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

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14. Pindar’s Homer

§2. To begin, Pindar’s lyric poetry seems to make no distinction between the heroes of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey on the one hand and the heroes of other epic traditions, most notably those of the so-called Epic Cycle, on the other. Within but the briefest space, for example, in Olympian 2.81–83, Pindar’s words recount how Achilles vanquished three heroes, Hektor (81–82), Kyknos (82), and Memnon (83). Whereas Hektor was the main opponent of Achilles in the Iliad, Kyknos figured prominently as his antagonist in the Cyclic Cypria (Proclus, p. 105.2–3 Allen) and Memnon, in the Aithiopis (Proclus, p. 106.1–7). One expert on Pindar remarks about Olympian 2.81–83: “These lines illustrate Pindar’s indebtedness to the post-Homeric epics: from the [Cypria] he draws the episode of the slaying of [Kyknos], and from the Aithiopis of [Arctinus] he derives the translation of Achilles and his slaying of Memnon, a story that haunted Pindar’s {414|415} imagination, for he recurs no less than six times to Memnon in the odes.” [3] Instead, what I propose to emphasize is that Pindar’s lyric poetry treats Cyclic heroes as equivalents of Homeric heroes. At Isthmian 5.39–42, for example, the victims of Achilles are enumerated as Kyknos (39), Hektor (39), Memnon (40–41), and Telephos (41–42); the last of these figures is yet another hero of the Cycle (Cypria/Proclus, p. 104.5–7 Allen). Again at Isthmian 8.54–55, Memnon and Hektor are equated as heroic opponents of Achilles. [4] Even more, Pindar’s lyric poetry seems at times not to distinguish the authorship of the Iliad and Odyssey from the authorship of the Cycle. From Pindar F 265 SM (by way of Aelian Varia Historia 9.15), for example, it appears that Pindar’s words had ascribed the Cypria to Homer. [5] Similarly the words of Callinus (F 6 W) explicitly ascribed the epic Seven against Thebes tradition to Homer, according to Pausanias 9.9.5, who rates this epic as a poem so superior that it is second only to the Iliad and Odyssey (ibid.). [6]

§6. The relationship between the Pindaric tradition and the Homeric is also apparent on the level of metrics. In the case of Pindar we have seen that the heritage of his rhythmical repertory centers on the so-called dactylo-epitrite meters, as attested in the Dorian tradition of Stesichorus, and on the Aeolic meters, as attested in the Aeolian tradition of Sappho and Alcaeus. [12] Of Pindar’s epinician songs, roughly half (twenty-three) are composed in Doric dactylo-epitrite meters, and half (twenty) in Aeolic meters. [13] There is one solitary occurrence, Olympian 2, of a song composed in distinctly Ionic meters. In considering the half-and-half proportion of Doric dactylo-epitrite and Aeolic meters in Pindar, we may note an important analogue in the dactylic hexameter of epic, which can be explained as a synthesis of dactylo-epitrite and Aeolic metrical traditions. [14] Roughly half of the hexameters in Homeric poetry are built with phraseology where the main word break (“) occurs immediately after the sequence – ⏔ – ⏔ –, which can be traced back {416|417} to dactylo-epitrite patterns, and roughly another half where it occurs after the sequence – ⏔ – ⏔ – ⏑, which can be traced back to Aeolic patterns. [15] These two sequences, – ⏔ – ⏔ – ” and – ⏔ – ⏔ – ⏑ “, account for the main caesura, or word break, in 99% of Homeric hexameters. [16] To restate in terms of the colon, [17] the cola of the hexameter as defined by the so-called masculine caesura (– ⏔ – ⏔ – “) seem to be built from the cola of dactylo-epitrite meters as attested in Pindar and of prototypical dactylo-epitrite meters as attested in Stesichorus. As for the cola defined by the so-called feminine caesura (–⏔ – ⏔ – ⏑ “), these in turn seem to be cognate with the cola that we find in the so-called Aeolic meters of Pindar, as also in the Aeolic repertory of Sappho and Alcaeus.

§7. Thus the two metrical patterns that combine as one in Homeric diction, namely, the dactylo-epitrite and the Aeolic, are still by and large separate and autonomous in the diction of Pindar. To put it more strongly: Pindar’s lyric poetry still preserves the separateness of the prototypical components of epic poetry.

§10. Another way to approach the relationship between the traditions of Pindar and Homer is to compare them both with other traditions that reveal close affinities with both. What follows is a brief survey of a few such traditions, including those of Stesichorus, Theognis, Archilochus, Alcaeus, and Sappho. This survey, it is hoped, will yield a final overview of the effects of Panhellenism on the heritage of ancient Greek song and poetry.

§13. A singularly useful point of departure is the Stesichorean rendition of the Helen story, which contrasts its own adherence to one particular localized version with the syncretism of the Homeric Helen tradition of the Iliad and Odyssey. In the Stesichorean version Homer is blamed for representing Helen as having allowed herself to be seduced by Paris: the Homeric version, which says that Helen went with Paris all the way to Troy, is specifically rejected (Stesichorus PMG 193.2–5), as is what seems to be the Hesiodic version, which says that she went as far as Egypt, while her eidōlon ‘image-double’ was taken to Troy (Stesichorus PMG 193.5–7, 12–16). [28] The rejected story about the eidōlon ‘image-double’, with the detail concerning the voyage of Paris and Helen to Egypt (cf. Stesichorus PMG 193.15-16 in conjunction with Hesiod F 176.7 MW), affirms the seduction of Helen since the actual adultery of Paris and Helen traditionally took place during their voyage from Sparta to Egypt (cf. Iliad III 445). The celebrated theme of the palinōidiā ‘recantation’ of Stesichorus has to do with the story that told how this poet had previously blamed Helen, like Homer and Hesiod, by virtue of telling stories about her that were parallel to theirs, only to recant later and then be rewarded with the restoration of his eyesight, which had been taken away by the supernatural powers of Helen as punishment for defamation (Isocrates Helen 64, Conon FGH 26 F 1.18, Plato Phaedrus 243a, Pausanias 3.19.11). [29]

