Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond

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Chapter 1

The Homeric Nightingale and the Poetics of Variation in the Art of a Troubadour.

{|7} Let us begin with a passage from epic, where the epic is representing lyric, not epic. Specifically the lyric form is a song of lament. Penelope is at the moment comparing herself to a nightingale, the typical songbird of lament in ancient Greek traditions, who in a previous life had been a woman who suffered the ultimate grief of ‘inadvertently’ killing her own child:

ὡς δ᾿ ὅτε Πανδαρέου κούρη, χλωρηῒς ἀηδών,
καλὸν ἀείδῃσιν ἔαρος νέον ἱσταμένοιο,
520δενδρέων ἐν πετάλοισι καθεζομένη πυκινοῖσιν,
ἥ τε θαμὰ τρωπῶσα χέει πολυηχέα φωνήν,
παῖδ᾿ ὀλοφυρομένη Ἴτυλον φίλον, ὅν ποτε χαλκῷ
κτεῖνε δι᾿ ἀφραδίας, κοῦρον Ζήθοιο ἄνακτος.

As when the daughter of Pandareos, the nightingale [aēdṓn] in the green [1]
sings beautifully at the onset anew of springtime,
perched in the dense foliage of trees,
and she pours forth, changing it around thick and fast, a voice with many resoundings, {7|8}
lamenting her child, the dear Itylos, [
2] whom once upon a time with weapon of bronze
she killed inadvertently, the son of Zethos the king.

Odyssey xix 518–523

If we apply this line of thinking to the passage about the nightingale, we may ask whether the variant readings poluēkhḗs and poludeukḗs may both be “original,” if indeed they stem ultimately from variant performances in oral poetry. But how do we square variation in performance with variation in text? This question brings me to consider two concepts, mouvance and variance. As we will see, neither of these concepts provides an immediate answer to the question at hand, but together they help shape an ultimate answer.

While there is much to be learned from Cerquiglini’s far-reaching insights concerning the fact of variation in medieval manuscript traditions, it is more useful for now to pursue the implications of Zumthor’s term mouvance. There are two reasons.

Second, mouvance is not just a word coined by Zumthor: we are about to see a word meaning ‘to move’ which actually designates the process of mouvance and which is being used by a given songmaking tradition in referring to its own capacity for variation. Moreover, this word meaning ‘to move’ is used in this given tradition to refer to the song of both the nightingale and the poet.

It should be noted in advance that the tradition in question—even the culture in question—differs is in many ways from that of the ancient Greeks. We must therefore recognize from the start that any parallels we may find between the two traditions about to be compared are merely typological ones, and the implications of such parallelisms will have to be re-examined at length in terms of the available Greek evidence—to which we will turn in the two chapters that follow this one. Still, the poetic and even philological problems that we are about to see are in some respects strikingly similar to those faced by specialists in the ancient Greek Classics.

The key word in question is Provençal mover, the equivalent of French mouvoir and meaning, like the French word, ‘to move’. The textual tradition in question involves the medieval Provençal chansonniers—in this case a sub-set of songs or lyric poems attributed to a twelfth-century troubadour named Jaufré Rudel, prince of Blaye. The edition in question is a 1978 publication by Rupert {11|12} T. Pickens. The methodology that is adopted in this edition, as we will see, is particularly relevant to the questions at hand.

Pickens, as editor of Jaufré Rudel, is candid in telling his readers that he had originally undertaken his project in hopes of improving on an earlier edition of this troubadour by Alfred Jeanroy (1924):

In abandoning one solution, where the goal is to reconstruct a given manuscript tradition back to one textual archetype, following methods established by Karl Lachmann, [
16] this particular editor adopts an alternative solution by invoking the concept of mouvance as formulated by Zumthor, [17] and he explicitly connects “the poetics of mouvance” with the factor of “performance” in oral tradition. [18] More than that, this editor has discovered a {12|13} remarkable detail, to which I have just now drawn attention: that the Provençal word mover in the sense of French mouvoir and English move is actually used in Provençal songmaking to express an idea of mouvance.

In other attested manuscript versions of Song VI of Jaufré Rudel, it is made clear by the composer that the intermediary transmitter of the song, described in the passage just quoted as ‘the one who will learn it from me’, must deliver it unchanged to two noblemen, who must in turn hear it. In version 1a of Song VI, the composition ends as just quoted. In other versions, however, the references to the destined audiences are followed by further references, resulting in a longer song. Of these other available versions, let us take as one example the last eight lines of Song VI version 1 (as distinct from 1a): [20]

As another example, let us take the last eight lines of Song VI version 1b: [

bos es lo vers can no.i falhi,
e tot so que.i es, ben esta,
e sel que de mi l’apenra
gart se no.i falha ni.l pessi ,
qu[e] si l’auzo en Lemozi
e Bertrans e.l coms el Tolza.

bons er lo vers e faran y
calsque motz que hom chantara

The poem is good, since I did not fail in it,
and all there is in it goes well,
and the one who will learn it from me,
let him beware lest he fail in it and break it up,
for thus may they hear it in the Limousin,
both Bertran and the count in the Toulousain.

