Eve of the Festival: Making Myth in Odyssey 19

  Levaniouk, Olga. 2011. Eve of the Festival: Making Myth in Odyssey 19. Hellenic Studies Series 46. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Levaniouk.Eve_of_the_Festival.2011.

Chapter 16. The Pandareids and the Festival of Apollo

I have suggested above that to a certain extent the myths Odysseus and Penelope tell each other in Odyssey 19 are related to their own story as a myth might be related to a ritual or a festival, both in the sense that there are parallel thought structures involved, and that the myth is often tragic or negative, whereas the festival or ritual is not. In other words, though the return of Odysseus is not a ritual in any literal sense, it interacts in a ritual-like way with the stories told within it: the macronarrative enacts a festival, while the micronarratives narrate myths associated with it. At the same time, once the events of the Odyssey have run their course, the story of Odysseus’ return itself emerges as a myth associated with the festival of Apollo. In effect, the Odyssey becomes the myth associated with the festival that is internal to itself. There is a certain displacement of categories involved here, so that the story of the Odyssey appears both as a myth and a ritualized action.

There is a similar displacement involved in the comparisons of Odysseus or Penelope to an aoidos. In one sense, Odysseus is like one because he creates a poetic tale, but in another sense he is unlike one, because his poetic tale is also his own life, which is not the case with a real aoidos. Just as Odysseus and Penelope become both makers of their own tale and characters within it, self-conscious epic heroes who partake of the poetic awareness of themselves, so the return of Odysseus during a festival becomes a self-conscious myth, a myth which incorporates its own ritual setting and internalizes its own occasion. I have argued that what Odysseus says to Penelope in Book 19 is congruent with its setting, the eve of Apollo’s festival, and the same can be said about Penelope’s words. In order to make this point, however, it will be necessary to leave Book 19 for the moment and take a look at its echoes in the beginning of Book 20.

Penelope’s Aedon is daughter of Pandareos, not of Pandion as in other versions of the myth, and the daughters of Pandareos also appear at the begin- {274|275} ning of Book 20. The expression ‘the daughters of Pandareos’ occupies the same position in the line as the ‘the daughter of Pandareos’ in Book 19, establishing a strong connection between the two instances (19.518, 20.66). This repeated occurrence of the little-known daughters of Pandareos is striking and hardly accidental. Their myth, as told in the Odyssey, matches and complements both the myth of Aedon and the setting in which both myths are told: the daughters of Pandareos appear in the Odyssey on the morning of the contest day, the festival of Apollo.

The myth about the Pandareids is poorly known, the Odyssey itself being our main source. In the Odyssean account, the orphaned daughters of Pandareos are brought up by the gods and hold out a promise of perfect marriage. Hera gives them beauty, Athena teaches them crafts, and Aphrodite seeks marriage for them. And then, at the last moment, for incomprehensible reasons, the girls are simply carried away from life by thuellai. [1] Penelope prays to Artemis and asks for escape, to be killed suddenly by the goddess’s arrow or to be whisked away, like the Pandareids:

Ἄρτεμι, πότνα θεά, θύγατερ Διός, αἴθε μοι ἤδη
ἰὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι βαλοῦσ’ ἐκ θυμὸν ἕλοιο
αὐτίκα νῦν, ἢ ἔπειτά μ’ ἀναρπάξασα θύελλα
οἴχοιτο προφέρουσα κατ’ ἠερόεντα κέλευθα,
ἐν προχοῇς δὲ βάλοι ἀψορρόου Ὠκεανοῖο.
ὡς δ’ ὅτε Πανδαρέου κούρας ἀνέλοντο θύελλαι·
τῇσι τοκῆας μὲν φθῖσαν θεοί, αἱ δ’ ἐλίποντο
ὀρφαναὶ ἐν μεγάροισι, κόμισσε δὲ δῖ ‘ Ἀφροδίτη
τυρῷ καὶ μέλιτι γλυκερῷ καὶ ἡδέϊ οἴνῳ·
Ἥρη δ’ αὐτῇσιν περὶ πασέων δῶκε γυναικῶν
εἶδος καὶ πινυτήν, μῆκος δ’ ἔπορ’ Ἄρτεμις ἁγνή,
ἔργα δ’ Ἀθηναίη δέδαε κλυτὰ ἐργάζεσθαι.
εὖτ’ Ἀφροδίτη δῖα προσέστιχε μακρὸν Ὄλυμπον,
κούρῃς αἰτήσουσα τέλος θαλεροῖο γάμοιο,
ἐς Δία τερπικέραυνον – ὁ γάρ τ’ εὖ οἶδεν απαντα,
μοῖράν τ’ ἀμμορίην τε καταθνητῶν ἀνθρώπων – 
τόφρα δὲ τὰς κούρας ἅρπυιαι ἀνηρείψαντο
καί ῥ’ ἔδοσαν στυγερῇσιν ἐρινύσιν ἀμφιπολεύειν·
ὣς ἔμ’ ἀϊστώσειαν Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἔχοντες,
ἠέ μ’ ἐϋπλόκαμος βάλοι Ἄρτεμις, ὄφρ’ Ὀδυσῆα {275|276}
ὀσσομένη καὶ γαῖαν ὕπο στυγερὴν ἀφικοίμην,
μηδέ τι χείρονος ἀνδρὸς ἐϋφραίνοιμι νόημα.

