The Invention of Homer Author(s): M. L. West Source: The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 49, No. 2 (1999), pp. 364-382 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Cla ssical Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/639863 Accessed: 30/03/2010 15:36 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp.. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=cup.. http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=cup Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]
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I shall argue for two complementary theses: firstly that 'Homer' was not the name of a historical poet, but a fictitious or constructed name, and secondly that for a century or more after the composition of the Iliad and Odyssey there was little interest in the identity or the person of their author or authors. This interest only arose in the last decades of the sixth century; but once it did, 'Homer' very quickly became an object of admiration, criticism, and biographical construction. Most scholars nowadays consider that the Iliad and the Odyssey are the work of different authors. authors. This is what is indicated by the many differences of narrative narrativemanmanner, theology, ethics, vocabulary, and geographical perspective, and by the apparently imitative character of certain passages of the Odyssey in relation to the Iliad.' But if there are two major authors, we cannot claim to know the names of both of them, and at least one of the epics has to be regarded as anonymous. Yet people continue to use the name 'Homer' (preferably for the poet of the Iliad, the greater of the two epics) and to assume that there was a real person of that name who very likely had something to do with the creation of the poem. Let me begin by questioning the basis for that assumption. HOW OLD IS THE TRADITION ABOUT HOMER? Why do we believe that there was a poet called Homer? The answer is evident: we believe it because there is a long-standing and unanimous tradition from antiquity to that effect. But in assessing the value of a tradition, the important thing is not how long it has lasted, or whether anyone has questioned it hitherto, but when and how it started. Is the existence of the tradition explicable only on the hypothesis that what it alleges is historically true, or could there have been other circumstances that might have rise to it? given Most scholars would agree that the Iliad and Odysseywere both composed not later than the seventh century. The Iliad, at least, seems from the evidence of art and literature to have been in circulation by about 630. However, we cannot tell whether the two poems were associated with one another at that time, or whether either of them was current under the name of Homer. There is only one (probable) seventhcentury reference to 'Homer', and there he is associated not with the Iliad or Odyssey but with a lost epic, the Thebaid. Thebaid.II shall come back to that later. How far back, then, can we trace the belief that Homer was the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey? It must have been established by about 520, when Hipparchus instituted regular recitations of these two epics (and only these two) as a feature of the Great Panathenaea at Athens. But that is as far back as we can trace it. So from the time of the poems' composition there is a gap of a century, or a century and a half, during which we have no evidence at all as to who, if anyone, was regarded as their author. 'It is not thepurpose f the presentpaper whichare arenot notessential essential o paper o establishhesepoints,which
my argument, and this is not the place for a bibliography of separatist and unitarian statements. Those who cling to the belief that one man was responsible for both poems seem to me to be hindered from a just assessment of the contrary evidence by a romantic attachment to the traditional
traditional idea of the one supreme supremepoet. poet.
THE INVENTION OF HOMER
One may want to say, 'Well, but these are such impressive creations that their author's name or names must have been been celebrated from the beginning, and could not possibly have been forgotten or displaced by a false name.' This cannot be taken for granted. We are used to the idea that every book bears an author's name, which is one of theitmostinimportant things about it when one wants to order it from a bookshop or look up a catalogue. Anonymous books are a rare exception to the general rule. But in most ancient literatures,at least in their earlier stages, anonymity is either the rule or at any rate commonplace. We have no idea who wrote most of the books of the have no authors' names for most of the Old Testament, apart from the Prophets. We have Babylonian epics, or for the works of Ugaritic or Hittite literature, or for the Mahabharata, or for Beowulf, or the Nibelungenlied,or the poems of the Elder Edda. As for Archaic Greece, of course we do know the names of many poets, sometimes because they mentioned their own names in their poems, as do Hesiod, Alcman, Sappho, Alcaeus, Theognis, and Solon. Theognis claims that his name was famous, and that people would recognize his verses as those of Theognis even if someone else were to recite them as his own. But epic poems are a special case because of their traditional nature. They were the work of men known as dot8oi, singers, a term that refers to performance,not creation. The singers portrayed in the Homeric epics are not represented as creating poems but as reproducing songs that they know about the deeds of men and gods, memory of which has been preservedthrough the ages by the Muses. Lyric and elegiac poets speak of poetic creation, using the terms EVpLUKEWV, 7TOLEtV, Uoot'EgOat,
tLcwO0at.2 But the epic do3os& is not said to do any of these things,
he just sings.3Evidently there was not, to begin with, the same concept of an author in the case of epic poems as in lyric and elegy.4 This is reflected in the titles of certain epics, such as the Cypria, the Phocais, the Naupactia, and indeed the Iliad and Little Iliad, which suggest poems identified by their currency in a particular region, not clearly attached to particular poets: the Cypria (r& KvJrpta E'rr-q)was the poem that came from Cyprus, the Phocais was the poem from Phocaea, the Naupactia (r& Nav7raK-rta Err7) the one that came from Naupactus, and the Iliad and the Little Iliad, I take it, were ones current at Ilios.5 There were other epics in Greece named from their subject matter and preserved without any author's name, such as the Danais, the Phoronis, the Alcmaeonis, and the Titanomachy.There are others again for which two or three alternative authors are named. For example, some said that the Cypria was by Stasinus of Cyprus, others ascribed it to Hegesias of (Cyprian) Salamis, others again ascribed it to Homer. For the Little Iliad no less than five different authors are named. Such controversies indicate 'that the epics as a rule were transmitted without an author's name, from
Alcm.PMGF39;Sol. 20.3; Stes.PMGF212. PMGF212. 20.3;Thgn. 19;771; Stes. Thgn.19; Phemius' ong about the 'AxatCLv ouros is called 'new' (Od. 1.352), with regard to the fact
that its subject matter was very recent, but there is no suggestion that he personally composed it or that it belonged to him more than to other poets. 4 Cf. M. Durante, Sulla preistoriadella tradizionepoetica greca, vol. 2 (Rome, 1976), 185-7. He
notes that in the South Slavic epic tradition no guslar's name is remembered from the centuries before Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic made his famous collections (from 1813 on). 5 Some Old Norse texts were similarly identified by their place of origin, like the Greenland Edda comes Lay of Atli and the Flateyjarbok Flat Island Book). According to one view, the name Eddacomes from the place-name Oddi in south-west Iceland, the home of Snorri Sturluson. For the Iliad poet's connection with Ilios, cf. W Schadewaldt, Iliasstudien (Leipzig, 1938), 125, n. 0; M. L. West, MH 52 (1995), 217, n. 43.
M. L. WEST
naive interest in their contents: it was the scholars who looked for the "poet", only to resign themselves to uncertainty'.6 In these circumstances we cannot assume that if only one author is named the attribution is reliable, reliable,or or that if the Iliad and Odyssey Odysseywere were ascribed to Homer from about 520 B.C.they had not been anonymous at an earlier period. Indeed, the ascription to Homer must be wrong for at least one of them, if we accept that they are the work of different poets. And we must bear in mind that these were not the only poems attributed to Homer: he was credited with several of the Cyclic epics too, with the whole corpus of the Hymns (which were obviously composed at various different times and places), and with the comic narrative poem Margites. For most of these poems no alternative author was ever identified. So the 'consensus of antiquity' that he was the author of the Iliad and Odysseycannot carry carryvery very much weight. If the title Iliad means 'the poem current at Ilios', the inference is that it had originally been anonymous. THE NAME HOMER; THE HOMERIDAI 'Very well,' the reader may respond, 'but what have you got to set against the consensus of antiquity? Why shouldn't we believe that a poet called Homer existed, whatever exactly he did?' One reason is that "Otr.pos is not a regular Greek name, and hard to account for as such. No other person so named is known from before Hellenistic times. The following are attested from the third century B.C.: 1.
An Aetolian Otxapos (Fouilles de Delphes iii.184.2, 190.1; SIG3 498.2). This is probably to be connected with the Zevs6 OLaptos worshipped by the Achaean confederacy (cf. below, p. 375).7
2. 3. 4.
