Chapter 5. The Impermanence of the Permanent: The Death of the Gods?

Philology, like philosophy, begins in wonder. Surprise should be taken seriously, for it has an important hermeneutic function: it signals a lack of correspondence between our horizon of expectations and some new object and thus suggests that, if we have not radically misunderstood that object, then our prior expectations must be significantly revised.
—Glenn W. Most [1]
Throughout the preceding chapters, I have attempted to demonstrate the temporal dimensions of the Iliadic narrative by analyzing images of decaying ships and human bodies along with the more durable yet still mortal structures of defensive walls and tombs. The temporal structure of the people and objects of the Iliadic world is conditioned by the state of constant degeneration: everything tends towards decay, though it may ‘not yet’ (οὔ πω) have achieved that status.
In this chapter, I argue that the very concept of “permanence” in the Homeric epics, the near contemporary work by Hesiod, and the corpus of poems known as the Homeric Hymns, is more complex than is generally assumed. [2] Men and gods occupy what can be thought of as two different “worlds,” each governed by its own temporality. The mortal world and mortal time are filled with labor, pain, grief, and death. The world of gods is free from such experiences; gods live easily and spend their time feasting and enjoying the divine music of the Muses. And yet, when we look at the way these two “worlds” are situated, we find that although separate, they are not mutually exclusive. That is to say, it is possible for a member of one of the “worlds” to become distant from his own world and its accompanying temporality and therefore to become close to the world and temporality of the other. Within this framework we may situate the tradition of a pre-historic race of men who do not work, do not grow old, do not get sick, and essentially do not experience death; they are characterized as occupying a space far away and apart from the world of men, a space which is correspondingly close to the world of the gods. In a reciprocal move, then, it is possible for gods to undergo certain experiences that make them distant from the space proper to gods and that bring them close to the mortal world and the wasting effects of mortal time.
From this perspective, we may examine those moments within the narrative of the Iliad and its contemporary texts where gods come to experience mortal time—becoming enmeshed in human temporality—through the experience of pain, anxiety, grief. Here we examine the physical sufferings of Aphrodite, Hera, Hades, and Ares. Furthermore, we look at a series of interrelated stories that constitute a traditional “motif” which deals with one god challenging the chief divinity and either overthrowing him or being overthrown by him. These stories representing the “succession motif” are significant for our study because they contain clear instances of gods forced to experience mortal temporality, wherein the defeated challenger is made to feel physical pain by being struck with Zeus’ lightning bolt, and is then quite literally made distant from the world of the gods: he is “hurled” out of heaven itself and into the murky depths of Tartaros, the underground containment cell for defeated gods and their analogical “Hades.” Here we compare the Homeric narrative of the fall of Hephaistos with the Hesiodic narrative of the fall of Typhoeus/Typhaon, along with the Iliadic descriptions of Atē, the goddess of “delusion,” and Hupnos, the god of “sleep,” who are cast or nearly cast from heaven never to return. [3]
Let me be forthright: no god actually “dies” in the Iliad. Yet, several divinities experience something very similar to “death.” [4] Being caught up in mortal time through pain and suffering, being struck by lightning, or being thrown into Tartaros are essentially as close as any god comes to “death.” And yet, once a god experiences mortal time, he or she is deeply affected—he or she comes to experience a virtual death. As we will see, Hephaistos once wounded never quite regains his original status, but remains marked by the lasting effects of his “mortal” experiences. In a less marked way, Hera is also drawn into mortal temporality through her suffering of a an ‘incurable pain’ (ἀνήκεστον … ἄλγος, V 394) at Herakles’ hands, and Ares is brought to the very threshold of death in his thirteen month long captivity in a bronze jar (καί νύ κεν ἔνθ’ ἀπόλοιτο ‘and now he might have died’ V 388).
In short, then, I aim to show that Homer’s gods themselves come to be conditioned by time. That is to say, Homer presents his gods as experiencing the world the way humans experience it when they feel sorrow, loss, and pain. The death of their loved ones cuts them metaphorically, and weapons can cut them quite literally. They weep, bleed, endure physical pain, and in certain circumstances, even seem to undergo something strikingly similar to death. [5] They may lose their powers and prerogatives through binding and imprisonment; [6] they can be physically incapacitated through loss of breath or blood; and they can be subdued with Zeus’ lightning bolt or even human weapons. Finally, they can be cast into Tartaros, a prison for Zeus’ enemies, which contains these “dead” gods just as Hades contains the souls of dead mortals.
What does it mean for the gods of Greek epic, by definition the very personification of permanence, to be subject to time and perhaps even to “die”? Such a question is deeply connected with the concepts of temporality and durability, for, I believe, the image of a dying god necessarily forces us to revise our notion of permanence itself. I argue that this question informs our understanding of Homer’s epic project—the preservation and dissemination of Achilles κλέος ἄφθιτον ‘unwithered fame’.

1. Immortal and ageless forever? The spatial and temporal dimensions of immortality

At first glance, the gods in Greek epic appear to be outside of time and immune to its withering effects. [7] They are regularly called ‘immortal and ageless’ (ἀθάνατος καὶ ἀγήρως) in a collection of formulaic phrases in Greek hexameter poetry which point to the structural opposition underlying the distinction between gods and human beings. [8] Unlike ‘mortals’ (θνητοί or καταθνητοί), the gods are ‘immortal’ (ἀθάνατοι): they do not experience death, that biological event which defines the human condition. What is more, Greek gods do not undergo the process of physical decomposition brought upon mortals by time and age—they are ἀγήρως ‘ageless’. They are not part of the temporal cycle of growth and decay. [9] Unlike mortals who exist only for a short time, gods are beings who ‘always are’ (αἰεὶ ὄντες). [10] They are distinguished from mortals in terms of what they eat. Man eats the fruits of the earth: compare Iliad XXI 465: ἀρούρης καρπὸν ἔδοντες ‘[men] eating the fruit of the plowed field’; VI 142: εἰ δέ τίς ἐσσι βροτῶν οἳ ἀρούρης καρπὸν ἔδουσιν, ‘if you are someone of mortals, men who eat the fruit of the plowed field’; and the formula ἐπὶ χθονὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες ‘[men] eating food upon the earth' (Odyssey viii 222, ix 89, x 101). Gods, on the other hand, eat nektar and ambrosia. [11] Gods and humans are further distinguished by where they live, for human beings dwell on the earth (οἱ ... ἐπὶ χθονὶ ναιετάουσιν ‘men who dwell upon the earth’, Odyssey vi 153; [12] ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων ‘men upon the earth’, Iliad IV 45, Odyssey I 167, xviii 136, xxii 65, 414; [13] θνητοῖσι βροτοῖσιν ἐπὶ ζείδωρον ἄρουραν ‘mortals liable to death upon the life-giving ploughland’, Odyssey iii 3, xii 386, Homeric Hymn to Apollo 69, and cf. Odyssey xix 593), whereas gods dwell high above, on the peak of Mt. Olympos or in heaven itself (οἳ Ὀλυμπον ἔχουσιν ‘[the gods] who hold Olympos’, Iliad V 890, Odyssey vi 240, xii 337, xiv 394, xviii 180, xix 43, Homeric Hymn to Apollo 498, 512; τοὶ Οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἔχουσιν ‘[the gods,] those who hold wide heaven’, Iliad XX 299, Odyssey I 67, iv 378, v 167, vi 50, 243, vii 209, xii 344, xiii 55, xvi 183, 211, xxii 39). And perhaps most tellingly, whereas men are ‘unhappy’ (δύστηνος: cf. Iliad XVII 445) and ‘very wretched’ (ὀϊζυρώτερος: cf. Iliad XVII 446) because they must toil ceaselessly for their sustenance, the gods are ‘blessed’ (μάκαρες: Iliad I 406, IV 127, XIV 143, XX 54, XXIV 23, 99, 422) and ‘live easily’ (ῥεία ζωόντες: Iliad VI 138, Odyssey iv 805, v 122).
The distinction between mortals and gods is emphatically foregrounded in the Iliad during the occasional encounters between mortals and divinities on the battlefield, such as Apollo’s warnings to Diomedes, Patroklos, and Achilles, who in the midst of their aristeiai, strive to be something more than human. [14] Leonard Muellner’s analysis of formulaic phraseology equating the mortal hero to his divine counterpart/nemesis during his aristeia is especially instructive:
Antagonism and, paradoxically, heroic glory itself arise when the hero tries to reach and surpass the god with whom he identifies and against whom he struggles. In the case of a warrior in his aristeía, the diction and themes of battle narrative make it plain that the god whom the warrior incarnates and competes with is Ares himself. Thus the formula daímoni îsos, ‘equal to the god’, which occurs nine times in the Iliad, is always and only used of a hero in his aristeía, whether it be Diomedes, Patroklos, or Achilles himself.
Muellner 1996:12
The phrase δαίμονι ἶσος ‘equal to a god’, occurs nine times in Homeric epic, describing Diomedes (Iliad V 438, 459, 884), Patroklos (XVI 705, 786), and Achilles (XX 447, 493, XXI 18, 227) at the height of their respective aristeiai. Most remarkable about the passages describing Diomedes and Patroklos is the theme of “counting” that appears as Diomedes and Patroklos each strive in turn against a god three times, but on the fourth time they are beaten back. [15] For instance, during his aristeia Diomedes attacks Aeneas three times, even though the Trojan is protected by Apollo himself; the god repulses Diomedes three times in silence, but when the hero makes a fourth attempt, the god issues a stern warning:
γιγνώσκων ὅ οἱ αὐτὸς ὑπείρεχε χεῖρας Ἀπόλλων,
ἀλλ’ ὅ γ’ ἄρ’ οὐδὲ θεὸν μέγαν ἅζετο, ἵετο δ’ αἰεί
Αἰνείαν κτεῖναι καὶ ἀπὸ κλυτὰ τεύχεα δῦσαι.
τρὶς μὲν ἔπειτ’ ἐπόρουσε κατακτάμεναι μενεαίνων,
τρὶς δέ οἱ ἐστυφέλιξε φαεινὴν ἀσπίδ’ Ἀπόλλων·
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ τὸ τέταρτον ἐπέσσυτο δαίμονι ἶσος,
δεινὰ δ’ ὁμοκλήσας προσέφη ἑκάεργος Ἀπόλλων.
φράζεο, Τυδεΐδη, καὶ χάζεο, μηδὲ θεοῖσιν
ἶσ’ ἔθελε φρονέειν, ἐπεὶ οὔ ποτε φῦλον ὁμοῖον
ἀθανάτων τε θεῶν χαμαὶ ἐρχομένων τ’ ἀνθρώπων.
Although [Diomedes] recognized that Apollo himself was holding his hands over him,
nevertheless he at least did not shrink even from the great god, but was going ever onward
to kill Aeneas and to strip away his glorious armor.
Then three times he drove forward in a fury to cut him down,
and three times Apollo battered aside his bright shield;
but indeed when he rushed on for the fourth time equal to a divinity,
Apollo who strikes from afar cried aloud terribly and addressed him:
“Watch out, son of Tydeus, and give way; don’t
be wanting to think like the gods, since never is the breed the same,
that of the immortal gods and that of men who walk upon the ground.”
Iliad V 433–442
The ‘breed’ (φῦλον, V 441) of men and that of the gods are not the same, Apollo claims; men cannot hope to compete with the gods, so they should give up any attempt to do so. Even the hero, the great figure who is something more than an ordinary man through his willingness to die in battle while still in the prime of his life, [16] can only draw near to the gods, but without ever actually succeeding in crossing that boundary. He may attempt the superhuman three times (τρίς), but no more. The fourth attempt (τὸ τέταρτον) appears to carry him to the very edge of divinity itself; on the fourth attempt, the hero becomes more like a god than a man—he becomes δαίμονι ἶσος ‘equal to a god’. [17] In his study of the “limits” of heroism, Mark Buchan perceptively analyzes the significance of counting (three-four-five) as marking the distance between mortals and immortals. He analyzes the passages in which Patroklos also rushes three times and then a fourth time against Apollo:
To try and fail to do something three times remains a normal, human pattern for failure; to make a fourth attempt is to move into a shady realm between god and man ... The [fourth] attack is therefore a fundamental challenge to the order that guarantees the separation of men from gods ... If Patroklos becomes equal to the god on the fourth attempt, he is clearly not yet a god; he temporarily takes a god’s place, but this is not yet permanent identity with a god. The narrative establishes an order through prohibition: no humans are allowed beyond three assaults, and if any should go as far as a fourth, they will be punished.
Buchan 2004:51 [18]
The punishment, as Apollo warns, is μῆνις ‘divine rage’, which, as Leonard Muellner (1996) has demonstrated, is conceived of as a response to social and/or cosmic disequilibrium in Homeric epic. For a mortal to contend with a god a fourth time poses a threat to the cosmic order which relies on the stable and defining difference between mortals and immortals.
Perhaps the distance between gods and men appears most clearly in those episodes when gods confront one another over the fate of mortals. For instance, Apollo acknowledges to Poseidon that the miserable brevity of mortal life is not worth troubling themselves over:
Ἐννοσίγαι’, οὐκ ἄν με σαόφρονα μυθήσαιο
ἔμμεναι, εἰ δὴ σοί γε βροτῶν ἕνεκα πτολεμίξω
δειλῶν, οἳ φύλλοισιν ἐοικότες ἄλλοτε μέν τε
ζαφλεγέες τελέθουσιν, ἀρούρης καρπὸν ἔδοντες,
ἄλλοτε δὲ φθινύθουσιν ἀκήριοι. ἀλλὰ τάχιστα
παυώμεσθα μάχης· οἳ δ’ αὐτοὶ δηριαάσθων.
Shaker of the earth, you would say I am one without prudence
if indeed I am to make war with you for the sake of wretched
mortals, who, like leaves, ever at one time
flourish and grow warm as they feed upon the fruit of plowed field,
and at another time wither, deprived of life. But rather with all speed
let us cease our battle; let them fight on their own.
Iliad XXI 462–467
Mortals flourish in one season only to wither and perish in another like the leaves of trees and the fruit of the field upon which they feed—the consumption of food which itself grows and rots guarantees man’s participation in the same temporal economy. [19] It is always the case—note the “epic” or “generalizing” τε at XXI 464 [20] —that at one time (ἄλλοτε μέν, XXI 464) he flourishes, and at another (ἄλλοτε δὲ, XXI 466), he dies (ἀκήριοι, XXI 466) [21] and withers away (φθινύθουσιν, XXI 466). [22]
Not even that most extraordinary of mortals, the hero, can escape the clutches of time. There is the possibility—though insecure and contested—that the very term ἥρως ‘hero’ may be etymologically related to the word ὥρη ‘season’. [23] If true, the implication, according to Dale Sinos, is that the hero is “one who is in time, or one who passes through successive stages of life exhibiting the ideal characteristics of each. He is ὡραῖος ‘seasonal’ in a vegetal sense, passing from immaturity to ripeness” (Sinos 1980:14). [24] In other words, since mortal temporality is inherently and inextricably bound with the concept of seasonality, even the hero is none other than he who participates in the vegetal cycle of growth and decay incumbent on human life. According to Seth Schein, “a ‘hero’ is ‘seasonal’ in that he comes into his prime, like flowers in the spring, only to be cut down once and for all” (Schein 1984:69). Whether a secure etymological connection can be drawn between ἥρως ‘hero’ and ὥρη ‘season’ or not, we find the concept of the hero intimately associated with the vegetable imagery throughout the Iliad, as in Homer’s comparison of the vast size of the Greek army to the number of leaves and flowers that grow ‘in season’ (ὥρῃ, II 468), [25] or Glaukos’ famous comparison of the generations of men to those of leaves that flourish ‘in season’ (ὥρῃ, VI 146–149), [26] recalled in Apollo’s conversation with Poseidon as he speaks of “mortals, who like leaves, ever at one time flourish and grow warm as they feed upon the fruit of plowed field, and at another time wither, deprived of life” (XXI 464–466). From the perspective of both the immortal gods and even mankind itself, human life is utterly ephemeral; man is “in season” because he cannot exist outside of time.
Nevertheless, although gods are consistently represented as “immortal and ageless” and as those who “always are” in early Greek poetry, Homer and Hesiod both posit a time when things may have not always been so. In his second creation story—the so-called “Myth of the Ages” (Works and Days 106–201)—Hesiod claims that men and gods have a common origin: ὡς ὁμόθεν γεγάασι θεοὶ θνητοί τ’ ἄνθρωποι, ‘so from the same place were born gods and mortal men’ (Works and Days 108). [27] The phrase ὁμόθεν + γίγνεσθαι ‘to be born from the same place’ is properly used in Greek epic to denote blood relationship: for instance, at Hymn to Aphrodite 135, Aphrodite, disguised as a mortal maiden, seduces Anchises by telling him to ‘[Show me] to your brothers who were born from the same place as you’ (σοῖς τε κασιγνήτοις, οἵ τοι ὁμόθεν γεγάασιν). Similarly, in Book IV of the Iliad, Hera explains to Zeus that they are born of the same race: ‘For I am also a god, and the race from which I come is that from which you come’ (καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ θεός εἰμι, γένος δέ μοι ἔνθεν ὅθεν σοι, IV 58). [28] The implication of Hesiod’s claim that men and gods are born ‘from the same place’ (ὁμόθεν), according to Martin West, is that “they started on the same terms” (West 1978:178). [29] Indeed, Hesiod describes these early men as “living like the gods”:
ὥστε θεοὶ δ’ ἔξωον, ἀκηδέα θυμὸν ἔχοντες,
νόσφιν ἄτερ τε πόνου καὶ ὀϊξύος· οὐδέ τι δειλόν
γῆρας ἐπῆν, αἰεὶ δὲ πόδας καὶ χεῖρας ὁμοῖοι
τέρποντ’ ἐν θαλίῃσι, κακῶν ἔκτοσθεν ἁπάντων.
They used to live like gods, with a care-free heart,
far away and apart from toil and misery. Nor at all was wretched
old age upon them, but always the same with respect to their feet and hands
they took pleasure in feasts, outside of all evils.
Works and Days 112–115
Here we find a race of men who, like the gods, appear to be ἀγηρώς ‘ageless’, for Hesiod specifies that ‘not at all was cruel old age upon them’ (οὐδέ τι δειλόν | γῆρας ἐπῆν, 113–114) and that their bodies never diminished with the passing of time: their bodies remain ‘always the same’ (αἰεὶ ... ὁμοῖοι, 114). Notice, in particular, the spatial dimensions of man’s privileged position ‘far away’ (νόσφιν, 113) and ‘apart’ (ἄτερ, 113) from toil and misery; old age is not ‘upon’ (οὐδέ τι ... ἐπῆν, 113–114) him, but he is ‘outside’ (ἔκτοσθεν, 115) of all evils. Hesiod’s men of the “golden age” inhabit a space literally “outside” of time and “far away” from its degenerative effects. The spatial concepts of separation—away, apart, outside—define the utopian status of this early race of men. Instead of living in a world in which pain, suffering, and even death are inescapable experiences, these men live elsewhere. Hence, we may compare also the utopian vision of mankind before Promethean sacrifice in Hesiod’s Works and Days:
πρὶν μὲν γὰρ ζώεσκον ἐπὶ χθονὶ φῦλ’ ἀνθρώπων
νόσφιν ἄτερ τε κακῶν καὶ ἄτερ χαλεποῖο πόνοιο
νούσων τ’ ἀργαλέων, αἵ τ’ ἀνδράσι κῆρας ἔδωκαν.
For before this, the races of men used to live on earth
far away and apart from evils and apart from hard toil
and painful diseases, which gave death to men.
Works and Days 90–92
We find the same vocabulary of distance (νόσφιν ἄτερ ... καὶ ἄτερ, 91) indicating man’s prior (πρίν, 90) and ongoing status (note especially the iterative imperfective ζώεσκον at verse 90, indicating continual and repeated action). They inhabit the same mythic space occupied by the gods, for, as the tradition explains, they are ἐγγὺς θεῶν γεγονότας ‘born near to the gods’ (Dicaearchus fr. 49.3 Wehrli, apud Porphyry De abstinentia 4.2). Their ‘nearness’ to the gods (ἐγγὺς θεῶν) implies a similarity both in terms of spatial position and ontological status.
An important fragment of Hesiod’s Catalogue of Women further defines the characteristic “closeness” between men and gods of old. For they were not always differentiated in terms of their diet and spatial dwelling; instead, they enjoyed commensal relations, sharing the same foods, as they also, apparently, shared the same sexual partners: [30]
Νῦν δὲ γυναικῶν φῦλον ἀείσατε, ἡδυέπειαι
Μοῦσαι Ὀλυμπιάδες, κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο,
αἳ πότ’ ἄρισται ἔσαν[
μίτρας τ’ ἀλλύσαντο [
μισγόμεναι θεοῖσ[ιν
ξυναὶ γὰρ τότε δαῖτες ἔσαν, ξυνοὶ δὲ θόωκοι
ἀθανάτοις τε θεοῖσι καταθνητοῖς τ’ ἀνθρώποις.
And now of the race of women sing, sweet-speaking
Olympian Muses, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus,
the women who were once the best [
and who loosened their waistbands [
as they had sexual intercourse with gods [
For at that time feasts were in common, and common were seats
for both the immortal gods and mortal men.
Hesiod fr. 1.1–7 M-W
At some unspecified point in the past, mankind shared common meals with the gods, and the gods took mortal women as sexual consorts. [31] Commensality implies equality, as is suggested by the ‘common seats’ (ξυνοὶ δὲ θόωκοι) for men and gods. [32] Homer uses the word θόωκος/θῶκος to mean both the physical seat upon which one sits (e.g. ἕξετο ἐν πατρὸς θώκῳ ‘he sat in his father’s chair’, Odyssey ii 14) as well as the seated assembly where men or gods speak publicly and make decisions (e.g. θεῶν δ’ ἐξίκετο θώκους ‘[Zeus] arrived at the seated assembly of the gods’, Iliad VIII 439; οὔτε ποθ’ ἡμετέρη ἀγορὴ γένετ’ οὔτε θόωκος ‘not yet has our meeting nor our seated assembly been held’, Odyssey ii 26). [33] The implication, then, is that men once shared even in divine council. The image of men and gods eating together further recalls those most pious races of men in Homeric epic: the Aethiopians, with whom the gods dine and participate in sacrificial feasts, [34] and the Phaeacians, who are close relatives of the gods and called ἀγχίθεοι ‘near to the gods’. [35] Alkinoos, king of the Phaeacians, explains to Odysseus,
αἰεὶ γὰρ τὸ πάρος γε θεοὶ φαίνονται ἐναργεῖς
ἡμῖν, εὖθ’ ἕρδωμεν ἀγακλειτὰς ἑκατόμβας,
δαίνυνταί τε παρ’ ἄμμι καθήμενοι ἔνθα περ ἡμεῖς.
εἰ δ’ ἄρα τις καὶ μοῦνος ἰὼν ξύμβληται ὁδίτης,
οὔ τι κατακρύπτουσιν, ἐπεί σφισιν ἐγγύθεν εἰμέν,
ὥς περ Κύκλωπές τε καὶ ἄγρια φῦλα Γιγάντων.
For always in the past at least the gods used to appear clearly
to us, whenever we conducted famous hecatombs,
and they would feast beside us, sitting down here in the very place where we do.
And indeed, even if some traveler while going alone meets up with them,
they do not at all conceal it, since we are near to them,
as indeed are both the Cyclopes and the wild tribes of Giants.
Odyssey vii 201–206
The Phaeacians enjoyed commensal relations with the gods in which equality between the parties is suggested by the equality of seating arrangements: the gods used to sit ‘here in the very place where we [sit]’ (ἔνθα περ ἡμεῖς, vii 203). The privilege of such close relations with the gods is an index of being ‘near’ (σφισιν ἐγγύθεν, vii 205) to them. [36]
In Hesiod’s Theogony, the pre-historical period in which men and gods ate together has ended, and now men and gods are separated (ἐκρίνοντο, 535). [37] Prometheus’ sacrifice marks a new relationship between men and gods, one marked first and foremost by distance. [38] As a consequence of the Promethean sacrifice, a chain of events is set in motion—the concealment of the meat and the theft of fire, the fabrication and acceptance of Pandora—which constrains mankind to toil, illness, old age, and death. Now men and gods inhabit different spaces, each of which is characterized by specific temporal qualities. Whereas gods continue to occupy that same space where, in the fleeting days before the onset of evils, man knew neither labor nor illness nor even old age, [39] men now dwell in a world defined by the ravages of time: labor, illness, old age, and death.
There is a kind of nostalgia, then, in the representation of the gods in early Greek poetry. What is important for our study here is the fact that stories of the god-like origins of man indicate that the difference between men and gods is conceived of more as a difference in degree rather than a difference in kind. That is to say, gods are essentially “men” who do not age, who do not eat corruptible food, and who do not die; they are like the pre-historical men who lived “apart” and “far away from” mortal temporality. Further, the stories of pre-historical “golden age” men who lived “like gods” function to create a model of transferability between the temporally disjunctive worlds of men and gods. For if mankind can somehow participate in divine temporality, if it can somehow be outside of the withering effects of mortal time, then by analogy, gods too must be able to become caught up in that mortal time. We now turn our attention to the temporally conditioned experiences the gods do undergo in Homer’s Iliad—namely, physical pain and suffering. [40]

