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The Syntax of Movement

Die bloße, aus dem Innersten herausgeholte Wahrheit ist der Zweck des epischen Dichters: er schildert uns bloß das ruhige Dasein und Wirken der Dinge nach ihren Naturen, sein Zweck liegt schon in jedem Punkt seiner Bewegung.

—Schiller to Goethe, 21 April 1797

Like any speech act, the epic performance is constituted and constrained by time in various ways. In the previous chapter we saw that the very act of verbalization, as it turns the flow of ideas in a speaker’s consciousness into a flow of speech, is intimately connected with temporal progression. But time is also a factor external to the speech process as such: a speaker or performer may get tired from speaking for too long a time. Or there may simply not be enough time available: whereas writing may be confronted with a shortage of space, speaker and listeners may not have enough time to bring a speech to its natural conclusion, or cover all the topics related to a given subject or theme. It is because of the potential shortage of it that time becomes an important factor in the meaning of a discourse: listening to a discourse, giving it your time, is not an automatic thing, and a speaker will have to secure this cooperation on the part of his public by marking the units of his speech as steps through time, taken by him and the listener in joint anticipation of what is to come.

As a concession to time, speech is always a selection. Telling a story “as it really was” would require unlimited time, a situation that is humanly impossible. This is reflected in what might be called the Homeric recusatio, “a refusal to give a full presentation of complex things.”1 The characteristic formula is “as for X, I could not tell, nor could I name it,” which is used by Homeric speakers when they see themselves confronted with the mismatch between human limitations and the vastness of a given subject about to be presented. The most famous of these moments occurs when the Homeric narrator is about to name the Greek leaders and their contingents:2

πληθὺν δ’ οὐκ ἂν ἐγὼ μυθήσομαι οὐδ’ ὀνομήνω,
οὐδ’ εἴ μοι δέκα μὲν γλῶσσαι, δέκα δὲ στόματ’ εἶεν,
φωνὴ δ’ ἄρρηκτος, χάλκεον δέ μοι ἦτορ ἐνείη,

The multitude I could not tell or name,

not if I had ten tongues, ten mouths,

not if there was unbreakable voice and a heart of bronze within me.

(Il. 2.488–90)

It is at the moments when the speaker is most acutely aware of the shortness of time and breath that the positive side of time becomes most apparent. Whatever is dealt with at length, as in the full, catalogic coverage of epic material, takes time, which is a precious commodity, and the subject gains in prominence for that reason.3

The time-consuming nature of speech appears particularly clearly in Homer when we realize that epic speech is presented as a verbalization of things seen. In their original performance milieu, epic tales are typically presented by performers who adopt the stance of an eyewitness or even a sportscaster—not so much a narrative stance that we would call fictional, as a psychological state shared by the performer and his audience (whether or not that state is thought to involve mediation and verification on the part of the divine, as in the case of the Muses in the Homeric tradition).4 Seeing or visualizing a scene from the epic tale—the difference between the two is less great for an epic singer than it is for us—requires much less time than putting that perception into words, especially when the scene that is selected for verbalization is one of complex and rapid action. The more finegrained the detail in which the imagined scene is observed, the more time it takes—potentially more time than is available—to transform it into speech; the sharp focus that we usually attribute to pictorial representation (designated in post-Homeric Greek by words like akríbeia ‘sharpness’ or ‘precision’, akribḕs ‘exact’, and the like) yields to another quality: the fullness and truth of speech.5

As David Rubin has recently demonstrated, mental imagery is an important factor in the recall of stories and thus in the stability of an epic tradition.6 Even without a cognitive interest, any reader of Homer can testify to the graphic, concrete images in which Homeric narrative proceeds. Images as aggregates of visual information are easier to remember than verbal, sequential information. Still, in telling the epic tale, such sequential organization, that is, the flow of speech, is necessarily what the epic poet has to produce. Verbalizing the image, in fact, is like looking at a picture: the consciousness of the speaker resembles that of the observer, who can focus only on one detail at a time, the area of foveal vision. So for the study of that verbalization we need concepts and terminology not so much pertaining to the image itself as to the way in which it is perceived. In other words, the sharpness of the image or picture is there, but it is projected onto the dimension of time and represented as a succession of verbalized foci of consciousness.7 Owing to the discretizing nature of the speech process (and to the limitations of the consciousness which drives it), the action or object seen is broken down into its component visual details, which are presented in linear, temporal order.8 The most obvious example of this linearization of speech in the Homeric context is ecphrasis, the description of pictures or works of art.9 The example is paradoxical, for although the describing speech cannot but linearize the descriptive items, thus reflecting the order of the perceptions made by a mediating consciousness, the pretension of this kind of discourse is that it provides unmediated access to the object seen, as a natural icon, a real picture, would do.

One of the goals of the present chapter is to argue that ecphrasis as a descriptive discourse mode, distinct from narration, is an un-Homeric phenomenon. More precisely, the contention is that Homeric narrative is on the whole ecphrastic, and that in Homeric discourse narration and description cannot be separated: all narration is description. A case in point is battle narrative. The linearization problem here is no less prominent than in the overt description of a visual object: in battle narrative the speech process clearly imposes its own properties on the representation of the scenes depicted; it creates a temporal relation between events, or details of events that is peculiar to the flow of speech. The paradigmatic example of this linearization is the androktasía ‘man-to-man slaying’, in which the poet zooms in on a detail that is selected for verbalization from a mental image of mass fighting over an extended area, and thus effects a transformation of the spatial dimension of the battlefield into the temporal dimension of speech. Not only are the component visual details of the killing put into a linear order that does not belong so much to the event itself as to its representation in speech; the killing event as a whole is also necessarily sequenced in speech between other, similar events that occur simultaneously on the battlefield.10

The narrator of the Iliad is fully aware of this. At the beginning of his account of the great battle around the walls of the Achaean camp, he puts the matter, just as he did at the beginning of the catalogue of ships, in terms of an opposition between divine power and human limitations:11

A divine narrator like the Muse could process and say it all, presenting a faithful and natural verbal icon, which would reflect the chaotic battle in all the minute details that happen all over the battlefield, along the entire perimeter of the Greek wall at the same time. A human narrator, on the other hand, cannot handle this, nor can his human audience. He has to make a selection, a part that stands for the whole—not a natural icon, which reproduces the vision of the battle as such, but a more arbitrary sign, the transformation of the vision into speech. The epic story, in other words, is not so much the unmediated mimesis of which the Muses would be capable, as the mediated semiosis of speech.

Crucial in this signifying process, of course, is human consciousness, which, as we saw in Chapter 3, can focus on no more than one thing at a time, a property that is translated into the processual, sequential character of speech. The succession of intonation units is in fact nowhere more clearly articulated (and manipulated for rhetorical effect of various kinds, as we will see in Part 3 below) than in battle narrative. Such narrative is more stylized than some other Homeric speech genres, for example, the represented speech of characters,12 and therefore, paradoxical though it may seem, more typically speech: the verbalization of what is least amenable to representation in speech makes the properties of speech, in particular its progression in cognitively determined intonational chunks, stand out all the more clearly. Or in different terms, battle narrative, with its multitude of names and their attached associations, is less easily activated in the mind of the performer than other parts of the epic story, and this requires, in terminology borrowed from the cognitive psychologist, a reinforcement of the constraints that facilitate the activation: intonation units in Homeric discourse, after all, are not only a sign of its production, but also a prerequisite for its re-production.13

To give a full account of something in speech that is subject to human limitations is katalégein in Homeric parlance. This verb is frequently used by Homeric speakers, in a variety of situations and in a wider sense than our “catalogue.” Consider the words of Odysseus at the beginning of the report of his wanderings at the Phaiacean banquet:

τί πρῶτόν τοι ἔπειτα τί δ’ ὑστάτιον καταλέξω;

What shall I then tell you first, and what last?

(Od. 9.14)

The phrasing of this question is reminiscent of the questions posed to the Muses by the narrator of the Iliad at various stages of the battle before Troy, when lists of warriors slain are what seem to be uppermost in his mind, for example:14

ἔνθα τίνα πρῶτον, τίνα δ’ ὕστατον ἐξενάριξεν
Ἕκτωρ Πριαμίδης, ὅτε οἱ Ζεὺς κῦδος ἔωκεν;

There whom did he kill first, and whom last,

Hektor Priam’s son, when Zeus granted him glory?

(Il. 11.299–300)

Both Odysseus and the narrator of the Iliad may be expressing themselves in unperiodic strung-on style, but that does not mean that their speech is aimless. They are concerned with a beginning and with an end to which they can direct their speech, the one verbalizing the activity of his own mind, and the other addressing an external divine source.15

One might object that the introductory words of the occasional dinnertable narrator grappling with the problem how to arrange his subject matter (“Where shall I begin?”) are different from the request of a professional bard to the Muses, and that the former citation bears on how to organize a story, whereas the latter applies to a list, a common feature of epic battle narrative. But such a strict distinction between narrative information (story) and itemized information (list), natural as it may seem to us, is alien to the Homeric context. Turning things into speech, whatever those things are, and whether in bardic performance or in less formal situations, is to produce a catalogue in the full sense of katalégein, which Tilman Krischer, in a seminal discussion of the term and its importance for Homeric discourse in general, has glossed as “klassifizierend darstellen” ‘represent as an exhaustive list’.16 Speaking is by its very nature a classification, a pulling apart of what belongs together, and in spinning the thread of discourse the question of the beginning is paramount. Lists of warriors slain or contingents mustered are indeed more catalogic than other parts of Homeric narrative, but they are not opposed, as the catalogic, to the noncatalogic parts of the narrative. And the Muses are invoked or addressed before the poet engages in a catalogue, since where to begin in such cases is not as self-evident as it is in other situations. Speakers have to be crucially concerned with beginnings, starting points that set the mental process of activation in motion.

