GROTTANELLI Tricksters Scapegoats Champions Saviors

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  • 7/30/2019 GROTTANELLI Tricksters Scapegoats Champions Saviors


    Tricksters, Scape-Goats, Champions, SaviorsAuthor(s): Cristiano GrottanelliSource: History of Religions, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Nov., 1983), pp. 117-139Published by: The University of Chicago PressStable URL: .

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  • 7/30/2019 GROTTANELLI Tricksters Scapegoats Champions Saviors


    Cristiano Grottanelli T R IC KS T E RS, S CA P E-GOATS, CHAMPIONS,SAVIORS


    The trickster is under attack. A recent book' shows that this mythical"type" was "discovered" by nineteenth-century ethnographers in thenative cultures of North America and then artificially "found" in themythologies of other ancient and modern societies. In this process, weare told, a series of very different and extremely complex figures ofvarious mythologies have been unduly thrown together to form ahybrid, a monstrous abstraction that has no real depth and no scien-tific value, and that only blurs the real issue, that is, the understandingof each specific mythology within its specific cultural context.Though its author does not state it explicitly, this attack is both theanswer to a specific problem and the symptom of a more general

    This article is a modified version of a paper I had the pleasure of reading to theHistory of Religions Club at the Universityof Chicago in December 1982. The paperwaswritten in Minneapolis, in close contact with Professor Bruce Lincoln of the Universityof Minnesota, who generously helped with suggestions, criticism, and advice. I profitedgreatly from a lively discussion with students and faculty of the Divinity School immedi-ately afterthe presentation.I am particularlygratefulto ProfessorsO'Flaherty, Reynolds,and Ahlstrom. A short talk with Jane Swanberg, who had studied some AmericanIndian tricksters, was useful-to me, if not to her.' Dario Sabbatucci, Sui protagonisti dei miti, Quaderni di etnologia religiosa 2(Roma: La Goliardica Editrice, 1981).? 1983 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.0018-2710/84/ 2302-0004$01.00

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    Tricksters, Scapegoats, Champions, Saviorssituation. To deal with the general situation first: the crisis of thetrickster, a creature of the traditional, comparative, and phenomeno-logical study of religions, is part of the crisis of that approach. It hasbeen written that "[in North America] phenomenology of religion, inany rigorous sense, has been quietly abandoned in practice, thoughthere is some occasional talk about it in certain journals";2and a fewlines further on the same article mentions the "disappearanceof com-parative studies." This was true in North America eight years ago,and it is still partly true in the field of the history of religions, both inEurope and in North America. But, though the reaction against theerrors and excesses of comparatism is still strong in our specific field,comparatism is far from being dead. As a matter of fact, it is nowbeing rediscovered and defended by historians: to a public of aston-ished Roman anthropologists and folklorists, Jacques Le Goff,3 inpresenting his work for the forthcoming re-edition of Marc Bloch'sLes Rois thaumaturges, explained that he did not understand thepresent disrepute of comparatism in general, and of Frazer (!) inparticular, among anthropologists and historians of religions-andhis cautious yet open attitude toward comparatism is clear in much ofhis masterly work.4 In the meantime, in Europe and elsewhere, theinfluence of Dumezil on historians is growing steadily,5and Dumezil,however one may judge his specific contributions, is a beautiful exam-ple of the resurrectionof comparatismafter the follies of the Compara-tive Mythology School and the subsequent reaction. More generally,historians are opening up to anthropology,6 and thus, implicitly, to

    2 Benjamin Ray, "History of Religions in North America: The State of the Art,"Religion: A Journal of Religion and Religions (Special Issue on the Occasion of theThirteenth Congress of the IAHR) (August 1975), p. 82.3This was in March 1981. Some of the things said by Le Goff on that occasion havereappearednow in an interview: J. Le Goff, Intervistasulla storia, ed. Francesco Maiello(Bari: Laterza, 1982).4 I think especially of Le Goff's "M1lusine maternelle et d6fricheuse,"Annales ESC 26(1971): 587-662, but also of other studies collected under the title Tempo della chiesa etempo del mercante e altri saggi sul lavoro e la cultura nel Medioevo, trans. MariolinaRomano (Turin: Einaudi, 1977).5 In the interview I have quoted in n. 3 above, Le Goff quotes Dumezil's comparatismas the correct type of comparatism (p. 24). Apart from PierreSmith's and Dan Sperber'sarticle, "Mythologiques de Georges Dum&zil,"Annales ESC 26 (1971): 559-86, oneshould see Duby's work on medieval history (esp. Georges Duby, Les Trois Ordres oul'imagination du Feodalisme [Paris, 1978]), and more recent work on more recenthistory, such as OttaviaNiccoli, I sacerdoti, iguerrieri, i contadini, Storia di un'immaginedella societa (Turin: Einaudi, 1979).6 The phenomenon is discussed in Le Goff, Intervista sulla storia, and is present in allthe work I have quoted so far. Of course, it is not only a French phenomenon and isclearly visible in the work of historians such as George P. Thompson, Natalie ZemonDavies, Sally C. Humphreys, and Moses I. Finley, to name only a few. It is now possible


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    Tricksters, Scapegoats, Champions, Saviorsdetail and generalization, are found, such ancient tools as the "mythi-cal figure" are obviously still necessary, even to the structuralists.Significantly, Levi-Strauss himself discussed the trickster in one of hismost revolutionary contributions.'2Indeed, necessity, and the conventions that best enable us to copewith it, should be the only criteria. The trickster is, of course, an"invention" of modern anthropologists and historians of religions;but, as such, it is neither more nor less "artificial"than most conceptsnormally used in those and in other disciplines. Should we abandonthe term "king" or the term "god" because they express realities thatare so complex and internally differentiated? Unless we are preparedto give up most of our current terminology, we should not be afraidto treat the trickster as real. If we are aware that its reality is that of aconventional generalization based on a certain number of empiricallygathered data, we may well use it with caution to further our under-standing of specific, as well as of general, aspects and problems ofhuman societies.

    B. DEFINITION: A PARADOXLet us now turn directly to the mythical "type" n question and attemptto define the trickster. What I propose here is a preliminarydefinition,necessary in order to start a discussion, a definition that will be testedand verified by the discussion itself.Tricksters are breakers of rules, but, though they are often tragic intheir own specific way, their breaking of rules is always comical. Thisfunny irregularity is the central quality of the trickster; and whatmakes the anomie comical is the trickster's lowliness. When he is ananimal, the trickster is a crafty, rather than a powerful, beast (in thisrespect, it should be noted that the trickster is a wolf only where theanimal kingdom is dominated by the kingly lion); when a humanbeing, he never ranks high, and his power lies in his witty brain or insome strange gift of nature. So a working definition of the trickstercould be: "a breaker of rules who is funny because he is lowly."But this definition leaves something out. The trickster is important,so important as to be sacred. Why should a lowly, comical breaker ofrules be important and sacred?What is the meaning of this contradic-tion? How does one explain this baffling ambiguity?One answer could be, and has been, that the trickster is importantbecause his anomic behavior is ridiculed by the myths and thus

    12 Claude Levi-Strauss, Anthropologie structurale (Paris, 1958),chap. 11 ("La Struc-ture des mythes"),and Myth and Meaning(Toronto: Universityof Toronto Press, 1978),chap. 3 (on tricksters, twins and hare-lips in North and South America). Cf. also MacLinscott Ricketts, "The North American Indian Trickster," History of Religions 5(1965): 327-50.


