Iliad 1.395-407

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strnbrg
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Iliad 1.395-407

Post by strnbrg » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:46 pm

Could someone explain the background to what's going on here? I've read it in Greek, I've read it in English: I understand the words fine but I'm still confused about the backstory. Pharr, like Achilles, seems to just assume we already know!

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Paul Derouda
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Re: Iliad 1.395-407

Post by Paul Derouda » Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:19 pm

πολλάκι γάρ σεο πατρὸς ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ἄκουσα
εὐχομένης ὅτ᾽ ἔφησθα κελαινεφέϊ Κρονίωνι
οἴη ἐν ἀθανάτοισιν ἀεικέα λοιγὸν ἀμῦναι,
ὁππότε μιν ξυνδῆσαι Ὀλύμπιοι ἤθελον ἄλλοι
400Ἥρη τ᾽ ἠδὲ Ποσειδάων καὶ Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη:
ἀλλὰ σὺ τόν γ᾽ ἐλθοῦσα θεὰ ὑπελύσαο δεσμῶν,
ὦχ᾽ ἑκατόγχειρον καλέσασ᾽ ἐς μακρὸν Ὄλυμπον,
ὃν Βριάρεων καλέουσι θεοί, ἄνδρες δέ τε πάντες
Αἰγαίων᾽, ὃ γὰρ αὖτε βίην οὗ πατρὸς ἀμείνων:
405ὅς ῥα παρὰ Κρονίωνι καθέζετο κύδεϊ γαίων:
τὸν καὶ ὑπέδεισαν μάκαρες θεοὶ οὐδ᾽ ἔτ᾽ ἔδησαν.
τῶν νῦν μιν μνήσασα παρέζεο καὶ λαβὲ γούνων

I suspect Homer made it up here, I don't think the background story had any existence before it got here. The story requires that Zeus should owe one to Thetis, so Thetis can get what she (and Achilles) wants.

Supposedly Hera, Poseidon and, strangest of all, Athena wanted have Zeus in bonds. (Why would Athena want to do that, Zeus' favorite?) Thetis decided to rescue him by bringing the hundred-handed giant Briareon/Aigaion, who frightened the other gods to abandon their plan.

A Briareos can also be found in Hesiod, but I don't think the story there is similar to this one. He's stronger than his father, but who is that father? It might be Poseidon, who has a habit of fathering monsters (e.g. the Cyclops in the Odyssey).

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Re: Iliad 1.395-407

Post by seneca2008 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:32 pm

Here is what Kirk says:

396 - 406 Zenodotus athetized these verses according to Aristarchus (Arn/A); one can see why, since the tale of Thetis' past interventions is a peculiar one (as will emerge in the comments which follow), and might conceivably have been a subsequent elaboration stimulated by ἠὲ καὶ ἔργῳ in 395 - in which case 408 might follow on from 395 more naturally than 407 does. But the probability is, in the absence of other evidence, that the digression is Homeric.

399 There is no other reference either in Homer or in later poets to this particular act of lèse-majesté which has one or two points in common with the tale of Ares being tied up in a jar for thirteen months (although by mortals) at 5.385-91. Disobedience by Here and other deities is alluded to several times by Zeus, but in order to show that he always comes out easily on top, which did not happen here; so later in this Book at 565-7, where he encourages Here to obey him with the threat that the other Olympians will be unable to save her from his physical violence if she refuses. Then at 15.18-24 he reminds her how he had once suspended her in the air with anvils tied to her feet, and the other gods could not release her but were flung to the earth below if they tried - as Hephaistos was (as he tells her at 1.587-94) when he once tried to save her from a beating by Zeus and was hurled off Olumpos, to land in Lemnos, for his pains; or like Ἄτη at
19.130f. Zeus's confidence is shown by his threatening speech to the assembled Olympians at 8.5-27: he will hurl anyone who disobeys him into Tartaros, and challenges the lot of them to a divine tug-of-war in which he claims that he could pull them up, with earth and sea as well, and hang them in mid-air from Olumpos. It was a main theme of Hesiod's Theogony that Zeus had had to overcome serious rebellions, especially from the Titans and then Tuphoeus, in his rise to supremacy. There, too, Briareos the hundred-handed giant (joined in Hesiod with his brothers Kottos and Guges) enables him to overcome an act of revolt, although not by other Olympians but by the Titans (see M. L. West on Hesiod, Theog. 149 and 617-719). Homer, naturally, concentrates on Zeus's eventual supremacy rather than on the details of his early struggles; even so Thetis' reminiscence is unusual, and there is no hint in Zeus's confident remarks elsewhere that the gods had ever presented a real threat to him, as the present passage suggests.

