The Oral Palimpsest: Exploring Intertextuality in the Homeric Epics

  Tsagalis, Christos. 2008. The Oral Palimpsest: Exploring Intertextuality in the Homeric Epics. Hellenic Studies Series 29. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

Chapter 3. Nausicaa and the Daughters of Anius: Terms and Limits of Epic Rivalry

Intertextual associations are based on the repetition of material treated in text A and whose reuse in text B will immediately allow the reader to make the connection to text A. In this way, a new ‘reading’ will emerge, one which does not depend solely on text A or text B, but on their symbiosis in a new intertext, AB, that will emerge in the reader’s mind. In oral poetry, such a symbiosis is not created by helping the listener evoke a ‘specific’ text representing the crystallization of a given episode or version. Epic songs may be alluding to themes or topics falling outside their plot-framework but belonging to the plot-framework of other epic traditions. Since these traditions may be reconstructed due to later, post-Homeric treatments of the same mythical material, then we may be able to reconsider latent allusions to other versions of an episode or incident that the Homeric song-tradition deliberately leaves lurking in the background. Intertextuality is here not the result of an authorial, poet-centered policy, but an almost in-built characteristic of oral poetry. Selecting their material from multiple traditions concerning Odysseus, the bards who decide to sing his ante- and post-Iliadic mythical lore are well equipped to incorporate characteristics alluding to non-Odyssean episodes of Odysseus’ heroic saga. Post-Homeric epics, whose content scholars have meticulously tried to reconstruct using material from various sources, are a valuable aid, since they are undoubtedly based on epic versions that were uninterruptedly sung during the formative period of the Homeric poems. [1]

In this light, cross-referencing may well be at work in traditional oral poetry, provided that we understand cross-references not as indicating text-oriented allusions but tradition-dependent associations. Nagy has eloquently summarized this viewpoint in the following way:

One important issue in respect to cross-references of the type described above is their sequence-ignoring character. The very notion of intertextuality is, [
3] in fact, consonant to this very idea. It has been argued that by evoking a single aspect or incident of a story not exploited by the Homeric epics at the moment of performance, the bard does not demand from his audience to have mastered enormous quantities of mythological material, but to focus their attention on a single point. [4] Compressed narrative, on the other hand, disrupts the chronological sequence in which a given episode is placed and conjures in the audience’s mind not just the particular detail at hand, but also the framework and, perhaps, even the tradition with which this incident is associated. Since familiarity with characters and the entire mythical nexus concerning a given hero is required, I strongly reject the idea of a poet imposing a heavy interpretive burden on his audience’s shoulders. When talking about traditional mythical material, we do not need to think of an audience comprised of well-informed students of Greek myth. Such a distorted picture is typical of the modern sense of ‘mythology’, according to which acquaintance with mythical material is attained only after meticulous study of the relevant myths. An ancient audience was able to fill the gaps every time they were presented with a compressed narrative, because that was the process mythical material developed. There was no compendium of myths from which a given poet would select a story and tailor it to his needs. Links and aberrations, associations and deviations among various mythical traditions, grew out of their performative use in oral contexts, one of which was epic singing. We do not need to postulate a supremely competent audience to argue that the average listener must have heard many epic performances. In fact, what we define as ‘competence’ within a performance-context is simple acquaintance.

It is as if, to employ a metaphor from the field of textual criticism, we are dealing with a palimpsest (a codex rescriptus), which has been re-written in the same place as an earlier text that has been now erased. Thus, the codex we possess can help us read two texts, both the earlier and the present one. To that extent, the two texts, which may well be completely unrelated, share a peculiar form of symbiosis through the medium on which they have been written. Traces of the older text may be still discernible, provided that we look ‘below’ the present text to recover the erased one. Extending this analogy to the field of oral poetics, I employ the oxymoronic term ‘oral palimpsest’ in order to allude to the co-existence, in our Iliad and Odyssey, of episodes or incidents belonging to other song-traditions current during the formative period of the Homeric epics. Like the erased text on a palimpsest, traces of other song-traditions may be still recovered in the Iliad and the Odyssey. This time, though, such recovery can be achieved not through modern laser techniques, as it is the case in palaeography, but through a sophisticated system of cross-referencing, which involves what Martin has happily called a ‘selection-of-detail’ principle. [5] Selecting details from a mythical episode known to the audience presupposes a process of suppression of certain aspects that the current version wants to eliminate. The reasons explaining this suppression-policy often have to do with the particular mythical version a given epic intends to foster and promote, as well as with its effort to differentiate itself from other traditions to which it may be related through its interest in the same characters. The tradition of the Odyssey, to state a relevant example, may have aimed at ‘usurping’ Odysseus from all other rival traditions dealing with the same hero. In all other traditions where Odysseus is present, the king of Ithaca hardly features as the main character. He is one of many heroes, whose fate is connected either to the preparation and departure for Troy or the Trojan War itself, or his adventures after his reunion with Penelope. Making Odysseus the main hero of a whole song-tradition such as the Odyssey, though, was not the only means by which this tradition attempted to highlight its importance. Odysseus had to become the hero of the Odyssey by acquiring characteristics that would distinguish him not only from other heroes of the tradition of the Trojan War, but also from his rival epic personas featured in other epic songs. Under this scope, a positively evaluated Odysseus may have been the ‘narrative product’ of the Odyssean song-tradition that aimed at promoting its ‘one man’s show’, i.e. a version with only Odysseus as the protagonist. Selecting the appropriate details and suppressing others became, therefore, an effective policy on the part of the Odyssean tradition, so as to highlight the importance of its own Odyssean Odysseus.

