Chapter 2. Greek

{21|23} §1.13 As an agent noun with the suffix -tōr Nestor’s name belongs to a class of Greek names that are particularly clear in meaning. The suffix -tor was inherited from Indo-European (compare Greek dṓtōr, Sanskrit dā́tar-, Latin dator, “giver”), but Greek is unusual in using this agent suffix to form names as well as common nouns. [27] Eighteen names in -tōr occur in Homer, and all but one contain the root of a Greek verb. [28] Four of these names are paralleled by Homeric common nouns: Amúntōr (amúntōr, “defender”), Kalḗtōr (kalḗtōr, “crier”), Mḗstōr (mḗstōr, “counselor”), Epístōr (epiístōr, “one who knows, knower”). [29] Others are paralleled by common nouns in later Greek. [30] {23|24}

§1.14 The meanings of the names in -tōr, being particularly clear, are sometimes evoked by the Homeric poets, and this, I will argue, is especially the case with Nestor’s name. But this is not obviously the case with Nestor’s name, and I wish to consider only the obvious cases for now. The names in question are Sténtōr, Théstōr (in the patronymic Thestorídēs), Héktōr, and Méntōr, of which the first two are relatively minor in significance for the poems, and the last two relatively important. Sténtōr is the name of the brazen-voiced hero whose likeness Hera assumes to shout to the Achaean army (Iliad 5.785); he appears nowhere else in the Iliad, and his name, from the verb sténō, “roar,” matches his one and only attribute. [31] Muted by comparison, but also apparently intentional, is the evocation of the meaning of Théstōr, “he who asks for in prayer,” in the patronymic Thestorídēs of the seer Calchas, whose calling is evidently responsible for his patronymic. [32] The name Héktōr, from the verb ékhō, “hold, protect,” is taken by the Homeric poets in the sense of “protector,” which is Hector’s role in relation to his city and people. [33] This meaning of his name is alluded to in Andromache’s lament for Hector, in which she foresees the destruction of her city now that her husband, who “protected” (ékhes) its women and children, is dead (Iliad 24.729–30):

ἦ γὰρ ὄλωλας ἐπίσκοπος, ὅς τέ μιν αὐτὴν
ῥύσκευ, ἔχες δ' ἀλόχους κεδνὰς καὶ νήπια τέκνα.

For indeed you, who were its guardian, have perished, you who kept
the city itself safe and protected its good wives and infant children. [34] {24|25}

§1.15 The name Méntōr, like the name Sténtōr, belongs to a figure whose likeness a god assumes. Mentor is the aged Ithacan in whose likeness Athena appears in the Odyssey on two occasions, first when she accompanies Telemachus to Pylos to meet Nestor, and again when she encourages Odysseus before the final battle with the suitors. [35] The Odyssey connects the name with the root *men- of the noun ménos, “spirit,” and the verb mémona, “be eager”; the Odyssey also suggests a connection with the enlarged form of the root (*mn-ā < *mn- 2) of the verb mimnḗskō, “remind” (aorist émnēsa)/mimnḗskomai, “remember” (perfect mémnēmai). [36] The name Méntōr contains the simple form of the root, and I therefore take it to mean “he who instills ménos,” “he who incites.” The intransitive perfect form with the simple root, mémona, “be eager,” implies a transitive present form *ménō, “make eager, incite,” on the pattern of such pairs as perfect diéphthora, “be ruined”/ present diaphtheírō, “destroy,” or perfect pépoitha, “be persuaded, put trust in”/ present peíthō, “persuade.” The verb *ménō, “make eager, incite,” has a virtual existence in the name Méntōr, and in the equivalent name, Méntēs. The latter name belongs to a Taphian trader in whose likeness Athena first appears to Telemachus before she appears to him as Mentor. The two names, Méntēs and Méntōr, which differ only in their use of different agent suffixes, focus attention on the root *men- in defining Athena’s role in relation to Telemachus. Athena’s purpose in visiting Telemachus is to stir him up, as she herself announces to the rest of the gods in Odyssey 1.88–89:

αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν Ἰθάκηνδε ἐλεύσομαι, ὄφρα οἱ υἱὸν
μᾶλλον ἐποτρύνω καί οἱ μένος ἐν φρεσὶ θείω.

But I will go to Ithaca so that I may stir up
his son the more and put incitement in his heart.

In this passage the verb epotrúnō, “stir up,” corresponds exactly to what the names Méntēs and Méntōr signify, and the phrase ménos en phresì theíō suggests the actual derivation of these two names. [37] After her appearance {25|26} as Mentes Athena flies off and the poet comments on the effect of her visit on Telemachus: she has accomplished her purpose, which was to put “spirit” (ménos) in his heart; at the same time she has also “reminded” (hupémnēsen) Telemachus of his father (Odyssey 1.319–322):

ἡ μὲν ἄρ' ὣς εἰποῦσ' ἀπέβη γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη,
ὄρνις δ' ὣς ἀνόπαια διέπτατο· τῷ δ' ἐνὶ θυμῷ
θῆκε μένος καὶ θάρσος, ὑπέμνησέν τέ ἑ πατρὸς
μᾶλλον ἔτ' ἢ τὸ πάροιθεν.

