Homeric Questions

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Chapter 3. Homer and the Evolution of a Homeric Text

In order to find a historical context for the writing down of the Homeric text, the most obvious strategy is to look for a stage in ancient Greek history when the technology of writing could produce a text, in manuscript form, that conferred a level of authority distinct from but equivalent to the authority conferred by an actual performance. As we have seen in the previous chapter, the opportunity for a text to become the equivalent of a performance already exists in the case of early poetic inscriptions from the eighth century BCE onwards. But it is another matter when it comes to manuscripts as distinct from inscriptions. It is only at a later period, after 550 BCE or so, that we begin to see actual examples of the use of writing in the form of manuscripts. As we will now see, some of these examples involve the use of a manuscript for purposes of a transcript, that is, in order to record any given composition and to control the circumstances of any given performance. [1]

It is, then, in this era of the tyrants, the Peisistratidai, that we may imagine a plausible historical occasion for the transcription of the {66|67} Homeric poems in manuscript form. As we will see further below, the plausibility seems enhanced by various reports from the ancient world about an event that some Classicists have described as the Peisistratean recension of the Homeric poems. Before we can take up the whole question of such a “recension,” however, we must first examine further what exactly it means to speak of a transcript in the era of the Peisistratidai and thereafter.

By contrast, a transcript is not an equivalent to performance but merely a potential means to achieve performance. To that extent, a transcript in the era of the Peisistratidai may be viewed as a prototypical “script.” In what follows, I will argue that whatever poetry might have been transcribed in this era still has to be defined in terms of oral poetics, that is, it has to be viewed as resulting from a fundamental interplay between the dimensions of composition and performance. Further, I will continue to argue that there is no evidence for assuming that the Iliad and Odyssey, as compositions, resulted from the writing down of a text. The point remains that the writing down of a composition as text does not mean that writing was a prerequisite for the text’s composition—so long as the oral tradition that produced it continues to stay alive. Moreover, the writing down of any kind of composition that could otherwise be produced in performance will not necessarily freeze the process of recomposition-in-performance. [13] There are numerous parallels in European medieval literature, as we see for example in the following description, with {68|69} reference to fifteenth-century English manuscript production: “the surviving manuscripts of a poem like Beves of Hamptoun make it clear that each act of copying was to a large extent an act of recomposition, and not an episode in a process of decomposition from an ideal form.” [14] Paul Zumthor describes as mouvance the process whereby the act of composition, so long as this composition belongs to a living tradition of composition-in-performance, is regenerated in each act of copying. [15]

The intrinsic applicability of text as metaphor for recomposition-in-performance helps explain a type of myth, attested in a wide variety of cultural contexts, where the evolution of a poetic tradition, moving slowly ahead in time until it reaches a relatively static phase, is reinterpreted by the myth as if it resulted from a single incident, pictured as the instantaneous recovery or even regeneration of a lost text, an archetype. In other words, myth can make its own “big bang” theory for the origins of epic, and it can even feature in its scenario the concept of writing.

The first story is from Sparta, centering on the topic of a disassembled text, scattered here and there throughout the Greek-speaking world, and then reassembled in a single incident, at one {71|72} particular time and place, by a wise man credited with the juridical framework of his society, Lycurgus the lawgiver. According to this story, as reported by Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus 4.4, Lycurgus brought to Sparta the Homeric poems, which he acquired from a lineage of epic performers called the Kreophyleioi, descended from Kreophylos of Samos. [25] In archaic Sparta, it appears that the Kreophyleioi of Samos were more authoritative than the epic performers elsewhere credited with the transmission of Homeric poetry, the Homeridai of Chios: as Aristotle reports (F 611.10 Rose), the Homeric poems were introduced to Sparta by Lycurgus, who got them from the Kreophyleioi when he visited Samos. [26] With reference to the Homeric poems, Plutarch reports that Lycurgus, having received them from the Kreophyleioi, ‘had them written down’, ἐγράψατο (Life of Lycurgus 4.4), and that he then ‘assembled’ them (ibid.). What follows in Plutarch’s account is worth citing verbatim: ἦν γάρ τις ἤδη δόξα τῶν ἐπῶν ἀμαυρὰ παρὰ τοῖς Ἕλλησιν, ἐκέκτηντο δὲ οὐ πολλοὶ μέρη τινά, σποράδην τῆς ποιήσεως, ὡς ἔτυχε, διαφερομένης· γνωρίμην δὲ αὐτὴν καὶ μάλιστα πρῶτος ἐποίησε Λυκοῦργος ‘for there was already a not-too-bright fame attached to these epics among the Greeks, and some of them were in possession [verb kéktēmai] of some portions, since the poetry had been scattered about, carried here and there by chance, and it was Lycurgus who was the first to make it [= the poetry] well-known’ (Life of Lycurgus 4.4).

This detail about a diathétēs ‘arranger’ of poetry brings us to the second of the two ancient Greek examples of the kind of myth that we are presently considering. This second story is from Athens. Even more than the first story, it seems at first to be not a myth but a straightforward account of a historical event. As I will argue presently, however, it can be explained as a myth that happens to account for a historical process. This myth, like others we have already examined, accounts for the evolution of a poetic tradition which, moving slowly ahead in time until it reaches a relatively static phase, is reinterpreted by the myth as if it resulted from a single incident, pictured as the instantaneous recovery or even regeneration of a lost text, an archetype. Again, myth is offering a “big bang” theory for the origins of epic. As I will argue, what makes the Athenian version of this type of myth more distinct than other versions is that we know more about the historical circumstances of its ultimate political appropriation.

For now, a summary of the Athenian story will suffice. According to Tzetzes (Anecdota Graeca 1.6 ed. Cramer), a certain Onomakritos, the same person whom we have just seen described by Herodotus as a diathétēs ‘arranger’ of oracular poetry (7.6.3), was the member of a group of four men commissioned in the reign of Peisistratos to supervise the ‘arranging’ of the Homeric poems, which were before then ‘scattered about’: διέθηκαν οὑτωσὶ σποράδην οὔσας τὸ πρίν. [29] There is a convergent report in Aelian, Varia Historia 13.14, where the introduction of Homeric poetry to Sparta by Lycurgus the lawgiver is explicitly compared to a subsequent introduction of the Iliad and Odyssey to Athens by Peisistratos. The most explicit version of the story can be found in Cicero De oratore 3.137: Peisistratos, as one of the Seven Sages (septem fuisse dicuntur uno tempore, qui sapientes et haberentur et vocarentur), [30] was supposedly so learned and eloquent that “he is said to be the first person ever to arrange the books of Homer, previously scattered about, in the order that we have today”: qui primus {73|74} Homeri libros confusos antea sic disposuisse dicitur, ut nunc habemus. [31] In these accounts of the supposedly original Athenian reception of Homeric poetry, reinforced by the story in “Plato” Hipparchus 228b claiming that it was Hipparchus, the son of Peisistratos, who introduced the Homeric poems to Athens, we confront the germ of the construct that has come to be known among Classicists as the “Peisistratean recension.” [32]

The politics involved in the attribution of this Homeric institution to the Peisistratidai are to be expected. Also to be expected, I suggest, is that this attribution to the tyrants would in time be ousted by an attribution to Solon, once the tyrants themselves were ousted: it makes sense for the credit that they once could claim as would-be lawgivers to be retrojected to an earlier figure, Solon, whose status as primary culture hero of the State, originator of a wide variety of institutions, makes him the ideal recipient of any credit taken away from others who came after him. {75|76}

Aside from instances of bravura in compression and expansion, however, we should also expect to find in living oral traditions the more ordinary levels of these phenomena, where the context of a given occasion leads to shortening or lengthening by default. Even in such default situations, however, it appears that relatively longer versions of a given epic performance have more to say about their given occasion than do shorter versions. We have considerable evidence about the potential monumentality of Indian epic performance, in both size and scope, and how that monumentality is managed in terms of actual performance. A key element is the subdivision of monumental epic performance into performance segments—which may be called “episodes”:

