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Therefore, as in my last paper, I urgently repeat the call for fellow-workers in cataloguing the whole body of ancient literature.
Aeschyl. Choeph. 466–496.
These verses have as yet not met with the attention they undoubtedly deserve. Part of the fault the poet himself seems to bear. For when the chorus addresses Orestes and Electra with the words kaì uno úmeuon tóvd’é Teivatov Toyov (497), he plainly marks the preceding verses as an amplification of the kommos which had been sung before. In this the grief of the orphans has been set forth, and it ends with a prayer to Agamemnon (akovoov és páos uorov, FÙv dè yevoll upòs éxOpoúz 446 f.), imploring him to come to his children's aid. This prayer is followed by an invocation of the blessed dead in general to grant their support (αλλά κλύοντες, μάκαρες χθόνιοι, τήσδε κατευχής πέμπετ' úpwynv maloìv at po povos étà viky 463 ff.). This impression that the following otixouvdía is only an amplification has prevailed to such an extent, that the poet has even been accused of making the action of his tragedy drag. A closer interpretation, however, will show that far from doing this he has preserved in these thirty verses an admirable bit of genuine folk-lore.
Both sister and brother begin by stating their wants, - Orestes praying that the lost throne may be restored to him, Electra that she may escape some danger threatening her from Aegisthus. For so much the corrupt passage seems to reveal. Then they tell of the good which will fall to Agamemnon's lot, if he will assist them, and at the same time the dishonorable starvation to which his refusal will expose him. Both, now, turn for a moment to the deities of the lower world, and invoke Earth and Persephone to send their father up to the living. Then, reverting to Agamemnon, they remind him of the shameful way in which he was put to death, and ask : Art thou awakened by these òveidn, oh father? Finally they once more briefly state their grievances and tell the soul that its own interest requires it to help them. As we easily see, the arrangement is fourfold : first, the wish for help; secondly, the promised honors ; thirdly, the prayer addressed to the chthonic deities; fourthly, the wrongs suffered by Agamemnon.
1 Erwin Rohde alone seems to interpret these lines in the right way. He calls them a “ Wecklied”: Psyche, 523, 2.
2 Rohde, ibid.
The Choephoroe was represented in 458 B.C. I turn now to the magical papyri which are, approximately, six hundred years or more later in date. Here we shall find all four of the previously named parts used in spells, although, as far as I remember, the four nowhere occur together. This is best seen, perhaps, from the diaporn eis Eenvnv, large Papyrus of Paris, 2573 ff. and elsewhere, and separately printed by Wessely in front of his edition. The hymn first enumerates the various compounds of the sacrifice which the sorcerer is about to offer to the goddess in order that she may willingly do his bidding. This fills the first 13 verses. But with verse 14 quite another chord is sounded :
“Η δείν' έλεξε τούτό σε δεδρακέναι το πράγμα
These are clearly óveien ; and, as in the Aeschylean prayer, óveion committed by those against whom the aid of the addressed person is invoked. Thirdly, there comes in the papyrus the prayer proper. Thus, of the Aeschylean disposition we have here parts 2, 4, 1, in this order. And we remember that in Aeschylus, too, the prayer proper is once more repeated at the end. Part 3 alone, the invocation of the gods, is missing, and justly so, because this sorcerer has no higher goddess than his Selene-Hekate, living upon the flesh of the dead. This part, on the other hand, occurs e.g. in the dywyn eri opówv, Pap. Par. 1390 ff. where Ereschigal and Persephone are asked to send up the souls of the βιαιοθάνατοι.
1C. Wessely, Wiener Denkschriften, XXXVI. p. 31.
3 Deiva. W. with 2659. čori 2597. The accusative with dotl need not offend in a poem that measures o payıá Selurū.
4 kai kávoapov tpop nu ool W. from 2660. But 2598 tpoońute kávoapós ooi MS. 1 Its components are: aiyos moklans préap, f'xwp map évov vekpâs, kapdia á ópov, oủola vek po û kuvós, é ußpvov yuvackós and so on. Of course, these frightful names are smoke and dust, and stand, as so often in these rites, for the names of harmless plants. But these herbs are still substitutes for the real thing.
Now, my thesis is this : the Aeschylean verses are a true charm-song, and probably fashioned after some spell, current in actual necromancy. But might the resemblance not be merely accidental? One might certainly say that it is incomplete. First, not all of the four parts occur together in the papyri, and secondly, while the dywyn is really a spell conjuring up the dead, the scope of the diaßorń seems widely different. Now, in fact, the latter song may well be considered as belonging to chthonic rites. For, not to speak of the character of the sacrifice offered, the goddess herself is called öykov Budoù TvÉovo a (2601), Mývn, 'Epuñs kai ‘Ekátn (2609), Baoílela Bpluc (2611), Eivodía (2615). And of the spell it is said: óvelpotoutteī, kataklível, åvaipei éxOpoús (2624-5). But we may establish our view more firmly by comparing related scenes.
