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Lists in Performance

Maritime Catalogues, Naval Inventories and Choral Song-and-Dance in the Archaic and Classical Period

Des listes en acte : catalogues maritimes, inventaires navals et danses chorales aux périodes archaïque et classique

Deborah Steiner

Résumé

L'article prend pour objet une série d'inventaires de bateaux athéniens datant de la fin du ve et du ive siècles. Ces listes sont ensuite confrontées à des représentations plus anciennes d'assemblages de bateaux dans la littérature et à l'iconographie de la période archaïque et du début de la période classique. L’idée est de montrer que ces listes ne sont pas de simples archives mais qu’elles ont une « performativité » latente. Elles regroupent des individus qui participent aux spectacles dont les performances imaginaires et réelles peuvent être déduites d'images et de textes plus anciens. En suivant les discussions sur la structure chorale du Catalogue des Vaisseaux et la description par Thucydide du départ de l'expédition de Sicile, l'article se clôt sur d'autres exemples montrant que poètes et peintres rapprochent navigation et participation à un chœur. Ces différentes représentations ouvrent une fenêtre sur le statut idéologique contesté des entreprises navales et de ceux qui constituent la flotte de la cité depuis l'époque archaïque.

Texte intégral

  • 1 See Powell 1978, Sammons 2010 and Perceau 2002.

1Among the most purple of passages in Homer is the so-called Catalogue of Ships, whose recitation occupies the closing portion of Iliad 2. An enumeration in approximately three hundred lines of the 29 different contingents making up the Achaean armada, the poet’s survey offers a three-pronged itinerary around the Greek mainland and its periphery that includes nearly 190 toponyms. Its size and scope notwithstanding, a rigid armature undergirds this expansive narrative arena: for each contingent, the poet typically records the troops’ place of origin, the name of their leader(s), a verb of ruling/leading, and the number of ships that conveyed the company to Troy.1 A more minutely iterative patterning structures these items’ presentation; choosing among three possible arrangements, the poet varies the order in which he records the elements, the syntactical relations between them and the entry lengths, now omitting certain pieces, now expanding them with biographical, geographic and anecdotal details. What results is an inventory combining diversity and repetition, a sequence of recognizably similar units with internal variations and distinctiveness.

  • 2 For this approach to material evidence, see Whitley 1994 and Langdon 2001.

2This heterogeneity within a structured frame supplies the starting point for a discussion whose principal concern is not so much the early archaic age, and the presence of catalogues in hexameter poetry, as the densely epigraphic, choro-centric and navy-oriented milieu of late fifth- and fourth-century Athens, a city whose characteristics included its increasing use of inscriptions in polis administration, its numerous ritual choruses and the fleet on which its hegemony principally depended. In an attempt to juxtapose compositions in poetry and prose, painted and sculpted images and epigraphic evidence in mutually illuminating ways, my purpose here is broadly to suggest that the seemingly dry-as-dust naval catalogues preserved in stone and other media have both a rich literary and visual back history and ongoing “social life” or “object biography” in the classical polis,2 whose lineaments are already discernible within the Iliad enumeration. More particularly, I will propose that, as their epic antecedent demonstrates, lists like these are not mere static records, but possess a latent “performativity”, featuring individuals and items that, at other venues and in different genres, become participants in publicly staged spectacles whose real and imaginary enactment texts and images dating from the archaic through to the classical period portray. As my readings further explore, several of these sources supply windows onto a nuanced and contested socio-political ideology no less manifest in the Homeric Catalogue than in documents from classical Athens.

Naval inscriptions in the classical polis

3I begin at the end of my chronological spectrum, with a series of documents, some of which would have been publicly ratified, and others drawn up by the polis appointed “overseers of the dockyards” (ἐπιμεληταὶ τῶν νεωρίων) following their terms of office, from classical Athens that offer their own latter-day versions of the Catalogue of Ships. Variously itemizing the vessels belonging to the Athenian fleet, their type, condition, the equipment carried on board and the make up of their crews, they reveal much about the social composition of the city, the status of the fleet, and how viewers would have responded to the public inscriptions proliferating in the civic space.

IG I3 1032

  • 3 See Bakewell 2008 with earlier bibliography; I have drawn extensively on his discussion for my acc (...)

4The first and earliest of the naval inventories I discuss, IG I3 1032, dates to the late fifth or early fourth century and was found in fragmentary form at various sites near and on the Athenian acropolis.3 Standing at least 2.15m high and 1.0m wide, it would originally have included a complete listing of eight Athenian triremes spread over ten columns. What remains records the crews of four vessels, each manned by approximately 200 men listed hierarchically, beginning with the two syntrierarchs and ending with the rowers, as many as 170 of them, further subdivided according to civic status. First come the citizen sailors, then the xenoi, and finally the therapontes or slaves.

  • 4 Hunt 1998, p. 40-41, 87-101, 124-126, 175-176 and Hunt 2006, p. 25-29.
  • 5 See Bakewell 2008, p. 150-151 for a single parallel.
  • 6 Laing 1965, p. 50.

5What is most remarkable about the inscription is the attention paid to these last three categories, individuals whom contemporary sources more typically present as a collective, undifferentiated and often disparaged ochlos nautikos or naval rabble, the lowest of the low. Rowers, as further demonstrated in section three, are often wholly absent from civic documents and privately authored texts as well as from the visual record, whether on vases or on reliefs; and even when those who man the city’s triremes do earn a mention, slaves remain all but invisible (in Peter Hunt’s careful count, no more than eight texts from the classical period acknowledge their presence).4 Here, by contrast, each rower is carefully individualized: citizens are listed with their demotic, metics with their deme of residence, foreigners with their ethnic origins, and slaves are designated by the names of their masters in the genitive.5 Non-citizens make up as much as 70% of the crews of each trireme, although proportions vary from ship to ship. Very unusual too is the find spot and the monument’s display at this site: most naval inscriptions were housed at the Piraeus, home to the fleet, whereas IG I3 1032 was set up in the heart of civic and religious life, the Acropolis, where it enjoyed divine protection. Also distinctive is the fact of inscription in marble; as Donald Laing remarks, this is a rare example “of a type of administrative record kept for each ship that ever left the Piraeus but which in the normal course of events would never be transferred into more durable form such as this”.6

  • 7 Bakewell 2008, p. 153.
  • 8 Bakewell 2008, p. 154-156.

6So how do we explain this singularity? In Geoffrey Bakewell’s persuasive dismantling of previous interpretations, the inscription should not be classified among documents designed for administrative purposes; had this been the impetus, then the arrangement of the names, details supplied, and divisions used here make little sense and the information would have been presented in a more serviceable way.7 Nor, as earlier commentators proposed, does the stele resemble the well-known casualty lists set up in the Kerameikos; ruling out this epitaphic purpose is the reappearance of some of the individuals named in IG I3 1032 in later documents, the unlikelihood of such wholesale annihilation in a single naval encounter, the inscription’s provenance – the Acropolis as opposed to the usual burial site for the war dead – and the use of Attic in place of the Ionic script found in the casualty lists. Most telling is the fragments’ inclusion of the specifying details regularly omitted from the sêma dêmosion: on the Kerameikos stones, the names appear bare of demotics, with individuals grouped in wholesale fashion by tribes; absent too is all but the scantest mention of the rank and status of the dead, information which bulks so large in IG I3 1032.8

  • 9 Bakewell 2008, p. 157.

7Neither administrative nor epitaphic, Bakewell argues for the chiefly honorific purpose of this inscription. But in place of the emphasis on the collective found on the graves for those who fell in battle, which subsume individual identity to group and polis membership and the single fighter to the unit, IG I3 1032 broadcasts a different message, giving visible expression to the view that “citizens, allies, metics and slaves had in the past accomplished something of military moment by working together and could do so again”.9 In articulating how the company gathered on board a single ship might include heterogeneous elements, it makes room for those who conventionally fall outside the civic radar, allotting them a place normally reserved for the higher echelons.

Fig. 1: Lenormant relief, 410-400 BCE

Fig. 1: Lenormant relief, 410-400 BCE

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1339

Photothèque ANHIMA

Fig. 2 : Grave monument for Demokleides, 400-380 BCE

Fig. 2 : Grave monument for Demokleides, 400-380 BCE

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 752

Photothèque ANHIMA

  • 10 One exception is Ar. Ran. 693-705; however, the endorsement of the slaves’ post-Arginusae manumiss (...)
  • 11 See, for example, Ar. Acharn. 163, Eq. 567-568, 781-785, Vesp. 1091-1102.
  • 12 For nuanced treatments, see Pritchard 1998, Cartledge 1998, Rosenbloom (unpublished).
  • 13 For this, see Strauss 2000, p. 266-267, Neer 2002, p. 162-167, and Miller 2010, p. 328-332; note t (...)
  • 14 Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1339.
  • 15 Athens, National Archaeological Museum 752.

