Hesiod And The Cosmological Tradition

As presented in the Theogony, Eros' activity is closely related to the sphere of mortals and anthropomorphic gods, but his role and function are those of a primeval element among two other, non-anthropomorphic principles: Chaos and Gaia. In order to resolve this ambiguity, which is also reflected in the god's second appearance as Aphrodite's companion (Theog. 201f.), scholars suggested that there were originally two different traditions of the god which Hesiod has combined: Eros the cosmic principle and Eros the love-god.75 More recent scholarship has denied the idea of two parallel traditions, suggesting that the role of the "cosmic Eros" is not different from the "divinized desire . . . defined by the poets."76 I will argue that one cannot distinguish between two types of Eros, but that different genres focus on different aspects of one and the same phenomenon. Whereas cosmogonic sources (including Orphic literature) display the reproductive aspect of desire, lyric and tragedy display the negative, destructive side of it, since it is often unfulfilled. We find this last aspect indicated in Od. 18,212f., whereas the above-mentioned passages in the Iliad do not suggest that "desire" does any harm. But here too "desire" is not associated with reproduction.

I begin with the evidence for a phenomenon comparable to Eros in other cosmogonic sources and will then examine Eros' function in the context of the Theogony. A survey of cosmogonic or theogonic literature shows that Hesiod's work is not the only one of its kind, but representative of a traditional and widespread type.77 Although it is the earliest extant Greek example, the Theogony belongs to an already traditional poetic genre.78 Cosmogonic and theogonic myths which describe the origin of the world and the gods are found everywhere, but Hesiod's Theogony seems to be particularly influenced by the

Near East, as similar motifs in Egyptian, Babylonian or Hebrew literature suggest. For the cosmic sections in Hesiod, parallels may be found especially in Phoenician myths.79

Similarities between the Theogony and older Near-Eastern myths recounting the succession of rulers, including the motif of the castration of the sky god and the swallowing of descendants, have been recognized as regards their narrative structure.80 The parallels of the genealogical sections and the succession myths in Hesiod in particular with the Hittite Song of Kumarbi are evident: Anu, the God of Heaven (Uranus), is castrated by his son Kumarbi (Cronus), whose reign is threatened by his son Teshub (the equivalent of Zeus as the weather god). When Kumarbi wants to devour him, he receives a stone instead, as does Cronus in the Theogony. Thus they have the following points in common: the sequence of the gods Anu, Kumarbi and Teshub is paralleled by Uranus, Cronus and Zeus. Anu has his genitals cut off as does Uranus.81 An Akkadian text from Babylon, the cosmogonic epic Enuma Elish, also shows correspondences with the Theogony, but these are not as close as those of the Theogony with the Hittite epic. Both epics commence with a pair of primeval parents: Apsu and Tiamat, Uranus and Gaia. Each pair has children who cannot be born because their father hates them and so they are trapped inside their mother until a couragous and wise brother liberates them.82

However, close as these similarities in the narrative structure are, neither of the two epics provides a parallel for the first things that came into being in the context of the Theogony: Chaos, Tartarus and Eros. The Near-Eastern epics discussed so far do not seem to have had a primeval force, a generative principle like Eros in the Theogony. The Song of Kumarbi starts, after an invocation of diverse gods, with the reign of Alalu, omitting, as does Enuma Elish, a genealogical part.83 In what follows I will discuss Near-Eastern cosmogonic and theogonic myths which have an element that is analogous to Eros among their primeval entities and whose main motifs are paralleled in Hesiod.84

