Littera Antiqua w w w . l i t a n t . e u

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Littera Antiqua w w w . l i t a n t . e u
Littera Antiqua
nr 9 (2014)
Fot. Katarzyna Kołakowska
Widok z Akropolu, Ateny
ISSN 2082-9264
www.litant.eu
Littera Antiqua
Instytut Filologii Klasycznej
Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II
Al. Racławickie 14
20-950 Lublin
tel. 81/445-43-59
Redaktor naczelny
dr Katarzyna Kołakowska
tel. 604-586-792
e-mail: [email protected]
Sekretarz redakcji
dr Lesław Łesyk
tel. 510-643-272
e-mail: [email protected]
Zastępca redaktora naczelnego
dr Iwona Wieżel
tel. 697-282-221
e-mail: [email protected]
Redaktor językowy
dr Lech Giemza
e-mail: [email protected]
Sylwia Wilczewska
e-mail: [email protected]
Redaktor tematyczny
dr hab. Ewa Osek
e-mail: [email protected]
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Littera Antiqua
Littera Antiqua
SPIS TREŚCI
Littera Antiqua
Borys L. Fonkich – Rosyjska Akademia Nauk, Moskwa
www.litant.eu
ARTYKUŁY
Kodeks Maniego (Codex Manichaicus Coloniensis) ………………………………………………..4-9
Agnieszka Heszen – Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Kraków
Metafizyka i metaforyka poezji Kasji (IX w.) ……………………………………………………..10-31
Christina-Panagiota Manolea – Hellenic Open University, Patras
Orpheus, Theophilos Kairis and “The Great Moon Hoax” ..............................................................32-41
Maciej Roszkowski
The significance of the semantic range of the term ἀρχή in the thought of sixth century Greek
philosophers analysed on the basis of the meanings of certain words containing the ἀρχ- root in early
Greek poetry ……………………………………………………………………………………….42-81
Piotr Świercz – Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow
Some Remarks on Paradigms in the Recent Studies in Orphism ………………………………….82-96
Ryszard Tokarczuk – Jagiellonian University, Krakow
Reception of Ancient Sicilian Greek experiences. in political theory of Plato, Xenophon and Isocrates
- a survey …………………………………………………………………………………………97-118
Andrzej Wypustek – University of Wroclaw
Orphic Elements in Greek Funerary Verse-inscriptions ………………………………………..119-141
Robert K. Zawadzki – Polska Akademia im. Jana Długosza w Częstochowie
Pobożność renesansowa czyli precationes quotidianae (na podstawie Catechismi Capita Decem
Ambrożego Moibana oraz elegii Ioannesa Stigeliusa i Joachima Camerariusa) ……………….142-161
RECENZJA
ks. Dariusz Piasecki, Centony Homeryckie. Spotkanie tradycji pogańskiej z chrześcijańską, Scriptum,
Kraków 2014. ss. 150 (Marek Gilski) ..........................................................................................162-164
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
BORYS L. FONKICH
(Rosyjska Akademia Nauk, Moskwa)
www.litant.eu
Littera Antiqua
Kodeks Maniego (Codex Manichaicus Coloniensis)*
Na Uniwersytecie w Kolonii w zbiorze dużej i szeroko znanej wśród specjalistów
papirologicznej kolekcji znajduje się jeden manuskrypt napisany nie na papirusie, a na
pergaminie.1 Jest to kodeks wyjątkowo małych rozmiarów (45 x 38). Jego tekst został
napisany majuskułą, przy czym na desce 35 x 20 mm rozkładają się, jako reguła, 23 linijki, z
których każda liczy od 15 do 20 liter. Badacza, który ma możliwość bezpośredniego
zapoznania się z tym rękopisem nie może nie zdziwić trud wykonujących go dwóch
kopistów, umiejących przygotować obszerną objętościowo książkę zawierającą w sobie
ważne treści, a przy tym mającą rzeczywiście mikroskopijne rozmiary zarówno
pergaminowych arkuszy (kodeks ledwo mieści się na dłoni), jak i uncjalnego pisma, prawie
niemożliwego do przeczytania gołym okiem.
Jeśli kodykologiczne osobliwości kolońskiego rękopisu pozwolą odnieść go do
niewielkiej grupy rzadszych miniaturowych bizantyjskich manuskryptów, do której
wchodzą kodeksy znane nam w większości jedynie dzięki ich zachowanym fragmentom, to
jego zawartość zmusza do zaliczenia rękopisu do absolutnego unicum: koloński kodeks
zachował w tłumaczeniu z języka aramejskiego na grecki ważne teksty dla poznania
manicheizmu – utworów twórcy tej nauki, a także „Biografię Maniego”.
Dokładne okoliczności odnalezienia tego manuskryptu nie są znane; tak, czy inaczej
znalazł się wśród egipskich papirusów i pierwszy raz stał się obiektem badań w ostatniej
tercji XX w. W 1970 r. pojawiła się publikacja tekstu Kolońskiego „Kodeksu Maniego”,2 a w
1985 r. opublikowano jego dyplomatyczne wydanie3 i ostatecznie w 1988 r. ujrzało światło
krytyczne wydanie z towarzyszącym niemieckim tłumaczeniem.4
* Pierwodruk: Fonkich B.L., Vestnik istorii, literatury, isskustva, t. 1, Moskva 2005, 69-74. Tłumaczenie
za: idem, Kodeks Mani, in Issledovanija po grecheskoi paleografii i kodikologii IV – XIX vv., Moskva:
Rukopisnyie pamiatniki Drevniej Rusi 2014, 107-12. [Tłumaczenie: Lesław Łesyk]
1 Ten pergaminowy kodeks, znajdując się wśród papirusów, otrzymał i „papirusowy” szyfr: P. Colon.
Inv. Nr. 4780. Bez wątpienia właśnie ta okoliczność spowodowała, że „Kodeks Mani” nie zwrócił na
siebie uwagi specjalistów od greckich manuskryptów i nie znalazł się w najbardziej pełnym
informatorze rejestrującym greckie rękopisy wszystkich znanych zbiorów, cf. Olivier J.-M., Répertoire
des bibliothèques et des catalogues de manuscrits grecs, 3 ed., Turnhout: Brepols 1995 (Köln – p. 433).
2 Henrichs A., Koenen L. (1970): "Ein griechischer Mani-Codex (P. Colon. inv. nr. 4780)," Zeitschrift für
Papyrologie und Epigraphik 5, 97–124, Taf. IV-VI.
3 Koenen L., Römer C. eds. (1985): Der Kölner Mani-Kodex. Abbildungen und diplomatischer Text, Bonn: R.
Habelt.
4 Koenen L., Römer C., eds. (1988): Der Kölner Mani-Kodex. Über das Werden seines Leibes. Kritische
Edition. Abhandlung der Reinisch-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Papyrologica
Coloniensia 14, Opladen: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden.
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
W trakcie analizy dowolnego rękopisu pierwsze i najważniejsze pytanie stanowi jego
datacja. Od prawidłowej datacji zależy bowiem lokalizacja, ustalenie miejsca powstania
rękopisu i tym samym określenie okoliczności kulturowego środowiska, w którym
stworzyło ono dany manuskrypt, a więc określenie roli naszej książki w historii badanego
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tekstu. W sytuacji rękopisów o unikalnym charakterze dokładność datacji niezmiernie
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wzrasta, albowiem studia nad tymi manuskryptami nie mogą wpływać na naszą ocenę
historii tekstu interesującego nas zabytku, również na bardziej ogólną wiedzę o tym czy
innym okresie historycznym. Wobec powyższego chciałoby się zrobić następującą uwagę,
która ma związek na pewno z filologią klasyczną i bizantyno-wprowadzeniem.
Nie ma takiego badacza dawnych tekstów, który nie rozumiałby konieczności
właściwej datacji studiowanego przez nich nośnika tych tekstów, tzn. przede wszystkim
rękopisów, które mogą być napisane na papirusie, pergaminie czy papierze. Wydawałoby
się, że uświadomienie tego faktu powinno w konsekwencji prowadzić do poznania tak
istotnej specjalistycznej dyscypliny, jaką jawi się paleografia, która umożliwia nie tylko
czytać dawne teksty, ale i datować oraz lokalizować zachowane do współczesnych czasów
rękopisy. Tymczasem w przytłaczającej większości przypadków znajomość paleografii przez
filologów i historyków ogranicza się osiągnięcia umiejętności czytania oraz transkrypcji
badanych tekstów. Co zaś tyczy się najbardziej ważnej, wpływającej na wyciągane wnioski
badanej części pracy, a mianowicie ustalenie czasu i miejsca napisania rękopisu, to tu liczni
naukowcy zdają sobie sprawę, że choć bez datacji analizowanego materiału nie są możliwe
żadne twierdzenia, tym niemniej zadowalają się w pełni powierzchownym wyznaczeniem
chronologii zabytków piśmiennictwa. To świadczy o ich niekompetencji w zakresie
paleograficznej analizy materiału. Efekt nie zmusza do długiego czekania: w miejsce tego,
ażeby z pomocą właściwie określonej datacji - i jeśli to jest możliwe – lokalizacji
opracowywanego rękopisu oraz usytuowania go na potrzebnym, „właściwym” miejscu w
rzędzie zdarzeń historii kultury (piśmiennictwa, literatury, historii sztuki, itd.), badacz
ogranicza się do technicznych wyników swojej pracy. Są one korzystne, co oczywiste, i
niezbędne, ale nic nie mówią o danej epoce i określonej sytuacji, w której był stworzony i żył
analizowany tekst, wpływając na współczesną mu kulturę i wyznaczając późniejszą drogę
przekazywanego przez manuskrypt utworu. Takie podejście do rękopisów nierzadko
powoduje wrażenie, że niby filologom czy historykom nie są konieczne same rękopisy, ich
zadowoliłby dowolny inny nośnik tekstu, byleby zawierał wersje informacyjne lub
relacjonował o różnych albo odmiennych faktach.
Wprowadzenie „Kodeksu Maniego” w naukowy obieg i początkowy etap
analizowania zabytku, naszym zdaniem, przedstawia jasną ilustrację „profesjonalnego”
podejścia do tego unikalnego manuskryptu, kiedy datacja rękopisu jawi się jedynie
koniecznym technicznym ujęciem, rezultatem nieosiąganym kosztem pogłębionego
paleograficznego studium, a za pomocą przeważnie logicznych zestawień. W rezultacie
nasze przedstawienie historii wojny religijnej w Bizancjum w IV – IX w. okazuje się być
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
zubożałe, proste, o czym – mamy nadzieję – będzie można się przekonać w trakcie dalszej
lektury artykułu.
W jaki zatem sposób została wyznaczona datacja „Kodeksu Maniego” przez jego
wydawców i pierwszych badaczy? Biorąc pod uwagę tę okoliczność, że rękopis zawierający
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dzieła Maniego już w przekładzie na język grecki został ujawniony w Dolnym Egipcie i tekst
Littera Antiqua
zawierał akcentuację typu aleksandryjskiego, który zakończył swój rozwój, zdaniem
specjalistów, w VI stuleciu, uczeni doszli do wniosku, że między czasem powstania korpusu
dzieł manichejskich (połowa III w.), przemieszczeniem tego zbioru do doliny Nilu i
momentem jego przekładu gdzieś w greckim środowisku mogło minąć około 150 lat. To
przypuszczenie powinna potwierdzić paleografia odgrywająca w tym przypadku rolę
autentycznej „pomocniczej” dyscypliny, pomagającej wysnuć jeszcze bardziej wiarygodne
wnioski otrzymane innymi sposobami. I paleografia „nie zawiodła”: znalazł się fragment
zawierający ewangeliczny tekst, tzw. Codex Washingtonianus (Smithsonian Institution,
Freer Gallery of Art, cod. 06.274), napisany podobnym charakterem pisma do pisma
„Kodeksu Maniego”. Dzięki autorytetowi G. Cavallo datowany jest na czas do połowy V w.,
a zatem przełom IV-V wieku.5 Tak za pomocą wszechstronnego studium określono datację
„Kodeksu Maniego” na koniec IV – początek V (albo początek V) wieku.
Tymczasem osobliwości pisma rękopisu pozwalają zmienić tę przyjętą w nauce opinię
o czasie pojawienia się „Kodeksu Maniego”. Charakterystyczna pochyła uncjała rękopisu
świadczy o tym, że manuskrypt przynależy do dobrze znanej i szeroko udokumentowanej
przez zachowane zabytki, w tym i datowanej grupy rękopisów, których tekst został
napisany tak zwanym palestyńskim duktem bizantyjskiej uncjały, typem książkowego pisma
rozpowszechnionego prawdopodobnie już w drugiej połowie VIII w., a na pewno w
pierwszej połowie IX w. na wschodnim wybrzeżu Morza Śródziemnego – w Palestynie, Syrii
i może na Synaju. Przytoczmy nieco przykładów:
1. Ewangeliczne czytania – rękopis 861/2 r.6
2. Psałterz 878 r. ze zbioru Porfiriusza Uspienskiego („Porfirievskaja Psaltyr”, RNB.
Grech. 216 [Rosyjska Biblioteka Narodowa]).7
Cavallo G. 1967: Ricerche sulla maiuscola biblica. Studi e testi di papirologia 2, Firenze: Le Monnier, 119
(połowa V w.); Metzger B.M. 1981: Manuscripts of the Greek Bible. An Introduction to Greek Palaeography,
New York: Oxford University Press, 82 (IV-V w.); Cavallo G., Maehler H. 1987: Greek Bookhands of the
Early Byzantine Period: A.D. 300 – 800, London: University of London, 38, № 15a (IV-V w.); Turner E.G.
1987: Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World, London: University of London, 129 (IV albo IV-V w.).
6 Harlfinger D., Reinsch D., Sonderkamp J.A.M., Prato G. 1983: Specimina Sinaitica. Die datierten
griechischen Handschriften des Katherinen-Klosters auf dem Berge Sinai, 9. bis 12. Jahrhundert, Berlin: D.
Reimer, 13-4 (№ 1), Taf. 1-4.
7 Sobolevskij A.I., Cereteli G.F. 1913: Exempla codicum graecorum litteris uncialibus scriptorum, Sankt
Peterburg, V-VI, tab. II-III; Granstrem Je.E. 1959: „Katalog grecheskikh rukopisei leningradskikh
khranilishch,“ Vizantiiskii Vremenik XVI, № 72, 234-5, [zob. teraz: Morozov D.A. 2007:
„Aleksandriiskaja era w Ierusalime IX v.“, in K datirovke Porfirievskoi Psaltiri. Monfokon. Issledovaniia
po paleografii, kodikologii i diplomatike, t. 1, Moskva – Sankt Peterburg: Alians-Arkheo, 89-93.]
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3. Grecko-syryjsko-arabski Psałterz ze zbiorów A.S. Norova (RGB. F. 201, № 18.1
[Rosyjska Biblioteka Państwowa]).8 Kopista greckiej części najprawdopodobniej jest
również kopistą „Psałterza Porfiriusza”.
4. Vat. Gr. 2200 („Doctrina patrum”) – rękopis odnoszący się według badaczy do VIII-
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uncjalnymi nagłówkami.
5. Paris. Suppl. Gr. 693 (Izaak Syryjczyk).10
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IX w.9 Dla nas w tym przypadku interesujące są te części tekstu, które jawią się
6. Liczne fragmenty rękopisów IX w. odnalezione w 1975 r. w Monasterze św.
Katarzyny na Synaju.11
Paleograficznie „Kodeks Maniego” należy bez wątpienia do tego kręgu rękopisów,
który może być znacząco poszerzony.12 Jeśli większość tych manuskryptów odnosi się do
połowy – drugiej połowy IX w., to czas pojawienia się na świecie „Kodeksu Maniego” można
przypuszczalnie datować na drugą połowę VIII – początek IX w., bowiem w Kolońskim
rękopisie
mamy do czynienia
z
jeszcze nieskomplikowanym systemem znaków
diakrytycznych, które dopiero się kształtowały. Inne natomiast rękopisy tej grupy są
datowane przez samych kopistów na lata 60-te IX w., jak również zawierają w pełni
ukształtowany system znaków diakrytycznych.
We wcześniejszym okresie dodanie w bizantyjskim księgopisarstwie końca VIII-IX w.
systemu znaków diakrytycznych stało ściągać na siebie uwagę badaczy.13 Od tego, na ile
szczegółowo i w jaki sposób będzie badany ten problem w znacznej mierze zależy datacja
rękopisów wskazanego okresu. Obecnie posiadamy już dostatecznie jasny obraz formowania
się systemu diakrytyki w minuskułowych rękopisach, które powstały w ciągu IX stulecia w
Pigulevskaia N.V. 1954: „Greko-siro-arabskaia rukopis` IX v.”, Palestinskii sbornik 1(63), 59-90.
Perria K. 1983-4: “Il Vat. gr. 2200. Note codicologiche e paleografiche,” Rivista di Studi Bizantini e
Neoellenici 20-1, pp. 25-68, tab. I-VI.
10 Omont H. 1892: Facsimilés des plus anciens manuscrits grecs en onciale et en minuscule de la Bibliothèque
Nationale du IVe au XIIe siècle, Paris, pl. XIII, in Devreesse R. 1954: Introduction à l’étude des manuscrits
grecs, Paris, pl. III.
11 Politis L. 1980: „Nouveaux manuscrits grecs decouverts au Mont Sinai,” Scriptorium 34, pl. 8b; Τα
νέα ευρήματα του Σινά, Αθήναι 1998. Σ. 121, 127, 143, 148, 151, 159; Φωτ, 1, 6, 8, 9, 11, 14, 49-57, 5972, 74-8, 80, 83, 87, 92-7, 100-2, 108-9, 112, 116, 118.
12 W sposób szczególny do tego kręgu powinien zostać włączony także Codex Washingtonianus,
którego błędna datacja określona przez G. Cavallo jest bezsporna: rękopis pochodzi prawdopodobnie
z tego samego okresu co „Kodeks Maniego” i pojawił się w jednym z piśmienniczych centrów
palestyńsko-synajskiego obszaru kulturowego.
13 Zob. dla przykładu: Agati M.L. 2000: „Il problema della progressiva divisione delle parole tra IX e X
secolo,” in I manoscritti greci tra riflessione e dibattito. Atti del V Coloquio Internazionale di Paleografia Greca
(Cremona, 4-10 ottobre 1998), vol. 1. Papyrologica Florentina 31, Firenze: Gonnelli, 191-6; Fonkich B.L.
2005: “Venecianskaia rukopis` «Almagesta» Ptolemeia (Marc. Gr. 313/690): o datirovke i
proiskhozhdenii kodeksa,” Vestnik Drevnej Istorii 3, 162-7.
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Monasterze Studion w Konstantynopolu.14 Wnikliwych badań w tej grupie greckich
rękopisów, w tym manuskryptów majuskułowych, nie ma do tej pory.
W związku z określeniem pisma „Kodeksu Maniego” jako palestyńskiego duktu
uncjały i poważnego przedatowania rękopisu nie można nie postawić pytania o jego
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lokalizację. Wydawcy i pierwsi badacze manuskryptu, opierając się na własnej datacji i
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osobistej interpretacji faktów związanych z miejscem jego odnalezienia i kodykologią (małe
rozmiary rękopisu) sądzili, że miejscem powstania „Kodeksu Maniego” był Dolny Egipt.
Wprowadzenie tego rękopisu zaś w szerszy krąg tekstów manuskryptów majuskułowych
VIII-IX w., pochodzenie których powiązano niewątpliwie przede wszystkim z terenem
Palestyny – Synaju, zmusza do usytuowania „Kodeksu Maniego” w rejonie wschodniego
Śródziemnomorza. Co oczywiste, ze względu na ostrożność nie powinniśmy wyłączyć
Dolnego Egiptu z kręgu naszych założeń jako regionu, który zawsze był ściśle związany z
Synajem i Palestyną. Jednakże znany nam uncjalny materiał VIII-IX w., którego pochodzenie
można łączyć z Dolnym Egiptem nie zawiera przykładów palestyńskiego duktu. Nie
zważając na bliskie kontakty egipskiej i palestyńsko-syryjskiej strefy kulturowej, ten typ
książkowego pisma najwyraźniej się w Egipcie nie rozpowszechnił.
Datacja „Kodeksu Maniego” na okres niemal czterech stuleci później, co przyjęto w
specjalistycznej literaturze oraz jego inna lokalizacja przenoszą studium nad danym
rękopisem całkowicie na inną płaszczyznę i pozwalają przypuszczać, że przypadkowo
ocalała nieznaczna i niewielka cząstka literatury epoki VIII-IX w., gdy w Bizancjum
rozprzestrzeniła się paulicjańska herezja – „inna fala” manicheizmu. Ta mała część
autentycznej heretyckiej publikacji książkowej dotarła do naszych czasów dzięki
przemyślanemu przez przedstawicieli tej nauki sposobowi, aby zachować swoje święte
teksty,
ukrywając
je
przed
jakimikolwiek
prześladowaniami
i
przeszukaniami:
mikroskopijne rozmiary kodeksu zawierającego takie teksty czyniły go praktycznie
niedostrzegalnym dla niewtajemniczonego człowieka, a napisane bez wątpienia za pomocą
szkła powiększającego wiersze nie mogły być odczytane gołym okiem i dawały wrażenie
zwykłych linii.15
Fonkich B.L. 1999: „U istokov studiiskogo minuskula (Moskovskii i Parizhskii fragmenty
sochinieniia Pavla Eginskogo,” in idem: Grecheskiie rukopisi evropejskikh sobranii. Paleograficheskiie i
kodikologicheskiie issledovaniia 1988-1998, Moskva, 30-1.
15 Po raz pierwszy nasze obserwacje odnośnie do datacji „Kodeksu Maniego” zostały opublikowane w
1990 r. (Fonkič B.L., Poljakov F., „Paläographische Grundlagen der Datierung des Kölner ManiKodex,“ Byzantinische Zeitschrift 83, 22-30), a następnie przedrukowane w 1999 r. (Fonkich B.L.:
Grecheskiie rukopisi evropeiskikh sobranii, 18-27, rys. 1-3). Wiosną 1995 dwukrotnie poczyniliśmy
komunikat na ten temat w Paryżu – w École Normale Supériure oraz na Sorbonie – na specjalnym
seminarium poświęconym „Kodeksowi Maniego”. Jakichkolwiek sprzeciwów wobec zaproponowanej
tutaj datacji Kolońskiego rękopisu dotychczas nie spotkaliśmy. Nie jest wykluczone, że ta nowa
propozycja przedstawi argumenty i wzbudzi tym samym pragnienie wśród specjalistów, aby na
nowo rozważyć możliwości paleograficznej oceny greckiej spuścizny rękopiśmiennej na przełomie
VIII-IX w. oraz ocenić rolę „manichejskiego dziedzictwa literackiego” w Bizancjum.
14
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
Borys L. Fonkich – prof., dr h.c. Uniwersytetu Arystotelesa w Salonikach (Αριστοτέλειο
Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης); paleograf, klasyk, historyk, papirolog; kierownik Centrum
Paleografii, Kodykologii, Dyplomatyki Instytutu Historii Powszechnej Rosyjskiej Akademii
www.litant.eu
Nauk, współzałożyciel i członek Comité International de Paléographie Grecque, autor ponad 350
Littera Antiqua
publikacji.
[W 2006 roku została opublikowana zbiorowa monografia The Freer Biblical Manuscripts. Fresh
Studies of an American Treasure Trove, ed. by L.W. Hurtado (Leiden-Boston: Brill 2006)”, w której jeden
z rozdziałów jest poświęcony paleograficznej i kodykologicznej analizie nowotestamentalnych
rękopisów z kolekcji Freer: Schmid U.: Reassessing the Palaeography and Codicology of the Freer
Gospel Manuscript (p. 227-49). Po raz pierwszy od ukazania się naszego artykułu o „Kodeksie
Maniego” w 1990 r. tutaj rozpatrywana i odrzucona została zaproponowana przez nas datacja
rękopisu z końca VIII – początku IX w. (p. 246-9). Paleograficzne rozumowanie tych badań tak
właściwie niczym nie różni się od swobodnych wywodów G. Cavallo i jego naśladowców. Ich
uwadze proponujemy przygotowywaną do druku pracę poświęconą datacji greckich manuskryptów
majuskułowych IV-X wieku].
9
„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
AGNIESZKA HESZEN
Littera Antiqua
Metafizyka i metaforyka poezji Kasji (IX w.)
www.litant.eu
(Jagiellonian University, Krakow)
Kasja, żyjąca w IX wieku w Konstantynopolu poetka, zakonnica i – niedoszła cesarzowa.
Dlaczego niedoszła cesarzowa? Niemal we wszystkich pracach poświęconych Kasji pojawia się
interesująca anegdota związana z tak zwaną „prezentacją narzeczonych”. Termin ten jest
przekładem z anglojęzycznej literatury naukowej „bride-show” (niem. „Brautschau”), a samo
zdarzenie na poły legendarne, mimo że opisane przez kilku historyków bizantyńskich – Jerzego
Mnicha (IX w.)1, Szymona Logotetę (X w.) w kronice zachowanej pod imieniem Leona Gramatyka
(X w.)2, a także przez Jana Zonarasa (XII)3 – odegrało znaczącą rolę w życiu Kasji4. Otóż na dworze
Eufrozyne, w 821 lub 830 roku5, miał się odbyć właśnie taki „pokaz” panien pochodzących z
arystokratycznych rodzin Konstantynopola, aby młody cesarz Teofil (829-842), mógł wybrać sobie
żonę6. Jak tradycja nakazywała, pannie, która mu się spodobała, miał wręczyć złote jabłko –
symbol władzy, ale też cała zabawa była oczywistym nawiązaniem do sądu Parysa7. Teofil
spośród kilkunastu dziewcząt wybrał właśnie Kasję i podając jej jabłko, zadał pytanie, „dlaczego
przez kobietę przyszło na świat wszelkie zło?”. Etykieta dworska wymagała, aby dziewczyna
skromnie spuściła głowę i milczała, ale Kasja udzieliła pytającemu bystrej odpowiedzi: „ale
Georgius Monachus, Chronicon breve, lib. 1-6, vol. 110: 1008.
Symeon Logothetes Chronicon (sub nomine Leonis Grammatici) 213, 8.
3 Joannes Zonaras, Epitome historiarum 13-18: 354.
4 Co do prawdy historycznej „bride-show” w odniesieniu do Kasji, opinie badaczy są podzielone. Treadgold
uważa, że nie ma powodu, aby nie przyjąć opowieści Szymona Logotety (1979: 403), polemicznie odnosi się
do tego Rydén (1985: 175-91) twierdząc, że tego rodzaju pokaz jest fikcją literacką. W artykule z 2004 roku
Treadgold dowodzi, że siedem niezależnych bizantyńskich źródeł podaje, iż w wiekach VIII-IX odbywały
się konkursy piękności, w których zwyciężczyni została cesarzową (2004: 39). Na temat biografii Kasji zob.
Lauxtermann 1998: 391–97.
5 Brooks przyjmuje lata 821/822 (1901: 540-5). Treadgold analizuje szczegółowo kronikę Szymona Logotety
oraz De ceremoniis Konstantyna VII (918-59) i datuje wydarzenie na rok 830 (1975: 325-41), Senina ponownie
rewiduje tę kwestię na podstawie źródeł numizmatycznych i powraca do roku 821 (2006: 249-59, 262).
6 Baśniowy charakter tej opowieści pozwolił L.-M. Hans nazwać cesarza „Märchenprinz”. Autorka
wspomina o Teofilu i zwycięstwie Teodory, pomija jednak przekaz na temat roli Kasji w „Brautschau” (Hans
1988: 46-47). Rochow opisuje tradycję owej legendy w późniejszej literaturze greckiej, także ludowej (1967:
73n.).
7 Na temat symboliki złotego jabłka w kulturze bizantyńskiej zob. Littlewood 1974: 33-59. O konkursach
piękności i nawiązaniach do mitycznego sądu bogiń w greckim średniowieczu pisze Marciniak 2002: 6-8.
1
2
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
również przez kobietę przyszło dobro”8. Replika nie spodobała się cesarzowi i jabłko
powędrowało do Teodory z Paflagonii (ok. 800-867)9, a Kasja – do klasztoru, gdzie spędziła resztę
swojego życia. Odpowiedź Kasji została uznana przez jednych badaczy za początek jej odważnej
www.litant.eu
drogi w walce z herezją ikonoklastyczną, w którą to walkę między innymi wpisuje się teologia
Littera Antiqua
wcielenia i podkreślenie roli kobiety – Maryi w zbawieniu. Przez innych badaczy z kolei, za
przełom w życiu poetki – zamiast dworskiego życia u boku cesarza, żywot mniszki ukrytej w
klasztorze. To jednak okazało się owocne dla kultury bizantyńskiej: Kasja-zakonnica, też
fundatorka monasteru w Konstantynopolu, a jak wynika z korespondencji z Teodorem Studytą
(758-826)10, rzeczywiście odegrała pewną rolę w sporze z ikonoburcami. Przede wszystkim jednak
poświęciła się twórczości literacko-muzycznej11.
Kasja-poetka jest autorką hymnów liturgicznych, nazywanych idiomela troparia bądź
stichera12 – osobiście wolę ten drugi termin, gdyż lepiej oddaje cechy gatunkowe, jakim jest krótki
hymn stychiczny, natomiast troparion jest bardzo pojemnym pojęciem, stosowanym jak wiadomo
do zwrotek kontakionów, kanonów czy wtrąceń między śpiewy psalmów. Troparia Kasji są
rodzajem hymnu o charakterze laudacyjnym, odnoszą się do konkretnego święta i – co podkreśla
J. Raasted, nie mają ustalonego wzorca metrycznego ani rytmicznego13. Zostały zebrane w menaion,
czyli kolekcję pieśni liturgicznych przeznaczonych na dany dzień roku Kościoła Wschodniego.
Poza tym zachowały się dwa kanony jej autorstwa: Na zmarłych14 i Tetraodion Wielkiej Soboty oraz
poezje nie-liturgiczne, epigramy, gnomy i sentencje15. Za A. M. Silvas używam tu określenia „nieliturgiczne”16, a nie świeckie, gdyż tematyka poruszana w tej grupie utworów dotykała spraw
Afinogenow zauważa, że rytmicznie ułożone zdania pochodzą z wcześniejszej homilii In Annuntiationem
beatae Virginis Jana Chryzostoma (350-407) i jakkolwiek sam dialog może być literacką fikcją, nie oznacza to,
iż „pokaz panien” nie miał miejsca (1997: 11-2). Senina dowodzi, analizując sticheron Kasji Na Zwiastowanie,
że skoro homilia Chryzostoma była powszechnie znana i wykorzystana później przez poetkę w hymnie, to i
dialog między Teofilem a dziewczyną jest bardzo prawdopodobny (2006: 263-71).
9 Żywot świętej Teodory cesarzowej również zawiera opis konkursu dziewcząt, ale rzecz jasna pomija postać
Kasji (Treadgold 2004: 42).
10 Trzy spośród listów Teodora Studyty adresowane są do Kasji: Epistulae 205, 413, 541 (PG 99, kol. 903-1669).
11 Istnieją pewne wątpliwości, czy Kasja również komponowała muzykę do swoich tekstów, ale biorąc pod
uwagę wcześniejszą tradycję kompozytorów i poetów – Romanosa Melodosa (ok. 490 - ok. 555) i Jana
Damasceńskiego (675-749), odpowiedź wydaje się pozytywna (Touliatos-Banker 1984: 66-7).
12 Sticheron jest rodzajem troparionu – Wellesz 2006: 269.
13 Raasted 1973: 173.
14 Kanon Na Zmarłych omawiają Tsironis 2003: 148-51 oraz Senina 2009: 317-22.
15 Analizą epigramów Kasji zajmowali się Marciniak 2005: 44-7 i Warcaba 2009: 137-49.
16 Silvas 2006: 22.
8
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
religijnych, moralnych, wiązała się niejednokrotnie z egzystencją zakonnicy czy mnicha, ale w
przeciwieństwie do sticheronów, nie były one wykonywane podczas liturgii.
Istnieje pewna dysproporcja w badaniach naukowych pomiędzy kwestiami historycznymi,
www.litant.eu
dotyczącymi wspomnianego „bride-show”, a analizą i interpretacją utworów Kasji. W ostatnich
Littera Antiqua
dekadach pojawiło się wprawdzie kilka ogólnych prac poświęconych jej życiu, działalności
poetycko-muzycznej i monastycznej17, ale spór o prawdziwość pokazu panien i autentyczność
wymiany zdań z Teofilem trwa nadal. Nie jest moim zadaniem rozsądzenie tej kwestii. Twórczość
hymniczna bizantyńskiej poetki stanowi zwieńczenie rozwoju troparionu18 i choćby z tego
względu zasługuje na uwagę filologa, jak również ze względu na swoje wyjątkowe piękno
językowe i głębię teologiczną. Wciąż mało jest studiów podejmujących syntezę historycznoliteracką i omawiających poetykę jej hymnów. Mam nadzieję, że poniższe rozważania
przynajmniej częściowo wypełnią tę lukę19.
Utwory Kasji w pełni wpisują się w duchowość bizantyjską, zwłaszcza jej wymiar życia
monastycznego.
Analizując
hymny
można
zauważyć,
że
właściwie
każdy
przykład
monastycyzmu, ascetyzmu czy też męczeństwa przedstawiony jest w jakimś troparionie,
poświęconym konkretnej osobie świętego czy świętej. Pewne postaci stają się w jej utworach
typami danej formy duchowości. I tak, na przykład anachoreza znajduje swój wyraz w
troparionach poświęconych Marii Egipskiej i Pelagii. Wzór tak zwanego świętego szaleńca zawiera
troparion o Szymonie Stylicie (ok. 386-459), zajmujący w menaionie pierwsze miejsce20. Jedną
grupę stanowią więc asceci, drugą święci świadkowie-męczennicy, na przykład Tekla, Barbara,
Eutymiusz, i wielcy teologowie, jak Bazyli (329-379) czy Grzegorz z Nyssy (335-395). Ulubiony
motyw Kasji to nawrócone nierządnice: wspomniane Maria Egipska i Pelagia, a także Eudokia z
Podstawową monografią poetki jest praca I. Rochow z 1967 r. Taki charakter ma również książka K.
Sherry’ego (2013) – autor skupia się przede wszystkim na filozofii życia monastycznego i zaangażowaniu
Kasji w obronę kultu ikon. Aspekty muzykologiczne omawia dysertacja doktorska G. Zugravu (2013,
Columbia University). Z dawniejszych opracowań należy oczywiście wspomnieć dzieło wybitnego
bizantynisty, K. Krumbachera z 1897 r.
18 Pierwsze troparia zachowały się pod imieniem Auksencjusza (V w.); znany jest troparion cesarza
Justyniana Jednorodzony Syn Boży z VI w. (zob. Barkhuizen 2009) i po dwóch wiekach rozwoju kontakionu i
kanonu, wraca do liturgii ta krótka forma poetycko-muzyczna.
19 Podobnie zaniedbana jest kwestia przekładów Kasji – mamy tłumaczenia wszystkich dzieł poetki na język
angielski (Tripolitis 1992 i Zugravu 2013), podczas gdy na język polski dotychczas przełożono parę pieśni
(zob. bibliografia).
20 Menaion ułożone jest według dat poszczególnych świąt – Szymona obchodzi się 1 września, a to jest
właśnie początek roku liturgicznego w Kościele Wschodnim.
17
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
Samarii
czy
bezimienna
kobieta
z
najbardziej
znanego
troparionu
poetki
Ku/rie, h( e)n pollai=j a(marti/aij (Panie, w wielu grzechach upadła kobieta)21.
W edycji dzieł Kasji komentatorka definiuje ten utwór jako „hymn pokutny o Marii
www.litant.eu
Magdalenie”22, choć nie pojawia się w nim jej imię. Zasadniczą osnowę utworu stanowi parabola z
Littera Antiqua
Ewangelii Łukasza (7, 36-50) – ewangelista opowiada o wizycie Jezusa w domu faryzeusza
Szymona i przybyciu tam jawnogrzesznicy, która płacząc, obmyła łzami Jezusowi jego stopy,
namaściła je i wytarła swoimi włosami. W troparionie kobieta określona jest słowami
peripesou=sa gunh/, i jak zaznaczają E. Catafygiotu-Topping oraz A. M. Silvas, nie jest nazwana
wprost po/rnh23, ale jak zobaczymy poniżej, samoocena kobiety jednoznacznie wskazuje na
charakter jej czynów.
Troparion włączony jest do Triodionu wielkopostnego – księgi liturgicznej na okres dziesięciu
tygodni przed Wielkanocą – i jest śpiewany podczas porannego nabożeństwa (jutrznia) w środę
Wielkiego Tygodnia24. Cieszy się popularnością wśród badaczy nie tylko poezji liturgicznej czy w
ogóle twórczości Kasji25, ale doczekał się opracowań z zakresu „gender studies”26 oraz szeroko
rozumianej recepcji antyku i Bizancjum, nawet w literaturze Europy Wschodniej27. Sukces tego
utworu uzasadniony jest rzeczywiście ujmująco piękną strukturą i sposobem wypowiedzi, co
docenili już Bizantyńczycy, w ciągu wieków bowiem powstało do słów tego troparionu kilka
kompozycji muzycznych28, oprócz melodii ułożonej przez samą Kasję.
Hymn rozpoczyna się apostrofą do Jezusa Chrystusa i jednoczesnym wprowadzeniem
tematu jawnogrzesznicy, które od razu w bardzo skondensowanej formie streszcza sedno
wydarzenia opisanego w Ewangelii:
Fragmenty dotyczące troparionu o grzesznej kobiecie zostały częściowo wykorzystane w artykule The
sinful woman as an example of metanoia in Byzantine poetry (Heszen 2014: 80-4).
22 „The penitential hymn on Mary Magdalene”, Tripolitis 1992: 76. Atrybucja imienia Marii Magdaleny
pojawia się też u Kazhdana (1999: 317n).
23 Catafygiotu-Topping 1981: 205; Silvas 2006: 31.
24 Triodion został ułożony między innymi przez Teodora Studytę i jego uczniów (Meyendorff 2007: 112).
Zamieszczenie w nim utworu Kasji może być dowodem szacunku, jakim mnisi darzyli poetkę – Kasja jest
jedyną kobietą, której hymny zostały włączone do liturgii Kościoła Prawosławnego (Catafygiotu-Topping
1982-83: 107).
25 Catafygiotu-Topping poświęciła w całości dwa artykuły temu troparionowi, omawiając jego strukturę i
motywy literackie (1981, 1982). Ciekawa jest również interpretacja Dycka wraz z jego przekładem na język
angielski (1986). Panagopoulos w opracowaniu pokonferencyjnym (2007: 115-22) w zasadzie opiera się na
komentarzach Dycka.
26 Tsironis 2003: 142-4; Sherry 2013: 37n.
27 Knapp 1999: 597-620.
28 Tillyard 1911: 465-72; Touliatos-Banker 1984: 77.
21
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
Ku/rie, h( e)n pollai=j a(marti/aij peripesou=sa gunh,
th\n sh\n ai)sqome/nh Qeo/thta,
www.litant.eu
Littera Antiqua
murofo/rou a)nalabou=sa ta/cin...29.
Pierwsze słowa utworu nawiązują do Ewangelii Łukasza jeszcze w inny sposób, nie tylko na
poziomie treści, ale także przez zestawienie wyrazów podobnie brzmiących:
kai\ i)dou/, gunh\ h(/tij hÅn e)n t$= po/lei a(martwlo/j
h( e)n pollai=j a(marti/aij (Kasja).
(Łk
7,37;
podkr.
autorki)
i
Autorka wykorzystuje tu podobieństwo dźwiękowe zaimka i rodzajnika h(/tij i h(, powtarza
przyimek e)n. W Ewangelii jest rzeczownik, tu przymiotnik liczebny – po/lei i pollai=j – są to
różne części mowy, których homofonia przecież jest przypadkowa, nie związana z etymologią. I
wreszcie, mówiąc o „grzechach”, operuje tym samym rdzeniem, który jest w ewangelicznym
„grzesznica”. Jest to bardzo ciekawy rodzaj reminiscencji literackiej – aluzji na poziomie dźwięku,
zabieg artystyczny, który świadczy o niezwykłej wrażliwości językowej poetki, dużym poczuciu
melodii i brzmienia języka30. Celem tego jest nie tylko pokazanie źródła swojego utworu, ale też
subtelna zmiana wizerunku kobiety, o której będzie mowa – wyrażenie z Łukasza a(martwlo/j jest
mocniejsze, wskazuje na tę, która w mieście była jawnogrzesznicą, a więc nazywa ją jako taką
osobę. Kasja łagodzi tę ocenę, stosując wyrażenie złożone z przymiotnika i rzeczownika nie
określającego wprost człowieka, tylko jego przewinienia, które są przyczyną upadku (a(marti/aij).
Powrócę do kwestii Marii Magdaleny, ponieważ słowa czwartego wersu jednak pozwalają
skojarzyć z nią bohaterkę utworu, w którym autorka opisuje ją jako tę, która zgrzeszyła, ale
zapatrzona w boskość, „przyjęła rolę niosącej olejki” do grobu Jezusa. Zwrócono uwagę, że Kasja
nie tylko przez to utożsamia obie kobiety, ale swojej bohaterce nadaje zaszczytną funkcję i
grzesznicę podnosi do świętości31. Kontrast między „byciem upadłą” a „wywyższoną” bardzo
Cytaty według edycji Tripolitis 1992. Tłumaczenia utworów Kasji na język polski są mojego autorstwa.
Podobną aluzję foniczną znaleźć można w dramacie Chrystus cierpiący, gdzie autor zmienia rytm utworu
(dwunastozgłoskowiec bizantyński na anapesty), czyniąc tym samym aluzje do pierwowzoru w zakresie
techniki centonowej (Heszen 2004: 105)
31 Por. „From the start of the hymn, the point is made (by the narrator of the hymn) that this fallen women
has been raised up and elevated to the position of myrrh-bearer...” (Knapp 1999: 600) oraz: „By means of three
words, murofo/rou a)nalabou=sa ta/cin, the nun elevates the sinner to sanctity” (Catafygiotu-Topping 1981:
207). Co do identyfikacji z Marią Magdaleną, zob. Dyck 1986: 66-7, n. 9.
29
30
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
dobrze oddają dwa participia peripesou=sa i a)nalabou=sa, których zakończenia gramatyczne
brzmią tak samo, a prefiksy (peri- i a)na-) oznaczają przeciwieństwa: jakby „otoczenie grzechami”
i „ruch ku górze”32. Pomiędzy nimi znajduje się jeszcze jedno participium – ai)sqome/nh, kluczowe
www.litant.eu
Littera Antiqua
w kontekście całego utworu, ponieważ ono właśnie prowadzi w stronę transcendencji – Qeo/thta.
Poetka wprowadza wypowiedź upadłej kobiety, stosując wyrafinowaną grę znaczeń:
wyznaje ona swoje grzechy za pomocą obrazowej metafory ciemnej bezksiężycowej nocy, która ją
ogarnęła,
a
określenia
tychże
czynów
wymownie
wskazują
na
sferę
seksualną:
oiÅstroj a)kolasi/aj, eÃrwj th=j a(marti/aj. Fizyczna ciemność nocy staje się tu punktem wyjścia
do wyrażenia ciemności duszy ogarniętej przez grzech. Odbiorca prowadzony jest od tego, co
widzialne, zmysłowe ku temu, co duchowe, metafizyczne.
Następnie bohaterka zwraca się do Zbawcy w formie trzech petycji33 – są to prośby o
przyjęcie jej łez i pochylenie nad jej żalem, które również bazują na pewnej wieloznaczności, grze
znaczeń i opozycjach. Pierwsza z nich skierowana jest do Boga Stwórcy wszechświata:
de/cai mou ta\j phga\j tw=n dakru/wn
o( nefe/laij sthmoni/zwn
th=j qala/sshj to\ uÀdwr.
Strumienie łez występują w parze z wodą morza – na ten aspekt stworzenia właśnie poetka
zwraca uwagę, aby jednym obrazem wzbogacić drugi – to, co osobiste zestawione jest z potęgą
świata stworzonego34. Drugie wezwanie skierowane jest do Boga, który sam uniżył się i przyjął
ciało ludzkie – następuje tu jakby zrównanie osoby proszącej i adresata, upokorzonej grzesznicy i
ukorzonego Boga-człowieka:
ka/mfqhti/ moi pro\j tou\j stenagmou\j th=j kardi/aj
o( kli/naj tou\j ou)ranou\j t$= a)fra/st% sou kenw/sei.
Ostatnia „petycja” – do Zbawiciela dusz ludzkich yuxosw=sta, z jednej strony kontynuuje
indywidualny, liryczny charakter całej wypowiedzi kobiety, z drugiej zaś dzięki epitetom, jakimi
Na znaczenie peripesou=sa zwraca uwagę Catafygiotu-Topping 1982: 204, n. 27.
Pojęcie zaczerpnięte z prac E. Catafygiotu-Topping (1981, 1982).
34 O trudnościach w rozumieniu tej metafory, zwłaszcza czasownika sthmoni/zwn pisze Dyck 1986: 65.
32
33
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obdarzony jest tu Bóg, nabiera wymiaru uniwersalnego, typowego dla zakończenia hymnumodlitwy:
Littera Antiqua
o( a)me/trhton eÃxwn to\ me/ga eÃleoj.
www.litant.eu
mh/ me th\n s\hn dou/lhn pari/d$j
Scena całowania i namaszczania olejkiem stóp została opisana przez samą kobietę jako
zapowiedź tego, co uczyni – jest to jakby spojrzenie w przyszłość35. Kasja pogłębia ewangeliczny
przekaz wydarzenia kładąc nacisk na wewnętrzne przeżycia i uczucia, a osiąga to używając 1. os.
sing. Obietnica złożona Jezusowi staje się lirycznym wyznaniem, jakie składa się ukochanej osobie.
Słowa te:
katafilh/sw tou\j a)xra/ntouj sou po/daj,
a)posmh/cw tou/touj de\ pa/lin
toi=j th=j kefalh=j mou bostru/xoij...
znów wchodzą w zakres semantyki miłosnej, ale na zasadzie kontrastu zgubnej i czystej miłości są
przeciwstawione wyżej wyznanym grzechom. Choć te pola semantyczne jakoś się pokrywają
(eros, żądza, pocałunki), to kontekst i kolejność wyznań wskazują na głęboką i prawdziwą
przemianę.
Stopy Pana stanowią z kolei ogniwo łączące historię grzesznicy z epizodem z Księgi
Rodzaju, kiedy Ewa usłyszawszy kroki Boga schowała się ze strachu i wstydu:
wÂn e)n t%= Paradei/s% EuÃa to\n delino\n
kro/ton toi=j w)si\n h)xhqei=sa t%= fo/b% e)kru/bh36.
Ewa jest ulubionym exemplum Wielkiego Postu, tak więc nie dziwi jej przywołanie przez Kasję,
choć kilku badaczy uważa ten wtręt za sztuczny i burzący kompozycję utworu37. E. Catafygiotu-
„She looks to the future” (Catafygiotu-Topping 1982: 208).
Por. Gen. 3,8:
„Kai\ h)/kousan th\n fwnh\n kuri/ou tou= qeou= peripatou=ntoj e)n t%= paradei/s% to\ deilino/n, kai\ e)kru/bh
san o(/ te Adam kai\ h( gunh\ au)tou=...” (cyt. wg Septuaginty).
37 Tillyard 1911: 432; Dyck 1986: 71.
35
36
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Topping broni zasadności przytoczenia przykładu Ewy jako typowego dla wielkopostnych
rozważań na temat grzechu i skruchy przeciwstawienia pierwszej kobiety i nawróconej
nierządnicy38. Tripolitis przytacza w tym miejscu kolejną legendę o Kasji i cesarzu, co może
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sugerować pewien osobisty ton niniejszego fragmentu – przypomnienie ich niespełnionej miłości39.
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Moim zdaniem, wymowa jednej opowieści z Pisma zostaje wzmocniona czy wzbogacona inną –
paralela jawnogrzesznicy z Ewą jest całkowicie naturalna i uzasadniona. Kasja, jak widzieliśmy,
stosuje różnego rodzaju kontrasty i zestawienia: Ewa schowała się na dźwięk stóp Boga, a
bohaterka Kasji do tych stóp właśnie się zbliży. Ewa z świętości upadła w grzech, kobieta, o której
tu mowa, z upadku podniosła się do świętości.
Cały utwór Kasji liczy 31 wersów, forma jest więc niezwykle skondensowana przy bardzo
bogatej treści. Czytelnik/słuchacz zostaje wprowadzony niejako in medias res we wstępie, po czym
za pomocą odpowiednio dobranych metafor, maluje się przed nim bogaty obraz wewnętrzny
kobiety – nawróconej grzesznicy i przebaczającego, miłosiernego Boga, ale zarazem przez swoje
człowieczeństwo bliskiego człowiekowi.
Sticheronem o podobnej tematyce, lecz zdecydowanie krótszym i nie tak bogatym w
metafory jest utwór poświęcony świętej Pelagii, która była powszechnie znaną kurtyzaną w
Antiochii, w V w. Po homilii wygłoszonej przez biskupa Edessy, św. Nonnusa, Pelagia nawróciła
się, przyjęła chrzest, majątek rozdała ubogim i w męskim przebraniu, jako Pelagiusz, udała się do
Jerozolimy na Górę Oliwną, by tam w samotności oddać się pokucie40. Znakiem tego żalu są u
Kasji, analogicznie jak w poprzednim utworze, łzy i modlitwy bohaterki:
e)n proseuxai=j ga\r kai\ da/krusi Pelagi/a,
tw=n pollw=n ptaismatw=n to\ pe/lagoj e)ch/ranaj.
Na uwagę zasługuje widoczna w tych wersach aliteracja „tw=n pollw=n ptaismatw=n
„Eve and the repentant harlot appear together in many Lenten sermons and hymns, the disobedience of
the first to be avoided, the metanoia of the second to be imitated” (Catafygiotu-Topping 1981: 208-9).
39 Cesarz Teofil miał niespodziewanie odwiedzić klasztor, w którym przebywała Kasja. W chwili, gdy
pochylona była nad manuskryptem, wszedł do jej celi i, ponieważ wywołał tym przestrach u poetkizakonnicy, sam miał dopisać do jej troparionu słowa o „zawstydzeniu Ewy na kroki Pana”, czyniąc aluzję do
sytuacji, w której się znaleźli (za Tripolitis 1992: 79). Podobnie komentuje Rochow (1967: 77-81) i TouliatosBanker (1984: 76-7).
