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The Black Hunter revisited1

  • Pierre Vidal-Naquet


In Memory of Moses and Mary Finley

Like many of its brothers in ambiguity, ‘the Black Hunter’ has a double birthday. Like the First international, it is a French child educated in England. As ‘Le Chasseur Noir’, this paper was first given in Paris, on 6 February 1967, at the Association pour l'Encouragement des Etudes Grecques, and, a year later (15 February 1968), in Cambridge at the Philological Society. I owe it to the truth to say that in Paris the audience remained mute. In Cambridge, on the contrary, there was a lively discussion, not only among the classicists but also with no less an anthropologist than Edmund Leach, now Sir Edumnd. A few months later the paper was first published in Cambridge, on the initiative of the late Denys Page, in a translation by Janet Lloyd and with a dedication to the late Moses Finley, and a little later in Paris. One may easily note here a structural opposition in the form of a chiasmus: in Cambridge, in the University where eminent classicists – Jane Harrison, Francis MacDonald Cornford – were also anthropologists, it was in a purely philological publication, the Proceedings, that the paper was published. In Paris, where the anthropological tradition of classical studies remained, with Louis Gernet and Henri Jeanmaire, and, more recently, with Jean-Pierre Vernant, outside the University proper, it was in the Annales that the paper was published.



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2. The black hunter and the origin of the Athenian ephebeia’, PCPS n.s. 14 (1968) 4964; Le chasseur noir et l'origine de l'éphébie athénienne’, Annales E.S.C. 23 (1968) 947–64.

3. Guerra, agoni e culti nella Grecia arcaica (1961).

4. Rome, 1969.

5. Jeanmaire, H., ‘La cryptie lacédémonienne’, REG 26 (1913) 121–50; Couroi et courètes (1939).

6. One could quote J. P. Vernant's work on Hestia and Hermes; cf. now his Mythe et pensée chez les grecs2 (1985) 155201.

7. Cf. Le chasseur noir ed. 2 (1983) 19 ( = The black hunter (1986) xxiv).

8. Cf. Jeanmaire (n.5) 142; Cartledge, P., ‘Hoplites and heroes: Sparta's contribution to the technique of ancient warfare’, JHS 97 (1977) 1127 ( = Sparta (WB Darmstadt, 1986( 387-425, 470); Loraux, N., ‘La belle mort spartiate’, Ktema 2 (1977) 105–20.

9. The major work was Manns, O., Über die Jagd bei den Griechen (Progr. Kassel 1888) 738; 1889, 3-20; 1890, 3-21. We have now Anderson, J. K., Hunting in the ancient world (1985), and we shall soon have Alain Schnapp's doctoral dissertation. For a very brief presentation cf. Sherratt, A., ‘The chase, from subsistence to sport’, The Ashmolean 10 (summer 1986) 47.

10. Athenaeus 18a.

11. Laws 7.822d-4a.

12. Faure, Paul, La vie quotidienne en Grèce au temps de la guerre de Troie (1975) 148.

13. For the sources cf. ‘Black Hunter’ (n.2) 51-4.

14. Vv. 781-96 (Dickinson's translation).

15. In spite of what is argued by Anderson (n. 9) 159 n. 3; cf. ‘Black Hunter’ (n. 2) 62-3.

16. Cf., e.g., Gordon, R. (ed.), Myth, religion and society (1981) 147–62, with some additional notes by Gordon, R., and my The black hunter (1986).

17. Cf., e.g., Maxwell-Stuart, P. G., ‘Remarks on the black cloaks of the ephebes’, PCPS n.s. 16 (1970) 113–16.

18. Cf. my essays in Vernant, J. P. and Vidal-Naquet, P., Tragedy and myth in ancient Greece (1981).

19. Cf. my ‘Recipes for Greek adolescence’, in Gordon (n. 16) and now also in The black hunter (1986).

20. Cf. ‘Flavius Arrien entre deux mondes’ in Arrien, histoire d'Alexandre le grand (1984) 355–65.

21. Cf. Sourvinou-Inwood, C., JHS 91 (1971) 172–7; Bruhns, H., ‘Initiation in der Antike: Tod, Wiedergeburt und Politik’, Journal für Geschichte 1 (1979) 33–7; Mason, P., The city of men. Ideology, sexual politics and the social formation (1984) 50–8.

