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 6: Storytelling in the Future

The question whether the Greek epic tradition is a matter of “truth” or of “fiction” remains a central issue in Homeric scholarship, and any answer to it betrays one’s stance with regard to a host of other issues, such as text, tradition, and authorship. Opinions are divided as to whether the Homeric rendition of the heroic past is wholly traditional, and so “objective,” or allows of fictional, “original” admixture by an individual poet. What is less often asked is whether the notion of truth itself, in the sense of an acknowledged correspondence between a statement and a state of affairs referred to, is not something of our own making, a norm from which the poet whom we wish to be more than merely traditional and mechanical can depart at will.

Tense and Reference

What the two cases have in common is the distance in time between the event and our moment of speaking. Whether we speak objectively about the past; or create a fictional point of view other than our own; or speak in the past tense from our own point of view: the result is the reference to an event that occurred independently of the moment of speaking, at a moment in the past that excludes the present. It is to this conception of the past that I oppose the notion of the past in myth and epic tradition. The past here is not something recorded, reified and subsequently referred to with sentences in the past tense. Such a separation of the knower from the known, the exclusion of the present from the past, has to yield, I believe, to a conception in which the past includes the present, in a way that is different from our sense of time and the past.

Tense and Consciousness

As a first step to this other notion of time, we may look at tense in light of the notion of “performative mimesis” introduced in Chapter Four above. That means that tense has to do not so much with events as such, entities referred to, as with the perception or remembrance of events. After all, language can refer to the “real world” only insofar as this world is perceived by a consciousness that verbalizes its thought and that mediates between the world and a listener, whose consciousness perceives this representation of the real world as language.

Yet whether one uses past or present tense for one’s conversational stories, and whatever the nature of the event one calls to mind, the relation between the verbalizing consciousness in the present and the perceiving consciousness in the past is a matter of remembering. And it is precisely the phenomenon of remembering as an experience linking past and present that is absent from the abstract models of temporal deixis and reference in terms of which tense is usually discussed.

Storytelling in the Present

In terms of the discussion of consciousness just presented, enargeia is pretended immediacy, acting as if one verbalizes what one sees, and pretending that the extroverted consciousness that saw the epic events is actually seeing them in the present. Epic traditions, then, as demonstrated in various ways in this book, draw heavily on the linguistic means used by speakers whose consciousness is in the immediate mode, of which present tense is the most important for our present purposes. In other words, epic performers deploy strategies that are not unlike those used by conversational storytellers to achieve vividness of the discourse and thereby the participation and involvement of the audience.

The epic event verbalized by way of the pseudo-immediacy of present tense, then, is not historical in the sense that it is past; it belongs to the present just as much as it belongs to the past, and in fact the narrator makes an attempt at collapsing the duality that is inherent in referentiality, a duality between a referent and a referring “sign.” The past does not exist independently of the present; it is drawn into the present and comes alive at the moment of speaking, activated by the memory of the speaker and the participation of the audience. In epic storytelling, then, the epic event and the speech-event of the performance become in a real sense a unity.

Recreating the past, reviving the crucial events of the epic world as models for the present may be the concern of any tradition of epic poetry, but the Homeric tradition appears to go one step beyond such an unreflective immediacy. What is recreated in the Homeric performance may be a very vivid affair, but the Homeric representation does not pretend to be a mere replica of the original event. In fact, as I will argue, the implicit poetics of the Homeric tradition reveal that the “true” poetic version of the epic events is better than the real thing: besides the urge to create the presence and nearness of the epic events, Homeric epic, I will suggest, is also concerned with distance and the advantages that it brings. In terms of time, this means that not only is the past turned into the present (as in the case of medieval Romance epic such as Roland) but also is the present turned into a future, a future from which the epic event is perceived with the knowledge and understanding of the present. The epic event in its Homeric representation, then, is both close and distant, both here-and-now and “beyond.” And the mutual expectancy of the near and the far can be gauged from the degree to which linguistic signs of either one presuppose one another.