So speaking grey-eyed Athena departed,
and like a bird she flew away on high; into his heart
she put incitement and boldness, and she reminded him of his father
even more than before.

As Mentes Athena has not only incited Telemachus, but also reminded him of his father, and the two notions are closely linked in the passage above, such that the name Méntēs, “inciter,” is also felt to mean “reminder.” When the figure Mentor enters the story his name too evokes both notions, but the notion of “reminding” is emphasized. The aged figure Mentor appears in his own right just long enough to demonstrate this meaning of his name: in the assembly called by Telemachus, he reminds the Ithacans of Odysseus, their absent king, whom no one “remembers” (Odyssey 2.230–233):

μή τις ἔτι πρόφρων ἀγανὸς καὶ ἤπιος ἔστω
σκηπτοῦχος βασιλεύς, μηδὲ φρεσὶν αἴσιμα εἰδώς,
ἀλλ' αἰεὶ χαλεπός τ' εἴη καὶ αἴσυλα ῥέζοι,
ὡς οὔ τις μέμνηται Ὀδυσσῆος θείοιο. {26|27}

May no scepter-bearing king any longer
be truly gentle and kind, or mindful in his heart of what is due,
but may he always be harsh and do what is unjust,
since no one remembers godlike Odysseus.

When Athena assumes Mentor’s likeness and accompanies Telemachus to Pylos, she too acts to “remind” Telemachus of his father, for the very purpose of his journey is to learn about Odysseus. She first appears to Telemachus as Mentor shortly before they take ship together for Pylos, and she picks up where the real Mentor left off in the Ithacan assembly, by reminding Telemachus of his father. She does so with a variation of the ménos theme, reminding Telemachus of his father’s ménos, and suggesting that this very ménos has been instilled into Telemachus himself (Odyssey 2.270–272):

Τηλέμαχ', οὐδ' ὄπιθεν κακὸς ἔσσεαι οὐδ' ἀνοήμων·
εἰ δή τοι σοῦ πατρὸς ἐνέστακται μένος ἠΰ,
οἷος κεῖνος ἔην τελέσαι ἔργον τε ἔπος τε.

Telemachus, you won’t turn out to be cowardly or foolish
if indeed your father’s brave spirit has been bred into you,
such a man was he to carry out both deed and word.

In this passage the ideas of “inciting” and “reminding” are fused, and the word ménos is the passage’s focal point. In Pylos Telemachus is afraid to approach Nestor and address him since he has no experience in such speech-making; Athena, as Mentor, ironically tells him that he will think of some things himself, and that “a god” will suggest other things to him (Odyssey 3.26–28):

Τηλέμαχ', ἄλλα μὲν αὐτὸς ἐνὶ φρεσὶ σῇσι νοήσεις,
ἄλλα δὲ καὶ δαίμων ὑποθήσεται· οὐ γὰρ ὀΐω
οὔ σε θεῶν ἀέκητι γενέσθαι τε τραφέμεν τε.

Telemachus, some things you yourself will think of in your mind,
and other things a god will prompt; for I do not think
that you were born and raised against the gods’ will.

Here there is no form related to the name Méntōr, but the verb hupothḗsetai, “will put in mind,” seems to reflect Athena’s role with respect to Telemachus {27|28} in a more general way, for she herself is the “god” who is there at his side, disguised as Méntōr, to remind and incite him. [38]

§1.16 Like Sténtōr, Méntōr is an assumed name, chosen to describe a particular role, and its significance is ever present while that role continues. [39] The name Néstōr, by contrast, does not designate a role, but the entire identity of an epic hero, and its significance therefore cannot continuously be evoked. But the one Homeric episode in which the meaning of Nestor’s name does seem present throughout is the very episode in which Athena first disguises herself as Mentor. Telemachus visits Nestor to find out about his father’s nóstos, “return home,” and nóstos has the same verbal root as the name Néstōr. It is the root *nes- of the verb néomai, “return home,” and of the related noun nóstos. It is significant that it is Nestor who tells Telemachus the basic story of the Achaeans’ nóstos from Troy, for his name uniquely qualifies him to tell this story. [40] But Nestor’s name does not have the intransitive sense “he who returns” that would correspond to the meaning of the middle {28|29} verb néomai: the name Néstōr has a transitive sense, “he who brings back.” This makes his name significant for Odysseus in particular, about whom Telemachus has come to ask. Odysseus did not return home after the war, and Nestor, “he who brings home,” has more to do with this than he explicitly says. This is of course not communis opinio in the history of Homeric criticism, for the meaning of the name Nestor seems to have been forgotten completely in the post-Homeric period, and certainly for us today the name Nestor, in contrast to the names Mentor, Stentor, and even Hector, has no intrinsic meaning whatever. [41] Nevertheless I think that it can be shown that the name Néstōr had as clear a meaning for the Homeric poets as did the name Méntōr, and that it was no less important than the name Méntōr in the development of the story of the Odyssey. I will go even further and suggest that the choice of the name Méntōr for the disguised Athena in the journey of Telemachus to Pylos was in large part conditioned by the name Néstōr in the same episode.