22. Reinmuth, O. W., The ephebic inscriptions of the fourth century B.C. (1971) 126.

23. Anderson (n. 9) 159 n.3; di Benedetto, V., ‘Il Filottete e l'efebia secondo Pierre Vidal-Naquet’, Belfagor 33 (1978) 191207 (reprinted in Filologia e marxismo. Contro le mistificazioni (1981)).

24. Cf., e.g., Schmitt, P., ‘Athéna Apatouria et la ceinture. Les aspects féminins des Apatouries à Athènes’, Annales E. S. C. 32 (1977) 1059–73; I shall refer later to important evidence given by B. Bravo and P. Gauthier.

25. ‘Black Hunter’ (n. 2) 54.

26. Cf. n. 17.

27. Cf., e.g., Vernant, J. P., Bérard, Cl. and others, La cité des images (1984).

28. Cf. The world of Odysseus ed. 2 (1977) 142–58.

29. Bravo, B., ‘Sulân. Représailles et justice privée contre les étrangers dans les cités grecques’, ASNP3 10.3 (1980) 675987, esp. 954-7.

30. Iliad 11.683-4; here and elsewhere I quote Lattimore's translation.

31. Leaf, W., The Iliad2 I (1900) 465–6.

32. Ibid. 466.

33. This is the title of the unpublished dissertation of my former pupil Ariadni Gartziou-Tatti, (E.H.E.S.S., Paris, 1985).

34. G. S. Kirk on Il.3.17-20; Kirk does little to explain this surprise. Paris' cuirass is borrowed from Lycaon (the wolf-man), cf. 3.333.

35. Ibid.

36. Cf. Schnapp-Gourbeillon, Annie, Lions, héros, masques (1981) 135–48.

37. Son of another Lycaon.

38. Beye, C. R., The Iliad, the Odyssey and the epic tradition (1968) 49.

39. Thanks to François Jouan, I was given access to the documentation analysed by Wathelet, Paul in Les Troyens de L'Illiade. Mythe et histoire (diss. Liege 1986) 263-334, 861915.

40. Pind. Pyth. 4.96, Thucyd.3.22; cf. Le chasseur noir (n. 7) 101-2, 116, 154-5, Black Hunter (n. 7) 69-70, 72-108.

41. Anderson (n.9) xi.

42. Title of one of my three studies in Tragedy and myth (n.18).

43. Anderson (n.9) 53.

44. Anderson (n.9) 53-4.

45. Beazley, J. D., The development of Attic black-figure (1951) 32, quoted by Anderson 53.

46. Cf. n.8 above, and the comments of Heza, E., Eos 62 (1974)-44 and of Saïd, S. and Tredé, M., C&M 36 (1985) 6585. The main Thucydidean references are 2.39, 3.30.2, 5.8; on ambush and surprise in general cf. Pritchett, W. K., The Greek state at war II (1974) 156–89 and III (1979) 330.

47. Reading Greek tragedy (1986) 5778.

48. Above, n.27.

49. Repolitiser la cité’, L'Homme 97/8 (1986) 239–55.

50. Le miroir d'Hérodote (1980) 5979.

51. For a good use of this tool in the ancient field cf. Borgeaud, P., ‘L'animal comme opérateur symbolique’ in L'animal, l'homme, le Dieu dans le Proche-Orient ancien (Cahiers du C.E.P.O.A., 1986) 1319.

52. s.v. συνέφηβος.

53. Lissarrague, F., Archers, peltasts et cavaliers. Aspects de l'iconographie attique du guerrier (diss. E.H.E.S.S., Paris 1983).

54. On the ‘Scythians’ see also Brown, F. S. and Blake Tyrrell, W. M., ‘Ἐκιλώσαντο: A reading of Herodotus' Amazons’, CJ 80 (1985) 297302.

55. This is the reason why the storie di caccia analysed by Pellizer, E. (Favole d'identita. Favole di paura (1982)) seem to me distinct from my work despite some interesting parallels (40-6).

