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

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Chapter 14

Epos, the Language of Blame, and the Worst of the Achaeans

§1. The resemblances in poetic form between the Archilochean Iambos and the Homeric Epos suggest that blame poetry may have evolved away from an old (and unattested) form corresponding to that of praise poetry (as still attested in Pindar and Bacchylides) into its newer form resembling comedy. The key here to formulating the evolution of blame poetry is the evolution of epic poetry itself into a superbly versatile medium equally capable of dialogue and narrative. In fact, Aristotle singles out Homeric Epos as an ideal medium of dialogue (Poetics 1448a20-24, 1460a7), with as much dramatic potential as he finds in Aristophanic comedy or Sophoclean tragedy (Poetics1448a25-28).[1]

§2. Aristotle actually reconstructs a primordial form of blame poetry, which he designates as psogoi, and a coexisting proto-form of praise poetry, which he designates as enkômia or humnoi (Poetics 1448b27). He traces the blame and praise poetry forward in time to the attested forms of Iambos and Epos respectively (iamboi vs. hêroika: Poetics 1448b32-34), adding that comedy and tragedy respectively are the ultimate successors if not descendants of these poetic forms (1449a2-6). This formulation provides us with an attractive set of parallelisms. We see the direct address of blame and praise poetry becoming framed within the narratives of Iambos and Epos. We can also imagine that interchanges of direct address within the narrative can evolve into dialogue, which in turn corresponds to the dialogue of comedy and tragedy. Despite its advantages, however, Aristotle's formulation seems too restrictive, especially in its treatment of Epos as a direct descendant of praise poetry. We may expect, granted, that Epos can quote direct speeches of praise[1] just as Iambos can quote direct speeches of blame. But Epos is in fact more inclusive: we have already seen, for instance, that it also can quote direct speeches of blame--as in the context of narrating a quarrel.[2]

§3. Another difficulty with Aristotle's scheme is that his definition of primordial praise and blame poetry is itself overly restrictive. These poetic forms are said to have their beginnings when the spoudaîoi 'noble' praised the noble and the phaûloi 'base' blamed the base (Poetics 1448b24-27 in conjunction with 1448a1-2).[1] For Aristotle, spoudaîoi and phaûloi "indicate the two ends of the ordinary, aristocratically based, Greek scale of values".[2] In fact, he uses these same words at Nicomachean Ethics 1145b9 as synonyms for "praiseworthy" (spoudaîos kai epainetos) and "blameworthy" (phaûlos kai psektos).[3] From our own examination of what traditional praise poetry actually says about itself, however, we have already seen that blaming the noble and praising the base are also presented as poetic functions--which are of course themselves blamed as base by praise poetry, with its avowed functions of both praising the noble and blaming the base. [4] Moreover, the program of praise poetry entails not only that the noble praise the noble but also that the noble blame the base--a function omitted in Aristotle's formulation. In fact, we hear nothing from Aristotle about the enkômia of Pindar and Bacchylides--the evolution of which should surely be traced from the proto-enkômiathat he himself has posited (see again Poetics 1448b27).

§4. It may well be by way of retrojecting his scheme of current poetic forms that Aristotle conceives of proto-psogoi as blame of the base by the base only and proto-enkômia as praise of the noble by the noble only. This restrictive formulation actually fits the Aristotelian view of attested comedy and tragedy respectively. There is an important adjustment, however: for these attested poetic forms, the actual elements of blame and praise are left out of the formulation. Comedy is seen simply as a base medium representing the actions of the base and tragedy as a noble medium representing the actions of the noble (cf. especially Poetics 1449a32-39). By analogy, then, Aristotle sees proto-psogoi as a base medium representing the actions of the base by way of blame, and likewise proto-enkômia as a noble medium representing the actions of the noble by way of praise(see again Poetics 1448b24-27). There is a clear recognition here that blame and praise had been functional elements "at first" (prôton: 1448b27), in the poetic forms of psogoi and enkômia. There also is a clear implication that they are no longer directly functional in comedy and tragedy. In fact, Aristotle explicitly says so in the case of comedy. He specifies that this poetic form has the dramatic function not of psogos 'blame' but simply of to geloîon 'laughter' (Poetics 1448b37-38).