The compressed narrative the hero offers to Nausicaa in Odyssey vi 160–167 is one case in which the mechanics of cross-referencing are amply employed in order to conjure a rival version of Odysseus’ mythical lore and subsequently appropriate it to an Odyssean perspective.

The Palm Tree

One of the most impressive features of the meeting between Nausicaa and Odysseus in Odyssey vi is the hero’s reference to his journey to Delos and the young palm-tree he saw next to Apollo’s altar there. This piece of information has instigated a serious debate concerning both its origin and its function in the Nausicaa-Odysseus episode. The relevant verses run as follows (Odyssey vi 160–167):

῾῾οὐ γάρ πω τοιοῦτον ἐγὼ ἴδον ὀφθαλμοῖσιν,
οὔτ᾿ ἄνδρ᾿ οὔτε γυναῖκα· σέβας μ᾿ ἔχει εἰσορόωντα.
Δήλῳ δή ποτε τοῖον Ἀπόλλωνος παρὰ βωμῷ
φοίνικος νέον ἔρνος ἀνερχόμενον ἐνόησα·
ἦλθον γὰρ καὶ κεῖσε, πολὺς δέ μοι ἕσπετο λαός
τὴν ὁδὸν ᾗ δὴ μέλλεν ἐμοὶ κακὰ κήδε᾿ ἔσεσθαι.
ὣς δ᾿ αὔτως καὶ κεῖνο ἰδὼν ἐτεθήπεα θυμῷ
δήν, ἐπεὶ οὔ πω τοῖον ἀνήλυθεν ἐκ δόρυ γαίης.᾿᾿

“Never have I set eyes on any man or woman like you. I am overcome with awe
as I look at you. Only in Delos have I seen the like, a fresh young palm tree
shooting up by the altar of Apollo, when my travels took me there—with a fine
army at my back, that time, though the expedition was doomed to end so fatally
for me. For a long time I stood spellbound at the sight, for no such sapling ever
sprang from the ground.”

According to Hainsworth, “Odysseus appears to allude to his voyage to Troy (or Aulis), but a visit to Delos is otherwise quite unknown.” [
6] There is, however, a scholium by Aristarchus (EPQ ad Odyssey vi 164) referring to a visit of Odysseus and Menelaus (followed by the entire Greek fleet) to Delos to seek the daughters of Anius, who were able to relieve the famine of the Greek army by producing food:

λέγοι δ᾿ ἂν πολὺν λαὸν οὐ τὸν ἴδιον στόλον, ἀλλὰ τὸν Ἑλληνικόν, ὅτ᾿ ἀφηγούμενος εἰς Δῆλον ἦλθε Μενέλαος σὺν Ὀδυσσεῖ ἐπὶ τὰς Ἀνίου θυγατέρας, αἳ καὶ Οἰνότροποι ἐκαλοῦντο).

By a great army he refers not to his own fleet, but to the Greek one, when Menelaus, after taking up the command, went to Delos together with Odysseus in search for the daughters of Anius, who were called Oinotropoi.

The study of the myth of the Oinotropoi is of central importance for exploring the mythical apparatus upon which Odysseus’ compressed narrative at Odyssey vi 160–167 is founded. The following is a list of all the ancient sources referring to this episode:

(a) In the scholia on Lycophron’s Alexandra 570 (197 Scheer) we read about an incident that, according to Pherecydes (FGrHist 3 F 140 = EGM fr. 140), belonged to the plot of the lost epic Cypria (PEG 1, fr. 29 = EGF fr. 19). Lycophron’s Alexandra 570 (197 Scheer):