§14. It could be argued that the words of the recantation, as a composition, actually presupposed the story of how Stesichorus was blinded and how he then had a change of heart: this way the restoration of vision would be a {419|420} given of the composition, that is, something that is ostensibly caused by the dramatized here and now of the recantation. The recantation of Stesichorus, featuring the restoration of his vision, not only denies the Homeric tradition but also reaffirms another tradition that happens to acknowledge explicitly the thought patterns associated with the cult of Helen as a local goddess. According to Pausanias 3.19.11, the story of Helen and the blinding of Stesichorus is a tradition stemming from the city-state of Kroton, also shared by Himera, the traditional provenience of Stesichorus; in this version Helen abides on the sacred Island of Leuke, as consort of Achilles, through the agency of the gods; from there she sends word to Stesichorus that he compose a recantation. Thus the recantation of Stesichorus seems to be a theme that also reaffirms the traditions native to Kroton and Himera. More important for the moment, the recantation of Stesichorus presupposes the distinctness of Stesichorus and his lyric poetry from the likes of Homer and his epic poetry, in light of another tradition claiming that Homer himself had been blinded as punishment for his having defamed Helen through his story of Helen at Troy (Life of Homer VI 51–57 Allen; Plato Phaedrus 243a). [30]

§16. The variability of the Helen story in fact served as a touchstone in ancient controversies over the attribution of given compositions to Homer. For example, Herodotus has to go out of his way to argue, apparently against beliefs held within certain traditions in his own time, that the poet of the Cypria is not Homer (2.116–117). Herodotus makes his argument on the grounds that the Cypria has Paris and Helen sail directly, within the space of three days, from Sparta to Troy (2.117). The version of the Cypria known to Herodotus is different from the one summarized by Proclus, where we do find the elaboration of one sidetracking: a storm sent by Hera blows Paris and Helen off course and they land at Sidon, but then they sail from there directly to Troy (Cypria/Proclus, p. 103.9–12 Allen). In contrast the Homeric poems, as Herodotus points out, allow for at least two sidetrackings, one at Sidon and one in Egypt (2.116, quoting from Iliad VI 289–292 and Odyssey iv 227–230, 251–252), though these sidetrackings are clearly subordinated by the narrative (as Herodotus also points out: 2.116.1). It is the more complex pattern of {420|421} the Homeric poems, where one level of narrative is being subordinated to another, as contrasted with the more simple pattern of the Cypria, that convinces Herodotus that the poet of the Cypria cannot be Homer. Since “Homer” allows for variation in the Helen story and the poet of the Cypria does not, Herodotus infers that the latter cannot be “Homer.” The greater tolerance for variation is for me a sign of relatively wider Panhellenism. [32]

§21. The essence of Stesichorean lyric poetry is not that a given local version, as ordinarily formalized in the song of the chorus, has won out over the Panhellenic version, as formalized in the poetry of Homer. Rather it may be described as a local version in the process of making a bid for Panhellenic status. Such a description fits the lyric poetry of Pindar as well. A typical Pindaric composition presents itself as local in foundation, expressed through the performance of the chorus, and as Panhellenic in intent, expressed through the links of the song with the Homeric world of heroes. But the actual poetry of Homer must be made to look too compromising in face of the uncompromising standard proclaimed by Pindaric song. What we have already observed in the case of Stesichorus applies to Pindar as well: his tradition too puts a strong emphasis on its association with the visual metaphor, {422|423} as distinct from the auditory metaphor that marks the Homeric tradition, and an equally strong emphasis on the truth-value of local traditions grounded in cult, as distinct from the synthetic complexities attributed to Homer. Just as the voice of Stesichorus in his Helen song proclaims that his version of the logos ‘tale’ of Helen is etumos ‘genuine’ by virtue of claiming that the Homeric version is the opposite (Stesichorus PMG 192.1), so also the voice of Pindar, as it proclaims in Nemean 7 its mission to praise what is noble, claims the control of a kleos ‘glory’ that is etētumon ‘genuine’ (verse 63). [42] Earlier in the same song, the logos ‘tale’ of and by the crafty Odysseus, as retold with commensurate craft by Homer, is described as going beyond the bounds of alētheia ‘truth’, to which most men are “blind” without the “vision” that is implicit in Pindar’s lyric poetry, an uncompromising unified vision that defends the true value of heroes from the compromising complexities of mūthoi ‘myths’, which are the “hearsay” of Homer:

ἐγὼ δὲ πλέον’ ἔλπομαι | λόγον Ὀδυσσέος ἢ πάθαν διὰ τὸν ἀδυεπῆ Ὅμηρον· | ἐπεὶ ψεύδεσί οἱ ποτανᾷ <τε> μαχανᾷ σεμνὸν ἔπεστί τι· σοφία δὲ κλέπτει παράγοισα μύθοις. τυφλὸν δ’ ἔχει | ἦτορ ὅμιλος ἀνδρῶν ὁ πλεῖστος. εἰ γὰρ ἦν | ἓ τὰν ἀλάθειαν ἰδέμεν, οὔ κεν ὅπλων χολωθεὶς | ὁ καρτερὸς Αἴας ἔπαξε διὰ φρένων | λευρὸν ξίφος

