@5. The Mênis of Achilles and Its Iliadic Teleology

5. The Mênis of Achilles and Its Iliadic Teleology

This book began with an assumption that terms for emotions such as anger have meanings and resonance that are specific to their culture, so that it could be informative to reconstruct the sense of an epic word such as mênis within its own poetic context. By now it is clear that this highly specialized social term denoting the cosmic sanction against tabu behavior is a far cry from any shared, secular notion of anger specific to contemporary Western culture. On the basis of the hypothesis of Albert Lord that more or less crystallized constellations of poetic formulas called themes are essential elements in the composition of traditional poems, the method of semantic reconstruction in this book has been systematic contextual analysis of occurrences of the word mênis and its derivatives, including the diction regularly associated with them, so as to determine and comprehend the essential, recurring features of the theme in which the word mênis is embedded within the epic tradition. At the same time as the terms of analysis have gone beyond individual words and formulas to themes, so my purpose has gone beyond a desire to “redefine” mênis and instead become a matter of rebuilding the poetic function of the mênis theme in the epic tradition. To that end, I have attempted an intensive study of the mythical syntax of the Hesiodic Theogony and suggested a sequential relation between it and narrative elements of the first book of the Iliad. From that perspective, the first book of the Homeric Iliad contains variations on a mênis theme whose prerequisites were generated in the Hesiodic Theogony. It remains to extend this study to the teleology of mênis within the Iliad as a whole.
In book 16 when Patroklos has put on the armor of Achilles and is about {133|134} to lead the Myrmidons onto the Trojan plain in Achilles’ armor, he whips them up with a speech that evokes the themes of the first book of the Iliad:

Μυρμιδόνες, ἕταροι Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος,
ἀνέρες ἔστε, φίλοι, μνήσασθε δὲ θούριδος ἀλκῆς,
ὡς ἂν Πηλεΐδην τιμήσομεν, ὃς μέγ’ ἄριστος
Ἀργείων παρὰ νηυσὶ καὶ ἀγχέμαχοι θεράποντες,
γνῷ δὲ καὶ Ἀτρεΐδης εὐρὺ κρείων Ἀγαμέμνων
ἣν ἄτην, ὅ τ’ ἄριστον Ἀχαιῶν οὐδὲν ἔτισεν.

Myrmidons, companions of Achilles the son of Peleus,
be men, friends, and concentrate on flashing courage,
so that we may honor the son of Peleus, who is by far the best of the
Argives beside the ships, he and his close-fighting companions,
and also so that the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, may know
his átē , in that he paid no honor to the best of the Achaeans.


On withdrawing in book 1, Achilles had made it his explicit goal that Agamemnon learn painfully of his átē ‘derangement’ in dishonoring the “best of the Achaeans,” namely, Achilles himself (1.244). At the decisive moment when Patroklos is returning to the fighting as Achilles’ stand-in to save the Achaeans from certain disaster, his explicit goal is, paradoxically, still the same. Presumably, Achilles’ supreme value was made plain by the devastating consequences of his subtraction from society; now the same message will again be conveyed to Agamemnon by the restorative consequence of his addition to it in the persona of his best friend. In lines 271 and 272 the speech also expresses an essential assumption behind this notion, namely, the identity in value between Achilles and his therápontes ‘companions, sidekicks’, a term that connotes more than association but less than incarnation. [1] Since Patroklos is repeatedly identified as Achilles’ singular therápōn, the plural he uses here includes himself as well as the rest of the Myrmidons. It emphatically expresses the identity and solidarity between Achilles, Patroklos, and the group of phíloi ‘friends’ (16.270) that they lead. [2] As Achilles is the best, so are Patroklos and the other Myrmidons the best, since they are all his therápontes; it follows that their achievement will also be Achilles’.

In its stated purpose, then, the return of Patroklos to the fighting in book {134|135}16 is the equivalent of Achilles’ withdrawal of himself and his men from it in book 1. But from another standpoint, one that is actually ascribed by the narrator to the Trojans a few lines later when Patroklos appears on the field of battle, it is also the polar opposite of Achilles’ withdrawal:

Τρῶες δ’ ὡς εἴδοντο Μενοιτίου ἄλκιμον υἱὸν
αὐτὸν καὶ θεράποντα σὺν ἔντεσι μαρμαίροντας,
πᾶσιν ὀρίνθη θυμός, ἐκίνηθεν δὲ φάλαγγες
ἐλπόμενοι παρὰ ναῦφι ποδώκεα Πηλεΐωνα
μηνιθμὸν μὲν ἀπορρῖψαι, φιλότητα δ’ ἑλέσθαι·
πάπτηνεν δὲ ἕκαστος ὅπῃ φύγοι αἰπὺν ὄλεθρον.

When the Trojans saw the brave son of Menoitios,
him and his therápōn , with their armor blazing bright,
the spirit in all of them churned, and their ranks were disturbed.
They guessed that beside the ships the swift-footed son of Peleus
had thrown away mēnithmós , had chosen philótēs ;
so each of them looked around for a place to escape sure death.


Nestor intends the Trojans to be deceived by Patroklos’s wearing Achilles’ armor (11.799–801), and so does Patroklos (16.40–43), but Achilles expresses no such intention. He even prays to Zeus that Hector learn that his therápōn knows how to fight on his own (16.242–243). And actually, the Trojans’ supposition as stated in the text is no illusion. In answer to a direct appeal to his friendship, Achilles had earlier told his friend Ajax that he would (9.650–655) set aside his mênis—for which the word mēnithmós is a formulaic alternative [3] —when the ships were set on fire. Repeating his promise to do so (16.61–63), he sends out Patroklos precisely when the first ship is set on fire (16.121–129), thus choosing philótēs ‘friendship, solidarity’ in several senses at once: by accepting his best friend Patroklos’s plea that he allow him to return to the fighting, in sending his best friend out as though he were himself, and in doing so exactly when Ajax himself is retreating before the onslaught of the Trojans (16.119–126) and the first ship is set on fire. Although Nestor’s idea of substituting Patroklos for Achilles was intended to induce in the Trojans a mistaken identification of one for the other, for Achilles and Patroklos both it is a true identification of one with {135|136} the other and of both with the Myrmidons as a group, a ringing assertion of Achilles’ supremacy as a fighter, and a profound gesture of friendship that signals the undoing of Achilles’ mênis. [4] Aristotle’s question-and-answer definition of the noun phílos is directly relevant: τί ἐστὶ καὶ ὁποῖός τις ὁ φίλος; τοιοῦτος οἷος ἕτερος εἶναι ἐγώ. “What and of what kind is a friend? Such as could be another I.” [5] Aristotle’s answer is ungrammatical, since an adjective that can only apply to third persons, “other,” qualifies the first person pronoun; therein lies the fundamental notion behind Achilles’ substitution. Patroklos is a third person whom Achilles identifies with himself, a “he” who is an “I.” The teleology of Achilles’ mênis is actually to become such philótēs ‘friendship, solidarity’, which is in every way its opposite.

Mênis versus Philótēs: Alienation

The moment at which Patroklos goes out in Achilles’ own armor to fight the Trojans is an act of solidarity on Achilles’ part, a solidarity that was manifest in Achilles’ first action in the whole epic, his calling of an assembly of the whole host of fighting men to face the devastating consequences of Apollo’s mênis on them all (1.55). The poet tells us there that Hera put the suggestion in his mind out of her concern for the Danaans, but given the reciprocal, interactive nature of divine intervention in epic, [6] that concern must be thought of as shared by Achilles as well. His awareness, as against Agamemnon’s disregard of the welfare and the detriment of the whole group, is a theme of the quarrel in book 1. [7] Yet, as I have maintained, figures with mênis characteristically lose solidarity with their social group. The personage who comes to mind as an example is Demeter bereft of Persephone, a mourning goddess who descends from Olympus and conceals herself in her shrine at Eleusis while the world withers. Demeter is in exile {136|137} from the whole divine community, a group against whose interests she is explicitly seeking to act. [8] In other words, there is a profound and painful desire on the part of a personage with mênis to act indiscriminately against a solidary group on the basis of a violation of the very rules responsible for the coherence of that group.
In Achilles, this loss of solidarity coincides with the oath on the scepter in book 1, when he explicitly foresees the devastating consequences for the group of his withdrawal from it:

ἦ ποτ’ Ἀχιλλῆος ποθὴ ἵξεται υἷας Ἀχαιῶν

I swear that a yearning for Achilles will come over the sons of the Achaeans,
all of them put together.

Yet his language also immediately betrays the cost of the loss. For Achilles refers to himself not as “me” but in the third person, as though he were himself imagining and identifying with the other Achaeans’ desire for him in his absence. Moreover, since a third person is by definition an absent person, as Emile Benveniste has pointed out, alienation from self is inherent in such a third-person self-reference. [9] In fact, the tradition is soon explicit about the lasting destructive consequences of Achilles’ mênis upon himself:

αὐτὰρ ὁ μήνιε νηυσὶ παρήμενος ὠκυπόροισι
διογενὴς Πηλῆος υἱός, πόδας ὠκὺς Ἀχιλλεύς·
οὔτε ποτ᾿ εἰς ἀγορὴν πωλέσκετο κυδιάνειραν
οὔτε ποτ᾿ ἐς πόλεμον, ἀλλὰ φθινύθεσκε φίλον κῆρ
αὖθι μένων, ποθέεσκε δ’ ἀϋτήν τε πτόλεμόν τε. {137|138}

Meanwhile he had mênis sitting beside the fast-streaming ships,
Zeus-descended son of Peleus, swift-footed Achilles;
neither was he ever occupying himself in the glorious assembly,
nor ever in war, but he was withering his dear heart
waiting there, and he was yearning for battle cry and war.

The first victim of Achilles’ mênis is in fact his own phílon kêr, “dear heart,” [10] and long before there is any yearning (ποθή [1.240]) for him on the part of the Achaeans, there is his own yearning (ποθέεσκε [1.492]) for the social occupations of a warrior male. Mênis is the opposite of philótēs not simply in that Achilles when he has it suffers from the loss of ties to the wider world but also in that he is thereby harming his own self. A distinction between inner and outer self does not exist for him, so that mênis is in the first instance the opposite of philótēs because it is the absence of philótēs even for one’s self. It is also the inverse of philótēs. Just as Achilles’ extreme gesture of friendship is literally to identify himself with a third person, his friend Patroklos, so the boldest mark of his alienation is actually to perceive himself as a third person, as an other. The opposition between mênis and philótēs has significant consequences from the standpoint of lexicography or translation. The conventional translation of mênis in English by the word “wrath,” an epic term for a violent emotional response by a powerful personage, divine or human, does not suit a word whose opposite term is “friendship.” In English, the opposite of friendship is enmity, and of wrath, delight. The essential problem is the distinctions that we draw between emotional and social terms. For us emotions are primarily individualized and internal, and their social dimensions are semantically secondary. With mênis, however, its social dimension is neither secondary to its emotional one nor divisible into inner and outer aspects. What English word is the opposite of both friendship and delight yet also includes alienation?
So how and why can Achilles’ mênis become philótēs? The ninth book of the Iliad represents both the acme of his alienation and the beginning of its attenuation. When the embassy arrives (9.186–190), Achilles is singing the kléa andrôn, “songs of heroes” to a treasured lyre won when he sacked Eetion’s city. [11] Singing to the lyre is conventionally opposed to fighting {138|139} hand-to-hand, but twice before it has also been a way to appease mênis, so Achilles’ performance is at least epicene and at most ambivalent. It signifies his mênis (whose expression is withdrawal from fighting) and simultaneously an attempt on his part to end it. [12] When he greets two of the five members of the embassy first as phíloi ‘dear friends’ (9.197) and immediately thereafter describes them twice as phíltatoi ‘dearest friends’ (9.198, 9.204), the scene appears to be set for the transformation of his mênis into philótēs. [13]
Instead, Achilles expresses his resistance to the compromise the embassy offers him with such passion that all his listeners are stunned into prolonged silence when he finally stops speaking (9.430–432). This reaction on Achilles’ part is a consequence of Odysseus’s unexpected but characteristic intervention and address. The plan had been for Phoenix to take charge (9.168–170), if indeed he and Ajax are the two phíloi to whom Achilles was pointing at line 196. [14] Furthermore, in the speech that Odysseus misguidedly makes to Achilles, after telling him to consider warding off the evil day for the Danaans (9.251), he actually reminds Achilles of what his father Peleus had told him on the day he sent him off to join Agamemnon: that his honor among all the Argives would increase (9.256–258) in proportion to his philophrosúnē ‘solidarity’ (9.256), and so he should be sure to restrain himself from internecine strife. Again, near the end of his speech, he says: {139|140}

εἰ δέ τοι Ἀτρεΐδης μὲν ἀπήχθετο κηρόθι μᾶλλον
αὐτὸς καὶ τοῦ δῶρα, σὺ δ’ ἄλλους περ Παναχαιοὺς
τειρομένους ἐλέαιρε κατὰ στρατόν, οἵ σε θεὸν ὣς
τείσουσ’· ἦ γάρ κέ σφι μάλα μέγα κῦδος ἄροιο·

If the son of Atreus is too hateful to you in your heart,
he and his gifts both, then at least take pity on the others,
the whole army of hard-pressed Achaeans, all of whom will honor you
like a god; then you might really win great glory in their sight.

