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Weavingpseudeahomoiaetumoisin'falsethingsliketorealthings'.5.Helen's"GoodDrug"

5.HELENSGOODDRUG[1]
I.
WeresomeonetoformulateaFoucaultianepistmforarchaicGreekthought,itmightbesomeversion
ofpolarity.[3]TobegintostudyGreekistolearnofitspervasiveantitheses,builtaroundtheparticles,
,ontheonehand,and,ontheotherhand.Supportedbysuchsyntaxarethedualitiesofmyth,
philosophy,andsocialorganization,pairssovarious,subtle,andinterconnectedbyoppositionand
analogythattheprincipleofanalogousbipolaroppositionswouldseemtobethementalparadigmof
theage.FromthemagisterialstudyofG.E.R.Lloyd,PolarityandAnalogy:TwoTypesof
ArgumentationinEarlyGreekThought,comevividexamples:thePythagoreanTableofOpposites
listingtenpairsofoppositeprincipleslimitedandunlimited,oddandeven,oneandplurality,rightand
left,maleandfemale,atrestandmoving,straightandcurved,lightanddarkness,goodandevil,square
andoblongthevariouspreSocratictheoriesofwhatdeterminesthesexofthechildforParmenides,
thepositioninthewomb(rightformales,leftforfemales),forEmpedocles,thetemperatureofthewomb
atconception(hotterformen,colderforwomen),andforAnaximander,thesidefromwhichthefathers
seedcame(rightformales,leftforfemales)andtherepeatedclaimintheHippocraticcorpusthat
diseaseiscausedbyanimbalanceinapairofoppositesandthat,asaresult,counterbalancing
oppositeseffectcures:oppositesarecuresforopposites.[4]To
Lloydsdatafromphilosophyandscience,wemayaddtheevidenceofHomericepic.
StructuralistanalysisshowshowtheHomericworldisbaseduponsystemsofanalogicaloppositions.
[5]InhisstudyofOdysseanpoeticsNormanAustinconcludesthatwhatevertheoriginalimpulse,itis
clearthatHomericmanseestheworldthroughthestructureofpolarityandthatanalogicalthoughtis
fundamentaltoHomeritisthroughanalogythatthevariousphenomenaandexperiencesareattributed
tooneortheotherofthepolaroppositions.[6]Thisdeclarationisborneoutbytechnicalstudiesofthe
HomericKunstsprache,theartificialandtraditionaldictionofwhichtheepicsarecomposed.Here
formulationsofstructuralistlinguistics,suchasmarkedvs.unmarkedpairsandthefundamentaltenet
thatthemeaningofawordresidesinitsdifferentialrelationswithotherwords,intersectwithsuch
insightsofMilmanParryastheeconomyofformulas(thetendencytouseonlyoneformtofillagiven
metricalandsemanticfunction)andthegenerationofformulasbyanalogy.Tociteoneelegantinstance,
LeonardMuellnerdemonstratesintheeconomyoftheirformulaicusageamarkedvs.unmarkedpairof
theverbs,tosay,vs.tosaywithsacral,legal,orheroicforce.[7]Atalllevels,from
dictiontotheme,Homericepicrevealsfundamentalanalogouspolaritiesandnowheremoresothanin
theopeningofOdysseyiv.

II.
WhenwithTelemachusatthestartofBookiv,wecometothepalaceofMenelausandHelen,weenter
aworldofdualities.Thefirsteveningthereisdividedintotwomovements:theone,extendingfromthe
startofthebanquetuptoMenelausattempttoputanendtotheafterdinnerspeeches,andtheother,
fromHelensreintroductionofspeechesuptotheretirementofeveryoneforthenight(Odysseyiv1
218,219305).Eachofthesemovementsisitselfdividedintotwo.Thefirst,presidedoverby
Menelaus,beginsasaweddingfeastforhischildrenandendsasafuneralwitheulogiesand
lamentationfortheGreeklosses,chieflytheabsentOdysseus.Inthesecond,governedbyHelen,her
storyaboutOdysseusismatchedbyanotherbyMenelaus.Andwithintheseunits,thepolarities
proliferate.
TheweddingcelebrationkeynotesthiseveninginSparta.Withitweencountertheoriginallocusofthe
TrojanWar,themarriageofMenelausandHelen,asitisnowrecreatedandabout,itwouldseem,to
reduplicateitselfinthemarriagesofitschildren.Forthisisadoublewedding.Notonlyaretheretwo
weddings,thatofHermione,thedaughterofHelenandMenelaus,toAchillesson,Neoptolemus,and
thatofMegapenthes,thesonofMenelausandaslavewoman,tothedaughterofAlector,butoneis
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Weavingpseudeahomoiaetumoisin'falsethingsliketorealthings'.5.Helen's"GoodDrug"

present,takingplaceinSparta,andoneisabsent,takingplaceatAchilleshome(Odysseyiv314).
TheexistenceofwarisacknowledgeditwasatTroythatMenelauspromisedHermionetothesonof
manbreakerAchillesbutitiskeptabsent,inthepast.NowNeoptolemushasreturnedhomefrom
Troyandisjoinednotinbattlebutinmarriagetothelovely()Hermione,theincarnationof
goldenAphrodite(Odysseyiv89,1314).Theeroticreigns,andamidthebanquetingneighborsand
thedanceracrobats,thepoetstationsanotherpoetsingingwhatmustbeepithalamia(Odysseyiv15
19).Butthen,followingadeclarationofthefunctionofguestfriendexchange,thismarriagesong
changesintoafuneraldirge.
InthemidstoftheweddingfeastarriveTelemachusandPeisistratus,twowhoare,thatis,
guestsorothersthanthosewhobelongatSparta.Thisfundamentaloppositionoffriend,ownvs.
guest,other(vs.)ismediatedbytheprincipleandpracticeofguestfriendship.
Menelausreply,whenaskedifthetwostrangersshouldbereceived,encapsulatesthenorm:
,,
:.

