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

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Introduction

Introduction: A Word on Assumptions, Methods, and Aims

§1. This effort is a continuation of two earlier books. One of these, The Best of the Achaeans, 1 centered on the role of oral tradition in early Greek achievements of poetic artistry and precision of expression, with Homer in the forefront. The task was difficult, in that I was challenging two influential stances that remain fashionable among experts in Greek literature. One of these can be described as an eagerness to explain whatever we admire in Homer as something that must transcend any oral traditions. This is to ignore, I argued, the communicative power of tradition itself: in seeking to discover the genius of invention in the surviving examples of early Greek epic, we run the risk of underrating the continuum of oral tradition from which these examples had emerged. 2 To say this much is not to go so far as to say das Volk dichtet: it is a romantic notion to make generalized claims about folk creativity--claims that in fact blur the observable dynamics of oral tradition within society. 3 It is just as romantic, however, for latter-day critics to attribute the evidence of artistry in Homeric poetry to a genius who is emancipated from oral tradition. Such an attitude is reminiscent of Chateaubriand's notion of "mother-geniuses" (génies mères), as dissected by M. M. Bakhtin. 4

§2. The other influential stance that I challenged in Best of the Achaeans is a general reluctance to recognize artistic values that belonged only to the ancient Greeks and no longer to us. This attitude presumes that we are the heirs to everything of theirs that qualifies as artistic and sophisticated, and whatever fails to match our own criteria of these qualities is more "primitive" and therefore less sophisticated. I am reminded of "God's library," as Voltaire pictures it (Temple du goût, 1732), where the Muses must busy themselves with revising and abridging the existing great books.

§3. Such an attitude encourages the rejection of any interpretation that recognizes precision and subtlety in early Greek poetics. One critic, after disagreeing in detail with various points that I made about allusions in early Greek literature, decided to call a halt after reading the first three of my twenty chapters; he questioned whether he should even have made the effort of going that far into the book since "I felt sure (and I believe many would agree with me) that so sophisticated a technique of allusions is quite alien to the early epic and would hardly be found even in Hellenistic poetry." 1 I cling to the hope of persuading such critics with my present effort, in which I propose to widen the scope of inquiry. 2 Whereas The Best of the Achaeans concerned primarily the epic tradition, this book is an attempt to confront, at least in broad outlines, the full range of poetic and song-making traditions in early Greek civilization. Without such a confrontation, I now fear, my efforts in the previous books may be permanently misunderstood by some. Pindar's Homer provides the background for The Best of the Achaeans.

§4. In widening the scope, I shift the focus from epic to lyric, as represented primarily by the compositions of Alcman, Stesichorus, Alcaeus, Sappho, Ibycus, Anacreon, Simonides, Bacchylides, and Pindar. 1 The conventional dating of these figures covers a period stretching roughly from 650 to 450 B.C., 2 and hereafter I refer to this period as the age of Archaic Greek lyric. The task becomes even more difficult, in face of yet another influential line of thought: I am challenging the tenaciously fashionable notion, which takes shape in many variations, that Archaic Greek lyric represents the rise of individual innovation over collective tradition. It can be said straightaway that such a notion lacks the perspectives of social anthropology. Beyond that, it would be premature at this point to enter into the controversy, which would engulf the reader in a bibliographical quagmire. Instead this notion is challenged by a variety of arguments, both explicit and implicit, that extend throughout this book.

§5. Which brings me to mention the other of the two earlier books that the present work continues, Comparative Studies in Greek and Indic Meter. 1 The basic thesis was that the meter known as the dactylic hexameter of Greek epic originated from lyric meters and that these lyric meters have an ancient heritage that can at least be partially recovered through the comparative method of Indo-European linguistics. 2 This is not to say that lyric is necessarily older than epic or that epic did not influence lyric as well as the other way around. Rather the point is simply that Greek lyric represents a tradition--or various traditions--in its own right, and that the form of Greek epic can be explained as a differentiation of various forms that we find in Greek lyric. This thesis, however, raises many questions about the very concepts of lyric and epic, and it is to these questions that I now turn. 3

§6. As the work proceeds, the definition of lyric will progressively broaden, to the point that lyric becomes, for all practical purposes, the basis for defining epic, rather than the other way around. This point is reflected in the subtitle: The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past. I chose the word possession because the preoccupation of Greek poetry with the application of the past to the here and now is in itself an exercise of political power. 1 Moreover, there is a side connotation of the poet's "possession," or inspiration, by the spirits of the heroic past. 2 In using the word this way, I have in mind the celebrated passage retelling the ecstatic "seizure" of the composer in Diderot's Le neveu de Rameau--a seizure that activates a panorama of musical, poetic, and dramatic performance.

§7. Of all the poets of Archaic lyric, I choose Pindar as the centerpiece. Along with his near-contemporary, Bacchylides, Pindar is not only the latest but also the last in the canon of lyric poets as transmitted by the Alexandrian editors. The last securely datable poem of Pindar, Pythian8, was composed for performance in 446 B.C. (for Bacchylides, the last datable compositions are Odes 6 and 7, performed in 452 B.C.).

