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The Chorus o f Ariadne Author(s): Alfred Burns Source: The Classical Journal, Vol. 70, No.

The Chorus of Ariadne Author(s): Alfred Burns Source: The Classical Journal, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Dec., 1974 - Jan., 1975), pp. 1-12

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THE CHORUS OF ARIADNE*

The Homeric poems,'thoughgenerallyreflecting conditionof a much

material as demon-

strated by the LinearB tabletsand other

doubtedly an unbrokenoraltraditionandthe natureof formulaic poetry

are

the bronze

age whetherwe can credit oral

centuriesan

and scenes from

later

period, preserve

some

genuine Mycenaean

archaeological evidence. Un-

would like to raise is

transmitting over several

mainlyresponsible for the preservation of images

in Homer.2 But the

poetry

question

alone for

I

apparentlypreciseknowledge of certain aspects

likely

inspired the poets

rituals.

of a van-

past the tradition alive?3 I

reminders may

of ancientruins and relics, and of

particular case such

ishedcivilization.Or is it

could have

try have well existed, both in the form

continuingliving

shall

to showthatat least in one

that some visual mementosof the

helped

to

keep

and

The description with whichI will deal is the

of the dancein

of Knossoswhichconstitutesthe last scene on the shieldof

vignette

the

palace

Achilles:

Achilles:

And the renownedsmithof the

dancingfloor,

Daidalosbuiltfor Ariadneof the

And therewere young men on it and

strong like thatwhichonce in the wide spaces of Knosos

lovely

tresses.

younggirls,sought for their

armsmade elaborateon it a

beauty

with

wore, the

of

And the girls worefine

carried golden knivesthat

gifts of oxen, dancing, and

holding handsat the wrists. These

but the men wore tunics touchedwith olive oil.

maidens long lightrobes,

finespun workand shiningsoftly,

garlands on their heads, while the young men

hung

fromswordbeltsof silver.

*I would like to thank Professors FrederickM. Combellak and Norman Austin

making suggestions on certain points; I, of course, am

for reading this paper and

responsible

1When

for all faults and errors.

the name of Homer is used in this paper, it will be with the understand-

poet of the final composition

or to one or more of his

the passage under discussion. I shall give a wide

assuming that the poems were committed to

numerous to cite in full. The

following

are

ing that it may refer to the

predecessors responsible for

berth to the problem of dating by

writing some time after the ninth century B.C.

2Statementsof these views are too

some representativeexamples:

(Cambridge, Mass. 1958) 27, 45;

(Berkeley 1959)

C. H. Whitman, Homer and the Heroic Tradition

D. L. Page, History

and J.

and the Homeric Iliad

Chadwick, Documents in

107; G. S. Kirk, The Songs of Homer

1964) 100, 344 n. 2, 305-

218-219, 232-264; M. Ventris

Mycenaean Greek (Cambridge 1956)

(Cambridge1962) 110-112.

8E. Vermeule, Greece in the Bronze Age (Chicago

306, cites examples of objects that might

have survived into classical times.

1

2

ALFREDBURNS

At whileson their

as whena

it closein his hands, to see

time they

And aroundthe lovely chorusof dancersstood a

happilywatching, while among

led the measureof

understanding feet they wouldrun verylightly,

great the dancerstwo acrobats

multitude

and dance

revolvingamong them.

R.

pottercrouching makestrialof his wheel,holding

if it will runsmooth. At another

wouldform rows, and run, rows crossing eachother.

song

(II. 18, 590-605, transl. by

Lattimore,Chicago1951)

The

picture

these lines create is as vivid as if the frescoes of the

had

suddenly come to life.4 The scenenot only conveys

full

Kn6s6

remindsus of the sea of heads

many fragments of paintings. It does

young

ladies in their

finely spun

imagination to see

can practically smellthe preciousperfumed

glistens on

The

the well textured

(eunnetoi)

the

appropriatejewelrycompletes

Minoan palace

the

of accuratedetail. We eureit) and the dense

people

that fills the background of

the

not take much

gowns

oil whichever so

chit6nes of

apparel of this jeunesse dorde.