The poem will be good, and they will make there [the Limousin or the
Toulousain] (for it)
whatever words someone will sing.

As we see from the wording of the variations in Song VI, the chance to move the song is equivalent to the chance to change it into a version different from that of the composer, even though the intermediary must keep the composer’s version the same until it reaches the destined audience. The noblemen who are to be the song’s audience are in turn to become the song’s new performers—and thereby the song’s recomposers.

Just as the nightingale’s song in Song I of Jaufré Rudel is an implicit model for the poet who hears him and makes his own song, so also the poet is the model for the noblemen who in turn hear him and make their own song by performing the song of the poet. To perform the song, however, is to recompose it, to change it, that is, to move it. In this light, mouvance is the same thing as recomposition-in-performance. The nightingale who is “composing” his song in Song I of Jaufré Rudel may serve as the model, the archetype, for the song of the poet, but even the songbird is in fact recomposing his own song by virtue of performing it. So it is apt for the nightingale to move his song, which is “original” for the poet but which is at the same time inherently recurrent and recomposed, much as every new season of spring is {16|17} a joyous event of inherent recurrence and recomposition, even re-creation.

In applying the idea of a “poetics of mouvance” to his edition of the songs of Jaufré Rudel, Pickens confronts a set of problems. Even without a single holograph, to be reconstructed according to the principles of Lachmann, [28] the question remains whether it is possible to explain the variations in Jaufré Rudel’s manuscript tradition simply in terms of the poet’s own lifetime activity: “a stemma,” Pickens explains, “could represent the career of a poet just as easily as a two-hundred-year tradition of manuscript transmission.” [29] It is in any case impossible to exclude the author himself from the process of varying his own composition. [30] Accordingly, in considering all the variations attested in the manuscript tradition of Song V, Pickens is willing for the moment to entertain the idea that all these variations may be “by” Jaufré Rudel; after all, Jaufré “was a troubadour who constantly reworked his material.” [31] Pursuing the question, Pickens concludes after an intensive analysis of the manuscript variations in both Songs I and V of Jaufré Rudel:

It is time to propose a reformulation of the idea of mouvance, supplementing it with the usage of mover as we have seen it operate in a troubadour’s poetics—and in light of one given editor’s detailed and patient work on the texts attributed to Jaufré Rudel. I propose, then, that mouvance is the process of recomposition-in-performance as actually recognized by a living oral tradition, where the recognition implies the paradox of immediate change without ultimate change.

Pickens observes about the patterns of mutation in the lyrics of Jaufré Rudel that “it is impossible to determine at what points his personal interventions ceased and his transmitters continued the process of perfecting beyond his personal intentions.” [60] Which leads to this conclusion: “Given these conditions, under which it is impossible to rediscover Jaufré’s intentions (i.e., the extent of his personal involvement in the creation and regeneration of his works), each manifestation of a song must be considered to be, in its own right, as valid a whole, complete poem as any other versions.” [61] In light of these findings, this editor of medieval texts differs from the approach of previous {25|26} scholars like Gaston Paris and Alfred Jeanroy, whose goal was to recover a given author’s archetypal text. [62] But he also differs from the approach of other editors like Joseph Bédier, whose own findings about textual variation led him to abandon the idea of recovering the archetypal text, but whose goal remained nevertheless the idea of recovering at least the closest thing to an archetype. [63] Pickens offers the following critique:

In all three of these studies just mentioned, as also in the study of troubadour poetry that we had considered in detail earlier, it is the degree of multiformity in the textual tradition that leads to the conclusion that an oral tradition is at work backstage, as it were. In each case, the nature of the given oral tradition may be quite different, but the effect of variation may be strikingly similar. The question arises, then, whether we can find cases of a comparable degree of variation in ancient Greek—or for that matter in Latin—textual traditions.

Let us focus on the subject of variations in the textual traditions of Greek drama and epic. Unfortunately, historical circumstances have prevented our access to an ample range of attested variants in the performance traditions of drama. As for epic, there is relatively more attested evidence, but the history of Homeric transmission is in any case far more complicated than what we have seen so far in the case of medieval traditions. If indeed a multitext format is needed for editing medieval texts like the songs of Jaufré Rudel, then perhaps the need is even greater in the case of ancient Greek drama and epic. But the difficulties are greater as well.

