Pindar's Homer
The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past
a machine readable edition
Gregory Nagy

Copyright © 1980, 1997 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved. 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 5

The Ordeal of the Athlete and the Burden of the Poet

§1. Having contemplated the ritual ideology of athletic events in one particular festival, from among the four seasonally recurring Panhellenic Games that produced the victors celebrated by the lyric poetry of Pindar, we may proceed to consider how this poetry formally relates itself to such ritual ideology.

§2. A prominent word used in the lyric poetry of Pindar and elsewhere for the concept of athletic event is agôn (e.g., Pindar Olympian1.7), apparently derived from the root ag- of agô as in sun-agô 'bring together, assemble, gather'. 1 The notion of 'assemble' is intrinsic to the general sense of agôn, that is, 'assembly' (e.g., Pindar Pythian10.30). This meaning is still preserved in various contexts, from which we can see that there can be 'assemblies' of not just people but even, for example, ships (e.g., Iliad XV 428). But in numerous other contexts the word specifically means 'contest' (e.g., Pindar Olympian9.90). Thus agôn conveys not only the social setting for an activity, namely, an assembly of people, but also the activity itself, namely, a contest. The implicitness of the notion of contest in the word for 'assembly' reflects a basic institutional reality about the ancient Greeks: 2 whenever they came together in whatever was called an agôn, they competed. 3 Using this word agôn, Nietzsche in fact characterized competitiveness, this fundamental aspect of ancient Greek society, as der agonale Geist. 4 The notion of competition built into agôn is admirably reflected in the English borrowing antagonism. 5 To think of agôn as 'athletic contest', however, would be to understand but one aspect of the ancient Greek agonale Geist. The word applies not only to athletic but also to martial activity. 6 Moreover, it applies to poetic or rhetorical activity. 7 The ritual aspect of these activities is suggested by attestations of the derivative word agôniâ in the sense of 'agony' (e.g., Demosthenes On the Crown 33, "Aristotle" Problems 869b6). Instead of the English borrowing agony, however, I prefer to use the word ordeal, which connotes not only the personal but also the ritual aspect of the agôn as a process diachronically characteristic of initiation into adulthood. 8

§3. The ritual aspect of the agôn is elucidated by another word, aethlos or âthlos, 1 which is likewise used in the sense of 'contest' in referring to the activities of athletics (e.g., Herodotus 5.22.2) and war (e.g., 1.67.1). A closely related word is aethlon or âthlon, meaning 'prize to be won in a contest'; 2 a derivative is âthlêtês, meaning 'athlete' (the English word is a borrowing from the Greek). That this word aethlos carries with it the sense of ritual is already clear from the epithet that characterizes it: hieros 'sacred' (Pindar Olympian8.64, 13.15). More than that: in Pindaric usage aethlos applies equally to the contests of athletes and to the life-and-death ordeals of heroes. We have already seen from the myth of the chariot race of Pelops that the ordeals of heroes on the level of myth correspond aetiologically to the contests of athletes on the level of ritual, in that the myths can motivate the rituals. Now we see that a word like aethlos can collapse the very distinction between the myth and the ritual. Thus when Pelops embarks upon the chariot race against Oinomaos with the understanding that he will live if he wins but die if he loses, he refers to the race as an aethlos (Pindar Olympian 1.84). 3 Elsewhere in Pindaric song, the word applies to the mortally dangerous tasks imposed by King Aietes on Jason as a precondition for the hero's possessing the Golden Fleece (Pindar Pythian 4.220) 4 --ordeals that include the ploughing of a large field with a pair of fire-breathing bronze bulls (4.224-227) and fighting to the death a monstrous dragon that was guarding the Fleece (4.243-246). 5 In yet another Pindaric context, aethlos applies to one of the Labors of Herakles, namely, the hero's life-and-death struggle with the Nemean Lion (Pindar Isthmian6.48). 6 In the language of epic as well, aethlos applies either to an athletic competition, such as the Funeral Games of Patroklos (e.g., Iliad XXIII 646), or to a life-and-death struggle: as an example of the latter theme, I cite the Homeric application of the word in the plural to the Labors of Herakles, all considered together (Iliad VIII 363). 7 Finally, in the context of actual war, we find aethlos applying to the martial efforts, all considered together, of Achaeans and Trojans alike in the Trojan War (Iliad III 126), or, considered separately, to the efforts of the Achaeans in general (Odyssey iii 262) or of Odysseus in particular (iv 170).

