The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

  Nagy, Gregory. 2013. The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013. Abridged edition 2019.

Hour 17. Looking beyond the cult hero in the Libation Bearers and the Eumenides of Aeschylus

The meaning of tīmē

17§1. The key word for this hour is tīmē, plural tīmai, ‘honor; honor paid to a superhuman force by way of cult’. So far, we have seen situations where cult heroes as well as gods can receive tīmē. But now, as we will see in this hour, tīmē is also demanded by the Furies. The name ‘Furies’ here is a translation of the original Greek Erīnues or Erinyes, the singular form of which is Erīnus or Erinys. We already saw this word Erīnus in a most revealing context when we were reading Iliad IX 571, quoted in Hour 2 Text E. There the mother of Meleagros curses her son for having accidentally killed his maternal uncle, that is, her brother (IX 566-567). In uttering her curse, she beats the ground with downturned hand, and the thumping sound is eerily heard from down below by an Erinys (Erīnus) or ‘Fury’ (IX 568-572). Such an Erinys is a superhuman personification of the vengeful anger stored up in those who have died – and whose death requires vengeance. When someone dies angry, there is unfinished business to be processed after death. The Erinyes or Furies represent that unfinished business. They are the angry spirits of the dead, including dead heroes. [1]

The agenda of Athena

17§2. The program, as it were, of the Oresteia trilogy is to transform the unfinished business of angry dead heroes into the social agenda of the living citizens of Athens. Such a transformation can happen only if the Erinyes or Furies them- {484|485} selves are transformed into Eu-menides, which means ‘they of good intentions’. [2] As we saw in Hour 15§38, the adjective eu-menēs applies to a cult hero who is ‘of good intentions’ toward the worshipper.
17§3. In the Eumenides of Aeschylus, it is the goddess Athena who presides over the transformation of the Erinyes into the Eumenides. And she takes this action as the goddess who represents Athens, a city idealized as the best of all cities in the Eumenides of Aeschylus. Further, in speaking to the Erinyes about their transformation into the Eumenides, Athena promises them that they will receive the kind of honors that heroes receive in hero cult: [3]

Hour 17 Text A

And you [= the Erinyes], if you have a place of honor [tīmē] |855 at the house of Erekhtheus, you will be honored by the processions of men and women and you will have more honor than you would ever have from other mortals. So, do not place on my land whetstones that hone my peoples’ desire for bloodshed, harmful to the insides |860 of young men, making them lose their minds with passionate feelings caused not by wine; [4] and do not turn my people into fighting-cocks, making reckless internecine war [Arēs] for them, so that they kill each other. If there is war [Arēs], let it be with outsiders, and let it keep on happening, |865 since war brings a terrific passion for genuine glory [kleos]; but I say there will be no bird-fights in my dwelling place [oikos]. I make it possible for you to choose to do [drân] good and to be treated [paskhein] well and with genuine honor [tīmē] to share in this land that is most dear [philē] to the gods.
Aeschylus Eumenides 854-869 [5] {485|486}
17§4. In this passage, the Erinyes or Furies are being promised a tīmē, ‘honor’, that is analogous to the tīmē, ‘honor’, received by the cult hero Erekhtheus (line 855). This Erekhtheus is mentioned prominently in Iliad II 547-551 as the primary cult hero of Athens: he is said to be worshipped by the Athenians in a festive setting of seasonally recurring sacrifices. In this same Homeric context, Erekhtheus is described as a prototypical human: he is born of the goddess Earth, and then the goddess Athena literally ‘nurses’ him (II 548 threpse). In his role as son of the Earth and nursling of Athena, Erekhtheus is venerated as a notional prototype of all Athenians. [6] The intimate connection between Athena and Erekhtheus is highlighted also in another Homeric reference, in Odyssey vii 80-81: in that context, this cult hero is described as sharing a dwelling with the goddess Athena herself on the acropolis in Athens. [7]