Evidence and Interpretation in Homeric Discourse

Two linguistic signs of “nearness” play a role in the present argument: the particle ἄρα and the verb μέλλειν. These two elements have a strong semantic affinity to each other. They may be characterized, in their Homeric use, as markers of visual evidence in the here and now of the speaker; more precisely, they mark the interpretation of such visual evidence. This interpretation turns the visual evidence into a sign that points to a previous experience or perception in the past which in its turn transforms the experience or perception in the present into a re-experience, the interpretation and understanding of the past in the present. The best way to introduce this “evidential semantics” is to look at how ἄρα and μέλλειν are used by speakers within the epic tale, as they react, understand, and verbalize their experiences in speech that reveals the implicit poetics of the Iliad.

Consider first the following passage as an illustration of the use of ἄρα and the mental disposition that it reflects: [10]

ὢ πόποι ἦ μέγα θαῦμα τόδ᾿ ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρῶμαι·
ἔγχος μὲν τόδε κεῖται ἐπὶ χθονός, οὐδέ τι φῶτα
λεύσσω, τῷ ἐφέηκα κατακτάμεναι μενεαίνων.
ἦ ῥα καὶ Αἰνείας φίλος ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσιν
ἦεν· ἀτάρ μιν ἔφην μὰψ αὔτως εὐχετάασθαι.

Iliad XX 344–348

Good heavens, this here is a big miracle that I see with my own eyes.
This is his spear lying on the ground, but the man himself
I don’t see, whom I was throwing myself at in my killing frenzy.
So in fact Aineias too was then dear to the immortal gods.
But I said that his boasts were vain.

This is Achilles speaking. Somewhat earlier in the narrative he has met with Aineias on the battlefield and they have exchanged a series of insults, boasts, and claims about their ancestry and genealogy. When Achilles is at the point of killing Aineias, Poseidon intervenes (XX 291); he puts a cloud before Achilles’ eyes (XX 321), drops Aineias’s spear before Achilles’ feet (XX 324), and lifts Aineias from the scene (XX 325). When the cloud is dispersed and Achilles regains his vision and consciousness (XX 341), he begins to verbalize what is going on in his mind, characterizing what he sees as a “big miracle” (μέγα θαῦμα) that is marked for proximal deixis (τόδε). The verb he uses (ὁρῶμαι) is a verb in the middle voice, which means that Achilles is not a detached observer of an external “fact,” but that he is part of what he sees—in other words, the miracle takes place in his mind no less than in reality. The miracle, of course, is the spear-without-warrior that is lying there. In Achilles’ mind this spear acquires the status of a sign pointing to the past and leading to a correction of an opinion which he held in the past: now he understands that Aineias’s boasts and claims were not in vain and that Aineias and his race are in fact under the protection of the gods.

For the moment we note that the ἄρα-statement with which Achilles verbalizes his conclusion has past tense marking (ἦεν: “So Aineias, too, was loved by the immortal gods”). This past tense, however, is quite different from our notion of past tense discussed above: the “past” here is not an event located prior to the present, a “was” that excludes “is.” Rather, this past is a past consciousness that is recognized as past but that still comes into the present. This is a past that is not separated from the present but that includes it; it owes its very existence to Achilles’ sensory, mental, and verbal activity in the present. Achilles’ mental situation may serve as a model for the poetics of the Homeric tradition, but before we enter that topic, let us first turn to the second linguistic sign to be discussed, the verb μέλλειν.

This verb is commonly seen as an auxiliary of future tense, a characterization that does not quite capture the meaning of this element in Homer. Homeric μέλλειν, as Louis Basset has argued, may be conveniently dubbed a “probability verb”: an instance of μέλλειν with an infinitive X has as value: “it is highly probable that X,” “tout porte à conclure que X.” [12] The “tout,” we may observe, is in practice physical evidence observed by a speaker, so that the value of μέλλειν lies in the semantic sphere of the evidential particle ἄρα that we just discussed. [13] Consider the following example:

ἐξ αὖ νῦν ἔφυγες θάνατον κύον· ἦ τέ τοι ἄγχι
ἦλθε κακόν· νῦν αὖτέ σ᾿ ἐρύσατο Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων
ᾧ μέλλεις εὔχεσθαι ἰὼν ἐς δοῦπον ἀκόντων.

