Muellner, Leonard. 2022. “On Plato Not Misquoting Homer and What’s ‘New’ at Republic 424b–c.” In “Poetic (Mis)quotations in Plato,” ed. Gwenda-lin Grewal. Special issue, Classics@ 22. http://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HLNC.ESSAY:102302561.
§2. Balanchine’s (via Kirstein) ideas about teaching, ballet, invention, and morality are relevant to my presentation, though my actual object of study is a heavily freighted passage in the Homeric Odyssey that comes up in Socrates’ discussion of the education of the Guardians in mousikē, the art of the Muses, which is to be understood as a single whole consisting of poetry, song, and dance.  The passage cited in Republic IV, 424b is Odyssey 1.351–352:
ἥτις ἀειδόντεσσι νεωτάτη ἀμφιπέληται
“…human beings attend to/engage with a song all the more,
whatever song comes round (again) to the singers as newest…”
Such at least is the text of the passage as it occurs in the manuscripts of the Republic (Burnet’s edition, 1903), which is not the same as its Homeric transmission, and at multiple points, a fact that raises multiple questions: is Plato ‘misquoting’ or not? Is the use made of the Homeric text (taking account of its several versions) a reading valid only to Socrates’ context, or is it valid for the Homeric context as well? Telemakhos is reproaching his mother for objecting to the song that the bard, Phemius, is singing about the grievous return of the Achaean heroes from Troy. The problem that it raises for Socrates is that some misread the word neōtatē, which I have translated ‘newest’, as referring to a new kind of singing, and therefore wrongly suppose that the poet is advocating for radical invention in song composition. For the study of Homer, it raises an additional question: what can an expression like ‘newest to the singers’ mean in the context of traditional performance art as modeled by Phemius, a tradition that is implicit even in Telemakhos’ use of the verb amphipelētai ‘comes round (again, as in a yearly cycle)’? I am not a philosopher, but I propose to discuss this Homeric citation in its Platonic context, to be sure, as well as within its proper narrative as well as its cultural and moral context, in a historical framework that can hopefully make clearer than before both what was at stake for Plato and also what emerges from it for research that approaches Homeric poetry as the product of an oral tradition.
§5. Lest there be any confusion, it is not the singers’ error or still less their illiteracy that accounts for fluctuation in the retelling of the song. Illiteracy in itself is not even a necessary condition for a performance tradition like the one that produced the Homeric epics; the necessary condition is composition in performance, which can and does survive the advent of literacy in societies worldwide.  As a result, we are obliged to suppose that from within the South Slavic poetic tradition, the two songs Nikola asked about are the same, whatever changes from one retelling to the next may become apparent to us in the comparison of written transcriptions. Here is the way Gregory Nagy has described this situation for Homer:
§7. I would highlight two small points in this picture: one is that the multiformity of the tradition is what we observe, as outsiders possessed of a notion of textual identity or sameness that is based on the written word. Yet from inside their tradition, from the standpoint of the poets, the goal and the result are to preserve and maintain, not modify and adapt. This also explains why such a poetic tradition must be inherently multiform: since such traditions are intended to endure over time and in re-performance, they need to do so as the participants and their cultural and the historical circumstances change, as they inevitably must, however stable they may appear to be. And since a performance-in-composition system is a generative system, not a rigidly memorizing system designed to preserve a single fixed text, even the same performer in the same context does not perform the song twice in a way that is “identical” from our standpoint as readers of fixed texts, to say nothing of what happens when performers supposedly sing “the same song” generations apart. A generative system, as opposed to a fixed-text-based technique for memorization, makes it possible for the poetry to adapt in content and form as the context changes over time and place even within a given individual’s performances, so that any given singer can preserve and hand on the vitality of the tradition as he or she interacts directly with an audience that is also invested in the vitality of the tradition and its effectiveness. The most commonly observed changes in performance traditions seem to fall into the vague category of ‘ornamentation’: expanding or contracting elements of the song, depending on the way that the performer perceives that the audience is responding, but there are also changes in wording, since a given singer’s repertoire is never frozen, and the systems must have a way to change and grow as the language and the performance context change:
Without such mechanisms of both fixity and change, a performance tradition could never generate a corpus of songs of any size, to say nothing of poems as long as the Homeric epics.
The Context of a Homeric Citation: Eleven points on Poetry and the New in the Paideia of the Guardians
§8. With this as background, let us now turn to Republic Book II, the first of the two discussions in the Republic of the education of the Guardians. The topic at this moment is the character education of all of them (as opposed to the ‘higher’ education of the elite rulers among the Guardians that comes later, in Book VII). This discussion, which from the outset threatens to become lengthy, begins towards the end of Book II, at 376d, with a conventional definition of education (paideia) proposed by Socrates at 376d, by metaphorizing himself and Glaukon as practitioners of narrative, in other words, as poets themselves  :
Later on, near the conclusion of this discussion, at Book IV 412b, Socrates reformulates or rather refines this simplistic μέν…δέ structure and says that the ideal Guardian will apply a balanced blend of both mousikē and gumnastikē to his soul in such a way as to achieve a combination of physical prowess and gentleness in character, and that in fact mousikē is the regnant principle, while gumnastikē must subserve it, with the whole process mediated by the soul — but for the moment, at least, this is the binary way that Socrates sets the agenda and structures the dialogue that continues for about 50 Stephanus pages, stretching from Book II, through Book III, and into the beginning of Book IV.