Here we must confront a major intellectual and aesthetic obstacle for Classicists. It is clear to us that the actor in a Sophoclean drama is not another Sophocles, the rhapsode of epic is not another Homer. How, then, could an actor’s so-called “interpolation” or a rhapsode’s “embellishment” be comparable to the ipsissima verba of a Sophocles, of a Homer? Any answer must be formulated in relative terms, and varying degrees of comparison are to be applied. To start at one extreme of the spectrum, we might say that the compositions attributed to, say, Sophocles, are relatively less adaptable to the process of recomposition because the phraseology itself is less capable of variation in the first place. At the other extreme, the compositions attributed to Homer were in the earliest recoverable periods doubtless far more adaptable to {31|32} ongoing recomposition because the phraseology traditionally operated on the very principle of variation. In the later periods of Homeric transmission, however, this adaptability becomes drastically reduced, for reasons that we will later on examine in some detail.

Concentrating on the principle of variation in earlier phases of Homeric transmission, let us return to the passage with which we started this chapter, the Homeric image of the aēdṓn ‘nightingale’ in Odyssey xix (518–523), who is pictured as singing her beautiful song at the onset of yet another new season of springtime (519: ἔαρος νέον ἱσταμένοιο), perched in the dense foliage (520) and pouring forth her voice as she keeps changing it around (521: τρωπῶσα), thick and fast (521: θαμά)—a voice that is described as poluēkhḗs ‘with many resoundings’ (521: πολυηχέα) or, according to the variant reported by Aelian (De natura animalium 5.38), as poludeukḗs (521: πολυδευκέα), the meaning of which word we have not yet examined. Here, then, is Aelian’s report:

Χάρμιδος ἀκούω τοῦ Μασσαλιώτου λέγοντος φιλόμουσον μὲν εἶναι τὴν ἀηδόνα, ἤδη δὲ καὶ φιλόδοξον. ἐν γοῦν ταῖς ἐρημίαις ὅταν ᾄδῃ πρὸς ἑαυτήν, ἁπλοῦν τὸ μέλος καὶ ἄνευ κατασκευῆς τὴν ὄρνιν ᾄδειν· ὅταν δὲ ἁλῷ καὶ τῶν ἀκουόντων μὴ διαμαρτάνῃ, ποικίλα τε ἀναμέλπειν καὶ τακερῶς ἑλίττειν τὸ μέλος. καὶ Ὅμηρος δὲ τοῦτό μοι δοκεῖ ὑπαινίττεσθαι λέγων

[Odyssey xix 518–523, with πολυηχέα at verse 521]

ἤδη μέντοι τινὲς καὶ πολυδευκέα φωνὴν γράφουσι τὴν ποικίλως μεμιμημένην, ὡς τὴν ἀδευκέα τὴν μηδ’ ὅλως ἐς μίμησιν παρατραπεῖσαν.

I hear tell from Charmis of Massalia that the nightingale is a creature who is a lover of the Muses and even a lover of fame. He [= Charmis] goes on to say, in any case, that when she is singing to herself in desolate places, her melody is simple, and that the bird sings without preparation. But when she is captured and has no lack of an audience, he says that she strikes up her melody in a varied [poikíla] way and meltingly changes the song around. And Homer seems to me to be referring to this enigmatically when he says:

[Here Aelian quotes Odyssey xix 518–523, with poluēkhḗs at verse 521] {32|33}

But there are even those who write πολυδευκέα φωνὴν [a voice that is poludeukḗs], that is, “making imitation [mímēsis] in a varied [poikílōs] way,” just as ἀδευκέα [adeukḗs] means “not at all adapted for imitation [mímēsis].”

Aelian De natura animalium 5.38

In considering these two variants poluēkhḗs and poludeukḗs in Odyssey xix (521), I am ready to argue that both are legitimate, both ultimately generated from the multiform performance tradition of Homer. I will also argue that the variant reported by Aelian has an archaic meaning that even he could not fully understand. This meaning, as we will see in the next chapter, captures the very essence of continuity in variation.

‘I hear tell’, says Aelian, ‘from Charmis of Massalia’ (Χάρμιδος ἀκούω τοῦ Μασσαλιώτου λέγοντος…) that the nightingale is a creature that loves the tradition of the Muses: it is philómouson. It also loves the fame that songmaking brings with it: it is philódoxon. When the nightingale sings in the wilderness, as Charmis reports, her song is simple and unvaried; when she sings in captivity, however, she becomes aware that she now has an audience, and so she now shifts to a different style, that is, ποικίλα … ἀναμέλπειν καὶ τακερῶς ἑλίττειν τὸ μέλος ‘she sings in a varied [poikíla] way and meltingly changes the song around’. Then Aelian quotes the passage from the Odyssey, xix 518–521 in the same form that we have in our latter-day editions, featuring poluēkhéa ‘with many resoundings’ as epithet of phōnḗn ‘voice’ at verse 521.

