Pointing at the Past: From Formula to Performance in Homeric Poetics

  Bakker, Egbert J. 2005. Pointing at the Past: From Formula to Performance in Homeric Poetics. Hellenic Studies Series 12. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_BakkerE_Pointing_at_the_Past.2005.

Chapter 5. The Poetics of Deixis

Deixis is what speakers do to locate themselves in space and time, with respect to things, events, and each other. When speaking, it is impossible not to be deictic, not to “be in” the context of one’s discourse. Not being deictic is not communicating, not being in a situation, not being. This is what happens in some narratives, whose narrator disappears behind the events of the story and which seem to be deploying themselves without the intervention of any speaker. Such narrative, however, is strictly a written achievement, made possible by the fictional space that writing creates. [1] In oral narrative, it is just as impossible for a narrator to disappear as it is for any speaker, and to discover the signs of that presence is, I believe, an important aspect of the study of oral traditions that have come down to us in the form of text.

This Chapter is concerned with deixis in Homer and Hesiod. In particular, I will study the deictic demonstrative οὗτος, whose use, I attempt to show, can tell us something about the way in which an audience experiences Homer’s heroic and Hesiod’s theogonic narrative as a distant reality, a reality that is nevertheless shared by poet and audience as an immediate presence in the context of performance.

Near and Far

Languages may or may not provide separate deictic elements for these two jobs. Homeric Greek does, in the anaphoric pronoun ὁ as against the deictic pronoun οὗτος. Such a situation is not only a grammatical expression of discours and histoire, of near and far in narrative; it also provides narrators with a means to use the deictic markers of the near, when they wish to pretend that the remote reality of their story is actually present in the performance, before the listeners’ eyes. This possibility, an important grammatical aspect of what ancient literary criticism called Homeric “vividness” (enargeia), is the main focus of this chapter.

Young and Old

Today’s conception of oral poetry in performance differs increasingly from that of Parry. We tend to emphasize communication rather than composition, and we conceive of the epic performance as the enactment, between a performer and his audience in their here and now, of a heroic past that is distant, yet alive, and accessible through the recognized medium of the poetic tradition. In this conception, the performer’s interaction with the audience in his evocation of the past is no less important than his mastery of a formulaic, metrical idiom. It is, I believe, a major task in Homer studies today to recover, if possible, some of that interaction.

The retention of old forms, be it for their metrical utility or simply for their oldness, may have side effects that bear on the semantic depth of the Homeric Kunstsprache. When what has become obsolete in the ordinary language is retained, and continues to be used alongside the newer form, the result may be a semantic choice, and hence a richness, that is unavailable in the ordinary language. The case of ὁ and οὗτος, and the grammar of narrative deixis in Homer and Hesiod, is an example of this phenomenon.

Deixis and Anaphora in Homeric Poetry

The pronoun ὁ continues to be used in classical Greek, but its anaphoric demonstrative force is weakened to that of the definite article (by a development not unlike that of Latin ille into French le); only in some fixed combinations (ὁ μέν, ὁ δέ) does the erstwhile demonstrative retain its original force. Its anaphoric functions have been mainly taken over by οὗτος, for example:

Ἕλλησι μὲν Τεισαμενὸς Ἀντιόχου ἦν ὁ θυόμενος· οὗτος γὰρ δὴ εἵπετο τῷ στρατεύματι τούτῳ μάντις·

Hdt. 9.33.1

The priest of the Greeks was Teisamenos the son of Antiokhos. This man came with that army as a seer.

Dialogic Deixis in Characters’ Speech

ὣς οἱ μὲν τὰ πένοντο κατὰ στρατόν· οὐδ᾿ Ἀγαμέμνων
λῆγ᾿ ἔριδος τὴν πρῶτον ἐπηπείλησ᾿ Ἀχιλῆϊ,
ἀλλ᾿ ὅ γε Ταλθύβιόν τε καὶ Εὐρυβάτην προσέειπε,
τώ οἱ ἔσαν κήρυκε καὶ ὀτρηρὼ θεράποντε·

Iliad I 318–321

In this way these occupied themselves with these things around the army. But Agamemnon
did not put an end to the strife with which he had threatened Achilles in the beginning;
no, since he addressed Talthybios and Eurybates;
these two were his heralds and dedicated servants.