,
.
Youwereneverafool,Eteoneus,sonofBoethous,
before,butnowindeedyoubabblefoolishness,likeachild.
Surelyitwasbyhavingeatenmanygiftsofguestfriendship
fromothermenthatwetwocamebackhere.MayZeus
onlymakeanendofmiseryhereafter.
Odysseyiv3135
BecauseMenelausreceivedhospitalitywhenhewasawanderer,he,too,shouldgiveit,nowthatheis
home.Hissufferingmayrecommenceatanytime,wheneverZeussomoves.Lifeoscillatesbetween
sufferingandsafety,andtocounterbalancethesystemforall,thoseintimesofgoodfortunemustaid
thosewhoarenotbytreatingthemasown(totreattheasa).[8]Suchaid
consists,aswenotice,ofabathbyservantwomenandagenerousshareofthefeast(Odysseyiv48
67).
Bymediatingthesocialoppositionbetweenand,Menelausactofguestfriendship
moveshisportionoftheeveningfromoneritualwithitsparticularkindofsongtoitsantipode.Foritis
thewelcomedguest,Telemachus,whoinitiatesthemodulationfrommarriagesongtofuneral
dirge,whenhecomparestheglitteringwealthheseesallaroundhimthegleamofbronze,gold,
electrum,silver,andivorytothepalaceofZeusonOlympus(Odysseyiv7175).Menelausreplies
withthefirstoftwospeeches(anotherdoublet)thatendbyarousinglamentation.Heacknowledgeshis
riches,butthenexposestheeconomybywhichtheywereboughtwithirremediableloss:hisbrother
Agamemnonmurderedwhilehewasawaywanderingandcollectingthewealth,andbeforethat,the
deathsoftheGreekswhofoughtatTroy(Odysseyiv8099).Thushehasnojoyinhiswealth,butonly
thedelightoflamentationthatalternateswithitsopposite,thesurfeitoflamentation.

,
:.
Butneverthelessmourningallthesemenandsorrowing
overandoverasIsitinourhalls
atonetimeIdelightinmyheartinlamentation,andatanothertimeagain
Istop.Forsurfeitofgloomylamentationisquick.
Odysseyiv100103
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InparticularhelamentsforOdysseus,who,whenremembered,dividesMenelauslifeintofoodand
sleep,ontheonehand,andmournfulrecollectionontheother:
,,
,
,,
.
ForalloftheseIdonotmournsomuch,despitemysorrow,
asforone,whomakessleepandfoodhatefultome
whenIrememberhim,sincenooneoftheAchaeanstoiledsomuch
asOdysseustoiledandendured.
Odysseyiv104107
Inlikemanner,asifmourningiscontagious,byrecollectingthesesorrowsofthepast,Menelaus
arousesinthesonofOdysseusdesireforlamentation(Odysseyiv113).Afewminutes
laterMenelausanswershisfirsteulogywithanothermemoryofthewargonebyhowhewantedto
settleOdysseusupontheirreturninoneofhisclientcities,wherewewouldmingletogether
(),andnothingwouldseparateus,lovinganddelightingourselvestwotogether(notethe
duals:),untiltheblooddarkcloudofdeathcoveredusover(Odysseyiv178
180).Againhisrecollectionexcites,andallweep,evenPeisistratuswhoremembershis
brotherkilledatTroy(Odysseyiv183188).
ItisnowPeisistratus,however,whomovestoclosetheoccasion,toswitchitbackfromfuneraltofeast.

,
.
ForImyself
takenodelightindinnermixedwithtears,butindeeddawn
willbeearlyborn.
Odysseyiv193195
Thealternationofnightanddayforbidssuspendinganimationinprolongedmourning.Menelausreadily
accedes:heandTelemachuscanexchangemorestoriesinthemorning(Odysseyiv212215).Upon
hisdirection,waterispouredandallthemen,theirhandsnowwashedoftheseIliadicrecollectionsof
war,turnbacktothefeast(Odysseyiv216218).
Initstwopartstructure,initscontraryritualsandinitsdetaileddualities,thisfirstportionoftheevening
atSpartaenacts,itwouldseem,theworkingoftheworldandoflanguageasmediationorexchangeor
alternationofopposites.Tworituals,wedding/funeraltwopoeticgenres,epithalamium/dirgetwosexes,
male/femaletwotimes,past/presenttwoplaces,present/absenttwocategoriesofperson,own/other
ofeconomy,gain/lossofactivity,rememberandweep/sleepandeat.Betweenthemembersofeach
pairthereexistsarelationvariouslynamedinthisportionofthetextasmarriage(),exchange
()andalternation(...).Suchistheconstitutionhereofbothorderand
speech.AndwhenHelenintervenes,inauguratingthesecondhalfoftheeveninganddelaying
theclosureuponspeeches,thischaracteroftheHomericisinitiallyconfirmed.

