González, José M. 2013. The Epic Rhapsode and His Craft: Homeric Performance in a Diachronic Perspective. Hellenic Studies Series 47. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_GonzalezJ.The_Epic_Rhapsode_and_his_Craft.2013.
7. Homer the Rhapsode
7.1 Notional Fixity in Oral Poetry
7.2 Invoking the Muses
485 ὑμεῖς γὰρ θεαί ἐστε πάρεστέ τε ἴστέ τε πάντα,
ἡμεῖς δὲ κλέος οἶον ἀκούομεν οὐδέ τι ἴδμεν·
οἵ τινες ἡγεμόνες Δαναῶν καὶ κοίρανοι ἦσαν·
πληθὺν δ’ οὐκ ἂν ἐγὼ μυθήσομαι οὐδ’ ὀνομήνω,
οὐδ’ εἴ μοι δέκα μὲν γλῶσσαι, δέκα δὲ στόματ’ εἶεν,
490 φωνὴ δ’ ἄρρηκτος, χάλκεον δέ μοι ἦτορ ἐνείη,
εἰ μὴ Ὀλυμπιάδες Μοῦσαι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο
θυγατέρες μνησαίαθ’ ὅσοι ὑπὸ Ἴλιον ἦλθον·
ἀρχοὺς αὖ νηῶν ἐρέω νῆάς τε προπάσας.
Tell me now, you Muses who have Olympian dwellings
485 —for you are goddesses and are present and know all things
but we only hear the report (kléos) and know nothing—
who the leaders and chiefs of the Danaans were.
The multitude I could not tell nor name,
not even if I had ten tongues and ten mouths,
490 an unbreakable voice and a brazen heart within,
unless the Olympian Muses, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus,
recalled all those who came beneath Ilios.
I will tell in turn of all the ships and their leaders.
The interpretive key to this passage is the rhetorical opposition between hearing and seeing: the poet and, by extension, his audience ‘only hear the kléos’, the sung report of divine and heroic deeds which constitutes the very medium of epic poetry (ἔκλυον is built on the zero-grade root of κλέϝος). The Muses, on the other hand, were present as divine eyewitnesses at all the events narrated.  As Benveniste (1969:2.173–174) remarked of a similar case,  the verbs ἴστε and ἴδμεν must be given their full etymological force: not merely ‘to know’, but specifically ‘to see’.  One might object to giving ἴδμεν its full force here and not elsewhere. But the peculiar nature of Homeric poetry readily meets this criticism: the meaning ‘to see’ lies in its diachronic layering and was available to composing bards, especially given the prominence of ‘sight’ in archaic epic poetics.  Hence, the context may always ‘reactivate’ it, bringing it to the hearer’s interpretive awareness. This is the case in this highly marked passage, which self-consciously articulates the epistemology that underlies epic performance: note the πάρεστε, which equates the knowledge of the goddesses not merely with abstract omniscience but, specifically, with that of an eyewitness.  Thus, in κλέος οἶον ἀκούομεν οὐδέ τι ἴδμεν it would be natural for the audience to oppose ἴδμεν not to κλέος (as many do today) but to ἀκούομεν. Hence my contention that ἴδμεν be given its full etymological force.  With the language here one might helpfully compare the encounter of Akhilleus with Aineias at Υ 203–205, which lacks a παρεῖναι to activate the meaning ‘to see’. Aineias does not oppose ‘seeing/knowing’ to ‘hearing’, for there are things that he and Akhilleus do know, and this from hearing. He contrasts, rather, ‘knowing’ with ‘knowing by sight’ (ἴδες at 205 is explicitly qualified by ὄψει). In Β 484–486 the goddesses are able to relate the events to the poet in song because they have seen them; he himself ‘knows nothing’ because he lacks autopsy—and here, as often, we meet the stereotype of the blind bard who is endowed with second-sight.  But the Muses put him in contact with his subject and supernaturally enable a special kind of ‘recollection’:  unerring knowledge of the heroic past; the bard, ‘in turn[,] will tell’ his audience, αὖ … ἐρέω. This infallible power of total recall is designated by the verb μνάομαι and its semantic family (μνῆμα, μιμνῄσκω, etc.). 
ἢ σέ γε Μοῦσ’ ἐδίδαξε, Διὸς πάϊς, ἢ σέ γ’ Ἀπόλλων·
λίην γὰρ κατὰ κόσμον Ἀχαιῶν οἶτον ἀείδεις,
490 ὅσσ’ ἕρξαν τ’ ἔπαθόν τε καὶ ὅσσ’ ἐμόγησαν Ἀχαιοί,
ὥς τέ που ἢ αὐτὸς παρεὼν ἢ ἄλλου ἀκούσας.
ἀλλ’ ἄγε δὴ μετάβηθι καὶ ἵππου κόσμον ἄεισον
δουρατέου, τὸν Ἐπειὸς ἐποίησεν σὺν Ἀθήνῃ,
ὅν ποτ’ ἐς ἀκρόπολιν δόλον ἤγαγε δῖος Ὀδυσσεὺς
495 ἀνδρῶν ἐμπλήσας, οἳ Ἴλιον ἐξαλάπαξαν.
αἴ κεν δή μοι ταῦτα κατὰ μοῖραν καταλέξῃς,
αὐτίκα καὶ πᾶσιν μυθήσομαι ἀνθρώποισιν,
ὡς ἄρα τοι πρόφρων θεὸς ὤπασε θέσπιν ἀοιδήν.
Demodokos, truly I praise  you above all mortals,
whether the Muse, Zeus’ child, taught you or Apollo;
for very well and truly  do you sing of the fate of the Akhaians,
490 all they did and suffered and all the Akhaians toiled at,
as if (it seems) you yourself were present or heard [of it] from another [who was].
But come now, move along and sing the lay  of the horse
of wood that Epeios made with Athena,
which once noble Odysseus led to the citadel, an object of deceit,
495 after he had filled it with warriors who then sacked Ilios.
If you indeed relate to me these things in due measure
at once I will declare to all men
that surely the god has readily bestowed on you divine song.
7.2.1 Efficacious speech
γηρύετ’ ἀμβολάδην, ἐρατὴ δέ οἱ ἕσπετο φωνή,
κραίνων ἀθανάτους τε θεοὺς καὶ γαῖαν ἐρεμνὴν
ὡς τὰ πρῶτα γένοντο καὶ ὡς λάχε μοῖραν ἕκαστος.
and soon, playing the cithara in clear tones 
he was striking up his song,  and lovely followed his voice
as he told authoritatively of the immortal gods and the dark earth,
how they first came to be and how each received his allotted portion.
7.2.2 Quoted speech
7.2.3 The singer, instrument of the Muse
345 αὐτῷ τοι μετόπισθ’ ἄχος ἔσσεται, εἴ κεν ἀοιδὸν
πέφνῃς, ὅς τε θεοῖσι καὶ ἀνθρώποισιν ἀείδω.
αὐτοδίδακτος δ’ εἰμί, θεὸς δέ μοι ἐν φρεσὶν οἴμας
παντοίας ἐνέφυσεν· ἔοικα δέ τοι παραείδειν
ὥς τε θεῷ· τῶ μή με λιλαίεο δειροτομῆσαι.
I implore you, Odysseus; show me regard and mercy.
345 You yourself shall be grieved later if you slay me, a singer
who [ever] sings for [the benefit] of gods and men.
I am self-taught, and the god has implanted in my mind lays
of every sort; I am well suited to sing in your service
as [in the service of] a god; therefore do not be eager to cut my throat.