Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lycophron of Chalcis

In his book on Callimachus, Alan Cameron mentions one of that poet's colleagues at the Museum, Lycophron of Calchis, who was a cataloguer for Philadelphus, and also wrote twenty tragedies, according to the Suda. At least two of his plays dealt with contemporary issues: a tragedy about the city of Cassandreia, founded by Cassander in 315, and seized by Apollodorus sometime around the year 280; the other was a satyr play about his teacher Menedemus of Eretria. But he is best known for a messenger speech of 1474 lines which Cameron describes as "the most obscure surviving Greek poem," containing 518 words that don't appear anywhere else in Greek literature!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Execution Techniques

In his chapter on the development of Athenian democracy, from the book The Ancient Greeks: A Critical History, John Fine discusses some of the methods employed for executions among the Greeks.

One widespread practice, especially in earlier times, was stoning. In Athens, at least, this was usually the result of an informal lynch mob, rather than an officially sanctioned punishment. It was practiced as late as 479BC. The Persian Mardonius, while occupying Athens, sent a messenger, Murychides, to Salamis with an offer for the Athenians. Lycides, an Athenian councillor, merely suggested that the proposal be sent to the assembly for consideration, and he was stoned to death by his fellow councillors. Herodotus relates the story (9.5):
τῶν δὲ βουλευτέων Λυκίδης εἶπε γνώμην ὡς ἐδόκεε ἄμεινον εἶναι δεξαμένους τὸν λόγον, τόν σφι Μουρυχίδης προφέρει, ἐξενεῖκαι ἐς τὸν δῆμον. ὃ μὲν δὴ ταύτην τὴν γνώμην ἀπεφαίνετο, εἴτε δὴ δεδεγμένος χρήματα παρὰ Μαρδονίου, εἴτε καὶ ταῦτά οἱ ἑάνδανε: Ἀθηναῖοι δὲ αὐτίκα δεινὸν ποιησάμενοι οἵ τε ἐκ τῆς βουλῆς καὶ οἱ ἔξωθεν ὡς ἐπύθοντο, περιστάντες Λυκίδην κατέλευσαν βάλλοντες, τὸν δὲ Ἑλλησπόντιον Μουρυχίδην ἀπέπεμψαν ἀσινέα. γενομένου δὲ θορύβου ἐν τῇ Σαλαμῖνι περὶ τὸν Λυκίδην, πυνθάνονται τὸ γινόμενον αἱ γυναῖκες τῶν Ἀθηναίων, διακελευσαμένη δὲ γυνὴ γυναικὶ καὶ παραλαβοῦσα ἐπὶ τὴν Λυκίδεω οἰκίην ἤισαν αὐτοκελέες, καὶ κατὰ μὲν ἔλευσαν αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα κατὰ δὲ τὰ τέκνα.

[Lycides, one of the councillors, proposed that it seemed best to take the offer which Murychides brought before them and put it to the people. He declared this plan, either having taken money from Mardonius, or because it was pleasing to him. Immediately the Athenians were furious, both those from the council, and those outside when they heard of it. Circling Lycides and throwing, they stoned him to death; but they sent off Murychides the Hellespontian unharmed. With much noise growing in Salamis about Lycides, the women of the Athenians learned the news, hearing from one another and encouraging each other, they went to the house of Lycides on their own, and stoned to death his wife and children.]

This story was very popular among patriotic orators of the 4th century, according to Fine, and was used to illustrate the commitment of their forefathers to freedom; but in their versions it had become a deliberate decree rather than a spontaneous lynching.

Another method of execution at Athens until the end of the 5th century involved τὸ βάραθρον, a rocky gulf behind the Acropolis fixed with spikes and hooks, into which victims (οἱ βάραθροι) were hurled to their death. The word βάραθρον also came to be used metaphorically for ruin or perdition, as in Demosthenes 8.45, ἐν τῷ βαράθρῳ χειμάζειν, to winter in that hellish place. Herodotus relates the story of a messenger from Darius being thrown ἐς τὸ βάραθρον (7.133):
ἐς δὲ Ἀθήνας καὶ Σπάρτην οὐκ ἀπέπεμψε Ξέρξης ἐπὶ γῆς αἴτησιν κήρυκας τῶνδε εἵνεκα: πρότερον Δαρείου πέμψαντος ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸ τοῦτο, οἳ μὲν αὐτῶν τοὺς αἰτέοντας ἐς τὸ βάραθρον οἳ δ᾽ ἐς φρέαρ ἐμβαλόντες ἐκέλευον γῆν τε καὶ ὕδωρ ἐκ τούτων φέρειν παρὰ βασιλέα.