Pindar Nemean 7.20–27

§24. There is a particularly striking example of the proclaimed multiplicity of the ainos in a Pindaric song where the wise words of the hero Amphiaraos, who is being represented in the act of instructing his son Amphilokhos, are being directly quoted. The hero’s words of instruction center on the image of an octopus:

ὦ τέκνον, ποντίου θηρὸς πετραίου | χρωτὶ μάλιστα νόον | προφέρων πάσαις πολίεσσιν ὁμίλει· | τῷ παρεόντι δ’ ἐπαινήσαις ἑκὼν | ἄλλοτ’ ἀλλοῖα φρόνει

Pindar F 43 SM

There is a close parallel in the poetry of Theognis, another of the poetic figures whose traditions we are considering as points of comparison with the traditions of Pindar and Homer. In this parallel from Theognis, the central image is again that of an octopus, as the voice of the poet issues the following instruction:

πουλύπου ὀργὴν ἴσχε πολυπλόκου, ὃς ποτὶ πέτρῃ
τῇ προσομιλήσῃ, τοῖος ἰδεῖν ἐφάνη.
νῦν μὲν τῇδ’ ἐφέπου, τοτὲ δ’ ἀλλοῖος χρόα γίνου.
κρέσσων τοι σοφίη γίνεται ἀτροπίης

Theognis 215–218

To be atropos ‘not versatile’ is the opposite of polutropos ‘versatile in many ways’, epithet of Odysseus (Odyssey i 1), who is actually compared in epic to an octopus (Odyssey v 432–433), and whose qualities of resourcefulness and versatility are being implicitly advocated by the poetics of Theognis as a key to the survival of values worth saving even in disguise, as the figure of the speaker is moving from city to city. We see in the symbol of the octopus the very essence of ainos.

§25. The ainos is multiple, outwardly ever-changing as the poet moves from city to city, like the disguised Odysseus who tests the inner value of the many different people whom he meets in his travels. [53] Each person who is encountered by Odysseus after his homecoming in Ithaca is effectively being challenged to look beyond the hero’s outer appearance as a debased beggar and to recognize his inner reality as a noble king whose authority is eventually being reestablished in the Odyssey, a process that parallels the eventual reconstitution of the very identity of Odysseus through a series of encounters {425|426} with the population of Ithaca. [54] Thus the ainos is also singular, inwardly constant, bearing a true message that is hidden amidst a plethora of possible false interpretations. [55] We may compare the fable of “The Fox and the Hedgehog” as attested in Archilochus F 201 W, where the fox is said to know (verb oida) many things, while the hedgehog knows ἓν μέγα ‘one big thing’. This traditional dichotomy between the multiplicity of the fox and the unitarianism of the hedgehog can be used in support of emending the textually corrupt phrase πολλῶν γνουσαν ἔτι in Theognis 670, which can be read as πολλῶν γνοὺς ἓν ἔτι ‘for I know one thing far better than many other things’. [56] This one thing that is known, introduced by οὕνεκα at Theognis 671, is a riddle concerning the crisis of the Ship of State beset by a seastorm of social strife (671–680). [57] When the image of the Ship of State concludes, the poem refers to it as an ainigma ‘riddle’:

ταῦτά μοι ᾐνίχθω κεκρυμμένα τοῖς ἀγαθοῖσιν

Theognis 681

Let these things be riddling utterances [= ainigmata], hidden by me for the noble [agathoi].

§28. This function of the ainos, as proclaimed by the poetics of Pindar, is traditional, shared by the older poetics of Stesichorus. True, these two traditions of lyric poetry are strikingly different in some respects, as we see from the contrasting principles of thematic compression in the typical Pindaric composition on the one hand and on the other of expansion, veering toward epic dimensions, in the typical Stesichorean composition. Still they are strikingly similar in their social purpose, which is to instruct and thus maintain the prestige of a given community by way of selecting those Panhellenic values that reinforce its local interests. Like Pindar, Stesichorus is an exponent of the ainos.

§29. In fact the Stesichorean ainos can assume the specialized form of a fable, as we see from as many as four attested stories reporting various situations where the figure of Stesichorus warns a given city against violence or tyranny. [62] In one of these, as reported by Aristotle Rhetoric 1394b35 (Stesichorus PMG 281b), Stesichorus warns the people of Locri that they should not be hubristai ‘men of hubris’, and his words are described as ainigmatōdē ‘like ainigmata [riddling utterances]’ (ibid.). We may compare the words of warning to the people of Megara, as encoded in the celebrated image of the ship threatened by a storm at sea, in Theognis 667-682, where the poetry refers to its message as ταῦτά μοι ᾐνίχθω ‘let these words of mine be ainigmata [riddling utterances]’ (681). [63] Aristotle (ibid.) specifies the image used by Stesichorus in his words of warning to the people of Locri: it is a theme from the world of fable, a riddling reference to tettīges ‘cicadas’ {427|428} singing on the ground (χαμόθεν; instead of trees, as in Hesiod Works and Days 583). In another reference to the same theme, within the larger context of a discussion of metaphor, Aristotle describes this same fable-image as an example of τὰ εὖ ᾐνιγμένα ‘well-made ainigmata [allusive utterances]’ (Rhetoric 1412a22). We should note that the figure of the tettīx ‘cicada’ is a symbol of the poet specifically within the format of the ainos, as in the case of Archilochus F 223 W. [64]