Iliad XI 362–364

Again you’ve now escaped death, dog. Yes, and the evil came
very close to you. But now again Phoibos Apollo has saved you,
he to whom you must be praying when you go into the thunder of spears thrown.

This situation is not very different from that in the previous extract. Diomedes came close to killing Hektor and concludes from Hektor’s escape that his intended victim must be protected by Apollo (ᾧ μέλλεις εὔχεσθαι, “[Apollo], to whom you must be praying”), who has saved him once more. We see again that there is an interpretation of speaker’s immediate surroundings, which creates a “fact” in the mind of the speaker. In this case the fact does not involve the past; it pertains to the present; both μέλλειν itself and the infinitive it governs have present tense marking. [
14] But let us now look at the next example:

ἆ δειλοὶ Δαναῶν ἡγήτορες ἠδὲ μέδοντες
ὣς ἄρ᾿ ἐμέλλετε τῆλε φίλων καὶ πατρίδος αἴης
ἄσειν ἐν Τροίῃ ταχέας κύνας ἀργέτι δημῷ.

Iliad XI 816–818

Ah, you poor leaders and rulers of the Danaans.
So in this way, , you were going, far from your friends and your fatherland,
to glut the swift dogs of Troy with your shining fat.

In the sequence of events leading up to these words, Patroklos has left the tent of Nestor, who has given him the advice to enter the battle as a substitute for Achilles himself. On his way back to Achilles he meets the badly wounded Eurypylos. He takes pity on the wounded man in an exclamation that is a striking co-occurrence of tenses. First we note that the complement of μέλλειν, the infinitive ἄσειν (‘to glut’) is not present tense, as in the previous extract, but future. Second, unlike the earlier example, μέλλειν itself as used in the extract has not present but past tense. And thirdly, it co-occurs with ἄρα. Since ἄρα applies to the immediate here and now, we have past, present, and future coming together in one utterance.

Let us first observe that Patroklos’s exclamation is a speech-act that is uttered in a concrete situation, a physical here-and-now. He sees the wounded man before his eyes, and “points” to him verbally with the deictic element ὣς (“in this way”). But with this adverbial demonstrative pronoun Patroklos does much more than merely pointing in the present. For that immediate deictic act he would have had to use οὕτως, as we saw in the previous chapter. In using ὥς, the deictic pronoun of the far, Patroklos links the present with the past, since the pronoun not merely points at Eurypylos and the way in which he is suffering in the present; it presents that suffering as a sign that points to the past. In seeing Eurypylos, Patroklos constructs the past in his mind: a past consciousness that is, again, crucially different from his perceiving and verbalizing consciousness in the present, by its ignorance, as opposed to his own understanding in the present. Now has become clear, in the mind of Patroklos, who will soon die himself, what the Greeks marching to Troy did not know: their corpses were going to feed the dogs of Troy. Again, just as in the case of Achilles and the spear of Aineias, we see that the past comes into being prompted by visual evidence in the present. And again, this is not a past that excludes the present; this is a past that merges with the present and that is constructed to verbalize and organize conscious experience in the present.

So far in the discussion Patroklos’s exclamation is not very different from Achilles’ words upon seeing the spear of Aineias: a verb with past tense marking is used in combination with ἄρα to mark the duality as well as the unity of a past and a present consciousness. But Patroklos’s exclamation is more complex, for the infinitive complement of μέλλειν is a future (ἄσειν, ‘to glut,’ fut.). The future character of the demise of the Greeks is, of course, intimately connected with the contrast between understanding and ignorance: the Greeks did not know, while Patroklos now knows, what the consequences would be of the campaign against Troy. Yet this same contrast in knowledge makes this future tense marking very different from an abstract temporal relation such as “future in the past.” The future which Patroklos knows and which the Greek leaders in the past did not know is in fact nothing other than the present moment of Patroklos’s speech. Patroklos’s present not only gives him information about the past; more importantly, it makes him conscious of that past.