[Xerxes did not send messengers to Athens and Sparta demanding earth for this reason: previously, when Darius sent men with the same demand, at one place the requester was thrown into the pit, and at the other into a well, and told to fetch earth and water for the king from those places.]

Yet another method was ἀποτυμπανισμός. In the intermediate LSJ the verb ἀποτυμπανίζω is defined as to cudgel to death. But in 1923 a book on the subject by Antonios Keramopoullos, based on excavations in Phaleron, argued that the practice involved chaining a person to a wooden board and standing it upright in the ground. The newer LSJ defines ἀποτυμπανισμός as a crucifixion, and the supplement updates this further: "for crucifixion read prob. destruction." The verb ἀποτυμπανίζω in the supplement is updated to read: to put to death, execute.

The excavations on which Keramopoullos based his book revealed 17 skeletons with iron cramps around the wrists and ankles, and an iron collar around the neck. Although scholars seem to agree that these men were executed by ἀποτυμπανισμός, there is disagreement about whether they were merely left to die slowly, or whether the collar around the neck was tightened until they died. Those who suggest the latter recall a scene from the Thesmophoriazusae of Aristophanes, where a guard is ordered to arrest a man and "bind him on the board": δῆσον αὐτὸν ... ἐν τῇ σανίδι (lines 930-931). Later the prisoner asks the guard to loosen the nail, χάλασον τὸν ἧλον, but the guard only drives it tighter. With lines 1052-1055 the prisoner laments:
οὐ γὰρ ἔτ᾽ ἀθανάταν φλόγα λεύσσειν
ἐστὶν ἐμοὶ φίλον, ὡς ἐκρεμάσθην,
λαιμότμητ᾽ ἄχη δαιμόνων αἰόλαν
νέκυσιν ἐπὶ πορείαν

[For the immortal light does not look dear to me still, since I was hung, strangled, suffering pain, on the quick path to the dead.]

In the dictionaries λαιμότμητος is defined as with severed throat, but it must be either an injured throat or cut from strangling, since he is still able to speak. If the cause of death here is the strangling, there is another instance of hanging someone tied to a board in the Odyssey where the aim is to extend the suffering for as long as possible (22.173-177):
σφῶϊ δ᾽ ἀποστρέψαντε πόδας καὶ χεῖρας ὕπερθεν
ἐς θάλαμον βαλέειν, σανίδας δ᾽ ἐκδῆσαι ὄπισθε,
σειρὴν δὲ πλεκτὴν ἐξ αὐτοῦ πειρήναντε
κίον᾽ ἀν᾽ ὑψηλὴν ἐρύσαι πελάσαι τε δοκοῖσιν,
ὥς κεν δηθὰ ζωὸς ἐὼν χαλέπ᾽ ἄλγεα πάσχῃ

[But you two twist back his feet and hands above and throw him into the storage room, and bind boards at the back, and having tied fast from his body a twisted cord, draw him up the tall pillar near the roof-beams, so that living for a long time he may suffer grievous pain.]

Recall the use of δέω and σανίς above in Aristophanes.

At least from the end of the 5th century, drinking κώνειον, a poison made from hemlock seeds, was the common method of execution. In addition to Socrates, famous people such as Theramenes and Phocion were killed in this manner. According to Fine, the first specific reference to hemlock for execution is during the rule of the Thirty Tyrants (404/3), but he thinks it was probably used before that time, since it seems to be well known enough to serve as a joke in the Frogs of Aristophanes (123-124), produced in 405BC. Discussing the quickest way to Hades, Heracles suggests:
ἀλλ᾽ ἔστιν ἀτραπὸς ξύντομος τετριμμένη
ἡ διὰ θυείας.

[But there is a short, well-worn, direct path, through the mortar.]

