The Best of the Achaeans
Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry
Revised Edition
Gregory Nagy

Copyright © 1980, 1997 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved. First edition 1979. Revised edition 1999. This document may be used, with this notice included, for noncommercial purposes within a subscribed institution. No copies of this work may be distributed electronically outside of the subscribed institution, in whole or in part, without written permission from the JHU Press.

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Chapter 12

Poetry of Praise, Poetry of Blame

§1. As we see from Georges Dumézil's comparative study Servius et la Fortune, Indo-European society operated on the principle of counterbalancing praise and blame, primarily through the medium of poetry.[1] This state of affairs is most overtly preserved in the evidence of Indic and Old Irish,[2] but we must now also include Greek. Thanks to the brilliant synthesis of Marcel Detienne, we are in a position to see the opposition of praise and blame as a fundamental principle in the archaic Greek community.[3]

§2. It is convenient to start by looking at such conservative Dorian societies as that of Sparta. The clearest evidence comes from Plutarch's Lycurgus: in Sparta, the law was based on two fundamental principles, namely epainos 'praise' and psogos 'blame'.[1] The social function of this antithesis can be seen from the objects of praise and blame respectively: kalôn epainos 'praise of the noble' compared to aiskhrôn psogos 'blame of the base' (Plutarch Lycurgus 8.2, 21.1, 25.2; also 14.3, 26.3). Furthermore, the prime medium of praise and blame was poetry (14.5, 26.6).[2]

§3. In the traditional Dorian praise poetry of Pindar and Bacchylides, we find the most striking and most appealing sort of confirmation about the poetic function of praise and blame. Not only is praise poetry programmatically called epainos or aînos (verb epaineô or aineô) by the praise poetry itself but its opposite is specified as psogos (verb psegô),[1] as in the following words of Pindar:

jenw emi: skoteinn pxvn cgon,
datow te =ow flon w ndr' gvn
klow ttumon ansv

I am a guest-stranger. Keeping away dark blame [psogos]
and bringing genuine kleos, like streams of water, to a man who is philos,
I will praise [verb aineô] him.
Pindar N.7.61-63

In other words, the actual antithesis between aînos/epainos and psogos is in itself a poetic tradition. Besides the programmatic words aînos/epainos and aineô/epaineô, there are other elements in the diction of praise poetry that serve to designate its own function, the most important of which is kleos (as in the passage quoted, Pindar N.7.62).[2] The traditional diction of the praise poetry composed by Pindar and Bacchylides also has inherited, besides psogos, several other words that serve to mark blame as a foil for praise:[3]

eris 'strife'rida Pi.N.4.93
vs. aineô 'praise'anvn "
neîkos 'quarrel, fight'nekei Pi.N.8.25
~ erizô 'have eris'rzei .22
~ phthoneroi 'those who have phthonos'fyonerosin .21
~ oneidos 'blame, reproach'[4] neidow .33
vs. aineô 'praise'anvn anht .39
vs. kleos 'glory'klow .36
mômos 'blame, reproach'mmow Ba.13.202
vs. aineô 'praise'[5] anetv .201
phthonos 'envy, greed'fynow Ba.13.200
~ mômosmmow .202
vs. aineôanetv .201
phthonosfynow Pi.P.1.85
~ mômosmmow .82
phthonosfynon Ba.5.188
vs. aineô[6] anen "

I draw special attention to the first two entries in the list, eris and neîkos. In Homeric and Hesiodic poetry, we have seen that these words are appropriate for motivating the Trojan War in particular and the human condition in general. Now we see in the diction of praise poetry that eris and neîkos also can have a far more specific function: designating the opposite of praise poetry.

§4. Of course, blame is inimical to praise in praise poetry only if it is the blame of the noble, since the conceit of praise poetry is that it praises the noble only, not the base. For an illustration, let us isolate the word phthonos 'envy, greed' and examine its use as a foil for praise poetry within such poetry. In Bacchylides 5.188 and 13.199-201, we have just seen phthonos being directly contrasted with aineô 'praise' (anen and anetv respectively).[1] He who praises (e lgein 'speak well': Ba.3.67) is described as stiw m fyn pianetai 'one who does not fatten himself on phthonos' (Ba.3.67-68).[2] I draw attention to this combination in view of the following expression in Pindaric praise poetry:

cogern Arxloxon barulgoiw xyesin
piainmenon ...

Archilochus, having psogos, fattening himself on heavy-worded hatreds ...
Pindar P.2.55-56.

We see here a programmatic description of blame poetry (witness the epithet psogeros 'having psogos') as the opposite of praise poetry, in the specific context of rejecting blame within a poem of praise:

m d xren
fegein dkow dinn kakagorin ...

but I must avoid
the relentless bite of speaking ill ...
Pindar P.2.52-53

§5. Where the language of blame is unjustified, it is specifically correlated with imagery that dwells on the devouring of meat. As we have just observed, blaming is made parallel to biting; also, the blamer is said to fatten himself on phthonos or on the hatreds of psogos. As we look for further development of this imagery, we come upon the following passage:[1]

con d lgoi fyonerosin,
ptetai d' sln e, xeirnessi d' ok rzei.
kenow ka Telamnow dcen un,
fasgn mfikulsaiw.
tin' glvsson mn, tor d' lkimon, lya katxei
n lugr nekei: mgiston d' al ce-
graw nttatai

Words are a morsel for those who have phthonos.[2]
He [one who has phthonos][3] grabs at the noble rather than have eris with the inferior.
That one [Odysseus][4] even devoured the son of Telamon [Ajax], skewering him on the sword.[5]
One who is unversed in speech but stout at heart is held down by Neglect[6] on the occasion of a baneful neîkos.
And the biggest honorific portion is handed over to intricate Deceit.
Pindar N.8.21-25

At line 21, we see that phthonos is the food of the blamer only in a figurative sense: the language of phthonos is his means for getting a meal, not the meal itself.[7] But then, we also see at lines 22-23 of Pindar's praise poem a ghastly extension of the same theme: not only does the man of phthonos get a meal, but the meal may actually turn out to be his victim! The verb haptomai at line 22 (ptetai ) connotes not only 'grab at food', as at Odyssey iv 60 and x 379, but even 'grab at a victim with the teeth', as at Iliad VIII 339, where the subject of the verb is kuôn 'dog'. Similarly with dcen 'devoured' at line 23 of Pindar's poem: in Homeric diction, the same verb daptô can be applied in contexts where corpses are 'devoured' by dogs rather than by the fire of cremation (XXIII 183; cf. XXII 339). So also with piainô 'fatten' in the expression fyn pianetai 'fattens himself on phthonos' at Bacchylides 3.68 and barulgoiw xyesin / piainmenon 'fattening himself on heavy-worded hatreds' at Pindar P.2.55-56: in Homeric diction, dogs devour specifically the fat of uncremated corpses (VIII 379-380, XI 818, XIII 831-832).[8] In effect, then, the language of praise poetry presents the language of unjustified blame as parallel to the eating of heroes' corpses by dogs.

