Friday, June 27, 2014

A tourist arrives in Ithaka

Since we're thinking about Homer's epics in connection with Heroides I, it was good to find a brief note in sententiae antiquae (Bons mots from ancient Greek and Roman authors) that brings us back to the Odyssey.

We are reminded that Odysseus arrives in his native land in Book 13 -- the center of the poem. It will take him all 12 remaining books to fully arrive, as himself, to the peace at the center of his home.

Upon waking, he has no idea where he is, or that he is, in fact, on Ithaka. sententiae notes the reversal that comes with his first encounter:
mournfully longing for his native land, [220] he paced by the shore of the loud-sounding sea, uttering many a moan. And Athena drew near him in the form of a young man, a herdsman of sheep, one most delicate, as are the sons of princes.
He is in a mist, a spell from Athena. Everything, including the goddess, seems strange, but isn't.
In a double fold about her shoulders she wore a well-wrought cloak, [225] and beneath her shining feet she had sandals, and in her hands a spear. Then Odysseus was glad at sight of her, and came to meet her, and he spoke, and addressed her with winged words: “Friend, since thou art the first to whom I have come in this land, hail to thee, and mayst thou meet me with no evil mind. [230] Nay, save this treasure, and save me; for to thee do I pray, as to a god, and am come to thy dear knees. And tell me this also truly, that I may know full well. What land, what people is this? What men dwell here? Is it some clear-seen island, or a shore [235] of the deep-soiled mainland that lies resting on the sea?”
Athena playfully plays the tourism official, speaking to the king of Ithaka as if he were a hopeless dimwit from some dark land:
Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him: “A fool art thou, stranger, or art come from far, if indeed thou askest of this land. Surely it is no wise so nameless, but full many know it, [240] both all those who dwell toward the dawn and the sun, and all those that are behind toward the murky darkness. It is a rugged isle, not fit for driving horses, yet it is not utterly poor, though it be but narrow. Therein grows corn beyond measure, and the wine-grape as well, [245] and the rain never fails it, nor the rich dew. It is a good land for pasturing goats and kine; there are trees of every sort, and in it also pools for watering that fail not the year through. Therefore, stranger, the name of Ithaka has reached even to the land of Troy which, they say, is far from this land of Achaea.”
Did you ever notice how local newspapers that publish on the Internet rarely indicate what state they are located in? They're the "Ithaca Times," or the "Star Herald," no need to say New York, or Maine, because of course everyone who reads that paper knows where they are. Storytellers are always at the omphalos, the center of "the" world.

It's wonderful how Homer brings Odysseus home the moment he finishes telling the tale of his voyages to "mighty Alcinous." He'd brought his Phaeacian listeners around the world to places strange, far off, and marvelous. Now, waking from the deep sleep in which he was borne home, he is that listener, utterly ignorant, unable to recognize his homeland.

The journey to full recognition - by his nurse, his dog, his son, his swineherd, his enemies, his father, and finally his wife - becomes the second half of his odyssey. It builds to a perfect pitch during the inquest (or close reading) he is subjected to by Penelope in Book 23:
. . . she went down from the upper chamber, and much her heart pondered whether she should stand aloof and question her dear husband, or whether she should go up to him, and clasp and kiss his head and hands. But when she had come in and had passed over the stone threshold, she sat down opposite Odysseus in the light of the fire [90] beside the further wall; but he was sitting by a tall pillar, looking down, and waiting to see whether his noble wife would say aught to him, when her eyes beheld him. Howbeit she sat long in silence, and amazement came upon her soul; and now with her eyes she would look full upon his face, and now again [95] she would fail to know him, for that he had upon him mean raiment.. . .
Telemachos: “My mother, cruel mother, that hast an unyielding heart, why dost thou thus hold aloof from my father . . .?"

Penelope: “. . . if in very truth he is Odysseus, and has come home, we two shall surely know one another . . ."

 . . . and the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus smiled . . .
We might want to re-read this as we think about Penelope's letter to the man whose identity she will take her time to recognize.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The textual intimacy of Penelope

Ovid begins his book of love letters with Penelope, writing to her husband whose fate is unknown. As she explains, she heard much of the tale of Troy from her son, Telemachus, who got it from Nestor. She got some information from Menalaos as well. Ovid, then, is grounding his poem in Homer -- the news of the war that is the Iliad, and fragments of the fate of Ulysses after Troy fell, which set the scene in the early books of the Odyssey.