§8. There are two reasons for my focus on Pindar. One concerns the specific form--or, better, forms--of his lyric poetry, specifically its metrical forms, and the relationship of these forms to the form of epic. The other reason relates to the content of this poetry, in particular, what it says both explicitly and implicitly about the connections between epic and lyric.

§9. Which brings me to a point of principle. Throughout I shall pay close attention to the relationship between poetic form and content. This relationship reveals the tradition that shapes both the poet and the poetry, and for me it is the poetic tradition itself that serves as the primary empirical evidence at my disposal. For others, however, what the poet says about anything counts as raw data, serving as the basis for a "scientific" reconstruction of the poet and the poet's world, as also for any educated second-guessing about the poet's reasons for saying what is said in the poetry. The second-guessing can then lead to various opinions about what we are or are not permitted to believe about the poet's testimony--all in accordance with our own privileged sense of verisimilitude. It is as if the poet's words existed in a vacuum, just waiting to be discovered as direct information about the past, for the exclusive use of future generations. I prefer instead to treat the poetic tradition itself as the primary evidence, as manifested mainly in the language of the surviving texts.

§10. Treating the actual language of poetic tradition as my primary evidence, I must refer, and refer often, to the perspectives of linguistics. I hope to do so, however, without encumbering the reader with an overabundance of technicalities. The few explicit linguistics concepts that do occur in this book are fundamental, and it makes sense to prepare the reader for two of them immediately.

§11. One of these concepts of linguistics is the distinction between synchronic and diachronic. By synchronic I mean the workings of a system as it exists at a given time and place; by diachronic, the transformations of this system through time. 1 To avoid confusion, I choose to use these terms consistently from the standpoint of an outsider who is thinking about a given system, not from the standpoint of an insider who is thinking within that system. The diachronic perspective, as we see throughout this book, is essential for understanding the relationship of form and content in terms of such categories as theme, formula, and meter. 2 I should warn at the outset, however, that the diachronic perspective cannot suffice for the description, the classification, of a system as it exists at a given time and place. For that, the synchronic perspective is essential.

§12. The second of the two basic concepts of linguistics that I use throughout this book is the distinction, from a synchronic perspective, between the marked and unmarked members of any opposition within the system of language. These terms are defined as follows by Roman Jakobson: "The general meaning of a marked category states the presence of a certain (whether positive or negative) property A; the general meaning of the corresponding unmarked category states nothing about the presence of A." 1 The unmarked category is the general category, which can include the marked category, whereas the reverse situation cannot hold. For example, in an opposition of the English words long and short, the unmarked member of the opposition is long because it can be used not only as the opposite of short ("I am reading a long book, not a short one") but also as the general category ("how long is this book?"). In an opposition of interesting and boring, the unmarked member is interesting: if we say "A is more interesting than B," we do not necessarily mean that both A and B are interesting or that B is boring, whereas "A is more boring than B" presupposes that both A and B are boring. To ask a question like "how interesting is this?" does not commit the questioner, unlike "how boring is this?" Further, in an opposition of day and night, the unmarked member is day, which serves not only as the opposite of night ("it is daytime, not nighttime") but also as the general category ("there are seven days in the week"). 2 To ask "how short?" is to presuppose shortness, whereas "how long?" does not presuppose either shortness or length. Thus the marked member, as in the case of short, is defined in terms of the unmarked member, in this case, long--and not the other way around.

§13. Where the marked member is a semantic subcategory of the unmarked member, we may be witnessing the reflex of an older situation where the form of the marked member had once been assigned the function currently held by the form of the unmarked member. Such a pattern of semantic evolution is known in linguistic theory as Kurylowicz's fourth law of analogy: when two forms come into competiton for one function, the newer form may take over that function while the older form may become relegated to a subcategory of its earlier function. 1

§14. The unmarked member is inclusive, in that the marked member can be an aspect of the unmarked. It can be exclusive, however, if it negates the marked member, as when we say "that is not short, it is long." The negation of the marked by the unmarked has been called the minus interpretation of the unmarked (for example, "long, not short"), as distinct from the zero interpretation (for example, "long"); the assertion of the marked member is the plus interpretation (for example, "short," or "short, not long"). 1 The term plus interpretation designates not "positive" but "marked, either negatively or positively."

§15. The zero interpretation of the unmarked member includes, as an overarching principle, both the minus interpretation of the unmarked member and the plus interpretation of the marked member. The opposition of long and short is a matter of length. Further, the opposition of unmarked order and marked disorder is a matter of overall order. I cite a particularly interesting example from Greek metrics, an Archaic eight-syllable metrical unit known as the choriambic dimeter:

xxxx_oo_ 1
This unit consists of a "disordered" first half, four syllables that display a wide variety of possible combinations of long (_) and short (o) quantities, such as ____, ___o, _o__, _o_o, o___, o__o, _o_o, 2 followed by an "ordered" second half, four syllables that rigidly follow the pattern _oo_. There is a principle of order even in the disorder of the first half, as we can see from a constraint that escapes notice at first sight. The constraint is this: the first half does not allow just any possible combination of longs and shorts. One pattern in particular, _oo_, is avoided in the disordered first half, and this pattern _oo_ is precisely the ordered pattern of the second half. 3 In other words it is a matter of overarching order that the first half be disorder as opposed to the order of the second half. The first half is the plus-interpretation of disorder, the second half is the minus interpretation of order, while the two halves together comprise the zero interpretation of order. 4 As we shall see later, such an arrangement on the level of form is typical of the thought patterns of myth making on the level of content: in the stories of myth, the opposition of disorder and order, of discord and concord, serves to achieve an overall concept of order, concord. 5 More specifically the opposition of social division and integration serves to achieve an overall concept of integration. 6 Further, the opposition of alien and native serves to achieve an overall concept of native. 7