§6. Significantly, the language of epic itself quotes the language of blame within the framework of narrating quarrels,[1] and a prominent word of insult within such direct quotations is kuôn 'dog' and its derivatives.[2] For example, Achilles insults Agamemnon by calling him kunôpa 'having the looks of a dog' (I 159) and kunos ommat' ekhôn 'having the eyes of a dog' (I 225)[3] in the context of their quarrel, which is designated by eris and its derivative erizô (I 6, 8, 177, 210, 277, 319; II 376), as well as by neîkos (II 376).[4] The actual words of blame spoken by Achilles to Agamemnon are designated as oneidos 'blame, reproach' by the victim himself (nedea : I 291; cf. I 211).[5] Similarly, in Pindar's praise poem, the quarrel between Ajax and Odysseus qualifies as an eris (rzei : N.8.22) and as a neîkos(nekei : N.8.25). In addition, the unjustified blame of Ajax by Odysseus qualifies as oneidos (neidow : N.8.33). But here the praise poem itself insults Odysseus--not by calling him kuôn 'dog' but rather by describing his actions as those of a dog feeding on human flesh. Whereas the righteous indignation of Achilles is formalized in his words of justified blame against Agamemnon,[6] the corresponding indignation of Ajax is taken up by the praise poem itself. But the words of justified blame in Pindar's Nemean 8 are intended not so much against Odysseus but against the unjustified blame in the quarrel that led to the besting of the heroic Ajax by his deceitful adversary.

§7. After concluding its retrospective on the quarrel between Ajax and Odysseus, Pindar's praise poem has this to say about the language of blame:

xyr d' ra prfasiw n ka plai,
amlvn myvn mfoi-
, dolofradw, kakopoin neidow

Hateful misrepresentation has existed for a long time,
companion of wily words, deviser of deceit,
maleficent oneidos.
Pindar N.8.32-33

These words serve as a foil for the words that later conclude Pindar's Nemean 8, where praise poetry itself gets the ultimate praise:[1]

n ge mn pikmiow mnow
d plai ka prn gensyai
tn Adrstou tn te Kadmevn rin

The encomium[2] has existed for a long time
--even before the eris between Adrastos and the Thebans ever happened.[3]
Pindar N.8.50-51

Thus praise poetry recognizes its own deeply traditional nature by describing itself as a primordial institution. The ideal opposite of oneidos (N.8.34) is presented as kleos (N.8.36), which the righteous man wishes to leave behind for his children when he dies (N.8. 36-37). In the same connection, the praise poem presents the function of the righteous man as the function of the praise poet himself:

anvn anht, momfn d' pispervn litrow

praising what is to be praised, sowing blame upon what is unrighteous[4]
Pindar N.8.39

§8. We may round out our survey of the word phthonos 'envy, greed' as a foil for praise poetry by considering a particularly suggestive occurrence at the beginning of Odyssey xviii. Here we see the beggar Iros making neîkos against Odysseus (neikevn : xviii 9), who is himself disguised as a beggar; in his quoted neîkos (xviii 10-13), Iros commands Odysseus to get out of his way, threatening that the present eris between the two of them (riw : xviii 13) may escalate from verbal to physical violence (cf. xviii 38-39).[1] The disguised master of the household refuses to budge from the doorway, answering Iros with these words:

daimni', ote t se =zv kakn ot' gorev,
ote tin fyonv dmenai ka pll' nelnta.
odw d' mfotrouw de xesetai, od t se xr
llotrvn fyonein: dokeiw d moi enai lthw
w per gn, lbon d yeo mllousin pzein

You daimonios![2] I am harming you by neither deed nor word.
And I do not begrudge [I have no phthonos] that someone should be a giver, after having been a taker in great quantities.
But this threshold will accommodate both of us, and you should not
have phthonos about the property of others. You seem to be a beggar like me,
and it is the gods who are likely to grant olbos[prosperity].
xviii 15-19

The collocation of olbos and phthonos here is striking in view of a traditional theme found time and again in the actual words of praise poetry: that olbos comes from the gods to the righteous and that it attracts the phthonos of the unrighteous (see especially Pindar N.11.29). Ironically, the olbos of Odysseus himself is now being threatened by the suitors, whose "messenger" Iros has so much phthonos as to hinder our hero from even entering his own household.[3] Without having to identify himself as the owner, however, Odysseus warns Iros not "to have phthonos about the property of others" (llotrvn fyonein : xviii 18).

