Apollo’s Kithara and
Poseidon’s Crash Test: Ritual and Contest in the Evolution of Greek
The title of our session unites two concepts of overwhelming
importance in the history of Western culture: logos
. As with so
many other notions in the history of ideas, these owe their fundamental
formulation to the work of ancient Greeks—not just to a few high-profile
thinkers (although Heraclitus and Gorgias, Plato and Aristotle immediately come
to mind), but to generations of anonymous men and women who practiced verbal and
material crafts, from the humble arts of cloth-weaving to the intricate skills
of rhetoric and poetry.
But even my choice of adjectives just now fails to do justice to the real
situation, in a misapplication that may be instructive. “Humble” and “intricate”
apply to weaving and wordcraft, respectively, only if we are adopting a modern
perspective. To use them in this way is a post-Enlightenment distortion. Our
perspective has to be adjusted if we are to see more clearly how the concepts of
are related in the ancient Greek world, and how that
relationship played a major role in subsequent history. It has, among other
things, shaped the way in which we understand aesthetics and performance, as
well as the aesthetics of performances. Some important features in the early
Greek development of this intellectual matrix form the core of my paper.
In what follows I examine two specific examples in order to highlight the close
relationship that binds together craft, art, ritual, and performances (verbal as
well as other) in the ancient Greek imagination.What in turn unites the
mythopoetic examples is the presence of the contest ( agôn
) and the crucial notion, arising from this quintessential
Greek idea, of krisis
, which we can translate
“judgment under pressure.” 
As an indication of their enduring importance as well as the high stakes
involved in these concepts, we should take note of the semantic shading of their
English derivatives: agony and crisis. It seems, in other words, that making an
impact through logos
is potentially fraught with dangers,
rendering the outcomes—expressions and arts of all types—all the more precious. This attitude toward verbal and material craft, arising from a specific context
of rituals and festivals, may be said to mark the classical tradition in
literature and art for all of subsequent Western culture.
Starting from the modern prejudice—encapsulated in our ordinary usage of “humble”
craft versus “intricate” art—how can we get around an attitude fostered by
industrialization, technology (a word I will return to), elitist education,
post-Enlightenment privileging of the “rational,” and the closely related
Romantic equating of “traditional” with “primitive”? The philologist’s instinct
is to delve into the earliest texts and pay attention to the nuances of usage
and diction regarding logos
. This is not the place for a full-scale
Instead, let me observe that the most striking result of such investigations, in
terms of the cultural attitudes they indicate, is that in the Greek tradition,
material and verbal skills (those which we can tentatively assign, respectively,
) are not in a relationship of subordination (one low and
the other higher). Weaving, carpentry, metalworking, painting, sculpture,
embroidery—all of these tekhnai
) are by no means humble. They are
quite literally divine.
From our earliest sources, in the archaic Greek of Mycenaean times, it is obvious
that such crafts and their practitioners are not only of the highest value to
the palace economies of Pylos, Knossos, Thebes, and Chania. They are also
intimately tied to the religious rituals of the Mycenaea n kings. Weaving women
and shining cloth; well-shaped chariots; their wheels, poles, and chassis,
subject to collection and redistribution by the central palaces, are not only
the prerogatives of the elite but are integral to the display of power and
control. And that display, in turn, is crucial for the mediating role of
Mycenaean kings between the gods and their subjects.
Of course, the bureaucratic texts
written in Mycenaean Greek, such as we have them preserved on thousands of
accidentally baked clay tablets in “Linear B” script, narrowly represent an
entire culture that flourished between 1600 and 1200 BC. They offer evidence for
the organization and transfer of people and objects, but can tell us nothing of
what the elite and their subjects thought
about crafts. For the
latter, the historian of ideas must rely on the testimony of a later era: the
hexameter poetry of the archaic period (c. 750–500 BC) which is attributed to
Hesiod, along with the epics attributed to Homer (whom later ages supposed
contemporary with Hesiod), and the “Homeric” hymns to various divinities. Once
one focuses on notions of craft in this body of verse (something we tend to
gloss over while reading for character and plot), an abundance of scenes and
connections emerges. Let me mention just a few that can underscore the
importance of craftwork to religion, and its “religious” status.
We can start with the most obvious, the employment of craftworkers to decorate
and amplify the specific performances of worship. A bull to be sacrificed, for
instance, could have its horns gilded. The Odyssey
describing how Telemachus is welcomed to a magnificent feast in Nestor’s city of
Pylos, takes care to include mention of a khalkeus,
or bronze-worker, named Laerkês, who also handles gold
...ἦλθε δὲ χαλκεὺς
ὅπλ’ ἐν χερσὶν ἔχων χαλκήϊα, πείρατα
ἄκμονά τε σφῦράν τ’εὐποίητόν τε πυράγρην,
435 οἷσίν τε χρυσὸν
ἐργάζετο· ἦλθε δ’ Ἀθήνη
ἱρῶν ἀντιόωσα. γέρων δ’ἱππηλάτα Νέστωρ
χρυσὸν ἔδωχ’· ὁ
δ’ ἔπειτα βοὸς κέρασιν περίχευεν
ἄγαλμα θεὰ κεχάροιτο ἰδοῦσα.
There came the bronze-worker, with bronze tools in his hands, the
essentials of his craft ( tekhnê
anvil and hammer and
well-made tongs, with which he worked gold. Athena came also to participate
in the rites. The old horseman Nestor gave the gold. And the smith then
working it, sheathed the bull’s horns, so that the goddess might take
delight seeing the dedication.
As the language makes clear, the
mediation of a craftsman transforms the natural object into an art-object, an
attractive, pleasing dedication (like a cult statue: agalma
can also mean this).
At the same time, the explicit transfer
of the precious gold from the king’s palace to the craftsman makes clear that
the success of a pleasing, beneficial ritual for the community depends on the
intervention of the royal house.
The same passage, with its mention of Athena (who is disguised as Mentor, an
older man guiding Telemachus on his journey), should remind us that crafts have
divine patronage as well. Athena Erganê, the “worker,” is connected with the
arts of cloth-production, especially as they relate to the making of fabrics
that are dedicated to gods—like herself.
At the Panathenaia (depicted on the
Parthenon frieze), one such woven article, the peplos
for Athena’s great statue on the Acropolis, is carried in
Hephaistos, on the other hand, is connected with the working of metal. It is
Athena who is linked further, by her very genealogy, with the kind of thinking
characteristic of “craft”: her mother Mêtis,
or ‘cunning intelligence’, was a goddess swallowed by Zeus to enable the chief
god to control this potentially dangerous and deeply female “way of knowing.”
as a common noun denotes as well
nonlinear, intuitive, on-the-spot, in-a-pinch capacities; the kind of peripheral
mental vision and know-how that characterizes the helmsman of a ship and the
driver of a chariot.
latter is especially relevant to the scenario I shall examine shortly.
In all the employments of mêtis
, what we
discover is that “craft” is a totalizing and honorific concept, inclusive of
“art” in the senses that the West has tended to use since the eighteenth century
(as in “the fine arts”). “Craft” is at times closer to “craftiness,” at other
times to “artfulness.” The key point is that tekhnê
—one of our leading terms for this session—does not
distinguish those ways of acting that will later be sorted out, contested, at
times opposed to one another, as varied and divergent skills.
This is a good point at which to remind ourselves that the other term naming our
, is equally rich and broad in
ancient usage. Sometimes interpreted as an overarching concept that covers the
range represented by the Latin pair of terms ratio
is both mental skill (reason,
intelligence—even cunning intelligence
) and the product thereof (an
account, verbal art). In the latter sense, as becomes clear, it will tend to
overlap with tekhnê
, rather than be its polar
opposite. For the making of well-shaped, appropriate, reasonable speech is as
much a craft (or art) as is the weaving of cloth or the fashioning of useful
objects in wood. It is emblematic of this association that the art/craft of
poetry is presented within Greek poetry metaphorically in terms of weaving
( huphanas humnon
‘having woven a song’
[Bacchylides 5.9–10] ) and carpentry ( tektones
‘shapers of celebration songs’ [Pindar Nemean Ode
In Modern Greek, the word for literature— logotekhnia
‘wordcraft’—perfectly encapsulates a
point of view that can already be detected in Greek texts from two and a half
Time now to turn to the first of my case studies.
Poseidon’s Crash Test
In the ancient Hymn to Apollo
(c. 500 BC?), which Thucydides, at least, attributed to Homer (3.104), the god
is celebrated as the divine patron of two supremely important cult sites in
Greece: the island of Delos and the mountain shrine at Delphi. The hymn
narrates his birth in Delos, and then, in a very compressed
, his voyage to Delphi to establish the
Pythian cult center there. I will concentrate in the second part of this
paper on the “crafts” united in Apollo’s divine repertoire—specifically
music and poetry (taken as a unitary pair) and archery. These he possesses
from his birth onward. But there is a mysterious episode, on his
foundational journey, that involves another god and another craft. While
journeying through Boeotia in his progress toward Parnassus, the young god
Apollo stops at Onchestos, about twenty-five kilometers northwest of Thebes
(which, the hymn stresses, is not yet a city.) The grove of Poseidon appears
to have occupied the narrow pass (at modern Stení) on the road overlooking
the Teneric Plain to the east and the Kopaic basin to the west.