Drawing attention to the principle of unevenly weighted episodes in this description, I propose that the evolution of ancient Greek epic involved a progression from uneven weighting toward even weighting. Let us take as our point of departure the example of uneven weighting {77|78} that we have just considered in the Indian evidence. We find a striking analogy in the following description of Homeric poetry at an early stage when it was supposedly divided into separate narrative portions, which have actually been described by one commentator as “episodes”: [

ὅτι τὰ Ὁμήρου ἔπη πρότερον διῃρημένα ᾖδον οἱ παλαιοί. οἷον ἔλεγον Τὴν ἐπὶ ναυσὶ μάχην καὶ Δολώνειάν τινα καὶ Ἀριστείαν Ἀγαμέμνονος καὶ Νεῶν κατάλογον καὶ Πατρόκλειαν καὶ Λύτρα καὶ Ἐπὶ Πατρόκλῳ ἆθλα καὶ Ὁρκίων ἀφάνισιν. ταῦτα ὑπὲρ τῆς Ἰλιάδος. ὑπὲρ δὲ τῆς ἑτέρας Τὰ ἐν Πύλῳ καὶ Τὰ ἐν Λακεδαίμονι καὶ Καλυψοῦς ἄντρον καὶ Τὰ περὶ τὴν σχεδίαν καὶ Ἀλκίνου ἀπολόγους καὶ Κυκλώπειαν καὶ Νέκυιαν καὶ Τὰ τῆς Κίρκης καὶ Νίπτρα καὶ Μνηστήρων φόνον καὶ Τὰ ἐν ἀγρῷ καὶ Τὰ ἐν Λαέρτου. ὀψὲ δὲ Λυκοῦργος ὁ Λακεδαιμόνιος ἀθρόαν πρῶτος ἐς τὴν Ἑλλάδα ἐκόμισε τὴν Ὁμήρου ποίησιν· τὸ δὲ ἀγώγιμον τοῦτο ἐξ Ἰωνίας, ἡνίκα ἀπεδήμησεν, ἤγαγεν. ὕστερον δὲ Πεισίστρατος συναγαγὼν ἀπέφηνε τὴν Ἰλιάδα καὶ Ὀδύσσειαν.

That the ancients used to sing the poetic utterances of Homer in separate parts: for example, the spoke of “The Battle over the Ships,” “A Story of Dolon,” “The Greatest Heroic Moments [aristeía] of Agamemnon,” “The Catalogue of Ships,” “The Story of Patroklos,” “The Ransom,” “The Funeral Games over Patroklos,” and “The Breaking of the Oaths.” These were in place of the Iliad. In place of the other poem there were “The Happenings in Pylos,” “The Happenings in Sparta,” “The Cave of Calypso,” “The Story of the Raft,” “The Stories told to Alkinoos,” “The Story of the Cyclops,” “The Spirits of the Dead,” “The Story of Circe,” “The Bath,” “The Killing of the Suitors,” “The Happenings in the Countryside,” and “The Happenings at Laertes’ Place.” At a late date, Lycurgus of Sparta was the first to bring the collected poetry of Homer to Greece. He brought this cargo from Ionia, when he traveled there. Later, Peisistratos collected it together and featured it as the Iliad and Odyssey.

For earlier stages of Homeric poetry, we may link the principle of uneven weighting with the preeminence, let us say, of the Achilles theme in the narrative traditions about the Trojan War—at the expense of themes magnifying the epic deeds of other heroes at Troy. {78|79} This preeminence or even popularity of Achilles is surely still reflected by the Iliad that we have. As for the later stages of Homeric poetry, however, we see an integration of epic themes that had been sloughed off, as it were, by the driving theme of Achilles, so that the Iliad in the end has something to say about practically every epic theme connected with the Trojan War: it re-stages, in the final year of the war, a Catalogue of Ships—which would be more appropriate, like the Catalogue of the Cypria, to the very beginning of the Trojan War; it re-introduces Helen of Troy—as if for the first time, re-matching Menelaos and Paris to fight over her as if she had just been abducted; it even re-tells, toward the end of its own narrative, the Judgment of Paris—which had ultimately started it all. [
44] Such feats of narrative integration, I suggest, exemplify an impulse of even weighting.

I propose now to refine this notion of even weighting by considering the actual sequence as well as the content of what is being performed. Let us start with a comparative example, taken from the description by Keith H. Basso of a girls’ puberty ritual or na ih es as performed by a group of Apaches living at Cibecue on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. [45] This ritual is made up of eight distinct parts or “phases”:

I draw attention to the positioning of the songs within a preordained sequence. There is a set of 32 or so of these songs that are sung at the na ih es, and it is believed that the whole set, collectively called go jon sin’ ‘full-of-great-happiness songs’, was “originally” sung by an archetypal female known as Changing Woman. [
47] The totality that is {79|80} realized every time its “parts” are performed in song is merely notional. Moreover, there is a correlation here of meaning and sequence, where part of the meaning is the sequence:

In this case, the option of free variation, a function of meaning, is subordinated to the non-option of fixed order, which is also a function of meaning. Such a pattern of subordination, I suggest, is a feature of even weighting.

In light of these considerations, let us reconsider the final and definitive stages of Homeric poetry, marked by a tightening-up of epic conventions. My focus is on a story that explains the institution, in Athens, of a customary law applying to the festival of the Panathenaia, where the performance of the Iliad and Odyssey by rhapsōidoí ‘rhapsodes’ was not allowed to favor some parts of the epic narrative over others, in that the narrative had to be performed by one rhapsode after another in sequence:

“Plato” Hipparchus 228b–c

According to another version, this law about fixed narrative sequence in Homeric performance was introduced not by Hipparkhos of the Peisistratidai but rather by the lawmaker of Athens himself, Solon: τά τε Ὁμήρου ἐξ ὑποβολῆς γέγραφε ῥαψῳδεῖσθαι, οἷον ὅπου ὁ πρῶτος ἔληξεν, ἐκεῖθεν ἄρχεσθαι τὸν ἐχόμενον ‘he [Solon the Lawgiver] wrote a law that the works of Homer were to be performed rhapsodically [rhapsōidéō], by relay [ex hupobolēs], so that wherever the first person left off, from that point the next person would start’ (Diogenes Laertius 1.57). [
51] We have already observed that the story is appropriate to either Solon or Peisistratos in the role—deserved or undeserved—of lawgiver. More important for now, in any case, is that fact that these stories attempt to explain the unity of Homeric composition as a result of sequencing in performance.

The diachronic reality of the rhapsōidoí ‘rhapsodes’ is expressed indirectly by the various myths that link the fixity of Homeric composition with the fixation of rhapsodic performance. According to the myths that we have considered so far, the reintegration of a prototypical text causes both the fixity of Homeric composition and the fixation of rhapsodic performance. But there are other myth patterns that are even more radical, making the concept of a sequence of rhapsodes more basic than the concept of a prototypical text. As we have seen, the evolution of a poetic tradition, moving slowly ahead in time until it reaches a relatively static phase, can be reinterpreted by myth as if it resulted from a single incident, a “big bang,” pictured as the instantaneous recovery or even regeneration of a lost text, an archetype. As we will now see, the “big bang” can also be pictured as the actual sequencing of rhapsodes.

