Tsagalis, Christos. 2012. From Listeners to Viewers: Space in the Iliad. Hellenic Studies Series 53. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_TsagalisC.From_Listeners_to_Viewers.2012.
Chapter 6. The Cognitive Aspect of the Homeric Simile
ἦλθε δ’ ἐπ’ Αἰάντεσσι κιὼν ἀνὰ οὐλαμὸν ἀνδρῶν.
τὼ δὲ κορυσσέσθην, ἅμα δὲ νέφος εἵπετο πεζῶν·
ὡς δ’ ὅτ’ ἀπὸ σκοπιῆς εἶδεν νέφος αἰπόλος ἀνήρ
ἐρχόμενον κατὰ πόντον ὑπὸ Ζεφύροιο ἰωῆς,
τῷ δέ τ’ ἄνευθεν ἐόντι μελάντερον ἠΰτε πίσσα
φαίνετ’ ἰὸν κατὰ πόντον, ἄγει δέ τε λαίλαπα πολλήν,
ῥίγησέν τε ἰδών, ὑπό τε σπέος ἤλασε μῆλα,
τοῖαι ἅμ’ Αἰάντεσσι διοτρεφέων αἰζηῶν
δήϊον ἐς πόλεμον πυκιναὶ κίνυντο φάλαγγες
κυάνεαι, σάκεσίν τε καὶ ἔγχεσι πεφρικυῖαι.
καὶ τοὺς μὲν γήθησεν ἰδὼν κρείων Ἀγαμέμνων,
καί σφεας φωνήσας ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα·
On his way through the thronging men he came to the Aiantes.
These were armed, and about them went a cloud of foot-soldiers.
As from his watching place a goatherd watches a cloud move
on its way over the sea before the drive of the west wind;
far away though he be he watches it, blacker than pitch is,
moving across the sea and piling the storm before it,
and as he sees it he shivers and drives his flocks to a cavern;
so about the two Aiantes moved the battalions,
close-compacted of strong and god-supported young fighters,
black, and jagged with spear and shield, to the terror of battle.
Agamemnon the lord of men was glad when he looked at them,
and he spoke aloud to them and addressed them in winged words.
This extended simile cannot be reduced to a nuclear simile of the type target domain + simile marker + base domain. The split of the simile marker into ὡς δ’ ὅτε and τοῖαι, coupled with two hypothesized domains, a base domain in the first part and a target domain in the second, transforms the epic simile into a bilateral one. The use of multiple images (a goatherd in his lookout, a black cloud over the sea piling a storm around it, the goatherd driving his flock to a cavern), the shifting perspectives (goatherd-cloud-goatherd-cloud), the elliptical nature of the landscapes evoked, the technique of paratactic visual syntax (analogous to the λέξις εἰρομένη), and finally the vividness of the colors (an essential aspect of space),  all suggest that this is a universe of revisited landscapes, comprising multiple memory images stored in the mind, which the narrator and audience know from common experience. This is not only the result of the inbuilt pictureability of the Homeric simile; it also reenacts a mental process of transformational thinking that is typical of oral traditions, where the storyteller’s mind constantly changes visual locations. When he decides to rein in his pictorial overabundance, he returns to his narrative, indicating the change of register to his audience by introducing the target domain. Bilaterality is indeed present, but it transcends the verbal constraints of its native register and amounts to a split between two paths of visual representation, traditionally known as narrative and extended simile.
ἀντικρὺ μεμαώς, ὀλοοίτροχος ὣς ἀπὸ πέτρης,
ὅν τε κατὰ στεφάνης ποταμὸς χειμάρροος ὤσῃ,
ῥήξας ἀσπέτῳ ὄμβρῳ ἀναιδέος ἔχματα πέτρης,
ὕψι δ’ ἀναθρῴσκων πέτεται, κτυπέει δέ θ’ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ
ὕλη· ὃ δ’ ἀσφαλέως θέει ἔμπεδον, ὄφρ’ ἂν ἵκηται
ἰσόπεδον· τότε δ’ οὔ τι κυλίνδεται, ἐσσύμενός περ.
