Chapter 10. The Embassy, Χόλος, and the Iliad’s Genre

Iota sings the Embassy
And brave Achilles’ stern reply.
{186|187} With the epigraph from Chapman’s translation of Iliad 9, I mean to turn our focus to the nature of Achilles’ reply, what Chapman calls its sternness. This translator of the Iliad sees quite clearly the importance of Iliad 9: Achilles’ reply is unyielding. But there seems to be an expectation of just the opposite—both form and feeling present us with a situation where Achilles just might yield. What does Achilles do by refusing the embassy?
The Achaeans have sent emissaries in the persons of Odysseus, Ajax, and Phoenix to persuade Achilles to relent from his anger. This occasion has caused students of Homeric artistry to take pause and note this turning point in the plot of the poem. [1] My concern with khólos leads me to steer the discussion toward Calchas’s definition. If khólos occurs prominently in the embassy scene, where the goal of the embassy is that Agamemnon reward Achilles and that, reciprocally, Achilles will return, is the meaning of khólos relevant to the goal of the envoys to Achilles’ tent? What kind of anger is it that the Greek emissaries think they are trying to assuage? After all, it certainly is not kótos—this word never shows up in Book 9, and we have seen in Part I the clearly demarcated boundaries within which the anger of feud functions in the Iliad. To what extent do the specific qualities of mênis apply to the goal of the ambassadors? After all, there are only two cases of mênis and related forms in the entire book. [2] If Muellner is right that mênis and philótēs are here being set beside each other, what has this to do with khólos? I will suggest that khólos presents a link between these two concepts.
{187|188} First, in Iliad 9 there are more examples of khólos than in any other book of the Iliad or the Odyssey. [3] Second, khólos plays a major role in the speeches of the three Achaeans sent to placate Achilles, Odysseus, Phoenix, and Ajax; third, the use of khólos in these speeches prepares the ground for some larger claims about khólos within the epic tradition. [4]
Of the 16 citations of khólos in Book 9, nine of them refer directly to Achilles’ anger. Five other individuals are named as having khólos, but except for Meleager, each only once. [5] Meleager, whose narrative is presented by Phoenix specifically to convince Achilles to abandon his khólos, has his anger identified as khólos 3 times.
Now, of the nine instances of Achilles’ khólos in Book 9, four refer to the possibility that Achilles will set aside his anger, and three of them present instances of the end-line formula metallḗksanti khóloio “if he has removed his anger” (Il. 9.157, Il. 9.261, Il. 9.299), one of many phrases that indicate the control that Achilles has over the continuation of his khólos. Indeed, the theme of the continuation of khólos is repeated at the end of the book when Achilles (in the first example) and then Odysseus (in the last two) assess Achilles’ final position at the end of the discussion:
9.646 ἀλλά μοι οἰδάνεται κραδίη χόλῳ [6]
9.675 ἦ ἀπέεειπε, χόλος δ’ ἔτ’ ἔχει μεγαλήτορα θυμόν [7]
9.678-79 κεῖνός γ’ οὐκ ἐθέλει σβέσσαι χόλον, ἀλλ’ ἔτι μᾶλλον
πιμπλάνεται μένεος [8]
As for the end of khólos, we have seen it to be a major theme of the Iliad, one that Calchas’s definition prompts us to expect. But this is the first time we have seen both the end of khólos and its continuation presented in such a concentrated fashion within one short segment of the poem.
The themes of setting aside one’s anger, [9] and of the degrees of khólos [10] —that it can be modulated, increased, or decreased—are familiar topics that appear here to refer directly to the anger of Achilles within the context of the ambassador’s speeches, [11] beginning with Agamemnon’s establishment of the entourage and his catalogue of gifts (Il. 9.157) and concluding with Odysseus’ description of what went on in the dim light of Achilles’ tent. Thus, a way to display the use of khólos in Iliad 9 is to focus on the mission itself, by looking at khólos in the context of each of the speeches in order to draw conclusions in the light of what we have seen in the preceding chapters.

The Speech of Odysseus

The central purpose of Odysseus’s speech is to present Agamemnon’s offer, but he does so only after a lengthy introduction, in which he tries to capture {188|189} Achilles’ good will by describing the plight of the Achaeans (Il. 9.229-48), followed by a recollection of Peleus’s advice to his son, which culminates in the recommendation that philophrosúnē (“regard for others”) be valued more than anger. Through the end of this section, Odysseus is putting Agamemnon’s offer in what he hopes is its strongest light, since the gifts that are being offered are presented as a supplement to the desperate plight of the Achaeans; it is their trouble that Odysseus first hopes will catch Achilles’ ear, especially if placed in the mouth of his father. In the next 6 lines, Odysseus concludes the quoted words of Peleus (Il. 9.257-58), dovetails his own comment on anger (Il. 9.259-60) and ends the prologue by quoting Agamemnon’s words exactly (Il. 9.255), with a concluding tag that introduces the catalogue of gifts (Il. 9.262-63):
“ληγέμεναι δ’ ἔριδος κακομηχαάνου, ὄφρα σε μᾶλλον
τίωσ’ Ἀργείων ἠμὲν νέοι ἠδὲ γέροντες.”
ὣς ἐπέτελλ’ ὁ γέρων, σὺ δέ λήθεαι. ἀλλ’ ἔτι καὶ νῦν
παύε’, ἔα δὲ χόλον θυμαλγέα· σοὶ δ’ Ἀγαμέμνων
ἄξια δῶρα δίδωσι μεταλλήξαντι χόλοιο.
εἰ δὲ σὺ μέν μευ ἄκουσον, ἐγὼ δέ κέ τοι καταλέξω
ὅσσα τοι ἐν κλισίῃσιν ὑπέσχετο δῶρ’ Ἀγαμέμνων·
(Il. 9.257-63)
“And stop your éris that fabricates ill, in order that the young and old of the Argives can honor you.” Thus the old man enjoined, but you have forgotten. But still even now stop, leave off your khólos that is painful to the spirit; yours are the worthy gifts Agamemnon proffers, for your cessation from khólos. But come listen to me, and I will list for you as many things as he has promised in the huts.