8Bakewell, perhaps, underplays just how atypical the view issued by the fragments would have been in late fifth- and early fourth-century Athens, where such unequivocally positive affirmations of the value of the rowers, and most outstandingly of the slaves among them, were few and far between.10 For every drama, work of history or speech delivered in the law courts or before the assembly that grants those who man the city’s navy their due, recognizing their skill, bravery and physical excellence,11 another (or the same) casts a jaundiced and/or mocking eye on the maritime element in Athens’s hegemony, or simply writes out rowers in reviewing the city’s resources and the underpinnings of its dominance.12 That obfuscation is even more marked in visual media.13 Where seventh- and sixth-century artists regularly decorated pots with vessels manned by rowers (see section four), the motif largely disappears in the fifth century, or is displaced by ships and crews belonging exclusively to the mythological realm. The few exceptions prove the point. Dated to ca. 410-400, the well-known Lenormant Relief (fig. 1)14 depicts a trireme whose crew, as reconstructed, includes 25 oarsmen, a bow-officer and several passengers tentatively identified as epibatai, the armed escort of soldiers normally drawn from the hoplite ranks; for all that the sculptor shows three banks of oars, only the more privileged members who manned the topmost tier, as opposed to the foreigners, therapontes and slavish elements crowded into the cramped and airless spaces underneath, are visible. The same exclusionary impulse informs the grave monument for one Demokleides, erected in ca. 400-380 (fig. 2).15 Shown seated in poignant isolation, the deceased appears on the prow of a trireme as it travels through the sea. The only extant stele depicting a ship, the stone commemorates not a rower but an epibatês, whose status his hoplite shield and helmet clearly flag.

Fragments of a set of naval inventories from the Athenian agora

  • 16 Shear 1995 offers a detailed account.
  • 17 Shear 1995, p. 180.

9Postponing discussion of continuities between IG I3 1032 and the Catalogue of Ships, I turn to a second set of naval inscriptions, focusing on their contents and mode of presenting the information. This cache consists of a series of stelai found in the Athenian agora that would originally have made up at least three documents. The earliest of these, dated to 357/356, are inscribed with small letters on marble blocks and belonged to a collection of records first erected at the Piraeus and subsequently moved to the agora (I 3227 and I 2012a-c).16 Column two of 2012c lists some 36 ships, 25 of which are regularly classified as exairetoi or “special”. Of the eleven remaining names, three belong to types of vessels that reappear only in later sources, three to ships of unknown form, three to an unknown category and the two remaining are designated “first” and “second” class.17 Here the emphasis falls not only on the vessel types, but on their equipment and specifically, in what can be discerned, their pêdalia or steering oars. A lost section in column five listed the katablêmata – hangings that covered the ships – and ropes. Two further fragments (7316 and 7459), from several years after, likewise record the equipment owed by the trierarchs.

  • 18 For these, see the discussions of Laing 1965 and 1968. For more on these inscriptions, see below.
  • 19 Liddel 2007, p. 188-189.
  • 20 Davies 1969, p. 311.

10For epigraphers, historians and prosopographers, the fragments’ value depends on the evidence they supply for individuals, ship types, nautical equipment and the role of documents in fourth-century Athens. Unlike IG I3 1032, these inventories would have served in the auditing of accounts and the necessary calling in of debts following an individual’s term of office, fulfilling much the same function as a second group of inscriptions, IG II2 1628, 1623 and 1631, found at the Piraeus and dated to 326/325.18 As Peter Liddel comments, lists like these “provided inventories of naval material in the docks and recorded the transactions between naval authorities and the trierarchs, and indicated the probity of the outgoing epimelêtai, as well as their fulfillment of obligations as outgoing magistrates about to undergo euthuna… As they detailed the conditions of the ships in the yards and the trierarchs responsible for returning them in that condition, they served also as records and checks of obligations performed and debts owed by the trierarchs concerned”.19 As typically occurs in documents of this kind, the “book keeping units”20 are not those who contracted for the boats, or the expeditions they undertook, but the ships themselves.

  • 21 Shear 1995, p. 186-188.

11For my purposes, the fragments’ interest depends on different features: first, the ship names cited in each line. In Julia Shear’s detailed analysis,21 owners chose these designations so as to grant their vessels positive attributes, flagging their beauty, good fortune, sea-worthiness, civic spirit and other properties that presaged successful ventures. Not only, consistent with the gender of ναῦς, are these ships uniformly feminine – some sharing names with mythological heroines, Procne, Thetis, Amphitrite among them – but many underscore their speed, ease of passage, and, very prominently, radiance and “spectacularity”: Phôs, Phanera, Delia, Lampetia, Lampra, Theamosunê and Theama belong to this group. Somewhat more surprising, although a corollary to several other properties, is the vessels’ festive character: one boat is called Heortê, another Euphrosunê while Eris and Hamilla suggest participation in a festive no less than martial agôn. A further set of names, among them Phêmê, Seiren and Salpinx, assigns the ships vocal/instrumental powers.

  • 22 Shear 1995, p. 182.

12A different dimension of the inscriptions illustrates stylistic correspondences between the oral catalogues in earlier hexameter sources and these written lists. For all the information-preserving and book-keeping impetus determining these records’ design, nonetheless regularity, patternings, and a variety of internal relations between individual items characterize the stelai; each line of I 2012c, for example, contains two ships’ names, with the exception of the final line of each section, where a single name appears; vessels which earn a special notation are also allotted an entire line. In this same document, variation distinguishes some anchors from the rest; in four instances they are made from iron while the remainder have no such specification. In columns II and III of 7316, each entry lists the names of the trierarchs in the accusative, followed by a pronoun standing for the equipment fitting out the ship whose name is then supplied; when these items belong to the first of the ships listed under the trierarch’s name, a form of the verb “to owe” precedes it. Shear’s discussion of I 7316 and I 7450 notes the repeated use of the expression ἃ/ἃς/ὃν ἐπὶ τήν together with a ship’s name, aptly designating these phrases “formulas”.22

  • 23 Laing 1968, p. 251.
  • 24 See Faraone 2013; cf. Sammons 2010, Perceau 2002.

13Many of these features reappear in the fragments of IG II2 1623, which originally belonged to a single opisthographic structure erected at the Piraeus and which postdates the agora inscriptions by several decades.23 Each segment of the reconstructed stone begins with a heading occupying several lines, listing the names, patronyms and demotics of the outgoing and newly appointed boards of epimelêtai presented in their conventional tribal order; each individual is identified in the dative case, placed after the date by archon; numerical quantities – many of them the same, and positioned at the end of lines – create fresh internal connections and repetitions. Such pairing through recurrence, the presence of “refrains”, the specialness of the item which occupies the final line, the distinction afforded certain pieces of equipment, and syntactical repetitions, variation and patterning, are typical of hexameter catalogues, introducing the multiple small and larger internal links, audible/visible iterations, and ring compositions that recent studies of the genre have illustrated.24

  • 25 Laing 1968, p. 248.

14The features just described would be apparent even to an analphabetic viewer, and all the more so to the partially literate passerby who, most likely, would have given these diminutive inscriptions no more than a cursory glance. Approached primarily as visual objects rather than message-bearing documents, the lettering traversing the blocks of marble – the most eye-catching, translucent and light emitting of all substances – presents a series of visual patterns and arrangements both similar and disparate that are set against a radiant backdrop. In his study of IG II2 1628, for which the stone-cutters used Hymettian marble, Douglas Laing noted some traces of coloration;25 would some portions of the text have been picked with paint out so as to heighten their visibility, or simply to invest the block with a measure of artistry not usually associated with administrative documents? If, prompted by some particularized concern, a viewer stopped to read the contents of a stele, articulating it aloud, the inscriptions’ rhythmic and iterative character would become more evident.

  • 26 Martin 2007, p. 50.