The word τετριμμένη is used of road that are well-worn and smooth, but it also used of things crushed or ground, such as the seeds of the hemlock plant in a mortar. Dionysus responds:
ἆρα κώνειον λέγεις;

[Do you mean hemlock?]

But although hemlock became the more common method, the ἀποτυμπανισμός continued to be used, according to Fine, possibly for those convicted of especially heinous crimes.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Aphrodite: Foam, Genitalia, and Immortal Flesh

William Annis posted notes for the shorter Hymn to Aphrodite on his Aoidoi website a few weeks ago. The hymn begins:
αἰδοίην χρυσοστέφανον καλὴν Ἀφροδίτην
ᾅσομαι, ἣ πάσης Κύπρου κρήδεμνα λέλογχεν
εἰναλίης, ὅθι μιν Ζεφύρου μένος ὑγρὸν ἀέντος
ἤνεικεν κατὰ κῦμα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης
ἀφρῷ ἔνι μαλακῷ·

[I will sing the revered, gold-crowned, beautiful Aphrodite, who protects the walls of all of seaside Cyprus, where the moist might of blowing Zephyrus carried her over the waves of the loud-sounding sea in the soft foam.]

He notes that ἀφρός is an etymological figure on Aphrodite's name, and that led me eventually to the story of her birth in Hesiod's Theogony. Angry that Heaven has been imprisoning many of their children and keeping them from the light, Earth creates a sickle and persuades her son Kronos to take revenge on his father. As Heaven comes down (bringing night) to Earth for intercourse, Kronos cuts off his genitalia. Hesiod continues (lines 188-200):
μήδεα δ᾽ ὡς τὸ πρῶτον ἀποτμήξας ἀδάμαντι
κάββαλ᾽ ἀπ᾽ ἠπείροιο πολυκλύστῳ ἐνὶ πόντῳ,
ὣς φέρετ᾽ ἂμ πέλαγος πουλὺν χρόνον, ἀμφὶ δὲ λευκὸς
ἀφρὸς ἀπ᾽ ἀθανάτου χροὸς ὤρνυτο· τῷ δ᾽ ἔνι κούρη
ἐθρέφθη· πρῶτον δὲ Κυθήροισι ζαθέοισιν
ἔπλητ᾽, ἔνθεν ἔπειτα περίρρυτον ἵκετο Κύπρον.
ἐκ δ᾽ ἔβη αἰδοίη καλὴ θεός, ἀμφὶ δὲ ποίη
ποσσὶν ὕπο ῥαδινοῖσιν ἀέξετο· τὴν δ᾽ Ἀφροδίτην
[ἀφρογενέα τε θεὰν καὶ ἐϋστέφανον Κυθέρειαν]
κικλήσκουσι θεοί τε καὶ ἀνέρες, οὕνεκ᾽ ἐν ἀφρῷ
θρέφθη· ἀτὰρ Κυθέρειαν, ὅτι προσέκυρσε Κυθήροις·
Κυπρογενέα δ᾽, ὅτι γέντο περικλύστῳ ἐνὶ Κύπρῳ·
ἠδὲ φιλομμειδέα, ὅτι μηδέων ἐξεφαάνθη.

[And so first having severed the genitals with the blade, he threw them down from the land into the surging sea, and so they floated on the open sea for a long time. And a white foam rose around them from the immortal flesh, and in it a girl was formed. First she approached sacred Cythera, from where she then came to water-bound Cyprus, and came out a revered and beautiful goddess, and grass grew around under her slender feet. Gods and men call her Aphrodite [and the foam-born goddess and well-crowned Cythera] because she was formed in foam; and Cythera, since she arrived at Cythera; and Cyprus-born, since she was born in well-washed Cyprus; and smile-loving, since she appeared out of genitals.]

West notes in his commentary to line 197 that this etymology from ἀφρός appears also in Diogenes Apolloniates (A24) and Plato's Cratylus (406c), and "that it leaves the second half of the name unexplained is typical of ancient etymologizing, especially in the early period." He points out too that Didymus (Et.magn.179.13) "attempted to do better" by deriving it from ἁβροδίαιτον, effeminacy.