§16. The distinction of marked-unmarked can be further applied in a variety of contexts, starting in Chapter 1 with an extended discussion of song and poetry as distinct from "everyday" language. I apply it even here with the intent of challenging a common misconception about a term that is central to the whole book, oral poetry. The descriptive term oral in oral poetry has come to have an overly narrow meaning, restricted by our own cultural preconceptions about writing and reading. We feel the need to define oral in terms of written: if something is oral, we tend to assume a conflict with the notion of written. From the general standpoint of social anthropology, however, it is written that has to be defined in terms of oral. Written is not something that is not oral; rather it is something in addition to being oral, and that additional something varies from society to society. 1 It is dangerous to universalize the phenomenon of literacy. 2 To restate the problem in terms of the distinction between marked and unmarked: if we juxtapose oral and written, it is written that functions as the marked member of the opposition, while oral is unmarked. The definition of written is predicated on the given of oral.

§17. In this book we have ample opportunity to consider the many variations of interaction between two fundamental aspects of oral traditions: composition and performance. Already at this point, however, I call attention to a general tendency in contemporary thinking to undervalue the aspect of performance by overvaluing the aspect of composition. In seeking to put the act of performance into a balanced perspective, I find it useful to bring into play J. L. Austin's notion of a performative utterance or speech-act, where the antithesis of word and action is neutralized, in that the word is the action. 1 I invoke also Barbara Johnson's application of Austin's notion of speech-act to poetry-- an application that Austin resisted--and her insistence on the self-referential quality of the performative: "The performative, then, acts like a 'shifter' in that it takes on meaning only by referring to the instance of its utterance." 2 Johnson adds her own translation of Emile Benveniste's formulation: "An utterance is performative insofar as it names the act performed.... The utterance is the act; the utterer performs the act by naming it." 3

§18. If indeed performance "takes on meaning only by referring to the instance of its utterance," then this instance, this occasion, must be the basis for the intent of the utterance, for its rhetoric. 1 If, further, the occasion should ever be lost or removed, then the intent of the utterance is destabilized. We may say that the very notion of genre serves as compensation for the lost occasion. 2

§19. I take it, then, that questions of meaning in the composition of a song or poem cannot be settled in terms of the composition alone: we must keep in mind what the composition says about its performance or potential performance, and what that says about whoever is the composer, whoever is the performer. 1 Only this way can we begin to do justice to questions of authorship and even of authority. 2

§20. What makes words authoritative is the value that the given society attaches to their performance. And the authoritativeness of speech is a central issue in this book. The notion of authoritative speech, as we shall see, is conveyed in Greek by such key words as ainos. 1

§21. Bringing to a close this brief review of technical elements in the book, I take this opportunity to stress my awareness that there is no one method, no one theory, that could ever suffice for comprehending the totality of any piece of Greek literature, or of any literature. This is no excuse, however, for being hostile to theory, a stance that is perennially fashionable among Classicists. I agree with Eagleton that "hostility to theory usually means an opposition to other people's theories and an oblivion of one's own." 1

§22. In the end the critic can do no better than to discover and then apply the criteria of those who create, or better, re-create, the tradition. I take to heart the reaction of Elroy Bundy to the imperative of phuê 'nature' in the poetry of Pindar: 1

§23. Pindar's phua [phuê] has nothing to do with the natural, unschooled, unconscious genius of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but denotes schooling by experience in the truth of words and actions in a living tradition; the [negative concept of] "learning" he speaks of...is mere rote imitation of things not understood. You must not, he means, apply systems of method but elicit your method from the thing to be investigated; do not, armed with a detached system, go in search of a subject, but, having chosen a subject, refusing to bury it under an avalanche of terms, allow it to reveal the unity in its manifold as you "draw together the strands of many matters in brief."

§24. The choice of subject in this book is clear. As the title says, the central concern is not Pindar, but Pindar's Homer. What interests me primarily is the relationship of Pindar's tradition to other lyric traditions and to the epic tradition of Homer. A major task that I have set for myself is to seek whatever the epic of Homer really means to Pindar as a master of his own medium of poetry, which is lyric; the search must engage Pindar's own words, which I hold to be the prime evidence for the independent lyric tradition that lives on through his art. In searching for a unified vision of what Homer means to Pindar, I hope to achieve an insight into a broader literary question, that is, what epic means to lyric. 1 Since the unified vision that is sought--what Bundy calls the unity to be revealed--is complex, a variety of strategies in presentation is needed, and that variety makes it necessary to offer here, for the sake of clarity, an outline of the chapters that follow.