40 O życiu św. Pelagii zob. Connor 2004: 80-4.
38
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to\ pe/lagoj", wzmacniająca sens danej wypowiedzi (wers znajduje się w połowie utworu) oraz
gra słów związana z imieniem bohaterki: Pelagi/a i pe/lagoj. Zjawisko paronomazji (w tym
wypadku skojarzenia słów pospolitych z imionami świętych) badacze poezji bizantyńskiej uznają
www.litant.eu
za znak rozpoznawczy Kasji, na przykład w utworze poświęconym Eutymiuszowi – gra słów
Littera Antiqua
opiera się na znaczeniu czasownika eu)qume/w; w hymnie Na Eustratiusza i jego towarzyszy
Eustratios to strateuqei/j (powołany do służby wojskowej) przez Boga, Orestes to ten, który
spędził życie w górach (e)n toi=j oÃresin)41. Natomiast w troparionie o Pelagii zaskakujące jest
użycie czasownika e)ch/ranaj, który powoduje oksymoroniczny obraz w zestawieniu ze słowem
da/krusi: „modlitwami i łzami, Pelagio, osuszyłaś morze [swoich] licznych upadków” – morze
wyraża wielość i wielkość grzechów, łzy służą osuszeniu tego morza, a nie jak sugerowałaby
powszechna frazeologia – morza łez.
W hymnie o Marii z Egiptu (IV/V w.) występuje ta sama grupa znaczeń – bohaterka to
kolejna nawrócona prostytutka, która pokutuje wśród łez i modlitw42 – ale użycie ich wydaje się
bardziej logiczne:
–
kai\ rei/qroij tw=n dakruw=n sou
th\n eÃrhmon aÀpasan kath/rdeusaj
„strumieniami łez nawodniłaś całą pustynię...”. Następny, metaforyczny obraz jest
konsekwencją tego „nawodnienia”:
–
kai\ e)bla/sthsaj h(mi=n th=j metanoi/aj karpou/j
„wydałaś owoce swego nawrócenia”, przy czym blasta/w (wcześniejsze blasta/nw) i
rzeczownik karpo/j budzą oczywiste skojarzenia z przyrodą, naturą, która dzięki wodzie żyje i
owocuje. Pustynia występuje tu również w podwójnym znaczeniu: jako miejsce pobytu Marii
Egipskiej, która po tym, jak postanowiła odkupić swoje winy, wiodła surowe życie jako
Więcej przykładów podaje N. Tsironis komentując, że Kasja tego rodzaju zabiegi stylistyczne stosuje nie
tylko w hymnach, ale i w gnomach („Playing with the sound of words in a manner that reminds us of the
style of her gnomai”, 2003: 140).
42 Historię jej życia i nawrócenia barwnie opisuje Connor 2004: 87-93.
41
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anachoreta43, „matka pustyni”, na wzór rzeszy ówczesnych „ojców”, eremitów pustynnych;
drugie znaczenie – jako pustynia ducha – susza wewnętrzna spowodowana grzesznością. Stąd
nawrócenie jest nawilżeniem, ożywieniem aż do wydania owoców.
www.litant.eu
Tego rodzaju metafora znowu wpisuje się w bizantyńskie rozumienie typu ascezy, jaką
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było życie na uboczu czy nawet w całkowitym oddaleniu od miasta, siedzib ludzkich, cywilizacji,
czyli anachoreza. Osoba podejmująca taką drogę pokuty, wyrzeczeń, życia w absolutnej
samotności, jak wierzono, stawała się niemal za życia świętą – rodząc duchowe owoce w postaci
mądrości życiowej, zdolności udzielania rad czy nawracania innych.
Jeszcze jeden troparion poświęciła Kasja nawróconej nierządnicy, mianowicie Eudokii z
Samarii (II w.). Oprócz motywu wspólnego z hymnem o Marii Magdalenie czy Marii Egipskiej, jest
tu także wspólna semantyka czy nawet autonawiązanie:
mh/ mou ta\ da/krua pari/d$j tw=n deinw=n o)flhma/twn
a)lla\ de/cai me wÀsper th\n po/rnhn e)kei/nhn
th\n to\ mu/ron soi prosene/gkasan...
Znowu kobieta prosi Boga, aby nie gardził jej łzami i odwołuje się do symboliki jawnogrzesznicy z
Ewangelii, podkreślając kolejny raz jej rolę w namaszczeniu Chrystusa. Jak często u Kasji, oprócz
symbolicznej metaforyki, gry znaczeń, pojawia się i tu opozycja, w epitecie określającym Boga:
o( a)sw/touj kaqai/rwn („który oczyszczasz nieczystych”).
Z punktu widzenia historii literatury wydaje się w tym utworze najciekawsze i najbardziej
istotne nawiązanie do Hymnu Tekli, kończącego Sympozjon Metodego z Olimpu (zm. 311). Utwór o
Eudokii Kasja rozpoczyna słowami:
Katalipou=sa ta\ terpna\ kai\ poiki/la tou= bi/ou...
kai\ stauro\n a)rame/nh e)p )wÅmwn,
prosh=lqe tou= numfeuqh=nai soi, Xriste/...
Pozostawiam tu rodzaj męski rzeczownika, ze względu na brak odpowiednika w języku polskim –
jedynym ekwiwalentem byłby wyraz „pustelniczka”, ale on nie oddaje w pełni sensu i pewnej dynamiki,
jakie zawiera w sobie słowo anachoreta („ten, który odszedł, oddalił się”).
43
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
Podmiot liryczny Hymnu św. Metodego (Tekla) również mówi o porzuceniu „barwnego życia i
miłosnych rozkoszy”: e)kfugou=sa kai\ bi/ou trufh\n a(dona=j t )eÃrwta (strofa b ))44.
Na reminiscencję z Metodego wskazuje czasownik numfeuqh=nai – metafora zaślubin z
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powtarzanym każdorazowo w refrenie pieśni:
(Agneu/w soi kai\ lampa/daj faesfo/rouj
kratou=sa, numfi/e, u(panta/nw soi.
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Chrystusem jest głównym tematem Hymnu Tekli, jego osią kompozycyjną, motywem
Metafora ta sięga pierwszych wieków chrześcijaństwa, a swój pierwowzór znajduje w poezji
Starego Testamentu, w Pieśni nad Pieśniami i jej alegorycznej interpretacji Orygenesa (185-254).
Odpowiedź na pytanie, czy Kasja znała Metodego z Olimpu jest, według mnie, pozytywna: widać
w jej utworach oczytanie w literaturze Ojców Kościoła (Grzegorza z Nazjanzu, 329/330- ok. 390,
Jana Chryzostoma)45 czy poprzedników w zakresie hymnografii (Romanosa Melodosa)46. W poezji
gnomicznej i epigramatycznej widoczne są wpływy autorów klasycznych, między innymi
Menandra47.
Innym dowodem na znajomość Hymnu św. Metodego przez Kasję jest jej troparion
poświęcony właśnie Tekli (I w.), w którym w zakresie semantyki bardzo wyraźnie nawiązuje do
poprzednika:
Numfi/on e)/xousa e)n ou)ranoi=j Xristo\n to\n Qeo\n h(mw=n,
numfw=noj katefro/nhsaj tou= e)pigei/ou kai\ mnhsth=roj.
Tu także Chrystus występuje jako oblubieniec Tekli, która „wzgardziła ślubną komnatą i ziemskim
narzeczonym”. Słowa te odnoszą się do faktu z życia świętej Tekli: była już zaręczona z
poganinem, ale usłyszawszy przemowę św. Pawła w swoim rodzinnym Ikonium natychmiast
Cytaty z Metodego według edycji Musurillo – Debidour 1963.
Por. przyp. 8. O wpływie pism Ojców Kościoła na twórczość Kasji, zob. Simić 2011: 7-37. Szczególnie Mowy
Grzegorza z Nazjanzu wywarły znaczny wpływ na całą hymnografię bizantyńską (Karavites 1993: 97).
46 O możliwych reminiscencjach z Romanosa (w Ku/rie, h( e)n pollai=j a(marti/aij Kasji) pisze Dyck 1986:
64 oraz Barkhuizen 1990: 40.
47 Na przykład w epigramie Gunh/. Kasja najprawdopodobniej już w domu rodzinnym otrzymała solidne
wykształcenie (Silvas 2006: 18). Możliwości dalszego studiowania literatury dał jej klasztor, czego dowodem
może być analizowana przez A.-M. Talbot zawartość bibliotek w bizantyńskich konwentach (1983: 609).
44
45
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nawróciła się na chrześcijaństwo, zerwała umowę przedślubną mimo usilnych próśb matki i
podążyła za Apostołem48. Jednocześnie wyrażenie to służy przeciwstawieniu „ziemski
narzeczony” i „niebiański oblubieniec”, tak często stosowanemu przez Kasję, gdy od obrazu
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ziemskiego prowadzi ku sprawom boskim.
W apostrofie do Tekli autorka używa epitetu prw/taqle – pierwsza w walce, zdobywczyni
pierwszej nagrody. Można to rozumieć na tle dzieła Metodego, w którym właśnie Tekla zdobywa
pierwszą nagrodę w konkursie oratorsko-filozoficznym i uwieńczona intonuje hymn. Wieniec
Tekli jest zapowiedzią jej męczeńskiej śmierci, taka jest tradycja hagiograficzna: męczennicy to
ste/fanoi, ale też tradycja Kościoła Wschodniego, który przyznaje Tekli pierwszeństwo w
świętości i nazywa ją i)sapo/stoloj. Trudno rozstrzygnąć, czy Kasja bardziej podąża za tradycją
Kościoła (troparion jest rodzajem poetyckiego streszczenia apokryficznych Dziejów Pawła i Tekli),
czy odwołuje się do Hymnu Metodego, jak we wcześniejszych wersach utworu.
Tekla i Eudokia występują jako narzeczone Chrystusa – w obu utworach mamy podobne
zestawienia wyrazów i podobny sposób ekspresji: Eudokia unosząc krzyż, przybyła, żeby poślubić
Chrystusa, Tekla podążyła za Pawłem, biorąc na ramiona znak krzyża:
Pau/l% h)kolou/qhsaj
e)p )wÅmwn a)rame/nh to\ sh/meion tou= Staurou=.
Jakkolwiek początek drogi życiowej każdej z tych kobiet nieco się różni: Tekla pochodząca z
arystokratycznej rodziny, cnotliwa panna, przyrzeczona bogatemu mężczyźnie – odrzuciła
perspektywę ziemskiego związku; Eudokia – prostytutka, która jednak też odrzuciła ziemskie
rozkosze. Kasja widzi w nich pewne analogie, doceniając w duchu bizantyńskiej pobożności każdą
formę metanoi, szczerej pokuty i odejścia od grzechu49.
Teklę i Eudokię łączy jeszcze jeden aspekt – pierwsza z nich przeżyła liczne
prześladowania i tortury (o czym jest mowa w troparionie), druga zginęła podczas represji,
prawdopodobnie w 126 r. Tym właśnie można tłumaczyć metaforę „brania krzyża na barki” – jest
to oczywisty znak Chrystusa, chrześcijaństwa w ogóle, ale w kontekście obu utworów myślę, że
Na temat życia, męczeństwa i kultu świętej Tekli zob. Connor 2004: 1-12.
Motyw nawróconej nierządnicy, szczególnie tej z przypowieści ewangelicznej (Łk 7, 37), był popularnym
tematem kazań i hymnów w pierwszych wiekach chrześcijaństwa i w Bizancjum. Por. Kontakion 21 (SCh 114)
Romanosa Melodosa, czy Magnus Canon Andrzeja z Krety (ok. 660-740) – Heszen 2014: 69-87.
48
49
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można tłumaczyć to jako symbol ich męczeństwa. Metafora ta ma więc dwa poziomy: związany ze
śmiercią obu kobiet (a więc tym, co ma wymiar fizyczny) i ich duchowym naśladowaniem
Mistrza-Oblubieńca.
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Niezwykle pięknym przykładem poetyckiej metafory prowadzącej odbiorcę ku temu, co
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nadprzyrodzone, jest troparion poświęcony Szymonowi Stylicie, w którym autorka opisuje jego
ekstremalną formę ascetyzmu: Szymon po kilkunastu latach przebywania w monasterach
syryjskich wspiął się na wysoki słup i spędził na nim około 50 lat swojego życia w pozycji stojącej,
modląc się i poddając rygorystycznym postom. Właśnie ta kolumna stała się dla Kasji symbolem
nie tylko eskapizmu – oddalenia czy ucieczki od fizycznego świata, ale przede wszystkim
wzniesienia się ku górze, ku niebu, ku światu ponad- i pozaziemskiemu. Oto, jak pisze poetka o
Szymonie:
kai\ e)pi\ pe/tran to\ sw=ma u(yw/saj
pro\j qeo\n de\ u(peruyw/saj th\h dia/noian.
Warto zwrócić uwagę na użycie dwóch czasowników oznaczających „wznoszenie się”: u(yo/w i
u(peruyo/w, przy czym pierwszy odnosi się w tym kontekście do ciała (sw=ma), a drugi – do
umysłu (dia/noia). Można by nazwać to swoistym „stopniowaniem” czasowników: „ciało uniósł
na skałę”, a „umysł jeszcze bardziej wyniósł do Boga”. Podobnie jak w poprzednich troparionach,
metafory prowadziły od fizyczności ku duchowości (ciemna noc – żądza – grzeszność i łzy –
oczyszczenie – nawrócenie), tak tu rzeczywisty, fizyczny pobyt Szymona w górze jest okazją do
opisu „wzniosłości” jego umysłu, wewnętrznego przebywania w obszarach nieba. Następne wersy
rozwijają tę myśl:
ai)qe/rion diedomh/sato tai=j a)retai=j e)ndiai/thma
kai\ tai=j qei/aij Duna/mesi summetewroporw=n,
Xristou= ge/gonen oi)xhth/rion tou= qeou=...
Słowa doma/w i e)ndiai/thma zazwyczaj odnoszą się do konkretnej – materialnej
rzeczywistości (urządzać, budować; siedziba, miejsce przebywania) i w tym utworze również
oznaczają z jednej strony faktyczną – powietrzną siedzibę Szymona, z drugiej – słowo a)retai=j
kieruje odbiorcę ku rzeczywistości duchowej. )Areth/ może być rozumiana jako ćwiczenie się w
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
ascezie przez różnego rodzaju posty i umartwienia ciała, ale nigdy takie zabiegi nie miały na celu
jedynie ograniczeń cielesnych, tylko prowadziły osobę podejmującą tę praktykę do doskonałości w
modlitwie
i
do
kontemplacji
Stwórcy.
I
właśnie
sformułowanie
www.litant.eu
kai\ tai=j qei/aij Duna/mesi summetewroporw=n – „spacerując w powietrzu wraz z boską energią”
Littera Antiqua
jest, moim zdaniem, bardzo adekwatnym obrazem tej typowej dla prawosławia kontemplacji
Boga, która jest efektem ascezy, modlitwy serca czy wpatrywania się w ikonę. Dlatego też
tłumaczę Du/namij jako „boska energia”, idąc za terminologią Jana Damasceńskiego50 oraz
późniejszego myśliciela i teologa Grzegorza Palamasa (1296-1359)51, którzy argumentując w
kontrowersjach ikonoklazmu czy hezychazmu właśnie tak określali widzialne działanie
niewidzialnego Boga52.
U Szymona Stylity w sticheronie Kasji mistyczne zjednoczenie z Bogiem wyraża bardzo
dobitnie czasownik summetewropole/w przez prefiks sum- i rekcję z dativem, ale też poetka w
następnym wersie nazywa świętego wprost „mieszkaniem/siedzibą Chrystusa”. Tym kończy
pierwszą strofkę hymnu, co podsumowuje ziemskie życie Szymona – od wejścia ciałem na słup
przez umysłowe wznoszenie się ku Bogu i duchową z Nim komunię, którą mocno podkreśla
perfectum ge/gonen. W drugiej zwrotce jest mowa o grobie świętego jako źródle cudów i wraz z
apostrofą do Szymona jest typową prośbą modlitewną o wstawiennictwo. Tu chciałabym zwrócić
uwagę na wyrażenie: kai\ meta\ tw=n
)Aswma/twn xoreu/wn e)n ou)ranoi=j, które jest jakby
powtórzeniem określenia „spacerując w powietrzu...” z poprzedniej zwrotki, ale na zasadzie
pewnego odwrócenia znaczeń: tam spacer, unoszenie się, tu taniec z bezcielesnymi/ Aniołami i
Świętymi. Semantyka wyraźnie wskazuje na rzeczywistość niebiańską (ou)ranoi=j), a czasownik
xoreu/w przecież pierwotnie odnosi się do tańca, czyli czegoś jak najbardziej ziemskiego,
zmysłowego. Paradoksalnie w wyrażeniu, które odnosi się wprost do świata pozaziemskiego, do
nieba, poetka używa czasownika o desygnacie o wiele bardziej konkretnym (tańczenie),
wyrażającym czynność, którą łatwo można sobie wyobrazić, niż w opisie przecież jeszcze
ziemskiego życia świętego, przebywającego na wysokościach, ale tego świata.
Orationes de imaginibus tres 2, 63,3.
Syngrammata II, 402.
52 Por.: „Za greckim patrystycznym rozumieniem wiary i teologii chrześcijańskiej kryje się możliwość
doświadczania Boga w sposób inny niż za pośrednictwem poznania intelektualnego, uczuć czy zmysłów.
Oznacza to po prostu otwarcie się Boga, Jego egzystencji, na zewnątrz Jego własnej natury, Jego działań czy
«energii», przez które do bro wo l ni e odsłania się On człowiekowi [...]. Kontakt miłości i «energii» Boga ze
zdolnością człowieka do przekroczenia siebie samego umożliwia spotkanie, «kontemplację większą niż
poznanie», o której Ojcowie mówili jako o «oczach wiary»” (Meyendorff 2007: XXII-XXIII).
50
51
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
Zresztą
nie
tylko
taniec
ma
takie
konotacje
–
występujący
wyżej
zwrot:
ÃExwn ouÅn pro\j Ku/rion, ÀOsie, par)r(hsi/an (...) i(ke/teue... budzi skojarzenia ze sferą polityczną –
par)r(hsi/a jest jednym z przejawów demokracji, oznacza „wolność słowa”, „swobodę działania”.
www.litant.eu
Taką swobodę daje Świętemu przebywanie w niebie, czyli możliwość wstawiennictwa u
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Chrystusa. To, co materialne poetka oddaje w sposób abstrakcyjny, a metafizyka odmalowana
zostaje jak coś dotykalnego, bliskiego, bardzo ludzkiego.
Utworem, w którym niezwykle wyraźna jest opozycja między tym, co ziemskie, a tym, co
boskie, jest troparion O Narodzeniu Chrystusa53. Można też zauważyć w nim pewien wymiar
polityczny: panowanie Augusta (27 p.n.e.-14 n.e.) przeciwstawione jest panowaniu Chrystusa –
panowanie ziemskiego imperatora królowaniu Boga. W warstwie językowej pieśni doskonale
oddają to formy czasownikowe: rządy cezara ograniczają się do momentu w dziejach, co wyraża
aoristus (e)pau/sato), a działanie Chrystusa, które zaczęło się w konkretnym czasie, ale trwa nadal,
opisuje perfectum (kath/rgetai)54.
Ta opozycja jednak nie jest całkowicie jednoznaczna: August to też władca, który kiedyś
zapanował nad Imperium Romanum i choć z jednej strony panowanie ziemskiego władcy jest czymś
przejściowym, chwilowym, efemerycznym, z drugiej jednak, ponieważ August nie jest
przedstawiony jako władca negatywny – pod jego panowaniem nastała Pax Romana, skończyło się
„wielowładztwo” (poluarxi/a) – wymiar polityczny porównany jest do sytuacji duchowej, jako
coś niezwykłego i równie wyjątkowego:
u(po\ mi/an basilei/an e)gko/smion ai( po/leij gege/nhtai:
kai\ ei)j mi/an despotei/an qeo/thtoj ta\ eÃqnh e)pi/steusan.
Myślę, że postać Augusta może być symbolem władcy w ogóle, w czym kryłaby się aluzja do
czasów współczesnych Kasji – obecny cesarz to także, w rozumieniu Bizantyjczyków (Romeioi),
cesarz Imperium Romanum. Nie można więc wykluczyć i takiej interpretacji hymnu, który będąc w
dosłownej warstwie apoteozą nowonarodzonego władcy – Chrystusa, byłby też przez paralelne
zestawienie, subtelnie oddanym hołdem panującemu cesarzowi.
W tłumaczeniu J. Danielewicza: Pieśń na Boże Narodzenie. Jest to jeden z nielicznych utworów Kasji
przełożony na język polski.
54 Tripolitis 1992: 19.
53
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
Przeciwieństwa stają się w troparionie O Narodzeniu... zasadą kompozycyjną: opozycje są
zestawione parami, każde zdanie składa się z dwóch członów, przy czym pierwszy zawiera myśl
dotyczącą tego, co ziemskie i związane z władzą, drugi tego, co boskie i odnosi się do wiary55.
www.litant.eu
Zdania są niezwykle symetryczne, regularne do tego stopnia, że nawet formy gramatyczne są
Littera Antiqua
przez Kasję tak dobrane, żeby te z pierwszej części odpowiadały drugiej, na przykład genetivus
absolutus, gdy pisze o zapanowaniu Augusta i taka sama konstrukcja, gdy o wcieleniu Chrystusa:
Au)gou/stou monarxh/santoj...
sou= e)nanqrwph/santoj...
Poetka zestawia podobnie brzmiące słowa: poluarxi/a i poluqei=a oraz podobne znaczenia:
po/leij i eÃqnh, aczkolwiek z pełną świadomością ich różnicy semantycznej – polis to znaczenie
państwowe, polityczne (świeckie), a więc ograniczone do jakiejś konkretnej formy państwowości
na ziemi, ethnos zaś bardziej uniwersalne, co sugeruje powszechność chrześcijaństwa.
Te pola semantyczne rzeczywistości ziemskiej też się jakoś przenikają – wcielenie
Chrystusa, jego przyjście na ziemię do konkretnych ludzi, było wydarzeniem historycznym i –
ziemskim. Tak jak „ludy zostały spisane dekretem cezara”, tak i „my wierni imieniem boskości”:
a)pegra/fhsan oi( laoi\ t%= do/gmati tou= Kai/saroj
e)pegra/fhmen oi( pistoi\ o)no/mati qeo/thtoj.
Jest to niezwykła metaforyka – tak jak w wyżej omówionych utworach Kasja prowadziła odbiorcę
od tego, co ziemskie ku temu, co boskie, tak tu mamy do czynienia z grą znaczeń opierającą się na
opozycjach i antytezach, dotyczących tego, co fizyczne i metafizyczne. Są tu wyraźne dwa światy –
władzy i społeczeństwa. Jednak świat Boga też osadzony jest w tym ziemskim, konkretnym
wcieleniu Chrystusa – ten fakt w utworze wybrzmiewa najbardziej dosadnie, gdyż myśl zostaje
powtórzona na końcu – jako jedyna już bez opozycji do Augusta:
sou= tou= e)nanqrwph/santoj qeou= h(mw=n
Na paralelny układ muzyczny tego utworu zwróciła uwagę Touliatos-Banker: „Besides the parallelism of
the theme, there is a parallel metrical rhyming scheme in the text which corresponds to the parallelism in the
music. In fact it is the construction of the text which influences the structure of the melody” (1984: 72).
55
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
me/ga sou to\ e)/leoj, Ku/rie, do/ca soi.
Na koniec chciałabym zwrócić uwagę na troparion o świętej Barbarze (III w.), który według
www.litant.eu
A. M. Silvas jest odbiciem owej słynnej niefortunnej odpowiedzi Kasji udzielonej cesarzowi
Littera Antiqua
Teofilowi56. Tematem hymnu jest przeciwstawienie Ewy, która była narzędziem Szatana i Maryi,
przez którą wcieliło się Słowo. Rzeczywiście więc jest jakby poetycko ujętą rozmową, którą poetka
miała przeprowadzić podczas swego „bride-show” – jeżeli utwór odczytamy dosłownie:
)Hsxu/nqh o( Ba/skanoj e)xqro\j u(po\ gunaiko\j h(ttw/menoj,
o(/ti th\n Promh/tora e)/sxen o)/rganon pro\j a(marti/an,
o( ga\r e)k Parqe/nou sarkwqei=j Lo/goj...
Z drugiej strony, troparion ma bardzo teologiczny charakter, w centrum wypowiedzi jest
Chrystus wraz z typowymi dla egzegezy apofatycznej określeniami: a)tre/ptwj kai\ a)fu/rtwj.
Barbara pojawia się dopiero w ostatnich wersach, jako „godnie uwieńczona”, przez którą
podarowane
zostały
światu
„pokuta
i
wielkie
miłosierdzie”
(di )au)th=j dwrou/menoj t%= ko/sm% i)lasmo\n kai\ to\ me/ga e)/leoj). Barbara jest tą, która pomaga w
odkupieniu i mimo powszechnego w literaturze, homiletyce i filozofii toposu, jakim było
przeciwstawienie Ewy i Maryi, tu bardziej, moim zdaniem, został wyeksponowany kontrast Ewy i
Barbary. Tak jak Ewa jest instrumentem (o)/rganon) grzechu, tak Barbara darem Chrystusa.
Struktura utworu i ulubione przez Kasję opozycje sugerują takie właśnie rozumienie tego
zestawienia.
Hymn ten szczególnie należy rozpatrywać na tle sporów ikonoklastycznych i może nawet –
jeżeli powstał po 843 r. – powiązać go ze „Zwycięstwem Ortodoksji”. Kobiety rzeczywiście
odegrały ważną i znaczącą rolę w walce o przywrócenie kultu ikon, jak podkreślają historycy, i nie
jest to podyktowane ideologią feministyczną, ale jest to fakt historyczny: cesarzowa Irena (797802), Eufrozyna wspierająca ikonofilów i mnichów czy Teodora, która położyła ostateczny kres
kontrowersji. Na płaszczyźnie filozoficzno-teologicznej do zwycięstwa przyczyniła się między
innymi teologia wcielenia i powiązana z nią mariologia. Kluczowe w troparionie Kasji słowa
„Its [i.e. troparion to St Barbara] theology of woman echoes the rejoinder given above to Emperor
Theophilos”, Silvas 2006: 29.
56
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
e)k Parqe/nou sarkwqei=j oraz nazwanie zła „oszczercą” (Ba/skanoj), które pokonane zostało
przez kobietę (u(po\ gunaiko\j h(ttw/menoj), jednoznacznie wskazują na Matkę Boską.
Barbara, jedna ze zwykłych kobiet, która jako rzeczywista postać odznaczyła się
www.litant.eu
niezachwianą wiarą w obliczu okrutnych i nieludzkich tortur, została tu przywołana jako
Littera Antiqua
„narzędzie dobra” i postawiona obok Maryi. Troparion zawiera aluzję do ówczesnej sytuacji
politycznej i jest pewnym miniaturowym skrótem powstałych wówczas traktatów filozoficznych,
z zastosowaniem apofatyczności włącznie57. Teologia wcielenia była głównym argumentem
przeciwko ikonoklazmowi, a we wcieleniu Maryja odegrała najistotniejszą rolę58 – w hymnie
słowa, które do Niej się odnoszą, znajdują się w ekspozycyjnej części utworu, a Ewa i Barbara – są
jakby klamrą spinającą hymn. Zło, jakim był ikonoklazm, zostało pokonane przez kobietę – i w
tym wymiarze religijnym, metafizycznym, bo przez kobietę Bóg stał się człowiekiem; i w tym
wymiarze historycznym – przez zasługi bizantyńskich kobiet na tronie. Kobiety więc w dalszym
ciągu są wybierane przez Boga dla odkupienia ludzkości – jak kiedyś Matka Boska, jak Barbara – i
może, jak cesarzowa Teodora. Teodora, która przecież poza tym wszystkim, dla Kasji w jej
osobistym wymiarze była jej rywalką, i to ona ostatecznie wygrała w konkursie narzeczonych.
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58 „Mother of God (...) has been used as the symbol par excellence of Incarnational theology on the basis of
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2015).
The Metaphysics and the Metaphorics of Cassia’ s Poetry (9th c.)
(Summary)
In this article I analyze some troparions of Cassia, a nun and poetess living in the 9th
century in Constantinople, towards the end of the iconoclastic controversy. Her hymns dedicated
to the saints, anchorites, ascetics and converted harlots are the examples of beautiful literary
metaphors. By means of them, the author leads the recipient to what is unearthly, metaphysical
and divine. Especially Cassia likes to describe the women, former prostitutes, who after their
conversion were living repentant lives in the desert. Cassia in a very imaginative way depicts the
condition of their souls and the love to Christ. Additionally, the poetess underlines the role of the
woman in the human salvation, of the Mother of God of course, what is an allusion to the
„Triumph of Orthodoxy” and the role of Byzantine empresses to defeat iconoclasts.
SŁOWA KLUCZOWE: Kasja; troparion; duchowość bizantyńska; anachoreta; asceta; nawrócona
jawnogrzesznica
KEYWORDS: Cassia; troparion; Bizantine spirituality; anchorite; ascetic; converted harlot
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Agnieszka Heszen, dr, e-mail: [email protected]; zainteresowania naukowe: tragedia
grecka, jej recepcja w średniowieczu i literaturze nowożytnej, dramat późnoantyczny i
bizantyński; literatura wczesnochrześcijańska (apologetyka, hymnografia), jej związki z kulturą
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troparion); metryka antyczna i bizantyńskie systemy rytmiczne.
31
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klasyczną; literatura bizantyńska: hymnografia, gatunki poezji liturgicznej (kontakion, kanon,
„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
CHRISTINA-PANAGIOTA MANOLEA
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Orpheus, Theophilos Kairis and “The Great Moon Hoax”
www.litant.eu
(Hellenic Open University, Patras)
This article deals with a challenging case of the reception of the Orphic tradition that
goes back to the 19th century. We present the use of an Orphic passage by the Greek
philosopher Theophilos Kairis in a supposedly scientific context.
Theophilos Kairis (1784-1853) was a Greek philosopher with wide interests and
specific knowledge on many philosophical an epistemological issues.1 He was born in the
island of Andros in 1784. Greece was at that time under Turkish Occupation – and so was the
Asia Minor Coast, that had a considerable number of Greek populations then. At the age of
eight Kairis moved to Kydonies (Aivali) in Asia Minor (near the ancient city of Pergamon) in
order to attend a good school there. He was a brilliant student but also worked in order to
finance his studies. His studies included modern languages, Ancient Greek and Latin, as
well as elements of natural sciences. At the age of eighteen he decided to become a monk.
The remarkable thing is that not even at this stage he was discouraged from pursuing further
studies; being funded by the wealthy Greek community of Aivali he went to Pisa, where he
studied for two years mathematics, physics, philosophy and medicine. At this time a number
of learned men formed the so-called “Pisa Circle” that followed the teachings and also
shared the vision of one of the major representatives of Greek Enlightenment, namely
Adamantios Coray (1748-1833).2 After this he went to Paris, where he was very active on an
intellectual level.
3
In Paris he became a close friend of Coray, but also of the orator,
philosopher and theologian Denis-Antoine-Luc de Frayssinous (1765-1841), the famous
printer and publisher François-Ambrose Didot (1730-1801) and of many other important men
of letters. In 1809 he completed his studies and returned to his island, Andros (still under
For Kairis’ biography see Βουρνάς 1979; Κυριακός 1971 and Μανδηλάς 2002, especially pp. 71-179.
The last book is the most recent study, laying particular emphasis on the historical milieu where
Kairis’ philosophy flourished.
2 For A. Coray, one of the most important representatives of the Greek Enlightenment, see Zervos
1989: 259-68; Nοutsos 1990: 47-55.
3 Μανδηλάς (2002) characteristically notes in page 76: “While in Europe Kairis visited nearly all
Schools of Letters and Philosophy, so as to get acquainted with the people who were teaching there
and their views”.
1
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Turkish occupation). He taught at the Evangelist School of Smyrna from 1811 for only one year
and then in 1812 started his career as a teacher in the “Academy of Kydonies”. During the
years he taught there he upgraded the teaching syllabus towards a more strictly academic
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orientation. The 1821 Revolution of the Greeks against the Turks found Kairis in this School,
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which he nevertheless did not hesitate to leave, in order to offer his services to his revolted
fellow Greeks. He did so in many ways – we will just mention that he took active part in the
Revolt strives around Mount Olympus in 1822, where he was wounded. It should also be
noted that he was one of the compilers of “Temporary Constitution of Greece” formed after
the Second National Congress of the revolted Greeks (10th-30th April 1823 in Astros of
Kynouria, Peloponnese). He was also took part in the 3rd National Congress (19 March - 5
May 1827) as a representative of the island of Andros. This Congress elected Ioannes
Kapodistrias as a governor of the newly-founded state and Kairis was the first one to receive
the new Governor in the Greek island of Aegina in 1828. From then onwards he dedicated
himself to the direction of an Orphanage in Andros. He travelled to Europe in order to find
financial resources and made this Orphanage the center of his life, teaching there himself,
trying to create a new type of man.
Kaires’ writings consist of many edited volumes, of which 11 volumes of letters
survive.4 As is evident from his work, a man of Church though he was, his views were liberal
and democratic. He valued science highly and believed it had the potentiality to really
enlighten people and give a solution to their problems. His views on God can be
characterized as radical, as he had proposed a philosophical religion system called
Θεοσέβεια (Theoseby, God’s respect).5 The Greek Orthodox Church opposed to his radical
views. In 1839 charges were laid against him for blasphemy and for denial of practically
everything the Eastern Church stood for. As a result he was expelled from the Orthodox
Church, spent one year in a monastery in Skiathos, was transferred to another monastery in
Thera (Santorini) in 1840 and left Greece in compulsory exile in 1841. From this point up to
1843 he lived abroad (Constantinople, Marseille, Paris, London), without stopping the
defense and spread of his views on theosophy and without stopping to show interest for the
The complete edition of Kairis’ letters entitled Αλληλογραφία Θεοφίλου Καΐρη, edited by Ι. Polemis
(Andros, 1994-1999).
5 For Kairis’ religious system see Galanis 1987: 583-608, 901-29; cf. Σινιόσογλου 2008: 15-45 of the
introduction.
4
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Greek affairs. He was allowed to return to Greece only in 1844, where he died in 1853, yet
after having endured a second persecution because of his ideas.6
From the brief biographical note we deduce that Kairis was a man of letters with
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independent thought that, among others, showed considerable interest towards natural
sciences. Unfortunately, a brilliant scientist and man of letters though Kairis was, he
nevertheless was rather close to becoming one of the victims of “The Great Moon Hoax”. In
1835 the American newspaper The Sun published a series of six articles about the supposed
discovery of life and even civilization on the Moon. The discoveries were supposedly
attributed to the famous astronomer Sir John Herschel and were even accompanied by
drawings depicting the Moon’s creatures as seen with the aid of new, evaluated telescopes.
The story in question is known as “The Great Moon Hoax”. Before the final revelation of the
trick, many important scientists had believed it.7
Kairis was aware of the story, as we are going to see. When the “Great Moon Hoax”
was in progress he was in the island of Andros, directing the Orphanage he had himself
founded. Yet he was not cut off from contemporary scientific developments, especially the
ones that had attracted major attention abroad. Kairis wrote many letters addressed to many
people. On 1st August 1836 he wrote about it to his sister Evanthia Kairis (1799-1866), an
educated woman of the age, being fluent in foreign languages and even gaining money from
translations.8 In this letter he asked his sister, who at the time lived in the island of Syros, to
send him Herschel’s drawing depicting the Moon creatures. What is worth noting is that it
was not only Kairis who was aware of the supposed Herschel’s new discoveries. Evanthia
also knew the story, as in a previous letters to her brother, dated 8th July 1836, she had
mentioned that it is from him that she had learned from him the fact that men have been able
to actually see the Moon’s inhabitants. This is why she expressed gratitude towards her dear
brother, because he informed her of the fact, certainly in one of his letters and maybe earlier
in a conversation she nevertheless seems to have forgotten.9 Evanthia’s letter of 8th July 1836
For Kairis’ persecution see Giannaris 1996: 165-76. Cf. also Κουμαριανού 1967; repr. in Κουμαριανού
2007: 15-69 and Κουμαριανού 1993: 87-98; repr. in Κουμαριανού 2007: 71-94.
7 For the “Great Moon Hoax” see Goodman 2008.
8 For Evanthia Kairis see the corresponding entry in Πολέμης 2003: 129-34.
9 See Evanthia Kairis’ letter to her brother Theophilos written on 8th July 1836 (Αλληλογραφία
Θεοφίλου Καΐρη, part 2, ed. by I. Polemis, Andros 1997, letter 88, p. 143):
6
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clearly depicts the popularity the Great Moon Hoax had acquired among learned people of
this age.
In any case, on August 1st Kairis wrote to his sister asking for the drawings
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supposedly created by Herschel. He did not only want to see them himself, but was also
keen on sharing this knowledge with other people.10 After the letter of August 1st, on 10th
August 1836 Kairis wrote another letter to his sister Evanthia. In this second letter Kairis’
attitude towards the existence of life in other planets was absolute: “There is nothing surer
than the fact that both the Moon as well as the other celestial bodies are inhabited. This is
exactly what ancient philosophers believed and what many modern ones also believe. The
only unknown issue was (and still is) what the inhabitants look like.11 If what Herschel
narrates is true and we have in fact been able to have seen the moon’s surface, as is manifest
in the corresponding drawings, then the educated men living on the Earth have profited
much, as they now know what the inhabitants of the Moon look like”.12
We see that Kairis in this letter could be characterized as being somewhat ambivalent
as to the truth of the story in question. He did not reject it from the beginning, and this
certainly brought him close to becoming a victim of the “Great Moon Hoax”. In this second
letter he nevertheless seems to have left a door open to doubt as to the truth of the story on
question. In other words: the Great Moon Hoax had certainly had an impact on him – if we
are to consider him as one of the victims, we should regard him as a very thoughtful one. But
still, what follows in Kairis’ letter is even more important: “Even if modern telescopes are not
Ἢ δὲν μὲ εἶπες ποτέ, ὅτι ἠδυνήθησαν νὰ εἰδῶσιν τοὺς κατοίκους τῆς Σελήνης, ἢ
ἐλησμόνησα˙ ὅθεν γνωρίζω μεγίστην χάριν εἰς τὸν φίλον ἀδελφόν μου˙ ἐπειδὴ μὲ ἔγραψε περὶ
αὐτοῦ τοῦ πράγματος.
10 See Kairis’ letter to his sister Evanthia written on 1st August 1836 (Αλληλογραφία Θεοφίλου Καΐρη,
part 1, ed. by I. Polemis, Andros 1994, letter 94, p. 140:
Ἔμαθον ὅτι Σᾶς ἦλθον ἡ νέα Σεληνογραφία ἡ διὰ τῶν παρατηρήσεων τοῦ νέου Ἑρσχέλου
σχεδιασθεῖσα. Ἀφ’ οὗ τὴν ἰδῶσιν αὐτοῦ ὅσοι ἀγαπῶσι καὶ εἶναι περίεργοι, τότε, ἂς ἐπιμεληθῇ ὁ
περιπόθητος ἀδελφός μας νὰ τὴν στείλῃ κ[αὶ εἰς ἐμὲ] ἀσφαλῶς διὰ νὰ τὴν ἰδῶσι καὶ οἱ ἐδῶ.
11 See Kairis’ letter to his sister Evanthia written on 10th August 1836 (Αλληλογραφία Θεοφίλου
Καΐρη, part 1, ed. by I. Polemis, Andros 1994, letter 96, p. 142:
Ὅτι δὲ ἡ Σελήνη, ὡς καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ οὐράνια σώματα, κατοικοῦνται, τοῦτο εἶναι
ἀληθέστατον. Τοῦτο ἦτον τὸ φρόνημα τῶν ἀρχαίων φιλοσόφων ˙ τοῦτο εἶναι καὶ πολλῶν
σημερινῶν˙ ἠγνοεῖτο μόνον καὶ ἀγνοεῖται τὸ εἶδος τῶν κατοίκων αὐτῶν.
12 Op. cit., p. 142:
Ἂν ἀληθεύῃ τὸ περὶ τοῦ Ἑρσχέλου διή[γημα] καὶ ἐθ[εωρή]θη τῳόντι τὸ τῆς Σελήνης
πρόσωπον, ὁποῖον εἰς τὴν εἰκονογραφία της παριστάνεται, ἐκέρδησαν [μόνον τ]οῦτο οἱ
πεπαιδευμένοι τῆς Γῆς, ὅτι ἔμαθον τ[ὴν μορφὴν] τῶν Σεληναίων.
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sophisticated enough to let us know what the inhabitants of planets other more than Earth
looked like, there is nevertheless no doubt that there is life on these planets”.13
This is exactly where Orpheus came in. The arguments sustaining Kairis’ view on the
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existence of life on other planets did not belong to physics or astronomy, but to philosophy.
Kairis chose to quote an Orphic passage (fr. 155 Bernabé), in order to prove that the existence
of life (and not only plant life, but of inhabitants) on other planets is an undeniable fact.14 It
should be noted that Evanthia Kairis in her letter of 14th August also referred to Orpheus: she
claimed having knowledge that both ancient and contemporary philosophers think that the
celestial bodies are not different from Earth and that they are inhabited. What she was
unaware of was the fact that in Orpheus’ time this was a common belief.15 So, Evanthia Kairis
was evidently familiar with the figure of Orpheus, but plead ignorance of the passage her
brother quoted in his letter. She then wondered why Orpheus mentioned only the moon and
not other planets as well.16 Her tone in the latter was rather playful and it is very probable
that Evanthia here was joking. She then expressed her reservation as to whether the ancient
philosophers were indeed in the position to discover what happens on the planets without
the aid of telescopes.17 Finally she admits that the aim of her reference is to make her brother
laugh.18
Op. cit., p. 142:
Ἀλλὰ καὶ ἂν ὑποθέσομεν, [ὅτι] ἦτον καὶ εἶναι ἀδύνατον νὰ τελειοποιηθῶσι τὰ
τηλεσκόπια τόσον, ὥστε νὰ δείξωσι τὴν μορφὴν τῶν κατοίκων τῶν ἄλλων τοῦ σύμπαντος μερῶν,
μένει πάντοτε βεβαιότατον, ὅτι αὐτὰ κατοικοῦνται.
14 Op. cit., p. 142:
Ἰδοὺ ποῖον τεμάχιον ἀποδίδεται εἰς τὸν Ὀρφέα, εἰς ἄνθρωπον δηλ. 2000 περίπου ἐτῶν πρὸ
Χριστοῦ ἀκμάσαντα, περὶ κατοίκων τῆς Σελήνης˙
Μήσατο δ’ ἄλλην γαῖαν ἀπείρατον, ἥν τε Σελήνην
ἀθάνατοι κλήζουσιν, ἐπιχθόνιοι δέ τε μήνην˙
ἣ πόλλ’ οὔρε’ ἔχει, πόλλ’ ἄστεα, πολλὰ μέλαθρα.
15 Αλληλογραφία Θεοφίλου Καΐρη, part 2, ed. by I. Polemis, Andros 1997, letter 90, p. 146:
Ἠξεύρω, ὅτι καὶ οἱ παλαιοὶ καὶ οἱ σημερινοὶ φιλόσοφοι φρονοῦσιν, ὅτι τὰ οὐράνια σώματα
εἶναι κόσμοι ὠς <ὁ> ἐδικός μας κόσμος, καὶ ὅτι εἶναι κατοικημένα˙ δὲν ἐνθυμοῦμαι ὅμως ἂν
ἀνέγνωσα, ἢ ἂν ἠκουσα ποτέ, ὅτι καὶ εἰς τοὺς χρόνους τοῦ Ὀρφέως ἦτον γνωστόν.
16 Op. cit, p. 146:
Μὲ ἐφάνη παράξενον διατὶ ὁ φιλόσοφος ἐκεῖνος, ἢ ὁ Ὀρφεύς, εἰς τὸν ὁποῖον ἀποδίδουσι
τὸ τεμάχιον, τὸ ὁποῖον μὲ ἔγραψες λέγει μόνον περὶ τῆς Σελήνης; ἐνῷ ἦτον δυνατόν, ὡς μοὶ
φαίνεται, ὅτι ἀφ’οὗ ἠδυνήθησαν νὰ ἀνακαλύψωσιν ὅτι ἡ Σελήνη εἶναι γῆ, ἔχει πολλὰ ὄρη,
πολλὰς πόλεις, καὶ πολλοὺς οἴκους, νὰ ἠξεύρωσιν ἀκόμη, ὅτι καὶ ὅλα τὰ λοιπὰ [οὐ]ράνια σώματα
εἶναι γαῖαι, εἶναι καὶ αὐτὰ κόσμοι ἔχοντες, ὅσα καὶ ἡ Σελήνη ἔχει.
17 Op. cit., pp. 146-47:
13
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This is the available material in the preserved letters between the brother and the
sister Kairis. In our opinion, this correspondence preserves an interesting case of the
reception of the Orphic tradition. We learn that the philosopher Theophilos Kairis was aware
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of the “Great Moon Hoax”, proving that during the years he stayed at the island of Andros
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directing his Orphanage he had by no means been cut off from what was going on abroad.
He seems to have been convinced of the fact that intelligent life on other planets exists. Of
course, this was not a new idea. The existence of plurality of worlds that might contain extraterrestrial beings is a controversial idea that can be traced in the writings of many modern
European writers prior to Kairis.19 We will only mention the most influential one, Bernard Le
Bovier de Fontenelle’s Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes (1686).20 The work in question has
been translated into Modern Greek (accompanied by a short commentary) by a well-known
representative of the Greek Enlightenment, Panagiotis Kodrikas (Vienna, 1794).21 Another
important figure of Greek Enlightenment, who was actually Kairis’ predecessor at the
Evangelist School in Smyrna, namely Benjamin of Lesvos (1759 or 1762- 1824) also believed
in the existence of life on other planets – and of course had been bitterly attacked for it.22
Here it should perhaps be added that the idea of the plurality of worlds in itself can be traced
in the writings of ancient Greek philosophers.23
Δὲν μὲ φαίνεται μικρόν, οὔτε δύναμαι νὰ πιστεύσω, ὅτι οἱ ἀρχαῖοι φιλόσοφοί μας
ἠδυνήθησαν νὰ ἀνακαλύψωσι χωρὶς τηλεσκοπίων, καὶ διὰ νὰ εἰπῶ οὕτω τυφλοὶ καὶ ψηλαφῶντες,
δι’ ὅσα οἱ σημερινοὶ μόλις, καὶ προϊδεασμένοι ὄντες, διὰ τῶν τηλεσκοπίων ἤρχισαν νὰ
βεβαιοῦνται καὶ νὰ μανθάνωσιν, ὅτι εἶχον δίκαιον.
18 Op. cit., p. 147:
Γράφω, φίλε ἀδελφέ, περὶ πραγμάτων, τὰ ὁποῖα δὲν ἠξεύρω, πλὴν γράφω μόνον διὰ νὰ
κάμω τὸν ἀγαπητὸν ἀδελφόν μου νὰ γελάσῃ (…)
19 See Almond 2006: 163–74.
20 In this work Fontenelle gave a picture of the cosmology of Copernicus, a challenging view for the
era. Thus, it is of no surprise that the early French Enlightenment received it in a most favorable way
and granted it a wide readership.
21 Κοδρικάς 1794. Kodrikas also accepts the cosmological system of Copernicus. What is important for
us is that in his discussion of the plurality of worlds he mentions no Orphic fragment that would
speak for the existence of life on the Moon.
22 See Μουντζούρη 1982: 79.
23 See Leucippus fr. A1 D.-K. (“κόσμους τε ἐκ τούτου ἀπείρους εἶναι καὶ διαλύεσθαι εἰς ταῦτα”) and
fr. A10 D.-K. (“κόσμους δὲ <ὧδε> γίνεσθαι λέγει”); cf. also fr. A21 D.-K. (“Λεύκιππος δὲ καὶ
Δημόκριτος ἀπείρους τῷ πλήθει τοὺς κόσμους ἐν ἀπείρῳ τῷ κενῷ καὶ ἐξ ἀπείρων τῷ πλήθει τῶν
ἀτόμων συνίστασθαί φησι”) and fr. A24a D.-K. (“ὅτι δὲ καὶ τοιοῦτοι κόσμοι εἰσὶν ἄπειροι τὸ
πλῆθος, ἔστι καταλαβεῖν”). The last testimony is important, as it comes from Epicurus’ Letters. For
Democritus see also fr. A1 D.-K. (“ἀπείρους τε εἶναι κόσμους καὶ γενητοὺς καὶ φθαρτούς.”).
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In any case, the 19th century letter we are now referring to shows that Theophilos
Kairis was of the opinion that even if the story attributed to Herschel was not true, what was
important was the fact that both ancient and modern philosophers spoke of the fact. One of
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them was Orpheus. It is interesting to note that Kairis seems to have regarded Orpheus a
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historic person who flourished as early as 2000 B.C. According to Kairis, Orpheus was one of
the many who believed in life existence on the moon. This is why he quoted a relevant
passage, in order to sustain this argument. His sister Evanthia in her turn plead ignorance of
the passage, but knew some things on Orpheus, probably having acquired this knowledge at
some stage of her education. Her letter proves that she was also willing to exchange jokes
with her brother and also to question the credibility of various stories.
Back to the reception of the Orphic tradition in itself, we may wonder if Kairis’
knowledge of the Orphic passage in question was direct or indirect. Even from Antiquity,
but certainly in the middle Ages, the Renaissance and up to the beginning of the 20th century
the learned men’s knowledge of many passages belonging to various ancient writers was
due to the existence of anthologies. Further on, from the mid-18th century histories of
philosophy (and other disciplines) appeared, thus providing the reader with yet another
source. Such being the situation, Kairis may well have found the Orphic passage in an
anthology or in another book.
By Kairis’ time J.J. Brucker‘s Historia critica philosophiae (1st edition Leipzig, 1742-
44) had already had wide readership in Europe.24 From the Greek educated people of the
era who had read and had been influenced by it we will only mention one of the major
representatives of the Greek Enlightenment, Eugenios Voulgaris, who certainly exercised
influence on Kairis on various issues.25 In Brucker’s work the entry on Orphism is found in
Vol. I., pp. 398-399. Kairis could not but have been familiar with such an influential work
It should be noted that Johann Jacob Brucker’s work was initially edited in Leipzig between 1742
and 1744 in five volumes. Its reception was so enthusiastic that a second, six-volume edition (enriched
by an appendix) appeared between the years 1766 and 1767, to be followed by an English translation
of the work by William Enfield in 1791. Johann Jacob Brucker (1696-1770) is nowadays regarded to
have been the father of the history of philosophy; on this issue see Catana 2005: 72-90 and also Catana
2008, passim.
25 For Eugenios Voulgaris in general see Batalden 1983; Bruess 1997; Αγγελομάτη-Τσουγγαράκη 2009.
For Voulgaris’ dependence on Brucker see Demetrakopoulos 2010: 116-19. For Voulgaris’ important
influence on Kairis see Δελλής 2014: 23-50, especially pp. 31-2 where Voulgaris’ influence on Kairis is
presented with the aid of an example including Brucker.
24
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that that been twice edited in Latin and translated into English as well. Given Kairis’ wide
education, it is probable that he might have been familiar with the original edition – yet the
English translation would also do. To cut a long story short, we cannot be sure as to which
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edition Kairis actually consulted – but we can be sure what the source of the Orphic
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quotation is. In the lemma “Orpheus” Brucker quotes the passage Kairis mentions in his
letter. So, there is but little doubt that Kairis found the passage in question when he read
Brucker’s chapter on Orphism. His knowledge of the passage was thus indirect.