circle the foreheadsof the girls,5 while the

ornamental daggers(n.b. belts. And their dance

handsat the wrists,they step nimbly (reia mal)

cross-overson skilled (epistamenoisi)

paintings, a great crowd (homilos) and the

minglefreelyjust

some of the

appear

image

muralsin spirit and in detail without any

two stereotyped half-lines; emelpeto theios aoidos which is repeated

in

otherwisethe passage containsno internal

molpes in Od. 6. 101, but

generalatmosphere of the elegant court society of Knossos, it is

recognize the feeling

of

throng

the

of

spaciousness(eni

(leptaiothonai);5 we

lightly (jka)

the youngdandies.6

Beautifuldiadems(kalaistephanai)en-

young

men

carry golden

in smoothcircles and

feet. As in the Knossianwall

of

spectatorsenjoys the pageant led

The

sexes

ever-presentkybistitere.8

machairai, not xiphea)7suspended fromsilver

is as graceful as their appearance.Touching

by a "god-like"singer

as in the "SacredGroveandDanceFresco." Although

and

this

descriptivenoun-adjective combinationsare not unique

seem

especially

felicitous in

also in other contexts, they

and have the cumulativeeffectof seeming to recreatethe palace

discordantnote. There are

Od. 13. 27, and molpes

exarchontoswhich corresponds to ercheto

e.g.

4A. Evans,

(Miniature

The Palace of Minos at Knossos (London 1930) III plate xviii

The Minoan aspects of the

Fresco of the Sacred Grove and Dance).

scene, of course, have been noted repeatedly,e.g.:

(New York 1925)

290-291; F. Chamoux,

hom6riques,"L'information litteraire (1949)

minoenne dans l'lliade

5Evans, Palace (above, note stand).

G. Glotz, Aegean Civilization

"Un souvenir minoen dans les poemes

69-71; J. V. Ooteghem, "La danse

(XVIII, 590-606)," Et Cl 18 (1950)

4)

323-333.

plate xvii (Fresco of Ladies seated on gran-

perfumed oil on garments

R. Palmer, The Interpretationof Mycenaean

6Ibid. II, part 2, Frontispiece,plate xiv. The use of

is attested in Linear B tablets: L.

Greek Texts (Oxford

1963)

243.

'Evans, Palace I, 153 and fig. 111.

8lbid.III, plate

xxi, 72 fig. 41, 217 fig. 148, 430 fig. 296.

THE CHORUS OF ARIADNE

3

evidence of extensivefrozen formulasand archaisms. In

description of the dancing, no similarity existsin contentor vocabulary

with otherdance scenes in the

appears difficultto creditthe vividnessand

scene to formulaicfossilizationalone. Eventhe associationin the

of Daedalus'name with the dancingplace

truth. The word

as

K. Kerenyiconjectures that it may

supposed to have

If we deny the possibility of the use of the linear scripts for literary

Greek literacy

Cypriotsyllabaries

purposes andif we

the specific

Thus it

poems (e.g. Od. 8. 370-380).

Knossostablethasbeen

seemingauthenticity of the

might

poem reflectsome historic

interpreted

da-da-re-jo-de on a

meaning

Daidaleionde-"towards"or "into the Daidaleion," and

referto the chorosthat Daedalusis

builtfor Ariadne.9

insiston the four-hundred yeargap in

(in spite

of the continuity into historictimes of the

A),

derived from Linear

temporary scholarsascribethe preservation of the dancescene with its

seemingly authentic periodsetting to its encapsulation in oral poetry.

the palace of Knossoswas

assume the existence of

survivedthe destructionof the the

civilization, and the upheaval of the age

corporated into the Trojan

mittedto writing no earlierthan the

its pristine formwhichantedatesthe warwhichis the sourceand

matterof these

poems by at least six hundred years.

by

we must in conformancewith many con-

As

destroyed about1400 B.C., we are forcedto

Minoan-Mycenaean formulaic poems which

palace andthe court society of Knossos,

and Egypt, the collapse of Mycenaean

of

migrations to be finally

in-

eighthcentury

subject

expeditionsagainstTroy

war epic. In other words, the epics com-

containmaterialin

two hundred years and theirfinal version

men and womenintermixedwere

troupes.

archaeological evidence exists that dances of the kind Homer

describes performedby

his own time.

exceptions thathave

bothmen and women dancing show them apart in two

In some instancesa male

geometric materialare men and women

occasion to witness such

intermixed dances, another possibility would be that he created the

vision andits specific detailsout of his own

general memoriesof a bygone past." For it is in keeping with the

Greektraditionto tracethe

fies to this traditionalso in other

imagination basedon some

same line of dancers."'If Homer had no

No

customary in

Geometricvase paintingsrepresenting dancers usually

Even the few

show all maleor all female

separategroups.

figure leads a group

of womenbut never on

representedalternating in the

origin

of dancebackto Crete. Homertesti-

Aeneastauntsthe Cretanwar-

places.

rior Meriones who has nimbly dodged

Aeneas' spear: "

. even though

9K.

