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The Last Words of Socrates at the Place where he Died

… –118a, which situates these last words of Socrates: “Go,” said he [= Socrates], “and do as I say.” Crito, when he heard this, signaled with a nod to the boy servant who was standing nearby, and the servant went in, remaining for some time, and then came out with the man who was going to administer the poison [pharmakon]. He was carrying a cup that contained it, ground into the drink. When Socrates saw the man he said: “You, my good man, since you are experienced in these matters, should tell me what needs to be done.” The man answered: “You need to drink it, that’s all. Then walk around until you feel a heaviness |117b in your legs. Then lie down. This way, the poison will do its thing.” While the man was saying this, he handed the cup to Socrates. And Socrates took it in a cheerful way, not flinching or getting pale or grimacing. Then looking at the man from beneath his brows, like a bull—that was the way he used to look at people—he said: “What do you say about my pouring a libation out of this cup to someone? Is it allowed or not?” The man answered: “What we grind is measured out, Socrates, as the right dose for drinking.” “I understand,” he said, |117c “but surely it is allowed and even proper to pray to the gods so that my transfer of dwelling [met-oikēsis] from this world [enthende] to that world [ekeîse] should be fortunate. So, that is what I too am now praying for. Let it be this way.” And, while he was saying this, he took the cup to his lips and, quite readily and cheerfully, he drank down the whole dose. Up to this point, most of us had been able to control fairly well our urge to let our tears flow; but now when we saw him drinking the poison, and then saw him finish the drink, we could no longer hold back, and, in my case, quite against my own will, my own tears were now pouring out in a flood. So, I covered my face and had a good cry. You see, I was not crying for him, |117d but at the thought of my own bad fortune in having lost such a comrade [hetairos]. Crito, even before me, found himself unable to hold back his tears: so he got up and moved away. And Apollodorus, who had been weeping all along, now started to cry in a loud voice, expressing his frustration. So, … ... Read more

The Vow of Socrates

… my own interpretation of the last words of Socrates as quoted in Plato’s Phaedo. I interpreted these words as a mystical sign that was intended not only for Crito but also for all followers of Socrates: if they want to follow Socrates, they must be like his first followers and sacrifice a rooster to Asklepios. By sacrificing a rooster, you will be like the worshippers of Asklepios: you too, like those worshippers, will experience some kind of a ritual incubation. And then you will get a “wake-up call,” as it were, when you hear the crowing of roosters in the morning. Here is the way I said it in that posting: After sacrificing a rooster at day’s end, sacrificers will sleep the sleep of incubation and then, the morning after the sacrifice, they will wake up to hear other roosters crowing. So, the words of Socrates here are referring to rituals of overnight incubation in the hero cults of Asklepios. The relevant wording that I used in my posting, as I just quoted it, is a repetition of what I had said in H24H 24§46, where I went on to say: So, Asklepios is the model for keeping the voice of the rooster alive. And, for Socrates, Asklepios can become the model for keeping the word alive. My interpretation of the symbolism built into the last words of Socrates in Plato’s Phaedo 118a resembles, at least in part, an earlier interpretation that is mentioned in passing in a monograph by Mabel Lang (1977, pp. 28–29; see the bibliography below) concerning the material remains of the sanctuary of Asklepios in Corinth. In this monograph, she interprets the crowing of roosters in the morning as a symbol of a mystical awakening that follows an overnight incubation in the worship of Asklepios: “After the night of dreaming in the shrine it was the morning awakening that brought the cure, signaled and symbolized, as it were, by the cock’s crow” (p. 28). For a tracking of this and other such interpretations concerning the sacrifice of a rooster for Asklepios, I refer to the work of Emma Stafford (2008 in the bibliography, especially pp. 210–12). §11. So, by now we have seen that worshippers of Asklepios could sacrifice a rooster to him, and the sacrifice would have to be correlated with a wish for health. Further, that wish would have to be formulated verbally in a prayer. As we saw in the passage I quoted from Artemidorus, the Greek word for ‘pray’ is eukhesthai. And such an act of praying would be what is normally called in English a vow. The idea is, I vow the sacrifice of a rooster in the context of my saying a prayer. §12. Since Socrates is quoted as saying, literally, that ‘we owe the sacrifice of a rooster to Asklepios’, it is implied that Socrates had made a vow in the context of having said a prayer. He was praying to get something. He had wished for something. In terms of my argument, as I indicated in H24H 24§46, he wished for the Word to come back to life again, just as Asklepios himself had once upon a time come back to life, ready to heal those who are suffering from illness. And the Word, I argued, was Socratic dialogue. The followers of Socrates—and their followers in turn—must keep the conversation going, as it were. The conversations that Socrates started must be continued to keep the Word alive. I return once again to my formulation in H24H 24§46: So, Asklepios is the model for keeping the voice of the rooster alive. And, for Socrates, Asklepios can become the model for keeping the word alive. For me there still remains a big question to be asked about the vow of Socrates to sacrifice a rooster to Asklepios. Evidently, the sacrifice that he vowed must take place in the future. But when will the sacrifice take place? I argue that, in this case, the sacrifice would have taken place before an incubation. And the sacrificer owes such a preliminary sacrifice because he has already vowed it in prayer. §13. To back up this point, I build on the research that is summarized in a chapter entitled ‘The Vow’ in a book by Emile Benveniste, Indo-European Language and Society, where the analysis focuses on Greek eukhesthai and its Latin cognate, vovēre.[1] The Latin verb vovēre can be translated as ‘vow’ in contexts where someone is praying to a divinity and asking for a favor to be granted, in return for which favor a vow is made to do something that is meant to gratify the divinity. Such a translation also applies in comparable contexts of the Greek verb eukhesthai. So, when you make a vow in a prayer, as expressed by way of the word eukhesthai, you are saying to a divinity that you will do or are doing or have done something in the hope that the divinity to whom you are praying will grant what you are wishing for. For a most pertinent example in the Iliad, I cite a situation where the hero Pandaros is being urged (misleadingly, by Athena in disguise) to make a vow-in-prayer as expressed by the verb eukhesthai (4.101: εὔχεο): this hero, by way of making a vow-in-prayer to Apollo, would be vowing that he would perform an animal sacrifice (4.102) in the hope that the god would grant him what he is wishing for, which is a safe homecoming (4.103). Pandaros then goes ahead and makes a vow-in-prayer (4.119: εὔχετο), vowing that he will in fact perform an animal sacrifice (4.120) in hopes of a safe homecoming (4.121). So, as Benveniste (1973 part 6 sub-part 4) says about the meaning of eukhesthai, ‘the “prayer” is not distinguished from the “vow”: it is one and the same operation’. Or, as I would prefer to say it, the wish-in-prayer is not distinguished from the vow-in-prayer. I can paraphrase in terms of the Latin noun vōtum, translated as ‘vow’, which is a derivative of the Latin verb vovēre, translated as ‘vow’. When you pray to a divinity, the word for what you vow to do is vōtum, but the word for what you wish for is likewise vōtum. In the case of the hero Pandaros in the Homeric Iliad, his wish—and therefore his prayer—is a failure, since he will soon be killed on the battlefield (5.290–296). I have more to say about this and other Homeric examples in an essay that I am preparing on the subject of Song 17 of Sappho. §14. In that same essay on Sappho, I offer further interpretations concerning the concept of a “vow,” adjusting the formulation of Benveniste as I have outlined it here. These interpretations are indebted to the work of Leonard Muellner, who has shown that the English translation ‘vow’ for such words as eukhesthai works only in situations where the human who prays to a divinity is announcing an act that will happen in the future (see Muellner 1976:55–56). But the fact is, the act of gratifying a divinity can happen in the present or even in the past. What you announce in prayer do … ... Read more

On Traces of Hero-Cults for Socrates and Plato

… 03.27, where I focused on the last words of Socrates as quoted in Plato’s Phaedo 117a–118a, Patrick Lee Miller wrote me on 2015.03.31: “That’s a good insight that Asclepius [a.k.a. Asklepios] conferred new life after incubation; this should put to rest the Nietzschean interpretation that Socrates is thanking the god for curing him of the illness life. But isn’t a more straightforward meaning of “new life” not the logos, for which you argue ingeniously, but the reincarnation for which he argues in Phaedo itself? In other words, he will go to sleep (die) but be reborn in another body?” I was very engaged with this incisive question by PLM, and here is my response. But before I can start, I need to offer a friendly amendment to the wording that I have just quoted from PLM: where he describes Asklepios as a ‘god’, I prefer to say ‘cult hero’ instead. As I note in H24H 0§13, 8§44, 11§14, cult heroes (including Asklepios, at least in the earlier phases of his cult) were not considered to be gods, though they were traditionally worshipped as sacred superhuman forces in their own right. §5. That said, I am ready to delve into my response to PLM. I go back to what I published in H24H, almost two years ago, about the last words of Socrates. As I already mentioned in the posting on 2015.03.27, I had quoted and analyzed in H24H 24§45 the passage in Plato’s Phaedo 117a–118a where Socrates dies—and where his last words, as transmitted by Plato, are directed at all those who have had the unforgettable experience of engaging in dialogue with him. He tells them: don’t forget to sacrifice a rooster to Asklepios. §6. PLM has accurately understood my interpretation of these words as meaning that Socrates values the immortality of the logos even more than any possible immortality for the psūkhē. In favoring this interpretation, I was and still am very much influenced by the work of a dear friend, the late Nicole Loraux. I have in mind this most important article of hers: Loraux, N. 1982. “Donc Socrate est immortel.” Le Temps de la Réflexion 3:19–46. Recast as “Therefore Socrates is Immortal” in Loraux 1995:145–167. The book is . . . Loraux, N. 1995. The Experiences of Tiresias: The Feminine and the Greek Man. Trans. P. Wissing. Princeton. Despite my admiration for this article by Loraux, I cited her work only once in H24H, at the end of this paragraph: 23§40. A question remains: what kind of immortalization after death can we hope for if we do in fact ‘practice philosophy correctly’? As we will now see, what is at stake here for Plato’s Socrates is not the resurrection of the sōma, the ‘body’, or even the preservation of the psūkhē, the ‘soul’, but simply the idea that the living word of philosophical dialogue must stay alive. My footnote at the end of this paragraph reads: “These Socratic priorities are examined with uncanny acuity by Loraux 1982.” §7. But I must confess that, in offering the formulation that I just quoted, I was trying to have my cake and eat it too. Here is what I mean: although I was and I am persuaded by the argument, as advanced by Loraux, that Plato’s Socrates values the immortality of the logos even more than the immortality of the psūkhē, I think that Plato does leave the door open for accepting the argument of Socrates, as brought to life in the Phaedo, that the psūkhē is indeed immortal. So I agree with PLM when he says that Plato’s Phaedo does indeed make a good case for the immortality of the psūkhē, though I would disagree about the visualization of such immortalization. In terms of the Phaedo, I think that the immortalization is not being visualized in terms of reincarnation, as we see that concept played out in the Myth of Er at the end of Plato’s Republic, where the psūkhē comes back to life in some different body. Rather, in terms of the Phaedo, I think that the psūkhē comes back in the logos, that is, in the wording of the argument.   Notes Image by M. F. Mehnert via Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. … ... Read more

A plane tree in Nafplio: decorating a reader for travel-study in Greece, March 2018

… –118a, which situates these last words of Socrates: “Go,” said he [= Socrates], “and do as I say.” Crito, when he heard this, signaled with a nod to the boy servant who was standing nearby, and the servant went in, remaining for some time, and then came out with the man who was going to administer the poison [pharmakon]. He was carrying a cup that contained it, ground into the drink. When Socrates saw the man he said: “You, my good man, since you are experienced in these matters, should tell me what needs to be done.” The man answered: “You need to drink it, that’s all. Then walk around until you feel a heaviness |117b in your legs. Then lie down. This way, the poison will do its thing.” While the man was saying this, he handed the cup to Socrates. And Socrates took it in a cheerful way, not flinching or getting pale or grimacing. Then looking at the man from beneath his brows, like a bull – that was the way he used to look at people – he said: “What do you say about my pouring a libation out of this cup to someone? Is it allowed or not?” The man answered: “What we grind is measured out, Socrates, as the right dose for drinking.” “I understand,” he said, |117c “but surely it is allowed and even proper to pray to the gods so that my transfer of dwelling [met-oikēsis] from this world [enthende] to that world [ekeîse] should be fortunate. So, that is what I too am now praying for. Let it be this way.” And, while he was saying this, he took the cup to his lips and, quite readily and cheerfully, he drank down the whole dose. Up to this point, most of us had been able to control fairly well our urge to let our tears flow; but now when we saw him drinking the poison, and then saw him finish the drink, we could no longer hold back, and, in my case, quite against my own will, my own tears were now pouring out in a flood. So, I covered my face and had a good cry. You see, I was not crying for him, |117d but at the thought of my own bad fortune in having lost such a comrade [hetairos]. Crito, even before me, found himself unable to hold back his tears: so he got up and moved away. And Apollodorus, who had been weeping all along, now started to cry in a loud voice, expressing his frustration. So, he made everyone else break down and cry—except for Socrates himself. And he said: “What are you all doing? I am so surprised at you. I had sent away the women mainly because I did not want them |117e to lose control in this way. You see, I have heard that a man should come to his end [teleutân] in a way that calls for measured speaking [euphēmeîn]. So, you must have composure [hēsukhiā], and you must endure.” When we heard that, we were ashamed, and held back our tears. He meanwhile was walking around until, as he said, his legs began to get heavy, and then he lay on his back—that is what the man had told him to do. Then that same man who had given him the poison [pharmakon] took hold of him, now and then checking on his feet and legs; and after a while he pressed his foot hard and asked him if he could feel it; and he said that he couldn’t; and then he pressed his shins, |118a and so on, moving further up, thus demonstrating for us that he was cold and stiff. Then he [= Socrates] took hold of his own feet and legs, saying that when the poison reaches his heart, then he will be gone. He was beginning to get cold around the abdomen. Then he uncovered his face, for he had covered himself up, and said—this was the last thing he uttered—“Crito, I owe the sacrifice of a rooster to Asklepios; will you pay that debt and not neglect to do so?” “I will make