Kleos in a Minor Key: The Homeric Education of a Little Prince

  Petropoulos, J. C. B. 2011. Kleos in a Minor Key: The Homeric Education of a Little Prince. Hellenic Studies Series 45. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Petropoulos.Kleos_in_a_Minor_Key.2011.


Appendix I

Ethnographically speaking, the relation of a rumor to an eyewitness account is not generally straightforward, as J. Vansina observes: “Very often, one can no longer ascertain whether the rumor derives from an eyewitness account or not. In most cases internal evidence itself will have to guide us . . . ” (1985:6). Apart from this uncertainty we must also reckon with the element of exaggeration intrinsic to every rumor. Cf. Vansina’s earlier remark: “Even if the bare facts are true enough, the spectacular parts are always overdone . . . ” (6). On the other hand, Vansina very reasonably underrates the reliability of an eyewitness report as well: “Eyewitness accounts are only partly reliable” (5). As he argues, an eyewitness, when reconstructing an event in his/her telling, is apt to do so in a selective fashion, mentioning only certain elements and supplementing the gaps in his/her perception and memory with details he/she did not actually perceive but which he/she would expect to have seen or heard under the circumstances. In general, recollection forces the eyewitness to impose coherence on his/her narrative by adding the “missing pieces of observation” (5). The expected details and the coherence stem, moreover, from “popular paradigms of recollection” according to L. J. Kirmayer (1996:182). Homer perhaps implies the process of filling gaps with anticipated details when Odysseus extols above all else the inner coherence and arrangement (Odyssey 8.489: ‘λίην γὰρ κατὰ κόσμον Ἀχαιῶν οἶτον ἀείδεις’ [“for you sing of the fate of the Achaians in exceedingly proper order”]) exemplified by the ‘construction’ (cf. Odyssey 8.492–493: ‘ἵππου κόσμον . . . / δουρατέου’ [“the devising of the Wooden Horse”]) of Demodokos’ song. It is obvious that according to Odysseus this coherence betrays the truth-content (or at least the reliability) of the bard’s narrative: ‘ὥς τέ που ἢ αὐτὸς παρεὼν ἢ ἄλλου ἀκούσας’ [“as if somehow you were there yourself or had heard these things from someone else”] (Odyssey 8.491). The handling, κατὰ κόσμον ‘in due or expected sequence’, of the material, as de Jong 2001:214–215 argues ad loc., suggests that Homer already acknowledges the principle of ἐνάργεια ‘vivid evocation’ of later rhetorical theory. Yet, contra de Jong, this passage does not imply that the Odyssey’s audience appreciated the vividness of a narrative at the {145|146} expense of its truthfulness; on the contrary, it suggests that the mandatory vividness—stemming from the internal coherence and overall arrangement typical of eyewitness recollection—vouched for the narrative’s truth. {146|}

Appendix II

“Gentle Father of the People”

For “gentle father of the people” in Odyssey 2.47 (‘πατὴρ δ’ ὣς ἤπιος ἦεν’ [“and (who) was like a gentle father (sc. to you Ithakans)”]) compare Mentor’s identical simile at Odyssey 2.234. Taking as my starting point Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:255 ad Odyssey 5.12 and de Jong 2001:57–58 ad Odyssey 2.234, I note that: i) the underlying image suggests the mutual yet asymmetrical emotional tie between Odysseus and the laos; ii) as social anthropology shows, this image presupposes a non-egalitarian social model; iii) in all three instances, Odyssey 2.47, 234, and 5.12, it is understood that within the setting of his social ‘family’ the ‘father’ exercises just rule. G. Wöhrle observes, in keeping with cross-cultural anthropological data, that intra-family patriarchy reproduces patriarchy outside the family, a condition that gives rise to rigidly hierarchical and occasionally violent power relationships (1999:11–22). Hence, in his view, the basileus is a priori a good father within and beyond his oikos. Indeed, as de Jong 2001:57–58 ad Odyssey 2.234 remarks, Odysseus’ tender paternal relationship with his people will temper our sense of horror before his only act of cruelty, the murder of the suitors. This mass murder—to extrapolate from Wöhrle’s analysis—represents the just punishment by a collective paterfamilias who is gentle in principle yet at the same time inexorable. And to extrapolate further, just as epic ideology accepts that there are just and unjust kings (e.g. Hesiod Works and Days 238–247), so also epic society understands that there are good and bad fathers. In Odyssey 2.46–47 (mentioned above) Telemachos has defensively ‘split’, as M. Klein would argue, the internal object of his ‘father’ and focuses wholly on the (idealized) ‘good father’.