The scholia for Pindar Nemean 2.1d proceed to offer yet another version, which explicitly links the term rhapsōidós with the innovation of an equalized distribution of “parts” assigned to the performers of Homeric poetry: {83|84} οἱ δέ, ὅτι κατὰ μέρος πρότερον τῆς ποιήσεως διαδεδομένης τῶν ἀγωνιστῶν ἕκαστος ὅ τι βούλοιτο μέρος ᾔδε, τοῦ δὲ ἄθλου τοῖς νικῶσιν ἀρνὸς ἀποδεδειγμένου προσαγορευθῆναι τότε μὲν ἀρνῳδούς, αὖθις δὲ ἑκατέρας τῆς ποιήσεως εἰσενεχθείσης τοὺς ἀγωνιστὰς οἷον ἀκουμένους πρὸς ἄλληλα τὰ μέρη καὶ τὴν σύμπασαν ποίησιν ἐπιόντας, ῥαψῳδοὺς προσαγορευθῆναι, ταῦτά φησι Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀργεῖος ‘others say that, previously—since the poetry had been divided part by part, with each of the competitors singing whichever part he wanted, and since the designated prize for the winners had been a lamb—[those competitors] were in those days called arnōidoí [= lamb-singers], but then, later on—since the competitors, whenever each of the two poems [56] was introduced, were mending the parts to each other, as it were, and moving toward the whole composition—they were called rhapsōidoí. These things are said by Dionysius of Argos [between 4th and 3rd centuries BCE; FGH 308 F 2]’.

Eustathius, in his Commentary on the Iliad (vol. 1 p. 10), quotes the Pindaric description (Nemean 2.1-3) of the Homērídai ‘Sons of {86|87} Homer’ as ῥαπτῶν ἐπέων … ἀοιδοί ‘singers [aoidoí] of sewn-together [rhaptá] utterances [épē]’, interpreting these words as a periphrasis of the concept inherent in the word rhapsōidoí ‘rhapsodes’. Eustathius goes on to offer what he considers a second interpretation (again, 1.10), claiming that this concept of sewing together can be taken either in the sense that we have seen made explicit in Pindar’s wording or in a more complex sense – a sense that I think is actually implicit in the same Pindaric wording – which emphasizes the characteristic unity of the Iliad and the Odyssey: ῥάπτειν δὲ ἢ ἁπλῶς, ὡς εἴρηται, τὸ συντιθέναι ἢ τὸ κατὰ εἱρμόν τινα ῥαφῇ ὁμοίως εἰς ἓν ἄγειν τὰ διεστῶτα. σποράδην γάρ, φασί, κειμένης καὶ κατὰ μέρος διῃρημένης τῆς Ὁμηρικῆς ποιήσεως, οἱ ᾄδοντες αὐτὴν συνέρραπτον οἷον τὰ εἰς ἓν ὕφος ᾀδόμενα ‘sewing together [rháptō] either in the simple sense, as just mentioned, of putting together or, alternatively, in the sense of bringing different things, in accordance with some kind of sequencing [heirmós] in sewing, uniformly into one thing; for they say that Homeric poetry, after it had been scattered about and divided into parts, was sewn together by those who sang it, like songs sung into a single fabric [húphos]’.

Following up on what he considers two different interpretations of Pindar Nemean 2.1-3, Eustathius (again, p. 10) offers a third one as well: that the concept of sewing together songs is parallel to the concept of rhapsōidía, a word that he uses to designate any one of the twenty-four books of the Iliad or Odyssey. Although this interpretation still invokes the esthetic principle of sewing songs together into a unified whole, the songs are now visualized textually, as separate rhapsōidíai or ‘books’ of Homer. Eustathius contrasts this usage of rhapsōidíai as ‘books’ of Homer of with what he describes in the same context as earlier conventions of “the ancients,” the majority of whom had referred to the totality of Homeric poetry as rhapsōidía ‘rhapsody’ and to those who sing it, as rhapsōidoí ‘rhapsodes’ (p. 10): οἱ δὲ πλείους τῶν παλαιῶν τήν τε ὅλην Ὁμηρικὴν ποίησιν ῥαψῳδίαν λέγουσι καὶ ῥαψῳδοὺς τοὺς αὐτὴν ᾄδοντας ‘but the majority of the ancients refer to the totality of Homeric poetry as rhapsōidía and to those singing it as rhapsōidoí ’.

The mythical view of the poet as a rhapsode implies not only that he is a performer. The metaphor of sewing, as conveyed by the word rhapsōidós, refers also to the poet’s powers as a composer. Moreover, this metaphor of sewing is closely related to another metaphor, that of woodworking, which refers to the process of poetic composition in a strikingly analogous way.

In the poetic traditions of Indo-European languages, we find a direct attestation of a metaphor that compares a well-composed song to a well-crafted chariot-wheel: in the oldest Indic poetic traditions, we see the verb takṣ- ‘join, fit together’, regularly used to designate {89|90} the handiwork of a carpenter, combined in one passage (Rig-Veda 1.130.6) with the direct object vāc– ‘poetic voice’ (cognate of Latin vōx); in the same passage, this combination is then made explicitly parallel to that of takṣ– plus the direct object rátha– ‘wheel’ (in the metonymic sense of ‘chariot’; cf. the Latin cognate rota ‘wheel’). [77] The Indic root takṣ- ‘join, fit together’, designating the craft of a carpenter, is cognate with the root of Greek téktōn, meaning ‘carpenter’, which is applied in Pindar Pythian 3.112–114 as a metaphor for the poet as master carpenter or “joiner” of words (épos plural; cf. the cognate vácas-, direct object of takṣ– in RigVeda 6.32.1). [78] In the Greek poetic traditions, the specific image of crafting a chariot wheel is implicit: the root ar– of ararískō ‘join, fit together’ (the verb refers to the activity of the carpenter in the expression ἤραρε τέκτων ‘the joiner [téktōn] joined together [ar-]’ at Iliad IV 110, XXIII 712) is shared by the word that means ‘chariot-wheel’ in the Linear B texts, harmo (Knossos tablets Sg 1811, So 0437, etc.); in another dialectal form, hárma (ἅρμα) becomes, metonymically, the word for ‘chariot’ (Iliad V 231, etc.). I submit that this same root ar– is shared by the name of Homer, Hómēros, the etymology of which can be explained as ‘he who joins together’ (homo– plus ar-). [79] If this etymology is correct, then the making of the Cycle, the sum total of epic, by the master poet Homer is a metaphor that pictures the crafting of the ultimate chariot-wheel by the ultimate carpenter or “joiner.”

Let us return to the image of Hómēros as a primordial rhapsōidós. We now see that the parallelism between carpenter and weaver as metaphors for the poet corresponds to the association of Hómēros and rhapsōidós.

Particularly influential in questioning the concept of a “Peisistratean recension” has been an article by J. A. Davison, [92] whose negative views are restated in a widely-read chapter dealing with the transmission of the Homeric text in A Companion to Homer. [93] Although Davison explicitly rejects the concept of a “Peisistratean recension,” [94] he speaks of a “Panathenaic text,” [95] with reference to the evidence indicating that the “text” of the Iliad and Odyssey was regularly performed, as we have already seen, at the Athenian festival of the Panathenaia (Lycurgus Against Leokrates 102; “Plato” Hipparchus 228b; Diogenes Laertius 1.57). [96] From his point of view, such a “text” is a script, as it were, for the seasonally recurring performance of the Iliad and Odyssey at the Panathenaia. Presumably, such a “Panathenaic text” eventually became available for private ownership by way of the book-trade at Athens, which we see already flourishing at the end of the fifth century BCE. [97] Davison goes on to offer this warning: “any attempt to speak of a single ‘pre-Alexandrian vulgate’, and still more to create out of it a version of the Panathenaic text by arguing back to sixth- or {94|95} fifth-century Athens from the conditions which existed in Egypt after the establishment of the Alexandrian library, is doomed to failure from the beginning.” [98] Even in this context, however, we note that he speaks of “the Panathenaic text” as if it were a given.

