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Odysseus, ingestive rhetoric, and Euripides' Cyclops.

There is an ancient tie between the feast and the spoken word.

M. Bakhtin

If Odysseus has a sophistic and mercenary bent in tragic depiction, comic fragments suggest that he also comes to be associated with greedy, all-belly figures. (1) W. B. Stanford has noted this evolution in Odysseus's character, connecting his later profile as a glutton to his food-oriented arguments in Iliad 19 and especially to his focus on the belly's needs in the Odyssey. (2) But neither Stanford nor other scholars have considered that Odysseus's attention to the fair portion in the Iliad and to the belly's urgings in the Odyssey might especially mark the persuasive style of this circumspect, hungry hero; nor have they associated Odysseus's fair-sharing attitudes in Homer with the sophistic type he plays in tragedy, where his persuasive tactics tend to incorporate both the aggressivity of the hungry man and the calculating civility of the politician. (3) While the more fully extant depictions in epic and drama do not portray Odysseus as greedy, his strategies often betray a focus on the fair sharing that ideally governs both the dinner table and the persuasive setting. (4) This distinction between the greedy feaster and his calculating counterpart is important in ancient hospitality scenes, the proper handling of which involves both equal apportionment and genial persuasive tactics. However obvious the connection between the needy guest and the glutton may be (the one being the intemperate extention of the other), in archaic and classical depictions Odysseus usually embodies either the diplomatic presence who promotes the orderly influences of the fairly apportioned feast, or the hungry, bartering type who is sensitive to practical need. Only rarely is he a creature of excess, tending instead to recognize the potential for rapacious violence in others. His pragmatic, expeditious strategies for insuring that his (and his companions') needs are met stand in explicit contrast to the aggressively gluttonous attitudes of the suitors in the Odyssey, the grim cannibalism threatened by the mourning Achilles in the Il iad, or the gleefully profligate ingestion of the Cyclops in Euripides' satyr play.

This pragmatic outlook does, on the other hand, contribute to the fifth-century perception of Odysseus's type as utilitarian rather than noble and, therefore, sometimes as mercenary and calculating. His beggarman's bartering techniques and his use of the sea-trader's disguise in the Odyssey, together with his exchange-oriented attitudes in the Iliad, suggest that the wandering hero had been associated from early on with an expedient practicality. Indeed, in fifth-century representation both sophists and seamen are frequently portrayed as displaying this mercenary bent, which conforms with the fact that archaic and classical depictions tend to denigrate the type who trades goods or skills. In Odyssey 8, for example, Odysseus treats as a gross insult Euryalus's assumption that he is a sea-trader, although elsewhere (e.g., Book 14) he disguises himself as this type. Tragedy traces such connections more emphatically and negatively: in the Philoctetes, Odysseus's use of the sea-trader (emporos) figure to deceive t he wounded hero further associates his character with mercenary expediency and indirection. (5)

The bartering Odysseus also employs stylistic strategies that involve a similar attention to pragmatic exchange. Capitalizing on the familiar rituals of apportionment, Odysseus sometimes associates himself with charisdeserving heroes, thereby reaffirming the well-balanced and deserving qualities of his own character. (6) The Philoctetes plays represent a more negative strain of this tradition, highlighting Odysseus's capacity for lying, and showing how his aggressive techniques became allied with sophistic strategies and (occasionally) a rapacious brutality. In oratorical set speeches, Odysseus uses similarly aggressive tactics, turning the tables on his opponents by appropriating their character types and techniques and sometimes projecting his own negative profile onto them. (7) Elsewhere in the tradition, depictions of the orator's style in verbal contestation tend to highlight more consistently the excesses that underlie such aggressive techniques, although these often also include some form of character appropriation or projection. Odysseus himself ultimately emerges as the milder type of greedy sophist, one whose aims are more practical than overweening and whose tactics are more often appropriative than voracious.

Euripides' Cyclops captures a key interaction between these character types in the connections it forges between gluttonous ingestion and sophistic trickery. In this Dionysiac context the gruesomely voracious Polyphemus shows a penchant for an elaborate rhetorical style, while a hungry and trade-oriented Odysseus ultimately thwarts him. Odysseus appropriates the giant's sophistic tactics and encourages the monster in his solitary greed by arguing against precisely the ritualized fair sharing that marks the hero's own typical focus. While scholars have tended to regard Odysseus's character in the Cyclops as quite heroic, both the monster and the hero manifest in their appropriative rhetorical maneuvers an aggressive sophistry that reduces men to meat, and fine talk to deceptive barter. In treating the monstrous Polyphemus as the greedy sophist that Odysseus then mirrors in the dolos scene, the play refracts and interrogates Homeric and tragic scenes that portray Odysseus as a calculating, mercenary type.

In the discussion below, I first situate features of Odysseus's signature style in the context of poetic depictions that associate eating and speaking, in order to demonstrate how the argument and imagery of appetite coalesce in conventional settings around ideas of excess and/or deceit. I then consider how the Cyclops responds to these conventions, particularly as they shape Odysseus's techniques. Polyphemus's sophistic response in the supplication scene effectively reconstitutes Odysseus's arguments, while the necessities of his solitary komos call for an inversion of the famous preoccupations of the fair-sharing Odysseus.

Hungry Talk in Archaic Representation

The greedy kings of archaic poetry, who feed on the people and their goods, clearly transgress the careful fair sharing that should organize communal rituals. Their greediness extends from their bellies to their governing strategies, which include how they speak in disputes (e.g., [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] cf. ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Op. 22O-21). (8) Agamemnon is the most famous example of this kind of rapacious, verbally aggressive leader. In Iliad 1, Achilles depicts him as an inveterate grabber of others' fair allotments, while the king himself snaps angrily at those who challenge him and repeatedly leaves the diplomatic Odysseus to defend his greed. Other figures in archaic depiction show a tendency to be driven by their bellies, but often out of a need to fill them rather than from an unfettered gluttony. Poets and storytellers fall into this category: Hesiod's all-belly shepherds ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Theog. 26) and Odysseus in the Odyssey both suggest a connecti on between the belly's demands and speaking to please. There, as elsewhere, the idea is that appetite will drive the indigent man to flatter and deceive. In Hesiod, the Muses insult the narrator as a prelude to their announcement that they may lie, and to their conferral of the poet's staff and inspired voice. Their patronage is thus couched in terms that warn him against the excesses and deceits that naturally tempt such voluble types. The figure of the hungry, needy poet also turns up in Hipponax (e.g., Frags. 32, 34, 39, 42 W), as does that of the greedy man, whose violent belly ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and rude eating style ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) render him a fit target for stoning (Frag. 128 W; cf. 118 W). (9)

The beggar-storyteller in the Odyssey repeatedly excites an awareness in his interlocutors of the trade-off between the good meal and the good story, which may involve the worry that such characters will say anything for warm food or a thick cloak (e.g., Od. 14.127-32, 362-65, 395-97, 508-17; 17.415-18, 559-60). The belly takes on an ominous presence in the language of the beggar and those who confront him (e.g., Od. 17.228, 502, 559; 18.2, 53-54), suggesting not only that it is a spur to deceit but even that it may spoil those very rituals that are meant to sate it (Od. 17.2 19-20) and thus lead to destruction. (10) For instance, as the beggar Odysseus and Eumaeus pause before the hero's own halls, he declares that he can smell and hear that feast and song are being enjoyed within (17.269-71). But then he notes ominously that the gaster is irrepressible ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 286) and drives men to war. The belly's urgings thus not only provide the genial context for song, they may also threat en its rituals. The scene suggests dangers in the connections between eating and speaking (or singing) that go beyond the image of the lying beggar-poet. While the greedy suitors consume the hero's wealth and menace his philoi verbally, the belly of the scheming Odysseus also urges him to violence.

