This text is reproduced solely for the limited academic use of students in Webster University MNGT 5590. 

Numbers in brackets indicate the start of a page in the original text.

Although the full text of the article is reproduced here, the class reading is an excerpt as indicated in the text.

 

Detienne, Marcel and Jean-Pierre Vernant. Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society. Trans. Janet Lloyd. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991, 1-54.

 

Introduction

Just as, at the end of a journey, one may look back over the ground covered so, on completing a book, one may, in introducing it, pause to reflect on the work done and attempt to define what has been accomplished. As long as the enquiry is in progress one is pushed in one direction after another so that it is not possible to see clearly the way it is taking you or where it is leading. We have been working on mêtis with a few interruptions, for about ten years.[1] One of the greatest surprises it has afforded us has been to see how, the further we advanced, the wider the scope of our study became. Each time we thought we were on the point of coming to an end the frontiers of the domain which we were attempting to explore receded before us. If there is one point which seems to have emerged as indisputable it is that the field that we undertook to investigate—a field until then neglected by Greek scholars who had never thought to enquire into the place held by mêtis in Greek civilisation[2]—this field includes vast tracts of virgin ground which will have to be explored in subsequent investigations. So our book in no way covers the whole subject of mêtis. We will mention just two examples of areas where further work is necessary. The first includes the whole range of craftsman’s skills where we may refer to the study of Daedalus already completed by Francoise Frontisi; the second covers the various forms of wiley intelligence connected with particular divine powers where Laurence Lyotard-Kahn has undertaken research on the figure of Hermes.

But the reader has every right to ask a number of questions: what is the domain of studies which we have compared to virgin territory? What is its place in Greek society and [2] culture? How should it be approached? In sum, what precisely is the object of this book and from which disciplines are our methods derived? For various kinds of reasons there is no simple or easy reply to these questions. In the first place the type of intelligence we are attempting to define operates on many different levels. These are as different from each other as are a theogony and a myth about sovereignty, the metamorphoses of a marine deity, the forms of knowledge of Athena and Hephaestus, of Hermes and Aphrodite, of Zeus and Prometheus, a hunting trap, a fishing net, the skills of a basket-maker, of a weaver, of a carpenter, the mastery of a navigator, the flair of a politician, the experienced eye of a doctor, the tricks of a crafty character such as Odysseus, the back-tracking of a fox and the polymorphism of an octopus, the solving of enigmas and riddles and the beguiling rhetorical illusionism of the sophists. Our enquiry thus encompasses the whole extent of the cultural world of the Greeks from its most ancient technical traditions to the structure of its pantheon. It operates at every level, probing it in all its many dimensions, constantly shifting from one area to another to seek out, by means of apparently heterogeneous evidence, a single attitude of mind, a single image relating to how the Greeks represented a particular type of intelligence at grips with objects which must be dominated by cunning if success is to be won in the most diverse fields of action. We have been obliged to find different methods of approach, to collate different viewpoints and perspectives, to suit the different cases considered. In certain respects our work is a linguistic study, an analysis of the semantic field of mêtis and of its coherence and amazing stability throughout Greek history. Sometimes it touches upon the history of technology and that of practical intelligence as manifested in the skills of the artisan. It includes whole chapters devoted to the analysis of myths and the decoding of the structures of the pantheon. Finally, it also involves historical psychology since it aims to define one major category of the mind at every stage of Greek culture and in every type of work in which it was involved. This mental category is affected by conditions of time and place and we seek to define its structure and activity, the series of [3] procedures by which it operates and the implicit rules of logic which it obeys. We use the term mental category advisedly, rather than speaking of a concept. We are not writing a history of ideas. It would have been impossible to do so. For the forms of wiley intelligence, of effective, adaptable cunning which the Greeks brought into play in large sectors of their social and spiritual life, which they valued highly within their religious system and which we have attempted, acting rather as archaeologists, to reconstruct, were never explicitly formulated, never the subject of a conceptual analysis or of any coherent theoretical examination. There are no treatises on mêtis as there are treatises on logic, nor are there any philosophical systems based on the principles of wiley intelligence. It is not difficult to detect the presence of mêtis at the heart of the Greek mental world in the interplay of social and intellectual customs where its influence is sometimes all-pervasive. But there is no text which reveals straightforwardly its fundamental characteristics and its origins.

This brings us to the second type of reason for the difficulties and—we believe—the interest of our undertaking. Although mêtis operates within so vast a domain, although it holds such an important position within the Greek system of values, it is never made manifest for what it is, it is never clearly revealed in a theoretical work that aims to define it. It always appears more or less below the surface, immersed as it were in practical operations which, even when they use it, show no concern to make its nature explicit or to justify its procedures. To this extent Modern Greek scholars, who have neglected the importance of its role, its impact or even its existence, have remained faithful to a particular image Greek thought created of itself, in which mêtis is conspicuous by its absence. There is no doubt that mêtis is a type of intelligence and of thought, a way of knowing; it implies a complex but very coherent body of mental attitudes and intellectual behaviour which combine flair, wisdom, forethought, subtlety of mind, deception, resourcefulness, vigilance, opportunism, various skills, and experience acquired over the years. It is applied to situations which are transient, shifting, disconcerting and ambiguous, situations [4] which do not lend themselves to precise measurement, exact calculation or rigorous logic. Now, in the picture of thought and intelligence presented by the philosophers, the professional experts where intelligence was concerned, all the qualities of mind which go to make up mêtis, its sleights of hand, its resourceful ploys and its stratagems, are usually thrust into the shadows, erased from the realm of true knowledge and relegated, according to the circumstances to the level of mere routine, chancey inspiration, changeable opinion or even charlatanerie, pure and simple. So failure would be inevitable if one tried to discover mêtis from an enquiry into what Greek intelligence had to say about itself when it composed theoretical treatises on its own nature. Mêtis must be tracked down elsewhere, in areas which the philosopher usually passes over in silence or mentions only with irony or with hostility so that, by contrast, he can display to its fullest advantage the way of reasoning and understanding which is required in his own profession.

To be sure, these remarks must be qualified. Aristotle’s position on this point is not identical to Plato’s. For Plato dexterity (euchireia), sureness of eye (eustochia) and sharpwittedness (agchinoia) operate in enterprises in which mêtis attempts to reach the desired goal by feeling its way and guessing. They belong to a type of cognition which is alien to truth and quite separate from episteme, knowledge. In contrast, for Aristotle, ‘practical intelligence’ at least retains in its aims and in the way it operates many features of mêtis. One could even suggest that Plato too brings into operation a kind of selection where mêtis is concerned. He picks out from the skills of the artisan anything that can, by its use of measuring instruments, be integrated into a mathematical type of knowledge and that can provide the philosopher with a model of the activity of the demiourgos who, starting from the Forms, produces in the world of Becoming creations that are as real, stable and organised as is possible.

Finally, and most important, we shall have to study from this viewpoint the contribution of the sophists who occupy a crucial position in the area where traditional mêtis and the new intelligence of the philosophers meet. Nevertheless in the main it is true to say that the philosophers’ writing and [5] teaching, as they developed during the fourth century, mark a break with a type of intelligence which, although it continued to operate in large areas such as politics, the military art, medicine and the skills of the artisan, nevertheless appears to have been displaced and devalued in comparison with what henceforth represented the key element in Greek learning.

In the intellectual world of the Greek philosopher, in contrast to that of the thinkers of China or India, there is a radical dichotomy between being and becoming, between the intelligible and the sensible. It is not simply that a series of oppositions between antithetical terms is set up. These contrasting concepts which are grouped into couples together form a complete system of antimonies defining two mutually exclusive spheres of reality. On the one hand there is the sphere of being, of the one, the unchanging, of the limited, of true and definite knowledge; on the other, the sphere of becoming, of the multiple, the unstable and the unlimited, of oblique and changeable opinion. Within this framework of thought there can be no place for mêtis. Mêtis is characterised precisely by the way it operates by continuously oscillating between two opposite poles. It turns into their contraries objects that are not yet defined as stable, circumscribed, mutually exclusive concepts but which appear as powers in a situation of confrontation and which, depending on the outcome of the combat in which they are engaged, find themselves now in one position, as victors, and now in the opposite one, as vanquished. These deities, who have the power of binding, have to be constantly on their guard in order not to be bound in their turn. Thus, when the individual who is endowed with mêtis, be he god or man, is confronted with a multiple, changing reality whose limitless polymorphic powers render it almost impossible to seize, he can only dominate it—that is to say enclose it within the limits of a single, unchangeable form within his control—if he proves himself to be even more multiple, more mobile, more polyvalent than his adversary. Similarly, in order to reach his goal directly, to pursue his way without deviating from it, across a world which is fluctuating and constantly oscillating from one side to another, he must himself adopt an oblique [6] course and make his intelligence sufficiently wiley and supple to bend in every conceivable way and his gait so ‘askew’ that he can be ready to go in any direction. In other words, to use the Greek term, you could say that the task of the agkulometes one, who possesses twisting mêtis, is to devise the straightest way to achieve his end.

Here then, is a whole gamut of operations in which the intelligence attempts to make contact with an object by confronting it in the guise of a rival, as it were, combining connivance and opposition. It is this that we have tried to define at every level and in every form in which we have thought it is possible to detect it.

In this enquiry into the wiles of intelligence we have restricted ourselves to the Greek data. As is natural when dealing with a mental category so deeply rooted in religious thought, we have devoted the greater part of our analysis to establishing the place, functions and modes of action of Metis in myth and to illuminating the precise distribution of her manifold abilities among the various divine powers. Mêtis enables us to formulate certain general problems concerning the organisation of the pantheon. Some gods possess mêtis while others are without it. How do the two groups differ from each other and, within the first category, what differentiates its various members? In what way is the mêtis of Kronos or of the Titan, Prometheus, different from that of Zeus, the Olympian, the sovereign of the universe? What is it that distinguishes the mêtis of Athena from the closely similar mêtis of Hephaestus or Hermes or Aphrodite? Why do the oracular knowledge of Themis and Apollo and the magic of Dionysus lie outside the field of mêtis? In this part of our enquiry, in this book, we have concentrated our investigation on and around Athena, daughter to Metis, whose divine power she represents in the organised world of the Olympian gods. Given this orientation, our studies have inevitably led us on to problems which lie outside the Greek domain and consequently also beyond the scope of the framework we have adopted. The figure of Metis and her role in myths about sovereignty and—where the Orphic writers are concerned—in cosmogonical myths, call for a comparison with the mythical traditions of the Near-East, [7] in particular with the accounts in which the Sumerian god, Enki-Ea also appears as the master of the waters, the inventor of technology and the possessor of a knowledge that is rich in cunning. In more general terms, Greek mêtis raises the problem concerning the position which is held, in the myths of a large number of peoples, by the figure that Anglo-Saxon anthropologists refer to as the ‘trickster’, the deceiver. Although our book does not tackle these questions directly, it does add certain new evidence to that already collected in comparative studies. However, by not restricting our enquiry to the position of Metis in myth and to the role she plays there, by studying the particular form of intelligence that she represents, her methods of operation and the means she employs to bring about her designs we shall perhaps also have helped to direct comparative studies into a new avenue of research. Now that we have completed our own study, the programme of research we might suggest is an analysis of the methods of operation that govern the logic of wiley intelligence in religious thought, that are responsible, in myth, for the successes of that intelligence and that have appeared to us to be expressed for the Greeks in the images of the reversal, the bond and the circle.


CHAPTER I

Antilochus’ Race

From a terminological point of view, mêtis, as a common noun, refers to a particular type of intelligence, an informed prudence; as a proper name it refers to a female deity, the daughter of Ocean. The goddess Metis who might be considered a somewhat quaint figure seems, at first sight, to be restricted to no more than a walk-on part. She is Zeus’ first wife and almost as soon as she conceives Athena she is swallowed by her husband. The king of the gods brings her mythological career to an abrupt conclusion by relegating her to the depths of his own stomach. In the theogonies attributed to Orpheus, however, Metis plays a major role and is presented as a great primordial deity at the beginning of the world.

With regard to the common noun, the German philologist, Wilamowitz[3] appeared to have settled its fate when he noted, by way of an aside in one of his works, that after playing what was, by and large, a limited role in Homer’s epic, mêtis survived only as a poetic memory. However, Henri Jeanmaire reopened the subject and pursued the enquiry with more rigour. Two conclusions may be drawn from his study, La naissance d’Athéna et la royauté magique de Zeus.[4] In the first place, the intelligent ability referred to as mêtis comes into play on widely varying levels but in all of them the emphasis is always laid on practical effectiveness, on the pursuit of success in a particular sphere of activity: it may involve multiple skills useful in life, the mastery of the artisan in his craft, magic tricks, the use of philtres and herbs, the cunning stratagems of war, frauds, deceits, resourcefulness of every kind. Secondly, the term mêtis is associated with a whole series of words which together make up quite a wide, well-defined and coherent semantic field.[5]

[12] The history of mêtis is a long one, extending over more than ten centuries down to the time of Oppian. We shall start by consulting our first testimony, Homer.