In Patroklos’s discourse, then, the past comes alive in the present, whereas the present becomes a future from which the past that is now present is being seen. Insofar as the past intrudes into the present, the speech event of the present and the event of the past form a unity; but insofar as the present is conceived of as a future, the two consciousnesses form a duality, on the basis of a crucial difference in knowledge. It is this difference that defines the “truth” of Patroklos’s statement, not as a referential relation between sign and referent, a word and its object, but as the verbalization of a consciousness that spans past and present.

Epic Discourse as Recognition

On a more general note, and apart from poetic irony, we may observe that the discourse of the narrator of the Iliad (the role of “Homer” in the performance) resembles the speech of Patroklos and Achilles in that memory and perception, past and present merge, but do not form a complete unity. [19] A certain distance remains, in the form of an awareness that the experience that underlies the verbalization in the present, the event created in the performance, is a reexperience of the original event, a re-living of the past, armed with the understanding of the present. And as a reexperience, the epic tale is also a repetition. We touch here upon the ritual aspects of performance as the discourse of what has been called re-cognition, [20] or as restored, “twice behaved” behavior. [21] Unlike written fiction, the activity of the performer does not draw the audience into the past; rather, the past is, conversely, drawn into the present through the nonfictional activity of the performer. [22] However, it never fills the present entirely; just as in other rituals and performances, such as theater, the performer and his public remain aware of a distance between themselves and the event, no matter how vividly it is represented or with how much abandonment one participates in it. [23] A striking case of this co-occurrence of immediacy and displacement, of the near and the far, is the description of the death of the speaker of the previous extract, Patroklos:

ἔνθ᾿ ἄρα τοι Πάτροκλε φάνη βιότοιο τελευτή·
ἤντετο γάρ τοι Φοῖβος ἐνὶ κρατερῇ ὑσμίνῃ
δεινός· ὁ μὲν τὸν ἰόντα κατὰ κλόνον οὐκ ἐνόησεν,
ἠέρι γὰρ πολλῇ κεκαλυμμένος ἀντεβόλησε·
στῆ δ᾿ ὄπιθεν, πλῆξεν δὲ μετάφρενον εὐρέε τ᾿ ὤμω
χειρὶ καταπρηνεῖ, στρεφεδίνηθεν δέ οἱ ὄσσε.

Iliad XVI 787–792

So, there then, Patroklos, the end of your life appeared.
For Phoebos came against you in the strong battle,
terrible. And he did not see him as he was moving through the mêlée.
For covered in much mist he came in against him, and he stood behind him, and struck his back and broad shoulders
with a flat stroke of the hand, and his eyes spun.

The narrator directly addresses a major character from the epic tale; [
24] but he does not use present tense. He does not address Patroklos as if the latter is involved in the action itself at the moment of speaking. It is as if the poet is watching a movie, together with the character, who is both “near,” in the cinema, and “distant,” in the movie. But the very presence of the character in our here and now turns the narrative into “truth,” a reexperience enriched by an understanding that was not available in the original experience. Thus the poet can announce the scene as the βιότοιο τελευτή, “the end of your life,” and add, in a series of phrases marked by the explanatory particle γάρ, that the victim, who has now become a third grammatical person, “has not perceived” (οὐκ ἐνόησεν) how the dreadful god appeared. [25] The recognition in the present, in fact, gives the narrative its significance, and whereas other traditions may stage their performers as eyewitnesses, who verbalize what they see, in Homeric epic the performer is more like one who understands what he remembers, as a trustworthy interpreter, at the same time a proud master of truth and a humble servant of the Muses.

Narrative without Tense

The fact that not all the meaning of the epic tale derives from the present discourse is also important for an account of tense and time in epic. Earlier I suggested that our usual conception of tense may be inappropriate for an account of time in Homer. If we now realize that epic discourse in the present has not so much the epic events themselves as referent as it is the actualization in the here and now of previous epic discourses, it becomes clear that the very foundation of the usual notion of tense, the location in time of the event referred to, has to be reconsidered. What is located in time is not so much the event referred to as the act of verbalization here and now, whereas the epic event itself is not referred to but instantiated, commemorated.