§16. (6) At 403d Socrates changes the topic of discussion to gumnastikē, and it remains the topic until 412b, when the whole discussion of the Guardians’ paideia concludes and the topic shifts to the selection of the best of the Guardians. The physical education of the Guardians engages Socrates less than their education in mousikē, because principles that applied to mousikē also apply to gumnastikē, with the soul firmly in control of the training of the body and the overall goal being what is simple (404b, 410a, ὴ απλῆ μουσική) and appropriate and prudent or sober (ἐπιεικής, σώφρων): avoiding the consumption of exotic food and pastry, for instance, is said to be comparable to the avoidance of complex and exotic scales and rhythms. But the discussion quickly turns to the relationship between the two kinds of education and then suddenly veers off into two lesser tekhnai, the art of healing (iatrikē) and the art of the juryman (dikastikē): a well-trained body is by definition healthy and avoids an external healer just as a soul subjected to the best of mousikē avoids the bad behavior (akolasia) that would require justice administered by prosecution and lawcourts. So Socrates inveighs against healers who encourage hypochondriacs and whose regimens should be simple but have become so complex as to be useless in practical terms, just as he inveighs against the lawcourts that encourage the development of deceivers and tricksters who try to avoid prosecution and manipulate judgment. This point, it turns out, is ultimately and directly related to the way that Socrates differentiates the soul’s functions with regard to the two major arts and their interaction: the soul has two phuseis or ‘natures’, to thumoeides ‘the spirited one’ and to philosophon ‘the one that loves wisdom’, the former stimulating physical well-being and the latter intellectual (410e). Accordingly, says Socrates, it is not that mousikē treats the soul and gumnastikē the body (410b–c), but that both pertain to the proper functioning of the soul: the Guardians should combine the soul’s two ‘natures’ to become strong and healthy as well as wise and good; by contrast, if one part, say, the spirited part, takes over, gumnastikē is taken to excess and produces individuals who are brutally strong and violent, while those in which the love of knowledge of wisdom prevails become soft and excessively gentle (410b–d). Here is the conclusion:
The preceding text is beautifully pertinent, since it is a lucid implementation of the kind of integrated moral thinking that Socrates engages in. And at that point, the object of thought is actually a physical activity, the education of the Guardian’s body. The assumption is that a misapprehension about the proper training of the Guardian’s body can destroy the health of that body and make it susceptible to a corrupted art of medicine that will fail to maintain it and whose very existence is a symptom of social failure, just as a failure of education in mousikē will make the Guardian subject to corrupt social institutions, in that case, the externalized judicial system within which he would be obliged to function. Accordingly, and looping back on this principle, the state of equilibrium of the psukhē, the soul, in the summative metaphor cited just above, is appropriately likened to the string of a musical instrument achieving proper tension.  That tension between the two parts of the soul turns out to be the way in which the two parts of the Guardians’ education relate to each other to constitute an integral whole, with the soul and mousikē dominant.
§17. (7) That metaphor brings a kind of closure (412b), since after articulating the relationship between its two elements Socrates pronounces the discussion of the paideia of the Guardians to be complete and then modulates into a miscellany of consequences, first listing a series of topics that he will not take up,  in a way that is consistent with his previous practice and that he will repeat later on (423e, with regard to women and children). Instead of those topics, Socrates begins with this one (412c): ἆρ᾽ οὐκ αὐτῶν τούτων οἵτινες ἄρξουσί τε καὶ ἄρξονται; ‘isn’t [the next question] who of these very ones will rule and [who] will be ruled?’ The answer to the first question is: the Guardian who in all stages of life (ἔν τε παισὶ καὶ νεανίσκοις καὶ ἐν ἀνδράσι ‘in childhood and youth and manhood’, 413e) proves (by actual testing) his commitment to protecting the polis from its enemies without and within, and who will never either willingly or by force give up those goals and endanger or still less attack those whom he has been charged to protect. Those who fall short but are still qualified to be Guardians will be called epikouroi kai boēthoi, ‘allies and helpers’ — so presumably this is the answer to the second question, concerning those who will be ruled — while the person who meets the highest standard will be the ruler and Guardian of the city-state (414a). That figure will be treated like a cult hero:
§20. (10) In any case, the norms that the false myth supports and that Socrates elaborates do elicit comment from Adeimantos, who breaks into Socrates’ conversation with his brother in order to express skepticism about the viability of a community in which the Guardians have no reason to be eudaimones ‘happy’, since they get no wages or any other benefit, material or otherwise, for themselves in return for their potentially boring service as protectors despite the fact that they are actually the embodiment of the state (419a). Socrates defends himself by means of a redefinition of eudaimonia ‘happiness’ as necessarily shared by the Guardians with all others in the city as a whole and adapted to the nature of each constituent, a point that is consistent with previously repeated holistic principles (as in points #5 and #6 above):
§21. (11) Socrates then extends this argument to the other citizens of the ideal city-state, the farmers and the artisans (421d–e). Consider a potter who becomes rich — he also becomes lazy and careless, and therefore worse at this art. Or the poor potter, who cannot purchase the tools of his trade, so that he and the sons to whom he teaches the art of pottery will also produce inferior goods (421e):
