"Odysseus employs the divine authority and enchanting poetic voice which he appropriates from the Sirens” Bellum? Is it possible that the winner of musical contests gets the right to use the loser’s song? Is that how the muses became the Pierides?
“Heroes keep trying to prove to themselves that they belong somehow to a world of immortals, but, after all is said and done; heroes only end up proving that they deserve to die for trying.”H24H 20:63 Nagy
As I mentioned in the last posting that I consistently flunk the hourly quizzes for the Harvard on-line course I am taking. I reviewed all the old quizzes and essays. It ends up I always answer the questions from a secular prospective rather than the perspective of a pious 5th century BC Athenian. Great! Another example for my ongoing research in the inappropriateness of secular interpretation of Greek myth and I’m the example! It is as if I was studying the New Testaments and when quizzed about the parables I responded as if the Lord was actually talking about sheep. Ugh! Maybe I learned my lesson. I got a 96% on the quiz for Hour 20.
I also witnessed a great discussion between Douglas Frame and Gregory Nagy about the symbolism of horse racing. Famously in the Iliad Nestor gives a long speech on the strategy and tactics of winning a horse race to his son. This is towards the end of the “the first, best thing” at Patroclus’ funeral. Nestor’s advice involves a washed out place on the course where the younger man could force a strategic advantage over other competitors. Nestor also discussion in great detail turning the post for the return trip You know rein in the left horse, let the right horse fly, don’t turn to soon, not too wide…. Next thing you know the charioteers are galloping off, and then returning with no discussion of “turning the post”. Also we discover that when Nestor was the age of his son, he won all the contests at a similar funeral, except the chariot race. At the finish line the typical debate about the prizes breaks out and the young man’s trick at the washed out spot is argued. So, let’s see Nestor is no charioteer to advise on turning the post and there is no talk about his son turning the post. If you keep reading what you hear in the debates about the prizes is his son reins in this passion at the correct moment and then lets them flew when the moment is right. Apparently Nestor's advice had nothing to do with horses. Nagy argues that "turning the post" is the moment we learn something or is the moment of initiation. We learn something by the time we get back to the finish line, we grow and mature or else we are doomed to repeat the course over an over until we crash and die, like Hippolytus who refused to grow up. In further discussions with Claudia Filos, Nagy points out that tragedy starts with Hippolytus’s initiation into the Eleusinian mysteries. Gee! I guess he failed that one too! I hope my 96% proves I didn’t!