ὣς Ἕκτωρ εἷως μὲν ἀπείλει μέχρι θαλάσσης
ῥέα διελεύσεσθαι κλισίας καὶ νῆας Ἀχαιῶν
κτείνων· ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ πυκινῇς ἐνέκυρσε φάλαγξιν,
στῆ ῥα μάλ’ ἐγχριμφθείς. οἳ δ’ ἀντίοι υἷες Ἀχαιῶν
νύσσοντες ξίφεσίν τε καὶ ἔγχεσιν ἀμφιγύοισιν
ὦσαν ἀπὸ σφείων, ὃ δὲ χασσάμενος πελεμίχθη.
raging straight forward, like a great rolling stone from a rock face
that a river swollen with winter rain has wrenched from its socket
and with immense washing broken the hold of the unwilling rock face;
the springing boulder flies on, and the forest thunders beneath it;
and the stone runs unwavering on a strong course, till it reaches
the flat land, then rolls no longer for all its onrush;
so Hektor for a while threatened lightly to break through
the shelters and ships of the Achaians and reach the water
cutting his way. But when he collided with the dense battalions
he was stopped, hard, beaten in on himself. The sons of the Achaians
against him stabbing at him with swords and leaf-headed spears
thrust him away from them so that he gave ground backward, staggering.
This extended simile is a typical example of how expanding the base domain can create a level of complexity that virtually defies compactness and immediate directionality. The base domain comprises three smaller domains, which are better examined as they come into existence instead of being seen as parts of a coherent whole.
Mapping inconsistency between the target and base domains
καύματος ἔξ, ἀνέμοιο δυσαέος ὀρνυμένοιο,
τοῖος Τυδείδῃ Διομήδεϊ χάλκεος Ἄρης
φαίνεθ’ ὁμοῦ νεφέεσσιν, ἰὼν εἰς οὐρανὸν εὐρύν.
after a day’s heat when the stormy wind uprises,
thus to Tydeus’ son Diomedes Ares the brazen
showed as he went up with the clouds into the wide heaven.
This simile has puzzled interpreters. Its lack of clarity has been effectively summarized by Moulton:
Moulton’s line of argument abides by the interpretive approach he takes in his monograph. Association of images obscures simile-internal inconsistencies. As I have argued, similes operate in visual blocks, on the basis of common mnemonic anchors like spatial references, but as far as their internal consistency is concerned they tend to defy macroscopic connections of the sort Moulton points to. Conversely, it could be plausibly argued that first, it is not only “Diomedes [who] is connected with both (519 and 866),” as Moulton argues, since in the first case it is the two Ajaxes, Odysseus, and Diomedes who are compared to stationary clouds, and second, the wind-cloud simile of 522–527 belongs to the same visual unit as a preceding wind–threshing floor simile (499–505), both of them visualizing the Achaeans’ standing firm against the Trojan onslaught.
πάντῃ τ’ εἰλυφόων ἄνεμος φέρει, οἳ δέ τε θάμνοι
πρόρριζοι πίπτουσιν ἐπειγόμενοι πυρὸς ὁρμῇ,
ὣς ἄρ’ ὑπ’ Ἀτρείδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονι πίπτε κάρηνα
and the roll of the wind carries it everywhere, and bushes
leaning under the force of the fire’s rush tumble uprooted,
so before Atreus’ son Agamemnon went down the high heads
of the running Trojans …
Every interpreter of this simile is vexed by the asymmetrical comparison between the heads of the anticipating base domain and the target domain that follows:  ὡς δ’ ὅτε πῦρ ἀΐδηλον―ὣς … πίπτε κάρηνα / Τρώων φευγόντων· (“As when obliterating fire … so … the high heads / of the running Trojans”). When a listener hears the beginning of the extended simile, he starts to visualize the head of the base domain, the “obliterating fire,” doing something (“coming down on the timbered forest”: ἐν ἀξύλῳ ἐμπέσῃ ὕλῃ). By analogy, he expects the head of the target domain to be mapped onto it—that is, to be doing something similar. Surprisingly enough, and despite the use of the same verbal form that was employed for the head of the base domain (πίπτε κάρηνα / Τρώων φευγόντων), the head of the target domain is different altogether, namely the actual heads (κάρηνα) of the