Victim of the Muses: Poet as Scapegoat, Warrior and Hero in Greco-Roman and Indo-European Myth and History

  Compton, Todd M. 2006. Victim of the Muses: Poet as Scapegoat, Warrior and Hero in Greco-Roman and Indo-European Myth and History. Hellenic Studies Series 11. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

Chapter 4. Hipponax: Creating the Pharmakos

Hipponax was a satirist whose abuse was, if anything, even more extreme than that of Archilochus. [2] One poem is a perfect verbal mirroring of physical aggression: “Take my clothes, I’ll punch Bupalus in the eye. For I’m ambidextrous, and I don’t miss when I hit.” [3] As is often the case for blame poets, the curse plays a prominent part in his work:

Leonidas wrote:

However, the view of Hipponax as dispenser of amoral, malevolent abuse should be rejected. Even in Hipponax’s colloquial satire, with all its idiosyncrasies and verbal aggression, there is an undercurrent of ethical judgment. According to Theocritus, if you are a scoundrel, you should avoid his tomb, but if you are honest, you need not fear it. [
6] If this had not been the case, Hughes argues, Callimachus would not have taken Hipponax as a model. [7]

There are frequent references to the pharmakos in Hipponax’s poetry; they are always associated with blame poetry. These show how the poet assimilates his enemies to the pharmakos, and also how he assimilates himself (the two processes are related; the satirist who drives others out of the city may eventually be driven out). [19] The following is the locus classicus for the pharmakos (5–10W/26–30Dg; 6Dg):

There is a persistent association of the blame poet, often himself exiled, with scapegoat phenomena. For instance, Ovid’s Ibis, with its scholia, is a central source for pharmakos data; it is a curse poem Ovid wrote in exile. Phaedrus, the Roman versifier of Aesop, himself punished by Sejanus for his satire, wrote an important fable on a military scapegoat. Aristophanes, with his scholia, is another central source for pharmakos references. He was possibly exiled, certainly subjected to legal persecution. [

Hipponax is our source for the tune played by flutes “when the pharmakoi were being led out” (τοῖς ἐκπεμπομένοις φαρμακοῖς, 152–153W/146Dg).


[ back ] 1. For his poetry, see West1989; for his poetry and testimonia, seeDegani 1983; Gerber 1999b.

[ back ] 2. Cf. Rosen 1988a:296; Burnett 1983:99–100; more generally, Degani 1984:161–226; West 1974:29; Miralles and Pòrtulas 1988. For his blame directed against women, Burnett 1983:100, and see below, this chapter. All translation are by Knox 1946, unless otherwise noted.

[ back ] 3. My translation Fragment 120–121W: λάβετέ μεο ταἰμάτια, κόψω Βουπάλωι τὸν ὀφθαλμόν. / ἀμφιδέξιος γάρ εἰμι κοὐκ ἁμαρτάνω κόπτων.

[ back ] 4. Translation by Burnett 1983:100–101. For authorship of this poem, see above, chapter 3. For the curse in Hipponax, 114aW/133Dg, 128W/126Dg; Rosen 1988a:295; chapter 3 above. Cf. the theme of broken oath in Archilochus fragment 173W, and below, chapters 7 (Simonides) and 9 (Alcaeus). Cf. Masson 1951:435; Burnett 1983:100n15. For the “slavish bread,” we may note the custom, attested by Hipponax himself, of feeding the pharmakos badly: “And in his grip take barley-cakes, dried figs / and cheese, such cheese as scapegoats may feed on” (κἀφῆι παρέξειν ἰσχάδας τε καὶ μᾶζαν / καὶ τυρόν, οἷον ἐσθίουσι φαρμακοί [fragment 8W/28Dg.]) Cf. Bremmer 1983b:305. For the seashore death, a frequent theme in actual curses, Watson 1991:59, cf. 128W/126Dg; 118W E/130Dg; 103W.7/106Dg; 115W/194Dg.

[ back ] 5. The poetic attack on his parents is otherwise unknown.