§30. Another of the four aforementioned stories where the figure of Stesichorus warns the people of a given city in the form of a fable, that is, in a specialized aspect of the ainos, is the story of “The Horse and the Deer,” reportedly narrated by Stesichorus to the people of Himera on the occasion of their choosing Phalaris as tyrant of their polis (Aristotle Rhetoric 1393b8; Stesichorus PMG 281a). [65] This particular fable is cited by Aristotle as a direct parallel to the fable of “The Fox and the Hedgehog,” reportedly narrated by Aesop to the people of Samos on the occasion of their impending execution of a “demagogue” (Aristotle Rhetoric 1093b22; Aesop Fable 427 Perry). [66] In yet another of the four stories, as reported by Conon FGH 26 F 1.42, Stesichorus is again telling the people of Himera the fable of “The Horse and the Deer,” and the word used here by the source to designate the fable is actually ainos (1.42.1), but this time the fable is directed not against Phalaris but another Sicilian tyrant figure, Gelon, who is portrayed as making overtures to the people of Himera (ibid.). [67] Finally, in a fragment of a story reported by Philodemus On Music, p. 18 Kemke, Stesichorus is pictured as putting a stop to discord among the people of a city, by singing in their midst, just as Terpander had reputedly done in Sparta (ibid.); in another mention of this parallelism between Stesichorus and Terpander, Philodemus describes the social discord as stasis (On Music, p. 87).

§31. Such evidence illustrates the fundamental meaning of ainos, as I have defined it from the start: “An affirmation, a marked speech-act, made by and for a social group.” [68] As for the social group by which and for which the ainos is encoded in Archaic Greek poetry, it is clearly the polis. Thus, for example, the figure of Theognis, as an exponent of the ainos, can be portrayed as the lawgiver of his own city (Theognis 543–546, 805–810) [69] or as {428|429} the kubernētēs ‘pilot’ of the Ship of State caught in the crisis of a seastorm of social strife (667–682). [70] In this context of the storm besetting the Ship of State, the righteous man is represented as having lost his own khrēmata (Theognis 667). Such a righteous man, exponent of the ainos, is conventionally alienated from the polis of his own time and place. He can be in despair about ever having the chance to witness, in his lifetime, the tisis ‘retribution’ of Zeus (Theognis 345) against the unjust men who forcibly seized his khrēmata ‘possessions’ (346) and who seem to go unpunished. These unjust men turn out to be the false philoi who have betrayed the just man, the one who navigates like a kubernētēs ‘pilot’ (Theognis 575–576). [71] These are the men who seize khrēmata by force (Theognis 677) as they depose the kubernētēs (675-676) in the Ship of State afflicted by the seastorm of social strife. [72] Clearly the loss of khrēmata ‘possessions’ by the righteous man (667), speaker of the ainigmata ‘riddles’ concerning the Ship of State (681), is linked to the forcible seizure of khrēmata by the unrighteous (677), who have mutinied against the kubernētēs ‘pilot’ (675–676) and who have thereby caused the breakdown of the kosmos ‘social order’ (677). In Pindar’s Isthmian 2, this same word khrēmata is used in a context where one of the Seven Sages, [73] in reaction to his personal loss of both property and friends (11), exclaims bitterly: χρήματα χρήματ’ ἀνήρ ‘Man is nothing more than khrēmata! Yes, khrēmata!’ (ibid.). Another variation on this bitter reaction is quoted in the lyric poetry of Alcaeus (F 360 V), again in a context where the Sage, named here as Aristodemos of Sparta, is bewailing the equation of self-worth with purely material value. [74]

§32. The poet’s negative outlook on his own situation, as he stands bereft of his possessions and betrayed by his friends, translates ultimately into a positive message, a genuine teaching, for the polis. Thus Pindar’s quotation of the Sage’s bitter words, to the effect that man is nothing but material possessions, that is, khrēmata (Isthmian 2.11), is followed by the following direct address to the recipient of Pindar’s words of praise and instruction: ἐσσὶ γὰρ ὦν σοφός ‘for you are skilled [i.e., in decoding these words]’ (2.12). That the hearer of poetry or song must be sophos ‘skilled’ in decoding its words is a mark of the ainos. [75] As is evident in the poetry of Theognis, the alienation that marks the poet’s own there and then on the level of narrative becomes transformed, as a teaching, into the integration that ostensibly marks the audience’s here and now on the level of the ainos conveyed by the narrative. [76] In the polis of the past, the setting of the narrative, the figure of the {429|430} poet decries the ongoing destruction of the social order, the kosmos (κόσμος δ’ ἀπόλωλεν Theognis 677); in the polis of the present, however, which is the audience of the ainos conveyed by such narrative, the same word kosmos means simultaneously both the sum total of its inherited social order (e.g., Herodotus 1.65.4, in the case of Sparta) and the cohesion of its poetic tradition, which upholds that social order (e.g., Pindar F 194 SM, in the case of Thebes). [77] The themes of Theognis will be sung time and again by future generations of youths, in the integrative atmosphere of feasts and symposia, ‘in good kosmos’ (εὐκόσμως 242). [78]

§34. As a representative of the polis, Archilochus becomes a founder of a duplicated Parian society at Thasos, simply by virtue of Archilochean poetry. Archilochus becomes an expression of the function of his poetry. In that sense he is generic. So too are the other characters who figure in the Archilochus tradition. There is, for example, Lukambēs (as in Archilochus F 38 W), whose name is connected with the very notion of iambos ‘iamb’. [82] Also there is Kharilāos (Archilochus F 168.1 W), whose name suggests the programmatic notion of ‘mirth’ for the community. [83] Further, the mother of {430|431} Archilochus is reportedly a ‘slave-woman’ called Enīpō (Critias 88 B 44 DK in Aelian Varia Historia 10.13), whose name is formed from the noun enīpē, meaning ‘reproach’ and specifically applicable to blame poetry. [84] The father of Archilochus is Telesikleēs (e.g., Archilochus T 2 Tarditi), whose name combines the notion of poetic fame or kleos with the notion of rites as conveyed by the element telesi– (related to telea ‘rites’). [85] Similarly an earlier ancestor of Archilochus is Tellis, husband of one Kleoboia, who is reputed to have introduced the rites of Demeter to Thasos (Archilochus T 121 Tarditi by way of Pausanias 10.28.3); [86] we are reminded of the Archilochus fragment where the poet is represented as participating in the rites of Demeter and Kore (F 322 W). As for Kleoboia ‘having poetic fame [kleos] for cows’, the name corresponds to the myth where the young Archilochus meets the Muses, who trade him a lyre, and the skill of poetry that goes with it, for the cow that he is tending (Mnesiepes Inscription, Archilochus T 4.27–30 Tarditi). [87]

