THEY HAVE CALLED IT the Dorian invasions. And classicists will tell you that indeed they could have called it anything or everything, so groping our knowledge, and so dark these particular profundities of past time. But continuities in pottery designs from one archaeological site to another do fetch a few candles into this vast and silent darkness, and they reveal, albeit in flickering fashion, the huge jagged outlines of complex successions of migrations and displacements that lasted from 1200 to 1000 B.C.1 That much is fact.
The rest is inference. Even who the so-called Dorians were is unclear. In an earlier chapter, I have suggested that the beginning of all this chaos may have been the Thera eruption and its consequences. As Thucydides at the last edge of a verbal tradition describes it, “migrations were a frequent occurrence, the several tribes readily abandoning their homes under the pressure of superior numbers.” Palaces and villages that once held fealty to Agamemnon and his gods were looted and burned by other bicameral peoples who, following their own admonitory visions, probably could not communicate with nor have pity on the natives. Survivors were slaves or refugees, and refugees conquered or died. Our greatest certainties are negative. For all that the Mycaenaean world had produced with such remarkable uniformity everywhere ? the massive stone architecture of its god-ordered palaces and fortifications, its undulant frescoes of delicate clarity, its shaft-graves with their elaborate contents, the megaron plan of its houses, the terra-cotta idols and figurines, the death masks of beaten gold, the bronze and ivory work and distinctive pottery ? all stopped and was never known thereafter.
This ruin is the bitter soil for the growth of subjective consciousness in Greece. And the difference here from the huge Assyrian cities stumbling on into a fumbling demon-ridden consciousness out of their own momentum is important. In contrast, Mycaenae had been a loose and spread-out system of divinely commanded cities of smaller size. The breakdown of the bicameral mind resulted in an even greater dispersion as all society broke down.
It is even plausible that all this political havoc was the very challenge to which the great epics were a defiant response, and that the long narrative chants of the aoidoi from refugee camp to camp worked out into an eager unity with the cohesive past on the part of a newly nomadic people reaching at lost certainties. Poems are rafts clutched at by men drowning in inadequate minds. Arid this unique factor, this importance of poetry in a devastating social chaos, is the reason why Greek consciousness specifically fluoresces into that brilliant intellectual light which is still illuminating our world.
What I shall do in this chapter is to conduct you on a tour through all the early extant literature of Greece. It is unfortunately a short list of texts. Beginning with the Iliad, we shall travel consecutively up through the Odyssey and the Boeotian poems ascribed to Hesiod, and then into the fragments of the lyric and elegiac poets of the seventh century B.C. and a little beyond. In doing so, I shall not be giving you any running description of the scenery we are passing through. The several good histories of early Greek poetry can do that better than I. Instead I shall be directing your attention to selected things as we pass by that are of particular interest from the point of view of our theory of consciousness.
But before we do so, we must make a few preliminary excursions, particularly into a more thorough analysis of mindlike terms in the Iliad.
LOOKING FORWARD THROUGH THE ILIAD
In an earlier chapter, I made the statement that the Iliad was our window upon the immediate bicameral past. Here, I propose that we stand on the other side of that window and peer forward into the distant conscious future, regarding this great mysterious paean to anger, not so much as the end point of the verbal tradition that preceded it, but rather as the very beginning of the new mentality to come.
In I.3, we saw that the words which in later Greek indicate aspects of conscious functioning have in the Iliad more concrete and bodily referents. But the very fact that these words come to have mental meanings later suggests that they may be some kind of key to understanding the manner in which Greek consciousness is developed.
The words we shall look at here are seven: thumos, phrenes, noos, and psyche, all of them variously translated as mind, spirit, or soul, and kradie, ker, and etor, often translated as heart or sometimes as mind or spirit. The translation of any of these seven as mind or anything similar is entirely mistaken and without any warrant whatever in the Iliad. Simply, and without equivocation, they are to be thought of as objective parts of the environment or of the body. We shall discuss these terms fully in a moment.
Now the first question to ask is why these entities are in the poem at all. I have earlier stressed the fact that the major instigations to action here are in the voices of the gods, not in the thumo, phrenes, etor, et al. The latter are entirely redundant. In fact they often seem to get in the way of the simple command-obedience relation between god and man, like a wedge between the two sides of the bicameral mind. Why then are they there?
Let us examine more closely what would have happened at the beginning of the breakdown of the bicameral mind. In I.4, we found that the physiological cuing of an hallucinated voice, whether in a bicameral man or in a contemporary schizophrenic, is the stress of some decision or conflict. Now, as the voices of gods become more inadequate and suppressed during this social chaos, we may suppose that the amount of that stress necessary to occasion an hallucinated voice would be raised.
It is quite likely, then, that as the bicameral organization of mind began to diminish, the decision-stress in novel situations would be much greater than previously, and both the degree and duration of that stress would have to become progressively more intense before the hallucination of a god would occur. And such increased stress would be accompanied by a variety of physiological concomitants, vascular changes resulting in burning sensations, abrupt changes in breathing, a pounding or fluttering heart, etc., responses which in the Iliad are called thumos, phrenes and kradie respectively. And this is what these words mean, not mind or anything like it. As the gods are heard progressively less and less, these internal response-stimuli of progressively greater stress are associated more and more with men’s subsequent actions, whatever they may be, even coming to take on the godlike function of seeming to initiate action themselves.
The evidence that we are on the right track in these suppositions can be found in the Iliad itself. At the very beginning, Agamemnon, king of men but slave of gods, is told by his voices to take the fair-cheeked Briseis away from Achilles, who had captured her. As he does so, the response of Achilles begins in his etor, or what I suggest is a cramp in his guts, where he is in conflict or put into two parts (mermerizo) whether to obey his thumos, the immediate internal sensations of anger, and kill the pre-emptory king or not. It is only after this vacillating interval of increasing belly sensations and surges of blood, as Achilles is drawing his mighty sword, that the stress has become sufficient to hallucinate the dreadfully gleaming goddess Athene who then takes over control of the action (1:188ff.) and tells Achilles what to do.
I mean to suggest here that the degree and extent of these internal sensations were neither so evident nor so named in the true bicameral period. If we may propose that there was an Ur-Iliad, or the verbal epic as it came from the lips of the first several generations of aoidoi, then we can expect that it had no such interval, no etor or thumos preceding the voice of the god, and that the use and, as we shall see, the increasing use of these words in this way reflects the alteration of mentality, the wedge between god and man which results in consciousness.
We may call these mind-words that later come to mean something like conscious functioning, the preconscious hypostases. The latter term means in Greek what is caused to stand under something. The preconscious hypostases are the assumed causes of action when other causes are no longer apparent. In any novel situation, when there are no gods, it is not a man who acts, but one of the preconscious hypostases which causes him to act. They are thus seats of reaction and responsibility which occur in the transition from the bicameral mind to subjective consciousness. What we shall see is that the frequency and the meaning of these terms gradually change as we go from text to text from about 850 to 600 B.C., and how in the sixth century B.C. their referents join together in what we would call the subjective conscious mind.2
I would like here to translate and expand what I have just said into a clearer statement by suggesting that this temporal development of the preconscious hypostases can be roughly divided into four phases:
Phase I: Objective: Occurred in the bicameral age when these terms referred to simple external observations.
