Homer the Preclassic

  Use the following persistent identifier: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Homer_the_Preclassic.2009.

Chapter Three: Homer and his genealogy

I 31. The Homēridai of Chios

I§141 I return to the cursory reference to Chios as the setting for a quadrennial thusia ‘festival’ honoring Homer in the narrative of Vita 2 (307–8). As we saw, this reference is pertinent to the context of a Homeric Hymn to Apollo to be performed at Delos. In other words, it is pertinent to the festival of the Delia. It is also pertinent to the indirect reference made by the narrative of Vita 1 to the quadrennial thusia ‘festival’ of the Panathenaia in Athens. As we have already seen, Homer is pictured as composing both the Iliad and the Odyssey in the city of Chios (Vita 1.346–399). The only two epics performed at the festival of the Panathenaia are the only two epics composed by Homer in the city of Chios and, in the course of composing these two epics, he keeps augmenting his composition by adding verses that center on the glorification of Athens (1.378–398). Only after he finishes his glorification of Athens does Homer finish composing the Iliad and Odyssey: only then does he take leave of Chios and set sail to tour the rest of Hellas (1.400), arriving at Samos as his first port of call (1.401). Samos is merely a transitional stopover before Homer’s arrival in Hellas: in this context, his intended point of arrival in Hellas is explicitly the city of Athens (1.483–484). At a later point in my argumentation, I will return to the detail about Samos, which is typical of a recurrent theme in the Lives of Homer, that is, the role of Samos as a transition to Athens. For now, I simply highlight the fact that the destination of Homer in this story is Athens. And the intended Homeric trajectory, starting from Chios and ending in Athens, is an indirect recognition of a fundamentally Athenocentric theme. As we are about to see, this theme is tied to a lineage of epic performers who trace themselves back to Homer. As we {59|60} are told by the narrative of Vita 2, it is in Chios that Homer fathers this lineage of epic performers. They are known as the Homēridai:

Iⓣ32 Vita 2.13–15

Χῖοι δὲ πάλιν τεκμήρια φέρουσιν ἴδιον εἶναι πολίτην λέγοντες καὶ περισώζεσθαί τινας ἐκ τοῦ γένους αὐτοῦ παρ’ αὑτοῖς ῾Ομηρίδας καλουμένους

The people of Chios, on the other hand [= in rivalry with other claims on Homer made by other cities], adduce proof for their claim that Homer is their very own fellow citizen [politēs], saying that there exist surviving members of a lineage [genos] who originate from him [= Homer], called the Homēridai .

I§142 This reference in Vita 2 makes it explicit that the tracing of the Homēridai back to Homer is a Chiote tradition—and that this tradition aetiologizes the Chiotes’ claim to the poet Homer by way of the Homēridai. There is also another such reference in Strabo (14.1.35 C645). Moreover, as we learn from Harpocration (s.v. Homēridai), both Hellanicus of Lesbos (FGH 4 F 20) and Acusilaus of Argos (FGH 2 F 2) say that the Homēridai were a genos ‘lineage’ in Chios that was named after Homer himself: Ὁμηρίδαι· γένος ἐν Χίῳ, ὅπερ ᾿Ακουσίλαος ἐν γ’, Ἑλλάνικος ἐν τῇ Ἀτλαντιάδι ἀπὸ τοῦ ποιητοῦ φησιν ὠνομάσθαι ‘the Homēridai: a lineage [ genos ] in Chios; Acusilaus in Book 3 and Hellanicus in the Atlantias say that it was named after Homer’. [1]

I§143 The idea that the Homēridai were a Chiote lineage descended from Homer was not just a Chiote tradition. It also became an Athenian tradition. Here I find it essential to quote again the passage concerning the initiative of Hipparkhos the son of Peisistratos, in introducing the performance of Homer at the Panathenaia:

Iⓣ33 “Plato” Hipparkhos 228b-c

… Ἱππάρχῳ, ὃς ἄλλα τε πολλὰ καὶ καλὰ ἔργα σοφίας ἀπεδέξατο, καὶ τὰ Ὁμήρου ἔπη πρῶτος ἐκόμισεν εἰς τὴν γῆν ταύτην, καὶ ἠνάγκασε τοὺς ῥαψῳδοὺς Παναθηναίοις ἐξ {60|61} ὑπολήψεως ἐφεξῆς αὐτὰ διιέναι, ὥσπερ νῦν ἔτι οἵδε ποιοῦσιν, καὶ ἐπ’ ᾿Ανακρέοντα τὸν Τήιον πεντηκόντορον στείλας ἐκόμισεν εἰς τὴν πόλιν, Σιμωνίδην δὲ τὸν Κεῖον ἀεὶ περὶ αὑτὸν εἶχεν, μεγάλοις μισθοῖς καὶ δώροις πείθων· ταῦτα δ’ ἐποίει βουλόμενος παιδεύειν τοὺς πολίτας, ἵν’ ὡς βελτίστων ὄντων αὐτῶν ἄρχοι, οὐκ οἰόμενος δεῖν οὐδενὶ σοφίας φθονεῖν, ἅτε ὢν καλός τε κἀγαθός.