Time and Space

Thus far I have spoken of epic speech as a description of things seen, and so as a movement through time, but in the experience of epic singers and their audiences there is another dimension as well. For them epic narration is not only the time it takes to present a “catalogue,” but also the movement that covers the distance between two points. The epic story line is like a hike, longer or shorter, along a trail that may be more readily visible or less at various places. The characterization of epic narrative as a path of song is of course well known, and in the light of the many excellent discussions of the metapoetic statements in the Odyssey (involving such terms as oímē ‘path’, metabaínō ‘shift paths’, etc.) a new discussion here would be superfluous.17 What I think should be stressed, however, is that epic notions of path and space involve more than just a poetic metaphor. Path and space are realities in terms of which the presentation of the epic tale is viewed by the performers and their audiences; the epic story involves not only a continuously shifting present moment, but also a given location, not only a now but also a here.18

The ways in which the typically Homeric strategies of scanning scenes and of moving from scene to scene draw on the resources of the Greek language is the subject proper of this chapter and the next one. Limiting ourselves mainly to battle narrative, the speech genre in which the narrative trail is least visible, we shall see that, besides invoking or addressing the Muses, the Homeric narrator has other resources at his disposal. The Greek language provides a number of particles and other devices that enable speakers to let their listeners keep track of the flow of discourse in which they find themselves, by inviting them to make a step, or look forward, jointly with the speaker. The use of these devices is no doubt more stylized in Homeric special speech than in ordinary everyday speech, but the Homeric narrator, in spite of the special character of his idiom, can obviously not depart from the ways in which the language community at large structures its discourses. The study of ancient Greek discourse markers, then, can shed light on this aspect of epic poetics.

The discussion below will focus in some detail on the cognitive and what I will call processual aspects of the speech units in Homeric discourse. My use of the term “process” and its cognates implies a deliberate departure from the predominantly referential practices of most (but not all) linguistic theory: often the design and organization of sentences is discussed in terms of their referential object.19 We do not, however, have to contrast our own cognitive and linguistic inadequacies with the mimetic perfection of the language of the Muses in Greek epic poetics to realize that human language, and human speech in particular, can never be a faithful verbal icon of its object, and that direct referentiality is no more than one aspect of what happens when people talk. No less important are the concepts in the mind of the speaker and listener as part of the jointly experienced cognitive process.

The presentation below focuses on what in stylistic terms has been called parataxis. This concept may be used, as we saw in Chapter 3, to distinguish Homeric style from the hypotactic and periodic style of later authors, but the discussion that follows will have a different orientation. Rather than constituting an allegedly primitive, preliterate type of syntax, the phenomena usually denoted by the term “parataxis” can be shown to serve a positive, deliberate purpose in the deployment of what might be called the syntax of movement. And since movement is action, we serve the restless, processual nature of Homeric discourse better when we replace “parataxis” with terms denoting not so much stylistic or syntactic properties of the text, as the narrator’s activities on the path of speech. Hence the word “parataxis” may be reformulated as continuation or progression, a new step on the path of speech, with the markers of continuation (the particle in particular) constituting the engine of the syntax of movement.

Progression and Continuation

The Greek grammarian who called the particle a “step-over conjunction” (súndesmos metabatikós)20 made a felicitous choice, for steps are exactly what marks, at least in Homeric discourse. The particle is the primary sign of continuation and progression in Homeric Greek, and the most widely used element in the syntax of movement.21 In using dé, the epic narrator covers distance, in the most general sense of the term; the poet has a goal in mind, but that has no bearing on his use of dé, which marks no more than a new step, a moment in time at which a new piece of information is activated in his consciousness. The particle is the most widely used linguistic boundary marker between foci of consciousness. And as an observable syntactic cue for such cognitive breaks in our text it is an important element for the study of how consciousness is turned into speech.

Our first example is the description of the Trojan rally and the arrangement of the two armies in battle order after Hektor has received a heartening message from Zeus by Iris:

a. Ἕκτωρ δ’ ἐξ ὀχέων

and Hektor from his chariot,

b. σὺv τεύχεσιν ἆλτο χαμᾶζε,

with his armor on he jumped to the ground,

c. πάλλων δ’ ὀξέα δοῦρα

and brandishing the sharp javelins,

d. κατὰ στρατὸν ᾤχετο πάντῃ,

he went all over the army,

e. ὀτρύνων μαχέσασθαι,

exhorting [his men] to fight;

f. ἔγειρε δὲ φύλοπιν αἰνήν.

and he roused terrible battle,

g. οἱ δ’ ἐλελίχθησαν

and they, they rallied,

h. καὶ ἐναντίοι ἔσταν ’Αχαιῶν,

and they took position opposite the Achaeans,

i. Ἀργεῖοι δ’ ἑτέρωθεν

and the Argives on the other side,

j. ἐκαρτύναντο φάλαγγας.

they strengthened their rows,

k. ἀρτύνθη δὲ μάχη,

and battle it was prepared,

l. στὰν δ’ άντίοι·

and they stood opposite each other,

m. ἐν δ’ ’Αγαμέμνων πρῶτος ὄρουσ’,

and Agamemnon he was the first to rush forward

n. ἔθελεν δὲ πολὺ προμάχεσθαι ἁπάντων.

and he wanted to fight far ahead of all.

(Il. 11.211–17)

We see here a remarkable case of discourse progression: out of thirteen units nine are linked to the previous discourse with , and if we see units b, d, and e as adding units belonging to a given nuclear clause (in ways that will be shown in the next chapter), then nine out often clauses are marked by (the exception being clause h, with the particle kaí, on which see below). Each unit marked by represents a separate detail which is sufficiently independent with respect to the previously verbalized focus of consciousness to be conceptualized as a separate event, a subpart of the total scene, and expressed as an independent clause, although details can also be phrased less independently, for which see below. The clauses, then, are successive steps in the narrator’s verbalizing of the information of which the scene consists. The description, furthermore, is instructive in that it shows that the use of in Homer is so automatic and ubiquitous as to be insensitive to two considerations from the linguistic study of narrative that need to be briefly discussed: the continuity of topics and the movement of narrative time.

In the description of the rally a distinction can be made between the subjects of units a-f and units m-n on the one hand and the subjects of units g-l on the other. The latter are mere subjects of their clause, activated in the context of the subevent which the clause represents and replaced by the subject of the next clause; the former, Hektor and Agamemnon, are subjects in the role of agents. This role, possible in the scene as depicted by language, easily transcends the limits of a single sentence or clause.22 The distinction between subject and agent is thus much more than the possibility that the two do not coincide in a single passive sentence (e.g., “He was bitten terribly by that dog,” where the subject of the sentence is not an agent but a patient).23

“Agent” is a word that applies to a discourse as a whole, whereas “subject” is a syntactic term, a matter of the organization of sentences or clauses. The idea of an agent is therefore likely to last longer than one single focus of consciousness, and thus to have a certain history in the flow of speech.24 An agent typically stays on the scene for a while as a protagonist, and in the flow of speech the agent must be introduced with some care, or reintroduced, as the topic with which the discourse is concerned at some point.25 These operations involve the grammar of a language in characteristic ways. We shall see in the next chapter that the tracking and management of agents or topics in epic discourse is a rich source of addition and expansion phenomena (the addition of a name to an event, or of an event to a name, as a separate intonation unit); at this point we are concerned with the reintroduction, or reactivation of agents as moments of continuation. A characteristic and simple example of such a reintroduction is:

ὁ δὲ Κύπριν ἐπῴχετο νηλέϊ χαλκῷ,

and he, he went after Kupris with pitiless bronze

(Il. 5.330)

This is a reactivation of Diomedes as agent after the attention of the narrator has been directed elsewhere; the hero is restored in his role of protagonist for the moment. In such cases, obviously too numerous for more examples to be needed, it is the pronoun ho that marks or objectifies the switch—since it signals a switch in topic, it is often called a topic in linguistics—and it is that marks the switch as a moment of continuation in the flow of discourse. In the following example, we see two such switches (units a and c), separated by a single step (unit b) that does not involve the switch of an agent. Yet the three units are equally marked by as moments of continuation:26

a. ὁ δ’ ἄρ’ ἀσπίδος ὀμφαλὸν οὖτα, and he (=Aias), he hit the navel of the shield,
b. ὦσε δέ μιν σθένεϊ μεγάλῳ· and he pushed him with mighty force,
c. ὁ δὲ χάσσατ’ ὀπίσσω and he (=Hektor), he shrunk back to the rear.