So Penelope's letter is full of references to the two epics, and we could do worse than refresh our memory of some of the key characters and scenes that she mentions, as here:
And he told of Rhesus and Dolon dead by your sword,
so that one was betrayed by sleep, the other by guile.
It was brave, oh you, who are more and more forgetful of your own,
to enter the Thracian camp, with night’s deception,
and kill so many men, with the help of one!
Then you were truly cautious, and thinking first of me!
My heart shook all the time, with fear, while my dear hero
was depicted, riding through the army on Ismarus’s horses.
The tale of Rhesus and Dolon (known as the Doloneia) takes place in book 10 of the Iliad, and concerns a night raid that Diomedes and Odysseus carry out. They capture and interrogate Dolon, a  Trojan spy (dressed as a wolf), then use his information to kill Rhesus, a rich king newly arrived to the war. It's a terrific episode of guile, Odyssean quick wittedness, and double-dealing. Apart from its value in the epic, we might think about why Penelope includes it in her letter.

Penelope also mentions minor characters, like Tlepolemos, a son of Herakles who dies at the hands of Sarpedon, and Antilochus, the youngest son of Nestor, whose best known feat, dying to save his father's life, isn't in the Iliad, but is remembered in Pindar's 6th Pythian:
Long ago, too, powerful Antilochus showed that he had this way of thinking; [30] he died for his father's sake, by awaiting the man-slaying commander of the Ethiopians, Memnon. For the horse kept Nestor's chariot from moving, since it had been wounded by Paris' arrows; and Memnon was aiming his strong spear. [35] The old man of Messene, his mind reeling, shouted to his son; the cry he hurled did not fall to the ground; his god-like son stayed on the spot and paid for his father's rescue with his own life, [40] and because he accomplished this tremendous deed he seemed to the younger men to be the greatest man of his time in excellence towards his parents.
It seems that Penelope was acquainted with the fates of characters even Homer doesn't include in his narrative!

Also, Penelope's letter is not celebrating the heroic life, as Pindar does in his Odes. If anything, as she weaves her web alone, far from the action, she speaks as the end term, the destination, of Ulysses. She is what was there before he left to help take Helen back, and she'll be there to hear the stories upon his return. But is she simply an auditor, waiting for the heroic song to arrive?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chronic dyspepsia in Olympian 1

Pindar's First Olympian has several interesting motifs. This is about one of them: digestion. The ode begins with a banquet honoring Hieron, and swiftly moves to the somewhat less felicitous feast of Tantalos, though Pindar's version of events swerves from the grisly tales of other poets.

Pindar begins by protesting his own innocence - he would never dishonor a god:
For me it is impossible to call one of the blessed gods a glutton. I stand back from it.
The word for "glutton" is γαστρίμαργον, (gastro: stomach.)

At Hieron's feast, the assembled guests have the "sweetest thoughts" (γλυκυτάταις ἔθηκε φροντίσιν) thanks to the grace of Pisa and of Pherenikos, Hieron's horse. χάριςor grace, is a potent word that contains beauty, favor, and goodwill, as well as some show of kindness that gains gratitude, and thus can act as a charm, or influence.

As the charmed guests sing and toast Hieron at his feast, Pindar sings of that arch-feast to which Tantalos invited the gods, to reciprocate their grace:
If indeed the watchers of Olympus ever honored a mortal man, [55] that man was Tantalus. But he was not able to digest his great prosperity, and for his excess he seized overpowering ruin, which the Father hung over him: a mighty stone.

Pindar makes a punning joke. This raising up of Tantalos by the "watchers of Olympus" was a bit too rich for Tantalos, who couldn't keep it down. The word Pindar uses, καταπέσσω, is not a metaphor. It simply means "to digest." 

What Tantalos couldn't digest was the μέγαν ὄλβονthe great happiness that he was enjoying among the gods. According to one version of the tale, when they discovered he had cooked them up his son, Pelops, they were horrified - it was an indigestible thing (except for Demeter, who nibbled absentmindedly, hence the ivory shoulder).