2. Pathetic temporality: the physical pain of gods in the Iliad

ἀθάνατοι θνητοί, θνητοὶ ἀθάνατοι,
ζῶντες τὸν ἐκείνων θάνατον, τὸν δὲ ἐκείνων βίον τεθνεῶτες.
Immortals are mortal, mortals immortal,
one living the others’ death, and one dying the others’ life.
—Heraclitus B 62 D-K
Although no god is explicitly said to “die” in the Iliad, we do read that gods can feel physical pain. In a few extreme circumstances, they can even be wounded by human weapons and bleed. In Book V of the Iliad, Diomedes is granted the special ability to recognize the gods operating behind the scenes, [41] and he stabs Aphrodite in the hand with a spear thrust as she strives to rescue her son Aeneas from battle.
ἔνθ’ ἐπορεξάμενος μεγαθύμου Τυδέος υἱός
ἄκρην οὔτασε χεῖρα μετάλμενος ὀξέι δουρί
ἀβληχρήν· εἶθαρ δὲ δόρυ χροὸς ἀντετόρησεν
ἀμβροσίου διὰ πέπλου, ὅν οἱ χάριτες κάμον αὐταί,
πρυμνὸν ὕπερ θέναρος.
Then reaching out against [Aphrodite], the son of great-hearted Tydeus
wounded the top part of her delicate hand as he leapt after her with his sharp spear.
The spear tore straight through her flesh,
through her immortal robe, which the Graces themselves made for her,
above the hollow of her hand.
Iliad V 335–339
The goddess is not impervious to Diomedes’ spear; the language describing Diomedes’ attack against the goddess is entirely typical of the diction and syntax of human-vs.-human battle scenes. As Bernard Fenik has noted, “Aphrodite’s disastrous attempt to rescue her son is a battle scene, and is typical in the same way as encounters between mortals ... The wounding of Aphrodite, then, as unusual as it is, turns out to be constructed according to a typical pattern with an almost entirely typical set of details” (Fenik 1968:40–41). [42] The weapon pierces (note the *τορ- root in ἀντετόρησεν, V 337) [43] straight through (εἶθαρ, V 337) Aphrodite’s hand and ambrosial clothing (ἀμβροσίου διὰ πέπλου, V 338). The goddess cries out in pain (ἰάχουσα, V 343) and withdraws from the battle, taunted by Diomedes as she retreats.
More remarkable even than Diomedes’ audacity to attack a god, however, is the fact that he actually injures one. For when he stabs at Aphrodite, his spear penetrates through her robe—which, like Achilles’ armor is called ‘immortal’ (ἀμβροσίου διὰ πέπλου, V 338) [44] —and through her hand (εἶθαρ δὲ δόρυ χροὸς ἀντετόρησεν, V 337). Once she is cut, the goddess’ immortal “blood” begins to flow from the wound:
ῥέε δ’ ἄμβροτον αἷμα θεοῖο,
ἰχώρ, οἷός πέρ τε ῥέει μακάρεσσι θεοῖσιν.
οὐ γὰρ σῖτον ἔδουσ’, οὐ πίνουσ’ αἴθοπα οἶνον·
τούνεκ’ ἀναίμονές εἰσι καὶ ἀθάνατοι καλέονται.
And the immortal blood of the goddess was flowing,
ikhōr , the very sort that always flows for the blessed gods.
For they do not eat food, they do not drink gleaming wine;
for this reason they are without blood and are called “immortals.”
Iliad V 339–342
The goddess can be said to “bleed,” but only by analogy, for what flows from her wound is not blood, but ikhōr, a substance which functions for gods as blood does for humans. The text explains ikhōr as both blood and not blood, for the gods are ‘without blood’ (ἀναίμονες, V 342), and yet, ikhōr is the ‘immortal blood of a god, the sort that always flows for gods’ (ἄμβροτον αἷμα θεοῖο | ἰχώρ, οἷος πέρ τε ῥέει ... θεοῖσιν, V 339–340). The word ikhōr appears once more in the Iliad when Dione, Aphrodite’s mother in the Iliadic tradition, cleans off the blood from her daughter’s wound:
ἦ ῥά, καὶ ἀμφοτέρῃσιν ἀπ’ ἰχῶ χειρὸς ὀμόργνυ·
ἄλθετο χείρ, ὀδύναι δὲ κατηπιόωντο βαρεῖαι.
Thus she spoke, and with both hands wiped away the ikhōr from her hand;
the hand was healed, and the heavy pains were lightened.
Iliad V 416–417
Later in the same Book, Diomedes wounds the war god himself (V 855–859), and Ares also bleeds ἄμβροτον αἷμα ‘immortal blood’ (V 870), but it is not specifically called ikhōr in the text.
Ikhōr is a strange and problematic substance. The word’s etymology is unknown (Chantraine 1968–1980 and Frisk 1973–1979, s.v. ἰχώρ, Bolling 1945, Kleinlogel 1981), and in later usage (especially in the Hippocratic corpus) the term does not mean ‘the blood of gods’, but rather ‘the watery part’ or ‘serum’ of human and animal blood (Liddell, Scott, and Jones 1996, s.v. ἰχώρ II, Jouanna and Demont 1981, Kleinlogel 1981). It has been argued that the change in semantics is a “degradation” from the older Homeric usage (Leumann 1950:310), or conversely, that the Homeric use distorts the meaning of an old Ionian technical term (Jouanna and Demont 1981:197–199). [45] We will not concern ourselves with these issues, but rather focus on what the text does tell us, however—namely that ikhōr and ‘blood’ (αἷμα) are not the same thing. Gods are ἀναίμονές, literally ‘without αἷμα’. The adjective ἀναίμων ‘without αἷμα’ occurs only here in Homer with the sense of ‘without blood’; all other uses describe human conflicts as ‘without bloodshed’ (Iliad XVII 497–498, Odyssey xviii 149–150, xxiv 531–532). [46] The difference between gods ‘without αἷμα’ and men who do possess αἷμα is specifically posited upon the difference in their food and drink: because the gods do not eat food nor drink wine as humans do, they cannot have the same blood coursing through their veins. Instead, the divine food and drink of the gods—ambrosia and nektar—imply a different biology for gods and for men. [47] Ikhōr functions as blood for gods by “always flowing” for them; yet, it is not blood, for blood is, by definition, human blood, a substance made of the very food and liquors we mortals ingest. It is a bloodless blood, then; the text itself points to this interpretation by describing ikhōr as ἄμβροτον αἷμα (V 339), as if Homer himself were offering a play on words, inviting us to understand ἄμβροτον as derived at once from two different stems: ἀ + βροτός ‘im-mortal’ [48] and ἀ + βρότος ‘without blood/gore’. [49] It has often been suggested that the rare Homeric βρότος came to mean ‘blood’ precisely through the juxtaposition of ἄμβροτον αἷμα and the discussion of gods and men eating different foods (V 339–342). [50] If that is the case, then we may suggest a certain inference: if gods who are bloodless—that is to say, if they bleed “a αἷμα which is not blood” (ἀ + βρότον αἷμα)—nevertheless bleed ikhōr, blood’s functional equivalent, then perhaps a god whose veins course with “αἷμα that does not die” (ἀ + βροτόν αἷμα) can nonetheless die a death which, though not the same as human death, is its functional equivalent. In short, a god who bleeds something much like blood suggests a god who can die something much like death.
The immortal’s experience of this “something much like death” is nothing other than pain, for pain enmeshes its victim in mortal temporality. The physical experience of time measured by throbs and aches constitutes a rhythm of lived experience: a body in pain is a body in time, a body caught up not in objective “clock” time, but in an internal “durational” time of something that must be lived through. [51] After Diomedes wounds Aphrodite and taunts her, the goddess makes her way from the battlefield, burdened with her experience of mortal temporality:
ὣς ἔφαθ’· ἣ δ’ ἀλύουσ’ ἀπεβήσετο, τείρετο δ’ αἰνῶς.
τὴν μὲν ἄρ’ Ἶρις ἑλοῦσα ποδήνεμος ἔξαγ’ ὁμίλου
ἀχθομένην ὀδύνῃσι, μελαίνετο δὲ χρόα καλόν.
So he spoke. She took her leave and departed, and was terribly worn down.
Iris the wind-footed took her and led her out of the battle-throng
burdened with pains, and her beautiful skin was dark with blood.
Iliad V 352–354
The verb τείρω ‘to wear down, use up’ entails mortal temporality, for the very act of ‘wearing down’ occurs within time, and further, implies limited resources which diminish over time. The verb τείρω is used to describe how a person is ‘worn down’ by physical pain [52] (including pain from wounds), [53] emotional pain or anxiety [54] (or other strong feelings, like erōs ‘desire’), [55] or even physical exertion [56] and old age. [57] Aphrodite is here worn down such that her typical divine facility of movement is lost; instead of darting or flying off “like a shooting star” (IV 75–77), or “as swift as thought” (XV 80–83), or “as rapid as snow or hail” (XV 170–173) as Homeric goddesses typically move, [58] the goddess is ‘weighed down’ by her pains (ἀχθομένην ὀδύνῃσι, V 354). Her physical pains have literally made her body into a burden: the denominative verb ἄχθομαι is related to ἄχθος ‘burden, load’, a noun that regularly construes with the verb φέρω ‘to bear, endure’. [59] The contrast between the burdened Aphrodite is emphasized in contrast with Iris who grabs her and leads her from the fight, for Iris appears here with her epithet ποδήνεμος ‘wind-footed’: the unwounded Iris appears in her immortal glory, neither burdened nor worn out, but able to move “like the wind.”
Once pained, Aphrodite’s very status as an “immortal” is called into question. She apparently lacks the ability to return to Olympos by herself, for she supplicates her brother Ares to loan her his chariot:
φίλε κασίγνητε, κόμισαί τέ με δὸς δέ μοι ἵππους,
ὄφρ’ ἐς Ὄλυμπον ἵκωμαι, ἵν’ ἀθανάτων ἕδος ἐστίν.
λίην ἄχθομαι ἕλκος, ὅ με βροτὸς οὔτασεν ἀνήρ,
Τυδεΐδης, ὃς νῦν γε καὶ ἂν Διὶ πατρὶ μάχοιτο.
Dear brother, save me and grant me your horses,
so that I may return to Olympos, where the seat of the immortals is.
I am weighed down too much by my wound, which a mortal man stabbed,
Tydeus’ son, who now, at any rate, would even fight with father Zeus.
Iliad V 359–362
The ὄφρα clause with subjunctive verb ἵκωμαι indicates that the use of Ares’ horses is the condition upon which Aphrodite may return to Olympos. Without his horses, she could not return, for, as she explains, she is ‘weighed down too much’ (λίην ἄχθομαι, V 361) by her wound. The adverbial λίην ‘too much’ emphasizes the unexpressed statement, powerful in its absence, that without Ares’ assistance Aphrodite’s body has become “too much” of a burden to return to Olympos at all. Instead of returning to the place defined here as “where the seat of the immortals is,” Aphrodite would be trapped on the earth, the realm of “mortal” mankind. The implication of ‘weight’ expressed in Aphrodite’s ἄχθομαι ‘I am weighed down’ (V 361, cf. ἀχθομένην, V 354) maps out the distinction between gods, who dwell high above on Olympos, and men who dwell below; weight is the property of mortality; it is the experience of what it means to experience “lived in,” bodily time (Fuchs 2001b, 2003, 2005a, Wyllie 2005a, 2005b). Aphrodite’s wound (ἕλκος, V 361), then, makes her mortal; she lives in mortal time, the time experienced by a body in pain.
Nevertheless, Aphrodite, though she experiences mortal time, does not remain “mortal.” Ares gives her his chariot team, and Iris drives the goddess back to Olympos where her mother Dione comforts the wounded Aphrodite and wipes the ikhōr from her hand. As a rhetorical consolatio, Dione explains that Aphrodite is not the only god to have been injured by mortals (Willcock 1964). She relates a series of stories about other gods who have suffered at the hands of mortals, and like Aphrodite, those gods also experienced mortal time through their pains.
τέτλαθι, τέκνον ἐμόν, καὶ ἀνάσχεο κηδομένη περ.
πολλοὶ γὰρ δὴ τλῆμεν Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἔχοντες
ἐξ ἀνδρῶν χαλέπ’ ἄλγε’ ἐπ’ ἀλλήλοισι τιθέντες.
Endure, my child, and bear it, although you are troubled.
For many [of us gods] who have Olympian homes have endured
terrible pains at the hands of men, when gods set them against one another.
Iliad V 382–384
Dione’s stories begin with an admonition that Aphrodite endure (τέτλαθι) and hold up (ἀνάσχεο) under her suffering (κηδομένη περ, V 382). The verb *τλάω ‘endure, suffer’ plus an object—implied or otherwise—denoting suffering (here κηδομένη, V 382; cf. the cognate κῆδος ‘care, distress’) marks the connection between Aphrodite’s current pain and the various stories Dione relates. As she explains, many gods have endured pains (τλῆμεν ... ἄλγε’, V 383–384) at the hands of mortals. First, she tells of how Ares endured pains (τλῆ μὲν Ἄρης, V 385) when Otus and Ephialtes locked him in a bronze jar for thirteen months (V 385–391)—we will return to this scene below. Then, Dione tells how Hera and Hades suffered when Herakles shot them with arrows:
τλῆ δ’ Ἥρα, ὅτε μιν κρατερὸς πάις Ἀμφιτρύωνος
δεξιτερὸν κατὰ μαζὸν ὀιστῷ τριγλώχινι
βεβλήκει· τότε καί μιν ἀνήκεστον λάβεν ἄλγος.
τλῆ δ’ Ἀΐδης ἐν τοῖσι πελώριος ὠκὺν ὀϊστόν,
εὖτέ μιν ωὑτὸς ἀνήρ, υἱὸς Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο,
ἐν Πύλῳ ἐν νεκύεσσι βαλὼν ὀδύνῃσιν ἔδωκεν·
αὐτὰρ ὃ βῆ πρὸς δῶμα Διὸς καὶ μακρὸν Ὄλυμπον
κῆρ ἀχέων, ὀδύνῃσι πεπαρμένος, αὐτὰρ ὀϊστός
ὤμῳ ἔνι στιβαρῷ ἠλήλατο, κῆδε δὲ θυμόν.
And Hera endured it, when the mighty son of Amphitryon
struck her in her right breast with a triple-barbed arrow.
Even then an incurable pain seized her.
And Hades the huge endured a flying-arrow among them,
when the same man, the son of aegis-bearing Zeus,
gave him over to pains when he shot him among the dead in Pylos.
But he went to the houses of Zeus and to tall Olympos
grieved at heart because he had been driven through with pains. For an arrow
had been driven within his powerful shoulder, and he was suffering at heart.
Iliad V 392–400
Hera and Hades, among unknown others (note ἐν τοῖσι ‘among them’, V 395) suffered on one or more than one occasion when they were shot by Herakles. [60] The text does not provide any further details about the event(s), although we find various references elsewhere to a tradition in which Herakles made war against Nestor’s father, Neleus, and the Pylians because they supported Orchomenus or Elis against Herakles’ hometown of Thebes (Scholia T at Iliad XI 690, Pausanias 5.3.1), or because Neleus refused to purify Herakles of the murder of Iphitus (ps.-Apollodorus 2.6.2), or because of a dispute over cattle (Scholia bT at Iliad XI 690, Isocrates Archidamus 19, and see Hainsworth 1993:300). Elsewhere in the Iliad Nestor refers to an incident when Herakles once killed all of Neleus’ sons—save Nestor himself—at Pylos (Iliad XI 690–693; cf. Hesiod fr. 35.6–9 M-W, Pausanias 3.26.8). It is possible that this battle was where Herakles wounded Hera and Hades (Scholia bT at Iliad V 392–394, and see Fontenrose 1974:327–330). Pindar’s Olympian 9 speaks of Herakles fighting Poseidon, Apollo, and Hades—apparently on a single occasion: [61]

δὲ καὶ σοφοὶ κατὰ δαίμον’ ἄνδρες 
ἐγένοντ’· ἐπεὶ ἀντίον
πῶς ἂν τριόδοντος Ἡ-
       ρακλέης σκύταλον τίναξε χερσίν,
ἁνίκ’ἀμφὶ Πύλον σταθεὶς ἤρειδε Ποσειδάν,
ἤρειδεν δέ νιν ἀργυρ<έῳ> τόξῳ πολεμίζων
Φοῖβος, οὐδ’ Ἀΐδας ἀκινήταν ἔχε ῥάβδον,
βρότεα σώμαθ’ ᾇ κατάγει κοίλαν πρὸς ἄγυιαν
But men become brave and wise as divinity determines: for how else could Heracles have brandished his club in his hands against the trident when Poseidon stood before Pylos and pressed him hard and Phoibos pressed him while battling with his silver bow, nor did Hades keep still his staff, with which he leads down to his hollow abode the mortal bodies of those who die?
Pindar Olympian 9.28–35 (ed. and trans. Race 1997)
Pindar’s narrative is in many ways strikingly similar to Dione’s account: we are given a list of gods wounded by Herakles; Hades is mentioned last and is given greater treatment than the preceding gods; and the stylistic repetition of ἤρειδε ... ἤρειδε δ’ is reminiscent of Homer’s τλῆ μέν ... τλῆ δ’ ... τλῆ δ’ ... at Iliad V 392–400. [62] Panyassis’ fifth-century epic about Herakles also seems to have included an account of a conflict ‘in sandy Pylos’ (ἐν Πύλῳ ἠμαθόεντι, fr. 24 Davies) where—according to Arnobius—Herakles wounded Hera and Hades (fr. 25 Davies). [63] The location of a conflict between Herakles and Hera (or Apollo), Hades, and Poseidon at Messenian Pylos is explained by saying that Poseidon and his allies came to assist Neleus, but Herakles was aided by Zeus and Athena. [64]
The precise details of this myth are complex and contradictory, but surely point to a traditional account in Herakles’ mythological biography. [65] For our purposes, the precise episode need not concern us here; what is important for our discussion is the description of gods suffering pain when shot by Herakles’ arrows. When Hera is wounded (ὅτε μιν ... βεβλήκει ‘when [he] struck her’, V 392–394), ‘even then an incurable pain seized her’ (τότε καί μιν ἀνήκεστον λάβεν ἄλγος, V 394). [66] The only other use of the adjective ἀνήκεστος ‘incurable’ in Homer is Iliad XV 217 where Poseidon claims that if Zeus should decide to save Troy and rob the Achaeans of the glory of sacking the city, Poseidon’s anger at him will be without cure: ‘there will be an incurable anger for us two’ (νῶϊν ἀνήκεστος χόλος ἔσται, XV 217). The adjective ἀνήκεστος (cf. νήκεστος at Hesiod Works and Days 283) is the negative compound verbal adjective (ἀ- ‘not’) in *-το- built on stem *ηκεσ- (< ἀκέομαι ‘to cure’, itself a denominative formation from the noun ἄκος ‘cure’), [67] and can indicate either complete action (‘uncured, not yet cured’) or possibility (‘incurable’). In these passages, ‘uncured’ captures the literal meaning whereas ‘incurable’ captures affective meaning: ‘incurable’ indicates that the pain is particularly intense. Poetic exaggeration emphasizes the temporal aspect of the pain itself.
Although age-less (ἀ-γήρως) and im-mortal (ἀ-θάνατος), Hera comes to experience human time through the physical pain of her wound, for she must endure (τλῆ) incurable (ἀν-ήκεστον) pain when she is shot by Herakles (V 392–394). The experience of physical pain ensnares Hera in mortal time. Hesiod characterizes the divine realm as one without pain when he describes the apotheosis of Herakles upon the completion of his labors: ναίει ἀπήμαντος καὶ ἀγήραος ἤματα πάντα, ‘he dwells without pain and unaging throughout all days’ (Hesiod Theogony 955). [68] If divine temporality is to be characterized by lack of toil, pain, and physical degeneration and disintegration, [69] then when Hera comes to suffer physical pain, she must be experiencing mortal time. [70] The experience of this mortal time, of the body in pain, is one of pure duration: the verb *τλάω ‘endure, suffer’ marks the mortal experiences of the gods. Indeed, it is significant that the semantics of the *τλάω family includes both ‘enduring’ (cf. ἔτλη ‘he endured’, πολύτλας ‘much enduring’) as well as a technical term for a unit of weight (τάλαντον): [71] as we saw in the case of Aphrodite, enduring pain entails being ‘weighed down’.
Like Hera, Hades also comes to experience mortal time as he ‘endures’ (τλῆ δ’ Ἀΐδης, V 395) pains when injured by Herakles. Herakles ‘gave him over to pains when he shot him’ (βαλὼν ὀδύνῃσιν ἔδωκεν, V 397). He was ‘grieving at heart’ (κῆρ ἀχέων, V 399), ‘pierced through with pains’ (ὀδύνῃσι πεπαρμένος, V 399), and ‘suffering in spirit’ (κῆδε δὲ θυμόν, V 400). Nevertheless, unlike Hera’s “incurable” pains, Hades’ pains do find a cure, for he makes his way to Olympos where he, like Aphrodite, is freed from the pains inflicted by a mortal. There Paieon, the divine healer, “cures” Hades of his pains:
τῷ δ’ ἐπὶ Παιήων ὀδυνήφατα φάρμακα πάσσων
ἠκέσατ’· οὐ μὲν γάρ τι καταθνητός γ’ ἐτέτυκτο.
But Paieon by sprinkling pain-killing drugs upon him
cured him. For he was in no way made to be mortal.
Iliad V 401–402
Paieon (only here at Iliad IV 401, V 899, and Odyssey iv 232) is the doctor of the gods; here, he “cures” Hades. The verb ἠκέσατε, the aorist indicative of ἀκέεσθαι ‘to cure’, is from the same root (ἄκος ‘cure’) as the adjective ἀν-ήκεσ-τος ‘without a cure’ which described Hera’s ‘not yet cured’ pains. [72] Like Hera, Hades becomes enmeshed in mortal time through suffering physical pains—note that they both ‘endure’ pains (τλῆ: Ares, V 385; Hera, V 392; Hades, V 395; cf. τέτλαθι, V 382 and τλῆμεν, V 383); yet, unlike Hera, Hades is rescued from human temporality through the removal of his pains. Note, however, that Hades’ cure comes at considerable cost—it requires two unprecedented actions: Hades must leave the underworld and ascend to Olympos, [73] and he must be plied with magical ‘pain-killing drugs’ (ὀδυνήφατα φάρμακα, V 401) of divine origin. [74]
At Iliad V 901 Paieon heals Ares as he did Hades before, ‘for he was not at all made to be mortal’ (οὐ μὲν γάρ τι καταθνητός γε τέτυκτο, V 901 = V 402). This “typically emphatic generalization,” as Kirk (1985:103) terms it, serves to reassert the divine nature of gods at the very moment when they are wounded, bleeding, and in pain. That is to say, Homer seems to reassure his audience of the gods’ immortality at those very moments when they appear most mortal. And yet, as Nicole Loraux (1986) has elegantly argued, the very act of reasserting the immortality of the gods serves rather to emphasize the fact that their wounds would otherwise be mortal (469). That is, at the very moment that the text affirms Hades and Ares as immortal, it raises the specter of their virtual deaths (Loraux 1986:649n3).

3. Punitive temporality: succession, repression, incarceration

The images of carnal gods who are wounded, bleed, feel pain, and narrowly avoid death, are not confined to Book V of the Iliad, nor only to circumstances in which a hero at the height of his aristeia becomes more god than man—δαίμονι ἶσος ‘equal to a god’—and injures a god with weapons. Indeed, divinities frequently threaten or carry out violence against one another, invoking the theme of theomakhia ‘battle of the gods’. They “endure” pain at the hands of other gods.
One context in which we find theomakhia ‘battle of the gods’ involves the cosmic instability when one order is displaced by another. Such are the narratives of the succession of rule as Kronos overthrows Ouranos and Zeus overthrows Kronos, for during Zeus’ campaign against his father and the older gods, the Titans, violence is carried out on a grand scale—the victorious Olympian gods seize control of the cosmos, whereas the vanquished Titans are bound and incarcerated in Tartaros. Although the Iliad locates itself in a period after Zeus and the Olympians have come into power, Zeus’ power is not stable. The Iliad often insinuates violence between gods within the context of rebellion in which dire consequences await those who are vanquished: the possibility of death for the rebellious gods takes the form of being “hurled” out of Olympos by Zeus and bound within Tartaros. [75] In this section, we examine four passages from the Iliad in which Zeus hurls enemies to earth, or threatens to do so. In each instance (Hephaistos, Atē, Hupnos, and Hera), I will argue, Homer introduces the possibility of the rebellious god’s “death.”