§25. To begin, Chapter 1 examines the criteria for differentiating oral poetry and song in early Greek society, as exemplified by the epic of Homer and and the lyric of Pindar, respectively. The aim is to set up the concept of lyric poetry or lyric as a default category for those types of song that are not poetry, in a stricter sense of the word. Conversely it is argued that the meters known to us as the hexameter, the elegiac distich, and the iambic trimeter are the formal markers, in the Classical period, of poetry in this stricter sense, that is, of verse that is not sung. In contrast lyric typifies what is sung, what is potentially danced and potentially accompanied by aulos 'reed' or kitharâ 'lyre'. It is also argued that just as song becomes differentiated into a dichotomy of poetry and song, so also poetry becomes further differentiated into a dichotomy of prose and poetry. In the process of arriving at an understanding of all these differentiations, the meanings of the key words mûthos 'myth' and mîmêsis 'mimesis' are reassessed, while another key word, ainos, is assigned a working definition, 'speech-act'. 1

§26. With reference to the Appendix, Chapter 1 goes on to argue that the three prime meters of poetry in the Classical period, however distinct the medium of poetry may have become from the medium of song, can nevertheless be derived from the attested meters of song. The two major categories of meters that comprise the song-making traditions of Pindar, the so-called Aeolic and dactylo-epitrite, are shown to contain the building blocks of the iambic trimeter, the elegiac distich, and even the hexameter. In this sense it can even be said that Pindar's inherited meters are the parents of Homer's hexameter, though the parent in this case has experienced a longer evolution, culminating with Pindar, than the child, culminating with Homer.

§27. Chapter 2 investigates the general characteristics of oral poetry, as established by the cross cultural perspective of field work in living traditions, and compares these with the specific characteristics of oral poetry in the social context of early Greece. Whereas the two factors of composition and performance are essential in all oral poetry, with varying degrees of recomposition in performance depending on the form of poetry and on the given phase of its evolution, the early Greek evidence calls for a third factor to be taken into account, the factor of diffusion. The diffusion of early Greek poetry, as exemplified primarily by Homer, is analyzed in terms of two emerging social patterns in early Greece, culminating in the institution of the polis 'city-state' and in the correlative impulse of Panhellenism. These patterns destabilize the concept of mûthos 'myth' and promote an alternative truth value, the privileged concept of alêtheia 'truth'. Also, the factors of diffusion and recomposition in performance have a profound effect on the very concept of authorship.

§28. Chapter 3 shifts attention to the characteristics of oral song making, as distinct from nonlyric "poetry" in the stricter sense of the word. The striking diversity of melodic patterns in early Greek traditions of song making is examined in terms of chronologically successive but overlapping criteria, deduced from both the internal evidence of the songs and the available external evidence. These criteria are reflected in the technical words nomos, harmoniâ, tonos, and genos. The progressive systematization reflected by these words is correlated with the progressive canonization of melodic patterns, a reflex, it is claimed, of Panhellenization in song-making traditions. The trend of Panhellenization also accounts for the emergence of a Classical canon of nine lyric poets, corresponding to the earlier canons of nonlyric poets. In the forefront of the "lyric nine" is Pindar.

§29. Chapter 4 offers an introduction to the medium of Pindar, with Olympian1 as the centerpiece. This composition of Pindar's affords a premier illustration of the victory ode, or epinician, the only lyric genre to survive from Pindar's vast lyric repertoire as a near-complete corpus. The choice of Olympian1 as illustration is specially suited for the book since the central myth of this ode, the story of Pelops, is connected with the ritual dimension of the Olympic Games, the premier athletic festival of the ancient Greek world. It is argued that Pindar's presentation of the Pelops myth, including his explicit rejection of some details inherited from past versions of the narrative, reflects not his private invention but rather his public acceptance of the narrative in its then-current version, as formalized in the mythological and ritual dimensions of a most complex institution, the Olympics.

§30. Chapter 5 connects the ritual dimension of athletics with the ritual dimension of the epinician itself, as presented in Pindar's own words. The efforts of the poet, in glorifying the occasion of the athletic event, are presented by the song as a ritual speech-act that serves as compensation for the efforts culminating in the athlete's victory, which in turn serve as compensation for the primordial efforts or experiences of heroes in the heroic age, as glorified by Homer. All these efforts, of poets, athletes, and heroes, are treated by the poetry as ordeals, a ritual concept conveyed by words like agôn, shared by Pindar and Homer.

§31. This topic of a ritual ideology linking athletes, heroes, and poets sets the stage for Chapter 6, an extensive survey of the relationship between Pindaric song and Homeric poetry. While Homer's medium of epic poetry glorifies heroes, Pindar's medium of lyric song glorifies simultaneously the heroes of the past and the athletes of the present. By collapsing the distinction between hero and athlete, the epinician of Pindar becomes a genuine occasion of prestige for the contemporary figure who is being glorified, and this poetic glorification is correlated with the realities of wealth, power, and prestige in the here and now. These three realities of wealth, power, and prestige ultimately preserve the identities of Pindar's patrons. Conversely the identity of Pindar is a function of his authority, which is simultaneously the authority of the epinician, to confer prestige. The authority of the epinician, as a form of authoritative speech, is conveyed by the word ainos. 1 It is this authority that guarantees the authorship of Pindar.

§32. Chapter 7 concentrates on three different occasions when the world of heroes merges with the world of the here and now through the authority of the ainos. The three occasions correspond to three Pindaric epinicians: Pythian8, Isthmian8, and Pythian 6. Here are three different compositions enhancing in three different ways the prestige of real people whose prestige or kleos 'glorification' depends on an ideological merger between the kleos of Pindar's ainos and the kleos of Homer's epic, the world of heroes.

§33. Chapter 8, resuming the discussion in Chapter 1, takes up the subject of prose, to be explained as one further stage of differentiation in types of speech-act. This time, the argument goes, poetry becomes further differentiated into a dichotomy of prose and poetry, just as song had earlier become differentiated into a dichotomy of poetry and song. The prime example of early Greek prose is the discourse of Herodotus, whose language makes it implicit that he is a logios 'master of speech', a description that is pertinent to the dichotomy, made explicit in Pindar's language, between logios 'master of speech' and aoidos 'master of song'. The prose of Herodotus, like the poetry and song of the ainos, is a speech-act of authority. Such authority is parallel to that of Solon, a historical figure who becomes part of the canonical Seven Sages tradition. The dramatized words addressed by Solon to Croesus the Tyrant in Book I of Herodotus are tantamount to an ainos contextualized by the narrative frame of the Histories.

§34. The very word historiâ 'inquiry, history', used by Herodotean discourse in referring to itself, is traced in Chapter 9 to the traditions of juridical prose, especially in the context of international (that is, inter-polis) arbitration. These traditions of juridical prose are shown to parallel those of sacred juridical poetry, as exemplified by Hesiod. There are parallels between the moral message of such discourse and the moral message of the ainos, as exemplified by the poetry of Theognis and the song making of Pindar. Herodotean prose reveals its affinities with the ainos of poetry and song in its deployment of the word sêmainô 'indicate', derivative of sêma 'sign, tomb of a hero'.

§35. In Chapter 10 the parallelism between modes of discourse in Pindar and Herodotus is explored further, with the theme of Croesus the Tyrant as a test case. Special attention is given to what is traditionally left unsaid in such a theme, reflecting as it does the diplomatic stance of the ainos, where implicit warning is an aspect of explicit praise. It becomes clear that the theme of Croesus the Tyrant is pertinent to the actual occasion of epinicians, to the here and now of Pindar's contemporaries who commissioned him to compose songs to enhance their prestige. Since the diplomatic format of the ainos allows implicit warning in the context of explicit praise, the very trappings of a tyrant can be acknowledged as powerfully attractive, without any diminution of the moral impact in the overall message. Tyranny has its charms. It also becomes clear that the figure of the tyrant, overtly alien to Hellenic ways, is intended by the ainos as a latent reflection of what is native. The explicit other is the implicit self. This theme of "alien is native," which has its origins in the straightforward ethnocentric tendency of appropriating what is foreign as a form of self-reassurance for the community, can thus be turned into a form of warning: if what you want to find from the outside is already available on the inside, then perhaps whatever you want to prevent from the outside has already emerged from within. This moral message is relentlessly persistent in the prose narrative of Herodotus, as if in an ainos.

§36. Chapter 11 shows that the parallelism between the messages in the prose of Herodotus and the lyric poetry of Pindar can best be observed in situations where Herodotus quotes or paraphrases poetry, particularly the nonlyric poetry of oracular utterances. Similar patterns of quoting or paraphrasing poetry can be found in the Lives of the Seven Sages tradition, as typified by the Life of Solon tradition. In the Herodotean sequences of prose and poetry, the train of thought matches the train of thought in Pindaric sequences of uninterrupted lyric poetry. In other words the framing of poetry by prose in Herodotus matches the continuum of lyric poetry in Pindar. Thus the logios 'master of speech' conveys ainos indirectly by framing poetry while the aoidos 'master of song' conveys it directly. This chapter brings to a close the comparison, ongoing since Chapter 9, of Pindar and Herodotus. The final point of emphasis is the sheer variety of poetic traditions, both nonlyric and lyric, that is quoted or cited by Herodotus. For Herodotus, the general category of poetry can accommodate even the Fables of Aesop and the Seven Sages tradition. What makes Herodotus a particularly rich resource for understanding the fullest possible range of fifth-century traditions in poetry and song is that he makes the themes of poetry and song a part of his own repertoire of composition and even of organization.

§37. Chapter 12 takes another look at the actual authority of the epinician in the larger context of the social function of the khoros 'song-and-dance ensemble, chorus' in the polis. It is argued that the chorus is the ultimate mimesis of authority in early Greek society, and that the very concept of authorship is ultimately defined by choral authority. In this light the argument is repeated that Archaic Greek poetry is the result of a differentiation of monodic song, which in turn had become differentiated from choral song and dance.

§38. Chapter 13 confronts the major historical phenomenon that stands between us and the vast repertoire of poetic traditions available to Herodotus and exemplified by Pindar. That phenomenon is the evolution of Athenian State Theater, pioneered by tyrants and perfected by the democracy. State Theater appropriated the repertoire of older poetic traditions and transformed it, in a vast and ongoing synthesis described by Plato as "theatrocracy." It is argued that the evolution of democratic poetics in Athenian State Theater is analogous, albeit on a much more complex level, to the evolution of aristocratic poetics in the choral medium of Pindar and even in the nonchoral medium of a figure like Archilochus. As the focus shifts to the later phases of the democracy in Athens, it becomes clear that the old-fashioned repertoire represented by the likes of Pindar could still survive in the context of monodic reperformances at symposia. Also the Classics of the old masters were still being taught in private schools. Nevertheless, the domain of public choral performance had become the primary domain of State Theater. The poets of State Theater, such as Aristophanes, could still express nostalgia for the more aristocratic choral medium of Pindar and even borrow from it, either directly or in parody, but the audiences at Athens were ultimately theirs, not Pindar's. Yet the lyric poetry of Pindar survived, because it became a textbook for those inner circles that wanted to perpetuate an old-fashioned and aristocratic choral medium of composition and performance. Pindar's actual medium of performance ultimately did not survive, but his words did, thanks to another kind of medium, what I have just described as the textbook. Pindar's aristocratic medium of performance, even down to its last attested phases of extinction, was ever redolent of potential or real tyrants, the sort of social circles that had indeed once upon a time reshaped this medium by dint of their authority in the glory days of Pindar's prime.

§39. This point leads finally to Chapter 14, a retrospective summary of the relationship between the lyric heritage of Pindaric song and the epic heritage of Homeric poetry. For the Pindaric tradition, it is clear that Homer is the representative of all epic, not just the Iliad and Odyssey. For Pindar, the epic repertoire of Homer can be freely generated from his own inherited lyric repertoire, much as we can derive the Homeric hexameter from the inherited building-blocks of Pindar's meters. Whatever the merits of Homer, he is always held up as a foil for Pindar's own artistry.

§40. In ending my summary of the book on this particular note, which sets the tone for beginning the exposition in detail, I can do no better than quote Pindar himself on the tales of heroes told by Homer:

kai tauta men palaioteroi | hodon amaxiton heuron: hepomai de kai autos echôn meletan: | to de par podi naos helissomenon aiei kumatôn | legetai panti malista donein | thumon. hekonti d' egô nôtôi methepôn didumon achthos | angelos eban
Pindar Nemean 6.53-57

All these things are a highway [amaxiton] which the men of old time [palaioteroi] discovered, and I follow it also, with premeditation [meletê]. But on a ship, they say, the wave that ever rolls nearest the keel [to...par podi] most concerns every man's heart. Gladly have I taken on my back a twofold burden [didumon akhthos] and come a messenger [angelos]. 1

Pindar is following in the path of epic with his own epinician themes. An expert in the art of Pindar writes about this passage: 2

The word palaioteroi refers primarily to the epic poets; the word amaxiton 'highway' points to the expansiveness and, in both senses, popularity of epic; the word meletê 'premeditation' refers to his own craft or training ground; to...par podi '[the wave] nearest the keel' represents the here and now of the epinician occasion in opposition to the heroic past; the didumon akhthos 'twofold burden' is the double duty of praising the victor and praising the community at large; 3 and the word angelos refers to his own role as lyric "messenger."
All of which "draws together the strands of many matters in brief."

Notes

§1n1. N 1979.

§1n2. Two most important studies of oral tradition in epic poetry: Parry [1971] and Lord 1960.

§1n3. On this subject, I recommend the balanced judgment of Bausinger 1980.

§1n4. Bakhtin [1984b] 123-124.

§3n1. Solmsen 1981.83. Cf. Griffin 1984.134, where he refers to "some scholars" who "are now finding in the epics meanings of great subtlety which have been undetected for three millennia."

§3n2. In the case of Professor Solmsen, it gives me a sense of permanent loss that he died before this book was finished.

§4n1. I take note here of a convention in spelling. Greek authors whose names have survived in our inherited Classical canon will be spelled in Latin: thus Ibycus and Stesichorus, not Ibykos and Stesikhoros. Or in anglicized Latin: thus Pindar and Homer, not Pindaros and Homeros. The same goes for figures whose names are normally pronounced according to the Latin spelling, such as Croesus and Phoenix, not Kroisos and Phoinix. Otherwise, Greek names will be spelled in a modified transliteration of the Greek alphabet: thus Peisistratos and Polykrates, not Pisistratus and Polycrates. I regret that this convention frustrates the eternal reciprocity of fame promised by Ibycus to the tyrant Polykrates, as discussed in Ch.6.

§4n2. Cf. Kirkwood 1974.3.

§5n1. N 1974.

§5n2. Cf. Ch.1§38n1. Unlike most other attempts at tracing the history of the epic hexameter, my approach takes into account the phraseological as well as the metrical heritage: cf. Ritoók 1987.4, 6-7 (with an important reference at p. 6n17 to Monroe 1972.35). A central element of my argument is the noun + adjective combination kleos 'fame' [kleos] + aphthiton 'unfailing' [aphthiton], as attested in Iliad IX 413, the antiquity of which has recently been questioned by a variety of critics. For an effective answer to some of these questions, see Risch 1987, especially p. 4, where he points out a crucial oversight on the part of most experts who have expressed their views on this subject. See also Edwards 1988. Further discussion at Ch.8§46n3.

§5n3. For other views on such questions, cf. Gentili and Giannini 1977.30n64, with reference to Peabody 1975.

§6n1. Cf. Ch.6§52 and following.

§6n2. Cf. Ch.11§27.

§11n1. For a particularly accessible discussion of these concepts, with essential bibliography, see Ducrot and Todorov 1979.137-144. In the realm of metrics, the dichotomy of synchrony and diachrony corresponds to what West 1982.64 distinguishes as definition and etymology.

§11n2. On the diachronic hierarchy of theme (in the sense of "a traditional unit of composition on the level of meaning") over formula (in the sense of ''a traditional unit of composition on the level of wording") over meter (in the sense of ''a traditional unit of composition on the level of rhythm"), see N 1976 and the useful commentary of Cantilena 1982.41-45, 55-56. In the present work I have tried to answer some interesting points raised by Cantilena, pp. 42-43n30.

§12n1. Jakobson (1957) 1984.47; also Jakobson 1939. I omit the final segment of Jakobson's definition, "the general meaning of the corresponding unmarked category states nothing about the presence of A, and is used chiefly, but not exclusively, to indicate the absence of A," in light of the discussion by Comrie 1976.122 and n2 (thanks to H. Pelliccia). For further updating on the semantic applications of the terms marked and unmarked, with bibliography, I recommend Waugh 1982.

§12n2. For these and similar examples, see Waugh, pp. 307-308; also Ducrot and Todorov 1979.112-114. For a discussion of right-left as unmarked-marked categories, with useful bibliography, see Markey 1982.

§13n1. To quote his own words: "Quand à la suite d'une transformation morphologique une forme subit la différentiation, la forme nouvelle correspond à sa fonction primaire (de fondation), la forme ancienne est réservée pour la fonction secondaire (fondée)" (Kurylowicz [1966] 169). By older form I mean simply the form that is already assigned to a given function, whereas by newer form I mean the form that is about to be assigned. As an example, I cite English quick, cognate of Latin uîuos 'alive': quick was ousted from the sphere of meaning 'living, alive', becoming semantically specialized in the sense of 'lively' and, eventually, 'quick' (the older meaning is still evident in such fossils as the quick and the dead, or bite the nails to the quick). Kurylowicz's fourth law is pertinent to the following formulation of Bakhtin [1984] 410: "The object that has been destroyed remains in the world but in a new form of being in time and space; it becomes the 'other side' of the new object that has taken its place." There are of course patterns of development that may be described as alternatives to Kurylowicz's fourth law. For one, there will be situations where the competition between newer and older forms leads to the ousting of the older form by the newer form altogether. Or else the newer and older forms may achieve coexistence in a suppletive relationship (as in Latin ferô/ ferre / tulî / lâtus, where the first two principal parts are "older," while the second two are "newer"; similarly in tollô, tollere, sustulî, sublâtus) or as morphophonemic variants (on which see Householder and Nagy 1972.758).

§14n1. For a brief history of the varying terminology used for these concepts, see Waugh, p. 303.

§15n1. Further details about this unit at Appendix §10n3. {FORMAT: _ = longum, o = breve, x = breve over longum.}

§15n2. Poultney 1979.139. Cf. Itsumi 1982.60-61 (who does not cite Poultney).

§15n3. Further details in N 1974.37-38. Other patterns that tend to be avoided in the first half are o_o_ and __o_ (also __oo and oo__): Poultney, p. 139. These other patterns, as we shall see in the Appendix, are actually related to _oo_, which is the primary pattern to be excluded from the disordered first half. Itsumi 1982.60 has found two exceptional cases of choriambic dimeter with the pattern _oo_ in the first half; both occur in the choral lyrics of Euripides (Orestes 839 and Iphigeneia in Tauris 435). Given that Itsumi has collected some 400 attestations of the choriambic dimeter in the corpus of Euripides (p. 61), and that he can point to only two examples where the pattern _oo_ occurs in the first half, I find that his own statistical findings reinforce my observation that the pattern _oo_ is traditionally avoided in the first half of the choriambic dimeter. Moreover, Itsumi himself stresses that Euripides is in many respects an innovator in his use of the choriambic dimeter (e.g., p. 72). Since he can cite no exceptions to the pattern of avoiding _oo_ in the first half of choriambic dimeter in Archaic Greek metrics and a strikingly low percentage of exceptions in the more innovative metrics of Euripides, I fail to see the validity of his disagreement (p. 60) with the formulation offered in N 1974.37, where I say that "the opening of the choriambic dimeter must be free, and therefore it is not allowed to be a choriamb itself." Also, it is misleading for Itsumi to say that the first half of choriambic dimeter "should not be regarded as a separate component" since it "does not appear in isolation" (p. 69). A comparative analysis of the available metrical evidence, as in the discussion at N, pp. 37-38, is not predicated on the notion that the first half of choriambic dimeter is a "separate component." It is a component, yes, but not a separate component.