Σταφύλου τοῦ υἱοῦ Διονύσου θυγάτηρ γίνεται Ῥοιώ. ταύτῃ ἐμίγη Ἀπόλλων, αἰσθόμενος δὲ ὁ Στάφυλος ἔβαλεν αὐτὴν εἰς λάρνακα καὶ ἀφῆκε κατὰ τὴν θάλασσαν. ἡ δὲ προσεπελάσθη τῇ Εὐβοίᾳ καὶ ἐγέννησεν αὐτόθι περί τι ἄντρον παῖδα, ὃν Ἄνιον ἐκάλεσε διὰ τὸ ἀνιαθῆναι αὐτὴν δι᾿ αὐτόν. τοῦτον δὲ Ἀπόλλων ἤνεγκεν εἰς Δῆλον, ὃς γήμας Δωρίππην ἐγέννησε τὰς Οἰνοτρόπους Οἰνώ, Σπερμώ, Ἐλαΐδα, αἷς ὁ Διόνυσος ἐχαρίσατο, ὁπότε βούλονται, σπέρμα λαμβάνειν. Φερεκύδης (FGrHist 3F 140) δέ φησιν ὅτι Ἄνιος ἔπεισε τοὺς Ἕλληνας παραγενομένους πρὸς αὐτὸν αὐτοῦ μένειν τὰ θ´ ἔτη· δεδόσθαι δὲ αὐτοῖς παρὰ τῶν θεῶν τῷ δεκάτῳ ἔτει πορθῆσαι τὴν Ἴλιον. ὑπέσχετο δὲ αὐτοῖς ὑπὸ τῶν θυγατέρων αὐτοῦ τραφήσεσθαι. ἔστι δὲ τοῦτο καὶ παρὰ τῷ τὰ Κύπρια πεποιηκότι.

Staphylus, son of Dionysus, had a daughter, Rhoio, with whom Apollo had intercourse. As soon as Staphylus realized this, he put her into a chest and sent her down to the sea. She approached Euboea and in this place, around some cave, gave birth to a son, whom she named Anius because of the pain she experienced for his sake. Apollo brought him to Delos. He [Anius] married Dorippe and had born to him the Oinotropoi, Oino, Spermo, [and] Elais. Dionysus gave freely to them the ability to receive seed, whenever they wanted. Pherecydes (FGrHist 3 F 140 = EGM fr. 140) relates that Anius persuaded the Greeks, who came to him, to stay in this place [Delos] for nine years; [he foretold] that it would be granted to them by the gods to sack Ilium in the tenth year. He also promised them that they would be nourished by his daughters. This story is narrated by the poet of the Cypria.

Two other scholia on Lycophron’s Alexandra 580 (200 Scheer) and 581 (200 Scheer) are also relevant:

αἱ Οἰνότροποι ἐκαλοῦντο Οἰνώ, Σπερμώ, Ἐλαΐς. αὗται ἔλαβον παρὰ Διονύσου δῶρον, ἵνα, ὅτε θελήσουσι, καρπὸν τρυγῶσι· καὶ ἡ μὲν Οἰνὼ τὸν οἶνον ἐποίει, ἡ δὲ Σπερμὼ τὰ σπέρματα, τὸ ἔλαιον δὲ ἡ Ἐλαΐς. αὗται καὶ τοὺς Ἕλληνας λιμώττοντας ἐλθοῦσαι εἰς Τροίαν διέσωσαν.

The Oinotropoi were named Oino (wine-girl), Spermo (seed-girl), Elais (oil-girl). They received from Dionysus the gift of being able to reap fruit, whenever they want. Oino created the wine, Spermo the seeds, Elais the oil. It is they who went to Troy and saved the Greeks who were starving.

Lycophron’s Alexandra 580 (200 Scheer)

Ἀγαμέμνων γὰρ τῶν Ἑλλήνων λιμῷ συνεχομένων μετεπέμψατο αὐτὰς διὰ τοῦ Παλαμήδους, καὶ ἐλθοῦσαι εἰς τὸ Ῥοίτειον ἔτρεφον αὐτούς.

For, Agamemnon, since the Greeks were affected by famine, summoned them [the Oinotropoi] by Palamedes, and when they [the Oinotropoi] arrived at Rhoiteion, they fed them [the Greeks].

Lycophron’s Alexandra 581 (200 Scheer)

(c) According to Tzetzes’ scholia (on Lycophron’s Alexandra 570 [198 Scheer]: μέμνηται δὲ καὶ Καλλίμαχος τῶν Ἀνίου θυγατέρων ἐν τοῖς Αἰτίοις and 580 [200 Scheer]: μαρτυρεῖ δὲ ταῦτα καὶ Καλλίμαχος) Callimachus too dealt with the story of the Oinotropoi in the Aetia (fr. 188 Pf.).