De Jong 2001:49 ad Odyssey 2.47 documents ‘parent and children’ comparisons in the Odyssey (including those involving animals); also see Odyssey 16.442ff. (which de Jong omits in the list of similes just noted). For Penelope as ‘mother’, in miniature, of the people, see Odyssey 18.323ff.; on her kleos, see Chapter 4. {147|}

Appendix III

First, Odysseus recounts and thereby relives his hunting expedition (Odyssey 24.331–335), a typical ‘educational’ ordeal. [6] The wound he suffered in that incident is token number one. Then, moving still farther back in his personal chronology, he recalls, in effect, the first lesson he received from his father in classification and the naming of objects, in this instance various {149|150} trees and rows of vines (Odyssey 24.336–344). These were enclosed by a dry stone (?) wall (ἕρκος) [7] and lay within the large, luxuriant but ‘well-ordered’ orchard (ἀλωή, [8] ὄρχατος [9] ) that formed a part of Laertes’ ‘well-cultivated’ farm (ἀγρός) outside the city. [10] Νοw, 40 or more years on, Odysseus accosts Laertes here and enumerates the orchard’s plants and trees (Odyssey 24.245–247). [11] Like the single scar, these collective tokens are prompts that generate a micro-narrative (to use N. Loraux’s term) about a formative experience from Odysseus’ early years, and his childhood in particular. An inquisitive boy, he had asked his dad about each tree and plant (Odyssey 24.337: ‘ἐγὼ δ’ ᾔτεόν σε ἕκαστα’). [12] Laertes gladly obliged, “identifying” each tree “by species” (Odyssey 24.339: σὺ δ’ ὠνόμασας καὶ ἔειπες ἕκαστα’); and in the course of naming each species Laertes also “told him about each.” [13] The variety of identifiable vegetation, even of the vines, was considerable. [14] This elementary lesson in descriptive taxonomy encapsulates almost emblematically the process by which knowledge is passed on to the next generation in family life and play, among other social activities. The lad is here instructed by his father in “mundane categories,” as Durkheim and Mauss would say. [15] Moreover, as anthropologists have recently argued, plant categories such as those Odysseus learned are, together with animal categories, among the most fundamental and enjoy a logical primacy in many societies. [16] The analepsis ‘flashback’ of Odysseus’ boyhood experience of classification accords with the Telemachy’s general concern with growing up and cognition. {150|151}

In the case of Laertes’ gifts, these symbolized, I propose, the signposts or ὅροι of the king’s domains to which prince Odysseus would one day accede. The symbolism of the ὄρχατος ‘orchard’ may become clearer if we compare the “curious list of impersonal witnesses” to the ephebes’ oath: [19] Ἵστορες [[ο]] θεοὶ Ἄγραυλος, etc., ὅροι τῆς πατρίδος, πυροί / κριθαί, ἄμπελοι ἐλάαι συκαῖ [“Witnesses (sc. are) the gods Agraulos, etc., the boundary markers of the fatherland, the wheat / the barley, the grapevines, the olive trees, the fig trees”]. Plutarch, in the Life of Alcibiades 15.7ff., far from distorting and misinterpreting the wording of the oath, indeed casts light on the ‘patriotic’ and educational symbolism of these landmarks. [20] I quote Plutarch: ὀμνύουσι γὰρ ὅροις χρήσασθαι τῆς Ἀττικῆς πυροῖς, κριθαῖς, ἀμπέλοις, συκαῖς, ἐλαίαις, οἰκείαν ποιεῖσθαι διδασκόμενοι τὴν ἥμερον καὶ καρποφόρον (“for they swear to use [regard] as boundary markers of Attika the wheat, barley, grapevines, fig trees, olive trees and [thus] they learn to treat as their own the cultivated, fruit-bearing land”). The ephebes, in other words, are made to learn that their πατρίς (a natural entity conceptualized in terms of descent from a common bloodline) [21] is coterminous with cultivated land (τὴν ἥμερον: by definition a ‘cultural notion’), which includes, like Laertes’ ὄρχατος, vines (ἄμπελοι) and olive trees (ἐλαῖαι). Ηomer, I suggest, is recounting something more momentous than a boy’s promenade through an orchard with his fond papa. [22] Rather, he shows Odysseus acquiring with the help of ‘names’ a {151|152} taxonomy that is at once mundane and symbolic. [23] This excursion in symbolic territory takes place, appropriately enough, in a ‘well-ordered orchard’, itself a product of culture, in which the boy is being immersed. {152|}


[ back ] 1. Wöhrle 1999:112–113.