§9. Such excessive phthonos on the part of Iros is directly comparable to phthonos in its function as a traditional negative foil of praise poetry within praise poetry. As we have seen, gluttony is a prime characteristic of phthonos in the diction of praise poetry;[1] hence the saying "words are a morsel for those who have phthonos" (Pindar N.8.21).[2] In fact, we now see from the Homeric description of Iros that his phthonos is manifested in precisely this sort of gluttony; the key word is margos 'gluttonous, wanton':

lye d' p ptvxw pandmiow, w kat stu
ptvxeesk' Iykhw, met d' prepe gastri mrg
zhxw fagmen ka pimen: od o n w
od bh, edow d mla mgaw n rasyai

And there came a beggar,[3] belonging to all the district [dêmos],
who used to go begging throughout the town of Ithaca; he was renowned for his endless eating and drinking with his margê belly.
And he had no îs [force], nor biê [might], but in appearance he was big to look at.[4]
xviii 1-4

In the language of praise poetry, the same word margos characterizes those whose words are inimical to the institution of praise:

p toi
Akrganti tansaiw
adsomai nrkion lgon laye
teken m tin' katn ge tvn plin
floiw ndra mllon
eergtan prapsin fyonstern te xra
Yrvnow. ll' anon pba krow
o dk& sunantmenow ll mrgvn p' ndrn,
t lalagsai ylon
krufn tiymen sln kalow

Aiming my arrow at Akragas,
I will proclaim under oath, with unerring intent,
that no city in these last hundred years has produced
a man more beneficent in disposition to philoi
and more ungrudging [from a-phthonos = having no phthonos] in hand
than Theron. But satiety[5] attacks praise [aînos].
It [satiety] is accompanied not by justice but by margoi men.
It is idle talk, which wishes to put concealment upon the fine deeds of the worthy.
Pindar O.2.90-98

In short, a man who is margos is a man who has the mouth of Eris personified:

Eridw pote mrgon xvn stma

... having the margon mouth of Eris
Ibycus fr. 311 a P

§10. From the evidence of such traditional wording, I propose that the story of Iros in effect ridicules the stereotype of an unrighteous blame poet. Like the unrighteous blamers who are righteously blamed by praise poetry, Iros has eris 'strife' with a good man (xviii 13, 38-39) and makes neîkos 'quarreling' against him (xviii 9). Like the blamers, he is margos 'gluttonous' (cf. xviii 2) and has phthonos 'greed' for the olbos 'prosperity' that the good man gets from the gods (cf. xviii 17-19).[1] Moreover, we have seen that the good man who is praised by a praise poem must be a paragon of generosity (hence a-phthonos 'without phthonos', as in Pindar O.2.94). Now we also see that Odysseus himself is generous even with the provocative Iros (o ... fyonv ' I have no phthonos': xviii 16). In fact, this theme of generosity turns out to be crucial for our understanding of the Iros story, as we are about to see from the comparative evidence of ancient Irish tales. One of the most interesting Irish parallels comes from the Second Battle of Mag Tured: it is a story about the Dagdae, a prodigiously generous heroic figure, and Cridenbél, a prodigiously greedy blame poet.[2] Cridenbél was so gluttonous that his mouth grew out from his chest, not from his face. This poet made it his habit to demand from the Dagdae, under the threat of blame, the three best portions of each of the hero's meals. Noblesse oblige, and the Dagdae's generosity would never allow him to refuse the blame poet's demands. As a result, he became ill from malnutrition. At this point, the Dagdae resorts to deceit: he conceals three gold pieces in the three portions demanded by Cridenbél, and the blame poet unwittingly gluts himself to death on gold--ironically an emblem of ultimate prosperity.

§11. Like the story of Iros in the Odyssey, this story from ancient Irish tradition ridicules the function of the blame poet in society. Such ridicule is of course intensified in the Odyssey by way of presenting Iros as a beggar. But the actual function of the beggar in society is in fact vitally serious in the overall narrative of the Odyssey, as we see from the figure that serves as a positive foil for the beggar Iros, namely Odysseus himself in beggar's disguise. Odysseus plans specifically to beg for his meals--and the word for "meal" here is dais (xvii 11, 19); moreover, he plans to beg from the suitors! A stranger in his own house, the disguised Odysseus is received properly by Telemachus, who gives him food and encourages him to beg from the suitors (xvii 336-352); Odysseus responds by praying that Zeus grant olbos 'prosperity' to Telemachus (lbion enai : xvii 354). Odysseus proceeds to beg from the suitors, but the chief suitor Antinoos raises objections to the beggar's presence (xvii 360-395). Telemachus rebukes Antinoos: "you want to eat much, instead of giving to the other man" (xvii 404). "I myself," says Telemachus, "have no phthonos" (o toi fyonv : xvii 400). The climactic moment comes when Odysseus begs from the suitor Antinoos. He addresses him as philos (xvii 415), says that the young man seems like the "best of the Achaeans" (xvii 415-416), and promises to make kleos for him in return for generosity (xvii 418). Noblesse oblige, but Antinoos refuses.[1] In fact, his refusal not only disqualifies Antinoos himself but also undermines the position of all the other suitors. There is no generosity, says Antinoos, in giving away things that are not one's own (xvii 449-452). By contrast, Odysseus shows the ultimate generosity when he tells the "messenger" of the suitors:1. that he [Odysseus] feels no phthonos if one gives away things that are not one's own (xviii 16)2. that he [Iros] is entitled to feel no phthonos about things that are not his own (xviii 17-18).[2] The suitors merit their death--and Iros, his beating--not for eating the food of Odysseus but for actually denying it to him. Odysseus himself formally blames Antinoos for withholding abundant food that belongs to someone else (xvii 454-457), and his words of blame are called oneidos by Antinoos (nedea : xvii 461).

§12. To make matters worse, Antinoos is so angered by these words of oneidos 'blame' that his violence is escalated from the verbal to the physical: he throws a footstool at Odysseus and injures him (xvii 462-463). Penelope decries this act as a moral outrage (xvii 499-504), in that she considers the beggar to be a xenos'guest-stranger' in the house of Odysseus (Homeric xeînos: xvii 501). As we examine the implications of this word xenos, it is appropriate to cite here the formulation devised by Émile Benveniste:[1]

We must envisage the situation of a xénos, of a "guest," who is visiting a country where, as a stranger, he is deprived of all rights, of all protection, of all means of existence. He finds no welcome, no lodging and no guarantee except in the house of the man with whom he is connected by philótês. ... The pact concluded in the name of philótês makes the contracting parties phíloi: they are henceforth committed to a reciprocity of services which constitute "hospitality."
Anyone, then, who would consider even a mere beggar as his or her xenos displays the maximum of generosity, since a beggar stands to offer the minimum in reciprocal services. Thus Telemachus in effect reveals the nobility of his royal family by receiving Odysseus in beggar's disguise as a xenos (xvii 342-355; hence jen /jene at 345/350). Antinoos, by contrast, proves himself ignoble by his failure to act likewise, and his bad behavior is compounded when he addresses the injured Odysseus sarcastically as a xenos (jene : xvii 478). Ironically, the father of Antinoos had been treated as a xenos by Odysseus himself (xvi 424-432); it is thus appropriate that Odysseus should address Antinoos as philos at the very moment that he tests him by begging for food (xvii 415).