§35. In the local myth Telesikles, the father of Archilochus, ‘announces’ the colonization of Thasos, but Archilochus leads it. The story goes (Oenomaus, Archilochus T 116 Tarditi) that Telesikles consults the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, where he is told:

ἄγγειλον Παρίοις, Τελεσίκλεες, ὥς σε κελεύω
νήσῳ ἐν Ἠερίῃ κτίζειν εὐδείελον ἄστυ.

Delphic Oracle no. 230 PW

Announce to the Parians, Telesikles, that I order you
to found a sunlit city on the island of Aeria [= Thasos].

The narrative goes on to say explicitly that had Telesikles not ‘announced’ the command of the Oracle, Archilochus would not have led a colonizing expedition to Thasos and Thasos would never have been colonized by Paros (Oenomaus ibid.). In a variant (again Oenomaus: Archilochus T 114 Tarditi), Archilochus himself consults the Oracle, after having lost his property {431|432} ἐν πολιτικῇ φλυαρίᾳ ‘in the course of some political foolishness’ (Oenomaus ibid.), and he is told directly to colonize Thasos:

Ἀρχίλοχ’ εἰς Θάσον ἐλθὲ καὶ οἴκει εὐκλέα νῆσον

Delphic Oracle no. 232 PW

Archilochus! Go to Thasos and colonize that island of good kleos.

In yet another variant (Oenomaus, Archilochus T 115 Tarditi) [
88] the Oracle says to Telesikles that Archilochus will be immortalized in poetry:

ἀθάνατός σοι παῖς καὶ ἀοίδιμος, ὦ Τελεσίκλεις,
ἔσσετ’ ἐν ἀνθρώποις

Delphic Oracle no. 231 PW

Your son, Telesikles, will be immortal, a subject of song among men.

It is clear that the fame of Archilochus is linked with the theme of his colonizing Thasos, a theme that is also dramatized in his poetry.

§44. Approaching the end of this retrospective survey of Panhellenism in Archaic Greek lyric, we arrive at perhaps the most subtle example, the case of Sappho and Alcaeus. Here too, as with the other traditions that we have examined, we find the claim to Panhellenic or catholic status. For example, the expression πέρροχος ὠς ὄτ᾽ ἄοιδος ὀ Λέσβιος ‘outstanding like the poet from Lesbos’ in Sappho F 106 V, words of praise for Terpander as the ‘poet of Lesbos’ who is supreme among poets, [103] presupposes the international status of Terpander, as we see from the parallel theme in a proverb associated with the traditions of Sparta, μετὰ Λέσβιον ᾠδόν ‘second in rank only to the poet from Lesbos’ (Suda s.v.). [104] By implication Sappho’s lyric poetry stems {434|435} from the traditions of the first-ranking poet of lyric, Terpander. In the Dorian tradition of Pindar, we have seen a comparable acknowledgment of Terpander, but here the stress is on the Dorian layer of the tradition, which was superimposed on the Aeolian layer of Terpander’s native Lesbos when he came to Sparta (Pindar F 191 SM). [105] This superimposition is reflected in the dialectal layering of Pindaric diction: dominant Doric, recessive Aeolic, and residual Ionic. [106] But there are earlier stages of superimposition reflected in the dialectal layering of Sappho and Alcaeus: dominant Aeolic synthesized with recessive Ionic. [107] We may add the testimony of Cologne Papyri 5860, where Sappho is described as the ‘educator’ of the aristai, the female élite, of Lesbos and Ionia. To say that Sappho is an ‘educator’ is a prosaic way of saying that her assumed role, through her lyric poetry, is that of khorēgos ‘chorus leader’, speaking both to and about members of an aggregate of female characters who are bound together by ties that correspond to the ties that bind a chorus together. [108] The ties that bind together the circle of Sappho are not local but international, that is, inter-polis, as we see from the reference to her being an ‘educator’ of the élite in Lesbos and in Ionia at large. The stance of the poet is local, even personal, but the impact is Panhellenic, in that the self-expression of the lyric poetry is not exclusive, understandable only for the local community. The local color is shaded over except insofar as any detail may already have a claim to Panhellenic fame. The Panhellenic impact of Sappho and Alcaeus accounts for the reports of performances at symposia of compositions attributed to them (e.g., Plutarch Sympotic Questions 622c in the case of Sappho, Aristophanes F 223 Kock [= 235 KA] in the case of Alcaeus). [109]