it so,” said Crito, “and, tell me, is there anything else?” When Crito asked this question, no answer came back anymore from Socrates. In a short while, he stirred. Then the man uncovered his face. His eyes were set in a dead stare. Seeing this, Crito closed his mouth and his eyes. Such was the end [teleutē], Echecrates, of our comrade [hetairos]. And we may say about him that he was in his time the best [aristos] of all men we ever encountered—and the most intelligent [phronimos] and most just [dikaios]. §10C.5b. So I come back to my question about the meaning of the last words of Socrates, when he says, in his dying words: don’t forget to sacrifice a rooster to Asklepios. As I begin to formulate an answer, I must repeat something that I have already highlighted. It is the fact that the hero Asklepios was believed to have special powers of healing—even the power of bringing the dead back to life. As I point out in H24H 24§46, some interpret the final instruction of Socrates to mean simply that death is a cure for life. I disagree. After sacrificing a rooster at day’s end, sacrificers will sleep the sleep of incubation and then, the morning after the sacrifice, they will wake up to hear other roosters crowing. So, the words of Socrates here are referring to rituals of overnight incubation in the hero cults of Asklepios. §10C.6. The city of Epidaurus was famous for its hero cult of Asklepios. The space that was sacred to Asklepiosis enormous, and the enormity is a sure sign of the intense veneration received by Asklepios as the hero who, even though he is dead, has the superhuman power rescue you from death. The mystical logic of worshipping the dead Asklepios is that he died for humanity: he died because he had the power to bring humans back to life. §10C.7. So, Asklepios is the model for keeping the voice of the rooster alive. And, for Socrates, Asklepios can become the model for keeping the word alive. §10C.8. In H24H 24§47, I follow through on analyzing this idea of keeping the word from dying, of keeping the word alive. That living word, I argue, is dialogue. We can see it when Socrates says that the only thing worth crying about is the death of the word. I am about to quote another passage from Plato’s Phaedo, and again I will use my own translation. But before I quote the passage, here is the context: well before Socrates is forced to drink the hemlock, his followers are already mourning his impending death, and Socrates reacts to their sadness by telling them that the only thing that would be worth mourning is not his death but the death of the conversation he started with them. Calling out to one of his followers, Phaedo, Socrates tells him (Plato, Phaedo 89b): “Tomorrow, Phaedo, you will perhaps be cutting off these beautiful locks of yours [as a sign of mourning]?” “Yes, Socrates,” I [= Phaedo] replied, “I guess I will.” He shot back: “No you will not, if you listen to me.” “So, what will I do?” I [= Phaedo] said. He replied: “Not tomorrow but today I will cut off my own hair and you too will cut off these locks of yours – if our argument [logos] comes to an end [teleutân] for us and we cannot bring it back to life again [ana-biōsasthai]. What matters for Socrates, as I argue in H24H 24§48, is the resurrection of the ‘argument’ or logos, which means literally ‘word’, even if death may be the necessary pharmakon or ‘poison’ for leaving the everyday life and for entering the everlasting cycle of resurrecting the word. §10C.9a. In the 2015 book Masterpieces of Metonymy, published both online and in print, I study in Part One a traditional custom that prevailed in Plato’s Academy at Athens for centuries after the death of Socrates. Their custom was to celebrate the birthday of Socrates on the sixth day of the month Thargelion, which by their reckoning coincided with his death day. And they celebrated by engaging in Socratic dialogue, which for them was the logos that was resurrected every time people engage in Socratic dialogue. I go on to say in MoM 1§§146–147: For Plato and for Plato’s Socrates, the word logos refers to the living ‘word’ of dialogue in the context of philosophical argumentation. When Socrates in Plato’s Phaedo (89b) tells his followers who are mourning his impending death that they should worry not about his death but about the death of the logos—if this logos cannot be resurrected or ‘brought back to life’ (ana-biōsasthai)—he is speaking of the dialogic argumentation supporting the idea that the psūkhē or ‘soul’ is immortal. In this context, the logos itself is the ‘argument’. For Plato’s Socrates, it is less important that his psūkhē or ‘soul’ must be immortal, and it is vitally more important that the logos itself must remain immortal—or, at least, that the logos must be brought back to life. And that is because the logos itself, as I say, is the ‘argument’ that comes to life in dialogic argumentation. §10C.9b. Here is the way I would sum up, then, what Socrates means as he speaks his last words. When the sun goes down and you check in for sacred incubation at the precinct of Asklepios, you sacrifice a rooster to this hero who, even in death, has the power to bring you back to life. As you drift off to sleep at the place of incubation, the voice of that rooster is no longer heard. He is dead, and you are asleep. But then, as the sun comes up, you wake up to the voice of a new rooster signaling that morning is here, and this voice will be for you a sign that says: the word that died has come back to life again. Asklepios has once again shown his sacred power. The word is resurrected. The conversation may now continue. §10C.10. For more on the last words of Socrates, I refer to my essay “The Vow of Socrates,” 2015.04.17. §11. Agora Museum by Gregory Nagy CI_2016.06.24, rewritten 2018.03.05 §11.1. Three points to note: §11.1A. There is a display case showing a collection of small vials that must have contained doses of hemlock used for executions approved by the State of Athens. In this case as well, I return to my posting from 2015.03.27, entitled “The last words of Socrates at the place where he died.” The photograph of the display case was taken by Hunt Lambert. §11.1B. There is a terracotta plaque, dating back to the seventh century BCE or beyond, showing a female figure with the palms of both hands turned seemingly outward, straight at the viewer. Flanking the figure are two serpents: the one on our left is red and the one on our right is blue. The description “snake goddess,” applied to her by some, is not all that helpful. §11.1C. Outside the Museum, in the portico of the reconstructed “Stoa of Attalos,” there is a relief sculpture on a marble base, dated to the fourth century BCE, showing an “apobatic moment.” §12. Acropolis Museum by Gregory Nagy CI_2016.06.24, rewritten 2018.03.05 §12.0. We start at the southwest corner of the display showing the Parthenon Frieze, on the top floor of the Acropolis Museum. The Frieze and even the floor that contains the Frieze are aligned exactly with the Parthenon, which we can see looming up above on the Acropolis as we look out the window of the Museum. What do I mean by “alignment” here? Simply this: the north-south-east-west coordinates of the Frieze match exactly the original coordinates of the Parthenon itself. And the Acropolis Museum, situated on street-level to the south of the Acropolis looming above it, recreates in scale the entire Frieze as it had existed before its stonework was taken down in two phases. The first phase was the violent sawing-off that took place at the initiative of Thomas Bruce, also known as Lord Elgin, who dismantled and hauled off major portions of the Frieze along with other priceless artifacts within the years 1801 and 1812. What Elgin took down is now housed in the British Museum. The second phase was the scientifically-supervised removal and transfer of the remaining portions of the Frieze to their existing home on the top floor of the Acropolis Museum. These portions, now protected from the ravages of air pollution on the outside, are awaiting a hoped-for reintegration with their counterparts in the British Museum. §12.1. Three points to note: §12.1A. For the first point, I start at the southwest corner of the Parthenon Frieze: at this corner, the actions that are represented by the sculpted figures are split into two perspectives for viewing a parallel movement of exquisitely sculpted figures headed toward one single destination, which is the center of the east side of the Frieze. On the right side, the movement rounds the southwest corner and then heads for the East along the southern side of the Frieze. On the left side, the movement has a longer way to go: there are figures that move along the west side heading from South to North before rounding the northwest corner and then joining the left-hand side of the overall movement as it heads for the East along the northern side of the Frieze. What is all this “movement,” as I refer to it here? Primarily, it is a procession. In fact, it is the ultimate procession of the Athenians, generally known today as the Panathenaic Procession because it occurs at the Great Panathenaic Festival, celebrated every four years to honor the primary divinity of Athens, the goddess Athena. §12.1B. For the second point, I choose the blocks on the north side of the Panathenaic Frieze that represent scenes of apobatic chariot racing (blocks 11–29). What I mean is this: an armed athlete known as an apobatēs, which means literally, ‘the one who steps off’, is getting ready to jump off the platform of a speeding chariot driven by a fellow athlete, who is the charioteer. Although the Frieze represents primarily the Panathenaic Procession, not all of the events depicted in the relief sculptures of the frieze involve the actual procession. Although as I just said the primary event is the procession itself, the frieze also represents other events that were aspects of the Great Panathenaic Festival, including various forms of athletic events. A case in point is a set of depictions centering on apobatic chariot racing. As we know from a variety of sources, this kind of chariot racing was a major athletic event at the celebration of the Great Panathenaic Festival. Here is what I have to say about apobatic chariot racing at this festival in my book The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours (7b§§3–4): [H24H 7b§3.] In the relief sculptures of the Panathenaic Frieze of the Parthenon, we see twenty-one apobatic chariot teams on display, with eleven chariots featured on the north side (North XI–XXIX) and ten on the south side (South XXV–XXXV); in each case, the chariot is shown with four horses, a driver, and an apobatēs, who is wearing a helmet and a shield. The apobatai are shown in a variety of poses: stepping into the chariot, riding in the chariot, stepping out of the chariot, and running alongside the chariot; in two cases, the apobatai are evidently wearing a full set of armor. [H24H 7b§4.] What makes the feat of leaping into or out of a speeding chariot so commandingly distinctive is that the apobatēs executes his leap in the mode of an epic warrior. While the fellow athlete who drives the chariot is standing on the right side of the vehicle and wearing the full-length gown of a charioteer, the apobatēs standing on the left side wears a helmet and carries a shield. I focus here on the critical moment when the apobatic athlete, holding on to the shield with his left hand, starts loosening the grip of his right hand on the rail of the speeding chariot and then suddenly leaps to the ground. Weighted down by all this armor, the apobatēs must hit the ground running as he lands on his feet in his high-speed leap from the platform of his chariot. If his run is not broken in a fall, he continues to run down the length of the racecourse in competition with the other running apobatai, who have made their own leaps from their own chariots. §12.1C. For the third point, I choose a scene depicted at the center of the east side of the Panathenaic Frieze. Here we have reached the central scene in the wrap-around relief sculptures of the Frieze. I analyze this scene in Part Three of my book Masterpieces of Metonymy, and I provide here a link to the full text of my analysis, which goes from 3§1 all the way to 3§102. To read this text in its entirety, however, would take about a full hour, and I appreciate the fact that some of my readers will not have the time to go through my whole argumentation, step by step. One short-cut would be to read only 3§§32–102. An even shorter alternative would be to go from 3§32 only as far as 3§60. And the shortest alternative of them all would be to read only the epitome that follows, which takes us from 3§32 only as far as 3§39: [MoM 3§32.] The central scene of the Parthenon Frieze refers to an event that took place in the Panathenaic Procession. The sacred robe of Athena, called the Peplos, was paraded along the Sacred Way for all to see, and then it was finally presented to the goddess at the climax of the procession. That Peplos is the folded robe that we see pictured in the relief sculptures of Block 5 of the east side of the Parthenon Frieze. In terms of my argumentation, this robe is the one and the same sacred Peplos of Athena. Here is a line drawing of the scene: Relief sculpture: Block 5, east side of the Parthenon Frieze, Athens. British Museum. [MoM 3§33.] This relief sculpture is carved into a block (often called instead a “slab”) occupying the most prominent space of the Parthenon Frieze. This block, “Block 5,” features a sculpted scene picturing five human figures in all. The two figures that I show in the line drawing are situated on the right side of Block 5, and there are also three other figures on the left side. Framing both sides of Block 5 are the sculpted figures of seated gods, larger in size than the five humans. On our left, in Block 4, the gods Zeus and Hērā frame these humans, while in Block 6, on our right, the framing gods are Athena and Hephaistos. [MoM 3§34.] The scene picturing the five human figures in Block 5 has been described as “the high point” of the overall narrative of the Parthenon Frieze, “framed between the central columns of the temple façade” [Neils 2001:166], and “[i]t was here that the design [of the frieze] must have begun and for which an exceptionally long block [= Block 5] was ordered, quarried, and set into place.” [Neils p. 67]. The expert whom I have just quoted about Block 5 goes on to describe the narrative sculpted into this “exceptionally long block” as “important enough to dictate the layout of the entire frieze” into “two processional files” that converge on this narrative. When she says “two processional files” in her description, she makes it clear that she has in mind the overall narrative of the Parthenon Frieze, which she sees as a representation of the Panathenaic Procession at the festival of the Panathenaia. [MoM 3§35.] I have already noted the importance of this procession as the setting for the ritual presentation of the Peplos. I have more to say about the ritual presentation, as experts call it, but for now I concentrate on the Panathenaic Procession itself, as represented on the Parthenon Frieze. [MoM 3§36.] In emphasizing the importance of the narrative carved into Block 5 at the east side of the Frieze, the expert that I have already quoted is saying that the overall representation of the Panathenaic Procession converges on this one single narrative. In her wording, as we just saw, the Procession splits into “two processional files” proceeding eastward from the north and from the south sides of the Parthenon Frieze and then converging at the “high point” featuring the five human figures carved into Block 5 of the east side. [MoM 3§37.] But the narrative of this “high point” is problematic, since experts have till now been unable to shape a consensus about what it all means. From the standpoint of a casual viewer’s first impression, the five human figures of Block 5 may see unimpressive. But I think that all five of these human figures are in fact all-important. [MoM 3§38.] To back up this line of thinking, I start by concentrating on the two human figures positioned on the right side of Block 5, as shown in the line drawing. These two figures are pictured here in the act of holding on to a fabric as they face one another, and I agree with those who think that the two of them are participating in a ritualized act—an act that I have been describing up to now as the presentation of the Peplos. [MoM 3§39.] While I agree with the idea that this scene, as sculpted into Block 5 of the east side of the Parthenon Frieze, is picturing some kind of a ritual that features the presenting of the Peplos