Some scholars [12] endorse the accuracy of Tzetzes’ scholium about Pherecydes’ narrating that the episode of the Oinotropoi was part of the Cypria, but others seem quite skeptical about it. Welcker [13] has argued that the Pherecydes-fragment did not belong to the Cypria, since Tzetzes’ scholium leaves no other alternative [14] but to believe that Anius indeed convinced the Greeks to stay at Delos for nine years. Immisch argues fiercely against Welcker by stating that one should not trust Tzetzes (as Welcker did) and should therefore read the conative imperfect ἔπειθε instead of the aorist ἔπεισε in Pherecydes (FGrHist 3 F 140 = EGM fr. 140). [15] This conjecture makes much more sense, since it is assumed that the Greeks did not stay at Delos but continued their voyage towards Troy. The scholium, in fact, does not say that the Greeks stayed at Delos for nine years and were subsequently fed by Anius’ daughters, but simply that Anius promised (ὑπέσχετο) the Greeks that if they stayed in Delos, his daughters would be able to feed the army. [16] Moreover, since the episode of the Oinotropoi is summarized in the aforementioned fragment in relation to the Cypria, it may have formed part, as Welcker had thought, of an isolated Delian myth. Immisch tries to corroborate his own view by arguing that, in the phrase μέμνηται δὲ τούτων καὶ ὁ τὰ Κύπρια συγγραψάμενος added by Tzetzes at the end of the scholium, the genitive τούτων refers to the daughters of Anius and not to the entire preceding passage. [17] Therefore, he concludes that the Pherecydes-fragment belonged to the Cypria.

(b) A more serious problem is connected to the episode of Palamedes’ death. If Pausanias is right in stating that he read in the Cypria that Palamedes was drowned by Diomedes and Odysseus while fishing (Pausanias X 31.2), then how are we to explain his (Palamedes’) summoning of the Oinotropoi from Delos (Lycophron Alexandra 581 [200 Scheer]) to relieve the Greeks from a famine at Troy? Almost every modern authority on the matter has interpreted Palamedes’ fishing as a sign of famine in the Greek camp. [21] If Palamedes was then killed by Diomedes and Odysseus during a famine, he must have already summoned the Oinotropoi from Delos according to Agamemnon’s order. In that case, what were the Oinotropoi doing in Troy if there was still a famine? If, on the other hand, we suppose that Palamedes’ summoning of the Oinotropoi to Troy was not narrated in the Cypria, [22] then the narrative function of the Greek army’s visit at Delos would be reduced only to a reiteration of the prophecy concerning the duration of the war. The only reasonable alternative is based on Kullmann’s suggestion, that interprets Palamedes’ fishing as indicating his effort to relieve the Greek army from a second famine, [23] which occurred towards the end of the Cypria, after the Oinotropoi had saved the Greek army from the first famine and only after the daughters of Anius had returned to Delos. The two famines should not make us suspicious about their authenticity, since Kullmann has rightly highlighted “an idiosyncrasy of the Cyclic Epics”, their fondness for Motivdubletten, [24] for example the double explanation of Achilles’ death and the double causation of Troy’s destruction by the summoning of both Philoctetes from Lemnos and Neoptolemus from Scyros etc. [25]

So, we may now return to the episode between Odysseus and Nausicaa in Odyssey vi, particularly to the reference of a palm tree Odysseus had seen in Delos next to Apollo’s altar. The ancient scholiast explains this by referring to a visit made to Delos by Menelaus and Odysseus to summon the daughters of Anius (ἐπὶ τὰς Ἀνίου θυγατέρας). This scholium (EPQ on Odyssey vi 164) points to a version of the myth of the Oinotropoi in which Menelaus and Odysseus have taken the place of Palamedes, who features in the Cypria. The phrase ἐπὶ τὰς Ἀνίου θυγατέρας, αἳ καὶ Οἰνότροποι ἐκαλοῦντο suggests that this can not be the Greek fleet’s visit to Delos narrated in the Cypria, as the Greeks did not go to Delos for the daughters of Anius (ἐπὶ τὰς Ἀνίου θυγατέρας), but found out about their extraordinary abilities only after Anius’ prophecy. Why, then, does the scholiast refer to Menelaus and Odysseus, but not to Palamedes? Obviously, because he employs a version that makes sense only as an exegetical scholium to the text of the Odyssey, where Odysseus refers, in an abbreviated narrative, only to himself as leader of the Greek fleet going to Delos. The Odyssey has every reason to ‘erase’ Palamedes, who is the great rival of Odysseus in the field of cunningness, but the question still remains as to what incident the scholiast is referring. In other words, why did the scholiast ‘avoid’ referring to Odysseus’ first visit to Delos with the Greek army, which was narrated in the Cypria? The answer is perfectly compatible, I think, with the aforementioned analysis. The scholiast could not have explained Odysseus’ abbreviated narrative by referring to the visit of the Greek army at Delos because at that point the Greek army was not suffering from starvation. The cross-textual reference the Odyssey unravels is based on the analogy the audience is expected to draw once Odysseus mentions the palm tree at Delos. Therefore, we are clearly dealing with two rival traditions [26] concerning the episode of the Oinotropoi, one belonging to the Cypria in which Palamedes summoned Anius’ daughters from Delos to Troy, and the other stemming from another oral tradition, unknown to us, where it was Menelaus and Odysseus who played the role Palamedes had undertaken in the Cypria. [27] The abbreviated form of Odysseus’ narrative to Nausicaa in Odyssey vi 160–167 implicitly indicates that the Delos incident was familiar to the audience. As a matter of fact, Odysseus’ condensed reference acquires its full semantic potential only when its intertextual perspective is taken into account.