It has been acknowledged that a primeval element equivalent to Eros is a traditional feature in the cosmogonic genre, a power without which creation could not happen.85 It seems therefore very unlikely that Hesiod himself could have invented such a motif. There is in particular one cosmologic tradition in which a phenomenon similar to Eros, and also Chaos, is among the first elements: the Phoenician tradition.86 But from what source could Hesiod have become acquainted with cosmogonic ideas? It need not have been a written source, as he could easily have received this information through oral tradition. Considering the lively exchange which took place between Greece and Phoenicia during the period of the "orientalizing revolution", Hesiod could easily have heard various foreign myths and stories from Phoenician merchants.87 Besides, underlying the Greek cosmogonic accounts starting from Hesiod, Pherecydes of Syrus, the Orphic theogonies, and the philosophical concepts of the Presocratics there seems to have been an originally Phoenician core, or even an earlier "Near-Eastern" archetype consisting of elements that occur regularly.88 In the following I will distinguish between three different sources recounting a Phoenician tradition. These sources are most likely to promote an old tradition, but this cannot be proved with certainty. Firstly, there are late, mainly Neoplatonic accounts recording a Phoenician cosmogony (1st category):

i) Eudemus' "Sidonian" version, paraphrased by the Neoplatonist Damascius,89

ii) Mochos' version, which differs slightly from Eudemus concerning its primeval entities,90 iii) Philo of Byblos who in his Phoenician History claims to give a translation of an authentic Phoenician source, the work of Sanchuniathon of Beirut.91 Orphic literature (2nd category) does not explicitly refer to Phoenician models, but is certainly influenced by them.92 An additional group encompasses manifestations of Greek cosmogonies which also draw on Eastern material (3rd category). Among them, Hesiod's cosmogony is the earliest Greek source to show such traces. Next to Hesiod, it is in Pherecydes of Syrus' oeuvre that the Near-Eastern myth of the oriental god of Unaging Time, Chronos, first appears (before the mid-6th century BC). The cosmic egg is first documented in the earliest theogonies attributed to Orpheus which have been dated to the late 6th or early 5th century. From this egg either Heaven and Earth emerge, or—a constant motif in subsequent Orphic literature—Eros, alias Protogonos or Phanes. The Orphic theogonies in particular seem to draw on Eastern motifs, as the early example of a parody in Aristophanes' Birds conveys. According to M.L. West, its motifs may be traced back to a 7th-century Phoenician cosmogony.93

Hesiod's setting of Eros among the first elements together with Chaos (Theog. 116) and its descendants Erebos and Nyx (123) is paralleled in the Phoenician tradition. This is suggested by the frequency and consistency with which they occur in all three categories defined above. M.L. West gives an overview of those motifs which are common in Greek versions and those which seem to reflect a Phoenician tradition. They perhaps go back to a more widespread Near-Eastern archetype. At least three out of nine motifs appear in the cosmic section of the Theogony.94 There is a "primeval watery abyss" in the theogony attributed to Orpheus and in Philo's translation of Sanchuniathon's work; the term used for the phenomenon by "Orpheus" is "Chasma", Philo refers to "Chaos", which we also have in Hesiod.95 The "primeval darkness" which occurs in Orpheus, Epimenides, Aristophanes and Sanchuniathon seems to be the same as Erebos in the Theogony. Whereas the roles of the wind, the god Time, and the cosmic egg cannot be paralleled in the Theogony, one might conjecture that Hesiod's Eros has his predecessor in the personified Desire of the Phoenician tradition, which is reflected in the works of Eudemus and Sachuniathon. Therefore, assuming that Desire was an established element in those accounts, it is very unlikely that Eudemus' or Philo's accounts, or the texts reflecting Orphic ideas (such as the parody in Aristophanes' Birds) would have simply drawn on the Theogony when featuring Eros (or his equivalents Phanes or Protogonos).96

The authenticity of Eudemus' "Sidonian" cosmogony has been disputed because it was quoted by Damascius, a Neoplatonist, and is therefore suspected of having been influenced and amplified by him. The discussion of the quality of Philo's translation of Sanchuniathon's work also has a long history in classical scholarship, with assessments ranging from "authentic" to "Hellenistic pastiche".97 It seems, however, quite likely that the personified Desire is an authentic element within cosmogonic myths, given its well-founded position within various cosmic contexts and its interaction with the other elements which cannot have been inspired by Hesiod. In the following section which focuses on the depiction of Desire in the Phoenician accounts I will discuss in what aspects the Hesiodic Eros is deficient, and in which ways it differs, when compared with Phoenician Desire. Perhaps the question of why Eudemus and Philo may have chosen the appellation "n69oq" instead of Eros is interconnected. I suggest they did it in order to contrast him with the Hesiodic Eros.98

