Argive point of view Tantalos and his family never left the Peloponnesus. [95] Since the location of a hero’s bones was the ultimate test of his authentic affinities to any given place, [96] this native Argive tradition, in claiming the bones of Tantalos, father of Pelops, was in effect asserting the right of Argos to dominion over the Peloponnesus. Thus the Spartan adoption of an alternative tradition, appropriate to the Hellenic colonizations of Asia Minor, serves a dual purpose. First, the localization of Tantalos and his tomb at Sipylos, a region associated with the Lydian Empire, would negate any direct Argive claim to dominion over the Peloponnesus, which would have been based on the notion that Tantalos as father of Pelops is the symbolic progenitor of political power, of dynasty itself, in the Peloponnesus. Second, such a localization serves the interests of Sparta, the rival of Argos, in drawing attention to the alliance of the Lydian Empire with Sparta. [97]

§26. The fact remains, however, that Lydia is a foreign concept to all Hellenes, and that the founder of the Peloponnesus, Pelops, is also conceived as foreign. This aspect of the myth of Pelops, that he is a foreigner, serves to illustrate an important lesson of myth: it is the paradox that whatever is alien is also native. The message of such a paradox is at the same time reassuring and disquieting. Let us consider the positive aspect first. It is surely reassuring to think that whatever is threatening, alien, can really be understood as familiar, native. To be ethnocentric is to explain, rationalize, and motivate the alien or the Other in terms of the native or the Self, and the ethnocentrism {295|296} of the Hellenes is no exception to this general anthropological pattern. [98] When Hellenes come into contact with cultures that appear more prestigious by reason of greater antiquity or greater achievement, a typical response of their Hellenocentrism is to establish links with such cultures genealogically. [99] Thus the city-state of Argos, for example, claims as its founder an “Egyptian” named Danaos, twin brother of Aiguptos, who emigrated from Egypt on the first ship ever built (Apollodorus 2.1.4; Hesiod F 129 MW; cf. Aeschylus Suppliants 318 and following; also Herodotus 2.91.5). [100] Also, the city-state of Thebes claims as its founder a “Phoenician” named Kadmos, brother of Phoinix and of Europa (Apollodorus 3.1.1; cf. Herodotus 2.49.3, 5.57.1). [101] In both these cases the prestige of civilizations that are considered by the Hellenes to be older and superior is being appropriated by city-states in rivalry with each other for the sake of their own self-advancement and self-reassurance. In these particular cases the myths of Argos and Thebes can be contrasted with the claim of Athens that its population is so ancient as to be autochthonous (e.g., Euripides Ion 20–21, 29–30; Plato Menexenus 245d; cf. Herodotus 1.56.3). [102] We may compare the claim, compatible with Sparta, that Pelops, founder of the Peloponnesus, migrated there from Lydia (e.g., Pindar Olympian 1.24) [103] or from Phrygia (Herodotus 7.8γ.1, 7.11.4). [104] So much for the positive side of the equation “alien is native.” On the negative side, however, this equation raises anxieties about whatever is native, familiar, just as it lowers them about whatever is alien. The threats that come from without can, according to this equation, really come from within.

§27. The negative lesson inherent in the equation “alien is native” is illustrated by the Dionysus myth, as dramatized in the Bacchae of Euripides. [105] In this myth the newcomer Dionysus is perceived by the Hellenic citizens of Thebes as if he were the ultimate foreigner, and yet he turns out to be a native son: he is on his mother’s side a grandson of Kadmos, founder of {296|297} Thebes. As the myth of Dionysus evolves through the ages, it keeps attracting features that characterize what is perceived as foreign to each passing age of Hellenism; what remains a constant is simply the foreignness of the figure, and it is this foreignness that is paradoxically native to him. Moreover, it is an old theme that he is always new: the structure keeps asserting that it is very new, when it is in reality very old. When the foreign is negative, it is perceived as very new; when the foreign is positive, it is recognized as very old. Since the myth of Dionysus keeps stressing the god’s newness, experts in the history of Greek religion were used to thinking of him as a new import—until the name of Dionysus was discovered on a Linear B tablet dating back to the second millennium. [106] The delusions about the god go all the way back to Pentheus himself, a grandson of Kadmos on his father’s side: this hero commits the ultimate mistake in not recognizing a fundamental message of the myth, that whatever he thought was alien to himself was really part of himself. [107] Dionysus seems to be new, not old, but he is in fact both old and new from the standpoint of the myth; similarly he seems to be alien, not native, but he is in fact both native and alien from the standpoint of the myth.

§29. Another example of the negative lesson inherent in the equation “alien is native” is to be found in the myth of Adonis. The name itself, a Semitic borrowing, [110] has encouraged historians of Greek religion to think of the entire myth of Adonis as a borrowing—a transformation of the myths of the Phoenician Eshmun, the Syrian Tammuz, and the Sumerian Dumuzi. [111] Yet the myths of these related figures do not correspond closely to the Greek myth of Adonis, and Marcel Detienne has made a good case for the proposition that the structure of the Greek story is in fact autonomous. [112] It is simply that the story requires for its central character a figure who counts as an outsider. Thus the role of the outsider, a role that is really inside the tradition, attracts genuinely foreign features to reinforce itself. It even absorbs a {297|298} foreign name to highlight its “foreign” identity. [113] I cite the formulation of Detienne in his attempt to grasp the essence of Adonis: [114]

His quality of being oriental is linked to the way in which the Greeks represented the Orient—an Orient so close and yet so far away. Here was a world where the refinements of civilization and the enjoyment of the most dissolute pleasures promoted a style of life characterized by softness and sensuality. To take on the role of seducer and effeminate lover, to bring to life the persona of a young boy whom the search for pleasure ultimately condemned to a premature old age, what was needed was a daimōn whose traits were vague enough to get lost in this image of the Orient which the Greeks had made for themselves. Besides, only a foreign daimōn could represent the Other so overtly within the Greek system of thought. Only an oriental force-field could assume, to such an extent, a radical negation of the values represented by Demeter on both the religious and the political levels.

§30. Let us sum up then the impact of the message “alien is native” in the myth of Pelops. A threatening connection with Lydians, with the Other, is really not so threatening at all for Sparta, since the first Lydian sired Pelops, founder of the homeland, who in turn was paternal grandfather of Menelaos, local hero of Sparta. On the other hand the threat itself is not neutralized: the converse of “alien is native” is that the reassurance to be found in things native can lead to self-deception since the threats associated with things foreign, such as luxuriance, can in fact come from within.

§31. This two-way Spartan view of Lydia extends to other aspects of their institutions. A prominent example can be found in the traditions of singing and dancing at Sparta, as represented by the poet Alcman. The compositions attributed to such a figure are integral to the ritual complex of Spartan festivals. [115] The tradition specifies, in the case of Alcman, that this poet’s provenience is Lydia (PMG 13a; also PMG 1 Scholion B; Velleius Paterculus 1.18.2; Aelian Varia Historia 12.50), and this detail can be correlated with the fact that there were Spartan rituals that centered on Lydian themes, such as the event known as τῶν Λυδῶν πομπή ‘Procession of the Lydians’ in connection with the cult of Artemis Orthia (Plutarch Life of Aristides 17.10). We may compare an event known as the ‘Dance of the Lydian Maidens’ at a festival of Artemis at Ephesus (Autocrates F 1 Kock, KA, by way of Aelian De natura animalium 12.9; Aristophanes Clouds 599–600). [116] In this case, it {298|299} seems clear that the term ‘Lydian Maidens’ designates a ritual role played by the local girls of Ephesus. [117] To return to the subject of Alcman: the pattern “alien is native” operates not only in terms of the official Spartan characterization of Alcman as a Lydian but also within his songs: luxuriance, for example, is represented by the songs of Alcman as a characteristically Lydian thing. [118] Indeed the songs themselves are well known for their characteristic luxuriance. We may apply here what we already know from other attestations that we have just surveyed: the luxuriance typified by the Lydians is an implicit threat from within, not just an explicit threat from without.

§32. Which leads us to a question: was the theme of affinity between Hellenes and Lydians initiated by the Hellenes of Asia Minor as an ideological justification of their Lydian contacts or by the Lydians to legitimize their eventual hegemony over the Hellenes of Asia Minor and their alliance with other Hellenes, especially the Spartans? The answer cuts both ways.

§33. To begin, let us take one more look at the story of Herodotus about Croesus the Lydian: we have already noted that this foreigner is in fact part of a Hellenic story pattern, bearing an implicit message of admonition for all Hellenes. We have also noted that for the Hellenic audience of Herodotus the affinities of Pelops the Founder with the Lydians make Croesus a figure as familiar as he is foreign.

