Calame, Claude. 2009. Poetic and Performative Memory in Ancient Greece: Heroic Reference and Ritual Gestures in Time and Space. Hellenic Studies Series 18. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_CalameC.Poetic_and_Performative_Memory_in_Ancient_Greece.2009.
II. The Succession of Ages and Poetic Pragmatics of Justice: Hesiod’s Narrative of the Five Human Species
1. Object and method: From structural analysis to discursive study
In abandoning the structural paradigm which imposes artificial divisions in order to reconstruct binary oppositions, it is essential to follow carefully the spatial-temporal development of the narrative. Beyond simple recounted time, attention must be turned both to the temporality of the narration which transmits its own rhythm to the succession of ages, and to the time and space of the uttered enunciation, marked by the intervention of the speaker-narrator; in this way, attention will be drawn to the temporal lines which organize the narrative and which give it coherence. Such a perspective is even more important since on the one hand the “myth of the races” shows only a very small part of the principle of explaining structure by genesis, and on the other hand it does not constitute a real genealogical narrative where the final taxonomic order is determined by the progressive engendering of the different entities which compose it. The men of bronze, for example, disappear forever into Hades and assume no function under the sun of the enunciative nûn; they no longer exist at the moment and in the space in which the speaker situates his poetic word.
2. Narrative development: Enunciation and argumentation
2.1. A narrative and poetic prelude
Whatever term one chooses to designate it, the narrative of the five ages is introduced by a brief prelude. Brief though it may be, it calls for a second set of remarks. It divides its enunciative procedures between the address of one character to another character, just as we see in the dialogues of epic poetry, and the address of a poet to his intended audience, just as we find in the different forms of didactic poetry. The appeal to the wishes of the hearer “if you will” (ei ethéleis, line 106), for example, evokes Glaucos’ address to Diomedes in the Iliad, while the performative future implied by the form “I am going to relate,” “I am about to tell the essentials” (ekkoruphóso, line 106) evokes the affirmation of the poet’s voice, in its enunciative authority. At the end of the proem of the Works itself, after calling on the presence and the authority of the Muses who will sing of Zeus, the speaker-narrator strongly affirms the realities of which he plans to speak (ke mythesaímen, line 10) to his interlocutor: “And I, Perses, would tell of true things.” 
2.2. The concern of the beginning: Between Homeric Hymns and historiography
For everywhere, Phoibos, the field of singing is your domain,
both on the islands and the mainland which nurtures heifers.
. . .
Shall I sing how first Leto bore you, a joy to mortals,
as she leaned against Mount Kynthos, on the rocky and sea-girt
island of Delos . . . ? 
The syntactic relation between the question pôs in line 19 and the (hymnic) relative adverbe hôs in line 25 relates the performative future form humnéo (“I am going to sing”) not only to the first verbal form of the narrative (téke, “she will engender”), but also with the temporal referent of origin (prôton, “first of all”) and with its spatial referent (Delos). Thus, mediated by the usual procedure of the hymnic relative and in the form of a rhetorical question, the time of the uttered enunciation (the immediate and intentional future of reciting the poem) and the time of narration come to coincide with the axial moment of time recounted: the spatial-temporal beginning of the biography of the god being sung. The narrative of the Pythian part of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo begins in exactly the same way: the performative question concerning the modalities of praise is answered, in relative form, by the beginning both of the narrative and of the time and space narrated; mediated by a hymnic hôs, pôs s’humnéso (line 207, “how am I going to sing you?”) corresponds to the points of origin both spatial (Olympus in Pieria, line 216) and temporal (prôton, lines 214 and 216) of the founding of the oracle of Delphi by the god Apollo: no longer the moment of the god’s birth, but that of his first contact with men. Several hymnic compositions express in their first lines this same concern of beginning at the beginning, in order to integrate it into the evocatio of the divinity being sung. “I begin to sing of Demeter . . . and her daughter taken by Hades…” chants the bard who begins the recitation of the long Homeric Hymn dedicated to the goddess of Eleusis and to her daughter. And again, the very brief Homeric Hymn 13, also dedicated to Demeter, shows a significant echo between the initial declaration of the bard and the request which concludes the poem: the performative intention of beginning to sing (árkhom’ aeídein, line 1) is answered by the prayer addressed to the goddess to “begin” the song (árkhe aoídes, line 3), while also directing it, a play on the double meaning of árkhein.
and of her daughter, the fair Persephone, I begin to sing.