It would seem, at first sight, that the reading poluēkhéa ‘with many resoundings’ has already aptly illustrated the report of Charmis about the more patterned voice of the nightingale who has become aware that she has an audience. Then, if it were an afterthought, Aelian adds at this point the scholarly observation that ‘some even write’ (ἤδη μέντοι τινὲς … γράφουσι) not poluēkhéa but poludeukéa, which he glosses as τὴν ποικίλως μεμιμημένην ‘making imitation [mímēsis] in a varied [poikílōs] way’, and he compares the formation poludeukéa with the negative adeukéa (ἀδευκέα), which he glosses as μηδ᾿ ὅλως παρατραπεῖσαν ἐς μίμησιν ‘not at all adapted for imitation’. The use of the word mímēsis, which can be translated for the moment as {34|35} ‘imitation’, is crucial for the interpretation of the variant reading poludeukéa, as we will see in Chapter 2.

Whether this variant reading is Aelian’s own additional piece of information or, as is more likely, it stems ultimately from Charmis of Massalia, it seems that Aelian’s own interpretation does not do full justice to the archaic meaning of poludeukéa. Aelian is interested mainly in the nightingale’s versatility as an imitator, whereas the epithet poludeukéa draws attention also to the continuity of the singer’s performance, as we will see in the next chapter.

We may be dissatisfied also with other facets of Aelian’s interpretation. He seems to be saying that the expanded variety of the songbird’s repertoire as a musician (philómouson) is a singer’s desire for fame (philódoxon) before an expanded audience, now that she finds herself in captivity. We may note the fact that the nightingale in the ancient Greek songmaking traditions is generically female, singing a song of lament, unlike the male nightingale of the medieval troubadour traditions, which is conventionally singing a love-song. [96] This is not to say that songs of lament and songs of love are incompatible: they are in fact regularly interchangeable in Greek traditions, for example. [97] The point is, rather, that the nightingale sings from the heart, as it were, the afflictions of love or death. As a captive, the nightingale may sing her heart out not only because of any pride in her songmaking virtuosity but also, more basically, because of her sorrows. [98] In light of the {35|36} tragic story underlying the nightingale’s lament in the Greek traditions, we may wish to reinterpret the variety of the songbird’s song not only as a performer’s response to an ever-widening audience but also as a victim’s response to an ever-widening threshold of pain and suffering. We may note in passing the title of the autobiography of the poet Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. [99] (The wording of the title is taken from the exquisite poem “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar [1872–1906], which needs to be read in its own right.)

The continuity is implicit in the variety. We may note the meaning of trōpôsa (τρωπῶσα) in Odyssey xix (521), describing the nightingale as she changes around or literally turns the sound of her beautiful song. Let us recall the song of the henightingale in Song I of Jaufré Rudel, where birdsong serves as model for the song of the poet, and where the model itself is that of recomposition, not just composition, in that even the songbird is in fact recomposing his own song by virtue of performing it. The nightingale moves his song, which as we have seen is inherently both recurrent and recomposed, much as every new season of spring is a joyous event of inherent recurrence and {36|37} recomposition, even re-creation. To the extent that mouvance in the poetics of the troubadour conveys the idea of continuity through variation, we can see in the usage of the word trōpôsa (τρωπῶσα) in Odyssey xix (521), the first attestation of this idea in European traditions.

The usage of the root *trep- as in trōpôsa, with the basic meaning of ‘turn’ or ‘change around’ and with the implied meaning of continuity through variation, lives on in the songmaking traditions of ancient Greece, taking on the form of the noun-derivative trópos. This word refers in practical terms to a given pattern of modulation in the singing voice, corresponding to a given pattern of accordatura or tuning of the accompanying lyre (an ideal example is Pindar Olympian 14.17). More generally and theoretically, trópos is a ‘style’ of melody (“Aristotle” Problems 19.38). Such a ‘style’, in the usage of ancient Greek music theory, “may be determined by any combination of scale-structure, pitch, and melodic shape.” [101] Eventually, trópos becomes a word for ‘style’ in general, especially rhetorical style (Plato Republic 3.400d). In the technical language of rhetoric, it takes on the meaning of ‘trope, figure of speech’, and it is at this stage of semantic development that Greek trópos is borrowed into Latin as tropus (Quintilian Institutio oratoria 8.6). From the high language of the schools, the noun tropus is borrowed into the popular language, which creates on its own a derivative verb *tropāre. This “Vulgar Latin” verb *tropāre is actually attested in late Latin authors as the compound verb contropāre (also adtropāre), [102] and it lived on as an inherited form in the Romance languages or as a borrowed form in the Celtic languages, witness modern French trouver and medieval Irish trop. [103] Most important for now, *tropāre also lived on as the medieval Provençal verb trobar, meaning ‘find, invent’ or ‘compose poetry’, and in the noun-derivative trobador, later spelled as troubadour. This meaning is pertinent, as we shall see, even to the modern French verb trouver, in the everyday sense of ‘find, invent, discover’.

The concept of lyrical dialogues, which we may picture in ancient Greek terms as the mímēsis—let us translate the word for now as ‘imitation’—of speech by way of song, lies at the heart of the medieval troubadour traditions, where one side of a dialogue, the side of the lover, is highlighted as if it were a monologue. As a performance, such a monologue is of course implicitly a dialogue with the audience who is being addressed, as also with the beloved, real or imaginary.