§1.17 It is plain enough that the verbal root in the name Néstōr is *nes-, but the key point, that the name means “he who brings back” and not “he who returns,” was not suggested until relatively recently. As far as was known previously the Greek root *nes- had only the intransitive meaning “return” of the middle verb néomai and the related noun nóstos. The new evidence for an active, transitive meaning of the root has to do with Nestor’s father, Neleus, and the family that claimed descent from him, the Neleids of Miletus. The name of this family, Nēleîdai, is in fact ambiguous, for the family claimed descent not only from Nestor’s father, the founder of Pylos, but also from a second Neleus in the same line, the founder of Miletus. [42] This second Neleus was said to be a direct descendant of the first, and he must have been as important a figure to the Neleids as their earlier ancestor, for it was he, the founder of Miletus, who legitimated their rule in their own city. The name of this second founder, although it is given as Nēleús in most sources, was in fact not the same as the name of the first founder: Herodotus preserves the true form of his name, which was Neíleōs. [43] The two names appear to be dialectal {29|30} variants, Nēleús an Aeolic form, Neíleōs the Ionic form. [44] We would expect the rulers of Miletus to have used the Ionic form of their own name (Neileîdai), and thus to have called themselves descendants of their own city’s founder. But just as this founder’s name is leveled out in most of our sources, so too the distinction in the family’s name. [45]

§1.18 Unlike the form Nēleús, the form Neíleōs has a clear etymology. The second half of the name is Ionic leṓs, Homeric laós, “warfolk,” and the name is of the same type as e.g. Homeric Agé-laos (Ionic Agé-leōs), “he who leads the warfolk.” The first part of the name Agélaos is a transitive verb (Agé- from ágō, “lead”) [46] ; so too is the first part of the name Neíleōs: Nei- is to be reconstructed as *Nese-, from an active verb *néō, “bring back,” corresponding to the middle verb néomai, “return.” [47] Here, then, in the name Neíleōs, “he who leads the warfolk home,” is the root *nes- with an active meaning. This in effect was the Neleids’ name too, insofar as they were “descendants of Neíleōs.” Nestor, who was the epic hero of the Neleids, had a closely related name: “he who brings home.”

§1.19 We can take this argument back a stage further to Mycenaean Greek, for the name Neíleōs occurs in its Mycenaean form on a Linear-B tablet {30|31} from Pylos. [48] The Linear-B form of the name is ne-e-ra-wo, which is to be interpreted as Nehe-lawos. [49] The context of this name on the tablet makes it clear that it does not belong to a king, much less to the Neleids’ original ancestor, but to a person of modest rank. [50] But the very occurrence of the name on a Pylos tablet is important for the name of the Neleids’ original ancestor. We know this ancestor as Nēleús from his earliest occurrence in Greek in the Homeric poems, but in the Bronze Age his name was most probably Nehelawos. We need to consider how and why this name took two different forms in later Greek. We have already seen that the Ionian rulers of Miletus preserved the name in its Ionic form, Neíleōs, but that they no longer used this Ionic form of their original ancestor; they used it of the founder of their own city. The name of their original ancestor became the Aeolic form Nēleús, which was no longer clear in meaning. [51] The tradition was that this ancestor came from {31|32} Iolkos in Thessaly, an Aeolic-speaking area in historical times. The tradition for Neleus’s foundation of Pylos seems to reflect a real movement of settlers from Thessaly to the Peloponnesus in the Bronze Age, and we may therefore believe that the Neleids themselves came originally from Iolkos as their tradition said. [52] The name of their ancestor even seems to have left a trace close to their place of origin in the derivative form Nḗleia, the name of a small town near Iolkos. [53] It makes sense that the Neleids’ earliest ancestor was called by the Aeolic form of his name in Homer, for he was associated with an area that in Homeric times preserved relics of his name in its Aeolic form. [54] {32|33}

§1.20 I have already suggested that the Neleids of Miletus gave the inherited form of their original ancestor’s name to a secondary ancestor because it was more important to them to be known as the descendants of their own city’s founder than it was to be called descendants of the founder of Pylos. It was probably when the myth of the foundation of Miletus came into being, and the supposed founder of Miletus was called Neíleōs, that the name of the Neleids’ original ancestor was shifted to its Aeolic form in Homeric epic. [55] There was a further reason to use the Aeolic form of this figure’s name if, as the father of twelve sons, he was meant to be, in the symbolic sense discussed earlier, the ancestor of the entire Ionian dodecapolis. The cities of the dodecapolis had very diverse origins, as previously noted, but one area of origin that many of them had in common was Thessaly. [56] The founder {33|34} of Pylos came from Thessaly, and this connection would be emphasized by using the Aeolic form of his name. By the same token, the direct relationship of the Neleids of Miletus to this figure would be played down by not using their own inherited form of this ancestor’s name, Neíleōs, in epic. If it was the Neleids who promoted the myth of the twelve sons of Neleus in order to fashion Panionism in their own image, but who at the same time did not wish to seem to do so overtly, such a distancing from themselves would have been welcome: while they alone were descendants of Athenian Neíleōs, they and all other Panionians were descendants of Thessalian Nēleús.