§5. Since laughter is recognized as the obvious function of comedy also in English usage, we may henceforth approximate Aristotle's to geloîon with 'the comic element' as well as 'laughter' while we proceed to examine further the relationship of blame poetry with Iambos and comedy. Aristotle remarks that comedy represents the actions of the base because to geloîon 'the comic element' is an aspect of to aiskhron 'baseness' (Poetics 1449a32-34) and further, that the laughter of comedy--to geloîon--is intrinsic to aîskhos 'baseness', so long as it is not too painful or destructive (1449a34-37). If indeed the comic element is intrinsic to what is aiskhro- 'base' and aîskhos 'baseness', it is significant that the diction of Homeric Epos itself associates these same words with the overall concept of blame poetry. For example, aîskhos is used as a synonym of oneidos 'blame, reproach' at III 242.[1] Moreover, we see that Melantho enenîpe 'reproached' the disguised Odysseus aiskhrôs 'in a base manner', at xviii 321. Five verses later, the same action is restated: at xviii 326, she enenîpe'reproached' Odysseus oneideiois epeessi 'with words of oneidos'. Finally, Hektor neikessen 'reproached [made neîkos against]' Paris aiskhroîs epeessi 'with base words', at both III 38 and VI 325. The last example is particularly instructive: Hektor's words of blame against Paris are aiskhra 'base' not because Hektor himself is base but because Paris is so. In other words, the subject of blame is base, and so too are the words that describe him, but the blamer himself can remain noble. Such a situation cannot be accommodated by Aristotle's scheme of blame poetry, where the blamer too would have to be base.[2] Moreover, Hektor's words of blame are hardly comic, any more than the words of Achilles when he blamed Agamemnon.[3] Here it is useful to consider again Aristotle's observation that laughter is intrinsic to aîskhos 'baseness' (Poetics 1449a32-37). We may now wish to restate: baseness has merely a potential for the comic element. Having noted that epic diction itself equates aîskhos 'baseness' with the substance of blame, we can now appreciate Aristotle's observation that to geloîon 'laughter' rather than psogos 'blame' is the function of comedy (Poetics 1448b37-38). Again we may restate: blame poetry has a potential for the comic element, and comedy formalizes this element of blame poetry. But blame poetry itself is more inclusive and thus cannot be equated with comedy. Blame poetry can be serious as well as comic; it can condemn as well as ridicule.

§6. Still, the nonserious side of blame poetry is also formally indicated in Homeric diction, and the key word is hepsiaomai'play, get amusement'.[1] The only Homeric attestation of the simplex verb occurs in a particularly suggestive context:

... ciasyai
molp ka frmiggi: t gr t' naymata daitw

... to get amusement
with singing and the lyre: for these are the things that go on at a feast [dais][2]
xxi 429-430

Whereas we see the simplex verb hepsiaomai reflecting the element of poetry, the compound kath-epsiaomai reflects a complementary element, that of blame by way of ridicule. We begin at xix 372, where the disloyal handmaidens kathepsioôntai 'ridicule' the disguised Odysseus. This action of the women is then designated in the next verse as a lôbê 'outrage, disgrace' and as aiskhea 'acts of baseness [aîskhos]' (xix 373). In other words, the ridicule committed by the women is an act of blame.[3] As the blamers of Odysseus, the women are themselves counterblamed by being called kunes 'dogs' at xix 372.[4] The equivalent of kathepsioôntai 'ridicule' at xix 372 is in turn ephepsioonto 'ridiculed' at xix 370, likewise designating the action of the disrespectful handmaidens. This other compound eph-epsiaomai now leads us to another attestation, in one of the most revealing Homeric passages on blame as a foil for praise:

w mn phnw atw ka phna ed,
t d katarntai pntew broto lge' pssv
zv, tr teynet g' fecivntai pantew.
w d' n mmvn atw ka mmona ed,
to mn te klow er di jenoi forousi
pntaw p' nyrpouw, pollo t min syln eipon

If a man is harsh himself and thinks harsh thoughts,
all men pray that pains should befall him hereafter
while he is alive. And when he is dead, all men ephepsioôntai[ridicule] him.
But if a man is blameless[5] himself and thinks blameless thoughts,
the guest-strangers he has entertained carry his kleos far and wide
to all mankind, and many are they who call him esthlos [worthy].[6]
xix 329-334

