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  #11  
Old 11-21-2018, 06:53 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Allen, the unfamiliarity to me of the example you cite (W.G. Harding) argues against the point you are trying to make. I may as well just say it: I am married to “Harden” for “Cinesias” because 1.) I think it’s funny, 2.) it will come across immediately to reading and theater audiences (whereas “Cinesias the Dithyrambic Poet” would only be accessible through a footnote) and 3.) I think Aristophanes intends a sexual pun with “Cinesias” (and not “Cinesias the Dithyrambic Poet").
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  #12  
Old 11-21-2018, 07:15 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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The key to determining whether or not dithyrambs are somehow being referred to probably hinges on the meter. Which I don't have the time (or, probably, the expertise) to wrestle with right now, but it's hard to miss all those long syllables in a row in the first parts of this passage.

But that may be irrelevant, anyway, because I've just stumbled upon two interesting (to me, anyway) essays, which suggest that I shouldn't be looking at Myrrhine as the less-important wife of the celebrity dithyrambist Cinesias; maybe I should instead be looking at this Cinesias as the less-important husband of the celebrity Myrrhine!

Aaron, the first essay is by your friend Henderson, I think! (If this Henderson is, indeed, the same Henderson--Cinesias turned out to perhaps not be the same Cinesias, so I'm cautious.)

Henderson makes a very strong argument that the character of Lysistrata herself may have been based on a real, historical woman--i.e., the priestess of Athena Polias at the time, whose name was Lysimache (which means substantially the same thing as Lysistrata).

When I Googled "Lysimache" to find out more about her, I found the second essay, which associates a historical Myrrhine with the temple of Athena, too.

Wow! Mind blown!

Quote:
The idea of women as saviors appealed to Aristophanes not only because of its brilliant novelty but also because it solved some difficult problems confronting a poet with an anti-war message in early 411. The volatile political atmosphere discouraged the usual finger-pointing, and an appeal for solidarity ruled out any portrayal of embattled political factions, such as the farmer-versus-urbanite scenario of the 420's. Somehow Aristophanes had to find respectable citizens who could make plausible arguments for reconciliation at home and abroad while at the same time standing outside and above the prevailing political turmoil and the military uncertainty. Women were his solution. They had a vested interest in the war and had sacrificed much; they represented every age-group and social class; they were integral to the city and yet stood outside its politics; and they had had nothing to do with bringing on the war in the first place. Through his women, Aristophanes could rebuke and advise the Athenians without appearing to be partisan, and in case the spectators should be offended they would have to admit that it was only women talking.

The heroine is nevertheless extraordinary. She is identified neither as a housewife nor as elderly. In the strike and in the seizure of the citadel she is the strategist and spokesman, while the other women are her agents. She understands and uses her helpers' talents but does not herself share in them, pointedly differentiating herself especially from the young wives. Moreover, she represents not only her own sex and city but advocates traditional values for all Greeks, male and female. She is endowed with an intelligence and will that would be extraordinary in a citizen of either sex and that triumphs on all fronts. In her possession of the most admired attributes, in her dual role as defender of home and of city, in her acquaintance with both domestic and martial arts, in her panhellenic outlook, in her advocacy of internal solidarity, in her cool discipline and immunity to sexual temptation, in her appeal to young and old and in her close connection to the citadel, Lysistrata finds her closest analogue in the Athenian city-goddess Athena herself, whose temples were on the Acropolis and symbolized every individual household.

This analogy was facilitated by Lysistrata's resemblance to the most prominent woman in Athens, the priestess of Athena Polias, who in 411 was a woman who bore the virtually identical name Lysimache. Like all Polias priestesses, Lysimache came from the ancient family of the Eteobutadae, for this priesthood was immemorially older than the democracy and represented the most venerable traditions of Athens. Lysimache held office for sixty-four years and appears to have been publicly known, or thought, to be opposed to the war. By assimilating his heroine to such an august person, Aristophanes invested her with the maximum possible respectability. As always, Aristophanes uses the language of democracy to criticize the democracy's policies. Anyone who attacks majority views is wise to wrap himself in the flag.

Aristophanes was also careful in his choice of Lysistrata's opponents, who must represent the majority view and also be portrayed unsympathetically. Here Aristophanes makes different choices than in earlier plays, avoiding active politicians and military commanders. The unnamed Magistrate was a bureaucrat and functionary recently drawn out of retirement, a member of an emergency board that had usurped some of the demos' functions. His comic mistreatment was unlikely to arouse much spectator indignation. The old men of the chorus are irascible bores who earn a miserable living at the city's expense by serving on jury-courts, but who nevertheless behave arrogantly. The young Athenian warriors and ambassadors are caricatured gently, their only weakness being sexual desperation for their wives. Their Spartan counterparts are unmistakably weaker and more eager for peace, and they are easily outbargained in the negotiations.

