Poetic and Performative Memory in Ancient Greece: Heroic Reference and Ritual Gestures in Time and Space

  Calame, Claude. 2009. Poetic and Performative Memory in Ancient Greece: Heroic Reference and Ritual Gestures in Time and Space. Hellenic Studies Series 18. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_CalameC.Poetic_and_Performative_Memory_in_Ancient_Greece.2009.

V. Ritual and Initiatory Itineraries toward the Afterlife: Time, Space, and Pragmatics in the Gold Lamellae

Western postmodernism, moving now toward hyper- or meta-modernism, has been characterized both by the desire for immediate profit and by the development of means of communication and multi-media. These two phenomena are brought together by the omnipresence of advertising in all the new technical means of communication, an advertising designed to drive consumption and thus immediate gain; they have brought about an acceleration of social and individual time, coupled with a explosion of knowledge. On television and on the internet, perhaps a bit more interactively on the internet, theoretical and practical knowledge are fragmented and constantly reassembled to respond to the needs of an individualism which must be constantly sought and revived.

From a spatial-temporal point of view, this accelerated production of a knowledge which is more and more fragmented has brought about a fragmenting both of our history and of the space in which that history is broadcast. This vast space-time is focused on the immediate and on what is intended to shock and to provoke, throughout the entire world: an isolated “presentism” with no thought for coherent continuity, for relating rationally, or even for long-term perspective. [1] This geographic explosion in an economic and ideological “globalization” prohibits any construction of spatial-temporal configurations designed to serve social, reflexive, and critical observation.

The competitive market of hypermodernity and its spatial-temporal regime are very far from the preoccupations of Greek citizens, concerned with the spatial-temporal line ensured by destiny and guaranteed by the different deities of the pantheon appropriate to each city. The memory of the community, with its heroic models often ritually active in the present, with its epic traditions and its local and pan-Hellenic genealogies, with its poetic and plastic creativity, with its specific places of religious celebration, nurtures the collective past of individual human itineraries—as has already been said often enough. The future of these women and men, deeply conscious of the ephemeral and finite nature of their destiny, was essentially driven by their desire for immortality. As a brief comparative study will demonstrate, there is a strong contrast between this representation of a linear mortality, the object of many points of reference in space and in time, and the spatial-temporal paradigm founded on the labile network of post-, hyper-, and metamodernism. The ideology of adolescence and concern for permanent youth in this world that were mentioned in the introduction have largely replaced the preoccupation with a generally collective form of survival, both in the community of mortal men and in the afterlife. Many fantasies of permanence are maintained by the illusory prospects of genetic “engineering,” from purely technical manipulations of the human genome to the possibilities of identical reproduction offered by cloning! [2]

1. Neo-mystical aspirations

It would be wrong to think that belonging to a present and to a space both constantly renewed, and thus largely fragmented, keeps the representatives of a neocapitalist, postindustrial mediated society from aspiring to another world. But these other worlds are syncretic and easily re-created by computerized virtual reality; they are worlds which root themselves in the past, fabricated as they are from heterogeneous historical materials: prehistoric men confronting monstrous Paleolithic animals, heroic characters with super-human powers drawn from Greco-Roman antiquity, feudal lords defending their stern and impregnable keeps, all taking off occasionally on unlikely interstellar shuttles. Worlds of science fiction feeding paradoxically on the great historic moments of a western civilization universally set up as human civilization—as globalization demands…; syncretic worlds which owe more to the vaguely historical and vaguely mystical makeshift than they do to any historical cross-fertilization or thoughtful multicultural synthesis; worlds where the immutable moral qualities of heroes always young, strong, and triumphant can be displayed; worlds generally accessed in ways resembling the initiatory itinerary: “Myth is real. And like real life, you die every five minutes. In fact you probably won’t die at all (…). Pay attention to detail and collect information, because those are the pieces of the puzzle you’ll use to uncover the secrets of Myst,” says the advertising for the electronic game Myst, in encouraging an initiatory “rational” trip into a true fictional world. [3]

Whether their text is a simple graffito or an effort at epigraphic calligraphy, whether they were found near buried remains or on them, whether they were to accompany a man or a woman on the journey toward Hades, the funerary lamellae which have been unearthed by archaeologists in the most diverse sites throughout the Greek world show an interesting variety in their representations of time and space. These temporal configurations generally converge toward the same goal: a near future which coincides spatially with the afterlife. And so, after studying the depth of a heroic past touching on the time of the gods in order to base human mortality in civic justice, after studying the poetic transformation of sexual relationships in a legendary narrative to legitimize religious and territorial policy, and after studying the reconstitution of a founding oracular past for ritual reaffirmation of civic identity based on a communal memory, this fourth temporal model establishes forms of discourse where time and space overlap to ensure an individual future of a collective sort; this in relationship to the funerary ritual on which the lamellae offer a sort of commentary, but a performative commentary!

The generally poetic nature of these texts which consecrate a funeral ritual suggests an approach based on discourse analysis, and sensitive to their pragmatic elements; but the plurality of voices which can express the utterances once again requires attention to enunciative phenomena. While we remain sensitive to the pragmatic (not to say performative) dimension of the words written on the lamellae, the discursive coherence of these texts makes us contest any too-rapid application of convenient labels. This widely-practiced attribution is nothing more than a classification, based on ad hoc ideas and composite categories such as “Orphico-Dionysian”; but it also leads to the projection of mystico-metaphysical concepts of time and space, especially as it relates to the transmigration of souls and reincarnation. Finally, on a comparative level, comparison to the contemporary iconography geographically near to the most numerous lamellae will help us to trace the outlines of these spatial-temporal representations, of a discursive sort and with a ritual purpose.

2. The spatial-temporal itinerary of a dead woman at Hipponion

2.1. Narration and enunciation

Of Mnemosyne is this tomb; on the point of death
you will go into the well-built dwelling of Hades: to the right there is a spring,
alongside it stands a glowing cypress;
it is there that the souls of the dead descend and there they refresh themselves.
To this spring you must not draw near.
But farther on, you will find cold water which flows
from the lake of Mnemosyne; above it stand guards.
They will ask you, in certain judgment,
why you explore the shadows of dark Hades.
Say: “I am a son of the Earth and the starry Heavens.
I burn with thirst and my strength fails me; give me quickly
a drink of the cold water which comes from the lake of Mnemosyne.”
And they will question you, as the king of the Underworld wishes.
And you, when you have drunk, you will travel the sacred way
on which the other mystai and bacchoi also advance in glory.

(English version from the French translation by A.-Ph.Segonds and C. Lunda, slightly modified by Claude Calame)

The text carefully incised on the Hipponion lamella is thus expressed in the future. To the extent that the corresponding verbs assume various forms not in the first person, but rather in the second, the text does not show the enunciative auto-referentiality that one often finds in a lyric poem. Which is to say that the discursive subject does not describe the (verbal) action in which he is engaged. So the future forms presented in the Hipponion text have none of the “performative” value (in the strict sense of the term) that they assume in a metrical poem, when the poem becomes a religious act. [
8] In the absence of any allusion to a sung “performance,” as was the case indirectly at the end of Bacchylides Dithyramb 17, the series of actions which makes up the narrative fabric of the Hipponion text is presented as a sequence of injunctions. These are addressed by an anonymous speaker and narrator to an interlocutor (Benveniste would say an “allocuté” or an “allocutaire”) who is equally anonymous; he becomes the grammatical “you” as subject of the actions recommended. One might propose “The Underworld: A User’s Guide,” if asked to give a title to these injunctive texts.

2.1.1. An incipit in the form of a sphragís

2.1.2. The two springs

How surprising it is, then, to read the following recommendation, relayed by assertive description through discourse! “To the spring you must not draw near to” – the return of direct address to the anonymous “you” turns the interlocutor away from this spring, and in a new future injunctive (heurḗseis) directs him instead toward the cold water flowing from the marshes of Mnemosyne: from the speaker’s perspective, this lake of Memory is located farther into Hades; and above the water stand guards.

So there is really no surprise in finding that the domain of Hades created by the poetic Hipponion text is peopled with generically named guardians; they take on the role of guides and ferrymen in a nebulous space where points of reference are rare and difficult to interpret.