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    History of Religionsreinforces the norm. But this answer is not satisfactory, for we knowthat the trickster is often an antagonist of the Creator, and that indevious ways he cooperates in creating the world; or, just as often, heis a positive culture hero who founds institutions. So his importanceis not just derived from a positive use of his negative aspects: on thecontrary, he is described as a necessary element of the mythical (andactual) reality because of his creative (but irregular) achievements.Other answers to this question have been offered. Some are moresatisfactory than the one I have just quoted; and we shall return tothem later. But I think that, before one can start answering (oreven asking) questions, one should try to enrich one's dossier, toenlarge the "number of empirically gathered data" upon which that"conventional generalization," the trickster, is based. From what Iknow of trickster studies today, for instance, it is easy for me toforesee that medieval and modern European tricksters such as Mar-colphus, Bertoldo, Till Eulenspiegel, Margutte, Pantagruel, and Pan-urge, are bound to come into the picture and to improve the qualityof our outlook.13 But this growth in the number of data employedwould not be really useful if it did not involve profound changes inthe general attitude to the study of tricksters. Up to now, the trickstersof "primitive,"especially of native American, societies have been usedto shed light upon their analogues, "discovered," for instance, in theancient world. In the future, one may be able to reverse the process,or, better still, to adopt a multifocal attitude. The present article doesnot present itself as a first move in such a direction; but, in strivingtoward generalizations that could be valid for the category as a whole,it does focus on some tricksters of antiquity, and particularly on anewly "discovered" trickster of Latin literature.


    The first-century A.D. Latin poet Phaedrus, a libertus Augusti, trans-lated Aesop's Fables generally into succinct but elegant verse, but in afew cases he was entirely original. One such case is his (if it is his)3 Marcolphus and Bertoldo belong to the medieval Latin and Italiantradition, and tothe folklore of southern Europe: see G. C. Croce, Le sottilissime astuzie di Bertoldo: Lepiacevoli e ridicolose simplicita di Bertoldino, in Dialogus Salomonis et Marcolphi, ed.Pietro Camporesi (Turin: Einaudi, 1978).Their relationship with Aesop has been recog-nized but not yet studied thoroughly. Till Eulenspiegel is the German tricksterof the lateMiddle Ages and early modern times; Margutte is a figure of the Italian sixteenth-century poet Pulci; and Panurge and Pantagruel are creatures of Rabelais (sixteenthcentury). The folkloric background of Rabelais has been studied revealinglyby MichailBachtin, Tvoriestvo Fransua Rable i narodnaia kul'tura srednevekov'ja i Renessansa(Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Chudozestevennaja literatura, 1965), which I have read in the

    Italian translation, L'opera di Rabelais e la cultura popolare (Turin: Einaudi, 1979).


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    Tricksters, Scapegoats, Champions, Saviorsfable Pompey and the Soldier (Pompeius et miles), the 113th of Bre-not's Belles Lettres edition and the eighth of Perotto's appendix. Thelittle-known story that it contains is a real treat for the historian ofreligions:In the army of the Roman warlord Pompey the Great a tall, vast-bodiedsoldier had gained, by his halting speech and by his soft and over-gracefulway of walking, the reputation of a notorious pervert [famam cinaedi ...certissimi]. Having spied upon the general's beasts of burden during thenight, this man stole Pompey's mules along with a considerable amount ofgold, silver and jewels. Rumor spread the news, and the soldier was accusedof the theft and brought to the general's tent, in the center of the army camp.Pompey addressed him thus: "Was it you, o comrade in arms, who dared torob me?"Immediately, the soldier spat into his left hand and then shook thespittle away. "May my eyes turn thus to water, o imperator," he said, "if Ihave touched or seen anything!" Then the honest-hearted hero Pompey [viranimi simplicis] ordered that such a dishonor of the encampment be drivenout, for he felt it hardly acceptable that such temerity could dwell in the man.A short time after that a barbarian enemy of great strength provocativelyinvited any Roman to fight against him in a single combat; each soldier fearedfor himself and even the officers murmured in fear. Finally the soldier whoseattitude was that of a pervert, being a true Mars in strength, came to Pompey,who was enthroned upon his platform, and in a soft voice asked: "MayI ... ?"-but the disgusted Pompey orderedthat he be chased out of the camp.An old [senior] friend of the general's,however, argued that it would be betterto entrust to fate [fortunae committi] that man, whose death would have beenno great loss [iactura levis], than a strong and virile man, whose defeat wouldattract upon Pompey the charge of temerity. So Pompey gave his assent andpermitted the soldier to fight; and in front of the whole army the man cut offthe enemy's head and returned as a victor-in no time [dicto celerius]. At thispoint, Pompey spoke to him thus: "O soldier, I gladly crown you with thiscrown [corona], for you have upheld the honor of Roman authority [quiavindicasti laudem romani imperi]; but may my eyes turn to water"-and heimitated the soldier's foul and filthy oath [turpe illud imitans ius iurandummilitis]-"if you did not steal my luggage the other day."'4

    14 The sourceof Niccolo Perotto'scollectionof thirty-two"phaedrian"ablesthatwere not contained in the previous editions is unknown. The manuscriptswe possess arePerotto's own Codex Neapolitanus 4.F.58 and the Vaticanus Urbinas 368, which wassurely written before 1517. However, the fables are usually accepted as Phaedrian. TheLatin text of the Fabula is the following: "Magni Pompeii miles vasti corporis / fracteloquendo et ambulando molliter / famam cinaedi traxerat certissimi. / Hic insidiatusnocte iumentis ducis / cum veste et auro et magno argenti pondere / avertit mules.Factum rumor dissipat; / arguitur miles, rapitur in praetorium. / Tum Magnus: 'quidais? tune me, commilito, / spoliare est ausus?' Ille continuo excreat / sibi in sinistram etsputum digitis dissicit. / 'Sic, imperator, oculi extillescant mei, / si vidi aut tetigi.' Tumvir animi simplicis / id dedecus castrorum propelli iubet, / nec cadere in illum credittantam audaciam. / Breve tempus intercessit, et fidens manu / unum de Romanis


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    History of ReligionsWe do not really need to remember that the very name of this shortstory, a fabula in Latin, is the normal term for myths in Roman andthen in medieval tradition, to know that it can and should be studiedas a myth; and its protagonist stands out no less vividly than manymythical figures. Like other Roman myths, however, this myth isfirmly placed in history-even in recent history, since Pompey diednot long before Phaedrus wrote.'5 As a "historical"myth, our fabulacan be compared to some stories written by Livy, a contemporary ofAugustus and thus chronologically intermediate between Phaedrusand Pompey. Livy wrote about Pompey, for seven books of his Ab

    urbe condita are devoted to the civil war between Pompey and Caesar;but the two Livian stories which are nearest to Phaedrus's Pompeiuset miles are placed further away in history. They are about heroicsingle combats between valiant Roman soldiers and arrogant, giganticbarbarians, long before his time.B. OF ROMAN CHAMPIONS