Pouring libations for cult heroes or for ancestors

17§5. In Text A, we have seen a connection being made between the worshipping of a cult hero like Erekhtheus and the worshipping of the Furies or Erinyes, once they are transformed into the benign Eumenides. More basically, however, the worshipping of heroes in hero cults is connected with the cult of the dead, that is, with ancestor worship. It can even be said that the rituals of hero cult derive, in the long run, from rituals of ancestor worship. [8] A case in point is the practice of making a libation, which is a ritual pouring. [9] I have already referred to such a practice in Hour 8§2, where we considered the vessel known as the hydria, used for the ritual pouring of water to honor cult heroes or ancestors. There existed many different forms of libation in the ancient Greek world, but I focus now on libations offered to cult heroes or to ancestors. When I say ancestors here, I include the immediate dead, by which I mean blood-relatives who died within one’s own lifetime.
17§6. Libations offered to heroes or to the dead in general involved the ritual pouring of water or wine or oil or milk or honey or some combination of these ingredients. [10] Another ingredient was the blood of animal sacrifices, though {486|487} the recipients of blood-libations were mostly cult-heroes, not the “ordinary” dead. [11] Conversely, as we will see in Hour 18, some cult heroes were considered to be incompatible with wine-libations.
17§7. What we see happening in the Libation Bearers of Aeschylus is an example of a libation performed both for an ancestor and for a cult hero. In the passage I am about to quote, Electra is preparing to perform such a libation in honor of her dead father and immediate ancestor, Agamemnon, who as we know from external evidence was worshipped as a cult hero at Mycenae and elsewhere. [12] Electra asks the chorus, who represent the handmaidens working for the rulers of the palace, to teach her the correct way to perform the libation:

Hour 17 Text B

|84 {Electra:} You handmaidens who set our house in order, |85 since you are here at this ritual of supplication as my |86 attendants, become my partners by giving advice about these things here: |87 what should I say while I pour [kheîn] these libations [khoai] of sorrowful caring? |88 How shall I say words that show good thinking [eu-phrona], how shall I make a prayer [kat-eukhesthai] to my father? |89 Shall I say that I bring these offerings from a woman who is near and dear [philē] to a man who is near and dear [philos], |90 from wife to husband – from my own mother?
Aeschylus Libation Bearers 84-90 [13]
17§8. Here Electra, daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, is attempting to perform a ritual of libation as an act of ancestor worship – which can be equated, as I have argued, with the cult of the dead. In performing this ritual of libation, Electra intends to give worshipful honor to her father Agamemnon, but she is not yet sure about the rules of the ritual. In expressing her desire to perform the libation, she is morally correct, but she does not know how to be {487|488} ritually correct. [14] All she knows is that her mother is not morally correct, since Clytemnestra had actually killed her own husband, Electra’s father.

What stands in the way of a ritually correct libation by Electra

17§9. The libation intended by Electra for Agamemnon could be considered a standard procedure for those engaging in the cult of the dead, that is, in ancestor worship. But Agamemnon is not only an ancestor for Electra. He is also a cult hero in the making. And the destiny of Agamemnon as a cult hero stands in the way of successfully performing a libation in his honor. That is because cult heroes require libations that are different from the kinds of libations offered by ordinary persons to their immediate ancestors. The difference emerges as the handmaidens begin to instruct Electra about the performance of her libation:

Hour 17 Text C

|118 {Electra:} What should I say? Instruct me, inexperienced as I am, and lead me in my thinking.
|119 {Chorus:} – Pray that some superhuman force [daimōn] or some mortal may come to them [= Clytemnestra and Aegisthus] –
|120 {Electra:} As judge [dikastēs] or as bringer of vindication [dikē], do you mean?
|121 {Chorus:} Very simply, just signal that you are acting as one who will kill in repayment for a killing.
|122 {Electra:} And is it ritually correct [eu-sebê] for me, from the standpoint of the gods?
|123 {Chorus:} – Why not? It is an act of repaying bad things with bad things.
|124 {Electra:} … O Hermes of the nether world, summon for me |125 the superhuman forces [daimones] beneath the earth to hear my |126 prayers – forces that watch over my father’s house, |127 and [summon] Earth herself, who gives birth to all things, |128 and, having nurtured them, receives from them the flow that they produce. |129 And, mean- {488|489} while, as I pour [kheîn] these liquids of libation [khernibes] to the dead, |130 I say these things as I call on my father.
Aeschylus Libation Bearers 118-130 [15]
17§10. As we see from this passage as also from other related passages in the Libation Bearers, the ritual actions of Electra are interwoven with her own emotional need to exact vengeance from Clytemnestra and Aegisthus for their murder of her father. [16] And this emotional need for vengeance is a channeling, as it were, of the anger or fury emanating from the restless spirit of her dead father, the hero Agamemnon.
17§11. Such a fury can be pictured as an Erinys that calls for a libation of blood:

Hour 17 Text D

|399 {Electra:} Hear, O Earth, and you forces of the earth below [khthonioi] who have your own honors [tīmai]!
|400 {Chorus:} And it is the customary law [nomos] that drops of blood |401 spilled [kheîn] on the ground demand yet more |402 blood. The devastation [loigos] cries out for the Fury [Erinys], |403 which from those who died [phthinesthai] before brings one disaster [atē] |404 after another disaster [atē].
Aeschylus Libation Bearers 399-404 [17]
17§12. Again we see a ‘Fury’ or Erinys as the personification of the anger stored up inside someone who died angry. The anger is unfinished business that has to get finished off somehow. But the finishing off never seems to happen: it is a seemingly endless chain of evil: what keeps on happening is ‘one disaster [atē] {489|490} after another disaster [atē]’. From here on, the expression I will use in referring to this chain of evil, fueled by an insatiable desire for vengeance, is the spirit of an ongoing vendetta. I will even go so far as to add that such a spirit is the essence of the word ‘Fury’ that I have been using to convey the idea of an Erinys.
17§13. So, the libation that needs to be performed at the tomb of Agamemnon cannot follow the ordinary rules of libation as performed by participants in cults of the dead. In the words of the chorus, as we have just read them, the spirit of the vendetta requires that the spilling of Agamemnon’s blood must lead to the further spilling of blood. In the cult of heroes, such further spilling could be fulfilled by way of blood-libations, where the blood originated from sacrificial animals that were slaughtered in honor of the heroes. By contrast, as we have already seen, the use of animal blood is rare in the case of libations performed in honor of the “ordinary” dead. [18]
17§14. But the libation poured for Agamemnon in the Libation Bearers of Aeschylus is no ordinary ritual performed for a cult hero. In this case, the spirit of the ongoing vendetta requires that the spilling of Agamemnon’s blood must lead to further spilling of blood that originates not from sacrificial animals but from human victims:

Hour 17 Text E

|575 {Orestes is speaking:} Before he [= Aegisthus] can even say “Who is the stranger [xenos] and where is he from?” he will become a corpse. |576 That is what I will do to him, skewering him with my swift sword. |577 The Fury [Erinys] that has no fill of slaughter |578 will have unmixed blood to drink as her third and crowning drink!
Aeschylus Libation Bearers 575-578 [19]
17§15. The killing of Aegisthus by Orestes, brother of Electra, is visualized here as a libation of human blood, to be drunk by an Erinys. So, the blood here originates not from some animal slaughtered at a sacrifice, which would be ritu- {490|491} ally correct in the case of pouring a libation to honor a cult hero. Rather, the blood originates from Aegisthus himself, slaughtered in a corrupted sacrifice that is viewed as a killing fueled by the spirit of the ongoing vendetta.

Transcending the spirit of vendetta

17§16. In the myth that we see unfolding in the Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus, what needs to happen is a solution for stopping a chain of evil originating from the heroic age and perpetuated by an insatiable desire for vengeance. What I have been calling the spirit of an ongoing vendetta can be stopped only by a new world order, which is what we see emerging in the Eumenides of Aeschylus. And this new world order, which is represented by the city of Athens, is made possible by the intervention of the goddess of that city, Athena, who becomes the embodiment of the ideals of Athens as these ideals take shape in the Oresteia trilogy.
17§17. What Athena’s intervention achieves is a transformation of the malevolent Erinyes into the benevolent Eumenides. Whereas the Erinyes represent the spirit of an ongoing vendetta originating from angry ghosts of heroes, the Eumenides represent the positive mentality of those same heroes. And the transformation of the Erinyes into the Eumenides represents their acculturation within the framework of Athenian society, where they are also known as the Semnai or ‘Revered Ones’ (there is a most revealing report about them in Pausanias 1.28.6-7). Conversely, such acculturation represents the transformation of the dead heroes of the past into the cult heroes of the immediate present. These cult heroes could now be worshipped by pouring libations of blood originating from animal sacrifice, and they would no longer have to call for the spilling of human blood. [20] Further, just as cult heroes received libations as well as sacrifices in general from their worshippers, so also the Eumenides could receive corresponding honors. [21] By contrast, the Erinyes would receive no libations, no sacrifices – at least, not in Athens. [22] {491|492}