Great happiness can be as indigestible as great horror, Pindar tells the happy peers of Hieron. Tantalos's error -- κόρῳ -- can mean satiety or surfeit --is perfectly consonant with the gastronomic figure. I have translated it as "excess" to underscore the ethical dimension.
A brief digression . . .
Why does Pindar here call the gods the "watchers of Olympus"? One possibility is that, as we know, they hold Olympus because Zeus defeated his father, Kronos, in a war after Kronos ate, or tried to eat, all his children. (This gastronomic predilection is a bit of a tradition.) The Olympians are always "watchers" because at any time some extraordinary monster, like Typhon, could rise and try to unseat them from their place in the sky. Perhaps Tantalos was trying to emulate Kronos? Or Zeus himself, who ate Metis ("cunning") because of a prophecy that her child would unseat him -- a devouring that led to the birth of Athena.
In any event, angered that Tantalos attempted to share the gods' ambrosia and nectar with mortals, Zeus hangs the stone over Tantalos. The man who found Olympian happiness indigestible now and forever lives beneath it. But the gastronomic imagery continues.

The scene shifts to the night that Pelops, alone, at the edge of the sea, called upon Poseidon:
θανεῖν δ᾽ οἷσιν ἀνάγκατί κέ τις ἀνώνυμον γῆρας ἐν σκότῳ καθήμενος ἕψοι μάταν
Since all men are compelled to die, why should anyone sit stewing an inglorious old age in the darkness, with no share of any fine deeds?
Translator Svarlien's "stewing" is precise. Pelops's word is ἕψοι - which describes the boiling and seething of meat. To Pelops, life itself is a matter of being cooked -- it's only a question of whether one stews in dark anonymity, or steps up:
As for me, on this contest
I will take my stand. 
In taking his stand, Pelops speaks and establishes a position. He posits a place from which the contest is on. ὑποκείσεται literally means to put or set under, and is related to hypothesis. Pelops "takes as given" the possibility that he can defeat Oenomaus with his former lover's help.

For Pelops that "stand" leads to "horses with untiring wings" and a golden chariot -- he has become an image of the sun. The shift from dark ocean's shore to blazing flight and triumph is quick in the telling. Pelops's race launches the games forever linked with his coming of age, his courage, his slaying of the evil father, and his marriage to Hippodameia. The rest, as we say, is history. Now it's Hieron's turn. No winged horse, but the radiant χάρις of Pherenikos. 
τὸ δ᾽ἔσχατον κορυφοῦται βασιλεῦσιμηκέτιπάπταινε πόρσιον
the peak of the farthest limit is for kings. Do not look
beyond that!
To be king is sweet, but
the good of the common day
is the best that comes to every mortal man.

The core of coeur-age

The first Olympian sets the scene for Pelops' address to Poseidon:

near to the gray sea, alone in the darkness, 
he called aloud on the deep-roaring god, 
skilled with the trident; and the god 
appeared to him, close at hand.

Pelops then says:

Since all must die, why should anyone nameless 
sit in the dark, foolishly stewing old age 
with no share in all that is good? As for me, on this contest 
I will take my stand.

Compare Sarpedon's speech that comes near the center of the Iliad (end of Book Twelve):

'Glaukos, why is it you and I are honored before others
with pride of place, the choice meats and the filled wine-cups
in Lykia, and all men look on us as if we were immortals,
and we are appointed a great piece of land by the banks of Xanthos,
good land, orchard and vineyard, and ploughland for the planting of wheat?
Therefore it is our duty in the forefront of the Lykians
to take our stand and bear our part of the blazing of battle,
so that a man of the close-armoured Lykians may say of us,
“Indeed these are no ignoble men who are lords of Lykia,
these kings of ours, who feed upon the fat sheep appointed
and drink the exquisite sweet wine, since indeed there is strength
of valour in them, since they fight in the forefront of the Lykians.”
'Man, supposing you and I, escaping this battle,
would be able to live on forever, ageless, immortal,
so neither would I myself go on fighting in the foremost
nor would I urge you into the fighting where men win glory.
But now, seeing that the spirits of death stand close about us
in their thousands, no man can turn aside nor escape them,
let us go on and win glory for ourselves, or yield it to others.'

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Something of value by virtue of Something

Something by virtue of nothing -- one of my favorite blogs that address the classics -- offers a post entitled Two Retellings of Mythology that speaks very much to a key element that ties together our pair of readings. It addresses how both Pindar and Ovid use myth as an element for the creation and elaboration of their very different themes.