    During the wars against the Gauls that occupied a large part of thefourth century B.C., the Romans were often faced with great danger.Twice, the solution was provided by noble champions who defeated aCeltic antagonist and won a victory for Rome. Livy describes bothoccurrences in detail and takes special care to underline how one gaverise to a famous Roman cognomen, to a surname borne by noblemembers of a great aristocratic family. From this point of view, itshould be noted, the stories of Torquatus (and Corvus) are in no waydifferent from the Livian tales of Scaevola and Codes that we havelong been used to treat as myths.'6provocabat barbarus. / Sibi quisque metuit; primi mussant duces. / Tandem cinaedushabitu, sed Mars viribus / adit sedentem pro tribunaliducem, / et voce molli: 'licet ... ?'Enimvero eiici / ut in re atroci Magnus stomachans imperat. / Tur quidam senior examicis principis: / 'hunc ego committi satius fortunae arbitror, / in quo iactura levis est,quam fortem virum, / qui casu victus temeritatis te arguat.' / Assessit Magnus etpermisit militi / prodirecontra; qui miranteexercitu / dicto celerius hosti decidit caput /victorque rediit. His tum Pompeius super: / 'corona, miles, equidem te dono libens, /quia vindicasti laudem Romani imperii; / sed extillescant oculi sic', inquit, 'mei,' / turpeillud imitans ius iurandum militis, / 'nisi tu abstulisti sarcinas nuper meas.'" The term"warlord"that appears in my translation is taken over from the terminology of RonaldSyme, The Roman Revolution, 2d ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952).15On Pompey, see Matthias Gelzer's old Pompeius, 2d ed. (Munich, 1949),as well asJ. Van Ooteghem, Pompee le Grand, batisseur d'empire (Brussels, 1954). But the bookthat is most revealing of the historical background of the phaedrian fabula is W. E.Anderson, Pompey, His Friends and the Literatureof the First Century B.C. Berkeleyand Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1963). I have not read PeterGreenhalgh, Pompey: The Republican Prince (London: Weinfeld & Nicholson, 1981).16See R. Grant, Roman Myths (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1973), pp. 191-206. I think in particular of Dum6zil's contributions on the traditions about the two


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    Tricksters, Scapegoats, Champions, SaviorsIf we consider these two stories about prototypical Roman cham-pions together,'7 we shall be able to construct a paradigmaticpicture,that we can then compare to our Phaedrian fabula. Two things strikeus immediately. First, that the duel is always begun by the initiativeof the enemy champion. Second, that this is not merely a convenientnarrative device (as it is, for instance, in the biblical story of Davidand Goliath), but that it is consistent with a more general Romanattitude: Romans do not normally fight in single combat; their armyand camp are a cosmos, within which each man has his place (ordo,statio); in order to fight in an irregular way (extra ordinem pugnare)

    one has to ask the supreme commander's explicit permission.'8 Otherimportant aspects of the stories are the obvious corollaries of thiscollective and orderly military organization, style, and spirit-andthis is especially true of the contrast between the barbaric and theRoman champion: the first is noticeable because of his specific per-sonal qualities, such as his dimensions, or the colors and richness ofhis arms, while the second is nothing but a "typical" Roman milesand as such both unobtrusive and invincible.The sequence of events in the stories is as clear and as constant asthe opposition we have just described. First, the barbarian'sprovoca-tion; then, fear in the Roman camp (even the officers are afraid), andthe young champion's brave decision. He goes up to the general, askspermission, obtains it, is armed, goes up to the area between the twoarmies (inter duas acies), a "middle" zone (medium), and, in spite ofhis apparent inferiority, that is really only his "medium"aspect (mediamilitaris statura), wins. He then despoils his enemy and is rescued by

    his comrades who exult over his deed; later, in a public assembly(contio), he is eulogized by the general who gives him a golden crown(corona aurea) or a golden crown and ten oxen. In one case at least,he is given a new name, explicitely derived from his deed.But this short analysis would not be complete if we left out oneimportant structural trait of the opposition between the Roman andthe enemy champion. We have already seen that while the barbarianis big, noisy (he "makes his voice as loud as he can," he "smites hisspear against his shield," he strikes with his sword, "making a mightyheroes; see, most recently, G. Dumezil, "'Le Borgne'and 'Le Manchot': The State of theProblem," in Myth in Indo-European Antiquity, ed. G. J. Larson (Berkeley and LosAnfeles: University of California Press, 1974), pp. 16-28.Livy Ab urbe condita 7.9-10, 26.18 On this, one should see the old but still valid observations of Georges Dumezil,Horace et les curiaces (Paris: Gallimard, 1942), pp. 11-33, who contrasts the Roman iusarmorum and the heroic fury of the Germanic and Celtic warriors and quotes theobservations in Vegetius's De re militari 1.1 and 2.2.


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    History of Religionsclatter but doing no harm"), and visible (colored dress, golden weap-ons, fierce dancing, gestures of derision), the Roman fighter is ofmedium height, silent (ira ... tacita), and nothing to look at. Weshall now add that the Roman soldier wins either because he is cleverand agile, and slides in unobtrusively (the verb is insinuare) under hisenemy's shield, or else because his enemy is dumbfounded by divineintervention. So the enemy is stronger in his body but weaker in hismind; being easily seen, he does not see, and in one case he is actuallyblinded-in other words, the barbarian is a large object of the act ofseeing, a body to be looked at; the Roman is the subject of that act,both literally and metaphorically: he is a mind that looks and quicklyacts.

    C. POMPEY'S SOLDIER, HERMES, AND THE CASTRATED PRIESTSIt is immediately clear that the part of Phaedrus'sfabula that describesthe duel is a further version of this ancient topos, that we have seen asit appears in Livy's Ab urbe condita. I will show later that the fabula isat the same time a reversal of that topos. But before I proceed to do so,I wish to look briefly at the other part of the fabula and to examine itin a similar way. And it is not difficult to do so, for it is self-evidentthat the other part-the part that recounts the soldier's theft andawful perjury-is nothing but a further version of a myth that we findfor the first time in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes.19In that hymn, which is usually dated to the seventh or sixth centuryB.C., the god Hermes is born to the nymph Maia and to Zeus, and,already as a newborn babe, shows his true character by stealing hisbrother Apollo's cattle and cunningly hiding them in a secluded cave.Then he goes back to his cradle-but Apollo returns to find that hiscattle are missing, searches for them, and is told by an old man, whohas seen Hermes taking them away, that a babe has stolen them. Hethen goes to his younger brother'shome, finds Hermescraftily swathedin his wrappings, pretending to sleep in his cradle, and orders him tomake haste and to tell him of his cattle, or he will kill him. ButHermes answers him

    19 1 have followed the text and the translation offered by Hugh G. Evelyn-White,Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica, Loeb Classical Library (1914; reprint,Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974), pp. 363-405. But I have also usedFilippo Cassola, Inni Omerici (Verona: Mondadori & Fondazione Lorenzo Valla,1975), pp. 153-225. I have dealt with the Homeric Hymn to Hermes in a forthcomingarticle: Cristiano Grottanelli, "L'Inno a Hermes e il Cantico di Deborah: Due facce diun tema mitico," published in Rivista degli studi orientali, vol. 56 (1982); in the article Icomment on the trickster-likebehavior of the babe Hermes.