§15n4. This interpretation differs from the approach of Itsumi 1982 to the choriambic dimeter. He assumes that rhythmical freedom in the first half of the choriambic dimeter can be posited only if we find every possible combination of long and short quantities there. No such assumption is necessary since the freedom of the first half is already assured by the simple fact of variability in its rhythmical patterns, as opposed to the invariability of the patterns in the second half. Even if the third of the first four syllables in attested choriambic dimeters is regularly long (Itsumi, p. 60), the variety of patterns in the first, second, and fourth syllables still constitutes a sector of variability in the entire first half of choriambic dimeter, as opposed to a sector of invariability in the second half. There is a symmetry in the opposition between a variable opening half and an invariable closing half. I recommend a close reading of Allen 1973.106, with its enhanced perspective of comparative evidence on the topic of interaction between rhythmically flexible openings and rigid closings in metrical units, as a counterweight to the limitations imposed by Itsumi's strictly descriptivist interpretations of available metrical data. On the general tendency of maintaining a tension between ideal and actual patterns at the beginning of the line and of solving this tension at the end of the line, see Allen, p. 110. Cf. also Appendix §11. Moreover, the notion that an initial pattern of xx_o in choriambic dimeter precedes the pattern xx_x historically (Itsumi, p. 71) seems to me counterintuitive from the standpoint of comparative metrics. I also disagree with the notion that the choriambic dimeter may have been "created" by way of changes in the glyconic (ibid.); cf. Appendix §10.

§15n5. Cf. Ch.12§51.

§15n6. Cf. Ch.12§54.

§15n7. Cf. Ch.10

§16n1. For a crucial discussion from the standpoint of ancient Greek society, see Svenbro 1987 (1988); cf. also Detienne 1988.

§16n2. A common pitfall is the failure to observe the drastic changes in the very notion of literacy that were occasioned by two historical events: the diffusion of the technology of printing and the Reformation. See Ong 1982.117-138; also Ong 1986.168-169. Cf. also Zwettler 1978.24.

§17n1. Austin 1962. Cf. also Searle 1979.

§17n2. Johnson 1980.56. On the term shifter, referring to forms where the referent can be determined only from the standpoint of the interlocutors, see Jakobson 1957. For an application of speech-act theory to Archaic Greek poetics: Martin 1989.

§17n3. Ibid. Benveniste 1966.274.

§18n1. For a working definition of occasion in terms of ritual and myth in small-scale societies, see Ch.1§27.

§18n2. On the Hellenistic concept of genre as a form that re-creates the lost occasion, see Ch.12§47n3.

§19n1. Cf. Bauman 1977.

§19n2. More at Ch.2, Ch.12.

§20n1. Cf. Ch.1§28, Ch.6§4.

§21n1. Eagleton 1983.viii

§22n1. Bundy 1972.90n113.

§24n1. For exemplary works on Homeric references in Pindar, where the emphasis is not so much on the independence of Pindar's lyric tradition as on the independence of Pindar himself as an individual poet, see, for example, Race 1986.58-62 and Pelliccia 1987. Cf. also Nisetich 1989; at pp. 1-5 he offers a survey of works that address the question of Homer's influence on Pindar, e.g. Fitch 1924, Young 1968, Stoneman 1981. I object, however, to the remark in Nisetich, pp. 4-5: "The transformation of Arctinus' Leuce into Pindar's Island of the Blest necessarily escapes notice if we insist on treating the one as if it were the equivalent of the other." As a case in point he refers to N 1979.167, 207, among other discussions. This is to misconstrue what was being analyzed in those pages. I was not treating one myth as if it were the "equivalent" of another: rather, I was comparing variant myths that are cognate with each other. To argue that given variants are cognates is a far cry from treating one myth as if it were the equivalent of another and failing to notice differences. The very concept of variation, of multiformity in myth making, requires the recognition of differences as well as similarities between traditional patterns. The existence of multiforms in myth, however, leads to serious methodological difficulties. I cite N, pp. 42-43, for example, where I discuss the pitfalls of trying to establish an "Ur-form" on the basis of multiforms in a given tradition. To assume that variation results merely from multiple instances of personal artistic creation, as implied for example by Nisetich's reference to "Arctinus' Leuce," is to risk the slighting of tradition itself as a vital component of the creative process in Archaic Greek poetry. I fail to see why Nisetich thinks that anyone would have a problem with the idea of "transformation" in comparing one version with another. The real problem is: to what extent is tradition involved in such transformation? My book seeks answers.

§25n1. Cf. Ch.1§28, Ch.6§4.

§31n1. Cf. Ch.6§4.

§40n1. The translation of Pindar here, as also elsewhere, is based primarily on the work of Lattimore 1976, though I have attempted several adjustments. I offer special thanks to W. H. Race for helping me with many of these adjustments.

§40n2. W. H. Race per litteras 7/5/1988.

§40n3. Cf. Bundy [1986] 82. Alternatively, as T. K. Hubbard suggests to me, the "twofold burden" may be the praising of both the epic past and the epinician present.


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