[I am referring to] Hipparkhos, who accomplished many beautiful things in demonstration of his expertise [sophia], especially by being the first to bring over [komizein] to this land [= Athens] the verses [epos plural] of Homer, and he required the rhapsodes [rhapsōidoi] at the Panathenaia to go through [diienai] these verses in sequence [ephexēs], by relay [ex hupolēpseōs], just as they [= the rhapsodes] do even nowadays. And he sent out a state ship to bring over [komizein] Anacreon of Teos to the city [= Athens]. He also always kept in his company Simonides of Keos, persuading him by way of huge fees and gifts. And he did all this because he wanted to educate the citizens, so that he might govern the best of all possible citizens. He thought, noble as he was, that he was obliged not to be stinting in the sharing of his expertise [sophia] with anyone.

I§146 From what we have seen so far, I am ready to draw the conclusion that the references in the Lives of Homer (notably, in Vita 1) to Athens as the ultimate destination for Homer’s would-be performance of his Iliad and Odyssey are linked to the presence of the Homēridai at the rhapsodes’ actual performances of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey at the Panathenaia in Athens. And this recurrent presence of the Homēridai at the Panathenaia compensates for the primal absence of Homer from this festival. The presence is a matter of ritual, while the absence is a matter of myth.

Iⓣ34 Isocrates (10) Helen 65

λέγουσιν δέ τινες καὶ τῶν Ὁμηριδῶν ὡς ἐπιστᾶσα τῆς νυκτὸς Ὁμήρῳ προσέταξεν ποιεῖν περὶ τῶν στρατευσαμένων ἐπὶ Τροίαν, βουλομένη τὸν ἐκείνων θάνατον ζηλωτότερον ἢ τὸν βίον τὸν τῶν ἄλλων καταστῆσαι

Some people say—including especially the Homēridai —that she [= Helen] appeared to Homer at night and ordered him to make poetry [poieîn] about the men who went to fight at Troy, wishing to make their death more enviable than the life of all others.

I§149 Here I add a report about what the Homēridai say—or do not dare say—about themselves:

Iⓣ35 Eustathius Commentary 1.6.28–30 on Iliad (introduction)

εἰ δὲ καὶ ἤρισεν ῞Ομηρος Ἡσιόδῳ τῷ Ἀσκραίῳ καὶ ἡττήθη, ὅπερ ὄκνος τοῖς Ὁμηρίδαις καὶ λέγειν, ζητητέον ἐν τοῖς εἰς τοῦτο γράψασιν {62|63}

Whether Homer had a contest with Hesiod of Ascra and was defeated by him—a subject that is taboo for the Homēridai even to put into words—has to be researched by consulting those who have written about this subject.

I§150 We see here that the repertoire of the Homēridai is restricted to Homer, to the exclusion of Hesiod. I will have more to say below in Part II about this exclusionary Homeric repertoire.

I§151 The presence of the Homēridai in the Athenocentric narrative of Vita 2 is parallel to another detail in the same narrative: as we have already seen, Homer actually performs in Athens (2.276–285). By contrast, as we saw in the non-Athenocentric narrative of Vita 1, Homer never gets to perform in Athens. This significant absence of Homer from Athens in Vita 1 is parallel to another significant absence in this non-Athenocentric narrative. That is, the Homēridai seem to be missing from the narrative of Vita 1. But they are not really missing. They are intentionally elided.

I§152 According to Vita 1, as we saw previously, the ultimate epic repertoire of the Panathenaia was made not in Athens but in Chios. Homer himself is pictured as composing both the Iliad and the Odyssey in the city of Chios. As we also saw in Vita 1, Homer dies before he ever reaches Athens. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the narrative of Vita 1 thus elides Athens as a venue for Homer’s performance, it recognizes the importance of Athens as a referent for Homer’s composition. As we also saw previously, Vita 1 highlights the explicit references that Homer is making to Athens when he composes the Iliad and Odyssey in Chios. Thus Vita 1 recognizes the role of Chios as a definitive source for the glorification of Athens by Homer. Vita 1 also recognizes the Athenian appropriation of a Chiote version of Homer, since it makes a de-facto equation between the ultimate Panathenaic version of Homer and the Chiote version, that is, the version of the Iliad and Odyssey that Homer himself supposedly composed in the city of Chios.

I§154 There is also another contradiction in the non-Athenocentric narrative of Vita 1. It involves the sequencing of the last two major Ionian cities it mentions, the island-states of Chios and Samos. As we have already seen, Vita 1 pictures Homer as ‘making’ the Iliad and the Odyssey in the city of Chios (1.346–399). Also, Homer plans to launch his songmaking tour of all Hellas from Chios (1.374–377). As for Samos, this Ionian island-state becomes a transitional stopover before Homer’s intended arrival in Hellas: in this context, his intended point of arrival in Hellas is specified as the city of Athens (1.483–484). Thus Homer’s presence in Chios and Samos prefigures his presence in Athens. After Homer’s extended tour of composing and performing during his transitional stopover in Samos (1.399–484), he leaves the island and arrives at another transitional stopover, the island of Ios (1.484–485), which turns out to be his terminal stop, since this is the place where he dies, ambushed by a riddle (1.485–516). So here is the contradiction: according to Vita 1, Homer’s personal appearance in Athens never happens. What had started off as an Athenocentric accretion fails to materialize, and the narrative ends by maintaining what seems to be a non-Athenocentric outlook. Such a non-Athenocentric ending may reflect a pre-Athenocentric version of the Life of Homer featuring Samos as the highlight of Homer’s poetic tour. Such a version would best suit the poetics and politics of the tyrant Polycrates of Samos.