We certainly want to explore the ways myth works in each poem, as we also consider some of the basic polarities. For example, that Pindar speaks to a Tyrant (and what a Tyrant in that moment was - a builder of the polis) about contests, and excellence, and false stories, and χάρις -- grace, favor, that can persuade us of unbelievable things -- while Ovid's Penelope writes to her long absent husband, suspended in uncertainty over his life, fate, fortune (all of which amount to her "reading" of the Iliad) and how this relates to her own destiny.

Very different poems, but in their use of prior art and storytelling, in their reading of myth and Homer, they share a literary act of invention, the retelling, redoubling in the leaves, or folds, of the text:
κλυταῖσι δαιδαλωσέμεν ὕμνων πτυχαῖς  
adorn with the glorious folds of song
Something also provides two more resources for these readings. For Pindar, there's the entire Lattimore translation which can be downloaded as a pdf. For Ovid, Grant Showerman's Loeb edition of the Heroides, with English prose translation. We are grateful to Something's author, as well as to the invaluable work of Open Library, for these.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Olympian I - some context

Great city of Syracuse, Sacred precinct of Ares, plunged deep in war, 
Divine nurse of men and horses who rejoice in steel, 
For you I come from splendid Thebes bringing this song (Pythian 2) 

For those seeking a bit of context for Pindar's 1st Olympian, which is termed an Epinikion, or victory ode, a few links:

Hieron I
Hieron I (Greek: Ἱέρων Α΄) was the son of Deinomenes, the brother of Gelon and tyrant of Syracuse in Sicily from 478 to 467 BC. In succeeding Gelon, he conspired against a third brother Polyzelos. During his reign, he greatly increased the power of Syracuse.
During his reign, he greatly increased the power of Syracuse. He removed the inhabitants of Naxos and Catana to Leontini, peopled Catana (which he renamed Aetna) with Dorians, concluded an alliance with Acragas (Agrigentum) . . .
His most important military achievement was the defeat of the Etruscans and Carthaginians at the Battle of Cumae (474 BC), by which he saved the Greeks of Campania from Etruscan domination. A bronze helmet (now in the British Museum), with an inscription commemorating the event, was dedicated at Olympia
Hieron's reign was marked by the creation of the first secret police in Greek history, but he was a liberal patron of literature and culture. The poets Simonides, Pindar, Bacchylides, Aeschylus, and Epicharmus were active at his court, as well the philosopher Xenophanes. He was an active participant in panhellenic athletic contests, winning several victories in the single horse race and also in the chariot race. He won the chariot race at Delphi in 470 (a victory celebrated in Pindar's first Pythian ode) and at Olympia in 468 (this, his greatest victory, was commemorated in Bacchylides' third victory ode). Other odes dedicated to him include Pindar's first Olympian Ode, his second and third Pythian odes, and Bacchylides' fourth and fifth victory odes.

Pindar's First Pythian

Golden lyre, rightful joint possession of Apollo and the violet-haired Muses, to which the dance-step listens, the beginning of splendid festivity; and singers obey your notes, whenever, with your quivering strings, you prepare to strike up chorus-leading preludes. [5] You quench even the warlike thunderbolt of everlasting fire. And the eagle sleeps on the scepter of Zeus, relaxing his swift wings on either side, the king of birds; and you pour down a dark mist over his curved head, a sweet seal on his eyelids. Slumbering, he ripples his liquid back, [10] under the spell of your pulsing notes.
Even powerful Ares, setting aside the rough spear-point, warms his heart in repose; your shafts charm the minds even of the gods, by virtue of the skill of Leto's son and the deep-bosomed Muses. But those whom Zeus does not love are stunned with terror when they hear the cry of the Pierian Muses, on earth or on the irresistible sea; more...
In ancient Greece, tyrants were influential opportunists that came to power by securing the support of different factions of a deme. The word "tyrannos", possibly pre-Greek, Pelasgian or eastern in origin,[5] then carried no ethical censure; it simply referred to anyone, good or bad, who obtained executive power in a polis by unconventional means. Support for the tyrants came from the growing middle class and from the peasants who had no land or were in debt to the wealthy landowners. It is true that they had no legal right to rule, but the people preferred them over kings or the aristocracy. The Greek tyrants stayed in power by using mercenary soldiers from outside of their respective city-state. To mock tyranny, Thales wrote that the strangest thing to see is "an aged tyrant" meaning that tyrants do not have the public support to survive for long. More.
Gelo (Hieron's brother)
Gelo’s first major contribution to Greek, and more specifically Sicilian, history was the foundation of Syracuse as his capital, which he turned into “the greatest Greek city in the west.” The location of the city itself made it a prime spot for such a role. The city was located on an island, connected to the mainland by a peninsula constructed in the 6th century BC. The city faced east towards the Greek mainland and had its own harbour. 
Gelo constructed a wall that ran from the fort of Achradina on the mainland to the sea, making Syracuse virtually impregnable. Also, by bringing in the wealthy citizens from conquered cities, a tactic never before used in Sicily, he greatly increased the prosperity of the city. He constructed a theatre which improved the city’s culture, and following the victory at Himera, he built an ornate temple dedicated to the goddess Athena
The other great contribution of Gelo was the victory at Himera over the Carthaginians. More.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A few links to upcoming readings:

Ovid's Heroides
Latin only
The Latin Library 
English only:
Kline translation
Theoi Loeb Translation (Showerman) 
Odd: Perseus has a commentary on the Heroides, but not, seemingly, the actual text in either Latin or English.

Pindar's Odes on Perseus
Olympian Odes (Greek and English)

English only - Diane Arnson Svarlien
Printable copy - if this link works for you, it opens an easily printable copy of Pindar's first Olympian.

See also this note about a Wallace Stevens' Penelope.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The sons of Phineus, Fate and blinding in Antigone

The last two strophes of the fifth ode of Antigone enrich the theme that Fate cannot be dodged, outwitted, or subjected to our will.

From Danae's permeable prison in Argos, to Lycurgus's hopeless repression of Bacchus in Thrace -- both touched on here -- the fifth ode moves to Salmydessus and the tale of the sons of Phineus.

It's a tale of a very bad stepmother -- Idaea, or Eidothea, the second wife of Phineus. This king first married Cleopatra, the daughter of Boreas and Orytheia. The choral ode reminds us that Cleopatra was not only high-born, but that through her mother she traced her lineage to Erechtheus -- the first Athenian culture hero and sacred offspring of an averted rape of Athena by Hephaestus. (More on Erechtheus here.)

The ode, then, concerns a king who was married to a woman descended from the founding hero of Athens and from the North Wind, who bore him two sons. But he put Cleopatra away and married Idaea/Eidothea, the stepmother described in the ode using her shuttle to crush the eyes of the sons of Cleopatra and Phineus.

παρὰ δὲ κυανεᾶν πελάγει διδύμας ἁλὸς 
ἀκταὶ Βοσπόριαι ἥδ᾽  Θρῃκῶν ἄξενος 
970Σαλμυδησσόςἵν᾽ ἀγχίπτολις Ἄρης 
δισσοῖσι Φινείδαις 
εἶδεν ἀρατὸν ἕλκος 
τυφλωθὲν ἐξ ἀγρίας δάμαρτος 
ἀλαὸν ἀλαστόροισιν ὀμμάτων κύκλοις 
975ἀραχθέντωνὑφ᾽ αἱματηραῖς 
χείρεσσι καὶ κερκίδων ἀκμαῖσιν.
And by the waters of the Dark Rocks, the waters of the twofold sea, are the shores of Bosporus and the Thracian city Salmydessus, [970] where Ares, neighbor of that city, saw the accursed, blinding wound inflicted on the two sons of Phineus by his savage wife. It was a wound that brought darkness to the hollows, making them crave vengeance [975] for the eyes she crushed with her bloody hands and with her shuttle for a dagger.

κατὰ δὲ τακόμενοι μέλεοι μελέαν πάθαν 
980κλαῖονματρὸς ἔχοντες ἀνύμφευτον γονάν
 δὲ σπέρμα μὲν ἀρχαιογόνων 
ἄντασ᾽ Ἐρεχθειδᾶν
τηλεπόροις δ᾽ ἐν ἄντροις 
τράφη θυέλλαισιν ἐν πατρῴαις 
985Βορεὰς ἅμιππος ὀρθόποδος ὑπὲρ πάγου 
θεῶν παῖςἀλλὰ κἀπ᾽ ἐκείνᾳ 
Μοῖραι μακραίωνες ἔσχον παῖ.
Wasting away in their misery, they bewailed their miserable suffering [980] and their birth from their mother stripped of her marriage. But she traced her descent from the ancient line of the Erechtheids, and in far-distant caves she was raised amidst her father's gusts. She was the child of Boreas, running swift as horses over the steep hills, a daughter of gods. Yet she, too, was assailed by the long-lived Fates, my child.