Even though an epic or mythical event is not generic or timeless by itself, its location in time is imprecise; temporal reference is in fact irrelevant for the epic singer, who is not concerned with how many years or centuries ago something happened, but with the fact that it happened, in another time, not now. He is not concerned with excluding an event from the present, but with including his present statement in the accumulated mass of the tradition. He does not deal with what is “distant” for its own sake, referring “objectively” to it, but only insofar as it can be made “near.”

Storytelling in the Future

There is a broad difference, then, in terms of “near” and “far” between the discourse of the epic poet and that of characters: the former is based on a remote original consciousness and is verbalized by an understanding consciousness in the present that is the instantiation of a much larger, generic, collective consciousness. The discourse of characters, on the other hand, is a matter of a particular consciousness that is not concerned with reenacting. Yet in spite of these differences, there is an overlap between the two types of discourse: the narrator may use the same linguistic elements as the characters, and in much the same way. This brings us back to the verb μέλλειν. The following are typical instances of the use of this verb by the epic narrator:

ἔνθ᾿ ἄλλοι Τρῶες τηλεκλειτοί τ᾿ ἐπίκουροι
βουλῇ Πουλυδάμαντος ἀμωμήτοιο πίθοντο·
ἀλλ᾿ οὐχ Ὑρτακίδης ἔθελ᾿ Ἄσιος ὄρχαμος ἀνδρῶν
αὖθι λιπεῖν ἵππους τε καὶ ἡνίοχον θεράποντα,
ἀλλὰ σὺν αὐτοῖσιν πέλασεν νήεσσι θοῇσι
νήπιος, οὐδ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἔμελλε κακὰς ὑπὸ κῆρας ἀλύξας
ἵπποισιν καὶ ὄχεσφιν ἀγαλλόμενος παρὰ νηῶν
ἂψ ἀπονοστήσειν προτὶ Ἴλιον ἠνεμόεσσαν·

Iliad XII 108–115

There the other Trojans and their widely renowned allies,
the council of blameless Polydamas they followed.
But not Asios son of Hyrtakos, leader of men: he did not want
to leave his chariot there and his charioteer servant.
No, with horses and all he drew closer to the swift ships,
nēpios : he was not to escape the evil spirits of death,
indulging as he was in his horses and his chariot,
and to return from the ships back again to windy Ilion.

ὣς φάτο λισσόμενος μέγα νήπιος· ἦ γὰρ ἔμελλεν
οἷ αὐτῷ θάνατόν τε κακὸν καὶ κῆρα λιτέσθαι.

Iliad XVI 46–47

So he spoke pleading, greatly nēpios; yes, for
he was begging for ugly death and destruction to himself.

In the first example Asios does not listen to the advice of Polydamas to leave the chariots at the ditch, so that these will not hamper the Trojans in their attack on the Greek camp. This behavior provokes the exclamation νήπιος (commonly translated as “foolish”) on the part of the narrator, a word to which we shall return. The same word is used in the second extract to characterize Patroklos when he begs Achilles to send him into the battle as his substitute, with Achilles’ armor on. The usual explanation of μέλλειν in such cases, as we have seen, is destiny, fate in the past. On the destiny-in-the-past reading, what happens in the two examples is the reference to a future event that is still unknown to the character, a future locked up in the past. To this reading I oppose an account in which this future is the present, the moment of truth and understanding in the performance.