The poet of the
hymn provides a brief and intriguing digression about the place:
230 Ὀγχηστὸν δ’
ἷξες Ποσιδήϊον ἀγλαὸν ἄλσος
νεοδμὴς πῶλος ἀναπνέει ἀχθόμενός περ
ἅρματα καλά, χαμαὶ δ’ ἐλατὴρ ἀγαθός περ
θορὼν ὁδὸν ἔρχεται· οἱ δὲ τέως μὲν
κροτ έ ουσιν ἀνακτορίην ἀφιέντες.
235 εἰ δέ κεν
ἅρματ’ ἀγῇσιν ἐν ἄλσεϊ δενδρήεντι,
κομέουσι, τὰ δὲ κλίναντες ἐῶσιν·
ὣς γὰρ τὰ
πρώτισθ’ ὁσίη γένεθ’· οἱ δὲ ἄνακτι
δίφρον δὲ θεοῦ τότε μοῖρα φυλάσσει.
You reached Poseidon’s glorious grove, Onchestos,
new-tamed colt takes a breather, burdened as it is
the beautiful chariot, and on the ground goes the driver, even a
Having leapt from the chariot. Meanwhile, the
Casting off his lordship rattle the empty
If the chariot breaks in the wooded
They take care of the horses, but they leave the
chariot tilted up.
For thus first of all was the sacred
rite. And they pray to the lord,
But the god’s
dispensation then guards the chariot.
this strange ritual mean?
Why is it even mentioned in the hymn? With religious
rites, a linear interpretation is less persuasive—I would say, less
possible—than an attempt to appreciate the multiple meanings, latent and
overt, generated by a series of actions in the sacred sphere. The rite
reaffirms and celebrates, surely, the commanding role of Poseidon when it
comes to horses and horsemanship. Why the sea-god who is also the earthquake
god (a scientific accuracy, tsunamis being no doubt known to the ancients)
should be “Hippios”—Poseidon of Horses—has always been a matter for
speculation. At an abstract level, the mystical association of sea-god with
horse-god might well depend on the uncontrollable nature of both elements:
in other words, horses are like the sea, and he who rules one can control
the other. By extension chariots are like boats—and there is ancient
evidence for this association.
A wonderful image bringing the two together is that of
Poseidon guiding his gold chariot from his sea-cave at Aigai across the sea
on his way to aid the Greeks in their battle at Troy ( Iliad
γέντο δ’ ἱμάσθλην
χρυσείην εὔτυκτον, ἑοῦ δ’ ἐπεβήσετο δίφρου,
βῆ δ’ ἐλάαν ἐπὶ
κύματ’· ἄταλλε δὲ κήτε’ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ
πάντοθεν ἐκ κευθμῶν, οὐδ’ ἠγνοίησεν ἄνακτα·
γηθοσύνῃ δὲ θάλασσα
διίστατο· τοὶ δὲ πέτοντο
ῥίμφα μάλ’, οὐδ’ ὑπένερθε διαίνετο χάλκεος
… he took his
golden whip, well-made, and mounted the platform of his chariot, and
drove over the waves, and sea creatures played about beneath emerging
from their lairs, nor did they fail to recognize their lord ( anakta
). In gladness the sea parted and
the horses flew fast and beneath the chariot the bronze axle did not
Compare the associations of this scene of godly ease and control with the
ritual of Poseidon at Onchestos, in which a failure
, a chariot
crash, is commemorated. In the logic of divine-human relations that applies
as well to the celebration of heroes in ancient Greece, the human element,
even in failure, can stand as a signal token of the god’s superhuman power
and success. There is a power, a mysterium
in Poseidon’s grove. The ritual calls for a human to
surrender contol: even one who is a good driver ( elatêr agathos
, line 232) must leave his comfort zone, his
place of special power and control. (Those with a West Coast, New-Age
religious bent will see precisely this gesture as spiritual wisdom,
abandonment to the divine—but that is probably not exactly what the Greek
action signified.) The charioteer then goes on the ground like his opposite,
the foot soldier, while his horses and chariot continue without him. It is
important that he is said to “leap” out of the chariot (233) in what must
itself be a conspicuous display of courage and skill, as well as a useful
maneuver for battle. (To strike another Californian note, I would compare
the similar, highly illegal display of manhood known in some Oakland
neighborhoods as “ghost-riding,” in which souped-up street racers replace
horse-drawn chariots, and drivers jump out of their moving cars.)
The loss of control by the charioteer who jumps from his moving vehicle has a
different meaning for a second category of participants in the rite, the
horses (or perhaps at least one horse, the newly trained colt).
This horse, no
longer driven, gets to draw a breath ( anapneei
). The diction is that which is used in the Iliad
to describe the rare moment of refreshment that
occurs for fighters in the heat of battle (eg. Iliad
16.42, 18.200). Signficantly, such moments in the Iliad
are provided by the heroic fighting of others or by the
intervention of a god (like Poseidon himself in book 13). We could imagine
this refreshing pause for the horse as a gift from its heroic human
charioteer, as if from a fellow fighter. Or, in a more competitive spirit,
we can think of this as something the horses wrest from their controlling
human master. Slightly in favor of the latter interpretation is the language
of release: the horses proceed into the grove “casting off their lordship”
( anaktoriên aphientes
). The moment is
one of liberation. One of the interesting further features of the ritual,
whether we think collaboration or competition, is what happens with the now
driverless chariot. As the poem says, “they rattle the empty chariot along.”
The verb kroteousin
has the sense of
hitting (cf. the derived noun krotala
‘cymbals’), as if the horses are aggressively trying to lose the last
vestige of the human culture that has been attached to them. On the one
hand, to wax more abstract for a moment (but still in a Greek mode, I hope):
we have the phusis
of the horses, as it
were on cruise control, without a human at the reins, but under the
superhuman observation (or even control) of Poseidon. The god, I would
argue, like the horses, is both symbol and embodiment of phusis
‘nature’ as contrasted with human
‘law, custom, habit’—that is to
say, all the arts, crafts, and technology that make culture possible. The
artifice of humans is here abandoned almost on an experimental basis, or as
a gamble, an odd sort of horse race.
And the experiment, like the
athletic event of leaping from the moving chariot, is in itself very
modern-sounding. It is, in brief, the ultimate crash test (without dummies). That is to say, the rattling, jostled, driverless car is subjected, through
this yielding of nomos
, to all of the unpredictable shocks and
bumps that a new Volvo is given in its Swedish torture chamber. As the poem
continues “if the chariot breaks in the wooded grove, on the one hand they
take care of the horses, but on the other hand they leave it (the chariot)
having tilted it up. For this was the holy rite at the very first. And they
pray to the lord and then the portion/lot of the god ( moira
) guards the chariot.” There is no doubt
that what we witness in the Hymn to Apollo
long-standing ritual practice, within the very terms of the poem. While we
do not know about the relationship, in absolute terms, of the establishment
of Poseidon’s cult versus that of Apollo, in narrative terms the brief
digression places the one prominently before the other, just as Poseidon is
older than his nephew Apollo. It is proper to note in this connection that
chariot-rituals are crucial components of kingship inaugurations in both
ancient India and medieval Ireland, a commonality that argues for an
Indo-European cultural practice underlying the whole complex.
presentation (at least in poetic narrative) of the chariot-ritual along the
young Apollo’s way to his new seat of power may have significance as a
marker of his own inaugural moment. In the immediate context of the
Onchestos ritual there is no explicit mention of kingship, it is true. And
yet, as we noted, the poem’s language recalls something not far from it. “Lordship” ( anaktoriê
) is the quality of
being an anax
. From Mycenaean texts, it
appears that this term (in the older form wanax
) in fact indicates a status higher than that of the
“king” or basileus
(appearing in Linear B
Dictionally, the charioteer is a
‘lord’ but so is the
god—indicated, it appears, by (w)anakti
(‘to the lord’) at line 237 (cf. Iliad 11.28 above, where anakta
, also in line-final position, refers to
Poseidon). The now abandoned chariot is in the god’s field of control
‘lot’ or ‘apportionment’). From the point of view of human culture, it has lost its usefulness and is
left behind, but from the god’s point of view it is an acquisition, in the
form of a dedication. The logic of sacrifice works the same way.
The odd rite at Onchestos demands further unpacking, since we have not yet
tackled the distinctive feature of this action sequence, the crash. What is
signified in the dedication of the unsuccessful vehicle to the god? One
might think of dedications as usually indicative of successful outcomes. For
example, the small silver votive plaques clustered around almost every icon
in a Greek Orthodox church are meant to show thanks to God, the Virgin, and
the saints for timely intervention in cases of illness, trouble, or want. Exactly the same dedicatory habit was ubiquitous in ancient Greek and Roman
temples. We can still see the amazing array of models of human body parts
dedicated at Corinth, and read the testimonies of Epidaurian healings. In
these cases, the dedication objects are visible expressions of needs met, or
in some instances of wants to be addressed in the future. But the broken
chariot (basket, pole, and other gear: I take diphron
as metonymic for the whole vehicle) is
like that. Rather than comparing it to the wheelchairs
and crutches that festoon the walls of Christian healing shrines from
Lourdes to Knock, we can compare the chariot, leaning against the shrine
wall, to notches on a gunslinger’s belt or crosses on a fighter pilot’s
fuselage. They are victor’s trophies, commemorations of power. Here the
commemoration would be of Poseidon’s power in contrast to human weakness. The logic of hero-cult applies, however. At the same time as the failure (in
this case, of the driverless car) is displayed, the heroic leap may have
been recalled (perhaps even in oral-traditional praises). A
three-dimensional, dramatic rendition of a similar scene is available to us
in the story of Hippolytos, the “horse-loosened,” a grandson of Poseidon,
staged most memorably by Euripides. He dies, tangled in the reins of his
chariot that Poseidon caused to crash (in obedience to the wish of his son
Theseus, father of Hippolytos). He did not leap in time, if you will. Yet
his death shows the power of the god, and his devotion to at least one
human, his son. And so, in the Onchestos ritual as presented in the Hymn to Apollo
, Poseidon is granted the ultimate
visible recognition of his superior skills at chariot control, through the
dedication of uncontrolled and broken human vehicles.