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    Tricksters,Scapegoats, Champions, Saviorswith craftywords[pOot0oovKcepaClAotat]: Son of Leto,what harshwordsare these, that you havespoken?And is it cattle of the fieldyou have comehereto seek?I havenot seenthem;I have not heardof them;no onehastoldme of them.... Am I like a cattle-lifter [poov maTflpi], stalwart person?This is no task for me: rather,I carefor otherthings:I carefor sleep,andmilk of my mother'sbreast,and wrappings oundmy shoulders,and warmbaths.... I was bornyesterday, ndmyfeet aresoft,andthegroundbeneaththem is rough;however, f you willhave it so, I will sweara greatoathbymyfather'shead and vow that neitheram I guiltymyself,neitherhaveI seenanyother who stoleyourcows-whatever they maybe;for I know themonly byname."[Vv. 261-77]

    Exactly like Phaedrus's cinaedus, the god Hermes is a thief, and athief who swears that he is innocent of the theft, thus committingperjury: a terrible perjury, for he swears the "great oath," by hisfather Zeus (naTpO6SK?(paXiv [IEyav OpKov 6ptopat). The correspon-dence could not be more precise. As for the stolen objects, the cattlestolen by Hermes are the perfect equivalent, in an archaic society, ofthe mules, textiles, and precious metals stolen from Pompey; more-over, Hermes in the Hymn (vv. 176-81) promises that, if Apollo shallseek him out, he, Hermes, will break into his brother'sgreat house, toplunder tripods, textiles, gold, and iron.Hermes, the god of roads and of boundaries, the thief par excel-lence, has been studied as a trickster and explicitly compared to suchtricksters of primitive mythologies as the Winnebago Hare figure byscholars like Norman O. Brown20and Karl Kerenyi.2'The traditionsabout this god, and specifically the story told by the Homeric Hymn,were still alive at the time of Phaedrus and applied to the Roman godMercurius;22t seems probable that the resemblances we have shownare the result not of coincidence, or of the use of a widely diffusednarrative motif, but of a specific imitation of the Mercurian myth.The fabula told by Phaedrus is thus in part a peculiar version of afamous topos, that of the Roman champion, and in part the repetitionof the most famous myth of the Greek and Roman trickster god. Thetrickster quality of Pompey's soldier is not only suggested but alsoconnected to an archaic and noble tradition. Our cinaedus is, in away, the avatar of an important Olympic god.If this was the mythical and religious background and implication ofour tale, other figures of narrative, and of popular taxonomy, were, in

    20Norman O. Brown, Hermes the Thief: The Evolution of a Myth (1947; reprint,New York: Random House, 1969).21Carl G. Jung and Karl Ker6nyi, Einfuhrung in das Wesender Mythologie (Berlin,1941-42).22 E.g., in Ovid's Metamorphoseon libri 2.675-707.


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    History of Religionsthe Roman world around the beginning of the Christian era, theobvious analogues of Pompey's miles. To quote one example, thecastrated leader of the group of priests of the Phrygian Mother goddessin Juvenal's sixth satire resembles Pompey's cinaedus: he is huge(ingens), effeminate (semivir), his genitalia are "soft" (mollia) as wasthe demeanor of Phaedrus's soldier; and he craftily despoils the credu-lous peasants. This comparison, however, is especially important be-cause it introduces the more significant one that can be drawn betweenPompey's soldier and the castrated priests of the Syrian Mother god-dess, that we find in Apuleius's Metamorphoseon libri, a novel datedto the second century A.D. and, in its Greek parallel, the novel AoUKtogri ovog. In the eighth and ninth books (in chaps. 25-31, 1-10, respec-tively), Apuleius describes them as lowly, ridiculous,effeminatecinaedi,given to homosexual debauchery and to selling false prophecies to allthey can trick along the way in their itinerant mode of life. In book 9,chapters 9-10, we are told that these effeminate tricksters had stolenthe golden cup belonging to the Phrygian mother of the gods: but agroup of horsemen from the town where the theft had taken placeovertook them as they were fleeing with their donkey, found the cuphidden among the robes of the statue of the Syrian goddess that thedonkey was carrying, and, accusing them of being sacrilegious andimpure (sacrilegos impurosque), led them in chains to the town's jail(Tullianum) where they awaited a death sentence. The theft, as in thecase of Pompey's cinaedus, was followed by a blasphemous lie, for thepriests justified their action by saying that the cup had been offered tothe Syrian goddess by her sister, the mother of the gods, as a hospitablegift (hospitale munus). Effeminate, sacrilegious, impure, these Orientalsexual perverts, thieves, and foul trickstersare the very embodiment ofevery un-Roman quality; their resemblance to Pompey's soldier wholike them is called a cinaedus is striking and sheds light on the implica-tions of that figure and tale.The negative part of Phaedrus'saccount of Pompey's miles can thusbe read on two different (but not contradictory) levels: on the onehand, it is the repetition of the mythical adventures of an importantOlympic god; on the other hand, it is similar to tales that were toldabout Oriental quacks and such disgusting rabble (turba obscoena).Though it is even possible to think of a preciserelationship between theMercurian myth and Apuleius's story about the Syrian priests (in bothcases, for instance, the theft is presented as a problem arising betweentwo divine siblings), it is obvious that the two levels, and the implica-tions behind the two comparisons, are entirely different. But, withineach narrative universe, there is an internal hierarchy, and thus astrong difference in level between the tricksters and their adversaries:


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    Tricksters, Scapegoats, Champions, SaviorsApollo, the aristocratic god-indeed, the god of the Greek aristocracy,a dignified young fighter, diviner, and musician-is confronted withhis brother, a poor, clever, crafty babe, the god of thieves, of roads, ofchance findings; though they rarelycome into contact with the higherclasses, Apuleius's Syrian priestsare neverthelessopposed to sedentaryfarmers,with theirarmedhorsemen, small town, andjail, and presentedas greedy, poor nomads who own only one donkey and one slave. Onthe two very different levels, that of the Olympic pantheon and that ofa rural, provincial society of the early Roman Empire, the trickstersare lowly while their antagonists rank higher, if not high: a situationthat compares well to that of Phaedrus's fabula, opposing a miles andhis imperator.