Hail, O goddess! Keep this city safe, and guide my song. 
The concern of Herodotus the logographer is not very different from that of the Homeric bard, as far as the beginning is concerned. In the very forceful enunciative intervention that concludes the prologue of his Histories, the historian speaker declares that he knows who first (prôton 1.5.3) gave impetus (hupárxanta, from árkhein) to acts of injustice toward the Greeks; this contrasts with the lógos attributed to the Persians who date back to the Trojan wars the beginning (arkhé, 1.5.1) of their animosity toward the Greeks. In this enunciative declaration by Herodotus, a simple article matched with a participial form (tòn hupárxanta, “the initiator”) has replaced the hymnic relative to introduce the subject of the action which is about to be narrated. But just as in the Homeric Hymns, and even if the corresponding spatial referent is suspended for the moment, the three temporal lines which we have already mentioned run through the narrative discourse: the time of the uttered enunciation actualized in the form of the future perfomative probésomai, “I am going to progress”; the time of the narration implied by the mention of the “narrative,” and its progression (es tò próso toû lógou); and finally the time recounted whose origin is given by the start of the reign of Croesus (1.6.1), the steadfast actor of the first narrative of the Histories! From then on, Croesus can appear—“from what we ourselves know” (hemeîs ídmen; 1.6.2) – not only as the ruler of a kingdom bordering the regions of Asia inhabited by the Ionians, the Aeolians, and the Dorians, but also as the first (prôtos) of the barbarians to have subdued (in the bard’s form corresponding to narrative time) some of the Greeks. The reign of the king of Lydia thus constitutes the spatial-temporal arkhé of Hellenic misfortunes. The three temporal and now spatial lines which organize the discursive logic of Herodotus’ Histories are anchored in this unique point of origin. 
2.3. Spatial-temporal structures and logics
Use of the aorist (poíesan, line 110) situates the creation of this first “species” in a general narrative past; it is coupled with a temporal mark which fixes this act at the extreme moment of origin (prótista, line 109). This moment not only coincides with the beginning of the narration, marked by the introductory mén, with its emphatic value so frequent in Homeric poetry; it is also dated, in a way: it is the reign of Kronos. Right from the start, and well before any distinction through sacrificial practices, the difference is set out: the immortal gods who have their home on Olympus are distinct from men who, in their legal determination, can claim Merops, an ancestral figure born of the earth. To this extent, mortal men are the result of a process of successive creations distinct from the process of theogonic generation which caused divinities to appear, even if the affinities of these first humans with gold brings them closer to the gods.  For mortal men, the creative logic of epoíesan substitutes for the theogonic and genealogical egéneto! Mortal men were not engendered, they were created.
Time of narration and recounted time thus coincide once again in the presentation of this species whose own internal temporality merits mention; a particularly long childhood, since it extends to the end of adolescence over a period of a hundred years, followed by an adulthood shortened by the excess, violence, and impiousness which lead these men to disappear quickly. 