In other words, in the two passages in which Odysseus invokes Achilles’ social obligation to the host of fighting men, he emphasizes the honor and the glory that Achilles will acquire among them as though they were separate from Agamemnon and even if Agamemnon remains his enemy, [15] whereas Achilles’ standpoint from the beginning has been that “all the Achaeans” are in solidarity with Agamemnon and he with them. Such a view is, as I have shown, consistent with the nature of mênis itself. The position to which Odysseus is asking Achilles to accede is the one that Agamemnon took from the beginning, that his own interests could be separated from those of the host of fighting men whom he leads. It is noteworthy that Odysseus identifies no one to Achilles as his phílos, including himself. The single reference to philophrosúnē ‘solidarity’ is to a quality toward others that Odysseus finds lacking in Achilles, not to one Odysseus professes to be feeling or expressing for him. We have seen that having mênis, Achilles is not phílos even to his own self, let alone the Panakhaioi ‘all the Achaeans’ against whom he explicitly took action in book 1. In other words, Odysseus is asking Achilles to relinquish his mênis without acknowledging that it is the opposite of philótēs, that its basis is not just the group’s estimate of his own transient prestige but the whole society’s rules of exchange and solidarity and those of the natural world to which they are connected.
As Cedric Whitman has pointed out, Achilles seems to know that Odysseus has left out the conclusion from Agamemnon’s speech charging the embassy, a conclusion in which he made explicit his actual goal in offering such massive compensation to Achilles: [16] {140|141}

δμηθήτω—Ἀΐδης τοι ἀμείλιχος ἠδ’ ἀδάμαστος,
τοὔνεκα καί τε βροτοῖσι θεῶν ἔχθιστος ἁπάντων—
καί μοι ὑποστήτω, ὅσσον βασιλεύτερός εἰμι
ἠδ’ ὅσσον γενεῇ προγενέστερος εὔχομαι εἶναι.

Let him be subdued—Hades is unlovely and inflexible;
that is why he is the most hateful of the gods to mortals—
and let him take his place beneath me, inasmuch as I am more kingly
and inasmuch as I declare that I am older in my engendering.


The stated goal of Agamemnon’s offer of gifts is not to recognize Achilles’ value and acknowledge a face-losing error, but to assert Agamemnon’s superiority in rank to Achilles, which is what he was attempting to do by taking Briseis from him in the first place. Achilles understands this motivation despite Odysseus’s omission because of the sheer quantity of compensation being offered. His list of prizes is not a sign of friendship or a tangible recognition of Achilles’ value, but a potlatch, the emulous offer of gifts as an assertion of the giver’s prestige. [17] If Achilles were to accept these gifts from Agamemnon, he would effectively accept subservience to him for life, because they are intended to be beyond Achilles’ ability to reciprocate. [18] That is why, when Achilles actually does receive even a reduced portion of these gifts in book 19, he does not receive them from Agamemnon himself. At Odysseus’s suggestion—by then he has apparently understood what is at stake—Agamemnon brings them into the middle of the agorḗ ‘assembly’ where all can witness the transaction (19.173–174, 249), and the Myrmidons then take them from there to the ship of Achilles (19.278–279). As Marcel Detienne explains, property that is placed “in the middle of the assembly,” like speech “in the middle,” is common property that belongs to the whole group. [19] So the compensation of Achilles in book 19 binds the social group {141|142} as a whole to Agamemnon and then reinforces Achilles’ bonds to the group; in fact, this exchange is a distribution to Achilles by the group, not a gift from Agamemnon to Achilles. [20] In this way, the final exchange is a reinforcement of Achilles’ consistent point of view on the solidarity among Agamemnon, himself, and the society as a whole. [21]

No wonder Odysseus’s speech in book 9 backfires: it exacerbates Achilles’ mênis instead of arousing his philótēs. In his response (9.308–429), Achilles highlights one bitter facet after another of his alienation. Since Agamemnon abuses the system of distribution and reward (9.328–335), the only true reward for his bloody days and sleepless nights of fighting for other men’s wives (9.325–327) will be a death indistinguishable from any coward’s (9.317–320). Agamemnon, he says, having marshaled a huge army in Troy to retrieve his brother’s stolen beloved, Helen (9.339–340), has now made off with the beloved of another, his ally Achilles, even though Agamemnon already has a wife. Achilles loved (ephíleon) Briseis “from the heart,” as any decent man loves his spouse (9.341–342), but now he will not take her back from Agamemnon. Achilles says that he has no interest in fighting Hector and none in Agamemnon’s gifts, which are ekhthrá ‘hostile’ (9.378). No quantity of gifts is exchangeable for one’s life’s breath (9.408–409). So he is returning to Phthia, having abandoned the choice of kléos in favor of a long life (9.359–361, 415). [22] At this point, Achilles’ alienation has even come to the {142|143} point of extinguishing his desire to realize his heroic identity and win the ultimate prize of kléos, the imperishable glory embodied in epic poetry itself. The Achaeans will have to find another mêtis ‘cunning trick’ to save themselves, he says, since this mêtis is not working (9.423–425). This particular word in the conclusion to his speech, a word so strongly associated with Odysseus and his gift for deception and manipulation, is another pointer to the fundamentally hostile relationship between him and Achilles that constitutes the context of their interchange. [23] As Achilles says at the beginning of his speech (9.312–313), he “hates like the gates of Hades a man who hides one thing in his mind and says another.” The mastery of just such duplicity characterizes Odysseus, [24] even as the hatred of it characterizes Achilles. [25]
The current cunning trick to which Achilles is referring is an attempt to persuade him to relinquish his mênis and adopt Agamemnon’s point of view on their quarrel. For Achilles to do so would be to fall victim to a deceptive show of Agamemnon’s “generosity” and a false notion of solidarity that would subjugate him to Agamemnon and cost him his heroic prestige and identity. Trouble is, Achilles’ decision to leave has the same cost. Neither choice is consistent with the goal-driven progress of the Iliad.

Mênis versus Philótēs: Incurring Friendship

From another standpoint, that of the metonymic syntax of myth, the interaction between Odysseus and Achilles is a recapitulation of the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon in book 1, and it results in the same impasse. Now, once the recapitulation is complete, the impasse should be broken by a new step forward in the sequence. That is in fact what happens. Achilles concludes his response to Odysseus with an invitation to his teacher, Phoenix, to spend the night with Achilles and decide in the morning whether or not to join him on his return home (9.427–429). After the prolonged silence that greets Achilles’ speech, Phoenix wipes off a tear and answers the invitation. How could he do otherwise than join Achilles, his phílon tékos, “beloved child,” on a trip home? Then, over the next sixty-one {143|144} lines, Phoenix explains why he calls Achilles his “beloved child.” To defend his mother’s honor and in response to her pleading, Phoenix had slept with a young girl to whom his father had been making love. Having so angered his father, who invoked the Furies and cursed his own son, Phoenix was forced to flee into exile. But he was welcomed by Peleus, who loved (ephílēse [9.481]) him as a father loves his only son. Phoenix, in turn, adopted Achilles and “loved him from his heart” (ek thūmoû philéon [9.486], the same expression Achilles had used at line 343 of Briseis). In fact since the gods were to give him no offspring of his own, Phoenix considered him his own son (9.494–495), so that Achilles might one day “ward off unseemly devastation for me” (μοί ποτ’ ἀεικέα λοιγὸν ἀμύνῃς [9.495]). This fixed diction for dispelling the devastation (loigós) of mênis closes off the first part of Phoenix’s speech, which therefore amounts to a profession of philótēs for Achilles upon which to base an as yet unstated demand that Achilles in return end his mênis. [26] Up to this point Phoenix has diverged from Odysseus. Instead of chastising Achilles for his lack of philophrosúnē ‘solidarity’, Phoenix is expressing his own philótēs and trying to evoke Achilles’ as an antidote to his mênis. Since Achilles’ alienation has just been exacerbated by Odysseus, that is no small task.
Now Phoenix elaborates on the divine virtue of being able to change one’s mind. Even the gods themselves are streptoí ‘flexible’ and change their minds when human beings pray and sacrifice to them for respite from punishment of their overstepping (9.497–501). The Litai ‘Pleaders for respite’, Zeus’s own daughters, are the squinting, wrinkled, and clumsy spirits of such pleading, while wiry, nimble Atē ‘Moral insensitivity’ lurks to punish those who are rigid and resist them (ὃς δέ κ’ ἀνήνηται καί τε στερεῶς ἀποείπῃ, “whoever denies and rigidly refuses” [9.510]). So Achilles should honor these daughters of Zeus and let his honor of them “bend his mind” as it has the mind of others who are noble and true (ἐπιγνάμπτει νόον ἐσθλῶν [9.514]). Streptaí ‘flexible’ is the term that Iris uses for the minds of the noble and true (φρένες ἐσθλῶν) when recommending to Poseidon that he yield to Zeus and so prevent mênis from erupting between them in book 15 (line 203). Moreover, “bending her beloved heart” (ἐπιγνάμψασα φίλον κῆρ [1.569]) is what Zeus makes Hera do in his effort to stop mênis from erupting between them in book 1. [27] What Phoenix means, then, is that {144|145} Achilles is now being appeased as one would a god with mênis, but if he is inflexible, then he is in danger of falling victim to Atē. The implication may be that such átē would lead, as Agamemnon’s did (1.412, 9.18, 115–116, 16.274, 19.88) and Patroklos’s will, to punishment by mênis. [28] In this context, then, Phoenix is implicitly invoking the rule about heroic mênis I have formulated: heroes with mênis are just as likely to incur it as to express it. [29] This paradoxical aspect of the mênis theme is an overt element even in the theme’s very first Iliadic formulation, in the prologue itself, when Achilles’ mênis is said to entail the devouring of bodies by dogs and birds, which is, as we have seen, a tabu violation that in itself calls down mênis upon its perpetrators. [30] Nor is it difficult to gauge the danger attendant on mênis, in view of the cosmic destructive power that it entails. In Achilles’ case, however, that power is unleashed upon the Achaeans by a combination of his self-denying, inactive absence and Zeus’s will. A compensating consequence of this disempowering empowerment seems to be that for Achilles, the conventional threat that he will incur mênis can become an invitation to defiance with impunity. For instance, the Iliad actually belies its own fronted assertion that dead bodies would be maltreated as a consequence of his mênis. In fact no one’s corpse is so maltreated in the text, despite Achilles’ intense desire to do so to Hector’s. [31] A danger inherent in the {145|146} possession of mênis has been suspended for Achilles in the Iliad, and the reason for this suspension is not far to seek. Without it, Achilles could not have mênis in the first place, since the danger of incurring mênis would disable his antagonistic identification with Apollo, and Apollo is the model for Achilles, inasmuch as he is the god who presides over the limits whose transgression incurs mênis in the first place.
Now, finally, but still indirectly, Phoenix makes his plea. He would not be telling Achilles to jettison his mênis (μῆνιν ἀπορρίψαντα [9.517])—as though he had been telling him before!—unless Agamemnon had ceased his khólos ‘anger’, offered many gifts now as well as more later, and had sent the phíltatoi ‘most friendly’ of the Argives to Achilles to plead with him (9.515–522). Phoenix’s belief in Agamemnon’s good faith and his warning about átē do not necessarily bode well for the success of his attempt at persuasion, but the conjunction of pleading best friends offering gifts from someone relinquishing his khólos ‘anger’ brings to Phoenix’s mind something that is decisive for the story of Achilles, namely, one of tôn prósthen kléa andrôn heróōn “the songs of the former warrior heroes,” who were dōrētoí, “accepting gifts,” and parárrētoi epéessi, “dissuaded by words” (9.524–526). We are about to be treated to a heroic tale about friendship from the most refined of epic teachers.
The old song that Phoenix tells among “all you phíloi” (9.528) is the story of one Meleagros of Aitolia. Within the epic Phoenix describes it as an epic song, but the remarkable study carried out by J.T. Kakridis in 1949 understands it instead as a folktale that has been discernibly transformed for insertion into its epic context. [32] According to Kakridis, the variations among {146|147} the story’s parallels in worldwide folklore can be reduced to different treatments of a basic motif that he calls the theme of the ascending scale of affection. Some variants are based on the notion that an individual in society is surrounded by a hierarchy of persons of whom the nearest and dearest—in other words, the most irreplaceable—are one’s blood relations; others represent the diametrically opposed view, that the nearest and dearest persons are those whom one chooses as friends. Meleagros is a hero who actually kills his own maternal uncle in a dispute over the distribution of the skin and head of the Calydonian boar (9.548, 567). The dispute’s violent outcome results in a war between the city of Meleagros and that of his uncle, a war from which Meleagros angrily withdraws because his mother, in her anger at the killing of her brother, invokes the Furies and curses her own son (9.566–572). In other words, an alienation of affection between certain blood relations—in this case, the ties between brother and sister are honored at the expense of those between uncle and nephew and mother and son—precipitates a crisis in which the whole society of Meleagros is threatened. Phoenix even describes how Meleagros “in anger at his beloved mother lay beside his wedded wife, the fair Kleopatre” (9.556–557). The episode recalls how Phoenix himself, in response to his mother’s pleas (9.451), lay with her rival and caused his father to invoke the Furies and curse him, just as Meleagros’s mother had done. In fact, Phoenix’s whole life story is, by no coincidence, a case of the alienation of affection between blood relations and their replacement by friendship ties.
As the enemy throngs the gates of Meleagros’s city, a sequence of pleaders [33] come to the doors of his bedroom to ask him to return to the fighting: first the elders of the people; then the best priests, who offer him a large piece of fertile land of his own choosing; then Oineus, Meleagros’s father, followed by the hero’s sisters and even his mother (9.574–585). Finally, the hero’s companions, the dearest and nearest to him of all put together (hoi hoi kednótatoi kaì phíltatoi … hapántōn [9.586]), come to persuade him, but to no avail. Success is reserved for the hero’s wife, who, as their city is being set afire, catalogs to him the kḗdea ‘collective griefs’ (9.591) that befall the people of a captured city: the burning of the city, the killing of the men, and the enslavement of the women and children (9.592–594). Her account persuades Meleagros to don his armor and save his city from imminent destruction at the last possible moment. So the sequence of pleaders passes from relatively remote persons in authority who command social respect to {147|148} family members, and from there to best friends and thence to the one friend whom the hero most prizes and who can convincingly portray to him the need for action on behalf of the whole social group. Both in its culminant structure and in its outcome, the story attests to the greater value of ties to phíloi as against ties of blood. [34] Phoenix does not deign to define the specific application of this paradigm to Achilles’ situation, but it is not unclear. For Achilles, too, the choice the embassy presents to him can be construed as one between solidarity with the Achaeans and solidarity with his family, since his mother has been the agent of his social withdrawal by obtaining Zeus’s validation of his mênis, and since his lonely father, Peleus, resides at the ultimate goal of his imaginary withdrawal from the heroic world and all its assumptions, his nóstos ‘return home’.
In fact, Achilles formulates his response to Phoenix in terms of just this contrast. Intending Meleagros to be a negative model, Phoenix tells Achilles that the Achaeans will honor him like a god if he accepts the gifts now but that, like Meleagros, he will lose timḗ ‘honor, prestige, respect’ if he waits until the last moment to return and fights without the gifts (597–605). But for Phoenix to hold out the promise of timḗ to Achilles is to echo Odysseus’s concluding statement (9.301–303); nor has his speech provided any cogent answer to Achilles’ argument about the ultimate value of one’s life’s breath, namely, that no quantity of gifts can be exchanged for it. So it is not at all surprising that Achilles begins his answer to him by dismissing the value of timḗ from the Achaeans:

Φοῖνιξ, ἄττα γεραιέ, διοτρεφὲς, οὔ τί με ταύτης
χρεὼ τιμῆς· φρονέω δὲ τετιμῆσθαι Διὸς αἴσῃ,
ἥ μ’ ἕξει παρὰ νηυσὶ κορωνίσιν εἰς ὅ κ’ ἀϋτμὴ
ἐν στήθεσσι μένῃ καί μοι φίλα γούνατ’ ὀρώρῃ.

