Chapter 5. The Death of Sarpedon and the Question of Homeric Uniqueness

It has been argued often, and in many ways, that the poetry of Homer is unique, transcending his poetic heritage. The point of departure for this presentation is a confrontation with one such argument, concerning the meaning of the Homeric expression kléos áphthiton ‘fame…imperishable’ at Iliad IX 413, cognate with the Indic expression śrávasákṣitam ‘fame...imperishable’ at Rig-Veda 1.9.7. I stress, at the very beginning, my own conclusion about these two expressions, following a long series of previous works leading to the same conclusion: [1] that Greek kléos áphthiton and Indic śrávasákṣitam are reflexes of a common Indo-European poetic expression. [2] An article concerning these two cognate expressions, however, stresses the differences between the Greek and the Indic contexts, concluding that the Homeric vision of imperishable fame is distinct and therefore unique to Homer. [3] In {122|123} reacting to this conclusion, I shall argue that, even if the Homeric expression kléos áphthiton ‘fame…imperishable’ has a distinctive meaning in comparison with the corresponding Indic expression, such distinctiveness can be explained nonetheless in terms of the actual traditions inherited by Homeric poetry. In other words, the themes underlying the Homeric expression kléos áphthiton, even if they have become semantically specialized in the overall context of the Iliad, may still reflect an Indo-European heritage. I shall also argue that these themes center on the concept of immortalization, transcending concerns about material wealth and security. Finally, I shall examine in detail, as further illustration of these themes, the Homeric story about the death and funeral of the Anatolian hero Sarpedon, as narrated in Iliad XVI.
Let us begin with the kléos ‘fame’ that Achilles predicts will he áphthiton ‘imperishable’ for him, in the sense that the reputation of this hero as conferred by epic poetry will survive him and last forever: [4]
εἰ μέν κ’ αὖθι μένων Τρώων πόλιν ἀμφιμάχωμαι,
ὤλετο μέν μοι νόστος, ἀτὰρ κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται·
εἰ δέ κεν οἴκαδ’ ἵκωμαι φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν,
ὤλετό μοι κλέος ἐσθλόν, ἐπὶ δηρὸν δέ μοι αἰὼν
ἔσσεται, οὐδέ κέ μ’ ὦκα τέλος θανάτοιο κιχείη
Iliad IX 412-416
If I stay here and fight in the siege of the city of the Trojans,
my homecoming [nóstos] is destroyed, but my fame [kléos] will be imperishable [áphthiton].
But if I return home to the beloved land of my ancestors,
then my genuine fame [kléos] is destroyed, but I will have a lengthy lifetime [aiṓn],
and my end in death will not overtake me quickly.
By contrast, it seems at first glance that the śrávas ‘fame’ for which the priests are praying in stanza 7 of Hymn 1.9 of the Rig-Veda is to be ákṣitam ‘imperishable’ only in the sense that it should last for a lifetime. In this instance, it has been claimed, the fame is contemporary, manifested in {123|124} “secure material possessions, festive celebrations, long life.” [5] The same claim is made for the related Indic expression ákṣiti śrávas at Rig-Veda 1.40.4, 8.103.5, 9.66.7. [6]
If, then, we are to defend the basic idea that Greek kléos áphthiton and Indic śrávasákṣitam are reflexes of a common Indo-European poetic expression, we must confront such claims of semantic differences between them. Let us for the moment concede that these differences do in fact exist. On the basis of such posited differences, it has been argued that “the Vedic pattern may actually be closer to the original meaning of the formula.” [7] According to this argument, the emphasis on material security in the context of Indic śrávas...ákṣitam follows an Indo-European model, whereas the context of Greek kléos áphthiton in the Iliad supposedly represents something of a Homeric innovation, as we witness Achilles deliberately rejecting the material security of a nóstos ‘homecoming’ (the word is used at IX 413) in favor of a transcendent “fame,” a poetic tradition that will survive him and will sing his glory forever.
This view concerning the distinctness of kléos áphthiton in Iliad IX 413 is at odds with the one that is advanced in my monograph on Greek and Indic meter, where I take the position that not only the Greek kléos áphthiton but also the Indic śrávas...ákṣitam convey the transcendent notion of a poetic tradition that will last forever, beyond today’s material wealth and security, and that this notion is in fact an inherited Indo-European poetic theme. [8] The disagreement can best be summed up by observing two different interpretations of viśvā́yur, one of the three epithets—besides ákṣitam—that qualify śrávas ‘fame’ at lines b and с of Rig-Veda 1.9.7. [9] Whereas I translate viśvā́yur as ‘everlasting’, [10] it has been suggested that the more appropriate rendering would be ‘lasting our lifetime.’ [11] Two other epithets are cited in support of the second interpretation: at line a of the same stanza, Rig-Veda 1.9.7 śrávas is also {124|125} qualified as vā́javat ‘rich in booty’ and gómad ‘rich in cattle’. It seems pertinent that Achilles himself, speaking of booty in general and mentioning cattle in particular at IX 406-407, goes on to say that all the booty that could be seized from Troy or Delphi is not worth as much as his own life (IX 401-405, 406-409), but that he will nevertheless lose his life in order to get something else that is indeed worth it, namely, kléos áphthiton (IX 413). By contrast, the śrávas...ákṣitam of Rig-Veda 1.9.7 is manifested precisely in the material security of booty in general and cattle in particular.
This disagreement over interpreting the Indic word viśvā́yur as epithet of śrávas ‘fame’ could be resolved by considering the etymology of the element -ā́yur, derived from -ā́yu-/ā́yus-, a noun meaning ‘lifetime’ on two levels, the human and the cosmic. In an important article, Emile Benveniste establishes the formal relationship of this Indic noun, along with its Greek cognate aiṓn, also meaning ‘lifetime’, with such other words as Greek aieí ‘forever, always’, Latin aeternus ‘eternal’, Avestan yauuaētāt- ‘eternity’, and so on. [12] It is not without interest that Greek aiṓn ‘lifetime’ occurs at Iliad IX 415, in the context of contrasting, on the one hand, the kléos that will outlast Achilles (Iliad IX 413) and, on the other, the material security that would be his if he went home (IX 414; the theme of material security here is made explicit at IX 400). The nóstos ‘homecoming’ of Achilles (IX 413) is associated with material security as expressed by aiṓn (IX 415), and yet, to repeat, this same word aiṓn is related to another word aieí which actually means ‘forever’! Moreover, the formulaic combination áphthiton aieí is attested in Homeric diction (II 46, 186; XIV 238), and there is even an instance of the combination kléos áphthiton aieí in archaic piece of poetry inscribed in the seventh century B.C. (κλεFος απθιτον αιFει: DGE no. 316).