A new world order for Athens

17§18. Once the Eumenides are differentiated from the Erinyes, the city of Athens can become an idealized society according to the mythology of the Oresteia trilogy. In this society, the positive mentality of cult heroes is acculturated into a social as well as cosmic force of fertility and prosperity for the entire community. And that force is dikē in the sense of absolutized ‘justice’. For this justice to emerge out of the dysfunctional old world of kings who were heroes and heroes who were kings, a judgment has to be made, and this judgment will be the first verdict ever pronounced in what we call a court of law. Here is how the goddess Athena herself says it:

Hour 17 Text F

|696 Neither anarchy nor tyranny |697 – I advise the citizens of my city not to hold either of these things in honor as they go on managing their affairs, |698 but I also advise them not to drive fear out of the city altogether. |699 For who among mortal men, if he fears nothing, behaves with justice [dikē]? |700 If you [Athenians], acting with justice [dikē], would treat reverence [sebas] for the divine as a thing to be feared, |701 then there would be for you a protection that brings salvation [sōtērios] for your land and for your city [polis]|702 – that is what you would have, the kind of protection that no other human could have anywhere else, |703 either among the Scythians or in the territories of Pelops. |704 I establish this lawcourt, which is untouched by desire for profit [kerdos]. |705 It is fully deserving of reverence and is quick to anger. Watching over those who sleep, |706 it is a wakeful guardian of the land. Yes, this is what I establish. |707 I have given to you at some length this set of instructions [par-ainesis] |708 to be heeded for all time by you as the citizens of my city. So, now, you must stand up, |709 take a ballot, and make a decision [diagnōsis] about the case [dikē], |710 showing respect for your oath. The word has been spoken.
Aeschylus Eumenides 696-710 [23] {492|493}
17§19. Athena, goddess of the new world order, has just made possible the first vote of the first jury in the first trial by jury. This moment inaugurates, in terms of the myth created by the Oresteia trilogy, the beginnings of the institution known as the city-state or polis. The institution of trial by jury, as an alternative to the institution of the vendetta, is imagined here as the first step leading toward an ideal civilization as defined by the polis. I recall the formulation of Aristotle, which we had read at the very beginning (00§8): humans reach their full potential as organisms of the polis.
17§20. In the Eumenides, the first vote of the first jury in the first trial by jury leads to a suspended verdict for Orestes, avenger of his father on the one had and killer of his mother on the other. As we are about to see, this suspended verdict is seen as an ‘equal vote’ prompted by the two mutually contradictory actions taken by Orestes, the avenging of his father and the killing of his mother. The ‘equal vote’ of the jury will not really absolve Orestes of his guilt for killing his mother: it will only make it possible for the guilt itself to be processed by a new rule of law. And that processing, that process, is the rule of law itself. In this chicken-and-egg relationship, as articulated in the myth, the processing of the guilt leads to the rule of law that processes the guilt. Such a rule is at first resisted by the Erinyes as embodiments of the spirit of the ongoing vendetta, but it is ultimately accepted by them, once they are persuaded by Athena, and this persuasion can now transform them into the Eumenides. And once the Erinyes are transformed into the Eumenides, the ongoing vendetta comes to an end. The very institution of the hot-blooded vendetta, as traced back in time to a retrospectively dysfunctional heroic age, is now stopped cold. Here is how the goddess Athena herself says it:

Hour 17 Text G

|794 You [Erinyes] must be persuaded by me not to bear the decision with heavy grief. |795 For you are not defeated; the trial [dikē] resulted in an equal vote, |796 that is truly [alēthōs] how it came out, and so you are not deprived of your honor [tīmē], |797 since there were clear pieces of testimony from Zeus. |798 And the one who spoke the oracle himself, he [= Apollo] was also the same one who came to give evidence himself, |799 with the result that Orestes could not suffer harm, even though {493|494} he did [drân] these things that he did. |800 But here you are, vomiting your heavy anger [kotos] on this land. |801 Do reconsider. Do not get passionately angry. Do not cause deprivation of fruit [a-karpiā], |802 making the land sterile by releasing toxic drops dripping from superhuman powers [daimones], |803 drops becoming savage piercing pains that eat away the seeds. |804 For I do promise you, in all justness [dikē], |805 that you will have sanctuaries and sacred hollows in this land of justice [dikē], |806 where you will sit on bright thrones at places of fire-sacrifice, |807 that is what you will have, earning honor [tīmē] from the citizens here. […] |824 You are not without honor [tīmē], so do not be moved by your excessive feeling [thūmos], |825 O goddesses, by making the land cursed in the worst way for mortals. |826 I also rely on Zeus – what need is there to say that? – |827 and I alone of the gods know where the keys are to the house |828 where his thunderbolt is kept safe, under a seal [sphrāgīs]. |829 But there is no need for it. So, be obedient to me in the best possible way, |830 and do not hurl words against the land from a tongue uttering threats that cannot be fulfilled, |831 threatening that all things bearing fruit [karpos] will not prosper. |832 Put to sleep the bitter power [menos] of your dark flow, |833 since you will receive an honor [tīmē] that is revered [semnē], and you will share your dwelling [sun-oikeîn] with me. |834 You will have the first-fruits of this plentiful land, |835 and fire-sacrifices before childbirth – as also before matrimonial initiation [telos] |836 – that is what you will have. And, once you have these things, you will keep on transmitting forever these words of mine here, giving your approval [ep-aineîn].
Aeschylus Eumenides 794-807, 824-836 [24] {494|495}
17§21. Athena has now transformed the anger of the Furies or Erinyes into the social force that makes it possible to achieve justice under the rule of law. The angry spirits of the Erinyes, analogous to the spirits of cult heroes when they get angry at the unjust, are being acculturated by the overarching idea of dikē or ‘justice’ as established in the city-state, the polis. The poetic words of fertility and prosperity, as conferred by the cult hero upon the just, have now been re-applied to the social institution of trial by jury, which replaces the “tribal” system of the vendetta, an institution that notionally predates the era of civilization inaugurated by the invention, as it were, of the polis.
17§22. So, the idea of the hero as a champion of absolute justice, dikē, is validated by the civilization of the polis of Athens. And the goddess Athena is pictured as the idealized representative of this idealized Athens. In the words of the goddess herself, Athens is a beautiful garden, and Athena is the caring gardener who makes everything fertile and prosperous. Here is how she says it, calling on the Eumenides to celebrate their transformation into the benevolent sprits that protect the heroic ideal of absolute justice:

Hour 17 Text H

|902 {Chorus of Eumenides:} So, what kind of hymn [humnos] are you telling me to sing for this land?
|903 {Athena:} Sing the kinds of songs that are not about evil victory, |904 but songs of the land and of the currents of the sea, [pontos] |905 and of the sky; and sing that the gusts of wind |906 will come with good sunlight and blow over this land, |907 and that the fruit of the earth and the offspring of the animals of the field |908 will flourish abundantly for my citizens and will not wear out in the course of time, |909 and that there will be the salvation [sōtēriā] of human seed. |910 May you be ready to promote the fertility of those who worship well [eu-sebeîn]; |911 for I cherish, like a gardener, |912 the progeny [genos] of these people here, who are so just [dikaioi] – and who must be protected from sorrow [penthos]. |913 Such things are for you to do. As for me, when it comes to deeds of war, |914 ordeals [agōnes] that bring distinction, I will not stand for it if |915 this citadel [polis], this victorious city [astu], is not honored [tīmân] among mortals.
Aeschylus Eumenides 902-915 [25] {495|496}
17§23. In the Agamemnon, we had seen malevolent winds signaling evil deeds, like the corrupt sacrifices that were staged for shedding the blood of victims like Iphigeneia and Cassandra. Now in the Eumenides we see benevolent winds signaling the good deeds promoted by the rule of law in the city of Athens. And this city is idealized in the image of the goddess Athena as its ‘gardener’. Now the idea of Athens as a perfect society can be made complete.
17§24. Looking back at the poetry that glorified the benevolent aspects of heroes as cult heroes, we can see that the imagery of the paradisiacal garden tended by the goddess Athena as its gardener is derived ultimately from the symbolic world of hero cult. In the passage we have just read, Athena as the goddess of her city teaches the Eumenides how to celebrate their new status as the protectors of this symbolic world. The celebration takes the form of a hymn, and the hymn that this goddess teaches the Eumenides to perform becomes a hymn to be performed for Athena herself, recurrently for all eternity, as the embodiment of this new world order. {496|497}