The most pointed intersection of violent feasting and aggressive speaking occurs in the exchange between Odysseus and Antinoos in Book 17. The beggar initiates the confrontation by calling on the ritual trade-off that should govern the aristocrat's response to the hungry man. "Give, friend," Odysseus says, "since you do not seem to me to be the worst of the Achaeans, but rather the best" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 17.415-16). He then assures the would be giver that he will receive in return, since as beggar-poet he will sing the aristocrat's praises throughout the lands ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 17.418). When Antinoos responds harshly, Odysseus remarks that his temperament does not match his noble form ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 17.454), which earns him a blow from a footstool, a piece of furniture that is typically brought out for guests of high status (e.g., Od. 1.131; 10.367; 17.409-10). When brandished by the haughty Antinoos, the stool reinforces not only the contrast between his stature and his ignoble type, but also the violent potential of his greedy arrogance. (11) Instead of the peaceful fair sharing of food and well-balanced words, the scene is marked by physical and verbal aggressivity, in which the request for an alimentary gift is answered by a "gift" of quite another sort. Antinoos insultingly reconstitutes the fair exchange invoked by Odysseus as the beating that beggarmen deserve. (12)

In the Odyssey in general, eating is a cause for concern in that it is frequently hard to come by, and it ultimately drives Odysseus to sing for his supper in a number of dining scenes. In the more outlandish settings, eating tends to involve some kind of threat, transgression, or need for careful negotiation. Many of the adventures that Odysseus relates to the Phaiacians in the Odyssey include dangerous types of eating: the ill-advised feasting after the Kikonian battle, the lethe-inducing Lotus Eaters, the cannibalistic Cyclopes and Lastrygonians, and the transmogrifying kukeon of Circe. Perhaps most crucially, transgressive eating also drives the narrative of the deadly Cattle of the Sun, the significance of which episode the poet signals at the opening of the poem. But neither these scenes, nor those in which the beggar-poet tells his tales for food, depict Odysseus arguing for fair exchange in a formal persuasive setting. Instead his responses to the necessities and dangers of eating include flattery, fl ight, trickery, and careful circumspection.

In the Iliad, Odysseus occupies a more diplomatic role, one that emphasizes the normal (and normalizing) rituals of hospitality and exchange in the face of Achilles' angry isolation. (13) The calculating henchman who encourages adherence to communal ritual is actually less concerned with eating per se, and more with the meal as a medium for group cohesion. (14) Odysseus's repeated emphasis on the fair portion has rhetorical as well as social implications, and centers around his struggles with Achilles. Odysseus tries to persuade Achilles twice (Il. 9.225-306 and 19.155-83, 216-37), both times deploying the imagery of fair sharing. As a member of the embassy to Achilles in Iliad 9, Odysseus begins by filling Achilles' up with wine and greeting him; he remarks on the food they have enjoyed together and sketches the pleasures of such shared repasts (9.225-29). (15) Achilles would enjoy the same pleasures at Agamemnon's table, Odysseus asserts, thereby sharing the concept of the balanced, fitting feast ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) between the two leaders. Either man's tent would welcome guests with strength-suiting meals ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (16) This is, of course, precisely the balanced exchange that Odysseus will claim Agamemnon is prepared to offer Achilles; he emphasizes the king's gifts as eminently suited to Achilles' stature and offered in exchange for his anger (e.g., [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 9.261; [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 9.299).

In Book 19 Odysseus attempts to persuade Achilles to eat (and allow his men to eat) before returning to battle. His speech is punctuated by references to sustenance (e.g., [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 160) and body parts; (17) he visualizes the hungry versus the sated body on the battlefield, comparing the ability of each to fight. Echoing his well-mannered proem from the earlier speech, Odysseus asks now that Achilles allow similar appeasement, so that he might not lack his due [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], l79-80). (l8) The rituals of apportioning food and drink and dividing spoils are again closely associated by Odysseus, now as fulfillment of his earlier speech's promise. Here he focuses attention on the ability of sustenance to embolden the heart [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 169) in a manner that is healthier--both physically and emotionally--than the morbid fire that feeds Achilles' fury. (19)

Achilles' response deserves some brief consideration here, in that it shares some interesting features with the Cyclops's response to Odysseus in Euripides' play. Achilles declares that he would rather fight immediately than eat, and in bitter tones he links the division of food to the "divided" bodies of the Greek dead, and especially to that of Patroclus [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 211). (20) He swears that no food or drink will pass down his throat while his friend lies unavenged; he is focused instead on killing, carnage, and the anguished groaning of men (214). That is, rather than employ his own mouth for eating, Achilles causes the mouths of others to emit cries of despair, as in a kind of emotional cannibalism he feeds his grieving heart on their slaughter. (21) His response thus transforms the ritual apportioning of meat into an act that savagely repeats the dismemberment of human bodies by the enemy. Odysseus counters by representing this grim exchange of Trojan for Greek corpses as a mism atch of dead and living bodies, which fatally ignores the necessary feeding of one's own belly. He argues that a warrior quickly has his fill of battle [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 221), and that the troops should not mourn the dead by fasting [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 225). Answering Achilles' imagery of retributive dismemberment with that of war's deadly harvest, Odysseus emphasizes that the only balance that humans may effect is the alimentary kind--a sharing of strength while Zeus ultimately mans the scales (221-24). Soon after this exchange, the narrator describes how instead of sharing food with the Greek leaders, Achilles mourns his friend (315-37) while they all stand witness, his heart unassuaged until he enters "the mouth of bloody war" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 313). This gruesome image is matched by Achilles' own oral savagery: after voicing grief for his friend, he arms himself, gnashing his teeth ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 365) and raging for Trojans ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 367).

This second formal exchange between Odysseus and Achilles highlights in more morbid terms the interaction between two uses of the mouth: ingestion and the emission of sounds (especially those of lamentation). Both exchanges, then, link speaking and eating, but the latter exchange shows Odysseus responding to Achilles' bloodthirsty equations with the imagery of apportionment, opposing the reaper's grim compensation to the cannibalizing warrior's feast of bodies. This scene in particular demonstrates how two powerful speakers may employ an appropriative and combative alternation among oral activities, which also structures the exchanges between Odysseus and Polyphemus in the Cyclops.

