[email protected]: Gregory Nagy, Diachrony and the Case of Aesop
Delimiting the terms 'synchronic' and 'diachronic' in the analysis of structures help us fully comprehend the semantic relationship of the meaning 'sea' in Greek of hesitation about the young man's advice, but Bdelycleon finally persuades . James Barr Nashville – Tennesee, USA The Synchronic, the Diachronic and the Historical: A Triangular Relationship? It is now widely recognized that the. Phylogenetics is the study of historical relationships between species in biology. LOT Winterschool in Nijmegen, and who has given me valuable advice on.
Once the decipherment revealed that the language written in this script was an earlier form of Greek, the documented era of the Greek language needed to be pushed back into the second millennium BCE, and this newly demarcated older era could now reveal new historical facts about the language.
These new facts in some ways confirmed but in other ways contradicted the reconstructions achieved by way of diachronic perspectives that had already been developed before the decipherment of Linear B Nagy a: Those previous reconstructions, which were dominated by the hindsight of later history, needed to be modified in the light of earlier history. So now a new diachronic model of Common Greek needed to be built by way of reconstructing backward in time, even farther back than before.
And, now that an earlier historical phase of Greek had been discovered, this discovery required re-adjustments in how we reconstruct forward in time from that earlier phase to later phases. From this example, we can see that the diachronic process of reconstructing forward as well as backward in time depends on the data provided by historical evidence.
But the actual reconstruction of structures depends primarily on diachronic and synchronic perspectives and only secondarily on a historical perspective.
I say this because the historical perspective works only by hindsight, whereas the diachronic perspective allows for foresight as well, so to speak, by way of the procedure I describe here as reconstructing forward in time. For an immediate illustration, I chose as my example a set of findings achieved by applying another diachronic model.
This model is another construct built by linguists, and this one is even bigger than the model of Common Greek. I focus here on an example of what kinds of things we can find when we reconstruct forward as well as backward in Indo-European linguistics: This convergent meaning has to do with a crossing, over a dangerous body of water or over some other dangerous zone, that sacralizes the one who succeeds in achieving such a dangerous crossing Nagy a: The underlying sense of a dangerous crossing that sacralizes would be impossible to recover without applying a diachronic perspective.
In developing synchronic and diachronic perspectives in analyzing such a tradition, I built models that were meant to be tested by way of applying historical perspectives. In reconstructing backward in time, I considered not only the classical phases of this tradition, dating back to the fifth and the fourth century BCE, but also their preclassical phases in the sixth century BCE and before.
Just now, I referred to the classical phases of the Aesopic tradition, dating these phases to the fifth and the fourth century BCE. I was speaking from a historical point of view, from the hindsight of history. From a diachronic perspective, however, reconstructing backward and then forward in time, even the term classical becomes relative, in the sense that it can no longer be absolutized. Some aspects of my work on Aesop as published in the two books I have just summarized have been debated by Leslie Kurke in her book Aesopic Conversations: In what follows, I will outline the relevant parts of her argumentation, which as we will see depend partly on her understanding of diachrony.
Kurke argues that the form of discourse we see at work in the fables of Aesop is a genre that became integrated into the traditions of making prose in the classical period.
I have no objection to that part of her argumentation, and in fact I argued for such an integration in my own work. As we will see, I do have an objection to that part of her argument. In both cases, she says that something is missing in my explanation.
And she formulates that missing something by invoking what she describes as a diachronic perspective. These arguments center on a diachronic model of what I describe as ritual antagonism between Aesop and the god Apollo.
Following an exposition of these arguments, I will confront in a debate the counterarguments of Kurke, with special reference to her use of the term diachronic. Finally, after concluding these two friendly debates, I will offer a formulation that aims at a possible reconciliation of the opposing arguments. On the basis of my study of a wide variety of myths about heroes, I built a diachronic model for what I see as a pattern of ritual antagonism between god and hero. In The Best of the Achaeans Nagythe examples included: Achilles as antagonist of Apollo pp.
I highlight the fact that the case of Aesop, whom I mention last here, was not the basis for my study of cult heroes. Aesop was only one of many cult heroes that I studied. True, the case of Aesop goes to the core of my overall work on concepts of the hero in general. But my point for now is simply the fact that the case of Aesop looms large in my work for reasons that transcend his status as a cult hero.
That said, I return to the matter at hand, which is the diachronic model I built to describe what I see as a pattern of ritual antagonism between god and hero. On the basis of historical evidence showing that heroes known for their antagonism with given divinities in myth could be worshipped together with those divinities in the context of hero cult, I formulated a model that I will now quote: The formulation that I just quoted is also quoted, twice, by Kurke The context of the first quotation is the case of Aesop as a cult hero at Delphi, and Kurke is taking exception here to my argument that the god Apollo is the ritual antagonist of Aesop.