§13. Different xenoi have different capacities to reciprocate the generosity of their host, and the swineherd Eumaios perceives that the disguised Odysseus is much more than a mere beggar. In other words, the stranger's capacity to reciprocate is much higher than that of a mere beggar. Thus when Antinoos reproaches Eumaios for inviting "another beggar" to the house of Odysseus (xvii 375-379), the swineherd replies as follows:

Antno', o mn kal ka sylw n goreeiw:
tw gr d jenon kale lloyen atw pelyn
llon g', e m tn o dhmioergo asi,
mntin htra kakn tktona dorvn,
ka yspin oidn, ken trpsin edvn;
otoi gr klhto ge brotn p' perona gaan:
ptvxn d' ok n tiw kaloi trjonta atn

Antinoos! Though you are noble, you do not speak properly.
What man who is from somewhere else himself[1]
will invite yet another xenos [guest-stranger], unless he [the xenos] is one of those who are workers of the dêmos,[2]
such as a seer, or a healer of illnesses, or a carpenter who works on wood,
or even an inspired singer who can give delight with his singing?[3]
For such men are apt to be invited anywhere in the world.
But one would not invite a beggar; such a man would feed on his host.
xvii 381-387

For Antinoos, these words are meant to convey that Eumaios, being a stranger himself, would not invite a low-ranking stranger, such as a beggar; if the stranger is a beggar, then he did not invite him. For Odysseus, these same words mean that Eumaios considers him a high-ranking stranger, such as a seer, physician, carpenter, or poet; if the stranger is one of these, then he did invite him. The sequence of enumerating the four occupations is arranged in a crescendo of detail, starting with a single word to designate the seer (mntin : xvii 384) and ending with a whole verse to designate the poet (xvii 385). Thus the formal presentation of alternatives implies that the stranger is most likely to be a poet.

§14. Later on, Eumaios tells Penelope explicitly that the stranger indeed has the powers of a poet:

o' ge muyetai, ylgoit k toi flon tor.
w d' t' oidn nr potidrketai, w te yen j
ed dedaw pe' merenta brotosi,
to d' moton memasin koumen, ppt' ed:
w m kenow yelge parmenow n megroisi

The kind of things he tells about--it would put your heart in a trance....
As when a man is looking at[1] a singer who has learned his words from the gods--and the words give pleasure to mortals,
who yearn to hear him without pause when he sings--
so also that one was putting a trance on me as he sat in my house.
xvii 514, 518-521

The disguised Odysseus merits such a compliment from Eumaios not only when he tells the first-person odyssey of the Cretan adventurer, at xiv 192-359,[2] but also later when he employs a particular form of discourse in asking for an overnight cloak, at xiv 462-506. In these verses, the disguised Odysseus is narrating to Eumaios and his friends a story about the Trojan War: it happened on a cold night, during an ambush, that a man was tricked out of his cloak by Odysseus himself, who gave it to his own friend and equal, the narrator![3] As Leonard Muellner points out, the telling of this story to Eumaios has a parallel purpose: to get a cloak for the disguised Odysseus.[4] "The story is--in more ways than one--proud talk that raises its speaker's prestige (and almost gives away his identity),[5] but in the Odyssey it receives a moral interpretation ... by which Odysseus obtains proper treatment as a guest in the form of ... a symbolic mantle."[6] Significantly, these words of Odysseus constitute a form of discourse that Eumaios himself compliments as an aînos (anow : xiv 508). And it is this same word aînos that designates praise poetry within the traditional diction of epinician praise poetry!

§15. From the evidence of Homeric diction alone, the meaning of aînos may be analyzed further:[1]

In particular, aînos designates a discourse that aims at praising and honoring someone or something or at being ingratiating toward a person. Accidental or not, in Homer the word always defines a polite, edifying speech that is in direct or indirect connection with a gift or a prize. In Il. 23.795 aînos means "praise," as is made evident by the verb kûdaínô ("to give honor") of line 793. Achilles repays this aînos with a gift. In the same book, Nestor's speech--in which he recalls his past deeds and thanks Achilles for his generous gift--is termed an aînos (Il. 23.652). In both poems we find polúainos as an epithet for Odysseus: in at least one passage the word is connected with Odysseus's cunning (Il. 11.430), and in Od. 14.508-9 Odysseus's speech--termed aînos--is explicitly defined as a discourse that will not "miss a reward." In Od. 21.110 Telemachos turns to the suitors, who are ready to compete for Penelope's hand, and says rhetorically that she does not need any praise (aînos). Yet Telemachos has in fact praised Penelope and enhanced her unique qualities (106-9): he therefore increases the suitors' willingness to compete for the prize, i.e., for Penelope.
The aînos told by Odysseus to Eumaios is parallel to the epinician praise poetry of the classical period both in name and in details of convention. Consider, for example, the elaborate excuse that introduces the story of the cloak as told by Odysseus:

kkluyi nn, Emaie ka lloi pntew taroi,
ejmenw ti pow rv: onow gr ngei
lew, w t' fhke polfron per ml' esai
ka y' paln gelsai, ka t' rxsasyai nke,
ka ti pow prohken pr t' rrhton meinon.
ll' pe on t prton nkragon, ok pikesv

Listen to me now, Eumaios and all you other hetaîroi [companions]!
Speaking proudly,[2] I will tell you an epos [poetic utterance].[3]
The wine, which sets me loose, is telling me to do so.
Wine impels even the thinking man to sing
and to laugh softly. And it urges him on to dance.
It even prompts an epos that may be better left unsaid.
But now that I have shouted out loud, I will not suppress it.
xiv 462-467

In the epinician praise poetry of the classical period, we find similar formalistic excuses:

a me: niknt ge xrin, e ti pran eryew
nkragon, o traxw emi kataymen

Your indulgence, please! If I--to reciprocate the victor--
shouted something out loud as I soared too far up, I am not
unversed in bringing it back down.[4]
Pindar N.7.75-76