3.1 Oedipal criminals: Hephaistos, Typhoeus, Apollo

A prime example of a god injured while in conflict with Zeus appears in Book I of the Iliad as Hephaistos begs his mother to cede to Zeus’ will. He apologizes that he cannot do more to help her, but claims that he is powerless against Zeus. He recalls a time when once before he tried to stand up against Zeus and rescue Hera from his clutches, only to be thrown from Olympos to crash painfully on the earth far below:
ἤδη γάρ με καὶ ἄλλοτ’ ἀλεξέμεναι μεμαῶτα
ῥῖψε ποδὸς τεταγὼν ἀπὸ βηλοῦ θεσπεσίοιο·
πᾶν δ’ ἦμαρ φερόμην, ἅμα δ’ ἠελίῳ καταδύντι
κάππεσον ἐν Λήμνῳ, ὀλίγος δ’ ἔτι θυμὸς ἐνῆεν.
For even at another time once before when I was eager to help you,
[Zeus] grabbed hold of my foot and hurled me from the threshold of heaven;
for an entire day I was carried along, and at the same time as the sun was setting
I fell down in Lemnos, and there was not much life left in me.
Iliad I 590–593
Hephaistos’ fall nearly kills him—he had little life or breath (ὀλίγος ... θυμός, I 593) left in him afterward. [76] As Robert Garland (1981) has demonstrated in his study of descriptions of death in the Iliad, the loss of θυμός is the most frequently cited cause of biological death in Homeric narrative—that is to say, the most common way to express a character’s death in the Iliad is to describe the loss of his or her θυμός. [77] Although the god survives the fall, his recovery is not perfect—it leaves its permanent trace in the god’s legs. [78] After the fall he is regularly called ἀμφιγυήεις ‘with crooked limbs on both sides’ (Iliad I 607, XIV 239, XVIII 383, 393, 462, 587, 590, 614; Odyssey viii 300, 349, 357), an epithet which appears to be related to the verb γυιώσω which is used at Iliad VIII 402 and 416 to mean ‘make lame’. [79] In the eighteenth and twentieth Books of the Iliad he is given the epithet κυλλοποδίων ‘little twisted-foot’ (XVIII 371, XX 270); once in Book XXI he is addressed by the same epithet in the vocative case as Hera rouses him to action (ὄρσεο, κυλλοπόδιον, ἐμὸν τέκος ‘get up, little club-foot, my child’ XXI 331). [80] Further, at Iliad XVIII 397 the god describes himself as χωλός ‘lame’. [81] Hephaistos’ injury is his identifying mark: his twisted feet or legs are often represented on vase paintings depicting the “Return of Hephaistos” story, beginning with the representation of the scene on the François Vase which shows a mounted Hephaistos with his right foot twisted to face the opposite direction. [82] Alex Purves has noted of Hephaistos’ injury,
As an after-effect of falling, Hephaestus displays his strained relationship to time through his body. The dragging of his foot lingers on as a physical trace of his encounter with human temporality. Through his limp, the god will always carry with him the sign of a specific event that took place in the past.
Purves 2006a:200
The god’s feet are enduring reminders of the pain he experienced at the hands of Zeus. [83] His fall, although not fatal, has marked him for life; he is now the object of laughter among the gods because of his injury: at Iliad I 600 the gods laugh as they watch Hephaistos bustle about, pouring wine for the others, [84] and Scholia bT at Iliad I 584b1 (Erbse) interprets Hephaistos’ movement here as ridiculous because of his lame leg (γέλωτα κινεῖ τὸ ἀναΐξας ἐπὶ τοῦ χωλοῦ τιθέμενον), yet pairs the laughter with the remembrance of the fall he suffered at Zeus’ hands (καὶ μεμνημένος, πῶς ὁ Ζεὺς τοῦ ποδὸς λαβόμενος ἔρριψεν αὐτὸν οὐρανόθεν).
Hephaistos’ fall and injury at Zeus’ hands is not a singular event. Rather, it is part of a traditional “succession motif” narrative pattern in which a challenger struggles against the reigning king of the gods. If successful, the challenger becomes the new king; if unsuccessful, he is cast to the ground and banished forever. In this way Zeus, as he rises to power, wages war against the rulers of the former generation—the Titans—and defeats them. [85] Zeus ‘drove the Titans away from heaven’ (Τιτῆνας ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ ἐξέλασεν Ζεύς, Hesiod Theogony 820); then he and his allies bound the Titans and sent them beneath the earth forever to be imprisoned in Tartaros: [86]
καὶ τοὺς μὲν ὑπὸ χθονὸς εὐρυοδείης
πέμψαν καὶ δεσμοῖσιν ἐν ἀργαλέοισιν ἔδησαν,
νικήσαντες χερσὶν ὑπερθύμους περ ἐόντας.
And they sent them [sc. the Titans] beneath the wide-wayed earth
and bound them up in grievous bonds,
after they defeated them with their hands, although [the Titans] were excessively spirited.
Theogony 717–719
After defeating, binding, and imprisoning the Titans, Zeus must face one more challenger, Typhoeus (called Typhaon in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo). After a great struggle, [87] Zeus eventually defeats his foe with repeated blows and casts him down to earth:
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δή μιν δάμασε πληγῇσιν ἱμάσσας,
ἤριπε γυιωθείς, στονάχιζε δὲ γαῖα πελώρη.
But indeed when [Zeus] conquered him by lashing him with strokes,
[Typhoeus] fell down and was crippled, and huge earth groaned.
Theogony 857–858
Note the similarities between Typhoeus’ defeat here and our earlier discussion of Hephaistos’ fall from heaven. In both cases the gods endure a ‘fall’ at the hands of Zeus (Hephaistos: κάππεσον; Typhoeus: ἤριπε), [88] and both are ‘crippled’ from the impact of the blow (Hephaistos: ἀμφιγυήεις; Typhoeus: γυιωθείς).
The similarities between Typhoeus/Typhaon and Hephaistos are more than coincidental. The birth of Hephaistos as related both in Hesiod’s Theogony (924–929) and the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (305–358) is represented as a response to Zeus’ delivery of Athena from his head. Hera is angered that Zeus produced a child without her, and in retaliation, gives birth to Hephaistos herself ‘without mixing in love’ (οὐ φιλότητι μιγεῖσα, Theogony 927) with any god. [89] According to the Hymn to Apollo, however, Hephaistos turns out to be a disappointment:
αὐτὰρ ὅ γ’ ἠπεδανὸς γέγονεν μετὰ πᾶσι θεοῖσι
παῖς ἐμὸς Ἥφαιστος ῥικνὸς πόδας ὃν τέκον αὐτὴ
ῥίψ’ ἀνὰ χερσὶν ἑλοῦσα καὶ ἔμβαλον εὐρέϊ πόντῳ.
But he, at any rate, was born a weakling among all the gods,
my son Hephaistos, shriveled up in his feet, whom I bore by myself—
I quickly caught him up in my hands and threw him into the wide sea.
Hymn to Apollo 315–317
In the multiform preserved in the Hymn to Apollo, Hephaistos’ lameness is not due to the effects of being thrown from heaven, but rather to a natural defect, perhaps because of Hera’s attempt at parthenogenetic birth. [90] The two traditions regarding Hephaistos’ birth are doublets meant to describe the god’s lameness; [91] in one version, Hephaistos is born lame, and in the other, he is made lame through conflict with Zeus, father of gods and men. It is my contention that the second possibility is latent even in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo through the close association between the births of Hephaistos and Typhoeus/Typhaon, the final challenger to Zeus’ throne. [92] As soon as Hera expresses her disappointment with Hephaistos, she delivers a second child, Typhoeus/Typhaon, to challenge Zeus’ authority: [93]
κέκλυτε νῦν μοι Γαῖα καὶ Οὐρανὸς εὐρὺς ὕπερθεν,
Τιτῆνές τε θεοὶ τοὶ ὑπὸ χθονὶ ναιετάοντες
Τάρταρον ἀμφὶ μέγαν, τῶν ἐξ ἄνδρες τε θεοί τε·
αὐτοὶ νῦν μευ πάντες ἀκούσατε καὶ δότε παῖδα
νόσφι Διός, μηδέν τι βίην ἐπιδευέα κείνου·
ἀλλ’ ὅ γε φέρτερος ἔστω ὅσον Κρόνου εὐρύοπα Ζεύς.
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ μῆνές τε καὶ ἡμέραι ἐξετελεῦντο
ἂψ περιτελλομένου ἔτεος καὶ ἐπήλυθον ὧραι,
ἡ δ’ ἔτεκ’ οὔτε θεοῖς ἐναλίγκιον οὔτε βροτοῖσι
δεινόν τ’ ἀργαλέον τε Τυφάονα πῆμα βροτοῖσιν.
Listen to me now, Earth and wide Heaven above,
and you Titans who are gods dwelling beneath the earth
around great Tartaros, from whom come both men and gods:
You yourselves now, all of you, listen to me and grant me a son
apart from Zeus, one falling short of him not at all in strength,
but let him be stronger by as much as far-seeing Zeus was stronger than Kronos.
But indeed when the months and days were completed
as the year rolled round again and the seasons were filled,
she gave birth to one similar neither to the gods nor to mortals
but one terrible and grievous, Typhaon, a pain for mortals.
Hymn to Apollo 334–339, 349–352
Hera prays to deliver a child who will be stronger than Zeus by as much as Zeus was stronger than his father Kronos. The succession motif is overt, especially in the context of Hera’s prayer to the Titans who dwell in Tartaros, the prison-house for gods who dare to challenge Zeus’ authority. Richard Caldwell has persuasively argued,
Although the Theogony does not mention Hera’s ill-treatment of Hephaestus, and Homer in Iliad 18 does not mention a quarrel between Zeus and Hera, the two accounts along with the Hymn to Apollo seem unmistakably to represent a tradition in which Hera gave birth to Hephaestus in order to avenge herself against Zeus and in which Typhoeus and Hephaestus play similar roles.
Caldwell 1987:117
In sum, then, Hephaistos appears to have been a rival to Zeus’ throne in one mythical tradition; he was unsuccessful and was cast down to earth like Typhoeus after him. [94] Neither can be said to perish outright from their ordeals, but both are maimed and permanently reduced; although not dead, they are not quite what they once were.
A second provocative example of an “Oedipal” challenger to Zeus’ authority who is nearly “killed” is Apollo. A poorly preserved fragment of Hesiod (fr. 54a M-W), partly reconstructed by Edgar Lobel, the fragment’s original editor, relates a narrative in which Apollo, angered by the death of his son Asclepius at Zeus’ hands, kills the Cyclopes who manufacture lightning bolts for Zeus. The account, barely legible in Hesiod, is preserved in part by Pindar (Pythian 3.54–58) [95] and Euripides (Alcestis 3–6), [96] and more fully in the later account by ps.-Apollodorus: [97]
Ζεὺς δὲ φοβηθεὶς μὴ λαβόντες ἄνθρωποι θεραπείαν παρ’ αὐτοῦ βοηθῶσιν ἀλλήλοις, ἐκεραύνωσεν αὐτόν. καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ὀργισθεὶς Ἀπόλλων κτείνει Κύκλωπας τοὺς τὸν κεραυνὸν Διὶ κατασκευάσαντας. Ζεὺς δὲ ἐμέλλησε ῥίπτειν αὐτὸν εἰς Τάρταρον, δεηθείσης δὲ Λητοῦς ἐκέλευσεν αὐτὸν ἐνιαυτὸν ἀνδρὶ θητεῦσαι. ὁ δὲ παραγενόμενος εἰς Φερὰς πρὸς Ἄδμητον τὸν Φέρητος τούτῳ λατρεύων ἐποίμαινε, καὶ τὰς θηλείας βόας πάσας διδυμοτόκους ἐποίησεν.
But Zeus, since he was afraid that once men acquired the healing art from him [sc. Asclepius] they would come to the rescue of one another, he struck him with a lightning bolt. Because of this, Apollo became enraged and killed the Cyclopes who fashioned lightning for Zeus. Now Zeus was about to hurl him into Tartaros, but by Leto’s pleading, he ordered him to be a servant to a man for a year. So he went to Admetus, son of Pheres, at Pherae, and served him as a herdsman, and caused the cows—all of them—to have twins.
Library 3.10.4
Ps.-Apollodorus’ account suggests that Zeus perceives Asclepius as a threat to the cosmic balance for, by means of his healing arts, men can avoid death. [98] At any rate, Zeus kills him with a lightning bolt, the same weapon by which he vanquishes Typhoeus and the Titans before him. [99] Apollo’s response aims to deprive Zeus of his greatest weapon and symbol of his authority over heaven. After all, Zeus remains in control largely because of his superior strength, as he himself explains at Iliad VIII 19–27.
According to Hesiod, Zeus is so angered by this threat to his authority and the destruction of the source of his power that,
ἔνθά κεν Ἀ[πόλλωνα κατέκτανε μητίετα Ζεύς
then Zeus the counselor would have killed Apollo.
Hesiod fr. 54a.11 M-W
Although the verb κατέκτανε ‘(he would have) killed’ is a reconstructed reading, the sense is likely not far off, especially when we consider that Zeus’ anger is specified in terms of his desire to cast Apollo into Tartaros (as preserved in the fragment):

οὗ π[ατρός
τόν ῥα [χ]ολω[σ]άμ̣[ενος                                             ]ν̣α
ῥίψειν ἤμελ[λεν                                          ἀπ’ Ὀλύμ]π̣ου
Τ]ά̣ρταρον ἔς, [γῆς νέρθε καὶ ἀτρυγέτοιο θα]λ̣άσσ[ης
σκ]λ̣ηρ[ὸν]δ’ ἐβ[ρόντησε καὶ ὄβριμον ἀμφὶ δὲ γ]α̣ῖα 
πάντες̣ δ̣[’ἔδδεισαν
ἔνθά κεν̣ Ἀ̣[πόλλωνα κατέκτανε μητίετα Ζεύς
εἰ μὴ ἄρ’ [
Of his [father
Zeus [
full of anger at him 
was about to cast him [            away from Olym]pus
into Tartaros, [beneath the earth and the barren s]ea
hard he th[undered and mightily, and on both sides the e]arth
was moved [
and all [grew afraid
the immort[als
and then he would have [killed Apollo, Zeus the counselor,
if not indeed [ 

Hesiod fr. 54a + 57 M-W = P. Oxy 2495 fr. 1a + fr. 16 col. 1 [100]
In spite of the damage to the papyrus, and even disregarding the supplementary readings provided by Edgar Lobel, Martin West, and Glenn Most, certain details do appear clearly, namely that Zeus was about to cast his opponent (τόν ... ῥίψειν ἤμελ[λεν, 4–5) into Tartaros (Τ]ά̣ρταρον ἔς, 6) out of anger ([χ]ολω[σ]άμ̣[ενος, 4) over Brontes (2), one of the Cyclopes who fashions lightning for Zeus in Hesiod’s Theogony. As we have seen, Zeus casts seditious divinities into Tartaros; that he is about to do so here emphasizes his desire to be rid of Apollo once and for all, to imprison him beneath the earth where he will remain, for all intents and purposes, dead. [101]

3.2 Coup d’état as coup de theatre: Hera, Hupnos, and Atē

Hephaistos is not the only god to be thrown from heaven. [102] Indeed, we are told that Zeus hurled Atē, the goddess of delusion, to earth (XIX 130), attempted to do the same to Hupnos, the god of sleep (XIV 258), and left Hera dangling from heaven, weighed down with anvils on both feet (XV 18–20). In all of these instances, I believe, we can see traces of the same succession motif in which Zeus casts challengers to earth; the challengers are in danger of suffering a “virtual death,” for once thrown from heaven into murky Tartaros, they will never return. The three stories form a constellation of events that occurred in a pre-Iliadic tradition, when once before Hera challenged Zeus and attempted to assert her own power and authority over his, for she sought to prevent his son Herakles—a mortal child born out of wedlock to Alcmene, an Achaean woman from Argos—from becoming a powerful Greek king. [103] What ties these stories together, beside Zeus’ violent response that leads to hurling gods from the heavens, is the common theme they share of deceit and political unrest as the stable rule of Zeus threatened by Hera’s machinations.
In the nineteenth Book of the Iliad, Agamemnon and Achilles are reconciled. The king of the Achaeans offers a formal apology to Achilles for depriving him of his war-prize, the captive Briseïs. By way of explaining his previous error in judgment, Agamemnon relates a tale that offers the aition of how delusion and erroneous judgment came to be among men (XIX 95–133). [104] It is because Zeus, Agamemnon explains, the father and king of the gods, was himself a victim of delusion when he was deceived by Hera into swearing a binding oath that the child born on a certain day would become lord over many:
ψεύστης εἶς, οὐδ’ αὖτε τέλος μύθῳ ἐπιθήσεις.
εἰ δ’ ἄγε νῦν μοι ὄμοσσον, Ὀλύμπιε, καρτερὸν ὅρκον,
ἦ μὲν τὸν πάντεσσι περικτιόνεσσιν ἀνάξειν,
ὅς κεν ἐπ’ ἤματι τῷδε πέσῃ μετὰ ποσσὶ γυναικός
τῶν ἀνδρῶν, οἳ σῆς ἐξ αἵματός εἰσι γενέθλης.
ὣς ἔφατο· Ζεὺς δ’ οὔ τι δολοφροσύνην ἐνόησεν,
ἀλλ’ ὄμοσεν μέγαν ὅρκον, ἔπειτα δὲ πολλὸν ἀάσθη.
[Hera:] “You’re a liar, then, if you don’t set completion upon your claim.
Come on, now, swear to me, Olympian, a powerful oath,
that this man will be lord over all those who dwell around him,
whoever on this very day falls between the feet of a woman,
born of men who are from your blood.”
So she spoke. And Zeus did not at all notice her deceptive intention,
but he swore a great oath, and that’s when he was greatly deluded.
Iliad XIX 107–113
Zeus’ great delusion (πολλὸν ἀάσθη, XIX 113) is to swear an unbreakable oath that the child born on this day will become king over many, for Hera turns the oath against him. She manipulates the temporal process of the human birth cycle by slowing the childbirth of Alcmene, while simultaneously expediting that of another woman: [105]
ἣ δ’ ἐκύει φίλον υἱόν, ὃ δ’ ἕβδομος ἑστήκει μείς.
ἐκ δ’ ἄγαγε πρὸ φόωσδε καὶ ἠλιτόμηνον ἐόντα,
Ἀλκμήνης δ’ ἀπέπαυσε τόκον, σχέθε δ’ Εἰλειθυίας.
[The wife of Sthenelus] was pregnant with a dear son, and this was her seventh month.
She lead him forth into the light sooner, although he was premature,
but stopped Alcmene’s delivery and held back the Goddess of Birth-Pangs.
Iliad XIX 117–119
Hera speeds up the birth of one child so that he is born ahead of schedule (πρὸ, XIX 118) and untimely (ἠλιτόμηνον, XIX 118); but she slows down the birth of Herakles through preventing his delivery (ἀπέπαυσε; σχέθε, XIX 119). Zeus’ great oath has been turned against himself, for instead of bringing about the completion of his will, the unbreakable oath binds him to accept the will of another through the loophole of generalization: that man shall rule, “whoever (ὅς κεν) on this day falls (πέσῃ) between a woman’s legs” (XIX 110).
It is instructive to study Zeus’ reaction once he learns of Hera’s deceit, for it demonstrates the strategic moves characteristic of his representation in Greek theogonic epic. In Hesiod’s Theogony, Zeus establishes permanent rule through his ingestion of Metis (Theogony 886–891)—by swallowing the Goddess of Cunning-Intelligence, Zeus becomes quite literally endowed with her peerless intelligence and foresight (cf. West 1966:397, 401–402). [106] We find a similar move in Zeus’ response to his delusion and Hera’s deception in Iliad XIX when he swears a second great and unbreakable oath—namely that Atē, the Goddess of Delusion herself, will never return to Olympos.
τὸν δ’ ἄχος ὀξὺ κατὰ φρένα τύψε βαθεῖαν,
αὐτίκα δ’ εἷλ’ Ἄτην κεφαλῆς λιπαροπλοκάμοιο
χωόμενος φρεσὶν ᾗσι, καὶ ὤμοσε καρτερὸν ὅρκον,
μή ποτ’ ἐς Οὔλυμπόν τε καὶ οὐρανὸν ἀστερόεντα
αὖτις ἐλεύσεσθαι Ἄτην, ἣ πάντας ἀᾶται.
ὣς εἰπὼν ἔρριψεν ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος
χειρὶ περιστρέψας· τάχα δ’ ἵκετο ἔργ’ ἀνθρώπων.
τὴν αἰεὶ στενάχεσχ’, ὅθ’ ἑὸν φίλον υἱὸν ὁρῷτο
ἔργον ἀεικὲς ἔχοντα ὑπ’ Εὐρυσθῆος ἀέθλων.
But a sharp pain struck him deep in his heart,
and straight away he seized Atē by her glossy-haired head
while raging in his heart, and he swore a powerful oath,
that “Never to Olympos nor to starry heaven
will Atē come again, she who deludes all men.”
So he spoke and hurled her from starry heaven
after he swung her around in his hand. She soon reached men’s establishments.
But he always used to bemoan her, whenever he saw his own dear son
with the unseemly work of the tasks set him by Eurystheus.
Iliad XIX 125–133
In a move reciprocal to his ingesting of Μῆτις, the Goddess of Cunning Intel-ligence, so that none can outmatch Zeus with wits, Zeus deprives his enemies of that power of delusion by which he can be made into his own greatest foe. That is to say, instead of merely punishing Hera for her trickery, he deprives her of the opportunity to do so in the future again by casting Atē away from heaven and swearing a great oath that she can never return.
Most important for our investigation, however, is the connection between Zeus throwing (ἔρριψεν ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος ‘he hurled her from starry heaven’, XIX 130) and the impossibility of Atē’s return (μή ποτ’ ἐς Οὔλυμπόν τε καὶ οὐρανὸν ἀστερόεντα | αὖτις ἐλεύσεσθαι Ἄτην ‘[he swore that] ‘Never to Olympos nor to starry heaven will Atē come again’’, XIX 128–129). For, as we have seen, the tradition relates other occasions on which Zeus “hurls” a god from heaven, and that god is also unable to return. Those gods are, specifically, the Titans and the other challengers to Zeus’ authority, such as Typhoeus; Zeus hurls his challengers to the depths of Tartaros from which there is no possibility of return. The theme of falling and not returning which is implicit in the narratives of gods being hurled from the heavens into Tartaros is here made explicit in the case of Atē through the motif of the “great” and “powerful oath.” In our narrative of Zeus’ delusion—a veritable Dios (ap)Atē ‘story of the deception and/or delusion of Zeus’ [107] —we are dealing with the convergence of three themes: Hera’s deception; Zeus’ wrath and violent act of throwing a god from heaven; and the inability of that god to return to Olympos/heaven ever again.
In the next case, we learn of Zeus’ anger at Hupnos, ‘Sleep’, in the prelude to the Dios apatē (Iliad XIV 263–348), the narrative of Hera’s seduction and deception of her husband Zeus in which she arms herself with the seductive gear of the sex-goddess Aphrodite and distracts Zeus’ attention from the battle at Troy long enough for the tide to change in favor of the Achaeans. One of Hera’s preparations is to enlist the help of Hupnos so that he may cast “sleep” down upon Zeus. However, Hupnos is at first unwilling to take part in Hera’s scheme. Once before, he explains, he participated in just such a plot to distract Zeus while Hera attempted to thwart his plans. The results were nearly disastrous:
Ἥρη πρέσβα θεὰ θύγατερ μεγάλοιο Κρόνοιο,
ἄλλον μέν κεν ἔγωγε θεῶν αἰειγενετάων
ῥεῖα κατευνήσαιμι, καὶ ἂν ποταμοῖο ῥέεθρα
Ὠκεανοῦ, ὅς περ γένεσις πάντεσσι τέτυκται·
Ζηνὸς δ’ οὐκ ἂν ἔγωγε Κρονίονος ἆσσον ἱκοίμην
οὐδὲ κατευνήσαιμ’, ὅτε μὴ αὐτός γε κελεύοι.
ἤδη γάρ με καὶ †ἄλλο τεὴ ἐπίνυσσεν ἐφετμή?, [108]
ἤματι τῷ, ὅτε κεῖνος ὑπέρθυμος Διὸς υἱός
ἔπλεεν Ἰλιόθεν Τρώων πόλιν ἐξαλαπάξας·
ἤτοι ἐγὼ μὲν ἔλεξα Διὸς νόον αἰγιόχοιο
νήδυμος ἀμφιχυθείς, σὺ δέ οἱ κακὰ μήσαο θυμῷ,
ὄρσασ’ ἀργαλέων ἀνέμων ἐπὶ πόντον ἀήτας,
καί μιν ἔπειτα Κόωνδ’ εὖ ναιομένην ἀπένεικας
νόσφι φίλων πάντων. ὃ δ’ ἐπεγρόμενος χαλέπαινεν,
ῥιπτάζων κατὰ δῶμα θεούς, ἐμὲ δ’ ἔξοχα πάντων
ζήτει· καί κέ μ’ ἄϊστον ἀπ’ αἰθέρος ἔμβαλε πόντῳ,
εἰ μὴ Νὺξ δμήτειρα θεῶν ἐσάωσε καὶ ἀνδρῶν.
τὴν ἱκόμην φεύγων, ὃ δ’ ἐπαύσατο χωόμενός περ·
ἅζετο γὰρ, μὴ Νυκτὶ θοῇ ἀποθύμια ἕρδοι.
νῦν αὖ τοῦτό μ’ ἄνωγας ἀμήχανον ἄλλο τελέσσαι.
Hera, reverend goddess, daughter of great Kronos,
any other one of the gods who always are I for my part
could easily put to sleep, even the streams of the river
Okeanos, the very one who brought about creation for all things.
But I would not come near Zeus, son of Kronos,
nor would I put him to sleep, unless he himself should so command me.
For already your behest taught me another thing too, [109]
on the day when that excessively spirited son of Zeus [= Herakles]
was sailing from Ilion after he utterly sacked the city of the Trojans.
Then, I tell you, I put to sleep the mind of Zeus who holds the aegis
when I, sweet Sleep, was poured all around him; but you devised evil things in your heart,
when you raised up blasts of grievous winds upon the sea,
and then you carried [Herakles] away towards the well-founded city Kos
apart from all his friends. But [Zeus] was enraged when he awakened,
hurling about gods throughout his home, and he was searching
for me beyond all the rest. Now he would have cast me away from the bright sky and out of sight into the sea,
if Nux [‘Night’], the subduer of gods and men, hadn’t saved me.
I reached her in my flight, and [Zeus], although he was angry, let me be.
For he withdrew lest he do anything displeasing to Nux.
Now again you are asking me to accomplish this thing which is impossible.
Iliad XIV 243–262
Hupnos recalls a former occasion, for already once before (ἤδη, XIV 249), Hupnos cast sleep over Zeus (ἔλεξα Διὸς νόον αἰγιόχοιο, XIV 252) in order to assist Hera in a plot against Zeus’ son Herakles. Zeus became enraged (ἐπεγρόμενος χαλέπαινεν, XIV 256) and began ‘hurling gods throughout his house’ (ῥιπτάζων κατὰ δῶμα θεούς, XIV 257). The reference to Zeus “hurling” gods activates the thematic context of divine challenger cast into the depths whence return is not possible.
In this context, consider Hupnos’ comment that Zeus ‘would have cast me away from the bright sky and out of sight into the sea’ (καί κέ μ’ ἄϊστον ἀπ’ αἰθέρος ἔμβαλε πόντῳ, XIV 258). Zeus would have rendered Hupnos ἄϊστος, literally ‘in-visible’. [110] To render someone ἄϊστος ‘invisible’ in Homeric epic is to destroy them. Compare Penelope’s wish that she might die before she is forced to marry one of the suitors:
ὣς ἔμ’ ἀϊστώσειαν Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἔχοντες,
ἠέ μ’ ἐϋπλόκαμος βάλοι Ἄρτεμις, ὄφρ’ Ὀδυσῆα
ὀσσομένη καὶ γαῖαν ὕπο στυγερὴν ἀφικοίμην,
μηδέ τι χείρονος ἀνδρὸς ἐϋφραίνοιμι νόημα.
Would that those who possess Olympian homes render me invisible,
or that lovely-braided Artemis strike me, so that while looking out for Odysseus
I might also arrive beneath the hateful earth,
and that I might not gladden the mind of a lesser man.
Odyssey xx 79–82
Penelope prays that the gods ‘render me invisible’ (ἔμ’ ἀϊστώσειαν, xx 79). [111] The association between “rendering someone invisible” and “killing” them becomes patent through the connection of thoughts in Penelope’s prayer: being made invisible (ἔμ’ ἀϊστώσειαν, xx 79), being shot by Artemis (μ’ ... βάλοι Ἄρτεμις, xx 80), and reaching the hateful land below (γαῖαν ὕπο στυγερὴν ἀφικοίμην, xx 81). In Hupnos’ case, then, when Zeus was eagerly searching for him (ἐμὲ δ’ ἔξοχα πάντων | ζήτει, Iliad XIV 57–58), Hupnos’ own life was very much at stake. Zeus would have made him “invisible”; he would have effectively brought about the god’s death. [112] In other words, even though Hupnos does not explicitly say so, the very semantics of verse XIV 248 and the connection between “throwing” and “rendering invisible/destroying” in the claim that κέ μ’ ἄϊστον ἀπ’ αἰθέρος ἔμβαλε πόντῳ, ‘he would have cast me away from heaven and out of sight into the sea’ (XIV 258), effectively evokes the unmentioned throw and deathly fall into the murky darkness of Tartaros. Bruce Braswell (1971:21–22) and Malcolm Willcock (1977:44n16) have argued that Zeus’ threat to cast Hupnos from heaven is likely an “invented” (Braswell) “reflection” (Willcock) of Zeus casting Hephaistos from heaven. Along these lines, one may note that Hera’s conversation with Hupnos takes place in Lemnos, a location well known for its active cult of Hephaistos, and that Hera’s promise that Hupnos can marry one of the Graces finds a double in Hephaistos’ wife—a Grace—at Iliad XVIII 382–383. Nevertheless, even this “ad hoc interpretation” draws upon theogonic myth and themes of succession, rebellion, and the maintenance of cosmic order, both in Hera’s expressed purpose for borrowing Aphrodite’s sexual talisman for the purpose of reconciling the estranged primeval pair of Okeanos and Tethys (XIV 200–207), as well as in Hupnos’ claim that he only escaped Zeus’ wrath by running to Nux (Night), his mother, for help, for even Zeus is afraid to upset that primal entity (XIV 259–261). [113]
Let us consider some further implications of Hera’s role in the so-called Διὸς ἀπάτη ‘the narrative about the deception of Zeus’. Hera’s purpose in seducing Zeus, as presented in the Iliad, is to keep the far-seeing god’s attention diverted while Poseidon rouses the Achaeans into battle once more after their demoralizing losses and injuries in Books XI–XIII (cf. XIV 153–165). Hera’s plan (βουλή, XIV 161) consists of seducing the attention of the god, and then putting him into a heavy slumber:
ἧδε δέ οἱ κατὰ θυμὸν ἀρίστη φαίνετο βουλή,
ἐλθεῖν εἰς Ἴδην εὖ ἐντύνασαν ἕ’ αὐτήν,
εἴ πως ἱμείραιτο παραδραθέειν φιλότητι
ᾗ χροιῇ, τῷ δ’ ὕπνον ἀπήμονά τε λιαρόν τε
χεύῃ ἐπὶ βλεφάροισιν ἰδὲ φρεσὶ πευκαλίμῃσι.
And this plan appeared best to her in her heart,
to array herself prettily and go to Ida,
if perhaps [Zeus] might be seized with desire to lay down in love
beside her flesh, and she would shed upon him an innocent and balmy sleep
upon his eyelids and upon his shrewd wits.
Iliad XIV 161–165
Because Hera’s intrigue is, strictly speaking, unnecessary to account for Zeus’ failure to notice Poseidon assisting the Achaeans, [114] it is productive to look beyond the structural significance of the episode to its other implications. Hera’s βουλή ‘plan’ to seduce Zeus’ attention explicitly presents itself as a challenge to the βουλὴ Διός ‘plan of Zeus’ which functions essentially as the ‘plot of the Iliad’ as well. Hera’s βουλή counters Zeus’ βουλή; instead of continual Trojan victory up to the point when Patroklos enters the fray and dies in battle, Hera wants the Trojans to perish. She seduces Zeus to divert his attention and seduces the plot of the Iliad along with him (cf. Bergren 1980). That is to say, Hera poses a challenge to Zeus and his ‘plan’, one that has undertones of the succession motif with all its entailed violence and destruction.
That Hera intends to overpower Zeus may be seen in her careful preparations. The ‘plan that appears to her in her heart to be the best one’ (οἱ κατὰ θυμὸν ἀρίστη φαίνετο βουλή, XIV 161) is to array herself in finery (εὖ ἐντύνασαν ἕ’ αὐτήν, XIV 162) and then set off to see Zeus. Beyond her elaborate bathing and dressing (XIV 166–186), however, Hera seeks the services of two special assistants—Aphrodite and, as we have already seen, Hupnos. From Aphrodite Hera acquires ‘loveliness and desire’ (φιλότητα καὶ ἵμερον, XIV 198), so that Zeus ‘might be seized with desire’ (ἱμείραιτο, XIV 163) to lay down with her. When Hera asks Aphrodite to borrow her sexual talismans, she specifically notes their power in unambiguous terms:
δὸς νῦν μοι φιλότητα καὶ ἵμερον, τε σὺ πάντας
δαμνᾷ ἀθανάτους ἠδὲ θνητοὺς ἀνθρώπους.
Now give to me loveliness and desire, with which you
always conquer immortals and mortal men alike—all of them.
Iliad XIV 198–199
Aphrodite’s talismans are the means by which the sex-goddess ‘conquers’ or ‘overcomes’ (δαμνᾷ, XIV 199) men and gods; [115] the epic τε indicates the general truth of Aphrodite’s power, and further the emphatic placement of the adjective πάντας ‘all of them’ at the end of verse XIV 198 is an index of the scope of Aphrodite’s power. [116] The verb δαμνάω, typically used to describe Aphrodite’s power over gods, men, and animals (compare ἐδαμάσσατο, Hymn to Aphrodite 3), typically describes three spheres of activity: ‘breaking’ or ‘taming’ an animal (e.g. Iliad XXIII 655), ‘subduing’ a woman sexually to a husband (e.g. Iliad XVIII 432), and ‘conquering’ an enemy (e.g. Odyssey ix 59). [117] When Hera borrows Aphrodite’s “loveliness and desire,” she does so with the intention of overcoming Zeus, both in what might be considered a sexual and political conquest.
Zeus’ reaction to Hera’s seditious behavior confirms our reading of the Διὸς ἀπάτη as part of the succession-motif. For upon awakening (XV 4) and seeing what has happened on the battlefield (XV 6–11), he speaks threatening words to Hera:
δεινὰ δ’ ὑπόδρα ἰδὼν Ἥρην πρὸς μῦθον ἔειπεν·
“ἦ μάλα δὴ κακότεχνος, ἀμήχανε, σὸς δόλος, Ἥρη,
Ἕκτορα δῖον ἔπαυσε μάχης, ἐφόβησε δὲ λαούς.
οὐ μὰν οἶδ’, εἰ αὖτε κακορραφίης ἀλεγεινῆς
πρώτη ἐπαύρηαι καί σε πληγῇσιν ἱμάσσω.
ἦ οὐ μέμνη’, ὅτε τε κρέμα’ ὑψόθεν, ἐκ δὲ ποδοῖιν
ἄκμονας ἧκα δύω, περὶ χερσὶ δὲ δεσμὸν ἴηλα
χρύσεον ἄρρηκτον; σὺ δ’ ἐν αἰθέρι καὶ νεφέλῃσιν
ἐκρέμα’· ἠλάστεον δὲ θεοὶ κατὰ μακρὸν Ὄλυμπον,
λῦσαι δ’ οὐκ ἐδύναντο παρασταδόν· ὃν δὲ λάβοιμι,
ῥίπτασκον τεταγὼν ἀπὸ βηλοῦ, ὄφρ’ ἂν ἵκηται
γῆν ὀλιγηπελέων.
τῶν σ’ αὖτις μνήσω, ἵν’ ἀπολλήξῃς ἀπατάων,
ὄφρα ἴδη’ ἤν τοι χραίσμῃ φιλότης τε καὶ εὐνή,
ἣν ἐμίγης ἐλθοῦσα θεῶν ἄπο καί μ’ ἀπάτησας.”
While glowering terribly he spoke a word to Hera:
“Ah, yes, it was your evilly-devised trick, Hera, unmanageable one,
that stopped brilliant Hektor from battle, and put his people to flight.
I don’t know whether once again you will be first to profit from
your troublesome scheming and I may lash you with strokes. [118]
Indeed, don’t you remember when you were hanging from on high, and from your feet
I let fall two anvils, and about your hands I flung a bond
made of gold and unbreakable? And you in the bright sky and clouds
were hanging there; the gods throughout tall Olympos couldn’t stand it,
but they weren’t able to free you as they stood about. And if I caught one,
grabbing hold, I would throw him from the threshold, until he reached
the earth, barely able to move.
Am I to remind you of these things again that you may give up your deceptions,
and that you may see whether your love-making and your bed are of help to you,
how you came from the gods and had intercourse with me and deceived me.”
Iliad XV 13–24, 31–33
While ‘glowering terribly’ (ὑπόδρα ἰδών, XV 13), [119] Zeus threatens to beat Hera (σε πληγῇσιν ἱμάσσω, XV 17), and reminds her of a prior time when he also beat her for deceiving him. He reminds her how she hung from heaven (κρέμα’ ὑψόθεν, XV 18) bound by her wrists (περὶ χερσὶ δὲ δεσμὸν ἴηλα, XV 19) with two anvils attached to her feet, pulling her ever downward (ἐκ δὲ ποδοῖιν | ἄκμονας ἧκα δύω, XV 18–19). Zeus asks, ‘Am I to remind you of these things again?’ (τῶν σ’ αὖτις μνήσω, XV 31), implying that he will repeat the same punishment. [120]
I wish to emphasize two details in Zeus’ speech which point to an interpretation of the Διὸς ἀπάτη as a potential coup d’état. First, his punishment of Hera entails ‘lashing’ her (πληγῇσιν ἱμάσσω, XV 17). An ancient scholion at Iliad XV 17d (Erbse) explains the image of ‘lashing’ as indicating that Zeus would ‘strike’ Hera with ‘lightning’:
ἱμάσσω ... τροπικῶς δὲ νῦν κεραυνώσω· μάστιγα γὰρ Διὸς τὸν κεραυνόν φησι.
‘I’ll lash you’ is now being used figuratively for ‘I will strike you with lightning’. For he [sc. Homer] says the lightning bolt is Zeus’ whip. [121]
If the scholiast’s interpretation is correct that Zeus is threatening Hera with lightning, then his response itself becomes an indication of the severity of Hera’s offense; for Zeus does not strike just anyone with lightning—he reserves it, as we have seen, for his would-be-challengers who strive to overcome him and take his place as divine ruler. [122]
Second, when Zeus speaks of how he once dangled Hera between heaven and earth with anvils (ἄκμονας, XV 19) attached to her feet and weighing her down—and threatens that he may do so again—we find yet another suggestion of the succession motif. The term ἄκμων ‘anvil’, which seems an odd detail in a story of domestic violence, [123] makes sense when we compare Hesiod Theogony 720–725 where an ἄκμων ‘anvil’ dropping from heaven appears again, this time in context of measuring the distance between Ouranos (heaven) and Tartaros.
τόσσον ἔνερθ’ ὑπὸ γῆς ὅσον οὐρανός ἐστ’ ἀπὸ γαίης·
τόσσον γάρ τ’ ἀπὸ γῆς ἐς τάρταρον ἠερόεντα.
ἐννέα γὰρ νύκτας τε καὶ ἤματα χάλκεος ἄκμων
οὐρανόθεν κατιών, δεκάτῃ κ’ ἐς γαῖαν ἵκοιτο·
[ἶσον δ’ αὖτ’ ἀπὸ γῆς ἐς τάρταρον ἠερόεντα·]
ἐννέα δ’ αὖ νύκτας τε καὶ ἤματα χάλκεος ἄκμων
ἐκ γαίης κατιών, δεκάτῃ κ’ ἐς τάρταρον ἵκοι.
As far beneath under the earth, so far is heaven away from the earth;
that’s how far it is from the earth to misty Tartaros.
For nine nights and days a bronze anvil going down
from heaven would reach the earth on the tenth day;
[And equally, in turn, from earth to misty Tartaros.]
And in turn for nine nights and days a bronze anvil
going down from earth would reach Tartaros on the tenth day.
Theogony 720–725
These lines describe rather clearly a tripartite organization of the universe arranged by a vertical hierarchy: Ouranos, Gaia, and Tartaros are conceived of as separate realms equally spaced along a vertical axis. The distance between the realms is equal, as indicated first by the correlative adverbs ὅσον and τόσσον (720–721), and secondly through the proto-scientific concept that space can be measured by the (presumably) uniform motion of falling bodies within a measured amount of time: a bronze anvil dropped from heaven (οὐρανόθεν) falls nine days and reaches the earth on the tenth; likewise, an anvil dropped from earth reaches the depths of Tartaros on the tenth day (722–725). [124] The juxtaposition of the two images of falling anvils—Hesiod’s anvil free-falling from heaven into Tartaros (ἐς τάρταρον, 725) and Homer’s anvils suspended from Hera’s dangling feet—suggests that, like Hesiod’s anvils, Hera herself may fall into Tartaros. In this context, consider Iliad VIII 477–483 where Zeus tells an angry Hera,
σέθεν δ’ ἐγὼ οὐκ ἀλεγίζω
χωομένης, οὐδ’ εἴ κε τὰ νείατα πείραθ’ ἵκηαι
γαίης καὶ πόντοιο, ἵν’ Ἰάπετός τε Κρόνος τε
ἥμενοι οὔτ’ αὐγῇς Ὑπερίονος Ἠελίοιο
τέρποντ’ οὔτ’ ἀνέμοισι, βαθὺς δέ τε Τάρταρος ἀμφίς·
οὐδ’ ἢν ἔνθ’ ἀφίκηαι ἀλωμένη, οὔ σευ ἐγώ γε
σκυζομένης ἀλέγω, ἐπεὶ οὐ σέο κύντερον ἄλλο.
As for you and your anger, I don’t care;
not if you stray apart to the undermost limits
of earth and sea, where both Iapetos and Kronos
seated have no shining of the sun god Huperion
to delight them nor delight of winds, but Tartaros stands deeply about them;
not even if you reach that place in your wandering shall I care
for your sulking, since there is nothing more shameless than you are.
Iliad VIII 477–483
Zeus speaks explicitly to Hera about “Tartaros,” and it is implied that her “wandering” to Tartaros may be construed as being thrown there by Zeus, as indeed he threatened to throw any god who disobeys him (VIII 12–16). [125]