[ back ] 1. Henrichs 1994:44-45.
[ back ] 2. The clearest attestation of this term Eumenides ‘they of good intentions’ is in Pausanias 2.11.4, as analyzed by Henrichs 1994:42.
[ back ] 3. By implication, the Erinyes cannot receive such honors if they continue to be Erinyes, that is, if they are not transformed, becoming the Eumenides, that is, ‘they of good intentions’: see Henrichs 1994:38.
[ back ] 4. Here the passionate feelings are caused by blood, not by wine. In the case of the Eumenides, as we will see in Hour 18, passionate feelings would be caused by libations of wine.
[ back ] 5. καὶ σὺ τιμίαν |855 ἕδραν ἔχουσα πρὸς δόμοις Ἐρεχθέως | τεύξῃ παρ’ ἀνδρῶν καὶ γυναικείων στόλων | ὅσ’ ἂν παρ’ ἄλλων οὔποτ’ ἂν σχέθοις βροτῶν. | σὺ δ’ ἐν τόποισι τοῖς ἐμοῖσι μὴ βάλῃς | μήθ’ αἱματηρὰς θηγάνας, σπλάγχνων βλάβας |860 νέων, ἀοίνοις ἐμμανεῖς θυμώμασιν, | μήτ’, ἐξελοῦσ’ ὡς καρδίαν ἀλεκτόρων, | ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς ἀστοῖσιν ἱδρύσῃς Ἄρη | ἐμφύλιόν τε καὶ πρὸς ἀλλήλους θρασύν. | θυραῖος ἔστω πόλεμος, οὐ μόλις παρών, |865 ἐν ᾧ τις ἔσται δεινὸς εὐκλείας ἔρως· | ἐνοικίου δ’ ὄρνιθος οὐ λέγω μάχην. | τοιαῦθ’ ἑλέσθαι σοι πάρεστιν ἐξ ἐμοῦ, | εὖ δρῶσαν, εὖ πάσχουσαν, εὖ τιμωμένην | χώρας μετασχεῖν τῆσδε θεοφιλεστάτης.
[ back ] 6. HC 1§138.
[ back ] 7. HTL 159-160. For an overall analysis of Iliad II 547-551 and Odyssey vii 81, see Frame 2009:395 and 445-446.
[ back ] 8. BA 115-116 = 6§28. PH 144, 153-156 = 5§15, 6§§16-20.
[ back ] 9. For an overall introduction to the practice of making libations, see Patton 2009:27-56; also Henrichs 1983:95-97.
[ back ] 10. Ekroth 2002:67-68, 254-268; see also Henrichs 1983:99.
[ back ] 11. The historical evidence is summarized thus by Ekroth 2002:268: “The ordinary dead do not seem to have been called, contracted or invited by means of blood and there is little evidence that there was any desire for that kind of closeness with the departed.”
[ back ] 12. On the hero cults of Agamemnon, see Salapata 2011.
[ back ] 13. |84 δμῳαὶ γυναῖκες, δωμάτων εὐθήμονες, |85 ἐπεὶ πάρεστε τῆσδε προστροπῆς ἐμοὶ |86 πομποί, γένεσθε τῶνδε σύμβουλοι πέρι· |87 τί φῶ χέουσα τάσδε κηδείους χοάς; |88 πῶς εὔφρον’ εἴπω, πῶς κατεύξωμαι πατρί; |89 πότερα λέγουσα παρὰ φίλης φίλῳ φέρειν |90 γυναικὸς ἀνδρί, τῆς ἐμῆς μητρὸς πάρα;
