Tsagalis, Christos. 2008. The Oral Palimpsest: Exploring Intertextuality in the Homeric Epics. Hellenic Studies Series 29. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_TsagalisC.The_Oral_Palimpsest.2008.
Chapter 10. The Rhetorics of Supplication and the Epic Intertext (Iliad I 493–516)
Supplication: From Theme to Speech-Act
Polysemy and Repetition
Kahane’s view reflects my own opinion with respect to the dilemma between oral versus literate composition. Let me add that localization of metrical shapes is not incompatible with oral modes of verse composition, but is not typical of works orally composed since statistical data concerning localization of hapax legomena for written hexameter poetry such as that of Apollonius and Callimachus closely parallel the ones referring to the Iliad and the Odyssey.  As far as structural formulas are concerned, one should bear in mind that “a literate poet imitating and/or innovating on the basis of an earlier Homeric, or oral, or traditional poem, or any two or all of these, would have certainly had time to choose positioning according to his own design. The literary poet could invent as many expressions as he chose …”  Repetition can be of various sorts. It can include words, word groups, metrical and syntactical patterns, or even whole verses. The reproduction of these patterns is the result of the tradition working within the mind of the singer. Repetitive melodic, metrical, syntactical, and acoustical patterns form a grammar of poetry, “a grammar superimposed, as it were, on the grammar of the language concerned … The speaker of this language, once he has mastered it, does not move more mechanically within it than we do in ordinary speech.”  This is certainly true for the singer composing within the limits determined by the grammar of poetry. On the other hand, repetition refers to pattern usage and pertains more to reception than to composition. To make this point more clear: my view is that both an ancient audience and a modern reader “are not directly subject to the exigencies of oral composition,”  and so repetition is significant for them since they do not operate at the level of the singer’s compositional process, but on the level of the reception of his work. 
Openings (I 493–499)
ῥ᾿ ἐκ τοῖο δυωδεκάτη γένετ᾿ ἠώς,
καὶ τότε δὴ
πρὸς Ὄλυμπον ἴσαν θεοὶ αἰὲν ἐόντες
the twelfth dawn after this day appeared,
the gods who live forever came back to Olympos all in a body 
By stressing the here and now of the events he is referring to, the external narrator  employs the correlatives ὅτε-τότε to make his account vivid.  The use of the apodotic καί in this sort of passage (see Iliad XVI 780; XVIII 350; XXII 209) coordinates what Chafe  has successfully called “regulatory intonation units,” mapping out the flow of two “substantive intonation units,” which create two balancing pairs.  In this way, the convergence between the time period of twelve days and the moment the gods return to Olympos is effectively brought to the present of the performance. It is as if the bard has said ‘the gods are now (καὶ τότε δή) returning to Olympos, just at the point of completion of a twelve-day period (ὅτε δή ῥ᾿ ἐκ τοῖο δυωδεκάτη γένετ᾿ ἠώς)’. From this kind of utterance the audience is invited to ‘notice’ the twelve-day period and evaluate it within the notion of time fostered by Iliadic song. In accordance with what was said above on polysemy and repetition, Iliadic epic attempts to ‘teach’ its listeners its own poetic grammar and, in this case, its own grammar of time. In order to appreciate this kind of subtle system, we need to place it within the nexus of other relevant expressions of a twelve-day period. Such a time interval, typically expressed by ἠώς that is placed at verse-end,  bears a striking similarity to two other twelve-day periods in Iliad XXIV.  Scholars have struggled to count the exact days described by the Iliadic plot, and have even developed theories about the way ‘dawns’ or ‘days’ should be numbered. They have thus failed to see that the symmetry between the beginning and end of the poem does not ‘depend’ on details of this sort. In cases like this, what really matters is the synchronic description of the ‘twelve-day’ period within archaic Greek poetry.  Such similarities are diachronically due to the fact that “the formula system developed around expressions such as δυωδεκάτη γένετ᾿ Ἠώς | and | ἥδε δυωδεκάτη … and so on.”  On the other hand, “the analysis of system, or the synchronic approach, is logically prior to a diachronic approach because systems are more intelligible than changes.”  In this light, the grammar of time employed by the Iliadic tradition indicates to the audience that the twelve-day period is a device that aims to open and close the poem. By being synchronically observable through its repetition, this time frame becomes functional on the level of the epic’s performance, turning the relevant supplication scenes into ‘oral indicators’ of the song’s beginning and end.
