Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond

  Use the following persistent identifier: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Poetry_as_Performance.1996.

Chapter 2

Mimesis, Models of Singers, and the Meaning of a Homeric Epithet

Let us continue where we left off, with the song of the nightingale. In the previous chapter, we noted that the idea of variation is implicit in the epithet poludeukḗs describing the voice (phōnḗ) of the songbird in Odyssey xix (521), but the task remains to formulate the precise meaning of this epithet, which will be pertinent to the meaning of the elusive word mímēsis (henceforth spelled simply as “mimesis”). We will see that mimesis, ordinarily translated as ‘imitation’, can have a deeper sense, ‘re-enactment’. To make a re-enactment is to pattern something on a model, and the idea of such patterning is inherent, as we will see, in the meaning of the Homeric epithet of the nightingale. This idea will prove to be essential for understanding poetry as performance.

Let us look again at the context of the epithet for the nightingale. We have seen that Aelian in De natura animalium (5.38), who says that poludeukḗs is an alternative to poluēkhḗs ‘with many resoundings’ in Odyssey xix (521), interprets the first of these two variant epithets to mean τὴν ποικίλως μεμιμημένην ‘making imitation [mimesis] in a varied [poikílōs] way’. If he is right, then this variant epithet poludeukḗs points to the songbird’s capacity for variety, that is, the capacity to perform poikílōs ‘in a varied way’. [1] The idea of variety is reinforced by the meaning of the participle trōpôsa (τρωπῶσα) in Odyssey xix (521), describing the {39|40} nightingale as she ‘changes around’ or literally ‘turns’ the sound of her beautiful song. [2]

To return to the description by Mâche, what emerges is a pattern of interplay between combination and selection in the song of the nightingale. In other words, it is not just a matter of the songbird’s capacity to combine sounds into given sequences. More than that, each combination of sounds can be selected—or, better, re-selected—to create further combinations. The idea of re-selecting, that is, selecting again the same combination in order to make another combination, fits the image of coming around, turning, returning.

In this light, let us return to Aelian’s interpretation of the epithet poludeukḗs describing the voice of the songbird in Odyssey xix (521). To repeat, if indeed poludeukḗs implies that the nightingale {41|42} is τὴν ποικίλως μεμιμημένην ‘the one who makes imitation [mimesis] in a varied [poikílōs] way’, then this variant epithet poludeukḗs points to the songbird’s capacity for variety. But the argument goes beyond establishing the idea of variety in the word poludeukḗs. There is even more to Aelian’s description of the nightingale’s birdsong, since he insists on the notion of mimesis in his definition: τὴν ποικίλως μεμιμημένην ‘the one who makes imitation [mimesis] in a varied [poikílōs] way’. If Aelian is right, then the variant epithet poludeukḗs conveys not only variety but also the very idea of mimesis, which is translated here as ‘imitation’. If he is right, then poludeukḗs is closely parallel in meaning to poluēkhḗs ‘with many resoundings’, since ēkhṓ ‘resounding, echo’ likewise conveys the idea of mimesis. As we will now see, moreover, there is a deeper meaning of mimesis, which can be understood by discovering the deeper meaning of the epithet poludeukḗs.

Let us start, however, not with the negative adjective adeukḗs but rather with the adverb endukéōs. From a survey of its contexts, I infer that this word endukéōs is associated with the notion of an uninterrupted sequence, as for example in contexts like the verse in Odyssey xiv (337) involving the action of sending or accompanying someone on a journey (verb pémpein at 333, 334, 338). There are sinister implications here concerning any interruption of the journey as a sequence, a continuum. Similarly in Iliad XXIV (438), a disguised Hermes tells Priam that he will accompany him endukéōs, whether {43|44} on ship or on foot: as your pompós or ‘conductor’ (437), he continues, I would journey with you even as far as Argos itself, and no one will dare stand up to you so long as I am your ‘conductor’ (439: again, pompós). Again, a successful journey is pictured as a sequence, a continuum.