Comparative Analysis

In order to recover the intricate nexus of associations Odysseus’ abbreviated narrative conjures up, we need to place this reference within the entire encounter with Nausicaa. The following table shows the narrative similarities between the myth of the Oinotropoi and the Nausicaa-Odysseus episode:

Story of the Oinotropoi Nausicaa-Odysseus episode
Hunger of the Greek army Hunger of Odysseus
The Oinotropoi feed the Greeks Nausicaa gives food to Odysseus
The Oinotropoi descend from Dionysus The Nausicaa episode is replete with Dionysiac elements

(f) The palm [43] tree Odysseus refers to in Odyssey vi 163 is placed next to Apollo’s altar at Delos. Apollo is also linked to the story of the Oinotropoi, since he slept with Dionysus’ granddaughter, Rhoio, and was the father of Anius. The palm tree [44] is one of the most interesting features of this episode. It was very often used in art “as an iconographic representation of the eternal recycling of life.” [45] In Minoan-Mycenaean art, the sacred tree was often depicted as a fig or olive tree associated with a female deity, but “the palm tree seems to have been confined to other representations in which the female deity is not depicted.” [46] In Early Greek art, tree cult was not overtly expressed but was implicit, especially when the sacred tree became a recognizable feature of a sanctuary, like the osier tree at Hera’s sanctuary at Samos, the olive tree on the Acropolis at Athens, and Leto’s palm tree at Delos. In certain cases the sacred tree became synonymous to an oracle, as was the case with the oak in the oracle of Zeus at Dodona or the bay tree at Delphi. [47] In Archaic and later Greek art, the iconographic representation of a palm tree by an altar proliferated and was used, under the pressure of the aristocracy’s desire to activate its past, within the framework of myths, epics, and popular religious beliefs. [48] As the old tree on an altar is progressively replaced by the new motif, Dionysus and the vine make their appearance. The famous cup by Exekias depicting Dionysus aboard a ship is the best example of this change. Dionysus is surrounded (above) by seven bunches of grapes springing from the ship’s mast, which becomes a huge vine tree, and (below) by seven dolphins. The symbolism is more than explicit: Dionysus and the vine have replaced the Great Goddess of Minoan-Mycenaean art and the sacred tree. What lies beyond this representation is the cult of Dionysus Dendritis. [49] Dionysus has a special link to tree cult. The unmarried girls at Karyai in Laconia dance around a walnut tree, led by Artemis Karyatis. According to legend, Karya was a princess from Lacedaemon who was loved by Dionysus and was subsequently metamorphosed into a tree. The young girls who are called Karyatides [50] (daughters of the walnut tree, i.e. daughters of Dionysus) dance around the nut-bearing tree (καρύα) and hang themselves from its branches as an act of mimetic identification with this ‘Dionysiac’ tree. [51] The palm tree Odysseus mentions is called a φοίνικος νέον ἔρνος ἀνερχόμενον (fresh young palm tree shooting up). This rising palm tree may well be indicative of the theme of vegetation connected to the myth of the Oinotropoi. A growing fresh shoot of a palm tree next to Apollo’s altar bridges the beginning of the story of the Oinotropoi (Apollo impregnating Rhoio who is subsequently exiled by her father, Staphylus, the son of Dionysus) with the arrival of Anius at Delos. Dionysus has recompensed his granddaughter’s (Rhoio’s) exile by endowing her own granddaughters, the Oinotropoi, with the ability of producing food. The symbolism of vegetation inherent in the sacred tree next to an altar blends in effectively with the covert Dionysiac associations lying in the background of the myth of the daughters of Anius.