400 Poseidon, Here and Athene are the divine supporters of the Achaeans in the Iliad, and their being cast as protagonists in the attack on Zeus is another sign that the whole episode (which caused much agitated discussion among the exegetes, cf. bT on 399-406) has been adapted to a specifically Iliadic context.

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Re: Iliad 1.395-407

Post by seneca2008 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:03 pm

A Briareos can also be found in Hesiod, but I don't think the story there is similar to this one. He's stronger than his father, but who is that father? It might be Poseidon, who has a habit of fathering monsters (e.g. the Cyclops in the Odyssey).
Again Kirk is helpful on this:

These other instances cannot, therefore, be expected to shed light on Briareos/Aigaion here, which has in any case a special characteristic: that this giant existed before men were created, and his name was therefore assigned by primeval gods. Men would come to hear of him later, when they might have given him their own special name to describe his developed sphere or function. Both names, in fact, are probably Greek, (Βρι- implying 'strong' as in ὄβριμος and αἰγ- being probably connected with 'goat*. The rest of 404 looks at first as though it offers an explanation of the name Aigaion - '(he is called that) because he is stronger than his father'; but even if Αἰγαίων is a patronymic (as e.g. Lattimore and Willcock suggest, comparing Κρονίων as a patronymic form from Κρόνος), and if Αἰγαῖος was an epithet of Poseidon as is sometimes held, the form Αἰγαίων still does not contain the required implication of comparison or superiority. If that is the case, then ὃ γὰρ αὖτε βίῃ οὗ πατρὸς ἀμείνων refers to the whole context:
' (you secured Zeus's release by calling on Briareos/Aigaion) because he was stronger than his father', who in that case must be envisaged as Poseidon, the strongest of the three rebel deities. But this is rather uncertain; Leaf's statement that 'the father of Briareos was, according to the legend, Poseidon' is not entirely true, since he was son of Ouranos and Gaia according to Hesiod, Theog. 147-9. The Theogony added at 816-18 that Poseidon eventually gave Briareos his daughter Kumopoleia (a sea-nymph, to judge by her name) in marriage; could πατρός be used to denote the father-in-law? The short answer is No, and difficulties remain. Zenodotus according to Aristarchus (Am/A) attempted to meet them by substituting a different (defective) couplet in place of 404:
Αἰγαίων᾽, ὃ γὰρ αὖτε βίῃ πολύ ἀμείνων φέρτατος ἅλλων
ὀππόσοι ναίουσ᾽ὑπό τάρταρον εὐρώεντα

in which ἅλλων is Duntzer's emendation of corrupt MS ἀπάντων. Aristarchus objected that Aigaion was not a Titan but a sea-creature - erroneously in that Briareos was confined beneath the earth (just as the Titans were) at Theog. 617-20, but rightly, perhaps, in emphasizing a probable connexion between Aigaion and the Aegean sea, and therefore Poseidon.

Much remains obscure, and the expression at this point is a little awkward - although rendered the more so by the punctuation in e.g. OCT ; the parenthesis, if any, is ὃν....Αἰγαίων᾽ rather than ὃ γὰρ...ἀμείνων. Yet the awkwardness can be paralleled in other abbreviated references to legendary occurrences outside the normal Homeric ambit, for example in Glaukos' genealogy at 6.145-211 or the Meleagros tale at 9.527-99.