Returning to the adverb endukéōs, we may say that its contexts of an uninterrupted sequence imply a ritualized continuity or consistency, as in descriptions of a host’s treatment of a guest. In Odyssey xv (305), for example, Odysseus is testing the swineherd Eumaios, who is, unwittingly, playing host to his disguised master, whether he philéoi ‘loves’ him endukéōs or whether he will suddenly switch, turning against him. In Odyssey xv (491), endukéōs refers to the steady flow of food and drink provided by the master of the household to his dependent, in this case Eumaios, without ever cutting off the supply; Eumaios is not aware that he is being told all this by his own long-lost master, the disguised Odysseus. In Odyssey xiv (111), a disguised Odysseus as guest is eating, in a way that is described as endukéōs, the meal that Eumaios, philéōn ‘loving’ host that he is, is offering him. In Odyssey xvii (111), Telemakhos says that Nestor as host ephílei ‘loved’ him endukéōs, treating him as if he had been a son who had just returned after an absence: here the status of the child as dependent {44|45} has been interrupted, but the love of the father has not. [12] This is how, continues Telemakhos (xvii 113), Nestor took care of me (ekómize), along with his own sons. In Odyssey xiv (390), the old woman endukéōs takes care of (koméesken) the old man. [13] In Homeric Hymn 26 (4), the Nymphs endukéōs raised (atítallon) the infant Dionysus in Nysa. [14]

In Odyssey x (65), there is a combination of both sending and hosting contexts: Aeolus the god of winds is telling Odysseus that he had sent him off endukéōs, so that the hero could reach home, but now the journey has been interrupted and the hero’s homecoming is utterly ruined because the bag of winds has been opened. We see here an ultimate interruption not only in the journey of the hero but in the epic narrative as well.

Having a set sequence and a set goal by no means precludes the idea of variety. We may consider Benveniste’s examples of Latin expressions combining the verb dūcere with a direct object indicating the shape of a letter of the alphabet: hence the ductus of a letter is the drawing or tracing of a letter, and of course each different letter has its own different ductus. Thus the sequence or pattern of drawing, the pattern of dūcere, is itself a matter of variety. Even the English word pattern provides a striking illustration of this idea: a basic meaning of pattern is ‘model’, as in the world of dress-making. Etymologically, a pattern is a model. And yet, pattern is variety, as we can see even from the current sense of the word.

The idea of pattern as variety comes to life in the rich variety of compound patterns built from Latin dūcere, such as condūcere, dēdūcere, ēdūcere / ēducāre, indūcere, and so on, as also the corresponding compounds in the Germanic languages. [24] And there is a rich variety of meaning and application even within each one of the compounds. In the case of indūcere, for example, let us consider some of the categories of definition in the Oxford Latin Dictionary: meaning 5 is ‘introduce a custom or law’; meaning 6, in the legal sense, is ‘sanction, give grounds for’; meaning 7 is ‘apply a rule’; meaning 1, again in a legal sense, is ‘bring in’, as for example a witness; meaning 8 is ‘initiate, install into a position’; meaning 3, is ‘put on stage’, that is, introduce a performer into the action of the drama, or alternatively, to introduce a character into a narrative by presenting him or her to the mind’s eye, as it were; and the list goes on. Then there is the abstract noun derivative, inductiō, meaning (1) bringing in a performer, (2) initiation, (3) prompting to a course of action, focusing the mind, (4), reasoning by analogy—which translates the Greek philosophical concept of epagōgḗ. In Cicero’s De inventione (1.51), we read the following definition: inductio est oratio quae rebus non dubiis captat {47|48} assensionem eius quicum instituta est; quibus assensionibus facit ut illi dubia quaedam res propter similitudinem earum rerum, quibus assensit, probetur ‘induction is a form of speaking that seeks, in matters that are not open to doubt, the assent of the person with whom this form of speaking has been undertaken; by way of these assents the speaker makes credible to this person some matter that is open to doubt, because of its likeness to those things to which he has already given assent’. [25]

The word sunekhḗs ‘continuous’ is actually used in [“Aristotle”] Historia animalium 632b21 to describe the singing of the nightingale: ἀηδών ᾀδει μὲν συνεχῶς ‘the nightingale sings in a sunekhḗs way’. Likewise Pliny Natural History 10.81 describes this birdsong as garrulus sine intermissu cantus ‘a talkative song without interruption’.