Here the chapter comes to a halt. But the subject of the nightingale’s song, sung again and again in all its varieties through time, from the aoidoí of ancient Greece to the troubadours of medieval Provence, will continue. {38|39}


[ back ] 1. On the identification of the aēdṓn, here apparently personified as Aedon, with what we know as the nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), see Thompson 1936:16–22; cf. Pischinger 1901:15–16 and Schmid 1904:3–4. For the moment, khlōrēḯs (χλωρηΐς) is rendered as ‘in the green’. Cf. Irwin 1974:72–75, who points out that the usage of khlōrēḯs must be related to that of khlōraúkhēn (χλωραύχην), conventionally translated as ‘green-throated’, which serves as epithet of the nightingale in Simonides PMG 586.2 (ἀηδόνες … χλωραύχενες). The visual characteristics of khlōrós, even if we translate it imperfectly as ‘green’, are linked metaphorically with the auditory characteristics of the nightingale’s voice: see ch. 3n1.

[ back ] 2. On the onomatopoeia implicit in the name Itylos = ´Itulos, as derivative of ´Itus, see ch. 2n7. In the ancient Greek lyric traditions, as we will see, this name apparently mimics the birdsong of the nightingale.

[ back ] 3. Cf. Apollodorus 3.14.8. Van der Valk 1949:203 argues that the Odyssey version is an Ionic myth. On the pertinence of the nightingale simile, and of the implied myth of Aedon / Procne, to the situation of Penelope in this narrative context, see Papadopoulou-Belmehdi 1994:135–147; cf. Austin 1975:228–229 and Seaford 1994:56. {Antoninus Liberalis 11 gives a version of the myth of Aedon featuring different names.}

[ back ] 4. Van der Valk p. 83. (The highlighting of “original” is mine.) Van der Valk concedes that the variant πολυδευκέα (poludeukéa) of Odyssey xix 521 is attested not only in Aelian but also in Hesychius, where πολυδευκέα φωνήν is glossed as τὴν πολλοῖς ἐοικυῖαν ‘[the voice] similar to many’ (on the basis of the arguments assembled in ch. 2, we will see that this gloss is perhaps not far off the mark). In Hesychius we also find, besides πολυδευκέα φωνήν, the variant that prevailed in the Homer text as it has come down to us: πολυηχέα φωνήν.

[ back ] 5. Van der Valk 1949:83n4. The highlighting of “original” is mine.

[ back ] 6. Lord 1960:100. The highlighting of “original” (three times) and of “multiform” is mine.

[ back ] 7. Zumthor 1972:73.

[ back ] 8. Zumthor 1972:507: “le caractère de l’oeuvre qui, comme telle, avant l’âge du livre, ressort d’une quasi-abstraction, les textes concrets qui la réalisent présentant, par le jeu des variantes et remaniements, comme une incessante vibration et une instabilité fondamentale.” Cf. Zumthor pp. 43–47, 65–75. See also HQ 69. (In N 1992a:44, another discussion of mouvance is cited, Zumthor 1984:160; this citation should be corrected to 1987:160.) On the notion of a “transitional text,” as applied to the Chanson de Roland in Curschmann 1967, see the critique of Zwettler 1978:21.

[ back ] 9. Zumthor 1987:160-161. For more on mouvance, see HQ 69.

[ back ] 10. Cerquiglini 1989; cf. Vance 1987:xxvi–xxvii.

[ back ] 11. Cerquiglini 1989:111: “Or l’écriture médiévale ne produit pas de variantes, elle est variance.” Cf. Nichols 1990:1, with reference to “new” philology; as he points out at p. 3, “editors of the ‘old’ philological persuasion sought to limit variation, not reproduce it.” In the same volume edited by Nichols, we may note the remarks on Cerquiglini by Fleischman 1990:19 and Bloch 1990:46. Pickens 1994 offers a critique of the “new” philology in medieval studies.

[ back ] 12. See Cerquiglini 1989:120n19, where he distances himself from Zumthor’s idea of mouvance. Other important works on the question of approaches to variation in the editing of texts include McGann 1983 (cf. also 1991) and Gabler 1984 (cf. 1993); see in general Greetham 1993. Thanks to Jenny Wallace for introducing me to the pioneering studies of McGann.

[ back ] 13. Van der Werf 1993:173.

[ back ] 14. Van der Werf 1967:232. There will be more below concerning the convergences as well as divergences between jongleur as “performer” and trouvère as “composer.” For instances where the scribe may have copied from memory what was heard in formal performance—or even in his own informal unit-by-unit reperformance—rather than what was seen in an earlier copy, see van der Werf 1965:65–66. Though there are isolated instances where the musical notation may have been affected by the copyist’s adherence to principles of theory rather than praxis (van der Werf p. 66), it can be said in general that “the chansons of the trouvères originated and circulated in a notationless musical culture in which notation and theory exercised little or no influence” (p. 67, with his highlighting). Surveying the textual variants in the musical notations of medieval French chansons, he notes that “only an infinitesimally small number of them” are mechanical errors of the scribe. This formulation differs from that of earlier editors who “seem to have been guided by the principle that most of the discrepancies in the sources are deteriorations caused by scribal inaccuracy or by inadequacies of the oral tradition” (van der Werf 1965:62).