It seems safe to conclude, then, that from the standpoint of the Indo-European language family the notion of material wealth and security is not incompatible with the notion of eternity. To put it another way: the transcendent notion of eternity is actually visualized in terms of the material. Thus, for example, the word aiṓn, which is to be realized for Achilles in his possession of material wealth after a safe homecoming, has a built-in temporal sense by virtue of designating the vital force that keeps one alive and without which one would not be alive. [13] The notion of ‘duration’ extends to ‘age’, ‘generation’, with an open-ended perspective on the future: the cosmic vital force maintains an unending succession of generations, as we see clearly from the semantics of the Latin {125|126} cognate aetas/аеternus. [14] The Greek adverb aieí corresponding to the noun aiṓn is ‘forever’ in the original sense of a perpetual starting over (e.g. Iliad I 52). [15] Such a perpetual starting over can be described as an “eternal return.” [16]
Moreover, the theme of personal immortalization is conventionally expressed in archaic Greek poetry by images of material wealth and security: witness the epithet ólbioi ‘blessed’ (from ólbos ‘wealth’) as applied to the immortalized heroes of the fourth generation of mankind (Hesiod Works and Days 172). [17] To cite another example: when the mortal Ino becomes immortalized as the White Goddess after death, she gets a bíotos ‘life’ that is áphthitos ‘imperishable’ (Pindar Olympian 2.29). [18] Similarly, whenever one’s aiṓn is threatened by destruction, this threat can be expressed by verbs with root phthi- ‘perish’ (Odyssey v 160, xviii 204). Further, just as á-phthi-to- ‘imperishable’ can express personal immortalization, it can combine with kléos ‘fame’ to express the perpetuity of the poetic tradition that glorifies the one who is immortalized. Thus, for example, Ino not only gets a bíotos ‘life’ that is áphthitos ‘imperishable’: she also gets a kléos ‘fame’ that is, again, áphthitos (Hesiod F 70.7 MW).
By contrast, Achilles must give up his aiṓn ‘lifetime’ (IX 415), dependent on his nóstos ‘return, homecoming’ (IX 413), if he is to achieve a kléos that is áphthiton (IX 413). And yet, the word aiṓn, to repeat the conclusions of Benveniste, conveys the theme of an “eternal return.” [19] This theme of returning into an afterlife is also pertinent to the word nóstos ‘return, homecoming’, as the work of Douglas Frame has shown. [20] Here, then, is the basic difference between the kléos áphthiton of Iliad IX 413 and the śrávas…ákṣitam of Rig-Veda 1.9.7: Homeric poetry has separated not so much the theme of material wealth from the theme of perpetuity but rather the theme of personal immortalization from the theme of immortalization by way of poetry. Achilles is in effect saying {126|127} that he chooses immortality as conferred by the Iliad over immortality as conveyed by the material visualizations of aiṓn and nóstos. [21]
The point remains, however, that the themes of material wealth and security, as conveyed by the epithet áphthito- ‘imperishable’, are in fact compatible with the themes of transcendent personal immortalization. [22] If the kléos áphthiton ‘fame...imperishable’ of Achilles is to be considered distinct, it is so only to the extent that this hero of the Iliad places the importance of his being immortalized by epic even higher than the importance of his own personal immortalization.
This is not to say, however, that the theme of personal immortalization is minimized by Homeric poetry. Given the specialized value system of Achilles, we may note that the Iliad itself provides the backdrop of a more generalized outlook where the theme of personal immortalization is clearly not incompatible with the theme of immortalization by epic in general and by the Iliad in particular. The case in point is the death and funeral of the Lycian hero Sarpedon, as narrated in the Iliad.
In considering this narrative about Sarpedon, I shall adduce three general principles established in three distinct fields, each of which has a direct bearing on the question of Homeric uniqueness. The fields are: (1) archaeology, (2) comparative linguistics, and (3) the study of “oral poetry.” I propose to outline the three principles field by field, and then to correlate them with the passage describing the death and funeral of the hero Sarpedon, Iliad XVI 419-683.
First, we consider archaeology. We have already seen that the eighth century B.C., the era in which the Iliad and Odyssey were reaching their ultimate form, is as important for our understanding of Homeric poetry as is the late second millennium B.C., the era that provides the overt {127|128} subject matter for both of these epics. [23] What archaeology tells us is that the Hellenic institution of hero cults is shaped in the eighth century B.C., the same era that shaped the Iliad and Odyssey. [24] As Erwin Rohde emphasizes, the hero as a figure of cult must be local because it is a fundamental principle in Greek religion that his supernatural power is local. [25] On the other hand, the hero as a figure of epic is pan-Hellenic and consequently cannot have an overtly religious dimension in the narrative. [26] Such a restriction on the self-expression of Homeric poetry led Rohde to misunderstand the elusive evidence of the Iliad and Odyssey on heroes as cult figures. His belief was that the general Homeric silence on the subject of hero cults implies an absence of even the ideological background. [27] And yet, even Rohde had to admit that a central scene like the Funeral of Patroklos in Iliad XXIII preserves pervasive and unmistakable signs of cult. [28]
In fact, a general argument can be made that Homeric poetry is permeated with references—direct as well as oblique—to heroes in their religious dimension as figures of cult. [29] For the moment, however, I confine myself to citing the one central scene that Rohde himself acknowledged as just such a reference. This scene, the Funeral of Patroklos in Iliad XXIII, happens to be an ideal point of transition to the second of the three principles to be considered in evaluating the narrative about the death and funeral of Sarpedon in Iliad XVI. This time the field is comparative linguistics. As for the principle in question, the briefest of summaries will suffice: as we have already seen, not only is the Greek language cognate with other Indo-European languages such as Hittite and Indic, but also various Greek institutions are cognate with the corresponding institutions of other peoples speaking other Indo-European languages. [30] The case in point is one particular set of details where the evidence about a Greek institution can be matched with corresponding evidence attested in other societies with an Indo-European linguistic heritage. I refer to the Funeral of Patroklos in Iliad XXIII, as compared with the royal funerary rituals that are recorded in official Hittite documents. [31] The convergences in detail between the Iliadic scene and the standard Hittite ritual are so strikingly close as to {128|129} suggest a common Indo-European heritage. [32] When we add the comparative evidence of funerary rituals and ancestor worship in the Indic traditions, the thesis of a common Indo-European heritage is further reinforced. [33]
The relevance of the Hittite and the Indic comparative evidence to the archaeologist’s perspective cannot be emphasized enough: for instance, the evidence of cognate Hittite and Indic procedures in cremation makes obsolete the archaeological controversy over the cremation of Patroklos. Since inhumation seems to have been the standard procedure for the Hellenic people in the second millennium B.C., with cremation becoming common only in the first millennium, the cremation of Patroklos and other heroes in Homeric poetry has been interpreted as a phenomenon characteristic of the first millennium from the archaeological point of view. [34] The evidence of comparative linguistics, however, suggests that the procedures of cremation as attested in Homeric poetry are in fact so archaic as to reflect customs going back to a time even before the entry into Greece, in the beginning of the second millennium, of the Indo-European language that ultimately became the Greek language. [35] To put it another way: the literary testimony of Homeric poetry is in this case far more archaic than the archaeological testimony of Mycenaean civilization.