§47. In the earlier phases, then, of Greek lyric poetry, the trend of Panhellenization entails an ongoing recomposition of not only the poetry but also the identity of the poet, which is appropriated by the poetry. But things are changing in the later phases of Greek lyric poetry, in the era of Pindar and such contemporaries as Simonides and Bacchylides. This is the era when the system of reciprocity within the community at large, as represented by the polis, is breaking down. [114] It is an era when individuals can achieve the power to overreach the polis itself, and the pattern of overreaching extends to the realm of song. As I have argued, such power includes the specific power to arrest the ongoing process of recomposition by the polis, so that both poetry and poet can become Panhellenic and yet remain unchanging, unchanged. In this brave new world, the craft of song is ever in danger of shifting from an expression of community to an expression of the individual. That individual is the expressing poet on the one hand and the expressed patron, the “great” man of overarching power, on the other. The power of the individual is a potential threat as well as a boon to the community. In the real world, the “great” men who are being praised are the potential tyrants and quasityrants that are being generated by the aristocracy. In the ideological world of a poet like Pindar, in contrast, the aristocracy remains an ideal that must resist the degeneration that breeds tyrants. That ideal is still expressed through Pindar’s traditional medium, the ainos. The ainos is not only Panhellenic. {436|437} Unlike epic, which is exclusively Panhellenic, a delocalized synthesis of native traditions, the ainos purports to be both Panhellenic and local, grounding its Panhellenized truth-values in the legitimacy and authority of native traditions, which shift from city to city and which are the context for the here and now of performance. The tyrant may attempt to use the ainos for his own political ends, but the ainos of a poet like Pindar is also a world apart, drawing its strength from the values of the heroic past that is Pindar’s Homer.

§49. The presence of heroic narrative in Pindar is the continuation of a living tradition, not the preservation of references to lost epic texts. As for things Homeric, they do not necessarily survive in Pindar as the Homer that we know—even if Pindar calls them Homer’s tradition—because the two traditions of Homeric poetry and Pindaric song, though they are cognate with each other, each have their own momentum and direction of development. This is not to say that Pindaric song cannot “cite” Homer. But the form in which Homer is “cited” is a transformation of Homer, in metrical frames that are basic to Pindar’s form though admittedly cognate with Homer’s form. The Homeric themes are also transformed within the poetic requirements of Pindar’s cognate medium. From the lofty vantage point of Pindaric song, Homer is Pindar’s Homer. Pindaric song is both staying in the present and reaching back into the past within itself. It does not have to go outside for the purpose of bringing the epic inside. Epic is within it, and from it epic shall forever flow.


[ back ] 1. Ch.6.

[ back ] 2. Ch.6, Ch.7.

[ back ] 3. Farnell 1932.21. Cf. Stoneman 1981, especially Ch. 2§26.

[ back ] 4. While taking into account these passages, Nisetich 1989.70–72 nonetheless argues for “Pindar’s preference of the Iliad over the poems of the epic cycle” (p. 70). I prefer to say, instead, that Pindar’s tradition, evolving as it does well into the fifth century, is therefore responsive to the evolution of epic tradition, crystalized at a much earlier stage. The basic fact in the evolution of early Greek epic tradition is that the Iliad and Odyssey achieved a preeminence over the Cycle: see Ch.2. Accordingly, we may expect cases where this preeminence is reflected in Pindaric references to epic. The point remains, however, that there are also cases where Pindar’s wording makes no distinction between versions proper to the Iliad and those that we find in the Cycle (as Nisetich concedes at pp. 71–72).

[ back ] 5. Nisetich, p. 73n2, concedes that we may indeed have here a case where the authorship of the Cycle is being attributed by Pindar to Homer, but he insists that Pindar would still have thought the Iliad to be superior to the Cypria. I prefer a different perspective: if indeed we understand Aelian correctly, and Pindar’s words had really referred to Homer as the poet of the Cypria, I would interpret this reference to mean that Pindar’s tradition accepts the rhapsodic tradition of performing the Cypria as the genuine Homeric tradition.

[ back ] 6. See Chs. 1§10, 2§44, 2§49.

[ back ] 7. Cf. Ch. 2§27 and following.

[ back ] 8. On the notion of evolutionary differentiation in Homeric and Hesiodic poetry, see Ch. 2§3, 2§6.

[ back ] 9. Cf. again Farnell 1932.21.

[ back ] 10. Detailed discussion at Ch. 7§3 and following. For reinforcement from the self-references of epic, see Ch. 6§89 and following.

[ back ] 11. Cf. Ch. 7§3 and following.

[ back ] 12. Cf. Ch. 1§54 and following.

[ back ] 13. In reaching these figures, I am counting Isthmian 3 and 4 as one composition; also I am including the fragmentary Isthmian 9. In Olympian 13, there is an exceptional case of coexistence between dactylo-epitrite and Aeolic, with Aeolic modulating into dactylo-epitrite.

[ back ] 14. Cf. Appendix §27 and following.

[ back ] 15. In the survey of Archaic hexameters by West 1982.36, the overall ratio of occurrences in word breaking shaped – ⏔ – ⏔ – ” and – ⏔ – ⏔ – ⏑ ” is respectively 3:4. On the dactylo-epitrite and Aeolic associations of the patterns – ⏔ – ⏔ – ” and – ⏔ – ⏔ – ⏑ ” respectively in hexameter, see Appendix §27 and following.

[ back ] 16. West ibid. gives the following statistics for the nonoccurrence of the main caesura: 1.4% in the Iliad, 0.9% in the Odyssey.

[ back ] 17. On this term, see Appendix §2.

[ back ] 18. Cf. Appendix §19–20.

[ back ] 19. On the dialectal hierarchy of dominant Doric and recessive Aeolic in Pindaric diction, see Palmer 1980.123–127. On the Ionisms in Pindar, see, for example, Palmer, p. 125. These Ionisms need not be interpreted as direct borrowings from “Homer” but rather as reflexes of an Ionic tradition cognate with the Homeric.

[ back ] 20. On which see Ch. 3§7, 3§21.

[ back ] 21. On the evidence for Ionic in Lesbian poetic diction, see the summary in Bowie 1981.136.

[ back ] 22. Cf. Ch. 3§21.

[ back ] 23. I cite again, for an overview of the dialectal texture of choral lyric traditions, Palmer 1980.119–130.

[ back ] 24. Cf. Ch. 14§3.