The "Sidonian" version of the Peripatetic Eudemus of Rhodes (fr. 150 Wehrli) is paraphrased in Damascius:99

"The Sidonians set Time (Xp6vov) before anything else and Pothos (n60ov) and Darkness ('0^ixAr|v); from the union of Pothos and Darkness Aer (Aip) and Aura (Aupa) come into being, and again from those two an egg."

Thus the first three primordial entities are Time, Desire and Darkness, but only the latter two become active in the creation of the cosmos. Desire is imagined as an active element operating on a static one, Darkness. Their union is described in sexual terms (^lysvtwv), and the result is the egg from which other phenomena emerge. This cosmogonic myth shares with Hesiod's Theogony two primeval elements, Desire and Darkness, but it is at the same time different, as Desire becomes explicitly productive and participates in the act of creation by creating itself. In comparison, Eros' activity in the cosmic process of the Theogony hardly comes to the fore. It is not easy to see why Hesiod did not integrate the god and his activity properly into the cosmogonic system. One might assume that he was more interested in the theogonies of anthropomorphic gods.100

The other cosmogonic source of Phoenician origin relevant for its parallels with Hesiod's primordial principles is the work which has been attributed to Sanchuniathon of Beirut, a Phoenician whose lifetime is set before the Trojan war; he is said to have collected diverse histories and traditions in various cities. We possess parts of the Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos (64-140 AD) which claims to give a Greek translation of this text.101 That there are genuine Phoenician ideas behind Philo's testimony has been generally accepted, on their date, however, scholars disagree.102 Most recently, A. Baumgarten has ar gued that Philo's own age (he lived in the Hadrianic period) and environment significantly shaped the Phoenician History. Hesiod's direct influence has also been taken into account by him.103

However, it seems unlikely that Philo should have had Hesiod in mind when introducing Chaos or Pothos in his cosmogony. As it turns out, their definition and function are far more developed and complex there than in the Hesiodic version. In the Phoenician cosmogony, Philo "posits at the origin of all things the murky, boundless air [or a blast of dark-colored air] and the muddy and gloomy chaos. These elements were infinite and remained without boundaries for a long time. But, he says, when the wind fell in love with its own beginnings and a commixture came into being, this synthesis was called Pothos."104

t^v twv oXwv apx^v unotiGstai aspa Kal nvsu^arwSri [^

nvo^v aspoq (o^wSouq]105 Kal xaoq GoAspov Eps^wSsq- tauta 5s slvai ansipa Kal Sia noAuv alwva ^ sxsiv nspaq. «ots 5s» ^r|aiv «^paaGr| to nvsu^a twv IStwv apx«v, Kal eysvsto auYKpaaiq, ^ nXoK^ EKsiv^

The reason why Philo refers to Pothos, not—as one might have expected from EpaaGai—Eros, may be that he wanted to distinguish the merely cosmic Desire from Eros, who in Hesiod, as his attributes suggest, was not exclusively cosmic. This aspect of Eros seems to become less and less important from the late Archaic period onwards. On the other hand EpaaGai may have been given preference over noGsiv because of its stronger sexual implication.106

We find a cosmic element similar to the wind not in the Theogony, but in two other accounts of Phoenician cosmogonies where the role of the air is likewise distinctly defined: in that of Eudemus who, however, posits it in the second stage of the cosmogonic process (see above), and that of Mochos.107 Moreover, here too the wind itself participates in procreation. In Philo, the wind generates Pothos by self-eroticism (which may even imply a demiurgic function), whereas in Mochos, wind together with AlGr|p creates OuXw^oq, the Phoenician equivalent of Time.108 Thus Philo's text undeniably contains elements that suggest a genuine Phoenician origin.