I have left the word neōterismos untranslated, because the semantics of Greek neos ‘new’ are not simple to understand. Jowett translated it once in the sentence that contains it twice in Greek, as follows: “the one [=wealth] is the parent of luxury and indolence, and the other [=poverty] of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.” While “discontent” works well for the poor person, why would the wealthy, lazy person be discontented? And is it even a valid translation of the word neōterismos? Shorey translated it “innovation,” presumably in a bad, political sense that the concept utterly lacks nowadays, a sense that is updated to “revolution” in the more recent translation by Griffith.  That is the sense imputed to the word here and in other Platonic attestations by LSJ9, which defines it “attempt to change; esp. in bad sense, innovation, revolutionary movement”. In this context, where the topic under discussion appears to be the consequences of wealth and poverty for artisans, adding revolutionary political impulses to those consequences is in no way prepared for in the previous dialogue and seems inappropriate. Even if it is paving the way for a discussion of the overthrow of oligarchy in favor of democracy in Book VIII, the political connotations seem as yet to be below the surface at best.  Socrates is summing up the discussion, not expanding on it, and just above, he had stressed not the political but the negative moral and aesthetic consequences of wealth and poverty for both the artisans and their products, both of which become kheirōn– ‘worse’. It would also make sense for the word neōterismos, which from the standpoint of syntax applies to both wealth and poverty, to be referencing the two occurrences of ‘worse’, kheirō and kheirous, in that sentence. LSJ9 in fact supplies another sense for the word neōterismos, namely, ‘change (in general),’ occurring three times in Galen, where it refers to a change for the worse in one’s diet or in the evolution of a fever;  in addition, the verb from which this noun is derived, neōterizō, occurs in the meaning ‘to change (for the worse)’ in Thucydides 7.87, of health changing to sickness. Accordingly, I suggest that the noun means ‘general change for the worse, worsening’ in the sentence quoted above: “since the former introduces indulgence and idleness and (general) worsening, while the latter [introduces] meanness and malice in addition to worsening,” with the word ‘worsening’ reprising the previously mentioned change in the character of artisans and of their products when subject to the two extremes of wealth and poverty. The use and the slant of the word in this way coheres with Socrates’ frequent expression of distrust for change in the discussion of the Guardians’ education that we have noted previously.  One final point: if inequality in the distribution of wealth produced revolution tout court, every Hellenic city-state would be in revolution, and Socrates would have said as much in describing the enemy of the ideal one (422e–423ab). Instead he described it as not one but in reality many cities whose multiple and discordant elements the ideal city could exploit. Such a political and social reality is perhaps ripe for revolution, but that is not the same, and not what he says — at least, not yet.
Socrates Cites Odyssey 1.351–352
ἥτις ἀειδόντεσσι νεωτάτη ἀμφιπέληται,
whatever song comes round to the singers as the newest (neōtatē) …”
The point of Socrates’ last statement and of his citation of Damon of Oa in this passage is weakened unless the political aspect of changes in mousikē from the order (taxis) that he has established is postponed and at most inexplicit until then. The idea is that the additional step of the connectedness of the Guardians’ paideia to the most important conventions of the political realm is already implicit in the holistic principles that Socrates has repeatedly enunciated in his exposition (see above, #6, #8, #10), principles that the words en holōi ‘as a whole’ invoke in this passage right before Damon is mentioned. Some have supposed Socrates’ mention of Damon to be ironic,  but I believe that his argument stands to confirm Damon’s general principle if not his (Damon’s) authority as a technical expert, which was questioned earlier in the discussion of rhuthmoi, 400b and #1. Socrates is arguing here, understatedly but firmly, just how destabilizing to the city as a whole it is to disturb the taxis ‘order’ of mousikē.
§25. In short, what Socrates wants to rule out as an interpretation/citation of the passage from the Odyssey is clear and consistent not just with the tenor but also the repeated principles of what has come before its citation. It is also clear, for example, from the following passage in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, that people in Plato’s day did try to compose ‘new songs’, where nea ‘new’ is explicitly defined to mean those that are kaina ‘novel/strange,’ in other words,  disrupting the established order, as here, where the novelty is, however, taken in a positive sense:
This text attests to exactly the danger that Socrates is warning about – and I mean not the danger of misreading the meaning of neōtatē in the Odyssey passage (that may or may not be the issue), but of the social approval (implied by Socrates’ use of the verb epainein, see n. 28; compare Xenophon’s repeated use of the verb eudokimei ‘be popular’, in the same sense) of radical, radiating, and destabilizing change in the art of mousikē and its putative political consequences. There is no uncertainty either about what Socrates and Xenophon both have in mind, despite their contrasting takes on it: the New Music championed by Euripides and epitomized for us by the nomoi of Timotheus. 
What neōtatē meant in its Homeric reception
But first, Labarbe and the ‘variants’
1. Medieval MSS. of Homeric Odyssey 1.351–352
ἥ τις ἀκουόντεσσι νεωτάτη ἀμφιπέληται.“People give more kleos (‘glory/praise’) to that song,
Whichever one comes round to the listeners as newest.”
2. Medieval MSS. of Plato’s Republic 424b
ἥ τις ἀειδόντεσσι νεωτάτη ἀμφιπέληται.“People heed/engage with all the more that song,
Whatever song comes round to the singers as newest.”
3. Medieval MSS. of Pseudo-Longinus, Fr. 1.1 (Prolegomena to the Handbook of Hephaistion)
ἥ τις ἀϊόντεσσι νεωτάτη ἀμφιπέληται.“People give more kleos (‘glory/praise’) to that song,
Whichever one comes round to its perceivers as newest.”