§4. For the athlete the ritual significance of these life-and-death struggles by heroes finds its expression in the occasional lyric poetry of Pindar. In order to introduce this topic, however, I choose a remarkably suggestive passage not from Pindar but from quite elsewhere, namely, the Alcestis of Euripides. Offstage, the quintessential hero Herakles has just wrestled with and defeated Thanatos, Death personified; then, on stage, he cryptically refers to this confrontation as an athletic event: athlêtaisin axion ponon 'a worthy exertion [ponos] for athletes' (Euripides Alcestis 1027). In his speech Herakles does not reveal that he has struggled with Thanatos but prefers to represent his life-and-death ordeal as a wrestling match at a local athletic festival. 1 In the words of Herakles his 'exertion' in the wrestling match with Death was a ponos (again Alcestis 1027). 2 This and another word for 'exertion', kamatos, are programmatically used in the diction of Pindar to designate the hardships of preparing for and engaging in athletic competition. 3 Moreover, both ponos and kamatos are used by the poet to designate the life-and-death struggles of heroes. 4 As with the word aethlos 'contest', with ponos and kamatos there is a collapsing of the distinction between the myth of the hero's struggle and the ritual of the athlete's competition. Accordingly, 'ordeal' may be more apt a translation than 'exertion' for both ponos and kamatos since it conveys not only a heroic but also a ritual experience.

§5. This set of poetic words, as used in Pindar's diction, helps us understand more clearly the ritual ideology inherited by Greek athletics. As noted, 1 this ideology reveals diachronic features of two kinds of ritual: (1) initiation into adulthood and (2) compensation for the catastrophe of death. In the first case it is easy to see how the ordeal conveyed by words like aethlos, ponos, and kamatos is characteristic of initiation. In the second case, however, the connection between a hero's ordeal and the idea of compensating for a primordial death is more difficult to intuit. We must call to mind again the formulation of Karl Meuli: in various societies throughout the world, ritual combat can have the function of compensating for guilt about someone's death. 2 The guilt can be canceled by way of an ordeal that decides the guilty person, in that the guilty person is killed in the ordeal while any innocent person survives. Such an ordeal may take the form of either a life-and-death contest 3 or an attenuated form of competition where "living" and "dying" may be stylized as winning and losing, respectively. 4 As I have already proposed, however, the ancient Greek model of such an ordeal reflects a rearrangement in ideology: in contrast with other models where the ordeal instituted to compensate for the guilt of a given person's death requires that one contestant "die" by losing and thereby be proven guilty while the other contestant or contestants "live," the Greek model requires that one contestant "live" by winning. 5 This "survival" of one person is then pluralized, communalized, by the khoros 'chorus', on the occasion of the epinician or victory celebration. 6 But the Greek model is still an ordeal, instituted to compensate for the guilt of a given person's death; to engage in the ordeal is to engage in the act of compensation. The ordeal, as part of an initiation, leads to a "winning" of life, a "rebirth" that compensates for death.

§6. For an example, let us take the Tlêpolemeia, a seasonally recurring festival of athletic contests held on the island of Rhodes and named after Tlepolemos, son of Herakles and the founder of Rhodes. 1 In the words of Pindar this athletic festival was founded by Tlepolemos as a lutron 'compensation' for what the poet calls a 'pitiful misfortune' (lutron sumphoras oiktras Olympian7.77). The catastrophe to which Pindar's ode refers is the hero's deranged slaying, in anger, of his grandmother's half-brother (7.27-32).