There is, first, in the very same Choephoroe the prayer Electra addresses to her father's soul 116 ff. At the beginning she invokes Hermes to carry her prayer Tipòs Toùs yńs žvepőe daípovas kaì raîav aŭtnv (3). Then she pours out her libation (2) and states her needs and wants (1 and 4 combined). And again, as in the joint prayer, she finishes by once more stating her wish. That this cannot be regarded as a mere coincidence is shown by the careful wording of the whole passage which, especially in verses 139 and 140, closely follows popular models. Taüt, Electra says, ev uéo W tíonul της κακής αράς, but as the curse may reflect back on him who curses, she averts this consequence by adding : kelvous λέγουσα τήνδε την κακήν αράν.2
2 For similar cases on devotiones, see W. J. Battle, PROCEEDINGS AM. Phil. Ass. XXVI. p. lvii.
Of course we have to compare the conjuring up of Darius in the Persae, 625 ff. Here the arrangement is as follows: 626-630 the xéóvioi daímoves are invoked to send the ghost (3). 631-637: Darius is asked to come and help the Persians (1). 638-655: invocation of the roóviou to send him (3). 655–659: Darius is again called, and the present calamity is vividly depicted. Parts 2 and 4, as we see, are missing. But we may perhaps excuse this omission by the outlandish character of the whole scene, and by the fact that the soul of the dead king, according to the poet's representation, was always honored, while Agamemnon's had been neglected. Of óveidn, of course, there could be none, as Darius had died peaceably, unless we consider the defeat of his son Xerxes an όνειδος.
Looking round among the other poets, nothing is more natural than to compare the two tragedies in which Sophokles and Euripides have treated the same subject. Sophokles, unfortunately, does not offer any material for comparison. But Euripides has an elaborate prayer, Electra 671-682. Its arrangement is as follows: 671.675: Orestes asks Zeus to give him victory, and Electra concurs in this wish (676). Then he turns to Hera, the mistress of Mycene's altars (674), to have pity upon them (672), and again Electra echoes this in 673. Now Orestes invokes his father (677), — while Electra calls upon earth (678), beating it with her palm, as is usual in chthonic rites, — to help his children (679) — with all the dead, Electra adds (680), — his faithful warriors, who fell before Troy (681, Or.), and who hate the evil doers (683, El.). And with 682 Orestes brings the prayer to an end by reminding his father of his deivá: ňkovoas, å delv' i E euns untpòs mrabóv.2 Here, again, we have some of the parts of the Aeschylean division, viz. 3. I. 4. Only part 2, the promise of sacrifices, is omitted.
1 It seems almost as if Sophokles has protested against these scenes of witchcraft. Thus he addresses the maiden: all oŬTOL TÉV q' ’Atda taykolvov Níuvas matép' à votáOELS OŰTe you in oőr' &vtals: El. 137-139.
2 It will be seen that the order of verses followed here (671.675.676. 674. 672. 673. 677-681. 683. 682) is somewhat different from Kirchhoff's. I think mine to be the better one. The stichomythic correspondence (Or. a. El. b.) is indeed no longer maintained. But we have still a good correspondence: a, a, h. a, a, b, a, b. a, b. a, b. a. It must be noted that 671 certainly begins a new paragraph, marked by the silence of the peoBus, let alone the distinct division
Similarly runs the thought in the touching passage of the same poet's Orestes : 1225-1239, where Orestes, Electra, and Pylades in their imminent peril call upon Agamemnon to help them. 1225-1234 invoke his aid and tell the dead man that his offspring is threatened by his own brother, and recount the merits of his son and daughter in avenging his violent death. Then they offer him a sacrifice (1239), their tears, indeed, for nothing else has been left to them. The similarity of the arrangement as a whole is unmistakable. But most noteworthy of all is verse 1238 when Pylades breaks in : oŰkovv óveídn Táde klúov púo el térva ; Here we have again those óveídn on which Aeschylus laid so much stress. However, none have really been mentioned in the preceding verses. The Öveldos here seems to be strictly hypothetical as attaching itself to Agamemnon, if he, indeed, desert his children and come not to their help. And so it almost becomes a threat. And this squares admirably with the tenor of the passage in the Choephoroe, where Agamemnon is incited to help by the warning that otherwise he will have to go hungry among the other feasting souls.
There is one more passage, bearing upon our subject : Helena, 962 ff. Here Menelaos and his wife are sitting at the tomb of Proteus, and the king implores Theonoe to save him from his brother. And now he turns to the dead man and prays for his protection (962), here also adding as a threat that disgrace will follow him for all time, if he does not soften his daughter's heart (967–8). Thereupon he pleads with Hades to come to his support by influencing Proteus. For, — and we shall see that this is of far-reaching importance, — on account of Helen so many dead have in sense. On the other hand, the grouping of the verses gains in clearness, for now Zeus alone is, and properly, invoked to give victory, while of Hera only her pity is asked. As to calling Orestes and Electra ékyovol of Hera, one must think of the close relations between Mycene and Hera. For the Argive Heraion originally belonged to Mycene: Paus. II. 17. Pauly-Wissowa?, II. 788, 59. Cp. also the numerous statuettes of Hera found in Mycenean tombs: Schuchhardt, Schliemanns Augrabungen, 332.