2.1.3. Declaration of identity

2.1.4. The four elements

2.1.5. Access to the realm of the blessed

But even more significant is the association of the interlocutor-you found in the Hipponion text with other “initiates and bacchants” (mústai kaì bákkhoi, line 16); after tasting the waters of Memory, they are called upon to follow the spatial-temporal itinerary shown to them: it leads toward what appears an eternal dwelling. A godsend for those who love initiatory interpretations and who see, in an epigraphic document from the end of the fifth century, the occurrence of technical terms capable of sustaining any number of mystical fantasies. So what about this?

2.2. Enunciative pragmatics: the funerary context

Following the purely intra-discursive reading of the text in its spatial-temporal aspect, we must move on to the extra-discursive. Considering what we know of conditions surrounding the putting-into-discourse and the communication of the Hipponion text is all the more important since it provides us a major surprise, from the enunciative point of view.

2.2.1. The poetic workings of gender

2.2.2. A few intertextual echoes

Again from an enunciative point of view, the six lamellae found at Eleutherna in Crete and dating from the end of the third century, as well as the fourth-century lamella probably from Thessaly, bear only the text of the declaration of identity, enunciated in the first person; with a significant modification, however, since, independently of variations in details, the state of thirst and the desire to drink expressed by the speaker’s voice come before the declaration of identity, which is enunciated in terms practically identical to those of the poetic text from Hipponion. [37]

I am burning with thirst and I am dying:
give me water to drink from the spring which flows constantly
there where the cypress is.
“Who are you? Where do you come from?”
“I am a son of the Earth and the starry Heavens.”

(English version from the French translation by A.-Ph. Segonds and C. Luna)

In this text from Crete, anticipation of the declaration of identity is caused by the absence of the other instructions which surround the password itself in the Hipponion document: thus it is caused by the disappearance of the scenario which presents the first-person declaration as an address to the guardians of the Underworld. Substituted for it are, first, the priority given to the thirst of the speaking subject, which constitutes the expected state of narrative “Lack” and begins the micro-plot assumed and spoken by the speaker-I; and, second, the insertion of a question in direct discourse on his own identity, which rather than being auto-referential could be assumed by the guardians of Hades: “who are you? where are you?” (tís d’ essí; pô d’ essí; line 3). A similar procedure calling for a declaration of identity can be found in the famous Egyptian pharaonic Book of the Dead. [

2.3. Initiatory itinerary under the aegis of Dionysus

2.3.1. Initiates’ shortcuts in Hades

And so the relationship seems inevitable between the integration of the addressee of the poetic text of Hipponion with a group of initiates, and the two possible itineraries offered at the beginning of the text. It is as an initiate, no doubt, that the young deceased woman is led to avoid the spring on the right, marked by the glowing cypress, and goes instead toward the Lake of Memory.

The common trait among these different representations seems clear: unlike the souls of mortals (like those of certain protagonists of the Iliad) wandering unhappily in Hades, the heroes of legend, and humans of the present day distinguished by their ancestry and by their exceptional values, may attain a special place and status. This final and privileged state is secured in a sort of return to the golden age, by association with the Blessed in their Isles or in the Elysian Fields. It is well known that mákar designates the status of eternal happiness enjoyed by the gods, set apart from any productive labor.

2.3.2 Mystēs and bacchant: A preliminary status

The nearly-divine collective identity acquired by drinking the waters of Memory thus seems reserved for those mústai who will know to turn away from the spring on the right, reserved for more common sons of Gaia and Ouranos, in order to reach the specific and exclusive realm of godlike heroes. In this context, it is easy to understand why the speaker in the Petelia text places himself in the perspective of a future hero, situating the spring marked by the white cypress negatively, on the left.

The Pherai text is introduced by a double call to an addressee, described as an “adult adolescent,” who corresponds either to the one carrying the lamella or to Dionysus himself, to take up his thyrsos. It is followed by a repeated and symmetrical invocation to Brimo, an avatar of Hecate, sometimes assimilated to Demeter in an Eleusinian context, or to Persephone in an Orphic context. [56] Following these two repeated calls, the receiver, whom we can now identify with the addressee and bearer of the lamella, is invited to enter a “sacred meadow” easily identified with the leimṓn of the Isles of the Blessed. [57] Before the brief conclusion, unfortunately indecipherable, the incitement to privileged access is justified: the addressee is presented as a mústēs who, as such, is exempt or freed of any penalty (ápoinos). The injunctive utterance of the Pherai súmbola thus ensures access to the sacred meadow of the afterlife in a spatial-temporal itinerary which speaks of two ways of proceeding: on the one hand, the voyage toward the world of the Blessed proposed by the two Thourioi lamellae for the soul who has “expiated his penalty for unjust acts”; and on the other hand the destiny of the “unjust,” paying “right here” in the Underworld the penalty (poinán) for their unjust acts in contrast with mortals allowed, for instance, by the second Olympian Ode to access the Isles of the Blessed. [58] Decidedly different from the concept of the súnthēma of Eleusis, where the initiand describes performatively and in the first person the ritual acts which he or she has just performed, [59] the súmbola procedure gives access to a new realm through repeating the invocation formulae. Its injunctive formulation in the second person recalls the long informative invitations from Hipponion, Petelia, or Pharsalus.

It is a widely held belief in classical Greece that privileged access to a realm of paradise close to that of the gods is reserved to those who, on earth, have undergone initiatory rites controlled by Dionysus. “Whoever reaches Hades without having known initiatory completion uninitiated and unsanctified (amúētos kaì atélestos) will be placed in the mire; he who arrives there purified and initiated (kekatharménos te kaì tetelesménos) will dwell with the gods,” says the Socrates of the Phaedo, who is at the point of death, referring to an ancient gnome. And he specifies that by initiation he means the Dionysian rites, where “those who carry the thyrsos are many, but the bacchants (bákkhoi) are few.” [61] The initiation which confers the state of purity required to belong to the small number of the elect who will share the life of the gods in Hades is thus inspired by Dionysus, even if for Socrates it represents a metaphor which finally refers to philosophic activity. And it has been noted that in the Hellenistic epigram of Poseidippos of Pella, perhaps the very same mústēs of that name on a lamella mentioned earlier, the speaker expresses his hope that thanks to the “mystic path,” he will be near Rhadamanthys and dwell there after death. [62] In Hipponion, in Petelia, in Pharsalus, even in Entella, both the course through Hades promised only to mústai, and the privileged destiny which awaits them, imply a preceding Dionysiac type of initiation and rite of passage. As the knowledge of the epic Muse is about the past, present, and future, Mnemosyne warrants the transition from the status of a mortal initiate to a divine status promised to the deceased. We find traces of such a double initiatory progression, completed by poetic memory, in other gold lamellae.

3. Modalities of funerary initiation

From an enunciative point of view, the discourse of the long poetic texts like the Hipponion lamella consists of a series of injunctive and performative indications, expressed in the second person and consequently addressed to the man or woman who carries the lamella. At the center of the text, the deceased appears in the first person in a declaration of identity which approximately corresponds to the utterance in the short texts.

That means that these “I” statements are supposed to be spoken directly to the wearer of the lamella; the “you” statements framing the “I” declaration offer in some way the context of enunciation of the statements assumed by the “I”. One could imagine that the text was spoken by an officiant (he or she) during the funeral, or the on the enunciative level—the statement as a password, supposed to be spoken at the moment in which the soul would find out its way through Hades.

3.1. Thourioi: Purity and divine felicity

Without going into the details of texts which would require as thorough a commentary as the one presented here, we shall address only the spatial and temporal aspects of the itinerary traced out in the longest putting-into-discourse among those found in the “Timpone piccolo.” Enunciated in the first person and dating from about the middle of the fourth century, this text sketches a route organized into three phrases.

Pure, I come from among the pure, o sovereign of the Underworld,
Eukles and Eubouleus and all of you, immortal gods;
for I declare that I belong to your blessed race.
But the Moira overwhelms me, and other immortal gods
[ . . . ] and lightning from the stars.
From the grievous circle, hard to endure, I have flown
And on my swift feet I have dashed toward the desired crown,
into the lap of the sovereign, of the queen of the Underworld, I have sunk.
“O fortunate one, o blessed one, rather than dead, you shall be a god.”
A kid, I have fallen into milk.