§7. The ideological pattern of these athletic games, compensating for the death of Tlepolemos' relative, is parallel to what we have seen in the Olympic foot race, supposedly compensating for the death of Pelops. The pattern can be summarized as follows. In the mythical past, some catastrophe occurs, typically but not necessarily entailing some form of guilt or pollution. Then a ritual is instituted to compensate for that one event. In contrast with the one event recounted in the myth, the events of the ritual are to take place seasonally and into perpetuity. 1 Finally, as we have seen from the diction of Pindar, the ritual ordeals of the athletes are ideologically equated, by way of concepts like aethlos, ponos, and kamatos, to the life-and-death ordeals of heroes in the past. 2

§8. The ritual ordeals of athletes need not correspond in detail to the life-and-death ordeals of heroes. Such correspondences as we find between the athletic event of chariot racing at the Olympics and the chariot race to the death between Pelops and Oinomaos are rare. 1 What is essential, rather, is simply that the ordeals of heroes, as myths, are analogous to the ordeals of athletes, as rituals, in that the themes of living and dying in the myth are analogous to the themes of winning and losing in the ritual of athletics. 2 When athletes win or lose in an athletic event, they "live" or "die" like heroes, and their ordeal thus compensates for a primordial death stemming from the heroic age.

§9. In the context of the athletic ordeal, however, the translation of winning into an actual winning of life is incomplete. From an anthropological point of view, the athletic ordeal proceeds from the phase of segregation in such rites of passage as an initiation into adulthood. Although the ideology of segregation presupposes reintegration, a new life after the death to one's old life, it is nevertheless preoccupied with the symbolism of death itself. Thus, for example, in the festival of the Braurônia, an institution well-known for its overt features of initiation, 1 the young female initiates undergo a phase of segregation by ritually becoming "bears": this seasonally recurring event on the level of ritual (as attested for the cult of Artemis at Brauron) corresponds to a single event on the level of myth (as attested for the closely related cult of Artemis at nearby Mounychia), namely, the primordial killing of the bear of Artemis by an ancestor of the community. 2 In effect, then, the one primordial event of the bear's death is compensated by a perpetual series of seasonally recurring events where the young girls of the community must become "bears" and thus symbolically "die" before they are eligible to marry. In other words, the phase of segregation, where the girls become "bears" and thus prepare to "die," is a prerequisite for the phase of reintegration, where the girls become marriageable adults.

§10. So also with the ritual athletics of males: as we have seen, the institution of a festival like the Tlêpolemeia is a lutron 'compensation'--to cite again the wording of Pindar--for a primordial death (Olympian7.77), so that the athlete symbolically dies by participating in the ordeal of ritual athletics. Even though the one athlete who wins in a given athletic event thereby wins back "life," this winning is incomplete in terms of the ordeal itself: for the winning to be fully realized, the athlete must not only leave behind a ritual phase of segregation but also enter into a ritual phase of reintegration, which can happen only after the ordeal is completed. From the standpoint of ritual, what is needed after a victory in an athletic festival is a joyous return to the community--a reintegration or reincorporation symbolizing life after death. A formal realization of reintegration at home is the epinician or victory ode itself, performed at the victor's home city by a chorus of men or boys who are themselves natives of the city. 1

§11. The role of the chorus is essential. As the detailed investigations of Claude Calame have shown, the khoros 'chorus', a specially selected group of polis-dwellers whose sacred duty it is to sing and dance at a given ritual occasion, 1 amounts to a formal communalization of ritual experience by and for the community: the chorus represents, reenacts, the community of the polis. 2 In the case of an epinician performance, the ritual experience of a single person's athletic victory is being communalized through the chorus. 3

§12. What I am proposing, then, is that the epinician performance is the final realization, the final constitutive event, of the ritual process of athletics. In Pindar's own words the occasion of an epinician ode, stylized as kômos '[occasion for a] band of revellers', is a lutron 'compensation' for the kamatoi 'ordeals' of the athlete (lutron...kamatôn Isthmian8.2). We had seen earlier that the ordeal of the athlete is a formal lutron 'compensation' for a primordial death (lutron sumphoras oiktras 'lutron for the pitiful misfortune' Olympian7.77). Now we see that the Pindaric victory ode is a formal 'compensation' for the athlete's ordeal. 1 The actual Greek word for 'victory ode', epi-nîkion 'epinician', literally means something like 'that which is in compensation for victory [nîkê]'. 2