I§155 From the viewpoint of Vita 1, Athens cannot be the venue for any performance by Homer. This idea is evidently parallel to another idea, that Homer fathered no sons in Chios. These ideas, I argue, add up to an ideology that contradicts the ideology of the Athenians, who considered their city to be the legitimate venue for the performance of Homer by the legitimate descendants of Homer, the Homēridai of Chios.

I§156 I argue, then, on the basis of both the negative evidence of Vita 1 and the positive evidence of Vita 2, that Chios was a vital link for the Panathenaic Homer and that Athens had appropriated an official Chiote version of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey {64|65} for performance at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens. I started this section by focusing on a quadrennial festival at Chios, which the natives of this island-state evidently linked with Homer. Now I have come full circle at the end of this section by focusing on a parallel: the quadrennial festival of the Panathenaia at Athens is evidently linked with Homer as the notional ancestor of the Homēridai of Chios.

I 32. A post-Athenocentric view of the Homēridai

I§157 From an Athenocentric point of view, as we have seen, the speaker of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo is Homer himself, implicitly the ancestor of the Homēridai of Chios. From a post-Athenocentric point of view, by contrast, the man from Chios who speaks in the Hymn is not Homer but someone called Kynaithos, who must be later than Homer and who may not even be descended from Homer:

Iⓣ36 Scholia for Pindar Nemean 2.1c lines 1–10

Ὁμηρίδας ἔλεγον τὸ μὲν ἀρχαῖον τοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ Ὁμήρου γένους, οἳ καὶ τὴν ποίησιν αὐτοῦ ἐκ διαδοχῆς ᾖδον· μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα καὶ οἱ ῥαψῳδοὶ οὐκέτι τὸ γένος εἰς Ὅμηρον ἀνάγοντες. ἐπιφανεῖς δὲ ἐγένοντο οἱ περὶ Κύναιθον, οὕς φασι πολλὰ τῶν ἐπῶν ποιήσαντας ἐμβαλεῖν εἰς τὴν Ὁμήρου ποίησιν. ἦν δὲ ὁ Κύναιθος τὸ γένος Χῖος, ὃς καὶ τῶν ἐπιγραφομένων Ὁμήρου ποιημάτων τὸν εἰς Ἀπόλλωνα γεγραφὼς ὕμνον ἀνατέθεικεν αὐτῷ. οὗτος οὖν ὁ Κύναιθος πρῶτος ἐν Συρακούσαις ἐραψῴδησε τὰ Ὁμήρου ἔπη κατὰ τὴν ξθ´ Ὀλυμπιάδα, ὡς Ἱππόστρατός φησιν.

I§160 In the passage I just quoted from the scholia for Pindar, the supposedly newer poet Kynaithos and his associates are being accused of ‘interpolating’ (en-ballein) additional verses to augment the verses of Homer—and of ascribing to Homer various other compositions. Supposedly, these newer poets illegitimately interpolated additional verses to augment the original verses of Homer.

I§162 Whether or not Kynaithos is to be considered a legitimate member of the lineage of the Homēridai of Chios, the wording of this passage taken from the scholia for Pindar contains a precious detail about the Homēridai themselves: they are described as an association of performers, and they not only claim to be descended from Homer but also ‘sing his poetry in succession’ (οἳ καὶ τὴν ποίησιν αὐτοῦ ἐκ διαδοχῆς ᾖδον).

I§163 More needs to be said about the expression ek diadokhēs, which is conventionally translated as ‘in succession’. [13] This translation leaves it open whether the ‘succession’ is from ancestor to descendant or from one participant to another while taking turns. We see an example of the first sense in the scholia for Pindar’s Olympian 6 (158a), where Hieron is said to have inherited a priesthood ek diadokhēs ‘in succession’ from one of his ancestors. We see an example of the second sense in the scholia for Pindar’s Pythian 12 (25; ed. Semitelos), where the three Graiai are said to share one eye and one tooth, using them ek diadokhēs ‘in relay’, that is, by taking turns. There is another example in Aristotle’s Physics (5.227a28–29): καὶ οἷον ἡ λαμπὰς <ἡ> ἐκ διαδοχῆς φορὰ ἐχομένη, συνεχὴς δ’ οὔ ‘and just as the torch race by relay [ek diadokhēs] is locomotion that is consecutive but not continuous’. (The metonymic meaning of lampas ‘torch’ as ‘torch race’ is attested also in the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians [57.1.8]). Moreover, the expression ek diadokhēs can mean ‘taking turns’ in contexts where it is used together with allēlois ‘with each other’. A case in point is a passage from Aristotle (F 347.15 ed. Rose via Aelian Varia Historia 1.15) where he describes how a mother bird and a father bird warm the eggs in their nest by taking turns (ek diadokhēs) with each other (allēlois). In another passage from Aristotle (F 433.9 ed. Rose, via Harpocration s.v. prutaneis), we read that the ten phulai of Athens each preside over the Boulē by taking turns (ek diadokhēs) with each other (allēlais). In the scholia A for Iliad XVIII (506d), ek diadokhēs refers to the scene on the Shield of Achilles where the elders take turns in rendering judgment regarding the litigation. In the scholia D for Iliad I (604), ek diadokhēs refers to the relay singing of the Muses: καὶ αὗται Ἀπόλλωνος κιθαρίζοντος ἐκ διαδοχῆς παρὰ μέρος ᾖδον ‘and they, while Apollo was playing the kithara, were singing in relay [para meros], by taking turns [ek diadokhēs]’.

