The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry

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Chapter 12. Poetry of Praise, Poetry of Blame

12§1. As we see from Georges Dumézil’s comparative study Servius et la Fortune, Indo-European society operated on the principle of counterbalancing praise and blame, primarily through the medium of poetry. [1] This state of affairs is most overtly preserved in the evidence of Indic and Old Irish, [2] but we must now also include Greek. Thanks to the brilliant synthesis of Marcel Detienne, we are in a position to see the opposition of praise and blame as a fundamental principle in the archaic Greek community. [3]

éris ‘strife’ ἔριδα Pindar Nemean 4.93
vs. ainéō ‘praise’ αἰνέων Pindar Nemean 4.93
neîkos ‘quarrel, fight’ νείκει Pindar Nemean 8.25
~ erízō ‘have éris ἐρίζει Pindar Nemean 8.22
~ phthoneroí ‘those who have phthónos φθονεροῖσιν Pindar Nemean 8.21
~ óneidos ‘blame, reproach’ [9] ὄνειδος Pindar Nemean 8.33
óneidos ‘blame, reproach’ ὄνειδος Pindar Nemean 8.33
vs. ainéō ‘praise’ αἰνέων αἰνητά Pindar Nemean 8.39
vs. kléos ‘glory’ κλέος Pindar Nemean 8.36
mômos ‘blame, reproach’ μῶμος Bacchylides 13.202
vs. ainéō ‘praise’ [10] αἰνείτω Bacchylides 13.201
phthónos ‘envy, greed’ φθόνος Bacchylides 13.200
~ mômos μῶμος Bacchylides 13.202
vs. ainéō αἰνείτω Bacchylides 13.201
phthónos φθόνος Pindar Pythian 1.85
~ mômos μῶμος Pindar Pythian 1.82
phthónos φθόνον Bacchylides 5.188
vs. ainéō [11] αἰνεῖν Bacchylides 5.188

{223|224} I draw special attention to the first two entries in the list, éris and neîkos. In Homeric and Hesiodic poetry, we have seen that these words are appropriate for motivating the Trojan War in particular and the human condition in general. Now we see in the diction of praise poetry that éris and neîkos also can have a far more specific function: designating the opposite of praise poetry.

12§5. Where the language of blame is unjustified, it is specifically correlated with imagery that dwells on the devouring of meat. As we have just observed, blaming is made parallel to biting; also, the blamer is said to fatten himself on phthónos or on the hatreds of psógos. As we look for further development of this imagery, we come upon the following passage: [14]

At line 21, we see that phthónos is the food of the blamer only in a figurative sense: the language of phthónos is his means for getting a {225|226} meal, not the meal itself. [
20] But then, we also see at lines 22–23 of Pindar’s praise poem a ghastly extension of the same theme: not only does the man of phthónos get a meal, but the meal may actually turn out to be his victim! The verb háptomai at line 22 (ἅπτεται) connotes not only ‘grab at food’, as at Odyssey iv 60 and x 379, but even ‘grab at a victim with the teeth’, as at Iliad VIII 339, where the subject of the verb is kúōn ‘dog’. Similarly with δάψεν ‘devoured’ at line 23 of Pindar’s poem: in Homeric diction, the same verb dáptō can be applied in contexts where corpses are ‘devoured’ by dogs rather than by the fire of cremation (Iliad XXIII 183; cf. XXII 339). So also with piaínō ‘fatten’ in the expression φθόνῳ πιαίνεται ‘fattens himself on phthónos‘ at Bacchylides 3.68 and βαρυλόγοις ἔχθεσιν / πιαινόμενον ‘fattening himself on heavy-worded hatreds’ at Pindar Pythian 2.55–56: in Homeric diction, dogs devour specifically the fat of uncremated corpses (Iliad VIII 379–380, XI 818, XIII 831–832). [21] In effect, then, the language of praise poetry presents the language of unjustified blame as parallel to the eating of heroes’ corpses by dogs.

12§6. Significantly, the language of epic itself quotes the language of blame within the framework of narrating quarrels, [22] and a prominent word of insult within such direct quotations is kúōn ‘dog’ and its derivatives. [23] For example, Achilles insults Agamemnon by calling him kunôpa ‘having the looks of a dog’ (Iliad I 159) and kunòs ómmat’ ékhōn ‘having the eyes of a dog’ (Iliad I 225) [24] in the context of their quarrel, which is designated by éris and its derivative erízō (Iliad I 6, 8, 177, 210, 277, 319; II 376), as well as by neîkos (Iliad II 376). [25] The actual words of blame spoken by Achilles to Agamemnon are designated as óneidos ‘blame, reproach’ by the victim himself (ὀνείδεα: Iliad I 291; cf. I 211). [26] Similarly, in Pindar’s praise poem, the quarrel between Ajax and Odysseus qualifies as an éris (ἐρίζει: Nemean 8.22) and as a neîkos (νείκει: Nemean 8.25). In addition, the unjustified blame of Ajax by Odysseus qualifies as óneidos (ὄνειδος: Nemean 8.33). But here the praise poem itself insults Odysseus—not by calling him kuôn ‘dog’ but {226|227} rather by describing his actions as those of a dog feeding on human flesh. Whereas the righteous indignation of Achilles is formalized in his words of justified blame against Agamemnon, [27] the corresponding indignation of Ajax is taken up by the praise poem itself. But the words of justified blame in Pindar’s Nemean 8 are intended not so much against Odysseus but against the unjustified blame in the quarrel that led to the besting of the heroic Ajax by his deceitful adversary.

