ABSTRACT Who were the sewers of epic tales? First of all they were the makers of the inner unity of the homeric poems, Iliad and Odyssey. This unity doesn’t need to be explained neither in terms of unitary composition of the text nor in terms of later and artificial unification in writing of traditional indipendent epic songs: it’s the result of the progressive refinement of rhapsodic technique in the performance of epic traditional tales. This process was probably developed since the Dark Age, and certainly during the archaic age, already in the VIII century BC. At that time a crucial change involved not only the social position of epic singers, compared to that of the aoidoi at the origins of epic tradition in the mycenaean age, but also the places, the public and the occasions of their performances: some epic singers became specialized performers for the great panhellenic gatherings of public called panegyreis. During these festivals consecrated to the cults of gods or heroes, with ritual calendars of many days, there was enough time also for long performances of epic poetry: this time was too much to be filled by only one singer. Consequently epic singers began to organize themselves as group-performers and developed a particular way to execute the traditional inheritance of epic poetry: they sewed together, in a sort of ‘coagulation’, the narrative parts trasmitted before as autonomous episods. In particular, they used to sew in sequence a coherent narrative text without gaps and repetitions, just like a ‘cloth’. The name rhapsodoi began to be used to define this attitude. The most famous of them and probably the first group organized in that way were the Homeridai of Chios (see «Parte prima introduttiva»). It is difficult to understand how they constructed the rhapsodic unity of homeric poetry by just looking at the text of Iliad and Odyssey: indeed the normalization by a long ecdotic and exegetic tradition, done during the late-archaic, classical and hellenistic age, was very heavy on the text of homeric poems. The so called Homeric Hymns, on the contrary, underwent much less textual normalization, because of their continuity of transmission within the rhapsodic circles and almost only for rhapsodic use. As a consequence the Homeric Hymns still show very clearly in their text the marks of the rhapsodic activity. The Homeric Hymn to Apollo, in particular, is a rhapsodic progressive construction which was never finished. As such, it allows us to reconstruct not only one important occasion for its performance as great ‘unified’ composition, the Delian-Pythic festival organized by the tyrant Policrates of Samos in the 523 or 522 BC on the island of Delos, but also the ways in which its text was structured and adapted for that specific occasion. It was done: a) by memorizing and joining two former poems (the Delian hymn and the Pythian hymn) probably already fixed in writing; b) by adapting some passages of the new unified text to the exigences of the occasion, and by creating variants; c) by inserting in the text another long narrative passage, drawn perhaps from a third autonomous composition (a hymn to Hera). In the transmitted text of the Hymn it’s also possible to individuate a part which was taken out, modified and adapted to be used for a different performance of the Homerids probably in Sicily (Syracuse). But, above all, the text of the Hymn to Apollo offers the clearest evidence of a growing professional self-consciousness of the Homerids of Chios. Such professional growth took the form of a real propaganda related to the name of Homer; and it’s possible to find reflections of this propaganda in the pseudobiographic tradition concerning Homer, whose materials were also initially produced in rhapsodic circles (see «Parte seconda. Gli Omeridi dall’Egeo alla Sicilia: cinque studi sull’Inno omerico ad Apollo»). The sewers of epic tales were the creators and the promoters of an influential poetic and cultural legend - perhaps the most important, for its several implications, in the history of western literature: the legend of Homer. The legend of Homer originated precisely in the rhapsodic circle of the Homerids, the most important oral group-performers of archaic Greece: the purpose was not only to send back to a mythic common ancestor the origin of their collective and anonymous art passed through many generations of singers, but also to create a ‘quality-mark’ for their poetry. At the beginning the ‘quality-mark’ was applied in a restrictive way, only to the Iliad and the Odyssey; but, during the VI century BC, the Homerids became an open rhapsodic school instead of a restricted ‘genetic’ group, and this poetic ‘quality-mark’ was extended to include many other epic poems of the so called Cycle, that were originally related to the names of other epic singers. Many different rhapsodic traditions, previously in competion with that of the Homerids, now flew together