- Polis and its culture (The)
- The polis and its culture Robin Osborne INTRODUCTION ‘We love wisdom without becoming soft’, Thucydides has the Athenian politician Pericles claim, using the verb philosophein.1 Claims to, and respect for, wisdom in archaic Greece were by no means restricted to those whom the western tradition, building on Aristotle’s review of past thinkers in Metaphysics Book 1, has effectively canonized as ‘philosophers’. This chapter has two functions: to reveal something of the social, economic and political conditions of the world in which Greek philosophy, as we define it, was created; and to indicate some of the ways in which issues which we would classify as ‘philosophical’, or which have clear philosophical implications, were raised and discussed by those whose work is nowadays classed as ‘literature’ or ‘art’ rather than ‘philosophy’, and thus to put philosophia back into the wider context of sophia—‘wisdom’. Discussions of the background to early Greek philosophy frequently stress the intimate link between philosophical and political developments.2 Part of my aim in this chapter is to make the case for the importance of other factors, and to stress the extent to which self-conscious articulation of ethical, political, epistemological and indeed metaphysical questions precedes the development of large-scale political participation in practice. It is for this reason, as well as because of their subsequent importance as texts universally familiar throughout the Greek world, that the longest section of this chapter is devoted to a detailed discussion of certain themes in the works of Homer and Hesiod. Greek philosophy as we define it is, I argue, simply one remarkable fruit of a cultural sophistication which is the product of the rich contacts between Greece and the world of the eastern Mediterranean and of the somewhat precarious conditions of human life within Greece itself, conditions which demanded both determined independence and access to, and relations with, others. The Greece of the archaic and classical polis belonged to, and was intimately linked with, a wider eastern and central Mediterranean world. The Minoan and Mycenaean palaces of the late Bronze Age had had strong links with Cyprus and with southern Italy; it is increasingly clear that during the period which we know as the Dark Ages, from c.1100 to c.800 BC, when archaeological evidence suggests that human activity in Greece was restricted to a very small number of sites, those wider contacts were maintained, albeit at a rather low level of intensity. During the eighth century that contact seems to have focused upon the exchange of goods, whether by trade or by what might rather be termed piracy, but during the following centuries Greeks were persistently involved in direct hostilities in the eastern Mediterranean, hostilities which culminated, but by no means ended, with the ‘Persian Wars’ of the early fifth century. Contact with that wider world played a major part during the eighth and seventh centuries in stimulating many essential features of the culture of the Greek polis, including alphabetic writing and the development of narrative and figurative art; during the period from 600 to 370 BC direct borrowings from the East are more difficult to detect, but the perceived need for self-definition in the face of the ‘barbarian’ came to be one of the most important factors in shaping the nature and ideology of the Greek city and was an undeniable ingredient in late-sixth and fifth century sensitivity to cultural relativism. But the Greek polis and its culture were also shaped by conditions that were closely bound up with the lands where Greeks lived, Mediter-ranean lands which are marginal for the cultivation of some cereals and many vegetable crops, but which also enjoy widely varying ecological conditions within restricted geographical areas. To farm is to run serious risks of crop failure, and the farmer who isolates himself ends by starving himself.3 These, then, are lands which compel people to move and make contact with others if they are to survive, but they are also lands (and this is particularly true of the Greek mainland itself) in which mountainous terrain renders movement difficult. The political history of Greece is marked by a constant tension between isolation and independence on the one hand—the Greek world as a world made up of hundreds of selfgoverning cities tiny in area and in population -and a sense of a common identity and dependence on the other—a world where cities are linked for survival, in empires, leagues, and confederacies which are often at war with one another. This tension between independence and common identity also marks the cultural history of Greece. GREEKS AND THE EAST Greeks of the late Bronze Age wrote in a syllabary, known as Linear B, the decipherment of which in the 1950s has enormously increased our knowledge of the political and social organization of Mycenaean palace society, of the Mycenaean economy, and of Mycenaean religion. Linear B was, however, a means by which scribes could keep detailed records rather than a means of general, let alone mass, communication. Like all syllabaries it required a large number of separate symbols; with the fall of the palaces the motivation for record-keeping disappeared, and Linear B disappeared with it, although a (different) syllabary is found in use in classical Cyprus. As far as we know, between c.1200 and a little after 800 BC Greeks possessed no means of written communication. Then in the eighth century writing reappears in the Greek world, but now it is alphabetic rather than syllabic and the letters of the alphabet are largely those of the Semitic alphabet used by the Phoenicians. There is no doubt that Greeks borrowed not only the idea but the very means of alphabetic writing from the East. However, the Greek alphabet differs crucially from its eastern Mediterranean model: Greek from the beginning represents vowels, as well as consonants, with full letters. The invention of the vowel made Greek writing both more flexible and more straightforward than Phoenician, but it did not, as is sometimes claimed, mean that there was a different symbol for every different sound; the earliest alphabets do not, for instance, distinguish between long and short vowels. Given this limitation, it is unclear whether representing vowels was a stroke of individual genius on the part of the Greek who first took up the idea of an alphabet, or was simply a happy accident of someone who translated the initial sounds of some Phoenician letter names into Greek vowel sounds.4 The distinction between Phoenician and Greek alphabets rests not simply on the representation of vowels, but also on what the alphabet was used for. Many of the earliest examples of writing in Greek are metrical, their purpose more to entertain than to inform. So a graffito on a pottery jug from Athens of c.750 BC declares that jug to be a prize for the person ‘who dances most friskily’, another, of slightly later date, on a cup found in a grave of the Greek community on Ischia, plays on the epic tradition about Nestor and declares itself to be Nestor’s cup, expressing the wish that whoever drinks from it might be visited with desire by the goddess of love, Aphrodite. The frequency with which verse occurs in early Greek writing has led some to suggest that it was the desire to make a permanent record of oral epic poetry that led to the invention of the Greek alphabet.5 That the script local to Ionia, the homeland of epic poetry, was the earliest to distinguish long and short vowels might be held to suggest that the first Greek scripts needed adaptation to be truly useful for quantitative verse. But in any case it is clear that early Greek uses of writing were not at all limited by Phoenician practice. Early Greek writing illustrates well the unity and at the same time the diversity of the Greek world. Writing is early attested from a very large number of cities in the Greek world, and always the fundamental character of the alphabet, the representation of vowel sounds, is the same; indeed the use of the Greek alphabet served as one way of defining who was and who was not Greek (Crete is, Cyprus not). But the symbols that were added to the core of twenty-two symbols borrowed directly from Phoenician, and the symbols adopted for particular sounds, differ, showing particular localized groupings. What is more, the purposes to which writing was put varied from area to area: written laws (on which see below) figure prominently in Crete, for example, but not at all in Attica. Greek cities had common interests, but they also had differing priorities and were as little constrained by what neighbours were doing as by what Phoenicians did.6 A similar picture can be painted with regard to artistic innovation. That archaic and classical Greek art owed a great deal to the Near East there can be no doubt. One of the skills lost at the end of the Mycenaean era was figurative art. We have little Dark Age sculpture (all we have are small bronzes) and decoration on pottery vessels took the form of geometric decoration, initially dominated by circular motifs against a dark background and then increasingly dominated by rectilinear patterns over the whole surface of the pot. When animal and human figures made their appearance they too took on very geometric shapes. Near- Eastern art of this period had no such devotion to geometric patterns: it was rich in motifs drawn from the natural world. These natural motifs, and with them a much more curvilinear and living approach to the depiction of animal and human figures, came to take the place of the geometric in Greek art, but they were not adopted wholesale and they were adopted in different media and in different places at different times. Purely geometric designs were first supplemented and then largely replaced with motifs drawn from the natural world by the potters of Crete in the second half of the ninth century BC, plausibly under the influence of the Phoenician goldsmiths for whose products and residence on Crete there is some evidence; on the Greek mainland too, at Athens, metalwork showed oriental borrowings, and perhaps oriental presence, by the middle of the eighth century, although it was another fifty years before potters found a use for and took up the possibilities offered by the eastern artists. With the motifs which Greek artists took up from the East came whole new possibilities for art as a means of communication. The geometric figures of eighth-century pottery from the Greek mainland could very satisfactorily conjure up scenes of a particular type, with many figures involved in identical or similar activities, and were used in particular to conjure up funerary scenes and battle scenes. But the stick figures were not well adapted to telling a particular story or highlighting individual roles in group activities. The richer evocation of natural forms in Near-Eastern art made possible the portrayal of particular stories, stories which can be followed by the viewer even in the absence of guidance from a text. With the adoption of such richer forms the Greek artist took on this possibility of creating a sense of the particular unique combination of circumstances. But again, the Near-Eastern means were not used simply to replicate Near-Eastern narrative techniques, rather the most ambitious of seventhcentury Greek artists chose to exploit the fact that invoking a story by pictorial means demands the viewer’s interpretative involvement and to juxtapose quite different scenes in ways which challenge the viewer to make, or to resist making, a particular interpretation. Even when we may suspect that particular compositional gambits have been taken over wholesale from Near-Eastern precedents, the application of the gambit to a different story context produces very different effects. One further, striking, instance of Greek adaptation