12§7. After concluding its retrospective on the quarrel between Ajax and Odysseus, Pindar’s praise poem has this to say about the language of blame:

ἐχθρὰ δ᾽ ἄρα πάρφασις ἦν καὶ πάλαι,
αἱμύλων μύθων ὁμόφοι-
τος, δολοφραδής, κακοποιὸν ὄνειδος
Hateful misrepresentation has existed for a long time,
companion of wily words, deviser of deceit,
maleficent óneidos .

Pindar Nemean 8.32–33

These words serve as a foil for the words that later conclude Pindar’s Nemean 8, where praise poetry itself gets the ultimate praise: [

Thus praise poetry recognizes its own deeply traditional nature by describing itself as a primordial institution. The ideal opposite of óneidos (Nemean 8.34) is presented as kléos (Nemean 8.36), which the righteous man wishes to leave behind for his children when he dies (Nemean 8.36–37). In the same connection, the praise poem presents the function of the righteous man as the function of the praise poet himself:

12§8. We may round out our survey of the word phthónos ‘envy, greed’ as a foil for praise poetry by considering a particularly suggestive occurrence at the beginning of Odyssey xviii. Here we see the beggar Iros making neîkos against Odysseus (νεικείων: Odyssey xviii 9), who is himself disguised as a beggar; in his quoted neîkos (Odyssey xviii 10–13), Iros commands Odysseus to get out of his way, threatening that the present éris between the two of them (ἔρις: Odyssey xviii 13) may escalate from verbal to physical violence (cf. Odyssey xviii 38–39). [32] The disguised master of the household refuses to budge from the doorway, answering Iros with these words:

The collocation of ólbos and phthónos here is striking in view of a traditional theme found time and again in the actual words of praise {228|229} poetry: that ólbos comes from the gods to the righteous and that it attracts the phthónos of the unrighteous (see especially Pindar Nemean 11.29). Ironically, the ólbos of Odysseus himself is now being threatened by the suitors, whose “messenger” Iros has so much phthónos as to hinder our hero from even entering his own household. [
34] Without having to identify himself as the owner, however, Odysseus warns Iros not ‘to have phthónos about the property of others’ (ἀλλοτρίων φθονέειν: Odyssey xviii 18).

12§9. Such excessive phthónos on the part of Iros is directly comparable to phthónos in its function as a traditional negative foil of praise poetry within praise poetry. As we have seen, gluttony is a prime characteristic of phthónos in the diction of praise poetry; [35] hence the saying “words are a morsel for those who have phthónos” (Pindar Nemean 8.21). [36] In fact, we now see from the Homeric description of Iros that his phthónos is manifested in precisely this sort of gluttony; the key word is márgos ‘gluttonous, wanton’:

In the language of praise poetry, the same word márgos characterizes those whose words are inimical to the institution of praise:

In short, a man who is márgos is a man who has the mouth of Éris personified:

Ἔριδός ποτε μάργον ἔχων στόμα
… having the márgon mouth of Éris

Ibycus fr. 311 a P

12§10. From the evidence of such traditional wording, I propose that the story of Iros in effect ridicules the stereotype of an unrighteous {230|231} blame poet. Like the unrighteous blamers who are righteously blamed by praise poetry, Iros has éris ‘strife’ with a good man (Odyssey xviii 13, 38–39) and makes neîkos ‘quarreling’ against him (Odyssey xviii 9). Like the blamers, he is márgos ‘gluttonous’ (cf. Odyssey xviii 2) and has phthónos ‘greed’ for the ólbos ‘prosperity’ that the good man gets from the gods (cf. Odyssey xviii 17–19). [40] Moreover, we have seen that the good man who is praised by a praise poem must be a paragon of generosity (hence á-phthonos ‘without phthónos‘, as in Pindar Olympian 2.94). Now we also see that Odysseus himself is generous even with the provocative Iros (οὐ … φθονέω ‘I have no phthónos‘: Odyssey xviii 16). In fact, this theme of generosity turns out to be crucial for our understanding of the Iros story, as we are about to see from the comparative evidence of ancient Irish tales. One of the most interesting Irish parallels comes from the Second Battle of Mag Tured: it is a story about the Dagdae, a prodigiously generous heroic figure, and Cridenbél, a prodigiously greedy blame poet. [41] Cridenbél was so gluttonous that his mouth grew out from his chest, not from his face. This poet made it his habit to demand from the Dagdae, under the threat of blame, the three best portions of each of the hero’s meals. Noblesse oblige, and the Dagdae’s generosity would never allow him to refuse the blame poet’s demands. As a result, he became ill from malnutrition. At this point, the Dagdae resorts to deceit: he conceals three gold pieces in the three portions demanded by Cridenbél, and the blame poet unwittingly gluts himself to death on gold—ironically an emblem of ultimate prosperity.