Do these vehicles, however, really signify an oppositional stance? Is it a
case of Poseidon Hippios, master of driving, showing up the would-be human
masters of his art who fail to control their chariots? Clearly not. Nor is
it a story, like that of the young Pelops, of Poseidon protecting a driver
and bringing him success in a race.
when it comes to the heart of this test. The Hymn to
, I suggest, gives us a quite different scenario,
involving a four-way multifaceted krisis
or “judgment under pressure.” To recap the elements: we have first the
presiding god to whom broken chariots will be dedicated (while presumably
the unbroken vehicles escape being frozen in time as ritual objects in a
shrine, instead continuing in human use). Second, we have a human driver who
bails out leaving his horses (element #3) to rattle and jostle his chariot,
dragging it along uncontrolled. The fourth element now deserves mention: the
chariot itself. The Greek plurale tantum
means literally “joinings.”
The very notion focuses on construction (as if one were to call a car
“car-parts”). If the crash test of the ritual does not invoke successful
driving, then what exactly is being tested, what is subject to the krisis
? My answer: craft. Put simply, on
display when the chariot enters the wooded grove of he god, to crash or
survive intact, is the skill of whatever “joiner” (for which the Greek is
, sharing a root with tekhnê
) made the chariot, crafting its careful
. It is not impossible that
the driver himself was that “joiner” (though he need not have been). He
would thus not only race his own car, but show how good a car-maker he could
be. Craftsmen—like the goldworker in Nestor’s Pylos—are perfectly able to
achieve independent epic commemoration.
The scenario I have sketched is not overt in the Hymn
, which, we must admit, treats the whole rite in passing,
as a sort of religiously inclined traveller’s tale based on learned local
lore, like those found centuries later in Pausanias.
But it must have been obvious in
the rite itself: the better-made chariot would not rattle into pieces. Preserved in the highly visible line of broken chariots is a sort of
-victor list. One would like to know whether the
dedications were anonymous or inscribed.
In any event, the string of
damaged vehicles says silently to the god “you won,” even if it does not say
overtly to the viewers “so-and-so lost.” Despite the somewhat unusual nature
of the ritual, we must recognize in it a format that characterized Greek art
and craft for centuries. The “performance” of the highly crafted chariot (in
our own sense of vehicle “performance”) is done:
- in a religious setting;
- involving an explicit or implicit contrast and contest with other
performers (here, other chariots, driver-leapers, and carpenters);
- for the ultimate purpose of glorifying a divinity; and
- in the process providing implicit or explicit criteria
(kritêrion, that which enables
the krisis) whereby one can judge
This four-part definition of a craft-contest, based on an archaic poetic
description of an obscure Boeotian ritual, will easily be seen to apply to
the best-known aesthetic events from classical Athens: the musical,
dramatic, and rhapsodic contests of the Panathenaia and Dionysia festivals,
the soil from which our texts of Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and
hundreds of other (fragmentary) poets grew. Recitations of epic; the playing
of pipe ( aulos
) and concert lyre
); singing to these
instruments; the staging of tragedy, comedy satyr-play, and dithyramb—all
fit into this format of “craft-contest.” (We even hear of “art” contests—in
painting for example—to which the format equally applies.) It may not be
irrelevant, given this context, that the very medium of the Homeric hymn is
known to be a contest-performance medium. The Hymn to
, which preserves the fascinating Onchestos episode, may
itself have been the result of a contest in rhapsodic hymn
composition-in-performance. At the very least, as I have argued elsewhere,
it can be interpreted as representing such a contest in a stylized way.
about the life of Homer have him competing at Delos in the composition of a
hymn to Apollo; some evidence even names Hesiod as his rival, or
collaborator, in such a contest.
Now that we have uncovered in one small passage of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo
the parameters and ideology of a
small-scale, highly archaic contestation of aesthetic craft, it is time to
turn to my second case study, which examines, as it were, the ideology
surrounding the other end of the process: the criteria
attitudes arising from an event dedicated to Poseidon’s sometime rival,
Athena—the festival of the Panathenaia.
The field of their rivalry, their contestation-by-craft, is the art of the
. A key component of the
mythology surrounding Apollo is his involvement with singing, dancing, and
playing stringed instruments. The lattermost, an extremely important aspect
of Apolline musical culture, has most recently been meticulously explored
and presented in the magnificent work of Timothy Power, The
Culture of Kitharôidia
, which covers just about everything
connected to the art of singing to the kithara
(forerunner in word and artifact of our
want to examine just two moments in the ancient depiction of Apollo as a
singer to this large stringed instrument.
Apollo the Citharode is more than just an incidental portrayal of the god
with a proto-guitar. He is instead a mythic construction that benefited
certain groups within archaic Greek culture. I consciously use these words,
myth and mythic, with an awareness of their usage in the earliest surviving
Greek poetic texts. Both derive from the Greek word muthos
. As I discovered some years ago, the word muthos
in Homer actually does not immediately
refer to what we might call myths—that is stories about gods and heroes—but
rather to a particular kind of speech-act. It signals the use of speech when
making a command, or a rebuke, or a long act of remembrance. Put another
way, a muthos
is, in the earliest usage,
an utterance seeking authority, an assertion of identity, and a strategic
believe that these same characteristics actually do continue into later
usages of the word to mean something more like our modern word “myth.” We
should not be misled by the apparent anonymity of myths in this later
meaning. Every myth started as a muthos
by some person or persons—as a way to represent and manipulate the world. Today I would like to suggest that the muthos
of Apollo the Player (and Singer) turns out to be a
method of self-presentation by the very performers who themselves
transmitted myths—that is to say, real human players. This mythic
self-presentation, in turn, can be seen as regionally determined within
Greek culture. That is to say the stories of Apollo the Citharode represent
in large part a stylization of the type that is called “epichoric”—existing
in a particular land. But the particular localization, as I shall argue, is
that of a very specific festival
, as opposed to the rites of
other cult-centers. We shall see that the “criteria” for performance—the
aesthetic notions that we might think universal—are in fact determined (and
over-determined) by highly local conditions. Any genealogy of modern
aesthetics has to start with the realia
of such rites.
Let us start with verbal art. The Homeric Hymn to
, which gave us our first example, the rite of Poseidon at
Onchestos, spends much more of its narrative time and power in loudly
proclaiming Apollo as the Citharode. After his mother, Leto, has convinced
the island of Delos that acting as a divine maternity ward will be a good
economic arrangement for it later on, Delos makes the pregnant Leto swear an
oath that Apollo will indeed build a glorious temple on the small rocky
island. Then, Leto goes into labor for nine days and nine nights. She grasps
a palm tree, kneels on the ground, and surrounded by nymphs and goddesses
produces the twins Apollo and Artemis. The young god is so powerful he
bursts his swaddling bands. His first words in the poem proclaim his future
areas of interest. “May the kithara be dear to me and the bent bow, and I
will utter to mortals the unerring will of Zeus” (lines 131–132). He
presents himself as one who can play a stringed instrument, called in the
Greek of the poem the kitharis
of the more common noun kithara
). He will
also be an archer and a prophet. I cannot enter here into the connection
between the first two skills, music-making and archery, but I suspect it is
very old. Philippe Montbrun has recently shown in detail that the hunting
bow and one-stringed musical instrument are indeed one and the same physical
object among many peoples of Africa, South America, and Oceania.
As for the
connections between musical performance and prophecy, the work of Lisa
Maurizio and others has demonstrated that oral poetics has a key role in the
production of prophetic hexameters at the Delphic oracle. It may even be the
case that the Pythia, the prophetess of Apollo, spoke in verse.
In short, the
three skills Apollo proclaims might be thought of simply as three aspects of
one powerful super-craft, a skill that boils down to unerringness—whether of
getting the right note in musical performance, the right target in athletic
and martial performance, or the right prediction in talk of the future. Such
an abstract but unifying concept should right away make us withhold judgment
about the exact criteria for any one of those performances. It opens a world
of strange possibility (from an aesthetic view): is a string-player better
when he is more athletic, “bowing” with a vengeance, “hitting” the right
notes precisely? Or when the music seems to us sweeter, more expressive,
more moving and sensitive? We cannot assume that there is one culturally
transcendent right answer.
The instrumental aspect is just one part of this craft of citharody—that is,
singing to the accompaniment of the kithara
. We have to keep clear the distinction between
), and on the other hand “lyre” (Greek lura
), which is often sloppily misapplied to
the stringed instrument of Apollo. As a matter of fact, most translations of
the passage I just read from the Hymn to Apollo
write “lyre” for the Greek word kitharis
. For a quick reminder on types of Greek stringed instruments, three images
(figures 1 through 3) will suffice:
We shall return to these distinctions in a while. For now, it is enough to
keep in mind that the kithara
is both big
and loud. It is a large seven-stringed instrument with a sizable wooden
sound-box, providing great resonance, and making it difficult to play—even
in terms of requiring physical strength to hold it up.