(Odyssey 20.61–82)

Artemis, mistress and goddess, daughter of Zeus, if only you would
hit me with your arrow and take the breath out of my breast
right now, or if only a snatching wind would pick me up
and carry me over the misty paths
to cast me down where the back-flowing Okeanos pours forth its stream,
as when the snatching winds took the daughters of Pandareos.
The gods had destroyed their parents, and they were left
orphans in the house, and the luminous Aphrodite brought them up
on cheese and sweet honey and wine.
And Hera gave them looks and intelligence above all women,
the pure Artemis granted them stature,
and Athena taught them glorious crafts.
But when luminous Aphrodite came to great Olympus,
to ask the thunderbolt-hurler Zeus for the accomplishment of flourishing marriage
for the girls, for he knew everything,
fortune and misfortune for mortal men,
then the snatching winds carried the girls off
and gave them as attendants to the grim Erinyes.
Just like that, I wish the dwellers on Olympus would hide me from sight,
or may the beautiful-haired Artemis strike me, so that I may
go under the earth to see Odysseus
and not delight the heart of a lesser man. {276|277}

Penelope’s apparent despair in this scene has been taken as incompatible with recognition of Odysseus, but that does not follow. [
2] Rather, an argument can be made that the escapist and ardent tone of the prayer is better accounted for precisely on the assumption that Penelope has recognized Odysseus. If Penelope suspects that the beggar is her husband, then the suspense is justified: all will be gained or lost on this day. The tension of the moment is signaled by the urgency in Penelope’s request, to escape αὐτίκα νῦν, ’immediately’. If she has mistaken an imposter for Odysseus, then she has needlessly destroyed the fruit of her own long effort. If she is right and the beggar is Odysseus, there is still the very real danger of his being killed by the suitors. [3] Worse still, Telemachus may be killed with him. On the other hand, if her strategy is successful and Odysseus’ promises come true, then Penelope will gain what she wanted, the death of all the suitors, and intactness of her family. Penelope’s request to die rather than ‘gladden’ the heart of an inferior husband is hardly compatible with the idea that she is reconciled to the prospect of marrying one of the suitors, and suggests instead that she has no intention of ever entering into such a marriage. [4]

The question, then, remains: is the prayer nothing but a complaint? This question is tied to another, namely: what went wrong with the Pandareids? It is not that the Pandareids were unfit for a better fate, since the gods gifted them generously. The Pandareids never come to fertility because such was their moira, ‘fortune’, or rather ἀμμορίη, ‘ill fortune’ (20.76). Their ‘luck’, their circumstances are at fault, and the Odyssey makes these circumstances clear. {277|278} The Pandareids are called ὀρφαναὶ ἐν μεγάροισι ‘orphans in the house’, and Eustathius sees in this bereavement the source of their demise:

περικαλεῖς μὲν οὖσαι δι’ ὀρφανίαν δὲ δυσπραγοῦσαι καὶ εἰς ὑποδύσκολον καὶ ὡς οἷον εἰπεῖν ἐρινυῶδες ἦθος μεταβληθεῖσαι τῇ λύπῃ ᾤχοντο, καὶ δία τοῦτο καὶ ἀνέμοις ἐπαχθῆναι καί Ἐρινύσι παραδοθῆναι μυθεύονται.

(Eustathius on Odyssey 19.518)

Extremely beautiful but having the misfortune to be orphaned, they underwent a transformation and became irksome and so to say Erinyes-like in character, and were destroyed by grief, and because of this it is said that they were carried off by winds and handed over to the Erinyes.