As we approach the end of this sequence of examples for the idea of continuity in the root *deuk / *duk, we reach perhaps the most striking example in the Latin expression fīlum dēdūcere ‘draw out a thread [in spinning]’ (e.g. Ovid Metamorphoses 4.36; cf. Tibullus 1.3.86). There are comparable expressions where the verb dūcere or dēdūcere is metaphorically combined with objects like carmen ‘song’ to mean ‘compose the song’ (e.g. Propertius 4.6.13, Ovid Metamorphoses 1.4).

As Lord observes about the dynamics of oral tradition, “there is a pull in two directions: one is toward the song being sung and the other is toward the previous uses of the same theme”. [30] If we reformulate this insight in terms of Prague School linguistics, we may say that the poetic process of referring to anything involves, simultaneously, a “horizontal” axis of combination and a “vertical” axis of selection. [31] Lord himself implies such an interaction between combination and selection when he says:

From this point of view each occurrence of a theme (on the level of content) or of a formula (on the level of form) in a given composition-in-performance refers not only to its immediate context but also to all other analogous contexts remembered by the performer or by any member of the audience. [

The idea of “recollecting forward” is applicable to the definition of induction that we have examined earlier, and to the reinterpretation of the root *deuk / *duk as ‘draw continuously toward a definite goal’, with the implication that continuity takes place through the mental process of connecting like with like. As we will now see, such a reinterpretation suits the ancient Greek concept of mimesis as well, which is fundamental to poetry as performance. In fact, the semantics of mimesis will help us reach a sharper definition of the mental process of connecting like with like. From the earliest attested meanings of mimesis, we will see there must be a definitive model as well as a definite goal.

This much said, let us proceed to explore in more depth the meaning of mimesis. As with the root *deuk / *duk, where the goal that is implied helps us comprehend the model as well, so also with mimesis. The definitive models of mimesis take shape by way of a process that leads towards definite goals such as initiation and education—which are the very concepts reflected in the Latin words indūcere and ēducāre.

As John Herington argues in his Poetry into Drama, the performance of a chorus is ordinarily a matter of a seasonally recurring reperformance. [46] There are particularly striking examples from Sparta, such as the description in Sosibius (FGH 595 F 5, by way of Athenaeus 15.678bc), of choral performances at the Spartan Feast of the Gymnopaidiai, featuring reperformances of compositions attributed to Alcman and other archaic figures. We may note too the description in Polycrates (FGH 588 F 1, by way of Athenaeus 4.139e) of choral performances at the Spartan festival of the Hyakinthia, where the compositions of Alcman were most likely a part of the repertory (witness the papyrus commentary to Alcman, PMG 10[a].5). Here is the text of Polycrates’ vivid description:

τῇ δὲ μέσῃ τῶν τριῶν ἡμερῶν γίνεται θέα ποικίλη καὶ πανήγυρις ἀξιόλογος καὶ μεγάλη· παῖδές τε γὰρ κιθαρίζουσιν ἐν χιτῶσιν ἀνεζωσμένοις καὶ πρὸς αὐλὸν ᾄδοντες πάσας ἅμα τῷ πλήκτρῳ τὰς χορδὰς ἐπιτρέχοντες ἐν ῥυθμῷ μὲν ἀναπαίστῳ, μετ’ ὀξέος δὲ τόνου τὸν θεὸν ᾄδουσιν· ἄλλοι δ’ ἐφ’ ἵππων κεκοσμημένων τὸ θέατρον διεξέρχονται· χοροί τε νεανίσκων παμπληθεῖς εἰσέρχονται καὶ τῶν ἐπιχωρίων τινὰ ποιημάτων ᾄδουσιν, ὀρχησταί τε [ἐν] τούτοις ἀναμεμιγμένοι τὴν κίνησιν ἀρχαικὴν ὑπὸ τὸν αὐλὸν καὶ τὴν ᾠδὴν ποιοῦνται. τῶν δὲ παρθένων αἳ μὲν ἐπὶ καννάθρων [καμαρωτῶν ξυλίνων ἁρμάτων] φέρονται πολυτελῶς κατεσκευασμένων, αἳ δ’ ἐφ’ ἁμίλλαις ἁρμάτων ἐζευγμένων πομπεύουσιν, ἅπασα δ’ ἐν κινήσει καὶ χαρᾷ τῆς θεωρίας ἡ πόλις καθέστηκεν. ἱερεῖά τε παμπληθῆ θύουσι τὴν ἡμέραν ταύτην καὶ δειπνίζουσιν οἱ πολῖται πάντας τοὺς γνωρίμους καὶ τοὺς δούλους τοὺς ἰδίους· οὐδεὶς δ’ ἀπολείπει τὴν θυσίαν, ἀλλὰ κενοῦσθαι συμβαίνει τὴν πόλιν πρὸς τὴν θέαν.

Polycrates FGH 588 F 1, by way of Athenaeus 4.139e

It bears repeating that both re-enactment and imitation are genuine aspects of the older conceptual world of mimesis. If you re-enact an archetypal action in ritual, it only stands to reason that you have to imitate those who re-enacted before you and who served as your immediate models. But the ultimate model is still the archetypal action or figure that you are re-enacting in ritual, which is coextensive with the whole line of imitators who re-enact the way in which their ultimate model acted, each imitating each one’s predecessor.

But the paradox of mimesis is that the archetype to be re-enacted must re-enact, not just enact, in its own right. So also in Song I of Jaufré Rudel, we had seen that the song of the nightingale, which serves as model for the song of the poet, is itself a model of recomposition, not just composition, in that even the songbird is in fact recomposing his own song by virtue of performing it. The nightingale of Provençal songmaking moves his song, which is inherently recurrent and recomposed, much as every new season of spring is a joyous event of inherent recurrence and recomposition, even re-creation.


[ back ] 1. The semantics of poikílos ‘varied’ are illuminated by the context of the epithet of the nightingale in Hesiod Works and Days 203, poikilódeiros, which is interpreted as ‘having a varied[-sounding] throat’ in ch. 3n1; also by the context of the epithet of Aphrodite in Sappho 1.1, poikilóthronos, which is interpreted in the sense of ‘with varied pattern-woven flowers’ in ch. 4.

[ back ] 2. Pliny Natural History 10.85 refers to the vox ‘voice’ of the nightingale as modulata ‘modulated’ and varia ‘varied’ (where modulated is to be understood in the ancient, not modern, sense: see ch. 1n56).

[ back ] 3. Mâche 1991:119, with reference to the Luscinia megarhynchos. A “phrase” in birdsong, according to the descriptive scheme developed by Mâche, is a sequence or “suite” of sounds framed by intervals of silence; wherever such a sequence or “suite” begins with a repeated pattern of sounds, it is a “strophe” (Mâche p. 112). On the functioning of such strophes in situations where we find no explicit framing by pauses or intervals of silence, see Mâche p. 144.

[ back ] 4. Mâche 1991:119. On the concept of an opposition between an axis of combination and an axis of selection, see n7 in the Introduction above. On the sequencing of the “strophes” themselves in the case of the nightingale’s singing, Mâche p. 121n14 refers to Todt 1971, whose work raises—at least implicitly, in my opinion—important questions concerning the opposition of langue and parole in the performance of an individual nightingale.

[ back ] 5. Mâche 1991:119–123.

[ back ] 6. Mâche 1991:121. What follows in the rest of this paragraph is a close paraphrase of his formulation. We may note in passing the implications of many of these formulations for the diachronic analysis of Greek lyric meters, as in PH 439–464.