The rhetoric here is carefully crafted, even though the particulars of Achilles’ case force this approach to fail. [12] For example, Odysseus introduces the notion of Achilles’ anger by quoting Peleus and using the more neutral éris (Il. 9. 257), rather than leading with the khólos that is at the heart of the matter. [13] The honor (cf. tíōsi, Il. 9.258) that the Argives will bestow, based on their philophrosúnē (Il. 9.256, “thoughtfulness”), is parallel to the gift of the gods (kártos … dṓsousi, Il. 9.253-54, “They will give … strength”), mentioned at the beginning of this segment. Odysseus’s admonition thus dovetails and magnifies that of Peleus. That is to say, by the time Odysseus is ready to introduce the gifts of Agamemnon he has pictured Peleus’s approving reference to the gifts to the restraint of anger on the part of one who has philophrosúnē (“thoughtfulness”). And by the time Odysseus makes his central request—what the entire mission is about—in a striking stylistic maneuver (enjambed imperative, bold caesura, with a second imperative, paúe’, éa), the ground has been carefully prepared for the two first instances of khólos, in successive lines (Il. 9.260, 261).
Moreover, the phrase metallḗksanti khóloio (“after having put aside khólos”) at the end of Odysseus’s preamble is used also at the end of his {189|190} enumeration of Agamemnon’s gifts. In this way he frames the quoted section by using a from of khólos to closes his speech:
ταῦτά κέ τοι τελέσειε μεταλλήξαντι χόλοιο.
εἰ δέ τοι Ἀτρείδης μὲν ἀπήχθετο κηρόθι μᾶλλον
αὐτὸς καὶ τοῦ δῶρα, σὺ δ’ ἄλλους περ Παναχαιοὺς
τειρομένους ἐλέαιρε κατὰ στρατόν, …
(Il. 9.299-302)
These are the things he would accomplish for you, were you to set aside your khólos . But if the Atreid is hateful in your heart the more, himself and his gifts, you should pity the rest of the Panachaeans being bested along the camp…
The khólos phrase frames the enumeration of the gifts (Il. 9.261 and Il. 9.299), thereby signaling the beginning and end of the formal offer from Agamemnon. In addition, Odysseus adds terms of degree (all’ éti kaì nûn, Il. 9.259, “But still more even now” and kēróthi mâllon, Il. 9.300, “the more in his heart”), such as we have seen are important to the thematics of khólos. But the phrase metallḗksanti khóloio also marks an important moment in Odysseus’s presentation, one that Achilles soon picks up: Odysseus has conspicuously left out Agamemnon’s rhetorically disastrous coda to his offer. This omission on Odysseus’s part has been rightly emphasized in recent studies. [14] I add that khólos is the key word that marks where Odysseus has made his editorial cuts in Agamemnon’s speech. The positive impetus of the catalogue of gifts is dropped after Agamemnon realizes how intractable Achilles might turn out to be, even so as to launch into an aside about Achilles’ extreme behavior.
As far as Achilles’ anger is concerned, the important point to make is simply that it is within cultural norms and human expectations that his anger be relinquished. That the anger is khólos makes this possible and the terms of Agamemnon’s offer address that possibility. Odysseus, the canny orator, notices immediately that the last words after his formal offer show Agamemnon magnifying his superiority (Il. 9.160) and pointing to the world of the gods where Hades alone is implacable (Il. 9.158); Odysseus, we can assume, suspects that the speech is rhetorically inept: not only does Agamemnon remind Achilles of his divine status, but he also demotes him to a king of the underworld. Instead of repeating this disastrous segment of Agamemnon’s speech, Odysseus avoids it by using the frame metallḗksanti khóloio to bring closure to the catalogue of gifts. This puts khólos within Achilles’ reach as an object that he can and should handle. The kind of khólos that comes from unfair dealings, culturally unacceptable practices that bring rewards to the underhanded can, on Odysseus’s (and Agamemnon’s) terms, be set aside. The final strategy of Odysseus’s speech turns away from khólos and emphasizes grief (apḗkhtheto, Il. 9.300 [15] ) and pity (eléaire, Il. 9.302).
{190|191} In sum, Odysseus uses khólos three times in his speech, twice repeating Agamemnon’s own words, with the result that his rhetorical inventiveness is marked with the khólos phrase. Thus, he comes to emphasize the need to withdraw from anger by putting the directly quoted khólos phrase at the beginning and end of Agamemnon’s offer, clearly using it to structure parts of the speech. In fact, the repeated phrase (metallḗksanti khóloio “after having put aside khólos”) sets in the foreground the quality that he wishes to emphasize about khólos: that it is malleable. In a sense, Odysseus has taken Agamemnon’s offer [16] and modified it so as to convince even an Achilles: Odysseus has invoked Achilles’ father, the solidarity of the Achaean group, and finally, the valor of Achilles before the onslaught of Hector. [17]

The Speech of Phoenix

Anger is a central topic of Phoenix’s speech, [18] when Phoenix begins the story of Meleager, a narrative within the genre of kléa andrôn “fames of men.” The anger of Meleager is identified as khólos. In the passage quoted below, the prologue to the tale, Phoenix cedes to Achilles that there is no offence in having khólos until an offer from the offending party has been put on the table. That condition has now been met. But, he goes on to say, there are hero tales where the hero’s khólos can be shown to overstep its bounds. [19]
The thematic link between the story of Achilles and that of Meleager is khólos, as can be seen from the proem to the song of Meleager:
πρὶν δ’ οὔ τι νεμεσσητὸν κεχολῶσθαι.
οὕτω καὶ τῶν πρόσθεν ἐπευθόμεθα κλέα ἀνδρῶν
ἡρώων, ὅτε κέν τιν’ ἐπιζάφελος χόλος ἵκοι·
(Il. 9.523-25)
Before then there is no offense taken at khólos. Thus even among our ancestors have we heard of the fames [ kléa ] of heroic men, whenever excessive khólos reached them.
Thus Phoenix’s tactic differs from that of Odysseus, who had gingerly introduced khólos as a transition from the quoted speech of Peleus (see above) to the catalogue of gifts. But even there the emphasis on the term was unmistakable when Odysseus repeated it twice in as many lines (Il. 9.260, Il. 9.261) as Phoenix here does within three lines. [20] So, too, when the narrative shifts from the story of the Kouretes and the Aitolians to Meleager’s anger at his mother, khólos shows up three times (Il. 9.553, Il. 9.565, Il. 9.566).