[ back ] 15. Pickens 1978:40. The highlightings here, to be explained further below, are mine.

[ back ] 16. The case in point is Lachmann’s 1850 work on the manuscript tradition of Lucretius. For a critique of Lachmann’s methodology, see Pasquali 1952:3–12, Timpanaro 1981, Zetzel 1993:101–103; for background, see Reynolds and Wilson 1991:209–211.

[ back ] 17. Pickens 1978:34; also in his article, Pickens 1977, which is actually entitled “Jaufré Rudel et la poétique de la mouvance.”

[ back ] 18. Pickens 1977:323. In this article, written as it is in French, the author puts “performance” in quotation marks in view of the fact that the word is considered by native speakers of French to be a borrowing from English. It goes without saying that Pickens’ reference to Provençal songmaking as oral tradition should not be taken to mean that the Provençal and the ancient Greek poetic traditions are the “same.” On the dangers of trying to universalize the features of oral and written traditions, see PH 35.

[ back ] 19. As edited by Pickens 1978:232; here as elsewhere, I follow closely his translations of Jaufré Rudel. The highlighting of mueva ‘move’ is mine.

[ back ] 20. Pickens 1978:224; I also follow his translation at p. 225.

[ back ] 21. For this interpretation, see Pickens 1978:225n40, which seems preferable to ‘let him beware lest anything changes me’, as Pickens p. 225n40 renders guart si que res no mi cambi at p. 225. On this point, I have benefited from the generous advice of Ursula Dronke and Peter Dronke.

[ back ] 22. Pickens 1978:236; I also follow his translation at p. 237.

[ back ] 23. Pickens 1978:36.

[ back ] 24. Pickens 1978:36. In the Provençal tradition, the nightingale is a he not a she, as in the ancient Greek. Pliny Natural History 11.268 tells us that the female nightingale has the same song repertoire as the male. On the topic of the nightingale in medieval literature in general, see Pfeffer 1985.

[ back ] 25. Pickens 1978:70; I also follow his translation at p. 71.

[ back ] 26. For another attestation of this theme in the troubadour traditions, see for example Bernard de Ventadour, Song 20 verse 4, where the nightingale mou so chan ‘moves his song’.

[ back ] 27. Cf. Loraux 1990:145n138, who points out that the same word suntithénai is used by Thucydides in referring to the process of composing history (1.21.1: ὡς λογογράφοι ξυνέθεσαν; cf. 1.97.2).

[ back ] 28. Pickens 1978:23, with references to studies arguing for such a hypothetical holograph.

[ back ] 29. Pickens 1978:23.

[ back ] 30. Pickens 1978:24.

[ back ] 31. Pickens 1978:32. Pickens at p. 26 sets up a useful distinction between palaeographically significant or non-significant variants, while all along insisting that “no variant is poetically non-significant.”

[ back ] 32. Pickens 1978:32–33.

[ back ] 33. Pickens 1978:34.

[ back ] 34. Lucas 1965:701, quoted by Pickens 1978:34–35: “Toutefois, une chanson de trouvère n’est pas qu’un document historique; et le trouvère, bien qu’il ait joué le rôle prépondérant dans sa création, n’a pas été seul à contribuer. Telle chanson, “trouvée” par tel ou tel poète, mais qui a eu du succès, qui a été chantée, modifiée, améliorée parfois, par des douzaines de confrères et d’amateurs, avant d’être incorporée dans la tradition des chansonniers—et encore après, sans doute—est, en un sens très réel, une oeuvre de collaboration.” The highlighting here is mine. This formulation by Lucas is comparable with the term “collaborative interpolation” suggested by Tarrant 1989.

[ back ] 35. Pickens 1978:35.

[ back ] 36. Pickens 1978:35.

[ back ] 37. Pickens 1978:35.

[ back ] 38. Pickens 1978:40. The highlightings here are mine.

[ back ] 39. This discussion has a bearing on the broader question posed by Foucault 1969: “Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur?”

[ back ] 40. PH 339–381, ch. 12: “Authority and Authorship in the Lyric Tradition.” Also pp. 79–80 on the “LMN” principle.

[ back ] 41. To use the wording of Pickens 1978:36.

[ back ] 42. On the term song culture, see Herington 1985:3–5.

