Achilles’ Double ‘Greeting’ – “Iliad” 9.198/204

In Book 9 of the “Iliad”, while receiving the envoy group, consisting of five members (the three ambassadors – Phoenix, Ajax, Odysseus – and the two heralds - Odios and Eurybates), Achilles twice mentions the word φίλτατοι (“the most dear friends”, at 9.198 and again at 9.204), which I call figuratively Achilles’ double ‘greeting’.[i] Although the embassy scene, in particular, 9.182-98 – with several dual forms - has been interpreted numerous times (for bibliography cf. [Schadewaldt, 1966: 137-8], [Lesky, 1967: 103-5], [Page, 1959/1976: 297-315, 324-35], [Segal, 1968], [Gordeziani, 1978: 73-80], [Nagy, 1979/1981: 47-55], [Griffin, 1995: 51-3]), in the process of a careful and detailed study of the text a few questions still arise, mostly unnoticed or underestimated by scholars till now; some of these questions and their answers are discussed below.

1. While analyzing the oddities within the embassy scene, at 9.182-98, Homerists try to explain the main problem - why Homer depicts the five person envoy group by means of the dual verbs and personal pronouns. Meanwhile, they are not able to adequately explain (cf. [Stanley, 1993: 352]), or actually leave unnoticed, the two plural verbs, which are used by Homer within the dual constructions. The first verb (εὗρον, at 9.186a) might be explained that this is a formula (cf. τὸν δ᾽ εὗρον, at 1.329a, with the verb in the plural, as well [Hainsworth, 1993: 87, n. 186-7]); however, the second verb (στὰν, at 9.193a) might not be explained in the same way (cf. στήτην, at 1.332a, with the verb in the dual and not in the plural): the plural στὰν is left without any comment by B. Hainsworth (cf. [Hainsworth, 1993: 88-89 n. 192, 193]), and J. Griffin, from the traditional Unitarian position, obviously simplifies the problem (cf. [Griffin, 1995: 98-9 n. 186, 99 n. 192-193]) - perhaps, as a result of it - supposing, that “[t]he approach of the envoys is described in a way which clearly suggests that they are only two in number” ([Griffin, 1995: 52]; however, the plural στὰν, in my view, indicates the opposite, see immediately below.) Thus, how might it be explained the plural στὰν, at 9.193a, immediately following the depiction of the embassy as - τ δὲ βάτην προτέρω, ἡγεῖτο δὲ δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς (“But the twain came forward and goodly Odysseus led the way”), at 9.192, which includes the two dual forms (τὼ and βάτην), and then, again, the same plural στὰν (“they took their stand”), again followed, at 9.197-8, by Achilles’ dual greeting of the embassy?