Phoenix has introduced a parallel to Achilles’ case that involves the withdrawal of the hero with his companion, the refusal to fight being part of that {191|192} withdrawal. What I have to add to this often cited point, is that there is a technical term in the Homeric singers’ vocabulary for the anger that accompanies that kind of action: that term is khólos. Put most strongly, what I am suggesting is that Phoenix is not only telling Achilles one of the kléa andrôn of those who have lived before, but that he also is telling a specific kind of song, to be identified with the term khólos. This word, khólos, is the technical term in the oral poet’s vocabulary for the story of the withdrawn hero, who refuses to fight, seeks refuge with a companion, and returns only too late.
With this suggestion in mind and with a view to supporting this claim in the course of the rest of this chapter, I propose to continue with Phoenix’s use of khólos in this speech. Phoenix has already given us some indication that khólos would play a major role in his task as envoy. He began, first, by responding to Achilles’ rejection of Agamemnon’s offer in these words:
εἰ μὲν δὴ νόστον γε μετὰ φρεσί, φαίδιμ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ,
βάλλεαι, οὐδέ τι πάμπαν ἀμύνειν νηυσὶ θοῇσι
πῦρ ἐθέλεις ἀḯδηλον, ἐπεὶ χόλος ἔμπεσε θυμῷ
(Il. 9.434-36)
If it is a return that you consider in your mind, glorious Achilles, and if you are unwilling at all to defend the swift ships against the ravaging fire, because khólos has fallen into your heart
Remembering that Achilles has just mentioned his own mênis (Il. 9.426), [21] note that, after a pause to collect his thoughts (Il. 9.432), Phoenix responds in a manner that alludes to the first word of the Iliad together with a reference to the genre of the Odyssey, through the word nóstos (“return”). [22] Perhaps it is Achilles’ reference to mênis that sets the stage for the tight concentration on anger and return in Phoenix’s speech. Certainly nóstos is the first word out of Phoenix’s mouth after the awkward silence that accompanied Achilles’ rebuff of Odysseus. Phoenix may be putting Achilles in the wrong epic, especially after the speech of the most famous nóstos hero of them all. [23] Here we find a significant collocation of a key word for Homeric epic (nóstos) with khólos, a word that Phoenix turns to again and again throughout his speech. [24] Thus, Phoenix begins his presentation by juxtaposing the two generic terms for Homeric epic, nóstos and khólos, a point that will become even more important as the negotiations in Achilles’ tent moves forward.
Phoenix positions khólos at pivotal moments in his speech to Achilles. For example, by juxtaposing it to nóstos, he shines the spotlight first of all on the khólos of Achilles, where Odysseus had gingerly mentioned it in the course of giving structure to his catalogue of gifts. In the first exemplum of Phoenix’s speech, his autobiography, [25] in a passage that otherwise poses textual problems of some magnitude, [26] Phoenix uses the word khólos to indicate the anger that a god forces him to suppress so that he not be damned by his social group: {192|193}
τὸν μὲν ἐγὼ βούλευσα κατακτάμεν ὀξέι χαλκῷ
ἀλλά τις ἀθανάτων παῦσεν χόλον, ὅς ῥ’ ἐνὶ θυμῷ
δήμου θῆκε φάτιν καὶ ὀνείδεα πόλλ’ ἀνθρώπων,
ὡς μὴ πατροφόνος μετ’ Ἀχαιοῖσιν καλεοίμην.
(Il. 9.458-61)
I wished to slay him with the sharp bronze, but one of the immortals put a stop to [my] anger, who brought to my attention the report of the polity and the many reproaches of men, so that I not be called a parricide among the Achaeans.
The parallel to Odysseus’s paúe ’, éa dè khólon should not be missed, nor should the parallel to Iliad 1. [27] Of the numerous parallels between Phoenix’s autobiographical anecdote and the details of the quarrel in Iliad 1, one feature stands out, namely, the use of khólos. It is precisely in the context of this kind of anger that Phoenix is trying to identify with Achilles, since they both had khólos at older authority figures and both had to be restrained by a divinity.

The Meleager Story and Khólos

In the tale of Meleager, khólos is used with its full force. Six of Phoenix’s 7 uses of khólos are in that story (beginning at Il. 9.525), with all but one (Il. 9.538) referring to Meleager. The sequence begins with Phoenix’s announcement that he is about to tell one of the kléa andrôn (Il. 9.524), further specified as belonging to the class that shows hóte kén tin/ /epizáphelos khólos híkoi (Il. 9.525) “whenever raging anger comes on one.” That anger itself is thematic for Phoenix’s tale has long been recognized and does not need to be argued here, nor am I interested in establishing the existence of a “Zorn des Meleagros” and its relation to a “Zorn des Achilleus.” [28] More important for us is to ask whether khólos has a special status in such examples of early epic.
Here khólos functions as does mênis at Il. 1.1 and ándra at Od. 1.1. [29] A number of features highlight the analogy that I am making here. For example, after the initial mention of khólos (Il. 9.525), Phoenix begins the narrative by filling in the background to the khólos of Meleager. After pointing to the mênis of Achilles, the narrative begins by backing up and telling us about the anger of Apollo, specified in the phrase hò gàr basilêi kholōtheís, Il. 1.9, “for he had become angry with the king.” It is not until the anger of Apollo is engaged that the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon comes into play, with khólos playing a crucial role. So, too, in the tale of Meleager, once the khólos of the hero of the past is invoked, Phoenix steps back to narrate the khólos of a god, here not Apollo, but that other offspring of Leto, Artemis:
καὶ γὰρ τοῖσι κακὸν χρυσόθρονος Ἄρτεμις ὦρσε,
χωσαμένη ὅ οἱ οὔ τι θαλύσια γουνῷ ἀλωῆς {193|194}
Οἰνεὺς ἔρξ ’· …
ἣ δὲ χολώσαμένη δῖον γένος ἰοχέαιρα
ὦρσεν ἔπι, χλούνην σῦν ἄγριον ἀργιόδοντα
(Il. 9.533-35; 538-39)
Now golden throned Artemis had roused an evil among them, out of her anger, that Oineus had not at all given the first fruits in the garden’s knoll … And, she, because of khólos , the godborn archer-goddess, sent it forth, a shaggy boar, wild, sharp-tusked.