The context of the second quotation is the case of Aesop compared with the case of Neoptolemos as the main cult hero at Delphi, and this time Kurke is taking exception to my additional argument that the god Apollo is also the ritual antagonist of Neoptolemos. My model of an antagonism between hero and god in myth, corresponding to a symbiosis of the two in rituals of hero cult, especially in the cases of Aesop and Neoptolemos as cult heroes, is disputed by Kurke p.
That is to say, did everyone believe in god-hero antagonism in just the same way in every period? Or should we instead conceptualize the stories of the interaction of different figures with Apollo as available for competing appropriations at the same time or at different times? The first sentence of this statement, to my way of thinking, manages to be unclear and unreasonable at the same time. The other two sentences in the statement, on the other hand, both of which are questions, are I think perfectly reasonable questions.
But the answers to these questions are already there, I insist, in my two books dealing with Aesop Nagy, in both of which I apply a combination of historical, synchronic, and diachronic perspectives. Unfortunately for me, Kurke has not used the revised edition of The Best of the Achaeans. As I have already noted, the Preface to this book makes a point of foregrounding my use of a combination of historical, synchronic, and diachronic perspectives pp. Kurke has used only the edition, in which I avoided using the words synchronic and diachronic even though I consistently applied synchronic and diachronic perspectives.
I am even more disheartened by the fact that Kurke has not read my formulation about ritual antagonism between god and hero as a diachronic model, which is what I had intended it to be. And there is an irony I see in all this, since I was trying to speak more like a classicist in the original version of The Best of the Achaeans by not explicitly describing my model as a diachronic model, which is what it was then and is now. My use of the word principle in this context is comparable to the way linguists use the word law with reference to diachronic models that are meant to be tested on synchronic descriptions.
In the Preface to the version of The Best of the Achaeans, I reverted to the explicit use of the terms synchronic and diachronic, just as I had used them in earlier work Nagyespecially pp. I did so in part because I felt encouraged by what was said about my use of the term diachronic in a posthumously published work of Albert Lord In the foregoing discussions the word tradition has occurred very seldom, except in my replies to criticism, when I have adduced occasionally the compound term oral traditional.
Years ago Nagy reminded me of the significance of the diachronic element in archaic Greek poetry: In some ways, the traditionality of the poetry is more pertinent than its orality, but both aspects must be understood. The point is to emphasize the diachronic character of the oral poetries concerned.
I think this is true, for the epic at least, about the medieval vernacular poetries. It is also true, I suggest, that the poetics of that style antedated writing.
I think, however, that her structuralist approach needs to be adjusted. Also, Kurke does not distinguish between diachronic and historical perspectives. I will now proceed to back up what I just said by quoting some of her formulations and then commenting on them.
So far, so good. This does not make sense to me. So the idea is to postulate from a synchronic perspective that there is a system at work in a text or in a culture.
And then the best alternative would be to start over again and try to build a better explanatory model. Here I need to take the two parts of her formulation separately. I begin with the first part: If we try to explain such an unsystematic something by claiming that it must be part of a different system, then we have not succeeded in building a synchronic model of a system in the first place. Now I come to the second part: She goes on to say about these anomalous elements: Here is where I would have expected a historical perspective to come into play.
And, as I noted, Kurke has no such system to start with. What I said before applies here as well: So what is this system that is not a system?
Throughout her explanation of her structuralist approach to a given system, Kurke AC 25 is referring to the Life of Aesop. But Kurke has a big problem with this term Quellenforschung: Needing Quellenforschung as a straw man, Kurke makes it seem as if her predecessors saw no structure in the Life of Aesop traditions—no unity, not even any tendency toward unity. I disagree with her. And I disagree even more when she starts naming names. That is what I was trying to do in my own work on Aesop, following the historical perspectives that Wiechers had already applied.
Without these historical perspectives, I am sure that my own work on Aesop would have led to a dead end. In any case, I argue that we need to combine the historical perspectives of Wiechers with synchronic and diachronic perspectives. Such a combination, to my mind, is an improved and refined form of Quellenforschung.
I quote here a formulation of hers that comes closest to the ideal of Quellenforschung that I have just argued for. I would like to try a different kind of historicizing approach, reading the Life or at least certain strands in the Life in a way that is simultaneously diachronic and focused on ideology.