§13. In sum, the choral lyric poetry of Pindar, specifically his epinician mode of speaking, refers to its own social function in terms of a final stage in the ritual program of the four great Panhellenic Games. This ritual program can be classified as belonging, in the most general of anthropological terms, to the categories of (1) initiation and (2) competition in honor of the dead. These categories, as we have seen, are appropriate to what we may call tribal society. 1 But we have had to move beyond the generalities of anthropology, toward the particularities of Greek civilization, where tribal institutions are reshaped by the twin phenomena of the emergence of the polis and the trend of Panhellenism. One clear symptom of the impact of these phenomena is the fact that the athletic contest leading to the athlete's victory is a competition not in honor of a dead relative, nor even of a distant ancestor--as we might expect from the standpoint of a tribal society--but of a hero. Now the Greek hero is a product of the polis, in that the cult of heroes is historically speaking a transformation of the worship of ancestors on the level of the polis. Furthermore, the Greek hero is a product also of Panhellenism, in that the epic of heroes as represented by Homeric poetry is an artistic and social synthesis on the level of Panhellenic diffusion. 2

§14. So much for the specific Greek variant of the general anthropological category of competition in honor of the dead. As for the other anthropological category that applies to the Panhellenic Games, the category of initiation, the athletic victory and the subsequent celebration of victory are not strictly speaking an initiation for the Greeks, in that the setting is not the tribe but, in the case of the victory, an assembly representing all Hellenes and, in the case of the subsequent celebration of victory, a chorus representing the victor's polis. So, again, we are dealing with a product of the twin phenomena of Panhellenism and the polis.

§15. I do not mean to say that these twin phenomena are antithetical to the tribal institutions that preceded them. Rather, they represent a set of differentiations emanating from tribal institutions. The polis, as not only heir to but also rival of the tribe, neutralizes the threat of rivalry derived from its own tribal heritage by absorbing the compatible aspects of this heritage and by internationalizing (that is, making inter-polis) the incompatible aspects. 1 I call endoskeletal those aspects of the tribe that are absorbed within the polis and exoskeletal those aspects that are generalized outside the polis. 2 In this line of thought, we may say that the institution of ordeal through competition, instead of surviving as the institution of initiation within the endoskeleton, has moved into the exoskeleton as the institution of the Panhellenic Games. Thus, there is a neutralization of a potential conflict between the institution of the polis and the ancestors, who represent the original focus of ordeal through competition and who are the very foundation of extended family structures that survive as institutions antithetical to the evolving polis. My formulation here dovetails with an observation made by Erwin Rohde, that the concept of ancestors in Archaic Greece becomes differentiated into two distinct categories: on the one hand there are the heroes, stylized remote ancestors, who are defined both by their cult in any given individual polis and by their being recognized as heroes by citizens of any other given polis, and on the other hand there are the immediate ancestors, who can be kept within the confines of the polis in the restricted context of families and extended families. 3

§16. Pursuing this line of thought, I also argue that epinician lyric poetry bridges the gap between the endoskeletal and exoskeletal heritage of tribal society. It preserves the ritual ideology of ordeal through competition, and it even presents itself as the final stage in the ritual process, where the victorious athlete is reintegrated into his community. But the community is no longer the family or tribe but the polis, and it is the polis that the chorus of the epinician ode ostensibly represents. 1 A notable example is Pindar F 194 SM, where a chorus of Thebans is represented as if they were rebuilding the walls of Thebes, in that they are metaphorically 'building the walls' (teichizômen) of the kosmos 'arrangement' of the words of their song (lines 2-3). 2

§17. In these patterns of differentiation, it is clear that the concept of local in the opposition of local and Panhellenic is not to be equated with the concept of the polis itself. The polis is local only insofar as it absorbs the endoskeletal aspects of the tribe; but it is also Panhellenic in that it promotes the exoskeletal aspects. The ideology of the polis is not exclusively local, or epichoric: it is simultaneously Panhellenic. Thus whenever the chorus, as representative of the polis, speaks about things epichoric, it does so with a Panhellenic point of view.