Priam has Agamemnon in mind, and he refers to him with the pronoun ὅδε: the object of pointing cannot yet be assumed to be a perception shared between him and Helen, and has to be presented as deixis from the point of view of the speaker himself. Helen answers Priam’s question with οὗτος, thereby indicating that she knows at whom Priam is pointing:

οὗτός γ᾿ Ἀτρεΐδης εὐρὺ κρείων Ἀγαμέμνων

Iliad III 178

That man there is Atreus’ son, wide-ruling Agamemnon

Unlike the Homeric narrator, Helen is dealing with a reality that is not produced by her own discourse; it exists before her, not in her speech but preceding it. With οὗτος she is actually pointing at the object of her reference, in the direct sense of “deixis.” Moreover, this pointing serves a distinct social function: Helen’s answer acknowledges Priam’s earlier perception. Helen’s and Priam’s joint seeing is in fact the very point of the use of οὗτος. We may say, then, that οὗτος is not only deictic, but also “dialogic.” The value of οὗτος as deictic of the second person is clearly brought out by the following example:

τίς δ᾿ οὗτος κατὰ νῆας ἀνὰ στρατὸν ἔρχεαι οἶος

Iliad X 82

You there, who are you walking through the ships and the army on your own?

Thus far the difference between ὁ and οὗτος has been linked to the distinction between narrative and speech. But in the end this distinction is in and of itself not the final criterion. Before I discuss the use of οὗτος in narrative, I shall present some examples of ὁ in speech. In the following passage, for example, the two pronouns occur side by side in one context:

βάλλ᾿ οὕτως, αἴ κέν τι φόως Δαναοῖσι γένηαι
πατρί τε σῷ Τελαμῶνι, ὅ σ᾿ ἔτρεφε τυτθὸν ἐόντα,
(. . .)
τὸν καὶ τηλόθ᾿ ἐόντα ἐϋκλείης ἐπίβησον.

Iliad VIII 282–285

Go on shooting like this, so that you may become a light for the Danaans,
and to Telamon your father, who/he nourished you when you were little (. . .),
set him on the path to glory, though he is far away.

This is Agamemnon addressing Teucer; with οὕτως he refers to Teucer’s actual shooting, which is taking place right before his eyes. The reference to Teucer’s old father Telamon, on the other hand, is done with τὸν, not τοῦτον: the old man is not present; he cannot be pointed at and has to be established in Agamemnon’s speech, so as to be an antecedent for subsequent anaphoric reference. We observe, then, that the pronoun of anaphoric reference is not at all barred from the discourse of characters; it can, in fact, be quite effective in what they want to say. Consider, for example, how Agamemnon refuses to give back Chryseis to her father:

τὴν δ᾿ ἐγὼ οὐ δώσω

Iliad I 29

and her I will not give back

The choice of demonstrative, anaphoric τὴν instead of deictic ταύτην, signals that as far as Agamemnon is concerned Chryseis is not a reality shared between himself and her father. She is not present, not allowed to come out of the discourse that contains her reference, not allowed to become on object of pointing. Equally instructive is the way in which Eumaios the swineherd speaks about his absent master: after establishing him in the discourse with κεῖνος, the pronoun for remote deixis (xiv 70, 90), he refers to him with ὁ, the pronoun of anaphoric reference (xiv 133–137).

The Poet, the Muse, and the Public

The closing formula has to be taken in close connection with the famous invocation of the Muses at the very beginning of the Catalogue, one of the rare moments at which the narrator speaks directly of himself and his public in terms of “me” and “us”:

ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾿ ἔχουσαι·
ὑμεῖς γὰρ θεαί ἐστε πάρεστέ τε ἴστέ τε πάντα,
ἡμεῖς δὲ κλέος οἶον ἀκούομεν οὐδέ τι ἴδμεν·
οἵ τινες ἡγεμόνες Δαναῶν καὶ κοίρανοι ἦσαν·

Iliad II 484–487

Sing now to me, Muses, who dwell in Olympian houses—
for you are goddesses and you are present, and have seen everything;
but we are hearing only the rumor of it and know nothing—
who the leaders and lords were of the Danaans.