15At the risk of pressing the interpretation, I would suggest that the impression conveyed by the stones’ design and contents would be that of a large-scale maritime ensemble, made up of companies of visually brilliant, swift, young (colourful?) and on occasion resonant maidens, each with her own singularity as well as likenesses to the rest. Grouped in linear and circular formations, the inscriptions enact what Richard Martin has described, à propos of another epigraphic monument, as “a carefully choreographed visual…performance, a dance of the letters”,26 reminiscent of the spectacles devised by poets for live performance and those depicted in vase imagery treated at the close of my discussion.

The Homeric Catalogue of Ships

  • 27 Heiden 2008.

16In returning to the Homeric catalogue in Iliad 2.484-779, I aim to propose two sets of affinities between this list and the naval inventories, the first their shared ideological orientation, the second dependent on structural/syntactical similarities, and further to observe the performative dimension of the epic review. In both respects, my discussion is much indebted to the reading of the passage by Bruce Heiden, which I build on here.27

  • 28 Whitman 1958, p. 262, cited by Heiden 2008, p. 129.
  • 29 As the Iliad and Odyssey attest, Homer was already familiar with choral lyric.
  • 30 Heiden 2008, p. 149.
  • 31 Heiden 2008, p. 149.
  • 32 Steiner forthcoming.

17As part of a larger argument that highlights the curiously populist orientation of the Catalogue (see below), Heiden suggests that the list of the Achaean ships and crews exactly conforms to its characterization by Cedric Whitman, who styles it a “hymn to the army”.28 For Heiden, that designation is more than just rhetorical. Rather, the extended passage exhibits its “hymnal” and collective dimensions by virtue of its inclusion of features more typical of choral lyric (albeit extant only in later sources) than of hexameter poetry.29 Among the chief lyric fingerprints is the use of the refrains so characteristic of choral poetry and which give to the movements of the troops and ships a “rhythmic performance dimension comparable to dance”;30 the ways in which the poet invites us to view the quasi animated vessels not just as soldiers advancing in their ranks but as members of choral collectives who process in “stichic” formations (the expression νέες ἐστιχόωντο closes four of the lines); and the use of diction that suggests parallels between the structure of the crews and that of choral ensembles and identifies those who assemble and head the contingents as chorêgoi-like leaders marshalling and conducting their troupes of singer-dancers.31 As I argue elsewhere,32 two further features promote the choral quality distinctive of this passage: first the invocation, where the aoidos summons not the singular Muse of the proem of his song (θεά, Il. 1.1), but the plural goddesses (2.484), calling on them as a collective chorus; and second, the scene immediately preceding the invocation, which describes the armada’s preeminent leader, Agamemnon, in by-the-book choregic terminology (2.477-482).

  • 33 Heiden 2008, p. 149 with n. 67.

18Refining the argument, Heiden passingly suggests the precise lyric genre that the catalogue might take as its model. Noting the suitability of its subject matter, the many nameless soldiers poised to loose their lives at Troy (or who had already succumbed), Heiden likens the enumeration to a publicly staged threnody enacted on the occasion of the repatriation of the bodies of the dead to their native lands and their burial by their townspeople in civic funerals complete with mourning and commemoration.33 As Heiden comments of the terms ἦρχε/ἦρχον typically used by Homer for the leaders of the different contingents, this also serves as the verb of choice for those who lead off laments in the accounts of such performances in the closing books of the Iliad and Odyssey.

  • 34 Heiden 2008, p. 152.
  • 35 Il. 4.176-182, 7.89-90.
  • 36 See Day 1989 and 2010.
  • 37 The design of the Homeric Catalogue is entirely apposite to this “epitaphic” and monumentalizing r (...)

19Threnodies typically occur following the construction of a grave to house the dead, and these commemorative monuments are also pertinent to Heiden’s concluding suggestion, again made in passing, where he observes that the naval catalogue “furnishes the laoi with a collective σῆμα that returned each soldier to the ground of his birth”.34 This point can be developed. As readers have commented, on two occasions when the Iliadic poet pauses to describe such burial markers, he seems cognizant of the inscriptions that, already in the early archaic period, were incised onto the graves, where they work in tandem with the images topping the constructions.35 Also visible in the Iliad, and prominent in book seven, is the collective tumbos (7.435) erected by the Achaeans to bury their dead, a man-made structure that mitigates the otherwise “undifferentiated” (akriton, 7.436) character of the fallen. Although this grave lacks an epitaph, both these individual and collective burial mounds would find their counterparts in the inscription-bearing graves and poluandria visible in the archaeological record from the seventh century on, and whose ritual dynamics Joseph Day has reconstructed.36 In his account, by means of their design, syntax, selection of details and choice of vocabulary, these epigrams serve as abbreviated and summary recapitulations of the rites enacted on funerary occasions, and more particularly of the laments delivered by individuals and choruses of mourners; pronounced aloud, they supply prompts for the imaginative recreation on the part of both the reader and audience of the original moment of the burial and the mourning and commemorative discourses and songs integral to the event. When read with the funerary monument in mind, the Iliadic Catalogue offers nothing less than an honorific and memorializing roll call of the dead as performed by citizen choruses of thrênoi-singers now reified in the form of the enduring monument fashioned by the poet.37

20To conclude this section, a word about the Catalogue’s “outlier” ideological orientation. As noted above, Heiden’s discussion of its style and content belongs within his larger demonstration of the anomalous social viewpoint assumed in this enumeration, which, from its proem on, privileges the “little men” of the laos, typically treated en masse if acknowledged at all, over and above the leaders and aristoi, the foremost actors in virtually every other portion of the Iliad. In shining the spotlight on this normally occluded population, the closing portion of book two forms a piece with what has come before, and, to some degree, reconciles the two opposing ideologies whose clashes this book’s earlier episodes have staged: even as the tightly regularized, ordered and rhythmic quality of the Catalogue, its entirety derived from the Muses, effectively silences the cacophonous, unmetered and voluble discourse of Thersites, the now bloodied and bowed self-appointed spokesman for the laos, it nonetheless offers the newly quiescent demotic totality its due. As noted in part one of my discussion and detailed later, this populist orientation remains integral – sometimes in problematic or polemical fashion – to representations of the fleet and its crew, whether in the written sources, or in vase and sculptural imagery.

The departure of the Sicilian armada; Thucydides 6.31-32.

21The temporal, generic and functional dissimilarities between the lyric threnodies informing the Iliadic list and the Athenian naval catalogues notwithstanding, other fifth-century sources variously combine the choral and itemizing dimensions visible in the epic tour de force. In the reading of Thucydides’ description of the departure of the Sicilian armada from the Piraeus presented here, the historian’s account, which likely dates to the final decade of the fifth century or shortly thereafter, advertises its borrowings from the three different models cited above: the Iliadic Catalogue, the naval inventories of contemporary Athens, and the choral spectacles that were, from the archaic through the classical age, performed before civic audiences complete with the music, song, and dance or processional movement integral to the genre.

  • 38 Since the historian was in exile when he wrote this portion of the work, and lacked first hand acc (...)
  • 39 Thucydides is also in competition with Herodotus, whose description of the muster of the Persian n (...)

22For Thucydides’ desire to model his account after contemporary catalogues while also recalling and surpassing the Homeric template, we might look to the opening sections of 6.31. In accordance with the inventory format and content of the naval inscriptions,38 the historian painstakingly records and enumerates the heterogeneous kinds of ships and the different contingents and numbers of troops and rowers embarked on them, together with the amount of pay that each class of participant received, and who played paymaster. But alongside this accounting agenda, Thucydides also re-works the Catalogue of Ships, and this in a decidedly agonistic vein. If the Trojan armada, inventoried by Homer in a passage that parades numerical quantities and focuses on the crews and ships, constituted the largest ever gathering of Greek ships in “historical” memory, then this present assemblage supersedes that canonical company on several scores; although previous expeditions had been equivalent in size (31.1.2), none could match the present armament in its splendour, opulence and the length of its projected journey.39 Like its epic antecedent too, there is more than a hint of the epitaphic and monumentalizing about this list: as the audience would know, almost none of the ships and crews gathered at the Piraeus would ever make it home.

  • 40 See 31.1.4, 31.1.5, 31.4.3, and 31.6.2.
  • 41 See Jordan 2000, p. 62-65, Kallet 2001, p. 48-66 (note particularly 63), Steiner 2005, p. 412-414.

