The Homeric Poems after Ionia: a Case in Point

Douglas Frame


The general topic of this paper is the reception of the Homeric poems in mainland Greece after their substantial formation in Ionia in the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC. The case in point is Sparta in the late seventh and early sixth centuries BC in the aftermath of the Second Messenian war. I argue that Sparta, after expelling a surviving Pylian population from the Peloponnesos in the Second Messenian war, began to promote the idea that the Homeric city of Pylos had not been in Messenia in the first place, but further north. The crucial evidence to be confronted in promoting this radical idea was precisely the Homeric poems, in which Nestor’s Pylos figures prominently. By following the details of the ensuing controversy, which affected the Homeric text in certain points, and which involved the Homeric Hymn to Apollo in a fundamental way, it is possible to assess more fully what the Homeric poems had become in the minds of mainland Greeks a century after the poems’ substantial formation in Ionia.
The argument, which involves close analysis of both texts and geography, is meant to demonstrate that there was a “fixed text” of the Iliad and the Odyssey by the time the Pythian half of the Hymn to Apollo was composed in the late seventh century BC. By “fixed text” I do not mean what was understood by this term in the nineteenth century, namely a written text. I operate under the assumption (which I defend elsewhere) that the Iliad and the Odyssey were first expanded on a monumental scale by a completely oral process, and that they were then maintained in a more or less fixed form by a further oral process, at least at first. Schools of rhapsodes, in particular the Homeridai of Chios, were in my view responsible for preserving the Homeric poems in a fixed oral form. At some point written texts also became a factor in the transmission of the poems; this stage can be demonstrated, I think, for late-sixth-century Athens. The period considered in this paper is a century before that, when written texts are possible, but by no means necessary. At the end of the second Messenian war, when the Hymn to Pythian Apollo was composed, I think that we confront something of a paradox: on the one hand poetry continued to be oral and creative; on the other hand the Iliad and the Odyssey had already achieved something like a fixed form and a fixed place in the Greek world.


In the mid-sixth century BC Solon is said to have quoted the evidence of the Homeric catalogue of ships to persuade Spartan arbitrators to award Salamis to Athens rather than to Megara. [1] When did the Homeric poems acquire this kind of authority in mainland Greece? I propose to examine a set of circumstances from the end of the seventh century BC and to argue for a date at least this early. In my view the Iliad and the Odyssey were created in Ionia at the end of the eighth and the beginning of the seventh century BC; it was then, I think, that the poems were expanded on a monumental scale substantially as we have them today. My argument, then, is that the Iliad and the Odyssey became authoritative in mainland Greece within a century of their creation in Ionia. This seems to me a significant finding if it is true.
The case that I wish to study involves the Homeric Hymn to Apollo. As we have it this hymn is composed of a Delian and a Pythian part, the relationship of which to each other remains controversial. In my view the two parts of the hymn once existed separately and were joined together for a specific occasion: this occasion, according to a suggestion of Walter Burkert and Richard Janko, who reached the same conclusion independently, was Polycrates’ celebration of a combined Pythia kai Delia in 523 or 522 BC. This connection makes a great deal of sense to me. [2]
Both parts of the Hymn to Apollo bear on the reception of the Homeric poems, but in different places and at different times. The Delian hymn belongs to the Homeridai of Chios, a guild of rhapsodes that traced itself to a founder/ancestor whom they called Homer: the reference in the hymn to the blind bard of Chios is intended to evoke this founder/ancestor, and, whoever the actual poet or poets of the hymn, the hymn’s allusion to Homer is in effect the sphragis of the guild. [3] The putative founder/ancestor, the blind bard of Chios, is, I think, modeled directly on Demodokos, the blind bard of the Odyssey, and this speaks to the close relationship between the Chian guild and what we know as the Homeric poems. [4] At the end of this paper I will come back to the Homeridai of Chios as the primary “locus of diffusion” of the Iliad and the Odyssey outside of Ionia. In the Hymn to Delian Apollo, which most likely dates to the mid-seventh century BC, we see that the influence of the Homeridai already extends beyond what is strictly Ionia (the twelve cities of the dodecapolis) to Delos in the mid-Aegean; I have little doubt that by the time of the Delian hymn their influence had also reached the Aegean’s other side.
The Hymn to Pythian Apollo is my main concern in this paper. The authorship of this hymn is unknown, and one of the primary objects of my study is to determine this authorship to the extent possible. More is known about the possible date of the hymn, and I begin with this question. The hymn tells how Apollo chose Delphi for his oracle and shrine and brought Cretan priests there to serve his cult. At the end of the hymn, when the cult has been established, the Cretan priests are warned about acts of hybris, as a result of which they will be subjected to new masters. [5] The lines in question are reasonably taken as an allusion to the First Sacred War, which resulted in the destruction of nearby Krisa in 591 BC and the imposition of a new regime at Delphi by 586 BC. [6] There has long been a debate as to whether the hymn’s final passage was added to an already existing hymn after the First Sacred War to reflect the war’s outcome. In fact a strong case can be made that the victors in the war appropriated an older hymn and added to it this vaticinium ex eventu. [7] The threat made against the priests at the end of the hymn is not only unanticipated earlier in the hymn, but it contradicts the hymn’s very purpose, which is to celebrate the establishment of the Delphic oracle and its Cretan priesthood. The poem cannot well have set out from the start to undermine its own purpose at the end. [8] Particularly hard to understand in the hymn is the role of Krisa, the goal of both Apollo’s journey from Olympos and his priests’ voyage from Crete, if at the moment of the hymn’s composition Krisa had already been destroyed and its land withdrawn forever from human cultivation. [9]
On this evidence the Hymn to Pythian Apollo already existed before the First Sacred War and was modified after the war by the victors: Athens, Sicyon, and the Thessalians. [10] There may have been other modifications of the hymn as well in the aftermath of the war. When Apollo slays the she-dragon at the site of his future temple at Delphi, there is a long passage about Typhaon, the monster whom Hera conceived and bore on her own to retaliate against Zeus for bearing Athena on his own. The passage is only very loosely connected with the hymn (Hera gave Typhaon to the she-dragon to raise), and it also seems to match the outlook of two of the victors in the Sacred War: the reference to Athena’s birth from the head of Zeus brings honor to Athens; the portrayal of Hera, the chief goddess of Argos, as the mother of a monster would not have been unwelcome in Sicyon. [11] The Typhaon passage is probably a second modification of the hymn by the victors in the war.
The Hymn to Pythian Apollo, which I date to the period before the Sacred War, is much concerned with geography; [12] I would go so far as to call it a geography lesson. The hymn presents a schematic geography of the mainland Greek world, at the center of which is Delphi. Two broad arcs, one beginning in the north, the other in the south, converge at Delphi as the hymn unfolds: first Apollo leaves Olympos in the north in search of a cult site, and his journey takes him through Thessaly, Euboea, and Boeotia to Delphi; then his priests leave Crete in the south, and their ship, commandeered by Apollo, sails past the entire southern and western Peloponnesos before it reaches the gulf of Krisa (Corinth) and proceeds to Delphi. The arc of Apollo’s initial journey southward is counterbalanced by the arc of the Cretans’ voyage northward, both ending in Delphi; the overall scheme is like two halves of a circle that connect only at this one point.
The hymn’s geography is in general impeccable. [13] In the northern half seventeen places and tribes are named between Olympos and Krisa, and all are correctly located and put in the proper order, with one exception: the Kephisos river is wildly out of place. After crossing from Euboea to Boeotia Apollo proceeds on a straight line through Boeotia from east to west, past Mykalessos first, then Teumessos, then the site of future Thebes, then Onkhestos; before he reaches Haliartos, the next point on his journey, and the two final places before Krisa (Telphousa and the land of the Phlegyai), something goes badly wrong: after Onkhestos he crosses the Kephisos river and the town of Okalea before he reaches Haliartos (Hymn to Apollo 239–243):
ἔνθεν δὲ προτέρω ἔκιες ἑκατηβόλ' ῎Απολλον·
Κηφισὸν δ' ἄρ' ἔπειτα κιχήσαο καλλιρέεθρον,
ὅς τε Λιλαίηθεν προχέει καλλίρροον ὕδωρ·
τὸν διαβὰς Ἑκάεργε καὶ Ὠκαλέην πολύπυργον
ἔνθεν ἄρ' εἰς Ἁλίαρτον ἀφίκεο ποιήεντα.

You went forward from there, far-shooting Apollo,
and then you came to the Kephisos with beautiful streams,
which pours forth its beautiful-flowing water from Lilaia.
And, worker from afar, you crossed it and many-towered Okalea,
and from there you came to grassy Haliartos.
The Kephisos river rises in Phokis, north of mount Parnassos and Delphi, and empties into the western end of the Kopaic lake, the site of Boeotian Orkhomenos. Onkhestos and Haliartos, on the other hand, border the south shore of the Kopaic lake at its eastern end. Apollo, who is moving west, is nowhere near the Kephisos river as yet, nor will he ever have to cross it on his way to Delphi. If the Kephisos river is wildly out of place, the town of Okalea is less so, but it too is on the wrong side of Haliartos, some thirty stades west of that town according to Strabo. [14] Apollo, for whatever reason, approaches Haliartos from the wrong direction. Impeccable geography? Not with this passage. Rather the poet seems to have lost his way completely. On the other hand, what is said about the Kephisos is accurate in itself: the river does rise near the town of Lilaia in Phokis, as we know from a Hesiodic fragment preserved by the scholia to Iliad 2.552 (Hesiod fr. 70.18 MW = Rz. 37): ὅς τε Λιλαίηθεν προΐει καλλίρροον ὕδωρ. [15] Remarkably this line of Hesiod is the same as line 241 of the hymn with only a minor variation of the verb (προΐει for προχέει). The question arises, do lines 239-342, with what appears to be a Hesiodic line, belong in the hymn at all? And if not, why are they there?
Let us proceed. After Apollo founds his cult in Delphi and punishes the nymph Telphousa for earlier bad faith, he looks for priests to serve his cult. He sees Cretans who have set sail on a voyage to Pylos and he goes to meet them (Hymn to Apollo 397–399):
οἱ μὲν ἐπὶ πρῆξιν καὶ χρήματα νηῒ μελαίνῃ
ἐς Πύλον ἠμαθόεντα Πυλοιγενέας τ' ἀνθρώπους
ἔπλεον· αὐτὰρ ὁ τοῖσι συνήνετο Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων.
To sandy Pylos and its native dwellers
They sailed in a black ship for barter and goods,
And Phoebus Apollo went to meet them.