In classical times it was played
by professional musicians, often in the competitive environment of musical
contests, at major festivals. Those festivals included, most conspicuously,
the Pythian games held at Apollo’s shrine at Delphi.
Let me first make some further observations on vocabulary, lest it be thought
I am taking diction at face value in arguing that Apollo is, in the strictly
technical sense, a citharode. Within the Homeric hymns, it must be conceded,
the terms used for instrumental playing are a little ambiguous. That is, one
could argue that the noun kitharis
cited at line 131, might be used in an unmarked way to mean any
stringed instrument. It might even be used, as it is in most of the few
occurrences in Homeric poetry, as a nomen
to mean “instrument-playing” rather than an
instrument. The noun kithara
) is not attested until the
fifth century. The default noun for the instrument that is played by singers
in the Homeric epics is yet another term: phorminx
. In the Hymn to Apollo
this noun alternates with kitharis
. Furthermore, the verbs derived from either noun, phormizein
appear to be interchangeable. All this means
that the diction of hexameter poetry has a good deal of flexibility in
describing instrumental performance. The words “to play the phorminx
” and “to play the kithara
” can be taken in their semantically
broad, unmarked sense—and in this way even applied to the playing of the
small tortoise-shell lyre—a completely different instrument. Or, the words
can be taken in a semantically narrow
, marked sense to mean
precisely playing the larger, wooden-box instruments, the kithara
and its forerunner, the phorminx
. Such flexibility proves useful as
poets engage in mythologizing their own art-forms.
Let me also suggest that we may be seeing in this flexible system of
descriptive terms the strata of generations of actual performance practices. In this connection I am reminded of something once told to me by a man who
had trained to be an Egyptian oral epic poet. The folklorist Dwight Reynolds
observes that even when a bard of the contemporary Hilali oral epic is
obviously playing on a twentieth-century fiddle, with several strings, he
will say to his audience, in his verses “I sing to you as I play on my
”—although the rabab
much older, one-stringed instrument, clearly not
what he is
using in his act of performance. The text and the context, thus apparently
dissonant, are seamlessly joined through the willing suspension of
in fact, the fiddle does function, for poet and audience, as the spiritual
and practical descendant of the rabab
. The ideology of
performance remains the same despite the practical upgrade and shift in the
form of accompanying instrumentation.
As we return to the Hymn to Apollo
, therefore, we
should keep in mind that the poem might be describing Apollo using a lyre,
or Apollo using the professional contest instrument, the kithara
. I shall contend that the Hymn to Apollo
points to the latter scenario—in fact,
the big-box instrument—is
for Apollo the default
instrument. Another Homeric hymn, the
Hymn to Hermes
, as we shall see, insists on the
latter scenario, his use of the lura
is this primeval contrast that will lead us to some conclusions about the
mythic meanings of kithara
vs. lyre in
terms of performance practices, social semiotics, and aesthetics.
In order to explore the further implications of Apollo as a player and
singer, a citharode, let us start with the following lines ( Homeric Hymn to Apollo
And there is this great
wonder besides—and its renown shall never perish—the girls of Delos,
hand-maidens of the Far-shooter; for when they have praised Apollo
first, and also Leto and Artemis who delights in arrows, they sing a
strain-telling of men and women of past days, and charm the tribes of
men. Also they can imitate the tongues of all men and their clattering
speech: each would say that he himself were singing, so close to truth
is their sweet song.
The immediate context is a description of the Ionian festival at Delos in
honor of Apollo. Along with other events, it includes, in the poet’s
rendition, a chorus of maidens of Delos who charm the assembled festival
crowd on the sacred island with their astounding vocal performance. The
speaker of the Homeric hymn at this point appears to introduce himself, as
well as a second man, a foil figure. Bidding the Delian maidens farewell,
just after these lines, the speaker says: “If a stranger should ask ‘Who for
you is the sweetest of singers frequenting this place, in whom do you take
most delight,’ tell him this: ‘A blind man, he lives in rocky Chios. That
man’s songs, all of them, are best ever after’” (lines 168–173). This
scripted response seems to be an artful if rather indirect
self-advertisement on the part of the performing poet. In the form in which
it is scripted for the Delian maidens, it resembles a contract: the parties
are marked out by the contrasting line intial humeis
plural and ‘we’). You
give this answer, says the anonymous
speaker, and we in turn will spread your poetic fame ( kleos
) as far as we wander on earth to the
well-peopled cities of men. “And I will never cease to praise far-shooting
Apollo, god of the silver bow, whom rich-haired Leto bare” (lines
Since the time of Thucydides, this passage from the Hymn to
has been taken as evidence for the history of performance
practices. Most often, the mysterious blind man of Chios has been
interpreted as a reference to the figure of Homer. What is not always
stressed is the open-ended wording of these lines: there is no direct
assertion that the speaker of the Hymn to Apollo
in fact the same as the tuphlos anêr
blind man. The identity of the hymn’s performer is instead elided—we are
meant to associate
him with Homeric traditions, with all who
have ever wandered around performing songs of Homer, but it may or may not
be “Homer” who speaks to the Delians.
I would add that the Homer figure here most closely resembles that of the
wandering poet found in the Lives of Homer
the Contest of Homer and Hesiod
. These traditional
stories appear to go back to the sixth century BC, a time when the texts of
the poems of Homer and Hesiod were probably being crystallized and set down
in some form or other. As we see Homer mythologized in those traditions, he
represents a much more expansive repertoire than the composer of our Iliad
. The Homer
of the Lives of Homer
stories composes curses,
magical spells, epigrams, and hymns, as well as what we might call epic. He
comes into town and gets himself advertised, stays at cobblers’ shops or
men’s gathering spots, even makes up small-scale epics about the history of
the city in which he finds himself. The Homer of the Lives
traditions is an ornery character as well, who will curse
a town if he feels that he has been disrespected—in good poetic fashion of
if we acknowledge that the speaker of the ancient Hymn to
associates himself with such an expansive, multigeneric
repertory for the poetry of Homer—from curses, to praise poems, to epigrams
and spells—the next claim in my argument becomes a bit more likely: namely,
that the performer of the very Hymn to Apollo
himself wants to pose as a citharode—or at least, to strongly suggest the
possibility that he is one. This might be surprising since it is clear that
the Homeric hymns as a group must have been rhapsodic
compositions meant for competitive recitation, like the Iliad
sixth-century formats. By rhapsodic, I mean recited, without musical
accompaniment or melody. We have a picture of such recitation in the
dialogue of Plato named Ion
—after the wandering
rhapsode or “song-stitcher” of that name. Ion the rhapsode goes from place
to place competing as a reciter of the Iliad
. Let me stress the difference once
more. Our evidence for actual performance of Homeric poetry, and by
extension Homeric hymns, tell us that they were recited
competitions, not sung
. Yet the internal picture given us by
the Hymn to Apollo
suggests that the composer of
such poetry is a singer, specifically a citharode ,
or singer to the kithara
What are the signs of this hymnist’s imagined citharody? Most clearly, it
comes in what I shall call “emblematic melding.” To explain this, I refer
you to another passage. Several critics have noted that the transition in
lines 177 and following is abrupt.
Most attribute this to an alleged gap or seam between
the so-called Delian and Pythian parts of the Hymn
. It is true that the first part of the Hymn to
dwells on the career of the young god near the time of
his birth on Delos, while the second highlights his acquisition of Delphi as
a place for a temple from which to issue oracles. Since the eighteenth
century, critics have insisted that the Hymn to
is in fact two poems clumsily stuck together, one
originally designed for performance on Delos, the other for performance at
Delphi. I do not personally believe in this explanation.
At any rate, in the passage at
hand, after promising to spread the fame of the Delian maidens, the
speaker—who previously referred to himself with a plural pronoun hêmeis
—says at line 177 “but I
pronoun) I will not cease making a humnos
about far-shooting Apollo.” He then
makes good on his claim, breaking into what we can identify as high-style
hymnic rhetoric in the Greek poetic tradition ( Homeric Hymn
O Lord, Lycia is yours and lovely
Maeonia and Miletus, charming city by the sea, but over wave-girt Delos
you greatly reign your own self. Leto’s all-glorious son goes to rocky
Pytho, playing upon his hollow lyre, clad in divine, perfumed garments;
and at the touch of the golden key his lyre sings sweet. Thence, swift
as thought, he speeds from earth to Olympus, to the house of Zeus, to
join the gathering of the other gods: then straightway the undying gods
think only of the lyre and song, and all the Muses together, voice
sweetly answering voice, hymn the unending gifts the gods enjoy and the
sufferings of men, all that they endure at the hands of the deathless
gods, and how they live witless and helpless and cannot find healing for
death or defence against old age.
In this miniature praise section, the very first image the poet offers us is,
significantly, of Apollo, seen in all his glory as citharode. Not only are
both the mortal and divine hymnists juxtaposed in this manner. The
description interconnects details as well. We see Apollo as he strides
toward an assembly of the gods ( homêgurin
), surely a match for the picture we have just seen of
the Homeric poet, the blind man of Chios, as travelling around. Both man and
god are hymnists on the move. The epiphany of Apollo on Olympos prompts
divine delight in kitharis
, instrumental playing and singing, and
leads to further song and dance among the gods. That comes in a description
that, as many have observed, closely replicates the features of the human
musical events on Delos mentioned earlier in the poem.
In the earlier passage, the poem
refers to the gathering of Greeks from all over the islands and adjacent
coast, and speaks of how they are transfixed by the virtuoso performance of
a set of human girls who can imitate the voices and movements of all.
have a chiasmus, that X-shape rhetorical figure that moves from A to B,
B-prime to A-prime (Figure 4).