to Athena, I disagree with the further idea that this scene describes the ritual of such a presentation as it took place in the era when the Panathenaic Frieze was sculpted. Instead, I argue that the presentation of the Peplos in Block 5 follows the pattern of a myth that aetiologizes this ritual, and this argumentation takes me from 3§40 all the way to 3§102 in Masterpieces of Metonymy. And who are the two figures who are participating in such a myth? As we can see from the line drawing that I just showed, the figure on our left is a male adult, and the figure on our right is an adolescent, shorter than the corresponding adult by well over a head’s length. The gender of the adolescent is no longer clearly distinguishable, partly because the surface of the relief sculpture has been so massively eroded, but I argue in 3§§40–102 that this figure is female. I will leave it for the reader to decide whether or not to look up the step-by-step argumentation that I present there. §13. The Acropolis of Athens by Gregory Nagy CI_2016.06.24, rewritten 2018.03.05 §13.0. Proceeding upward to the Propylaea, which is the grand western entrance that leads into the upper ground of the Acropolis, we move along what was once a ramp instead of a set of stone steps. At one point, to our right, we can look through a “window” into the Mycenaean world: it is an opening in the fifth-century wall. Such openings were constructed deliberately to reveal the inner layer of “Cyclopean” wall-construction dating from a millennium earlier. §13.1. Seven major points to note, A B C D E F G, once we have finally reached the grounds of the Acropolis: A. After we have passed through the grand gateway of the Propylaea, we would see facing us, if it were still there, a gigantic bronze statue of the goddess Athena, made by the renowned sculptor Pheidias. I drew attention to the description by Pausanias: In addition to the works of art I have mentioned, there are two tithes [dekatai] dedicated by the Athenians after wars. There is first a bronze statue [agalma] of Athena, tithe [dekatē] from the [victory over the] Persians who landed at Marathon. It is the work [tekhnē] of Pheidias. [[…]] The point of the spear of this Athena and the crest of her helmet are already visible to those sailing to Athens as they pass by Cape Sounion. Pausanias 1.28.2 B. As we stand at the southwest corner of the Parthenon and look upward, we can see looming there some fragmentary horizontal stonework that marks the location of the Panathenaic Frieze. This frieze, created in the 440s BCE during the long-term building program that culminated in the Parthenon, was a masterpiece of relief sculpture that originally wrapped itself all the way around the inside of the Parthenon. I will have more to say about this masterpiece in a few minutes. For now, however, I simply note that the small part of the Panathenaic Frieze that we see from down below as we now look up at the southwest corner of the Parthenon is merely a copy, but it gives modern viewers a reasonable idea of what could be seen by ancient viewers in the Age of Pheidias, who supervised the massive building program initiated by Pericles for the Athenian Acropolis. The original stonework that is represented by the fragmentary copy that we see up above from down below—as well as the rest of the stonework that survives in Athens—can be viewed in the Acropolis Museum. C. Starting to walk counterclockwise around the Parthenon, we marvel at the prodigious architecture as we look to the left (including a view of the earlier layers of “Cyclopean” wall construction). D. As we keep walking ahead, we now look all the way down from the walls to the right and see below us the foundations of the Theater of Dionysus, to the left of which used to stand the Odeum (ōideion) of Pericles. The Theater was the primary venue for premiere performances of the tragedies composed by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. As for the Odeum, as I argue, it was the primary venue for performances of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey at Athens in the era of Pericles. [[HC 4§§173–180.]] The abbreviation HC stands for: Nagy, G. 2009|2008. Homer the Classic. Printed | Online version. Hellenic Studies 36. Cambridge, MA, and Washington, DC. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Homer_the_Classic.2008. E. We now round the southeast corner of the Parthenon and find ourselves facing the east side of the Parthenon. I will have more to say in a minute about this all-important stopping-point. F. But let me first describe what happens after this point. We walk toward the north of the Acropolis, heading for a building-complex known as the Erechtheum (Erekhtheion). On our way, we pass by the poorly-identifiable remains of the Old Temple of Athena. G. Here we descend the modern steps leading down to a lower level, where we confront the Temple of Poseidon. A stylized hole in the floor of this temple marks the place where a small pool fed by a salt-water spring once existed. In terms of the myths and rituals associated with this place, the pool was created when Poseidon violently struck the ground with his trident, and a mark of his divine action from above is a stylized hole in the roof, diagonally corresponding to the stylized hole in the floor. Photos by Heidi Hardner. §13.2. The first of the seven major points A B C D E F G that I have just now indicated, point A, was a gigantic bronze statue of Athena, made by Pheidias, which is no longer to be seen—but which was once upon a time the very first sight to dazzle visitors as they entered from the Propylaea into the high ground of the Acropolis. Now I must mention an even more dazzling sight: it is point E, the fifth point, in my sequence of A B C D E F G. This point E is the gigantic gold-and-ivory statue of Athena, also made by Pheidias, which had once been housed inside the Parthenon. As in the case of the bronze Athena, this gold-and-ivory Athena, one of the world’s greatest marvels of classical art, is no longer to be seen. To have lost the sight of this dazzling statue is arguably one of the greatest losses of civilization. At the moment when our travel-study group stands in front of the east side of the Parthenon, I invite us to imagine the spectacular moment, repeated every day at dawn, when the attendants of Athena opened her temple’s massive wooden door—and the first light of day would now be streaming into the inner darkness, gradually illuminating the gold-and-ivory figure of the goddess of Athens. This dazzling sight of Athena evidently made a deep impression on Pausanias, who describes what he saw in words that I quote here from my own translation: And now, as one enters the temple [nāos] that they name the Parthenon, all the things you see on what is called the [east] pediment [aetos] show the birth [genesis] of Athena, but on the rear [= west] pediment you see the strife [eris] between Athena and Poseidon over the ownership of the land [of Athens]. The statue [agalma] itself is made [poieîsthai] of ivory and gold. On the middle of her helmet [kranos] is placed a likeness [eikōn] of the Sphinx. [[…]] and on either side of the helmet [kranos] are griffins [grupes] in relief. {1.24.6} [[…]] {1.24.7} The statue [agalma] of Athena is standing [not seated], with a tunic [khitōn] reaching to the feet, and on her breast the head of Medusa is worked in ivory. She holds a [statue of] Nike about four cubits high, and in the other hand a spear [doru]; at her feet is placed a shield [aspis] and near the spear [doru] is a serpent [drakōn]. This serpent [drakōn] would be Erikhthonios. On the pedestal of the statue [agalma] is the birth of Pandora in relief. It has been said-in-poetry [poieîsthai] by Hesiod and others that this Pandora was the first woman; before Pandora was born there was as yet no womankind. Pausanias 1.24.5–7 §13.3. What happened to the statue of Athena? In my book Masterpieces of Metonymy (2015), I quote and analyze an ancient report that tells all about it. What follows is an epitome of what I present at 1§§122–125 in that book. The report starts with a man named Proclus, a famed neo-Platonic philosopher who lived in the fifth century CE, and the reporter is his faithful student, named Marinus, who composed a work known as The Life of Proclus. As we read in the report of Marinus (Life of Proclus 30), Proclus experienced in a special way the fate of the statue of Athena. This spectacular statue, which had been meant to dazzle for all eternity a never-ending stream of daily visitors approaching the Parthenon to get a glimpse of the goddess, was unceremoniously carted off by Christian zealots—never to be seen again. In the report of Marinus, this catastrophe for civilization is linked with an epiphany experienced by Proclus: How dear [pros-philēs] he [= Proclus] was to the goddess of philosophy [= Athena] was amply demonstrated by the fact that he chose for himself a philosophical life. But, even more than that, the goddess herself showed it when her statue, which had been until this time situated in the Parthenon, was removed by those [= the Christians] who move [kineîn] things that must not be moved [akinēta]. In a dream [onar], he [= Proclus] seemed to be seeing a woman of great beauty coming toward him and announcing to him that he must, as quickly as possible, get his home [oikiā] ready for her, “because the Athenian Lady wishes to live with you in your home [para soi].” Marinus Life of Proclus 30 §13.4. Goddesses have a way of talking like that. Even when they speak in the first person, they will refer to themselves in the third person. A classic example is the wording of Aphrodite in the Hippolytus of Euripides (verse 33). As we consider further the story about the epiphany of the goddess Athena, appearing as she does to Proclus in a dream, I need to highlight the fact that the goddess here is following up on an earlier epiphany experienced by the philosopher. As we are about to read in a passage extracted from an earlier point in The Life of Proclus, Athena appeared to the philosopher already in his youth, when he was still living in Constantinople. In this earlier epiphany, the goddess had invited young Proclus to embrace philosophy as his lifelong passion. I will now quote the wording of this story, calling attention in advance to a striking detail. As we are about to see, this epiphany is meant to explain why the philosopher developed a special feeling of intimacy with Athena as the goddess of wisdom, as the patroness of philosophy. Here, then, is the wording, which explains why Athena cared so much for Proclus from the very start: You see, she [= Athena] appeared [phainesthai] to him in a dream [onar] and summoned him to a life of philosophy. And I think that this is why he experienced such great familiarity [oikeiotēs] with the goddess. As a result, he especially adored her and was observant of her rituals [orgia] with more of a passionate intensity of divine possession [enthousiastikōteron]. Marinus Life of Proclus 6 §13.5. The intimacy that Proclus felt he shared with the goddess Athena is expressed here by the word oikeiotēs, which I translate as ‘familiarity’. To be familiar with something or someone is to be at home with that something or someone. After all, the adjective oikeio- is derived from the noun oikos, meaning ‘home’; a related noun is oikiā, likewise meaning ‘home’, which is used in the text I quoted earlier (Marinus Life of Proclus 30) when Athena at the moment of her epiphany tells Proclus that he must, as quickly as possible, get his oikiā ‘home’ ready for her. Here I return to the story about the removal of the statue of Athena from her home in the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis of Athens. As we saw in this story, Proclus experiences the sensory fusion of both seeing and hearing the goddess at the very moment when her statue is being permanently removed from sight. As her statue disappears forever, the goddess re-appears to Proclus in a final epiphany that recalls the primal epiphany that had bonded the philosopher to her forever. Though the statue of the goddess is gone, removed from her home in the Parthenon, the goddess of philosophy now finds for herself a new home in the heart of the philosopher who will love her forever and ever. §13.6. Here is a check-list of further views to be noted at the Acropolis: —The ‘Hill of the Muses’: as we ascend to the Acropolis, it can be seen off to the right, while looking down at the Odeum of Herodes Atticus. —The Pnyx: you see it as you turn around and look West just before you enter the Propylaea. (I deliberately format here in boldface: this place was the setting for the deliberations of the ekklēsiā, which was the Assembly of the Athenian Democracy.) —The olive tree of Athena, now of course replaced by a new olive tree: visible after we leave the Temple of Poseidon —Temple of Hephaistos: visible as we descend from the Acropolis —Cave of the Furies, known in Greek as the Erīnues or Eumenides: visible after the descent from the Acropolis —Areopagus or ‘Hill of Ares’: looming over the Cave, the ancient site for trials relating to homicide—and where the Apostle Paul once delivered a speech to the Athenians. Video by Lin Zhu of Day 5 of the trip: §14. National Archaeological Museum of Athens by Gregory Nagy GN CI_2016.06.24 [via 2016.06.17 via 2016.03.14], rewritten 2018.03.05 §14A. Three brief notations for slow reading: §14A.1. In a vast hall straight ahead as you enter, which houses Mycenaean antiquities, we find at the farther end of this hall a slanted-horizontal display case containing seals and sealings. One seal, found in a Mycenaean tholos tomb at Vapheio near Sparta, shows the image of a man in a long robe who is carrying a fenestrated axe (CMS I.225). This axe is shaped like a capital P with a vertical bar bisecting the semicircle attached to the straight line of the P. In a vertical display case nearby—it is to our right as we face the two posts from the “Treasury of Atreus”—we actually see the fenestrated axe (National Archaeological Museum inventory no. 1870): this object had been buried together with the seal that shows the picture of the man carrying the axe. And the man who is pictured on the seal is the same man who had been buried in the tomb containing both the axe and the seal that shows the man carrying the axe; in fact, the seal was attached to the man’s wrist (Yasur-Landau 2015:141). It has been observed about this axe that, by the time it was buried with its owner in the Mycenaean tomb at Vapheio, it was already “a centuries-old ceremonial weapon,” dating as far back as sometime between the 20th and 18th centuries BCE (Yasur-Landau pp. 139, 146); both the axe and the seal had been acquired from Minoan Crete (Yasur-Landau p. 141). §14A.2. Backtracking to the entrance to the museum … Instead of proceeding straight ahead as you enter the museum, there is an alternative route if you turn left. We find in the very first hall, to our right, a huge Geometric vase known as the Dipylon Amphora. Here is a utensil that has evolved into something so big that it has outgrown its utility as a utensil (in the present case, as an amphora). We focus on the patterns painted on the vase. They show natural figures that are human and animal and floral and so on, surrounded by decorative geometric figures. Represented at a centerpoint of the vase is the human figure of a dead body lying on a bier, surrounded by other human figures who are making gestures of lamentation. The primary gesture centers on the raising of the two arms, pointing them straight up from the elbow. Shown hanging over the bier on which the dead body rests is an expansive fabric, and the painting here represents the pattern-weaving of this fabric in a stylized way. In real pattern-weaving, the patterns woven into a fabric would represent natural figures that are human and animal and floral and so on, surrounded by decorative geometric figures. So, the world that is pictured by way of pattern-weaving matches the world that is pictured by way of Geometric vase-painting. But in the vase-painting here that represents a fabric that would have shown the many varieties of such woven figures, what is shown instead is merely a checkerboard patterning. So, the painting represents the variety of what is seen in a pattern-weave by way of a simple alternation of black and white squares. As for the human figures that are being represented in the paintings on the vase, lozenge-shapes are used for representing parts of the body. For example, the chest of a human figure is represented as an upside-down triangle. In pattern-weaving, such lozenge-shapes are typical in representing parts of the human body. That is why I think that the techniques of painting figures on Geometric vases are modeled on techniques of pattern-weaving figures into fabrics. If my thinking here is valid, then it is fair to say that the art of Geometric pottery-painting, presumably performed by professional men, is modeled in some ways on the art of pattern-weaving, presumably performed by non-professional women. §14A.3. Further along in a nearby hall is the statue of a girl named Phrasikleia, standing on a base that bears an inscription that tells about the statue. Evidently, the statue and its base were once markers of a tomb. The statue of this girl was buried sometime between 530 and 510 BCE or so, evidently to protect it from destruction or defacement by political enemies of the girl’s aristocratic family. The base of the statue was not buried but survived independently. The statue, once it was buried and thus hidden away, remained undetected for some 2,500 years, until it was finally unearthed in 1972 at a place called Merenda outside the city of Athens. Reunited with its base at the Museum, this statue (inv. no. 4889) represents one of the most exquisite pieces of archaic art, and it preserves most aspects of the artistry that went into its creation, including a wide range of colors. An inscription on the base of the statue tells the story of Phrasikleia: σεμα Φρασικλειας·