4. The possible impossibility of divine mortality: the death of Ares

The manifold self-contradictions in Greek ideas and phrasing about death are not errors. They are styles of imagining the unimaginable and are responsive both to personal needs and to old conventions. The same conflicts surge up in many cultures. They are necessary ambiguities in a realm of thinking where thinking cannot really be done, and where there is no experience.
Emily Vermeule [126]
So far in our investigation into the theme of “dying gods” and “divine mortality,” we have seen that although Homer does not explicitly represent the death of a god, he does point to what must be considered the functional equivalent of death for gods. First, we have looked at instances in which gods come to experience human temporality through suffering physical pain inflicted by mortal weapons, and second, instances in which gods are struck by lightning, cast to earth, and imprisoned in Tartaros. Once a god ‘endures’ (τλῆ) mortal pain or suffering and becomes ensnared within mortal temporality, his or her recovery from the state of “virtual death” caused by these experiences is not guaranteed: although Hades is “cured” of his pains, Hera is seized by an “incurable” pain, Hephaistos’ injury from his fall is permanent, and for those imprisoned in Tartaros, ‘there is no way out for them’ (τοῖς οὐκ ἐξιτόν ἐστι, Hesiod Theogony 732).
In this section we now turn to one specific figure, Ares, the god of war, for whom Homer does not merely point to possible “equivalent” deaths, but explicitly raises the specter of death itself for the war god. As we will see, Ares is described as being felled on the battlefield three times, in each instance mimicking the death of a mortal both in action and in traditional poetic diction (cf. Purves 2006a:201–203). He is presented as enmeshed in mortal temporality both through physical pains as well as through emotional suffering over the death of his son which drives him to embrace the possibility of his own death (cf. Lowenstam 1981:43–45, 73–77, 83–87, 119–125, 140–143, 167–168, and 172). And finally, he is represented as bound and incarcerated in a bronze jar until he very nearly dies, an image, as I will argue, meant to evoke Tartaros itself.

4.1 Ares among the dead (Iliad V 886, XV 118, XXI 406)

In the height of his aristeia when he is ‘equal to a god’ (δαίμονι ἶσος, V 884), Diomedes is driven by Athena to attack the war god Ares himself. The two come upon Ares as he is stripping the armor off a fallen soldier. [127] Athena lends her strength to Diomedes’ spear thrust and, together, they stab Ares deep in the belly:
δεύτερος αὖθ’ ὡρμᾶτο βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης
ἔγχεϊ χαλκείῳ· ἐπέρεισε δὲ Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη
νείατον ἐς κενεῶνα, ὅθι ζωνύσκετο μίτρην.
τῇ ῥά μιν οὖτα τυχών, διὰ δὲ χρόα καλὸν ἔδαψεν,
ἐκ δὲ δόρυ σπάσεν αὖτις. ὃ δ’ ἔβραχε χάλκεος Ἄρης,
ὅσσόν τ’ ἐννεάχειλοι ἐπίαχον ἢ δεκάχειλοι
ἀνέρες ἐν πολέμῳ ἔριδα ξυνάγοντες ἄρηος·
τοὺς δ’ ἄρ’ ὑπὸ τρόμος εἷλεν Ἀχαιούς τε Τρῶάς τε
δείσαντας· τόσον ἔβραχ’ Ἄρης ἆτος πολέμοιο.
Second in turn Diomedes of the great war-cry drove forward
with his bronze spear; and Pallas Athena put her weight upon it,
right into his lower flank, where he was girded with his war belt.
Yes, in this place she struck and stabbed him, and ripped through his beautiful flesh,
and drew the spear out again. But bronze Ares was shrieking,
as much as nine-thousand shouting out, or ten thousand
men who in war drive together the strife of Ares.
And, indeed, trembling seized both Achaeans and Trojans from beneath,
and they were afraid; that’s how much Ares insatiate of war was shrieking.
Iliad V 855–863
Diomedes and Athena stab Ares deep in his κενεών, the hollow area beneath the ribs; mortal warriors stabbed in this place always die. [128] Ares survives, but is obviously in pain as he cries out—the imperfect tense of the verb ἔβραχε ‘he was shrieking’ indicates the durative quality to his crying. He does not shriek once and for all, but continually. As Egbert Bakker (2005) says of the implication of the imperfect tense in Homer, “It can be thought of as extending beyond its actual description: in other words, language was not able to ‘grasp’ the event in its entirety ... [The event is] somehow larger than language, escaping in part its verbalization” (162, 173). It is an event that cannot be comprehended, but only gestured at: nine or ten thousand men in battle would shout out (ἐπίαχον, V 860) as loud as Ares does.
Ares makes his way to Olympos where he complains of his rough treatment by Diomedes and Athena. Note in particular the temporality associated with his suffering:
αὐτὰρ ἔπειτ’ αὐτῷ μοι ἐπέσσυτο δαίμονι ἶσος.
ἀλλά μ’ ὑπήνεικαν ταχέες πόδες· ἦ τέ κε δηρόν
αὐτοῦ πήματ’ ἔπασχον ἐν αἰνῇσιν νεκάδεσσιν.
ἤ κε ζὼς ἀμενηνὸς ἔα χαλκοῖο τυπῇσι.
But then against me myself he rushed, equal to a god.
But my swift feet carried me out from under, otherwise for a long time
I would be suffering pains there among the dread piles of corpses, [129]
or, though still alive, I would be without strength from the blows of the bronze.
Iliad V 884–887
Ares explains how Diomedes came upon him “like a god” and would have killed him—or at least that appears to be the implication of the alternatives Ares would be suffering ‘for a long time’ (δηρόν, V 885) had his swift feet not been able to bear him away from beneath the blow (ἀλλά μ’ ὑπήνεικαν ταχέες πόδες, V 885). Otherwise, Ares emphatically asserts (ἦ τε, V 885), [130] he would either be suffering pains (πήματ’ ἔπασχον, V 886) or be rendered without menos ‘strength, might’ (ἀ-μενηνὸς ἔα, V 887). [131] The entire passage, though presented in the form of a present contrafactual (“if my swift feet hadn’t carried me out from under Diomedes’ attack, I would now be suffering or would now be without strength”), nevertheless opens the possibility that the outcome, although it didn’t happen, could have happened. That is to say, Ares’ death—his lying among the dead or being rendered without strength—though unaccomplished, remains within the realm of the possible. [132]
There are several details that deserve attention in this passage. First, let us examine more closely the precise connotation of Ares’ alternative possibilities. Either Ares would have suffered pains (κε ... πήματ’ ἔπασχον, V 885–886) there on the battlefield (αὐτοῦ, V 886) among the awful piles of corpses (ἐν αἰνῇσιν νεκάδεσσιν, V 886), or he would have been rendered weak (κε ... ἀμενηνὸς ἔα, V 887) but would be alive (ζώς, V 887). [133] It has been argued that the contrast between alternatives requires verse V 886 to signify Ares’ death in some real way, such that his being rendered weak yet remaining alive offers a real contrast. [134] In this case, we are faced with interpretative difficulties, for although the phrase ἐν αἰνῇσιν νεκάδεσσιν ‘among the dread piles of the dead’ might imply that Ares would be in the land of the dead, such a reading is contradicted by the spatial adverb αὐτοῦ ‘there’, apparently indicating the battlefield. [135] My own reading emphasizes the similarity between the two possibilities rather than contrast between them. Indeed, when Ares claims he would have been ἀμενηνός ‘without menos’, the term—a hapax legomenon in the Iliad—recalls the fact that the souls of dead men in Hades are regularly described as ‘without menos’ in the Odyssey: they are the νεκύων ἀμενηνὰ κάρηνα ‘strengthless heads of the dead’ (x 521, 536, xi 29, 49). [136] That is to say, both possibilities imply a kind of death for the god: suffering among the dead or the reduction of his vital force until he is like one of the dead. But perhaps most informative is the association of both of these possible outcomes—suffering and being rendered without strength—with the temporal adverb δηρόν ‘for a long time’. It is precisely the experience of pain that gives weight to the passing of time for Ares; once stabbed and made to feel physical pain, Ares feels the drag of time.
As we noted above, Iliad V 885–887 expresses a mere possibility. Ares could have been left to suffer among the dead or rendered as weak as the dead, but neither outcome has in fact occurred. Ares returns to Olympos and is freed from his pains by the divine healer Paieon who sprinkles ὀδυνήφατα φάρμακα ‘pain-killing drugs’ upon his wound:
ὣς φάτο, καὶ Παιήον’ ἀνώγειν ἰήσασθαι·
τῷ δ’ ἐπὶ Παιήων ὀδυνήφατα φάρμακα πάσσων
ἠκέσατ’· οὐ μὲν γάρ τι καταθνητός γ’ ἐτέτυκτο. [137]
ὡς δ’ ὅτ’ ὀπὸς γάλα λευκὸν ἐπειγόμενος συνέπηξεν
ὑγρὸν ἐόν, μάλα δ’ ὦκα περιτρέφεται κυκόωντι,
ὣς ἄρα καρπαλίμως ἰήσατο θοῦρον Ἄρηα.
τὸν δ’ Ἥβη λοῦσεν, χαρίεντα δὲ εἵματα ἕσσεν·
πὰρ δὲ Διὶ Κρονίωνι καθέζετο κύδεϊ γαίων.
So [Zeus] spoke, and ordered Paieon to heal him.
And Paieon, by sprinkling pain-killing drugs upon him,
cured him. For he was not at all made to be mortal.
And just as when fig juice rapidly causes white milk to curdle
although it is a liquid, and very swiftly it grows thick all around for one who is stirring it,
indeed, just so did he quickly heal furious Ares.
And Hebe washed him, and dressed him in graceful clothing.
And he sat down beside the son of Kronos, rejoicing in his glory.
Iliad V 899–906
Like Hades before him, Ares is “cured” of his pains by Paieon. He reenters the company of the gods and takes his place beside his father (πὰρ δὲ Διὶ Κρονίωνι καθέξετο, V 906), but only after Hebe ‘cleanses’ him (λοῦσεν, V 905) of the stain of mortal time and dresses him once again in the clothing of the gods. Homer’s simile of milk transformed from a liquid (ὑγρὸν ἐόν, V 903) into a solid (συνέπηξεν, V 902; περιτρέφεται, V 903) nicely represents the change of state Ares likewise undergoes as he is essentially transformed from one struggling under the effects of mortal temporality into a god free from the effects of mortal time, for the simile implies more than the clotting of Ares’ own ikhōr. Milk, a liquid highly prone to decay, is transformed by fig juice (ὀπὸς, V 902) into cheese, a substance more resistant to the decaying effects of time. Just so, Paieon’s “pain-killing drug” seems to render Ares more resilient to time’s wasting effects. After being returned to his god-like status by Paieon’s magical drugs, Ares is described as doing what only a god can do in Homer—namely, ‘rejoicing in his glory’ (κύδεϊ γαίων, V 906). [138]
Ares’ virtual re-deification is temporary at best, however, for he soon faces death once again. In Iliad VIII 12–14, Zeus issues a stern warning that he will blast any god who disobeys his order to hold back from aiding either the Trojans or the Achaeans:
ὃν δ’ ἂν ἐγὼν ἀπάνευθε θεῶν ἐθέλοντα νοήσω
ἐλθόντ’ ἢ Τρώεσσιν ἀρηγέμεν ἢ Δαναοῖσιν,
πληγεὶς οὐ κατὰ κόσμον ἐλεύσεται Οὔλυμπόνδε,
ἤ μιν ἑλὼν ῥίψω ἐς Τάρταρον ἠερόεντα,
τῆλε μάλ’, ἧχι βάθιστον ὑπὸ χθονός ἐστι βέρεθρον,
ἔνθα σιδήρειαί τε πύλαι καὶ χάλκεος οὐδός,
τόσσον ἔνερθ’ Ἀΐδεω ὅσον οὐρανός ἐστ’ ἀπὸ γαίης·
γνώσετ’ ἔπειθ’, ὅσον εἰμὶ θεῶν κάρτιστος ἁπάντων.
Whomever of the gods I shall catch sight of as he willingly
goes either to bring help to the Trojans or to the Danaäns,
after he is struck, he will not return to Olympos in a good condition,
or grabbing him I’ll hurl him into murky Tartaros,
very far away, where is the deepest pit under the ground,
where the gates are iron and the doorstep bronze,
as far beneath the house of Hades as heaven is away from the earth.
Then he will come to know by how much I am the strongest of all the gods.
Iliad VIII 10–17
Zeus’ warning establishes conditions by which he will judge a god to be a challenger who is seeking to succeed him to the throne. The threats to whip the disobedient god (πληγείς, VIII 12)—that is, to strike him with lightning [139] —or ‘hurl him into murky Tartaros’ (ῥίψω ἐς Τάρταρον ἠερόεντα, VIII 13) indicate that the god who disobeys Zeus will be treated like a challenger to the throne and essentially “killed.” Or, at very least, should the disobedient god happen to survive, he will bear the permanent marks of Zeus’ punishment: ‘he will not return to Olympos in a good condition’ (οὐ κατὰ κόσμον ἐλεύσεται Οὔλυμπόνδε, VIII 12). [140] Zeus’ threat informs our comprehension of the impossible possibility of Ares’ death, for in Book XV of the Iliad Ares learns of the death of his son Askalaphos and is driven to distraction in his sorrow. He explains to the other Olympians that he must avenge his son’s death, even though he is aware that he will be acting in violation of Zeus’ command and that his life will hence be forfeit:
μὴ νῦν μοι νεμεσήσετ’, Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἔχοντες,
τείσασθαι φόνον υἷος ἰόντ’ ἐπὶ νῆας Ἀχαιῶν,
εἴ πέρ μοι καὶ μοῖρα Διὸς πληγέντι κεραυνῷ
κεῖσθαι ὁμοῦ νεκύεσσι μεθ’ αἵματι καὶ κονίῃσιν.
Now, don’t blame me, you who have your homes on Olympos,
for avenging the murder of my son by advancing against the ships of the Achaeans,
even if it is my fate to be struck by Zeus’ thunderbolt
and to lie together with the corpses among the blood and dust.
Iliad XV 115–118
Once again, as he did at Iliad V 886, Ares envisions himself lying among the corpses of the dead (ὁμοῦ νεκύεσσι, XV 118). Here, the theme of death is unmistakable, for the noun μοῖρα ‘fate, portion, lot’ also indicates ‘death’ (cf. Iliad VI 488, XVII 672, Odyssey ii 100, xi 560), especially when paired with being struck by Zeus’ lightning (Διὸς πληγέντι κεραυνῷ, xv 117) and lying among the corpses of the dead (κεῖσθαι ὁμοῦ νεκύεσσι, xv 118). [141] The two passages where Ares imagines himself lying among the corpses of dead humans (αὐτοῦ ... ἐν ‘there among’, V 886; ὁμοῦ ‘together with’, XV 118) are thematically linked by an adverb that locates the god on the battlefield. Further, the two passages are linked in terms of their representation of Ares caught up in mortal temporality, for at V 885 Ares lies suffering ‘for a long time’ (δηρόν), and at XV 118 Ares lies ‘together with’ (ὁμοῦ) the dead, an adverb that has temporal implications as well as spatial ones, as Alex Purves (2006a) has argued: “In Ares’ case, it is important to note that he lies not only (ἐν) among them, but also—if we expand our reading of ὁμοῦ to include all its definitions—at the same time as them” (203). [142] As is confirmed through the similarity between the two passages, Ares experiences mortal temporality through his physical suffering. And yet, at XV 117–118 Ares realizes the consequences of transgressing Zeus’ command and freely accepts his own death. He chooses to become irrevocably tainted by the stain of mortal temporality, to be polluted by filth ‘among the blood and the dust’ (μεθ’ αἵματι καὶ κονίῃσιν, XV 118). [143]
When Ares learns of the death of his son Askalaphos, he “slaps his thighs with down-turned hands.”
αὔταρ Ἄρης θαλερὼ πεπλήγετο μηρώ
χερσὶ καταπρηνέσσ’, ὀλυφυρόμενος δ’ ἔπος ηὔδα.
But Ares struck his blossoming thighs
with down-turned hands, and while lamenting, spoke a word.
Iliad XV 113–114
In his remarkable study of the gesture of slapping one’s thighs in Homeric epic, Steven Lowenstam (1981) has demonstrated that the gesture of thigh-slapping points to an ancient inherited Anatolian sacrificial practice in which the sacrificial animal is first stunned by a blow, followed by the fatal stroke delivered from an unseen position. When a character in Homer’s epic strikes his thighs, then, he essentially becomes marked for death, and in fact soon dies by an unseen blow. Therefore, Lowenstam argues, when Ares slaps his own thighs here, he does so “in acknowledgment of his readiness to suffer what amounts to a divine death ... He embraces his own death” (44, 121). If Lowenstam’s analysis is correct, then not only do we see Ares verbally acknowledge and accept death at Zeus’ hands in response to his violation of divine command not to interfere in the human battle, but we see him acknowledge and accept death by gesture as well.
That Ares is planning to face his own death is explicitly acknowledged by his divine audience within the narrative as well. For as soon as Ares finishes his speech, Athena leaps up and persuades him not to go:
μαινόμενε, φρένας ἠλέ, διέφθορας. ἦ νύ τοι αὔτως
οὔατ’ ἀκουέμεν ἐστί, νόος δ’ ἀπόλωλε καὶ αἰδώς.
Madman, crazed in your wits, you are ruined. Yes, now as ever
it’s possible for your ears to hear, but your noos has perished along with your sense of shame.
Iliad XV 128–129
For Ares to even think what he has just said is an indication that he is already marked for death (διέφθορας = an intransitive perfect indicative < δια-φθείρω). [144] His νόος ‘mind, intelligence’ has perished, and along with it any chance for his νόστος ‘return to light and life’. [145]
Once again, however, Ares avoids death—Athena convinces him to sit down and accept Zeus’ authority. As we have seen, then, the god narrowly avoids two “virtual deaths” in which he would have remained lying on the battlefield for a long time (δηρόν), along with and sharing the same physical space and temporal experience (ὁμοῦ) as the human corpses. He would have been diminished from his ontological status as a divinity to something less, something that feels the duration of lived time through pain and suffering. Although ready to submit to death by Zeus’ stroke of lightning (μοῖρα Διὸς πληγέντι κεραυνῷ), although marked for death (διέφθορας), and despite having lost his mind and any possibility for return (νόος/νόστος), Ares does not die. Ares’ two “virtual deaths” remain only within the realm of the possible.
Ares’ two “virtual deaths” within the Iliad are matched by a third actual “death.” [146] In Book XXI the gods reenter the battlefield and begin to fight with one another. Ares, still angry about his earlier wounding by Athena and Diomedes, rushes against the goddess. She, in turn, picks up a large stone and “kills” Ares with it:
τῷ βάλε θοῦρον Ἄρηα κατ’ αὐχένα, λῦσε δὲ γυῖα.
ἑπτὰ δ’ ἐπέσχε πέλεθρα πεσών, ἐκόνισε δὲ χαίτας,
τεύχεά τ’ ἀμφαράβησε·
With it she struck furious Ares on the neck, and she loosened his limbs.
And he stretched out over seven pelethra when he fell, and got dust in his hair,
and his armor clattered about him.
Iliad XXI 406–408
The poetic diction in the passage points to the god’s death, for nearly the entire passage is made up of formulae traditionally used to describe the death of mortal warriors in battle. For instance, one fighter striking another with a large stone plucked from the ground is a repeated battle motif, [147] as is one fighter striking another in his neck. [148] Further, the formula λῦσε δὲ γυῖα always indicates the death of a mortal in battle, [149] and the verb πίπτειν ‘to fall’ is regularly used in descriptions of the death of warriors. [150] Even those elements of the description which are, strictly speaking, non-formulaic—ἐκόνισε δὲ χαίτας ‘he got dust in his hair’ (XXI 407) and τεύχεά τ’ ἀμφαράβησε ‘his armor clattered about him’ (XXI 408; cf. Purves 2006a:203n70)—still operate within a system of traditional expressions, for the defilement of a hero’s hair with blood and dust is a common motif in death scenes (Fenik 1968:163, Lowenstam 1981:85), even if it is usually worded differently in Homeric epic. [151] Similarly, although the phrase τεύχεά τ’ ἀμφαράβησε ‘and his armor clattered about him’ is unique, it is a modification of a common formula which always describes the death of a mortal in battle: ἀράβησε δὲ τεύχε’ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ ‘and it clattered, his armor did, upon him’. [152] In short, then, when Athena strikes Ares in the neck with a stone and unstrings his limbs so that he falls to the ground and his armor clatters about him, Ares undergoes what for any mortal chracter would be certain death. The thunderous crash of Ares’ huge body as it hits the ground joins the percussive tempo of death in the Iliad—he falls in time with the epic’s mortal characters, for through his suffering, he has come to participate in mortal time. His screams and crashing armor occur within the epic’s regular rhythm of death.