I am sorry for simply posting what Kirk says but it is difficult to paraphrase without changing the argument.

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Re: Iliad 1.395-407

Post by Hylander » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:48 pm

The Alexandrians, writing hundreds of years after the original composition of the Homeric poems, in a very different social context, are not to be trusted, especially when they athetize complete passages. For a century and a half, scholars have argued over what evidence they based their interventions on, and the West/Nagy exchanges show that no satisfactory resolution has been reached. However, it seems clear that they felt free to arbitrarily excise whole passages that didn't conform to their conceptions of the dignity of the gods, especially Zeus, and this passage fits the mould.

Since we don't know much about how, when, where and by whom the Iliad was composed, my suggestion would be to simply accept the passage in all its strangeness and move on. There are many passages like this in the Iliad, and, despite the strenuous efforts of generations of scholars, their origin and meaning often lies beyond explanation. They're part of the fabric of the Iliad, and there's no reason why these glimpses into an alien mindset can't be appreciated and enjoyed without knowing exactly what they signify. In fact, for me, that's part of the pleasure of reading the Iliad: the essential humanity of the poem--which can reach us and move us two and a half millenia later--in an exotic and alien Bronze-Age context.

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Re: Iliad 1.395-407

Post by seneca2008 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:23 pm

Since we don't know much about how, when, where and by whom the Iliad was composed, my suggestion would be to simply accept the passage in all its strangeness and move on.
I agree with this and that is really the conclusion that Kirk offers. However it is necessary to go through the arguments before you can reach that conclusion. The Alexandrines are of course not an infallible guide but they too worked within a tradition which tells us important things about the reception of Homer in antiquity. We should also be grateful that they had the foresight merely to athetize and not to delete so that we are in a position to disagree with them. I am always reassured when I read that readers in antiquity were puzzled by passages in Homer.

I think the important part of scholarship is about discussing ideas rather than reaching conclusions.

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Re: Iliad 1.395-407

Post by Paul Derouda » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:15 pm

Thanks for quoting Kirk, which I confess I was too lazy to look up. The ultimate source of my reply is of course this and other commentaries.

Here's what M.L. West in his Making of the Iliad says about this, among other things:
"The passage may be an expansion by P. Zen. athetized 396-406, presumably on the grounds of ἀπρέπεια. On the myth, which must have some tradition behind it, cf. EFH 352. Thetis' part in it, however, will be invented ad hoc [...].

"P" refers to the author of the Iliad, whom West prefers not to call Homer, and by expansion he means that the original writer of the Iliad might have expanded his own text later by adding the passage. EFH means West's East Face of the Helicon.

West's Making of the Iliad is an absolute must for anyone who wants to get intimate with the Homeric Question. Despite Hylander's reserves, I think what West argues there is by far the most likely scenario of how the epic came about. If you search earlier discussions on the Homeric forum, you'll notice that we've been at this before...

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Re: Iliad 1.395-407

Post by Hylander » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:44 pm

"we've been at this before..." and I won't take up the cudgel again, except to suggest that in order to assess West's views in The Making of the Iliad you would do well to read everything that his many critics (not just Nagy) have written in response, which I confess I haven't done.

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Re: Iliad 1.395-407

Post by Paul Derouda » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:55 pm

Everything is a lot for someone with a full-time job, and even for someone who doesn't... Do you have a particular work in mind? Though if you just mean the reviews, I suppose I've read most or all of them (here's the weakest of them). I'd certainly like to read a more balanced critique of West's ideas, but I haven't run into any that gives me substantial doubts. I have of course read what scholars like Janko, Finkelberg, Jensen, Nagy etc. have written around all this (not everything of course, least of all from Nagy), but all of that dates from before The Making of the Iliad. It's difficult to keep track of them, if they're buried in scholarly journals or in monographs on other subjects, so if you're aware of something, please tell me!

As far as West's Making of the Iliad is concerned, I don't mean so much that I necessarily believe it to be correct in every detail, especially not as to the exact order in which P supposedly wrote the Iliad, but the general idea of how the textualisation took place.

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