Notes

§2n1. Chantraine DELG 17.

§2n2. I use institution in the sense adopted by Benveniste 1969.

§2n3. For an institutional parallel as reflected by the Latin language, see Ch.4§11n3 on the semantics of com-petô.

§2n4. Background in Burkert 1985.105. See also Martin 1983.65-76 on the Greek notion of contest as a solution to problems.

§2n5. Cf. agônismos 'rivalry' in Thucydides 7.70.3.

§2n6. See Brelich 1961 on the ritual parallelism of these two activities. Note especially the reference to war as arêios agôn 'the agôn of Ares' in Herodotus 9.33.3. On the ritual dimensions of early Greek land warfare: Connor 1988, following Burkert 1985.169-170.

§2n7. On agôn as a festival of contests in poetry, see Homeric Hymn6.19-20. On agôn as a festival of contests in athletics and in poetry, song, and dance, see Homeric Hymn to Apollo 149-150 and Thucydides 3.10.3 / 5. On the state-supported Athenian institution of the agôn epitaphios in honor of the war-dead, featuring contests in athletics and in speeches praising the dead, see Demosthenes On the Crown 288 and Aristotle Constitution of the Athenians 58; cf. Roller 1977.26-30, especially p. 27 on the Funeral Oration of Pericles (Thucydides 2.35-46). Note too the following three subjects of the verb agônizomai 'compete, engage in an agôn' in Herodotus: athletes (e.g., 2.160.3-4), warriors (e.g., 1.76.4), and rhapsôidoi 'rhapsodes' (5.67.1).

§2n8. We may note the semantics of German Urteil 'judgment', cognate of English ordeal.

§3n1. Note the combination en...agôniois aethloisi 'in aethloi [plural of aethlos] of the agôn' in Pindar Isthmian5.7.

§3n2. See Chantraine DELG 21; also Loraux 1982.187-188, especially nn84, 87.

§3n3. Quoted Ch.4§22.

§3n4. Cf. Pindar Pythian4.165.

§3n5. I interpret the word ponos at Pindar Pythian. 4.243 as applying to the ordeal of slaying the dragon, not just to the feat of ploughing.

§3n6. See also Bacchylides Epinician 9.8 SM. On aethlos as a generic designation of the Labors of Herakles, see Loraux 1982.186.

§3n7. Also Iliad XIX 133; Odyssey xi 622, .

§4n1. On the theme of wrestling with Death incarnate, common in latter-day Greek Demotic folklore, see Alexiou 1974.37-38. In view of the fact that Hades is the prevalent manifestation of the death god in Archaic Greek literature while Thanatos is rare, it is striking that the scholia to Alcestis 1 describe the myth of this drama as dia stomatos kai dêmôdês historia 'the current and popular story'. See Alexiou, p. 5. As H. Pelliccia suggests to me, the expression dia stomatos 'orally, by word of mouth' conveys the idea that a given theme is current, in currency, as in Xenophon Cyropaedia 1.4.25 and Theocritus 12.21.

§4n2. Cf. the parallel in Phrynichus TGF 2, where Herakles has a wrestling match with Hades (on which see Brelich 1958.102n90, 208).

§4n3. For ponos, see, e.g., Pindar Olympian5.15, Isthmian 5.25, etc. For kamatos, see, e.g., Pythian 5.47, Nemean3.17, etc.

§4n4. For ponos, see, e.g., Pindar Pythian4.236 (exeponêsen, applying to Jason's task of ploughing with the bronze bulls); Pythian4.243 (the same); Pythian4.178 (the voyage of the Argo). For kamatos, see, e.g., Nemean1.70 (the Labors of Herakles). For more on ponos as a heroic struggle, see Loraux 1982.174nn13, 14. For kamatos as heroic 'fatigue', see the passages collected by Loraux, p. 183n61. Note too the expression dus-ponos kamatos at Odyssey v 493. On mokhthos 'struggle', another synonym of ponos, see Loraux, p. 185.