I§164 So also in the scholia for Pindar’s Nemean 2 (1c), I conclude that ek diadokhēs refers to the relay singing of the Homēridai: οἳ καὶ τὴν ποίησιν αὐτοῦ ἐκ διαδοχῆς ᾖδον ‘and they [= the Homēridai] also sang his [= Homer’s] poetry [poiēsis] by taking turns [ek diadokhēs]’. [14] Still, the synchronic succession of relay singing may be a ritualized way of representing the diachronic succession of singing Homer’s songs from one generation to the next. In order to represent this diachronic succession of generations, there has to be a synchronic grouping of these generations as a corpora-{67|68} tion of practitioners. That corporation is named as the Homēridai, the ‘descendants of Homer’. In the act of performance, the descendants are all synchronized as one corporation who incorporate the ancestor by taking turns in re-enacting him. The same can be said about, say, the mother bird and the father bird that feed their young in relay: that principle of relay is the model for the idea that each new generation has to follow the practice of the previous generation in feeding the young. Or again, the principle of the relay in the Athenian torch race is a ritualized way of expressing the continuity of the tradition of torch racing in and of itself. We may compare the idea of the Asklēpiadai, notional descendants of the prototypical physician Asklēpios, who are figured as a corporation of physicians who practice medicine by continuing the practice of their ancestor. So also the Homēridai, notional descendants of Homēros, are figured as a corporation of singers who continue the practice of singing Homer. For them to sing in relay is a synchronic ritualization of the diachronic continuity.

I§165 In the scholia for Pindar’s Nemean 2 (1c), the idea that members of this corporation of the Homēridai sing the poetry of Homer in relay, taking turns, is then followed up by the idea of generational succession. But the legitimacy of this succession is questioned. From an Aristarchean perspective, the successors of Homer are not genuinely doing what their predecessor had done, and so they are not genuine. So they are illegitimate. This supposedly illegitimate corporation described as οἱ περὶ Κύναιθον ‘Kynaithos and his association’ engage in various poetic activities like ‘interpolating’ (en-ballein) additional verses to augment the supposedly genuine verses of Homer or ‘ascribing’ (epi-graphein) to Homer a humnos that they composed on their own. Even though the statement as recorded in the scholia for Pindar rejects the poetic activities of ‘Kynaithos and his associates’ as illegitimate, typical of those who are more recent than the genuine Homer, it nevertheless sets up a parallel between them and the Homēridai—as associations of performers. By implication, just as the Homēridai sing Homer as a group, taking turns, so too ‘Kynaithos and his associates’ sing Homer as a group, taking turns. Whatever it is that ‘Kynaithos and his associates’ may do, the statement is explicit about what is done by the Homēridai: they sing the poetry of Homer ‘by taking turns’ (ek diadokhēs).

I§167 From what we have seen so far, the linking of Homer and the Homēridai of Chios {68|69} with the Panathenaia dates back at least as far as the later years of the Peisistratidai. In those later years, as we saw already in Chapter 1, the Panathenaic Regulation started to take shape. Ultimately, this Regulation led to the restricting of the epic repertoire of the Panathenaia to the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, performed by rhapsodes who took turns in narrating the entire sequence of these two epics. This is not to say, however, that the epic repertoire of rhapsodes performing at the Panathenaia was restricted to the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey already in the earlier years of the Peisistratidai. Such a restriction, as I will argue, was starting to take hold only in the later years. Nor is it to say that the principle of rhapsodic relay that we see at work in the Panathenaic Regulation originated at the Panathenaia. This principle, as mediated by the Homēridai of Chios, was already operational in the late eighth and early seventh centuries BCE at the festival of the Panionia held at the Panionion of the Ionian Dodecapolis in Asia Minor. [16] I will have more to say later about the evolution of Homeric poetry at the Panionia, but for now I continue to focus on its evolution at the Panathenaia. And my point remains that the Panathenaic Homer started taking shape only in the later years of the Peisistratidai, with the introduction of the Panathenaic Regulation by way of the Homēridai.

I 33. The performance of epic at the Panathenaia in the era of the Peisistratidai, the earlier years

I§168 In the earlier years of the era when the Peisistratidai ruled Athens, by contrast with the later years, the epic repertoire at the Panathenaia was not yet centered on the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey: it still included epic traditions we can describe as Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic. In what follows, I will briefly consider each of these three epic traditions.

I§171 I now turn to the second of the three epic traditions current in the earlier years of the Peisistratidai, that is, the Hesiodic tradition. Whereas the epic Cycle became distinct from the epic of Homer only gradually in the Athenian performance traditions of the late sixth and early fifth century, the epic of Hesiod was already distinct by the sixth century. Moreover, the Hesiodic tradition was not only distinct from the Homeric tradition: it could directly compete with it. In Vita 2, that is, in The Contest of Homer and Hesiod, we have already seen two versions of a myth that aetiologizes this competitive relationship between the Homeric and the Hesiodic traditions. According to one version, as we saw, Homer and Hesiod had a contest at Chalkis in Euboea (2.68); according to another version, their contest took place at Aulis (2.54–55), situated on the mainland in Boeotia across the strait from Euboea. There are also traces of a third version, according to which the Contest of Homer and Hesiod took place at Delos:

Iⓣ37 Scholia for Pindar Nemean 2.1d lines 14–29

Φιλόχορος δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ συντιθέναι καὶ ῥάπτειν τὴν ᾠδὴν οὕτω φησὶν αὐτοὺς προσκεκλῆσθαι. δηλοῖ δὲ ὁ Ἡσίοδος λέγων·

ἐν Δήλῳ τότε πρῶτον ἐγὼ καὶ Ὅμηρος ἀοιδοὶ
μέλπομεν, ἐν νεαροῖς ὕμνοις ῥάψαντες ἀοιδὴν,
Φοῖβον Ἀπόλλωνα χρυσάορον, ὃν τέκε Λητώ.