The text of Homer most suited to reveal the nature of mêtis comes in Book XXIII of the Iliad, in the episode of the Games [See the text of this passage]. Everything is ready for the chariot race. Old Nestor, the very model of the Sage, the advisor expert in mêtis,[6] lavishes advice upon his son Antilochus.[7] The boy is still very young but Zeus and Poseidon have taught him ‘all the ways of dealing with horses’.[8] Unfortunately, his race horses are not very fast; his rivals are better equipped. The young man seems bound to lose. How could he triumph over his adversaries with their faster horses when he drives slower ones?[9] In just such a context mêtis comes into its own. Placed at a disadvantage so far as his horses are concerned, Antilochus, as a true son of his father[10] has more tricks of mêtis up his sleeve than his rivals dream of. ‘It’s up to you, my lad’, says Nestor, ‘to fill your head with a metin pantoien (‘manifold’) so as not to let the prize elude you’. Then follows a passage which sings the praises of mêtis ‘It is through mêtis rather than through strength that the wood-cutter shows his worth. It is through mêtis that the helmsman guides the speeding vessel over the wine-dark sea despite the wind. It is through mêtis that the charioteer triumphs over his rival’.[11] In the case of Antilochus his mêtis as a driver conceives a manoeuvre which is more or less a cheat and which enables him to reverse an unfavourable situation and to triumph over competitors who are stronger than he is. Nestor puts it like this: ‘The man who knows the tricks (kerde) wins the day even with mediocre horses’.[12] So what are these tricks of Antilochus? Following the advice of his father, the young man takes advantage of a sudden narrowing of the track, which has been worn away by storm rains, and drives his chariot obliquely across in front of that of Menelaus at the risk of causing a crash: the manoeuvre takes his adversary by surprise and he is forced to rein in his horses. Taking full advantage of his disarray, Antilochus gains the advantage necessary to outstrip him in the last stretch of the race.[13]

1. However ordinary the episode may appear it nevertheless demonstrates certain essential features of mêtis. Firstly, [13] it shows the opposition between using one’s strength and depending on mêtis. In every confrontation or competitive situation—whether the adversary be a man, an animal or a natural force—success can be won by two means, either thanks to a superiority in ‘power’ in the particular sphere in which the contest is taking place, with the stronger gaining the victory; or by the use of methods of a different order whose effect is, precisely, to reverse the natural outcome of the encounter and to allow victory to fall to the party whose defeat had appeared inevitable. Thus success obtained through mêtis can be seen in two different ways. Depending on the circumstances it can arouse opposite reactions. In some cases it will be considered the result of cheating since the rules of the game have been disregarded. In others, the more surprise it provokes the greater the admiration it will arouse, the weaker party having, against every expectation, found within himself resources capable of putting the stronger at his mercy. Certain aspects of mêtis tend to associate it with the disloyal trick, the perfidious lie, treachery—all of which are the despised weapons of women and cowards.[14] But others make it seem more precious than strength. It is, in a sense, the absolute weapon, the only one that has the power to ensure victory and domination over others, whatever the circumstances, whatever the conditions of the conflict.

In effect, whatever the strength of a man or a god, there always comes a time when he confronts one stronger than himself. Only superior mêtis can give supremacy the two qualities of permanence and universality which turn it into truly sovereign power. If Zeus is the king of the gods, more powerful than all the other deities, even when they band together against him, it is because he is, par excellence, the god who possesses mêtis.[15] The Greek myths which tell the story of how the son of Kronos won power and established his definitive sovereignty emphasise the fact that victory in the struggle for power had to be won not by force but by a cunning trick, thanks to mêtis.[16] Kratos and Bie, Domination and Brute Force flank the throne of Zeus, as servants forever following at his heels. But they only do so inasmuch as the power of the Olympian god is more than mere strength and is unaffected by the vicissitudes of time. Not content to [14] unite himself to Metis by his first marriage, Zeus made himself pure mêtis by swallowing her. It was a wise precaution: once she had conceived Athena, Metis wouldif Zeus had not forestalled herhave given birth to a son stronger than his father, who would have dethroned him just as he himself had overthrown his own father. Henceforth, however, there can be no mêtis possible without Zeus or directed against him. Not a single cunning trick can be plotted in the universe without first passing through his mind. There can no longer be any risk to threaten the duration of the power of the sovereign god. Nothing can surprise him, cheat his vigilance or frustrate his designs. Thanks to the mêtis within him Zeus is now forewarned of everything, whether good or bad, that is in store for him. For him there is no gap between a plan and its fulfillment such as enables the unexpected to intervene in the lives of other gods and mortals.

2. The second feature illuminated by the episode in the Iliad concerns the temporal framework within which mêtis is at work. It operates on a shifting terrain, in uncertain and ambiguous situations. Two antagonistic forces confront each other. Over this fraught and unstable time of the agon mêtis gives one a hold without which one would be at a loss. During the struggle, the man of mêtis—compared with his opponent—displays at the same time a greater grip of the present where nothing escapes him, more awareness of the future, several aspects of which he has already manipulated, and richer experience accumulated from the past. This state of vigilant premeditation, of continuous concentration on activity that is in progress, is expressed by the Greeks in images of watchfulness, of lying in wait, when a man who is on the alert keeps watch on his adversary in order to strike at the chosen moment. Consider how Nestor warns Antilochus of the dangers which await whoever is too sure of his strength and ceases to be on his guard; ‘One man will trust himself to his chariot and his horses and stupidly take the turn too widely, swerving from one side to the other... another, who is driving less swift horses knows a couple of tricks to make up for this. He keeps his eyes fixed on the post and takes the turn very sharply; he does not forget to control [15] his animals with the leather reins; he drives on steadily with his eyes fixed on the competitor who is ahead (dokeuei)’.[17] Dokeuein, to watch closely, is a technical term in fishing, hunting and warfare. The author of the Shield, attributed to Hesiod, uses it to describe a crouching fisherman lying in wait, ready to trap the fish with his large net.[18] The description in the Iliad of the hound hunting a boar has it glued to the heels of the animal ‘sticking close to its side, to its hindquarters, watchful of its every move’.[19]Antilochus too knows how to watch his enemy carefully in battle. In the melee in which Hector brings terror and death, the young Greek stands aside, on the watch: ‘He keeps watching Thoon; as soon as the latter turns round he pounces, and wounds him’.[20]

The man of mêtis is always ready to pounce. He acts faster than lightning. This is not to say that he gives way to a sudden impulse, as do most Homeric heroes. On the contrary his mêtis knows how to wait patiently for the calculated moment to arrive. Even when it originates from a sudden burst of action, the operation of mêtis is diametrically opposed to that of impulsiveness. Mêtis is swift, as prompt as the opportunity that it must seize on the wing, not allowing it to pass. But in no way does it act lightly (lepte). With all the weight of acquired experience that it carries, it involves thought that is dense, rich and compressed (pukine).[21] Instead of floating hither and thither, at the whim of circumstance, it anchors the mind securely in the project which it has devised in advance thanks to its ability to look beyond the immediate present and foresee a more or less wide slice of the future.

In this connection, the text of the Iliad contains some suggestive evidence. At the decisive moment in the race, Antilochus says to his horses: ‘Go as fast as you can. I will be responsible for finding a way and an opportunity, if the path narrows, of slipping in front of the son of Atreus, without letting the moment pass’.[22] The term kairos, opportunity, does not appear in the passage but the idea is certainly there, although in a form which we must define more closely and which the text stresses emphatically. This is an opportunity which, far from coming as a surprise to Antilochus, enables him to put into practise the plan which he has had in mind [16] from the start. It is mêtis which, overtaking the kairos, however fleeting it may be, catches it by surprise. It can ‘seize’ the opportunity in as much as, not being ‘light’, it has been able to foresee how events will turn out and to prepare itself for this well in advance. This mastery over the kairos, is one of the features which characterised the art of the charioteer. When Pindar celebrates the art of the charioteer Nichomachus, who is renowned for his ability, he praises him for having known how ‘to give the horses their heads at the right moment’ (kata kairon).[23] Of the two divine horses that make up the invincible team of Adrastus, one is named Areion, denoting his excellence; the other is called Kairos.[24] Having the swiftest horses is not enough, one must know how to spur them on at the decisive moment.

[Class reading continues at characteristic 3]

On emerging from the race in which his mêtis has triumphed, Antilochus realises that owing to a lack of maturity it has not yet acquired all the weight and consistency desirable. Menelaus showers him with reproaches for his unfair manoeuvres—his dolos.[25] He calls upon the gods to witness the wrong that has been done him and insists that Antilochus should swear an oath. The young man finds himself obliged to make honourable amends. Acknowledging that he was in the wrong he pleads the thoughtlessness of youth, the impulsiveness which makes the mêtis of an adolescent ‘light’: ‘Can you not imagine the excesses of a young man? His mind is hasty (kraipnoteros) and his mêtis lepte.[26] Carried away by his desire to win, Antilochus lacked weighty reflection. Absorbed in the plot he was hatching, he did not look beyond the victory to see what the consequences of his cheating would be. The craftiness of the young man saw no further than the end of his own nose. Experience gives the old man, on the other hand, a much broader vision. With the weight of all the knowledge he has accumulated over the years, he can explore in advance all the many avenues of the future, weigh up advantages against disadvantages and make decisions with a full knowledge of the situation. In Book III of the Iliad, at the turning point in the story when it seems that reason will win the day and that the war will be brought to an end by an agreement, [17] Menelaus insists in the name of the Greeks that, before the pact is sealed, the aged Priam should come forth in the company of his young sons: ‘The minds of young men can be turned by any gust of wind (eerethontai); when an old man accompanies them he can see, by comparing the future and the past, (hama prosso kai opisso leussei), how it will be possible to arrange everything for the best for both parties concerned’.[27] The gift of comparing the future with the past is precisely what, unfortunately for the Greeks, their own king lacks. Absorbed in his anger, Agammemnon ‘is not capable of seeing, by comparing the future with the past, how the Greeks can fight unscathed close to their ships’.[28] The Trojans are in almost as bad a position. At their assembly, the wise Polydamus[29] does indeed lavish his prudent advice upon them. He implores them to examine the situation from all points of view, even to look ahead to see what is going to happen’. But they pay him no heed; he alone is capable of ‘seeing at the same time both the past and the future’.[30] All the Trojans are won over by Hector’s appeal to give battle outside the walls. It is a fatal decision: the great Hector, forgetful of the past and blind to the future, overcome by hatred and a desire to do battle, is totally light-headed, swept away by the vicissitudes of the situation. Misled by their passions and short-sighted, the two kings, each in his camp, behave like thoughtless youths. They resemble the women Sappho describes, with their ‘changeable minds, who in their lightness think only of the present’.[31] Furthermore, the temporal horizon remains limited even for the mature man of stable common sense: for mortal creatures the future is as opaque as the night. When Diomedes volunteers for night patrol behind the enemy lines, he asks for a companion: ‘When two men walk together if it’s not one it’s the other who sees the advantage (kerdos) to be seized. On one’s own one can see too but one’s sight is shorter and one’s mêtis lighter’.[32] One must be old with all the experience of a Nestor or endowed with a mêtis as exceptional as that of Odysseus to be capable—to use the expression which Thucydides applies to the political flair of Themistocles—‘of arriving at the most correct idea concerning the future, taking the widest point of view and [18] foreseeing, as far as possible, the hidden advantages and disadvantages in what cannot be seen’.[33]

It should be added that among men one never comes across this exceptional prometheia or pronoia, this foresight in the true sense of the word, without also encountering its opposite. Prometheus, the one who reflects in advance, has as his twin brother, his double and opposite, Epimetheus, the one who understands after the event.[34] Together with fire and all the artificial skills which men need, Prometheus presents them with an intelligence which dares to take on the cunning of Zeus, and fool him. But the Titan’s mêtis always recoils against him in the end; he is caught in the trap which he himself set. Prometheus and Epimetheus represent the two faces of a single figure just as the prometheia of man is simply the other side to his radical ignorance of the future.