§34. In the Histories of Herodotus, however, we can see the pattern of familiarity extended even further to include the Persians themselves. To understand how this is done, let us consider the genealogical background. Tradition has it that the dynasty of Pelops was preceded by the dynasty of Perseus, father of Alkaios, grandfather of Amphitryon, and thus nominally great-grandfather of Herakles (e.g., Apollodorus 2.4.5). Since Alkaios had married a daughter of Pelops (Hesiod F 190.6-8 MW), this genealogy has Herakles as great-grandson of both Perseus and Pelops. Perseus was also father of Sthenelos, grandfather of Eurystheus (F 190.11–12); [119] the dynasty of Perseus ended with this Eurystheus, the infamous figure who stood in the way of any eventual kingship for Herakles (Iliad XIX 95–133). [120] After Eurystheus, the dynasty of Perseus is replaced by the dynasty of Pelops, father of Atreus and Thyestes, grandfather of Agamemnon and Menelaos. In the actual sequence of ruling kings, the rule of Eurystheus is followed by that of Atreus and Thyestes (e.g., Apollodorus Epitome 2.11). [121] The dynasty of Pelops is in {299|300} turn replaced by the Hērakleidai ‘sons of Herakles’, who represent the ancestors of the Dorian dynasties who took over the major political centers of the Peloponnesus in the Dark Age (Tyrtaeus 2.12–15W; Pindar Pythian 1.61–66, 5.69–72; Isthmian 9.1–3; cf. Herodotus 9.26, 27.1–2). The two most prominent Herakleidai, great-grandsons of Hyllos, the son of Herakles who killed Eurystheus (e.g., Apollodorus 2.8.1), are Temenos, founder of the royal dynasty of Argos (Theopompus FGH 115 F 393), and Aristodemos, whose two sons Eurysthenes and Prokles are co-founders of the dual royal dynasty of Sparta (Herodotus 6.52.1, Pausanias 2.18.7). [122] Eurysthenes is the forefather of the royal line of the Agiadai (Herodotus 4.147, 6.52, 7.204; Pausanias 3.1.7), while his twin Prokles is the forefather of the royal line of the Eurypontidai (Herodotus 6.52.1, 8.131.2). Thus in the case of Sparta a historical figure like King Leonidas can trace his genealogy all the way back to Herakles: he is thirteen generations removed from Agis, son of Eurysthenes, son of Aristodemos, great-grandson of Hyllos, son of Herakles (Herodotus 7.204). Likewise in the case of Argos, the dynasty of the Hērakleidai was still a concept to be reckoned with in the early fifth century, at the time of the Persian War, as we see from an explicit comparison in Herodotus 7.149.2 of the two kings of Sparta with the one king of Argos. [123] From the standpoint of either Sparta or Argos, then, the Hērakleidai or “Sons of Herakles” represent a reestablishment of the dynasty of Perseus. In other words both Sparta and Argos have legitimate genealogical claims to dominion over the Peloponnesus by way of their respective dynasties in that both cities can trace their kings back to Hyllos, son of Herakles and descendant of the House of Perseus.

§35. With this genealogical background we come finally to the myth of a Persian affinity with Hellenes. In seeking the cooperation of the city-state of Argos, the Persian king Xerxes sends the Argives a messenger promising to treat them as superior to all others and claiming as the basis of the Persians’ {300|301} offered friendship the common ancestry of Argives and Persians: they both can trace themselves all the way back to Perseus, he claims, in that Perseus had yet another son, named Perses, who was ancestor of all Persians (Herodotus 7.150.1–2 in conjunction with 7.61.3). The Persians could have said the same thing to the Spartans in that Sparta, just like Argos, preserved a dynasty of Hērakleidai, but the enmity of Persia and Sparta was at this point already set, even serving as the actual premise for the Persian overture to Argos.

§37. It would be simplistic to suppose that such a genealogy was invented in a vacuum. Instead it would make more sense to infer that the Lydians were in this case drawing upon the ethnocentric thought patterns of their Hellenic neighbors. This is not to say that the Lydians could not or did not effect changes, even radical ones, in contemporary Greek thought patterns. In that myth making is a social phenomenon, the domination of a given society by, say, Lydian dynasts can be expected to have an effect on the myths of that society. The process of reshaping myths must take place in terms of the myths themselves.

§38. To pursue the argument that the Lydian dynasts, by way of calling themselves Hērakleidai, were drawing upon the ethnocentric thought patterns of their Hellenic neighbors, let us consider a myth ascribed by Herodotus to the Greeks who settled the regions of the Pontos (Ἑλλήνων … οἱ τὸν Πόντον οἰκέοντες 4.8.1): according to this myth the barbarian natives of these regions, the Scythians, can be traced back genealogically to the sexual union of Herakles himself with a half-woman, half-snake (4.8–10). No doubt this myth contains native Scythian elements, [125] but it has been appropriated and reshaped by and for Hellenes. It need not matter whether or not we know which side initiated the appropriation, the Hellenes or the Scythians. After all, myth is a matter of communication, and it is more important to recognize that we are dealing with a dialogue between two distinct societies than to {301|302} ascertain which society initiated the dialogue. Moreover, if a given myth serves as dialogue between two distinct societies, it can speak to both even when it is expressed from the standpoint of one. For a Scythian to accept the Hellenic standpoint of the myth under consideration is the same thing as accepting—or offering—a token of some level of relationship with Hellenes. In this case we cannot be specific about the nature of the relationship. In the case of the Lydians, however, the situation is more clear. The Lydians, in asserting their hegemony over neighboring Hellenes, adopt a Hellenocentric viewpoint to establish this relationship. The earlier dynasty of Lydia does this by claiming descent from Herakles, thus appropriating a prestige that is commensurate with that of dynasties of the Peloponnesus that are direct heirs to the heroic age of Hellas. As for the Lydian dynasty after the Hērakleidai, starting with Gyges and ending with Croesus, it seems to have taken an ethnocentric stance in its own right by claiming as the very first king of Lydia the figure of Tantalos, who is seemingly native to Argos. [126] This appropriation of Tantalos as a Lydian serves the purposes of the Lydians in that Tantalos is the father of Pelops, revered by Hellenes as founder of the Olympics and as an emblem of the political power implicit in the concept of the Peloponnesus, the “Island of Pelops.” This appropriation also serves the purposes of the Spartans in their rivalry with Argos, if indeed the Argives considered Tantalos their own native son. [127] Thus the Lydian version of the Tantalos myth affords a dialogue, so to speak, between Lydia and Sparta at the ideological and political expense of Argos.

§42. Yet since the principle “alien is native” is so ingrained in the traditions of the Greek city-states, the voice of historiā has much to teach the Hellenes by way of a grand juxtaposition of the foreign with the native in the narrative of Herodotus. Whenever Greeks and barbarians interact in the overall conflict recorded by the Histories, the barbarian point of view becomes an intellectual exercise in Hellenic introspection through the overarching perspective of historiā.

§43. This intellectual exercise can perhaps be seen most clearly in the so-called Debate of the Constitutions (Herodotus 3.80–87), where the leaders of the Persian Empire are represented as debating the relative merits of three possible forms of government: democracy, oligarchy, and ‘monarchy’ (3.82.3). [135] While this debate is, of course, an absurdity from the standpoint of our own notions of history—and Herodotus is defensive about the lack of verisimilitude in this part of his narrative—it nevertheless serves as an ideal focus for the entire narrative from the standpoint of historiā. These three forms of government correspond to the three protagonists of the Histories: the democracy of Athens, the oligarchy of Sparta, and the ‘monarchy’ of Persia. At first blush the ‘monarchy’ of Persia seems an institution foreign to the Greeks, but the word monarkhos ‘monarch’ is ostentatiously equated in the Debate passage with turannos ‘tyrant’ (Herodotus 3.80.2/4)—the same word that the Histories of Herodotus and all Archaic Greek poetry and song consistently associate with both the attractions and the pitfalls of the wealth and the power that goes with tyranny. The pitfalls, moreover, as manifested in hubris, are not confined to tyranny. As the Debate passage makes clear, hubris proves to be the negative trait of men in a democracy as well (Herodotus 3.81.1–2); as for an oligarchy, the three symptoms of its shift toward ‘monarchy’ in the Debate passage (3.82.2) correspond to the three symptoms of hubris that lead from aristocracy to tyranny in the poetic traditions that warn against tyranny (Theognis 51–52; hubris at 40, 44). [136] The Persian king-to-be argues not only that oligarchies evolve into ‘monarchy’ (again Herodotus 3.82.3); so do democracies (3.82.4). Such patterns are supposed to prove the supremacy of tyranny (3.82.4–5). Thus the threat of tyranny is {304|305} in fact posed not just from without, by the Great King of the Persians, but also from within, by the wrongdoings of the Hellenes themselves.