23Both Homeric and epigraphic, the description of the fleet introduces a third paradigm. From the outset of his mise en scène, Thucydides underscores the visible brilliance and view-worthy nature of the ships, punctuating his account with terms for sight and spectatorship.40 Other discussions have brought out the ways in which each vessel and its crew, both lavishly equipped and brilliantly decked out so as to surpass their rivals, resemble nothing so much as competing groups participating in a festival agôn, watched by an attendant crowd seeking out an eye-pleasing piece of pageantry.41 But the adherence to that performance format is more particularized than scholars have recognized. Much as those tapped as chorêgoi in fifth- and fourth-century Athens would vie with one another in equipping their chorus members with spectacular and innovative costumes, so the trierarchs treat their ships and the men on board, also caught up in the rivalry, in the manner of such chorus-members on whom they expend effort and financial largesse (31.3.4-4.2):

τὸ μὲν ναυτικὸν μεγάλαις δαπάναις τῶν τε τριηράρχων καὶ τῆς πόλεως ἐκπονηθέν, τοῦ μὲν δημοσίου δραχμὴν τῆς ἡμέρας τῷ ναύτῃ ἑκάστῳ διδόντος καὶ ναῦς παρασχόντος κενὰς ἑξήκοντα μὲν ταχείας, τεσσαράκοντα δὲ ὁπλιταγωγοὺς καὶ ὑπηρεσίας ταύταις τὰς κρατίστας, τῶν <δὲ> τριηράρχων ἐπιφοράς τε πρὸς τῷ ἐκ δημοσίου μισθῷ διδόντων τοῖς θρανίταις τῶν ναυτῶν καὶ ταῖς ὑπηρεσίαις καὶ τἆλλα σημείοις καὶ κατασκευαῖς πολυτελέσι χρησαμένων, καὶ ἐς τὰ μακρότατα προθυμηθέντος ἑνὸς ἑκάστου ὅπως αὐτῷ τινὶ εὐπρεπείᾳ τε ἡ ναῦς μάλιστα προέξει καὶ τῷ ταχυναυτεῖν, τὸ δὲ πεζὸν καταλόγοις τε χρηστοῖς ἐκκριθὲν καὶ ὅπλων καὶ τῶν περὶ τὸ σῶμα σκευῶν μεγάλῃ σπουδῇ πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἁμιλληθέν. ξυνέβη δὲ πρός τε σφᾶς αὐτοὺς ἅμα ἔριν γενέσθαι.

Where the naval elements were concerned, they were elaborately prepared at a great deal of expense to the trierarchs and the city. For the city allowed a drachma a day to every mariner; the empty vessels which they then sent out, sixty of the swift ones and forty more of those that carried hoplites, and the trierarchs both put into them the most select rowers, and besides the wages of the state, they gave something of their own to the thranitai and regular rowers, and bestowed great cost otherwise every one upon his own galley, both in the painted decorations and expensive fixtures, each one striving to the utmost to have his boat, in fair appearance and also in swiftness, to exceed in beauty the rest. And as for the land forces, they were levied from the best muster rolls and every man endeavoured zealously to surpass the others with regard to his arms and the gear that belonged to his person. And from this there resulted rivalry among themselves.

  • 42 For this selection process, see Wilson 2000, p. 75-76.

24The affinity between the naval assemblage and the choruses that performed at civic festivals extends beyond their shared competitive striving (ἁμιλληθέν). Reminiscent of the public-private partnership that allowed chorêgoi to put on such costly shows is the mode of financing, in which the trierarchs supplement the pay given by the polis to the sailors, and deploy their own resources for more “decorative” elements. The emphasis on the cash nexus between the elite naval impresarios and the men on board, as carefully selected (ἐκκριθέν) by the trierarchs as chorus members would be,42 does more than reinforce the equivalence between the choral and maritime occasions; it is also integral to Thucydides’ polemical and pejorative representation of a venture that, in his view, exemplifies how lower-class and mercantilist elements now dominate the civic landscape (the location of the spectacle, the Piraeus, makes the point in and of itself), the very critique that other authors out of sympathy with the radical democracy level against the city’s expansive and expensive festival culture. Exemplary of this is Ps. Xenophon’s observation concerning the payment now given to those performing in contests at the Panathenaia: “the people expect to get paid for singing, running, dancing and sailing on ships in order that they may have the money”; patent here is the equation of choral service with the obligation to man the city’s boats.

  • 43 See Homeric Hymn 27.15, of Artemis as chorêgos (καλὸν χορὸν ἀρτυνέουσα, 27.15); cf. the cognate ve (...)
  • 44 For ponos of a choral performance, see Pind. Nem. 3.11-12, with Kurke 2012, p. 229-230.
  • 45 See Kurke 2012, p. 228-229.

25More narrowly too, the vocabulary chosen by Thucydides can be matched with vocabulary found in earlier and contemporary descriptions of choruses and their performances. With the choral frame in place, the (albeit commonplace) verb chosen for the initial leading out of the ships, ἀνάγω (30.2.1; cf. 32.1.13), gains in significance: it is the term that Thucydides, following hexameter and dramatic precedents ([Hes] Scut. 280, Eur. Tr. 326) had earlier used at 3.104.4.1 in his report of how the cities that dispatched choruses to the Delia “led out” their ensembles. Choral terminology recurs at 31.3.4: ἐξαρτύω, the compound of a verb that refers in poetic genres to equipping choruses, here designates that same activity, now directed towards the ships and their crews.43 Such painstaking preliminaries, viz. the ponos (31.3.6) expended by the city and trierarchs on the fleet’s “showiness”,44 contribute to investing the participants in this spectacle with the heightened visibility, luxuriant adornment and brilliance (so λαμπρότης at 31.6.2) so regularly assigned to choruses, their leaders and singer-dancers, in descriptions that begin in Iliad 18.590-604, run through Alkman, Sappho and other archaic lyric poets, and appear anew in Pindar, Bacchylides and the fifth-century dramatists.45 That same dazzle characterized Alcibiades earlier in book six, when, in his account of his appearance as the cynosure of all eyes, he served as chorêgos in a manner that “outshone” (λαμπρύνομαι, 6.16.3.2) the displays of his rivals.

  • 46 Cf. Aesch. Pers. 386-405.
  • 47 Here the herald offers something resembling a “kitharoidic prelude”.
  • 48 As noted by Gomme 1992 ad loc.

26But it is in the final stages of the description that, on both thematic and linguistic grounds, events at the Piraeus most closely dovetail with the choral model. In the moments before the ships set sail, and where ἀνάξεσθαι appears again, Thucydides creates the “soundscape” appropriate to a choral performance, before adding in the ritual acts and choreography that occasions featuring choreia include. The sounding of the trumpet gives the signal for the pouring of the libations and the singing of the (choral) paean,46 with the herald supplying the cue for the song and the crews and spectators responding in unison to his lead off.47 The paean done, the ships then adopt the two most standard choral formations in sequence: first setting off in a column that recalls a chorus’ processional departure to its performance site,48 they subsequently engage in a competitive display, perhaps with a suggestion of a shift to the ring structure frequently assumed not just by dithyrambic choruses, but also by choral ensembles performing in other genres (32.2.2-5):

παιανίσαντες δὲ καὶ τελεώσαντες τὰς σπονδὰς ἀνήγοντο, καὶ ἐπὶ κέρως τὸ πρῶτον ἐκπλεύσαντες ἅμιλλαν ἤδη μέχρι Αἰγίνης ἐποιοῦντο.

And when they had sung the paean and ended the libations, they put out to sea; and having at first gone out in a long file, galley after galley, they subsequently went in a competition for superiority as far as Aegina.

27The chorus of youths and maidens on the penultimate band of Achilles’ shield at Iliad 18.598-602 already performs this “switching-off” between a line and circle, at one moment spinning about, and at another running forward and back in linear ranks (ἐπὶ στίχας). The chorus of cavalrymen in Aristophanes Knights arrange themselves in the same configurations when Demosthenes, acting like a chorêgos, directs them first to advance in a column (κέρας), and then to “wheel around” (κἀπαναστρέφου, 243-244) as they regroup into a circle.

  • 49 For ἅμιλλα used more generally of other choral competitions, see Aesch. PV 129, Ar. Nubes 311b, Ph (...)