After the dramatic appearance of Apollo on board the ship in the form of a dolphin, and the acquiescence of the Cretan sailors in Apollo’s command, the ship continues on its course, which is described in selective detail: the ship rounds cape Malea and passes the Laconian land and cape Tainaron; the sailors try to land at cape Tainaron, where the flocks of Helios graze, but the ship no longer obeys them. It sails onward keeping the Peloponnesos at a distance until it reaches the region of the Alpheios river. We should note in passing that nothing whatever is said about Messenia, which represents most of what the ship passes between Tainaron and the Alpheios; Messenia is a blank in this story, and Pylos, the original goal of the Cretan sailors, is located north of the Alpheios river, in what was historically Elis (Hymn to Apollo 418–424):
ἀλλ' οὐ πηδαλίοισιν ἐπείθετο νηῦς εὐεργής,
ἀλλὰ παρὲκ Πελοπόννησον πίειραν ἔχουσα
ἤϊ' ὁδόν, πνοιῇ δὲ ἄναξ ἑκάεργος Ἀπόλλων
ῥηϊδίως ἴθυν'· ἡ δὲ πρήσσουσα κέλευθον
Ἀρήνην ἵκανε καὶ Ἀργυφέην ἐρατεινὴν
καὶ Θρύον Ἀλφειοῖο πόρον καὶ ἐΰκτιτον Αἶπυ
καὶ Πύλον ἠμαθόεντα Πυλοιγενέας τ' ἀνθρώπους.
But the well-wrought ship did not obey the helm,
but keeping away from the fertile Peloponnesos
it went its way as with the breeze the far-shooting lord Apollo
easily steered it. It traversed its path
and came to Arene and lovely Argyphea
and Thryon, ford of the Alpheios, and well-built Aipy,
and sandy Pylos and its native dwellers.
The Hymn to Apollo here makes a statement about the location of Pylos, the original goal of the Cretan sailors, and in so doing it engages the Homeric Iliad. The towns named in the passage, except for the otherwise unknown Argyphea, all occur in the first two lines of the Pylian entry to the catalogue of ships, the second line of which the hymn uses verbatim; the first two lines of the Pylian entry are as follows (Iliad 2.592–593):
Οἳ δὲ Πύλον τ' ἐνέμοντο καὶ Ἀρήνην ἐρατεινὴν
καὶ Θρύον Ἀλφειοῖο πόρον καὶ ἐΰκτιτον Αἶπυ
They who dwelt about Pylos and lovely Arene,
and Thryon, ford of the Alpheios, and well-built Aipy [16]
The Homeric catalogue does not list these towns in geographic order, for that is not its purpose. The hymn, on the other hand, describes a voyage, and the order in which the towns are named is the order of their appearance, from south to north; the principle is the same as in Apollo’s journey from Olympos to Krisa, where the order is strictly geographic. The line borrowed from the catalogue of ships names the Alpheios river, and this feature of the landscape is a key point in the hymn, dividing what lies south of it from what lies north of it. The ship comes first to Arene, which was later identified with Samikon, a Hellenistic fortress some 12 kilometers south of the Alpheios, an identification that is also generally accepted today. [17] Since Argyphea occurs only in this passage of the hymn we do not know its location; in all likelihood it is named less because of a well known location (it cannot have been a very significant place) than to show a certain independence from the Homeric catalogue of ships: the poet does not simply repeat what he finds in Homer, but is an expert in his own right. [18] Thryon, ‘ford of the Alpheios’ (Ἀλφειοῖο πόρον), was on the river itself; this town serves to bring the Alpheios, which is all important to the hymn, into the picture. Aipy, named in the same line with Thryon, was perhaps on the Alpheios as well, but this is only an ancient guess; the location of the town was no more known to ancient scholars than it is to us. [19] The uncertainty does not matter much, however, for the purpose of the hymn’s list of five places is to put Pylos north of the Alpheios, and the order of three of the five places – Arene, Thryon-on-Alpheios, Pylos – does this unmistakably. We should note the poet’s skill in establishing the point: he has simply taken the first two lines of the Pylian entry to the catalogue of ships and shifted Pylos from first position to last position (and put Argyphea in for good measure); since the order in the catalogue is not geographic, Homer has in no way been violated by this rearrangement.
There is no way to avoid the conclusion that the hymn locates Pylos in Elis if we assume that the geography of the hymn is intended to make sense. Some have doubted such an intention, but a hymn as preoccupied with geography as this one surely knew what it was about. I also note that a tradition persisted in historical times that Pylos lay in Elis, although the location of this city, whether on the coast or inland, itself became an issue. [20] The hymn for its part intends Pylos to be on the coast of Elis. But where then was Elis itself? [21] The hymn has an answer for this too. In order to make room for Nestor’s kingdom north of the Alpheios, Elis is identified with its own northeast corner, in what was historically Achaea; this is achieved by putting Elis past Dyme, the westernmost city of Achaia, which according to Strabo was once part of the Epeian realm. [22] After the ship passes Pylos it continues as follows (Hymn to Apollo 425–426):
βῆ δὲ παρὰ Κρουνοὺς καὶ Χαλκίδα καὶ παρὰ Δύμην
ἠδὲ παρ' Ἤλιδα δῖαν ὅθι κρατέουσιν Ἐπειοί.
It sailed past Krounoi and Chalkis and past Dyme
and past splendid Elis, where the Epeians hold sway.
The poet clearly intends to archaize with this location of Elis in western Achaea: the voyage of the Cretans must be imagined as taking place in primeval times, before the Eleians had reached their historical homeland; at this early time the future land of Elis was as yet home to only two obscure places, Khalkis and Krounoi, and, just to the south, to Nestor’s kingdom. [23]
I return to the larger theme of this paper, namely the authority of the Homeric poems in a matter like the location of Nestor’s kingdom. We have already seen that the poet of the hymn is well aware of the Pylian entry to the catalogue of ships in Iliad 2, which he uses to locate Pylos north of the Alpheios river; the poet cannot be said to falsify Homer in this since the catalogue says nothing at all about the location of Pylos. But did the Homeric poems present no other bar to putting Nestor’s kingdom in Elis? I postpone for now the issue of Nestor’s story in Iliad 11, which presents one such bar. Apart from Iliad 11 the only real Homeric barrier to an Eleian Pylos is in the Odyssey, namely Telemachus’ voyage home from Pylos to Ithaka. In Odyssey 15 Telemachus sets sail from Pylos after bidding farewell to Nestor’s son Peisistratos and taking on board the seer Theoklymenos. As they sail along the coast with a favorable wind sent by Athena the sun sets and the ship heads for Pheai , a town on a prominent cape not far past the mouth of the Alpheios river; it then passes Elis, and from there Telemachus puts out to sea toward unnamed islands (Odyssey 15.296–300):
δύσετό τ' ἠέλιος σκιόωντό τε πᾶσαι ἀγυιαί·
ἡ δὲ Φεὰς ἐπέβαλλεν ἐπειγομένη Διὸς οὔρῳ,
ἠδὲ παρ' Ἤλιδα δῖαν, ὅθι κρατέουσιν Ἐπειοί.
ἔνθεν δ' αὖ νήσοισιν ἐπιπροέηκε θοῇσιν,
ὁρμαίνων, ἤ κεν θάνατον φύγοι ἦ κεν ἁλοίη.
And the sun set, and all the traveling ways were darkened.
The ship headed for Pheai, pressed on by the wind from Zeus,
and past splendid Elis, where the Epeians rule.
And from there Telemachus struck out for the swift islands,
pondering whether he would escape death or be killed.
In this voyage it is the town of Pheai that is fatal to a location of Pylos in Elis: Pheai is too close to the Alpheios river for Nestor’s kingdom to lie in between the two. [24] Pylos must be south of the Alpheios, and the impression given by the narrative is that it is well south of the Alpheios. If the Hymn to Apollo respects the Homeric poems, it must do something about the town of Pheai in Odyssey 15.297 – and it does: it contests this town outright. We see this in the next stage of the Cretan sailors’ voyage. In a line that closely resembles Odyssey 15.297, the Cretans’ ship, after passing Dyme and what once was Elis, heads not for Pheai, but for Pherai, a town beyond Dyme in Achaea; [25] that this version of the line is meant to show that Pherai is also the correct name in Odyssey 15.297 is immediately clear from the close correspondence between the two lines, and it becomes doubly clear in the next line of the hymn, when, for no apparent reason, Ithaka suddenly appears out of the clouds to the sailors at just this point in the voyage (Hymn to Apollo 427–29):
εὔτε Φερὰς ἐπέβαλλεν ἀγαλλομένη Διὸς οὔρῳ
καί σφιν ὑπὲκ νεφέων Ἰθάκης τ' ὄρος αἰπὺ πέφαντο,
Δουλίχιόν τε Σάμη τε καὶ ὑλήεσσα Ζάκυνθος.
When the ship headed for Pherai, exulting in the wind from Zeus,
the lofty mountain of Ithaka appeared to them from under the clouds,
and also Doulichion and Same and wooded Zakynthos.
It was from this point in his voyage, we are meant to understand, that Telemachus struck out across the open sea for Ithaka. [26] It does not matter that the Cretan ship has been sailing eastward, away from Ithaka and the three other named islands, for more than 20 kilometers when it passes Dyme and heads for Pherai; Ithaka appears to the sailors at this point in their voyage not for geographical verisimilitude, but despite it, in order to establish the true course of Telemachus’ voyage. With this purpose achieved the rest of the Cretans’ voyage, into the gulf of Krisa and onward to Delphi, passes quickly and without further complication. At the end of the voyage the poet once again reminds us of Telemachus’ voyage, echoing the passage in which Telemachus first sets sail from Pylos and Athena sends a favorable wind (Odyssey 15.292–294):
τοῖσιν δ' ἴκμενον οὖρον ἵει γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη,
λάβρον ἐπαιγίζοντα δι' αἰθέρος, ὄφρα τάχιστα
νηῦς ἀνύσειε θέουσα θαλάσσης ἁλμυρὸν ὕδωρ.
To them owl-radiant Athena sent a following wind
rushing vehemently through the bright sky, so that with greatest speed
the ship might reach its goal running across the salt water of the sea.
The last two lines occur in the hymn nearly verbatim, but here Zeus replaces Athena in sending the wind, and the wind itself is said to be from the west, so that it follows the ship as it sails through the gulf of Krisa to Delphi (Hymn to Apollo 430–439):
ἀλλ' ὅτε δὴ Πελοπόννησον παρενίσατο πᾶσαν,
καὶ δὴ ἐπὶ Κρίσης κατεφαίνετο κόλπος ἀπείρων
ὅς τε διὲκ Πελοπόννησον πίειραν ἐέργει,
ἦλθ' ἄνεμος ζέφυρος μέγας αἴθριος ἐκ Διὸς αἴσης
λάβρος ἐπαιγίζων ἐξ αἰθέρος, ὄφρα τάχιστα
νηῦς ἀνύσειε θέουσα θαλάσσης ἁλμυρὸν ὕδωρ.
ἄψορροι δὴ ἔπειτα πρὸς ἠῶ τ' ἠέλιόν τε
ἔπλεον, ἡγεμόνευε δ' ἄναξ Διὸς υἱὸς Ἀπόλλων·
ἷξον δ' ἐς Κρίσην εὐδείελον ἀμπελόεσσαν
ἐς λιμέν', ἡ δ' ἀμάθοισιν ἐχρίμψατο ποντοπόρος νηῦς.
But when the ship had passed all the Peloponnesos
and ahead appeared the boundless gulf of Krisa
which divides the fertile Peloponnesos from the mainland,
there came, decreed by Zeus, a great and fair west wind
rushing vehemently from the bright sky, so that with greatest speed
the ship might reach its goal running across the salt water of the sea.