Phineus is variously said to be the son of Agenor or of Phoenix - either way, he's a close relation, possibly a brother, of Cadmus. In a sense, he's a variant of Cadmus -- both were sent to find their sister Europa. Both failed. Cadmus via an oracle ends up founding Thebes, marrying Harmonia, and siring a line that leads to Dionysus, Amphion and Oedipus. Phineus chooses a woman who destroys his family, and according to some versions of his story, causes him to be cursed with blindness for blinding his sons. He also is said to have became endowed with prophecy.

Phineus cancels an alliance with the human cult hero of Athens for a marriage with a woman so violent (ἀγρίας δάμαρτος = savage spouse) as to personally mutilate children.

At this point we can at least see how this background creates a link to the earlier ode that begins:

εὐδαίμονες οἷσι κακῶν ἄγευστος αἰών
οἷς γὰρ ἂν σεισθῇ θεόθεν δόμοςἄτας 
585οὐδὲν ἐλλείπει γενεᾶς ἐπὶ πλῆθος ἕρπον
ὅμοιον ὥστε ποντίαις οἶδμα δυσπνόοις ὅταν 
Θρῄσσαισιν ἔρεβος ὕφαλον ἐπιδράμῃ πνοαῖς
590κυλίνδει βυσσόθεν κελαινὰν θῖνα καὶ 
δυσάνεμοιστόνῳ βρέμουσι δ᾽ ἀντιπλῆγες ἀκταί.
[583] Blest are those whose days have not tasted of evil. For when a house has once been shaken by the gods, [585] no form of ruin is lacking, but it spreads over the bulk of the race, just as, when the surge is driven over the darkness of the deep by the fierce breath of Thracian sea-winds, [590] it rolls up the black sand from the depths, and the wind-beaten headlands that front the blows of the storm give out a mournful roar.
Phineus's house has been shaken - the sea winds of Thrace, roiling the ocean, are a fit image of his kingdom overturned by his love of Idaea. We are reminded that Cleopatra was the daughter of the North Wind. 

This relevance of one ode to another leads us to consider that the odes of Antigone might be read as a closely composed group of mutually allusive texts -- a subject for a book-length study. Having no time for that just now, let's just look briefly at two passages that bring the tale of Phineus into line with salient lines of earlier odes:

The first evokes how a house can violently lose light -- a blinding:
(599) For now that dazzling light (φάος) that had been spread over the last roots of the house of Oedipus in its turn is cut down by the blood-stained dust of the gods infernal and mindlessness in speech and frenzy.
The second, from the ode addressing Eros, speaks in a strangely detailed manner to the errant love of Phineus:
. . . you (i.e., Eros) roam over the sea and among the homes of men in the wilds. Neither can any immortal escape you, [790] nor any man whose life lasts for a day. He who has known you is driven to madness.
φοιτᾷς δ᾽ ὑπερπόντιος ἔν τ᾽ ἀγρονόμοις αὐλαῖς
καί σ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἀθανάτων φύξιμος οὐδεὶς 
790οὔθ᾽ ἁμερίων σέ γ᾽ ἀνθρώπων δ᾽ ἔχων μέμηνεν.

If nothing else, the tale of Phineus is an apt illustration of one who has been "driven to madness" by love. In the ode we have been reading, his tale follows those of Acrisius and Lycurgus -- two other kings who strove to outwit destiny, to subject Fate to their will.

It is this that the last strophe addresses. Though the entitled sons of Cleopatra had every reason to "look forward to" a distinguished life as royal princes, as well as scions of Boreas, they languish in a prison, where they see only darkness. The future we have the temerity to anticipate exists for us as a mode of unauthorized prophecy -- it can prove false, as it did for these children, as well as for Cleopatra.

If any one could have outrun fate, or dodged the Symplegades, it would have been Cleopatra:
She was the child of Boreas, running swift as horses over the steep hills, a daughter of gods.
But no:
Yet she, too, was assailed by the long-lived Fates, my child.
In fact, the ode tells us, we are, and can only be, blind to the future. Anticipation is illusion. No matter how much cause we might have to foresee great things (or terrible things) for ourselves, what comes is not what we prophesy to ourselves, but what Fate holds in store. As Oedipus came to see, the Fate he dreaded was what he, the unriddler, saw too late. We are always too late to control what is to come.

By coincidence, or Fate, the next voice we hear is that of Teiresias, who knows what we can and cannot see, or foresee.