§29. With regard to ἀϊόντεσσι, Wilhelm Schulze showed in 1888 that the verb from which it derives, whose unattested present he reconstructs as *ἀείω and whose aorist forms, of the type ἀίον κ.τ.λ., have been consistently misunderstood within Homeric diction as imperfects, is elsewhere in free variation in Epic diction with forms of ἔκλυον ‘heard’, a root aorist, and the aorist of ἀκούω.  In this one place, however, its variants are present participles (ἀκουόντεσσι and ἀειδόντεσσι), so Schulze convincingly posits the underlying form as ἀείοντεσσι, a present participle that was ‘updated’ to ἀϊόντεσσι to be consistent with the attestation elsewhere in Epic of its aorist, despite the otherwise unparalleled long iota that results. As for the variation between ἀειδόντεσσι ‘to those who sing’ and ἀκουόντεσσι ‘to those who hear’, in the very same passage a bit earlier we have:
To which compare:
§30. We also have a narrative enactment of the functional equivalence of both listener and singer in Iliad 9.186–191, where the embassy comes upon Achilles singing the klea andrōn ‘glories of men’ and playing the beautiful lyre with a silver bridge that he looted from the city of Eetion. Patroklos is sitting opposite him, listening and waiting for Achilles to stop and for his turn to sing.  Furthermore, in the prooimion to the Catalogue of the Ships, it is even explicit that the singers are in fact listeners — to what the Muses, who know everything, tell them:
ἡμεῖς δὲ κλέος οἶον ἀκούομεν οὐδέ τι ἴδμεν“…you [Muses] are goddesses and are present and know everything,
we only hear the kleos ‘glory/epic song’ nor do we know anything…”
Just to show how overdetermined things can become, the word kleos, the object of the verb ἀκούομεν ‘we hear’, designates the song that the poet transmits (as here and in the passage about Achilles’ singing) as well as the glory that it confers, but formally speaking, it is simply the root noun of the verb κλυ- that means ‘hear’ and is cognate with the English word ‘listen’ (originally klisten). So in every conceivable way, the singers are also hearers. In sum, there is no way to discriminate between any of the three present participles ἀκουόντεσσι | ἀειδόντεσσι | ἀϊόντεσσι on the basis of their traditional function within Epic diction. Even when it comes to their morphology, the metrically appropriate ‘aeolic’ dative plural ending –εσσι, it is equally unique but acceptable for each of them. 
§32. To sum up, the reading epikleious’ (‘giving glory/praise to’) accords with the formulaic system and the ideas about poetic composition and transmission that actually occur earlier in the context of Odyssey 1.351 and also are “baked into” the conventions of Homeric and Hesiodic epic. But what about epiphroneous’? As Labarbe makes clear in his discussion (see above, n.24), there is a parallel for this word in form and hexameter line-localization at Odyssey 19.385, in a short speech that Odysseus makes to his nurse Eurukleia just before she bathes his feet. She has remarked on his resemblance in build, voice, and feet to Odysseus in 19.380–381, and here is his reply:
ἡμέας ἀμφοτέρους, μάλα εἰκέλω ἀλλήλοιϊν
ἔμμεναι, ὡς σύ περ αὐτὴ ἐπιφρονέουσʼ ἀγορεύεις.
ὣς ἄρʼ ἔφη, γρηῢς δὲ λέβηθʼ ἕλε παμφανόωντα“Old women, so they say, as many as have seen with their eyes
the two of us, that we really resemble one another,
we really do, as you yourself, prudent as you are, are saying.”
So he said, and the old woman took the brightly gleaming pot…
§35. All this contextual information isolates the only other instance of the verb epiphronein, its use in Plato’s citation of the response of all human beings to the neōtatē song, even further. That response ought to have nothing to do with cunning — the word mētis ‘cunning’ and the terms associated with it are almost always the property of an individual, rarely of a group, and certainly not of all human beings.  But Plato’s variant can still be saved, and this by a single entry in the dictionary of Hesychius adduced by Labarbe (above, n. 24):
As the letter D after the definition indicates, this entry derives from the Diogeneianos lexicon of poetic words of which Hesychius’s lexicon was a new edition, and Diogeneianos’ lexicon itself was an abridgement of an earlier one by Pamphilus of Alexandria (50 BCE). As is conventional in Hesychius and also in our oldest medieval manuscripts like the Venetus A manuscript of the Iliad, the glossed (rare) word (also known as the lemma) is cited in the exact form in which it occurred in its original context, in this case with a nu-movable at the end of it. That particular form is incompatible with the metrical context of the word in Odyssey 1.351, so the lexicon’s entry cannot be based upon the citation of Homer in Plato that we are studying. It is an independent witness to the word’s occurrence in a poetic context, and its definition, ‘listen to, heed’ is perfectly harmonious with the context of Plato’s variant for Odyssey 1.351, namely, listening to poetry, as opposed to all the other attestations of its cognates in attested Epic, where it refers to the mental acuity of cunning individuals and their plans or plots. I conclude that although rare, the word that Plato used in his citation of the Homeric line in the Republic was attested in a text or more likely, texts, that have simply not survived; we could have made such an argument even without it, because our sample of Epic diction is by no means complete, but certainly the evidence from Hesychius makes the case stronger.