Moreover, the festive mood that calls for "singing, laughter, and dancing" (xiv 464-465) is reminiscent of the formal setting for the epinician praise poetry of Pindar and Bacchylides: a song-and-dance composition performed in an atmosphere of euphrosunâ 'mirth' (e.g, Pindar N.4.1).[5]

§16. In the aînos told by Odysseus, the actual disposition of the audience constitutes a theme that rounds out the composition; the story of the cloak is concluded with an appeal to the host's sense of philotês 'being a philos' (filthti : xiv 505). In other words, Eumaios the host should be philos to Odysseus the xenos 'guest-stranger'. So also in the praise poetry of Pindar, the poet may conventionally present himself as the xenos of the patron, who is his philos:

jenw emi: skoteinn pxvn cgon,
datow te =ow flon w ndr' gvn
klow ttumon ansv

I am a xenos [guest-stranger]. Keeping away dark blame [psogos]
and bringing genuine kleos, like streams of water, to a man who is philos,
I will praise [aineô] him.
Pindar N.7.61-63

In light of these patterns in traditional diction, we may now see another dimension in the words employed by the disguised Odysseus in his attempt to beg from Antinoos. Speaking as a xenos, however lowly, the beggar addresses the suitor as philos (xvii 415) and promises him kleos in return for any largesse (xvii 418). Antinoos refuses to give anything, and in return he gets oneidos 'blame' from Odysseus (nedea : xvii 461).[1] Generosity and its opposite deserve praise and blame respectively from this poetlike figure.

§17. We have seen, then, from the evidence of Homeric diction that the word aînos designates a mode of poetic discourse appropriate for purposes that go far beyond simply praising a patron. Although aînos becomes the primary word for designating praise poetry even within such poetry, it is also appropriate for designating, more broadly, "an allusive tale containing an ulterior purpose."[1] In the case of the aînos at xiv 508,[2] we see how a tale about a cloak--with the Trojan War as the setting--has won a temporary cloak for the teller as a pledge of the host's disposition as philos to his guest. As we compare the epinician praise poetry of Pindar and Bacchylides, which is also traditionally designated by the word aînos, we find that the poetic occasion is of course far more grandiose; nevertheless, the poetic form is essentially parallel. Here too, the central element is the deployment of tales taken from Myth--and the Trojan War serves frequently as the setting;[3] these tales, moreover, are arranged to convey an ad hoc message of praise and edification to the victor and his family, who are accordingly obligated as philoi to the poet. A derivative of aînos even conveys the moralizing tone so characteristic of epinician poetry: the compound par-aineô 'advise, instruct' applies to the edifying instructions given by the Centaur, Cheiron, to the youthful Achilles and also by the poet himself to his young patron (Pindar P.6.23).[4] This derivative word paraineô also applies to the didactic function of the Hesiodic tradition in general, and the application is actually attested in the diction of epinician praise poetry:

Lmpvn d meltan
rgoiw pzvn Hsi-
dou mla tim tot' pow,
uos te frzvn paraine,
junn stei ksmon prosgvn:
ka jnvn eergesaiw gaptai

And Lampon [the patron, father of the victorious athlete],
who adds preparedness to action, honors this epos [poetic utterance] of Hesiod.
He instructs [par-aineô] his sons by telling it to them,
thus bringing communal embellishment to his city.
And he is loved for treating well his xenoi.
Pindar I.6.66-70

Such a poetic utterance or epos ('Add preparedness to action!'), which serves as an instructive legacy for the sons of Lampon, is actually attested in the Hesiodic tradition:

melth d toi rgon fllei

Preparedness aids action.
Hesiod W&D 412

§18. In the sense of 'an allusive tale containing an ulterior purpose',[1] the word aînos applies not only to the specific genre of praise poetry but also to the general narrative device of animal fables. In the poetry of Archilochus, for example, we find aînos designating the fable about the fox and the eagle (fr. 174.1W), as well as the fable about the ape and the fox (fr. 185.1W). The word is likewise appropriate for designating the animal fables belonging to the tradition of Aesop.[2] In order to understand the formal connection between fable and praise poetry, we may now turn to the aînos about the hawk and the nightingale in Hesiod W&D 203-212.[3] I call special attention to the fable's introductory description of the intended audience:

nn d' anon basilesin rv fronousi ka atow

Now I will tell an aînos for kings, aware as they are.
Hesiod W&D 202

Using the language of Prague School linguistics,[4] we may say that the code of this aînos has a message for kings--but only if they are "aware" (phroneontes, at verse 202). Such a built-in ideology of exclusiveness also pervades the form of aînos that we know as epinician praise poetry. Consider the following programmatic declarations about this genre of poetry by the poetry itself:

frononti sunet garv

I proclaim things that can be understood to the man who is aware [phroneôn].
Bacchylides 3.85

... fvnenta sunetosin ...

... having a sound for those who can understand ...
Pindar O.2.85

... painonti suneto

... those who can understand give praise
Pindar P.5.107

Praise poetry is "understandable" (suneta) only for the man who is "aware" (phroneôn). Only "those who can understand" (the sunetoi) can deliver or hear the message of praise.[5] Epic also recognizes this ideology of praise poetry, but it finds expression only in terms of quotations presented before an audience of Achaeans. Consider these words addressed by Odysseus to Diomedes:

Tudedh, mt' r me ml' anee mte ti nekei:
edsi gr toi tata met' Argeoiw goreeiw

Son of Tydeus! Do not give me too much praise [aineô, from aînos] nor too much blame [neikeô, from neîkos].
You are saying these things in the presence of Argives who know.[6]
X 249-250

§19. The aînos, then, is a code bearing one message to its intended audience; aside from those exclusive listeners "who can understand," it is apt to be misunderstood, garbled.[1] With this ideology in mind, we will find it easier to understand the semantics of other attested words derived from aînos. I cite in particular a by-form of aineô 'praise', ainizomai/ainissomai: this verb means either 'praise' (as in viii 487) or 'utter an oracular response' (as in Pindar P.8.40). It can even mean 'speak riddles' (as in Herodotus 5.56)-- hence the derivative noun ainigma 'riddle' (as in Sophocles Oedipus Rex 393, 1525). We may also find it easier now to understand the semantics of the verb from which the noun aînos is derived: the negative form is an-ainomai 'say no', and the unattested positive counterpart *aínomai must have meant something like 'say [in a special way]'.[2]