The Recovered Intertext

The wealth of Dionysiac associations found in the Nausicaa-Odysseus episode cannot be explained as an instant reflex of the narrative coordinates of the encounter between the Phaeacian princess and the king of Ithaca. The comparative examination of the myth of the Oinotropoi, who have clear Dionysiac overtones, and of the covert Dionysiac elements in the Nausicaa-Odysseus episode points to a lost oral tradition featuring the story of Odysseus’ visiting Delos in order to summon the daughters of Anius. In this tradition, which is partly reflected in the story of the Oinotropoi presented in the Cypria, the first visit of the Greek army at Delos as well as Odysseus’ and Menelaus’ second visit would have, in all probability, included numerous Dionysiac elements connected to the Oinotropoi and their relation to Dionysus. In this version, just as in the Odyssey, Odysseus arrived by sea, faced a terrible famine, and was in need of urgent help.

In the first part of this chapter, I emphasized the difference between the roles of Palamedes in the Cypria and of Odysseus in another oral tradition, alluded to in the Odyssey through Odysseus’ abbreviated narrative about the palm tree he had seen at Delos. The Cypria may well reflect a rival oral tradition in which Palamedes, as Agamemnon’s envoy to Delos to summon the daughters of Anius, played Odysseus’ role. Are we able to trace even a single element showing or at least entertaining the possibility that the oral tradition of the Odyssey was aware of a rival oral tradition featuring Palamedes in the place of Odysseus, as is the case in the Cypria? In other words, are we able to find in the Odyssey a hint of a tradition endorsing the Cypria’s version of the story of the Oinotropoi?

This is an impossible jigsaw puzzle to solve. Still, there is a single feature that is, I hope, worth stating. Palamedes and his entire mythical entourage are associated with names pertaining to the world of the sea. His father was Nauplius and their family ruled over the area of Nauplion. His two brothers were Oeax and Nausimedon. Palamedes was famous for promoting human civilization (invention of numbers, alphabet, measures, and distribution of goods). Likewise, the Phaeacians in the Odyssey are also connected to the sea, as indicated by their names and their unsurpassed nautical proficiency. Moreover, the Phaeacians experience not only a high state of civilization, but also an unprecedented abundance of goods lavished incessantly upon them by the gods. [64] Is it then plausible that the Odyssey places the cross-textual reference of Odysseus’ visit to Delos within a Phaeacian framework because it aims, even more, at downplaying the preeminent role of Palamedes in the story of the Oinotropoi as presented by a rival oral tradition? I do not mean at all that the Phaeacian idyllic world has been invented for that reason, but that the Odyssean tradition has made Odysseus embed his Oinotropoi-oriented narrative in the Nausicaa episode (and not, say, in his false stories) in an attempt to more effectively ‘erase’ Palamedes’ presence in this myth. The abbreviated form of Odysseus’ reference to Delos is in stark contrast to the epic’s detailed presentation and description of the Phaeacian world to its audience. This may be an implicit indication that the former myth (Oinotropoi) was well known, whereas the latter (Phaeacians) was completely unknown. [65] Granted that the Phaeacian world was ‘invented’ by the Odyssean tradition, it becomes more plausible that an introduction to the idyllic world of Scheria would have been more appropriate if this world did not, Palamedes-like, pose a threat to the poem’s main hero. In this sea-oriented Phaeacian world, abundance is acquired not through Palamedian inventions and labor, but through a god-sent cornucopia. In fact, the Phaeacians are the only people Odysseus does not have to compete with. Their unparalleled proficiency at sea is almost ironically presented by the Odyssey, since their ships quickly fly to the ends of the world, thereby making Odysseus’ last journey on a Phaeacian ship from Scheria to Ithaca contrast his long, unsuccessful efforts to get home by his own means.

Thus, I maintain that both rival versions of the summoning of the Oinotropoi might have been known to the tradition of the Odyssey. Over centuries of compositional and thematic shaping, this epic tradition had incurred many poetic debts, which it adjusted to its own aim and scope. The epic’s ability to select, rework, and tailor various rival traditions to its own subject matter has once again been effectuated through a female figure, Nausicaa, who has been shaped not only intratextually but also intertextually. In this light, one can apprehend why the epic refuses to apologize for offering only vestigial remains of fragmented myths, turning the technique of appropriating just the required mythical material into a demonstration of its own preeminence.


[ back ] 1. This is the second phase in the evolutionary model of Homeric poetry suggested by Nagy 1996a:110, 1996b:42, and 2004:27.

[ back ] 2. Nagy 1979:42–43. Taken from Nagy 1996b:133. See also Pucci 1987:240–242.

[ back ] 3. Having clarified the meaning of intertextuality in an oral traditional medium such as archaic epic, I prefer to keep the term (intertextuality) unchanged.

[ back ] 4. Scodel 2002:153–154.

[ back ] 5. Martin 1989:130n78; Nagy 1996b:136.

[ back ] 6. Hainsworth 1988:304. See Danek’s criticism 1998:132–133.

[ back ] 7. CA fr. 2 = fr. 4 (van Groningen).

