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Poetic, Royal, and Female Discourse: On the Physiology of Speech and Inspiration in Hesiod1

Bruce Lincoln

Résumé

This article considers several related Hesiodic and Homeric passages that treat the categorically distinctive discourses attributed to poets, kings, and women. A complex system is uncovered that associates each type of speech with different substances, parts of the body, and ethical qualities. A hierarchic ranking is also perceived that situates poetic speech closer to that of the gods, female speech closer to that of animals, and royal speech ambiguously in-between.

Texte intégral

I

  • 1 I would like to thank Chris Faraone, James Redfield, and Claude Calame, who were kind enough to hav (...)
  • 2 Theogony, 81-84:
    «Whenever the daughters of great Zeus observe
    And honor the birth of a king reared b (...)
  • 3 See, for instance, the rather loosely structured discussion of M. L. West, Hesiod, Theogony, Oxford (...)
  • 4 Deborah Boedeker, Descent from Heaven: Images of Dew in Greek Poetry and Religion, Chico, CA, Schol (...)

1As an arbitrary point of departure, let me begin with a detail from Hesiod’s description of royal discourse that has received rather little attention. This is the «sweet dew» (γλυκερὴνἐέρσην) the Muses are said to pour (χείουσιν) on the tongue of a new-born king, thereby ensuring that thereafter «soothing words flow from his mouth.»2 Most of those who have commented on this substance ratify the opinion of the ancient scholiasts, who identified it with honey.3 Such an interpretation is highly attractive and should be preserved, but as Deborah Boedeker rightly observes, it ought not obscure the more specific imagery of dew, for the latter substance has its own very particular symbolic significance.4

  • 5 Boedeker, Descent from Heaven, 80-99, Marilyn B. Arthur, «The Dream of a World without Women: Poeti (...)
  • 6 On these myths and associations, see Bruce Lincoln, Myth, Cosmos, and Society: Indo-European Themes (...)

2Boedeker has shown the strong associations of dew to poetry, song, and speech, while Marilyn Arthur has discussed the Muses’ pouring of this fluid into the king’s mouth as a gender-reversed form of insemination5. Both these lines of interpretation have their value. In addition, I would also connect this image or trope to a set of mythic traditions widely attested throughout ancient Eurasia that treat the human body and the cosmos as parallel, mutually interdependent structures.6 Sometimes these myths narrate the creation of the world (or some part thereof) from the bodily matter of a primordial being. Alternatively, they describe how the first man was assembled from a mix of worldly substances. But in either case, they enumerate detailed homologies between the micro-and macrocosm, with certain details recurring frequently. Thus, flesh regularly appears as the allomorph of earth, likewise stones and bones, eyes and sun, breath and wind, hair and vegetation.

  • 7 Consider, for example, the Greater Bundahišn 28.4, an Iranian text in which blood is homologized to (...)

3One problem that sometimes arises, however, is how to deal with the multiplicity of bodily fluids, which include blood, tears, sweat, semen, and others as well. Some texts ignore this diversity and focus on one fluid only – most often, blood – which they associate to water. Others provide a more complex analysis, subcategorizing cosmic fluids in ways that suggest parallels to a corresponding set of bodily fluids. Thus, salt sea-water can be paired with tears, running river-water with blood in veins, stagnant swamp-water with urine, and so forth.7

  • 8 See, for instance two anthropogonic texts in Old English, the Rituale Ecclesiae Dunelmensis and the (...)
  • 9 Thus Iliad, 14.346-51:
    «The son of Cronus seized his wife in his arms.
    And beneath them the earth gre (...)
  • 10 Thus the Slavic anthropogony of II Enoch 8-9, and the Rumanian «Questions and Answers», on which se (...)
  • 11 Thus Iliad, 24.419 and 757, where the miraculously preserved body of Hektor is «dewy».
  • 12 Thus the Old Norse tradition, as attested in Vafthruedhnismál, 14; Helgakviedha Hjörvaredhsson, 29; (...)
  • 13 Notwithstanding the excellence of her analysis, Boedeker misses this association to saliva. This is (...)

4It is within these more complex discussions that dew emerges as a topic of interest. Sometimes it is homologized to sweat, presumably because drops of both fluids mysteriously appear as relevant surfaces heat up.8 Alternatively, dew can be homologized to sexual fluids for much the same reason (although the heat in question has a different nature)9. At times, it is associated to blood10, bodily lubricity in general11, and even the slaver of mythic horses as they cross the nocturnal sky.12 Similarly, Hesiod’s assertion that the Muses place «sweet dew» on the tongues of baby kings suggests a more specialized homology to nothing other than royal saliva.13

  • 14 Theogony, 83-84. A direct etymological connection of μείλιχος «soothing» to μέλι «honey» is possibl (...)
  • 15 Theogony, 84-87 describes this process. Note also Iliad, 1.249, where Nestor is credited with «spee (...)

5Recognizing this has implications for understanding the ways Hesiod theorized the nature and effects of royal speech. Thus, as words pass over a king’s tongue, the viscous nature of his saliva (born of dew and similar to honey) is imagined as adhering to their surface. This provides a coating for what now become «sweet, soothing, honeyed words» (ἔπε’… μείλιχα)14 that create sensuous pleasure in the ears of those fortunate enough to hear them. As a result, even angry men locked in contentious disputation are mollified when the king pronounces judgment.15

  • 16 The strongly marked difference in the way kingship is treated in the two Hesiodic texts has frequen (...)
  • 17 Works and Days, 709.
  • 18 Works and Days, 320-24.