[ back ] 14. On the general relationship of moral and ritual correctness, I offer a brief comparative analysis in Nagy 1985:57 = §§21-22; see also GM 70, 110-111.
[ back ] 15. |118 {Ηλ.} τί φῶ; δίδασκ’ ἄπειρον ἐξηγουμένη. |119 {Χο.} ἐλθεῖν τιν’ αὐτοῖς δαίμον- ἢ βροτῶν τινα – |120 {Ηλ.} πότερα δικαστὴν ἢ δικηφόρον λέγεις; |121 {Χο.} ἁπλωστὶ φράζουσ’, ὅστις ἀνταποκτενεῖ. |122 {Ηλ.} καὶ ταῦτά μοὐστὶν εὐσεβῆ θεῶν πάρα; |123 {Χο.} πῶς δ’ οὔ, τὸν ἐχθρὸν ἀνταμείβεσθαι κακοῖς; |124 … Ἑρμῆ χθόνιε, κηρύξας ἐμοὶ |125 τοὺς γῆς ἔνερθε δαίμονας κλύειν ἐμὰς |126 εὐχάς, πατρῴων δωμάτων ἐπισκόπους, |127 καὶ γαῖαν αὐτήν, ἣ τὰ πάντα τίκτεται |128 θρέψασά τ’ αὖθις τῶνδε κῦμα λαμβάνει· |129 κἀγὼ χέουσα τάσδε χέρνιβας νεκροῖς |130 λέγω καλοῦσα πατέρ(α).
[ back ] 16. Here I am guided by a formulation developed by Seaford 1994:91 in his overall analysis of the Libation Bearers of Aeschylus.
[ back ] 17. |399 κλῦτε δὲ Γᾶ χθονίων τε τιμαί. |400 {Χο.} ἀλλὰ νόμος μὲν φονίας σταγόνας |401 χυμένας ἐς πέδον ἄλλο προσαιτεῖν |402 αἷμα· βοᾷ γὰρ λοιγὸς Ἐρινὺν |403 παρὰ τῶν πρότερον φθιμένων ἄτην |404 ἑτέραν ἐπάγουσαν ἐπ’ ἄτῃ.
[ back ] 18. I recall the formulation of Ekroth 2002:268: “The ordinary dead do not seem to have been called, contracted or invited by means of blood and there is little evidence that there was any desire for that kind of closeness with the departed.”
[ back ] 19. |575 πρὶν αὐτὸν εἰπεῖν ‘ποδαπὸς ὁ ξένος;’ νεκρὸν |576 θήσω, ποδώκει περιβαλὼν χαλκεύματι. |577 φόνου δ’ Ἐρινὺς οὐχ ὑπεσπανισμένη |578 ἄκρατον αἷμα πίεται τρίτην πόσιν.
[ back ] 20. For a survey of practices involving blood-libations offered to cult heroes, see Ekroth 2002:68-72, 257-268.
[ back ] 21. For a survey of the kinds of libations and sacrifices that worshippers offered to the Eumenides, see Henrichs 1994:40-43.
[ back ] 22. The absence or near-absence of attestations showing any libation or sacrifice offered to the Erinyes is noted by Henrichs 1994:37-38, 44.