Phoenix, revered father, Zeus-nourished, I do not need that
honor ( timḗ ); I consider that I am honored ( tetimêsthai ) by Zeus’s decree, {148|149}
which will keep me beside the beaked ships as long as the breath
remains in my chest and my dear limbs still have some spring in them.

Since the decree of Zeus that honors Achilles and keeps him breathing and beside the ships is nothing other than his validation of Achilles’ mênis at Thetis’s request in book 1, the contrast between these two kinds of timḗ, one from the Achaeans and the other from Zeus, is just a version of the contrast between ties to friends and ties to blood relatives. Moreover, philótēs and timḗ are interdependent if not synonymous in epic society and diction. It is heinous to dishonor one’s phíloi; it is inevitable that those whom one loves dearly be the objects of timḗ ‘honor, respect, prestige’. [35] As Agamemnon says earlier in book 9 in acknowledging his error with Achilles before the council of kings:

ἀασάμην, οὐδ’ αὐτὸς ἀναίνομαι. ἀντί νυ πολλῶν
λαῶν ἐστὶν ἀνὴρ ὅν τε Ζεὺς κῆρι φιλήσῃ,
ὡς νῦν τοῦτον ἔτισε, δάμασσε δὲ λαὸν Ἀχαιῶν.

I was deranged, nor do I myself deny that he is worth many hosts
of fighting men, any man whom Zeus loves in his heart
as he has now honored this man [36] and subdued the host of the Achaeans.

The statement corrects a misapprehension that first Agamemnon (1.175), then Odysseus had articulated about the current object of Zeus’s affection and esteem: τιμὴ δ᾽ ἐκ Διός ἐστι, φιλεῖ δέ ἑ μητίετα Ζεύς, “His timḗ is from Zeus, and counsellor Zeus loves him” (2.197). Odysseus was referring to Agamemnon, but even by then the timḗ of Zeus had deserted him in favor of Achilles. In general, Homeric affection (or enmity) comes from the heart, but it is publicly expressed in unequivocally social words. [37] So {140|150} Achilles cannot count the Achaeans’ timḗ worth having until his own philótēs for them somehow supersedes the philótēs of Zeus. But the paradigm of Meleagros is all too fitting, in that the importuning of the hero’s best friends is as yet inadequate to achieve such a goal. Even Phoenix’s attempt to express and elicit Achilles’ philótēs backfires. After he dismisses the value of the Achaeans’ timḗ, Achilles takes him to task for showing favor to Agamemnon:

μή μοι σύγχει θυμὸν ὀδυρόμενος καὶ ἀχεύων
Ἀτρεΐδῃ ἥρωϊ φέρων χάριν· οὐδέ τί σε χρὴ
τὸν φιλέειν, ἵνα μή μοι ἀπέχθηαι φιλέοντι.
καλόν τοι σὺν ἐμοὶ τὸν κήδειν ὅς κ’ ἐμὲ κήδῃ·
ἶσον ἐμοὶ βασίλευε καὶ ἥμισυ μείρεο τιμῆς.

Don’t confuse my heart with lamenting and grieving,
showing favor to the warrior son of Atreus; you should not
be his phílos , so that you will not become hateful to me, your phílos .
It’s good for you to aggrieve with me the person who aggrieves me;
be king equally with me, and share half of the timḗ .

In other words, Achilles sees Phoenix’s advocacy of Agamemnon’s agenda as a breach of solidarity between phíloi ‘friends’, and he offers Phoenix an equal share with him in the timḗ he has as king. Presumably, that is a timḗ worth having, unlike the timḗ of the Achaeans that Phoenix was holding out to Achilles as a reward; Achilles’ timḗ is between (and presumably among) phíloi, that is, the Myrmidons only. Phoenix’s goal was certainly not that Achilles enforce the ties of philótēs between the two of them to the exclusion of Agamemnon and the other Achaeans. While Phoenix has been trying to reintegrate Achilles among the Achaeans, Achilles has been trying to detach Phoenix from them, and he eventually succeeds (9.658–659).
Even so, at the end of his answer to Phoenix, Achilles retreats from the decision he had announced at the end of his answer to Odysseus. Instead of leaving for Phthia in the morning with or without Phoenix (9.427–429), Achilles says that he and Phoenix will decide in the morning whether they will leave or stay (9.618–619). At first, it may seem unlikely that this change is a result of philótēs for the Achaeans impinging upon mênis rather than Achilles’ realization, just voiced, that the decree of Zeus requires him to stay beside the ships for the rest of his life (9.608–610). The basis of that {150|151} realization is unstated, but it implies that he has abandoned the choice of a return home (9.410–416); on the other hand, it is plain that the claims of philótēs between Achilles and Phoenix, which are emphatically not ties between blood relatives, are important to Achilles. Their decision in the morning would be their first as equal kings, and there is no doubt as to where Phoenix will stand.
So Achilles is taking one small step away from mênis, and he is about to take another. What Ajax now says as the embassy is preparing to leave is as significant as the persons to whom he says it. He begins by telling Odysseus that it is time to go back and report their bad result, since they are not about to accomplish the μύθοιο τελευτή, “goal of their speech act” (9.625). [38] He places the blame for that failure squarely on Achilles, of whom he speaks in the third person even though he is present:

αὐτὰρ Ἀχιλλεὺς
ἄγριον ἐν στήθεσσι θέτο μεγαλήτορα θυμόν,
σχέτλιος, οὐδὲ μετατρέπεται φιλότητος ἑταίρων
τῆς ᾗ μιν παρὰ νηυσὶν ἐτίομεν ἔξοχον ἄλλων,

for Achilles
has taken on a savage spirit in his chest, inflexible man,
and he pays no heed to the philótēs of his companions,
that we are honoring him with beyond all others beside the ships,


Instead of talking about how his own friendship for Achilles, as Phoenix had done, Ajax speaks plainly of the exceptional philótēs with which “we” as a group honor “him” but which he is too hard-hearted to recognize. Such an unrespected bond to the social group is a key theme of Phoenix’s story of Meleagros, and Ajax speaks about it in Achilles’ presence as though he were absent. [39] In fact, the third-person address is in itself a metaphor for the message, which is that Achilles is an absent presence, not an exile but a pariah who does not recognize his ties to the group of phíloi despite their {151|152} efforts to the contrary. (Indeed, as soon as his mênis was legitimated, as we saw, Achilles became a third person even to himself!) [40] Then Ajax finds a legal analogy to Achilles’ situation in that of a man whose brother or child has been killed:

καί ῥ’ ὁ μὲν ἐν δήμῳ μένει αὐτοῦ πόλλ’ ἀποτείσας,
τοῦ δέ τ’ ἐρητύεται κραδίη καὶ θυμὸς ἀγήνωρ
ποινὴν δεξαμένῳ·

and the one (the killer) remains there after paying much in return,
while the manly heart and spirit of the other is restrained
and he accepts compensation.

Just when he starts to explain the relevance of this analogy, Ajax makes a decisive change in the grammar of his speech. Suddenly, he addresses Achilles directly, in the second person:
σοὶ δ’ ἄλληκτόν τε κακόν τε
θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι θεοὶ θέσαν εἵνεκα κούρης
οἴης· νῦν δέ τοι ἑπτὰ παρίσχομεν ἔξοχ’ ἀρίστας,
ἄλλά τε πόλλ’ ἐπὶ τῇσι· σὺ δ’ ἵλαον ἔνθεο θυμόν,
αἴδεσσαι δὲ μέλαθρον· ὑπωρόφιοι δέ τοί εἰμεν
πληθύος ἐκ Δαναῶν, μέμαμεν δέ τοι ἔξοχον ἄλλων
κήδιστοί τ’ ἔμεναι καὶ φίλτατοι, ὅσσοι Ἀχαιοί.
but the gods have put
a relentless, evil spirit in your chest because of only one
girl, yet here we are offering you seven who are far the best,
and a lot of other things besides. So put on a kindly [41] spirit,
and respect the roof over our heads, since from the mass of all the Danaans,
we are your guests, and we are eager to be by far the most cherished
and dearest to you of all the Achaeans.
Ajax’s is the most direct attack so far on Achilles’ alienation. It wins his concurrence (9.645) and a message to report (9.649) which Achilles himself seems to present as a further concession. Citing his continuing khólos ‘anger’ at the way Agamemnon dishonored him, he stipulates that he will not fight until Hector comes to the huts and ships of the Myrmidons and sets fire to the ships (9.650–655). Does this negatively phrased minimal commitment nevertheless represent an incremental change in his response? Achilles is plainly adopting the model of Meleagros that Phoenix had offered as a negative example, and he is identifying Ajax’s plea, if not the whole embassy, with the penultimate group of pleaders in the tale, the group of nearest and dearest friends who fail to persuade the hero (9.585–587). Ajax’s speech contains an appeal to friendship that actively alienates and then integrates Achilles into the group of phíloi, and it also provides a new item of content, a legal analogy about acceptable compensation (poinḗ [9.633]) for the death of a family member. But the Shield of Achilles incorporates this same analogy and carries it one step farther. It depicts a figure in a le-{153|154}gal dispute who is violently refusing to accept the compensation (poinḗ [18.499]) offered for a slain relative, exactly as Achilles is refusing to accept Agamemnon’s ápoina ‘ransom’ (9.120) at this very moment. [43] Refusing compensation in such a situation is a course of action that cannot easily be condemned or accepted, since the shield portrays a legal dispute with a prize of two gold talents for the person who offers the best solution to the judicial problem it represents; we still do not know the results of their deliberation. So in both cases, Ajax’s legal analogy and Phoenix’s epic story, Achilles is adopting the parallel proffered, but in the opposite sense from that intended. On the basis of the further parallelism between the legal analogy and the embassies to Meleagros, we are entitled to wonder whether Achilles’ refusal of the prizes that Agamemnon offers really is harmful to his timḗ, as Phoenix claims (9.604–605). The essential point is that Achilles’ behavior cannot be conveniently dismissed as wrong or praised as righteous. Instead, it is a type of dangerous and powerful action that distresses a society’s classification system in such a way as to compel discussion, rethinking, and the redefinition of basic categories of behavior. At least, those seem to be its consequences within the world of Achilles’ Shield and in certain real societies. [44] In this respect, it is utterly consistent with Achilles’ persona as the hero with mênis.
But the original question remains unanswered: in view of the parallelism it establishes with the failed embassy of friends to Meleagros, does Achilles’ negatively phrased, minimal commitment to Ajax and the Achaeans to return and fight at the last possible moment represent an incremental, not to say decisive, change in his response? The answer is an unqualified yes, not least because it is recognizable as Achilles’ choice between the two mutually exclusive destinies his mother had told him of, namely, nóstos ‘return home’ and kléos ‘immortal glory in poetry’ (9.410–416), and because it thereby entails an affirmation of the heroic assumptions that he had rejected with such force in his response to Odysseus. Kléos ‘immortal glory’ is by definition embodied and preserved in epic song. Moreover, the choice of kléos is also a choice of philótēs, in that it requires Achilles’ subsequent acceptance of a future demand that he return, to be made by a nearer and dearer friend than Phoenix or Ajax. So Achilles is identifying himself with and as an epic hero in making known his grudging, deferred choice, in predicting the teleology of his mênis. {154|155}
What is there about Ajax’s speech that has brought about this incremental change? It is the climax of a metonymic sequence of attempts to enforce the claims of philótēs ‘friendship’ on Achilles, each one incorporating the previous one and going one step beyond it. First there was Odysseus’s reminder of Peleus’s warning that Achilles should show philophrosúnē ‘friendliness, solidarity’ even if he still hated Agamemnon, which only alienated Achilles and contributed to his decision to return home to Phthia. Then came Phoenix’s expression of his own philótēs and its general value in epic tradition, which reinforced Achilles’ claim on Phoenix but also elicited a deferral of his decision to return home to Phthia. Lastly, there was Ajax’s blunt statement of the prior claims of the phíloi in a speech that actively alienates and then integrates Achilles into the social group. It results in his abandonment of nóstos and a minimal commitment to fight at the last possible moment. Furthermore, considering the way that Achilles in his answer to Odysseus defined psukhḗ ‘life breath’ as an absolute value beyond exchange value (9.406–409), Ajax’s advocacy of Agamemnon’s compensation on the analogy of acceptable compensation for murder seems to rescue the notion of exchange value for someone’s death. Yet the Shield figure’s staunch refusal to accept any compensation leaves the issue unresolved (18.497–508). That is important, since “immortal” kléos is the alternative ultimate value for which a hero is supposed to exchange his life. The possibility that there is no way to compensate for the loss of life keeps alive the issue of the relative value of kléos and psukhḗ ‘life’s breath’ in the world of Achilles’ shield. Raising an issue about the relative value of epic poetry itself is what to expect from the figure of Achilles.