Penelope too is orphaned in a sense, and Pandareids come to mind when she says that she would have had both beauty and fame, had it all not perished when Odysseus left for Troy (Odyssey 19.124–126).

Penelope’s vivid dream about Odysseus sleeping at her side, looking exactly as he did when he left for Troy, follows immediately upon her prayer, and if the prayer is in fact about the resumption of their marriage, then it leads naturally into the dream, which dramatizes this very resumption (20.87–90).

In contrast to this dream, the myth about the daughters of Pandareos is a negative version of Penelope’s future, but it is not simply a cry of despair. The dream and the prayer articulate the same wish, but uttering it would be too presumptuous: Penelope is almost superstitiously reluctant to affirm anything until she is absolutely certain it will not slip away. She presents her prayer {279|280} as a negative mirror-image of her wish, but the opposition of marriage and the arrows of Artemis is a traditional one, and by elaborating on the negative part of it while making it conditional Penelope suggests the positive part. The escapist tenor of the prayer only makes this psychological strategy more effective: the most ardent desire is left unspoken.

In the Odyssey, the festival marks the end of a period of dissolution and reversal, at least as far as the household of Odysseus is concerned. [12] In his discussion of dissolution and reversal festivals, Burkert analyzes several myths, some of them with clearer ritual ties than others, but all having to do with abnormal behavior of women. [13] For example, there are the Lemnian women polluted by their sickening body smell, who kill all the males on the island, except for the king. [14] The period of darkness is marked by women losing their attractiveness (foul smell) and turning against men (murder). The daughters of Proitos, too, suffer from both ills in different versions of their myth. In Hesiod, the Proitids are infected with revolting ugliness:

And he [Dionysus] poured a terrible itch over their heads,
and leprosy covered all of their skin, and their hair
fell out and their fair heads became bald. {280|281}

The girls roam the countryside ‘with every kind of indecency’, according to Apollodorus, until they are cured by the prophet Melampous. [
16] And once they are cured, they marry: in fact, Melampous himself marries a daughter of Proitos, and, notably, becomes a king through this marriage. [17]

Ugliness, infertility and lewdness are all part of the dissolution, and present in the Odyssey. The specter of infertility looms over Penelope, and while no ugliness affects her in the eyes of others, she does say repeatedly that her beauty is destroyed (18.251, 19.124). I am not suggesting, however, that the dissolution affects Penelope: rather, it threatens her. It is the maids who represent the dissolution. Just as the suitors are opposed to Telemachus and Odysseus, so the maids are opposed to Penelope and repeatedly disparaged by herself and Eurykleia as ‘shameless dogs’. [20] It is noteworthy that both myths of the Pandareids in the Odyssey are offset by a mention of the maids. In Book 19 the dialogue between Odysseus and Penelope is preceded by a confrontation with the arrogant maids. Upbraiding one of the maids before she turns to Odysseus, Penelope calls her a ‘shameless dog’, κύον ἀδεές (19.91). Book 20 begins before dawn on the festival day with Odysseus witnessing the maids as they go out to lie with the suitors. Furious, Odysseus famously addresses his own heart, urging it to bear this insult, just as it bore an even ‘more dog-like’ thing, the cannibalism of the Cyclops: τέτλαθι δή, κραδίη· καὶ κύντερον ἄλλο ποτ’ ἔτλης (20.18). This scene, in which the themes of abnormal sexuality and abnormal eating intersect, forms both a prelude and a contrast to Penelope’s prayer to Artemis in which she mentions the Pandareids. Opposed to the maids’ lewdness is Penelope’s desire for a resumption of her marriage. Curiously, the scholia hint that when the Pandareids underwent their horrible transformation they were afflicted by a disease that disfigured them, and the disease is called κύων, the dog. [21]

The myths of the Pandareids convey the dangers (perversion of motherhood and failure to marry) that are inherent in the murky period leading up to the festival of Apollo. These myths present only the negative side of the coin, but it is quite likely that in their local contexts festival and ritual would have articulated a positive alternative. The local contexts for the myth of Pandareids are lost, but it is not hard to imagine them being associated in a local setting with a ritual or a festival, an association that would be similar in most general terms to the relationship between the Agrania and the myth of the Proitids. In the Odyssey, of course, the positive alternative is to be found in the macro-narrative of the poem itself and the ultimate success of Odysseus and Penelope. {282|283}

The very existence of two variant Pandareid myths, one about a mother and the other about unmarried girls, reflects a traditional pattern of mythmaking: the example of the Proitids suggests that myths of this kind may tend to become two-pronged, with variants involving girls and mothers. In fact, this kind of thinking is reflected in the famous Attic/panhellenic version of the Aedon myth, where the married Aedon and unmarried Khelidon, or the married Prokne and unmarried Philomela, become partners in the murder of Itys.