6The charm of this mythic image is consistent with the highly positive depiction of kingship found in the Theogony . One can, however, note a few subtle points that connect the passage to the more critical treatment of kings in the Works and Days.16 Not only is there a potential gap between the words’ underlying content and their sugar-coated surface, but a sweet-talking tongue is reminiscent of the warning issued in the Works and Days that one can «tell lies with grace of tongue» (ψεύδεσθαι γλώσσης χάριν).17 Similarly, when discussing the nature of theft, the latter text distinguishes two forms by their bodily locus. Theft by force employs the hand, while theft by guile is accomplished «by tongue» (ἀπὸ γλώσσης).18

II

  • 19 The account of poets (Theogony, 94-103) follows that of kings (80-93) and resonates with Hesiod’s e (...)
  • 20 The formulae read as follows.
    Theogony, 84: «Soothing words (ἔπε’… μείλιχα) flow from (the king’s) m (...)

7The Theogony’s discussion of royal discourse accompanies its account of poetry and the two are closely interconnected. A large and excellent literature has already been devoted to this topic, and I will not repeat what is already well-known.19 Rather, pursuing implications of the preceding discussion, I will briefly suggest, inter alia, that the text offers a materialist theory of poetic speech that relates – but also contrasts – the latter to its royal counterpart. Thus, for instance, although the text uses much the same formula to describe the fact that something sweet flows from the mouths of kings, poets, and Muses, it uses subtle distinctions to establish a ranking among the three, for the king utters «words» (ἔπεα), while the others utter the more elevated «speech» (αὐδή, a term to be discussed shortly). The speech of the Muses, moreover, is effortless and inexhaustible (ἀϰάματος).20

  • 21 Theogony, 31-32: ἐνέπνευσαν δέ μοι αὐδὴ/θέσπιν.
  • 22 The etymological relation of αὐδή to ἀείδω (to sing, to celebrate with a hymn), ἀοιδός (singer, poe (...)
  • 23 Shield of Herakles, 393-97:
    «Sitting on the green branch, the dark-winged, chirping cicada
    Begins to
    (...)
  • 24 Odyssey, 21.411.
  • 25 Iliad, 15.270 (Apollo, speaking to Hektor); Odyssey, 2.297 (Athene to Telemakhos), 4.831 (Athene to (...)
  • 26 Theogony, 31 (Hesiod, inspired by the Muses) and 97 (speech of him whom the Muses love), Fragment 6 (...)
  • 27 Iliad, 19.250 (the herald Talthybios); Odyssey, 4.160 (the great king Menelaus), 1.371 (the poet Ph (...)
  • 28 Shield of Herakles, 278 (a male chorus sings during a festival), Odyssey, 10.311 = 10.481 (Odysseus (...)
  • 29 On the adjective θέσπις, which appears at Theogony, 32, see Hermann Koller, θεςιπς αοιδος, Glotta 4 (...)

8Most specifically, I want to contrast the physical details of the processes through which kings and poets receive certain privileged (and privileging) qualities of speech as gifts from the Muses. With regard to poets, the crucial phrase is Hesiod’s assertion that the Muses «breathed divine speech into me»21, from which several questions follow. The first is what exactly was the direct object of this action, and here the text is clear. The answer is αὐδή, which denotes a lofty form of speech that goes beyond mere words, being related to poetry and music.22 These musical (or «Muse-ical») qualities become clear, for instance, when αὐδή is used to denote the miraculous song of the cicada23, or for the sound of Odysseus’s great bow, which «sang» when he first touched it.24 Most often, however, the epic reserves this term for acts of speech that mediate the human and divine (23/29 occurrences, 79%), including cases where gods speak to humans, sometimes assuming human voices to do so.25 Conversely, it covers situations where humans are divinely inspired26, speak «like a god»27, or address deities in speech and song.28 And should there be any doubt that the αὐδή Hesiod obtained from the Muses is somehow more than human, its accompanying adjective settles the case, marking it as θέσπις, «divine».29

  • 30 Works and Days, 507-8.
  • 31 Those who do such breathing-in are Zeus (Iliad, 17.456), Apollo (Iliad, 15.60, 15.262, 20.110), Ath (...)
  • 32 The incident of Laertes’s invigoration occurs at Odyssey, 24.520. Other instances of μένος being bl (...)
  • 33 Odyssey, 9.381.
  • 34 Odyssey 19.138, where she receives the ingenious idea of weaving and unweaving her tapestry.

9Second, we need to ask how this gift was bestowed, and again the text is clear. The verb employed is ἐμ-πνέω, «to blow or breathe into.» Elsewhere in Hesiod, it is used only of Boreas (i. e. the northern wind, personified as a deity)30 and in Homer, it is reserved for the action of gods who breathe some valuable quality into the body of a specially favored recipient.31 Most often, the quality in question is animating energy (μένος), including the force and determination that permit the aged Laertes to enter the Odyssey’s final battle.32 In another instance, Odysseus had the «daring» (θάϱσος) that let him blind the Cyclops blown into him by an unnamed δαίμων.33 And, on the female side, Penelope had a dazzling idea divinely blown into her, much as we might speak of a «brainstorm».34 In none of these cases, however, is the metaphor of blowing so perfectly suited to the object of the action as in the case of αὐδή, since the material substance of (literally) in-spired speech is nothing other than air. The air the Muses breathe into the poet – which is, after all, their own exhaled breath – thus becomes the very substance of his verse and song, much as the honeyed dew they pour on a king’s tongue becomes the surface of his soothing words, a difference that gently suggests a contrast between the aesthetic concern with surfaces and the ethical concern with substance, content, and depth.

  • 35 Theogony, 96-97.
  • 36 Richard Broxton Onians, The Origins of Greek Thought, Cambridge, University Press, 1951, 23-40 and (...)
  • 37 In these instances, the lungs generally function as an organ for the reception – and not the produc (...)

10Third, one must ask where the poet’s divinely in-spired αὐδή ultimately came to reside in his body, and here the text is silent. Still, one can draw a few inferences and advance two viable hypotheses. First, by way of inference: since his αὐδή is said to flow from the poet’s mouth (ἀπὸ στόματος), it presumably entered through the same orifice.35 The physiology of the mouth suggests it then traveled via the throat to one of two possible termini. First is the lungs (ϕϱένες) and this would be well suited to the imagery of air and the act of blowing-in. Also, as R. B. Onians first demonstrated, the Greek epic construed the ϕϱένες as a prime seat of intellect, emotion, and volition, and as such they were considered capable of receiving certain kinds of inspiration.36 Only rarely, however, were the φρένες connected to processes of speech.37

11There is one atypical scene in the Odyssey, however, that has particular relevance. This is where the poet Phemios begs for his life and conveys important information about the nature of his art.