[ back ] 8. Sistakou 2004:178–181 rightly observes that in Euphorion’s idyll Anius played the key role, as can be inferred from the idyll’s title (179). Euphorion may have focused his attention on the first visit of the Greek fleet to Delos, and it may also be the case that the indirect discourse in Lycophron’s version of the Anius episode may also be reflecting the priest’s original direct speech in Euphorion’s idyll. On this point see Holzinger 1895:257 ad 575. I owe this reference to Sistakou 2004:180.

[ back ] 9. ‘The daughters of Anius, who was priest of Apollo, were Elais (Olive-girl), Spermo (Seed-girl), Oino (Wine-girl). It is to them that Dionysus gave the ability to produce olive, seed and wine from the earth.

[ back ] 10. See Forbes Irving 1990:233–234.

[ back ] 11. Ovid’s version does not fall into the aforementioned categories. It is the only attestation of the story of Anius, in which the Oinotropoi do not save the Greek fleet. Such a divergence is, of course, due to the ‘transformation pattern’ employed in the Metamorphoses.

[ back ] 12. Severyns 1928:309–313; Kullmann 1955:269; Jouan 1966:354–357; PEG 1, fr. 29 = EGF fr. 19; Danek 1998:132–134.

[ back ] 13. Davies 1989:45.

[ back ] 14. 1882:108.

[ back ] 15. It is unlikely that ἔπεισε may mean ‘chercha à persuader’, as Severyns 1928:310 translates this passage.

[ back ] 16. Immisch 1889:302: “quam historiam voluit [Welckerus] intellegi Deliacam quandam semotam a reliqua memoria fabellam.”

[ back ] 17. Immisch 1889:302: “τούτων enim in verbis Tzetzae feminini generis esse et spectare ad filias Anii, non ad universa, quae praecedant.”

[ back ] 18. Pausanias X 31.2: Παλαμήδην δὲ ἀποπνιγῆναι προελθόντα ἐπὶ ἰχθύων θήραν, Διομήδην δὲ τὸν ἀποκτείναντα εἶναι καὶ Ὀδυσσέα ἐπιλεξάμενος ἐν ἔπεσιν οἶδα τοῖς Κυπρίοις.

[ back ] 19. Immisch 1889:303; Severyns 1928:312; Kullmann 1992:47.

[ back ] 20. Kullmann 1960:221–223 lists all the prophecies contained in the Epic Cycle, which amount to seventeen. The number of prophecies that might have formed part of the Cypria varies from six to eight. On the function of prophecy in the Epic Cycle, see Stockinger 1959:90–94; Griffin 1977:48; Davies 1989:38–39, 42, 45; Rengakos 2004:283–284.

[ back ] 21. Robert 19204:1130n4; Finsler 19243:11; Severyns 1928:312n4; Jouan 1966:357; Davies 1989:48.

[ back ] 22. This is the opinion of Jouan 1966:357–358, who thinks that the summoning of the Oinotropoi to Troy by Palamedes did not occur in the Cypria but was added later on from a source containing Palamedes-oriented mythical material. Conversely, Severyns 1928:312 had argued that the Palamedes episode did belong to the plot of the Cypria, but the visit of the Greek army to Delos was only mentioned as an analepsis at the occasion of Palamedes’ death (312: “à l’ occasion de la mort de Palamède”). Severyns’s opinion is much more effective than that of Jouan, who fails to explain the function of the Anius episode. The visit of the Greek army at Delos acquires its full narrative potential only if the Oinotropoi are to be summoned, later on, to Troy. I tend to side with Kullmann’s aforementioned explanation for the following reasons: (a) Kullmann has revealed a narrative pattern (the ‘double-motifs’) within which these two episodes fall; (b) Severyns’ suggestion does not explain why the Oinotropoi had not saved the Greeks from the famine, since Palamedes resorted to fishing in order to fight starvation.

[ back ] 23. Kullmann 1960:224.

[ back ] 24. Kullmann 1960:224: “Eine weitere Eigentümlichkeit der kyklischen Epen besteht darin, dass sie zahlreiche Motivdubletten enthalten.”

[ back ] 25. As far as the function and placement of a dispute between Achilles and Odysseus (Odyssey viii 73–82) is concerned, I do not believe that it formed part of the Cypria. On this issue, I side with Danek 1998:142–150, who has argued, partly following Nagy 1979:15–65, that the conflict between βίη and μῆτις epitomized in the figures of Achilles and Odysseus may well be referring to the end of the war, at least to that part of the war following the death of Hector.

[ back ] 26. See Danek 1998:133.

[ back ] 27. I am very skeptical about the possibility that the Cypria might have featured another embassy to Delos by Menelaus and Odysseus, after the death of Palamedes, once a second famine had occurred in the Greek camp at Troy.