Rapacious Tongue-Wagging in Classical Representation

Fifth- and fourth-century writers invigorate the connection between speaking and eating in order to portray a certain kind of public character: the rapacious, violent, sophistic politician. Pindar employs imagery that allies immoderate eating and speaking, when he characterizes the slanderous speaker as a snappish, greedy type who "fattens" himself ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Pyth. 2.56) on envious talk. (22) Although Pindar's depictions of such speakers predate sophistic influence, Odysseus is one of the central characters who displays this oral aggressivity. Odysseus is singled out by later tradition as the Homeric hero who engages in mercenary sophistic strategies; Pindar's portrait of him "biting" and "skewering" Ajax with his arguments as if the latter were a side of beef ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE N ASCII], Nem. 8.23) directly foreshadows the representation of his character as the rapacious sophist. For this kind of speaker, words are a "tasty treat" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 8. 21); his envy of his betters is manifested by the relish with which he engages in blaming speech. (23)

In fifth-century drama, one of the most notorious examples of this type is the Cleon character in Aristophanes' Knights. In a transparent series of metaphors for Cleon's putatively aggressive, voracious, and violent attitude toward the demos, the demagogue "Paphlagon" expends most of his energy yelling and eating. A latter-day version of the greedy kings of archaic poetry, Cleon is depicted as intent on consuming the city's citizens and its wealth alike. His rapaciousness extends to words as well: whatever he eats--as he himself claims--gives him the power to argue in the food's most suitable idiom (e.g., eating fish makes him swear like a sailor: [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Eq. 352-55). Both Paphlagon-Cleon (a tanner by trade) and his opponent the Sausage-Seller contend that their abilities to swallow down food and drink, spew out venomous prose, and violently flay their enemies make them best suited to run the city. (24)

The image of the rapacious politician was also employed in oratory. Aeschines and Demosthenes both make use of imagery that connects the opponent's speaking style with his salesmanship and his appetites. (25) They charge each other with being sophists and logographers, that is, those who write for pay (e.g., Aeschines 2.180, 3.16; Demosthenes 19.246, 250; 18.276), and each suggests that the other treats his body as something to be sold (e.g., [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Aeschines 2.23; Demosthenes 18.131, 262). Demosthenes places more emphasis on how Aeschines has sold his vocal talents in both the theater and public speaking, while Aeschines suggests that Demosthenes' oral activities extend to even more debasing practices (2.23, 88). Aeschines' profligate tactics, according to Demosthenes, also include excessive imbibing and physical force; Demosthenes tells a story in which Aeschines, while drinking heavily, beats a well-born female captive to induce her to sing (19. 196-98). (26) The portrait Demo sthenes presents of his enemy thus associates his booming voice and flowing speaking style [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 19.207) with slander, bribe-taking, violent revelry, and a generally mercenary attitude toward his own mouth. Demosthenes himself emerges as a moderate, careful, even timid speaker (e.g., 19.207); reputedly a teetotaller (6.30; 19.355), he represents his speaking style as equally adhering to this measured oral mode. In response to these insulting contrasts, Aeschines represents Demosthenes as a high-pitched squawker (2.157) and calls him a kinaidos, a term that encapsulates the kind of soft, degenerate life he repeatedly charges Demosthenes with living [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 2.88; cf. [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 2.99 and [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 2.151). Both orators attempt to divest themselves of these associations, and to foist onto each other their debasing connotations, a rhetorical maneuver in itself aggressively defamatory. (27)

We may also consider Callicles from Plato's Gorgias, the brutal, daring sophist with whom scholars have associated Euripides' Cyclops for his hedonism and lawlessness. (28) In a discussion that treats pleasure as "filling up" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Callicles declares that he is "speaking freely" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 491e6) when he argues that it is unnatural to rein in one's pleasures. Socrates responds wryly that he certainly is speaking freely [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 492d2), since he is arguing in such a bold manner; and he requests that he not "let up in any way" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 492d4). Callicles accordingly persists in his support of unchecked pleasure, and soon claims that to live happily is to have "as much as possible flowing in" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 494b2; cf. 491e5-92a3). This inspires Socrates to compare the life he envisions to that of the "torrent bird" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIB LE IN ASCII], 494b6), who eats and excretes simultaneously. He inquires whether Callicles means that one should always eat when hungry and drink when thirsty, and even scratch when itchy--a low-brow example that wins Socrates the label of "mob orator" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 494d1) from the irritated sophist. Ultimately Socrates likens this voracious style of living to that of the kinaidos (6 [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 494e4). This final comparison apparently shocks Callicles, and he asks Socrates whether he is ashamed to bring up such examples. Since the kinaidos in particular is a figure of weakness and excess, the comparison is useful for countering Callicles' equation of unchecked pleasure with happiness. The young man's "free" and dashingly aggressive style only highlights the problems with the open-mouthed pleasure he advocates: that any pleasure in excess (even speechifying, perhaps) is morally and often also physically degrading.

Odysseus's character, while it suffers some equally degrading associations in literary representations of this period, is not usually depicted as quite so excessive. Calculating and mercenary, he keeps his appetites and rhetoric both firmly in check, in the service of his good reputation. This careful calculation does not, however, prevent others from characterizing him as a rapacious, poisonous, and aggressive foe. He receives the most bitter condemnation of his talents in Euripides' Trojan Women, when He-cuba discovers that she has been allotted by the Greek leaders to serve Odysseus. Hecuba connects his duplicitous tongue([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) with a ravenous criminality ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])and depicts the tricks of his speechifying in phrases that sound like charges levelled at the sophists (e.g., [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 285-86). In tragedy Odysseus repeatedly receives the moniker panourgos, a label that associates an omnivorous inclusivity with profligacy ( that is, "all-doing" becomes "evil-doing"). (29) In rhetorical set pieces the label is one that Odysseus projects onto his opponents as a means of divesting himself of this slander; (30) we might also note here that he charges the equally sophistic Polyphemus with panourgia in the Cyclops.

Like the Trojan Women, Sophocles' Philoctetes depicts Odysseus as firmly wedded to this aggressive sophistic mode. He urges Neoptolemus to "play the sophist" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 77), a main aspect of which is deploying a negative version of his (Odysseus's) character as a means of deceiving the wounded hero (64-65). Accordingly, in the third episode of the play, after Neoptolemus has convinced Philoctetes that he himself is also an enemy of Odysseus and therefore trustworthy, the "merchant" and Neoptolemus embark upon a performance that casts Odysseus's character in a grim and violent light, as per the orchestrator's own instructions. For instance, Neoptolemus asks whether Odysseus's men intend to lead him back to Troy by force or persuasion ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; 563), the same question that frames Odysseus's treatment of Philoctetes ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 592; cf. 618-19). The merchant also abuses Odysseus to Philoctetes, calling him [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCI BLE IN ASCII] and "one who hears all sorts of shameful and slanderous words" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 607-08); and he puts words in the mouth of Odysseus that make him appear brutal. He claims, for instance, that Odysseus declared that he would stake his own head for Philoctetes' return, which echoes the bold threat the hero had used to menace the hideous but glib Thersites in the Iliad (618-19; cf. Il. 2.259). (31) Earlier in the play Philoctetes had depicted Odysseus as "touching all slanderous talk and profligacy with his tongue" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 407-08); now he responds to the merchant's provocative portrait with outrage, terming Odysseus "a thorough harm" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. 622). (32) He then declares that he "would sooner hear that the most hated serpent" were to take him ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 631-32) than that Odysseus lurked somewhere nearby.

While a few tragedies cast Odysseus in a milder, more Iliadic role--that of the strategist who promotes balance and fair exchange--they also indicate an awareness of the caustic effects of his tongue. (33) Sophocles' Ajax in particular traces the emotions aroused by Odysseus's speech. The chorus of Salaminian sailors imagine bitterly his whispered report ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 148) of Ajax's downfall as he ranges through the troops; they also warn against the secret tales ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 188) and the raving talk ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 198-99) that Odysseus seems to incite. Although Odysseus ends up defending a fair and fitting burial for the hero once he is dead, while still alive Ajax chafes at the thought of Odysseus disseminating slanderous reports. When Ajax's vision clears, he moans in horror as he imagines the pleasure this "keen-eyed tool of evil" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) might get from his downfall (379-82). To the suffering hero Od ysseus is a wheedler ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 388) and an irritant ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 381, 389). Similarly, the chorus in Euripides' Hecuba points out that the arguments of Odysseus--that "sweet-talking, crowd-pleasing wrangler" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 132)--persuaded the Greek army to sacrifice Polyxena at Achilles' tomb. While Odysseus's arguments all revolve around the visible display of honors to suit the status of the warrior, his overly clever rejection of Hecuba's pleas and his craven recoiling from Polyxena's supplicatory touch call to mind the mercenary traits attributed to the sophists.