Mênis versus Philótēs: Friendship and Death

Such are the first steps in the transformation of Achilles’ mênis into philótēs. [45] The next step is, according to the example of Meleagros, Pa-{155|156}troklos’s, not simply because he is Achilles’ dearest friend but also because of his name, which is simply the reverse of the name of Meleagros’s wife, Kleopatre. [46] The functional parallelism between these two figures goes hand in hand with the formal equivalence of their names. Both reside at the top of the “ascending scale of affection” for the respective heroes of their tales, and both intervene to remind the hero of his social obligations and to end his withdrawal from battle to save the community. There is also a relevant third example of the syntagma that makes up their names. In book 6, after Hector has finally found his wife, Andromache—in searching for her, he had encountered in succession his mother, his brother, and his sister-in-law—she describes to him the death of her seven brothers and her father at the hands of Achilles on a single day as well as the subsequent death of her mother. In a particularly intensified variation on the ascending scale of affection, [47] she tells him that, in the absence of all blood relatives, he, Hector, is her father, mother, and brother, as well as her spouse (6.429–431); then she tells him to stay with her on the tower and to set his army by the fig tree, in order “not to make his boy an orphan and his wife a widow” (6.432). In other words, the hero’s wife is asking him to withdraw from the fighting because he is by far the most valuable person to her. But he refuses:
ἦ καὶ ἐμοὶ τάδε πάντα μέλει, γύναι· ἀλλὰ μάλ’ αἰνῶς
αἰδέομαι Τρῶας καὶ Τρῳάδας ἑλκεσιπέπλους,
αἴ κε κακὸς ὣς νόσφιν ἀλυσκάζω πολέμοιο·
οὐδέ με θυμὸς ἄνωγεν, ἐπεὶ μάθον ἔμμεναι ἐσθλὸς
αἰεὶ καὶ πρώτοισι μετὰ Τρώεσσι μάχεσθαι
ἀρνύμενος πατρός τε μέγα κλέος ἠδ’ ἐμὸν αὐτοῦ.
All these things are a care to me, my wife; but I would be terribly
ashamed before the Trojans, the men and the trailing-robed women,
if like a coward I were to shirk from battle;
nor does my heart bid me to, since I learned always to be true
and to fight in the front ranks of the Trojans,
striving to win great kléos , my father’s and my own. [48]
Hector then goes on to describe the future that awaits his enslaved wife in terms that recall the summary of Kleopatre’s predictions to Meleagros (9.591–594). It is no coincidence that this, the only example in the epic corpus of the words kléos and patḗr in the same phrase (not in a name), specifies the transcendent value in his life, beyond his wife, that will keep Hector fighting for Troy. For him, the nearest and dearest person and the goal of heroic glory lie along divergent paths because he is a hero in the center of his social group, not withdrawn from it. There is no question of Hector’s withdrawing from obligations to the social group; his goal is to strive for glory and save his city, which in his case necessitates a painful separation from his wife. For Meleagros and Achilles, on the other hand, the epic tradition will vouchsafe them kléos if they heed the words of the person who is nearest and dearest to them and protect the social group whose needs and safety that person embodies and expresses. Patroklos and Kleopatre each represent epic glory and social solidarity rolled up into one, and the goal for heroes like Achilles or Meleagros is to settle their anger and reintegrate themselves into society. To put it another way, a most significant and fateful aspect of Hector’s identity is that Andromache’s name lacks the word kléos.
By contrast, the existence of a special companion named Patroklos in the story of Achilles implies that its hero will achieve the glory conveyed by the epic tradition when he heeds the aforementioned Patroklos’s claims upon him, if his mênis gives way to philótēs. Indeed, the name of Patroklos and the function bound to it suggest that the acquisition of glory is in itself a gesture of friendship and a social benefaction. I have maintained that Achilles’ substitution of Patroklos for himself when the paradigm of Meleagros and his own concession to Ajax in book 9 both call for Achilles himself to return to the fighting was a gesture of philótēs, of solidarity with the host of Achaeans. Achilles accedes to Patroklos’s request that he set aside his mênis in these words:

ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν προτετύχθαι ἐάσομεν· οὐδ’ ἄρα πως ἦν
ἀσπερχὲς κεχολῶσθαι ἐνὶ φρεσίν· ἤτοι ἔφην γε
οὐ πρὶν μηνιθμὸν καταπαυσέμεν, ἀλλ᾿ ὁπότ᾿ ἄν δὴ {157|158}
νῆας ἐμὰς ἀφίκηται ἀϋτή τε πτόλεμός τε.
τύνη δ᾿ ὤμοιιν μὲν ἐμὰ κλυτὰ τεύχεα δῦθι,
ἄρχε δὲ Μυρμιδόνεσσι φιλοπτολέμοισι μάχεσθαι,

But let these things be past and forgotten; there was no way
to be ceaselessly angry in my heart; indeed, I said
that I would not cease my mênis except when
the shout and the battle reached my ships.
But you put my armor on your shoulders,
and lead the war-loving Myrmidons to fight.

This passage has been understood in two ways. It may mean that the moment has not come for Achilles to reenter the battle. [49] Then Achilles’ substitution of Patroklos for himself is a sign of the hero’s persisting unwillingness to give up his anger—he has been speaking of his residual bitter feelings toward Agamemnon just before this passage. By contrast, most commentators now consider the substitution a stubborn deferral of his own return for which he is punished by the terrible death of the substitute, a “tragic error” for which he is considered blameworthy to varying degrees. [50]
Another possible interpretation, which I prefer, is that the moment has in fact come to which Achilles referred in his concession to Ajax but that he honors Patroklos’s desire to don his armor and defend the Achaeans as a marked gesture of friendship, not to perpetuate his mênis. Achilles explicitly sends him out to ward off the devastation—using the words loigòn amûnai at 16.80 that Phoenix had of Achilles’ saving the day, 9.495 [51] —when Hector {158|159} sets fire to the ships (16.60–63, 114–129), which is one of the two conditions he had specified at 9.650–653. The issue then becomes whether or not the fighting has yet come to Achilles’ own ships. The text locates the fight at the end of book 15 around Protesilaos’s ship and does not specify that battle’s proximity to Achilles’ ships, [52] but the parallelism between Patroklos’s role/name and Kleopatre’s suggests that the limit Achilles had in mind is reached when Patroklos asks Achilles to relent. Furthermore, when Zeus earlier predicted the death of Patroklos (15.53–67), he said that Achilles would rouse him to action when the Achaeans, routed, “fall among the ships of Achilles,” ἐν νηυσὶ πολυκλήϊσι πέσωσι / Πηλεΐδεω Ἀχιλῆος (15.63–64). In the event, as I just mentioned, Achilles does so when Hector sets them afire. The “inconsistency” here, if it truly is one, bespeaks the nature of cross-reference in a tradition of performance. A poet in such circumstances does not conceive of cross-reference in the same way as writers who can flip pages forward or back and verify their terms. I would suggest that the two signals or limits, fighting at Achilles’ ships and Trojan fire on the ship, are variants with equivalent narrative functions. [53] Finally, there is Achilles’ explicit desire to win back the girl, get the gifts, and achieve timḗ (16.84–90): all these are symptomatic of a recommitment on Achilles’ part to the human domain and to its rewards, rewards that he had abandoned in book 9 in favor of the timḗ from Zeus that validated his mênis and effectively exiled him from the society of the Achaeans. Phoenix had warned Achilles that he would lose such timḗ by returning to battle too late. Achilles is now attempting to retrieve what Meleagros had not been able to.
As it turns out, Patroklos’s identification with Achilles, like Achilles’ identification with him, is overdetermined. In his function as Achilles’ therápōn ‘sidekick’, his death in Achilles’ armor and Achilles’ (as well as Thetis’s) reaction to it are superimposed on the details of the death of Achil-{159|160}les and its aftermath in the Aethiopis tradition. [54] So the substitution of Patroklos for Achilles works only too well. In other words, Patroklos’s death in Achilles’ stead on behalf of the host of fighting men is an enactment of Aristotle’s definition of friendship: he is a “he” who has become “another I.” In this context, it bears mentioning that Patroklos is one of two heroes whom the otherwise rigidly third-person narrator of the Iliad actually addresses in the second-person singular, as a “you,” right before the moment of his death (16.787). That is a grammatical symptom of the special sympathy and philótēs his character evokes and expresses. One could characterize Patroklos’s substitution for Achilles as the combination of a character who embodies solidarity (a “you”) with one who embodies remoteness (a “he”) because each is the “other’s I.” What we expect in such a situation, and what the Meleagros story also leads us to expect, is that Achilles himself would take on the sympathetic aspect embodied by Patroklos and show his philótēs for the Achaeans by reentering the battle and saving the day. Instead Achilles has reversed the dramatis personae with exactly the same goal in mind, namely, to choose philótēs and end his mênis, a twist that is consistent with and expressive of Achilles’ overdetermined identification with Patroklos.
Before sending him out, Achilles actually warns Patroklos not to get carried away and arouse the dangerous attention of Apollo (16.91–96). But Patroklos crosses over limits that Achilles warned him not to, and he first avoids but then incurs the mênis of Apollo in a moment of great glory that is the mirror image of Achilles’ own death. [55] It is as though any putative limit on the identity between the two heroes cannot stand. Their friendship, the fusion of their identities, is an absolute. When Achilles hears of Patroklos’s death, he responds literally and by allusion as though he himself had died. The identification of Patroklos with Achilles, whose bones will eventually be buried in one and the same sêma ‘tomb’, is almost indissoluble (Odyssey 24.76–77). Any notion that Achilles is “to blame” for Patroklos’s death falls {160|161} afoul of this persisting bond of affection and identity between him and his faithful companion; Achilles is only the literally surviving half of a symbolic whole. When he learns of Patroklos’s death, he expresses not guilt for causing it but terrible grief at such a loss (18.22ff.), regret for not having been able to protect him and his other companions who were slain by Hector (18.98–99, 102–103), [56] and a desire to avenge his death (18.114–115) and so win kléos (18.121) at the expense of his own life.
No moral or epistemological failure is distilled from this event—Achilles’ hopeless wish (18.108–110) that éris ‘strife’ and khólos ‘anger’ perish from humankind notwithstanding—nor any “tragic” error. It is not a terminological quibble to aver that this poem is no tragedy but an epic, with its own appropriate structures and ideas of poetic form and the human condition. Instead of reflecting tragic notions about human behavior or the hero’s moral value, the death of Patroklos actually propels Achilles into “the realm of kléos,” [57] which is only an epic way of saying that the death of Patroklos is consistent with this poem’s overall teleology and conventions. Insofar as possible, that teleology ought to be reconstructed in the epic’s own terms. From the standpoint of the transformation of Achilles’ mênis into philótēs that I have been mapping, the major differences between his speech sending out Patroklos in book 16 and his speech on learning of his death in book 18, when he commits himself to join the fighting, are twofold. First, Achilles now voices his decision to win kléos and his readiness to die after avenging Patroklos. These are facets of the same fundamental idea, for the kléos that epic can bestow on “the best of the Achaeans” is a compensation for his death. Consequently, Achilles cannot fully choose to win kléos without accepting the reality of his own death. On deciding to send out Patroklos, his goal (μύθου τέλος, “the goal of my speech act” [16.83]) had been different: to preserve and enhance his timḗ in “making a light” for the {161|162} fighting Achaeans (16.84–96). Timḗ is of this world; kléos, a term that the epic uses for itself, belongs to the hereafter.
The second major difference lies in the scope of Achilles’ philótēs. Whereas before, his gesture of philótēs had been a total identification with his best friend Patroklos, now his concern is to avenge that friend’s death but also to redress his neglect of the social group. Here he says:

νῦν δ’ ἐπεὶ οὐ νέομαί γε φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν,
οὐδέ τι Πατρόκλῳ γενόμην φάος οὐδ’ ἑτάροισι
τοῖς ἄλλοις, οἳ δὴ πολέες δάμεν Ἕκτορι δίῳ,

but now since I am not returning to my beloved fatherland
and I was not at all a light to Patroklos or to the companions,
the other ones of whom many were subdued by godlike Hector.


whereas before, on sending out Patroklos, Achilles had stressed his exclusive bond with him in an admitted fantasy [58] about the absence of any others fighting at Troy:

ἀλλὰ πάλιν τρωπᾶσθαι, ἐπὴν φάος ἐν νήεσσι
θήῃς, τοὺς δ’ ἔτ’ ἐᾶν πεδίον κάτα δηριάασθαι.
αἲ γὰρ, Ζεῦ τε πάτερ καὶ Ἀθηναίη καὶ Ἄπολλον
μήτε τις οὖν Τρώων θάνατον φύγοι ὅσσοι ἔασι,
μήτε τις Ἀργείων, νῶϊν δ’ ἐκδῦμεν ὄλεθρον,
ὄφρ’ οἶοι Τροίης ἱερὰ κρήδεμνα λύωμεν.

But turn back when you make a light among the ships,
and leave them [= Argives and Trojans] to fight on the plain.
In the name of father Zeus, Athena, and Apollo, I wish
that no one of the Trojans would escape death, as many as they are,
nor any of the Argives, but that we two alone would escape destruction
in order to loosen the sacred headbands of Troy.