    D. POMPEY'S CHAMPION AS A TRICKSTERI have thus divided the fabula Pompeius et miles into two parts andidentified each part as a specific version of a mythical motif. Of eachmotif I have then found and brieflyexamined some possible prototypes.The fabula has thus been shown to be an aspect of a complex andlong-livednarrative radition, or, betterstill, the productof the combina-tion of two traditional topoi within one complex narrative tradition.But, as I have anticipated, the relationshipbetween each of these twoparts of Phaedrus's fabula and its motif and prototype is not the same.The first part of the fabula, with the soldier's theft and perjury, isnothing but a further version of the topos that we have seen representedby the myth of Apollo and Hermes. But, precisely because the first partis a version of such a motif, the second part of the fabula, whichpresents the soldier as a champion, is a further version of the motif ofthe Roman champion only in the sense that it is a reversalof that motif.In a way, the fabula does continue the topos: for the protagonist isjust as improbable a winner as the two champions of old, described byLivy, seemed to be. But in this very similarity the profound differenceis obvious, for the "ordinary"aspect of the two champions was the signof their peculiar aristocratic style and, of course, of their virtue asdisciplined Roman citizens and soldiers, notable for their pietas; andwhat could be taken as a sign of their inferiority was in reality theproof of their superior power. On the other hand, the negative qualityof Pompey's soldier-who is dishonest, impure, and a perjurer,andbig, effeminate, but strong, while the ancient champions, virtuous andpious, were of medium build but virile and strong-is beyond doubt.We have seen that Phaedrus's cinaedusresembles the effeminate priestsof the Orientalgoddesses; now we must add that the difference betweenPompey's champion and the Livian heroes is so strong that one couldeven compare that tall, vast-bodied soldier to the huge, noisy Gallic


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    History of Religionschampions who oppose those heroes: eximia corporis magnitudinehere, miles vasti corporis there.The victory of the ancient champions is thus no real surprise,becausethe contradiction it represents (i.e., the fact that a smaller and lessprepossessingchampion can defeata biggerand more noisy and impres-sive one) is a merely fictitious contradiction,just as the modest value ofthe young aristocratswas merely apparent. But the victory of Pompey'sstrange champion is a real surprise, for the un-Roman Roman soldierof Phaedrus's tale is the very opposite of the Livian champions. TheLivian stories confirm an important rule, the vaguely paradoxical butvery proper, rule that a small but "right" (= Roman) champion isbetter than a big but wrong (= barbarian) one, while the Phaedriantale reverses that rule and shows that a bad (though big) man canindeed be a good champion; that he was the champion, at least on oneimportant occasion; and that he won.So, far from beingmerelythe opposite of the Livianheroes, Pompey'ssoldier, the bad man who wins, is an ambiguous figure, a contradictionin himself, as will be clear if we examine him closely. He is a soldier,who should openly raid the enemy and despoil the corpses of his slainfoes, as the champions in Livy's stories do-but he secretly robs hisown leader; he should be damned by his very oath and damned to losehis sight, that function upon which we have seen the victories of Livy'sheroes to be based-but he is victorius over the gigantic enemy; he isthe dishonor (dedecus) of the Roman encampment-yet it is he whoupholds the honor of the Roman authority (laudem Romani imperi);after his victory, he is crowned by the imperator during a publiccontio-but during that ceremony he is not praised, but blamed for afoul deed, by the general who crowns him.So, the contradictory and paradoxical quality of Phaedrus's fabulaimplies the ambiguity of its protagonist; and that ambiguity is the realambiguity, told by Livy. This duplicity, this ambiguity of Pompey'ssoldier is the general background against which the soldier's mostnegative actions, the theft and the perjury, should be envisaged, thusbecoming the ultimate expressions of his disconcerting character. Andthe importance of this ambiguity is, I think, indirectly stressed by thevery term used to describe the protagonist's superiorand moral antago-nist, the hero Pompey, who is called vir animi simplicis, "the simple-hearted hero," as he chases the perjurer rom the camp, but still finds itdifficult to believe that such temerity is possible. Simplex (devoid ofduplicity) faces duplex in this passage;and each is, in a way, defined byhis very opposition to the other.We have seen that the story of Pompey's soldier and his general'smules is a further version of a myth whose possible prototype is the


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    Tricksters, Scapegoats, Champions, Saviorsstory of Hermes and of Apollo's cattle; and we have seen that Hermesthe thief has been studied as a trickster. It is immediately clear thatPhaedrus's miles has many qualities and attitudes that are typical ofthat mythical figure: often called cinaedus, he is not only effeminatebut a sexual pervert(this is the technical meaning of the term cinaedus);he is a thief who also sins against the sacred authority of the supremecommander in spying upon, and then in stealing, his property; heswears an oath that is both turpe, foul, in form, and a perjury in itscontents. "Voleur, trompeur,"as in Laura Levi Makarius'sdefinitionof the trickster; but, also, metaphorically, "parricide," and, in anabnormal way, "phallique"; "degoutant," without doubt, so as to bedishonor (dedecus) itself. Phaedrus's Roman soldier is, technically, atrickster; and we have seen that his pedigree as a trickster, that goesback to an Olympic god, is at least as important as his background as achampion.If the soldier of Phaedrus's fabula is a trickster, then his paradoxicalquality as a bad man who is a successful champion, his duplicity andambiguity, can and should be envisaged in connection with the intrinsicambiguity of the tricksters of anthropologists and historians of reli-gions. Like those tricksters, the cinaedus in Phaedrus'stale is negativebut sacred, lowly, impure, accursed, but "important." We are facedhere with the paradox that we started with: the trickster as a savior. Ishall presently turn to this paradox, to study this specific case in a waysimilar to the way in which I would study the paradoxical quality of afigure of primitive mythology. If I can reach some understandingof theparadox of Phaedrus's trickster, this may help us to understand theparadox of the tricksterin general, to answer the questions we asked atthe beginning of this article. But, in order to do so, I must look atPompey's soldier once more, concentrating, this time, on the sectionof the fabula that links the first to the second of the two parts I haveexamined so far. For it is this central section that defines our soldierand cinaedus most clearly.


    When he is found guilty of the theft, Pompey's soldier is, according tothe fabula, driven out of the camp (propelli) as a dedecus castrorum,a personified shame of the military camp. It is not clear whether thismeans a dishonorable dismissal of the soldier from the military service(dimissio ignominiosa), or a more severe punishment, such as thestoning and beating with rods (fustuarium) which, according to Poly-bius,23 was the punishment for all who left their place during the23 Polybius 6.36-39 (punishments and rewards of Roman soldiers: thefustuarium is

    described in chap. 37). On the misunderstanding of things Roman by Polybius, see


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    History of Religionsnight, for sexual misdemeanor, for stealing, and for perjury in thecamp (one should note that the cinaedus of Phaedrus's fabula isguilty of the last three crimes) and which implied death or the ban.The guilty soldier is chased away from the Roman camp, from thatcamp whose shame he was; the military community or microcosmthus purifies itself; the perjurer,who has turned himself into a damned,impure man, is sent across the border. Moreover, the effeminate trick-ster is not actually accepted in again when he offers himself up as thechampion for the single combat. When Pompey has been persuadedby his senior to let the man fight, it is to the no-man's-land betweenthe two armies (to what Livy called medium) that the trickster thenproceeds. Though he is thus not chased out (eiici), the soldier is, bythe senior's intercession, merely "given up to fortune" (fortunae cor -mitti), and really returns to the camp only later, as a victorioussavior, to receive his corona. The marginal quality of the expelledthief and perjurer seems to be modified only after he has won andrescued the community; had he lost, he would have died an impure,discarded being, just as the guilty soldiers killed by the fustuariumdied. But, even when he is accepted in the camp and given the crown,he is at the same time, as I have stressed before, reminded of his theftand perjury by Pompey's imitation of his foul oath-an imitation,however, that is not a perjury,but on the contrary the ultimate proofof the general's certitude of his soldier's guilt. And here I must repeat,in a different context and, I think, with a more profound meaning,that the end of the story marks the final ambiguity; for the trickster isa crowned savior as well as a foul thief and perjurer:"internal"to thecamp now, even promoted, but nevertheless a criminal, an outlaw.The return is only partial, or rather, only apparent, and the crosser ofmoral boundaries who has fought and won on the boundaries betweenthe two camps retains his duplicity and is never to be a real insider.The analysis of the central section of Phaedrus's fabula throws newlight upon its protagonist, for in virtue of his status as an impureoutcast, a status that is precisely indicated by that section, Pompey'ssoldier, who features so clearly as a trickster in the first part of thefabula and as a champion in the second, is shown to be a scapegoat.First of all, being driven away from the camp as a shameful andguilty criminal, as the dishonor of the camp, he is an outcast whotakes pollution away with him, like the Greek pharmakos, the misfitupon whom the sins of the community are symbolically loaded and

    Arnaldo Momigliano, "Polibio, Posidonio e l'imperialismo romano," Atti della Ac-cademia delle Scienze di Torino 107 (1972-73): 693-707; but on this specific pointPolybius seems to me to have been a good observer.