56. I mentioned this point in ‘Black Hunter’ (n.2) 50-1, relying heavily on Labarbe, J., BAB 1953.358–94.

57. For a recent comment cf. Rhodes, P. J., A commentary on the Aristotelian Athenaion Politeia (1981) 493–5; Rhodes does not, however, seriously discuss the question of origins.

58. Lycurgus, fr. 25 Sauppe.

59. ‘Recipes’ (n.19 above).

60. Cf. Reinmuth (n.22) 123-38.

61. Un commentaire historique des Poroi de Xénophon (1976) 190–5.

62. On the embassy 167.

63. So E. Heza (n.46) 228: ‘Dans la cité, il n'y a ni “classes militaires” ni héros, les uns et les autres maitres de la gloire, mais une communauté dont les membres portent les armes, renoncent à tout exploit individuel et n'agissent au combat que sous forme collective.’

64. Cf. the preface to Mazon's, P. translation of the Iliad (1975) 22–6.

65. Diod. Sic. 12.70; in general cf. Detienne, M., ‘La phalange. Problèmes, et controverses’ in Vernant, J. P. (ed.), Problèmes de la guerre en Grèce ancienne (1968) 119–42, Hoffmann, G., ‘Les choisis: un ordre dans la cité grecque?’, Droit et culture 9/10 (1985) 1526 (with the essential references).

66. Lac. 4.3.

67. Hdt. 7.205; cf. Loraux (n.8) 117.

68. Hdt. 9.21.

69. Thucyd. 6.100.1 (a reference I owe to A. Andrewes).

70. In Syracuse the Athenians had to fight a group of 600 (not 300) λογάδες. Half of them died, which is the traditional function of these elite soldiers (Thucyd. 6.96.3, 97.4).

71. καὶ τῶν ψιλῶν τινας ἐκλεκτὸυς ὡπλισμένους (6.100.1).

72. FGrHist 70 F 149 (in Strabo 10.483), a text commented upon by, among others, Briquel, D., ‘Initiations grecques et idéologie irrdo-européenne’, Annales E.S.C. 37 (1982) 454–69, and Jeanmaire, , Couroi et courètes 450–5.

73. Ibid. 540-52; Cf. Xen. Lac. 4.3. The hippeis were recruited from among the ἡβῶντες.

74. Thucyd. 5.67.2, Diod, Sic. 12.75 (Oldfather's translation except for the detail). This group of 1000 λογάδες has obviously suceeded in Argos to the archaic group of 300 whom Herodotus describes fighting their Spartan counterpart (1.82; cf. Pausanias 2.38.4-5).

75. For Elis, Thucyd. 2.25.3; for Megara, 5.60.3.

76. Pelopidas 14.18-19.

77. Other than Plutarch, the main sources are Diod. Sic. 12.70, Polyaenus 2.51., Athenaeus 13.602a (from Hieronymus the Peripatetic).

78. s.v. τριακάτιοι. οἱ ἐφήβοι καὶ τὸ σύστημα αὐτῶν.

79. For this distinction cf. SEG ix.72, 34-40.

80. The bulk of the evidence is given by Luni, , Quaderni di archeologia della Libia 8 (1976) 223–84, esp. 236-55. For the officers cf. SEG ix.7 (Schwyzer 234), 14 and 51, ix.9.51, ix.742 (the τριακακάρχαι take the name of ὲφήβαρχοι); Eustathius on Il.8.518 mentions the fact that in Cyrene the ephebes were called the three hundred. I owe my knowledge of these documents to Catherine Dobias-Lalou, whose doctoral dissertation will contain a thorough analysis of this evidence.

81. Cf. Le chasseur noir (n.7) 197-9, Black Hunter (n.7) 145-7 and, most recently, Osborne, R., Demos. The discovery of classical Attika (1985) 154–72.

82. Cf. Winkler, J. J., ‘The ephebe's song; tragôida and polis’, Representations 11 (1985) 2762; esp. 32-5.

83. P. 63 n.3.

84. Le Philoctète de Sophocle et l'ephébie’, Annales E. S. C. 26 (1971) 623–38 ( = Tragedy and myth 175-99).

85. This is a suggestion of Yangos Adreadis who has promised to develop it.

86. Cf. Segal, C., Dionysiac poetics and Euripides' Bacchae (1982) 189201.

87. Cf. di Benedetto (n.23) 115-36; Winnington-Ingram, R. P., ‘SophocleaBICS 16 (1979) 1-12, pp. 1011. I shall make a detailed reply to these two papers (among others) in a forthcoming essay.