The reason for these incremental changes in Achilles’ stance is, I believe, transparent and consistent with the whole trajectory of mênis in the Iliad, not at odds with it. The death of the person whom Achilles valued above all {162|163} others is the most devastating of events, but it is also consistent with the expression of philótēs that caused Achilles to send him out in his stead in the first place. It has made all too clear his own mortality, the solidary bond that definitively ties him to Patroklos and the Achaeans and severs him from his mother and Zeus. Achilles actually makes explicit the connection between Patroklos’s death and his now absolute awareness of the reality of his own death in a subsequent encounter with the Trojan Lykaon, a young man who had been fortunate enough to escape death from Achilles once before and now offers him a ransom (ἄποινα [21.99]) in exchange for his life:

ἀλλὰ, φίλος, θάνε καὶ σύ· τίη ὀλοφύρεαι οὕτως;
κάτθανε καὶ Πάτροκλος, ὅ περ σέο πολλὸν ἀμείνων.
οὐχ ὁράᾳς οἷος καὶ ἐγὼ καλός τε μέγας τε;
πατρὸς δ’ εἴμ’ ἀγαθοῖο, θεὰ δέ με γείνατο μήτηρ·
ἀλλ’ ἔπι τοι καὶ ἐμοὶ θάνατος καὶ μοῖρα κραταιή·
ἔσσεται ἢ ἠὼς ἢ δείλη ἢ μέσον ἦμαρ,
ὁππότε τις καὶ ἐμεῖο Ἄρῃ ἐκ θυμὸν ἕληται,
ἢ ὅ γε δουρὶ βαλὼν ἢ ἀπὸ νευρῆφιν ὀϊστῷ.

No, my friend, die, you, too; why are you lamenting so?
Patroklos, too, died, even though he was much better than you.
Don’t you see how big and fine I am?
I am the son of a noble father, and a goddess mother gave me birth;
but death and mighty destiny are upon you and me both.
It will be either dawn or afternoon or noontime
when someone in battle will pluck out my spirit, too,
either hitting me with a spear or an arrow from a bowstring.

Achilles’ triple repetition of adverbial καί ‘too’ makes it unmistakably plain that he has won (and so is conveying) a fearsome clarity about his own death and others’ through Patroklos’s. Moreover, there is a word in epic diction for the solidary bond that arises from a death in the community, and it is featured significantly in the context of Achilles’ progress toward philótēs and away from mênis. The word is kêdos, whose root meaning is thought to be ‘care, concern’, with two branching derivatives, ‘grief, funeral rites’ and ‘marriage bond, kinship by marriage’. The missing link that escapes and therefore mystifies this purely lexical derivation is social and concrete: the solidarity reconstituted in the community by rituals for the dead and by {163|164} marriage. [59] So when Kleopatre describes to Meleagros the kḗdea ‘(shared) woes’ that befall people whose city is captured (9.592), she succeeds in awakening his social conscience; or when Ajax describes himself and the others asking Achilles to return to the fighting as kḗdistoikaì phíltatoi hóssoi Akhaioí, “most caring … and dearest among all the Achaeans,” he is attempting to enforce the reciprocal obligations that bind them to Achilles and vice versa. So also when Achilles himself is offended by Phoenix’s apparent support for Agamemnon in book 9, he tells him “you should not be phílos to him, so that you will not become hateful to me, your phílos; it is good to aggrieve with me [kḗdein] whoever aggrieves me [kḗdei” (9.613–615). Here again it is a question of enforcing the solidarity between those who share grief. Finally, kḗdea is the cover term that both Achilles and Thetis use to denote the death of Patroklos when they first suspect it has occurred (18.8, 53). The basic point is simple: in the Homeric world, no one grieves alone, since death and the feelings it arouses are by definition social phenomena that bind people to each other like love itself. [60] Accordingly, Achilles’ grief at the death of Patroklos automatically generates a potent bond to the world of mortal men and women whose lamentation he now leads (18.315–316, 354–355).
There are three aspects to this bond that tie it to the present moment in the unfolding story and so determine the function and form of subsequent episodes. The first needs to be specified only from the standpoint of the end of the sequence. Achilles is now focused on his philótēs with Patroklos and the Achaeans, on avenging Patroklos by slaying Hector (18.89–93, 114–126). He evinces no wider perspective on his bond to the mortal race; a gruesome index of its narrowness is his promise to decapitate twelve Trojans over Patroklos’s grave (18.336–337). The second aspect is worth specifying in terms of previous episodes. The bond of philótēs and the formal reintegration of Achilles into Achaean society through the renunciation of his mênis and the public distribution to Achilles of the gifts from Agamemnon successfully terminate his alienation, and in a particularly poignant way. [61] Just as the inception of Achilles’ withdrawal was punctuated by the {164|165} oath on the scepter, in which Achilles correctly imagined himself in the third person being absent and missed by the Achaeans—

ἦ ποτ’ Ἀχιλλῆος ποθὴ ἵξεται υἷας Ἀχαιῶν

truly a longing for Achilles will come over the sons of the Achaeans,
all of them together.


—so now Achilles imagines his presence in the front ranks, fighting with his spear, in the same third-person format:

ὥς κέ τις αὖτ’ Ἀχιλῆα μετὰ πρώτοισιν ἴδηται
ἔγχεϊ χαλκείῳ Τρώων ὀλέκοντα φάλαγγας.

So some one of you would see Achilles in the front ranks once more
devastating the ranks of the Trojans with his bronze spear.

Achilles received his spear from his mortal father, Peleus, and did not give it to Patroklos when he went into battle; it contrasts with the immortal armor that Patroklos wore and the new armor Achilles is about to put on. So Achilles is imagining others perceiving his return to solidarity with the group, plying a weapon that in itself embodies the bond to mortality that his presence implies. [62] In this context, the third-person self-reference serves to bracket and highlight the group’s perception of a change in the hero’s relation to it. Achilles, who in his mênis was lost to the group and alienated even from his self—in short, a first person who was a third person, as in Rimbaud’s “Je est un autre”—has now become a present third person, a third person who is a first person—in other words, a phílos (recall Aristotle’s ἕτερος ἐγώ, “another I”). [63] As such, his versatile language behavior contrasts with Agamemnon’s inability, in this very same scene, to address Achilles directly as a “you,” as a member of the same social group as he, despite Achilles’ repeated success in doing so to him. [64]
The third aspect of Achilles’ philótēs is that, while it binds him to hu-{165|166}mans, it also distances him from the world of the immortals and the timḗ of Zeus. In analyzing the social and cosmic aspects of the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon in book 1, I noted that Achilles gave up his ties to the Achaean community in the name of his ties to the divine one. [65] Now he is moving in the opposite direction, working toward a resolution of any latent competition with Zeus inherent in his mênis as well as the overt competition with Apollo that implicitly threatens him with the god’s mênis. [66] As Gregory Nagy has shown, Achilles’ choice of kléos is predicated on his being the “best of the Achaeans.” In the context of the Theogonic myth of succession and the latent potential competition of Achilles with Zeus, his achievement of such superiority along with the metaphoric immortality conferred by the poetic tradition—for although the hero perishes, the kléos does not—looks like a compensation for Achilles’ lost chance to succeed Zeus. [67]
But that is not the only compensation that Achilles receives. There is also the armor made for him by Hephaistos to replace the armor Hector had stripped from Patroklos’s corpse. As Achilles reminds Thetis, Peleus had received his now-lost set of armor as a gift from the gods on the day “that they threw you into the bed of a mortal man” (18.84–85; cf. 17.194–197). The wedding of Peleus and Thetis is an event that resonates with the Homeric mênis theme because of the inherent danger in the sexual encounter of a mortal man with a goddess, but Achilles’ statement betrays the viewpoint of the goddess, for whom the encounter was a degradation in cosmic status. [68] It is as though the gift of the armor was a compensation intended to elevate the status of Peleus because it was immortal (ἄμβροτα τεύχεα [17.194, 202]). Actually, the usual epithet for objects crafted by Hephaistos, especially golden ones, is áphthitos ‘imperishable’, which is also the most archaic epithet of kléos. [69] So there are grounds to suggest the existence of an analogy between the armor given to Peleus, the armor given to Achilles, and the everlasting glory conferred upon Achilles by the epic tradition, kléos áphthiton. All these “immortal” compensations for death have a plausible Theogonic dimension as well, especially if we recall {166|167} that Hephaistos himself, the fabricator of Achilles’ panoplies, was born as the goddess Hera’s answer to Zeus’s “procreation” of Athena. [70] In the myth, Hera’s ability to generate, without Zeus’s participation, a male god with the ability to craft immortal, even “animated” objects for the conduct of war compensates for and competes with Zeus’s ability to confirm his sovereignty over the world by giving birth to a single divine child, Athena, whose sphere also combines craft and force. Hera’s competition is as much between herself and Zeus as between her son and Zeus, and Hephaistos himself reminds his mother of exactly such a predictably disastrous confrontation with his nonbiological father at the end of book 1. The idea seems to be that although Zeus’s male procreative powers and the sovereignty that they eternally guarantee are unique, the power of the consummate artisan to create metaphorical immortal children with a masculine form of craft is plausible competition for them. In parallel fashion, instead of cosmic sovereignty or literal immortality, Achilles, a hero who once refused to accept any form of restitution, will now accept substitutes that serve to define the upper limits of the human condition in contradistinction to the divine: the metaphoric immortality of representation in epic, and a metaphoric possession of the world in the form of a shield that is an immortal artistic representation of the cosmos created by the most cunning of divine artisans. Perhaps it is not a coincidence after all that the description of the contents of the shield begins, like the Theogony‘s cosmogony, with the making of earth and sky, Gaia and Ouranos. [71]
Indeed, Achilles’ new readiness to accept such symbolic compensation is signaled dramatically in the text. Massive devastation by celestial fire is the prime expression of mênis, but in book 18, when Achilles must rescue the corpse of Patroklos from the Trojans and has no literal weapons with which to do so, he stands at the top of the ditch while Athena wreaths his head with a golden cloud from which a shining fire blazes up into the bright sky (18.205–206, 214, 225–227). This metaphoric fire burns no one, for Achilles must obey his mother and remain at a distance from the battle until he is {167|168} really armed (18.215–216), but along with the perspicuous shriek [72] from Achilles and Athena that accompanies it, the fire disturbs the Trojans and rouses the Achaeans just enough to enable them to save out the body of Patroklos. I suggest that this fire from Achilles’ head is the fire of mênis converted into a symbolic instrument of the hero’s philótēs. In the aristeía ‘deeds of valor’ of Achilles that ensues upon his acquisition of the new panoply from Hephaistos, mênis is actually invoked in a simile to describe the devastation the hero wreaks:
αὐτὰρ Ἀχιλλεὺς
Τρῶας ὁμῶς αὐτούς τ’ ὄλεκεν καὶ μώνυχας ἵππους.
ὡς δ’ ὅτε καπνὸς ἰὼν εἰς οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἵκηται
ἄστεος αἰθομένοιο, θεῶν δέ ἑ μῆνις ἀνῆκε,
πᾶσι δ’ ἔθηκε πόνον, πολλοῖσι δὲ κήδε’ ἐφῆκεν,
ὣς Ἀχιλεὺς Τρώεσσι πόνον καὶ κήδε’ ἔθηκεν.
Meanwhile Achilles
kept on killing the Trojans themselves and their solid-hoofed horses alike.
As when the smoke rises up into the broad heaven
when a city is ablaze, and the mênis of the gods has sent it up,
and it has made suffering for all and set grief upon many.
So Achilles made suffering and grief for the Trojans.

The Teleology of Mênis in the Iliad

Achilles may appear to have shed his mênis, but he still situates himself with impunity in the powerful and dangerous place at or beyond the con-{168|169}ventional limits of behavior, for that is a continuing, even an abiding aspect of his persona. In other words, the teleology of Achilles’ mênis is metonymic. His philótēs has swallowed, not displaced it, in the same way that Zeus swallowed Metis herself. Achilles’ station at the limits of behavior is certainly the principle behind his abusive treatment of the corpse of Hector, which includes threats to eat it raw as well as violent attempts to disfigure it. [73] We have already seen how violation of the proper ritual treatment of the dead is an offense to thémis that is worthy of mênis. [74] So for Hector’s corpse, given the principle that mênis against Achilles himself has been suspended in the Iliad, [75] the gods are compelled to intervene. In book 23 (185–191), Aphrodite keeps dogs away from it day and night, and Apollo hides it with a cloud to prevent the sun from drying its sinews and limbs; again, in book 24 (18–21), Apollo hides it with a golden aegis to keep Hector’s skin intact and so prevent the corpse from being disfigured even though Achilles has dragged it behind his chariot around Patroklos’s tomb. In the meantime, nearly all the gods decide they should have Hermes steal Hector’s corpse. Only Hera, Poseidon, and Athena disagree, the narrator tells us, and cling to their original hostility to Troy, Priam, and Paris because of Paris’s insult to the other goddesses in choosing Aphrodite (24.25–30). [76] Apollo, who could share Poseidon’s inveterate hatred for Troy but does not, inveighs against Achilles’ intransigence and savagery:

ἀλλ’ ὀλοῷ Ἀχιλῆϊ, θεοὶ, βούλεσθ’ ἐπαρήγειν,
ᾧ οὔτ’ ἂρ φρένες εἰσὶν ἐναίσιμοι οὔτε νόημα
γναμπτὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι, λέων δ’ ὣς ἄγρια οἶδεν,
ὅς τ’ ἐπεὶ ἂρ μεγάλῃ τε βίῃ καὶ ἀγήνορι θυμῷ
εἴξας εἶσ’ ἐπὶ μῆλα βροτῶν, ἵνα δαῖτα λάβῃσιν·
ὣς Ἀχιλεὺς ἔλεον μὲν ἀπώλεσεν, οὐδέ οἱ αἰδὼς
γίγνεται, ἥ τ’ ἄνδρας μέγα σίνεται ἠδ’ ὀνίνησι.
μέλλει μέν πού τις καὶ φίλτερον ἄλλον ὀλέσσαι {169|170}
ἠὲ κασίγνητον ὁμογάστριον ἠὲ καὶ υἱόν·
ἀλλ’ ἤτοι κλαύσας καὶ ὀδυράμενος μεθέηκε·

but you gods want to help destructive Achilles,
whose mind is not within limits, nor is the thought
in his chest flexible, but he knows wild things like a lion
when he gives in to his great bíē and proud spirit
and attacks men’s flocks, to get himself a meal:
so Achilles has lost his pity, nor does he have
respect, which greatly harms and helps men.
A man may lose someone even more phílos ,
either a brother from the same womb or even a son;
but actually he weeps and laments and then lets go.