Hesiod F 357 {70|71}

ῥαψῳδῆσαι δέ φησι πρῶτον τὸν Ἡσίοδον Νικοκλῆς. Μέναιχμος δὲ ἱστορεῖ τοὺς ῥαψῳδοὺς στιχῳδοὺς καλεῖσθαι διὰ τὸ τοὺς στίχους ῥάβδους λέγεσθαι ὑπό τινων. ἄλλως. Ὁμηρίδαι πρότερον μὲν οἱ Ὁμήρου παῖδες, ὕστερον δὲ οἱ περὶ Κύναιθον ῥαβδῳδοί· οὗτοι γὰρ τὴν Ὁμήρου ποίησιν σκεδασθεῖσαν ἐμνημόνευον καὶ ἀπήγγελλον· ἐλυμήναντο δὲ αὐτῇ πάνυ. αἰεὶ οὖν τὴν ἀρχὴν ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πλεῖστον ἐκ Διὸς ἐποιοῦντο προοιμιαζόμενοι, ἐνίοτε δὲ καὶ Μουσῶν.

Philochorus [FGH 328 F 212] says that they [= rhapsōidoi] were called that [= rhapsōidoi] on the basis of the idea of composing, that is, stitching together [rhaptein], the song. Proof for this comes from Hesiod, who says:

Nicocles [FGH 376 F 8] says that Hesiod was the first to perform rhapsodically [rhapsōideîn]. The investigations of Menaechmus indicate that rhapsodes [rhapsōidoi] were called verse singers [stikhōidoi] because verses [stikhoi] were called staffs [rhabdoi] by some people. Here is another version: the Homēridai were in former times the descendants of Homer, but then, in later times, they were a group comprised of Kynaithos and his associates, who were called “rhabdōidoi” [“staff-singers”]. For these [= Kynaithos and his associates] are the ones who used to bring back to memory and to perform the poetry [poiēsis] of Homer, which had been scattered. But they mistreated [lumainesthai] it [= the poetry]. And they [= the Homēridai] always started with a prooimion, making mostly Zeus their point of departure and occasionally the Muses.

I§172 In the case of the passage we have just seen illustrating the idea of a competition between Homer and Hesiod, we can see that this competition can be staged on Homer’s terms, as it were. This passage shows that Kynaithos and his associates claimed to be the performers of genuinely Homeric poetry. Evidently, this group of performers made an additional claim: that they were genuinely descended from Homer. That is, Kynaithos and his associates were would-be Homēridai.

I§173 In line with the argument I made in the case of the previous passage I quoted {71|72} from the scholia for Pindar, I argue once again that the unnamed source who reports what I just summarized in this passage is Aristarchus. Once again, our unnamed source is critical of the claims of Kynaithos and his associates. He refuses to acknowledge that Homeric poetry was successfully ‘brought back to memory’ and ‘performed’ by these would-be descendants of Homer. Instead, he claims that Kynaithos and his group ‘mistreated’ the body of Homeric poetry. And, as we saw in the earlier passage that I quoted from the scholia for Pindar, this alleged mistreatment involved the adding of verses that were not genuinely Homeric.

I§176 As we saw earlier, the initiator of this juxtaposition of Homeric and Hesiodic traditions in a single performance at the festival of the Delia in 522 BCE or thereabouts was the tyrant Polycrates of Samos. His appropriation of the Homeric and the Hesiodic traditions by way of juxtaposing them can be viewed as a sure indication that these two traditions were already distinct from each other at this time. And this particular time coincides with the later years of the Peisistratidai of Athens. {72|73}

I§177 I conclude, then, on the basis of the overall picture that emerges from the surviving glimpses of stories about the Contest of Homer and Hesiod, that the distinctions between Homer and Hesiod that we see being highlighted in these stories can be traced back to the earlier years of the Peisistratidai.

Iⓣ38 Diogenes Laertius 8.8

Ἴων δὲ ὁ Χῖος ἐν τοῖς Τριαγμοῖς φησιν αὐτὸν ἔνια ποιήσαντα ἀνενεγκεῖν εἰς Ὀρφέα.

Ion of Chios in his Triagmoi [FGH 392 F 25a = DK B 2] says that he [= Pythagoras] made some poetry that he attributed to Orpheus.

I 34. The Homers of Thucydides and Herodotus

I§181 I start with Thucydides. What this historian ordinarily means by Homer is the Panathenaic Homer, that is, the poet of the Iliad and Odyssey. As we know from all his references to Homer above and beyond his references to the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, the only epics attributed to Homer by Thucydides were the Iliad and the Odyssey, the two epics traditionally performed at the Panathenaia in his time. To this extent, the Homer of Thucydides in the second half of the fifth century BCE was roughly the equivalent of the Homer of Plato and Aristotle in the fourth century. And yet, exceptionally, Thucydides also attributes to Homer what we call the “Homeric” Hymn (3) to Apollo. How are we to account for this exception?