12§11. Like the story of Iros in the Odyssey, this story from ancient Irish tradition ridicules the function of the blame poet in society. Such ridicule is of course intensified in the Odyssey by way of presenting Iros as a beggar. But the actual function of the beggar in society is in fact vitally serious in the overall narrative of the Odyssey, as we see from the figure that serves as a positive foil for the beggar Iros, namely Odysseus himself in beggar’s disguise. Odysseus plans specifically to beg for his meals—and the word for ‘meal’ here is daís (Odyssey xvii 11, 19); moreover, he plans to beg from the suitors! A stranger in his own house, the disguised Odysseus is received properly by Telemachus, who gives him food and encourages him to beg from the suitors (Odyssey xvii 336–352); Odysseus responds by praying that Zeus grant ólbos ‘prosperity’ to Telemachus (ὄλβιον εἶναι: Odyssey xvii {231|232} 354). Odysseus proceeds to beg from the suitors, but the chief suitor Antinoos raises objections to the beggar’s presence (Odyssey xvii 360–395). Telemachus rebukes Antinoos: “you want to eat much, instead of giving to the other man” (Odyssey xvii 404). “I myself,” says Telemachus, “have no phthónos” (οὔ τοι φθονέω: Odyssey xvii 400). The climactic moment comes when Odysseus begs from the suitor Antinoos. He addresses him as phílos (Odyssey xvii 415), says that the young man seems like the “best of the Achaeans” (Odyssey xvii 415–416), and promises to make kléos for him in return for generosity (Odyssey xvii 418). Noblesse oblige, but Antinoos refuses. [42] In fact, his refusal not only disqualifies Antinoos himself but also undermines the position of all the other suitors. There is no generosity, says Antinoos, in giving away things that are not one’s own (Odyssey xvii 449–452). By contrast, Odysseus shows the ultimate generosity when he tells the “messenger” of the suitors:

      that he [Odysseus] feels no


      if one gives away things that are not one’s own (


      xviii 16)that he [Iros] is entitled to feel no


      about things that are not his own (


      xviii 17–18).

43] The suitors merit their death—and Iros, his beating—not for eating the food of Odysseus but for actually denying it to him. Odysseus himself formally blames Antinoos for withholding abundant food that belongs to someone else (Odyssey xvii 454–457), and his words of blame are called óneidos by Antinoos (ὀνείδεα: Odyssey xvii 461).

12§12. To make matters worse, Antinoos is so angered by these words of óneidos ‘blame’ that his violence is escalated from the verbal to the physical: he throws a footstool at Odysseus and injures him (Odyssey xvii 462–463). Penelope decries this act as a moral outrage (Odyssey xvii 499–504), in that she considers the beggar to be a xénos ‘guest-stranger’ in the house of Odysseus (Homeric xeînos: Odyssey xvii 501). As we examine the implications of this word xénos, it is appropriate to cite here the formulation devised by Émile Benveniste:

Anyone, then, who would consider even a mere beggar as his or her xénos displays the maximum of generosity, since a beggar stands to offer the minimum in reciprocal services. Thus Telemachus in effect reveals the nobility of his royal family by receiving Odysseus in beggar’s disguise as a xénos (Odyssey xvii 342–355; hence ξείνῳ/ξεῖνε at 345/350). Antinoos, by contrast, proves himself ignoble by his failure to act likewise, and his bad behavior is compounded when he addresses the injured Odysseus sarcastically as a xénos (ξεῖνε: Odyssey xvii 478). Ironically, the father of Antinoos had been treated as a xénos by Odysseus himself (Odyssey xvi 424–432); it is thus appropriate that Odysseus should address Antinoos as phílos at the very moment that he tests him by begging for food (Odyssey xvii 415).

12§13. Different xénoi have different capacities to reciprocate the generosity of their host, and the swineherd Eumaios perceives that the disguised Odysseus is much more than a mere beggar. In other words, the stranger’s capacity to reciprocate is much higher than that of a mere beggar. Thus when Antinoos reproaches Eumaios for inviting “another beggar” to the house of Odysseus (Odyssey xvii 375–379), the swineherd replies as follows:

For Antinoos, these words are meant to convey that Eumaios, being a stranger himself, would not invite a low-ranking stranger, such as a beggar; if the stranger is a beggar, then he did not invite him. For Odysseus, these same words mean that Eumaios considers him a high-ranking stranger, such as a seer, physician, carpenter, or poet; if the stranger is one of these, then he did invite him. The sequence of enumerating the four occupations is arranged in a crescendo of detail, starting with a single word to designate the seer (μάντιν: Odyssey xvii 384) and ending with a whole verse to designate the poet (Odyssey xvii 385). Thus the formal presentation of alternatives implies that the stranger is most likely to be a poet.