§7. Of course, the nonserious aspect of blame poetry depends on personal noninvolvement. Blame may be a kharma 'thing of mirth' to others while at the same time being an elenkheiê 'disgrace' to the one who is to experience it (as at XXIII 342).[1] As a particularly striking instance, let us consider these words warning about the ridicule of blame that every husband is meant to fear:

tiw d toi mlista svfronen doke,
ath mgista tugxnei lvbvmnh:
kexhntow gr ndrw, o d getonew
xarous' rntew ka tn, w martnei.
tn n d' kastow ansei memnhmnow
gunaka, tn d totrou mvmsetai.
shn d' xontew moran o gignskomen

And she [the wife] who seems to have the most even disposition
happens to be the very one who commits the greatest disgrace.[2]
Her husband has his mouth agape, and the neighbors make merry at seeing how he too has gone wrong.[3]
Every man will keep it in mind to praise his own wife
and will blame the wife of the other man.
And we do not recognize that we all have the same lot.
Semonides 7.108-114W

In such a situation, the ridicule of blame formalizes the disgrace of the involved and the laughter of the uninvolved.[4]

§8. Since Homeric Epos is of course serious in content (cf. Aristotle Poetics 1448b34-35), it is hardly suited to reflect the comic aspect of blame poetry. By contrast, the Iambos is ideal for this purpose; in fact, the poem of Archilochus that is addressed to Khari-lâos 'whose lâos has mirth' specifically promises khrêma ... geloîon 'a thing of laughter' (fr. 168.2W).[1] We may speculate that there might have been a quality of timelessness in such laughter if indeed the subjects of blame in the Iambos were stock characters.[2] Be that as it may, however, we may surmise from the attested evidence that Iambos was more concerned with laughter than with blame for the sake of blame. In this connection, we come back to Aristotle's useful formulation about comedy: its function is laughter, not blame (Poetics 1448b37-38).

§9. Although Homeric Epos is not intrinsically suited for the comic element, Aristotle does find an attested poetic form, within the Homeric tradition,[1] that has a function parallel to that of comedy. The form in question is represented by the Homeric Margites, which shares with comedy the prime function of to geloîon (Poetics 1448b28-38).[2] From both Aristotle's brief account (ibid.) and the few fragments that have survived (most notably fr. 1W), we know that the Margites even combines the meters of both Epos and Iambos. It consists of dactylic hexameters interspersed with iambic trimeters. From the fragments and the overall testimonia (pp. 69-76 West 1972),[3] we also know that the contents of the Margites resemble those of the Iambos: both the story and its characters are base and ridiculous. Finally, we may note that the very name Margîtêsis built from the adjective margos 'gluttonous, wanton'--a word that serves to designate a base exponent of blame poetry.[4]

§10. In fact, the name Margîtês has a strikingly close formal parallel in Thersîtês, the name of a figure described in the Iliad itself as the most base of all the Achaeans who came to Troy. The actual word here for 'most base' is aiskhistos (II 216), belonging to the family of the same noun aîskhos that conventionally designates the baseness of blame poetry. This man who is the worst of the Achaeans (cf. also II 248-249) is also described as ekhthistos'most hateful' to Achilles and Odysseus specifically (II 220), who happen to be the best of the Achaeans in the Iliad and Odysseyrespectively--and thereby the two preeminent figures of Panhellenic Epos.[1] In this respect also, the word ekhthistos is significant. It belongs to the family of the same noun ekhthos 'hatred' that conventionally designates the nature of blame poetry compared to that of praise poetry: "being ekhthros" as against "being philos."[2] Moreover, Thersites is said to be ekhthistos 'most hateful' in particular to Achilles and Odysseus (II 220) for the following reason:

... t gr neikeeske

... because he made neîkos against these two
II 221

Thersites is the most inimical figure to the two prime characters of Homeric Epos precisely because it is his function to blame them. Epos is here actually presenting itself as parallel to praise poetry by being an institutional opposite of blame poetry. This passage, then, even supports Aristotle's formulation of Epos as a descendant of enkômia 'praise poetry' (Poetics 1448b24-38).[3] We should add the qualification, however, that Epos is more likely a partial and maybe even an indirect descendant.[4] Nevertheless, it implicitly recognizes its own affinity to praise poetry.