The next example, too, is concerned with the poet’s human limitations. At the onset of the Battle of the Ships, he is faced with the arduous task of putting the chaotic complexity of the Trojan War into words. This is how he expresses his mortal vision:

ἄλλοι δ᾿ ἀμφ᾿ ἄλλῃσι μάχην ἐμάχοντο πύλῃσιν·
ἀργαλέον δέ με ταῦτα θεὸν ὣς πάντ᾿ ἀγορεῦσαι·
πάντῃ γὰρ περὶ τεῖχος ὀρώρει θεσπιδαὲς πῦρ

Iliad XII 175–177

Various groups of warriors fought their fight at the various gates.
Difficult it is for me to put, like a god, all these things into words,
for all around the wall the god-kindled fire had risen.

The passage just discussed is a good point at which to turn briefly to Hesiod. We saw that the Homeric narrator is aware of his mortal shortcomings when confronted with the formidable task of recreating the past, and this human condition with its cognitive limitations calls for the aid of the Muses. The persona of Hesiod, on the other hand, appears to be much more confident. He can take the Muses’ assistance for granted, since he has been personally initiated. His discourse, in fact, is much more personal than Homer’s. The passage in which he tells of his poetic vocation contains the most explicit self-presentation of any narrator in all of Greek literature:

αἵ νύ ποθ᾿ ῾Ησίοδον καλὴν ἐδίδαξαν ἀοιδήν,
ἄρνας ποιμαίνονθ᾿ Ἑλικῶνος ὕπο ζαθέοιο.
τόνδε δέ με πρώτιστα θεαὶ πρὸς μῦθον ἔειπον,
Μοῦσαι Ὀλυμπιάδες, κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο·

Theogony 22–25

Now these have once taught Hesiod beautiful song,
when he was herding his sheep below most holy Helicon.
Me here the goddesses addressed at first a speech,
Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus who holds the Aegis.

Hesiod strikingly refers to himself with ὅδε (τόνδε με) which, as we saw, is the pronoun of proximal, speaker-oriented deixis: the pronoun here designates the speaker himself as he is physically present before his audience. Hesiod goes on to say that the Muses ordered him to sing of the race of the immortal gods, thus implying their continued presence in the performance of the poet’s song.

It appears, then, that οὗτος is used when attention is drawn to the poet’s own speaking in the present. This would seem to apply to the next example as well, with which we return to Homer. Οὗτος is used here to characterize the words of the misguided Trojan warrior Asios:

ὣς ἔφατ᾿, οὐδὲ Διὸς πεῖθε φρένα ταῦτ᾿ ἀγορεύων·
Ἕκτορι γάρ οἱ θυμὸς ἐβούλετο κῦδος ὀρέξαι.

Iliad XII 173–174

So he spoke, but he did not succeed in persuading Zeus’s heart by uttering these words,
for to Hektor his heart wanted rather to extend glory.

These words refer to a preposterous speech in which Asios has blamed Zeus (calling him a liar, φιλοψευδὴς) for not allowing the Trojans to eliminate Polypoites and Leonteus, who successfully resisted the Trojan onrush. We have already been explicitly told that Asios is doomed:

νήπιος, οὐδ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἔμελλε κακὰς ὑπὸ κῆρας ἀλύξας
ἵπποισιν καὶ ὄχεσφιν ἀγαλλόμενος παρὰ νηῶν
ἂψ ἀπονοστήσειν προτὶ Ἴλιον ἠνεμόεσσαν·

Iliad XII 113–115

nēpios, he was not to escape the evil spirits of destruction,
indulging as he was in his horses and his chariot,
and to return from the ships back again to windy Ilion.

Indirect Speech and the Telos of the Odyssey

Asios’s words are referred to with ταῦτα, yet closed in the usual Homeric way with ὣς ἔφατ᾿, “so he spoke.” This is different from the examples from the Odyssey to which we now turn. In Book Eight, the three performances of Demodokos at the banquet in honor of Odysseus are all closed in the following way:

ταῦτ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἀοιδὸς ἄειδε περικλυτός

Odyssey viii 83, 367, 521

this then the famous bard was singing

Such a total coincidence, I suggest, is exactly what ταῦτα effects. But then Demodokos’s performances are far from being ordinary speeches; in fact, they are not direct discourse at all. They may seem to end as speeches, but they do not begin in this way. Demodokos’s songs are explicitly introduced as well-known, recognizable songs. The first is called “the οἴμη (‘lay’) whose “fame” (κλέος), was reaching up to heaven, the quarrel of Odysseus and Peleus’ son Achilles” (viii 74–75); the second simply “on the love of Ares and Aphrodite of the gold wreath” (viii 267); and the third one, in Odysseus’s words, “the ἵππου κόσμον (‘construction of the horse’),” followed by a brief description in which Odysseus’s own role is emphasized (viii 492–495).