This is also true for Xaoq, as it too is found in the old Orphic theogony (Orph. fr. 66a/b Kern), where, however, it is called Xaa^a. Moreover, Xaoq is paralleled in Hesiod, where it remains similarly undefined as regards its activity and functions.109 As we have seen, this also holds true for Eros, who in his origin and function as a cosmic principle is not very clear-cut in Hesiod either. In this respect he is very different from his equivalent Pothos in the Phoenician source. Pothos' evidently more intricate involvement in the process of cosmic creation, specifically his role as an actively creating principle is not only different, but even, as I hope to demonstrate, the very opposite of Eros' in the Theogony. In Eudemus, together with Xpovoq and 'O^ix^n, Pothos is one of the three primordial entities which are not created. In this respect, Pothos is similar to Hesiod's Eros. However, whereas Pothos, by mixing with 'O^ix^r, becomes explicitly active himself in the process of reproduction (their progeny are Äip and Aupa), Eros' activity is never developed or made explicit by Hesiod; it is only provided by his position. On the other hand, the motif of Eros' giving birth to himself occurs as a common feature not only in the Orphic theogonies, as Aristophanes' parody suggests (see below), but even earlier in Pherecydes, when Zeus transforms himself into Eros in order to create the universe.110 In those examples Eros is evidently credited with a positive, demiurgic function. In Philo, similarly, Pothos stands at the beginning of everything (^ nXoK^ £Kdvr| £KÄi0n n69oq. autr Se apx^ KtiCTEwq anavtwv); however, unlike Hesiod's Eros, he is not primeval, but created as a result of the wind's self-fructification.111

This complex motif certainly cannot be Philo's own fancy, since it occurs in several other cosmogonic accounts; although these are not Phoenician, they also originate in the Near East. U. Hölscher has compared the poetic style of Philo's account with the beginning of Genesis, and a parallel has also been seen in the primeval elements, Darkness and Chaos, and in the way in which the winds become active there.112 For it says (1:2): "and darkness was above the abyss and the wind (of god) flapped against the waters".113 The association of Pothos and the wind's self-eroticism can also be discovered in the Ugaritic myth of Baal. L. Clapham has argued on linguistic and narrative grounds that a phenomenon similar to the Pothos in Philo's account of Sanchuniathon is found there as well.114 In text 62:50 we learn that Baal of Ugarit who is, like the winds, a cosmogonic creator, assaults the waters, as a result of which ars (identified with arsu, which is the equivalent to Greek n60oq) comes into being and from then on lives in the waters.115 The association of Pothos and the winds (which, like Pothos' role of a creative agent, is very probably authentic) is not elaborated at all in Hesiod, but Orphic literature seems to be particularly influenced by these ideas, as numerous examples show: Pothos (alias Phanes, Protogonos or Eros) is also endowed with a demiurgic function.116

This can be seen even more clearly in Aristophanes' parody in Birds of a cosmogony which has been classified as the "ancient version" of an Orphic theogony.117 It also shows similarities with the version transmitted by Philo. Considering the different genres, however, it seems very unlikely that he would have borrowed from the parody of a comic poet. One might in this case rather assume that Aristophanes and Philo both refer to motifs of a tradition indebted to earlier Phoenician concepts which were then adopted by the Orphic tradition. The relevance of the contextual similarities with Philo and Orphic texts has not been accepted by the most recent commentator on Birds, N. Dunbar, who considers the birds' theogony to be mainly influenced by Greek literary sources. Thus she sees the main model here in the theogony composed by Hesiod.118

In the Birds, Peisetaerus persuades the birds to seize control of the air and thus become the new gods for human beings and the Olympians alike by building a city in the air. A wall, built around this city, should cut the Olympians off from the food they receive from men's sacrifices. The parabasis, performed by the chorus of birds, is entirely integrated into the plot of the action. The birds, by tracing their origins directly back to Eros, who is represented as one of the first entities creating the universe, legitimize their claim to be the divine rulers.