In my view, the case under question, as well as other ‘oddities’ observed in the present paper, does not result from the “mishandling” of a stock type-scene (cf. [Louden, 2002: 72]) presenting “an undigested” fragment of an earlier or alternative embassy (cf. [Hainsworth, 1993: 87]), but instead, the plural στὰν at this point indicates ‘clearly enough’ that, according to Homer, the embassy standing in front of Achilles, at 9.192-3a - unlike in 9.182 - was divided not into two, but already into three units: 1) two heralds, 2) two ambassadors, Ajax and Phoenix, and 3) Odysseus, standing nearer to Achilles than the others, so being separated from them (but cf. [Köhnken, 1975: 35]; cf. also [Nagy, 1979/1981: 53 §16n3]). Achilles, therefore, first addresses in the dual (χαίρετον and ἱκάνετον, at 197a) the whole group as two units, heralds and ambassadors (cf. [Gordeziani, 1978: 77-9]); this is the official and, still, ‘neutral’ greeting of the whole embassy as both mouthpieces of Agamemnon [i.e., two heralds] and friends [i.e., three ambassadors] of Achilles (cf. [Edwards, 1980: 17]; cf. also: “[…] this embassy contains not merely the inconsequential heralds, but respected fellow-warriors and the aged Phoenix, who is almost a fosterparent. Achilles, then, is caught between his response to the embassy qua official legation and his response to the embassy qua old and dear friends” [Segal, 1968: 108]). Next (ἐστον, at 198b), Achilles addresses again in the dual only the principals as two parties, which have emerged among the three ambassadors: Odysseus, who has separated himself by taking the lead among the envoys, at 9.192b, and Ajax and Phoenix who are behind Odysseus (cf. [Thornton, 1978, 2-4]). In this way, perhaps, Homer ‘prepares’ his audience to the next scene, in which the ambassadors alone without heralds will ‘negotiate’ with Achilles in the plural (cf. the plural ὑπέασι, at 9.204, on which see below, Question 2), but, already at this point (9.198), the using of the plural number seems impossible, due to creating the impression that the “inconsequential heralds” are as close friends to Achilles, or in the same way appreciated by the host, as his old tutor and the two “great heroes” (cf. [Segal, 1968: 108-10], cf. also [Griffin, 1995: 52]). The above-said might have been the reason why the envoy group, at 9.197, is called by Achilles ‘simply’ “truly friends” (ἦ φίλοι), while already in the immediately following line, at 9.198, the “truly friends” is transformed into “effusive” (cf. [Hainsworth, 1993: 89 n. 197-8]) “the most dear friends (φίλτατοι) of all the Achaeans”:  if there was no particular reason (and I believe the reason to be the above-stated need to distinguish - for his audience - in a 'smooth' and unnoticed way the ambassadors from the heralds; but cf. also [Gordeziani, 1978: 79]) Homer would have easily depicted Achilles’ greeting of the embassy more clearly, or directly mentioning the envoys by their titles (at least as ambassadors and heralds, if not by their names) and besides, in the plural number, as it is in the case of the heralds in Book 1 (cf. the two heralds, at 1.334-5, been greeted by Achilles in the plural; on why it happens, see below, Question 4: d). The plural στὰν, at 9.193a, therefore signifies not ‘real’ plurality, but so-called virtual, or imaginary (cf. G. Nagy designating the phenomenon as “elliptic plural” [Nagy, 1979/1981: 55-6 §20n6]), depicting the embassy of the five envoys not as: A(person 1) + A(person 2) + A(person 3) + A(person 4) + A(person 5), but instead: A(two heralds) + B(two ambassadors) + C(Odysseus, leading these two units of a single deputation). The above-said, as it seems to me, is matched exactly by John Flaxman’s (1855-1926) famous illustration, “The Embassy to Achilles”, which I include here. (“The conventions of [archaic Greek] iconography do not clearly reveal early understandings of the [embassy]” [Hainsworth, 1993: 87].)

2. Why it happens that “the most dear friends” (φίλτατοι), used, at 9.198, with the dual verb (ἐστον), is repeated after 6 lines, at 9.204, again referring ‘the same’ envoy group, but this time, it is used with the plural verb ὑπέασι (for another reason of the plural ὑπέασι, at 9.204, being also significant cf. [Griffin, 1995: 52]); so, what might have been Homer’s intention, if any?