§46. Which brings to mind a suggestion: perhaps the implicit intention of the historiā of Herodotus is to “arbitrate” the ongoing conflict between the democracy of Athens and the oligarchy of Sparta—corresponding to the explicit intention of “arbitrating” the past conflict between tyrannical and anti-tyrannical ways of life. [139] In support of this suggestion, we may look to the traditions about the life of Herodotus: he is said to have settled, died, and been buried in Thourioi (Stephanus of Byzantium s.v. Θούριοι), [140] a city {305|306} founded ostensibly as a Panhellenic venture, with the involvement of both Athens and Sparta (Diodorus 12.10–11). [141] The city of Thourioi, founded in 444/3 B.C., [142] was built at a site where once stood the city of Sybaris, that ultimate symbol of luxuriance and the hubris that goes with it. [143] The setting of Thourioi as a reborn and reformed Sybaris would have been an ideal context for a reaffirmation of the values that bind Hellenes together in an ultimate conflict against hubris. The historiā of Herodotus would have been an apt realization of such a Panhellenic goal. While I do not insist that the city of Thourioi was the actual setting for the composition of the Histories of Herodotus, I at least reaffirm the possibility. [144] Moreover, the stasis ‘conflict’ between Ionians and Dorians that reportedly developed in the city of Thourioi in the year 434/3, ten years after its foundation (Diodorus 12.35.2), [145] may well have appeared to Herodotus as a smaller-scale prefiguration of the larger-scale misfortune of the Peloponnesian War itself. [146]

§47. It seems clear in any case that Herodotus thought of the Peloponnesian War as a misfortune for all Hellenes. In commenting on the earthquake that shook Delos in 490 B.C., Herodotus has this to say:

καὶ τοῦτο μέν κου τέρας ἀνθρώποισι τῶν μελλόντων ἔσεσθαι κακῶν ἔφηνε ὁ θεός. ἐπὶ γὰρ Δαρείου τοῦ Ὑστάσπεος καὶ Ξέρξεω τοῦ Δαρείου καὶ Ἀρτοξέρξεω τοῦ Ξέρξεω, τριῶν τουτέων ἐπεξῆς γενεέων, ἐγένετο πλέω κακὰ τῇ Ἑλλάδι ἢ ἐπὶ εἴκοσι ἄλλας γενεὰς τὰς πρὸ Δαρείου γενομένας, τὰ μὲν ἀπὸ τῶν Περσέων αὐτῇ γενόμενα, τὰ δὲ ἀπ’ αὐτῶν τῶν κορυφαίων περὶ τῆς ἀρχῆς πολεμεόντων.

Herodotus 6.98.2

Mention of the rule of Artaxerxes indicates that the era before and during the {306|307} Peloponnesian War is meant as one chronological extreme; as for the other extreme, “twenty generations before the accession of Darius, at Herodotus’ normal equivalence of three generations to the century, is 1189 B.C., the period of the Trojan War.” [
148] Thus the historiā of Herodotus associates its narrative, extending into the Peloponnesian War, with an epic theme, “the beginning of misfortunes,” [149] from the vantage point of the Trojan War.

§49. At an earlier time, as Herodotus observes in the same context, the Athenians had renounced sole hegemony, thereby avoiding stasis emphūlos ‘intrasocietal conflict’ that would have destroyed Hellas (8.3.2). The word em-phūl-os, which I translate here as ‘intrasocietal’, is clearly being used by Herodotus in the sense of ‘Hellene against Hellene’. We find in a poem of {307|308} Theognis a parallel use of the word stasis ‘conflict’ in a Panhellenic sense: contemplating the Persian threat to his city (Theognis 773–779, 781–782), the poet declares that he fears the heedlessness and stasis of the Hellenes (781)—a stasis that destroys the lāos ‘people’ (ἦ γὰρ ἔγωγε δέδοικ’ ἀφραδίην ἐσορῶν | καὶ στάσιν Ἑλλήνων λαοφθόρον 780–781). As in Herodotus, the external threat is represented here as meshing with the internal one. In another poem of Theognis is a parallel use of the word em-phūl-os ‘intrasocietal’, this time in the specific sense of ‘citizen against citizen’: in declaring his fear that a tyrant is about to emerge in his city, the voice of the poet blames the situation on the hubris of the city’s leaders (39–50, ὕβρις/ὑβρίζειν at 40/44), the three symptoms of which are stasis [plural] ‘conflict’, emphūloi phonoi andrōn ‘intrasocietal killings of men’, [152] and monarkhoi ‘monarchs’ (51–51). [153] The same three misfortunes figure in the Debate of the Constitutions, where the Persian king Darius describes an oligarchy as a situation where everyone vies to be the koruphaios ‘leading figure’ and where this rivalry results in stasis [plural] ‘conflicts’, the stasis results in phonos ‘killing’, and the phonos results in monarkhiā ‘monarchy’—which Darius himself equates with ‘tyranny’. [154] The same word koruphaios ‘leading figure’ was used by Herodotus in describing the Athenians and the Spartans ‘as they fought each other for supremacy’. [155]

§50. When the Athenians had at first renounced sole hegemony of the Hellenic states allied against Persia, Herodotus says, they avoided stasis emphūlos ‘intrasocietal conflict’ that would have destroyed all Hellas (8.3.2). Herodotus is at least implying, then, that the Athenians then caused precisely such a disaster by seizing sole hegemony later, with the emergence of the Athenian Empire. In this light the final action of the Histories, an implicitly barbaric deed committed by the father of Pericles in the context of an Athenian initiative taken without the acquiescence of the Peloponnesian allies, signals for the Athenians the threat of hubris from within, not from without. In this light even the initial guilty act of the Histories, the aggression of the Lydian “tyrant” Croesus against Hellenic cities, figures as an implicit warning to the Athenians. What made the aggression of Croesus distinct from that of his barbarian predecessors, as Herodotus makes clear, is that he was the first barbarian to reduce Hellenic cities to the status of tributaries: {308|309}

οὗτος ὁ Κροῖσος βαρβάρων πρῶτος τῶν ἡμεῖς ἴδμεν τοὺς μὲν κατεστρέψατο Ἑλλήνων ἐς φόρου ἀπαγωγήν …

Herodotus 1.6.2

Reducing Hellenic cities to the status of tributaries is also what the Athenians themselves did in the context of the Athenian Empire. To be a tributary, for Herodotus, is to be no longer eleutheros ‘free’, as we see from what he adds pointedly after his observation that Croesus the turannos ‘tyrant’ (1.6.1) was the first barbarian to make tributaries out of Hellenic cities:

πρὸ δὲ τῆς Κροίσου ἀρχῆς πάντες Ἕλληνες ἦσαν ἐλεύθεροι

Herodotus 1.6.3

The theme of Croesus the Tyrant is formulated in the mode of an ainos, which applies to Athens with its Athenian Empire, the heir to the Persian Empire, in turn the heir to the Lydian Empire. That the Athenian Empire is a turannis ‘tyranny’ is acknowledged by none other than the figure of Pericles of Athens in his last oration (Thucydides 2.63.2). [

§51. All this is not to say that Herodotus in his historiā took sides against the Athenians. He takes pains to give credit where credit is due, even allowing that Hellas would never have remained eleutherā ‘free’ without the initiative of Athens (7.139.5 in the context of 7.139.2–6). He goes so far as to say that the Athenians became sōtēres ‘saviors’ of Hellas by successfully resisting the Great King of Persia (7.139.5). [159] This judgment of Herodotus, however, that Athenians are sōtēres ‘saviors’ of Hellas, [160] is expressed against the backdrop of the Athenian Empire, which had obviously made the Athenians unpopular among the Hellenes: {309|310}

ἐνθαῦτα ἀναγκαίῃ ἐξέργομαι γνώμην ἀποδέξασθαι ἐπίφθονον μὲν πρὸς τῶν πλεόνων ἀνθρώπων, ὅμως δέ, τῇ γέ μοι φαίνεται εἶναι ἀληθές, οὐκ ἐπισχήσω

Herodotus 7.139.1

And here I am constrained by necessity to make public [= make an apodeixis of] an opinion [gnōmē] that is invidious from the standpoint of most men. Still, inasmuch as it seems to me at least to be true [alēthēs], I shall not hold back.