The emblematic melding here accomplishes in almost tactile fashion the sort
of analogizing through which myth as a whole functions. The assertion
embedded in this juxtaposition is: just as Apollo is musagetês
, leader of the Muses
so the blind man of Chios—or his representative—is choral leader of the
chorus, the one who provides them with songs. This
matching detail is further underlined by the line-final occurrence of the
word for song, aoidê
at 173 (referring to
“Homer”) and at 188 (referring to Apollo). To repeat, no matter what its
actual performance conditions were over the years—including recitation in
performance, without music of any kind—the text itself insinuates that the
Hymn to Apollo
is exactly like Apollo’s
song. Let me put it more pointedly: the human singer
worships the god by modeling himself on this divine patron of song.
There is one further emblematic melding to examine in the Apollo hymn. As the
poem proceeds, Apollo, realizing the need for priests for his newly founded
temple in Delphi, goes out and hijacks a boat. Specifically, he takes the
form of a dolphin, leaps into a ship manned by Cretan sailors, and proceeds
to flop around and rock it. While Apollo the Dolphin lies there, the boat
starts steering itself toward the place he desires. When it reaches his
goal, Apollo resumes his divine form and tells the Cretans they will be his
servants. He then leads them in a high-spirited but formal procession up the
mountain to his shrine, playing his phorminx
as he goes. The Cretans follow, singing a victory
song or paian
“just like the paians
of the Cretans, for whom the Muse has
placed in the heart honey-voiced song.” If the hymnist of this poem is being
likened to Apollo, so the Cretan sailors—his newly found priests—are likened
to Cretan paian
singers. The victory song
or thanksgiving song to Apollo called the paian
was normally sung to the kithara
. By mythic calculation, the hymnist of the Hymn to Apollo
is like Apollo who in turn is like the
leader of Cretan citharode singers. Hence once again, the Hymn
performer comes out looking like a citharode. I shall
return to the Cretans in a moment, in formulating my final thoughts about
the role of ritual and contest in developing the aesthetics of
For now, we should note that this very artful and careful merging of
performers within the Hymn to Apollo
more resonance when placed next to the evidence from iconography and
literary-historical traditions. A key to this broader complex is the lore
passed down to us by the second-century (ad) travel writer Pausanias. In
Pausanias’ section on the Pythian games, we must note several key points. Before the reorganization of the Pythian games in the sixth century BC, as
we learn from other sources, the only contest was in citharody. Pausanias
says this took the form of singing a hymn to Apollo. The first winner was
Chrysothemis of Crete.The passage is worth quoting in full: 
contest and the one for which they first offered prizes was, according
to tradition, the singing of a hymn to the god. The man who sang and won
the prize was Chrysothemis of Crete, whose father Carmanor is said to
have cleansed Apollo. After Chrysothemis, says tradition, Philammon won
with a song, and after him his son Thamyris. But they say that Orpheus,
a proud man and conceited about his mysteries, and Musaeus, who copied
Orpheus in everything, refused to submit to the competition in musical
They say too that Eleuther won a Pythian victory
for his loud and sweet voice, for the song that he sang was not of his
own composition. The story is that Hesiod too was debarred from
competing because he had not learned to accompany his own singing on the
harp. Homer too came to Delphi to inquire about his needs, but even
though he had learned to play the harp, he would have found the skill
useless owing to the loss of his eye-sight.
There are a number of fascinating and relevant aspects to Pausanias’
collection of observations on Delphic performance history. We can note,
first, how the character and biography of various “authors” are obviously
tied to the local traditions about whether or not they were fit to
participate in a particular event. Thus Orpheus and Musaeus are too proud,
Hesiod too unskilled in music, and Homer, paradoxically, skilled but unable
to make use of his skill due to blindness—which sounds like a crudely
We should note further that Chrysothemis, the first victor, had a living
connection with Apollo, since his father had performed katharsis
for the god. The ritual context,
therefore, is doubled—the citharode sings a hymn and
is the son
of one who provided ritual cleansing. By the way, the very name Chrysothemis
or “Golden Rule” would make an appropriate epithet for the god himself. In
the Hymn to Apollo
, the baby god is resplendently
dressed in gold, with gold belt and gold dagger. The very first divinity to
feed the baby Apollo is not his mother Leto, but instead the goddess
—‘proper Rule’, or ‘Custom’. She gives him nektar
and ambrosia—the perfect pablum for an
immortal (lines 123–124). What I am suggesting is that calling oneself
“Chrysothemis” in the context of Apolline cult and festival evokes images of
the very origin of the god Apollo. I add to Pausanias’ information at this
point a further piece of lore. According to a tradition passed down by the
Byzantine scholar Photius ( Bibliotheca
mortal singer Chrysothemis was the first to wear expensive clothing and to
take up the kithara
to sing a solo
or traditional song-pattern in
of Apollo ( eis mimêsin
). This anecdote is nothing less than an etiological
story to explain the customary dress of both competitive citharists and
their instruments (also by the way, elaborately clothed, as we shall
The other points in Pausanias’ passage are all worth absorbing, but I have to
pass quickly over them. Essentially, this lore retrojects a division of
repertoires, perhaps stemming from the sixth century BC. The Pythian games
tradition of competitive singing to the accompaniment of the kithara
, interestingly, includes in its list
of victors (and thus, in the contemporary repertoire) Philammon, Eleuther,
and best of all the mythic performer Thamyris, who the Iliad
tells us was once defeated by the Muses in a contest. But
Orpheus, Musaeus, Homer, and Hesiod. These latter,
it can be argued, are all to be associated with rhapsodic
performance, although the passage does not state this. In stressing Homer’s
skill at playing an instrument, and then veering away from this by excluding
him, the Pythian lore seems to mirror inversely what the Hymn to Apollo
presents: a citharodic, singing-and-playing
Homer, in the actual context of a rhapsodic
Hymn. It is as if
the keepers of Pythian lore, perhaps the priests and operators of the games,
acknowledged a tradition of Homeric citharody, but take pains to reject it. Within the terms of the Pythian lore reported by Pausanias, such a rejection
would make most sense if citharodic ideology—collaborating with the rules of
the games, as set by Apollo’s proponents— requires
performers the ability to see the god in order to proclaim his glory—you do
not acquire such details from what other people tell you. You must see for
Let me return to the essential conclusion we can draw from the passages we
have just seen. The origin myths and ideology of citharodic performance at
the games in Delphi, the Pythian games, pivot around imitating the god
in his role as citharode
. The Homeric Hymn
, as I am suggesting, promotes that very ideology,
although it seems the Pythian contests excluded Homeric epic from
competition—yet another indication of how ritual events shaped the very
canon of Greek literature. At this point, we could expatiate on the function
of such divine mimesis. It seems to have a specific role within the broader
area of male initiation. In this connection, we need to recall that Apollo
is the god of clan membership, as attested especially in Dorian lands (like
Crete), but also in Athens. As a young god, with characteristic long hair,
he is the embodiment of that stage in a young man’s life when he is called
ephebe—“on the verge of full youth.” Apollo does not get old—he is the
eternal ephebe. To be a full man, the mortal Greek passes through the
ephebic stage, learning the craft of the warrior, but also learning the
other relevant skills of being an aristocratic male. These skills include
the production of music and song—embodied in Apollo the citharode. This
whole ancient Greek social-mythic complex can be characterized, in the
anthropologist Michael Herzfeld’s phrase, as the “Poetics of Manhood”—the
title of his wonderful book about late twentieth-century inhabitants of an
upland village in Crete.
And now it’s time for us to talk further of Cretans. It is hardly an
accident, I believe, that the first citharodic winner, a generation after
the god himself, according to the ancient lore, was from Crete. I submit
that the reason Apollo, in the mythic narrative preserved in the Hymn to Apollo,
has to choose Cretan
merchant pirates to be his priests is simply because the traditions of
citharodic performance at Delphi have predetermined
the ethnicity. The stories and practices of real performers, in other words,
have moved quietly into the mythic representations, retrojecting a number of
details from the present age of what singers really do (or their own stories
about what they do) into a distant Golden Age. Nor should we be disturbed by
the odd combination of priests and singers in this picture—the mythic Cretan
sailors becoming sacrificial officiants at Apollo’s temple, while the Cretan
performers are good at singing. At Delphi as at Athens, where the Eumolpidae
or “good-singer” family had ritual functions, and further afield, in the
cults and poetic traditions of Vedic India, priests and singers are quite
often one and the same persons.
Two semihistorical figures can help fill in the picture I have been drawing
of the ideology of “emblematic melding.” Terpander, a citharode from Lesbos,
who flourished around 680 BC, established the first citharodic contest at
the Carneia in Sparta—and proceeded to win the contest.
Since the Carneia was a
long-standing Apollo festival, we see once again the close relation between
citharody and the god. But in the stories that tell us how Terpander
invented the seven-stringed lyre, and the set of tunes to be sung to the
, we see also the melding of
human musician with divine. For Apollo, too, is a first-founder, discoverer
of institutions, and inventor of nomoi
several senses. (The word nomoi
both ‘tunes’ and ‘laws’.