[ back ] 6. Theocritus Epigram 19 Gow (test. 18Dg).

[ back ] 7. Hughes 1997:205. For a similar ethical view of the satire in Old Comedy, Horace Satires 1.4.1–5.

[ back ] 8. Callimachus Iambs, 203.12; Strabo 14.1.25 (642).

[ back ] 9. Suda, s.v. Hipponax (test. 7Dg): ὑπὸ τῶν τυράννων Ἀθηναγόρα καὶ Κωμᾶ ἐξελαθείς. Cf. Picard 1922:611; Huxley 1966:111; Seibert 1979:284; Knox 1946:xiin3.

[ back ] 10. Cf. fragment 34.36W/24 b.29Dg.

[ back ] 11. “Acro” ad Horace Epodes 6.11ff (test 9bDg), my translation, Hipponax . . . qui poeta erat eloquentissimus, foeda et vitiosa facie. Aelian Historical Miscellanies 10.6 (test. 19aDg), my translation: “They say that Hipponax the poet not only had a little, ugly [aiskhron] body, but he was also thin” (λέγουσι δὲ καὶ Ἱππώνακτα τὸν ποιητὴν οὺ μόνον γενέσθαι μικρὸν τὸ σῶμα καὶ αἰσχρόν, ἀλλὰ καὶ λεπτόν). See also Rosen 1988a and 1988b; Davies 1981.

[ back ] 12. “Acro” ad Horace Epodes 6.11ff (test. 9aDg), my trans.: pro deformitate contemptus est . . . [Bupalus] Hipponactem quendam poetam deformem pro risu pinxit. See below, chapter 11 (Tyrtaeus).

[ back ] 13. See Callimachus fragment 191.1–4 (test 13Dg); Philippus Thessalonicus, in Palatine Anthology 7.405.1–3 (test. 15Dg); Pliny Natural History 36.11 (test. 2Dg); Lucian The Liar 2 (test. 14Dg); “Acro” ad Horace Epodes 6.14 (test. 9Dg, a–e) (Horace describes Hipponax as “acer hostis Bupalo,” “bitter enemy of Bupalus”); Suda s.v. Hipponax (test 7Dg). These can also be found in West 1989:109–110. Cf. Burnett 1983:98. For the theme of hanging, see above, chapter 3 (Archilochus).

[ back ] 14. Destrinxit, ‘unsheathe’, or even ‘injure (by criticism, censure)’ OLD, cf. Ovid Tristia 2.466.

[ back ] 15. Pliny Natural History 36.12 (test. 8Dg = West, test., p. 109), my translation, Hipponacti notabilis foeditas vultus erat; quamobrem imaginem eius lascivia iocosam hi proposuere ridentium circulis. quod Hipponax indignatus destrinxit amaritudinem carminum in tantum ut credatur aliquis ad laqueum eos compulisse.

[ back ] 16. Scholiast on Horace Epodes 6.11ff. (test. 9aDg), my translation: “[Hipponax] . . . who sought to marry the daughter of Bupalus and was despised because of his deformity . . . [Bupalus] painted Hipponax, a certain deformed poet, to get a laugh; because of which, the latter, beside himself with rage, attacked him with such an [abusive] song that he hung himself by a noose” ([Hipponax] qui Bupali filiam nuptum petiit et pro deformitate contemptus est . . . hic [Bupalus] Hipponactem quendam poetam deformem pro risu pinxit; quo ille furore commotus tali eum carmine perculit ut se laqueo suspenderet). Also, “Bupalus the painter exhibited [Hipponax] painted in the Panathenaea so that he might move the people to laughter. He, enraged, so harassed him [Bupalus] with iambs that he put an end to his life by hanging. And he attacked his fatherinlaw with songs, after he was defrauded.” Scholiast on Horaces Epodes 6.11f. (test. 9bDg), my translation: hunc Bupalus pictor in Panathenaeis pictum proposuit ut risum moveret populo. ille iratus iambis eum ita fatigavit ut vitam suspendio finiret. etiam iste socerum suum, postquam se fraudavit, carminibus petiit. See also scholiasts on Ovid Ibis 54 and 521 (Degani test. 11–12a).