(English version from the French translation by L. Brisson, slightly modified by C. Calame)

Enunciated at the beginning of the discourse, the central phase of the proposed spatial-temporal itinerary corresponds to the present of the enunciation. Arriving in Hades (érkhomai, line 1) in a state of exceptional purity, the speaker resorts to a feminine form, probably referring to the soul, to present himself to the gods of the Underworld: the queen of the chthonian world, easily identified as Persephone, Eukles (an avatar of Hades), and finally Eubouleus, identified by different parallels sometimes with Dionysus, and sometimes with Pluto. [
64] Invoked in the vocative in the two shorter but similar texts also found in the “Timpone piccolo,” these three deities are combined with “other immortal gods.” Before this divine constellation, the speaker-soul declares himself in a well-marked speech act (eúkhomai, line 3) which refers both to the utterance which he is making and to the extra-discursive. He solemnly declares that he belongs to the same blessed race (ólbion génos, line 3) as the deities invoked. The soul thus seems to have direct access to the privileged domain reserved in Hades for those who can claim divine ancestry.

Composed in simple rhythmic prose much like the conclusion of the “Timpone piccolo” text, the central part of the short text takes up the formula “A kid, you have fallen into milk” in the second person, relating this enigmatic plunge either to the moment of death itself, or more likely to the ordeal (páthēma) which has just been mentioned: the moment when “from a man, you have become a god.” No matter which prior moment is meant in the ritual reference (to which we shall return very soon), the spatial-temporal itinerary proposed to the deceased at the moment when his soul leaves the light of sun seems, by its rejoicing in the present, to follow again the ternary sequence “separation—marginal period—aggregation” of the rite of passage, and thus access to a new status, that of immortal, anticipated by the first ritual gesture.

3.2. Pelinna: Falling into milk and metaphor

In an earlier study I tried to follow the spatial-temporal course proposed in these homologous texts dating from the end of the fourth century, through the phenomena of their la mise en discours. Here is the translation of the more complete text:

Now, you are dead, now you are born, thrice blessed, on this day.
Say to Persephone that it is Bakkhios himself who delivered you.
A bull, you have fallen into milk;
immediately in the milk you sprang out:
a ram, you have fallen into milk.
Wine is your privilege, o blessed one,
and below the earth the initiatory rites of the other blessed await you.

In an anonymous address to the lamella’s bearer, the double text from Pelinna contains utterances composed in the third person and in dactylic meter. Immediately related to the past moment of death and to the “becoming” linked to it (in forms of the aorist), the text insists heavily on the present of its enunciation, “now” (nûn, line 1), “on this day” (hámati tôide, line 1). The present moment is linked not just to the possession of wine, but especially to an introduction to Persephone. Brought about by a liberating movement linked to intervention by Bakkhios, whom we can identify with Dionysus, the invitation to speak to Persephone is enunciated in the injunctive infinitive (eipeîn, line 2), just as in Petelia and in Pharsalus. The text of the direct address itself takes up the formula which closes the longer text from Thourioi and repeats it two or three times in rhythmic prose. In this incantatory movement of repetition with variations, the ram is substituted for the kid: “a ram, you have fallen into milk.” This ritual utterance is preceded by “bull, you have sprung into milk”; doubled on one of the two lamellae, its wording evokes not only incantatory procedure, but also a springing forth which is found in other initiatory texts. [

Presented in the past (éthores, line 3 and 4; épeses, line 5), the immersion in milk corresponds both temporally and causally (hóti . . . éluse, line 2) with liberation by a Bakkhios evoking Dionysus Lysius. [73] So the temporal outline of the lamella alludes to a ritual preceding death. Just as in the text from the “Timpone grande,” the moment of earthly death coincides practically with the present moment, this correspondence brings about a sort of temporal oxymoron in the introductory expression: “now you died” (nûn éthanes, line 1). The present moment of enunciation of the gold text also coincides with the address directed to the deceased as “thrice blessed” (trisólbie, line 1). While evoking the double makarismos found, for example, at the end of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, this description already announces the future reserved for the interlocutor-you of the text: initiatory rites (télea, line 7) will ensure him “below earth” the same destiny enjoyed by the other “blessed” (ólbioi, line 7), as in the Thourioi lamellae. [74] Its ring structure gives textual confirmation to the temporal relationship woven in this way between the introduction to Persephone and the near future reserved for the deceased. At the very center of the discursive circle are references to a past initiation through Bacchic immersion in milk. Composed and pronounced in rhythmic prose, this reference takes on the role of a súnthēma, such as the password proffered by those initiated into the mysteries of Eleusis.

Even though the double text from Pelinna is unfortunately sparing with precise spatial indications, the funeral course sketched out by it presupposes a previous initiatory passage, as in the Thourioi texts. This rite of passage takes place during the life of the man or woman who has now passed into the other world; in the case of the Pelinna lamellae, it is explicitly attached to religious practices controlled by Dionysus the bacchant. Through association of the deceased with the other blessed who have also been liberated by Bakkhios, probably by drinking wine, the end of the initiation route traced by the poetic and declarative text from Pelinna evokes for us, through a previous rite of passage, the group of mústai and bacchants into which the deceased from Hipponion is integrated, after she has quenched her funerary thirst with the waters of Mnemosyne’s lake. In the Petelia text, too, Bacchic initiation prior to death is required for a ritual and the initiatory access to the privileged realm of the “glorious” and it’s corresponding status.

4. From Bacchus to Orpheus: Comparisons and contrasts

4.1. Original sin and Christian expiation

Through the works of the great historians of Greek religion in the twentieth century, and those of champions of the Hellenic concepts of the soul’s destiny, divided among Christian and Puritan asceticism, oriental mysticisms, and platonically-inspired philosophical eschatologies, a dóxa was quickly established. In this perspective, any new document written on gold which saw the light of day could only be placed within the Orphic sphere of influence. The Hipponion lamella itself was first offered to learned readers as the gift of a new “Orphic text.” As a result, among the roughly forty studies devoted to this document since its publication in 1974, the titles of more than a third contain the term Orphic, rarely placed between quotation marks, as the most basic interpretive caution would seem to demand. [77] Needless to say, the single appearance of the letters orphik[with what seems to be a mention of Dionysus (dio[) on a bone lamella found at Olbia fed new speculations from the very moment of its publication in 1978. The inscription of these few letters provided the Orphic dóxa with what was considered irrefutable proof. [78] But in using these few crudely engraved words as “parallels” to the connected poetic texts of the gold lamellae, we forget that these bone lamellae, found in a sanctuary north of the Olbia Agora, have nothing funerary about them; indeed, we know nothing of the use of these graffiti, and consequently nothing of the nature of their pragmatic dimension.

4.2. Iconographic representations of the Underworld

If we limit it just to the terms used in the lamellae-passports which come from cities of Magna Graecia and from the continent, it is definitely the figure of Bacchus which can best provide a common denominator among all these ritually-related texts, and among the spatial-temporal itineraries they propose to the deceased.

In most of these representations, the young Orpheus appears with the traits and in the posture of an Apollo with a lyre; he is usually to the left of the aedicule which forms the center of the image and which shelters Persephone and Hades. That is the case, for example, in the image on one of the two faces of a volute crater in Naples which lists the proper names of most of the actors and actresses of the scene represented (Figure 6a). [80] At the center of the image, the young Persephone offers a phiale to a mature Pluto. To the left of the naískos, on three superimposed frames, Megara faces two Heraclids portrayed as adolescents; then, in the middle position, are two Erinyes designated as Poinaí (Punishments), called that because they are goddesses of vengeance and expiation; finally on the lower register Sisyphus is easily recognized, rolling his rock under the eye of a Fury, recognizable from the branch and the whip she carries, and a young Hermes whose gaze connects him to the scene painted “below” the naískos. To the right of the little aedicule, whose roof is supported by two Ionic columns and two caryatids, and symmetric to the left part, the young Pelops faces the charioteer Myrtilos, leaning against one of the wheels of his broken chariot, while a girl (perhaps Hippodameia) tries to attract his attention; below, in the middle level, one can identify Aeacus and Rhadamanthys, both duly named; finally the right part of the lower register is once again taken up by three figures, this time all female, of water bearers generally identified with the Danaids. Once again in the lower register, but in a central position and below the aedicule, Herakles is shown; framed on the one side by the triad with Sisyphus in its center and on the other side by the group of three hydrophoroi, the hero is fighting a three-headed Cerberus and a girl riding a hippocamp. Finally, in the middle level, the relationship among the various scenes with the divine couple sheltered by the naískos is ensured both by an Orpheus in oriental dress playing the kithara (Figure 6b) and by a Triptolemos with a scepter, whose seat faces the aedicule while his gaze is turned toward Rhadamanthys, who carries a scepter topped by a bird.

calame-memory fig6a

Figure 6a. Apulian red-figure volute crater; side A: underworld scene with Hades and Persephone seated in their palace. Circle of the Lycurgus Painter, ca. 350–340 BC.