A Cretan Otuapos Otuapos(Inscr. (Inscr. Cret. 1.108 no. 1.3, from Lato). An Athenian Ot-U7[Ath. Mitt. 85 , 213; SEG 32.207.18). The tragedian Homeros of Byzantium (TrGF 98), whose parents were a philologist and a poetess, and who was no doubt named after the famous poet.
In the mid second century there is a "OtI-pos (NB not -apos) at Larisa (GDI2138), and a century later there is another, presumably of the same family (SIG3 1059 I 3, II 29). The Ionic vocalization points to an association with the poet. Under the empire the name became more frequent, in particular for freedmen;a M. Anniolenus Homerus is known from Apulia, a M. Servilius Homerus from Lucania, an Avp7XAtos"OrOposrom Melos. Ten "OQL-qpot re attested from Attica between the
first and third centuries A.D. There was also a poet and grammarian Sellios o Kat 'O[Lr,pos, vidently a literary literarynickname.8 nickname.8 is Homer's name to be understood? To the ancients it suggested the How, then, meaning 'hostage' (from Jo'7pa, normally a neuter plural), and there were various stories explaining how he came to be so called after being given as a hostage by some 6
W Burkert,MH29 (1972),75.
Durante (n. 4), 189. He refers also to the Euboean Hoteplos (IG 12.56.135;lead tablet from Styra, fifth century), 'che peraltro e omonimo di Zevs 'Oiaposr, e quindi ha ragione teoforica.' The Aetolian O iapos 'pu6 ben essere una Rtickbildung el nome precedente, essereuna precedente,qual qual e ad a esempio 7avaiTwAos rispetto 17avatrdAtos (cosi Bechtel, Pers[onennamen], p. 525, 532).' 8 A. K6rte, RE iiA, 1321-2. 7
THE INVENTION OF HOMER
town or other. But it is incredible that anyone would be given the name Hostage for this or any other reason, and in any case the masculine formation is linguistically suspect.9 Ephorus, the historian from Cyme, who wanted Homer to be a Cymaean, claimed that J's-qpos was a Cymaean word for 'blind', and that Homer was named for that reason.10But reason.10But there is no supporting evidence for the existence of such a word; and again, while 'Blind' may serve as a cognomen, as with Appius Claudius Caecus (ne self-sufficient name. Crassus) or JAivoos o TrvkAos,o one is given it as a self-sufficientname. We have now to consider the ancient corporation of rhapsodes who called themselves the Homeridai, generally understood to mean 'the descendants of Homer'. They are first mentioned in surviving literature by Pindar in the Second Nemean. He describes them as the 'singers of stitched verses', pa7rrcwv 7TrrE'v adoloi, which is clearly a paraphrase of paaot83oi. He refers to their often beginning their recitations with a hymn to Zeus, as we know rhapsodes used the extant Homeric Hymns to introduce their recitations from epic. Plato in the Phaedrusquotes two otherwise unknown verses about Eros and says that some of the Homeridai recite them from the rro60era 'r7Tr,evidently poems not generally current which these Homeridai have in their possession and are able to produce from under the counter, asserting that they are by Homer. In another dialogue Plato portrays the Ephesian rhapsode Ion as claiming to be a fine expounder of Homer's meaning, so fine that he reckons he deserves to be decorated by the Homeridai with a golden crown. In the RepublicPlato alludes to the Homeridai as people who proclaim Homer's achievements and spread his fame. Isocrates too refers to their telling stories about the poet's life; some of the Homeridai, he says, relate that Helen appeared to Homer in a dream and instructed him to compose an epic about the TrojanWar."1 So in the fifth and early fourth centuries the Homeridai appear as a kind of guild of rhapsodes who recited Homer's poetry, including some poems which were not widely his fame; and known; who told stories about his life, and were concerned to spread who were corporately wealthy and prestigious enough to confer gold coronets on others who they thought had served the poet well. It looks as if people's ideas about what Homer had been and what he had done were very much determined by what the Homeridai chose to tell them. Who were these Homeridai, and where did they come from? The most valuable information about them comes from ancient commentators on two of the texts just
cited. One is Harpocration, who, in explanation of Isocrates' mention of the Homeridai, says that they were a family or clan in Chios. He refers to two fifth-century historians, Acusilaus of Argos and Hellanicus of Lesbos, the second of whom stated that the Homeridai were named after the poet. Harpocration also cites Seleucus as having contradicted the view of one Crates ev ra;s 'IEpo7rotsats, that the Homeridai were Homer's descendants. According to Seleucus, they really got their name from o'4tqpa 'hostages', because once upon a time, at the Dionysus festival on Chios, the women had gone mad and fought against the men; they had then made a truce, giving each other hostages in the form of young men and women. These hostages got married, and their descendants were called Homeridai.12 9 Durante (n. 4), 190-1. "0Ephorus, FGrHist 70 F 1. Lycophron'suse of O6'ji,posfor 'blind' (422) is of course inspired
" Pind. Nem. 2.1-2; PI. Phaedr.252b; Ion 530d; 599e; Isoc. Helen 65. Rep.599e; Rep. ' 12 Harpocr. s.v. O -piSat; Acusilaus, FGrHist 2 F 2; Hellan. 4 F 20; the Crates in question is
M. L. WEST
The other important source is the well-known scholion on the Pindar passage, explaining Pindar's Pindar'sreference referenceto the Homeridai. It reads as follows: 'OuL7pLoas avaTOv K avdyoVTES.
rTOVS'a7ro TOV 'Ot rTOVS'a7ro Ot KatC 7rj TTOloaT LxEv dpXacov pov yEvovs, OVKETL TO yEVOS EIS OLpOV OVKETLTO OLaSoXjs 1LOOV' LETd oSE TraOTa KalL OL p/aUoJ,ol, OL 7TEpL Kvvatiov, oSE eyeVOVwTO 7roAAa TWcV E7r)v ov's qaci ETrrTavelS
v elS elSLnv Lnv
'0Arjpov 7roLf7TaFdrv rpWCTOS
TroLaUtLV.rv O KfvatOos 7Oyevos Xlos, os KaI ToVv TOV Els AiTrodAwva yeypa(cL)s avaTeOELKev vlvov
US? I7roarTpar6TO'g iraLv.
who also sanghis 'Homeridai'was the namegiven givenanciently anciently o the members f Homer's amily,who who no longertraced heir But later t was also given to the rhapsodes,who poetry n succession.But to Homer.Particularly rominentwere wereCynaethus nd his school,who, they say, backto descentback descent of the versesand verses and inserted hem nto Homer'swork.This work.ThisCynaethus ame rom many composedmany composed a Chianfamily,and, of the poemsthatbearHomer'sname, t was he who wrotethe wrotethe Hymn o Apolloand Apollo and laid it to his credit. credit.And And this Cynaethuswas the first firstto to reciteHomer's reciteHomer'spoems poemsat at Syracuse, in the 69th Olympiad (= 504/1 B.c.), as Hippostratus says.