The description in lines 191-192 of Aphrodite being formed in the foam is quite vivid in the Greek: τῷ δ᾽ ἔνι κούρη ἐθρέφθη, where the word ἐθρέφθη is often used of children, to be reared, to grow up. West says that τρέφω "can be used of anything growing or solidifying, of congealing cheese, ice (Odyssey 14.477), etc.; also of the fetus, as Aeschylus' Eumenides 665, Thebais 754, Hippocrates vii.482."

Her connection with Cyprus is also mentioned in the eighth book of the Odyssey, in the song of Demodocus about Ares and Aphrodite (lines 362-363):
ἡ δ᾽ ἄρα Κύπρον ἵκανε φιλομμειδὴς Ἀφροδίτη,
ἐς Πάφον, ἔνθα δέ οἱ τέμενος βωμός τε θυήεις.

[But smile-loving Aphrodite went to Cyprus, to Paphos, where there is land for her and a fragrant altar.]

These two lines also display the frequent epithet φιλομμειδὴς Ἀφροδίτη, which Bergk used to conjecture φιλομμειδέα for line 200 of the Theogony above, and which West reads, where the manuscripts have φιλομμηδέα, gential-loving, ὅτι μηδέων ἐξεφαάνθη. I suppose it's easy to see why scribes would be tempted to write φιλομμηδέα, to make sense of the immediate context; but if she isn't otherwise called φιλομμηδέα, then surely the original reading must have been φιλομμειδέα, with a pun on the nearly identical sounding words, and perhaps her association with sex and lust. I wondered about the distant possibility of a genitalia pun in November's Hera's Vengeful Plans.

And a random note: The description in lines 190-191 of the Theogony, ἀμφὶ δὲ λευκὸς ἀφρὸς ἀπ᾽ ἀθανάτου χροὸς ὤρνυτο, reminded me of the Hymn to Demeter, lines 278-279, τῆλε δὲ φέγγος ἀπὸ χροὸς ἀθανάτοιο λάμπε θεᾶς, and a light shone far from the immortal flesh of the goddess.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Callimachus on Quality vs. Quantity

At the very end of his Hymn to Apollo, Callimachus (perhaps slightly self-conscious about the length of his poems compared to those of Homer?) offers a nice metaphor about the quality and quantity of poetry. Talking with Apollo, Φθόνος, or Envy, says:
οὐκ ἄγαμαι τὸν ἀοιδὸν ὃς οὐδ᾽ ὅσα πόντος ἀείδει

[I do not admire the singer who does not sing as great as the sea.]

There is perhaps a bit of wordplay here, as ἄγαμαι can also mean to envy. Apollo gives him a swift kick, and replies (108-112):
Ἀσσυρίου ποταμοῖο μέγας ῥόος, ἀλλὰ τὰ πολλά
λύματα γῆς καὶ πολλὸν ἐφ᾽ ὕδατι συρφετὸν ἕλκει.
Δηοῖ δ᾽ οὐκ ἀπὸ παντὸς ὕδωρ φορέουσι μέλισσαι,
ἀλλ᾽ ἥτις καθαρή τε καὶ ἀχράαντος ἀνέρπει
πίδακος ἐξ ἱερῆς ὀλίγη λιβὰς ἄκρον ἄωτον.

[The flow of the Assyrian river is great, but it drags much filth of the earth and much waste in addition to water. Bees, however, do not carry water to Demeter from just anywhere, but that which seeps up clean and undefiled from a sacred spring, a small trickle, best and choicest.]

The word μέλισσαι, bees, had two associations which are relevant here: It could be used of poets, such as μέλιττα Μούσης at line 974 of the Ecclesiazusae by Aristophanes (where μέλιττα is the Attic form of μέλισσα); and it was also used of the priestesses of Delphi, or Cybele, or Artemis, as well as those of Demeter (see Pindar P.4.60, and for Demeter, the scholiast to that line, LSJ).

This passage from Callimachus brought to my mind the bee in the Hittite myth of Telipinu. And I was interested to see that he uses the name Δηώ, which is a nickname for Demeter used in the Hymn to Demeter and the dramatists, but not in Homer or Hesiod.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Further Note on Beastiality and the Hittites

In August 2006 I wrote about Hittite Laws on Sexuality, including some curious attitudes toward beastiality, which was a summary of Trevor Bryce's discussion from 2002. On page 24 of his book, Indo-European Language and Culture, Benjamin Fortson discusses a relationship between the consecration of kingship and horse rituals in the Indic, Roman, Irish, and (indirectly) Anatolian traditions.