Phase II: Internal: Occurred when these terms have come to mean things inside the body, particularly certain internal sensations.
Phase III: Subjective: When these terms refer to processes that we would call mental; they have moved from internal stimuli supposedly causing actions to internal spaces where metaphored actions may occur.
Phase IV: Synthetic: When the various hypostases unite into one conscious self capable of introspection.
The reason I am setting these out, perhaps pretentiously, as four separate phases is to call your attention to the important psychological differences of transition between these phases.
The transition from Phase I to Phase II occurred at the beginning of the breakdown period. It comes from the absence or the inappropriateness of gods and their hallucinated directions. The buildup of stress for want of adequate divine decisions increases the psychological concomitants of such stress until they are labeled with terms that previously applied to only external perception.
The transition from Phase II to Phase III is a much more complicated matter. And much more interesting. It is due to the paraphrand generator of metaphor described in 1.2. In that chapter, I outlined the four-part process of metaphor, how we begin with a less-known term called a metaphrand which is to be described, and then describe it by applying to it a better-known metaphier which is similar to it in some way. Usually there are simple associations of the metaphier which I have called paraphiers, which then project back as associates of the original metaphrand, these new associates being called paraphrands. Such paraphrands are generative in a sense that they are new in their association with the metaphrand. And this is how we are able to generate the kind of ‘space’ which we introspect upon and which is the necessary substrate of consciousness. This is really quite simple as we shall see shortly.
And, finally, the synthesis of the separate hypostases into the unitary consciousness of Phase IV is a different process also. I suggest that as the subjective Phase III meanings of thumos, phrenes, et al. become established, their original anatomical bases in different internal sensations wither away, leaving them to become confused and to join together on the basis of their shared metaphiers, e.g., as ‘containers’ or ‘persons.’ But this synthetic unity of consciousness may also have been helped by what can be called the laicization of attention and its consequent recognition of individual differences in the seventh century B.C., a process which resulted in a new concept of self.
Before looking at the evidence for these matters, let us first investigate the preconscious hypostases and their Iliadic meanings in these phases with more detail. In the general order of their importance in the Iliad, they are:
This is by far the most common and important hypostatic word in the whole poem. It occurs three times as often as any other. Originally, in the Objective Phase, I suggest, it meant simply activity as externally perceived. And nothing internal about it. This Mycaenaean usage is found frequently in the Iliad, particularly in the battle scenes, where a warrior aiming a spear in the right place causes the thumos or activity of another to cease.
The internal Phase II, as we have seen in Achilles’ wrath occurs in a novel stressful situation during the breakdown period when the stress threshold for the hallucinated voice was higher. Thumos then refers to a mass of internal sensations in response to environmental crises. It was, I suggest, a pattern of stimulation familiar to modern physiology, the so-called stress or emergency response of the sympathetic nervous system and its liberation of adrenalin and noradrenalin from the adrenal glands. This includes the dilation of the blood vessels in striate muscles and in the heart, an increase in tremor of striate muscles, a burst of blood pressure, the constriction of blood vessels in the abdominal viscera and in the skin, the relaxing of smooth muscles, and the sudden increased energy from the sugar released into the blood from the liver, and possible perceptual changes with the dilation of the pupil of the eye. This complex was, then, the internal pattern of sensation that preceded particularly violent activity in a critical situation. And by doing so repeatedly, the pattern of sensation begins to take on the term for the activity itself. Thereafter, it is the thumos which gives strength to a warrior in battle, etc. All the references to thumos in the Iliad as an internal sensation are consistent with this interpretation.
Now the important transition to the subjective Phase III is already beginning even in the Iliad, although not in a very conspicuous way. We see it in the unvoiced metaphor of the thumos as like a container: in several passages, menos or vigor is ‘put’ in someone’s thumos (i6: 5-8; 17: 451; 22: 312). The thumos is also implicitly compared to a person: it is not Ajax who is zealous to fight but his thumos (13: 73); nor is it Aeneas who rejoices but his thumos (13: 494; see also 14: 156). If not a god, it is the thumos that most often ‘urges’ a man into action. And as if it were another person, a man may speak to his thumos (u : 403), and may hear from it what he is to say (7: 68), or have it reply to him even as a god (9: 702).
All these metaphors are extremely important. Saying that the internal sensations of large circulatory and muscular changes are a thing into which strength can be put is to generate an imagined ‘space,‘ here located always in the chest, which is the forerunner of the mind-space of contemporary consciousness. And to compare the function of that sensation to that of another person or even to the less-frequent gods is to begin those metaphor processes that will later become the analog ‘I’
The second most common hypostasis in the Iliad is the phrenes. Its Objective Phase origin is more questionable. But the fact that it is almost always plural may indicate that the phrenes objectively referred to the lungs and perhaps were associated with phrasis or speech.
In the Internal Phase, phrenes become the temporal pattern of sensations associated with respiratory changes. These come from the diaphragm, the intercostal muscles of the rib-cage, and the smooth muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes which regulate their bore and so the resistance of them to the passage of air, this mechanism being controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. We should remember here how extremely responsive our breathing is to various types of environmental stimulation. A sudden stimulus, and we ‘catch our breath’. Sobbing and laughing have obvious distinct internal stimulation from the diaphragm and intercostals. In great activity or excitement, there is an increase in both the rate and depth of breathing with the resulting internal stimulation. Either pleasantness or unpleasantness usually shows increased breathing. Momentary attention is clearly correlated with partial or complete inhibition of breathing. A surprise, and our rate of breathing increases and becomes irregular.
Apart from rate, there are also unique changes in the proportion of time occupied by inspiration and by expiration in a single breath cycle. This is best measured by determining the percent of the duration of the breath cycle taken up by inspiration. This is about 16 percent in speech, 23 percent in laughter, 30 percent in attentive mental work, 43 percent when at rest, 60 percent or more in excitement, 71 percent in subjects imagining a wonderful or surprising situation, and 75 percent in sudden fright.3
The point I am trying to make here is that our phrenes or respiratory apparatus can almost be looked at as recording everything we do in quite distinct and distinguishable ways. It is at least possible that this internal mirror of behavior loomed much larger in the total stimulus world of the preconscious mind than it does in ourselves. And certainly its changing pattern of internal stimulation makes us understand why the phrenes are so important during the transition to consciousness, and why the term is used in so many functionally different ways in the poetry we are examining in this chapter.
In the Iliad, it can often be translated simply as lungs. Agamemnon’s black phrenes fill with anger (1:103) and we can visualize the king’s deep breathing as his fury mounts. Automedon fills his dark phrenes with valor and strength, or takes deep breaths (17:499). Frightened fawns have no strength in their phrenes after running} they are out of breath (4:245). In weeping, grief ‘comes to’ the phrenes (1:362; 8:124) or the respiratory phrenes can ‘hold’ fear (10:10), or joy (9:186). Even these statements are partly metaphoric, and thus associate a kind of container space in the phrenes.
A very few instances are more clearly in Phase III in the sense of inner mind-space. These are where the phrenes are said to ‘contain’ and perhaps ‘retain’ information. Sometimes this information comes from a god (1:55) or at other times from another human (1:297).