Figure 6b. Side A: detail, Orpheus in the underworld.

Figure 7. Apulian red-figure vase fragment: Orpheus in the underworld. Unattributed, ca. 350 BC.

Figure 8a. Apulian red-figure volute crater; side A: underworld scene, Hades and Persephone in their palace, with Dionysus at left. The Darius Painter, ca. 340–330 BC.

Figure 8b. Side B: youth in naískos, surrounded by youths and women.

4.3. Orpheus and Dionysus as musicians

All of the scenes cited so far represent either permanent guests or occasional visitors to the Underworld: residents of Hades’ realm, not of the Elysian Fields or of the Isles of the Blessed! To see in these iconographic representations a confirmation of the spatial itinerary suggested in the texts of the gold lamellae would be to give in to the constant abuse of the comparative method, retaining only similarities and ignoring their differences and uniqueness. When Orpheus is represented, he is acting in precisely that domain that the deceased souls of Hipponion, Petelia, and Pharsalus seek to avoid. In addition, both by his place within the composition and by his appearance, Orpheus is found in a situation strongly related to Hades and Persephone, the couple under the naískos, either directly or as in the Karlsruhe crater and especially in the Ruvo fragment, mediated through Hecate, who lights the step (danced?) of the singer playing his kithara as he moves toward the aedicule: Orpheus accompanies no hypothetical mústai or disciples, but he does make the most of his qualities as a poet of divine origin and as the hero who founded the basic forms of song attributed to him in that classical tradition which sometimes makes him the son of Calliope. Orpheus communicates with Persephone and her spouse, sometimes with Hades alone, through the art of the Muses, as on an Apulian amphora in the Hermitage Museum in what was formerly Leningrad (Figure 9). [86] Without the actors and actresses of the scene being named, and without any edifice which might evoke an Underworld dwelling, Orpheus wearing a tiara and once again dressed in a rich oriental mantle sings and accompanies himself on the kithara, facing Hades seated on a throne and with a scepter in his hand, while two women witness the scene, one holding a fan and the other holding a parasol and a phiale.

Figure 9. Apulian red-figure amphora; side A: underworld scene; detail, Orpheus before Hades. Attributed to the Patera Painter, ca. 330 BC.

Whether they show Orpheus or Dionysus confronting Hades and Persephone, the Underworld scenes from Apulian ceramics are related to the epic narrative; they paint characters who belong to heroic legend. Whatever the role that either Orpheus or Dionysus assumes in them, they are foreign to any description of a ritual addressed to mortals. They offer a “mythological” representation of the Underworld which does not correspond in any way with the image governing the initiatory itinerary suggested by the gold funerary lamellae.

4.4. Dionysus, excluding Orpheus

And so from iconography we must return to the texts. In so doing, we return from “mythological” and narrative scenes involving gods and heroes to the performative description ritual practices involving mortals.

The objects placed in the ritual basket have of course been associated with the legend of the toys the Titans offered little Dionysus, who was amused as well by the choral dances of the armed Curetai, just before the sons of Ouranos tore the child apart. A top, a bull-roarer, dolls, and apples from the “soft-voiced” Hesperides are mentioned in the two dactylic hexameters attributed by Clement of Alexandria to Orpheus of Thrace, the poet of initiation; for this Father of the Church, these objects (to which he adds knucklebones and a mirror) are the súmbola of the Orphic initiation ritual. [91] So it is only very late that the narrative (itself quite late) of the Titans dismembering young Dionysus-Zagreus and his reassembly by Apollo is placed in relationship with the apparently ritual and initiatory objects whose enumeration is attributed to the founding poet Orpheus. While it brings together Demeter and Dionysus in a collaboration which, through the intervention of Eubouleus himself, recalls the collaboration of Persephone and Hades in certain ritual texts given by the funerary lamellae, the papyrus of Gurôb sets forth religious prescriptions where Orpheus, at least in the current state of the document, plays no role at all! On the other hand, we must remember the presence in the text of Gurôb of Rhea, the mother of Demeter and Zeus’ ambassador to the goddess in the corresponding Homeric Hymn, or the role attributed to Eubouleus, a native and inhabitant of Eleusis who, according to the inscriptions, receives the offerings along with Demeter, as well as the use of a password (súnthēma), and the use of a ritual basket (kálathos) in a ritual context where sight and vision seem to play a central role; these four ritual instructions call to mind the sparse information we have on how the Mysteries devoted to Demeter and Persephone were conducted on the borders of Attica. [92]

5. Passwords for a collective funerary identity

Through the orientation of their spatial-temporal configuration, the texts of most of the gold lamellae ensure ritual passage to a final condition and status. The axial point of this regime of temporality is found in a glorious future which will take place in eternity, concomitantly with the space constituted by the Elysian Fields. And so, no transmigration of souls, and no “Orphic” reincarnation! But rather a very prosaic eschatological course, promised through the rhythm of a rite of passage to male and female citizens, the bourgeois of small cities, and that at the conclusion of an initiatory itinerary, as prerequisite probably within a mystery cult.

In ending this trip through concepts and spatio-temporal configurations related to a “pleasant” eschatology, we must stress the central ritual role played by these texts which present practical instructions in a poetic form, placed under the sign of Memory, these poetic speeches, ensure a status of practical regime of truth to the spatial-temporal regime thus configured. In the Hipponion gold lamella, for example, not only is the bearer’s declaration of identity situated in the present, where enunciated time, time of narration, and time of enunciation (which coincides with the moment of physical death) coincide, but this present also corresponds to the intermediate stage of the course proposed, itself divided into three spatial and temporal phases. This means that in the constant tension between past and near future already discussed concerning other practical Greek spatial-temporal regimes, the chanted recitation of the inscribed words, because of its “performative” nature, is capable of accomplishing the ritual transformation. With its rhapsodic rhythm, poetic composition can thus realize the eschatological expectations of citizens who are initiates and who carry the lamellae, quite separate from any Orphic mysticism which our contemporary paradigm of mystical recomposition proposes to the modern interpreter of these texts.

But this enunciative transformation from an individual ipse to a collective idem through the powers of poetic discourse can come about only through a prior initiatory temporal path. Inserted into the calendar time of a Dionysiac mystery cult, the initiatory course is intended to confer on the time of the individual life and on its unstable ipséité a collective dimension capable of establishing it in a community mêmeté, with a spatial-temporal dimension brought about by the eschatological promise. A collective idem-identity, since male and female initiates will be admitted to the same group of heroes, the glorious, and the blessed, through words of identity pronounced at the moment of death under the sign of Memory; and this is permanent, a form of immortalization realized in a specific time and space, separated from any idea of metempsychosis, reincarnation, or resurrection, and thus separated from any return to the world of mortals…The mystical perspective opened up by pronouncing the texts of the gold lamellae leads to a spatial-temporal configuration whose axial point and geographic anchor is no longer in the past, but in a practical future, set in immortalizing eternity of a poetic memory.

This testing of Greek funerary texts thus leads us to reformulate Ricoeur’s investigation of the hermeneutic composition of the “I” and of the self; it invites us to reorient this study toward the spatial and temporal configuration of an idem shared by several individuals. No doubt this need for community can be attributed to the aspirations and nostalgia found within this study, which still leans heavily on the paradigm of social thought from the 1960s, and on the implementation, most often chaotic and repressive, of a Maoism which was socially generous in its priniciples.

On one of the Fortunate Isles, gently cooled by Ocean’s winds and ornamented with beautiful flowers, under eternal sunshine and free from trials and worries, live the thrice-blessed who rejected the temptations of crime and injustice in this life. Their days, free from tears, are spent in the company of those favored by the immortals. Their occupations are songs, hymns, races, concerts, games, or else they sit in a shade perfumed by offerings made to the gods by those on earth, and retrace their memories of the past in their conversations with one another. Saturn governs them, helped by Rhadamanthys and perhaps by Aeacus, who once ruled on the disputes of the gods themselves. In Erebos, on the other hand, where perpetual night reigns, criminals condemned to eternal oblivion are prey to the torments of worry which will never cease. Ancient Greece, in its eschatological hopes is apparently not the land of the eternal return…

Who could mistake the progression of ideas here? In Homer, the entire realm of shadows is a place of suffering. Pleasures and pains are purely physical. There are no judges for the actions of this life. Aeacus is not named, Rhadamanthys dwells in Elysium, not in the realm of the dead, and Minos’ jurisdiction is only accidental arbitration over those passing through. Pluto punishes murders when he is told of them, but his purpose is not to punish crime: he merely gives in to the invocations of those who implore him, and gives them what they ask, not dealing out justice but rather granting this prayer as he would any other. He does not simply await humans in the Underworld, but rather sends the Furies against the living on earth, just as Jupiter and Juno send Iris and Mercury down to pursue their enemies.