What we have, then, in these portraits of Odysseus and other aggressive sophistic types is a series of overlapping associations that range from the violently ravenous, snappish wrangler to the diplomat bent on a careful (but often grasping) apportionment. Most of the imagery suggests some connection between sophistic speechifying and either appetite or calculating trade-offs--the one sometimes clearly represented as the excessive extention of the other. The mouth and its neighbor organs together serve as the metonymic focus for many of these associations, with the depiction of its immoderate uses suggesting a fundamental confluence between rapacious habits and verbal abuse or trickery. While essential Homeric distinctions between the heroic aristocrat and the clever salesman still linger in the fifth-century imagery, these are frequently complicated by the recognition that neither may have a very firm hold on moderation. In the Cyclops, Odysseus and Polyphemus each embody one end of this set of connections: t he hero shows a shrewd concern for fair sharing, and the monster counters with a gluttonous aggression that envisions his interlocutor as a tasty meal.

Sophistry and Supper in the Cyclops

In his commentary on Euripides' Cyclops, Richard Seaford highlights the anomalies of the satyric context by clarifying the nastier details of Polyphemus's culinary habits and by keeping track of how Euripides' text responds to the Cyclops scene in Odyssey 9. (34) In his introduction Seaford remarks on Polyphemus's sophisticated rhetoric in the supplication scene, arguing against Ussher, who thinks Polyphemus a simple country cannibal, but rejecting Paganelli's suggestion that his character reflects a kind of Gorgianic (and Sicilian) decadence. (35) David Konstan has emphasized the triangulation of Polyphemus, Odysseus, and Silenus around food, arguing that Polyphemus is not really a cannibal--insofar as he does not eat his own kind--and noting that Silenus does not eat at all, being a figure symbolic of the komos and Dionysiac celebration. (36) But Euripides certainly depicts the Cyclops as if he were some form of cannibal, and this is an important aspect of Odysseus's supplication of him. The monster is, as Konstan notes, also entirely ignorant of symposiastic custom (i.e., of both wine and its divinity). (37) In alimentary terms he thus precisely opposes the satyrs; and insofar as the satyrs serve as the representatives of the genre, Polyphemus would seem to embody its inversion. (38) But the Cyclops's penchant for gnawing on human flesh is ultimately supplemented by his equally voracious gulping of wine, which makes him a would-be symposiast--giddy with drink and ready for love. The fair-sharing table (dais eise) that Odysseus promoted in the Iliad and that turns up in this play as his attempt at barter is thus offset first by the Cyclops's engorging of his guests and then by his lonely komos, as the monstrous reveler swallows down wine with abandon, with the satyrs pressed into service as his reluctant entertainers.

Mikhail Bakhtin has argued that depictions of character centering around a gleefully aggressive, omnivorous consumption embrace an open-mouthed attitude toward the world in general. According to Bakhtin, this attitude has its roots in the ancient symposium, where gustatory and garrulous urges might both be accommodated. The ingestive body was also a talking body, the exchange of food and conversation or jests constituting a tactile communication with, or absorption of, the world around one. (39) For Bakhtin, the vitality of this omnivorous attitude signals an irreverent revolt against elevated representations of the body as noble in form and unified in its parts. (40) So debasing a part as the belly, for example, could not be depicted among the uniform glories of the noble body. The laughter of ancient satyric depiction focuses in on precisely these ignoble parts-and especially on those included in what Balthtin terms the lower bodily stratum. (41) Writers of both satyr plays and satire describe the grotesque body in piecemeal fashion, with its most disreputable parts foregrounded especially when being beaten, abused, denied, or threatened with a dismemberment that reiterates the representational scheme. (42) The rhetorical ploys of the greedy character thus intersect schematically with his all consuming interest in his belly's satisfaction, the activities of speaking and eating creating a counterpoint between aggressive verbal strategies and the threat of cannibalism. Bakhtin himself points to ancient precedents for this grotesque physique, including the satyric Odysseus. (43) Odysseus's association with both the gaster and the verbal glissades of the smooth talker similarly forges connections between uses of the mouth. Euripides' Cyclops in particular centers around rituals of speaking and eating (or transgressive combinations thereof), with the witty and voracious Cyclops as Odysseus's challenging host. (44) Polyphemus himself is the violent extention of this satyric Odysseus, his open-mouthed attitudes clearl y etching a type similar to what Bakhtin describes.

The imagery of grotesque ingestion surfaces almost immediately in the play. As Odysseus and his men approach the cave of Polyphemus, Silenus announces their arrival as "approaching the Cyclopian jaw" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The very setting appears voracious, (45) and Silenus matches this metonymic image of Polyphemus's cannibalism with a comment that Odysseus and his men approach with empty vessels. Odysseus, when he arrives on stage, affirms that the Greeks are both thirsty and hungry. His entrance is thus structured by references to consumption; he brings with him on stage the belly's demands, in which emphasis he is matched only by Polyphemus and his yawning cave. Before the monster arrives, Odysseus inquires about how the Cyclopes stand in relation to guest-host rituals ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), to which Silenus archly replies, "They say that strangers have the sweetest flesh" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 25-26). Silenus is thus the first to report the Cyclops's moc king perversion of the rhetoric of xenia (in which Odysseus excels), foreshadowing the monster's techniques in the supplication scene. When Odysseus discovers that the Cyclops is away from the cave, he barters for the meat and dairy products that constitute Polyphemus's standard diet, offering Silenus his own favorite sustenance, wine. Douglas Olson (1988) has argued rather ingeniously that in so doing Odysseus effectively brings Dionysus on stage with him, and thereby embodies the trader-pirate in whose captivity the god languishes. Odysseus's role would thus also recall the more brutal players in the merchant-seaman stories he deploys so cleverly in Homeric epic and Sophoclean tragedy.

The exchange between Odysseus and Silenus is followed by the chorus leader's cynical questioning of Odysseus about the Trojan War, in which the former takes up an attitude that again foreshadows that of Polyphemus. The juxtaposition of this discussion of the war to the mockery of guest-host and bartering language denigrates it as a waste of time carried out for worthless people. Minus the tense ambivalence that surrounds it in tragedy, the Trojan War emerges as merely one more mercenary scenario that recontextualizes the Homeric Odysseus in the negative manner that is familiar from oratorical set pieces and, in fact, from tragedy. Earlier in the Cyclops, in a phrase that echoes those uttered by both Ajax and Philoctetes in Sophocles' plays, Silenus had referred to Odysseus as a "poisonous chatterer" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 104; [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Frag. 913; [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]', Rhes. 498). In this next scene the coryphaeus further undermines Odysseus's statu s as a war hero by deriding the war prize. He echoes the tradition of Helen's susceptibility to glitter, reiterating Hecuba's characterization of her in the Trojan Women as bedazzled by Persian riches (991-92) and, as Seaford notes, humorously refracting lyric language to cast both her and Menelaus in the worst possible light. (46) Sandwiched in between the bartering over food and wine, the statements about the war revolve around debased bodies. Helen's own body is highlighted as one that attracts sexual abuse ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]', 180) (47) and Paris's as the overdressed one that fluttered her shameless heart (i.e., the paramour's body from lyric poetry, 182-85). (48) Menelaus himself is referred to dismissively as a "little man" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) who is nonetheless the best ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of the bunch (185-86). Thus when Odysseus declares at the approach of the Cyclops that the monster must be faced nobly and invokes his own former bravery in th e war, the chorus leader has already emptied the war record of its noble tenor and refashioned it to focus on physical debasement and bodily urges--a more suitable frame for the wily hero's reduced stature as the hungry barterer.

The focus on bodies and their ignoble treatment is sustained by Polyphemus. If this attitude appears to be a signature of the satyr play, both the greedy Cyclops and the mercenary Odysseus whose tradition I have traced above are well matched for heightening its resonance in the scenes that follow. When Polyphemus asks if pirates or robbers have been snatching his goods, Silenus devilishly introduces the Greeks as pirate types out to collar and eviscerate Polyphemus. The monster responds to the supposed light fingers of these "pirates" with the first of many detailed descriptions of his culinary techniques, envisioning how the villains will be snatched in their turn and thus make for fine dining (241-49). Odysseus intervenes and asks the Cyclops to hear "the strangers' part" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 253), thus calling attention to the give-and-take of properly conducted spoken exchanges. He takes this opportunity to describe the balanced exchange of food for wine that he transacted with Silenus, emphasizing its fair and contractual nature by repeating words and phrases for profit and trade ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 254-57), and by underscoring that it was entered into willingly and without force on both of their parts ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 259). He thus attempts to cast his and Silenus's activities as mercantile rather than violently heroic, setting aside his warring persona in favor of the good barter.

But like the chorus, Polyphemus wants to know Odysseus's identity and inquires about the Trojan War, dismissing Helen as the "worst of women" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 280) and the army as shameful ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 283) for going after her. Commentators note that Polyphemus knows the familiar (i.e., the tragic) line about the war, and that Odysseus's response somewhat ridiculously casts the motivation for the expedition as the ultimate piety, since he declares that it was carried out in order to insure the continued protection of Greek temples (285ff.). But because this argument is in fact aimed at establishing a crucial point of commonality between the Greeks and the Cyclops, it is important to take note of how Odysseus builds up to this claim, and why it is so central to his argument. Odysseus introduces this argument very formally and genially (cf. iliad 9), addressing the Cyclops as "child born from the sea god" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 286)--a familial con nection he had just gleaned from Silenus (262) (49)--and introducing the concept of the suppliant's right to free speech ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (50) In a grotesque inversion of the scenes from the Iliad in which he foregrounds the sharing of food as means of enacting community solidarity, Odysseus urges Polyphemus not to kill those approaching him as friends ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 288) and put this impious food between his jaws ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 289). He then gives the central reason why he and his men would not make good food: they are returning from fighting the war in defense of Greek places of ritual practice (such as Poseidon's temples), a practice he claims that Polyphemus shares ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 297). Underscoring the idea that it is impious to eat one's own, Odysseus seeks to demonstrate that the Cyclops would be engaging in an un-Hellenic act were he to gobble up the Greek soldiers.

To maintain the allegiance that he has forged, Odysseus next argues that the customary treatment of suppliants includes the performance of guest-host duties and the furnishing of clothes, rather than the roasting of strangers' naked limbs on spits to fill one's belly and jaws [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 303). Returning again to the war, he reminds the Cyclops of the horrible loss of life there, where "the earth drank much blood" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 304-05). He urges Polyphemus not to exacerbate the cruel effects of this vampiric imbibing by finishing off the remaining Greeks in a "bitter feast" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. This he follows with a further exhortation (306-11) of the Cyclops to be persuaded [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to "put aside the mad fury of [his] jaws" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and thus "to take reverence in exchange for irreverence" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. He finishes this crescendo of references to verbal contracts, consumption, and barter by stating that many men receive painful punishment in exchange for ill-gotten gains [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 312). Warnings of this sort are common in Greek literature, of course, but the image of exchange is not necessarily so highlighted. (51)

Silenus intervenes at this point with a warning for the Cyclops, one that credits the supplicator with fearsome technique. (52) "If you eat his tongue," Silenus says, "you will become eloquent and most glib" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 314-15). (53) It is a pivotal remark for this discussion, in that Silenus's mocking recognition of both Odysseus's persuasive talents and the Cyclops's voracious attitude conflates the tongue with rhetorical power. The body part itself is thereby treated as a metonymic object that concretely encapsulates the speaker's smooth strategies, so that its ingestion would effectively make the eater a cannibalizing sophist. Suggesting with ironic aptness that Polyphemus might grab this polished chatter for himself by taking the man for meat, Silenus's remark encapsulates the central conceptual zeugma in the play: that which joins a balanced, exchange-oriented verbal style to proper guest-host relations, and an appropriative style to the greedy ingestion of one's interlocutors.

Polyphemus's response to Odysseus's call for fair behavior cleverly and obnoxiously dismantles the careful connections that Odysseus has sought to forge among those who would share in xenia exchanges. The monstrous sophist gives a reply that systematically coopts and reconstitutes the speech delivered by one he views as a future meal. Setting up his dismissive tone by addressing Odysseus as "little man" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 316), the Cyclops begins with a transformation of divinity that many commentators have argued shows a sophistic influence: (54) "Wealth," the monster declares, "is a god for the wise" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); that is, to Odysseus's warning about the dangers of gain, Polyphemus opposes a rationalizing irreverence that casts the hero's bartering skills in a modem light, stripping them of the pious rituals that cloak them as aristocratic politesse. He counters Silenus's jest about Odysseus's rhetorical powers with a punning scorn: "The rest is only bluster and pretty words" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 317). The verbal dexterity that Silenus has deemed eloquent ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) becomes boastful blather ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) in the self-serving lexicon of the Cyclops.

Having dismissed the hero's carefully balanced speech as mere verbiage, the Cyclops responds to his emphasis on xenia strategies by boasting that he does not fear Zeus (presumably Zeus Xenios, 320). Nor, he says dismissively, does he care about "the rest" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 322) of what follows from such respect. To Odysseus's attempts to curb his ravening jaws by making him subject to the bonds of Greek piety (297), he opposes a picture of proto-sympotic, solitary pleasure ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 326; [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 327), with milk for his bibulous needs and his own belly as god of the feast (329-35). Odysseus's invocation of guest-host bonds as the "law for mortals" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 299) he spits back as overly complicated and fancy ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 339 (55)). With a final gesture of sarcastic appropriation, which responds to Odysseus's argument that one should offer strangers clothing, Polyphemus instead s uggests as a gruesome cloak fire and the "inherited bronze," that is, the caldron ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 343 (56)), lest he be blamed for ignoring xenia rituals entirely [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 342), and he invites his guests in to stand around the altar "to the god of the cave." Thus, rather than witnessing in ritual formation the salute to some divinity like Zeus Xenios who would oversee the proper sharing of food, the monster exhorts Odysseus and his men to encircle the caldron in which they will be boiled, and thereby to revere the belly that will consume them.

Polyphemus's speech in the supplication scene thus aggressively converts Odysseus's emphasis on the rule-governed rituals of proportionate exchange into a lawless consumer's paradise. Seaford and others have compared Polyphemus's "might makes right" attitudes to those of Callicles in Plato's Gorgias; and, as I have noted above, Paganelli (1979) likens his fulsome style to that of Gorgias himself. Odysseus, who in tragedy often plays the mercenary sophist, thus far resembles more strongly his own fair-sharing Iliadic type. But when the time comes for him to practice his signature deceit, Odysseus agilely deserts his earlier stance, tailoring his arguments to the Cyclops's greedy amorality and cautioning the monster against his new-found urge to share. By this later point in the action, the mercantile language of the bartering Odysseus has been transferred to the body of the Cyclops (whose full belly is twice described as a loaded merchant ship: 361-62, 505-06), and Odysseus has slapped the Cyclops with his own famous label panourgos (442). Moreover, in his "messenger speech" to the satyrs, Odysseus has described his stratagem of the wine as godlike ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 411), and then called the wine itself godlike ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII],. . . 415). The vocabulary is reminiscent of that used of consummate handlers of logos, including poets, philosophers, and orators; (57) this is precisely the power that the Cyclops had rejected in favor of his belly's divinity. Thus, in the action leading up to the deception scene, the imagery indicates that the hero and the monster are trading roles, that the uses of the mouth (here drinking and speaking) continue to converge, and that Odysseus is assuming more forcefully his familiar function as the sophistic and appropriative speaker--but with a twist. (58) This time his trick involves a direct rejection of his own signature emphasis on fair sharing, in favor of a similarly appetitive but less social mode.

Odysseus persuades Polyphemus to stay alone in his cave by involving him in another debate about the nature of divinity, but now the hero's ruse demands that he use the more mercenary and antisocial argument. Coopting the Cyclops's gourmandizing claim that his belly is the greatest god ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 335), Odysseus now transfers the label to Dionysus, declaring that he is the greatest god "in respect to life's pleasures" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 522). He thus serves up a divinity to suit the Cyclops's hedonistic emphasis: if the monster's god is his belly, then he must perforce honor a god he can ingest. Their exchange revolves at first around this embodied divinity, with Polyphemus asking why the god would be satisfied to live in a flask and wear skins (525-27). The gluttonous Cyclops does not like the skin of any food--bestial, human, or divine--and just as his culinary habits focus on getting at the tender bits (cf. 302-03, 343-44), here he wants only what is inside ([ LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 529). Odysseus responds by encouraging him to stay (alone) and drink up ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 530).

While in his cups, however, Polyphemus wants to seek out his brothers for a genial komos, and so now Odysseus must argue against sharing, against the rituals of wine and the feast that he usually promotes. He does so first by declaring ironically that one appears more honorable when one keeps the wine to oneself ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 532), in response to the Cyclops's drunken magnanimity ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 531). This argument in favor of keeping up appearances is typical of the sophistic Odysseus, and thus highlights his move to take up his own more aggressive strategies. (59) Polyphemus, in contrast, insists on his nascent notions of fair sharing, maintaining that giving to friends is more "fitting" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 533). Odysseus now bluntly rejects the niceties so necessary in polite society that cloak the obligatory rituals of exchange, as the monstrous sophist (the very one who now happily mouths their conventions) had done before him. (60) Odysseus next invokes the image of the wise man ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 538), repeating the term of approbation that Polyphemus earlier used of those (like himself) who value wealth (cf. 316). By conjoining, then, the wise with the mercenary type--and thus revisiting the sophistic attitude he displays elsewhere in tradition--Odysseus supports Polyphemus in his antisocial habits. It seems to be this last equation of the clever man with the one who stays at home and resists the urge to share that convinces the Cyclops to remain where he is, arguing over the wine with his cupbearer and misbegotten eromenos Silenus.


Odysseus and Polyphemus both demonstrate a grotesquely humorous attention to the belly, the consumer ethic of which is reflected in their appropriative argumentative strategies. Each tries to outfox the other by mockingly refiguring the other's imagery, and while Polyphemus combats Odysseus early in the play with his sophistic and cynical responses, Odysseus tricks him later by reappropriating a rhetoric more rightly his and tailoring it to his greedier interlocutor. Throughout their interaction their language revolves around food and exchange--guest-host, mercantile, and finally symposiastic activities. Those settings of fair exchange that Odysseus positively promotes in the Iliad and that his character in tragedy tends negatively to exploit are replayed here as a series of confrontations between the hungry man's emphasis on the shared feast and the cannibal's omnivorous rejection of such balanced trade. Odysseus's clever plying of the liquid sacred to Dionysus brings an end to this standoff, so that the god himself effectively forges the escape of his followers (cf. [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 411).

The careful strategies of the hero and the half-hearted efforts of the satyrs to assist him make both ill-sorted but necessary allies against the monstrous Polyphemus, whose solitary imbibing marks him out for ruin. The satyrs do, of course, play a role in the action distinct from that of Odysseus. They embody the defining elements of the genre and thus operate as the essential framing device in the play; their interactions with the central characters serve to taint familiar cultural narratives with their irreverent interpretations of them. The satyrs repeatedly highlight the strategies of both hero and monster in terms of the debased atmosphere of the genre; here, xenia is a form of cannibalism, heroes fight for worthless causes, and rhetoricians resort to grotesque tricks of the tongue. The bibulous rituals with which Silenus worships his god and the abusive slavery in which the satyrs are entrapped together serve to frame as crucially satyric the oral rapacity of Polyphemus and the careful bartering of Ody sseus, as well as the physical debasement that threatens every character on stage at one point or another in the action. As I emphasize above, this same connection between the voracious mouth and physical degradation repeatedly distinguishes the excesses and brutality that characterize certain sophistic types. Both Callicles in Plato and Cleon in Aristophanes display an aggressive hedonism, the rapacious qualities of which extend also to how they conduct themselves in argument.

I should reiterate, however, that both archaic poets and classical writers indicate some distinctions among these types. Euripides' Cyclops is clearly more a figure of proto-Rabelaisian excess than is Odysseus, whose character tends to promote a practical, calculating approach to others. Polyphemus's pleasures center around his mouth: he likes to talk, he likes to eat, and he likes best of all to combine these activities--to talk about eating, or to try to eat those who talk to him. He thus embodies in a grotesquely literal fashion Bakhtin's portrait of the gleeful, omnivorous type, his open-mouthed presence precipitating not only these central connections between eating and speaking but also the piecemeal representation of the body. The Cyclops depicts both his own body and those of his prisoners in this way, a grimly humorous dismantling of body parts to which the satyrs and Odysseus respond in kind. Polyphemus himself is the most exaggeratedly appetitive character; he describes his solitary consumption in loving detail, together with the onanistic pleasure that naturally follows (325ff.). (61) He and the satyrs make repeated references to his belly and its satisfaction, and all of the other characters are envisioned in various states of dismemberment, on their way to gratifying this insatiable gaster: Odysseus and the Greek soldiers become limbs on a spit; the satyrs are pictured as hooves dancing in the Cyclops's stomach; even Dionysus is viewed as one whose (wine) skin only gets in the way of the monster's gleeful consumption.

Faced with this yawning threat, Odysseus, resorting to a mercenary sophistry familiar especially from the Philoctetes plays, ultimately forsakes his emphasis on fair exchange in favor of his infamous talent for deception. Again, in Homeric epic Odysseus's character manifests both bartering and deceptive inclinations, and these are the aspects of his type that come to be associated in the classical period with the traits of the mercenary sophist. But only in Euripides' Cyclops does his character trade in this fair-sharing mode in order to trick his interlocutor--the ruse itself thus encapsulating both strains of his type. In a witty play on the traditions forged around the bartering and deceitful Odysseus, the drama shows the hero taking up the monster's greedy rhetoric (which is merely a more aggressive form of the hungry man's tactics) in order to trick him. His clever tradeoff succeeds also in taking food from the monster's mouth, so that the Cyclops, effectively persuaded by his own gluttonous attitudes, l oses out on the tasty treat he was saving for last. (62)

(1.) This strain of Odysseus's character culminates in the second-century C.E. Deipnosophistai of Athenaeus. See Lukinovich, who explores the intersection of the imagery of greed and more delicate pleasures in relation to both food and words in Athenaeus.