4.2 Binding a god: Ares’ bronze jar (Iliad V 385–391)

When Dione comforts her wounded daughter Aphrodite with the stories of other immortals injured at the hands of reckless mortals, she cites an incident in which Ares suffered at the hands of two mortals, Ephialtes and Otos. [153] The identity of these figures is given at Odyssey xi 305–320 as Odysseus explains how he caught sight of their mother, Iphimedia, in Hades. Iphimedia was the wife of Aloeus, but she claimed that her children were the sons of Poseidon. They grew to giant size and strength, and threatened war against the immortals: Ὄσσαν ἐπ’ Οὐλύμπῳ μέμασαν θέμεν, αὐτὰρ ἐπ’ Ὄσσῃ | Πήλιον εἰνοσίφυλλον, ἵν’ οὐρανὸς ἀμβατὸς εἴη, ‘They were eager to place Mt. Ossa on top of Mt. Olympos, and then Mt. Pelion with its shaking leaves upon Mt. Ossa, so that heaven might be reached by climbing’ (xi 315–316). But Apollo killed the two before they could bring war to Olympos (cf. ps.-Apollodorus 1.7.4). Ephialtes and Otos, then, appear to function in a role similar to the Titans and Typhoeus, monsters of enormous size and strength who seek to wage war against the gods and overthrow Zeus. In Dione’s tale, Ephialtes and Otos imprisoned the war god in a bronze cauldron for thirteen months until he was at the point of death: [154]
τλῆ μὲν Ἄρης, ὅτε μιν Ὦτος κρατερός τ’ Ἐφιάλτης,
παῖδες Ἀλωῆος, δῆσαν κρατερῷ ἐνὶ δεσμῷ·
χαλκέῳ δ’ ἐν κεράμῳ δέδετο τρισκαίδεκα μῆνας.
καί νύ κεν ἔνθ’ ἀπόλοιτο Ἄρης ἆτος πολέμοιο,
εἰ μὴ μητρυιή, περικαλλὴς Ἠερίβοια,
Ἑρμέᾳ ἐξήγγειλεν· ὃ δ’ ἐξέκλεψεν Ἄρηα
ἤδη τειρόμενον, χαλεπὸς δέ ἑ δεσμὸς ἐδάμνα.
Ares endured when Otos and powerful Ephialtes,
the children of Aloeus, bound him in a powerful bond.
And he was within a bronze jar for thirteen months.
And now he might have died, Ares insatiate of war,
if their stepmother, the very beautiful Eëriboia
had not announced it to Hermes. But he stole Ares away
who was already worn out, and the hard bondage conquered him.
Iliad V 385–391
Once again, Ares endures a virtual death: he is overcome and bound by Otos and Ephialtes. The passage achieves emphasis through verbal repetition, first of the adjective ‘powerful’ (κρατερός ... κρατερῷ, V 385–386) in the same metrical position, once describing Ephialtes and the second describing the bonds in which Ares is subdued, and second with the figura etymologica as Ares’ attackers ‘bind’ him ‘in a bond’ (δῆσαν ... ἐνὶ δεσμῷ, V 386). [155] According to Dione’s story, Ares ‘might have perished’ (κεν ... ἀπόλοιτο, V 388) had Hermes not stolen him from the jar. By the time Hermes comes, Ares is already worn out (ἤδη τειρόμενον, V 391), overcome by his thirteen month-long incarceration (χαλεπὸς δέ ἑ δεσμὸς ἐδάμνα, ‘the hard bondage conquered him’ V 391). Although Ares’ death is presented in a contrary-to-fact conditional sentence, we cannot dismiss that Homer posits the god’s death as a radical possibility. [156] Hermes rescues Ares from the jar, but the contrafactual narrative points out, once again, the concept of a “dying god.”
If Iliad V 385–391 explicitly signals the death of a god with its indication that καί νύ κεν ἔνθ’ ἀπόλοιτο ‘and now [Ares] would have died’, it is worth considering further what precisely constitutes the nature of this potential death. I find particularly insightful here Jean-Pierre Vernant’s discussion on the qualitative differences between the mortal and immortal body:
The human body is ephemeral. This does not merely signify that, no matter how beautiful, strong, or perfect it may appear to be, it is still destined for decrepitude and death [‘il est voué par avance ... à la décrépitude et à la mort’]; in a more essential way, it means that since nothing in it is immutable [‘rien en lui n’étant immuable’], the vital energies it deploys and the psychological and physical forces it puts into play can remain only for a brief moment in a state of plenitude [‘ne peuvent demeurer qu’un bref moment dans leur état de plénitude’]. These bodies are exhausted [‘s’épuisent’] as soon as they become active. Like a fire that consumes itself as it burns, and that must continuously be fed in order to keep from going out, the human body functions in alternating phases of expenditure and recuperation [‘le corps humain fonctionne par phases alternées de dépense et de récupération’] ... [W]hatever positive forces, such as vitality, energy, power, and luster, the human body may harbor, the gods possess these forces in a pure and unlimited state [‘les dieux les possèdent, mais à l’état pur et sans restriction’]. In order to conceive of the divine body in its plenitude and permanence [‘le corps divin dans sa plénitude et sa permanence’], it is therefore necessary to subtract from the human body all those traits that bind it to its mortal nature and betray its transitory, precarious, and unfulfilled character [‘retrancher de celui des hommes tous les traits qui tiennent à sa nature mortelle et en dénoncent le caractère transitoire, précaire, inaccompli’].
French = Vernant 1986:28, 33–34
English translation = Vernant 1991:32, 35; translation slightly adapted, emphasis added.
According to Vernant’s analysis, the human body possesses a finite source of vitality which must be constantly and repeatedly replenished, lest the human body’s one-sided expenditure entirely diminish and waste the body away into non-existence. The god’s body, on the other hand, possesses an unlimited quantity of vitality; the god never runs out, never needs to replenish his energies or recuperate. What then are we to make of Homer’s explanation that Ares’ cruel bonds have “worn him down” (τειρόμενον, V 391)? Like Aphrodite who was “worn down” by her wound as we saw above, Ares too is “worn down”: the implication is that through his thirteen month-long incarceration the god essentially undergoes the same sort of degeneration over time as humans when in pain, exhausted, or overcome by age. That Ares can be “worn down” implies that he no longer possesses “unlimited” resources of vitality, but that his body has itself become human in its suffering and limited through the very bonds and jar that hold him.
What is the significance of the δεσμός ‘bond’ that holds Ares captive? Besides his experience of being worn out through time, the restrictions of that god’s powers and prerogatives accomplished through “binding” him or her provide the closest analogue for that god’s “death” that we have yet seen. Marcel Detienne and Jean-Pierre Vernant describe the effect of binding the divine body:
A divine being cannot die [‘ne saurait périr’]; it can only be bound [‘être lié’]. What does this binding [‘enchaînment’] mean? First, that the god loses one of his principle prerogatives: the power of instantaneous movement [‘ce pouvoir de déplacement instantané’] from one spot to another; the gift of ubiquity [‘ce don d’ubiquité’] which enables him to be present at any place in the world where he chooses to manifest himself ... The chaining up [‘L’enchaînment’] of a god relegates him to the furthest confines of the cosmos or even to an inaccessible beyond such as the abyss of Tartarus whose entrance has been blocked for all time ... Even when a god is chained up [‘se trouve enchaîné’] somewhere within the organised universe, his immobility [‘l’immobilité’] so utterly reduces his sphere of activity [‘réduit à rien son rayon d’action’] and his power and being are thus so diminished [‘telle diminution de son puvoir et de son être’] that he appears as an enfeebled [‘affaibli’], impotent [‘inefficace’], exhausted [‘exténué’] figure existing only in that state of quasi-death which sleep represents for the gods.
French = Detienne and Vernant 1974:113–114
English translation = Detienne and Vernant 1978:115–116; emphasis added
In his bonds, a god suffers diminution of power through the limitation of movement and reduction of the god’s sphere of activity. In chains, the god becomes enfeebled (‘affaibli), impotent (‘inefficace’), exhausted (‘exténué’). His physical body, normally capable of moving great distances at will is now restricted to a specific point. [157] If the god’s body is typically a “super-body,” [158] the bound god’s body, now less mobile even than a human’s or an animal’s body, must be a “sub-body,” as powerless as the “strengthless heads of the dead,” the shades of dead men in the underworld.
There is one final observation I would like to make regarding the specific nature of Ares’ bronze jar, one that has been noted by a number of scholars. In our investigation of the “succession motif” above, we saw that Zeus virtually “kills” renegade divinities by smiting them with lightning, and then casts them into the murky depths of Tartaros from which the god will never return to heaven. I believe that Ares’ bronze jar is itself a figure for Tartaros, for traditional Homeric and Hesiodic accounts of Tartaros indicate that it is to be conceived of as shaped like a large storage jar with an attached lid, and moreover, that it is made of metal: bronze and iron. According to the more complete description in Hesiod’s Theogony (to which the Homeric account at Iliad VIII 14–16, 478–480 bears striking similarities), [159]
τὸν πέρι χάλκεον ἕρκος ἐλήλαται· ἀμφὶ δέ μιν νὺξ
τριστοιχὶ κέχυται περὶ δειρήν· αὐτὰρ ὕπερθε
γῆς ῥίζαι πεφύασι καὶ ἀτρυγέτοιο θαλάσσης.
ἔνθα θεοὶ Τιτῆνες ὑπὸ ζόφῳ ἠερόεντι
κεκρύφαται βουλῇσι Διὸς νεφεληγερέταο,
χώρῳ ἐν εὐρώεντι, πελώρης ἔσχατα γαίης.
τοῖς οὐκ ἐξιτόν ἐστι, θύρας δ’ ἐπέθηκε Ποσειδέων
χαλκείας, τεῖχος δ’ ἐπελήλαται ἀμφοτέρωθεν.
ἔνθα Γύγης Κόττος τε καὶ Ὀβριάρεως μεγάθυμος
ναίουσιν, φύλακες πιστοὶ Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο.
A bronze wall has been drawn around it. And on both sides night
has been poured three-fold around its neck. But above
the roots of earth and the fruitless sea grow.
There below in the misty darkness the Titan gods
have been hidden by the councils of cloud-gathering Zeus,
in a dank place, at the extremities of huge earth.
There is no way out for them; Poseidon set in doors,
bronze ones, and the wall has been drawn around on both sides.
There Guges, Kottos, and also great-hearted Obriareos
dwell, guards trusted by aegis-bearing Zeus.
Theogony 726–735
In this lower realm (consisting of Tartaros, Erebos, and Hades) “under the earth,” there is a bronze retaining wall (726), circled by three layers of “night.” Here the Titans are kept “at the furthest outposts of the huge earth.” [160] The location is a perfect container, for its walls circle around in both directions (τὸν πέρι χάλκεον ἕρκος ἐλήλαται, 726; τεῖχος δ’ ἐπελήλαται ἀμφοτέρωθεν, 733). Outside of the door Guges, Kottos, and Briareos, [161] the hundred-handers, appear to stand guard to prevent any would-be escape (cf. ps.-Apollodorus 1.7, Tzetes’ commentary at Theogony 277). [162] In this way, then, Tartaros and Hades are mutually reinforcing images of containers with monstrous guards, designed to keep the dead within confines and out of the world above.
Note especially, however, that Tartaros is represented as having bronze doors (θύρας χαλκείας) and a ‘neck’ (δειρήν, 727) surrounded by thick night. [163] The image of a neck suggests something like a storage container—specifically, a pithos jar [164] —and tempts one to interpret the doors set into Tartaros (θύρας δ’ ἐπέθηκε, 732) almost as a lid set upon a jar. [165] Pithoi jars in early Greece were commonly used within funerary contexts; they served not only as storage containers for food and wine, but also as storage containers for the burial of dead bodies. Within Homeric epic, Achilles’ mortal remains were placed in a jar along with those of Patroklos (Odyssey xxiv 73–77, Iliad XXIII 91–92). [166] It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the underworld, the final resting place for the dead, is conceived of as a jar (Walcot 1966:61, Onians 1954:395–410, Poljakov 1982:309–310, Penglase 1994:210, West 1997:362–363, Purves 2004:164). An old Anatolian myth about the disappearance of the storm god Telepinu describes a ritual for appeasing the god’s anger by calling for his anger to be locked in a bronze jar:
May Telipinu’s anger, wrath, sin, and sullenness depart. May the house release it. May the middle … release it. May the window release it. May the hinge release it. May the middle courtyard release it. May the city gate release it. May the gate complex release it. May the King’s Road release it. May it not go into the fruitful field, garden, or forest. May it go the route of the Sun Goddess (of the Dark Earth). The gatekeeper opened the seven doors. He drew back the seven bars. Down in the Dark Earth stand bronze vats. Their lids are of lead. Their latches are of iron. That which goes into them doesn’t come up again; it perishes therein. So may they seize Telipinu’s anger, wrath, sin, and sullenness, and may they not come back (here).
Hoffner Jr. 1998:17, §26–27 [167]
The ritual language speaks of Telepinu’s anger being locked within ‘bronze vats’ (ZABAR pal-ḫi, ‘bronze palhi-vessels’): in a note on his translation, Harry Hoffner Jr. (1998) explains, “Hittite palhi-vessels were large vessels with wide mouths and metal lids” (38n4); these jars were used for storage or incarceration, not for cooking (cf. Gurney 1977:53n4). [168] The text, then, locates storage jars in the underworld, “down in the Dark Earth,” from which there is no escape. János Harmatta (1968) specifically compared the bronze jar of the Hittite underworld with the bronze jar (κέραμος) in which the Aloadae lock Ares in Iliad V 385–387. [169] Michael Astour (1980) and F. Poljakov (1982) have adduced the further parallel of the entrance of the nether world in Ugaritic mythological and cosmological texts. In Ugaratic mythology, the entrance to the world of the dead is located at Knkny, a word related to the Ugaritic knkn and Akkadian kankannu, which, according to Astour, “denotes a large clay jar (for wine or oil) fixed in the ground of the cellar. Such jars could be used as coffins, as is indeed stated in a Ugaritic epic ... The name of the mountain ... has thus a funerary connotation” (Astour 1980:229). [170]
The description of Ares trapped within a bronze jar may well suggest, then, the image of the god in Tartaros itself. The god conquered and bound like the Titans and Typhoeus is incarcerated in the prison-house for criminal deities. Beyond any virtual death, Ares was in fact dead—once again, resurrected only through the further expenditure of divine power, here the boundary-crossing and thievery of Hermes.