[ back ] 17. 1W/17Dg, 15W/18Dg, 95aW/19Dg, 12W/20Dg, 84W/86.18Dg; 120W, cf. Rosen 1988a:292. For Athenis, 70.11W/70.1Dg, cf. Rosen 1988a 294n16, and below, this chapter.

[ back ] 18. Pliny Natural History 36.5.11–13; Pausanias 9.35.6.

[ back ] 19. See chapter 9 (Alcaeus).

[ back ] 20. West translates this “in winter.”

[ back ] 21. I use West’s translation for this line.

[ back ] 22. Translation by Knox, modified, except as noted. For Hipponax and pharmakos, cf. Miralles and Portulas 1988:13–29; Masson 1949; Slings 1987.

[ back ] 23. Ovid Ibis 467 with scholia, see below, this chapter, also chapter 24. For Aristophanes, see chapter 14, [ back ] below. See also chapter 25, on Petronius, an executed satirist who preserves an important pharmakos fragment.

[ back ] 24. “Cooked in a pot,” following West’s egkuthron rather than the received egkhuton (“poured-in,” a cake). Cf. Hesychius s.v. pharmakē. “Pharmakē, the pot [khutra] they prepared for those cleansing the cities” (φαρμακή. ἡ χύτρα, ἣν ἡτοίμαζον τοῖς καθαίρουσι τὰς πόλεις). See Parker 1983:258n8; Degani 1984:269.

[ back ] 25. This is preceded and followed by fragmentary lines.

[ back ] 26. West 1974:145–146. For numerous other possible translations, see Degani 1983 ad loc. and Degani 1984:269–270.

[ back ] 27. Apparently, she wolfs down her food without chewing it, so it has to be cut up in her belly; see Knox 1946:61n3.

[ back ] 28. Translation by Knox; with a slightly different text, West 1974:148. Degani supplies <kakēi> from Mus- [ back ] urus. West notes that “death on the seashore . . . and the mistreatment of the pharmakos are favourite motifs of Hipponax.” On psēphis, cf. Degani 1983:130; 1984:199–202; Bremmer 1983b:301, 316. Some interpret this word as an “evil vote,” not a stoning, but even if this reading were accepted, the “public council” still shows that Hipponax is dealing with the pharmakos, or a comparable phenomenon, here. Slings notes that the sea is “the natural receptacle of filth,” in Bremer et al. 1987:92. Cf. 118eW/130Dg. Hughes argues against a pharmakos interpretation, but the theme of the adverse vote leading to the “evil fate” shows a clear scapegoat context (1991:145). In addition, the pharmakos was sometimes kept at the public expense, and thus the word dēmosios was sometimes applied to the pharmakos—see Scholia on Aristophanes Knights 1136a; and above, chapter 1.

[ back ] 29. Cf. the Sapphic theme of woman as pharmakos, see below chapter 8.

[ back ] 30. See on 115W above.

[ back ] 31. See Degani 1983:168; Wünsch 1912; Faraone 2004.

[ back ] 32. See above chapters 2, 3 (Pindar on Archilochus).

[ back ] 33. See below, chapter 6 (Hesiod).

[ back ] 34. See above chapter 3.

[ back ] 35. See on 115W above, on Hipponax’s death, below, cf. 10W/30Dg.

[ back ] 36. Faraone 2004:245, cf. chapter 9 (Alcaeus and Pittacus, use of word daptō) below.

[ back ] 37. 37W/46Dg, my translation, ἐκέλευε βάλλειν καὶ λεύειν Ἱππώνακτα. Cf. Masson 1949:317; and Masson 1962:127; Hughes 1991:146. Hughes argues that this does not necessarily refer to pharmakos ritual, but could be an example of stoning as mob justice. However, such a reference to stoning in the few existing fragments of a poet who was very interested in the pharmakos strongly suggests that Hipponax was thinking in terms of the pharmakos. Cf. Miralles and Portulas 1983:47, 57.