§11. The name of Thersîtês connotes blame poetry not only by way of its parallelism with the formation Margîtês.[1] The boldness conveyed by the element thersi- is not the same as a warrior's thersos/tharsos 'boldness'.[2] Rather, it is akin to the thersos/tharsos 'boldness' of the blame poet. Consider the expression thersi-epês phthonos 'bold-worded envy' at Bacchylides 13.199, which serves as a foil for aineitô 'let him praise' at line 201.[3] Or again, we may note that Antinoos calls Odysseus tharsaleos 'bold' (xvii 449) after hearing a speech directed at him by the would-be beggar, who is asking him for food (xvii 415-444). When the base suitor refuses, he is reproached by Odysseus (xvii 454-457), whose words are actually acknowledged as oneidos [plural] 'blame' by Antinoos.[4] Finally, consider the collocation Polutherseidê philokertome at xxii 287, applied in derision to Ktesippos, another of the base suitors, at the moment of his death by the man who killed him, the loyal Philoitios. The lôbê 'outrage' of Ktesippos against the disguised Odysseus (xx 285)[5] had been verbal as well as physical: while sarcastically advocating that the apparent beggar be treated as a xenos (xx 292-298), Ktesippos had thrown a foot of beef at him (xx 299-300). Having now avenged this insult, Philoitios ridicules the slain Ktesippos by calling him Polu-therseidês and philo-kertomos (xxii 287) in the context of reproaching him specifically for improper speech at the time of his physical attack on Odysseus (xxii 287-289). The mock patronymic Polu-therseidês 'son of Bold-in-many-ways' reinforces the epithet philo-kertomos 'lover of reproaches'.[6] In sum, a man who had reproached Odysseus is now getting a taste of his own medicine.

§12. Similarly, Thersites in the Iliad gets blame for having given blame. He dares to reproach Agamemnon (II 225-242), and the narrative introduces his words with neikee 'made neîkos' (II 224), then concludes them with phato neikeiôn 'spoke making neîkos' (II 243). Thersites is in turn reproached by Odysseus himself (II 246-264), whose own words of blame are introduced with ênîpape 'reproached' (II 245)[1] and concluded with his actually beating Thersites (II 265-268). Significantly, this combined physical and verbal abuse of Thersites results in pain and tears for the victim (II 269) but laughter for the rest of the Achaeans (II 270).[2] Here again, we see a theme of reversal, since the function of Thersites himself was "to make eris against kings" (rizmenai basilesin : II 214)[3] -- in accordance not with the established order of things[4] but rather with whatever he thought would make the Achaeans laugh(II 214-215).

§13. We may note that the word here for 'laughable' is actually geloiion (II 215), corresponding to Aristotle's term for the function of comedy, to geloîon (Poetics 1448b37, 1449a32-37). We may note also that Aristotle's concept of aîskhos 'baseness', to which the concept of to geloîon 'laughter' is intrinsic (Poetics 1449a32-37), corresponds to the characterization of Thersites as the aiskhistos 'most base' of all the Achaeans who came to Troy (II 216). I infer, then, that Homeric Epos can indeed reflect the comic aspect of blame poetry, but that it does so at the expense of the blame poet. In the Thersites episode of the Iliad, it is Epos that gets the last laugh on the blame poet, rather than the other way around. Not only the maltreatment of Thersites by Odysseus but even his physical description by the narrative makes him an object of ridicule. Epos dwells on his deformities in repulsive detail (II 217-219), thus compounding the laughter elicited by his baseness. He is aiskhistos 'most base' not only for what he says and does (or for what is said and done to him by Odysseus!) but also for his very ugliness. And surely the base appearance of Thersites serves to mirror in form the content of his blame poetry. The content, in fact, is a striking illustration of what is called in Pindaric praise poetry ekhthrâ ... parphasis 'hateful misrepresentation' (N.8.32)--the negative essence of blame poetry.[1] In the words that Thersites is quoted as saying, we actually find such a misrepresentation: the anger of Achilles, he says, is nonexistent, since such a superior hero would surely have killed Agamemnon if he had really been angry (II 241-242). Since the mênis 'anger' of Achilles is the self-proclaimed subject of the Iliad (I 1), these words of Thersites amount to an actual misrepresentation of epic traditions about Achilles.[2] As a blamer of the Iliad, Thersites is deservedly described at II 220 as ekhthistos 'most hateful' to the prime hero of our epic.