[ back ] 7. There is an analogous onomatopoeia implicit in the form ´Itus (Ἴτυς), a name of the son of the unfortunate mythical woman who was turned into a nightingale, in contexts where ´Itus is doubled, as in Aeschylus Agamemnon 1144: Ἴτυν Ἴτυν στένουσ᾿ ‘[the nightingale] mourning “´Itun ´Itun”’; also Sophocles Electra 148: ἃ Ἴτυν αἰὲν Ἴτυν ὀλοφύρεται ‘who keeps on mourning “´ Itun ´ Itun”’. As Ian Rutherford points out to me, the refrain ἴτω ἴτω χορός = ítō ítō khorós ‘let the chorus get under way!’ in SLG S 460.13/15/17 represents not only the song of the nightingale (ἀηδονὶς ὧδε λέλακε ‘thus the nightingale spoke’ at line 8) but also the sound of the song, by way of onomatopoeia; in this context, the songbird signals the inception of choral song and dance in springtime (cf. ἐν ὥραις at line 12). In the song of Tereus at Aristophanes Birds 228–229, the onomatopoeia of ítō is made explicit by the purely onomatopoeic sequence that precedes it: ἰὼ ἰὼ ἰτὼ ἰτὼ ἰτὼ ἰτὼ | ἴτω τις ὧδε τῶν ἐμῶν ὁμοπτέρων ‘iṑ iṑ itṑ itṑ itṑ itṑ | ítō [let come] all my fellow feathered-ones’.

[ back ] 8. The scholia V for Odyssey xix 521 explain poluēkhéa as pollàs metabolàs poiouménēn ‘making many changes’. The same word poluēkhḗs occurs in Iliad IV (422), epithet of aigialós ‘beach’. Applying the interpretation of the scholia, we may translate either ‘resounding many times’ or ‘resounding in many ways’. To emphasize the idea of variety, we may translate hereafter: ‘resounding in many different ways’. In what follows, I will have more to say about other compounds where the combination of polu ‘much, many’ with a given noun yields a meaning that can be approximated by ‘in many different ways’.

[ back ] 9. Gow and Scholfield 1953:43. In the scholia to Nicander Theriaka 209, poludeukḗs is glossed as poikílos ‘varied’ in morphḗ ‘shape’. {The varia lecto is πολυδερκέα. The gloss is πικράν.}

[ back ] 10. Chantraine DELG s.v. ἀδευκής (cf. already Frisk GEW 20) and Risch 1974:81–83 (cf. also Bader 1986, whose explanation differs from the one presented here.

[ back ] 11. On the possibility of a variant reading involving adeukḗs in Odyssey i 46, with reference to the death of Aegisthus, see Dyck 1993:11–12, especially p. 12n26. In the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes we find adeukḗs as epithet of átē ‘doom’ (1.1037), aîsa ‘fate’ (4.1503), háls ‘sea’ (2.388), áellai ‘gusts of wind’ (2.267).

[ back ] 12. We may compare the collocation of verse-initial ḗpios and verse-initial endukéōs in Odyssey xv 490 / 491, the Eumaios passage. On the semantics of ḗpios, see Edmunds 1990:98: “The typically ḗpios figure is mature, gives good advice, understands justice, and promotes social cohesion.

[ back ] 13. In Odyssey x 450, Circe endukéōs washes and anoints the companions.

[ back ] 14. For the moment, let us simply note in passing the combinations of endukéōs with tréphein ‘raise’ in Iliad XXIII 90, Odyssey vii 256. These combinations turn out to be valuable evidence in the discussion that follows. {Cf. xiv 62, xv 305, 543, xvii 56, 11, xix 195, xxiv 272; also xxiv 212, 390; cf. xvii 113; xiv 109, XXIV 158, 187.Cf. xiv 62, xv 305, 543, xvii 56, 11, xix 195, xxiv 272; also xxiv 212, 390; cf. xvii 113; xiv 109, XXIV 158, 187.}

[ back ] 15. In the discussion that follows, I have benefited from the valuable advice of Richard P. Martin.