III.
Inoppositiontoherhusbandsattempttoregulatetheproductionofspeeches,Helen
thoughtotherwise(Odysseyiv219).Hercounteractiondividesthiseveningintotwoparts,butparts
thatmatch,insofaraseachismadeupofspeechesandactionsthatexemplifyaworldofpolarities.Itis
tocontinuetheexchangeofstoriesthatHelenintervenes,toimitate,thereby,herhusbands
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portionoftheevening.Heractiondiffersfromthatofherhusbandbybeingdescribedintermsthatcast
thewifeasapoet,onewhoworks,likethepoetoftheOdyssey,withinapoeticsofanalogouspolarities.
Fortracingthetermsofheractionrevealsanotherdoubleopposition:twocontrarypoeticgenres
paralleltotwocontrarykindsofdrugs.
HereisthedescriptionofHelensintervention:
,,
,.
,,
,
,

,.
,
,,
,
,:

:.
,
.
Atonceintothewinetheyweredrinkingshecastadrug,
bothgrieflessandangerless,aforgetfulnessofallevils.
Whoevershoulddrinkitdown,onceitwasmixedinthebowl,
forthatdayindeedwouldnotletatearfalldownhischeeks,
notifbothhismotherandfathershoulddie,
notifrightbeforehimmenshouldslaywiththebronze
hisbrotherorhisownson,andwithhiseyesheshouldseeit.
SuchwerethecraftydrugsthedaughterofZeuspossessed,
goodones,giventoherbythewifeofThon,Polydamna,
ofEgypt,wherethefertileearthbearsthemost
drugs,manygoodwhenmixedandmanybaneful,
andeverymanthereisadoctor,withknowledgebeyondall
humankind.ForindeedtheyareoftheraceofPaeon.
Nowwhenshehadcastinthedrugandorderedthewinetobepoured,
beginningagainthestoriesshespoke.
Odysseyiv220234
Thecontextsoftheworddruginhexameterdictiondepictdrugsintheircapacitytocureor
todestroyasanalogoustotwofacesofpoetry.Parallelterminologydisplaysthefollowingcorresponding
doublets:
twogenresofdrug
Helensdrug

Circesdrugs[10]

griefless

good(vs.baneful)[11]

baneful(vs.good)[12]

produces

makesone

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Weavingpseudeahomoiaetumoisin'falsethingsliketorealthings'.5.Helen's"GoodDrug"

forgetfulness()ofallevils

forget()thefatherland[13]

twogenresofpoetry
fame[14]

baneful[15]

aboutfamousdeeds[16]

about(banefuldeeds)

makesone

produces

forgetcares

unforgettable
grief

(vs.griefinaspiritwithfresh

care)
Helensdrugis,then,likethepoetryoffame.Itissoeffectiveanantidotetogrief
thatatthetragedyofyourfamily,youwouldsenseonlygloryandwouldnotweep.WiththisdrugHelen
cannowsupplywhatthebanquethaslackedheretofore,remembranceofthepastwithoutpain.For
indeed,justassheaddsadrugwiththepowerofpoetic,soshewillnowsupplya
storywiththepropertiesofhergooddrug.[20]UnlikeMenelausearlierrecollections,Helens
willbeapainlesspainfulmemory.Bythisdruglikenarrativesupplement,eventsnaturallytragic
forsomeoftheaudiencewillbedetoxified.Asongofthebanefulgenreforsomewillsound
likeandwillbeheardbyallwithoutlossorsuffering.Bythusdescribingherdruganditsverbal
counterpart,thepoetcastsHelenintheroleplayedbyhimselfandbytheOdysseantraditionhe
repeatstheroleofmakingpastdeedspresentwithfortheactorsanddelightforthe
audience.Helensdrug/storywillbe,therefore,theoppositeofMenelauspartof
theeveningjustasfemaleistheoppositeofmale,wifeofhusband,andOdysseyofIliadbutitwillbe
theequalofitsmateinconstitution.Forbotharebasedupontheassumptionofanalogouspolarities,
controllableandmutuallyexclusive,towhichpoetryanddrugsoffernoexception.
Atleastinitially,thecontentofHelensdrugstorymaintainsthisidentity.Afternamingheraudience,she
abruptlyinvokesthealternationofoppositesattheheartoftheuniverse:

:
:.
SonofAtreus,godnourishedMenelaus,youandthese
childrenofgoodmen:however,thegodatonetimetooneandatanotherto
another,
Zeus,givesbothgoodandevil.Forhehasallpower.
Odysseyiv235237
Andafterthisinvocation,shedeclaresherselfabard:

:.
Nowindeedfeastyourselves,seatedinthehall,
anddelightyourselveswithstories.ForIwillnarratethelikely.
Odysseyiv238239
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Hertalewillconsistof:thingsliketothetruth,fittingfortheoccasion,andnothardtobelieve.
[21]FromthissphereofthepersuasivecomesthestoryofOdysseusthatHelennowtells:
IcouldnottellyouallthenumbernorcouldIname
howmanyarethestrugglesofenduringheartedOdysseus,
butsuchathingasthisthestrongmanenduredandaccomplished
intheTrojanscountry,whereyouAchaeanssufferedwoes.
Hebeathimselfwithunseemlyblows,
thenthrewacheapsheetaroundhisshoulders,andinthelikenessofaservant,
hecreptintothewidewayedcityoftheenemymen.
Byhidinghimselfhelookedlikeanotherman,
abeggar.NeverwastheresuchamanbesidetheshipsoftheAchaeans.
LiketothisonehecreptintotheTrojanscity,andtheyweretakenin
allofthem.Ialonerecognizedhimevensodisguised,
andIquestionedhim.Buthebyhiscraftinesseludedme.
ButwhenindeedIwasbathinghimandanointinghimwitholiveoil
andIputclothinguponhimandsworeagreatoath
nottorevealtotheTrojansthatthiswasOdysseus
untilhereachedtheswiftshipsandtheshelters,
thenatlasthetoldmethewholeplanoftheAchaeans.
ThenafterkillingmanyTrojanswiththethinedgedbronze,
hereturnedtotheArgivesandbroughtbackmuchintelligence.
AtthattheotherTrojanwomenwerecryingoutshrill,butmyheart
washappy,sincealreadymyhearthadturnedtogoing
backhomeagain,andIwasmourningoverthedelusionthatAphrodite
gave,whensheledmetherefrommyownfatherland,
forsakingmychildandmybedroomandmyhusband,
amanwholacksnothingeitherinsenseorinappearance.
Odysseyiv240264
WiththisaccountofhisexploitinTroy,HelenbecomesapoetofOdysseusfame.Andindeed,
asisoftennoted,hertale,whileconcernedwiththeTrojanWar,forecastsaswellthefameOdysseus
attainsintheOdysseyitself,whenheagainentersacitycovertlyandkillsthosehesucceedsintricking
withhisdisguiseasabeggar.[22]
BesidespraisingOdysseus,Helensstoryisperfectlyconcoctedtopresentanimageofherselfthatwill
impressanddelightheraudienceofGreekpartisans.AstheonlyonetohaverecognizedOdysseus,
sheshowsherselfevenmorethanhe,amasterofdisguise.Therevelationofherheartsownreaction
tothemurderoftheTrojanssetsherapartasatrueallyoftheGreeks,onlyanapparentcollaborator
withtheirenemy.HowappealingforMenelaus,Telemachus,andPeisistratustobeabletoseeHelen,
theobjectofallthesacrificestheywerejustlamenting,asavictimofAphroditesmachinations.How
flatteringtoherhusbandtoconcludewiththesecompliments.Heraim,itappears,isnotonlythe
ofOdysseus,butalsoherownfameamongtheassembledmen.
YetHelensrecollectionisoddlyellipticalandwhenquestioned,itsfoundationsslip.[23]Howdidthis
mendicantOdysseuscometobereceivedintheroyalhouseandbathedbynoneotherthanHelen
herself?EarlieritwasservantwomenwhobathedTelemachusandPeisistratus.WhatwasHelendoing
bathinganakedbeggar?WhydidOdysseuspermithimselftobebathed,anointed,andclothedbya
womanwhoseearlierrecognitionandquestioninghehadtoelude?Whyisitnecessarytoomitthe
answerstothesequestions,ifHelensgooddrugcancureanynegativesideeffectsofthestory?And,
indeed,whatinHelensstorywouldbebanefulwithoutthegooddrugandforwhom?Would
OdysseusvictorybyviolationofguestfriendshipbeshamefultoTelemachus?WouldHelens
intimacywithOdysseusbepainfultoMenelaus?Andifso,whydoessheincludeit?Isshetryingnot
onlytoenhancehergloryandtoflatterherhusband,buttoseduceheryoungguestwithglimpsesofa
sexualscenewithhisfather?RecollectionsintheOdysseyaremodesofcharacterization.Isthepoet
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hereshowinghowHelendoesit,howsheonceseducedParis,anotheryoungguest,andcaneverre
seduceherhusbandbyrepresentingrealityasthesemenwanttohearit?Thiswouldbeamagnificent
fameforHelen,comparabletoOdysseusvictoriesthroughdeceit.
IfsuchafameistheaimofHelenandofthepoet,too,itdoesnotlastforlong.Itisasbriefas
Menelauspreviousattempttoendtherecollectionsofthepast.FortothesupplementofHelens
drug/storycomesthesupplementofMenelausantiphonalreply.Thegooddrugof
Helensrepresentationofthepastengendersadoubletthatisalsoarival.Menelausstoryisa
productofthesamedrug,thesamepowertorecallthepastwithoutpain.Butnowbyits
veryworking,thisdruglosesitspositivevalenceandpoisonsthefameofHelenthatithasjust
produced.[24]
MenelaustaleisclearlymarkedasthedoubletofHelens.Heopensbyrepeatingherline,butsucha
thingasthisthestrongmanenduredandaccomplished(Odysseyiv271=iv242).Histale,too,isa
glorificationofOdysseus,anothervictorythroughdisguise:
InsidethewoodenhorsewewhoweregreatestoftheArgiveswereallsitting
andbringingdeathanddestructiontotheTrojans.
Thenyoucamethereyouwillhavebeenordered
bysomedivinespirit,whowishedtoextendglorytotheTrojans.
AndgodlikeDeiphobusfollowedbesideyouasyoucame.
Threetimesyoucircledthehollowambush,feelingitallaround,
andyoucalledouttothebestoftheDanaansbyname,
likeningyourvoicetothevoicesofthewivesofalltheArgives.
NowImyselfandthesonofTydeusandshiningOdysseus
weresittinginthemiddleofthemandheardyouasyoucriedout.
DiomedesandIstartedup,bothdetermined
togooutsideortoansweratoncefrominside,
butOdysseuspulledusdownandheldus,forallourdesire.
ThenalltheothersonsoftheAchaeansweresilent,
butAnticlusalonewantedtoansweryouwithwords
butOdysseuspressedhismouth
mercilesslywithhisstronghandsandsavedalltheAchaeans,
andheheldhimthus,untilPallasAthenaledyoubackaway.
Odysseyiv272289
Inthisadditiontotheaddition,however,theelementofdisguisehasreduplicated,fornowHelen,too,is
animitatorandOdysseus,theonewhoseesthroughtheruse.Herethebipolaroppositioncollapses,
asbothOdysseusandHelenfillthesamecategoryofdisguiserhebymeansofthehorseandshe
bythevoiceswhileOdysseussimultaneouslyoccupiesthecontrarycategoryofdiscerner.
Similarly,thesign,recollectionwithoutpain,slipsfromthestatusofagoodproduceroffame
tothatofadeconstructor,foritpermitsMenelaustorecalltheonefactthatbeliesHelens
previousselfportraitandretroactivelyrendersherstoryyetanotherfictitiousimitationofthe
voiceofaGreekwife.Asifhecaughtitfromtheendofhertale,Menelausopenshisownwiththesame
explanationforHelensantiGreekactivity,theinterferenceofagod.Butinsertedbetweenthisdefense
andhisfullaccountofhertrick,asifrecollectedbyaccidentalongthechainofassociations,isthe
crucialdetail:andgodlikeDeiphobusfollowedbesideyouasyoucame(Odysseyiv276).This
DeiphobusisHelenssecondTrojanhusband,themanshemarriedafterthedeathofParis,afigure
whobeliesherclaimthatevenbackwhenOdysseusinfiltratedthecity,herallegiancewasalreadywith
theGreeks.[25]Helensdrughasrecoileduponitspractitioner.BypermittingMenelausto
recallwithoutpainwhatpainmighthavekeptbeyondrecall,Helensgooddrugandhergoodtale
haveremindedMenelausofanother,similarfeatofOdysseus,onethatviolatesherclaimtoand
tonarratingthingsliketothetruth.
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YetbycounteractingtheeffectofHelensstory,Menelausalsodeactivateshisown,forthey
sharethesamepharmacology.Bothresultfromthesameattempttorecallthepastwithoutpain,to
dividedrugsandpoetryintogovernableopposites.ButtheoppositeofHelensdrug
storyisadoublewithadifference,bothdrugandantidote(justasinsideMenelaustale,Helenis
disguiserandOdysseusbothdisguiseranddiscerner).Onceinvoked,inamannerthatforecaststhe
patternsoftragedy,thepowerofdrugsandpoetrydefeatsallattemptstodivideandcontrolit:inboth
speeches,byitssuccessfuloperationthegooddrugfails.HeretherecollectionofIliadictraditions
aboutOdysseusinordertoproduceOdysseanpleasureimperfectlyrepressesIliadicpain.Suchisthe
testimonyofourcounterpart,Telemachus.Inresponsetobothtaleshesays,Itisallthemorepainful
(),foreventheseexploitsdidnotguardmyfatherfrombaneful()destruction(Odysseyiv
292).Come,hesays,letusturntosleep.Andwiththat,thecouplesreturntotheearlierpolaritiesand
sleepapart,themenoutside,andthemanandwomaninside,besideoneanother(Odysseyiv294
305).