There are other experts who stop short of such a conclusion. Let us begin with what may well be, at the time that I write this, the most widely-read account of the Homeric textual tradition, a chapter by Stephanie West entitled “The Transmission of the Text,” to be found in the opening pages of a new commentary on the Odyssey. [108] While conceding that the editorial work of the earlier Alexandrian scholars Zenodotus and Aristophanes “had little if any effect on the book trade,” West draws a line at the next step in the succession of Alexandrian scholars, the era of Aristarchus, whose scholarly activity is dated around the middle of the second century BCE:

Even if the papyri dated after the era of Aristarchus “offer a text which differs little from that of the medieval manuscripts,” we need not necessarily connect this fact with the activity of Aristarchus. No one, in my opinion, has yet been able to refute successfully the observation of T. W. Allen that Aristarchus’ editorial prescriptions exerted practically no effect on the Homeric text as preserved in the medieval “vulgate” manuscript tradition. [
110] What West has called the eventual “standardization” of the Homeric text after around 150 BCE can be explained in other ways, without recourse to the editorial authority of Aristarchus. One factor, it seems, is the nature of the book-trade during the period in question.

The point remains that, even for West, the textual “standardization” of the Homeric poems after 150 BCE is due to developments in the book-trade, and the Homeric text of this era and thereafter can hardly be described, even in terms of her argument, as an Aristarchean text, let alone an Alexandrian one. Conversely, we may infer that the greater degree of variation in the papyri attested before 150 BCE is due not to the vagaries of a more old-fashioned sort of book-trade but to the absence of even the limited kind of textual standardization that we see taking place after that date.

I find that my position is closest to that of Sealey, to the extent that I too see no proof for the existence of an archetypal Panathenaic manuscript of Homer, any more than there seems to be any proof for an archetypal Alexandrian manuscript. There is, however, room for positing an archetypal Panathenaic form for performing the Iliad and Odyssey, as embodied in a Greek development that we have already compared with similar developments attested in living oral traditions. As we have seen, that development is the Panathenaic rule, attributed either to the Peisistratidai or to Solon himself (“Plato” Hipparchus 228b and Diogenes Laertius 1.57 respectively). [132] It is instructive to consider the following formulation by Sealey:

I disagree with Sealey’s formulation to the extent that the arrangement of the narration is viewed here as a historical event, corresponding to an event in the story that told about the Peisistratidai and how they produced a standard text of the Homeric poems. I propose instead an evolutionary model for both “events,” that is, for both the arrangement of narration and the textualization of the poems.

I must stress again that my goal is not to revive the case for positing a “Peisistratean recension,” where recension is obviously to be understood in the conventional sense of a critical revision that takes into account the basic available sources of a text. Rather, I have approached the problem in a different way by pointing out that the details of reports leading to the very idea of a “Peisistratean recension” happen to match the details of myths explaining the composition, performance, and diffusion of epic. The emphasis of these myths on the ultimate unity or integrity of any given epic, as we see most dramatically illustrated in the classical Persian example, corresponds to the reality of a unified and integrated text, such as the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. It also corresponds to the narratives, already analyzed above, concerning a customary law in effect at the Athenian festival of the Panathenaia, where it was ordained that the performance of the Iliad and Odyssey by rhapsōidoí ‘rhapsodes’ had to follow the sequence of composition, and that the entire composition had to be performed by one rhapsode after another, likewise in their own sequence. Our two clear references to this customary law, “Plato” Hipparchus 228b and Diogenes Laertius 1.57, disagree about the identity of the initiator of this practice, the first source indicating the Peisistratidai and the second, Solon the lawgiver. For our purposes, the question of determining the originator of this custom is irrelevant to the more basic question of the significance of the custom itself. [134] The narratives about this customary law, I submit, serve as a clear indication that unity or integrity of composition was itself a tradition, and was venerated as such. {102|103}

Clearly the act of “interpolation” is viewed as a fraud, as we see from a story about Onomakritos, who is caught red-handed in the act of inserting his own verses into a body of oracular poetry (Herodotus {104|105} 7.6.3). [146] This is the same Onomakritos whom we have already seen described as a diathétēs ‘arranger’ of the oracular poetry possessed by the Peisistratidai (7.6.3), [147] and whom we see described elsewhere as actually performing oracular poems on behalf of the Peisistratidai (Herodotus 7.6.5) [148] This is also the same Onomakritos who is reputedly one of the four “arrangers” of the Homeric poems (Tzetzes in Anecdota Graeca 1.6 ed. Cramer). [149] I have already suggested that, once the Peisistratidai were ousted, the positive stories about their “recension” of the Homeric text could be reshaped by way of transferring the credit for achieving an Athenian version of Homer from the Peisistratidai to Solon the Lawgiver. [150] Meanwhile, the motive of Dieuchidas of Megara is to undermine any standard Athenian version of Homer, since the Athenians had a long history of using citations from Homer – especially from the Catalogue of Ships in Iliad II, in their ongoing territorial claims against Megara. [151] It therefore suits the purposes of Dieuchidas to undermine Solon, who is viewed positively by the Athenians, instead of Peisistratos, who is now viewed negatively by them. What is a matter of “recension” in a positive version of the myth can become a matter of “interpolation” in a later negativized version—as we have just seen in the case of the Peisistratidai and their agent Onomakritos. What Dieuchidas is trying to accomplish, I suggest, is to extend such a negativized version of the myth from Peisistratos to Solon, who would be at that given moment the current culture hero of the positive version.

Let us return to the basics of what we have explored so far on the subject of Homeric textualization. We have concentrated on a relatively static phase of Homeric performance traditions extending roughly from the middle of the eighth century BCE all the way to {105|106} the middle of the sixth, at which point I posit the reaching of a near-textual status for the Iliad and Odyssey in the specific historical context of the Feast of the Panathenaia at Athens, as reorganized under the régime of the Peisistratidai.

This relatively static phase in my evolutionary model for Homeric poetry, lasting almost two centuries and culminating in a near-textual status for the Iliad and Odyssey at Athens under the Peisistratidai, can be correlated with a relatively static phase in the iconographic representations of “Iliadic” and “Odyssean” themes in the archaic period, and the convergences linking epic and iconographic treatments of epic themes become increasingly pronounced as we approach the middle of the sixth century BCE.

The evidence of such examples adduced by Friis Johansen makes clear that we are dealing with iconographical references to Iliadic narrative traditions, not to the Iliadic text as we know it. Still, I suggest that a relatively static phase in the development of Iliadic narrative traditions is what makes it possible for us to recognize as distinctly Iliadic whatever correspondences we find in iconographical evidence that is contemporaneous with this posited phase.

If indeed we are dealing with a lengthy static phase of Iliadic narrative traditions, not with the Iliadic text as we know it, we may still expect considerable degrees of variation. If we take as an example the François Vase, dated around 570 BCE and of Attic provenience, we see there a representation of the Funeral Games for Patroklos, converging with the narrative of Iliad XXIII in the following details: (1) five chariot-teams, (2) Achilles as president of the games, (3) the participation of Diomedes in the chariot race. [157] There are also the following narrative details in the vase painting that diverge from details in Iliad XXIII: (1) each chariot is drawn by a team of four horses, not two as in the Iliad; (2) besides Diomedes, the participants are Odysseus, Automedon, Damasippos, and Hippothoön rather than Eumelos, Menelaos, Antilokhos, and Meriones, as in the Iliad; Diomedes comes in third, while he is the winner in the Iliad. [158] Still, the relative stability of narrative traditions in archaic Greek iconography is illustrated by the similarity between the painting on the François Vase and another painting, dated almost a hundred years earlier, on a proto-Corinthian aryballos:

In this context, we may note in general Friis Johansen’s own frequent observations of variations between the corresponding narrative details in the attested artifacts and in the attested epic of the Iliad. Still, if we choose to emphasize the continuity that is manifested in the phenomenon of these variations, then Friis Johansen’s terminus post quem of 630 BCE or so for the inception of distinctively “Iliadic” themes in iconographical representations need not be deemed too early. [
160] As we turn to later developments, we see that significant variations persist until the middle of the sixth century BCE or even as late as 530 BCE, which can serve as a terminus post quem for the textualization or quasi-textualization of the Iliad and Odyssey. [161] It may also serve as a terminus post quem for reforms of the Homeric performance traditions during the régime of the Peisistratidai.