This means that Demodokos’s songs start, quite uncharacteristically for Homer—but see the next example—as indirect speech (ὡς ‘how’, viii 76, 268, 500). Immediately after, however, the indirect speech construction verges into a discourse mode that seems at first sight to be direct speech, with Demodokos as speaker. Yet on closer inspection, it appears that we have here in fact a curious blend of Demodokos, the poet of the past, and Homer, the poet of the present. The voice of Demodokos is allowed to intrude into the discourse of the present. The song of the blind mythical bard, performed on the rarest of occasions, with an eyewitness in the audience whose scrutiny it withstood, is in fact appropriated by the Odyssey of the present; it becomes the Odyssey. Its reality is now nothing less than the reality of the Homeric performance itself. The immediate deixis of ταῦτα, then, bridges the gap with the past; far from merely repeating the earlier speech, it pulls that speech into the present, while at the same time characterizing the song of the present as just as good as the song of the past.

Spoken Thoughts, Thought Speech

The remaining examples of οὗτος in Homeric narrative take us from represented speech to represented thought. In what ways does Homeric poetry represent the thoughts of its heroes or gods? The best-known strategy is the hero addressing his own thumos: the hero’s thoughts are performed on the Homeric stage, and there is no formal difference from overt speech presented to another person, for example:

ὀχθήσας δ᾿ ἄρα εἶπε πρὸς ὃν μεγαλήτορα θυμόν· (. . .)
ὣς εἰπὼν

Iliad XXI 552–571

And deeply annoyed he spoke to his own great-hearted spirit (. . .).
Having spoken thus….

Just as in the case of direct speech, the anaphoric adverbial demonstrative ὥς is used, marking the speech as a performance pointing to the past.

The narrator closes his rendering of Odysseus’s thoughts with a simple report on the outcome: “he considered A and B, and he decided B.” Again, the anaphoric ὥς is used. Notice, however, that ταῦτ᾿ ἄρα οἱ φρονέοντι would have been metrically possible, a phrase that actually occurs elsewhere (see the next example). In choosing the anaphoric adverbial demonstrative ὥς instead of the deictic accusative ταῦτα, the narrator contents himself with repeating the thought process as such, without allowing it to break through the narrative framework to become part of the immediate reality of the performance.

Consider now the second possibility. The character’s thought processes may also be interrupted by the sudden appearance of a god who determines his line of action. When this happens, the indirectly reported thought is referred to with the pronoun of dialogic deixis: ὥς recedes in favor of ταῦτα. Consider for example:

Ἕκτωρ δ᾿ ἐν Σκαιῇσι πύλῃς ἔχε μώνυχας ἵππους·
δίζε γὰρ ἠὲ μάχοιτο κατὰ κλόνον αὖτις ἐλάσσας,
ἦ λαοὺς ἐς τεῖχος ὁμοκλήσειεν ἀλῆναι.
ταῦτ᾿ ἄρα οἱ φρονέοντι παρίστατο Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων

Iliad XVI 712–715

But Hektor, in the Skaian Gates he kept his single-foot horses,
and wondered whether he should drive back and fight in the carnage,
or call out to his people to assemble inside the wall.
As he was pondering these things Phoibos Apollo came and stood by him.

Let us first observe that Apollo’s true identity is a matter between the narrator and his audience: Hektor himself is not aware of it. Second, Hektor’s deliberation has potential consequences that transcend the framework of the narrative: had the second alternative, retreating to the city walls, prevailed in his mind, there would have been no encounter with Patroklos, and the course of events would have been very different from the received story. Apollo’s intrusion is thus crucial for the action of the Iliad. The deictic pronoun ταῦτ᾿(α) objectifies Hektor’s thought, and sets it up for the confrontation with Apollo, who as an external agent decides the outcome. The following example, from the Quarrel of Achilles and Agamemnon, is similar:

ὣς φάτο· Πηλεΐωνι δ᾿ ἄχος γένετ᾿, ἐν δέ οἱ ἦτορ
στήθεσσιν λασίοισι διάνδιχα μερμήριξεν,
ἢ ὅ γε φάσγανον ὀξὺ ἐρυσσάμενος παρὰ μηροῦ
τοὺς μὲν ἀναστήσειεν, ὁ δ᾿ Ἀτρεΐδην ἐναρίζοι,
ἦε χόλον παύσειεν ἐρητύσειέ τε θυμόν.
ἧος ὁ ταῦθ᾿ ὥρμαινε κατὰ φρένα καὶ κατὰ θυμόν,
ἕλκετο δ᾿ ἐκ κολεοῖο μέγα ξίφος, ἦλθε δ᾿ Ἀθήνη . . .

Iliad I 188–194

So he spoke. And grief came on Peleus’ son, and his heart
within his shaggy breast pondered in two separate ways,
whether he should draw his sharp sword from beside his thigh,
make all of them stand up, and kill the son of Atreus,
or else put and end to anger and restrain his spirit.
As he considered these things in his mind and in his spirit,
and started drawing from its scabbard his mighty sword, Athene descended

One of the instances of this formula (X 507) involves a divine epiphany, but the other cases are different. They do not involve a divine intervention that is responsible for the action of the poem, nor is the thought presented as indirect speech. All but one of the instances of this formula follow thought presented as direct speech, a hero addressing his own thumós, in the line we have already seen:

ὀχθήσας δ᾿ ἄρα εἶπε πρὸς ὃν μεγαλήτορα θυμόν·
and deeply annoyed he spoke to his own great-hearted spirit

Does this invalidate the analysis of ταῦτα just presented? Before we conclude that this is the case, we have to take into account that ταῦτα is prepackaged in a formulaic context. In other words, it is possible that the use of ταῦτα is conditioned by the formula. A quick search, in fact, reveals that the verb of the formula, ὥρμαινε, is not used according to its basic lexical value: like μερμηρίζειν, ὁρμαίνειν is used primarily for inner thought, not public speech. Both verbs are often used for (hidden) intentions, with direct objects such as φόνον (‘murder’) or δόλον (‘ruse’), or they govern a purpose clause. [41] The use of the formulaic line in question derives from the ambiguous status of speech addressed to one’s own thumós: such “performed thought” can either be categorized as overt, direct speech (hence the anaphoric reference with ὥς, see above), or as inner thought, to be referred to with the verb ὁρμαίνειν. This means that the formulaic line containing ταῦτα is used in a “grey” area where categorization can go either way, outside the proper locus that originally generated its existence. This does not necessarily mean that these instances are more recent or less “original.” Rather, we would have the more or less routine use of an expression in contexts that are similar to the one for which it was originally designed. This is a frequent phenomenon, not only in the deployment of the formulaic idiom of an oral epic tradition, but also in language in general. [42]

With this formulaic connection, οὗτος is a truly Homeric element. More important than formulas and their relative age, however, is the function of the demonstrative as part of the Homeric grammar of deixis, serving a fundamental goal of the epic tradition and its performers: the vivid representation of a heroic past that is alive thanks to the power of words that can reveal its presence.


[ back ] 1. On fictionality, see also Chapter Three above (p. #). On deixis in Greek poetry, see recently Felson, ed. 2004:253–266.

[ back ] 2. Compare my efforts (e.g. Bakker 1993a, 1997a, 1997c) to study Homeric discourse from the point of view of spoken language. See also Chapters Three and Four above.

[ back ] 3. Benveniste 1966:238–239 (histoire), 241–242 (discours). Benveniste speaks primarily of the distribution of tenses in French, whereby the passé simple is confined to histoire, the passé composé being the tense of discours. More on Benveniste’s conception in Chapter Seven below, in connection with verbal augment.

[ back ] 4. See also de Jong 1987:41–99, although her literary point of view is different from my performance-oriented approach.

[ back ] 5. For an account of anaphora in these terms, see Lyons 1977:660.

[ back ] 6. On the diachronic and dialectal heterogeneity of Homeric diction, see recently Forssman 1991; Meier-Brügger 1986; Ruijgh 1995; Shipp 1972; Hackstein 2002.