) The second figure is a sort of shamanic alternative to
Terpander; the traditional dating puts him, too, in the seventh century BC. His name is Thaletas or Thales, and he is credited with founding another
Spartan institution, the Gymnopaidia. (The name of the festival, if nothing
else, is at least is familiar to the modern world in the music composition
of Eric Satie, Les Gymnopédies). Thaletas or Thales is also said to have
prevented war or cured plague with his songs, which included paians and a
kind of processional song called huporkhêma
If Terpander imitates the divine model Apollo in his
innovations, Thaletas does so by his healing and harmonizing activities. Looked at another way, both of these historical citharodic biographies
reflect the emblematic melding of performer and patron. And by the way,
Thaletas comes from an interesting town, one that we associate with one of
the earliest surviving Greek law codes on stone: Gortyn—in, of all places,
The literary evidence on Apollo as citharode is dwarfed by the visual, which
would require a long book and more art-historical expertise than I can
muster to analyze in full.
Let me summarize for the sake of brevity: from a sample
data set comprising the 536 vases for which the online Beazely archive at
Oxford provided images in a keyword search, as well as the Lexicon Iconographicum
section on Apollo with kithara
, I find that the kithara
accompanies Apollo in a fairly
restricted set of scenes—ones that are ritual, public, and celebratory. The
god plays in processions, especially divine weddings, like that depicted on
a well-known sixth-century dinos
Sophilos (figure 5).
Apollo also plays at altars flaming for sacrifice, or for libations; and
Apollo leads the Muses in song. Such type-scene attestations capture the
marked nature of public performance on this instrument, the very same marked
and ritually grounded performance that one sees in the human citharodic
contests at the Carneia and the Pythia. A related point is that Apollo
himself in vase depictions looks like a human citharode contestant, and vice
versa. Compare the views in figure 6 (on the left, red-figure pelike
Apollon 84]; on the right, Attic
black-figure pelike [Kassel T 675]).
We have established the close “emblematic melding” of human citharodes and
divine player. I have argued that this goes back to the actual practices and
ideology of the citharodes, specifically in the contest situation at Delphi,
in the Pythian Games. Now is the time to turn at last to a third place,
triangulating as it were between Apollo’s sites of Delphi and Delos; and to
the aesthetics of its contests, those honoring another divinity, Athena, in
the Panathenaia. I will take a slight detour, however, reaching Athens
through Arcadia, at least in mythic terms.
A companion poem to the Hymn to Apollo
is the hymnic
composition that celebrates the birth and adventures of his half-brother,
the god Hermes. I cannot dwell on the Hymn to
at the same length as Apollo’s hymn, but will mention it
just long enough to sketch how it embodies a suggestive transgression into
Apolline harmonies. This hymn is a comic masterpiece. It tells how Hermes’
mother Maia gives birth to him in a cave far distant from the house of his
father Zeus. It’s a kind of rags-to-riches tale. Soon after being born,
Hermes decides to go and steal the cattle of his brother Apollo. Cattle-raiding—like the skill at chariot-driving (and in Nestor’s case, as
11 shows, combined with that skill)—is a
very ancient form of proving manhood, connected with initiation stories in
Greek, Indic, and Irish traditions.
In the world of modern Crete—as
Michael Herzfeld’s book shows in detail—it has been replaced as an
initiatory experience by the stealing of sheep from one’s older male
neighbors. But it still functions in the Poetics of Manhood.
So the Hymn to Hermes
, in its basic plot, enacts a
transgression, with a baby doing the deed of a young man—not unlike the way
Apollo himself is instantly matured in the hymn dedicated to him. But the
Hymn to Hermes
goes a step further. Not only is
it about a legal, ritual transgression (Hermes in fact invents a new kind of
sacrifice). It also encapsulates a musical transgression. After being caught
and threatened with punishment by his older brother, Hermes charms Apollo
with singing to his own invention, the tortoise-shell lyre ( Homeric Hymn to Hermes
He took [the lyre] upon
his left arm and tried each string in turn with the key, so that it
sounded awesomely at his touch. And Phoebus Apollo laughed for joy; for
the sweet throb of the marvellous music went to his heart, and a soft
longing took hold on his soul as he listened. Then the son of Maia,
harping sweetly [ kitharizōn ] upon his
lyre , took courage and stood at the left hand of
Phoebus Apollo; and soon, while he played shrilly on his lyre, he lifted
up his voice and sang, and lovely was the sound of his voice that
followed. He sang the story of the deathless gods and of the dark earth,
how at the first they came to be, and how each one received his
But Apollo was seized with a longing not to be
allayed, and he opened his mouth and spoke winged words to Hermes:
“Slayer of oxen, trickster, busy one, comrade of the feast, this song of
yours is worth fifty cows, and I believe that presently we shall settle
our quarrel peacefully. But come now, tell me this, resourceful son of
Maia: has this marvellous thing been with you from your birth, or did
some god or mortal man give it you—a noble gift—and teach you heavenly
song? For wonderful is this new-uttered sound I hear, the like of which
I vow that no man nor god dwelling on Olympus ever yet has known but
you, O thievish son of Maia. What skill is this? What song for desperate
cares? What way of song?”
In the Hymn to Apollo
, the god was clearly a
citharode. The large concert instrument is his from birth. Yet the Hymn to Hermes
conspicuously represents him as
completely taken with the lyre
and how one sings to it. It even
seems as though Apollo has never heard stringed instrumental playing before,
of any kind. Why does the Hymn to Hermes show Apollo getting from his
thievish younger brother not a kithara
—but a lyre
? Well, part of the story of the
Hymn to Hermes
is that the new baby god
actually invented the lyre. He lures a tortoise into his baby cave, kills
it, and makes its shell into a sound box. This myth, in other words, is an
origin tale for an actual instrument that was in fact used in certain
situations in ancient Greek life. But the images above, of lyre vs. kithara
, should remind us once more: kithara
s are to lyres as concert harps are to
banjos. There is a big difference.
The tortoise-shell lyre represents a set of associations that is very much on
the surface in the Hymn to Hermes
, and these
associations are the opposite of the kithara
’s. Take for example the passages that describe the
first song of baby Hermes. He strikes up the instrument and then sings to it
in accompaniment “trying things out on the basis of improvisation ( ex autoskhediês
).” We know that singing to the
in actual contests required
the playing of set patterns or nomoi
do not just pick up a kithara
improvise, not when praising the god or competing in contests or
accompanying sacrifice. Furthermore, whereas Apollo’s followers sing
in his hymn—the kind that
Cretans are famous for—Hermes’ song resembles the improvised off-hand insult
contests of young men at feasts. (I think of a modern Cretan parallel, the
duels that can
erupt in any number of situations). Finally, the content of Hermes’ song is
nothing less than autobiographical. The baby gives us a first-person view of
his environment, including maids and pots ( Homeric Hymn to
60–61). It makes us think of another sort of ancient
Greek poetry, the sometimes obscene, always personal verse attributed to
Archilochus, the soldier-poet from the island of Paros. Perhaps it is not
accidental that Archilochus was said to have been initiated into poetry as a
young man by some sarcastic Muses whom he met, and who gave him, in return
for his cow, the gift of a lyre (note— not
The lyre of Hermes, clearly described as the tortoise-shell instrument, is
called a phorminx
, for which I refer back
to my earlier remarks on the flexibility of epic diction. More telling, it
is also called a lura
(line 423). At line
418, even more telling, the object noun is omitted altogether: some editors
replace the transmitted reading labôn
(“having taken”) with the name of an instrument, either lurēn
, but I think the text, as it stands with its direct
object unexpressed and elided, is exactly right.
The poet of this hymn plays the
same game; the instrument in question may
be a lyre, but the
audience knows that in order to be the appropriate accessory for the mature
god Apollo it has to be a kithara
. Therefore, the poet helps one suspend disbelief by refusing to foreground
in its marked form. From the long description of how
it is made ( Homeric Hymn to Hermes
40–51), this is
clearly a tortoise-shell lyre, no doubt about it. But the suggestive
transgression has to copy reality to some extent. Hermes, for example,
imitates real kithara
-style situations. He plays his homemade lyre, in an agonistic legalistic, contest
setting. He sings a theogony, a ritual style composition of the sort
attributed to the primeval mortal singer Orpheus. And he thoroughly enchants
his audience—the god Apollo, who has finally caught the little baby and
wants to drag him before their father Zeus. The poet is subtle: Apollo does
say he never heard stringed music before. “What art,
what music for cares hard to deal with is this?” he says—language again
reminding us of themes in Archilochus’ verses. It relates, he goes on to
say, to sympotic festivity ( euphrosunê
love, and sleep. In other words, this music is private, nonritual, and
consolatory—the opposite of kithara
on all three counts. Song, dance, and aulos
(pipe) music are already around, says Apollo, and the
Muses practice them. He does not
mention whether kithara
s already exist. He does allude once
more to the way lyre-singing befits feasts of youths (line 454).
In sum, Apollo is
like the producer who has stumbled on a new—perhaps dangerous but
exciting—way of playing. He immediately sees the potential for it—from being
the rival brother, he becomes the Colonel Parker to this new-found Elvis,
the Dr. Dre to Snoop Dog.
The lines here encapsulate Hermes’ gift to Apollo of this music which he
refers to as kitharizein
—though we know
it is technically not the playing of an actual kithara
; it is a lyre. The trade is expressed in reverse form
if we compare it with the contract made by the Hymn to
poet’s deal with the Delian maidens. “ I
give you this instrument; you
give me glory,” says Hermes,
whereas the Homer-figure, the blind man of Chios, said “ you
my words, I’ll
give you fame.” And so Apollo ends up having a
lyre—something like trading in a Stradivarius for a ukulele.