My argument is the following: in both cases - as at 9.198 (see above, Question 1), so at 9.204 - Achilles is referring only to the three ambassadors irrespective of the two heralds, whereas through the transition from the dual number (9.198) to the plural (9.204) Homer, perhaps, intentionally demonstrates that the ‘mixed’ scene with both ambassadors and heralds, at 9.182-98, gives way to that with ‘only’ ambassadors, at 9.199-655 (cf. also [Gordeziani, 1978: 79]); now, I will try to prove this above argument. M. W. Edwards and B. Hainsworth share W. Arend’s observation that sometimes the elements of arrival and visit scenes may be mixed [Arend, 1933: 34-35, 54] and, therefore, two [Edwards, 1975: 55, 62-67] or even three [Hainsworth, 1993: 84-85 n. 182-225, 87 n. 185] type-scenes are mingled. Edwards demonstrates in detail that when the embassy is standing in front of Achilles, at 9.193a, the messenger-arriving scene switches to that of receiving the guest, since instead of delivering their message as messengers, the envoys stand silent as guests, waiting to be welcomed and invited in by the host (cf. [Edwards, 1980: 16-17 n. 41]). However, in my view, here we deal with not so much a ‘mistake’ of the oral poet, (i.e., with the unconscious mixing of two type-scenes by the poet), as Homer’s ‘awareness’ that the embassy consists of not only ambassadors, but heralds as well (see above, Question 1; cf. also [Hainsworth, 1993: 85 n. 182]): according to the messenger type-scene, the deputation must take the initiative and enter Achilles’ dwelling; however, Odysseus, who at this point (9.192b) is already leading the embassy, understands that approaching further, or too close to Achilles, and delivering their message without his permission may cause the mission to fail (“Odysseus makes a significant adjustment to Agamemnon’s original message” another time, as well,  at 9.299-306, “by failing to repeat Agamemnon’s reaffirmation of social superiority over Achilles (IX 160-161)” [Nagy, 1979/1981: 51-2 §14]). So, the deputation, who perhaps have already entered the dwelling, stands silent ‘in front’ of the host (cf. 9.193a), possibly in or next to the doorway (at the point from where the ‘leading in’ - cf. ἄγε δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς - at 9.199, still makes sense). Consequently, in the immediately following passage (at 9.193b-8), Achilles sees them with surprise, as the host usually does in this type-scene, and greets the embassy. Although this address is already an element of the new, guest-receiving type-scene, obviously, the host still greets the whole envoy group (i.e., not only the ambassadors, but the heralds, as well), which at 9.192-3a stood ‘in front’ of him, or he addresses all five persons together, although divided into three units (see above, Question 1). This address, at 9.197-8, as we know, is in the dual. According to Hainsworth, „[...] there is a minor inconsistency between στὰν [δὲ] πρόσθ᾽ αὐτοῖο [“and they took their stand before him”] (193) and προτέρω ἄγε δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς [“goodly Achilles led them in”] (199)“ [Hainsworth, 1993: 87 n. 185]; and again, in Hainsworth’s view, “[...] no less odd is the disappearance of the dual after [9.]198” [Hainsworth, 1993: 85 n. 182]. However, I disagree: the above “minor inconsistency” and “no less odd[ity]” is a clear trace of the transition from the both ambassadors and heralds arriving scene to that of receiving only ambassadors; this transition is realized through Achilles’ extraordinary greeting, first - both the ambassadors and the heralds, at 9.197a and afterwards, at 9.197b-8, only the ambassadors (see in details above, Question 1). The above-stated complexity from its side might be caused by two reasons: a) an intentional parallel between the two embassy scenes (1.327-48a and 9.182-204…) has been already drawn (cf.: [Boll, 1919 and 1920], [Segal, 1968: 103-8], [Lohmann, 1970: 227-231], [Gordeziani, 1978: 75], [Edwards, 1980: 17 n 41]); thus, the poet does not ‘need’ the heralds, perhaps, until the return of the embassy: the plural γένοντο, at 9.669 (in the absence of Phoenix, thus, only the two ambassadors remaining), obviously, indicates the presence of heralds ([Gordeziani, 1978: 76; cf. also 9.656-7]. b) Only the ambassadors negotiate with Achilles (the heralds just listen and inform Agamemnon after returning; cf. 9.688-9). Thus, at 9.199, a new scene - with ‘only’ ambassadors - starts, which uses the plural verb ὑπέασι, at 9.204b, followed by plural verbs constantly.

3. However, even taking into consideration the above-said, the transition from the ‘mixed’ scene to that with ‘only’ ambassadors seems somehow odd.  Is it possible to find any evidence that Homer demonstrates this transition more ‘clearly’?

The dual greeting scene, at 9.197-8, is followed by the plural (cf. ὑπέασι, at 9.204b) leading in and seating motifs (9.199-200), depicted by a sentence attracting our attention with a syntactic peculiarity that the object, or who is led in and seated by Achilles, is missing (cf. ἄγε, at 9.199 and εἷσεν, at 9.200); but at 24.553 and 24.577-8 the same verbs (ἵζε, εἷσαν, ἄγαγον) are used in the same context with objects (μ᾽, κήρυκα καλήτορα). The above ‘oddity’ is usually left without any comment by scholars (cf. [Hainsworth, 1993: 89-90 n. 200]). In various translations, the absent object is translated to the word “them”, but whom might be understood as being “them”? As it seems to me, the word προτέρω (usually understood as an adverb with the meaning “further” or even “in”), at 9.199b, taken as a dual adjective, and, thus, with the meaning “the front [i.e., the leading] pair” (of envoys) might well depict the object of the sentence under question (perhaps unable to understand the sense of the “front pair”, D. Page, quite surprisingly, translated the προτέρω as “the pair of them forward”, i.e., as both object and adverb, at the same time: “[w]ith these words he [i.e., Achilles] led the pair of them forward” [Page, 1959/1976: 298]): at 9.199-200, Achilles “leads in” and “seats” only the ambassadors (ὣς ἄρα φωνήσας προτέρω γε δος χιλλεύς, / εσεν δ [...]), who might well be understood by Homer as the “front pair” of two pairs (the back, or posterior, pair 1: the two heralds; and the front, or anterior, pair 2: the virtual pair consisting of the three ambassadors – Ajax and Phoenix, on the one hand and the leader, Odysseus, on the other). Since the transition from the dual to the plural coincides with the transition to the scene with ‘only’ ambassadors, (i.e., already irrespective of the heralds) - by means of Achilles’ twice expressed ‘ecstatic’ gratitude (cf. φίλτατοι, at 9.198 and, again, after six lines, at 9.204; cf. also [Louden, 2002: 70]) to his friends, (i.e., the three ambassadors) - Homer ‘clearly’ demonstrates that when the envoy group is understood as consisting of both principals and heralds, it is addressed in the dual (with a partial exception that of the lines 198-9, due to the ambassadors and the heralds still been ‘undivided’ from each other); and when Achilles communicates only with ambassadors, he starts to address them in the plural (but cf. [Nagy, 1979/1981: 54-5 §20]). In my view, this might mean that the dual number, at 9.182-98, really depicts the embassy consisting of two units, ambassadors and heralds, both, indeed, taken into consideration by the poet; thus, the duals at 182-98 are imaginary, virtual ([cf.: Chantraine, 1958: 27-8; Thornton, 1978: 1; Gordeziani, 1978: 77-80], but cf. [Edwards, 1991: 134-5 n. 735], [Hainsworth, 1993: 86 (4)], [Griffin, 1995, 51]; and cf. also [Janko, 1994: 363 n. 370-1], in whose view, “[… t]his could be a dual replacing a plur., a usage possible at […] 9.i82ff., certain at HyAp 487 and recognized by Zenodotus”, but cf. again, [Gordeziani, 1978: 75], [Hainsworth, 1993: 85 n. 182 (1)], and [Griffin, 1995: 52]: “[… a]nd besides, there simply are too many dual forms in immediate succession for this account to be credible”). This also means that the envoy group - depicted by the virtual dual - consists of at least three persons, and not only in the present text, but in the previous version(s) they were at least three, as well (for further details see below, Question 6; cf. also [Louden, 2002: 75]); thus, the three envoys again being depicted by the same type of dual, (i.e., virtual). Immediately below, the issue is observed in details.

4. According to B. Hainsworth, “[t]he duals [at 9.182-98] survive from an archetype (cf. “delegation type-scene” [Louden, 2002: 75]), in which they were grammatically appropriate. […] discreditable to the poet though it may appear” ([Hainsworth, 1993: 86 (6)]; on the oddity of the duals in the Homeric poems cf. also [Hoekstra, 1969: 28]). However, the duals within both embassy scenes (1.327-48a and 9.182-204…) are mixed with the plural forms: εὗρον (1.329), προσεφώνεον and ἐρέοντο (1.332), χαίρετε (1.334), ἴτ᾽ (1.335), ἔστων (1.338); εὗρον (9.186), στὰν (9.193), ὑπέασι (9.204), and others following 9.204. If “[…] the duals of 182-98 reflect an archetype […]”, or even “[…] an earlier or alternative embassy”, and Homer “[…] improves an embassy of two heralds […] to one with two major heroes besides, to one also including Phoenix […]”, then, the above-listed plurals, perhaps, is the result of the poet „improving“ duals into plurals “to adapt theme to context” (cf. [Hainsworth, 1993: 86-87]). If this assumption is correct, then, the question arises (cf. [Nagy 1979: 54 §18], but cf. also [Nagy 1979: 54 §19]; and cf. [Gordeziani, 1978: 74]): was it so difficult for a poet of the final version of 9.182-98 – if there was a real need for it - to convert the rest of the duals into plurals, as well; or is there a clear pattern present, which is mostly unnoticed by Homerists till now?