of ideas from the East deserves mention because of its religious significance. At the end of the seventh century the Greeks began, for the first time, to produce monumental sculpture in stone. There can be no doubt, from analysis of the proportions of these statues, that the ancient tradition that Greek sculptures of standing male figures were based on Egyptian prototypes is correct.7 But where the Egyptian figures which serve as models are figures of rulers and are clothed in loin cloths, the Greek male figures, known as kouroi, are from the beginning naked, and beardless, and stand in no simply representative relationship to any particular man. And from the beginning too, Greeks sculpt figures of (clothed) women (korai) as well as men. Kouroi and korai are primarily found in sanctuaries and although (or perhaps better because) they do not themselves simply represent either the gods or their worshippers, there is little doubt that they came to be a way of thinking about relations between men and gods: the variable scale of these statues (some kouroi are monumental, reaching 3, 6, or almost 10 metres in height) drew attention to human inability to determine their own physical bulk; the unvarying appearance of the statues raised issues of human, and divine, mutability; the way their frontal gaze mirrored that of the viewer insistently turned these general questions of the limits of human, and divine, power back on the individual viewer, and, in the case of korai, their nubile status and gestures of offering served to query whether exchanges of women and of fruitfulness within human society were images for men’s proper relationship with the gods. Such questions about the form of the gods and the ways in which men relate to them are questions which exercised such thinkers as Heraclitus and Xenophanes also. Both kouroi and korai, in versions of human scale, came to be used also in cemeteries, figuring the life that had been lost, sometimes with epitaphs explicitly inviting the viewer whose gaze met that of the statue to ‘stand and mourn’, using the mirroring gaze of the statue to emphasize the life shared by viewer and deceased. Conventions which in Egypt translated political power into permanent images of domination were thus adapted in the Greek world to stir up reflection about what people shared with each other and with the gods, and about how people should relate to gods.8 This consistent pattern in which Greeks borrow the means from the East but use those means to distinctly different ends, is one that can be seen in the realm of the history of ideas also, where a case can be made for Ionian thinkers taking advantage of the new proximity of the Iranian world with the Persian conquest of Lydia in order to take up ideas and use them in their arguments against each other. Extensive cosmological and cosmogonical writings are known from various peoples in the Near East which can plausibly be held to date from the early first millennium BC or before. The case for taking up eastern ideas is perhaps clearest in the work of Pherecydes of Syros, active in the middle of the sixth century, who wrote a book obscurely entitled ‘Seven (or Five) Recesses’ (Heptamukhos or Pentemukbos). His account of creation and of struggles for mastery among the gods, although in some ways in the tradition of Hesiod’s Theogony (see below), differs crucially in the order of presentation of material and may have been directly indebted to oriental sources.9 Similar claims have also been made for the Milesian Anaximander whose order of the heavenly bodies, with the stars nearest to the earth, is found in the East but not otherwise in Greece, and whose view of the heavenly bodies as turning on wheels has similarities with the visions of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel. Pherecydes was individualist in his treatment of traditional stories, Anaximander highly eclectic in any borrowings; such eclectic, individualist, and often directly critical, attitudes towards the ideas of others, other Greeks as well as non-Greeks, is indeed a remarkable feature of the Greek world.10 But this is not to suggest that transformation in the borrowing is unique to Greeks: it is found too in what later cultures have done with the Greeks themselves. Milton’s epics, to take but one example, depend upon the classical epic tradition yet use that tradition to convey a religious and theological world entirely alien to that tradition; so too the cultural achievements of archaic and classical Greece are unthinkable without Near Eastern resources to draw upon, but the different economic, social and political circumstances of the Greek world bring about transformations which result in something entirely different.11 This critical assimilation of ideas is only comprehensible against a pattern of extraordinary mobility. It is often unclear from the archaeological record who carried eastern goods to Greece or Greek goods to other parts of the Mediterranean, but that Greeks were themselves frequently on the move, even during the Dark Ages, there can be no doubt. The culture of the Greek polis is not a culture found simply within the boundaries of what is present-day Greece, nor is it limited to those places described by the second century AD traveller Pausanias in his ‘Guide to Greece’; it is a culture which grew up as much in communities found on the coasts of Asia Minor, the Black Sea, Italy, Sicily, southern France, Spain and Cyrenaica as in mainland Greece itself. Historians sometimes talk of the ‘age of Greek colonization’, but the truth of the matter is that Greeks migrated to, and formed or took over settlements in, coastal districts of other parts of the mainland at every period known to us. Greek presence in coastal Asia Minor seems to have been established, or in some places perhaps rather reinforced, during the early Dark Ages, at the same time as other Greeks founded settlements in the northern part of the Aegean. Settlement on the coasts of Sicily and Italy began in the eighth century, the Black Sea and Africa followed in the seventh. Scope for Greek settlement in the eastern Mediterranean was more limited, but there is no doubt that Greek enclaves existed at a number of settlements in the Levant, and the town of Naukratis was set aside for Greeks in Egypt. Greek settlements abroad generally laid claim not just to a particular ‘founder’ but also to a particular ‘mother city’ but models of colonization drawn from the Roman or the modern world are unhelpful for an understanding of what was happening. The population of the new settlements abroad was almost invariably drawn from a number of cities. Movement across the Greek world in the archaic period seems to have been easy: the poet Hesiod tells us that his father moved back from the ‘new’ Greek world of Asia Minor to mainland Boiotia, craftsmen migrated, temporarily or permanently, from Athens to Corinth, from Corinth to Etruria, and so on. Economic opportunities were one factor causing men to move, local crises, as frequently of a political as of an economic nature, were another. Underpopulation was at least as common a worry for cities as was overpopulation and newcomers were often welcome. Intermarriage with non- Greeks was frequent: the philosopher Thales is said by Herodotus to have had Phoenician ancestry; Pherecydes’ father seems to have come from southern Anatolia; the historian Herodotus himself came from Halikarnassos, a mixed Greek and Carian community within the Persian empire; the historian Thucydides’ father’s line came from Thrace. Sparta, perhaps already in the archaic period, and Athens, from the mid fifth century, were unusual in the way in which they prevented men or women from other Greek cities from acquiring the same rights as, or even marrying, existing members of the community. HESIOD AND HOMER Greek literature starts with a bang with the monumental Theogony and Works and Days of Hesiod and the Iliad and Odyssey ascribed to ‘Homer’. All four works are the products of oral traditions with long histories of which traces remain, but the nature of the oral traditions behind the works of Hesiod is rather less clear than that behind ‘Homer’, and Hesiod may owe his unique position in part to being able to plug in to both mainland, and, perhaps through his father, Aeolian traditions. That it is these poems that survive to represent the oral traditions may be connected not just to their high quality but to the way in which they gave a pan-Hellenic appeal to what had previously been local traditions, at the moment when the Greek world was significantly expanding its horizons.12 Hesiod’s works are not epic adventure stories but didactic poems aiming directly to teach: morality and practical wisdom in the case of the Works and Days, and the structure of the world of the gods in the case of the Theogony. Neither of Hesiod’s poems has any real successor extant in the corpus of Greek literature or any obvious impact on the imagination of visual artists, but comments and complaints in later writers, both philosophers and others, make it clear that knowledge of his works was widespread and that public views of the gods owed much to them. Herodotus (II.53.1–2) wrote that, It was only the day before yesterday, so to speak, that the Greeks came to understand where the gods originated from, whether they all existed always, and what they were like in their visible forms. For Hesiod and Homer, I think, lived not more than four hundred years ago. These are they who composed a theogony for the Greeks, gave epithets to the gods, distinguished their spheres of influence and of activity, and indicated their visible forms. Hesiod’s influence on poets is clearest not in the immediately succeeding period but in Hellenistic times. The Works and Days belongs to the genre of wisdom literature familiar from Near Eastern examples and well represented in the Old Testament. The end of the poem consists of a succession of maxims about what to do, or not do, and when (‘Don’t piss standing and facing the sun’; ‘On the eighth of the month geld the boar and loud-bellowing bull, but hard-working mules on the twelfth’). But the beginning of the poem structures its advice on how to live around a more specific situation, a dispute, whether real or invented, between Hesiod and his brother Perses over sharing out the land inherited from their father. Not only does this introduce us to Hesiod’s expectations about dispute settlement—it is clear that local rulers, ‘bribe-devouring princes’, decide such matters—and about agricultural life,13 but it gives scope for a mythological explanation of the need for labour in terms of two separate myths, the myth of the ‘five ages’ and that of Prometheus and Pandora. Through these myths Hesiod ties issues of justice to theological issues, and attempts to make the arbitrary features of the natural world, so manifest in the collection of maxims with which this poem ends, comprehensible within a systematic structure. In doing so Hesiod actually takes over the function of the king as the authority who by his judgements determines what is and what is not right, implicitly raising the issue of how, and by whom, political decisions should be made.14 The myth of the five ages (Works and Days, lines 109–201) explains both the current state of the world and also the existence of beings between humans and gods. It tells how once the gods made a race of gold, who lived in happiness, plenty and leisure, but when this generation died it was replaced by a race of silver who respected neither each other nor the gods, to whom they did not sacrifice as they should, and were short-lived; these two generations have become two orders of daimones. The third generation was a strong race of bronze, smitten with war and destroyed by their own hands, which was replaced by a more just, godlike, race of heroes, including the heroes who fought at Troy, demigods who were taken to dwell in