§20. What, then, is the bond of communication that determines who can and who cannot understand the exclusive message of praise poetry? It is, I submit, the same principle that we find in the Homeric ideology of philotês--the ties that bind the philoi hetaîroi together.[1] In the Homeric tradition, as Dale Sinos has demonstrated in detail, the dimensions of philotês are determined by the social base of the Achaean lâos.[2] In the epinician praise poetry of the classical period, on the other hand, the social base for the community of philoi is the kômos 'revel, celebration, celebrating group of singers/dancers'.[3] The kômos is not only the context for celebrating the victor with praise (cf. Pindar N.3.5, I.8.4, etc.).[4] It is also, in a larger sense, a formal affirmation of the philotês that flourishes among hetaîroi 'comrades' in society. This social function of the kômos is evident even in the diction of epinician praise poetry, as the following examples show:

filofrosnaiw ... kmon ...

with the disposition of a philos ... kômos ...
Pindar O.6.98

kvmzonti floiw ... sn taroiw ...

having a kômos with the philoi hetaîroi ...
Pindar O.9.4

par' ndr fl ... kvmzonti ...

in the presence of a man who is philos ... having a kômos ...
Pindar P.4.1-2

§21. The recipient of praise is of course philos both to his hetaîroi in the kômos and to the poet himself (as in Pindar N.7.61-63).[1] Moreover, the poet's function is reciprocal negatively as well as positively. Pindar's own words reveal that the traditional function of the poet is to be not only philos to the philos but also ekhthros'hateful, hostile' to the ekhthros:

flon eh filen:
pot d' xyrn t' xyrw n lkoio
dkan poyesomai,
ll' llote patvn dow skoliaw

Let it happen that I be philos to [filen ] the philos.
But I will be like an ekhthros to the ekhthros,[2] heading him off in the manner of a wolf,
making different steps at different times, in twisting directions.
Pindar P.2.83-85

We have here a complete picture of reciprocity between the poet on the one hand and the man who gets the poet's praise or blame on the other.[3] It is also important to observe that the foil for being philos, being ekhthros, is described in words that amount to a periphrasis of the notion inherent in the name Luk-ambês, which has been traditionally interpreted as 'having the steps of a wolf'.[4] Pindar's words apparently connote the stylized movements of a dance that represents the steps of a wolf. So too with the name Luk-ambês: the second half of this compound, like that of i-ambos, seems to indicate an actual dance step.[5]


§1n1. Dumézil 1943; updated in Dumézil 1969.

§1n2. For a convenient collection and correlation of facts, with bibliography, see Caerwyn Williams 1972 and Ward 1973. Cf. also Watkins 1976.

§1n3. Detienne 1973.18-27.

§2n1. For details, see Detienne 1973.19.

§2n2. See also Detienne, pp. 18-20.

§3n1. For a survey of passages, see Detienne 1973.21. For the programmatic character of aînos/epainos and aineô/epaineô as designating the poetic medium of praise, I cite in particular Pindar O.6.12 and Bacchylides 5.16; see also the discussion of praise poetry by Bundy 1962.35.

§3n2. See Maehler 1963.85. As we have seen, the word kleos within the genre of epic denotes the glory conferred upon the hero by epic; see Ch.1§2. Note too the word etêtumon 'true, genuine' applied to kleos here in Pindar N.7.63; the significance of this epithet will be discussed at Ch.14§12n3.

§3n3. The list I give here is of course incomplete. Moreover, the traditional diction of epic poetry has inherited its corresponding set of words indicating blame, as the discussion that follows will reveal (see esp. Ch.14§14). Of course, I do not mean to suggest that all the words in this list intrinsically indicate the concept of blame. In the case of a word like phthonos, for example, I will argue only that it indicates blame when it is being contrasted explicitly or implicitly with praise.

§3n4. On the Pindaric passage in which all these words occur, see Köhnken 1971.24-34.

§3n5. Cf. a parallel contrast of mômoms and (ep)aneô 'praise' in Theognis 169 (mvmemenow and ane ), 875-876 (mvmsaito and ainsai ), and 1079-1080 (mvmsomai and ansv ); also in Alcman 1.43-44P (mvmsyai and painn ).

§3n6. Cf. fynhtow anow 'praise [aînos] without phthonos' at Pindar O.11.7.

§4n1. The concept of mômos 'blame, reproach' is associated with the phthoneontes 'those who have phthonos' in Pindar O.6.74.

§4n2. Cf. also Köhnken 1971.34-36.

§5n1. Cf. Köhnken 1971.30-32.

§5n2. I.e., the language of phthonos is like eating.

§5n3. My translation veers from the generally accepted interpretation, according to which the subject of ptetai and rzei at line 22 is to be supplied as fynow , implied by fyonerosin at line 21 (for bibliography, see Köhnken 1971.30n38 and 33n57). The reasons for my interpretation will emerge from the discussion that follows. I should point out, however, that the main thesis of this discussion, that phthonos entails the "devouring" of a good hero, will not depend on whether or not my interpretation here is accepted. See further in Nagy 1996b.143n130.

§5n4. I posit that the thematic development is from the general to the specific: from "one who has phthonos" to "Odysseus." See again Nagy 1996b.143n130.

§5n5. I.e., Odysseus caused Ajax to kill himself with his own sword. Cf. Pindar I.4.37, where the subject of tamn 'cutting' is Ajax himself.

§5n6. Nonremembrance is the opposite of being remembered by poetry; on this traditional theme, see Detienne 1973.21-27. Cf. also Ch.1§3 above.

§5n7. We see a clear instance of this theme in Odyssey xviii 1-19, on which see further at §9.

§5n8. At Pindar N.9.23, the verb piainô is applied in a context where the corpses of the Seven against Thebes "fatten" the smoke of cremation; at line 24, the funeral pyres "feasted on" (daisanto) the heroes. (Only Amphiaraos is exempt: lines 24-26.)

