Textkit Logo

Phaeacian dance

Are you reading Homeric Greek? Whether you are a total beginner or an advanced Homerist, here you can meet kindred spirits. Beside Homer, use this board for all things early Greek poetry.

Phaeacian dance

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Jul 30, 2015 10:05 pm

I'm wondering about the Phaeacian duo dance with a ball at 8.372 ff., especially ποτὶ χθονὶ πουλυβοτείρῃ at 378. All in all, Garvie's commentary gives a good overview, but I have a hard time figuring out a few points.

The dancers first take turn in bending themselves backwards (ἰδνωθεὶς ὀπίσω) and then throwing the ball high in the air, with the other dancer always catching the ball by jumping. (But I wonder if ἰδνωθεὶς ὀπίσω actually means something like performing a back walkover. I suspect that no, something less impressive is meant). ἀν᾽ ἰθὺν seems to mean "straight up", though how exactly this is constructed is a bit unclear to me--but that doesn't really bother me, because it seems to be a notorious crux (Garvie considers ἰθὺν an adjective, Hainsworth a substantive), and the meaning seems clear.

In the second part of the dance, they are no longer jumping in the air but dancing low on the ground, apparently still with a ball, throwing it quickly from one to the other (ἀμειβομένω). I'm wondering if ποτὶ χθονὶ πουλυβοτείρῃ just simply means that they are no longer jumping in the air, or whether it's something more remarkable. Specifically, I wonder if they are performing a sort of Russian squat dance, i.e. as close to the ground as possible (in opposition, in a way, to ποτὶ νέφεα σκιόεντα a few lines earlier in the first dance). (The sort of dance as at 0:58 in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiiuN9eAy9Y. Just imagine a ball in addition!)

οἱ δ᾽ ἐπεὶ οὖν σφαῖραν καλὴν μετὰ χερσὶν ἕλοντο,
πορφυρέην, τήν σφιν Πόλυβος ποίησε δαΐφρων,
τὴν ἕτερος ῥίπτασκε ποτὶ νέφεα σκιόεντα
ἰδνωθεὶς ὀπίσω, ὁ δ᾽ ἀπὸ χθονὸς ὑψόσ᾽ ἀερθεὶς
ῥηιδίως μεθέλεσκε, πάρος ποσὶν οὖδας ἱκέσθαι.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ σφαίρῃ ἀν᾽ ἰθὺν πειρήσαντο,
ὠρχείσθην δὴ ἔπειτα ποτὶ χθονὶ πουλυβοτείρῃ
ταρφέ᾽ ἀμειβομένω: κοῦροι δ᾽ ἐπελήκεον ἄλλοι
ἑστεῶτες κατ᾽ ἀγῶνα, πολὺς δ᾽ ὑπὸ κόμπος ὀρώρει.

I'd be thankful for any opinions!
User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1928
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Phaeacian dance

Postby mwh » Fri Jul 31, 2015 2:43 am

Haven’t investigated but it seems possible, and ποτι (unique?) might support it? Could be consistent with ταρφέ᾽ ἀμειβομένω. Are they still using the ball? I had supposed not (αμειβομ. just of switching positions). Does επεληκεον imply beating time (with feet, hand-claps, voice, whatever) to the dance? (Did it speed up, perhaps?) They perform otherwise unaccompanied, it seems, unusually for dancers (unless Demodokos is still playing?). I imagine a rhythm such as paeonic (Cretan) rather than common time or arrhythmic, perhaps wrongly. Pity there’s no mention of arms or legs or staying low. I’d have expected something livelier with more varied movement. Is there any evidence for such dancing within Homeric ambit? Ethnographic comparanda?, descriptions?, vase-paintings?
So many questions. All in all I reckon it’s just in contrast with the leaping of the first display. He may well have had some particular dance in mind (as with the ball throw and catch act), but who can tell? I’ve kind of gone off your idea as I’ve been writing this.
I should look at commentaries I suppose.
mwh
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 2759
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Phaeacian dance

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:32 am

The commentaries are divided with ἀμειβομένω, the newest by Garvie interpreting it to mean that the dancers are throwing the ball to one another. "The phrase is often translated 'rapidly changing position', but as a description of a dance-movement this seems disappointingly vague. More probably the ball is still in use, and the alternation consists in the throwing of it form one to the other as they dance. Cf. 24.60, where the voices of the Muses alternate as one after another takes up the song."

As a parallel for the dance with passing the ball, there's of course Nausicaa and her maids in book 6.

For artistic representations, both Garvie and Hainsworth refer to M. Wegner, Archaeologia Homerica U, 65-8, to which I don't have access, at least not from home. I might try to find it the next time I go to the library.

