Among the Hellenes in archaic ‘Song culture’, it was axiomatic that when the ‘inspired’ aoidos declaimed ‘sacred song’ (θέσπις ἀοιδή), the voice of the divine itself sounded forth. But what credited such a claim? What property of ‘melic verse’ encoded the voice of the Gods? Pursuant to what semiotic rationale? To answer these questions, this chapter looks at (1) what counted as the ‘divine’ for the early Hellenes, (2) how the ‘inspired’ aoidos was able to ‘source’ it, (3) how he made it afford intelligence about cosmopoiesis and, finally, (4) how he gave this intelligence an expression that was legible to his listeners. The case is made that information about cosmopoiesis was encoded in the melodies and metre that accompanied the ordinary words used in melic verse. The semiotic rationale behind this claim was a mimetic correlation between (i) the ‘arithmology’ used to compose melodies and rhythms and (ii) the ‘arithmology’ used to quantify the blends of cosmic energies that powered the song's subject matter into its ‘complexion’. Hence, listening to ‘sacred song’ amounted to hearing two narratives about the object of the song: one in the ‘ordinary’ words of mortals recounting what it means ‘sub species hominis’, the other in melody relating its ‘sacral’, cosmopoietic significance.
Part of the book: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Semiotics