The time has come to reach conclusions. The comparative evidence of living oral epic traditions goes a long way to show that unity or integrity results from the dynamic interaction of composition, performance, and diffusion in the making of epic. Such evidence, added to the internal evidence of the Iliad and Odyssey as texts, points to an evolutionary process in the making of Homeric poetry.

And yet, this envisioning of Homer in evolutionary terms may leave some of us with a sense of aching emptiness. It is as if we had suddenly lost a cherished author whom we could always admire for the ultimate achievement of the Iliad and Odyssey. But surely what we have really admired all along is not the author, about whom we never did really know anything historically, but the Homeric poems themselves. To this extent, the evolutionary model may even become {111|112} a source of consolation: we may have lost a historical author whom we never knew anyway, but we have recovered in the process a mythical author who is more than just an author: he is Hómēros, culture hero of Hellenism, a most cherished teacher of all Hellenes, who will come back to life with every new performance of his Iliad and Odyssey. {112|113}


[ back ] 1. Cf. Nagy 1990a:158–162, 168–174.

[ back ] 2. Nagy 1990a:158–162; also 75–76n114, with reference to Aloni 1986:120–123; cf. Catenacci 1993:8n2. Also Shapiro 1990 / 1992 / 1993.

[ back ] 3. More on Herodotus 5.90.2 in Nagy 1990a: 158–159.

[ back ] 4. Nagy 1990a:158.

[ back ] 5. Herodotus implies that the tyrants, by having control over the performance of poetry, have the power to withhold poetry from the public, and in that sense they begrudge the public their opportunities to hear poetry. In the propaganda of the tyrants themselves, however, they presented themselves not as stinting or begrudging but rather lavish and generous to the public in providing them with opportunities to hear poetry. See Nagy 1990a:160–161, including a discussion of “Plato” Hipparchus 228d, on which more at n50 below.

[ back ] 6. Nagy 1990a:168.

[ back ] 7. Ibid.

[ back ] 8. Thomas 1989:21n22, following Immerwahr 1964.

[ back ] 9. Further discussion in Nagy 1990a:169, 217, 219.

[ back ] 10. Nagy 1990a:219.

[ back ] 11. It is for this reason that apodekhthénta ‘made public’, applied in the very first sentence of Herodotus to the deeds of Hellenes and barbarians that are to be highlighted by history, can be translated as ‘performed’. Nagy 1990a:219: “The obvious explanation for these usages of apo-deík-numai in the sense of performing rather than publicly presenting or demonstrating or displaying a deed is that the actual medium for publicly presenting the given deed is in all these cases none other than the language of Herodotus.”

[ back ] 12. From an insider’s point of view, writing can become a “technology toy”: witness the last words in the Helen of Gorgias (DK 82 B 11.21): Ἑλένης μὲν ἐγκώμιον, ἐμὸν δὲ παίγνιον ‘Helen’s encomium, my plaything’.

[ back ] 13. Nagy 1990a:19 and the cross-references given at n9 there.

[ back ] 14. See Pearsall 1984:126–127. For medieval Irish parallels, see the discussion of [J. F.] Nagy 1986, especially 289.

[ back ] 15. Zumthor 1972:507. For an application of this principle in the editing of medieval lyric texts, see the exemplary work of Pickens 1977 (also 1978), as discussed in Nagy 1995a ch. 1.

[ back ] 16. Nagy 1990a:158–160.

[ back ] 17. See p. 40 above.

[ back ] 18. See p. 67 above.

[ back ] 19. Nagy 1990a:74n110, following Davidson 1985:111–127; cf. Davidson 1994:29–53.

[ back ] 20. Nagy, ibid., following [J. F.] Nagy 198:292–293; cf. also [J. F.] Nagy 1983 and 1986 (especially 284 and 289 in the latter article).

[ back ] 21. Lathuillère 1966:176–177. For an indispensable discussion, see Huot 1991:218–221.

[ back ] 22. Blackburn 1989:32n25.

[ back ] 23. Smith 1990:18, who also observes (17–18): “it may be that the orality of these traditions is a strength rather than a weakness, for Hindu worship—including Vedic ritual—has always emphasized oral skills: books may be used for learning from, but they are not for use in ritual performance, and there is no ‘holy book’ in Hinduism to compare with the Bible, the Koran, or the Gurū granth sāhib. The Vedas are holy of course, but they are holy in performance, not as a manuscript or printed volume.” Contrasting the “primary” orality of the Rajasthani epic traditions with the “secondary oral ability of the literate Brahmin who learns texts from a book,” Smith concludes (18): “It is an intriguing paradox that the two widely-separated worlds of orality and literacy should each seek legitimacy by claiming characteristics belonging to the other.”

[ back ] 24. For some detailed examples, see Nagy 1985:36–41; also Nagy 1990a:170, 368.

[ back ] 25. In another version, which goes back to Ephorus of Cyme (FGH 70 F 129 by way of Strabo 10.4.19), Lycurgus acquired the Homeric poems directly from Homer at Chios; cf. Davison 1955:15n22. For more on the mythological relationship between Homer, “ancestor” of the Homeridai of Chios and Kreophylos, “ancestor” of the Kreophyleioi of Samos, see Nagy 1990a:23 and 74, with special reference to Strabo 14.1.18 and Callimachus Epigram 6. Cf. Burkert 1972.

[ back ] 26. More on the Kreophyleioi of Samos, as rivals of the Homeridai of Chios, in Nagy 1990a:23, 74. Cf. Davison 1955:15n22; also Janko 1992:30n45, who at 31n50 considers the possibility that the Aristotle story about Lycurgus in Samos goes back to the late sixth century.

[ back ] 27. See pp. 65–67 above. Further details in Nagy 1990a:159, 168–169, 220.

[ back ] 28. Further details in Nagy 1990a:174.

[ back ] 29. Ibid. Allen 1924.233 thinks that the source of Tzetzes here was Athenodorus, head of the Library at Pergamum. Note the parallel wording in the Palatine Anthology, 11.442: ὃς τὸν Ὅμηρον ἤθροισα, σποράδην τὸ πρὶν ἀειδόμενον ‘I who gathered together Homer, who was previously being sung here and there, scattered all over the place’. See also Pausanias 7.26.13.

[ back ] 30. There is emphasis on the idea that each of the Seven Sages except Thales had been head of state (Cicero De oratore 3.137: hi omnes praeter Milesium Thalen civitatibus suis praefuerunt). More on the Seven Sages tradition in Martin 1993.

[ back ] 31. On Cicero’s own reinterpretation of this myth, see Boyd 1995b.

[ back ] 32. For a brief restatement and survey of primary information pertinent to the concept of a “Peisistratean recension,” see Allen 1924.225-238. See also N 1990a.21-22n20. For a most useful bibliography on the concept, see Janko 1992.29, whose own position is that “the text existed before [Peisistratos’] time.” At p. 32, with bibliography, Janko brings up the suggestion of earlier scholars that the Peisistratean recension was a “theory” invented by the scholars of Pergamon. For a compelling defense of the reliability of the actual information provided by “Plato” Hipparchus 228b, see Davison 1955.10-13.

[ back ] 33. See p. 21 above. Cf. Nagy 1985:33 and Nagy 1990a:170, 368 (with special reference to Lycurgus, as portrayed in Plutarch Life of Lycurgus 4.2–3).

[ back ] 34. See especially Nagy 1990a:185–186, 226n61, 243n122, 333–334.

[ back ] 35. See especially Nagy 1990a:185–186.

[ back ] 36. More on the parallelisms between the Kreophyleioi and Homeridai at Nagy 1990a: 23, 74.