[ back ] 1. On thuellai see Nagy 1979/99:194–95, 204 and 1990:243–251.

[ back ] 2. Russo (1992:113), followed by Katz 1991:149. Russo takes line 82 to indicate that Penelope is “willing, finally, to face the possibility of marrying one of the suitors” and that “her complaint confirms the fact that she has no suspicion that her husband is already returned in the disguise of the beggar” (1982:113). But Penelope’s wish to die rather than ‘gladden the heart of a lesser man’ should surely not be taken as precisely the opposite, namely coming to terms with that prospect.

[ back ] 3. A possibility rarely taken seriously in modern criticism, but certainly envisaged by the Odyssey (2.246–251).

[ back ] 4. Logically, Penelope might be hoping that all the suitors will lose and she will not have to marry any of them (see above, p248-249). Scodel (2001) argues that to stage the contest of the bow is a reasonable choice for Penelope whether or not the beggar is Odysseus. If he is, the contest “offers him an opportunity to act” (323). If he is not, the suitors are likely to fail and perhaps “leave simply in embarrassment” (324). Of course, as Scodel observes (324), it is not clear whether the losers of the contest must abandon “the larger game” of wooing Penelope. Scodel’s argument that a contest of the bow in which all the suitors lose does not worsen Penelope’s situation seems persuasive. The details of Book 19, however, suggest that Penelope does think that the beggar is Odysseus, and the urgency of her prayer itself is better understandable if Penelope thinks the contest is a decisive moment, not one ruse among many.

[ back ] 5. Roscher 1886–1903:1501, Rohde 1925:292 n1, 373 n1, 680, 651, Bremmer 1983:101–105, Henrichs 1991: part IV. On aoroi see Brashear 1990:53–55. See Johnston 1994:153 n7 for further bibliography on the subject. Cf. what Penelope says about Telemachus when she learns that he has left for Pylos (4.727–728): νῦν αὖ παῖδ’ ἀγαπητὸν ἀνηρείψαντο θύελλαι | ἀκλέα ἐκ μεγάρων, οὐδ’ ὁρμηθέντος ἄκουσα, “and now the snatching winds carried my beloved child from the house without glory, and I did not even hear that he left.”

[ back ] 6. Johnston 1994:140–148.

[ back ] 7. Only in Penelope’s case it is not she, but her husband who is snatched away: νῦν δέ μιν ἀκλειῶς ἅρπυιαι ἀνηρείψαντο (Odyssey 1.241).

[ back ] 8. A classic example is Nausikaa, who is ready for marriage and is herself compared to Artemis as she is playing with her friends (Odyssey 6.102-104, 151).

[ back ] 9. Burkert 1985:151.

[ back ] 10. For Penelope as nymphe see, e.g. the extended discussion by Papadopoulou-Belmehdi 1994:95–107.

[ back ] 11. See Ferrari 2002:177–178 for a discussion of the lack of differentiation between maidens and matrons, reflected both in the female initiation rites and in their depictions on pottery.

[ back ] 12. See Bierl 2009:75 and 249–265 on dissolution as an integral part of the polis and its ritual practices, representing the marginal period in the transition of youths to adulthood.

[ back ] 13. Burkert 1983:135–212.

[ back ] 14. For more on the Lemnian myth and its relation to the Odyssey, see above, p122-135.

[ back ] 15. Other mentions of Proitids in the Catalogue of Women are: fr. 37.10–15 MW, fr. 130–132 MW.

[ back ] 16. Apollodorus 2.27 (μετ᾿ ἀκοσμίας ἁπάσης), cf. Aelian Varia Historia 3.42 (γυμναί).

[ back ] 17. Apollodorus 2.29.1.

[ back ] 18. Hesychius s.v Ἀγράνια· ἐορτὴ ἐν Ἄργει ἐπὶ μιᾷ τῶν Προίτου θυγατέρων. Ἀγράνια· νεκύσια παρὰ Ἀργείοις καὶ ἀγῶνες ἐν Θήβαις. Plutarch (Greek Questions 299e–f) describes a rite of flight and pursuit that was part of Agrionia at Orkhomenos. For a discussion of the festival see Nilsson 1906:271–276, Burkert 1983:168–179. On the Agrionia in Orkhomenos see Schachter 1981:180–81.