This is not to say, however, that the evidence of comparative linguistics on matters of ritual simply bypasses the second millennium B.C. I cite the Greek word therápōn, which is a borrowing, sometime in the second millennium, from one of the Indo-European languages spoken at that time in the area of Anatolia. [36] The given language may have been Hittite, Luvian, or some unattested near-relative, but in any case the evidence that we have for the word that was borrowed as therápōn comes primarily from Hittite: there the word appears as tarpan(alli)- or tarpašša-, corresponding to Greek therápōn and its by-form theráps respectively. In Hittite the word means ‘ritual substitute’. The entity requiring substitution is as a rule the king himself, and tarpan(alli)-/tarpašša-his alter ego (“un autre soi-même”), a projection upon whom the impurities of the king and of the community that he represents may be ritually transferred. [37] Here again the evidence is applicable to the death and {129|130} funeral οf Patroklos; there is a Greek reflex of the Hittite semantics in the Iliadic application of the title therápōn to Patroklos (Iliad XVI 244, etc.), the hero who was killed while wearing the armor of Achilles and who functions in the Iliad as the actual surrogate of Achilles. [38]
Mention of the Greek word therápōn is pertinent to the focus of this presentation in what follows, namely, the death and funeral of Sarpedon in Iliad XVI. We shall have occasion to see the deployment of another key word that is, again, of Anatolian origin, and again this word conveys the ritual dimension of the hero in epic. Before we can examine the word in question, however, the actual tradition of the Sarpedon story in the Iliad has to be defended. Some influential Homerists have cast doubt upon the authenticity of this tradition, arguing that the death of Sarpedon in Iliad XVI is a derivative story modeled on the death of Memnon as reflected in the Aithiopis. [39] This point of view has been seconded on an iconographical as well as literary basis by those who argue that the theme of the dead Memnon’s removal by Eos is a basic and pervasive tradition among the Hellenes, and that the parallel theme of the dead Sarpedon’s removal by Apollo seems by comparison marginal and flawed by artistic inadequacies. [40]
Such a line of argumentation, however, misses one of the most basic principles to be learned from the fieldwork of Milman Parry and Albert Lord in the realm of “oral poetry.” This principle is also the third and last of the three principles to be considered and then applied to the Iliadic passage describing the death and funeral of Sarpedon. To put it briefly: in oral poetry, a given theme may have more than one version or variant, but such multiplicity of thematic variants does not mean that any one of them is somehow basic while the others are derivative. In terms of any operating system of oral poetics, each thematic variant is but a multiform, and not one of any variants in a given isolated grouping may be treated as a sort of Ur-form. [41] The same principle applies also to the study of myths in general. In the case of the Sarpedon story, to prove that it has artistic inadequacies that do not exist in the Memnon story is not the same thing as proving that one was modeled on the other. Each multiform can be expected to have its own inadequacies, and all we can say is that some may have more inadequacies than others. But even this value judgment may be a matter of cultural bias: it is possible that the very criteria of adequacy and inadequacy are in this and other instances {130|131} too narrowly based on the vantage point of one particular multiform that has for whatever reason become canonical.
The kind of reasoning that leads to the discounting of one variant as an invention based on another variant is but a symptom of a more general oversight that commonly afflicts the study of Homer; in our struggle to come to terms with the concept of “oral poetry,” we tend to forget something more fundamental, that oral poetry is traditional poetry. An oral poet does not make up stories: rather, he retells stories that his audience has heard before and expects to hear again. As Albert Lord observes, “The picture that emerges is not really one of conflict between preserver of tradition and creative artist; it is rather one of the preservation of tradition by the constant re-creation of it. The ideal is a true story well and truly retold.” [42]
With these thoughts in mind, we are ready to consider the Greek word of Anatolian origin that occurs in the lliadic passage telling of the death and funeral of Sarpedon, son of Zeus himself. After this prominent Lycian prince dies at the hands of Patroklos, the plan of Zeus is that Apollo should remove his body by having the twins Húpnos ‘Sleep’ and Thánatos ‘Death’ convey it to his homeland of Lycia (Iliad XVI 454-455, 671-673). At this point, the following sequence of events is to happen:
ἔνθα ἑ ταρχύσουσι κασίγνητοί τε ἔται τε
τύμβῳ τε στήλῃ τε · τὸ γὰρ γέρας ἐστὶ θανόντων
Iliad XVI 456-457 = 674-675
and there his relatives and comrades will give him a funeral [verb tarkhúō]
with a tomb and a stele, for that is the privilege of the dead.
The conventional translation, ‘give a funeral to’, for the verb tarkhúō is inadequate, as we shall presently see. If indeed this story of Sarpedon—as also other Homeric stories—is a faithful retelling of a genuine tradition, then its Lycian setting assumes added significance. As it happens, the Lycian language is Indo-European in origin and closely related to Hittite and Luvian. In Lycian, there is a word trqqas, which designates a god described as one who smashes the wicked; [43] this form is directly related to Luvian Tarḫunt-, which is the name of the storm-god who is head of the Luvian pantheon. [44] There is also a Hittite version, attested as {131|132} Tarḫu- in theophoric names; it is also attested as the adjective tarḫu-, meaning ‘conquering, victorious’. [45] This whole family of noun-formations stems from the verb tarḫ- ‘conquer, overcome’, which can be reconstructed as the Indo-European root *terh2-. [46]
To sum up the point of this brief etymological survey: all indications are that the Greek verb tarkhúō is a second-millennium borrowing from an Anatolian language, and that the form borrowed was something like tarḫu- ‘conquering, victorious’. This explanation of tarkhúō has been tentatively accepted in Pierre Chantraine’s authoritative Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque. [47]
We are still left, however, with the problem of translating Greek tarkhúō. Since the form tarḫu-, as we have seen, can designate a divinity in the Anatolian languages, Chantraine follows Paul Kretschmer’s example in interpreting the Greek expression ἔνθα ἑ ταρχύσουσι at Iliad XVI 456 = 674 as ‘and there they will treat him like a god’. [48] We may compare the Hittite expression designating the death of a king or queen in the royal funerary ritual: DINGIRLIM-iš kišat ‘[he or she] becomes a god’. [49] The adverb ἔνθα ‘there’ in the Greek expression ἔνθα ἑ ταρχύσουσι refers to the dêmos ‘district’ of Lycia (Iliad XVI 455, 673; cf. 683). [50] I draw attention to this word dêmos in the context of the aforementioned fact that cult is a localized phenomenon in archaic Greek religion. I also draw attention to the following Homeric expression involving this same word dêmos:
...θεὸς δ’ ὣς τίετο δήμῳ
Iliad V 78, Χ 33, XI 58, XIII 218, XVI 605
...and he got tīmḗ [honor] in the dêmos, like a god
The verbs tī́ō/tīmáō ‘honor’, and the corresponding noun tīmḗ ‘honor’, are crucial, since one of their uses in Greek is to designate the ‘honor’ that a god or hero gets in the form of cult; this usage is not recognized as a distinct category in the dictionary of Liddell and Scott, although it is richly attested in the language of archaic poetry and prose. [51] If indeed {132|133} cult is also implied in the Homeric formula presently under consideration, then we could immediately justify Chantraine’s interpretation of ἔνθα ἑ ταρχύσουσι at Iliad XVI 456 = 674 as ‘and there they will treat him like a god’: in the dêmos of Lycia, Sarpedon will get tīmḗ ‘honor’ just as a god would. [52]
What still stands in the way, however, is that the Homeric formula θεὸς δ’ ὣς τίετο δήμῳ ‘and he got tīmḗ [honor] in the dêmos, like a god’ applies in each attestation to a hero who is still alive, whereas Sarpedon has already died. In fact, the procedure designated by the verb tarkhúō at Iliad XVI 456-674 is equated at Iliad XVI 457 = 675 with the procedure of providing the dead Sarpedon ‘with a tomb and a stele, for that is the privilege of the dead’. We should keep in mind the archaeological evidence of the second millennium B.C. and thereafter, which suggests that a tomb and a stele are indeed standard features that mark the burial of the dead. [53] The problem is, how to reconcile this perspective of the hero as an apparent figure of cult with that of the hero as a figure of epic?