But still, the fact that Kairis had indirect knowledge of the passage (and presumably
Orpheus and Orphism) does not eliminate the worth of this 19th century reception of the
Orphic tradition. The Orphic passage in question is thus proven to be a challenging case. It is
true that at this era people could not easily have direct access to manuscripts preserving the
Orphic tradition. Nevertheless, educated people as they were, they certainly knew the name
of Orpheus and some basic characteristics attributed to him (as Evanthia did). Further on,
histories of philosophy of the era were at their disposal – it is not surprising that many
people of the era went through these histories, picking off anything fruitful. In Kairis’ case
the Orphic quotation was taken from Brucker’s history deliberately, in order to enable Kairis
comment on a supposedly scientific matter. The fact that the supposedly scientific matter
was actually a hoax is of minor importance. What is to be noted is the fact that the Orphic
tradition and the supposedly scientific pursuits were combined in the case we have
examined, thus providing us with an interesting piece of the Orphic tradition reception in
the first half of the 19th century.
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New York.
Brucker J. 2005: Historiography on Philosophy, “History and Theory” 44, 72-90.
Bruess G. 1997: Religion, Identity, and Empire. The Southern Frontier in the Russia of
Catherine the Great. East European Monographs 474, New York.
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Catana L. 2008: The Historiographical Concept System of Philosophy: its origin, nature,
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Lumières Françaises envers l’Antiquité grecque, “Δωδώνη” 19/Γ΄, 47-55.
Zervos S. 1989: Les idées révolutionnaires sur l’égalité et les conflits sociaux en Grèce du XIXe
siècle. Le cas d’Adamance Coray. La Révolution française et l’Hellénisme modern. Actes du IIIe
Colloque d'Histoire, Athènes 14-17 octobre 1987. Centre de recherches néohelléniques, Athènes, 26068.
Αγγελομάτη-Τσουγγαράκη Ε. (ed.) 2009: Ευγένιος Βούλγαρης. Πρακτικά Διεθνούς
Επιστημονικού Συνεδρίου, Ιόνιο Πανεπιστήμιο–Τμήμα Ιστορίας, Κέρκυρα, 1-3 Δεκεμβρίου
2006, Athens.
Βουρνάς Τ. 1979: Θεόφιλος Καΐρης, Αθήναι.
Δελλής Ι. 2014: Η μεταθανάτια έκδοση των παραδόσεων του Θεοφίλου Καΐρη στην
Πάτρα, in Θεόφιλος Καΐρης –“Αναψηλαφώντας το βίο του και Ξαναδιαβάζοντας το έργο
του”, Επιστημονικό Συμπόσιο, Άνδρος 16-18 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011, Άνδρος, 23-50.
Κοδρικάς Π. 1794: Ὁμιλίαι περὶ πληθύος κόσμων, Βιέννη.
Κουμαριανού K. 1967: Η ελευθεροφροσύνη του Θεόφιλου Καΐρη, „Εποχές” 46 [repr.
in Α. Κουμαριανού, Καϊρικά μελετήματα, επιμ. Ν. Σινιόσογλου, Άνδρος 2007, 15-69].
Κουμαριανού K. 1993: Καϊρικά ολίγα. Πρακτικά του Α΄ Κυκλαδολογικού Συνεδρίου:
Τα περί Άνδρου (=Ανδριακά Χρονικά, 21), Άνδρος, 87-98.
Κυριακός Ν.Α. 1971: Θεόφιλος Καΐρης, ο νεωτεριστής φιλόσοφος, Αθήναι.
Μανδηλάς Κ. 2002: Ο Θεόφιλος Καΐρης και ο Νεοελληνικός Διαφωτισμός, Αθήνα.
Μουντζούρη Ι. 1982: Βενιαμίν ο Λέσβιος, οι κατήγοροι των ιδεών του και η μεγάλη
εκκλησία, Αθήνα.
Πολέμης Ι.Δ. (ed.) 2003: Αλληλογραφία Θεοφίλου Καΐρη, Μέρος έκτον –
Προσωπογραφικά, Άνδρος, 129-34.
Σινιόσογλου N. 2008: Θεόφιλος Καΐρης. Γνωστική - Στοιχεία Φιλοσοφίας, Άνδρος.
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Summary
This paper is about a challenging case of the reception of Orphic poetry in the 19th
century. We present the use of an Orphic passage by the Greek man of letters Theophilos
www.litant.eu
Kairis (1784-1853) in a supposedly scientific context. Kairis had wide interests and specific
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knowledge on many philosophical and epistemological issues. He was nevertheless close to
becoming one of the victims of “The Great Moon Hoax” of 1835, namely the supposed
discovery of life and even civilization on the Moon falsely attributed to the famous
astronomer Sir John Herschel. Kairis was aware of the situation, as a series of letters
exchanged between him and his sister Evanthia reveals.
In the course of the story’s
exposition he quoted an Orphic passage (fr. 155 Bernabé). It is argued that Kairis’ knowledge
of the Orphic passage in question was in all probability due to the fact that he was familiar
with Brucker’s chapter on Orphism (J.J. Brucker, Historia critica philosophiae, vol. I, Leipzig
1744), where this passage is quoted.
KEYWORDS: Orphic poetry; Theophilos Kairis; the Great Moon Hoax
Christina-Panagiota Manolea, B.A in Classics (University of Athens, 1992), Ph.D. in Classics
(University College London 2002) is lecturing on Greek Civilisation (Hellenic Open
University, 2004 – today). She has also lectured on Rhetoric (University of Patras, 2009-11)
and Philosophy (University of the Peloponnese, 2011-12). She has worked on the reception of
ancient Greek literary tradition in Neoplatonism and the reception of ancient Greek rhetoric
in Byzantine and Modern Greek writers. She is currently editing Brill’s Companion to the
reception of Homer from Hellenistic age to Late Antiquity and also co-editing Brill’s Companion to
the Reception of Homer from Byzantium to the Enlightenment).
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MACIEJ ROSZKOWSKI
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of sixth century Greek philosophers analysed on the basis of the meanings
1
of certain words containing the ἀρχ- root in early Greek poetry1
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The significance of the semantic range of the term ἀρχή in the thought
The author wishes to acknowledge that this article was inspired by the paper of Władysław
Stróżewski, Pytania o arche (ang. The questions about the arche) published in Isnienie i sens (ang. The
Existence and the Sense) in Kraków 1994. The author also wishes to express his thanks to Dr hab. Ewa
Osek for her help in attaining some materials very helpful in writing this article. The author also
wishes to thank Lilian Broca for reading the first draft of this paper and her numerous suggestions
regarding language matters, as well as for Lilian's observation about the loose similarity between the
article's initial thesis about employing the semantic range of "old" words in the newly formed Greek
philosophy, and the revival the Hebrew language. However, it must be stressed that the author, and
only he, is responsible for any errors that might have occurred in the final version of the article. The
author also wishes to take this occasion to thank collectively all the friends and colleges who have
encouraged and supported him in writing this paper.
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
The spider-web-like diagram of the words with an ἀρχ- root
The aim of this paper is to present a classification of the meanings of the term ἀρχή in
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literary sources up to the sixth century B.C., when the first philosophers, i.e. Thales,
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Anaximander and Anaximenes appeared. Although ἀρχή has been a topic of discussion at
least from the times of John Burnet who denied the possibility of its having been an original
Presocratic term and insisted that it was only a word, used by Aristotle and his followers for
the principle of the early Greek philosophers, I feel that this matter did not get its fair share of
attention. Another was to aproach this topis wwas to consider, whether the word ἀρχή
belongs to the earliest philosoophical vocabulary, or is only a concept the Peripatetics
imposed on the Presocratic philosophers because it was familiar to them.2 To allow for a
better understanding of the semantic range of the term ἀρχή, I investigate the presented
analysis of various meanings of certain words with the ἀρχ- root, most notably ἄρχειν (ind
praes. act. ἄρχω) from whose verb-stem the noun ἀρχή is formed. Since this analysis starts
at a junction of etymology, poetry and philosophy, a brief introduction about word-building
will be helpful. John William Donaldson has made some observations that I find ideal as a
point of departure for our investigation:
In a language, which, like the Greek, admits of inflexion and composition without
limit, we find in every word that expresses a conception, whether it be a noun or a
verb, some prefix, suffix, or both, common to it, and to a great number of other
words, from which it essentially differs in meaning; and, when these adjuncts are
removed, there generally remains, if the word be not a compound, some single
syllable which constitutes its meaning, and which again, with occasional slight
modifications, runs through another set of words, differing from the one in
question in prefix, suffix, or both, but agreeing with it in the fundamental
signification.3
These elements of fundamental significance of which Donaldson speaks are called roots, but
we must be careful not to consider them either as something that can exist separately or as
something from which words are derived, even though every inflected word has
2
3
See Stokes 1971: 24, 27-28.
Donaldson 1959: 387.
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a fundamental part called a stem, to which various letters and syllables are appended to form
numbers, tenses, etc. Most of them contain a more primitive element than a stem, viz. the root.
Words may be either simple, when formed from a single stem, e.g. λόγ-ο-ς (stem λεγ-) or
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γράφ-ω (stem γράφ-) and called primitives if formed directly from a root or a verb-stem; or
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compound, when formed from at least two stems, e.g. λογο-γράφ-ος. If words are formed
immediately from verb-stems, they are called verbals, e.g. ἀρχή from the stem of ἄρχ-ω,
while those formed from noun-stems are called denominatives, e.g. ἀρχα-ῖο-ς from the stem
of ἀρχή, i.e. ἀρχᾱ-. The descriptor verbal, however, is frequently applied to primitive words,
because generally their roots or stems occur as verb-stems. J. Hadley notes that in the
relationship between suffix and a stem, the former limits the latters’s general idea by
restricting the ways it can manifest itself.4 Frank Cole Babbit used a very appealing metaphor
for the root of the word, calling it the perfume of a flower that does not have a separate and
“solid” existence but suggests the word’s meaning:
The root of a word, like the perfume of a flower, has no separate, tangible
existence. It merely suggests the meaning of a word or group of words. Only when
united with inflectional endings (and usually a suffix as well) does it receive
definite form and meaning, and become a full-blown word.5
A particular root frequently appears in numerous different words formed from it in
various ways and such words are commonly said to establish a word-group, e.g. γράφ-ω –
mark, draw; γραφ-ή – a writing, γραφ-ε-ύς – painter, writer, γραφ-ι-κ-ός – able to write,
suited for painting.6 Among the words formed from the root ἀρχ- we have the verb ἂρχειν,
verbals: ἀρχός and ἀρχή, and denominatives such as ἀρχαῖος. After reading an entry about
the ἀρχή in G. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and learning that this
word has been often fairly automatically used in the Septuagint for the Hebrew word vaor
[rosh] I began to look for possible parallels between these terms. A comparative analysis
revealed that the Hebrew word has meanings very similar to the Greek terms ἀρχός – head,
4
See Goodman 1892: 184; Hadley 1905: 189.
Babbit 1902: 159.
6
See Babbit 1902: 159; Goodwin 1892: 184-5. I use the indirect article “a” with writing to indicate that the word
is a noun and not a gerund verb.
5
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chief, leader and ἀρχή – beginning though the Hebrew term refers to the head in both the
literal and metaphorical senses.7
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Thanks to a a friend who outlined to me the vocabulary problems arising during the
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revival of the Hebrew language in the 19th and 20th centuries, I found a new inspiration for
my work on the use of the term ἀρχή by the first Greek philosophers. From the time of the
revival of Hebrew in the 19th century (most notably by Eliezer Ben Yehudah), the people
working for its restoration had to deal with the “designative inadequacy” of the vocabulary
preserved in classical texts for the demands of modern daily life.8 For example, words like
“newspaper”, “kitchen” and “watch” which now belong to basic Hebrew, were not present in
the language of the classical texts; thus, they could not have been expressed in Hebrew before
the revival. To fill this gap, the restorers decided on a program of planned innovation to
produce the needed new words in compliance with the character of the language and the
project of reviving a language that would be a unifying factor stressing the common tradition
and heritage of all Jews.9
One of the methods of broadening the vocabulary was to ascribe new meaning to the
old words. For example. a biblical word for a snare or a trap - VQAAM [mokesh] is now used to
mean a device that explodes on contact (a mine). This method is not without its faults, since it
may produce certain misconceptions in the minds of children reading the Bible.10 In this case
we may observe some general similarity between the mines and snares, because they are both
stationary devices designed for disabling someone or something.
When the scholars working on the restoration of the Hebrew language could not find
a word to name some new thing or phenomenon, they would devise a new word from an
existing root “according to the rules of derivation and on the basis of analogy”. An interesting
example is the word lmvx [chashmal] which was used in biblical Hebrew to name a shiny
substance, for instance an amalgam of gold and silver, as well as amber, translated into Greek
as ἤλεκτρον [electron] as in Ez. 1:4 where it has been suggested that chashmal is a kind of
7
See s.v. ἀρχή in: Kittel─Friedrich. See s.v. vaor in Gessenius 1906: 910-911. Cf. Tregelles 1898: 238.
In this case the name “classical” refers to the Hebrew Bible - Tanach, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ben Sira, and the
ancient inscriptions – the list of Hebrew classical texts from Clines 2008.
9
See
Tene
1969:
48-63.
Republished
by
D.
Steinberg
on:
http://www.adathshalom.ca/israeli_hebrew_tene.htm#renov_vocab
10
See
Kutscher
1969:
64-74.
Republished
by
D.
Steinberg
on:
http://www.adathshalom.ca/hebrew_words_history.htm#broadening5
8
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power, brightness or lightning.11 It is now being used to denote electricity or electric current,
not that much of a leap since if both the Greek and the Hebrew word referred to amber, the
capacity of producing a static electric charge after being rubbed by a fabric might have been
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responsible for the association of these words with electricity.
If ancient words could be used to name the phenomena of the modern world by means
of creative association, we need not doubt that a similar process was taking place in the sixth
century B.C. when a word with a long history may have been used to convey a novel idea
within a newborn philosophy.
About the method
In order for this account to be as meticulous as possible the systematic classification
will preside over the chronological. The abundant passages display two main facets of the
verb ἄρχειν corresponding with its different meanings in the active and medial voices. On the
one hand it means “to order, to command”, on the other “to start, to begin”.
Although Homer and Hesiod are considered in this article first, while Eumelus, Solon,
Tyrtaeus and the others next, they are all regarded as archaic and pre-philosophical poets.
This analysis allows us to examine whether the semantic range of primitives formed with an
ἀρχ- root is extensive enough for the early Greek philosophers to have used the word ἀρχή as
a primary philosophical term. It seems reasonable to suppose that a word with such a long
history and a wide semantic range was ideal for making a (hypothetical) explicative definition
of something primary and originative in the dawn of Greek philosophy. I find this conjecture
more probable than the one sustaining that the ancient philosophers of the so called Milesian
school introduced a word already in use with a meaning completely different from the old
one, as the case would be with a stipulative definition.12
11
See s.v. lmvx in Gessenius 1898: 365; Tregelles 1898: 97.
The purpose of a stipulative definition is to introduce a meaning of a new word to the community, i.e., the way
it should be understood in a certain context by language-users, or to use an ‘old’ word in a completely new
meaning. By contrast, an explicative definition does not only introduce a new meaning of a word already in use
but also retains some of the word’s primal meaning. See Belnap 1993: 117. A good example would be the use of
the common world “salt” in chemistry to name not only the table salt, i.e. sodium chloride (NaCl) but also a
whole group of ionic compounds composed of cations (positive ions) and anions (negative ions), such as
Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which is found, among others, in lime-stone and chalk. The 17th century Dutch
chemist J. B. van Helmont coined the term “gas” to express the novel idea of something rarer than water by
manipulating the Greek word χάος [chaos] (which in Greek meant, yawn, “empty space”), as in Dutch g = [χ].
See Chadwick 1996: 22.
12
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When the analysis of different instances of ἄρχειν, ἀρχή and other related words
with an ἀρχ- root began13 it was felt that a simple linear model of classification would
emphasize the differences among the various meanings while obscuring the similarities as
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well as inhibiting the reader’s ability to establish the diachronic scheme of the various
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meanings, which from necessity must rely only on approximations and an arbitrary
classification. Any attempt to develop a better account of the meanings associated with the
verb ἄρχειν requires taking steps to avoid the difficulties of a dictionary-like division
introducing a dis-united picture of the word’s meaning.
An inspiration for the development of a model that would allow for the preservation of
the balance between disjunction of the term’s meanings (used in lexicons) and their unity
(associated with the use of a language), came with an essay Semantics and Vocabulary by
Michael Clarke, published in A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language. This author
argued, in full concord with John Chadwick, that the semantic range of words should not be
analyzed as a two-dimensional configuration of a tree with a root, trunk and branches, but as
nothing less than a three-dimensional structure that allows for branch-meanings to diverge at
one point only to converge at another.14 The objections raised by J. Chadwick proved very
difficult to meet in an article that by its very structure was two-dimensional. I hope that
employing the spider-web-like scheme will make the abundant semantic range of the words
under scrutiny, easier to present. In this scheme, ἄρχειν and other words with the ἀρχ- root
form a network - eight knots of connected meanings akin to one another. They are numbered
counter-clockwise.
Some introductory remarks about ἄρχειν and its relation to ἀρχή
According to P. Chantraine’s etymological dictionary Dictionnaire étymologique de la
langue grecque - Histoire des mots the verb ἄρχειν is very common in Greek from Homer to
koine and even in Modern Greek. Although its etymology is not certain, it seems at first to
have meant: “walking first”, “taking the lead”, “starting”, “taking initiative”, etc.15 This verb
13
See Mendes da Costa 1905: 36. This index lists the following words as formed from the ἀρχ root (with the
exclusion of proper names): ἄρχω, ἀρχέκακος, ἀπαρχομαι, ἐξάρχω, ἐπάρχομαι, κατάρχομαι,
ὑπάρχω, ἄργμα, ἀρχός, ἄναρχος, ἔξαρχος, ἀρχή, ἀρχεύω.
14
See Clarke 2010: 124, Chadwick 1996: 12
15
See s.v. ἄρχω in: Chantraine 1968: I 119-121. The meanings of the words ἀρχή and ἄρχω were confronted
with Liddell─Scott─Jones 1996: 252, 254., and build on its “frame”.
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is often used with prepositions ἐκ and ἀπό, e.g. ἐκ παίδων ἀρξάμενοι (e.g. ἀρξάμενοι ἐκ
παίδων Plato, Hippias Maior 296 c 4; ἀπὸ παιδίων ἀρξάμενοι Herodotus, Historiae
3.12.10, ἀπὸ παίδων ἀρξάμενοι Xenophoon, Cyropaedia 1.5.11.2.) meaning “starting”.
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It is also frequently accompanied by a participle and the infinitive. Used with participle,
ἄρχεσθαι means being in the process of commencing a certain action (as opposed to being at
the end or in the middle of it), or that the means, by which a certain activity is being
performed, should be given. If used with an infinitive, it means “to begin”, “to take the first
step” in doing something, for example. ἄρχομαι λέγων means “I begin my speech” while
ἄρχομαι λέγειν means “I start speaking” (Thucydides I. 107. 5: ἤρξαντο δὲ κατὰ τοὺς
χρόνους τούτους καὶ τὰ μακρὰ τείχη Ἀθηναῖοι ἐς θάλασσαν οἰκοδομεῖν; ἤρξαντο
περαιοῦσθαιναυσὶν επ᾿ ἀλλήλους, cf. πόθεν ἤρξατό σε διδάσκειν τὴν
στρατηγίαν).16 In the case of this verb, the voice used acknowledges the participation of the
subject. Homer, for instance, seems to have favoured the active voice of ἄρχειν meaning “to
order”, perhaps originally in a military sense, cf. Homer, Iliad XVI. 65. The verb ἄρχειν is
generally used with a genitive, more rarely with a dative. In Homer the verb is sometimes
accompanied by the preposition ἐν. It also can create verbs with ἐν-, ἀπ- (rarely), κατ-,
προσ-, συν- e.g. the verb ἐνάρχομαι, “to start a sacrifice” occurrs in Euripides
(Iphigenia in Aulis v. 965, 1470, Helena v. 1142) and Aeschines (3.120). This verb and its
derivatives are possibly very old, Mycenaean.17
The noun ἀρχή, formed from the verb-stem of ἄρχειν18, reflects this verb’s two
different meanings in its medial and active voices - “to begin” and “to order” and of these
two, the meaning of “to begin” is older. Numerous inscriptions describing military units use
the possibly Mycenaean word, orkhā (= ἀρχή) in the meaning of “command”.19
I. The semantic analysis of ἄρχειν and ἀρχός in early Greek poetry
The following investigation allows for a systematic division of the verb’s different meanings
while not sacrificing the unity of this word’s semantic range. The idea is to some extent
16
See Chantraine 1968: I 119; Kuhner─Gerth 1904: 75.
See Chadwick─Baumbach 1963: 177. Cf. Beekes 2010: I 145.
18
The basic forms of this verb ἄρχω: fut. ἄρξω, imperf. ἤρχον, aor. ἤρξα, aor. pass. ἤρχθην, perf. ἤρχα,
pass. ἤργμαι; part. ἄρχμενος.
19
See Chadwick─Baumbach 1963: 177. Cf. Chantraine 1968: I 121,
17
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influenced by John Austin’s conception of the nuclear meaning of the word, i.e. the meaning
most characteristic for the term in contrast to the meaning still adequate but not being the best
example of its use.20 In this analysis I venture to examine even these less representative
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instances in hopes of discovering the semantic range of ἄρχειν and its verbals that the first
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philosophers could have had in mind when employing the term ἀρχή in their study of nature.
Acting first
The examination of textual evidence about the meanings of ἄρχειν begins with its two basic
meanings, i.e. ”to walk first” and “to order, to command”, however, a word of explanation is
in order to justify such a connection. From the epic of Homer to the narrations of Herodotus
and Thucydides as well as later authors like Plutarch and Arrian, the Greek idea of command
was literally to be at the head of one’s forces and to take an active role in the events by setting
an example of how to fight.21 For this reason it is not always easy to distinguish the simple
“walking first” from “leading or commanding” since in early Greek poetry leading men into
battle was always connected with walking first while walking first did not always imply
commanding. So not to sacrifice the unity of the various meanings of ἄρχειν for clarity, I list
in the “walking first” category the instances in which it is not explicitly stated or implied that
leading has a military purpose, while I place in the “to command, to order” category the
instances in which the military context is evident.
1. To walk first
When Nestor, the lord of Pylos had said his piece and left the counsel, the other kings
followed (Homer, Iliad II. 84).22 A more straightforward example is when Helen goes unseen
by the Trojan women because the goddess was leading her (Homer, Iliad III. 420).23
20
See Austin 1970:. 27, 71; Lakoff 1990: 18.
See Wheeler 1996: 121, 128, cf. Plutarch Moralia. 187 B. If not stated otherwise, the context of the passages
cited in ancient Greek has only been introduced, not translated. In all these paraphrases I use the Present Tense
regardless of the tense in Greek.
22
Here Homer uses a verb ἔξαρχειν: Ὣς ἄρα φωνήσας βουλῆς ἐξῆρχε νέεσθαι. All emphasis, if not
stated otherwise, should be regarded as my way of highlighting relevant words. If not stated otherwise,
all italicized text referring to the Greek text should be regarded as my translations.
23
Helen thus walked out following the goddess: σιγῇ, πάσας δὲ Τρῳὰς λάθεν· ἦρχε δὲ δαίμων. Cf.
Homer, Iliad XVIII. 606 where two tumblers whirl up and down among the people gathered leading the dance,
or beginning the performance: μολπῆς ἐξάρχοντες ἐδίνευον κατὰ μέσσους (Cf. Homer, Odyssey IV. 19:
μολπῆς ἐξάρχοντος, ἐδίνευον κατὰ μέσσους).
21
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In Iliad III. 437 Paris leads the way to bed and Helen follows24. Frequently in Homer there are
situations in which the characters say something and then lead the way for others. When
Patroclos reproached Merion for exchanging to many harsh words with Aeneas instead of
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exchanging blows, he says that battles are won by deeds accomplished with the hands while
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words win in counsel. After saying this the son of Menoitios leads the way and Merion
follows (Homer, Iliad XVI. 631-632).25 The formula used to confirm that after speaking the
character leads the way for others can also be found in: Iliad XI. 472 and XV. 559: ὣς εἰπὼν
ὃ μὲν ἦρχ᾽, ὃ δ᾽ ἅμ᾽ ἕσπετο ἰσόθεος φώς.26 Twice (Homer, Odyssey II. 416 and III. 12)
Homer speaks of Telemachus who goes aboard a ship led by Athena: ἂν δ᾽ ἄρα Τηλέμαχος
νηὸς βαῖν᾽, ἦρχε δ᾽ Ἀθήνη. Odysseus weighs out ten full talents of gold and leads the
young Achaeans back; they carry the other gifts (Iliad XVIII. 148).27 Calypso gives Odysseus
a well-made adze and leads the way: δῶκε δ᾽ ἔπειτα σκέπαρνον ἐύξοον· ἦρχε δ᾽ ὁδοῖο.
This group of meanings refers to the simplest case of this verb’s spatial reference. As noted
before, however, there are certain points where it is very difficult to say whether the leading is
more like walking first or commanding, as when Zeus leads the gods back to Olympus
(Iliad. I. 495): πάντες ἅμα, Ζεὺς δ᾿ ἦρχε· Θέτις δ᾿ οὐ λήθετ᾿ ἐφετμέων . When
Hermes leads the spirits of the suitors, they follow him squeaking (Odyssey XXIV. 9).28 He is
as much leading them as commanding them since he is not only showing them the way to
Hades, but also forcing them to comply with his wishes by his staff, the caduceus.29 It is
24
Homer Homer, Iliad III. 447. Ἦ ῥα, καὶ ἄρχε λέχος δὲ κιών· ἅμα δ᾽ εἵπετ᾽ ἄκοιτις
Homer, Iliad XVI. 632:
τὼ οὔ τι χρὴ μῦθον ὀφέλλειν, ἀλλὰ μάχεσθαι.
ὣς εἰπὼν ὃ μὲν ἦρχ᾽, ὃ δ᾽ ἅμ᾽ ἕσπετο ἰσόθεος φώς.
26
This leading and walking in front of those who follow raises immediate questions about the difference
between ἄρχειν and ἄγειν, since the latter also has the meaning of leading. The only significant difference I
can find is that although both verbs can be used for leading men or animals, only ἄγειν has the meaning of
carrying, bringing (e.g. Iliad V. 486, Homer, Odyssey I. 184, XV. 159), or fetching, bringing forward
(Odyssey XVII. 576).
27
Homer, Iliad XVIII. 148: ἦρχ᾽, ἅμα δ᾽ ἄλλοι δῶρα φέρον κούρητες Ἀχαιῶν. Cf. Homer, Odyssey
X 205.
28
Although both ἄρχειν and ἄγειν designate leading, the latter is used for leading both animals and men, the
former applies only to men or gods.
29
Hermes leads the spirits and they were squeaking Homer, Odyssey XXIV. 9: ὣς αἱ τετριγυῖαι ἅμ᾽ ἤϊσαν·
ἦρχε δ᾽ ἄρα σφιν.The two verbs (ἄγειν and ἄρχειν) appear together in Homer, Odyssey VIII. 104-108,
when Alkinoos proposes to show his guest the degree of excellence the Phaeacians reach in all sort of games.
Thus the king leads the way (ἡγήσατο – ind. aor.mid. 3 sg of ἄγειν) while the others follow, the servant hangs
Demodocos’ lyre on a peg, takes his hand and leads him from the hall. The servant starts Demodocos on the way
(ἦρχε – ind. imperf. act. 3 sg of ἄρχειν), so that he too can see the contest:
ὣς ἄρα φωνήσας ἡγήσατο, τοὶ δ᾽ ἅμ᾽ ἕποντο.
25
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worth noting, that once in Homer the verb ἄρχειν occurs as meaning ‘to order’ and a
derivative of ἄγειν, viz. ἐξηγέομαι as meaning “to lead” (Iliad II. 805 sq).30
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2. To order, to command
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In the Iliad and the Odysey, the warrior-chiefs commanded their men by fighting in the first
rank. Only the bravery of a leader can effectively encourage the warriors to fight, so that the
chief is literally leading them into battle. This circumstance was very prominent in the
encounters between the Greeks who were led by their leaders and the Persians, who were
supposedly forced into battle by the slashing whips of their masters, or out of fear of
displeasing their king (Herodotus, Historiae VII. 56.103.4, 104.4). Homer gives us many
examples of men commanding ships of war (Homer, Iilias II. 576, 713, 718, Odyssey
XIV. 230), so marching at the head of your men does not always signify commanding.31 Since
Homer’s heroes often lead warriors, even if they were aged men (Homer, Iliad II. 622, 623,
XII 93, XII. 98, XVI 174, 196, Odyssey. XIV. 471), so it seems that the idea of leading was
based to a lesser degree on strength than on respect.32 Besides those who occur as leaders just
κὰδ δ᾽ ἐκ πασσαλόφι κρέμασεν φόρμιγγα λίγειαν,
Δημοδόκου δ᾽ ἕλε χεῖρα καὶ ἔξαγεν ἐκ μεγάροιο
κῆρυξ· ἦρχε δὲ τῷ αὐτὴν ὁδὸν ἥν περ οἱ ἄλλοι
Φαιήκων οἱ ἄριστοι, ἀέθλια θαυμανέοντες.
It seems that these two verbs are sometimes used interchangeably since ἄγειν as an absolute is mainly attested in
military language. See s. v. ἄγω in Chantraine 1968: I 17.
30
Homer, Iliad II. 805 sq. Disguised as Politades Iris tells Hector that Priam’s allies should be commanded by
their own leaders and that the assembled citizens should be led by them to battle:
τοῖσιν ἕκαστος ἀνὴρ σημαινέτω οἷσί περ ἄρχει,
τῶν δ᾽ ἐξηγείσθω κοσμησάμενος πολιήτας
31
Homer, Iliad II 713. Dear son of Admetos leads eleven of their ships:
τῶν ἦρχ᾽ Ἀδμήτοιο φίλος πάϊς ἕνδεκα νηῶν
Homer, Iliad II. 718. Philoktetes lead seven ships:
τῶν δὲ Φιλοκτήτης ἦρχεν τόξων ἐῢ εἰδὼς.
ἑπτὰ νεῶν· ἐρέται δ᾽ ἐν ἑκάστῃ πεντήκοντα
Homer, Odyssey XIV. 230. Odysseus had commanded men and swift-sailing ships nine times:
εἰνάκις ἀνδράσιν ἦρξα καὶ ὠκυπόροισι νέεσσιν.
32
The list of passages:
Homer, Iliad II. 622, 623. Amarynkeus' son, Diores commands ten more and Polyxeinos the fourth ten:
τῶν δ᾽ Ἀμαρυγκεΐδης ἦρχε κρατερὸς Διώρης
τῶν δὲ τετάρτων ἦρχε Πολύξεινος θεοειδὴς
Homer, Iliad XII. 98. Aeneias commands the fourth group:
τῶν δὲ τετάρτων ἦρχεν ἐῢς πάϊς Ἀγχίσαο
Homer, lias XII. 93. Paris commands the next group with Alkethnos and Agenor:
τῶν δ᾽ ἑτέρων Πάρις ἦρχε καὶ Ἀλκάθοος καὶ Ἀγήνωρ
Homer, Odyssey XIV. 471. Menelaus tells Telemachus that he commanded the third part of the forces:
τοῖσι δ᾽ ἅμα τρίτος ἄρχον ἐγών· αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἄνωγον
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once (e.g. Penelaos and Leitos, Shedios and Epistophos, Asclepiades. Philocrates), some
heroes regularly lead troops into battle: Agamemnon (Homer, Iliad IX. 69; XIV. 134),
Achilles (Homer, Odyssey. III. 109), Odysseus (Homer, Iliad. II. 636, Odyssey X. 205; XII.
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266) and Hector (Iliad XIII. 136, Iliad. XIII. 784, Iliad. XV. 306, Iliad XVI. 552; XVII. 107;
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XVII. 262) as well as certain gods: Poseidon (Iliad XIV. 384) and Ares (Iliad V. 592 and
XVIII. 516 along with Pallas Athena).
We may suspect that the verb ἄρχειν could sometimes signify a request, and not
always an order, because when Zeus tells Athena to make the Trojans the first offenders and
oathbreakers (Iliad IV. 67, 72), he does not have to force his will on her since she hates the
Trojans with all her heart.33
a) To lead
Homer often mentions heroes leading people of a particular land or tribe (Homer, Iliad
II. 494, 517, 756, 819, 826, 856, 858; XIII. 690; XVI. 65)34.
Homer, Iliad XVI 174. One battalion was commanded by Menethios:
τῆς μὲν ἰῆς στιχὸς ἦρχε Μενέσθιος αἰολοθώρηξ
Homer, Iliad XVI 196. Phoinix, the aged horseman commands the third battalion:
τῆς δὲ τετάρτης ἦρχε γέρων ἱππηλάτα Φοῖνιξ
33 Homer, Iliad IV 67, 72: ἄρξωσι πρότεροι ὑπὲρ ὅρκια δηλήσασθαι
34
Homer, Iliad II. 494. Peitios and Penelaos lead the Boiotians:
Βοιωτῶν μὲν Πηνέλεως καὶ Λήϊτος ἦρχον
Homer, Iliad II. 517. Schedios and Epistophos lead the men of Phokis:
Αὐτὰρ Φωκήων Σχεδίος καὶ Ἐπίστροφος ἦρχον
Homer, Iliad II. 756. Prothoös son of Tenthredon lead the Magnesians:
Μαγνήτων δ᾽ ἦρχε Πρόθοος Τενθρηδόνος υἱός
Homer, Iliad II. 819. The strong son of Anchises is the leader of the Dardanians:
Δαρδανίων αὖτ᾽ ἦρχεν ἐῢς πάϊς Ἀγχίσαο
Homer, Iliad II. 826. The shining son of Lykaon leads the Trojans:
Τρῶες, τῶν αὖτ᾽ ἦρχε Λυκάονος ἀγλαὸς υἱὸς.
Homer, Iliad.II. 856. Odios and Episophos lead the Helizones:
Αὐτὰρ Ἁλιζώνων Ὀδίος καὶ Ἐπίστροφος ἦρχον
Homer, Iliad.II. 858. Chromis, with Ennomos the augur lead the Mysians:
Μυσῶν δὲ Χρόμις ἦρχε καὶ Ἔννομος οἰωνιστής.
Homer, Iliad II. 876. Sarpedon with Glaukus lead the Lykians:
Σαρπηδὼν δ᾽ ἦρχεν Λυκίων καὶ Γλαῦκος ἀμύμων
Homer, Iliad XIII. 690. Menesthenos son of Peteo leads the Athenians along with other men:
ἦρχ᾽ υἱὸς Πετεῶο Μενεσθεύς, οἳ δ᾽ ἅμ᾽ ἕποντο
Φείδας τε Στιχίος τε Βίας τ᾽ ἐΰς· αὐτὰρ Ἐπειῶν
Φυλεΐδης τε Μέγης Ἀμφίων τε Δρακίος τε,
πρὸ Φθίων δὲ Μέδων τε μενεπτόλεμός τε Ποδάρκης.
Homer, Iliad XVI. 65. Patroclos leads the Myrmidons who delight in battle into fighting!:
ἄρχε δὲ Μυρμιδόνεσσι φιλοπτολέμοισι μάχεσθαι
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b) To rule, to govern, to be the head (chief)
The verb ἄρχειν also signifies the prerogatives of a ruler. As stated before, we must be
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conscious that Homer knows no special distinction between the power to lead the troops into
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battle and the nonmilitary power to govern the kingdom. Since the heroic age was the time of
almost perpetual danger from robbers, pirates and hostile neighbors, providing security for the
subjects and their possessions was the ruler’s main function.
3. To be the head (chief)
Frequently in Homer the noun ἀρχός (derived from the verb-stem of ἄρχω) signifies a ruler
(Homer, Iliad II. 234, 236. 541, 685, 703, 778, 846; IV. 205, 464, V. 39, 577; XIV. 426,
XV 337, 516, 519; Odyssey IV. 653; VIII. 162; X. 204).35 According to P. Chantraine’s
Hesiod, Scutum 26. The good son of Alcaeus leads them:
ἦρχε δὲ τοῖσιν ἐὺς πάις Ἀλκαίοιο
35
Homer, Iliad II. 233- 234. It is not right for their leader to bring the sons of the Achaeans into distress:
ἥν τ᾽ αὐτὸς ἀπονόσφι κατίσχεαι; οὐ μὲν ἔοικεν
ἀρχὸν ἐόντα κακῶν ἐπιβασκέμεν υἷας Ἀχαιῶν.
Homer, Iliad II. 540 sq. Elephenor, scion of Ares, son of Chalkodontiais and the lord of Abantes:
τῶν αὖθ᾽ ἡγεμόνευ᾽ Ἐλεφήνωρ ὄζος Ἄρηος
Χαλκωδοντιάδης μεγαθύμων ἀρχὸς Ἀβάντων.
Homer, Iliad II. 685. Achilles is the lord of the troops from Phthia:
Μυρμιδόνες δὲ καλεῦντο καὶ Ἕλληνες καὶ Ἀχαιοί,
τῶν αὖ πεντήκοντα νεῶν ἦν ἀρχὸς Ἀχιλλεύς.
Homer, Iliad II. 702, 725. Although the Myrmidons are not leaderless, because Achilles is still alive, they all
miss their chief.
Οὐδὲ μὲν οὐδ᾽ οἳ ἄναρχοι ἔσαν, πόθεόν γε μὲν ἀρχόν
Homer, Iliad II. 778 sq. The men forsaken by their war-like leader, [i.e. Achilles], are trotting back and forth
through the camp and fought not:
… οἳ δ᾽ ἀρχὸν ἀρηΐφιλον ποθέοντες
φοίτων ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα κατὰ στρατὸν οὐδὲ μάχοντο.
Homer, llias II. 846. Euphtomos is the leader of the Kikonian spearmen:
Εὔφημος δ᾽ ἀρχὸς Κικόνων ἦν αἰχμητάων
Homer, Iliad IV. 205. The Achaeans’ leader, Menelaus was shot by someone skilled in the use of a bow:
… ἴδῃς Μενέλαον ἀρήϊον ἀρχὸν Ἀχαιῶν,
ὅν τις ὀϊστεύσας ἔβαλεν τόξων ἐῢ εἰδὼς
Homer, Iliad IV. 464. Elephenor is a lord of the Abantes:
Τὸν δὲ πεσόντα ποδῶν ἔλαβε κρείων Ἐλεφήνωρ
Χαλκωδοντιάδης μεγαθύμων ἀρχὸς Ἀβάντων,
Homer, Iliad V. 39. Agamemnon is the lord of men:
ἡγεμόνων· πρῶτος δὲ ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν Ἀγαμέμνων
ἀρχὸν Ἁλιζώνων Ὀδίον μέγαν ἔκβαλε δίφρου·
Homer, Iliad V. 577. He is the leader of the Paphlagonian men in armour:
ἀρχὸν Παφλαγόνων μεγαθύμων ἀσπιστάων.
Homer, Iliad XIV. 426. Sarpedon is the leader of the Likians:
Σαρπηδών τ᾽ ἀρχὸς Λυκίων καὶ Γλαῦκος ἀμύμων
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Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque. Histoire des mots, the term ἀρχός has not
survived in Ionic and Attic Greek in the Homeric sense of “commander”, but has a good
chance of being an euphemism for the idea of “beginning” and a “foundation”.36 Twice in the
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charge of something or someone” (Homer, Iliad I. 144, 311).37
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Iliad we find expressions consisting of ἀρχός and a preposition, meaning “being put in
Homer, Iliad XV. 337. Iasos is being appointed leader of the Achaeans:
Ἴασος αὖτ᾽ ἀρχὸς μὲν Ἀθηναίων ἐτέτυκτο
Homer, Iliad XV. 516. Hector kills Schedios, the lord (ἀρχὸν) of the Phokianc and the Aias kills Laomedon, the
leader (ἡγεμών) of the foot-soldiers:
ἀρχὸν Φωκήων, Αἴας δ᾽ ἕλε Λαοδάμαντα
ἡγεμόνα πρυλέων Ἀντήνορος ἀγλαὸν υἱόν
Homer, Iliad XV. 519. Polydamas is stripping the armour of Otos, lord of the Epeians:
Φυλεΐδεω ἕταρον, μεγαθύμων ἀρχὸν Ἐπειῶν.
Homer, Odyssey IV. 653. Oddyseus has seen Mentor come aboard the ship as a leader of men already on board:
οἵ οἱ ἕποντ᾽· ἐν δ᾽ ἀρχὸν ἐγὼ βαίνοντ᾽ ἐνόησα
Μέντορα, ἠὲ θεόν, τῷ δ᾽ αὐτῷ πάντα ἐᾐκει.
Homer, Odyssey VIII. 162. Odysseus scolds Eurylaus for not considering him an athlete but rather a captain of
sailors who are traders:
ἀλλὰ τῷ, ὅς θ᾽ ἅμα νηὶ πολυκλήιδι θαμίζων,
ἀρχὸς ναυτάων οἵ τε πρηκτῆρες ἔασιν,
φόρτου τε μνήμων καὶ ἐπίσκοπος ᾖσιν ὁδαίων
κερδέων θ᾽ ἁρπαλέων· οὐδ᾽ ἀθλητῆρι ἔοικας."
τὸν δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ὑπόδρα ἰδὼν προσέφη πολύμητις Ὀδυσσεύς
Homer, Odyssey X. 204. Odysseus assigned to both of the groups a leader:
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ δίχα πάντας ἐυκνήμιδας ἑταίρους
ἠρίθμεον, ἀρχὸν δὲ μετ᾽ ἀμφοτέροισιν ὄπασσα·
τῶν μὲν ἐγὼν ἦρχον, τῶν δ᾽ Εὐρύλοχος θεοειδής.
36
Chantraine 1968: I 120.
37
Homer, Iliad I. 144. Odysseus is put in charge of Chriseis during her trip home:
θείομεν, ἂν δ᾿ αὐτὴν Χρυσηΐδα καλλιπάρῃον
βήσομεν· εἷς δέ τις ἀρχὸς ἀνὴρ βουληφόρος ἔστω,
ἢ Αἴας ἢ Ἰδομενεὺς ἢ δῖος Ὀδυσσεὺς
ἠὲ σὺ, Πηλεΐδη, πάντων ἐκπαγλότατ᾿ ἀνδρῶν,
Homer, Iliad I. 311. Odysseus is in charge of Chriseis:
βῆσε θεῷ, ἀνὰ δὲ Χρυσηΐδα καλλιπάρῃον
εἷσεν ἄγων· ἐν δ᾿ ἀρχὸς ἔϐη πολύμητις Ὀδυσσεύς.
Tyrtaeus Fr. 10. 16. The poet warns the youths not to allow fear and shameful flight to control their actions. I
tried to convey this meaning by an expression “not to give in”, i.e. the poet wants the warriors to have the power
over these shameful impulses, the capacity to resist them. My translation:
O youths, fight standing fast by one another,
Neither give in to a shameful flight, nor to fear
But forge a great and stout heart in your breast.
ὦ νέοι, ἀλλὰ μάχεσθε παρ' ἀλλήλοισι μένοντες,
μηδὲ φυγῆς αἰσχρῆς ἄρχετε μηδὲ φόβου,
ἀλλὰ μέγαν ποιεῖτε καὶ ἄλκιμον ἐν φρεσὶ θυμόν
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a) To have power
In this case the analysis is focused the meaning ascribed to a noun ἀρχή in early Greek
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poetry. As we have already seen the verb ἄρχειν can have the meaning of leading,
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commanding and governing, so it should not be surprising that the noun derived from it, viz
ἀρχή has the meaning of power or even a dominion in certain Greek poets: Eumelus of
Corinth (ca. VII cent. B.C.), Solon of Athens (ca. VII-VI cent.), Archilochus (ca. VII cent.)
and Tyrtaeus (ca. VII cent.).38
38
Chronology according to West 2008: X, XV. Eumelus, Corinthica F 3b, 451, F fragment 1a, 6 (Paus. 2.1.1).
However, one must be advised to exercise caution in respect to the fragments of Eumelus because they are
preserved only by a late author, Pausanias (ca. II cent. A.D). In his Corinthian history (and Pausanias has doubts
if it can be called this way) Eumelus tells us about Marathon, son of Epopeos who comes to Peloponnesus after
the death of his father and distributes the power at his disposal among his sons. My translation:
Ephyra, Oceanos’ daughter first inhabited this land [i.e. the Corinthian territory], but later Marathon, son of
Epopeos, the son of Alleos [i.e. a grandchild of Alleos], son of Helios (the sun-god) [i.e. a great-grandchild
of Helios], came to the sea coast of Attica escaping from his father’s unlawful conduct and arrogance. But
when Epopeas died, he [i.e. Marathon] returned to Peloponnesus and distributed the power among his sons.
He himself returned to Attica, and henceforth Asopia was renamed after Sikyonos and Euphyrea after
Corinthus…
Ἐφύραν Ὠκεανοῦ θυγατέρα οἰκῆσαι πρῶτον ἐν τῇ γῇ ταύτῃ, Μαραθῶνα
Ἐπωπέως τοῦ Ἀλωέως τοῦ Ἡλίου φεύγοντα ἀνομίαν καὶ ὕβριν τοῦ
παραθαλάσσια μετοικῆσαι τῆς Ἀττικῆς, ἀποθανόντος δὲ Ἐπωπέως
Πελοπόννησον καὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν διανείμαντα τοῖς παισὶν αὐτὸν ἐς τὴν
ἀναχωρῆσαι, καὶ ἀπὸ μὲν Σικυῶνος τὴν Ἀσωπίαν, ἀπὸ δὲ Κορίνθου
μετονομασθῆναι.
Eumelus, Corinthica F 3b, 451 F, fragment. 2a line 4-7. (Paus. 2.3.10). My translation:
δὲ ὕστερον τὸν
πατρὸς ἐς τὰ
ἀφικόμενον ἐς
Ἀττικὴν αὖθις
τὴν Ἐφυραίαν
Eumelos said that Helios granted the Asopian land to Aloes and the Eupherian to Aetes. When Aetes was
going away to Colichida, he entrusted the land to Bounon, the son of Hermes and Alcidamea. When Bounos
died, Epopeus, the son of Aloeos incorporated Ephyra into his rule. Later, when Corinthos, the son of
Marathonos died not leaving any children, the Corinthians sent out for Medea from Iolkus and handed over
the power to her.
Εὔμηλος δὲ Ἥλιον ἔφη δοῦναι τὴν χώραν Ἀλωεῖ. μὲν τὴν Ἀσωπίαν, Αἰήτῃ δὲ τὴν Ἐφυραίαν·
καὶ Αἰήτην ἀπιόντα ἐς Κόλχους παρακαταθέσθαι Βούνῳ τὴν γῆν, Βοῦνον δὲ Ἑρμοῦ καὶ
Ἀλκιδαμείας εἶναι, καὶ ἐπεὶ Βοῦνος ἐτελεύτησεν, οὕτως Ἐπωπέα τὸν Ἀλωέως καὶ τὴν
Ἐφυραίων σχεῖν ἀρχήν· Κορίνθου δὲ ὕστερον τοῦ Μαραθῶνος οὐδένα ὑπολ[ε]ιπομένου παῖδα,
τοὺς Κορινθίους Μήδειαν μεταπεμψαμένους ἐξ Ἰωλκοῦ παραδοῦναί οἱ τὴν ἀρχήν.
Eumelus, Corinthica F 36, 451 F, 2a 13 (Paus. 2.3.11.9). Because of the failed hopes for making her children
immortal by hiding them in the sanctuary of Hera and the scorn Jason met her with, Medea too went away and
handed over the power to Sisyphus:
τούτων δὲ ἕνεκα ἀπελθεῖν καὶ Μήδειαν παραδοῦσαν Σισύφῳ τὴν ἀρχήν.
Archilochus, fr. 113, 4 sq:
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4. To speak first, to take initiative
The verb ἄρχειν may also have the meaning of taking initiative both in words and in action.
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However, the initiative is a voluntary characteristic, it signifies acting when it is more than
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one is required to do (Homer, Iliad IV. 35, Archilochus, fr. 120, 2, 4 )39. P. Chantraine
theoretised that the “to be the leader” sense of the ἀρχή may be derived from the “to take the
initiative” meaning of the verb ἄρχειν.40
a) To speak first
Speaking first is a very common way in which this verb is being used, viz. when someone
begins speaking at an assembly, or a feast: Hephaistus the renowned smith (Homer, Iliad
I. 571), Polydamas (Homer, Iliad XVIII. 249), Eurymachos son of the astute Telemachus
(Homer, Odyssey XXII. 461), or Polybus (Odyssey XVI 345; XVIIII. 349; XX. 359),41 or just
Leophilos rules now, Leophilos has supremacy, Leophilos has everything dependant of him, you have to
listen to Leophilos.
νῦν δὲ Λεώφιλος μὲν ἄρχει, Λεωφίλου δ᾿ ἐπικρατεῖν, Λεωφίλωι δὲ πάντα κεῖται, Λεώφιλον
δ᾿ ἄκουε
Tyrtaeus. Fr. 4. 3.
Having heard Phoibus [i.e. Apollo] they brought from Pytho home
Oracles, god’s words which will come to pass:“May honoured by god kings rule…
Φοίβου ἀκούσαντες Πυθωνόθεν οἴκαδ᾿ ἐνεικαν
μαντείας τε θεοῦ καὶ τελέεντ᾿ ἕπεα:
ἄρχειν μὲν βουλῆς θεοτιμήτους βασιλῆας
οἶσι μέλει Σπάρτης ἱμεροέσσα πόλις.
39
Homer, Iliad IV. 35. Agamemnon asks his warriors which one will be first to crash into the Trojans:
ἕστασαν ὁππότε πύργος Ἀχαιῶν ἄλλος ἐπελθὼν
Τρώων ὁρμήσειε καὶ ἄρξειαν πολέμοιο.
Archilochus, fr. 120 line 2, 4:
I know how to initiate a tune of the beautiful song of lord Dionysus, the dithyramb, when my mind gets
thunder-stricken with wine, by myself I begin a Lesbian pean on an aulos.
ὡς Διωνύσσου ἄνακτος καλὸν ἐξάρξαι μέλος
οἶδα διθύραμβον οἴνωι συνκεραυνωθεὶς φρένας
αὐτὸς ἐξάρχων πρὸς αὐλὸν Λέσβιον παιήονα.
40
41
Chantraine 1968: I 121.
Homer, Iliad I. 571. Hephaistus the renowned smith rises up to speak among them:
τοῖσιν δ᾿ Ἥφαιστος κλυτοτέχνης ἦρχ᾿ ἀγορεύειν
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among a few other person, like when the owl-eyed Athena was the first to speak (Homer,
Iliad V. 420; Odyssey VI. 47; XIII. 374)42, Poseidon the earth shaker (Homer, Iliad VII. 445,
XXI. 287)43 Zeus father of gods and men (Iliad XXII. 167; XXIV. 103; Odyssey I. 28), or the
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great Telamonian Aias (Iliad XVII. 628)44. Among those who often spoke first was also the
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long-suffering Odysseus (Homer, Odyssey XXII. 160; XXIV. 490)45, Nestor (Homer,
Iliad II. 433; X. 203; Odyssey III. 68, 417, 474)46 and the prudent Penelope (Odyssey XVII.