§1.21 We need to look now at the myth of the foundation of Miletus, which literally duplicates the myth of the foundation of Pylos. The fact that there are two eponymous ancestors of the Neleid family is connected with the duplication of this myth. Nēleús, the founder of Pylos, was a twin who separated from his brother in order to found a new city; Pelias, who stayed behind, inherited his father’s kingdom, and both brothers thus became kings. [57] Neíleōs, the founder of Miletus, was the son of the Athenian king Kodros. [58] He too had a brother from whom he separated when he left Athens to found Miletus. Médōn, the brother who stayed behind, not only inherited the kingdom of Athens from his father, but himself began a line of rulers named after him (the Medontídai). [59] Neileos and Medon, even though they are not called twins, are twin figures, cut from the same mold as Neleus {34|35} and Pelias, and also modeled on this pair to a large extent. [60] We know that the name Neileos was transferred from the old myth to the new. It is interesting that Pero, the daughter of Neleus who was wooed by all her neighbors in Pylos, is also duplicated in the new myth, in which Neileos has a daughter named Peiro. But the myth itself has been perverted, for instead of being wooed by many suitors, Peiro alienates potential suitors by seeking to satisfy her sexual appetites in a novel and indecent way. [61] {35|36}

§1.22 We return now to the name Néstōr, which, according to the argument, has the same transitive root *nes- as Mycenaean Nehelawos and Ionic Neíleōs. In the aftermath of the discovery of the Bronze Age city of Pylos in 1939 and the decipherment of the Linear-B tablets in 1952, belief in a historical king Nestor was high, and the pair of names Néstōr and Nehelawos was taken as a good example of the custom, inherited from Indo-European, of giving a son a name that repeated part of the father’s name. [62] I am skeptical about a historical king Nestor, although I think that the possibility that there was such a king must always be granted. [63] In any case I am more interested in the Indo-European origins of the Homeric figure, who stood in close relation to the Neleid rulers of Miletus, but not as their ancestor. He was their epic hero, and his name related to their name, not on the level of history, but on the level of myth. In Homer the name Nēleús has no connection with the name Néstōr, for the Aeolic form Nēleús has lost its connection with the root *nes-. [64] But what of the name Neíleōs, which does not occur in Homer, but which must have been in existence during the Homeric era, {36|37} as it was before and after it? [65] Was the meaning of this name still understood by the family that had inherited it as part of their own name? The answer to this is, I think, that if they still understood Nestor’s name, then they must have understood their own name as well; to put it more simply, if they understood that Néstōr contains the transitive root *nes-, they would have understood that Neíleōs does too.

§1.23 The question of whether the name Nestor was still understood in the Homeric poems is in any case the central one for us, and for this question a cardinal piece of evidence is still to be considered. In my earlier study I argued in detail that the hypothetical active verb *néō, “bring home,” which is presupposed by the name Neíleōs, actually occurs in Homer, but disguised as something else. The verb, I think, occurs in Odyssey 18, in a speech of Penelope to the suitors, in which Penelope recalls Odysseus’s farewell speech to her twenty years before. When Odysseus left for Troy he told Penelope to remarry whom she chose when their son had grown if he himself did not return. Odysseus starts his farewell speech by saying that he does not think that all the Achaeans will return safely from Troy because the Trojans are formidable foes in all the pursuits of war. He uses the verb aponéomai, a compound of néomai, to express the idea that some may not “return” (Odyssey 18.259–260):

ὦ γύναι, οὐ γὰρ ὀΐω ἐϋκνήμιδας Ἀχαιοὺς
ἐκ Τροίης εὖ πάντας ἀπήμονας ἀπονέεσθαι.

Woman, I do not think that the well-greaved Achaeans
will all return home safe and unharmed from Troy.

After listing the Trojans’ strengths in war (Odyssey 18.261–264) Odysseus reverts to his main thought, namely that he himself may not return, and he expresses this thought as follows (Odyssey 18.265):

τῶ οὐκ οἶδ', ἤ κέν μ' ἀνέσει θεός, ἦ κεν ἁλώω.

Therefore I do not know if a god will anései me, or I will die. {37|38}

The verb anései in this line is unintelligible; [66] I have therefore proposed that the phrase m’ anései masks an original phrase me nései, in which nései is the future of the verb néō. The restored line is thus:

τῶ οὐκ οἶδ', ἤ κέν με νέσει θεός, ἦ κεν ἁλώω.