28Thucydides’ choice of the term ἅμιλλα in his closing phrase recapitulates and prolongs the agonistic motif in earlier portions of the account (cf. ἁμιλληθέν and ἔριν at 31.4.1) while again pointing towards the ring dances executed by chorus-members. Similarly styling their performance a hamilla, the maidenly singer-dancers in Sophocles’ Trachiniae apply the expression to their circular motions as they dance their dithyramb-inflected paean (218-222), and Euripides’ choral parthenoi do the same when they recall how they used to perform ring dances, circling (εἱλίσσουσα) in “contents of gracefulness” (ἁμίλλας χαρίτων, IT 1144-1152; cf. ἔριν at 1149).49 But most apposite to Thucydides’ account is a passage from Pindar’s Isthmian 5.4-6, which twice anticipates the historian’s vocabulary in its highly imagistic visualization of ships performing this wheeling motion in a competitive display:

καὶ γὰρ ἐριζόμεναι
νᾶες ἐν πόντῳ καὶ <ὑφ᾽> ἅρμασιν ἵπποι
διὰ τεάν, ὤνασσα, τιμὰν ὠκυδινά-
τοις ἐν ἁμίλλαισι θαυμασταὶ πέλονται.

and then too when ships are vying in rivalry on the sea or horses yoked to chariots it is through your honour, o queen, that they become wondrous to behold in swift-spinning competitions

  • 50 For detailed discussion, see Steiner 2005 with earlier bibliography.
  • 51 Indicative of this is Thucydides’ remark that those competing to have the best arms and armour cam (...)

29Before citing further intersections between choruses and maritime ensembles, a brief return to the Homeric precedent and to the first of the inscriptions treated in section two. Similar to the epic and epigraphic sources insofar as it too projects to centre stage a frequently invisible, excluded or undifferentiated element in Athens’ martial self-representations, Thucydides’ account, in contrast to these, does anything but celebrate the crews that row the ships. Where the naval inscription – which like Thucydides’ depiction of the crowd in 6.30.2-3, suggests that the city consists not just of citizens but of xenoi too, and likewise accommodates those from allied states as well as slaves – projects a representation of a more than citizen-delimited unity, and, akin to Homer, celebrates and foregrounds the contribution to the common purpose on the part of those typically bypassed in official accounts, the historian makes the armada’s downward social tilt presage the failure of the Sicilian enterprise.50 Precisely because rowers and maritime personnel have displaced the hoplites and cavalry, these conspicuously unmentioned in the passage and whose absence becomes a cause of the expedition’s weakness and eventual unraveling, this venture ends in ignominy. Indeed, the snapshot of the city supplied here suggests that the base, money-minded and those who value spectacle above “hard facts” have assumed primacy of place in the late fifth-century polis.51

Ship choruses in the visual and poetic account

30Thucydides’ choice to elide a choral spectacle and naval armada does not spring ex nihilo but instead belongs within a larger literary and visual tradition to which, in what can be no more than the briefest sampling of the extensive evidence, this final section turns. As my examples demonstrate, painters and poets construct relations between sailing on and rowing ships and participating in choral troupes, now equating the vessels with those who sing and dance, now mapping the rowers and boatswains onto chorus members regulated by their chorêgoi and instrumentalists. Boats may also furnish sites for choral performances at sea or on shore, their decks standing in for dance floors, while, as the dismissive sources cited above suggest, choral expertise and the ability to be a rower on a trireme became elided.

Fig. 3: François Vase, ca. 570 BCE

Fig. 3: François Vase, ca. 570 BCE

Florence, Museo Archeologico 4209

Photothèque ANHIMA

Fig. 4: François Vase, ca. 570 BCE

Fig. 4: François Vase, ca. 570 BCE

Florence, Museo Archeologico 4209

Photothèque ANHIMA

  • 52 Florence, Museo Archeologico 4209. Cf. the oinochoe of ca. 700-680 from Southern Italy (London, Br (...)
  • 53 Hedreen 2011.

31Ships are a commonplace subject for painters of the seventh and sixth century, who regularly portray the vessels ready to embark, or already at sea, with companies of rowers seated at the benches. In an early intercalation of maritime and choral activity, the topmost frieze of the well-known François Vase depicts Theseus, lyre in hand, leading his mixed chorus line of the “twice seven” Athenian youths and maidens as Ariadne, carrying her wreath and ball of wool, stands waiting to receive them (figs. 3 and 4).52 In Guy Hedreen’s likely interpretation,53 Kleitias, the painter of the pot, shows the moment of the disembarkation on the occasion of the group’s arrival on Cretan soil, including in the scene proleptic pointers toward the performance of the geranos (the “crane dance”) at the adventure’s end. The ship standing to the chorus’ left anticipates the part that it would play in the abduction that follows the victory dance.

Fig. 5: Bilingual cup attributed to the Painter of London and the Antiope Painter, ca. 520-510 BCE

Fig. 5: Bilingual cup attributed to the Painter of London and the Antiope Painter, ca. 520-510 BCE

London, British Museum GR 1843.11-3.29

Trustees of the British Museum

  • 54 For this “late arrival” motif in images of choruses, see Crowhurst 1963, p. 243.
  • 55 Olsen 2015, p. 115.

32But Kleitias seems more narrowly to calibrate the nautical and choral elements. The representation of the last chorus member, one Phaidimos, shown striding onto terra firma as though rushing to catch up with the remainder of the group,54 not only acts as the link between the vessel with its crew and the processional line, but offers an animated counterpart to the craft: the double rudder protruding from its two sides appears co-extensive with Phaidimos’ feet, a design that grants the boat its own set of “legs” that move in the rhythmic fashion of the processional group, one up, the other down. In Sarah Olsen’s reading of the relations between the unnamed men still on the ship, each engaged in independent movements, irregularly spaced and diverse in their orientation, and the regimented labeled figures making up the dis hepta, the former should be read as the as yet random collective “without the unifying influence of choreographic dance”;55 it is this concordizing impulse, as Plato observes, that proves the hallmark of choreia, imposing “order in movement” on what was uncoordinated and dissonant before (Leg. 664e-665a).

  • 56 London, British Museum GR 1843.11-3.29.
  • 57 Cohen 2006, p. 42.
  • 58 Csapo 2003.

33Replacing the beached and single ship on the François Vase with something more resembling the Sicilian armada, a bilingual cup of ca. 520-510 attributed to the Painter of London and the Antiope Painter shows on its interior a frieze of four boats complete with crews circling around a black-glaze band “sea” (fig. 5);56 interspersed between each vessel, dolphins in groups of two and three leap downwards into the water. A ram in the shape of a boar’s head forms the prow of the ships, each manned by a helmsman seated in front of the rowers, whose heads, acting as the supports for the ships’ rails,57 seem moving parts of the wooden structures. The juxtaposition of the boar prows and dolphins connects the crafts with their animate partners, both denizens of the animal world, while the presence of the rowers with their neatly aligned and downward-facing oars suggests that they supply the beat to which the dolphins and animalized boats move. Since, as Eric Csapo has established,58 dolphins in the archaic and classical Greek imaginary are choral dancers par excellence, gamboling about ships in ring formations, the scene becomes an enactment of a circular dance around the cup’s interior, in which the ships, rowers and a dolphin chorus jointly participate.

  • 59 As noted by Cohen 2006, p. 42.

34The cup’s exterior scenes, as well as its tondo, where a youth attempts to lift a pointed amphora, reinforce the maritime and (choral) dance motif. Side A includes two youthful komasts, one with an oinochoe, dancing around a second pointed amphora; side B recapitulates the design, now assigning one of the two dancing youths the drinking horn, the vessel most characteristic of Dionysus. Wine, its transport, storage and consumption, unites the different surfaces of the cup: when filled with the liquid, the ships and dolphins would appear to travel across the “wine-dark” sea while the amphorae reiterate the vinous theme: such jars regularly served to carry wine on board ship.59 But insofar as the youths are celebrating a kômos, dance supplies a further associative element, recalling, perhaps, how Dionysus, abducted by pirates, transformed his maritime kidnappers into a chorus of dancing dolphins (HHDion. 52-53), who furnish the original celebrants of the dithyramb.

  • 60 Munich, Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2044.
  • 61 For recent discussion of these images with earlier bibliography, see Rothwell 2007, p. 58-63.

35This is the scene already shown on the celebrated black-figure cup by Exekias of ca. 540 in Munich,60 whose tondo displays Dionysus reclining in sympotic fashion on his ship while the crew, just turned into dolphins, frolick around the vessel. Although in part conditioned by the space available, Exekias’ choice to position the animals so that they form a partial circle points to their Ur-dithyrambic dance. In this visualization, the ship has an unmistakably dolphin shape, with the animals painted as ornamental devices on its body by way of metonymic prompt. Viewed this way, Dionysus is not only chorêgos, the one who marshals the performance, but, in anticipation of the series of late sixth- and early fifth-century vases showing choruses of men seated on their dolphin-mounts,61 the central choral dolphin-rider too.