Laboratory studies have demonstrated that even simple sensory experience of an object, its recognition, and the recall of the name associated with it, all can be observed in recordings of respiration taken simultaneously.4 It is thus not surprising that when some internal sensation is first connected to such functions as recognition and recall, it is located in the phrenes. Once it is said that the phrenes can recognize events (22:296), it is making a metaphor of the phrenes with a person, and the paraphrands of ‘person,’ that is, something that can act in a space projects back into the phrenes to make it metaphorically spatial and capable of other human activities metaphorically. Similarly we find that like a person the phrenes of a man can occasionally ‘be persuaded’ by another man (7:120), or even by a god (4:104). The phrenes can perhaps even ‘speak’ like a god, as when Agamemnon says he obeyed his baneful phrenes (9:119). These instances are quite rare in the Iliad, but they do point toward what will develop into consciousness over the next two centuries.
This term, which later comes to be spelled kardia, and results in our familiar adjective ‘cardiac,’ is not quite so important or mysterious as other hypostases. It refers to the heart. In fact, it is the most common hypostasis still in use. When we in the twentieth century wish to be sincere, we still speak out of our hearts, not out of our consciousness. It is in our hearts that we have our most profound thoughts and cherish our closest beliefs. And we love with our hearts. It is curious that the lungs or phrenes have never maintained their hypostatic role as has the kradie.
Originally, I suggest, it simply meant quivering, coming from the verb kroteo, to beat. Kradie even means in some passages of early Greek a quivering branch. Then, in the internalization of Phase II that went on during the Dorian invasions, the quivering that was seen with the eye and felt with the hand externally becomes the name of the internal sensation of the heartbeat in response to external situations. With few exceptions, this is its referent in the Iliad. No one believes anything in his heart as yet.
Again I would remind you of the extensive modern literature on the responsiveness of our hearts to how we perceive the world. Like respiration or the action of the sympathetic nervous system, the cardiac system is extremely sensitive to particular aspects of the environment. At least one recent commentator has introduced the concept of the cardiac mind, calling the heart a specific sense organ for anxiety, as the eyes are the sense organ for sight.5 Anxiety in this view is not any of the poetic homologues which we in our consciousness might use to describe it. Rather it is an inner tactile sensation in the sensory nerve endings of cardiac tissue which reads the environment for its anxiety potential.
While this notion is doubtful as it stands, it is good Homeric psychology. A coward in the Iliad is not someone who is afraid, but someone whose kradie beats loudly (13:282). The only remedy is for Athene to $B!F (Bput $B!G (B strength in the kradie (2:452), or for Apollo to $B!F (Bput $B!G (B boldness in it (21:547). The metaphier of a container here is building a $B!F (Bspace $B!G (B into the heart in which later men may believe, feel, and ponder things deeply.
Philologists usually translate both kradie and etor as heart. And certainly a word can have synonyms. But in instances so important as the assigning of particular locations of sensations and forces of action, I would demur on a priori grounds, and insist that to the ancient Greek these terms had to represent different locations and sensations. Sometimes they are even clearly distinct in the text (20:169). I have thus the temerity to suggest that etor in Phase I came from the noun etron ? belly, and that in Phase II, it becomes internalized into sensations of the gastro-intestinal tract, particularly the stomach. Indeed, there is even evidence for this in the Iliad, where it is precisely stated that food and drink are taken to satisfy the etor (19:307).6 This translation is also more apt in other situations, as when a warrior loses his etor or guts in the front ranks of the battle by being disemboweled (5:215 ).
But more important is the stimulus field it provides for mental functioning. We know that the gastro-intestinal tract has a wide repertoire of responses to human situations. Everyone knows the sinking feeling on receiving bad news, or the epigastric cramp before a near automobile accident. The intestine is equally responsive to emotional stimuli of lesser degree, and these responses can be easily seen on the fluoroscopic screen.7 Stomach contractions and peristalsis stop at an unpleasant stimulus, and may even be reversed if the unpleasantness is increased. The secretory activity of the stomach is also extremely susceptible to emotional experience. The stomach is indeed one of the most responsive organs in the body, reacting in its spasms and emptying and contractions and secretory activity to almost every emotion and sensation. And this is the reason why illnesses of the gastro-intestinal system were the first to be thought of as psychosomatic.
It is therefore plausible that this spectrum of gastro-intestinal sensations was what was being referred to by the etor. When Andromache hears the groaning Hecuba, her etor heaves up in her throat she is close to vomiting (22:452).8 When Lycaon’s plea to live is mocked by Achilles, it is Lycaon’s etor along with his knees that are ‘loosened’ and made weak (21:114). We would say he has a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. And when the gods themselves join in the battle, it is the etor of Zeus that laughs with joy, or what we would call a belly-laugh (21:389).
The container metaphor is not used as with the other hypostases, probably because the stomach already contains food. For this very reason we will see that it does not grow into an important part of any conscious mentality in the literature to follow.
I think it is obvious to the medical reader that these matters we are discussing under the topic of the preconscious hypostases have a considerable bearing on any theory of psychosomatic disease. In the thumos, phrenes, kradie, and etor, we have covered the four major target systems of such illness. And that they compose the very groundwork of consciousness, a primitive partial type of consciousizing, has important consequences in medical theory.
I shall only indicate the ker in passing, partly because it plays a diminishing role in this story of consciousness, but also because its derivation and significance is somewhat cloudy. While it is possible that it could have come from cheir and then become somatized into trembling hands and limbs, it is more probably from the same root as kardia in a different dialect. Certainly the passage in the Odyssey which states that a warrior is wounded where the phrenes or lungs are set close about the throbbing ker (16:481) leaves little doubt. It is almost always referred to as the organ of grief and is of limited importance.
But of utmost importance is the next hypostasis. Let it be immediately stated that it is an uncommon term in the Iliad ? so uncommon as to make us suspect that it could have been added by the later generations of aoidoi. But starting from such small beginnings in the Iliad, it soon comes into the very center of our topic. And this is
Up to now, we have been dealing with large, ummistakable internal sensations that only needed to be named in times of turmoil and crisis, and which then took their names from objective external perception. Noos, deriving from noeo = to see, is perception itself. And in coming to it we are in a much more powerful region in our intellectual travels.
For, as we saw in an earlier chapter, the great majority of the terms we use to describe our conscious lives are visual. We ‘see’ with the mind’s ‘eye’ solutions which may be ‘brilliant’ or ‘obscure,’ and so on. Vision is our distance receptor far excellence. It is our sense of space in a way that no other modality can even approach. And it is that spatial quality, as we have seen, that is the very ground and fabric of consciousness.
It is interesting to note parenthetically that there is no hypostasis for hearing as there is for sight. Even today, we do not hear with the mind’s ear as we see with the mind’s eye. Nor do we refer to intelligent minds as loud, in the same way we say they are bright. This is probably because hearing was the very essence of the bicameral mind, and as such has those differences from vision which I discussed in 1.4. The coming of consciousness can in a certain vague sense be construed as a shift from an auditory mind to a visual mind.