[Class reading continues]

3. Homer gives mêtis one other characteristic. It is not one, not unified, but multiple and diverse. Nestor calls it pantoie.[35] Odysseus is the hero who is polumetis as well as polutropos and polumechanos. He is an expert in tricks of all kinds (pantoious dolous),[36] polumechanos in the sense that he is never at a loss, never without expedients (poroi) to get himself out of any kind of trouble (aporia). When taught by Athena and Hephaestus, the deities of mêtis the artist also possesses a techne pantoie,[37] an art of many facets, knowledge of general application. The polumetis is also known by the name of poikilometis[38] or aiolometis.[39] The term poikilos is used to refer to the sheen of a material[40] or the glittering of a weapon,[41] the dappled hide of a fawn,[42] or the shining back of a snake mottled with darker patches.[43]This many-coloured sheen or complex of appearances produces an effect of irridescence, shimmering, an interplay of reflections which the Greeks perceived as the ceaseless vibrations of light. In this sense, what is poikilos, many-coloured, is close to what is aiolos, which refers to fast movement.[44] Thus it is that the changing surface of liver which is sometimes propitious and sometimes the reverse[45] is called poikilos just as are good fortune which is so inconstant and changing[46] and also the deity which endlessly guides the destinies of men from one side to the other, first in one direction and then in the other.[47] Plato associates [19] what is poikilos with what is never the same as itself, oudepote tauton[48] and, similarly, elsewhere opposes it to that which is simple, haplous.[49]

Shimmering sheen and shifting movement are so much a part of the nature of mêtis that when the epithet poikilos is applied to an individual it is enough to indicate that he is a wiley one, a man of cunning, full of inventive ploys (poikiloboulos) and tricks of every kind. Hesiod calls Prometheus poikilos as well as aiolometis.[50] Aesop remarks in a fable that if the panther has a mottled skin, the fox, for its part, has a mind which is poikilos.[51] In The Knights, Aristophanes has one of the protagonists warned against a particularly dangerous adversary: ‘The man is poikilos, crafty; he can easily find ways of getting himself out of difficulties (ek ton amechanon porous eumechanos porizein)’.[52]

As we have already mentioned, aiolos, is a term which is close to poikilos. E. Benveniste has connected it with the root at aion (skrt. ayu): this denotes, first, the life force realised in human existence and, then, continuity of life, duration of life, a period of time.[53] A linguistic analysis reveals that the fundamental meaning of aiolos, is: swift, mobile, changing. L.Parmentier has claimed that in epic ailos means many-coloured, (versicolor), marked with colours that overlap.[54] But even if it is true that aiolos, applied, for example, to the horse of Achilles, a bay with white socks,[55] applies to the colour of its coat, the fact is that for the lexicographers and scholiasts who commented on the term[56] it conveyed, first and foremost, the image of turbulent movement, of incessent change. When applied to objects, the word is used to refer to shields which glitter as they move;[57] where animals are concerned, to worms,[58]horseflies, wasps,[59] a swarm of bees,[60] all creatures whose wriggling and moving mass is never still; on connection with men, to those whose wiley mind is able to twist and turn in every direction. Pindar calls Odysseus aiolos, a man of shifty cunning.[61] Alometis and aioloboulos correspond to poikilometis and poikiloboulos. He whose cleverness enables him to turn his hand to anything (panourgos), who is wiley enough to discover an escape from every trap (euporos) is, Eustathius tells us an Aeolus, Aiolos, a Poikilos.[62]

[20] Why does mêtis appear thus, as multiple (pantoie) many-coloured (poikile) shifting (aiole)? Because its field of application is the world of movement, of multiplicity and of ambiguity. It bears on fluid situations which are constantly changing and which at every moment combine contrary features and forces that are opposed to each other. In order to seize upon the fleeting kairos, mêtis had to make itself even swifter than the latter. In order to dominate a changing situation, full of contrasts, it must become even more supple, even more shifting, more polymorphic than the flow of time: it must adapt itself constantly to events as they succeed each other and be pliable enough to accommodate the unexpected so as to implement the plan in mind more successfully. It is thus that the helmsman pits his cunning against the wind so as to bring the ship safely to harbour despite it. For the Greeks, only like could be affected by like. Victory over a shifting reality whose continuous metamorphoses make it almost impossible to grasp, can only be won through an even greater degree of mobility, an even greater power of transformation.

There is one feature of Metis mentioned by Apollodorus which one might have thought to be secondary or a late addition but whose full importance can now be recognised. Zeus’ spouse is endowed with the power of metamorphosis. Like other marine deities (which are also “primordial” beings) such as Nereus, Proteus and Thetis, she can take on the most widely differing appearances. She can, in succession, become a lion, a bull, a fly, a fish, a bird, a flame or flowing water. We are told that, to escape Zeus’ embrace, as Thetis eluded Proteus, Metis ‘changed herself into all kinds of forms’.[63]

Deities of this type nearly always appear, in myth, in the context of a trial imposed upon a hero who may be human or divine. At some crucial point in his career the hero has to confront the spells of some god of great cunning who holds the secret to his success. The god possesses the power to assume all kinds of different forms and, as the contest proceeds, this makes him a kind of polymorphous monster, a terrifying opponent, impossible to seize. To conquer him it is necessary to take him by surprise with a trick, a [21] disguise, an ambush—as Menelaus does with the ancient Proteus. The hero must grasp him unexpectedly and not let go whatever happens. Once his magic power is disarmed by the bond which grips him, the deity with the power of metamorphosis reassumes his original form and surrenders to his conqueror. If it is a goddess she agrees to have intercourse with him and this marriage is the crowning point of the hero’s career. If it is a god such as Nereus or Proteus, he reveals the secrets of his oracular wisdom. In either case a mistrustful, mobile elusive being is taken by surprise, seized and secured by an unbreakable bond.

Zeus masters Metis by turning her own weapons against herself. These are premeditation, deceit, the surprise attack and the sudden assault. Conversely, in her attempts to loosen the god’s grip, Metis imitates those elusive beings which baffle men with their constant transformations and thus escape from their planned hold over them and slip through their fingers. The many-coloured, shimmering nature of mêtis is a mark of its kinship with the divided, shifting world of multiplicity in the midst of which it operates. It is this way of conniving with reality which ensures its efficacity. Its suppleness and malleability give it the victory in domains where there are no ready-made rules for success, no established methods, but where each new trial demands the invention of new ploys, the discovery of a way out (poros) that is hidden. Conversely, the ambiguous, disparate, unstable realities with which men attempt to come to grips may, in myth, take on the appearance of polymorphic monsters, powers of metamorphosis which delight, in their cunning, to disappoint all expectations and constantly to baffle the minds of men.

Mêtis is itself a power of cunning and deceit. It operates through disguise. In order to dupe its victim it assumes a form which masks, instead of revealing, its true being. In mêtis appearance and reality no longer correspond to one another but stand in contrast, producing an effect of illusion, apate which beguiles the adversary into error and leaves him as bemused by his defeat as by the spells of a magician. Antilochus’ trick, as described in the Iliad, is indeed a ‘trap’, [22] a dolos[64] of this kind. The young man has thought out his plan carefully in advance; he has inspected the terrain and taken note of the narrowing of the track. In hatching his plot, he showed himself to be, as his father advised him, prudent (phroneon),[65] guarded (pephulagmenos)[66] and careful not to act in an impetuous manner (aphradeos)[67] as would a driver not endowed with mêtis. His plan furthermore demands that he should be in complete command of his horses. At the moment when they veer towards the chariot alongside he should leave nothing to chance and make sure that he is at all times in full control of chariot and team. However, to be effective, the manoeuvre must fool Menelaus and appear to be opposite of what it really is. When he sees the chariot of Antilochus veer towards his own, the king of Sparta imagines that the young man has, through lack of experience, lost control of his team. ‘Antilochus’, he shouts, ‘you’re driving like a madman, aphradeo’.[68] It is the very expression used by Nestor to describe the driver without mêtis who, instead of remaining in control of his horses and making them go in the direction he chooses, allows himself to be led by them, as does the poor helmsman by the winds and waves, with the chariot swerving from one side to the other of the track, at the will of the horses.[69] The prudent trick of Antilochus adopts the guise of its opposite in order to fool Menelaus, and simulates madness. The calculating young man drives his horses along the predetermined course, feigning thoughtlessness and lack of control just as he pretends not to hear Menelaus shouting out to him to take care, his ouk aionti eoikos.[70] These features in the behaviour of Antilochus take on their full significance when they are compared to the behaviour of Odysseus, the polumetis one, the very embodiment of cunning. Consider the most subtle and most dangerous orator of Greece preparing, before the assembled

Trojans, to weave the glittering web of his words: there he is, standing awkwardly with his eyes fixed on the ground, not raising his head; he holds the staff quite still as if he did not know what to do with it. He looks like a tongue-tied yokel or even a witless man (aphrona). At the moment when he is about to speak the master of tricks, the magician of words pretends to have lost his tongue, as if he were unskilled [23] in the rudiments of oratory (aidrei photi eoikos).[71] Such is the ‘duplicity,’ of mêtis which, giving itself out to be other than it is, is like those misleading objects, the powers of deception which Homer refers to as dolos: the Trojan Horse,[72] the bed of love with its magic bonds,[73] the fishing bait[74] are all traps which conceal their inner deceit beneath a reassuring or seductive exterior.

 


CHAPTER 2

The Fox and the Octopus

[27] The episode of Antilochus enabled us to give a general outline of the semantic field of mêtis and of the essential features of this particular type of intelligence, taking the Homeric epic as our starting point. Mêtis, informed prudence, allows Antilochus, in the Games, to gain a lead in the chariot race over adversaries with faster teams of horses than his own. Cunning, dolos. tricks, kerde, and the ability to seize an opportunity, kairos, give the weaker competitor the means of triumphing over the stronger, enabling the inferior to outdo the superior rival. Throughout the race Antilochus drives intently, keeping his eyes on the man in front of him, dokeuei. To bring about a reversal of the position mêtis must foresee the unforeseeable. Engaged in the world of becoming and confronted with situations which are ambiguous and unfamiliar and whose outcome always lies in the balance, wiley intelligence is only able to maintain its hold over beings and things thanks to its ability to look beyond the immediate present and forsee a greater or lesser section of the future. Vigilant and forever on the alert, mêtis also appears as multiple, pantoie, many-coloured, poikile and shifting, aiole. They are all qualities which betray the polymorphism and polyvalence of a kind of intelligence which, to render itself impossible to seize and to dominate fluid, changing realities, must always prove itself more supple and more polymorphic than they are. Finally, mêtis, wiley intelligence possesses the most prized cunning of all: the ‘duplicity’ of the trap which always presents itself as what it is not and which conceals its true lethal nature beneath a reassuring exterior.

This is our first model of mêtis with the features that appear in the Iliad and the Odyssey. We shall now compare [28] it to the model presented by our second source of evidence, namely the works ascribed to Oppian.

*                                          *                                          *

[Class reading continues at the end of this section]

The Treatise on Fishing, composed by Oppian during the second century A.D. and the Treatise on Hunting by the author known by the same name[75] introduce us into a world of traps. These include not just baits, nets, weels, nooses and snares, but also in a certain respect those animals and men which appear alternately first as hunted and then as hunter. In the two treatises, the words dolos, techne mechane recur constantly, associated with the term mêtis. In the world of animals as in that of men, relations of force are constantly upset by the intervention of mêtis. It is not necessarily the rule that the bigger creatures eat the smaller: ‘Those which have not been allotted strength by some god and which are not equipped with some poisonous sting to defend themselves have as their weapons the resources of an intelligence fertile in cunning tricks and stratagems (doloi). They can kill a fish which is easily their superior in size and strength (kai krateron, kai huperteron)’[76]. The defeat of the weak and the frail is not a foregone conclusion. Prawns are small, says Oppian, and their strength is commensurate with their size: ‘Yet, thanks to their cunning tricks (doloi) they are able to kill the sea basse which is one of the most powerful fishes’.[77]

The mêtis of fish can take a thousand forms. It abounds in inventiveness and is full of surprises. This, for example, is how the fishing frog operates: ‘The fishing frog is a sluggish creature with a soft body and a hideous aspect. Its mouth opens exceedingly wide. Nevertheless, it is a possessor of mêtis, for all that, and it is mêtis that procures its food. What it does is crouch, motionless, deep in the wet mud. Then it stretches out a little fleshy appendage which grows below its lower jaw; the appendage is thin, white and has an unpleasant smell. The frog waves it about continuously, using it as a bait (dolos) to attract small fish. As soon as these catch sight of it they fall on it in order to seize it. Then, imperceptibly, the frog draws this sort of tongue back towards it and continues to wave it gently about a couple of finger-[29]lengths away from its mouth. Without the slightest suspicion that it is a trap (krupton dolon) the little fish follow the bait. Soon they are swallowed up one after another within the wide jaws of this huge mouth’.[78] Oppian goes on to remark that it is thus, by duping them, that the feeble frog catches the fish. The domain of mêtis is one ruled by cunning and traps. It is an ambiguous world, composed of duplicity and deceit—apate. The fleshy appendage growing on the fishing frog is a true fishing bait and as such has a double character: to the little fish it looks for all the world like food but it is food which soon changes itself into a voracious maw. With this type of ligament dangling from its neck which it can stretch out and draw back at will, the fishing frog sets up a manoeuvre which equals the art of line fishing; and because of this ploy or sophisma[79] the Greeks gave it the fitting name of ‘angler-fish’ or halieius.