(FGrHist 568 F 5)
The Hippostratus cited as a source (at least for the last statement) was a Hellenistic historian who specialized in Sicilian history. The rather precise date which he gave for Cynaethus' Homeric recitation at Syracuse, if it has any value, might conceivably have been derived from an inscription listing the victors in a competition for rhapsodes, in which Cynaethus appeared as the first entry.13 t would be a plausible date for the beginning of such a record; a few years earlier the Athenians had begun to keep records of the victors in the competitions for tragedy and dithyramb at the Great Dionysia, and the Gamoroi of Syracuse might have copied the practice from Athens. Against this hypothesis stands the objection of Jacoby that if any such victor lists had existed we ought to have more firm dates for Sicilian poets.14 poets.14Alternatively, Alternatively,Cynaethus' Cynaethus' performance may have been associated with some other event that yielded a synchronism with the tyranny of Cleander at Gela, which began in 505. The histories of Gela and Syracuse were soon to be entwined, and there is actually a possible piece of
evidence for Cynaethus' presence at Gela: a sixth-century statue base has been found there with the inscription
>]vvaLOo fLt TO a[yaA]xua ro E7roXo, 'I am the s[tat]ue of
[C]ynaethus the son of Epochos'. We cannot be sure that it is the same man, but Cynaethus is a rare name.15 The statement that Cynaethus wrote the Hymn to Apollo and passed it off as Homer's is extraordinarily extraordinarilyinteresting, interesting, and opens the way to further conclusions. The identified by Jacoby (FGrHist 362 F 5) as the Athenian writer on rituals. Besides Jacoby's commentaries ad locc. see his important additional note in vol. IIIb (Noten), 407-10. The Seleucus fragment(76 fragment (76 Muller) is overlooked by M. P. Nilsson in his brief treatmentof the Chian Dionysia, Griechische GriechischeFeste vonreligioser religioserBedeutung Bedeutung Leipzig, 1906), 306. 13 G. W. Feste von Nitzsch, De istoria Homeri, vol. 1 (Hanover, 1830), 130; id., Die Sagenpoesie der Griechen Braunschweig, 1852), 317; A. Kirchhoff, SPA SPAW Gesch.d. d. gr. Lit. W 1893.904;W. Schmid, Gesch. 1.1 (with 0. Stahlin, Munich, 1929), 158; W. W.Burkert Burkert n G. W. Bowersock et al. (edd.), Arktouros. Hellenic Studies presented W Knox (Berlin-New York, 1979), 55. The conversion to BernardM. presentedto into an Olympiadic dating would be due to Hippostratus himself after the example of Timaeus; cf. Jacoby (n. 12), 595. A dating by Olympiads also appears in F 4. '4 Jacoby (n. 12), 596. 15 P. Orlandini, Kokalos 3 (1957), 94-6, fig. 22/3; M. Guarducci, Annuario 1959/60), 397; Bull. Burkert(n. homerischeOdyssee (1962), no. 397; Burkert (n. 13), 54-5. A. Fick, Die homerische epigr.(1962), epigr. Odyssee (Gottingen, 1883), o Cynaethus in Pliny, 280, sought to find another reference tto N.H. 4. 66, hanc (Delum) Aristoteles Pliny,N.H. ita appellatam prodidit quoniamrepentepparuerit enata; Aglaosthenes Cynthiam,alii appellatamprodidit Cynthiam,alii Ortygiam, Asteriam, Lagiam, Chlamydiamn, ynethum ynethumPyrpylen Pyrpylen (CynaethusPyrpolen (Cynaethus Pyrpolen Fick) igne ibi primum reperto.
THE INVENTION OF HOMER
Hymn to Apollo as we have it is clearly a composite text, consisting of two separate hymns that have been roughly cobbled together. The first is a hymn to Apollo of Delos, telling the story of his birth on that island and concluding with an evocative picture of the festival there at which people gather from all over Ionia to honour him. The poet says his farewells to Apollo, Artemis, and the chorus-girls of Delos. Then we suddenly find ourselves in a second and longer hymn to Apollo of Delphi, in which it It has a different is related how he first came there and established the Pythian oracle. It geographical perspective from the Delian portion and a measurably different style. The Pythian hymn seems to date from the early part of the sixth century, and the Delian hymn from the latter part; I have argued elsewhere that the Delian hymn was it.16As As composed with knowledge of the Pythian and was to some extent modelled on it.16 for the conflation of the two into one text, Walter Burkert and Richard Janko have independently connected it with the occasion, probably in 523, when Polycrates, Polycrates,the the on Delos that was called both and a festival celebrated of Samos, Pythian tyrant That would have been a uniquely suitable moment for the combination of Delian.17That Delian.17 the Delian hymn, which must have been quite a recent poem, with the older Pythian one, and the hypothesis that the combination was made on that occasion has been widely accepted. What are we to make of the allegation that Cynaethus of Chios wrote 'the Hymn to Apollo'? The Delian hymn refers explicitly to a poet from Chios in the famous lines from near the end (166-75), addressed to the Maidens of Delos whose singing had been one of the major events at the festival: 3'
XaLPETE IvrYaaor', evOda'
VJE?LSrT7acat' ELEEo SE VJE?LSrT7acat'
O7rTTOT6 KEV TtLS
dv?Eprp)TL ' "c KoupaL, TtSr O
ErtxovLWov dvOpOrTWv ELrVO9aAaTrepLtos ELrVO9 aAaTrepLtos EA\6dv
av 7p )&taTOS doIrdov evOdSaEcowAEiat, ad TE'OLtTre'p7 eE tidaAtLTa;"
dc evS d/aAa rioat v7TroKptvaaoat jor7)s'
XLOWLEVt EVt TratraAoEcrUrtq T"rvAos dvcqp, OLKE?SE XLOWL Tov TraLat iLerTOrtaOev doial." dpIorevovatv
/LES?83'V/erTEpOVKAEoOt'Olfev, o'aaovETr' lav roAtlelv roAtl elv vaterasw'ag. advOpWTrtvaTpe?o6J?aEOca
remember me in future, Farewell, all of you, and rememberme whenever some long-suffering stranger comes here and asks, 'O Maidens, which is your favourite singer who visits here? Who do you enjoy most?' Then must all answer with one you 'It's a blind man, who lives in rockyvoice(?): Chios; all of his songs remain supreme afterwards.' And we will take your fame wherever we go as we roam to the well-ordered cities of men. 16
M. L. West, CQ 25 (1975), 161-70. On p. 168 I suggested that the Delian hymn might be dated between 570 and 547. However, Burkert(n. 13), 62, has a better argument for a later date: the hymn presupposes that Apollo has a temple on Delos (52, 56, 80), which he does not seem to have done until about 540/30. 17 Burkert(n. 13), 59-60; R. Janko, Homer,Hesiod, Hesiod, and the Hymns (Cambridge, 1982), 112-13. Janko,Homer, Burkert dates the event to (spring) 522, arguing that Polycrates' death followed LET' o0Ayov xpovov (Phot. s.v. Iuv0ta Kat JziAta; cf. Zen. Ath. 1.62), and that that was 'late in 522'. But this is incorrect. The account of Polycrates'death in Hdt. 3.122-5, which is no doubt based on Samian tradition, presupposes that Cambyses was still the King of Persia (122.3, 126.1).