Kerinyi, "M6glicher

Sinn von di-wo-no-so-jo und da-da-re-jo-de,"Atti e

micenologia, 1967, vol. II (Rome

memorie el

1968) 1024;

1* congreso internazionale di

cf. Palmer (above, note 6) 236.

'0M. Wegner, "Musik und Tanz," Archaeologica Homerica III

(Gittingen

1968) 60ff.; L. B. Lawler, The Dance in Ancient Greece (London 1964) 46.

"Kirk (above, note 2)

126-138 and passim doubts

tradition.

the survival of Mycenaean

epic and

suggests continuity of an oral prose

4

ALFREDBURNS

the wholePhaeacian episode is

you are a dancer

not to be considered complete fairy tale, the Island of Scheria can

probably be viewedas

the islandcan be connectedas

the

sounding namesof Theraand Scheria.

." (I.

16. 617).

If

a Minoan

colony; Poseidon's vengeanceagainst

catastrophe as confusionbetweenthe similar-

logically

Atlantic myth."2 There might evenbe

with the Thera

The Phaeacians may be

surpassed in other pursuits, but are supreme

the danceand

song"(Od. 8. 253).

In

dance and clashing

1234; see also Rose)." be a variantof Kretes-

would be Ke-re-te."4Plato, a

and social system, believed that

his approval

in the artsof

additionto Homer, there exists the well-knowntraditionof the war-

dance of the semi-divineCuretesof Crete, who saved the infantZeus

by drowning out his crying by their song and

weapons. They are mentionedin Hesiod as dancers (Frag. 123), in

Euripides(Bacchai

largedby laterwriters (e.g. Ap. Rhod. Arg. 2.

I wonderif the wordCuretescouldnot

simply

Cretan, for whichthe LinearB spelling

120), and their mythical role has been much en-

"seafaring, the feet,

great admirerof the Spartanpolitical

the Lacedaemoniansderivedthe institutionsthat found

from the Cretans (Min. 320a;

Repub. 5. 452;

8.544).

These included

gymnastics and dancing, which Plato, too, thought

CretanCuretes (Laws 7.

with equal

derivedfrom the

in mind his ideal state

statusof women, his gymnastics and dance exerciseswould

796b).

As Plato had

have been coeducational (Rep. 5.452;

ridiculedby

Laws. 7. 806a; 813d; 795d-e).

of the

Spartansystem

Aristophanes(Lysis. 81), was

Therefore, Plato approvedespecially that aspect

whichlet younggirls participate in music and dance (Laws 7. 806a).

But the Spartancustom,

clearly an abnormality for classicalGreece and Plato's plea on philo-

sophicalgrounds has little to do

the contrary, the whole discussion impresses

such mixed entertainmenthad become in historical Greece, and how

had become from

Homer's

draw on a traditionwhich creditedthe origin

hardly have visualizedthe luxuriousMinoan quality of this par-

boys and girls alternating and holding

hands while

executinghighly skilled figures. Otherdancescenesin Homer (e.g. II.

ticulardance with

could

far removed the Greek attitudetowards

with spontaneous social activities. On

on us how unthinkable

dancing

"Royal

Ball" in Knossos. Thus, even if Homer was able to

of dance to Crete, he

18.

569-573: Od. 23. 146-8) indicateno more than a rhythmic foot-

do not

necessarily

single intermixed hand-holdinggroup.

passages,

It is to be notedthat

the Knossianand the two just

stomping and although both sexes participate,they

dancein a

in each of the three dance

12R. F. Willetts, Cretan Cults and Festivals (London 1962) 127-129; W. B.

Stanford, The Odyssey of Homer (London

The Discovery of a Lost Palace of Ancient Crete

J. V. Luce, The End of Atlantis (London 1969) 171.

1965) 308, 325.

N. Platon, Zakros,

(New York 1971) 315-316;

13H. J. Rose,

14Palmer(above, note 6) 336.