Therefore I do not know if a god will bring me back, or I will die.

The verb nései, “bring home,” thus picks up the verb aponéesthai, “return home,” in the opening of Odysseus’s speech. It is the active form of the middle verb.

§1.24 While nései seems clearly right as the form originally intended in Odyssey 18.265, the problem remains of determining when it was replaced by the form anései. In my previous study I argued that the Homeric poets themselves no longer knew a transitive verb néō, and that they therefore changed a traditional phrase (me nései) in a traditional line in order to make sense of it. [67] I have changed my mind about this, and I am now convinced that the change did not take place until the post-Homeric period, whether in oral or written tradition or both. But I did not change my mind on this point until I became convinced that the Homeric poets still understood the name Néstōr as “he who brings home”: if they understood the name Néstōr they must also have understood the verb nései. The poets’ understanding of the verb and their understanding of the name are inseparable issues and we must leave this matter to one side until we consider the relevant parts of Nestor’s Homeric role. The key to his role is his connection with the Indo-European twin myth, and we will continue with the examination of his name in order to place him in the context of this myth.

§1.25 A key question affecting the interpretation of Nestor’s name is the meaning of the root *nes- in early Greek, whether used transitively in the verb *néō and the name Néstōr, or intransitively in the verb néomai and the noun nóstos. The basic intransitive notion is “return safely,” and the basic transitive {38|39} notion is “bring back safely,” but there were two different contexts in which forms from the root *nes- were used, and which affected their meanings. Both contexts, moreover, seem to go back to Indo-European. The first context, which survived in Homeric nóstos, is a “safe return home.” This meaning of the root *nes- is what is also to be assumed in the Mycenaean name Nehelawos, hence “he who brings the warfolk safely home.” While the notion of a “return home” is not found in the main Indo-European cognates of Greek néomai, this context was nevertheless old if the Sanskrit and Iranian neuter noun astam, “home,” contains a zero-grade of the root *nes- (original form*n̥stam). [68] But even in Greek a “safe return home” was probably not originally implicit in the verb néomai itself: it should be noted that in the Homeric formula oîkónde néesthai, “to return home,” the context of a return home is specified by the word oîkónde. [69]

§1.26 The second context of the root *nes- is what we will be concerned with in the Indo-European twin myth and in the Vedic form of that myth. This is also the context to which the name Néstōr originally belonged insofar as Nestor too has to do with the Indo-European twin myth. This context of the root *nes- was a “return from death to life,” and this meaning of the Greek verb néomai, although it did not survive into the Homeric era, nevertheless left clear traces in the traditional diction of Homeric epic. The crucial form for this context of early Greek néomai is a root aorist participle with zero-grade of the root * nes-, namely ásmenos, to be reconstructed as *n̥s-menos. [70] {39|40} This participle became detached from the paradigm of néomai in pre-Homeric Greek and survived as an adjective meaning “happy” in Homeric and later Greek. [71] But in the Odyssey the word still functions as a participle in a highly traditional two-line refrain following three deadly encounters that Odysseus undergoes during his nóstos. [72] The crucial phrase in this refrain is ásmenoi ek thanátoio, “having returned from death”:

ἔνθεν δὲ προτέρω πλέομεν ἀκαχήμενοι ἦτορ,
ἄσμενοι ἐκ θανάτοιο, φίλους ὀλέσαντες ἑταίρους.

From there we sailed onward grieving at heart,
having returned from death, having lost dear companions.

When this refrain was first composed it was evidently used of successive encounters in which there was a literal passage through death by the hero and a progressive loss of companions. Even in our Odyssey a sense remains in several of the hero’s adventures that the encounter is with death itself, explicitly so in the journey to the underworld in Odyssey 11. [73] The context in which a literal “return from death” seems to have originated is solar myth, and there are still overt instances of such a solar context in the Odyssey: [74] Circe, who acts as the threshold to the underworld, sending the hero there and receiving him back again, is the daughter of the sun god Helios (Odyssey 10.138); [75] Helios himself destroys all of Odysseus’s remaining companions for {40|41} eating his sacred cattle, but Odysseus is able to return from Helios’s island unharmed. The Cyclops episode, although not overtly a solar myth, combines all the features of a “return from death” in a solar context. The one-eyed giant embodies the destructive aspect of solar myth associated with sunset, and his sheep are analogous to the sacred cattle of Helios. [76] Most importantly, his cave is a place of death through which the hero passes unharmed, but from which not all his companions return.