They then sailed back toward the dawn and the sun,
and the lord Apollo, son of Zeus, led them
until they came into bright Krisa, rich in vineyards,
into the harbor, where the seafaring ship grounded on the sands.
The echo of Homer’s language in this passage is loud and clear, [27] as it is in the earlier mention of the Alpheios river when the ship first approaches Pylos, and as it is again when Ithaka appears to the Cretan sailors as they head for Pherai. This language is not used for mere convenience, or because the poet could not express himself otherwise, but to make a point: the Pylos from which Telemachus departs in Odyssey 15 is in Elis, not further south. [28]
The Hymn to Apollo bears witness to an early controversy over the location of Nestor’s kingdom. The text of Homer also shows significant traces of this controversy. The most striking is that in Odyssey 15.297 the reading Pheas, which we know must be correct, is preserved only by Aristarchus and Strabo; all our manuscripts of the Odyssey read Pheras. [29] It must have been those who wanted Homeric Pylos to be in Elis who put Pheras in Odyssey 15.297, and their view had demonstrable success – all our manuscripts of the Odyssey bear witness to it. The next line in the Odyssey, in which Telemachus passes by Elis, may have been added by the other side in the controversy to protect the name Pheas, which was now under challenge (Odyssey 15.297–298):
ἡ δὲ Φεὰς ἐπέβαλλεν ἐπειγομένη Διὸς οὔρῳ,
ἠδὲ παρ' Ἤλιδα δῖαν, ὅθι κρατέουσιν Ἐπειοί.
The ship headed for Pheai, pressed on by the wind from Zeus,
and past splendid Elis, where the Epeians rule.
With this two-line sequence Pherai can no longer well replace Pheai, for Pherai would push Elis too far east; Elis in the second line is clearly meant to follow Pheai in the first line and to occupy its known historical location. The line with Elis thus reflects the viewpoint of those who did not accept the new location of Homeric Pylos in Elis. The same line occurs in the Hymn to Apollo, as we have seen: in the hymn it serves to shift the location of Elis eastward past Dyme in western Achaea. The line seems to have been introduced into the Odyssey secondarily to counter the hymn: not only does it protect the name Pheas in the line before, but it also restores Elis to its known location. In doing so it attempts to use the Hymn to Apollo against itself. For the question of priority it is significant that the line sits comfortably in the Hymn to Apollo, but in the Odyssey it is connected only very loosely with what precedes. [30] Before the controversy caused Elis to enter the text of Odyssey 15 in this way, Telemachus’ voyage was a simpler matter: he headed along the coast for cape Pheai, and from there he struck out across open sea for the islands. [31]
The Iliad too bears witness to the controversy over a location of Pylos in Elis, and again the issue is Pheai. This town, which had to be eliminated from the Odyssey to allow Pylos to be in Elis, has been added secondarily to the Iliad to show positively where Pheia (so the town is now called in an otherwise post-Homeric form) lay in relation to the true (i.e. the Eleian) Pylos. In Iliad 7, to shame the Achaeans into meeting Hector in single combat, Nestor tells how he once accepted the challenge of the club-wielding Arcadian giant Ereuthalion, and slew him. The Pylians were at war with the Arcadians, their neighbors to the east, and the battle between champions took place at the Keladon river, where the two armies fought. This, at least, is how the story begins in Iliad 7.133–134, but in the next line, 7.135, an additional location is given, and an additional river is specified, the Iardanos: this line also sets the battle “by the walls of Pheia” (Iliad 7.133–136):
ἡβῷμ' ὡς ὅτ' ἐπ' ὠκυρόῳ Κελάδοντι μάχοντο
ἀγρόμενοι Πύλιοί τε καὶ Ἀρκάδες ἐγχεσίμωροι
Φειᾶς πὰρ τείχεσσιν Ἰαρδάνου ἀμφὶ ῥέεθρα.
τοῖσι δ' Ἐρευθαλίων πρόμος ἵστατο ἰσόθεος φὼς.
If only I were young as when by the swift-flowing Keladon they fought,
The assembled Pylians and the Arcadians raging with spears,
Before the walls of Pheia, by the streams of the Iardanos.
In front of them stood their champion Ereuthalion, a godlike man.
The location of the battle beside two different rivers has long been regarded with suspicion, and the presence of Pheia in the story has seemed wholly inexplicable: how can Pheia, eight miles north of the Alpheios river on the coast of Elis, have been the site of a battle between Pylos and Arcadia? [32] The answer, however, is clear: the Pylos envisaged by Iliad 7.135 lay in Elis, north of the Alpehios, and also north of Pheia, just as it does in the Hymn to Apollo. When the Arcadians attacked this Pylos, they first had to pass by Pheia, where Nestor stopped them by slaying their champion. Iliad 7.135 is an expansion of Nestor’s story, which is intended to change the site of his battle from Arcadia to the coast of Elis. [33] The presence of the town Pheia in Iliad 7.135 must be viewed together with the absence of the town Pheai in the manuscript tradition of Odyssey 15.297: Pheia is meant to be a correction of Pheai both as to the form of the name, and as to the town’s location relative to Nestor’s Pylos, south of it rather than north of it. The one-line expansion of Nestor’s story in Iliad 7 and the one-word change in Telemachus’ voyage home in Odyssey 15.297 constitute the entire reworking of Homer with respect to the location of Pylos in Elis. Everything else in the poems stayed the same because no other change was needed.
This brings us to the other barrier in Homer to an Eleian Pylos, namely Nestor’s story in Iliad 11; certain passages of this story locate Pylos south of the Alpheios river, where it cannot be if it is in Elis. The situation here is different from the Odyssey in my view. Unlike the name Pheai in Odyssey 15.297 the barrier in Iliad 11 to an Eleian Pylos did not have to be removed from the text of Homer because in all likelihood it did not yet exist at the time of the Hymn to Pythian Apollo. In 1942 Räto Cantieni showed that Nestor’s story in Iliad 11 had an earlier form and a later form, and he isolated four passages that in his view belong to a secondary version of the story: it is in two of these secondary passages that Pylos is located south of the Alpheios river. [34] It is not my purpose in this paper to consider Nestor’s story in detail; I have done that elsewhere, and I have come to the same conclusion as Cantieni, although my starting point is quite different from his. [35] A brief discussion will suffice to explain the difference between the two versions of the story.
In Iliad 11 Nestor tells how as a youth he led Pylos to victory in battle against hostile neighbors, the Eleians or Epeians, who attacked in chariots after Nestor raided a large number of their cattle. The battle is an odd mixture of epic exaggeration – Nestor on foot wins himself a chariot by killing the leader of the enemy horsemen, and from this newly won chariot he single-handedly kills the double occupants of fifty other chariots – and very precise geographical description. The precise geography locates Pylos south of the Alpheios river, in the historical region of Triphylia. After Athena’s nighttime alarm warning the Pylians of an impending Epeian attack the Pylians march as far as a river near Arene before dawn; Arene, we recall, was the site of Hellenistic Samikon, some twelve kilometers south of the Alpheios; departing from there at dawn the Pylians reach the Alpheios by mid-day – a well calculated interval for the distance. The Epeians too are at the Alpheios, because they have interrupted their advance on Pylos to lay siege to Thryoessa, the Pylian town called “Thryon, ford of the Alpheios” in the catalogue of ships. The battle begins the next morning, and Nestor’s heroics take him deep into the enemy’s land, to Bouprasion, before he ends his rout of the Epeians and leads the victorious Pylians home.
The precise geographical detail of Nestor’s story, all of which has to do with the Alpheios river, puts Pylos in Triphylia, between Samikon to the north and Lepreon to the south. Hellenistic scholars did not fail to notice this, and they even knew of a place called Pylos that had been absorbed by Lepreon at some earlier date; their arguments are found in Strabo, who fully supports their conclusion that Nestor’s city lay in Triphylia. [36] A century ago Wilhelm Dörpfeld, persuaded by the same arguments, found within the same vicinity a Bronze Age site at Kakovatos that he took to be Nestor’s actual palace. Soon after this discovery Felix Bölte wrote an important article showing in detail how closely the city of Pylos in Nestor’s story in Iliad 11 correlates with such a location. [37] In Bölte’s view Nestor’s story accurately preserves the record of a real Bronze Age battle, step for step.
But if the geographical passages are integral to Nestor’s story, as Bölte is not alone in believing, how did anyone ever take seriously the idea that Nestor’s city lay in Elis? His story in Iliad 11 plainly rules this out. The implication of this is clear: the poet of the Hymn to Pythian Apollo, who puts Pylos in Elis, and who does so with the text of Homer very much in mind, cannot have known these geographical passages. There was an older version of Nestor’s story, which had none of the precise geography of the received text, but instead staged Nestor’s battle between Pylos at one end and Bouprasion at the other, with no mention of the Alpheios river in the middle, but only a vague reference to a plain on which the two warring peoples met: in this simpler story the Pylians left their city by night after Athena’s alarm; they met the Epeians on a plain between their lands at dawn; and Nestor, who was still on foot, won himself horses as soon as the battle began, routed the Epeians as far as Bouprasion, and led the victorious Pylians home, all in one day. This is epic exaggeration on an impressive scale, given the actual distances of the western Peloponnesos, but it is not inconsistent with Nestor’s feat in killing the double occupants of fifty chariots single-handedly while driving his own chariot. The geography is not realistic, but this makes it consistent with the rest of the story. It is the realistic geography of the later passages that is inconsistent with the story. In these passages we have the siege of a town, well timed marches, an encampment, all adding a full day to the story. In the earlier version we had Nestor’s exaggerated heroics, and nothing else. Before Nestor begins his story in Iliad 11 he lifts his famous cup, which is described in elaborate detail; the poet comments that another man would have lifted this cup with difficulty, but Nestor lifted it with ease (11.632–637). This sets the stage for Nestor’s story, in which he tells how he accomplished feats that no ordinary mortal could; on that day he was like a whirlwind (λαίλαπι ἶσος), and realistic geography did not stand in his way. [38]
I leave to one side the intriguing question of when Nestor’s story may have been expanded with the four passages detected by Cantieni. I note only that we do not hear about a Triphylian location of Nestor’s city until the Hellenistic age, and it may well be that the expansions of Nestor’s story do not go back so very much earlier than that. [39] For our purposes, however, it is enough to say that the expansions of Nestor’s story must have been carried out after the Hymn to Pythian Apollo was composed, so in the sixth century BC at the earliest. Whatever its date, however, the new version of Nestor’s story, once it had been accepted as Homeric, effectively ended the old controversy as to whether Pylos lay in Elis, for such a location was now impossible. A location in Elis became a curious artifact in the long debate over the location of Pylos; modern scholars attribute it to local historians of Elis, who somehow did not see that what they claimed was impossible in view of Iliad 11. But, as the Hymn to Pythian Apollo shows, the controversy was much older than local histories of Elis. By the time Nestor’s story in Iliad 11 was expanded, and Triphylia was put forth as a new contender for the location of Nestor’s city, the old controversy had, I think, long since faded. Only the traces of it were left.