(2.) Stanford; see also Pucci 173-87, who argues that gaster is the "secret force" that drives Odysseus's adventures. Cf. Lohmann, Svenbro, Arnould, Rose; and Nagy 222-32 regarding greed and the language of blame.

(3.) Analyses of the fifth-century Odysseus often relegate his character to an ignoble class, however ill-defined. The Philoctetes plays have been particularly singled out for this treatment, since this is the narrative in which Odysseus is represented most fully as a deceitful, sophistic type. See, e.g., Podlecki, Segal, Blundell, Muller; cf. Falkner, and Ringer for the connections between sophistry and metatragedy.

(4.) On the significance of the dais eise in Homer, see Nagy 127-41 and Said. Said emphasizes that the Homeric banquet constitutes a social norm, the transgressions of which are recognized as monstrous ("inhumain," 13) and leading to destruction. Cf. Schmitt-Pantel 3839 on the parallels between the aristocratic feast and social order.

(5.) Historians have recognized that the proxenia system may have arisen as a response to the tense but interdependent relations between aristocrats and merchant-traders, and that denigrations of merchant-traders in archaic and classical depiction may point to attempts of aristocrats to distance themselves from the group upon which they depended for the luxury goods that furnished the public display of their status: see Lehman.

(6.) Cf., e.g.. Sophocles' Ajax and Euripides' Hecuba, and see below.

(7.) For a more detailed discussion of this tactic, see Worman 1999.

(8.) Cf. also Alcaeus, Frag. 129 L-P and the "pot-bellied" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) Pittacus. Note that all of these phrases are used in scenes that involve verbal contestation, especially the passing of judgments or oath taking.

(9.) In the Odyssey, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], its negation, and related phrases usually involve Odysseus and refer to speaking style (8.179, 489; 14.363, 509). Cf. also Hymn. Horn. Merc. 433, 479; and see the discussion in Worman, Forthcoming, chap. 1.

(10.) Cf. Rose 108-12 on the belly's demands; Said on violence in the banquet setting; Pucci 181-82 on the gaster and thanatos; also Nagy 222-32 and Slater.

(11.) Cf. also Eurymachus, Od. 18.394-97; and see Said 31, who points out that Antinoos's refus du don effectively brings war into the feast and thus perpetrates the intermingling of the two settings most opposed in the Homeric world.

(12.) This is an assessment shared by the suitors and their henchman; it is first formulated by the goatherd Melanthius, who predicts that the beggar's "insatiable belly" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII) will spur the suitors to throw footstools at him (17.217-32); cf. Eurymachus at 18.357-64.

(13.) See Motto and Clark for the significance of the dais eise for Achilles; also Redfield 1975: 107-08.

(14.) Scholars (esp. Sutton) have argued for the connection between the satyric genre and the themes of the Odyssey, which I would not contest. But the Iliad, for all its proto-tragic tone, contains scenes that set up Odysseus as the bartering, smooth-talking type found in the Cyclops. Euripides' Polyphemus is not, at any rate, a purely satyric type; see Seaford 56-58.

(15.) "Cf. Il. 4.343-46 for the suggestion that Odysseus is particularly concerned with the feast, and Od. 14.193-95 for a more intimate version of this rhetorical pleasantry.

(16.) Cf. Il. 9.90, where the menoeikes dais in Agamemnon's tent is specifically mentioned. Again, see Nagy 127-41. I am arguing that the imagery of the dais eise focuses the differences between the two heroes; but Nagy also notes that the famous neikos of Achilles and Odysseus (Od. 8.72-82) happened at a dais of the gods, and relates the dais especially to Achilles' heritage and fate. We might add that in the Odyssey Odysseus is characterized by his "well-balanced mind" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 11.337), as is his son (14.178). The imagery suggests a connection between the balanced social practices that Odysseus promotes in the Iliad and the balanced quality of his disposition in the Odyssey.

(17.) "E.g., [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (164, 178, 229), [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (169, 174, 178), [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (169), [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (19.225), [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (165, 169), [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (233). The attention to the body and the practicalities of living seems almost Hesiodic (cf. Stanford 68-70 and Arnould).


(19.) Lohmann 66 notes the gnomic quality of Odysseus's speech, articulating the central maxim here as "Ein guter Soldat mull auch gut essen" and regarding it as suitcd to the pragmatism of Odysseus's outlook.

(20.) See Said 16. who points out that some dai- cognates also describe violent partition.

(21.) Achilles' bitterly cannibalistic imagery has its culmination at the death of Hector, where he declares, "If only my fury and passion would somehow drive me to cut up your raw flesh and eat it"[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], II. 22.346-47). See Nagy 136, who compares the passage to II. 24.41-43, where Achilles is likened to a lion whose thumos drives it to making a "feast" (dais) of sheep. Cf. also Motto and Clark 112 on Achilles' monstrous images, such as the simile of the ravenous sea monster [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 11. 21.22-23): and Redfield 1975: 197-99 on cannibalistic imagery in the Iliad and its implications.

(22.) This was noticed by Nagy 224-32; cf. also the discussion of Steiner, Forthcoming.

(23.) Cf. Sophocles, Ajax 118-19 for similar imagery. See Davidson 20-26 on the nature of the opson as the savory supplement to grains, and its significance in relation to ideas about moderate social behavior.

(24.) Wilkins 1997: 258-60 notes that both the tanner and the sausage-seller trade in animal products and are themselves represented as rapacious, bestial types. Cf. the expanded discussion in Wilkins 2000.

(25.) See Rowe on Demosthenes' use of comic imagery; Easterling on the characterizations of the voice in these speeches.

(26.) Note again the connections between consumption, vocal expression, and physical abuse in this scene.

(27.) Again, this technique is a specialty of Odysseus (Worman 1999).

(28.) Cf. Dodds 306-07: and Thrasymachus at Resp. 336b, whom Plato depicts as throwing himself into the discussion like a wild beast [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and yelling at his startled interlocutors (336b5-8).


(29.) E.g., Philoctetes uses the label of Odysseus in Euripides, Phil. (Dio Chrysostom, Or. 59.9) and Sophocles, Phil. 408, 448, 927, as does Ajax in Aj. 445. Cf. also Philoctetes, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Phil. 1357, and Achilles, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Sophocles, Frag. 567 Radt Lloyd-Jones (from the Sundeipnoi, Scholia ad Aj. 190).

(30.) Cf. Gorgias, Pal. 3; Antisthenes, Od.; Alcidamas, Od. 13; and see Worman 1999.

(31.) Note that the merchant's references also recall Neoptolemus's earlier confusion of Thersites with Odysseus, when Philoctetes inquired after "that worthless man, redoubtably clever with his tongue" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), 440-41).

(32.) [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] can have the connotation "deceive" when it refers to mental injury, so that the word may also point to Odysseus's famous tactics.

(33.) See Worman 1999: 45-49 for a discussion of the imagery of fair exchange in Sophocles' Ajax and Euripides' Hecuba.

(34.) For obvious reasons, this has long been the primary scene adduced by way of comparison; see, e.g., Masqueray.

(35.) Seaford 55, who comments that Odysseus "is in Euripidean tragedy so associated with crafty self-interest" that the audience might have enjoyed seeing him defeated by Polyphemus in the agon. Cf. also Biehl 21-23 regarding the contemporary coloring of the characters of Polyphemus and Odysseus.

(36.) Cf. Conrad 177-79 and Olson.

(37.) This is in contrast to Homer; cf. Konstan 90 and Seaford 54.