Thus Aristophanes managed to carry out the aims of political comedy--humorous and reassuring fantasy that made a serious appeal--even on the subject of a war that might well be disastrously lost, and even in the explosive atmosphere of early 411.

(From the introduction to Jeffrey Henderson's translation of Aristophanes's Lysistrata, based on his own edition of the Greek text)
I'll post the second passage in a separate post.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 11-21-2018 at 07:19 PM.
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  #13  
Old 11-21-2018, 07:38 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Thank you, Julie. Please do post what Henderson has to say about "Myrrhine." I left the names of "Lysistrata" and "Myrrhine" alone because they are, probably, based on historical figures. The "Magistrate" (Proboulos) I have rendered as "Da Mayor." He is not based on a historical figure.
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  #14  
Old 11-21-2018, 08:04 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Sadly, I don't think Henderson does say anything about Myrrhine. (At least he doesn't in the portions visible on Google Books, which must have some sort of algorithm for determining when a passage is just getting interesting, because they always seem to suppress the rest of an article or book at precisely that point.)

But here's what Joan Breton Connelly says about Myrrhine, in Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece. I haven't included the footnotes--you'll probably want to check those out.

She starts by talking about David Lewis's 1955 theory about Lysimache, but then mentions that a scholar named Papadimitriou had earlier connected Myrrhine to a historical priestess. Here's that snippet:

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One priestess stands out as a distinct personality among the many women who served. This is Lysimache, the first identifiable priestess of Athena Polias, whose tenure has been placed circa 430-365 B.C. In Chapter 5, we will look at the base of her statue found near the south wall of the Acropolis (see figs. 5.9-10). Its inscribed dedication informs us that she was the daughter of Drakontides of Bate and that she raised four children. [Julie says--hmmm, no, it doesn't. I think it says that she lived to see four generations, which is not the same thing at all. But I just glanced at it, so I could be wrong.] Restoration of gaps in the damaged inscription allows us to understand that she died at age eighty-eight, having served as priestess for sixty-four years, a number also given by Pliny (On Natural History 34.76) writing some four hundred years later.

In 1955, David Lewis boldly suggested that this historical Lysimache served as the model for the leading character in Aristophanes' Lysistrata. In this, Lewis followed Papadimitriou, who had earlier associated another character in the play, Myrrhine, with the historical Myrrhine who served as priestess of Athena Nike at the end of the fifth century. Both Myrrhine and Lysimache were priestesses on the Acropolis in 411 B.C., the year in which Aristophanes' play was first performed. We have already met Myrrhine in chapter 2 where we considered sortition in the selection of the priestess of Athena Nike. Myrrhine's grave marker (see fig. 8.1) records that she was chosen "by allotment from all." Papadimitriou's association of this Myrrhine with the Myrrhine of Aristophanes' play is most attractive. When Myrrhine meets her husband at the Acropolis gates (Lysistrata 920-50), she produces bedding, which would have been close to hand if she was, indeed, the priestess of Athena Nike, who had special access to the adjacent sanctuary. In associating the character Lysistrata with the historical Lysimache, Lewis had to cope with the change in names. He pointed to the similarity in form and meaning between Lysistrata, "Dissolver (or Disbander) of Armies," and Lysimache, "Dissolver (or Disbander) of Battle (or Strife)." He cited Lysistrata 554 as an outright admission of the Lysistrata/Lysimache association. Here, Lysistrata proclaims: "I believe that one day we will be known among the Greeks as Lysimachai (Dissolvers of Battle)." Lewis maintained that the ancient audience would have immediately recognized the play on the names.

Over the past fifty years the double association of Lysistrata/Myrrhine has been much debated. The discussion has rarely gone beyond whether or not Lewis was right, and has seldom explored the rich implications of his suggestion for our understanding of the public status of priestly women. Characters from Aristophanes' Lysistrata can be seen to embody two models for priesthood current in late fifth-century Athens. The old, inherited, lifelong priesthoods, associated with the gentilician class, were typified by the priesthood of Athena Polias as held by Lysimache. The newly hewn, democratic priesthoods, selected by lot from all, were typified by the priesthood of Athena Nike, as held by Myrrhine. The play intentionally contrasts these two models to great comic effect. When Myrrhine eagerly announces that she wants to be the first to swear the oath, Kalonike stops her, saying, "No, you don't, by Aphrodite, not unless you draw the first lot" (207-8). This reference to Myrrhine and the lottery seems hardly accidental. Not far away is the lucky Mirrhine of the grave epitaph "chosen by allotment from all," and favored "by divine good fortune."

