Man in the Middle Voice

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Man in the Middle Voice MARTIN CLASSICAL LECTURES New Series, Volume 1 The Martin Classical Lectures are delivered annually at Oberlin College on a foundation established by his many friends in honor of
Man in the Middle Voice MARTIN CLASSICAL LECTURES New Series, Volume 1 The Martin Classical Lectures are delivered annually at Oberlin College on a foundation established by his many friends in honor of Charles Beebe Martin, for forty-five years a teacher of classical literature and classical art in Oberlin. Man in the Middle Voice NAME AND NARRATION IN THE ODYSSEY John Peradotto PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY Copyright by Trustees of Oberlin College Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, New Jersey In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, Oxford All Rights Reserved Libra7 of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Peradotto, John Man in the middle voice : name and narration in the Odyssey / John Peradotto. p. cm.-(martin classical lectures ; new ser., v. 1) Includes bibliographical references. 1. Homer. Odyssey. 2. Odysseus (Greek mythology) in literature. 3. Names, Personal, in literature. 4. Narration (Rhetoric) I. Title. 11. Series. PA25.M3 new ser., vol. 1 [PA dc ISBN (alk. paper) This book has been composed in Linotron Baskerville Princeton University Press books are printed on acid-free paper, and meet the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources Printed in the United States of America by Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey For Erin, Monica, Noreen, and Nicole MSABU, what is there in books? As an illustration, I told him the story from the Odyssey of the hero and Polyphemus, and of how Odysseus had called himself Noman, had put out Polyphemus' eye, and had escaped tied up under the belly of a ram.... How did he, he asked, say the word, Noman, in his own language? Say it. He said Outis, I told him. He called himself Outis, which in his language means Noman. Must you write about the same thing? he asked me. No, I said, people can write of anything they like. I might write of you. Kamante who had opened up in the course of the talk, here suddenly closed again, he looked down himself and asked me in a low voice, what part of him I would write about. I might write about the time when you were ill and were out with the sheep on the plain, I said, what did you think of then? His eyes wandered over the room, up and down; in the end he said vaguely: Sejui7-I know not. Were you afraid? I asked him. After a pause, Yes, he said firmly, all the boys on the plain are afraid sometimes. Of what were you afraid? I said. Kamante stood silent for a little while, his face became collected and deep, his eyes gazed inward. Then he looked at me with a little wry grimace: Of Outis, he said. The boys on the plain are afraid of Outis. -1sak Dinesen, Out of Africa CONTENTS Preface CHAPTER 1 Polysemantor: Texts, Philology, Ideology CHAPTER 2 Polyainos: Myth vs. Folktale CHAPTER 3 Polytlm: The Ends of the Odyssey CHAPTER 4 Polytropos: The Naming of the Subject CHAPER 5 Po,!'yarbtos: The Unhallowed Name of Odysseus CHAPTER 6 Outis: The Noman-clature of the Self Index of Homeric Passages Index of Greek Words Index of Names and Subjects PREFACE xotapoi~ tois a6toi~ tppaivop6v TE nai o6n kp~aivoprv, ~ipcv TE xai 06% ~'1p~v. -Heraclitus, frag. 49a DK Located at the crossroads of different traditions (philosophical, logical, and linguistic), the concept of subject is difficult to handle and gives rise to numerous ambiguities. -A. J. Greimas and J. Courtks, Semiotics and Language: An Analytical Dictionary IF PART of the argument in the following pages did not so vigorously challenge what Roland Barthes calls the ideology of the person, the conventional view of the stable subject, of consistency and continuity of character, and of its actions and products, I would use conventional language and simply say this book has been rewritten many times. But even the unreflective language of convention here barely masks its own paradoxes: how can we refer to this book as this book if it has been rewritten? What is the stable it that has come through the rewriting intact? Oldfashioned philosophical questions, but to answer them here would be to anticipate a dense and difficult argument. At this point, let them merely stand, as bait to those who relish such questions and as irritant to those who do not, advance notice of the problems of naming and of narration that figure so largely in what follows. Yet, despite the inconsistency, I must say that this book has been rewritten many times. There is at least a useful fiction, a phenomenal truth here that must be stated. There has, indeed, been a continuous project, an identifiable folder in my file, however often its labels and contents have changed. for longer than I could menti011 lrithout embarr~~ssmmt. The labels and conte~lts have c-hi1ngt.d ~rirh its :i~lthor's predispositions. ;111d those predisp~siti~~l~ with the conceptuill cli~llnte ar~~und him. The excursus on the discipline of clnssical studies in Chapter 1 attempts to define these changes n11d introduces the nlethodological fr~melrork for this pnrticulnr rending of the O(~Y.V.WY. - - But long ago the project begin more n;li\.elv, lvith \-en little of thnt intense reflection on the d\.nami~-s of text pmduction,~nd assinlilntion which characterizes current literc~r\. nnal- \.sis. It hega11 nlodestl~ and microtext~iall\- as n half-page note on the d XE ( until ) clnuse in Otivs.