According to Birds (693-700) the world began with Chaos, Night, the dark Erebos and the broad Tartarus (693):119

Xaoq r|v Kal Nu^ "EpsPoq ts ^¿Aav npwtov Kal Taptapoq supuq-

This type of primeval stage is paralleled, as we have seen above, in the Phoenician versions, since Xaoq is also found in Philo, and "EpsPoq occurs in Philo and Eudemus (here called 'O^ix^r). They are also represented in various later sources collected as the so-called Orphic theogonies, in which Nu^, as a first generation god, played a particular part—in Hesiod Nu^ is born as child of Chaos and Erebos and therefore belongs to the next-generation of elements.120 Thus Chaos and Tartarus correspond only with Hesiod's primordial entities. I would therefore argue that the combination and succession in Birds and the Orphic texts suggest that Hesiod was not Aristophanes' main source, particularly as Hesiod numbers Gaia amongst the first entities, whereas in Birds the non-existence of Gaia, Aer and Uranus is pointedly asserted (694a):

Moreover, the fact that Gaia and Uranus are absent at the beginning of things is paralleled in Near-Eastern and Orphic cosmogony.121

The second stage of the cosmic creation in Birds also diverges considerably from that of the Theogony. The process of creation begins with Nu^. "She gives birth to the first of all beings in the boundless recesses of Erebos: an egg (having wind underneath) from which, when the seasons came round, Eros, who inspires longing, leapt out, sparkling with golden wings on his back, very much like wind-swift whirlings" (694b-697):122

KoXnoiq tlkt£l npamatov unr|V£^iov Nu£ ^ ^sXavontspoq wov, ¿^ ou nspiteXXo^svaiq wpaiq spXaatsv "Epwq o noGavoq, CTtiX^wv vwtov ntspuyoiv xpuaaiv, s'lKwq avs^wKsai Stvaiq.

Here, Eros does not belong to the first non-created generation of gods, but emerges as a child of Nu^ from the cosmic wind-egg and is described in considerable detail which is paralleled in Phoenician sources. Eros' association with the egg and the golden wings fits the context of the Birds superbly since it is the aim of the animals to trace back their origin to a worthy ancestor. However, those motifs are not Aristophanes' invention, but taken from cosmogonic myth. That Eros is not primeval is paralleled in the tradition recorded in Philo. There Pothos is also the result of fructification. In Eudemus, Pothos is primeval, but he actively participates in the process of reproduction, as does Aristophanes' Eros when we hear in the following that he mates with the winged Chaos and "produced as chicks" the birds' race (698-9):

ouroq 5s Xasi ntsposvti ^lysiq vuxiw Kara Taptapov supuv

EvsottsuCTsv ysvoq ^¿rspov, Kai nparrov avriyaysv sq ^wq.

Moreover, the race of the immortal gods only then came into being when Eros blended all the things together (700):

npoTspov 5' ouk r|v ysvoq aGavatwv, npiv "Epwq ^uv-s^a^sv anavta-

It would seem, then, that there are at least five characteristics which Eros in Aristophanes shares with Phoenician or Orphic concepts of Desire and which are entirely absent from Hesiod's depiction of Eros. The first thing we learn in Birds concerning Eros is that he sprang out of an egg. An egg is mentioned in Eudemus' "Sidonian" cosmogony, where it is the progeny of Aer and Aura. In Philo the creation is said to be shaped like an egg (Kai avsnAaaGri o^oiwq [. . .] wiou axn^ati), and the third Phoenician account, Mochos, also refers to an egg, which is here the result of Oulomos' self-fructification. The cosmic egg is also a common feature in Orphic literature, as for example in the theogony attributed to Orpheus where Chronos fashions a shining egg (snata 5' stsu^s ^syaq Xpovoq AiGspi 5iwi wsov apyu^sov fr. 70 Kern); elsewhere it says that Phanes (equivalent of Protogonos/Eros) developed inside the egg, enclosed in a bright cloak (fr. 60 Kern).