A Handbook of Greek

Mythology (New York 1959) 171.

THE CHORUS OF ARIADNE

5

cited, the vocabulary,especially the verbs denoting the dancing-activity,

is entirely different. The text thus offers no indicationof being pre-

served

the questionmight be askedwhetherHomer really followedan existing

tradition

have been himselfthe

mention it, some refer not

this

Hal. 7.

Trojan

hundred years before that

alone, if it existed, shouldhave produced such a sharply definedand

had some additional help. I wouldlike

to suggest that such help might have come from the palace of Knossos

itself. Some portion of the palace, a wall still

standing withits frescoes,

picture.

Unfortunately, the ancientsources concerning the state of the ruins

are scarce, late and contradictory.Pliny the Elder

even some fallen piece of stucco

through encapsulation in formulaic expression. Furthermore,

attributing the inventionof dancing

to Crete or if he could

originator of this tradition, for of the writerswho

only to Homer's testimony but also quote

their point (Dionys.

danceat Knossos-to prove

epics

on the

very passage-the

9;

Athenaeus5. 181a).

Therefore, it seems neither convincing that the

same war, nor that a

poet

war could have preserved a

accurate picture unlessthe

situation that had ended at least two

general oral tradition

may have presented the poet

with the

says of the labyrinth,

nulla vestigia exstant (Nat.

if

Strabotells us thathe was familiarwith Knossos, but does not mention

a wordaboutthe

do exist. DiodorusSiculuswrites:

But some positive sources

Hist. 36. 90).

We do not know, however,

Pliny

ever visited the site and what his source of informationwas.

palace (Geog. 10. 4. 10).

The myth the Cretansrelaterunslike this: Whenthe Cureteswere

These

Titans had their dwelling in the land about Cnosus, at the place

out foundationsof the house of

whereeven to this

Rhea and a

ancienttimes. (5. 66. 1;

were

whichhas been consecratedto her from

youngmen, the Titans, as they are called, were still living.

day men point

cypressgrove

Loeb transl. by C. H. Oldfather)

antiquity and

Thus, at least foundationsstill existed in classical

visible. The testimonyby Pausaniasis even more impressive:

Of the worksof Daedalusare these two in

Thebesandthe Trophonius in Labadeia.Therearealso two wood-

en

images in Crete, a in whichlatter

in the Iliad, carved in

a smallwooden image

base insteadof feet.

imagefromDaedalusand whenshe followedTheseus,took it with her fromhome. Bereftof Ariadne,say the Delians,Theseus dedi- cated the wooden imageof the goddessto Delian Apollo, lest by

of

Boeotia, a Heraclesin

Britomartisat Olusandan Athenaat Cnossus, is also Ariadne'sDance mentioned by Homer

on white marble

place

relief (epeirgasmenos)

(epi leukou lithou). At Delos, too, thereis

Aphrodite, its right

I

hand defaced by time, and with

a square

am of the opinion that Ariadne got this

6

ALFRED BURNS

taking

andso findthe grief for his love everrenewed. I knowof no other

worksof Daedalusstill in existence. For the

the Argives in the Heraeumand those

Gelain Sicily have disappeared in courseof time. (9. 40. 3; Loeb

transl. by W.H.S. Jones)

it home, he would be

dragged into rememberingAriadne,

dedicated by

brought from Omphace to

images

It wouldindeedbe difficultto visualizethat a structureof the size of

the palace of Knossosshouldhave been completely obliterated by

naturalor

massive

dence. Thus thereis no reasonto disbelievethat substantialremnants

still existed in Homer'stime if Diodorusand Pausaniasafter another

ruins of the palace.

eight

Pausanias'

sincehe claimsthe existenceof a

whichHomerdescribed. Pausanias'statementhas been doubtedas an

dancescene

greatestimportance

any

man-made catastrophe within

six-hundred years short of a

volcanicflows or ashes of which there is no evi-

coveringby

hundred years were shown

recognizable

of the

testimony, of course, is for us

representation of the very

anachronismas no marblereliefs have been found

times."5 Remnantsof a great numberof stucco reliefs, however, have

the wall frescoes have been

been found in the

painted on underlying stuccorelief work.16 I wonder if it is

necessary to

interpret Pausanias'text as referring to marblereliefs. It

dating

to Minoan

absolutely

palace,

and some of

is true

mean

that "epeirgasmenos estin epi leukou lithou" would normally

. is sculptured on marble," the customary material for such

workin classical times,

butsinceits basic meaning is "white stone," I do not thinkit is

to take Pausaniasso literally in a technicalsense. He may have seen a

reliefon

inology.