The wrath of Artemis presents a parallel to the wrath of the hero, which is held in abeyance until Phoenix says
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ Μελέαγρον ἔδυ χόλος, ὅς τε καὶ ἄλλων
οἰδάνει ἐν στήθεσσι νόον πύκα περ φρονέοντων,
ἤ τοι ὃ μητρὶ φίλῃ Ἀλθαίῃ χωόμενος κῆρ
κεῖτο παρὰ μνηστῇ ἀλόχῳ, καλῇ Κλεοπάτρῃ,
τῇ ὅ γε παρκατέλεκτο χόλον θυμαλγέα πέσσων,
ἐξ ἀρέων μητρὸς κεχολωμένος
(Il. 9.553-56; 565-66)
But when khólos entered Meleager, since it causes to swell in their bodies the minds even of the very prudent, in as much as he was angry in his heart at his own dear mother, Althaea, he lay beside his wedded wife, fair Cleopatra … Next to her he lay digesting his heartpaining khólos , with khólos over the curses of his mother.
The temporal mark of a proem’s style (hôte dḗ) and the reintroduction of the term khólos, leads to a relative clause, in much the same way as mênis is succeeded by hḗ murí’ Akhaioîs álege’ éthēke, “which sent countless woes on the Achaeans,” (Il. 1.2), [30] or ándra by hós mála pollà … /plángkhthē “who wandered much,” Od. 1.1-2. [31]
The last example of khólos in Phoenix’s exemplum shows again how words lead to wrath. Here the speech act that provokes khólos consists of the curses of Meleager’s mother: eks aréōn mētròs kekholōménos (Il. 9.566) “in a state of anger because of the curses of his mother.” This pulls the story of Meleager directly into line with the first part of the Iliad, where the great wrath has its inception in a verbal altercation with an older man.
In sum, Phoenix presents khólos in two lights, the first by which he shows the god stopping his own khólos before he killed his father, the second by which khólos appears to be part of the epic tales known as the kléa andrôn; in these cases the khólos arises from a neîkos, with the quarrel leading to an anger that causes the hero to withdraw. But at this point we might ask to examine that other kind of khólos, the one that responds to the death of a phílos. {194|195}

The Speech of Ajax

In none of the speeches of Iliad 9 is khólos more directly considered than in the last speech, that of Ajax. In contrast to what Ajax will say, Phoenix presents a vision of catastrophe resulting from Achilles’ loss of timḗ, if Achilles’ story turns out to be parallel to that of Meleager; and Odysseus’s initial vision of catastrophe had centered on the disaster to Achaean interests, if Achilles refused to accept the gifts of Agamemnon. But now Ajax has something different to say on the subject of anger. Ajax, who will not speak to Odysseus in the Odyssey’s nekuia (Od. 11.543-64), here addresses Odysseus but pointedly not Achilles. Instead he first meets Achilles with silence. [32] At the beginning of this speech (Il. 9.624-36), Ajax suggests to Odysseus that Achilles’ intractability threatens the mission. [33] During this introductory blast at Achilles, Ajax refers to one context where a hero can have a potent reaction and yet restrain his desire to act: the death of a philos:
σχέτλιος, οὐδὲ μετατρέπεται φιλότητος ἑταίρων
τῆς ᾗ μιν παρὰ νηυσὶν ἐτίομεν ἔξοχον ἄλλων,
νηλής· καὶ μέν τίς τε κασιγνήτοιο φονοῖο
ποινὴν ἢ οὗ παιδὸς ἐδέξατο τεθνηῶτος·
καί ῥ’ ὃ μὲν ἐν δήμῳ μένει αὐτοῦ πόλλ’ ἀποτίσας,
τοῦ δέ τ’ ἐρητύεται κραδίη καὶ θυμὸς ἀγήνωρ
ποινὴν δεξαμένῳ· σοὶ δ’ ἄλληκτόν τε κακόν τε
θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι θεοὶ θέσαν εἵνεκα κούρης
(Il. 9.630-38)
Wretch, he does not even turn to consider the philótēs (“friendship”) of his companions, through which we honor him beyond all others, pitiless one: Yes anyone would receive recompense for the murder of a brother or even for his dead son; that man, on the one hand, continues on in his land, having paid a great deal, and his heart and manly spirit is restrained, with the receipt of the payment. But, for you, on the other hand, the gods have made the heart in your chest unassuageable and bad, for the sake of only a girl.
Ajax engages themes of khólos when he charges that even the murder of a phílos can be put into the perspective given by the institution of poinḗ, so that the heart can be restrained. Although he does not use the word khólos, we saw at the beginning of Part II that Helen’s phármakon ákholon (“drug that stills anger”) had as its case a fortiori the death of precisely these two members (among others) of one’s phíloi:
οὐδ’ εἴ οἱ κατατεθναίη μήτηρ τε πατήρ τε,
οὐδ’ εἴ οἱ προπάροιθεν ἀδελφεὸν ἢ φίλον υἱὸν
χαλκῇ δηιόῳεν, ὁ δ’ ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρῷτο.
(Od. 4.224-26) {195|196}
Not even if his mother should die or his father, nor if openly with bronze they slay his brother or beloved son, and he see it with his own eyes.
In this passage, the first line (Od. 4.224) is Odyssean and the second (Od. 4.225) is Iliadic, because the second presents a war situation and the first (at least potentially) a domestic one. [34] But Helen’s drug is meant to still the khólos that arises from all such occasions. In Ajax’s speech, the verbs of restraint are ones we have seen before apply to khólos-like situations: erētúetai (cf. Il. 1.192) and allēkton, the latter having a prominent place in Iliad 9 through the form metallḗksanti (Il. 9.260, 261). So that even though Ajax fails to mention khólos, we know that he must be indirectly referring to it. The other speakers have referred directly to it and Ajax, being careful not to speak at first directly to Achilles, is also careful to avoid mentioning the main problem, the khólos of Achilles. Perhaps as a warrior, second only to Achilles, the term for a warrior’s wrath must or might as well go unsaid.
But Achilles sees what the speaker has avoided mentioning. [35]
Αἶαν διογενὲς Τελαμώνιε, κοίρανε λαῶν,
πάντα τί μοι κατὰ θυμὸν ἐείσαο μυθήσασθαι·
ἀλλά μοι οἰδάνεται κραδίη χόλῳ, ὁππότε κείνων
μνήσομαι, ὥς μ᾽ ἀσύφηλον ἐν Ἀργείοισιν ἔρεξεν
Ἀτρεḯδης, ὡς εἴ τιν’ ἀτίμητον μετανάστην.