M. L. WEST 370 But who is this blind singer? Is it the sixth-century poet (Cynaethus or whoever) speaking of himself? Thucydides, who quotes the passage (3.104.5-6), assumes it to be Homer, and draws attention to the fact that this is a place where Homer of his songs remain supreme afterwards' (that is, presumably, mentioned himself. 'All 'Allof after he has once sung them): this is a reference to songs that are learned and perpetuated by other singers and acknowledged as the best in the repertory. It certainly looks much more appropriate to Homer than to a new poet, and it must have been generally understood in antiquity to refer to Homer's songs. It would have been strange for Cynaethus to claim that his own songs were supremely famous throughout Greece, when he was remembered only as one who concealed his identity under that of Homer. The picture of the singer who roamed from city to city also
suits Homer: this is just how he was imagined by classical writers and in the later Lives, which must be based on the stories told about the poet's life by the Homeridai. But how could the new poet, addressing his Delian audience in the late sixth century, speak as if he were Homer, the famous singer of the past? Evidently he claimed to be reciting verbatim a hymn composed by Homer many generations earlier and addressed to an earlier Delian audience. This might not have been very much out a rhapsode recited whenevera recitedHesiod's of the ordinary by that time. After all, whenever Hesiod's Theogony or Works and Days, the audience must have understood and accepted that the
referencesto 'I' and 'me' meant the original author, Hesiod, and not the rhapsode who was uttering the words. In the same way, we may suppose, the poet of the Delian hymn to Apollo might claim to be singing Homer's hymn, and ask his audience to as being to Homer, not to himself. referencesas understand the first-person references to what is in the Pindaric This about allegedto ApolloCynaethus he composed the Hymn and got it accepted as the scholion,corresponds namely thatclosely work of Homer. The emphasis on Homer's being a Chiot is not surprisingif the Chian Cynaethus was the poet. But is the ascription to Cynaethus trustworthy?It was evidently clear to some in antiquity that the attribution to Homer was false, but what basis did they have for identifying the author with the Cynaethus recorded as having recited at Syracuse in the late sixth century? Some scholars have thought that there was no basis and that it was merely a conjecture.18Burkertwrites, orancient ritics o ask for,and in such a case, t wascustomary orancient of the forger, sucha andto to supply, name nameof 'real'author 'real'author the 'real' author . . the search search or the 'real' of the 'spurious'hymn authorof hymn o Apollo would Homerids .... Just because he discoveryat Gela gives some inevitably ead to disreputableHomerids n Sicily,hisconnection areern hisconnectionwith withthe the hymn o Apollo backgroundo Kynaithos' areer Apollodisappears disappearsn the turmoils turmoilsof of ancient iterary iteraryeuds. euds. But what made Cynaethus a 'disreputable' Homerid? If he was known for other frauds, as the Pindaric scholion suggests, is it not all the more likely that he, as a prominent Chian poet-rhapsode active in the late sixth century, was indeed implicated in the matter of the Apollo hymn? Since his date was known, whoever made that accusation must have believed that the composite hymn was a product of the late sixth century (if not the early fifth); and as that appears to be a correct dating, we may suspect that some memory remained of the circumstances in which the hymn had been presented to the assembled lonians. Even if its ascription to Cynaethus was in the springor summer f 522. It remainsheoretically ossible hatPolycrates iedin Cambyses ied couldhave could isDelian havecelebrated celebrated is Delian estival n thespringof 522and 522andstill stilldied beforeCambyses, ut diedbefore 523seemsmuch seemsmuch ikelier. o H. W Parke,CQ CQ40 (1946),105-8. 18 Kirchhoff n. 13); 13);Burkert Burkertn. n. 13),57-8. 13),57-8.
THE INVENTION INVENTION OF HOMER
based only on a guess, it would seem to have been a very shrewd guess. I am prepared to accept the ascription and go on using his name, not in easy certainty but in the confidence that he is an altogether more palpable reality than Homer. The conclusion that he was deliberately claiming Homer's authorship for his own hymn helps to account for a suspicious feature about the 'blind' poet who is supposed to be the author. Twenty lines before the referenceto the blind man of Chios, the poet has enthused about what a wonderful spectacle the Delian festival is (151-5): KaL dayrjptos E'iLeval aleL, qairL K' dOavarovs LOpooL eLev Os TOT' E7TaVTLIaeL', OTr' 'oveS rdavrwov av8pda
rTEpbaLTO e OvUIov XdptV, KaAAtLISOVOVsTE yvvatKaS
v7jad T7' ?KELiarj'
Anyone coming when the Ionians were all here would think they were the unaging immortals, as he saw the beauty of it all, delighting his heart at the sight of the men and the fair-girdled women, fair-girdledwomen, the swift ships, and all the people's belongings.
It would hardly have occurred to a blind man to comment on the festival in those terms (it was not a traditional motif), and yet the lines were surely inspired by the The inference is that Cynaethus himself was very festival at which they were recited. The not blind, and his audience could see that he was not. This confirms that they were words of another poet-Homer.'9 The belief being asked to accept the hymn as the words that Homer was blind did not arise from the subsequent ascription of the hymn to him: it was already the doctrine of the hymn's author. Again according to the Pindaric scholiast, Cynaethus was the chief among those later Homeridai who foisted much of their own work on Homer and who no longer claimed to be actually descended from Homer. But these were the earliest Homeridai about whom there was any definite information. There can be no question of the ancients' having had records of Homeridai from an earlier period when they all were of the true blood. So the statement that they had originally been a clan cannot have had any other basis than what the later Homeridai claimed. These Homeridai were a guild of poets who did not in fact belong to one family and could not pretend to. On the other hand, their title 'Homeridai' sounded as if it meant the descendants of Homer. So they told the story that the Homeridai had originally been one clan, but had subsequently admitted others who were not related. This is a most unlikely thing for a true clan to do. Why should a family so proud of their descent from Homer as to call themselves the Homeridai (only very special families were labelled by means of this suffix) have allowed others to assume the title and so rob it of its meaning? Detlev Fehling has pointed out that there is no analogy either for a genetic clan that maintained the profession of its ancestor or for one that turned into a supra-regional professional organization.20 There are other weaknesses in the claim to lineal descent from Homer. If it had been true, the family ought to have been able to name the poet's descendants in each severalhistorians historians offered a generation and provide details of the genealogy. But while several Cf. W.Burkert W. Burkert n Papers Paperson on the Amasis Painter Painterand and his World Malibu, 1987), 55. RhM 122 (1979), 197. Fehling argues bizarrely that the Homeridai did not exist at all, but were a fantasy developed from Pindar's poetic use of the word for rhapsodes. '9 20
M. L. WEST
list of Homer's ancestors, going back to Orpheus or Apollo, there is no trace of any genealogy of his descendants down to classical times.21Indeed, according to the principal Life of Homer, the pseudo-Herodotean one, the poet had two daughters but no son: a poor basis for a genetic line of Homeridai.22 The position we have reached is as follows. In the second half of the sixth century there existed a company of rhapsodes called Homeridai, of whom Cynaethus of Chios was a prominent member. They believed that they had their name from a great, blind poet of the past called Homer, though they could not collectively claim to be descended from him. celebrated him as the author of all the in their
They poems repertoire,and repertoire, and even passed off new poems on the public as his. They were concerned to magnify his fame, and they claimed to be able to relate episodes from his life. In 523 Polycrates celebrated a Delian and Pythian festival on Delos. For this occasion Cynaethus' recent hymn to Delian Apollo (supposedly Homer's hymn) was combined with the older hymn to Pythian Apollo which Cynaethus knew and had imitated in composing the Delian hymn. Cynaethus himself is the obvious person to have performed this editorial operation and presented the result at the festival. Polycrates died not long afterwards. At least one poet from his circle, Anacreon, subsequently found patronage at Athens with Hipparchus (who is said to have sent a ship to fetch him). Did Cynaethus too go to Athens? There is no direct evidence. But it was Hipparchus, apparently, who established at Athens the custom of reciting the entire Iliad and Odyssey at the Great Panathenaea, with teams of rhapsodes taking turnshave to work the poems over the four days of the festival. These two epics must beenthrough chosen as being the two pre-eminent works of Homer, and advertized accordingly.We can hardly doubt that those who took this step did so under the influence of the Homeridai and their claims.23A few years later Cynaethus turns up again at Syracuse, as the first who recited 'the poems of Homer' in that city.
'HOMER': A FICTITIOUS PERSON We began with what seemed to be a unanimous ancient tradition that Homer was the author of the Iliad and Odyssey. It now appears that that broad stream of tradition can be traced back to a single narrow source: the claims of a society of 'Homeridai' in the late sixth century. We have already found those claims implausible in part, inasmuch as the two epics do not seem (to most of us) to be the work of the same poet; and we have seen that at least some of these Homeridai were unscrupulous forgers, willing to attach Homer's name to poems that they knew were not his because they had composed them themselves. There is other evidence for literary forgery in the names of legendary poets of the past at just this period and in just these milieux. Pythagoras, who began his career in Samos, started (or was among the first to adopt) the practice of composing Polycrates'Samos, Polycrates' 21 The Thevarious various
Homerare areconvenientlyabulated y T. T.W. W.Allen, Homer. The genealogies f Homer and the Transmission A late genealogy of Terpander that Oxford, 1924), facing p. 32. Origins makes him Homer's great-great-grandson (Suda r 354 s.v. Tep7ravSpos = Terpander test. 24 relevanto o theHomeridai's the Homeridai'slaims laims o bedescended be descendedrom rom he poet. Gostoli) s not relevant 22 408-9, demolishinghe amateurishomancings f H. T. Wade-Geryn The Jacoby n. 12), 12),408-9, Poet of the Iliad (Cambridge, 1952).