I don't understand Garvie's note on ἐπελήκεον. "an imperf., evidently formed the perf. λέληκα (or -(-ώς); see Chantraine, GH I 347, Leumann 218, Risch 308. If Theocr. 2.24 is any guide, where λάκεω is used for the cracking of bay-leaves in a fire, the verb must describe some sort of noise. LSJ explain is either of the clapping hands in applause (Σ ἐπεκρότουν), or, less plausibly, of the beating of time with hands or feet for the dancers. Cf. Aesch. Sept. 186 and Supp. 872 λακάζω 'shout', Call. fr. 193.10 ληκῆσαι, Luc. Lex. 8 and Apol. Dysc. Adv. 152.11 ληκίνδα." But how, "less plausibly"? If it means applause, why an imperfect? For me, the imperfect much easier to interpret as simultaneous with the dancing, and in that case it makes little sense beating hands without doing it to the rhythm--unless it's arrhythmic, and this just means the audience is making all sorts of excited noises. Also, why would only the young men applaud and not the whole audience? Somehow it would seem more natural that beating the rhythm is something that only the boys, who were dancing themselves a while ago, would do. Also, what is unclear to me, is why Garvie takes ὑπό in πολὺς δ᾽ ὑπὸ κόμπος ὀρώρει to mean"in accompaniment", which is plausible to me but seems to go against his interpretation of "applause" (the other possibility being that ὑπό means that the noise raises gradually).

But I think you're right that this might well be an elliptic description of a particular dance (perhaps, though I suppose it's not very likely, ποτὶ χθονὶ is a technical term?), and there's no way to know unless there's an illumating artistic representation or a more explicit parallel. If there were a single vase painting with young boys doing the Russian squat dance, I think it would settle the matter! :)
User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1928
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Phaeacian dance

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:06 am

I also checked Homeric Encyclopedia s.v. dance, but the article is a bit disappointing, it doesn't even try to address any technical questions. It seems to me that this area is underresearched, which is rare in Homeric studies...
User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1928
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Phaeacian dance

Postby jeidsath » Fri Jul 31, 2015 6:11 pm

There was a French ball dance that existed in medieval times, recorded for us in cathedral records:

http://www.iapsop.com/archive/materials ... 2-1913.pdf (see page 91. Ceremonial Game-Playing and Dancing in Mediaeval Churches.)

Also here: https://archive.org/stream/historyofmus ... 6/mode/2up

According to the second link, there is a description of it in Acta Sanctorum. Another similar description here: https://books.google.com/books?id=V41AAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA446
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
 
Posts: 2434
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: Phaeacian dance

Postby mwh » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:10 pm

The two Phaeacian stars' dance was obviously quite different from this, and also quite different from Nausicaa and co. innocently playing catch in the meadow. It’s a virtuoso perfomance. To me the Greek suggests that while their first act involves the ball, as described, the dance that follows does not. (As I read it, αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ σφαίρῃ ἀν᾽ ἰθὺν πειρήσαντο signs off from the ball act, cf. e.g. αυταρ επει ποσιος και εδητυος εξ ερον εντο, before moving on to what they did next. The line encapsulates the action of the previous lines, and it would seem forced to me to isolate αν’ιθυν from σφαιρῃ, as if it was only the throwing-it-straight-up that was over and now they were going to do something else with it. No, there’s the acrobatic ball act, then a real dance act, ωρχεισθην δη επειτα.)
Garvie’s objection that ταρφέ᾽ ἀμειβομένω is then “disappointingly vague” surely has no force at all; it’s no less so on his interpretation. Just as you have amoebaic song, so here you have amoebaic dance, the two switching their positions, or their moves, thick and fast. They’re dancers.

Dance underresearched? Probably. Webster did his best with choral dance moves in Athenian drama. Song and dance—song gets all the attention (hey, it’s words). Hom.Enc. entry more than a little disappointing, a lost opportunity. The various musical articles by Franklin on the other hand are fresh and outstanding.
Along with too many others these days—but not you, Paul!—I can never muster much interest in res technicae, ships, distaffs, etc.—19th-century stuff, just look it up. Dance a gap for you to fill?
mwh
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 2759
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Phaeacian dance

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:54 pm

@jeidsath
Though it's different, it's interesting, thanks. Somehow that reminded me that while throwing a ball to a rhythm is foreign to the adult world I live in, it's not dissimilar from what girls did when I was at school. They had all sorts of games, involving e.g. rope jumping or taking turns in bouncing a ball against the wall while reciting rhymes. So perhaps Nausicaa's performance was something very similar to that (and I believe it's unlikely we should imagine her to be a single day over 15 years old). And do we have to imagine that all these rhythmical performances, "dances", were always accompanied by music; wouldn't just beating the rhythm or reciting poetry do the trick?

@mwh
You've convinced me about them not passing the ball any more. The comparison to αυταρ επει ποσιος και εδητυος εξ ερον εντο, for one, is apt. I had another thought earlier on but which I forgot to write in the post: Could ἀμειβομένω mean that they sort of take turns in dancing, the same way as the Muses take turns in singing? One performs a few virtuoso dance moves and the other after him tries outdo them, ταρφέ᾽ bringing in the nuance that they're very eager and very quick to take up the challenge given by the other. I don't necessarily mean that the other stops dancing completely in the mean time, but that they take turns in making the fancier moves. (But perhaps this is what you already meant with amoebaic dance)
User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1928
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm


Return to Homeric Greek and Early Greek Poetry