In Pindar, the Underworld is different, a place of deserved punishment and reward; punishments and pleasures are intellectual and moral. There is a tribunal presided by Saturn, the same Saturn whom Homer shows us deposed by Jupiter and covered in chains.


[ back ] 1. The neologism is taken from Hartog 2003:28; cf also 119-127..

[ back ] 2. The old fantasies of immortality and reincarnation which have been fed by the magical reproductive perspectives of enucleation of the ovum and genomic transplant are discussed by Atlan 1999:30-37; these fantasies are maintained by such organizations as the American group Life Extension Foundation.

[ back ] 3. Miller and Miller 1996:3.

[ back ] 4. In this regard, two collections published by Moreau (ed.) 1992 and by Padilla (ed.) 1999, are significant, as they offer the entire gamut of uses and abuses of the semi-formal category of “initiation rite” as an interpretive key less for ritual practices than for narratives in the Greek tradition; on how this vague operative idea was formed and on its application to various manifestations of Greek culture, see remarks I prepared in two volumes: 1992 (II):103-118 and 1999:278-312).

[ back ] 5. Found in Petelia, near Croton, and dating from the first half of the fourth century BC, the first gold lamella (B 1 Zuntz = 476 F Bernabé) was reported in 1834; see Pugliese Carratelli 2001:67-71, bibliography in Bernabé 1999:61n14. The various texts have just been catalogued and collected in the provisional edition by Riedweg 1998:389-398. Here I follow the numbering proposed by my colleague from Zurich, adding the order number which will be that adopted by A. Bernabé in his edition of the Poetae epici Graeci. Testimonia et fragmenta, Pars II. Orphicorum et Orphicis similium testimonia et fragmenta, Munich (K. G. Saur) 2004 and 2005, vol.2; for now, see the edition of these different texts given by Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:257-281(for an exhaustive bibliography see 343-371).

[ back ] 6. Efforts to organize the various reconstructed texts of the so-called Orphic lamellae into a stemma going back to an archetype were presented by West 1975:229-230 and 235-236, as well as by Janko 1984:98-100; most recently, Riedweg 2002:468-477, proposed a reconstitution of the Hieròs Lógos allegedly at the origin of the most narrative texts. From the point of view of historical time, the arkhḗ for us would be the Hipponion lamella which will serve as the foundation for the analysis proposed here: B 10 Graf = 474 F Bernabé; bibliography in Bernabé 1999:60n13 and commentary in Pugliese Carratelli 2001:39-68, with an updated bibliography in the French translation of 2003:33-58.

[ back ] 7. See chapter III, section 2.1 above, with n9.

[ back ] 8. On this “performative” aspect of the expression of the lyric I, see references given in chapter III, nn3 and 41.

[ back ] 9. B 1 Zuntz = 476 F Bernabé (see n5 above); B 2 Zuntz = 477 F Bernabé (bibliography: Bernabé 1999:61n15); B 11 Riedweg = 475 F Bernabé; texts and references in Riedweg 1998:394-397, as well as Bernabé 1999:54-55, for B 11; see also the synthesis table developed by Graf 1993:257-258.

[ back ] 10. Herodotus, Proem: Herodótou ( . . .) historíēs apódeixis hḗde; on the process of sphragís, see chapter III, n41 above, and on deixis, chapter I, n33 above. It is Achilles who imagines for Patroclus (and for himself) a “high burial mound” (Iliad 23.126). The document allows no reading other than ērion. A number of ways have been tried to correct this expression, among them the thrîon correction proposed by West 1975:231, which could make sense by reference to the physical form of the lamella, which is indeed that of a leaf, though not necessarily a fig leaf. One should read commentary proposed by Pugliese Carratelli 1976:458-459 on these various corrections, but without necessarily following it in its suggestion that ēríon be understood as a bad interpretation of an original sêma (sign and not tomb), which would make of the lamella a sphragís, a “signature” (Pugliese Carratelli 1975: 228-229); returning to the reading, the Italian scholar proposed in 1993:23-24, the correction tóde ierón. By referring to the thread of Memory, the reading e(í)rion conceived by Musti 1984:79-83, goes along with the meaning proposed here, on which see also Baumgarten 1998:92 with n94. Philological and metrical analysis of the text in Tessier 1987.

[ back ] 11. To good effect, Sourvinou-Inwood 1995:127-128, bases his argument on a passage from the Constitution of the Athenians (55.2-3) attributed to Aristotle, to show that eríon takes on the meaning of “grave” as memorial. Arguments in favor of reading érgon (see Guarducci 1985:387-389) seem weaker to me, a correction which hardly represents a lectio facilior.

[ back ] 12. In line 2, I retain the reading euḗreas, and do not go along with the correction to heurḗseis proposed, for example, by West 1975:232.

[ back ] 13. For the construction of eîmi without a preposition, see Odyssey 1.176, 188, and 194; and for the form eîs, see Hesiod Works and Days 208; see Pugliese Carratelli 1974:11 and 2001a:47(2003:41).

[ back ] 14. See chapter I, n21 above.

[ back ] 15. B 1, 1 Zuntz = 476 F, 1 Bernabé in contrast with B 2, 1 Zuntz = 477 F, 1 Bernabé, but also B 3-8, 2 Zuntz = 478-483 F, 2 Bernabé, B 9, 2 Graf = 484 F, 2 Bernabé, and B 11, 4 Riedweg = 475 F, 4 Bernabé (text conjectural). On the favorable values attributed to the right, see the numerous references given by Pugliese Carratelli 2001a:56-57(2003:49-51), following the distinction pointed out by Aristotle fr. 200 Rose, and attributed to the Pythagoreans; see also Metaphysics 986a22-30 where the Pythagorean right is associated with light, while the left has characteristics of darkness.

[ back ] 16. Interpretations mentioned by Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:44-49; see especially Guarducci 1974:18-21. See also Edmonds 2004:46-52. In several Indo-European cultures, paradise is illuminated by eternal light: cf. Lincoln 1991:24-29.

[ back ] 17. Plato Cratylus 399de; on this, see study by Jouanna 1987, along with additional information given by Pugliese Carratelli 2001a:58-61 (2003:51-54), and for Homeric poetry, Clarke 1999:140-148. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, it falls to Osiris, whom Herodotus already likens to Dionysus, to give to the deceased the cool water which will revive them: cf. Merkelbach 1999:2-7.

[ back ] 18. Pausanias 9.39.5-9; also the parody of a consultation given in Aristophanes Clouds 483-508 in an oracular katabasis already mentioned by Herodotus 8.134.1; cf. Bonnechère 1998:445-447 and 457-459, along with a series of bibliographic references on the oracle of Trophonios.

[ back ] 19. Plato Republic 620d-621b (see also Aristophanes Frogs 185-187); the differences between the itinerary which Plato imagines and the one proposed in the Hipponion lamella are well defined by Bernabé 1991:226-231.

[ back ] 20. See especially the cosmogonic poem VAT 8917/KAR 307, re-edited by Livingstone 1989:99-102. The parallel was proposed by Pugliese Carratelli, 2001a:59(2003:52).

[ back ] 21. Hesiod Works 122-126 and 140-142; Heraclitus fr. 22 B 63 Diels-Kranz; Plato Phaedo 107d-108c; see also Plutarch fr. 178 Sandbach; see above chapter II, n19 above, and West 1978:186-187.

[ back ] 22. Iliad 8.366 (see also 14.165 for Zeus, or 20.35 for Hermes); B 2, 6 Zuntz = 477 F, 2 Bernabé and B 11, 10-11 Riedweg = 475 F, 10-11 Bernabé.

[ back ] 23. Eîpon, as an imperative form of aorist éeipa (see Pindar Olympian 6.92) compared to the infinitive as imperative eipeîn which initiates the same declaration in B 1, 6 Zuntz = 476 F, 6 Bernabé as well as B 2, 8 Zuntz = 477 F, 2 Bernabé (see also B 11, 12 Riedweg = 475 F, 12 Bernabé).