As repeatedly mentioned above, in the present, or final, version of the poem the duals, at 9.182-99, depict not ‘real’ duality, (i.e., an envoy group consisting of two persons), but virtual (see above, Question 3); for a certain reason (due to an intentional parallel between the two embassy scenes - 1.327-48a and 182-204… - drawn by Homer), these duals depict more than two persons and they are understood by the poet consciously as divided into two compound units, or the virtual pair. This becomes evident from the plural forms of nouns and adjectives, used, at 9.182-99, with the dual forms of verbs and personal pronouns: if these nouns and adjectives were depicting the real duality and not the virtual duality, (i.e., not many, or not more than two, envoys), then – like verbs and personal pronouns - they would be in the dual, as well [Gordeziani, 1978: 79-80]. (This argument is usually unnoticed even by the vast majority of Unitarian Homerists; cf.: “186 εὗρον. A plural form, immediately following the dual ἱκέσθην; so too 195 φῶτας [“men”]. Such combination, or confusion, is not uncommon: […]. The dual was no longer alive for the Ionian singers, who sometimes seem to regard its forms as simply alternative plurals which might serve a metrical function” [Griffin, 1995: 98-9 n. 186 εὗρον].) Thus, as it appears, there was no need at all of converting the duals under question into plurals, since these same duals, used in the archetype, already had the virtual function. If it was otherwise, why did the poet change into plural only the nouns, the adjectives, and the verbs εὗρον and στὰν, however, not the rest of the verbs and the personal pronouns, as well?! Thus, already in the archetype the envoys, perhaps, were at least three in number and by no means two. As for the plural verbs at 9.182-99, they are only two, but differ from each other: the plural στὰν, at 9.193a, - unlike the plural nouns and adjectives, at 9.182-99 - depicts the virtual plurality (cf. the dual στήτην, at 1.332, depicting the real duality); however, the plural εὗρον, at 9.186, - like the plural nouns and adjectives, at 9.182-99 - depicts the virtual duality (cf. ‘the same’ plural εὗρον, at 1.329, depicting the real duality, or the two heralds, and cf. also the same case with the προσεφώνεον and ἐρέοντο, at 1.332 – on why it happens, see immediately below, e). The latter may be explained through the well-known Homeric principle, plurals for duals (cf.: [Noe, 1940: 13-16], [Burkert, 1976: 8 n. 12], [Griffin, 1995: 52]), revealing, however, a clear pattern (my following observation is based on parallel scenes of the heralds in Book 1 and the embassy of Book 9; as for the whole Homeric corpus, further research is needed, which surpasses the scope of the present paper): a) the verbs and the personal pronouns in the dual can express both the real duality and the virtual duality; whereas the nouns and the adjectives, when used in the dual, can depict only the real duality [cf. Gordeziani, 1978: 79-80]. b) The nouns and the adjectives in the plural with the dual personal pronouns and verbs express only virtual duality and not real duality (φῶτας – “men”, at 9.195, but cf. δύο φῶτε – “two, or the pair of, men”, at 5.572 and 5.608; φίλοι ἄνδρες, at 9.197 [Gordeziani, 1978: 80]; φίλτατοί, at 9.198). c) The plural verbs can depict not only the real plurality, but virtual, as well (στὰν, at 9.193a). d) If the verb is in the imperative mood, even the real duality cannot be expressed by a dual verb, and the subject, which is two in number, is understood as ‘simply’ “you two” and not “the both of you” (ἴτ᾽, at 1.335; Ὀδίος τε καὶ Εὐρυβάτης ἅμ᾽ ἑπέσθων, at 9.170 – even with ἅμ᾽, with the sense "together", but not "both of you"; unless the duality is emphasized and thus, the subject is understood as: “both of you”, as it is the case with the dual χαίρετον, at 9.197 – “welcome to the both of you [i.e., as to the ambassadors, so to the heralds]”), however, if with noun or personal pronoun, any of them is also in the plural (χαίρετε κήρυκες, at 1.334 and ὑμεῖς ἔρχεσθε […] ἀπόφασθε, at 9.649), but if at the same time with noun and emphasized personal pronoun, the latter is in the dual and the noun, still, in the plural (τ δ᾽ ατ μάρτυροι ἔστων, at 1.338); however, if with personal pronoun, which is not emphasized, and participle, both in plural (ὑμεῖς μὲν ἰόντες […] ἀπόφασθε, at 9.421-2a). e) some ‘active’ verbs, which depict, let us say, simultaneous, or synchronic, action even in the indicative mood cannot take the dual form to express either real, or virtual duality, unless duality, or the simultaneous action of two subjects, is emphasized (thus, the following are in the plural: εὗρον, at 9.186 = 1.329, with the meaning “to see”, “to notice”, and προσεφώνεον, ἐρέοντο, at 1.332; οὗτοι δ᾽ γγελέουσι, at 9.617, but cf. the duals - βάτην, at 1.327=9.182 and 9.192, ἱκέσθην, at 1.328=9.185, ταρβήσαντε καὶ αἰδομένω, at 1.331, στήτην, at 1.332, ἴτην, at 1.347, ἱκάνετον, at 9.197, ἐστον, at 9.198); if προσεφώνεον and ἐρέοντο were put in the dual, they would mistakenly mean that both heralds were afraid and ashamed to speak and ask Achilles at the same time, simultaneously, whereas ταρβήσαντε and αἰδομένω put in the dual means that both heralds were scared and ashamed of Achilles at the same time, simultaneously. Thus, the duals under question and several plural forms within them are not the result of mishandling of the previous embassy version by the oral poet, since they present a clear, although somewhat complicated, pattern. However, the Analytical and the most of the traditional Unitarian interpretations fail, as well: the plural nouns clearly reveal (see above) that (not only in the present version of the embassy scene, but also in previous versions) the envoys were - at least - more than two. Besides, the explanation of both the Analytical and Oral Theories cannot be regarded as convincing, since this is not, by any means, what we expect either from an extremely careless interpolator or ‘even’ a not genius oral poet to handle the previous version so inaccurately, transforming from the dual to the plural only the nouns and adjectives, and the two verbs, leaving the rest of the verbs and personal pronouns in the dual; this moment was somehow underestimated, till now. That is why I regard the most convincing traditional Unitarian approach to be that of R. Gordeziani: not taking into consideration how many parts the embassy is divided into (two or more), whether or not led by anyone (but cf. [Thornton, 1978]), and finally, is the embassy proceeding into Achilles’ camp, or standing ‘in front’ of him (or it is, even, returned back to Agamemnon; but cf. [Gordeziani, 1978: 79]) all the same it is, still, available for the poet (when a ‘composing’ reason arises, as in 9.182-98, but unlike in 9.171-81) to consider the whole embassy as a virtual pair: heralds and ambassadors (cf. [Gordeziani, 1978: 77-80]). Understanding of this moment, perhaps, might have given the impetus to Homer to depict the five-person envoy group in the dual ‘grammatically correctly’ (cf. [Nagy, 1979/1981: 55-56 §20n6], but cf. [Boll, 1919 and 1920]), with the intention to balance the two embassy scenes - those in Book 1 and Book 9 – and thus, to stress clearly both the thematic correspondence and difference between them (cf. [Lohmann, 1970: 227-31]; still, however, pursuing the traditional line that the duals are 'real' and not virtual, referring only Ajax and Odysseus: this leaves unexplained why Homer might have 'forgotten' not only Phoenix, but the two heralds as well). Taking into account this 'combined' approach, all the oddities, which, according to the Analytical theory, concern the duals of 9.182-99 appear actually not existing; however, in the process of present observation a new inconsistency - although less obvious - has been ‘discovered’ (see immediately below).