[ back ] 16. Ernout / Meillet DELL 185.

[ back ] 17. Benveniste 1973.121–130. Cf. Ernout / Meillet DELL 185, who stress the correlation of dūcere ‘lead’ with sequī ‘follow’—the verb conveying the very idea of sequence.

[ back ] 18. Benveniste 1949. {Cf. athroos in Theocritus.Cf. athroos in Theocritus.}

[ back ] 19. Besides the English combinations, we may consider the vast variety of nuances in the corresponding Gothic compounds, as noted by Benveniste 1973:125. On the implications of German ziehen and Zug, see Schur 1998.

[ back ] 20. Benveniste 1973:122.

[ back ] 21. Cf. West 1978:178.

[ back ] 22. See OLD 578. Ernout / Meillet DELL point out that Cicero uses ductus aquarum where Vitruvius has ductio aquarum.

[ back ] 23. Contexts of ēducāre with plant as object include Columella 4.29.17 (human agent; other contexts listed in OLD 588 s.v., section c); we may compare the correlation, as noted above, of the Homeric adverb endukéōs with contexts of tréphein and atitállein, where the object of the verb may be a child or a plant.

[ back ] 24. See n19 above. For an illuminating analysis of the poetics of German ziehen, see Schur 1998.

[ back ] 25. The notion of captat assensionem ‘seeks assent’ is analogous to the implications of assent in Aristotle’s description of mimesis in terms of the formula οὗτος ἐκεῖνος ‘this is that’ in Poetics 1448b17 as discussed in PH 44, especially n134; further discussion of this formula in what follows.

[ back ] 26. Cf. the formulation offered by Mâche 1991:125 concerning the “art” of birdsong in particular and music in general: virtuosity is a matter of finding an equilibrium between recurrence and novelty.

[ back ] 27. The other glosses given in Hesychius for endukés are sunetón ‘aware, understanding’, aphelés ‘even’, asphalés ‘steady’, glukú ‘sweet’, próthumon ‘cooperative’, eúnoun ‘kindly disposed’, pistón ‘reliable’, epimelés ‘caring’. Most of these interpretations suit the contexts of the Homeric adverb endukéōs as surveyed above. I see as a common semantic thread the idea of attentiveness to proper procedure. The glosses in Hesychius for endúkion are pistón ‘reliable’, phílon ‘near and dear’, empherés ‘similar’, bébaion ‘certain’, and apókruphon ‘obscure’; perhaps the last of these is meant as a comment on the meaning; the gloss for deukés is hómoion ‘similar’ (in Latte’s 1953 edition of Hesychius vol. 1, the other gloss lamprón ‘shining, visible’ is removed and transposed under the entry deikés).

[ back ] 28. This endukés is also apparently attested as an adverb in Apollonius of Rhodes 1.883: as bees are ekkhúmenai ‘pouring forth’ from their hive (880), so also the women, in an endukés manner, prokhéonto ‘poured forth’ (883), lamenting, around the men. We may note that the nightingale in Odyssey xix 521 khéei ‘pours forth’ her poludeukéa (or poluēkhéa) sound. Recalling the adverb endukéōs, derivative of this adjective endukḗs, we may note some additional attestations beyond the Homeric ones already surveyed. In Bacchylides 5.125 endukéōs refers to the steady fighting of warriors over the hide of the Calydonian Boar, and at 5.112 endukéōs is used correlatively with sunekhéōs ‘continuously’ with reference to the warriors’ fight against the Boar itself. Chantraine DELG s.v. ἐνδυκέως emphasizes the idea of continuity and perseverance in this passage. In the Hesiodic Shield 427, endukéōs refers to a lion’s tearing away at the flesh of its prey: in today’s idiom, we would say that the lion is systematically or methodically devouring its prey. At Pindar Pythian 5.85, hosts are described as receiving their guest endukéōs with thusíai ‘sacrifices’.