IV.
Issuchareturntotheearliermodelofmeaningbypolarityopentotheaudience?WehaveseenHelen
attempttoapplytopainfulrecollectionaremedydefined,accordingtoanontologyofgovernable
opposites,asgood(vs.baneful)andwatchedthedrug(re)assertitsambivalenceagainstthis
attemptatlogicaldomination.WehaveseenHomericlanguagechangefromastructureofanalogical
oppositesintodifferingdoublets,whosedifferenceisnotstable.ThegooddrugofHelensstory
becomesthegoodbanefuldrugofitsnonidenticaltwin:inrepeatingitselfitreversesitself,leaving
eachtaleanindistinctgainloss.Withsuchaconstitution,Helenshalfoftheeveningnolonger
appearstobetheequaloppositeofherhusbands.Rather,likeMenelauscomplementtoHelensstory,
Helenshalfoftheeveningcomesasadoublewithsomethingdifferent,somethinginexcess.Itnow
appearsthatthetexthaschangedfromworkingaccordingtostructuralistsemioticstoenactingthe
operationofthesignasdescribedbyDerrida.[27]Yet,thisappearanceisdeceiving.Nosuchchange
couldoccur,oratleastnotintheseterms.Ifiteverworkedbypureoppositions,notextcanbean
allegoryoftheDerrideananalysisoflanguage.IfthepolaritiesofMenelauspartoftheeveningare
mutuallyexclusive,allwemaysee,afterHelenaddshergooddrugtothewine,isatemporarily
inebriatedtext.ForthetexttoexemplifytheDerrideananalysisoflanguage,anyreturntotheearlier
polaritiesmustrevealthemtohavebeenalwaysalreadyimperfect.
AfterobservingtheeffectsofHelensgooddrug,wemaynoticeitstracesinthefirstpartofthe
evening.Noneoftheearliertermsnowgivestheimpressionofunalloyedidentity.First,marriage.Inthe
namesofthecouples,thisunionisoccupiedbyadversaries.Warisnotsuccessfullykeptinthepast,for
evenasagroom,Neoptolemus()istheonetowhomnotawedding,butwar
()isnew().TohismarriageMegapenthes()contributesgreatgrief,that
griefsupposedlyabsentfromHelensdrug(griefless,Odysseyiv221)and
forgottenuponhearingasongoffame.Thisdoubleweddingdoesanddoesnotreproducethe
marriageofMenelausandHelen,forthisGreatGriefisthechildofMenelausandaslavewoman,a
unionwithinandwithoutthelegitimatefamily.Whileunitingoppositesexesforlegitimateprocreation,
marriagehereimperfectlyexcludeswar,grief,andillegitimateintercoursewithanextrafemale.Within
theepithalamiumsoundthenotesofadirge.[28]
ThefunerallikerecollectionsbyMenelausthatfollowtheannouncementofthisdoublemarriageare
similarlyimpure.Heretermsbelongingtothediscourseofsexualityandthefamegenreof
poetryarecoupledwiththelanguageoflamentation.ByusingtheverbIdelightwithin
lamentation(Odysseyiv102),Menelaussays,ineffect,thathegainsfrommourningthepleasure
producedbypoetryorbygoldenAphrodite.[29]InhissecondrecollectionMenelausappliesthe
dictionofsexualintercoursetotherelationshiphelongedforwithOdysseus,limitingitsspantotheir
lifetimes:andgoingtherewewouldmingletogether(),andnothingwouldseparateus,
lovinganddelightingourselvestwotogether(duals:),untiltheblooddark
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cloudofdeathcoveredusover(Odysseyiv17880).[30]Yetbythelitanythatfollowseachof
Menelausspeeches,andhearousedthedesireforlamentation()(Odysseyiv113,183),
thisseparationbetweensexanddeathisbridged.Forinadditiontoitsunmarkedsenseofdesire,
bearsinhexameterdictionthemarkedmeaningofsexualurge,ameaningbroughttomindnow
bytheearlierfocusonmarriage,byMenelausownuseoferoticterminology,and,inretrospect,bythe
sexualrelationsdescribedinthespeechesofHelenandMenelaus.[31]Inthiscontext,thephrase
becomes,like,anoxymoron.JustasHelensimitationofthevoicesofthe
GreekwivesarousedintheGreeksthesexualurgetobreakopenthehorseandmeetcertaindeath,so
Menelausrecollectionsarousealustforlamentation.Asaritualtoseparateoppositestatesofbeing,
thisfuneralimperfectlyrepressestheeroticbondbetweenthelivingandthedead.Withinthisdirgeare
heardthestrainsofdelight.
Withinthefirsthalfofthebanquet,therefore,andparticularlywithinthesetwofunerealrecollectionsby
Menelaus,wenowseethattheoppositionsareasunstableastheyarewithinthesecondhalf.Wesee
thatthetermstherelifeanddeath,lustandlamentation,sexualandpoeticdelightoveragainst
mourning,theritualofmarriagewithitsmusicoveragainstafuneralwithitssongareinmotion,with
oneinhabiting,howevertemporarily,theterritoryoftheother.Thisfirstmovementofthebanquetis,
indeed,structureduponanalogouspolaritiesindetectingthemwearenotdeceived.Buttheopposites
arenotfixedforever,theirexclusionofoneanotherisnottotalorpermanent,andwearemovedto
noticetheirmovementandadmixturetosupplementourfirstreadingwithitsinsufficientlyclose
attentiontothepotentialforthedynamicthroughtheworkingofHelensgooddrug.Wearesimilarly
notmistakentoanalyzeHomericlanguageandthoughtinstructuralistterms.Thepoststructuralist
theoryoflanguagesupplements,ratherthancancels,Saussure.Thestructuresofpolarandanalogous
oppositionsshouldbediscovered,alongwiththeirmovementsaswell.Asstructuralistmethodology
elucidatestheone,sotheDerrideancritiqueuncoverstheother.