into the everincreasing mainstream of panhellenic autority of the Homerids and the prestigious name of Homer. During the second half of the sixth century - the period we are talking about - the historical circumstances (the Persian occupation of the Ionia) drove the Homerids mainly away from their original country, the Greek Asiatic colonies, to perform their epic poetry: they turned at first towards the Aegean sea and continental Greece, then as far as Sicily and the western Greek colonies, which had become attractive particularly because of new tyrannic patronages (see «Parte prima introduttiva», «Parte seconda…» particularly «L’“uomo di Chio”…», «Parte terza…» particularly «Dio;~ ejk prooimivou…»). When, in the last thirteen years of the VI century, the evolution of the Homerids as rhapsodic school and their impulse towards new patronages outside the Ionia met the cultural initiative and propaganda of the Athenian tyrants, Pisistratus and his sons, there was in Athens the perfect political opportunity for a project never realized before: performance by performance, throughout a prolonged span of time, a continuous and well organized narrative line of all the traditional epic materials of the Trojan saga was unified by the name and the rising pseudobiography of Homer. All the poems of the epic cycle on the myth of the Trojan war and the nostoi of the Achaean heroes were performed for the first time in a complete order during several great Panathenaic festivals, between about 530 and 514 BC, and were joined under the ‘quality-mark’ of homeric poetry. The Homerids’ extraordinary experiment gave them the highest level of panhellenic fame ever reached by epic singers, and offered to Athens and its tyrants not only a bright political image to spend in the Greek world, but also an exclusive Athenian text of the so called homeric poetry which was unique, at that time, for extension and rhapsodic coherence. The sewers of epic tales could apply the tecnique of rhapsodic unity on the largest scale ever, more than they had used to do so far, and for several generations, with the Iliad and the Odyssey. It was the very beginning of the structured epic cycle both in the oral performances and in the written text derived from that performances (see «Parte terza. Gli Omeridi dalla Ionia ad Atene: cinque studi sul ciclo epico troiano»).

Cucitori di canti. Studi sulla tradizione epico-rapsodica e i suoi itinerari nel VI secolo a. C.

SBARDELLA, LIVIO
2012

Abstract

ABSTRACT Who were the sewers of epic tales? First of all they were the makers of the inner unity of the homeric poems, Iliad and Odyssey. This unity doesn’t need to be explained neither in terms of unitary composition of the text nor in terms of later and artificial unification in writing of traditional indipendent epic songs: it’s the result of the progressive refinement of rhapsodic technique in the performance of epic traditional tales. This process was probably developed since the Dark Age, and certainly during the archaic age, already in the VIII century BC. At that time a crucial change involved not only the social position of epic singers, compared to that of the aoidoi at the origins of epic tradition in the mycenaean age, but also the places, the public and the occasions of their performances: some epic singers became specialized performers for the great panhellenic gatherings of public called panegyreis. During these festivals consecrated to the cults of gods or heroes, with ritual calendars of many days, there was enough time also for long performances of epic poetry: this time was too much to be filled by only one singer. Consequently epic singers began to organize themselves as group-performers and developed a particular way to execute the traditional inheritance of epic poetry: they sewed together, in a sort of ‘coagulation’, the narrative parts trasmitted before as autonomous episods. In particular, they used to sew in sequence a coherent narrative text without gaps and repetitions, just like a ‘cloth’. The name rhapsodoi began to be used to define this attitude. The most famous of them and probably the first group organized in that way were the Homeridai of Chios (see «Parte prima introduttiva»). It is difficult to understand how they constructed the rhapsodic unity of homeric poetry by just looking at the text of Iliad and Odyssey: indeed the normalization by a long ecdotic and exegetic tradition, done during the late-archaic, classical and hellenistic age, was very heavy on the text of homeric poems. The so called Homeric Hymns, on the contrary, underwent much less textual normalization, because of their continuity of transmission within the rhapsodic circles and almost only for rhapsodic use. As a consequence the Homeric Hymns still show very clearly in their text the marks of the rhapsodic activity. The Homeric Hymn to Apollo, in particular, is a rhapsodic progressive construction which was never finished. As