LECTURE 4: The individual as participant in ritual and the hero as ritual substitute.

Kierkegaard (Repetition, 1843): "The dialectic of repetition is easy, for that which is repeated has been - otherwise it could not be repeated - but the very fact that it has been makes the repetition into something new." (Cf. dêute 'once again' in Sappho 1.)

1. Key word for today: daimôn (plural daimones) 'supernatural force (= unspecified god or hero) intervening in human life'; eudaimonia 'state of being blessed with a good daimôn'; vs. theos 'god'(that is, a specified god)

2. concept of "equal to a daimôn" and epithets meaning "equal to the gods"

3. numphê, means both 'bride' (e.g. Iliad XVIII 492) and 'goddess', that is, 'nymph'(e.g. Iliad XXIV 616).

4. By implication, the ritual occasion of a wedding, as formalized in a bridal song, collapses the distinction between 'bride' and 'goddess'.

5. Similarly, the ritual occasion of warfare collapses the distinction between 'warrior' and 'war god' - but only at the precise moment when the warrior comes face-to-face with his own martial death. Epic records that moment with the expression "equal to a daimôn".

6. Mimesis: the process of re-enactment in sacred space.

7. What you re-enact is myth, how you re-enact is ritual. For more on myth and ritual, see Lecture 3 Appendix ## 1-2.

8. Reminder: myth (including epic, which is myth in the anthropological sense of the word "myth") is framed by ritual - the ritual of performance.

9. You can re-enact not just by acting but by telling. In epic, you are telling the narrative. In lyric, you are (ordinarily) acting it.

10. But there is a great deal of overlap in the ancient Greek song culture. Telling an epic is also acting, in a positive sense. Solo acting. Acting a lyric is also implicitly telling a narrative, again in a positive sense.

11. Go back to #4 above. Compare the ancient Greek ritual of a wedding with Apache and Navajo rituals of girls' initiation into puberty, customarily performed by and in honor of a young female member of the community on the occasions of her first and second menstruation. The focal point of the Apache and Navajo myths and rituals is the goddess "Changing Woman." More literally, her name means "the woman who is transformed time and again." In the here and now of the Changing Woman ritual, the songs are thought to have the power of re-enacting the prototypical event. From Nagy, Poetry as Performance (Cambridge UPress 1996 [this book is not required for the course]) p. 88: "the localization of the Navajo family hogan becomes sacred space, where the distinctions between the details of myth and the details of ritual can merge in the minds of those who participate in the ritual." Within the sacred space, the young girl to be initiated becomes identified with the goddess Changing Woman.

11a. After the blessings in the Navajo ritual, the initiand leaves the hogan and runs a race with other young people who are participants in her initiation, and it is ritually prescribed that she must take the lead in the race.

12. Compare the authoritative status of the chorus-leader or khorêgós in Alcman's Partheneion (which apparently refers to some sort of ritualized race). See Sourcebook I pp. 445-447.

12a. In the Navajo ritual, the prescribed course of the race to be run by the girl initiand is symbolic of the course of the sun. It has been observed that "the race is, in effect, her pursuit of the sun" (sources in Nagy Poetry as Performance pp. 89-90 [not required reading]). In the myth of Changing Woman, which is correlated with the race of the girl initiand, the goddess actually mates with the Sun (p. 90). At the moment of intercourse, the Sun takes on the form of a handsome young man.

13. We may compare a theme that is prevalent in the poetics of Sappho, where the female speaker declares her érôs âelíô 'lust for the sun' (Sappho F 58.25-26 V = no. 5 in Sourcebook I p. 450 [= #9 on p. 455, Julia Dubnoff's poetic translation]). See also the quotation from Alcman in Lecture 3, #3 in the "Appendix."

13a. In the Talking God type of hogan songs in Navajo ritual, the goddess is conventionally described as moving towards the ritually decorated family hogan and then signaling her arrival. As she arrives, the references to the goddess shift from the third to the first person, so that the goddess herself, represented in the words of the singer, now speaks as an "I." It seems that the "I" stands for a composite of the girl initiand and Changing Woman herself, though the actual performer is the chief singer. A phrase continually repeated in Talking God Hogan Song 25 goes like this: "With my sacred power, I am traveling."

13b. This image of a traveling goddess whose climactic epiphany in the here and now signals a shift from third to first person is comparable to the celebrated inaugural song of the Alexandrian edition of songs attributed to Sappho, = Sappho 1 in the Appendix for Lecture 3 (for a more poetic translation, by Julia Dubnoff, see Sourcebook I p. 452).