100; XIX. 103; XIX. 508)47, as well as some one-time-first speakers: the bent with old age
Aigyptos (Odyssey II. 15), the nymph Calypso (Odyssey V. 202), the white-armed Arete
(Odyssey VII. 233; XI. 335), one of the citizens (Odyssey X 224).
b) To be foremost
Frequently in Homer some characters are described as being first, the most important, the
most zealous or most distinguished, i.e. foremost or being the most important in some action,
e.g. lamenting because of great sorrow and praying (Iliad XVIII. 51, 316; XXII. 430;
XXIII. 12, 17; XXIV. 723, 747, 761)48, playing games (Odyssey VI. 101) and fighting
(Iliad IV 35).49 These have been put in the “taking initiative” category.
Homer, Iliad XVIII. 249. Polydamas is the first to speak among them:
δὲ Πουλυδάμας πεπνυμένος ἦρχ᾽ ἀγορεύειν
Homer, Odyssey XVI. 345; XVIII. 349; XX. 359. Polybus' son, Eurymachos is the first of them to speak:
τοῖσιν δ᾽ Εὐρύμαχος, Πολύβου πάϊς, ἦρχ᾽ ἀγορεύειν·
Homer, Odyssey XXII. 461. Astute Telemachus is the first to speak:
τοῖσι δὲ Τηλέμαχος πεπνυμένος ἦρχ᾽ ἀγορεύειν
42
In all passages in which the owl-eyed Athena has spoken first, Homer says:
Τοῖσι δὲ μύθων ἦρχε θεὰ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη.
43
Homer, Iliad VII. 445: τοῖσι δὲ μύθων ἦρχε Ποσειδάων ἐνοσίχθων·
44
Homer Iliad XXIV. 103. Zeus started the discussion among them:
τοῖσι δὲ μύθων ἦρχε πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε
Homer, Odyssey I. 28. Zeus father of gods and men started speaking to them:
τοῖσι δὲ μύθων ἦρχε πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε
45
Only “δέ” differ the line and XXIV. 490 from the XXI. 160:
τοῖς δ᾽ ἄρα μύθων ἦρχε πολύτλας δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς
46
Homer, Iliad II. 433 and Odyssey III. 68 both read: τοῖς ἄρα μύθων ἦρχε Γερήνιος ἱππότα Νέστωρ
Homer, Iliad X. 203 and Odyssey. III. 417, 474 both read: τοῖσι ἄρα μύθων ἦρχε Γερήνιος ἱππότα
Νέστωρ
47
All these passages have the same reading: τοῖσι δὲ μύθων ἦρχε περίφρων Πηνελόπεια
48
Homer, Iliad XVIII. 51. They all beat their breasts, and among them Thetis lead out the threnody
ἄλλαι θ᾽ αἳ κατὰ βένθος ἁλὸς Νηρηΐδες ἦσαν.
τῶν δὲ καὶ ἀργύφεον πλῆτο σπέος· αἳ δ᾽ ἅμα πᾶσαι
στήθεα πεπλήγοντο, Θέτις δ᾽ ἐξῆρχε γόοιο·
Homer, Iliad XVIII. 316. Peleus' son leads the thronging chant of their lamentation:
τοῖσι δὲ Πηλεΐδης ἁδινοῦ ἐξῆρχε γόοιο
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5. To be first
The second group of meanings comprises of the instances in which ἄρχειν signifies the
beginning, origin or cause. In this case the prominent meaning of “walking first”, “leading”
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and “commanding” subsides in favor of the meanings focused on the idea of beginning,
origin, often in unspecified and distant past. Although there is also a reminiscent of “leading”
in this group, this time ἄρχειν occurs in a different context. It signifies the beginning of some
procedure, e.g. a libation, sacrifice and not the combat. In the case of this group the agents are
often boys with no political or military function. It may also signify a temporal or a logical
beginning, like when Homer speaks of boys mixing wine with water and beginning a libation
by offering goblets with a bit of wine to those gathered (νώμησαν δ᾿ ἄρα πᾶσιν). This was
done for the purpose honoring the gods by a small portion of drink (Homer, Iliad I. 471;
IX. 175; Odyssey III. 340; VII. 183; VIII. 418; XXI. 142)50, or when Athena, ordered by Zeus,
Homer, Iliad XXII. 430. But for the women of Troy, Hecabe leads out the thronging chant of their sorrow:
Τρῳῇσιν δ᾽ Ἑκάβη ἁδινοῦ ἐξῆρχε γόοιο·
Homer, Iliad XXIII. 12. Achilles leads the moaning of men gathered to grief for Patroclos.
ὣς ἔφαθ᾽, οἳ δ᾽ ᾤμωξαν ἀολλέες, ἦρχε δ᾽ Ἀχιλλεύς
Homer, Iliad XXIII. 17. Peleus' son leads the chant of lamentation:
τοῖσι δὲ Πηλεΐδης ἁδινοῦ ἐξῆρχε γόοιο
Homer, Iliad XXIV. 723. Andromache of the white arms leads the lamentation. The two following passages, i.e.
Homer, Iliad XXIV 747, 761 refer to the same event, three women: Andromache, Hecabe and Hellen, each in
her turn, were leading the the chant of sorrow over the death of Hector:
τῇσιν δ᾽ Ἀνδρομάχη λευκώλενος ἦρχε γόοιο
Homer, Iliad XXIV. 747. Now Hecabe leads out the thronging chant of their sorrow:
ὣς ἔφατο κλαίουσ᾽, ἐπὶ δὲ στενάχοντο γυναῖκες.
τῇσιν δ᾽ αὖθ᾽ Ἑκάβη ἁδινοῦ ἐξῆρχε γόοιο·
Homer, Iliad XXIV. 761. Third and last Helen leads the song of sorrow among them:
δ᾽ ἔπειθ᾽ Ἑλένη τριτάτη ἐξῆρχε γόοιο·
Homer, Odyssey VI. 101. And white-armed Nausicaa leads the girls in the frolic Although the word μολπή
generally refers to a dance with music, in this context it seems to refer to the game-throwing game in which
Nausicaa engages as a leader an an initiator of the contest:
τῇσι δὲ Ναυσικάα λευκώλενος ἤρχετο μολπῆς.
49
Homer, Iliad IV. 35. Agamemnon asks his warriors which one will be first to crash into the Trojans:
Τρώων ὁρμήσειε καὶ ἄρξειαν πολέμοιο.
50
In all this cases a medial verb ἐπάρχεσθαι is being used for signifying the beginning of a rite by filling the
cups with wine for a libation. It always occurs with the word δεπάεσσιν. See s.v. ἐπάρχομαι in:
Autenrieth─Keep 1895: 104. In a comment to Iliad I. 471 G. S. Kirk noted that it was customary to pour some
small portion of wine into the drinking-goblets first for the libation in honour of the gods and when this was
done, to pour wine for ordinary drinking. See G. S. Kirk 1985: I 102.
Homer, Iliad I. 471. The boys mix wine for the libation and begin by offering whine for libation in goblets
κοῦροι μὲν κρητῆρας ἐπεστέψαντο ποτοῖο,
νώμησαν δ᾿ ἄρα πᾶσιν ἐπαρξάμενοι δεπάεσσιν·
Homer, Iliad IX. 176. The boys pass the wine to everyone, pouring first a little wine for libation into the goblets:
κοῦροι δὲ κρητῆρας ἐπεστέψαντο ποτοῖο,
νώμησαν δ᾽ ἄρα πᾶσιν ἐπαρξάμενοι δεπάεσσιν.
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orchestrated everything, so that the Trojans were the first offenders by being the first to brake
the oaths (Homer, Iliad IV. 66, 72)51 or when Hesiod claims that if someone was to wrong us
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first, we should repay him double (Hesiod, Opus et Dies 709)52.
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6. To be the origin, to begin
Although the use of ἄρχειν exemplified here often refers to the beginning of hostilities
or even outright combat (Homer, Iliad VII. 232; XVII. 597; XX. 138, 154; XXI. 437, 439),
it signifies only a personal involvement and not leading the troops into battle.53 In these
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ σπεῖσάν τ᾽ ἔπιόν θ᾽ ὅσον ἤθελε θυμός
Homer, Odyssey III. 340. The boys pour a little wine for libation into the cups:
τοῖσι δὲ κήρυκες μὲν ὕδωρ ἐπὶ χεῖρας ἔχευαν,
κοῦροι δὲ κρητῆρας ἐπεστέψαντο ποτοῖο,
νώμησαν δ᾽ ἄρα πᾶσιν ἐπαρξάμενοι δεπάεσσι
γλώσσας δ᾽ ἐν πυρὶ βάλλον, ἀνιστάμενοι δ᾽ ἐπέλειβον.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ σπεῖσάν τ᾽ ἔπιον θ᾽, ὅσον ἤθελε θυμός
Homer, Odyssey VII. 183. Pontonous mixes the honey-hearted wine and passes it out to all, pouring a little wine
for libation in their goblets first:
ὣς φάτο, Ποντόνοος δὲ μελίφρονα οἶνον ἐκίρνα,
νώμησεν δ᾽ ἄρα πᾶσιν ἐπαρξάμενος δεπάεσσιν.
ἐπεὶ σπεῖσάν τ᾽ ἔπιόν θ᾽, ὅσον ἤθελε θυμός
Homer, Odyssey XVIII. 418. The wine-bearers first pour a little wine for libation in your cups:
ἀλλ᾽ ἄγετ᾽, οἰνοχόος μὲν ἐπαρξάσθω δεπάεσσιν,
ὄφρα σπείσαντες κατακείομεν οἴκαδ᾽ ἰόντες·
Homer, Odyssey XXI. 142. Gather comrades in row. From left to right, starting from the place one pours the
wine:
ἀρξάμενοι τοῦ χώρου ὅθεν τέ περ οἰνοχοεύει
Homer, Odyssey XXI. 272. They passed it out, after pouring first drops for libation into their goblets:
νώμησαν δ᾽ ἄρα πᾶσιν ἐπαρξάμενοι δεπάεσσιν
οἱ δ᾽ ἐπεὶ οὖν σπεῖσάν τ᾽ ἔπιόν θ᾽ ὅσον ἤθελε θυμός
51
Homer, Iliad IV. 67, 72. Zeus tells Athena to make it so that the Trojans were first offenders of the oaths:
ἄρξωσι πρότεροι ὑπὲρ ὅρκια δηλήσασθαι
52 Hesiod, Opus et Dies 709 sq. Do not lie for the sake of talking, but if someone should wrong you first with
words or deeds, do not forget to repay him double:
μηδὲ ψεύδεσθαι γλώσσης χάριν· εἰ δὲ σέ γ' ἄρχῃ
ἤ τι ἔπος εἰπὼν ἀποθύμιον ἠὲ καὶ ἔρξας,
δὶς τόσα τίνυσθαι μεμνημένος·
53
Homer, Iliad VII. 232. Since there is plenty of Trojans against the Achaeans the combat and battle may begin:
ἡμεῖς δ᾽ εἰμὲν τοῖοι οἳ ἂν σέθεν ἀντιάσαιμεν
καὶ πολέες· ἀλλ᾽ ἄρχε μάχης ἠδὲ πτολέμοιο.
Homer, Iliad XI. 604. All consider Ares, the origin (or the beginning) of evil:
φθεγξάμενος παρὰ νηός· ὃ δὲ κλισίηθεν ἀκούσας
ἔκμολεν ἶσος Ἄρηϊ, κακοῦ δ᾽ ἄρα οἱ πέλεν ἀρχή.
Homer, Iliad XVII. 597. Peneleos the Boiotian is the first to begin the flight:
πρῶτος Πηνέλεως Βοιώτιος ἦρχε φόβοιο
Homer, Iliad XX. 138. Poseidon, Hera and Athena agree that they will get back to the fight only if Ares or
Apollo begin to fight enforcing the Trojans or Achilles will be kept from fighting:
εἰ δέ κ᾽ Ἄρης ἄρχωσι μάχης ἢ Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων,
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ἢ Ἀχιλῆ᾽ ἴσχωσι καὶ οὐκ εἰῶσι μάχεσθαι,
Homer, Iliad XX. 154 Both Apollo and Ares are reluctant to start the war:
βουλάς· ἀρχέμεναι δὲ δυσηλεγέος πολέμοιο
ὄκνεον ἀμφότεροι, Ζεὺς δ᾽ ἥμενος ὕψι κέλευε.
Homer, Iliad XXIV. 103. Zeus started the discussion among them:
τοῖσι δὲ μύθων ἦρχε πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε
Homer, Odyssey VIII. 90. Demodocus has to begin his song each time the best of the Phaecians urge him on
(ὀτρύνειαν), because they all enjoy his performance:
αὐτὰρ ὅτ᾽ ἂψ ἄρχοιτο καὶ ὀτρύνειαν ἀείδειν
Φαιήκων οἱ ἄριστοι, ἐπεὶ τέρποντ᾽ ἐπέεσσιν,
Homer, Odyssey XXII. 437. The swineherd told Telemachus to start carrying the corpses
ἄρχετε νῦν νέκυας φορέειν καὶ ἄνωχθε γυναῖκας
Homer, Iliad XXI. 439. Poseidon reminds Apollo their service for Laomedon and the way he cheated them out
of pay for building the walls of Troy and minding his herds. Poseidon thinks that Apollo should go to battle first,
because he is younger and it would be more proper for him to start. Besides the imperat. praes. act. ἄρχε from
ἄρχω, there is also a part. aor. act. ἀρξάντων from the same verb:
Φοῖβε τί ἢ δὴ νῶϊ διέσταμεν; οὐδὲ ἔοικεν
ἀρξάντων ἑτέρων· τὸ μὲν αἴσχιον αἴ κ᾽ ἀμαχητὶ
ἴομεν Οὔλυμπον δὲ Διὸς ποτὶ χαλκοβατὲς δῶ.
ἄρχε· σὺ γὰρ γενεῆφι νεώτερος· οὐ γὰρ ἔμοιγε
καλόν, ἐπεὶ πρότερος γενόμην καὶ πλείονα οἶδα.
Homer, Odyssey I. 28. Zeus father of gods and men started speaking to them:
τοῖσι δὲ μύθων ἦρχε πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε
Homer, Odyssey. III. 445-446. He began the rite (ἀπάρχομαι) with grouts and water, as he prayed to Athena he
cut hair from the cow's head and through them into the fire:
χέρνιβά τ᾽ οὐλοχύτας τε κατήρχετο, πολλὰ δ᾽ Ἀθήνῃ
εὔχετ᾽ ἀπαρχόμενος, κεφαλῆς τρίχας ἐν πυρὶ βάλλων.
Homer, Odyssey. IV. 667. Antinous fears that Telemachus will begin to be a much greater danger (lit. evil) for
them if he is to return from his secret voyage. That is why he prays to Zeus to kill the boy before he reaches his
measure of manhood:
νῆα ἐρυσσάμενος, κρίνας τ᾽ ἀνὰ δῆμον ἀρίστους.
ἄρξει καὶ προτέρω κακὸν ἔμμεναι· ἀλλά οἱ αὐτῷ
Ζεὺς ὀλέσειε βίην, πρὶν ἥβης μέτρον ἱκέσθαι.
ἀλλ᾽ ἄγε μοι δότε νῆα θοὴν καὶ εἴκοσ᾽ ἑταίρους
Homer, Odyssey VIII. 81. Agamemnon came to consult the oracle in Delphi because the miseries start to roll in:
ὣς γάρ οἱ χρείων μυθήσατο Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων
Πυθοῖ ἐν ἠγαθέῃ, ὅθ᾽ ὑπέρβη λάινον οὐδὸν
χρησόμενος· τότε γάρ ῥα κυλίνδετο πήματος ἀρχὴ
Τρωσί τε καὶ Δαναοῖσι Διὸς μεγάλου διὰ βουλάς.
Homer, Odyssey VIII. 499. Inspired by god, Demodocus begins his song:
ὣς φάθ᾽, ὁ δ᾽ ὁρμηθεὶς θεοῦ ἤρχετο, φαῖνε δ᾽ ἀοιδήν
Homer, Iliad IX. 96 sqq. Nestor wants to begin his speech with Agamemnon and end it with him, because
Agamemnon is lord over many people:
Ἀτρεΐδη κύδιστε ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν Ἀγάμεμνον
ἐν σοὶ μὲν λήξω, σέο δ᾽ ἄρξομαι, οὕνεκα πολλῶν
λαῶν ἐσσι ἄναξ καί τοι Ζεὺς ἐγγυάλιξε
σκῆπτρόν τ᾽ ἠδὲ θέμιστας, ἵνά σφισι βουλεύῃσθα.
Homer, Iliad XV. 95. Hera wants Thetis to start the feast:
ἀλλὰ σύ γ᾽ ἄρχε θεοῖσι δόμοις ἔνι δαιτὸς ἐΐσης
Homer, Iliad XIX. 251 sq. He first cut hair from the boar lifting his hands up to Zeus:
ἥ οἱ πὰρ ξίφεος μέγα κουλεὸν αἰὲν ἄωρτο,
κάπρου ἀπὸ τρίχας ἀρξάμενος Διὶ χεῖρας ἀνασχὼν
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instances ἄρχειν is used to signify the first spark of some emotions, e.g. anger, sorrow, or
even future states of events, e.g. misfortunes (Homer, Iliad II. 378; XI. 604; XX. 154;
Odyssey IV. 667).54 Sometimes Homer gives us certain conditions under which the characters
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can act (Iliad XX. 138, 154; Odyssey VIII. 90; XXII. 437; XXIV. 286).55 Later poets often
Homer, Odyssey XIV. 428. The swineherd begins the sacrifice by slicing pieces of meat from all the boar's limbs
and makes an offering of them:
αἶψα δέ μιν διέχευαν· ὁ δ᾽ ὠμοθετεῖτο συβώτης,
πάντων ἀρχόμενος μελέων, ἐς πίονα δημόν,
Homer, Odyssey XXI. 4. Athena puts in the mind of Penelope an idea to make the suitors compete among
themselves with the use of Odysseus' bow and iron axes. This is to be the beginning (or cause) of the bloodshed,
though more accurately we may say that Odysseus’ bow and the iron axas provide a circumstance allowing for
the killing of the suitors to begin:
τῇ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἐπὶ φρεσὶ θῆκε θεὰ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη,
κούρῃ Ἰκαρίοιο, περίφρονι Πηνελοπείῃ,
τόξον μνηστήρεσσι θέμεν πολιόν τε σίδηρον
ἐν μεγάροις Ὀδυσῆος, ἀέθλια καὶ φόνου ἀρχήν.
Homer, Iliad XXI. 436-440. Poseidon asks Apollo why do they still stay apart when the others begin fighting.
He considers it shameful to return to the palace of Zeus not participating in it first:
Φοῖβε τί ἢ δὴ νῶϊ διέσταμεν; οὐδὲ ἔοικεν
ἀρξάντων ἑτέρων· τὸ μὲν αἴσχιον αἴ κ᾽ ἀμαχητὶ
ἴομεν Οὔλυμπον δὲ Διὸς ποτὶ χαλκοβατὲς δῶ.
ἄρχε· σὺ γὰρ γενεῆφι νεώτερος· οὐ γὰρ ἔμοιγε
καλόν, ἐπεὶ πρότερος γενόμην καὶ πλείονα οἶδα.
Homer, Odyssey XXIII. 199. Odysseus reminds Penelope how he carved the entire bed starting from the tree’s
branch:
ἐκ δὲ τοῦ ἀρχόμενος λέχος ἔξεον, ὄφρ᾽ ἐτέλεσσα
Homer, Odyssey XIV. 422. The swineherd begins the sacrifice by first cutting some hair from the wild boar to
toss it into the fire as an offering to the gods: ἀλλ᾽ ὅγ᾽ ἀπαρχόμενος κεφαλῆς τρίχας ἐν πυρὶ βάλλεν
Homer, Odyssey XXIII. 310. Odysseus begins his story from how he first tamed the Ciconians:
ἤρξατο δ᾽ ὡς πρῶτον Κίκονας δάμασ᾽, αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα.
Homer, Odyssey XXI. 35. Exchanging gifts is the beginning of a close guest friendship between Odysseus and
Euritides:
ἀρχὴν ξεινοσύνης προσκηδέος· οὐδὲ τραπέζῃ
54
Homer, Iliad II. 378. When Achilles and Agamemnon fought with words for the sake of the girl the king was
first to feel anger:
ἀντιβίοις ἐπέεσσιν, ἐγὼ δ᾽ ἦρχον χαλεπαίνων·
Homer, Iliad XX. 154 Both Apollo and Ares are reluctant to start the war:
βουλάς· ἀρχέμεναι δὲ δυσηλεγέος πολέμοιο
ὄκνεον ἀμφότεροι, Ζεὺς δ᾽ ἥμενος ὕψι κέλευε.
55
Homer, Iliad XX. 138. Poseidon tells Hera that they, as well as other gods siding with the Achaeans, will join
the fight only if Ares or Phoibus Apollo begin to fight or try preventing Achilles from fighting:
ἀλλ᾽ ἡμεῖς μὲν ἔπειτα καθεζώμεσθα κιόντες
ἐκ πάτου ἐς σκοπιήν, πόλεμος δ᾽ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει.
εἰ δέ κ᾽ Ἄρης ἄρχωσι μάχης ἢ Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων,
ἢ Ἀχιλῆ᾽ ἴσχωσι καὶ οὐκ εἰῶσι μάχεσθαι,
Homer, Iliad XX. 154. The gods siding with either of the sides of the war sat down deliberating on the situation
since neither of them wanted to begin the sorrowful battle:
ὣς οἳ μέν ῥ᾽ ἑκάτερθε καθήατο μητιόωντες
βουλάς· ἀρχέμεναι δὲ δυσηλεγέος πολέμοιο
ὄκνεον ἀμφότεροι…
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used the medial forms of ἄρχειν to signify the action of beginning something, e.g. singing and
constructing (Hesiod, Theogonia 1, 36, 48, Opus et Dies 809, Scutum 205).56
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a) From the time of old
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Sometimes Homer uses the noun ἀρχή or its denominatives to signify the beginning of some
process or event in often unspecified past (usually quite distant). The phrase ἐξ ἀρχῆς, so
often used in such a way may be translated as from the times of old, from the beginning, or
from the very start, but the final decision mostly depends on the context.57
7. To be the foundation
In early Greek poetry there is no passage which would be an evident example of ἄρχειν
or ἀρχή meaning “foundation”, but such meanings as “to be the origin”, “to be the cause”
Homer, Odyssey XXII. 437. Odysseus orders Telemachus, the swineherd and the herdsman to begin carrying out
the corpses of the suitors: νῦν νέκυας φορέειν…
56
Hesiod, Theogonia 1. Let us begin our singing of the Heliconian Muses:
Μουσάων Ἑλικωνιάδων ἀρχώμεθ᾽ ἀείδειν,
Hεsiod, Theogonia 36. Let us begin with the Muses who delight with hymns up on Olympus the great mind of
father Zeus.
Τύνη, Μουσάων ἀρχώμεθα, ταὶ Διὶ πατρὶ
ὑμνεῦσαι τέρπουσι μέγαν νόον ἐντὸς Ὀλύμπου
Hesiod, Theogonia 48. Next the Muses sing about Zeus, the father of gods and men, beginning singing and
ending the song with him:
Δεύτερον αὖτε Ζῆνα, θεῶν πατέρ᾽ ἠδὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν,
[ἀρχόμεναί θ᾽ ὑμνεῦσι θεαὶ λήγουσαί τ' ἀοιδῆς,]
ὅσσον φέρτατός ἐστι θεῶν κράτεΐ τε μέγιστος
Hesiod, Opus et Dies 809. But on the fourth month begin the construction of ships:
τετράδι δ' ἄρχεσθαι νῆας πήγνυσθαι ἀραιάς.
Hesiod, Scutum 205. The goddesses began a song:
(…) θεαὶ δ᾽ ἐξῆρχον ἀοιδῆς
57
Homer, Odyssey I. 188. A friend from the times of old:
ξεῖνοι δ᾽ ἀλλήλων πατρώιοι εὐχόμεθ᾽ εἶναι
ἐξ ἀρχῆς, εἴ πέρ τε γέροντ᾽ εἴρηαι ἐπελθὼν
Homer, Odyssey II. 254. Mentor and Halitherses were comrades of his father from the times of old:
τούτῳ δ᾽ ὀτρυνέει Μέντωρ ὁδὸν ἠδ᾽ Ἁλιθέρσης,
οἵ τέ οἱ ἐξ ἀρχῆς πατρώιοί εἰσιν ἑταῖροι.
Homer, Odyssey XI. 437. Zeus hated the family of Atreus from the very beginning. It would be illogical to make
Zeus hate the family of Atreus from the times of old:
ὢ πόποι, ἦ μάλα δὴ γόνον Ἀτρέος εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
ἐκπάγλως ἤχθηρε γυναικείας διὰ βουλὰς
ἐξ ἀρχῆς· Ἑλένης μὲν ἀπωλόμεθ᾽ εἵνεκα πολλοί,
σοὶ δὲ Κλυταιμνήστρη δόλον ἤρτυε τηλόθ᾽ ἐόντι.᾽
Homer, Odyssey XVII. 69. They were his fathers comrades from the times of old:
ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα Μέντωρ ἧστο καὶ Ἄντιφος ἠδ᾽ Ἁλιθέρσης,
οἵ τε οἱ ἐξ ἀρχῆς πατρώϊοι ἦσαν ἑταῖροι
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and to be from the beginning or the times of old suggests something fundamental. It is said in
Plato’s Laws 803 A, that teaching requires to first recognize the souls of the disciples and to
frame the character of their lives according to the condition of the souls they have.
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Thus the teacher should be like a shipwright and begin his construction by outlining the shape
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of the vessel by first laying her keel. Demosthenes calls justice and truth the foundations of
the polis, which in this respect is just like a house which requires foundation to stand firmly
despite any trouble or a ship that requires a keel to be able to sail through even the most
dangerous waters (Demosthenes 2. 10).58 Although both these authors are from the fifth
century B.C. the simile presented must have been compelling and common to the ancient
Greeks.59 Homer has a rare form of a word formed from the ἀρχ- root, ἄργματα that refers
to the first fruit, firstlings on a sacrifice or feast, i.e. the consecrated peaces of flesh thrown
into the flames at the beginning of the sacrificial rites.60
a) Old, ancient
Although there are numerous examples in which the expression of ἐξ ἀρχῆς is used to
signify “from the beginning”, “from distant times”, the derivatives of ἄρχειν in the sense of
‘old’, most notably the adjective ἀρχαῖος is absent in Homer. Twice it occurs in Mimnermus
(fr. 5. 3, 9. 1), a poet from around the seventh century.61
58
Kahn 1960: 236, n. 3. Cf. Plato. Leges 803 A 3-803 B 1:
(…) οἷον δή τις ναυπηγὸς τὴν τῆς ναυπηγίας ἀρχὴν καταβαλλόμενος τὰ τροπιδεῖα
ὑπογράφεται τῶν πλοίων σχήματα, ταὐτὸν δή μοι κἀγὼ φαίνομαι ἐμαυτῷ δρᾶν, τὰ τῶν βίων
πειρώμενος σχήματα διαστήσασθαι κατὰ τρόπους τοὺς τῶν ψυχῶν, ὄντως αὐτῶν τὰ τροπιδεῖα
καταβάλλεσθαι…
Demosthenes 2. 10:
(…) ὥσπερ γὰρ οἰκίας, οἶμαι, καὶ πλοίου καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν τοιούτων τὰ κάτωθεν ἰσχυρότατ᾽
εἶναι δεῖ, οὕτω καὶ τῶν πράξεων τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ὑποθέσεις ἀληθεῖς καὶ δικαίας εἶναι
προσήκει.
59
Cf. Gassend─Tzalas 1989: I 120-3, fig 4a-4f. Also Gillmer─Tzalas 1989: I 131. Available online [accessed
15.01.2015]: http://nauticalarch.org/uploads/Tropis/Tropis%20I%20Proceedings%201985.pdf for the research
on the way ancient ships were probably buil. Cf. Bass 1985: 275; Steffy 1985: 71.
60
Chantraine 1968: I 12. Homer, Odyssey XIV 446: ἦ ῥα καὶ ἄργματα θῦσε θεοῖς αἰειγενέτῃσι
61
Chronology according to West 2008: XI. Mimnermus , Elegia 3b 578. fr. 5, 3. Mimnermus, who composed an
elegy about the war between the Smyrnians and the Lydians under Gyges said in the proëm that the elder Muses
were the daughters of Ouranos while younger, of Zeus:
Μίμνερμος ἐλεγεῖα ἐς τὴν μάχην ποιήσας τὴν Σμυρναίων πρὸς Γύγην τε καὶ Λυδούς φησίν ἐν
τῶι προσιμέωι θυγατέρας Οὐρανοῦ τὰς ἀρχαιοτέρας Μούσας, τούτων δὲ ἄλλας νεωτέρας
εἶναι Διὸς παῖδας
Fr. 9.1. The ancients seemed not think alike about the number of Niobe’s children:
ἐοίκασιν οἱ ἀρχαῖοι ὑπερ του- ἀριθμοῦ τῶν τῆς Νιοβῆς παίδων μὴ συνάιδειν
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b) From the beginning
As it has been mentioned before, the noun ἀρχή is frequently used in early Greek poetry with
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prepositions to signify that some situation is taking place from the very beginning, from the
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start. Besides the examples already presented (most notably Homer, Odyssey XI. 437 but also
Odyssey I 188, II 254, XVIII 69), the phrase ἐξ ἀρχῆς is often used by Hesiod (Theogonia
45, 115, 156, 203, 408, 452, 512)62 and once by Solon (fr. 13, 66)63.
8. To be the cause
The concept of a cause is not easy to grasp on the examples from early Greek poetry because
it is often interchangeable with the idea of the beginning. In general, we could consider as
causes the actions or events which either directly or indirectly set in motion events leading to
some outcome, or make them happen.64 Here we could use Aristotle’s determination, that the
62
The list of passages from Hesiod:
Hesiod, Theogonia 45 sq, The Muses are to sing about the genesis of the gods. Their song touched upon the
events from the very beginning, when Gaia - Earth and Ouranos - the broad Heaven - gave birth.
ἐξ ἀρχῆς, οὓς Γαῖα καὶ Οὐρανὸς εὐρὺς ἔτικτεν,
οἵ τ᾽ ἐκ τῶν ἐγένοντο θεοί, δωτῆρες ἐάων.
Hesiod, Thegonia 115. Hesiod asks the Muses to tell him from the beginning, which one of the gods came first.
Ταῦτά μοι ἔσπετε Μοῦσαι, Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχουσαι
[ἐξ ἀρχῆς, καὶ εἴπαθ᾽, ὅτι πρῶτον γένετ᾽ αὐτῶν.]
Hesiod, Theogonia 156. Such were the terrible children begotten by Gaia and Ouranos,
Hated from the very beginning by their father…
Ὅσσοι γὰρ Γαίης τε καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἐξεγένοντο,
δεινότατοι παίδων, σφετέρῳ δ᾽ ἤχθοντο τοκῆι
Hesiod, Theogonia 203. Such were the honors allotted to Hecate from the beginning, to have shares in affairs of
the men and immortal gods:
Ταύτην δ᾽ ἐξ ἀρχῆς τιμὴν ἔχει ἠδὲ λέλογχε
μοῖραν ἐν ἀνθρώποισι καὶ ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι,
Hesiod, Theogonia. 408. Leto was soothing from the beginning and gentle on Olympus
ἐξ ἀρχῆς, ἀγανώτατον ἐντὸς Ὀλύμπου,
Hesiod, Theogonia 452. From the beginning Hecate was the nurse of youths; these were their honors.
ἐξ ἀρχῆς κουροτρόφος, αἳ δέ τε τιμαί.
Hesiod, Theogonia 512. Epimetheus was from the beginning destructive for the toiling men:
κακὸν ἐξ ἀρχῆς γένετ᾽ ἀνδράσιν ἀλφηστῇσιν
63
Solon Nomographon. Fragment 13. 11. Solon Speaks about the loss caused by wealth acquired by unjust acts
that it is mall from the beginning but become like fire, at first trivial, but bringing sorrow at the end:
ἀρχῆς δ᾿ ἐξ ὀλίγης γίγνεται ὥστε πυρός,
φλαύρη μὲν τὸ πρῶτον, ἀνιηρὴ δὲ τελευταῖ
Fragment 13, 66. There is danger connected with every action, no one knows when it starts and whether it is
going to be useful.
πᾶσι δὲ τοι κίνδυνος ἐπ᾿ ἐργμασιν, οὐδέ τις οἶδεν
νῆι μέλλει σχήσειν χρήματος ἀρχομένου
64
Homer, Iliad III. 100. Alexander (i.e. Paris) was the cause of the quarrel due to taking Helen from her
husband:
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effective cause is the one answering a question ‘what iniciated the motion’, or for the sake of
what something was done.65 It should also be considered that in archaic thought, it was not
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II. The use of the ἀρχή in early Greek Philosophy
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generally recognized before David Hume that a temporal priority does not imply causality.
The instances of the use of ἄρχειν and ἀρχή in early Greek poetry allow us to recognise how
complex idea the first philosophers might have had at their disposal if they were to use the
term ἀρχή in a technical sense, proper for the new intellectual pursuit of the knowledge about
the nature.66 Although Charles H. Kahn also points out that the term ἀρχή had its long history
during which it acquired quite an impressing semantic range, he makes no claim on it being a
Presocratic term.67 Since Aristotle is our earliest source about the first philosophers,
examining his account may prove valuable as a reference point for the later writers continuing
the Aristotelian tradition, e.g. Theophrastus and Simplicius. Aristotle noted that among the
first philosophers, most were looking for a material cause-principle (ἀρχή) as something all
things are made of, from which they all come into being and into which they perish at the end:
Of the first philosophers, then, most thought the principles which were of the
nature of matter were the only principles of all things. That of which all things
that are consist, the first from which they come to be, the last into which they are
resolved (the substance remaining, but changing in its modifications), this they
Ἀργείους καὶ Τρῶας, ἐπεὶ κακὰ πολλὰ πέπασθε
εἵνεκ᾽ ἐμῆς ἔριδος καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου ἕνεκ᾽ ἀρχῆς·
Homer, Iliad XXII. 116. Taking Helen by Alexander to Troy is the cause of the quarrel:
πάντα μάλ᾽ ὅσσά τ᾽ Ἀλέξανδρος κοίλῃς ἐνὶ νηυσὶν
ἠγάγετο Τροίηνδ᾽, ἥ τ᾽ ἔπλετο νείκεος ἀρχή,
δωσέμεν Ἀτρεΐδῃσιν ἄγειν, ἅμα δ᾽ ἀμφὶς Ἀχαιοῖς
ἄλλ᾽ ἀποδάσσεσθαι ὅσα τε πτόλις ἥδε κέκευθε·
Homer, Odyssey XXIV. 169. The bow and the axes were the cause of the suitors' demise (see the explanation of
the passage from the Odyssey XXI. 4):
τῇ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἐπὶ φρεσὶ θῆκε θεὰ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη,
κούρῃ Ἰκαρίοιο, περίφρονι Πηνελοπείῃ,
τόξον μνηστήρεσσι θέμεν πολιόν τε σίδηρον
ἐν μεγάροις Ὀδυσῆος, ἀέθλια καὶ φόνου ἀρχήν
However, the axes and the bow are only instruments in the hands of Odysseus. They merely supply the means by
which he could kill the suitors.
65
Cf. Aristotle. Physica II 198 a 20 sqq.
66
Schofield 1997: 218-221.
67
Kahn 1960: 235-236.
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say is the element and this the principle of things, and therefore they think nothing
is either generated or destroyed, since this sort of entity is always conserved.68
Despite its importance for the study of ancient Greek philosophy, there are certain
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observations which have to be made before we begin analyzing Aristotle’s account of the first
philosophers. When speaking about the principles of the material kind Aristotle has his own
philosophy of nature in mind and in it all four causes (i.e. the material, formal, efficient and
the final) play a vital role. Paul Seligman is of an opinion that the term ἀρχή originally meant
“beginning”, then “rule” and that this is the meaning in which Anaximander would have used
it, but Aristotle used it in the afore mentioned passage from the Metaphysics in his own
technical philosophical sense of principle. Thus for Aristotle it signifies not merely the
beginning in time but the agent or cause of a thing’s beginning, the logical starting point at
which we arrive by our analysis of things and their changes. Thus the term ἀρχή in
Metaphysics 983b 6 is linked with the term στοιχεῖον which does not refer this time to any
specific element (like the roots of Empedocles) but quite generally to the ultimate constituents
of things which cannot be subjected to further division, or analysis in thought.69 When
Aristotle speaks of ἀρχή καὶ στοιχεῖον with ἀρχή of a material kind, the two terms seem to
be meant almost synonymous, but while the ἀρχή has a pre-philosophical usage, the
στοιχεῖον was first introduced in its technical sense by Plato (Theaeteus 210 E).70 It follows
that the first philosophers could not have referred to their principles as ἀρχὴ καὶ στοιχεῖον
as Aristotle here suggests. However, there is no reason why they should not have described
them simply as ἀρχή.71 The task of recognizing the meaning of the term ἀρχή may be easier
if we were to examine Aristotle’s views on it. He is convinced that something that may be a
point of origin understood both as a point from which we start and as something beginning the
origination process, an immanent part of something from which thing come into being:
68
Aristotle─Ross 1928: VIII 983 b. Aristotle, Metaphysica. I 983 b 6-13:
τῶν δὴ πρώτων φιλοσοφησάντων οἱ πλεῖστοι τὰς ἐν ὕλης εἴδει μόνας ᾠήθησαν ἀρχὰς εἶναι
πάντων· ἐξ οὗ γὰρ ἔστιν ἅπαντα τὰ ὄντα καὶ ἐξ οὗ γίγνεται πρώτου καὶ εἰς ὃ φθείρεται
τελευταῖον, τῆς μὲν οὐσίας ὑπομενούσης τοῖς δὲ πάθεσι μεταβαλλούσης, τοῦτο στοιχεῖον καὶ
ταύτην ἀρχήν φασιν εἶναι τῶν ὄντων, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο οὔτε γίγνεσθαι οὐθὲν οἴονται οὔτε
ἀπόλλυσθαι, ὡς τῆς τοιαύτης φύσεως ἀεὶ σωζομένης,
69
See Seligman 1962: 24-25.
70
See Seligman 1962: 25-6, n. 2. H. Diels determined that the term στοιχεῖον had no technical sense of the
elements or simple constituents before Empedocles. See Diels1899: 34.
71
See Seligman 1962: 26.
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‘BEGINNING’ means (1) that part of a thing from which one would start first, e.
g. a line or a road has a beginning in either of the contrary directions. (2) That
from which each thing would best be originated, […] (3) That from which, as an
foundation of a house, while in animals some suppose the heart, others the brain,
others some other part, to be of this nature.72
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immanent part, a thing first comes to be, e. g. as the keel of a ship and the
Aristotle’s analysis of the different meanings the term ἀρχή had in his times allows us to look
at the semantic range of not only this word but also others with the same root and thanks to
the benefit of hindsight about the meanings of the term ἀρχή, we know which of them proved
to be most important.
1. Anaximander of Miletus
Anaximander of Miletus was supposed to be a pupil and fellow-citizen of Thales. He lived
and worked in Miletus (a Greek colony in Asia Minor) in the sixth century B.C. He is best
known for his theory that the whole world emerged from τὸ ἄπειρον – something boundless,
infinite. He is moreover often treated as the philosopher who first introduced the term ἀρχή
into the philosophical enquiry.
However important Aristotle’s account about his predecessors is to us, we have to bear
in mind that his speculative inclination often proved being his undoing since he was not
always able to distinguish clearly between the views of his predecessors and what their words
suggested to him. Thus the authors continuing his legacy could have fallen victim to the same
“speculative overindulgence”. For this reason some scholars chose to analyse Anaximander
not only in light of the writings concerning the Presocratic teachings but also of ancient
authors outside the curriculum of philosophical doxography, e.g. Corpus Hippocraticum.73
Simplicius, a Neoplatonist from the fifth century A. D. is considered to be an authority of
Aristotle─Ross 1928: VIII. 1013 a. Aristotle, Metaphysica 1012b 34-1013a 7: Ἀρχὴ λέγεται ἡ μὲν ὅθεν ἄν
τις τοῦ πράγματος κινηθείη πρῶτον, οἷον τοῦ μήκους καὶ ὁδοῦ ἐντεῦθεν μὲν αὕτη ἀρχή, ἐξ
ἐναντίας δὲ ἑτέρα· ἡ δὲ ὅθεν ἂν κάλλιστα ἕκαστον γένοιτο, οἷον καὶ μαθήσεως οὐκ ἀπὸ τοῦ
πρώτου καὶ τῆς τοῦ πράγματος ἀρχῆς ἐνίοτε ἀρκτέον ἀλλ’ ὅθεν ῥᾷστ’ ἂν μάθοι· ἡ δὲ ὅθεν
πρῶτον γίγνεται ἐνυπάρχοντος, οἷον ὡς πλοίου τρόπις καὶ οἰκίας θεμέλιος, καὶ τῶν ζῴων οἱ μὲν
καρδίαν οἱ δὲ ἐγκέφαλον οἱ δ’ ὅ τι ἂν τύχωσι τοιοῦτον ὑπολαμβάνουσιν
73
See Heidel 1912: 212. However, since the aim of this paper is to investigate the range of the words with the
ἀρχ- root (most notably, the nouns ἀρχή and ἀρχός as well as the adjective ἀρχαῖος) available for the first
philosophers, I do not pursue the medical meanings of the term ἀρχή at any length.
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paramount importance in reconstructing the conceptions of Anaximander because he
preserved passages from Theophrastus’ lost work, Opinions of the inquirers into nature
(Φυσικῶν δόξαι) while being reliable enough not to have imposed his own convictions
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when trying to quote from the sources available to him. Since his account still yielded to some
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corroboration from other writers who had been drawing on the afore- mentioned work of
Theophrastus, we can trust his account. Though some scholars were questioning the reliability
of Theophrastus as a witness (e.g. J. B. McDiarmid) or the accessability of Φυσικῶν δόξαι
to Simplicius, who, according to H. Diels, obtained the information on Theophrastus’ work
through the Peripatetic philosopher Alexander of Aphrodisia, the study of ancieng Greek
philosophy could not have existed without the Theophrasean tradition (however, this
particular contestation seems to have been already effectively countered by K. Reinhard).74
According to the reports of Simplicius (following Theophrastus) and Hippolytus,
Anaximander was said to call his primary and boundless thing (τὸ ἄπειρον), the ἀρχή of all
things:
(…) Anaximander of Miletus, the son of Praxiades, successor and pupil of Thales,
said that the beginning and origin (ἀρχή) and element (στοιχεῖον) of existing
things (τῶν ὄντων) was [is] τὸ ἄπειρον, being the first to introduce this term
ἀρχή. He says that neither water, nor any other of the so-called elements, but
some infinite nature, which is different from them (ἑτέραν τινὰ φύσιν
ἄπειρον), and from which all the heavens and the worlds within them come into
being. And into that from which existing things come-to-be they also pass away
according to necessity…75
74
See Seligman 1962: 15. Cf. Reinhard 1916: 93-4, n. 1.
Simplicius, In Aristotelis Physysicorum 24. 13-19 [in:] P. Seligman 1962: 19-20. P. Seligman underlined the
passages considered by D-K (Diels H. Kranz W. Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, vel D-K) to be a genuine
Anaximandrrean quotations. Theophrastos, Physicorum opiniones. fr. 2 Diels (DK 12 A 9/B1): Ἀναξίμανδρος
μἐν Πραξιάδου Μιλήσιος Θαλοῦ γενόμενος διάδοχος καὶ μαθητὴς ἀρχήν τε καὶ στοιχεῖον εἴρηκε
τῶν ὄντων τὸ ἄπειρον, πρῶτος τοῦτο τοὔνομα κομίσας τῆς ἀρχῆς. λέγει δ' αὐτὴν μήτε ὕδωρ
μήτε ἄλλο τι τῶν καλουμένων εἶναι στοιχείων, ἀλλ' ἑτέραν τινὰ φύσιν ἄπειρον, ἐξ ἧς ἅπαντας
γίνεσθαι τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τοὺς ἐν αὐτοῖς κόσμους· ἐξ ὧν δὲ ἡ γένεσίς ἐστι τοῖς οὖσι, καὶ τὴν
φθορὰν εἰς ταῦτα γίνεσθαι κατὰ τὸ χρεών. My emphasis.
Hippolytus, Refutatio omnium haeresium I, 6.1-2 = DK 12 A 11. 2-7: Ἀναξίμανδρος Πραξιάδου Μιλήσιος.
οὗτος ἀρχὴν ἔφη τῶν ὄντων φύσιν τινὰ τοῦ ἀπείρου, ἐξ ἧς γίνεσθαι τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τὸν ἐν
αὐτοῖς κόσμον (…)οὗτος μὲν ἀρχὴν καὶ στοιχεῖον εἴρηκε τῶν ὄντων τὸ ἄπειρον, πρῶτος τοὔνομα
καλέσας τῆς ἀρχῆς. My emphasis.
75
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When analysing Simplicius 24. 13 we should bear in mind that in this passage, Theophrastus
follows Aristotle’s interpretation of Anaximander fairly closely in introducing his
τὸ ἄπειρον as ἀρχή καὶ στοιχεῖον, but he also asserts that Anaximander was the first to
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use the term ἀρχή. As already noticed, Anaximander in the sixth century B.C. could not
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have used the term στοιχεῖον – element, so Theophrastus’ attribution has to be confined to
ἀρχή. It has been a point of controversy whether Anaximander was the first to use the term
ἀρχή in its technical sense, though obviously even if he had, it could not have been in the
strict Aristotelian or Peripathetic sense. However, the phrase (πρῶτος τοῦτο τοὔνομα
κομίσας τῆς ἀρχῆς) relevant in this discussion alludes a clear interpretation, though it
seems that nowadays most modern critics consider Theophrastus as the one who identified
Anaximander as the first philosopher to have used it for the primary and originative thing.76
According to Eduard Zeller and J. Burnet the above mentioned phrase could have been
interpreted in a different way, thus the former of these scholars was of an opinion that the
evidence for the assertion that Anaximander was the first to call the first principle of all things
by the name ἀρχή is not without doubt since both Simplicius (In Aristotelis Physysicorum 23.
21 = D-K 11 A 13) and Hippolytus (Refutatio omnium haeresium I.1.1) remark that also
Thales called water ἀρχή.77 J. Burnet has accepted E. Zeller’s observation and moreover
claimed that the phrase πρῶτος τοῦτο τοὔνομα κομίσας τῆς ἀρχῆς simply meant that
Theophrastus considered Anaximander as the first to call a material principle ἀρχή (in the
Peripathetic sense) by the name τὸ ἄπειρον. This conviction was not deterred by
Hyppolitus’ statement about Anaximander (Refutatio omnium haeresium I. 6.2) that πρῶτος
τοὔνομα καλέσας τῆς ἀρχῆς which led most scholars to believe that these words should
be understood as that Anaximander was the first to introduce the term ἀρχή. J. Burnet
considered Hyppolytus’ text (in Refutatio omnium haeresium I. 6.2) to be corrupted in at least
two points, i.e. καλέσας being a corruption of the familiar Peripatetic κομίσας and the
omission of τοῦτο what he considered to be more probable than its interpolation by Alexander
(another of Aristotle’s commentators) or Simplicius. Thus, if we were to assume that τοῦτο is
76
See Kirk─ Raven 1957: 107. Cf. Guthrie 1962: I 77; Seligman 1962: 26. Cf. Reale 1987: I 35, 39.
See E. Zeller 1881: I 248-9, n 2. P. Seligman conjectured that Theophrastus might have neglected to make any
note about Thales’ eleged use of the term ἀρχή (and he surely would have noted it if Thales was to introduce it
before Anaximander) if he had any written evidence to support this claim. See Seligman 1962: 27-8, n. 1.
77
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genuine, the ὄνομα must refer to τὸ ἄπειρον. He also thought that his interpretation could
be confirmed by ἄπειρον δὲ πρῶτος ὑπέθετο in Simplicius, De Caelo 615. He considered
another of Simplicius’ passages In Aristotelis Physysicorum 150. 23 sq, πρῶτος αὐτὸς
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ἀρχὴν ὀνομάσας τὸ ὑποκείμενον as meaning “being the first to name the substratum of
the opposites as the material cause”.78 Summarizing the controversies around the passage in
Simplicius we may discern two interpretations: that in Theophrastus’ statement, Anaximander
introduced the name τὸ ἄπειρον for the material cause (e.g. J. Burnet), and that
Anaximander introduced the term ἀρχή, but Theophrastus added the word στοιχεῖον to
define the term ἀρχή in Peripatetic phraseology.79
According to P. Seligman Anaximander could not have used the term ἀρχή in its
Peripathetic sense, as a material principle, but in its earlier sense, among others temporal.
Theophrastus is here clearly following Aristotle in the treatment of Anaximander’s ἄπειρον
since otherwise he would not have referred to it as ἀρχή καὶ στοιχεῖον, for he could have
done it more appropriately by a phrase ἀρχὴ καὶ πηγή – beginning and source
(Meteorologie 553 b 22, 355b 35, 360 a 33) or ἀρχή καὶ ῥίζα – beginning and root
(Meteorologie. 353 b 1), since these expressions occurs also in Aristotle but in a less
technical, genetic sense.80 A. W. Heidel suggested that since it cannot be correct to attribute
the term στοιχεῖον to Anaximander, the addition must have been due to the need of defining
ἀρχή by a hendiadys (ἑν διὰ δυοῖν), i.e. the use of two coordinate words to express
something that might have been expressed by one word and an attribute, to account for the
Aristotelic meaning of the term ἀρχή which could have had a wider and a narrower
application, i.e. denoting besides a material substratum or στοιχεῖον also the efficient cause,
or the efficient cause alone.81
78
See Burnet 1920: 35, n. 58, 54. For a detailed discussion on various theories of modern cholars on the topic of
Anaximander’s conception of the ἀρχή, what did it stand for and was Anaximander the first to use it in a
technical sense we may consult: Kirk 1955: 21-38.
79
See McDiarmid 1953: 138.
80
See Seligman 1962: 26.
81
See A. W. Heidel 1912: 216. For more on the hendiadys, see Babbit 1902: 370; Smith 1920: 678; Morwood
2001: 237, e.g. ἐν ἁλὶ κύμασι τε – in sea and waves – in the waves of the sea Euripides, Helen 226;
κράτη καὶ θρόνοι – power and throne – throne of power Sophocles, Antigone 173.