§6n1. Cf. Ch.3§3n.

§6n2. See Faust 1970; also Faust 1969.109-125.

§6n3. Cf. IX 373.

§6n4. Cf. Ch.7§17.

§6n5. From the standpoint of Agamemnon, the blame is of course unjustified.

§6n6. Significantly, Achilles himself is not called a kuôn 'dog' (or any of its variants) by any of his adversaries in the Iliad (see the survey by Faust 1970.10-19, column D). When Achilles is blamed for his savagery, the primary image is that of a lion (see Ch.7§22), not a dog; this observation may serve as a supplement to the interesting discussion by Faust 1970.24. I concede that the verb helkô, which denotes the dragging of Hektor's body by Achilles (XXII 401, XXIV 52; cf. XXIV 21), also denotes the dragging of corpses by dogs (see especially XXII 335-336). Nevertheless, the verb that denotes the dragging of victims by lions is also helkô (XI 239, XVIII 581).

§7n1. Cf. Köhnken 1971.34-35; also Carey 1976.37.

§7n2. For the function of the praise poem as a "song [humnos] of the kômos" (adjective epikômios; or enkômios, as at Pindar N.1.7, O.2.47, etc.), see §20.

§7n3. On the function of the Nemean Games as a ritual extension of "the eris between Adrastos and the Thebans," cf. Köhnken 1971.35. On the theme of the strife between Eteokles and Polyneikes, see Ch.14§12n3. The strife is caused by the curse of Oedipus, to whom his sons had given the wrong moîra of meat (see Ch.7§16n3); by doing so, Eteokles and Polyneikes were in effect making oneidos against their father (oneideiontes: Thebais fr. 3.2 Allen).

§7n4. For momphâ as `blame' cf. also the corresponding verb memphomai as at Pindar N.1.24 (memfomnoiw ).

§8n1. Note that the verbal eris/neîkos at the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis escalates into the physical eris/neîkos of the Trojan War; see Ch.11§12. To put it another way: the words eris/neîkos apply not only to the language of blame but also to the action of physical combat.

§8n2. On the use of this vocative: Brunius-Nilsson 1955.

§8n3. Iros is said to get his name for being messenger of the suitors (xviii 6-7); thus the function of Îros is presented as parallel to that of Îris, messenger of the Olympian gods in the Iliad. I see no internal evidence that would justify our dismissing this theme as a haphazard contrivance based on the formal parallelism of Îros and Îris. Indeed, Iros may well have functioned as the figure who quotes actual messages of the suitors in more expanded versions of the story.

§9n1. §§4-5.

§9n2. See §5.

§9n3. As Calvert Watkins points out to me, the syntax in the beginning of this narrative is strikingly parallel to the syntax in what is thought to be the beginning of the comic poem known as the Margites (fr. 1W). Note that the subject of the introductory sentence in xviii 1 is ptôkhos 'beggar', whereas the corresponding subject in the Margites (fr. 1.1W) is aoidos 'singer, poet'.

§9n4. xviii~f1 Appearances are deceiving, however. The action of the narrative will reveal that Iros indeed has no îs or biê (on the use of biê as synonym of îs: Ch.5§37), since he is bested by his "rival" Odysseus when their eris 'strife' escalates from verbal to physical combat (on which see §8n1). Accordingly, those who witness the combat call him A-îros (xviii 73), which may be reconstructed as *[[circumflex]]-uîros and glossed etymologically as "he who has no force = *uîs." This form serves as a comic correction for what now emerges as the ironically misapplied meaning of Îros as *uîros "he who has force = *uîs." Thus the form Îros seems to be a play on an unattested Greek word *uîros, cognate with Latin uir 'man', etc. My reasoning here is based on the article of Bader 1976. I must add, however, that Bader's presentation does not account for the primary connection of Îros with Îris in the narrative (on which see §8n3). The apparent connection of Îros with *uîros `he who has *uîs' has to be considered secondary from the standpoint of the narrative (see again xviii 6-7). Still, the name Îris itself may well be derived from the same root *uî- as in îs: see Ch.20§9n6.

§9n5. For koros 'satiety', cf. also Pindar O.1.55-57: the sin of Tantalos is called his koros in that he could not "digest" (katapepsai) his vast olbos 'prosperity'.

§10n1. Cf. Theognis 581-582.

§10n2. See Stokes 1891.64-67 for text and translation. The translation is also conveniently available in Cross and Slover 1936.31-32.

§11n1. See Ch.2§15.

§11n2. See §8. When Telemachus urges Antinoos to give food to the disguised Odysseus, the expression dw o ln 'take and give to him' at xvii 400 corresponds to dmenai ka pll' nelnta 'take much and give' at xviii 16. In both verses, these expressions are in collocation with o ... fyonv 'I do not have phthonos', applying to Telemachus and Odysseus respectively.

§12n1. Benveniste 1969 I 341 = 1973.278.

§13n1. E.g., the speaker himself! For the story, see xv 403-484.

§13n2. On the formation of dêmiourgos, see Bader 1965.133-141. The prime concept inherent in the word seems to be social mobility: a dêmiourgos is affiliated with the whole dêmos 'district', not with any one household. Note that Ithaca counts as one dêmos (see, e.g., i 103, xiv 126, etc.). For more on the semantics of dêmos, see Ch.19§3n5.

§13n3. On the parallelism of artisans and poets, which is presented here as a social reality within the context of the dêmos, see also Ch.17§§10-13.

§14n1. For the visual implications of the verb thelgô 'put into a trance' (used here at lines 514 and 521), see Householder/Nagy 1972.769-770.

§14n2. On which see Ch.7§26. Note that dinner time is the context for the performance of this entertaining narrative (xiv 192-198).

§14n3. See Muellner 1976.96.

§14n4. Muellner, p. 97.

§14n5. The key word is eukhomai (ejmenow 'saying proudly': xiv 463), on which see Muellner, pp. 96-97. Note also the use of eukhomai 'I say proudly' (xiv 199) at the beginning of the first-person narrative about the Cretan adventurer.

§14n6. Muellner, p. 97.