§1.27 Just as the phrase oîkónde néesthai, “to return home,” specifies one context of the root *nes- by the word oîkónde, so the phrase ásmenoi ek thanátoio, “having returned from death,” specifies a different context by the words ek thanátoio. These two contexts may be distinguished as “sacred” and “secular” insofar as solar myth justifies the term “sacred,” and the term “secular” expresses a contrast with this. The sacred context was inherited from Indo-European on the evidence of Germanic, where the root *nes- is widely attested. Modern German genesen, “get well,” which is composed of a perfective element ge- and the root *nes -, shows clearly that the underlying notion of “return” in the Germanic root is a “return to life.” [77] In Germanic the sacred context, “return to life,” seems to have been generalized to the exclusion of a secular context, “return home.” This was the opposite of what happened in Greek, where the secular context survived, but the sacred context can be seen in the process of dying out within epic tradition. The latter development is clear from the form ásmenos itself, which the Homeric poets no longer understood as a verb but as an adjective meaning {41|42} “happy.” [78] This semantic change made the syntax of the traditional refrain highly irregular, for the phrase ásmenoi ek thanátoio, taken to mean “happy from death,” now stood alone without a verb. A verb was in fact added in the only occurrence of the phrase outside the traditional refrain, in Iliad 20.350: phúgen ásmenos ek thanátoio, “he has escaped happily from death.” [79] The syntax of the phrase ásmenos ek thanátoio has been regularized in this verse, but what was once, in the traditional refrain, a “return” from death, has now become a “happy escape” from death. A similar process of reinterpretation occurs in the actual episodes followed by the traditional refrain when the refrain in each case is adapted to the particular episode. In the traditional refrain, as originally intended, the “return from death” of Odysseus and some of his companions is contrasted with the loss of other companions. In the adaptations of the refrain the loss of companions remains essentially the same (in two of the episodes it is expressed by the same verb óllumi as in the refrain). But what was once a “return from death” has now become an “escape from death,” as expressed by the phrase phúgomen thánaton or by the verb phúge alone. The Ciconian episode, in which the adaptation of the refrain immediately precedes the refrain itself, shows these features clearly (Odyssey 9.60–61):

ἓξ δ' ἀφ' ἑκάστης νηὸς ἐϋκνήμιδες ἑταῖροι
ὤλονθ'· οἱ δ' ἄλλοι φύγομεν θάνατόν τε μόρον τε.

Six well-greaved companions from each ship
were lost; but the rest of us escaped death and doom.

In the Laestrygonian episode only Odysseus’s ship escapes from the Laestrygonian harbor; all the other ships are destroyed inside it. In the adaptation of the refrain, which again occurs immediately before the refrain itself, the phrase “happily escaped” (aspasíōsphúge) is used of Odysseus’s ship, and the verb “were lost” (ólonto) is used of all the other ships (Odyssey 10.131–132): {42|43}

ἀσπασίως δ' ἐς πόντον ἐπηρεφέας φύγε πέτρας
νηῦς ἐμή· αὐτὰρ αἱ ἄλλαι ἀολλέες αὐτόθ' ὄλοντο.

Happily my ship escaped from the overhanging rocks
into the sea; but the other ships perished there together.

The phrase aspasíōsphúge in this passage reinterprets the phrase ásmenoi ek thanátoio in the traditional refrain as “happy from death” (the word aspasíōs makes that very clear), and it changes what was once a “return from death” into a “happy escape.” [80]

§1.28 The phrase ásmenoi ek thanátoio in the traditional refrain opens a window onto an earlier stage of Greek epic when a nóstos was not only a “return home,” but also a “return to life.” The traditional refrain is not the only relic in the Odyssey of this earlier stage of the nóstos theme. A second highly traditional line again juxtaposes the verb néomai, used of the hero, with the loss of companions. The line occurs in the prophecy of Teiresias to Odysseus in the underworld (Odyssey 11.114):

ὀψὲ κακῶς νεῖαι, ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους.

You will return late and in bad condition, having lost all your companions.

The contrast between the “return” of the hero on the one hand and the loss of companions on the other hand is the same as in the traditional refrain, {43|44} except that the reference is now to the future, when the hero will return alone and all his companions will be lost. The singular participle olésas, “having lost,” corresponds to the plural participle olésantes in the refrain, and the second person singular verb neîai, “you will return,” corresponds to the plural participle ásmenoi, “having returned,” in the refrain. If we take into account the context of prophecy in the underworld, the meaning of the form neîai is not only “you will return home,” but also, implicitly, “you will return from death.” The purpose of Odysseus’s journey to the underworld is to learn about his nóstos from Teiresias, [81] and it is in this line that Teiresias reveals what the final outcome of Odysseus’s nóstos will be. It is a deeply traditional line to judge by its correspondence with the refrain, and this gives it the appropriate weight to be the ultimate object of Odysseus’s journey to the underworld. It is not just the line itself, but also the context of prophecy in the underworld that seems to be traditional. The same line is later repeated by Circe, who gives Odysseus more immediate advice for his nóstos, but this second occurrence seems to be an extension of the line’s primary occurrence in the prophecy of Teiresias. [82] The verb neîai itself in this line of course no longer meant “you will return to life” to the Homeric poets, but simply “you will return home”; adaptations of the line elsewhere in the Odyssey leave no doubt about this. [83] But the correspondence with the traditional refrain {44|45} indicates that the original notion in the verb neîai, as in the phrase ásmenoi ek thanátoio, was a “return from death.”