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Our inquiry into Theophrastus’ account of Anaximander reveals an inconsistency
between the assertion that Anaximander introduced the term ἀρχή as first and the
Aristotelean meaning implied in his texts. Although this inconsistency could be resolved if we
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were to treat the crucial phrase in Simplicius (In Aristotelis Physysicorum 24. 13) not in the
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sense generally accepted by modern scholars, i.e. as “being the first to introduce the term
ἀρχή”, but in the sense proposed by J. Burnet, i.e. as “being the first to introduce the name
(ἄπειρον) of the ἀρχή” (meaning the Aristotelean material cause), J. Burnet’s explanation
cannot account well for a similar phrase in Simplicius In Aristotelis Physysicorum 150. 23 or
Hippolytus’ D-K 12 A 11), because here the straightforward “being the first to name the
substratum of the opposites as the material cause” is more likely than J. Burnet’s rendering of
Simplicius’ Theophrastean fragment in In Aristotelis Physysicorum 24. 13. A passage in
Simplicius’ commentary De Caelo 615. 15-19 sq. (submitted as evidence by McDiarmid)
does not support J. Burnet’s reading either because it treats of the reasons for which
Anaximander was concerned with introducing the ἄπειρον and not with ascertaining whether
he introduced this term. The analysis of Theophrasus’ statements about the first philosophers
indicates that he considered the Ionian “principles” to be entities that were appropriate for the
use of the conception of ἀρχή and not as numerous names used of the ἀρχή.82
According to A. W. Heidel, it is very probable that since Theophrastus had known that
Anaximander used the term ἀρχή, he immediately considered him as its inventor.83
P. Seligman evidently agrees with him stating that the most obvious conclusion is that
Theophrastus found the word ἀρχή in Anaximander’s text and recorded it as the first usage
of this term by the early philosophers without considering that Anaximander could not have
used it in the Aristotelian sense, which was taken as a given in the times of Theophrastus.
This corresponded with a particular line of research the Peripatetics were very interested in,
i.e. in tracing the first usage of terms they considered as being of great importance for their
work. P. Seligman draws our attention to a possibility of using the differences between the
accounts of Aristotle and Theophrastus for ascertaining more plausible opinions about
Anaximander. If we were to compare Aristotle’s Metaphysics 983 b 6 with Simplicius,
See Seligman 1962: 27. Cf. McDirmid 1953: 139. (e.g. ἐν ἁλὶ κύμασι τε – in sea and waves – in the
waves of the sea Euripides, Helen 226; κράτη καὶ θρόνοι – power and throne – throne of power
Sophocles, Antigone 173)
83 See W. A. Heidel 1912: 315, n. 4.
82
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In Aristotelis Physysicorum 24. 13 we could learn that while both considered Anaximander’s
τὸ ἄπειρον as ἀρχή καὶ στοιχεῖον (in the Peripatetic sense), Aristotle’s statement implied
that Anaximander, as one of the first philosophers, claimed that his ἀρχή was ἀρχή καὶ
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στοιχεῖον, what is historically impossible, and Theophrastus’ that Anaximander used the
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term ἀρχή of the Aristotelian phrase ἀρχή καὶ στοιχεῖον, what is possible.84 According to
Aristotle’s account of Anaximander in Physics 203 b, his ἀρχή - τὸ ἄπειρον had, besides
originating properties, also the ability to encompass all the worlds and to steer them like ship:
We cannot say that the infinite has no effect, and the only effectiveness which we
can ascribe to it is that of a principle. Everything is either a source or derived from
a source. But there cannot be a source of the infinite or limitless, for that would be
a limit of it. Further, as it is a beginning, it is both uncreatable and indestructible.
For there must be a point at which what has come to be reaches completion, and
also a termination of all passing away. That is why, as we say, there is no
principle of this, but it is this which is held to be the principle of other things, and
to encompass all and to steer all, as those assert who do not recognize, alongside
the infinite, other causes, such as Mind or Friendship.85
In this passage from Aristotle we may observe that Anaximander’s principle is
considered as something not only boundless but also encompassing all things (περιέχειν
ἅπαντα) and steering or guiding them (πάντα κυβερνᾶν). Charles H. Kahn is of an
opinion that only Anaximander could have said about τὸ ἄπειρον that it encompasses all
things and guides them.86 Since our study of the use of the verb ἄρχειν and its derivatives in
84
See Seligman 1962: 27, 28.
Aristotle─Ross 1930: II 203 b. Arisotlels. Physica. 203 b 4-13: οὔτε γὰρ μάτην οἷόν τε αὐτὸ εἶναι, οὔτε
ἄλλην ὑπάρχειν αὐτῷ δύναμιν πλὴν ὡς ἀρχήν· ἅπαντα γὰρ ἢ ἀρχὴ ἢ ἐξ ἀρχῆς,τοῦ δὲ ἀπείρου
οὐκ ἔστιν ἀρχή· εἴη γὰρ ἂν αὐτοῦ πέρας. ἔτι δὲ καὶ ἀγένητον καὶ ἄφθαρτον ὡς ἀρχή τις οὖσα· τό
τε γὰρ γενόμενον ἀνάγκη τέλος λαβεῖν, καὶ ελευτὴ πάσης ἔστιν φθορᾶς. διό, καθάπερ λέγομεν,
οὐ ταύτης ἀρχή, ἀλλ’ αὕτη τῶν ἄλλων εἶναι δοκεῖ καὶ περιέχειν ἅπαντα καὶ πάντα κυβερνᾶν, ὥς
φασιν ὅσοι μὴ ποιοῦσι παρὰ τὸ ἄπειρον ἄλλας αἰτίας, οἷον νοῦν ἢ φιλίαν.
86
See Kahn 1960: 238. The verb κυβερνᾶν has the meaning of “steering”, like in Odyssey III. 283 where it
refers to steering a ship. This simple meaning gained a metaphorical sense of “guiding” and “ruling” in the fifth
century B.C., e.g. Pindar’s Pythian Ode 5. 122 and Plato’s Euthydemus 291 D. However, this verb could have
been seen as appropriate for “guiding” as well as “steering” because the helmsmen’s function on an ancient ship
was not only to direct the vessel in the desired direction but also to navigate and to stay clear of danger as a pilot.
85
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early Greek poetry revealed that ever since the dawn of Greek culture, this verb had among its
various meanings also the sense of: lead, govern, rule, it seems natural that the ἀρχή of
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encompassing all things but also steering and guiding them.
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Anaximander about which Aristotles speaks somewhat elliptically has the faculty of not only
M. Stokes disregarded the whole question of the ἀρχή in the philosophy of the
Milesians because he considered the matter of whether Anaximander was the first to use this
term, as something of no great significance. His position is that of a sceptical scholar who
thinks that we know too little about Anaximander’s opinions to discuss the issue of the use he
might have made of the term ἀρχή, not to mention the virtual impossibility of assesing
something about Thales on the basis of Anaximander’s use of the word ἀρχή. In his oppinion
the supposition of G. S. Kirk (and other scholars) that Anaximander might have used the term
ἀρχή in phrases meaning “in the beginning” and similar ones would not attract the attention
of doxographers. G. S. Kirk’s line of argumentation is based on a disbelief similar to J.
Burnet’s that the term under consideration could not be ascribed to Anaximander by any of
the doxographical passages and an argumentum ex silentio that no direct Presocratic fragment
(i.e. from the B section) contains the word ἀρχή in the nominative in the sence of a primary
substance.87
2. Anaximenes of Miletus
Like Anaximander, Anaximenes was a citizen of Miletus in the sixth century B.C.
Usually Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes are considered to be the founders of
philosophy in Greece. He was supposed to assert air as the ἀρχή of all things. Following the
scheme we used in Anaximander’s case, I propose to begin our investigation of Anaximenes’
doctrine regarding his use of the term ἀρχή with Aristotle. In Metaphysics 984 a 5-7 Aristotle
coupled Anaximenes with another philosopher, Diogenes of Apollonia (V cent. B.C.) who
also considered air the ἀρχή of all things:
87
See Stokes 1971: 28-9, 275-6.
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Anaximenes and Diogenes [of Apollonia] posit air as prior to water as the simple
body that is most properly the source.88
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ἀρχή of all things:
Some said the world is one and limited … such as Aristotle and Plato; some that it
is unlimited, such as Anaximenes, who held that the source is unlimited air; some
that there are worlds infinite in number, such as Anaximander…89
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From Simplicius we learn that Anaximenes was said to have held that air is the unlimited
Hippolytus corroborates the afore mentioned opinions of Aristotle and Simplicius about the
choice of Anaximander’s ἀρχή saying that:
Anaximenes, he too being from Miletus, the son of Eurystratus, said the source
was boundless air, from which the things that are and were and will be and gods
and divinities come to be, the rest from the offspring of this.90
In the so called second fragment of Anaximenes (D-K 13 B 2) We may read the very same
underlying idea of Anaximenes’ ἀρχή - air as well as an information fairly similar to what
was written about Anaximander’s conception in (D-K 12 A 15), i.e. the air of Anaximenes
controls or rules and encompasses the whole world like τὸ ἄπειρον did in Aristotle’s
statement (in Physics 203 b) about Anaximenes’ predecessor, Anaximander:
Anaximenes, son of Eurystratus, of Miletus, declared air to be the source of
beings. For from this do all things arise and back into it do all things dissolve. As
88
Graham 2010: I 75. Aristoteles. Metaphysica 984 a 5-7 (D-K 13 A4): Ἀναξιμένης δὲ ἀέρα καὶ Διογένης
πρότερον ὕδατος καὶ μάλιστ’ ἀρχὴν τιθέασι τῶν ἁπλῶν σωμάτων.
89
Graham 2010: 74. Simplicios, De Caelo 202. 11-14: οἱ μὲν ἕνα κόσμον καὶ πεπερασμένον ἔλεγον…
ὡς Ἀριστοτέλης καὶ Πλάτων, οἱ δὲ ἕνα ἄπεριρον, ὡς Ἀναξιμένης, ἀέρα ἄπειρον τὴν ἄρχηὴν εἶναι
λέγων, οἱ δὲ καὶ τῶι πλήθει ἀπείρους κόσμους, ὡς Ἀναξίμανδρος.
90
Graham 2010: I 78, 79. Hippolutus, Refutatio omnium haeresium. I. 7. 1-3 (D-K 13 A7): Ἀναξιμένης δὲ καὶ
αὐτὸς ὤν Μιλησιος, υἱὸς δ' Εὐρυστράτου, ἀέρα ἄπειρον ἔφη τὴν ἀρχὴν εἶναι, ἐξ οὐ τὰ γινόμενα
καὶ τὰ γεγονότα καὶ τὸὰ ἐσόμενα καὶ θεοὺς καὶ θεῖα γίγνεσθαι, τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ ἐκ τῶν τούτου
ἀπογόνων. Cf. The statement of Pseudo-Plutarch in (DK 13 A6): [Plut.] Strom 3 (D-K 13 A6): Ἀναξιμένην
δὲ φασι τὴν τῶν ὅλων ἀρχὴν τὸν ἀέρα εἰπεῖν καὶ τοῦτον εἶναι τῶι μὲν μεγέθει ἄπειρον, ταῖς δὲ
περὶ αὐτὸν ποιότησιν ὡρισμένον.
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our soul, he says, which is air, controls us, so do breath and air encompass the
whole world-order.91
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According to Aëtius, Anaximenes has said that his ἀρχή (air) encompasses the whole world
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(ὅλον τὸν κόσμον περιέχει) and controls it (συγκρατεῖ), while Anaximander’s τὸ
ἄπειρον
was
supposed
to
steer
everything
like
a
helmsman
steers
a
ship
(πάντα κυβερνᾶν). However, some scholars have reservations about this fragment’s status
as an actual quotation from Anaximenes since the use of φησί – “he says” is not undeniable
evidence. Furthermore the sentence is not in Ionic which is at odds with Diogenes Laertios’
(a biographer of the ancient philosophers from the II century A.D.) statement that
Anaximenes used a simple Ionic speech (D-K 13 A1). After scrutiny some terms used in this
fragment do not seem to support the thesis of D-K 13 B2 being an actual quotation, e.g. the
word συγκρατεῖ is considered to be a late compound, thus not possible to have been used by
Anaximenes, just like the expression ὅλον τὸν κόσμον.92
III. Conclusions
The analysis of early Greek literature with the focus on examining the instances in which a
word group-with the ἀρχ- root (i.e. ἄρχειν and ἀρχή) occurs allows us to conceive the
extent of the idea behind such words as ἀρχή or ἄρχειν since the root has no meaning of its
own but receives it through different suffixes. Owing to the study of the verb in question we
are able to see how closely connected but distinct are the meanings this ἄρχειν has in the
active voice, i.e. to rule, to command, to lead, or simply to walk first, and in the medial one,
i.e. to begin. This duality found its way to manifest itself also in the verbal ἀρχή, which is the
proper subject of our study as it could mean the source or the origin, the power, the position
of authority (ἀρχός), the cause of something or simply the first element in a chain of events.
The various meanings the words with an ἀρχ- root have provide us with evidence for
a supposition that even in the sixth century B.C. the term ἀρχή had a much broader meaning
91
Graham 2010: 76. Aëtios. De Caelo 1. 3. 4. 1-5 (D-K 13 B2): Ἀναξιμένης Εὐρυστράτου Μιλήσιος
ἀρχὴν τῶν ὄντων ἀέρα ἀπεφήνατο· ἐκ γὰρ τούτου πάνταγίγνεσθαι καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν πάλιν
ἀναλύεσθαι ‘οἷον ἡ ψυχή.’ φησίν, ‘ἡ ἡμετέρα ἀὴρ οὖσα συγκρατεῖ ἡμᾶς, καὶ ὅλον τὸν κόσμον
πνεῦμα καὶ ἀὴρ περιέχει’
92 Longrigg 1964: 1.
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than it is often admitted (e.g. J. Burnet, E. Zeller, G. S. Kirk), standing for something more
than a spatial or temporal beginning but also standing for something Aristotle would have
called a material cause, viz. a material something is made of, e.g. people or gods that are the
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source of evil (Homer, Iliad, XI. 604).
The later meaning of ἀρχή as foundation or the frame of some construction (like a
keel of a ship or a foundation of a house) must have been commonplace for the ancient
Greeks and probably old, though the use of ἀρχή in this particular sense has not been
recorded before Plato and Demosthenes. This corresponds with the faculty Aristotle would
have called a formal cause, i.e. the form, what something is to be. The masc. noun ἀρχός –
the head, chief is in the same line, since it implies that there is some instance which controls
and directs efforts falling under its jurisdiction. Although this is a speculation, but it stands to
reason that the meaning of ἀρχή and ἀρχός as a head, ruler implies that the agent described
in this way does not only exercise his power to direct and restrain but also must comply with
some order of conduct. If we were to accept this supposition it will help us to understand how
the term ἀρχή became a name for magistrates (αἱ ἀρχαί), e.g. Thucydides V. 47.9.2, 5.
The faculty of triggering events may be associated with another one of the basic senses
a verb ἄρχειν has, viz. walking first, leading and commanding as a source of change.
The analysis of early Greek literature, most importantly Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey,
allows us to see that the words with a ἀρχ- root, including the noun ἀρχή, form a word-
group with numerous common meanings. If we allow ourselves some freedom in looking for
the underlining idea binding such words as ἄρχειν, ἀρχή, ἀρχός, unencoumbered by strict
grammatical divisions on verbs, nouns, etc, we will reach a possible and plausible explanation
of the senses, the first philosophers could have “contracted” in the term ἀρχή, as not only a
word but a whole concept ideal for their new pursuit of the truth about the nature - φύσις
which stood for the whole universe. This research presents a rational possibility, which of
course cannot be proved or disproved conclusively, that when the first philosophers chose to
study the world as it was known to them, they have not employed the word ἀρχή just to
express the beginning and source but to convey with this one term a complex idea with
numerous applications. Since they probably already had the word φύσις – nature associated
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with the verb φύειν (inf. preas. act. of φύω – to grow) why have they not used the kindred
terms ῥίζα – the root and πήγη - the source, spring, which seem to us conceptually
connected with the idea of nature and growth. This is of course only a speculation but I find
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the supposition that people who were conscious of the abundance of meanings some words
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had, would use the term which could convey “one and many” concepts their unsophisticated
philosophical vocabulary was not yet able to express. If we are to look not only at ancient
philosophy but also modern ontology and metaphysics we will come to a conclusion that the
first philosophers did very well in introducing the term ἀρχή and the general concept
associated with it since the question of the principle and the source may still be asked on the
grounds of modern philosophy.
However convincing the semantic evidence for the consideration of the much greater
significance of the term ἀρχή in early Geek philosophy may be , it should not be taken as a
claim that there existed some sort of a theory of matter and causation as Aristotle and the
Peripatetics knew it, two centuries before Aristotle. Such an assertion would be wholly
unhistorical. The analysis presented in this paper merely advocates for a broader look at
philosophy by examining the literature and culture to a much greater degree and for giving the
early philosophers a benefit of a doubt in not committing to an overly simplified view of their
conceptions. The semantic analysis at least suggests that the first philosophers at least might
have had some kind of a crude idea of a principle and causality.
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Summary
The aim of this paper is to present a classification of the meanings of the term ἀρχή in
literary sources up to the sixth century B.C., when the first philosophers, i.e. Thales,
Anaximander, and Anaximenes appeared. Although ἀρχή has been a topic of discussion at
least from the times of John Burnet who denied the possibility of its having been an original
Presocratic term and insisted that it was only a word, used by Aristotle and his followers for
the principle of the early Greek philosophers, I feel that this matter did not get its fair share
of attention. To allow for a better understanding of the semantic range of the term ἀρχή, I
investigate the presented analysis of various meanings of certain words with the ἀρχ- root,
most notably ἄρχειν (ind praes. act. ἄρχω) from whose verb-stem the noun ἀρχή is formed.
This paper does not make a claim for a decisive argument in the discussion of the term ἀρχή
by the early Greek philosophers but only analyses the semantic range of this and other
words with the same root. The aim is to determine if such an investigation will shed some
light on the reasons why the term was adopted for in the Presocratic philosophy
KEYWORDS: ἀρχή; principle; cause; Greek Etymology; Greek Grammar; Linguistic; New
Hebrew; Hebrew Etymology; Homer; Hesiod; Aristotle; Plato; Presocratics; Principle; Burnet;
Zeller; Simplicios; Theophrastus; Lexicography; Anaximander; Anaximenes; Tales
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
SŁOWA KLUCZOWE: ἀρχή; grecka etymologia; grecka gramatyka; lingwistyka; współczesny
hebrajski; hebrajska etymologia; Homer; Hezjod; Arystoteles; Platon; zasada; principium;
www.litant.eu
Littera Antiqua
Burnet; Zeller; Simlikios; Teofrast; leksykografia; Anaksymander; Anaksymenes; Tales
Maciej Roszkowski, MA, graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology on Maria
Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin (Poland). Fields of interest: history of Greek religion;
history of Greek philosophy (mainly the Presocratics, Plato and Aristotle); history of ancient
Greek mathematics and science (mainly Euclid and Archimedes); non-Greek mythology:
Egyptian, Babylonian, Celtic, Scandinavian and Hebrew.
[email protected]
81
E-mail: [email protected],
„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
PIOTR ŚWIERCZ
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Some Remarks on Paradigms in the Recent Studies in Orphism
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(Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow)
In his paper on Orphism as a Scientific Paradigm delivered during the Colloquia
Orphica IV held at Nieborów in 2012 and published in the fifth issue of Littera Antiqua,1
Przemysław Biernat discussed the rivaling paradigms in modern interpretations of the ancient
material labelled as "Orphic." The author focused on the two dominant paradigms in the Orphic
studies that have been proposed by the most prominent scholars, namely Alberto Bernabé
Pajares (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) and Radcliffe Guest Edmonds III (Bryn Mawr
College). Having proceeded to discuss the problem I am going to compare the most important
elements in them and, then, to consider whether these two paradigms are so totally different
from each other as they seem at first glance or whether they may be convergent in some parts.
In my analyses, after briefly presenting the traditional interpretation of Orphism, I will move to
Edmonds' proposition, then to Bernabé's reply. Though chronologically it would be more
appropriate to begin with Bernabé, beginning with Edmonds' critique seems more appropriate
in this article due to the main problem discussed.
Let us summarize the dispute. The central problem is the relevance of the so-called
Dionysian myth on the dismemberment of Zagreus, the elder Dionysus, by the Titans. The
myth in question is regarded by most scholars as the keystone of both the Orphic doctrines and
rituals celebrated in the Orphic circles. Therefore, if someone undermines this myth or
exchanges it for a different one, he puts into question the existence of the Orphic communities
and even Orphism itself.
The Dionysian myth was to combine cosmogonic and theogonic aspects with
anthropogonic and soteriological ones. Interpreted from the Dionysian perspective, Orphism
becomes a fundamental antithesis of Homeric anthropology, which implied the temporality, i.e.
mortality, of the human soul whose essence was believed to be constituted by man’s power and
wealth with no immortality attributed to it except the memory of its famous deeds - a mere
substitute for true immortality. The ideology of Orphism, on the contrary, emphasized the
immortality of the soul as the essence of the human being and made the faith in eschatological
rewards and punishments its axiom.
1
Biernat 2012: 4-12.
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The interpretation in question seems to be prevalent in the study of Orphism since the
time of Domenico Comparetti (1910). This does not mean, of course, that there is a general
consensus in the scholarly world. For instance, the most influential scholars of the previous
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centuries, Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Ivan M. Linforth, and Eric R. Dodds,
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expressed their skepticism based primarily on a critical evaluation of the source material and its
interpretation within the dominant paradigm.
The second half of the twentieth century brought a far-reaching revival of the Orphic
studies. A number of new archaeological discoveries, whether it be the golden leaves,2 bone
plates from Olbia (discovered in 1952, published in 1978), or the Derveni papyrus (1962),
seemed to throw new light on some questions related to Orphism, greatly enhancing the
predominant Dionysian paradigm. Even such skeptical scholars as Martin L. West (b. 1937)
accept the antiquity of the Dionysian myth, with some doubts and reservations. The last decade
of the twentieth century, however, brought fundamental critique from Radcliffe G. Edmonds
III.
I. EDMONDS’ CRITIQUE
To simplify, Edmonds' criticism boils down to a critique of the relevance of the myth on
the dismemberment of Dionysus-Zagreus. As regards the interpretation of the golden plates
from the perspective of the Dionysian myth, he states:
"Although this myth of Zagreus provides a seductively simple and neat
explanation of the cryptic gold tablet, it is unfortunately a modern creation that
could not have been known to the 'Orphics' of Timpone Piccolo. Indeed, I shall
demonstrate that this Zagreus myth is, in fact, a modern fabrication dependent
upon Christian models that reconstruct the fragmentary evidence in terms of a
unified 'Orphic' church, an almost Christian religion with dogma based on a
central myth – specifically, salvation from original sin through the death and
resurrection of the suffering god. If the evidence is viewed without these
assumptions, it can be put back together quite differently."3
In the same paper he shows that the Dionysian myth consists of four elements: 1. “the
dismemberment of Dionysus”; 2. “the punishment of the Titans”; 3. “the creation of mankind
2
The first golden leaves were discovered in 1835. Since that time many leaves have been discovered. In recent
years, some leaves were found in the tombs in Thessaly and Macedonia.
3
Edmonds 1999: 36; see also Edmonds 2009: 511–32.
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from the Titans”; 4. “the inheritance humans receive from the first three elements – burden of
guilt from the Titans’ crime and the divine spark from the remains of Dionysus.”4 The first
three elements are in fact separate motifs, which “live their lives independently” in Greek
mythology and literature (Edmonds rigorously analyzed each of them in support of his
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argument). The fourth element, Edmonds asserts, “is an addition of modern scholars.”5
Moreover, he argues that the first three elements appear together explicitly for the first time in
Olympiodorus (the sixth century AD, c. 495-570), who used them in order to support the
conviction that committing suicide should be prohibited, and it is, as Edmonds argues,
Olympiodorus’ own interpretation, not the common Orphic version of the dismemberment
myth. On the one hand, Edmonds denies the authenticity of Titanic heritage that is the result of
"original sin" and the implied duality of human nature; on the other hand, he assumes that the
importance ascribed to the myth of the dismemberment of Dionysus in the Orphic context is a
product of late antiquity, presumably of Neoplatonic reflection. Thus, in this case it is
impossible to speak of the anthropogonic aspect that appears with Olympiodorus' relation. The
relevance of the anthropogonic aspect is, after all, overrated by contemporary researchers who
have made it the keystone of the alleged "Orphism." To make matters worse, this hypothesis,
which recognizes the myth of the dismemberment of Dionysus as the central myth in Orphism,
greatly influenced the previous analysis of all ancient texts and archaeological materials. In
other words, the researchers were "forced" to look for evidence of the myth in various sources
(such as Plato’s dialogues and the golden leaves) and to collect every single piece that would be
useful to this interpretation, despite the fact that they [these pieces] can be interpreted just as
well, and usually better, in a different context.
Briefly characterized, Edmonds' attitude towards the myth of the dismemberment of
Dionysus-Zagreus has far-reaching consequences with regard to the proposed understanding of
Orphism and the overall design of the study and reading of passages referred to as "Orphic."
Edmonds rejects the understanding of Orphism both as a centrally-organized religion,
and as a dogmatic way of life, in which the myth of the dismemberment of Dionysus and its
consequences in the form of the concept of "original sin" and the duality of human nature play
a central role. He points out that this view of Orphism results from the imposition of details that
have their source in the Christian concept of religion: a prophet (Orpheus), holy books (the
alleged poems of Orpheus), a flaw of human nature that requires redemption through the
sacrifice of the son of God (Dionysus), and salvation made available to those who follow the
4
5
Edmonds 1999: 37.
Edmonds 1999: 38.
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path designated by the prophet. Edmonds suggests a different approach. As stated in the
announcement of his recent book, "Rather than looking for a coherent set of sacred texts
canonical to people who considered themselves Orphics, texts expressive of doctrines
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pertaining to sin, salvation, and afterlife, we should look for the products of bricolage, pieced
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together from widely available traditional material to meet the demand of clients looking for
extra-ordinary solutions to their problems. If the texts and rituals are products of bricolage,
however, and their creators bricoleurs competing for authority, we cannot expect to find either
consistency of texts or doctrines, merely a loose family resemblance between composites of the
same traditional elements. A redefinition of ancient Orphism requires a polythetic definition
that accommodates the complexities of the ancient contexts rather than the sort of monothetic
definition that identifies Orphism by its scriptures and doctrines."6 In his earlier book, Edmonds
writes, regarding the golden leaves, "rather than explaining all the tablets simply as the
products of a single (and anachronistic) ‘Orphic’ doctrine of original sin, analyzing the
different ways in which these ‘Orphic’ tablets make use of traditional mythic elements to depict
the journey to the underworld reveals the various modes of protest they are expressing against
the world from which they came."7
II. BERNABÉ'S REPLY
Alberto Bernabé Pajares, in a number of his papers, criticizes Edmonds' viewpoint and
arguments to defend the relevance of the myth of Dionysus-Zagreus for the interpretation of
Orphism. Above all, he argues that the Dionysian myth is invoked not only by Olympiodorus,
but also by other Neoplatonic philosophers such as Proclus (412-485 AD) and Damascius (c.
480-550 AD). He states that "the sequence Damascius presents us with (the death of Dionysus,
the punishment of the Titans, the creation of man and dualism of the human soul, froura/ and
metempsychosis) is the same as the one offered to us by Olympiodorus. It also appears in
Proclus, who confirms that people came from the Titans" (trans. L. Fretschel).8 In addition, he
presents several allusions to the Dionysian myth made by Aristophanes, Plato, Plutarch, as well
as those in the Orphic Argonautics and the Orphic Hymns. To sum up the analysis of the abovementioned testimonies, he concludes: "All this leads us to the conclusion that the Orphic myth
6
Edmonds,
Redefining
Ancient
Orphism.
N.d.
Accessed
30
Sept.
2013.
(http://www.brynmawr.edu/classics/redmonds/Redefining.html).
7
Edmonds 2004, p. 109.
8
Bernabé 2008: 593–4: "la secuencia que nos presenta Damascio (muerte de Dioniso, castigo de los Titanes,
creació de los hombres y dualidad de su alma, froura/ y metempsicosis) es la misma que nos ofrece Olimpiodoro.
Y aperece también en otros textos de Proclo en que se afirma que los hombres procedon de los Titanes."
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of Dionysus and the Titans is not a nineteenth-century design, mirage, or the result of Christian
prejudice, as the critics who deny its existence believe, but that it comes from ancient Greece,
albeit from areas a bit religiously marginal, which means no such diffusion as broad as in the
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case of other myths is seen here. Each of the authors who relay this story, as indeed always
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happens with myths, select individual elements of the paradigm. But we see that in this case
incompatible elements are not added to the narrative (nor the interpretation, but that is another
matter entirely). The narrative is also consistent in time. In this way, a long-lasting, longpresent religious movement is preserved. We cannot assign it to any other religious movement
than to Orphism" (trans. L. Fretschel).9
Bernabé consistently criticizes Edmonds' definition of Orphism. While appreciating his
analysis of the political dimension of Orphism (in light of Edmonds' studies of the golden
leaves), he also states that "the interpretatio politica does not exhaust the scope of these
texts."10 He points out that Edmonds’ view of the golden plates as a socio-political protest may
raise serious doubts, because, as he puts it, "it is a strange protest, a silent one, because it was
destined to be buried. It is likely that political dissatisfaction is an aspect of the interpretation of
the texts, but the limitation of the gold tablets to that is a quite reductionist view.”11
III. LOOKING FOR A COMPROMISE
I would now like to refer to the key problems outlined above. Let us start with the
fundamental question, namely the Dionysian myth. Before I discuss the credibility of the
ancient story on the dismemberment of Zagreus and its possible relation to the so-called Orphic
doctrine, I would like to start from its consequence, that is, the tenets of the duality of human
nature and "original sin."
Let us look at two passages from Plato's dialogues Cratylus and Gorgias that evoke the
formula to\ sw=ma e)stin h(mi=n sh=ma, attributed to the Orphics. The quotations go thus:
9
Bernabé 2008: 607: "Todo ello nos lleva a concluir que el mito órfico de Dioniso y los Titanes no es una
construcción del siglo XIX, un espejismo, fruto de un prejuicio cristianizante, como creen los críticos que niegan
su existencia, sino que procede de la Grecia antigua, si bien de sectores religiosos un tanto marginales, lo que
provoca que no encuentre una difusión en las fuentes tan amplia como la de otros mitos. Cada uno de los diversos
autores que se refieren a esta historia, como por otra parte ocurre siempre con los mitos, seleccionan elementos
sueltos del paradigma. Pero vemos en este caso que nunca añaden en la narración (no en la interpretación, que es
otra cosa) elementos incompatibles con el esquema trazado. El esquema se nos muestra tan nítido y tan coherenta
que podemos reconstruilo de un modo muy verosímil. Es, además, un esquema muy consecuente a lo largo del
tiempo. Responde, por tanto, a un movimiento religioso que tuvo una larga duración, una larga presencia. A
ningún otro movimiento religioso podríamos achacar esta persistencia tan duradera, si no es orfismo."
10
Bernabé 2006: 4.
11
Bernabé 2006: 5.
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“For some say that the body is the grave of the soul which may be thought to be
buried in our present life; or again the index of the soul, because the soul gives
indications to the body; probably the Orphic poets were the inventors of the name,
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and that the body is an enclosure or prison in which the soul is incarcerated, kept
safe, as the name soma implies, until the penalty is paid; according to this view, not
even a letter of the word need be changed” (Plato, Cratylus, 400c1–9, trans. B.
Jowett).12
“But surely life according to your view is an awful thing; and indeed I think that
Euripides may have been right in saying, »Who knows if life be not death and death
life«; and that we are very likely dead; I have heard a philosopher say that at this
moment we are actually dead, and that the body is our tomb, and that the part of the
soul which is the seat of the desires is liable to be tossed about by words and blown
up and down” (Plato, Gorgias, 492e1–493a5, trans. B. Jowett).13
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and they were under the impression that the soul is suffering the punishment of sin,
The core of the problem is the provenance of the "body is our tomb" formula. The
scholarly literature prefers the view that there is a relation between the Cratylus passage and
the Orphic tenets. Some prominent scholars, however, including Wilamowitz, Linforth, and
Dodds, disagree with this opinion. Let us take a closer look at Eric Dodds' arguments. It was
assumed by him that Plato contrasted two etymologies of the word sw=ma: one connected with
some unspecified tine/j who derived sw=ma from sh=ma or shmai/nw, and the other
associated with oi( a)mfi\ )Orfe/a who derived sw=ma from sw/?zein, i(/na sw/?zhtai.
12
kai\ ga\r sh=ma tine/j fasin au)to\ ei)=nai th=j yuxh=j, w(j teqamme/nhj e)n tw=? nu=n paro/nti: kai\
dio/ti au)= tou/tw? shmai/nei a(\ a)\n shmai/nh? h( yuxh/, kai\ tau/th? "sh=ma" o)rqw=j kalei=sqai. dokou=sime/ntoi moi ma/lista qe/sqai oi( a)mfi\ )Orfe/a tou=to to\ o)/noma, w(j di/khn didou/shj th=j yuxh=j w(=n
dh\ e(/neka di/dwsin, tou=ton de\ peri/bolon e)/xein, i(/na sw/?zhtai, desmwthri/ou ei)ko/na: ei)=nai
ou)=n th=j yuxh=j tou=to, w(/sper au)to\ o)noma/zetai, e(/ws a)\n e)ktei/sh? ta\ o)feilo/mena, [to\] "sw=ma",
kai\ ou)de\n dei=n para/gein ou)d’e(\n gra/mma.
13
a)lla me\n dh\ kai\ w(=n ge su\ le/geij deino\j o( bi/oj. ou) ga/r toi qauma/zoim’a)/n, ei) Eu)ripi/dhj a)lh-q
h= e)n toi=sde le/gei, le/gwn "ti/j d’oi)=den, ei) to\ zh=n me/n e)sti katqanei=n, to\ katqanei=n de\ zh=n";
kai\ h(mei=j tw=? o)/nti i)/swj te/qnamen: h)/dh tou e)/gwge kai\ h)/kousa tw=n sofw=n, w(j nu=n h(mei=j te/qnamen, kai\ to\ me\n sw=ma/ e)stin h(mi=n sh=ma, th=j de\ yuxh=j tou=to, e)n w(=? e)piqumi/ai ei)si/, tugxa/nei o)\n oi(=on a)napei/qesqai kai\ metapi/ptein a)/nw ka/tw.
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Therefore, Dodds excludes the possibility of identifying tine/j with oi( a)mfi\ )Orfe/a.14
Edmonds agrees with Dodds' interpretation. He states as follows:
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whether oi( a)mfi\ )Orfe/a also provide the etymology of sw=ma/sh=ma, the body
as the tomb of the soul, which, on the strength of this passage, has been declared a
central tenet of the »Orphic faith« by some modern scholars. I follow Wilamowitz
and Linforth 1941, p. 148 in reading the passage as drawing a distinction between
the etymology of oi( a)mfi\ )Orfe/a and the unnamed tinej who provide the
sw=ma/sh=ma derivation… nevertheless, the sw=ma/sh=ma idea must come from a
religious movement very similar to that which supports its ideas with the poems of
Orpheus, the 'Orphics' in the strictest sense."15
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"The controversy surrounding this passage mostly revolves around the issue of
Bernabé defends the Orphic origin of the formula to\ sw=ma e)stin h(mi=n sh=ma as
well as identifies tinej with oi( a)mfi\ )Orfe/a.16 He argues that the etymological relation
between sw=ma and sw/zw must be Plato’s own invention:
"Plato, by way of a new etymology suggesting that sw=ma is a name derived from
sw/izw, reinterprets the role of the body in a positive sense, as a protection of the
soul, using the idea of a prison as an intermediary" (trans. L. Fretschel).17
Bernabé’s arguments that are summarized here sound convincing to me.18 However, the
matter is controversial and there remain some doubts. In addition to purely linguistic analyses,
it is interesting that Olympiodorus in his commentary on Plato's Gorgias does not imply that
the to\ sw=ma e)stin h(mi=n sh=ma formula is of Orphic origin in identifying the soul-barrel
myth as a Pythagorean one. Olympiodorus does not comment directly on the origin of the
formula in which we are interested, but he interweaves it with the Pythagorean myth, stating:
le/gei ga\r ta/fon to\ sh=ma, sh=ma de\ to\ sw=ma ["For he calls prison a tomb, and the body
14
Dodds 1951: 130, n. 87.
Edmonds 2004: 177, n. 48.
16
Bernabé 1995: 204–37; Bernabé 2010: 112–43.
17
Bernabé 2010: 136: "Platón, a través de la nueva etimología que propone que sw=ma es un nombre de resultado
de sw/izw, reinterpreta el papel del cuerpo en un sentido más positivo, como proteccíon del alma, utilizando como
intermedio la idea de la prisión."
18
In my opinion, the most important linguistic argument for identifying tinej with oi( a)mfi\ )Orfe/a is the
difficulty that ensues when ma/lista is rejected as a word describing tinej – such a rejection seems groundless.
15
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a prison" - P.Ś].19 Is it possible, therefore, that the formula in question is of Pythagorean origin?
I do not think that this possibility can be ruled out completely. At the same time, however, there
is no doubt that even if the etymology itself does not come from the Orphics (although the
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problem of the interrelation between Pythagoreanism and Orphism is complicated and
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impossible to interpret unambiguously), Plato's testimonium, as Edmonds rightly points out,
indicates the far-reaching relationship between the concept of sw=ma/sh=ma and the Orphic
view on the relationship between body and soul. What is the essence of this relationship? Let us
take a closer look at this question with reference to the story of the soul-barrel from the
Gorgias.
The fragment from Cratylus quoted above indicates that the soul resides in the body as
in a kind of prison - to be punished, to be corrected, and, finally, for the sake of justice. There is
no doubt that in this sense the tenet implies the dualism of natures in man. But is it true that the
concept of "original sin" is necessarily born from this dualism?
The first problem that arises from a question formulated this way concerns the concept
of the inheritance of guilt. This inheritance in the context of justice, understood as the
inevitability of punishment, known since the times of Homer and Hesiod, and often undertaken
in Greek tragedies, appears as emblematic in the political poetry of Solon. In fragment 13,20 he
points out that although there is no escape from the vengeance of Zeus, it happens that children
will be punished for the sins of their ancestors. It is in this light, Edmonds suggests, that the
problem of the inheritance of guilt which also appears in the golden leaves should be viewed.
He states thus:
"Along with the idea of paying for an ancestor’s crimes naturally comes the idea of
somehow evading the penalty. [...] the Orpheotelests described in Plato’s Republic
seem to have promised more complete results from the sacrifices they advised, and,
in the Phaedrus, Plato mentions Dionysiac purifications as bringing relief to those
suffering under the burdens of the crimes of their ancestors. Olympiodorus refers to
the role of Dionysos Lusios and his rites in freeing an individual from the penalty
of crimes committed by ancestors. But, contrary to Graf’s assertions regarding the
Pelinna tablets, the lawless ancestors of these passages need not be the Titans. [...]
Dionysos [...] role in freeing the initiate, in this life or the next, from the penalties
19
20
Olimpiodorus, In Platonis Gorgiam commentaria 30, 1, 9–10.
Anthologia Lyrica Graeca.
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due for the crimes of ancestors is simply an extension of this essential aspect of
eschatology."21
Referring to the comments on the sw=ma/sh=ma, the following can be said: the soul in
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the body is punished for its offenses or for its ancestors’ offenses, but this does not necessarily
mean the Titans’ offense as universal human ancestors. This argument, applied to the formula
of sw=ma/sh=ma, has a clear weakness. After all, Plato in his Gorgias and Cratylus speaks of
the joining of the soul and the body as such. He does not speak about any misfortunes that
result from the human being's or its ancestors offenses at this point. Incarnation itself, so to
speak, is "punishment." This inevitably leads to the question: what was the beginning of this
state of affairs? In other words, it leads us to the question of anthropogony. In my opinion,
regardless of whether we refer here to the myth of the dismemberment of Dionysius or to other
mythical motifs connecting humanity with the Titans, or even leaving this motif completely on
the side, the concept of sw=ma/sh=ma only becomes logically consistent when the
anthropogonic thread is introduced,22 resulting in a characteristic of the conditio humana.
The second topic that needs to be analyzed concerns the understanding of dualism
arising from the concept of sw=ma/sh=ma or its Orphic equivalent from the perspective of the
Dionysian myth. The traditional interpretation sees in the body an aspect of the Titanic
heritage, while in the soul - a Dionysian one.23 There are two reasons, however, why such a
view should not be maintained.
Firstly, it would mean that the soul is in the body due to the offense that Dionysus
committed. However, nothing in the myth quoted by Olympiodorus admits such a possibility.
What is more, it sounds almost absurd to bear the guilt of the one who is then "liberator" and
"savior." It is difficult even to propose a reasonable hypothesis of what Dionysus' offense
would be. The only thing that comes to mind is the fact that he was a descendant of Zeus out of
wedlock - after all, Hera had persuaded the Titans to dismember Dionysus. Therefore,
Dionysus would inherit the guilt of his father.
Secondly, it is difficult to understand how only the body is of Titanic heritage. After all,
the Titans did not offend by their "flesh" but by envy and lust of power, which resulted in a
21
Edmonds 199: 54–5.
An even wider context for the interpretation is possible, as in Neoplatonic philosophy from the perspective of
the problem of the one-many relationships throughout the cosmos. The anthropological aspect would then be only
a specific application of the general concept. See for example: Olympiodoros, In Platonis "Phaedonem”
commentaria I, 4, 4-5, 14 and Proclus, In Platonis "Timaeum” commentaria I, 314, 4-10.
23
See for example: Vernant 1990: 112; Reale 1987: 453; Krokiewicz 2000: 40 ff; Kupis 1989: 196.
22
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revolt against the order of things.24 These features (i.e. envy and lust of power) can be
considered "bodily" from the perspective of Homeric anthropology, but from this perspective,
all "spiritual" characteristics are "bodily." Certainly, however, from the perspective of the
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Platonic theory of soul, these features are "spiritual." Therefore, to avoid ambiguity, the
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meaning of "Titanic" should be clarified. In reference to the aforementioned Platonic concept
of soul, I think that it would be the most appropriate to identify the Titanic element of soul with
the appetitive part.
As a result, the soul must be understood as a combination of two parts: the Dionysian
part and the Titanic, or appetitive part, which can also be understood as the sum of the
appetitive and passionate parts, that is, as the emotional part. But how should the Dionysian
aspect of the soul be understood? In terms of both Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophy, only
one possibility emerges: it is none other than rationality. The interpretation implied in the
Gorgias seems to confirm such a point of view. Two types of life: the orderly life
(o( ko/smioj bi/oj) and the disorderly life (o( a)ko/lastoj bi/oj) correspond, respectively, to
the dominance of the rational and appetitive parts of the soul. Where does the body fit into such
a structure? Without a doubt, it needs to promote the dominance of the appetitive part. I would
even risk saying that the body, not being an autonomous part of the human being, is in fact the
source of all movement of the appetitive part, since it is the basis of all its desires and
aspirations.
It seems that the above interpretation agrees both with the Platonic passages (Cratylus,
400c1–9; Gorgias, 492e1–493a5) and the Dionysian myth, without direct reference to that
myth. In the case of the Dionysian myth, it is enough to give up the symbols of Dionysus and
the Titans. Either way, it seems likely that the concept of sw=ma/sh=ma, as its Orphic
equivalent, leads to the concept of two opposite factors by which a man is driven: the rational
part and the appetitive part. Thus, the human being becomes a kind of arena for the clash of two
seemingly contradictory natures.
Now, the question arises whether the abovementioned two natures can be characterized
as good and evil. The problem is very complex. It is difficult to conduct an in-depth analysis
with reference only to the texts referred to as Orphic. Therefore, I propose taking a look at the
Pythagorean table of opposites.
24
This includes, of course, not only the myth of the dismemberment of Dionysus, but also the Titanomachy.
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At this point, I will only present the conclusions, as the analysis of the status of good
and evil in Pythagorean philosophy may be the subject of a separate paper.25 From the
perspective of Pythagoreanism, it is impossible to speak of "evil" at the level of principles, that
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is, of absolute "evil." This means that Pythagorean dualism is not absolute, but is merely an
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expression of the human perception of reality. People know that the cosmos is a unity, albeit
they can see and understand its unity only through the duality of opposites. The cosmos,
synonymous with being, is good, but people see the good in a close relationship with evil,
which is not "real," but is only the "weaker good," something that manifests itself at the level of
phenomenal. It is in fact only a deficiency of the good, a deficiency of determinationunification, a violation of the right proportions.
It is certainly debatable whether these complex and subtle distinctions and conclusions
most likely made by the Pythagoreans and their commentators can be used to reconstruct the
alleged Orphic anthropology. Surely, we should be very careful and remember that we are
dealing only with a hypothesis. However, I think that in light of our knowledge of the
importance of the problem of the unity of opposites in Pre-Socratic philosophy and of how this
problem appears in the Derveni Papyrus, the hypothesis that the above interpretation on the
unity of good and evil in Pythagorean philosophy may also be related to the duality of natures
in Orphism is acceptable. In consequence of the acceptance of this hypothesis, a reading that
indicates duality can easily trigger off the anachronism of "original sin." Moreover, I will
venture to propose the hypothesis that the logical consequence of this kind of (alleged) Orphic
anthropology is a complete reversal of Christian soteriology: through the "release" of his soul,
through participation in the mysteries, and through a just life in accordance with his Dionysian
part (that is, the reasoning part of soul according to Neoplatonic philosophy), a man becomes
the real savior of the world.
Therefore, I propose keeping the concept of duality in the interpretation of Orphism, as
well as rejecting reading this concept in the context of "original sin." At this point, I agree with
Edmonds’ opinion that the concept of "original sin" is marked by Christian anachronism. In
addition, as I tried to demonstrate above, I believe it to be contrary to the logic of the Dionysian
myth, or, to generalize, the concept of duality of natures. I also suggest a certain restraint in
relation to the Dionysus myth. On the other hand, I am not convinced that it is "a curious
concoction";26 rather, I admit the possibility of the myth's authenticity. At the same time,
however, it seems more likely to me that it is a late version, perhaps developed over centuries,
25
26
See: Świercz 2008: 236-42, 343-5; regarding political aspect: pp. 297-306.
Edmonds 2009: 511-32.
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which nonetheless remains essential to Orphic anthropology and perhaps Orphic anthropogony.
If we assume Olympiodorus' version to be the ancient one, it is difficult to understand why for
centuries no detail of it has penetrated to a wider audience. On the other hand, the Stoic
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understanding of man as composed of an animal and of a god (Epictetus27) suggests that this
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idea could have been known previously, though not necessarily in connection with the myth of
the dismemberment of Dionysus, the burning of the Titans, and the creation of man from the
soot of Titans.
One final question remains. Edmonds emphasizes the importance of political protest, of
the counter-cultural dimension in the interpretation of the "Orphic" gold leaves. Bernabé, not
agreeing to reduce the golden leaves only to the political dimension, appreciates the inclusion
of this motif. I think that herein lies the path to reconciling these two paradigms. Why?
First of all, because it is hard to imagine the ancient Greek concept of man, the concept
of the good life, without reference to the community, to the polis. At the same time, however,
any such concept of community or polis was inscribed in a kind of theory of the world,
according to the concept of macrocosmos-cosmos-microcosmos (world-state-man). Without a
doubt, it is difficult to indicate pure Orphic materials (if such materials exist), on which one
could conduct a separate study. However, considering Euripides’ Hippolytus and Antiope, the
works of Aristophanes, and finally the golden leaves, the image of a countercultural,
theologically and anthropologically legitimate lifestyle and resulting proper relation to the
political community emerge.28 Firstly, I think, that every anthropology and every political
attitude needs its own "cosmogony" and "theogony" (philosophically speaking, they need
ontologies). Secondly, every cosmogony and theogony is connected with a certain
anthropogony and anthropology, which serves as the foundation for political beliefs and
political attitudes.
IV. CONCLUSIONS
I think that in the light of the above analysis, which takes into account both paradigms,
we can formulate a working definition of Orphism: an intellectually multiform mystic
religious trend varied over time and space, of an unknown degree of formalization,
legitimating itself by referring to Orpheus and attached to his cosmogony, theogony and
27
Epicteti Dissertationes ab Arriano digestae. Epictetus I, 3.
Every community that rejects the dominant culture and its norms (attitude, preferences) indicates by the very
fact of its existence other norms which are acknowledged by this community and its members as better than the
rejected dominant norms.
28
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anthropogony, based on the duality of the world and, consequently, on the duality of
human nature, expressed, among others, in a countercultural protest against the sociopolitical and religious orders that predominated over the Greek poleis and were based on
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the recognition of power, fame, and material wealth as the highest values.
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In addition, I am very critically disposed towards the "critical rationalism" of K. R.
Popper,29 who defines the development of science as falsificationism. On the other hand, the
theories of Thomas Kuhn30 and Paul Feyerabend,31 along with the fine adjustment provided by
Imre Lakatos,32 are far closer to me. I am convinced by the argument put forward by
Feyerabend in his Against Method, whereby theoretical anarchism is more conducive to the
development of science than alternative concepts. From this point of view, I see the two
examined paradigms as complementary. The on-going debate between them, probably never
possible to solve, can bring immense benefits to humanities research in general and to studies
in Orphism in particular. On the basis of Lakatos’ theory of benefits for the development of the
discipline, however, I think that keeping the idea of the two human natures (not necessarily
referring to the relation of Olympiodorus and necessarily rejecting the idea of "original sin") is
a necessity, because otherwise we lose the landmark that is needed by every science. In the
meantime, it is difficult to find an alternative.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Anthologia Lyrica Graeca, ed. E. Diehl, fasc. 1, Leipzig 1949.
Epicteti Dissertationes ab Arriano digestae. Epictetus, ed. H. Schenkl, B.G. Teubner, Leipzig
1916.
Olimpiodorus, In Platonis Gorgiam commentari, ed. L.G. Westerink, Leipzig 1970.
Olympiodorus, In Platonis Phaedonem commentaria, ed. L.G. Westerink, Amsterdam 1976.
29
Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994), a philosopher of science who advocated critical rationalism. Notable works:
Logik der Forschung, Vienna 1935 (English edition: The Logic of Scientific Discovery, London 1959),
Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, London 1963.
30
Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996), a philosopher of science who introduced the term "paradigm shift.” Main work: The
structure of Scientific Revolution, Chicago University Press 1962.
31
Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994) a philosopher of science and author of the concept of "epistemological
anarchism.” Main work: Against Method: Outline of an Amarchistic Theory of Knowledge, in: Analyses of
Theories and Methods of Physics and Psychology, ed. M. Radner and S. Winokur, Minneapolis, 1970).
32
Imre Lakatos (1922-1974), a philosopher of science who introduced the concept of the "research programme.”
Notable works: Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, Cambridge University Press 1970; Proofs and
Refutations, Cambridge University Press 1976; The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.
Philosophical Papers, Volume 1, Cambridge University Press 1977; Mathematics, Science and Epistemology.
Philosophical Papers, Volume 2, Cambridge University Press 1978.
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Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum commentaria, ed. E. Diehl, Leipzig 1903.