  • 38 Odyssey, 22.344-47.

I grasp your knees, Odysseus! Show respect for me and take pity.
Later, there will be woe for you too, should you slay
The poet — I, who sing to gods and men.
Self-taught am I, and a god planted in my lungs (
ἐν φρεσὶν)
Odes of every sort.
38

  • 39 The verb suggests a vegetative metaphor, rather than the imagery (and ideology) of inspiration. The (...)
  • 40 Joshua T. Katz and Katharina Volk, «“Mere bellies”?: A new look at Theogony 26-8», Journal of Helle (...)
  • 41 Theogony, 26.
  • 42 The scholia gloss γαστέϱες οἶον as «being occupied with the belly only and thinking only of the bel (...)

12Here, much like Hesiod, Phemios tells how poetry was «implanted» (ἐμ-ϕύω) in him: more precisely, in his lungs.39 With that organ, he absorbed and incorporated the divine gift, so that subsequently he could produce poetic speech of his own. The ϕϱένες-hypothesis thus seems viable, but it rests heavily on this one Odyssean passage. Alternatively, one might trace inspired speech through the mouth and throat to the belly, following a suggestion of Joshua Katz and Katharina Volk.40 The point of departure for their argument is Theogony, 26, where the Muses tell Hesiod that shepherds like him are «mere bellies» (γαστέϱες οἶον).41 Ever since antiquity, interpreters of this line have considered it an insult that construes herdsman as having no concerns except their next meal.42 Yet if one takes seriously the charge that shepherds are only bellies (γαστέϱες οἶον ), then the shepherd Hesiod has no other organ in which to receive his divinely in-blown αὐδή.

  • 43 Katz and Volk, «“Mere bellies”?», op cit., 124-29. On the ἐγγαστϱίμυθοι, see further E. R. Dodds, T (...)

13Katz and Volk adduce further evidence of the belly as a site of inspired speech, including the practices attributed to those specialists whom the Greeks called «belly-speakers» (ἐγ-γαστϱί-μυθοι and ἐγ-γαστϱιμάντεις) and the Romans ventri-loqui.43 An intriguing idea, and sufficient for us to treat the γαστήρ-hypothesis as viable, alongside that of the ϕϱένες. Among its other merits, it yields a simple, but elegant formula for the making of a poet.

If {Shepherd = Belly}
and {Poet = Shepherd +
αὐδή},
then {Poet =
αὐδή + Belly}.

III

14A somewhat more complex, but equally schematic formula is implied in the Homeric passage that describes the automata Hephaistos fashioned to help him deal with his limp.

  • 44 Iliad, 18.417-20.

Handmaidens moved swiftly to support their lord:
Golden ones, resembling living maidens.
There is mind in their lungs (
μετὰ ϕϱεσίν), and speech
And strength, and they know handicrafts from the gods.
44

  • 45 As Iliad, 18.418 makes clear, the automata are not living maidens, but «like» living maidens (ζωῇσι(...)

15Of all the wonders Hephaistos created, these automata are his crowning glory. By placing νόος (mind), αὐδή (speech), and σθένος (strength) in (what became) the maidens’φρένες, he transformed inert gold into living creatures (or the simulacrum thereof).45 The relevant goddesses then gave these creatures knowledge of handicrafts (ἔργα), which let them put their strength to practical use. Together, these entities constitute a logical set, identifying the capacities for thought (νόος), word (αὐδή), and deed (σθένος + ἔργα) as the hallmarks of life. This same set recurs in Zeus’s plan for the creation of Pandora.

  • 46 Works and Days, 60-68. Use of the same verbal form (θέμεν, Aorist Infinitive from τίθημι) in lines (...)

[Father Zeus] bade far-famed Hephaistos to moisten earth with water
As quickly as possible, to place human speech (
ἀνθϱώπουαὐδήν) in it,
Also strength (
σθένος); to make her face like the immortal goddesses,
[To make] the maiden’s form fair and delightful. Meanwhile, Athene
Should teach her handicrafts (
ἔϱγα), to contrive on the loom many
ornamented things.
Golden Aphrodite should pour grace around her head,
Also painful desire and cares that eat at one’s limbs.
He commanded Hermes the runner, Argeiphontēs
To place a dog’s mind (
κύνεoννόον) in her and a wily/thievish character.46

16This passage presents much the same formula as the story of Hephaistos’s automata, which can be summarized as follows.

Automata = Gold + νόος + αὐδή + σθένος + ἔϱγα
Pandora = Clay +
νόος (+ ἦθος) + αὐδή + σθένος + ἔϱγα

17Going further, the Hesiodic text adds several elaborations.

To make her «feminine», add a beautiful face + body + grace (χάϱις)
+ desire (
πόθος) + cares (μελεδώνας),
+ a «bitchy» (
ϰύνεον) quality of mind + a «thievish» (ἐπίϰλοπον) quality of character.

IV

  • 47 West’s discussion of these differences is most unsatisfactory. See his editions of the Theogony, op (...)

18Given the clarity and specificity of Zeus’s plans (Κϱονίδεωβουλάς), it comes as something of a surprise when the gods fail to carry them out, a narrative twist that serves to limit his responsibility for the final product.47 Still, all the deities failed to do what they were told, in addition to which, some modified their instructions and some innovated (Table One).

  • 48 Works and Days, 67-68. Hermes’s identity as god of thieves makes him the appropriate donor of these (...)