§14. From what we have seen up to now, the story of Thersites in the Iliad surely stands out as the one epic passage with by far the most overt representation of blame poetry. And we have yet to add the cumulative evidence from the overall diction in this passage, with its striking concentration of words indicating blame as a foil for Epos:[1]

eris 'strife'
Thersites makes eris against kings (rizmenai basilesin : II 214, 247).
neîkos 'quarrel, fight'
Thersites makes neîkos against kings in general (neikeein : II 277) and Agamemnon in particular (nekee : II 224, 243); also against Achilles and Odysseus (neikeeske : II 221), who are also kings (cf. I 331 and IX 346 respectively).
oneidos 'blame, reproach'
Thersites speaks "with words of oneidos" (neideoiw pessin : II 277), equated with "making neîkos" against kings (neikeein : same verse), on which see the previous entry in our list. The plural of oneidos designates his words against kings in general and Agamemnon in particular (nedea at II 251 and 222 respectively). He is "making oneidos" against Agamemnon (neidzvn : II 255).
kertomeô 'reproach [verb]'[2]
The participle (kertomvn : II 256) is equated with the participle of oneidizô 'make oneidos' (neidzvn : II 255). The subject is Thersites. For the ridiculing aspect in the semantics of kertomeô, see §11n6.
elenkhos 'reproach, disgrace'
Thersites reproaches all the Achaeans by addressing them with the plural of this neuter noun, described as kaka 'base' (kk' lgxea : II 235).[3] For more on elenkhos, see §7, especially n1; also §11n4.
lôbêtêr 'man of lôbê [outrage]'[4]
This epithet is applied to Thersites by Odysseus (II 275). For more on lôbê, see §§5(n1), 6, 11.
aiskhistos 'most base'
See again §§10, 13.
ekhthistos 'most hateful'
See again §10
Finally, we may append a set of negative epithets applied to Thersites that serve to reproach not only the poetic form of his discourse but also its very style:
'whose words [epos plural] have no moderation' (II 212)
'whose words [mûthos plural] cannot be sorted out' (II 246)
'who throws his words [epos plural]' (II 275).[5]


§1n1. Cf. Plato Republic 392d-394d. From Plato Ion 535c, we see that a rhapsode of epic uses its dialogues to show off his full powers of dramatic performance (mimêsis); cf. also Ion 536a. Else (1965.69) summarizes: "The rhapsodes did not merely recite Homer, they acted him, and from this quasi-impersonation of Homeric characters it was only a step to full impersonation, from the rhapsode who momentarily spoke in the person of Achilles or Odysseus to the 'actor' who presented himself as Achilles or Odysseus."

§2n1. A worthy example is the praise of Odysseus by Agamemnon at xxiv 192-202 (discussion at Ch.2§13). Compare also Semonides 7.30-31W, where the praise of a woman by a xenos 'guest-stranger' is quoted directly. The quotation itself is introduced with the word epainesei 'will praise' (7.29).

§2n2. Above, Ch.12§6.

§3n1. See Lucas 1968.75 on 1448b25-26; also p. 63 on 1448a2.

§3n2. Lucas, p. 63.

§3n3. For a discussion of the words epaineô 'praise' and psegô 'blame', see again Ch.12§§2-3.

§3n4. See esp. Ch.12§4.

§5n1. On the word oneidos, see Ch.12§§3, 7 (usage in praise poetry) and Ch.12§§6, 11 (usage in Epos). Also, aîskhos is used as a synonym of lôbê 'outrage, disgrace' at XIII 622, xviii 225, xix 373. Finally, note that Clytemnestra is said at xi 433 to have made aîskhos not only for herself but also for all womankind in the future by way of betraying Agamemnon. At xxiv 200, this same betrayal turns the very concept of Clytemnestra into a stugerê ... aoidê 'hateful song' that will survive into the future (xxiv 201) and will bring a bad name to all womankind (xxiv 201-202). We have here one of the clearest instances of blame as blame poetry. For more on xxiv 192-202, see Ch.2§13.

§5n2. See again §3.