[ back ] 37. Davison 1955:7; cf. Sealey 1957:342–351. Besides “Plato” Hipparchus 228b and Diogenes Laertius 1.57, the following passages are also pertinent: Isocrates Panegyricus 159, Lycurgus Against Leokrates 102, Plutarch Pericles 13.6; cf. Davison 1955:7–15, with whom I agree that the Panathenaia, as reshaped by Pericles in 442 (cf. Plutarch, ibid.), included competitive performances, by rhapsōidoí ‘rhapsodes’, of consecutive parts of the Iliad and Odyssey, but I disagree with the idea (Davison 1955:8) that Pericles originated these competitive performances. I also agree with the argument (Davison 1955:8) that Isocrates’ reference to “musical” contests (τοῖς μουσικοῖς ἄθλοις, ibid.) includes the institution of rhapsodic contests.

[ back ] 38. On the notion of an eighth-century Homer’s “monumental” Iliad and Odyssey, see Kirk 1985.10. For an important redefinition of Homeric monumentality, see Martin 1989, especially 223.

[ back ] 39. Nagy 1990b:55, following Lord 1960:25–27, 68–98, 99–123. Cf. Svenbro 1988:80n20 (= 1993:70n18).

[ back ] 40. See Martin 1989:196, 205, 206–230 (especially 215n11) on the “expansion aesthetic” of the Iliad. Martin refers to instances of compression in terms of “telescoping”: see 1989:213, 215. For instances of contrasting expansion and compression, see Martin 1989:34, 213, 215 (with n11), 216–219, 225.

[ back ] 41. Blackburn and Flueckiger 1989.11. Highlighting mine.

[ back ] 42. Sealey 1957:344 and 351n115.

[ back ] 43. Translation after Sealey 1957:344.

[ back ] 44. Cf. Nagy 1992c:x–xi.

[ back ] 45. Basso 1966.

[ back ] 46. Basso 1966:153.

[ back ] 47. Basso 1966:151. Needless to say, the notion of song is understood here not in terms of a text but in terms of a composition that is recognized, within the tradition, as the “same” composition each time that it is performed.

[ back ] 48. Basso p. 153.

[ back ] 49. The archaizing phraseology of the entire passage about Hipparkhos in “Plato” Hipparchus 228b–229d, only a small portion of which I quote above, is strikingly consistent in leaving unspecified the question of authorship and in emphasizing instead the fact of authority, which is expressed as sophía ‘expertise’ in the understanding of poetry; this sophía is in turn implicitly equated with sophía in performing this poetry, without specification of the process of actually composing the poetry. For further details, see Nagy 1990a:161.

[ back ] 50. Hipparkhos also ‘brings over’ [komízō], by ship, the poet Anacreon from Athens (228c), just as he ‘brings over’ [komízō] the épē ‘poetic utterances’ of Homer in the passage quoted here (228b). According to the logic of the narrative, Hipparkhos demonstrates to the people of Athens that he is not ‘stinting with his sophía’, σοφίας φθονεῖν (228c), by virtue of providing the people of Athens with the poetry and songmaking of Homer, Anacreon, and Simonides (the latter is coupled with Anacreon, 228c); by implication, his sophía ‘expertise’ is the key to the performances of these poets (Nagy 1990a:161). We may ask why the application of komízō to the epic of Homer is matched by its application to the songs of Anacreon and, by implication, of Simonides. Perhaps the point of the story is that Hipparkhos did something more than simply invite these poets for a single occasion of performance: rather, he institutionalized such performances in contests of kitharōidía ‘lyre-singing’ at the festival of the Panathenaia (on which subject cf. Nagy 1990a: 98, 104), parallel to contests of rhapsōidía at the same festival.

[ back ] 51. Further analysis in Nagy 1990a:21, 23. It is argued by Schnapp-Gourbeillon 1988:810 that the law mentioned in these testimonia concerns not the order of performance but the idea that only “Homer” was supposed to be performed. I would counterargue that the explicit reference in Diogenes Laertius 1.57 to Solon the lawgiver as the one who set the sequence of performance suggests that the specification of the sequence was indeed part of the law. Likewise in “Plato” Hipparchus 228b, the pronoun αὐτά ‘these things’ designating what the rhapsodes had to perform in fixed sequence surely refers to τὰ Ὁμήρου ἔπη ‘the [poetic] utterances of Homer’.

[ back ] 52. Again, Davison 1955:7.

[ back ] 53. For more on the notion of “diachronic cross-referencing” in the Homeric tradition, see Nagy 1990a:53–54n8. On the “immanence” of referencing, not just cross-referencing, see Foley 1991: the referent of a reference in oral poetics is not restricted to the immediate context but extends to analogous contexts heard in previous performances.

[ back ] 54. Nagy 1990b [1982]:42; detailed discussion in Nagy 1990a:21–28. This conclusion is corroborated by Ford 1988.

[ back ] 55. The relevant passage is printed in Allen 1924:230.

[ back ] 56. The expression ἑκατέρας τῆς ποιήσεως ‘each of the two poems’ implies that the Iliad and the Odyssey are meant.

[ back ] 57. Schmitt 1967:300–301 (his discussion of the morphology of rhapsōidós is indispensable), Durante 1976:177–179, Nagy 1979:298 par. 10n5 and 1990a:28. On the accent of rhapsōidós, see Durante 1976:177.

[ back ] 58. For a more detailed discussion of Pindar Nemean 2.1–3, see Nagy 1995a:ch.3.

[ back ] 59. Nagy 1990b:53–54.

[ back ] 60. Nagy 1990a:22 (especially n23), 376.

[ back ] 61. Nagy 1979:5–6, 8–9; 1990a:375–377. On the mimesis or “re-enactment” of Homer by rhapsodes, see Nagy 1995a:ch.3.

[ back ] 62. Cf. Nagy 1990a:23. On an alternative tradition, which attributes the final form of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo not to Homer but to Kynaithos of Chios, a rhapsode who supposedly could not trace himself back to Homer (scholia for Pindar Nemean 2.1), see Nagy 1990a:22–23, with further bibliography.

[ back ] 63. Nagy 1990a:353. The genitive of oímē at Odyssey viii 74, marking the point of departure for the performance of the first song of Demodokos, is functionally a genitive of origin, parallel to the origin-marking adverb hóthen ‘starting from the very point where’ in Pindar’s representation of the prooímion at Nemean 2.1.

[ back ] 64. Durante 1976:176–177, pace Chantraine DELG 463 and 783. Further discussion in Nagy 1995a:ch.3.

[ back ] 65. Schmitt 1967:300–301, Durante 1976:177–179, Nagy 1979:298 par. 10n5 and 1990a:28.

[ back ] 66. Schmitt 1967:298–300. For arguments against the view that the terminus of this metaphor must be set in the era of Simonides (Scheid and Svenbro 1994:119–138), see Nagy 1995a:ch.3.

[ back ] 67. Schmitt 1967:300.

[ back ] 68. Schmitt 1967:14–15, Dubuisson 1989:223; on Latin textus, see Scheid and Svenbro 1994:139–162, especially 160 with reference to Quintilian Institutio oratoria 9.4.13.

[ back ] 69. The arguments that follow are developed further in Nagy 1995a:ch.3.

[ back ] 70. [S.] West 1988:39–40 accepts the possibility that the book-divisions of the Iliad and Odyssey reflect performance-units ordained by Hipparkhos, son of Peisistratos, of the Peisistratidai; cf. also Janko 1992:31n47 for a summary of her views. Jensen 1980:88–89 likewise considers the book-divisions to be performance-related; she goes on to devise a dictation theory that is meant to account for these divisions.

[ back ] 71. Taplin 1992:285–293 argues that the book-divisions “do not go back to the formation of the poems” (285) and that they are relatively recent, probably the work of Aristarchus. Taplin’s main line of argumentation is that he can find other possible episode-breaks, some that seem to him even more distinct than the breaks separating the presently constituted Books.