[ back ] 24. Hesiod Theogony 126-128 and 132-138 (cf. 685 and Works 548), who describes Ouranos as asteróeis; on Asterios or Asterion, see Hesiod fr. 140 Merkelbach-West and Pseudo-Apollodorus Library 3.1.1-3, along with remarks by Calame 1996b:194-195, 210-211, and 220; see also Morand 2001:222-223.

[ back ] 25. Hesiod Theogony 726-728 and 736-739 = 807-810: the structure of this passage on the imprisonment of the Titans in Tartarus is explained by West 1966:356-359, who considers lines 807-810 authentic and in their proper place (see also West 1966:363-364). In Hippocrates’ treatise on the environment (On Airs 6.2-3 and 15.1-2), the term aḗr designates air saturated with humidity and which light from the sun can illuminate.

[ back ] 26. Empedokles fr. 31 B 6 Diels-Kranz = 150 Bollack; cf. Diogenes Laertius 8.76; Iliad 3.275-280; on this, see the study by de Cerri 1998 (though I do not necessarily support all his equations, sometimes made too quickly); see also Rudhardt 1971:39-44.

[ back ] 27. Iliad 8.13 (see also Theogony 119, 721, 736 = 807, etc.) and Iliad 15.191 (see also 23.51); see also Homeric Hymn to Demeter 482, with the variant eurṓeis “moldy”: see Richardson 1974:315. On the possible correction mentioned here, cf. Cassio 1987; other proposed inclusions and corrections are given in the apparatus criticus by Riedweg 1998:396-7; in the incomplete text of B 11, 11 Riedweg = 475 F, 11 Bernabé, he suggests reading orph[o]éento, with a meaning similar to that of ēeróentos.

[ back ] 28. See Iliad 4.461 and 4.503, 6.11, etc., in reference to B 1, 14 Zuntz = 476 F, 14 Bernabé; cf. Guarducci 1985:391-393; Theogony 682, 736, and 807.

[ back ] 29. Iliad 22.108, Odyssey 6.285, etc.; cf. Plato Cratylus 398d. Unattested in the future, the form eleoûsin would also imply a construction eleéō with the dative toi understood as the pronoun form in the second person, while in correspondence with autoí in B 1, 10 Zuntz= 476 F, 10 Bernabé, the form of the pronoun is in the third person.

[ back ] 30. Zeus Chthonios as early as Works 463 (see Theogony 767, for Hades); see later Aeschylus Persians 628 and 632, Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 1606, Euripides Alcestis 237 (for Hades itself), etc. In strong contrast, hupokhthónios is attested only once at this time, in Works 141, to describe the “blessed” below; cf. Pugliese Carratelli 1974:112-113, and 1976:461-462. The iota preceding the expression hupò khthoníōi in the text remains unexplained, especially given the dactylic meter, which obliges us to read the adjective in the dative.

[ back ] 31. See especially Odyssey 4.561-565, and Pindar Olympian 2.68-75 (cf. n51 and n53 below) or Plato Gorgias 524a; parallels to the image of the path: Feyerabend 1984:1-10, who would replace kleeinoí with the form kleitán te (to refer to a path), and Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:78-80. On the verb form érkheai, see Iliad 10.385; in this same line 15, the reading sù pión is far from certain (see the apparatus of these texts presented by Riedweg and Bernabé).

[ back ] 32. Aeschylus Prometheus 834; Sophocles Trachiniae 19; Pindar Pythian 1.31; B 1, 11 Zuntz = 476 F, 11 Bernabé; see also B 11, 2 Riedweg = 475 F, 2 Bernabé. Whatever the status of souls revived by Persephone in fr. 133 Maehler of Pindar (cf. n53 below), reinterpreted in terms of palingenesis by Plato Meno 81a-c, they are honored by men, for all eternity, as “respectable heroes” (hḗrōes hagnoí): cf. n54 below.

[ back ] 33. Description of the situation of the dig and of funeral items in Foti 1974 (with corresponding plates); cf. also Pugliese Carratelli 2001a:44-45 (2003:39-40). On the social status of deceased men and women who carried lamellae, see Graf 1993:255-256.

[ back ] 34. B 2, 9 Zuntz = 477 F, 2 Bernabé and B 1, 8 Zuntz = 476 F, 8 Bernabé; see also B 11, 2 Riedweg = 475 F, 2 Bernabé where the word hérōs in the masculine is found: cf. Bernabé 1999:57.

[ back ] 35. P 1-2, 3 and 5 = 485 F-486 F Bernabé: cf. Tsantsanoglou and Parassoglou 1987:3-4.

[ back ] 36. Consult remarks and bibliographic information I gave on this subject in 2000b:34-45; see also 1998a:100-107.

[ back ] 37. B 3-8 Zuntz = 478-483 F Bernabé, and B 9 Graf = 484 F Bernabé (here B 6 Zuntz = 481 F Bernabé); note that one of these texts, unfortunately one whose archaeological situation is unknown, could show one mark of gender: uátēr instead of the masculine huiós: cf. Pugliese Carratelli 1993:43.

[ back ] 38. See references and careful commentary by Zuntz 1971:370-6, and by Pugliese Carratelli 1993:45.

[ back ] 39. On the exclamatory infinitive with optative sense, see Humbert 1960:125-126, and on the dialectical form piém, see Cassio 1994:184-192. On the description aeíroos cf. n50 below.

[ back ] 40. B 9, 5 Graf = 484 F, 4 Bernabé, compare to B 1, 7 Zuntz = 476 F, 7 Bernabé and B 11, 15 Riedweg = 475 F, 15 Bernabé; cf. B 2, 9 Zuntz = 477 F, 9 Bernabé: cf. n22 above.

[ back ] 41. SEG XXVIII (1978), 528 = 466 T Bernabé; the immortalizing uses of the brightness of fire are analyzed by Scarpi 1987:211-213; see Homeric Hymn to Demeter 235-255 and Euripides Heraclidae 853-858 and 910-918.

[ back ] 42. Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 1650-1662; cf. Calame 1998c:345-354. On the various (generally Orphic!) interpretations given to this dual descendence, see Betz 1998:404-411.

[ back ] 43. Heraclitus fr. 22 B 14 Diels-Kranz = 587 T Bernabé. On initiates into the Mysteries of Eleusis, see Euripides Herakles 613 (tà mustôn órgia) as well as Herodotus 8.65.4 and Aristophanes Frogs 370 (mústai khoroí, a complement to the teletaí celebrated for Dionysus): cf. Burkert 1987:7-10, and n46 below.

[ back ] 44. SEG XXXIV (1984), 338 and XLI (1991), 401 A and B; on the lamellae from Pella, see references given by Riedweg 1998:391, and by Dickie 1995:82-83, who see in the form Persephónēi not a dative dedication, but an address to the deity, similar to the one mentioned in the Pelinna lamellae; see also the Pherai document cited in n55 below.

[ back ] 45. Pausanias 2.2.6-7 and 2.7.5-6; see references given on this by Burkert 1987:21-22, who a bit too quickly presents the Dionysiac mysteries of Magna Graecia as equivalent to the rites of Eleusis, and see also commentaries I cited in my study of 1996:24-26.

[ back ] 46. DGE 792 Schwyzer = LSCGS 120 Sokolowski, along with references I gave in 1996d:25n21. We must remember that the members of the chorus in Euripides Cretans (fr. 472.9-15 Kannicht) are defined as mústai and bacchants for Zeus on Ida, Zagreus, the Mountain Mother, and the Curetai!

[ back ] 47. Euripides fr. 477 Nauck2 and Hippolytus 24-28 and 952-955, compare for example with Aeschylus Seven Against Thebes 497-499 (a metaphoric use relating to the madness of warriors) or with Herodotus 4.79.5 (thiasus of Dionysus). See reply on this given by Pugliese Carratelli 1976:462-464, to West 1975:234-236, who refuses to automatically associate bacchants with Dionysus.

[ back ] 48. B 3-8 Zuntz = 478 F-483 F Bernabé and B 9 Graf = 484 F Bernabé. West 1975:235-236, could not resist the temptation to reconstruct an archetype!

[ back ] 49. References to this distinctive trait of the initiation ritual in my study from 1999:285-288.

[ back ] 50. Marked also by a glowing cypress, the right-hand spring mentioned in the short texts is described either as aiénaos, or as aieíroos: cf. Works 478, for the first, and Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 469-470, for an adjective similar to the second. Especially Bernabé 1991:226-227, makes the unwarranted connection with the spring of Lethe mentioned by Plato Republic 621a-b (but also cf. 230-231): see n19 above.