The hesitation of Herodotus is motivated by the ambiguity that is being set up by his historiā: the city that once freed the Greeks from tyranny now threatens to enslave them. The city that became great by overthrowing the tyranny of the Peisistratidai (Herodotus 5.78) stands to lose all by imposing tyranny on other Hellenes. The contrast is made all the more effective in that the continuous narrative of the Histories stops at 479 B.C.—just before the Athenian Empire begins to take shape. [

§53. This kind of reasoning illustrates the affinity of Herodotus’ historiā with the traditions of what we know as natural history, that is, historiā ‘inquiry’ into the phusis ‘nature’ of the universe. [165] Natural history can equate the principles that operate in the realm of human events with those in the realm of natural phenomena, as we see from a celebrated observation of Anaximander about natural change:

ἐξ ὧν δὲ ἡ γένεσίς ἐστι τοῖς οὖσι, καὶ τὴν φθορὰν εἰς ταῦτα γίνεσθαι κατὰ τὸ χρεών· διδόναι γὰρ αὐτὰ δίκην καὶ τίσιν ἀλλήλοις τῆς ἀδικίας κατὰ τὴν τοῦ χρόνου τάξιν

Anaximander 12 Β 1 DK

The underlying assumption in such examples of natural history is that the course of human events follows a cosmic order, with the emergence of dikē ‘justice’ in the due course of time. [
168] The same sort of assumption operates in the Works and Days of Hesiod, where it is also made clear that the cosmic order is an expression of the divine apparatus. [169] The workings of the divine {311|312} apparatus emerge also from the historiā of Herodotus, as we have seen. [170] For Herodotus too, “natural history” and “moral history” overlap: assuming that natural phenomena and the course of human events do indeed follow the same cosmic order, he can make such pronouncements as we see in the case at hand, that lions pay compensation for their savage and predatory nature by way of their limited fertility. Conversely, natural phenomena can be correlated with human events in the grand old tradition that we see in Hesiod when the voice of the poet says that the city of dikē ‘justice’ will be fertile while the city of its opposite, hubris ‘outrage’, will be sterile (Works and Days 225–247). [171] In making such an implicit equation between the course of human events and natural phenomena, Herodotus too is following the thought patterns of the ainos as ‘fable’. We may compare the ainos of the Hawk and the Nightingale in the Works and Days of Hesiod (202–212; ainos at 202), where the predatory nature of the hawk is an exemplum of the ways of hubris as opposed to the ways of dikē. [172] By associating the birth of Pericles with that of the lion cub, Herodotus has exploited the ambiguity of the ainos as a form of discourse: the child Pericles will become either the savior or the predator, the destroyer, of the Hellenic community at large that will raise him.

§54. This is not to say that Pericles is being subjected to blame. The ainos is simply an edifying discourse that bears implicit warnings of potential blame built into it. I see a similar sort of message in the ainos of the lion cub at Aeschylus Agamemnon 717–736. [173] In the symbol of the lion cub who is brought home to a palace and raised as a pet, as if he were native to human society, only to grow into an alien menace, bent on carnage, on destroying the very benefactors who had treated him as their own, we see a reference that extends not only to various characters of the Oresteia [174] but even to the audience itself as the embodiment of the Athenian Empire. The Oresteia was produced in 458 B.C.; already in 472 B.C., the khorēgos for the Persians of Aeschylus was none other than Pericles. All this is not to imply that Athens in general or Pericles in particular was being subjected to blame. Rather it is to say only that the ainos, true to its moral purpose, instructs as it implicitly warns. We may compare the characterization of Oedipus in the Oedipus Tyrannus, which can be interpreted as an implicit characterization of the city of Athens in its role as leader of the Athenian Empire. [175] The Empire is turannos, in the dramatized words of Pericles (Thucydides 2.63), and the {312|313} notion of an Athenian Empire is already presupposed in the Histories of Herodotus (e.g., 5.97). For Herodotus too, the Empire is turannos. In this sense the theme of “alien is native,” with a focus on the concept of turannos, is a mark not only of the ainos but of the very master plan of Herodotean narrative. {313|314}


[ back ] 1. Cf. Ch. 9§18, 9§24, and following.

[ back ] 2. Cf. Ch. 9§24 and following.

[ back ] 3. Cf. Ch. 8§39 and following.

[ back ] 4. Note the diminishing tricolon (cf. Mimnermus F 1.3 W), ending with the general category of hubris. The aspects of hubris that I have been calling luxuriance and savagery are conveyed by the words kerdos and biē respectively. For more on kerdos, see Ch. 9§21. On biē as a symptom of hubris, in Hesiod Works and Days 143–155 and elsewhere, see N 1979.156–157.

[ back ] 5. The ‘good things’ are both wealth and nobility, while ‘debasement’ is both poverty and degeneration. On the semantic shift from the socioeconomic to the purely ethical sense of agathos ‘noble’ and its synonyms, cf. N 1985.51–60; also p. 44§29n4 and p. 45§30n1.

[ back ] 6. Stambler 1982.219, Waters 1985.21; cf. Immerwahr 1966.70.

[ back ] 7. For an evaluation of this poem, see Carson 1984; also Burnett 1985.61–76, who disagrees with previous works that stress the “pessimism” of the ode.

[ back ] 8. On the transcendent semantics of olbios, see Ch. 8§43 and following.

[ back ] 9. For pertinent contexts of eudaimoniā ‘good fortune’, see Ch. 8§36.

[ back ] 10. The wording λάμπει … ὁ χρυσός ‘the gold [khrūsos] gleams’ at Bacchylides Epinician 3.17 here is crucial for understanding the poetic equation of khrūsos and euphrosunē ‘merriment’, to be discussed at Ch. 10§7.

[ back ] 11. On the transcendence of olbos as well-being that is material from the outside and mystical from the inside, see Ch. 8§43 and following.

[ back ] 12. The phrase φύλαξ’ ’Απόλλων ‘Apollo saved … ’ is syntactically carried over from stanza Β´ and emphatically begins stanza Γ´.

[ back ] 13. There is also an attested iconographical variation on the story, a Red Figure amphora dated around 500 B.C. (Beazley 1963.238 no. 1) showing Croesus calmly seated on the pyre while an attendant labeled Euthumos is apparently getting ready to set fire to it.

[ back ] 14. At Bacchylides 3.38, the expected reciprocity of the gods in return for all the generosity of Croesus is expressed as kharis; cf. Herodotus 1.90.4.

[ back ] 15. On the Land of the Hyperboreans as a multiform analogous to Elysium, the Islands of the Blessed, the White Island, and so forth, cf. Hesiod F 150.21 MW, Epigonoi F 3 Kinkel, scholia to Pindar Pythian 3.28, and so on.

[ back ] 16. See N 1979.164. My understanding of Hesiod Works and Days 158–168 is that the heroes of the Theban as well as the Trojan War are eligible for immortalization. I take the μέν at Works and Days 166 as parallel to the instances of μέν at 122, 137, 141, 161 (pace West 1978.192): in other words, I argue that this μέν at 166, like the others here listed, is continuative, and that it does not set up a contrast with the δέ of 167. In line with this interpretation, the heroes who are transported by Zeus had to die before they could be transported to a state of immortalization. Compare the transportation of the dead Achilles from the funeral pyre to the White Island, where he is immortalized: Aithiopis/Proclus p. 106.14–15 Allen.

[ back ] 17. Compare Herodotus 1.86.2: Cyrus makes Croesus ascend the pyre for various possible reasons, one of which is to find out if any daimōn ‘supernatural force’ would save a man so theosebēs ‘pious’.

[ back ] 18. Cf. Ch. 10§5.

[ back ] 19. Cf. ibid.

[ back ] 20. For more on the programmatic function of the word euphrosunē ‘mirth’, see Ch. 6§92.