12§14. Later on, Eumaios tells Penelope explicitly that the stranger indeed has the powers of a poet:

The disguised Odysseus merits such a compliment from Eumaios not only when he tells the first-person odyssey of the Cretan adventurer, at xiv 192–359, [
49] but also later when he employs a particular form of discourse in asking for an overnight cloak, at xiv 462–506. In these verses, the disguised Odysseus is narrating to Eumaios and his {234|235} friends a story about the Trojan War: it happened on a cold night, during an ambush, that a man was tricked out of his cloak by Odysseus himself, who gave it to his own friend and equal, the narrator! [50] As Leonard Muellner points out, the telling of this story to Eumaios has a parallel purpose: to get a cloak for the disguised Odysseus. [51] “The story is—in more ways than one—proud talk that raises its speaker’s prestige (and almost gives away his identity), [52] but in the Odyssey it receives a moral interpretation … by which Odysseus obtains proper treatment as a guest in the form of … a symbolic mantle.” [53] Significantly, these words of Odysseus constitute a form of discourse that Eumaios himself compliments as an aînos (αἶνος: Odyssey xiv 508). And it is this same word aînos that designates praise poetry within the traditional diction of epinician praise poetry!

12§15. From the evidence of Homeric diction alone, the meaning of aînos may be analyzed further: [54]

In particular, aînos designates a discourse that aims at praising and honoring someone or something or at being ingratiating toward a person. Accidental or not, in Homer the word always defines a polite, edifying speech that is in direct or indirect connection with a gift or a prize. In Iliad XXIII 795 aînos means ‘praise’, as is made evident by the verb kūdaínō (‘to give honor’) of line 793. Achilles repays this aînos with a gift. In the same book, Nestor’s speech—in which he recalls his past deeds and thanks Achilles for his generous gift—is termed an aînos (Iliad XXIII 652). In both poems we find polúainos as an epithet for Odysseus: in at least one passage the word is connected with Odysseus’s cunning (Iliad XI 430), and in Odyssey xiv 508–9 Odysseus’s speech—termed aînos—is explicitly defined as a discourse that will not ‘miss a reward’. In Odyssey xxi 110 Telemachos turns to the suitors, who are ready to compete for Penelope’s hand, and says rhetorically that she does not need any praise (aînos). Yet Telemachos has in fact praised Penelope and enhanced her unique qualities (106–9): he therefore increases the suitors’ willingness to compete for the prize, i.e., for Penelope.

The aînos told by Odysseus to Eumaios is parallel to the epinician praise poetry of the classical period both in name and in details of {235|236} convention. Consider, for example, the elaborate excuse that introduces the story of the cloak as told by Odysseus:

In the epinician praise poetry of the classical period, we find similar formalistic excuses:

Moreover, the festive mood that calls for “singing, laughter, and dancing” (Odyssey xiv 464–465) is reminiscent of the formal setting for the epinician praise poetry of Pindar and Bacchylides: a song-and-dance composition performed in an atmosphere of euphrosúnā ‘mirth’ (e.g., Pindar Nemean 4.1). [

12§17. We have seen, then, from the evidence of Homeric diction that the word aînos designates a mode of poetic discourse appropriate for purposes that go far beyond simply praising a patron. Although aînos becomes the primary word for designating praise poetry even within such poetry, it is also appropriate for designating, more broadly, ‘an allusive tale containing an ulterior purpose’. [60] In the case of the aînos at xiv 508, [61] we see how a tale about a cloak—with the Trojan War as the setting—has won a temporary cloak for the teller as a pledge of the host’s disposition as phílos to his guest. As we compare the epinician praise poetry of Pindar and Bacchylides, which is also traditionally designated by the word aînos, we find that the poetic occasion is of course far more grandiose; nevertheless, the poetic form is essentially parallel. Here too, the central element is the deployment of tales taken from Myth—and the Trojan War serves {237|238} frequently as the setting; [62] these tales, moreover, are arranged to convey an ad hoc message of praise and edification to the victor and his family, who are accordingly obligated as phíloi to the poet. A derivative of aînos even conveys the moralizing tone so characteristic of epinician poetry: the compound par-ainéō ‘advise, instruct’ applies to the edifying instructions given by the Centaur, Cheiron, to the youthful Achilles and also by the poet himself to his young patron (Pindar Pythian 6.23). [63] This derivative word parainéō also applies to the didactic function of the Hesiodic tradition in general, and the application is actually attested in the diction of epinician praise poetry:

Λάμπων δὲ μελέταν
ἔργοις ὀπάζων Ἡσιό
δου μάλα τιμᾷ τοῦτ᾽ ἔπος,
υἱοῖσί τε φράζων παραινεῖ,
ξυνὸν ἄστει κόσμον ἑῷ προσάγων·
καὶ ξένων εὐεργεσίαις ἀγαπᾶται
And Lampon [the patron, father of the victorious athlete],
who adds preparedness to action, honors this épos [poetic utterance] of Hesiod.
He instructs [ par-ainéō ] his sons by telling it to them,
thus bringing communal embellishment to his city.
And he is loved for treating well his xénoi.