The solution to this problem, I suggest, lies in the actual contexts of the formula announcing that a given hero ‘got tīmḗ [honor] in the dêmos, like a god’ (Iliad V 78, X 33, XI 58, XIII 218, XVI 605). In each of these contexts, the hero appears in the function of either priest or king:
  • V 77-78          Dolopion as priest of Skamandros
  • X 32-33          Agamemnon as king of all the Argives
  • XI 58-60         Aeneas as grouped with the Antenoridai; at II 819-823 he and the Antenoridai are described as joint leaders of the Dardanians
  • XIII 216-218   Thoas as king of the Aetolians
  • XVI 604-605   Onetor as priest of Zeus Idaios
The sacral aspect of priests is in these cases overt, but not that of kings. As we turn from Homeric to Hesiodic poetry, however, we find an overt attestation showing that kingship is not only sacral but also intrinsic to the hero as a cult figure who gets his due tīmḗ.
The passage in question is the Hesiodic description of the Gold and Silver Generations of mankind, Works and Days 109-142. As Erwin Rohde has shown, the essence of the Gold and Silver Generations is that {133|134} together they form a complete picture of the generic cult hero. [54] A review of the manifold details would go far beyond the scope of this presentation, [55] and I confine myself here to the themes of kingship and tīmḗ.
After the death of the Gold Generation is narrated (Works and Days 116, 121), they are described as possessing what is called the géras basilḗion ‘honorific portion of kings’ (γέρας βασιλήιον 126). We have already seen the word géras ‘honorific portion, privilege’ in a context where it designates the funerary honors accorded to the corpse of Sarpedon—honors that included the procedure designated by the verb tarkhúō:
ἔνθα ἑ ταρχύσουσι κασίγνητοί τε ἔται τε
τύμβῳ τε στήλῃ τε· τὸ γὰρ γέρας ἐστὶ θανόντων
Iliad XVI 456-457 = 674-675
and there his relatives and comrades will give him a funeral [verb tarkhúō]
with a tomb and a stele, for that is the privilege of the dead.
It is worth noting in this connection that the Gold Generation ‘died as if overcome by sleep’ (θνῇσκον…ὥσθ’ ὕπνῳ δεδμημένοι Works and Days 116), whereas the corpse of Sarpedon was flown to Lycia by Húpnos ‘Sleep’ and Thánatos ‘Death’, who are described as “twins” (Iliad XVI 672). Since the word géras ‘honorific portion, privilege’ in Hesiodic diction and elsewhere represents a specific manifestation of tīmḗ (as in Theogony 392-396), [56] we can correlate what is said at Works and Days 126 about the Gold Generation’s royal géras with what is said later about the Silver Generation: after the death of this next generation is narrated, they are described as
δεύτεροι, ἀλλ’ ἔμπης τιμὴ καὶ τοῖσιν ὀπηδεῖ
Hesiod Works and Days 142
second in rank—but nevertheless they too get tīmḗ.
The irony here is that the Silver Generation, which represents the nega{134|135}tive and latent side of the cult hero, earned an untimely death from Zeus for the following reason;
οὕνεκα τιμὰς
οὐκ ἔδιδαν μακάρεσσι θεοῖς οἳ Ὄλυμπον ἔχουσιν
Works and Days 138-139
because they did not give tīmḗ [plural] to the blessed gods who control Olympus.
This theme, that a hero gets tīmḗ even though he failed to give tīmḗ to the gods, is a key to understanding the religious ideology of god-hero antagonism, but a proper treatment of this subject would again go far beyond the scope of this presentation. [57] It will suffice for now to observe that the Silver Generation’s failure to give tīmḗ to the gods is in part equated with their failure to make sacrifice to them:
ὕβριν γὰρ ἀτάσθαλον οὐκ ἐδύναντο
ἀλλήλων ἀπέχειν, οὐδ’ ἀθανάτους θεραπεύειν
ἤθελον οὐδ’ ἔρδειν μακάρων ἱεροῖς ἐπὶ βωμοῖς,
ἣ θέμις ἀνθρώποισι κατ’ ἤθεα
Hesiod Works and Days 134-137
for they could not keep wanton outrage [húbris]
from each other, and they were unwilling either to be ministers to [verb therapeúō] the immortals [58]
or to sacrifice on the altars of the blessed ones ,
which is the socially right thing for men, in accordance with their local customs.
In other words, the factor of tīmḗ is here expressed directly in terms of ritual sacrifice.
Our survey of formulas involving the concepts of tīmḗ and dêmos leads to the following conclusion: the hero who gets tīmḗ from the dêmos is said to be “like a god” because he is thereby being treated as a cult figure. In Homeric poetry, of course, the generic hero is predominantly a figure of {135|136} epic, and his dimension as figure of cult has to be latent—basically because he is still alive. Once he is dead, however, the perspective may change, as in the case of Sarpedon: the verb tarkhúō, designating what his relatives and comrades do to the dead hero, conveys the notion that he is being treated like a god—which is the epic way of saying that he is being treated like a cult figure.