19All the modifications to Zeus’s work-orders hold interest, but some concern us more than others. As a general observation, suffice it to say that the maiden the gods produced was more beautifully ornamented, but less fully human than the initial blueprints envisioned. In his instructions, Zeus changed the formula used for the automata only in the most minimal fashion, specifying that the «mind» (νόος) given to Pandora should be «bitchy» (ϰύνεος) in nature and accompanied by «a thievish character».48 In the event, however, Hermes omitted mind altogether, delivering only the thievish character (ἐπίϰλοπον ἦθος). And this – so the text would have us infer – is why women are unthinking and immoral.

  • 49 On the gender politics of the Hesiodic texts, with particular reference to the Pandora myth, see Vi (...)
  • 50 Warriors, Shield of Herakles, 420; mythic heroes, Works and Days, 598, 615, 619; Fragment 204.56; l (...)
  • 51 Wild animals, Iliad, 5.139, 5.783, 12.42, 17.22; rivers, Iliad, 17.751, 18.607, 21.195; Hephaistos’ (...)

20In similar fashion, Hephaistos failed to bestow σθένος, and here again the text advances a misogynist project.49 Elsewhere in Hesiod, σθένος is used of warriors, mythic heroes, and beasts of burden.50 To this set, Homer adds wild animals, raging rivers, and Hephaistos’s golden automata.51 As these data make clear, σθένος denotes the physical power necessary for heavy labor and martial combat. If Pandora was meant to receive σθένος, then Zeus intended the female body to be strong, like the male, while also possessing the skill necessary for fine handiwork (ἔϱγα). Unfortunately, Hephaistos and Athene failed to deliver these gifts. Instead – by way of compensation, perhaps – Athene, the Graces, Seasons, and Lady Seduction (πότνια Πειθώ) gave Pandora the implements and arts of kosmēsis that thereafter characterize the «feminine». As a result of these deviations from Zeus’s plan, women, now incapable of productive labor and (physical) self-defense, depend on cultivation of their charms to obtain sustenance and protection from hard-working males, who possess the necessary σθένος.

Table One: The Creation of Pandora. Comparison of Zeus’s instructions to the actions actually taken by the gods

  • 52 Odyssey, 24.530, Theogony, 685.
  • 53 Battle cries: Iliad, 14.400, 15.686, 18.221, Shield of Herakles, 382. Men and dogs use their ϕωναί (...)
  • 54 Imitation: Odyssey, 4.279; cf. Patroclus’s shade, Iliad, 23.67 and Eurycleia’s recognition of Odyss (...)
  • 55 Theogony, 39. Cf. Iliad, 18.571.
  • 56 Thus, Works and Days, 448 (a crane), Theogony, 584 (the golden beasts on Persephone’s crown), Odyss (...)
  • 57 Theogony, 685 has the gods and Titans engaging in battle cries together. Works and Days, 104 attrib (...)
  • 58 Iliad, 18.219.
  • 59 Works and Days, 77-78.

21Finally, Hephaistos failed to deliver αὐδή, as ordered by Zeus, in place of which Hermes provided Pandora with ϕωνή (voice), a distinctly inferior substitute. Thus, the epic only infrequently attributes ϕωνή to deities, always in the context of battle cries, which are more animal-like than articulate.52 Humans also use ϕωναί in battle cries and, in one instance, they join their voices with those of dogs to frighten off a raging lion.53 One person can imitate the voice of another, which involves getting its sound, not its verbal content right54, and the non-verbal qualities of music (pitch, timbre, melody, and the like) can also be designated by ϕωνή.55 All this suggests that ϕωνή denotes the sonoric qualities that may be shaped into words, but are themselves pre-rational and pre-articulate. If αὐδή mediates the divine and the human, ϕωνή does similar service for the human and the bestial. Accordingly, ϕωναί are attributed to animals56, monsters57, and a particularly shrill trumpet58. This entity – which lies closer to the animal than to the divine, partakes of nature, not culture, and conveys instinct and emotion, rather than rational thought – replaces the αὐδή of which Pandora was deprived. And when her ϕωνή did actually find verbal expression, the latter was not to be trusted, since Hermes placed «falsehoods» (ψεύδεα) and «seductive words» (αἱμυλίουςλόγους) in her breast (ἐν στήθεσσι), albeit without Zeus’s authorization.59

V

  • 60 Theogony, 86. The full passage also notes the king’s discriminating judgment (διαϰϱίνοντα θέμιστας, (...)
  • 61 Works and Days, 7-9.
  • 62 Works and Days, 35-39.
  • 63 Works and Days, 194. Also relevant are the crooked accusations of line 258.
  • 64 Works and Days, 219, 221, 250, 262, and 264.

22If the female voice is negatively marked as lying, mindless, and available for thievish schemes, royal words are treated less harshly. This is not to say they are positively valorized in an ethical sense. Rather, the Hesiodic corpus takes pains to depict them as morally neutral, i. e. available for a wide variety of uses. To be sure, Theogony, 80-92 offers an ideal picture, in which the king pronounces «straight judgments» (ἰθείῃσι δίκῃσιν) and nothing else.60 As the Works and Days makes clear however, there is nothing necessary or natural about this conjunction of sweet, soothing speech and a moral purpose. Kings are also capable of delivering «crooked judgments» (σϰολιῇσι δίκῃσιν), as the text repeatedly notes. In truth, this theme haunts much of the poem, beginning with Hesiod’s assertion that Zeus will straighten out the judgments of crooked men61, then turning personal and poignant in the brief account of how Hesiod’s brother Persēs won a disproportionate share of their inheritance by taking the case before «bribe-eating kings» (βασιλῆας δωϱοϕάγους), who failed to give straight judgments.62 Crooked oaths are a mark of the morally-debased Iron Age, but these can be sworn by any dishonest person, not being the particular province of kings.63 Crooked judgments, however, are the prerogative of kings and these are denounced no fewer than five times in the text’s discussion of good and evil kingship.64

  • 65 Works and Days, 225-37.
  • 66 Works and Days, 248-55.

23Straight judgments produce harmony, prosperity, and civic flourishing, we are told65, and Hesiod warns all kings that three thousand deities patrol the earth to guard against those «who trample on others with crooked judgments».66 Even so, such offenses occur and the consequences are dire.