[ back ] 29. On the semantics of polu in the sense of ‘many different’, not just ‘many’ or ‘much’, cf. poluēgerées ‘assembled from many different places’, a variant reading reported by Aristarchus for tēlekleitoí in Iliad XI 564, and polusperḗs ‘much-dispersed’, referring in Iliad II 804 to peoples who are dispersed throughout many different places. Further morphological parallels for this kind of compounding with esstems: polutharsḗs ‘having much audacity’, as in Iliad XVII 156, etc., and polukankḗs ‘much-burning’, epithet of thirst in Iliad XI 642.

[ back ] 30. Lord 1960:94; cf. also pp. 66, 94–97.

[ back ] 31. See n7 in the Introduction above.

[ back ] 32. Lord 1960:97.

[ back ] 33. Cf. Foley 1991, who invokes the term immanence to argue that the immediate reference in oral poetics is but a part of the totality of meaning.

[ back ] 34. On the explicit connections of the (h)alkúōn with songs of lamentation, see BA 111.

[ back ] 35. BA 94–117, especially pp. 99–100 on Odyssey iv 220.

[ back ] 36. Cf. also Polupheídēs in Odyssey xv 249, which could mean ‘having parsimony in many different ways’ (or ‘many times’). On the poetics of naming as an aspect of a poetic system, see PH 206–207 and Higbie 1995:189.

[ back ] 37. In light of the close association of endukéōs, as surveyed above, with the ritualistic performance of one’s duties as xénos, ‘host’ or ‘guest’, we may note the traditional characterization of the Divine Twins as philóxe(i)noi ‘dear to xénoi’, as in Pindar Olympian 3.1.

[ back ] 38. On the mythological model of the Divine Twins as alternating Morning Star / Evening Star, see GM 258–259.

[ back ] 39. Cf. Foley 1991, who shows how the Homeric epithet transcends its immediate context, that is, its “instance.” The referentiality of the epithet is “extrasituational,” in that “epithet and instance harmonize not because the phrase can be reduced—its complexity conveniently denatured—but rather because it entails a larger reality than can be presented in any one narrative event” (p. 141). In the “pars pro toto” logic of oral composition-in-performance, “the ever-incomplete performance or text is the only medium through which we can completely experience the oral traditional work of art” (p. 10; cf. p. 58). Meaning is thus “inherent” in the context, not “conferred” exclusively by the context (p. 8).

[ back ] 40. Kierkegaard 1843 [1983]:131.

[ back ] 41. Kierkegaard 1843 [1983]:131.

[ back ] 42. See n23 above.

[ back ] 43. Cf. PH 245–246.

[ back ] 44. For more on the khorós as a medium of initiation and education, see Calame 1977, especially I 437–439.

[ back ] 45. Detailed discussion in PH 345–349 (cf. N 1989:50–51) and Clay 1991.

[ back ] 46. Herington 1985.

[ back ] 47. This translation of Polycrates FGH 588 F 1 is based on that of Herington 1985:7, who goes on to say about Polycrates: “Even if he lived relatively late in the Hellenistic period, … Sparta’s ritual and musical conservatism was such that he could well have witnessed a celebration of the Hyakinthia in much the same form that it would have had in classical times” (p. 224n8; cf. PH 351, 371n168 and Clay 1991:64). As Victor Bers points out to me, the emphasis on the idea that ‘no one is left out of the sacrifice’ echoes the semantics of a ‘gathering of all’ inherent in the word panḗguris.

[ back ] 48. Herington 1985:25–26. I disagree, however, with his general assumption that the composition of archaic Greek lyric performances required the technology of writing (pp. 41–42): see PH 19n7.

[ back ] 49. PH 339–413. A pioneering study of mimesis, to which I am much indebted, is Koller 1954.

[ back ] 50. PH 42–45, 346, 349, 373–375, 381, 387, 411.

[ back ] 51. PH ch. 13.

[ back ] 52. Elaborations in GM 8; cf. PH 313–317.

[ back ] 53. Tambiah 1985:128.