5. The discovery of the above-mentioned new inconsistency is linked with finding out whether or not the reference of the formula, or repeated, τὼ δὲ βάτην (“But the twain came”) - at 9.182a and then, again, at 9.192a - is changed?

According to B. Hainsworth, “the plural εὗρον ([9.]186) and the interlude [9.]186-91 hardly justify the change of reference of the repeated τὼ δὲ βάτην” [Hainsworth, 1993: 86 (5)]). More simply said, so far as the “τὼ δὲ βάτην” is formula (cf. 9.182a = 9.192a) and by means of it, at 9.182a, the whole embassy is depicted, we expect the whole embassy to be depicted at 9.192a, as well (cf. the whole embassy, at 1.327a, is depicted, again, by the similar formula – “τ δ ἀέκοντε βάτην”) and not just a part of the envoy group. So, let us discuss the issue under question in details: if the envoys are five, then the only possible way to conceive them at 9.182, as depicted by the dual, grammatically correct, is that the embassy is divided into ambassadors, on the one hand (Φοῖνιξ μν […] ᾽Αἴας […] Ὀδυσσεύς, 9.168-9) and into heralds, on the other (κηρύκων δ […], 9.170 [Gordeziani, 1978: 77]), i.e., the division is 2 heralds + 3 principals. (The division into 1 + 4, i.e., the leader and the rest of the embassy [Thornton, 1978], at 9.182-5 is less plausible - since within these lines it is not indicated that the embassy was led at that point by anyone – and it is completely impossible at 9.192, for the plural verb στὰν, immediately at 9.193 - unlike the dual στήτην, at 1.332 – perhaps indicates, that at 9.192 the division of embassy has already changed: now the envoy group consists of three units – 2 heralds + 2 principals + 1 leader, i.e. Odysseus - and not of two, as previously, at 9.182-5; and as it is in the first embassy scene, at 1.327-32, as well.) Thus, the ἡγεῖτο δὲ δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς (“and goodly Odysseus led the way”), at 192b, leaves Odysseus out of the embassy (cf. [Nagy, 1979/1981: 54 §16 n3], but cf. [Köhnken, 1975: 35; 1978], meanwhile both of them, perhaps, leaving ‘unnoticed’ the existence of the two heralds within the envoy group at this point): the embassy, which is again depicted by τὼ δὲ βάτην, however, includes only four envoys, at this point, in particular, two pairs, (i.e., Ajax and Phoenix, on the one hand and Odios and Eurybates, on the other). Thus, the ‘formula’ 2+3 (τὼ δὲ βάτην) - depicting, at 9.182, the whole embassy, or all the five persons, - at 9.192, is altered into another ‘formula’, depicting only four envoys: 2+2(τὼ δὲ βάτην) + 1(ἡγεῖτο δὲ δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς); thereby the reference of the repeated τ δ βάτην, finally, appears to be changed.