For modern scholars, who consider only the expanded version of Nestor’s story in Iliad 11, Elis has never been a serious contender in the debate about Pylos’ location. The modern debate is between Messenia, which most today regard as the true location of Nestor’s Pylos, and Triphylia, which those who focus on the expanded version of Nestor’s story in Iliad 11 still maintain. The debate is as yet unsettled. [40] Archaeologically Triphylia has been trumped by Messenia: the site discovered by Carl Blegen at Ano Englianos in 1939 has been accepted as the Bronze Age city of Pylos even by champions of Kakovatos in Triphylia; the latter maintain their belief in Triphylia by regarding the Homeric city of Pylos as different from the Bronze Age city, for whatever reason (such is the influence of Nestor’s expanded story). [41] Messenia, which has archaeology on its side, also has the better ancient pedigree as the site of Nestor’s city. Unlike Triphylia, which was perhaps first put forward by Demetrios of Scepsis in the second century BC, [42] Messenia was regarded as Nestor’s home in the classical period: Pindar, for example, calls Nestor “the aged Messenian” (Μεσσανίου δὲ γέροντος, Pythian 6.34). This evidence is discounted by some as relating to the Messenian resurgence of the fourth century BC, which had its roots in the fifth century BC; according to this line of thought the Messenians had to reinvent their entire past, which had been wiped clean during the period of Spartan domination, and it was only in the course of this that they laid claim to Nestor and Pylos. [43] While there may be truth in this analysis of Messenian traditions generally, it does not, I think, explain the history of the name Pylos in Messenia. In the fifth century this name was used of an uninhabited place on the Messenian coast at the north end of the bay of Navarino, opposite the island of Sphakteria; the Spartans called this place Koryphasion, but others called it Pylos. Herodotus refers to it in connection with the Persian wars, and it was also here, famously, that Spartan hoplites were taken prisoner by the Athenians in 425 BC. [44] The site is not the same as the Bronze Age site at Ano Englianos, but 9-10 kilometers southwest of it. The site was indeed important to the resurgent Messenians, who founded a new city of Pylos there in 365 BC, but the history of the site did not begin with the Messenian resurgence of the fifth and fourth centuries. This site, in my view, played an important part in the older controversy over the location of Nestor’s kingdom, as to whether it lay in Elis or further south.
When the Bronze Age kingdom of Pylos fell c. 1200 BC, the site at Ano Englianos was abandoned, but survivors seem to have settled in successor cities nearby that they continued to call Pylos, the last of which was the site at the north end of the bay of Navarino. [45] The Spartans finally drove these remaining Pylians from the Peloponnesos at the end of the Second Messenian War, c. 600 BC. [46] The Spartans, who called the place Koryphasion rather than Pylos, clearly did not wish to memorialize the Pylians whom they had just expelled. [47] But the name Pylos stuck to the site, as we see in the fifth century, when non-Spartans still called it this. [48]
The Spartans, in my view, are the only likely candidates to have invented the idea that Homeric Pylos lay in Elis. Once the Spartans had driven the surviving Pylians from the coast of Messenia, they wanted to expunge their memory as well. These Pylians were at least notionally descendants of Neleus and Nestor, and expelling them and taking their land did not bring the Spartans credit. The problem was the Homeric poems, for it was here that Nestor and the Pylians were particularly celebrated. But the Homeric poems were also the solution if they could be made to show that Pylos once lay in Elis, and that therefore only the Eleians could answer for what became of Nestor’s people. This idea was not as hard to promote as might be imagined once the Pylians themselves had been removed from the scene. The only negative evidence in the Homeric poems was the name Pheai in Odyssey 15.297, and we have seen how this was dealt with. But there was also a positive argument that could be brought to bear, namely Nestor’s story in Iliad 11. In its older form, as discussed, this story is hyperbolic in the extreme: Bouprasion, where Nestor ends his rout of the Epeians, was always thought to lie on the far side of Elis from Pylos; [49] Pylos, to a contemporary Homeric audience, would have meant Messenia, and more particularly the still surviving city of Pylos on the bay of Navarino. Nestor, who leaves Pylos at night and reaches Bouprasion the next day before turning homeward effectively conquers the entire western Peloponnesos in a single day. [50] This is all well and good for the hero with the famous cup that only he could lift. But it was also possible to take Nestor’s story literally, and to ask where must Pylos have been if Nestor reached the far side of Elis in a single day, and to this question the answer is simple and straightforward: to do this in reality Nestor could only have started from somewhere inside of Elis. Ironically Nestor’s story in Iliad 11, which in its later form ruled out an Eleian Pylos, in its earlier form very likely was the main argument for an Eleian Pylos.
The Hymn to Pythian Apollo makes sense as a Spartan product of the late seventh century BC. The end of the Second Messenian War and the expulsion of the Pylians are dated to c. 600 BC, and the hymn, I think, followed quite soon after these events; at the lower end, as discussed, the hymn precedes the First Sacred War, which resulted in the destruction of Krisa in 591 BC: a date of c. 600 BC for the hymn is probably not far wrong. [51] The hymn, which centers on Delphi, does not reveal its particular provenance, for to do so would undermine its purpose: Delphi is the hymn’s focus, and Delphi is neutral; it removes any charge of bias. The Laconian land is mentioned, including cape Malea and cape Tainaron, and even a cult of Helios on cape Tainaron; this is noteworthy, but many other places are mentioned in the hymn, and arguments have been developed to connect the hymn with some of these. [52] A far more powerful argument for Sparta is the complete absence of Messenia from the hymn; as noted earlier, Apollo steers the Cretan ship wide of the entire region, so that nothing at all is said of it: it is a blank. Messenia in fact now belonged to Sparta, and that is the reason that nothing is said of it. As for Pylos, one did not reach Nestor’s fabled kingdom until after the Alpheios river (and Messenia) had been passed.
Sparta’s chief divinity was Apollo, to whom the city’s three main festivals were dedicated: the Karneia, Hyakinthia, and Gymnopaidiai. [53] Was the Hymn to Pythian Apollo composed for performance at one of these festivals? Like other Homeric hymns, the Hymn to Pythian Apollo must have been composed as a prooimion to introduce a performance of Homeric poetry. Such prooimia were composed in Sparta as elsewhere, the practice having been introduced at the latest in the first half of the seventh century by Terpander of Lesbos. [54] At a festival outsiders, especially other Peloponnesians, would presumably be present, and this offered an opportunity, if not to rewrite the past, at least to present the Spartan point of view. In such a setting a performance of the Hymn to Apollo, as prooimion, could have been followed by a performance of Homeric poetry that included Odyssey 15. This would have been an ideal occasion to present the corrected version of Telemachus’ voyage home from Pylos, the true course of which had international significance c. 600 BC. The Second Messenian War had called forth the talents of one Spartan poet, Tyrtaeus, who had shown himself an able propagandist for the Spartan state; the war itself is sometimes called “the Tyrtaeus war” because of the prominent part that he played. If he lived long enough, perhaps Tyrtaeus also composed the Hymn to Pythian Apollo once the war was over.
Kleisthenes of Sikyon, one of the victors in the First Sacred War, ended rhapsodic contests in his city because the Homeric epics celebrated his enemy Argos. This well-known episode most likely related to performances of the Iliad, although the precise meaning of Herodotus’ phrase “Homeric epics” (Homereia epea) is debated. [55] The set of circumstances that I have considered is probably somewhat earlier than this well-known episode, but it belongs to the same general period. Taken together the two examples show the Iliad and the Odyssey as well established in the Peloponnesos at the end of the seventh century and the beginning of the sixth century BC; the poems were then a factor that could not be ignored in relations between cities. The authority of the Homeric poems in mainland Greece in this period is the question with which this paper began, and I have now made my case. But my argument has another step. What is striking about the controversy over the name Pheai in Odyssey 15.297 is that there was something well established to argue against – a text of the Odyssey that was widely known and accepted. I do not mean to imply anything for an oral Odyssey versus a written Odyssey by using the word text, but I do need to say something about this question in a general way. For me the expansion of the Iliad and the Odyssey on a monumental scale at the end of the eighth century and the beginning of the seventh century BC was an entirely oral process; this expansion, as I imagine it, could not have been carried out by means of writing. [56] But I am also convinced that a written text of Homer played a part in the Panathenaic festival in sixth-century Athens; certain small-scale changes to the poems can be traced to this historical context, and these changes, I think, show clear signs of writing. [57] Thus in my view written texts of Homer appeared sometime between the early seventh century BC and the late sixth century BC, and I do not know when. I think that in the period that concerns us, the late seventh century BC, epic poetry must still have been a largely oral matter: if the Homeric text at that time was to a large extent fixed, then it must have been rhapsodes who maintained it in a fixed form; if the text was disputed, as in the case of Odyssey 15.297, then the rhapsodes who performed it must have disagreed with each other. Thus it is not just that the Homeric poems had authority, but that different versions had authority, and the question would arise in any particular case what the basis of that authority was. Here, I think, different schools of rhapsodes enter the picture. As I said at the outset, I think that the Homeridai of Chios were the primary locus of diffusion outside of Ionia for what were in fact Ionian poems. The Homeridai were the guardians of an inherited tradition, and there must have been agreement as to what exactly that tradition was. In the case of Telemachus’ voyage home from Pylos, for example, the Homeridai would all presumably know that the ship headed for Pheai before it struck out for the open sea, and this small bit of the poems would have been included with the rest as the poems were carried to the mainland and elsewhere. Given this scenario, on what basis did one contest the name Pheai in Odyssey 15.297 in late seventh-century Sparta? I suggest that a link was claimed with Homer other than through the Homeridai. As early as Aristotle we hear that the Spartans claimed to have received their Homeric tradition, not from the Homeridai of Chios, but from the Kreophyleioi of Samos: Kreophylos, the putative ancestor of this guild of rhapsodes, is supposed to have hosted Homer himself on Samos, and the Kreophyleioi, his descendants, are supposed to have passed the Homeric poems on to Lycurgus when he visited Samos from Sparta. [58] The Kreophyleioi, who were known for the Oechaliae Halosis tradition of Heracles, thus seem to have claimed an independent tradition for the Homeric poems as well: Homer, it seems, gave the poems to his host Kreophylos, who passed them on to his descendants. [59] Aristotle is the first to tell us that the Spartans claimed to have received the Homeric poems, not from Chios, but from a rival member of the Ionian dodecapolis, Samos. How much older this tradition is than Aristotle we cannot tell, but there is no reason that it cannot be significantly older. One prominent scholar has recently dated it to the late sixth century BC; [60] I would suggest instead the late seventh century BC, when the Hymn to Pythian Apollo was composed: this hymn’s authority for the view that Nestor’s kingdom lay in Elis, I suggest, was not the Odyssey of the Homeridai, but the Odyssey of the Kreophyleioi, to whose ancestor Homer had given the true version of the poem. Or so it was alleged.