(Il. 13.192–93)

In still other cases, there is no switch whatsoever, either in agent or in subject; the subject, applying to one and the same agent or topic, stays the same through a number of clauses:

Ἕκτωρ δ’ ὦκ’ ἀπέλεθρον ἀνέδραμε,

and Hektor, swiftly away he sprang up

μίκτο δ’ ὁμίλῳ,

and he merged with the crowd,

στῆ δὲ γνὺξ ἐριπὼν

and he stayed dropping on one knee

(Il. 11.354–55)

The use of in Homeric discourse is so general and ubiquitous as to bridge the very real difference between the continuity of a topic or agent (when successive clauses may or may not have different subjects) and its discontinuity (or the reintroduction of an agent): in either case, what is marked is just a step forward in the deployment of the discourse.27

The second consideration is the movement of narrative time. In the examples just given, one might think of the temporal relation between two events as the motivating factor in the use of dé, whereby a step on the path of speech, a moment in performance time, would correspond with the time of the scene depicted, a moment in story time. Yet even this general characterization is too specific for the function of in Greek speech. In itself this is clear already from the simple fact that is not confined to narrative contexts, in which the speaker is concerned with the creation of story events by means of speech (performance events): it also freely occurs in nonnarrative speech, where a sequential ordering of events is obviously not what the speaker aims to achieve. Consider, for example, the following fragment from the prayer of Glaukos to Zeus:

ἀμφὶ δέ μοι χεὶρ

and on both sides my arm,

ὀξείῃς ὀδύνῃσιν ἐλήλαται,

by sharp pains it is struck,

ουδέ μοι αἷμα τερσῆναι δύναται,

and my blood, it cannot dry,

βαρύθει δέ μοι ὦμος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ·

and it aches, my shoulder under it,

ἔγχος δ’ οὐ δύναμαι σχεῖν ἔμπεδον,

and my spear I cannot hold fast,

οὐδὲ μάχεσθαι

and not fight either,

ἐλθὼν δυσμενέεσσιν.

going against enemy men,

ἀνὴρ δ’ ὤριστος ὄλωλε,

and the best man, he is dead,

Σαρπηδών, Διὸς υἱός·

Sarpedon, Zeus’s son,

ὁ δ’ οὐδ’ οὗ παιδὸς ἀμύνει.

and he, he does not even protect his son.

(Il. 16.517–22)

But, more important for our purpose, the movement of story time is not a factor of primary importance for the way in which the Homeric narrator presents his speech, and this sets Homeric discourse apart from modern narrative, or rather, from what constitutes the essence of narrative in the modern linguistic study of it. In discussions of tense, verbal aspect, and other linguistic features of stories, foregrounded portions of a narrative are usually distinguished from its background.28 In these studies the foreground is characterized by a sequential ordering of events, as the backbone of the narration or the story line, whereas the background is what explains or motivates the events of the story line.29 In other words, on this view foreground narrates, whereas background describes.

Yet such a distinction, ascribing to texts the unmediated quality of visual representation (see my remarks on akríbeia ‘sharpness’ above), seems less appropriate for the syntax of movement in Homeric discourse, in which allegedly backgrounded explanatory or descriptive passages are just as much movement along the path of speech as their foregrounded counterparts,30 and conversely, where foregrounded action-packed narrative passages have the descriptive visual quality that is commonly ascribed to background.

In the study of epic speech, the foreground should not be treated exclusively as the narrative representation of action or events, as opposed to a nonnarrative, descriptive background. Foregrounding is just as dynamic as the speech process itself, and this quality can be emphasized by replacing the static notion of representation by a visual concept of dynamic perception. We may say that a portion of narrative is in the foreground if it is “in focus,” or coming into focus. This distinction applies not to specific parts of a text as opposed to others, but to any part of a spoken text at the moment of its utterance.31 And rather than representing events directly, we may say that epic narration frequently freezes the action and its time frame, in order to make possible the action and time of speech. In other words, movement and activity on the battlefield is stalled into a tableau, and the way in which the epic narrator finds his way through areas of fighting on his path resembles the way people look at pictures.

We shall see in the next chapter that there are regular and recurrent patterns in the narrators visual scanning of the battlefield, patterns that in their connection with memory and cognitive production seem to be a better criterion for orality than formulaic style as such. For the moment, what interests me is the use of to mark the steps in the scanning of the picture, and the projection of it onto the time frame of speech. The particle , whose use is automatic and unmarked, indicates the shifting focus in the speaker’s field of vision, rather than any inherent temporal quality of events in the narrative. Its marking of performance time, not story time, can be clearly seen in the following description of a killing event:

a. Ἀντίλοχος δὲ Μύδωνα βάλ’,

and Antilokhos he hit Mudon,

b. ἡνίοχον θεράποντα,

charioteer servant,

c. ἐσθλὸν Ἀτυμνιάδην—

valiant son of Atumnios,

d. ὁ δ’ ὑπέστρεφε μώνυχας ἵππους—

and he, he turned his one-hoofed horses,

e. χερμαδίῳ ἀγκῶνα τυχὼν μέσον·

with a stone striking [him] on the middle of the elbow.

(Il. 5.580–82)

The clausal unit d, a brief switch to the victim (ho d’ ‘and he’) describes an event that seems to be out of temporal sequence.32 Instead of a moment in the scene depicted, the clause constitutes a moment in its description, and rather than a sentence, the passage as a whole is a short catalogue of temporally ordered descriptive items, two of which (units b and c) are expansions triggered by the idea of Mudon.33 Consider also the following description of the grisly details of a slaying:

What we have here are not so much narrative statements asserting temporal sequence as descriptive visual details as they pass through the speaker’s consciousness.34 In fact, not even the scene as a whole is an event with its own place in story time; it is presented as the description of one out of a number of simultaneous killing-events, a complex scene of mass fighting over an extended area in which Trojans are killed in the flight. One edge of the tableau is framed in the following way:35

ἔνθα δ’ ἀνὴρ ἔλεν ἄνδρα

and there man he took man,

κεδασθείσης ὑσμίνης

in the spreading battle


of the leaders.

(Il 16.306–7)

The catalogue of nine killings that follows is thus a selection on the part of a consciousness that is watching the scene, zooming in as if it were a camera lens on items of particular salience and interest.36 Transitions from one selection to the next are marked by dé, as is the movement from detail to detail within a selected catalogue item. The movement of story time is halted throughout to make possible the movement through performance time, in which “first” (prṑtos) typically has the processual, nonreferential meaning “first in my account,” rather than “first in the reality depicted.”37

From the point of view of writing and sentential syntax, and similar elements in other languages are likely to be misinterpreted. Their sheer frequency looks primitive and crudely repetitive when rendered on paper. Converted to the syntactic categories of the written page, the relation between clauses marked by dé becomes a matter of indiscriminately prolonged coordination (the formation of complex sentences from simple sentences arranged on one syntactic plane) and a potential sign of the simplicity of a given text.38 The processual nature of de, however, belongs to a different domain. A speaker using the particle in Homeric discourse is not concerned with what is for us syntactic correctness, as is clear, for example, from the frequent cases of apodotic dé in a main clause following a subclause:39

αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ Λυκόοργος

but when Lukoörgos

ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ἐγήρα,

he grew old in the hall,

δῶκε δ’ Ἐρευθαλίωνι

(and) he gave [it] to Ereuthalion.

(Il. 7.148–49)

Such cases are anomalous only if the syntactic articulation of the hierarchy between clauses is taken as a (later) norm to which Homer does not conform. But rather than locating Homeric discourse on a scale running from primitive to sophisticated, it would be well to consider the goals and strategies of speech, suppressing the written framework for a moment. In so doing we place ourselves in a position to see that the main concern of the Homeric narrator is movement, an activity that requires a continuous channeling and monitoring of the speech flow through time. It is this factor, overriding any aesthetic judgment one might make from a stylistic point of view, that explains the sustained repetition of in our Homer text as one of the prime signs of speech, and one of the elements that best survive the transcription of speech into text.40


If there is a coordinative particle in Greek, it is not dé, but kaí, and before we continue the discussion of progression and continuation in Homeric discourse, a brief confrontation of with this particle may be in order.41 Even though under certain circumstances the difference between these two words for “and” may be neutralized,42 in principle there is a clear distinction. Owing to its origins,43 kaí is the particle not of progression but of inclusion: it is the particle used to coordinate two elements into a single idea that may (but need not) be expressed as one intonation unit.

When cannot occur (i.e., when the two items linked are not clauses), the expansion effected by kaí is unit-internal in most cases: the two elements linked by kaí may be nouns of any case or syntactic function (e.g., phónon kaí kḕra mélainan ‘murder and black death’); prepositional phrases (e.g., katà phréna kaí katà thumόn ‘in mind and in spirit’); verbs in any form (e.g., agorḕsato kaì metéeipen ‘spoke forth and addressed them’); or other elements (e.g., éntha kaì éntha ‘there and there’).44 Thus whereas discretizes (presenting two ideas as two different steps in a speech or as two items in a catalogue), kaí is the particle of integration: rather than shifting the focus to a new idea as part of the ongoing flow of speech, kaí prolongs the focus.45

When can in principle occur instead of kaí (i.e., when the two linked items are clauses), we note that kaí can be used to introduce a unit in which a given idea is rephrased in order to highlight a different aspect of it, marking not so much that something new is coming into focus as that what was already in focus continues to be so and is being expanded at the present moment. Consider the following examples, in which marks the step to a new idea and kaí introduces a unit that verbalizes the idea in different words and from a different angle:

ὣς ἔφατ’,

thus he spoke,

ἔδεισεν δ’ ὁ γέρων

and the old man, he got scared,

καὶ ἐπείθετο μύθῳ·

and obeyed his word.