I§184 In another context, Herodotus makes a point of distinguishing Homer from what he describes as the poet of the Cypria, and, in making this distinction, he actually quotes a passage from the Homeric Iliad to prove his point:

Iⓣ39 Herodotus 2.116.1–2.117.1

Δοκέει δέ μοι καὶ ῞Ομηρος τὸν λόγον τοῦτον πυθέσθαι· ἀλλ’, οὐ γὰρ ὁμοίως ἐς τὴν ἐποποιίην εὐπρεπὴς ἦν τῷ ἑτέρῳ τῷ περ ἐχρήσατο, [ἐς ὃ] μετῆκε αὐτόν, δηλώσας ὡς καὶ τοῦτον ἐπίσταιτο τὸν λόγον. Δῆλον δέ, κατά περ ἐποίησε ἐν Ἰλιάδι (καὶ οὐδαμῇ ἄλλῃ ἀνεπόδισε ἑωυτόν) πλάνην τὴν Ἀλεξάνδρου, ὡς ἀπηνείχθη ἄγων Ἑλένην τῇ τε δὴ ἄλλῃ πλαζόμενος καὶ ὡς ἐς Σιδῶνα τῆς Φοινίκης ἀπίκετο. Ἐπιμέμνηται δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐν Διομήδεος Ἀριστηίῃ· λέγει δὲ τὰ ἔπεα ὧδε·

ἔνθ’ ἔσαν οἱ πέπλοι παμποίκιλοι, ἔργα γυναικῶν
Σιδονίων, τὰς αὐτὸς Ἀλέξανδρος θεοειδὴς
ἤγαγε Σιδονίηθεν, ἐπιπλὼς εὐρέα πόντον,
τὴν ὁδὸν ἣν Ἑλένην περ ἀνήγαγεν εὐπατέρειαν.

[Iliad VI 289–292]

Ἐπιμέμνηται δὲ καὶ ἐν Ὀδυσσείῃ ἐν τοῖσδε τοῖσι ἔπεσι·

τοῖα Διὸς θυγάτηρ ἔχε φάρμακα μητιόεντα,
ἐσθλά, τά οἱ Πολύδαμνα πόρεν Θῶνος παράκοιτις
Αἰγυπτίη, τῇ πλεῖστα φέρει ζείδωρος ἄρουρα
φάρμακα, πολλὰ μὲν ἐσθλὰ μεμιγμένα, πολλὰ δὲ λυγρά.

[Odyssey iv 227–230]

Καὶ τάδε ἕτερα πρὸς Τηλέμαχον Μενέλεως λέγει· {75|76}

Αἰγύπτῳ μ’ ἔτι δεῦρο θεοὶ μεμαῶτα νέεσθαι
ἔσχον, ἐπεὶ οὔ σφιν ἔρεξα τεληέσσας ἑκατόμβας.

[Odyssey iv 351–352]

Ἐν τούτοισι τοῖσι ἔπεσι δηλοῖ ὅτι ἠπίστατο τὴν ἐς Αἴγυπτον Ἀλεξάνδρου πλάνην· ὁμουρέει γὰρ ἡ Συρίη Αἰγύπτῳ, οἱ δὲ Φοίνικες, τῶν ἐστι ἡ Σιδών, ἐν τῇ Συρίῃ οἰκέουσι.

Κατὰ ταῦτα δὲ τὰ ἔπεα καὶ τόδε [τὸ χωρίον] οὐκ ἥκιστα ἀλλὰ μάλιστα δηλοῖ ὅτι οὐκ Ὁμήρου τὰ Κύπρια ἔπεά ἐστι ἀλλ’ ἄλλου τινός· ἐν μὲν γὰρ τοῖσι Κυπρίοισι εἴρηται ὡς τριταῖος ἐκ Σπάρτης Ἀλέξανδρος ἀπίκετο ἐς τὸ Ἴλιον ἄγων Ἑλένην, εὐαέϊ τε πνεύματι χρησάμενος καὶ θαλάσσῃ λείῃ· ἐν δὲ Ἰλιάδι λέγει ὡς ἐπλάζετο ἄγων αὐτήν. Ὅμηρος μέν νυν καὶ τὰ Κύπρια ἔπεα χαιρέτω.

There they were, the peploi, completely pattern-woven [poikiloi], the work of women
from Sidon, whom Alexandros [= Paris] himself, the godlike,
had brought home [to Troy] from the land of Sidon, sailing over the vast sea,
on the very same journey as the one he took when he brought back home [to Troy] also Helen, the one who is descended from the most noble father.

[Iliad VI 289–292]

He mentions it [= the story of Helen in Egypt] in the Odyssey also, in these epic words:

Such magical things she had, the daughter of Zeus,
things of good outcome, which to her did Polydamna give, wife of Thon.
She was Egyptian. For her, many were the things produced by the life-giving earth,
magical things—many good mixtures and many baneful ones.

[Odyssey iv 227–230]

And these other things are said to Telemakhos by Menelaos:

In these epic verses the Poet makes clear that he knew of the detour of Alexandros [= Paris] to Egypt; for Syria borders on Egypt, and the Phoenicians whose territory is Sidon dwell in Syria.

In terms of these epic verses, this shows most clearly that the epic of the Cypria is not by Homer but by someone else. For in the Cypria it is said that on the third day after setting sail from Sparta Alexandros [= Paris] arrived in Troy bringing Helen, having made good use of a favorable wind and smooth seas. In the Iliad, on the other hand, he [= Homer] says that he [= Paris] was detoured as he was bringing her [= Helen]. So much for Homer and the epic of the Cypria.