Back to neōtatē and what’s ‘new’ within the Homeric Odyssey
§39. In fact the context of Telemakhos’ remark is the first instance of a recurring theme in the Odyssey that is based on a Homeric convention, the contrast between akhos ‘grief’ or penthos ‘suffering, song of lament’ and kleos ‘glory, epic song that glorifies heroes’, and the notion that what is a matter of akhos or penthos for a person who is directly involved in epic stories (the so-called klea andrōn ‘glorious songs of the heroes’) can be a matter of kleos for another who is distanced from it:
Nagy documented this contrast with countless examples, showing, for instance, that it is built into the names of the hero of the Iliad and of his beloved companion and alter ego — Akhilleus ‘who has akhos from/for the laos’ and Patroklos ‘kleos of/about the ancestors’ — as well as into the plot structure of the poem itself, where the akhos/penthos of Achilles over the death of Patroklos leads Achilles to enter the realm of kleos. 
§40. Nagy also points to a series of three passages in which this thematic notion is manifested over the course of the Odyssey, the first being Penelope’s response to the grievous (lugrēs) song of Phemios about the nostoi ‘homecomings’ of the heroes from Troy:
στῆ ῥα παρὰ σταθμὸν τέγεος πύκα ποιητοῖο,
ἄντα παρειάων σχομένη λιπαρὰ κρήδεμνα ·
ἀμφίπολος δʼ ἄρα οἱ κεδνὴ ἑκάτερθε παρέστη.
δακρύσασα δʼ ἔπειτα προσηύδα θεῖον ἀοιδόν·
“Φήμιε, πολλὰ γὰρ ἄλλα βροτῶν θελκτήρια οἶδας,
ἔργʼ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε, τά τε κλείουσιν ἀοιδοί ·
τῶν ἕν γέ σφιν ἄειδε παρήμενος, οἱ δὲ σιωπῇ
οἶνον πινόντων· ταύτης δʼ ἀποπαύεʼ ἀοιδῆς
λυγρῆς, ἥ τέ μοι αἰεὶ ἐνὶ στήθεσσι φίλον κῆρ
τείρει, ἐπεί με μάλιστα καθίκετο πένθος ἄλαστον.
τοίην γὰρ κεφαλὴν ποθέω μεμνημένη αἰεί,
ἀνδρός, τοῦ κλέος εὐρὺ καθʼ Ἑλλάδα καὶ μέσον Ἄργος.”
she stood there beside a pillar of the well-joined roof,
holding glistening veils before her cheeks;
a proper handmaid stood on each side of her.
Then, shedding tears, she addressed the divine singer:
“Phemios, you know many other bewitching tales that mortals tell,
deeds of men and gods both, that singers give kleos to:
sing one to them as you sit, and let them in silence
drink their wine, but cease from this song,
this grievous song, which always wears away the dear heart
in my chest, since unforgettable grief (penthos alaston) has come to me especially.
Always remembering him I yearn for such a head as his,
the head of a man whose kleos is wide in Hellas and the middle of Argos.”
The kleos of Odysseus may be spread far and wide by singers, but for Penelope, there is instead penthos alaston, the kind of suffering that has no closure, not a song of the glory of a hero but a lament for his death; such grief is a constant aspect of her identity within the epic, and it is the central feature of this, her first appearance in the poem.  The contrast between kleos and penthos, explicit or implicit, plus the weeping, the veils before the face, and the identity of an individual closely related to the sufferer, compose a theme whose elements will recur, the next time when Telemakhos and Peisistratos visit Menelaos and Helen. After looking at that passage and the third and final example of this theme, we will be better able to contextualize Telemakhos’ response to his mother.
§41. Here is the end of Menelaos’ speech to the two sons of heroes, both as yet formally unidentified, whom he overheard whispering about the divine beauty of his palace, followed by Telemakhos’ response:
πολλάκις ἐν μεγάροισι καθήμενος ἡμετέροισιν
ἄλλοτε μέν τε γόῳ φρένα τέρπομαι, ἄλλοτε δʼ αὖτε
παύομαι · αἰψηρὸς δὲ κόρος κρυεροῖο γόοιο.
τῶν πάντων οὐ τόσσον ὀδύρομαι, ἀχνύμενός περ,
ὡς ἑνός, ὅς τέ μοι ὕπνον ἀπεχθαίρει καὶ ἐδωδὴν
μνωομένῳ, ἐπεὶ οὔ τις Ἀχαιῶν τόσσʼ ἐμόγησεν,
ὅσσʼ Ὀδυσεὺς ἐμόγησε καὶ ἤρατο. τῷ δʼ ἄρʼ ἔμελλεν
αὐτῷ κήδεʼ ἔσεσθαι, ἐμοὶ δʼ ἄχος αἰὲν ἄλαστον
κείνου, ὅπως δὴ δηρὸν ἀποίχεται, οὐδέ τι ἴδμεν,
ζώει ὅ γʼ ἦ τέθνηκεν. ὀδύρονταί νύ που αὐτὸν
Λαέρτης θʼ ὁ γέρων καὶ ἐχέφρων Πηνελόπεια
Τηλέμαχός θʼ, ὃν ἔλειπε νέον γεγαῶτʼ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ.”
ὣς φάτο, τῷ δʼ ἄρα πατρὸς ὑφʼ ἵμερον ὦρσε γόοιο.
