Heat and Lust: Hesiod’s Midsummer Festival Scene Revisited

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Appendix 1. Commentary on WD 582-596

West’s indispensable comments ad loc. may be supplemented with a few remarks which I append here; a fuller discussion of textual points will be found in chs. 5 and 6. For a discussion of the correspondences of meter and phraseology between WD 582-593, Shield of Herakles 393-401 (Solmsen), and Alcaeus fr. 347a (LP), see also Nagy 1990a. 462-463, especially n. 121 (with further bibliography), and A. M. Bowie 1981. especially 32-46 (cited in Nagy, ibid., p. 459 n. 111).

582. ἦμος: in prot. with τῆμος (585); almost rhymes with σκόλυμος.

καὶ ἠχέτα· hiatus enhances the resonance of the line, ἠχήτης (adjective or noun), ἠχέω (verb), and ἠχή (noun) are used of the sound made by the cicada: cf. Gk. insects, p. 119 for testimonia and bibliography.

τέττιξ: the noun is derived, it would appear, by onomatopoeic reduplication (cf. MG τζίτζικας, English cricket); perhaps the original term was τίττιξ: Gk. insects, p. 113.

583. δενδρέω ἐφεζόμενος· this type of synizesis is rare in Homer; cf. Kirk 1985. 284 on Iliad 3.152. The merging of the two words by synizesis and correption creates a flow of sound and rhythm that is only broken by the caesura in the fourth foot, after the telling λιγυρήν.

Cicadas sit in trees, especially the oak, the fig-tree, and their favorite, the olive tree (cf. on 589, below); “hence the proverbial expression about cicadas singing from the ground (Aristotle Rhetoric 1394b f., etc.) indicates a land’s total desolation” (Gk . insects, p. 115 n. 75). This is confirmed by Aristotle History of animals 556a22 f.: “cicadas do not occur where there are no trees” (noted in Gk. insects, ibid.).

λιγυρήν … ἀοιδήν:λιγυρή (Ionic form) = ‘clear-sounding,’ cf. WD 659 ἔνθά με τὸ πρῶτον λιγυρῆς ἐπέβησαν [sc. Μοῦσαι] ἀοιδῆς and immediately below. The cicada’s voice (ὄπα)—which may strike English and American ears as a bothersome thrumming noise (cf. Gk. insects, pp. 116-117)—is described in Iliad 3.152 as λειριόεσσαν, ‘lily-like/ i.e. ‘delicate or exquisite’; Kirk 1985. 283-284 ad loc. rightly supposes that the Greeks perceived this insect’s sound as a sweet chirruping: on the cicada’s sweet song, cf. the testimonia in Gk. insects, pp. 117-118,122, and especially the observation (p. 117) that “other writers name cicadas in the same breath as song-birds” (e.g., Alcaeus fr. 307c [LP], Aristotle On audible things 804a22, Peek 2027.9-10, where the insect’s song is praised alongside that of the nightingale).

Like λιγύς, λιγυρός is used of a clear, penetrating sound, which the Greeks undoubtedly found appealing: cf. Stanford 1959. 407 on Odyssey 12.44. Hence a whistling wind was λιγυρός (e.g., Iliad 5.526) no less than a bird call (Iliad 14.290) or the song of Sirens (λιγυρῇ θέλγουσιν ἀοιδῇ, Odyssey 12.44, cf. ibid. 183), the Muses (cf. Gk. insects, pp. 117-118) or human beings, especially poets (WD 659 above, Theocritus 15.135,17.113, cf. 8.71 λιγυρῶς). This aesthetic explains why the swallow’s high-pitched tone was presumably appreciated by Homer’s audience: see Losada 1985. 33-34 (33), and cf. Peek loc. cit. 9-11.

584. πυκνὸν ὑπὸ πτερύγων: despite the fatigue afflicting men at this season (cf. θέρεος καματώδεος), the cicada sings thick and fast (πυκνόν), unaffected by fatigue.

Hesiod and other authors, both early and later, erroneously identify the wings as the source of sound (Gk. insects, pp. 121-122), whereas (cf. ibid., pp. 120-121) “the sound is produced by the male cicada only … who (as a sexual signal) vibrates a membrane in his thorax”. But several authors, including perhaps Archilochus (cf. fr. 223 [W]), well knew this: Gk. insects, pp. 119-120,129.

θέρεος καματώδεος ὥρῃ: still another index of Hesiod’s seasonal consciousness; cf. Anacreontea fr. 34.11 (W) θέρεος γλυκὺς προφήτης, of the cicada. The insect was associated, naturally enough, with the summer heat, especially the midday heat (testimonia in Gk. insects, pp. 115-116, 123). Also cf. Gk. insects, p. 122: “It is, in fact, the case that the cicada will not sing (or reproduce) below a certain temperature (65°F, for instance, in the case of England’s only species of cicada)…”

585. τῆμος: like ἦμος (582), a spondee and emphatic by its initial position.