The diction here echoes earlier lines concerning persons whose actions merit the ultimate sanction [77] as well as Odysseus’s remarks about the Cyclops who devours his guests instead of feeding them: ἄγριον, οὔτε δίκας εὖ εἰδότα οὔτε θέμιστας, “a wild thing, one who knows well neither acts of justice nor thémistes‘‘ (9.215). [78] Like Ajax in book 9 (632–636), Apollo calls Achilles pitiless and contrasts his reaction to the loss of a friend to the loss of “someone even more phílos,” namely, a blood relative. So the current dispute about Hector’s corpse, which opposes Hera, Poseidon, and Athena to Apollo and Aphrodite, once more evokes the specter of mênis against Achilles and among the gods themselves. It is striking that the group of gods opposed to Apollo consists of the same three divinities who wished to bind Zeus in the Theogonic mênis story that Achilles told in book 1. Apollo’s view that Achilles must release Hector’s body is the one that Zeus adopts in order to resolve the dispute and the one opposed by the previously rebellious triad. So the conclusion of the story of Achilles’ mênis is evoking the same cosmic tensions as the beginning and the same principles for their resolution, namely, the exceptional capacity of Zeus to impose cosmic order, to bring about what thémis requires. [79] In the story told by {170|171} Achilles in book 1, his mother, Thetis, was instrumental in averting mênis and protecting the divine order from violent disruption; here in book 24, Zeus chooses her for the same role, which she fulfills not by sustaining him with a threat of overwhelming force but by asking her son, Achilles, to change his mind.
In fact, the story of Achilles’ abuse and subsequent ransom of Hector’s body recapitulates the major themes of the embassy to Achilles in book 9, but with a different outcome. It looks as though Achilles will continue in his antisocial behavior and refuse to comply with what Apollo is demanding, namely, that having lost and mourned someone phílos (there Briseis, here Patroklos), he finally ‘let go’ μεθέηκε (24.48). But as soon as Thetis comes to him with word that Zeus is angry and wants him to ransom Hector’s corpse (24.134–137), Achilles immediately acquiesces. The key to his agreement lies in what she says to him before relaying Zeus’s message:

τέκνον ἐμὸν, τέο μέχρις ὀδυρόμενος καὶ ἀχεύων
σὴν ἔδεαι κραδίην, μεμνημένος οὔτέ τι σίτου
οὔτ’ εὐνῆς; ἀγαθὸν δὲ γυναικί περ ἐν φιλότητι
μίσγεσθ’· οὐ γάρ μοι δηρὸν βέῃ, ἀλλά τοι ἤδη
ἄγχι παρέστηκεν θάνατος καὶ μοῖρα κραταιή.

My child, until what will you eat your heart out mourning
and grieving, remembering neither food
nor bed? It is good even to mingle with a woman in love [philótēs];
for you will not live long, but already
death stands beside you and mighty destiny.

Thetis reminds him about food, sex, and death—three things that will help him to let go of Patroklos, to end his mourning and give back the body of Hector, for the simple reason that all three are central to his philótēs, his solidarity with his fellow humans. Each layer of the epic cosmos, after all, is {171|172} delimited in terms of food, mortality, and sexual partners, be they mortal, immortal, or, in Achilles’ case, completely lacking. [80] In expressing the extreme grief he feels for his best friend by violently abusing Hector’s corpse, Achilles has placed himself once again at the edges of humanity, and his mother does nothing but reset him in his place in the human world. In doing so, Thetis also sets the agenda for the rest of the Iliad. By way of food, sex, and consciousness of mortality, Achilles is to define and enact his place in the world as a whole, to make plain his solidarity not only with Patroklos, the Myrmidons, and the Achaeans, but with the human race. That is the last incremental step in the teleology of Achilles’ mênis turned philótēs, and it has been prepared for by the whole trajectory of mênis in the poem up to this point.
The decision to return Hector’s body is the first step in the fulfillment of Thetis’s agenda. It signals the end of Achilles’ mourning for Patroklos. Moreover, Achilles turns his decision to ransom Hector into a reconfirmation of his solidarity with Zeus:

τῇδ’ εἴη· ὃς ἄποινα φέροι καὶ νεκρὸν ἄγοιτο,
εἰ δὴ πρόφρονι θυμῷ Ὀλύμπιος αὐτὸς ἀνώγει.

Let it be that way: whoever brings the ransom may also take the corpse,
if the Olympian himself wholeheartedly bids it.


In one gesture of acceptance, Achilles has ended both his latent conflict with Zeus and his overt conflict with Apollo. His language also affirms the rules of reciprocal exchange whose breach began the quarrel and mênis in book 1. As soon as Achilles accepts the idea of ransoming Hector, Zeus immediately acknowledges what it implies in terms of his philótēs:

αὐτὰρ ἐπὴν ἀγάγῃσιν ἔσω κλισίην Ἀχιλῆος,
οὔτ’ αὐτὸς κτενέει ἀπό τ’ ἄλλους πάντας ἐρύξει·
οὔτε γάρ ἐστ’ ἄφρων οὔτ’ ἄσκοπος οὔτ’ ἀλιτήμων,
ἀλλὰ μάλ’ ἐνδυκέως ἱκέτεω πεφιδήσεται ἀνδρός.

Now when he [Hermes] brings him [Priam] within the hut of Achilles, {172|173}
he himself will not kill him and he will restrain all the others;
for he is neither senseless nor inconsiderate nor wicked,
but he will very properly [81] spare a man who is his visitor. [82]


The adverb ἐνδυκέως ‘in proper ritual sequence’ occurs eight times in the Odyssey modifying the verb philéō ‘treat as phílos. [83] It is also made clear in the Odyssey that visitors and guests are like phíloi in that their proper treatment is a matter of thémis. [84] So Zeus understands Achilles’ simple assent to the exchange of Hector’s body as a guarantee of philótēs, of ritually proper behavior as a restrained and gracious host to old Priam.

As simple, popular, and conventional as was the open exchange offered by Chryses but rejected by Agamemnon in book 1, so arduous and tension filled and fragile is the hidden one that actually succeeds in book 24. For Priam to visit Achilles requires divine intervention by Hermes, given the concrete problem of passing unseen back and forth across enemy lines in a wagon with horses and mules. We are even told twice that it is crucial to escape the notice of Agamemnon, since his awareness of the transaction between Priam and Achilles would both delay it and make it much more costly (24.654–655, 686–688). Moreover, when Priam does arrive in Achilles’ hut, he carries out an act that “no other human ever yet endured” (24.505): he actually kisses the hand—and the hand is a regular metonym of a warrior’s destructive force, his bíē [85] —of the man who killed his children, Achilles. I have just spoken of the surprising readiness of Achilles to effect this exchange, but even that is almost compromised at one point, when Priam refuses Achilles’ offer that he be seated and asks him to hand over the corpse τάχιστα ‘most quickly’ (24.553–558). A breach of etiquette, that impatience riles Achilles enough to threaten Priam with physical harm in his own hut and in violation of the behests of Zeus (24.569–570). When Achilles’ companions are preparing Hector’s body to turn it over to Priam, they have it washed and anointed out of sight of both men, concerned, we are told, lest the sight of his son might grieve and anger Priam so that Achilles would get upset and kill him (24.582–586). {173|174}
In other words, Achilles is now operating at the boundaries of what is humanly possible, [86] but mainly because at this point he is testing the higher limits of the rules of exchange. When Priam arrives in his hut, he tries to win Achilles’ pity and respect by bringing to mind Achilles’ own father and imagining his loneliness but also the hope that Peleus has of seeing his son again (24.487–492). In contrast, he presents his own pitiable despair that has brought him to the extraordinary moment of actually supplicating the man who has slain so many of his own children (24.504–506). Priam’s speech elicits a bout of weeping from both men, Priam for Hector, Achilles for his father and for Patroklos (24.509–512). So the emotional claim that Priam makes on Achilles’ affection for his distant and lonely father is effective in turning each toward his own pain. But when they recover and Achilles begins to speak, he takes a step that appreciably extends the notion of philótēs: sympathetic identification with the father of his deepest enemy, the slayer of his best friend. [87] Twice Achilles sees their encounter through Priam’s own eyes, first in remarking on the courage it took Priam to come alone before the eyes of the man who killed many of his brave sons (24.519–521), then in imagining how Priam feels to have been so prosperous and to have suffered such loss of wealth and family (24.543–547). Bridging the gap between himself and Priam pushes Achilles yet one step further, into a definition of the human condition, into a concrete specification of what Priam and Achilles have in common as members of the human race. According to Achilles, what distinguishes mortals from gods is not just death or its absence, but kḗdea, the ‘griefs’ that ritually bind a bereaved community. [88] The gods have no kḗdea, but for human beings, they are the limiting condition. Grief over Patroklos is what made Achilles’ return to the human community absolute and irrevocable. Now, in the context of this almost impossible exchange, the bonds of kḗdea close the gap between Achaeans and Trojans, if only for the twelve days’ truce that Achilles promises to enforce for Hector’s funeral.
At the conclusion of Achilles’ consolatory meditation, Priam actually refuses his invitation that he be seated, on the grounds that Hector is still akēdḗs ‘ungrieved for’. Achilles takes offense at this refusal. He knows only too well that the gods have been instrumental in bringing about this ex-{174|175}change, he says, but he is not reluctant to undo it even so (24.563–570). Apparently Priam is rushing Achilles to effect the exchange; Achilles’ long perspective on human suffering is lost on Priam, just as the intensity of the old man’s unfulfilled grief escapes the younger man. [89] Yet the bonds of sorrow hold while Achilles slowly enacts the proper gestures. Once the body is cleaned and anointed and covered, Achilles himself places it on the litter with a vow to Patroklos explaining the ransom and promising him his share of it. Achilles’ touching participation in the ritual preparation of Hector’s body is a drastic turnaround from his abuse of it, but it also makes plain that the funeral of Hector has become an integral part of Achilles’ story, in that its kḗdea enact the humanness of both men. After Achilles finally partakes of food (24.621–627) and lies with a woman, Briseis (24.675–676), our version of the Iliad actually concludes with the funeral of Hector, because that funeral is in fact the teleology of Achilles’ mênis. It has become a token of the philótēs that incorporates and restores as it also transcends the conventional boundaries between mortals. Instead of succeeding Zeus as a cosmic sovereign, Achilles bequeaths to us the self-perpetuating artistic representation of an idealistic, disturbing, and consoling definition of the human condition. We are human and phíloi insofar as we eat, sleep, and grieve together.