δάκρυ δʼ ἀπὸ βλεφάρων χαμάδις βάλε πατρὸς ἀκούσας,
χλαῖναν πορφυρέην ἄντʼ ὀφθαλμοῖιν ἀνασχὼν
ἀμφοτέρῃσιν χερσί. νόησε δέ μιν Μενέλαος,
μερμήριξε δʼ ἔπειτα κατὰ φρένα καὶ κατὰ θυμόν,
ἠέ μιν αὐτὸν πατρὸς ἐάσειε μνησθῆναι
ἦ πρῶτʼ ἐξερέοιτο ἕκαστά τε πειρήσαιτο.
often, as I sit in our halls
sometimes I delight my heart with lament, and then again at other times
I stop: having too much of mind-numbing lament happens quickly.
Aggrieved as I am (akhnumenos), I do not weep so much for all of them
as I do for one of them, who makes both sleep and food my enemy
when I am mindful of him, since not one of the Achaeans toiled as hard as he,
as much as Odysseus toiled and endured. For all that, his destiny was about to be
woe upon woe (kēdea), and mine was to have unforgettable grief (akhos alaston)
for him, that he is gone for so long, and we do not know
if he is alive or has died. Surely they weep for him,
old man Laertes, and clever Penelope,
and Telemakhos, whom he left new-born in his household.”
So he spoke and roused in him [=Telemakhos] the desire to mourn his father.
Hearing of his father, he shed a tear to the ground from his eyelids,
holding his purple cloak up before his eyes
with both hands. And Menelaos noticed him,
and he pondered in his mind and his spirit
whether he should allow him to bring to mind his father on his own
or if he should first question him and probe him for details.
The tables are turned here from the scene in 1.332–364: no singer is present,  but Menelaos plays the role of one (note the key word kēdea, a frequent topic of epic song) in recalling Odysseus’ toils at Troy and suffering on the way home. In addition, he models a response for Telemakhos in speaking of his own absolute and unending grief and sorrow at the absence of one he so admires and the pain of not knowing whether he is alive or dead. Then to cap things off, Menelaos brings to mind and justifies the grief for Odysseus of Laertes and of Penelope and Telemakhos himself. Unlike the first time, Telemakhos now responds the way that his mother had, by weeping and veiling himself — with his cloak, while she used her veil. Furthermore, we learn from the narrator’s intervention in the last four lines of the passage (4.116–119) that when Menelaos spoke of Odysseus and his grief, it was his way of confirming his as yet hidden intuition about the identity of his young guest (based on the resemblance of his hands, feet, gaze, head, and hair to Odysseus’s, as we learn just below, 4.149–150). In the conversation that he holds with Helen about their guests that follows this passage, Menelaos makes the connection between Telemakhos’s weeping and his identity explicit to her and everyone else immediately after describing the physical features of Telemakhos that remind him of Odysseus:
μυθεόμην, ὅσα κεῖνος ὀιζύσας ἐμόγησεν
ἀμφʼ ἐμοί, αὐτὰρ ὁ πικρὸν ὑπʼ ὀφρύσι δάκρυον εἶβε,
χλαῖναν πορφυρέην ἄντʼ ὀφθαλμοῖιν ἀνασχών.
I was telling them how much that man suffered miserably
On my behalf, and then he (=Telemakhos) started shedding a bitter tear under his brows
holding his purple cloak up before his eyes.
In other words, Telemakhos’ way of grieving in response to Menelaos’ talk of his and his mother’s akhos proves to Menelaos that he is Odysseus’ son, establishes his identity, presumably because only a person directly involved in the suffering exhibits that grief, weeps that way.
§43. With this overview in mind, we turn to Odysseus’ reaction to Demodokos’ ‘first song’ in Odyssey 8.72–92. It is introduced as klea andrōn / oimēs, tēs tot’ ara kleos ouranon eurun hikāne ‘glories (=kleos in plural) of men, a thread whose glory (=kleos in singular) at that time was reaching the broad sky’, and it describes a quarrel between Odysseus and Agamemnon, the pēmatos arkhē ‘beginning of the suffering’. Here is Odysseus’ response:
πορφύρεον μέγα φᾶρος ἑλὼν χερσὶ στιβαρῇσι
κὰκ κεφαλῆς εἴρυσσε, κάλυψε δὲ καλὰ πρόσωπα·
αἴδετο γὰρ Φαίηκας ὑπʼ ὀφρύσι δάκρυα λείβων.
ἦ τοι ὅτε λήξειεν ἀείδων θεῖος ἀοιδός,
δάκρυ ὀμορξάμενος κεφαλῆς ἄπο φᾶρος ἕλεσκε
καὶ δέπας ἀμφικύπελλον ἑλὼν σπείσασκε θεοῖσιν·
αὐτὰρ ὅτʼ ἂψ ἄρχοιτο καὶ ὀτρύνειαν ἀείδειν
Φαιήκων οἱ ἄριστοι, ἐπεὶ τέρποντʼ ἐπέεσσιν,
ἂψ Ὀδυσεὺς κατὰ κρᾶτα καλυψάμενος γοάασκεν.
taking a great purple cloak in those mighty hands of his
and pulling it down from his head, he covered up his beautiful face,
since he was ashamed to be shedding tears from his eyelids before the Phaeacians.