This disappearance of the silver species is due to the will of Zeus, the “son of Kronos” (line 138). This geneaological description seems to confirm the fact that between the birth of the men of gold and their reappearance on earth a change has taken place in the temporal theogonical line that organizes the birth of the different gods. From the reign of Kronos, we are now in that of Zeus, and the mention of altars in line 136 perhaps presupposes the institution of sacrifice. However that may be, the men of silver, created by the Olympians and hidden by Earth just like the men of gold, have a second life not on the earth but under it (hupokhthónioi, line 141), as opposed to their predecessors who have become epikhthónioi (line 122), as “guardians” of mortal men. In this localizing, which once again refers to the entire extent of the inhabited earth, the “subterranean” beings share with the gods the quality of “blessed” (mákares in line 241: compare to lines 136 and 139). Without being assimilated to the gods, these men of silver end up having a form of immortality, perhaps corresponding with the common origin indicated by the controversial line 108! As such, they nonetheless enjoy some of the honors which they themselves refused the gods of Olympus. To this extent, they enjoy a status which recalls that which the Odyssey gives, for example, to the Dioscuri: both of them were covered by the nourishing earth, before receiving from Zeus the honor of a subterranean life alternating between life and death. 
The génos of bronze are thus created from ash trees, probably alluding to a (for us) much later legend which has the human race born of these trees, just as other versions of the birth of men have them springing from oak trees. Going beyond what the text of the Works proposes, we can once again try to bring the creation chronology sketched by the narrative of the ages closer to the narrative line which organizes recounted time in the genealogical narrative of the Theogony. We then notice that in the previous summary of the theogenic process which the poet placed in the mouths of the Muses, humanity appears after the birth of Zeus, at the same time as the “generation of powerful Giants.” Also, in the theogonic narrative itself, the ash Nymphs are born at the same moment when the Giants spring fully armed from the earth, fertilized by the blood which sprang from the genitals of Ouranos, castrated by his son Kronos.  Through the Nymphs, the Works’ men of bronze would also be born from the earth, but in a time situated after the end of the reign of Kronos and after the arrival of Zeus, who was thus by implication born (as we have shown) at the end of the time of men of gold!
Because of the warlike violence they used against one another in internal conflicts, the men of bronze disappeared through their own efforts. That is probably the reason why not the least trace of them remains to be attached to a name and to a reputation: they are nónunoi, “without name” (line 154); but, in what is probably an etymological pun, they are also deprived of songs of praise (húmnos) which would perpetuate their memory.  They thus enjoy no form of immortalization and have only an ephemeral existence under the sun. To this extent, one cannot attribute to them any function whatsoever in the Indo-European ideology within the hypothetical synchronic structure which apparently underlies the temporality of the succession of the five ages!
Besides the bard’s regular usage which prolongs the reference to past time in the narrative, the succession order of the family of heroes as related to the génos of bronze is underlined by a temporal subordinate. This utterance recalls the disappearance underground of the men of bronze, while a kaí which means “equally” (Iine 159) underlines the relationship with the two preceding families, in a reprise of line 140. If the place of the clan of heroes within the succession of géne is indicated by its ordinal number (tétarton, “fourth”), its creation by Zeus fits into the reiterative movement, marked by the use of aûtis, (“once again”) and by the use of éti (“still”).
Just as was the case for the men of bronze, it is not Zeus who consummates the disappearance of the generation of heroes, but the activity which they themselves engage in: no longer stásis, but pólemos, no longer the mutual violence of internal conflicts constantly condemned in classical Greece, but outside war carried on in two specific places: seven-gated Thebes in the land of Cadmus, and Troy reached by ship over the great sea gulf. To these two suddenly specifed locales are added two proper names, in contrast to the anonymous destiny of the men of bronze. Presented as the causes of two warlike expeditions, Oedipus and Helen appear rather like synecdoches of these two epic wars narrated in the two great cycles of Homeric poetry.  From now on, time and space are described, and have a more and more precise face.