6. How can we explain the “process of formula change” (cf. [Lord, 1960: 130]), and the “addition[ ] or alteration[ ] made in a text already fixed in writing” (cf. [West, 2011: 391]), causing a break in the formulaic structure of the present embassy scene and how, again, this breach might have been avoided in the previous, perhaps, oral and shorter version(s) of the Homeric “Iliad”?    

If “the process of formula change”, according to A. B. Lord (cf. “When and how, then, does the "literary" technique start? […]” - [Lord, 1960: 130]), is more or less ‘standard’ for the so-called ‘written’ version(s) (which I, actually, consider as the transitional stage from the oral to the written communication process; cf. [Khintibidze, 1992]), the same process should by no means have been taking place in the previous oral version(s). So, this just observed moment, perhaps, reveals that the present version might have been changed - by Homer himself - in the ‘written’ stage. In my view, at least to some extent, intelligible understanding of how the present version’s changed reference of the repeated τὼ δὲ βάτην might have been avoided in the previous, oral, version(s) would have provided to us with some necessary evidence for ‘reconstructing’ these version(s). This above moment, as it turns out, has not been taken into consideration by B. Louden, whose “analysis […] suggests that the composer is working from a delegation type-scene in which the expected participants are Odysseus, his herald, Eurybates, and a person dear to Akhilleus whom the other two are conveying. In Book 9 this is Phoenix, parallel to Briseis in Book 19, and Khryseis in Book 1” [Louden, 2002: 75]. If we consider Louden’s restored version of the previous embassy from our preliminarily-stated angle, we will see that the formula (τὼ δὲ βάτην) is, all the same, changed; I mean the following: if at 9.182 the duals were depicting the herald (i.e., Eurybates), on the one hand, and on the other, the two principals (i.e., Odysseus and Phoenix), then, at 9.192b, the fact of Odysseus taking the lead, creates, all the same, a third unit of the embassy and the formula (τὼ δὲ βάτην) depicts only one herald and one ambassador (Phoenix). That is why, I think the members of embassy should be ‘slightly’ different, in particular, as it is observed by Ch. Segal in his famous article (however, what Segal attributes to the present embassy scene [Segal, 1968: 104 and 108-14], as it appears, might be more appropriate to the prior versions): two heralds and Odysseus - the other two ambassadors, Ajax and Phoenix, not yet included in the deputation, unlike the present version. Thus, in the previous version, reconstructed here, both before Odysseus takes the lead (at 9.182) and after (at 9.192) the reference of the repeated τὼ δὲ βάτην should remain unchanged; in both cases (9.182 and 9.192) the formula (τὼ δὲ βάτην) refers to: 2(heralds) + 1(Odysseus, whether or not he is leading the way). Have we any additional evidence, which might support my above assumption? Taking into consideration 19.140-1 (cf. 19.194-5; cf. also [Khintibidze, 2012]), I think the answer might be positive; however, it requires still further discussion.


[i] The present article is an elaborated and slightly modified version of my paper – “Towards the Interpretation of Homer’s “Iliad” - 9.198” - read at the International Conference – “Topical Issues of Ancient Culture and Its Heritage” – 23-27 September 2014 at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia.


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