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Laws versus Claims in Early Greek Religious Ethics Author(s): Arthur W. H. Adkins Source: History of Religions, Vol.

21, No. 3 (Feb., 1982), pp. 222-239 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1062159 . Accessed: 02/10/2013 08:21
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Arthur W. H. Adkins

LAWS VERSUS CLAIMS IN EARLY GREEK RELIGIOUS ETHICS

In the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition, much emphasis is laid upon divine law. Those to whom that tradition is the most familiar consequently are likely to pay great attention to any mention of the law(s) of god(s) in other religious traditions, even where other concepts are of more importance, and are likely to misinterpret those traditions as a result. This paper will be concerned with the 300 years between the writing down of the Homeric poems (if that elusive event occurred about 750 B.C.) and the composition of Sophocles' Antigone about 440 B.c. It will argue that Sophocles' play is primarily concerned not with a conflict between the laws of god(s) and the laws of man but with a conflict of claims, human and divine, upon both Antigone and Creon; and that the situation in the Antigone arises from a view of cosmic order, which already in Homer establishes a relationship between the distribution of functions among the numerous Greek deities, events in the world, and the ethical values of the early Greek. A passage from Homer is very illuminating. In Iliad 15, Zeus discovers that, while he has been dallying with Hera, Poseidon has gone down to the battlefield of Troy, against Zeus' express orders, to
An earlier draft of this paper was read at a conference on Cosmogony and Order, held at the University of Chicago on March 6-8, 1981. 01982 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 0018-2710/82/2103-0003$01.00

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help the Greeks against the Trojans; and he sends his messenger Iris to order Poseidon to return to Olympus. Poseidon makes the following reply in 15.185 ff. (I leave untranslated some Greek words that I propose to discuss): Indeed,agathosthoughhe is he has spokenwhat is excessive,if he intends to restrainagainstmy will and by force me, who am equal in time with him. For we are three brothers,sons of Cronusand Rhea, Zeus and I and Hades who rulesamongthe dead. All thingsaredividedinto three,and eachhas his moira of time. Whenwe cast lots, I drewthe lot to dwell alwaysin the grey sea, and Hades drew the gloomy netherworld, while Zeus drew the broad heavenin the upperair and clouds;but the earthand greatOlympus wereleft in common to all of us. So I will not live at the behestof Zeus. No; strong though he is, let him remainquietly in his thirdmoira. Let him not try to frightenme with the power of his hands as though I were some kakos. It would be better for him to chide his own sons and daughters-who will of necessity obey him when he bids them. Here we have the foundation-document-or rather one of the foundation-documents; but this may well be the earliest of those we have'-of the Greek cosmos. Little is said in Homer of the earlier generations of Greek gods, those of Uranus and Cronus, though Zeus is regularly referred to as "son of Cronus." But here Homer accounts for the disposition of divine spheres of influence, powers, and functions in the world in which he lives; and he does so by imagining the principal gods sharing out by lot the major divisions of the universe. Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades cast lots for the universe, the possessions of the deposed Cronus, as human heirs might cast lots for shares of the estate of their deceased father. In both cases, the share obtained by lot becomes the rightful share of the person who drew it. The share, the moira, is a due share. Poseidon's share is not merely the share he happens to possess, it is the share which he should possess. The distribution has an ethical dimension: there is a cosmic order with ethical implications. (The word kosmos, with its associations of order and beauty, though Greek and indeed Homeric Greek,2was not applied to the universe by any writer before Pythagoras3). For the Greek gods, then, the universe consists of moirai, due shares; and the moirai are moirai of time. We may compare Hesiod Theogony 881 ff.: "But when the blessed gods had completed their
1 There is no means of demonstrating the date at which any early Greek belief was first held or at which any explanation of a belief was first offered. This explanation of divine roles may greatly antedate 750 B.c.; and so may Hesiod's, discussed below. 2 E.g., Odyssey 8.179, Iliad 10.472. The word is important Homeric and early Greek values (see A. W. H. Adkins, "Truth, Kc6olTo and dapEn in the Homeric Poems," Classical Quarterly 22 [1972]: 5-18). 3 See Diogenes Laertius 8.48.

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toil [of fighting with the Titans], they forced the Titans to share their timai [with the Olympians]; then on the suggestion of Earth they bade ... Zeus to rule and have power over the immortals; and Zeus well shared out their timai [plural of time] for them." This is a slightly different foundation-document; but the timai are due shares here too, for they were arrived at by due process, as due process was understood at the time. Now time in early Greek is status-producing material goods and the status which accompanies their possession,4 or a role or function closely linked with the gaining of such goods. Zeus in the Theogony shared out both aspects of time: Poseidon's possessions are the sea, his role is to be (chief) god of the sea; and his worshipers sacrifice to him, offer him material goods as time, in the effort to persuade him to discharge his role as sea-god benignly. Loss of time, or the failure to receive more from the worshiper when the god desires it, may result in disasters in the world of the worshiper. The most dire disaster threatened in Homer occurs in Odyssey 12.377 ff. Under stress of imminent starvation, the comrades of Odysseus killed and ate the Cattle of the Sun which, as his possessions, are part of his time. The Sun makes an impassioned appeal to Zeus: "Father Zeus and you other immortal gods, tinesthai [get back time from, punish]5 the comrades of ... Odysseus, who have killed my cattle.... If they are not to tinein [give as time] a due requital, I will go down to Hades and shine among the dead." If the Sun does not receive requital for his loss of time he will cease to discharge his role (time in its other aspect) in the upper world. The comrades of Odysseus knew that the Sun would be angry at the loss of time and declared their intention of increasing his time on their return to Ithaca by giving him a temple and many offerings in Odyssey 12.345 ff.; but the Sun's speech makes it clear that the cattle had such value in his eyes that only the death of Odysseus' crew will compensate him for his loss.6 The Sun, qua Sun, cannot directly harm Odysseus' crew, so Zeus sinks the ship for him with a thunderbolt. He does not do so altruistically: the Olympians are the gods of daylight and the upper air and need the Sun's light. Here, then, what we would term a "regularity of nature" depends upon the appropriate deity receiving or possessing the appropriate
4 For time in Homer, see A. W. H. Adkins, "'Honour' and 'Punishment' in the Homeric Poems," Bulletin of the Institute for Classical Studies 7 (1960): 23-32. (hereafter referred to as "Honour"). 5 Ibid. 6 In Homeric society it rests with the offended party to determine whether offered compensation is adequate. Agamemnon vainly tries to placate Achilles in Iliad 9; the suitors vainly try to placate Odysseus in Odyssey 22.

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material goods (time) if he is to discharge his function (time); and his possession of that function is his moira, his due share of time. If the worshiper forgets to give due sacrifice-which is time-or does not realize that a deity requires time at a particular moment, disasters in the world may result. Apollo's motive in sending the plague of Iliad 1 is at first assumed to be anger at not receiving a hecatomb when he wanted one.7 Artemis in Iliad 9.535-42 sent a destructive wild boar because Oeneus sacrificed hecatombs to all the other gods and goddesses but either forgot, or did not realize that Artemis wanted a hecatomb. Poseidon, in Iliad 7.446-53, complains bitterly to Zeus that the Greeks have built a fine big wall to protect their ships but have offered no hecatombs: if men discover that they can offer no hecatombs and escape scot free they will offer no hecatombs, and the gods will lose time. Zeus replies that a lesser god might have such fears but that Poseidon need have none, and he advises Poseidon to destroy the wall when the Greeks have left Troy. (The Greek gods are not believed to be omnipotent and must demonstrate their powers to help or harm if they are to receive time.) All disaster or prosperity in the realm of nature is ascribed by the early Greeks to the action of deity. Since deities are angered when they do not receive time, it follows that the well-being of human beings, which depends upon the benignity of the world of nature, must be assured by sending a regular supply of time-performing sacrifices, building temples, dedicating statues and other material goods-to the gods, who will then, it is hoped, abstain from sending plagues, wild boars, famines, droughts, and storms at sea and disa more kindly manner. They make charge their functions-timai-in demands for time upon human beings. If those demands are met they are more likely to discharge their functions benignly; but is there any sense of "ought" in which they ought to do so? To answer this question, we must return to the cosmic order in which gods and human beings alike live. The only significant difference between gods and human beings in Homer, apart from the fact that mortals die and gods do not, is that gods have more arete, time and strength than men.8 Among men, who are themselves ranked in terms of arete and time, those who have most are the agathoi, the large landowners, the members of the hereditary ruling class. To be agathos (and the word is a commendatory adjective, not a title) is to be prosperous-endowed with time-brave and effective in war, well equipped,
7 Iliad 1.65-67. It is assumed that Apollo is the offended deity, since his moira (or one aspect of it) is to be the plague-deity. 8 Ibid., 9.498.

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socially superior and politically powerful; and the man who possesses these qualities has arete.9 Having a third share of the cosmos each, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades may be thought of as land- (or sea-) owners on the largest scale, with the lesser gods somewhat lower in status and possessions. Even the mightiest earthly landowner is a petty chieftain by comparison. But human beings and gods all form part of the same order, an order which is at the same time social, political, and religious, and are capable of being evaluated in terms of arete and time, from Zeus to the atimetos metanastes, the wanderer without time, the homeless beggar.'1 It follows that the relationships of any being lower on the scale with any being higher on the scale may be evaluated in very similar terms. The Homeric cosmic order, then, may be characterized in terms of one's arete and one's moira of time. Also important is philotes, a set of objective cooperative relationships existing between an individual, his kin by marriage, and some few others." By sacrifice, the mortal endeavored to create a philotes relationship with his deities; but he thought of them as the supreme aristocrats of his universe, and he knew what to expect of aristocrats. He knew that his deities demanded time from him in the form of sacrifice, and he hoped for a return; but he knew that the philotes of one aristocrat with another took precedence over any philotes that an aristocrat might have with an inferior. The Trojans had always performed due sacrifice, and Zeus was on their side. Yet Troy fell, though the most powerful of the gods could presumably have saved it; and in Iliad 4.51-67 Hera, who hated the Trojans, makes her plea for the destruction of their city. Hera is (a) a goddess of lineage equal to that of Zeus; (b) eldest daughter of Cronus; (c) wife of Zeus, who is the supreme ruler of the gods. Since Zeus is mightier than she, Hera cannot hope to resist him by force; but she has claims based on time and philotes which, she maintains, should be acknowledged. Zeus sometimes asserts his position by threat of violence,12 but here he acknowledges Hera's claims
9 See A. W. H. Adkins, Merit and Responsibility: A Study in Greek Values (Oxford, 1960), chap. 3. 10Achilles twice complains that Agamemnon has treated him as if he were an atimetos metanastes (Iliad 9.648, 16.59). n See M. I. Finley, The World of Odysseus, 2d rev. ed. (New York, 1978); and A. W. H. Adkins, "'Friendship' and 'Self-Sufficiency' in Homer and Aristotle," Classical Quarterly 13 (1963): 30-45, and "Homeric Gods and the Values of Homeric Society," Journal of Hellenic Studies 92 (1972): 11-17. The objective nature of philotes is shown, e.g., but the speeches of Glaucus and Diomedes (Iliad 6.119-231). Discovering that a pact of guest-friendship was established by their grandfathers, the two will not fight with one another, even though they find themselves on opposite sides in the Trojan War. 1As in liad 8.5-27.

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and sacrifices his philoi of lower status-human beings-in order to avoid strife among the gods and to preservephilotes between himself, Hera, and their respective supporters. Similarly, at the beginning of the Odyssey, Athena points out that Odysseus always used to perform sacrifice to the Olympians when he was at Troy: why then is Zeus so angry with him? Zeus replies that not he, but Poseidon, is angry with Odysseus because Odysseus blinded Poseidon's son Polyphemus, the Cyclops; but that, since Poseidon is away among the Ethiopians and will not notice, he will tell Calypso to let Odysseus set off homeward. Odysseus embarks, and as soon as Poseidon sees Odysseus on his raft he raises a great storm and wrecks it. Having offered his sacrifice, the Homeric worshiper knows that he cannot rely upon help from the deities, and he believes that one reason for their failure to help may be that the gods are reluctant to cause strife on Olympus for the sake of mere mortals. (It should be remembered that Greeks of this period accept without queston that success and failure are god-given. They endeavor to understand divine motives in the hope of persuading the gods, where possible, to favor them; but they realize that persuasion may be impossible, for they know that cities which have performed abundant sacrifice have nevertheless been destroyed.) Another reason for divine failure to help may be that one is striving with another mortal who has a stronger claim upon deity. In Iliad 24, Apollo complains that Achilles is dragging the corpse of Hector behind his chariot with impunity: should not the gods rescue Hector, who has always offered due sacrifice? (Apollo favors the Trojans.) Hera is indignant. Hector is a mere mortal; but Achilles' mother was a goddess. In 62-63, Hera says, "You went to the wedding, Apollo, comrade of kakoi, base, inferior people." Achilles is related to the divine aristocracy and must have a greater claim to time than one who is not. Zeus mediates. Achilles and Hector shall not have the same time. It would be inappropriate for them to do so, for they are not equals. Priam shall bring Achilles an abundant ransom (time); but then Achilles shall give Priam Hector's body for burial, since Hector always offered abundant sacrifice. The Homeric worshiper, then, has a view of cosmic order which is value-laden, and therefore has an ethical dimension, but does not put his interests-no matter how he behaves-high on any divine list of priorities. It is an order not of laws but of claims which must be adjudicated, and even the mightiest mortal knows he may encounter a more powerful status claim than his own. Again, it is in the last resort a precarious order. It is true that since the moirai-from that of Zeus to that of the meanest of mortals-are

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due shares, the cosmic order, when moira is to the fore, favors the status quo: the rich man in his oikos, the poor man at his gate, the gods on Olympus, all's well with the world. However, not moira, but arete, the power and prowess of the agathos, is the most important value in Homeric society; for where the noble household, the oikos, is the largest effective social, political, and economic unit, one's possession of one's moira is likely to depend on the power to defend it if one is an agathos, or the ability of the agathos head of one's oikos to do so if one is not. The maintenance or restoration of the status quo may be achieved peacefully. So, if all the suitors were from Ithaca,'3 Telemachus might go up and down, and whenever he found someone who had eaten one of Odysseus' sheep ask for another in exchange, until there should be tisis, recovery of time, and the status quo be at least restored. A slightly unusual example will make the point clearer. In Odyssey 13, Alcinous, King of Phaeacia, suggests to his counselors that, before they send Odysseus back to Ithaca, each should give him a tripod and a cauldron, and, in 14-15, "then we will collect from among the people and tinesthai; for it is hard for one man to give and get no return." Giving presents to Odysseus will reduce the time of Alcinous and his counselors; and on this occasion, since time is going out of Phaeacia, giving presents will reduce the amount of time present in the community. Alcinous accordingly proposes that they go and collect time from the other members of the community to restore the relative proportions among the moirai of Phaeacia. Restoration of the status quo may also be imposed by force, as Odysseus imposes it in his own household on his return or as Zeus imposes it on the Sun's behalf in Odyssey 12.415-19; and the maintenance of the status quo may at any time require the strong right arm of the agathos. If the due moirai of time are maintained, if this "ought" is respected, the order is stable; but arete may be used also to upset the status quo. In the absence of Odysseus, the suitors in Ithaca are using their arete to plunder his (and Telemachus') time; while Achilles complains that Agamemnon is using his political power as commanderin-chief to deprive him of time.'4 The speech of Poseidon in Iliad 15 shows that Zeus has used his arete to encroach upon the other deities. Poseidon claims that he is equal in time, that he has an equal moira, and that the earth and Olympus were left common to all; but "agathos though he is" and "strong though he is" indicate that Zeus is
13

14Iliad 1.161-72, 411-12; 9.315-19.

Odyssey 2.76-79.

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more powerful, has more arete, than any other god.'5 And on this occasion Poseidon yields and leaves the battlefield, though by his own account he has a right to be there.16 Zeus' arete gives him the power to change the moirai, or to forbid behavior which is acceptable in terms of the moirai; and he is prepared to use it. To sum up the situation in Homer: a) The power and authority of the Homeric gods depends on their possession of a function, role or area of competence,a moira of time. In are expectedto make that powerand authoritythe worshipers acknowledging offerings,which are termedtime. Eachgod and goddessexpectsto receivea moira of that time and is wrathfullyvengeful and causes disastersin the realm of nature if the moira is not offered. b) Gods and men are alike evaluatedin termsof arete,time, andphilotes. c) In the last resort, arete prevails over moira, and the cosmic order is 7 precarious. This a beliefin divinelaws d) pictureof cosmic orderdoes not encourage but rathergeneratesa set of claimswhichmay conflictand require adjudication. The effects of this view of cosmic order could be illustrated from virtually any work of early Greek literature. Here I shall discuss two tragedies, the Eumenides of Aeschylus and the Antigone of Sophocles. In the following paragraphs, numbers in parentheses refer to the work being discussed. In Aeschylus' Eumenides, Apollo supports the matricide Orestes against the Furies, who take the side of the murdered Clytemnestra. Athena and a jury of Athenian citizens decide the case at the first sitting of the homicide court on the Areopagus in Athens. The first scene is set in Delphi. Apollo assures Orestes that he will not betray him to his enemies (64-66). To do so would mark Apollo as deficient in arete, for the agathos must protect his dependents. Apollo expresses his disgust for the Furies, who are hated by men and (Olympian) gods alike (73). (The distinction between Olympian and chthonic deities is present in Homer but is much more emphasized
In ibid., 8.5-27 Zeus says that if he let down a chain from heaven, and all the gods and goddesses took one end while Zeus took the other, they could not pull him from Olympus but he could pull all of them up. 6He does not yield because Zeus is enforcing some higher moral law or ethical value against the Greeks: Zeus is helping the Trojans as a favor to Thetis, Achilles' mother, since Achilles asked her to ensure that the Greeks could not win without him (ibid., 1.357-412.) 17 The Age of Zeus and the Olympians had been preceded by the Age of Uranus and the Age of Cronus (Hesiod Theogony 105-210, 453-506; Works and Days 109-20); and Aeschylus' Prometheus Vinctus shows that it was not believed that the reign of Zeus must last forever. The reigns of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus all rested on power, and might be overthrown by greater power, or by craft.
15

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in fifth-century tragedy, and it is of central importance to both Eumenides and Antigone.) The ghost of Clytemnestra appears (94) and chides the Furies, who are asleep. She claims that she is bereft of time as a result of their idleness. She has given them many sacrifices, but they are sleeping rather than tormenting Orestes. It is the time of the Furies to haunt matricides (209), and since they seem in origin to be curse-spirits they might be expected to discharge their function automatically; yet Clytemnestra thinks it necessary to sacrifice to them, to give them "tendance."18 Once fully awake, the Furies begin to complain of Apollo, who has stolen the matricide from them (153): how can this be just? But the younger gods do such things (162), exercizing their might in all things beyond dike.'9 They add (171) that Apollo has honored mortal things contrary to the nomos20 of the gods, and has destroyed the moirai that have existed from olden time. (If one prints moirai with a capital m21 the word means "the sharers,"if in lowercase, "the shares." Either interpretation clearly alludes to the distribution of divine functions.) Apollo, to protect a mere mortal, is transgressing the boundaries of the divine moirai. In so doing, he is acting contrary to the nomos of the gods, which seems to be "Do not give time to mortals, and do not upset the apportionment of the divine moirai." The Furies continue to complain that Apollo has deprived them of time. After the verdict goes against them, they say again (780, 810) that they are atimoi, that they are sorrowing for loss of time (792, 822). Their complaint is not entirely clear: If they regarded Orestes, qua matricide, as part of their possessions, then they are atimoi in the sense in which Achilles was atimos when he lost Briseis to Agamemnon in the Iliad, and their complaint is precise and justified. If they are complaining that they have lost the function of haunting matricides, their complaint is not justified, since the trial has established not that anyone can commit matricide with impunity but that Orestes was justified in killing Clytemnestra to avenge Agamemnon. But since the Furies believe themselves to be atimoi, and now blame the Athenian
The term is Jane Harrison's (see her Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, 3d ed. [Cambridge, 1922], chap.l). Her assumption that the Greeks performed rites of tendance to the Olympians, rites of aversion to the dead, is too simple. In the first extant Greek account of rites performed to the dead, in Odyssey 11, Odysseus tends the ghosts in order to summon them to him. For Furies as curse-spirits, see H. J. Rose, A Handbook of Greek Religion, 6th ed. (London, 1960). 19 "Beyond justice," or, more probably, "beyond their claim." 20 "Law" or "custom." The latter is here the less misleading term, but the two concepts are not clearly distinguished in early Greece, and neither translation is adequate. 21 There is no distinction between capital and lowercase in fifth-century Greek script.
18

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jury for their loss of time, they may be expected to wreak revenge on Attica and the Athenians. Athena tries to assure the Furies that they are not bereft of time (824) and subsequently makes them an offer, saying that they can choose to receive from her a share in the land of Attica (867), "benefiting and receiving benefits, and well supplied with time," an offer repeated a few lines later (890-91). The Furies reply (894), "Suppose I accept. What time awaits meT' They evidently mean by time "office, role, or function," and Athena gives them an appropriate reply, which they accept. Athena in the Eumenides appears as a polis-deity:22 a concept whose importance will become clearer later in the discussion of the Antigone. She persuades the Furies to become Athenian polis-deities themselves, receiving time from the Athenians in the form of sacrifice, and benefiting Athens in return. Aeschylus' cosmic order, like that of Homer, contains numerous deities with moirai of time; and a deity with sufficient power, arete, may employ it to overset the moirai. Apollo is not portrayed as doing so capriciously: Orestes is his suppliant, and "if one voluntarily betrays a suppliant, his wrath is terrible among gods and men" (23234). But before the trial Apollo is not evidently supporting a higher moral law but exercising his power to defend his own. Nor is it clear that the trial establishes any such law. When Apollo says (614-21) that Orestes acted justly in killing Clytemnestra and that Apollo, being a prophet, will not lie, adding that he had never prophesied anything which Zeus did not bid him, it is unclear whether Zeus bade Apollo say that Orestes' matricide was just on the grounds that it was just or that Zeus' saying that it was just rendered it so.23 The speech closes with reminders of the power of Zeus (619-21); the Furies say that the younger gods have ridden roughshod over the old nomoi (778-79); and in addition to cajoling the Furies, Athena also points out to them that she has the key to the storehouse where Zeus' thunderbolt is kept (827-28). As the new order is established, Zeus' power is more to the fore than his justice.24 The only divine nomos mentioned is that which should maintain the due appointment of the moirai, and Zeus and Apollo have paid no heed to that. As in Homer, the many gods make many claims upon mankind, but it is now emphasized that the claims may be incompatible. If
22 She is not confined to Athens, however. Orestes recognizes (Eumenides 292-98) that Athena may be elsewhere when he calls on her, as indeed she was (397-404); but her motivations during the trial and its aftermath are those of the chief deity of Athens. 23 The question is first explicitly discussed in Plato's Euthyphro 10al-llb5. 24 Cf. the behavior of Zeus in Homer above.

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Orestes killed Clytemnestra, the Furies would haunt him; but if he did not kill Clytemnestra, Apollo threatened him with woes (465-67). There will be a fuller discussion of this problem in the context of the Antigone. Sophocles' Antigone is usually interpreted as being concerned with the conflict between the laws of man and the higher-moral-laws of God,25 or of the gods, largely on the basis of a few lines in one speech made by Antigone to which Creon, usually represented as an entirely secular ruler, makes no reply. Antigone for the most part invokes quite different motives, to which Creon does respond; and the denouement employs quite different values and beliefs from those in a higher moral law, values and beliefs closely resembling those of the cosmic order we have been discussing. There is evidently insufficient space to discuss the whole play in detail here. I will briefly discuss the motivations of Antigone and CreOn, the role of religious and nonreligious motivation for each of them, the cosmic order which each acknowledges, and Sophocles' solution of his problem. At the beginning of the play, Creon has ordered a burial with full honors for Eteocles, who died defending Thebes, no burial at all for Polyneices, his brother, who died in single combat with Eteocles and killed Eteocles while an Argive army was attempting to put Polyneices on the throne of Thebes by force. Antigone refuses to accept Creon's edict, As blood kin, a member of the household, Polyneices is a philos (10, 73, 99) no matter what he has done, and, since human arete receives its primary expression in defending the philoi of the household, arete-as Antigone interprets it-demands that she run any risk to ensure for Polyneices the time of a burial. What she is performing may be a religious act, but her motives in performing it are not religious, either in the first scene or in her last, when she reiterates the motive of philia (898-904). In opposing Antigone's arguments-in effect, though he has not heard them-Creon says that he would treat no one as a philos who was a foe of the polis. He is frequently treated as a secular ruler who justifies everything by the good of the polis. The latter claim is certainly true. The agathos ruler or citizen is he who benefits the city, the kakos he who by action or default causes the city's harm (178-81, 194-206); and behavior which benefits the city seems to be just, behavior which harms it unjust, per se (207-10). No friendship of individuals or members of smaller groups can override the claims of
25 The most conspicuous exception is B. M. W. Knox, in The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy, Sather Classical Lectures, vol. 35 (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1964), chaps. 3 and 4.

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the city on the citizens, with the consequence that the claim that the agathos should help his philos must be overridden by the claim that the agathos should benefit his polis. But Creon is not secular. When the burial of Polyneices is discovered, and the Chorus tentatively suggests that the gods may have taken a hand, Creon indignantly asks, "Was it for high reward (hupertimontes) of trusty service that they sought to hide his nakedness, who came to burn their land, and scatter its [their] laws to the winds? Or dost thou behold the gods honouring [timontas] the wicked (kakous)T' (284-88).26 Those who read the Antigone without considering the context of values and beliefs in which it was written may well write these lines off as the cynicism of an unbeliever.27But in ancient Greece the belief is not cynical. Since poleis have existed the gods of the polis have been expected to be patriotic, to help their fellow citizens and harm enemies. Solon and Tyrtaeus worship such gods. Solon proclaims to the Athenians28 that neither Zeus nor any other gods will destroy Athens, for the mighty goddess Athena (whom we have already met in a similar role in the Eumenides) protects it. (The disaster with which Solon threatens Athens will be caused by the wrong-doing of the citizens, which Athena is evidently expected to overlook. The harm is an indirect consequence of their actions, not their deliberate aim, as in Polyneices' case. They are not kakoi in the sense in which Polyneices is kakos.) Again, Eteocles and the Chorus, in Aeschylus' Seven against Thebes, pray to the gods in just such terms, reminding them of the annual round of public and private sacrifices made to them to ensure their patriotic support; and a similar round of sacrifices was offered to the gods of Athens and all other historical Greek poleis, with the same goal. We have seen Athena offering the Furies a share of the Athenian sacrifies in Eumenides 867-69. I quote a few lines from the long choral prayer of the Seven against Thebes: "What will you do? Will you betray your own city, you, Ares, who have long dwelt in the land? God of the golden helmet, look, look upon the polis which once you accounted beloved [euphiletan, from the root of philosr' (104 ff.). "O all-sufficing deities, O perfect tower-wardens of this land, do not betray the polis under the threat of war to an army of alien speech" (166 ff.). "O philoi deities-going about the city show that you are patriotic [philopoleis]. Remember the sacrifices offered by the people and, remembering them, help. Be mindful of the sacrificial rites of the city, I pray" (174ff.).
Translations of the Antigone are from Sir Richard Jebb, Sophocles' Antigone, 3d ed. (Cambridge, 1900). 27 Most interpreters pass over the lines without comment. But see Knox. 28 Solon 4 West, 1-4; cf. Tyrtaeus 11 West, 1-2.
26

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If the city survives the war, the time will of course continue to be given. So Eteocles assures the gods (271-78): "I tell the gods who possess and protect this polis, those who go about its plains and ward over its agora, the stream of Dirce and the water of Ismenus, that, if all fares well and the polis is saved, bloodying with sacrificial animals the hearths of the gods, and slaying bulls to those to whom I am now praying, I will set up trophies, and will establish the spear-struck armor of our foes before the gods' temples for their sacred dwellings." These, the polis-gods of Thebes, are the gods whom Creon expects to hate Polyneices as much as he does; and if they respond to such prayers, surely his expectation is not unreasonable. Antigone has her gods; the gods of the dead, whom Creon accuses her of revering to the exclusion of all others (777), and the gods of her family. With respect to the latter Antigone is in a somewhat awkward position, for the gods of the Labdacidae- in particular Ares and Aphrodite, whose daughter Harmonia married Cadmus, Antigone's ancestor-are the gods, or some of the gods, of Thebes; and those gods would presumably have one set of values and make one set of claims as gods of Thebes, quite a different set as gods of the household of the Labdacidae. The Chorus prays to them as patriotic polis-deities in the Seven against Thebes 135-42. Antigone, then, is caught in a web of divine claims upon her, claims which cannot all be satisfied. (So is Creon, but the point is less emphasized.) If the claims of the polis-deities are as Creon maintainsand his view is not implausible-Antigone cannot satisfy their demands and also those of the gods of the family and the dead. If we recall that the cosmic order which includes gods, men, and their spheres of influence is one order employing the same values throughout, we shall be less surprised to discover that Antigone-and Creon-also have semantic and conceptual problems. Two groups of words are relevant here: hubris and hubrizein, and sebein, eusebeia, and other words from the *seb-root. I shall term claims that one should not commit hubris and that one should manifest eusebeia *seb-claims. Hubris is used of human beings who "get above themselves" with respect to the gods, and some of its most famous usages occur in such contexts; but it is also used of anyone lower on the arete/time scale who offends, possibly by claiming justice for himself or another, a human being higher on the arete/time scale. Creon accuses Antigone of hubris, possibly in part to the polis-gods but most evidently to himself; but the range of the word gives it religious connotations and overtones, even when it is used of hubris toward another human being. Again, sebein and eusebeia are used of reverence and of acts

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expressing reverence, while dussebeia and related words are used of lack of reverence to a deity; but they are also used of reverence and lack of reverence to those human beings higher on the arete/time scale.29 If we suppose that when Antigone says that by engaging in eusebeia she acquired dussebeia (924) she means that she revered the gods and failed to show reverence to Creon, we perceive part of the semantic complexity; but if we remember that the city's gods may plausibly be believed to disapprove of Antigone's action, which then becomes dussebeia to them, and that the action of burying Polyneices is an act of eusebeia to Polyneices, the full semantic complexity, together with the network of incompatible *seb-claims to which Antigone is called upon to respond, becomes apparent. Whatever she does will be at once dussebeia and eusebeia. Yet Antigone's final words, as she goes out to be entombed alive, and in fact to kill herself, are ten eusebian sebisasa (943). She claims that she has satisfied all the claims of eusebeia. Sophocles evidently agrees, but the claim requires demonstration. The blind seer Teiresias tells Creon how and why he has offended the gods and what he must now do. When Teiresias attempted burnt offering, "the Fire-god showed no flame,"-an expression which emphasizes the absence of deity from the sacrifice-for the birds have carried carrion from the corpse of Polyneices to the altars of the gods above who will not accept sacrificial meats thus polluted. Second, warns Teiresias (1066), not many days will elapse "(E)re one begotten of thine own loins shall have been given by thee, a corpse for a corpse; because thou hast thrust children of the sunlight to the shades, and ruthlessly lodged a living soul in the grave; but keepest in this world one who belongs to the gods infernal, a corpse unburied, unhonoured, all unhallowed. In such thou hast no part, nor have the gods above, but this is a violence done them by thee. Therefore the avenging destroyers lie in wait for thee, the Furies of Hades and of the gods, that thou mayest be taken in these same ills." There was no way of adjudicating among the *seb-claims of the polis-gods, the gods of the household, and the gods of the dead, as *seb-claims. But under certain circumstances an adjudication may be possible; and Sophocles has chosen his ground very carefully in the Antigone. The realm of the Olympian gods, the gods of life, fresh air, sunlight, and daylight, is clearly demarcated in Greek belief and ritual
29 For more evidence, see A. W. H. Adkins, Moral Values and Political Behaviour in Ancient Greece (London and Toronto, 1972), pp. 82-92. Some *seb-claims possessed by human beings derive from relationships, e.g., that between host and guest, which were believed to be especially protected by deity (see, e.g., Sophocles Philoctetes 1163).

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from that of the chthonic deities, the deities of death.30 Each group has its own moira of time, of function, due ritual, offering, and prayer. Olympians must withdraw from the presence, or even the approach, of death, as Artemis withdraws from her dying worshiper and proteg6 Hippolytus at the end of Euripides' play (Hippolytus 1437-39). To refuse burial to Polyneices, and to permit his carrion remains to foul and pollute the altars of the Olympian gods, is both to offend the Olympians and to deprive the chthonic gods of their due moira of time; behavior which from Homer onward ensures the wrath of the deities concerned.31To bury Antigone alive is to put into the moira of the chthonic deities a living person who should not be there and to deprive the Olympians of a worshiper. Again, to foul and pollute the altars of the Olympians is to interrupt the flow of time to those gods, to deprive them of part of their moira of time; and the wrath of the deities concerned can be guaranteed. The situation on which human well-being depends has been destroyed in Thebes by Creon's actions. Disaster for Creon is inevitable, and disaster promptly follows. Antigone is discovered to have hanged herself. Haemon, having vainly tried to kill his father, kills himself, and Creon's wife Eurydice, on learning what has happened, also commits suicide, cursing Creon as she dies. The Chorus ends the play with a general reflection: "Wisdom [to phronein] is the supreme part of happiness [eudaimonia]; and reverence towards the gods [meden aseptein] must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise [to phroneinr' (1347-53). How does this comment bear upon the events of the play? From the manner and order of presentation of actions and evaluations it seems clear that no criticism of Antigone is intended. Antigone proclaims her eusebeia in her last three words: ten eusebeian sebisasa (943); and her judgment is not subsequently challenged. Humbled by disaster, Creon acknowledges his folly and errors, and no one disagrees. Sophocles portrays Creon as entirely in the wrong. Those scholars who have held that Antigone and Creon are both right and both wrong-in terms of fifth-century Athenian values-are justified only insofar as, in terms of the values and beliefs of the day, both Antigone and Creon can make a strong case. But Sophocles rejects Creon's case, and it remains to enquire how successful he is in so doing and to restate the problems posed by Greek religious beliefs and Greek values-by Greek cosmic order.
30See Harrison. 31 See above.

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The highest goal of Greek mortals and Greek gods is that eudaimonia which was mentioned in the closing lines of the play. "Happiness" is not really an adequate translation; the word suggests well-being in every possible sense of the term. ("Human flourishing" has recently been suggested as an equivalent.)32Practical wisdom and reverence toward the gods, meden aseptein (avoidance of dussebeia toward the gods and the manifestation of eusebeia toward the gods), are now said to be necessary conditions for the achievement of eudaimonia. Sophocles seems to be saying that provided one takes care to give preference to the *seb-claims of gods over the *seb-claims of mere mortals, eudaimonia can be achieved. It may well be these closing lines which have induced so many to view Creon as secular, Antigone as devout. But we have seen that each sebei some deities, fails to sebein others. When Creon asserts that Antigone sebei Hades alone, the claim is hyperbole but not nonsense. Each is caught in a tangle of *seb-claims possessed by deities and human beings, not all of which can be fulfilled since the same action will be dussebeia to one deity or mortal, eusebeia to another. The program of observing eusebeia to all deities seems incapable of fulfillment. We must accordingly inquire why Creon is in the wrong, Antigone in the right, and what problem Sophocles has solved. To repeat, Creon is wrong because he has performed an action which can be represented as denying both the gods above and the gods below their due moira of time and also as fouling and polluting the altars which are one of the means by which time travels to the gods above, who include the polis-gods. So in the circumstances Creon has offended, denied time to, committed dussebeia against the polis-gods too; and they and the chthonic deities have alike sought their revenge. But none of this in any way resembles the transgression of a moral law higher than human law. Antigone undeniably mentions agrapta nomima, unwritten laws or customs, of the gods (453-55), though not as frequently as do modern scholars, and she contrasts them with Creon's decrees. Just as undeniably, these agrapta nomima do not appear prominently among Antigone's motives, and if we consider the cosmic order in which she lives their lack of prominence is not surprising. It is equally unsurprising that Creon pays no attention to Antigone's argument based upon the agrapta nomima (473-96); that no single law or custom is enunciated by Antigone, much less a set of them; and that the
32 See J. M. Cooper, Reason and Human Good in Aristotle (Cambridge, Mass., 1975), p. 89.

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denouement invokes none, unless it be "give every deity his due, his moira of time." Such an interpretation would bring the nomima into line with the cosmic order of early Greece, as we have seen it in Homer, the Eumenides, and the Antigone, and it would resemble the usage of the Eumenides, where the nomoi of the gods appear to be the customs whereby the gods in the past have respected one another's moirai of time in the sense of functions and areas of responsibility; for it seems reasonable to conclude that the worshiper should give a moira of time to all deities in the sense of rendering unto them such sacrifice and material time as each deems appropriate, which readily includes giving dead bodies to those deities whose function it is to receive dead bodies. (Note that nothing in this account renders it absurd, in the absence of Sophocles' argument, to suppose that a polis-deity should wish, like Creon, to punish an enemy of the polis by denying him burial.) To term such behavior on the part of the worshiper a nomimon of the gods would be to say that the gods customarily expect it. Whether or not the agrapta nomima are thus accommodated to the cosmic order of moirai of time, it is apparent that the order, in the Antigone as elsewhere in early Greece, is more fundamental and important. It should also be clear that "give each deity his due moira of time" does not oppose a higher, divinely underwritten moral law to human law, for (a) the demands of Greek deities may be incompatible; (b) some divine demands for time, for example the sacrifice of Iphigeneia, are in conflict with ethics and are certainly not believed, either by the ancient Greeks or by ourselves, to derive from a higher moral law; (c) Tiresias' account of the gods' motives for punishing Creon represents them not as moved by the injustice or cruelty of Creon's action but by the affront to or denial of divine time. Sophocles' Antigone is a masterpiece of tragic drama. It also solves the problem of values and beliefs posed by the situation of Creon and Antigone. There is little to suggest that Sophocles wished to offer a general demonstration of the superiority of divine law to human law. That is an assumption of modern scholars. He certainly does not offer such a demonstration. For, had Creon not thus affronted the gods, nothing said in the Antigone (or in early Greek literature in general) need restrain Creon from committing unjust acts for the city's benefit or for his own. Suppose him to have buried Polyneices, and then, in the interests of civic harmony or for some other reason, unjustly imprisoned Antigone and Ismene for life or sold them abroad into slavery. If his motive was to secure civic harmony and well-being, the polis-deities would presumably approve, for the polis benefits and their moirai of time are unaffected; and if Creon acted

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for some other reason they need not treat the matter as any of their concern. In either case, Creon need not expect punishment from them for an action which was either eusebeia toward them or, at all events, not dussebeia. The gods of the family might disapprove, though they show little inclination to defend the younger generation against the older; but should they do so, the result is that the action-if Creon acted for the good of the polis-is both eusebeia and dussebeia, and the problem of the household and the polis remains, in both sacred and secular terms, in a form to which the solution of the Antigone is quite irrelevant. The cosmic order of the Eumenides and Antigone is the cosmic order of early Greece in general, whose essentials are to be found already in Homer and Hesiod. That order generates claims to be satisfied and, if need be, adjudicated, rather than divine laws to be obeyed. The early Greeks sought to reach the elusive goal of eudaimonia not by obeying the moral laws of heaven but by picking their way through a confused tangle of competitive and cooperative values and thickets of conflicting claims of numerous deities, whose own values are far from those which, in our own culture, we associate with deity. That phronein, practical wisdom, should be most important is hardly surprising. University of Chicago

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