Aristophanes' use of historical figures for his dramatic characters has long been recognized. Perikles, Alkibiades, Kleon, Sokrates, Euripides, and Kinesias are among the many celebrity citizens whom Aristophanes lampooned. If it can be shown that the Lysistrata similarly draws upon the lives of historical Athenians, in this case priestesses, our view of the public role of women and their name recognition within the polis can be greatly enriched. Indeed, we might even understand these women to be insiders, part of the "men's club," so to speak, and thus fair game for public comedy. As we have seen above, eponymy ensured that priestesses would have the greatest name recognition, not only among women, but among all citizens. I do not mean to suggest that the characters Myrrhine and Lysistrata were slavishly drawn from their historical counterparts. Instead, I suggest that by invoking the names of two well-known priestesses, Aristophanes supplied a central ingredient for successful comedy: the inside joke.

Centuries later, Plutarch (Moralia 534b-c) recounted an anecdote involving a priestess named Lysimache as an example of how to use a joke to deflect unwanted requests from inferior persons. Although we cannot know for certain whether Plutarch was referring to the fifth-century Lysimache, or to a priestess with the same name who served during the fourth century, it is tempting to see this Lysimache as the fifth-century priestess who inspired the character Lysistrata. When the tired muleteers who had brought the "holy things" up to the Acropolis asked the priestess if they could have a drink, she jested that she was afraid to oblige them, lest her action become part of the ritual. Plutarch thus paints a picture of a clever, fun, wisecracking Lysimache. The personality of an individual woman may thus emerge from the sources to provide insight into the impact of an individual priestess within her public arena. So central were priestesses to Athenian society that their names were household words and they were fair game for jokes and for portrayal in theater. Perhaps no greater testimony can be paid to the centrality of priestesses in the society that celebrated them.
Okay, something's definitely lost in translation from the Plutarch passage, because that doesn't strike me as a very funny or clever joke. It just seems mean. But I'm delighted with the idea that both Lysistrata and Myrrhine might have been based on real women with real authority and intelligence.

I'm truly sorry that almost nothing I've said on the passage you're trying to workshop has been relevant to your translation, Aaron. I'm easily distracted.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 11-21-2018 at 08:07 PM.
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  #15  
Old 11-21-2018, 08:12 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Aaron, obviously I wasn’t really suggesting that you use “Harding”. He’s long gone, and a post-war figure anyway. But you could muscle up and try “Hardon”. Obviously a man of action, determined, and salient, with his eye on something or other.

“Harden” is ok and suggestive. That’s good and academically publishable. “Hardon” is better for modern stage productions. You’ll stay with “Harden,” and you really should. I would.
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Old 11-22-2018, 02:26 AM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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A second opinion:

In "The priestess of Athena Nike" (Kernos 27, 2014), Josine Blok is less convinced that the historical priestesses Lysimache and Myrrhine were being referenced by Aristophanes.

Quote:
Footnote 6: The epitaph of Myrrhine, the first woman selected by lot to be priestess of Athena Nike, is an epigram (IG I3 1330) of 16 lines on a marble stele; for text and monument, Rahn (1986) and Lougovaya-Ast (2006). Comparison with funerary monuments and epigrams favours a date ca. 420-400, adding the issue of the priestess' age at the moment she entered her office to the discussion about the type of her tenure and the date of the decrees. D. Lewis (1955), following a suggestion of I. Papademetriou, supposed that Myrrhine was perhaps reflected in the woman of the same name in Ar. Lysistrata of 411, and that the protagonist could be identified with Lysimache, the contemporary priestess of Athena Polias. Lewis' suggestion, attractive though it is, raises many questions. Why was the name of Lysimache changed in Lysistrate, although the real name would also have fitted the plot (as Lewis notes; Ar., Lys., 554), whereas Myrrhine's was left in the original form? Myrrhine was, moreover, a very common feminine name; can we be sure it was firmly associated with the priestess? A strong argument in favour of the identity is Ar. Lys. 207-208, where the woman Myrrhine is told she cannot be the first to take the oath unless she draws the first lot (Connely [2007], p. 63). Lysistrate was the name of a mid-fifth century priestess of Demeter (dedicating IG I3 953), in 415 the priestess was Theano (Plut., Alk., 22, 33); see Blok and Lambert (2009), p. 119, Philleidai no. 1 and 2. If Aristophanes indeed made a pun on the names of two or three well-known priestesses, he did so in a way so loose that we must be wary to use this as evidence supporting other arguments.
But isn't the obvious answer to the question I've bolded above simply that the name Lysimache ( u u - - ) does not fit the iambic meter that is the primary meter in Greek drama, and both Lysistrate ( u - u - ) and Myrrhine ( - u - ) do?

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 11-22-2018 at 02:30 AM.
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