The Identity of Subject in Aeschylus, Cho. 32–36

In the parodos of the Choephori by Aeschylus the chorus sings of a nightmare that made Clytemnestra send libations to the grave of Agamemnon in a vain attempt to pacify his wrath and escape vengeance. The subject of Cho. 32–36 is described as ὀρθόθριξ δόμων ὀνειρόμαντις, but the identity of the ὀνειρόμαντις is obscure. The text of the passage is not sound, so various emendations have been attempted which presuppose different interpretations of its subject. The proposal of F. Blass to delete Φοῖβος in v. 32 seems the most convincing. This word was probably an interpolation aimed at inserting an explicitly named subject into the text. However, Φοῖβος is most implausible as a subject, since Apollo has nothing to do with grim underworld divinities as well as with sending prophetic dreams. Fear would be semantically suitable, but it is rendered improbable by the words περὶ φόβῳ in v. 35: if inserted into the text, the noun φόβος would become both a subject and a secondary element of the same sentence. Several other candidates proposed so far, such as Clytemnestra, φοῖτος, οἶκτος, are also implausible. The dream of Clytemnestra as a subject suits the context perfectly, but it could be hardly called “an interpreter of dreams”. Yet Aeschylus is fond of rethinking the sense of compounds according to their etymological potential. The paper argues that ὀνειρόμαντις is used in the meaning ‘Dream the prophet’, i.e. ‘prophetic dream’.

 Nina A. Almazova. The Identity of Subject in Aeschylus, Cho. 32–36