[ back ] 1. Most 1987:3.
[ back ] 2. I follow the relative dating of Homer, Hesiod, and the Homeric Hymns established by Janko 1982.
[ back ] 3. Purves 2006a has discussed Hephaistos’ and Ares’ experience of mortal time through their respective “falls” to earth. My analysis locates those “falls” within a larger context of gods who suffer the effects of mortal time. Hence, it is important to note that Hephaistos does not merely fall, but is thrown: he suffers as the Titans and Typhoeus before him, and as Atē (‘Delusion’), Hupnos (‘Sleep’), and Hera nearly do in Iliad XIV.
[ back ] 4. Consider other possible scenarios raised by the Iliadic narrative though not actually carried out, such as actions carried out ὑπὲρ μοῖραν ‘beyond destiny’ with Willcock’s observation that it is “theoretically possible to frustrate [fate], but in practice this does not happen” (1976:19). Like actions that violate fate, the death of the gods is represented as a possible outcome.
[ back ] 5. On the question of the “death” of gods in Homer, see Willcock 1964, 1970, 1977, Braswell 1971, Levy 1979, Vermeule 1979:118–144, Andersen 1981, Loraux 1986, Harrell 1991, Sissa and Detienne 2000, Burton 2001, and Purves 2006a.
[ back ] 6. See Detienne and Vernant 1978:115–116 on binding as a form of “death” for gods (cited below). In this context, we may consider the “binding” of Zeus (cf. Iliad I 396–404) as an instance of the mythical succession-motif in which a challenger seeks to overthrow and permanently incapacitate the king of the gods so that he may rule in his place: see Lang 1983, Slatkin 1986, 1991:66–69, and Alden 2000:38–39.
[ back ] 7. The topic of the nature of the gods as represented in Homeric epic is vast, but a selection of important discussions must include Bowra 1930:215–233, Dodds 1951, Lesky 1996:65–73, Willcock 1970, Fränkel 1975:53–93, Dietrich 1967, 1979, Vermeule 1979:118–144, Griffin 1980:144–204, Clay 1982, Schein 1984, Thalmann 1984:78–112, Edwards 1987:124–142, Vernant 1991:27–49, and Sissa and Detienne 2000.
[ back ] 8. ‘Immortal and ageless’ constitutes a very common formula in Greek hexameter poetry, found in line initial position (ἀθάνατος καὶ ἄγηρος) [#–uu–uu–u], as at Hesiod fr. 25.28 and 229.8 M-W, with a variation extending the line initial formula to the Adonic segment (ἀθανάτους ὄντας καὶ ἀγήρως, vel sim.) [#–uu––– || uu–uu], as at Odyssey vii 94, Hesiod Theogony 305, and Hymn to Demeter 260; a similar variant extends from line initial position to Adonic segment [#–uu ἀθάνατος καὶ ἀγήρως –uu–x#] at Iliad VIII 539, Odyssey v 136 = vii 257 = xxiii 336, Hesiod Theogony 949, Hesiod fr. 23a.12 and 23a.24 M-W, Hymn to Apollo 151, Hymn to Aphrodite 214 (compare also Hesiod Theogony 955 with ἀπήμαντος ‘without suffering’ substituted for ἀθάνατος ‘immortal’: ναίει ἀπήμαντος καὶ ἀγήραος ἤματα πάντα [#–u u–––uu–uu –uu–x#]); and lastly, we find a version extending from the feminine caesura to the end of the verse (ἀγήρω τ’ ἀθανάτω τε) [u–––uu–x#], as at Iliad II 447, XII 323, XVII 444, Hymn to Demeter 242 (compare Odyssey v 218 and Hesiod Theogony 277). I emphasize the metrical flexibility and variability of the phraseology for ‘immortal and ageless’ as an indication both of the traditionality of the concept and of its functionality: on the traditionality and functionality of the formula ‘immortal and ageless’, see Janko 1981. On the gods as defined in structural opposition to man, see Vermeule 1979:118–144, Clay 1982, Vernant 1991:27–49, and Sissa and Detienne 2000.
[ back ] 9. Purves 2006a:190–191 analyzes the connection between death in battle and old age, both of which cause mortals to fall with weakened knees: “Aging, then, is just another way of being unstrung, of having one’s limbs loosened and thereby losing the grounded, upright position of being empedos” (191). The adjective ἀγήρως ‘ageless’ is always used in conjunction with ἀθάνατος ‘immortal’ in epic diction: compare Ebeling 1963:13, s.v. ἀγήραος.
[ back ] 10. The traditionality of the expression ‘the gods who always are’ (θεοὶ αἰὲν ἐόντες) is guaranteed by the formulaic status and metrical/phraseological flexibility. We find the formulaic expression θεοὶ αἰὲν ἐόντες [uu–uu–x#] some 10 times in Greek epic poetry: Iliad I 290, 494, XXI 518, XXIV 99, Odyssey v 7, viii 306, xii 371, 377, Hesiod fr. 296.2 M-W, and compare Hymn to Demeter 325 θεοὺς αἰὲν ἐόνας [––uu–x#] with θεοὺς in synizesis (on which, see Allen, Halliday, and Sikes 1980:166–167 with n325 and n345). The formula also appears in the accusative with different metrical shape: θεοὺς uu–uu αἰὲν ἐόντας [u– uu–uu –uu–x#]: Odyssey I 263, 378, ii 143, viii 635, Hymn to Aphrodite 62, and compare Odyssey iii 147 and Hesiod Theogony 801. Further, the formula appears in the genitive case as well: θεῶν uu αἰὲν ἐόντων [u– uu –uu––#]: Odyssey iv 583, Hymn to Hermes 548, and compare Hesiod Theogony 33 and Works and Days 718 for μακάρων uu αἰὲν ἐόντων and Theogony 21 and 105 for ἀθανάτων uu–uu αἰὲν ἐόντων. On the flexibility of the Homeric formula, see esp. Hainsworth 1968, 1993:1–31 and Russo 1997.
[ back ] 11. See Clay 1982 and my discussion in chapter 2 above. According to Nicholas Richardson (1993), the difference between mortal and immortal food “emphasizes the earthbound, temporal character of men, as compared with the gods (οὐ γὰρ σῖτον ἔδουσ’ ... [Iliad] 5.431)” (93). I treat this point below. Distinctions in selection of food items divides not only man from god, but even one group of men from another. For instance, we see a distinction between those mortals who are closely related to gods (e.g. Achilles) versus those who are not (e.g. Hektor): Achilles may have been raised on ambrosia (cf. Iliad XIX 347–348, 352–354, Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica IV 869–872, and the discussion by Gantz 1993:I.230–231, Mackie 1998, Burgess 2009:9–13), whereas Hektor was raised on milk (cf. Iliad XXII 79–83, XXIV 58, and the discussion by Kitts 1994). Kitts (1994) further demonstrates distinctions between drinkers-of-milk on the one hand and eaters-of-grain on the other.
[ back ] 12. Compare οἱ ... ἐπὶ χθονὶ ναιετάασκεν ‘those who continually dwell upon the earth’ at Hymn to Apollo 279.
[ back ] 13. Compare the related ἐπιχθονίων ... ἄνδρων ‘men upon the earth’, Iliad I 266, IX 558; ἄνδρας ἐπιχθονίους, Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 12; and the substantive use of the adjective ἐπιθχονίος to indicate ‘men upon the earth’: Iliad XXIV 220, Odyssey xvii 115, xxiv 197.
[ back ] 14. On the components of the Homeric aristeia, see Fenik 1968:9–77, Krischer 1971:13–85, and Muellner 1996:10–18.
[ back ] 15. On the theme of “three times” in Greek literature, see Göbel 1935, Perry 1972, Bell Jr. 1975, and Hansen 1976. Göbel’s study of “threes” includes threefold anaphora and alliteration as well as uses of τρίς and τρείς in Homer. However, only Perry notes—though he does not analyze—the role of “the fourth time” in Homer. On the significance of heroes making a “fourth” attempt, see Muellner 1996:12–18 and Buchan 2004:50–56.
[ back ] 16. On this formulation of the “hero,” see Vernant 1981, 1991, and Rubino 1979.
[ back ] 17. On δαίμονι ἶσος and its significance in the hero’s attempt to become a god during his aristeia, see Muellner 1996:12–14 with n19. Nagy 1999:143–144 (Ch. 8§3–4) argues that the phrase δαίμονι ἶσος points to a ritual antagonism between hero and god. Collins 1998:15–45 demonstrates how during a warrior’s aristeia, he is filled with ἀλκή “battle strength,” a strength or power regularly associated with the war god Ares; during battle, then, Ares “enters” (δύειν) the warrior and “possesses” him (κατέχειν), effectively turning the warrior into Ares himself (cf. Collins 1998:41–43). One may compare the antagonism between a warrior who has become δαίμονι ἶσος and a god with those other mortals unfortunate enough to challenge a god, such as Thamyris who is blinded for wishing to compete with the Muses (II 594–600), Niobe who is destroyed for comparing her children with Leto’s (XXIV 602–609), or Eurytus who is killed by Apollo for challenging him in archery (viii 224–227).
[ back ] 18. See Buchan’s argument in full at Buchan 2004:50–56, and see also Muellner 1996:12–18 on the significance of counting “three times ... but on the fourth time” in Homeric epic. It is significant to note that of the four passages in which Achilles is said to be δαίμονι ἶσος ‘equal to a god’ (XX 447, 493, XXI 18, 227), only one appears in the formulaic line ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ τὸ τέταρτον ἐπέσσυτο δαίμονι ἶσος ‘but indeed when for the fourth time he rushed against [him/them], equal to a god’ (XX 447 = V 438 = XVI 705 = XVI 786, and compare the variant αὐτὰρ ἔπειτ’ αὐτῷ μοι ἐπέσσυτο δαίμονι ἶσος ‘but when he rushed against me myself, equal to a god’ at V 459 = V 884). In that passage (XX 447)—which West in fact excises from his edition of the Iliad—Achilles attacks Hektor, whom Apollo protects by covering him in a thick mist (τὸν δ’ ἐξήρπαξεν Ἀπόλλων | ῥεῖα μάλ’ ὥς τε θεός, ἐκάλυψε δ’ ἄρ’ ἠέρι πολλῇ ‘But Apollo seized him away very easily, since he is a god, and covered him up in a thick mist’, XX 443–444). Although Achilles leaps against the mist three and then four times, he is not rebuffed by the god; instead, Achilles shouts after Hektor that the gods have saved him but he will not be so lucky if they meet again, after which he then turns his attention to killing other Trojans. It would seem that Achilles alone can be δαίμονι ἶσος with impunity in the Iliad, for he does not strive against the gods nor try to press forward beyond what is fated, but checks his activity within certain bounds.
[ back ] 19. On the relationship between mortality and eating food, as opposed to enjoying the savor of sacrificial offerings or imbibing nektar and ambrosia, see Hymn to Hermes 130–136 where Hermes refuses to eat sacrificial meat, thereby guaranteeing himself a place among the Olympian gods, on which, see Kahn-Lyotard 1977 and Kahn 1978. See further Vernant 1977 and 1989 for an analysis of the consumption of sacrificial meat in Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days and its function as the mythological aition for why man dies. For gods and the savor of sacrifice understood in its widest connotations, including perfume and incense that emit their smoke and odor upward along a vertical axis, see Detienne 1994.
[ back ] 20. On epic τε as expressing a fait permanent ‘permanent fact’ linking two ideas in a particular context (here leaves that flourish and then wither in context of a discussion of the ephemeral nature of human life), see Ruijgh 1971:15–18, Davies 1977, and Bakker 2002:77.
[ back ] 21. On ἀκήριος ‘without life, spirit’ (from ἀ- + κῆρ ‘without heart’), compare Iliad V 812, 817, VI 100, XI 392, XIII 224, and see Eustathius’ definition as ἶσος τῷ νεκρῷ ‘[one who is] equal to a corpse’ (852.35). See further Ebeling 1963:63, s.v. ἀκήιος, Monro 1893:382, and Kirk 1990:144.
[ back ] 22. On φθινύθω, other cognate *φθι- ‘decay’ root words, and their temporal implications, see the Appendix below.
[ back ] 23. See Pötscher 1961, Householder Jr. and Nagy 1972:50–52, and O’Brien 1993:5, 113–117, 137–139. These studies indicate the formulaic, contextual, and mythological associations between ἥρως and Ἥρη/Ἥρᾱ ‘Hera’, not least of which is that the hero par excellence is none other than Herakles whose very name is a compound of Hera + kleos ‘the glory of Hera’ (Ἡρα-κλῆς). Note further Chantraine’s cautious assessment that, although the etymology of ἥρως is unknown, a relationship with Ἥρη/Ἥρᾱ ‘Hera’ is possible (Chantraine 1968–1980:417, s.v. ἥρως). However, Chantraine finds arguments positing a relationship between Ἥρη/Ἥρᾱ and ὥρα ‘season’ as very doubtful [“ces hypothèses sont fort douteuses”] (415–416, s.v. Ἥρᾱ). See Adams 1987 for a different attempt to associate ἥρως and Ἥρᾱ with a posited root indicating ‘youthful vitality’.
[ back ] 24. Sinos here draws on the work of Pötscher 1961. See also Schein 1984:69, 85n8.
[ back ] 25. ὅσσα τε φύλλα καὶ ἄνθεα γίνεται ὥρῃ ‘as many leaves and flowers are born in season’ (Iliad II 468).
[ back ] 26. ὅιη περ φύλλων γενεή, τοίη δὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν. | φύλλα τὰ μέν τ’ ἄνεμος χαμάδις χέει, ἄλλα δέ θ’ ὕλη | τηλεθόωσα φύει, ἔαρος δ’ ἐπιγίνεται ὥρῃ ‘Just as the generations of leaves, so also are the generations of men. The wind sheds the leaves upon the ground, but the tree, ever burgeoning grows, and [the leaves] come in the season of spring’ (Iliad VI 146–148). On the vegetal imagery implied by the verb τελεθόωσα (< θάλλω), see Lowenstam 1979.
[ back ] 27. On Hesiod’s ἕτερος λόγος ‘second story’ and the narrative inconsistencies it raises in terms of his earlier account of Prometheus and Pandora, see West 1978:172–177 and Verdenius 1985:77–79. Verdenius argues that ὁμόθεν places “special perspective” on the “estrangement of men from gods” (78). Rowe (1983) argues convincingly that Hesiod is offering not opposing but complementary narratives to address the same problem of the origin and nature of human mortality.
[ back ] 28. For further citations, see West 1978:178.
[ back ] 29. For a similar representation of gods and men as born ‘from a single mother’ (ἐκ μιᾶς δὲ ... ματρὸς), see Pindar Nemian 6.1–6 with discussion by Hogan and Schenker 2001.
[ back ] 30. Consider, for instance, the motif of “divine twins” born with two fathers, one mortal and one divine: Herakles and Iphicles, sired by Zeus and Amphitryon; Kastor and Polydeuces, sired by Zeus and Tyndareus; and Amphion and Zethos, sired by Zeus and Epopeus. On “divine twins” and the theme of dual paternity, see Ward 1968:3–4, 10–14.
[ back ] 31. Reference to a pre-historical time when men and gods were closer to one another, including intermarriage between the two races and the birth of semi-divine offspring may also be found in the Biblical references to the Nephilim in Genesis 6:1–4: “When men had begun to be plentiful on the earth, and daughters had been born to them, the sons of God, looking at the daughters of men, saw they were pleasing, so they married as many as they chose. Yahweh said, ‘My spirit must not for ever be disgraced in man, for he is but flesh; his life shall last no more than a hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephalim were on the earth at that time (and even afterwards) when the sons of God resorted to the daughters of man, and had children by them. These are the heroes of days gone by, the famous men” (The Jerusalem Bible [New York, 1966]). See Scodel 1982:41–43 and Hendel 1987 for discussion and bibliography.
Commensality with the gods is relegated to the period perhaps shortly before the appearance of the heroic age of Achilles and Hektor. At Iliad IX 535 the gods are said to feast on the hecatombs, but this meal (as noted by Griffin 1980:187n22) belongs to the past, before the coming of the Calydonian boar and the aftermath of the famed hunt. Men and gods both participated in the wedding feast of Peleus and Thetis, but again, this event marks the pre-history of the Iliadic heroes. On the participation of gods at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, see Kypria fr. 3 Davies 1988 = fr. 3 Bernabé 1987, Pindar Pythian 3.86–96, Nemian 4.65–68, 5.22–39, Isthmian 8.46–47. Gods are depicted at the wedding feast on the François Vase. See further Lesky 1956.
[ back ] 32. See Hogan and Schenker 2001 (no pagination): “Particularly suggestive are hints of common dining and amicable gathering. Far from focusing on basic antagonisms in the cosmos, this perspective suggests a social unity symbolized by the shared meal. Mortals dined with the gods, enjoyed their company, received favors from them and put them under social obligation; there was a time, in this mythical perspective, when hospitality was indifferent to boundaries between mortal and immortal.”
[ back ] 33. See Cunliffe 1963:194 and Ebeling 1963:I.579, s.v. θῶκος.
[ back ] 34. On gods feasting with the Aethiopians, see Iliad I 423–424, XXIII 205–207. In Odyssey i 22–26, Poseidon is described as particularly close with the Aethiopians; he participates in the sacrificial offering of bulls and rams (ἀντιόων ταύρων τε καὶ ἀρνειῶν ἑκατόμβης, i 25) and takes pleasure in being present at the feast (ἔνθ’ ὅ γε τέρπετο δαιτὶ παρήμενος, i 26). On the Aethiopians, see the excellent, concise account by S. West 1988:75–76.
[ back ] 35. See Odyssey v 35 = xix 279: Φαιήκων ἐς γαῖαν, οἳ ἀγχίθεοι γεγάασιν ‘to the land of the Phaeacians, who have been born near to the gods.’ Hainsworth (1988) believes that ἀγχίθεοι refers to the ‘Phaeacians’ special relationship with the gods rather than their kinship’ (258, and compare his comment at p. 334 on vii 205). What is important is to note that the relationship is marked by an adverb of spatial proximity.
[ back ] 36. See citations in the preceding note for the Phaeacians as ἀγχίθεοι ‘near to the gods’. Compare Hymn to Aphrodite 200–201 for ἀγχίθεοι indicating a close relationship or similarity in appearance or size: ἀγχίθεοι δὲ μάλιστα καταθνητῶν ἀνθρώπων | αἰεὶ ἀφ’ ὑμετέρης γενεῆς εἶδός τε φυήν τε, ‘Those especially close to gods among mortal men in both look and size are always from your family’. In addition to the Aethiopians and Phaeacians, one may also cite the Hyperboreans, the mythical people imagined to live far to the north, who, like the men of Hesiod’s “golden age,” enjoy freedom from sickness and old age: according to Pindar Pythian 10.41–44, ‘Neither sickness nor destructive old age is mixed with this holy race; they dwell apart from toils and battles, as they avoid the just retribution of Nemesis’ (νόσοι δ’ οὔτε γῆρας οὐλόμενον κέκραται | ἱερᾷ γενεᾷ· πόνων δὲ καὶ μαχᾶν ἄτερ | οἰκέοισι φυγόντες | ὑπέρδικον Νέμεσιν). They are regularly depicted as favored by the gods—especially Apollo—who is himself sometimes given the epithet “the Hyperborean” (e.g. Claudius Aelianus Varia historia 2.26); Leto, Apollo’s mother, is said to come from the land of the Hyperboreans (Aristotle History of Animals 580a18, Diodorus Siculus 2.47, Pausanius 1.18.5, Cicero On the Nature of Gods 3.57)—though Kirk (1990) cautions that Apollo more likely came to Greek mythico-religious traditions from south-west Asia Minor (witness his epithet Lukeios, possibly indicating connection with Lycia) and that his “Hyperborean associations seem to be secondary” (6). The Hyperboreans feast with the gods (Pindar Pythian 10.34–40, Isthmian 6.23, Paean 8.63). Although not quite immortal, they are said to live up to a thousand years (Simonides fr. 570 PMG, Megasthenes FHG 30.30, Strabo 15.57). Homer is silent about the Hyperboreans; Herodotus 4.32 (= Allen 1912:115–116, Testemonium 3) notes that the Hyperboreans figure in the epic poem Epigonoi, but doubts whether the poem was really composed by Homer.
[ back ] 37. Note that Hesiod’s narrative suggests that before this “separation” at Mekone, there was no difference in diet between men and gods: see Kirk 1990:10, “Indeed the Hesiodic tale of the division at Mekone showed that until the end of that golden age of commensality gods and men had eaten, on special occasions at least, the same food: the best cuts, that is, of oxen.” See further Hogan and Schenker 2001:(no pagination) n. 20. Note also that though Hesiod descibes these pre-“separation” men as dying, their death is like sleep: θνῇσκον δ’ ὥσθ’ ὕπνῳ δεδμημένοι, ‘they died as if overcome by sleep’ (Works and Days 116). In an important passage dealing with what the death of a god might be like, Detienne and Vernant 1978:115–116 (= 1974:113–114) argue that, “A divine being cannot die; it can only be bound. What does this binding mean? First, that the god loses one of his principle prerogatives: the power of instantaneous movement ... Even when a god is chained up somewhere within the organized universe, his immobility so utterly reduces his sphere of activity, and his power and being are thus so diminished, that he appears as an enfeebled, impotent, exhausted figure, existing only in that state of quasi-death which sleep represents for the gods” (emphasis added). In other words even though Hesiod’s pre-historical man is mortal, even his death is strikingly like the “death” of a god.
[ back ] 38. The separation between men and gods is also represented in the Greek mythological tradition in terms of former friendships between gods and humans that have soured, such as between Leto and Niobe at Sappho fr. 142 L-P (Λάτω καὶ Νιόβα μάλα μὲν φίλαι ἦσαν ἔταιραι, ‘Leto and Niobe were very dear companions’); compare Sophocles Antigone 832 and see the discussion by Hogan and Schenker 2001.
[ back ] 39. See Vernant 1977:96, “Auparavant la vie des hommes ne connaissait pas le mal: ni travail, ni maladie, ni vieillesse” [‘Formerly, the life of man knew no evil: no work, no sickness, no old age’]. See further Arthur 1982, 1983, and Vernant 1989 on Hesiod’s concept of a world before sacrifice and the separation of men and gods. In spite of the shared tables and sexual consorts, however, Hesiod does suggest that the relative length of lifespan for men and for gods remained different: see Hesiod fr. 1.8–13 M-W, with discussion at West 1985:122–124.
[ back ] 40. I leave aside here the role of emotional pain suffered by gods—though see my discussion in the Introduction above—most especially by goddesses over the fate of their mortal children and/or lovers: Thetis (Achilles, Peleus), Eos (Tithonus, Memnon), Aphrodite (Aeneas, Anchises, Adonis), Kalypso (Odysseus), and Hera, who suffers from envy and hatred of her husband’s many lovers and of at least some of the children born of those illicit unions. However, gods too suffer over the death or suffering of their mortal children: Apollo (for Asklepios), Ares (for Askalaphos), and Zeus (for Sarpedon and Herakles). On the suffering of the goddesses and their relationship to human temporality, see Slatkin 1986, 1991, and Murnaghan 1992 who notes that “Thetis is several times seen grieving in advance over the inevitable death of Achilles, through her shameful and wrenching situation as the mother of a mortal coming as close as any god can to a direct awareness of what it is like to be human” (260–261, emphasis added). See also Bergren 1989 for an analysis of the temporal dimensions of the “blame” Aphrodite suffers through her sexual relations with a mortal and birth of a mortal child. On the death of Ares’ son Askalaphos and Ares’ violent reaction (Iliad XIII 518–525, XV 100–148), see Lowenstam 1981:119–125, and my discussion below.
[ back ] 41. See Iliad V 127–128: Athena clears the mist away which hides the gods from mortal view. Virgil copies this motif brilliantly, as he depicts Venus removing the mist from Aeneas’ eyes, revealing the gods dismantling the city (Aeneid 2.604–606).
[ back ] 42. Note especially the close parallels Fenik (1968) draws between Aphrodite’s wounding and that of Deiphobos at Iliad XIII 527–539: both are wounded in the arm, both drop what they were holding (Aeneas, Askalaphos’ helmet), both are led away from the battlefield on chariots, and both are described as bleeding and in pain (40). Kirk (1990) sees the wounding of Aphrodite as a “parody” of typical battlefield encounters between men (96).
[ back ] 43. The verb ἀντιτορέω is used primarily to describe the act of a burglar ‘breaking into’ a house by gouging his way through a wall: compare Iliad X 267 (πυκινὸν δόμον ἀντετορήσας ‘he gouged his way into a compact house’), Hymn to Hermes 178 (μέγαν δόμον ἀντιτορήσων ‘I will gouge my way into his great house’), and 283 (ἀντιτοροῦντα δόμους εὖ ναιετάοντας ‘gouging your way into well-dwelled houses’). What is essential here is the sense of penetrating through an object from one side to the other. The verbal root *τορ- can also be used to describe the ‘piercing’ act of stabbing through other objects, including shields or flesh—consider especially the compound adjective ῥινοτόρος at Iliad XXI 392, an epithet of Ares. Scholia D at Iliad XXI 392 thinks the term refers to the fighter who pierces shields, which are called ῥινοί because they are made out of ox-hide; Scholia A, b, and T at Iliad XXI 392, however, think the term refers not to shields made of ox hide, but to human flesh itself, and hence interpret the epithet as ‘he who pierces through human flesh’ (ὁ τιτρώσκων τὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων δέρμα, Scholia A at Iliad XXI 392). Compare also Iliad XI 236 for a spear thrust that ‘did not pierce through a belt’ (οὐδ᾿ ἔτορε ζωστῆρα), and Hymn to Hermes 119 where the god ‘pierced through the marrow’ (δι᾿ αἰῶνας τετορήσας) of cattle he sacrifices, stabbing them with a sharp instrument. See Ebeling 1963:I.138, s.v. ἀντιτορέω, II.264, s.v. ῥινοτόρος, II.340, s.v. τορέω.
[ back ] 44. For Achilles’ ‘immortal armor’ (ἄμβροτα τεύχεα), see Iliad XVII 194, 202. Achilles’ armor, a wedding-gift made by Hephaistos (XVIII 83–85) and presented to Achilles’ father Peleus when he married Thetis, is one of several gifts of the gods, such as Achilles’ horses (XVI 381 = XVI 867) and Penelope’s cosmetics (Odyssey xviii 191), which are likewise specified as ambrota ‘immortal’. What is significant, however, is that neither Achilles’ ‘immortal’ armor nor Aphrodite’s ‘immortal’ robe are able to render their wearers impervious to weapons; note further that Patroklos and Hektor both die while wearing Achilles’ first set of armor, and Achilles will die while wearing his second set god-made of armor.
[ back ] 45. In the conclusion of their argument, Jouanna and Demont (1981) argue that Iliad V 340 is either an ancient interpolation (202) or at very least should not be taken to mean that all ikhōr is ‘gods’ blood’ but rather, that god’s blood is a species of ikhōr which must be understood to mean ‘serum’. Their analysis is in line with that of Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, who argued that “ἰχώρ cannot be a foreign word for blood; discussion must not start with the well-known Homeric passage but with Hippocrates and the later physicians” (Litteris, Vol. I [Lund 1924] 4, cited and translated at Fraenkel 1962:702). See Heubeck 1984:109–111 for discussion. However, the materials collected by Zannini Quirini (1983) support reading ἰχώρ as the god’s blood: Prometheus, the Giants, the monster Talon, and even the line of Tantalos are all described as bleeding ikhōr (see Zannini Quirini 1983:355–357 for citations and discussion; further citations at Kleinlogel 1981:264–265 with n. 37–38).
[ back ] 46. The conflicts are described as “bloodless, without bloodshed” in litotes—i.e. a battle was not without bloodshed. See Koller 1967:149–150 for further discussion.
[ back ] 47. On the difference in “dietary rules” implying a difference in the “anatomo-physiology” between men and gods, see Sissa and Detienne 2000:29–30. However, Sissa and Detienne go on to argue that even if men and gods are marked as different in kind because of the substance that runs in their veins, “haima constitutes an exception” for “Apart from the matter of blood, everything in the bodies of mortals and in those of the Immortals corresponds perfectly” (30–31). See also the association between diet and blood in King 1986, esp. 25–26, who analyzes the myth of how Tithonos became a cicada—a creature said to live without food but only on dew—in the context of Aristotle’s theories of blood in the History of Animals and Parts of Animals.
[ back ] 48. βροτός has been demonstrated to be related to the Indo-European root *mṛto-, the root indicating mortal; the Greek term ambrosia ‘not mortal’ is supported by the well-attested Vedic cognate amṛ́tam which denotes the food or drink of the gods which bestows immortality upon them. See Chantraine 1958:24 and 1968–1980:197–198, s.v. βροτός, who suggests an Indo-European root *mer which figures in Latin morior, Sanskrit mriyáte, old Slavic mǐrǫ, Lithuanian mìrštu, Armenian meŕanim; see Leumann 1950:127 for the same derivation. See further Watkins 1995:392 with n. 1, and my discussion in chapter 2 above.
[ back ] 49. The Homeric noun βρότος ‘blood, gore’ is without secure etymology (Chantraine 1968–1980:198, s.v. βρότος); it appears in only two phrases: βρότον αἱματόεντα ‘bloody blood/gore’ (Iliad VII 425, XIV 7, XVIII 345, XXIII 41) and ἀπονίψοντες μέλανα βρότον ἐξ ὠτειλέων ‘washing dark blood/gore from wounds’ (Odyssey xxiv 189). See Ebeling 1963:241, s.v. βρότος for citations of pertinent scholia. See also the related participle βροτόεις in the form ἔναρα βροτόεντα ‘bloodied spoil’ (Iliad VI 480; cf. XIV 509, ps.-Hesiod Shield of Herakles 367) and βεβροτωμένα τεύχεα ‘blood-stained armor’ (Odyssey xi 41).
[ back ] 50. Leumann 1950:124–127, Onians 1954:506–507, Vermeule 1979:124, Kleinlogel 1981:270–273, Clay 1983:143–145, Loraux 1986:489–491. See Louden 1995 for an analysis of modes of Homeric “wordplay” including figura etymologica as here with βροτός, βρότος, and ἄμβροτον αἷμα.
[ back ] 51. On the temporality of physical pain, see the important work of Toombs (1990, 1992), who builds on Sartre’s and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological analyses of “the lived body.” See further Schrag 1982 and Leder 1984–1985, 1992, Fuchs 2003, 2005b, Wyllie 2005a. On the “rhythm” of pain, consider Sartre’s (1956) comparison of pain with melody as objects experienced through time: “each concrete pain is like a note in a melody: it is at once the whole melody and a ‘moment’ in the melody. Across each pain I apprehend the entire illness and yet it transcends them all, for it is the synthetic totality of all pains, the theme which is developed by them and through them” (336).