  • 67 Works and Days, 256-64.

Justice (Δίϰη) is a maiden, born of Zeus,
Famed and honored by the gods who dwell on Olympus.
And whenever someone damages her, casting blame crookedly,
Then straightaway she sits beside Father Zeus, Cronus’ son,
And she decries the mind of unjust men until the people
Make restitution for the follies and outrages of their kings (
ἀτασθαλίας βασιλέων),
who, planning grievous wrongs (
λυγϱὰ νοέοντες ἐνέποντες)
Pervert their judgments, speaking crookedly (
παϱϰλίνωσι δίϰας σϰολιῶς).
Guard yourself against these things, O Kings; set your pronouncements straight,
You bribe-eaters, and forget crooked judgments (
σϰολιῶν δὲ διϰέων
λάθεσθε)!67

24This passage carefully disarticulates the aesthetic and ethical aspects of royal discourse. The former may be given by the Muses, embedded in the king’s very body, a fact of nature, eternal and invariable, but the latter remains contingent and variable, dependent on human choices. This is to say that kings may always speak sweetly, but they are equally capable of speaking «straight» and «crooked», with serious consequences for the cases they judge and for the people they rule.

25The conjunction of the beautiful with the lying or thievish is precisely that which characterizes Pandora and when kings produce words of this sort, they approximate the female condition, although in their more ideal speech-acts, they approach those of poets, even gods. The point is, however, they have the whole range of possibilities available to them. Being morally variable – one might also say, unpredictable and unstable – the king’s soothing words (ἔπε’… μείλιχα) are thus situated between the divine speech (αὐδή θέσπις) of poets and the debased voice (ϕωνή) of women, a position that is painstakingly worked out in the texts we have been considering (Table Two).

Table Two: System of contrasts drawn between the discourse of poets, kings, and women in the Hesiodic epics

Notes

1 I would like to thank Chris Faraone, James Redfield, and Claude Calame, who were kind enough to have commented on an earlier version of this article. I have greatly benefited from their comments.

2 Theogony, 81-84:
«Whenever the daughters of great Zeus observe
And honor the birth of a king reared by Zeus,
They pour sweet dew (γλυκερὴν… ἐέρσην) on his tongue
And soothing words (ἔπε'… μείλιχα) flow from his mouth. »

3 See, for instance, the rather loosely structured discussion of M. L. West, Hesiod, Theogony, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1966, 183, which starts by acknowledging that ἐέϱση denotes «any liquid distilled from heaven», then devotes all its attention to traditions relating honey to speech, including Philostratos, Heroicus, 19.19; the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, 558 ff.; Pindar, Fragment, 152; Pausanias, 9.23.2; Virgil, Georgic, 4.1; Ezekiel, 3.3; and Old Norse traditions concerning the «mead of poetry». The scholion to this line reads: «ἐέρση: literally, dew; metaphorically, honey» (ἐέϱση · δϱόσος ϰυϱίως · νῦν δὲ μεταϕοριϰῶς τὸ μέλι). Hans Flach, Glossen und Scholien zur hesiodischen Theogonie, Leipzig, B. G. Teubner, 1876 (reprint ed. Osnabrück, 1970), 216. For their part, the ancient lexicographers gloss ἐέϱση as δϱόσος «dew» (thus both Apollonius the Sophist and Hesychius).

4 Deborah Boedeker, Descent from Heaven: Images of Dew in Greek Poetry and Religion, Chico, CA, Scholars Press, 1984. For her discussion of the relations between dew and honey, see 46-49 and 84-88.

5 Boedeker, Descent from Heaven, 80-99, Marilyn B. Arthur, «The Dream of a World without Women: Poetics and the Circles of Order in the Theogony Prooemium», Arethusa 16, 1983, 97-135.

6 On these myths and associations, see Bruce Lincoln, Myth, Cosmos, and Society: Indo-European Themes of Creation and Destruction, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1986. I have since come to understand them as much more widely diffused, and not limited to any linguistic, ethnic, or social group, the category of «Indo-European» being particularly problematic. For my most recent reflections on these materials and their locus, see «Hegelian Meditations on “Indo-European” Myths», Papers from the Mediterranean Ethnographic Summer Seminar 5, 2003, 59-76.

7 Consider, for example, the Greater Bundahišn 28.4, an Iranian text in which blood is homologized to water, veins to rivers, and the belly (together with its gastric juices) to the ocean.

8 See, for instance two anthropogonic texts in Old English, the Rituale Ecclesiae Dunelmensis and the «Dialogue of Solomon and Saturn», discussed in Myth, Cosmos, and Society, 17 and 178.

9 Thus Iliad, 14.346-51:
«The son of Cronus seized his wife in his arms.
And beneath them the earth grew fresh grass,
Dewy lotus, crocus, and hyachinth,
Thick and soft, which stays up high, off the earth.
They lay down there and were clothed in nothing but a cloud –
A beautiful, golden cloud. And it dripped glistening dew (στιλπναὶ ἔεϱσαι) down on them.»
On the frequent erotic associations of dew, in association with semen and other sexual fluids, see Boedecker, Descent from Heaven, 2-4, 11-20, 54-60, and W. M. Clarke, «The God in the Dew», L’antiquité classique 43, 1974, 57-73.

10 Thus the Slavic anthropogony of II Enoch 8-9, and the Rumanian «Questions and Answers», on which see Myth, Cosmos, and Society, 11, 15, 17. Note also Iliad, 11.52-4: «Zeus, son of Cronus, stirred up an evil panic and down from the heavens, he let fall dewdrops dripping with blood (ἐέϱσας αἵματι μυδαλέας) from the aither.» See further Boedeker, Descent from Heaven, 73-77.

11 Thus Iliad, 24.419 and 757, where the miraculously preserved body of Hektor is «dewy».

12 Thus the Old Norse tradition, as attested in Vafthruedhnismál, 14; Helgakviedha Hjörvaredhsson, 29; and Gylfaginning 10.