tion in

contextalso lends

a catalogue of worksof Daedalus,i.e.,

or extantin his time. The inclusionof the dancerelief with the other

objects,

probability of his story. Thus it seems not

couldhaveseen whatDiodorusandPausaniassaw. Thatthe wandering

unlikely that Homer or one of his predecessors

and leukos lithosis the usual termfor marble,

necessary

simply

used the currentterm-

part of an enumeration, not a descrip-

not have rememberedthe exact material. The

WhatPausanias presents is

a whitestonewall and may have

Also, as the statementis

situ, he might

credibility to his report.

Minoanworksof art still known

some

realistically describedas damaged or lost, reinforcesthe

poets covereda great amountof territory is usually taken for granted.

Homer's specific remarkson the composition of the population of

Crete, his description of the harborof

of Eileithyia(Od. 19. 172-189)

with

Amnisoswith the near-by cave

seemto indicatefirst-hand acquaintance

Crete.17 I

believethe internalevidenceof the shield-makingpass-

15E.g. by W. Leaf, A Companion to the Iliad (London

16Evans, Palace I, 531 fig. 387; II. 779-785, figures 508-511.

17M.P.

1892) 317.

Nilsson, The Minoan-MycenaeanReligion and its Survival in Greek

Religion (Lund 1950) 58.

THE CHORUS OF ARIADNE

7

age also points in the directionof a personalexperienceby the poet. In

the shield Homer presents a work of art with aspirationsvery similar

to his own. Likethe

condition."8 The images

less aspects of the life of the common people, but the final scene, the

dance, is localized in a particularplace in a particularperiod and

identifiedwith an aristocratic society."9 Thus it is

universal every-day imagery

specific

ruinsof the

of Knossos.

scene that according to Pausaniasstill existedas a relief in the

is this

set apart from the

and time-

the human

Iliad, the shieldis an

attempt to depict

general

and sceneson the shieldare

as

somethingspecific.20

And it

palace

story

Pausanias'

is also interesting because it leads us to another

past. He reports

Cretan

possibility of a visuallink with Creteand the Minoan

a traditionconnectedwithDelos thatTheseus

expedition dedicatedon Delos an image of

receivedfrom Ariadne. This traditionis confirmed by Plutarchwho

gives us additionaldetails:

Aphrodite, which he had

returning fromhis

On his

sacrificedto the god and dedicatedin his temple the image of

Aphrodite (t6 the6 thysas kai anatheisto

had receivedfrom Ariadne, he danced with

a dance

of the

rhythmic involutions

kind of dance, as Dicaearchustells

Crane, andTheseusdancedit roundthe altarcalled Keraton, which

is constructedof horns ("kerata") taken

of the head. (Theseus21; Loeb transl. by

entirely fromthe left side

voyage

from Crete, Theseus

put in at Delos, and having

aphrodision) which he

the

his youth

Delians,being

an imitation

which they say is still performedby

circlingpassages

in the

Labyrinth, and consisting of certain

(parallaxeis) and evolutions (anelixeis). This

us,

is called

by

the Deliansthe

P.

Perrin)

The associationof Theseus, Ariadneand the

origin of the aphrodision, the memory

implied in the name of the "Keraton" altar, and the description of the

danceseemto indicate clearly thatwe areface to face withan unbroken

tradition going back to

Labyrinth with the Cretan

of the Cretansacrificialhorns

Minoan times.21 In the dance of course, the

widelyaccepted that it doesnot need further

elaboration,e.g.:

Achilleus" (Stuttgart, 4th ed. 1965) 352, who credits Lessing with this funda-

mental insight.

19Thiswasnoted long ago by W. Leaf, TheIliad (London, 2nd ed. 1900-1902)

II 313, in his commentary to II. 18. 590.

20Thecontrastbetweenthedancesceneandtherestof the imagery on the shield

as a laterintru-

18I believethis viewhas been so

W. Schadewaldt,VonHomersWeltund Werk, "DerSchilddes

was felt so acutely thatsome 19th

sion. Thus lines 590-606are still bracketedin the Teubneredition (1908)

K. F. Ameis and C. Hentze. Although the scholarswho wantedto

passage triedto

reasonwas theirawarenessof the

milieuof the other images on the shield.

centuryphilologists deletedit

by

excise the

adduce linguistic and critical

arguments, it seemsthat the basic

specialqualities whichset it apart from the

21M.P.