§15n1. Pucci 1977.76. Cf. also Meuli 1975 [= 1954] 739-742 and 751-753.

§15n2. See §14n5.

§15n3. On the use of epos to mean not just `utterance, word(s)' but also `poetic utterance' as quoted by the poetry itself, see Koller 1972, esp. p. 17 on Tyrtaeus fr. 4.2W. Cf. also Ch.15§7 on XX 203-205 and Ch.17§12 on Theognis 15-18.

§15n4. My translation emphasizes the up/down motion conveyed by eryew / kataysyai . I should add, however, that the combination of kataysyai with xrin conveys yet another theme, that of fulfilled reciprocity.

§15n5. On the programmatic connotations of euphrosunâ as `victory revel' in epinician poetry, see Bundy 1962.2. In H.Hermes 481-482, the lyre is said to be a means of euphrosunê 'mirth' at the kômos; on the kômos, see §20.

§16n1. See again §11.

§17n1. For the wording of this definition, see Verdenius 1962.389, who actually cites xiv 508.

§17n2. Verdenius (ibid.) also cites an interesting parallel use of the word aînos in Sophocles Philoktetes 1380.

§17n3. For a sound discussion of the mythological paradigm and its function in Pindaric poetry, I cite Köhnken 1971.

§17n4. Surely the words that Phoinix intends for Achilles in Iliad IX, spoken in the presence of an audience of philoi (IX 528), qualify for designation by the word parainesis (abstract noun derived from verb paraineô). See Maehler 1963.47.

§18n1. See again §17.

§18n2. In Aristophanes Birds 651-653, the fable known as "The Fox and the Eagle" is actually attributed not to Archilochus (cf. fr. 174W) but to Aesop (cf. Fable 1 Perry). For more on the Aesopic aînos and its applications in Attic comedy, see Fraenkel 1920. On the classification of the Aesopic fable as aînos, see Quintilian 5.11.19-21 (Aesop Testimonium 98 Perry) and Aelius Theon Progymnasmata 3 (Rhetores Graeci II 72 ff. Spengel; Aesop Testimonium 103 Perry). Aelius Theon (ibid.) also observes that the designation aînos is appropriate because the fables of Aesop have the function of parainesis (on this word see §17, esp. n4). It seems significant in this connection that the adopted son of Aesop is called Aînos in the Life of Aesop tradition (Vita W 103-110 Perry), and that Aesop aims at him what may surely be classified as a parainesis (Vita W 109-110). The story of Aesop and Ainos is apparently built on themes derived from the traditional story of Achiqar and Nadan (on which see Perry 1952.5-10), but its arrangement of these themes seems to suit the meaning of the word aînos in particular and the social function of the figure Aesop in general. After the adopted son's treachery against his father has been foiled, Aesop gives a "parainesis" to Aînos, whereas Achiqar gives both a scourging and a speech of blame to Nadan (see Perry 1952.9). In both versions, the son dies, but his death in the version of the Life of Aesop tradition is idiosyncratic: Ainos is so "scourged" (mastigvyew ) by the words of Aesop that he kills himself by jumping off a cliff (Vita W 110). In Vita G 142, Aesop himself dies by jumping off a cliff--instead of being pushed off by the Delphians as in Vita W 142. Finally, we may note that the king of Babylon in the story of Aesop and Ainos is called Lukoûrgos (both Vitae G and W). For more on the name Lukoûrgos (from Luko-orgos), see Ch.13§7.

§18n3. On which see Puelma 1972 and Pucci 1977.61-62, 76.

§18n4. For the terms code and message, see Jakobson 1960.

§18n5. For the parallel use of sophos 'well-versed' to express this ideology of exclusiveness in praise poetry, cf. Maehler 1963.93-95; cf. also Nisetich 1975. For a variation on this theme, where being sophos is described as not an adequate criterion for distinguishing the agathos 'good' listener from the kakos 'bad', see Theognis 681-682. Even here, though, the intended audience is the agathoi 'good'.

§18n6. For more on the context: Ch.2§9.

§19n1. As for the words of instruction spoken by Phoinix to Achilles in Iliad IX (see §17n4), the code seems to bear one message from the speaker and another message to the listener; see Ch.6§16. Note too the argument of Meuli (1975 [= 1954] 742-743n2) that the epithet poluainos of Odysseus (e.g., xii 184) means `having many aînoi = fables'. I would rephrase: Odysseus is poluainos in that he can speak about many things in code (witness his "Cretan lies"). Compare the discussion of poluphêmos at Ch.1§4n1.

§19n2. See Chantraine I 35-36.

§20n1. See Ch.6§§12-19.

§20n2. Sinos 1975.65-79.

§20n3. See also §15n5.

§20n4. Cf. also the verb kômazô, as at Pindar N.9.1, P.9.89, etc., and the adjective enkômios, as at Pindar N.1.7, O.2.47, etc. (cf. §7n2).

§21n1. See again §16.

§21n2. Note the striking parallelism of lines 83-84 with Archilochus fr. 23.14-15W. We now see that being ekhthros equals `to blame' just as being philos equals `to praise'. The adjective ekhthros belongs to the same family as the noun ekhthos, which we have observed in the following Pindaric characterization: cogern Arxloxon barulgoiw xyesin / piainmenon 'Archilochus, having psogos, fattening himself on heavy-worded hatreds [ekhthos plural]' (Pythian 2.55-56). Discussion at §4. Note too the Pindaric characterization of blame poetry as, by its very origin, xyr ... prfasiw 'misrepresentation that is hateful [has ekhthos]' (Nemean 8.32). Discussion at §7.

§21n3. Compare the reciprocity of kleos in Ibycus fr. 282P: at line 48 the word applies to the poet and at line 47 it applies to the patron. See Nagy 1974.250-251 and Watkins 1975.17; cf. also Watkins 1976. For a supplemented text of Ibycus fr. 282P, see now Page 1974 S 151-165.

§21n4. Pickard-Cambridge 1927.15: "wolf's gait." On the Indo-European motif of the wolf as a figure who is outside of society: Gernet 1936. I owe this reference to O. M. Davidson.

§21n5. On the formal connections between Luk-ambês and i-ambos: West 1974. 26-27.

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