I start from the assumption that stories about Aesop circulated for centuries, with different elements doing complex ideological work at different points. Thus, in what resembles a three-dimensional chess game, I want to try to take different synchronic slices or snapshots, and, at each point, put the elements in dynamic relation to their cultural and historical context. And, as far as I am concerned, the methodology she describes here can apply to the methods I used in my own work on Aesop.
Faulting Wiechers for his attempt to trace the lore about Aesop at Delphi from the time of the First Sacred War in the archaic period all the way into the classical period, Kurke AC 31 has this to say about his findings and about the models that I and others have built with reference to these findings: So, for example, Gregory Nagy, discussing the death of Neoptolemos at Delphi to which he then assimilates the death of Aesop at Delphiasserts: I have three objections to make here: Following the structuralist approach of Jakobson, I use the term langue with reference to language as a system and the term parole with reference to language as it comes to life once it is spoken by historical persons speaking in historical situations.
I resist this claim. In my study of these two myths, I was comparing them to each other as structures. That is to say, I applied a comparative structuralist methodology. I will come back to this observation at a later point in my argumentation, where I outline three different applications of comparative structuralist methodology in studying related structures.
Here again I resist this claim. As I argued earlier, my model simply views tradition diachronically as well as historically. Rather, once again, it views religion diachronically as well as historically. After making the general statement that I just quoted, where she interprets my overall formulation about god-hero antagonism in myth and symbiosis in cult as if it were a historical model, which it is not, Kurke proceeds to interrogate my model in the form of four rhetorical questions.
In what follows, I quote each one of her questions AC 31 and offer answers: It is a diachronic model, meant to be tested on synchronic analysis of the relevant historical evidence. The primary example involves Neoptolemos, son of Achilles: In my work on this subject, I pointed to two other historical examples of coexistence between a hero and the god Apollo in cult: I must add that the relationship of both these heroes to Apollo involves also the Muses further evidence and analysis in Nagy b, which Kurke does not cite.
I am grateful to Kowalzig for citing at an earlier point in her argumentation p. In my work, I connected this same ritual of the sacrificial slaughter of sheep at Delphi with a myth about the death of Aesop at Delphi, following the historical analysis of this myth by Wiechers and others. Unfortunately, Kowalzig does not cite Wiechers and mentions Aesop nowhere in her book, though she does cite an earlier work of Kurke on Aesop in Delphi Hera, Apollo at certain times and places in relation to certain heroes e.
I start with the general part of the question and then proceed to the specific part. At least, it applies in terms of the ideology we see at work in a passage that I will now highlight in the Hesiodic Works and Days —, What we see in this passage is in effect an ancient poetic version of what I have been describing as a diachronic model of god-hero antagonism in myth and symbiosis in cult.
I cite as one example a complex pattern that I found embedded in the overall plot of the Homeric Odyssey, featuring two levels of antagonism: To be correlated with this dual pattern of antagonism in myth is a dual pattern of symbiosis in cult, as attested in an aetiological myth linked with a sacred space located on a mountain peak in Arcadia by the name of Boreion: Since Arcadia is proverbially mountainous and landlocked, this Arcadian myth can be connected with myths about the travels of Odysseus to places that were located as far away from the sea as possible.
These myths are reflected in the Odyssey xi —, xxiii —within the context of a riddling prophecy by Teiresias about the death of Odysseus Nagy b: I built it also on the basis of comparative evidence found in Indic myths, which belong to the same Indo-European linguistic family as do the Greek myths that I studied.
And, besides studying cognate structures like Indic, I also compared parallel structures in non-Indo-European traditions, especially with reference to the work of Ronald Hendel a: That is to say, what social work is this religious structure performing?
It is simply a diachronic model formulated by an outsider to the system, in this case, by me, and this model is meant to be continually tested by way of synchronically analyzing the available historical realities.
The model does not belong to me, since it is meant to be used by anyone who wants to test it on their own synchronic analysis of the realities.
If the model works when you test it, then the model is a successful one—at least, it is successful to that extent. And if the model does not work, it will need to be adjusted. Such a model is like the grammar that a grammarian writes for a given language. The grammar can be synchronic or diachronic or both.
Saussure's Basic Principles of Structural Linguistics
But the real grammar of the language exists in the language itself, and this grammar exists even if there is no grammarian to write a grammar for it. The answer I just gave to this fourth and last question that Kurke is asking can be contrasted with the answer she proceeds to give to her own question AC What I see here once again is a need for distinguishing diachronic and historical perspectives.