Nilsson,The MycenaeanOriginof Greek Mythology(Berkeley1932)

the

archaeological

170-171. Opinions are divided concerning the interpretation of

8

ALFRED BURNS

anelixeis

parallaxeis to the forming of rows (epi stichas).

be the

Pausanias'

is confirmed by the Homeric Hymn to Apollo

dancing and singing where the Delian girls "sing the song of ancient

men andwomenand delight the tribesof men. For

the voices

all men" (157-163).

even songs in the long-forgotten Minoan language were still part of the

ritual.22Thus not only the relief sculptures at Knossos, but also the

living ritual at Delos, or both, could

to the epic poets as to the latervase painters.

some other parallels mentioned

dance of Theseus and his troupe in just

girls alternating and holding

correspond to Homer's whirling like a

damaged wooden image

catalog

of

Aphrodite

of Minoan works.

potter's wheel and the

The

aphrodision must

on Delos mentionedin

The age of the Delian festival

which describesthe

they

knowto imitate

(phdnas--speech?) and clacking sounds (krembaliastyn) of

The last sentenceseems to be an indicationthat

have provided visual inspiration

The FrancoisVase and

by Schachermeyr show the liberation

such a dance with boys and

hands.23

In this connection, it

is interesting to note that in Plutarch'sversion

god, Apollo.

What he has brought

(e.g. Evans, Schacher-

great Minoan goddess,

on his returnfrom Crete has dedicateda

as in Pausanias', Theseus Minoanstatue to the local

image of Aphrodite.

meyr)"

the nature and fertility goddess, in other words, the equivalent of

Aphrodite. I realize

is an

But it is a commonview

thatAriadnewas the Greeknamefor the

that Nilsson contradictsthis view and considers

from

the East imported

at a later

Aphrodite an Ishtar-typegoddess

time.25

Mylonaspoints out how doubtful attempts are to identify the

LinearB tablets with the Minoan and

that the characteristicsand

Mycenaean

po-ti-ni-ja's of the

representations.26 It is a fact, however,

functionsof these motherand nature goddesses must have conformed

evidence for continuity of use of the sanctuary on Delos from Mycenaean to

archaic times.

T.

B.

L.

Webster, From

Mycenae to Homer (London 1964) 27,

111, 139, follows the

opinion

the excavators, H. Gallet de Santerre and J.

148.) that occupation was continuous. A. M. Snod-

of

Treheux (BCH 71 [1946-7]

grass,

spite

eighth century sanctuary.

279

of the Artemision on Delos

that the archaeological evidence

don 1972)

The Dark

in

the

The Greek Dark Ages (Lon-

and 371, considers a continuity of occupation and cult at the site

Age

of

Greece (Edinburgh 1971) 395-396, suspects a gap

Mycenaean and proto-geometric

V. R.

d'A. Desborough,

remnants under

possible.

Desborough

further

points out (280, 283)

the

can be misleading, citing as an example

of the presence of

sanctuary

of

Hyakinthos at Amyklai

where a hundred year

gap

exists in

the

pottery

22Forthe Minoan origin TAPA 77 (1946) 112-130.

23A. Furtwiingler-K.

but where the

pre-Greek

of

name of the

deity points

to a continuous cult.

1904)

the dance, see L. B. Lawler, "The Geranos Dance,"

Griechische Vasenmalerei (Munich

Reichhold,

plate 13; cf. F.

Schachermeyr, Die

Minoische Kultur des alten Kreta (Stuttgart

1964) 345,

n. 18.

24Ibid.310; Evans, Palace III, 74;

Willetts (above, note 12) 193-194.

25Nilsson(above, note 17)

`6G. E. Mylonas, Mycenae and the Mycenaean Age (Princeton 1966) 159-160.

397-398.