13 Notwithstanding the excellence of her analysis, Boedeker misses this association to saliva. This is a consequence of the excessive value she attaches to the derivation of Greek ἐέϱση from Indo-European * wers-, which leads her to view the symbolic associations of dew to rain, fructifying fluids, and processes of generation as primary, from which most other associations are extensions of one sort or another. Alternatively, I would suggest that dew — denoted by terms of whatever etymology — was consistently available for homologic association to a wide variety of bodily fluids. Semen, to be sure, is among the most important, but the others, saliva included, are in no way secondary or derivative.

14 Theogony, 83-84. A direct etymological connection of μείλιχος «soothing» to μέλι «honey» is possible, but unlikely, given the difference in the initial vowels. From an early date, however, the two were constantly associated via folk interpretations. See further Pierre Chantraine, «Grec μειλίχιος», in Mélanges Émile Boisacq, Brussels, Institut de philologie et d’histoire orientales et slaves, 1937, 1, 169 ff.

15 Theogony, 84-87 describes this process. Note also Iliad, 1.249, where Nestor is credited with «speech that flows sweeter than honey from his tongue». In the passage that follows, however, this master of royal oratory is unable to calm the anger of Achilles and Agamemnon. The scene thus serves to establish there are limits to the power of royal speech, while also underscoring the enormity of this quarrel.

16 The strongly marked difference in the way kingship is treated in the two Hesiodic texts has frequently been noted. For a recent discussion, which recognizes the extended analogy Theogony, 80-92: Works and Days, 248-64:: Ideal: Actual:: Golden Age: Iron Age, see Sabrina Salis, «Le due facce del βασιλεύς in Esiodo: alcune osservazioni», Annali della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia dell’Università di Cagliari 20, 2002, 97-107.

17 Works and Days, 709.

18 Works and Days, 320-24.

19 The account of poets (Theogony, 94-103) follows that of kings (80-93) and resonates with Hesiod’s earlier description of his own Dichterweihe (23-34). The relevant literature includes, inter alia, Kathryn Stoddard, «The Programmatic Message of the “Kings and Singers” Passage: Hesiod, Theogony, 80-103», Transactions of the American Philological Association 133, 2003, 1-16; Derek Collins, «Hesiod and the Divine Voice of the Muses», Arethusa 32, 1999, 241-62; André Laks, «Le double du roi. Remarques sur les antécédents hésiodiques du philosophe-roi», in Fabienne Blaise, et al., éds., Le métier du mythe. Lectures d’Hésiode, Lille, Presses Universitaires de Septentrion, 1996, 83-91; Jean Rudhardt, «Le préambule de la Théogonie. La vocation du poète. Le langage des Muses», in Blaise, et al. éds., Le métier du mythe, op. cit., 25-40; Francesco Bertolini, «Muse, re e aedi nel proemio della Teogonia di Esiodo», in Luigi Belloni, et al., eds., Studia Classica Iohanni Tardini oblata, Milan, Vita e Pensiero, 1995, 127-38; Marie-Christine Leclerc, La parole chez Hésiode: à la recherche de l’harmonie perdue, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1993; Gregory Nagy, «Authorisation and Authorship in the Hesiodic Theogony», Ramus 21, 1992, 119-30; Graziano Arrighetti, «Esiodo e le Muse: il dono della verità e la conquista della parola», Athenaeum 80, 1992, 45-63; Claude Calame, «L’ispirazione delle Muse esiodee: autenticità o convenzione letteraria?», in Giovanni Cerri, ed., Scrivere e recitare: Modelli di trasmissione del testo poetico nell’antichità e nel medioevo, Rome, Edizioni dell’Ateneo, 1986, 85-101; Marilyn Arthur, «The Dream of a World without Women», op. cit.; Jeffrey M. Duban, «Poets and Kings in the Theogony Invocation», Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Clasica N. S. 4, 1980, 7-21; Heinz Neitzel, «Hesiod und die Lügenden Musen», Hermes 108, 1980, 387-401; Pietro Pucci, Hesiod and the Language of Poetry, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977; Jesper Svenbro, La parole et le marbre: aux origines de la poétique grecque, Lund, Studentlitteratur, 1976, 46-73; Catharine P. Roth, «The Kings and the Muses in Hesiod’s Theogony», Transactions of the American Philological Association 106, 1976, 331-38; Athanassios Kambylis, Die Dichterweihe und ihre Symbolik, Heidelberg, Carl Winter, 1965; Kurt Latte, «Hesiods Dichterweihe», Antike und Abendland 2, 1946, 152-63. Many of these issues are treated more broadly in Gregory Nagy’s rich discussion, «Early Greek views of poets and poetry», in George A. Kennedy, ed., The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Vol. 1: Classical Criticism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989, 1-77.

20 The formulae read as follows.
Theogony, 84: «Soothing words (ἔπε’… μείλιχα) flow from (the king’s) mouth»
Theogony, 98: «Sweet (γλυκεϱή) is the speech (αὐδή) that flows from (the poet’s) mouth»
Theogony, 39-40: «Sweet speech (αὐδήἡδεῖα) flows inexhaustible (or: effortless, ἀϰάματος)/from (the Muses’) mouths.»

21 Theogony, 31-32: ἐνέπνευσαν δέ μοι αὐδὴ/θέσπιν.

22 The etymological relation of αὐδή to ἀείδω (to sing, to celebrate with a hymn), ἀοιδός (singer, poet), and ἀηδών (nightingale, literally, the songstress), is discussed in Hjalmar Frisk, Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, Heidelberg, Carl Winter, 1973, 1: 184 and Pierre Chantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque. Histoire des mots, Paris, Éditions Klincksieck, 1968-80, 1: 137. Leclerc, La parole chez Hésiode, 45-46, argues persuasively that αὐδή implicitly contains what philosophers will later call λόγος. In contrast, Francesca Berlinzani, «La voce e il canto nel proemio della Teogonia», Acme 55, 2002, 189-204, esp. 193-96, is inclined to stress the sonoric beauty of αὐδή that gives it the quality of music and song. Berlinzani denies that αὐδή includes λόγος, while granting it is by its very nature persuasive, a view that strikes me as contradictory. I am thus inclined to view αὐδή as utterances that are strongly marked for both their logical-verbal and their aesthetic-musical qualities. Also relevant are Collins, «Hesiod and the Divine Voice of the Muses», op. cit., and Antonín Bartonék, «Die Wortparallelen αὐδὴ und ϕωνή in der archaischen epischen Sprache», Sborník Prací Filosofické Fakulty Brněnské University, Rada Archeologicko-Klasická E4, 1959, 67-74.