It does not follow, however, that we may dismiss as poetic fancy the traditional notion that a hero is being treated like a god by virtue of getting tīmḗ from the dêmos. The institution of hero cult is visualised, from the religious standpoint of the institution itself, as a form of immortalization after death. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, for instance, the young hero who is protégé of the goddess loses his chance to be exempt from death (verses 260-264) but is offered as compensation a tīmḗ that is áphthitos ‘imperishable’ (verse 263). [59] In the following three verses, the ritual form of this tīmḗ is then actually made explicit: the youths of Eleusis will hold a festival of mock battles at a given season every year for all tīmḗ to come (265-267). In other words, the cult hero is being awarded the permanent institution of a yearly ritual in his honor. [60] It is not without interest that the name of this young protégé of Demeter who becomes a cult hero is Dēmophóōn (e.g. 234), which apparently means ‘he who shines for the dêmos’. [61]
If we now contrast Demophon as hero of cult with Achilles himself as a hero of epic, we can see more clearly the Homeric perspective on the very nature of being a hero. Whereas Demophon gets as compensation for his mortality a tīmḗ that is áphthitos ‘imperishable’, Achilles says that he will get as compensation for his own untimely death a kléos ‘fame’ that is áphthiton ‘imperishable’ (Iliad IX 413). As we have already seen, this word kléos designates the ‘fame’ that a hero gets specifically by way of poetry. [62] The ultimate hero of the Iliad is in effect saying that he will be immortalized by his own epic tradition. We have here the essence of the Homeric perspective: the theme of a hero’s immortalization has been shifted from the realm of cult to the realm of epic itself. Accordingly, Homeric poetry tends not to speak in a direct fashion about immortalization because Homeric poetry presents itself as the very process of immortalization.
This is not to say, however, that Homeric poetry ignores the dimension of cult: rather, it places itself above cult. The kléos that the hero {136|137} earns in Homeric poetry by way of valor in battle serves to validate and even justify the tīmḗ, ‘honor’ that he gets at home from his dêmos ‘district’. While he is still alive in the Iliad, Sarpedon himself says so:
Γλαῦκε, τίη δὴ νῶι τετιμήμεσθα μάλιστα
ἕδρῃ τε κρέασίν τε ἰδὲ πλείοις δεπάεσσιν
ἐν Λυκίῃ, πάντες δὲ θεοὺς ὣς εἰσορόωσι,
καὶ τέμενος νεμόμεσθα μέγα Ξάνθοιο παρ’ ὄχθας,
καλὸν φυταλιῆς ἀρούρης πυροφόροιο;
τῶ νῦν χρὴ Λυκίοισι μέτα πρώτοισιν ἐόντας
ἑστάμεν ἠδὲ μάχης καυστείρης ἀντιβολῆσαι,
ὄφρα τις ὧδ’ εἴπῃ Λυκίων πύκα θωρηκτάων
“οὐ μὰν ἀκλεέες Λυκίην κάτα κοιρανέουσιν
ἡμέτεροι βασιλῆες, ἔδουσί τε πίονα μῆλα
οἶνόν τ’ ἔξαιτον μελιηδέα‧ ἀλλ’ ἄρα καὶ ἲς
ἐσθλή, ἐκεὶ Λυκίοισι μέτα πρώτοισι μάχονται.”
Iliad XII 310-321
Glaukos, why is it that you and I get the most honor [verb tīmáō, from tīmḗ] of all,
with a special place to sit, with choice meats, and with full wine-cups,
in Lycia, and everyone looks at us as gods,
and we are allotted a great témenos [sector of land] at the banks of the Xanthos,
fine land, orchard and wheat-bearing ploughland?
And so it is our duty to take our stand in the front ranks of the Lycians, and to meet blazing battle head-on,
so that one of the heavily armored Lycians may say of us: “Indeed it is not without kléos that our kings
are lords of Lycia, who feed upon fat sheep
and drink choice sweet wine, since they have genuine strength
and since they fight in the front ranks of the Lycians.”
On one level, the examples of tīmḗ recounted by Sarpedon to Glaukos can function as attributes of a living epic hero who happens to be a king; on another level, however, each example can be matched with a corresponding sacral honor accorded to a cult figure. As we know from Greek religious practices attested in the historical era, cult heroes receive libations, [63] choice cuts of meat placed on a special table, [64] and {137|138} the allotment of a témenos in the sense of ‘sacred precinct’. [65]
From the standpoint of the Iliad, then, Sarpedon’s goal is to get a kléos that matches the tīmḗ that he already has at home in Lycia. From the standpoint of cult, however, this tīmḗ would be possible only after he dies, so that the epic perspective has the logical sequence reversed: by placing epic above cult, Homeric poetry allows the hero, even before he dies, to have the kind of tīmḗ that befits a cult hero. What he still has to earn by dying is kléos itself.
Sarpedon then goes on to say that he and Glaukos should be prepared to die in battle at Troy (Iliad XII 326-328), and that he would choose to escape from battle only if escaping entailed immortality (322-325). The implication seems to be that the welcoming of death may succeed in bringing immortality where the avoidance of death has failed: after all, both tīmḗ and kléos, which are in store respectively for the hero of cult and the hero of epic after death, are áphthito- ‘imperishable’ (τιμὴ...ἄφθιτος Homeric Hymn to Demeter 263; κλέος ἄφθιτον Iliad IX 413).
The same sort of implication can be found in the words of Hera at Iliad XVI 440-457, where she tells Zeus that he must not permit Sarpedon to escape death in battle and thus send him back home to Lycia alive (see especially line 445). Implicitly, Sarpedon would then have tīmḗ without having had to experience death. The exemption of Sarpedon from death in battle, Hera says to Zeus, would be without precedent: in her words, “beware lest some other divinity may wish to send his or her son back home, away from the battle” (Iliad XVI 446-447). Instead, Hera suggests, Zeus should let his own dear son die at the hands of Patroklos, after which Thánatos ‘Death’ and Húpnos ‘Sleep’ will take Sarpedon’s body back home to the dêmos ‘district’ of Lycia (XVI 450-455). Immediately after these verses, we come upon the verse that describes the ritual performed on Sarpedon’s corpse, as designated by the verb tarkhúō (XVI 456, repeated at 674). From the context of Hera’s words, we now see that the action conveyed by this verb is presented as a compensation for the death that Sarpedon must experience. From the other contexts that concern the theme of compensation for mortality, we also see that the verb tarkhúō entails the theme of immortalization after death—in a way that is yet to be defined. That is to say, the verb tarkhúō indicates not only that the relatives and comrades of Sarpedon will treat him like a cult figure but also that he will thereby attain some form of immortalization after death. [66] {138|139}
The explanation of tarkhúō that I have just offered is corroborated by the evidence of comparative linguistics. The Indo-European root *terh2-, which survives as Hittite tarḫ- ‘conquer, overpower, overcome’, also survives as Indic tar(i)- ‘overcome, cross over’, which takes the shape -tur- in compounds (e.g. ap-túr- ‘crossing over the water’). The latter formation corresponds to the -tar- of Greek nék-tar, the substance that sustains the immortality of the Olympian gods; furthermore, the root nek- in nék-tar is the same as in Latin nex ‘death’ and Greek nék-us/neh-rós ‘corpse’. [67] Thus the word nék-tar must once have meant something like ‘overcoming death’; in fact, there is a kindred combination of concepts, even words, in archaic sacral Indic poetry, where the verb tar(i)- ‘overcome’ is actually attested in a context where mr̥tyú- ‘death’ is its direct object (Atharva-Veda 4.35.1d-6d). [68]
This evidence not only provides yet another argument for the heritage of an Indo-European poetic language. [69] More immediately, it also gives us a broader perspective on the semantics of Greek tarkhúō. To put it another way: the meaning of Greek -tar- in nék-tar, where the root is directly inherited from Indo-European, may help us comprehend the meaning of Greek tarkhúō, where the stem tarkhu- is indirectly inherited from Indo-European by way of a Greek borrowing from the Anatolian language family. [70] I draw special attention to the corresponding Anatolian form tarḫu- as it appears in Hittite tarḫu- ‘victorious’ and in Luvian Tarḫunt-, the name of the storm-god who is head of the Luvian pantheon—and who wields the thunderbolt: as his attribute. [71] Perhaps these formations convey the theme of overcoming not just evildoers or other such immediate obstacles, but also the ultimate obstacle of death itself. [72]
Let us look for a parallel in the figure of Zeus himself, head of the Greek pantheon and wielder of the thunderbolt in his own right. With {139|140} his thunderbolt, Zeus can cause both the death and the immortalization of heroes. We may take for example the poetic tradition that tells how Semele became immortalized as a direct result of dying from the god’s thunderbolt (Pindar Olympian 2.25, in conjunction with Hesiod Theogony 942). [73] Then there is the case of Herakles, son of Zeus, who is struck by the thunderbolt of his divine father and thereby elevated to Olympus as an immortal (Diodorus Siculus 4.38.4-4.39.1). [74] Finally, we may consider yet another son of Zeus, none other than the Lycian king Sarpedon, whose dead body undergoes a process designated by the verb tarkhúō. I submit that this process entails immortalization of the hero after death.