586. μαχλόταται: The adjective μοχλός, pace Aristarchus, may be predicated properly of both sexes, and refers to indiscriminate, uncontrollable behavior: Friis Johansen and Whittle 1980. 13-14 on Aeschylus The suppliants 636. (As applied to Paris at Iliad 24.30 the noun μαχλοσῦνη may imply uxoriousness, as Macleod 1982 notes ad loc.) Hes. fr. 132 (M.- W.) mentions the μαχλοσῦνη of the daughters of Proitus, the king of Argos. These two (or in other versions three) sisters on reaching maturity somehow offended Hera, who punished them by striking them with leprosy and madness. In their frenzy the Proitides roamed wild through the whole of the Peloponnese lusting after men but disgusting them with their physical condition: Loeffler 1963; Bremmer 1984. 267-286 (282- 286).

ἀφαυρότατοι: the adjective in Homer is used, with two exceptions, of men, and encompasses such senses as ‘ineffective’ (Iliad 12.458, of a boulder missing its mark); ‘physically weak’ (Iliad 15.11, 7.457, Odyssey 20.110); ‘callow and unmanly’ (Iliad 7.235). Pliny Natural history 22.86 readily understood the specific sense of ἀφ. in WD as impotent: virosque in coitum pigerrimos (‘men most sluggish in sexual congress’).

ἀφαυρότατοι δὲ τοι ἄνδρες: The enclitic τοι acquires no special force from its combination with δέ, but simply lends emphasis to ἀφ. (Denniston, pp. 548, 532). 586 exemplifies parallelism.

587. ἐπεί: the conjunction is temporal-causal.

588. αὐαλέος δέ τε χρὼς ὑπὸ καύματος: Hes. extends the men’s desiccation from their (crucial, cf. ch. 4 below) head and knees to the entire body surface, or χρώς (on which cf. Verdenius, p. 56 on 74). In the autumn, when Sirius is distant and the rains commence, men are cool of skin (χρώς): WD 414-419.

ἀλλὰ τότ ’ ἤδη: yet another of Hes.’s transitions and another explicit time-marker: cf. 582, 584,585,587 nn.

589. πετραίη τε σκιή· men parched by the sun will find relief in the deep, cooling shade of a rock; cicadas keep mum at temperatures below 65° (cf. on 584 above) and tend to avoid too deep a shade, as Aristotle observed: cf. Gk. insects, p. 115.

At 593 (ἐν σκιῇ ἐζόμενον) man imitates the cicada by sitting in the shade (cf. 583).

Βίβλινος: the meaning of the adjective is obscure; cf. Gow 1952 on Theocritus 14.15; but surely it was a special treat, perhaps comparable to our bottle of champagne.

590. σβεννυμενάων cf. ch. 5.

592. ἐπὶ … πινέμεν: tmesis; for ἐπί-‘afterwards'(as in Ἐπιμηθεύς), cf. Verdenius, pp. 60-61 on WD 84. So ἐπιπίνω = ‘drink afterwards,’ especially after a meal of meat (cf. 593 κεκορημένον ἦτορ ἐδωδῆς): Odyssey 9.297 κρέ ’ ἔδων καὶ ἐπ’ ἄκρητον γάλα πίνων.

Men now drink, whereas the cicada, it was believed at least from the time of the Shield of Herakles, drinks its fill of dew at dawn and sings at midday: on this popular belief cf. Gk. insects, pp. 123-124.

593. ἐν σκιῇ ἑζόμενον: cf. on 589 above.

594. ἀντίον ἀκραέος Ζεφύρου: ἀκραής here = ‘fresh, brisk’ but the original meaning was probably ‘blowing on or from the heights’; perhaps the second long a is due to metrical lengthening: see Heubeck-West-Hainsworth 1988. 156 on Odyssey 2.421. On the sexual connotations of the Zephyr, see Appendix 2.

595. κρήνης … ἥ τ’ ἀθόλωτος: κρήνης is emphatic by position; its significance will be discussed in Appendix 3 below, τε can introduce complementary, or more specific, information almost in the nature of an apposition, and this applies to τε + relative clause: cf. Verdenius, p. 3 on WD 3, and cf. op. cit. 92 αἵ τε. The -α sound is repeated in this verse as a whole.

596. τρίς: cf. initial τρίς at 173, w. Verdenius’s note (p. 104).