Fig. 6: Attic black-figure dinos (fragment), 525-475 BCE

Fig. 6: Attic black-figure dinos (fragment), 525-475 BCE

Würzburg, Martin von Wagner Museum L 527

Photothèque ANHIMA

Fig. 7: Attic black-figure dinos (interior rim), 525-475 BCE

Fig. 7: Attic black-figure dinos (interior rim), 525-475 BCE

Würzburg, Martin von Wagner Museum L 527

Photothèque ANHIMA

  • 62 Würzburg, Martin von Wagner Museum L 527.
  • 63 As Csapo 2003, p. 82 comments of contemporary representations of dancing dolphins, they similarly (...)

36Another near contemporary image proposes a different combination of choral and maritime activity. On an Attic black-figure dinos fragment from Tarquinia of ca. 525-475 (fig. 6),62 five ships circle around the interior rim, each with its full complement of rowers and a helmsman, who holds one hand before his mouth and tips his head back; the pose, similar to that adopted by singers on vases of the period, might alert a viewer to the “tuneful” directions that he issues as he calls out the beat for the oarsmen. As though in answer to the summons, a large-bodied octopus appears between two of the ships; poised in mid-caper above the waves, it extends its several sets of symmetrically positioned tentacles, each leg lifted up, stretched, and flexed at its tip.63 The octopus’ design not only visually echoes that of the ship, similarly furnished with parallel banks of oars that extend out to its sides; also consistent with these rhythmically plied oars, the creature seems to leap to the sounds emitted by the vessel and its crew. The scene on the rim’s exterior (fig. 7), showing the return of Hephaestus accompanied by satyrs, maenads and men dancing so as to form a ring around the seated Dionysus, confirms these musical and choreographic associations: both at land and at sea, the Dionysiac wine mixed in the dinos would set the world circle-dancing, turning ships and crews into members of performing ensembles.

  • 64 Athen. Deipn. 1.22a comments on this.

37Even as fifth-century vase-painters seem to abandon explorations of continuities between maritime activity and choral participation, poets very much take it up. A full dossier would include Bacchylides 17, Pindar’s Isthmian 5.4-6 (cited in section three), the cheironomia or “hand dance” seemingly characteristic of Aeschylean performers,64 performed by chorus-members in imitation of rowers in Aeschylus’ Persae 1046 and Septem 855, and the reuse of the naval-choral motif in Agamemnon 48-51. Fifth-century comedy freshly calibrates service on board an Athenian trireme and choreia, most notably in Aristophanes’ Frogs and quite likely in his fragmentary Babylonians and Eupolis’ Taxiarchs. According to the view articulated in the agôn between Dionysus and the Frogs’ amphibian troupe, the physical conditioning and dexterity that participation in dramatic and other ritual choruses requires is the sine qua non for rowing in the city’s fleet.

  • 65 The debate concerning the authenticity of the parodos is largely extraneous to my discussion.
  • 66 The Homeric Catalogue of Ships more naturally belongs at the outset of the expedition, at the Auli (...)
  • 67 As Zeitlin 1994, p. 157 points out, the fact that the chorus’ arrival is motivated by nothing but (...)

38Among these multiple instances, the parodos of Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis, with its amalgam of a dancing-singing chorus, a list, and its pronounced borrowings from the Homeric Catalogue of Ships, proves most pertinent to my discussion.65 Making its processional entrance onto the stage, the chorus, composed of women from Chalcis who explain that they have come to Aulis in order to view the Achaean army and its fleet gathered on the beach,66 begins by identifying the two objects of its desired spectatorship (164-173): 67

I came to the sandy seashore of Aulis…in order that I might see the army of the Achaeans and the ship-speeding oars of the demigods (ὡς ἐσιδοίμαν Ἀχαιῶν τε πλάτας ναυσιπόρους ἡμιθέων).

39The antistrophe reiterates the singers’ wish to assume the viewer’s role, now declaring the women eager to see not the ships but “the mass of horses” (ἵππων τ᾽ ὄχλον, 191) in their place. The sequential mention of first the fleet, and then the horses looks back to the structure as well as contents of the Iliadic Catalogue of Ships; following his enumeration of the naval contingents, the poet then adds on a briefer list recording the “best of the horses” (Il. 2.763).

  • 68 See Zeitlin 1994, p. 163; cf. Fantuzzi 2017, p. 20.
  • 69 Zeitlin 1994, p. 159.

40Following this prefatory “overview”’, the chorus goes on to treat the already announced army element in what turns out to be not, as the opening statement conditions the audience to anticipate, an Iliadic-style catalogue of the Greeks at Troy, whether the naval enumeration of book two or a teichoskopia in the manner of Iliad three,68 but something altogether different: albeit preserving the list format adopted by Homer, the chorus then presents a sequence of heroes, some minor figures in the Iliad, others altogether absent from its cast of characters, engaged in leisure time activities remote from warfare and owing nothing to the Homeric survey beyond its liberal use of epic epithets.69

  • 70 Zeitlin 1994, p. 163 notes the reprise of the Homeric “counting” motif.

41At 231-232, the singers then turn to the second sight that they sought out, now affirming, with greater specificity, that they came “for the count of ships…and wondrous (lit. “unspeakable”) spectacle” (ναῶν δ᾽ εἰς ἀριθμὸν…καὶ θέαν ἀθέσφατον). Explicit here is the Iliadic shading of the phrase, with its pronounced recall of the invocation to the Muses prefacing the Catalogue of Ships, where the poet confesses his inability to enumerate “as many as came to Troy…the totality of ships”,70 and confronts a task that defies articulation (Il. 2.488-492). Like the Homeric bard, the Euripidean singers overcome the ineffable quality of the sight they would transmit, treating the audience to a description whose catalogue-like structure continues to advertise its debt to its hexameter precedent. Closing the final antistrophe, the singers draw from their Iliadic source one final time, again appropriating the language of the invocation: where the bard completed his appeal by newly stating the impossibility of his task, “unless the Olympian Muses…were to remember (μνησαίαθ᾽) as many as came” (492), the dramatic chorus observes “I will guard the memory (μνήμην σώιζομαι) of the gathering of the host” (302; trans. Zeitlin).

  • 71 Note, particularly 196, 207, 228, and 213-228 with Weiss 2018, p. 185-189; our readings correspond (...)

42Consistent with the Catalogue too is the ships’ transformation into participants in a choral performance, now re-enacted by the chorus members who dance and sing on the Athenian stage. Where the earlier portions of the parodos presented the Greek heroes decked out with objects and engaged in motions that the choreuts could reprise,71 now, in the three pairs of strophes and antistrophes, these correspondences depend on alignments between the naval and choral formations, the boat decorations and the performers’ accoutrements, and the leaders who, like their Homeric paradigms, assume the role of chorêgoi as they arrange and conduct their maritime ensembles.

  • 72 The verb ἵστημι belongs to the technical language of choreia, referring to “leading”, “forming”, o (...)

43First in the list are Achilles’ fifty vessels – these are penteconters (239), galleys equipped with fifty oars corresponding to a fifty strong dithyrambic choral troupe – adorned with golden figureheads of the (also fifty) Nereids who “stood/were positioned at the extremity (κατ’ ἄκρα…ἕστασαν) on the prows” (239-240). The elements privileged here suggest visual parallels between these reified and agalmata-like figures and the members of the female troupe processing onto the stage: each one of the Nereids is a visually brilliant young maiden, made to stand upright,72 and positioned at one end of the drawn-out line established by the fleet that extends over the Trojan plain. Also fifty in number are the Argive ships that, again, are “made to stand” (ἕστασαν, 243) next in the right-to-left formation that the chorus members continue to fashion. With the appearance of the Athenian contingent, the ships acquire a leader, Theseus’ son, who “is conducting…next in the line” (ἄγων…ἑξῆς, 247-249) the sixty vessels from his city. Just as on the François Vase Theseus appeared leading the Athenian youths in a processional structure, so here his son takes on his father’s role, replacing the dis hepta deployment with his more numerous ships.