Mythologists must always ask: cui bono
? For whose good? That is to say, which tellers of tales would benefit from
suggesting transgressively that Apollo’s instrumental art was in fact (a)
the product of a plea-bargain, (b) the music of drinking parties, and (c)
the result of playing on a loosely strung, lightly resonant instrument that
probably could not be heard farther than the end of the table in someone’s
house, let alone in a huge crowd at a concert competition? The answer is
quite clear. This is the depiction desired by the non
In the social world of ancient
performer culture, just as in the contemporary world of celebrity musicians
(especially rappers), various groups must have characterized one another in
an effort to distinguish themselves. Some might claim an affiliation with
the genre of citharody: such a claim makes itself visible in the Hymn to Apollo
. Others, however, belittle that very
assertion, claiming (as does the Hymn to Hermes
that Apollo prefers the sort of privatized, aristocratic, nonritualized,
and—most important— non-agonistic
music associated with the
younger boys’ instrument, the lyre.
The undercutting of citharodic performance, by way of the assertion of the
primacy of Hermes’ lyre over Apollo’s kithara
, is on one level a kind of inversion joke, the
younger initiate (Hermes) making fun of the older initiate model (Apollo). Just as Apollo is the eternal ephebe, Hermes is the eternal trickster, a
figure of parody and adolescent play. But these are mythopoetic universals. At the actual historical level, I suggest that the context for this
ideological musical competition is in fact that of the Panathenaiac games at
Athens. One key fact distinguishes the Delphic Pythian (and probably the
Spartan Carneia) musical contests from the Athenian, as the latter games
were organized by the Peisistratid tyrants in the sixth century BC: the
Panathenaia featured rhapsodic
competitions. The Pythian
festival did not
. Even after their reorganization in 582 BC,
the Pythian musical contests featured only citharody (the originating
event), playing the kithara
singing, playing the aulos,
to the accompaniment of the aulos
is to say there was no rhapsodic recitation. Gregory Nagy has shown in a
magisterial series of works how the Panathenaic complex and its ideology
shaped the rhapsodic treatment of Homer.
As he points out in his book,
Plato’s Rhapsody and Homer’s Music
, even in the
fourth century rhapsodic competition, in terms of prize money, took second
place in comparison to citharody, for which one could win, at least in 380
BC, 1000 drachmas.
What the prize scale was in the sixth century is hard to tell. At any rate,
at some point the Homeric hymns, too, must have been in the orbit of the
rhapsodic competitions, probably at Athens, and most likely at other cities
as well. At the same time, singers would be competing, perhaps with similar
material, in singing to the kithara
testimonia about the citharode Terpander indicate that he sang his own
material, but also set Homeric verse to music.
From the point of view of the
evolution of poetic forms this is interesting; from the point of view of a
rhapsode, it is downright dangerous
. Walter Burkert suggested
some years ago that the rhapsodic format was itself in a sort of competition
with emerging poetry of the type we see in the choral poet Stesichorus.
For choral lyric,
I would now substitute as the nemesis of the rhapsodes, at least in mythic
terms and the manipulation of myth, the art of citharody. The Hymn to Hermes
asserts that Apollo is no
. If this strategic move means the god is safely
marginalized as a lyre-player, Apollo remains a musician, but the citharodes
lose a patron—to the conspicuous public benefit of their rivals or
descendants, the rhapsodes, reciters in public of hexameter verses without
music. Since there is no standard contest in singing of lyric
verse, elevating Hermes and his instrument does not pose a risk to the
rhapsodes. They have simply, through compositions like the Hymn to Hermes
, mythologized away the threat.
What is the more general point which we might take away for this study of the
interrelations of craft and the rhetoric about it, as well as the craft of
talk, the logos
? It is the pressure of Greek agonism,
of contests, of judgment ( krisis
a ritual situation—the Pythian Games on the one hand, and the Panathenaia on
the other—that have encouraged the growth of an entire body of myth, lore,
and explanation to undergird a set of rules and regulations. Out of
crisis come criteria
. The aesthetics we innocently associate with
both lyre- and kithara-
naively, perhaps, fail to disambiguate when looking at representations of
Apollo, are an expression of contestation, social and artistic clashes
reaching back at least to the sixth century BC. But, by the same token,
aesthetic values in the classical tradition, I would
assert, emerge from specific settings of parameters in taste, bound up with
the realities of social practice, religious affiliations, class, and ethnic
ties. Let us not be lured back into neoclassical assumptions that Greek
aesthetics was the pure product of unfettered disinterested thought. In the
same spirit, I would suggest that we should recognize and make use of such
parallels or potential continuities as the modern Greek poetic and musical
scene can offer, especially but not only in more traditional areas, in order
to discover, in precise ethnographic terms, how the pressure of competition
shapes authors and authority, contexts and content.
The fate of Apollo’s craft, then, is like the result of Poseidon’s crash
test, writ large. Compared to the meager fragments of citharodic verse that
we still possess, the rhapsodic epics attributed to Homer are massive
monuments. They are the vehicles that got through the grove. Yet Apollo’s
, like the losers’ chariots,
survives and is celebrated even when silent, suspended in dedication.
Barker, A. 1984.
Greek Musical Writings. Vol. 1, The Musician and His Art. Cambridge.
Bergren, A. L. T. 1975. The Etymology and Usage of PEIRAR in Early Greek Poetry.
Bowie, E. and L. Pernot.
1993. “Greek Table-Talk before Plato.” Rhetorica 11:355–373.
Brulé, P., and C. Vendries, eds.
Chanter les dieux: musique et religion dans l’Antiquité grecque et
romaine, Actes du colloque des 16, 17 et 18 décembre 1999.
Bundrick, S. 2005.
Music and Image in Classical Athens.
Burkert, W. 1985.
Greek Religion. Trans. J. Raffan. Cambridge, Mass.
———. 1987. “The Making of Homer in the
Sixth Century B.C.: Rhapsodes versus Stesichorus.” In True et al.
Buxton, R., ed. 1999.
From Myth to Reason? Studies in the Development of
Greek Thought. Oxford.
Càssola, F. 1975.
Inni omerici. Milan.
Clay, D. 2004. Archilochus Heros. Cambridge, Mass.
Clay, J. S. 1989.
The Politics of Olympus: Form and Meaning in the Major
Homeric Hymns. Princeton.
Comotti, G. 1989.
Music in Greek and Roman Culture. Trans. R. Munson. Baltimore.
Detienne, M., and J.-P. Vernant. 1978.
Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and
Society. Trans. J. Lloyd.
Duhoux, Y., and A. Morpurgo Davies, eds.
Companion to Linear B. Louvain-la-neuve.
Durante, M. 1976.
Sulla Preistoria della Tradizione Poetica Greca
Eck, D. D.
1981. Seeing the Divine Image in
India. New York.
Flashar, M. 1992.
Apollo Kitharodos: statuarische Typen des musischen
González de Tobia, A. M., ed.
nueva visión de la cultura griega antigua hacia el fin del
milenio. La Plata.
———. 2010. Mito y performance. La
Gostoli, A. 1990.
Graf, F. 1974.
Eleusis und die orphische Dichtung Athens in
vorhellenistischer Zeit. Berlin.
Haft, A. 1996. “‘The Mercurial
Significance of Raiding’: Baby Hermes and Animal Theft in Contemporary
Crete.” Arion (3rd Series) 4:27–48.
Herzfeld, M. 1985.
The Poetics of Manhood: Contest and Identity in a
Cretan Mountain Village. Princeton.
Hunter, R., and I. Rutherford, eds.
Wandering Poets of Ancient Greece. Cambridge.
Killen, J. T. 2008. “Mycenaean Economy.”
In Duhoux and Morpurgo Davies 2008:159–200.
Kurke, L., and C. Dougherty, eds.
Cultures within Greek Culture. Cambridge.
Lardinois, A., and L. McClure, eds.
2001. Making Silence Speak: Women’s
Voices in Greek Literature and Society. Princeton.
Lupack, S. M. 2008.
The Role of the Religious Sector in the Economy of Late
Bronze Age Mycenaean Greece. Oxford.
Maas, M., and J. Snyder. 1989.
Stringed Instruments of Ancient Greece. New
Martin, R. P. 1989.
The Language of Heroes: Speech and Performance in the
Iliad. Ithaca, N.Y.
———. 2000a. “Wrapping Homer Up:
Cohesion, Discourse, and Deviation in the Iliad.” In Sharrock and Morales 2000:43–66.
———. 2000b. “Synchronic Aspects of
Homeric Performance: The Evidence of The Hymn to
Apollo.” In González de Tobia
———. 2001. “Rhapsodizing Orpheus.”
———. 2003. “The Pipes are Brawling:
Conceptualizing Musical Performance in Classical Athens.” In
Kurke and C. Dougherty 2003:153–180.
———. 2009. “Read on Arrival.” In Hunter
and Rutherford 2009:80–104.
———. 2010. “Apolo ejecutante.” In
González de Tobia 2010.
Maurizio, L. 2001. “The Voice at the
Centre of the World: The Pythia’s Ambiguity and Authority.” In Lardinois
and McClure 2001:38–54.
Melia, D. F. 1979. “Some Remarks on the
Affinities of Medieval Irish Saga.” Acta Antiqua
Montbrun, P. 2001. “Apollon: de l’arc à
la lyre.” In Brulé and Vendries 2001:59–96.
Nagy, G. 1990.
Pindar’s Homer. Baltimore.
Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond.
Plato’s Rhapsody and Homer’s Music: The Poetics of the
Panathenaic Festival in Classical Athens. Hellenic Studies 1. Washington.