[ back ] 51. Odyssey 11.14-50 and 568-571 especially, contrasting for Menelaus with 4.561-569 (cf. n31 above); see also Odyssey 24.1-23, where Hermes leads the souls of the candidates beyond the Ocean River to the “asphodel meadow” (cf. 11.539 and 573) where eídōla such as Achilles, Patroclus, Agamemnon and others await them…; see especially Sourvinou-Inwood 1995:17-92; see also Brown 1994:397-401.

[ back ] 52. Works 156-173: cf. chapter II, section 2.1.4 above.

[ back ] 53. Pindar Olympian 2.57-80 (cf. n31 above); see commentary by Lloyd-Jones 1985:249-279, who connects the representation of the afterlife found in this epinician with the images of it given by the gold lamellae texts (especially Hipponion); these are not necessarily “Orphically” inspired, as Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:229-242, tend to reaffirm. A similar representation of the afterlife is also presupposed by frr. 129-130, as well as by fr. 133 Maehler (cf. n32 above), also of Pindar.

[ back ] 54. B 1, 11 Zuntz = 476 F, 11 Bernabé and B 11, 2 Riedweg = 475 F, 2 Bernabé: B 10, 16 Graf = 474 F, 16 Bernabé. On the heroic status promised by the text, see especially information given haphazardly by Scarpi 1989:207-216, as well as n32 above.

[ back ] 55. Text from Riedweg 1998:390 and commented, with bibliographic information, in Tsantsanoglou 1997:114-117, in Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:201-208, and in Pugliese Carratelli 2001:123-124 (2003:127-128); editio princeps: Chrysostomou 1994:126-139 (on the archaeological site concerned). Súmbola: cf. B 11, 19 Riedweg = 475 F, 19 Bernabé, along with Bernabé 1999:58-59, who in this context proposed reading phe[rsephonē in the next line. See n44 above. Clarification on the right- or left-hand position of the spring to avoid in Pugliese Carratelli 1974:119-120.

[ back ] 56. The symbolic practice of a bone shared between two guests is described by the scholiast to Euripides Medea 613 (Schwartz 1966 II 175); on this, see commentary by Burkert 1999:68-69, as well as Tortorelli Ghidini 1991. Dionysus as a young adult: Homeric Hymn 7.3-4; on Brimo, see Apollonius Rhodius 3.861-863 and 1211, as well as Graf 1985:130-131.

[ back ] 57. As Riedweg noted in 1998:362, the expressions hieroì leimônes and íthi are found, respectively, in the lamellae of Thourioi (A 4, 6 Zuntz = 487 F, 6 Bernabé) and of Rome (A 5, 4 Zuntz = 491 F, 4 Bernabé). On the location of meadows of love and meadows of the blessed, see references given in Calame 1996a: 174-177.

[ back ] 58. A 2-3, 4 Zuntz = 489-490 F, 4 Bernabé; Pindar Olympian 2.57-58; on the debated meaning of this passage, see especially Lloyd-Jones 1985:252-256.

[ back ] 59. Clement of Alexandria Protrepticus 21.2, pace Burkert 1987:46 and 94, who lumps together súmbola and súnthēma (cf. n93 below); remember that Plutarch De Consolatione 611d, recalls concerning the survival of the soul the mustikà súmbola tôn perì tòn Diónuson orgiasmôn.

[ back ] 60. B 1 Zuntz = 476 F, 7 Bernabé. For references on the history of concepts of the rite of passage and the initiation ritual, and for a critique on the overly systematic use of these categories, see my study of 1999:280-289, and chapter III, section 2.2 above.

[ back ] 61. Plato Phaedo 69c (with corresponding commentary by Olympiodoros, p. 48, 20 Norv.) = Orph. fr. 434 F III Bernabé (= fr. 5 and 235 Kern); see also Gorgias 493a-b = Orph. fr. 434 F II Bernabé, Republic 614b-d (with the two paths, one on the right leading toward the heavens, the other on the left leading down below the earth, that souls take after their judgment in the “myth” of Er), as well as Aristophanes Frogs 145-158, for the distinction between the mire where the unjust languish and the paradise reserved for the memuēménoi! See Edmonds 2004: 87-88, 111-158, and 205-207.

[ back ] 62. Poseidippos Epigram 705.21-25 Lloyd-Jones-Parsons; cf. n44 above for the Pella lamella, along with commentaries by Dickie 1995:83-4, and by Rossi 1996:61-2.

[ back ] 63. Texts enunciated in the first person: A 1 Zuntz = 488 F Bernabé (here) and A 2-3 Zuntz = 489-490 F Bernabé; in the second person: A 4 Zuntz = 487 F Bernabé. Description in Zuntz 1971:287-293 and 310-315, and in Pugliese Carratelli 2001a:98-111 (=2003:98-115).

[ back ] 64. On these identifications, quite apart from any systematic association with Dionysus, (but cf. Plutarch Symposiacs 7.714c (Moralia)), cf. Zuntz 1971:310-312, and in an Orphic context, Morand 2001:165-168.

[ back ] 65. Cf. section 2.1.3 above, with n24. In the shortest texts A 2, 3 Zuntz = 489 F, 3 Bernabé and A 3, 3 Zuntz = 490 F, 3 Bernabé, death from being stamped out by the moîra, or by the flash of lightning (image of the will of Zeus) is presented as alternative. On the etymology proposed for elúsion, cf. Sourvinou-Inwood 1995:49-52; contra: Drew Griffith 1997:229-230!

[ back ] 66. Cf. Herodotus 1.5.4; 1.207.2, and 9.27.4, as well as Sophocles Electra 916-919 and, later, Aristotle Problemata 986a 22-29 (see above, Chapter II, section 5); but see also the “circle of heavy sorrows” cited by a late funerary stele from Panticapaeum near Olbia (= Orphica 467 V Bernabé) and interpreted as the cycle of rebirths especially by Casadio 1991:136-137. Pythagorean interpretation of this kúklos has been propsed by Zuntz 1971: 336-337, see also Edmonds 2004: 96-99.

[ back ] 67. Homeric Hymn to Demeter 224-274; Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 1050; see references I assembled on this in a study from 1998c:352-353 (with n40).

[ back ] 68. A 2, 6 Zuntz = 489 F, 6 Bernabé; A 3, 6 Zuntz = 490 F, 6 Bernabé.

[ back ] 69. Using categories which come more from semio-narrative analysis than from the anthropology of ritual, Riedweg 1998:319-383, also sees in the itinerary described by the speaker of text A 1 progress of an initiatory sort (on this, see also Calame 1996d:20-22). There can be found in this latter study additional elements of commentary referring to various earlier works, as well as the hypothesis that the last utterance of the text is composed in rhythmic prose, as befits its ritual function.

[ back ] 70. A 4 Zuntz = 487 F Bernabé; on the relationships of this text with the lamellae exhumed at the “Timpone piccolo,” as well as with the much later text A 5 Zuntz = 491 F Bernabé (enunciated in the third person), see most recently Riedweg 1998:368-375. The rhythmic structure of the central portion of text, interpreted in terms of súmbola, is analyzed by Watkins 1995:282-283.

[ back ] 71. P 1-2 Riedweg = 485 F and 486 F Bernabé; edition with commentary by Tsantsanoglou and Parassoglou 1987.

[ back ] 72. On the obvious affinities Dionysus shares with the bull, and less clearly with the ram, see Calame 1996d:17-19; on contacts with the kid (ériphos), cf. Casadio 1994:92-94, and Camassa 1994:176-178. On the meaning of éthores (relating to leaping), see references given ibid. n12.

[ back ] 73. Independently of any Orphic allusion, the figure of Dionysus Lysius and his role as liberator are well described by Graf 1991:88-92 (see also 1993:243-247), where he proposes seeing in the wine mentioned in line 6 the timḗ attributed to the deceased, perhaps considered in the present moment an Elysian cupbearer! See also Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:94-107. On the cult of Dionysus Lysius in Sikyon, in Corinth, and perhaps in Thebes, see most recently Casadio 1999:123-141, and Lavecchia 2000:116-121.

[ back ] 74. Homeric Hymn to Demeter 480-482 and 486-489; for other versions of this makarismos formula and several bibliographic entries on this, cf. n96 below.