§1.29 There is a third line that seems to have been inherited from an earlier stage of the nóstos tradition in Greek epic, namely the reconstructed form of the line Odyssey 18.265, in which the active verb néō occurs:

τῶ οὐκ οἶδ', ἤ κέν με νέσει θεός, ἦ κεν ἁλώω.

Therefore I do not know if a god will bring me back, or I will die.

This line parallels the traditional refrain (with ásmenoi) and the traditional prophecy (with neîai) in presenting a contrast between two fates: a “return” on the one hand and destruction on the other hand. In this case it is not a contrast between the hero and his companions, but the hero’s own fate that is in the balance. Just as the intransitive verb néomai earlier meant “return from death” in a sacred context, so the verb nései in Odyssey 18.265 in all likelihood once meant more than simply “bring home.” In its present context, {45|46} Odysseus’s farewell speech to Penelope, the verb nései relates specifically to Odysseus’s “return home.” [84] But there were doubtless other contexts besides a farewell speech in which the hero faced the uncertainty of his own “return.” [85] I therefore prefer not to define the traditional context of this line more narrowly than by what can be inferred from the line itself.

§1.30 There is indirect evidence that the phrase me nései in this line once meant “will bring me back to life” if we consider closely the alternative fate, ē̂ ken halṓō, “or I shall perish.” The verb halō̂nai, “to die,” actually means “to be caught”; the meaning “to die” arose from the phrase thanátōihalō̂nai, “to be caught by death,” through an ellipsis of the word thanátōi, “by death.” [86] But without the word thanátōi the meaning “to die” of halō̂nai does not make sense, for “to be caught,” or “to be captured,” is not the same as “to die.” The question then is, how did the ellipsis of thanátōi arise in the first place, and the answer, I think, lies in Odyssey 18.265, where the two alternatives, “whether the god will bring me back (from death), or I shall be caught,” express exactly the two possible fates of the hero who seeks a nóstos in the original sense. If he succeeds, he will have a safe passage through death; if he fails, he will be caught (by death). [87] Odysseus’s ability to enter and return from the Cyclops’s {46|47} cave, in contrast to what befalls six of his companions, well illustrates the difference in question. [88]

§1.31 As in the case of the other two traditional lines, the line with nései was adapted elsewhere in Homer. In Odyssey 15.300 Telemachus, who has set sail for home from Pylos, is described as “pondering whether he would escape death or perish”:

ὁρμαίνων, ἤ κεν θάνατον φύγοι ἦ κεν ἁλοίη.

Pondering whether he would escape death or die.

The similarity between this line and Odyssey 18.265 is clear: uncertainty is expressed in the first foot and a half of each line, followed by two alternative fates. The second alternative, as expressed by the verb halō̂nai, is virtually the same in the two lines. But for the first alternative the phrase ḗ kén me nései theós, “whether the god will bring me back,” has been replaced by the phrase ḗ ken thánaton phúgoi, “whether he would escape death.” This adaptation is like those of the traditional refrain in which the phrase thánaton phúgomen (phúgomen thánaton), “we escaped death,” reinterprets the phrase ásmenoi ek thanátoio “having returned from death,” of the refrain. The parallelism between the two adaptations is complete if the line with the phrase me nései was also highly traditional, and if the phrase itself originally meant “will bring me back from death.” [89] {47|48}

§1.32 By indirect means we arrive at a conclusion for the active verb nései that is consistent with what we previously concluded for the middle verb néomai and the noun nóstos. When the line that is now found at Odyssey 18.265 first originated, the verb nései meant to “bring back to life,” but by the Homeric era this meaning had been lost, and in Odyssey 18.265 the meaning was rather to “bring home.” The relevance of this to the name Néstōr is clear. In the Homeric era the meaning of the name, in line with the verb nései, was “he who brings home,” but in the not too distant past of Greek epic tradition his name must have meant “he who brings back to life.” In my previous study, as I have said, I did not believe that the Homeric poets still knew the verb nései in Odyssey 18.265, for I believed that it was they who at some point in the tradition changed this verb to the form anései. I therefore did not imagine that Nestor’s name still had any meaning for the Homeric poets, and I considered only the earlier meaning of his name, “he who brings back to life.” I have changed my mind about the synchronic meaning of Nestor’s name for the Homeric poets, and I will address this issue in Part 2 when we consider Nestor’s role in the nóstos of the Achaeans acccording to his own account in Odyssey 3. But I have not changed my earlier view concerning the diachronic meaning of Nestor’s name, namely that this meaning, “he who brings back to life,” is relevant to the earliest level of his epic tradition, and in particular to the story that he tells about his own youth in Iliad 11. [90] There is a sense in this story that Nestor, the sole survivor among Neleus’s sons of Heracles’ sack of Pylos, brings his city back to life. The Pylians in the aftermath of Heracles’ attack are described as paûroi kekakōménoi, “few and in bad condition,” and therefore prey to their hostile neighbors to the north, the Epeians, who are identified in the story with the historical Eleians. Nestor carried out a cattle raid against these neighbors, and the booty that he brought home was distributed among the Pylians, to whom it was owed, for the Pylians had been too weak to protect their own cattle, and had lost this chief means of life to the Epeians (Iliad 11.688–689):

πολέσιν γὰρ Ἐπειοὶ χρεῖος ὄφειλον,
ὡς ἡμεῖς παῦροι κεκακωμένοι ἐν Πύλῳ ἦμεν. {48|49}

For the Epeians owed a debt to many,
since few of us were left in Pylos and we were badly off.