13c. In this song, Sappho 1, Aphrodite shifts from second-person addressee to first person speaker (in a stretch starting at line 18 and lasting through line 24).

14. T. S. Eliot (The Dry Salvages, 1941): "you are the music / While the music lasts."

15. As the premier hero of ancient Greek song culture, Achilles is the music.

16. Like Herakles (see Lecture 1), Achilles is A) unseasonal (XXIV 540), B) best (Best of the Achaeans 15-41 [reminder: this book is on the web-site, in column 4 of the "4 columns"]) and C) antagonistic with the god most like him.

17. The antagonism is key to the concept of the hero as ritual substitute.

18. The key expression is equal to a daimôn; see again #1 and #2 above.

19. therapôn 'attendant, minister, ritual substitute' (this is the definition in the Glossary)

20. therapontes Arêos, e.g. II 110: notice how Butler translates it: "squires" of Ares

21. Patroklos as therapôn 'companion-in-arms' or 'comrade' of Achilles, XVI 165

22. Patroklos as îsos Arêi 'equal to Ares' at XI 604

23. Patroklos as daimoni îsos 'equal to a daimôn' at XVI 705 and 786

24. "dress-rehearsal": Diomedes as daimoni îsos 'equal to a daimôn' at V 438 and 459

25. pros daimona 'face-to-face with the daimôn' at XVII 98.

26. Sappho 44 (= no. 28 in Sourcebook I, p. 458) features Andromache and Hektor as bride and bridegroom; they are theoeikeloi 'equal to the gods' at their wedding. This song is an example of "epic" as refracted in women's songmaking traditions: discussion by G. Nagy, Homeric Questions (UTexas Press 1996) p. 57 [not required reading for the course].

26a. Please note: the transition from no. 26 to no. 27 is very important for the main themes of this course. The word kênos 'that one' in the first line of Sappho 31, as quoted in no. 27, refers apparently to a bridegroom at a wedding. This ultimate bridegroom is an "Achilles lookalike."

27. Sappho 31 (translation by Nagy)

phaínetaí moi kênos îsos théoisin    He appears to me, that one, equal to the gods,
émmen' ô´nêr ottis enántiós toi      the man who, facing you,
isdánei kai plâ´sion âdu phôneí-     is seated and, up close, that sweet voice of yours
sâs upakoúei                         he listens to

kai gelaísâs îmeróen tó m' ê mân     and how you laugh your charming laugh. Why, it
kardían en stê´thesin eptóaisen      makes my heart flutter within my breast,
ôs gár és s' ídô brókhe' ôs me 
                       phô´nai-      'cause the moment I look at you, right then, for me
s' oud' en ét' eíkei                 to make any sound at all won't work any more.

allà kam men glôssa éâge lépton      My tongue has a breakdown and a delicate
d' aútika khrôi pûr upadédromâken    - all of a sudden - fire rushes under my skin.
oppátessi d' oud' en órêmm' epirróm- With my eyes I see not a thing, and there is a roar
beisi d' ákouai                      that my ears make.

kad dé m' ídrôs kakkhéetai trómos de Sweat pours down me and a trembling
paîsan ágrei khlôrotéra de poías     seizes all of me; paler than grass
émmi tethnákên d' olígô 'pideúês     am I, and a little short of death
phaínom' em' aút[âi                  do I appear to me.

28. "Anonymous":

Life is a mystery
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name and it feels like
Oh my God 4x
When you call my name
Like a little prayer
Down on my knees
Going to take you there
In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer
You know I'll take you there.
I feel your voice
It's like an angel sighing
I have no choice
I hear your voice
         Feels like flying
I close my eyes
Oh God I think I'm falling
out of the sky
I close my eyes
Heaven help me.
Like a child
You whisper softly to me
You're in control
Just like a child
[Now I'm dancing]
It's like a dream
No end and no beginning
You're here with me
It's like a dream
Let the choir sing

29. Sappho 16 stanza 1 (Sourcebook I p. 447)

oi men ippê´ôn stróton oi de pésdôn
oi de nâ´ôn phaîs' epì gân mélainan
émmenai kálliston égô de kên' ot-
tô tis érâtai
Some say an army of horsemen.
some of footsoldiers, some of ships,
is the fairest thing on earth,
but I say it is what one loves.


Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender weed,
Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves the soul to bleed,
Some say love, it is a hunger--an endless aching need,
I say love, it is a flower--and you, its only seed.