It was wasno no doubt he Panathenaicanonization Panathenaicanonizationff these wopoems wo poems hat ed over ime o their hatwere were ruly 500sindalle allegedichte on Homer; beingregarded s theonly beingregarded onlyepics epics hat rulyby by Homer.Um500sind um 350 sind von Homer mwesentlichen m wesentlichen urnoch urnochIlias Iliasund undOdyssee' Wilamowitz,Homerische Odyssee'Wilamowitz, aftera a survey f the evidence). 353,after Berlin, 884],353, Untersuchungen 23
THE INVENTION OF HOMER
poems under the name of Orpheus.24The Xp-7oquoAoyos,he collector of oracles to old prophets such as Bakis or the Sibyl, is first heard of under Pisistratus attributedto attributed (who himself acquired the nickname Bakis).25A protege of Hipparchus, Onomahe was undertook the collection and edition of the oracles of
Musaeus; critus, caught forging them and left Athens in disgrace.26 What if Homer should be as fabulous a figure as Orpheus and Musaeus? We have not yet found any particular reason to doubt that this name which the Homeridai touted about was the name of a real epic poet of the past, except that it is an odd name for anybody. What we must do next is examine the relationship between the name Homer and the name Homeridai; for clearly there must be a relationship, and on the nature of this relationship will depend the existence of Homer. There are three logical possibilities: There was once a poet called Homer, and the Homeridai were named after him. There was no original Homer, the Homeridai were not named after a person, but, not knowing any better, they invented a Homer as their ancestor or founder. There was a Homer, but the Homeridai were not named after him, and came to think they were as a result of some confusion.
1. 2. 3.
The alternative is really too unlikely to be worth considering. It would mean that anthird organization which originally had nothing to do with the poet Homer developed into one which was totally devoted to him, because of the similarity of name; as if Lincoln College should develop into a society for the study of Abraham Lincoln. On the first hypothesis, that there was once a poet called Homer, and the Homeridai were named after him, we should expect them to be his descendants, because that is the normal meaning of -I'at when it is added to a person's name. The Homeridai themselves thought this ought to be the case; only they knew that they were not the common descendants of anybody. They gave the explanation that the name had at some previous time meant 'the descendants of Homer', and had then come to mean 'the school of Homer'. In fact we have no real evidence for a fanily called the Homeridai at any historical period, because, by the time the Homeridai come into view in the latter part of the sixth century, the earlier existence of a family is part of their mythology and quite unverifiable. They had their reasons for inventing it, and an original Homer from whom it had descended. This leaves us with the second of our three alternatives,namely that the Homeridai were not named after a person at all. This is a perfectly valid possibility, because the suffix -'aLt was in origin not specifically patronymic. There are many collective names specificallypatronymic. with this ending that do not denote a relationship to an individual. Aristophanes refers to the mutilators of the Hermai as the Hermokopidai, or 'Herm-chop-idai'; there is no question here of a family, or of descendants or followers of a man called Hermokopos. These collective names in -M&at (or -acat, or -Laocai) are characteristic of professional groups or of those who perform some traditional role in ceremonies. M. L. West,TheOrphicPoems Oxford, 108-11.The The first extantmention extantmentionof of Oxford,1983), 7-20, 108-11. 1983),7-20, literatureomes omes romIbycus, notherpoetat Polycrates'ourt. Orpheusn literature 24
Hdt. 1.62.4; sch. Ar. Pac. 1071.
choliahe he is also accusedof Hdt. 7.6.3.In 7.6.3. In the Homeric cholia accusedof having havingnterpolated nterpolatedOd. 11.602-4, andelsewhere and elsewhere e is regarded s a forger f Orphicpoems West n. n.24], 24],40). 40).
M. L. WEST
Sometimes they came to be interpreted in terms of genetic descent, and a fictitious ancestor was created. For example, there was the medical guild of the Asklepiadai in Cos, who claimed descent from the god or hero Asklepios, and were able to enumerate nineteen generations of healers from Asklepios to Hippocrates.27 n Crete there were singers called dat-ropEs
who sang love songs to the lyre, and they were
supposed to be descended from one Ametor, who invented this type of song.28In the Eleusinian Mysteries the cantor-hierophants had the title of hereditary Eumolpidai, which means no more than Master Cantors; but they claimed to be descended from a legendary ancestor Eumolpos, who appears in the Hymn to Demeter as one of the rulers of Eleusis to whom the goddess revealed the Mysteries. Mysteries.Similarly Similarly the heralds or marshals at Eleusis, the Kerykes or Kerykidai, whose office was a hereditary hereditaryprivilege, privilege, traced their descent to a legendary person called Marshal (Keryx). We see that it would be quite normal for a professional body called (for whatever reason) the Homeridai to invent an ancestor Homeros, and to say that they had inherited their name, their functions, and their properties-their poems-from him. That is what they must have done, seeing that they were not in fact a family. When the Pindar scholiast says that the first Homeridai, Homer's descendants, sang his poems in succession (EK 8LaoXIS), that is, from generation to generation, this reflects the claim made by the later Homeridai that the poems had been transmitted transmittedto to them by descent through the family. family.If If they said that Homer was blind, that was because many of them were: minstrelsy is a favoured occupation for the blind in many societies. THE MEANING OF THE NAME HOMERIDAI The question remains: how is the name Homeridai to be accounted for, if not from a man called Homeros? We are not in a position to answer this with certainty, any more than we can explain why an individual might be given the name of Homeros. But several possibilities can be suggested. The stem 6o,uqp-has several possible connotations in Greek.29 A verb 6o7pELV occurs in the Odyssey in the sense 'meet up with' someone. This is a special application of the basic sense of the roots, o6i- + ap-, 'fit together, come into union'.30 union'.30Another Another application appears in Hesiod's use of the verb with referenceto singing. He describes the Muses singing before Zeus in Olympus and delighting his great mind as they tell of what is and what shall be and what was aforetime, OcowVLo6qpe'ovacraL, which I take to mean 'with voices in unison', fitting together so that no gap is apparent between them.31 If o6~qpE?v was an ideal aimed at by singers,might singers, might the'O'q/piSaL have been the There is an easy objection: that might be an appropriatename for a All-in-tunesters'?There All-in-tunesters'? L.Edelstein, Edelstein,RE Supp.6.1295. VitaHippocratis;cf.Jacoby n Pherecydes F 59;L. Soranus,Vita RE 1.1828-9. s.v.ad&trop[ias;Et. Magn. Ath. 638b;Hsch. Hsch.s.v. Magn.83.15; 83.15;0. 0. Crusius,RE 29 forwardlsewhere lsewhere WestSemitic Semiticwhich haveputforward romWest a possible xplanationrom I willpassover overa andwhich which s too adventurouso justifya second EastFace Faceof Helicon Oxford, 997], 22-3)and (TheEast airing. 30 Od. 16.468. Cf. av/.,a4AAotiat,which whichcan canalso also mean'meet,encounter'.0'tr-qpa 16.468.Cf. hostage' s hostage' token o of a For the semantic exchanged y way compact. similarly nalogous av6t3oAov, development,f. development, f. Durante n. 4), 190-1. 31 Hes. Th. In my commentary Th.39. 39. comparedHymn. Ap. 164 ovTW aG>LvKaA')avvapr7pev musical themusical the enseof ense of adp/tov(a, tuning,attunement'.GregoryNagy,who o referredo aoLi$7,nd referred also regards Otiqpos s a mythical, rototypical nameas 'he whofits who fits [the uthor,nterpretshe nameas rototypicaluthor, 27 28