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    Tricksters,Scapegoats, Champions, Saviorswho is then forever removed; and we should keep in mind that crimi-nals are often selected for such a role.24 Since criminals had to beremoved from their society in order to free it from the impurity theywere felt to be, it is hardly surprising to see them thus entrusted withthe role of scapegoat, and we can easily venture to compare theexpulsion of the guilty miles to precisely such a rite; moreover, thepharmakos was often stoned to death, as were the soldiers condemnedto the fustuarium, according to Polybius.It is, however, not sufficient to see the tricksterof Phaedrus'sfabulaas an outcast in order to interpret him as a scapegoat. What is moreimportant is the fact that he is also, in a way, a victim, when he offershimself up and is then offered by Pompey as the one who will risk hislife to save the community that has banned him. That community, itshould be noted, would be saved not by his death, but by his victory:in this sense the situation differs profoundly from the case of theHebrew scapegoat sacrifice, or of the Roman devotio, the offering upof a fighter in arms to the gods of the netherworld in order to causethe destruction of the enemy army. But the victory that will save thecommunity is attained at the risk of death. In exchange for salvation,and for the reputation of the authority of Rome, that risk is offered,as it had been offered by Livy's young noblemen.In the fabula, however, more than a risk is offered, and the offeringis felt at least by some to be in truth a sacrifice. First of all, inPhaedrus's text the soldier is, by the senior's initiative and in thesenior's words, entrusted to fortune (fortunae committi), and theLatin Fortuna is both an abstract concept and an ambiguous goddess,not devoid of mercurian traits, dear to the lower orders and to theslaves, a bringer of salvation who was never completely rationalizedinside the structure of the Roman state polytheism.25Second, and thisis most important, the soldier, in the eyes of Pompey's friend, and

    24 One of the best recent treatments of the pharmakos is to be found in H. S.Versnel, "Polycrates and His Ring: Two Neglected Aspects," Studi storico -religiosi 1(1977): 37-46. J.-P. Vernant, "Ambiguit6et renversement: Sur la structureenigmatiqued'Oedipe Roi," in Mythe et tragedie en Grece ancienne, ed. J.-P. Vernant and PierreVidal-Nacquet (Paris: Maspero, 1973);and Walter Burkert, Structure and History inGreek Mythology and Ritual (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of CaliforniaPress, 1979), pp. 58-77, are also important.25 On the Roman Fortuna, Georges Dumezil, La Religion romaine archaique, 2d ed.(Paris: Payot, 1974), pp. 424 and 429, also pp. 57 and 58-59, 460 (Fortuna invokedwith other gods during the crisis after the defeat of the Trebia). On the goddess as a"foreign" deity, apart from Dum6zil's observations (p. 429), one should see AngeloBrelich, Tre variazioni romane sul tema delle origini (Rome: Edizioni dell'Ateneo,1955), pp. 9-47 (on the goddess Fortuna Primigenia of Praeneste and its meaning inthe Roman religious context).


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    History of Religionsprobably, at this point of the narrative, of Pompey himself and of theRoman army, is sent to a probable death, for, if the valiant men donot dare to fight against the gigantic champion, what hope is therefor this effeminate thief and perjurer?The problem is thus only thechoice of a victim, and the trickster, while being officially accepted asa champion, is obviously considered to be in truth a scapegoat. Fin-ally, the soldier is explicitly offered as a substitute: a substitute, pos-sibly, for the Roman army, in a single combat that may be seen as anordeal by combat, and so as a way of sparing the lives of all the otherRoman fighters, who just look on (mirante exercitu) in admiration; asubstitute, without doubt, for that virile and strong hero (fortemvirum) who (if only he existed) would be exposed to a possible defeatand death at the risk of a severe censure for Pompey (qui casu victustemeritatis te arguat).The trickster of Phaedrus'sfabula is thus an outcast and a potentialsubstitute victim, intended by the Roman leaders more as a scapegoatthan as a champion, and thus given up to Fortune for Rome insteadof a strong hero, who should not run the risk of being defeated bychance (casu victus). In the following section, we shall deal with the"explanation" offered by Pompey's senior friend for this choice; buthere we are concerned merely with the scapegoat quality of our trick-ster. That quality is a direct consequence of his previous sins and ofhis outcast status as a criminal; it is the motivation for the acceptanceof the trickster's offer. Moreover, that quality is indicated by thewords of Pompey's friend: while the trickster sees himself as a cham-pion, he is seen by those who accept his offer as a victim, and onlyaccepted as a champion because he is felt to be the right victim.


    As we have seen, the acceptance of the trickster'soffer is explained bythe senior, who by explaining it convinces Pompey to let the criminalfight. Since this is the only "explanation" of the curious episode thatthe text itself provides, we shall deal with it carefully, hoping to findin it some trace of a solution to the paradoxes we are confrontedwith.The trickster's self-offering, says the senior to Pompey, is to beaccepted precisely because he is the least valuable of the soldiers, onewhose death would be no great loss. This interpretation is not anisolated instance in the logic of exchange and sacrifice. Nor is itunknown in the logic of single combat, as shown by an episode in


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    Tricksters, Scapegoats, Champions, Saviorswhich a slave volunteers for single combat on condition that he gainhis freedom; he wins the combat and his liberty.26But, paradoxically, the senior's "solution" to the problem of theguilty champion is a very bad rationalization of Pompey's final deci-sion in the fabula. For the trickster accepted as champion is not aslave: he is a polluted criminal and an outcast. The whole first part ofthe fabula, presenting Pompey's soldier as a pervert, a thief, and aperjurer, may not be dismissed as a mere "explanation" of the cham-pion's small value. We are confronted with something profoundlydifferent. In the previous section, we have shown the cinaedus to bean outcast and a scapegoat, similar to the Greek pharmakos; in morespecifically Roman terms, we should call him sacer, using a word thatindicates sacred things as well as "any person who has been foundguilty of some crime by the people: he should not be sacrificed, but ifsomeone should kill him/her, the killer should not be consideredguilty of murder(parricidi non damnatur);for the first law sanctionedby the tribunes warns: 'If someone has killed a person, who is notori-ously sacer, the killer should not be accused of murder.' So any badand dishonest person (homo malus atque inprobus) is usually calledsacer.27Similar to the "sacred" criminal whose life is not defended by thelaw because he is an outcast, Pompey's cinaedus is sent to fightagainst the gigantic enemy champion. This duel between a barbarianand a criminal may also be compared to a fight between gladiators orin the circus, for both barbarians and criminalswere often condemned,already in Phaedrus'stime, to fight in such "spectacular"games28 andwe should not forget that Livy himself, in describing the duel betweenTitus Manlius and the Celtic champion, alluded to those games, statingthat the two fought more like gladiators than like soldiers (spectaculimagis more quam lege belli) in the no-man's-land (in medio) betweenthe two embattled armies(inter duas acies). Though the senior's wordspresent the acceptance of the soldier's offer as a way of paying ascheap a price as possible for an unavoidable defeat, what Pompey is

