Navigation – Plan du site
II. Corps, gestes et outrages

Solon fr. 1-3 W: The Poetics and Politics of a Gesture

Deborah T. Steiner

Résumés

Cet article prend pour point de départ une tradition rapportée par les scholies homériques et par l’invective politique athénienne du quatrième siècle : quand Solon rejoint l’agora pour réciter un poème exhortant les Athéniens à renouveler la guerre contre Salamine (fr. 1-3 W), il aurait repris un geste attribué à Ulysse (Iliade, 2, 183). Tel le héros épique face au défaitisme des soldats, Solon aurait deposé son manteau ou chlaina. La discussion présentée ici propose une nouvelle lecture des fr. 1-3 qui vise à montrer non seulement que le lien de Solon avec ce précédent homérique est beaucoup plus profond que ne l’ont reconnu les commentateurs antérieurs, mais que le poète athénien se réfère également à une tout autre tradition poétique, celle de la poésie iambique. Modelant son discours et son comportement quasi-épique sur ceux de praticiens mythiques et historiques du ridicule et de l’abus, en tête le Thersite iliadique et Archiloque – à qui il emprunte la posture de héraut adopté par le poète parien, en deux occasions, pour déclamer un poème injurieux ou obscène – Solon endosse le rôle du moqueur autorisé. L’article se termine en examinant les traces du geste de Solon dans les oeuvres de Critias, le poète-politicien athénien qui, tout en se référant à Solon, prend pour cible le personnage construit par Archiloque ; l’hypothèse avancée ici est un parallélisme déjà visible chez Homère, et concentré autour d’Ulysse, entre l’abandon du bouclier et celui de la chlaina.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

αὐτὸς κῆρυξ ἦλθον ἀφ' ἱμερτῆς Σαλαμῖνος,
κόσμον ἐπέων ὠιδὴν ἀντ' ἀγορῆς θέμενος.

εἴην δὴ τότ' ἐγὼ Φολεγάνδριος ἢ Σικινήτης
ἀντί γ' Ἀθηναίου πατρίδ' ἀμειψάμενος·
αἶψα γὰρ ἂν φάτις ἥδε μετ' ἀνθρώποισι γένοιτο·
“Ἀττικὸς οὗτος ἀνήρ, τῶν Σαλαμιναφετέων”.

ἴομεν ἐς Σαλαμῖνα μαχησόμενοι περὶ νήσου
ἱμερτῆς χαλεπόν τ' αἶσχος ἀπωσόμενοι.
(Solon fr. 1-3 W)

1According to a tradition found in the Iliadic scholia, life replicates art. When Solon went into the Athenian agora to deliver his poem of martial exhortation, urging the Athenians to resume their war on Salamis, he supposedly acted in a manner reminiscent of Odysseus in Iliad book 2. There, roused by Athena, the epic hero runs through the camp so as to stem the tide of Achaeans as they, having taken Agamemnon’s speech of deception urging abandoning the Trojan War at face value, begin to rush headlong to their ships. Citing the Homeric phrase used of Odysseus as he races off to stop the ignominious flight – “he threw off his chlaina” (183) – the scholion then reports a remark from the Homeric Problems of Ps.-Aristotle (Aristotle fr. 368 Gigon) and comments:

It seems to be inappropriate for Odysseus to run through the camp wearing only his chiton, having cast off his chlaina, and most of all inappropriate for someone of the sort Odysseus is supposed to be. But Aristotle says that he did it so that the crowd might turn back in amazement and his voice might reach a great area and people would gather from all directions as also Solon is said to have done, when he was gathering a crowd on account of Salamis.

  • 1 See Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 207; Irwin 2005, p. 137.

2Recent scholarship variously dismisses or endorses the Odysseus-Solon link proposed by ancient scholars, although with a greater readiness to grant that, at some stage in the formation of the rich web of traditions about Solon (and, very likely, with Solon’s active participation in the creation of that web), the sources came to identify Odysseus’ actions behind what would most plausibly have been Solon’s self-representation in his poetic account of his war advocacy.1 Setting aside the problem of whether Solon was even author of the Salamis elegy and that of the date of the composition, the reading of Solon fr. 1-3 W, the lines still extant from the original 100-line work, presented here suggests a denser, more deliberate and differently constructed series of relations between the parallel actions performed by (or ascribed to) the statesman and the Homeric hero in Iliad 2 than existing discussions allow. Where others have focused on the two figures privileged in the Ps.-Aristotelian account, Solon and Odysseus, I argue for the presence of a third and literal “joker” in the pack: if Odysseus supplies the positive paradigm that (as Ps.-Aristotle recognizes) Solon places before his audience’s eyes – with all the well-known rhetorical and persuasive competence that the Iliadic figure enjoys – then it is Thersites who serves as foil here, and whose own performance, verbal and “somatic”, further informs Solon’s address. The Thersites-Odysseus altercation in book 2 proves relevant to Solon’s elegy on several other counts: not only does it illuminate the iambic inflection in the lines, particularly in fr. 2, but it also clarifies the generic boundary-crossing visible in the work; following the Iliadic precedent, Solon’s composition likewise blurs distinctions between a political-cum-martial exhortation and a work designed for performance at the symposium.

3Events in Iliad 2, the symposium and the licensed abuse in its midst are central to the second part of my paper. As I argue, in styling himself herald in fr. 1, Solon not only takes his cue from the Iliadic Odysseus’ assumption of that role, but from a second figure highly relevant to his self-construction here and, again, to the invective that his elegy includes. By reading the Salamis poem in conjunction with two compositions in which Archilochus anticipates Solon’s stratagem by adopting the herald’s identity, we see how Solon not only authorizes his latter day performance, but gains additional status and impunity. No less than Odysseus, the persona of Archilochus is eminently suited to Solon’s self-fashioning here: at once a soldier, politician and poet, Archilochus would have used his sympotic poetry as a way of advancing his ends in the more public, civic sphere.

  • 2 Wilson 2003, p. 187.

4Solon and Archilochus reappear in the concluding part of my discussion, which introduces a later poet-statesman, the notorious late fifth-century oligarch, sophist and author Critias. Here I explore Critias’ reworking of the traditions surrounding both earlier figures and observe the fresh deployments of their poetic personas in the very different political milieu of the radical Athenian democracy. In summoning this diverse cast of characters and works, my purpose is three-fold: first, to recover the surprisingly extended role that cloak-dropping plays in the discourse of mockery and defamation; second, to offer a study in the use that each generation made of figures of the past and of episodes from a common literary patrimony for their self-representations; and third, by treating each text explored here within its performative setting, to illustrate how the symposium was home to what, referring to a different milieu, Peter Wilson has called an “ideological polyphônia2 accommodating a broad variety of voices, generic traditions and political views.

The Salamis Elegy and Iliad 2

5Very briefly, then, a recapitulation of the sequence of events following Agamemnon’s lying address at the start of Iliad 2. Taking his words at face value, and believing that their leader is urging a return to Greece, the Achaean troops begin to stampede to the ships. Odysseus, roused by Athena, succeeds in stopping their headlong flight and returns the soldiers to the agora. There, before he is able to deliver his speech exhorting the army to continue the fight, the brawler Thersites makes his harangue, vilifying Agamemnon, lauding Achilles, and advocating abandoning the war. Odysseus, using both a verbal counterattack and physical assault, silences the calumnist and then proceeds with his (thoroughly successful) military paraenesis. In what follows, I detail the elements of the Odysseus-Thersites confrontation so as to demonstrate just how closely Solon and those reporting the circumstances surrounding the Salamis poem have drawn on the Iliadic episode.

  • 3 Bowie 1986, p. 18-21 and 1990 offers the strongest statement of this; for a more nuanced account, s (...)
  • 4 Bartol 1993, p. 54 reads the phrase as meaning “instead of the town square”; see too Noussia-Fantuz (...)

6Much of the recent discussion of Solon’s intervention centers on the question of the site of its delivery. After it had long been assumed, following the ancient testimonia, that Solon performed his piece standing on the rostrum in the assembly, the more current view is that the work is designed for the symposium, the only securely established venue for the recitation of this type of elegy.3 But the debate ignores Solon’s own part in blurring the boundaries between the public and private spaces and two performance contexts. While the term ἀγορής describes a “speech in prose” suited to a public address, and the preposition preceding it (αντί) signals Solon’s replacement of that discourse with a poem both opposed and equivalent to it, in Homeric and later usage, an agora also designates the place of assembly or meeting at the site.4 The opening of Solon’s piece thus endows what follows with a multi-faceted character: what strongly resembles an epic martial exhortation delivered before an audience of soldiers is transformed into a elegiac poem for a sympotic setting that contains matter designed for a public address.

  • 5 A point made by Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 212-213.

7Little wonder, then, that later readers flagged events in Iliad 2, where the terms ἀγορά, ἀγορεύω, ἀγορητής and cognate forms appear in more concentrated fashion than in any other portion of the poem. Almost from the outset, the agora is nothing if not over-determined, the site where, with few exceptions, all the action of the book occurs: Agamemnon makes his speech of deception to the troops gathered in the central meeting space (95; note too ἀγέροντο in 94), and the poet repeats the term ἀγορά as the men begin to bolt in lines 144 and 149; by 208 the army has been reassembled in the site, now acting as audience to Thersites’ intervention; at 264, Odysseus threatens to drive the calumnist from the agora, and it is there that he proceeds to deliver another speech of exhortation, this one introduced by the term ἀγορήσατο (283). More narrowly Odyssean is Solon’s θέμενος in conjunction with the agora: in the formulaic phrase found three times in the Odyssey, the participle describes Odysseus as he organizes a gathering in order to address his men: καὶ τότ' ἐγὼν ἀγορὴν θέμενος μετὰ πᾶσιν ἔειπον (9.171, 10.188, 12.319); on each occasion the expression prefaces an exhortative speech, where Odysseus proposes some daring strategy and demonstrates his leadership and superiority to his disoriented companions.5 Right from the start, then, Solon appropriates Odysseus’ public voice and draws on those moments in the epic compositions when the hero displays rhetorical and strategic acumen within the context of an agora that determines future collective policy.

  • 6 For detailed discussion of the conceit, see Mülke 2002, p. 74-76, 77-78, with earlier bibliography; (...)
  • 7 Note that ἐρητύω, repeated of the heralds’ action in 97, is again used of Odysseus as he “restrains (...)
  • 8 The herald-sceptre link already appears at 2.103, where Hermes, who transfers the staff from gods t (...)

8Entirely suited to this setting, and no less grounded in the Odysseus figure of Iliad 2, is the stance of herald that Solon assumes, and that the testimonia, following the poet’s own emphatic declaration of his role in verse initial person (αὐτὸς κῆρυξ), go on to amplify;6 according to Plutarch, Solon mounted not the bema but “the herald’s stone” (Solon 8) while Diogenes Laertius has Solon accompanied by a herald who recites the elegy in his place (1.46). Heralds first appear in the Homeric scene at 97-98 when they “restrain” (ἐρήτυον) the troops gathered for Agamemnon’s speech of deception so as to silence them.7 But following the stampede to the ships, and before the men return to the agora, the stewards vanish from the scene. Instead, Odysseus takes on their several functions: first, messenger-like, he relays the words spoken to him by Athena and then, single-handedly, re-marshals the host. Homer emphasizes the heraldic role by multiplying it. When Odysseus casts aside his cloak, his herald Eurybates (Odysseus’ alter ego in Odyssey 19.247-48) carries the garment as he accompanies his master, and when Odysseus makes his address to the troops, Athena stands beside him “in the likeness of a herald” (280). Freshly augmenting the herald’s part in the scene, Odysseus appropriates Agamemnon’s skeptron (186) – the insignium that is the common possession of kings and authorized speakers and, as I later demonstrate, the sine qua non of the heraldic persona – first in order to reassemble the troops, then to impose silence on Thersites, and finally to deliver his martial exhortation, still holding the speaker’s staff (279).8

  • 9 Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 211. So too Mülke 2002, p. 79-80.
  • 10 Martin 1994, p. 111-113.
  • 11 Finkelberg 1998, p. 168.

9Time now to bring Thersites onto the scene. The lines introducing the figure focus first and foremost on his speaking style: he rails in a fashion dubbed ἀμετροεπής (212) and “he knew words, numerous and disorderly, in his wits…in vain, not in orderly fashion” (ἔπεα φρεσὶν ᾗσιν ἄκοσμά τε πολλά τε ᾔδη/ μάψ, ἀτὰρ οὐ κατὰ κόσμον, 213-214). The expression in fr. 1.2 of Solon’s Salamis song, κόσμον ἐπέων, closely reworks the epic diction and in so doing corrects what is amiss in Thersites’ manner of address. Following Homeric and Solonic usage, κόσμος “designates an ordered and metrically defined sequence of epea”,9 an apt description of what the poet delivers here As Richard Martin’s analysis of Thersites’ harangue demonstrates, the brawler’s speech exhibits precisely the absence of that metrical order signaled by the phrase in the Salamis elegy; containing a higher proportion of synizesis and correption than any other Iliadic speech of equivalent length, the slurred delivery it would require of the poet/performer audibly matches the speaker’s ill-proportioned body.10 In other extant works, Solon promotes the very property that Thersites’ language, in keeping with his ethics, lacks: thus when the poet takes the rich to task for their greed and absence of moderation at 4c.3 W, he urges them ἐν μετρίοισι τί̣θ̣ε̣σ̣θ̣ε μέγαν νόον, selecting an adjective which, coming in an elegiac poem, may play off the all but homonymous μέτρον; and what distinguishes the poet, in Solon’s Hymn to the Muses, is his mastery of the metrical order that Thersites fails to display: where the Iliadic calumnist “knows many disorderly words”, the man schooled by the Muses is ἱμερτῆς σοφίης μέτρον ἐπιστάμενος (13.52). In Margalit Finkelberg’s reading, μέτρον refers specifically to the correct combination of hexameter and pentameter deployed by the elegiac poet.11

  • 12 Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 216 notes the parallel, but without assigning any significance to it.

10Even as Thersites’ speaking style stands as negative paradigm behind Solon’s phrasing, so too the statesman inverts the contents of the Homeric abuser’s speech. Urging his audience in fr. 3 “let us go to Salamis to fight for a lovely island”, the poetic voice offers a reprise of the central debate in Iliad 2 – whether to pursue the Trojan War, or sail for home – and advocates the very course of action promoted by Odysseus and rejected by the hero’s antagonist, who is all for giving up the fight. For an audience versed in Homeric diction, Solon’s statement presents a textbook instance of the ars allusiva, repetition with a difference. The phrasing, with its short vowel subjunctive, is impeccably Homeric, in fact an exact echo, minus the negative, of Polydamas’ exhortation to Hector at 12.216: μὴ ἴομεν…μαχησόμενοι περὶ νηῶν.12 More than this, the statement scrambles both the substance and the language of Solon’s two Homeric foil figures, and their positions, within the larger controversy: where Agamemnon proclaims “let us flee with our ships to our dear native land” (140), and Thersites re-channels the exhortation with his “let us sail with our ships for home” (236), the nautical return that Solon counsels is away from the Greek mainland and back to Salamis instead. In place of Agamemnon’s formulaic “dear land”, the poetic ego in fr. 3 introduces another Homeric epithet used of the fatherland, ἱμερτός, to insert the foreign site, not native ground, as the object of longing. Urging his audience to “thrust off bitter shame (αἶσχος)” at the end of fr. 3, the speaker closes by repeating the letimotif of the Homeric actors’ arguments for and against pursuing the Trojan venture, this sounded first by Agamemnon at 119-122, replayed in the person of Thersites whose “most shameful” (αἴσχιστος, 216) appearance and ethics form a piece with the policy he sponsors, and the opening gambit in Odysseus’ counter speech at 297-298: ἀλλὰ καὶ ἔμπης/αἰσχρόν τοι δηρόν τε μένειν κενεόν τε νέεσθαι.

  • 13 Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 214. Vox 1984, p. 34-35 also aligns the two passages, but offers an inter (...)
  • 14 Here I follow the suggestion of Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 215; for a different reading, see Mülke 2 (...)

11In previewing what he would become were the defeatist option to prevail and by ventriloquizing the disparagement directed at such a turncoat in fr. 2, Solon preserves the Homeric tone while obliquely targeting those supporting disengagement from the war: the charges to which he would expose himself are those that more properly implicate his opponents. Reading these lines against the Odysseus-Thersites exchange reveals again how the elegy draws on the epic neikos. By way of syntactical parallel to Solon’s “paradoxical wish” that he might renounce his Athenian identity, Maria Noussia-Fantuzzi cites Odysseus’ phrase at 2.259-260: “may the head of Odysseus never more be on his shoulders, nor may I be called the father of Telemachos”.13 But the similarity extends beyond syntax and forms part of the broader set of echoes I am suggesting here: where Odysseus renounces his paternal identity, Solon rejects his national one. Note too how the epic hero puts the denial into the mouth of a third party – “may I no longer be called” – just as Solon imagines, more directly and in what commentators identify as a variation on the Homeric “so someone spoke” formula, what another would say of him. Particularly loaded is the term “Attic” in the final phrase, which replaces the designation “Athenian” in line 2. With all other markers of identity omitted – no deme, phratry or tribe – this most generic of terms strips the poetic ego of the community to which he earlier belonged.14 To be a “Salamis-ceder” is to forsake membership of the polis, no less than Odysseus’ abnegation of his paternity projects him outside his genos. The loss of identity effected by the change of ethnic (and, as commentators note, οὖτος ἀνήρ is a derogatory mode of referring to someone from Homer on) recalls Thersites on a further count; uniquely among Iliadic fighters and speakers, he is entirely deracinated, introduced without a patronymic or place of origin.

  • 15 Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 216; note the use of the device in Hipponax fr. 128.1-2 W.
  • 16 See Rotstein 2007, p. 145-146 with earlier bibliography.
  • 17 See Nagy 1979, p. 259-264, Suter 1993, and Rosen 2007, p. 69-78, with modification of Nagy’s positi (...)

12These several points bear directly on the mode of speech showcased in fr. 2 and on its generic character (this already registered by Diogenes Laertius, who styled these lines “the elegies that most assail [μάλιστα καθαψάμενα] the Athenians”, 1.47). Polysyllabic terms of mockery such as Solon’s unwieldy coinage Σαλαμιναφετέων in fr. 2.4 are integral to the comic-iambic tradition,15 a register of discourse exactly suited to the charges and threats then marshaled by the speaker against himself: imputations of base birth and/or foreign extraction and of being a μισόπολις are standard elements in the stylized exchanges of mockery and abuse from archaic through classical and post-classical times.16 In including this linguistic and generic swerve within the otherwise elevated and epic-inflected elegy, the poet draws on his Iliadic template anew; as critics have observed, the Odysseus-Thersites confrontation not only exhibits many of the structural and dictional hallmarks of archaic iambos but the profile given to Thersites anticipates the mask of physical-cum-moral abjection assumed by iambographers and imposed by the poets on victims whose faults mirror their own.17 Nor does the Solonic speaker step out of his Odysseus role here: stooping to the level of his target, Odysseus’ declaration “nor may I be called the father of Telemachos” both draws on the language of imprecation and cursing that still informs iambos in its more literary form and contains more than a hint of the sexual (and often self-directed) denigration typical of iambic poets and already writ so large in Thersites’ abuse of Agamemnon: here Odysseus imagines himself a cuckold.

  • 18 For Hipponax’s replay of the Odyssean confrontation, see Rosen 1990; the Iros-Odysseus altercation (...)
  • 19 The motif may also belong among the tropes shared by iambic poetry and Attic comedy: see the centra (...)

13Confirming the “proto-iambic” character of Odysseus’ speech is his parting shot, where he threatens to strip Thersites of his “cloak and tunic”. While the punishment the hero anticipates is unparalleled in the Iliad, experiencing a loss of cloak, casting it off, or never having had one in the first place features prominently in the world of archaic and later iambos. On two occasions, Hipponax removes his cloak, in fr. 104 W and then again in fr. 120 W when, in a re-enactment of the Odysseus-Irus boxing match that follows an abusive exchange between the hero and the Thersites-like parasite,18 the poetic ego invites someone to “take my cloak, I’ll hit Boupalus in the eye”. Elsewhere Hipponax’s poetic ego complains to Hermes, “For you haven’t yet given me a thick cloak” (fr. 34 W). That lacking, taking off or having a cloak forcibly removed is a recognizable iambic trope finds confirmation in Callimachus’ “Hipponactean” first Iamb, which offers a virtual checklist of motifs drawn from its archaic models: there, in line 29-30, the speaker remarks, “The bald-headed one will waste his breath blowing that he not be stripped of his threadbare cloak”.19

14If poets from the archaic through the Hellenistic age embed the absence of the cloak within iambic discourse, then fourth-century Athenian orators and statesmen include the motif in the political invective that appropriates so many of the tropes of the poetic genre. Within Aeschines’ attack on Timarchus, this departure from normative standards of public dress typifies the individual who recalls Thersites on a triple count; possessing his signature shamelessness, the object of abuse also misadvises the demos, and is shown up as lacking the legitimacy required to mount the bema so as to make a political address in the public forum. Here Aeschines not only portrays Timarchus as the quintessence of indecorum, but contrasts him with Solon and other statesmen of earlier times: “They were too modest to speak having the arm outside the cloak, but this man not long ago…in an assembly of the people threw off his cloak and leaped about like a gymnast, his body in such a state of wretchedness and shameful ugliness (κακῶς καὶ αἰσχρῶς διακείμενος τὸ σῶμα) that right-minded men, at least, covered their eyes, being ashamed for the city” (26). Further to prove his point, Aeschines then cites a statue of Solon erected in the agora at Salamis, showing the statesman adopting the requisite decorous – and the term is εὐκοσμία - hand-in-cloak stance.

  • 20 Fisher 2001, p. 151.

15Nor is this the end of evocations of the cloak-clad Solon. In castigating Aeschines in Orationes 19, Demosthenes neatly turns this very point against his opponent: citing the testimony of those who lived at Salamis, he challenges Aeschines’ evidence by noting that the statue was erected “less than fifty years ago”, and, as Nick Fisher observes, implies that it more likely depicted Solon reciting a poem than making a political address.20 Corroborating Fisher’s further suggestion that Demosthenes prompts his audience to think of the statesman performing the Salamis elegy (also, supposedly, in the agora) is the fresh contrast that the speaker goes on to draw between Solon’s patriotic poetic call to the Athenians to resume their fight for control of Salamis and the very different, entirely un-Solonian conduct adopted by Aeschines when he accepted the bribe given by Philip of Macedon that secured his betrayal of Amphipolis: “You should have kept your hand inside, Aeschines, not when making a speech; no, you should keep it inside when going on an embassy. When you were in Macedonia, you stretched it out and held it open, and were a disgrace to Athens” (255; trans. MacDowell).

  • 21 Diogenes Laertius 1.62 adds a fresh complexity to the picture in citing the epigram that the statue (...)

16Striking in these jibes and counter-jibes is both the importance accorded to Solon’s cloak and the two fourth-century orators’ choice to introduce the individual in the context of his dealings with (or presence in) Salamis.21 While the remark from Ps.-Aristotle’s Homeric Problems cited at this article’s start does not pin the equivalence between Solon and Odysseus to their common casting off of their cloaks – that action belongs to the epic hero alone – the prominence of the chlaina in later political rhetoric makes it plausible, if far from certain, that by the fourth century at least a link had been established between the cloakless Odysseus and Solon’s similarly anomalous attire when he performed his Salamis elegy. Whether the “tip-off” to Solon’s abandonment of his cloak came from the poet’s own no longer extant lines or whether later audiences assumed the parallel on the grounds of the broader affinities between the episodes, the speakers’ insistence on the correctness of Solon’s costume on this particular occasion suggests some question mark surrounding the issue, and even the existence of a counter-tradition in which the statesman had, like Odysseus before him, appeared in the agora without his cloak.

  • 22 MacDowell 2000, p. 311 treats the problem.
  • 23 See Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 203-204 for detailed discussion and earlier accounts.
  • 24 Lowrie 1990, p. 157-189 suggestively links the tradition of Solon’s pilidion, a cap which comes to (...)

17If Solon’s lack of cloak remains a matter of conjecture, a second sartorial detail figures more securely in the testimonia generated by the Salamis elegy: according to Plutarch Solon 1.8 and as, perhaps, Demosthenes Orationes 19.255 implies,22 the poet wears a pilidion, or little felt cap for the occasion.23 No less than an individual’s lack of cloak, the pilidion can serve as a generic signature or flag, a point well illustrated by the context in which Demosthenes mentions the headwear. Following up on his demonstration of the sharp contrast between Solon and Aeschines’ conduct where more than just their cloaks are concerned, he caps his picture of his antagonist with his hand extended to receive his bribe by commenting, “but here you pontificate, and because you‘ve rehearsed some wretched phrases and trained your voice, do you think you won’t be punished for all these terrible crimes, if you put a pilidion on your head and walk around and abuse me?” (255). In Demosthenes’ formulation, wearing the felt cap not only becomes part of Aeschines’ self-costuming but is integral to his claim to a license to abuse, to play the Thersites-like role of sanctioned mocker; that some of our testimonia assign the same headgear to Solon when he recited his elegy proves consistent with the invective element within the lines earlier identified and with his temporary embrace of the same “iambic” persona that Odysseus adopted so as to counter his antagonist’s abuse.24

  • 25 Rosen 2003; see too Rosen 2007, p. 104-118. Hephaestus’ buffoonish display at the banquet of the go (...)
  • 26 I owe this point to Irwin 2005, p. 144-146.

18Before ending this section, one final intersection between the Salamis elegy and the Odysseus-Thersites scene. As Ralph Rosen has argued, if we identify Thersites’ appearance and altercation with Odysseus as proto-iambic in character, then it properly belongs in the sympotic context, the sole attested venue for archaic iambos: the Iliadic abuser’s “mistake” and consequent punishment lies in his performing his mockery in the agora instead of the dining hall.25 In the reverse trajectory in fr. 1, Solon “corrects” Thersites again, taking a political speech, and, in keeping with the iambic flavour that the lines include, restaging it at the drinking party. The testimonia register the oscillation between the two sites:26 Plutarch notes that the statesman’s philoi praised the song as “very delightfully composed” (χαριέντως πάνυ πεποιημένων. Solon 8.3), imagining an audience and evaluative criteria grounded in the sympotic space and its aesthetic standards, while Diogenes Laertius substitutes for the pilidion the garland that so frequently identifies the symposiast (στεφανωσάμενος, 1.46).

  • 27 British Museum, London E. 19; ARV2 63.95.
  • 28 Neer 2002, p. 152; my larger reading of the cup follows that of Neer 2002, p. 150-154.

19Solon’s success in positioning himself between the symposium and agora is visible in a source closer in time to the statesman than the textual accounts. One side of a cup by Oltos dated to ca. 510-500 shows three men engaged in dancing, all draped in cloaks and clearly marked as adult.27 On the reverse face three figures, also dancing, again occupy the central field; naked and youthful, they participate in a komos, the revel that takes the drinking party into the public space of the streets. Inscriptions identify the figures as Nikon, Khilon and Solon, the second of these ephor and legislator at Sparta ca. 556. While the conjunction of this figure with the much earlier Solon presents an historical adynaton, Oltos’ grouping makes a different point: to cite Richard Neer’s discussion, “By pairing Solon with Khilon, the cup makes clear allusion to the task of constitutional reform: the two go together because both were reformers. At the same time, by showing them as komasts, the vase marks them as members of the upper-class ‘anti-polis’ ”.28 When read against the Salamis elegy, and bearing in mind that Solon frequently reserves the elegiac metre for more sympotic themes while iambics are used to articulate and defend his political agenda against detractors, Oltos’ cup invests the figure of Solon with that same bifurcated character that he possesses in the composition: what Oltos does is to show, through the komos, the moment at which the public and private, elite and mass audience, Solonian elegy and iambos meet.

Archilochus: a missing link?

  • 29 See n. 6.

20If Odysseus presents Solon with a paradigm for the role that he assumes in reciting his Salamis poem, while Thersites, the coward and betrayer of the cause, offers the counter-model, then there may be a second figure shaping the poet’s self-presentation and one whose “mask” allows him more fully to assume the invective voice implicit in the glances to Iliad 2 and audible in the elegy’s fr. 2. Commentators have variously treated Solon’s choice to fashion himself a herald; for several, the interest lies chiefly in this evidence for “role-playing”, the assumption of a fictive identity (also typical of participants in archaic iambos and visible already in the performative aspects of the interventions of the Iliadic “proto-iambographers”, Hephaestus and Thersites), or in Solon’s deployment of a figure for the poet used in other elegiac and lyric compositions.29 As already noted, this choice also reinforces the pronounced links with Odysseus.

  • 30 For this last point, see Seidensticker 1987.
  • 31 Clay 2004, p. 17. Note, however, that, according to the testimonia, the costume failed to protect i (...)

21But missing from these accounts is a different dimension to the image, and one perfectly in keeping with the invective aspect to the composition. In adopting the herald’s guise, Solon also takes a leaf from an individual notorious for his skilled deployment of mockery and abuse and assumption of fictive identities, and who further models his poetic persona on several occasions on the Homeric Odysseus.30 In two of his extant fragments, Archilochus styles himself herald (and there may be a historical reality lurking here insofar as his family was among those responsible for the Demeter cult, where the role of herald is a sacred and hereditary office). As Diskin Clay observes, the words κεκοσμημέ[ν- and κή-] /ρυκος in the Mnesiepes inscription’s lines 24-25 could either suggest a herald in festival attire come to announce the new mode of worship that Archilochus was to initiate or describe the poet’s appearance in herald’s dress.31 This second scenario seems better to fit the context: presenting himself in the official capacity to which he may have had an actual claim, Archilochus would be seeking the impunity that heralds enjoyed so as safely to perform his innovatory and risqué ‘too imabic’ (ἰαμβικώτερον) song.

  • 32 For more detailed discussion of many aspects of this fragment, see Steiner (forthcoming).

22But Archilochus fr. 185 W, cited here, offers a no less compelling precedent for Solon’s performance in the agora.32

ἐρέω τιν’ ὕμιν αἶνον, ὦ Κηρυκίδη,
ἀχνυμένη σκυτάλη,
πίθηκος ἤιει θηρίων ἀποκριθεὶς
μοῦνος ἀν' ἐσχατιήν,
τῶι δ' ἆρ' ἀλώπηξ κερδαλῆ συνήντετο,
πυκνὸν ἔχουσα νόον.

  • 33 West 1988, p. 43.
  • 34 West 1988, p. 44.
  • 35 See particularly 1.53.1; for discussion of this and other relevant passages, see Drew Griffiths 200 (...)
  • 36 Drew Griffiths 2008, p. 183.

23Central to the intent of the fragment’s first two lines is the implicit pun and evident parallelism between “Son of Herald/Messenger” and the skutale or message stick. As Stephanie West argues, readers have been misled by later sources’ focus on the object’s use as a cryptographic device, evidence for which long postdates Archilochus. Instead, its foremost meaning is that of a staff or baton, “part of an official messenger’s equipment”, the function of the object in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata 991, where it equips the Spartan kerux.33Moreover, it supplies an authenticating device,34 confirming that the herald comes in his official capacity and that the message that he carries/issues is genuine and publicly sanctioned. Indeed, as Thucydides makes clear,35the staff not merely equips its carrier, but is indispensable to his function: when negotiations between hostile parties broke down, “the essential thing at such moments was the κηρύκειον”;36 the presence of the herald followed on for no more reason than that the baton required a bearer.

  • 37 The following discussion depends on an uncertain reading in the manuscripts: while the most recent (...)

24With this opening phrase, Archilochus sets up a close but skewed bond between the speaker and interlocutor: the poet has appropriated the now personified accessory from the individual to whom, following his name, it stands in metonymic relation, and, in a self-authorizing and message-authenticating gesture, makes himself qua stick spokesman of the communiqué that Kerykides should properly deliver in his own voice.37 In this sorcerer’s apprentice-type scenario, the normally silent baton will go on to turn against its customary bearer, telling a story calculated to dismantle its target’s self-construction and public image, and to demonstrate Kerykides’ unfitness for the status and role seemingly announced by the opening patronymic.

  • 38 ἐν συνόδωι τῶν ἀλόγων ζώιων πίθηκος ὀρχησάνεμος καὶ εὐδοκιμήσας βασιλεὺς ὑπ’ αὐτῶν ἐχειροτονήθη, ἀλ (...)
  • 39 See Van Dijk, 1997, p. 146-147 for the match between the fable and its frame.
  • 40 See Bowie 2008, p. 134.

25Following this opening, the poet goes on to tell the ainos promised at the outset. While only a few phrases of the Archilochean narrative of the fable remain, including a portion of the punch line as preserved in fr. 187 W, τοιήνδε δ' ὦ πίθηκε τὴν πυγὴν ἔχων, we can reconstruct the chief elements of the story from the re-telling in the later Aesopica (Perry 81).38 Using the Aesopic version by way of guide, the correspondences between the ainos and its “real world” frame become apparent: the ape stands in for Kerykides, the fox for Archilochus, and the rest of the animals supply the larger audience for the poet’s performance.39 But the animals do more than map onto the poet’s current sympotic company; they also emblematize both the diners who granted Kerykides first place in an agôn at the drinking party, where he might have turned in a winning performance, even an indecorous dance, and the same Parian elite who had a voice in awarding or sanctioning preeminence in political affairs; the mention of voting, the office of basileus, and the geras which refers both to the honorific portion of meat and to political privilege, all gesture towards this external domain. The inference is that an individual has given a performance that has, erroneously, won him esteem, and has been elected to the highest office in the city; his subsequent exposure results from a rival’s demonstration that the victim’s buttocks ought to disqualify him from office.40

  • 41 Bowie 2008, p. 134-136.
  • 42 Paris, Musée du Louvre, E 696; for discussion, see Walsh 2009, p. 46.

26In Ewen Bowie’s account, the fable’s evocation of the monkey’s buttocks for its parting shot anticipates the charge of pathic homosexuality ubiquitous in late fifth- and fourth-century Athenian comic and political invective.41 But I think that Bowie mistakes the point. It is not that the monkey/Kerykides has too liberally proffered his buttocks, but that, as sources both textual and visual make plain, the pithekos is by definition ἄπυγος. The determining fact of the monkey’s misshapen body, and the animal’s role as victim of this iambic encounter involving one individual’s claim to public speaking authority and another’s dismantling of that claim, suggests that Archilochus in his heraldic persona may be drawing on the Odysseus-Thersites scene. Although the first clear equation of Thersites with pithekos occurs only in Plato (Republic 620c), several art historians have identified the weak-legged monkey that appears as marginalized witness to the Calydonian boar hunt on a Caeretan black-figure hydria of c. 530-520 as Thersites, whom the ancient sources make a participant in the venture.42 Earlier still is Semonides’ vivid portrait of the ape-women, a character who strikingly recalls the Iliadic calumnist on many counts: her misshapen anatomy exactly matches his, she too barks out abuse, she cares not a wit when others laugh at her, and the poet introduces her with the Thersites-echoing designation αἴσχιστα (7.73-77; cf. Iliad 2.216). The theme of both literal and figurative exposure supplies an additional parallel between the Iliadic episode and fr. 185: even as Odysseus threatens to strip his victim bare, uncovering the essence or cause of his “shamelessness”, the αἰδοῖα, at 262, so Archilochus, in his corresponding role, holds up for show (albeit a back rather than frontal view) the denuded monkey/Kerykides.

27Reinforcing the links between Thersites and Kerykides is the correspondence between the sceptre and skutale in the epic and iambic scenarios. In Iliad 2, when Thersites appears to address the troops he conspicuously lacks the baton that equips both Agamemnon and Odysseus as public speakers, and whose absence indicates the abuser’s unfitness for the role he has assumed. In fr. 185, not only has Archilochus de-authorized and silenced Kerykides by appropriating his herald’s staff; like Odysseus who beats Thersites into silence with the baton, he too deploys it to deliver chastisement. Reading ἀχνυμένη in the objective sense, the participle anticipates the grief that the fable will cause Kerykides. The “grief-full” nature of the blow that Odysseus’s skeptron inflicts on Thersites receives particular emphasis in Iliad 2; as the victim wipes away the tears generated by his bodily ἀλγός, the poet describes the internal audience as grieving, ἀχνύμενοι (270), perhaps a result of the empathy that, for all their laughter, they feel with the target of the assault.

  • 43 See Noussia–Fantuzzi 2010, p. 205-206.

28One broader element of Archilochus’ poetic practice showcased in fr. 185 would recommend the work to Solon as he composed his Salamis elegy. As already noted, the interjection of the vocabulary of the civic and political domain within the opening events of the ainos, which occur in the sympotic context, coincides with the poetic ego’s embrace of the official herald’s role so as to blur divisions between the public and private space and to position the composition and its performer somewhere between the separate spheres. In much the same way, the Athenian poet-politician announces his replacement of the herald’s public speech in prose for a poem (ὠιδὴν ἀντ' ἀγορῆς θέμενος, 1.2) designed for the symposium and restages a properly political message in the sympotic setting where, in keeping with the role-playing that went on at that site, the symposiast might even have dressed the part and engaged in an impromptu performance,43 baton and all. Like Archilochus too, the Solonian singer could plausibly expect that his message, invested with all the public warrant and truth-content that defines heraldic discourse, would travel beyond the present audience and reverberate in the civic world outside, impacting on the political decision making comically re-imagined in the fable.

29My suggestion, then, is that Solon’s Salamis elegy treats the Archilochean precedent as a “window text”, re-deploying the Homeric echoes that fr. 185 already includes and investing the Athenian poet’s Odyssean role with all the additional authority and license to attack his political opponents that the (also Odyssean) mask of the Parian iambographer affords. It may not be happenstance that the phrase “lovely Salamis” that demarcates Solon’s poem’s opening and close has an “Archilochean” ring, using an epithet applied twice by the Parian poet to his own and other lands (so of Paros in fr. 166.3 W and, negated here, of Thasos in fr. 22 W); so too the diction and meter of αἶσχος ἀπωσόμενοι with which fr. 3 ends exactly matches the close of Archilochus’ elegiac fr. 13, πένθος ἀπωσάμενοι. These echoes aside, there are larger benefits to be derived from including Archilochus’ heraldic voice within the Salamis elegy: although there is no establishing at what point the poet became a recipient of hero cult on Paros (most probably in the late sixth or early fifth century), the biographical tradition surrounding that cult lays special emphasis on Archilochus’ patriotism and military achievements. If – and there can be no certainty here – some of these elements of the poet’s biography were already in place when Solon’s elegy assumed its present form, then the paradigm of the patriotic soldier-poet, no less than the story of Archilochus’ vilification, exile and later heroization, would suit Solon’s self-construction very well.

Odysseus, Archilochus and Solon in Critias’ Athens

30The third and final figure in the poetic-political catena reconstructed here is the statesman, polygeneric author and sophist Critias, the late fifth-century oligarch so implicated in attacks on the radical Athenian democracy. After first signaling Critias’ close relations with Solon and his poetry, evident in his redeployment of his predecessor’s words and even, on occasion, stance, I then turn to the invective he composed against Archilochus. As I aim to show, the charges leveled against the Parian poet, and chief among these his supposed abandonment of his shield, may display – albeit in circuitous ways – affinities with the conduct of Odysseus in Iliad 2 and freshly illuminate the links between that episode and Solon’s delivery of his Salamis elegy.

  • 44 Wilson 2003, p. 187. As evidence, Wilson cites the demagogue Cleophon’s deployment of the figure of (...)

31As Plato reconstructs the genealogy of Critias’ family, he possessed a direct connection with Solon. While others have puzzled over the problematic chronology offered in the Timaeus in its account of the transmission of the Atlantis story (20d-21d), what matters for my purposes is the firm link established by the text between the two characters: the Critias of the dialogue heard the tale from his grandfather, who learnt it directly from Solon, named as a dear friend and relative of his. As Peter Wilson comments, it was an association ripe for exploitation by the younger man: “it is in fact more than likely that Kritias made use of this particular family connection once he did enter the public sphere, and the most effective way to activate it would have been through poetic quotation, harnessing its prestige to public speech”.44

  • 45 Wilson 2003, n. 39 remarks in passing on the use of Solon-like language, but does not offer details (...)
  • 46 See Irwin 2005, p. 228-229, within a larger discussion of Solon’s use of the “language of tyranny”. (...)
  • 47 As Wilson 2003, p. 196 comments, Solon had “not yet become a founding figure of democracy in the pu (...)

32Fresh evidence for this appropriation on Critias’ part comes from the inscription supposedly placed on his tomb and cited by a scholion to Aeschines 1.39: this celebrates Critias for having “restrained the demos from hybris for a short time” (δῆμον Ἀθηναίων ὀλίγον χρόνον ὕβριος ἔσχεν). If the hexameter distich draws from Critias’ own poetic output, then its phrasing is highly reminiscent of Solon’s repeated self-presentation as the one who “restrained the people”; where fr. 4 W faults the elite for its failure to “restrain excess” and fr. 8 warns of the dangers of the hybris that results from allowing the demos too much license (or repressing them too much), fr. 36.22 W offers a still closer anticipation of Critias’ (self-composed?) characterization: here Solon remarks that “if another had taken up the kentron as I did… he would not have checked the people (οὐκ ἂν κατέσχε δῆμον)”.45 Of course, the irony lies in the very different politics informing Critias’ actions and his words (although Solon’s pursuit of the “middle way” and self-positioning between oligarchic and demotic elements in Athens are notoriously slippery, as the contra-factual in fr. 36 suggests),46 but this makes all the more powerful his borrowings from an individual whose political views were still open to construction, and whose persona could be claimed by those embracing diametrically opposite ideologies.47

  • 48 Wilson 2003, p. 198.
  • 49 As argued by Rotstein 2007, p. 142-143.
  • 50 See Rosen 2007, p. 248-255.
  • 51 Rotstein 2007; see too Wilson 2003, p. 196.

33Equally pronounced, although in very different ways, is Critias’ engagement with Archilochus. Several of his poems carry an unmistakably invective flavour, and Wilson suggests that one of his two elegiac works concerning Alcibiades (DK 88 B4) deploys Archilochus’ metrical “signature” so as to give the lines their iambic sting.48 But Archilochus also enters more directly into Critias’ compositions, most notoriously in the account that Aelian gives of the attack launched by Critias on that poet (Varia Historia 10.13), a prose version of what would, most likely, have been a piece of poetry, quite plausibly an elegiac work.49 As recent readings have shown, the vilification not only, willfully or not, ignores the patent self-construction that goes into Archilochus’ poetic persona,50 but, in Andrea Rotstein’s account, is more concerned with contemporary Athenian politics and Archilochus’ role therein than with the historical Parian poet: Critias’ underlying agenda here is to discredit Archilochus who, by the late fifth-century, had become something of a poster child or “cultural icon” (in Rotstein’s phrase) for the anti-elitist ideology of the radical democracy and, in abusing him, to show him up as a (literally) illegitimate mouthpiece for the values he had come to instantiate and that could be propagated in his name.51 By virtue of the by-the-book litany of crimes and misdemeanours that Critias levels against his target (the Parian is base born and of servile extraction, he left his native land, was hostile to his fellow islanders, and engaged in adultery and debauchery), the composition recycles the standard invective tropes directed at upstart politicians, demagogues and members of the elite who had turned traitor to their class and courted favour among the demos in late fifth-century Athens, and seeks to delegitimize not just its putative victim, but the populist politics promoted by the current opposition with whom Archilochus had come to be associated.

  • 52 The best treatment remains Seidensticker 1978.
  • 53 Newton 1997-1998.
  • 54 Newton 1997-1998, p. 146. Newton argues for a still more extensive set of echoes between events in (...)

34In Critias’ invective, the concluding and capstone piece in Archilochus’ self-incrimination and the act his accuser styles more shameful than the rest, αἴσχιον, is his abandonment of his shield (τὴν ἀσπίδα ἀπέβαλεν), the gesture the poetic ego notoriously performs in fr. 5 W (ἀσπίδι μὲν Σαΐων τις ἀγάλλεται, ἣν παρὰ θάμνωι,/ ἔντος ἀμώμητον, κάλλιπον οὐκ ἐθέλων·, 1-2). As commentators recognize, here Archilochus replays an action that already belongs to Odysseus, who reports in his (lying) tale to Eumaeus that, when in Egypt, he similarly saved his skin by dropping his shield (ἔθηκα/ καὶ σάκος ὤμοιϊν, Odyssey 14.276-277).52 Adding a fresh level of complexity to this network of relations is the mirroring conduct that Odysseus, still in the role of Cretan ne’er-do-well and telling a fresh fictive anecdote, assigns to himself later in book 14, when he leaves his cloak behind (ἔλειπον, 480), and then appropriates the garment that, through a ruse devised by the “Odysseus” figure in the story, the Aetolian Thoas is made to cast aside. This second episode may, no less than the shield-drop that the “beggar” earlier recalled, belong among the Odyssean echoes in Archilochus’ fr. 5:53 not only does the speaker select the same verb as the Homeric character to describe how he too left his shield behind, but like that hapless individual, who replaces the missing item with Thoas’ luxurious purple garment (Odyssey 14.500-2), the poetic ego will similarly make good his loss: “I’ll acquire one just as good another time” (4). Rick Newton’s discussion of these narratives, which nicely demonstrates the parallelism between shield and cloak that more broadly punctuates the stories and events in book 14, identifies yet another likely “intertextual” elemental within the meld:54 both shield- and cloak-dropping incidents look back to Odysseus’ cloakless run through the camp in Iliad 2, and re-imagine what that composition presents as evidence of the hero’s commitment to the public cause – he drops the cloak in his haste to check the fleeing troops – as an act that accommodates a less favourable construction: at best a mark of haplessness, inadvertence or of falling dupe to a cleverer character’s trick, at worst an indication of cowardice and of setting self-preservation over martial valour. It is tempting to map Newton’s argument onto the problematic status that Odysseus’ want of cloak comes to acquire in post-classical sources: granted for the scholiast propriety of dress is the sticking point, but might the very concern with how an individual deploys his cloak, whether he retains it or casts it off, a preoccupation also apparent in the passages from Aeschines and Demosthenes cited in section one, stem in part from the association between cloak-dropping and being a ῥίψασπις already intimated in the Odyssey?

  • 55 This is a point I develop at greater length in Steiner (forthcoming).
  • 56 Rotstein 2007, p. 147.

35This speculation aside, much firmer grounds exist for thematic links between Iliad 2, the Salamis elegy, Archilochus, and Critias’ later vilification of that poet. At the heart of all the passages cited here, and visible in their polemics, is the larger issue of who is qualified to address to people and to assume the role of authoritative speaker in the public domain. Thersites must be excluded from the agora by means of the herald/statesman’s staff (see below) because his shamelessness – physical, ethical, verbal and social all – prohibits him from speaking on matters of communal concern; following his chastisement, as Odysseus’ threat makes clear (258-264), he will never again appear in a site reserved for speeches by members of the elite. Solon’s replay of the Iliadic scene allows him to change his status from illicit public speaker – if we believe the story of the ban on advocating a renewal of the fight for Salamis reported in Plutarch Solon 8.1 – to an Odysseus-like figure, invested with the full speaking authority that his additional (and Odysseus derived too) status as herald grants; so too through his creation of the foil figure in fr. 2, he places his opponents outside the civic sphere, positioning those gainsayers in that literally extraterritorial and delegitimized role that was seemingly his. “Speech capital” is also the point of contestation in the two fragments of Archilochus, and most particularly in fr. 185 W: by appropriating Kerykides’ heraldic baton, and shaming his target through the ainos, the poetic ego both strips his rival of his right to speak, and, in making him an object of mockery, deprives Kerykides’ future public discourse of all the efficacy that his own poetic performance in the song displays.55 As we have seen, Critias has much the same agenda, freshly shaping it to current fifth-century Athenian law determining who has a right to address and advise the people. As Rotstein notes, the charges that his lines level at Archilochus would result in his target’s becoming ἄτιμος,56 and, in consequence, barred from speaking on matters of public policy before the demos. The issue resurfaces in the passages from Aeschines and Demosthenes: following his portrayal of Timarchus casting off his cloak within the Assembly, Aeschines (citing the law concerning the right of addressing the demos that he ascribes to Solon) then makes this gesture part of his broader demonstration of how the defendant should be disqualified from mounting the rostrum and advising the people on the grounds of his ἀτιμία (27-35); turning the tables on Aeschines, Demosthenes then charges his antagonist with a crime – that of accepting bribes – that will likewise render him ἄτιμος, depriving him of the role of orator that he currently fills.

  • 57 See the discussion in Thalmann 1988, p. 10-13. Odysseus’ statement is ambiguous insofar as he, not (...)
  • 58 See Ford 1999, p. 237-239 for discussion.

36But it is with my point of departure, and one last intersection between Iliad 2 and the Nachleben of Solon’s Salamis elegy that I would like to end. Even as Odysseus’ appropriation of Agamemnon’s scepter coheres with his herald’s role and affirms his authority to address and advise the troops, that baton also fulfills a less benign function. No sooner does the hero receive it from the king than he sets about reassembling the now dispersed troops and their leaders. Restraining those whom the poet qualifies as the basileis and members of the elite with “mild words” (198-199), Odysseus adopts a very different course of conduct towards members of the demos: now using the sceptre in the manner of a goad, he drives them back to the agora (σκήπτρῳ ἐλάσασκεν, 199), insulting them verbally. The beating that Odysseus administers to Thersites later in the episode with the self-same instrument only reinforces its coercive and punitive dimensions, highlighting the force and violence underpinning the single-man and authoritarian regime endorsed by Odysseus’ (ambiguous) assertion that there can only be one king and wielder of the sceptre at 203-206.57 By the early fourth century at least, and very likely before that, Odysseus’ action here had become a locus of contention in political debate. According to Xenophon (Memorabilia 1.2.58-60),58 one Polycrates had, in an anti-Socratic pamphlet, charged the philosopher with animosity towards the demos and had demonstrated this by alleging that Socrates “frequently” cited Iliad 2.188-202, the passage mentioned just above. Whereas Polycrates claimed that Socrates would “interpret the lines as if the poet sanctioned beating common people and the poor”, Xenophon’s Socrates glosses the hero’s conduct as indicative of how he sought to hinder those who are “useless in word or deed, and can offer no support to the army or the city or the people when need arises”. Assuming that earlier audiences registered this same ambivalence in Odysseus’ actions, Solon’s re-channeling of events in Iliad 2 allows him to position himself in that equivocal political zone that he occupies elsewhere, where he portrays himself as one who both restrains the people by checking their hybris and reins in the elite, all in service to the public cause; as fr. 36 makes plain, he too can ply the goad, but (largely) keeps his coercive powers in check. The Archilochean echoes in the Salamis elegy only bolster the ideological ambiguity: in playing Odysseus and Archilochus too, Solon becomes an impossibly protean figure, one who can direct his appeal to the double audience for whom his performance is designed: that of his fellow aristocrats in whose sympotic space mockery, role-playing and anti-demotic sentiments are allowed, and that of the Athenian demos, whose best interests he promotes when he addresses them in the agora.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Bartol K. (1993), Greek Elegy and Iambus: Studies in Ancient Literary Sources, Poznan.

Bowie E. L. (1986), “Early Greek Elegy, Symposium and Public Festival”, JHS 106, p. 13-35.

Bowie E. L. (1990), “Miles ludens? The Problem of Martial Exhortation in Early Greek Elegy”, in Murray O. ed., Sympotica: A Symposium on the Symposion, Oxford, p. 221-229.

Bowie E. L. (2008), “Sex and politics in Archilochus”, in Katsonopoulu D., Petropoulos I. and Katsarou S. ed., Archilochos and his Age, Athens, p. 133-141.

Clay D. (2004), Archilochos Heros. The Cult of Poets in the Greek Polis, Washington, D.C.

Dijk G.-J. van (1997), AINOI, LOGOI, MUTHOI. Fables in Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic Greek Literature, Leiden.

Finkelberg M. (1998), The Birth of Literary Fiction in Ancient Greece, Oxford.

Fisher N. (2001), Aeschines: Against Timarchus, Oxford.

Drew Griffith R. (2008), “Heralds and the Beginning of the Peloponnesian War (Thuc. 2.1)”, CPh 103, p. 182-184.

Ford A. (1999), “Reading Homer from the Rostrum: Poems and Laws in Aeschines Against Timarchus”, in Goldhill S. and Osborne R. ed., Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy, Cambridge, p. 231-256.

Irwin E. (2005), Solon and Early Greek Poetry. The Politics of Exhortation, Cambridge.

Lowry E. R. (1991), Thersites. A Study in Comic Shame, New York.

MacDowell D. M. (2000), Demosthenes. On the False Embassy, Oxford.

Martin R. P. (1989), The Language of Heroes. Speech and Performance in the Iliad, Ithaca, NY.

Mülke C. (2002), Solons politische Elegien und Iamben (fr. 1-13; 32-37 West): Enleitung, Text, Übersetzung, Kommentar, Munich.

Nagy G. (1979), The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry, Baltimore.

Neer R. (2002), Style and Politics in Athenian Vase-Painting, Cambridge.

Newton R. (1997-1998), “Cloak and Shield in Odyssey 14”, CJ 93, p. 143-156.

Noussia-Fantuzzi M. (2010), Solon the Athenian, the Poetic Fragments, Leiden.

Philippides K. (2009), “The Fox and the Wolf: Archilochus 81 D/185 W and Pindar’s Olympian 6. 87-91”, QUCC 91, p. 11-21.

Rosen R. M. (1990), “Hipponax and the Homeric Odysseus”, Eikasmos 1, p. 11-25.

Rosen R. M. (2003), “The Death of Thersites and the Sympotic Performance of Iambic Mockery”, Pallas 61, p. 121-136.

Rosen R. M. (2007), Making Mockery. The Poetics of Ancient Satire, Oxford.

Rotstein A. (2007), “Critias’ Invective against Archilochus”, CPh 102, p. 139-154.

Seidensticker B. (1978), “Archilochus and Odysseus”, GRBS 19, p. 5-22.

Stehle E. (1997), Performance and Gender in Ancient Greece, Princeton.

Steiner D. (2010), Homer. Odyssey XVII and XVIII, Cambridge.

Steiner D. (forthcoming), “Making Monkeys. Archilochus fr. 185-187 W in Performance”, in Lardinois A. and Martin R. P. ed., The Look of Lyric, Leiden.

Suter A. (1993), “Paris and Dionysos. Iambos in the Iliad”, Arethusa 26, p. 1-18.

Thalmann W. (1988), “Thersites: Comedy, Scapegoats and Homeric Ideology in the Iliad”, TAPA 118, p. 1-28.

Thalmann W. (1998), The Swineherd and the Bow. Representations of Class in the Odyssey, Ithaca, NY.

Vox O. (1984), Solone autoritratto, Padua.

Walsh D. (2009), Distorted Ideals in Greek Vase-Painting. The world of Mythological Burlesque, Cambridge.

Wilson P. (2003), “The Sound of Cultural Conflict. Kritias and the Culture of Mousikê in Athens”, in Dougherty C. and Kurke L. ed., The Cultures within Ancient Greek Culture. Contact, Conflict, Collaboration, Cambridge, p. 181-206.

West S. (1988), “Archilochus’ Message Stick”, CQ 38, p. 42-48.

Haut de page

Notes

1 See Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 207; Irwin 2005, p. 137.

2 Wilson 2003, p. 187.

3 Bowie 1986, p. 18-21 and 1990 offers the strongest statement of this; for a more nuanced account, see Stehle 1997, p. 61 and Mülke 2002, p. 74-75.

4 Bartol 1993, p. 54 reads the phrase as meaning “instead of the town square”; see too Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 205.

5 A point made by Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 212-213.

6 For detailed discussion of the conceit, see Mülke 2002, p. 74-76, 77-78, with earlier bibliography; following Stehle 1997, 61-63, commentators particularly stress the “role-playing” going on here. This is also pertinent to my argument in that Solon alerts his audience to the constructed nature of his persona here: he is playing the part of Odysseus who takes on the herald’s role. Vox 1984, p. 25-27 discusses the link with Odysseus.

7 Note that ἐρητύω, repeated of the heralds’ action in 97, is again used of Odysseus as he “restrains” the army leaders at 180.

8 The herald-sceptre link already appears at 2.103, where Hermes, who transfers the staff from gods to men, receives the epithet διάκτορος, a term glossed by ancient commentators as “messenger”.

9 Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 211. So too Mülke 2002, p. 79-80.

10 Martin 1994, p. 111-113.

11 Finkelberg 1998, p. 168.

12 Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 216 notes the parallel, but without assigning any significance to it.

13 Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 214. Vox 1984, p. 34-35 also aligns the two passages, but offers an interpretation different from mine.

14 Here I follow the suggestion of Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 215; for a different reading, see Mülke 2002, p. 86.

15 Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 216; note the use of the device in Hipponax fr. 128.1-2 W.

16 See Rotstein 2007, p. 145-146 with earlier bibliography.

17 See Nagy 1979, p. 259-264, Suter 1993, and Rosen 2007, p. 69-78, with modification of Nagy’s position.

18 For Hipponax’s replay of the Odyssean confrontation, see Rosen 1990; the Iros-Odysseus altercation itself includes many echoes of the Thersites-Odysseus scene; for these, see Thalmann 1998 and Steiner 2010 ad 18.1-110.

19 The motif may also belong among the tropes shared by iambic poetry and Attic comedy: see the central role played by the impoverished, venal poet’s decrepit cloak in Aristophanes Birds, 924-952.

20 Fisher 2001, p. 151.

21 Diogenes Laertius 1.62 adds a fresh complexity to the picture in citing the epigram that the statue mentioned by Aeschines supposedly carried, and which describes Solon as born in Salamis; this tradition may have its origins in the opening line of the Salamis poem (a herald typically comes from his native land). Would Solon be further playing off this idea when he raises the question of his ethnicity in fr. 2 of the elegy?

22 MacDowell 2000, p. 311 treats the problem.

23 See Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, p. 203-204 for detailed discussion and earlier accounts.

24 Lowrie 1990, p. 157-189 suggestively links the tradition of Solon’s pilidion, a cap which comes to a point at its top, with Thersites, noting that the Homeric abuser is described at Iliad 2.219 as having a “pointed-head” (φοξός).

25 Rosen 2003; see too Rosen 2007, p. 104-118. Hephaestus’ buffoonish display at the banquet of the gods at the end of book 1, which forms a diptych with the Thersites’ scene, also serves as anticipatory corrective to that second lame clown-cum-scapegoat’s ill-judged attempt to exhibit himself in the agora rather than the dining hall.

26 I owe this point to Irwin 2005, p. 144-146.

27 British Museum, London E. 19; ARV2 63.95.

28 Neer 2002, p. 152; my larger reading of the cup follows that of Neer 2002, p. 150-154.

29 See n. 6.

30 For this last point, see Seidensticker 1987.

31 Clay 2004, p. 17. Note, however, that, according to the testimonia, the costume failed to protect its wearer, who was indeed punished for his composition.

32 For more detailed discussion of many aspects of this fragment, see Steiner (forthcoming).

33 West 1988, p. 43.

34 West 1988, p. 44.

35 See particularly 1.53.1; for discussion of this and other relevant passages, see Drew Griffiths 2008, p. 182.

36 Drew Griffiths 2008, p. 183.

37 The following discussion depends on an uncertain reading in the manuscripts: while the most recent editor of the poem and some earlier discussions take skutale as a nominative (so Gerber 1999, p. 201; see too the discussion in West 1988, p. 47), making the stick a figure for the speaker’s own person, Bowie (2008) and several others prefer to read it as a vocative, in which case it would apply to Kerykides. Most recently, Philippides 2009, p. 14-16 revisits the debate, and argues for the vocative. At the risk of making a circular argument, I opt for the first account, both because this seems to work best with the remainder of the mockery and because it conforms to the dynamic of mimetic rivalry integral to this and other iambic compositions.

38 ἐν συνόδωι τῶν ἀλόγων ζώιων πίθηκος ὀρχησάνεμος καὶ εὐδοκιμήσας βασιλεὺς ὑπ’ αὐτῶν ἐχειροτονήθη, ἀλώπηξ δ’ αὐτῶι φθονήσασα ὡς ἐθεάσατο ἔν τινι πάγηι κρέας κείμενον, ἀγαγοῦσα αὐτὸν ἐνταῦθα ἔλεγεν ὡς εὑροῦσα θησαυρὸν αὐτὴ μὲν οὐκ ἐχρήσατο, γέρας δὲ αὐτῶι τῆς βασιλείαν τετήρηκε, καὶ παρήινει αὐτῶι λαμβάνειν. τοῦ δὲ ἀμελήτως ἐπιόντος καὶ ὑπὸ τῆς παγίδος συλληφθέντος, αἰτιωμένου τε τὴν ἀλώπεκα ὡς ἐνεδρεύσασαν αὑτῶι, ἐκείνη ἔφη “ὦ πίθηκε, σὺ δὲ τοιαύτην πυγὴν ἔχων τῶν ἀλόγων ζώιων βασιλεύσεις;”

39 See Van Dijk, 1997, p. 146-147 for the match between the fable and its frame.

40 See Bowie 2008, p. 134.

41 Bowie 2008, p. 134-136.

42 Paris, Musée du Louvre, E 696; for discussion, see Walsh 2009, p. 46.

43 See Noussia–Fantuzzi 2010, p. 205-206.

44 Wilson 2003, p. 187. As evidence, Wilson cites the demagogue Cleophon’s deployment of the figure of Solon in an attack on Critias, very plausibly turning the oligarch’s poetry against himself.

45 Wilson 2003, n. 39 remarks in passing on the use of Solon-like language, but does not offer details. For echoes of Odysseus’ behaviour in Iliad 2 here, see below.

46 See Irwin 2005, p. 228-229, within a larger discussion of Solon’s use of the “language of tyranny”. Critias DK 88 B5 offers many echoes of the diction of fr. 36.

47 As Wilson 2003, p. 196 comments, Solon had “not yet become a founding figure of democracy in the public imagination”.

48 Wilson 2003, p. 198.

49 As argued by Rotstein 2007, p. 142-143.

50 See Rosen 2007, p. 248-255.

51 Rotstein 2007; see too Wilson 2003, p. 196.

52 The best treatment remains Seidensticker 1978.

53 Newton 1997-1998.

54 Newton 1997-1998, p. 146. Newton argues for a still more extensive set of echoes between events in the ainos and Odysseus’ conduct in Iliad 2.

55 This is a point I develop at greater length in Steiner (forthcoming).

56 Rotstein 2007, p. 147.

57 See the discussion in Thalmann 1988, p. 10-13. Odysseus’ statement is ambiguous insofar as he, not Agamemnon, is the current wielder of the insignium of royalty.

58 See Ford 1999, p. 237-239 for discussion.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Deborah T. Steiner, « Solon fr. 1-3 W: The Poetics and Politics of a Gesture », Cahiers « Mondes anciens » [En ligne], 5 | 2014, mis en ligne le 14 février 2014, consulté le 21 novembre 2017. URL : http://mondesanciens.revues.org/1236 ; DOI : 10.4000/mondesanciens.1236

Haut de page

Auteur

Deborah T. Steiner

Columbia University

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Les Cahiers « Mondes Anciens » sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo Anthropologie et Histoire des Mondes Antiques - UMR 8210
  • Logo DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Les cahiers de Revues.org