Song] together': The Best of the Achaeans (Baltimore, 1979), 296-300; Pindar's Homer (Baltimore, 1990), 373; Homeric Questions (Austin, 1996), 89-91; Poetry as Performance Cambridge,
mewhether whether e regardshe clear o me heHomeridai notclear Homeridai s prior. 1996),74-5. It is not
THE INVENTION OF HOMER
choir, or a league of choirs, but the Homeridai were rhapsodes who performed solo and did not have to be in tune with anything but their own lyre (if they had one). The therefore seems to have no reference. op/-element thereforeseems The most familiar sense of the o'rp- stem is 'hostage'. What have hostages to do with epic singers? The only perceptible connection is the one contained in the aforementioned of Seleucus, that the Homeridai were not named after Homer (as most peopleclaim assumed), but were the descendants of certain young men and women who were given to each other in marriage as 'hostages' in a sex war, in the context of This looks like something more than mere invention. Chios.32This a Dionysus festival on Chios.32 It looks like a myth designed to explain a Chian ritual, perhaps one involving transvestism and/or sexual licence, in which certain participants were called o6'rpot or oiqr]p'at.33 This may seem promising; only it is hard to see why it should lead to regularperformers rhapsodes being given this name, even if they were regular performersat the festival in question. Some light, however, may be thrown by a theory argued with great learning by referredto to the sacred Marcello Durante in what seems to be a little-known paper.34He referred grove 'OLdptov or ALuadpLovear Helice in Achaea, and to its patron deity Zevs 'O6adptos. This was where the Achaean Confederacy held its common assemblies.35 The name itself means the Place of Union; in Roman times it was replaced by the more perspicuous ' Otay6plov, the place of od4-yvpts or rravqyvpts.36 The assembly of the whole people for a common festival at one centre, Durante argued, was the natural place for displays by rhapsodes and competitions between them, as is illustrated by the Panionian festival on Delos, and subsequently by the Panathenaea at Athens. ' Philological investigation strengthens the argument. 'Oliaptov and Zevs OUa'ptos seem to presuppose an old word for assembly, *o'/apo or *o'jadptL.A parallel word in Vedic Sanskrit Sanskrit formed from the same elements, sam-aryam, is used in the context of festive gatherings, and, at least in some passages, refers to the priest-poets' priest-poets''meeting' 'meeting' in been an ancient word in poetic competition. *0'6dpos or *0'`JdptSmay therefore have been Greek for an assembly of the people with which poetic contests were associated, a sort of eisteddfod. The poets might appropriately have come to be called *61aptoL, or collectively 'OiapiSat, in Ionic form 'Ok-/ptiat. The institution would presumably B.C.,hough go back to the time of Graeco-Aryan Graeco-Aryanunity, unity, sometime before 2000 B.C., hough the creation of an eponymous poet 'Homer' need not antedate the first millennium. Durante 367with withn. n. 12. Above,p. 367 33Wilamowitz,Die Ilias Iliasund Homer Berlin, undHomer Berlin,1916), 1916),366 (cf. (cf.Jacoby Jacoby n. 12],410), 12],410),thought thought hat inthe notin thesenseof senseof 'hostages' utof 'followers, theywere alled3'pot, not 'followers,ttendants'; ttendants'; heopompus wordfor for 'follow',and andderived derived he 'hostage' (FGrHist115 F 300) said thatO6/upEtvwas an old word sense from this. (Cf. Hsch. o 714 o1tL-rpe' eyyvrTat, aKoAovOet,and 717 Op-npp-Srp 32
aKoAovOoL, avvr1yopot.) Aristotle (fr. 76), in a complicated story about Homer's birth and
first been called Melesigenes, ut his namewas name was changed o childhood,related hat he had at firstbeen when he Lydianswere Homerwhen Homer wereabandoning myrnao theGreeks, he inhabitants ere nvited o follow hemout hemout of the city,and he saidhe saidhewanted wanted oO'TspEfv,using this word for 'follow'.
34 'I nome di Omero', Rendic. morcalidell'Accad. dell'Accad. dei Lincei 1957, ser. 8 vol. 12 fasc. 1-2, with modifications in Sulla ... 185-203. 94-111, repeated slight preistoria (n. 4), Strab. 8.7.3 E'LKOL Polyb. 5.93.10; IEv ET7T1 SLerTAEav ypaLtlaTera KOLVOV 'XOVTES Kat
KaT'eviavTOv ot ACxatLOL, KaL KOLVOfovAtOV ESe'va rO7rroVU(VV7yETo aVTros, EKaXAEro8E AladpLov, ev cLt ra KOLVa expr.tdaTL,ov KatLOVroL KatL OVroLKaL oL 'E'wg and r7rpTEpov, OTparrT7yovs
8.7.5. The 'Op,aptov established in Calabria in the fifth century by the Achaean colonies Croton, establishedin
hadthe ndCaulonia Cauloniahad thesamerole: samerole: OLVOV LepOv Sybaris, nd 83tagov'Ata avvereAovv Polyb. 2.39.6).
TO7TOVEv TO7TOV Ev Ct
rda re avvo'8ovs
Paus. 7.24.2, who relates the legend that Agamemnon convened the Greek leaders there before they set out against Troy. 36
M. L. WEST
refers finally to the legendary poet Thamyris or Thamyras, whose name is evidently related to the old Aeolic word Oatvpts meaning 'assembly,gathering of the people'.37 He suggests the possibility that Thamyris' name was derived from a collectivity, the Thamyridai or Thamyradai, parallel to the Homeridai from whom Homer's name was derived. Durante's theory may fall short of certainty, but it is the best and most coherent that has been offered. What should no longer be in doubt is that however the Homeridai got their name, Homer got his from them and not vice versa. To put the argument in a nutshell: if Homer had been a real person, we could not account for the Homeridai, who were not of one family.Their existence refutes his. HOMER FINALLY MAKES IT BIG In the remainder of the paper I shall try to trace the elaboration of the fiction, the process which provided Homer with a biography (like Lieutenant Kije) and set him up as an object of universal admiration. The process reached its culmination in the late sixth century, but the Homeridai may have attributed their repertoire to 'Homer' for many generations before that. There are four references or apparent referencesto Homer that have been thought to date from the eighth or seventh century, though only one of them has a good chance of actually doing so: 1. Philochorus quoted three verses, allegedly by Hesiod (fr. dub. 357 M.-W), in which the poet recalled that EV J'A,wL
OL[VOLs fLEAITTOL,ev,v veapoisOL[VOLs
t aLL UOLT)pOSOdotLoL p[dacavTeS
ov TEKE A oqTL7.
that was the first time, in Delos, when I and Homer
sang,stitching sang, stitchingoursong in newhymns,
of Phoebus PhoebusApollo Apolloof of thegold the goldsword, sword, he son of Leto. seen this as anything other than a forgery, based on the Very few scholars have ever seen sophistic fable of a contest between Homer and Hesiod, though with the venue on Delos instead of at Chalcis as in the Certamen.('That was the first time' may imply that they were to meet again at Chalcis.38)A forgery it certainly is; and the reference to a hymn to Apollo composed by Homer on Delos shows that the forger had a particular interest in the claims of Cynaethus. His purpose may have been to counter the critics who accused Cynaethus of having forged the Delian hymn: here, in these alleged verses of Hesiod, was independent testimony from a contemporary that Homer had composed a hymn to Apollo on Delos.39 2. A Byzantine commentator on Aristotle names Archilochus (fr. 304 W), among others (Aristotle, Cratinus, Callimachus), as having referred to the Margites and 37 Hsch. 0 90 OaL ptLs 7ravr7yvpt, avcvoos . . . 91 OatvpLtEL' dOpoietI, aovvayeI. n a fourthptLs7ravr7yvpt, from century inscription Thespiae two men are named as OatLvp[S$ovres,vidently some kind of
official role (SEG 32.503; cf. P. Roesch, Etludesbeotiennes [Paris, 1982], 138-42, who interprets as 'c6lbrer le culte de Thamyris'). 38 0. Crusius, Philologus 54 (1895), 717, 'mit rTOE TrpcT-rov oll wahrscheinlich der Agon in Chalkis iibertrumpft werden'. 39 Janko (n. 17), 113-14, 259-61, suggests that Cynaethus himself produced the verses to validate the performance of a 'Hesiodic' together with the 'Homeric' hymn, sc. the Pythian beside the Delian.