[ back ] 23. |696 τὸ μήτ’ ἄναρχον μήτε δεσποτούμενον |697 ἀστοῖς περιστέλλουσι βουλεύω σέβειν, |698 καὶ μὴ τὸ δεινὸν πᾶν πόλεως ἔξω βαλεῖν. |699 τίς γὰρ δεδοικὼς μηδὲν ἔνδικος βροτῶν; |700 τοιόνδε τοι ταρβοῦντες ἐνδίκως σέβας |701 ἔρυμά τε χώρας καὶ πόλεως σωτήριον |702 ἔχοιτ’ ἄν, οἷον οὔτις ἀνθρώπων ἔχει, |703 οὔτ’ ἐν Σκύθῃσιν οὔτε Πέλοπος ἐν τόποις. |704 κερδῶν ἄθικτον τοῦτο βουλευτήριον, |705 αἰδοῖον, ὀξύθυμον, εὑδόντων ὕπερ |706 ἐγρηγορὸς φρούρημα γῆς καθίσταμαι. |707 ταύτην μὲν ἐξέτειν’ ἐμοῖς παραίνεσιν |708 ἀστοῖσιν ἐς τὸ λοιπόν· ὀρθοῦσθαι δὲ χρὴ |709 καὶ ψῆφον αἴρειν καὶ διαγνῶναι δίκην |710 αἰδουμένους τὸν ὅρκον. εἴρηται λόγος.
[ back ] 24. |794 ἐμοὶ πίθεσθε μὴ βαρυστόνως φέρειν. |795 οὐ γὰρ νενίκησθ’, ἀλλ’ ἰσόψηφος δίκη |796 ἐξῆλθ’ ἀληθῶς, οὐκ ἀτιμίᾳ σέθεν· |797 ἀλλ’ ἐκ Διὸς γὰρ λαμπρὰ μαρτύρια παρῆν, |798 αὐτός θ’ ὁ χρήσας αὐτὸς ἦν ὁ μαρτυρῶν, |799 ὡς ταῦτ’ Ὀρέστην δρῶντα μὴ βλάβας ἔχειν. |800 ὑμεῖς δ’ ἐμεῖτε τῇδε γῇ βαρὺν κότον; |801 σκέψασθε, μὴ θυμοῦσθε, μηδ’ ἀκαρπίαν |802 τεύξητ’, ἀφεῖσαι δαιμόνων σταλάγματα, |803 βρωτῆρας αἰχμὰς σπερμάτων ἀνημέρους. |804 ἐγὼ γὰρ ὑμῖν πανδίκως ὑπίσχομαι |805 ἕδρας τε καὶ κευθμῶνας ἐνδίκου χθονὸς |806 λιπαροθρόνοισιν ἡμένας ἐπ’ ἐσχάραις |807 ἕξειν, ὑπ’ ἀστῶν τῶνδε τιμαλφουμένας. … |824 οὐκ ἔστ’ ἄτιμοι, μηδ’ ὑπερθύμως ἄγαν |825 θεαὶ βροτῶν κτίσητε δύσκηλον χθόνα. |826 κἀγὼ πέποιθα Ζηνὶ καί – τί δεῖ λέγειν; – |827 καὶ κλῇδας οἶδα δώματος μόνη θεῶν |828 ἐν ᾧ κεραυνός ἐστιν ἐσφραγισμένος· |829 ἀλλ’ οὐδὲν αὐτοῦ δεῖ· σὺ δ’ εὐπιθὴς ἐμοὶ |830 γλώσσης ματαίας μὴ ’κβάλῃς ἔπη χθονί |831 καρπὸν φέροντα πάντα μὴ πράσσειν καλῶς. |832 κοίμα κελαινοῦ κύματος πικρὸν μένος |833 ὡς σεμνότιμος καὶ ξυνοικήτωρ ἐμοί· |834 πολλῆς δὲ χώρας τῆσδε τἀκροθίνια |835 θύη πρὸ παίδων καὶ γαμηλίου τέλους |836 ἔχουσ’ ἐς αἰεὶ τόνδ’ ἐπαινέσεις λόγον.
[ back ] 25. |902 {Χο.} τί οὖν μ’ ἄνωγας τῇδ’ ἐφυμνῆσαι χθονί; |903 {᾿Αθ.} ὁποῖα νίκης μὴ κακῆς ἐπίσκοπα, |904 καὶ ταῦτα γῆθεν ἔκ τε ποντίας δρόσου, |905 ἐξ οὐρανοῦ τε, κἀνέμων ἀήματα |906 εὐηλίως πνέοντ’ ἐπιστείχειν χθόνα· |907 καρπόν τε γαίας καὶ βοτῶν ἐπίρρυτον |908 ἀστοῖσιν εὐθενοῦντα μὴ κάμνειν χρόνῳ, |909 καὶ τῶν βροτείων σπερμάτων σωτηρίαν. |910 τῶν δ’ εὐσεβούντων ἐκφορωτέρα πέλοις. |911 στέργω γάρ, ἀνδρὸς φιτυποίμενος δίκην, |912 τὸ τῶν δικαίων τῶνδ’ ἀπένθητον γένος. |913 τοιαῦτα σοὔστι. τῶν ἀρειφάτων δ’ ἐγὼ |914 πρεπτῶν ἀγώνων οὐκ ἀνέξομαι τὸ μὴ οὐ |915 τήνδ’ ἀστύνικον ἐν βροτοῖς τιμᾶν πόλιν.