[ back ] 25. Cf. Ch. 14§6. Roughly another half of Homeric hexameters is taken up by phraseological patterns where the main word break occurs immediately after the sequence – ⏔ – ⏔ – ⏑ (“feminine” caesura).

[ back ] 26. Cf. Appendix §27 and following.

[ back ] 27. Cf. Ch. 1§54 and following.

[ back ] 28. Cf. Cingano 1982.32. On the eidōlon ‘image-double’ of Helen at Troy (Stesichorus PMG 193.5 and 14), see also Hesiod F 358 MW. On the faulting of Helen for being seduced by Paris, see also Stesichorus PMG 223 in conjunction with Hesiod F 176.7. Cf. Kannicht 1969 I 38–41.

[ back ] 29. Kannicht 1969 I 28–29 argues, from the wording of Isocrates Helen 64, that the blaming and the recantation would have taken place not in two separate poems but within a single poem, where Stesichorus shifts from blaming to recantation. Cf. also Woodbury 1967. In the discussion that follows, I propose to build on this argument by positing a dramatized change of heart within the framework of the composition. For other sources concerning the recantation of Stesichorus, see Cingano 1982.22–23, who argues that Stesichorus was traditionally credited with two, not one, recantations offered to Helen.

[ back ] 30. Other references in Cingano, p. 31n42.

[ back ] 31. Cf. Ch. 1§12.

[ back ] 32. Cf. Ch. 2§27 and following.

[ back ] 33. Ibid.

[ back ] 34. For an updated repertory, see Stesichorus SLG 88–147.

[ back ] 35. Cf. Appendix §27. I avoid saying that the lyric poetry of Stesichorus is a direct prototype of the lyric poetry of Pindar. Similarly I avoid saying that the lyric poetry of Sappho and Alcaeus is another direct prototype.

[ back ] 36. See Ch. 2§32.

[ back ] 37. Fuller discussion in N 1979.16–17.

[ back ] 38. See Ch. 2§27.

[ back ] 39. See Chs. 2§10, 9§1.

[ back ] 40. Cf. Ch. 5§10, 5§14. Cf. Burnett 1988.129–147, with special reference to Stesichorus.

[ back ] 41. Cf. Ch. 12§46.

[ back ] 42. Quoted at Ch. 6§2. Commentary in N 1979.222–223. For an instance of etumos ‘genuine’ as applied to logos, in the sense of ‘what men tell’, see Pindar Pythian 1.68, where we note that the collocation includes the verb diakrīnō in the sense of ‘discriminate’ what is genuine from what is false.

[ back ] 43. This word can be understood in the context of Odyssey i 5: polla … pathen algea ‘he experienced many pains’. The multiplicity of Odysseus’ experiences is thematically pertinent. On the convention of juxtaposing a single absolute alētheia ‘truth’ with a multiplicity of mūthoi ‘myths’, which are deceptive, see Ch. 2§28 and following.

[ back ] 44. Cf. Ch. 6§56.

[ back ] 45. It is typical of Panhellenic poetics to juxtapose a single absolute alētheia ‘truth’ with the multiplicity of mūthoi ‘myths’, which are deceptive because they are mutually contradictory, like the lies of Odysseus; see N 1982.47–49. Also Ch. 2§27 and following.

[ back ] 46. Cf. Ch. 2§27 and following.

[ back ] 47. Further discussion in N 1979.231–242, especially Ch. 8§28.

[ back ] 48. N 1979.222–223.

[ back ] 49. N, pp. 241–242. Cf. Hubbard 1985.99–100.

[ back ] 50. These “quoted” words of Amphiaraos to Amphilokhos are described as a parainesis by Athenaeus 513c; cf. also the cognate passage, composed in dactylic hexameters and not attributed to any specific author, cited by Athenaeus 317ab. In this passage, the word that designates the different communities is not polis but dēmos (on which see Ch. 2§10).

[ back ] 51. The verb prosomileō ‘associate with’ anticipates a person or community of persons as an object, as at Theognis 31-32, but here the language of the tenor (“a person associates with a certain kind of company”) crosses over into the language of the vehicle (“just as an octopus clings to a certain kind of rock”). For the terms tenor and vehicle: Richards 1936.96. Cf. Steiner 1986, especially p. 2. Further application of Richards’ terms in Petegorsky 1982.

[ back ] 52. This passage is cited by Athenaeus 317a, as a parallel to the anonymous passage in dactylic hexameters “quoting” the instructions of the hero Amphiaraos to his son Amphilokhos.

[ back ] 53. Cf. Ch. 8§23 and following, especially Ch. 8§29.

[ back ] 54. Cf. N 1979.231–237; also 1983.36 (with p. 52n5) and 1985.75–76.

[ back ] 55. Ibid.

[ back ] 56. See van Groningen 1966.265. We may compare Sophocles Electra 690: ἓν δ’ ἴσθι ‘I want you to know this one thing’.

[ back ] 57. Cf. Ch. 6§6.

[ back ] 58. On the implication of a mantis at Theognis 682, see the commentary by N 1985.24–25.

[ back ] 59. N, p. 76.

[ back ] 60. Extensive discussion in N 1985.74–81.

[ back ] 61. Cf. Ch. 6§2 and following, especially Ch. 6§89.

[ back ] 62. There is a list in West 1971.302–303. On the ambivalence of the ainos in either warning about tyranny or on other occasions praising given tyrants as “kings,” see Ch. 6§53 and following.

[ back ] 63. See Ch. 6§6; also N 1985.22–24.

[ back ] 64. N 1979.302.

[ back ] 65. As Lefkowitz 1981.34 points out, Phalaris was tyrant of Akragas, not Himera. But perhaps the story here concerns an invitation issued by one city to the tyrant of another, as in the story about Stesichorus and Gelon, to be discussed presently.