The fundamental difference, however, between the explicit immortalization of Herakles and the implicit immortalization of Sarpedon is that the first is narrated as an event on the level of myth whereas the second is narrated as an event on the level of ritual. Still, the myth and the ritual are complementary aspects of one ideology. The rituals of cult are a code that can convey the same message as that conveyed by the code of the myth. On a formal level, we can see most clearly the complementary function of myth and ritual in expressing the theme of immortality by considering the name Ēlúsion ‘Elysium’. We may turn to the renowned passage in Odyssey iv 561-569 where this name designates a special place of immortalization for heroes, and indeed the concept of Elysium has become a permanent fixture of Western civilization. But we seldom hear of what ancient commentators on Greek religion have to say about élúsion as a plain noun. In the Alexandrian lexicographical tradition (Hesychius s.v. Ἠλύσιον), the word is glossed as κεκεραυνωμένον χωρίον ἢ πεδίον ‘a place or field that has been struck by the thunderbolt’, with this added remark: καλεῖται δὲ καὶ ἐνηλύσια ‘and it is also called enēlúsia’. This definition is confirmed by the testimony of Polemon (F 5 Tresp), who explains that enēlúsion is a place made sacred by virtue of having been struck by a thunderbolt; also, the adjective enēlúsios is attested in Aeschylus TGF 17 as an epithet of the hero Kapaneus, who was struck dead by the thunderbolt of Zeus. [75] We may compare the semantic relationship of enēlúsios/enēlúsion with that of hierós/hierón ‘sacred’/’sacred place’. Moreover, the body of the thunderstruck Kapaneus is described as hieró- ‘sacred’ in Euripides Suppliants 935. [76] {140|141}
Besides Ēlúsion, there is also another example of a form that serves to designate both a place of immortalization on the level of myth and a cult site on the level of ritual. In Hesiod Works and Days 171 we hear of a place called Makárōn nêsoi ‘Islands of the Blessed’, where heroes who fought in the Theban and Trojan wars are immortalized after death (167 and following). [77] But there is also a tradition according to which the name Makárōn nêsos ‘Island of the Blessed’ was actually applied to the old acropolis of Thebes, the Kadmeion; specifically, the name designated the sacred precinct where Semele, the mother of Dionysus, had been struck by the thunderbolt of Zeus (Parmenides in Suda and in Photius s.v. Μακάρων νῆσος; Tzetzes on Lycophron 1194, 1204). [78]
Let us return for one last viewing of the corpse of Sarpedon. It is appropriate to notice that the Iliad contains other indications of his impending immortalization besides the verb tarkhúō at XVI 456 = 674. Each of these indications requires a discussion that would go beyond the scope of this presentation, and I will content myself with merely listing them as signposts for future elaboration:
  • Apollo bathes the body of the dead hero Sarpedon in a river (Iliad XVI 669 and 679). [79]
  • Apollo anoints the body of Sarpedon with ambrosíē 'ambrosia' (XVI 670 and 680) [80] and clothes it in vestments that are ámbrota 'immortalizing' (same line). [81]
The name Sarpēdṓn applies not only to the hero but also to various places associated with the mythological theme of abduction by winds or by birdlike Harpies. [82] This theme is expressed by way of various forms containing the verb-root harp- ‘snatch’ (as in hárpuia ‘Harpy’ and harpázō ‘snatch’), which may be formally connected with the element sarp- of Sarpēdṓn. [83] In this connection, I cite the following observation: “It is not too surprising that Homer makes Sarpedon the subject of the only big {141|142} snatch in the Iliad, though he transformed the carriers from lady birds to Sleep and Death, to match more familiar configurations of epic mortality.” [84]
The snatching of Sarpedon’s body by Húpnos ‘Sleep’ and Thánatos ‘Death’ (XVI 454, 672, 682) can he correlated with the manner in which the hero faints and dies. As in the case of other Homeric heroes, Sarpedon loses his psūkhḗ when he dies (XVI 453) as also earlier when he falls into a swoon from a terrible wound (V 696). Nowhere in Homeric poetry, however, is a hero ever described as regaining his psūkhḗ when he is revived from a swoon. [85] This rigorous stricture in Homeric diction implies that the reintegration of the psūkhḗ with the body is understood as immortalization, the overt expression of which is programmatically avoided in the Iliad and Odyssey. [86] Still, the manner in which Sarpedon recovers from his swoon seems to be a latent expression of this hero’s destiny of immortalization: Sarpedon is revived by a blast from Boreas the North Wind (V 697). We note that it was to a rock named Sarpēdṓn that Boreas snatched Oreithuia away (scholia to Apollonius of Rhodes 1.211 = Pherecydes FGH 3 F 145). [87]
Coming now to the end of this inquiry into the death of Sarpedon, we are left perhaps even more mystified than ever by this uncanny Anatolian analogue of a Herakles. There are so many ramifications waiting to he explored that this presentation amounts to a set of questions more than answers. But this much at least is certain: Homeric epos is a repository of secrets about life and death—secrets that it will never fully reveal. In the case of Sarpedon, his Anatolian heritage allows a glimpse behind the veil of Homeric restraint—and the secrets are almost given away. {142|143}


[ back ] 1. For a thorough bibliographical dossier, see Schmitt 1967.61-71.