The fish which possess mêtis are living traps. The Torpedo fish appears as a flabby body, quite without vigour but, Oppian tells us, ‘its flanks conceal a cunning trick, a dolos, its strength in weakness’.[80] Its dolos, consists of the sudden electric shock which its harmless appearance masks and which takes its adversary by surprise, leaving it at the torpedo fish’s mercy. The sea is like a world full of snares, inhabited as it is by ambiguous creatures whose harmless appearance belies their true, deadly nature. A rock looks like a greyish mass, unalarming and still. But all the time it is an octopus. Oppian says that it is by techne that the octopus merges in with the rock to which it clings.[81] In this way, thanks to the illusion (apate) which they thus create, they have no difficulty in eluding the pursuit of fishermen as well as that of the fish whose strength they fear. If, on the other hand, some weak creature comes within their reach, they immediately cast off their appearance of a rock and reassume that of an octopus. The same trick is their means of both acquiring food and escaping death. The world of duplicity is also a world of vigilance: both the fishing frog squatting in the mud and the octopus plastered to its rock are on the alert; they keep a look out, are on the watch for the moment to act. Every animal with mêtis is a living eye which never closes or even blinks.[82]

[30] In this world of hunting and of fishing, victory is only to be won through mêtis. There is one unalterable rule for animals and men alike, be they hunting or fishing: the only way to get the better of a polumetis one is to exhibit even more mêtis. Menelaus can only seize Proteus, the polymorphic god, by resorting to ambush and disguise.[83] Herakles can only triumph over Peryclemenes, the elusive warrior with a thousand forms, with the aid of Athena and all her mêtis.[84] How does Oppian see this type of man hunter or fisherman, confronted with a world of traps and at grips with animals full of cunning? There are several passages in the Treatise on Fishing and the Treatise On Hunting which enable us to distinguish his essential features and to discern his most important qualities. The first quality of the hunter as of the fisherman is agility, suppleness, swiftness, mobility. Oppian insists that a good fisherman must have agile limbs, be able to leap from stone to stone, run along the bank and move as swiftly as his prey.[85] As for the hunter, he must be energetic and hardened to withstand fatigue, but he must also be a good runner, fleet of foot[86] like the accomplished warrior as depicted in Homer.[87] When Plato, in the Laws, writes that there is no more warrior-like quality than agility of body—of the feets and hands for example—his remark is equally applicable to the type of man we are attempting to define.[88] Certain points found in myth also stress this fundamental quality. When Hermes sets out to hunt at nightfall, he plaits himself a pair of ‘swift sandals’ which enable him to move as fast as the wind.[89] According to Nonnos, Agreus and Nomios, two mythical patrons of the hunt, were the owners of magical shoes: when Dionysus wants to give a mark of his favour to Nicaia, who is passionately devoted to the hunt, these are what he gives him.[90] Tradition has it that these same shoes are also a part of the equipment of Artemis when she sets out on her great hunts.[91] Their name makes it quite clear what they stand for: they are known as endromides, ‘racing’ shoes.

The second quality of the hunter and of the fisherman is dissimulation, the art of seeing without being seen. True, Oppian nowhere says this in so many words. But we are justified in inferring it from a number of recommendations, [31] and precepts which make the same point. In the first place, there is some purely technical information: the line on which the bait is suspended must be as fine as a hair; the snares laid on the tracks frequented by the game must be undetectable among the branches, the weel must merge in with the background of the undersea world in the same way as the octopus which adopts the colour and shape of the rock to which it clings.[92] These recommendations concerning the instruments of fishing and hunting are an integral part of a whole series of precepts which Oppian produces for those who desire to catch fish or game: they must be very quiet, move without noise and, however fleet of foot they may be, they must also when necessary be capable of remaining quite still for hours on end.[93] When one wants to catch a shoal of fish detected by a look-out, one must as far as possible avoid making any sound with the oars and nets. The nets must be thrown out far enough away so that the sound of the oars and ‘the lapping of the water against the boat will not be heard by the fish. All those taking part in a fishing expedition must proceed in total silence until the fish are ‘encircled’ (kukloun), imprisoned within the circular sweep of the huge net.[94] In this marine world in which, as Plutarch says, every living creature harbours presentiments which change in no time into suspicions,[95] dissimulation is to no avail without the preliminary skill of laying the bait and setting the trap.[96] Silent and invisible, hunters and fishermen must themselves become traps.[97]

Being silent and ever on the alert, remaining invisible, missing nothing, constantly on the qui-vive: all this is covered by a technical term relating to hunting and fishing whose importance in Homeric terminology we have already noted, namely dokeuein, to be on the look out, on the watch. The third quality of this type of man is vigilance. On this point Oppian is quite explicit: a keen eye is essential for hunting and fishing. Hunters and fishermen must always keep their eyes open and their wits about them, never succumbing to the desire to sleep.[98] The animals for which they lie in wait never relax their vigilance. The question of whether fishes ever slept was a much debated one among the ancient writers, to such an extent that in his Historia Animalium, Aristotle [32] spends a long time attempting to show that they do sleep, and moreover very deeply.[99] Some authors of technical treatises such as Seleucus of Tarsus claimed, on the other hand, that no fish sleeps except one which is, paradoxically, known as the ‘leaping’ fish, skaros.[100] Oppian is of the same opinion: fishes are creatures which never close their eyes, even during the night. They are characterised by a noos panaupnos, an intelligence which is never overcome by the power of sleep.[101] In a sense, Seleucus of Tarsus and Oppian are in the right against Aristotle despite his naturalist’s knowledge: if fish possess mêtis it is not possible that they should sleep; they resemble Zeus, the god who is the embodiment of mêtis, who never sleeps, whose eyes never close.[102] The hunter must be like Hermes,[103] euskopos, a good lookout. In his list of hunting epithets Pollux, having noted that the hunter must be swift (kouphos), a good runner (dromikos) and alert (agrupnos) insists that he should also be oxus, that he must have a sharp eye, a piercing glance.[104] When, a little further on, Pollux gives the hunter advice as to how to tackle a wild boar, this detail takes on its full importance: he must have a piercing eye to aim (stochcazesthai) at the vital parts (kairia), the spot where a wound is fatal.[105]

If the hunter and fisherman show a capacity for vigilance’ Oppian declares[106] they will make good catches, they will be dear to Hermes, the god of windfalls who is the most alert of the gods in the Greek pantheon, after Zeus whose nature is entirely alien to sleep. Mobility, vigilance and the art of seeing without being seen are all included in the quality that Oppian insists the accomplished fisherman must possess: he must be polupaipalos, full of finesse.[107] The term may seem surprising: the literal meaning of paipale or paipalema is ‘the finest flour’ but, as used by Aristophanes, it is a metaphor which is applied to one who is cunning, subtle and shrewd.[108] To be polupaipalos is to be a master of finesse. The expression is analogous to a whole series of terms which associate closely together the ideas of cunning and of multiplicity: polumetis, the epithet applied to Odysseus, Hephaestus and Hermes,[109] polutropos which refers both to the octopus and to the man of mêtis,[110] and polumechanos which describes the intelligence of Odysseus.[111] To be a master of finesse, polupaipalos, does [33] not only involve traps, weels, snares and nets, all the doloi which are the weapons of the hunter and the fisherman. The context shows that it has a wider meaning: ‘The fisherman must possess a mind full of finesse (polupaipalos) and intelligence (moemon), for the fish, having fallen unexpectedly into the trap, devise a thousand cunning tricks to escape from it (polla kai aiola mechanoontai)’.[112] It is the mêtis of the fish which obliges the fisherman to deploy an intelligence full of finesse. Oppian states this clearly on several occasions: ‘It is not only in relations with each other that fish display the finesse of their intelligence, their shrewdness and their cunning (noema puknon, mêtis epiklopos). Indeed, very often, they deceive the cleverness of those who seek to catch them; they often escape even when already hooked or caught in the net. Winning the battle of wits (boulei nikesantes), they often triumph over the ‘artifices of men’.[113] Even when they are caught animals may, thanks to their mêtis, themselves remain traps: they have all the cunning of the sophist, the poikilos schemer ‘who is never without a way (porous eumechanos porizein) of escaping from difficulties (amechanon)’.[114] Their mêtis even rivals Promethean cunning ‘capable of extricating itself even from the inextricable’.[115] To triumph over these creatures which are so resourceful, to thwart even their most startling ploys and be ready even for what is most unpredictable, hunters and fishermen must be capable of showing mêtis superior to theirs, they must have more tricks up their sleeves than their victims. It is by drawing on experience from the animal world that mêtis, can fortify itself and become full of all the resources essential to it. In his treatise on The Intelligence of Animals, Plutarch stresses this point: octopus hunting, he writes, develops a man’s skill (deinotes) and practical intelligence (sunesis).[116] Conversely when, in the Laws, Plato violently condemns line fishing, the hunting of aquatic creatures, the use of weels, the hunting of birds and all forms of hunting with nets and traps, he does so because all these techniques foster the qualities of cunning and duplicity which are diametrically opposed to the virtues that the city of the Laws demanded from its citizens.[117]

If they are masters of finesse hunters and fishermen can [34] display an unrivalled duplicity: there is no end to their stratagems, they can devise a thousand tricks to equal the ploys of animal mêtis. Some fish can be caught by some fairly crude bait. An octopus grilled over charcoal easily lures a sea bream into the weel. But this facile type of fishing can become a marvel when, instead of using an ordinary snare which can catch only one prisoner, the fisherman uses a type of trap which remains open. Patiently, he allows the fish to become accustomed to the ‘device’, to get used to finding their food there and then, all of sudden, he captures the entire group by closing the opening of the weel with a well-fitting cover.[118] Other victims are less naive and for them more subtle methods are necessary. To catch the anthias, Oppian’s advice is to fix to a double-pronged hook a living sea basse, if this be possible.[119] If a living bait is not available, the fisherman should resort to the following subterfuge: he should attach, just above the fish’s mouth, a piece of lead, known as a ‘dolphin’, the pressure of which gives the lifeless body the movements of an authentic living creature. Deceived by the appearance of the fish which seems to be fleeing from them, the anthias fall upon it.[120] Here again the cunning trick of the fisherman is simply an imitation—a replica of the trick perpetrated by the fishing frog.

*                                          *                                          *

[Class reading continues]

Countless animals are endowed with mêtis. Oppian describes at length the pranks (kerde) of the ichneumon[121] and the cunning tricks (dolos) of the Ox-ray;[122] and he marvels at the mêtis of the starfish and the urchins[123] and at the techne of the crab with its twisted gait.[124] But of all the animals which are outstanding for their mêtis, there are two which call for particular attention: the fox and the octopus. In Greek thought they serve as models. They are, as it were, the incarnation of cunning in the animal world. Each represents one essential aspect of mêtis in Particular. The fox has a thousand tricks up its sleeve but the culminating point of its mêtis appears in the way it, so to speak, reverses itself. In the infinite suppleness of its tentacles the octopus, for its part, symbolises the unseizability that comes from polymorphy. [35] When Oppian describes the cunning of the fishing frog squatting in the mud, motionless and invisible, he compares it to the fox: ‘The scheming fox (agkulometis kerdo) devises a similar trick; as soon as it spots a flock of wild birds it lies down on its side, stretches out its agile limbs, closes its eyelids and shuts its mouth. To see it you would think that it was enjoying a deep sleep or even that it was really dead, so well does it hold its breath as it lies stretched out there, all the while turning over treacherous plots (aiola bouleuousa) in its mind. No sooner do the birds notice it than they swoop down on it in a flock and, as if in mockery, tear at its coat with their claws, but as soon as they are within reach of its teeth the fox reveals its cunning (dolos) and seizes them unexpectedly’.[125] The fox is a trap; when the right moment comes the dead creature becomes more alive than the living. But the skill of the fox lies in its ability to lie low, crouching in the shadows. This is how the author of the Treatise on Hunting sees it: ‘The most scheming (aioloboulos) of wild animals ... it lives, in its intelligence, in the depths of an earth which is admirably laid out. The dwelling that it digs itself has seven different entrances linked by as many corridors and the openings are situated a long way from each other. Thus it has less cause to fear that hunters, laying a trap at its door, will make it fall into their snares’.[126] It is within this lair that it devises its plots. The misleading, enigmatic, polymorphic earth of the fox is matched by the animal’s equally impenetrable mind. An animal as artful as this cannot fail to be elusive: ‘The fox is not to be captured by ambush nor by noose nor by net for it has no equal in

smelling out an ambush; it is clever at severing ropes and escaping death through the subtlety of its cunning tricks’[127] Oppian here uses a typical verb for ‘to escape’: olisthanein, which conveys the image of an athlete whose body, rubbed with oil, slips through the grasp of his adversary.[128] For the Greek world, the fox is cunning; in Greek a cunning trick can be called alopex or fox. The most common adjectives applied to the fox are aioloboulos,[129] poikilophron,[130] poikilos.[131] It is a master of doloi: in fables, its words are more beguiling (haimuloi logoi) than those of the sophist.[132] The panther [36] can boast a many-coloured coat but the fox’s rejoinder to this is that beneath its uniformly rust-coloured fur it hides a mind of many nuances and a polymorphic intelligence which can adapt to any circumstances.[133] It is known as Kerdo, the profiteer and ‘fox’ can also mean the rascal (panourgos)[134] or, equally, it can refer to an area of the body which is hairless and, so, difficult to grasp.[135] Even as early as the time of Alcaeus,[136] the fox appears as the model for a certain type of man: Pittacos is a fox. He knows how to lie low, but also knows the art of scheming in battle. Pittacos the Fox was believed to have killed the Athenian general, Phrynon, the Olympic champion of the all-in wrestling, in a duel. Under his shield, the ‘Fox’ had hidden a net which he threw over his adversary, taking him by surprise.[137]