[ back ] 43. On the relationship between troubadour = trobador and jongleur = joglar, the remarks of Dronke 1968:20–21 are most helpful. Of special interest is his observation, p. 20, with reference to patterns of social difference between higher-class trobadors and lower-class joglars, that “the joglar tends to adopt a ‘stage-name’, a name that is striking, piquant, witty, or self-mocking: Alegret, Esperdut, Falconet, Brisepot, Mal Quarrel, Quatre-oeufs.” Dronke’s use of the term “stage” here is pertinent to the concept of mimesis as interpreted in ch. 3 and following. The jongleur is represented as a nightingale in the poetry of Elias Cairel, Song 13.49–53 (cf. Pfeffer 1985:110–111).

[ back ] 44. PH 55.

[ back ] 45. Cf. Pickens 1978:103n.

[ back ] 46. As edited by Pickens 1978:102; I also follow his translation at p. 103.

[ back ] 47. I have added the comma before by.

[ back ] 48. Pickens 1978:103 points out that the wording can also be interpreted to mean ‘by it’ that is, by the song; as for the alternative interpretation, ‘by him’, the ‘him’ could be either Hugh or Fillol the “godson.” Pickens p. 103n compares the godfather-godson relationship that is evoked at Song V strophes vii–viii; on the basis of this comparison, we may infer that the ‘godson’, in his role as ‘messenger’ of the song (so Pickens p. 103), is the poetic apprentice. If indeed Fillol is to be the jongleur, whose authorization depends on both the troubadour and the audience, and if indeed Hugh represents an authoritative audience, then the ‘him’ could refer to both.

[ back ] 50. Cf. Pickens 1978:35 (but see n21 above). In a late twelfth-century poem entitled Donnei des Amants, Tristan secretly woos Iseut by imitating birdsong: he ‘disguises his human language’ (humain language deguisa verse 463), ‘like one who had learned to break it up’ (cum cil que l’aprist de pec[e]a 464), and he ‘counterfeits’ a series of songbirds, the first of which is a nightingale (il cuntrefit le russinol 465); hearing Tristan’s sound, Iseut leaves the bed where King Mark is sleeping. Cf. Pfeffer 1985:155.

[ back ] 51. See ch. 8 on Theognis.

[ back ] 52. Rudel Song VI version 1 strophe vii. For this and other examples of the theme of improvement by way of reperformance in a noble context, see Pickens 1978:36.

[ back ] 53. Pickens 1977:330–331.

[ back ] 54. As edited by Pickens 1978:100; I follow his translation at p. 101, except for my substitution of the working translation ‘refract’ in the sense of ‘modulate’.

[ back ] 55. Extended discussion in Pickens 1977:331n20. The idea of ‘breaking’ a song in a positive rather than negative sense is attested in Greek poetry. In the Hesiodic Shield, verse 279, we find the striking expression περὶ δέ σφισιν ἄγνυτο ἠχώ ‘and the echoing sound [ēkhṓ] they made was refracted [= literally ‘broke’] all around them’. Here the voice of a potential solo singer, accompanied by herdsmen’s pipes, has been refracted into the multiple voices of the khorós, that is, of a ‘chorus’ of singers and dancers. Their voices echo the lead tune accompanied by the pipes. Further discussion below, ch. 2n67.

[ back ] 56. Pickens 1977:331n20. See PH 91–103 for a discussion of ancient notions of mode as a system of intervals in pitch and of modulation as a process of switching from one given system to another. Pliny Natural History 10.85 refers to the vox ‘voice’ of the nightingale as modulata ‘modulated’ and varia ‘varied’—qualities that he says become diminished in the birdsong as the summer wears on.

[ back ] 57. As edited by Pickens 1978:148; I also follow his translation at p. 149.

[ back ] 58. Pickens 1978:38.

[ back ] 59. Pickens 1978:36.

[ back ] 60. Pickens 1978:38.

[ back ] 61. Pickens 1978:39.

[ back ] 62. Paris 1893, Jeanroy 1934.

[ back ] 63. Bédier 1928. See the critique by Nichols 1990:5–6; also Cerquiglini 1989:122.

[ back ] 64. Pickens 1978:41.

[ back ] 65. Pickens 1978:42.

[ back ] 66. Pickens 1994:61. Here he refers also to other editorial projects in multitext format that take into account the factor of mouvance, most prominently the complete edition of the fabliaux by Noomen and van der Boogaard 1983 / 1984 / 1986 (with reference to Zumthor at 1983:ix); this format is also used by editors for whom “textual change is regarded as a hindrance to our perception of medieval textuality rather than its essence.” Cerquiglini 1989:112 mentions some of these editors, along with Noomen and van der Boogaard, but he does not stress the differences in their methodologies.

[ back ] 67. A key work on the subject is Duggan 1973.

[ back ] 68. Menéndez Pidal 1960:60–63, the importance of whose discussion is emphasized by Zwettler 1978:207 and Davidson 1985:134.

[ back ] 69. Menéndez Pidal 1960:67–68

[ back ] 70. Zwettler 1978:206. He stresses that scribal mistakes “do not constitute a major source of variation.”

[ back ] 71. Zwettler 1978:189.

[ back ] 72. Davidson 1994:54–72.