[ back ] 21. Gold is also a symbol of culture as distinct from nature: in the myth of the Golden Age, for example, as in Hesiod Works and Days 117–118, gold signifies the suspension of the natural, of the cycles and rhythms of vegetation, by way of the artificial (extensive discussion in N 1979.179–190; at Works and Days 172, the immortalized heroes on the Islands of the Blessed are called olbioi ‘blissful’). In Iliad II 268, it is gold that makes the scepter a thing of culture, of artifice, not of nature, since it is aphthiton aiei ‘unfailing forever’ (II 46, 186; commentary in N, pp. 179–180). In Bacchylides 3.85–87, there is a tripartite crescendo of imperishable elements, where the first is the aithēr ‘aether’, described as ‘incorruptible’ (ἀμίαντος 86), which separates sky and earth; the second is the water of the sea, which ‘does not disintegrate’ (ὕδωρ … οὐ σάπεται 86–87); and the third is the khrūsos ‘gold’ that is euphrosunē (εὐφροσύνα δ’ ὁ χρυσός 87). The two foils for gold here are things of nature, while gold itself is a thing of culture. As for Pindar’s Olympian 1, in contrast, the hierarchy is different: here the element of water is said to be best (ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ 1), juxtaposed with khrūsos ‘gold’ as the best display of wealth (1–2; cf. Olympian 3.42), but the greatest of aethla ‘prizes’ (3) to be sought is the sun itself (5), as it shines through the aithēr (6), preeminent among celestial bodies just as the Olympics are preeminent among athletic contests (5–7). It is as if gold were just a reflection of the sun itself, so that gold, like water, is in truth a thing of nature, not culture. Since water is a symbol for the kleos of song, as in Pindar Nemean 7.62–63 (Ch. 6§3), it is as if song were a thing of nature, not a thing of culture, of artifice. In the poetics of Pindar, the genius of song is presented as natural, not artificial. To the extent that the natural is perceived as “realistic,” unlike the artificial, we may again apply the dictum: the more the realism, the greater the artifice (Ch. 1§36). On the traditional poetics of aphthito– ‘unfailing’ as applicable to kleos and to water, see N 1974.229–244; also Risch 1987.4–5. On the vegetal symbolism of aphthito-: N 1979 Ch. 10 and Steiner 1986.38.

[ back ] 22. Cf. Ch. 6§4 and following.

[ back ] 23. On the ainos as an instrument of social criticism that can warn as well as praise, see Ch. 6§62 and following.

[ back ] 24. Note the frequent use of olbos/olbios as a term that is specifically inapplicable to Croesus: Herodotus 1.86.3, 5 (two times), 6; note also the use of an-olbos ‘without olbos’ in the response of the Delphic Oracle to Croesus (1.85.2).

[ back ] 25. See Ch. 8§20, 8§25, and following.

[ back ] 26. On the apodeixis ‘public display’ of aretē ‘achievement’ by way of logioi and aoidoi, masters of oral tradition in prose and song respectively, see Ch. 8§9 and following.

[ back ] 27. The description of the aretē of Croesus as ‘unfailing’, by way of the root phthi-, draws the theme of the tyrant’s generosity into a symbolic parallelism with imperishable substances like gold, which is also the symbol for the medium of poetry and song that glorifies such generosity and which is associated with the quality of being aphthito– ‘unfailing, imperishable’: see Ch. 10§9. The ‘unfailing’ aretē of Croesus at Pindar Pythian 1.94 is then contrasted with the savagery of the tyrant Phalaris of Akragas, who was reputed to roast his victims alive within the brazen simulacrum of a bull (Pythian 1.95–96).

[ back ] 28. Besides the immediate sense of olbos as ‘material prosperity’ and of aiōn as ‘lifetime’, there is an ulterior sense built into both words: on olbos in the ulterior sense of ‘bliss’, see Ch. 8§43 and following; on aiōn in the ulterior sense of ‘vital force’, see N 1981.

[ back ] 29. Chantraine DELG 1150.

[ back ] 30. For documentation of hu-/u– (ὑ-/ὐ-) in the sense of epi– (ἐπί-), see Perpillou 1987.

[ back ] 31. Cf. Perpillou, pp. 197–199. On the relationship of briaros and brīthō, see DELG 196.

[ back ] 32. Commentary at N 1985.48–49, 60–61.

[ back ] 33. Again, commentary at N 1985.48–49, 60–61. Cf. Pindar Olympian 13.10, where the relationship is expressed in reverse: hubris gives birth to koros. Gildersleeve 1899.229–230 observes about the reverse order in Solon and Theognis: “but that makes little difference, as, according to Greek custom, grandmother and granddaughter often bore the same name. It is a mere matter of Hubris KorosHubris.”

[ back ] 34. On the use of the word turannis ‘tyranny’ at Pindar Pythian 11.53, see Ch. 10§20.

[ back ] 35. Cf. Ch. 9§18 and following.

[ back ] 36. Cf. Ch. 9§18, with a discussion of the possibility that pod-(h)abros ‘with a footstep that is luxuriant [habros]’ at Herodotus 1.55.2 connotes specifically dancing steps. Cf. also Bacchylides 3.48, where the funeral pyre that Croesus voluntarily ascends is called a habro-batēs domos (ἁβροβάταν δόμον) ‘construction for luxuriant [habros] footsteps’. I interpret this expression to refer to the luxuriant manner in which Croesus walked up the constructed pyre, headed for certain doom (pace SM, apparatus ad loc.). For a different interpretation, where ἁβροβάταν is read as Habrobatās, the name of a page, see, for example, Burnett 1985.180.

[ back ] 37. Cf. Ch. 9§18 and following.

[ back ] 38. On the theme of variations in human fortunes from mighty to slight, slight to mighty, cf. Herodotus 1.5.3–4 and the discussion at Ch. 8§37–39.

[ back ] 39. The traditional themes associated with the verb ar-numai ‘strive to achieve’ here correspond to those of the noun aretē ‘achievement’, which is in fact etymologically derived from it: see Francis 1983.82–87.

[ back ] 40. Cf. Pindar Olympian 5.7.

[ back ] 41. I interpret ἀβρότατος ἔπι μεγάλας ‘in [this] time of great habrotēs’ as referring to the time after, not before or during, the victory (pace Gildersleeve 1899.333, who interprets habrotēs here as the luxuriance that tempts the athlete in the austere period of his training).

[ back ] 42. Compare Bacchylides Encomium 20B.8-16: Κύπριδος ἐλπίςaspiration [elpis] for Aphrodite’ (line 8), in the context of intoxication at a symposium, seems to be the subject of ἀνδράσι δ’ ὑψοτάτω πέμπει μερίμνας· | αὐτίκα μὲν πολίων κράδεμνα λύει, | πᾶσι δ’ ἀνθρώποις μοναρχήσειν δοκεῖ ‘sends ambitions [merimna plural] to the uppermost heights for men; straightaway it undoes the protective headbands of cities, and it thinks that it will be monarch [monarkhos] over all mortals’ (lines 10–13). On monarkhos ‘monarch’ as the attenuated synonym of turannos ‘tyrant’, see Ch 6§64, 6§67. This passage, Bacchylides Encomium 20B.8–16, is treated at greater length below, at Ch. 10§19 and following.

[ back ] 43. This second clause, where the theme concerns soaring and falling, contrasts with the first clause, where the theme concerns soaring only.

[ back ] 44. I accept this emendation of the manuscript reading ἀγροτέραν, deemed corrupt in the edition of SM.

[ back ] 45. So Nisetich 1980.89.

[ back ] 46. Compare πλοῦτος … ὑπέχων μέριμναν ἁβροτέραν here with ἔχων κρέσσονα πλούτου μέριμναν at Pythian 8.91–92, quoted immediately above. Note too that merimna ‘concern’ has been interpreted here throughout in the sense of ‘ambition’ rather than ‘worry’; cf. Slater 1969.329.

[ back ] 47. Cf. Ch. 10§16.

[ back ] 48. There is an implicit danger in the application of this epithet habros to Adonis: we may note that the luxuriant Adonis is an exponent of hubris in a botanical sense, on which see the full discussion in N 1985.60–63.

[ back ] 49. Compare Sappho F 194 V for the image of Aphrodite riding on the chariot of the Kharites.

[ back ] 50. Cf. Hamm 1957 §241.

[ back ] 51. Cf. Pindar Pythian 11.50, as discussed at Ch. 10§20. This interpretation of the Sappho passage differs from that of, for example, Campbell 1982.101, who reads τὠελίω (τὸ ἀελίω), agreeing with τὸ λάμπρον. Even if we were to accept the reading τὠελίω, we could theoretically interpret the crasis along the lines of τῶ ἀελίω = τὠελίω (cf. e.g. πω ἔσλον = πὦσλον at Alcaeus 69.5 V; cf. Hamm, p. §91e). The theme of ‘lust for the sun’ is to be connected with that of Sappho’s love of Phaon/Adonis: cf. N 1973.177 in connection with the theme of crossing the strait with Phaon.

[ back ] 52. On the reference to women as distinct from girls here, cf. Rissman 1983.95.

[ back ] 53. Cf. Ch. 9§18 and following. The Lydians are characterized as habro-diaitoi ‘living luxuriantly’ in Aeschylus Persians 41; cf. the context of the same epithet in Thucydides 1.6.3, as applied to the “Ionian” style among old-fashioned aristocratic Athenians.

[ back ] 54. The evidence for this theme is supplemented by the testimony of Theopompus FGH 115 F 117 in Athenaeus 526c. See Ch. 9§20. Cf. also the Sybaris theme as discussed at Ch. 9§18.