But if the Kreophyleioi were indeed put forward as the authority for a new location of Nestor’s kingdom, would this guild of rhapsodes have actually backed what amounted to a bogus claim? There is reason to think so, and not simply because, like Hesiod’s muses (and poets generally), they knew how to tell things like the truth (Pherai) as well as the truth itself (Pheai). The reason has to do with the role played by Samos in the events that led to the controversy over Pylos in the first place, namely the expulsion of Nestor’s descendants from Messenia. Herodotus provides a piece of evidence that cannot be securely dated, but which strongly suggests complicity between Sparta and Samos in this very deed. When a group of Samians exiled by Polycrates asked Sparta for help returning home, Sparta responded by sending a force against the Samian tyrant; Sparta claimed to have its own reasons for doing this, namely acts of piracy committed by Polycrates against the Spartans, but according to the Samian exiles the Spartans helped them for a different reason: it was to repay an earlier good deed, when the Samians once sent ships to help the Spartans against the Messenians. [61] Franz Kiechle has argued that the ships once sent by Samos against the Messenians were instead (or more specifically) sent against the Pylians and the other coastal populations of Messenia during the Second Messenian War. [62] While the episode is undated in Herodotus, it clearly preceded the tyranny of Polycrates, and Kiechle’s dating of it to the Second Messenian War has been accepted by others. [63] Paul Cartledge, who accepts Kiechle’s dating, argues that there was a centuries-long “special relationship” between Sparta and Samos, and that, to judge by the exchange of goods between the two cities, this relationship began by c. 650 BC. [64] Sparta’s special relationship with Samos extended, I think, to the Kreophyleioi; the claim to have received the Homeric poems from them was later linked to the “fluid wonder-worker” Lycurgus, [65] but it actually originated, I suggest, in the aftermath of the Second Messenian War. If Sparta was embarrassed by what had happened to Nestor’s descendants in Messenia, so must Samos have been after providing the naval forces to drive them out. The idea that Nestor’s kingdom had never been in Messenia, but in Elis, could well have been the result of Spartan-Samian connivance, especially if Samos had the Kreophyleioi to vouch for any necessary adjustments to the Homeric poems.
It remains to tie a loose end, which has to do with the other side in the early controversy over the location of Pylos. Ultimately the idea that Pylos was in Elis did not succeed. The memory of Messenian Pylos’ final site on the bay of Navarino was preserved in the name that remained attached to the site; Athenian authors like Thucydides and Aristophanes use the name routinely in connection with the events of 425 BC, and Herodotus fits the same pattern. [66] Had any of these authors been asked where Nestor’s kingdom lay, they would have answered Messenia, and the same answer would have been given in earlier generations as far back as one cares to go. [67] We saw earlier that those who did not accept that Pylos was in Elis took measures to insure that the name Pheai remained in Odyssey 15.297: another line was added to protect that name. I suspect that Athens was at the center of this effort to set the record straight. The Athenians had close ties to Ionia, and they must have received the Homeric poems soon after their creation; they probably had a connection with the Homeridai from the very start. [68] Within a century of this foundational period of Homeric reception the Hymn to Pythian Apollo made a strong bid to establish the Spartan point of view concerning the location of Nestor’s kingdom in the Homeric poems. If the hymn was launched at Spartan festivals, as suggested earlier, it did not remain a local phenomenon, but circulated more widely. It must have been particularly associated with Delphi if the victors in the First Sacred War appropriated it when they became Delphi’s new masters. Athens, as one of the victors in the war, was doubtless involved in the hymn’s appropriation. The purpose of appropriating the hymn was to neutralize it. I come back now to the one passage in Apollo’s journey from Olympos to Krisa that is clearly out of place in the hymn, namely when he crosses the Kephisos river traveling in the wrong direction. Later in the hymn the Cretan ship, with Apollo on board, will pass another river, the Alpheios, before reaching Pylos. Whoever inserted the Kephisos river into Apollo’s journey, and made him cross this river backwards, clearly had in view the voyage of the Cretan ship, which similarly puts Pylos on the wrong side of the Alpheios. The effect of the new passage is to neutralize the hymns’ location of Pylos in Elis. To the question whether the Cretan ship really reached Pylos by passing the Alpheios river the answer would now be: no more than Apollo really went from Onkhestos to Haliartos by crossing the Kephisos river. To the underlying question, is Pylos in Elis, the answer would be simpler: nonsense. The earlier version of the Hymn to Pythian Apollo that had gained currency before the First Sacred War could not somehow be withdrawn or eliminated after the war, it could only be countered. The preferred Greek way to counter anything was not outright denial, but to take the point and stand it on its head. This was a topsy-turvy world, but it had its logic. [69] The geography of the hymn was effectively turned into nonsense by the victors in the Sacred War, and that by and large is what it has seemed ever since. [70]


Map 1. By Jill Curry Robbins, after Pausanias, Description of Greece. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1918–1935, vol. 5, pl. 9.
Map 2. By Jill Curry Robbins, after Pausanias, Description of Greece. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1918–1935, vol. 5, pl. 1.


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[ back ] 1. The arbitration probably took place in the 560s or early 550s (cf. Legon 1981:138). The evidence quoted by Solon, the Salaminian entry to the catalogue of ships (Iliad 2.557–558), was widely regarded in antiquity as an Athenian forgery by either Solon or Peisistratos (Strabo 9.10.1, Plutarch Solon 10, Diogenes Laertius 1.2.48).
[ back ] 2. Burkert 1979; Janko 1982:112–14. For the date of the festival, see Janko 258n73. For the division of the hymn into two parts, see Janko 99–100. The two parts of the hymn are similar enough that one is thought to have imitated the other. The usual view, which Janko follows, is that the Delian hymn is older. M. L. West has taken the opposite view, that the Pythian hymn is older (West 1975:161–170; cf. also West 1999). Burkert has followed West’s lead, arguing that the Delian hymn was largely composed for Polycrates’ festival. I agree with Janko on this issue (see his discussion of West’s argument, pp. 109–112). Janko dates the Delian hymn to the first half of the seventh century BC; I would say the middle of the seventh century.
[ back ] 3. Hymn to Apollo 172. Cf. Schmid 1929:234 and Dyer 1975:119–121. Burkert 1979:60–61 and Janko 1982:114–115 do not accept this explanation of the blind poet as the sphragis of the Homeridai. But Janko’s concluding statement on the subject seems to me to amount to the same thing: “In Chios, a close-knit guild of followers and descendants endeavoured to preserve the deeds and poems of their founder; so, in this Hymn, the honoured bard is surely Homer, and it is one of the Homeridae of Chios who bestows on him the praise which he deserved, but would surely have hesitated to utter himself.”
[ back ] 4. I develop this argument at greater length in Frame forthcoming: Part 4.
[ back ] 5. Homeric Hymn to Apollo 540–544 (translations of the hymn are based loosely on A. Athanassakis, The Homeric Hymns2 [Baltimore 2004]): [ back ] [ back ] ἠέ τι τηΰσιον ἔπος ἔσσεται ἠέ τι ἔργον, [ back ] ὕβρις θ', ἣ θέμις ἐστὶ καταθνητῶν ἀνθρώπων, [ back ] ἄλλοι ἔπειθ' ὑμῖν σημάντορες ἄνδρες ἔσονται, [ back ] τῶν ὑπ' ἀναγκαίῃ δεδμήσεσθ' ἤματα πάντα. [ back ] εἴρηταί τοι πάντα, σὺ δὲ φρεσὶ σῇσι φύλαξαι. [ back ] [ back ] …there will be some wanton word or deed, [ back ] and an outrage, as is the way of mortal men, [ back ] then there will be other masters over you, [ back ] under whose compulsion you will be subjected forever. [ back ] Everything has been told to you, but you guard it in your heart. [ back ] [ back ] The singular addressee σύ, line 544, is the leader of the Cretan priests (cf. Κρητῶν ἀγός, line 525), but the threat is made against the priests collectively (ὑμῖν, line 542).
[ back ] 6. See Forrest 1956:33–52, esp. p. 33: “About the date and the course of the war there is, fortunately, little doubt. The story dictated by the ancient evidence is a reasonable one. Kirrha fell in 591, when Simon was archon at Athens and Gylidas at Delphi. The siege had been a long one, so we may assume that hostilities began in 595 or thereabouts.” Jeffery 1976:73–75 dates the end of the war to 586 BC, when the reorganized Pythia were first celebrated. The reality of the First Sacred War is challenged by Robertson 1978. Davies 1994 takes account of Robertson’s argument (summarized p. 197) and other more recent work (pp. 188–200) but reaches no conclusion about the war, saying p. 206 only that it remains a plausible hypothesis; Davies p. 193 is similarly agnostic about the final lines of the Hymn to Apollo: “Allusions which may or may not be to the war have been detected in late archaic poetry in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, lines 540–544 (Forrest, 1956), and in the last lines (478–480) of the Hesiodic Aspis (Parke and Boardman, 1957).” The city destroyed in the Sacred War is sometimes called Krisa and sometimes Kirrha; for the problem of the two names, see the article ‘Krisa’ in Der Neue Pauly: Kirrha, a port on the gulf, was inhabited in the classical period and later (archaeological remains exist); the sacred plain, which was perhaps the site of Homeric Krisa (there are late Mycenaean and other earlier remains on a spur 1.5 kilometers north of Kirrha; for the spur cf. the phrase Κρισαῖον λόφον in Pindar Pythian 5.37) was apparently not inhabited later. In ancient tradition Kirrha and Krisa were equated. Sources for the First Sacred War (Aeschines 3.107–113, Plutarch Solon 11, Pausanias 10.37.4–8; all quoted in Davies 1994) use the form Kirrha; Pausanias says that Krisa was an older name of the city.
[ back ] 7. Parke and Wormell 1956:107 accept this interpretation.
[ back ] 8. Cf. Davies 1994:203: “The final lines of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo can hardly be read otherwise than as a warning, or more plausibly as a prophecy (presumably post eventum), that one regime at the shrine would be violently succeeded by another. Given that the whole poem as we have it is concerned to provide a divine charter for the oracle as Apollo’s, and given that lines 399ff. are concerned to provide the Kretan sailors who had been hijacked by Apollo’s epiphany with a charter as priests of the sanctuary, these final lines are disconcerting. To propose the existence of a lacuna between lines 539 and 540 does not help much, for the final lines will still explicitly cancel the charter. Unless they belong to a wholly different poem, they have to be read, I think, as an addition, tacked on to accommodate a new reality as economically as possible.”
[ back ] 9. The name Krise occurs five times in the hymn (lines 269, 282, 431, 438, 445); the adjective Krisaios occurs once (line 446).