I§185 I offer a paraphrase of the arguments made here by Herodotus:

In a non-Homeric version of an epic called the Cypria (a version known to Herodotus but not to us), it is said that Paris and Helen sailed to Troy without making any detour. There is an alternative version in the Homeric Iliad, and Herodotus quotes the relevant verses. In this version, it is said that Paris and Helen did make a detour: they went to Phoenicia before they went to Troy. On the basis of an Egyptian story about Paris and Helen, Herodotus goes on to argue that they went to Egypt as well as Phoenicia, and that Homer knew it. After all, Egypt is next to Phoenicia. But the problem is, Homer later elided the story of Helen in Egypt as inappropriate. So the Iliad tells the story about Helen in Troy, not the story about Helen in Egypt. And the Odyssey follows the Iliad in accepting the story of Helen in Troy. Both epics, however, show traces of the story of Helen in Egypt, though the traces in the Iliad are only indirect.

I§186 Next, I offer a critical analysis of this paraphrase:

Herodotus considers the stories about detours in Egypt and Phoenicia within the larger context of stories about Helen in Egypt. Upon retelling an Egyptian version of a story about a detour of Paris and Helen in Egypt after he abducted her from Sparta (2.112–115), Herodotus says that Homer must have known that story (2.116.1). Then, in order to show that this is so, Herodotus offers proof (2.116–117), quoting a passage from the Iliad (VI 289–292) and two passages from the Odyssey (iv 227–230 and 351–352). The passage from the Iliad concerns the detour of Paris and Helen before the war at Troy while the two passages from the Odyssey concern the detour of Menelaos and Helen after the war. [35] The first passage is meant as indirect proof that the story of Helen in Egypt was recognized by Homer in the Iliad while the other two passages are meant as direct proof that the story of Helen in Egypt was recognized by Homer in the Odyssey. The passages from the Odyssey are relevant to what Herodotus goes on to argue about the story of Helen in Egypt: he finds that this story is more believable than the story of Helen in Troy (2.118–119). In the Egyptian version, Paris is forced to leave Helen behind in Egypt after the two of {77|78} them are detoured there (2.115.5). That is where Menelaos finds her after the war. According to this Egyptian version, then, Helen never went to Troy. For Herodotus, this version makes more sense than the Homeric version that dominates the Iliad and Odyssey.

I§187 I conclude by considering again the fact that Herodotus distinguishes Homer as the poet of the Iliad from the poet of the Cypria. This fact shows that the historian is familiar with the Panathenaic Homer. That is, he thinks of Homer as the poet of the two epics performed at the Panathenaia, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Nevertheless, Herodotus does not presuppose that everyone thinks this way. That is why he makes a point of establishing the distinction in the first place. He speaks of the poet of the Cypria as someone who may be considered to be Homer by others, but Herodotus knows better.


[ back ] 1. On the Homēridai as transmitters of Homeric poetry, see PP 62–63, 188n4. West 1999 argues that the name of Homer, Homēros, is merely a back-formation derived from Homēridai, and that Homer is a “fictitious person” (p. 372). West (p. 374n31) cites four of my books in order to make the point that I too regard Homēros as a fiction—or, rather, as “a mythical, prototypical author”—and then he adds: “It is not clear to me whether [Nagy] regards the Homeridai as prior.” Here is my clarification: in matters of symbolic filiation, it is not a question of chronological priority. Rather, it is a question of logical priority—in the logic, that is, of the myth. For example, the Asklēpiadai of Cos trace themselves back to Asklēpios, counting nineteen generations from Asklepios to Hippocrates (Soranus Vita Hippocratis 1). The ancestor is a matter of myth, but the filiation is a matter of history. For the name Asklēpiadai to be functional in its historical context, the myth of Asklepios as the prototypical healer must be a foregone conclusion. West (p. 374) actually discusses this example of Asklepios and the Asklēpiadai. This example, however, can be used as a counterargument to his argument about Homer and the Homēridai. For the name Homēridai to be functional in the historical context of the Panathenaia, the myth of Homēros ‘Homer’ as a proto-author must be a logical prerequisite. In terms of Homeric reception, Homer is no fiction, even if he is indeed a myth. In different historical contexts, on the other hand, the name Homēridai could have been aetiologized by way of different myths. More about this subject as my argumentation proceeds.

[ back ] 2. See also Graziosi 2002:225–226, noting that Simonides, who like Anacreon was brought to Athens by the Peisistratidai (“Plato” Hipparkhos 228b-c), refers to Homer as ‘the man from Chios’ in one of his songs (Simonides F 19.1–2 ed. West).

[ back ] 3. HC ch. 3§36. This is not to say that Homer was “invented” in Athens, which is what West 1999 argues; I agree with the counterargument of Graziosi 2002:76.

[ back ] 4. PP 179–180n97. See also Graziosi 2002:50 and (already) Allen 1912:186–187.

[ back ] 5. In Nemean 2.8, Pindar associates the Homēridai not with Chios per se but more directly with Athens. It is no accident that this epinician song of Pindar’s was commissioned by an Athenian family.

[ back ] 6. West 2003a:303 points out that the detail about the unmarried and married daughters of Homer, as told in Vita 1, shows another contradiction. This detail is at odds with a detail told in another story, according to which the poet Stasinus received the Cypria as a dowry in return for marrying the daughter of Homer (Vita 10.36). West (p. 309) argues that this story is already attested in Pindar, and it “presupposes a dispute over which poet was the author of that epic.”