[ back ] 75. Proposed by Comparetti 1882: (see earlier notes published by D. Comparetti in F. S. Cavallari, “Notizie degli scavi,” in Memorie dei Lincei. Scienze morali 4, 1879:156, and 5, 1880:403-410; cf. Pugliese Carratelli 2001:113 and 99 = 2003:115 and 99). Specifically in reference to a similar reading of fr. 133 Maehler of Pindar (cf. n32 above), this Orphic interpretation of certain of the gold lamellae by reference to the “myth” of anthropogony attributed to Orpheus, through the intermediary of Eudemos’ theogony, has been repeated ad nauseam recently: see notably Lloyd-Jones 1985:274-277, Graf 1991:90-91, Camassa 1994:178-182, Betz 1998:413-416, Riedweg 1998:380-382 (with the additional references given in n101), and Burkert 1999:60-68; tasteful skepticism in Musti 1984:62-64; see also Cole 1993:292-295: “there is no theme of rebirth in the Dionysian sepulchral texts,” and Schlesier 2001:166-168. For a critical view on “Dionysos patiens,” see now Edmonds 2004: 102-109.

[ back ] 76. See especially the precise historical study on this by Edmonds 1999:66-70, who again shows that the “Orphic” narrative of anthopogony is not attested before Olympiodoros! Complete bibliography and reply to this in Bernabé 2002:404-425.

[ back ] 77. See bibliography given by Pugliese Carratelli 2001a:41-44 (=2003: 35-38, cf. n6 above).

[ back ] 78. SEG XXVIII, 659-661 (1979); the circumstances of discovery of these bone lamellae and an interpretation of the graffiti on them are given by West 1983:17-20 (with bibliographic references to the editio princeps given in n43); see also Zhmud’ 1992:159-162, and Baumgarten 1998:89-92, who stresses the non-funerary use of these graffiti; Burkert 1999:61 and 70-72, specifically, finds confirmation of the Orphic nature of the gold lamellae in these documents with no explicit funerary purpose.

[ back ] 79. See the excellent and carefully prepared catalogue of these representations of the Underworld given in Moret 1993:349-351.

[ back ] 80. Napoli H 3222 (RVAp I, 16/82); cf. Pensa 1977:24 (with plates I-IV) and Aellen 1994:61-66 and 202 (with plates 2-3).

[ back ] 81. Apulian volute crater from 350-340, Karlsruhe B4 (RVAp I, 16/81): cf. Pensa 1977:24 (along with plate V and figure 1) and Aellen 1994:58-65 and 205 (and plates 34-35).

[ back ] 82. Ruvo, ex collection Fenicia: cf. Pensa 1977:25 (with figure 8) and Aellen 1994: 202-203 (with plate 6); see also, as an example of the same compositional scheme, the beautiful frescoes of the Apulian volute crater in Munich 3297 (J 849) (RVAp II, 18/282) dating from 330-310 (Pensa 1977:23, with figure 5; Aellen 1994:208, with plates 64-65) or, in a simpler manner, the volute crater Napoli SA 11 (inv. 80854) (RVAp I, 16/54) dating from 350-340 (Pensa 1977:25, with plate VII; Aellen 1994:205, with plates 32-33): Orpheus as Apollo.

[ back ] 83. Apulian volute crater, Napoli SA 709 (RVAp II, 18/284) dating from 330-310 (Pensa 1977: 27, with plate X, see n84); Aellen, 1994: 211, with plates 92-93); on this, see commentary by Moret 1993:318-327 (along with the catalogue of representations of Orpheus given at 321n185).

[ back ] 84. Apulian volute crater Leningrad 1717 (St. 424) (RVAp II, 28/177) = painter of the Louvre K 67, dating from 325-310: cf. Pensa 1977:26, with plate VIII, as well as Aellen 1994:209, with plate 62.

[ back ] 85. Formerly New York, now Toledo 1994. 19 (RVAp Suppl. II, 18/41a 1, post-script p. 508): cf. Moret 1993:293-300, with plate 1a-d, and description given by Johnston and McNiven 1996:25-30; cf. Schlesier 2001:172n62.

[ back ] 86. Leningrad 1701 (St. 498) (RVAp 23/46): cf. Pensa 1977:28, with plate XII; other examples of Orpheus facing Hades directly in Schmidt 1991:39-47. Orpheus as the poet who founded the art of the Muses (and the mysteries): Pindar Pythian 4.176-177, Aristophanes Frogs 1032-1036, and Timotheus fr. 791.221-236; cf. Calame 2002c: 392-397.

[ back ] 87. Cf. Moret 1993:304-305 (waving goodbye), and Johnston and McNiven 1996:27-30 (gesture of recognition).

[ back ] 88. P. Gurôb 1 = Orphica fr. 31 Kern = 578 F Bernabé; see most recently Hordern 2000:132-135.

[ back ] 89. A 1, 2 Zuntz = 488 F, 2 Bernabé and A 2-3, 2 Zuntz = 489-490 F, 2 Bernabé: cf. also A 5, 2 Zuntz = 491 F, 2 Bernabé, and section 3.2 above with n70. On the figure of Eubouleus, cf. n64 above, and on Erikepaios, cf. Morand 2001:189-194. On the identification with a donkey of the initiate called upon to pronounce the ritual text of P. Gurôb, we must recall that in allusions made at Aristophanes Frogs 158-160, to initiates (memuēménoi) of Eleusis, Xanthias compares himself to a donkey who celebrates the mysteries (ṓnos ágō mustḗria). As for the term teletḗ, it generally concerns a mystery cult: cf. Burkert 1987:8-10.

[ back ] 90. P 1-2, 5 = 485-486 F, 5 Bernabé; cf. section 3.2 above, with n71. On the Pherai lamella, cf. n55 above (on Brimo, n56 above).

[ back ] 91. Clement of Alexandria Protrepticus 2.17.2 = Orphica fr. 34 Kern = 306 F and 588 T Bernabé; on this see Edmonds 1999:38-57 (co ntra: Bernabé 2002:404-420.)

[ back ] 92. On these divine actors and ritual objects attested in Athenian celebrations of the Mysteries of Eleusis, I refer the reader to the texts mentioned in the careful commentary by Richardson 1974:295-296 (on the normative role of Rhea in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter 441-469, identified somewhat later with her daughter), 81-85 (concerning the Eleusinian figure of Eubouleus), 22-23 (on súnthēma and kálathos: cf. also n59 above), 26-29 and 310-311 (epopteía).

[ back ] 93. In contrast to the confusion on this maintained by Johnston and McNiven 1996:32-34, on the normative consensus among the authors they quote, n30; see also Burkert 1999:68-76.

[ back ] 94. On the salvation role of certain initiatory practices devoted to Dionysus and mentioned in a funerary context, see especially Cole 1993:288-295, and Schlesier 2001:163-166.

[ back ] 95. Eleusinian-type mystery cults apart from Eleusis are examined by Graf 1985:273-277. We should remember that first West 1975:234-236, then Musti 1984:65-68, brought together the way followed by mústai and bacchantes in the Hipponion text (n31 above) with the sacred way leading Athenian initiates to Eleusis. On the image of the path in the context of Dionysian órgia, see for instance, Feyerabend 1984:1-10.

[ back ] 96. Homeric Hymn to Demeter 480-489; cf. Pindar fr. 137 Maehler and Sophocles fr. 837 Radt, to compare with P 1-2, 1 and 7 = 485-486 F, 1 and 7 Bernabé (cf. section 3.2 above); on this, see Richardson 1974:310-321, and, for comparison, Calame 1996d:19-23; cf. also Empedokles fr. 31 B 132, 1 Diels-Kranz (see Scarpi 1987:207-210). Notice that the text of lamella A 1, 8 Zuntz = 488 F, 8 Bernabé also shows a form of makarismos: cf. n63 . On the absence of any idea of reincarnation in the Orphic Hymns, cf. Morand 2001:212-230.

[ back ] 97. P 1-2, 1 Riedweg = 485 F, 1 and 486 F, 1 Bernabé ; cf. section 3.2 above.

[ back ] 98. Hesiod fr. 25, 24-33 Merkelbach-West; Nagy 1979:165-169.

[ back ] 99. Carmina Conviviala 894 Page, mentioned at Aristophanes Acharnians 979, and quoted by the scholia ad hoc (I B, p. 124 Wilson); Pindar Olympian 2.71-80: cf. n31 and n51 above.

[ back ] 100. Plutarch Dialogue on Love 761f-762a.

[ back ] 101. On the dialectic of individual “ipséité” and “mêmeté,” see Ricoeur 1990:11-35; on this cf. chapter I, section V.

[ back ] 102. Constant, 1824 (1999): 477.