Pindar Isthmian 6.66–70

Such a poetic utterance or épos (‘Add preparedness to action!’), which serves as an instructive legacy for the sons of Lampon, is actually attested in the Hesiodic tradition:

μελέτη δέ τοι ἔργον ὀφέλλει
Preparedness aids action.

Hesiod Works and Days 412

12§18. In the sense of ‘an allusive tale containing an ulterior purpose’, [64] the word aînos applies not only to the specific genre of praise poetry but also to the general narrative device of animal fables. In the poetry of Archilochus, for example, we find aînos designating the fable about the fox and the eagle (fr. 174.1W), as well as the fable {238|239} about the ape and the fox (fr. 185.1W). The word is likewise appropriate for designating the animal fables belonging to the tradition of Aesop. [65] In order to understand the formal connection between fable and praise poetry, we may now turn to the aînos about the hawk and the nightingale in Hesiod Works and Days 203–212. [66] I call special attention to the fable’s introductory description of the intended audience:

νῦν δ᾽ αἶνον βασιλεῦσιν ἐρέω φρονέουσι καὶ αὐτοῖς
Now I will tell an aînos for kings, aware as they are.

Hesiod Works and Days 202

Using the language of Prague School linguistics, [
67] we may say that the code of this aînos has a message for kings—but only if they are ‘aware’ (phronéontes, at verse 202). Such a built-in ideology of exclusiveness also pervades the form of aînos that we know as epinician praise poetry. Consider the following programmatic declarations about this genre of poetry by the poetry itself:

φρονέοντι συνετὰ γαρύω
I proclaim things that can be understood to the man who is aware [phronéōn].

Bacchylides 3.85 {239|240}

… φωνάεντα συνετοῖσιν …
… having a sound for those who can understand …

Pindar Olympian 2.85

… ἐπαινέοντι συνετοί
… those who can understand give praise

Pindar Pythian 5.107

Praise poetry is ‘understandable’ (sunetá) only for the man who is ‘aware’ (phronéōn). Only ‘those who can understand’ (the sunetoí) can deliver or hear the message of praise. [
68] Epic also recognizes this ideology of praise poetry, but it finds expression only in terms of quotations presented before an audience of Achaeans. Consider these words addressed by Odysseus to Diomedes:


[ back ] 1. Dumézil 1943; updated in Dumézil 1969.

[ back ] 2. For a convenient collection and correlation of facts, with bibliography, see Caerwyn Williams 1972 and Ward 1973. Cf. also Watkins 1976.

[ back ] 3. Detienne 1973:18–27.

[ back ] 4. For details, see Detienne 1973:19.

[ back ] 5. See also Detienne 1973:18–20.

[ back ] 6. For a survey of passages, see Detienne 1973:21. For the programmatic character of aînos/épainos and ainéō/epainéō as designating the poetic medium of praise, I cite in particular Pindar Olympian 6.12 and Bacchylides 5.16; see also the discussion of praise poetry by Bundy 1962:35.

[ back ] 7. See Maehler 1963:85. As we have seen, the word kléos within the genre of epic denotes the glory conferred upon the hero by epic; see Ch1§2. Note too the word etḗtumon ‘true, genuine’ applied to kléos here in Pindar Nemean 7.63; the significance of this epithet will be discussed at Ch14§12n39.

[ back ] 8. The list I give here is of course incomplete. Moreover, the traditional diction of epic poetry has inherited its corresponding set of words indicating blame, as the discussion that follows will reveal (see esp. Ch14§14). Of course, I do not mean to suggest that all the words in this list intrinsically indicate the concept of blame. In the case of a word like phthónos, for example, I will argue only that it indicates blame when it is being contrasted explicitly or implicitly with praise.

[ back ] 9. On the Pindaric passage in which all these words occur, see Köhnken 1971:24-34.

[ back ] 10. Cf. a parallel contrast of mômos and (ep)anéō ‘praise’ in Theognis 169 (μωμεύμενος and αἰνεῖ), 875-876 (μωμήσαιτο and ἐαινήσαι), and 1079-1080 (μωμήσομαι and αἰνήσω); also in Alcman 1.43–44P (μωμήσθαι and ἐπαινῆν).

[ back ] 11. Cf. ἀφθόνητος αἶνος ‘praise [aînos] without phthónos’ at Pindar Olympian 11.7.

[ back ] 12. The concept of mômos ’blame, reproach’ is associated with the phthonéontes ‘those who have phthónos’ in Pindar Olympian 6.74.

[ back ] 13. Cf. also Köhnken 1971:34–36.

[ back ] 14. Cf. Köhnken 1971:30–32.

[ back ] 15. I.e., the language of phthónos is like eating.