[ back ] 2. Wöhrle 1999:116.

[ back ] 3. Wöhrle 1999, esp. 37–48 (paternal dominance, filial resentment, and father-son friction in the Homeric epics).

[ back ] 4. Cf. esp. 24.240. κερτομίοις (of his ἔπεα) = ‘cutting to the quick’ according to Jones 2002:222. For the “touch of scorn” in Telemachos’ preceding words (Odyssey 24.511–512), see Stanford 1958:429 ad loc. and my discussion in Chapter 6 above.

[ back ] 5. Cf. Dawe 1993:854, de Jong 2001:581 and Heubeck 1992:389 ad loc., who however do not correlate the σήματα to educational practice. On the scar as a necessarily ‘public’ badge, see Chapter 5.

[ back ] 6. See again Chapter 5.

[ back ] 7. See Russo, Fernández-Galiano, and Heubeck 1992:387 ad Odyssey 24.224: ἕρκος.

[ back ] 8. Odyssey 24.336: ‘ἐϋκτιμένην κατ’ ἀλωήν’; cf. 24.226; 24.221: ‘πολυκάρπου ἀλωῆς’.

[ back ] 9. Odyssey 24.222: μέγαν ὄρχατον; cf. 24.245. ἀλωή and ὄρχατος are here, it seems, synonymous; ὄρχατος denotes ‘rows’ (of trees, vines, etc.): Russo, Fernández-Galiano, and Heubeck 1992:385 ad Odyssey 24.222.

[ back ] 10. Odyssey 24.205–206: ἀγρὸν . . . / καλὸν Λαέρταο τετύγμενον; cf. 23.139, 359: πολυδένδρεον ἀγρόν.

[ back ] 11. Odyssey 24.338–339: ‘διὰ δ’ αὐτῶν [sc. δενδρέων] / ἱκνεύμεσθα’.

[ back ] 12. According to Dawe 1993:854 ad Odyssey 24.337 the intended sense must be “I asked about each of them” (his italics), echoed by “you named and told me about each” (Odyssey 24.339). I note that in the πεῖρα the mature Odysseus similarly decides to question Laertes point by point: ἦ πρῶτ’ ἐξερέοιτο ἕκαστά τε πειρήσαιτο (Odyssey 24.238).

[ back ] 13. See Russo, Fernández-Galiano, and Heubeck 1992:399 ad Odyssey 24.339: ὠνόμασας; see also n12 above.

[ back ] 14. Hence Odyssey 23.139, 359: πολυδένδρεον ἀγρόν; 24.221: πολυκάρπου ἀλωῆς; 24.344: σταφυλαὶ παντοῖαι; 24.342: διατρύγιος ‘ripening at different times’ (so Russo, Fernández-Galiano, and Heubeck 1992:399 ad Odyssey 24.342), which is elaborated by παντοῖαι (Odyssey 24.344).

[ back ] 15. Durkheim and Mauss 1963.

[ back ] 16. Berlin 1992:342.

[ back ] 17. Russo, Fernández-Galiano, and Heubeck 1992:399 ad Odyssey 24.341: ὀνόμηνας and LfgrE, s.v. ὀνομῆναι (2b) and ὀνομάζω (b2): these verbs connote both naming/listing as well as the promise of making a gift of the items listed/named.

[ back ] 18. Because Dawe 1993:855 ad Odyssey 24.341 overlooks this fact, he is led to puzzle over the use of ὀνόμηνας almost in the sense of ‘to promise’.

[ back ] 19. Tod 1952:204; see also Chapter 6 above.

[ back ] 20. Pace Tod 1952:204.

[ back ] 21. Cf. Hall 2002, esp. 9–10, 18 on ancient Greek ethnic identity.

[ back ] 22. But cf. Dawe 1993:854 ad Odyssey 24.336.

[ back ] 23. Nowadays anthropologists hold that language (i.e. ‘names’, ‘labels’) does not determine the parameters of categories: e.g. Berlin 1992. In the Archaic period, as Siewert 1977: 109 notes, Athenians tended to neglect or ignore the strategic and economic importance of Attica’s mountainous districts and other remoter areas; perhaps this explains Laertes’ focus on an orchard as emblematic of Ithaka’s actual territory.