the isles of the blest. After the heroes came the current generation, the race of iron, marked by the disappearance of youth and destined itself for destruction after lives marked by injustice. The interest of this myth lies in the way in which it is not simply a story of decline from a golden age: Hesiod’s picture of the race of silver is extremely negative, that of the race of heroes rather more positive. What is more, the neat sequence of metals in order of value is upset by the introduction of the generation of heroes. Hesiod exploits the structures offered by the ageing processes of the natural world and the value-system of exchange of metal to provide a model for a hierarchy of powers between humanity and gods, but at the same time he introduces systematic contrasts between just and unjust behaviour, between good competition and evil strife, which tie this myth into the overall concerns of his poem. He is doing ethics as well as theology.15 Hesiod’s concern not just with theology but, as it were, with its practical consequences, emerges still more clearly in the myth of Prometheus and Pandora, a myth which he explores not only in Works and Days (lines 42–105) but also in the Theogony (lines 507–616). In Works and Days Hesiod tells how Prometheus (whose name means ‘Forethought’) stole fire from the gods, hiding it in a fennel stalk, and Zeus in punishment had the other gods fashion Pandora who is given as wife to Prometheus’ brother Epimetheus (Afterthought); with her she brings a jar from which comes all the mischief in the world. In the Theogony Hesiod tells how when gods and mortals were separated from one another at Mekone Prometheus divided up an ox unequally and tricked Zeus into taking the pan consisting merely of fat and bones. In revenge Zeus withholds fire from humanity (so rendering possession of meat useless), but Prometheus then steals fire and Zeus has Pandora, and through her the race of women, made as a punishment (no mention of a jar or of Epimetheus), and Prometheus himself is fastened in torment, his liver perpetually devoured by a bird, until Zeus agrees to have Herakles free him in order to glorify Herakles, his bastard son. Both these stories turn on concealment and trickery: Prometheus makes Zeus take a worthless gift that looks good, and then runs away with a good gift (fire) that looks worthless (a fennel stalk); Zeus makes men take a gift that looks good (woman in her finery) but turns out to be full of trouble. In the context of the Works and Days Hesiod’s telling of the myth emphasizes that there are no free gifts in this world and no avoiding hard labour. In the context of the Theogony his telling of the myth not only explains Greek sacrificial practice but emphasizes both the parallelism and the divide between humanity and the gods. Human life as we know it depends on women and on the fact that men, like Epimetheus, find them desirable and only think about the consequences later; in that way human life depends on men’s ‘bad faith’ in giving the gods the worthless portion of the sacrifice. At the same time human life as we know it also depends upon sharing all the gifts of the gods, including the fire which makes tricking the gods out of meat worthwhile. The deceitful relationship of humans to gods itself mirrors the deceitful relationship of humans to beasts which is required by arable agriculture, which needs the labour input of oxen but must reduce to a minimum the number of appetites satisfied during the winter, and which is most dramatically demonstrated in feeding up domestic animals for sacrificial slaughter: human life both depends on perpetuating, but also concealing, acts of bad faith to beasts, and suffers from the gods’ concealment of good things (the grain concealed in the ground) and from their bad faith (producing irregular fruitfulness in plant and beast).16 The use of these myths by Hesiod reveals a concern to find some way of understanding how humanity relates to the world and some reason behind human ritual activities. The course of the mythical narrative assumes that actions are reasonably responded to by like actions, assumes the principle of reciprocity, while recognizing also that bad faith may be ongoing. The place of the myth in the Works and Days, in particular, constitutes an argument that recognition of the way reciprocity operates involves a commitment to labour, as well as a commitment to justice. Although never spelt out by Hesiod in those terms, the whole structure of his account of the gods presupposes that justice is a principle respected among gods as well as mortals. Hesiod generally appears in histories of early Greek philosophy for his cosmogony and cosmology, and indeed the account near the beginning of the Theogony (lines 116ff.) of ‘Chaos’ (‘Gap’) coming to be first and then Earth, Tartaros (Hell), Eros (Desire), Night and Day, etc. being successively created does seem to represent an important conceptual leap by comparison with Near Eastern cosmologies or indeed with the highly anthropomorphic succession myth which follows in the Theogony.17 I have dwelt here, at some length and in some detail, on rather different aspects of Hesiod’s poetry in order to bring out something of the importance of his overall enterprise in the history of Greek thought. Hesiod’s poems are not simply rag-bags in which genealogies and maxims are collected, they employ genealogical myths in order to support not just maxims but a set of social priorities.18 The struggles between successive generations of gods, in the Theogony, struggles which have been argued to owe something, perhaps at some rather earlier stage of the oral tradition, to Near Eastern succession myths, are used to put both order and hierarchy into the divine pantheon. The Works and Days constitutes an argument that the struggle between Hesiod and Perses should be settled in the light of the principles which emerge from the Prometheus myth. The congruence of human and divine worlds, which is implicit within any anthropomorphic religion, is here being used to establish consequences for human society. This mode of argument, not to be found in the Near Eastern literature, is an important forerunner for some early Ionian philosophy, one might note in particular Anaximander’s claim that things in the material world ‘pay penalty and retribution to each other for their injustice according to the assessment of time’. Homer’s place in and influence on the culture of the Greek polis is more manifest than that of Hesiod, no doubt in part because the Iliad and Odyssey had an institutionalized place in the Greek city through their festival performance by rhapsodes. Although neither artists nor dramatists choose, on the whole, to make their works dependent on the details of Homer’s texts, the spirit of the Homeric poems comes to pervade classical Athenian art and drama. The extent to which modes of thought and argument characteristic of later philosophical thought, and particularly arguments about ethical and moral values on the one hand and self-conscious analysis of the means of persuasion on the other, are also anticipated in the Homeric poems has, however, frequently been underestimated, and it is to those aspects of the Homeric poems that most attention will be given in what follows. Much work on Homer during this century has been devoted to exploring the oral tradition out of which Iliad and Odyssey were created. This work has made it clear, on the one hand, that the techniques and building blocks required to create these monumental poems were forged over a long period. The Iliad and Odyssey are built upon a skeleton of repeated name-epithet combinations and repeated scenes, which constitute about a third of the poems, which enabled a poet to reconstruct, rather than simply repeat from memory, a poem in performing it. Those repeated phrases and scenes made possible monumental composition, and to some extent shaped the subject-matter, personnel, and the sorts of things said about them; but they did not foreclose on the poet’s free choice at any point or determine the order of scenes or development of the narrative. It is likely that many of the stories told in Iliad and Odyssey were stories that had been told before, but telling them in the particular context in which Iliad and Odyssey (re)tell them is the decision of the monumental composer(s) responsible for these poems. As strife is at the centre of Theogony and Works and Days so also it is at the centre of Iliad and Odyssey. The Iliad relates the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek expedition against Troy, over whether Agamemnon had the right to claim a captive girl, Briseis, who had initially been awarded to Achilles, when the girl awarded to himself had been reclaimed by her father. Achilles withdraws his labour from the battlefield in protest at Agamemnon’s seizure of the girl, and is deaf to an appeal made to him to rejoin the fray after the Greeks have proceeded to have the worst of it. Finally he agrees to let his companion Patroclus enter battle, wearing his armour, Patroclus is killed by the Trojan champion Hector and Achilles himself re-enters battle to take revenge on Hector whom he kills and mercilessly drags round the walls of Troy. The poem ends with Achilles agreeing to ransom the body of Hector to his aged father Priam who comes alone to the Greek camp for the purpose. The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus’ homecoming to Ithaca, with its many violent and remarkable encounters with fabulous creatures, both vicious and virtuous, on the way, and his violent resolution of the struggle for control in Ithaca between his son Telemachus and the suitors assembled to claim the hand of Odysseus’ wife Penelope. The Iliad is not the story of a war and its topic is not the sack of Troy. The struggle upon which it focuses is not the struggle between Greeks and Trojans— indeed it has recently been stressed that the Iliad does not treat Trojans as barbarians, as a people inferior in nature or morals to the Greeks19—but that between Achilles and Agamemnon. This struggle raises issues of authority, allegiance, of conflict between different virtues, and of glory as a zero-sum game: one man’s glory is bought at the cost of others’ suffering and death. Although scholars have often written as if the Iliad simply illustrates the ‘heroic code’ of behaviour, in fact the struggle between Agamemnon and Achilles is based on a disagreement about ethics and value, and both in the case of the attempts to persuade Achilles to change his mind and in the case of his final agreement to ransom the body of Hector issues of ethics and value are argued about and decisions are made on the basis of changing judgements about them.20 But the poem is not simply about morality; basic political and theological issues are subject to debate too. In what follows I will indicate briefly some of the major issues that are raised. The quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles questions the limits of Agamemnon’s authority: Achilles has come to Troy to please Agamemnon and with the promise of honour to be won, and the question is what Agamemnon can do without forfeiting that loyalty, without outweighing the honour with dishonour. Early in the quarrel Achilles raises the question of Agamemnon’s own abilities in war, claiming that he never goes out to fight, with the implication that his claims to leadership and booty are thereby compromised: status and office, on this view, are not enough. The aged Nestor responds to this by urging Agamemnon not to pull rank and Achilles to respect Agamemnon’s office, on the grounds that their dispute does good only to their enemies, as if office should command authority even if it is unable to assert itself. Nestor himself is heard but ignored. The issue of who has and who speaks with authority is sharply raised again in Book II: when Thersites joins in the attack on Agamemnon, using terms which are generally milder than those employed by Achilles, he is smartly treated to physical punishment by Odysseus, who goes on to call for loyalty not because of who Agamemnon is but because to depart from Troy empty-handed would be to lose face. In Book IX the issue of Agamemnon’s authority is once more raised, over his shortcomings as a deviser of counsel revealed in his desire to abandon the expedition: Diomedes questions Agamemnon’s authority on the grounds that Agamemnon lacks courage—so turning back on Agamemnon an allegation he had once made about Diomedes—only to have Nestor, once more, intervene with rival advice which he presses on the grounds that his age gives him authority. Nestor goes on to urge that Agamemnon’s authority requires that he be prepared to receive as well as give advice. Exploration of the techniques of persuasion is closely tied into the issue of authority.21 When, in Book IX, Nestor again urges Agamemnon to placate Achilles he adopts a formal mode of address: ‘Most glorious son of Atreus, lord of men Agamemnon, I will finish with you and start from you because you are lord of many men and Zeus has entrusted you with the sceptre and power to decide what is law, in order that you might take counsel for them.’ This rhetoric successfully softens the critical sentiments which follow, and makes it possible for Agamemnon to admit that he was wrong. When, as a result, an embassy is sent to Achilles, the opening speech of Odysseus is marked by arguments deployed in a sequence showing consummate skill. He begins by explaining the dire need that the Greeks have of him, and goes on to appeal to Achilles’ father’s advice to and expectations of his son, and to enumerate the immediate and prospective rewards Achilles will receive if he re-enters battle, including the prospect of political authority back in Greece, before reiterating the appeal to pity the Greeks, this time adding the imminent prospect of killing Hector. Achilles’ response is very different in kind, an outpouring whose effect is created not by any carefully reasoned sequence of points but by vivid similes (‘I have been like a bird bringing her unfledged nestlings every morsel that she takes, however badly off she is herself), by urgent rhetorical questions, by the increasingly direct and passionate way in which he reacts to what Odysseus has said, and by the way in which he spells out himself what Odysseus diplomatically left unsaid. The tension between logic and passion, and indeed the impossibility of ethical argument which does not involve both, is brilliantly highlighted by this interchange, and further explored in the exchanges which follow between Achilles and his old tutor, Phoenix. Gods frequently intervene directly in the course of events throughout the Iliad, and issues of the powers and morality of the gods are repeatedly in play. Human characters express the view that the gods support morality, but the debates and decisions on Olympus reveal no such moral imperative; so Menelaus (Iliad XIII. 620–22) assumes that Zeus will destroy Troy because of Paris’s abuse of hospitality, but Zeus shows no awareness of this responsibility in the Council of the Gods in Iliad IV. Indeed what debates on Olympus reveal is that divine interests are in conflict and that there is a constant bargaining between gods as to whose interest is to prevail. Disputes among the gods are conducted much as are human disputes, although in the Iliad trickery is predominantly a divine attribute. But gods differ from mortals in two important respects: first, among gods there is an all powerful figure who can insist that his will be done; Agamemnon may be better than other men (Iliad I.281) but Zeus is best (Iliad I.581) and when Zeus warns that the consequences of resisting him are terrible (Iliad I.563) we know that that means something rather different from when Agamemnon says the same thing (Iliad I.325); second, gods are immortal and the divine perspective is longer than the human perspective, so that major events in human life can be seen to be resolved over the longer course of time. Through conflicting divine interests and powerful divine oversight the Iliad explores and explains the existence of evil and moral dilemmas.22 The struggle at the heart of the Odyssey also raises issues of authority and theology, but it raises further issues too upon which I wish to focus here.23 Plato has Socrates quote the father of his friend Eudicus as saying that ‘the Iliad is a finer poem than the Odyssey by as much as Achilles is a better man than Odysseus’ (Hippias Minor 363b), and it is Odysseus’ cautious, secretive and deceitful behaviour that introduces a whole new set of issues into the Odyssey. The poem traces Odysseus’ return from his long enforced residence with the nymph Calypso to his eventual triumph, against all the odds, over the suitors on Ithaca to reclaim his wife and his political control—although we are told of further wanderings to come. The story of how Odysseus came to be stranded with Calypso, which Odysseus tells to the Phaeacians with whom he is next washed up, the stories of the homecomings of other Greek heroes told in the course of the epic, and the episode of the slaughter of the suitors are all strongly moral: in every case before disaster strikes warnings are given about the consequences of behaviour which breaks the rules. Although magic plays a larger part in this poem than in the Iliad, it is the logic of morality rather than any supernatural force or arbitrary intervention of the gods that governs events. Even Odysseus brings disaster upon himself and his companions by ignoring wise advice or by arrogant behaviour—as in the foolish bravado which reveals his identity to the Cyclops when he mocks him as he departs. By the end of the poem Odysseus himself is generally more circumspect, but he retains a tendency to be so excessively cautious about revealing more than he has to that, as his failure to reveal what was in the bag of winds led his companions to ruin by opening it, so his reluctance to reveal his identity to his own father Laertes leads to Laertes’ unnecessary grief. Reticence as well as rashness can be a fault, and getting it right in every circumstance demands powers of foresight which are greater than even Odysseus’ accumulated experience of human feelings and motives can supply. Odysseus’ deception of others, as he spins false tales of his identity to all he meets, not only raises moral issues, it also raises issues about language and representation. Odysseus’ briefest deceptive tale is also the most famous: his claim to the Cyclops Polyphemos that ‘No One is my name; my mother and father and all other companions call me No One’ (IX.366–7), a claim which leads Polyphemos to tell the other Cyclopes that ‘No One is killing me’. There are two jokes here, not just one, for according to the rules of Greek syntax ‘No One’ appears in two forms, Ou tis and Me_ tis, and the latter form is indistinguishable from the word me_tis, meaning ‘guile’ or ‘deceit’ (as also in the repeated phrase Polyme_tis Odysseus, ‘Odysseus of the many wiles’). This brief demonstration of the way in which to name is to tell or imply a story, and not simply to refer to some object, of the way in which the name is ‘inscribed in the network of differences which makes up social discourse’24 paves the way to the repeated deceptive tales of the second half of the Odyssey. Six times in the second half of the Odyssey Odysseus spins long false tales about his past, in all but the last to Laertes claiming to be a Cretan. These tales, which are closely akin to the tales told of their own past by such figures as Eumaios and Theoclymenos, themselves tell of acts of deception. They draw from those who hear them concrete reactions, reactions which reveal the qualities of listener (as Penelope’s deceitful tale to Odysseus about their bed is what draws Odysseus to reveal himself), and also concrete actions (Odysseus gets a cloak out of Eumaios for one of his tales, having failed to get the promise of one out of an earlier tale). But they also reveal Odysseus himself: the tales are not merely ‘like the truth’ (XIX.203), they are telling about Odysseus, literally (the fictive characters he claims to be claim various things about Odysseus), in the sense that the fictive characters do resemble Odysseus, and in the sense that part of what it is to be Odysseus is to be a teller of tales. But Odysseus’ fictions do something still more dramatic: they raise the question of how we distinguish truth and falsehood. If Odysseus’ tales in the second half of the Odyssey are deceptive, how can we be sure that the tale he tells in Phaeacia, the tale of his wanderings, of Circe, the Cyclops, Calypso and the rest, is not also partly or wholly deceptive? In raising this question, the boundary between fact and fiction, and the role which fiction, including works such as the Odyssey itself, plays, are themselves opened up for scrutiny. It is impossible to read the Odyssey without having your attention drawn to the way in which people create themselves by creating their own past, by telling their own story, and without appreciating the power which stories about the past have to determine action in the present. It is perhaps not surprising that while it is hard to find a Greek before Alexander the Great who had a life-story modelled on Achilles, many politicians, perhaps most notably Themistocles, seem to have had one modelled on Odysseus. To grow up with Hesiod and Homer, as the children of the Greek polis did from the seventh century onwards, was to grow up familiar, among other things, with moral dilemmas, with questions of how political authority is earned and jeopardized, with issues of the relationship between individual and group, with sensitivity to the theological basis for human action, and with an awareness of the tricky way in which language creates people and events even as it represents them. Although in their course these poems tell many ‘myths’, it is not as a repository of myths that they made their mark on later generations, but as introductions to modes of thought and of argument, and to the ways in which language represents issues. Such discussions of what sort of life a person should lead continue to dominate Greek poetry (and drama) from Homer and Hesiod onwards, in a culture where the poet both aspired to, and was expected to, offer moral instruction.25 RELIGION: RITUALS, FESTIVALS AND IMAGES OF THE GODS Concentration on the Homeric poems as exemplary explorations of moral, ethical and rhetorical problems can make it seem as if moral and ethical issues arose only out of struggles for power. As we will see, struggles for political power were indeed important in the archaic city, but it would be wrong to imagine the political to be the only context for debate. To grow up in the Greek city was to grow up in a world where life was shaped from the beginning by rituals, rituals in which encountering the gods was regular and important. The entry for the year 776 BC in Eusebius’ Chronology notes both that this was the year of the first Olympiad and that, ‘From this time Greek history is believed accurate in the matter of chronology. For before this, as anyone can see, they hand down various opinions.’ That the history of the Greek city should be deemed to be reliable from the time of the first Olympic games is highly appropriate, for it was indeed festal events which gave cultured regularity to the natural seasons of the year, and festal events even claimed priority over the irregular events of war and politics; wars between Greek cities respected truces for the Olympic games, meetings of the Athenian citizen body avoided festival days. Cities and groups within cities produced and displayed calendars of their ritual activities, and the conflicting claims of traditional piety and of economy might give scope for political argument. Greek religious life was markedly communal.26 The sacrifice of an animal to a god was not a solitary action, but involved—created, reflected, and defined—a group, the group of those who shared the meat. Processions, and every act of sacrifice involved at least a minimal procession, displayed the sacrificing group. In many cities the markers of growing up were ceremonies at festivals at which the young person was formally enrolled in the celebrating group. Competitions, which honoured the god for whom the festival was held by displaying the best of physical or mental prowess, as often glorified the group to which the winner belonged (his city if the victory was pan-Hellenic, his tribe in an event limited to local competitors) as the individual himself. In its festival life a city displayed itself and its divisions and citizens observed their own social as well as political place in it. It is not by chance that for many cities the surviving records are dominated by sacred laws and other records to do with sanctuaries and their running of festivals. Festivals displayed the city at leisure, however. It was not just that to compete in pan-Hellenic competitions at Olympia demanded the leisure to spare the compulsory thirty days before the event when all had to be at the site training; the competitive events, in local as well as pan-Hellenic festivals, although large in number and wide in variety, all involved achievements of little direct practical value: chariot-racing, running, physical beauty, singing and dancing, etc. There were indeed beneficial consequences of an indirect sort from such events, and even more obviously from such things as armed dancing, but neither craft skills nor mainstream fighting skills were ever displayed or tested: the drinking competition at the Athenian Anthesteria, for instance, was about speed of consumption, not quality of production. At the Olympic games victory brought honour but no tangible rewards beyond an olive wreath, but in other places there might be considerable profits to be had from victory, or even from coming second or third in an event. And the home city might add to the honours both marks of respect (Spartan Olympic victors fought next to the king in war) and further material rewards, in particular free meals.27 These rewards constituted a recognition that there was more to the city than the practical skills that directly sustained it. If their festivals dominated the calendar of the city, their temples, which housed the gods and the dedications which they attracted, dominated its buildings and often, given prominent placing on an acropolis, its skyline. In a city such as Sparta, which did not go in for monumental buildings for public business, it is the temples in and around the town which dominate the archaeological record. Cities devoted enormous resources of money and energy to temples and to the cult statues which they housed, and competition between cities is visible in the competing dimensions of temples (the Athenian Parthenon just outdoes the temple of Zeus at Olympia, for instance). Unlike festivals, temples were permanent; when the glorious processions or elaborate dramas were gone the temples remained as symbols of the devotion of resources to the gods. But not just the temples. Sanctuaries also accumulated dedications, many of them humble but others precious gold and silver plate, marble and bronze statues. Victors, and this is particularly a mark of the classical city, dedicated sculptures of athletes either at the sanctuary which was the scene of their victory, as with Gelon’s monument at Delphi, known as the Delphic Charioteer, or in their home city. It is easy to make Greek religious activities seem essentially political, contrived to enable elite groups to show off to each other and to those effectively subject to them their wealth and the prowess acquired in leisure. Festivals, on this view, sugared the pill of elite political domination by promoting solidarity through their processions, by inducing feelings of well-being through their pomp, and by rewarding attendance through nourishing with a meat meal those who gathered. But there was another side. Modern sensibilities may find it hard to see scope for religious feeling in the ritual cutting of a domestic animal’s throat, but the symbolic importance of this slaughter in an agrarian economy, where animal labour is vital but where draught animals threaten to eat up all too much of the harvest, is considerable, and the combination of elaborate ritual with the smell of fresh blood is likely to have made this a memorable and evocative sensory experience.28 More accessible to us, perhaps, is the other side of cult activity, the confrontation with the god involved in viewing the cult statue. Cult statues, and this is true of statues such as the Herms (pillars with stump arms, erect phalluses and heads of the god Hermes) found in places other than temples as well as of statues in temples, regularly stare straight forward towards viewer/ worshipper, and some temples certainly used external sculpture or other devices to enhance the revelation of the god. So, at Lykosoura in Arcadia, Pausanias tells us that as you come out of the temple of Despoina and Demeter ‘there is a mirror fitted to the wall; when you look into this mirror you see yourself very dimly or not at all, but you have a clear view of the goddesses and their throne’ (VIII.37. 7).29 This stress on revelation is something which seems to have been further developed in certain ‘mystery’ cults into which, unlike normal sacrificial cult, specific initiation was required, though what was revealed seems not normally to have been images of the deity. Without awareness of this intensity of religious experience, the theological speculations of Empedocles or of the Pythagoreans (see Chapters 4, 5) can only seem inexplicably eccentric. It is likely that animal sacrifice was a feature of cult in the Greek world from an early date, but the presentation of the god in sculptural form developed, along with the canonical schemes of Greek temple architecture, during the archaic period. Clay figurines that may have functioned as cult statues in Crete are known from the Dark Ages, and from the eighth century the Cretan site of Dreros has yielded some hammered bronze statues that may have been cult images. But the nature of the divine presence in the temple changed markedly with the development of monumental stone sculpture in the late seventh and the sixth centuries, and the gold and ivory excesses of the Athenian Parthenon and the temple of Zeus at Olympia took yet further advantage of the overpowering force of large-scale sculpture. Even more liable to change were the dedications with which the gods and their temples were surrounded: the nature of dedications in any single sanctuary changes over time (so at Olympia dedications of animal figurines are extremely common during the eighth century but decrease dramatically in number in the seventh century), and one sanctuary differs from another even within the confines of the same city.30 Certain differences in dedicatory assemblage seem determined by the identity and interests of the deity involved, but it is clear that even within a polytheistic system there was no neat compartmentalization of interests restricting the invocation of specific deities to specific areas of life. Not that the influence of political factors can be ruled out, even here: that ‘exclusive’ Sparta has many dedications at the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia that are influenced by oriental products but few actual oriental dedications seems more than coincidental. POLITICS, CONSTITUTIONS, LAWS: THE CONSEQUENCES OF LITERACY? It is exclusive Sparta that provides some of our earliest detailed data about constitutional arrangements. In the world of Homer and Hesiod the basis for the power of particular rulers may be disputed and the way they carry out their rule despised but there is no sign that there are formal rules within which they operate. Beginning from the seventh century, however, there is epigraphic and literary evidence for quite widespread concern to define and limit the role of those in authority.31 The Spartan evidence is literary: Plutarch quotes, almost certainly from Aristotle’s work The Constitution of the Lakedaimonians, an enactment known as the Great Rhetra which, having referred rather obscurely to two subdivisions of the citizen body, tribes and obes, enjoins that the Kings and Council of Elders are to hold a regular assembly at a specified site and that the people in the assembly should have the right to speak and to decide to do or not to do things; crooked decisions by the people, however, may be laid aside by the kings and elders. The antiquity of this enactment seems guaranteed because the seventh-century poet Tyrtaeus paraphrases it in an elegy also quoted by Plutarch. The precise circumstances in which these rules were formulated are irrecoverable, as is the manner in which they were preserved in a city which later prided itself on not writing down laws, but despite this uncertainty the Great Rhetra is of central importance because of its concern with the authority of offices and the role it grants the people as a whole. A similar concern with defining the authority of named office holders appears on laws preserved on stone from other parts of the Greek world in the seventh century. At Dreros, in Crete, a single enactment was passed stipulating that when a man had held the (annual) office of kosmos he could not hold it again for ten years, and that if he did arrogate to himself the judicial powers of the kosmos after the end of his term of office then he should be punished with a double fine, loss of the right to hold office again, and the invalidation of his actions. At Tiryns in the Argolid recently discovered fragments of a series of injunctions reveal a whole network of officials: platiwoinoi, who are perhaps pourers of libations of wine, platiwoinarchoi, the officials in charge of the platiwoinoi, a hieromnemon or sacred remem-brancer, who is a man with powers to impose fines and not just a repository of traditional knowledge, a popular court and an epignomon, who has authority to order the whole people about.32 Without the onset of literacy we would not have all this evidence about detailed legal arrangements. But was literacy actually a factor in enabling law to happen in the first place? It has certainly been suggested in the past that literacy encourages, if it does not require, certain intellectual operations which an oral culture manages to do without: logical deduction and exercises in classification, it is claimed, feed upon, if they do not rely upon, written lists, and writing allows more thorough analysis of the modes of communication.33 The ancients themselves certainly thought that writing, and in particular the writing down of law, made a difference. Euripides has Theseus in the Suppliant Women (lines 433–4) say, ‘When the laws have been written down, both the weak and the rich have equal justice’, a view echoed by Aristotle. No one would argue for widespread ability either to write or to read in archaic Greece, so how plausible are these views that the existence of writing changed how people thought or how they interacted with each other? Whether or not one believes that the Homeric poems, which only once refer to writing (Iliad VI.168–9), were themselves written down shortly after 700 BC, they reveal that the oral culture in which they were created was distinctly capable of analysing techniques of communication and making play with subtle variations in wording. Equally, it is clear that law did not have to be written to be fixed: ‘remembrancers’, who continue to exist even when law is written, seem to have been charged with the precise recall of enactments, and references to early law being sung suggest that music was one means by which precision of memory was