Diachronic models are axiomatic, yes. Such models are built to be tested on the open-ended contingencies of historical realities. I propose to put to the test my diachronic model of god-hero antagonism in myth and symbiosis in cult by re-examining some of the historical evidence for the hero cult of Neoptolemos and by comparing it with corresponding historical evidence for the hero cult of Aesop. And I will also show that we need to distinguish between conflicts in history and oppositions in a given structure.Historical Linguistics - Diachronic Linguistics
And it was this methodology that led to my formulation of the model of god-hero antagonism in myth and symbiosis in cult BA I submit that such a model does not preempt but in fact invites the analysis of oppositions representing conflict and contestation within the myth of Apollo and Neoptolemos, or within the myth of Apollo and Aesop.
With reference to what I just said, I must highlight the fact that a primary aim of mine in The Best of the Achaeans was to study the structural reality of an opposition between higher and lower forms of social discourse in correlation with the historical reality of conflicts between higher and lower elements of society. And I studied such highs and lows by concentrating on Achilles and his son Neoptolemos at one extreme in the first part of the book and on Aesop at the other extreme in the second part.
Rather, I was comparing these myths to each other as multiforms of structures. Sometimes they all go together to talk to the NRCS representative, for example. These meetings and spirit of democracy are vital to Annette: Why is that so important? Because I never knew nothing. That last statement, tinged with suppressed anger, is the only moment I encountered a flash of resentment from Annette about her family from the past. However, now that she easily inhabits the identity of farmland owner with its responsibilities and decisions, she realizes how much she hated being excluded from conversations about the farm for most of her life.
Resilience especially played an important factor. Annette first inherited the farm as a frightened widow and locked herself in her house. In farming communities, for example, news agencies report regularly of neighbors rallying together to bring in the harvest when a neighbor has been injured, is ill, or has passed away e. Farming communities are known for their resilience in their risky profession, where so much depends not only on weather and resources but also relationships among farmers built over long years of helping one another bring in the crops.
In this article, I have tried offered a diachronic-synchronic model of rhetorical agency that can help identify how such agency emerges in the life of rural farmers.
At the beginning Annette would have never been able to articulate her management strategy for the farm; she needed a kairotic location in which to simply begin her journey as farm owner. Focusing on resilience helped us understand how Annette continually pushed forward to learn the farming business instead of just selling the property. My objective in building this DS model of rhetorical agency and applying it to Annette's case study is to provide a more compelling, multi-faceted analysis of rhetorical agency than any one model could provide.
We need models of rhetorical agency to reflect that multiplicity of identities and agencies that alter with circumstances and time.
Taken separately, theories of rhetorical agency can be limiting as analysis tools in qualitative research. However, taken together, the woven threads of these different theories into one model illustrate and even celebrate the in-flux, encompassing surround of rhetorical agency. How long have you owned your farmland? Tell me about your history with this property. What kinds of crops do you grow?
What have you grown in the past? Who conducts the day-to-day farming operations? What is your relationship like with this person? Can you give me an example? What changes or improvements would you like to make to your land? What factors affect your ability to make these improvements?
When a Woman Owns the Farm: A Case for Diachronic and Synchronic Rhetorical Agency | enculturation
What sources of information do you use to help you make decisions about your farming? In other words, where do you go for help? To what extent do you make farming decisions based on how farming was done in the past by family members or other predecessors? Ideally, what types of resources would help you to make the changes you envision to your farmland?
If so, would you describe the conflict? If you could do anything with your land, what would it be? What does your farm look like five years in the future?
What would you like your legacy to be regarding your farm? Greg Wilson Works Cited Annette pseudonym. Brandth, Berit, and Marit S. The Intertwining Practices of Gender and Work. Journal of Women in Culture and Society Druschke, Caroline Gottschalk and Silvia Secchi. Duffy, Michael and Anne Johannes. Eells, Jean, and Jessica Soulis. Women, Food, and Agriculture Network.
Wives and Mothers in Rural Nebraska, University of North Carolina Press, Utah State University Press, Methodology and Rhetorical Agency. State University of New York, Biomedical Brain Scans and the Ontology of Fibromyalgia. Technical Communication Quarterly Still Life with Rhetoric: Agency, Kairos, and the Possibilities of Social Action. Mark Zachry and Charlotte Thralls. Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Place. Southern Illinois University Press, A Journal of Feminist Geography 3.
Contributions from Rhetorical Theory. Lundberg, Christian and Joshua Gunn. Toward Understandings of Feminist Ethnography. Handbook of Feminist Research: Rural Women, Agriculture, and Environment. Women in Agricultural Production. Rowman and Littlefield, Wells, Betty, and Jean Eells. Customizing Conservation to a Changing Demographic.