The mind of the fox is full of crafty wiles.[138] Consider how it catches bustards: it droops its head downward and gently wags its tail. Aelian claims that the deluded (apatetheisai) bustards approach this object which they mistake for one of their own kind. When they are within reach, the fox suddenly turns round (epistrephein) and leaps upon them.[139] If the mêtis of the fox is immediately detectable in its skill at playing dead., it is dazzlingly apparant in this sudden reversal. In effect, the fox holds the secret of reversal which is the last word in craftiness. In the fourth Isthmian, Pindar gives a very significant description of the mêtis of the fox: in many instances, he says, ‘the cunning of the weaker has taken the stronger by surprise and brought about his downfall (kai kresson’ andron cheironon esphale techna katamarpsais’). The courage of Ajax, the greatest of all after Achilles, is brought down by the craftiness of Odysseus, the polumetis: it is a victory for the Wolf over the Lion.[140] In this way Pindar comes to praise Melissos of Thebes, victor in the all-in wrestling. Although small of stature, his energy is daunting: ‘His courage in battle resembles the valiance of wild animals which roar so terribly.’ He is a lion, but a lion which is also a fox and which reversing its position, brings to a halt the flight of the eagle.[141] Melissos is a past master at the feint employed in wrestling (palaisma) of eluding the grasp of the adversary and then, by reversing one’s body, turning against him the force of his own thrust.[142] Similarly, when the eagle [37] swooping down on it, the fox suddenly reverses its own position. The eagle is outwitted, its prey escapes it and the positions are reversed. This is the fox’s masterstroke. But the carnivorous fox is not the only creature in the animal world to possess this talent. There is also a fish which is reputed to be able to get itself out of an inextricable situation. As soon as it is caught on a hook it swims rapidly up and severs the line half way up or sometimes even higher. Plutarch tells us more about it: ‘It generally avoids bait (dolos) but if it is caught it gets rid of it. Thanks to its energy and flexibility’ (hugroteta) it is able to change its body (metaballein to soma) and turn it inside out (strephein) so that the interior becomes the exterior: the hook falls out (hoste ton entos ektos genomenon apopiptein agkistron).[143]Aelian provides full confirmation on the subject of this manoeuvre. ‘It unfolds its internal organs and turns them inside out, divesting itself of its body as if it were a shirt (heautes to entos metekdousa estrepsen exo hosper oun chitona to soma anelixasa).[144] This fish turns itself inside out like a glove. It is the ultimate in reversal. And the name given this aquatic creature by the Greeks is ‘fox fish’.[145] There is no positive evidence based on observation to corroborate the amazing behaviour which so many writers attribute to the fox—be it the actual fox or the fish. It was not in nature that the Greeks found this type of reversal behaviour in animals, but rather in their own minds, in the conception that they formed of mêtis, its methods and effects. The fox, being the embodiment of cunning, can only behave as befits the nature of an intelligence full of wiles. If it turns back on itself it is because it is, itself, as it were, mêtis, the power of reversal.

While the fox is as supple and as slim as a lassoo, the octopus reaches out in all directions through its countless, flexible and undulating limbs (aiola guia).[146] To the Greeks, the octopus is a knot made up of a thousand arms, a living, interlacing, network, a poluplokos being.[147] The same adjective is also used to describe the snake with its coils and folds;[148] and the labyrinth, with its mazes and tangle of halls and passages.[149] The monster Typhon, too, is poluplokos: a multiple creature ‘with a hundred heads’ whose trunk tapers out into its eel-like limbs.[150]

[38] The octopus is renowned for its mêtis.[151] Oppian compares it to a burglar who emerges under cover of night to catch his prey by surprise.[152] The octopus is elusive: its mechane enables it to merge with the stone to which it clings.[153] Not only is it able to take the shape of the bodies to which it clings perfectly, but it can also imitate the colour of the creatures and things which it approaches.[154] The elusive octopus is a being of the night. Like Hermes, called nuchios,[155] it too knows how to disappear into the night, but it is a night which it can itself secrete, as can other creatures of its kind and, in particular, the cuttle-fish or sepia. The cuttle-fish, which is dolometis and dolophron,[156] is reputed to be the most cunning of all the molluscs. It possesses one infallible weapon to deceive its enemy and to fool its victim, namely its ink which is a kind of cloud (tholos).[157] This dark liquid, a viscous cloud, enables it both to elude its enemies and to capture its adversaries, which become its victims, as if in a net. It is this ink, this dark cloud, this impenetrable night which defines one of the essential features of the octopus and of the cuttle-fish. These elusive, supple cephallopods which develop into a thousand agile limbs are enigmatic creatures. They have neither front nor rear, they swim sideways with their eyes in front and their mouth behind, their heads haloed by their waving feet.[158] When these creatures mate, they do so mouth to mouth and arm to arm. Thus closely linked, they swim along together: the front of the one is the rear of the other.[159] They are oblique creatures the front of which is never distinctly distinguished from the rear, and in their being and in the way they move, they create a confusion of directions. Cuttlefish and octopuses are pure aporai and the impenetrable, pathless night that they secrete is the most perfect image of their mêtis. Within this deep darkness, only the octopus and the cuttle-fish can find their way, only they can discover a poros. The night is their lair. They take shelter in it to escape from their enemies and emerge unexpectedly from it to catch their victims.[160] Living traps as they are, they exploit a device that Plutarch calls sophisma: they have a long, thin tentacle which they move very slowly to lure the fish.[161] As soon as they are within reach, they seize [39] them mercilessly. But the source of their strength is the cause of their downfall. These creatures so rich in mêtis can only be taken by their own traps: to catch them, fishermen throw them as bait a female of their own kind which they then grasp so tightly that nothing but death can make them let go.[162] In order to get the better of these creatures which are truly, themselves, living traps, the fisherman must turn against them their own power of binding.

Like the fox, the octopus defines a type of human behaviour: ‘Present a different aspect of yourself (epistrephe poikilon ethos) to each of our friends .... Follow the example of the octopus with its many coils (poluplokos) which assumes the appearance of the stone to which it is going to cling. Attach yourself to one on one day and, another day, change colour. Cleverness (sophie) is more valuable than inflexibility (atropie)’.[163] Atropie is strictly opposed to polytropie, as immobility and rigidity to the constant movement of whoever can reveal a new face on every different occasion. The suggested ideal is the polutropos one,[164] the man of a thousand tricks, the epistrophos anthropon who can turn a different face to each person. There is but one name for this man, throughout Greek tradition: Odysseus, the polumetis one, the man whom Eustathius actually calls ‘an octopus’.[165] But the octopus is not simply characteristic of a particular type of human behaviour; it is also the model for a form of intelligence: the poluplokon noema, intelligence ‘with many coils’.[166] This octopus—like intelligence is to be found in two types of men in particular—the sophist and the politician, whose qualities and functions in Greek society stand in opposition and yet are complementary just as are the separate spheres of speech and action. For it is in his shifting speeches, his poikiloi logoi that the sophist deploys his words of ‘many coils’, periplokai:[167] strings of words which unfold like the coils of the snake, speeches which enmesh their enemies like the supple arms of the octopus. For the politician taking on the appearance of the octopus, making himself poluplokos, involves not only possessing the logos of the octopus but also proving himself capable of adapting to the most baffling of situations, of assuming as many faces as there are social [40] categories and types of men in the city, of inventing the thousand ploys which will make his actions effective in the most varied of circumstances.[168]

From some points of view the polutropos man, as a type, is hard to distinguish from the man whom the Lyric poets call the ephemerosone.[169] He is a man of the moment, a man of change: now one thing, now another; he shifts and slides from one extreme to the other. The ephemeros man is characterised by his mobility just as is the polutropos. However, although both are mobile creatures, on one essential point they are radically different. One is passive, the other active. The ephemeros one is an inconstant man who at every moment feels himself changing; he is aware of his state of flux and veers at the slightest puff of wind. One expression used by Pindar to describe him is ‘the prey of crafty time’ (dolios aion),[170] time which can make a life alter course. The polutropos one, on the other hand, is distinguished by the control he possesses: supple and shifting as he is, he is always master of himself and is only unstable in appearance. His volte-faces are a trap—the net in which his adversary becomes entangled. He is not the plaything of movement but its master. He manipulates it and other people and does so all the more easily in that he gives the appearance of being ephemeros. The distance separating the polutropos and the ephemeros man corresponds exactly to that between the octopus and the chamaeleon: while the metamorphoses of the latter are produced by fear, those of the octopus are the result of its guile. Its changes, Plutarch observes, are ‘a manoeuvre (mechane) not a purely physical effect ... this is a way of eluding its enemies and seizing the fish upon which it feeds’.[171] It is this ability of the octopus and the polutropos one, the man of a thousand tricks, to assume every form without becoming imprisoned within any, that characterises supple mêtis which appears to bow before circumstances only so that it can dominate them more surely.

The reversals of the fox and the polymorphy of the octopus and the cuttle-fish represent two complementary models of behaviour which constitute the two inseparable sides to mêtis, and they share a common actor—namely, the theme of the bond. The poluplokos octopus is a knot composed of [41] thousand interweaving arms; every part of its body is a bond which can secure anything but which nothing can seize. He, fox, which is poikilos, lives in a labyrinth, a poikilon space with passages like tentacles stretching out in every direction. The fox is a living bond which can bend, unbend, reverse its own position at will and, like the octopus, it is a master of bonds. Nothing can bind it but it can secure anything. Bonds are the special weapons of mêtis. To weave (plekein) and to twist (strephein) are key words in the terminology connected with it.[172] In the treatises attributed to Oppian we find nothing but bonds, ropes, cords made from twisted willow and twisted snares (dolos plektos).[173] For both hunting and fishing, willow withies (lugos) are the basic material; with two, three or four strands twisted together, the pieces are joined end to end to form the ‘well twisted withies’ which the good hunter always carries with him.[174] But the art of binding is not the prerogative of hunters and fishermen alone. When Hermes wants to hide the theft of his oxen from Apollo and cause him to fall into his sly trap, he reverses the tracks of the cattle by driving the creatures backwards before him while he himself returns over his tracks so that it seems that he is coming forward at the same time as he is going backwards, thereby inextricably confusing what is in front with what is behind.[175] Hermes, who is a living web of interweaving, is also called strophaios,[176] not only because he often stations himself close to the door which turns on its hinges (strophigx), but because he is, as the scholiasts put it,[177] the twisted or sly one, the strophis,[178] a creature as mobile as the mime, Strophios, the father of Phlogios, also a mime, known as polustrophos; both of them could imitate the most diverse living creatures with movements of their agile fingers and hands.[179] Strophaios is also the name given by the Greeks to the sophist who knows how to interweave (sumplekein) and twist together (strephein).[180] speeches (logoi) and artifices (mechanai). If the wrestler is as pliable as a withy, the sophist is a master at bending and interweaving logoi—at bending them since he knows a thousand ways of twisting and turning (pasas strophas strephesthai),[181] how to devise a thousand tricks (mechanasthai strophas),[182] and, like the fox, how to turn an argument against [42] the adversary who used it in the first place. Like Proteus, he can run through the whole gamut of living forms in order to elude the clutches of his enemy. The sophist is also a master at interweaving for he is constantly entangling two contrary theses. Like Zeno of Elea, who is a true Palamedes, he speaks with such skill that he is able to convince his audience that the same things are now similar to each other and now dissimilar, now single and now multiple.[183] Speeches interwoven like this are traps, strephomena[184] as are the puzzles set by the gods of mêtis, which the Greeks call griphoi[185] which is also the name given to some types of fishing nets. With their twisting, flexing, interweaving and bending, both athletes and sophists—just like the fox and the octopus—can be seen as living bonds.

However, with the theme of bonds we have not yet reached the last word on the subject of the mêtis of the octopus and the fox. The reversal technique of the one corresponds perfectly to the polymorphism of the other; when the fox turns round on itself it assumes a circular form where the front becomes the rear and vice versa. Like the cuttle-fish it no longer has a beginning or an end, a front or a rear: it is shapeless, a deep night, pure aporia. The circle described by the fox when it turns round on itself makes it as elusive as the dark cloud secreted by the cuttle-fish. Now, there is a certain type of fishing net which, in Greek, is called a cloud (nephele).[186] The net, an invisible mesh of bonds, is one of the favourite weapons of mêtis. It is by means of the net that Pittacos triumphs over Phrynon,[187] that Clytemnestra secures Agammemnon before stabbing him to death[188] and that Hephaestus catches Aphrodite and Ares.[189] The trap set for the suitors by Odysseus is a net ‘with countless eyes’;[190] the chains which fix Prometheus to his rock weave a net of steel mesh around him.[191] The net, ‘an endless mesh’ (apeiron amphiblestron),[192] can seize anything yet can be seized by nothing; its shape is as fluid as it can be, the most mobile and also the most baffling, that of the circle. To catch something in a net can be conveyed in Greek, as is well known, by the expression ‘to encircle’, enkuklein.[193] There is no difference in kind between the mêtis. of the fox and the cuttlefish and that of the fisherman. The only way to triumph over [43] an adversary endowed with mêtis is to turn its own weapons against it: the fisherman’s ‘cloud’ is the unyielding answer to the ‘cloud’, of the cuttle-fish. It is only by himself becoming, by means of his net, a bond and a circle, by himself becoming deep night, endless aporia, an elusive shape, that the man of mêtis can triumph over the most cunning species in the animal world.