44The Boeotian contingent has its place next to the Athenian levy, made up of vessels that are, like Achilles’ Nereid ensemble, personified and additionally given an internal pair of leaders: these ships are “adorned” (ἐστολισμένας, 255) with decorative devices and at their head stands Cadmus on the stern, while Leitus is named as their conductor (ἆρχε, 260). Much as in Alkman’s first Partheneion, where the three adornments cited first in the catalogue of chorus members (64-69) supply metonyms for their wearers, so here the descriptions of the decorations of each vessel could map onto the performers’ costumes, perhaps also differentiated so as to singularize each individual.

  • 73 Fantuzzi 2017, p. 24.

45Following additional descriptions of the insignia that accessorize the contingents in the fleet, the singers pick up the pace as “the list format…prevails over the interpretive quality” of the description.73 But a fresh burst of richly imagistic language concludes the review, newly filled with terms that underscore the choral character of the naval spectacle and cast the vessels as consubstantial with the singer-dancers’ actions and persons (288-293):

Αἴας δ᾽ ὁ Σαλαμῖνος ἔντροφος
†δεξιὸν κέρας
πρὸς τὸ λαιὸν ξύναγε
τῶν ἆσσον ὥρμει πλάταισιν†
ἐσχάταισι συμπλέκων
δώδεκ᾽ εὐστροφωτάταισι ναυσίν. ὡς
ἄιον καὶ ναυβάταν
εἰδόμαν λεών·
ὧι τις εἰ προσαρμόσει
βαρβάρους βάριδας,
νόστον οὐκ ἀποίσεται.

Ajax, the nursling of Salamis, was bringing together his right wing to the left of those near whom he was positioned with the oars weaving together with the last twelve well-twisted ships, as I heard and saw the crew. So that if someone were to fit a foreign vessel to it, that ship would not obtain a safe return.

  • 74 Zeitlin 1994, p. 160 notes this and a second smaller ring fashioned by the two mentions of Achilles (...)
  • 75 For weaving and choreia, see Steiner forthcoming.

46Appropriate to its final spot, the diction reflects the closing of the ring that, as in earlier hexameter sources, structures this extended catalogue;74 it was Ajax who, at the outset of the inventory that the Eretreian women proposed to undertake, first appeared, there too with a reference to his provenance from Salamis (193-194). Where in that earlier mention the hero was meeting with his brother in council, now, chorêgos-like, he leads in the last set of ships necessary for the jointure and closure of the naval-cum-chorus line. Well suited to choral dynamics is the weaving terminology that imagines Ajax interspersing individual ships into the larger formation so as to fashion a cohesive structure, a textile made of boats;75 prolonging that cloth-making conceit so common in choral lyric is the adjective used of the boats, which, with a glance to spinning or plaiting techniques, the singers style “well-twisted”, as though their linear deployment had by now refashioned itself into a circle.

  • 76 See Pl. Leg. 669c for προσαρμόζω in a choral context.

47Also reflective of the ongoing performance is the verb describing the enemy vessel that hazards an encounter with Ajax’s ships: although an antagonist, it nonetheless, and through the agency of some unspecified (chorêgos-like?) τις, “is fitted to” (προσαρμόσει, 296) the ship with which it engages. By virtue of the choice of term, the vessel, forcibly denied a home return, seems to furnish another chorus member in the longer line, now accommodated within a unity whose “concordizing” and harmonizing impetus and effect the performance of the Deliades in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo already demonstrates:76 there the mimetic wonder of the maidens’ song-and-dance depends on the beauty and fineness of its assemblage of disparate pieces (οὕτω σφιν καλὴ συνάρηρεν ἀοιδή, 164). In the Euripidean account, even once inimical and discordant items can be assimilated into the ordering and cohesive institution of this maritime and catalogue-like choreia.

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Hedreen 2011: Guy Hedreen, “Bild, Mythos, and Ritual: Choral Dance in Theseus’s Cretan Adventure on the François Vase”, Hesperia 80, p. 491-510.

Heiden 2008: Bruce Heiden, “Common People and Leaders in Iliad 2: The Invocation of the Muses and the Catalogue of Ships”, TAPA 138, p. 27-154.

Hunt 1998: Peter Hunt, Slaves, Warfare, and Ideology in the Greek Historians, Cambridge.

Hunt 2006: Peter Hunt, “Arming Slaves and Helots in Classical Greece”, in Christopher Brown, Philip Morgan (ed.), Arming Slaves: From Classical Times to the Modern Age, New Haven-London, p. 14-39.

Jordan 2000: Borimir Jordan, “The Sicilian Expedition was a Potemkin Fleet”, CQ 50, p. 63-79.

Kallet 2001: Lisa Kallet, Money and the Corrosion of Power in Thucydides. The Sicilian Expedition and its Aftermath, Berkeley-Los Angeles.

Kurke 2012: Leslie Kurke, “The Value of Chorality in Ancient Greece”, in John K. Papadopoulis, Gary Urton (ed.), The Construction of Value in the Ancient World, Los Angeles, p. 218-235.

Laing 1965: Donald R. Laing, A New Interpretation of the Athenian Naval Catalogue, IG II2, 1951. PhD. Diss. Univ. of Cincinnati.

Laing 1968: Donald R. Laing, “A Reconstruction of IG II2 1628”, Hesperia 37, p. 244-254.

Langdon 2001: Susan Langdon, “Beyond the grave: biographies from early Greece”, AJA 105, p. 579-606.

Liddel 2007: Peter Liddel, Civic Obligation and Individual Liberty in Ancient Athens, Oxford.

Martin 2007: Richard P. Martin, “Outer Limits, Choral Space”, in Chris Kraus, Simon Goldhill, Helen P. Foley, Jas Elsner (ed.), Visualizing the Tragic. Drama, Myth, and Ritual in Greek Art and Literature, Oxford, p. 35-62.

Miller 2010: Margaret Miller, “I am Eurymedon: tensions and ambiguities in Athenian war imagery”, in David M. Pritchard (ed.), War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens, Cambridge, p. 304-338.

Myers 2007: Micah Myers, “Footrace, Dance and Desire: the χορός of Danaids in Pindar’s Pythian 9”, SIFC 5, p. 230-247.

Neer 2002: Richard Neer, Style and Politics in Athenian Vase-Painting. The Craft of Democracy, ca. 530-460 B. C. E., Cambridge.

Olsen 2015: Sarah Olsen, “Conceptualizing Choreia on the François Vase. Theseus and the Athenian Youths”, Mètis N.S. 13, p. 107-121.

Perceau 2002: Sylvie Perceau, La parole vive. Communiquer en catalogue dans l’épopée homérique, Louvain.

Powell 1978: Barry B. Powell, “Word Patterns in the Catalogue of Ships (B 494-709). A Structural Analysis of Homeric Language”, Hermes 106, p. 255-264.

Pritchard 1998: David Pritchard, “The Fractured Imaginary: Popular thinking on Military Matters in Fifth-Century Athens”, AH 28, p. 38-61.

Rosenbloom (unpublished): David Rosenbloom, “The Athenian Navy and Democracy: Top Down, Bottom Up or Topsy-Turvy Organization”, uploaded at www.academia.edu, consulted on April 5th, 2018.

Rothwell 2007: Kenneth Rothwell, Nature, Culture and the Origins of Greek Comedy: A Study of Animal Choruses, Cambridge-New York.

Sammons 2010: Benjamin Sammons, The Art and Rhetoric of the Homeric Catalogue, Oxford.

Shear 1995: Julia Shear, “Fragments of Naval Inventories from the Athenian Agora”, Hesperia 64, p. 179-224.

Steiner 2005: Deborah T. Steiner, “For Want of a Horse: Thucydides 6.30-2 and reversals in the Athenian Civic Ideal”, CQ 55, p. 407-422.

Steiner Forthcoming: Deborah T. Steiner, Constructing the Chorus. The idea of the chorus in the literature, art and social practices of archaic and early classical Greece, Cambridge.

Strauss 2000: Barry Strauss, “Perspectives on the Death of fifth-century Athenian Seamen”, in Hans van Wees (ed.), War and Violence in Ancient Greece, London-Swansea, p. 261-284.

Weiss 2018: Naomi Weiss, The Music of Tragedy. Performance and Imagination in Euripidean Theater, Berkeley-Los Angeles.

Whitley 1994: James Whitley, “Protoattic Pottery: A Contextual Approach”, in Ian Morris (ed.), Classical Greece: Ancient Histories and Modern Archaeologies, Cambridge, p. 51-70.

Whitman 1958: Cedric H. Whitman, Homer and the Heroic Tradition, New York.