[ back ] 10. See Forrest 1956:36–44 for grievances that the victors may have had with Delphi in the period before the war. Delphi was then associated primarily with Dorian states (cf. Forrest 1956:48 and 1982:316; cf. also Davies 1994:204), and when Kleisthenes, the anti-Dorian tyrant of Sikyon, sought Delphi’s support for his campaign against Argos, the oracle rebuffed him: Kleisthenes asked about expelling the Dorian hero Adrastos from Sikyon, and the oracle responded that Adrastos was king of Sikyon while Kleisthenes was a λευστήρ, a ‘stone-thrower’, i.e. a common skirmisher (Herodotus 5.67.2). In Athens Delphi supported the Cylonian conspiracy: the conspiracy’s failure was attributed to the misunderstanding of an oracle, and an encouraging oracle therefore must have been given. Forrest 1956:41 suggests that Delphi was also responsible for declaring the Alcmaeonids under a curse (ἐναγεῖς) after the archon Megakles put the Cylonian conspirators to death; Megakles’ son Alcmaeon (see Herodotus 5.125 for his visit to Croesus) was perhaps the Alcmaeon who commanded the Athenian forces in the Sacred War (Plutarch Solon 11; cf. Toepffer 1889:243). Forrest neatly connects the grievances of Sikyon and Athens with the final passage of the Hymn to Apollo, where the warning against a τηΰσιον ἔπος, ‘wanton word’, applies to the response given to Kleisthenes, calling him a λευστήρ, and the warning against a (τηΰσιον) ἔργον, ‘wanton deed’, applies to the support given to the Cylonian conspirators. The motives of the Thessalians in the Sacred War are less clear but must have had to do with their desire to extend their influence southward to the gulf of Corinth. The Pylaian (Anthelan) Amphiktyony, which was centered around Thermopylai in southern Thessaly, and which the Thessalians dominated, was another factor, for it became part of the Delphic Ampiktyony, with meetings alternating between Delphi and the sanctuary of Demeter at Anthela; Forrest 1956:42–44 suggests a possible rivalry between Delphi and the Pylaian Ampiktyony before the Sacred War. For a full discussion of the Delphic Amphiktyony, see Hall 2002:134–154.
[ back ] 11. Kleisthenes, who led the Sikyonians in the Sacred War, had a deep grievance with Dorian Argos (Herodotus 5.67.1), as a result of which he expelled from Sikyon not only the cult of Adrastos (cf. n10 above), but also performances of Homeric poetry (cf. p. 25 below).
[ back ] 12. It resembles the Hymn to Delian Apollo in this respect; cf. n2 above and Janko 1982:109–112.
[ back ] 13. The two maps provided at the end of the paper illustrate the argument to follow.
[ back ] 14. Okalea, which occurs in the catalogue of ships (Iliad 2.501), is said by Strabo 9.2.26 to lie halfway between Haliartos and the Alalkomenion (in Alalkomenai), thirty stades from each: ἡ δ' Ὠκαλέη μέση Ἁλιάρτου καὶ Ἀλαλκομενίου ἑκατέρου τριάκοντα σταδίους ἀπέχουσα.
[ back ] 15. The line is attributed to Hesiod by the AB scholia (and Eustathius) to Iliad 2.522: ὁ δὲ Κηφισσὸς ποταμός ἐστι τῆς Φωκίδος, ἔχων τὰς πηγὰς ἐκ Λιλαίας, ὥς φησιν Ἡσίοδος “ὅς – ὕδωρ.” Eustathius has Λιλαίηθεν, scholia A Λιλαίῃσι. In Hesiod fr. 70.18 MW only the end of the line ]ροο[ν] ὕδωρ survives; the context of fr. 70 is Athamas and his descendants (the Kephisos is the divine father of Eteoklos).
[ back ] 16. Translations of the Iliad and Odyssey are loosely based on Lattimore.
[ back ] 17. Strabo 8.3.19 says that while Arene was not certainly identified, Samikon was the usual identification. Simpson and Lazenby 1970:83 regard this identification as “probably correct.” Visser 1997:509–511 is more hesitant.
[ back ] 18. Apollo’s journey from Olympos to Krisa similarly contains one otherwise unknown place, called Lektos, to which the god comes immediately after he leaves Olympos and descends to Pieria (lines 216–217); this place is called “sandy”, and the epithet (which belongs only to Pylos elsewhere in Greek epic) puts the place on the sea, apparently southeast of Olympos in Pieria, as fits the direction of Apollo’s journey. Like Argyphea, Lektos serves to demonstrate the poet’s own independent knowledge.
[ back ] 19. Simpson and Lazenby 1970:83–84. Strabo 8.3.24 mentions, among other ancient conjectures, a location for Aipy north of the Alpheios in Amphidolia; perhaps this is what the poet of the hymn had in mind.
[ back ] 20. The coastal location was near the mouth of the Peneios river; the inland location was at the confluence of the Peneios and the Ladon rivers, 25 kilometers from the sea. For the inland location, see Pausanias 6.22.5 and Strabo 8.3.7 (mount Skollis, mentioned by Strabo, is just to the north of this location). But a location on the coast near the mouth of the Peneios (on cape Chelonatas, west of the town of Elis) is also detectable in Strabo’s confused account: he says that Pylos lay between the mouth of the Peneios and the mouth of the Seleeis: μεταξὺ δὲ τῆς τοῦ Πηνειοῦ καὶ τῆς Σελλήεντος ἐκβολῆς Πύλος ᾠκεῖτο κατὰ τὸ Σκόλλιον. The Seleeis is a Homeric river, and what Strabo means by it is not clear: there is no other river reaching the sea near the mouth of the Peneios, and Seleeis is therefore taken as another name for the Ladon, which flows into the Peneios near the inland location of Pylos; but this interpretation, while it accounts for Strabo’s mention of Mount Skollis, ignores his reference to the mouth of the Peneios (τῆς τοῦ Πηνειοῦ …ἐκβολῆς) in his location of Pylos; furthermore, Strabo in an earlier passage (8.3.5) says specifically that the Selleeis and the Peneios empty into the sea near each other (between cape Chelonatas and Cyllene), so he clearly had this idea. It is evident that in Strabo 8.3.7 two locations of Eleian Pylos have become confused; the inland location must have prevailed in the minds of historical Eleians, but traces of an earlier coastal location remained in the tradition.
[ back ] 21. By the name Elis, which refers to both the town of Elis and the region, I mean the region. The town of Elis, located on the Peneios river, did not exist until 471 BC; before this there were only scattered villages in the region of Elis (cf. Strabo 8.3.2).
[ back ] 22. Strabo 8.3.9.
[ back ] 23. According to Pausanias 5.1.3 the Eleians came to the Peloponnesos from Aetolia; their dialect was Northwest Greek, and the tradition for their migration through Aetolia is based on fact (cf. Der Neue Pauly, ‘Elis’, 994). The Hymn to Pythian Apollo apparently pictures a stage in the Eleians’ migration soon after they had entered the Peloponnesos from the north. The later Dorian myth of the return of the Heraclidai may well have been known to the poet of the Hymn to Pythian Apollo (cf. Tyrtaios fr. 2W, which says that the Heraclidai came to Sparta from Erineos in the north, and see OCD, ‘Heraclidai’). [ back ]
[ back ] 24. Pheai is about 12 kilometers north of the Alpheios mouth. The location for the Eleian Pylos suggested by Strabo 8.3.7 (on cape Chelonatas near the mouth of the Peneios, cf. n20 above) is some 30 kilometers north of Pheai; thus Telemachus was already well past Pheai when he first set sail for home if he began his voyage from here. Strabo 8.3.27 makes this point in arguing against a location of Nestor’s city in Elis. The singular form Pheia is used of the town in Iliad 7.135 (see pp. 16–17 below); this form is also used by Thucydides, in e.g. 2.25.4, where the name of the cape is said to be Ichthys; according to Strabo 8.3.12 Pheia was the name of the cape as well as the town.
[ back ] 25. By Pherai is meant the Achaean city of Pharai; cf. Pausanias 7.22.1, who locates this city 150 stades west of Patrai and 70 stades south of the coast: Φαραὶ δέ, Ἀχαιῶν πόλις, ...ὁδὸς δὲ ἐς Φαρὰς Πατρέων μὲν ἐκ τοῦ ἄστεως στάδιοι πεντήκοντά εἰσι καὶ ἑκατόν, ἀπὸ θαλάσσης δὲ ἄνω πρὸς ἤπειρον περὶ ἑβδομήκοντα. Herodotus 1.145 names this city Φαρέες and locates it between Patrai and Olenos in his list of the twelve Achaian cities: Πατρέες καὶ Φαρέες καὶ Ὤλενος. Strabo 8.7.5 names the city Φάρα in the singular and says that it borders Dyme: ἡ δὲ Φάρα συνορεῖ μὲν τῇ Δυμαίᾳ. καλοῦνται δὲ οἱ μὲν ἐκ ταύτης τῆς Φάρας Φαριεῖς, οἱ δ' ἐκ τῆς Μεσσηνιακῆς Φαραιᾶται. [ back ]
[ back ] 26. The poet of the hymn wants to evoke the Odyssey in all three lines of this passage, including the last, which occurs four times in the Odyssey (with different case endings) to associate Ithaka with the three other islands (Odyssey 1.246, 9.24, 16.123, 19.131). One of the examples occurs in the passage in which Odysseus reveals his identity to the Phaeacians; in the same passage he mentions Ithaka’s “conspicuous” (ἀριπρεπές) mountain, which the poet of the hymn also has in mind when Ithaka suddenly appears to the Cretan sailors from out of the clouds (Odyssey 9.19–24): [ back ] [ back ] εἴμ' Ὀδυσεὺς Λαερτιάδης, ὃς πᾶσι δόλοισιν [ back ] ἀνθρώποισι μέλω, καί μευ κλέος οὐρανὸν ἵκει. [ back ] ναιετάω δ' Ἰθάκην εὐδείελον· ἐν δ' ὄρος αὐτῇ, [ back ] Νήριτον εἰνοσίφυλλον, ἀριπρεπές· ἀμφὶ δὲ νῆσοι [ back ] πολλαὶ ναιετάουσι μάλα σχεδὸν ἀλλήλῃσι, [ back ] Δουλίχιόν τε Σάμη τε καὶ ὑλήεσσα Ζάκυνθος. [ back ] [ back ] I am Odysseus, son of Laertes, who for my wiles [ back ] am known to all men, and my fame reaches the sky. [ back ] And I live in bright Ithaka; and there is a mountain there, [ back ] Neritos with trembling leaves, standing out clearly; and around it islands, [ back ] Many of them, are settled very close to each other, [ back ] Doulikhion and Same and wooded Zakynthos. [ back ]
[ back ] 27. The two lines of the Odyssey are not a formulaic sequence; the Hymn to Apollo has the only correspondence in Greek epic. The first part of line 434 of the hymn, λάβρος ἐπαιγίζων, is found in Iliad 2.148, where it also describes the west wind (ζέφυρος, Iliad 2.147); the poet of the hymn, who has the Odyssey primarily in mind, seems to be conscious of the Iliad parallel as well.
[ back ] 28. I repeat my earlier observation that the poet of the hymn shows skill in using Homer’s language for his own purposes; cf. p. 9 above on the poet’s adaptation of the Pylian entry to the catalogue of ships to specify a new location of Pylos in the hymn. Similarly, when the Cretan ship heads for Pherai the poet exhibits his independence not only in the main substitution of Pherai for Pheai, but in another detail as well, using ἀγαλλομένη, ‘exulting’, instead of Homer’s ἐπειγομένη, ‘driven on’, to describe the effect of the wind on the ship. In the descripton of the Cretan ship as it heads for the gulf of Krisa the poet again shows skill in combining passages of the Iliad and the Odyssey in such a way as to remain independent of both (cf. n27 above).