[ back ] 28. See Shapiro 1995, plates 24–26.

[ back ] 29. See Lycophron Alexandra 581–583: αἳ καὶ στρατοῦ βούπειναν ὀθνείων κυνῶν // τρύχουσαν ἀλθανοῦσιν, ἐλθοῦσαί ποτε // Σιθῶνος εἰς θυγατρὸς εὐναστήριον. According to the scholia on Lycophron’s Alexandra 580 (200 Scheer) αὗται (sc. αἱ Οἰνότροποι) καὶ τοὺς Ἕλληνας λιμώττοντας ἐλθοῦσαι εἰς Τροίαν διέσωσαν. See scholia on Lycophron’s Alexandra 581 (200 Scheer): καὶ ἐλθοῦσαι (sc. αἱ Οἰνότροποι) εἰς τὸ Ῥοίτειον ἔτρεφον αὐτούς.

[ back ] 30. Alden 1995:335–351.

[ back ] 31. Artemis and Dionysus are not easily discerned in cult practice. See Alden 1995:343n56.

[ back ] 32. Alden 1995:342–348.

[ back ] 33. See Theocritus 26.1–9; Aristophanes Lysistrata 1182–1185.

[ back ] 34. See Burkert 1983:271–272.

[ back ] 35. On Andromache’s Dionysiac associations in the Iliad, see chapter 1. Alden points to the par excellence Dionysiac removal of headdress in Euripides’ Bacchae 1115–1116.

[ back ] 36. Henrichs 1987:99–106; Jameson 1993:45–46; Cole 1993:281–282. Seaford 1993:122 rightly observes that the earliest example of Artemis’ association with Dionysus is Odyssey xi 325, where it is stated that Artemis, who was informed by Dionysus, killed Ariadne. Artemis and Dionysus are usually connected by way of their rites being celebrated in the wild, far away from the civilized world.

[ back ] 37. Jameson 1993:45.

[ back ] 38. Alden 1995:345. Cf. the maxim ‘der liebe Gott steckt im détail’ (god lies in the particulars) by the art historian Warburg. See Henrichs 1993:40n71.

[ back ] 39. Alden 1995:345n74 argues for an analogy between Odysseus’ uncovered face beyond the branch and the Dionysiac mask or masks upon a column with branches sprouting out from his body. See Burkert 1983:235–237 and plate 7.

[ back ] 40. Alden 1995:345–346.

[ back ] 41. CVA Madrid 2, III 1 C plate 15 1a (Madrid 32656). Schauenburg 1957:222 and plate VIII, n13. See also Alden 1995:345n80.

[ back ] 42. See Alden 1995:346; Shapiro 1995, plate 24.

[ back ] 43. See Sourvinou-Inwood 1991:99–143.

[ back ] 44. It was believed that Leto was supported by a palm tree while trying to give birth to Apollo and Artemis at Delos. See Hainsworth 1988:304.

[ back ] 45. Kourou 2001:31. See also Evans 1901:99–204; Unger 1926:261–262; Danthine 1937; James 1966; Yarden 1972; Cook 1978; Kepinski 1982; Brosse 1993.

[ back ] 46. Kourou 2001:34.

[ back ] 47. Brosse 1993:71; Kourou 2001:38.

[ back ] 48. Kourou 2001:48.

[ back ] 49. Brosse 1993:113; Veneri 1986:415. See also Sourvinou-Inwood 2005:104, who observes that in Boeotia Dionysus was called Ἔνδενδρος (Hesychius s.v.).

[ back ] 50. In Athens the Karyatides in the Erechtheion were called Καρυάτιδες δυσμαῖναι (Caryatids in madness). See Calame 1977:273n199.

[ back ] 51. Burkert 1995:151; Daraki 1985:90.

[ back ] 52. Odyssey vi 230–231.

[ back ] 53. See Euripides Bacchae 821, 928–929, 935–939.

[ back ] 54. Odyssey vi 225–226.

[ back ] 55. Burkert 1985:223.

[ back ] 56. Odyssey vi 280–281.

[ back ] 57. Otto 1933:74.

[ back ] 58. On Dionysus coming from the sea, see Kerényi 1976:139–144. For a list of ancient sources, see Alden 1995:342n48.

[ back ] 59. Simon 1983:96–98.

[ back ] 60. Daraki 1985:101–103; Seaford 1993:138; Alden 1995:342.

[ back ] 61. See Wilson 1999:66–68.

[ back ] 62. The translation is based on Campbell 1993.

[ back ] 63. The only exception is a brief reference to Dionysus and Ariadne in Naxos at the first Nekyia (Odyssey xi 325).

[ back ] 64. Odyssey vii 114–132.

[ back ] 65. Lowenstam 1993:207–228; Danek 1998:131.