running Trojans instead of Agamemnon’s. The heads of the simile’s two spatial domains, the base domain and the target domain, “should” normally be symmetrical with respect to syntactic position and meaning, being as they are, figuratively speaking, at equal distance from the simile marker. In this case, there is a clear blurring between heads, which unavoidably results in the tempting illusion of fusion between spatial boundaries. Since members of the audience must have readily assumed that Agamemnon, who was emphatically mentioned just before the beginning of the simile (lines 153–154), is to be compared with “obliterating fire,” it is plausible to say that their subsequent confusion may have resulted from the fact that the inconsistency of the two heads has generated the chiastic connection between two nuclear similes included in this multiplied simile:
|Target Domain||Simile Marker||Base Domain|
|(1) Agamemnon is||Like||fire|
|(2) the heads of the Trojans||Like||bushes|
Tagging and annotating narrative space
The entry contains information organized in multiple levels: headword and pronunciation, classification of the word crew according to traditional grammatical categories (noun), and meanings separated by numbers or, when closely related, by letters. Sometimes (though not in this example) the standard American pronunciation and spelling of the entry are given (when different from British English), as well as cross-references to related or contrasted words. Let us now consider a series of extended similes belonging to the same visual unit:
κινήσῃ πυκινὴν νεφέλην στεροπηγερέτα Ζεύς,
ἔκ τ’ ἔφανεν πᾶσαι σκοπιαὶ καὶ πρώονες ἄκροι
καὶ νάπαι, οὐρανόθεν δ’ ἄρ’ ὑπερράγη ἄσπετος αἰθήρ,
ὣς Δαναοὶ νηῶν μὲν ἀπωσάμενοι δήιον πῦρ
τυτθὸν ἀνέπνευσαν· πολέμου δ’ οὐ γίνετ’ ἐρωή·
who gathers the thunderflash stirs the cloud dense upon it,
and all the high places of the hills are clear and the shoulders out-jutting
and the deep ravines, as endless bright air spills from the heavens,
so when the Danaans had beaten from their ships the ravening
fire, they got breath for a little, but there was no check in the fighting.
σίνται, ὕπεκ μήλων αἱρεόμενοι, αἵ τ’ ἐν ὄρεσσιν
ποιμένος ἀφραδίῃσι διέτμαγεν, οἳ δὲ ἰδόντες
αἶψα διαρπάζουσιν ἀνάλκιδα θυμὸν ἐχούσας,
ὣς Δαναοὶ Τρώεσσιν ἐπέχραον· οἳ δὲ φόβοιο
δυσκελάδου μνήσαντο, λάθοντο δὲ θούριδος ἀλκῆς.
catching them out of the flocks, when the sheep separate in the mountains
through the thoughtlessness of the shepherd, and the wolves seeing them
suddenly snatch them away, and they have no heart for fighting;
so the Danaans ravaged the Trojans, and these remembered
the bitter sound of terror, and forgot their furious valour.
αἰθέρος ἐκ δίης, ὅτε τε Ζεὺς λαίλαπα τείνῃ,
ὣς τῶν ἐκ νηῶν γένετο ἰαχή τε φόβος τε,
οὐδὲ κατὰ μοῖραν πέραον πάλιν.
through the bright upper air when Zeus brings on the hurricane,
so rose from beside the ships their outcry, the noise of their terror.
τόφρα μάλ’ ἀμφοτέρων βέλε’ ἥπτετο, πίπτε δὲ λαός·
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ κατ’ ἐνῶπα ἰδὼν Δαναῶν ταχυπώλων
σεῖσ’, ἐπὶ δ’ αὐτὸς ἄϋσε μάλα μέγα, τοῖσι δὲ θυμόν
ἐν στήθεσσιν ἔθελξε, λάθοντο δὲ θούριδος ἀλκῆς.
οἳ δ’ ὥς τ’ ἠὲ βοῶν ἀγέλην ἢ πῶϋ μέγ’ οἰῶν
θῆρε δύω κλονέωσι μελαίνης νυκτὸς ἀμολγῷ
ἐλθόντ’ ἐξαπίνης σημάντορος οὐ παρεόντος,
ὣς ἐφόβηθεν Ἀχαιοὶ ἀνάλκιδες· ἐν γὰρ Ἀπόλλων
ἧκε φόβον, Τρωσὶν δὲ καὶ Ἕκτορι κῦδος ὄπαζεν.
so long the thrown weapons of both took hold, and men dropped under them.
But when he stared straight into the eyes of the fast-mounted Danaans
and shook the aegis, and himself gave a great baying cry, the spirit
inside them was mazed to hear it, they forgot their furious valour.
And they, as when in the dim of black night two wild beasts
stampede a herd of cattle or big flock of sheep, falling
suddenly upon them, when no herdsman is by, the Achaians
fled so in their weakness and terror, since Apollo drove
terror upon them, and gave the glory to the Trojans and Hektor.