Bernabé, A., El mito órfico de Dioniso y los Titanes, In: Orfeo y la tradició órfica. Un
reencuentro, coordinado por A. Bernabé y F. Casadesús, Madrid 2008, pp. 591-607.
www.litant.eu
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Bernabé, A., Platón y el orfismo. Diálogos entre religión y filosofía, Madrid 2010, pp. 112–143.
Bernabé, A., Revision of „Myth of the Underworld Journey: Plato, Aristophanes, and the
»Orphic« Gold Tablets” by Radcliff G. Edmonds III, „Aestimatio” 3 (2006).
Bernabé, A., Una etimología platónica: sw=ma/sh=ma, „Philologus”, 1995, 2 (139), pp. 204–
237.
Biernat, P., Orfizm jako paradygmat naukowy, “Littera Antiqua”, no. 5 (2012), p. 4-12.
Dodds, E. R., The Greek and the Irrational, Berkeley – Los Angeles, 1951.
Edmonds, R. G., III, A Curious Concoction: Tradition and Innovation in Olympiodorus’
“Orphic” Creation of Mankind, “American Journal of Philology” 130 (2009), pp. 511–532.
Edmonds, R. G., III, Myths of the Underworld Journey: Plato, Aristophanes, and the “Orphic”
Gold Tablets, Cambridge 2004.
Edmonds, R.G.III, Redefining Ancient Orphism,
http://www.brynmawr.edu/classics/redmonds/Redefining.html, access: 30.09.2013.
Edmonds, R. G., III, Tearing Apart the Zagreus Myth: A Few Disparaging Remarks on
Orphism and Original Sin, „Classical Antiquity”, Vol. 18, No. 1, April 1999.
Feyerabend, P. K., Against Method, London 1975.
Feyerabend, P. K., Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge, in:
Analyses of Theories and Methods of Physics and Psychology, ed. by Radner M., and Winokur, S.,
Minneapolis, 1970, p. 17-112 (?).
Krokiewicz, A., Studia orfickie, In: idem, Studia orfickie. Moralność Homera i etyka Hezjoda,
Warszawa 2000.
Kuhn, T., The structure of Scientific Revolution, Chicago University Press 1962.
Kupis, B., Historia religii w starożytnej Grecji, Warszawa 1989.
Lakatos, I., Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, Cambridge University Press 1970.
Lakatos, I., Mathematics, Science and Epistemology. Philosophical Papers, Volume 2,
Cambridge University Press 1978.
Lakatos, I., Proofs and Refutations, Cambridge University Press 1976.
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Lakatos, I., The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes. Philosophical Papers, Volume
1, Cambridge University Press 1977.
Popper, K.R., Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, London 1963.
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Discovery, London 1959).
Reale, G., Storia della filosofia antica. I. Dalle origini a Sokrate, Milano 1987.
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Popper, K.R., Logik der Forschung, Vienna 1935 (English edition: The Logic of Scientific
Świercz, P., Jedność wielości. Świat, człowiek, państwo w refleksji nurtu orficko-pitagorejskiego,
Katowice 2008.
Vernant, J.P., Mythe et religion en Grèce ancienne, Paris 1990.
Summary
The goal of the article is a comparative analysis of the main paradigms in studies in
Orphism. One of these paradigms recognizes the historicity of Orphism as certain and
concentrates on establishing the contents of Orphic myths. The main representative of this
trend is Alberto Bernabé (Universidad Complutense de Madrid). The second trend, whose
main representative is Radcliffe Guest Edmonds III (Bryn Mawr College), questions the
historicity of Orphism. Edmonds considers Orphism (or, as he calls it, “Orphism”) an
invention of nineteenth-century European scholarship. Therefore, he concentrates on
analyzing available testimonies, traditionally considered Orphic, as independent expressions
of different tendencies in the religious life of ancient Greece. In addition to comparing the two
paradigms, the author also investigates the possibility of reconciling them.
KEYWORDS: Orphism; paradigms; Alberto Bernabé; Radcliffe Guest Edmonds III; Christianity
SŁOWA KLUCZOWE: orfizm; paradygmat; Alberto Bernabé; Radcliffe Guest Edmonds III;
chrześcijaństwo
PIOTR ŚWIERCZ - professor at the Jesuit University Ignatianum in Cracow. E-mail address:
[email protected]; specialist in political philosophy, especially ancient political philosophy,
and in Orphism.
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RYSZARD TOKARCZUK
(Jagiellonian University in Krakow)
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in political theory of Plato, Xenophon and Isocrates - a survey.1
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Reception of Ancient Sicilian Greek experiences
One of modern historians writing about Ancient Sicily and Ancient Greek political theory
compared the island to a “petri dish”2 for political institutions of Ancient Greeks. This anachronistic parallel, bringing to mind the image of a scientific experiment, is quite striking. Nevertheless,
as the author do not provide further details to reinforce his argument, readers are left with their
own knowledge to see the merit behind such an comparison. It is not much of a surprise to notice
that knowledge about the island or events that had taken place there existed on the mainland and
left traces in Greek literature. Even if the extent of that knowledge is debatable, connections themselves between the Greek mainland and Sicily were continuously maintained. What is harder to
discern is the manner in which the political experiences of Sicilian Greeks influenced not only an-
cient theoretical literary works but also deeds of prominent Greek politicians and intellectuals.
The goal of this article is to trace such Sicilian reflections in works of three prominent Greek writers: Plato, Xenophon and Isocrates. This choice of ancient writers is not an accidental one. All of
them lived within the same period of time. They all had written on the subject of government
forms and the rule of one over many in particular. They share also Athenian background, though
their political opinions differ. Even more, the events of Peloponnesian War and its aftermath, influenced their views on Athenian democracy and prompted them to look for better solutions than
the ones which they had seen - in the end, all three authors came to different set of conclusions.
Therefore, those conclusions and especially the way how they relate to political experiences of
Sicilian Greek poleis are the subject of following article.
I should start however with a brief explanation how in fact I understand the phrase “politi-
cal experiences” of Sicily. Throughout the most of the end of fifth and larger part of fourth century
BC, Sicily as a whole was rife with tyrannies which were the most dominant form of government
there. During that period Syracusan democracy found itself replaced by the authority of Dionysi-
Following article has been written as a part of research project „Ewolucja form polityczno-ustrojowych na
Sycylii w latach 405-304 p.n.e. Między demokratyczną polis a monarchią terytorialną”, graciously funded by
the Narodowe Centrum Nauki (UMO-2012/05/N/HS3/01405).
2 Scott 2010: 178.
1
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us the Elder3. Lengthy rule of that tyrant allowed to establish Syracuse as a significant seat of
power not only on Sicily itself, but also outside of it. It would not be prudent to press the opinion
that Dionysius` rule was without any failures or weaknesses yet the amount of power gathered in
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his single hand was significant. This went hand in hand with mercenaries hired by that tyrant. It is
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well attested fact that such hired manpower was coming from all parts of the world known by the
Greeks4. Mercenaries under his service could be even sent as a military aid to his allies5. The great
result achieved by relatively small force of experienced mercenary cavalry must have made a considerable and lasting impression on mainland Greeks.
We have a substantial evidence that in fact it did. Such an impression was not only limited
to military matters, too. Career of Dionysius the Elder alone created the whole collection of anecdotes and continued to live on in the popular imagination of every Greek6. There are also other
interesting aspects of Dionysius` influence, which can be mentioned. Namely, in Plutarch we can
read that at a certain point of his Persian expedition Alexander the Great asked for a collection of
books to be delivered to him. According to author, among the books there was a work by Philistus. The text of that work itself had not survived in complete form to our times, but from what we
know about him - Philistus was a historian living under the rule of both Dionysii and it is being
said that he had been a staunch supporter of tyranny as a form of government7. As for the exact
reason why Alexander would be interested in such a work, several possibilities are given by modern scholars8. There is also an anecdote about Philip II having a conversation with Dionysius the
Younger during the latter` exile in Corinth on the subject of his father9. The very fact of existence
of such narratives alone should raise the several questions, even if the meeting mentioned above
was only concerned with the issue of a tyrant writing his plays. For my purpose, it seems enough
The change came with 405 BC, when Dionysius was elected as strategos autokrator. It is not easy to prove
that democracy and its institutions were abolished by then. The surviving inscriptions of treaties between
Dionysius and Athens during fourth century prove otherwise. We must admit that even term “democracy”
requires in fact a greater precision (Thucydides account of Syracusan democracy against the Aristotle (Pol.
1304a27) and Diodorus (XIII 19, 4 and XIII 34 2,3), where transition from politeia toward the democracy has
been noted), as is pointed out by Lewis 1994: 125.
4 Parke 1970: 63 - 72. For further information on employment of Italic mercenaries, see: Tagliamonte 1994:
131 - 144.
5 Military aid that had been sent from Syracuse to Sparta is being mentioned in Xen. Hell. VII 1. 20.
6 An interesting overview of anecdotes pertaining to Dionysius the Elder may be found in one of the chapters of Brian Caven` monography: Caven 1990: 222-253.
7 Nepos, Dion 3. 2.
8 For detailed review of different interpretations, see Truesdell 1967: 359-368.
9 Plutarch, Tim. 15, 7.
3
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to note that interest in Sicilian history was not only limited to the groups of intellectuals - therefore a link between Sicilian tyrants and Macedonian (or Hellenistic, at a later time) monarchs can
be made.
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Without a doubt, one link, one particular similarity between the Sicilian tyrants and Greek
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monarchs of later epochs can also be found in an ever important need to present oneself in a positive manner toward their subjects. Attested literary ambitions of Dionysius the Elder, mercilessly
ridiculed in available sources, may represent a greater and more complex cultural programme
pursued (or simply a tradition continued after an earlier dynasty of Deinomenids) by the tyrant10.
Similarly, personnages attracted to his court prove that not only military power was on his mind,
but he and his son paid attention at least to some extent to less violent activities. Earlier tyrants
participated in olympic events, their achievements were glorified in poetry. Later period is
marked with even more significant presence of intellectuals on the courts of monarchs and selfappointed rulers, as examples may include cases of Ptolemaic or Antigonid court.
In the end, though opposition to tyranny as a form of government was always present on
Sicily and in Greece (Athenian cult of tyrant slayers, Harmodios and Aristogeiton, especially
comes to mind11), the power inherent in such position was hardly to be underestimated or com-
pletely ignored. It may be no surprise then that the figure of solitary ruling figure is always fea-
tured in the works on political theory during fifth and fourth century12. To what extent, however,
and to what purpose? Is it possible to trace the influence of Sicilian political practice there? Did
years of tyrannical rule on the island influence the views of mainland Greeks?
We should start with a brief review of historical events that were so influential in case of Pla-
to, Xenophon and Isocrates. Some of the events are equally important for all three, though sometimes for different reasons. It was mentioned above that the Peloponnesian War and its result had
shaken faith of the contemporary Greeks in virtues or efficiency of democracy. The extent of control over a citizen body effected by always present demagogues and Athenian inclination to make
decision under the heat of the moment resulted for example in the infamous trial of generals after
A really good resume of the problems concerning the literary ambitions of Dionysius the Elder can be
found in: Duncan 2012: 137-155.
11 Complex function of tyranny in Athenian political reality is reviewed thoroughly in: McGlew 1993: 150 156 and 183 - 212. Idea of tyranny and opposition against it was fundamental to citizen identity among
Athenians during fifth and fourth century B.C.
12 One of the earliest examples is to be found in a famous passage containing Persian debate on the forms of
government (Hdt. III 80 - 82).
10
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the battle of Arginusae. According to well known anecdote, it was Socrates the philosopher who
tried to stop the rash wrath of Athenians. It must have been quite significant to Plato that the very
same citizens will later be responsible for trial of Socrates and his death.
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It is also impossible not to mention the rule of Thirty Tyrants. In the first place, its` outcome
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was a proof of failure of oligarchical form of governments in the eyes of not only Athenians but
also in the eyes of Greeks outside that city-state. The name alone is a testament to this sentiment.
The pupils of Socrates were participating in this government (there is a possibility that Xenophon
was even included within the number of citizens during new regime13), though preserved narra-
tives do not give the possibility of more direct connection between the Thirty and the famous philosopher. The fall of Thirty Tyrants coincided with a decision of amnesty and attempts in reconciling the citizens. It meant also however that Athens returned quite understandably from oligarchy
to democracy - and possibility of any other form of government than democracy in Athens at that
time simply ceased to exist. At the same time, everyone who had not been a supporter of democratic government had not had a reason to be pleased with the results of Thirty Tyrants` rule. It
can be argued that after experiencing the period of pro-Spartan oligarchy a certain shift in political
theory took place. While the significance of ethics in political life is visible in the earlier period,
virtually all the Greek writers of fourth century commenting on the rule of one or few will be constantly underlining the necessity of education of the rulers - also in ethical dimension14.
Both the political turmoil during and afterwards Peloponnesian War and the situation with-
in the Athens incited many Athenian thinkers and politicians to look for the more successful alter-
natives15. Attempts at uniting the Greece under the hegemony of this or another particular polis
brought only further harmful conflicts with no decisive end in sight. The continuous weakening of
ever growing number of competitors for the highest position meant that out of new solutions that
had appeared not all were accepted, if at all.
Plato, one of the most well-known figures of Greek antiquity, was also the one to witness Si-
cilian politics in the most personal way out of the three authors discussed in this article. That is, if
we are to believe in Plato being the author of Epistles, as they are the sole proof - apart from much
Dillery 1995: 144.
It is in the very nature of Greek understanding of politics that ethical sphere has a great importance for
every single person that had any part in political life. The importance of ethics is even more pronounced
among the Socratics, like Plato and many others. See: Luccioni 1958: 107-118.
15 The most important alternatives, including monarchy and mixed constitutions, are enumerated in Balot
2006: 177-188.
13
14
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later Life of Dion by Plutarch - of his personal and active involvement in Sicilian politics and, one
can add, the proof of him being an active participant in politics at all16. Those letters amount to
thirteen texts, out of which nine are directly concerned with the matters of Sicily17. Their signifi-
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cance stems from the fact that they supply the evidence for Plato activities on Sicily and it is from
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them that we can attempt to discern their results. It is maybe ironic that the sources about Sicily,
the very sources which could come from under philosopher hand are dominated by a particular
point of view, because this in turn obscures Syracusan perspective. Many problems abound in
regards to Epistles. Though the matter of their authenticity for ancient writers hadn`t been really
that much important, doubts about their authorship began with late antiquity. Numerous efforts
to decide the question of their authorship remain to this day inconclusive and the opinion of
scholars remains divided18. At the same time, Epistles and their content are crucial to our understanding of philosopher` presence on the island.
The issue of Epistles is present among scholars since a long time and it is difficult to offer the
arguments for and against the authenticity of the whole collection19. The most important letter in
our case is the Seventh Letter, addressed to friends of Dion. It`s authenticity was also a matter of
contention. Lately, it seems that the majority of scholars accept Seventh along with some others,
namely Eighth, as authentic or as based on authentic material. Other letters would come from other anonymous writers20. Preserved letters certainly paint a different picture of the philosopher.
Their goal, as it is generally acknowledged, was most likely to explain and elucidate on Platonic
travels and also to serve as an apology to actions that had been undertaken by the famous Athenian. In this sense the letter serves as a tract, using the authority of well known figure, subservient
Diodorus Siculus for some reason does not offer much help as books on Dionysius the Elder and his son
show some omissions (particularly an account of Dion which breaks in 16.20.7 to be continued with a remark on Dion`s death in 16.31.7). Plato visit is mentioned by Diodorus in the context of other intellectuals
and artists present at the court of Syracusan tyrant, nothing is said about any influence that philosopher
could have had over the policies of a ruler. Preserved fragments from other historians, like Theopompus or
Ephorus, do not mention Plato visiting Dionysius the Younger at all. See: Vatai 1984: 25-26. Cf. Finley 1979:
91
17 Diog. Laert. III 61. The information about the collection of thirteen Platonic letters can be traced to the
work of Thrasylus who lived in the beginning of the first century B.C.
18 Overview of different opinions: Vatai 1984: 27-28
19 Good resume of ongoing scholarly debate can be found in following works: Sandbach 1985: 480-481; Gulley 1971: 105-130; Skemp 1976: 9-11.
20 Muccioli 1999: 47ss.
16
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to the interests of Academy21. This in itself, does not mean that Epistles cannot be used as a source
in matters concerning the Plato on Sicily.
The most interesting characteristic of Epistles is that they offer a biographical take on Plato. If
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Seventh Letter was written by Plato, it is an unique Platonic work written in a first person. written
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In this regard, he is not only an observer to the events happening on the island nor a cabinet
thinker but a person that tried to play a very particular part on the court of Syracuse. The main
attention therefore will be concentrated on Epistles and much less on philosophical works. It must
be said that within Plato`s philosophical treatises, diligent readers had found allusions to Sicilian
political practices on the court of Dionysius the Elder. Those allusions do not explicitly point out
to Dionysius, the contemporary ruler of Syracuse, yet it is argued that exactly that is taking place
in eight and ninth book of Republic22. It is in Republic that we are able to find the description of ty-
rannical soul. This very fragment is often compared with another passage from Seventh Letter,
where the author is describing Dionysius the Elder. Further in Republic, it is being said that only
the person who “has lived under the same roof with a tyrant” can be deemed a proper judge of
tyrannical character. Within the same text, readers are able to see the remarks about proverbial
luxurious Sicilian dishes being frowned upon by protagonists of dialogue. In similar vein, one can
interpret also passages of Gorgias23. When one of the protagonists of dialogue talks about happiness of tyrants, Socrates admits to being unable to tell whether a particular tyrant is actually hap-
py on grounds that he never had met him. There are other allusions to Sicilian lifestyle in form of
a pastry chef figure, along with a name of an author on the topic of Sicilian cookery. All this, taken
along with biographical known facts allow some of the scholars to connect Syracusan with philosophical writings of Plato. Even however when glimpses of Syracusan practices are being shown,
they always serve an overarching purpose of Platonic philosophical argument. The case in point
would be the way the figure of tyrant is being presented by Plato. The nature of descriptions offered by the Greek philosopher are of general nature and could apply to not only Dionysius but in
fact the whole range of historical personalities, including Peisistratus. What is being presented
Muir 2009: 123.
It is a view presented by Monoson 2012: 156-172. Plato`s treatment of tyranny within Republic including
final conclusions: see VIII 562a - IX 580a. Fragments mentioned in the text: tyrannical vices Rep. IX 573d (cf.
Ep. VII 326b); the only proper judge of a tyrant is the one who lived with him - Rep. IX 577a-b; “Syracusan
table and Sicilian dishes” - Rep. III 404d.
23 Gorg. 470d - Socrates refuses to acknowledge happiness of Archelaus; 518b-d for the figure of a pastry chef
and mention of Mithaecus, the author of a book on Sicilian dishes.
21
22
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there would be not the actual, particular tyrant of a particular city-state but rather an image and
an archetype of one.
It is impossible to find a direct basis for connection between Plato philosophical treatises
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and activities of either one of Dionysii. There are however curious remarks to be found which
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need to be discussed. In Politicus, for example, for a brief moment protagonists discuss the form of
government that operates without the law. Because that treaty is dated between the years 360 and
355, a hypothesis was put forward that it is actually a commentary of sorts on Dion` struggles for
power. Once again, however, the philosophical nature of Platonic text does not allow to explicitly
connect the remark with events on Sicily24.
Finally, Laws contain remarks about a possible young monarch, who presents the best way
of shaping a community as long as the person of the ruler fulfills certain conditions25. It would be
quite easy to look here for the reminiscences of Plato own`s experiences with Dionysius the
Younger. Yet, apart from the reader`s knowledge from other sources, no mention is being given to
any, historical or otherwise, person.
Because of what was discussed above, I would rather conclude that all those “Sicilian con-
nections” found within the philosophical works of Plato do not contain any autobiographical references to political situation in Syracuse. Nor the author mentions his Sicilian journeys there.
What is visible on the other hand is that experiences that Plato might have had faced during his
journeys to Sicily (if we admit the material to be found in Epistles as authentic) shaped the attitude
of Plato-philosopher toward the concept of philosopher-king and allowed for an evolution towards the concept of political community based on laws.
It is assumed that after the trial of Socrates and after leaving the Athens, philosopher was
still learning and continuing his studies (which enabled him to get acquainted with doctrines of
Pythagoreans and Egyptians). Written sources present his voyages in several variants when it
comes to places he had been to and the order of visiting them26. One of his destinations had been
Among the first proponents of seeing in Politicus (293d) an allusion to Dion`s decision to murder of Heraclides was von Scheliha (1934: 76-77, 99, 120, 124-125). This interpretation remained popular, cf. for example,
Isnardi Parente 1969: 269-285; de Blois 1978: 146. There are however other scholars who are against such
“historicizing” interpretation of the philosophical dialogue - Migliori: 1996: 45-46; cf. pp. 265-275 for bibliography concerning Politicus.
25 Plato, Leg. 709a-712a
26 It is probably better for our purposes to just remain content with simple enumeration of places that are
told to be visited by Plato during his travels, without attempting here to put them in a semblance of chronological order - Egypt and Cyrene, Sicily and Southern Italy. It is possible that apart from encountering Py24
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city of Syracuse and it`s here where he made an acquaintance with Dion, a relative of Dionysius
the Elder. First journey, as it is assumed, took place during 389-388 BC. It`s unclear whether he
had been able to meet the tyrant personally, though Plutarch in his Life of Dion attests to that. It is
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accepted however that Plato returned to Sicily for the second time (367 BC) thanks to direct invita-
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tion of Dion, after the death of Dionysius the Elder and the succession of his son. The idea of philosopher-king promoted in Republic had a chance to be realized in the person that had a great
wealth and amount of resources to his disposal - additionally, Plato, the scion of the renowned
house of Solon, was able thanks to Dion`s invitation to finally enter the political life in a grand
manner. This ambition might have been one of the reasons for philosopher to undertake this project. Another possibility could be the pressure of rivaling intellectuals undermining the value of
Plato political teachings27. Regardless of real events that had taken place during first voyage to
Sicily, the relationship of Plato and Dion was the most important factor during theirs Sicilian endeavors. Even if, as later events have proven, Dionysius the Younger was not inclined to follow
for long the teachings of Plato, philosopher found a keen ear in Dion instead. The chance of influencing the course of events still remained.
It is peculiar that, though we can pinpoint the elements of quite real program of reforms, the
basis of Plato lessons relied on theoretical enquiries, which would rather change Dionysius into a
philosopher28. Platonic philosophy always underlined a necessity for knowledge in every enterprise and it is no wonder that this view holds true for a person wanting to lead the state. Same
attitude was met with opposition of another faction present at the Syracusan court. The story of
Plato at the court of Dionysius seems to be a story of a struggle between several court cliques vying for the attention of ruler. Plato associated himself very clearly with Dion - his opponents were
Aristippus of Cyrene, the founder of Cyrenaic school, and Philistus, a well born Syracusan and
historian29. Those two formed a core of the group that strongly opposed any changes proposed by
the newcomer to the court. By the time of Dionysius the Younger monarchical rule in Syracuse
seems to be already well established30. At the same time, it appeared to accept the form with
thagoreans, an acquaintance with Dion was made during the philosopher`s first visit to Sicily, at the time
when Dionysius the Elder ruled in Syracuse.
27 Vatai 1984:5, 74.
28 Plato, Ep. 3.315e, 319b-d - the idea of resettling the destroyed Greek cities and organizing the internal reforms in Syracuse. Compare to Ep. 7.330b where the goal of Plato was to convince the tyrant to “philosophical life” first and foremost.
29 Vatai 1984: 78-79.
30 Davies 1978: 21.
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which Plato could not agree. From philosopher`s perspective, Sicily should be submitted to the
rule of laws, not the tyrants31. In this light, Dionysius, being in the end not persuaded successfully
by Plato, decided not to follow what is just, but what was simply to his gain.
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As was stated above, the general opinion assumes that remarks about a tyranny that can be
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found in Plato` works are based on philosopher`s experiences on Sicily. The most striking and
explicit impression seems to be placed in one of the letters describing the Syracusan court as a
place of debauchery and luxury32. In the eyes of a philosopher who regarded material world as a
subordinate to the world of ideas, it could not have been a good sign. Platonic works also express
the opinion that a tyrant, having all other citizens in his power, himself is a slave to passions. In
this way, in philosophical works, the figure of a tyrant is the lowest, the most base human figure
ever possible.
It is well known that Plato plans in regards to Dionysius the Younger have been ultimately
fruitless. Even the short-lived career of Dion as a ruler and his fellow follower of Academy, Calippus, as an usurper and their both` violent ends - everything went against the Plato`s original expectations. Plato himself punished the memory of the latter by never mentioning his name.
It would be appropriate in this case to point out a change that took place within Platonic
philosophical treatises, namely between Republic, Statesman and Laws. The idea of philosopher-
king governing over a community became replaced in the last treatise by the set of laws. Athenian
philosopher in that way openly admits that finding the properly educated ruler that would embody his political ideas is an impossible task33. Much more real is a possibility of framing the
Greek community around the well-thought set of laws. If Letters are to be believed as authentic, it
may be said that the thought of Plato made in this way a return to his former position that is visible in remark about Sicily ruled by laws and not by tyrants.
Xenophon was, just like Plato, a pupil of Socrates. He too was not keen on supporting the
democratic regime, but regardless of those similarities, his particular views were not the same.
Even more, in his writings there is an evidence of a more complex political views34. Part of the
Plato, Ep. 7. 334c 6-7.
Plato, Ep. 7, 326b - 326d.
33 Luccioni 1958: 266.
34 Traditionally, it was assumed that historical works of Xenophon show a pro-Spartan slant (among others the figure of Agesilaus in Hellenica and Agesilaus, omissions of facts known from other sources), which was
easily translated into oligarchical stance of the author. While the latter opinion isn`t without a merit, re31
32
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reason behind it would be the fact of him being an exile throughout considerable part of his life.
As Luccioni pointed out, in his case literature was a form of political activity35. It can be argued in
comparison to Plato Xenophon may seem to be less significant and influential, yet he also was
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interested in the matters of government and produced propositions that have to be considered.
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While mutual interplay between their works can be discussed, it will be more useful in my enterprise to concentrate on Xenophon body of work36.
As for an author with military background, it`s hardly a surprise that one of the themes pre-
sent in his writings is leadership – that is, what does it mean to lead an unit of soldiers to combat
(Anabasis par excellance) but also how to lead the community or nation (Cyropaedia, Hiero). Both
problems are richly illustrated with positive and negative examples. It seems that according to
Xenophon there are some common points pertaining to the leader, regardless of his range. It is, to
put it plainly, piety. It can be seen in a behavior of Xenophon, the protagonist of Anabasis, but
also within Hellenica, where mentions of Agesilaus and Jason of Pherae appear in the context of
behavior toward the divine. As John Dillery has noticed, not only sacrifices and respect for sanctuaries define the pious man37. All over the works a need for order and stability can be seen, regardless of the subject - whether the soldiers ranks are being discussed or proper way of conduct
in financial matters. Hence, this need for order should be always close to heart of any person in
any possible enterprise. Knowledge what is right and what needs to be done meant also a care to
honor the gods as it was well understood by Xenophon that “gods can elevate the small and cause
great to fall” and that it may happen over and over again38. Overstepping the boundaries and becoming a victim to greed and ambition results in ruin. Xenophon is therefore often described as
holding traditional views in regards to morality and personal conduct, whether private or public
persons.
This does not mean that he is not presenting a very practical approach to matters which he is
discussing. In case of leadership, he stresses having the authority (understood as being considered
searchers in recent years brought into the light enough arguments to weaken the former opinion. See Gray
2005: 142.
35 Luccioni 1948: 52.
36 Question of rivalry between the two writers and allusions to each other` works cannot be given justice
within the constraints of this article. This particular issue, raised by Diogenes Laertios (III, 34) and Aulus
Gellius (XIV, 3) in the ancient times, is discussed up to the modern times. See: Luccioni, ibid., 204-205; Tatum
1989: 38-40.
37 Dillery 1995: 188-189, particularly: “Durability through time, both of institution and of human being, is for
Xenophon proof of piety”.
38 Xen., Hell. 6. 4. 23 (cf. Anab. 3.2.10).
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as the best among others, if the actual superiority cannot be attained) along with an ability of public speaking as important. All that can be, in fact, trained, studied and achieved. It must be underlined, that politics to Xenophon are not the matters decided only by humans – a consideration
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must be also given to the divine laws39. This introduce the importance of virtues into human en-
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terprises. In the end, it can be said that authority or rule not being beneficial to its subjects is merely an usurpation. Such tyranny cannot be valued highly and it is met with well deserved disdain
in statements of Xenophon` protagonists40.
Even more, after the lecture of Hellenica which ends with words of disappointment in re-
gards to ever increasing “confusion and disorder” in Greece, one can assume that similar requirements which Xenophon impose on people in their private and public behavior apply also to
relations between political beings - like cities and states. It is noteworthy that failure of Sparta to
maintain its` hegemony over Greece is ascribed in Hellenica to Spartan mistreatment of allies and
impious behavior of Spartan officers abroad. In this way, imperialistic tendencies that made Athens, then afterwards Sparta and Thebes, struggle for hegemony become at the same time their
undoing. It cannot be said that therefore hegemony is unattainable - it must be done with respect
towards allies. A leading state must treat “fellow” states as they would treat their own citizens.
Certainly this ethical lesson is important in the eyes of Xenophon, as the lack of its understanding
is one of the reasons for Spartan failure in retaining the authority over Greece.
This recalls very directly the advice given to Hiero by Simonides in Hiero. Tyrannical rule
can be maintained by not only relegating the punishments to someone else, to take away the ire of
public from the ruler, and personally concentrate on giving out the honors and favors41. It is par-
amount also to treat a city that is a subject to one`s rule as one`s own possession, citizens as members of the same household42. This advice is important for several reasons. First and foremost it
offers a way to transform a tyrant, who is ruling over unwilling subjects, into a king presiding
over a happy and satisfied populace. Tyranny therefore, the form of government almost unanimously condemned by the Greeks in fifth century, seems to be presented as something that can be
improved for the good of both the ruler (who will not be afraid anymore of his family or subjects)
and the people under the authority of such rule. Some interpretations of Hiero argue that the treaty
Xen. Mem. III, 9, 13; IV, 4, 24.
Xen. Eco. XXI, 12; Mem. IV, 6, 12.
41 Xen. Hiero 9. 10-11.
42 Xen. Hiero 11. 14-15.
39
40
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was directed at the elite classes43. The goal of this curious dialogue would be then to prove to elites
that tyranny is not something that they should voluntarily aspire to. Obviously, those classes
would be the first to try for a tyranny and, as that way of reasoning goes, they only need to listen
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to the list of complaints made by Hiero about misfortunes awaiting any tyrant44. The text of Xeno-
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phon, however, requires a more careful lecture. While those complaints certainly make for one
part of the text, advices offered by Simonides to the tyrant form a second part.
I would like to list those in greater detail. Simonides as a sage uses the argument of personal
gains that would be granted to the tyrant, should he follow his suggestions. Transformation of the
rule will happen when the ruler will allow his subject to enrich themselves by the means of trade.
This will bring not only stability into the state, but also increase the overall prosperity. The incen-
tives in form of prizes for an excellency in private or public pursuits will encourage the subjects to
work for the good of the community. The staple of tyrannical governments, mercenaries forming
the bodyguard of a tyrant should be used to a different purpose. Instead of keeping the safety of a
tyrant alone, they should maintain the order in the state and therefore become a welcome sight to
the citizens rather than a reminder of an oppressive rule. Not only that, mercenaries can relieve
the citizens from the trouble of military service, forming in result a standing army.
Those suggestions go against „traditional” understanding of tyranny, where a tyrant only
benefits from the community. Tyranny presented in this way becomes a rule where subjects are
happy and willing subordinates – a monster from Platonic works becomes a beneficiary to the
community, in fact, becomes its king. In our attempt to follow the Sicilian influences, this treaty by
Xenophon is particularly important. Not only on the basic level it uses the figures from Sicilian
history (a famous fifth century tyrant, Hiero, an epinician poet Simonides, active in this period at
the Syracusan court), which can be understood as just an exemplary figures of a tyrant and a sage.
Even then, Xenophon would use tropes familiar to his readers to make his point – it is possible to
have a tyranny that brings positive effects for the community (granted, given the certain particular
conditions).
There is also an another interpretation, however, proposed by Marta Sordi in regards to
Xenophon and his possible connections to Sicily45. Namely, Sordi sees the advice given by Simonides being reflected in the actual actions of Dionysius the Elder in the years 402 – 391 BC. Apart
Luccioni 1948: 255.
Xen. Hiero 2.3 - 5.4.
45 Sordi 2004: 71-78. Cf. also Sordi 1980: 3-13.
43
44
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from mentions of supporting the trade, giving the prizes to the citizenry (for example, during the
construction of the Syracusan walls), Sordi points out to details from personal life of Dionysius
which seem to be alluded to in Xenophon text. Dionysius was married to Syracusan woman
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Aristomache and also another Locrian Doride – it is allegedly reflected in passages 1.28 of Hiero.
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The question can be raised then about the Xenophon knowledge of the Sicilian matters of
that time. If Sordi is right, it would require from the Athenian author closer familiarity with Sicily
than just the use of widely known and popular Hiero and Simonides. Argument is based on the
identification of Xenophon with Themistogenes the Syracusan, mentioned in Xenophon`s own
Hellenica as an alleged author of historical work on Ten Thousand46. On the other hand, Plutarch
in Moralia 354e gives the explanation for the use of pseudonym by Xenophon but a basic question
about the reason to use a Syracusan identity still remains. The reasoning offered by Sordi amounts
to the Xenophon presence on Sicily and Syracuse as a famous mercenary leader in years 393-391
BC. While arguments of Sordi are certainly well arranged and offer a reasonable explanations,
much more moderate solution can be found in article by Gray47. It is argued there that the topic
and the choice of dialogue` protagonists can be explained by the wish of author to present the
three views on tyranny – a despotic, popular and finally, the enlightened one, proposed by Simonides. While I cannot refuse the bold brilliance of Sordi`s thesis, her proposal relies on considerable
amount of hypotheses that all together serve as a proof of Xenophon presence on Sicily. Nevertheless, the Syracusan connection in his works can be explained much more simpler.
Tamiolaki in her interpretation of Hiero sees there a literary innovation48. Discussion be-
tween the ruler and a wise man, known from earlier examples in Greek literature, was for the first
known time dressed in the form of Socratic dialogue. The use of Sicilian pair - Hieron and Simonides - would be caused not by the particular Syracusan experience of Xenophon, but rather because of widespread familiarity of this literary pairing within the stories of tyrants being advised
by wise men49. The characters would serve then a venue for the writer to present his own ideas.
Even more, the vice present in Hiero seems to be ambiguous, as it is possible to improve it. If vice,
the distinct characteristic in a traditional understanding of a tyrant, can be ameliorated, the nega-
Xen., Hell. III, 1, 1.
Gray 1986.
48 Tamiolaki 2012: 563-589.
49 Trace of such stories, obviously followed with much interest by Greek audience, can be found in Plato, Ep.
311a.
46
47
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tive label of tyrant does not apply anymore. Tamiolaki suggests therefore that in Xenophon eyes
titles of tyrant and king are “inevitably interchangeable”50.
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The third ancient author to receive our attention is Isocrates, an Athenian orator and logogra-
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phos. Two issues need to be discussed in his case: his panhellenic ideas and his didactic prose dedicated to Cypriot rulers. Compared to two writers mentioned earlier, Isocrates was not a philoso-
pher and his works are not treatises. They are of rhetorical nature in the first place, but this does
not mean that they do not discuss the same issues as works of previous characters. Quite the contrary, Isocrates was also interested in political matters of his time, he also paid considerable attention to ethics. At the same time, he was also a writer of political speeches and not only an idealist
but a man seriously concerned with the fate and significance of his home city, Athens.
One of the most prominent ideas that can be discerned in his speeches is so called “panhel-
lenism”. Having his property lost in the process of Decelean War is given as an explanation to his
dislike of Greek internecine conflicts51. Well-aware of divisions between the Greeks and destruc-
tive results of fierce competition for hegemony over the whole Greece, Isocrates throughout his
life sought the prominent figure who would and could finally unite the Greeks and lead them not
against each other but against “barbarians” - that is Persians. The idea itself wasn`t original one, it
appears in earlier speeches of Gorgias of Leontinoi and Lysias52. Still, there are differences between the ancient authors in understanding what lands comprise the Greek world53. In case of
Isocrates, he seems to consider Sicily a clearly Greek land54. Within his works it also is visible that
he does not regard it as separate, independent part of the Greek world. He makes those connections allegedly clear by offering the example of distant Cyrene being Spartan colony or Sparta
having positive relations with local, Sicilian “inhabitants”55 - to him, there seems no reason to believe that plans stated in this fragment would be met with any resistance at all. If Sicily plays subordinate role in Isocrates` works, there is one historical figure, who in eyes of the orator is more
than just a figurehead.
Tamiolaki 2012: 578
Mathieu 1966: 31.
52 The review of earlier appearances of “panhellenic ideas” can be found in: Flower 2000: 65-101.
53 Franco 1993: 37-52.
54 Isoc., Paneg. 169.
55 Isoc., Archid. 73.
50
51
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Isocrates wrote several letters to leaders of his time, all with the same basic premise, to undertake the great and noble enterprise of unifying the Greece and, eventually, starting the campaign against Persia. Among the recipients of such letters we can find Archidamus, king of Sparta,
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Dionysius the Elder, tyrant of Syracuse, and Philip II, king of Macedonia. History has proven Isoc-
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rates wrong - his project was never realized during his life. Instead, fights over Greece has contin-
ued and in the year of orator` death, the battle of Chaeronea, a watershed moment in Greek history, took place. What is interesting, however, is the choice of addressees for his letters, as all of
them possessed considerable power in their respective states, not to mention the amount of mili-
tary equipment to their disposal. With passing years, and one may guess - changes of circum-
stances - different candidates for such a task were becoming apparent. In the end, it is a testimony
to the turbulent nature of the fourth century that the idea of hegemony of a particular polis over
the others (visible still during Peloponnesian War) lost to the idea of hegemony led by the individual. Every change of a candidate can be connected to shifts in political situation of Athens.
The preserved fragment of letter addressed to Dionysius cannot be dated with much preci-
sion and the part that would offer us a concrete proposal is lost. It seems to be the most sensible to
place it close to final years of Dionysius life, after the battle of Leuctra . The former ally of Sparta,
during that time, was tightening his ties with Athens, as can be seen from honorary inscriptions
and treaties (368 and 367 BC). However, comparisons may be made with other remaining letters
and sometimes remarks in those letters themselves may illustrate what could have been in the
unknown part of Isocrates` letter to the tyrant of Sicily.
The manner in which Dionysius is being addressed omit completely the nature of his power
on Sicily or Syracuse. He is however described as belonging to a Greek race and having a great
power56. This is important because it seems that with a change in political situation of Greece, also
the expressions and epithets are changed. Orations pertaining to a different political situation are
much less cautious in choosing words. In speech dated for around 380 B.C.57, orator says that Dionysius “enslaved the Sicily” (Paneg. 169), and he is a tyrant there (Paneg. 126) with the help of
Sparta (Peace, 99). At the time of writing the letter however, the opportune moment when Spartans
lose the power on mainland Greece makes him an eligible ally - for Athens. His worth and might
is being considered only from the perspective of what he can possibly achieve in continental
Greece. In the speech directed to Philip of Macedon we have further mentions of Dionysius. This
56
57
Isoc. Ep. 1, 7.
Mathieu 1966: 101.
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time however he is presented to the Macedonian ruler as an example of challenges opposing one
that is to realize difficult and great projects - as a person that started from lowly station and
achieved a great power. In both works, orator addresses the slandering opinions of other people -
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and with rhetorical skill, consider them undeserved58.
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Similar structure and the way of addressing the both rulers allows to see Dionysius as a poli-
tician destined in Isocrates eyes for the same task - uniting the Greece and unifying in the result
under their own authority the warring city-states. The goal would be to meet a common enemy,
yet unexpected death of Dionysius made impossible for orator to continue the “Sicilian” project.
It appears that Isocrates was strong proponent of a prominent position of Athens, which
would orchestrate any political maneuverings pertaining all to the warring Greek states. All of the
leaders that were his addressees were in fact invited to enter the alliance with the city state. In one
of the letters the significant verb sunagogizein is being used, which underlines the importance of
Isocrates` polis within the agreement. In this way, position of Athens would be assured. However,
it remains a sign of times that the orator found necessary to compromise authority of a polis by
seeing the solution not within the polis itself, but in placing trust in a powerful figures of external
states.
It was mentioned before that Isocrates was highly interested in ethical matters. Just as Plato
and Xenophon were concerned with personal qualities of the people on high positions, also the
Attic orator had a particular opinion how the leader of people should behave. His opinion on this
topic is clearly visible in so called Cypriot orations, where the question of being an ideal monarch is
discussed. All three speeches (Nicocles, To Damonicus, To Nicocles) were concentrated on duties of
the ruler toward his subjects, but also covered the obligations that subjects had to the person of
ruler. It is almost impossible to tell what effect the speeches had for the actual monarchy on Cy-
prus - the Nicocles in the orations is the king of Cyprus that reigned from 374 BC for a little more
than 10 years. Even if we accept that those speeches were advice and precepts for the young king,
telling him in what manner he would be able to rule the best, it is also quite evident, that Isocrates
is presenting also opinions on monarchy as a form of government in general. Let us look at those a
little more closely.
It should not be surprising to note that in the Isocrates` view the source of authority for his
ruler is based on his own skill of rhetoric. Even though Nicocles has a monarchical power, he ex-
58
Isoc. 5. 73-77 and Ep. 1. 4.
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erts it not through decrees but in a manner not much dissimilar from Athenian citizen - through a
political speech. King is therefore a member of civic community, a citizen just like his listeners.
The power behind his words and counsel lies not only in his rhetorical abilities but is strength-
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ened even further by the height of virtues that he possess. In short, he is the citizen vested with
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virtues to a greater degree than any another citizen. Thus his authority and obedience to his counsel becomes natural, then, and not forced.
The traits that Nicocles possess belong to any good citizen - they are explicitly named as
sophrosune and dikaiosune59. Because moral and political behavior of the city is dependent on each
citizen`s contribution, the effect that just and tempered “citizen-king” has on his community is the
most influential in comparison with other citizens. It is however striking that in Isocrates speech
words like “king” or “monarch” do not appear. Nicocles the speaker is, in result, a leader of the
community.
This forms up the picture of an ideal ruler that stresses the different aspects, when we com-
pare propositions of Plato and Xenophon with those just described. There are still some similarities - Isocrates for example brings up the issue of human motivation. Plato linked pleasant with
being harmful to body and soul60. Isocrates follows that train of thought up to a certain point. Ac-
cording to him, a desire of pleasant things stands against not the soul but against the self-interest.
Unbridled desires are bound to bring disorder in a community, as they would most likely mean
desiring what one does not have and what belongs to another person, another citizen. Even with
those different approach, result seems to be similar - to offer a good service for the city, one cannot
give himself to his own passions61. In case of an ideal ruler, it also means not using his position to
his benefit, which is one of the traditional watermarks for a Greek tyrant. This would mean acting,
in the end, against one`s own self-interests as it would antagonize other people and fellow citizens. Mastery over desire means also that counsel given by the citizen or leader would be caused
not by the sense of self-interest, but would be of benefit to the whole community62. In his speeches,
failure to address that problem resulted in fall of Athenian and Spartan empires alike.
Isoc. Nic. 43.
Plato, Gorgias; Isoc. 8. 109.
61 Isoc. 1. 21; 2. 29; 9. 45.
62 Poulakos 1997: 35-41.
59
60
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Our three chosen writers, sharing the Athenian background, treat Sicily from similar perspective of an outsider. Even Plato, most directly and personally involved in Sicilian political ventures, in his writings presents his own point of view, his own agenda. Even more, the conflict be-
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tween intellectuals present at the court of Dionysius and Athenian philosopher proves that Plato
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was not keen on accepting Sicilian political forms present in the Syracuse. Debate on reasons for
three visits on Sicily may never be finished, yet it is safe to assume that Platonic projects were met
with failure. The glimpses of something that could be called “Sicilian practices” can be found
within philosophical treatises, yet they serve there a very particular functions.
The other two writers, in my opinion, used Sicily in even more utilitarian manner. Theoreti-
cal works share certain similarities. They all discuss the possibility of a good ruler. They all explore the possibility of educating such a person. The historical circumstances and common Socrat-
ic background of the writers discussed by us may explain such common ground. It is also impossible to discredit the importance of Plato, Xenophon and Isocrates for the history of Greek political
thought. What does not however result from examination of their theories and works is a direct
relationship to Syracusan political practice. The parallel of petri dish, mentioned in the beginning,
seems to be wrong - there was no political experimentation on Sicilian soil, made by wise men of
Greece. Case of Plato illustrates rather the impossibility of performing such an experiment in the
first place. Sicily, geographically separate from mainland Greece, had not approached the Greece
proper also on the intellectual level. Political circumstances of Athens were too different to allow
that and the transfer of the political ideas from Sicily to Greece in the case of simply is not to be
seen.
Sicilian events and realities certainly were known, at least to some extent, in Athens - we
know of discussions and interest shown by Athenians to the person of Dionysius the Elder. Still,
they were always present in those discussions with Athenian perspective as a dominant one. If
Syracuse has become an example, it was for the creation of descriptions promoting the perspective
of the writer. In this way, even Plato cannot tell us much about Sicily - he can inform us instead in
regards to Plato on Sicily. Connections between the works of philosophers and orators and the
figure of Dionysius are almost never direct. While quite bold interpretations can be made, the actual Sicily is never at the front of writers considerations, just like sumptuous culinary arts are only
an invitation to ethical reasoning. The most striking is a scrutiny with which fourth century think-
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ers pondered upon the rule of one63, yet this in itself does not prove the Sicilian influence on direction of their work.
This limits considerably the reception of Sicilian experience in political theory and practice
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of mainland Greeks, yet it doesn`t mean on the other hand that such influence has not existed. The
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anecdotes concerning the Macedonian rulers Philip and Alexander and their interest in the ruler
from Syracuse can be such a trace left as a legacy of turbulent past that resulted in one of the longest tyrannies in ancient Greek History.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
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Brown T. S. 1967: Alexander`s Book Order (Plut. Alex. 8), “Historia” XVI, 359-68.
Cartledge P. 2009: Ancient Greek Political Thought in Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
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Caven B. 1990: Dionysius I. War-lord of Sicily, New Haven: Yale University Press.
Davies J. K. 1978: Democracy and Classical Greece, London: Fontana.
De Blois L. 1978: Dionysius II, Dion and Timoleon, Rome: Mededelingen van het Nederlands.
Dillery J. 1995: Xenophon and the History of his times, London - New York: Routledge.
Duncan A. 2012: A Theseus outside Athens. Dionysius I of Syracuse and tragic self-presentation in
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Finley M. I 1979: Ancient Sicily, Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield.
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Gulley N. 1971: “The authenticity of the Platonic epistles” in K. von Fritz (ed.), Pseudepigrapha I,
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Migliori M. 1996: Platone. Politico, Milano: Rusconi.
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Muir J. 2009: Life and the Letters in Ancient Greek World, London, New York: Routledge.
Parke H. W. 1970: Greek mercenary soldiers. From the earliest time to the battle of Ipsus, Oxford:
Clarendon Press.
Poulakos T. 1997: Speaking for the Polis. Isocrates` Rhetorical Education, Columbia: University of
South Columbia.
Scheliha von R. 1934: Dion. Die platonischen Staatsgründung in Sizilien, Leipzig: Dieterich
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Knox (eds.), The Cambridge History of Classical Literature, vol. I, Cambridge: 478-97.
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ens to the Epic Rise of Alexander the Great, London: Icon.
Skemp J. B 1976: Plato, “New Surveys in the Classics” 10, Oxford.
Sordi M. 1958: Lo Ieroni di Senofonte, Dionigi I e Filisto, “Athenaeum” 58, 3-13.
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Tamiolaki M. 2012: Virtue and leadership in Xenophon: ideal leaders or ideal losers in F. Hobden,
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Sicilia, Roma: Giorgio Bretschneider.
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Age, London: Croom Helm.
Summary
In a book dedicated to turbulent history of Greece in fourth century Michael Scott describes
ancient Sicily as “petri dish” for political experiments of Ancient Greeks. Article tries to find the
evidence for such a claim can it be said that political experiences of Sicilian Greeks in fifth and
fourth century were used in political theory of mainland Greeks?
Such traces can be found in works of three Athenians Plato, Xenophon and Isocrates. All
three had written about forms of government, including the rule of one. All had lived in the same
period of time and were influenced by the same historical events. Plato is famous for his journeys
to Sicily, Xenophon wrote a treaty featuring well known Syracusan tyrant from the previous century. Isocrates, in the end, had written a letter to Dionysius the Elder. Does that mean that there
was some transfer of the ideas between Syracuse and the mainland Greece? Have political theory
benefited in some way from the experiences of Syracusan tyranny?
The article examines the works of three writers in search for traces of “experiments” that can
be connected with Sicily and explicitly with Syracuse. Closer attention is shown to their opinions
about ideal leaders and rulers. In each case, the background of each writer and his own reasons to
write to or about Syracuse, results in something very different than one could expect from the
metaphor about “petri dish”. Their knowledge of Sicily can be limited, most often however they
use the general knowledge about the Sicilian tyrants to their purposes. Plato, who would have the
most ambitious political project regarding the island, ends up with also the biggest failure.
KEYWORDS: Dionysius the Elder; Syracuse; Sicily; Athens; Plato; Xenophon; Isocrates; tyranny
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KLUCZOWE SŁOWA: Dionizjusz Starszy; Syrakuzy; Sycylia; Ateny; Platon; Ksenofont; Izokrates;
tyrania
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Ryszard Tokarczuk, born in 26th November, 1982. After finishing studies in Classical Philology at
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Jagiellonian University in 2008, next year he started PhD studies at Faculty of History at the same
university. Between March 2013 and March 2015 he was participating in a research grant project
dedicated to forms of government on Ancient Greek Sicily in Classical period. Currently he is finishing his doctoral thesis on tyrants of Ancient Syracuse.
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ANDRZEJ WYPUSTEK
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Orphic Elements in Greek Funerary Verse-inscriptions
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(University of Wroclaw)
Many Classical scholars somehow instinctively assume that from among Greek verse-
inscriptions those proclaiming any kind of clear-cut visions of Afterlife did originate in mystery cults.1 Accordingly, such verses are either termed as Orphic, Pythagorean, Dionysiac, or
some kind of direct influence by mystery cults on them is recognized. In this paper I will succinctly survey alleged evidence for the Orphic funerary poems. A critical appraisal of some
‘Orphic’ attributions will allow me to draw some inferences on relations between ‘Orphic’
traditions and Greek funerary poetry.