 | κορε κεκλεσομαι
 | αιει αντι γαμο
 | παρα θεον τουτο
 | λαχοσ᾿ ονομα This is the marker [sēma] of Phrasikleia. ‘Girl’ [korē] is what I will be called for all time to come. Instead of marriage, I have been fated by the gods to have this name. (The base of the statue is also inscribed with the name of the sculptor: Aristion of Paros.) The unopened flower that the girl holds in her hand is to be contrasted with the opened flowers, intertwined with flower buds, that we see woven into the garland adorning her hair. Many experts think that the flower she holds forever is a lotus, which closes at night—only to open every morning with the coming of daylight. The name of the girl, Phrasikleia, contains the word kleos, which indicates poetic ‘glory’, and this name ‘points’, as indicated by phrasi-, to an eternal glory that is promised her by the poetry of the inscription whenever its inscribed words are read out loud by a passerby (Svenbro 1988:12–25). §14B. Here is check-list of further points of interest to be noted in the Museum: §14B.1. As you enter the Museum, to the right, there is a hall featuring Cycladic art. I drew attention to two figurines, placed next to each other in a display case: one figurine represents the player of a string instrument, prototype of the kitharā, while the other represents the player of a wind instrument, prototype of the aulos. These two instruments were the essential accompaniment for most forms of song and dance in the later periods of the second and first millennia BCE and beyond. §14B.2. As you enter the Museum, straight ahead is the grand hall containing artifacts from the Mycenaean era. Introducing all the displays are slabs from Grave Circle A of Mycenae, placed in the foreground of the hall. Just as these slabs are now the prime markers for the prestige of the Museum, they used to be prime markers for the prestige of Mycenaean civilization. I noted the hunting scenes depicted on the surfaces of the slabs. Grave Circle A is dated to the sixteenth century BCE. §14B.3. I note, in passing, the golden death mask of “Agamemnon”; inside the same display-case are two exquisite daggers that I also note in passing. From here on, I will just say “note,” not “I note.” §14B.4. Note the depiction, on a rhyton (#8 in the relevant display-case), of a wartime siege that is evidently cognate with depictions of sieges in the verbal art of Homeric poetry. I speak here of a cognate relationship between the visual arts and the verbal arts. I use the word “cognate” here to indicate that these two forms of art, visual and verbal, are related to each other, yes, but there is no need to suppose that the visual arts are dependent on the verbal arts—or vice versa. §14B.5. Note a set of gold-leaf scales (#9 in the relevant display-case) buried along with the bodies of aristocratic women in Shaft Grave III of Grave Circle A of Mycenae. Among the decorations on the gold-leaf “weights” that accompanied the scales were representations of butterflies or moths, the word for which in Classical Greek is psūkhē; other meanings for this word in Classical Greek include ‘breath of life’ or ‘spirit’ or even ‘soul’. Comparing the expression “life hangs in the balance,” I argue for the significance of representing a moth or butterfly as a “weight” to be weighed at the moment of death. There is a cognate idea in Homeric poetry, as in Iliad 22.208–213, where Zeus is weighing on his golden scales the lives of Achilles and Hector, and the technical word for this idea is psūkho-stasiā, meaning ‘weighing of the psūkhē’ on a set of scales. §14B.6. Note a particularly large seal-ring on display, featuring a depiction of what archaeologists guardedly describe as a “religious scene.” §14B.7. Note the displays of fresco paintings of two figure-eight shields, featuring representations of the natural patterning of spots to be found on the hides of most cows: the shields made from cowhide in the Mycenaean era preserve such natural patterning, and the artistic representations of the cowhide shields transmit naturalistically the same patterning. On the idea of a cowhide shield as an exteriorization of the interior heroic self, you can read about it in Nagy 1990b:263–265. §14B.8. Note the “Warrior Vase,” dating from the late Mycenaean period, depicting uniformed helmeted warriors heading off to war. Behind them is the figure of a woman with outstretched arms. This gesture signifies the performance of lament. §14B.9. A boar’s-tusk-helmet. Photo by Hélène Emeriaud.   §14C. Here are still further points of interest in the Museum: §14C.1. Note in passing the bronze statue of the bearded male figure throwing… a trident? … a thunderbolt? §14C.2. Note in passing another relief sculpture representing “the apobatic moment.” Relevant analysis in Classical Inquiries 2016.06.24 at §9.1B. Also at §11.1C. §14C.3. Note in passing a relief sculpture showing a warrior mourning himself. He is a “marine,” whose task would have been to fight in hand-to-hand combat by boarding the decks of enemy ships in naval battles. Evidently, this marine had been lost at sea, and now we see him sitting sadly on a headland overlooking the watery blue expanse that will not release his body for a proper burial in Mother Earth. The headland is eerily shaped like the prow of a battleship. And the person who is sitting there dejectedly on that headland is not really a person. Rather, he is a kind of disembodied self who is sadly contemplating the irretrievable loss of his own body at sea. §14D. We proceed to the upper floor of the Museum, and I select only a small sampling of the many wonders to be seen here. In this case, I will offer only a minimalist description of each sampling: §14D.1. [[The revised observations here stem from a new visit by GN, 2018.06.24.]] Geometric vase featuring an image of two lyre-players (the lyre in this case looks like a kitharā), and each one of the two is sitting on a stool (equivalent of a diphros). #15842. §14D.2. [[The revised observations here stem from a new visit by GN, 2018.06.24.]] Geometric vase featuring an image of a chariot with a warrior standing on the platform. #806. §14D.3. [[The revised observations here stem from a new visit by GN, 2018.06.24.]] Geometric vase featuring an image of a funerary carriage, flanked on either side by chariots with warriors standing on the platforms; the rails on the left and the right of the chariots are accentuated. #990. §14D.4. Geometric vase featuring an image of a “mistress of animals.” The date on the label: around 675–650 BCE. #355. §14D.5. On a terracotta decoration … ... Read more

A reader for travel-study in Greece

… –118a, which situates these last words of Socrates: “Go,” said he [= Socrates], “and do as I say.” Crito, when he heard this, signaled with a nod to the boy servant who was standing nearby, and the servant went in, remaining for some time, and then came out with the man who was going to administer the poison [pharmakon]. He was carrying a cup that contained it, ground into the drink. When Socrates saw the man he said: “You, my good man, since you are experienced in these matters, should tell me what needs to be done.” The man answered: “You need to drink it, that’s all. Then walk around until you feel a heaviness |117b in your legs. Then lie down. This way, the poison will do its thing.” While the man was saying this, he handed the cup to Socrates. And Socrates took it in a cheerful way, not flinching or getting pale or grimacing. Then looking at the man from beneath his brows, like a bull – that was the way he used to look at people – he said: “What do you say about my pouring a libation out of this cup to someone? Is it allowed or not?” The man answered: “What we grind is measured out, Socrates, as the right dose for drinking.” “I understand,” he said, |117c “but surely it is allowed and even proper to pray to the gods so that my transfer of dwelling [met-oikēsis] from this world [enthende] to that world [ekeîse] should be fortunate. So, that is what I too am now praying for. Let it be this way.” And, while he was saying this, he took the cup to his lips and, quite readily and cheerfully, he drank down the whole dose. Up to this point, most of us had been able to control fairly well our urge to let our tears flow; but now when we saw him drinking the poison, and then saw him finish the drink, we could no longer hold back, and, in my case, quite against my own will, my own tears were now pouring out in a flood. So, I covered my face and had a good cry. You see, I was not crying for him, |117d but at the thought of my own bad fortune in having lost such a comrade [hetairos]. Crito, even before me, found himself unable to hold back his tears: so he got up and moved away. And Apollodorus, who had been weeping all along, now started to cry in a loud voice, expressing his frustration. So, he made everyone else break down and cry—except for Socrates himself. And he said: “What are you all doing? I am so surprised at you. I had sent away the women mainly because I did not want them |117e to lose control in this way. You see, I have heard that a man should come to his end [teleutân] in a way that calls for measured speaking [euphēmeîn]. So, you must have composure [hēsukhiā], and you must endure.” When we heard that, we were ashamed, and held back our tears. He meanwhile was walking around until, as he said, his legs began to get heavy, and then he lay on his back—that is what the man had told him to do. Then that same man who had given him the poison [pharmakon] took hold of him, now and then checking on his feet and legs; and after a while he pressed his foot hard and asked him if he could feel it; and he said that he couldn’t; and then he pressed his shins, |118a and so on, moving further up, thus demonstrating for us that he was cold and stiff. Then he [= Socrates] took hold of his own feet and legs, saying that when the poison reaches his heart, then he will be gone. He was beginning to get cold around the abdomen. Then he uncovered his face, for he had covered himself up, and said—this was the last thing he uttered—“Crito, I owe the sacrifice of a rooster to Asklepios; will you pay that debt and not neglect to do so?” “I will make it so,” said Crito, “and, tell me, is there anything else?” When Crito asked this question, no answer came back anymore from Socrates. In a short while, he stirred. Then the man uncovered his face. His eyes were set in a dead stare. Seeing this, Crito closed his mouth and his eyes. Such was the end [teleutē], Echecrates, of our comrade [hetairos]. And we may say about him that he was in his time the best [aristos] of all men we ever encountered—and the most intelligent [phronimos] and most just [dikaios]. §10C.5b. So I come back to my question about the meaning of the last words of Socrates, when he says, in his dying words: don’t forget to sacrifice a rooster to Asklepios. As I begin to formulate an answer, I must repeat something that I have already highlighted. It is the fact that the hero Asklepios was believed to have special powers of healing—even the power of bringing the dead back to life. As I point out in H24H 24§46, some interpret the final instruction of Socrates to mean simply that death is a cure for life. I disagree. After sacrificing a rooster at day’s end, sacrificers will sleep the sleep of incubation and then, the morning after the sacrifice, they will wake up to hear other roosters crowing. So, the words of Socrates here are referring to rituals of overnight incubation in the hero cults of Asklepios. §10C.6. The city of Epidaurus was famous for its hero cult of Asklepios. The space that was sacred to Asklepiosis enormous, and the enormity is a sure sign of the intense veneration received by Asklepios as the hero who, even though he is dead, has the superhuman power rescue you from death. The mystical logic of worshipping the dead Asklepios is that he died for humanity: he died because he had the power to bring humans back to life. §10C.7. So, Asklepios is the model for keeping the voice of the rooster alive. And, for Socrates, Asklepios can become the model for keeping the word alive. §10C.8. In H24H 24§47, I follow through on analyzing this idea of keeping the word from dying, of keeping the word alive. That living word, I argue, is dialogue. We can see it when Socrates says that the only thing worth crying about is the death of the word. I am about to quote another passage from Plato’s Phaedo, and again I will use my own translation. But before I quote the passage, here is the context: well before Socrates is forced to drink the hemlock, his followers are already mourning his impending death, and Socrates reacts to their sadness by telling them that the only thing that would be worth mourning is not his death but the death of the conversation he started with them. Calling out to one of his followers, Phaedo, Socrates tells him (Plato, Phaedo 89b): “Tomorrow, Phaedo, you will perhaps be cutting off these beautiful locks of yours [as a sign of mourning]?” “Yes, Socrates,” I [= Phaedo] replied, “I guess I will.” He shot back: “No you will not, if you listen to me.” “So, what will I do?” I [= Phaedo] said. He replied: “Not tomorrow but today I will cut off my own hair and you too will cut off these locks of yours – if our argument [logos] comes to an end [teleutân] for us and we cannot bring it back to life again [ana-biōsasthai]. What matters for Socrates, as I argue in H24H 24§48, is the resurrection of the ‘argument’ or logos, which means literally ‘word’, even if death may be the necessary pharmakon or ‘poison’ for leaving the everyday life and for entering the everlasting cycle of resurrecting the word. §10C.9a. In the 2015 book Masterpieces of Metonymy, published both online and in print, I study in Part One a traditional custom that prevailed in Plato’s Academy at Athens for centuries after the death of Socrates. Their custom was to celebrate the birthday of Socrates on the sixth day of the month Thargelion, which by their reckoning coincided with his death day. And they celebrated by engaging in Socratic dialogue, which for them was the logos that was resurrected every time people engage in Socratic dialogue. I go on to say in MoM 1§§146–147: For Plato and for Plato’s Socrates, the word logos refers to the living ‘word’ of dialogue in the context of philosophical argumentation. When Socrates in Plato’s Phaedo (89b) tells his followers who are mourning his impending death that they should worry not about his death but about the death of the logos—if this logos cannot be resurrected or ‘brought back to life’ (ana-biōsasthai)—he is speaking of the dialogic argumentation supporting the idea that the psūkhē or ‘soul’ is immortal. In this context, the logos itself is the ‘argument’. For Plato’s Socrates, it is less important that his psūkhē or ‘soul’ must be immortal, and it is vitally more important that the logos itself must remain immortal—or, at least, that the logos must be brought back to life. And that is because the logos itself, as I say, is the ‘argument’ that comes to life in dialogic argumentation. §10C.9b. Here is the way I would sum up, then, what Socrates means as he speaks his last words. When the sun goes down and you check in for sacred incubation at the precinct of Asklepios, you sacrifice a rooster to this hero who, even in death, has the power to bring you back to life. As you drift off