[ back ] 72. What may be a three-part division in one stage of the tradition, which is what Taplin posits for the Iliad, may not necessarily be incompatible with a 24-part division at another stage. Further argumentation in Nagy 1995a:ch.5–7.

[ back ] 73. Scheid and Svenbro 1994:120 concede that the concept of rhapsōidós is driven by the metaphor of songmaking as sewing together. Still, they argue that this metaphor cannot be taken further back and applied to Homer. In their view, to repeat, the metaphors of weaving and sewing together did not exist before the era of Simonides. See Nagy 1995a:ch.3, where it is argued at length that these metaphors are at least residually attested in even the earliest evidence and that the concept of Homer as rhapsode is basic to Homer.

[ back ] 74. Nagy 1990a:52–81.

[ back ] 75. Nagy 1990a:70–79.

[ back ] 76. See p. 38 above. Cf. Pfeiffer 1968:73.

[ back ] 77. Nagy 1979:297–300, following Schmitt 1967:296–298.

[ back ] 78. Ibid.

[ back ] 79. Nagy 1990a:300. Bader 1989:269n114 offers a different etymology, the arguments against which are presented in Nagy 1995a:ch.3.

[ back ] 80. Nagy 1979:233–234, 310–311 par. 2n3.

[ back ] 81. Schmitt 1967:14–15, Nagy 1979:297–300. Whereas the root of Greek tékhnē ‘craft, art’ is attested as a verb in Latin texō, the root of Latin ars / artis ‘craft, art’ is attested as a verb in Greek ar-ar-ískō ‘join, fit together’ (cf. Latin artus ‘joint’).

[ back ] 82. Schmitt 1967:298–301.

[ back ] 83. This point is argued at greater length in Nagy 1995a:ch.3.

[ back ] 84. Ibid. There I point out that the English word stitcher may be inappropriate for expressing the esthetics of a master’s handiwork, in that stitch implies something makeshift, as if stitchwork were simply patchwork. More appropriate than stitcher—at least esthetically, perhaps—is tailor.

[ back ] 85. This formulation is reapplied in Nagy 1995a:ch.3.

[ back ] 86. See p. 21 above.

[ back ] 87. Nagy 1990a:55.

[ back ] 88. Nagy 1990a: 23.

[ back ] 89. Cf. Smith 1993:83 on “big bang” formulations in the study of religions.

[ back ] 90. Jensen 1980:128, following Merkelbach 1952:42–43.

[ back ] 91. Wilamowitz 1884:228; cf. Davison 1962:249–252.

[ back ] 92. Davison 1955.

[ back ] 93. Davison 1962.

[ back ] 94. See for example Davison 1962:220.

[ back ] 95. See for example Davison 1962:224.

[ back ] 96. See pp. 75 and 81–82 above.

[ back ] 97. Cf. Davison 1962:221. For a helpful bibliographical survey of the extent of literacy in the late fifth century and thereafter, see Thomas 1989:17–24. She stresses at p. 23 (slightly modifying the picture presented by Turner 1977) that books become relatively common only towards the first quarter of the fourth century.

[ back ] 98. Davison 1962:221, with specific reference at p. 231n30 to the works of Ludwich 1898 and Bolling 1925, 1944, 1950.

[ back ] 99. Davison 1955:21.

[ back ] 100. Ibid.

[ back ] 101. Sealey 1957:344–346.

[ back ] 102. Allen 1924:302–307; as Sealey 1957:345n100 points out, Allen’s discussion was “overlooked also” by Page 1955b:143.

[ back ] 103. Sealey 1957:345.

[ back ] 104. Ibid.

[ back ] 105. Ibid. For further criticism of Davison’s theory, see Jensen 1980:131–132.

[ back ] 106. Davison 1955:21. Aristarchus not only dated the Homeric text at about 1050 BCE: he also believed that Homer was an Athenian (Life of Homer p. 244.13, p. 247.8 Allen).

[ back ] 107. Sealey 1957:345.

[ back ] 108. [S.] West 1988:33–48.

[ back ] 109. [S.] West 1988:45; cf. also [S.] West 1988:7–8, 283–287 and Jensen 1980:107, 109. Parry [1930] 1971:268 considered the possibility that the “wild” or eccentric texts of papyri dated before 150 BCE reflect variations typical of oral poetry. Jensen 1980:108 objects: “[Parry’s] own subsequent fieldwork, however, made this improbable. The variations are small and do not alter the text essentially.” And yet, the “smallness” of variation may be due to a static phase in the evolution of the Homeric tradition, on which topic more below.

[ back ] 110. See again Allen 1924:302–307; cf. Sealey 1957:345. But see Apthorp 1980, whose important contributions to the question of “numerus versuum” I discuss at length in Nagy 1995a:ch.5.

[ back ] 111. [S.] West 1988:48.

[ back ] 112. [S.] West 1988:47–48.

[ back ] 113. [S.] West 1988:48.

[ back ] 114. [S.] West 1988:47.

[ back ] 115. I discuss other factors in Nagy 1995a:ch.7.

[ back ] 116. Sealey 1990:129.

[ back ] 117. Sealey 1990:129 and 183n17. The form anagnostae ‘readers’ is borrowed from the Greek anagnṓstēs ‘reader’. In a lecture given on 13 January 1993, entitled “Démétrius et les rhapsodes,” in the seminar of Françoise Létoublon at the Centre d’Etudes Anciennes, Ecole Normale Supérieure, I compared anagnṓstēs with the French stage-word souffleur. In Nagy 1995a:ch.6, the usage of anagnṓstēs is connected with that of paranagignṓskō ‘read from a model’, as attested in the Plutarchean Lives of the Ten Orators 841f, a passage that deals with Lycurgus’ reform of performance traditions in Athenian tragedy.

[ back ] 118. Jensen 1980:108. On the topic of traditions in Homeric performance by rhapsodes in the Alexandrian era, see the brief discussion in Nagy 1990a:29 (with n64).

[ back ] 119. [S.] West 1988:48.

[ back ] 120. [S.] West 1988:40.

[ back ] 121. [S.] West 1988:39.

[ back ] 122. [S.] West 1988:36n13, citing Merkelbach 1952 and Jensen 1980.

[ back ] 123. Jensen 1980:154, 166.

[ back ] 124. Cf. Jensen 1980:109.

[ back ] 125. Thus I find the point made by Jensen 1988:109 compelling: “Among the various texts called after cities [as cited by the Alexandrian scholars, whose comments are sporadically preserved in the Homeric scholia] one might have expected to find an Athenian one; that such a text is never mentioned indicates that this was the basic text referred to.”

[ back ] 126. If indeed Athens is the setting for a definitive—and terminal—textualization of the Homeric poems, then we have a ready explanation for the sporadic intrusions of Attic dialect into the eventual text. The formulation of Janko 1992:37 is helpful: “the superficial Attic traits in the epic diction do prove that Athens played a major role in the transmission, and this must be related to the Pisistratids’ patronage of Homeric poetry.” Cf. Jensen 1980:131.

[ back ] 127. I agree with Jensen 1980:110 and Janko 1992:37 that such early texts were probably written in the Ionic alphabet. But I disagree with the idea that “the” Panathenaic text was imported from Ionia. For a basic statement of this idea, see Mazon 1943:269–270, 276–278; for variations on this idea, see Jensen 1980:132 (“if descendants of Homer or [Kreophylos] possessed the true, authoritative text, they would no doubt have kept a copy of it”) and Janko 1992:37 (“[the Peisistratidai] probably procured the first complete set of rolls to cross the Aegean”). It is enough to say that the performance tradition of the Homeridai was imported from Ionia, probably from Chios.

[ back ] 128. See again Davison 1963:225 and 220 on the “Panathenaic text” and the “Peisistratean recension” respectively.