497: ἠερίη δ᾿ // ἀνέβη // μέγαν οὐρανὸν // Οὔλυμπόν τε.
498: ηὗρεν δ᾿ // εὐρύοπα Κρονίδην // ἄτερ ἥμενον ἄλλων
499: ἀκροτάτῃ κορυφῇ // πολυδειράδος Οὐλύμποιο·
ὑμετέρης γενεῆς, ἐπιείκελον ἀθανάτοισιν·
βῆ δ᾿ ἴμεν αἰτήσουσα κελαινεφέα Κρονίωνα
ἀθάνατόν τ᾿ εἶναι καὶ ζώειν ἤματα πάντα·
τῇ δὲ Ζεὺς ἐπένευσε καὶ ἐκρήηνεν ἐέλδωρ·
νηπίη, οὐδ᾿ ἐνόησε μετὰ φρεσὶ πότνια Ἠώς
ἥβην αἰτῆσαι ξῦσαί τ᾿ ἄπο γῆρας ὀλοιόν.
τὸν δ᾿ ἤτοι εἵως μὲν ἔχεν πολυήρατος ἥβη,
Ἠοῖ τερπόμενος χρυσοθρόνωι ἠριγενείῃ
ναῖε παρ᾿ Ὠκεανοῖο ῥοῇς ἐπὶ πείρασι γαίης·
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ πρῶται πολιαὶ κατέχυντο ἔθειραι
καλῆς ἐκ κεφαλῆς εὐηγενέος τε γενείου,
τοῦ δ᾿ ἤτοι εὐνῆς μὲν ἀπείχετο πότνια Ἠώς,
αὐτὸν δ᾿ αὖτ᾿ ἀτίταλλεν ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ἔχουσα
σίτῳ τ᾿ ἀμβροσίῃ τε καὶ εἵματα καλὰ διδοῦσα.
ἀλλ᾿ ὅτε δὴ πάμπαν στυγερὸν κατὰ γῆρας ἔπειγεν,
οὐδέ τι κινῆσαι μελέων δύνατ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἀναεῖραι,
ἥδε δέ οἱ κατὰ θυμὸν ἀρίστη φαίνετο βουλή·
ἐν θαλάμῳ κατέθηκε, θύρας δ᾿ ἐπέθηκε φαεινάς.
τοῦ δ᾿ ἤτοι φωνὴ ῥέει ἄσπετος, οὐδέ τι κῖκυς
ἔσθ᾿ οἵη πάρος ἔσκεν ἐνὶ γναμπτοῖσι μέλεσσιν.
So again Tithonus was seized by golden-throned Dawn from your family, a man
like the immortals. She went to ask the dark-cloud son of Kronos for him to be
immortal and live for ever, and Zeus assented and fulfilled her wish –foolish
lady Dawn, she did not think to ask for youth for him, and the stripping away of
baneful old age. So long as lovely youth possessed him, he took his delight in
Dawn of the golden throne, the early-born, and dwelt by the waters of Ocean at
the ends of the earth; but when the first scattering of grey hairs came forth
from his handsome head and his noble chin, the lady Dawn stayed away from
his bed, but kept him in her mansion and nurtured him with food and ambrosia,
and gave him fine clothing. And when repulsive old age pressed fully upon him,
and he could not move or lift any of his limbs, this is what she decided was the
best course: she laid him away in a chamber, and shut its shining doors. His
voice still runs on unceasing, but there is none of the strength that there used to
be in his bent limbs.