to sleep at the place of incubation, the voice of that rooster is no longer heard. He is dead, and you are asleep. But then, as the sun comes up, you wake up to the voice of a new rooster signaling that morning is here, and this voice will be for you a sign that says: the word that died has come back to life again. Asklepios has once again shown his sacred power. The word is resurrected. The conversation may now continue. §10C.10. For more on the last words of Socrates, I refer to my essay “The Vow of Socrates,” 2015.04.17. §11 Agora Museum by Gregory Nagy CI_2016.06.24, rewritten 2018.03.05 §11.1. Three points to note: §11.1A. There is a display case showing a collection of small vials that must have contained doses of hemlock used for executions approved by the State of Athens. In this case as well, I return to my posting from 2015.03.27, entitled “The last words of Socrates at the place where he died.” The photograph of the display case was taken by Hunt Lambert. §11.1B. There is a terracotta plaque, dating back to the seventh century BCE or beyond, showing a female figure with the palms of both hands turned seemingly outward, straight at the viewer. Flanking the figure are two serpents: the one on our left is red and the one on our right is blue. The description “snake goddess,” applied to her by some, is not all that helpful. §11.1C. Outside the Museum, in the portico of the reconstructed “Stoa of Attalos,” there is a relief sculpture on a marble base, dated to the fourth century BCE, showing an “apobatic moment.” §12 Acropolis Museum by Gregory Nagy CI_2016.06.24, rewritten 2018.03.05 §12.0. We start at the southwest corner of the display showing the Parthenon Frieze, on the top floor of the Acropolis Museum. The Frieze and even the floor that contains the Frieze are aligned exactly with the Parthenon, which we can see looming up above on the Acropolis as we look out the window of the Museum. What do I mean by “alignment” here? Simply this: the north-south-east-west coordinates of the Frieze match exactly the original coordinates of the Parthenon itself. And the Acropolis Museum, situated on street-level to the south of the Acropolis looming above it, recreates in scale the entire Frieze as it had existed before its stonework was taken down in two phases. The first phase was the violent sawing-off that took place at the initiative of Thomas Bruce, also known as Lord Elgin, who dismantled and hauled off major portions of the Frieze along with other priceless artifacts within the years 1801 and 1812. What Elgin took down is now housed in the British Museum. The second phase was the scientifically-supervised removal and transfer of the remaining portions of the Frieze to their existing home on the top floor of the Acropolis Museum. These portions, now protected from the ravages of air pollution on the outside, are awaiting a hoped-for reintegration with their counterparts in the British Museum. §12.1. Three points to note: §12.1A. For the first point, I start at the southwest corner of the Parthenon Frieze: at this corner, the actions that are represented by the sculpted figures are split into two perspectives for viewing a parallel movement of exquisitely sculpted figures headed toward one single destination, which is the center of the east side of the Frieze. On the right side, the movement rounds the southwest corner and then heads for the East along the southern side of the Frieze. On the left side, the movement has a longer way to go: there are figures that move along the west side heading from South to North before rounding the northwest corner and then joining the left-hand side of the overall movement as it heads for the East along the northern side of the Frieze. What is all this “movement,” as I refer to it here? Primarily, it is a procession. In fact, it is the ultimate procession of the Athenians, generally known today as the Panathenaic Procession because it occurs at the Great Panathenaic Festival, celebrated every four years to honor the primary divinity of Athens, the goddess Athena. §12.1B. For the second point, I choose the blocks on the north side of the Panathenaic Frieze that represent scenes of apobatic chariot racing (blocks 11–29). What I mean is this: an armed athlete known as an apobatēs, which means literally, ‘the one who steps off’, is getting ready to jump off the platform of a speeding chariot driven by a fellow athlete, who is the charioteer. Although the Frieze represents primarily the Panathenaic Procession, not all of the events depicted in the relief sculptures of the frieze involve the actual procession. Although as I just said the primary event is the procession itself, the frieze also represents other events that were aspects of the Great Panathenaic Festival, including various forms of athletic events. A case in point is a set of depictions centering on apobatic chariot racing. As we know from a variety of sources, this kind of chariot racing was a major athletic event at the celebration of the Great Panathenaic Festival. Here is what I have to say about apobatic chariot racing at this festival in my book The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours (7b§§3–4): [H24H 7b§3.] In the relief sculptures of the Panathenaic Frieze of the Parthenon, we see twenty-one apobatic chariot teams on display, with eleven chariots featured on the north side (North XI–XXIX) and ten on the south side (South XXV–XXXV); in each case, the chariot is shown with four horses, a driver, and an apobatēs, who is wearing a helmet and a shield. The apobatai are shown in a variety of poses: stepping into the chariot, riding in the chariot, stepping out of the chariot, and running alongside the chariot; in two cases, the apobatai are evidently wearing a full set of armor. [H24H 7b§4.] What makes the feat of leaping into or out of a speeding chariot so commandingly distinctive is that the apobatēs executes his leap in the mode of an epic warrior. While the fellow athlete who drives the chariot is standing on the right side of the vehicle and wearing the full-length gown of a charioteer, the apobatēs standing on the left side wears a helmet and carries a shield. I focus here on the critical moment when the apobatic athlete, holding on to the shield with his left hand, starts loosening the grip of his right hand on the rail of the speeding chariot and then suddenly leaps to the ground. Weighted down by all this armor, the apobatēs must hit the ground running as he lands on his feet in his high-speed leap from the platform of his chariot. If his run is not broken in a fall, he continues to run down the length of the racecourse in competition with the other running apobatai, who have made their own leaps from their own chariots. §12.1C. For the third point, I choose a scene depicted at the center of the east side of the Panathenaic Frieze. Here we have reached the central scene in the wrap-around relief sculptures of the Frieze. I analyze this scene in Part Three of my book Masterpieces of Metonymy, and I provide here a link to the full text of my analysis, which goes from 3§1 all the way to 3§102. To read this text in its entirety, however, would take about a full hour, and I appreciate the fact that some of my readers will not have the time to go through my whole argumentation, step by step. One short-cut would be to read only 3§§32–102. An even shorter alternative would be to go from 3§32 only as far as 3§60. And the shortest alternative of them all would be to read only the epitome that follows, which takes us from 3§32 only as far as 3§39: [MoM 3§32.] The central scene of the Parthenon Frieze refers to an event that took place in the Panathenaic Procession. The sacred robe of Athena, called the Peplos, was paraded along the Sacred Way for all to see, and then it was finally presented to the goddess at the climax of the procession. That Peplos is the folded robe that we see pictured in the relief sculptures of Block 5 of the east side of the Parthenon Frieze. In terms of my argumentation, this robe is the one and the same sacred Peplos of Athena. Here is a line drawing of the scene: Relief sculpture: Block 5, east side of the Parthenon Frieze, Athens. British Museum. [MoM 3§33.] This relief sculpture is carved into a block (often called instead a “slab”) occupying the most prominent space of the Parthenon Frieze. This block, “Block 5,” features a sculpted scene picturing five human figures in all. The two figures that I show in the line drawing are situated on the right side of Block 5, and there are also three other figures on the left side. Framing both sides of Block 5 are the sculpted figures of seated gods, larger in size than the five humans. On our left, in Block 4, the gods Zeus and Hērā frame these humans, while in Block 6, on our right, the framing gods are Athena and Hephaistos. [MoM 3§34.] The scene picturing the five human figures in Block 5 has been described as “the high point” of the overall narrative of the Parthenon Frieze, “framed between the central columns of the temple façade” [Neils 2001:166], and “[i]t was here that the design [of the frieze] must have begun and for which an exceptionally long block [= Block 5] was ordered, quarried, and set into place.” [Neils p. 67]. The expert whom I have just quoted about Block 5 goes on to describe the narrative sculpted into this “exceptionally long block” as “important enough to dictate the layout of the entire frieze” into “two processional files” that converge on this narrative. When she says “two processional files” in her description, she makes it clear that she has in mind the overall narrative of the Parthenon Frieze, which she sees as a representation of the Panathenaic Procession at the festival of the Panathenaia. [MoM 3§35.] I have already noted the importance of this procession as the setting for the ritual presentation of the Peplos. I have more to say about the ritual presentation, as experts call it, but for now I concentrate on the Panathenaic Procession itself, as represented on the Parthenon Frieze. [MoM 3§36.] In emphasizing the importance of the narrative carved into Block 5 at the east side of the Frieze, the expert that I have already quoted is saying that the overall representation of the Panathenaic Procession converges on this one single narrative. In her wording, as we just saw, the Procession splits into “two processional files” proceeding eastward from the north and from the south sides of the Parthenon Frieze and then converging at the “high point” featuring the five human figures carved into Block 5 of the east side. [MoM 3§37.] But the narrative of this “high point” is problematic, since experts have till now been unable to shape a consensus about what it all means. From the standpoint of a casual viewer’s first impression, the five human figures of Block 5 may see unimpressive. But I think that all five of these human figures are in fact all-important. [MoM 3§38.] To back up this line of thinking, I start by concentrating on the two human figures positioned on the right side of Block 5, as shown in the line drawing. These two figures are pictured here in the act of holding on to a fabric as they face one another, and I agree with those who think that the two of them are participating in a ritualized act—an act that I have been describing up to now as the presentation of the Peplos. [MoM 3§39.] While I agree with the idea that this scene, as sculpted into Block 5 of the east side of the Parthenon Frieze, is picturing some kind of a ritual that features the presenting of the Peplos to Athena, I disagree with the further idea that this scene describes the ritual of such a presentation as it took place in the era when the Panathenaic Frieze was sculpted. Instead, I argue that the presentation of the Peplos in Block 5 follows the pattern of a myth that aetiologizes this ritual, and this argumentation takes me from 3§40 all the way to 3§102 in Masterpieces of Metonymy. And who are the two figures who are participating in such a myth? As we can see from the line drawing that I just showed, the figure on our left is a male adult, and the figure on our right is an adolescent, shorter than the corresponding adult by well over a head’s length. The gender of the adolescent is no longer clearly distinguishable, partly because the surface of the relief sculpture has been so massively eroded, but I argue in 3§§40–102 that this figure is female. I will leave it for the reader to decide whether or not to look up the step-by-step argumentation that I present there. §13 The Acropolis of Athens by Gregory Nagy CI_2016.06.24, rewritten 2018.03.05 §13.0. Proceeding upward to the Propylaea, which is the grand western entrance that leads into the upper ground of the Acropolis, we move along what was once a ramp instead of a set of stone steps. At one point, to our right, we can look through a “window” into the Mycenaean world: it is an opening in the fifth-century wall. Such openings were constructed deliberately to reveal the inner layer of “Cyclopean” wall-construction dating from a millennium earlier. §13.1. Seven major points to note, A B C D E F G, once we have finally reached the grounds of the Acropolis: A. After we have passed through the grand gateway of the Propylaea, we would see facing us, if it were still there, a gigantic bronze statue of the goddess Athena, made by the renowned sculptor Pheidias. I drew attention to the description by Pausanias: In addition to the works of art I have mentioned, there are two tithes [dekatai] dedicated by the Athenians after wars. There is first a bronze statue [agalma] of Athena, tithe [dekatē] from the [victory over the] Persians who landed at Marathon. It is the work [tekhnē] of Pheidias. [[…]] The point of the spear of this Athena and the crest of her helmet are already visible to those sailing to Athens as they pass by Cape Sounion. Pausanias 1.28.2 B. As we stand at the southwest corner of the Parthenon and look upward, we can see looming there some fragmentary horizontal stonework that marks the location of the Panathenaic Frieze. This frieze, created in the 440s BCE during the long-term building program that culminated in the Parthenon, was a masterpiece of relief sculpture that originally wrapped itself all the way around the inside of the Parthenon. I will have more to say about this masterpiece in a few minutes. For now, however, I simply note that the small part of the Panathenaic Frieze that we see from down below as we now look up at the southwest corner of the Parthenon is merely a copy, but it gives modern viewers a reasonable idea of what could be seen by ancient viewers in the Age of Pheidias, who supervised the massive building program initiated by Pericles for the Athenian Acropolis. The original stonework that is represented by the fragmentary copy that we see up above from down below—as well as the rest of the stonework that survives in Athens—can be viewed in the Acropolis Museum. C. Starting to walk counterclockwise around the Parthenon, we marvel at the prodigious architecture as we look to the left (including a view of the earlier layers of “Cyclopean” wall construction). D. As we keep walking ahead, we now look all the way down from the walls to the right and see below us the foundations of the Theater of Dionysus, to the left of which used to stand the Odeum (ōideion) of Pericles. The Theater was the primary venue for premiere performances of the tragedies composed by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. As for the Odeum, as I argue, it was the primary venue for performances of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey at Athens in the era of Pericles. [[HC 4§§173–180.]] The abbreviation HC stands for: Nagy, G. 2009|2008. Homer the Classic. Printed | Online version. Hellenic Studies 36. Cambridge, MA, and Washington, DC. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Homer_the_Classic.2008. E. We now round the southeast corner of the Parthenon and find ourselves facing the east side of the Parthenon. I will have more to say in a minute about this all-important stopping-point. F. But let me first describe what happens after this point. We walk toward the north of the Acropolis, heading for a building-complex known as the Erechtheum (Erekhtheion). On our way, we pass by the poorly-identifiable remains of the Old Temple of Athena. G. Here we descend the modern steps leading down to a lower level, where we confront the Temple of Poseidon. A stylized hole in the floor of this temple marks the place where a small pool fed by a salt-water spring once existed. In terms of the myths and rituals associated with this place, the pool was created when Poseidon violently struck the ground with his trident, and a mark of his divine action from above is a stylized hole in the roof, diagonally corresponding to the stylized hole in the floor. §13.2. The first of the seven major points A B C D E F G that I have just now indicated, point A, was a gigantic bronze statue of Athena, made by Pheidias, which is no longer to be seen—but which was once upon a time the very first sight to dazzle visitors as they entered from the Propylaea into the high ground of the Acropolis. Now I must mention an even more dazzling sight: it is point E, the fifth point, in my sequence of A B C D E F G. This point E is the gigantic gold-and-ivory statue of Athena, also made by Pheidias, which had once been housed inside the Parthenon. As in the case of the bronze Athena, this gold-and-ivory Athena, one of the world’s greatest marvels of classical art, is no longer to be seen. To have lost the sight of this dazzling statue is arguably one of the greatest losses of civilization. At the moment when our travel-study group stands in front of the east side of the Parthenon, I invite us to imagine the spectacular moment, repeated every day at dawn, when the attendants of Athena opened her temple’s massive wooden door—and the first light of day would now be streaming into the inner darkness, gradually illuminating the gold-and-ivory figure of the goddess of Athens. This dazzling sight of Athena evidently made a deep impression on Pausanias, who describes what he saw in words that I quote here from my own translation: And now, as one enters the temple [nāos] that they name the Parthenon, all the things you see on what is called the [east] pediment [aetos] show the birth [genesis] of Athena, but on the rear [= west] pediment you see the strife [eris] between Athena and Poseidon over the ownership of the land [of Athens]. The statue [agalma] itself is made [poieîsthai] of ivory and gold. On the middle of her helmet [kranos] is placed a likeness [eikōn] of the Sphinx. [[…]] and on either side of the helmet [kranos] are griffins [grupes] in relief. {1.24.6} [[…]] {1.24.7} The statue [agalma] of Athena is standing [not seated], with a tunic [khitōn] reaching to the feet, and on her breast the head of Medusa is worked in ivory. She holds a [statue of] Nike about four cubits high, and in the other hand a spear [doru]; at her feet is placed a shield [aspis] and near the spear [doru] is a serpent [drakōn]. This serpent [drakōn] would be Erikhthonios. On the pedestal of the statue [agalma] is the birth of Pandora in relief. It has been said-in-poetry [poieîsthai] by Hesiod and others that this Pandora was the first woman; before Pandora was born there was as yet no womankind. Pausanias 1.24.5–7 §13.3. What happened to the statue of Athena? In my book Masterpieces of Metonymy (2015), I quote and analyze an ancient report that tells all about it. What follows is an epitome of what I present at 1§§122–125 in that book. The report starts with a man named Proclus, a famed neo-Platonic philosopher who lived in the fifth century CE, and the reporter is his faithful student, named Marinus, who composed a work known as The Life of Proclus. As we read in the report of Marinus (Life of Proclus 30), Proclus experienced in a special way the fate of the statue of Athena. This spectacular statue, which had been meant to dazzle for all eternity a never-ending stream of daily visitors approaching the Parthenon to get a glimpse of the goddess, was unceremoniously carted off by Christian zealots—never to be seen again. In the report of Marinus, this catastrophe for civilization is linked with an epiphany experienced by Proclus: How dear [pros-philēs] he [= Proclus] was to the goddess of philosophy [= Athena] was amply demonstrated by the fact that he chose for himself a philosophical life. But, even more than that, the goddess herself showed it when her statue, which had been until this time situated in the Parthenon, was removed by those [= the Christians] who move [kineîn] things that must not be moved [akinēta]. In a dream [onar], he [= Proclus] seemed to be seeing a woman of great beauty coming toward him and announcing to him that he must, as quickly as possible, get his home [oikiā] ready for her, “because the Athenian Lady wishes to live with you in your home [para soi].” Marinus Life of Proclus 30 §13.4. Goddesses have a way of talking like that. Even when they speak in the first person, they will refer to themselves in the third person. A classic example is the wording of Aphrodite in the Hippolytus of Euripides (verse 33). As we consider further the story about the epiphany of the goddess Athena, appearing as she does to Proclus in a dream, I need to highlight the fact that the goddess here is following up on an earlier epiphany experienced by the philosopher. As we are about to read in a passage extracted from an earlier point in The Life of Proclus, Athena appeared to the philosopher already in his youth, when he was still living in Constantinople. In this earlier epiphany, the goddess had invited young Proclus to embrace philosophy as his lifelong passion. I will now quote the wording of this story, calling attention in advance to a striking detail. As we are about to see, this epiphany is meant to explain why the philosopher developed a special feeling of intimacy with Athena as the goddess of wisdom, as the patroness of philosophy. Here, then, is the wording, which explains why Athena cared so much for Proclus from the very start: You see, she [= Athena] appeared [phainesthai] to him in a dream [onar] and summoned him to a life of philosophy. And I think that this is why he experienced such great familiarity [oikeiotēs] with the goddess. As a result, he especially adored her and was observant of her rituals [orgia] with more of a passionate intensity of divine possession [enthousiastikōteron]. Marinus Life of Proclus 6 §13.5. The intimacy that Proclus felt he shared with the goddess Athena is expressed here by the word oikeiotēs, which I translate as ‘familiarity’. To be familiar with something or someone is to be at home with that something or someone. After all, the adjective oikeio- is derived from the noun oikos, meaning ‘home’; a related noun is oikiā, likewise meaning ‘home’, which is used in the text I quoted earlier (Marinus Life of Proclus 30) when Athena at the moment of her epiphany tells Proclus that he must, as quickly as possible, get his oikiā ‘home’ ready for her. Here I return to the story about the removal of the statue of Athena from her home in the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis of Athens. As we saw in this story, Proclus experiences the sensory fusion of both seeing and hearing the goddess at the very moment when her statue is being permanently removed from sight. As her statue disappears forever, the goddess re-appears to Proclus in a final epiphany that recalls the primal epiphany that had bonded the philosopher to her forever. Though the statue of the goddess is gone, removed from her home in the Parthenon, the goddess of philosophy now finds for herself a new home in the heart of the philosopher who will love her forever and ever. §13.6. Here is a check-list of further views to be noted at the Acropolis: —The ‘Hill of the Muses’: as we ascend to the Acropolis, it can be seen off to the right, while looking down at the Odeum of Herodes Atticus. —The Pnyx: you see it as you turn around and look West just before you enter the Propylaea. (I deliberately format here in boldface: this place was the setting for the deliberations of the ekklēsiā, which was the Assembly of the Athenian Democracy.) —The olive tree of Athena, now of course replaced by a new olive tree: visible after we leave the Temple of Poseidon —Temple of Hephaistos: visible as we descend from the Acropolis —Cave of the Furies, known in Greek as the Erīnues or Eumenides: visible after the descent from the Acropolis —Areopagus or ‘Hill of Ares’: looming over the Cave, the ancient site for trials relating to homicide—and where the Apostle Paul once delivered a speech to the Athenians. §14 National Archaeological Museum of Athens by Gregory Nagy GN CI_2016.06.24 [via 2016.06.17 via 2016.03.14], rewritten 2018.03.05 §14A. Three brief notations for slow reading: §14A.1. In a vast hall straight ahead as you enter, which houses Mycenaean antiquities, we find at the farther end of this hall a slanted-horizontal display case containing seals and sealings. One seal, found in a Mycenaean tholos tomb at Vapheio near Sparta, shows the image of a man in a long robe who is carrying a fenestrated axe (CMS I.225). This axe is shaped like a capital P with a vertical bar bisecting the semicircle attached to the straight line of the P. In a vertical display case nearby—it is to our right as we face the two posts from the “Treasury of Atreus”—we actually see the fenestrated axe (National Archaeological Museum inventory no. 1870): this object had been buried together with the seal that shows the picture of the man carrying the axe. And the man who is pictured on the seal is the same man who had been buried in the tomb containing both the axe and the seal that shows the man carrying the axe; in fact, the seal was attached to the man’s wrist (Yasur-Landau 2015:141). It has been observed about this axe that, by the time it was buried with its owner in the Mycenaean tomb at Vapheio, it was already “a centuries-old ceremonial weapon,” dating as far back as sometime between the 20th and 18th centuries BCE (Yasur-Landau pp. 139, 146); both the axe and the seal had been acquired from Minoan Crete (Yasur-Landau p. 141). §14A.2. Backtracking to the entrance to the museum … Instead of proceeding straight ahead as you enter the museum, there is an alternative route if you turn left. We find in the very first hall, to our right, a huge Geometric vase known as the Dipylon Amphora. Here is a utensil that has evolved into something so big that it has outgrown its utility as a utensil (in the present case, as an amphora). We focus on the patterns painted on the vase. They show natural figures that are human and animal and floral and so on, surrounded by decorative geometric figures. Represented at a centerpoint of the vase is the human figure of a dead body lying on a bier, surrounded by other human figures who are making gestures of lamentation. The primary gesture centers on the raising of the two arms, pointing them straight up from the elbow. Shown hanging over the bier on which the dead body rests is an expansive fabric, and the painting here represents the pattern-weaving of this fabric in a stylized way. In real pattern-weaving, the patterns woven into a fabric would represent natural figures that are human and animal and floral and so on, surrounded by decorative geometric figures. So, the world that is pictured by way of pattern-weaving matches the world that is pictured by way of Geometric vase-painting. But in the vase-painting here that represents a fabric that would have shown the many varieties of such woven figures, what is shown instead is merely a checkerboard patterning. So, the painting represents the variety of what is seen in a pattern-weave by way of a simple alternation of black and white squares. As for the human figures that are being represented in the paintings on the vase, lozenge-shapes are used for representing parts of the body. For example, the chest of a human figure is represented as an upside-down triangle. In pattern-weaving, such lozenge-shapes are typical in representing parts of the human body. That is why I think that the techniques of painting figures on Geometric vases are modeled on techniques of pattern-weaving figures into fabrics. If my thinking here is valid, then it is fair to say that the art of Geometric pottery-painting, presumably performed by professional men, is modeled in some ways on the art of pattern-weaving, presumably performed by non-professional women. §14A.3. Further along in a nearby hall is the statue of a girl named Phrasikleia, standing on a base that bears an inscription that tells about the statue. Evidently, the statue and its base were once markers of a tomb. The statue of this girl was buried sometime between 530 and 510 BCE or so, evidently to protect it from destruction or defacement by political enemies of the girl’s aristocratic family. The base of the statue was not buried but survived independently. The statue, once it was buried and thus hidden away, remained undetected for some 2,500 years, until it was finally unearthed in 1972 at a place called Merenda outside the city of Athens. Reunited with its base at the Museum, this statue (inv. no. 4889) represents one of the most exquisite pieces of archaic art, and it preserves most aspects of the artistry that went into its creation, including a wide range of colors. An inscription on the base of the statue tells the story of Phrasikleia: σεμα Φρασικλειας·
 | κορε κεκλεσομαι
 | αιει αντι γαμο
 | παρα θεον τουτο
 | λαχοσ᾿ ονομα This is the marker [sēma] of Phrasikleia. ‘Girl’ [korē] is what I will be called for all time to come. Instead of marriage, I have been fated by the gods to have this name. (The base of the statue is also inscribed with the name of the sculptor: Aristion of Paros.) The unopened flower that the girl holds in her hand is to be contrasted with the opened flowers, intertwined with flower buds, that we see woven into the garland adorning her hair. Many experts think that the flower she holds forever is a lotus, which closes at night—only to open every morning with the coming of daylight. The name of the girl, Phrasikleia, contains the word kleos, which indicates poetic ‘glory’, and this name ‘points’, as indicated by phrasi-, to an eternal glory that is promised her by the poetry of the inscription whenever its inscribed words are read out loud by a passerby (Svenbro 1988:12–25). §14B. Here is check-list of further points of interest to be noted in the Museum: §14B.1. As you enter the Museum, to the right, there is a hall featuring Cycladic art. I drew attention to two figurines, placed next to each other in a display case: one figurine represents the player of a string instrument, prototype of the kitharā, while the other represents the player of a wind instrument, prototype of the aulos. These two instruments were the essential accompaniment for most forms of song and dance in the later periods of the second … ... Read more

Things noted during eight days of travel-study in Greece, 2016.06.10–18