§5n1. Cf. Ch.4§4.

§5n2. Cf. Ch.4§8n2.

§5n3. By contest I do not mean to exclude such events as a race to the death. In Plutarch Sympotic Questions 675c, there is a fascinating but all too brief reference to primordial combats to the death at Olympia.

§5n4. Cf. Ch.4§8.

§5n5. Cf. Ch.4§8.

§5n6. Note the formulation of Burnett 1985.42: "The numbers of the chorus generalized the singular success of the victor." She cites (ibid.) the expression of a collective possession of victory garlands at Bacchylides Epinician 6.8-9 SM (also at Pindar Isthmian7.38).

§6n1. See Nilsson 1906.462-463 on both the literary and the nonliterary evidence for this athletic festival; also Rohde 1898 I 151n1 (I draw attention to the particularly useful comments toward the end of this note).

§7n1. Cf. Homeric Hymn to Demeter 262-267, with reference to a ritual mock-battle at Eleusis, a quasi- athletic event which was officially held on a seasonally-recurring basis to compensate for the death of the child-hero Demophon (N 1979.184); this mock-battle seems to have been the ritual kernel of a whole complex of events known as the Eleusinian Games (cf. Richardson 1974.246).

§7n2. For more on ponos in such a context, see Loraux 1982.174n14.

§8n1. In this instance I have even suggested at Ch.4§10 and following that the quasi-athletic aspects of the ordeal of Pelops reflect the chronologically secondary nature of the Olympic chariot race and of the aition that motivates it: they are predicated on the Olympic foot race and on its respective aition.

§8n2. When heroes themselves are represented as engaging in athletics, the narrative tends to treat the event overtly as athletics, not as a life-and-death struggle. I cite the story of the founding of the Nemean Games by the Seven against Thebes, who were the first to participate in the athletic events (e.g., Bacchylides Epinician 9.10-24 SM: see Ch.4§6n1); also the Funeral Games of Patroklos in Iliad XXIII (in this case, however, the happenings in the athletic events at least latently mirror the life-and-death martial ordeals of the heroes who participate in these events: see Whitman 1958.169).

§9n1. Brelich 1969.242-279; also Vidal-Naquet 1981.197-200 and Vernant 1982-1983.451-456. Cf. Henrichs 1981.198-208. Update in Kahil 1983.

§9n2. The sources are conveniently assembled in Brelich 1969.248-249; cf. also Henrichs 1981.200n2. See Kahil, pp. 237-238 on the iconographic evidence for a sacred footrace, in which young girls run naked; also p. 238 on the sacred dance.

§10n1. This epinician theme of reintegration at home is explored at length by Crotty 1982.104-138 and Slater 1984. Cf. also Kurke 1988.

§11n1. For an explicit reference to singing and dancing: Pindar Pythian1.1-4; cf. Ch.3§5.

§11n2. Calame 1977; cf. Burnett 1985.50 and 175n6, who surveys a series of passages where the epinician poet equates the chorus with the polis. For a useful survey of festivals serving as contexts for choral performance in the Greek-speaking areas of Italy and Sicily, see Burnett 1988.129-147.

§11n3. See Ch.5§5. Cf. Hubbard 1987b.5-6. At p. 8 he writes: "The chorus in Pindar's epinicia is never an independent personality in its own right, but is significant mainly as a reflection of community spirit in celebration of the athletic victory or some other object of praise."

§12n1. Just as the athlete's compensation is a ponos 'effort', so also the poet's: see Pindar Pythian9.93 and Paean 7B.22. Also Nemean7.74, as discussed by Segal 1967.437-439.

§12n2. We may note that the epi- of this formation corresponds to the usage of the preposition epi with the dative case to designate the dead person for whom a given festival of funeral games was celebrated in compensation. See, for example, Ch.4§6n2.

§13n1. Cf. Ch.5§5. For a working definition of tribal society, see the discussion in N 1987.