[ back ] 2. N 1974a, esp. pp. 140-149, 244ff. On the metrical factors that may be involved in the tmesis of śrávas and ákṣitam, see N 1979b.630n6.
[ back ] 3. Floyd 1980. The germ of the present chapter is derived from the article N 1981, which was written in response to Floyd’s arguments. There is another article that goes further than Floyd, Finkelberg 1986 (who cites Floyd 1980 but not N 1981a), claiming that the Homeric expression kléos áphthiton at Iliad IX 413 is not even an inherited formula. For a critique of Finkelberg, see [A.T.] Edwards 1988; also Watkins 1989. In response to Finkelberg’s argument that kléos áphthiton as used at Iliad IX 413 is not a “self-contained unit,” I point to the discussion in N 1974a.104-109, where the relationships that link the phrase-types κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται (as at IX 413), κλέος ἔσται (as at VII 458), and κλέος ἄφθιτον (as at Sappho F 44.4 V) are explored from the perspective of a less narrow understanding of “formula.” I agree with Finkelberg that κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται at IX 413 is coefficient with κλέος οὔποτ’ ὀλεῖται as at II 325. I can also accept the possibility that κλέος οὔποτ’ ὀλεῖται does not occur at IX 413 because ὤλετο is already present at the beginning of the line. But I disagree with her inference that the presence of κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται instead of κλέος οὔποτ’ ὀλεῖται at IX 413 is an innovation; it could be an archaism that survives precisely for the stylistic purpose of avoiding word duplication. As a general approach to poetics, I suggest that allowance should always be made for the possibility that more archaic forms can be activated in situations where the more innovative device is inappropriate. For an illuminating discussion of the usage of relatively older and newer forms in poetics see Meillet 1920.
[ back ] 4. See N 1974a.244-255.
[ back ] 5. Floyd 1980.135.
[ back ] 6. Floyd p. 135.
[ back ] 7. Floyd p. 139.
[ back ] 8. N 1974a.244-255. For an effective answer to those who question the antiquity of this theme, see Risch 1987, esp. p. 4, where he points out a crucial oversight on the part of most experts who have expressed their views on the Greek epithet áphthito- ‘imperishable’ and its Indic cognate ákṣita-. Cf. also Watkins 1989.
[ back ] 9. I follow Schmitt 1967.19n114 and 73n446 in interpreting the form viśvā́yur at Rig-Veda 1.9.7 as the neuter of viśvā́yus-, agreeing with śrávas ‘fame’, rather than viśvā́yu-, supposedly agreeing with índra. Granted, there are passages where viśvā́yu- is indeed attested as agreeing with índra- (e.g. Rig-Veda 6.34.5), but there are also clear attestations of neuter viśvā́yus- (Wackernagel and Debrunner 1939.291; concerning the tendency for -ā́yu to be displaced by -ā́yus- in the second part of compounds, see Wackernagel and Debrunner 1954.479). For a reading of viśvā́yur at Rig-Veda 1.9.7 as agreeing with índra, see Watkins 1989.
[ back ] 10. N 1974a.110.
[ back ] 11. Floyd 1980.136n6.
[ back ] 12. Benveniste 1937. Not cited by Floyd 1980.
[ back ] 13. Benveniste p. 109.
[ back ] 14. Benveniste pp. 105, 109.
[ back ] 15. Benveniste pp. 105, 109.
[ back ] 16. Benveniste p. 100.
[ back ] 17. See N 1979a.169-170 §30n2. On heroes as portrayed in the Works and Days, cf. also Vernant 1985.101, 104, 106. I interpret the μὲν at line 166 of the Works and Days as parallel to μὲν at lines 122, 137, 141, 161, not to μὲν at line 162 (pace West 1978.192). The discussion of cyclical regeneration at N pp. 168-172 is in line with Benveniste’s notion (p. 112) that aiṓn is visualized as the synthesis of the finite and the infinite in the form of a circle.
[ back ] 18. See N pp. 175 § 1n4, 203 § 41n2.
[ back ] 19. Benveniste 1937.110
[ back ] 20. Frame 1978. See also pp. 92ff.; the discussion here of the relationship between nóos/nóstos and psūkhḗ is pertinent to the expression ψυχὴ πάλιν ἐλθεῖν ‘that the psūkhḗ come back’ at Iliad IX 408. The observations of Frame pp. 145-152 about the links between the themes of immortality and cattle in Indo-European poetic traditions are pertinent to the discussion above of the epithet gómad ‘rich in cattle’ at Rig-Veda 1.9.7.
[ back ] 21. For more on the Iliadic theme of Achilles’ immortalization by way of epic, see n 1979a.174-210. Note, too, that the hero Odysseus, unlike Achilles, achieves both a kléos and a nóstos (N pp. 36-41). From this point of view at least, the epic about Odysseus may indeed be considered to be closer to the Indo-European pattern. Moreover, in light of the connotations of the epithet ólbioi ‘blessed’ as discussed above, we may note in passing the expression lāoì… | ólbioi at Odyssey xi 136-137, mentioned in the context of Odysseus’ ultimate ‘homecoming’: the setting of Odysseus’ future death implies rebirth into an Elysian status, parallel to the status of the immortalized heroes on the Islands of the Blessed (as at Hesiod Works and Days 172, cited above). For other aspects of the theme of rebirth in the Odyssey, see Newton 1984.
[ back ] 22. In the course of arguing that kléos áphthiton is a Homeric innovation, Finkelberg 1986.5 asserts that the application of áphthito- to an “incorporeal entity” like kléos ‘fame’ is a “semantic innovation”; at p. 4 she argues that, on the grounds that áphthito- applies mostly to “material objects,” the “concrete associations of the term must have been the original ones.” I question such a weighing of statistical predominance in determining what is “original.” And I point out a salient feature, not noted by Finkelberg, in the contexts where áphthito- applies to “material objects”: the concrete associations are otherworldly ones (cf. N 1974a.244-255).
[ back ] 23. See pp. 9-10.
[ back ] 24. See pp. 10-11.
[ back ] 25. Rohde 1898 1:184-189.
[ back ] 26. Cf. N 1979a, esp. p. 342.
[ back ] 27. For a sensible critique, see Hack 1929.
[ back ] 28. Rohde 1898 1:14-22.
[ back ] 29. N 1979a.69-117.
[ back ] 30. See p. 2.
[ back ] 31. As edited by Otten 1958.
[ back ] 32. See p. 85.
[ back ] 33. See p. 85.
[ back ] 34. E.g. Andronikos 1968.76.
[ back ] 35. As I stressed in ch. 4, I do not claim that cremation was the definitive Indo-European funerary ritual. I argue only that cremation was clearly one of perhaps several different types of Indo-European funerary ritual.