In his recent extensive corpus of Orphic sources Alberto Bernabé, of the dozens of fu-
nerary epigrams which were regarded by generations of scholars as influenced by Orphic
ideas, has unhesitatingly selected and included only four most compelling examples. This
dearth of evidence may struck us when we consider the fact that amongst funerary verseinscriptions, from Hellenistic era on, the thin but continuous/growing thread of eschatologi-
cal themes has emerged. These two traditions, Orphic doctrine and Hellenistic and GreekRoman funerary poetry, in what circumstances did they overlap? How and where could the
inscribed epigrams reflect Orphic themes of heroisation and blessed Afterlife among the heroes and gods?2
In Greek-Roman world, the mystery cults interpenetrated to a very large extent. As a
result, it is very difficult to differentiate distinct and separate traditions in usually brief, often
inconsistent, and freely poetical verse-inscriptions.3 However, some ramifications of eschatological imagery in funerary poetry may be discerned that would be most inviting to Orphic
devotees. One of the most widespread themes of inscribed funerary poems presented astral
In some the cases this claim is fully justified, see e.g. Betz (1998), n. 7 on p. 400.
For the idea of the dead entering the communion of the heroes in Orphic tablets, see Nock (1926b), n.
71 on p. LIV; Graf (1985), n. 75 on p. 130; Sourvinou-Inwood (1995), p. 195; Betz (1998), n. 21 on p. 403.
For the Orphic concept of heroes see Pugliese Carratelli (2001), p. 65; Bernabé, Jiménez San Cristóbal
(2008), p. 20.
3 See e.g. Nock (1924), n. 13 on p. 108; Nock, citing among others Orphic Hymns (Hymni Orphici) 1.3,
underlines the importance of Dionysiac symbolism in Orphism. See also Chaniotis commenting on the
difficulty of discerning various eschatological traditions in the Orphic tablets (Pythagorean, Dionysiac), EBGR 2000, 198.
1
2
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immortality of the dead, becoming the stars in heaven and/or entering the divine realm of
Aither. This idea certainly did count among the major Orphic themes as well.4 According to at
least some of the Orphic devotees, Aither was in fact a cosmic, impersonal Zeus, other than
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Olympic Zeus. But only in one single instance one might assume specifically Orphic nature of
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catasterism (translation to the stars) presented in a funerary epigram. The inscription comes
from the city of Pherae in Thessaly (3rd century BC?), and contains a number of intriguing
formulations:
‘I, Lykophron, the son of Philiskos, seem sprung from the root of great Zeus,
but in truth am from the immortal fire;
and I live among the heavenly stars uplifted by my father;
but the body born of my mother occupies mother-earth.’(transl. A.A. Avagianou).
Ζηνὸς ἀπὸ ῥίζης µεγάλου Λυκόφρων ὁ Φιλίσκου
δόξηι, ἀληθείαι δὲ ἐκ πυρὸς ἀθανάτου·
καὶ ζῶ ἐν οὐρανίοις ἄστροις ὑπὸ πατρὸς ἀερθείς,
σῶµα δὲ µητρὸς ἐµῆς µητέρα γῆν κατέχει.5
The identification of Lykophron’s background is still being debated by the scholars,
who have produced diverse interpretations. Aphrodite Avagianou in her recent study takes
the epigram from Pherae for some kind of Orphic-Bachcic-Pythagorean manifesto.6 She points
to the apparently Orphic concept of Aither-Zeus as impersonal cosmic force different than
Olympic Zeus, together with the series of oppositions: belief-truth, descent from Zeusdescent from heavenly fire, soul-body, stars on heaven-earth, Zeus the father-Earth the mother. They all share many of similarities with pre-Socratic writings (cosmology), papyrus of
Derveni, and with extant Orphic testimonia. Most notably, the invocation to Mother-Earth
(µήτερ γη) is paralleled by the notorious Orphic formula of the children of Earth and of Star-
For the relations between catasterism and Orphics see Torjussen (2008), pp. 147-152.
BE 1970, 337; Festugière (1972), on p. 63 (in Addenda); Merkelbach (1973); BE 1974, 309; Peek (1974),
pp. 27-28, no. 25; Helly (1978), p. 130; SEG 28, 528; Avagianou (2002); SEG 52, 567; EBGR 2003, 6; BE
2004, 217; Bernabé (2004-2007) 1, 466 T; Bernabé, Jiménez San Cristóbal (2008), pp. 42-43; Torjussen
(2008), n. 58 on pp. 148-149.
6 Avagianou (2002).
4
5
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ry Heaven. Avagianou stresses also the fact that Orphic tablets were excavated in Pherae. In
her view, Lykophron was a regular initiate of some local Dionysiac-Orphic mysteries.7
If this is the case, the epigram from Pherae would certainly constitute unique, most
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pronounced testimony of Orphic themes proclaimed by the medium of inscribed funerary
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poetry. But one may voice some reservations. The eschatology presented on Orphic tablets
differs from that on Lykophron’s grave.8 As far as we can tell, it did not include the concept
of post mortem ascent of the soul to the stars in heaven, unless interpreted symbolically or
philosophically.9 Literal ὑπὸ πατρὸς ἀερθείς seems to contradict this. The focus of Orphic
eschatology was rather on a distinct interpretation of Hades. The mention of the dead body
born of mother and returning to Mother-Earth in the epigram from Pherae is unparalleled,
both among verse-inscriptions and Orphic testimonies. On the other hand, variously formulated, the concept of Mother-Earth appears in a number of funerary epigrams. Therefore, as
such, it does not substantiate any Orphic influences.10 On a stele from Eretria on the island of
Euboea (3rd century BC?) the dead Diogenes, son of Diodorus, declares:
‘- If earth is a god, then surely I too am a god;
from the earth I was born, a lifeless body I have become, and from a body to earth.’
[ε]ἰ θεός ἐσθ’ ἡ γῆ, κἀγὼ θεός εἰµι δικαίως·
ἐκ γῆς γὰρ βλαστὼν γενόµην νεκρός, ἐγ δὲ νεκροῦ γῆ.11
This is a popular poetic formulation, elegant, witty, and imitative, nothing more, noth-
ing less.12 And yet Avagianou gives it a rather imaginative implication: ‘It is a password and
Similarily Festugière (1972), on p. 63 (in Addenda).
Bernabé, Jiménez San Cristóbal (2008), pp. 42-43. Nonetheless, the epigram was included by Bernabé
(2004-2007) 1, 466.
9 In Platonic tradition true nature of soul defined by self-motion (dynamic movement) matches the
movements of stars in heaven. For such possible relations between astral immortality and anamnēsis
alluded in the golden tablets see Pinchard (2012), on pp. 15-19.
10 See e.g. Peek GV 441 (γῆς ὢν∙ πρόσθε γόνος µητέρα γαῖαν ἔχω). See also Peek (1974), pp. 27-28, no.
25 (Peek accentuated the Stoic, even rationalistic – vide the criticism of anthropomorphic idea of godly
father - tone of the poem); Helly (1978), p. 130, and SEG 28, 528. To Jeanne and Louis Robert,
Lykophron professed some kind of unspecified theological, philosophical doctrine, BE 1970, 337; ibidem
1974, 309. A different interpretation was presented by Merkelbach (1973). In his view, Lykophron belonged to the family of divine tyrants of Pherae, Jason and Lykophron; that’s why he is described as
coming from god.
11 Peek GV 1126; Peres (2003), pp. 73-74 (influence of the cult/mysteries of Demeter).
7
8
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a formula of self-presentation of the mystes for the immortality of his soul. This formula constitutes the anthropology of self-definition of the initiate, who, as a being, is partly earthly,
partly divine. Therefore, the initiate has a ‘dual potentiality’; the earthly and the heavenly are
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life would not need such syllogisms.
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united in him, and this is his substance’.13 In any case, the belief in posthumous happy After-
Similar problems arise with other variants of apotheoses of the dead in eschatological
epigrams. There is no need to give a full list of such epigrams being attributed to Orphism by
generations of scholars. Two most interesting examples will suffice. First one comes from
Sabini, now Scandriglia, in Lazio in Italy, and dates to 2nd/3rd-century AD:
‘Your father dedicated this tomb to Aelianus, good and prudent
burying the mortal corpse, but the immortal heart ascended to the abode
of the blessed, for the soul is eternal,
gives life and descends from a divine
origin. Retain, therefore, your tears, father; mother, retain the brothers.
The body is the tunic of the soul. Honour the god in me.’(transl. M. Herrero de
Jáuregui).
Α̣ἰλιανῶι τόδε [σῆµα] πατὴρ ἀγαθῶι πι[νυτῶι τε],
θν̣ητ̣ ὸν κηδ[εύσα]ς σῶµα· τὸ δ' ἀθάνατ[ον]
ἐς µακάρ̣ων ἀνόρο[υσ]ε κέαρ· ψυχὴ γὰρ ἀείζ<ω>[ς],
ἣ τὸ ζῆν παρέχει καὶ θεόφιν κατέβη.
ἴσχεό <το>ι? στοναχῶν πά[τε]ρ, ἴσχε δέ, µῆτερ, ἀδελφούς·
σῶµ̣α̣ χ<ι>τὼν ψυχῆς· τ[ὸ]ν δὲ θεὸν σέβε µου.14
Some scholars did attribute this peculiar apotheosis of the deceased to Orphic or Py-
thagorean influences.15 But again, the ascent to heaven does not go well with the mainstream
Its origins go back to pseudo-Epicharmus, PCG I 297 (p. 172, Pseudepicharmeia); Dieterich (1913), p.
75; Vérilhac (1978) II, n. 26 on pp. 295-296; Sourvinou-Inwood (1995), p. 203; for Latin counterparts see
Cumont (1922), pp. 15-16.
13 Avagianou (2002), p. 87.
14 Kaibel EG 651; Peek GV 1763; Bernabé (2004-2007) 1, 469 V (with mistaken reference number in
Peek’s edition).
12
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Orphic eschatological concepts. Soul of the dead is liberated from the body and returns to the
gods; there is no hint to divine transformation of the soul itself.
Second example, the epigram from Mesembria in Thrace (2nd century AD?), accompa-
‘I, the goddess Hecate, lie here, as you see.
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nies the relief depicting the deceased as Hecate:
Earlier I was mortal, now, as a goddess, I am immortal and young for ever.’ (transl. L.
Portefaix)
ἐνθάδε ἐγὼ κεῖµε Ἑκάτη θεὸς ὡς ἐσορᾷς·
ἤµην τὸ πάλαι βροτός, νῦν δὲ ἀθάνατος καὶ ἀγήρως [...]·16
Pugliese Carratelli makes an unsubstantiated claim discerning some Orphic echoes
here.17 This curious, unique example of a daring identification of the deceased with the deity
may in fact originate in a poetic quest for originality, helped by ‘Thracian’ traditions favouring myths of immortality (Orpheus, Dionysus, Zalmoxis).18
Next to variously formulated apotheoses (with catasterism holding the first place as the
most popular variant), heroisation of the dead constituted the second major eschatological
theme of funerary poetry, sometimes combined with direct references to their heroic cult.19
Meanwhile, heroisation of the dead did constitute a very important tenet of Orphic eschato-
logical imagery. So, this may come as a surprise that there are no extant verse-inscriptions of
this kind bearing the slightest indication of Orphic interpretation. With, perhaps, only one
exception. The epigram from Itanos on Crete (1st century BC) commemorates three brothers,
Farnell (1921), p. 401 (doubts Orphic influences); Zuntz (1971), pp. 405-406 (denied any Orphic features of the epigram); Hoffmann (1978), p. 55 (Neopythagorean influence); Pfohl (1983), col. 488 (Pythagorean); Herrero de Jáuregui (2010), pp. 69-70 (with some reservations assumes general Orphic
background of the epigram); Obryk (2012), pp. 137-139 (Platonic, Pythagorean).
16 Peek GV 438a; MAMA VI 232; Pfuhl, Möbius (1977-1979) II, no. 2088, Tafel 301; Larson (1995), pp. 1618; Dimitrova (2002), pp. 225-226; Chiekova (2007).
17 Pugliese Carratelli (2001), p. 112.
18 Bernabé, Jiménez San Cristóbal (2008), p. 178, while emphasising the prominent role of heroisation of
the dead in Orphism, cautions against literal understanding of apotheosis-theme. As a matter of fact
the cult of Hecate could involve some eschatological manifestations, vide the case of Iphigenia who, by
Artemis’ will, did not die, but has became Hecate, see Hesiod, Catalogue of Women (Eoiae), fr. 20a Most
(2007); see also Rohde (1925), n. 89 on p. 322; Nock (1926a), pp. 50-53; for some additional references
Aronen (1996), n. 28 on p. 128.
19 Funerary monuments were presented as altars, sacrifices to the dead were stipulated etc.
15
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Damon, Pheidon, and Ammonios. They ‘have acquired a temple and sacred heroes’ grove as
gratitude from our country [...] have become by popular decree sacred heroes.’ (νῦν δὲ ναὸν
καὶ ἄλσος ἀφηρωϊσµένον ἁγνὸν τὰς παρὰ τῆς πατρίδος λαµβάνοµεν χάριτας· δόγµασι
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δηµοσίοις γεγενήµε<θ>α ἥρ<ω>ες ἁγνοί [...] (transl. C.H. Hallett with revisions by A. Cha-
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niotis, per. litt.).20 They were to be honoured by a sequence of fine offerings, honeycombs and
incense. In Pindar one finds formulation (long suspected of Orphic connotations) strikingly
similar to the one used with regard to deceased brothers termed as ‘sacred heroes’ (ἥρωες
ἁγνοὶ).21 The general idea of heroisation presented in the epigram from Itanos seems to re-
semble Orphic notions of the honourable status of dead as heroes in the Afterlife. E.g. in a
tablet from Petelia (late 4th century BC) the dead is presented as lord of the heroes.22 Dennis
D. Hughes went as far as to speculate whether one could deduce some Pythagorean or Orphic beliefs behind such remarkable formulations, or at least suspect some influences on their
side. Then, in case of the deceased youths celebrated in the epigram, enjoying the privileged
status in the Afterlife, one would have a clear combination of a ‘traditional’ heroic cult and
cultic understanding of otherwise ‘secular’ term ἥρως,23 combined with the ‘mystical’ Orphic
concept of heroisation.
This hypothesis, however, cannot stand. The concept of privileged status of heroes in
the Afterlife was not narrowed to the Orphic circles. Both Greek-Roman consolatory treatises
and funerary poetry abound in visions of heroes’ posthumous elevation. Relations between
Pindar fr. 133 and Orphism are far from certain.24 The impact of Pindar’s poems is noticeable
in some of inscribed funerary verses, as is that of a number of other poets. Such similarities
Guarducci (1935-1950) III, IV 38; Peek GV 1157; Graf (1985), n. 75 on p. 130; Bile (1988), p. 93, no. 35;
Hughes (1999), p.171; Hallett (2005), pp. 59-60; Martínez Fernández (2006), no. 44, ill. 46.
21 Pindar, fr. 133 Maehler (1987-1989) II; Bernabé (2004-2007) 1, no. 443: ‘But those from whom Persephone accepts the penalty for an ancient grief - she sends back their souls to the sun up above in the
ninth year; from them grow noble kings and men swift in strength and outstanding in wisdom, and for
the rest of time they are called holy heroes by mankind.’ transl. M.M. Willcock (οἷσι δὲ Φερσεφόνα
ποινὰν παλαιοῦ πένθεος δέξεται, ἐς τὸν ὕπερθεν ἅλιον κείνων ἐνάτῳ ἔτεϊ ἀνδιδοῖ ψυχὰς πάλιν,
ἐκ τᾶν βασιλῆες ἀγαυοί καὶ σθένει κραιπνοὶ σοφίᾳ τε µέγιστοι ἄνδρες αὔξοντ'· ἐς δὲ τὸν λοιπὸν
χρόνον ἥροες ἁγ'νοὶ πρὸς ἀνθρώπων καλ<έον>ται εὐδαιµόνων δραπέτας οὐκ ἔστιν ὄλβος πέφ'νε
δὲ τρεῖς καὶ δέκ' ἄνδρας·). Hughes also points to another poem by Pindar, where the virtuous heroes
stay on the Islands of the Blessed, Olympian (Olimpica) 2.61-80 Maehler (1987-1989) I.
22 IG XIV 638; Zuntz (1971), no. B1, pp. 358-359; Pugliese Carratelli (2001) I A 2; Bernabé (2004-2007) 2,
no. 476 F.
23 ‘Selig’, Schmidt (1991), pp. 144-145.
24 See Holzhausen (2004).
20
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cannot be taken for the testimony of ‘Orphic’ influences of any kind.25 And – last but not least
– the author/purchaser of the stele from Itanos did his best to associate the heroisation of deceased brothers with traditional, mythological vision of the Afterlife. He has justified the
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claim for their heroic privileges with unambiguous statement: ‘Minos and all the heroes after
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Minos were honoured with such gifts by their homeland’.26 A genuine Orphic would probably object to such rationalization.
Thus, two most popular eschatological themes in funerary epigrams, catasterism and
heroisation, have left virtually no trace of any Orphic interpretation, even though just such
themes would most conveniently overlap with parallel Orphic concepts. But what about the
very core concepts of Orphism, were they invoked in funerary epigrams? Orphic soteriology
was based on the notions of initiation, purification and apotheosis/heroisation, which al-
lowed the (chosen) dead to take up a privileged place in Hades. What seems characteristic
about Orphic eschatological thinking is the grim vision of fate of a majority of the deceased
and emphasis put on the redemptive role of the deities of the Underworld.27 The image of
Persephone in the Orphic tablets is definitively a positive one. She appears as a friendly,
compassionated goddess. Other gods of the Underworld act in a similar way.28 Here again a
possible link between Orphism and funerary epigrams exists, as in some of them Hades and
Persephone appear as gods of salvation, helping the dead and leading them to the abodes of
eternal bliss. Hades is described as an active, divine power, guarding over the region of
Hades which has been reserved for the just.29 In the epigram from Trikka in Thessaly (1st cen-
See, e.g. remarks by Day (1991), p. 557. Another example of postulated Orphic/Pindaric influence is
cited in Bernabé (2004-2007) 1, as no. 468 V.
26 Local traditions of funerary commemoration were probably at play as well. Two other epigrams
from Itanos present the deceased as heroes, Peek GV 678 and 1249.
27 Bernabé, Jiménez San Cristóbal (2008), pp. 18 and 43; on the ‘dualistic’ vision of Hades pp. 196-198.
See also Turcan (1956); Graf (1974), p. 80; Bernabé (2009). For recent surveys of Orphic eschatology see
Graf, Iles Johnston (2007), pp. 94-136; Herrero de Jáuregui (2007); Bernabé (2012).
28 Pugliese Carratelli (2001), pp. 100 and 113. For Persephone in Orphism Hadzisteliou Price (1978), pp.
171-176; Kingsley (1995), pp. 267-272; for different traditions of Orphic eschatology, one centred
around Persephone, the other around waters of Mnemosyne, see EBGR 2000, 198; Pluto and Persephone Gavrilaki, Tzifopoulos (1998), especially pp. 353-355; EBGR 1998, 89 and remarks in no. 277.
29 See e.g. θῆκ' Ἀΐδης ἔµπνουν εἰς µυχὸν εὐσεβέων, Kaibel EG 241a (Addenda, p. 521); Peek GV 1148.
Similar idea appears in the epigram form Megalopolis in Arcadia; here again Hades sends the dead to
the Land of the Blessed, SEG 34, 325; Te Riele (1984); Te Riele (1986); BE 1987, 616-617; ibidem 1988, 39;
Samama (2003), no. 043.
25
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tury BC) Pluto sends the deceased Gerys into the Land of the Blessed.30 Similarly Persephone,
answering the prayers, leads the dead toward the Land of the Blessed31 or to Elysium.32 In the
epigram from Panticapaeum (2nd-1st century BC) beautiful Theophile of Sinope was kid-
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napped by Hades, but the poet stresses the fact that she did not become the bride of Hades,
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but of Pluto. Her parents were consoled with the idea that ‘She has gone to the bed of the
immortal gods.’33 The contrast drawn here between Hades/death and Pluto/eternal life, re-
sulting in a marked dichotomy of fate of the deceased, was taken as an evidence of Orphic
faith of Theophile herself and of her family.34 Archaeology seems to provide additional confirmation. In the vicinity of Panticapaeum some peculiar funerary paintings were found, dated to 1st century AD; their unusual iconography of Persephone and Pluto was interpreted as
‘Orphic’.35 Moreover, Panticapaeum is located not far from Olbia, where a number of important Orphic texts was found.36
Such expressions though, even if coming from the environs where some unmistakably
Orphic testimonies have been found, cannot be ascribed to any specific cult. Funerary epigrams laying stress on positive relations between the deceased and the Underworld deities,
Kaibel EG 506; Peek GV 1967; Lorenz (1989), reviewed in SEG 39, 520; Lorenz (1999), on pp. 764-765;
Samama (2003), no. 071. The expression used in the epigram (ἄνδρα δίκαιον [πέµψε πρόφρων
Πλούτων χ]ῶρον ἐς εὐσεβέων) resembles the soteriological role Persephone played in the Orphic
tablets from Thurioi (ὥς µε {Ι} πρόφ<ρ>ω<ν> πέµ̣ψῃ); other analogies in the epigrams from Smyrna,
SGO I 05/01/50; see Chaniotis (2000), p. 166; Le Bris (2001), pp. 68-71. For Orphic influences on the cult
of Persephone in Trikka see the references in SEG 49, 600. For some other testimonies of Orphism in
this city Martínez de Tejada y Garaizábal (1999), and the review in SEG 49, 600.
31 Peek GV 842; Peek GG 154 (Salamis on Cyprus, Hellenistic); see also GV 1572 and Peek GV 1871, on
which recently Cardin (2007)=SEG 75, 2007. For examples of Chthonic deities (Hades, Pluto and Persephone) addressed in funerary epigrams see Parker, Stamatopoulou (2004), on p. 7.
32 See also Persephone in Peek GV 1128 (ἐσθλὰ δὲ ναίω δώµατα Φερσεφόνας χώρῳ ἐν εὐσεβέων);
Peek GV 1594; Peek GG 350 and p. 314; SEG 35, 630 and 38, 590.
33 οὐκ Ἀΐδας ζοφεραῖς ἀµφέβαλεν παλάµαις,
Πλούτων δ' εἰς θαλάµους τὰ γαµήλια λαµπάδι φέγγη
ἇψε, ποθεινοτάτην δεξάµενος γαµέτιν.
[ὦ γ]ονέες, θρήνων νῦν λήξατε, παύετ' ὀδυρµῶν·
Θειοφίλη λέκτρων ἀθανάτων ἔτυχεν. Peek GV 1989; CIRB no. 130, on pp. 127-129.
34 Rostovtseff (2004), pp. 214-216. Rostovtseff adduced (inter alia) Peek GV 1869; CIRB 131 and Peek GV
1265; CIRB 129 (Rostovtseff gives mistaken reference to CIRB 299), on which SEG 52, 745 and Tischow
(2002), where Hades is presented as enemy. Hinge (2008) adds Peek GV 529; CIRB 117, which echoes
Nonnos, Dionysiacs (Dionysiaca) 19.133.
35 Nock (1940), on p. 303; Rostovtseff (2004), plates XLIX; LVII; LXIII; LXIV.4; LXXXIX and pp. 214-216
(with addendum d on p. 216). See, however, the critical remarks by Stuart Jones (1916).
36 See the survey in Bilde (2008), pp. 30-31.
30
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for all their originality, follow the lines of topoi of funerary poetry.37 Divine protection was
offered not only by Hades and Persephone, but by Minos, Hermes, Aiakos, and even Moirai.38 If – occasionally – the gods of the Underworld ensured some kind of salvation or happi-
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as divine saviours per se.39
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ness in the Afterlife, it was rather due to their rule, judgement over the dead than to their role
We will move now to the scattered evidence for some other characteristically Orphic
ideas which may be echoed in funerary poetry, starting with the idea of forgetfulness, Lethe,
as advised by Orphic tablets. Lethe appears in several of extant verse-inscriptions.40 In the
epigram from Alexandria (?) in Egypt, dated to 2nd century AD (?) the deceased Apollos does
not descend into the House of the Dead; instead, he reaches the Elysian Fields:
‘Kyllenios Hermes gathers me with the sons of Gods
and I have not drunk the water of Forgetfulness.’ (transl. L.R. Farnell).41
ἒνθ’ ἅµα παισὶ θεῶν µε φ[έρ]ων Κυλλήνιος Ἑρµῆς
ἵδρυσε καὶ Λήθης οὐκ ἔπιον λιβάδα·
Lethe (or Letha) was a river in Hades. From it, the dead were drinking the water of for-
getfulness. This made them forget everything. Usually, such forgetfulness was regarded a
blessing and a privilege of death, as it was tantamount to liberating the dead from all earthly
cares.42 It could also precede successive incarnations of the soul, so that the memory of the
past will not disturb the new life. In the epigram for Apollos forgetfulness is, however, presented as sort of impediment, punishment for those who could not attain eternity and divine
realm. It possible that the composer/purchaser of the epigram did sympathise with the idea
Wypustek (2013), pp. 104-112.
Kaibel EG 222; Peek GV 48; Peek GG 22 and commentary on p. 297; Sève (1996). See also Engemann
(1973), p. 43 and n. 26.
39 For Hades as a judge of the dead see the references in Ricciardelli (2000), pp. 313-314; for Persephone, Ricciardelli (2000), p. 346 ad line 5. For the idea of divine judgement Graf (1974), pp. 121-126.
40 See Sacco (1978) and Chaniotis (2000), n. 43 on p. 181; Jiménez San Cristóbal (2011); Obryk (2012), pp.
117-126.
41 Kaibel EG 414; Peek GV 1090; Bernand (1969), no. 73, on pp. 294-303; Obryk (2012), pp. 128-130.
42 ‘Gift of forgetfulness’ (λήθης δῶρα) in the epigram form from Smyrna (2 nd-3rd century AD), see Kaibel EG, no. 312; Peek GV, no. 1765; IK 23(1), 539; Ricciardelli Apicella (1992), on p. 37 (for some parallels in Orphic testimonies); SGO I 05/01/64; Bernabé (2009), pp. 122-123 (for Orphic visions of drinking
wine and feasting in the Afterlife). See also the positive presentation of Lethe in Peek GV 1585.
37
38
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that the chosen ones, especially those initiated into the mysteries, knowing the secrets of the
Afterlife, did not have to drink water form Lethe, and as a result they could avoid amnesia
brought on by this.43 In Orphic tablets the dead entering the Underworld are recommended
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to keep away from the Spring of Forgetfulness (λῐβάς appearing in Apollos’ epigram means
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either water or spring); in them also, Kyllenios Hermes is termed as guide44 and the Afterlife
is presented as blessed existence among pious souls and gods.45
But other explanation of Lethe in this epigram is also possible. Apollos’ stele, combin-
ing Greek and Egyptian motifs (he presents himself as the servant of Osiris in Abydos; the
relief shows Anubis and Osiris) may allude to different concept of waters in Afterlife. In a
number of Greek funerary verse-inscriptions (especially later, dating to imperial era) the deceased drink, instead of the waters of Lethe, the ‘cold (sacred) water’ of Osiris, god of the
Underworld.46 This might be influenced by traditions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, where
the dead asked the deity to quench their thirst. It seems that the dead of ancient Egypt did
not need purifying waters of forgetfulness to ensure their rebirth at Osiris’s side. Still, there
are epigrams mentioning waters of Lethe to be avoided, where no Egyptian influence is visible. In the epigram from Miletus (2nd century AD?) Tritonis (that is Athena) takes the deceased to Olympus, as he did not have to drink from the waters of Lethe (µὴ πιὼν Λήθης
ὕδωρ), and introduces him to the gods, where he banquets with them (ὁµέστιος).47 From Miletus comes also the epigram for Hermaios (1-2nd century AD), who did not drink water of
Lethe (οὐ Λήθης, Ἑρµα[ῖε, ποτὸν πίες,]) and went up into the stars.48 In these two epigrams
the afterlife fate of the deceased is described in detail, and this has nothing to do with Orphism. Hence, included in this array of religious decorative motifs used by the poets, image
For a-lētheia of the ‘privileged’ dead and the Orphic idea of Lethe Betz (2011), pp. 104-105.
Orphic Hymns (Hymni Orphici) 57.
45 That’s why Rohde (1925), n. 151 on pp. 575-576 and Sacco (1978), pp. 42; 51-52 assume Apollos to be
Orphic. See also Betz (1998), n. 14 on p. 402.
46 For the recent study of the motif Delia (1992); in her view the water of Osiris corresponds to the sacred, life-bearing water of Life, identified with Osiris. That’s why in the Egyptian tradition drowning
in Nile symbolises apotheosis and rebirth. On possible relations between this formula and Orphism
Pugliese Carratelli (2001), pp. 51-54; Peres (2003) pp. 54-59 and 130 (in his vie in at least some of the
cases this was influenced by Orphism); Bernabé, Jiménez San Cristóbal (2008), pp. 29-35. See Edmonds
III (2004), pp. 48 and 135 for the motif of the thirst of the dead.
47 EBGR 1998, 121; Herrmann (1998), no. 754; SGO I 01/20/27; Peres (2003), pp. 229-230.
48 Peek GV 1829; Herrmann (1998), no. 755; SGO I 01/20/29; Chaniotis (2000), pp. 171-172; Avagianou
(2002), n. 44 on p. 83 (Pythagorean influence).
43
44
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of Lethe bears testimony to their artistic creativity. As in the epigram from Knidos in Caria (21st century BC) where the widower, Theios, addresses his dead wife, Atthis:
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‘I did not drink of the Lethe, daughter of Hades, the final water,
so that I might have the consolation of you, even among the dead.’ (transl. J. Hanink)
οὐκ ἔπιον λήθης Ἀιδωνίδος ἔσχατον ὕδωρ
ὥς σε παρηγορίην κἀν φθιµένοισιν ἔχω [...]· 49
Here the topos of avoiding waters of Lethe serves purely poetical agenda: forgetfulness
would either deprive Theios of cherished memories of shared happiness or take away the
consolation of seeing her returning in his dreams.50 Exploited in this way, it certainly does not
point to any Orphic influences.51
What is left is a handful of verse-inscriptions with isolated terms of - perhaps - Orphic
provenience. The epigram from Lorima in Caria (Rhodian Peraia, 4-3rd century BC?) for Agoranax whose soul was received by Aither makes use of Orphic (?) soma-sema expression.52 The
Attic epigram published in 1987 (and dated to the 1st century BC-2nd century AD), for the
prematurely dead Atthis, whose soul went to Aither, also includes the comparison of σῶµα
to σῆµα.53 The Orphic concept of escape from ‘the cycle’ of earthly misfortunes and toils is
referred to in the epigram from Panticapaeum (1-2nd century AD).54 Apart from that, nothing
Kaibel EG 204; Farnell (1921), p. 400 (Orphic influence); Peek GV 1874; IK 41(1), 303; SGO I 01/01/07;
Le Bris (2001), pp. 71 and 91 (n. 17), 127, 162 (discerns Orphic influence, compares the epigram to the
Orphic tablet from Petelia); Hanink (2010); Obryk (2012), pp. 130-132.
50 Similar is the case of AP VII 346.
51 Jiménez San Cristóbal (2011) surveys the epigrams referring to avoiding the waters of Lethe and
states: ‘some original ideas and images from the Orphic circles spread widely and crossed the limits of
mystery cults’. The author notes also that epigrams do not locate the promised beatitude beneath the
earth, as would fit the Orphic context proper.
52 [σῆµα τόδ’?] ἔστ’ Ἀγορ̣ά[ν]ακ̣το[ς,] παιδὸς Φιλ[υ—]
[σῶµα δ]ὲ Φοινίκη κατέχει, ψυχὴν δ’ ἕ[λεν Ἅιδης?]
[καί µε?] κ̣ασίγνητοι θάψαµ πατρίοισιν [ἐν ἀγροῖς?], Peek GV 1742; SEG 14, 695; Bresson (1991), no.
184; IK 38, 15; SGO I 01/03/0; Le Bris (2001), p. 84 (refers to Plato, Cratylus 400 c). For this terminology
see also Obryk (2012), p. 141.
53 Editio princeps with wrong provenance Moysey, Dolan (1987), see the correction by Clinton (1988a)
and SEG 37, 198; J. Bousquet, BE 1988, 37.
54 οὐ λόγον, ἀλλὰ βίον σοφίης ἐτυπώσαο δόξαν
αὐτοδαὴς ἱερῶν γινόµενος κριµάτων.
εὕδων οὖν, Ἑκαταῖε, µεσόχρονος, ἴσθ’ ὅτι θᾶσσον
49
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but a few faint echoes remain. E.g. in the epigram from Naples (1-2nd century AD) Pluto is
picking, collecting (τρυγᾶις) the unripe grapes of youth (τί τρυγᾶις ὄµφακας ἡλικίης;).55 The
comparison of death to harvest is a well known motif in Greek and Roman literature. But the
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nysiac’, ‘Orphic’ interpretation of vine grapes, dying to be reborn in wine.56
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verb for ‘picking’ used in this epigram was also used by Diodorus in his description of ‘Dio-
Certainly, one could present many more such examples. All this would, however,
amount to few ambiguous, incidental instances of poetic vocabulary and expression. The
truth is that as far Orphism is concerned, there is almost complete silence in funerary verseinscriptions. Why? Is it that, for some reasons, the families of the deceased ‘Orphics’, while
burying with them tablets glorifying their privileged status in the Afterlife, preferred not to
make this distinction visible to the public? But this silence could be to a number of reasons,
not necessarily a matter of conscious decision, and not necessarily a distinct ‘feature’ of Orphic funerary commemoration. 57 First, we must take in consideration very fragmentary nature of the evidence for Orphic funerary habits. What we have is a handful of tablets, restrict-
ed both territorially and chronologically (most of them come from Crete, southern Italy and
Thessaly, and date to 4-3rd centuries BC). The wider range of inscribed funerary epigrams
does not help much: they constitute only a small fraction of extant epitaphs. Second, almost
complete lack of ‘Orphic’ grave poems might have been conditioned by mundane factors the cost and unavailability of such refinements as poetic, inscribed verses were. In other
words, it is probably wiser not to suspect Orphics of keeping their rituals and faith secret,
κύκλον ἀνιηρῶν ἐξέφυγες καµάτων. Bickerman (1938-1939); Nock (1940); Cumont (1942), n. 2 on pp.
32-33; Peek GV 1812; Peek GG 333; CIRB 121; Casadio (1991), on pp. 136-137 (in his view both the terminology and the authorship of the epigram are thoroughly Orphic, see SEG 41, 624); Panchenko
(1992) (agrees with Nock that it represents some popular philosophy rather than Orphic piety); SEG 42,
688 (dating the epigram to the 2nd half of the 1st century BC); Bernabé (2004-2007) I, 467 V; Twardecki
(2007); Twardecki (n.d.) rejects the Orphic interpretation of the text; in his view the deceased Hekataios
was a member of some religious association. On prayers by the initiates of Dionysus and Kore wishing
to exit circle of life, see Farnell (1896-1909) III, p. 212; for the term κύκλος in Orphism see Bernabé,
Jiménez San Cristóbal (2008), pp. 117-121; Torjussen (2008), pp. 160-163.
55 Kaibel EG 575; Peek GV 1883; Turcan (2001); Tränkle (1990), p. 147.
56 Diodorus Siculus, Library of History (Bibliotheca historica) 3.62.2-8.
57 Bremmer (1994a), p. 115; similarly Lattimore (1942), p. 146. Dionysiac initiates, for all their mystic
inclinations, seem to present unreserved and customary materialistic, hedonistic worldview in their
epitaphs, see Cole (1984); see also BE 1988, 59; Cole (1993) and reviews SEG 43, 1291; EBGR 1994-1995,
76. For Orphic-Dionysiac elements in the funerary epigrams see Rohde (1925), pp. 542-543; Chaniotis
(2000), n. 19 on p. 177; Le Bris (2001), pp. 68-71; Dickie (2005).
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while divulging sacred formulas only to the dead and to the deities awaiting them in the Afterlife.58
This silence may be due to the fragmentary evidence at our disposal, but other than
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Orphic eschatological visions of Afterlife are much better represented in funerary epigrams.
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So this silence speaks, even if quietly. It has probably something to do with the elusive social
facet of Orphism. This would be yet another hint to suggest that ‘Orphics’ did not build col-
lective ties and that their social identity was less developed than, for example, that of Pythagoreans or initiates of Dionysiac mysteries, and that their Orphic affiliation was personal
and based on books.59 To large extent, funerary monuments (and funerary epigrams) constituted a public manifestation of within-group status or social status of the deceased and of
their families. Therefore, it seems that such group membership did not define the individuals
as being ‘Orphic’. Otherwise they would proudly manifest their honourable affiliation or
their privileged status in the afterlife.60
Abbreviations
AP – W.R. Paton (ed.), Greek Anthology, Cambridge, Mass. 1916.
BE - Bulletin Épigraphique
CIRB - V.V. Struve (ed.), Corpus Inscriptionum Regni Bosporani Moskwa, Leningrad 1965.
EBGR - A. Chaniotis, Epigraphic Bulletin for Greek Religion, „Kernos” 1991IG - Inscriptiones Graecae, Berlin 1873IK - Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien, Bonn 1972-
MAMA - Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua I-VIII, W.M. Calder (ed. et al.), Manchester
1928-1962 („Publications of the American Society for Archaeological Research in Asia Mi-
At the same time, however, other eschatological traditions have left us with a number of verseinscriptions which bear unmistakable, Pythagorean or Dionysiac characteristics; for the Pythagorean
see Cumont (1942), n. 2 on pp. 32-33 and 422-431; Nock (1946), n. 25 on pp. 145-146; n. 54 on p. 153;
Tod (1957), on pp. 133-134; Chaniotis (2000), n. 8 on p. 175; Avagianou (2002), n. 44 on p. 83; for the
Dionysiac, Cole (1984).
59 See Walter Burkert’s assessment of the way Orphic tradition operated: ‘Berufung auf Bücher ist
ebenso bezeichnend wie revolutionär: Hier dringt die Schriftlichkeit in einen Bereich ein, der von der
Unmittelbarkeit der rituellen oder der Mündlichkeit der mythischen Tradition beherrscht war.’, Burkert (2011), p. 442.
60 The virtual lack of any conclusive evidence for exclusive burial plots for Orphic initiates also points
in this direction.
58
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nor”) and IX-X, B. Levick (ed. et al.), London 1988-1993 („Journal of Roman Studies Monograph” 4 and 7).
PCG - Poetae Comici Graeci I-VIII, R. Kassel, C.F.L. Austin (eds.), Berlin – New York
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1983–2001.
Peek GG - W. Peek, Griechische Grabgedichte. Griechisch und Deutsch, Berlin 1960 („Schrif-
ten und Quellen der Alten Welt”, 7).
Peek GV - W. Peek, Griechische Vers-Inschriften. I. Grab-Epigramme, Berlin 1955 (repr.
Chicago 1988).
SEG - Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum Leiden 1923-
SGO - Merkelbach, Stauber (1998-2004) R. Merkelbach, J. Stauber, Steinepigramme aus
dem Griechischen Osten I-V, Stuttgart – München – Leipzig 1998-2004.
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Bernand (1969) É. Bernand, Inscriptions métriques de l’Égypte gréco-romaine. Recherches sur
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Summary
Many Classical scholars assume that Greek verse-inscriptions proclaiming clear-cut vi-
sions of Afterlife do originate in mystery cults. Accordingly, such verses are either termed as
Orphic, Pythagorean, Dionysiac, or some kind of direct influence by mystery cults on them is
recognized. The following paper surveys scant evidence for the alleged Orphic funerary poems. Apparently as far Orphism is concerned, there is almost complete silence in funerary
verse-inscriptions. A critical appraisal of some ‘Orphic’ attributions allows also to draw some
inferences on relations between ‘Orphic’ traditions and Greek funerary poetry. To large extent, funerary monuments (and funerary epigrams) constituted a public manifestation of
within-group status or social status of the deceased and of their families. Therefore, it seems
that such group membership did not define the individuals as being ‘Orphic’. The ‘Orphics’
(and their dead) did not build collective ties and that their social identity was less developed
than, for example, that of Pythagoreans or initiates of Dionysiac mysteries. Otherwise they
would proudly manifest their honourable affiliation or their privileged status in the afterlife.
KEYWORDS: Greek religion; Orphic; funerary; verse-inscriptions
140
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Andrzej Wypustek, Ph.D. (1998), University of Wroclaw, Poland, associate professor of
ancient history in the Institute of History of that university. Over the years, he has taken part
www.litant.eu
in a number of academic programs (i.a. Affiliated A.W. Mellon Fellow, American Academy
Littera Antiqua
in Rome; Research Fellow, Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of
London; Visiting Senior Fulbright Scholar, Department of Classics, University of Chicago;
Visiting Scholar, Department of Archaeology and Ancient Studies, Stockholm University).
His research interests include history of private life in Greece and Rome, ancient magic, early
Christianity. He is the author and co-author of a number of scholarly articles and books on
various aspect of ancient history. Most important are: Magia antyczna, Ossolineum, Wrocław
2001, Życie rodzinne w starożytnej Grecji, Ossolineum, Wrocław 2007, Bogowie, herosi i wybrańcy.
Wizerunek zmarłych w greckich epigramach nagrobnych epoki hellenistycznej i grecko-rzymskiej,
Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, Wrocław 2011 (Monografie Fundacji Nauki
Polskiej), Images of Eternal Beauty in Funerary Verse Inscriptions of the Hellenistic and GrecoRoman Periods, BRILL, Leiden 2013 (Mnemosyne, Supplements 352). He has also coauthored
three handbooks (Ze świata do Polski przez Europę. Starożytność. Średniowiecze. Podręcznik historii
dla klasy 1 Liceów Ogólnokształcących, Liceów Profilowanych oraz Techników, with Marek L. Wójcik, Polskie Przedsiębiorstwo Wydawnictw Kartograficznych/Wydawnictwo Książnica-Atlas,
Wrocław-Warsaw 2002; Historia, Starożytność - podręcznik, with Anna Krzyszowska, Wiking
Publishing House, Wrocław 2002; handbook of ancient history as part of the national and EU
educational project „E-podręczniki do kształcenia ogólnego”, 2013-2015).
141
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ROBERT K. ZAWADZKI
(Akademia im. Jana Długosza w Częstochowie)
www.litant.eu
Littera Antiqua
Pobożność renesansowa czyli precationes quotidianae (na podstawie Catechismi Capita
Decem Ambrożego Moibana oraz elegii Ioannesa Stigeliusa i Joachima Camerariusa)
Do naszych czasów doszło wiele utworów modlitewnych poprzednich epok. Znamy
modlitwy
starożytno
–
chrześcijańskie,
średniowieczne,
dysponujemy
modlitwami
renesansowymi – i ponad wszelkimi różnicami – dostrzec można w tym olbrzymim
materiale literackim rysy wspólne, rysy zresztą całkiem aktualne i dziś. Oczywiście – zawsze
ideałem była pobożność polegająca bądź na uwielbieniu Boga i dziękczynieniu Jemu, bądź
na prośbie skierowanej do Niego lub świętych o różnorakie dary i łaski1. W renesansie formy
modlitewne miały charakter artystyczno – erudycyjno – antyczny z określonego punktu
widzenia. Różnica w kształcie zewnętrznym jest wyraźna, ale w samym klimacie modlitwy
wówczas, dziś i w ogóle zawsze jest coś wspólnego2. Wczytując się w pobożne kompozycje,
w padające wersy, gładkie, nienagannie zbudowane zgodnie z normami antycznej poetyki,
można poczuć tę wspólność jakiejś atmosfery religijnej ekstazy i kontemplacji. Twórcy
renesansowi byli łowcami starożytnych form artystycznych i chrześcijańskiej treści – zdani
na teksty poetów rzymskich i greckich, nie rozmijali się wcale, pomimo obowiązującej
zasady imitatio antiquorum3, z zagadnieniem stosunku słów do ewangelicznego życia. Pełni
erudycji żonglowali ukształtowanymi w literaturze antycznej formami słownymi, systemami
wersyfikacyjnymi i stylistyką, nieobojętni wobec problemu wyrażania z pomocą tych
konstrukcji prawd chrześcijańskich i norm życia duchowego. Zresztą przesłania tych
utworów nie należy zawężać do jednej dziedziny, określać zbyt jednostronnie – sprawa nie
jest tak łatwa do wyjaśnienia. Po zapoznaniu się z okolicznościami ich powstania, szybko
można dojść do wniosku, że ten sui generis artyzm modlitwy był wynikiem silnych i
niezmiennie w średniowieczu i renesansie akcentowanych pretensji jej twórców do –
parenetyki4. Modlitwa musiała być piękna, by zachęcała wiernych do kontaktu z Bogiem.
Różne formy religijności na przestrzeni wieków omawia Aumann 1993.
Ciekawe refleksje na temat antropologicznego wymiaru modlitwy zob.: Górski 2002: 34 – 45.
3 O imitatio antiquorum istnieje bardzo obszerna literatura. Zob. np.: Fulińka 2000, Otwinowska 1973 a: 390;
Otwinowska 1967 a: 25 – 28; Otwinowska 1973 b: 96 – 114; Otwinowska 1967 b. Michałowska 1974: 12.
Tatarkiewicz 1975: 35.
4 Kategorię parenetyki omawia Dziechcińka 1972: 355 – 390.
1
2
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Apostolskie ambicje poetów niosące konieczność ukształtowania form wierszowych,
nakierowanych na ściśle określonego odbiorcę, powodowały znamienny fakt, że modlitwa z
utworu lirycznego stawała się utworem użytkowym, stanowiącym dla czytelnika gotowy
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materiał odnoszący się do tego, co, jak, gdzie i kiedy powinien mówić do swego Stwórcy i
Pana. Mnóstwo tu apostrof, mnóstwo tu miejsca na wypowiedzi w pierwszej osobie liczby
pojedynczej, na nawiązania do opowieści Nowego i Starego Testamentu, które przecież
częstokroć inspirowały inne wielkie talenty literackie, mnóstwo mistyki, jaka kryje się w
tajemniczych relacjach ludzkiej duszy z Absolutem, mnóstwo wątków pasyjnych, słowem –
mnóstwo pobożności. W utworach modlitewnych nie mogło oczywiście zabraknąć modlitwy
– nie brakło wątków wiary, ale zalatywało niekiedy zbytnią egzaltacją w ustawieniu słów, w
stosowaniu pewnych zwrotów i wyrażeń, egzaltacją robiącą dziś wrażenie przesady i
hiperboli. Przekonamy się o tym jeszcze, analizując wybrane kompozycje.
Właściwością charakterystyczną, która uderzała zarówno w poezji renesansowej, jak i
w wielu wypowiedziach prozatorskich tej epoki, było coś, co można by nazwać ideą
odmawiania modlitwy w każdej sytuacji. W literaturze idea ta wyrażała się w tym, że wielu
autorów pisało utwory modlitewne odnoszące się do poszczególnych czynności
codziennych, jak poranne wstawanie z łóżka, przygotowywanie się do spożywania
posiłków, udawanie się na nocny spoczynek. Ta idea, wzmocniona jeszcze o ruch
reformacyjny i nowe formy wiary, przybierała niejednokrotnie postać bardzo radykalną –
pacierze, litanie i koronki zamieszczano nawet w podręcznikach gramatyki5. Postulatywność
głoszonych zasad sprawiła, że tworzono traktaty poświęcone modlitwie, posiadające cechy
poradników, w których udzielano rad, jak należy rozmawiać z Bogiem. Charakterystyczna
pod tym względem była twórczość Erazma z Rotterdamu6. W swych pismach takich, jak np.
Modus orandi Deum (1524 i nast.), czy w objaśnieniach Modlitwy Pańskiej zastanawiał się nad
ideą dobrej modlitwy i dochodził do wniosku, że u podstaw jej stoją pobożność, lektura
Pisma Świętego i świadome dążenie człowieka do ustawicznego kontaktu z Bogiem.
Założenia te formułowali także pisarze i działacze luterańscy. Należał do nich
Ambroży Moiban7, postać bez wątpienia ciekawa, człowiek wszechstronnie wykształcony,
humanista, złączony także pewną więzią z Polską. Urodzony w 1494 we Wrocławiu, przybył
Zob. na ten temat: Budzyński 2003: 375.
Zob. Domański 1973.
7 O Ambrożym Moibanie zob.: Schimmelpfenning 1885: 81.
5
6
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w 1510 roku do Krakowa, gdzie rozpoczął czteroletnie studia na wydziale Artium, które
zwieńczył bakalaureatem i magisterium. Jak wiadomo, wielu Ślązaków nie mając w swojej
ojczyźnie szkoły wyższej opuszczało swe domy i udawało się po wiedzę do różnych
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uniwersytetów europejskich8. Kraków był miastem najbliżej położonym, sławnym w całym
ówczesnym świecie z nauk astronomicznych, reprezentowanych przez znakomitych
uczonych i absolwentów Akademii. Ten fakt na pewno zaważył w dużym stopniu na tym, że
uczelnia tutejsza przyciągała młodych, zdolnych ludzi pragnących się kształcić. Do stolicy
Polski zjeżdżali począwszy od XV wieku scholarchowie z całej Europy. Byli to Kallimach
(Filip Buonaccorsi), Konrad Celtis, Heinrich Bebel, Wawrzyniec Korwin, Jan Sommerfeld
Starszy, Jan Sommerfeld Młodszy i inni. Moiban przybył więc do Krakowa i zdobył w nim
swoje pierwsze stopnie naukowe. W 1515 roku przeniósł się na roczne studia do Wiednia, by
w 1516 roku powrócić do Wrocławia, zostać rektorem szkoły katedralnej, a w 1520 roku
objąć stanowisko rektora Kościoła św. Marii Magdaleny. Stał się gorącym zwolennikiem
wyznania luterańskiego9, niemniej z nieznanych nam powodów popadł w konflikt z
duchowieństwem wrocławskim. W 1521 roku musiał opuścić swoje rodzinne miasto.
Przeniósł się do Ingolstadt, gdzie poznał język hebrajski, a później pojechał do Wittenbergi,
gdzie kontynuował studia – zdobył doktorat z filozofii w 1525 roku. W tym samym roku
powrócił do Wrocławia i nie niepokojony tym razem przez nikogo, został pastorem w
kościele św. Elżbiety. Umarł we Wrocławiu 16 stycznia 1554 roku.
Moiban należał do czołowych ideologów luteranizmu w tym mieście, stworzył kilka
książek, w których z zapałem opisywał założenia nowej wiary. Jedną z tych publikacji był
Katechizm luterański, którego pełny tytuł brzmiał: Catechismi Christiani Capita, Iuvenibus his, in
litteris honestis, progressum aliquem fecerunt proponenda10. Dzieło zaopatrzone w przedmowę
samego Filipa Melanchtona, ukazywało się najpierw dwukrotnie w Wittenberdze w 1535 i
1538 roku, pod nieco zmienionym tytułem Catechismi Capita Decem. Niebawem pojawiła się
także wersja niemieckojęzyczna. Później przedrukowano łacińskie wydanie utworu wraz z
Zob. Dyba 1991.
O reformacji na Śląsku zob. Jaskóła 2011: 117 – 132. Dola 1996: 162. Szczepankiewicz – Battek 1996. Ogólnie o
reformacji: Todd 1974; Williams 1962; McGrath 1988.
10 O tym utworze: Budzyński 2001: 98.
8
9
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modlitwami hymnicznymi Wawrzyńca Korwina i innych autorów we Wrocławiu w latach
1544 i 1546 w oficynie wydawniczej Andrzeja Winklera11.