[ back ] 1. On the meanings of therápōn as ‘ritual substitute’, see Lowenstam 1981 and below, 160 n. 54.
[ back ] 2. On the phíloi in this connection, see Sinos 1980; and Nagy 1979, 103–110. On the meaning of phílos, see Benveniste 1969, 1:338–353. On the etymology of phílos, see Schwartz 1982.
[ back ] 3. Achilles himself uses the synonym in 16.63 in reaffirming his commitment to Ajax to cease his mênis. Watkins (1977a and b) asserts that it is a euphemistic substitute for it, but I believe his argument in this regard requires qualification. See Appendix.
[ back ] 4. It is not apparent or explicit that a single Trojan ever mistakes Patroklos for Achilles. On the contrary, Sarpedon describes him as τοῦδ᾽ ἀνέρος, “this man” (16.423), as though he were a warrior otherwise unknown to him, and Glaukos unhesitatingly names Patroklos as the slayer of Sarpedon (16.543). Wearing Achilles’ armor has symbolic rather than literal value for Patroklos.
[ back ] 5. Magna Moralia 1213a11-13. There is a reformulation of this question and answer in Diogenes Laertius’s life of Zeno (7.23): ἐρωτηθεὶς τίς ἐστι φίλος, “ἄλλος,” ἔφη, “ἐγώ,” “When asked who is a friend, he said, ‘Another I.’” This answer, ἄλλος ἐγώ, ultimately gave rise to the Freudian term alter ego, by way of Erwin Rohde and Friedrich Nietzsche.
[ back ] 6. I am referring here to so-called Homeric double motivation, as described, for example, by Cedric Whitman (1958, 221–248, with n. 83), which is an aspect or a consequence of the reciprocity rules that govern the relationship between heroes and gods. On reciprocity in divine and heroic interaction, see Muellner 1976, 26–31.
[ back ] 7. See Chapter 4, 96–102.
[ back ] 8. See the discussion of Demeter’s mênis in Chapter 2, 23–25 above, and Loraux 1986.
[ back ] 9. The defining example is “Je est un autre” (Rimbaud, in Benveniste 1966). There are three other occasions known to me in which persons other than Achilles in the Iliad refer to themselves by name in this way: Hector does so in 7.75, and Zeus does so twice, in 8.22 and 470. The expressive value in all three instances is the converse of Achilles’—and Rimbaud’s. It is betrayed by the honorific epithets that Zeus applies to himself in line 22. The personage at the top and center of the social hierarchy is asserting his superiority over the group (‘‘I am so far beyond the gods and beyond human beings” [8.27]), which in Zeus’s case is actually preceded by a threat of the ultimate sanction (the mênis theme, not the word itself) against the other gods if any disobey his order (8.10–18). In other words, these are self-aggrandizing third-person references, like those in the war memoirs of Xenophon, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon. There is certainly a dangerous potential for alienation in such self-conscious grandeur, but that danger is hidden. The primary goal of this kind of third-person self-reference is to assert the status accruing to exceptional excellence.
[ back ] 10. Compare Thetis’s summary description of Achilles’ response to the loss of Briseis: ἤτοι ὃ τῆς ἀχέων φρένας ἔφθιεν, “He really withered his mind in his grief for her” (18.446). For another parallel, see Archilochus’s description (fr. 129 West) of his alienated thūmós — σὺ γὰρ δὴ παρὰ φίλων ἀπάγχεαι, “You are being choked off from the phíloi”—as discussed in Nagy 1979, 243–245.
[ back ] 11. On the meaning of the expression κλέα ἀνδρῶν, see Nagy 1979, 102–103. Since the sack of Eetion’s city represents the true narrative point of departure for the Iliad (as is apparent when Achilles retells the events of the first book to his mother, 1.366) as well as the origin of the scarce sources of prestige—Chryseis and Briseis—which are the engine of dispute within it, the lyre may be a metaphoric acronym of the epic song being sung on it by Achilles: his own. For the use of another sort of acronym, first lines, as titles of Serbo-Croatian epic songs, see Lord 1960, 286 n. 2, citing Lord and Parry 1954, 266–267, a discussion by Parry’s informant Nikola with a singer, Sulejman Makić, about identifying a song performance translated on 277–284. Makić’s way of identifying his song is by its first line, “Two pashas spent the winter…”
[ back ] 12. On the conventional opposition of battle and dance, see Muellner 1990, 83–90, including 85 n. 47; for the appeasement of mênis with song, see 1.472–474 (mênis of Apollo) and 603–604 (mênis of Zeus, with Chapter 4, 128). In contrast to those instances, note that Achilles’ song is expressly a heroic epic.
[ back ] 13. The sacrificial meal that Patroklos cooks is also noteworthy as the only one in the Iliad in which the meat is explicitly salted before being cooked (line 214). This is one of only two occurrences of the word ἅλς ‘salt’ in epic in which it is not a metonym for ‘sea’; the other is in Odyssey 17.455, where Odysseus disguised as a beggar complains of the ungenerous Antinoos οὐ σύ γ’ ἂν ἐξ οἴκου σῷ ἐπιστάτῃ οὐδ’ ἅλα δοίης, “You wouldn’t even give salt to your own home-born servant.” Although postepic sacrificial ritual distinguishes between the unsalted entrails that were cooked on a spit and eaten by intimates and the salted boiled meat eaten by everyone else (Detienne 1979, 75–77), the otherwise unmentioned salt on spit-roasted meat might be another token of intimacy among phíloi in this context.
[ back ] 14. Nagy 1979, 49–55 and 1992, 321–326.
[ back ] 15. The word ἀπήχθετο ‘is hated’ in 9.300 incorporates the root of ekhthrós ‘enemy’, the opposite of phílos. As Laura Slatkin points out (1988, 130–131), ekhthrós designates a personal, not a wartime enemy.
[ back ] 16. Whitman 1958, 192.
[ back ] 17. On the nature and function of potlatch as practiced by the Indians of the Pacific Northwest, see Mauss 1925 (English translations, Mauss [1967, 1990]). Note that Achilles in his response to Agamemnon’s offer is at some pains to assert that he and his father have many possessions of their own at home and at Troy—minus Briseis, of course (9.364–365, 393–400).
[ back ] 18. Whether or not Achilles has the material resources to equal such a list of gifts is not the issue. The point here is Agamemnon’s intention and Achilles’ apprehension of it. The circumstances and their results suggest that Agamemnon’s list of items represents an overwhelming offer, a conspicuous consumption that might devastate even his own resources but which he has the bravado to imply he can easily replace.
[ back ] 19. Detienne 1973, 83–98, esp. 88, which includes the following statement in its discussion of this passage: “La procédure préconisée par Ulysse permet donc de recréer les conditions d’un partage” [“The procedure stipulated by Odysseus makes it possible to re-create the circumstances of a division of spoils”].
[ back ] 20. See the previous note, and on the workings of the dasmós ‘division of spoils’, see above, Chapter 4, 103–108, esp. 106.
[ back ] 21. There is another, similar feature to this exchange process in book 19. When Agamemnon makes his “apology” to Achilles (19.78–144), the narrator calls attention to the fact that he makes it “right from his seat” and not “standing up in the middle” (19.77). Normally, the listeners in the assembly sit, and only the speaker “in the middle” stands. Presumably, Agamemnon remains seated because he is wounded and calling attention to the fact (19.47–52). He begins his speech by explaining that he is addressing Achilles himself (19.83–84) in such a way that others can listen, having a kind of public conversation with Achilles, whom he in fact addresses only in the third person, never in the second, throughout this scene (19.84, 89, 188), even though Achilles repeatedly addresses him in the second person (19.55, 146, 199). This quasi-withdrawn, remote way of speaking to Achilles seems to be an indication of just how difficult it is for Agamemnon to admit that Zeus (sic) is to blame for his mistakes, and he scarcely begins to interact socially with Achilles. Note also that Agamemnon is the last person to arrive at the assembly (19.51–52). Contrast Achilles’ complaint in book 9 (372–373) that Agamemnon is too shameless to look him in the face; this inability on his part may already be implicit in the insulting word κυνῶπα ‘dog-face’ that Achilles uses of him at 1.159, since dogs avert their eyes if humans stare them in the face.
[ back ] 22. On the association of the name of Achilles’ homeland, Phthia, with the opposite of his kléos, which is á-phthi-tos, see Nagy 1979, 184–185. For more evidence of dictional sensitivity to the meaning of the name Phthia, see 24.85-86 (cf. 16.461) of Sarpedon ἔμελλε / φθίσεσθ’ ἐν Τροίῃ ἐριβώλακι, “he [Achilles] was going to perish in very fertile Troy,” vs. Φθίῃ ἐριβώλακι (1.155, etc.), “very fertile Phthia.”
[ back ] 23. It is also strongly associated with Nestor, whom the narrator describes as “the very first to start weaving the mêtis” (πάμπρωτος ὑφαίνειν ἤρχετο μῆτιν) at 9.93 and also as playing a special role in instructing the ambassadors, particularly Odysseus at 9.179–81. On the nóos/mêtis of Nestor, see Frame 1978.
[ back ] 24. For instance, see Odyssey 13.254ff. For the connection of Odysseus’s mêtis with deceptive communication, see Nagy 1979, 52–53.
[ back ] 25. For Achilles as the hero of bíē, the traditional opposite of mêtis, see the discussion of this passage in Nagy 1979, 45–48.
[ back ] 26. On the contextual fixation of the loigòn amûn– phraseology with the mênis theme, see Nagy 1979, 75 and above, Chapter 4, 117 n. 48 and 126 n. 67.
[ back ] 27. These two attestations each of στεπτός and ἐπιγνάμπτω are their only metaphorical usages in the Iliad (and neither word occurs in the Odyssey or elsewhere in the epic corpus). Otherwise, ἐπιγνάμπτω is used of Asteropaios’s fruitless attempt to bend Achilles’ ashen spear (21.178) and στεπτός of men’s tongues (20.248) and their tunics (5.113, 21.31). In other words, the metaphorical usage of both of these words is contextually restricted to the mênis theme. Likewise, the simple adjective γναμπτός ‘flexible’ also has only one metaphorical usage in the Iliad, by Apollo of Achilles’ inflexible temperament as reflected in his maltreatment of the corpse (sic) of Hector, a mênis-worthy offense (24.40–41); see below, 185–187, and Nagy 1979, 109–110.
[ back ] 28. For the death of Patroklos at Apollo’s hands as an expression of mênis, see above, Chapter 1, 13–17, and for the hero’s átē in that context, see 16.685, 805. The link to Patroklos is especially significant in view of the identification of the description of Patroklos’s death with Achilles’ own (see below, n. 54), but this does not contradict the principle I shall formulate that within the Iliad, Achilles is immune to mênis. Still less should it be taken for a sign that Patroklos dies because of Achilles’ “mistakes.” Patroklos’s átē is specified as his failure to do what Achilles had told him. Insofar as Patroklos is a ritual substitute for Achilles, his death as the victim of Apollo’s mênis is a reflection of the rule that heroic mênis incurs mênis, but insofar as the Iliad is at pains to establish Patroklos’s responsibility for his own death and the glory due to him, it is also a reflection of the rule that Achilles cannot himself incur mênis. These two aspects of Patroklos’s death appear to be contradictory. They are in fact complementary and fundamental to the significance of his death in the poem, which makes clear to Achilles the identity of friends and the difference between them (not the individuality of single persons but the divisibility of friends). After all, when he learns of Patroklos’s death, Achilles does not feel guilty for having sent him out to fight; he regrets not having been at his side to ward off the harm (Iliad 18.98–126). For more on this question, see below, 161–162 with n. 56.
[ back ] 29. See above, Chapter 4, 125–128, 131–132.
[ back ] 30. See the discussion in Chapter 2, 32–33.
[ back ] 31. For Achilles’ attempts at corpse mutilation, see Segal 1971a and below, 168–173.
[ back ] 32. Kakridis 1949. In fact, the hero’s name is more often attached in antiquity to stories that resemble the folktale and its variants than to the tale told in Homer. For an Indo-Europeanist’s point of view on Meleagros, see Watkins 1986a and 1986b. I disagree with the historicist arguments of Jan Bremmer (1988), whose search for the original version of the Meleagros myth leads him to believe that there was no tale about him in antiquity prior to the epic one (44–45). Any given myth is multiform from the beginning, or to put it another way, even the supposed “first version” of a myth, were it recoverable, would only be one variant among many. Bremmer’s search for the original version of the myth is an imposition of Darwinism that depends on arguments from silence as well as the random and small proportion of texts that have survived from antiquity. What Bremmer explains away as semiliterate Greek “tolerance” of multiformity (50–51) was in its own context not tolerance of something peculiar but inexperience of any other situation. Nor is his narrow definition of folktale as lacking a clear protagonist (44) justifiable or pertinent; his rejection of the connection between the epic tale and the Aitolian folktale adduced by Kakridis rests upon that definition and his conviction that there is one recoverable, datable original version of the story. Bremmer also chooses to ignore the thematic parallels that Kakridis observes between the folktale and the epic tale, in particular, the one that he called “the ascending scale of affection.” On the level of content as well as form, such parallels are not to be ignored as evidence that the epic tale and the folktale are variants of each other. See also below, 153 n. 42.
[ back ] 33. Verbal forms of the root of the word Litai ‘Pleaders’ recur four times in the passage, at 9.574, 581, 585, and 591.
[ back ] 34. More precisely, it attests to the greater value of phíloi who are not blood relatives as against those who are. Blood relatives are included among the phíloi in epic society (the word phílos is even used of Meleagros’s mother in line 9.555, when she is the object of his anger), but that does not mean that the distinction the story is drawing is inoperative. The phíloi who are family members are a distinct solidary group within the phíloi in general. For examples of tales in which the opposite hierarchy is validated, see Kakridis 1949. The contrast between family and social solidarity is built into the traditional representation of the great Homeric heroes. See Muellner 1990, 70–71, on the similes in which heroes are conventionally likened to family-centered predatory animals, as against the wider army’s representation as the gregarious creatures who are their prey.
[ back ] 35. For the link between timḗ ‘honor, prestige, respect’ and philótēs ‘friendship, affection’ and their verbal and adjectival relatives, see Iliad 5.325–326, 17.576-577, 18.81ff. (N.B., these three concern the timḗ that Aeneas, Hector, and Achilles each hold for their respective phílos hetaîros, “beloved companion”), as well as 15.439, 9.450, 9.630-631, 16.460, 20.426, 24.66ff.; compare also Odyssey 15.543 = 17.56, 14.83–84, 8.309, and 10.38.
[ back ] 36. Agamemnon calls Achilles “this man” since he refuses to mention his name even in this speech of “apology” (see Edwards 1991, 245 on 19.83). See 142 n. 21, above. Note also Agamemnon’s view of the exchangeability of one person for “many hosts of fighting men,” a point of view that Achilles does not share (above, 102–108), even though the reference here is to him.