(Il. 1.33)

ἵετο δ’ αἰεὶ Αἰνείαν κτεῖναι

and he was striving all the time to kill Aineias,

καὶ ἀπὸ κλυτὰ τεύχεα δῦσαι.

and to strip his renowned armor.

(Il. 5.434–35)

From the perspective of a Homeric warrior, killing an opponent and stripping him of his armor are such closely related ideas as to allow of an integrative linkage with kaí. In terminology that will be more fully developed in Chapter 8 below, “kill” is in certain contexts a nuclear or core idea, and “strip” a possible expansion of it.46 Sometimes the idea of inclusion seems to convey a simultaneity of two or more actions that contrasts with the indeterminacy of in that regard:47

ἦ ῥα, καὶ ἀμπεπαλὼν

he spoke and balancing [it] above his head,

προΐει δολιχόσκιον ἔγχος

he threw the far-shadowing spear,

καὶ βάλε Τυδεΐδαο κατ’ ἀσπίδα.

and hit Tudeus’s son in the shield.

(Il 5.280–81)

Speaking (the taunting of an opponent on the battlefield), calibrating the spear, throwing it, and hitting the target are really one complex event, and the poet uses the integrative, noncatalogic particle kaí to bring out that wholeness. It is true that due to its own time-consuming nature, speech can never represent simultaneity of two events as such, since it takes at least two temporally ordered speech events to name them: as we have seen, speech as such is no unmediated mimesis. But a speaker can assert the simultaneity, using the less processual and more referent-oriented particle kaí instead of dé.48 In terms of vision this would mean that he stresses less the process of perception than the qualities of the object perceived.

One context in which kaí invariably occurs is the reversal passage, in which a god or hero intervenes at the last moment to prevent the untimely death of a major epic character. In this scene, Diomedes has hit Aineias with a stone and is about to kill him:49

a. ἀμφὶ δὲ ὄσσε

and both his eyes

b. κελαινὴ νὺξ ἐκάλυψε.

black night, it covered,

c. καί νύ κεν ἔνθ’ ἀπόλοιτο

and now he would have died there,

d. ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν Αἰνείας,

leader of men Aineias,

e. εἰ μὴ ἄρ ’ ὀξὺ νόησε

if she had not looked sharply,

f. Διὸς θυγάτηρ Ἀφροδίτη,

Aphrodite daughter of Zeus.

(Il 5.310–12)

The near-disastrous event is expressed positively in units a-b and is repeated as a nonrealized event in unit c, which is linked to the preceding discourse with kaí. The particle marks its clause as a negative rephrasing or counterpart of the preceding description. Instead of being merely included within the scope of what precedes, however, the negative statement of the nonevent explicitly points forward to the next unit after the addition (in unit d) of the name: because unit c is marked as unreal by the modal particle ken, it creates a strong anticipation as to the next real event, thus serving as narrative bridge between the description of danger and the rescue, enhancing the saliency of the latter. The function of the kaí clause in “if not” situations thus testifies to the double nature of speech units in the ongoing flow of discourse through time: they have a meaningful relation both with their past and with their future, a double nature that will crucially concern us below and in the next chapter.

The inclusive nature of kaí, finally, can be exploited to convey meaning that transcends the significance of a given epic moment, as when Hektor’s death is foreshadowed at the moment of his greatest glory:

a. μινυνθάδιος γὰρ

short-lived indeed

b. ἔμελλεν ἔσσεσθ’·

he was to be,

c. ἤδη γάρ ο ἱ ἐπόρνυε

for already she was rousing against him

d. μόρσιμον ἦμαρ

the day of doom,

e. Παλλὰς Ἀθηναίη

Pallas Athene,

f. ὑπὸ Πηλεΐδαο βίηφιν.

through the might of Peleus’s son,

g. καί ῥ’ ἔθελεν ῥῆξαι

and he wanted to break

h. στίχας ἀνδρῶν πειρητίζων,

the ranks of men, probing them,

The kaí statement, in comparison with which would have been weak and colorless, integrates Hektor’s present prowess into the foreshadowing, linking death and glory into one indissoluble whole.50

Progression, Dialogism, and Enargeia

In the discussion of discourse progression by means of dé, we saw that there is nothing in the structure of the clauses as such that either causes or prohibits the linkage with de. But that does not mean that continuation and linkage with is unconstrained or unchecked. Rather than grammar, structure, or syntax, however, it is the interactive nature of the speech situation or performance itself and the availability of time that puts constraints on continuative connection in discourse, and this brings us to the interactive and dialogic potential of the connective particle dé, or how continuation in Homer is marked in such a way as to reflect an imaginary interaction with an addressee.

It is commonplace to state that (δέ) is etymologically connected with dḕ (δή) as a phonetically shortened and weakened version of this latter particle.51 What is less often mentioned is that this similarity in form, weakening with the passage of time, might well be connected with a parallel similarity in meaning, being a weaker, “bleached” version of semantically as well as morphologically. is often called a confirmative particle,52 but is better characterized as a marker of evidentialiy.53 Dḕ conveys that the consciousness verbalized receives its input from the speaker’s immediate environment, from what is perceptually clear and evident. The verbalization of the perception, however, is not simply an evidential statement; the clause, being directed to an addressee, signals that the speaker assumes that the hearer is capable of witnessing the same evidence, and in uttering the clause the speaker wants to convey that the addressee shares the same evident environment. The particle in conversation is thus no less socializing than evidential: speakers using assume that their addressees are “with them”, that they share their physical situation (or by an easy extension, the same emotional and intellectual situation). The use of dḕ, then, can be seen as a symptom of this involvement. Examples of this shared situation are frequent in the discourse of Homeric speakers:

Τεῦκρε πέπον,

dear Teukros,

δὴ νῶϊν ἀπέκτατο

see, he has died on us two,

πιστὸς ἑταῖρος

our trustworthy comrade.

(Il. 15.437)

ὄρεο, διογενές Πατρόκλεες,

rise up, Patroklos born of Zeus



λεύσσω δὴ παρά νηυσὶ

I see there at the ships

πυρὸς δηΐοιο ἰωήν·

the glow of destructive fire.

(Il. 16.126–27)

In the first example the speaker is Aias, who addresses his half-brother Teukros in a situation in which both are witnessing the death of Luko-phron, Aias’s therápōn ‘henchman’, a charioteer who is accidentally hit and killed by Hektor. Aias’s statement presupposes the situational as well as emotional involvement of Teukros, and his phrasing thus testifies to his judgment as to the similarity of the idea in his consciousness to that of the idea in his addressee’s consciousness: both share the same present experience (notice also the involvement dative noin ‘for the two of us’).54 In the second example Achilles verbalizes a perception which he is sure he shares with Patroklos; the verbalization is thus not so much an assertion that he “sees” something as a verbalization of a common ground, a starting point for action on which both agree. The presupposed common basis for conducting discourse can thus be exploited for rhetorical purposes, as in the following case, in which Poseidon, in the shape of Kalkhas the seer, is exhorting the Greeks to make a stand against Hektor and the Trojans:

a. ὦπέπονες,

you weaklings,

b. τάχα δή τι κακὸν ποιήσετε μεῖζον

soon you’ll be doing something bad, worse than this,

c. τῇδε μεθημοσύνῃ·

by this slackening of yours,

d. ἀλλ’ ἐν φρεσὶ θέσθε ἕκαστος

but each of you, put it in your mind,

e. αἰδῶ καὶ νέμεσιν·

shame and outrage,55

f. δὴ γὰρ μέγα νεῖκος ὄρωρεν.

for see, a great quarrel it has erupted,

g. Ἕκτωρ δὴ παρὰ νηυσὶ

see, Hektor at the ships,

h. βοὴν ἀγαθὸς πολεμίζει

good at the cry he makes war.