This shift is first seen somewhat fitfully in the Iliad. The Mycenaean objective origin of the term is present in objective statements about seeing, or in noos as a sight or show. In urging his men into battle, a warrior may say there is no better noos than a hand-to-hand battle with the enemy (15:510). And Zeus keeps Hector in his noos (151461).
But the second phase of internalization of noos is also evident in the Iliad. It is located in the chest (3:63). How curious to us that it was not placed in the eyes! Perhaps this is because in its new role it was becoming melded with the thumos. Indeed, noos takes on adjectives more suitable to the thumos, such as fearless (3:63) and strong (16:688). And Odysseus dissuades the Achaeans from putting their ships to sea by telling them that they do not yet know what sort of noos is in Agamemnon (2:192). And one of the most modern-sounding instances occurs in the very first episode, when Thetis, consoling the sobbing Achilles, asks him, “Why has grief come upon your phrenes? Speak, conceal not in noos, so that we both may know” (1:363).9 Apart from this, there is no other subjectification in the Iliad. No one makes any decisions in his noos. Thinking does not go on in the noos, or even memory. These are still in the voices of those organizations of the right temporal lobe that are called gods.
The precise causes of this internalization of sight into a container in which the seeing can be ‘held’ will require a much more careful study than we can go into here. Perhaps it was simply the generalization of internalization which I suggest had occurred earlier in those internalizations correlated with large internal sensations. Or it may have been that the observation of external difference in the mingling of refugees, as mentioned in II.3, demanded the positing of this visual hypostasis, which could be different in different men, making them see different things.
And so finally to the word that gives psychology its name. Probably coming from the term psychein = to breathe, it has become internalized into life substances in its main usage in the Iliad. Most often, psyche seems to be used in just the way we would use life. But this can be very misleading. For ‘life’ to us means something about a period of time, a span between birth and death, full of events and developments of a certain character. There is absolutely nothing of this sort in the Iliad. When a spear strikes the heart of a warrior, and his psyche dissolves (5:296), is destroyed (22:325), or simply leaves him (16:453), or is coughed out through the mouth (9:409), or bled out through a wound (14:518; 16:505), there is nothing whatever about time or about the end of anything. There is in one part of Book 23 a different meaning of psyche, a discussion of which is deferred to the end of this chapter. But generally, it is very simply a property that can be taken away, and is similar to the taking away, under the same conditions, of thumos or activity, a word with which psyche is often coupled.
In trying to understand these terms, we must refrain from our conscious habit of building space into them before this has happened historically. In a sense, psyche is the most primitive of these preconscious hypostases; it is simply the property of breathing or bleeding or what not in that physical object over there called a man or an animal, a property which can be taken from him like a prize (22:161) by a spear in the right place. And in general, that is, with the exceptions I discuss at the end of this chapter, the main use of psyche in the Iliad does not progress beyond that. No one in any way ever sees, decides, thinks, knows, fears, or remembers anything in his psyche.
These then are the supposed substantives inside the body that by literary metaphor, by being compared to containers and persons, accrue to themselves spatial and behavioral qualities which in later literature develop into the unified mind-space with its analog CP that we have come to call consciousness. But in pointing out these beginnings in the Iliad, let me remind you that the contours of the main actions of the poem are as divinely dictated and as nonconscious as I have insisted in 1.3. These preconscious hypostases do not enter into any major decisions. But they are definitely there playing a subsidiary role. It is indeed as if the unitary conscious mind of the later age is here in the Iliad beginning as seven different entities, each with a slightly different function and a distinction from the others which is almost impossible for us to appreciate today.
THE WILES OF THE ODYSSEY
After the Iliad, the Odyssey. And anyone reading these poems freshly and consecutively sees what a gigantic vault in mentality it is! There are of course some scholars who still like to think of these two huge epics as being written down and even composed by one man named Homer, the first in his youth and the second in his maturity. The more reasonable view, I think, is that the Odyssey followed the Iliad by at least a century or more, and, like its predecessor, was the work of a succession of aoidoi rather than any one man.
But, unlike its predecessor, the Odyssey is not one epic but a series of them. The originals were probably about different heroes, and brought together around Odysseus at a later time. Why this happened is not hard to unravel. Odysseus, at least in some parts of Greece, had become the center of a cult that enabled conquered peoples to survive. He becomes “wily Odysseus” and later aoidoi perhaps inserted this epithet into the Iliad to remind their listeners of the Odyssey. Archaeological evidence indicates important dedications made to Odysseus some time after 1000 B.C . and definitely before 800 B.C.10 These were sometimes of bronze tripod caldrons curiously connected with the cult. They were such dedications as formerly would have been to a god. Contests in worship of him were held in Ithaca at least from the ninth century B.C., even as that island was about to be overrun again by new invasions from Corinth. In a word, Odysseus of the many devices is the hero of the new mentality of how to get along in a ruined and god-weakened world.
The Odyssey announces this in its very fifth word, polutropon = much turning. It is a journey of deviousness. It is the very discovery of guile, its invention and celebration. It sings of indirections and disguises and subterfuges, transformations and recognitions, drugs and forgetfulness, of people in other people’s places, of stories within stories, and men within men.
The contrast with the Iliad is astonishing. Both in word and deed and character, the Odyssey describes a new and different world inhabited by new and different beings. The bicameral gods of the Iliad, in crossing over to the Odyssey, have become defensive and feeble. They disguise themselves more and even indulge in magic wands. The bicameral mind by its very definition directs much less of the action. The gods have less to do, and like receding ghosts talk more to each other ? and that so tediously! The initiatives move from them, even against them, toward the work of the more conscious human characters, though overseen by a Zeus who in losing his absolute power has acquired a Learlike interest in justice. Seers and omens, these hallmarks of the breakdown of bicamerality, are more common. Semi-gods, dehumanizing witches, one-eyed giants, and sirens, reminiscent of the genii that we saw marked the breakdown of bicamerality in Assyrian bas-reliefs a few centuries earlier, are evidence of a profound alteration in mentality. And the huge Odysseyan themes of homeless wanderings, of kidnapings and enslavements, of things hidden, things regained, are surely echoes of the social breakdown following the Dorian invasions when subjective consciousness in Greece first took its mark.
Technically, the first thing to note is the change in the frequency with which the preconscious hypostases are used. Such data can be compiled easily from concordances of the Iliad and Odyssey, and the results are dramatic in showing a very definite rise in frequency for phrenes, noos, and psyche, and a striking drop in the use of the word thumos. Of course we can say that the decrease for thumos from the Iliad to the Odyssey is due to what the poem is about. But that is begging the question. For the very change in theme is indeed a part of this whole transition in the very nature of man. The other hypostases are passive. Thumos, the adrenalin-produced emergency reaction of the sympathetic nervous system to novel situations, is the antithesis of anything passive. The kind of metaphors that can be built up around this metaphrand of a sudden surge of energy are not the passive visual ones that are more conducive to solving problems.
In contrast, over this period, phrenes doubles in frequency, while both noos and psyche triple in frequency. Again, the point could be made that the increase in the use of these words is simply an echo of the change in topics. And again that is precisely the point. Poetry, from describing external events objectively, is becoming subjectified into a poetry of personal conscious expression.