[ back ] 16. My translation veers from the generally accepted interpretation, according to which the subject of ἅπτεται and ἐρίζει at line 22 is to be supplied as φθόνος, implied by φθονεροῖσιν at line 21 (for bibliography, see Köhnken 1971:30n38 and 33n57). The reasons for my interpretation will emerge from the discussion that follows. I should point out, however, that the main thesis of this discussion, that phthónos entails the ‘devouring’ of a good hero, will not depend on whether or not my interpretation here is accepted. See further in Nagy 1996b:143n130.

[ back ] 17. I posit that the thematic development is from the general to the specific: from “one who has phthónos” to “Odysseus.” See again Nagy 1996b:143n130.

[ back ] 18. I.e., Odysseus caused Ajax to kill himself with his own sword. Cf. Pindar Isthmian 4.37, where the subject of ταμών ‘cutting’ is Ajax himself.

[ back ] 19. Nonremembrance is the opposite of being remembered by poetry; on this traditional theme, see Detienne 1973:21–27. Cf. also Ch.1§3 above.

[ back ] 20. We see a clear instance of this theme in Odyssey xviii 1–19, on which see further at §9.

[ back ] 21. At Pindar Nemean 9.23, the verb piaínō is applied in a context where the corpses of the Seven against Thebes ‘fatten’ the smoke of cremation; at line 24, the funeral pyres ‘feasted on’ (daísanto) the heroes. (Only Amphiaraos is exempt: lines 24–26.)

[ back ] 22. Cf. Ch3§3n4.

[ back ] 23. See Faust 1970; also Faust 1969:109–125.

[ back ] 24. Cf. Iliad IX 373.

[ back ] 25. Cf. Ch7§17.

[ back ] 26. From the standpoint of Agamemnon, the blame is of course unjustified.

[ back ] 27. Significantly, Achilles himself is not called a kúōn ‘dog’ (or any of its variants) by any of his adversaries in the Iliad (see the survey by Faust 1970:10–19, column D). When Achilles is blamed for his savagery, the primary image is that of a lion (see Ch7§22), not a dog; this observation may serve as a supplement to the interesting discussion by Faust 1970:24. I concede that the verb hélkō, which denotes the dragging of Hektor’s body by Achilles (Iliad XXII 401, XXIV 52; cf. XXIV 21), also denotes the dragging of corpses by dogs (see especially Iliad XXII 335–336). Nevertheless, the verb that denotes the dragging of victims by lions is also hélkō (Iliad XI 239, XVIII 581).

[ back ] 28. Cf. Köhnken 1971:34–35; also Carey 1976:37.

[ back ] 29. For the function of the praise poem as a “song [húmnos] of the kômos” (adjective epikṓmios; or enkṓmios, as at Pindar Nemean 1.7, Olympian 2.47, etc.), see §20.

[ back ] 30. On the function of the Nemean Games as a ritual extension of “the éris between Adrastos and the Thebans,” cf. Köhnken 1971:35. On the theme of the strife between Eteokles and Polyneikes, see Ch.14§12n39. The strife is caused by the curse of Oedipus, to whom his sons had given the wrong moîra of meat (see Ch.7§16n47); by doing so, Eteokles and Polyneikes were in effect making óneidos against their father (oneideíontes: Thebais fr. 3.2 Allen).

[ back ] 31. For momphā́ as ‘blame’ cf. also the corresponding verb mémphomai as at Pindar Nemean 1.24 (μεμφομένοις).

[ back ] 32. Note that the verbal éris/neîkos at the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis escalates into the physical éris/neîkos of the Trojan War; see Ch.11§12. To put it another way: the words éris/neîkos apply not only to the language of blame but also to the action of physical combat.

[ back ] 33. On the use of this vocative: Brunius-Nilsson 1955.

[ back ] 34. Iros is said to get his name for being messenger of the suitors (Odyssey xviii 6–7); thus the function of Îros is presented as parallel to that of Îris, messenger of the Olympian gods in the Iliad. I see no internal evidence that would justify our dismissing this theme as a haphazard contrivance based on the formal parallelism of Îros and Îris. Indeed, Iros may well have functioned as the figure who quotes actual messages of the suitors in more expanded versions of the story.

[ back ] 35. §§4–5.

[ back ] 36. See §5.

[ back ] 37. As Calvert Watkins points out to me, the syntax in the beginning of this narrative is strikingly parallel to the syntax in what is thought to be the beginning of the comic poem known as the Margites (fr. 1W). Note that the subject of the introductory sentence in Odyssey xviii 1 is ptōkhós ‘beggar’, whereas the corresponding subject in the Margites (fr. 1.1W) is aoidós ‘singer, poet’.

[ back ] 38. Appearances are deceiving, however. The action of the narrative will reveal that Iros indeed has no ī́s or bíē (on the use of bíē as synonym of ī́s: Ch.5§37), since he is bested by his “rival” Odysseus when their éris ‘strife’ escalates from verbal to physical combat (on which see §8n32). Accordingly, those who witness the combat call him Á-īros (Odyssey xviii 73), which may be reconstructed as *u̯īros and glossed etymologically as ‘he who has no force = *u̯īs’. This form serves as a comic correction for what now emerges as the ironically misapplied meaning of Îros as *u̯ī ros ‘he who has force = *u̯īs’. Thus the form Îros seems to be a play on an unattested Greek word *u̯īros, cognate with Latin uir ‘man’, etc. My reasoning here is based on the article of Bader 1976. I must add, however, that Bader’s presentation does not account for the primary connection of Îros with Îris in the narrative (on which see §8n34). The apparent connection of Îros with *u̯īros ‘he who has *u̯īs’ has to be considered secondary from the standpoint of the narrative (see again Odyssey xviii 6–7). Still, the name Îris itself may well be derived from the same root *u̯ī– as in ī́s: see Ch.20§9n49.

[ back ] 39. For kóros ‘satiety’, cf. also Pindar Olympian 1.55–57: the sin of Tantalos is called his kóros in that he could not ‘digest’ (katapépsai) his vast ólbos ‘prosperity’.

[ back ] 40. Cf. Theognis 581–582.

[ back ] 41. See Stokes 1891:64–67 for text and translation. The translation is also conveniently available in Cross and Slover 1936:31–32.

[ back ] 42. See Ch.2§15.

[ back ] 43. See §8. When Telemachus urges Antinoos to give food to the disguised Odysseus, the expression δός οἱ ἑλών ‘take and give to him’ at Odyssey xvii 400 corresponds to δόμεναι καὶ πόλλ᾽ ἀνελόντα ‘take much and give’ at Odyssey xviii 16. In both verses, these expressions are in collocation with οὐ … φθονέω ‘I do not have phthónos’, applying to Telemachus and Odysseus respectively.

[ back ] 44. Benveniste 1969 I:341 = 1973:278.

[ back ] 45. E.g., the speaker himself! For the story, see Odyssey xv 403–484.

[ back ] 46. On the formation of dēmiourgós, see Bader 1965:133–141. The prime concept inherent in the word seems to be social mobility: a dēmiourgós is affiliated with the whole dêmos ‘district’, not with any one household. Note that Ithaca counts as one dêmos (see, e.g., Odyssey i 103, xiv 126, etc.). For more on the semantics of dêmos, see Ch.19§3n20.

[ back ] 47. On the parallelism of artisans and poets, which is presented here as a social reality within the context of the dêmos, see also Ch.17§§10–13.

[ back ] 48. For the visual implications of the verb thélgō ‘put into a trance’ (used here at lines 514 and 521), see Householder/Nagy 1972:769–770.

[ back ] 49. On which see Ch.7§26. Note that dinner time is the context for the performance of this entertaining narrative (Odyssey xiv 192–198).

[ back ] 50. See Muellner 1976:96.

[ back ] 51. Muellner 1976:97.

[ back ] 52. The key word is eúkhomai (εὐξάμενος ‘saying proudly’: Odyssey xiv 463), on which see Muellner, pp. 96–97. Note also the use of eúkhomai ‘I say proudly’ (Odyssey xiv 199) at the beginning of the first-person narrative about the Cretan adventurer.

[ back ] 53. Muellner, pp. 97.

[ back ] 54. Pucci 1977:76. Cf. also Meuli 1975 [= 1954]:739–742 and 751–753.

[ back ] 55. See §14n49.

[ back ] 56. On the use of épos to mean not just ‘utterance, word(s)’ but also ‘poetic utterance’ as quoted by the poetry itself, see Koller 1972, esp. pp. 17 on Tyrtaeus fr. 4.2W. Cf. also Ch.15§7 on Iliad XX 203–205 and Ch.17§12 on Theognis 15–18.

[ back ] 57. My translation emphasizes the up/down motion conveyed by ἀερθείς/ καταθέσθαι. I should add, however, that the combination of καταθέσθαι with χάριν conveys yet another theme, that of fulfilled reciprocity.

[ back ] 58. On the programmatic connotations of euphrosúnā as ‘victory revel’ in epinician poetry, see Bundy 1962:2. In Hymn to Hermes 481–482, the lyre is said to be a means of eüphrosúnē ‘mirth’ at the kômos; on the kômos, see §20.

[ back ] 59. See again §11.

[ back ] 60. For the wording of this definition, see Verdenius 1962:389, who actually cites Odyssey xiv 508.

[ back ] 61. Verdenius (1962:389) also cites an interesting parallel use of the word aînos in Sophocles Philoktetes 1380.

[ back ] 62. For a sound discussion of the mythological paradigm and its function in Pindaric poetry, I cite Köhnken 1971.

[ back ] 63. Surely the words that Phoinix intends for Achilles in Iliad IX, spoken in the presence of an audience of phíloi (Iliad IX 528), qualify for designation by the word paraínesis (abstract noun derived from verb parainéō). See Maehler 1963:47.