[ back ] 52. Compare XV 16: ὀδυνάων αἳ νῦν μιν τείρουσι κατὰ φρένας ‘pains which now wear him down in his wits’.
[ back ] 53. Compare XVI 510: τεῖρε γὰρ αὐτὸν ἕκλος ‘for the wound was wearing him down’.
[ back ] 54. Compare XXII 242: ἔνδοθι θυμὸς ἐτείρετο πένθεϊ λυγρῷ, ‘his heart within him was being worn down by heavy sorrow’.
[ back ] 55. Compare Hesiod fr. 298 M-W: δεινὸς γάρ μιν ἔτειρεν ἔρως Πανοπηίδος Αἴγλης, ‘for a terrible desire for Aiglē, daughter of Panopeus, was wearing him [sc. Theseus] down’.
[ back ] 56. Compare V 796: ἱδρὼς γάρ μιν ἔτειρεν ‘for the sweat was wearing him down’; XVII 745: ἐν δὲ θυμός | τείρεθ’ ὁμοῦ καμάτῳ τε καὶ ἱδρῷ σπευδόντεσσιν, ‘and in them the heart is being worn down at the same time by hard work and by sweat as they work on in seriousness’.
[ back ] 57. Compare Iliad IV 315: ἀλλά σε γῆρας τείρει, ‘but old age is wearing you down’.
[ back ] 58. On the typical representation of the movement of gods and goddesses—especially Thetis, Aphrodite, and Hera—who ‘dart’ (ἀίσσω) or ‘fly’ (πέτομαι) and are described as moving ‘swiftly’ (with the adverb καρπαλίμως and adjective ὠκύς), see Purves 2006a:194–195 with bibliography.
[ back ] 59. See the citations at Liddell, Scott, and Jones 1996:296, s.v. ἄχθος, and consider the cognate compounds ἀχθοφορέω, ἀχθοφορία, and ἀχθοφόρος.
[ back ] 60. See Kirk 1985:101, “Hades himself is wounded ἐν τοῖσι, i.e. as one of those divine victims, again by arrow-shot.”
[ back ] 61. See Molyneux 1972, esp. 303–313, and Pavlou 2008:545–554, both of whom note specific stylistic features in Pindar that suggest a single occurence: e.g. the identification of ἀμφὶ Πύλον σταθείς (31) without mention of other location, emphatic repetition of ἤριδεν (31, 32), the lack of any phrase like δ’ αὖ to mark a new theme, and the apparent three-fold ἁνίκα clause governing ἤριδε (31), ἤριδεν δέ (32), and οὐδ’ ... ἔχε (33) which would indicate a single occasion (“when X and Y and Z happened”). However, it is possible that Pindar has conflated separate incidents, since the mythological biography of Herakles includes separate conflicts with various gods, including Ares (ps.-Hesiod Shield of Herakles 359–367), Hera (Lycophron Alexandria 39–40 with scholia), Apollo who refused to give Herakles an oracle because of miasma (Scholia at Pindar Olympian 9.43, 44a, 48, ps.-Apollodorus 2.6.2, Cicero On the Nature of the Gods 3.42, Plutarch Moralia 378d, Pausanius 3.21.8, 10.13.7), and Hades who refused to allow Herakles to take Kerberos (Scholia bT at Iliad V 395–397; compare Scholia at Pindar Olympian 9.43, 44a, 48). See also Gantz 1993:413–414 for a description of a now lost Corinthian cotyle of the early 6th century BCE which depicted Herakles menacing Hades with his bow in one hand and a stone raised in the other. See further the series of 5th century vases collected by John Boardman under “Heracles” no. 3488–3497 in Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae depicting Herakles with, shaking hands with, or carrying a man with a cornucopia, identified by Boardman as “Palaimon,” though Gantz suggests the figure is a representation of Hades. Gantz interprets the iconography: “not impossibly Herakles, after wounding the lord of the Underworld, takes him up to the earth or Olympos to be cured” (456), or following Lactantius’ claim that Herakles took the cornucopia—which he broke off of Achelous’ head—with him when he went to Hades (Scholia at Statius Thebaid 4.106), Gantz notes “we might also ask if in some sources Herakles did not present the cornucopia to Hades as a gift or compensation for his wound, thus serving to justify the god’s possession of this familiar attribute in fifth-century art” (456).
[ back ] 62. See Pavlou 2008:551n68. Pavlou finds the parallels between Homer and Pindar striking enough to suggest that “Pindar might have had [Iliad] Book 5 and Dione’s narrative in mind while composing his poem.” Molyneux (1972) also notes the similarities, and tries to account for the anomolous appearance of Apollo as “an imperfect reminiscence” of V 401–404 and the appearance in Dione’s narrative of Paieon as he heals Hades’ wound (310n23).
[ back ] 63. In ps.-Hesiod’s Shield of Herakles 359–367, Herakles wounds Ares ‘above sandy Pylos’ (ὑπὲρ Πύλου ἠμαθόεντος).
[ back ] 64. Scholia A at Iliad XI 690, Erbse: συνεμάχουν δὲ τῷ μὲν Νηλεῖ τρεῖς Θεοί, Ποσειδῶν Ἥρα Ἀιδωνεύς, ὡς καὶ ἐν τῇ E φησί, τῷ δὲ Ἡρακλεῖ δύο, Ἀθηνᾶ καὶ Ζεύς ‘Three gods were fighting alongside Neleus—Poseidon, Hera, and Hades—as also [Homer] says in Book V, and two were fighting alongside Herakles—Athena and Zeus’. Scholia bT at Iliad V 392–394a1–2 and Scholia A at Iliad XI 690 provide the only evidence regarding Hera’s participation in the battle with Herakles at Pylos (as noted by Willcock 1978–1984:I.236; cf. Iliad V 392–400 for Herakles wounding Hera), but various other sources provide corroboration of Herakles’ fight with Hades: see Pindar Olympian 9.33 with scholia, ps.-Apollodorus 2.7.3, and Pausanias 6.25.2 in addition to the Homeric scholia cited above. It appears that Aristarchus (Scholia T at Iliad V 397) took ἐν Πύλῳ ἐν νεκύεσσι to refer to the ‘gate’ of the land of the dead, as if ἐν Πύλῳ = ἐν πύλῃ [sc. Ἀΐδαο]; for the ‘gates of Hades’, see Iliad V 646, XXIII 71 and compare IX 312. The reference to “Pylos” (or “the gate [of the underworld]”) remains unclear; Pausanias 6.25.2 suggests a third possibility, the Eleian Pylos where Hades had a temple.
[ back ] 65. On the concept of traditional “mythological biographies” of heroes, see most recently Burgess 2009 with bibliography.
[ back ] 66. I follow Ameis, Hentze, and Cauer 1965:69n394 in reading καί here as adverbial. Compare further the numerous Homeric examples of ὅτε ‘when’ paired with καὶ τότε ‘even then’ or ‘then also’ at Kühner and Gerth 1963:255–256.
[ back ] 67. On the form, see Chantraine 1968–1980:49, s.v. ἄκος, and on s-stem nouns more generally, Meissner 2006. On the temporal aspects of the privative prefix ἀ-, see my discussion in the Introdution above (with bibliography).
[ back ] 68. Note that in this passage (Hesiod Theogony 955), the adjective ἀπήμαντος is an analogical variation for ἀθάνατος in the formula ἀθάνατος καὶ ἄγηρος: see West 1966:419.
[ back ] 69. For this characterization of the body of the gods, see Clay 1982, Vernant 1991:27–49, and Sissa and Detienne 2000.
[ back ] 70. See Scarry 1985:22 on the connection between physical pain and human sentience, “the felt-fact of aliveness.” Note that—at least from a Heideggerian viewpoint—sentience is nothing other than the experience of finite human temporality, that is, of being-in-the-world (cf. Heidegger 1962:38–40, 45–49, 277–278, 374–382, 418–423). Significantly, Scarry (citing Deuteronomy 4:28, Habukkuk 2:18, 19, Hosea 11:8, and Jeremiah 8:21, 9:1, 9:17, 18, 10:14, 19, 20, 42:12, 15, 17, 51:17) goes on to discuss the representation of God in Christian religious texts as possessing sentience, which entails the suffering of physical pain: “He [sc. God] now not only reminds his people that he is alive, that he sees, moves, hears, breathes (and by implication, even eats, for the absence of this attribute is included in his denunciation of wooden and stone objects), but even that he experiences the most passive, extreme, and unselfobjectifying form of sentience, physical pain” (Scarry 1985:230–231, emphasis added).
Emotional suffering produces the same effect of drawing a divinity into human temporality. See especially Schein’s analysis of Achilles’ immortal horses as they mourn over the fallen Patroklos (Iliad XVII 432–440): “Although as immortals the horses should be immune to death and the ravages of time, their tears and the language in which they are described make them seem virtually human in their suffering” (Schein 2002:197). Schein argues persuasively that the image of Achilles’ immortal horses with their beautiful manes ‘stained’ (ἐμαίνετο, XVII 439) with dust are an image of “the contradiction between this immortality and their participation in the sorrows of human existence” (198). On this interpretation, see also Thalmann 1984:48–49, Purves 2006a:187–188, and my discussion in the Introduction above. Note that although ‘the two [horses] away from their manes cast the dust to the ground’ (τὼ δ’ ἀπὸ χαιτάων κονίην οὖδάσδε βαλόντε, XVII 457), they do not quite recover from being tainted with mortal pain and suffering, for we hear later that the horses cannot compete in Patroklos’ funeral games because ‘the two stand grieving for him, and their manes have reached down to rest on the ground, and the two of them stand with sorrow in their hearts’ (τὸν τώ γ’ ἑσταότες πενθείετον, οὔδεϊ δέ σφιν | χαῖται ἐρηρέδαται, τὼ δ’ ἕστατον ἀχνυμέω κῆρ, XXIII 283–284). Once “stained” with mortal time through mourning for the accomplished death of Patroklos and the forthcoming death of Achilles, the immortal horses never quite recover (cf. Schein 2002:200).
[ back ] 71. *Τλάω is a rich verbal stem that appears in root theme I (*telh 2) expressed as τελα- (e.g. τελαμών ‘strap, belt’), root theme II (*tleh 2) expressed as τλᾱ-/τλη- (e.g. ἔτλη ‘he endured’, the athematic root aorist, πολύ-τλητος ‘much enduring’), root theme III (*tlh 2) expressed as ταλα- (e.g. τάλας ‘suffering, wretched’ and ἀταλός ‘tender, delicate’), and even an o-grade (cf. τολμάω ‘undertake, endure, submit, dare’ and τολμά ‘courage, daring’); the semantics of the word family suggest a basic meaning of ‘bear up’. See Beekes 1969:200–201, Palmer 1996:219–220, and my discussion in the Introduction.
[ back ] 72. See Ebeling 1963:61–62, s.v. ἀκέομαι and 126, s.v. ἀνήκεστος; Chantraine 1968–1980:49–50, s.v. ἄκος; on the form of the verbal adjective in –τος, see Risch 1974:19–25 (§10).
[ back ] 73. See West 2001:192, “indeed, the idea of his [sc. Hades’] ever entering Olympus is startling.” Nevertheless, West defends Iliad V 398–402 against Koechly’s condemnation of these verses by noting the general concord with the “rhetorical structure” of the surrounding context, since after Dione tells Aphrodite how Paieon healed Hades, Dione herself goes on to heal Aphrodite. See also Gantz 1993:70–71 on the rape of Persephone as the only “certain appearance” of Hades outside of the underworld. The Iliad itself indicates the unusual appearance of Hades outside of the underworld, as at the beginning of the Theomakhia of the gods (Iliad XX 54–66) Hades is afraid (ἔδεισεν, XX 61) that Poseidon might break open the earth (γαῖαν ἀναρρήξειε, XX 63) and the terrible, mouldering homes of the dead (οἰκία ... σμερδαλέ’ εὐρώεντα, XX 64–65)—a sight ever hateful to the gods (τά τε στυγέουσι θεοί περ, XX 65)—might become visible (φανείη, XX 64) to humans on earth and gods in heaven.
[ back ] 74. The adjective ὀδυνήφατα occurs only two more times in Homer: once at Iliad V 900 (= V 401) where Paieon ‘cures’ the pain of another god, Ares, when he is wounded by Diomedes, and again at Iliad XI 847 where Patroklos cures Eurypylus’ pains with a special root: “And he cast a bitter root upon him, a pain-killer (ὀδυνήφατον), and rubbed it in thoroughly with his hand; it held back all his pains (ἔσχ’ ὀδύνας); the wound dried, and the blood stopped (παύσατο δ’ αἷμα)” (XI 846–848). Patroklos’ pain-killing drugs are themselves from a divine source, for, we are told, he learned about these ‘gentle drugs’ (ἤπια φάρμακα, XI 830) from Achilles (XI 831), who, in turn, learned them from the immortal centaur Chiron, the venerable trainer of heroes (on Chiron and the education of Achilles, see Hesiod fr. 204.87–89 M-W, Pindar Pythian 6.21–23, Nemian 3.43–53, Hainsworth 1993:310, and Mackie 1997). These drugs, then—both the φάρμακα Paieon sprinkles on Hades and again later on Ares and the ῥίζα πικρή ‘bitter root’ Patroklos rubs into Eurypylus’ wound—are special, something more than mortal. They and they alone have the power to “cure” Hades’ pains and to “hold back the pains” and stanch the blood-flow of the injured Eurypylus. It requires divine force to rescue the wounded god from mortal temporality, just as the same “pain-killing drugs” rescue humans from death itself.
[ back ] 75. Compare the discussion by Eliade 1969:92–124 on the sovereign god in Indo-European mythology who “punishes by ‘bondage’ (that is, by illness or impotence) anyone who infringes the law, and is guardian of the universal order” (97). For further associations between “binding” and death, see Eliade 1969:99, 101, 105, 107, 109–110.
[ back ] 76. For an interpretation of θυμός as ‘breath, breath-soul or spirit’, see Onians 1954:44–45, Caswell 1990:7–8, 12–16, and Clarke 1999:75–83. Clarke cites Iliad I 593 (ὀλίγος ... θυμὸς ἐνῆεν) as evidence of how “an exhausted man has little breath” and compares Odyssey v 456–458 where Odysseus lies breathless with exhaustion (ὁ δ’ ἄρ’ ἄπνευστος καὶ ἄναυδος ‘So he lay breathless and speechless’) but then recovers his breath (ἀλλ’ ὅτε δή ῥ’ ἄμπνυτο καὶ ἐς φρένα θυμὸς ἀγέρθη ‘but when he indeed returned to consciousness and his breath was gathered into his lungs’) (Clarke 1999:78). Scholia D at Iliad I 593 (van Thiel) points to a similar association between θυμός and life/breath when it glosses ὀλίγος δ’ ἔτι θυμὸς ἐνῆεν ‘and there was little θυμός still in me’ as ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐλειποψύχουν ‘[Homer says this] instead of ‘I was losing my breath [psukhē]’’. See Nehring 1947 for an analysis of how one’s θυμός only leaves one’s body in death; when one is knocked unconscious, the θυμός is not lost, but merely weakened or dulled. When one recovers, his θυμός is likewise ‘gathered up’ again: cf. θυμὸς ἀγέρθη (Iliad IV 152, XXII 475; Odyssey v 458, xxiv 349), ἐσαγείρετο θυμόν (Iliad XV 240, XXI 417), θυμηγερέων (Odyssey vii 283).
[ back ] 77. Garland 1981, esp. 47 with Figure 2 and 56 with Tables 7–8. By Garland’s count, the loss of θυμός figures in 40 out of a total 88 passages describing “biological death” in the Iliad; a glance at Garland’s Figure 2 (47) shows that the loss of θυμός is by far the most common way to express death in the Iliad.
[ back ] 78. See Edwards 1991:192, “At 1.590–4 Hephaistos tells how Zeus (his father, Odyssey 8.312) hurled him from Olympos when he tried to help Hera, and the Sinties took care of him on Lemnos; in this version the fall must have caused his lameness” (emphasis added). See also Purves 2006a:197–200.
[ back ] 79. At Iliad VIII 402 and 416 Zeus threatens to “make lame” the horses drawing Hera and Athena to the Trojan plain as they ride to bring help to the Achaeans. Kirk 1985:114 ponders whether the verb is “itself perhaps derived from the assumption that the ancient description of Hephaistos ἀμφιγυήεις, must mean ‘crippled’ in some sense.” The exact meaning of ἀμφιγυήεις remains disputed: see Hainsworth 1988:366–367 at Odyssey viii 300 for bibliography. However, the other evidence which points to a lame Hephaistos (which I discuss below) is compelling.
[ back ] 80. κυλλοποδίων is the diminutive form of the compound κυλλός ‘crooked’ + ποδ- (πούς). See Ebeling 1963:I.938–939, s.v. κυλλοποδίων and Chantraine 1968–1980:598–599, s.v. κυλλός. On the formation of the denominative in –ων, see Risch 1974:56–57 (§24c).
[ back ] 81. See also Odyssey viii 308, 332. The same adjective is used to describe Thersites who is ‘lame in one foot’ (χωλὸς ἕτερον πόδα, Iliad II 217). See further Hymn to Apollo 315–316 where Hephaistos is described by Hera as ῥικνὸς πόδας ‘shriveled up in his feet’; although the hymn claims Hephaistos’ lameness to be a birth-defect rather than the result of his fall, the image of the damaged god remains consistent with that of a god wounded from falling to earth. In Hymn to Apollo 316 Hephaistos is also called ἠπεδανός ‘weak’. Cunliffe 1963:126, 182, s.vv., ἔμπεδος, ἠπεδανός, suggests a connection with ἔμπεδος ‘in place, steady’ implying something like ‘not firm on one’s feet’. However, see Risch 1974:106 on the formation of adjectives in –εδανός (as ῥῑγ-εδανή ‘horrible, something to shudder at’ at Iliad XIX 325 next to ῥῖγος ‘cold’ and ῥῑγέω ‘to shudder at in cold or fear’), and the assumption of a root *ἦπος, perhaps cognate with Lithuanian opus ‘soft, receptive, invalid’ and Sanskrit ap u vā́ ‘mortal fear’ (cf. Beekes 2010:522, s.v. ἠπεδανός with bibliography). See my discussion below on the close association between Hephaistos and Typhoeus/Typhaon who was also injured through falling; Hymn to Apollo pairs the two gods functionally as children born to Hera in response to Zeus’ delivery of Athena from his head.
[ back ] 82. On the François Vase, see Boardman 1974:44 plate 46.7, discussion at 218. See also the representation of Hephaistos’ crippled feet on a Laconian cup from Ialysus by the Boreads Painter (Rhodes 10711, at Boardman 1998:207 plate 419) and a Caeretan hydria by the Eagle Painter (Vienna 3577, at Boardman 1998:252 plate 495.11). See further Brommer 1978:11, 16, Himmelmann 1998:58–59, 129n5, and most recently, Fineberg 2009.
[ back ] 83. Detienne and Vernant 1978:259–275, 300 offer a different explanation for Hephaistos’ curved feet. According to their analysis, “The peculiar shape of his feet is the visible symbol of his mētis, his wise thoughts and his craftsman’s intelligence ... In order to dominate shifting, fluid powers such as fire, winds and minerals which the blacksmith must cope with, the intelligence and mētis of Hephaestus must be even more mobile and polymorphic than these” (272–273). I do not disagree with this analysis, but merely wish to emphasize that within the Iliad, Hephaistos’ lame feet are closely linked with his fall. There is not necessarily any real dissonance between these two readings, since gods in Greek mythology who bring the craft of divine fire to mankind—including Prometheus in addition to Hephaistos, both culture gods in this respect (see Detienne and Vernant 1978:280)—are depicted as enemies of Zeus. Part of the craft-god’s mētis, then, appears to be the dissemination of an illicit knowledge to mankind.
[ back ] 84. Hephaistos’ lameness is also emphasized throughout Iliad XVIII as he bustles about to make new armor for Achilles: see XVIII 387, 411, 417–421. On Hephaistos’ energetic hustling about as an index of his involvement with human temporality, see Purves 2006a:200 with n. 63–65.
[ back ] 85. On the Titans, see esp. West 1966:200–201, where he explains: “The essential characteristics of the Titans are that they represent an older generation of gods, ‘the former gods’ ([Theogony] 424, 486), and that they are no longer active in the world, but dwell in Tartarus ([Theogony] 729ff., 814)” (200). The Iliadic tradition also places the Titans underground and within Tartaros: θεοὺς ... τοὺς ὑποταρταρίους, οἳ Τιτῆνες καλέονται ‘the gods below in Tartaros, who are called ‘Titans’; (Iliad XIV 279). For discussion, see Janko 1994:195–196. On Zeus’ battle with the Titans, see West 1966:336–338, who notes that “A war of gods ... marks the end of an age: the old gods are killed, or imprisoned, and a new régime begins” (337).
[ back ] 86. On Tartaros as prison, see West 1966:357–358. Caldwell 1987:105 calls it “a prison for oedipal criminals.” See further Northrup 1979, Harrell 1991, Johnson 1999, and my discussion of Tartaros and Ares’ bronze jar below.
[ back ] 87. According to ps.-Apollodorus 1.6.3, Typhoeus temporarily overcomes Zeus and removes the sinews from his body and places them in a container. Hermes steals the sinews and returns them to Zeus’ body. According to Nonnus Dionysiaca 1.481–512, Kadmos disguised himself as a shepherd and won back Zeus’ sinews from Typhoeus under the pretext of needing them for the strings of a lyre with which he could play for the monster. Caldwell 1978:46 offers a convincing psychological reading of the succession motif in Typhoeus’ temporary defeat of Zeus and argues “the theft by Typhoeus of Zeus’ sinews” is “a sexual crime, an attack on the father’s sexual prerogatives,” especially when we consider the uses of νεῦρον ‘sinew’ as a metaphor for ‘phallos’ (cf. Henderson 1991:116 with n47–49 and Nonnos Dionysiaca 493 for νεῦρα … σφριγόωντα ‘swelling sinew’).
[ back ] 88. ἤριπε is the aorist indicative active of ἐρείπειν ‘to fall’ often used to indicate the moment when a dead body falls in combat: Iliad IV 493; V 47, 58, 68, 75, 294, 357; VIII 122, 260, 314; XI 743; XV 452; XVI 319, 344; XVII 619; XXII 330. It can be used for non-fatal blows in combat as when warriors fall only to one knee (IV 309, VIII 329, XI 355; see Purves 2006a:184n17) or to describe the non-fatal collapse of a fighter in boxing competition (XXIII 691). The verb is often used in similes likening the falling body of a dying warrior to other falling objects, including trees (III 389, XIV 414, XVI 482, XXI 243), a tower (IV 462), and an ox killed in ritual sacrifice (XVII 522). The verb is used only twice to indicate falling in a non-martial context, though with deathly implications: the hair of Achilles’ horses ‘falls’ from either side of the yoke-pad (XVII 440), and Andromache ‘falls’ when she learns of the death of Hektor (XXII 467). For a fuller list of verbs meaning ‘to fall’ (including forms of πίπτω, ἀναπίπτω, καταπίπτω, ἐκπίπτω, ἐμπίπτω, and ἐρείπειν) in the Iliad, see Purves 2006a:183–184 with nn10–17; for a discussion of falling and the experience of death in the Iliad, see Purves 2006a, passim.
[ back ] 89. See Hymn to Apollo 311–315, “Hear me, all you gods and all you goddesses, how cloud-gathering Zeus begins to dishonor me (ἔμ’ ἀτιμάζειν), when he made me his wife who knows careful ways. And yet now apart from me (νόσφιν ἐμεῖο) he has given birth (τέκε) to bright-eyed Athena, who is outstanding among all the blessed immortals.” See also Hesiod fr. 343 M-W where the birth of Hephaistos appears in the context of a quarrel between Hera and Zeus over the birth of Athena: ἐκ ταύτης δ’ ἔριδος ἣ μὲν τέκε φαίδιμον υἱὸν | Ἥφαιστον, φιλότητος ἄτερ Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο, | ἐκ πάντων παλάμῃσι κεκασμένον Οὐρανιώνων, ‘And as a result of this quarrel, she [sc. Hera] gave birth to her glorious son Hephaistos, without the love-making of aegis-bearing Zeus, the most outstanding of all the sons of Ouranos with his hands’ (Hesiod fr. 343.1–3 M-W).
[ back ] 90. Compare Iliad XVIII 394–409 for a similar version of Hephaistos’ fall due to his lameness: ἥ μ’ ἐσάωσ’ ὅτε μ’ ἄλγος ἀφίκετο τῆλε πεσόντα | μητρὸς ἐμῆς ἰότητι κυνώπιδος, ἥ μ’ ἐθέλησε | κρύψαι χωλὸν ἐόντα ‘She [sc. Thetis] saved me when pain came upon me as I fell so far through the will of my dog-faced mother who wanted to hide me away since I was lame’ (XVIII 395–397). On the association between Hera’s parthenogenetic delivery and the creation of “oedipal conflict between father and son,” the key element in the succession motif of early Greek theogonic/cosmological thought, see Caldwell 1978:52, 54.
[ back ] 91. See Edwards 1991:192–193, Edmunds 1993:26–27 and 1997:421–422. For a reconciliation between the two narratives, see Caldwell 1978, esp. 52–58. See Braswell 1971:20–21 and Willcock 1977:44n16 for an argument that the two narratives of Hephaistos’ fall are not true multiforms, but that at least one of them is non-traditional ad hoc invention by Homer to provide motivation for characters’ actions (narrative of the first fall = consolatio for Hera; narrative of the second fall = motive for Hephaistos to make armor for Thetis).
[ back ] 92. For a different solution, see Rinon 2008 who suggests that the two narratives in the Iliad in fact represent two different falls, not two different versions of the same fall. Hence, according to Rinon, Hera throws a Hephaistos already made lame (χῶλον εὄντα, XVIII 39) by a previous fall because “the mere presence of Hephaestus is a disgusting reflection of the goddess’s failure in the quarrel with her husband, for her defeat is eternally inscribed in her son’s deformed legs” (129).
[ back ] 93. See Caldwell 1987:116 where he notes how Hera gives birth to Hephaistos and Typhoeus “in the same way and for the same reason” (116).
[ back ] 94. It is productive to consider Prometheus, another fire god punished by Zeus, as similarly filling the role of “oedipal” challenger to Zeus’ authority, after he steals fire from Zeus and gives it to mankind. For the many similarities between Prometheus and Hephaistos, including the close associations between their cults in Attica, see Caldwell 1978:44, 58n5–13. Note that Prometheus is nearly cast into Tartaros: see Aeschylus Prometheus Bound 154, 1051–1052 with discussion at Detienne and Vernant 1978:81–82. See further Whitman 1970:41–42 with n. 11 and Fontenrose 1974:539 on the connection between Hephaistos, Typhoeus, and Prometheus as fire-gods. Fontenrose argues, “This is a theme observed before, kinship and conflict between the champion and the artisan god ... it is also Zeus against Prometheus or Hephaestus or Typhon. For Typhon, we should remember, was born of Hera in the same manner of Hephaestus, and is in part a fire demon; and fire deities tend to become divine smiths and artisans” (539).
[ back ] 95. “But even wisdom is enthralled to gain. Gold appearing in his hands with its lordly wage prompted even him [sc. Asklepios] to bring back from death a man already carried off. But then, with a cast (ῥίψαις) from his hands, Kronos’ son took the breath from both men’s breasts in an instant; the flash of lightning (κεραυνός) hurled down doom (μόρον)” (trans. Race 1997).
[ back ] 96. “Zeus is the cause, since he killed (κατακτάς) my son Asklepios, when he struck him in the chest with a lightning bolt (φλόγα). Indeed, because I was angry at this (οὗ δὴ χολωθείς), I killed (κτείνω: historic present) the Cyclopes, the architects of Zeus’ fire.” Apollo goes on to explain how he was punished by being forced to become a servant of Admetus, but does not suggest that Zeus first plotted to “cast him into Tartaros” as we find in Hesiod, ps.-Apollodorus, and elsewhere.
[ back ] 97. See also the account by Zenobius: Διὰ γοῦν τὸ μὴ δόξαι τοῦτον παρ’ ἀνθρώποις εἶναι θεὸν, ὁ Ζεὺς ἐκεραύνωσεν· Ἀπόλλων δὲ ὀργισθεὶς κτείνει Κύκλωπας τοὺς τὸν κεραυνὸν κατασκευάσαντας τῷ Διί. Ζεὺς δὲ ἐμέλλησε ῥίπτειν αὐτὸν εἰς Τάρταρον, ἀλλὰ δεηθείσης Λητοῦς ἐκέλευσεν αὐτῷ ἐνιαυτὸν ἀνδρὶ θητεῦσαι ‘Therefore, because he didn’t think it was advisable for [Asklepios] to be a god among men, Zeus struck him with a lightning bolt. Apollo was enraged and killed the Cyclopes who fashioned the thunderbolt for Zeus. Now Zeus was about to hurl him into Tartaros, but by Leto’s pleading, he ordered him to be a servant to a man for a year” (Zenobius Epitome collectionum Lucilli Tarrhaei et Didymi 1.18.10–15, Schneidewin and von Leutsch).
[ back ] 98. Compare Pindar Pythian 3.54–58, cited above, and note that in Zenobius’ narrative (cited in the preceding note), Zeus expresses anxiety that Asclepius is being treated like ‘a god among men’ (τοῦτον παρ’ ἀνθρώποις εἶναι θεόν).
[ back ] 99. See further Hesiod frr. 51–52, 54–58.4 M-W with commentary ad loc., West 1985:68, 70, and Harrell 1991:312–313, esp. 313n17. Compare also Hesiod fr. 30 M-W, ps.-Apollodorus 1.9.7, Diodorus Siculus 4.68.2, Virgil Aeneid 6.585–589 (with commentary by Servius), and Hyginus Fabulae 61 for reference to a narrative in which Zeus strikes Salmoneus, son of Aeolus, with lightning and casts him into Tartaros because Salmoneus was imitating the god and appropriating the trappings of his divine power. Sophocles wrote a Satyr-play (Σαλμωνεὺς σατυρικός) on the subject (Sophocles frr. 537–541a Radt).
[ back ] 100. I print here Hesiod fr. 54a + 57 M-W as read by Most 2007:122 as his Hesiod fr. 58.
[ back ] 101. The reading of the Hesiod fragment is further corroborated by Philodemus On Pity 34 (= Hesiod fr. 54b M-W): Ἡσίοδος δέ καὶ Ἀκουσίλαος μέλλειν μὲν εἰς τὸν Τάρταρον ὑπὸ τοῦ Διὸς ἐμβληθῆναι ‘But Hesiod and Acusilaus (2 F 19) say that [Apollo] was about to be thrown into Tartaros by Zeus’. For Apollo as a potential challenger to Zeus’ reign, compare the opening verses of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo 1–9 with the analysis of Clay 1989:19–29 and Harrell 1991:312–313. On the death of Apollo at Zeus’ hands, see also Fontenrose 1974:381–382.
[ back ] 102. Willcock 1964:146 notes, “Hurling out of Olympus appears as a relatively common theme in the Iliad ... The motif is common, available to the poet to use as and where he wishes.”
[ back ] 103. For an attempt to reconstruct this traditional story, see Lang 1983.
[ back ] 104. The Greek concept Agamemnon seeks to explain here is ἄτη, personified as the goddess Atē. On the meaning and semantics of this complex term, see Dodds 1951, Dawe 1968, Wyatt Jr. 1982, Doyle 1984, Arieti 1988, Finkelberg 1995, and especially the articles in LfgrE by Mette (s.v. ἀάτη) and Seiler (s.v. ἀάω). Agamemnon’s use of this paradigm is powerful in many respects. Not only does it accomplish an obvious rhetorical comparison—surely intentional on Agamemnon’s part—between Agamemnon himself, leader of the Achaeans, and Zeus, king of gods and men (on which, see the fine analysis at Edwards 1991:246 with bibliography); it also ironically undermines Agamemnon’s own authority by suggesting, subversively, that his supremacy over Achilles parallels that of Eurystheus over Herakles. More importantly, however, the myth also invokes the tragic undertone of Achilles’ own “delusion” in absenting himself from battle and refusing to return until it is too late and Patroklos is dead. On the ἄτη of Achilles, particularly during the embassy in Iliad IX, see Arieti 1988. Achilles acknowledges his own behavior as ἄτη at XIX 270–274 when he officially accepts Agamemnon’s apology and agrees to return to battle. Wyatt Jr. 1982:251n8 points out that Achilles is both the first and last character in the Iliad to speak the word ἄτη. On tragedy in the Iliad, see especially Griffin 1980 and Rutherford 1982.