… m 2015.03.27, entitled “The last words of Socrates at the place where he died,” which was composed almost exactly one year ago. Foundations of the Athenian State Prison where Socrates died. Photo by H. Lambert (2015). §11[=3]. The Agora Museum §11[=3].1. Three points to note: §11[=3].1A. There is a display case showing a collection of small vials that must have contained doses of hemlock used for executions approved by the State of Athens. In this case as well, I return to my posting from 2015.03.27, entitled “The last words of Socrates at the place where he died.” The photograph of the display case was taken by Hunt Lambert. Vials now housed in the Agora Museum, which archaeologists believe contained hemlock. Photo by H. Lambert (2015). §11[=3].1B. There is a terracotta plaque, dating back to the seventh century BCE or beyond, showing a female figure with the palms of both hands turned seemingly outward, straight at the viewer. Flanking the figure are two serpents: the one on our left is red and the one on our right is blue. The description “snake goddess,” applied to her by some, is not all that helpful. §11[=3].1C. Outside the Museum, in the portico of the reconstructed “Stoa of Attalos,” there is a relief sculpture on a marble base, dated to the fourth century BCE, showing an “apobatic moment.” 2016.06.17, Friday [compare 2016.03.14, Monday] §12[=5]. The National Archaeological Museum of Athens §12[=5].1. Three brief notations for slow reading: §12[=5].1A. In a vast hall straight ahead as you enter, which houses Mycenaean antiquities, we find at the farther end of this hall a slanted-horizontal display case containing seals and sealings. One seal, found in a Mycenaean tholos tomb at Vapheio near Sparta, shows the image of a man in a long robe who is carrying a fenestrated axe (CMS I.225). This axe is shaped like a capital P with a vertical bar bisecting the semicircle attached to the straight line of the P. In a vertical display case nearby—it is to our right as we face the two posts from the “Treasury of Atreus”—we actually see the fenestrated axe (National Archaeological Museum inventory no. 1870): this object had been buried together with the seal that shows the picture of the man carrying the axe. And the man who is pictured on the seal is the same man who had been buried in the tomb containing both the axe and the seal that shows the man carrying the axe; in fact, the seal was attached to the man’s wrist (Yasur-Landau 2015:141). It has been observed about this axe that, by the time it was buried with its owner in the Mycenaean tomb at Vapheio, it was already “a centuries-old ceremonial weapon,” dating as far back as sometime between the 20th and 18th centuries BCE (Yasur-Landau pp. 139, 146); both the axe and the seal had been acquired from Minoan Crete (Yasur-Landau p. 141). Dipylon Amphora. Photo by Bob Dolgoff. §12[=5].1B. Backtracking to the entrance to the museum . . . Instead of proceeding straight ahead as you enter the museum, there is an alternative route if you turn left. We find in the very first hall, to our right, a huge Geometric vase known as the Dipylon Amphora. Here is a utensil that has evolved into something so big that it has outgrown its utility as a utensil (in the present case, as an amphora). We focus on the patterns painted on the vase. They show natural figures that are human and animal and floral and so on, surrounded by decorative geometric figures. Represented at a centerpoint of the vase is the human figure of a dead body lying on a bier, surrounded by other human figures who are making gestures of lamentation. The primary gesture centers on the raising of the two arms, pointing them straight up from the elbow. Shown hanging over the bier on which the dead body rests is an expansive fabric, and the painting here represents the pattern-weaving of this fabric in a stylized way. In real pattern-weaving, the patterns woven into a fabric would represent natural figures that are human and animal and floral and so on, surrounded by decorative geometric figures. So, the world that is pictured by way of pattern-weaving matches the world that is pictured by way of Geometric vase-painting. But in the vase-painting here that represents a fabric that would have shown the many varieties of such woven figures, what is shown instead is merely a checkerboard patterning. So, the painting represents the variety of what is seen in a pattern-weave by way of a simple alternation of black and white squares. As for the human figures that are being represented in the paintings on the vase, lozenge-shapes are used for representing parts of the body. For example, the chest of a human figure is represented as an upside-down triangle. In pattern-weaving, such lozenge-shapes are typical in representing parts of the human body. That is why I think that the techniques of painting figures on Geometric vases are modeled on techniques of pattern-weaving figures into fabrics. If my thinking here is valid, then it is fair to say that the art of Geometric pottery-painting, presumably performed by professional men, is modeled in some ways on the art of pattern-weaving, presumably performed by non-professional women. §12[=5].1C. Further along in a nearby hall is the statue of a girl named Phrasikleia, standing on a base that bears an inscription that tells about the statue. Evidently, the statue and its base were once markers of a tomb. The statue of this girl was buried sometime between 530 and 510 BCE or so, evidently to protect it from destruction or defacement by political enemies of the girl’s aristocratic family. The base of the statue was not buried but survived independently. The statue, once it was buried and thus hidden away, remained undetected for some 2,500 years, until it was finally unearthed in 1972 at a place called Merenda outside the city of Athens. Reunited with its base at the Museum, this statue (inv. no. 4889) represents one of the most exquisite pieces of archaic art, and it preserves most aspects of the artistry that went into its creation, including a wide range of colors. An inscription on the base of the statue tells the story of Phrasikleia: σεμα Φρασικλειας·
 | κορε κεκλεσομαι
 | αιει αντι γαμο
 | παρα θεον τουτο
 | λαχοσ᾿ ονομα This is the marker [sēma] of Phrasikleia. ‘Girl’ [korē] is what I will be called for all time to come. Instead of marriage, I have been fated by the gods to have this name. (The base of the statue is also inscribed with the name of the sculptor: Aristion of Paros.) The unopened flower that the girl holds in her hand is to be contrasted with the opened flowers, intertwined with flower buds, that we see woven into the garland adorning her hair. Many experts think that the flower she holds forever is a lotus, which closes at night—only to open every morning with the coming of daylight. The name of the girl, Phrasikleia, contains the word kleos, which indicates poetic ‘glory’, and this name ‘points’, as indicated by phrasi-, to an eternal glory that is promised her by the poetry of the inscription whenever its inscribed words are read out loud by a passerby (Svenbro 1988:12–25). §12.2. I shared with my fellow travelers on 2016.06.17 this check-list of further points of interest to be noted in the Museum: As you enter the Museum, to the right, there is a hall featuring Cycladic art. I drew attention to two figurines, placed next to each other in a display case: one figurine represents the player of a string instrument, prototype of the kitharā, while the other represents the player of a wind instrument, prototype of the aulos. These two instruments were the essential accompaniment for most forms of song and dance in the later periods of the second and first millennia BCE and beyond. As you enter the Museum, straight ahead is the grand hall containing artifacts from the Mycenaean era. Introducing all the displays are slabs from Grave Circle A of Mycenae, placed in the foreground of the hall. Just as these slabs are now the prime markers for the prestige of the Museum, they used to be prime markers for the prestige of Mycenaean civilization. I noted the hunting scenes depicted on the surfaces of the slabs. Grave Circle A is dated to the sixteenth century BCE. I note, in passing, the golden death mask of “Agamemnon””; inside the same display-case are two exquisite daggers that I also note in passing. From here on, I will just say “note,” not “I note.” Note the depiction, on a rhyton (#8 in the relevant display-case), of a wartime siege that is evidently cognate with depictions of sieges in the verbal art of Homeric poetry. I speak here of a cognate relationship between the visual arts and the verbal arts. I use the word “cognate” here to indicate that these two forms of art, visual and verbal, are related to each other, yes, but there is no need to suppose that the visual arts are dependent on the verbal arts—or vice versa. Note a set of gold-leaf scales (#9 in the relevant display-case) buried along with the bodies of aristocratic women in Shaft Grave III of Grave Circle A of Mycenae. Among the decorations on the gold-leaf “weights” that accompanied the scales were representations of butterflies or moths, the word for which in Classical Greek is psūkhē; other meanings for this word in Classical Greek include ‘breath of life’ or ‘spirit’ or even ‘soul’. Comparing the expression “life hangs in the balance,” I argue for the significance of representing a moth or butterfly as a “weight” to be weighed at the moment of death. There is a cognate idea in Homeric poetry, as in Iliad 22.208–213, where Zeus is weighing on his golden scales the lives of Achilles and Hector, and the technical word for this idea is psūkho-stasiā, meaning ‘weighing of the psūkhē’ on a set of scales. Note a particularly large seal-ring on display, featuring a depiction of what archaeologists guardedly describe as a “religious scene.” Note the displays of fresco paintings of two figure-eight shields, featuring representations of the natural patterning of spots to be found on the hides of most cows: the shields made from cowhide in the Mycenaean era preserve such natural patterning, and the artistic representations of the cowhide shields transmit naturalistically the same patterning. On the idea of a cowhide shield as an exteriorization of the interior heroic self, you can read about it in Nagy 1990:263–265. Note the “Warrior Vase,” dating from the late Mycenaean period, depicting uniformed helmeted warriors heading off to war. Behind them is the figure of a woman with outstretched arms. This gesture signifies the performance of lament. A boar’s-tusk-helmet. §12.3. Here are still further points of interest in the Museum: Note in passing the bronze statue of the bearded male figure throwing… a trident? … a thunderbolt? Note in passing another relief sculpture representing “the apobatic moment.” Relevant analysis in Classical Inquiries 2016.06.23 at §9.1B. Also at §11.1C. Note in passing a relief sculpture showing a warrior mourning himself. He is a “marine,” whose task would have been to fight in hand-to-hand combat by boarding the decks of enemy ships in naval battles. Evidently, this marine had been lost at sea, and now we see him sitting sadly on a headland overlooking the watery blue expanse that will not release his body for a proper burial in Mother Earth. The headland is eerily shaped like the prow of a battleship. And the person who is sitting there dejectedly on that headland is not really a person. Rather, he is a kind of disembodied self who is sadly contemplating the irretrievable loss of his own body at sea. §12.4. We proceed to the upper floor of the Museum, and I select only a small sampling of the many wonders to be seen here. In this case, I will offer only a minimalist description of each sampling: Geometric vase featuring an image of a kitharā-player. #15842. Geometric vase featuring an image of a chariot race. #806. Geometric vase featuring an image of a funerary carriage. #990. Geometric vase featuring an image of a “mistress of animals.” The date: around 675–650 BCE. #355. On a terracotta decoration for a temple of Apollo, we see a painting that shows the images of Aēdōn and Khelidōn, two doomed sisters in a myth about their tragic transformation into a nightingale and a swallow. In this fragmentary painting, we see an inscription that labels the sister on the right as ΧΕΛΙΔFON, which means ‘swallow’ (khelidōn). In another version of the myth, the sisters are known as Procne and Philomela. For an analysis of this myth, see my posting for 2016.01.07 §§19–23. Wooden panels, dating from the sixth century BCE, found at Pitsa in the region of Corinth. On the surface of the stucco that coats the wood underneath are paintings of a ritual scene. Vase painting that features Hēraklēs in the act of killing a noxious Centaur named Nessos [spelled νεΤοc here]. The best-known version of the myth is transmitted in the tragedy Women of Trachis by Sophocles, where we read that some of the fluid oozing from the dying Centaur was preserved in a vial by Deianeira, the future wife of Hēraklēs. She was led to believe that this fluid could be used as a love-ointment to restore the affections of her husband if he ever strayed. It is made explicit in Diodorus of Sicily 4.36.5 that the fluid was the semen of the dying Centaur. As we read further in Diodorus and in Sophocles, this fluid that Deianeira smeared on the clothing that made contact with the skin of Herakles turned out to be no love-ointment: it became a deadly poison that pervaded the insides of the hero. Sixth century BCE representation of an animal sacrifice as depicted on one of the four wooden panels found in Pitsa. 2016.06.18, Saturday §13. Marathon §13.1. I focus on three features of the site: Outdoors at the site, we see a modern replica of the Tumulus of the Athenians, marking the mass grave of those Athenians who died in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE. Herodotus in Scroll 6 section 117 notes that 192 Athenians died in the battle. Outdoors at the site, we see a modern replica of the pillar known as the ‘Trophy’, while fragments of the original pillar are displayed in the small museum nearby. The translation ‘trophy’ blurs the basic meaning of the original Greek word tropaion, which means a ‘turning-point’. The ‘Trophy’ marks the decisive point in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE when the fortunes of war ‘turned’ in favor of the Athenians and their allies and against the invading Persian forces. Indoors in the small museum, we see next to each other two stēlai or ‘slabs’. The inscriptions on both slabs refer to an athletic event that is relevant to the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE. One of the slabs predates the battle, while the other postdates it. The inscriptions on both slabs speak about a footrace that took place inside the sacred space of Hēraklēs at Marathon on the occasion of a seasonally recurring athletic festival known as the Empylia. This sacred space was where the Athenians encamped overnight before the Battle of Marathon, as we learn from Herodotus Scroll 6 sections 108 and 116. Herodotus has something further to say in section 116, and I summarize… After their victory at Marathon, the Athenians hurried back to Athens in order to protect the city from the fleet of the Persians, which had meanwhile sailed off from Marathon and was now rounding Cape Sounion and heading toward Phaleron, the harbor of city. In the vicinity of the harbor, as Herodotus reports, the Athenians encamped overnight at a site named Kunosargēs. As Herodotus goes out of his way to emphasize, there was a sacred space of Hēraklēs at this site as well as at Marathon. By implications, the Athenians had once again been energized overnight by making contact with a sacred space of Hēraklēs.   Detail from temple of Hērā at sacred space of Hērāion Temple of Hērā Temple of Hērā Temple of Hērā Gregory Nagy with Dr. Heleni Palaiologou Gregory Nagy and the travel-study group Travel-study participant Safdar Mandviwala at the temple of Hērā. Photo by Fred Kochak Pseudo-cyclopean walls at Hērāion View from the temple of Hērā, looking down to the Inachos Plain Remains of the temple of Hērā Additional view of the Hērāion Approach to the Hērāion Gregory Nagy shares points of interest before entering the site of Mycenae Entrance to the so-called Treasury of Atreus Wall details at the entrance to the so-called Treasury of Atreus Additional detail from the entrance of the so-called Treasury of Atreus Dr. Heleni Palaiologou showing the center stone of the ceiling at the so-called Treasury of Atreus Admiring the ceiling of so-called Treasury of Atreus The center stone of the ceiling at the so-called Treasury of Atreus Detail of the entrance at the so-called Treasury of Atreus Detail from the walls of the so-called Treasury of Atreus Large stone from the entrance of Treasury of Atreus Model showing the acropolis of Mycenae Scaled model of the citadel of acropolis of Mycenae View from the citadel of Mycenae, showing the hearth of the citadel (covered) in the background Additional view from the citadel of Mycenae Additional view from the citadel of Mycenae, with participant Janet M. Ozsolak Gregory Nagy and group participants at the citadel of Mycenae Grave Circle B at Mycenae Details from Grave Circle B Additional view of Grave Circle B Picture of the photographer at Grave Circle B, by Fred Kochak Grave Circle B again The “chasm” or “Chaos” as viewed from the site of Mycenae Another view of the “chasm” or “Chaos” as viewed from the site of Mycenae Participants from the 2016 HAA travel-study program at Mycenae Gregory Nagy and Dr. Heleni Palaiologou share points of interest at Mycenae One of the travel-study participant wears a CHS Greece t-shirt Entrance to one of the aqueducts at Mycenae Detail of the entrance to one the aqueducts at Mycenae The North Gate at Mycenae Gregory Nagy and travel-study participants discuss the North Gate at Mycenae Road to Acropolis of Mycenae from the North Gate Details from the North Gate of Mycenae Wheel imprint on the stone in the road outside the citadel of Mycenae Shrine located in the wall at the North Gate of Mycenae The Lion Gate at Mycenae Detail of the Lion Gate the Lion Gate at Mycenae Back of the Lion Gate at Mycenae Additional view of the back of the Lion Gate at Mycenae Landscape near Mycenae Travel-study participants explore Grave Circle A at Mycenae Detail from the Grave Circle A at Mycenae Photos by Safdar Mandviwala, unless otherwise noted. Gallery composed by Janet M. Ozsolak. Bibliography Bell, M. 1995. “The Motya Charioteer and Pindar’s Isthmian 2.” Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 40:1–42. Nagy, G. 1990b. Greek Mythology and Poetics. Ithaca NY. Revised paperback edition 1992. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Greek_Mythology_and_Poetics.1990. Nagy, G. 2008|2009. Homer the Classic. Online | Printed version. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Homer_the_Classic.2008 | Hellenic Studies 36. Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC. Nagy, G. 2009. “Hesiod and the Ancient Biographical Traditions.” The Brill Companion to Hesiod (ed. F. Montanari, A. Rengakos, and Ch. Tsagalis) 271–311. Leiden. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:Nagy.Hesiod_and_the_Ancient_Biographical_Traditions.2009. Nagy, G. 2015. Masterpieces of Metonymy: from ancient Greek times to now. Hellenic Studies Series 72. Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Masterpieces_of_Metonymy.2015. Svenbro, J. 1988. Phrasikleia: An Anthropology of Reading in Ancient Greece (translated by J. Lloyd). Ithaca, NY. Yasur-Landau, A. 2015. “From Byblos to Vapheio: Fenestrated Axes between the Aegean and the Levant.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 373:139–150.   Notes [1] The June 2016 version converges closely with the March 2016 version. The big divergence here is the fact that the June travel study started with the Hēraion and Mycenae, not with Athens. [2] Pausanias displays here a most noteworthy example of religious reticence. [3] So the Argives ‘destroyed’ not only Mycenae but also Tiryns. [4] Again, the June 2016 version converges closely with the March 2016 version. Also again, the big divergence here is the fact that the June travel study started with the Hēraion and Mycenae, not with Athens. [5] Some of this lore must predate the testimony of Pausanias. [6] Pausanias 4.17.4. [7] Pindar Pythian 4.74. [8] For those who are interested in the mentality of tithing, see my commentary on this passage in Pausanias 1.28.2 in A Pausanias Reader in Progress. [9] For those who are interested in more details, see my commentary on Pausanias 1.1.1. in A Pausanias Reader in Progress. [10] For those who are interested in my detailed argumentation concerning the Odeum of Pericles as a venue for Homeric performances, I refer to 4§§173–180 in my book Homer the Classic, Nagy 2008|2009. [11] What follows is an epitome of what I present at 1§§122–125 in my book Masterpieces of Metonymy, Nagy 2015. [12] By this time, in the fifth century CE, the original gold-and-ivory statue of Athena had undergone a series of remakings: see Lapatin 2001:89. So, the look and feel of the remade version that was finally removed from the Parthenon in the fifth century CE may have been a far cry from the glory days of the original statue as shaped by Pheidias in the fifth century BCE, over nine hundred years earlier. [13] Neils 2001:166. [14] Neils 2001:67. [15] Again, Neils 2001:67. [16] For a survey of interpretations concerning the ritualized act itself, see Neils 2001:61–66, who also offers her own interpretation. [17] See pp. 295|296 of my article “Hesiod and the Ancient Biographical Traditions,” Nagy 2009. … ... Read more

Things noted during five days of travel-study in Greece, 2016.03.13–18

… m 2015.03.27, entitled “The last words of Socrates at the place where he died,” which was composed almost exactly one year ago. Foundations of the Athenian State Prison where Socrates died. Photo by H. Lambert (2015). §3. The Agora Museum §3.1. Three points to note: §3.1A. There is a display case showing a collection of small vials that must have contained doses of hemlock used for executions approved by the State of Athens. In this case as well, I return to my posting from 2015.03.27, entitled “The last words of Socrates at the place where he died.” The photograph of the display case was taken by Hunt Lambert. Vials now housed in the Agora Museum, which archaeologists believe contained hemlock. Photo by H. Lambert (2015). §3.1B. There is a terracotta plaque, dating back to the seventh century BCE or beyond, showing a female figure with the palms of both hands turned seemingly outward, straight at the viewer. Flanking the figure are two serpents: the one on our left is red and the one on our right is blue. The description “snake goddess,” applied to her by some, is not all that helpful. §3.1C. Outside the Museum, in the portico of the reconstructed “Stoa of Attalos,” there is a relief sculpture on a marble base, dated to the fourth century BCE, showing an “apobatic moment.” What I mean is this: an armed athlete known as an apobatēs, which means literally, ‘the one who steps off’, is getting ready to jump off the platform of a speeding chariot driven by a fellow athlete, who is the charioteer. I will have more to say in a minute about such an athletic event. §4. The Acropolis Museum §4.0. We start at the southwest corner of the display showing the Parthenon Frieze, on the top floor of the Acropolis Museum. The Frieze and even the floor that contains the Frieze are aligned exactly with the Parthenon, which we can see looming up above on the Acropolis as we look out the window of the Museum. What do I mean by “alignment” here? Simply this: the north-south-east-west coordinates of the Frieze match exactly the original coordinates of the Parthenon itself. And the Acropolis Museum, situated on street-level to the south of the Acropolis looming above it, recreates in scale the entire Frieze as it had existed before its stonework was taken down in two phases. The first phase was the violent sawing-off that took place at the initiative of Thomas Bruce, also known as Lord Elgin, who dismantled and hauled off major portions of the Frieze along with other priceless artifacts within the years 1801 and 1812. What Elgin took down is now housed in the British Museum. The second phase was the scientifically-supervised removal and transfer of the remaining portions of the Frieze to their existing home on the top floor of the Acropolis Museum. These portions, now protected from the ravages of air pollution on the outside, are awaiting a hoped-for reintegration with their counterparts in the British Museum. §4.1. Three points to note: §4.1A. For the first point, I start at the southwest corner of the Parthenon Frieze: at this corner, the actions that are represented by the sculpted figures are split into two perspectives for viewing a parallel movement of exquisitely sculpted figures headed toward one single destination, which is the center of the east side of the Frieze. On the right side, the movement rounds the southwest corner and then heads for the East along the southern side of the Frieze. On the left side, the movement has a longer way to go: there are figures that move along the west side heading from South to North before rounding the northwest corner and then joining the left-hand side of the overall movement as it heads for the East along the northern side of the Frieze. What is all this “movement,” as I refer to it here? Primarily, it is a procession. In fact, it is the ultimate procession of the Athenians, generally known today as the Panathenaic Procession because it occurs at the Great Panathenaic Festival, celebrated every four years to honor the primary divinity of Athens, the goddess Athena. §4.1B. For the second point, I choose the blocks on the north side of the Panathenaic Frieze that represent scenes of apobatic chariot racing (blocks 11–29). Although the Frieze represents primarily the Panathenaic Procession, not all of the events depicted in the relief sculptures of the frieze involve the actual procession. Although as I just said the primary event is the procession itself, the frieze also represents other events that were aspects of the Great Panathenaic Festival, including various forms of athletic events. A case in point is the set of depictions centering on apobatic chariot racing. As we know from a variety of sources, this kind of chariot racing was a major athletic event at the celebration of the Great Panathenaic Festival. Here is what I have to say about apobatic chariot racing at this festival in my book The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours (7b§§3–4): [H24H 7b§3.] In the relief sculptures of the Panathenaic Frieze of the Parthenon, we see twenty-one apobatic chariot teams on display, with eleven chariots featured on the north side (North XI–XXIX) and ten on the south side (South XXV–XXXV); in each case, the chariot is shown with four horses, a driver, and an apobatēs, who is wearing a helmet and a shield. The apobatai are shown in a variety of poses: stepping into the chariot, riding in the chariot, stepping out of the chariot, and running alongside the chariot; in two cases, the apobatai are evidently wearing a full set of armor. [H24H 7b§4.] What makes the feat of leaping into or out of a speeding chariot so commandingly distinctive is that the apobatēs executes his leap in the mode of an epic warrior. While the fellow athlete who drives the chariot is standing on the right side of the vehicle and wearing the full-length gown of a charioteer, the apobatēs standing on the left side wears a helmet and carries a shield. I focus here on the critical moment when the apobatic athlete, holding on to the shield with his left hand, starts loosening the grip of his right hand on the rail of the speeding chariot and then suddenly leaps to the ground. Weighted down by all this armor, the apobatēs must hit the ground running as he lands on his feet in his high-speed leap from the platform of his chariot. If his run is not broken in a fall, he continues to run down the length of the racecourse in competition with the other running apobatai, who have made their own leaps from their own chariots. §4.1C. For the third point, I choose a scene depicted at the center of the east side of the Panathenaic Frieze. Here we have reached the central scene in the wrap-around relief sculptures of the Frieze. I analyze this scene in Part Three of my book Masterpieces of Metonymy, and I provide here a link to the full text of my analysis, which goes from 3§1 all the way to 3§102. To read this text in its entirety, however, would take about a full hour, and I appreciate the fact that some of my readers will not have the time to go through my whole argumentation, step by step. One short-cut would be to read only 3§§32–102. An even shorter alternative would be to go from 3§32 only as far as 3§60. And the shortest alternative of them all would be to read only the epitome that follows, which takes us from 3§32 only as far as 3§39: [MoM 3§32.] The central scene of the Parthenon Frieze refers to an event that took place in the Panathenaic Procession. The sacred robe of Athena, called the Peplos, was paraded along the Sacred Way for all to see, and then it was finally presented to the goddess at the climax of the procession. That Peplos is the folded robe that we see pictured in the relief sculptures of Block 5 of the east side of the Parthenon Frieze. In terms of my argumentation, this robe is the one and the same sacred Peplos of Athena. Here is a line drawing of the scene: Relief sculpture: Block 5, east side of the Parthenon Frieze, Athens. British Museum.   [MoM 3§33.] This relief sculpture is carved into a block (often called instead a “slab”) occupying the most prominent space of the Parthenon Frieze. This block, “Block 5,” features a sculpted scene picturing five human figures in all. The two figures that I show in the line drawing are situated on the right side of Block 5, and there are also three other figures on the left side. Framing both sides of Block 5 are the sculpted figures of seated gods, larger in size than the five humans. On our left, in Block 4, the gods Zeus and Hērā frame these humans, while in Block 6, on our right, the framing gods are Athena and Hephaistos. [MoM 3§34.] One expert, Jennifer Neils, has aptly described the scene picturing the five human figures in Block 5 as “the high point” of the overall narrative of the Parthenon Frieze, “framed between the central columns of the temple façade,”[7] and “[i]t was here that the design [of the frieze] must have begun and for which an exceptionally long block [= Block 5] was ordered, quarried, and set into place.”[8] The expert whom I have just quoted about Block 5 goes on to describe the narrative sculpted into this “exceptionally long block” as “important enough to dictate the layout of the entire frieze” into “two processional files” that converge on this narrative. When she says “two processional files” in her description, she makes it clear that she has in mind the overall narrative of the Parthenon Frieze, which she sees as a representation of the Panathenaic Procession at the festival of the Panathenaia. [MoM 3§35.] I have already noted the importance of this procession as the setting for the ritual presentation of the Peplos. I have more to say about the ritual presentation, as experts call it, but for now I concentrate on the Panathenaic Procession itself, as represented on the Parthenon Frieze. [MoM 3§36.] In emphasizing the importance of the narrative carved into Block 5 at the east side of the Frieze, Neils is saying that the overall representation of the Panathenaic Procession converges on this one single narrative. In her wording, as we just saw, the Procession splits into “two processional files” proceeding eastward from the north and from the south sides of the Parthenon Frieze and then converging at the “high point” featuring the five human figures carved into Block 5 of the east side. [MoM 3§37.] But the narrative of this “high point” is problematic, since experts have till now been unable to shape a consensus about what it all means. From the standpoint of a casual viewer’s first impression, the five human figures of Block 5 could understandably be described as “this unimpressive quintet.”[9] But I think that all five of these human figures are in fact all-important. [MoM 3§38.] To back up this line of thinking, I start by concentrating on the two human figures positioned on the right side of Block 5, as shown in the line drawing. These two figures are pictured here in the act of holding on to a fabric as they face one another, and I agree with those who think that the two of them are participating in a ritualized act[10]—an act that I have been describing up to now as the presentation of the Peplos. [MoM 3§39.] While I agree with the idea that this scene, as sculpted into Block 5 of the east side of the Parthenon Frieze, is picturing some kind of a ritual that features the presenting of the Peplos to Athena, I disagree with the further idea that this scene describes the ritual of such a presentation as it took place in the era when the Panathenaic Frieze was sculpted. Instead, I argue that the presentation of the Peplos in Block 5 follows the pattern of a myth that aetiologizes this ritual, and this argumentation takes me from 3§40 all the way to 3§102 in Masterpieces of Metonymy. And who are the two figures who are participating in such a myth? As we can see from the line drawing that I just showed, the figure on our left is a male adult, and the figure on our right is an adolescent, shorter than the corresponding adult by well over a head’s length. The gender of the adolescent is no longer clearly distinguishable, partly because the surface of the relief sculpture has been so massively eroded, but I argue in 3§§40–102 that this figure is female. I will leave it for the reader to decide whether or not to look up the step-by-step argumentation that I present there. 2016.03.14, Monday §5. The National Archaeological Museum of Athens §5.1. Three points to note, and in this case the length of each one of the three notations is deliberately restricted to the length of one single paragraph: §5.1A. In a vast hall straight ahead as you enter, which houses Mycenaean and Minoan antiquities, we find at the further end of this hall a horizontal display case containing seals and sealings. One seal, found in a Mycenaean tholos tomb at Vapheio near Sparta, shows the image of a man in a long robe who is carrying a fenestrated axe (CMS I.225). This axe is shaped like a capital P with a vertical bar bisecting the semicircle attached to the straight line of the P. In a vertical display case nearby—it is to our right as we face the two posts from the “Treasury of Atreus”—we actually see the fenestrated axe (National Archaeological Museum inventory no. 1870): this object had been buried together with the seal that shows the picture of the man carrying the axe. And the man who is pictured on the seal is the same man who had been buried in the tomb containing both the axe and the seal that shows the man carrying the axe; in fact, the seal was attached to the man’s wrist (Yasur-Landau 2015:141). It has been observed about this axe that, by the time it was buried with its owner in the Mycenaean tomb at Vapheio, it was already “a centuries-old ceremonial weapon,” dating as far back as sometime between the 20th and 18th centuries BCE (Yasur-Landau pp. 139, 146); both the axe and the seal had been acquired from Minoan Crete (Yasur-Landau … ... Read more

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