Eros' association with the wind is documented twice in Birds: the egg from which he emerges is called an unr|v£^iov wov, an egg "having wind underneath" and Eros himself resembles the whirling wind (siKwq avs^wKsai 5ivaiq). The role played by the wind in the process of creation is confirmed not only in all three Phoenician accounts, but also in Hebrew cosmogonic tradition, which knew the wind as a creative power as we have seen above. The link between Eros and the winds seems to have become an Orphic motif too: a scholium on Argonautica 3,26 mentions a cosmogony in which Chronos gave birth to Eros and all the winds.123

Eros' demiurgic function, which is made explicit in Aristophanes' parody, is also paralleled in Phoenician and Orphic accounts; we find it again in some Greek philosophers' writings, e.g. in Pherecydes, Parmenides and Empedocles. This aspect is not developed at all in Hesiod, but is merely implied by the position the poet ascribes to Eros; we learn nothing about the way he operates, and, paradoxically, his epithet Xuai^sX^q suggests that he is destructive and therefore the opposite of a creative power.

The only physical and visual details referred to by Aristophanes are Eros' wings: his back is "shining with golden wings" (atiXpwv vwtov ntspuyoiv Xpuoaiv 697). They are referred to again later (o 5' a^iGaA^q "Epwq / Xpuoontspoq 1737f.) and may have been inspired by those of other mythical figures such as Iris, who, as we have seen, is golden-winged in epic, or Hypnos and Thanatos, who are usually depicted as winged in the literature and iconography discussed earlier. However, the motif of the wings also occurs subsequently in Orphic writings, since at least two Orphic fragments provide evidence that Phanes, Eros' equivalent, has a golden skin (fr. 86,4 Kern) or, as in Aristophanes, golden wings on which he flies to and fro (fr. 78 Kern). Even though the sources which transmit the text are later than Aristophanes, this does not necessarily mean that the motifs are later as well.124 Therefore the assumption that "Aristophanes' language may itself have influenced later cos-mogonic literature rather than vice versa" has to be considered with care.125 The motif of the wings in its slightly altered versions is far too frequent in different Orphic fragments for one to assume that they are all Hellenistic variations of an Aristophanic invention.

It seems likely that this element is, if not originally embedded, at least foreshadowed in Near-Eastern thought: the motif of the wings is not separable from that of the wind. This combination is also clearly echoed in Birds (697). Perhaps the originally Near-Eastern idea of the association between desire and wind—as suggested in the Phoenician accounts as well as in Genesis—has been developed further by later Orphic poets and envisaged as an Eros or Phanes endowed with wings. That Aristophanes of all poets provided the source and motif for Orphic cosmogonic literature in Birds (produced at the City Dionysia in 414 BC) is in fact unlikely. There were other poets earlier than he who depicted Eros with golden shining wings: Anacreon and, fourteen years before Birds, Euripides in Hippolytus.126 One would in this case assume that it is more likely that the Orphic writers combined the early poetic, non-cosmogonic image of Eros' wings, which is foreshadowed already in epic, with that of the Near-Eastern cosmogonic motif of desire's relationship with the wind.