~rv and the conditions that surround it in Tiresins's prophec~. I 1,-iunted tc) articulate tht~ definiti\.e rrciding of this text. oiperturning and excluding what had gone before. an aspiration fostered in me b\. nn\. yhilologicnl tr;~ining and b\. the lcinds then pre\-ailing in the profession. Further reflection prompted :I groltving suspicion that the way this mic~-otest \\-as rend could become a nlndel nlapprd onto the ivhole, resulting in n picture of the O~Y.T.T~~Y -. as a collision of empiricnl nnrrative traditions, one donninated b\. m?.t 11 and another bl.\liirchun. But e1.m thus enlarged the goal was still n Illore or less prescriptive iind univocal I-eading. I shall not here trace in detail the process \vlnereb~v the word Yefiniti\.e faded from m\- critical \.oc;lbular\.. or how so positii-ist nn undertnking,ielded to a more dialectical. theo- I-eticall\. open enterprise. or hmv thnt barren urlivocity was esch;u~ged for- n less domineering i-ielt. of I-ending, but the reasons \\.ll\. it happened will be clear to see. especiallj* in Chapter- 1. This book has bee11 rewritten ninnj7 tirlles. And if' I had 11ot stopped ~vhere this book concludes. it would haire continued to be I-elvritten. sguin cind ngaiu. Like its subject. the Od\~s.ct.v. - in the reading here nd\*anced. it counter-feits n co~iclusion. but does not reall?. end. As Pnul Zunlthor 113s said, Nothing in li~yed I-eality is closed. and so a book tllat quietl~. contests stable subjects arld obdurate definitions must ;11so place in doubt the finalit\. of endings (as it does PREFACE xiii most particularly in Chapter 3). In two fairly obvious senses at least, this book does not end. It has engendered in its author a host of fresh issues organically connected to this study and readily inferable by other professional readers of the Odyssey, but left on the drawing board for future elucidation. In that sense, it records the prolonged refinement of a cutting instrument that has still left the surface little more than merely scratched. It will, however, or so it is my hope, provoke its readers to take its bare suggestions as a prompt either to counterpoise or to continue the reading they find here. This study may strike literary analysts outside the field of classical studies as less sophisticated than it could be, given the state of theoretical discussion. That is in part because it is designed largely for my colleagues in a profession long suspicious of theory and impatient, often justifiably so, with the self-indulgence and needless obscurity that too frequently blemishes its exercise. This book is, in part, a special plea for an enlarged definition of classical philology to include tools for textual exegesis not yet fully countenanced in the traditional repertoire, and so the rhetorical tone of this plea, guided by a genuine desire to communicate and to persuade, had to be chosen with utmost diplomacy. On the other hand, I have tried constantly to keep in mind the needs of nonspecialists, whose theoretical disappointments with what they find here may be counterbalanced, I hope, by a reading that brings them a philologst's heed of subtle and crucial discriminations of lexical and grammatical texture that will easily elude even the most scrupulous attention to gross narrative in a translated text. Writing of this kind, like life itself, takes place mainly in the middle voice. I feel less like author than congeries or conduit, so great is the host of family, friends, colleagues, students, and institutions with a part in the production of this book. If this book were perfectly consistent both with this realization and with its own misgivings about the ideology of the person and the proprietary claims attending it, its author I\-ould have had to remain anonvrnous. But scholar1)- reading at its best is. I belie\-e. a dialectical. ever incomplete social act: the name in this case functions merelv as the locus of responsibility for a particular and partial vielr of the test. and its incompleteness implies an invitation to response. This book has been rewritten man\- times. It ~vould have been delal-ed vet further but for the material assistance of the.lndr&r c. I-. Ra)-mond Chair in Classics at the State Vniversitv of Selr York at Buffalo. The main responsibilit\- for liberating it from the curse of endless re~rriting. hou-ei-er, lies ~uith the Charles Beebe Martin Classical Lectures Committee at Oberlin College. chiefly with