(38.) Cf. the Erinyes, the demons of tragedy whose predilections also invert those of the bibulous stock characters of the satyr play. As Pierre Vidal-Naquet so succinctly remarks, "Elles ne boivent pas de vin. mais elles mangent les hommes" (Vernant and Vidal-Naquet 156). The satyrs may have had a strong connection not only to the underworld but also to the Keres, particularly in the context of the Anthesteria (e.g., Aristias's Keres, Frags. Snell).

(39.) Bakhtin 281-84. In discussing the history of banquets, Bakhtin argues that the ancient feast enacts "man's encounter with the world and tasting the world, the relation of food and speech" (281-82). "Prandial speech," he says. "is free and jocular speech" (284). Cf. Schmitt-Pantel 30-38 regarding the interaction of the three elements of the banquet: food, drink, and "diverses formes de communication" (30), including most importantly poetry.

(40.) Bakhtin 29, 317-18, 320-22. Cf. the Arethusa special volume Vile Bodies (31.3), the contributions of which make use of these ideas in the analysis of Roman satire.

(41.) Bakhtin 28 et passim.

(42.) Ibid. 195, 347ff.

(43.) See ibid. 30-3 1 for a discussion of the comic Odysseus and satyric drama, and 148, where a scene in Aeschylus's lost satyr play Ostologol (Frags. 279, 180 TGF) is mentioned in which Odysseus appears as a figure of abuse; cf. also 168-69. Edwards 104, in an article that considers how Bakhtin's notion of the popular grotesque identifies a stance coopted by the elite in Attic Old Comedy, notes that Aristophanes denigrates the demos as a "doulocracy or republic of tradesmen," which suggests a connection between this prandial attitude and the barterer-both aspects of the Odyssean character type. Wilkins 258 notes that the "exuberant hawkers" of Aristophanic comedy challenge civic order in a Bakhtinian fashion.

(44.) Bakhtin 343, in discussing sources for Rabelais' mammoth consumers, notes that the writer was familiar with the Cyclopes, and that they turn up twice in Gargantua and Pantagruel.

(45.) Bakhtin 317 remarks: "[T]he most important of all human features for the grotesque is the mouth. It dominates all else. The grotesque face is actually reduced to the gaping mouth; the other features are only a frame encasing this wide-open bodily abyss." Seaford ad Cyc. 92 notes the image, and suggests that it may be less metaphorical than actual.

(46.) Alcaeus, Frag. 134 Page; Sappho, Frag. 31. Seaford ad Cyc. 177-87 also suggests that the reference to Helen by the satyrs may echo a satyric tradition, and cites Sophocles' Helenes gamos as evidence.

(47.) That is, a treatment that threatens the satyric body. The meaning of [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is obscure; it probably means something like "pierce" and thus would imply rape, but it also seems to have been used in the sense of "beat" (cf. Plutarch, Mor. 2.304b) Bakhtin 196-205 uses the Catchpole scene from Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel to delineate satire's wittily abusive attitude toward the body, remarking that the Catchpoles represent the old order and are connected to fertility rituals. Both might be said of Helen (see, e.g., Clader).

(48.) Cf, above, note 46.

(49.) Seaford argues that the Cyclops's paternity was probably common knowledge, but Odysseus seems quite ignorant of the Cyclopes in general, and Polyphemus's name is rarely used in the play.

(50.) Like any good gentleman, according to Ussher (ad Cyc. 287); like an Athenian, according to Biehl (ad Cyc. 287).

(51.) As an example, Seaford compares [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("Menander," Mon.).

(52.) As a Euripidean chorus may do in an cf., e.g., Tro. 966-68, Med. 576-78, Phoen. 497-98.

(53.) A similarly witty and cruel conflation of the speaker's talents with his tongue occurs in 3.229. Ussher argues that this kind of conflation is "typical of primitive belief," and cites Guepin's 1968 discussion of how Ezekiel ingested a book in order to become a prophet. But surely Silenus's joke is more pointed and historically meaningful here, since it joins sophistic effect and cannibalistic tendencies. Seaford 313-15nn suggests a connection to the ritualistic significance of eating the animal's tongue in sacrifice, but he does not seem to regard this focus on the tongue as a witty cannibalizing of Odysseus's sophistic talents, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] can indicate verbal excess and usually characterizes the speech of women and certain sophists (e.g.. Prodicus); this glib style became associated with the [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Cicero, Orat. 62-64 and Dionysus of Halicarnassus, Dem. 2). Hesychius glosses [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]--meaning something like "well-dress ed elegance" and associated with the [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] a fastidious, omamental chatter (cf. O'Sullivan 131-33). See the remarks of Bourdieu 1991: 81-89 on verbal style and "bodily hexis" (visible deportment).

(54.) They particularly compare Callicles in the Gorgias (cf. also above and below).

(55.) Note that poikilos is traditionally a characteristic of Odysseus's mental type ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]: Il. 11.482; Od. 3.163; 7.168; 13.293; 22.115, 202, 281). Cf. also Euripides, Or. 823, where the word is coupled with impiety ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and Phoen. 469-70, where the "simple tale of truth" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is opposed to the intricate interpretation ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). In Sophocles the outcast Oedipus accuses Creon of managing to extract some fancy trick from every just claim ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], OC 762-63). Lukinovich notes Athenaeus's emphasis on poikilia as a necessary element in both the banquet and the discourse that attends it.

(56.) There is a textual crux here: the MSS read [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which does not scan properly; Jackson 91 solves the problem by reading [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], with [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as a gloss,

(57.) famously uses such terms to describe the powers of speech in the Encomium of Helen ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 8; [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 10). Cf. Il. 4.192; Od. 4.17; Plato, Resp. 331e6, Menex. 99c11-dl, Phdr. 234d6; also Philostratus, VS 1.18.3, of Aeschines ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(58.) Hamilton has called attention to a number of reversals in the symposium scene, especially regarding the imagery of eating and drinking, and the shifting of roles among Silenus, the Cyclops, and Odysseus. I should note that many earlier commentators found this scene badly motivated, if humorous: Schmid, Masqueray 179, Duchemin xvii.

(59.) He employs it throughout the Philoctetes, articulating it openly ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 82) when trying to persuade Neoptolemus to trick the wounded hero out of his bow. Cf. Plato, Resp. Book 1, on what famous wise men say is just ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 336a2; [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 336a9), rather than what justice really is.

(60.) Cf. Mauss on the obligatory nature of gift exchange, and Bourdieu 1977: 5 on the meconnaissance necessary to the sustaining of such rituals. Mauss bases his discussion on the understanding that gift exchange is transacted in an atmosphere of formal pretense and social deception, while Bourdieu notes that the very obligatory character of the exchange must he "misrecognized" as voluntary and genial by the participants for the economic system to be maintained. I owe this observation to Mark Griffith. Cf. also Schmitt-Pantel 55-57 on the ambiguities of the xenia exchange.

(61.) Seaford ad Cyc. 327-28 argues that [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are images of masturbation rather than farting, as other commentators have thought.

(62.) A version of this paper was read at the University of California, Berkeley in the spring of 1999. I would like to thank Donald Mastronarde and Kathleen McCarthy for their helpful remarks, and especially Mark Griffith for his extensive comments on a later draft.


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NANCY WORMAN is Assistant Professor of Classics at Barnard College, Columbia University. She has published articles on tragedy and oratory, and is author of The Cast of Character: Style in Greek Literature (Austin 2002). She is currently working on a study entitled The Rhetor's Mouth: Character Assassination and Oral Imagery in Athenian Public Performance.
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