Indeed whenever the divine singer ceased singing,
He would wipe away a tear and keep taking the cloak from his head,
and then he would take a two-handled wine cup and pour a libation to the gods;
then when he [=Demodokos] would start up again and they would urge him to sing,
I mean the best of the Phaeacians, since they were delighting in his words,
once again Odysseus covered his head and began weeping.
These words recall the responses of Penelope and of Telemakhos in Odyssey 4 to tales that were connected to Odysseus, with the difference this time being that Odysseus is both the (still disguised) listener and the actor in the songs being sung, an index of his absolute ‘involvement’ in the song. When Demodokos takes up the divine burlesque narrative, the humnos that follows this song, there is no veiling or weeping forthcoming from Odysseus. It calls forth only delight (root terp– in Greek) in the mind of Odysseus (8.368, terpet’ eni phresin hēsin akouōn ‘he delighted in his heart to hear it’) echoing the word terpont’ used above of the ‘best of the Phaeacians’ response to the first song. The last song of Demodokos, however, sung at Odysseus’ request, concerns the Trojan horse and the capture of Troy, events that were the listening hero’s signature achievements, at least before his homecoming.  The song concludes with a description of Odysseus himself and Menelaos going together to the home of Deiphobos and fighting bravely (tolmēsanta) a ‘most dreadful battle’ (ainotaton polemon, 8.519) that he won (nikēsai) through the help of Athena, and at that point Odysseus totally dissolves into tears:
τήκετο, δάκρυ δʼ ἔδευεν ὑπὸ βλεφάροισι παρειάς.
ὡς δὲ γυνὴ κλαίῃσι φίλον πόσιν ἀμφιπεσοῦσα,
ὅς τε ἑῆς πρόσθεν πόλιος λαῶν τε πέσῃσιν,
ἄστεϊ καὶ τεκέεσσιν ἀμύνων νηλεὲς ἦμαρ·
ἡ μὲν τὸν θνήσκοντα καὶ ἀσπαίροντα ἰδοῦσα
ἀμφʼ αὐτῷ χυμένη λίγα κωκύει· οἱ δέ τʼ ὄπισθε
κόπτοντες δούρεσσι μετάφρενον ἠδὲ καὶ ὤμους
εἴρερον εἰσανάγουσι, πόνον τʼ ἐχέμεν καὶ ὀιζύν·
τῆς δʼ ἐλεεινοτάτῳ ἄχεϊ φθινύθουσι παρειαί·
ὣς Ὀδυσεὺς ἐλεεινὸν ὑπʼ ὀφρύσι δάκρυον εἶβεν.
ἔνθʼ ἄλλους μὲν πάντας ἐλάνθανε δάκρυα λείβων,
Ἀλκίνοος δέ μιν οἶος ἐπεφράσατʼ ἠδʼ ἐνόησεν,
ἥμενος ἄγχʼ αὐτοῦ, βαρὺ δὲ στενάχοντος ἄκουσεν.
was dissolving, and a tear wet the cheeks below his eyelids.
As a woman weeps collapsing around her beloved husband,
who falls before his city and his people
trying to ward off the pitiless day for his town and his children;
seeing him dying and gasping for air
she falls in a heap around him, shrieking; but from behind they are
smacking her in the back and shoulders with their spearshafts,
and they lead her off into slavery, to gain both toil and misery;
her cheeks wither with the most piteous grief (eleeinotatōi akhei);
so Odysseus was shedding a tear of pity under his brows.
Then none of the others noticed him shedding tears,
only Alkinoos observed him and perceived it,
sitting near him, and he heard him groaning deeply.
§44. In describing Odysseus’ response to the first song, the narrator spoke of the kleos of the song (8.73: klea andrōn ‘famous songs of heroes’ of the song about to be sung, and 8.74 kleos of its fame) and the purple cloak with which Odysseus covered himself when weeping; his akhos is implicit in his weeping and the covering of his head and face.  Here in the third song, the narrator does not mention the cloak and the covering, but it is implicit in the fact that only Alkinoos took notice and heard his groans, and the akhos is deflected to the subject of the simile that describes the treatment of a captive woman, a simile that at once augments and conceals the grief of Odysseus, which is here qualified as eleeinon ‘piteous’. But just below, Alkinoos describes Odysseus’ response to all in attendance as akhos (l. 541) and recommends that the singer hold off so that there may be a return to delight (terpōmetha again, l. 542) for all. Then he finally asks Odysseus who he is, but in an elaborately extended fashion, over 36 lines, beginning with a request for the names of his parents, and ending in this way:
Ἀργείων Δαναῶν ἠδʼ Ἰλίου οἶτον ἀκούων.
τὸν δὲ θεοὶ μὲν τεῦξαν, ἐπεκλώσαντο δʼ ὄλεθρον
ἀνθρώποις, ἵνα ᾖσι καὶ ἐσσομένοισιν ἀοιδή.
ἦ τίς τοι καὶ πηὸς ἀπέφθιτο Ἰλιόθι πρὸ
ἐσθλὸς ἐών, γαμβρὸς ἢ πενθερός, οἵ τε μάλιστα
κήδιστοι τελέθουσι μεθʼ αἷμά τε καὶ γένος αὐτῶν;
ἦ τίς που καὶ ἑταῖρος ἀνὴρ κεχαρισμένα εἰδώς,
ἐσθλός; ἐπεὶ οὐ μέν τι κασιγνήτοιο χερείων
γίγνεται, ὅς κεν ἑταῖρος ἐὼν πεπνυμένα εἰδῇ.
hearing the fate of the Argive Danaans and of Troy.