V.
ThroughtheactionofHelensgooddrug,thisbanquetinSpartabecomesanallegoryofthemovement
ofopposingtermswithintwoopposingformsofrelationship,marriageandfuneral.Byneitherof
theserelations,eithermarriagethatjoinsordeaththatseparates,arecountervalentforcesexcluded.
Neitherunificationnordivisionisfinal.Marriageandthemarriagesongincludewarinthe
formofNeoptolemus(),theonetowhomwar()isnew()and
griefintheformofMegapenthes(),theonewhocontributesgreat()grief
().ndinfuneralanddirgethereissexualdesireanderoticandpoeticdelight.
Thelamentationanditspoeticcounterpart,Menelauspainful,Iliadicrecollections,donotexpeltheir
lustfulimpulsesandsatisfactions.AndwhenHelenattemptstoseparaterecollectionfrompainbythe
dividingofdrugsandofpoetry,hergooddrugstorymovesagainsther,(re)formingitselfasgood
baneful.HerimpulsetowardcreatingapurefamefromtheIliadicpastresultsincomic,
Odysseantalesthatdonotexcludepain.
Whenit(re)turnsuponHelen,thetextturnsuponitself,forthedivisionofdrugsandofpoetrybelongs,
aswehaveseen,toHomericdictionasawhole.Indeed,thewordsthatattempttoseparatedrugs
belongnottoacharacterintheepic,buttothepoetalone,and,likeHelensstory,theycontain
theirowncontradiction:
,.
drugs,manyontheonehandgoodmixed,manyontheotherbaneful.
Despitetheconstructionwithontheonehand...ontheother,theorderofthewordshere
imitateswhattheoperationofHelensdrugstoryproves:betweenthetwokindsofdrugs,
thereisnotexclusivedivision,butmixture(mixed)thatmoveswithitssemanticforcein
eitherdirection,bothtowardthegoodbeforeandthebanefulthereafter.Thetwo
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categoriesareoppositesindeed,exclusivebuttherelationshipbetweenthemisoneofpotential
movementandambivalentcombination.