[ back ] 29. Strabo 8.3.26; the scholia to Iliad 7.135 cite Aristarchus for the reading; the scholia to Odyssey 15.297 also preserve the reading. Strabo curiously quotes Odyssey 15.297 with the word ἀγαλλομένη of the hymn instead of the word ἐπειγομένη of the Odyssey manuscripts; the reason for this is not clear.
[ back ] 30. In Odyssey 15.297 the verb ἐπέβαλλεν takes the accusative object Pheas; in the next line the prepositional phrase παρ' Ἤλιδα δῖαν also functions as an object of ἐπέβαλλεν, but it does not suit this verb’s meaning, ‘headed for’. The lack of parallelism between the two objects is apparent. In Hymn to Apollo 425–426, on the other hand, the prepositional phrase follows two similar prepositional phrases: [ back ] [ back ] βῆ δὲ παρὰ Κρουνοὺς καὶ Χαλκίδα καὶ παρὰ Δύμην [ back ] ἠδὲ παρ' Ἤλιδα δῖαν ὅθι κρατέουσιν Ἐπειοί. [ back ] [ back ] It sailed past Krounoi and Chalkis and past Dyme [ back ] and past splendid Elis, where the Epeians rule. [ back ] [ back ] On this analysis Odyssey 15.298 draws on Hymn to Apollo 426. It remains to point out that in the first instance the Hymn to Apollo 426 drew on two other passages of the Odyssey: 13.275: ἤ εἰς Ἤλιδα δῖαν ὅθι κρατέουσιν Ἐπειοί, and 24.431: ἢ καὶ ἐς Ἤλιδα δῖαν ὅθι κρατέουσιν Ἐπειοί.
[ back ] 31. Note that it is this simpler version that the Hymn to Apollo challenges, for it is precisely when the Cretan ship heads for Pherai that Ithaka appears to the sailors; from this we can infer that in the Odyssey, the hymn’s model, Telemachus once struck out for the open sea as soon as he reached Pheai. Cape Pheai looks like a natural jumping-off point on the way to Ithaka; no other point on the coast needed to be specified. I leave out of account another line that seems to have been added to Telemachus’ voyage, namely Odyssey 15.295: βὰν δὲ παρὰ Κρουνοὺς καὶ Χαλκίδα καλλιρέεθρον, “and they went past Krounoi and Khalkis with the beautiful streams.” This line, which occurs only in Strabo, relocates the two places named in line 425 of the hymn; the hymn puts these two places where the historical Elis lay to fill the vacuum left by Elis’s displacement to the northeast; Strabo, who includes the line in Telemachus’ voyage immediately before the sun sets and his ship heads for Pheai, puts the two places in what was historically Triphylia, between Samikon and the Alpheios (Strabo 8.3.13). This does not concern the early controversy over the location of Pylos in Elis, but a later controversy about a location of Pylos in Triphylia (see n39 below). [ back ] [ back ] In an interesting recent discussion James Diggle proposes to omit from the original text of the Odyssey the entire passage 15.295-300, which he calls a “magpie’s nest” (in Robert Bittlestone, Odysseus Unbound [Cambridge 2005], pp. 517-518). In Diggle’s version Telemachus sets sail from Pylos, Athena sends a following wind, and Telemachus is not mentioned again until he is on the shores of Ithaka in 15.495. My analysis, on the other hand, omits only lines 295 and 298 from the six-line passage in question; problems in the rest of the passage seem to me to be relatively minor, if not negligible (see Diggle for these). The real question is whether Pheai belongs in the story. To this I say only that Pheai was part of the story before the Hymn to Pythian Apollo was composed; if it was not in the original text of the Odyssey, I do not know how or why it was added by so early a date.
[ back ] 32. Kirk 1990:252–253 is not convinced by his own suggestion: “If the western Arcadians were in Parrhasia (vol. I, 218), then they might have interfered as far to the N-W as Pheia; though somewhere further south, around Arene indeed, might have been a more plausible area for border clashes with Pylians.” Visser 1997:524 thinks that there must have been a second town of Pheia in Arcadia.
[ back ] 33. This assumes that the Keladon river was in Arcadia, but such a river is not in fact definitely known; Callimachus 3.107 (Hymn to Diana) refers to a Keladon river in Arcadia, but Callimachus may only have Iliad 7.134 in mind; a tributary of the Alpheios named the Kelados is mentioned by Pausanias 8.38.9. The Iardanos river near Pheia in Iliad 7.135 also presents a problem in that no river of any size is found near Pheia, although a stream in the vicinity could be meant. Strabo 8.3.12 says that a ποτάμιον near the town of Pheia was taken as the Iardanos by some ancient scholars; Simpson and Lazenby 1970:94 comment as follows: “Pheia is presumably the same as classical Pheia, securely located at Ayios Andreas near Katakolon, while the river Iardanos is presumably the stream immediately to north of the village of Skaphidia.” The phrase Ἰαρδάνου ἀμφὶ ῥέεθρα in Iliad 7.135 is also found in Odyssey 3.292, where it refers to a river in western Crete.
[ back ] 34. Cantieni 1942; the four passages identified by Cantieni are: 11.696–702, 711–713, 722–734, 757–758. The second and third passages concern the Alpheios (the third passage, in my view, includes 11.735–736 as well). The fourth passage, 11.757–758, concerns the location of Bouprasion, which must be imagined close to the Alpheios to fit the secondary version of the story (cf. n49 below for the true location of Bouprasion in northwest Elis, far from the Alpheios). The first passage, 11.696–702, does not concern geography, but the form of the myth in Nestor’s cattle-raid.
[ back ] 35. Frame forthcoming: Part 5.
[ back ] 36. For the town of Pylos incorporated by Lepreon see Strabo 8.3.30.
[ back ] 37. Bölte 1934:319–347. Bölte completed an earlier version of this article in 1914, seven years after Dörpfeld’s discovery at Kakovatos, but publication was delayed by World War I and its aftermath. Strabo’s town of Pylos, which was incorporated by Lepreon probably in the first half of the fifth century (cf. Bölte, RE ‘Triphylia’, 197; E. Meyer, RE ‘Pylos’, 2131), cannot have been more than three or four kilometers from Kakovatos; it fits Nestor’s story as well as Kakovatos, for the Pylians’ nighttime march to a river near Arene, unlike their daytime march to the Alpheios, is not precisely timed. From Strabo’s Pylos, north of Lepreon, the march would have been shorter than from Kakovatos. The river reached by the nighttime march is called the Minyeios, the ‘Minyan’ river (Iliad 11.722), which was later identified with the Anigros, a little to the south of Samikon, at the southern entrance to the Klidi pass (Strabo 8.3.19; Bölte 1934:322).
[ back ] 38. Iliad 11.747–749: [ back ] [ back ] αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ἐπόρουσα κελαινῇ λαίλαπι ἶσος, [ back ] πεντήκοντα δ' ἕλον δίφρους, δύο δ' ἀμφὶς ἕκαστον [ back ] φῶτες ὀδὰξ ἕλον οὖδας ἐμῷ ὑπὸ δουρὶ δαμέντες. [ back ] [ back ] But I rushed forward like a black whirlwind, [ back ] and I seized fifty chariots, and two on either side of each, [ back ] two men caught the ground with their teeth, brought down by my spear.
[ back ] 39. In Frame forthcoming: Part 5 I develop an argument for a late fifth-century date. The line attested only by Strabo at Odyssey 15.295, which adds Khalkis and Krounoi to Telemachus’ voyage before he reaches Pheai (see n31 above), I would date to the Hellenistic period when Triphylian Pylos had become the issue; Strabo 8.3.13 argues strenuously that these two places are in Triphylia, not far north of Triphylian Pylos.
[ back ] 40. Visser 1997:522–530, for example, continues to regard Triphylia as the location of Homeric Pylos.
[ back ] 41. Cf. E. Meyer, RE ‘Pylos’, 2143–2146. Meyer’s article was completed in 1950, before the Linear-B decipherment, and published in 1959, after the decipherment; the Linear-B decipherment did not at all change his view of the location of Homeric Pylos, as he states in an addendum, 2520. See also Meyer 1951:127 and 1957:81–82, and, more recently, his authoritative ‘Messenien’, RE Supplement XV (1978) 228.
[ back ] 42. For Demetrius of Scepsis as probably the first to locate Nestor’s kingdom in Triphylia see Meyer, RE ‘Pylos’, 2153; Demetrius wrote on the Trojan catalogue in the Iliad, and the Kaukones, allies of the Trojans, probably account for Demetrius’ interest in Triphylia, where a tribe of Kaukones was also found.
[ back ] 43. See Luraghi 2002:49n21, who follows Visser 1997 for the location of Homeric Pylos (cf. n40 above).
[ back ] 44. Herodotus refers to the site when he tells how the Sicilian Greeks made a show of sending aid against the Persians, but held up their ships “around Pylos and Tainaron in the land of the Lacedaemonians” to await the outcome of the war: περὶ Πύλον καὶ Ταίναρον γῆς τῆς Λακεδαιμονίων ἀνεκώχευον τὰς νέας, καραδοκέοντες καὶ οὗτοι τὸν πόλεμον τῇ πεσέεται (7.168).
[ back ] 45. Strabo is the source for a tradition that there was an ‘old Pylos’ (παλαιὰ Πύλος) in Messenia before the Pylos at Koryphasion; he says that this city lay under mount Aigaleon, and that when it was destroyed some of the inhabitants moved to Koryphasion (ἡ μὲν οὖν παλαιὰ Πύλος ἡ Μεσσηνιακὴ ὑπὸ τῷ Αἰγαλέῳ πόλις ἦν, κατεσπασμένης δὲ ταύτης ἐπὶ τῷ Κορυφασίῳ τινὲς αὐτῶν ᾤκησαν, Strabo 8.4.2). Marinatos 1955 has proposed a site for this ‘old Pylos’ five kilometers northeast of Ano Englianos at Volimidia, where multiple Mycenaean graves have been found, some of which became cult-sites in the eighth century BC. Ernst Meyer, ‘Messenien’ RE Supplement XV 207–208, accepts this identification of ‘old Pylos’, which he regards as the successor to Ano Englianos, preserving the name of the Bronze Age city, and then passing this name on to the site at Koryphasion (“Die Namenstradition des mykenischen Palastes von Ano-Englianos hätte sich hier erhalten…Die Bewohner dieses ‘Altpyos’ hätten dann den Namen ihres Orts nach dem neubesiedelten Koryphasion mitgenommen”).