[ back ] 129. Sealey 1957:351.

[ back ] 130. Ibid.

[ back ] 131. Sealey 1957:349–350.

[ back ] 132. See p. 75 above.

[ back ] 133. Sealey 1957:349.

[ back ] 134. Further comments in Nagy 1990a:21, 23. See also ch.2 n58 above.

[ back ] 135. See pp. 73–74 above.

[ back ] 136. Merkelbach 1952. He also argues that Aristarchus knew the story of a Peisistratean recension but did not believe it.

[ back ] 137. See especially Merkelbach 1952:34.

[ back ] 138. Merkelbach 1952:34. For a reassessment of the concept of zersingen, see Bausinger 1980:46, 268–276.

[ back ] 139. Merkelbach 1952:34–35.

[ back ] 140. For a brief review of the arguments, see Nagy 1990a:21–24, 28–29.

[ back ] 141. Merkelbach 1952:36.

[ back ] 142. [S.] West 1988:36, 39.

[ back ] 143. West 1988:35–38, 40.

[ back ] 144. Cf. Jensen 1980:132.

[ back ] 145. Merkelbach 1952:24, 27–31.

[ back ] 146. Nagy 1990a:170, with commentary.

[ back ] 147. See pp, 72–73 above.

[ back ] 148. Nagy 1990a:159.

[ back ] 149. See p. 73 above.

[ back ] 150. See p. 75 above.

[ back ] 151. Merkelbach 1952:28–31, especially with reference to Plutarch Solon 10, Aristotle Rhetoric 1375b30, Apollodorus via Strabo 9.1.10, Diogenes Laertius 1.48, Scholia B to Iliad II 557.

[ back ] 152. Kannicht 1982:78.

[ back ] 153. Friis Johansen 1967.

[ back ] 154. Friis Johansen 1967:53–54, figure 8 on p. 52.

[ back ] 155. Friis Johansen 1967:79.

[ back ] 156. Friis Johansen 1967:80.

[ back ] 157. Jensen 1980:104, following Friis Johansen 1967:266.

[ back ] 158. Jensen, ibid.

[ back ] 159. Friis Johansen 1967:90, cited also by Jensen 1980:104.

[ back ] 160. For Fittschen 1969, who reassesses the early Greek iconographical representations corresponding to epic, the variations themselves serve as proof for the absence of distinctly “Iliadic” themes; on the basis of this reassessment, Kannicht 1982:85 concludes that “the Iliad as an artistic subject is virtually neglected by seventh-century art.” (As we have already seen, however, Kannicht at p. 78 concedes that the Odyssean narrative tradition about the Cyclops is strongly represented in the seventh century.) Such conclusions presuppose a fixed text for the Iliad. (Cf. also Jensen 1980:106: “Only from [around] 520 onwards do the Attic representations seem to reflect the Iliad that we know.”) Also, I disagree with Kannicht’s further argument, extending from these conclusions, that the Iliad, unlike other epics, resisted iconographic representation because it was so artistically extraordinary: see N 1990a:73n105.

[ back ] 161. For a discussion of the evidence of vase paintings as a criterion for determining the fixation of Homeric traditions, especially in Athens, see Lowenstam 1993a, in particular p. 216; also Lowenstam 1992. Cf. Ballabriga 1990:19, referring to the work of Brillante 1983:119. See also the remarks on the Panathenaia in Nagy 1990a:21–23, 28, 54, 73, 75, 160, 174, 192. On the Peisistratidai and the Panathenaia, see again Shapiro 1990 / 1992 / 1993.

[ back ] 162. Janko 1982:228–231. Modified formulation in Janko 1992:19.

[ back ] 163. Morris 1986, especially pp. 93, 104.

[ back ] 164. Morris, ibid. I have already quoted, in another context, the observation of Janko (1982:191): “it is difficult to refuse the conclusion that the texts [Iliad and Odyssey] were fixed at the time when each one was composed, whether by rote memorisation or by oral dictated texts.”

[ back ] 165. See pp. 35–36 above.

[ back ] 166. Further argumentation in Nagy 1990a:53.

[ back ] 167. Cf. Nagy 1990a:52–81. We need not postulate, however, that each performance became identical with each previous performance. Granted, there could have been an ideology of identical reperformance towards the end of this process of text-fixation without writing. But an ideology of fixity does not prevent recomposition-in-performance, even if the rate of recomposition has been slowing down. See further in Nagy 1990a:52–81. On the descriptive term crystallization, see Nagy 1990a:53, 60, 414n4 and Nagy 1990b:42 (with reference to Nagy 1979:5–9), 47, 51–52, 61, 78–79 (cf. also Sherratt 1990:820–821). For a similar though hardly identical use of the image, describing the formation of Kirghiz epic traditions, see Radloff 1990 [1885]:78: “Like new crystals that develop in a saturated sodium solution during evaporation and group together around a large crystal center in the fluid, or like fine iron filings that cluster around the magnetic pole, all single legends and tales, all historical memories, stories, and songs are strongly attracted to the epic centers and become, by being broken into pieces, parts of a comprehensive picture.” See also Cook 1995:4: “the crystallization of the Odyssean tradition into a written text, the growth of Athenian civic ritual, and the process of state formation in Attica were simultaneous and mutually reinforcing developments.”

[ back ] 168. Cf. Sealey 1957. Parallel argumentation in Jensen 1980:96–106 and Ballabriga 1990:28.

[ back ] 169. See especially Nagy 1990a:80. In dating the definitive stage toward 550 BCE, I follow, at least in part, the discussion of Sealey 1957 (see especially p. 348), who also places at the mid-point of the sixth century BCE the following: (1) the arbitration, by Periandros of Corinth, of the war between the Athenians and the Mytilenaeans of Lesbos over Sigeion (p. 320); (2) the era when Pittakos, Alcaeus, and Sappho flourished (pp. 324–325); (3) the era when Ibycus flourished (p. 327). I should add that even the notion of a definitive phase leaves room for variation in still later phases of the performance tradition. The fragments of papyri of the Homeric poems from the third and the second centuries BCE suggest, in the opinion of Sealey 1990:128, that “there were Iliads and Odysseys which were a good deal longer than the Byzantine Iliad and Odyssey; the long texts may well have exceeded the later text by a quarter of its length or even more.”

[ back ] 170. Kirk 1962:88–98 and 1976:130–131. For a critique of Kirk’s model, see Jensen 1980:95, 113–114. I agree with Jensen’s arguments against Kirk’s “devolutionary” premise. Jensen’s own model, as we have seen, posits a dictation that was supposedly commissioned by the Peisistratidai. Her candidate as the man who dictated the text is Kynaithos (on whom see Nagy 1990a:22–23, 73–75). For yet another model, see Ballabriga 1990, who retains the idea of a “creative Homer” at one end of the chronological spectrum but rejects Kirk’s idea of decadence by positing a “creative rhapsode at the later end.” His candidate as this “creative rhapsode” is Kynaithos (see especially his pp. 21, 28). For another critique of Kirk’s model, from yet another angle, see West 1990:36–37.

[ back ] 171. Cf. Sealey 1990:133, who argues that “the Iliad and Odyssey do not have a date of composition. They came into being during a long period, which began well before the end of the Bronze Age and lasted into the sixth century or later.”

[ back ] 172. On the evidence of vase paintings as a criterion for determining the fixation of Homeric traditions, especially in Athens, see again Lowenstam 1993a, in particular p. 216.

[ back ] 173. See Nagy 1985:33–34.

[ back ] 174. [S.] West 1988:34.

[ back ] 175. See Nagy 1990a:29n66.

[ back ] 176. Nagy 1990a:25–26 and 363–364n133.

[ back ] 177. See Nagy 1990b:269–275, with reference to Philochorus FGH 328 F 216. On the evolutionary model in the case of elegiac traditions in general, see Nagy 1985:46–51.