(Il. 13.120–23)

The instances of dḕ in units f and g, as in the example just discussed, derive from the speaker’s assumption that the addressees are able to see for themselves what drives the speaker’s consciousness: the evidence marked by the particle is a matter of shared environment and perception. The instance of dḕ in unit b, on the other hand, derives from the assumption that the addressees are willing to see what the speaker has in mind. The involvement of the speaker and the addressees is less a matter of actually sharing an environment than a matter of cooperation: the speaker assumes that the listeners are willing to see the evidence produced, so that conducting the discourse becomes an activity aimed at a shared seeing, a being together in the situation created by the speaker’s phrasing.56

Shared seeing is the aim of any discourse that mediates between two consciousnesses, and very few utterances are made for their own sake or just as statements of certainty, belief, or opinion. The actual use of language transcends the abstraction of it offered by the philosophers or logicians. Most speech is necessarily directed to someone, a consciousness other than the speaker’s, and response from this other consciousness, even if it remains implicit in the form of cooperation assumed in the mind of the speaker, is essential for the presentation of discourse and its continuation. Speech must be at least implicitly dialogic, presupposing reaction of some sort, whether overt or covert, even when no one is required or expected to give an explicit answer.57

With this dialogism and involvement as a background, let us return to the visual quality of Homeric discourse. I argued above that speech, whether it is Homeric or not, cannot convey the properties of its referent in the way a visual icon can represent them. But that does not mean that Homeric speech cannot effect the visualization of its referent in the mind of its hearer, given a willingness to participate in the scene depicted. In fact, ever since antiquity, critics of Homer have been struck by the graphic quality of Homeric discourse, its power to put events and their participants before the hearers’ eyes and to involve them in the epic action.58 Ford is probably right that “we should not reduce … to an aesthetic notion” what he calls Homeric “vividness” (translating Greek enárgeia), because its back-ground is “magical and epiphanic.”59 Yet the means by which the Homeric narrator achieves the immediate presence of the epic events in performance are often not different from those used by speakers in general when they want to talk in an engaging way about things that are not physically present in the speech situation.

In a recent discussion, stating obvious facts in an illuminating way, Chafe has drawn attention to the capacity of the human mind to be activated not only by sensory input from the immediate environment, but also by what is not in the here and now.60 In the latter case, which Chafe calls “displacement” (as opposed to the “immediacy” of our physical environment), the speech-producing consciousness receives its input, by way of remembering or imagining, from another consciousness that is either the speaker s own or belongs to someone else. This remote consciousness is located in another time and/or place in which it does the actual seeing. The human mind appears to have a natural inclination to turn away from the physical present and to create a mental here and now, either by producing speech or listening to it. The obvious sign of this imaging potential in human discourse is the ubiquitous use of evidentiality markers and other linguistic devices pertaining to the here and now—the pretence is that what is remembered or imagined is actually seen, and the devices are deployed on the assumption that the listener is willing to play along with the pretence.61

The distal consciousness that feeds the verbalizing consciousness of the Homeric narrator may be in the last resort the remote authoritative perception of the Muse, a relation that turns memory and remembering into something quite special, a mediation between the human and the divine;62 yet the means by which the poet locates the remote evidence of his tale in the immediacy of the present cannot have been very different from the strategies used by speakers whose consciousness receives input from a nearer and more readily accessible source. Homeric narrative abounds with evidentiality markers, whose use has to be seen in connection with the use made of them by the characters in the epic.63 Returning to the discussion of dḕ,64 we may now say that the use of this particle draws the hearer into the story by marking the narration as deriving from a shared basis, a common experience that binds the narrator and the listeners together as if they were actually jointly witnessing a given scene.

Seeing jointly and drawing the listener into the scene described are pervasive features of epic narration, but these features are particularly common when significant events or breaks in the story are marked by hote ‘when’, tóte ‘then’, or both. It is at such moments that the narrator most needs the participation of the listener: the poet assumes that participation and hence overtly expresses it. Consider, for example, how the scene of Hektors death is introduced:65

ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ

but when

τὸ τέταρτον ἐπὶ κρουνοὺς ἀφίκοντο,

for the fourth time they arrived at the spring,

καὶ τότε δὴ

(and) then,

χρύσεια πατὴρ ἐτίταινε τάλαντα,

father [Zeus] held up the golden scales.

(Il. 22.208–9)

Speaking as if the events are present in the here and now of the narration is a ubiquitous and natural strategy of the epic narrator, but the importance of evidentiality and vividness is not confined to it. In a weakened and attenuated form it constitutes the basis, not only of the participation of the listener in the story, but also of the very continuation of the epic tale. If is a weak form of dḕ, then its meaning is similar but weaker; is more often and more routinely used than dé, and it reduces participatory cooperation and joint seeing to jointly making a new step in the movement of discourse through time.66 Continuation in meaningful discourse, after all, is not a monologic decision on the part of the speaker; it makes sense only when there is common ground, when the listener is prepared to “stay with” the speaker.

Conducting a discourse, and thereby performing what may be called the act of continuation—the making of assertions that presuppose cooperation on the part of the addressee—entails the manipulation and ongoing extension of such a common ground. Willingness on the part of the hearer, therefore, is something the speaker has to take for granted in order to speak with any confidence at all. It is di that marks this assumption. As such, the particle is a reflex of the communicative side of continuation, making even the most monologic discourse an implicit dialogue with a listener whose reactions—even if only assumed on the part of the speaker—shape the verbalization of the speaker’s consciousness. But is at the same time a sign of the authority of epic discourse and of its speaker, who holds the floor longer and more thoroughly than any ordinary speaker would do, and who assumes that this stance, typical of the special speech of the performance, has the listener’s consent.67

Progression and Negotiation

Continuation in the ongoing speech process means that each moment in the duration of the process results from the previous moment, and in its turn serves as basis or context for the next moment. Any speech unit, therefore, is a stepping-stone to the next one. But a speech unit can also be marked explicitly as a stepping-stone, a basis from which to continue, and this brings us to the particle men. It is commonly assumed that mén (μέν) can be used as an emphatic or affirmative adverb, in which case it is seen as a weak, bleached form of men (μήν). It can also be used as a preparatory coordinator, the counterpart of in the correlative pair mén.68 Owing to the general function of this pair in Attic Greek texts, the particle men is usually seen to mark a referent in the text, one that is opposed to the referent marked by (e.g., ho mén … ho dé ‘the one … the other’). A textual account like this, however, will hardly do in a discussion of Homeric discourse. Like dé, the particle men in Homer is best considered from a speech perspective. Both have processual functions. The particle min has its proper place in the flow of speech through time, rather than in a text that is meant or thought to be a static artifact representing the entities about which it speaks. And the fact that the affirmative use is more common in Homer, while the preparatory use is not fully developed,69 suggests that the processual use of min (… ) cannot be seen in isolation from the use of the particle as an affirmative adverb.

The usual textbook distinction between the two uses of min, in fact, seems to be motivated by Attic usage and projected backward in time onto Homeric discourse. Freeing ourselves from this preconception and searching for more specific descriptions than emphatic or affirmative, we note that men is often used to mark a statement that clears the ground, establishing a framework for discourse to come, and as such it tends to be used at the beginning of a speech. An example is Hektor’s angry response to Poludamas in the second nocturnal assembly of the Trojans:



σὺ μὲν οὐκέτ’ ἐμοί φίλα ταῦτ’ ἀγορεύεις,

you, you no longer say things that please me.

(Il. 18.285)

This is not so much an assertion in its own right as the preparation for more salient assertions to come, and it seems that men marks the statement as performing this function. In the quotation just given, the particle marks the statement as a whole, rather than the single pronoun ( ‘you’).70 When a statement with follows, it has normally been anticipated by the speaker in uttering the men clause. But when men … dé is used in Attic texts, the anticipatory men clause states the first member of an antithetical or contrastive pair, whereas the use of men … dé in Homer testifies to the earlier function of these particles as the markers of assertions in an ongoing and always at least implicitly interactive flow of discourse. A speaker using min, looking forward to an upcoming statement with di, does not so much presuppose a common basis for conducting discourse as establish one.71 Thus min marks the prerequisite of continuation, the indication of a point from which to start.

In overtly interactive and dialogic discourse, the establishment of a basis for discourse yet to come often takes the form of a concession, as in English “true” or “it is true that,” by which a point is conceded not so much to weaken the speaker’s position as to create an environment in which another point can be presented. Such a negotiation is what happens in the following words of Odysseus to Sokos, who has just wounded him:

a. ἆ δείλ’, ἦ μάλα δή

ah wretch, yes clearly so

b. σε κιχάνεται αἰπυς ὄλεθρος.

steep destruction, it overtakes you

c. ἤτοι μέν ῤ ’ ἔμ ’ ἔπαυσας

yes indeed, you may have stopped me

d. ἐπὶ Τ ρώεσσι μάχεσθαι·

fighting against the Trojans,

e. σοὶ δ’ ἐγὼ ἐνθάδε φημὶ

and/but for you I say here

f. φόνον καί κῆρα μέλαιναν

murder and black death

g. ἤματι τῷδ’ ἒσσεσθαι,

there will be on this very same day,

h. ἐμῷ δ ’ ὑπό δουρὶ δαμέντα

and/but subdued by my spear [you]

i. εὖχος ἐμοί δώσειν,

will give fame to me

j. ψυχὴν δ ’ Ἄϊδι κλυτοπώλῳ ·

and [your] soul to Hades with the noble steeds.