Sathan Greenberg. \\-hose confidence in in\-iting me to lecture there forced design on flus. For this encouragement and for his and his colleagues' matchless hospitalitv I am most grateful. The last three of those five lectures u-ere later delivered at Princeton Cni\-ersit\-. The last three chapters here o~r-e that audience an inestimable debt for thoughtprovoking comments and suggestions, most particularl~. from &4ndrelv Ford. Robert Fagles. Charles Segal. and. more than all the rest. Fronla ~eitlin. in the host of ~vhose intellectual legatees I count myself a charter member.,lnother unselfish benefactor of so many in our profession. Bernard Iinos, supported me too, saw the fitful and ingenuous origns of this project during rnv davs at the Center for Hellenic Studies, helped me shape it u-ith his e\-er sound advice. and gave me and mi- generation a model of humane scholarship to serve as potent antidote in moments of despair for the profession. Man!. other colleagues - have helped too, directly and indirectl~., of \r-horn I name onl!- a fe~v u-ho, by the inspiration of their ol\-n u-ork or by their comments on mine, head the list of benefactors: hlarilyn Arthur. Ann Bergren, Jenny Cia)-. Nanc\- Felson- Rubin. Ruth Finnegan. Gregory kaf. ~ e o r Nugent. ~ a Piero Pucci. Peter Rose, Joseph Russo, Seth Schein. Laura Slatkin, and Jean-Pierre I'ernant. Jt'hen it comes to Joanna Hitchcock of the Princeton Uni\-ersitr Press, the PREFACE vocabulary of praise breaks down. I cannot conceive how anyone conld illore fitly nlix a humane and personalized concern with the intelligence and precision one looks for in a good editor. I must also thank my scrup~~lous copyeditor Sherry Wert for catching a number of lapses in the man~iscript. And it would be impossible fully to recompense D. Elgie, whose quietly sustaining presence abbreviated this project's most arid interlude. As the notes indicate, parts of Chapters 1 and 2 appeared in less developed versions in Arc)thtrsa 16, nos. 1-2 (1983), as Tests and Unrefi-acted Facts: Philology, Hermeneutics and Senliotics, and in Av~thzlsa 10, no. 1 ( 1977), as Oedipus and Erichthonius: So~lle Obsei-vations on Paradigmatic and Syntagmatic Order. respectively. Revised portions of my essay Prophecy Degree Zero: Tiresias and the End of the Odl~ss~y, fro111 Of-alitd: Cultzo-0, Lrttel-atrrl-a. Discorso, edited by ~i-uno Gentili and Giuseppe Paioiri (Rome: Edizioni dell' Ateneo, 1986) appear in Chapters 2 and 3. I am grateful for pern~ission to republish this material. The test of the Odyss~~ used here is P. \ion der Rluehll's (Basil 1962). The translations are my own except where otherwise indicated. X \' CORRIGENDA P. 12, line 12. fir monstrosity read n~ons(rosity P. 15, line 8. For 1983 read 1978 P. 34, line 32. hlserl A lje/~~vcen 8 and A P. 49, line 3/E. For~ny rmd by P. 50, line 17. hlsel-/ c-o~l~~lla,dcr mansions P. 58, line 3. For'ibeoea~ read ibeoea~ P. 108, line 35. For Friigrcic/lischen rear/ F~~~iccl~iscI~c~~ P. 117, line 1. For Aae~iabew read Aae~~iabew P. 124, line 21. For XB~LQE read fixeqp~ P. 124, line 33. For pq~ia ~ij' rend pqgi' P. 128, line 10. J~~TAuToAvK' readau~6av~' P. 128, line 15. For xovaup6~~i~av read P. 133, line 20. For Mackey read Macksey P. 135, line 27. For lo forgel are read ro forget... P. 135, line 30. For him' read him P. 136, line 5,u~d 10. For oioq read oio~ P. 137, line 28. For read 19.4 P. 138, line 27. For inucll-prayed-for;' read much-prayed-for P. 14 5, note 3. For ~giyeqwv P. 14 6, line 27. For352 read 462 P. 178, linc 1. For Necdllan, Rodney Ag;unst he Trmquih~y of hio~r~s. Be r kc ley rcad Ncedhan, Rodney Piiir~ordi~d Chlwaclers. Charlottesvillc. read T Q L ~ ~ Q ~ V Man in the Middle Voice Chapter 1 POLYSEMANTOR: TEXTS, PHILOLOGY, IDEOLOGY There are no facts; only interpretations. -Friedrich Nietzsche Interpretation can never be brought to an end, simply because there is nothing to interpret. There is nothing absolutely primary to be interpreted, since fundamentally everything is already interpretation; every sign is, in itself, not the thing susceptible to interpretation but the interpretation of other signs. -Michel Foucault, Nietzsche, Freud, Marx Language is not an abstract system of normative forms but a concrete heterological opinion on the world. Every word gives off the scent of a profession, a genre, a current, a party, a particular work, a particular man, a generation, an era, a day, and an hour. Every word smells of the context in which it has lived its intense social life; all words and all forms are inhabited by intentions. In the word, contextual harmonies (of the genre, of the current, of the individual) are unavoidable. -MikhaiI Bakhtin. Discourse in the Novel To TAKE the Odyssey as one's topic in so distinguished a series as the Martin Classical Lectures, to try to write yet another book on a text that has known so many readers and generated so much commentary, may indeed seem like the height of temerity. And yet, if I exhibit a perilous rashness 4 CHAPTER 1 : POLYSEMAhTTOR