[ back ] 46. Pylian survivors were still living on the Messenian coast during the Second Messenian War according to a historical tradition preserved by Pausanias. Pausanias 4.18.1 says that when the Messenians, after their defeat in the battle of the Great Trench, retreated to mount Hira, the people of Pylos and Methone (on the coast south of Pylos) continued to preserve the coastal districts for them: Μεσσήνιοι δὲ ὡς ἐς τὴν Εἶραν ‹ἀνῳκίσθησαν,› τῆς δὲ ἄλλης ἐξείργοντο πλὴν ὅσον σφίσιν οἱ Πύλιοι τὰ ἐπὶ θαλάσσῃ καὶ οἱ Μοθωναῖοι διέσωζον. Pausanias 4.23.1 says that when mount Hira was finally captured and the Messenians were enslaved, the people of Pylos and Methone took to ships and left their old homes: τῶν δὲ Μεσσηνίων ὁπόσοι περὶ τὴν Εἶραν ἢ καὶ ἑτέρωθί που τῆς Μεσσηνίας ἐγκατελήφθησαν, τούτους μὲν οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι προσένειμαν ἐς τὸ εἱλωτικόν· Πύλιοι δὲ καὶ Μοθωναῖοι καὶ ὅσοι τὰ παραθαλάσσια ᾤκουν, [καὶ] ναυσὶν ὑπὸ τὴν ἅλωσιν τῆς Εἴρας ἀπαίρουσιν ἐς Κυλλήνην τὸ ἐπίνειον τὸ Ἠλείων. Only part of what Pausanias says is reliable. His account of the second Messenian war derives in part from the third-century BC poet Rhianos, whose tales of the Messenian hero Aristomenes seem to have pertained to events of the early fifth century BC rather than the seventh century BC; for this well-known issue see Kiechle 1959:90–92. Kiechle, pp. 34–45, argues that the Pylians went to Metapontum in southern Italy, where a local cult of Neleids (τὸν τῶν Νηλειδῶν ἐναγισμόν, Strabo 6.1.15) suggests that the Achaeans who were said to have settled Metapontum (Strabo 6.1.15 citing Antiochus of Syracuse) were in fact (or at least included) Pylians. Kiechle, pp. 48–49, assigns a date between 630 and 600 BC (depending on the date of the end of the second Messenian war) for the departure of the Pylians from the Peloponnesos. Recent scholarship has lowered the dates for both the first and the second Messenian wars: the First Messenian War, which used to be dated to the eighth century BC, has been redated to c. 700/690–680/670 BC; the Second Messenian War, which was once thought to have erupted after Sparta’s loss to Argos at Hysiai in 669 BC, has been redated to 640/630–600 BC (see Parker 1991:25–47, and the article ‘Messenische Kriege’ in Der Neue Pauly).
[ back ] 47. Thucydides 4.3.2 points out this distinction in nomenclature on the part of the Spartans: ἀπέχει γὰρ σταδίους μάλιστα ἡ Πύλος τῆς Σπάρτης τετρακοσίους καὶ ἔστιν ἐν τῇ Μεσσηνίᾳ ποτὲ οὔσῃ γῇ, καλοῦσι δὲ αὐτὴν οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι Κορυφάσιον. The name Koryphasion, which was doubtless old, belonged properly to the cape on which Pylos was situated as opposed to the city itself; cf. E. Meyer, RE ‘Pylos’, 2126. Examples of the Spartans’ use of the name Koryphasion can be seen in the Peace of Nikias (Thucydides 5.18.7) and in the truce document preceding the Peace of Nikias (Thucydides 4.118.4). Xenophon Hellenica 1.2.18 uses the name Koryphasion, perhaps showing his Spartan orientation in this.
[ back ] 48. It is true that the only real proof of the existence of an earlier city of Pylos at Koryphasion is the persistence of the name of the site down to the time of the Peloponnesian war (cf. Meyer, RE ‘Pylos’, 2123). For the new city of Pylos founded on the site by the independent Messenians in 365 BC see Meyer, RE ‘Pylos’, 2125. The new foundation of course shows that the Messenians of the fourth century had strong feelings about this particular site; in the fifth century as well, as Thucydides 4.41.2 shows, the Messenians at Naupaktos regarded this Pylos as part of their ancestral fatherland, and they willingly undertook to guard it for the Athenians. While some of this patriotic feeling was doubtless invented, the invention must have attached itself to something, and the historical reality, I think, was the persistence of the name Pylos of the site that the Spartans called Koryphasion.
[ back ] 49. Hellenistic scholars identified Bouprasion with the coastal region northwest of the town of Elis. Demetrius of Scepsis is the likely source of Strabo’s statement that a settlement (κατοικία) called Bouprasion, which had probably once existed in the Eleian country, no longer existed in his own time, but “now only that territory is so called which is on the road that leads from the present city of Elis to Dyme” (Strabo 8.3.8; for Demetrius as Strabo’s source, see Bölte 1934:333). Bölte, who believed that Nestor’s battle actually took place as the Iliad describes it, sought to reject this location of Bouprasion, the endpoint of Nestor’s rout, and to find another location for it close to the Alpheios. His argument is refuted by Cantieni 1942:45–46, who showed that there is a consistent Hellenistic tradition that Bouprasion lay on the far side of Elis.
[ back ] 50. The ancient measurements of the distances between Messenian Pylos (Koryphasion) and the capes that bound the coast north of Elis (roughly Bouprasion) are 750 stades to cape Chelonatas and 1030 stades to cape Araxos (133.2 kilometers and 182.9 kilometers respectively); in Strabo 8.3.21, where these figures are given, the two reference points, the Alpheios river and cape Chelonatas, must be corrected to cape Chelonatas and cape Araxos (see E. Meyer, RE ‘Pylos’, 2120–2121).
[ back ] 51. See nn6 and 46 above for the dates.
[ back ] 52. Guillon 1963:85–98, for example, considers Boeotia the hymn’s main focus.
[ back ] 53. For Apollo’s place at Sparta I quote the following relevant excerpts from Robert Parker’s article “Spartan Religion” (Parker 1988): “the god who dominated Spartan festivals was lucid, disciplined Apollo” (151); it was Apollo, “above all,” who dominated Spartan religion (145); the colossal archaic statue of Apollo at Amyklai, 45 feet high, was “doubtless the most sacred object in all Laconia” (146); Sparta had a “special relationship with Apollo of Delphi” (143); the Spartans “loved oracles, more perhaps than did the citizens of any other Greek state, and granted them an unusual importance in political debate. Had not their own constitution been prescribed by Apollo of Delphi himself?” (154); “Delphic Apollo was closely associated with the kings. The Pythioi, permanent officials whose job it was to consult Delphi on public business – a post known only from Sparta – were royal appointees and shared the kings’ tent” (154). Sparta’s relationship to Delphi, which Parker highlights, is particularly relevant to the Hymn to Pythian Apollo.
[ back ] 54. Terpander was said to have won the first poetic competition at the festival of the Karneia, the first celebration of which was dated between 676 and 673 BC; the sources of this information are Hellanicus (FGrHist 4 F 85) and Sosibius (FGrHist 595 F 3) cited by Athenaeus 14, 635e (= Gostoli 1990: T 1). “Plutarch” On Music is the source for Terpander’s prooimia as preludes to Homeric performances; three passages are relevant: On Music 3, 1132c = Gostoli T 27, which says that according to Heraclides Ponticus Terpander set his own epic verses (ἔπη) and those of Homer to music and performed them in poetic contests; On Music 4, 1132d = Gostoli T 32, which says that Terpander composed preludes (prooimia) sung to the cithara in epic verses (ἐν ἔπεσιν); On Music 6, 1133c = Gostoli T 34, which says that early kitharodic performers, “after discharging their duty to the gods, which they did as they pleased, passed at once to the poetry of Homer and the rest. This can be seen in Terpander’s preludes (prooimia).” Gostoli F 1 (= PMG 697 Page) appears to be the start of a prooimion to Apollo (see Gostoli p. 129 for the question of whether the text of the fragment should be emended to yield a line of hexameter). Terpander is said to have taught his musical craft to others in Sparta (On Music 9, 1134b = Gostoli T 18).
[ back ] 55. Herodotus 5.67.1.
[ back ] 56. In Frame forthcoming: Part 4 I consider how the expansion could have been carried out in oral performance.
[ back ] 57. I develop this argument in Frame forthcoming: Part 2.
[ back ] 58. The evidence is from Aristotle’s Constitutions as excerpted by Heraclides Lembus (fr. 611 Rose = Heraclides Lembus 372–373.10 Dilts): Λυκοῦργος ἐν Σάμῳ ἐγένετο. καὶ τὴν Ὁμήρου ποίησιν παρὰ τῶν ἀπογόνων Κρεοφύλου λαβὼν πρῶτος διεκόμισεν εἰς Πελοπόννησον; Plutarch Lycurgus 4.4 attests the same tradition. Callimachus 6 Pfeiffer makes use of the tradition that Kreophylos entertained Homer in his home; cf. also Plato Republic 600 B.
[ back ] 59. The same Homeric origin was claimed for the Oechaliae Halosis according to Callimachus 6 Pfeiffer.
[ back ] 60. Janko 1992:31n50.
[ back ] 61. Herodotus 3.47.1: καὶ ἔπειτα παρασκευασάμενοι ἐστρατεύοντο Λακεδαιμόνιοι ἐπὶ Σάμον, ὡς μὲν Σάμιοι λέγουσι, εὐεργεσίας ἐκτίνοντες ὅτι σφι πρότεροι αὐτοὶ νηυσὶ ἐβοήθησαν ἐπὶ Μεσσηνίους, ὡς δὲ Λακεδαιμόνιοι λέγουσι, οὐκ οὕτω τιμωρῆσαι δεομένοισι Σαμίοισι ἐστρατεύοντο ὡς τείσασθαι βουλόμενοι τοῦ κρητῆρος τῆς ἁρπαγῆς, τὸν ἦγον Κροίσῳ κτλ.
[ back ] 62. Kiechle 1959:33.
[ back ] 63. Huxley 1962:74; Jeffery 1976:120; Cartledge 1982:259.
[ back ] 64. Cartledge 1982 (p. 255 for the date in question).
[ back ] 65. The phrase is Cartledge’s: “this is just the sort of anecdote that would tend to become attached to a chronologically fluid wonder-worker like Lycurgus” (Cartledge 1982:252).
[ back ] 66. See n44 above.
[ back ] 67. The cult of the Neleids in Metapontum, if this is where the Pylians on the bay of Navarino went after the Second Messenian War, is a sure sign that these Pylians continued to regard themselves as descendants of Neleus and Nestor; cf. n46 above.
[ back ] 68. Later the Peisistratids claimed credit for bringing the poems to Athens (“Plato” Hipparchus 228B: [Ἵππαρχος] τὰ Ὁμήρου ἔπη πρῶτος ἐκόμισεν εἰς τὴν γῆν ταυτηνί), but the claim is not credible. Familiarity with the Homeric poems in Athens predates Solon at least (cf. Henderson 1982 and Anhalt 1993:73).
[ back ] 69. I have borrowed the image from George Forrest: “the world of propaganda is a topsy-turvy world… Greeks rarely denied an opponent’s story – they preferred to take it over and stand it on its head” (Forrest 1982:315).
[ back ] 70. The fact that the inserted passage borrows a line from the Hesiodic catalogues is, I think, a further indication of this passage’s Athenian origin; cf. M. L. West 1985:125–171, who argues that the Hesiodic catalogues were composed in sixth-century Athens. [ back ]