W Katechizmie podsuwał Mioban szkolnej młodzieży wzory pewnych modlitw na
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każdą chwilę dnia, stworzył utwór w rodzaju modlitewnika12. Modlitwy odnosiły się do
poszczególnych czynności codziennych i stanowiły gotowe propozycje zwracania się do
Boga (forma orandi). Ów Katechizm łączył się, rzecz jasna, z działalnością edukacyjną
Moibana. Działalność ta nie polegała tylko na dydaktyce określonych przedmiotów
szkolnych, odnosiła się także do pewnej wizji wychowania młodego pokolenia. Wrocławski
intelektualista oczywiście przychylał się zdecydowanie do chrześcijańskiej koncepcji
pedagogii. Głęboko, żarliwie religijny, a zarazem reformator i innowator uważał, że
nauczyciel powinien pełnić wobec młodzieży misję humanistyczną, przepojoną zasadami
głoszonymi przez Pismo Święte i ideałami kultury antycznej. Opowiadał się też za
udostępnieniem edukacji wszystkim młodym ludziom bez względu na płeć, twierdząc, że i
dziewczęta powinny mieć prawo zdobywania wiedzy w szkołach i na uniwersytetach13.
Miewał więc Moiban bardzo nowatorskie, jak na owe czasy, pomysły edukacyjne, które
zresztą wprowadzał w życie.
Katechizm wraz z owymi modlitwami staje się na tym tle dla dzisiejszego czytelnika
zrozumialszy – uwypuklają się tu założenia wychowawcze Moibana. Modlitwa stanowi
istotny składnik wychowania, powinna wyprzedzać proces uczenia się. Wychowanie nie
polega na uczeniu się czysto werbalnym, encyklopedycznym i tylko erudycyjnym. Młody
człowiek rozwija się zdobywając wiedzę i utrzymując kontakt z Bogiem. Ta idea pedagogii
wzbogaca się o jeszcze jeden czynnik w wypadku Ambrożego Moibana, bo wszakże był on
nie tylko nauczycielem, ale również, jak wiemy – humanistą. Dla humanisty zaś łacina – i to
w wersji klasycznej – Cycerońskiej i Wergiliańskiej, to jeden z ważnych wyróżników jego
działalności, jego warsztatu – humanista posługuje się mową Rzymian, a z jakimże
upodobaniem powinien to robić, jeśli jednocześnie jest również – nauczycielem. Być
wychowawcą i zarazem stylistą albo poetą – to przecież niezwykły wzorzec prawdziwego
W niniejszym artykule korzystam z wydania z roku 1544 – wydania znajdującego się w Bibliotece
Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, nr sygnatury: 310372.
12 O kategorii modlitewników w dawnej literaturze zob.: Górski 1986; Borkowska 1988.
13 W przedmowie do Katechizmu napisał: Potest et hodie Deus puellarum, ut olim, ingenia ad honestissima studia
litterarum excitare.
11
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pedagoga. Stąd też idea owego Katechizmu, dająca się streścić w dwóch słowach – modlitwa i
łacina.
Ambroży Moiban, erudyta, szkolony na autorach antycznych postanowił więc
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zamieścić w swym utworze modlitwy łacińskie dla pokazania młodym ludziom, czym jest
pobożność i dla kształcenia ich w umiejętności posługiwania się mową Rzymian. Z punktu
widzenia ówczesnych koncepcji edukacyjnych był to zamiar zrozumiały, chwalebny i ważki.
Jako poeta zasadniczo wcielił w swą sztukę to, co zaczerpnął z wersyfikacji antycznej –
dystych elegijny, a treścią swego wiersza uczynił Modlitwę Pańską – jeden z najsławniejszych
aktów kultu religijnego świata chrześcijańskiego:
O Pater omnipotens clarique habitator Olimpi,
Laudetur merito nomen honore tuum.
Adveniat regnum, tua sit rata ubique voluntas,
Fiat et in terra sicut in arce poli.
Da nobis hodie panem, et nos exime noxae,
Ut veniam nostris hostibus usque damus.
Nec sine tentando Stygius nos opprimat error,
Fac animas nostras ut mala nulla ligent14.
5
Elegia Moibana jest więc niewątpliwie przeróbką, parafrazą czy adaptacją modlitwy
Ojcze nasz. Czytelnik, gdy poznaje ów wiersz, musi być świadom tego odwołania, jest to
konieczny warunek właściwego rozumienia kompozycji. Ta wizja Modlitwy Pańskiej realizuje
się za pośrednictwem Ewangelii Mateusza15 i Łukasza16, która nieustannie daje o sobie znać
na przestrzeni całego wiersza. A więc w sferze apostrofy do Boga wyraża się w przywołaniu
prośby, by przyszło Jego królestwo (adveniat regnum), by Jego wola wszędzie się spełniała,
zarówno na ziemi, jak i w niebie (tua sit rata ubique voluntas, fiat et in terra sicut in arce poli).
„Ojcze wszechmogący, który zamieszkujesz sławny Olimp, niech imię twoje będzie pochwalone i należycie
uczczone, niech przyjdzie twoje królestwo, niech twoja wola wszędzie się spełnia, zarówno na ziemi, jak i w
niebie. Chleba nam dawaj każdego dnia i przebacz nam winy, (5) jak i my zawsze przebaczamy naszym
nieprzyjaciołom. Nie doświadczaj nas, nie dozwól, by nas opanował stygijski grzech, spraw, by nasze dusze nie
podlegały żadnej niegodziwości”. Autorem tłumaczeń tekstów zamieszczonych w tym artykule jest Robert K.
Zawadzki.
15 Mt, 6, 9 – 13.
16 Łk, 11, 2 – 4.
14
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Wypowiada się także w przypomnieniu chleba powszedniego (da nobis panem), przebaczeniu
win i w wołaniu o obronę przed pokusami. Nie sposób odmówić Moibanowi znakomitego
wyczucia filologicznego, które dociera do czytelnika zwłaszcza wtedy, gdy przypomni sobie
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oficjalną wersję Ojcze nasz. Zawarta jest w niej pewna charakterystyczna fraza stanowiąca
zresztą przedmiot sporów doktrynalnych począwszy od soboru florenckiego w 1441 roku.
Brzmi ona: nie wódź nas na pokuszenie (ne inducas nos in tentationem). Paradoksalny sens tej
wypowiedzi17 ujawnia się w tym choćby, że wyrażenie wodzić na pokuszenie wiąże się z
pojęciem dobrego Boga Ojca, z którym nie powinno występować. Cały ten zwrot ma bowiem
tę cechę, że odnosi się do działań szatańskich, bo przede wszystkim diabeł jest tym, który
wabi i mami człowieka złudą owocu zakazanego. Nic dziwnego więc, że na wspomnianym
soborze zaproponowano nowy wariant przekładu słynnego tekstu, podano wykładnię: nie
daj, abyśmy ulegli pokusie. I właśnie ten sens (nec sine…) Moiban w swym wierszu
wykorzystuje18. Dobroć Boga kojarzy się mu niewątpliwie z działalnością wymierzoną w
diabła, w żadnym wypadku nie zmierzającą do zguby człowieka. Tylko głębokie
średniowiecze lubujące się w wizjach piekła i wiecznego potępienia, nadawało na ogół Bogu
obraz surowego sędziego, czyhającego na upadek grzesznika, by go karać. Z tego punktu
widzenia przedstawiony Stwórca w wierszu Moibana ma charakter miłosierny. Wydaje się
więc, że poeta interesował się ówczesnymi sporami egzegetycznymi, zajmowały go właśnie
sensy ważnych fraz biblijnych. Sensy ujawniające się poprzez wnikliwą analizę filologiczną i
dociekania teologiczne.
Dla budowy wiersza ważne znaczenia mają też pewne sformułowania wywodzące
się bezpośrednio z literatury antycznej. Na przykład pojęcie Olimpu, który stanowił siedzibę
bogów, odnosi się oczywiście do chrześcijańskiego nieba, apeluje do wyobrażeń
wertykalnych: wysoka góra spowita gęstymi chmurami. Podobne starożytne asocjacje
zawarte są w wyrażeniu stygijski grzech, gdyż epitet stygijski wiąże się z mitologicznym
miejscem przebywania dusz zmarłych. Wydaje się, że sens powiedzenia sprowadza się do
tego: powinniśmy unikać stygijskiego grzechu, gdyż wiedzie on do śmierci. A zatem tę
chrześcijańską ideę znowu wyraża poeta w postaci pojęcia pochodzącego z kultury
antycznej. Mówiąc o różnego rodzaju religijnych kwestiach, dokonuje jakby przeniesienia
Zob. na ten temat: Komornicka 1992: 29 – 38.
Podobnym wyczuciem filologicznym cechuje się także Paweł z Krosna, który napisał parafrazę Modlitwy
Pańskim. Zob. Gorzkowski 2000: 223.
17
18
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terminów starożytnych na teren teologii, adaptuje pewien zespół wyrazów należących do
słownictwa Greków i Rzymian, które kojarzyły mu się z określonymi prawdami wiary. Był
Littera Antiqua
jeszcze w dalszej części niniejszego szkicu.
www.litant.eu
to zresztą typowy sposób postępowania wielu twórców renesansowych. Powiemy o nim
Powróćmy do kompozycji Moibana. Stanowi ona dla niego, jak już mówiliśmy,
modlitwę Ojcze nasz, dlatego tak dobitnie wypowiada swoje prośby do Boga. Stąd wielka
rola czasowników w drugiej osobie i w trybie rozkazującym (laudetur, adveniat, da, exime, sine,
fac). Czasowniki te, z których niektóre pochodzą z oficjalnej wersji Modlitwy Pańskiej, mówią
o emocjonalnym stosunku poety do owych ludzkich pragnień, zaspokojenia w Bogu
wszystkich ziemskich i niebieskich potrzeb, wyrażają ufność i poczucie bezpieczeństwa.
Poeta nie zachowuje jednak liczby owych próśb, których w tekście ewangelicznym
jest siedem, u niego zaś – osiem. Wynika to z tego, że dołączył jeszcze jedno
„nadprogramowe” wołanie: fac animas nostras ut mala nulla ligent. Stanowi ono ostatnią linijkę
wiersza. Sytuacja jest równocześnie dziwna i typowa: błaganie, by nasze dusze nie podlegały
żadnej niegodziwości jawi się jako rozwinięcie prośby o to, by nie opanował nas stygijski
grzech. Uzupełnienie to nosi w sobie znamiona pleonazmu i tautologii: wyraz malum znaczy
bowiem w tym kontekście to samo co error. Wydaje się jednak, że poeta świadomie
wprowadza owo zbędne zdanie. Dlaczego tak czyni? Otóż – tu Moiban dąży do nadania
swemu utworowi wymiaru ładu i harmonii. Ewangeliczna cyfra siedem nie nadawała się po
prostu do stworzenia dystychu. Każda elegia musi posiadać parzystą liczbę wersów.
Cechowały tego poetę wykształconego na literaturze antycznej umiłowanie rygorystycznych
zasad wersyfikacji starożytnej oraz zafascynowanie pięknem Modlitwy Pańskiej. Te dwie
tendencje mogły się wspólnie w wierszu zgodzić i funkcjonalnie wyrazić chyba jedynie w
ramach struktury poetyckiej liczącej co najmniej osiem wersów. To one właśnie stanowią
wymowną modlitwę parafrazującą biblijny tekst, ujętą w płynną melodię heksametrów i
pentametrów. One też świadczą niewątpliwie o artyzmie utworu, który został udanie
podporządkowany zasadom chrześcijańskiej teologii i wzorcom wersyfikacji klasycznej.
Autor Katechizmu zdawał więc sobie doskonale sprawę z tego, że teksty, jakie chciał
opublikować, powinny odznaczać się artyzmem, wiedział przy tym, iż dobre pisanie po
łacinie nie jest łatwe, iż stanowi specjalną umiejętność, którą zdobywa się przez wieloletnie
ćwiczenia, umiejętność, która zahacza o rozległe perspektywy literatury antycznej,
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umiejętność, której nie można sprowadzać jedynie do prostego przekładu i dosłownego
tłumaczenia słów. Co zatem jeszcze zrobił Moiban? Za dobry sposób do wykonania swego
zamysłu uznał posłużenie się wierszami innych wybitnych poetów swego czasu, którzy
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osiągnęli biegłość w pisaniu po łacinie, porównywalną z mistrzostwem pisarzy rzymskich.
Zyskiwał w ten sposób pewność, że wydrukowane utwory nie będą zawierały żadnych
błędów i uchybień, skoro stworzone zostały przez uznawane autorytety. Włączył więc do
swego dzieła modlitewne wiersze Wawrzyńca Korwina (1465 – 1527)19, Joannesa Stigeliusa
(Johann Stigel, 1515 – 1562)20 i Joachima Camerariusa (Joachim Kammermeister, 1500 –
1574)21 - znanych ówcześnie poetów i prozaików. W rezultacie stał się Katechizm czymś w
rodzaju antologii zawierającej Psalmy Starego Testamentu oraz utwory pięciu autorów (łącznie
z wypowiedziami F. Melanchtona), powiązane wspólną tematyką nabożną. Ich pacierze,
świątobliwie refleksje mogły być punktem wyjścia do akcji wychowawczej i dydaktycznej w
praktyce szkolnej.
Akcji tej przyjrzymy się analizując tylko niektóre, dalsze kompozycje poetyckie.
Wskażemy tu na wiersze, które ze wszystkich religijnych konstatacji, zamieszczonych w
Katechizmie, najbardziej odnoszą się do zwykłych i powszednich czynności ludzkich, do
działań, jakie każdy człowiek codziennie podejmuje. Utwory te to właśnie elegie22 Joannesa
Stigeliusa i Joachima Camerariusa, niemieckich humanistów, którzy sprawie luteranizmu
oddani byli nie mniej niż Moiban i którzy w swojej pracy pisarskiej nigdy nie rezygnowali z
efektownej, artystycznej formy – formy poezji rzymskiej.
Johannes Stigelius, podobnie zresztą jak inni pisarze chrześcijańscy, uważał, że
człowiek powinien już od samego rana modlić się do Boga, że powinien zwracać się do
Stwórcy, gdy tylko otworzy oczy po nocnym odpoczynku. Specjalnie zaś wzniosłą formą
zwracania się do Boga, jest hymn. I taki utwór Stigelius napisał. Poeta zdawał sobie sprawę z
konieczności wprowadzenia do niego pewnej treści ideowo – teologicznej. Starał się te
wymogi spełnić. Posługuje się więc pobożnymi apostrofami, zamieszcza wypowiedzi w
pierwszej osobie liczby pojedynczej, nawiązuje do opowieści biblijnych, interpretuje niejako
O Wawrzyńcu Korwinie zob. Zawadzki 2013.
O Joannesie Stigeliusie zob.: Koch 1939.
21 O Joachimie Camerariusie zob.: Stählin 1957: 104.
22 Elegia jako gatunek bardzo pojemny służyła również do wyrażania treści religijnych, obejmowała hymny i
modlitwy. W poezji greckiej takie utwory pisał np. Kallimach z Cyreny, w rzymskiej zaś Propercjusz.
19
20
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prawdy wiary. To wszystko służy jednemu celowi, jednemu zamierzeniu, jakim były
Littera Antiqua
Conditor o rerum, rerum servator ab aevo,
Extra quem non est ullus ubique deus,
Quod redeunte fruar post actas luce tenebras,
Gaudeo et agnosco munus id esse tuum.
Tu genus humanum primum sine labe creasti,
5
Ut sancte vultus viveret ante tuos.
Quam male descivit, quam turpiter excidit illud,
In mortem propria dum levitate ruit.
At bonus es solus, iustamque ut concipis iram,
Sic illam patria pro pietate premis.
10
Ergo admiranda natum pietate dedisti,
Innocuus nostrum ferret ut ille scelus.
Qui percussa fuit pro nostra victima culpa,
Et vetus a nobis abluit omne nefas.
Ingentes igitur toto tibi pectore grates,
15
Perpetuus doni debitor huius ago
Teque precor supplex dilecti nomine nati,
Me rege, me totum numine flecte tuo.
Auspice principium te spectet et auspice finem,
Quidquid agam, vitae dirige coepta meae.
20
Ipse magistratus etiam coetusque piorum,
Ut tua conservent dogmata sancta, rege.
Da pacem victumque tuis, compesce tyrannos,
Ut maneat verbi gloria iusta tui.
Hac ego spe fretus, quod vitae postulat usus,
25
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niewątpliwie uwielbienie Boga i prośba skierowana do Niego:
Suscepti aggredior dulce laboris onus23.
„Stwórco świata, odwieczny Zbawicielu świata, Ty, poza którym nie ma nigdzie jakiegokolwiek innego Boga,
raduję się, że minęły nocne ciemności i mogę korzystać z nadchodzącego dnia i dziękować Ci za ten Twój dar. Ty
23
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Przedmiotem artystycznej wizji w tym wierszu jest postawa modlitewna, wobec
której poeta miał perspektywę osobistą, intymną perspektywę adoracji, wdzięczności i
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wołania. Dać wizję dobroci Boga, który jest jeden, wizję, która pokazuje skruszoną postawę
człowieka, powierzającego się z ufnością boskiej opatrzności – to rzecz wielokrotnie przez
literaturę się przewijająca, a w czasach ówczesnych, gdy sprawy religijne były szczególnie
aktualne – wręcz wydaje się standardowa i typowa. Niemniej elegia Stigeliusa, który w
sposób świadomy pokusił się o połączenie znanego motywu ze wzniosłą formą artystyczną i
własnym, żarliwym uczuciem religijnym, stała się w istocie dziełem ambitnym i świeżym.
Wtopił on osobistą wizję modlitwy w przeplatające się nawzajem heksametry i pentametry i
sprostał z pewnością literackim, wychowawczym wymaganiom tematu.
Pokazuje więc Stigelius, jak powinna wyglądać modlitwa poranna (oratio cubitu
surgentis). Rozwija motyw dobroci i wszechmocy Boga, wyciąga z niego konsekwencje,
wprowadza obraz stworzenia człowieka i wątek pasyjny, których źródło tkwi w Biblii,
wyzyskując jako podstawę nastrój poranny, układa prośby mające oddać stan psychiczny
człowieka, który stojąc u progu nowego dnia, nie wie jeszcze, co może go spotkać. Jakaś to
próba wejścia w położenie kogoś, kto mając rozpocząć dzieło codzienności, niepokoi się
nieznanym, świadectwo twórczego, nie naśladowczego nastawienia poety wobec wzorów
antycznych – nastawienia, które pomimo starożytnego aparatu wersyfikacyjnego i
leksykalnego, nie pozwala uznać Stigeliusa za bezkrytycznego imitatora twórców
rzymskich. Sugestywnie ujmuje w słowa błagania pokornego sługi Chrystusa o
błogosławieństwo, o pokój na świecie i sprawiedliwość, przekonywująco odmalowuje
postawę ludzkiej ufności, mającej źródło w wierze w ojcowską miłość Boga, lecz oczywiście,
jak już sugerowaliśmy, nie należy ani na chwilę zapominać, że w istocie są to motywy i
stworzyłeś rodzaj ludzki, który na początku (5) nie miał ułomności. Chciałeś, by żył święcie przed Twoim
obliczem, lecz on się Tobie sprzeniewierzył, jakże haniebnie upadł, gdy doświadczył śmierci przez własną
lekkomyślność. Ale Ty jeden jesteś dobry i jak rozpaliłeś w sobie słuszny gniew, tak z ojcowskiej miłości
uśmierzyłeś (10) go. A zatem powodowany przedziwną miłością, dałeś Syna, by On, który był niewinny, poniósł
nasze grzechy. Ten został przebity za nasze winy, stał się ofiarą i zmył z nas wszystkie dawne występki. Przeto ja
– twój dłużnik wieczny, ogromne dzięki Ci składem, (15) z całego serca za tak wielki dar. Ciebie kornie proszę w
imię umiłowanego Syna, kieruj mną, rozporządzaj mną zupełnie zgodnie ze swoją wolą. Cokolwiek zaczynam,
cokolwiek kończę, cokolwiek czynię, Ty bądź moim doradcą, Ty kieruj (20) moimi przedsięwzięciami. Króluj nad
władzami państwa i zgromadzeniem sprawiedliwych, by zachowywali Twoje święte prawa. Daj pokój i chleb
Twoim czcicielom, pohamuj tyranów, by chwała Twego sprawiedliwego słowa trwała. Z tą nadzieją i ufnością
podejmuję słodki ciężar (25) obowiązków zgodnie z tym, co nakazuje codzienność życia”.
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tematy, choć w świadomości poety przeżywane szczerze i autentycznie – tradycyjne i
konwencjonalne. Nie trzeba mieć do niego o to pretensji, przeciwnie można pochwalić go za
próbę wprowadzenia do utworu pewnej liryczności, naturalnej religijnej uczuciowości.
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Chrześcijańskie przesłanie swojego wiersza podkreśla Stigelius tak mocno, że pisze
go językiem pozbawionym w zasadzie jakichkolwiek nazw i terminów pogańskich24. A
musimy jeszcze raz przypomnieć, iż w renesansie ówcześni pisarze otwierali w swojej
twórczości rozległe pole dla bóstw i pojęć religii Greków i Rzymian, choć zarazem
dokonywali specjalnej chrystianizacji tych kategorii. Jeśli więc mówili Iuppiter czy Olympus –
myśleli po prostu o Bogu i niebie, do którego dążyli, Nympha Palestina25 - to dla nich Maryja –
Matka Jezusa, donum Cereris – to chleb eucharystyczny, pokarm na życie wieczne, Ereb,
Avernus i Acheront – to piekło. Tymczasem w utworze Stigeliusa brakuje nie tylko słów
bałwochwalczych, ale w ogóle jakichkolwiek, schrystianizowanych nawet nazw, należących
do świata starożytnych wierzeń. Język, jakim posługuje się Stigelius, to język par excellence
chrześcijański, podniosły, czasem nieco średniowieczny, zawsze jednak „klasyczny”,
bezbłędny, zgodny całkowicie z leksyką łacińską. Gdy więc poeta nazywa Boga conditor
rerum i servator, to jasne jest, że używa tu słów klasycznych, że z ich pomocą chce wyrazić
moc stwórczą i zbawczą Boga, że o żadnym innym budowniczym i strażniku tak by nie
napisał. Ta jednolitość języka sankcjonująca niejako klasyczną formę wiersza, jeszcze
bardziej, obok walorów artystycznych utworu, świadczy o jego dydaktycznym i
wychowawczym przeznaczeniu. Pobożny temat, pięknie skonstruowana forma metryczna,
prosty i wdzięczny styl uczyły czytelnika, jak się modlić i pisać po łacinie, jest to bowiem
raczej wiersz popisowy niż teologiczny – stąd też nie znajdziemy w nim wypowiedzi
odnoszących się bezpośrednio do nowych form religijności, czego spodziewalibyśmy się po
utworze napisanym przez luteranina. W istocie Stigelius nawiązuje do prawd wiary
akceptowanych przez ogół chrześcijan.
To samo zresztą można by powiedzieć o drugim wierszu Stigeliusa, stanowiącym
modlitwę wieczorną (oratio cubitum euntis). Niewątpliwie jest między tymi utworami,
pomimo skrajnego przeciwieństwa czasowego odmawiania tych pacierzy, jakiś pomost,
jakaś wspólność, czy to w żarliwości i uczuciowości prostego i średniowiecznego trochę,
O stosowaniu w poezji religijnej pojęć pogańskiego antyku pisze Stawecka 1964. O tych tendencjach pisze też
Gorzkowski 2000: 218 – 225.
25Stawecka 1964: 56.
24
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choć w istocie klasycznego języka, czy w nastroju i apostrofach, może w pełnej ufności i
dziękczynienia postawie wobec Boga, a może w owym braku wyraźnych luterańskich
Iam mea declino nocturio lumina somno,
Omnia mox Brigido membra sopore premar.
Nec scio, num possim redituram cernere Lucem,
An mihi sit somni mors obeunda soror.
Sed tibi, summe Deus, Deus invictissime grates,
5
Quas toto possum pectore, gratus ago.
Incolumem qui me voluisti hac luce tueri,
Ne vitam premerent ulla pericla meam.
Quique repressisti grassantis daemonis iram,
Qui rabido populos circuit ore tuos.
Nunc quoque dum iaceo veluti morientis imago,
Mi Deus, haec nutu membra tuere tuo26.
10
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akcentów. W każdym razie podobieństwo jest niewątpliwie wyraźne:
Osobisty i szczery wiersz, rejestrujący słowa udającego się na spoczynek człowieka
pobożnego, ma charakter wizji ludzkiego życia, pobudza do refleksji nad śmiercią,
zestawioną tu ze snem. Elegia o modlitwie wieczornej niesie w pewnym stopniu przesłanie
egzystencjalne. Dzieje się to oczywiście z powodu zamierzonej przez poetę tendencji, który
przez paralelę końca dnia przypomniał o kresie każdego człowieka. Liryczność elegii
przedstawiającej przepojone dziecięcą ufnością słowa modlącego się człowieka, podkreśla
dobroć Boga, który otacza opieką swoich wyznawców. Oczywiście, można pod adresem
Stigeliusa formułować pewne zastrzeżenia – przede wszystkim znowu nie ma u niego
motywów czysto oryginalnych. Rzecz w tym, że poprzez artystycznie skomponowane
heksametry i pentametry wypowiadał tylko myśli proste, tezy w jakimś stopniu sloganowe,
„Już oczy mi się zamykają, ogarnia mnie nocna senność, wkrótce wszystkie członki pogrążą się w twardym
śnie. Nie wiem, czy będę mógł ujrzeć światło jutrzejszego dnia, czy też doświadczę śmierci, która jest siostrą snu.
Lecz Tobie, najwyższy Boże, Boże niezwyciężony (5) składam dzięki z wdzięcznością, z głębi serca, jak potrafię.
Ty raczyłeś strzec mnie tego dnia, jestem bez szwanku, żadne niebezpieczeństwo nie zagroziło mojemu życiu. Ty
uśmierzyłeś gniew straszliwego diabła, który zewsząd wściekłą paszczą atakuje twoje narody. (10) Tak i teraz,
gdy leżę niczym jakiś umarły, strzeż, mój Boże, swoją wolą te oto członki”.
26
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uczuciowe intensywne, ale intelektualnie uproszczone, znane już każdemu chrześcijaninowi.
Czysta, zdyscyplinowana forma metryczna, nieskomplikowana teologicznie treść czyniły z
modlitwy utwór łatwy do zapamiętania. Mnemotechniczny wymiar wiersza był wynikiem
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przeszczepienia w dziedzinę poezji użyteczności i praktyczności – wszak poetyckie pacierze
wykorzystywali w szkołach nauczyciele i uczniowie. Ułatwia zapamiętanie krótka forma
utworu. Ważną rolę pełni także wyliczanie, w którym pojawiają się słowa skierowane do
Boga: Tibi grates, qui voluisti, quique repressisti – przypominające suplikacje. Znalazły się one
w modlitwie całkowicie zgodnie z jej naturą, bowiem modlitwa nigdy nie unikała tych
zjawisk, którym blisko do liturgiczności, do obrzędu religijnego. Ta liturgiczność realizuje się
także za pośrednictwem pewnych wyrażeń zaczerpniętych z języka nabożeństw. A więc w
sferze motywu potęgi Boga wyraża się w przypomnieniu, że poskramia On diabła, o którym
mówi się jako o demonie atakującym wściekłą paszczą ludy ziemi. Nie kłóci się to oczywiście
z właściwościami modlitwy, jej uznanym prawem było przenoszenie sformułowań
obrzędowych do wypowiedzi podmiotu lirycznego, szukanie inspiracji w różnych
wzniosłych formach literackich.
Aby jeszcze lepiej uświadomić sobie owe tendencje dostojeństwa i swoistej
strzelistości modlitwy, warto sięgnąć do bardzo charakterystycznego utworu – będzie nim z
kolei Precatio matutina Joachima Camerariusa, godzi się rozważyć stosunek jej do omówionej
wyżej modlitwy porannej Stigeliusa:
Nunc iterum nos iucundam das cernere lucem,
Eque, Pater, tenebris, sancte, videre diem.
Nox abiit, splendor circum se tollit Olympum,
Stellaque vicini praevia lucis adest.
Et nunc rara nitent, phoebea lampade pulsa,
5
Quaeque nitent, modicum sidera lumen habent.
Iam nos e stratis excivit mollibus ales,
Quae tacitum nullum tempus abire sinit.
Ergo ad consuetas operas studiumque redimus,
Nostraque iam recipit pensa diurna manus.
O Pater, usque tua praesens ope sancta guberna,
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Quod sumus, et quod mox aggrediemur opus.
Et fac ingressum nos sic decurrere solem,
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Laudis uti simus pars quotacumque tuae27.
Obie elegie mają ten sam temat – prośbę do Boga o błogosławieństwo na cały
rozpoczynający się dzień, lecz różnica stosunku do przedstawienia porannej atmosfery jest
wyraźna. Camerarius swój wysiłek poetycki zaprzęga najpierw do czynności opisowej,
celem jego pracy jest zbudowanie wizji plastycznej, utrzymanej w kategoriach nastrojowości.
Rezultat jest niewątpliwie sugestywny – wizja jest jednolita, wspaniale skonstruowana,
oddziałuje na wyobraźnię – brzask (lux), dzień wyłaniający się z ciemności (e tenebris dies),
blask wokół szczytu Olimpu (splendor circum Olympum), błysk gwiazdy porannej (stella lucis),
niknące gwiazdy gaszone promieniami Feba, pianie koguta. Lecz jest to nie tylko wizja –
pokazuje ona wielkość i dobroć Boga – już w pierwszym zdaniu opisu odnaleźć można Jego
epitet, wymowne określenie, które najlepiej i zarazem najprościej wyraża, czym jest Stwórca
dla swoich stworzeń – Pater. Ideowa, modlitewna strona wiersza jest w stosunku do jego
artystycznej narracyjności z oczywistych względów dominująca. Jest to dominacja
świadoma, wynikająca z poetyki utworu religijnego. Oto kwintesencja pobożna elegii,
wypowiedziana w dwóch ostatnich wersach: spraw, by ten wschodzący dzień tak nam minął,
byśmy choć trochę chwały Twojej zyskali. Oto wszystko – również i ten poeta w swoim
zwracaniu się do Boga nie silił się na oryginalność, nie starał się, by w imię humanizmu
rozerwać więzy sztywnych formułek i powiedzieć coś więcej. Można się oczywiście
zastanawiać, czy zdołałby w przedstawionej sytuacji wymyśleć coś oryginalnego. Niemniej
przytoczone słowa brzmią stereotypowo jak prefacja liturgiczna – przypominają pacierz
księdza odprawiającego nabożeństwo.
Wskazana konwencjonalność w zwracaniu się do Boga nie znaczy jednak, że Precatio
matutina nie jest wierszem ciekawym. Przeciwnie, potrafi zainteresować czytelnika
„Ponownie, Ojcze święty, pozwalasz nam ujrzeć przyjemny brzask, zobaczyć dzień wyłaniający się z ciemności.
Noc się kończy, wokół szczytu Olimpu podnosi się blask, błyska gwiazda zaranna zapowiadająca i poprzedzająca
dzień. Już nieliczne gwiazdy jaśnieją, gaszone promieniami (5) Feba, a te, które błyszczą, wysyłają blade światło.
Już wyrywa nas z miękkiego posłania piejący kogut, który nigdy nie pozwala, by w milczeniu mijał czas. Przeto
przystępujemy do codziennych prac i zajęć, już przykładamy rękę do zwykłych obowiązków. (10) Ojcze, swoją
świętą obecnością i pomocą kieruj tym, czym jesteśmy, każdą pracą, którą wkrótce podejmiemy. Spraw, by ten
wschodzący dzień tak nam minął, byśmy choć trochę chwały Twojej zyskali”.
27
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ekspresywnymi motywami. Poprzez wprowadzenie elementów opisowych świadczących o
pięknie świata stworzonego przez Boga, Camerarius zaproponował obrazową postać
modlitwy. Jeszcze jedno: ta elegia, w której Boga nazywa się Ojcem, niesie w sobie wyraziste
człowiekiem istnieje więź bliska, chciałoby się rzec – rodzinna.
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przesłanie teologiczne sprowadzające się do tezy, iż między Stwórcą a śmiertelnym
I właśnie w tych dwóch aspektach ujawnia się pewien kontrast z omówionym
wcześniej wierszem Stigeliusa. W przeciwieństwie do Camerariusa, jest on poetą, u którego
element wizualny został ograniczony do najkonieczniejszego minimum relacji o mijających
nocnych ciemnościach. Ale za to ambicja kaznodziejska przyświecała tej elegii: ambicja
wejścia w głębsze problemy teologiczne, przypominania, na czym polegał fenomen
odkupienia człowieka przez Chrystusa.
Podobnymi właściwościami, jak już mówiliśmy, odznaczała się także jego modlitwa
wieczorna. Obserwujemy u tego poety tendencję wkraczania na teren stanowiący domenę
pogłębionych rozważań teologicznych. Nie ukrywał, że względy ideowe uważał w
modlitwie za ważniejsze od czysto opisowych. Modlitwa miała być formą służącą do
wyrażania istotnych przymiotów Boga. Stąd też, szukał bardziej dla intelektu dogodnego
sposobu zwracania się do Stwórcy. I znalazł odpowiednie pojęcie, jakim było słowo Deus.
Bóg jest więc u Stigeliusa przede wszystkim Absolutem, kimś bardzo odległym, pomiędzy
Nim a człowiekiem zaznacza się ogromny dystans.
Inaczej, jak pamiętamy, postępuje Camerarius. Zauważyć można u niego odwrót od
skonwencjonalizowanego wyrazu Deus na rzecz bardziej bezpośredniego Pater. Ta skłonność
objawia się także w modlitwie wieczornej (precatio vespertina), jaką napisał:
Iam Phaetontaeos ignes pepulere tenebrae,
Fumantesque egit sub mare Phoebus equos.
Umbrae iam faciunt aequalia cuncta videri,
Omnibus in rebus cum color unus inest.
Ibimus hinc solito capturi tempore somnum,
Ut renovet dulcis longuiola membra quies.
O Pater, hanc noctem, ne quo perdamur ab hoste,
Auxilio firma, praesidioque tuo.
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Cumque sopor fessos studiis recreaverit artus,
Lumina da laetum cernere nostra diem.
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Sive die iussum perficiemus opus.
Esse tuos semper facias, semperque manere,
Haec, Pater, est nostrae summa caputque precis28.
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Atque ita seu capient nocturnam membra quietem,
Wiersz ten kreśli zatem zarysy postawy humanistycznej twórcy. Przypomina
poprzednio omówioną modlitwę poranną swą narracyjnością i równocześnie wnikliwemu
czytelnikowi z miejsca rzucają się w oczy typowe „klasyczne’ ujęcie modlitewne tematu z
konkretną metaforą odnoszącą się do świata wyobrażeń starożytnych. Niewątpliwie ożywia
tu Camerarius topos Feba i jego syna Faetona, obraz tych bóstw, z których pierwszy
odprowadza spienione konie za morski horyzont, jest poetyckim wariantem przedstawienia
zapadającej nocy. Ten artystyczny chwyt nawiązujący do poetyki antycznych wierszy, służy
nie tyle opisowi nadchodzącego zmierzchu, ile kreacji owej szczególnej atmosfery wieczoru.
Tworzy nastrój, z którego rodzi się modlitwa dziękczynienia, uwielbienia i ufności.
Zaprezentowane w niniejszym artykule utwory pozwalają zorientować się w
głównych tendencjach estetycznych poezji modlitewnej XVI wieku. Tej poezji, którą uważa
się za zjawisko renesansowe, zjawisko, które pojawiło się zarazem jako wynik ruchów
reformatorskich. Na kształt tej poezji wywarła wpływ w dużej mierze literatura antyczna.
Ona przyniosła w wielu wypadkach cechy wspólne w widzeniu świata i warsztacie
artystycznym. Do nich należy m.in. fakt, iż modlitwy pisano prawie wyłącznie w miarach
metrycznych wywodzących się z poezji Greków i Rzymian. Twórcy renesansowi, tacy jak
Moiban, Stigelius, Camerarius wzorowali się więc niewątpliwie na autorach antycznych.
Reprezentowali w zasadzie ten sam język poezji, używali na ogół tradycyjnych chwytów i
środków stylistycznych. Ale jednocześnie mieli oczywiście chrześcijańskie widzenie świata,
„Już ciemności pochłaniają Faetoński blask, a Feb spienione konie odprowadza za morski horyzont. Mrok
sprawia, że wszystko jednakowo wygląda, wszystkie rzeczy zyskują jedną barwę. Pójdziemy więc o zwykłym
czasie na nocny spoczynek, (5) by słodki sen wzmocnił zmęczone członki. Ojcze, strzeż tę noc swoją opieką i
niechybną pomocą, by żaden wróg nam nie zaszkodził. Gdy sen odnowi zmęczone zajęciami członki, spraw,
byśmy na własne oczy ujrzeli radosny dzień. (10) Jak bowiem w nocy wypoczywamy, tak za dnia będziemy
wykonywali zlecone obowiązki. Spraw, byśmy twoimi byli i takimi pozostali na zawsze. Oto jest, Ojcze, istota i
sens naszej modlitwy”.
28
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inne upodobania tematyczne, posługiwali się obrazami wziętymi ze Starego i Nowego
Testamentu, poruszali kwestie teologiczne. Nie atakowali poza tym katolików. W
porównaniu z późniejszymi działaczami reformacji, zwłaszcza z kalwinami, reprezentowali
www.litant.eu
Littera Antiqua
stanowisko umiarkowane, bezkonfliktowe. Z punktu widzenia bowiem przyszłych
gwałtownych sporów i wojen religijnych przedział między nimi a Kościołem rzymskim był
w istocie niezauważalny (chodzi, rzecz jasna, o wypowiedzi poetyckie). Tylko przy
uporczywej analizie literackiej można dopatrzeć się pewnych różnic. Dostrzegamy na
przykład brak jakichkolwiek motywów
maryjnych29.
Niemniej
musimy
od
razu
przypomnieć, że również nie każdy pisarz katolicki takie tematy poruszał, z czego nie
wynika, iż był mniej ortodoksyjny. W aspektach poetyckich i ideowych różnice między
naszymi autorami a pisarzami katolickimi ulegają zatarciu. Wiersze Moibana, Stigeliusa i
Camerariusa kontynuując w zasadzie teologię chrześcijańską podejmują wykład i
interpretację prawd wiary, jakie istniały od zawsze w Kościele założonym przez Chrystusa.
Te elegie w całości wydają się być mało luterańskie, gdyż skłonne są do wykorzystywania
tradycyjnych wątków pasyjnych i obrazów dobrego i miłosiernego Boga, którego określa się
też mianem Ojca. Poeci wskazują więc czytelnikowi, jaką powinien mieć postawę do swego
Stwórcy, jak powinien się do Niego zwracać. Otóż właśnie rzecz w tym, że Moiban, Stigelius
i Camerarius nie epatują nas samą tylko pobożnością, nie to było ich jedynym celem. Ich cel –
to także przedstawienie mechanizmu modlitwy i oddanie nastroju, jaka ona budzi. A więc
po prostu: nauczyć czytelnika modlitwy. Ten aspekt ich wierszy aktualny jest i dziś.
BIBLIOGRAFIA
Literatura podmiotowa
Moibanus A. 1544: Catechismi Capita Decem, Wrocław, Biblioteka Uniwersytetu
Wrocławskiego, nr sig.: 310372.
Literatura przedmiotowa
Aumann J. 1993: Zarys historii duchowości, Kielce.
Motywy te były niezwykle popularne w literaturze dawnych wieków. Zob. na ten temat: S. Sawicki, Motywy
maryjne w poezji średniowiecza i renesansu, w: tenże, Z pogranicza literatury i religii, Lublin 1978.
29
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
Borkowska U. 1988: Królewskie modlitewniki. Studium z kultury religijnej epoki Jagiellonów
(XV i początek XVI w.), Lublin.
Littera Antiqua
klasycznej edukacji w gimnazjach XVI-XVIII wieku (na przykładzie Śląska), Częstochowa.
Dola K. 1996: Dzieje Kościoła na Śląsku, Opole.
www.litant.eu
Budzyński J. 2003: Paideia humanistyczna, czyli wychowanie do kultury. Studium z dziejów
Domański J. 1973: Erazm i filozofia. Studium o koncepcji filozofii Erazma z Rotterdamu,
Wrocław.
Dyba M. 1991: Drogi Ślązaków do wiedzy (XII w. – 1968), Katowice.
Dziechcińka H. 1972: Parenetyka – jej tradycje i znaczenie w literaturze, in: Pelc J. (ed.):
Problemy literatury staropolskiej, 1 vol., Wocław.
Fulińka A. 2000: Naśladowanie i twórczość. Renesansowe teorie imitacji, emulacji i przekładu,
Wrocław.
Gorzkowski A. 2000: Paweł z Krosna. Humanistyczne peregrynacje krakowskiego profesora,
Kraków.
Górski K. 1986: Zarys dziejów duchowości w Polsce, Kraków.
Górski T.P. 2002: Biblijna antropologia modlitwy. Pater noster jako intertekst, in:
Chruszczewski P.P. (ed.): Perspektywy dyskursu religijnego czyli przyjęcie Kaina, Język a
Komunikacja, 5 – 2 vol., Kraków.
Jaskóła P. 2011: Protestantyzm w kulturze Śląska, in: „Roczniki Teologii Ekumenicznej”,
3(58) vol.
Koch H. 1939: Johann Stigel, Jena.
Komornicka A.M. 1992: Biblia a sztuka przekładu i interpretacji. „Modlitwa Pańska” (Mt. 6,
9 – 13), in: Biblia a kultura Europy, 1 vol. Wyd. UŁ, Łódź.
McGrath A. 1988: Reformation Thought. An Introduction, Oxford 1988.
Michałowska T. 1974, Staropolska teoria genologiczna, Wrocław.
Otwinowska B. 1967 a: Imitacja – eklektyzm – spontaniczność, „Studia Estetyczne” 4, 25 –
28.
Otwinowska B. 1967 b: Modele i style prozy w dyskusjach na przełomie XVI i XVII wieku.
(Wokół toruńskiej rozprawy Fabrycjusza z 1619r.), Wrocław.
Otwinowska B. 1973 a: Imitacja, in: Pelc J. (ed.): Problemy literatury staropolskiej, 2 vol.,
Wrocław.
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Otwinowska B. 1973 b: Od „maniery” do „stylu”. Paragon sztuki i literatury, in:
Michałowska T. (ed.): Estetyka – poetyka – literatura, 96 – 114.
Littera Antiqua
(ADB), 22 vol., Leipzig.
Stählin F. 1957: Camerarius Joachim, in: Neue Deutsche Biographie, 3 vol., Berlin.
www.litant.eu
Schimmelpfenning A. 1885, Moibanus Ambrosius, in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie
Stawecka K. 1964: Religijna poezja łacińska XVI wieku w Polsce. Zagadnienia wybrane,
Lublin.
Szczepankiewicz – Battek J. 1996: Protestantyzm na Śląsku, Wrocław.
Tatarkiewicz T. 1975: Dzieje sześciu pojęć, Warszawa.
Todd J.M. 1974: Reformacja, Warszawa.
Williams G.H. 1962: The Radical Reformation, Philadelphia.
Zawadzki R.K. 2012: Wawrzyniec Korwin – życie i twórczość renesansowego humanisty
(studium, tekst łaciński, komentarz i przekład), Częstochowa.
The Renaissance piety i.d. precationes quotidianae (based on Catechismi Capita Decem of
Ambrosius Moibanus and elegies by Ioannes Stigelius and Joachimus Camerarius )
(Summary)
Latin elegiac prayers, written by Renaissance poets – Ambrosius Moibanus, Ioannes
Stigelius and Joachimus Camerarius, are analysed. Comparing images of the poetic world
presented in the works of the said writers the author shows their religious attitude towards
God. The vision of his goodness and mercies, created in the Moiban`s, Stigelius` and
Camerarius` poems, is well fitted in Christian theology of the Catholic and Lutheran church,
whereas the language of art and the tendency to insert ancient reminiscences displayed by
the poets serve well educational purposes and make this poetry more useful to applying in
contemporary schools.
SŁOWA KLUCZOWE: Renesans; literatura nowołacińska; modlitwa; pobożność
KEYWORDS: Renaissance; Neo – Latin literature; prayer; piety
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Robert Krzysztof Zawadzki, prof., e-mail: [email protected]; Instytut Filologii
Polskiej Akademii im. Jana Długosza w Częstochowie; zainteresowania: literatura
Littera Antiqua
www.litant.eu
staropolska, literatura nowołacińska.
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„Littera Antiqua” 9 (2014)
Recenzja: ks. Dariusz Piasecki, Centony Homeryckie. Spotkanie tradycji pogańskiej
www.litant.eu
z chrześcijańską, Scriptum, Kraków 2014. ss. 150
Littera Antiqua
Książka Dariusza Piaseckiego pt. Centony Homeryckie. Spotkanie tradycji pogańskiej z
chrześcijańską (Scriptum, Karków 2014, ss. 150) jest pierwszą polską monografią poświęconą
w całości centonom homeryckim. Również w literaturze światowej niewiele jest publikacji
podejmujących tę tematykę, co jest związane z faktem, że stosunkowo niedawno pojawiły się
wydania krytyczne centonów homeryckich (A.L. Rey, M.D. Usher, R. Schembra). Obszar
badań jest jeszcze w niewielkim stopniu eksplorowany. Dlatego cieszy fakt, ż e na gruncie
polskim są podejmowane tego typu badania.
Autor przeanalizował drugi co do długości manuskrypt centonów homeryckich o
długości 1948 wersetów. Niestety brak jest w monografii uzasadnienia, dlaczego nie
przebadano najdłuższego manuskryptu (2354 wersety). Można się jedynie domyślać, ż e
Piasecki wybrał manuskrypt, który jest treściowo najbliższy Biblii. Taki wybór pozwolił
Autorowi poddać analizom dodatkowe dwanaście biblijnych perykop, których brak jest
zarówno w najdłuższej Conscriptio Prima, jak i w pozostałych trzech wydanych krytycznie
przez Schembrę (Homerocentones, Turnhout 2007) manuskryptach: Conscriptio A, Conscriptio
B, Conscriptio G. Analizowana przez Autora Conscriptio Secunda zawiera bowiem dodatkowo
opis kuszenia Jezusa, o wiele bardziej rozbudowaną niż w innych manuskryptach sekcję
traktującą o cudach Jezusa, opis Jego Przemienienia, a także informację o wyrzuceniu
kupców ze świątyni.
We wstępie Piasecki wyjaśnia pochodzenie terminu „centon” i krótko omawia
tematykę centonów homeryckich. Autor jasno precyzuje cel swojej monografii, którym jest
odpowiedź na pytanie, w jakiej mierze centony są miejscem spotkania poematów Homera z
tradycją chrześcijańską. Nie wdaje się w bardzo trudne i zawikłane kwestie zarówno
autorstwa, jak i datacji utworów.
Monografia składa się z trzech rozdziałów. Pierwszy podejmuje zagadnienia
leksykalne, drugi strukturalne, a trzeci koncentruje się na aspektach treściowych. Struktura
książki jest zatem spójna i logiczna. W pierwszym rozdziale Piasecki analizuje pojawiające
się w centonach nazwy własne oraz epitety. Tych pierwszych jest około pięćdziesiąt. Wśród
nich są zarówno wprowadzone przez autora centonów nazwy chrześcijańskie (Jezus,
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Maryja, Piotr, Paweł), pozostawione terminy homeryckie, którym nadano znaczenie
symboliczne (Hades, Tartar), jak i pojęcia nieobecne ani w Biblii ani w poematach
www.litant.eu
homeryckich (Auzończycy). Nazw własnych jest stosunkowo niewiele z tej racji, że Biblia i
Littera Antiqua
poematy homeryckie powstawały w odmiennych kręgach kulturowych. W centonach
spotykamy za to wiele zaimków osobowych, co sprawia, że niejednokrotnie trzeba się
domyślać, o kogo chodzi. Wydaje się, że lektura centonów była zrozumiała jedynie dla
czytelnika
znającego
Biblię.
Piasecki
podejmuje
w
tym
usystematyzowania ponad tysiąca epitetów obecnych w centonach.
rozdziale
także
próbę
Druga część monografii koncentruje się na aspektach strukturalnych. Tu Autorowi
udaje się dostrzec odmienność centonów homeryckich od centonów niechrześcijańskich. Te
pierwsze bowiem przywiązują większą wagę do treści, podczas gdy te drugie poświęcają
więcej uwagi aspektom formalnym. Dlatego Piasecki odnotowuje w centonach homeryckich
liczne dojady, a nawet powtórzenia kolejnych dwunastu wersów z poematów Homera, a
zatem zjawiska nietypowe z punktu widzenia starożytnych zasad konstruowania centonów.
Ten rozdział zawiera również analizy porównań, opisów, monologów, dialogów i
elementów rozpoznania.
Ostatni rozdział poświęcony jest kwestiom treściowym. Autor prezentuje w nim
zarówno źródła, z których korzystał centonista (Biblia, apokryfy, materiał własny), jak i
wyłaniający się z centonów obraz Boga, Jezusa Chrystusa, Maryi i apostołów. Na szczególną
uwagę zasługuje tu tabela prezentująca podobieństwa między Jezusem a postaciami
homeryckimi (s. 124-129). Daje ona rzeczywiście solidny obraz metody centonisty. Książka
zyskałaby, gdyby Autor zrobił podobne tabele dla pozostałych bohaterów centonów. Z
pewnością dałoby to pełniejszy obraz działań centonisty.
Zaletą tej publikacji są liczne tabele, które pozwalają zobaczyć skalę omawianych
przez Piaseckiego zjawisk. Dzięki nim zyskujemy nie tylko efekty analiz Autora, lecz także
możemy zobaczyć materiał źródłowy, na którym pracuje.
Ważnym pozytywnym walorem monografii są podsumowania pod każdym
rozdziałem, dzięki którym staje się bardziej jasna celowość prowadzonych przez Autora
analiz. Wypunktowane wnioski w zakończeniu rzeczywiście pozwalają wychwycić
najważniejsze osiągnięcia badań Piaseckiego. Chociaż Autor deklarował we wstępie, że nie
jest celem jego analiz zabieranie głosu w kwestiach datacji centonów, to jednak w
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zakończeniu pozwolił sobie na pewną istotną uwagę. Z faktu nieobecności w centonach
jakichkolwiek informacji na temat Ducha Świętego wyciągnął wniosek, że zasadniczy ich
www.litant.eu
korpus, poddawany później modyfikacjom, powstał przed Soborem w Konstantynopolu
Littera Antiqua
(381 r.), który podjął zagadnienie bóstwa Ducha Świętego. I rzeczywiście trudno byłoby
znaleźć inne uzasadnienie dla pominięcia w centonach tak fundamentalnego dla
chrześcijaństwa wymiaru trynitarnego. Jest to ważny wkład Autora w dyskusję nad
datowaniem centonów.
Marek Gilski
164

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