Footnotes
[back]1.AnearlierversionofthisessayappearedinContemporaryLiteraryHermeneuticsandthe
InterpretationofClassicalTexts,editedbyS.Kresic,Ottawa,1981:200214.
[back]3.ForFoucaultsuseofepistmtodesignatethementalparadigmofaperiod,seeFoucault
1971b.
[back]4.Lloyd1971:16,17,withbibliography,2023.
[back]5.See,forexample,thestudiesofmythandritualbyVernantandDetienne(Vernant1965,
Detienne1967[=1996],1972a[=1977b],1972b[=1981],1977a,DetienneandVernant1974[=1978])
andtheanthropologicallyinformedanalysesbyVidalNaquet1970,Redfield1975,andFoley1978.
[back]6.Austin1975:90,105.
[back]7.Muellner1976.Forotherstudiesthatcombinethemethodologyofcomparativestructural
linguisticswiththeformulaicanalysispioneeredbyParry,seeBoedeker1974,Nagler1974,Nagy1974,
1979,Shannon1975,Clader1976,andFrame1978.Forthedistinction,markedvs.unmarked,see
Trubetzkoy1969andforitsstatusasalanguageuniversalthatappliestophonology,grammar,
semantics,andkinshipterminology,seeGreenberg1966.
[back]8.Fortheoppositionbetweenandandthemeaningoftheverb,see
Benveniste1969:I.341342.
[back]10.ForCircesdrugs,seeevildrugs(Odysseyx213),drugs(x290),
drug(x317),drugs(x326327),drug(x392),
accurseddrug(x394).
[back]11.Forgooddrugs,seeIliadXI830831whereEurypylusbegsPatroclusto
healhiswoundwithgentledrugs,thegoodonestheysayyouhavebeentaughtbyAchilles.
[back]12.ForCircesdrugsasbaneful,seeOdysseyx235236.Tocounteracttheforceof
Circesdrugs,HermesgivesOdysseusadrugthatisgood(Odysseyx287,292).
[back]13.Odysseyx235236:Intheirfoodshe[Circe]mixedbanefuldrugs(),in
orderthattheymightforgettheirfatherland().
[back]14.Forfameaswhatthebardrelates,havinghearditfromtheMuses,seeIliadII484
487:
:
,
:
.
Tellmenow,Muses,havinghomesonOlympus,
foryouaregoddessesandarepresentbesideandknowallthings,
butwehearonlythefameandknownothing:
whoweretheleadersandthelordsoftheDanaans.
CompareNagy1974:244261
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[back]15.Theadjectivebanefuldesignatesasongbymodifyingeitherthesongor
thesubjectofthesongthatproducesgrief,asinthecaseofthesongofthe
famoussinger,Phemius,whosangthebanefulhomecoming(
)oftheAchaeans.Uponhearingthissong,Penelopepleads:Ceasefromthisbanefulsong
()whicheverwearsawaytheheartinmybreast,sinceuponmemostofallhascome
unforgettablegrief()(Odysseyi325327,340342).Forthebaneful
homecomingoftheAchaeans,seealsoOdysseyiii132.Comparethebanefulfollyof
HeleninsleepingwithParisthatbroughtgrieftotheAchaeans(Odysseyxxiii223224).Note
alsothebanefuldestructionoftheGreeks,heardofbyTelemachus(Odysseyiii87),
thatofOdysseuswhichheasksfirstNestorandthenMenelaustonarrate(Odysseyiii9293,iv323),
andthatofAgamemnonatthehandsofAegisthusandClytemnestra(Odysseyiii194198,xxiv96).
ComparethedeathofAgamemnonasplottedbyAegisthus(Odysseyiii303)andClytemnestra
(Odysseyxi432),andtherevengeofOrestes,thefameofwhichtheGreekswillspreadwidely
evenformenofthefuturetolearn(Odysseyiii203204),andthebanefulsorrowsofthe
GreeksnarratedbyOdysseusasdoesasinger,withknowledge(Odyssey
xi368369).
[back]16.SeeHesiodTheogony98103:

,,

:.
Forifsomeonewhohasevengriefinhisspiritafflictedwithfreshcare
isparchedwithsorrowinginhisheart,yetabard,
theservantoftheMuses,hymnsthefamousdeedsofmengoneby
andtheblessedgods,whoholdOlympus,
atoncethismanindeedforgetshisanxietiesandnoneofhiscares
doesheremember:andswiftlythegiftsofthegoddessesturnthemaside.
[back]20.TheidentificationofHelensstorywithherdrugisanancient
interpretationfoundinPlutarchQuaestionesConviviales1.1.4,614candMacrobiusSaturnalia7.1.18
seeDupontRocandLeBoulluec1976:35.
[back]21.ForthesemeaningsofseeDupontRocandLeBoulluec1976:37n13.
[back]22.SeeAndersen1977:518,withbibliography.
[back]23.DupontRocandLeBoulluec1976:31,37n11,correlatethisspeechwiththerhetoricalfigure
ofenigma:specifically,withthekindsofenigmalistedintheancienttreatiseofTrypho,laseconde,
katenantion,pourraitsappliquerHlne,amiedesAchenstoutentantleurennemie,the
second,theoneinaccordancewiththeopposite,couldbeappliedtoHelen,friendoftheAchaeans,all
thewhilebeingtheirenemy.
[back]24.DupontRocandLeBoulluec1976:37n13,claimthattheforceofHelensdrugappliesonly
tohertaleandnottothatofMenelaus,butdonotexplainwhy.Thetwospeechesaremarkedas
doubletsbythesameopeningline(iv242=iv271)andbytheirsimilarthemesofroleplaying,
unmasking,anddivinemanipulationofHelen.ThereisnoreasontothinkthatMenelausdidnotdrink
thewinethatHelenmixedandthathisspeechisnottherebycoveredunderitsanalgesicpowers.What
istrueisthatthedrugdoesnotworkasadvertisedinthecaseofMenelausspeechandthatthis
dysfunctionthenclaimsHelensspeechaswell.
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[back]25.SeeAndersen1977:1012DupontRocandLeBoulluec1976:3031,andKakridis
1971:45.
[back]27.ForthecritiquebyDerridaofSaussuresstructuralistlinguistics,seeDerrida1967:4664.
TheversionofDerridasownviewsmostrelevanttothisHomerictextisLapharmaciedePlaton[=
Derrida1972a:71197].
[back]28.OtherarchaicGreekweddingsongsalsofailtosuppressthewaranddeaththatcounteract
marriage.Sappho44LP,theweddingofHectorandAndromache,endswithindirectallusionstothe
deathofHectorintheIliadthroughtheagencyofApolloandAchillesseeNagy1974:135139.
Similarly,inAlcaeushymntoHelenandThetis,42LP,theweddingofPeleusandThetisisframedby
descriptionsofthedeathsinthewaratTroyoverHelen,thelossesthatresultfromandincludethechild
ofthatmarriage,Achilles.
[back]29.Fortodelightanddelightasproducedbypoetry,seeOdysseyi346347,
421422,viii45,91,367368,429,xii52,xvii385,xxii330IliadIX186189,XVIII603604Hesiod
Theogony3637,fr.274MWandbysex,seeMimnermus,1.1West:,
Whatislife,whatisdelightwithoutgoldenAphrodite?Fortheoppositionbetween
andmourning,seeOdysseyxix513.
[back]30.Inadditiontobeingtheregulartermforsexualintercourse,theverbtomixisalso
usedofmixtureinhandtohandcombat(IliadXV510)oringuestfriendship(Odysseyxxiv
314).ncontextwiththedualforms,,andthecollocations,I
takepoeticandsexualdelightinmourningandsexualurgeforlamentation,however,the
eroticconnotationoftheverbisparamount.WithregardtotherelationshipbetweenMenelausand
Odysseus,notealsothesubtledistinctionbetweenhowMenelausandHelenregardtheTrojanwar:for
himitwastheGreeksfightingforhim,acaseofmenandaman,whileforHelenitwasacaseofmen
andawoman,theGreeksfightingforher(Odysseyiv145146,170).Loveamongmenwhofight
togetherisnotunHomeric:AchillesandPatroclusaretheparadigm,asPlatorecallsintheSymposium
179e180b.
[back]31.WhenHerabegsfromAphroditethegirdlewithwhichshecanseduceZeus,shesays,
nowgivemeloveandsexualdesire,andthesametermsareusedbythe
poettodescribewhatthelovecharmcontains(IliadXIV198,216).ComparealsoHomericHymnto
Aphrodite2,45,53,57,73,wheretheessentialnatureofthegoddessisthepowertoarouse,a
powerthatthreatensZeusandthathemustreappropriate.Theadjective,modifies
dancingplace,whenitisthesceneofsexualarousalorrape:Boedeker1974:4648,5051.Forthe
collocationofanddeath,compareSappho95LP,evidentlyconcerningthebeloved(4),
inwhichthespeakersays,[]akindoferoticurgetodiepossessesme
(11).Notealsotheadjectivemodifyingthefaceofagroomsuffusedwitheros(
)intheepithalamium(Sappho112.4LP).
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