provided evidence for its being the work of Homer. We may be sure that Archilochus did not cite that or any other poem by title, and even if he alluded to the famous idiot Margites, we may be almost sure that he did not adduce a poet's name in connection with him. Probably the statement is based only on both the fact that the proverbial line in Archilochus 7rrAA' TB' (fr. 201) and ppeared JLdyappeared aAdnrrrf, dAA' Lx0vos'v JLdya (from Archilochus?) in the Margites. Someone may have taken this as evidence that Archilochus knew the Margites, which was therefore by the older poet, Homer, as commonly claimed. 3. Stobaeus preserves under the heading ZtlIwvtSovan elegiac fragment in which a line of the Iliad (6.146) is quoted as the work of a Xtos dav-p (sc. Homer). This has often been supposed to be from Semonides of Amorgos in the mid-seventh century. But a papyrus discovery has confirmed that it stood in the elegies of Simonides of Ceos (fr. 19 W2). 4. Pausanias (9.9.5), after mentioning the epic Thebaid,writes rT oE
s T tKaAaivos, Lq/t.KOJEvoSvrcOv
EqUraev O,Lr0pov rov
ELvaL. KaAaLvcoLS6 zroAAol TrEKat (LOL Aoyov Kara TavTra Eyvwaav.
andKalainos' Kalainos'opinion Kalainos,comingto speakof this epic, said thatit was by Homer;and opinionhas notableauthorities. authorities. been supported y manynotable 'Kalainos' is an unknown name and ever since Sylburg (1583) it has been emended to that of the seventh-century elegist Callinus. This is very probably right; the context suggests an early author, and early poets are the sort of source that Pausanias likes quoting. (He does not cite Callinus elsewhere, but he does cite Tyrtaeus.) However, Callinus cannot have said anything like 'in the Thebaid, which Homer composed'. Presumably he referred to the story of the Theban War, and mentioned 'Homer' as the poet who told of it. But it is highly unlikely that he would have seen fit to name a contemporary or recent singer, however outstanding. If he named Homer, it will have in general; as if narrativein been as the legendary poet reputed to be the source of epic narrative he had said, 'as we hear from ancient tradition'. The inference would be that the Homeridai of Callinus' time already attributed their poetry to their imaginary eponym 'Homer'. This mention of Homer remains isolated. For the rest, poets in the seventh century and the first half of the sixth show a lively interest in the subject matter of the various epics, but none at all in the poet or poets who gave shape to them. Hesiod speaks of the Theban and Trojan Wars, of the exploits of Heracles, and of the gathering of the TrojanWars, Achaeans at Aulis. Tyrtaeus refers to Tithonus, Pelops, Adrastus. Mimnermus too knows about Tithonus, as well as Neleus' Pylos, the Argonauts, Niobe, Tydeus. There are mentions in Alcman of Ajax and Memnon, Priam and Paris, Paris,Odysseus Odysseus and Circe. Achilles, the Locrian Ajax. Stesichorus Sappho and Alcaeus are full of Helen, Hector, Achilles,
whole epics in lyric form. But in all this, no allusion to the poet Homer. This can retellswhole retells hardly be a mere accident of preservation.40 From the last third of the sixth century the picture is strikingly different. Homer springs into life. Author after author names him and comments on his achievements. The epics are no longer treated as free-standing records of the past, but as the artistic creations of an individual, to be praised or criticized. Cynaethus in the Delian hymn 40 When of Sicyon Cleisthenesof stopped the rhapsodes rom Sicyonstopped Herodotus 5.67.1) says that Cleisthenes WhenHerodotus
Atheniansused used 1375b30)says says that the Athenians reciting Homeric'poetry,or when Aristotle(Rhet. 1375b30) claim o Salamis bout600 n supportof their theirclaim bout600 B.C.,it is unsafe o infer hat evidencen as evidence 'Homer'as
the name Homer was actually used at the time of those events. Cf. Burkert(n. 19), 44.
M. L. WEST
tells his audience of the blind poet of Chios who wandered from city to city, and whose songs constitute a matchless legacy. Theagenes of Rhegium at the same period is said to havewritten have written the first book about Homer.41Xenophanes Homer.41Xenophanes criticizes criticizesHomer Homer and Hesiod for promulgating false and pernicious ideas about the gods, and in another verse he speaks of everyone having learned from the beginning according to Homer, as education.42Heraclitus if Homer-so named-was already regarded as the basis of education.42Heraclitus too criticized Homer, saying that he deserved to be driven out of the aywvEs and whipped. He referred to Homer's reputation as the wisest of men, and to the story about how he was defeated by the fisherboys' riddle. He is also reported to have cited verses from the Iliad as evidence that Homer was an aarpoAoyos.43 Simonides shows enormous admiration for Homer's achievement. In the proemium of his recently discovered Plataea elegy he writes of the Danaans who fought at Troy, Otlav
KAE'OSd&v[posg] d&v[posg] E'K7Tt KEXVrcL KAE'OS
os trap' loT]AhOKactLV sCaLTo 7htEpl$[wv rdacav JAr]60Etr7v, JAr]60Etr7v,Kat Kat erCwvvukov 7r[Ao-rE'p]oLatv 7Tolr)a'
[And they] are bathed in fame that cannot die, by grace [of one who from the dark-]tressed Muses had the tru[th entire,] and made the heroes' shortshort-lived lived race a theme familiar to younger men.
In another elegy he quotes the 'finest single thing' that the man from Chios said, and he may have hailed him as one whom all-conquering Time had spared. In a lyric victory with the javelin at the funeral games for Pelias, Meleager'svictory poem, referring to Meleager's Simonides adds Homer's name as a warranty of truth: 'for so Homer and Stesichorus have sung to the peoples'.44In a similar spirit, an epigram inscribed on a Herm in the Athenian Agora following the capture of Eion in 475 recalled that the Atreidai were accompanied to Troy by an Athenian leader, Menestheus, ov 7rTOO' "OfL7poS 'q r a cX?7rs Koa0l7,rTpa
whom Homer once pronounced, of all the Danaans, the outstanding arrayer of the battle-line.45
Pindar refers to Homer a number of times. Like Heraclitus, he was familiar with stories about Homer's life. He allowed him to be both a Chiot and a Smyrnaean, and mentioned his daughter's marriage to the Cypriot Stasinus, who got the Cypria as dowry. He quotes a maxim from ra&Olupov; he notes that the fame of the heroes of old is dependent on the accounts of skilled poets, and that the charm and the soaring 41 Tatian, Ad Graecos31 (= DK 8.1), names Theagenes with others under the heading of those who have enquired about Homer's poetry, his ancestry,and his date, but this need not mean that each writer in the list treated all those topics. Theagenes' main concern was apparently to justify Homer's theology by means of allegorical interpretation. 42 Xenoph. DK 21 B 11; 10 E'f dpXri Ka0' "O),upov(,) E7rrEtieaOrjKaat Trrdvre (cf Burkert
havebeenwritten written s lateas lateas the470s. 45). Thismight,of course,havebeen 19],45). [n. 19],
43 Heraclitus, DK 22 B 42, 56, 105. 44 Simon. eleg. 11.15-18, 19.1-2, 20.13-15; PMG 564. Note also the apophthegm about Hesiod and Homer attributed to Simonides in Gnom. Vat. 1144 (FGrHist 8 F 6; D. A. Campbell,
45 Aeschin. Ctes. 183; Plut. Cimon 7.6; D. L. Page, Further FurtherGreek GreekEpigrams Cambridge, 1981), 257, lines 841-2 (cf. Hdt. 7.161.3).