88. Filottete delle galassie’, Sigma 7 (1981) 1525.

89. This book was translated into both Italian and French, and it is the French version with which I am familiar.

90. I am here indebted to M. Casevitz.

91. Cf. Schol. Pind. Pyth 2.127, Hesychius s.v. πυρρίχα, πυρρίχας, πυρριχίζειν, Diomedes, Ars grammatica 3 (in Grammatici Latini 1.475), Lucian, , De saltatione 9.

92. Andromache 1135; cf. Pouilloux, J. in Pouilloux, J. et Roux, G., Énigmes à Delphes (1963) 117.

93. On Eurypylus cf. Pausanias 3.26.9, Hyginus, , Fab. 112, Strabo 13.584.

94. Laws 7.796b-c; cf. also Athenaeus 14.631c, Άριστόξενος δέ φησιν ώς οἰ παλαιοί γυμναζόμενοι πρῶτον ἐν τῆι γυμνοπαιδίκηι εἰς τὴν πυρρίχην ἐχώρουν πρὸ τοῦ εἰσιέναι εἰς τὸ θέατρον.

95. On the pyrrhikhe cf. Poursat, J. C., BCH 92 (1968) 550615, and particularly Scarpi, P., Dialoghi di archeologia n.s. 1 (1979) 7897.

96. He was still a νεανίας at the time of his death at Andr. 1104.

97. Morel, J. P., REL 47 (1969) 208–52; cf. also the other papers by Morel, J. P. quoted in The black hunter (n.7) 347–8.

98. Morel relies heavily on Eberle, O., Cenalora. Leben, Glaube, Tanz und Theater der Urvölker (1955).

99. Cf. n.82 above.

100. I must, however, admit that I am proud to be the originator of such a valiant enterprise.

101. HA 7.581a21-7, GA 5.787b32-8a.

102. Aristotle in fact opposes τραγίζειν to the practice of choral song (HA cited in n. 101).

103. Winkler (n. 82) 47-8.

104. ARV 2 1336, frequently reproduced, e.g. Pickard-Cambridge, A., The dramatic festivals of Athens2 (1968) fig. 49, Seaford, R., Euripides: Cyclops (1984) fig. III.

105. David Lewis informs me that he believes it to be the description of a dithyrambic chorus.

106. This will be demonstrated in a forthcoming paper by F. Lissarrague.

107. In his valuable edition of the Cyclops (n.104) 3.

108. Winkler (n.82) 39.

109. Cyclops (n. 104) 33-6.

110. So Detienne (n.65) 123.

111. Cf., e.g., Mythe et epopée (1968) 63–5, Heur et malheur du guerrier3 (1985) 140, 161–8.

112. Strangely enough, in Mitra-Varuna2 (1948) 4854 Dumézil draws a parallel between Luperci and Flamines as between iuniores and seniores. He takes it for granted that the Luperci belong to the first function, while quoting Valerius Maximus 2.2 who defines them as equestris ordinis iuuentus (49). I wonder if this should not be reassessed. I thank John Scheid for documentation on these topics.

113. Davidson, O. M., ‘The crown-bestower in the Iranian book of Kings’, Papers in honour of Professor Mary Boyle (1985) 61148, esp. 81-7.

114. For an attempt to link the Greek data, and particularly the analysis of the ‘Black Hunter’, to Indo-European studies cf. Briquel (n.72).

1 This is a revised version of The Corbett Lecture, delivered at Cambridge on 2 May, 1986. During this visit to Cambridge I saw Moses and Mary Finley for the last time. My warmest thanks go to the Faculty Board of Classics for this invitation and to Iris Hunter and my friend Geoffrey Lloyd for checking my English. Publication of this paper was assisted by a grant from The Corbett Fund.

The Black Hunter revisited1

  • Pierre Vidal-Naquet


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