23 Shield of Herakles, 393-97:
«Sitting on the green branch, the dark-winged, chirping cicada
Begins to sing to people in summer.
The dew (
ἐέϱση) is his drink and nourishing food,
All day long and at dawn, he pours out his speech (
αὐδὴ)
In the worst hot weather, when Sirius burns the skin.»
The cicada’s relation to dew, song, nutrition, and mortality is a well-developed theme in Greek myth. See Boedeker,
Descent from Heaven, 43-46 and 81-84.

24 Odyssey, 21.411.

25 Iliad, 15.270 (Apollo, speaking to Hektor); Odyssey, 2.297 (Athene to Telemakhos), 4.831 (Athene to Penelope), 14.89 (the suitors [wrongly] believe they have received news of Odysseus’s death direct from the speech of a god, θεοῦαὐδήν). In the formulaic line Odyssey, 2.268 = 2.401 = 22.206 = 24.503 = 24.548, Athene impersonates Mentor, taking on the form of his body and the sound of his speech.

26 Theogony, 31 (Hesiod, inspired by the Muses) and 97 (speech of him whom the Muses love), Fragment 64.15 ([Merkelbach & West], the poet-diviner Philammōn, son of Apollo); Iliad, 19.407 and 418 (Xanthos, inspired by Hera, prophesies Akhilles’death).

27 Iliad, 19.250 (the herald Talthybios); Odyssey, 4.160 (the great king Menelaus), 1.371 (the poet Phemios), 9.4 (the poet Demodokos).

28 Shield of Herakles, 278 (a male chorus sings during a festival), Odyssey, 10.311 = 10.481 (Odysseus addresses Circe).

29 On the adjective θέσπις, which appears at Theogony, 32, see Hermann Koller, θεςιπς αοιδος, Glotta 43, 1965, 277-85.

30 Works and Days, 507-8.

31 Those who do such breathing-in are Zeus (Iliad, 17.456), Apollo (Iliad, 15.60, 15.262, 20.110), Athene (Iliad, 10.482, Odyssey, 24.520), and an unnamed δαίμων, (Odyssey, 9.381, 19.138). Those who receive this in-spiration are Diomedes (Iliad, 10.482), Hektor (Iliad, 15.60, 15.262), Aeneas (Iliad, 20.110), Odysseus (Odyssey, 9.381), Penelope (Odyssey, 19.138), Laertes (Odyssey, 24.520), and the horses of Akhilles (Iliad, 17.456 and 502).

32 The incident of Laertes’s invigoration occurs at Odyssey, 24.520. Other instances of μένος being blown into human recipients are found at Iliad, 10.482, 15.60, 15.262, 17.456 20.110.

33 Odyssey, 9.381.

34 Odyssey 19.138, where she receives the ingenious idea of weaving and unweaving her tapestry.

35 Theogony, 96-97.

36 Richard Broxton Onians, The Origins of Greek Thought, Cambridge, University Press, 1951, 23-40 and 66-67. For more recent discussions, see Bruno Snell, «ϕϱένεςϕϱόνησις», Glotta 55, 1977, 34-64 and Shirley Darcus Sullivan, «Phrenes in Hesiod», Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire/Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Filologie en Geschiedenis 67, 1989, 5-17.

37 In these instances, the lungs generally function as an organ for the reception – and not the production – of speech, it being understood that through them one can absorb what others have said at an extremely deep level. Thus, on two occasions Hesiod expresses the desire to «hurl» his speech into the ϕϱένες of his brother (the verb used is βάλλω), so that the wayward Perses can be transformed by it (Works and Days, 106-7 and 274). Similarly, at Odyssey, 1.328, when the poet’s account of Odysseus enters Penelope’s φρένες, it moves her so deeply that she has to make him stop his song (Odyssey, 1.341-42).

38 Odyssey, 22.344-47.

39 The verb suggests a vegetative metaphor, rather than the imagery (and ideology) of inspiration. The verb for the latter (ἐμ-πνέω) occurs with φρένες as its indirect object at Odyssey, 19.138, where a δαίμων breathes the idea of her tapestry into Penelope’s φρένες. This scene, however, is consistent with the treatment of the ϕϱένες as a seat of thought and emotion, but with no particular role in the production of speech.

40 Joshua T. Katz and Katharina Volk, «“Mere bellies”?: A new look at Theogony 26-8», Journal of Hellenic Studies 120, 2000, 122-31.

41 Theogony, 26.

42 The scholia gloss γαστέϱες οἶον as «being occupied with the belly only and thinking only of the belly» πεϱὶ τὴν γαστέϱα μόνην ἀσχολούμενοι καὶ μόνα τὰ τῆς γαστϱὸς ϕϱονοῦντες. Hesychius makes the same point: «caring only about food» τϱοϕῆς μόνης ἐπιμελούμενοι. For the fullest discussion of the image of the γαστήϱ, see Svenbro, La parole et le marbre, op cit., 50-59.

43 Katz and Volk, «“Mere bellies”?», op cit., 124-29. On the ἐγγαστϱίμυθοι, see further E. R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1951, 70-72.

44 Iliad, 18.417-20.

45 As Iliad, 18.418 makes clear, the automata are not living maidens, but «like» living maidens (ζωῇσι νεήνισιν εἰοιϰυῖαι). Being made of gold, they are presumably immortal, unaging, and untiring, i. e. the ideal laborers.