However, this way of talking about a hero’s fate, or his μοῖρα (“portion” or “share”) in Homeric parlance does not seem to be a fruitful way of dealing with the problem; to conceive of the past in terms of events, their causes and their consequences, is what the historian does in dealing with the events located in a past that is excluded from the present, events that exist as “facts” outside his discourse that seeks to explain them. For the epic poet, the situation is quite the reverse. His past does not exist independently from discourse; on the contrary, it exists in and as a consequence of his discourse, the poet’s speech in the present. It is speech in an ever repeated present that results in kleos aphthiton (“imperishable fame”) of the epic events and their participants. Moreover, it is the certainty of the speech of the present that not only guarantees the truth of the epic event, but also confirms it as fated. In fact, as Gregory Nagy has shown, [37] a hero’s μοῖρα, commonly translated as his “fate,” is not easily distinguished from the hero’s tradition, especially in such phrases as κατὰ μοῖραν (“according to destiny,” “according to the tradition”) and ὑπὲρ μοῖραν (“beyond fate,” “in violation of the tradition”). For example, in saving Aineias from a sure death at the hands of Achilles in the example that we discussed earlier, Poseidon saves not only Aineias, but also the tradition of Aineias and therefore he can say that Aineias’s death at this point would have been ὑπὲρ μοῖραν, not according to tradition. [38]

I conclude from this brief discussion of destiny that the fate of a hero is not some kind of fixed future, a future locked up in the past. The destiny of a hero is his tradition: if the memory of the tradition says that so and so happened, then it had to be that way. This implies that the future of an event, instead of being something inherent in that event, is the kleos of that event, its representation in the poetry of the future. Such a future is not a fixed and definite future, consisting of causally generated events; kleos, rather, is the anticipation of a future moment of recognition, a projected now that will become a deictic hic et nunc each time someone performs the song or “recognizes” a sign that points to the epic event. The potential for such moments to be repeated is limitless, so that kleos can be aptly called κλέος ἄφθιτον, a fame that will never die. [39] Epic can represent the act of projecting the future moment of kleos. Here is Hektor caught in that act: [40]

καί ποτέ τις εἴπῃσι καὶ ὀψιγόνων ἀνθρώπων
νηῒ πολυκλήϊδι πλέων ἐπὶ οἴνοπα πόντον·
ἀνδρὸς μὲν τόδε σῆμα πάλαι κατατεθνηῶτος,
ὅν ποτ᾿ ἀριστεύοντα κατέκτανε φαίδιμος Ἕκτωρ.
ὥς ποτέ τις ἐρέει· τὸ δ᾿ ἐμὸν κλέος οὔ ποτ᾿ ὀλεῖται.

Iliad VII 87–91

And some day someone of the late-born men will say,
sailing on a many-benched ship on the wine-colored sea:
This here is the tomb of a man who died long ago,
whom, as he excelled, glorious Hektor killed.”
So someone some day will say. And my fame, it will never perish.

The projected “someday someone will say” (ποτέ τις εἴπῃσι) will turn into a real person confronted in real time with a concrete reality: “this tomb here” (τόδε σῆμα). The victim’s tomb, Hektor thinks, will serve as sign pointing to his own achievements. As a mortal he does not know what will happen in his life, but as a hero he does know that that his life, if successful, will come back to life in the decoding of what is left behind. The future sailor’s speech at the sight of the tomb of Hektor’s victim, as critics have pointed out, bears a close resemblance to the actual sepulchral verse inscriptions from the archaic age, [
41] whose written durability epic may want to appropriate in order to assert its own superior commemorative power. His victim’s armor which Hektor intends to hang in the temple of Apollo as a dedication to the god (VII 82–83) may well have been associated by the audience with dedicatory inscriptions of the following type:

τάσδε γ᾿ Ἀθαναίαι δρα[χμὰ]ς Φανάριστος ἔθε̄κε
Ηέραι τε, hος καὶ κε̃νος ἔχοι κλέϝος ἄπθιτον αἰϝεί

Krissa, SEG 15.351

These spits(?) Phanaristos has set up for Athena
and Hera, in order that that one too has fame imperishable each time anew.

The dedication projects the moment of its reception in reading, the moment of the enactment of its kleos. The object dedicated, durable and also sacred since it now belongs to the gods, will ensure kleos for its dedicator even in the absence of epically recorded achievements: there will always be a new reader of Phanaristos’s act. [

The verb μέλλειν, however, is not used for this instantiation and concretization as such. Instead, its use is reserved for those moments of truthful understanding at which the difference between the event as experienced for the first time and its re-experience during the performance is at its greatest. In this light, let us now return to Asios and Patroklos as they are presented in the examples previously quoted. In both these cases mention is made of the death of the character in question, an event that is as yet future in the scene depicted. Is it the temporal relation between the moment of the character’s ignorance and his future death that is at stake in the semantics of μέλλειν? The argument presented here suggests otherwise.