[ back ] 37. For the social nature of words for emotions in epic, see above, 138.
[ back ] 38. For the translation of mûthos as ‘speech act’, see Martin 1989, 14–42.
[ back ] 39. On the connotations of third-person address for Achilles, see above, 108 n. 34, 137 n. 9, and 136–138.
[ back ] 40. See above, 137–138. The other, similar irony in Ajax’s accusation, namely, that Achilles’ withdrawal from the social group was actually in the name of its own abused prerogatives and standards of conduct that it was unable or unwilling to defend, goes unnoticed in this context because of the blanketing effect of Ajax’s emotional appeal to the demands of friendship among warriors.
[ back ] 41. For the semantic restriction of the word ἵλαος ‘kindly’ to persons with mênis, see above, Chapter 4, 126 n. 69.
[ back ] 43. See Muellner 1976, 100–106, for the interpretation of the passage (18.497–508) and the argument that this figure represents Achilles himself. See also Westbrook 1992 for confirming Near Eastern parallels and precision on the details of the legal issues.
[ back ] 44. I am referring to the conceptual framework of Mary Douglas (1966): see above, Chapter 1, 26–28.
[ back ] 45. It may or may not be significant that Odysseus reports (9.677–694) to Agamemnon only the alienated response that Achilles gave to him, omitting the concessions Achilles subsequently made to Phoenix and Ajax. The epic conventions for relaying messages constrain messengers to report the message addressed to them in complete or abbreviated form; perhaps the audience is to take Odysseus’s report of the reply he received as a kind of acronym standing for all three replies. On the other hand, it is as though Odysseus did not even hear the interchanges between Phoenix and Ajax and Achilles. This “snub” may be a pendant to the “snub” by which Achilles addresses Phoenix and Ajax as his two dearest friends, ignoring Odysseus (on this issue, see Nagy 1992). In both cases, the phíloi receive treatment that separates them from Odysseus, and Odysseus has again snatched the initiative, this time as messenger, despite Achilles’ specific instructions to Ajax concerning which message to relay (9.649; compare line 657, ἦρχε δ᾽ Ὀδυσσεύς). See above, 139 with n. 14.
[ back ] 46. Howald 1924, 1946; on the thematic dimensions of the correspondence, see Nagy 1979, 104–117. Nagy understands the names to mean “stories about the ancestors” (115).
[ back ] 47. The passage—but not its relevance to Patroklos and Kleopatre—is featured by Kakridis (1949) in his discussion of the ascending scale of affection.
[ back ] 48. I agree with Nagy (1979) who supposes (105 and 115) that an earlier semantics of the collocation of πατήρ and κλέος was ‘the kléos of the ancestors’, that is, the stories told about them, as in the phrase τῶν πρόσθεν … κλέα ἀνδρῶν / ἡρώων, “the glorious deeds of the former men who were heroes” (9.524–525). (For πατέρες meaning ‘ancestors’, see, for example, Iliad 6.209.) Hector is using the phrase in a secondary context in which its meaning has been reinterpreted as “my father’s kléos,” on the assumption that Hector’s achievements reflect on Priam as well as himself, just as a hero’s identity consists in his own name and that of his father.
[ back ] 49. In support of this view, Lattimore translates line 61 ἤτοι ἔφην γε, “and yet I have said,” as though the moment stipulated in Achilles’ concession to Ajax had not actually arrived. But the particle ἤτοι serves to assert the truthfulness of a statement, not to introduce an objection to a previous one. See LSJ9 s.vv. ἤτοι and ἦ, and Denniston 1954, 553: on ἤτοι = ἦ τοι “τοι serves to bring home a truth of which the certainty is expressed by ἤ: ‘Verily, I tell you’.” Along the same lines as Lattimore, Richard Janko (1992, 323) wishes to restore an etymological meaning of “furiously” to ἀσπερχές in line 61 as against “ceaselessly” (D scholia); but cf. Chantraine 1968–79, s.v. who views “ceaselessly” as a semantic development from “furiously.” The historical semantics of the adverb αἰεί ‘always, without stopping’ are parallel; see Benveniste 1937. Scodel 1989 also vouches for Achilles’ word here.
[ back ] 50. To the paradoxical formulation of Whitman (1958, 137)—”Now he has paid the price of human loss for his godlike intransigence”—compare the views of Ruth Scodel (1989) or James Redfield (1975, 91–98). Janko (1992, 309–310) considers the situation “morally ambiguous” in that the death of Patroklos is a “punishment” but at the same time “the result of a set of misunderstandings.” To me this account of the situation seems internally inconsistent; the narrative is not morally ambiguous.
[ back ] 51. Note that the unequivocal implication of this language is that the fire set to the ships is actually a manifestation of Achillesmênis that Patroklos is extinguishing, and in fact it is a direct result of Achilles’ “passive” mênis. On the relationship between mênis and loigòn amûnai, see Nagy 1979, 75 and n. 26 above. On fire as the typical expression of mênis, see above, Chapter 1, 7, 18 and Chapter Chapter 4, 101–102. See above, 135-136 n. 4, on the absence of literal value in Patroklos’s “disguise” as Achilles.
[ back ] 52. Compare 24.391–395, where the disguised Hermes claims to be a Myrmidon who, because of Achilles’ anger at Agamemnon, passively witnessed Hector ἐπὶ νηυσὶν ἐλάσσας / Ἀργείους κτεὶνεσκε, “driving the Argives to the ships and killing them.” Significantly, the ship of Protesilaos is located next to Achilles’ ship (on the left side of it, toward the center of the ships, since Achilles’ is at the extreme right). Cuillandre 1943, 32–34.
[ back ] 53. For another interesting cross-reference, compare Thetis’s recounting to Hephaistos of the embassy to Achilles in book 9: τὸν δὲ λίσσοντο γέροντες / Ἀργείων, καὶ πολλὰ περικλυτὰ δῶρ᾽ ὀνόμαζον, “the elders [sic] of the Argives beseeched him, and named many very famous gifts” (18.448–449). The expression τὸν δὲ λίσσοντο γέροντες, “and the elders beseeched him,” recurs only in Phoenix’s description of the first group of ambassadors to Meleagros.
[ back ] 54. On the relationship between the death of Patroklos and the death of Achilles, see Pestalozzi 1945; Schadewaldt 1965, 155–202; and Kullmann 1960. The term therápōn, whose etymology was proposed by Nadia Van Brock (1959) and whose usage and significance in epic is studied in detail by Steven Lowenstam (1981), is a loan word from Hittite or Luvian that once meant ‘ritual substitute for the king’, a scapegoat who died in his stead. In other words, a role as the king’s ritual substitute lingers on in the theme associated with the title therápōn, even if the older lexical meaning of the term has long since been lost.
[ back ] 55. On the circumstances of the death of Patroklos, see above, 133–136, 145 n. 28 and Chapter 1, 13–17. The death of Patroklos as a victim of Apollo’s mênis pertains to the ritual antagonism between Achilles and Apollo and the rule that heroes with mênis (except Achilles) are susceptible to incurring it. If such a formulation appears contradictory, that is only a consequence of the fusion of the two phíloi, see above, n. 28.
[ back ] 56. For some commentators, what I characterize as regret is instead “guilt.” Guilty feelings are familiar to the modern reader, but appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, guilt is not a cultural universal, nor is it wise to retroject from our perspective the interior emotions of a poetic figure like Achilles who appears in a world in which feelings are so powerfully and effectively externalized. (That is not to say that the epic lacks a way of representing what it considers to be interior thoughts and feelings when it wishes to. I am referring to the convention of speaking to one’s thumós as exemplified by Hector’s monologue at 22.98ff.). The issue is important whatever one’s view on the question of whether Achilles should feel he is to blame for Patroklos’s death; but whether Achilles is or is not portrayed as “guilty” (in the emotional sense) cannot easily be separated from the question of whether or not he is guilty (in the moral sense). I suggest that he is not being portrayed as guilty in either sense, which is not to deny that he deeply regrets the death and wishes he had acted to prevent it.
[ back ] 57. This is the formulation of Sinos 1980, 104; see also Nagy 1979, 102–103. The point is to highlight the relationship between Patroklos’s name and his narrative function in this regard.
[ back ] 58. For the convention of wishing by Zeus, Athena, and Apollo as an avowed impossibility, see above, Chapter 4, 102 n. 21.
[ back ] 59. For analysis of the convergence of marriage and lament rituals and formulas, see Alexiou 1974, 120.
[ back ] 60. This extends to the expression of grief in γόος ‘public lament’, which in the traditional language of epic is the product of ἵμερος ‘desire’ (23.14, 108, 153, 24.507; cf. 24.227: γόου ἐξ ἔρον εἵην; ἵμερος is also sexual desire associated with Aphrodite and philótēs in its sexual sense (3.139, 14.198).
[ back ] 61. On the way in which Agamemnon’s compensation is awarded to Achilles by the group, see above, 141-142.
[ back ] 62. On the symbolic value attached to Achilles’ spear, see 16.140–144; Shannon 1975, 31; and Cypria fr. 3 (Allen).
[ back ] 63. See above, 136 with n. 5 for a grammatical analysis of Aristotle’s definition of friendship.
[ back ] 64. On Agamemnon’s reluctance to present himself in this scene, see above, 142 n. 21.
[ back ] 65. See above, Chapter 4, 114–116.
[ back ] 66. See above, Chapter 4, 96–102.
[ back ] 67. On the myth concerning Thetis’s choice to marry Peleus, see above, Chapter 4, 95–96, 121–123.
[ back ] 68. See above, Chapter 1, 18–28, for the dangerous dynamics of mortal men having sex with goddesses and its connection with the mênis theme.
[ back ] 69. As in 14.238ff.; 2.46, 186; 18.369–370. For the applications and meaning of áphthitos, see the comprehensive survey in Nagy 1979, 178–189, esp. sec. 8 n. 1. Nagy points out that the V scholia to 14.238 claim that everything made by Hephaistos is áphthitos (πάντα τὰ Ἡφαιστότευκτα ἄφθιτα). Cf. Nagy’s insight that things which are áphthitos have “compensatory” immortality (p. 189).
[ back ] 70. For an analysis of the birth of Hephaistos in the Theogony, see above, Chapter 4, 125–126. On the relationship between the name Hera and the noun ἥρως ‘hero’, see Pötscher 1961; and Householder and Nagy 1972, 770–771. See Nagy 1979, 187ff. for the additional analogical dimension of hero cult. Hera and Hephaistos help Achilles in his battle with the river Xanthos (21.324–382).
[ back ] 71. Pace Edwards 1991, 211, who sees (that is, he states but provides no argument for his preference) these lines as an inventory of the contents of the whole shield rather than “an anthropomorphic Gaia, Ouranos, and Thalassa.” The capitalization of nouns like Gaia and Ouranos begs the question: it remains to be seen that the distinction we posit between capitalized and uncapitalized forms of such words existed for the epic.
[ back ] 72. The shriek is described in visual terms (‘perspicuous’ ἀριζήλη [18.219 and 221]), I suggest, because it is analogous to the thunder of the thunderbolt. The adjective ἀρίζηλος is actually used of the thunderbolt in 13.244.
[ back ] 73. On the mistreatment, see Segal 1971a; on proper treatment of the body of the dead person, see Vernant 1989; see also above, 144 n. 27, 145.
[ back ] 74. See above, Chapter 2, 32–33.
[ back ] 75. Concerning this rule, see above, 131, 144–146.
[ back ] 76. Contrast Aphrodite’s care for Hector’s body in book 23. The current passage does not relate Poseidon’s hatred of the Trojans to the judgment of Paris, as supposed by the b and T scholia. The point being made is that all three divinities still retain their original hatred against the Trojans, including Paris, for his mistake: in stressing that mistake, the narrator specifically mentions the “goddesses” (24.29) he offended. Poseidon’s hatred, however, is due to the treatment he and Apollo received from Laomedon, an episode retold to Apollo by Poseidon at 21.441–457. There Poseidon appeals to Apollo on the basis of their solidarity in suffering at Laomedon’s hands and asks Apollo to retreat from conflict with Zeus (21.462–477) over the Trojans.
[ back ] 77. See above, 144–145, regarding Poseidon and Phoenix, with 144 n. 27 on the restriction of metaphorical forms of γναμπτ- to such contexts.
[ back ] 78. Also similar are the disguised Odysseus’s “lies” about the wanton acts he committed “giving in to his bíē and strength,” βίῃ καὶ κάρτεϊ εἴκων (Odyssey 18.139), a man “completely without thémis,” πάμπαν ἀνὴρ ἀθεμίστιος (18.141). The passage is suggestive for the hypothesis in Clay 1983 about the mênis of Athena against Odysseus himself, even if the “true” Odysseus is emphatically not a man of bíē but of cunning.
[ back ] 79. A simple and powerful principle of closure, by which the origins of conflict in a tale rise to the surface of the narrative at the moment of its conclusion, has long been understood as an element of the structure of book 24. So the Judgment of Paris is first explicitly discussed in 24.29–30, and the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis is brought to mind by Hera shortly thereafter (24.62). There are many other correspondences between books 1 and 24. Also central to this issue is Cedric Whitman’s fundamental insight that the Iliad recapitulates the whole of the Trojan War in terms of the tale of Achilles, which accounts for the place of the Catalog of Ships or the way in which Andromache’s anagnorisis is a metaphorization of the Fall of Troy (Whitman 1958, Segal [1971c], etc.), as well as the talk of the war’s beginning at the end of a poem about Achilles’ mênis.
[ back ] 80. For Greek cosmic definitions in terms of food, see Detienne 1994, and Detienne and Vernant 1979 (English translation, 1989); in terms of sexual partners, above, Chapter 1, 18–28, on the danger in sexual relations that cross cosmic boundaries.
[ back ] 81. Nagy (1996, chap. 2), has argued that the meaning of the word ἐνδυκέως, heretofore blandly glossed “kindly,” is “in proper ritual sequence.”
[ back ] 82. On the meaning of the term ἱκέτης ‘he who comes, visitor’ in Homer, see Muellner 1976, 87.
[ back ] 83. Odyssey 7.256, 14.62, 15.305, 15.543, 17.56, 17.111, 19.195, and 24.272.
[ back ] 84. See above, Chapter 2, 37–39.
[ back ] 85. As in Iliad 3.431, 12.135; Odyssey 12.246, 21.315, 373.
[ back ] 86. By using the word humanly I do not intend to retroject any cross-cultural or universal agenda; I mean humanly as the epic tradition finally defines it.
[ back ] 87. Richard Martin points out to me that Achilles’ extended definition in action of philótēs is strictly analogous to the traditional poet’s creative effect upon diction and theme; for more on the metapoetic aspect of Achilles, see above, 138–139.
[ back ] 88. On the meaning of this term, see above, 163–164. It is true that Thetis is a goddess with kḗdea, but that is exceptional and precisely because of the two mortals to whom she is bound, Peleus and Achilles (18.429–441).
[ back ] 89. For a similar refusal of an offer to sit and assume a distant perspective on the world, compare Hector’s rejection of Helen’s invitation that he ponder with her their fates which are “destined to become the subjects of song for generations to come” (6.354–358).