[ back ] 55. The passage is quoted at Ch. 9§20. The evidence for this corollary theme is supplemented by the testimony of Phylarchus FGH 81 F 66 in Athenaeus 526a. See Ch. 9§18 and following.

[ back ] 56. Cf. Ch. 9§20. On the theme of variations in human fortunes from mighty to slight, slight to mighty, cf. Herodotus 1.5.3–4 and the discussion at Ch. 8§36.

[ back ] 57. Cf. perhaps Archilochus F 23.17–20 W.

[ back ] 58. Knox 1984.

[ back ] 59. Fraenkel 1957.211–213 notes that Latin otium is used to convey the traditional Greek topic of truphē ‘luxuriance’ as resulting in the ruin of cities; see Knox 1984.98n5 for a sample of passages. This is not to say that otium is the exact equivalent of truphē.

[ back ] 60. Cf. also Lattimore 1944, who adduces Theognis 1103–1104, quoted above at Ch. 9§20.

[ back ] 61. On the theme of the luxuriant Adonis as an exponent of hubris in a botanical sense, I cite again the full discussion in N 1985.60–63.

[ back ] 62. See the apparatus of SM, 3§31, for Snell’s tentative reconstruction: ὄλβ[ον δ’ ἔσχε πάντα οὔτις] ἀνθρώπων.

[ back ] 63. At Pindar F 124(ab).5 SM (on this poem cf. p. 288), merimnai is more easily translated in the general sense of ‘concerns’.

[ back ] 64. Cf. n42 above.

[ back ] 65. Note the ring composition achieved with the placement of ὁρμαίνω/ὁρμαίνει ‘ponder(s)’ at lines 3/16. See van Groningen 1960.100–101 for a word-by-word comparison of Bacchylides F 20B 1–16 SM with Pindar F 124ab SM. The striking parallelisms lead van Groningen to worry about which of the two poems was imitated by the other.

[ back ] 66. Cf. the use of terpnos aiōn ‘pleasurable lifetime’ at Pindar F 126 SM, words addressed to Hieron, Tyrant of Syracuse, as quoted by Heraclides Ponticus F 55 Wehrli by way of Athenaeus 512d; this quotation from Pindar comes immediately after the quotation in Athenaeus 512c of the present passage from Simonides. Cf. Young 1968.

[ back ] 67. The last part of this statement, spoken by a character identified as Charon the Carpenter in Aristotle Rhetoric 1418b30, is analogous to a theme in the Gyges story as retold in Herodotus 1.7.2: the king of the Lydian Empire, Kandaules, tries to persuade his trusted bodyguard Gyges, who was later to become king himself by overthrowing Kandaules, to view the queen naked, on the grounds that the queen’s beauty can be witnessed by the eyes more reliably than by the ears. The answer given by Gyges to Kandaules at Herodotus 1.7.3-4 (on which see Benardete 1969.11-12) resembles in tone the quoted statement of Charon the Carpenter in Archilochus F 19 W.

[ back ] 68. On the semantic overlap of basileus ‘king’/monarkhos ‘sole ruler’/turannos ‘tyrant’, see Ch. 6§53, 6§64, 6§67.

[ back ] 69. That the mention of Archilochus in Herodotus 1.12.2 refers to an integral narrative about Gyges and the Queen in the poetry of Archilochus, not just to the naming of Gyges as Tyrant of the Lydians, is argued by Clay 1986.11-12, who also raises the possibility that Archilochus F 23 W contains a dialogue between Gyges and the Queen.

[ back ] 70. On the symbolism of the number 5 in conveying the notion of coming full circle, see N 1979.169.

[ back ] 71. In fact Herodotus asserts that Gyges was the first barbarian to make offerings to Apollo at Delphi, except for Midas of Phrygia (1.14.2–3).

[ back ] 72. The distinction that Herodotus makes between the aggression of Croesus against the Hellenes on the one hand and that of this tyrant’s predecessors on the other is made clear at 1.5.3, in conjunction with 1.6.1–3, on which passages see Ch. 8§20 and following.

[ back ] 73. Documentation in Benardete 1969.137.

[ back ] 74. For a most useful survey of this theme, see Hartog 1980.335–336. Note especially the expression ἐρασθεὶς τυραννίδος ‘lusting after tyranny [turannis]’ at Herodotus 1.96.2.

[ back ] 75. I omit here a stretch of the text where the testimony of the manuscripts is garbled.

[ back ] 76. Cf. ἔρος τὠελίω at Sappho F 58.26, which I interpret as ‘lust for the sun’ at Ch. 10§17.

[ back ] 77. So the kharis transcends the material possessions [kteana] that were won in the contest. On kharis as a ‘beautiful and pleasurable compensation, through song or poetry, for a deed deserving of glory’, see Ch. 2§28n72. More on Pindar Pythian 11 in Young 1968.

[ back ] 78. Compare Iliad XIII 631–639, a passage with a parallel theme—but with a martial twist. Menelaos is blaming the Trojans as hubristai ‘perpetrators of outrage [hubris]’ (633), with a menos ‘disposition’ that is atasthalon ‘reckless’ (634). In this context the Trojans are described as insatiable in war (634–635), with the notion of satiation expressed by the verb kor-ennumi (κορέσασθαι 635). Menelaos goes on to say that all pleasures reach a point of satiety, koros (πάντων μὲν κόρος ἐστί 636)—namely, the pleasures of sleep, sex, song, dance (636–637)—and that he would expect a man to take his fill of these pleasures, not of war (638–639). But, he concludes, the Trojans are akorētoi ‘insatiable’ in war (639). As C. Cowherd points out to me, Menelaos does not mention the pleasures of food and drink, though the expression ἐξ ἔρον εἷναι ‘take one’s fill’ (638: noun eros!) is conventionally applied to satiation in food and drink.

[ back ] 79. On atē ‘derangement’ as punishment (consequence) as well as crime (cause), see Ch. 8§43.

[ back ] 80. In the words of Bacchylides gold as the symbol of good and genuine olbos ‘bliss’ is the same thing as euphrosunē (εὐφροσύνα δ’ ὁ χρυσός 3.87); whoever perverts olbos, as Tantalos did, is punished by a failure ever again to achieve euphrosunē.

[ back ] 81. Cf. Ch. 4§23 and following.

[ back ] 82. The parallelism of dietary and sexual violations is pertinent to the semantics of koros ‘satiety, point at which satiety is reached, insatiability’ (as at Olympian 1.56). Although koros applies primarily to food and drink, it can also apply to sex (Iliad ΧΙΙΙ 636–637, as discussed at n78 above). Note too the collocation of koros at Olympian 2.95 with margos, an adjective conveying both dietary and sexual excess (on which see N 1979.229–231).

[ back ] 83. On Tantalos as son of Zeus, cf. also Euripides Orestes 5.

[ back ] 84. On the Hill of Atē, see also Stephanus of Byzantium s.v. Ilion. This theme is pertinent to another, the habrotēs ‘luxuriance’ of Troy: see Ch. 10§20.

[ back ] 85. On this passage, cf. N 1979.145§8n2.

[ back ] 86. Cf. Ch. 4§20.

[ back ] 87. Elsewhere in Herodotus, Sparta and Athens are presented as sharing in the honor of being the foremost city-states of Hellas, to be sought out by Croesus as allies (1.56.2–3, following up on 1.53.1). The inclusion of Athens, however, is more by hindsight: it sets the stage for the central roles to be played by Sparta and Athens in the rest of the Histories, and it provides an opportunity for a brief sketch, at the outset of the narrative, of the importance of both cities (Athens: 1.56.3–1.64.3; Sparta: 1.65.1–1.68.6). We may note that from the ostensible standpoint of Croesus the initial importance of Athens is viewed almost exclusively in terms of the achievements of the tyrant Peisistratos (1.59–1.64.3).

[ back ] 88. Let us consider again the ostensible standpoint of Croesus: the importance of Sparta is viewed in terms of its military successes in dominating the Peloponnesus, but there is also mention of the city’s political successes in developing an outstanding constitution, thanks to the achievements of the lawgiver Lycurgus (1.65.2–1.66.1). Note the vegetal imagery inherent in the expression ἀνά τε ἔδραμον … καὶ εὐθενήθησαν ‘they shot up and flourished’ (1.66.1), applied to the Spartans in their state of eunomiā ‘good government’ (μετέβαλον δὲ ὧδε ἐς εὐνομίην 1.65.2; οὕτω μὲν μεταβαλόντες εὐνομήθησαν 1.66.1). For parallel uses of the verb ana-trekhō ‘shoot up’ in describing the growth of plantlife, see Iliad XVIII 56, 437; also Herodotus 7.156.2, 8.55; for a parallel use of eutheneō ‘flourish’ in the context of eunomiā ‘good government’, see Herodotus 2.124.1. Note too the vegetal imagery in Solon F 4.32–35 W: eunomiā (personified) ‘withers the burgeoning blossoms of derangement [atē]’ (αὐαίνει δ’ ἄτης ἄνθεα φυόμενα).