When we shift from epic events themselves to the memory of epic events, the epic tradition, the contrast is not anymore between the event and its consequences in the future, but between the ignorance of the original experience and the understanding of the present. In fact, it is the poet in the future who has the insight into the true nature of events, not the character himself. This way of understanding the two passages is not only more in line with the semantics of μέλλειν as a marker of evidentiality and interpretation, but also casts new light on another important and structural feature of these and similar passages, the adjective nēpios.


[ back ] 1. For general overviews of this development in folklore studies and anthropology see Bauman and Briggs 1990; Goodwin and Duranti 1992.

[ back ] 2. On “near” and “far,” see also Chapter Five above.

[ back ] 3. Comrie 1985:9; cf. Fleischman 1990:15.

[ back ] 4. Chafe 1994:195–211.

[ back ] 5. Chafe 1994:207–210; 215–219. On direct discourse as a strategy to effect involvement and vividness in conversational narrative, see also Tannen 1989:98–133; on the historical present, see Wolfson 1982, Fleischman 1990:75–81. For more on tense and speech reporting, see Chapters 7–9 below.

[ back ] 6. See Detienne 1967:9–27. On “social memory,” see Fentress and Wickham 1992.

[ back ] 7. See Ford 1992:54–55, 75–76, 125–130; Bakker 1993a:15–18; 1997a:77–79. Chapter Nine below will elaborate on the notion of spectator as role for narrators.

[ back ] 8. Fleischman 1990:273.

[ back ] 9. An old observation, see Monro 1891:65, Chantraine 1953:191.

[ back ] 10. Cf. the earlier discussion in Bakker 1993a:17. On ἄρα in general, see Grimm 1962.

[ back ] 11. Notice also the use of the “proximal” demonstrative τόδε in ll. 344–345, marking objects of perception right before a speaker’s eyes. On deictics, see further Chapter Five above.

[ back ] 12. Basset 1979. The French phrase is from Ruijgh’s review of Basset’s study (1985:327).

[ back ] 13. Note that μέλλειν is frequently used in combination with the “subjective” particle που (e.g. II 116; IX 23 = XIV 69; X 326; XIII 225–226; XVIII 326; XXI 83; XXIV 46), which underlines the necessarily “subjective” nature of this verb: μέλλειν is the verbalization of what is evident to a consciousness.

[ back ] 14. A further deictic feature of Diomedes’ speech, the augment on the aorists ἔ-φυγες and ἔ-ρύσατο, will be discussed in Chapter Seven below.

[ back ] 15. Basset 1979:60–70; XI 817–818: p. 68. See also Ruijgh 1985:324.

[ back ] 16. See e.g. Martin 1989, Crotty 1994. Crotty’s insisting on the importance of commiseration and supplication as performed by characters for Homeric poetics at large is especially relevant for the analysis of Patroklos’s speech presented below.

[ back ] 17. See the discussion of augment in Chapter Seven below.

[ back ] 18. See Nagy 1979:94–117, Crotty 1994:15–16.

[ back ] 19. See also Kahane 1997.

[ back ] 20. See e.g. Hymes 1981, Zumthor 1990:49.

[ back ] 21. See Schechner 1985.

[ back ] 22. For more on this difference between fiction and performance, see Chapter Nine below.

[ back ] 23. As far as the performer is concerned, this point centers on the degree to which the experience of ‘self’ is displaced by other mental states, a question with neurobiological interest; see e.g. d’Aquili et al. 1979.

[ back ] 24. On apostrophes of characters as a regular strategy in other performance traditions, see Martin 1997:147–152. See also the discussion of XIII 602–619 in Chapter Nine below.

[ back ] 25. On the verb noēsai in epic poetics, see further Chapter Eight below; on the augment, see Chapter Seven.