ensured. Nor does the fixing of law at all guarantee ‘equal justice’, for, as the procedural emphasis of so much early written law itself emphasizes, power remains with the interpreters of the law.34 What writing does enable is communication at a distance, something with considerable consequences for the general dissemination of information. Even once writing was available, much that might have been written down continued to be unwritten, and it is not clear that communications which were of their nature dependent upon writing developed before the invention of the architectural treatise, giving the precise ‘rules’ according to which a particular building was created, in the sixth century BC There might be a stronger case for believing that law codes, rather than simply law itself, were literacy dependent, but although later tradition talks of early lawgivers inventing whole codes of laws for cities, the earliest laws look to have been single enactments brought in to deal with particular problems. And it is significant that while the disputes to be settled in Iliad XVIII, where Achilles’ new shield’s scene of city life includes a dispute being settled, and in Hesiod’s Works and Days are personal, disputes over property and homicide, these early laws are dominated by broadly ‘constitutional’ issues. Other evidence too suggests that political arrangements were very much under discussion in the seventh century, and that the question of the authority of particular offices and officials was a crucial one. The situation which is imagined in the Dreros law, that a magistrate takes advantage of the possibilities for popular support which an office with a judicial role offers in order to ignore the time limit set upon the holding of that office, is precisely the situation which one late source alleges enabled Cypselos to become tyrant in Corinth: he gained popular support by the way in which he settled the cases which came to him as polemarch and then refused to hand on the office. Such seizures of power by individuals are a mark of the archaic period in the Greek cities, but tyrants were not at all restricted to the archaic period; they can be found, and not just in Sicily, throughout the classical period. Greek tyrants were not necessarily despotic, though most later accumulated some tales about a ‘reign of terror’, and they did not necessarily take all powers into their own hands, many simply overseeing the continued functioning of the existing constitution but controlling access to and the execution of magistracies.35 It was not simply magisterial authority which gave the opportunity to the ambitious individual to seize power. Disputes between groups within a city might equally give an individual a chance to insert himself as a person who could bring stability. At Athens factional disputes, fuelled by popular discontent with the unequal distribution of resources, not only produced an attempted coup in the late seventh century, when an Olympic victor endeavoured to cash in that glory for political power, but led in the first decade of the sixth century to the granting of extraordinary powers to one man, Solon, to reform the laws and the constitution. So much is later falsely ascribed to Solon that it is unclear what exactly the limits of his legal reforms were, but there is no reason to doubt that he not only took a stand on major social and economic issues such as debtbondage, but also reformed legal procedure to make recourse to law more practical, and regulated all aspects of citizens’ lives, including agricultural practice, verbal abuse, testamentary disposition, and funerals. Although even in the case of Solon it is probably an exaggeration to talk of a ‘law code’, he seems to have attempted to deal with sources of discontent over a very wide range. Without success. Within a few years one magistrate had attempted to keep his powers beyond their allotted span, and within half a century protracted factional disputes gave an opportunity for Peisistratos, backed by mercenary troops, to establish himself as tyrant. Possession of overriding power by a particular individual was rarely popular with all, and much of the continued foundation of settlements elsewhere by Greeks should probably be seen as prompted by dissatisfaction with the regime in the home city, if it was not occasioned by actual expulsion of a group. Two episodes of colonization by Sparta, the colonization of Taras in south Italy c.700 and the two attempts to found a city by Dorieus at the end of the sixth century, are traditionally held to belong to these categories. Taras was founded by a group called the Partheniai whom the Spartans had expelled; Dorieus went off to colonize of his own accord to get away from his half-brother Cleomenes when the latter succeeded to the throne. Although one early tyrant, Pheidon of Argos, was later associated with military reform, most tyrants seem to have left war on one side, not seeking to create empires for themselves, and to have devoted more time and resources to the buildings and institutions of the city. It was indeed during the period of the Cypselids at Corinth that Corinth acquired one of the earliest Doric temples and that Corinthian pottery became most elaborate in design and reached its widest market. But the outstanding example of the tyrant who monumentalized his city is Polycrates of Samos who was reputedly responsible for a massive mole protecting the harbour, a great tunnel more than a kilometre long dug nderneath a mountain, and an enormous temple, never completed, measuring 55 by 112 metres. Other tyrants concentrated on enterprises which more directly involved the citizens as a whole. Cleisthenes of Sikyon insisted on altering the whole internal organization of the citizen body, thereby breaking up traditional groupings and destroying old associations. The Peisistratids in Athens devoted considerable resources to the development of civic festivals, being particularly concerned with putting the performance of the Homeric poems at the Panathenaic festival in order, inviting poets from other Greek cities to their court, and perhaps developing dramatic festivities at the festival of the Great Dionysia.36 Individual cities, once they had removed their tyrants, tended to remember them as repressive, perhaps in part to cover the truth about widespread collaboration with a regime no longer regarded as politically correct.37 But one of those subject to the nastiest tales, Periander son of Cypselos and tyrant of Corinth, came, along with certain men now regarded as philosophers and such mediator figures as Solon, to be regarded as a ‘sage’ and found his way on to a list of ‘seven sages’ (in fact seventeen men figure on some list or other of seven sages in antiquity). A variety of anecdotes accumulated around these figures, but the source of their reputation for wisdom seems to lie with their poetic compositions (even Periander is said to have written a didactic poem of some 2, 000 lines), their reputation for political astuteness (Thales is said to have advised the Milesians not to ally themselves with Croesus the king of Lydia), and their prominence as performers of effective practical gestures (Bias of Priene got good terms for his city from Alyattes of Lydia by producing fat donkeys and sand heaps covered in grain to suggest enormous prosperity).38 The probable falsity of most of the stories, and indeed the quasi-fictional nature of some of the sages themselves, is unimportant: what these stories show is the particular characterization of worldly wisdom in the culture of the Greek polis. In many of the stories, the sage does not himself say anything but simply points to the relevance of an everyday scene: in a single transferable anecdote one tyrant is said to have advised another on how to control his city by walking into a cornfield and slashing off the ears of those stalks of grain that grew taller than the rest. It is the ability to take advantage of ambiguity and deceptive appearance and to see the parallelism between disparate situations that marks out the wise man. The admiration for the ‘practical joker’ embodied in Homer’s image of Odysseus and in the tradition of the seven sages is a central feature of that characteristic aristocratic form of association, the symposium. From the classical period we have selective descriptions of symposia from both Xenophon and Plato but our knowledge of the archaic symposium is largely dependent on the literature and pottery produced for it.39 It was a setting for performance both formal and extemporized (where song passed round the circle of guests and each was expected to cap the previous singer’s lines), accompanied by the aulos. A favourite ploy of the singer is to imagine himself as a character, not necessarily male, in a particular situation which has some analogical relevance to the actual situation; the listeners are invited to see their environment as if it were another, and so to see it with new eyes. Much sympotic poetry is explicitly political, with storms and shipwrecks proving images as appropriate to turmoil within the city as to inebriation, much also is personal and concerned in particular with the life of love, and much is self-reflexive. The personal side dominated the games of the symposium, such as the game of kottabos in which the last drops of wine were flung from the flat cup and aimed at or dedicated to one’s lover, and that side is most evident in sympotic pottery. Sympotic pottery reflects the symposium both directly, with images of reclined symposiasts, singers at the symposium, and so on, and also indirectly: it is full of jokes. There are explicitly joke vases, vases with hidden compartments which enable them to be filled as if by magic, dribble vases, and so on. Many cups have eyes painted on them, but some take the analogy with the body further, replacing the standard round foot, which the drinker grips to raise the cup for drinking, by male genitalia. The images on the vases take the jokes further, extending the sea imagery of the poetry by having ships or sea creatures swimming on the wine, concealing images of inebriation at the bottom of the cup, or exploring the limits of acceptable sympotic behaviour by representing satyrs behaving unacceptably. The cultural importance of the symposium lies in part in the context which it provided for poetic and artistic creativity: almost all surviving archaic elegaic poetry, including the poetry of the ‘philosopher’ Xenophanes, was written for the symposium; and whether or not directly made for use at symposia, the imagery of much archaic Athenian pottery presupposes and exploits the sympotic context. But the symposium is important too for the way in which it provided a microcosm of the city itself in which the issues of city life were explored in an intensely self-critical milieu. Drinking at the symposium was strictly regulated by rule and convention, political positions were explored, personal relations were exposed and the boundary between private and public behaviour both tested and patrolled. As there was no room for inhibitions, so also there was no room for pomposity. Dominated by the elite, and often closely linked with official or religious events, the symposium was nevertheless always oppositional, a forum for disagreement rather than laudation. In the symposium the competitive ethos encouraged in religious festivals was internalized and intellectualized. MYTHOLOGY: INVENTION, MANIPULATION The world of sympotic poetry is largely the present world of everyday experience; the world of epic and of temple sculpture is a world of the mythological past; archaic painted pottery shares in each of these worlds, and also in the timeless world of the fantastic. The observed world of shipwrecks, of political struggles, and of wolves surrounded by hunting dogs, and the fabulous world inhabited by centaurs and the heroes of epic tales, are taken up by writers and artists