[ back ] 105. On the tentative connection between Ἥρη/Ἥρᾱ and ὥρα ‘season’, see Pötscher 1961, Householder Jr. and Nagy 1972:50–52, Adams 1987, and O’Brien 1993:5, 113–117, 137–139. A connection between the goddess and the temporality of “seasonal” events is reflected here in her power over the cycles and seasons of human sexual reproduction.
[ back ] 106. Greek literature attributes an over-determined significance to Zeus’ swallowing of Metis—not only does he thereby attain “cunning intelligence,” but he also avoids a prophecy that Metis was to give birth to a child who would overthrow Zeus; by swallowing Metis while still pregnant, an act of “containing” that outdoes the similar “containment” strategies (preventing children from being born, swallowing children once they are born) of his predecessors Ouranos and Kronos, Zeus effectively ensures that the child born from Metis (Athena) will have no mother, and hence will be obedient entirely to her father’s wishes.
[ back ] 107. On the association between ἄτη ‘delusion’ and ἀπάτη ‘deception’, see Dawe 1968:100–101 who argues, “There is no doubt that the Greeks, rightly or wrongly, considered ἄτη and ἀπάτη as etymologically related concepts.”
[ back ] 108. On the textual and interpretative difficulties of this verse, see the apparatus criticus in West ad loc. and Janko 1994:190–191. Janko proposes reading of the line as ἄλλοθ’ ἑὴ ἐπένυσσεν ἐφετμὴ ‘at another occasion your command pricked me on’.
[ back ] 109. I translate here the line as printed with daggers in West’s text, following the interpretation of Monro 1893:290, but see Janko’s interpretation (1994:190–191) in the preceeding note.
[ back ] 110. ἄϊστος is the verbal adjective in *-το- from the zero-grade root of οἶδα / *ιδ- ‘to see’. On the form, see Chantrain 1968–1980:779, s.v. οἶδα B3. See also Ebeling 1963:I.57, s.v. ἄϊστος, citing the gloss on the line offered by Scholia BL ad loc.: ἔμβαλεν ὥστε ἀϊστωθῆναι ‘he threw [me] so that [I] become invisible’.
[ back ] 111. The verb ἀϊστόω is cognate with the adjective ἄϊστος following the regular formation for denominative verbs in -οω from o-stem nouns and adjectives: see Risch 1974:329–330 (§114a). As Risch points out, such verbs are generally factitive in meaning, such that ἀϊστόω means ‘to make invisible’.
[ back ] 112. Leaf comments: “ἄϊστον ‘put out of sight,’ i.e. sent to perdition”; Leaf also notes the adjective ἀίδηλος ‘destroying’ (Leaf 1900–1902:II.85).
[ back ] 113. See Janko 1994:180–182 for discussion (with further bibliography) of the theogony alluded to here and the threat of order overthrown into chaos.
[ back ] 114. See Edwards 1987:247 and Janko 1994:168. See also the careful analysis of Bergren 1980:27, who notes that Poseidon’s re-entry is itself “wholly gratuitous” at this point, since the Greek generals have already decided to marshal their troops themselves; hence, the two activities—Poseidon’s re-entry and Hera’s deception—are interdependent and mutually self-motivating.
[ back ] 115. See Janko 1994:180 on the formation of δαμνᾷ (with this accentuation) contracted from *δαμνάε(σ)αι, the second person singular middle indicative form of δαμνάομαι. Aristarchus (preserved in Scholia T ad loc.) accented δάμνᾳ contracted from *δάμνα(σ)αι.
[ back ] 116. Compare Hera’s honorific address to Hupnos which speaks of his power of ‘all’: Ὕπνε, ἄναξ πάντων τε θεῶν πάντων τ’ ἀνθρώπων ‘Hupnos, lord of all gods and of all men’ (XIV 233). Like Aphrodite’s charms with which she can “conquer immortals and mortal men alike—all of them (πάντας)” (XIV 198–199), Hupnos too has power over ‘all’.
[ back ] 117. See Calame 1977:I.411–420 and Bergren 1989:4, “The verb δαμνάω denotes the power of men to ‘break’ wild creatures into civilized form—beasts through domestication, children through education, and virgins through marriage.”
[ back ] 118. ἱμάσσω is aorist subjunctive: see Leaf 1900–1902:II.106 and Janko 1994:229.
[ back ] 119. The phrase ὑπόδρα ἰδών ‘glowering’ occurs 26 times in Homer: Iliad I 148, II 245, IV 349, 411, V 251, 888, X 466, XII 320, XIV 82, XV 13, XVII 141, 169, XVIII 284, XX 428, XXII 260, 344, XXIV 559; Odyssey viii 165, xvii 459, xviii 14, 337, 388, xix 70, xxii 34, 60, 320. The phrase δεινὰ ὑπόδρα ἰδών occurs only here in the Iliad, but is found also at ps.-Hesiod Shield of Herakles 445 and Homeric Hymn to Dionysus 7.48. On the semantics and usage of ὑπόδρα ἰδών, see Holoka 1983. I analyze the data somewhat differently than Holoka, however, and provide here some different conclusions that emphasize Zeus’ potentially murderous rage in Iliad XIV. The phrase is restricted to two primary senses: first, it always indicates the anger of a character speaking in response to a perceived threat of loss or diminishment of his own honor (cf. Diomedes to Sthenelos at V 251, Hektor to Poulydamas at XII 230 and XVIII 284, and Odysseus to Agamemnon at XIV 82); or the honor of his group (cf. Odysseus to Thersites about Agamemnon at II 245, Diomedes to Sthenelos about Agamemnon at IV 349, Glaukos to Hektor about Sarpedon at XVII 141); and hence points to behavior or speech which is considered improper; and second, it indicates an intense feeling of hatred and accompanies blame-speeches and threats of physical violence (cf. Achilles to Hektor at XX 428, XXII 260, and XXII 344; Achilles to Priam about Hektor at XXIV 559; and Zeus to Ares at V 888).
[ back ] 120. I follow Janko 1994:232 on the interpretation of αὖτις (pace Leaf 1900–1902:II.106).
[ back ] 121. See also Scholia D at Iliad II 782, van Thiel: ἱμήσσῃ· μαστίξῃ, πλήξῃ, ὅ ἐστιν κεραυνοῖς βάλῃ ‘he lashes: ‘he whips’, ‘he strikes’, that is ‘he hits with lightning’’. See further Whitman 1970:38.
[ back ] 122. On Zeus’ lightning as the tool by which he retains his sovereignty, see especially Detienne and Vernant 1978:75, “Through [lightning] Zeus can ‘tame’ his divine enemies by hurling them to the ground, paralyzing their strength and pinning them down. To strike a god with his thunderbolt is, for the Master of Heaven, to bind him, to chain him up, depriving him of the vital force that previously animated him, and to relegate him, forever paralyzed, to the frontiers of the world, far from the dwelling of the gods where he used to exercise his power.”
[ back ] 123. See Whitman 1970, Janko 1994:229–231, and Beckwith 1998 for provocative analyses of what we may call the pre-history of Homer’s narrative, itself a distant reflection of a cosmological struggle between a Proto-Indo-European Sky god and a Proto-Indo-European Earth goddess.
[ back ] 124. That it was understood that a bronze anvil would fall an equivalent distance in an equivalent period of time (for nine days and nights, arriving on the tenth day: see Theogony 722–723, 724–725) is indicated by verse 723a with its emphatic ἶσον δ’ αὖτ’ ‘and equally in turn’. Concepts of the distance between heaven, earth, and Tartaros in early Greek thought are complex, however. In Iliad I 591–592 it took Hephaistos a single day to fall from heaven to Lemnos; at Theogony 740–743, it would take someone an entire year to fall through the empty space (khasma) between earth and Tartaros. See West 1966:359, 364 for discussion.
[ back ] 125. On this interpretation, see Kirk 1990:334.
[ back ] 126. Vermeule 1979:118.
[ back ] 127. Iliad V 842–844: ἤτοι ὃ μὲν Περίφαντα πελώριον ἐξενάριζεν, | Αἰτωλῶν ὄχ’ ἄριστον, Ὀχησίου ἀγλαὸν υἱόν· | τὸν μὲν Ἄρης ἐνάριζε μιαιφόνος ‘Indeed, I tell you, [Ares] was stripping huge Periphas, by far the best of the Aetolians, the shining son of Ochesius. Blood-stained Ares was stripping him’. The representation of a god stripping the armor off a dead human is unique in Homer (cf. Andersen 1981:325). What is particularly significant is the characterization of Ares here by his epithet μιαιφόνος ‘blood-stained’ (cf. V 31 = V 455, XXI 402), a term combining root words indicating ‘staining’ and ‘blood, gore’ (μιαιφόνος < μιαίνω + φόνος). It is at the very moment when Ares is ‘stained’ or even ‘polluted’ (cf. μίασμα ‘pollution’: see Parker 1993, Attridge 2004, and Johnston 2004:507–509 with further bibliography) with human blood that he becomes vulnerable to human weapons. As Kirk (1990) notes, “Other gods kill from afar, so are not directly polluted by blood” (147). On the connection between a god becoming ‘stained’ and their experience of human temporality through physical or emotional suffering, compare Achilles’ horses whose manes become ‘stained’ (ἐμιαίνετο χαίτη ‘their hair was stained’, XVII 439) when they leaned their heads to the ground (οὔδει ἐνισκίμψαντε καρήατα ‘the two leaned their heads upon the ground’, XVII 437) in mourning for Patroklos, and Achilles’ divine helmet which is also ‘stained’ with blood and dust when it falls from Patroklos’ head and hits the ground (μιάνθησαν δὲ ἔθειραι | αἵματι καὶ κονίῃσι ‘the horse-hair crests were stained with blood and dust’, XVI 795–796; μιαίνεσθαι κονίῃσιν ‘they were stained with dust’, XVI 797).
[ back ] 128. Hektor stabs Patroklos νείατον ἐς κενεῶνα ‘deep into his flank’ (XVI 821), and Telemachus stabs Leocritus μέσον κενεῶνα ‘in the middle of his flank’ (xxii 295). Further, at Iliad V 284 and XI 381 one fighter thinks he has stabbed another in his κενεών and boasts, only to discover that he has actually missed his mark. The implication is that a wound to one’s κενεών is fatal. On this point, see Jouanna and Demont 1981:200n13 and Loraux 1986:467, 649n5.
[ back ] 129. I translate following Kirk (1990) on νεκάδεσσιν as “more graphic” than the common νεκύεσσιν, “since it probably adds the idea of piles of corpses” (151).
[ back ] 130. See Denniston 1950:532 on the use of ἦ τε in emphatic assertions in Homer.
[ back ] 131. On ἀμενηνός (ἀ- privative + μένος), a denominative adjective in -ηνος, see Risch 1974:100 (§35d).
[ back ] 132. See Loraux 1986:470–471: “À l’horizon de la vie immortelle d’Arès, il y a donc la mort. Une mort très singulière, certes impossible et qu’on ne saurait penser que sur le mode de l’irréel, mais dont la potentialité se rouvre sans fin” [‘On the horizon of Ares’ immortal life, there is death. It is a very unique death, certainly impossible and one which could not be thought except in the mode of the contrafactual, but of which the potentiality reopens without limit’].
[ back ] 133. ζώς is a contraction of ζωιός, a phenomenon within the diachronic development of the epic language which Kirk (1990) attributes to “the latest stage” and considers to be a sign of interpolation here (152). Nevertheless, the contracted form is paralleled by ζών in XVI 445, a well-attested verse describing Sarpedon.
[ back ] 134. Seymour 1903:143 notes the contrast: “Although the god Ares could not die, yet he assumes that he might have lain as dead. Hence the contrast with ζώς.” It is interesting to note that the bT Scholia at Iliad V 885b (Erbse) is disturbed not so much by the logic of a “dying god,” but rather by the logic that a god who has died (apparently construing ἐν αἰνῇσιν νεκάδεσσιν as meaning ‘dead’) would still be suffering pains (πήματ’ ἔπασχον). For, the scholiast argues, ‘death is the loosening of terrible things’ (λύσις γὰρ τῶν δεινῶν ὁ θάνατος). Accordingly, the bT scholia offers a gloss of the sense of Iliad V 885–887b: ‘And the sense is: ‘I would be suffering terrible things while lying among the corpses, if while living I was weak because of my wound’’ (καὶ ὁ λόγος γίνεται· δεινὰ ἂν ἔπασχον ἐν τοῖς νετροῖς κείμενος, εἰ ζῶν ἀσθενὴς διὰ τὸ τραῦμα ἦν).
[ back ] 135. So Kirk (1990) while discussing the “clumsiness” of verse V 887 (on which see also Leaf 1900–1902:254, who finds ζώς “highly suspicious”); Kirk concludes “either this god is thoroughly confused as Leaf suggested, or the composer of this [verse] must have taken ἐν αἰνῇσιν νεκάδεσσιν to imply ‘among the dead in Hades’ vel sim., cf. e.g. 397—but that is specifically excluded by 886 αὐτοῦ. In either case inept rhapsodic or later embellishment is distinctly possible” (152). Willcock 1978–1984:I.241 also finds the choice difficult: “Ares’ alternatives are a little confused. As he was immortal, death would not have been possible; he therefore makes an artificial distinction between a long period of pain, lying among the corpses, and total loss of strength as a result of the beating he might have received (though still remaining alive).” Iliad V 887 has long been the center of debate. See Leaf 1900–1902:I.254, Crosby 1922, Kirk 1990:152, West 1998–2000:I.178 (apparatus criticus), and West 2001:12 with n. 28 for arguments why V 887 should be considered an interpolated verse; see Loraux 1986:468–469 for an argument against excising the verse.
[ back ] 136. On the νεκύων ἀμενηνὰ κάρηνα as a reference to the ψυχαί ‘souls’ of dead mortals in Hades, see Heubeck 1989:71n521.
[ back ] 137. I read verse V 901 and πάσσων for πάσσεν in V.900 against West’s deletion of V 901: West’s apparatus indicates that V 901 was apparently unknown to Aristarchus and ignored by the scholiasts and, moreover, is missing from several manuscripts, and West 2001:192 discusses the possibility of V 899–904 being an interpolation based on Hades’ injury and treatment by Paieon at V 398–402. In my opinion, however, it is a mistake to excise the later passage. Both passages appear in context of a god being wounded by a mortal and healed by Paieon, the divine iatros who provides pain killers to relieve the gods of the pains inflicted upon them by a mortal’s weapons. The phrase is equally applicable in each instance, and seeks to reaffirm the gods’ immortality at the very moment when they appear most mortal and subject to death. See further Loraux 1986:469 and my discussion above.
[ back ] 138. All four uses of the phrase κύδεϊ γαίων in Homer describe the action of gods: Briareos, the hundred-hander, sits beside Zeus “rejoicing in his glory” after rescuing Zeus from his bonds (I 405); Ares likewise sits beside Zeus “rejoicing in his glory” here in our passage (V 906); and Zeus is twice described as sitting apart from the other gods “rejoicing in his glory” as he looks upon the men fighting below (VIII 51, XI 81).
[ back ] 139. See Scholia bT at Iliad VIII 12b (Erbse): τὸ πληγείς ... ἀντὶ τοῦ κεραυνωθείς ‘the ‘having been struck’ ... [is used] instead of ‘having been blasted by lightning’’. See Scholia bT at Iliad XV 17d (Erbse) and Scholia D at Iliad II 782 (van Thiel), cited above. See Whitman 1970:38 for an approving assessment of the scholiast’s interpretation. Compare VIII 455–456 where Zeus threatens Hera and Athena that had they not turned their chariot around and returned to Olympos at once, then ‘you two would not, after being struck by a lightning bolt while in your chariot, have made it back to Olympos, where the seat of the gods is’ (οὐκ ἂν ἐφ’ ὑμετέρων ὀχέων πληγέντε κεραυνῷ | ἂψ ἐς Ὄλυμπον ἵκεσθον, ἵν’ ἀθανάτων ἕδος ἐστίν).
[ back ] 140. Compare Scholia A at Iliad VIII 12a and Kirk 1990:296, “οὐ κατὰ κόσμον, a sinister understatement, is to be taken closely with ἐλεύσεται.” For οὐ κατὰ κόσμον as characterizing the poor organization of speech, compare Iliad II 214 where Odysseus criticizes Thersites.
[ back ] 141. See Ebeling 1963:I.1113–1115 and Liddell, Scott, and Jones 1996:1140–1141, s.v. μοῖρα III.2. for discussion and further citations. On the concept of moira in Greek literature, see Greene 1944 and Dietrich 1967.
[ back ] 142. For adverbial ὁμοῦ with not merely spatial but also temporal implications, consider Iliad I 61, IV 122, XI 127, XVII 362, XVII 745, XX 499. For ὁμοῦ with a dative expressing spatial and temporal ‘togetherness’, consider Iliad V 867 and Odyssey iv 723.
[ back ] 143. Compare Achilles’ immortal horses whose manes are ‘polluted’ (ἐμαίνετο χαίτη, XVII 439) by dust as they mourn for Patroklos and for Achilles’ divine helmet which is ‘polluted’ (μιάνθησαν δὲ ἔθειραι | αἵματι καὶ κονίῃσι, XVI 795–796; μιαίνεσθαι κονίῃσιν, XVI 797) with blood and dust when it falls from Patroklos’ head and hits the ground.
[ back ] 144. Liddell, Scott, and Jones 1996:418, s.v. διαφθείρω (III) identifies the perfect form διέφθορα as intransitive, but then cites Iliad XV 128 and translates ‘to have lost one’s wits’, as if reading φρένας as the object of διέφθορας, ‘you have destroyed your wits’. For this interpretation, compare Cunliffe 1963:93, s.v. διαφθείρω (2). Instead, I read φρένας as an accusative of respect with ἠλέ (φρένας ἠλέ ‘crazed in your wits’), following the interpretation of Janko 1994:242 and the punctuation of West 1998–2000.
[ back ] 145. On the etymological and conceptual connection between νόος and νόστος, both cognates from the Proto-Indo-European verbal root *nes-, see Frame 1978 and Lowenstam 1981:44–45.
[ back ] 146. See Purves 2006a:202, “As it turns out, these two virtual falls are just trial runs for his actual fall in Book 21.”
[ back ] 147. See, for instance, Iliad V 305: τῷ βάλεν Αἰνείαο κατ’ ἰσχίον ‘with it [Diomedes] struck Aeneas in the hip’. See further Friedrich 2003:74–75, comparing XXI 403–406 (Athena strikes Ares with a stone) with VII 264–272 (Hektor and Ajax strike each other with stones).
[ back ] 148. Compare Iliad XI 240: τὸν δ’ ἄορι πλῆξ’ αὐνέχα, λῦσε δὲ γυῖα ‘[Agamemnon] struck him in the neck with his sword and loosened his limbs’.
[ back ] 149. For other uses of λύσε δὲ γυῖα ‘he loosened his limbs’, see IV 469, XI 240, 260, XVI 312, 400, XVI 465, 805. Compare the formulaic γυῖα λέλυνται ‘his limbs were loosened’ which also typically indicates death: Iliad VII 6, XIII 85, Odyssey xviii 238; however, at viii 233 Odysseus explains that he cannot race because “his limbs have been loosened” by his long voyage at sea, and at xviii 242 Irus’ “limbs have been loosened” through excess drink. That is, the effects of age or physical weariness and excessive drink can bring about the effects of physical unsteadiness on the human body similar to death itself. Further, consider the instances of ὑπέλυσε ... γυῖα ‘he loosened his limbs beneath him’ which indicate death at Iliad VI 27 and XV 581; however, at XXIII 726 the expression describes Odysseus and Ajax wrestling, such that their fall is a non-fatal one. Although the fall in the wrestling competition is non-fatal, it certainly has sinister implications, for it foreshadows the contest between the two over Achilles’ armor and the disastrous outcome of that contest. On λύσε δὲ γυῖα and related formulas and the implication of death, see Lowenstam 1981:85 with n. 29, Kirk 1990:68 (comment at Iliad V 122), and Purves 2006a:180 with n. 1.
[ back ] 150. For “falling” as a regular attribute of descriptions of the deaths of warriors in the Iliad, see the excellent treatment by Purves 2006a:183–185 with n. 9–17.
[ back ] 151. Compare Iliad XVII 50–51 (cited by Lowenstam 1981:85) where Euphorbos falls and ‘his hair, like to the Graces’, was covered with blood’ (αἵματί οἱ δεύοντο κόμαι Χαρίτεσσιν ὁμοῖαι).
[ back ] 152. Iliad IV 504, V 42, 58, 294, 540, VIII 260, XIII 187, XVII 50, 311, Odyssey xxiv 525, with discussion at Muellner 1976:24–25. On modifications of the Homeric formula, see Parry 1971:68–74, 175–180, Russo 1963, 1966, and 1997, Hoekstra 1964, Hainsworth 1968, Ingalls 1970 and 1976, and M. Edwards 1986 and 1988.
[ back ] 153. The Greek mythopoetic tradition seems to have been influenced by the Near Eastern tradition of monsters threatening the supreme deity, especially Ullikummi in the Hurrian-Hittite mythological tradition. On Near Eastern influences on early Greek cultural production, see Barnett 1945, Burkert 1983a, 1983b, 1987, 1991, 1992, J. W. de Jong 1985, Gütterbock 1948, Morris 1989, 1995, 1997, Koenen 1994, Penglase 1994, Walcot 1966, West 1966:18–31, 106–107, and West 1997.
[ back ] 154. The scholia remark that the Aloadae bind Ares because he killed Adonis, whom Aphrodite had left in their care (Scholia bT at Iliad V 385b, Erbse).
[ back ] 155. The noun δεσμός ‘bond, means of binding’ is etymologically cognate with the verb δέω ‘to bind’: see Chantraine 1968–1980:269–270 and Frisk 1973–1979:374–375, s.v. δέω. On the formation of δεσμός and other Greek nouns with a stem in -σμος/-σμη, see Risch 1974:45–46 (§19d).
[ back ] 156. See Loraux 1986:466 for a serious assessment of the possibility of the god’s death implied by the conditional: “Qu’entendre dans cet apóloito, qui déjà intriguait les scholiastes d’Homère, sinon l’énoncé de ce qu’Arès a bel et bien été au bord de la mort? Ou, plus exactement, qu’il eût péri sans l’intervention conjuguée d’une mortelle et du dieu aux liens. ‘Il serait mort si ...’: Arès n’est pas mort, mais, quand Hermès l’a libéré, il ne valait pas cher. Avec cet apóloito, la mort apparaît pour la première fois comme virtualité à l’horizon de l’existence d’Arès” [‘What are we to understand in this apoloito—which had already intrigued Homer’s scholiasts—if not the presentation that Ares had well and truly been on the verge of death? Or, more exactly, that he would have perished without the conjoined intervention of a mortal woman and a god in his bondage? ‘He would have died if ...’: Ares is not dead, but when Hermes freed him, he was not worth much. With this apoloito, death appears for the first time as virtually on the horizon of the existence of Ares’].
[ back ] 157. On the limitation of a divinity through binding and the entailed notion of “control” involved in the process, see Crooke 1897 who discusses the ritual practice of “binding” idols. The practice, he argues, indicates a belief that the god becomes embodied in the image, and once embodied, “it is obviously necessary, to prevent him from escaping, to keep him under control, so that he may not only be always at hand to receive the prayers and offerings of his subjects, but may not abscond or be removed and thus come under the control of a strange and presumably hostile tribe ... [These] are clear instances in which man imagines himself able to constrain the gods to subserve his own ends” (338); “Wherever we find these chained images the same explanation is given—that it is intended to keep them under control” (342); “When we come to the cases of gods who are actually imprisoned or confined, the ritual seems generally based on the idea that the image is tabu, dangerous if exhibited to its votaries, though in some instances the principle of physically detaining the god may be at the root of the matter” (344; emphasis added). The limitation of the god’s mobility and sphere of activity essentially brings the god under “control” and subject to being “used.” Consider, for instance, the use of binding in “apotropaic” ritual contexts as discussed by Faraone 1992:74–93 (I am grateful to Professor Alex Purves for bringing this reference to my attention), and see further Eliade 1969:93–124 on the “God who binds” as the sovereign of the cosmos who maintains control over those he binds, and Priest 1964 on the concept of “binding” through oaths accompanied by ritual sacrifice.
[ back ] 158. On the concept of the divine body as a “super-body,” see Vernant 1991:41–45.
[ back ] 159. For the conception of Tartaros, compare Iliad VIII 14–16 where Zeus threatens to throw disobedient gods into Tartaros “very far away, where is the deepest pit under the ground, where the gates are iron and the doorstep bronze, as far beneath the house of Hades as heaven is away from the earth.” Compare VIII 478–480, “I care not, not if you stray apart to the undermost limits of earth and sea, where Iapetos and Kronos are seated and have no shining of sun god Hyperion to delight them, nor winds’ delight, but Tartaros stands deeply about them.”
[ back ] 160. The passage is almost identical to Hesiod’s earlier description of where the hundred-handers are located (see Theogony 622)—that is, at “Erebos.” Liddell, Scott, and Jones 1996:684, s.v. Ἔρεβος, believe Erebos (on the strength of Iliad VIII 368) to be “a place of passage to and from Hades.” However, Richardson 1974:264 (commentary at Homeric Hymn to Demeter 335) notes that there is no justification for such a claim. Richardson argues that Ἔρεβος is ‘the darkness’ (hence its association with ζόφος, as at Hymn to Demeter 337, Odyssey xii 81, xx 356, Theogony 658) as opposed to the light. Note that Theogony 123 personifies Erebos as the son of Khaos and brother of Nux ‘night’. Close examination of the pertinent passages suggests that although Tartaros, Erebos, and Hades are referred to as “underworld” space, each connotes different shades of meaning. Erebos is the most general term for underworld space; Hades is the land of the dead for humans; and Tartaros functions as the holding facility for Zeus’ defeated enemies (compare West 1966:338, 356, 358–359). In other words, Hades (and Erebos by metonymy: cf. West 1966:310) functions as a holding facility for dead mortals, while Tartaros contains “dead” gods.
[ back ] 161. Briareos appears as Obriareos at Hesiod Theogony 617 and 734: cf. West 1966:210 on the variation.
[ back ] 162. In his commentary at Theogony 277, Tzetes explains, τοὺς Ἑκατόγχειρας αὐτοῖς φύλακας ἐπιστήσας, ‘[Zeus] set up the Hundred-handers as guards over them [sc. the Titans]’. Likewise, ps.-Apollodorus (1.7.4–5) tells that at the end of the Theomachy, Zeus and the Olympians, aided by the Cyclopes and Hundred-handers, defeated Kronos and the Titans: κρατοῦσι Τιτάνων, καὶ καθείρξαντες αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ Ταρτάρῳ τοὺς ἑκατόγχειρας κατέστησαν φύλακας, ‘they overpowered the Titans, and having confined them within Tartaros, they set up the hundred-handers as guards’. On inconsistencies in the various accounts of the Theomachy and the role of Guges, Kottos, and Briareos after the defeat of the Titans, compare Hesiod Theogony 815–819, West 1966:210, 357–358, 363, 379, and West 2002:110–118.
[ back ] 163. One interpretation reads the δειρή as the neck or throat of Tartaros itself, that is, its ‘gaping maw’ ready to swallow its prisoners (Titans, the dead)—and compares Virgil’s fauces Orci (Aeneid 6.273). On this reading, see the Scholia at Hesiod Theogony 727, Stokes 1962:9, West 1966:360, and Johnson 1999:14.
[ back ] 164. See West 1966:360 at Theogony 727: “δειρήν: presumably the ‘neck’ formed by the top of the enclosing wall. The word implies a relatively narrow entrance, as of a jar.”
[ back ] 165. West 1966:364, note at Theogony 741, notes that Hesiod’s πυλέων ‘gates’ may indicate the ‘entrance’ to Tartaros: “if gods can be thrown into Tartarus, there must be some way in. These are probably the μαρμάρεαι πύλαι of 811.”
[ back ] 166. This jar, according to Stesichorus fr. 234 PMG was a gift wrought by Hephaistos and given to Dionysus in thanks for entertaining the god on Naxos, and then was given by Dionysus to Achilles’ mother Thetis in thanks for rescuing the god when he fled from the Theban king Lycurgus and plunged into the sea, as narrated at Iliad VI 130–140 (with scholia). See Scholia bT at Iliad XXIII 92 with discussion at Haslam 1991. The episode was later elaborated in Aeschylus’ lost trilogy the Lykurgia. See also Eumelus fr. 1 Davies, ps.-Apollodorus 3.5.1, Hyginus Fabulae 132 and 242, Servius’ commentary at Aeneid 3.14, Diodorus Siculus 3.65.5–6, and Nonnus Dionysiaca 21.166. Haslam 1991, esp. 36 with n. 4 has shown that Iliad XXIII 92, the verse which connects the σορός ‘coffin’ in which Achilles’ and Patroklos’ bones are to be buried with the χρύσεον ἀμφιφορῆα ‘golden jar’ of Odyssey xxiv 74 which Dionysus gave to Thetis, is an interpolated verse.
[ back ] 167. Compare Hoffner Jr. 1998:19, §20 for another version of the ritual to appease the god’s wrath: “May the evil, anger, wrath, [sin], and sullenness go away. But may it not go into the fruitful field, the forest, or the garden. May it go on the road to the Dark Earth. Down into the Dark Earth stand iron vats. Their lids are of lead. Whatever goes into them doesn’t come up again; it perishes therein. So may Telipinu’s evil anger, wrath, sullenness, and sin go into them and not come up again, but perish therein.”
[ back ] 168. See further Güterbock and Hoffner 1997 (CHD, vol. P):66, s.v. (DUG) palhi- B, 3c for the specific use of ZABAR pal-ḫi in mythological texts as indicating a vessel ‘in the netherworld or the sea, holding evils’, citing this passage (KUB 17.10 iv 15–16), and Hoffner Jr. 1968:65–66.
[ back ] 169. See West 1997:153, 362–363 for discussion.
[ back ] 170. In the Ugaratic myth of Ba’al’s contest against Mot, the Ugaratic god of death, Mot is said to dwell at the foot of Mount Knkny (ġr knkny: I AB, v, 12, cited at Botterweck and Ringgren 1974–2006: III.441). See further Gaster 1944:39–40 for an argument that Mot’s ġr knkny (I AB, v, 12) is equivalent with the ġr ‘nn ilm ‘abode in the netherworld’ (VI AB, iii, 14), an underground realm where Ba’al banishes rebelious gods (VI AB, iii, 18–21a); Gaster (1944) compares this underground abode of the god of the dead and of other defeated gods with Hesiod’s description of Tartaros (30–31, 33, 40). See Vidal 2004:110 (with bibliography) for an argument Knkny, properly speaking, is a ‘common name’ derived from the verbal root *knn ‘to cover, hide’ attested in Arabic, such that ġr knkny would indicate ‘the mountains of my covert’, namely, the entrance point to the underworld.