46 Works and Days, 60-68. Use of the same verbal form (θέμεν, Aorist Infinitive from τίθημι) in lines 61 and 67 serves to bring the subjects of those verbs (Hephaistos and Hermes) and their objects (αὐδήν, σθένος, νόος, and ἦθος) into close association.

47 West’s discussion of these differences is most unsatisfactory. See his editions of the Theogony, op. cit., 326-29 and the Works and Days, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1978, 158-67, esp. 160-61, where he lamely suggests that when Works and Days, 70-82 contradicts lines 60-68 of the same text, it «slip [s] back into» the version of Theogony, 571-84 and «nothing is more natural» than its doing so. The latter text, like Works and Days 70-82 describes Pandora as she was actually made, but this does not explain – nor obviate the need for explaining – the striking fact that this final product differed markedly from what Zeus had intended, as reported in Works and Days 60-68. Including the Theogony passage in the discussion complicates the problem, but hardly resolves it.

48 Works and Days, 67-68. Hermes’s identity as god of thieves makes him the appropriate donor of these gifts (cf. Homeric Hymn to Hermes, 292 et al.).

49 On the gender politics of the Hesiodic texts, with particular reference to the Pandora myth, see Vigdis Songe-Møller, Philosophy Without Women: The Birth of Sexism in Western Thought, London, Continuum, 2002; Pierre Lévèque, «Pandora ou la terrifiante féminité», Kernos 1, 1988, 49-62; Jean Rudhardt, «Pandora: Hésiode et les femmes», Museum Helveticum 43, 1986, 231-46; Marilyn Arthur, «The Dream of a World Without Women», op. cit., eadem, «Cultural Strategies in Hesiod’s Theogony: Law, Family, Society», Arethusa 15, 1982, 63-82; Patricia A. Marquardt, «Hesiod’s Ambiguous View of Woman», Classical Philology 77, 1982, 283-91; Angelo Casanova, La famiglia di Pandora. Analisi filologica dei miti di Pandora e Prometeo nella tradizione esiodea, Florence, Cooperativa Libraria Universitatis Studii Fiorentini, 1979; Linda Sussman, «Workers and Drones: Labor, Idleness and Gender Definition in Hesiod’s Beehive», Arethusa 11, 1978, 27-37; and several articles conveniently collected in Blaise, et al., éds., Le métier du mythe, op. cit.: Pierre Judet de la Combe, «La dernière ruse: “Pandora” dans la Théogonie», 263-299; Pierre Judet de la Combe and Alain Lernould, «Sur la Pandore des Travaux. Esquisses», 301-13; Daniel Saintillan, «Du festin à l’échange: les graces de Pandore», 315-48; Froma Zeitlin, «L’origine de la femme et la femme origine: la Pandore d’Hésiode», 349-80; and Jean-Pierre Vernant, «Les semblances de Pandora», 381-92.

50 Warriors, Shield of Herakles, 420; mythic heroes, Works and Days, 598, 615, 619; Fragment 204.56; laboring animals, Works and Days, 437, Shield of Herakles, 97, Fragment 75.22.

51 Wild animals, Iliad, 5.139, 5.783, 12.42, 17.22; rivers, Iliad, 17.751, 18.607, 21.195; Hephaistos’s automata, Iliad, 18.420.

52 Odyssey, 24.530, Theogony, 685.

53 Battle cries: Iliad, 14.400, 15.686, 18.221, Shield of Herakles, 382. Men and dogs use their ϕωναί together, Iliad, 17.111.

54 Imitation: Odyssey, 4.279; cf. Patroclus’s shade, Iliad, 23.67 and Eurycleia’s recognition of Odysseus, Odyssey, 19.381.

55 Theogony, 39. Cf. Iliad, 18.571.

56 Thus, Works and Days, 448 (a crane), Theogony, 584 (the golden beasts on Persephone’s crown), Odyssey, 10.239 (pigs), 12.396 (cattle), 17.111 (dogs), 19.521 (the nightingale, singing in lament), 19.545 (an eagle).

57 Theogony, 685 has the gods and Titans engaging in battle cries together. Works and Days, 104 attributes φωναί to diseases. Most dramatic, however, is the description of Typhōn given at Theogony 824-35.
«From his shoulders,
There were one hundred heads of a monstrous, serpentine dragon,
Licking with dark tongues…
And in all those monstrous heads there were voices (
ϕωναί),
Spouting unspeakable horrors in every direction, for sometimes
They spoke as if addressing the gods, and sometimes
Their force was that of a loud-bellowing, irresistible bull, proud of voice (
ὄσσαν),
Sometimes they seemed like a lion of merciless spirit,
Sometimes like puppies, a wonder to be heard,
And sometimes like hissing that resounds beneath great mountains.»

58 Iliad, 18.219.

59 Works and Days, 77-78.

60 Theogony, 86. The full passage also notes the king’s discriminating judgment (διαϰϱίνοντα θέμιστας, l. 85), his self-assurance in assembly (ἀσϕαλέως ἀγοϱεύων, l. 86), his intelligence and knowledge (ἐπισταμένως, l. 87, βασιλῆες ἐχέϕϱονες, l. 88).

61 Works and Days, 7-9.

62 Works and Days, 35-39.

63 Works and Days, 194. Also relevant are the crooked accusations of line 258.

64 Works and Days, 219, 221, 250, 262, and 264.

65 Works and Days, 225-37.

66 Works and Days, 248-55.

67 Works and Days, 256-64.

Table des illustrations

Légende Table One: The Creation of Pandora. Comparison of Zeus’s instructions to the actions actually taken by the gods
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsehess/docannexe/image/2233/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 228k
Légende Table Two: System of contrasts drawn between the discourse of poets, kings, and women in the Hesiodic epics
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsehess/docannexe/image/2233/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 205k

Auteur

University of Chicago

© Éditions de l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, 2007

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