of the archaic age as equally good to think with. Solon finds an image for his own political stance in the battlefield: ‘I threw a strong shield around both parties and did not allow either unjustly to get the upper hand’ (fr. 5 West); Sappho finds an image for the power of desire in Helen’s desertion of Menelaus (fr. 27 Diehl);40 Pindar repeatedly invokes the world of myth to promote thinking about the glorious achievements of the athletes whom his victory odes celebrate. What is notable is that the immediate past, what we would call ‘history’, has little or no exemplary role in archaic Greek art or literature. The distinction between ‘myth’ and ‘history’ with which we operate is not a distinction made by any Greek writer before the late fifth century.41 The terms which come, in the hands of Thucydides, Plato and others, to stand for the opposing poles of ‘myth’ and ‘reason’, muthos and logos, are used virtually interchangeably by earlier writers. Even Herodotus, ‘the father of history’, writing in the 430s or 420s BC happily regards Homer, Hesiod, and the Trojan War as having the same status. This is important not because it shows how ‘unsophisticated’ even fifth-century Greeks continued to be, but because it reveals that despite the possibilities of written records, the past had not yet become something fixed. Pindar’s First Olympian Ode, with its explicit rejection of one version of the story of Pelops for another less gruesome one, shows that different ‘versions’ of the ‘same’ myth coexisted; and so too different versions of the past. Herodotus’ Histories are distinguished from most later histories in the ancient world (as well as from what most modern historians write) by their willingness to give more than one version of a past event—we have the Theran and the Cyrenaean version of the colonization of Cyrene from Thera—and by Herodotus’ declared indifference to the truth of the versions he relates: ‘It is my duty to record what is said, but not my duty to give it complete credence’ (VII. 152.3). Aristotle calls Herodotus a ‘mythologist’, a teller of exemplary tales (On the Generation of Animals 756b6). Many subsequent readers of Herodotus have found his apparent indifference to the truth of the stories which he repeats incomprehensible or even scandalous. In doing so they have followed the lead given by Thucydides who points to the lack of muthos in his account of the war between Athens and Sparta, which dominated the last thirty years of the fifth century, and claims that his carefully researched account of what actually happened will be a surer guide to the future than the ‘easier listening’ which traditional story-telling produced.42 The invention of ‘mythology’ and the invention of ‘history’ went together, together with each other but also together with the invention of the category of metaphor and the scientific and philosophical revolution which that entailed.43 They also went together with a new attitude towards stories detectable in both an and literature: in art, where previously it had been the general story that had been evoked, particular texts are now illustrated; in literature, explorations of the dilemmas of myth characteristic of tragedy go out of fashion and in Hellenistic poetry (very little poetry survives from between 390 and 330) myths are now told in ways which draw attention to the art of the teller and play with a reader who is assumed to be learned enough to detect and respond to copious allusions to earlier literature. The separation of ‘myth’ from ‘history’ and the insistence that ‘metaphor’ has a distinct status can both be seen as part of a move to be more precise about the status of comparisons by directing attention at the effect of context. The issues of truth and falsehood, already explored in the Odyssey and enthusiastically taken up by the sophists as part of their interest in rhetoric, are now relentlessly pursued in the course of an attempt to find the undeceptive ‘truth’, and not merely to be aware of the ever deceptive nature of words and images. But it is tempting to see the creation of mythology as political, too. Herodotus begins his work by stating that his aim is to ensure that past events do not grow faint, to record the great achievements of Greek and barbarian, and in particular to explain how they came to fight each other. Herodotus treats the conflict between Greeks and Persians broadly, not concentrating simply on the actual battles of 490 and 480–79 BC, but taking every opportunity to delve back into the past history of the Greek cities. He ends his work, however, at the end of the Persian invasion of the Greek mainland, at a point when armed conflict between Greeks and Persians to remove the Persians from the Aegean and Asia Minor had many years still to run, years during which he himself had been alive and with whose story he must himself have been particularly familiar. By ending in 479 BC Herodotus limited himself to that part of the conflict between Greece and Persia when Greece could be presented as pursuing a broadly united course of action; from the point at which he stops the Athenians took over the leadership of the campaign, to increasingly divided reactions among other cities, and, within relatively few years, turned the pan-Hellenic ‘crusade’ into what was, they admitted, blatant imperial rule. The Persian wars, and the imperialism which they brought in their wake, changed history. This is most graphically illustrated by the contrasting role which stories of the past play in Herodotus and Thucydides. Characters in Herodotus do, from time to time at least, invoke examples from the past in order to influence present action, but they do so in a way which is only in the broadest sense political. So, Socles the Corinthian tries to discourage the Spartans from restoring tyranny to Athens by telling of the increasingly terrifying rule of the Cypselids at Corinth (Herodotus V.92): any story will do, it is the aptness of the analogy that matters, not the particular example chosen. When characters in Thucydides invoke the past it is in order to justify a present claim or excuse a past blemish, in order to determine others’ attitudes to themselves in the present, and the failures of the past are visited upon the present. So the Plataeans, when they succumb to the Spartan siege, are asked at their trial what good they have done Sparta in the past, and when they cannot come up with anything are executed: any story won’t do, it is what (you can convince others) actually happened that matters. In the archaic world of the independent city-state it was possible to live in the present. Reputations were established, friends and political power won and lost. Appeal might be made to the achievements of ancestors, and the misdeeds of ancestors used against current opponents, but few owed their current position entirely to parading past actions. Cities threatened by their neighbours tended to come to battle once a generation, and when peace was made it was for an equally short term. Persia’s intervention in Greek affairs changed that. The resistance to Persian invasion showed that uniting the military resources of many cities could give previously unimagined power; the continued threat of Persian return, reinforced by the determined ‘barbarization’ of the Persians, especially on the stage (another trend which Herodotus equally determinedly resists), prevented cities from opting out of collective action against Persia for long enough to enable the Athenians to transform the earlier voluntary union into their own empire. Sparta too, who in the sixth century had built up her Peloponnesian League by treaties of mutual advantage, found herself in the twenty years after the Persian invasion repeatedly at war with her allies; for them too independence was no option. Unlike individuals’ histories, those of cities lasted more than a generation; what actually happened, whose citizen actually betrayed the mountain path to the Persians (cf. Herodotus VII.213–14), now mattered. Where previously different people might happily tell different versions of the same events —the Therans telling one version of the colonization of Cyrene in order to keep their claims to a stake in the colony alive, the Cyrenaeans telling another to reinforce their own independence and their monarchy (Herodotus IV.150–6)44— now, getting your version accepted as true was likely to be of considerable political importance. Herodotean history focused on how Greeks constructed themselves and others through the stories they told; that sort of history of events after 479 BC was impossible, and Thucydides’ insistence that there was a single true version was inevitable in an Athenian. Not surprisingly, it is the Athenian version of events after 479 BC that Thucydides gives. The role which the essentially transferable story about the past plays in Herodotus came to be left to the now distinct world of ‘myth’ and to be at the centre of tragic drama, not prose histories.45 Aeschylus did write about the historical battle of Salamis in his Persians, and got away with it, but even before that Phrynichus, attempting to replay the Persian capture of Miletus on stage, was fined for ‘recalling to the Athenians their own misfortunes’ (Herodotus VI. 21). Otherwise fifth-century tragedy exploits a rather limited selection of myths, myths predominantly centred not on Athens but on other cities, and particularly on Thebes. Political issues are aired in these plays in generalized terms and specific items of domestic or foreign policy are rarely alluded to (scholars debate the extent to which Aeschylus’ Eumenides is an exception to this rule). Although tragedy avoids replaying Homeric stories, its explorations of clash between individual and group, of religious duty and political expediency, of deceptive means to worthwhile ends, and of representation, blindness, and the problems of communication, are very much extensions of the Homeric task.46 Tragedy takes further the self-analysis present already in the Homeric poems, with extensive exploration of the way in which people are persuaded and of the power and problems of linguistic communication. Like the Homeric poems, tragedy was for a mass audience in a festival context, as thousands of Athenians sat through three days of tragic drama, each day featuring three tragedies and a satyr play by a single playwright, possibly followed by a comedy—some eight hours or more of performance. Even once divorced from ‘history’ it was myth that continued to dominate the cultural life of the polis. POLITICAL AND CULTURAL IMPERIALISM Both Athens and Sparta engaged in imperialistic activities in the wake of the Persian Wars, so creating the possibility of what Thucydides, with some justification, regarded as the greatest war ever to have engulfed the Greek world, the long struggle which eventually reduced Athens, if only briefly, to being tied to Spartan foreign policy, no stronger than any other Greek city. But it was Athens, not Sparta nor any other Greek city, which was the home of Thucydides, of the great tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, of Socrates and of Plato. Although a leading centre of the visual arts in the sixth century, Athens can boast only one significant literary figure before the fifth century-Solon. I have suggested above that we should not neglect the importance of the Persian Wars in changing the way in which cities related one to another and changing how cities related to their own past, but the Persian invasions and their consequences will not of themselves explain the way in which Athens became the cultural centre of the Greek world, both attracting leading intellectuals from elsewhere— men like Anaxagoras or Protagoras in the fifth century, Aristotle and Theophrastus in the fourth—and also herself nurturing innovative thinkers. Contemporary observers had little doubt about the secret of Athenian success: Herodotus (V.78) observes that the military transformation of Athens which followed the expulsion of the tyrant Hippias in 510 demonstrates what an important thing it is that people should have an equal say in the running of their city. The Athenians themselves turned the annual ceremony to mark those who had died in war into the occasion for a heavily stylized speech in praise of Athenian democracy and liberty, attributing Athenian foreign policy successes and cultural hegemony alike to her constitution47 ‘Democracy’ currently carries with it a self-satisfied glow very like that which Athenian funeral orations for the war dead evoked, yet historically Athens has more frequently been held up as an example of how not to run a constitution than how to do so, and the principles upon which Athenian democracy was constructed and the principles on which modern western democracies are founded have relatively little in common.48 How justified are claims that Athens’s constitution had a transformative effect upon her cultural life and, through it, upon the history of philosophy? Herodotus is unusual among ancient writers in the importance which he ascribes to the reforms introduced by Cleisthenes in 508/7 BC. The Athenians themselves were more inclined to claim that their democratic constitution was owed to Solon, or even to Theseus.49 Cleisthenes left much unchanged, and his reforms were in any case very much in the tradition of earlier Greek constitutions. Strict controls on the duration and powers of magistracies, insistence on one magistrate checking another, the existence of popular courts and a large council, are all features that can be paralleled in the early laws and constitutions discussed above.50 The power of the mass of the people, both in assembly and in riot, is likely to have played an important part both in Peisistratos’ success in factional politics, paving the way for his tyranny, and in Cleisthenes’ own ability to bring in major reforms. Nor did Cleisthenes significantly increase the range of those in fact participating in politics. It was only in the fifth century that property qualifications for office were almost all lifted, that magistrates came to be chosen largely by lot, and that pay was introduced for those serving in Council and Courts. Cleisthenes’ achievement was not to invent new principles, or even to apply old principles more rigorously, it was to change the way Athenians related to one another. Athenian politics in the sixth century had frequently been marked by divisions on family and local lines, and Cleisthenes himself belonged to one of the families with the longest continuous history of political involvement at the highest level, the Alcmaeonidae. Cleisthenes added a whole new network of citizen groupings to the existing network, and ensured that his new groups could not be dominated by family or local ties, as the old had been. Where citizenship had previously effectively been controlled by the kin group known as the phratry, now it depended on being registered in a village community or deme; each deme returned a fixed number of representatives to the Council; the men of each deme fought in war as part of one of ten new tribal units which were made up of men from demes drawn from three different areas of Athens’ territory; villages bound to their neighbours in cult units were frequently ascribed to different tribes. The old phratries, old tribes, and old cult units were not abolished, but they could no longer dominate the lives of individuals.51 Individuals found themselves part of many different groups, there was no common denominator between the level of the individual citizen and the level of the city as a whole. Together with this removal of the individual from the dominance of the kin group went the deliverance of the city from structures founded upon the gods. Modern scholars have stressed how Cleisthenes’ demes, unlike the phratries, were not primarily cult groups, how laws now came to be regarded not as ‘given’ but as ‘made’ (nomoi rather than thesmoi) and how a whole new, secular, calendar, dividing the year into ten equal periods, was developed to run alongside the sacred calendar.52 Cleisthenes’ aims in making these changes may have been narrowly political—destroying existing power bases in order to give himself more chance of lasting political influence—but the effect was far from narrow: the citizen was effectively empowered as a rational individual. Athens’s cultural achievements were not, however, simply the product of Cleisthenic social engineering; the success of Athenian democracy was also dependent on social and economic factors, and prime among them, slavery. Just as the precocious constitutional developments in Sparta are inseparable from her exploitation of a subject population of helots who were responsible for all agricultural production, so the democratic equality of citizens in Athens was sustained only because it was possible to get ‘dirty jobs’, tasks which clearly showed up the worker’s dependent status, performed by slaves.53 Outstanding among those jobs was the mining at Laurium of the silver; this silver enabled Athens to build, in the first decades of the fifth century, the fleet by which the Persian threat was repulsed, and that victory bolstered the self-confidence vital to individual political participation, to a willingness to allow critical and speculative thought, and to the maintenance of democracy itself. The practice of democracy further stimulated critical thought.54 One measure of this is the way in which classical Greek political thought is dominated by works critical of democracy. The process of turning issues over to a mass meeting of some 6,000 or so people for debate and immediate decision raised very sharply epistemological issues of the place of expertise and of how right answers could be reached; it also raised more generally the question of natural and acquired skills. The ways in which officials carried out their duties and the reactions of the people to this raised questions about responsibility and the relationship of individual and group interests. The importance of not simply saying the right thing but saying it in the right way raised questions of rhetoric and persuasion and the ethics of dressing up bad arguments well. Critical reaction to, and exploitation of, the world in which they lived had been characteristic of the Greeks of both archaic and classical periods. Both the natural conditions of life in an area marginal for agriculture and the accident of contact with sophisticated peoples in the eastern Mediterranean can be seen to stimulate Greek cultural products from the eighth century onwards. Theological speculation in Homer, Hesiod, and embodied in the sculptural presentation of divinities, tries to make sense of the arbitrariness of human fortunes and the nature of human experience in terms of the nature of the gods; ethical issues concerning the place of the individual in the community and political issues concerning the basis of and limits to authority in Iliad and Odyssey seem directly related to cities’ concern with self-determination and constitutional experimentation; those constitutional experiments themselves show a willingness to tackle problems by emphasizing the question rather than the answer. It is in this cultural milieu that western philosophy, that the conscious asking of ‘second order questions’, is born and it is by the transformations of this milieu, as a result of the developments in internal and external politics in the Greek city, that the Sophistic Movement and the Socratic revolution grew. Just as the Greeks themselves saw poets, statesmen, and those whom we call philosophers as all ‘wise men’ (sophoi) so, I have tried to demonstrate in this chapter, it is a mistake to think that it was some particular feature of the Greek city that gave rise to ‘philosophers’, for asking philosophical questions was never the exclusive prerogative of philosophers, and it is only in the context of the culture of the Greek city as a whole that we can properly understand the development of philosophical discourse.55 NOTES 1 Thucydides II.40.1, part of the Funeral Oration. 2 So the pioneering work of Vernant [1.14]. For a classic statement see Lloyd [1.7], ch. 4 and compare [1.9], 60–7. 3 Osborne [1.12]. 4 Thomas [1.59]. 5 Powell [1.20]. 6 On the invention of the Greek alphabet see Jeffery [1.18], which contains the definitive study of the local scripts of archaic Greece. 7 See Guralnick [1.17]. 8 See generally Hurwit [1.4]. 9 See especially West [1.21], and, on Pherecydes also KRS [1.6], 50–71. 10 See Lloyd [1.7], 229–34; [1.8], ch. 2. 11 Much work on relations between Greece and the East has been stimulated in recent years by Martin Bernal’s books. For two different approaches to the problem see Morris [1.19] and Burkert [1.16]. 12 See particularly the work of Nagy [1.30, 1.31, 1.32]. 13 Millett [1.29]. 14 Nagy [1.31]. 15 My treatment here closely follows J.-P. Vernant [1.38], chs 1–2. 16 Again the pioneering analysis of the myth is by Vernant in Gordon [1.25], chs 3–4. 17 KRS 34–46. At p. 45 n. 1 the authors aptly draw attention to the similar double succession myth in Genesis: 1 and 2. 18 See West [1.41], ch. 1, [1.39], 31–9. 19 See Hall [1.27]. 20 For the view that the ‘heroic code’ is simple and unambiguous see Finley [1.23], and cf. Adkins [1.22], Against, among many, Schofield [1.36], Taplin [1.37]. 21 I take the examples which follow from Rutherford [1.35]; 60–1. 22 On the gods in the Iliad see Griffin [1.26], Redfield [1.33]. 23 For what follows see Rutherford [1.34] and [1.35]. 24 Goldhill [1.24], 36. My discussion of deception in the Odyssey owes much to Goldhill. 25 See Aristophanes Frogs 1008–112, Plato Protagoras 325e, and Heath [1.28], ch. 2. 26 On Greek religion in general see Burkert [1.43], and Bruit Zaidman and Schmitt Pantel [1.42]. 27 See Kurke [1.44]. 28 Osborne [1.12], ch. 8. 29 In general see Gordon [1.45]. For another example of elaborate preparation of the worshipper see Osborne [1.47]. 30 Morgan [1.46], esp. ch. 6. 31 On early Greek law see Gagarin [1.51] and Hölkeskamp [1.54]. 32 The Dreros law is Meiggs and Lewis [1.10], no. 2, the Tiryns laws SEG (Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum) 30 (1980): 380. 33 For this view see Goody and Watt [1.53], modified somewhat in Goody’s later work (e.g. Goody [1.52]). For critiques of Goody’s position see Lloyd [1.7], Thomas [1.59]. 34 On written law see Thomas [1.60], 35 On tyranny Andrewes [1.48] is still classic. 36 Shapiro [1.58]. 37 For this case argued in detail for Athens see Lavelle [1.55]. 38 On the sages see Martin [1.57]. 39 For what follows see Bowie [1.49] and [1.50], Lissarrague [1.56]. 40 The standard numbering of the fragments of Solon follows M.L. West Iambi et Elegi Graeci II, Oxford, 1972. Likewise, the now-usual numbering of Sappho follows E.Diehl Anthologia Lyrica Graeca, I. Leipzig, 1922. 41 For what follows see Detienne [1.62]. 42 For an introduction to Herodots see Gould [1.64]; for Thucydides, Hornblower [1. 65]. 43 On the invention of metaphor see Lloyd [1.8], esp. ch. 4. See also Padel [1.67], esp. 9–19. 44 See Davies [1.61]. 45 See generally Goldhill [1.63], Winkler and Zeitlin [1.68]. 46 Knox [1.66], ch. 1. 47 Loraux [1.75]. 48 See Hansen [1.72], Dunn [1.69], [1.70], Roberts [1.79]. 49 Hansen [1.72]. 50 Cf.Hornblower [1.73], 1, ‘The history of European democracy begins, arguably, not in Athens but in Sparta.’ 51 The classic exposition of Cleisthenes’ reforms is Lewis [1.74]. See also Ostwald [1. 77]. 52 Ostwald [1.77], Vidal-Naquet and Levêque [1.80]. 53 Osborne [1.76]. 54 See Farrar [1.71], Raaflaub [1.78]. 55 I am grateful to Christopher Taylor for the invitation to write this chapter and to him, Simon Goldhill, Catherine Osborne, Richard Rutherford and Malcolm Schofield for improving an earlier draft. BIBLIOGRAPHY General 1.1 Davies, J.K. 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