[ back ] 73. Davidson 1994:63–64.

[ back ] 74. Davidson 1994:64. On the concepts of “economy” and “formula,” see HQ 16–27.

[ back ] 75. Davidson 1985:139.

[ back ] 76. [J.] Nagy 1986:288, who in turn cites the work of Melia 1975:37 and Slotkin 1977–79:450.

[ back ] 77. West 1973:16, citing Page 1934.

[ back ] 78. West 1973:16.

[ back ] 79. West 1973:16, citing [S.] West 1967. In ch. 3, I propose to re-examine the concept of rhapsōidoí ‘rhapsodes’.

[ back ] 80. West 1973:16.

[ back ] 81. For applications of the term “practical learning,” see Zetzel 1993:111.

[ back ] 82. West 1973:16.

[ back ] 83. West 1973:17.

[ back ] 84. Zetzel 1993.

[ back ] 85. Zetzel 1993:110–111.

[ back ] 86. Zetzel 1993:111.

[ back ] 87. Zetzel 1993:111.

[ back ] 88. Zetzel 1993:111–112.

[ back ] 89. Zetzel 1993:112.

[ back ] 90. In the transmission of the medieval English text known as Cædmon’s Hymn, there is noticeable difference between the Latin and the vernacular environments, as noted by O’Keeffe 1990:46: “when the Hymn travels as ‘gloss’ to the Historia ecclesiastica, the text is subject to little variation, while those records of the Hymn which are integrated in the West Saxon translation of the History show a high degree of freedom in transmission.” In general, we may expect the Latin environment to foster the schoolbook mentality in medieval textual traditions.

[ back ] 91. Van der Valk 1949:82–89.

[ back ] 92. Van der Valk 1949:83. See also p. 8 above for a further statement about the “original” reading.

[ back ] 93. Van der Valk 1949:83.

[ back ] 94. On the idiom ἀκούειν + genitive of name X + λέγοντος, see Schenkeveld 1992:132, context type iii: “the hearer himself read, or listened to a public reading by his slave, from a text written by X.” At p. 133, Schenkeveld cites Aelian De natura animalium 7.7: Ἀριστοτέλους ἀκούω λέγοντος ὅτι ἄρα γέρανοι ‘I hear tell from Aristotle that the cranes …’.

[ back ] 95. More on Aristarchus and the Marseille “edition” of Homer in ch. 5.

[ back ] 96. I recall the viva voce remark made by Nicole Loraux (7 January 1994) when she first heard my arguments about Aelian’s interpretation of the Homeric nightingale: Aelian forgets that the nightingale is a lamenting woman. In other words, he forgets about the metaphorical world that constitutes the habitat, as it were, of this Homeric songbird. On the nightingale as a singer of lament (thrênos): Homeric Hymn to Pan 18. On the association of the nightingale with love-songs and even with eroticism in medieval European traditions, see especially Pfeffer 1985 ch. 7, “Sex and the Single Nightingale.”

[ back ] 97. Alexiou 1974:56.

[ back ] 98. Again, the evidence of Greek traditions in the performance of lament shows that the expression of pride in one’s songmaking virtuosity—even the element of intense competition—is not incompatible with the expression of one’s sorrows: see Alexiou 1974:40 (cf. Herzfeld 1993). For a zoömusicological perspective on the competitiveness of the nightingale as singer, see Mâche 1991:156; see also in general his discussion, pp. 155–157, of the musical duel as a functional equivalent of a duet. In the same discussion, he reviews some salient ethnomusicological examples of “duel as duet,” including the sfide traditions of latter-day Sicily, analogous to such stylized amoebaean compositions as Theocritus 5, 8, 9, and so on. When one troubadour competes with another, as when Peire d’Alvernha in Song 28.1–7 challenges Bernard de Ventadour by name (verse 1), the challenge can take the form of a comparison with nightingales: in this case, Bernard is told that the nightingale understands love better than he does (verse 7, melhs s’enten que vos en amor).

[ back ] 99. Angelou 1969. Thanks to Marjorie Garber and Barbara Johnson for their helping me think through the “caged bird” conventions.

[ back ] 100. Morrison 1987:274. In Ovid’s version of the tragic story of Procne, Philomela, and Tereus, Metaphorphoses 6.412–674, the pain felt by Procne—as a woman—is beyond verbal expression: silet: dolor ora repressit ‘she is silent: the pain has repressed word of mouth’ (verse 583). Segal 1994:267 remarks: “what she finds is a tale whose pain lies beyond the power of words.” On the expression of this pain as a text, see ch. 3n25.

[ back ] 101. Barker 1984:199n68. This note by Barker is for me a treasury of relevant information and insights. Also Barker at p. 223n125. Most valuable are his remarks on continuity and music at p. 243.

[ back ] 102. Ernout / Meillet DELL 704.

[ back ] 103. Meyer-Lübke 1935 entry no. 8936 a.

[ back ] 104. Dronke 1977:44.