grandeur of Homer's verses probably mislead us about what actually happened.46 Bacchylides too is cited a ass a witness to Homer's birthplace: he endorsed the claims of Ios.47 Herodotus thinks that Oceanus is a poetic fiction due to 'Homer, or one of his predecessors'; he has views on the date of Hesiod and Homer, and holds these two responsible for formulating the conventional notions of the gods; he argues that Homer knew the story of Helen in Egypt, but deliberately excluded it; he exercises himself about whether Homer composed the Cypria and Epigonoi as well as the Iliad and Odyssey.48 It is unnecessary to go further. further.The The point has been sufficiently established: established:from from the time of Cynaethus onwards, Homer becomes an object of historical curiosity, curiosity,literary literary reference to criticism, and biographical romance, and the almost complete absence of referenceto him in the preceding 150 years rapidly gives way to a great abundance of reference. Homer had been invented long before as the eponym of the Homeridai, but now he was again as a figure of real flesh and blood and intellect. It was probably at this invented period that he became established as a school text, as the author that every gentleman's son would most benefit from studying.49 A TIME OF TRANSITION To say 'from the time of Cynaethus onwards' is not to say that Cynaethus was personally responsible for the whole phenomenon, though he does seem to have made a significant contribution to it. Other factors were at work. Firstly, this was a time when Greek poetry as a whole was undergoing a revolution, the biggest in its history: the transition from Archaic to Classical. The unselfconscious traditional style was breaking down and being displaced by the more concentrated and intricate manner, the tendency to complexity and artificiality of thought and diction, that was to be characteristic of the fifth century. One sees the change in all genres: in the lyric poetry of Simonides, Lasus, and Pratinas; in the elegies of Simonides and in the inscribed
hexametersof of ParDionysius Chalcus; in the inscribed epigram;in the hexameters menides, Empedocles, and Panyassis; and in the new genre of tragedy. tragedy.Lyric Lyric metres and music in general became more complex and innovatory. There was a more intellectual and analytical approach to the arts, and a new emphasis on individual creativity.This brought with it an interest in literary literaryhistory, history, in defining and assessing the achievements of past poets and musicians and contrasting the old with the new. The lively interest in Homer fits squarely into this context, but there was interest in others too. Xenophanes criticizes Hesiod as well as Homer; so does Heraclitus, who also condemns Archilochus. Simonides names Stesichorus as a classic beside Homer, and takes sayings of Hesiod, Pittacus, and Cleobulus as texts for discursive philosophical comment. Lasus wrote the first book on music; we know little about its contents, which will have been in part theoretical, but it is tempting to suppose that he gave some account of famous musicians of the past such as Olympus and Terpander. Pratinas certainly had views about them: he identified two different Olympoi, the younger of whom invented the7roAvKEdctAos vo6os, he referred to Xenodamus as a poet of hyporchemata, and he told the story of how Thaletas ended a plague at Sparta by means of his music. Epicharmus named Aristoxenus of Selinus as the first 46
Pind. fr. 264, 265; Pyth. 4.277, 3.112-15; Nem. 7.20-3; Isth. 3/4.55-9; cf. fr. (anon.) 347.
Homeric tradition as the rptTrr'OS atLtatTog-: Pae. 7b. 11.
47 Bacchyl. fr. 48. 49
Hdt. 2.23, 53, 116-17; 4.32. On this development, see Burkert(n. 19), 56-7. 48
M. L. WEST
to introduce a certain type of iambus. Pindar frequently refers to older poets and musicians, quoting from them, making literary criticism, commenting on their inventions, or alluding to stories about their lives: he touched on Homer, Hesiod, Archilochus, Alcman(?), Olympus, Terpander,Polymnestus, Terpander,Polymnestus, Sacadas, and by implication Xenocritus and Arion.50 went a certain amount amount of With this interest in reconstructing literary history there went reconstructingliterary pseudepigraphy. Books became more fascinating and authoritative if they could be represented as the work of a great name from the past. I have already mentioned the production of poems under the names of Orpheus and Musaeus. It was certainly in the sixth century, and perhaps between 540 and 520, that an Athenian poet (as I Womenand and attached it to Hesiod's Theogony, as if believe) compiled the Catalogue of Women it were all Hesiodic, as Hecataeus already seems to have thought.51 The Homeridai claimed Homer as the author of all their not just of texts such as the Iliad form in book andpoems, had acquired which they reproduced more or less without change, but also of new compositions such as the Delian hymn. There are signs, too, that they made efforts to appropriatefor Homer certain poems with which other authors' names were associated. Hence the stories in the Lives that Homer 'gave' the Cypria to Stasinus as his daughter's dowry, that he gave the Capture for his hospitality, and that Thestorides returnfor to Creophylus of Samos in return Oichaliato of Oichalia of Phocaea wrote down the Phocais and other poems at Homer's dictation and then passed them off as his own. Hence too, perhaps, the tale that Homer composed the Odyssey at a time when his name was not yet Homer but Melesigenes.52
FROM IONIA TO ATHENS The developments I have described can be placed in time: they belong, roughly speaking, to the last third of the sixth century. Can we also plot them on the map? By 520 or 510, Athens is clearly the focal point. Here a comprehensive Hesiodus auctus was in circulation; here Onomacritus was editing the Oracles of Musaeus; here Lasus the musicologist was active, reforming the dithyramb and nailing Onomacritus' forgery; here, as nowhere else, one could hear 'the Poems of Homer' (the Iliad and Odyssey) recited from beginning to end in all their splendour. But this was an Athens newly stimulated by impulses from outside, especially from Ionia. Ionian poets such as Anacreon and Simonides were there,enjoying Hipparchus' patronage; Anacreon became the centre of a set that rejoiced in a foppish type of Ionian couture, wearing long feminine chitons, turbans, and ear-rings,and promenading under parasols.53 parasols.53In In the of Homer atvery the Panathenaea we cannot see the recognition influence ofand the glorification Ionian Homeridai-and but official possibly of Cynaethus himself, the Chiot who presented 'Homer's' Hymn to Apollo with such eclat on Delos. 50 Xenophanes, Heraclitus, see above; Simonides, PMG 542, 579, 581; Pratinas, PMG 713;
referencescollected in my Ancient GreekMusic GreekMusic (Oxford, Epicharmus fr. 88 (IEG 2.45); Pindar,see referencescollected 1992), 345, n. 73. If we can trust the Peripatetic Megaclides, Stesichorus had already mentioned PeripateticMegaclides, older poets by name: Xanthus (PMGF 229); Hesiod (PMGF 269). Cf. R. Janko, CQ 36 (1986), 41-2. 51 M. L. West, The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women Oxford, 1985), 136-7. Catalogueof 52 Cf. Wilamowitz (n. 33), 370-1, 375-6, 439; E Marx, RhM 74 (1925), 406-8, 417. 53 West (n. 50), 348. Anacreon may have introduced the barbitos to Athens (ibid., 58). I suspect he may also have brought knowledge of the Lesbian poets, with whom acquaintance is shown from early in the fifth century (e.g. PMG 891).
THE INVENTION OF HOMER
The great Delian festival of 523 was organized organizedby by Polycratesof Samos, whose court had been the great centre of poetic patronage in the years immediately before. Polycrates and Pisistratus are the two earliest Greeks to have a reputation as bookcollectors.54 t was in Polycrates'Samos that Pythagoras started his career,Pythagoras whom Heraclitus describes as having made 'selections' from a body of writings, and who is implicated in the beginnings of 'Orphic' iterature.55 here, as with 'Homer', we of an ancient poet and the propagation of new compositions under reinventionof see the reinvention his name. Samos was also the home of a guild of rhapsodes called the KpEWcovELot, one of whom, Hermodamas, is said to have taught the young Pythagoras.56 ust as the Homeridai claimed to have been the descendants of a certain Homer, so the Creophylei claimed to be descended from a poet Creophylus.s7 According to the biographical Creophylus.s7According tradition about Homer, he was entertained by Creophylus (on Ios, say some), and he him with the gift of a poem, the Capture rewardedhim rewarded Captureof of Oichalia, which thereafter bore Creophylus' name.58Samos, therefore,lay within the purview of the Homer legend as developed (probably already before 500) by the Homeridai. They claimed as Homer's a poem which the Samians claimed as Creophylus'.59 In the pseudo-Herodotean Life, while there is no mention of Creophylus, several