[ back ] 7. The best-known formulation of this observation is Shipp 1972, who includes (p. 3–4) nēpios comments, which will briefly occupy us later on in this Chapter and in more detail in Chapter Six below.

[ back ] 8. E.g. Parry 1971:332: “by the constraint of his technique of epic verse-making, the singer keeps the formula though its language has become archaic.”

[ back ] 9. See e.g. Horrocks 1981:152–53 on the usefulness of tmesis (shown to be already an archaism by the time of the formulaic diction; see also Janko 1992:11n15, 17). From a slightly different angle, linguistic modernization has been studied as a factor beneficial to the flexibility of epic formulaic diction (Hoekstra 1965), or as a window on the relative chronology of the various works of early Greek hexameter poetry (Janko 1982).

[ back ] 10. For a new account on Homeric Kunstsprache, see Hackstein 2002, who stresses the contemporary Ionic character of Homeric diction and allows for deliberate archaizing.

[ back ] 11. See Monro 1891:217; Kühner and Gerth 1898–1904: 1:575–581, 641–651; Chantraine 1963:158–169.

[ back ] 12. Still, in many cases the “article” is more marked than in Attic Greek. For example, Kirk 1985:145 is probably right in seeing contrastive force in II 278 ἀνὰ δ᾿ πτολίπορθος Ὀδυσσεύς  ἔστη σκῆπτρον ἔχων, though I would see the noun-epithet formula as apposition to ὁ, rather than as noun phrase modified by a definite article; see also VIII 532; X 363, 563; XX 320. On apposition of nouns or noun-epithet formulas to ὁ, see Bakker 1997a:92–93, 198–200.

[ back ] 13. In making this observation I am indebted to Ruijgh 1991.

[ back ] 14. Note the reactions from the literary camp, e.g. Griffin 1986, De Jong 1987:151–60; 231–33. For a renewed interest in speeches within the framework of orality, see Martin 1989.

[ back ] 15. See e.g. Drewitt 1908; 1912:117–118, using verbal augment (on which, see Chapter Seven below), the infinitive ending ειν, and elision in the caesura as criteria. Note that for the same reasons, scansion and prosody, speeches have more recently been found, ironically, to be more archaic than narrative (Kelly 1990:20–27).

[ back ] 16. Οὗτος is usually derived from the coalescence of the pronominal root *so/ho with a particle *u (related to Greek αὖ?) and the flectional forms of the pronominal root (-to); see Meillet-Vendryes 1948:494; Rix 1976:184; Klein 1996:35. This could mean that the composite form is less “basic” than the original, but it could also be argued that the formation is Proto-Indo-European, and is hence of no relevance for the study of relative chronology in Greek.

[ back ] 17. See already Monro 1891:224.

[ back ] 18. In this connection we can also observe that it is usually ὁ, and not οὗτος, that figures in correlative constructions (e.g. Il. II 36 τὰ φρονέοντ᾿ ἀνὰ θυμὸν ῥ᾿ οὐ τελέεσθαι ἔμελλον). The reason seems to be that in correlative constructions the demonstrative specifies what is dealt with elsewhere in the utterance, and so has no immediate deictic force. This principle is independent of the distinction between narrator and character. See e.g. I 125, 554; II 38; IV 361; XVIII 4; i 257; ii 116; v 188.

[ back ] 19. See Fillmore 1997:64–66.

[ back ] 20. See also Klein 1996:26–27.

[ back ] 21. E.g. Aristophanes, Acharnians 564; Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus 532; Euripides, Orestes 1567. For further details, see Dickey 1996:154–158.

[ back ] 22. This example is also discussed by Ruijgh (1991), who speaks of an “expressive” use of οὗτος.

[ back ] 23. See also Bakker 1993a:15–25; 1997b:17–20.

[ back ] 24. Compare the very similar use of οὗτος ἄρα much later in the narrative: οὗτοι ἄρ᾿ ἡγεμόνες Δαναῶν ἕλον ἄνδρα ἕκαστος (‘so these, lords of the Danaans, they killed each his own man’, XVI 351). The narrative section to which this statement refers has clear catalogic properties (on the special relation between battle narrative and catalogues, see Beye 1964). The special reality of the “list” just presented seems motivated by the special importance of this turning point in the battle, the prelude to Patroklos’s death.