Wilson 2000: Peter Wilson, The Athenian Institution of the Khoregia. The Chorus, the City and the Stage, Cambridge.

Zeitlin 1994: Froma I. Zeitlin, “The Artful Eye: Vision, Ekphrasis, and Spectacle in Euripidean Drama”, in Simon Goldhill, Robin Osborne (ed.), Art and Text in Ancient Greek Culture, Cambridge, p. 138-196.

Notes

1 See Powell 1978, Sammons 2010 and Perceau 2002.

2 For this approach to material evidence, see Whitley 1994 and Langdon 2001.

3 See Bakewell 2008 with earlier bibliography; I have drawn extensively on his discussion for my account.

4 Hunt 1998, p. 40-41, 87-101, 124-126, 175-176 and Hunt 2006, p. 25-29.

5 See Bakewell 2008, p. 150-151 for a single parallel.

6 Laing 1965, p. 50.

7 Bakewell 2008, p. 153.

8 Bakewell 2008, p. 154-156.

9 Bakewell 2008, p. 157.

10 One exception is Ar. Ran. 693-705; however, the endorsement of the slaves’ post-Arginusae manumission is quickly nuanced.

11 See, for example, Ar. Acharn. 163, Eq. 567-568, 781-785, Vesp. 1091-1102.

12 For nuanced treatments, see Pritchard 1998, Cartledge 1998, Rosenbloom (unpublished).

13 For this, see Strauss 2000, p. 266-267, Neer 2002, p. 162-167, and Miller 2010, p. 328-332; note too Cartledge 1998, p. 63-65.

14 Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1339.

15 Athens, National Archaeological Museum 752.

16 Shear 1995 offers a detailed account.

17 Shear 1995, p. 180.

18 For these, see the discussions of Laing 1965 and 1968. For more on these inscriptions, see below.

19 Liddel 2007, p. 188-189.

20 Davies 1969, p. 311.

21 Shear 1995, p. 186-188.

22 Shear 1995, p. 182.

23 Laing 1968, p. 251.

24 See Faraone 2013; cf. Sammons 2010, Perceau 2002.

25 Laing 1968, p. 248.

26 Martin 2007, p. 50.

27 Heiden 2008.

28 Whitman 1958, p. 262, cited by Heiden 2008, p. 129.

29 As the Iliad and Odyssey attest, Homer was already familiar with choral lyric.

30 Heiden 2008, p. 149.

31 Heiden 2008, p. 149.

32 Steiner forthcoming.

33 Heiden 2008, p. 149 with n. 67.

34 Heiden 2008, p. 152.

35 Il. 4.176-182, 7.89-90.

36 See Day 1989 and 2010.

37 The design of the Homeric Catalogue is entirely apposite to this “epitaphic” and monumentalizing role: cf. the mid-sixth-century Ambracian cenotaph (SEG 41.540A).

38 Since the historian was in exile when he wrote this portion of the work, and lacked first hand access to any documents concerning the expedition, he either relied on informants or was simply modeling his account after these records’ familiar contents and style.

39 Thucydides is also in competition with Herodotus, whose description of the muster of the Persian naval and land forces in book seven similarly strives to outdo the Homeric Catalogue.

40 See 31.1.4, 31.1.5, 31.4.3, and 31.6.2.

41 See Jordan 2000, p. 62-65, Kallet 2001, p. 48-66 (note particularly 63), Steiner 2005, p. 412-414.

42 For this selection process, see Wilson 2000, p. 75-76.

43 See Homeric Hymn 27.15, of Artemis as chorêgos (καλὸν χορὸν ἀρτυνέουσα, 27.15); cf. the cognate verb, ἀρτίζω, describing another set of archetypal dancers at Theoc. 13.43.

44 For ponos of a choral performance, see Pind. Nem. 3.11-12, with Kurke 2012, p. 229-230.

45 See Kurke 2012, p. 228-229.

46 Cf. Aesch. Pers. 386-405.

47 Here the herald offers something resembling a “kitharoidic prelude”.

48 As noted by Gomme 1992 ad loc.

49 For ἅμιλλα used more generally of other choral competitions, see Aesch. PV 129, Ar. Nubes 311b, Philod. Paean 132-134, Pl. Leg. 834e, Xen. Mem. 3.3.12.

50 For detailed discussion, see Steiner 2005 with earlier bibliography.

51 Indicative of this is Thucydides’ remark that those competing to have the best arms and armour came from the superior, chrêstoi, muster rolls, only later to reveal that this was a false impression on the part of the spectators: of the 5,100 hoplites included in the expedition, the 700 who served as epibatai, the merchant marines, were, contrary to conventional practice, drawn from the class of thetes (6.43).

52 Florence, Museo Archeologico 4209. Cf. the oinochoe of ca. 700-680 from Southern Italy (London, British Museum, 1849. 0518.18), and an Attic krater of ca. 730 from Thebes (London, British Museum, 1899. 0219.1), both showing the geranos.

53 Hedreen 2011.

54 For this “late arrival” motif in images of choruses, see Crowhurst 1963, p. 243.

55 Olsen 2015, p. 115.

56 London, British Museum GR 1843.11-3.29.

57 Cohen 2006, p. 42.

58 Csapo 2003.

59 As noted by Cohen 2006, p. 42.

60 Munich, Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2044.

61 For recent discussion of these images with earlier bibliography, see Rothwell 2007, p. 58-63.

62 Würzburg, Martin von Wagner Museum L 527.

63 As Csapo 2003, p. 82 comments of contemporary representations of dancing dolphins, they similarly flex their ‘feet’.

64 Athen. Deipn. 1.22a comments on this.

65 The debate concerning the authenticity of the parodos is largely extraneous to my discussion.

66 The Homeric Catalogue of Ships more naturally belongs at the outset of the expedition, at the Aulis muster, than ten years into the war.

67 As Zeitlin 1994, p. 157 points out, the fact that the chorus’ arrival is motivated by nothing but their wish to view the ships makes that act of spectatorship integral to the women’s dramatic personae.

68 See Zeitlin 1994, p. 163; cf. Fantuzzi 2017, p. 20.

69 Zeitlin 1994, p. 159.

70 Zeitlin 1994, p. 163 notes the reprise of the Homeric “counting” motif.

71 Note, particularly 196, 207, 228, and 213-228 with Weiss 2018, p. 185-189; our readings correspond on several points.

72 The verb ἵστημι belongs to the technical language of choreia, referring to “leading”, “forming”, or “establishing” a chorus as a permanent institution; see Myers 2007.

73 Fantuzzi 2017, p. 24.

74 Zeitlin 1994, p. 160 notes this and a second smaller ring fashioned by the two mentions of Achilles. This structural device corresponds to the v-formation adopted by choruses in visual representations (see Crowhurst 1963, p. 295-297 for these) and suggested by Eur. Hel. 1478-1480.

75 For weaving and choreia, see Steiner forthcoming.

76 See Pl. Leg. 669c for προσαρμόζω in a choral context.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1: Lenormant relief, 410-400 BCE
Légende Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1339
Crédits Photothèque ANHIMA
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsehess/docannexe/image/5670/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 105k
Titre Fig. 2 : Grave monument for Demokleides, 400-380 BCE
Légende Athens, National Archaeological Museum 752
Crédits Photothèque ANHIMA
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsehess/docannexe/image/5670/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 186k
Titre Fig. 3: François Vase, ca. 570 BCE
Légende Florence, Museo Archeologico 4209
Crédits Photothèque ANHIMA
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsehess/docannexe/image/5670/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 326k
Titre Fig. 4: François Vase, ca. 570 BCE
Légende Florence, Museo Archeologico 4209
Crédits Photothèque ANHIMA
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsehess/docannexe/image/5670/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 288k
Titre Fig. 5: Bilingual cup attributed to the Painter of London and the Antiope Painter, ca. 520-510 BCE
Légende London, British Museum GR 1843.11-3.29
Crédits Trustees of the British Museum
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsehess/docannexe/image/5670/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 157k
Titre Fig. 6: Attic black-figure dinos (fragment), 525-475 BCE
Légende Würzburg, Martin von Wagner Museum L 527
Crédits Photothèque ANHIMA
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsehess/docannexe/image/5670/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 214k
Titre Fig. 7: Attic black-figure dinos (interior rim), 525-475 BCE
Légende Würzburg, Martin von Wagner Museum L 527
Crédits Photothèque ANHIMA
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsehess/docannexe/image/5670/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 243k

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