(Il. 9.644-48)
Ajax god-descended son of Telamon, leader of men, you seem completely to have spoken something according to my spirit. But the heart swells on me with khólos , whenever I remember those things, how he harshly treated me among the Argives, Agamemnon did, as if I where someone without honor, an outcast.
Ajax’s suppression of the word khólos is met by Achilles with a metaphor (oidánetai, Il. 9.646) that calls to mind this kind of anger’s association with the body, such as we saw originally in Calchas’s definition and exactly such as Achilles heard in Phoenix’s exemplum. [36] At the beginning of Achilles’ response to Ajax, he acknowledges his predisposition to accept his word (Il. 9.645). Achilles wishes to identify the khólos he has with his loss of timḗ “honor,” (Il. 9.648 atímēton “without timḗ”’), common enough ground for the two preeminent warriors of the Achaeans. In fact, this same kind of khólos over the loss of honor will consume Ajax, after that other ambassador, Odysseus, wins the arms of Achilles. [37] But beyond Achilles’ range of view at this moment is that other kind of khólos, the kind derived from the death of a phílos that will impel Achilles toward the climax of the narrative. It turns out that “brave Achilles’ stern reply,” as Chapman formulated it, is deeply traditional, part of the epic of a khólos hero. I will argue in the next section that there are special features of this kind of anger that give it this exalted place in Homer’s epic. There are strong indications in the Iliad that khólos is a genre term, one for the withdrawn hero’s unhappy wrath. {196|197}

The Genre of the Iliad: “Paris, You’re No Achilles”

Thus far we have seen the prominent role played by khólos in a crucial moment of the Iliad's narrative in Iliad 9. It seems to me that the use of khólos in the context of the kléa andrôn points to a term important for the literary history of early epic. This assertion can be supported from the evidence provided by an old crux in Homeric studies.
The role of khólos in the speeches of Iliad 9, sheds light on a passage that has been troublesome since antiquity. In Il. 6.326 Hector uses khólos in a way that seems distinctly inappropriate. Hector reproaches Paris on Hector’s return to Troy in Book 6. The basis of the reproach is a certain khólos. Paris seems in fact to be angry at no one. What could motivate Hector to call Paris’s emotional state khólos?
Since Aristarchus, this passage has been singled out as controversial, because there seems to be no reason for Hector to refer to any anger at all on Paris’s part. [38] The scholarly debate hinges on the motive for Paris’s khólos. Some feel comfortable with a putative khólos of Paris against Trojans. [39] Others find this problematic, since Hector has no basis on which to style Paris “angry” as he approaches him in the midst of dallying with Helen. Is the khólos of Paris explained by his denial that he experiences it and that he has ákhos instead? [40] Paris may be angry at the Trojans for their criticism of him after his rescue by Aphrodite in Book 3.
Why does Hector refer to Paris’s khólos? Who died and made Paris angry? This passage has frustrated readers, inclined as those readers are to looking for a specific cause for Paris’s anger. In light of a “wrath of Paris,” parallels emerge: Hector and Paris, on the one hand, and Achilles and Meleager, on the other. From a neoanalytic point of view, this might indicate that another earlier epic has been refashioned to fit the Iliad’s narrative:
Paris and Helen are of course presented as acting the parts of Meleager and Cleopatra, though only for a while. Just for this reason, too, Paris is to some extent surrounded by an aura of bravery. As happens with the heroes, Meleager and Achilles, an embassy seems to come to him too for appeasement, so to speak.
(Kakridis 1949, 49)
Such a position can be set beside the analytic view that an older epic with Paris angered for some explicit reason is being mined by a redactor who has not bothered to give the Iliad’s audience an insight into what motivates Paris’s khólos.
But the focus in the secondary literature on this passage is almost always on what khólos can mean to a reader of this passage, without a firm grasp of the use of the word from the point of view of the speaker in the narrative ensemble itself, that speaker being Paris’s brother, Hector. Irene de Jong’s application of the {197|198} narratological concept of “focalization” provides the tool needed to show khólos not from the viewpoint of an objective narrator, but rather through Hector’s perspective in this scene. [41] When Paris denies that he has khólos, he rejects Hector’s interpretation of what he sees as he encounters him with Helen. Thus, what matters here is the view of Hector—that Paris seems to have khólos. Adopting the idea that khólos in this scene is focalized through Hector, I ask what function this has for Iliad 6. What leads the narrative to show Hector thinking that khólos is applicable to Paris?
In order to answer that question, I point to the use of the negative phrase ou mèn kalá (Il. 6.326). Indeed, in interpreting Paris’s situation Hector bothers to style it as a remarkably bad instance of khólos. This question can be put into sharper focus by examining the hypothesis that khólos is the term for the genre of the Iliad, that khólos here refers specifically to the story of a withdrawn hero, the same narrative type as the story of Achilles or of Meleager. Hector is not referring to an event, wherein a particular warrior has withdrawn from a particular battle, but to a story about such an event.
In this manner, Hector is deploying a theme familiar to the tradition; what seems anomalous to an audience outside the Homeric context might not only be understandable, but it may also be conveying a meaning that we would be wise to understand. First, the hero withdraws over some dispute with a superior. Second, in his withdrawal, he is accompanied by his closest companion. Third, he is petitioned by his friends, in Kakridis’s terms, in an ascending scale of affection, so that the last petitioner wins him over but too late for him to get the benefit of his return to his network of social relations. [42]
Now Phoenix’s speech in the embassy depends on understanding that scenario. But in the scene between Paris and Hector, it is Hector’s viewpoint and his alone that draws the analogy to Meleager and Achilles, a point of view that Paris strongly comes to deny in his response to Hector (Il. 6.333-41). So I suggest that Hector’s use of khólos here is accurate and does not refer, as some scholars contend, to an anger of Paris outside the Iliad, nor to any putative remarks made by unnamed Trojans after the duel in Book 3. Furthermore, Hector uses khólos here as a criticism of Paris’s behavior. Indeed, the term khólos pinpoints the inappropriateness of putting Paris in the same league with Achilles and Meleager.
Here is a list of the features of this scene and its narration that are relevant to khólos:
1. Hector finds Paris in this situation:
a. He is in his quarters.
b. He is a soldier not at war.
c. He is with one near and dear.
d. He is being approached by a close relation.
e. He is being asked to return to the fight. [43] {198|199}
2. These five items (1.a-e) point to the notion of khólos as it describes the situation of Meleager and Cleopatra, and Achilles and Patroclus.
3. What Hector says about Paris’s situation is that it is ou kalá (Il. 6.326) “not good.”
4. The word kalós can refer to the competent formation of an utterance or song.
Now both Kakridis and Willcock have argued that something of this nature is going on here. [44] But if khólos is the term for the genre to which the Iliad belongs, as does the story of Meleager, and if it is as such available for Hector’s rebuke that Paris is a poor excuse for a khólos hero, something looms larger than the anger of Paris.
It is possible to add to our picture of early hexameter genre names beyond the term we are lucky enough to have cited in Homer, namely, nóstos. This term is available to us hanks to passages such as this:
τοῖσι δ’ ἀοιδὸς ἄειδε περικλυτὸς, οἳ δὲ σιωπῇ
ἥατ’ ἀκούοντες· ὃ δ’ Ἀχαιῶν νόστον ἄειδε,
λύγρον, ὃν ἐκ Τροίης ἐπετείλατο Παλλἀς Ἀθήνη.
(Od. 1.325-27)
And the renowned singer began to sing for them, and they sat in silence listening; and he sang the Achaeans’ Return, the sad one out of Troy as enjoined by Pallas Athena.
Homeric narrative identifies for us a traditional genre by calling it nóstos, and the term survives into the later tradition to be identified by Proclus with a distinct part of the epic cycle. Thus, the traditional singers called one kind of poem a nóstos, of which we have one complete performance in the Odyssey. [45]
Now for ancient Greece, we have insufficient information about the rest of the “taxonomy of oral tradition” [46] to verify the likelihood of khólos as such a term. But a comparative literature of early cultures might suggest that a variety of terms in such taxonomies proves useful to the practitioners of verbal art. Consider, for example, the culture of medieval Ireland. As Proinsias MacCana has elucidated in The Learned Tales of Medieval Ireland (1980), the tale-types found in Ireland are “obviously the continuation of an ancient Celtic inheritance.” [47] The rich Irish taxonomy includes terms derived from verbs (táin, verbal noun of do-aig “drives off, drives away”; im(m)ram “sea-voyage”, verbal noun of imm-rá “rows around, navigates”) as well as from nouns (slógad/ slúagad “a hosting, a military expedition” from slóg / slúag “host, army”). As a deverbative, nóstos, when used to signify a genre of literary production, is structurally parallel to the terms derived from verbs in Irish. [48] If khólos is another term for a kind of narrative, it resembles (in its application to a type of narrative) more the Irish denominative terms than the deverbative ones.
{199|200} The term khólos, I suggest, is a likely candidate for a poetic technical term. [49] Proof that it is can only be had by the discovery of a list of such terms. But through the process of internal poetic reconstruction we can build the argument in a different way. Through comparative evidence it can be inferred that oral poets may indicate subgroupings of their repertoire through terms having something to do with the actions recounted in their narratives. There is one clear instance of such a term in the Greek tradition, the one that applies to the Odyssey. In this study of khólos, beginning with Calchas’s definition, there emerges another term, the one that is used for the composition that explores the anger of three Homeric heroes: Achilles, Meleager, and, briefly, Paris. In Il. 6.326, khólos refers not to an emotion but to a narrative speech act, an element of discourse that Hector is evaluating as formally flawed (ou kalá). [50]
There are other indications in these lines that support the notion of Hector criticizing a narrative speech act and not an action when he critiques Paris’s khólos as being ou kalá (“not good”) (Il. 6.326). First, kalá used as part of a negative adverbial predicate shows sharp criticism. [51] Thus, when Zeus sends Iris to prevent Hera and Athena from entering the war to support the Greeks contrary to his boulḗ, he declares that for all these gods to fight would be bad: ou gàr kalà sunoisómetha ptólemónde (Il. 8.400), “For it will be unseemly for us to prosecute such a war.” So too Antinoos predicts and evaluates the beggar Odysseus’s ultimate withdrawal from Ithaca: nûn dḗ s’ oukéti kalà dièk megároió g’ oíō / àps anakhōrḗsein (Od. 17.460-61), “Surely now I no longer think that you will make a clean departure from the hall, in making your retreat.” Just as Hector rebuked Paris, Ajax rouses the Achaeans to battle by means of a strong rebuke of their reluctance to enter the fray: humeîs d’ oukéti kalà methíete thoúridos alkês (Il. 13.116), “But in no seemly fashion are you any longer holding back from brave valor.” Thus the phrase ou … kalá is traditional in a context rebuking those who hold back from battle.
Moreover, in two significant passages discourse is evaluated as to whether it is kalón or not. In one, Eumaeus criticizes Antinoos’ speech concerning the propriety of feeding beggars by saying that he speaks ou kalá: Antíno’, ou mèn kalà … agoreúeis (Od. 17.381), “Antinoos … you make speech that is not fair.” In another passage, in a manner quite close to Hector’s rebuke, Priam praises the “death tale” of his son as told by Hermes (Il. 24.388) disguised as the therápōn of Achilles: hōs moi kalà tòn oîton apótmou paidòs énispes (Il. 24.388) “since you have spoken so well about the death of my ill-fated son.” This line provides support for the argument that kalós and related forms can be used to evaluate speech acts as well- or ill-formed. Priam’s speech also gives a parallel to Hector’s use of tónde in Iliad 6. These two lines are especially revealing when set next to each other:
ὥς μοι καλὰ τὸν οἶτον ἀπότμου παιδὸς ἔνισπες.
(Il. 24.388) {200|201}
How well you have told that violent death of my ill-destined son.
δαιμόνι’, οὐ μὲν καλὰ χόλον τόνδ’ ἔνθεο θυμῷ.
(Il. 6.326)
My, how ill-considered is this khólos of yours.
In each line, kalá is an adverbial term that evaluates an epic subgenre, in the one case identified as oîton and in the other as khólon. In the first passage, oîton, does not refer to Hector’s death as a fact, but rather to the account (énispes, “you have told,” Il. 24.388) of Hector’s demise as presented just now by Hermes, in effect a performance of the death of Hector. [52] Thus, Priam uses kalá to evaluate a particular performance within the tradition of epic. “How well you have presented a version of my unlucky son’s death” is a telling paraphrase of Priam’s words to Hermes. [53]
What Paris has projected or performed in the second passage from Iliad 6, is a version of an epic tale narrated visually by the tableau which Hector sees before him as he enters the room. Hence, khólon tónde does not refer to any putative “anger” on Paris’s part—there is no such anger in this scene. The reference, rather, is to the scene as a whole, as a kind of performance, told in this case from the point of view of Hector, a warrior returning from battle. One can imagine Hector with this tónde gesturing to Helen, the bed, the servants, even to Paris as he combs out his horse-hair helmet; then as Hector includes his own presence as a quasi-ambassador with a sweep of his hand, he says “A fine ‘khólos-epic’ you have here, my friend.” [54] In a sense, I conclude, Hector may be the earliest literary critic of early epic, since he points to the impropriety, given the circumstances of this performance, of a subgenre of the kléa andrôn (“songs of men”). Perhaps we can even see him as an early critic of ecphrases, taking the tableau before him and finding it wanting in verisimilitude.
In conclusion, khólos as used in Il. 6.326 and throughout Book 9 is the term that the tradition uses for its epic about Achilles. Just as performers and audiences had a traditional name for an epic genre that is the foundation for the narrative about Odysseus’s return home, namely, nóstos, so there is a name for the genre forming the basis of the poem about Achilles. That name is khólos. [55] {201|202}


[ back ] 1. The literature on Iliad 9 is immense, but my concern is to elucidate the aspect of this segment of the poem that helps with our understanding of Calchas’s definition. Thus, for our purposes Muellner’s work on mênis in Iliad 9 provides suitable background material. See also in the recent literature Nagy 1979, 49-58; Muellner 1996, 138-55; Nagler 1990; Scodel 1982; Rosner 1976.
[ back ] 2. Il. 9.426, Il. 9.517, the first instance in a speech by Achilles and the second in a speech by Phoenix.
[ back ] 3. There are 16 occurrences of khólos and related forms in Book 9, with 10 in Book 4, and 8 in Book 1; the Odyssey shows, as might be expected, the most examples in the gore-filled Book 22, but there are still only five examples, less than a third of that in Iliad 9.
[ back ] 4. The role of khólos in Book 9 as demonstrated in this chapter can be used as evidence to support the notion that book-length structures provided functional means for Homeric narrative artistry. That the book divisions of the Iliad respond to compositional practice remains a vital possibility. Cf. Nagy 1996, 161-62 n. 30, 181-84.
[ back ] 5. The examples are Agamemnon’s anger at Il. 9.33, an instance of potential anger over a speech (here of Diomedes); Phoenix’s anger at Il. 9.459 over his father’s treatment of his behavior; Artemis’s anger at being deprived of the first fruits at Il. 9.538; and there is one general allusion to the anger of heroes at Il. 9.523; all other references in Iliad 9 are either to Achilles or Meleager.
[ back ] 6. “But my heart continues to swell with khólos …”
[ back ] 7. “Thus he spoke, but khólos still continues to hold his great hearted spirit.”
[ back ] 8. “That one is unwilling to quench his khólos, but still the more is he filled with ménos.”
[ back ] 9. Usually showing forms of -paúō, or the like.
[ back ] 10. As expressed in such formulations as éti mâllon, líēn, and so forth.
[ back ] 11. The “exception” is Agamemnon’s direct reference to the relaxing of Achilles’ anger at line 157, but since this line is, in an important way, quoted by Odysseus at 261, in can be considered as within the speeches of the ambassadors.
[ back ] 12. See Muellner 1996, 142-43, for a critique of Odysseus’s presentation of the notion philótēs, since it is indeed philophrosúnē (256) that Odysseus opposes to the anger of Achilles.
[ back ] 13. On the association of éris and khólos, see Hogan 1981, 21 and 40-41 (“because success and fame are so highly valued, reason and propriety must vie with the khólos that accompanies éris”), the most telling example being Il. 18.107-8 (on which see the next chapter).
[ back ] 14. Mentioned in an important analysis by Whitman 1958, 192; see also Nagy 1979, 51-52, Muellner 1996, 143. I take this striking maneuver as part of the poetics of Homeric compositional practice. It is not obligatory for a messenger to deliver a message unmodified; see Iris’s modification of Zeus’s admonitions to Hera and Athena in Il. 8.423-24
[ back ] 15. Note the use of kēróthi mâllon here, an adonic clausula typically found with (e)kholṓsato). Is this a formulaic euphemism designed to move the rhetorical context away from khólos, as if matters were already settled?
[ back ] 16. Itself problematic; see Muellner 1996, 141-43.
[ back ] 17. The material extent of Agamemnon’s offer cannot be modified, only its frame. Thus the problem remains, despite Odysseus’s best effort, that Agamemnon is proffering an “emulous offer of gifts as an assertion of the giver’s prestige” (Muellner 1996, 141).
[ back ] 18. Rosner’s 12 instances (1976, 316, n. 10) need to be supplemented by the one instance of mênis, 517 (see above), 8 of these 13 being forms of khólos, with the other forms related to khṓomai. The relation of khólos to khṓomai will be explored in a separate study.
[ back ] 19. On khólos and némesis, see Il. 5.757-62, Od. 14.282-4, Il. 6.335, Il. 8.407 = 8.421; closely related to this passage are Od. 18.227 and Od. 22.59.
[ back ] 20. And Phoenix will then repeat khólos in successive lines at 565-66; each of these instances involve kinds of polyptoton, varying between nominal forms (at 260-61) or between verbal and nominal forms as here at 565-66.
[ back ] 21. On which see Muellner 1996, 193; and especially note in this context Muellner’s suggestion that Achilles’ mention of his own mênis (through a verbal derivative) directly implicates the beginning of our Iliad.
[ back ] 22. On the directness of Phoenix’s response see Rosner 1976, 315.
[ back ] 23. It should be remembered that Achilles in withdrawing threatens to give himself a nóstos.
[ back ] 24. See again Rosner 1976, 316 for the importance of khólos here, but I resist the notion that khólos and mênis are “synonyms,” in that mênis occurs in precisely delineated contexts, while khólos can be used as an unmarked term for anger.
[ back ] 25. The term is from Scodel 1982; see also Rosner 1976.
[ back ] 26. See West 1982, Scodel 1982; to my knowledge, van Thiel’s new edition is the first modern edition to promote 458-61 from the apparatus to the text proper.
[ back ] 27. Cf. Scodel 1982.
[ back ] 28. Cf. Schadewaldt on such issues at 1966, 139.
[ back ] 29. With Muellner (1976), I point out that Phoenix’s bold statement at Il. 9.517-18 (ouk àn égōgé se mênin aporrípsanta keloímēn / Argeíoisin amunémenai khatéousí per émpēs, Il. 9.517-18, “I would not bid you to set aside your mênis to defend the Argives, though they be in dire need”) presents a reference to Iliad 1.1. Thus the beginning of the Meleager tale is prepared for by a reference to the proem, the beginning of the Iliad; we can add here that the use of epizaphelôs khalepaínoi at Il. 9.516 in reference to Agamemnon’s anger (mitigated in Phoenix’s view by his offer of gifts) is in harmony with epizáphelos khólos at Il. 9.525. A function of the proem and its features is to call attention to thematic material through the use of keywords developed subsequently throughout the course of the overall composition. Cf. Kahane 1992 and Walsh 1995.
[ back ] 30. It is appropriate to see epizáphelos (Il. 9.525) as parallel to ouloménēn at Iliad 1.1, and to polútropon, at Odyssey 1.1, each being a 4-syllable word which is expanded by a relative clause as typically used in a proem. The separation between the first mention of khólos and the second in this regard may pose no problem whatsoever; alternatively, the separation between adjective and relative clause can be attributed to the nonprofessional style of this performance. In recounting the kléa andrôn to his friends (en d’ humîn eréō pántessi phíloisi, Il. 9.528) Phoenix is bound by different expectations of style than would be, say, Demodocus in the court of Alkinoos. On distinctions between singers of different social status, cf. Segal 1994, 142-63. Professional singers before their audiences can be expected to have different performance styles than non-professionals. Segal notes the difference between Achilles’ song in Iliad 9 and the songs of bards (Segal 1994, 153). These distinctions can be expanded: khólos as a theme can be used in mythic exempla as well as in full blown narratives, so that the theme emerges in differing modes, even while retaining its identity as theme.
[ back ] 31. Features typical of the traditional Homeric proem abound in this part of Phoenix’s narrative; besides the ones already noted, see also the anaphora póll’ / pollà at Il. 9.567 and Il. 9.568 corresponding to nearly identical (and often noted) anaphora, alliteration and polyptoton at the beginning of the Odyssey (pollôn /pollà, Od. 1.2, 3), and (apart from anaphora) the emphasis on quantity in the corresponding relative clause at the beginning of the Iliad (Il. 1.2-3, murí’ … /pollàs). All of this is in preparation for the sudden noise of the battle (Il. 9.573) drawing the attention of those in Achilles tent to the most important part of the narrative, namely, the besieged city seeking Meleager’s return.
[ back ] 32. On this feature of his speech and the importance of silence as a signifying element of traditional speech, see Martin 1989, 142-43.
[ back ] 33. See again Muellner 1996, 143-68.
[ back ] 34. The second also shows exclusively male deaths.
[ back ] 35. As he did in Odysseus’s speech, see Muellner 1996, 141-43.
[ back ] 36. Here the khólos that swells in his heart recalls Phoenix’s imagery of khólos at Il. 9.553-554, khólos hós … oidánei (“khólos that swells …”). Achilles took Phoenix’s exemplum to heart.
[ back ] 37. See above.
[ back ] 38. Heitsch 1967, 222; particularly insightful is L. Collins 1988, 27-39, with a thorough review of the literature to that time. And see Robert 1901, 196-98.
[ back ] 39. See for example Mawet 1979, 311, and for the relationship of ákhos to khólos, 308-313.
[ back ] 40. Il. 6.335-36; on ákhos and khólos see Mawet 1979, 308-13, Nagy 1979, 79-80.
[ back ] 41. de Jong 1987.
[ back ] 42. See Kakridis 1949, 18-24; cf. Nagy 1979, 104-5.
[ back ] 43. See again Kakridis 1949, 18-24, and cf. Willcock 1956-1957.
[ back ] 44. See Collins 1988.
[ back ] 45. On nóstos as genre see Nagy 1979, 97 n. 2, with Frame 1978 on the thematics of nóstos.
[ back ] 46. The phrase is MacCana’s (1980, 21).
[ back ] 47. MacCana 1980, 73.
[ back ] 48. See Frame 1978, 6-33 for the derivational history of nóstos.
[ back ] 49. Note that we moderns have easily come to call the Iliad “the wrath” of Achilles. See my Introduction.
[ back ] 50. On distancing anger terms from “emotion,” see Muellner 1996, 26, with reference to mênis. The complex relationship between emotion and cultural practice needs separate treatment. See my Introduction.
[ back ] 51. On kalós in Homer see Shipp 1978. Shipp’s examples from Iliad 6 (1978, 206-7) are consistent with my interpretation of kalós as referring to the competence of an item of discourse.
[ back ] 52. What has impressed Priam so strongly is the delicately worded praise of Hector’s value to the city of Troy (Il. 24.384-85).
[ back ] 53. In preparation is a study of oîtos as a potential generic term in early Greek poetry; an argument can be made for a connection with Old Irish aided (“death tale,” a tale type recorded in the lists studied by MacCana [1980]).
[ back ] 54. This is not the last time that khólos is evaluated: In 16, Patroclus rebukes the kind of khólos that Achilles manifests (Il. 16.30: mḕ emé g’ hoûtos ge láboi khólos “would that this khólos not take me”); later, imaginary Myrmidons similarly say, hōde kakòs khólos émpese thumôi, Il. 16.206, “This is an evil khólos that has fallen into your heart.” Earlier Agamemnon imagines certain Trojans minimizing his threat to them: aith’ hoútōs epì pâsi khólon telése’ Agamémnon, Il. 4.178, “I wish Agamemnon always this kind of success for his khólos.” Such self-consciousness about whether khólos is good or bad is reminiscent of the Odyssey’s concern with whether a nóstos is good or bad. In passing, I note that evaluating kótos in this way is out of the question.
[ back ] 55. For a suggestive collocation of khólos with nóstos see Od. 1.78.