(Il. 11.441–45)

After stating in units a and b the general character of the situation, a statement that involves both the physical environment (dḕ) and a strong commitment both to the situation and the words spoken therein, the speaker proceeds to particulars (a common Homeric strategy, as we shall see in the next chapter). The fact that his addressee has incapacitated him is conceded in unit c and marked (mén), not for its own sake or as a step in an ongoing series of verbalizations, but to create an environment in which the next phrasings (marked by , beginning with unit e) will be maximally effective. The speaker, in other words, negotiates a framework within which the attention (if not the cooperation) of the interlocutor can be presupposed, and the subsequent phrasings can be marked accordingly.72

In monologic discourse, like that of the Homeric narrator, the dialogic negotiation that is characteristic of the use of men turns from explicit to implicit, but the general force of a men statement remains: it clears the ground for later statements, providing a basis from which further continuation is possible, and thus establishes the common ground that is necessary for this continuation to be meaningful and successful. There are various ways in which this happens. One of these is a recurrent feature of the Iliadic battle, in which the major opponents of heroes are frequently missed with a spear throw, and something else often accidentally hit:

a. Σαρπηδὼν δ’

and Sarpedon,

b. αὐτοῦ μὲν ἀπήμβροτε

he missed him (=Patroklos)

c. δουρὶ φαεινῷ

with the shining spear,

d. δεύτερον ὁρμηθείς,

charging for the second time,

e. ὁ δὲ Πήδασον οὔτασεν ἵππον

and he, he wounded the horse Pedasos,

f. ἒγχεϊ δεξιὸν ὦμον ·

with the spear in the right shoulder.

(Il. 16.466–68)

From the point of view of classical Attic Greek the use of men in this example is anomalous: in unit e seems misplaced, for one expects the particle to go with Pedasos the horse, thus marking a contrast (autoû menPḕdason dé ‘him [he missed] but Pedasos [he hit]’).73 Instead, seems to mark a constituent (ho ‘he’, i.e., Sarpedon) that cannot be construed as contrastive with the men constituent (autoû ‘him’, i.e., Patroklos). An opposition between two referents, however, is not what the speaker here intends. Rather, the two particles mark specific moments in the flow of discourse. In other words, men applies not to the warrior aimed at and referred to by the pronoun (autoû in unit b), but to the clause as a whole, or better, to its preparatory relation with what follows. And ho dè, for its part, is not what answers autoû men in an opposition of two referents represented by the text; it marks a new start, the reinstatement of the agent of the scene described (see this chapter’s earlier discussion of ho dé in Il. 5.330), a description that takes off from the platform provided by the men clause.74

The processual function of mén is equally clear when the function of the mén statement as stepping-stone is combined with its function of rounding off a previous description. In this scene, Diomedes has just killed Astunoös and Hupeiron:

a. τοὺς μὲν ἔασ’,

them he left lying,

b. ὀ δ’ ’Άβαντα μετῴχετο

and he, he went after Abas

c. καὶ Πολύιδον,

as well as Poluidos,

d. υἱέας Εὐρυδάμαντος,

sons of Eurudamas

e. ὀνειροπόλοιο γέροντος ·

old man dream-reader.

(Il. 5.148–49)

Again, in unit b seems misplaced if one expects an opposition between Diomedes’ previous victims and the new ones.75 But the poet is not concerned with this referential opposition. His language reflects movement, the transition not from one killing to the next, but from the verbalization of the first killing to that of the next: mén and mark events in performance time, not in story time. The men unit verbalizes the end of a scene not as a new step but as the basis from which to make a new step, the observation of the next killing.

The basis for further discourse which is provided by men may also be a moment that is explicitly marked as not a switch to the other participant on the scene. In such cases the men unit is uttered in order to convey that the attention of the listener should remain focused on whoever was already in focus. We have just been told that no one was quicker than Diomedes to cross the ditch and make a stand against the Trojans:76

a. ἀλλὰ πολὺ πρῶτος

No, by far the first

b. Τρώων ἕλεν ἂνδρα κορυστήν,

he (=Diomedes) took a helmeted man of the Trojans,

c. Φραδμονίδην ’Aγέλαον ·

Agelaos the son of Phradmon,

d. ὁ μὲν φύγαδ ’ ἔτραπεν ἵππους·

and he (=Agelaos), he turned his horses to flight:

e. τῷ δὲ μεταστρεφθέντι

and in him (=Agelaos) wheeling around

f. μεταφρένῳ ἐν δόρυ πῆξεν

in his back he (=Diomedes) fastened his spear.

(Il. 8.256–58)

Nothing could be farther removed from the alleged norm in the use of méndé, distilled from Attic Greek texts, in which the two particles mark an antithesis in style or an opposition between two referents.77 In units d-e there is only one referent, marked in turn by mén and then dé. But more importantly, the use of ho men in unit d amounts to a specific processing instruction to the listener: it conveys the information “not the other participant, continue with the one already in focus,” whereas ho de would have conveyed a switch to the other participant, as we saw above. The oblique pronoun marked by (tṓi dé) then takes up the participant already in focus as a starting point to move to the other one. Instead of a referential or stylistic contrast, then, men in unit d marks a moment at which a switch is withheld, a moment consciously marked as something other than a new step with a new item coming into focus, and a characteristic way of guiding the listener’s consciousness through the flow of speech.

The discussion of men just presented leaves us with an important observation: speech units in the Homeric spoken medium, the unperiodic strung-on style of the stylisticians, may be uttered, not just as an addition to what precedes or as a step forward on the path of speech, but with an eye on what lies ahead. In this regard the syntax of movement is but a subpart of the wider strategies of Homeric speechmaking, and of the specific aesthetic of Homeric discourse, to which we turn in the next chapter.

1 Ford 1992: 73.

2 Cf. Od. 4.240–41 (Helen on the exploits of Odysseus) and Od. 11.328–30 (Odysseus on the women he saw in the underworld). In Hes. Theog. 369–70 the problem of time, and of human shortcomings, is essentially that of the Panhellenic poet who is expected to produce a catalogue of all the rivers and their gods but is unable to do so, whereas a local poet in an epichoric tradition would have no problem. Cf. also Od. 14.192–98.

3 On another level of narrative organization, one may think of digressions in Homer, as discussed by Austin 1966. For a recent discussion of the expansion techniques inherent in Homeric discourse, see Russo 1994. An awareness of the importance of time in the dispensation of material in Homeric discourse may also serve as a necessary modification of Auerbach’s discussion (1953: 3–23) of Homeric style as essentially concerned with detailed description. See also Chapters 5 and 8 below on the principle of expansion in Homeric discourse.

4 For vision and visualization as prominent features of Homeric poetics and psychology, see Bakker 1993b: 15–25; 1997a. The visual quality of epic discourse in general is discussed by Fleischman 1990a: 265–66, who focuses on medieval Romance epic (Chanson de Roland, El Cid). More on eyewitness poetics in Homeric epic in Kannicht 1988: 11–12.

5 Often characterized in Homer with terms built on the verbal root τρεκ- (cf. Latin torqueo): ἀ-τρεκές ‘unswerving’ or ‘exact’, ἀ-τρεκέως ‘exactly’, and the abstract noun ἀ-τρεκείη ‘accuracy’ (e.g., Hdt. 4.152). Significantly, this term is frequently used in combination with καταλέγειν ‘give a full, catalogic account’, mostly in the formulaic line ἀλλ’ ἄγε μοι τόδε εἰπε καί ἀτρεκέως κατάλεξον ‘but come on, tell me this, and give a full, exact account’, a verse that, as often with metalinguistic terminology, is more frequent in the Odyssey. On catalogic accounts, see below. For the difference between visual perception and the account of it in speech, see also Ford 1992: 75–76, with formulations very similar to the terms used here.

6 Rubin 1995: 39–64. Imagery is for Rubin one of three major constraints on memory in the recall of discourses in oral traditions, the other two being theme and sound.

7 See the discussion of consciousness and speech in Chapter 3 above. The perception of pictorial representation has long been a topic of interest in psychology; cf. Buswell s discussion (1935) of remembering in terms of perception, used by Chafe in his analysis (1980: 15) of speech and consciousness.

8 See also Fleischman 1990a: 273.

9 See on this subject Fowler 1991; Becker 1992; Krieger 1992, with more citations, ancient and modern. The term “linearization” is borrowed from Levelt 1989: 138–40.

10 Important points have been made by Latacz (1977: 75–81) in a discussion that successfully collapses the traditional distinction between single combat (the concern of the ἄριστοι ‘best fighters’) and mass fighting (the work of the λαοί ‘soldiers’).

11 For discussion of this passage see Latacz 1977: 98, with the references cited there; Ford 1992: 78, who mentions the similar passage Il. 17.257–61.

12 Note the higher incidence of epic correption in character speech, as observed by Kelly (1974), which I take as a phonetic property of unmetered, ordinary speech.

13 See Rubin 1995: 101–8.

14 Cf. also Il. 5.703; 16.692. See Beye 1964: 352, who discusses the τίvα δ’ ὒστατοv passages in connection with Il. 2.488, 12.176, cited above; see also De Jong 1987: 49–50.

15 On poetic beginnings see Race 1992. On the use of πρῶτος ‘first’ and other superlatives in connection with questions to the Muses, see De Jong 1987: 47–49, as well as below On beginnings and starting points see also the next chapter.