Almost all of the thematic features in this epic narrative describing the myth of Dawn and Tithonus (Dawn’s journey to Olympos and subsequent request to Zeus to offer immortality to Tithonus,  Zeus’ assent, repulsive old age, Tithonus’ delight while staying with Dawn, Dawn’s appearance early in the morning, her sharing the same abode with Tithonus by the waters of the Ocean at the ends of the earth, her ability to nurture her consort with divine food) have left their traces in the Homeric epics and primarily in the Iliadic tradition, where they have been reshaped and tailored to the epic’s needs. Before turning to the Iliad, I would like to draw attention to Eos’ role in the ‘Aethiopic’ oral tradition, which basically corresponds to the second half of the (reconstructed) plot of the post-Homeric Aethiopis by Arctinus of Miletos. According to the summary offered by Proclus in his Chrestomathy, Eos had asked Zeus to grant to her son Memnon immortality after his death at the hands of Achilles:
In the Iliad, the similarities shared by Thetis and Eos are numerous but have been selectively reshaped. The following Iliadic passages display all the aforementioned features pertaining to Eos and Tithonus or Memnon, but applied now to the relation between Thetis and Peleus or Achilles:
Intratextual Deroutinization, Part I
δεξιτερῇ // ὑπ᾿ ἀνθερεῶνος ἑλοῦσα
The harsh-sounding σκαιῇ-δεξιτερῇ cluster (reinforced by the enjambment) contrasts with the euphony of the ἀνθερεῶνος-λισσομένη sequence. This contrast, which is reinforced by the hiatus, alludes to the antithesis between Thetis’ emotional intensity and Zeus’ majestic tranquility. Besides, the words pointing to Zeus (ἀνθερεῶνος and λισσομένη, the latter having Zeus as its notional object) are clearly euphonic, whereas those referring to Thetis (σκαιῇ-δεξιτερῇ), with their strident sequence of consonants making even their pronunciation strenuous, convey her emotional strain. These observations, stemming from the acoustics of the aforementioned expressions, reveal the special emphasis placed on the use of the σκαιῇ-δεξιτερῇ cluster. Surprisingly enough, this word combination does not pertain to either the Iliadic or to the Odyssean vocabulary of supplication. The following list of relevant verses shows that the use of both the left and right hands does not belong to the kinetic typology of supplication:
X 454–455: ἦ, καὶ ὃ μέν μιν ἔμελλε γενείου χειρὶ παχείῃ // ἁψάμενος λίσσεσθαι, …
XXI 68–69: … ὃ δ᾿ ὑπέδραμε καὶ λάβε γούνων // κύψας, …
XXIV 478–479: χερσὶν Ἀχιλλῆος λάβε γούνατα καὶ κύσε χεῖρας // δεινὰς ἀνδροφόνους, …
Iliad XXI 490: σκαιῇ, δεξιτερῇ δ᾿ ἄρ᾿ ἀπ᾿ ὤμων αἴνυτο τόξα
Intratextual Deroutinization, Part II (503–510)
The aforementioned observations fit admirably within the intertextual background of the Thetis-Zeus relationship. Its intratextual deroutinization is hereby based on the use of certain features not pertaining to the typology of supplication but reflecting the very nature of warrior society, which is based on exchange rather than pity. In this way, Thetis’ request mirrors the poetics of the Iliad as a whole and becomes the starting point from which the rest of the epic will evolve. The hybridization of this supplication can be better appreciated if it is compared to Chryses’ supplication to Agamemnon and Menelaus in Iliad I 17–21. The optatives (δοῖεν, λύσαιτε) employed in Chryses’ supplication have been changed into two (κρήηνον, τίμησον) and three (ὑπόσχεο, κατάνευσον, ἀπόειπε) imperatives during Thetis’ first and second appeal.
Intertextual Skewing and Intratextual Sequencing