[ back ] 66. This fable of “The Fox and the Hedgehog” is cognate with what we find in Archilochus F 201 W, discussed at Ch. 14§26.

[ back ] 67. We may compare the stories about Aesop and his warnings to the people of Samos, by way of fables directed against the tyrant Croesus of Lydia: Ch. 11§17 and following.

[ back ] 68. Cf. Ch. 1§26; also Ch. 6§2.

[ back ] 69. Commentary in N 1985.36–38.

[ back ] 70. Commentary in N, pp. 22–24, 63, 64–68.

[ back ] 71. Commentary in N, pp. 67–68, 71.

[ back ] 72. N, p. 71.

[ back ] 73. On the theme of the Seven Sages, see Ch. 8§43.

[ back ] 74. See Ch. 12§6.

[ back ] 75. See Ch. 6§4.

[ back ] 76. This point is argued at length in N 1985.27–46.

[ back ] 77. See Ch. 5§14.

[ back ] 78. For the corresponding negative situation, where social disorder is marked by the absence of kosmos at a feast, see Solon F 4.10 W.

[ back ] 79. Cf. Schmid 1947.17.

[ back ] 80. See Figueira 1981.192–202, especially p. 199. Also p. 71.

[ back ] 81. See Ch. 13§33.

[ back ] 82. N 1979.248–252.

[ back ] 83. N 1979.258–259 (and 91–93).

[ back ] 84. Further discussion, with bibliography, in N 1979.247–248. The lowly social status of Enipō makes Archilochus a nothos ‘bastard’, the product of socially unequal parents; as such, his persona resembles that of Kyrnos, the prime recipient of loving admonition in the poetry of Theognis. As I argue at length in N 1985.51–60 (cf. also Ch. 6§66), the name Kurnos conveys the notion of ‘bastard’, in the transcendent sense of one who is debased by material excess, the name simultaneously conveys the notion of ‘prince’, as an appropriate designation of a Heraclid (N, p. 33). Thus the very name Kurnos is a riddle, an ainos.

[ back ] 85. Cf. West 1974.24.

[ back ] 86. From Pausanias’ description (10.28.3) of the painting of Polygnotus located in the Lesche of the Knidians (and I emphasize that Polygnotus was a native of Thasos), we note that Kleoboia is represented as offering a kibōtos ‘box’ to Demeter; she is shown crossing the Acheron in a boat, along with Tellis.

[ back ] 87. Cf. N 1979.303; also Ch. 12§50n141.

[ back ] 88. This variant is also attested in the Mnesiepes Inscription, Archilochus T 4 II 43–57 Tarditi.

[ back ] 89. Cf. Ch. 14§25.

[ back ] 90. Commentary in N 1985.29.

[ back ] 91. Detailed discussion at N, pp. 34–35; p. 35§17n1, 2 on the future tenses of Theognis 19–23, 237–252.

[ back ] 92. Cf. Ch. 12§69.

[ back ] 93. Cf. Ch. 2§3.

[ back ] 94. Cf. Ch. 2§51.

[ back ] 95. Ibid.

[ back ] 96. Cf. Ch. 13§33.

[ back ] 97. Cf. Ch. 12§58 and following.

[ back ] 98. See ibid.

[ back ] 99. We may note in this connection the absence of any Pindaric epinician celebrating a Spartan.

[ back ] 100. N 1985.30–36.

[ back ] 101. Cf. Ch. 12§58 and following.

[ back ] 102. N 1979.8; also at Ch. 12§71 and following.

[ back ] 103. Cf. Ch. 14§9.

[ back ] 104. Under the entry μετὰ Λέσβιον ᾠδόν in the Suda, it is explained that the proverb refers to the story that the Spartans invited, from among all the kitharōidoi ‘lyre singers’, those from Lesbos first (τοὺς Λεσβίους κιθαρῳδοὺς πρώτους προσεκαλοῦντο); that when the polis of Sparta was in disorder, an oracle told them to send for the singer from Lesbos; when Terpander arrived at Sparta, he put an end to the stasis ‘social strife’ (ibid.). On Terpander as kitharōidos, see Ch. 3§8. We may note another detail under the same entry in the Suda: tradition has it that Terpander came to Sparta while in exile from Lesbos on account of a blood guilt. This theme may imply hero cult in the making, as in the myth about Oedipus at Colonus, where the hero is exiled from Thebes on account of his blood guilt and is thereafter purified at Athens, in response to which the hero donates to the Athenians his own corpse as the talisman of his represented hero cult at Colonus; cf. Ch. 6§58.

[ back ] 105. Cf. Ch. 3§21.

[ back ] 106. Cf. Ch. 14§9.

[ back ] 107. Ibid.

[ back ] 108. Cf. Ch. 12§58. On the role of khorēgos ‘chorus leader’ as educator of the community, see the discussion of Alcman at Ch. 12§16 and following; also of Archilochus at Ch. 13§30 and following.

[ back ] 109. Cf. Ch. 3§48. Cf. the mythopoeic visualization of Terpander as he sings at the sussitia ‘common meals’ of the Spartans (Suda s.v. μετὰ Λέσβιον ᾠδόν).

[ back ] 110. For example, Ch. 2§6 and following.

[ back ] 111. For example, Ch. 12§12 and following (Alcman), Ch. 12§46 (Stesichorus).

[ back ] 112. For example, Ch. 3§48, 3§51, 3§54, 3§55, and following.

[ back ] 113. N 1985.33–34.

[ back ] 114. Cf. Ch. 6§77 and following.

[ back ] 115. Cf. Ch. 1§13 and following.

[ back ] 116. Cf. Ch. 3§55 and following.

[ back ] 117. Ibid.