such, it allows us to reconstruct not only one important occasion for its performance as great ‘unified’ composition, the Delian-Pythic festival organized by the tyrant Policrates of Samos in the 523 or 522 BC on the island of Delos, but also the ways in which its text was structured and adapted for that specific occasion. It was done: a) by memorizing and joining two former poems (the Delian hymn and the Pythian hymn) probably already fixed in writing; b) by adapting some passages of the new unified text to the exigences of the occasion, and by creating variants; c) by inserting in the text another long narrative passage, drawn perhaps from a third autonomous composition (a hymn to Hera). In the transmitted text of the Hymn it’s also possible to individuate a part which was taken out, modified and adapted to be used for a different performance of the Homerids probably in Sicily (Syracuse). But, above all, the text of the Hymn to Apollo offers the clearest evidence of a growing professional self-consciousness of the Homerids of Chios. Such professional growth took the form of a real propaganda related to the name of Homer; and it’s possible to find reflections of this propaganda in the pseudobiographic tradition concerning Homer, whose materials were also initially produced in rhapsodic circles (see «Parte seconda. Gli Omeridi dall’Egeo alla Sicilia: cinque studi sull’Inno omerico ad Apollo»). The sewers of epic tales were the creators and the promoters of an influential poetic and cultural legend - perhaps the most important, for its several implications, in the history of western literature: the legend of Homer. The legend of Homer originated precisely in the rhapsodic circle of the Homerids, the most important oral group-performers of archaic Greece: the purpose was not only to send back to a mythic common ancestor the origin of their collective and anonymous art passed through many generations of singers, but also to create a ‘quality-mark’ for their poetry. At the beginning the ‘quality-mark’ was applied in a restrictive way, only to the Iliad and the Odyssey; but, during the VI century BC, the Homerids became an open rhapsodic school instead of a restricted ‘genetic’ group, and this poetic ‘quality-mark’ was extended to include many other epic poems of the so called Cycle, that were originally related to the names of other epic singers. Many different rhapsodic traditions, previously in competion with that of the Homerids, now flew together into the everincreasing mainstream of panhellenic autority of the Homerids and the prestigious name of Homer. During the second half of the sixth century - the period we are talking about - the historical circumstances (the Persian occupation of the Ionia) drove the Homerids mainly away from their original country, the Greek Asiatic colonies, to perform their epic poetry: they turned at first towards the Aegean sea and continental Greece, then as far as Sicily and the western Greek colonies, which had become attractive particularly because of new tyrannic patronages (see «Parte prima introduttiva», «Parte seconda…» particularly «L’“uomo di Chio”…», «Parte terza…» particularly «Dio;~ ejk prooimivou…»). When, in the last thirteen years of the VI century, the evolution of the Homerids as rhapsodic school and their impulse towards new patronages outside the Ionia met the cultural initiative and propaganda of the Athenian tyrants, Pisistratus and his sons, there was in Athens the perfect political opportunity for a project never realized before: performance by performance, throughout a prolonged span of time, a continuous and well organized narrative line of all the traditional epic materials of the Trojan saga was unified by the name and the rising pseudobiography of Homer. All the poems of the epic cycle on the myth of the Trojan war and the nostoi of the Achaean heroes were performed for the first time in a complete order during several great Panathenaic festivals, between about 530 and 514 BC, and were joined under the ‘quality-mark’ of homeric poetry. The Homerids’ extraordinary experiment gave them the highest level of panhellenic fame ever reached by epic singers, and offered to Athens and its tyrants not only a bright political image to spend in the Greek world, but also an exclusive Athenian text of the so called homeric poetry which was unique, at that time, for extension and rhapsodic coherence. The sewers of epic tales could apply the tecnique of rhapsodic unity on the largest scale ever, more than they had used to do so far, and for several generations, with the Iliad and the Odyssey. It was the very beginning of the structured epic cycle both in the oral performances and in the written text derived from that performances (see «Parte terza. Gli Omeridi dalla Ionia ad Atene: cinque studi sul ciclo epico troiano»).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/28631
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