[ back ] 89. On the reflexes of such patterns of transplanting in the ktisis (‘foundation, colonization’) poetic traditions of various city-states, see N 1979.8§14n1 (with cross-references) and especially 5§5, 5§8; also N 1982.63–64 and 1985.51§38n1 and 63§51n2. I stress that these patterns are a reflex not of colonization itself but rather of the poetic traditions about colonization.

[ back ] 90. The testimony of Pausanias associating Tantalos with the region of Mount Sipylos is particularly valuable in light of this author’s background. As Habicht 1985.13-15 has convincingly argued, Pausanias is probably native to the Sipylos region (“everything points to Magnesia on the Sipylos as his place of origin”: p. 14). Habicht, p. 15n66, draws attention to ten passages where Pausanias gives revealing specific details about this region, one of which concerns an epichoric dance (6.22.1). On the unrelenting emphasis given by Pausanias to the perspectives of the Archaic and Classical periods of Greece, to the disadvantage of the Hellenistic and later periods, see Habicht, pp. 23, 134, 149.

[ back ] 91. The river Akhelōios, mentioned at Iliad XXIV 616 as a landmark in the same environs as Mount Sipylos, is thought by Pausanias to be distinct from the river of the same name that flows through Acarnania and Aetolia (8.28.9–10) or the one in Arcadia (8.28.10).

[ back ] 92. Survey in Sakellariou 1958.227n2 of versions indicating the Peloponnesian provenience of Tantalos; see in general Chs. 13§54 and 8§16-10§7 on the transplanting of the Tantalos figure from regions of the Mainland to the region of Smyrna in Asia Minor. Sakellariou also surveys the evidence for maintaining that Greeks were established in the region of Smyrna before the Lydians (Ch. 13§53, 13§54; cf. also 13§19–13§21).

[ back ] 93. Pausanias accepts a version that makes this Tantalos prosopographically distinct (2.22.3). The main reason for the rejection of the Argive version by Pausanias has to do with his own close ties to the region of Sipylos, as discussed at Ch. 10§23. Pausanias is openly hostile to Argive versions: 2.23.6.

[ back ] 94. Pausanias 2.21.9–10 accepts the Homeric version, which does not draw attention to any local variation: according to the Iliad all the children of Niobe were killed (XXIV 609). In the tradition of Argos the first man and first king is Phoroneus (Acusilaus FGH 2 F 23)—a version followed by Plato Timaeus 22a4-b3, who mentions Niobe in the same context without specifying her relationship to Phoroneus. If Tantalos is father of Niobe, I infer that he is son of Phoroneus in this Argive version. Such a construct would dovetail with the claim, rejected by Pausanias 2.22.2–3, that the bones of Tantalos were the possession of Argos.

[ back ] 95. Note too the prominent mention of Tantalos in the prologue of the Orestes of Euripides (1–10), the setting of which is Argos. The punishment of Tantalos is the same in the Orestes (5–7) as in Pindar’s Olympian 1 (57–60). The crime of Tantalos is described, obliquely, at Orestes 8–10.

[ back ] 96. See Ch. 6§57.

[ back ] 97. See Ch. 10§22.

[ back ] 98. This insight is thoroughly examined and illustrated by Hartog 1980; cf. also Redfield 1985.

[ back ] 99. Cf. Bickerman 1952.71.

[ back ] 100. Overview of the genealogy in West 1985.78.

[ back ] 101. See How and Wells 1912 I 349–350. On the variant that claims Europa as the daughter rather than sister of Phoinix: Apollodorus ibid. (already in Iliad XIV 321). Overview of variations in West 1985.82–83. For the Indo-European foundations of the Kadmos myth, cf. Vian 1963 and the discussion of Boedeker 1974.5.

[ back ] 102. On autochthony as a measure of the nobility of a polis: Aristotle Rhetoric 1360b31–32. On the ideology of Athenian autochthony in its various political phases, see Loraux 1982b, 1987b.

[ back ] 103. Cf. Ch. 10§22.

[ back ] 104. Cf. Ch. 10§22.

[ back ] 105. Overview of the Dionysus myth in the Bacchae: Segal 1982 (cf. Henrichs 1979). Cf. also Ch. 13§8 and following.

[ back ] 106. Cf. Boedeker 1974.4–5.

[ back ] 107. Boedeker ibid.

[ back ] 108. Cf. Ch. 10§16, 10§19.

[ back ] 109. Cf. ibid.

[ back ] 110. Chantraine DELG 21.

[ back ] 111. Overview in Detienne 1972. 237–238.

[ back ] 112. Ibid.

[ back ] 113. On one of the “native” names of Adonis, Ἄωος (Hesychius s.v., Etymologicum Magnum s.v.), see Boedeker, p. 67.

[ back ] 114. Detienne, pp. 237–238. The translation is mine. For “god” I substitute daimōn, to accommodate ‘hero’ as well as ‘god’.

[ back ] 115. Cf. Ch. 12§14 and following; Calame 1977 II 34–35.

[ back ] 116. Cf. Calame I 178–185. For an overview of the contacts between Lydia and Ephesus, see Sakellariou 1958.392, 427–430.

[ back ] 117. For more on ritual role-playing, see Ch. 12.

[ back ] 118. Cf., for example, Ch. 12§20n47.

[ back ] 119. Like Alkaios, Sthenelos too married a daughter of Pelops (Hesiod F 190.9 and following).

[ back ] 120. On the theme of Herakles as kingmaker but never king, see Davidson 1980.

[ back ] 121. Further details and commentary in West 1985.159n75. In the Iliad, however, the field of vision is restricted to the sequence of Pelopidai: the scepter goes from Pelops to Atreus to Thyestes to Agamemnon (II 101–108).

[ back ] 122. Variations in Apollodorus 2.8.2 and following; convenient summary in West 1985.113. Another brother of Temenos and Aristodemos is Kresphontes, founder of the dynasty of Messenia (Pausanias 4.3.3–4).

[ back ] 123. Pausanias 2.19.2 reports that the royal authority of Medon, the grandson of Temenos the Heraclid, was already in that era checked by the polis of Argos so that the political power of the descendants of Medon was diminished; also that Meltas, the tenth descendant of Medon, was deposed altogether. The testimony of Pausanias about the removal of Meltas need not be interpreted to mean that kingship was abolished altogether. Meltas was the descendant of King Pheidon of Argos, who is described as a turannos ‘tyrant’ in Herodotus 6.127.3 (on his genealogy, see Theopompus FGH 115 F 393; cf. Jeffery 1976.135-136 on the political ideology of the “Heritage” of Temenos, as pursued by King Pheidon). How and Wells 1928 II 189 remark that Pheidon’s reassertion of royal power was an exceptional phase, analogous to a tyranny, and that “presumably the monarch only retained the old royal right to priesthood and other formal honours, perhaps presidency of the Boule.” On the problems of dating the genealogical sequence of the Argive dynasty, see Kelly 1976.105–111.

[ back ] 124. This particular model of Alkaios the Heraclid may be attested indirectly at least in the native Greek context of the Lesbian traditions about Alkaios = Alcaeus, if we accept the argument that the Alcaeus figure, as contrasted with Pittakos in the poetry of Alcaeus, is thematically parallel to the Kyrnos figure, as contrasted with Theognis in the poetry of Theognis: see Ch. 6§70. On the possibility that the Kyrnos of Theognis represents a Heraclid prince, see Ch.6§66.

[ back ] 125. How and Wells 1928 I 305. On Herodotus 4.5–7, see Dumézil 1978.171 and following.

[ back ] 126. Cf. Ch. 10§24–25 above.

[ back ] 127. Cf. Ch. 10§24–25 above.