    26 In Paulus Diaconus's eighth-century Historia Langobardorum 1.12.27 Sexti Pompei Festi de verborumsignificatu quae supersunt cum Pauli epitome, ed.Wallace M. Lindsay (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1913), p. 424, lines 5-13.28 For the Roman circus and gladiator games, see the old work by A. Piganiol,Recherches sur les jeux romains (Strasbourg: Publications de la faculte des Lettres del'Universite de Strasbourg, 1923), whose "magical"interpretation is justly criticized byGiulia Piccaluga, Elementi spettacolari nei ritualifestivi romani (Rome: Ateneo, 1966),pp. 11-14, with some further bibliography. On the (Etruscan) origins of gladiatorgames, see the short but useful paper by Mario Torelli, "Delitto religioso: Qualcheindizio sulla situazione in Etruria," in Le Delit religieux dans la cite antique (TableRonde, Rome, 6-7 Avril 1978) (Rome: Ecole Francaise de Rome, 1981), pp. 1-7.


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    History of Religionsreally doing is much morejust-and much more Roman. He is sendinga foul criminal to a terrible death-though that death is not totallysure.So the solution proposed by Pompey's older friend is not a correctaccount of the motivations and meanings of Pompey's decision, thatis, of the scapegoat aspect of the trickster's story. Of course, it doesnot even attempt to account for the fighter's quality as a championand for the salvation he affords by winning. The soldier is seen onlyas a possible offer tofortuna; and no words are wasted on a possiblevictory. The problem of the guilty winner and savior is not evenconsidered. So we must return to that problem renouncing any guid-ance from Pompey's adviser.

    B. TRICKSTERS AS SAVIORS: A POSSIBLE SOLUTIONFar from being a mere valueless token, Pompey's cinaedus is thus atrickster, a criminal champion who saves the Roman army and thehonor of Rome (laudem Romani imperi); as such, he should be envis-aged in the light of other mythical tricksters and saviors of the ancientMediterranean. I think, for instance, of Prometheus, the ambiguousfigurewhose deeds are both crimes(notably, a theft) from the viewpointof the gods and heroic acts of salvation for men. This breakerof rules,who has been studied as a trickster,29s banned and punished, acting asa scapegoat who offers up his life for humanity, for he has sinned forthe benefit of humans.Prometheus is the ultimate example of the duplicity of tricksters:criminal and savior, guilty and heroic, impure and sacred, antagonistand mediator, he compares well to Pompey's soldier, though he acts ona far larger scale. Oedipus, savior and pharmakos, is another instanceof the same ambiguity for, being ignorant of his true identity, he isboth subjectively innocent and objectively guilty of the terrible sinsthat pollute him and his community.30Phaedrus'strickster,who knowshe is guilty, can nevertheless swear that he is innocent and get awaywith it: he is thus a reversed Oedipus and a good example of thecomplexities of the system of ambiguity centered on the trickster.Against this wider mythical background, Pompey's soldier reveals his

    29By Karl Ker6nyi in his commentary published in Paul Radin, The Trickster:AStudy in American Indian Mythology (New York: Schocken Books, 1972), pp. 180-82.30 On Oedipus's duplicity, see J.-P. Vernantand Pierre Vidal-Nacquet, "Ambiguit6etrenversement dans la structure6nigmatiqued' 'Oedipe-Roi,'" in Echangeset communi-cations: Melanges offerts t Claude Levi-Strauss a l'occasion de son 60e anniversaire(n. 11 above), pp. 1253-79, now republished in Vernant and Vidal-Nacquet, eds. (n. 24above), pp. 99-131.


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    Tricksters, Scapegoats, Champions, Saviorsqualities, and the fabula regains its proper value, the mythical value Ihad presented as a working hypothesis in Section IIA.A look at other ancient tricksters has told us something of themeaning of Phaedrus's cinaedus. But the solution of the specific para-dox he presents us with can only be reached by working directly on thefabula-and not on the only "solution" explicitly offered by the text(for we have seen that the solution in question does not even deal withthat paradox), but on the narrative itself. So we should turn to thatnarrative, and ask, Why is Phaedrus's trickster such a good championand savior? And how does the saving cinaedus help us to clarify theparadox of the trickster, lowly but important, impure but sacred?To answer these questions we should now look at the fabula candidlyand refrain from despising the obvious (Poe and Lacan31have shownhow important it is for a researcherto be nearsighted). If we are candidenough, the answer, the right answer, will turn out to be: the bad mansaves the Roman army because he alone offers himself up for thedangerous duel. He wins, of course, because, being envisaged as a goodscapegoat, he is accepted as a champion; and he is accepted notbecause, as Pompey's older friend argues, he is of little value, norbecause he is a polluted criminal (though these two elements are,respectively, the rationalization and the form of the acceptance), butfor the very simple reason that there are no other volunteers: thefortisvir who should not be risked does not exist outside mere rhetoricalhypothesis, and the officers themselves are afraid (sibi quisque metuit;primi mussant duces). Only the shameless pervert, the foul criminalwho dared to steal his general's belongings and to defy the gods byswearing a false oath, has the courage to offer himself to the risk.This solution of our Phaedrian paradox sheds light on the paradoxof the trickster as a general type of mythical figure. Indeed, it helps tosurpasseven the point reachedby the most acute and sensitive approachto the tricksterparadox-I mean, of course, the structuralistapproach.Levi-Strauss has gone further than anyone else in clarifying the liminaland "intermediate"quality of the trickster;the structuralistsolution ofthe paradox of the tricksteris the idea that the trickster,in his ambiguityand liminality, is the mediator par excellence and thus a savior-forsalvation is the mediation of contradictions. But this seems to metautological, and thus useless: a point of no return.32The blind alley

    31 Jacques Lacan, Ecrits (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1966). I refer especially to thefamous Seminaire on E. A. Poe's Stolen Letter, translated by Charles Baudelaire as LaLettre vole and studied by Lacan in the light of Borges, Freud, and Benveniste.32 For the structuralist solution of the trickster paradox, see Levi-Strauss, Anthro-pologie structurale (n. 12 above), chap. 11, and Myth and Meaning (n. 12 above). Fora total criticism of Levi-Strauss's structuralism, which I find useful but unnecessarily