16 Krischer 1971: 158: “Wenn λέγειν generell das zusammenstellen einer Klasse bedeutet, das Präverb κατα- die Gründlichkeit oder Vollständichkeit des Vorgangs bezeichnet und der punktuelle Verbalaspekt andeutet, daß der Gegenstand vom ganzen her erfaßt wird, dann heißt κατα-λέγειν offenbar ‘klassifizierend darstellen’.” Krischer also makes the important point (1971: 132) that since καταλέγειν is only used of characters in the poem, and not of the activity of the poet himself, we have to assume that it was not confined to epic poetry, and “daß die Voraussetzungen des epischen Stils in gewissen Konventionen der Umgangssprache jener Zeit zu suchen sind.” Such a remark is indeed close to the spirit of the argument of this book. On καταλέγειν, see also Kannicht 1988: 12–13.

17 See, for example, Thornton 1984: 11, 26, 33–45, 148–49 (on the meaning of οϊμη ‘path’, on which see also Nagy 1996: 63 n. 20 for a different interpretation); Thalmann 1984: 124; Kannicht 1988: 10–12; Ford 1992: 40–48; Rubin 1995: 62. The notions of path and movement are of course not confined to Homer; see Hdt. 1.95.1, 117.2; 2.20.1, 22.1.

18 Notice that the dimension of space has important implications for memory and recall that have been documented not in the context of the (re-)performance of epic but in the theory of classical rhetoric, in the form of the doctrine of the loci ‘places’; see Yates 1966:1–8. Rubin (1995: 57–59) makes a distinction between object (descriptive) imagery and spatial imagery, citing evidence for neurophysiological differences between the two. Rubin’s distinction would seem to coincide with the opposition between time and space I am making here.

19 Koch and Oesterreicher, in a fundamental discussion (1985: 23) of the parameters involved in the linguistic treatment of the differences between spoken and written language, speak of Prozeßhaftigkeit (of speech) vs. Verdinglichung (of writing). In modern linguistics, the distinction also lies at the basis of one of the more common differentiations of semantics (what a sentence means, is about, with “proposition” as crucial term) from pragmatics (the way in which a sentence is used, as utterance). See also the discussion of making, using, and doing in Chapter 7 below.

20 Schol. ap. Dionysius Thrax, p. 62 H (cited by Ruijgh 1971: 135): καλεῖτῷαι (ὀ “δέ” σύν δεσμος) δὲ καί μεταβατικός · ἀπó προσώπου γάρ είς πρόσωπον ἢ ἀπό πράγματος είς πρᾶγμα μετα-βαίνοντες αύτῷ κέχρηνται πάντες ‘It (viz. the conjunction δέ) is also called stepping-over: it is commonly used when making a transition from character to character or from event to event.’ Ruijgh (1971: 128–3 5) bases the “transitive value” which he assigns to δέ on this characterization.

21 See the discussions in Bakker 1990b: 4–6; 1993b: 11–15; 1997b. In Bakker 1993c, Homeric use of δέ is contrasted with the quite different (though not unrelated) functions and uses of the particle in later, Attic Greek. Klein 1992 is a corpus-based study of the conjunctives τε, καί, and δέ in Iliad 1, from an Indo-European perspective. Kleins findings, pointing to δέ as “the primary means of signaling discourse continuation in Homer” (26) and the cause of an idiom “nearly free of asyndeton” (49), is in agreement with the ideas put forward here.

22 Cf. Lambrecht’s observations (1987) to the effect that in spoken French, lexical (i.e., nonpronominal) subjects tend to occur in nonagentive, intransitive sentences (cf. the example in the next note), whereas agentive clauses (featuring the activity of a topical protagonist, see below) tend to be expressed by means of pronouns.

23 A clear instance of the distinction is also Il. 16.464–65, where the agent, Zeus, effects an event (he breaks the string of Teukros’s bow) whose description requires descriptive clauses with their own subject (“and the arrow swerved off course, and the bow fell from his hands”). The narrative is not concerned with the arrow and the bow as such but only as grammatical subjects in clauses describing an event. Ammann (1922: 343–35) notes that such transient subjects tend to follow their verbs.

24 See Chafe 1994: 66–67 on the difference between events and participants in the activation of a story. See also Chafe 1994: 53–56, on activation states; see also Chapter 5 below.

25 Topic is frequently described as that part of the sentence “about which” something is said, or the part of a sentence containing the old information, as opposed to the new information elsewhere in the sentence, which is called the focus (e.g., Dik 1989: 264–65; Slings 1992: 106). fn keeping with the conception of speech presented here, I prefer a more processual, less sentence-bound account of topics, in which they tend to be more clearly marked if a switch or transition occurs in the flow of speech. See the discussion of the particle δέ as a topic or boundary marker in Bakker 1993 c. See also Bakker 1993b: 12 and below. Extensive discussion of topic as a matter of greater or lesser continuity in a discourse in Givòn, ed. 1983.

26 See also the sustained series of ό δέ and αύτάρ ό in H. 20.455–89 (456, 460, 469, 472, 474, 481, 484, 487) with which the narrator tracks Achilles as the agent in this scene, returning to him after the description of each new killing.

27 Notice that in post-Homeric Greek the use of δέ tends to be more and more confined to discontinuous topic situations; the particle develops an increasingly tight bond with the demonstrative ό (which virtually does not occur on its own anymore, as it still does in Homer). The particle δέ thus tends to become a topic marker; see Bakker 1993c: 293–95.

28 See, for example, Labov 1972; Hopper 1979; Hopper and Thompson 1980; Dry 1983; Thompson 1987; Fleischman 1989. See also Bakker 1991.

29 A particularly clear statement of this is Hopper 1979: 215–16.

30 See also the discussion of the allegedly backgrounding particle γάρ in Chapter 5.

31 Compare this formulation with Auerbachs analysis of Homeric style (1953: 3–7) as back-groundless, continuously in foreground. The difference between the two accounts lies in my stressing the medial aspects of the narration, the act of observing and verbalizing, whereas Auer-bach is concerned with the objective representation of the phenomena described.

32 One could point to the use of the imperfect here, as the verbal form that is appropriate to actions that are off the time line (see, e.g., Hopper 1979).

33 Kirk’s treatment (1990: 117) of ἀγκῶvα … μέσον in unit e as the object of βάλ’ in unit a is a clear example of the sentential analysis of Homeric discourse that I am arguing against. On the problems with treating nouns in Homer as the object or subject of their verb, see Chapter 5 below.

34 Cf. Fleischman’s analysis (1990a: 273) of the description of a similar though less realistic slaying in Chanson de Roland: “Passages describing the epic blow, like those describing many of the conventionalized gestures of epic action, are not intended to advance story time but to reveal the qualities of an agent.”

35 Notice the indication of the undifferentiated substance of the narrative (ἀvἠρ ἔλεv ἄvδρα ‘man took man’, cf. Il. 4.472) as well as the indication of spatial dimension (κεδασθείσης ‘had spread out’). The closure of this fighting catalogue at 16.351 (οὖτοι ἅρ ’ ἡγεμόvες Δαvαῶv | ἕλεv ἄvδρα ἔκαστος ‘so these leaders of the Danaans | each took his man’) has phraseology strongly reminiscent of the closure of the Catalogue of Ships (2.760).

36 On the epic poet as camera user see also Latacz 1977: 78. Latacz’s term Selektionssignale is instructive: a good example is the demonstrative adverb ἔνθα ‘there’, a marker frequently used in the movement from one killing-scene as selected item to the other. In Homeric discourse this element is often just as nonreferential and processual as δέ, with which it frequently combines. Cf. Il. 4.223, 473, 517; 5.1, 144, 159; 16.306, 337, etc. Some referential cases: Il. 2.724; 3.185, 426.

37 See also Beye 1964 and above all Latacz (1977: 83–84), who discusses πρῶτος as another Selektionssignal. As to the sequential ordering of events, if one wants to state unambiguously that there is a temporal sequence in story time, one has to introduce the clause in question with ἔπειτα δέ ‘and then’: ἔλε δ’ ἂνδρα Βιήνορα, | ποιμένα λαῶν, || αύτόν, | ἒπειτα δ’ ἑταῖρον, | ’Οϊλῆα πλήξιπ-πον ‘and he took a man, Bienor, | herdsman of the people, || himself, | and thereafter his comrade, | Oileus the horse-whipper (Il 11.92–93; cf. Il. 5.164; 16.229, 532–34; 17.64).

38 In fact, the prime marker of coordination in Greek (on any level: word, word group, clause, sentence) is καί, a particle that can be used in Attic Greek to lend a purposive simplicity and naivete to written texts (see Trenkner 1958). On the difference between δέ and καί, see below.

39 Cf. Il. 1.58; 7.314; Od. 5.366; Hes. Theog. 60. See also Bakker 1997b.

40 Beaman (1984: 47, 59, 60–61, 79) does not speak of continuation, but opposes the use of “and” in spoken English as a “filler word” to its use for sentential coordination; Halliday and Hassan (197b: 233–38) distinguish an additive use of “and” from a coordinative use, and state (244) that additive “and” is derivable from coordination proper (I would reverse this relation). On “and” in spoken English, see also Schiffrin 1987: 128–52; Chafe 1988: 10–12.

41 On δέ and καί, see Ruijgh 1971: 130–33; Klein 1992; Bakker 1990b: 5–6; 1993c: 280, 288–92. Notice that unlike δέ, καί is not a postpositive particle that signals an intonational boundary: it can equally well occur within units and at the boundary between units.

42 Neutralization of linguistic elements which are otherwise different is discussed in Bakker 1988: 14–18. In the case of δέ and καί, neutralization may occur when the need to use μέν (on which see below) prevents the automatic use of δέי and καί is used instead (e.g., Il. 5.344; 11.99; 22.274).

43 The connection between καί and κάς, and the derivation of καί from *κάς (< *κασί < *κατί ‘together’) is uncontroversial among historical linguists. See Ruijgh 1971: 180–82; Lüttel 1981. Furthermore, the original and central function of καί is that of an adverb with the inclusive meaning “also/too” or “even” (called a focus particle in Bakker 1988: 40–43).

44 On such doublets see O’Nolan 1978.

45 Note that this characterization does not apply to καί as scalar particle (in the adverbial sense “even” or “also”), a use that is not unrelated to the basic value of inclusion, but which has no direct bearing on speech as flow and process. On inclusive scalar particles, see Bakker 1988: 40–48, 75, 84.

46 See also the discussion of close-up in Chapter 5.

47 Cf. Ruijgh (1971: 134), who assigns to δέ the status of unmarked and to καί that of marked term in a privative opposition. The phrasing προἲει δολιχόσκιον ἒγχος (unit b of the following extract) occurs eleven times in the Iliad, only once (5.15) not followed by καί. See also 5. 97–98 and 11.375–76, where καί integrates the pulling of the bow and the subsequent hit.

48 See also the frequent expression στῆ δέ μαλ’ ἐγγὐς ίὠν και ἀκόντισε δουρι φαεινᾦ ‘stood close and threw the shining javelin’ (e.g., Il. 4.496).

49 See the discussion of this type of passage in Chapter 7 below, with the literature cited there.

50 See also Il. 12.10–11, where καί links Hektor’s life, Achilles’s wrath, and Troy’s safety into one complex fact: “So long as Hektor was alive and (καί) Achilles was angry and (καί) Priam’s city was undestroyed.”

51 See Risch 1969; Ruijgh 1971: 646. We may add that the suffix -δε in the proximal demon-strative όδε ‘this one here’ is probably also related to δή.

52 See, for example, Denniston 1954: 203–4: “The essential meaning seems clearly to be verily,’ ‘actually,’ ‘indeed.’ δή denotes that a thing really and truly is so: or that it is very much so.”

53 So already the accounts in the German grammarians (Kühner and Gerth 1904: 126–27; Brugmann and Thumb 1913: 630). Previous discussion on Homeric δή in Bakker 1993b: 11–12. See also the discussion in Van Ophuijsen 1993: 140–51, based on examples from Plato’s Phaedo.

54 See Denniston 1954: 208 for two examples of the collocation of δή and νώϊν.

55 Notice the linkage by καί of two closely related concepts. On αίδώς and νέμεσις, see Redfield 1994: 115–19 (on αίδώς and ἒλεος see Chapter 8 below).

56 On involvement see also Tannen 1985; 1989: 9–35.

57 See Bakhtin 1986: 68–70; Morson and Emerson 1990: 127–35. In linguistics the interaction implicit in a discourse is sometimes referred to as diaphony; see Kroon 1994: 111–15.

58 Gorgias, Hel. 9; Plato, Ion 535b-e; Longinus, De subl. 15; Quintilian, Inst. or. 6.2.29; as well as the scholia on Homer about ἐνάργεια ‘graphic vividness’ (on which see Zanker 1981). See, for example, schol. bT in Il. 6.467: ταῦτα δέ τά ἒπη οΰτως έστίν έναργείας μεστά, ὂτι ού μόνον άκούεται τά πραγμαΐα, άλλα και όραται. λαβών δέ τούτο έκ του βίου ό ποιητής άκρως περιεγένετο τή μιμήσει ‘these words are so full of enargeia that one not only hears the events but also sees them; taking this scene from life itself the poet brilliantly succeeds in his mimesis’.

59 Ford 1992: 55.

60 Chafe 1994: 32, 195–211. An earlier significant treatment of these matters is Bühler’s 1934 discussion of deixis, in terms of what he calls demonstratio ad oculos and deixis ad phantasma.

61 Among the devices commonly used are the historical present as a conversational strategy, spatial deixis, and above all the mimetic strategy of direct speech (impersonation).

62 See Vernant 1959; Detienne 1967: 9; Thalmann 1984: 147; Ford 1992: 53; Bakker 1993b: 17–19; 1997a. The nature of memory as discussed by these authors accords with the discussion of remembering (considered as an activity, not a thing) in Bartlett 1932. See the use made of him by Treitler (1974: 344–47) and Chafe (1994: 53, 145): remembering is not a mere reproduction of something past, the management of a mental archive, but an imaginative reconstruction of the past in the present. Bardett’s insistence on the similarity between memory and perception amounts to an experimental underpinning of the enargeia of Homeric discourse. See also the remarks above on imagery and perception.

63 Conforming to Martin’s insight (1989) that the speech of the poet is no less a muthos-speech act than that of the characters in the poem (where μῦθος is understood as “authoritative speech act”).

64 Other important evidentiality markers in Homer include the particle ἂφα and the verb μέλλειν, both marking conclusions of a speaker based on the evidence of the physical surroundings, and thus characterizing Homeric discourse as activated, realized in the present (see Bakker 1993b: 16–25; 1997a).

65 The passage is an example of the three-times motif (τρíς μέν), a sure sign of impending failure and doom and therefore an effective suspense-creating device. See Bannert 1988: 41–57; Fenik 1968: 46–48. Notice the remarkable and recurrent use of apodotic καί in this kind of passage (see also, e.g., Il. 1.494; 16.780; 18.350). In the extract cited, the segmentation amounts to the alternation of what Chafe (1994: 63–64) calls “regulatory intonation units” (άλλ’ δτε δή, και τότε δή) with two “substantive intonation units,” resulting in two balancing pairs. Units like και τότε δή ‘and then’ or αύτάρ έπειτα ‘and thereafter’ regulate the flow of discourse or interaction rather than being part of it. As Chafe notes (1994: 64), regulatory intonation units are shorter than substantive ones, but may also be expressed as parts of larger units.

66 Sometimes (e.g., Leaf 1900–1902 on Il. 1.340 and 13.260) δέ as a weak form of δή is distinguished from the real δέ, an entirely gratuitous practice resulting from the interpretation of cases in which it is hard for us to translate δέ with “and” or “but.”

67 Cooperation is always implicit in the presentation of epic narrative in the performer’s assessment of the audience s attention, and the ensuing decision either to continue or to break off the performance session. The sensitivity of Demodokos’s performance to social context in Odyssey 8 comes to mind here. See also Radlov in Chadwick and Chadwick 1932–40: 3:184–85; Lord 1960: 16–17. See also Chapter 6 on the performance of American folk preachers.

68 See Denniston 1954: 359, 369; Ruijgh 1971: 197–99, 741; Bakker 1993c: 298–305; 1996b.

69 Ruijgh 1971: 741; 1981; Klein 1992.

70 As Denniston (1954: 360) thinks. Other cases of μέν at the beginning of speeches include Il. 13–47; 9.308–10 (Achilles’ great speech to the embassy): χρή μέν δή τον μῦθον άπηλεγέως ἀποει-πεῖv ‘clearly this speech of yours has to be rejected outright’. Cf. also Hes. W&D 109, 111 (the beginning of the Five Ages of Man); notice also the category of inceptive μέν at the beginning of tragedies or of speeches in tragedy (Denniston 1954: 382–84).

71 See also Bakker 1993b: 12–15.

72 Notice that the dialogic nature of μέν is confirmed by its frequent collocation and virtual interchangeability (Ruijgh 1981) with ήτοι (displaying a transparent etymology in ἦ + τοι: affirmative particle + dative of the second person pronoun). For a particularly clear example of the collocation, see Hes. Theog. 116: ἢοι μέν πρώτιστα Χάος γένετ’ ‘well then, first of all there was Khaos’, the beginning of the theogony proper, after the proem. Visser (1987: 146–48) shows that the semantic affinity between the two particles can be exploited for purposes of versification.

73 This is the treatment proposed in Kühner and Gerth 1904: 268 for such cases.

74 See also Il. 1.191; 4.491; 8.119, 302; 15.430, 521–23; 17.609–10; 20.321–22; 21.171. The usage is not confined to Homer: see Hdt. 9.111.1.

75 See Il. 8.125–26; 11.426; 20.458–60 (with αύτάρ ό instead of ό δέ). On such cases, see also Bakker 1993b: 12–13; 1993c: 304–5·

76 Similar digressive cases are Il. 2.101; 14.446–47; 16.402–4 (discussed in Bakker 1993b: 4–13); 16.789 (see Chapter 5 below); 20.463 (see Chapter 5).

77 To be sure, contrasts that are coordinated by μέν … δέ are not absent in Homer (e.g., Il. 20.462: τὸν μέν δουρί βαλών, τον δέ σχεδόν ἂορι τύψας ‘hitting the one with the spear, stabbing the other from nearby with the sword’), but such examples are not so much the central use of the particles as a special case of the wider phenomenon described here.

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