Note how the expressions ποιμένος ἀφραδίῃσι (“through the thoughtlessness of the shepherd”; XVI 354) and οἳ δὲ φόβοιο / δυσκελάδου μνήσαντο, λάθοντο δὲ θούριδος ἀλκῆς (“and these remembered / the bitter sound of terror, and forgot their furious valour”; 356–357) represent cross-references to the “visual entries” σημάντορος οὐ παρεόντος (“when no herdsman is by”; XV 325) and τοῖσι δὲ θυμόν / ἐν στήθεσσιν ἔθελξε, λάθοντο δὲ θούριδος ἀλκῆς (“the spirit / inside them was mazed to hear it, they forgot their furious valour”; XV 321–322) in the narrator’s mind.
Reclaiming authority: Space, similes, and the hypertext
Ζεὺς ἐξ οὐρανόθεν, τέρας ἔμμεναι ἢ πολέμοιο
ἢ καὶ χειμῶνος δυσθαλπέος, ὅς ῥά τε ἔργων
ἀνθρώπους ἀνέπαυσεν ἐπὶ χθονί, μῆλα δὲ κήδει,
ὣς ἣ πορφυρέῃ νεφέλῃ πυκάσασα ἓ’ αὐτήν
δύσετ’ Ἀχαιῶν ἔθνος, ἔγειρε δὲ φῶτα ἕκαστον.
rainbow, to be a portent and sign of war, or of wintry
storm, when heat perishes, such storm as stops mortals’
work upon the face of the earth, and afflicts their cattle,
so Athene shrouded in the shimmering cloud about her
merged among the swarming Achaians, and wakened each man.
ὅς τ’ εἶσιν πεδίονδε διὰ νεφέων ἐρεβεννῶν
ἁρπάξων ἢ ἄρν’ ἀμαλὴν ἤ πτῶκα λαγωόν·
ὣς Ἕκτωρ οἴμησε τινάσσων φάσγανον ὀξύ.
who launches himself out of the murk of the clouds in the flat land
to catch away a tender lamb or a shivering hare; so
Hektor made his swoop, swinging his sharp sword …
In both these examples, the narrator aims at limiting his audience’s multiple image-mappings by offering two alternatives for visualizing a rainbow “to be a portent and a sign” and the victims of the attack of an eagle respectively. In the first example, he indicates which of the two alternatives he would prefer them to visualize. By extending only the last of the alternatives (the wintry storm but not the war), he implicitly designates his preference, since it is this alternative that he further develops and furnishes with details, thus reinforcing its vividness and visualization. This technique can also involve visual variants of the head of the simile’s base domain, especially where interchangeability has been conditioned by conventional context, a shared framed of reference for both audience and storyteller. 
παμφαίνονθ’ ὥς τ’ ἀστέρ’ ἐπεσσύμενον πεδίοιο,
ὅς ῥά τ’ ὀπώρης εἶσιν, ἀρίζηλοι δέ οἱ αὐγαί
φαίνονται πολλοῖσι μετ’ ἀστράσι νυκτὸς ἀμολγῷ,
ὅν τε κύν’ Ὠρίωνος ἐπίκλησιν καλέουσιν·
λαμπρότατος μὲν ὅ γ’ ἐστί, κακὸν δέ τε σῆμα τέτυκται,
καί τε φέρει πολλὸν πυρετὸν δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσιν·
ὣς τοῦ χαλκὸς ἔλαμπε περὶ στήθεσσι θέοντος.
as he swept across the flat land in full shining, like that star
which comes on in the autumn and whose conspicuous brightness
far outshines the stars that are numbered in the night’s darkening,
the star they give the name of Orion’s Dog, which is brightest
among the stars, and yet is wrought as a sign of evil
and brings on the great fever for unfortunate mortals.
Such was the flare of the bronze that girt his chest in his running.
In order to limit variation and hypertextual activation of multiple spatial domains, the narrator insists on details that enhance specificity. Achilles is not like a star, but like a specific star that the storyteller presents in detail: it comes out in the autumn; its brightness surpasses all other stars in the darkest part of the night (νυκτὸς ἀμολγῷι);  finally it is a sign of great heat for mortals. Details such as these narrow the hypertextual horizon of image-mappings that the reference to a shining star opens to the audience, who would no doubt have conjured up many different images of a bright star in the night sky. These mental vistas are so familiar and powerful that they would tend to shape the listeners’ perception of the given spatial imagery according to their own store of experiential details. It is exactly the direction of such pictureability that the storyteller intends to place under his control.