[ back ] 128. Although this “dialogue,” from the Persian point of view, is at the political expense of Sparta, there is nothing in the myth of Perses, son of Perseus, that would directly undercut the Spartan kingship’s genealogical derivation from Perseus. Herodotus elsewhere records another aspect of the myth, this one clearly congenial to the Persians from their ethnocentric point of view and just as clearly less appropriate for any overture to Argos: according to the Persians, Herodotus says, Perseus was originally an Assyrian who, unlike his ancestors, became a Hellene (6.54). Besides, continues Herodotus, both Persians and Hellenes agree that Perseus was an Egyptian on his mother’s side (ibid.). Herodotus says that he chooses to say no more about the Egyptian connection on the grounds that the subject has already been treated by others (6.55; note the implication of textuality in this statement). The mother of Perseus is Danae—who represents a point that is as far back as the general Hellenic vision of the genealogy of Dorian kings goes, according to Herodotus (6.53.1). But we know that the genealogy can in fact be taken further back in the Argive version of the myth: Danae was the daughter of Akrisios, who was son of Abas, who was son of Hypermestra, who was daughter of Danaos, the founder of Argos (Apollodorus 2.1.4; Hesiod F 129 MW; cf. Aeschylus Suppliants 318 and following; also Herodotus 2.91.5). Cf. West 1985.78.

[ back ] 129. Kelly 1976.140. On the Battle of Champions, see Herodotus 1.82 (cf. Kelly, p. 116). Cf. also Calame 1987.177.

[ back ] 130. See Ch. 10§22.

[ back ] 131. From the standpoint of Herodotus 1.82–83, Sardis was already being besieged by the Persians when the Spartans were preoccupied with the events culminating in the Battle of the Champions.

[ back ] 132. For example, How and Wells 1928 I 37–43.

[ back ] 133. How and Wells I 41–43.

[ back ] 134. Survey and analysis in Hartog 1980.371–372, 376.

[ back ] 135. Cf. Ch. 6§64. On the Indo-Iranian themes disguised underneath these Greek categories of democracy, oligarchy, and ‘monarchy’, see Dumézil 1985.246–253.

[ back ] 136. Cf. Chs. 6§64–54, 9§21–22, 12§56–57.

[ back ] 137. Opinions differ about termini post quern for the final text fixation of the Histories. For a balanced discussion of evidence for a late dating, possibly even as late as 415 B.C., see Raaflaub 1987.236–237 (cf. also Fornara 1971b).

[ back ] 138. So Fornara 1971.88.

[ back ] 139. For details about the traditions of international (that is, inter-polis) arbitration, see Ch. 11.

[ back ] 140. Commenting on the testimony of Duris of Samos FGH 76 F 64 and others to the effect that Herodotus is the Θούριος ‘the man from Thourioi’, How and Wells 1928 I 3 remark: “It is difficult to understand the prevalence of the name [Θούριος] unless Herodotus died and was buried there.”

[ back ] 141. A brief survey of known facts about the foundation of Thourioi in Graham 1983.35–37.

[ back ] 142. See Graham, p. 36.

[ back ] 143. On the Sybaris theme, see Ch. 9§20n75.

[ back ] 144. Discussion in Stambler 1982.226.

[ back ] 145. Graham, pp. 36–37.

[ back ] 146. Cf. Stambler 1982.226.

[ back ] 147. On the significance of this word koruphaioi ‘leading figures’: Ch. 12§56.

[ back ] 148. Stambler 1982.229.

[ back ] 149. For another important attestation of this theme in Herodotus, see 5.97.3: the ships sent by Athens to aid the Ionian Revolt are described as the arkhē kakōn ‘beginning of misfortunes’ for Hellenes and barbarians alike (at this point Athens is described as the most powerful of Hellenic city-states with the exception of Sparta: 5.97.1). Compare the epithet arkhekakoi ‘beginners of misfortune’ at Iliad V 63, describing the ships used by Paris for the abduction of Helen—the act that precipitated the Trojan War. Compare also the expression kakouarkhē ‘beginning of misfortune’ at XI 604, marking the beginning of Patroklos’ fatal involvement as ritual substitute for Achilles (commentary in N 1979.33–34, 88§34n4).

[ back ] 150. The word used in the sense of ‘compensation’ here at Herodotus 9.120.3 is apoina, and the word for the ‘possessions’ of the hero Protesilaos in his hero shrine is khrēmata (ibid.).

[ back ] 151. At Herodotus 9.79.2, Pausanias goes on to say that Leonidas is getting adequate compensation through the deaths of all those who were killed at Plataea.

[ back ] 152. Cf. Loraux 1987c.8–11.

[ back ] 153. See Chs. 6§64, 9§22, 12§56.

[ back ] 154. Cf. ibid.

[ back ] 155. Cf. Ch. 10§47 above.

[ back ] 156. See Ch. 8§22.

[ back ] 157. Cf. ibid.

[ back ] 158. On the theme of Athens as polis turannos, “familiar to all Greeks since roughly the middle of the [fifth] century,” see Raaflaub 1987.224. On the pertinence of the characterization of Oedipus as turannos ‘tyrant’ in the Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles, see Knox 1954.

[ back ] 159. It is added that it was μετά γε θεούς ‘next in order to the gods’ that the Athenians drove back the Great King (Herodotus 7.139.5). In other words the gods must be given a major share in the credit.

[ back ] 160. In light of the reference above, we may take note of the epithet sōtēr ‘savior’ as applied to Oedipus in the Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles (e.g., 48).

[ back ] 161. If Herodotus were to have continued narrating the Persian Wars to their formal end at 448 B.C. or thereabouts, with the Peace of Kallias, the contrast between the old Athens as liberator of Hellas from the Persians and the new Athens as the supreme power of a new empire would have been blurred.

[ back ] 162. Cf. Ch. 6§7, 6§89. For an ideal example of a represented parainesis in Herodotus, I cite 1.59.3, where the wise words of Khilon of Sparta, one of the Seven Sages, who is warning the father of Peisistratos of Athens, are designated by the verb paraineō.

[ back ] 163. On this passage see Fornara 1971.53; also Raaflaub 1987.225n10. The theme of a woman’s giving birth to a lion is parodied in Aristophanes Knights 1037–1040 in the form of a quoted oracular utterance emanating from Bakis (on this figure, see Ch. 6§49); this mock oracle is strikingly similar to the oracular utterance quoted at Herodotus 5.92β.3 concerning the birth of Kypselos, future tyrant of Corinth (on which see Ch. 6§67–68).

[ back ] 164. See Fraenkel 1950 II 338–339, who collects valuable parallels for the two formal characteristics of the ainos in this passage from the Agamemnon of Aeschylus, namely, the usage of ἀνήρ at line 719 and of οὕτως at 718. For a parallel usage of οὕτως at Iliad IX 524, in the ainos addressed by Phoenix to Achilles, see Ch. 6§89n215. For an interpretation of the ainos at Agamemnon 717–736 in the context of the entire Oresteia trilogy, see Knox 1952, who interprets the lion cub as a symbol of the new hubris that grows out of the old (φιλεῖ δὲ τίκτειν ὕβρις μὲν παλαιὰ νεάζουσαν ἐν κακοῖς βροτῶν ὕβριν Agamemnon 764–766). As Knox points out, the lion cub of this ainos refers not just to Paris but also to Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, even Orestes. Cf. also Goldhill 1984.63.

[ back ] 165. Stambler 1982.221–222, following Snell 1924.

[ back ] 166. Kirk, Raven, and Schofield 1983.120 make note of the “legalistic” metaphor, adding: “The prevalence of one substance at the expense of its contrary is ‘injustice’ [= a-dik-iā], and a reaction takes place through the infliction of punishment by the restoration of equality—of more than equality, since the wrong-doer is deprived of his original substance, too. This is given to the victim in addition to what was his own, and in turn leads (it might be inferred) to koros, surfeit, on the part of the former victim, who now commits injustice on the former aggressor.”

[ back ] 167. This translation is based on Kirk, Raven, and Schofield 1983.118. On taxis as ‘assessment’, they write (p. 120) that the word “suggests the ordaining of punishment by a judge or, more aptly, the assessment of tribute as in the Athenian tribute-lists.”

[ back ] 168. Cf. Kirk, Raven, and Schofield, pp. 120–121, with reference to a comparable text in Solon (F 36 W).

[ back ] 169. Cf. Ch. 9§7 and following.

[ back ] 170. Cf. Ch. 8§36 on Herodotus 2.120.5: the power of a daimōn preordained the destruction of Troy in order to teach humans about the patterns of divine retribution for a-dik-ēmata ‘wrongdoings, injustice’. This interpretation is expressed as the gnōmē ‘judgment’ of Herodotus (ibid.).

[ back ] 171. Commentary in N 1982.58–60, 63–64.

[ back ] 172. The “moral” of the fable becomes clear at Works and Days 274–285: see Ch. 9§7n38.

[ back ] 173. On οὕτως at Agamemnon 718 as a performative marker of ainos, see Ch. 10§52 above.

[ back ] 174. Ibid.

[ back ] 175. Knox 1954.