§5n3. See Ch.12§6. Consider also the aoidê 'song' of blame directed at Clytemnestra in particular and women in general (xxiv 199-202), as discussed at n1. This aoidê blaming Clytemnestra serves as a serious foil for the aoidê praising Penelope (xxiv 196-198). For the typology of praising/blaming the wives of others and one's own, cf. Semonides 7.112-113W, on which there is more at §7.

§6n1. For the semantics, see Chantraine II 394.

§6n2. Whereas the conventional 'amusement' denoted by this word is nonserious, the actual 'amusement' intended by Odysseus for the suitors is of course dead serious.

§6n3. On lôbê and aîskhos as indicators of blame, see §5n1.

§6n4. On the traditional use of kuôn 'dog' and its derivatives in the language of blame: Ch.12§6.

§6n5. On the etymology of amûmôn 'blameless', see Chantraine I 79. The word is probably related to mômos 'blame, reproach' (on which see Ch.12§3). In Hesychius, the related noun mûmar is glossed as aîskhos and psogos; also, the verb mûmarizei is glossed as geloiazei 'jests'.

§6n6. Whereas the harsh man gets the ridicule of blame poetry, the blameless man gets the kleos of praise poetry. As such, the blameless man qualifies as esthlos 'worthy'. The collocation of kleos with this epithet esthlos is suggestive: see Ch.10§3n2.

§7n1. The words elenkhos/elenkheiê designate the shame and disgrace that result from blame (cf. XI 314). The derivative adjective elenkhês 'worthy of reproach' is specifically applied to the person who is being blamed (as at IV 242, where the quoted words of blame are introduced by neikeieske 'made neîkos' at verse 241). Note too the use of elenkhos in Pindar N.8.21, introducing the theme of blame poetry at lines 21-25 (on which see Ch.12§5).

§7n2. For more on lôbê 'outrage, disgrace': §5n1.

§7n3. Cf. Hesiod W&D 701, warning men not to choose a bad wife--the source of kharmata 'merriment' for the neighbors. Cf. also Theognis 1107-1108 = 1318a-b W, where one man's misfortunes are described as a katakharma 'thing of merriment' to one's ekhthroi 'enemies' and a ponos 'pain' to one's philoi 'friends'. For more on the semantics of root *khar- as in khairô and kharis, see Ch.5§39.

§7n4. At XXI 389-390, Zeus "laughed" (egelasse) in his heart with "mirth" (gêthosunêi) when he saw the other Olympians confronting each other in eris (ridi ). Compare the epithet kakokhartos 'made happy by evil/misfortune' as applied to Eris personified in Hesiod W&D 28; compare also the image of Eris as she "made merry" (khaîre) over the fighting of the Achaeans and Trojans, at XI 73. For more on the theme of blame as grief for the one who is blamed and laughter for the ones who hear the blame, see §11n6 below.

§8n1. Cf. Ch.5§39.

§8n2. Cf. Ch.12§21, Ch.13§§2, 6, 7.

§9n1. I note again--as I have done throughout--that in matters of archaic Greek poetry our concern should be more with questions of poetic tradition than with questions of poetic authorship.

§9n2. Aristotle specifically attributes the Margites to "Homer" (ibid.). My own formulation is that the poem is within the Homeric tradition (n1). Aristotle's attribution is nevertheless valuable because it implies an affinity of the Margites with Homeric composition that cannot be matched by the Cycle, which Aristotle does not even attribute to "Homer" (Poetics 1459b1). For more on the Margites as archaic poetry in the Homeric tradition, see Forderer 1960.

§9n3. For an interesting supplement: West 1974.190.

§9n4. See Ch.12§9.

§10n1. See Ch.2; cf. also Puelma 1972.105n74.

§10n2. See Ch.12§21n2.

§10n3. In this connection, we may note again the interesting expression used by the rhapsidoi 'rhapsodes' to designate "recite Homer": Homêron epaineîn (discussion at Ch.6§6n4). Moreover, the word kleos designates both praise poetry (Ch.12§3) and Epos (Ch.1§2).

§10n4. Cf. §2.

§11n1. On the forms, see Chantraine 1963.21.

§11n2. See Chantraine, p. 20, for attestations of historical figures in Thessaly named Thersîtâs, where indeed the naming must have been inspired by the concept of a warrior's thersos (Aeolic for tharsos).