This synthesis allows us to draw some conclusions. As it turns out, Hesiod is not likely to be the source for Philo's, Eudemus' or Aristophanes' cosmo-gonic accounts. In fact, it would seem that they are all influenced by original Near-Eastern concepts, as was Hesiod. Those Greek accounts purporting Phoenician cosmogonic ideas use the term "Pothos", which may be the equiva lent of Hebrew ruah, the unpersonified cosmic desire clearly associated with the wind.127 The peculiarity of Hesiod's Eros in Theogony, however, is that though he holds the position of Pothos, he does not seem to develop a cosmic activity, which is at most implied by his position. He does not mix primeval elements, nor is he himself involved in any process of creating or reproducing. His characterization, as conveyed by the epithet and the relative clause, corresponds completely with his second appearance as Aphrodite's companion (Theog. 201ff.). Here he is conceived of as an erotic personification representing an aspect of an Olympian deity, Aphrodite, in much the same way as, for example, Deimos and Phobos are related to Ares. His attribute Xuai^sX^q actually describes the effect of the emotion "desire" in the way it is perceived by the Greeks; his activity of "conquering all gods and men alike" (Theog. 122f.) corresponds to that of other Olympian deities (Zeus or Aphrodite). As a result, this Eros appears to be a conglomerate, a poetic fiction combining the function of a cosmic primordial entity with the looks and activities of an Olympian deity. As such Hesiod's Eros is, according to our literary evidence, unique. Two details are noteworthy: The relative clause does not convey a cosmic demiurgic function, but relates to Eros' activity among anthropomorphic gods and men. Paradoxically, the creative function even seems to be negated by the fact that he is Auai^sAriq, which connotes closeness to death, as argued above. This more negative aspect of Eros, which becomes characteristic in lyric poetry and tragedy, is prefigured, although not elaborated, in Hesiod.

In Aristophanes, however, Eros' role as a cosmic god is emphasized by his participation in the act of creation and recalls the idea of "desire" as an unpersonified power of reproduction. The visualisation of Eros is strongly influenced by epic and also Orphic motifs—a process, however, which already seems to have started before Aristophanes, as the motif of the wings suggests.

M.L. West argued that Orphic motifs have in general not been taken up in the poetic tradition, since they remained limited to the mystery cults and doctrines of the Orphic sphere.128 On the other hand, it seems that in this case the trajectory was from the poetic tradition to the Orphic sphere. The motifs and imagery which the lyric poets used when they mythologized Eros as the Greek love-god also occur in the later Orphic writings, which, however, are not earlier than the late 6th century BC.129 Eros' gold-shining wings are a constant motif in the Orphic writings, but are, as has been shown, certainly attested earlier and inspired by epic features. Thus lyric and no doubt other forms of poetry seem to have provided material for the imagery for the Orphic tradition. The description of Eros "who had come from heaven dressed in a purple mantle" (sAGovt' ¿^ opavw nop^upiav nspGs^svov x^a^uv) in Sappho (fr. 54 V.) could be linked with a fragment (fr. 60 Kern), where Phanes, inside an egg, is enclosed in a bright tunic or cloud: to kuov wiov tov Gsov, ^ tov apY^ta xitwva, ^ t^v v£^sXr|v, otl ¿k toutwv ¿KGpwaKa o Oavr|?. The Phoenician tradition may have been a common source for both the lyric poems and the Orphic writings.

Those early lyric images which relate Eros' activity directly to the wind are obvious parallels for the cosmogonic association of wind and desire.130

Eros thus has many facets and is a mixture of different elements. Where cosmic functions are concerned, Eros is influenced by the implications of the Near-Eastern unpersonified desire. The demiurgic function (which was unfolded in detail not in Hesiod, but in Aristophanes or in the philosophical concept of Pherecydes) also bears traces of the Orphic Phanes or Protogonos. But the connotation of spwq as a human (or divine) emotion and its epic descriptions have also contributed to the image of the male love-god: related to the actual meaning of spwq, he is characterized as an erotic personification, representing an aspect of Aphrodite's province; this aspect comes clearly to the fore when he is called Xuai^sX^q or assumes Aphrodite's activity of subduing gods and men. Eros' visual characteristics, the wings, go back to the lyric poets, who already visualized the god with golden wings or wearing a purple cloak—motifs which the Orphic poets adopted to depict the cosmic Eros.

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Responses

  • julia
    How does aristophanes parody the opening of hesiod's theogony?
    11 months ago

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