———. 2010. Homer the
Classic. Hellenic Studies 36.
Neils, J., ed.
Goddess and Polis: The Panatheniac Festival in Ancient
Peponi, A.-E. 2009. “Choreia and
Aesthetics in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo: The
Performance of the Delian Maidens (lines 156-64).” Classical Antiquity 28:39–70.
2008. Retour à la source. Pausanias et la
religion grecque. Kernos Suppléments 20. Liège.
Power, T. 2010.
The Culture of Kitharôidia. Hellenic Studies
Reynolds, D. 1995.
Heroic Poets, Poetic Heroes: The Ethnography of
Performance in an Arabic Oral Epic Tradition. Ithaca,
Salis, T. 1996.
Lexiko Mykênaikon Tekhnikôn Orôn.
Schachter, A. 1986.
Cults of Boiotia. Vol. 2, Herakles to Poseidon. Bulletin of the
Institute of Classical Studies Supplement 38.2.
Shapiro, H. A. 1992. “Mousikoi Agones: Music and Poetry at the
Panathenaia.” In Neils 1992:53–75.
Sharrock, A., and H. Morales, eds.
Intratextuality: Greek and Roman Textual Relations. New
Shelmerdine, C. 2008. “Mycenaean
Society.” In Duhoux and Morpurgo Davies 2008:115–158.
Teffeteller, A. 2001. “The Chariot Rite
at Onchestos: Homeric Hymn to Apollo
229–38.” Journal of Hellenic Studies
True, M., et al., eds.
on the Amasis Painter and His World. Malibu, Calif.
Walcot, P. 1979. “Cattle Raiding, Heroic
Tradition, and Ritual: The Greek Evidence.” History of
Winternitz, M. 1981.
A History of Indian Literature. Vol. 1.
Fundamental for the discussion of agôn is Nagy 1990:385–387, also 118–122; for krisis 61–63; in relation to agôn 402–403.
For debates concerning the developing notions of logos , see the essays in Buxton 1999.
On Mycenaean palace economies and religious functions, see Lupack 2008.
On the redistribution of luxury and other goods, see Killen 2008.
Note that peirata tekhnês can also be
honorific: the “ultimate limits” of craft—as if the tools
embody his tekhnê .
On the complex semantics of peirar
see Bergren 1975.
For agalma as cult statue see Nagy
On the goddess under her Athenian cult title see Pausanias 1.24.3.
For a full description of this event and perspectives thereon, see Neils
On “cunning intelligence,” see Detienne and Vernant 1978.
The metaphors are both of Indo-European date: see Durante 1976 and Nagy
It is worth noting that another compound noun— tekhnologia —containing the same lexical elements, in
reverse order, points to the importance of verbal expression in relation
to material skill: successful “technology” requires giving a reasoned
account of craft; the ability to persuade (through diagram, theory, and
proof) is central even to fields that seem at the furthest remove from
verbal art; or, to speak gnomically: tekhnologia needs logotekhnia .
Schachter (1986:207-220) provides details of archaeological and
inscriptional finds at the site, indicating a Bronze Age occupation and
later cult activity dating to at least the sixth century BC. The age of
the cult is uncertain; it may continue practices of the second
millennium. Teffeteller points to similar Near Eastern chariot rites of
The latest assessment, with a good summary of previous scholarly
attempts, is Teffeteller 2001. Opinions range from seeing it as
soliciting an augury to considering it a test for horses and
See Nestor’s “hymn” to mêtis in
Iliad 23.313–318, which associates
woodcutters, helmsmen, and charioteers as those who use this
On this scene and its congeners in epic, see Nagy 2009:1, §148.
For the debate over the number of horses involved, see Teffeteller 2001.
I assume that the colt can be metonymic for the paired horses
Pindar Isthmian Ode 1.32–33, 52–54 and Isthmian Ode 4.19–23 imply that real horse-races
were conducted at the shrine of Poseidon in Onchestos.
Teffeteller 2001 notes in addition Hittite and Babylonian analogues, one
of which is quite specific in reference to an empty chariot
in a god’s precinct.
On the relative status of the two, see Shelmerdine 2008:127–129 and 135.
It is of interest that the lower-ranked qa-si-re-u , as she notes, is several times associated
with work-groups of craftsmen, such as bronze-workers at Pylos. Could
the later basileus have evolved from
the “master” of a guild? Further bibliography at Salis 1996:115–116.
A more radical possibility here, that at least deserves consideration,
is that we should interpret (w)anakti
to mean the human charioteer, whose anaktoriê has been mentioned a few lines
before. From the perspective of lat er worshippers at Onchestos, he would
be prayed to in his role as heroic warrior or celebrated king of the
past, who had once subjected himself and his vehicle to Poseidon’s rite.
To say that “they pray” at the moment of dedication to a human would
then blend the perspective of the heroic age with that of the later
worshippers in hero-cult. For a similar pairing of god and human hero in
worship, see Iliad 11.761 (the conclusion of
Nestor’s initiatory raid): πάντες δ’ εὐχετόωντο
θεῶν Διὶ Νέστορί τ’ ἀνδρῶν ‘They all prayed to Zeus, among
gods, and Nestor among men’. Note that Nestor at the time is very much
alive, having just completed a successful and spectacular feat in a
chariot (jumping onto a vehicle and then taking fifty chariots of the
enemy: Iliad 11.743–750). On Nestor’s tale see
Martin 2000a. In regard to initiatory chariot events, we should also
keep in mind the elaborate race in Iliad 23, at
Patroclus’ funeral games, in which Antilokhos the son of Nestor is a
featured driver. Klymenos, a mythical hero, is said to have died in a
race at the grove (Pausanias 9.37.1); his heroic exemplum could be part
of an unattested aition of the
The story is told in an explicit hero-cult context in the epincian ode
Olympian 1 of Pindar, for Hieron’s chariot
victory of 476 BC.
This construction skill may itself be a part of the expected heroic
repertoire: see the Iliad in its several
mentions of heroes (like Lykaon: 21.35–38) who are captured while
cutting wood for their vehicles. In Irish saga as well, the hero Cú
Chulainn is thus represented, as are some of his enemies. We should also
remember that Epeios, maker of the Wooden Horse, is an Iliadic hero, not
just a carpenter.
On Pausanias’ religious narratives see Pirenne-Delforge 2008.
Worth closer attention in this connection is the dedication by Arkesilas
of his winning chariot at Delphi (in a cypress-grove), as
commemorated by Pindar, Pythian Ode 5.34–42,
who stresses how the victor did not break the “daidalic”
work of the craftsmen who made his vehicle. I intend to take up this
point in a separate article.
See Martin 2000b.
Power 2010. The germ of this second portion of my paper originated in a
talk at Delphi in the conference on Apolline Politics and Poetics in
2003. This was later expanded and modified in a talk at the
International Symposium on Myth and Poetics in La Plata, Argentina in
June 2009. My continued reflections on the problem, with significant
changes from earlier versions, are reflected here.
On the instrument, see Comotti 1989:63 and Maas and Snyder 1989:53–78.
On the endurance involved see Power 2010:52, 107, 121.
On the Hilali performance tradition see Reynolds 1995.
See most recently on the interpretation of these lines Peponi (2009),
with further bibliography.
On the Lives see Martin 2009 and Nagy 2008.
Opinions given in Càssola 1975:498.
For my alternative view, see Martin 2000b.
Clay 1989:53–56. Cf. Power 2010:442–443.
On the meaning of the “imitation” see now Peponi 2009.
The late-antique lexicon of Hesychius yields some surprising and
remarkably detailed information about what appear to be actual
performance habits from an earlier period. The lexicon tells us that the
phrase “But, lord …” ( all’anax ) was
known to be a conventional closing phrase, or exodion , within the performances of actual citharodes . By contrast, the phrase “but
now the gods” functioned as an exodion or signoff phrase for rhapsodes . I submit that we see exactly this closing
strategy but in a split-up and expanded version at lines 177–179 of the
Hymn to Apoll o. Here the poet says autar
egō —(compare alla of the exodion )
and then says “O ana ” (compare
anax of the exodion ). See Hesychius A 3113 (Latte),
and cf. Gostoli 1990:54, 146–148. On the usage cf. Power 2010.
See further Power 2010:28–29.
An analogy might be made with the powerful force of
darśan —pious religious viewing of the sites and
images of gods—in Hinduism, on which see Eck 1981.
Eumolpidae: Graf 1974:59–65, 93–100. Vedic India: Winternitz
“Plutarch” On Music 1131a-1132e ; Gostoli
Power 2010:215–223 has an extended discussion of the multiple meanings
of nomos .
On statues of Apollo Citharode see Flashar 1992. On vase depictions, see
now Power 2010:249, 286–287, 425–430. A slightly fuller version of the
visual evidence is in Martin 2010, from which I have borrowed some
material for this portion of the current essay.
See Walcot 1979 and Melia 1979.
Haft (1996) makes use of Herzfeld 1985 to illuminate the Hymn to Hermes .
On the tale, see Clay 2004.
Pace Càssola 1975:536 and others.
Perhaps youths singing casual table-songs or skolia , if that is what endexia refers to—the habit of making songs go round the
table in a certain direction, to the right. Cf. Càssola 1975:537 and
Bowie and Pernot 1993:360–361.
On the key importance of the Panathenaic context for Homeric recitation,
see Nagy 2002 and Nagy 2010.
Gostoli 1990:18–22. See Power 2010 passim for the most complete analysis