*                                          *                                          *

Ten centuries separate Oppian from Homer. Furthermore, the Iliad is separated from the Cynegetica and Halieutica by all the differences that set apart an epic from a technical treatise on hunting or fishing. Yet within our field of study there is a startling continuity between them. The entire semantic field within which the concept of mêtis is set, and the network of its various meanings has remained virtually unchanged. We find the same collection of words—dolos, mechane, techne, kerdos, apate, aiolos, poikilos, haimulos—to describe the intrinsic characteristics of this type of cunning intelligence which is sufficiently quick and supple, wiley and deceitful, to confront the unexpected on every occasion, to counter the most changeable of circumstances and to triumph, in unequal combat, over adversaries who are better equipped for a trial of strength. The inferiority of Antilochus’ chariot and team at the beginning of the race is exactly matched by the physical weakness of the shrimps or the torpedo-fish whose only compensation can be an excessive share of mêtis. The concentration and vigilance which the young man displays throughout the race resembles that of the octopus constantly lying in wait for its prey. The duplicity of the driver endowed with mêtis who, with premeditated cunning, simulates thoughtlessness and madness the better to fool his adversary, is the image of the living trap embodied by the fox who is really alive but is shamming dead, or of the tongue of the fishing-frog which, disguised as food proffered to the fish, masks the voracious maw which will soon engulf them.

Given the features and modes of behaviour that characterise it, the fields in which it operates, the stratagems it employs, [44] to reverse the rules accepted in a trial of strength, mêtis does indeed appear fully to represent the Greek concept of one particular type of intelligence. It is an intelligence which, instead of contemplating unchanging essences, is directly involved in the difficulties of practical life with all its risks, confronted with a world of hostile forces which are disturbing because they are always changing and ambiguous. Mêtis —intelligence which operates in the world of becoming, in circumstances of conflict—takes the form of an ability to deal with whatever comes up, drawing on certain intellectual qualities: forethought perspicacity, quickness and acuteness of understanding, trickery, and even deceit. But these qualities bring into play the weapons which are their own particular attribute: elusiveness and duplicity, like spells which they use to oppose brute force. A being of mêtis slips through its adversary’s fingers like running water. It is so supple as to be polymorphic; like a trap, it is the opposite of what it seems to be. It is ambiguous, inverted, and operates through a process of reversal.

How should we explain this stability of terminology and, through it, of the images, themes and models associated with mêtis, and what is its significance? Where Oppian is concerned could it not be simply a matter of a stylistic feature involving a deliberate use of archaisms and a conscious exploitation of epic terminology? Even if this were the case, the evidence in Oppian would have the effect of shedding some light upon the patterns of thought relating to mêtis in Homer. But one cannot fail to notice that, from Homer to Oppian, throughout a literary tradition which includes Hesiod, the lyric poets, the tragedians and Plato and Aristotle, some of the terms most closely associated with mêtis seem to have a special application to the fields of hunting, fishing and also warfare to the extent that this last activity is understood as analogous to the first two. In Book XII of the Odyssey, dolos is the word used to refer to the bait or fish-hook of the fisherman.[194] In Hesiod, at the end of the conflict in which the mêtis of Zeus is repeatedly opposed by that of Prometheus, the final trick which confirms the superiority of the king of the gods over the Titan, is the creation of Pandora, the bait which Epimetheus and all mankind will fall for. Pandora is a dolos aipus [45] amechanos,[195] an unexpected trap from which there can be no escape. The meaning of the term aipus here is illuminated by the comparable passage in the Agamemnon in which Clytemnestra boasts that in order to trap her husband she has stretched the nets of misfortune so high that no leap would be great enough to clear them.[196] The dolos aipus mechanos is indeed a trap, a trench so deep as to defy escape from it. When Odysseus snaps fast the trap laid for the suitors, he is a fisherman pulling in the net full of quivering fish[197] and, similarly, Sarpedon, warning Hector of the danger threatening the Trojans, fears that they will fall into the meshes of a net which will capture them all, down to the last man.[198] Pindar writes explicitly of the mêtis of the fox[199] just as Ion of Chios describes the techne of the hedgehog.[200] In the Agamemnon, in which Aeschylus makes a haunting use of the themes of hunting and fishing,[201] the king of the Greeks is a hunter tracking down the city of Priam so that he can throw his net over it, but a hunter who will one day be caught in the meshes woven by his own wife to trap him in his turn. When Sophocles and Euripides write of the art of the hunter and the fisherman, they lay emphasis on the devices, mechanai, invented by their ingenious minds, their many-faceted intelligence, their poikilia prapidon.[202] When Plato portrays Eros, he describes him as having inherited from Metis, his ancestor, those qualities which make him a hunter without equal, thereutes deinos, always lying in wait, brave, quick, with total concentration, and always weaving some scheme, aei tinas plekon mechanas. [203] And again, it is in terms of hunting and fishing that he defines the art of the sophist who, in contrast to the philosopher whose wisdom is directed towards the world of ideas, embodies the scheming intelligence of the man of mêtis, plunged into the world of appearance and of Becoming. By means of his skill and rhetorical ploys, the sophist can make the weaker argument triumph over the stronger.

Nor is this all. As far back as one can trace it, the terminology of mêtis associates it with techniques whose relationship to hunting and fishing is obvious. A mêtis or a dolos is woven, plaited or fitted together (huphainein, plekein, tektainesthai) just as a net is woven, a weel is plaited or a [46] hunting trap is fitted together.[204] All these terms relate to very ancient techniques[205] that use the pliability and torsion of plant fibres to make knots, ropes, meshes and nets to surprise, trap and bind and that exploit the fact that many pieces can be fitted together to produce a well-articulated whole.

These associations seem to have had a profound effect upon one whole dimension of Greek thought. The essential features of mêtis revealed by our analyses—pliability and polymorphism, duplicity and equivocality, inversion and reversal—imply certain qualities which are also attributed to the curve, to what is pliable and twisted, to what is oblique and ambiguous as opposed to what is straight, direct, rigid and unequivocal. The ultimate expression of these qualities is the circle, the bond that is perfect because it completely turns back on itself, is closed in on itself, with neither beginning nor end, front nor rear, and which in rotation becomes both mobile and immobile, moving in both directions at once. These same qualities find expression in the almost systematic use of the terminology of the curve to describe mêtis. It is not just a matter of the word agkulometis but also of an adjective such as skolios, a noun such as strophis, terms composed from the root *gu used to indicate curving, for example the epithet amphigueeis used to refer to a creature whose feet are twisted round or are capable of moving both forwards and backwards; and the root *kamp, used to refer to whatever is curved, pliable or articulated. There is a passage which is significant in this respect in the Aristotelian treatise the Mechanica.[206] The author writes of his theory of the five instruments which make possible a reversal of power such as that which is characteristic of mêtis, or—to use the author’s own terms—which enable the smaller and weaker to dominate the bigger and stronger. He explains this amazing effect of the ‘machines’ which human ingenuity uses, by the properties of the circle: because, through its continuous curve which closes on itself, the circle unites within it several opposites each one giving birth to its opposite, it appears as the strangest, most baffling thing in the world, thaumasiotaton possessing a power which is beyond ordinary logic. This same paradoxical effect of reversal is also noted by Aristotle, [47] the naturalist, in the Historia Animalium which contains most of the material on the intelligence of animals which Oppian, following Plutarch and Athenaeus, was later to develop. Just as the mêtis of Antilochus made it possible for him, with slower horses, to overtake faster teams, in the same way, according to Aristotle, the fishing-frogs, the slowest fishes, bradutatoi, find a way of consuming the mullet which are the swiftest fish in the sea, ton tachisto.[207]

However, although it seems quite clear to us that mêtis was of abiding importance in Greek culture over a period of a thousand years, the historians of ancient thought do not appear to have paid sufficient attention to it. They were, perhaps, concerned with emphasising, by a consideration of the key works of the great philosophers, the distinctive characteristics which mark the originality of Hellenism in comparison with other civilisations: its logic of identity, its metaphysics of Being and of the Unchanging. At all events, they have often tended to neglect this other aspect of Greek intelligence which is writ large in myth, in the deification of Metis, Zeus’ first wife, the goddess without whose help the king of the gods would have been unable to establish, implement and maintain his own supremacy. In order to find its way through a world of change and instability and to master the Becoming by vying with it in cunning, intelligence must, in the eyes of the Greeks, in some way adopt the nature of this Becoming, assume its forms, just as Menelaus slips into the skin of a seal so as to triumph over the shifting, magic spells of Proteus. By dint of its own flexibility, then, intelligence must itself become constant movement, polymorphism reversal, deceit and duplicity.

This is a cunning intelligence for which hunting and fishing may originally have provided the model but which extends far beyond this framework as the figure of Odysseus, the human embodiment of mêtis in Homer, clearly shows. There are many activities in which man must learn to manipulate hostile forces too powerful to be controlled directly but which can be exploited despite themselves, without ever being confronted head on, to implement the plan in mind by some unexpected, devious means: they include, for example, the stratagems used by the warrior the success of [48] whose attack hinges on surprise, trickery or ambush, the art of the pilot steering his ship against winds and tides, the verbal ploys of the sophist making the adversary’s powerful argument recoil against him, the skill of the banker and the merchant who, like conjurors, make a great deal of money out of nothing, the knowing forethought of the politician whose flair enables him to assess the uncertain course of events in advance, and the sleights of hand and trade secrets which give craftsmen their control over material which is always more or less intractable to their designs. It is over all such activities that mêtis presides.



[1] As early as 1957 one of us demonstrated the importance of mêtis for the analysis of technological thought: J.P. Vernant, 'Remarques sur les formes et les limites de la pens6e technique chez les Grecs', Revue d' Histoire des Sciences, 1957, P. 205-225) reprinted in Mythe et Pensee chez les Grecs, Paris, 11, 1974, P. 44-64.

[2] Carlo Diano is an exception. In a phenomenological study of Greek thought (Forma ed Evento. Principi per una interpretazione del mondo greco, Vicenza, 1967), he recognises in passing certain characteristics of mêtis while considering the opposition set up between Odysseus and Achilles (P. 56 ff.)

[3] U.von Wilamowitz, Die Heimkehr des Odysseus. Neue homerische Untersuchungen, Berlin, 1927, P. 190, mi.

[4] H. Jeanmaire, 'La naissance d' Athena et la royaute magique de Zeus', Revue archeologique, 1956, July-September, p. 12-39.

[5] We need do no more than indicate some of the most important terms that we find associated with mêtis: dolos and mêtis (Od., III, I 119-122); dolometis (II., 1, 540; Od., 1, 300; 111, 198); polumetis and dolie techne (Homeric Hymn to Hermes 76; Od., IV, 455); agkulometes, dolie techne phrazesthai, kruptein lochos, dolos (Hes., Theog., 160-175); pharmaka metioenta (Od., IV, 227); metin huphainein (II., VII, 324; Od., IV3 678); mêtis and kerde (H., X, 223-225; XXIII, 322; 5 15; Od., XIII, 299 and 303); polutmetis and kerdaleophron (H., IV, 339 and 349); agkulometes, and haimulai mechanai (Hes., Theog., 546-547; Aesch., Prom., 206).

[6] The first of the medontes or "regents", Nestor always gives the best advice (cf. II., XIV, 107: ameinona metin): 'forestalling all the others, he starts to weave the threads of his plot'. huphainein ... metin (II., VII, 324). In lines 118-129 of Book III of the Odyssey, the praise of Odysseus whose mêtis is without equal prompts Nestor to emphasise the cleverness they have in common which is the basis for their mutual sympathy

[7] A, XXIII, 306 ff.

[8] 11, XXIII, 307-308: hipposunas ... pantoias

[9] In lines 3 10- 11 there is a clearly marked opposition between 'slowest' (bairdistoi) and 'swifter' (apharteroi). In line 322 the adjective 'less good' (hessonas) qualifying hippous suggests the corresponding 'better' (kressonas) which is not actually made explicit.

[10] Antilochus himself is not without mêtis as is stressed in line 305: 'his father approaches him and, for his own good, gives him advice, however intelligent he may himself already be'. Three other passages bear witness to his intelligence (440: pepnusthai; 586; pepnumenos; 683: noon). Furthermore, the name of his driver is NToe-mJn(612).

[11] Like H. Jeanmaire, art. Cit., P. 22, whose translation forms the basis

for our own, we prefer not to translate the term mêtis itself.

[12] H. ' XXIII, 322, hessonas, literally 'less good'.

[13] This manoeuvre--or what we could call 'mechane--is a sort of 'swerving' (cf. the remarks of P. Chantraine and H. Goube, Homere, Made, Chant XXI I I, Paris, 1964, lines 4 19-24.