[ back ] 26. Another example is the way (also often involving ἄρα) in which similes are rounded off, characterizing the image as evidence experienced “here and now.”

[ back ] 27. See also Chapter Four above.

[ back ] 28. See Foley’s 1991, 1997 ideas on the tradition as referent (“traditional referentiality”). Communicative aspects of the formula are discussed in Schaefer 1992, 1997. On formulas and “old information,” see also Bakker 1993b.

[ back ] 29. Cf. Chantraine 1958:479; Van Leeuwen 1918:257–258; a useful overview of this older discussion is offered by Basset 1989:11–13. For more bibliography, see Chapter Seven.

[ back ] 30. E.g. Meillet 1937:243; Lehmann 1993:165, 178–180.

[ back ] 31. See Lehmann 1993:176–181.

[ back ] 32. Lehmann 1993:180.

[ back ] 33. Cf. also West 1989.

[ back ] 34. The difference between similes and narratives in terms of discourse mode fits in with the differentiation in terms of performance genre offered by Martin 1997. For more on similes and their deictic and poetic features, see Chapters Seven and Eight below.

[ back ] 35. On the basis of this observation Basset 1989 suggests that the distribution of the augment in Homer can be explained on the basis of Benveniste’s distinction between discours (subjective, evaluative) and récit (the ‘objective’ discourse of the narrator). See further Chapter Seven below, pp. #–#; on discours and récit, see also Chapter Five above, p. #.

[ back ] 36. On this question, see e.g. Schein 1984:62–63, Janko 1992:4–7.

[ back ] 37. Nagy 1979:134–135; 265–268.

[ back ] 38. XX 336. Poseidon’s intervention takes the form of a narrative moment articulated as “And now Aineias would have perished if not Poseidon. . .” (XX 290–291). Last minute rescues against all odds are a favorite way for Homeric narrative to (re-)assert its own tradition; see Bakker 1997a:178–180.

[ back ] 39. On the vegetal imagery of the epithet ἄφθιτον, see Nagy 1979:178–179; Bakker 2002b:24–25.

[ back ] 40. Cf. also III 352–354; VI 357–358, and especially XXII 304–305, ironically, in light of Hektor’s earlier words cited here, setting up Hektor’s valiant defence as kleos for Achilles.

[ back ] 41. E.g. Raubitschek 1967:6–7; Scodel 1992:58–59. On epigrams in Homer, see further Vox 1975 and Elmer 2005.

[ back ] 42. On this force of ἀεί, see Bakker 2002b:19. To be sure, this reading depends on taking αἰϝεί as modifying ἔχοι in the sense of “each time”; if we take it with ἄπθιτον, the adverb acquires the “pre-deictic” indexical sense “always.”

[ back ] 43. Segal 1983; 1994:85–109.

[ back ] 44. Ruijgh 1985:332n11.

[ back ] 45. One might further think of μέλος, ‘song’ as being related as well; there is also the possible connection with Melēsigenēs, the traditional “name” of Homer (see Lesky 1967:4). Parallels for μέλειν in the sense proposed here include the epithet πασιμέλουσα (“in the mind of all people,” xii 70) and Theognis 245–246, in a passage that also involves kleos (245) and the future (251).

[ back ] 46. S. Edmunds 1990.

[ back ] 47. In connection with the relation between νήπιος and poetic truth, note that in Hesiod, Theogony 236 its alleged etymological counterpart (ἤπιος) occurs in combination with qualifications for “truth” for Nereus. Cf. Detienne 1967:29ff. One also wonders whether, by way of folk etymology, a relation between νήπιος and ἔπος (“word,” “poetic speech”) would not be possible in the implicit poetics of the epic tradition, the νήπιος being the “non-poet” par excellence. Note in this connection that Patroklos, the quintessential νήπιος in the Iliad, is characterized by his silence, cf. Kahane 1994:139.

[ back ] 48. E.g. Herodotus. 1.32; Sophocles, Trachiniae. 1–3; Oedipus Tyrannus 1528–1530.