Citation with persistent identifier:
Caciagli, Stefano. “Lesbos Between Athens and Sparta.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 1 (2012). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:CaciagliS.Lesbos_Between_Athens_and_Sparta.2012
Archaic Greek Poetry and Quellenforschung
§1 A correct understanding of the social and historical background of an archaic Greek poet is necessary for the analysis of his poetry. In fact, the Greek poetry was essentially pragmatic, since it referred to a well-defined social context and to a well-defined audience: a Greek poet was not a poet in a modern sense, because archaic Greek poetry was oral and embedded in social practices. In the symposium, the role of e.g. Archilochus or Alcaeus was simply to be one of the poetic voices of their communities: they probably considered themselves members (or leaders) of a group or of an aristocratic family rather than poets. The problem is two-fold: first, sources are often inadequate; second, rich documentation might be affected by manipulations, by biographic reading of the poems and by the use of elements derived uncritically from the verses. Ancient and modern scholars or ancient sources are exposed to the risk of misinterpretation: the poet can disguise himself under different identities, such as Archilochus in fr. 19 W.2, Alcaeus in fr. 10 V. or Anacreon in PMG 347. The poet can also present a fact in a factious way, as certainly Alcaeus does with Pittacus in fr. 129 V. Finally, the poet can play the role of e.g. a wise man such as perhaps Solon in most of his fragments or of a poor one in the case of Hipponax. In this scenario, the evidence from ancient sources can be challenged: in Sappho Schoolmistress, for example, Parker (1993, 310) fosters “an atmosphere of skepticism” about sources, probably approaching Sappho from the perspective of gender studies and from a New Critical one. Although some caution is necessary, Quellenforschung seems to me more productive: it is no accident that Welcker, the father of this approach, applied it precisely to Sappho to distinguish the ‘true Sappho’ from the one fabricated by the ancient sources.
Quellenforschung and comparative approach
§2 To conduct productive Quellenforschung it is advisable to compare practices and societies not only to fill the gaps of the documentation, but also to establish what is plausible from a social point of view. The comparison among Lesbos, Athens and Sparta has a solid basis: the audience of Alcaeus has been compared with societies organized around ἑταιρεῖαι, such as Athens, whereas the audience of Sappho has been associated with the chorus of the First Parthenion of Alcman. Lesbos presents us with a good opportunity. In fact, in Lesbos were active two contemporaneous and aristocratic poets, who offer two different points of view because of their diverse gender. The problem is the lack of evidence: the corpora of Sappho and Alcaeus are fragmentary and the sources about the history of Lesbos are incomplete.
§3 However, it is likely that the manipulation did not affect the historical record about Lesbos as much as that about Athens and Sparta. The representations of Solon and the history of 6th century were crucial in 5th and 4th century Athenian political debate: the evidence is extensive, but difficult to understand. For instance, how can we interpret the struggle between rich and poor outlined in the Athenaion Politeia by Aristotle? Is it a 4th century view, which reinterpreted the aristocratic στάσεις in a modern way? And what about the use of term ἑταιρεία by Herodotus (V 71,1) for the political ‘club’ of Cylon (around 630)? Did the Herodotean ἑταιρεία reflect a late 5th century usage? The corpus of Solon presents a difficult challenge: unlike Sappho and Alcaeus, Solon’s poems have been handed down to us not by direct sources, but by quotations from Aristotle, Demosthenes or Plutarch. This is a substantial difference from Lesbian poetry: the papyri offer a text that was not selected by ancient scholars or orators for specific aims, but often attest Alexandrine or Hellenistic editions or version, where the poems were complete or more fully represented. A few examples: without the papyrological tradition our understanding of Sappho and Alcaeus would be difficult, because we would not have P. Oxy. 1231, 1234 and 2165, which are crucial to reconstruct the practices of the audiences of Lesbian poets.
§4 As for Sparta, its institutional apparatus was a mirage of political reflection of 4th century. For instance, a text such as Xenophon’s Constitution of the Lacedaemonians is a challenge to modern scholars, because it is difficult to reconstruct what pertains to the customs of the 4th century, what goes back to the archaic period and what was purely invented by Xenophon or by his sources. Furthermore, the idea of the κόσμος of Sparta has been questioned over the last 50 years: this constitutional order could be the 6th century outcome of a long process, not the preservation of a primitive order.
The example of Alcaeus
§5 After these preliminary considerations, let me outline the social context of the poetry of Sappho and Alcaeus as I have reconstructed in Poeti e società (2011). The poetry of Alcaeus is rich in hints at social structures, particularly at the aristocratic οἰκίαι, at the groups of ἑταῖροι, at the δῆμος with its ambiguous meaning and at the πόλις with its ‘institutions’ (βουλή and ἀγορά). Fr. 112,21-24 V. of Alcaeus is revealing.
××‒ᴗᴗ τό]σσουτον ἐπεύχομαι ××‒ᴗᴗ]η̣σθ’ ἀελίω φ[ά]ος 23 ××‒ᴗᴗ] ̣γε Κλεανακτ̣ίδαν τ(ὸν) Μύρσιλ(ον) ××‒ᴗᴗ‒]ἢρχεανακτ̣ίδαν· τ(ὸν) Φίττακ(ον) Alc. fr. 112, 21-24 V.
§6 The poem is very fragmentary, but one can put forward the hypothesis that Alcaeus is in a bad situation, perhaps after the betrayal of Pittacus; ll. 21-24 sound like a curse against Alcaeus’ enemies: a scholiast explained Κλεανακτίδαν with τὸν Μύρσιλον (l. 23) whereas the scholium at l. 24 (τὸν Φίττακον) could refer to Ἀρχεανακτίδαν or to a previous patronymic, because of the disjunctive ἤ. The lack of context results in an ambiguity: are Κλεανακτίδαν and Ἀρχεανακτίδαν plural genitives or singular accusatives? There seems to be an identity between a familiar group and a political leader. Are Pittacus and Myrsilus the leaders of the relative families?
§7 Familiar groups deserve further comment: in classical scholarship, the distinction is not always clear between γένος and οἰκία: according the reconstructions of Bourriot (1976) and Roussel (1976), the γένη were sacerdotal groups, such as the Eumolpidae, provided with sacral privileges, that claimed a fictive common ancestor; the οἰκίαι, on the contrary, were real aristocratic broad families, provided with political power, but without sacral prerogatives: a good example is the οἰκία of the Alcmeonidae. In fr. 112 V. the groups under discussion are probably the οἰκίαι, because of their involvement in the political field.
§8 Alc. SLG 263,8-14 likely testifies that Myrsilus’ father was Cleanor, a name etymologically linked to the Cleanactidae.
π]έτην οὐ τλᾶτον ] τὸ ἑξῆς ἐστιν· ἀλ- 10 λὰ ε]ὖ̣ πέτ̣ην οὐ τλητὸν ] υἱὸς τοῦ Κλεάνορος ὅτι ] ἑξῆς τὸν Μύρσιλον λ̣έγεσ̣-< θαι ] ἐνεχθήσεται ὃ ἔνιοι ] ̣ες· φεύγ̣[οι]σιν· οὕτω Alc. SLG 263,8-14
§9 A passage of Strabo (XIII 2,3) can be useful to identify what the Cleanactidae were: Ἀλκαῖος μὲν οὖν ὁμοίως ἐλοιδορεῖτο καὶ τούτῳ (i.e. Pittacus) καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις, Μυρσίλῳ καὶ Μελάγχρῳ καὶ τοῖς Κλεανακτίδαις καὶ ἄλλοις τισίν. According to schol. Alc. fr. 112,23 V., Myrsilus was a Cleanactides: if this identification is trustworthy, the expression καὶ τοῖς Κλεανακτίδαις can be interpreted as an appositive. Then, it is likely that Melanchrus was a Cleanactides too, because his name appears between those of Myrsilus and Cleanactidae. Therefore, it is possible that the struggle among Alcaeus, Myrsilus and Pittacus in Lesbos involved not individuals, but rather whole families. In fact, in Alc. fr. 129 V., where the poet recalls the συνωμοσία of Pittacus and Alcaeus’ ἑταῖροι, the aim of the conspiracy is οἲ τότ’ ἐπικρήτην («those who had power at that time»), not Melanchrus or Myrsilus, as we might expect.
§10 As far as Pittacus in Alc. fr. 112 V. is concerned, his connection with the Archeanactidae is unlikely, because the sources attest that Pittacus’ father, Hyrras, was a Thracian, probably one integrated into the Lesbian aristocracy through relationships of ξενία: Hyrras was βασιλεύς of Mytilene. In Alc. fr. 70 V. more elements about Pittacus are provided.
ἀθύ̣ρει πεδέχων συμποσίῳ ̣[ᴗ‒ βάρμος, φιλώνων πεδ’ ἀλεμ[άτων ᴗ‒̆ 5 _ εὐωχήμενος αὔτοισιν ἐπα[ᴗ‒ κῆνος δὲ παώθεις Ἀτρεΐδα[ ̣] ̣[ δαπτέτω πόλιν ὠς καὶ πεδὰ Μυρσί̣[λ]ω̣ Alc. fr. 70,3-7 V.
§11 The poem describes a symposium in which Pittacus participated: it hints at the alliance with Myrsilus and the Penthilidae. Pittacus is surrounded by φίλωνες, a substantive perhaps derived from φίλος. Is it a community or is it a temporary meeting of friends? If it is a community, of what kind? The word φίλος has a complex meaning: it implies a reciprocal relationship that entails obligations. A close synonym of φίλος, in a political context, is ἑταῖρος, which alludes to a bond often originating in a long frequentation, blood ties or familiar alliances.
§12 Alcaeus’ poems suggest the existence of a community of ἑταῖροι and φίλοι around him: in Alc. fr. 129,16 ff. the conspirators, members of Alcaeus’ or Pittacus’ groups, are called ἑταῖροι, whereas in fr. 130a,1 Alcaeus laments the absence of φίλοι after the exile to Messon caused by Pittacus’ betrayal. These groups of ἑταῖροι were relatively stable: the several mentions of Bycchis or Melanippus probably attest their proximity to Alcaeus for a long period of time. The ἑταῖροι were not only active in the sympotic gatherings: judging from political discussion about the ἔργα they should undertake, as in Alc. fr. 140 V., it is likely that the ἑταῖροι groups were active in the political field too. To sum up, in Lesbos we find an identity between political figures and οἰκίαι, that perhaps entails that the familiar groups were the support for their leader. These personalities were also surrounded by their ἑταῖροι and φίλοι, linked to the leader by blood or alliance ties.
The example of Sappho
§13 In Sappho’s poems are attested elements that recall those found in Alcaeus. According to Maximus of Tyre (18,9d-f), Sappho had two adversaries, Andromeda and Gorgo.
ὅ τι γὰρ ἐκείνῳ Ἀλκιβιάδης καὶ Χαρμίδης καὶ Φαῖδρος, τοῦτο τῇ Λεσβίᾳ Γύριννα καὶ Ἀτϑὶς Ἀνακτορία· καὶ ὅ τί περ Σωκράτει οἱ ἀντίτεχνοι, Πρόδικος καὶ Γοργίας καὶ Θρασύμαχος καὶ Πρωταγόρας, τοῦτο τῇ Σαπφοῖ Γοργὼ καὶ Ἀνδρομέδα· νῦν μὲν ἐπιτιμᾷ ταύταις, νῦν δὲ ἐλέγχει, καὶ εἰρωνεύεται αὐτὰ ἐκεῖνα τὰ Σωκράτους· «τὸν Ἴωνα χαίρειν», φησὶν ὁ Σωκράτης (Plat. Ion 530a)· «πόλλα μοι τὰν Πωλυανάκτιδα παῖδα χαίρην» (Sapph. fr. 155 V.), Σαπφὼ λέγει· (e) οὐ προσιέναι φησὶν ὁ Σωκράτης Ἀλκιβιάδῃ, ἐκ πολλοῦ ἐρῶν, πρὶν ἡγήσατο ἱκανὸν εἶναι πρὸς λόγους (Aeschin. Socr.?)· «σμίκρα μοι πάις ἔμμεν’ ἐφαίνεο κἄχαρις» (Sapph. fr. 49,2 V.). Σαπφὼ λέγει· (f) κωμῳδεῖ σχῆμά που καὶ κατάκλισιν σοφιστοῦ (Plat. Prot. 315c-316a?), καὶ αὕτη· «τίς δ’(ε) … ἀγροΐωτιν ἐπεμμένα σπόλαν» (Sapph. 57.2 V.).
Max. Tyr. 18,9d-f
§14 Maximus parallels Sappho and Socrates by quoting three φίλοι of his and three φίλαι of hers, then four ἀντίτεχνοι of his, but only two of hers. Why? The sources, certainly fragmentary, testify for Sappho only two names of adversaries and curses against only two οἰκίαι, the Polyanactidae and the Penthilidae. Is this by accident? In my opinion, it is possible that Maximus cites only Andromeda and Gorgo, because they were the only adversaries of Sappho known in antiquity. Who is Polyanactis’ daughter? The greeting to her could be ironic, since the greeting to Ion is ironic too (cf. εἰρωνεύεται). Therefore, it is conceivable that Polyanactis’ daughter was an ἀντίτεχνος of the poet: the controversial Sapph. fr. 99 L.-P. is directed against the Polyanactidae too. According to Athenaeus (I 21bc), the rustic woman scorned in Sapph. fr. 57 V. is Andromeda. It is unlikely that Maximus quotes two poems about Andromeda, but none about Gorgo, because, in the case of Socrates’ ἀντίτεχνοι, he never quotes passages about the same figure: then, there is a definite possibility that Polyanactis’ daughter was Gorgo. To sum up, as in the case of Myrsilus, an identity between leader and family can be postulated.
§15 Sappho (fr. 98b V.) also speaks about Cleanactidae and Penthilidae.
— σοὶ δ’ ἔγω Κλέι ποικίλαν — οὐκ ἔχω – πόθεν ἔσσεται; – 3 — _μιτράν<αν>· ἀλλὰ τῲ Μυτιληνάῳ ] ̣[ παι ̣α ̣ειον ἔχην πο ̣[ 6 _αἰκε̣ ̣η̣ ποικιλασκ ̣ ̣ ̣₍ ̣₎ [ ταῦτα τὰς Κλεανακτίδα̣[ν φύγας̣ †ἄ̣λις ἀ πόλις ἔχει† 9 _μνάματ’· ο̣ἴδε γὰρ αἶνα διέρρυε̣[ν Sapph. fr. 98b V.
§16 Sappho talks about the Cleanactidae with regret: the fact that Sappho cannot buy a mitre for Cleis is caused by their exile. It is tempting to connect Sappho with the οἰκία of the Cleanactidae, also because the name of her mother and her daughter, Κλέϊς, is etymologically linked to this family. Who is the Mytilenian (l. 3)? It is likely to be Pittacus: before him, the rulers of Mytilene may have been the Cleanactidae led by Melanchrus and, then, by Myrsilus. After the death of the latter (cf. Alc. fr. 332 V.), the son of Hyrras could have tried to rule the city on his own by contrasting the fellows of his former ally, Myrsilus, and his historical enemies, e.g. Alcaeus. In this context, we can easily understand the exile of Cleanactides Sappho around the beginning of the 6th century that is attested by the Marmor Parium (ep. 36 = Sapph. fr. 251 V.). Such political conduct by Pittacus may explain why Strabo (XIII 2,3) says Pittacus fought against the δυναστεῖαι.
§17 The way in which Sappho describes the betrayal perpetrated by Mika in fr. 71,1-4 V. is important for the reconstruction of Sappho’s audience.
×‒ᴗᴗ‒‒ᴗᴗ‒‒ᴗᴗ]μις σε Μίκα ×‒ᴗᴗ‒‒]ελα[ ̣ ̣ἀλ]λὰ σ’ ἔγωὐκ ἐάσω ×‒ᴗᴗ‒‒]ν̣ φιλότ[ατ’] ἤλεο Πενθιλήαν̣ 4 ×‒ᴗᴗ‒‒ᴗᴗ‒‒]δα κα̣[κό]τροπ’, ἄμμα[ ̣₍ ̣₎] Sapph. fr. 71,1-4 V.
§18 To understand Sappho’s betrayal by Mika, the word φιλότης is crucial because of its relationship with the concept of the ἑταιρεία. The betrayal is not an exception in Sappho’s corpus: Gongyla (cf. Sapph. fr. 213 V.) and Atthis (cf. Sapph. fr. 130 V.) also betrayed Sappho, respectively with Gorgo and Andromeda: Mika has preferred to Sappho a likely female community, identified by a sort of patronymic (Πενθιλήαν). In my opinion, these betrayals consisted not in a change of lover from Sappho to Gorgo or Andromeda, but in a transfer to another community. The mention of the Penthilidae is important, because Sappho apparently connects the female rival community with an aristocratic family. In this context, it is possible that Mika – and the others – did not freely chose new lovers: in fact, it is difficult to imagine that a member of a family could freely chose a new lover and a new group, if we consider the difficult relationship between the different οἰκίαι. Who are the Penthilidae? If Gorgo was a Polyanactides and the adversaries of Sappho were only two, it is tempting to consider Andromeda the leader of the Penthilidae women. If a community can be identified by patronymics, it probably follows that this community was formed through the recruitment of the members of the οἰκία. Similarly to the scenario of Myrsilus and the Cleanactidae, there was a sort of identification between a leader and his fellows, identification that allows Sappho and others to use interchangeably the name of the leader or a patronymic to identify a group of φίλοι. What about Sappho? If she was a Cleanactides (cf. fr. 98b V.), the hypothesis that she was the leader of the Cleanactidae women seems to me attractive.
§19 It must be stressed that the evidence found in Sappho’s corpus is congruent with the social context of Alcaeus. In Sapph. fr. 71 V., the community of the Penthilidae is a potentially useful parallel for understanding the structure of Sappho’s audiences: a group of φίλαι and ἑταῖραι, linked each other by blood or alliance ties, has the same organization that Alcaeus’ or Pittacus’ audiences had. Depending on context and gender, these ‘clubs’ took part in several domains, such as religion or ‘public’ activities, and they were important to the socialization of the members of an οἰκία, as in the symposium or gatherings at which Sapph. fr. 94,11-23 hints. Therefore, Rösler’s definition of Alcaeus’ community as a ἑταιρεία is not only convincing, but possibly it also applies to Sappho’s group.
§20 One may object to this hypothesis on the grounds that Alcaeus’ group was composed of adults, whereas Sappho’s was of young women. However, Parker (1993) and Stehle (1997) question the traditional reconstruction of the audiences of Lesbian poets as constituted by adults in the case of Alcaeus and by young women in the case of Sappho. Both scholars suggest that Sappho as well as Alcaeus had an adult public: more precisely, Parker distinguishes between communitarian poems, the audience of which consisted of Sappho’s adult ἑταῖραι, and epithalamic ones, where the young women play the most important role. In my opinion, this distinction is too strict: it is difficult to eliminate entirely the presence of young women in communitarian poems, especially because it is often difficult to guess the age of the protagonist of a poem. The sources clearly attest the presence of young women, therefore it is methodologically incorrect to reject all of these testimonia because they are suspect. Furthermore, I have suggested that Sapph. fr. 27 V. can be interpreted as a link between the nuptial poems of Sappho and the communitarian ones, since this poem could represent the female community before the wedding of one of its members.
̣ ̣ ̣] ̣καὶ γὰρ δ̣ὴ σὺ πάις ποτ[’ ἦσθα κἀφ]ί̣λ̣η̣ς μέλ̣πεσθ’, ἄγι ταῦτα[‒× ̣ ̣]ζ̣άλεξαι, κἄμμ’ ἀπὺ τῶδε κ[‒× 7 _ἄ]δ̣ρα χάρισσαι· σ]τ̣είχομεν γὰρ ἐς γάμον· εὖ δέ̣ [γ’ οἶσθα κα]ὶ σὺ τοῦτ’, ἀλλ’ ὄττι τάχιστα [‒× πα]ρ̣[θ]ένοις ἄπ[π]εμπε, θέοι [ἄτιμον 11 _μηδ]ὲ̣ν ἔχοιεν. Sapph. fr. 27,4-11 V.
§21 In my opinion, there is another major problem: the distinction between a masculine adult ἑταιρεία and a young female community is not sound; in fact, it is impossible to imagine a masculine ἑταιρεία without young men. Pederasty was typical of the central gathering of members of ἑταιρεῖαι, the symposium: both the Theognidea and Alcaeus’ pederastic poems clearly allude to the presence of young people in the symposium and, also, to the role of the ἑταιρεία in the education of future ἑταῖροι. I argue that both the masculine and feminine ἑταιρεία consisted of both adults and young people. An Ovidian passage (Epist. 15.199 f.) may be useful to interpret how Sappho’s audience was composed: Lesbides aequoreae, nupturaque nuptaque proles, / Lesbides, Aeolia nomina dicta lyra. Nuptura (i.e. παρθένοι) and nupta (i.e. γυνή) can be assimilated to Sappho’s interlocutors (nomina dicta), i.e. to her audience: this scenario suggests a mixed public, i.e. one composed of young and adult women. Furthermore, to my mind, an important piece of evidence is that other adult women than Sappho had to be in her community. In fact, Sapph. frr. 22, 94 and 96 V. describe erotic relationships, which Sappho regards with favor, between two φίλαι of her: in the light of the asymmetry characteristic of Greek pederasty, it follows that one of the two ‘friends’ must be adult.
Athens and Solon
§22 The ἑταιρεῖαι were likely active in archaic Athens: about this πόλις the documentation is particularly rich. The first attestation of the term occurs in Herodotus (V 71,1), who describes the conspiracy of Cylon and the reaction of the Alcmeonidae in the second half of 7th century: the group of Cylon is also described by the sources as οἱ μετὰ τοῦ Κύλωνος (Thuc. I 126,9), οἱ συνωμόται τοῦ Κύλωνος (Plut. Sol. 12,1) or οἱ φίλοι τοῦ Κύλωνος (schol. Arist. Eq. 445). The word ἑταιρεία was commonly used in the late 5th century to refer to oligarchic clubs that conspired against the Athenian democracy.
§23 Herodotean usage of ἑταιρεία is perhaps anachronistic, but it is in all likelihood correct in the sense that Cylon’s group (and similar ones) consisted of ἑταῖροι and φίλοι. The concept of ἑταιρεία, in reference to a 6th century context, is recognizable in Hdt. V 66,2 and Arist. Ath. 20,1, when they describe the struggle between Isagoras and Cleisthenes and the subsequent ‘alliance’ between Cleisthenes and the δῆμος. Moreover, Sartori (1957, 54 f.) has proposed that ἑταιρεῖαι are to be linked to the Alcmeonidae’s opposition against Peisistratus’ tyranny and to the fellows of Hippias (cf. respectively Arist. Ath. 19,3 and Ar. Lys. 1153); in other words, those ‘parties’ would be organized into ἑταιρεῖαι. The period between the conspiracy of Cylon and the fall of the tyranny poses more problems. Ghinatti (1970) argues that, after Solon’s reform, in Athens were active ‘clubs’ of ἑταῖροι related to the regional parties (στάσεις) of Lycurgus, Peisistratus and Megacles. According to Ghinatti, the core of those στάσεις was the οἰκίαι of the leaders, whose followers were their ἑταῖροι and φίλοι. However, in my opinion, this reconstruction is problematic: how is it possible that struggles between rich and poor, which apparently took place during Solon’s life, fit into a scenario in which the political conflict involved as main protagonists the aristocratic οἰκίαι? Especially if one considers the fact that ἑταιρεῖαι played an important role during Cylon’s affair, whose fellows fought against the Alcmeonidae, and from the rise of Peisistratus to Cleisthenes’ reforms.
§24 In 1982 Tedeschi put forward the hypothesis that the usual context of Solon’s poems was the symposium. In archaic Greece, the symposium was probably the main context in which ἑταιρῖαι gathered: there is often an identity between sympotic groups and ἑταιρεῖαι. This proposal is accepted in Noussia-Fantuzzi’s (2010) comprehensive commentary on Solon. It must be stressed, however, that the subject of Solon’s poetry is very different from those of e.g. Archilochus or Alcaeus in a very important aspect. In fact, Solon’s poems are more vague about context and he seldom refers to his fellows. In Solon’s biography, Plutarch (Sol. 14,7; 15,7; 15,9; 30,8) describes the φίλοι of Solon as his interlocutors, but it is uncertain whether Plutarch actually found the word φίλοι in Solon’s poem. According to Tedeschi, one possible hint at sympotic context may be indicated in Sol. fr. 3,9 f. G.-P.2: οὐ γὰρ ἐπίστανται (i.e. δήμου ἡγεμόνες) κατέχειν κόρον οὐδὲ παρούσας / εὐφροσύνας κοσμεῖν δαιτὸς ἐν ἡσυχίῃ. It must be stressed, however, that Solon uses the word δαίς, not δεῖπνον or συμπόσιον: the term δαίς can refer to a sacrificial banquet, therefore Solon’s poem would be apparently in keeping with the recent hypothesis that, during the archaic period, sympotic gatherings took place primarily in sacred spaces and not in private spaces. However, such an interpretation is not necessary. In fact, δαίς has also a ‘profane’ meaning, such as in Il. XIX 179, where the word describes a banquet offered to Achilles by Agamemnon in his tent. Moreover, it is possible that Solon refers to ἑταιρεῖαι in fr. 3,2 f. G.-P.2 (ἄστυ / τρύχεται ἐν συνόδοις τοῖς ἀδικέουσι φίλαις) and his poetry certainly entails a sympotic context and sympotic themes, as frr. 6 (about wealth, cf. Alc. frr. 360 and 364; Theogn. 315-318), 16 (about sympotic ἔρως), 17 (about sympotic ἔρως), 18 (about sympotic ἔρως), 22 (about παιδεία, cf. Theogn. 27-38), 24 (references to Dionysus, Aphrodite and Muses), 26 (μεταποίησις?), 32-34 G.-P.2 (reference to ‘second tables’). In any case, a remarkable vagueness surrounds the composition of Solon’s audience: in fact, unlike Alcaeus, Solon does not ever directly address his audience.
§25 From where does this vagueness derive? There are three possible explanations: 1) Solon’s poems reflect a context different from that of the other poets; 2) Solon has a different political position; 3) Solon’s text is the outcome of a different tradition. In my opinion, a different context for all Solon’s poetry is to be excluded: as mentioned above, scholars generally agree on the sympotic setting of Solon’s poems. As to the textual tradition, unlike Alcaeus, Solon has not been handed down to us also by direct sources (i.e. papyri). In fact, except for Stobaeus, the main testimonia for Solon’s corpus are Demosthenes, Aristotle, Plutarch and Diogenes Laertius. It is possible that they represented Solon as an impartial lawgiver and father of Athenian democracy: it is likely that those testimonia selected elements for their own purpose. On the other hand, papyrological findings, which often testify to Alexandrine editions, are random i.e. they do not reflect a deliberate selection made by ancient scholars for ideological purposes. A selection may have been made by the Alexandrine editors, but, unfortunately, their methodological and ideological approach is very difficult to understand. Moreover, it is also very difficult to understand if any of Solon’s poems is complete: many of them begin with a δέ – for example frr. 3, 8, 11, 13, 20, 21, 24, 28, 29b, 30, 39 G.-P.2 – that could be inceptive, and related to a sympotic chain; but it could be also a sign of a incomplete quotation. The character of Solon’s testimonia could have caused the removal of partisan expression that an accidental tradition would not have produced.
§26 A common feature of poetry of ἑταιρεῖαι is the address to the fellows gathered in symposium: the examples of Bycchis (Alc. frr. 73,10 [cf. 306i c. I 26]; 306c,7 f.; 335,3 V. and schol. Alc. fr. 60 V.) and Melanippus (Alc. 38a,1 e 401B b V.) for Alcaeus and of Pericles (Archil. frr. 13,1; 16; 28,4?; 124 W.2, cf. Ath. I 7 f.) and Glaucus (Archil. frr. 15,1; 48,7; 96,1; 117; 131,1 W.2) for Archilochus are revealing. On the other hand, only two names of φίλοι of Solon have been handed down to us, Critias (fr. 22 G.-P.2) and Phocus (Plut. Sol. 14,8, cf. fr. 29 G.-P.2). Critias was the son of Dropides, who Plato (Tim. 20e) considered a φίλος and an οἰκεῖος of Solon: according to other sources, Dropides was Solon’s brother. Plato testifies that Dropides was often quoted by Solon (πολλαχοῦ … ἐν τῇ ποιήσει), in a manner that recalls the frequent mention of Bycchis in Alcaeus’ poems. In my opinion, an attractive hypothesis is that the tradition deliberately removed from Solon’s poems the partisan elements, such as an address to a ἑταῖρος, in an attempt to portray Solon as impartial. An example is Dem. 19,254, where the orator quotes fr. 3 G.-P.2: here he creates an antithesis between the common weal and the conduct of Aeschines, who looks after own interests. Perhaps it can be argued that Demosthenes omits what was not suitable to his purpose. Moreover, it is possibly worth noticing that fr. 3 G.-P.2 begins with a δέ, which again may indicate that the poem is not complete.
§27 The difference between the text of Solon and Alcaeus is possibly the result of different political views. For example, in Lesbos it is probably legitimate to distinguish two opposing policies, those of Alcaeus’ or Pittacus’ fellows and of the Cleanactidae; on the one hand, Pittacus perhaps promulgated sumptuary laws (cf. Sapph. fr. 98b V.), possibly against trade, while Sappho’s οἰκία was perhaps involved in trading and had formed relationships in Asia Minor; on the other hand, Alcaeus was apparently less open to foreign relations. The fact that Solon seems less partial can be attributed to the policy of his ἑταιρεία: maybe Solon’s ἑταιρεία, such as Pittacus’, was opposed to the δυναστεῖαι and relatively open to the δῆμος.
§28 All these elements lead to the conclusion that the comparison between Athens and Lesbos is valid. In both πόλεις, the οἰκίαι operated through the ἑταιρεῖαι and their actions were determined not only by rivalries in an aristocratic and competitive world, but also by differing ‘ideologies’.
Can Sparta still be considered a parallel?
§29 In modern scholarship parallels are often made between Alcman and Sappho: probably this link is based on the presence of female homoerotic sentiments in their poetry. The main question is whether these data are sufficient to compare the two societies. In fact, in comparative studies it is essential to establish parallels across the societies as a whole, rather than to focus on a single practice. Furthermore, female homophily is seldom attested in ancient Greece and it is difficult to understand if this lack of evidence is the product of a taboo or of a coincidence or of a neglect of the sources. The chorus of young women (παρθένοι) of Alcm. PMGF 1 has been compared with the community of φίλαι and ἑταῖραι of Sappho: the aim of these kinds of groups would be initiation of the young women. However, this interpretation raises some questions. First, was the chorus of the First Parthenion an ἀγέλη, i.e. a stable social formation? It must be said that dancing together is not the same as sharing in a community, because, except for relationships of φιλότης, in a community a frequent interaction is required, e.g. the examples of Alcaeus with Bycchis, Sappho with Atthis or Archilochus with Glaucus. Second, it is not certain that the procession of the First Parthenion (ll. 60-62) was part of an initiatory ritual, but it could be a component of an agrarian ritual. Finally, the existence of the ἀγωγή in 7th century is doubtful: the image of Sparta as an inheritor of a primitive past has been challenged and the notion of tribal institutions, especially the tribal initiation, has been deeply criticized from Finley (1968) onwards. The process that produced the ἀγωγή and, in general, the κόσμος, possibly originated as a reaction against the pressures of internal and external conflicts that Sparta faced during the archaic period. The aim of this ‘order’ was probably to enable the πόλις to control all ‘private’ practices, such as education or domestic commensality. Furthermore, the analogy with African practices, which were the main parallel to the ἀγωγή and Greek initiation from the 1930s, is controversial: African initiatory rituals are not ‘primitive’ – as we could understand in Brelich’s introduction to Paides e parthenoi (Roma 1969) – but are instead historical and geographical well-defined customs, sometimes even innovative ones.
§30 In analyzing Alcman, Alcaeus, Sappho and Solon, it is crucial to take into account the differences in the social organization between Sparta, Lesbos and Athens. In archaic Athens took place several struggles among aristocratic στάσεις (Cylon against the Alcmeonidae; the Peisistratidae against the Alcmeonidae and the fellows of Lycurgus; Cleisthenes and the Alcmeonidae against Isagoras): Solon was active in this context, promoting also through a timocratic reform the wealthy class of non-aristocratic origin, a class which aimed to share the power, perhaps with the support of the lower social class. Athens’ scenario is not different from Mytilene’s, where Pittacus was elected as a pro tempore tyrant against the φύγαδες, i.e. Alcaeus and his brother, and fought against the δυναστεῖαι. On the other hand, even if the κόσμος was probably definitively established during the 6th century, it is likely that in Sparta the πόλις played an important role throughout the archaic period. Probably, in Spartan society there was always a tendency to set some private practices in public context. This tendency was possibly promoted by the pressure exerted by the Messenians and the helots, which forced the Spartans to build a strong centralized military organization.
§31 In the light of these considerations, a more satisfactory interpretation of Sappho’s audience can be advanced. As we have just seen, there are similarities between Sappho’s community and that of Alcaeus: therefore, it is absurd to compare Sappho’s community to Sparta and Alcaeus’ to Athens. In fact, the female and the masculine part of a city should not be considered as opposite in a social organization: despite of their social roles, they are members of the same society. In my opinion, the social structures that can be reconstructed from Sappho’s poetry make Alcaeus the best parallel for Sappho, despite the difference of gender. To go further, to understand fully Lesbian society, it has to be compared to that of Athens, because Athens is the society where there is the richest documentation about the aristocratic οἰκίαι, which organized the social life of their members in groups of ἑταῖροι and φίλοι. As mentioned above, this point of view entails several problems: how could a society based on ἑταιρεῖαι have coexisted with Solon? How was Spartan society actually organized in Alcman’s period? Some recent studies about Sparta and Athens offer new ways to understand the ancient representations of the two best-known cities of ancient Greece. It is likely that these new perspectives will not contrast the hypothesis of a resemblance between Athens and Lesbos and the difference of both from Sparta in their social organization, but also they could improve our understanding of these two πόλεις.
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* I would like to thank Dr. Sara Kaczko, Prof. Jim Marks, Dr. Luna Martelli and Prof. Camillo Neri for the useful suggestions.
 Cf. Havelock 1963, 36 ff.; Vetta 1983, XIII-LX; Gentili 1984 = 2006, 15 ff.; Rösler 1997, 721-723; Calame 2008, 85 ff.
 A New Critical approach can explain the refusal of Sappho’ biographical testimonia. Burnett’s (1983) commentary on Sappho, Alcaeus and Archilochus is also affected by this perspective: cf. Rösler 1984, 202 f.; Caciagli 2011, 14 f.
 About Sappho and Sparta, cf. Wilamowitz 1897; Merkelbach 1957; Gentili 1966 (cf. 1984 = 2006, 138 ff.); Calame (1977, I 363-385); Lardinois 1994; about Alcaeus, cf. Rösler 1980; Vetta 1981 and 1983; Caciagli 2011.
 About οἰκίαι, cf. Alc. frr. 70, 112, 303Aa-b (= Sapph. fr. 99 L.-P.) V., Sapph. frr. 71, 98b, 155 V.; about the groups of ἑταῖροι, Alc. frr. 70, 129 V., Sapph. fr. 160 V.; about δῆμος, Alc. frr. 70, 129 V. ; about political institutions, Alc. fr. 130b V.
 An idea about the extent of a στάσις led by an important family is offered by Herodotus (V 72,1): when Cleomenes exiled Cleisthenes and his fellows, 700 ἐπιστία Ἀθηναίων left the city. Cf. Roussel 1976, 62-64.
 «“(That they should) fall is not bearable”… the sequence (of the words) is, ‘but … (that they should) fall (favorably ?) is not bearable’ … son of Cleanor … next that Myrsilus (is meant ?) … will be brought, which some (critics) … » (transl. Campbell 1982).
 Cf. Mazzarino 1943, 62 f.; Liberman 1999, 213; Caciagli 2011, 208 ff. According to Liberman (1999, 61), we should expect a text such as, which was rejected by Page (1955, 166) for paleographical reasons. However, after an accurate exam of the picture of the papyrus, I have suggested that fits the paleographical evidence of P. Oxy. 2165 c. I l. 18 (cf. Caciagli 2011, 209).
 «… the lyre (subject of the sentence? Or Pittacus?), sharing in the banquet, makes merry, feasting with empty braggarts … them. But let him, married into the family of the Atridae, devour the city as he did in company with Myrsilus» (transl. Campbell 1982).
 About φιλότης and ἑταιρεία, cf. Benveniste 1969, I 335-353; Chantraine, DELG 1205; Taillardat 1982; Donlan 1985; Calame 1992 = 2010, 19-23; Scheid-Tissinier 1994, 124-127; Seaford 1994, 7-16; Caciagli 2011, 56 ff.
 We should make a difference between ἑταιρεία and συνωμοσία: according to Sartori (1957, 30 ff.), the need of swearing is required by a very difficult moment and the oath could establish a ‘federation’ of groups.
 Schol. Alc. fr. 60 V. involves Alcaeus’ exile toward Pyrrha, maybe like Alc. fr. 306c V.; instead, Alc. fr. 73 V. seems to refer to the political rise of Pittacus after Myrsilus’ death: it is likely Bycchis has stood by Alcaeus for a long period.
 Cf. Od. XV 465-468 ἡ δ᾽ (i.e. a servant) ἐμὲ (i.e. Eumeus) χειρὸς ἑλοῦσα δόμων ἐξῆγε θύραζε. / εὗρε δ᾽ ἐνὶ προδόμῳ ἠμὲν δέπα ἠδὲ τραπέζας / ἀνδρῶν δαιτυμόνων, οἵ μευ πατέρ᾽ ἀμφεπένοντο. / οἱ μὲν ἄρ᾽ ἐς θῶκον πρόμολον δήμοιό τε φῆμιν. The link between convivial and political group is already in the epos: cf. Caciagli 2011, 190 ff.
 «What Alcibiades, Charmides, and Phaedrus were to the one, Gyrinna, Atthis, and Anactoria were to the poetess of Lesbos. What his rival professionals Prodicus and Gorgias and Thrasimachus and Protagoras were to Socrates, Gorgo and Andromeda were to Sappho. At one moment we find her reproaching them, at another defeating them in argument and practicing a positively Socratic irony. “Hello Ion”, says Socrates. “My warmest greetings / to the daughter of the house of Polyanax”, says Sappho. Socrates says that he did not introduce himself to Alcibiades, though he had long admired him, until he thought that he was old enough for serious discussion; “you seemed to me still little, graceless child”, says Sappho. He made sport of the sophist’s appearance and manner reclining; she speaks of “some woman clothed in a rustic dress”» (transl. of Trapp 1997, who identifies the Maximus’ sources).
 «But for you, Cleis, I have no way of obtaining a decorated headband; but … the Mytilenean … to have … if … decorated … (the city has?) these memorials of the exile of Cleanactidae; for these … wasted away dreadfully» (transl. Campbell 1982, reworked). About the interpretation on fr. 98 V., cf. Neri 2012, 31-43.
 Pittacus often changed political alignment. First, he fought against Melanchrus and, at the beginning, Myrsilus with Alcaeus’ ἑταιρεία. Then, he betrayed the latter and allied with Myrsilus. Second, he married a member of Penthilidae. Finally, he was chosen by the δῆμος as αἰσυμνήτης against the φύγαδες (Alcaeus’ and Antimenides’ group) and, during his government, fought against the δυναστεῖαι. Cf. Caciagli 2011, 303-306.
 Cf. Theogn. 1312-1316 τούτοισ᾽, οἷσπερ νῦν ἄρθμιος ἠδὲ φίλος / ἔπλευ – ἐμὴν δὲ μεθῆκας ἀτίμητον φιλότητα – / οὐ μὲν δὴ τούτοις γ᾽ ἦσθα φίλος πρότερον. / ἀλλ᾽ ἐγὼ ἐκ πάντων σ᾽ ἐδόκουν θήσεσθαι ἑταῖρον / πιστόν· καὶ δὴ νῦν ἄλλον ἔχοισθα φίλον. These lines, which involve φιλότης and an erotic relationship, affect not only the lover, but have also a communitarian feature (cf. τούτοις): cf. Caciagli 2011, 64 f. About θήσεσθαι, cf. Vetta 1980, 95.
 Cf. Caciagli 2009c. «… for you were one a child … and you liked to sing and dance. Come on! Let’s tell these things and grant us generous favours from that; for we are going to a wedding; and you too know this well; but send the maidens away as quickly as possible; and the gods have nothing dishonourable» (transl. Campbell 1982, reworked).
 Hdt. V 71 ἦν Κύλων τῶν Ἀθηναίων ἀνὴρ Ὀλυμπιονίκης· οὗτος ἐπὶ τυραννίδι ἐκόμησε, προσποιησάμενος δὲ ἑταιρηίην τῶν ἡλικιωτέων καταλαβεῖν τὴν ἀκρόπολιν ἐπειρήθη· οὐ δυνάμενος δὲ ἐπικρατῆσαι ἱκέτης ἵζετο πρὸς τὸ ἄγαλμα. τούτους ἀνιστᾶσι μὲν οἱ πρυτάνιες τῶν ναυκράρων … ὑπεγγύους πλὴν θανάτου· φονεῦσαι δὲ αὐτοὺς αἰτίη ἔχει Ἀλκμεωνίδας.
 Hdt. V 66,2 οὗτοι οἱ ἄνδρες (i.e. Cleisthenes and Isagoras) ἐστασίασαν περὶ δυνάμιος, ἑσσούμενος δὲ ὁ Κλεισθένης τὸν δῆμον προσεταιρίζεται, Arist. Ath. 20,1 ἐστασίαζον πρὸς ἀλλήλους Ἰσαγόρας ὁ Τεισάνδρου φίλος ὢν τῶν τυράννων, καὶ Κλεισθένης τοῦ γένους ὢν τῶν Ἀλκμεωνιδῶν. ἡττώμενος δὲ ταῖς ἑταιρείαις ὁ Κλεισθένης, προσηγάγετο τὸν δῆμον, ἀποδιδοὺς τῷ πλήθει τὴν πολιτείαν.
 Arist. Ath. 19,3 τειχίσαντες ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ Λειψύδριον τὸ ὑπὲρ Πάρνηθος … ἐξεπολιορκήθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν τυράννων, ὅθεν ὕστερον μετὰ ταύτην τὴν συμφορὰν ᾖδον ἐν τοῖς σκολιοῖς αἰεί· «αἰαῖ Λειψύδριον προδωσέταιρον, / οἵους ἄνδρας ἀπώλεσας, μάχεσθαι / ἀγαθούς τε καὶ εὐπατρίδας, / οἳ τότ᾽ ἔδειξαν οἵων πατέρων ἔσαν», Ar. Lys. 1150-1153 οὐκ ἴσθ᾽ ὅθ᾽ ὑμᾶς οἱ Λάκωνες αὖθις αὖ / κατωνάκας φοροῦντας ἐλθόντες δορὶ / πολλοὺς μὲν ἄνδρας Θετταλῶν ἀπώλεσαν, / πολλοὺς δ᾽ ἑταίρους Ἱππίου καὶ ξυμμάχους;
 Cf. Sealey 1960: the Alcmeonidae would be linked to the demes of Alopece, Agryle, Cypete and Leuconoe, southeast of Athens; the Eteobutadae of Lycurgus (?) to Butadae, north of Athens; the Peisistatidae to Brauron.
 According to Lang (2005, 26), «while there are many scenes of male banqueting on painted pottery from the Archaic period, there is no evidence that such activities were already taking place in private houses, where there simply was no space for them (i.e. in the archaic Greek house). Perhaps, the gatherings depicted were held in some more communal structure, such as a hestiatorium». Nevett (2010, 43 ff., especially 57-61) proposes that the αὐλή, at which Solon (fr. 3,27 G.-P.2) hints, is a suitable setting to the symposium in archaic Greece. On ἀνδρῶνες in archaic period, cf. Berquist 1990, 44.
 According to West (1974, 11 ff.), «the ordinary civilian symposium is clearly the occasion of much extant elegy», but he also suggests other contexts like public meetings for e.g. Solon’s poem about Salamina. Cf. Tedeschi 1991.
 A simple check on LDAB shows the difference in papyrological findings between Lesbian poets and Solon.
 The difference between Alcaeus’ text as it appears in Bergk’s editions, which were based on manuscripts and not on papyri for chronological, and as it appears in Voigt’s one is revealing: in fact, the latter contains more of the poems inclined to faction (i.e. στασιωτικά). Except Alc. frr. 140 and 332 V., in Bergk’s edition of Poetae lyrici Graeci (18431, 569-598) the στασιοτικά are infrequent: poems as frr. 69, 70, 72, 73, 75, 112, 129, 130b, 298, 305a (a commentary), 306Ab,e V. (commentaries) come from papyrological findings.
 In the Theognidea, Colesanti (2011) analyses the chains of sympotic poems and notices the difference between the poem in incipit and the following poems. The opening poem is more refined than the others, which were affected by the pressure of the improvisation. In other words, the following poems, which often opened by δέ or similar particles (cf. Harrison 1902, 211 ff.), are different from the opening ones and, also, from Solon’s poems, which seem well structured (cf. e.g. Noussia-Fantuzzi 2010, 127 ff., 217 ff.).
 The tradition about Pittacus is split in two: one negative, probably derived from Alcaeus; the other positive, in which Pittacus was included in Seven Wises. The representation of Pittacus as a betrayer or as a balanced statesman, who led εἰς τάξιν … τὸ πολίτευμα (Diog. Laert. I 75), is so contradictory that it is likely that each of them derived from different ideological views.