[ back ] 19. Burkert 1983:179–184.

[ back ] 20. E.g., 19.154, 372. Cf. the use of adjective κυνῶπις about Helen (4.145), Aphrodite when she is caught in flagrante delicto with Ares (8.319), and Klytemnestra (11.424).

[ back ] 21. Scholia on the Odyssey 20.66.

[ back ] 22. Van der Valk (1949:236) supposes the myth to be Ionic (and “otherwise unknown”).

[ back ] 23. Iliad 24.602–617, Aeschylus fr. 152a R, Sophocles, Niobe fr. 441a R. The myth appeared in the Catalogue of Women (Hesiod fr. 183 MW), and was known to Alcman (PMG 75), Sappho fr. 205 Voigt, Mimnermus (fr. 19 W), Pindar (fr. 64), and Bacchylides (fr. 20 D).

[ back ] 24. The arrows of Apollo and Artemis seem also to be on the mind of Ithacans as the festival approaches. Apart from Penelope’s prayer to Artemis, Melanthios would like to see Telemachus struck down by Apollo’s arrow (17.251–252), while Penelope wishes the same fate on Antinoos (17.494).

[ back ] 25. In most of our sources, Niobe comes from Lydia, and in some she returns home after the death of her children (Iliad 24.615, Pherecydes FGrH 3 F 38, Scholia T on Iliad 24.602, Hyginus Fabulae 9). Niobe probably also goes home in Aeschylus’ play, since Tantalos appears on stage (fr. 159 R). Tantalos is described as living at Sipylos in Pindar Olympian 1.38. In some versions of his myth Zeus punishes him by putting Mt. Sipylos on top of him (which seems to be a variation on “the rock of Tantalos” theme): Scholia to Odyssey 19.518, 20.66.

[ back ] 26. Scholia to Odyssey 19.518, 20.66, scholia to Pindar, Olympian 1.91, Antoninus Liberalis 36.

[ back ] 27. Scholia on Pindar, Olympian 1.91.

[ back ] 28. Iliad 4.86–127. Athena, who urges Pandaros to shoot the treacherous arrow also instructs him to pray to Apollo: εὔχεο δ’ Ἀπόλλωνι Λυκηγενέϊ κλυτοτόξῳ (4.101).

[ back ] 29. Iliad 5.105, 171–173. This Lycia is apparently not the same as Sarpedon’s Lycia in South-Western Anatolia, since Pandaros’ contingent is said to come from Zeleia in the foothills of Mount Ida (Iliad 2.824–227). The problem has not been convincingly solved, but it seems impossible to divorce Pandaros’ Lycia from Apollo Λυκηγενής: see Kirk 1985:254 (on Iliad 2.826–827). Pandaros is also son of Lykaon, (‘Lycia dweller’), Iliad 2.826, 4.89 etc. Sthenelos “introduces” Pandaros to Diomedes as follows: ὃ μὲν τόξων ἐῢ εἰδὼς | Πάνδαρος, υἱὸς δ’ αὖτε Λυκάονος εὔχεται εἶναι (Iliad 5.245–246).

[ back ] 30. Odyssey 21.31–33. Eurytos’ rivalry with Apollo: Odyssey 8.223–228.

[ back ] 31. Von Kamptz 1982:361, who suggests that names of this form tend to derive from toponyms, cf. Ἀμισώδαρος, a Lycian king in the Iliad (16.328), and Amisos, a place in Pontos mentioned by Strabo (12.543). However, there seem to be Carian toponyms where –dar– is present in the toponym itself, e.g. Ταρκόνδαρα, CIG 2694, 2607, Βρυγίνδαρα (Kretschmer 1896:328).

[ back ] 32. Ἀπόλλω τὸν ἐμ Πάνδοις (Orientis Graecae Inscriptiones Selectae 229).

[ back ] 33. Pausanias 10.30.1–3

[ back ] 34. Robert (1892:81–82) suggested that Kameiro might be an eponym of the Kameiros in Rhodes.

[ back ] 35. See Nagy 1996b:113–146 on the traditional nature of Homeric mythological exempla and cf. the views exemplified by Wilcock 1964 and 1977 to which Nagy reacts. Lang (1983, esp. 149) offers a convincing argument against the notion of invention and drastic innovation in Homeric myths, showing that such invention would in fact deprive paradeigmata of their effectiveness.