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    History of Religionsmay be skirted, I think, by putting the emphasis not so much, as thestructuralists seem to do, on the boundaries themselves and on thetrickster's connection with them, that is, on his liminal quality, as onthe dynamic aspect of that same phenomenon: on the crossing of theboundaries by the trickster. Just as in the case of Phaedrus'sfabula, indealing with the general paradox of the trickster we must realize thatthe trickster breaks hard barriers:the tricksterdares.33Having crossedthe boundary, the tricksteris impure, but, having had access to, havingtaken, what is across the boundaries, he is a giver of riches, and havinghad the courage to cross them, he is powerful. Power and impurity,pollution and salvation, go together because they are all products ofthe same daring gestures.In this sense, Pompey's friend's statement, that the loss of the guiltytrickster would be no great loss, can be reversed into the acknowledg-ment that nothing can be a great loss to the trickster: this makes thetrickster the perfect champion and the perfect scapegoat-as well asthe perfect gambler (and, most appropriately, Hermes the trickster isthe god of gambling and of chance findings). The trickster has nothingto lose, for the impurity of boundaries is upon him already, and,having nothing to lose, he moves about freely and gets away withanything, using even death as a form of birth, redemption, andpromotion.Indeed, this quality that we have found in Pompey's soldier seems tome the central quality of tricksters in general;and its discovery may bethe decisive step toward the solution of the paradox of the trickster.This quality of tricksters is just as clear-and as central-in the case oftricksters as culture heroes as it is in the case of our champion, foracquiring elements of culture is in itself risky, as is shown not only bythe case of Prometheus, who gave mankind fire and was punished byZeus, but also by tricksterssuch as the Winnebago Hare, who inspectedthe world, opening it up for human culture, and suffered many painsand losses, that typify the risks of discovery.34vehement, see Raoul Makarius and Laura Levi Makarius, Structuralisme ou anthro-pologie: Pour une critique radicale de I'anthropologie de Levi-Strauss (Paris: editionsanthropos, 1973). The structuralist attitude to the trickster is discussed in that volume,notably on pp. 142-43 (jaguar in a Warrau myth and coyote the culture-hero) andpp. 235-76 (North American tricksters).33 On the semantics of "daring" in the Indo-European languages (the root recon-structed is *Vdhers-), see Bruce Lincoln, "The Myth of the Bovine's Lament,"Journalof Indo-European Studies 3 (1975): 345-48. Daring, when crowned by success, i.e.,favorably aided and fulfilled by the deities, is positive; but it is mere folly otherwise andends in total disaster. This is precisely our trickster's case: if successful, he shall becrowned, if unsuccessful, as I have suggested, he shall remain an impure outcast. Thedeity here isfortuna; the daring, audacia.34 Radin (n. 29 above).


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    Tricksters,Scapegoats, Champions, SaviorsAnd this quality of trickstersimplies power through impurity, a typeof power totally different from the established powers of aristocrats,generals, and chiefs. It is the "other"power, that often faces the powerof those who make and uphold the rules, being the power of breakingrules and the liminal, as opposed to the central, power-similar in itsliminality to what Victor Turner35 alls "the Powers of the Weak": apower devious and often unrecognized, yet necessary in moments ofcrisis. This duality of powers is well expressed, in some of the tales wehave discussed, by the internal hierarchy we have noted: Apollo thegreat god, or Pompey the Roman warlord, are powerful; yet they areultimately defeated, or they need to be saved, by the superior power oftheir inferior, the trickster. In her book on power and guilt, Laura LeviMakarius36holds that all ("archaic")powers, including the power ofsacred kingship, ultimately derive, in the ideology of the societiesinvolved, from the violent breakingof rulesand of the blood prohibitionin particular. This I cannot discuss here; but it seems clear to me that,in all the cases we have considered, the power of the tricksteris definedin opposition to the "central"powers of those who uphold the rules.

    Indeed, the trickster is defined by this very contrast and uses tricksbecause he lacks the force possessed by the central powers: whether hebe the youngster who opposes the old, powerful shaman,37 he orphanwho ridicules the chief,38the minor figure who clumsily imitates theCreator, thus giving rise to the irregularities of the cosmos,39 or thebuffoon who outwits the king.40We have alreadyseen that the meaningof the trickster lies not just in mediation, as the structuralists would

    35 Victor W. Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Harmonds-worth: Penguin Books, 1974), pp. 80-118.36 Laura Levi Makarius, Le Sacre et la violation des interdits (Paris: Payot, 1974).37Levi-Strauss, Anthropologie structurale, chap. 12 (Levi-Strauss does not identifythe protagonist as a trickster, but a comparison with the passages in Radin's volumequoted in n. 29 above points in this direction).38 Radin, pp. 22-23, 49-50, 103;compare with Lucien Sebag, L'Invention du mondechez les Indies pueblos, II (Paris: Maspero, 1971), chap. 3, sequences 15-19 (Poshay-anne and the cachique).39 On this aspect of the trickster, see Angelo Brelich, "I1trickster,"Studi e materialidi storia delle religioni 29 (1958): 129-37; Ugo Bianchi, 1 dualismo religioso (Rome:L'Erma di Bretschneider, 1958), "Pour l'histoire du dualisme: Un Coyote Africain, leRenard PBle,"in Liber Amicorum: Studies in Honour of Professor Dr. C. J. Bleeker(Leiden: Brill, 1969), pp. 27-43, and "Seth, Osiris et l'ethnographie,"Revue de l'histoiredes religions 179(1971): 113-35.40 I think especially of the Marcolphus I have quoted in Sec. IB and in n. 13 above,and of his predecessor Aesop (see B. E. Perry, Aesopica [Chicago: Universityof IllinoisPress, 1952]). But I must mention the African court jester studied by Max Gluckman,Politics, Law and Ritual in Tribal Society (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co., 1965),pp. 100-105, and by Turner(n. 35 above), pp. 96-97.


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    History of Religionshave it, nor just in showing the absurdity of reversal.41Levi Makarius,Ricketts, Pelton42 have shown that the problem is more complex. Butthe meaning of the trickster, as Phaedrus's pervert shows, lies not inbloodshed, though he does shed blood,43not in his human weaknessand strength, though he is a champion of humanity;44not in "love,"though he does save the world:45t lies in that "other"power:the powerof breaking boundaries, of getting away with it, and of achievingsalvation through sin.

    University of Rome41 A similar position (though he never mentions the trickster explicitly) is now de-fended for rituals of inversion, clowns, mock kings, etc., by Marc Auge, "Quand lessignes s'inversent, a propos de quelques rites africains" (Italian translation by F. Mai-ello, "Quando i segni s'invertono: A proposito di alcuni riti africani"), in Antropologiae Potere, ed. F. Maiello (Cosenza, 1979), pp. 75-94. Of course, Aug6 quotes in thisconnection M. Gluckman's studies on African "ritualsof rebellion."42Levi Makarius (n. 36 above). Ricketts (n. 12 above). Robert D. Pelton, TheTrickster in West Africa (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press,

    1980). See the criticism of this interesting work in Sabbatucci's vol. 1 (n. 1above), butalready in Mircea Eliade, The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1969), p. 175;and by Pelton, pp. 8-10. Sabbatucci tendsto identify Ricketts's position in regardto the trickstersimply as "Eliadian."43 See Levi Makarius.44 See Ricketts.45 See Pelton, especially in the last page of the volume, where the power of thetrickster is said to be "nothing less simple and less complex than love."