[ back ] 54. Cf. the formulation “myth implies ritual in the very performance of myth” at p. xi of my foreword to Martin 1989 and at GM 317.

[ back ] 55. PH 44.

[ back ] 56. PH 42–44.

[ back ] 57. PH 42–44.

[ back ] 58. Cf. Nehamas 1982.

[ back ] 59. Burkert 1987:54 interprets lines 162-165 of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo as a reference to the “performance of choral lyrics.”

[ back ] 60. PH 43, 375–377.

[ back ] 61. PH 43, 375–377.

[ back ] 62. Detailed discussion in PH 43–44, 375–377.

[ back ] 63. Patton 1992.

[ back ] 64. N 1989:50–51, PH 345–370; cf. Clay 1991.

[ back ] 65. PH 345–348.

[ back ] 66. On the complex patterns of differentiation that led to the emergence of the first, second, and third actors as distinct from the chorus, see PH 378–379.

[ back ] 67. The idea of continuity through variety may be expressed by the metaphor of ‘breaking’. Successive interruptions or ‘breakings’ in a continuum may actually contribute to an overall sense of continuity or non-interruption, as in the pulsation of sound or light. Hence the metaphor of refraction, as we see in the expression περὶ δέ σφισιν ἄγνυτο ἠχώ ‘and the echoing sound [ēkhṓ] they made was refracted [= literally ‘broke’] all around them’ in the Hesiodic Shield, verses 279 and 348. At verse 348, the expression applies to the neighing of war-horses; at 279, it applies to the sound of choral voices singing in response to a tune presumably sung by a choral leader, accompanied by herdsmen’s pipes. With reference to verse 279, we may compare the metaphors of refraction as discussed in the context of ch. 1n55 above. There is a relevant discussion by Bonanno 1993:68, who actually cites both these Hesiodic passages, though she does not, I think, fully integrate their significance with her own arguments.

[ back ] 68. The metaphor of breaking’ can express—even mime—discontinuity as well as continuity, as in the expression κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσα ἔαγε ‘my tongue has broken down’ in Sappho 31.9; the translation ‘has broken down’ here connotes the English metaphor of breakdown with reference to the operation of a mechanism or a faculty—in this case, the faculty of speech. In N 1974:45, I argue that the metaphor of ‘breakdown’ here is reinforced by a ‘gagging’ effect, produced by the hiatus of word-final and word-initial short vowels in the actual sequence κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσα ἔαγε ‘my tongue has broken down’. Thus the discontinuity in speech is symbolized by the discontinuity in sound. The sound of gagging—that is, the sound of an interrupted voice—is conveyed by hiatus and thus matches an expression that designates the sensation of gagging. And the voice that is being interrupted in Sappho 31 is of course ultimately the poetic voice. Such an onomatopoetic effect, as I point out in N 1974:45, could not have evolved if there had not been a pre-existing pattern of hiatus associated with the inherited phraseology of the root ἀγ, thanks to the loss of initial ϝ in the root ϝαγ of ἔαγε, which can be reconstructed as *ϝέϝᾱγε. There may also be an onomatopoetic effect in the positive instance of the ‘breaking’ metaphor that we examined earlier, περὶ δέ σφισιν ἄγνυτο ἠχώ ‘and the echoing sound [ēkhṓ] they made was refracted [= literally ‘broke’] all around them’ in the Hesiodic Shield, verses 279 and 348; this time, the hiatus is etymologically motivated by the loss of initial ϝ in *ϝᾱχώ. See Bonanno 1993, especially pp. 62 and 68, who does not give me credit for having recognized the linguistic background for the hiatus in Sappho 31.9 (she does make clear, however, that I initiated the onomatopoetic interpretation, and for this I am grateful to her). While I agree with her that the ancient imitations of Sapphic γλῶσσα ἔαγε, in Lucretius 3.155 and Theocritus 2.108–109, convey the idea of stammering, I maintain that the more basic idea is that of an interruption of speech—or, to return to the English idiom, breakdown of speech.