[14] Cf. the 'women's tricks' (gunaikoboulous ... metidas) of Clytemnestra (Aesch., Choeph., 626).

[15] Zeus is not only metieta, he is also the mestor hupatos (Il., VIII, 22;            XVII, 339). His mêtis is the measure of all other mêtis (cf. the expression: Di metin atalanton, Il., 11, 16q; 407; 636; X, 137).

[16] Aesch., Prom., 206-207; 213; 219; 440; Apollod., 1, VI, 1; 1, VI, 3; Nonnos, Dionys., 1, 481 ff. Note the role of Metis at the very outset of the career of Zeus: Apollod., 1, 11, 1; cf. also Hes., Theog., 471 and 496. Cf infra [p. 58-107].

[17] Il., XXIII, 319-325.

[18] [Hes.], Shield, 214-15.

[19] Il., VIII, 340

[20] Il., XIII, 545.

[21] To cite only one example, where the context amusingly stresses the idea of heavy or dense conveyed by the word pukinos, consider, at Odyssey IX, 445, the trick conceived by Odysseus to escape the vengeance of the Cyclops. Clinging to the wool under the belly of the biggest ram, Odysseus is carried past his victim: 'My ram was the last to come out and moved forward heavy with its wool and with my weighty thought, kai emoipukina phroneonti'.

[22] Il., XXIII, 415-416: technesomai ede noeso, . . oudi me lesei. The English translation is based on the French translation by P. Mazon.

[23] Pind., Isthm., 11, 22.

[24] Antimachus, fr. 32 Wyss, cited by Paus., VIII, 25, 9.

[25] 11., XXIII, 585: a trick which has 'fettered' (pedesai) the chariot of Menelaus.

[26] Il., XXIII, 590

[27] Il., 108-10 For a whole line of writers the mind of the young man who lacks mêtis is blown hither and thither depending on the circumstances, just as the chariot and the ship which are without a prudent driver or a knowing pilot wander here and there at the whim of the horses or of the winds. For man in general, as for the driver and the pilot in particular, mêtis implies, in contrast, a continuity of direction, a line of behaviour plotted out in advance and constantly followed. For this image of the young man swept along by change and characterised by 'lightness', we may refer to Theogonis, 629: 'Youth and inexperience make the mind of a man light' (epikouphizei); Plato, Laws, 929C: 'The characters of young men are naturally liable to change many times (pollas metabolas ... metaballein) in the course of their lives'; Thephrastus, ap. Stob., Anth., II, I I (IV, I, P. 340 Hense): 'It is difficult to predict the futures of young men; it is an unpredictable age (astochastos), constantly changing (pollas echousa metabolas and carried (pheromene) first in one direction and then in another (allote ep'allo).'

[28] 11.3 1, 343.

[29] Il., XVIII, 249: pepnumenos

[30] Il., XVIII, 250.

[31] Sappho, fr. 16 in Lo bel-Page, Poet. Lesb. Fr

[32] Il., X, 224-226: brasson te noos lepte de te mêtis (226).

[33] Thuc. I 128 1.

[34] Prometheus is poikilos, aiolometis (infra, n. 36, 37, 48), whilst Epimetheus is hamartinoos (Hes., Theog-, 511). In the Works, 85-86, Epimetheus is characterised by his inability to reflect, to phrazesthai which is one of the verbs associated with mêtis.

[35] Il., XXIII, 314.

[36] Il-, 111, 202,

[37] Od., VI, 234.

[38] Poikilometes is or poikilometis is the epithet for Odysseus (II., XI, 482;

 Od., 111, 163; XIII, 293), Zeus (Hymn. Apoll. 322), Hermes (Hymn. Hermes, 155). Poikiloboulos is a variant: this epithet describes Prometheus (Hes., Theog., 521), Odysseus (Anth. Plan., IV, 300, 5), Hermes (Orph. Hym. 28, 3 Quandt).

[39] Aphrodite is aiolometis (Aesch. Suppl., 1037) as are Prometheus Hes., Theog., 5 11) and Sisyphus (Hes., fr. 7, 4 R). Aioloboulos appears several times in Oppian, Cyneg., 1, 452; 111, 139; IV, 25, etc.

[40] Il.,VI, 289 and 294; Athanaeus, 48b.

[41] D., X, 75.

[42] Tr. gr. fr. 419 Adesp. N2.

[43] Pind., Pyth., IV, 249.

[44] The affinities between aiolos and poikilos are clearly indicated by the Homeric scholia and by the lexicographers; cf. H.J. Mette, s.v. aiolos in the Lexicon des fruhgriecgischen Epos, [1955], P. 329.

[45] Aesch., Prom., 495.

[46] Aristotle, Eth. Nic., 1, 10, 1100a 34.

[47] Eur., Helena, 711 -712.

[48] Plato, Rep., 568d.

[49] Plat, Theactetus, 146 d.

[50] Hes., Theog., 511 and Aesch., Prom., 3 10.

[51] Aesop, Fab., 37 and 119.

[52] Aristophanes Knights, 758-759.

[53] E. Benveniste, 'Expression indo-europeenne de l'eternite', Bull. Ste Linguistique 38, 1937, P. 107 ff. Other etymologies have been proposed. For E. Fraenkel, Gnomon 22, 19505 p. 239, aiolos is a form of the intensive,*(F)aiFolos, of *uel: walzen, drehen, wenden.aiolos which appears several times in the Mycenean tablets of Knossos has been the subject of several enquiries: M. Lejeune, 'Noms propres de boeufs A Cnossos', Rev. Et. Gr. 76, 1963, p. 6-7; P. Chantraine, 'Notes d'etymologie grecque', Rev. Phil. 37, 1963, P. 15; H. Muhlenstein, 'Le nom des deux Ajax', Studimicenei ed egeo-anatolici 11 Rome, 1967, p. 44-52.

[54] L. Parmentier, Rev. belge de Philologie et d'Histoire 1, 1922, P. 417 ff.

[55] Id. ibid., P. 420: on Xanthus which is a horse with white socks (Il., XIX, 404).

[56]. Cf. H.J. Mette, s.v. aiolos Lex. fr. Epos, [19551, P. 329.

[57] Il., V, 295.

[58] Il., XXII, 509.

[59] Od., XXII, 296-301. In this case the ailos oistros is Athena, the daughter of Metis.

[60] 11., XII, 167.

[61] Pind., Nem., VIII, 25.

[62] Eust., p. 1645, 3 ff. On the relation between Aeiolus and poikilia, see the allegorical interpretations of Iamblichus, TheoL arithm., P. 28, 11 de Falco.

[63] Apollod., 1, 3, 6; Hes., Theog., 886-900.

[64] A dolos which has duped (eperopeuein) Menelaus (Il., XXIII, 605), but which has also bound, fettered (pedesai) his chariot (585).

[65] Il., XXIII, 343.

[66] Il., XXIII, 343.

[67] II., XXIII, 320.

[68] Il., XXIII, 426.

[69] The term aphradeos which appears in line 426 is echoed by the two adjectives pareoros and aesiphron (603). The former denotes the outrunner and, metaphorically, the thoughtless man--no doubt through the allusion to the less definite, more wavering course of this horse (as is suggested by P. Chantraine and H. Goube in their notes to line 603). Pareoros refers to the image of the chariot which is plying a zigzag course (320: helissetai enrha kai entha). The epithet is particularly apposite given that in his advice to Antilochus Nestor did not fail to indicate in advance the guidemarks which were to enable him to stick to his course: Il., XXIII, 323 (terma) 326 (sema... ariphrades). Cf. 358 (semene de termat' Achilleus).

[70] Il., XXIII) 430.

[71] 11., 111, 205-224.

[72] Od., VIII, 494.

[73] Od., VIII, 276 ff.

[74] Od., XII, 252.

[75] Cf. R. Keydell, s.v. 'Oppianos', R.-E. (1939), c. 698-708 and the introduction devoted to Oppian in Oppian, Colluthus, Tryphiodorus, with an English translation, by A.W. Mair, the Loeb Classical Library, London, 1928, p. xiii ff. For the sake of convenience we shall not distinguish between Oppian and Pseudo-Oppian (cf. P. Hamblenne's paper, 'La Legende d'Oppian', L'Antiquite classique, 1968, P. 589-619). In this book we shall refer simply to a single 'Oppian' for both treatises, the Halieutica and the Cynegetica.

[76] Oppian, Hal., 11, 52-5.

[77] Id. ibid., 11, 128-30.

[78] Id. ibid., 11, 86-98. In lines 99-104 there then follows a double comparison: between the bird-catcher and the bird trap on the one hand, and the fox shamming death on the other. For a whole line of writers from Aristotle on, this animal is known as the fishing-frog or 'angler', halieus. Its fishing technique is described in Arist., H.A., IX, 3 7, 620 b 10 ff; Plut., Soll. anim., 978 d; Antigonus, Hist. mirabil., XLVII; Pliny, H.N., IX, 143; Aelian, H.A., IX, 24.

[79] This is the expression used by Plutarch, Soll. anim, 978 a-b, in connection with the cuttle-fish.

[80] Oppian, Hal., 11, 62, with note b by Mair (p. 286).

[81] Id. ibid., 11, 232-3, with note a by Mair (P. 304).

[82] In his Treatise on the Intelligence of Animals, Plutarch has Phaidimos, who takes up the defence of the intelligence of fish, tell us the reasons why it is necessary for sea creatures, however cunning, to remain on the alert: each species has both advantages and weaknesses which vary depending on the enemies which confront them and 'it is by giving fish this alternative of attacking or fleeing, depending on the circumstances, that nature makes them exert themselves and accustoms them to deploy all their skill and show all their intelligence' (978e).

[83] Od., IV, 388 ff.

[84] Hesiod, ft. 33 (a) and (b) Merkelbach-West

[85] Oppian, Hal., 111, 29-49

[86] Oppian, Cyneg., 1, 81-iog. The portrait of the hunter in Pollux, On., V. 18, vol. I, p. 266,1.7. Bethe emphasises a number of qualities, in particular the following ones: neos, kouphos, elaphros, dromikos, oxus ... agonistes. . dgrupnos (young, light, swift, fleet of foot, lively ... combative ... alert.)

[87] Cf. eg. Il., XV, 642.

[88] Plato, Laws, VIII, 832 e-833 a.

[89] Homeric Hymn to Hermes, 80-3. The invention of phaikades the white shoes worn by gyrrmasiarchs, is attributed to Hermes: Eratosthenes, fr. 9 Hiller.

[90] Nonnos, Dionys., XVI, 106 ff Keydell.

[91] Callimachus, Hymn to Artemis, 16 Pfeiffer.

[92] Oppian, Hal and Cyneg., passim

[93] Oppian, Cyneg., 1, 101-104; Hal., 111, 426-431. On this point we may also refer to Plato, Lysis, 206 a and to Aristotle, H.A., IV, 8, 533 b 15- 18.

[94] These are the very terms used by Aristotle, o.c. in a passage which is echoed on many occasions in the Halieutica (passim).

[95] Plutarch, Sollert. anim., 976 c-d.

[96] order to trick Menelaus, Antilochus in his cunning has to simulate madness (cf supra, p. 22).

[97] Cf. supra, p. 15.

[98] Oppian, Hal., 111, 45-46. Sophocles, Ajax, 879-880, describes fishermen spending the entire night lying in wait for their prey aupnous igras.

[99] Arist., H.A., IV, 10, 537 a 12 ff.

[100] Athanaeus, VII, 320 a.

[101] Oppian, Hal., 11, 658-9.

[102] Cf. Il., XIV, 247-8; Sophocles, Antigone, 606 ff; Aeschylus Prom.Vinctus,358.

[103] II., XXIV, 24; Od., 1, 37-40; Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, 262.

[104] Pollux, On., V,. 18 (vol. 1, p. 266,1.7 ff. Bethe).

[105] Pollux, On., V, 24 (vol. I, p. 267,1.20 ff. Bethe).

[106] Oppian, Hal., 111, 49.

[107] Id. ibid., 111, 41. The same epithet is applied, in the Odyssey (XV,419), to the Phoenicians.

[108] Cf. J. Taillardat, Les images d'Aristophane, Paris, 1965, p. 230. 1.

[109] Il., I, 3 11; XXI, 355; [Orpheus], Lithica, 54.

[110] Cf. supra, P. 38 ff.

[111] Il., 11, 173. Cf. supra, p. 18-ig.

[112] Oppian, Hal., 111, 41-3.

[113] Id ibid., 111, 92.

[114] Aristophanes, Knights, 758.

[115] Aeschylus, Prom. Vinctus, 51.

[116] Plut., Sollert. anim., 979 a.

[117] Plato, Laws, 823 d-824 a.

[118] Oppian, Hal., 111, 338-370.

[119] Cf. on this fish, the texts collected by A.W. Mair (o.c., p. LIII-LVII).

[120] Oppian, Hal., 111, 28, ff. There is another example of dolophrin mêtis in Hal. IV, 77 ff: fishing for the skaros in which the female is used as bait for the male.