[ back ] 64. See again §17.

[ back ] 65. In Aristophanes Birds 651–653, the fable known as “The Fox and the Eagle” is actually attributed not to Archilochus (cf. fr. 174W) but to Aesop (cf. Fable 1 Perry). For more on the Aesopic aînos and its applications in Attic comedy, see Fraenkel 1920. On the classification of the Aesopic fable as aînos, see Quintilian 5.11.19–21 (Aesop Testimonium 98 Perry) and Aelius Theon Progymnasmata 3 (Rhetores Graeci II 72 ff. Spengel; Aesop Testimonium 103 Perry). Aelius Theon also observes that the designation aînos is appropriate because the fables of Aesop have the function of paraínesis (on this word see §17, esp. n. 63). It seems significant in this connection that the adopted son of Aesop is called Aînos in the Life of Aesop tradition (Vita W 103–110 Perry), and that Aesop aims at him what may surely be classified as a paraínesis (Vita W 109–110). The story of Aesop and Ainos is apparently built on themes derived from the traditional story of Achiqar and Nadan (on which see Perry 1952:5–10), but its arrangement of these themes seems to suit the meaning of the word aînos in particular and the social function of the figure Aesop in general. After the adopted son’s treachery against his father has been foiled, Aesop gives a “paraínesis” to Aînos, whereas Achiqar gives both a scourging and a speech of blame to Nadan (see Perry 1952:9). In both versions, the son dies, but his death in the version of the Life of Aesop tradition is idiosyncratic: Ainos is so ‘scourged’ (μαστιγωθείς) by the words of Aesop that he kills himself by jumping off a cliff (Vita W 110). In Vita G 142, Aesop himself dies by jumping off a cliff—instead of being pushed off by the Delphians as in Vita W 142. Finally, we may note that the king of Babylon in the story of Aesop and Ainos is called Lukoûrgos (both Vitae G and W). For more on the name Lukoûrgos (from Lukó-orgos), see Ch.13§7.

[ back ] 66. On which see Puelma 1972 and Pucci 1977:61–62, 76.

[ back ] 67. For the terms code and message, see Jakobson 1960.

[ back ] 68. For the parallel use of sophós ‘well-versed’ to express this ideology of exclusiveness in praise poetry, cf. Maehler 1963:93–95; cf. also Nisetich 1975. For a variation on this theme, where being sophós is the key to understanding the poet’s cryptic message, see Theognis 681–682. Even here, though, the intended audience is the agathoí ‘good’.

[ back ] 69. For more on the context: Ch.2§9.

[ back ] 70. As for the words of instruction spoken by Phoinix to Achilles in Iliad IX (see §17n63), the code seems to bear one message from the speaker and another message to the listener; see Ch.6§16. Note too the argument of Meuli (1975 [= 1954]:742–743n2) that the epithet polúainos of Odysseus (e.g., Odyssey xii 184) means ‘having many aînoi = fables’. I would rephrase: Odysseus is polúainos in that he can speak about many things in code (witness his “Cretan lies”). Compare the discussion of polúphēmos at Ch.1§4n9.

[ back ] 71. See Chantraine I 35–36.

[ back ] 72. See Ch6§§12–19.

[ back ] 73. Sinos 1975:65–79.

[ back ] 74. See also §15n58.

[ back ] 75. Cf. also the verb kōmázō, as at Pindar Nemean 9.1, Pythian 9.89, etc., and the adjective enkṓmios, as at Pindar Nemean 1.7, Olympian 2.47, etc. (cf. §7n29).

[ back ] 76. See again §16.

[ back ] 77. Note the striking parallelism of lines 83–84 with Archilochus fr. 23.14–15W. We now see that being ekhthrós equals ‘to blame’ just as being phílos equals `to praise’. The adjective ekhthrós belongs to the same family as the noun ékhthos, which we have observed in the following Pindaric characterization: ψογερὸν Ἀρχίλοχον βαρυλόγοις ἔχθεσιν / πιαινόμενον ‘Archilochus, having psógos, fattening himself on heavy-worded hatreds [ékhthos plural]’ (Pythian 2.55–56). Discussion at §4. Note too the Pindaric characterization of blame poetry as, by its very origin, ἐχθρὰ … πάρφασις ‘misrepresentation that is hateful [has ékhthos]’ (Nemean 8.32). Discussion at §7.

[ back ] 78. Compare the reciprocity of kléos in Ibycus fr. 282P: at line 48 the word applies to the poet and at line 47 it applies to the patron. See Nagy 1974:250–251 and Watkins 1975:17; cf. also Watkins 1976. For a supplemented text of Ibycus fr. 282P, see now Page 1974 S 151–165.

[ back ] 79. Pickard-Cambridge 1927:15: ‘wolf’s gait’. On the Indo-European motif of the wolf as a figure who is outside of society: Gernet 1936. I owe this reference to O. M. Davidson.

[ back ] 80. On the formal connections between Luk-ámbēs and í-ambos: West 1974:26–27.