§11n3. On this instance of phthonos, see also Ch.12§4.

§11n4. See Ch.12§11. Compare also xviii 390, where the suitor Eurymakhos tells the disguised Odysseus that he has spoken tharsaleôs'boldly'. The would-be beggar has just spoken words of counter-reproach to the suitor (xviii 366-386), who had reproached Odysseus for being a glutton (xviii 357-364). Note that Eurymakhos specifically reproaches Odysseus for having an insatiable gastêr 'belly' (xviii 364), and that Odysseus refers to this in his counter-reproach when he speaks to Eurymakhos as one who is "reproaching my belly," tên gaster' oneidizôn (xviii 380). In this connection, we should observe the insulting of the poet by the Muses in Hesiod Th. 26: shepherds are gasteres oîon 'mere bellies'. For the appositive kak' elenkhea 'base objects of reproach' (again, Th. 26), see the brief discussion of elenkhos at §7n1; cf. §14. For a brilliant exercise in correlating Th. 26 with Odyssey xiv 124-125, see Svenbro 1976.50-59: the gastêr is an emblem of the poet's readiness to adjust his themes in accordance with what his immediate audience wants to hear.

§11n5. For the implications of lôbê: §5n1.

§11n6. The word kertomiai 'reproaches' at xx 263 is equated with thûmos enîpês 'spirit of blame' at xx 266. (For more on the noun enîpê 'blame, reproach' and the corresponding verb enenîpe 'blamed, reproached [aorist]', see §5 and Ch.13§6.) Note too the use of the verb kertomeô 'reproach' at xviii 350: the suitor Eurymakhos is kertomeôn 'reproaching' Odysseus, and his words of blame are said to cause akhos 'grief' for Odysseus (xviii 348) and gelôs 'laughter' for the other suitors (xviii 350).

§12n1. On the family of enîpê 'blame, reproach' (with expressively reduplicated aorists enenîpe and ênîpape), see Chantraine II 349. Cf. §§5, 11(n6); also Ch.13§6.

§12n2. Cf. §§7 and 11(n6).

§12n3. Since the function of Thersites as blame poet is described as the making of eris against kings and since the kleos of praise poetry is traditionally described as etêtumon 'true, genuine' (see Ch.12§3n2), we may compare the epic antithesis of Eteo-kleês ('whose kleos is genuine') as king and Polu-neikês ('whose reproaches are many') as potential usurper. Cf. Reinhardt 1951.339 en passant; also Burkert 1972b.83. For more on the strife between Eteokles and Polyneikes, see Ch.7§16n3 and Ch.12§7n3. For more on neîkos 'quarrel, fight' as a word marking blame as a foil for praise, see above at Ch.12§3. Finally, compare the semantics of Thersîtês with the name given to the son of Polu-neikês, Thers-andros (Pindar O.2.43). On the convention of naming heroes after the father's prime characteristic, see further at Ch.8§9n2.

§12n4. The expression kata kosmon 'according to the established order of things' (II 214) implies that blame poetry, when justified, has a positive social function. Cf. Ch.2§13n5.

§13n1. See Ch.12§7.

§13n2. Note too that Thersites here fails to use the word mênis for 'anger', resorting instead to the unmarked kholos (II 241). Cf. Ch.5§8n2.

§14n1. Compare this list with the original list at Ch.12§3, comprised of words indicating blame as a foil for praise poetry.

§14n2. Cf. also kertomeîn at Archilochus fr. 134W.

§14n3. Cf. also the reproach of the poet by the Muses in Hesiod Th. 26: shepherds are kak' elenkhea 'base objects of reproach'; see §11n4. We may note that the Judgment of Paris took place in his messaulos 'courtyard [for animals]' (XXIV 29), where he blamed Hera and Athena but praised Aphrodite (see Ch.11§16). On the pastoral background of the Paris figure: scholia (A) to Iliad III 325.

§14n4. Cf. also lôbêt[... at Archilochus fr. 54.9W (the same fragment also contains the name of Lykambes!).

§14n5. For the formation of this word, cf. the interesting collocation epesin ... êde bolêisin at xxiv 161, referring to the way in which the suitors had reproached Odysseus (enissomen, same verse).

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