[ back ] 7. Claiming that the Homēridai of Chios had no ancestor called Homēros, West 1999:372 mentions only the testimony about the daughters of Homer in the Herodotean Life of Homer (= Vita 1.343–345), without mentioning the testimony about the Homēridai as ‘descendants of Homer’ in the Certamen (= Vita 2.13–15), which I quoted earlier.

[ back ] 8. Martin 2000b:419n58 suggests that the phrasing here could mean instead: ‘and dedicated it to him [= Apollo]’. See also Collins 2004:184.

[ back ] 9. See HTL 28–29n14, where I argue that Aristarchus is the basic source for the statement up to the portion mentioning the testimony of Hippostratus concerning the date of a rhapsodic performance by Kynaithos in Syracuse.

[ back ] 10. The term neōteroi reflects the usage of Aristarchus himself, not only of the Aristarcheans who came after him and whose testimony is transmitted in the scholia. See Severyns 1928:33–34n4.

[ back ] 11. On Hesiod as neōteros according to the Aristarcheans, see Severyns 1928:39, 89; on the poets of the Cycle as neōteroi, see especially Severyns p. 63, who argues that Aristarchus considered the Cycle to be a major component of this neoteric category.

[ back ] 12. See also HTL 29n14, with reference to the meaning of en-ballein ‘interpolate’ in the scholia for Pindar Nemean 2.1c.

[ back ] 13. So West 1999:368.

[ back ] 14. See also Collins 2004:183n9.

[ back ] 15. The very concept of Homēros, as a notional prototype of the Homēridai, is glossed at verse 164 of the Homeric Hymn (3) to Apollo. See HC 2§§43–45.

[ back ] 16. Frame 2009 ch. 11. Also, I agree with Frame’s argument (pp. 583–584) that the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, as epic traditions, “reached Athens almost immediately after they took root on Chios, and that even earlier they may have begun to be known in Athens directly from the Panionia.” In terms of this argument, Hipparkhos can be credited only with the actual authorization of the Homēridai as regulators of epic performances by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia in Athens.

[ back ] 17. PH 2§§37–53 (= pp. 70–81).

[ back ] 18. HQ 38, 89–91; relevant comments by Burgess 2001:15 and 200n44.

[ back ] 19. This relative chronology, as we will see in the Epilegomena, follows the argumentation of Frame 2009 (especially ch. 11).

[ back ] 20. The verb melpein / melpesthai and the noun molpē convey the combination of singing and dancing: PH 12§29n62 (= p. 350) and n64 (= p. 351).

[ back ] 21. The word rhaptein ‘stitch together’ here is an explicit reference to the performances of rhapsodes, since the word rhapsōidos means, etymologically, ‘he who stitches together [rhaptein] songs [aoidai]’. See PP 61–69; also Schmitt 1967:300–301 (with a definitive discussion of the morphology of rhapsōidós), Durante 1976:177–179, BA 17§10n5 (= p. 298) and PH 1§21 (= p. 28). On the accent of rhapsōidós, see Durante p. 177.

[ back ] 22. When I use the expression subject of song here, I mean the subject matter of the humnos, not the grammatical subject. In the grammar of a humnos ‘hymn’ as a song, the divinity who figures as the subject of the song is in fact the grammatical object of the verb of singing the song.

[ back ] 23. Martin 2000b.

[ back ] 24. Martin 2000b.

[ back ] 25. West 1999:373, with further reference to West 1983:7–20, 108–111. See now Riedweg 2002, especially p. 101.

[ back ] 26. Martin 2001.

[ back ] 27. Martin 2000b.

[ back ] 28. Riedweg 2002:14.

[ back ] 29. HC 3§33.

[ back ] 30. Hornblower 1991:17, especially with reference to Thucydides 1.3.3.

[ back ] 31. Hornblower 1991:523. At PP 81n64, I had gone so far as to suggest that Thucydides may have heard this Hymn to Apollo performed at the Panathenaia. I would now say it differently. It is more likely, I now think, that such a performance would have been a special event at one particular celebration of the Panathenaia, connected with the celebration of the Delia at 426. On the occasion of most celebrations of the Panathenaia in the fifth century BCE, I think that only the Iliad and the Odyssey were performed. Like the rest of hexameter poetry, the Hymn to Apollo would have become too outmoded in content to be performed regularly at the Panathenaia in the late fifth century BCE. As we are about to see from the upcoming analysis of its content, the Homeric Hymn (3) to Apollo as we have it is far more suitable for performance at the Panathenaia in the late sixth century.

[ back ] 32. In Herodotus 5.67.1, the reference to rhapsodic contests in performing Homēreia epea at a festival in Sikyon during the tyranny of Kleisthenes does not specify the content of this ‘Homeric epic’ except to say that the themes of this epic highlight Argos and the Argives. These themes are of course appropriate not only to the Iliad but also to the Thebais and the Epigonoi: further analysis in PH 1§10n22 (= p. 22).

[ back ] 33. For a parallel to the syntax of τῇ τε δὴ ἄλλῃ πλαζόμενος καὶ …, see Herodotus 3.61.3.

[ back ] 34. I question the judgment of modern editors who bracket sections 4 and 5 of Herodotus 2.116. Granted, the topic in these sections is the detour of Menelaos and Helen in Egypt after the war at Troy, not the detour of Paris and Helen before the war. But these passages are relevant to what Herodotus says thereafter (2.118–119) about Helen in Egypt after the war. Herodotus is making the point that there are other Homeric stories about Helen in Egypt, whereas there are no other Homeric stories about Helen in Phoenicia.

[ back ] 35. See again the previous note.