[121] Oppian, Cyneg., 111, 41o and 415-416.

[122] Oppian, Hal., 11, 146-147.

[123] Id., Hal., 11, 182 and 225.

[124] Id., Hal., 11, 167-168. The technical literature which developed around the subject of the intelligence and reason of animals has been studied by John Richmond, 'Chapter on Greek Fish-Lore', Hermes. Suppl. 28, Wiesbaden, 1973.

[125] Id., Hal., 11, 107-118.

[126] Id., Cyneg., III, 449-460.

[127] Id., ibid., IV, 448-451.

[128] Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 1270. On the fox as a model of deceit, cf. 70 J. Taillardat, Les images d'Aristophane, Paris, 1965, pp. 227-8.

[129] Oppian, Cyneg., 111, 449.

[130] Alcaeus, 69, 7, P. 144 Lobel-Page.

[131] Aesop, Fab., 1 19.

[132] Aesop, Fab. 199.

[133] Plutarch, Animine an corporis affectiones, 500 c-d.

[134] Hesychius, s.v. Alopos; Arist., H.A., 1, 1, 488b 20; Pind., Pyth.,11,77.

[135] Callimachus, Hymn to Artemis, 79 Pfeiffer.

[136] Alcaeus, fr. 69, p. 144 Lobel-Page. Cf. D. Page, Sappho and Alcaeus. An Introduction to the Study of Ancient Lesbian Poetry, Oxford, 1955, P. 152 ff and Ed. Will, Korinthiaka, Paris, 1955, P. 381 ff.

[137] Diog. Laertius, 1, 74; Strabo, XIII, 600; Plut., De Herod. Mal. 15. As Ed. Will points out (o.c., P. 383), this ancedote has been seen as a transposition of the battle between the Retiarius and the Mirmullon. The way that the fox is represented in the Greek world suggests that the anecdote is, if not ancient, at least faithful to the cunning character of the fox, Pittacos.

[138] Archilochus, fr. 117 Bonnard and Lasserre: 'The fox knows many tricks, the hedgehog only one, but it is a famous one'. While this line, which has since become proverbial, stresses the polyvalence of the fox, it also, in contrast, stresses the limitations of all mêtis, however resourceful it may be. Compared with the mêtis of the fox, the hedgehog's knowledge may seem remarkably inadequate: at the approach of danger of whatever kind it rolls itself into a ball with all its prickles outwards. Yet all the cleverness of the cunning one is unavailing: the fox has found its match. On this pair, cf. C. M. Bowra, 'The Fox and the Hedgehog', Class. Quart. 34, 1940, P. 26-9.

[139] Aelian, H.A., VI, 24.

[140] Isthm., IV, 34 ff. Pindar (Pyth., I 1, 85) writes that the wolf is successful because it knows how to 'conceal its tracks by a thousand winding detours' (all' allote pateon hodois skoliais). The wolf is to the lion what the fox is to the eagle. However, it must be added, in passing, that the cunning of the wolf is not to be confused with the wileyness of the fox. Both are beasts of prey but the wolf attacks out in the open while the fox operates under cover of darkness, without showing himself. In this respect, the opposition between the wolf and the fox is similar to that between the falcon and the merlin (cf. Artemidorus, 11) 20) p- 137, 1-3 and IV, 56, P. 279 Pack).

[141] Pind., Ismth., IV, 45-47.

[142] The Scholia to Pind. Isthm., IV, 77 c (vol. III, P. 2343 12-17 Drach mann) are quite specific on this point: (by this reversal) 'the fox appears to be teaching the feint used in wrestling, palaisma, thanks to which the athlete lying on the ground is the winner through cunning (technei) even when his opponent is the stronger man (meizona)'.

[143] Plut., De Soll. anim., 977b.

[144] Aelian, N.A., IX, 12. Cf. Oppian, Hal., 111, 144 ff, Pliny, H.N., IX, 145 and Philo, De animalium proprietate, 1848-1853 (ed. F.S. Lehrs and Fr. Dubner in Pastas Bucolici et Didactici Coll. Didot, Paris, 1846.

[145] In a whole series of texts this reversal is used by the sea scolopendra. In Hist. Anim., 621 a 6 ff, Aristotle, describing the cunning of the sea snake, uses the same expressions that Plutarch and Aelian apply to the fox-shark: 'Having swallowed the hook, the scolopendra turns its body inside out so that it can eject the hook; then, by an opposite movement, it turns itself the right side out again.' This text from Aristotle can be matched by texts from Plutarch (De sera num. vind, 567 b-c) and from Pliny (H.N., IX, 145. The sea scolopendra are huge nereids resembling ringed earth worms (cf. E. de Saint-Denis, Le vocabulaire des animaux marins en latin classique, Paris, 1947, P. 102): Of all fish, their shape most naturally resembles a flexible bond.

[146] Oppian, Hal., 11, 295.

[147] Theogonis, 215: polupou ... poluplokou

[148] Eur., Medea, 481: speirais ... poluplokois. This snake guards the Golden Fleece: it never sleeps (aupnos).

[149] Trag. graec. fragmenta, Adesp. 34 N2: oikema kampais poluplokois.

[150] Plato, Phaedrus, 230a. All the features of Typhon have been collected by F. Vian, "le myth de Typhee et le probleme de ses origines orientales" in Elements orientaux dans la religion grecque ancienne, (Bibliotheque des Centres d'Etudes superieures specialises), Paris, 1960, p. 17-37 (especially P. 24-6).

[151] Oppian, Hal., 11, 233: technes; 236: apateisi; 239: doloio; 280 (in its fight against the moray): ta d'aiola kerdea technes plazontai; 305: dolometa.

[152] Oppian, Hal., 11, 408 ff. Like the thief, hemerokoitos (Hes. Works, 605), or the 'sleeper-by-day', the octopus 'lies in wait during the night' (Etym. Magn., s.v. hemerokoitos ... awake during the night); its vigilance is never relaxed. This is not a feature of animal behaviour but rather the description of a quality which is fundamental to mêtis

[153] Theogonis, 215-218; Pindar, fr. 43 Snell; Sophocles, fr. 286 N2.; 10, fr. 36 N2; Antigonus, Hist. mirab.' L (55).

[154].In the Quaest. Nat., p. g16 b, Plutarch poses the question of why the octopus changes colour: is it an effect of fear or anger, or is it simply mimicry?

[155] Cf. Aesch., Choephori, 726-728: this Hermes pronounces the word of 106. invisibility, askopon epos, which spreads the shadows of the Nightover the eyes (1. 815-16.).

[156] Oppian, Hal., 11, 120; 111, 156.

[157] tholos in Arist., H.A., 524 b 14; 621 b 27; Athen., 323d; Pliny, H.N. IX, 84; chole: in Nicander, Alexipharmaka, 472, Gow

[158] Arist., H.A., 524 a 15 ff.

[159] Id. ibid., 541 b 12 ff.

[160] Oppian, Hal., 111, 156-164.

[161] Plut., De soll. anim., 978 d.

[162] Oppian, Hal., IV, 147-162.

[163] Theogonis, 215-218.

[164] Od., 1, 1.

[165] Eust., p. 1318, 36ff. Cf. W. B. Stanford, The Ulysses Theme, Oxford, 1954.

[166] Arist., Thesmoph., 462-463.

[167] Euripides, Phoenician Women, 494.

[168] Cf. Eupolis, fr. 101 Kock, and Antisthenes, fr. 26 (vol. II, P. 277-278 Mullach).

[169] On the concept of ephemeros, the essential studies are those undertaken by H. Fraenkel: Wege und Formen Fruhgriechischen Denkens2, Munich, 1960, P. 23, 39, and Dichtung und Philosophie2, Munich 1962, P. 149.

[170] Pindar, Isthm. VIII, 14.

[171] Plutarch, Sol. anim., p. 978 e-f. When Plutarch is drawing the psychological portrait of Alcibiades (Vita Alcib. 23), he emphasizes his great aptitude for adapting to situations and to men and for falling in with the customs and modes of life of the most diverse types. Plutarch adds this further detail: 'Alcibiades possessed a skill for capturing men (mechane theras anthropon)'. But in contrast to the distinction made in the treatise Soll. anim., p. 978 e-f. here it is the chamaeleon, not the octopus, which is taken as the animal model for the behaviour of Alcibiades.

[172] Synonyms in the rope-making trade: H. Blumner, Technologie und Terminologie der Gewerbe und Kunste bei Griechen und Romern2, 2, 1, 1912 (reprinted Olms, 1969), p. 295.

[173] Oppian, Hal., 111, 347. Cf. J. Dumortier, Les images dans la poesie d'Eschyle, Paris, 1935, P. 71 ff.

[174] Oppian, Cyneg., 1, 150. Cf. Od., IX, 427 and X, 166; Grattius, Cynegeticon, 1, 38 ff (ed. R. Verdiere).

[175] Homeric Hymn to Hermes, 75 ff with the commentary by L. Radermacher, Der homerische Hermeshymnus, Sitz. Akad. Wiss. Wien, Philos.-hist. KI., Vol. 213, B.I, Vienna and Leipzig, 1931, P. 115-116.

[176] Aristophanes, Plutus, 1154.

[177] Schol. in Aristoph. Plutus, 1153.

[178] Cf. Aristophanes, Clouds, 450. In Eustathius, p. 1353, 9, Hermes the strophaios is explicitly connected with a strophis

[179] Nonnos, Dionys., XXX, 108 ff Keydell.

[180] School. in Arist. Plut., 1153: ... strophaion ... ton eidota sumplekein kai strephein logous kai mechanos.

[181] Plato, Rep., 405 c. Cf. Soph., Hunters, 362.

[182] Lucian, Demosth. Enc., 24 (vol. III, P. 373 Jacobitz).

[183] Plato, Phaedrus, 261 d.

[184] Dio. Halic., Rhet., VIII, 15; Plato, Theactetus, 194 b.

[185] Oppian, Hal., III, 80; Aristophanes, Wasps, 20; Athenaeus, X, 448 f ff.

[186] Aristophanes, Birds, 194.

[187] Diog. Laertius, 1, 74; Strabo, XIII, 600; Plut., De Herod. Mal., 15.

[188] Aeschylus, Agammemnon., 1380 ff. For vase paintings of this deadly net, see E. Vermeule, 'The Boston Oresteia Krater', Amer. Journ. Arch. 70, 1966, p. I ff, together with the remarks of H. Metzger, Bull. archeol., Rev. Et. Gr., 1968, no. 222.

[189] Od., VIII, 278-280.

[190] Od., XXII, 386: diktuon poluopon.

[191] Aeschylus, Prom., 81.

[192] Cf. Id., Ag., 1382.

[193] Aristophanes, Wasps, 699. In military terminology, kuklein or kukloun means 'to encircle, surround' as is shown by J. Taillardat, Les Images d'Aristophane, Paris, 1965, P. 224.

[194] Od., XII, 252.

[195] Hesiod, Works, 83.

[196] Aeschylus, Agam., 1375-1376. Cf R. Bohme, 'Arkustata. Ein Tragodienwort', Die Sprache 7, 1961, p. 199-212.

[197] Od., XXII, 386 ff.

[198] Il., V, 487-488: linon panagron. It is indeed in an encircling net (steganon diktuon) that Troy will be caught (Aesch., Ag., 357-361).

[199] Pind., Isthm., IV, 46-47.

[200] Io of Chios, fr. 81 von Blumenthal.

[201] Cf. the remarks of P. Vidal-Naquet, 'Chasse et sacrifice dansl'Orestie d'Eschyle', in J-P. Vernant and P. Vidal-Naquet, Mythe et Tragedie en Grece ancienne, p. 135 ff.

[202] Sophocles, Antigone, 341-350; Euripides, fr. 27 N2.

[203] Plato, Symposium, 203 b-e.

[204] Metin huphainein: Il., VII, 324; IX, 93-95; 422; XIII, 303; 386; Od., IV, 678; 739; [Hes]., Shield, 28, Dolon huphainein: Il., VI, 187; Od., IX, 422; dolon (or technen) plekein: Aesch., Choeph., 220; Eur., Io, 826; 1280; Theogonis, 226 (doloplokia); metin tektainesthai: Il., X, 19. Cf. also the examples collected by J. Taillardat,

o.c., P. 232-236, who supplements these images taken from the techniques of plaiting, weaving and building with those taken from cooking, in Aristophanes. The verb kurkanan, to prepare a mixture, is used by him in the sense of 'brewing up a scheme'.

[205] In Plato (Laws, 111, 679 a and Politics, 283 b), the art of plaiting plektike, includes both the techniques of weaving (huphantike) and those of the carpenter (tektonike). Cf. P. M. Schuhl, "Remarques sur Platon et la technologie", Rev. Et. Gr. 66, 1953, P. 465-472 and R. Weil, L"Archeologie" de Platon, Paris, 1959, p. 65-66.

[206] [Aristotle], Mechanica, 847 a 22 ff.

[207] Aristotle, Hist. Anim., 620b 25 ff.

[../_borders/footer1.htm]