[ back ] 38. Vox 1977:87–89, argues that the “I” of 41W, καὶ νῦν ἀρειᾶι σύκινόν με ποιῆσαι, is a pharmakos. “And now he threatens to make me a worthless fellow.” Translation by West.

[ back ] 39. Ovid Ibis 523 (test. 12Dg) translation by Knox, modified, “And like he who attacked Athenis in choliambic metre may you perish, hated, by failure of food” (Utque parum stabili qui carmine laesit Athenin, / Invisus pereas deficiente cibo). This is probably a reference to Hipponax, though “Athenin” is a conjecture; “Athenas” is found in the manuscripts, and the scholiasts on this passage did not look to Hipponax as the poet referred to. See Degani 1984:61–62; Rosen 1988a. For the bad food / starvation and the pharmakos, see above; and the poem quoted in the text (5–10W): “such cheese as scapegoats may feed on”; “parched with famine.” Accounts of Hipponax hanging himself are apparently confused scholiastic replications of the deaths of the poet’s victims: Scholia on Ovid Ibis 447 (Degani test. 10a–f). Cf. Scholia on Horace Epode 6.14; Knox 1946:xiii; Rosen 1988a:292. On absurdities in the Hipponactian biographical tradition, see Degani 1984:20–24.

[ back ] 40. See 32W, 36W, cf. 26, 26aW; the themes of miserable poverty and exile are also prominent in Theognis’ poetry, chapter 10; cf. chapters 3 (Archilochus); 6 (Hesiod).

[ back ] 41. E.g. Sappho and her poetic rivals, see chapter 8; Callimachus, see following notes.

[ back ] 42. See chapter 6 (Hesiod); for the riddle contest, chapter 2 (Aesop as riddle warrior); chapter 16, the agōn in the Marysas, Thamyris narratives; chapter 17, agōn section.

[ back ] 43. Suda, s.v. Callimachus, cf. Lefkowitz 1981:117; see also bibliography in Lesky 1966:717n1; Pfeiffer 1968 1.144; Williams 1978: 2. Cameron somewhat unconvincingly argues for no specific persons as Callimachus’ targets (1995:228, 230). Pfeiffer 1949 1:307, ap. fragment 382 (5), concludes, “This name [Apollonius] has neither less nor more authority than the names of the Telchines . . . it is not a Byzantine conjecture, but an ancient grammatical teaching.” For further discussion of Callimachus, see below, app. B.

[ back ] 44. Intentio Ouidii est in hoc opere imitari Callimachum, quia sicut Callimachus fecit invectivam contra imimicum suum et ipsum duxit ad mortem, ita iste … Scholiast on Ovid Ibis, Ellis 1881:43, ms. P, cf. Hendrickson 1925b:111; Elliott 1960:128.

[ back ] 45. Trypanis 1958:104n. See also Ardizzoni 1960; Degani 1984:44–50; Hughes 1997; Edmunds 2001. Like Hipponax, Callimachus turned his attention to the scapegoat phenomenon: Aetia IV fragment 90, with diēgēsis.

[ back ] 46. However, Rosen has argued that there are the elements of a poetic initiation scene in test. 21Dg, with Iambe as inspiring goddess, Rosen 1988d. See also Brown 1988. Certainly, this seems to have a parodic tone, but an underlying seriousness may be present.

[ back ] 47. Thus the following themes are represented in Hipponax’s vita: 4a2. Poor or scanty food is eaten (both by the poet and his victims). This is related to 4a1 and 4b, Beggar, slave. It is possibly a pharmakos theme. 4d, The hero is ugly or deformed. 10a, He is exiled. 11a, He is stoned. 22, He is a blame poet. 22a, He kills through blame. 22a1, His enemies hang themselves. 22e, He uses the curse against his enemies. 23a, Possible consecration of poet (through theophany). 24, He comes into conflict with political leaders.