[ back ] 25. Note that the Muse is addressed again in the very next line (II 761).

[ back ] 26. On ancient criticism of XII 175–178, see Hainsworth 1993:336–337. Aristarchus’s criticism of the premature mentioning of fire (which is not actually thrown into the ships, in spite of numerous attempts, until XVI 122) is unfounded: the passage is programmatic for the whole Battle of the Ships all the way to Patroklos’s appearance in the battle in Book XVI. Such orienting statements may have features that are strictly speaking not chronological (note that the pluperfect ὀρώρει is frequently used as a descriptive, non-sequential verb in previewing descriptions, e.g. IV 449, XII 289, XIII 540, XVII 384). On problems with our notion of narrative chronology for the Battle of the Ships in general, see Whitman and Scodel 1981; on orientation and previewing in general, see Bakker 1997a:86–122. At pp. 57–58 I discuss the passage in question as a confrontation of the linearity of speech with the spatial, simultaneous complexity of the battle.

[ back ] 27. Scholion ad XII 175–181: ἄλλως τε καὶ Ὁμηρικὴν ἐνάργειαν ἔχουσιν οἱ στίχοι (“and besides the lines have a Homeric vividness”).

[ back ] 28. See also Nagy 1992:125–126; Clay 2003:2, 57.

[ back ] 29. See also Hesiod, Theogony 75 ταῦτ᾿ ἄρα Μοῦσαι ἄειδον, where the demonstrative refers to the Muses’ song of Zeus’ victory over Kronos and the establishment of his reign. In Works and Days, too, οὗτος is used in cases of direct address: 27, 274 (Perses), 263 (the greedy kings).

[ back ] 30. See also Hesiod, Theogony 348, 520.

[ back ] 31. On present tense, see further Chapters 6–9 below.

[ back ] 32. On ἄρα as well as on the evidential verb μέλλειν, see Chapter Six below. See also Bakker 1997b:17–23; 30–36, 1998a:71–73. On nēpios passages, see also de Jong 1987:86–87. Note that these passages, too, have been considered “late” (Shipp 1972:3–4).

[ back ] 33. See also Chapter Six below, p. #, where I characterize this use of ὥς as “a sign pointing to the past.”

[ back ] 34. Note the repetition of the embedding construction: ἤειδεν δ᾿ ὡς . . . ‘and he sang how…’ (viii 514).

[ back ] 35. In defending the passage against the attacks of ancient and modern critics, Heubeck 1992:346 calls the passage a “retrospection,” and makes a comparison with I 365–392, where Achilles recounts the events of the Quarrel to his mother. The two passages, however, are not comparable. Achilles’ account, a first-person mirror story (de Jong 1985b), gives a character’s personal vision of previously recounted events, whereas the bedroom narrative recapitulates Odysseus’s “objective” story of his wanderings, guaranteeing its truth.

[ back ] 36. See also II 5; V 671–675; VIII 169; XIII 455–459; XIV 159–162; XVI 647–655; x 50–53, 151–155, 438–442.

[ back ] 37. Note the anaphoric pronouns τοὺς and ὁ in line 191: the pronouns suggest that Achilles’ thought is presented from the narrator’s standpoint.

[ back ] 38. A third case in which a god intervenes in a character’s (Diomedes) thought processes is X 507. The same ὥρμαινε formula is used, though the importance of the god’s intervention is less crucial.

[ back ] 39. See Bakker 1997a:178–180.

[ back ] 40. X 507; XI 411; XVII 106; XVIII 15; iv 120; v 365, 424.

[ back ] 41. φόνον: ii 325; iv 843; xix 252; δόλον: ii 93; xxiv 128; purpose clause: XXIV 681; ix 554; xv 169; xx 29. The two verbs are functional synonyms, as appears from the fact that the plural and inflected forms of the formula πολλὰ φρεσὶ μερμηρίζων || i 427; xx 10) feature the participial forms of the other verb: πολλὰ φρεσὶν ὁρμαίνοντα (X 4; cf. iii 151; iv 843), φρεσὶν ὁρμαίνοντι (XVI 435).

[ back ] 42. On the semantic “catachresis” of formulas, see Bakker 1988a:186–195; 1997a:190–195. This issue touches on the “improper” use of epithets, signaled by Parry 1971:151–152; see also Chapter One, n.29 above.