[ back ] 36. Van Brock 1959; cf. N 1979a.33, 292-293; also p. 48 above.
[ back ] 37. Ban Brock p. 119.
[ back ] 38. Householder and Nagy 1972.774-776; cf. also Sinos 1980 and Lowenstam 1981.
[ back ] 39. E.g. Schadewaldt 1965.155-202.
[ back ] 40. Clark and coulsen 1978.
[ back ] 41. Cf. Lord 1960.100.
[ back ] 42. Lord p. 29.
[ back ] 43. Laroche 1958.98-99; Heubeck 1959.32-35.
[ back ] 44. Laroche pp. 98-99; cf. Watkins 1974.107.
[ back ] 45. Laroche pp. 90-96.
[ back ] 46. Laroche p. 96. Also Watkins 1990.
[ back ] 47. DELG 1095.
[ back ] 48. DELG 1095; Kretschmer 1940.103-104.
[ back ] 49. Otten 1958.119-120.
[ back ] 50. For the semantics of dêmos as ‘district’, see DELG 273-274; by extension, the word comes to mean ‘people of the district’ (e.g. Odyssey vii 11).
[ back ] 51. Prose: cf. the use of tīmḗ at Herodotus 1.118.2 (cult of god) and 1.168 (cult of hero); cf. also the use of tīmáō at 1.90.2, 2.50.3, 2.75.4, 5.67.4-5. Poetry: cf. the use of tīmḗ in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter 311-312, where the theme of the gods’ getting “honors” is correlated explicitly with the observance of their cults by mortals (also lines 353, 366-369); for commentary, see Richardson 1974.260-261. For more evidence from poetry, see Rudhardt 1970.6-7. See also in general Rohde 1898 1:99n1.
[ back ] 52. See Kretschmer 1940.104 on the later literary and epigraphical evidence for the local cult of Sarpedon and Glaukos as heroes in Lycia. In Lycian Xanthos, there is also epigraphical evidence for a dêmos ‘deme, district’ named Sarpēdónios (Kretschmer p. 104).
[ back ] 53. Andronikos 1968.114-121.
[ back ] 54. Rohde 1898 1:91-110.
[ back ] 55. I have attempted such a review in N 1979a.151-173.
[ back ] 56. Benveniste 1969 2:43-50.
[ back ] 57. See N 1979a.118-150.
[ back ] 58. The use of therapeúō ‘be a therápōn [minister]’ may have deeper significance. As Sinos 1980 has shown, the therápōn in Homeric narrative is an inferior look-alike who can function as the equal of his superior look-alike and thus be invulnerable—so long as he serves him. Once he leaves his superior look-alike and acts on his own, however, the therápōn loses his invulnerability and dies, thus fulfilling his function as ritual substitute; see p. 48 above.
[ back ] 59. On the semantics of áphthito-, see pp. 124ff.
[ back ] 60. Richardson 1974.245-248.
[ back ] 61. Fuller discussion in N 1979a.181-182. In Greek vase inscriptions, the form ΔΕΜΟΦΑΟΝ is actually attested: see Richardson pp. 236-237.
[ back ] 62. See p. 26.
[ back ] 63. Burkert 1985.194, 205.
[ back ] 64. On the practice of trapezṓmata, see Gill 1974. Sarpedon’s royal diet of mutton (Ili ad XII 319) may be correlated with archaeological discoveries at Eretria showing that sheep are the usual victims sacrificed to heroes (see Hadzisteliou Price 1973.136).
[ back ] 65. On the témenos as a sacred precinct, see Burkert 1985.84-87; on the precincts of Pelops and Pyrrhos, see Burkert 1983.93-103 and 119-120, respectively.
[ back ] 66. This interpretation can be extended to the only other Homeric attestation of tarkhúō besides Iliad XVI 456 = 674, namely, Iliad VII 85. The dead body in this case is that of the hypothetical hero who is to answer Hektor’s challenge to fight whoever is the “best of the Achaeans” (see VII 50) in one-to-one combat (VII 67-91). Elsewhere, I argue that the words of Hektor ironically apply to Achilles himself (N 1979a.26-41), and that Achilles himself is destined for personal immortalization in alternative epic traditions that are implicitly recognized by the Iliad (N pp. 174-210 and 317-347).
[ back ] 67. Thieme 1952. See also Schmitt 1967.186-192. The objections raised against this etymology have been convincingly refuted by Schmitt 1974.
[ back ] 68. Schmitt 1967.190.
[ back ] 69. Schmitt pp. 190-191; cf. Householder and Nagy 1972.771-772.
[ back ] 70. DELG 1094 at least allows for the possibility that the Greek word tárīkhos ‘smoked fish, mummy’ is a related borrowing. In Herodotus 9.120 the word is applied to the corpse of the hero Protesilaos, who in this context is believed to be endowed with supernatural powers. See N 1987c.
[ back ] 71. On Tarḫunt- and the thunderbolt, see Laroche 1958.95.
[ back ] 72. Cf. the contexts assembled by Laroche pp. 90-91.
[ back ] 73. In the Pindaric narrative, Semele’s abode of immortality is Olympus itself. See also Diodorus Siculus 5.52, Charax FGH 103 F 14.
[ back ] 74. Cf. Rohde 1898 1:320-322.
[ back ] 75. Burkert 1961.
[ back ] 76. Cf. also the testimony of the Thurian gold leaves at A1.4, A2.5, A3.5 (Zuntz 1971.301-305), where the persona of the dead man is represented as declaring in each instance that his immortalization was preceded by death from the thunderbolt.
[ back ] 77. On the association, at Hesiod Works and Days 172, of the word ólbioi with the heroes who inhabit the Islands of the Blessed, see N 1979a.170 §30n2.
[ back ] 78. Burkert 1961.212n2.
[ back ] 79. Cf. the theme of the “baths of Okeanos” at Iliad XVIII 489 = Odyssey v 275, as discussed in N 1979a.201-204. In the case of Iliad XVI 669 and 679 it is possible that these verses referred originally to the local waters of the Lycian river Xanthos (cf. Iliad II 877, V 479, VI 172).
[ back ] 80. Note that ambrosíē is used in Homeric diction as a synonym of néktar; in other words, ambrosia and nectar do not seem to be specialized always as food and drink respectively (see Schmitt 1974.158).
[ back ] 81. On the use of ámbroto- and its derivatives to designate the notion of ‘immortalizing’ as well as ‘immortal’, see Thieme 1952.
[ back ] 82. See Vermeule 1979.242n36 and 248n36 on the “Harpy Tomb” of Xanthos. On the theme of death/immortalization in the form of abduction by winds, see N 1979a.190-203.
[ back ] 83. On the morphology of -ēdṓn, see Risch 1974.61. More on Harpies at pp. 243ff. below.
[ back ] 84. Vermeule 1979.169.
[ back ] 85. See p. 90.
[ back ] 86. See pp. 90ff.
[ back ] 87. Cf. Vermeule 1979.242n36.