THE CHORUSOF ARIADNE

9

sufficiently to the universal

sorbed and replacedby Artemisand Aphrodite.

especially

clear: Theseus

with the rest

be sacrificed, entersthe

and takes

Ariadne along. At this point the myth becomes vague and splits into

many differentversions. According to the Odyssey, Ariadneis killed

by Artemison Dia "on the testimony of Dionysos" (11. 321-5);

Hesiod she marries

put

Ariadneon shoreon Cyprus when she was pregnant, and while he was

drivenout to sea

The accountsof Plutarchand Pausaniasof the an explanation. Since Ariadnewas not a human

as-

serts,

person. ceeded withouther favor. In

brought her Minoan statuettewith the attendantritual including the

the

aetio-

memory of the introductionof a Cretancult and

bullhornaltar and the dance to Delos. Thus the

recognition, he propagated her cult, and

Theseus could not have suc-

type so that eventuallythey could be ab-

The identificationis

and festival existed in

the two

clear on

Cyprus where a sanctuary

Amathusdevoted to

"Ariadne-Aphrodite,"27explicitlylinking

myth,

in its first

part,

is

quite

names. Now the Theseus

slays

of the fourteen youths

and maidens, arriving in Crete to

Labyrinth and having foundfavorwith Ariadne

company by her help,

947

ff.);

in

in PlutarchTheseus

the Minotaur, flees with his

Dionysos (Theog.

abandonedher on Naxos and she committed suicide, or Theseus

by a storm, she died in childbirth (Theseus20).

but a

Delos episodeprovide

being

as the

myth

goddess,28 she could not have accompanied Theseus in

deity,

legend preserves

represents an

objects

used into the

early

with the same surnamesof Brito-

But as she was the local

logical myth to explain the survivalof a Minoan religious ritual into

classical times.29 Minoan-type shrines and cult

archaicera havebeen foundon Delos.so We mustrememberthatDelos

is the mythologicalbirthplace of Artemis, considered also an

equivalent

martis and

Kythera,Cyprus and are localized on islands

where they were associatedwith some ancientritualor cult in historic

is associated

with islandsonce underMinoan

Delos. All the strandsof the Ariadne

of the Minoan

goddess

Eileithyia. Generally, the cult of Aphrodite

influence, such

as

myth

times,

been found."3 Thus

sites where the epic poets could have witnessedritual dances

the traditionof the

reality to the relief images

and where

archaeological evidence for Minoan settlementhas

in additionto Delos there

palace

may

have been other

keeping

of Knossos alive and giving an animated

of the ruins.

to the

poets' possibleresponse

to visual

his discussionof the

A most

convincingparallel

inspiration is pointed out by F. H. Stubbings in

27Plutarch, Theseus 20; Nilsson (above, note 17) 526.

280n this point general agreement seems to exist, e.g.:

Rose, Handbook (above,

note 13) 184; Nilsson (above, note 17) 523-527.

29Nilssonibid. 524. 3olbid.453. See also note 21 above.

31E. g.: Naxos, Cyprus.

10

ALFREDBURNS

Cave of the Nymphs on Ithaca.32There, doubtis

the poet was speaking from first-hand experience. Not only does the

description in

hardlypossible

that

the

Odyssey fit the topography and the physical features

of the cave, but to

prove

quote Professor Stubbings,

it was possible to

excavatea rich stratified deposit

from the Bronze Age to the first century

sherds

fragment

0 AY E

with Odysseus. E.E In the late Helladic III stratumremainsof a pave-

mentwhich suggests that the cave was a shrineeven at that date. The most remarkableof all the objects found are twelve tripod-caul-

offering to Odysseus,' showsthat it was associated

A.D. A numberof inscribed

of pottery and votive offeringsranging

Nymphs,

and a

inscribedEYXHN

that the cave was sacredto the

of a terracottamaskof thefirstor

I, 'a votive

second centuryB.C.,

drons of the ninth to tenth centuries

. It seems certain that this

shrine helped to inspire the description of the Cave of the Nymphs in

the Odyssey

. it is even possible to see in the bronze tripods the

the poem brings home from

'originals' of those which Odysseus in Phaeacia."

The many futile effortsto associate episodes in the Homeric poems,

especially in

caution, but still, personalexperience with certain places and objects

musthave

is

We know from Homerhow

manship were treasured by their owners. He

of the loving carewithwhichsuch keimilia were passed from fatherto

son and hiddenin the

the mostsolemnoccasions.

for libationsto Zeus (11.16.225-254)

decorations (II. 11. 632-7).

years, we are fortunate enough to and others in the

Vapheio cups

on

the Odyssey, withactuallocalities impress on us a need for

providedinspiration to the poets.