here, I have plenty of company. There has been a steady stream of books on the Odyssey in recent years, ranging from those whose perspective combines the best in traditional philologcal analysis with an equally traditional humanist aesthetic, to one of the most recent additions, a Derridian, deconstructionist, intertextual reading of the poem. And there are others, and not a few, yet in the works. One may find differing explanations for this concentration on the Odyssey. Those attuned to current theoretical and methodological discussion would argue that this is a truly perplexed and disruptive text, and was no less so to nineteenth- and early twentieth-century philologists who, to blunt its scandal, scanned and dissected it, stratified it into earlier and later parts, better and worse parts, sifted it for inconsistencies, all in the search for an uncontaminated original to match their own implicit model of the work of art as an organic and harmonious whole, and of the human subject as a consistent and harmonious whole. In the wake of theoretical movements culminating in deconstructionism, however, this same perplexed and disruptive text becomes a paradigm for a less authoritative, less confident, more dialectical view of text production (writing), and of text reception (reading), and indeed for a more discordant view of the human subject. If the approach in the present study shows unabashed signs of contemporary theoretical and semiotic perspectives, it is not out of any disdain for philology. On the contrary, I firmly believe that, however much philology and semiotics may now seem to be ranged against one another as polemical alternatives, the situation has to do more with the historical development of philology since the nineteenth century than with anything inherent in the nature of either philology or semiotics. A brief consideration of that history may help us understand the methodological crisis in which the profession stands,' a crisis that dramat- This discussion of the relationship between philology and semiotics is adapted from Peradotto 1983. TEXTS, PHILOLOGY, IDEOLOGY 5 ically affects both the way we read and the way we explicate a text like the Odyssey. Philology is not, like semiotics, a philosophical position or a method grounded in a philosophical position, at least not one that is explicit; rather it is a set of skills and practices for the elucidation of texts. That set of skills and practices does not per se exclude semiotics. But although the title of their national professional association still gives American classicists the assurance that philology is their middle name, within its ranks there is diminishing agreement on the precise range of practices legitimately embraced by the term, while, outside its ranks in the world at large, the term signifies, among the precious few who have ever heard it, a dead or dying thing. That was not always the case. Its parameters, less than a century ago, were proud indeed. In the Encyclopedia Britannica prior to its 1926 edition, the huge entry on philology began like this: Philology: the generally accepted comprehensive name for the study of the word (Greek, logos) or languages; it designates that branch of knowledge which deals with human speech, and with all that speech discloses as to the nature and history of man. By contrast, the article in the 1926 edition, carried up until the most recent revision of the Britannica, reads like an obituary: Philology: a term now rarely used but once applied to the study of language and literature. It survives in the titles of a few learned journals that date to the 19th century. See Linguistics. The profound change expressed in the transition between those two texts forces us to ask some fairly uncomfortable questions. First: Why has American classical philology so relentlessly and, 1 must say, successfully resisted the inroads of current methodological inquiry arising from ongoing philosophical reflection and interdisciplinary dialogue, an inquiry that has had such profound and in some cases divisive effects on all other literary fields, including scriptural studies, and even on historical studies? And why, amidst this general disregard, is semiotics a special object of revulsion? Or is revulsion too strong a word 6 CHAPTER 1 : POLYSEIMAN-TOR for what might better be construed as a conspiracy of silence? If this hold-out position in Classics were deliberate, and I am not sure that it is-if, in other words, it were the product of informed reflection and open dialogue-it might become even more stubbornly entrenched by experiencing something like exoneration in a not imperceptible shift in literary studies outside classics-paralleling those in politics, religion, economics, and cultural criticism in the 1980s-away from structural and poststructural perspectives and formats toward traditional claims for philosophical realism, humanism, determinacy of meaning, normativeness of authorial intention, and t
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