But it is not just their frequency that we are interested in. It is also the change in their inherent meanings and the metaphiers used for them. As the gods decrease in their direction of human affairs, the preconscious hypostases take over some of their divine function, moving them closer to consciousness. Thumos, though decreased, is still the most common hypostatic word. And its function is different. It has reached the subjective phase and is like another person. It is the thumos of the swineherd that ‘commands’ him to return to Telemachus (16:466). In the Iliad, it would have been a god speaking. In the earlier epic, a god can ‘place’ menos or vigor into the ‘container’ of the thumos; but in the Odyssey, it is an entire recognition that can be ‘placed’ therein. Eurycleia recognizes Odysseus under his disguise by his scar because a god has ‘put’ that recognition in her thumos (19:485)- (Note that she has recognition but not recall.) And the servants of Penelope have knowledge of her son’s departure in their thumos (4:730).
Phrenes too has acquired the spatial qualities of Phase III. Even the description of a possible future event can be put in the phrenes, as when Telemachus, as a pretext for depriving the suitors of weapons, is asked to claim that a daimon (it would have at least been a god in the Iliad) has put fears of quarrels among them into his phrenes (19:10). There are no secrets in the Iliad. But the Odyssey has many of them, and they are ‘held’ in the phrenes (16:459). Whereas in the Iliad the preconscious hypostases were almost always clearly located, their increasingly metaphorical nature is muddling up their anatomical distinction in the Odyssey. Even the thumos is at one point located inside the lungs or phrenes (22:38).
But there is another and even more important use of phrenes, this word that originally referred to the lungs and then to the complex sensations in breathing. And this is in the first beginnings of morality. No one is moral among the god-controlled puppets of the Iliad. Good and evil do not exist. But in the Odyssey, Clytaemnestra is able to resist Aegisthus because her phrenes are agathai, which may have been derived from roots that would make it mean ‘very like a god’. And in another place, it is the agathai, godly, or good phrenes of Eumaeus which has him remember to make offerings to the gods (14:421). And similarly it is the agathai or good phrenes that are responsible for Penelope’s chastity and loyalty to the absent Odysseus (12:194). It is not yet Penelope who is agathe, only the metaphor-space in her lungs.
And similarly with the other preconscious hypostases. Warnings of destruction are ‘heard’ from the kradie or pounding heart of Odysseus when he is wrecked and thrown into tempestuous seas (5:389). And it is his ker, again his trembling heart or perhaps his trembling hands, that makes plans for the suitors’ downfall (18:344). In the Iliad, these would have been gods speaking. Noos, while being referred to more frequently, is sometimes not changed. But more often it is also in Phase III of subjectification. At one point, Odysseus is deceiving Athene (unthinkable in the Iliad!) and looks at her ever revolving in his noos thoughts of great cunning (13:255). Or noos can be like a person who is glad (8:78) or cruel (18:381) or not to be fooled (10:329) or learned about (1:3). Psyche again usually means life, but perhaps with more sense of a time span. Some very important exceptions to this will be referred to later.
Not only is the growth toward subjective consciousness in the Odyssey seen in the increasing use and spatial interiority and personification of its preconscious hypostases, but even more clearly in its incidents and social interrelationships. These include the emphasis on deceit and guile which I have already referred to. In the Iliad, time is referred to sloppily and inaccurately, if at all. But the Odyssey shows an increased spatialization of time in its use of time words, such as begin, hesitate, quickly, endure, etc., and the more frequent reference to the future. There is also an increased ratio of abstract terms to concrete, particularly of what in English would be nouns ending in $B!F (Bness $B!G (B. And with this, as might be expected, a marked drop in similes: there is less need for them. Both the frequency and the manner with which Odysseus refers to himself is on a different level altogether from instances of self-reference in the Iliad. All this is relevant to the growth of a new mentality.
Let me close this necessarily short entry on a toweringly important poem by calling your attention to a mystery. This is that the overall contour of the story itself is a myth of the very matter with which we are concerned. It is a story of identity, of a voyage to the self that is being created in the breakdown of the bicameral mind. I am not pretending here to be answering the profound question of why this should be so, of why the muses, those patternings of the right temporal lobe, who are singing this epic through the aoidoi, should be narratizing their own downfall, their own fading away into subjective thought, and celebrating the rise of a new mentality that will overwhelm the very act of their song. For this seems to be what is happening.
I am saying ? and finding it work to believe myself ? that all this highly patterned legend, which so clearly can be taken as a metaphor of the huge transilience toward consciousness, was not composed, planned, and put together by poets conscious of what they were doing. It is as if the god-side of the bicameral man was approaching consciousness before the man-side, the right hemisphere before the left. And if belief does stick here, and we are inclined to ask scoffingly and rhetorically, how could an epic that may itself be a kind of drive toward consciousness be composed by nonconscious men? We can also ask with the same rhetorical fervor, how could it have been composed by conscious men? And have the same silence follow. We do not know the answer to either question.
But so it is. And as this series of stories sweeps from its lost hero sobbing on an alien shore in bicameral thrall to his beautiful goddess Calypso, winding through its world of demigods, testings, and deceits, to his defiant war whoops in a rival-routed home, from trance through disguise to recognition, from sea to land, east to west, defeat to prerogative, the whole long song is an odyssey toward subjective identity and its triumphant acknowledgment out of the hallucinatory enslavements of the past. From a will-less gigolo of a divinity to the gore-spattered lion on his own hearth, Odysseus becomes ‘Odysseus’.
Some of the chronologically next group of poems I shall merely gloss over. Among these are the so-called Homeric Hymns, most of which have turned out to be of a much later date. There are also the poems that originated in Boeotia northeast of Athens in the eighth century B.C., many of which were once ascribed to a cult figure named Hesiod. Unfortunately, their extant texts are often mixtures of parts of poems from obviously different sources, badly emended. Most of them contribute little to our present concern. The often tedious recital of the relationships of gods in the Theogony is usually dated shortly after the Odyssey, but its hypostatic words are fewer and without development. Its chief interest is that its concern with the intimate lives of gods is perhaps a result of their silence, another expression of the nostalgia for the Golden Age before the Dorian invasions.
But of much greater interest is the fascinating problem presented by the text ascribed to Hesiod known as the Works and Days.11 It is obviously a hodgepodge of various things, a kind of Shepherd’s Calendar for a Boeotian farmer, and a very poor and scrubbing farmer at that. Its world is worlds away from the world of the great Homeric epics. Instead of a hero at the command of his gods working through a narrative of grandeur, we have instruction to the countryman, who may or may not obey his gods, on ways of work, which days are lucky, and a very interesting new sense of justice.
On the surface, this medley of scruffy detail of farm life and nostalgia for the Golden Age that is no more seems to be written by a farmer whom scholars take to be Hesiod. He is supposedly railing at his brother, Perses, over the unfairness of a judgment dividing their father’s farm, curiously giving Perses advice on everything from morality to marriage, on how to treat slaves to the problems of planting and sewage disposal. It is full of such things as:
Foolish Perses! Work the work which the gods ordained for men, lest in bitter anguish of thumosy you with your wife and children seek your livelihood amongst your neighbors. (397ff.)
At least this is what most scholars take the poem to be. But another interpretation is at least possible. This is that the older portions of the poem may actually have been written not by Hesiod, who is never mentioned in the poem, but by none other than the hand of foolish Perses himself, and that these main parts of the poem are the admonitions of his divine bicameral voice advising him what to do. If this jolts your sense of possibility, I would remind you of the schizophrenic patients who all day may hear similarly authoritative critical voices constantly admonishing them in a similar vein.
Perhaps I should not say written. More probably the poem was dictated to a scribe, even as were the bicameral admonitions of Perses $B!G (B contemporary, Amos, the herdsman of Israel. And I should also have said a previous recension of the main poem, and that the protest lodged in the crucial lines 37-39 were added later (even as everyone since Plutarch has agreed that 654-662 were). It is also possible that these lines originally referred to some kind of bicameral struggle for the control of Perses $B!G (B too subjective and therefore (at this time) unprofitable behavior.
The preconscious hypostases in the Works and Days occur in approximately the same frequencies as in the Odyssey. Thumos is the most common and in about half of its eighteen occurrences it is a simple Phase II internal impulse to some activity or locus of joy or sorrow. But the rest of the time, it is a Phase III space in which information (27), advice (297, 491), sights (296), or mischief (499) can be $B!F (Bput $B!G (B, $B!F (Bkept $B!G (B, or $B!F (Bheld $B!G (B. The phrenes also are like a cupboard, where the advice that is constantly given in the poem (107, 274) is to be laid up, and where foolish Perses is to $B!F (Blook $B!G (B at it carefully (688). The kradie has the metaphier of a person more than a container, and can be gracious (340), vexed (451), or can like and dislike things (681). But psyche (686) and etor (360, 593) are undeveloped and are simply life and belly respectively.
Noos in the Works and Days is interesting because, in all four of its instances, it is like a person relating to moral conduct. In two instances (67, 714) it has shame or not, and in another, it is adikon, without good direction (260). A proper study of the matter would point out in detail the particular development of the term dike. Its original meaning was to point (from which comes the original meaning of digit, as a finger), and in the Iliad its most parsimonious translation is as $B!H (Bdirection, $B!I (B in the sense of pointing out what to do. Sarpedon guarded Lycia by his dike (Iliad 16:542). But in the Works and Days, it has come to mean god-given right directions or justice, perhaps as a replacement for the god’s voice.12 It is a silent Zeus, son of a now spatialized time, who here for the first time dispenses dike or justice more or less as we know it in later Greek literature. (See for example 267ff.). How absolutely alien to the amoral world of the Iliad, that a whole city can suffer for one evil man (240)!
Our sense of justice depends on our sense of time. Justice is a phenomenon only of consciousness, because time spread out in a spatial succession is its very essence. And this is possible only in a spatial metaphor of time. Instances of this increased spatialization are common. Committing violence at one time begets a punishment at some time to follow (245f.). Long and steep is the path to goodness (290). A good man is he who sees what will be better afterward (294). Add little to little and it will become great (362). Work with work upon work to gain wealth (382). These notions are impossible unless the before and after of time are metaphored into a spatial succession. This basic ingredient of consciousness, which began in Assyrian building inscriptions in 1300 B.C. (see the previous chapter), has indeed come a long way.
It is important here to understand how closely coupled this new sense of time and justice is to what can be called the secularization of attention. By this I mean the shift in attention toward the everyday problems of making a living, something that is totally foreign to the mighty god-devised epics which preceded it. Whether the poem itself is divinely inspired, or, as the majority of scholars think, the sulky exhortations of Perses’ brother Hesiod, it is a dramatic turning point in the direction of human concern. Instead of grand impersonal narrative, we have a detailed personal expression. Instead of an ageless past, we have a vivid expression of a present wedged in between a past and a future. And it is a present of grim harshness that described the post-Dorian rural reality, full of petty strife and the struggle of wresting a living from the land, while around its edges hovers the nostalgia for the mighty golden world of bicameral Mycaenae, whose people were a race
. . . which was more lawful and more righteous, a god-like race of hero-men who are called half-gods, the race before our own, throughout the boundless earth. (1585.).
LYRIC AND ELEGY FROM 700 TO 600 B.C .
I was about to write that Greek consciousness is nearing completion in the Works and Days. But that is a very misleading metaphor, that consciousness is a thing that is built, formed, shaped into something that has a completion. There is no such thing as a complete consciousness.
What I would have been indicating was that the basic metaphors of time with space, of internal hypostases as persons in a mental space have begun to work themselves into the guides and guardians of everyday life.
Against this development, the Greek poetry of the seventh century B.C., which follows chronologically, is something of an anticlimax. But this is because so little of these elegiac and lyric poets has escaped the eager ravages of time. If we take only those who have at least a dozen lines extant, there are only seven poets to be considered.
The first thing to say about them is that they are not simply poets, as we regard the term. As a group, they are something like their contemporaries, the prophets of Israel, holy teachers of men, called by kings to settle disputes and to lead armies, resembling in some of their functions the shamans of contemporary tribal cultures. At the beginning of the century, they were probably still associated with holy dancing. But gradually the dance and its religious aura are lost in a secularity that is chanted to the lyre or the sounds of flutes. These artistic changes, however, are merely coincident to changes of a much more important kind.
The Works and Days expressed the present. The new poetry expresses the person in that present, the particular individual and how he is different from others. And celebrates that difference. And as it does so, we can trace a progressive filling out and stretching of the earlier preconscious hypostases into the mindspace of consciousness.
In the first part of the century is Terpander, the inventor of drinking songs, according to Pindar, one of whose thirteen extant lines cries out over the centuries:
Of the Far-flinging Lord come sing to me, O Phrenes! 13
This is interesting. The Lord here is Apollo. But note that while the poem itself is to be a nostalgic poem to a lost god, it is not a god or a muse who is invoked to compose it. In the Odyssey, a god puts songs into the phrenes which the minstrel then sings as if he were reading the music (22:347). But for Terpander, who hears no gods, it is his own phrenes that are begged to compose a song just as if they were a god. And this implicit comparison, I suggest, with its associated paraphrands of a space in which the deiform phrenes could exist, is well on the way to creating the mind-space with its Analog ‘I’ of consciousness.
It is not just in such word usages that this transition in the seventh century is apparent, but also in the subject matter. For the secularization and personalization of content begun in the Works and Days fairly explodes in midcentury in the angry iambics of Archilochus, the wandering soldier-poet of Paros. According to the inscription of his tomb, it was he who “first dipt a bitter Muse in snake-venom and stained gentle Helicon with blood,” a reference to the story that he could provoke suicides with the power of his iambic abuse.14 Even using poetry this way, to engage in personal vendettas and state personal preferences, is a new thing to the world. And so close to modern reflective consciousness do some of these fragments come, that the loss of most of Archilochus’ work opens one of the greatest gaps in ancient literature.
But the gods, though never heard by Archilochus, still control the world. “The ends of victory are among the gods” (Fragment 55). And the hypostases remain. The bad effects of drink (Fragment 77) or of old age (Fragment 94) occur in the phrenes; and when he is troubled, it is his thumos which is thrown down like a weak warrior and is told to “look up and defend yourself against your enemies” (Fragment 66). Archilochus talks to his thumos as to another person, the implicit comparison and its paraphrands of space and self-‘observed’ ‘self’ being a further step toward the consciousness of the next century.
Chronologically next come two other soldier-poets, Tyrtaeus and Callinus, whose remaining fragments are of little interest. Their most common hypostasis is thumos, and they do little more than urge us to keep an unfaltering thumos in battle.
And then, about 630 B.C., two poets of a different kind, Alcman and Mimnermus. They urge nothing, but celebrate their own subjective feelings in a way that had never been done before. “Who may report the noos of another?” (Fragment 55) asks the former, making the metaphor of noos as a happening with its obvious paraphrand consequences. And Mimnermus complains of the ill cares that wear and wear his phrenes (Fragment 1) and of the “sorrows that rise in the thumos” (Fragment 2). This is a long way from the simple hypostases of the Homeric epics.
At the end of this presageful century come the poems of Alcaeus and, particularly, the empty-armed passions of virile Sappho, the tenth muse as Plato calls her. Both these poets of Lesbos say the usual things about their thumos and phrenes, using both about equally. Sappho even sings about the theloi or arrangements of her thumos which become our desires and volitions (Fragment 36:3). And she practically invents love in its romantic modern sense. Love wrings her thumos with anguish (Fragment 43) and shakes her phrenes as a hurricane shakes an oak tree (Fragment 54).
But more important is the development of the term noema. By the late seventh century, it is clear that noema has come to mean a composite of what we mean by thoughts, wishes, intents, etc., and joining up with the theloi of the thumos. Alcaeus says, ” If Zeus will accomplish what is our noema” (Fragment 43). He describes a speaker as not “prevaricating (or excusing) his noema at all” (Fragment 144). In those shards of Sappho that remain, the word is used three times: toward those she loves, “my noema can never change” (Fragment 14); her “noema is not so softly disposed to the anger of a child” (Fragment 35) ; and in her complaint, “I know not what to do; my noemata are in two parts . . (Fragment 52). This puts the emphasis on the imagined internal metaphor-thing that is hypostasized into a thought. It is love that is teaching mankind to introspect. And there is even another word in Sappho, sunoida, whose roots would indicate that it means to know together, which, when Latinized, becomes the word ‘conscious’ (Fragment 15).
In these seven poets of the seventh century, then, we find a remarkable development, that, as the subject matter changed from martial exhortations to personal expressions of love, the manner in which the mental hypostases are used and their contexts become much more what we think of as subjective consciousness.
These are murky historical waters, and we may be sure that these seven poets, with their few fragments bobbing in the extant surface of the seventh century B.C., are but an indication of the many that probably then existed and helped develop the new mentality we are calling consciousness.
SOLON’ S MIND
I particularly feel that these seven cannot be representative of the time, for the very next poet chronologically that we know of is dramatically different from any of them. He is the morning star of the Greek intellect, the man who alone, so far as we know, really filled out the idea of human justice. This is Solon of Athens, who stands at the beginning of the great sixth century B.C., the century of Thales, Anaximander, and Pythagoras. It is the century where, for the first time, we can feel mentally at home among persons who think in somewhat the way we do.
The swiftness of the unfolding of these greatnesses of Greek culture is astonishing. And if for no other reason, Solon, at the beginning of all this, is astonishing for his use of the word noos. The word is rarely used by any of the poets we have previously looked at. But in the mere 280 (approximately) lines that have come down to us, he uses noos eight times. This is an extremely high frequency of 44 per 10,000) words. It indicates Phase IV, in which the several hypostases are joining into one. Thumos is used only twice, and phrenes and etor once each.
But it is also the way he speaks about the noos that is the first real statement of the subjective conscious mind. He speaks of those whose noos is not artios, which means intact or whole (Fragment 6). How impossible to say of a recognition! It is the noos that is wrong in a bad leader (Fragment 4). The Homeric meaning of noos could not take moral epithets. At about age forty-two, “a man’s noos is trained in all things.” Certainly this is not his visual perception. And in his fifties, he is “at his best in noos and tongue” (Fragment 27).
Another fragment describes the true beginning of personal responsibility, where he warns his fellow Athenians not to blame the gods for their misfortunes, but themselves. How contrary to the mind of the Iliad! And then adds,
Each one of you walks with the steps of a fox; the noos of all of you is chaunos [porous, spongy, or loose-grained as in wood] : for you look to a man’s tongue and rapidly shifting speech, and never to the deed he does. (Fragment 10).
Not Achilles nor artful Odysseus nor even foolish Perses (or his brother) could have ‘understood’ this admonition.
Consciousness and morality are a single development. For without gods, morality based on a consciousness of the consequences of action must tell men what to do. The dike or justice of the Works and Days is developed even further in Solon. It is now moral right that must be fitted together with might in government (Fragment 36) and which is the basis of law and lawful action.
Sometimes attributed to Solon are certain other injunctions, such as his exhortation to “moderation in all things.” But more germane to the present topic is the famous “Know thyself,” which is often ascribed to him but may have come from one of his contemporaries. This again was something inconceivable to the Homeric heroes. How can one know oneself? By initiating by oneself memories of one’s actions and feelings and looking at them together with an analog ‘I’, conceptualizing them, sorting them out into characteristics, and narratizing so as to know what one is likely to do. One must ‘see’ ‘oneself’ as in an imaginary ‘space,’ indeed what we were calling autoscopic illusions back in an early chapter.
Suddenly, then, we are in the modern subjective age. We can only regret that the literature of the seventh century B.C. is so shredded and scant as to make this almost full appearance of subjective consciousness in Solon almost implausible, if we regard him as simply a part of the Greek tradition. But the legends about Solon are many. And several of them insist that he was widely traveled, having visited countries of Asia Minor before returning to Athens to live out his life and write most of his poems. It is thus certainly a suggestion that his particular use of the word noos and his reification of the term into the imaginary mind-space of consciousness was due to the influence of these more developed nations.
With Solon, partly because he was the political leader of his time, the operator of consciousness is firmly established in Greece. He has a mind-space called a noos in which an analog of himself can narratize out what is dike or right for his people to do. Once established, once a man can ‘know himself,’ as Solon advised, can place ‘times’ together in the side-by-sideness of mindspace, can ‘see’ into himself and his world with the ‘eye’ of his noos, the divine voices are unnecessary, at least to everyday life. They have been pushed aside into special places called temples or special persons called oracles. And that the new unitary nous (as it came to be spelled), absorbing the functions of the other hypostases, was successful is attested by all the literature that followed, as well as the reorganization of behavior and society.
But we are somewhat ahead of our story. For there is another development in this important sixth century B.C., and one which is a huge complication for the future. It is an old term, psyche, used in an unpredictably new way. In time it comes to parallel and then to become interchangeable with nous, while at the same time it engenders that consciousness of consciousness which was held up as false at the beginning of Book I. Moreover, I shall suggest that this new concept is an almost artifactual result of a meeting between Greek and Egyptian cultures.
THE INVENTION OF THE SOUL
Psyche is the last of these words to come to have ‘space’ inside it. This is due, I think, to the fact that psyche or livingness did not lend itself to a container-type metaphor until the conscious spatialization of time had so far developed that a man had a life in the sense of a time span, rather than just in the sense of breath and blood. But the progress of psyche toward the concept of soul is not that clear at all.
For, more than the other hypostases, psyche is sometimes used in confusing ways that seem on the surface to defy a chronological ordering. Its primary use is always for life, as I have stated. After the Homeric poems, Tyrtaeus, for example, uses psyche in that sense (Fragments 10 and 11), as does Alcaeus (Fragment 77B). And even as late as the fifth century B.C., Euripides uses the phrase “to be fond of one’s psyche” in the sense of clinging to life (Iphigenia at Aulis, 1385). Some of the Aristotelian writings also use psyche as life, and this usage even extends into much of the New Testament. “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his psyche for his sheep” (John, 10:11). Jesus did not mean his mind or soul.
But in Achilles’ dream at the beginning of Book 23 of the Iliad, the psyche of the dead Patroclus visits him, and when he tries to hug it in his arms, it sinks gibbering into the earth. The grizzly scenes in Hades in Books 11 and 24 of the Odyssey use psyche in a similar way. The term in these instances has an almost opposite sense from its meaning in the rest of both Iliad and Odyssey. Not life, but that which exists after life has ceased. Not what is bled out of one’s veins in battle, but the soul or ghost that goes to Hades, a concept that is otherwise unheard of in Greek literature until Pindar, around 500 B.C. In all the intervening writers we have been looking at through the eighth and seventh centuries B.C., psyche is never the ghost-soul, but always has its original meaning of life or livingness.
Now, no amount of twisting about in semantic origins can reconcile these two gratingly different significations for psyche, one relating to life and the other to death. The obvious suggestion here is that these alien incongruities in Homer are interpolations of a period much later than the ostensible period of the poems. And indeed this is what the majority of scholars are sure of on much more ample grounds than we can go into here. Since this meaning of psyche does not appear until Pindar, we may be fairly confident that these passages about Hades and the souls of the dead abiding there in its shades were added into the Homeric poems shortly before Pindar, sometime in the sixth century B.C.
The problem then is how and why did this dramatically different concept of psyche come about? And let us be clear here that the only thing we are talking about is the application of the old word for life to what survives after death and its separability from the body. The actual survival, as we have seen in previous chapters, is not in doubt. According to the theory of the bicameral mind, hallucinations of a person in some authority could continue after death as an everyday matter. And hence the almost universal custom of feeding the corpses after death, and burying them with the appurtenances of life.
I am unable to suggest a truly satisfactory solution. But certainly a part of it is the influence of that towering legend-laden figure of antiquity, Pythagoras. Flourishing around the middle of the sixth century B.C., he is thought to have traveled, as did Solon, to several countries of Asia Minor, particularly Egypt. He then returned and established a kind of mystical secret society in Crotona in southern Italy. They practiced mathematics, vegetarianism, and a firm illiteracy ? to write things down was a source of error. Among these teachings, as we have them at least at third hand from later writers, was the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. After death, a man’s soul enters the body of a newborn infant or animal and so lives another life.
Herodotus has been flouted for saying Pythagoras learned this in Egypt. But if one agrees with the theory of the bicameral mind, the origin of soul transmigration in Egyptian ideas is not difficult to trace. I suggest it was a Greek misunderstanding of the functions of the ba, which, as we saw in II.2, was often the seeming physical embodiment of the ka, or hallucinated voice after death. Often the ba had the form of a bird. Greek, however, had no word for ka (other than a god ? clearly inappropriate), or for ba, indeed no word for a ‘life’ which could be transferred from one material body to another. Hence psyche was pressed into this service. All references to this Pythagorean teaching use psyche in this new sense, as a clearly separable soul that can migrate from one body to another as could an hallucinated voice in Egypt.
Now this does not really solve our problem. For there is nothing here of dead strengthless souls wailing about in a netherworld, guzzling hot blood to get their strength back ? which is the lively scene added into the Odyssey as Rook u. But the psyche here is somewhat the same, a something of a man which leaves the body at death. And what the Hades view of psyche may be is a composite of the Pythagorean teaching with the older view of the buried dead in Greek antiquity.
All this curious development of the sixth century B.C. is extremely important for psychology. For with this wrenching of psyche = life over to psyche = soul, there came other changes to balance it as the enormous inner tensions of a lexicon always do. The word soma had meant corpse or deadness, the opposite of psyche as livingness. So now, as psyche becomes soul, so soma remains as its opposite, becoming body. And dualism, the supposed separation of soul and body, has begun.
But the matter does not stop there. In Pindar, Heraclitus, and others around 500 B.C., psyche and nous begin to coalesce. It is now the conscious subjective mind-space and its self that is opposed to the material body. Cults spring up about this new wonder-provoking division between psyche and soma. It both excites and seems to explain the new conscious experience, thus reinforcing its very existence. The conscious psyche is imprisoned in the body as in a tomb. It becomes an object of wide-eyed controversy. Where is it? And the locations in the body or outside it vary. What is it made of? Water (Thales), blood, air (Anaximenes), breath (Xenophanes), fire (Heraclitus), and so on, as the science of it all begins in a morass of pseudoquestions.
So dualism, that central difficulty in this problem of consciousness, begins its huge haunted career through history, to be firmly set in the firmament of thought by Plato, moving through Gnosticism into the great religions, up through the arrogant assurances of Descartes to become one of the great spurious quandaries of modern psychology.
This has been a long and technical chapter that can be briefly summarized in a metaphor. At the beginning, we noted that archaeologists, by brushing the dust of the ages from around the broken shards of pottery from the period of the Dorian invasions, have been able to reveal continuities and changes from site to site, and so to prove that a complex series of migrations was occurring. In a sense, we have been doing the same thing with language throughout this chapter. We have taken broken-off bits of vocabulary, those that came to refer to some kind of mental function, and by their contexts from text to text, attempted to demonstrate that a huge complex series of changes in mentality was going on during these obscure periods that followed the Dorian invasions in Greece.
Let no one think these are just word changes. Word changes are concept changes and concept changes are behavioral changes. The entire history of religions and of politics and even of science stands shrill witness to that. Without words like soul, liberty, or truth, the pageant of this human condition would have been filled with different roles, different climaxes. And so with the words we have designated as preconscious hypostases, which by the generating process of metaphor through these few centuries unite into the operator of consciousness.
I have now completed that part of the story of Greek consciousness that I intended to tell. More of it could be told, how the two nonstimulus-bound hypostases come to overshadow the rest, how nous and psyche come to be almost interchangeable in later writers, such as Parmenides and Democritus, and take on even new metaphor depths with the invention of logos, and of the forms of truth, virtue, and beauty.
But that is another task. The Greek subjective conscious mind, quite apart from its pseudostructure of soul, has been born out of song and poetry. From here it moves out into its own history, into the narratizing introspections of a Socrates and the spatialized classifications and analyses of an Aristotle, and from there into Hebrew, Alexandrian, and Roman thought. And then into the history of a world which, because of it, will never be the same again.