The Cave of the

Nymphs

a case in point; I suggest thatthe dancein Knossos may be another.

greatly

old and beautifulworks of crafts-

gives us many examples

mychos of the house to be brought out only

Examples arethe cup

of Achilles only used

and Nestor's cup with the dove

When, after more than three-thousand

possess Schliemann'sdove cup, the

National Archaeological Museumin

Athens, mustwe doubtthat the Homeric poets were describingobjects

they had seen? D. L. Page argues thatcertainancient objects (such as

the boars-toothhelmetand

vived because they contained

knowledge but from the

formula alone.33 I believethis argument overlooks

of the poet could not have been derivedfrom a specimen

Ajax' "tower-shield") could

not have sur-

perishablematerials, and thus that the

pictorialrepresentation on a lasting

exemplifyexactly this possibility.

inlaid dagger with

poetic

the possibility of the existenceof a

material. The helmetand the shield

In the NationalMuseumin Athensthe boars-toothhelmetis shownon

a small

the lion-huntfrom

ivory carving

and the tower-shieldon the

the fourth shaftgrave in Mycenae.

32J. B. Wace and F. "Ithaka," 418-419.

3,Page

Stubbings, A

(above, note 2) 218-219.

Companion to Homer

(London 1962),

THE CHORUS OF ARIADNE

11

The reverencewith which the poet describesancientworks of art

reflectsan attitudewhichmusthave

of the past. In addition, accidentaldiscoveriesor even intentional

treasurehunts in ruins and burial sites must have continuedto yield

bronze

strongantiquarian interest during the geometric

period is attested by the re-activationof bronze-age tombs and the

establishmentof sanctuariesin Mycenaean ruins." Relicsfroma mythi-

Such objects together

cal past became objects

with the monumentalruins of

manylocalities, could not help

richer past alive and thus add truthand meaning

poets which otherwise might no longer have been accepted or under-

stood. It

heroicdimensionsto a past whena hero could throwa stonewhich "it

mortalsto move."

would take two of

helped to preservemany heirlooms

age

artifacts.A

and centers of cults.

the palaces, the "cyclopean" walls in

but keep the memoriesof a greater and

to the storiesof the

may

well havebeen the visual impressions whichlent the true

today's

Nobody has believedfor a long time that Homer might have been

description is entirely the poet's

own

composition,they general-

inspiration from manysources.S"

workmanship even

if not in

have seen a shield similarin

one can well visualizea shield

similarlydecorated,especially

faithfullydescribing an actual shield,"3 and although most scholars agree

thatthe

ly concedethathe may have drawnhis

He still might

concept or detail. Seeing the beautiful inlay workson the daggers from

Mycenae

significance in the My-

cenaean period."7 The ideas for the various scenes could have come

from

instance, the procession of harvestersremindsone

TriadaVase depicting the exuberantreturnof the

Long ago WalterLeaf noted the Mycenaean characterof the shield by

the almost complete absence of mythology

descriptions as

dominate throughout.39 Formulaic poetry had a

images and memoriesof the past, but like any other livingart, it had to

experiences of

its audience. Various

instantly of the Hagia

as decorativeshields seem to have had cultic

many

sources and from

representations in differentmedia. For

singingfarmhands."8

in contrastto such later

the shieldof Heraclesin

which mythological motifs pre-

tendency to encapsulate and preserve certain

circumstancesand

understandableunder

keep adapting itself to the changing

aspects contemporary conditionshad

of

life no longer

to give way

to the reflectionsof a new

34Snodgrass (above, note 21) 192-194, 397; Webster (note 21) 137-139; Desborough (above, note 21) 283.

35W. Reichel, ents of this view.

Homerische Waffen (Vienna 1901) 146, was one of the propon-

86E. g.:

W. Helbig, Das

Homerische

Epos aus den Denkmiilern erlidutert

Introduction to the Iliad and the

310-311;

note

15)

(Leipzig 1887) 395;

R. C. Jebb, Homer, an

1892)

68; Leaf,

Odyssey (Glasgow

Schadewaldt (above, note 18) 357.

Companion (above,

"7Mylonas(note 26) 157-158.

38Evans, Palace II part

SgLeaf, Iliad (above, note

1 fig. 22.

19) Appendix 1, 607; Companion (note 15) 311.