§13n2. Discussion in N 1979.5-9, 114-117. It may be that descriptions of the deaths of warriors in Homeric poetry serve as a compensation for the absence of ritual detail in descriptions of the deaths of sacrificial victims. Homeric poetry, as a medium that seems to have reached its synthetic Panhellenic status by virtue of avoiding the parochial concerns of specific locales, specific regions, tends to avoid realistic descriptions of ritual, including ritual sacrifice (N, pp. 118-141). This is to be expected, given that ritual sacrifice--as for that matter any ritual--tends to be a localized phenomenon in Archaic Greece. What sacrificial scenes we do find in Homer are highly stylized, devoid of the kind of details that characterize real sacrifices as documented in the epigraphical evidence (cf. N, pp. 132-134, 217). In real sacrifice the ritual dismemberment of the sacrificial victim corresponds to the ideological articulation of the body politic (cf. Detienne and Svenbro 1979). Moreover, the disarticulation of the body in sacrifice presupposes the rearticulation of the body in myths of immortalization (N, pp. 208-209). Given, then, that Homeric poetry avoids delving into the details of disarticulation as it applies to animals, in that it avoids the Realien of sacrificial practice, we may expect a parallel avoidance of the topic of immortalization for the hero. By contrast the local practices of hero cult, contemporaneous with the evolution of Homeric poetry as we know it, are clearly based on religious notions of heroic immortalization (N, pp. 151-210). While personal immortalization is a theme too localized in orientation for Homeric poetry, the hero's death in battle, in all its staggering varieties, is universally acceptable. Homeric poetry compensates for its avoidance of details concerning the sacrifices of animals by dwelling on details concerning the martial deaths of heroes. In this way, the epic poetry of the Greeks, in describing the deaths of heroes, seems to serve as a compensation for sacrifice.

§15n1. Cf. N 1987.

§15n2. These terms were inspired by a conversation with J. Wickersham.

§15n3. See Rohde 1898.108-110; also Brelich 1958.144n202; N 1979.115. Cf. the distinction between the generation of Minos and anthrôpêiê geneê 'human ancestry' in Herodotus 3.122.2, as discussed by Darbo-Peschanski 1987.25. The remote ancestors, as distinct from the immediate ancestors, tend to be absorbed into the political genealogies of the city-state's existing constitution. See, for example, Roussel 1976.68 and 76n21 on the Boutadai, named after the cult hero Boutes. The Reform of Kleisthenes led to the naming of one of the dêmoi 'demes', the new social subdivisions of Athens, as Boutadai, which in turn led to the designation Eteoboutadai 'genuine Boutadai' to distinguish the genuine lineage from the deme; only one of the two branches of the Eteoboutadai resided in the deme to be called Boutadai at the time of the Reform (ibid.).

§16n1. On the chorus as representative of the polis, cf. again Burnett 1985.50 and 175n6, who surveys a series of passages where the epinician poet equates the chorus with the polis. Parallel to this function of the epinician poet, equating the chorus with the polis, is the function of the athlete himself within the ideology of epinician lyric poetry: as Hubbard 1986.44 notes, "the athletic victor too serves as a private man on a collective mission and [...] his victories are just as much an adornment of his city as to himself personally."

§16n2. The polis of Thebes, myth has it, was founded when the sound of Amphion's lyre performance literally built the city walls (Hesiod F 182 MW; Pausanias 6.20.18). A related theme is apparent in the etymological connection of Latin mûnus 'token of reciprocity, duty' and commûnis 'communal' with moenia 'city walls'. The word kosmos can refer to (1) the 'arrangement' of beautiful adornment (Iliad XIV 187), (2) the beautiful 'arrangement' or adorned 'composition' of a song (as in Pindar F 194 SM; cf. Odyssey viii 489), (3) the 'arrangement' or 'constitution' of a polis (Herodotus 1.65.4), and later, by extension, (4) the 'arrangement' or 'order' of the universe (Xenophon Memorabilia 1.1.11). For the connection of this concept of kosmos with that of harmoniâ, dramatized in Theognis15-18 as the Wedding of Kadmos and Harmonia, an alternative myth about the foundation of Thebes, see N 1985.41 §25n2.


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