We know most about the Indic ritual, according to Fortson, called asvamedha, where a stallion was sacrificed, specifially "one that excelled on the right-hand side of the yoke", the ritual copulation by the queen with the dead horse, and distribution of the dissected remains. There is some evidence for a Roman ritual called October Equus, which was a sacrifice to Mars of the horse from the right-hand side of a winning chariot team. Its head was severed and fought over by two groups of people, and its tail was pinned to the wall of the royal palace. There is also an Irish ritual, described by Giraldus Cambrensis in the 12th century book Topography of Ireland, that involves copulation between a king and a mare, which is then killed and cut up and boiled, and served to the people to be eaten. Fortson conjectures that this points to an older Proto-Indo-European ritual, although he thinks the choice of a horse from the right-hand side of the yoke is probably a later innovation, since paired draft-horses don't appear in the archaeological record until the middle of the 3rd millennium.

In my earlier post, I mentioned that, although the Hittites punished beastiality with capital punishment, which was otherwise rare, even in most cases of murder, they had specific exemptions in their law code for sexual interaction with horses and mules. On the kingship ritual in Anatolia, Fortson says: "we have some traces of ritual royal copulation, but without horses; interestingly, though, in Hittite law, copulation with animals was a punishable offense except copulation with horses or mules."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ancient Mullets?

The Achaeans seem generally to have worn their hair long, based on the formulaic epithet κάρη κομόωντες, letting the hair grow long on the head. In his commentary at Iliad 3.43, Kirk mentions a note by Stephanie West on Odyssey 1.90 which says that long hair remained fashionable with wealthy Athenians into the fifth century. The intermediate LSJ on κομάω says:
In early times the Greeks wore their hair long, whence κάρη κομόωντες Ἀχαιοί in Homer. At Sparta the fashion continued. At Athens it was so worn by youths up to the 18th year, when they offered their long locks to some deity; and to wear long hair was considered as a sign of aristocratic habits: hence κομᾶν meant to plume oneself, give oneself airs, be proud or haughty (like Latin cristam tollere) Aristophanes; οὗτος ἐκόμησε ἐπὶ τυραννίδι, he aimed at the monarchy, Herodotus; ἐπὶ τῷ κομᾷς; on what do you plume yourself? Aristophanes.

He also mentions that West claims the gods have long hair, but he points out that strictly it is only Zeus, "whose locks fall forward in his great oath at 1.529", and Apollo, who is called ἀκερσοκόμης, with uncut hair, at 20.39.

In the catalogue of ships we learn of the Ἄβαντες in lines 536-545:
οἳ δ᾽ Εὔβοιαν ἔχον μένεα πνείοντες Ἄβαντες,
Χαλκίδα τ᾽ Εἰρέτριάν τε πολυστάφυλόν θ᾽ Ἱστίαιαν
Κήρινθόν τ᾽ ἔφαλον Δίου τ᾽ αἰπὺ πτολίεθρον,
οἵ τε Κάρυστον ἔχον ἠδ᾽ οἳ Στύρα ναιετάασκον,
τῶν αὖθ᾽ ἡγεμόνευ᾽ Ἐλεφήνωρ, ὄζος Ἄρηος,
Χαλκωδοντιάδης, μεγαθύμων ἀρχὸς Ἀβάντων.
τῷ δ᾽ ἅμ᾽ Ἄβαντες ἕποντο θοοί, ὄπιθεν κομόωντες,
αἰχμηταὶ μεμαῶτες ὀρεκτῇσιν μελίῃσι
θώρηκας ῥήξειν δηΐων ἀμφὶ στήθεσσι.
τῷ δ᾽ ἅμα τεσσαράκοντα μέλαιναι νῆες ἕποντο.

[And the power-breathing Abantes held Euboea, and Kalchis, and Eiretria, and vine-rich Histiaia, and Kerinthos on the seashore, and the steep city of Dion, and they held Karustos, and inhabited Stura: Elephenor, companion of Ares, was the leader of these, the son of Khalkodon, leader of the great-hearted Abantes. And with him followed the nimble Abantes, letting their hair grow long in the back, eager spearmen with outstretched spears of ash ready to split the breastplates about the chest of the enemy. And with him followed forty dark ships.]

The phrase ὄπιθεν κομόωντες, according to Kirk, "must mean with hair long at the back, short on top", "in order to stop the enemy grabbing it, according to Arkhemakhos, a local historian cited by Strabo 10.465". That is practical enough (if he is right) but it sure sounds like a mullet to me, although I certainly wouldn't say that face-to-face with the μένεα πνείοντες Ἄβαντες themselves, I mean, I don't even own a breastplate.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Iliad 1.5

Recently, while reading M.L. West's book Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique, 1973, I came across this passage on p.11 about the usefulness of imitations:
Imitations and parodies are occasionally of use, especially in the case of verse texts. For example, in Iliad 1.4-5, where the main tradition gives αὐτοὺς δὲ ἑλώρια τεῦχε κύνεσσιν οἰωνοῖσί τε πᾶσι, Athenaeus records that the pioneer of Alexandrian scholarship, Zenodotus, read the more forceful δαῖτα instead of πᾶσι: it has been observed that this is supported by the echo in Aeschylus, Suppl. 800f. κυσὶν δ᾽ ἔπειθ᾽ ἕλωρα κἀπιχωρίοις | ὄρνισι δεῖπνον. (But the imitation could not have been used to infer a reading δαῖτα if its existence had not been recorded.)
This left me with the impression that West would read δαῖτα in his edition, but when I saw his edition shortly after that, I was surprised to see that he actually read πᾶσι. A friend was kind enough to send me West's note on this passage from his Text and Transmission, 2001:
His [Zenotodus] δαῖτα in 5 was apparently a variant familiar to Aeschylus and the model for his κυσὶν δ᾽ ἔπειθ᾽ ἕλωρα κἀπιχωρίοις | ὄρνισι δεῖπνον at Supp. 800f.* But that does not make it the original reading; πᾶσι is good idiom, cf. Ar. Av. 1117, and Soph. Aj. 830 has ῥιφθῶ κυσὶν πρόβλητος οἰωνοῖς θ᾽ ἕλωρ. Against δαῖτα Athenaeus cites (from Aristarchus) the argument that Homer uses the term only of human banquets, but this is not decisive, cf. Ω 43 (Leaf), and δεῖπνον in Β 383. Zenodotus' reading δηιοι for τ᾽ ἄλλοι at Ι 594 is of similar character--more colourful, but secondary.

[*Other similar passages such as Eur. Hec. 1077, Ion 505, and Tim. Pers. 138 (cited by R. Renehan, AJP 100 [1979], 473f.) may derive from Aeschylus and are not necessarily independent witnesses.]
I still wonder what reading he would have used in 1973, but it is a good reminder that the "more forceful" or "more colorful" reading is not necessarily the original one.

Monday, January 01, 2007

P.'s Prescience

Forethought is an essential part of the Prometheus stories. In fact, the Greeks understood the name Προμηθεύς (Doric Προμᾱθευς, also in Attica Πρόμηθος) to come from προμηθής, προ + μητ/μανθ-, plan, know, and he had a brother Ἐπιμηθεύς, or Afterthought. In modern times some people have preferred other origins for his name: such as Sanskrit pramantha, firestick; or Pramatih, an epithet of Agni, perhaps meaning forethinker; or even Πραμανθεύς, an epithet of Zeus. Mark Griffith thinks that the original explanation of the Greeks is probably correct, and refers the reader to an article by V. Schmidt, Z.P.E. 19 (1975) 183-90, which I haven't yet seen.

In the drama, P. is given the role that Γῆ had in Hesiod's version, as the character who provided Zeus the advice which allowed him to lead the Olympians in overthrowing the Titans. One of the main threads in Prometheus Bound is the hinting and gradual revelation that P. has knowledge about the future of the reign of Zeus, and his refusal to share the information with the new ruler unless he is released from his bonds.

In lines 755 and 756, while speaking with Io, P. surprises her with these words:
νῦν δ᾽ οὐδέν ἐστι τέρμα μοι προκείμενον
μόχθων, πρὶν ἂν Ζεὺς ἐκπέσῃ τυραννίδος

[But now there is no determined end to my troubles, until Zeus is thrown from power.]

This might also have surprised the audience, and the word ἐκπίπτω becomes important in the rest of the play: see lines 757, 912, 948, 957, 996. Griffith writes: "With its implied passive sense (be thrown out, stronger than simply fall) it can be followed by ὑπό or πρός + genitive (as at 948), and thus reintroduces the idea of an external threat to Zeus' rule." We only have to wait until line 761 for Io to ask who will oust him. But her immediate response, at line 757, is this:
ἦ γάρ ποτ᾽ ἔστιν ἐκπεσεῖν ἀρχῆς Δία;

[What, can it be that Zeus is one day to be thrown from power?]

Since Zeus is the cause of Io's present woes, this is obviously a glimmer of hope for her, and P. assures her that it is in fact true (760):
ὡς τοίνυν ὄντων τῶνδε γαθεῖν σοι πάρα

[Well then, these things being true, it is possible for you to rejoice.]

Later, at lines 907-910, we learn more details about what lies in store for Zeus, when P. says (note the use of future indicatives now):
ἦ μὴν ἔτι Ζεύς, καίπερ αὐθάδης φρενῶν,
ἔσται ταπεινός, οἷον ἐξαρτύεται
γάμον γαμεῖν, ὃς αὐτὸν ἐκ τυραννίδος
θρόνων τ᾽ ἄϊστον ἐκβαλεῖ

[Indeed, hereafter Zeus, although stubborn of heart, will become humble, such a marriage he is preparing which will throw him from his throne and power into oblivion.]

And he predicts further (926-927):
πταίσας δὲ τῷδε πρὸς κακῷ μαθήσεται
ὅσον τό τ᾽ ἄρχειν καὶ τὸ δουλεύειν δίχα

[And having fallen upon this misfortune, he will learn how different it is to rule and to be a slave.]

The Chrous doubts these bold predictions (928):
σύ θην ἃ χρῄζεις, ταῦτ᾽ ἐπιγλωσσᾷ Διός

[Surely this is only what you desire, these curses you hurl at Zeus.]

But P. makes it clear that it is not merely wishful thinking:
ἅπερ τελεῖται, πρὸς δ᾽ ἃ βούλομαι λέγω

[I say even what will come to pass, as well as what I wish.]

But P.'s confident predictions are hard to reconcile with his fears and anguish, and readers have long been unsure about how certain P. can be about the future of Zeus. These events are taking place shortly after Zeus comes to power, but Io and the Chorus are surprised to hear about his eventual downfall. We don't have access to the following play, and so we cannot be sure how the dramatist ended matters between Zeus and P., whether Heracles merely kills the eagle (which we know from a fragment) or actually releases P. from his bonds, or whether Zeus releases P. in exchange for the information about the threat to his sovereignty.

But something that is not discussed in detail in any of the literature that I've read so far is the question of how the fifth-century audience would react to these predictions. Since these events took place in the very distant past, and Zeus was still the most powerful of the Greek gods in classical times, surely they would have known immediately that P. prophecies were not fulfilled. In his introduction to the play, Griffith writes: "The audience are thus kept uncertain as to how the plot will unfold, though they naturally tend to assume that predictions made in a tragedy will turn out to be true, especially if they are made by the son of Themis." And in his commentary to lines 907-940, he says: "Nobody can be quite sure (Chorus, Zeus, audience, perhaps not even P. himself) how much of what he predicts is certain and inevitable (Zeus will fall), how much contingent upon future decisions (Zeus will fall unless...)." The audience must have known that Zeus does not in fact fall from power, and that leaves us wondering if P. was mistaken or maybe even deliberately lying. Perhaps in his desperation he decides to pretend that Zeus will be overthrown unless he is released, and we know that Zeus must overhear P.'s words, since he sends a messenger to P. to investigate further. This would suit P.'s reputation for cleverness. Of course, it might simply be that P. is right about what will happen to Zeus, but that Zeus releases him from his bonds in exchange for the information, and so avoids being overthrown.