The gods contrived it, and they have spun destruction
for humans, so that there may be song also for people in the future.
Or did some relative of yours perish before Ilion,
noble as he was, an in-law either father or brother, who are especially
most cherished (kēdistoi) among blood and family members?
Or was it perhaps a companion who knew how friends reciprocate,
a noble person? Since not at all less than a brother
is one who is a companion and knows wisdom and courage.
Back to Odyssey 1.351–352 and the Identity of Telemakhos
§46. Alkinoos also tries to console Odysseus by distancing the song and the notion that the gods have contrived all this suffering for human beings (l. 580, anthrōpois) so that people in the future could hear songs of it — a generalization that is similar in tone and content but not in effect to Telemakhos’s remarks about Zeus’s responsibility for the woes of the returning heroes and about the neōtatē song and the way that humans (anthrōpoi, see 1.351) respond to it.  But in the text from the Odyssey that Socrates cites from, the interaction between Penelope and Telemakhos in Odyssey 1.325–1.364, there is something missing: yes, Penelope’s sadness is a given, but Telemakhos should reflect it as well. He should be sharing her sorrow, but he is significantly not sharing that sorrow, because there is a big problem with him at this early stage of his narrative. He is not yet connected to his father and therefore to his own identity, so how could he betray it by weeping? Earlier in Odyssey 1 (1.213–220) in response to a direct question, he actually denied that he knew who he was despite his mother’s assertion, and he even expressed the wish that he was the son of a blessed man instead of the most ill-starred of men on earth. Here is what Athena tells him after advising him to go on a journey to learn about his father (1.281–283), and, on his return, to wait for a year, and if his father does not return by then, to have a funeral for him, and then plot how to kill the suitors:
ὅππως κε μνηστῆρας ἐνὶ μεγάροισι τεοῖσι
κτείνῃς ἠὲ δόλῳ ἢ ἀμφαδόν· οὐδέ τί σε χρὴ
νηπιάας ὀχέειν, ἐπεὶ οὐκέτι τηλίκος ἐσσι.
how you may kill the suitors in your hall,
either by trickery or openly: it is not at all necessary that you
cling to your nēpieē, since you are no longer of that age.
The word nēpieē has been understood as ‘’childishness” or “foolishness,” but it has been shown to be a term related to the root of Latin aptus and ineptus and means ‘detachment’.  What Athena is telling Telemakhos is to stop clinging to being detached from his father and his identity, an oxymoron, and a powerful one. It is important that Telemakhos separate himself, spatially as well as emotionally, from his mother, in order to attach himself subsequently to the world of his father. But at this point in the story, he has not accomplished either objective. The way that he responds to Menelaos in Odyssey 4 proves the point: by then he has at least begun to become connected to his father.
§50. Pindar’s epinicians have been invoked in connection with Telemakhos’ remarks, because epinicians do refer to the current world in a way that seems to resemble the way that Telemakhos speaks of the recent past within the epic world — but unlike Homer, Pindar can overtly refer to his own time, and his central task is to praise the victor of the current moment. As Andrew Miller and Gregory Nagy have demonstrated, what is neos or nearos in the epinicians is “a specific category of subject matter”, to wit, the praiseworthy achievement of the athlete in the here and now — for instance, the neōtaton kalōn ‘most recent of the glories’ in Pythian 8.33 is Aristomenes’ success in wrestling which it is the poet’s task is to praise by linking it to what is palaio– ‘old’, the mythological past.  A preference for the contemporary is a topos in Pindar, who claims that because the poet chooses to link the object of his current attention to the past, the past comes into bloom — otherwise it would escape mortals’ attention:
εὕδει χάρις, ἀμνάμονες δὲ βροτοί,
ὅ τι μὴ σοφίας ἄωτον ἄκρον
κλυταῖς ἐπέων ῥοαῖσιν ἐξίκηται ζυγέν.
grace (kharis, = compensation through song for glorious deeds) sleeps, and mortals are unmindful of it,
Unless the peaking blossom of the art of song
Turns out to be wedded to the glory-bringing streams of sung words.
For Pindar, there is so much emotional intensity in the current moment that the poet must manage his task with great care and tact, so that his praise carries weight; otherwise, there is ‘every danger’ hapas kindunos that his poetic performance will give rise to phthonos, vicious criticism motivated by jealousy and envy, whereas the poet’s goal is intense approbation.  In Odyssey 1.346 Telemakhos says to his mother, you ‘begrudge’ phthoneeis the poet his prerogative, which is to give delight (root terp-). In contrast to Pindar and his concern for the way that praise of the present and familiar can become envy and distrust, Telemakhos claims for Phemios the right to give delight with what is closest to the present in time — he has none of Pindar’s concern with intensifying praise of the present up to and not into the point of envy (=phthonos). It cannot be a coincidence that the song that Telemakhos associates with the word neōtatē, that of the heroes returning from Troy, is decidedly the most recent in the internal past of the poem, as against Pindar’s focus on what is recent in the external present of the poem’s performance.
Back to Plato and Conclusions
§52. In any cases, Plato’s holistic moral stance with regard to mousikē brings us back to our starting point, the remark of George Balanchine to the mother of one of his young ballet students, in French, “La danse, madame, c’est une question morale.” Balanchine also had strong opinions about newness and dance. Here is what Lincoln Kirstein reports: