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Chapitre D'ouvrage Année : 2010

To See or not to See: Blind People and Blindness in Ancient Greek Myth


As other disablities, blindness seems seems to be ambiguous in Archaic Greece and later, both a disease and an advantage,. Blind people are known in Myths as very respected and honoured persons : poets (aoidoi) or soothsayers. Those professions might have been their specialties, as is still seen in such countries as Africa. Their blindness seems to have been given them as a compensation for their gift, or the reverse, in formulas typical of an exchange rather than of a punishment. We'll start with a formal analysis of the vocabulary and the formulas, which will lead to an analysis of some characters and myths. 1. 1. Tuflovç The first word one thinks of is of course tuphl-and its family. We sought it in the whole corpus of the TLG. Tufl-is met only one in Homer, in Iliad 6, about Lycurgus : let's remind the context. Diomedes sees Glaukus coming out before the fighting-lines with a hostile attitude, seeking for a single combat with him. As he is much stronger, tjis challenge seems foolish, and Diomedes first supposes he could be a god (v. 128-9). Then, Diomedes takes a mythological paradeigma for such a foolish behaviour, that of Lycurgus, who dared to pursue young Dionysos' nurses in the holy mountain of Nyseion (probabley a popular etymology for the god's name). Young Dionysos dived into the sea down to Thetis' cave, whereas the Nymphs used their goad (bouplh`gi) against Lycurgus. The text doen't specify if this very arm took L. his sight, but his blindness is due to Zeus, as well as his further death. The gods were detesting him, blindness and death are clearly a punishment (138 wjduvsanto, 140 ajphvcqeto). This first and sole Homeric example seems without ambiguity. Hom. Il. 6.139 Lycurgus : 130-143 6.130 oujde; ga;r oujde; Druvantoç uiJo;ç kratero;ç Lukovorgoç dh;n h\n, o{ç rJa qeoi'çin ejpouranivoiçin e[rizen: o{ç pote mainomevnoio Diwnuvçoio tiqhvnaç çeu'e kat∆ hjgavqeon Nuçhvi>on: ai} d∆ a{ma pa'çai quvçqla camai; katevceuan uJp∆ ajndrofovnoio Lukouvrgou qeinovmenai bouplh'gi: Diwvnuçoç de; fobhqei;ç duvçeq∆ aJlo;ç kata; ku'ma, Qevtiç d∆
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Dates et versions

hal-01965625 , version 1 (26-12-2018)


  • HAL Id : hal-01965625 , version 1


Françoise Letoublon. To See or not to See: Blind People and Blindness in Ancient Greek Myth. in Light and Darkness, actes du colloque de Patras, juillet 2007, ed. Menelaos Christopoulos, Efimia Karakantza & Olga Levaniouk, Lanham, Lexington Books, coll. dirigée par Gregory Nagy, p. 167-180., 2010. ⟨hal-01965625⟩


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