Is this then a return to the golden age, in a cyclical concept of time relating the destiny of the blessed heroes to the way of life enjoyed by the men of gold? Not entirely, since even if the evocation of the Isles of the Blessed does indeed permit a return to the isotopy of well-being that results from agricultural abundance, there is nonetheless a twofold slide between the golden age and the age of heroes.  A temporal slide first of all, since the abundance of an especially fertile earth refers to the past in the lives of the golden men, whereas it marks the present post-mortem destiny of heroes living on the Isles of the Blessed; a semantic slide also, in that, beyond the ring structure which seems to relate lines 172-173 to lines 117-118 (especially by reiterating the formulaic expression zeídoros ároura), flourishing three times a year has replaced the spontaneous production of the age of gold. If the golden age is traditionally attributed to the utopian reign of Kronos, the other is typical of particularly fertile lands cultivated by mortals, such as Cyrene in Libya. This difference in the absence of cyclic return did not escape Plato himself; in the etymologizing commentary on the Hesiodic narrative which Plato gives in the Cratylus, Socrates relates the family of heroes to the men of gold; but while the latter are sensible beings to the extent that daimones must be compared to daémones, “learned,” the former are héroes because, through eírein, “do say,” they are skillful rhetoricians…. 
By expressing a wish to be excluded from a “now” that coincides simply with the existence of men (ándres, line 175) who belong to the age of iron, the poet imposes his own enunciative temporality on the time of narration and of time recounted. From the grammatical point of view, the axial point of this present time, contrasting with the prótista of line 109, is signified by the connector nûn gàr dé, “because now exactly,” placed in a strong position in line 176.  That is to say that it coincides from now on with the axial point of the time of enunciation (uttered in the poem), a point which itself coincides with the unnamed point in space from which the speaker speaks. This correspondence creates a strong tension, which can already be felt in the introduction of the generation of heroes, between the hic et nunc of enunciation and the prótista at the beginning of the narrative, which marked the axial point of time recounted; this narrative and chronological beginning coincides semantically with the creation of the men of gold, in a space not yet well defined.
Reverence and Indignation, powers that ensure respect and reknown through words, leave mortal men alone with their evils, and with no means of defense, consummating the separation between humans and gods.  The disappearance of the iron species and its destruction by Zeus are simple and implicit consequences of the future conduct of the men of iron.
2.4. Narrative and poetic context
2.5. Enunciative polyphony and the voice of the poet
From that comes the effectiveness of the poetic word, as capable as prophecy of reestablishing order controlled by Zeus, a mediator between díke and bíos, between the balance of justice on the one hand, material and moral prosperity on the other. Ending as it does on a dynamic future, the conclusion of this first major part of the Works, in its putting-into-discourse, once again takes up the temporal movement of the narrative of the five successive species of men. The lógos of the five ages does not close time upon itself; its narrative movement does not close recounted time as a circle. But just as in the other two accounts in the narrative triad, this dynamic temporality arranges the preceding species into a sequence with an argumentative value, a pragmatic line which makes its lesson active in the present of the enunciation and in the space of the city.
3. The hazards of comparison: “comparing the incomparable”?
3.1. Comparatist incursions between Indo-European and Semitic references
3.2. Daniel and the vetero-testamentary dream of Nebuchadnezzar
This enunciative spatial-temporal referencing coincides not only with the end, but also with the beginning, with the central moment of recounted time: the head of the statue is not only the head of the king beset by visions, but it is also the kingdom of gold and consequently the reign of Nebuchadnezzar himself. The successive reigns are henceforth presented in an interpretive and prophetic future which leads them, in a conformity between time of narration and narrated time, to final destruction; a destruction which, with the advent of the kingdom of God on earth, marks the creation of a second axial point. Because of its permanent and terrestrial nature, and also because he who dominates and he who reveals through the mouth of Daniel are one and the same, the narrative time of the reign of “Great God” includes the time of enunciation while at the same time providing its meaning. Thanks to this reversal, the future and divine kingdom of the one God of the Judeans takes the place of the golden age of the present human reign as spatial and temporal point of reference; the different discursive levels and the different spatial-temporal lines of the biblical narrative all converge there.
4. The hic et nunc of a didactic poem