By his cattle raid Nestor brought his people back from virtual (if not actual) extinction, and it was the cattle raid that particularly interested me in the interpretation of Nestor’s name and Nestor’s myth. I was convinced, as I have said, that solar myth was the original context of the nóstos tradition that underlies the Odyssey, and this context is still very clear from the poem itself. [91] Cattle, which represent sustenance and life, are a repeated feature in the various forms of the nóstos myth in the Odyssey, and they are the central feature of the solar myth at its most literal in the poem, the myth of the cattle of Helios. It was therefore very significant to me that Nestor’s cattle raid also seems to have a close connection with solar myth. The Epeian king Augeias, “the shining one,” and his daughter Agamede, a specialist in drugs, look like local forms of Helios, the sun god, and his granddaughter Medeia, likewise a specialist in drugs. [92] Augeias and his daughter do not play a prominent role in Nestor’s story, but they are still there in the background. [93] In post-Homeric tradition Augeias himself was famous for his cattle, as in the myth of the cleaning of his stables by Heracles, and this further connects him with Helios and his cattle. [94] There are other traces of Nestor’s association with {49|50} both cattle and solar myth in his traditions. [95] I pointed these connections out in my previous study, but I had nothing more to say about the exact nature of Nestor’s myth. [96] I have since become convinced that Nestor’s story in Iliad 11 provides the key to his myth once his connection with the Indo-European twin myth is made clear. We will start with his story in Iliad 11 when we turn to the interpretation of Nestor’s Homeric role in Part 2 below.

§1.33 There is another issue that significantly affects the interpretation of the name Néstōr, and that is also central to Nestor’s connection with the Indo-European twin myth: the etymology of Greek nóos, “mind.” The etymology of nóos (contracted form noûs) has long been debated, and in my earlier study of the nóstos theme I was much concerned with this issue. [97] The form of nóos is clear: it is a verbal noun containing the o-grade of a verbal root, like lógos, “word,” related to légō, “say,” phóros, “tribute,” related to phérō, “bear,” phóbos, “panic flight,” related to phébomai, “flee in panic.” But in nóos the verbal root is no longer clear because the final consonant of the root was lost between vowels. In Greek three consonants were lost between vowels, --, --, and -s-, and roots ending with each of these consonants have been proposed for the etymology of nóos. A root *neu̯- has been made unlikely for nóos by the Mycenaean Greek form wi-pi-no-o, interpreted as the personal name Wiphinoos, the equivalent of later Greek Iphínoos. [98] If the second element of this compound has to do with the noun nóos, nóos did not originally have a --, for Mycenaean Greek still preserves this consonant (noted as -w-) between vowels. [99] If the root *neu̯- is thus excluded, the formal question is all {50|51} but settled: since there is no known Greek root *nei̯-, [100] the root *nes- is the only likely possibility, and nóos can thus be reconstructed as *nosos. [101]

§1.34 For the semantics of Greek nóos the essential fact is the close connection that the word has with the faculty of vision. [102] This connection is particularly clear in the denominative verb noéō, “perceive”; [103] noéō is derived directly from nóos, and a similar meaning defines the essence of this action noun: nóos is a “perceiving.” But this meaning derives in turn from the action expressed by the noun’s verbal root. This action, I believe, was a “bringing back to the light” in the context of solar myth. [104] The derivational sequence was thus: néō, “bring back to life and light” > nóos, a “bringing back to life and light” = a “perceiving” > noéō, “perceive.” [105] {51|52}

§1.35 Nestor’s name, with the original meaning “he who brings back to life and light,” makes him the virtual personification of nóos if this noun originally meant a “bringing back to life and light.” Nestor is of course one of the two counselors on whom the Achaeans at Troy rely, and it is not surprising that he, like the other principal counselor, Odysseus, is renowned for his intelligence. But for Nestor this reputation is particularly associated with the noun nóos. Some of the Homeric passages that bear this out can only be considered in the context of particular episodes, and we will postpone these until later. [106] For now there are two passages in which Nestor’s association with nóos is little short of a theme in its own right and thus detachable from its immediate context. [107] The first passage is in Iliad 9, when Nestor urges Agamemnon to send an embassy to appease Achilles, reminding him that he took Achilles’ war prize in the first place against Nestor’s advice. Nestor introduces his counsel by insisting heavily on the words nóos and noéō, both of which he uses in close relation to himself (Iliad 9.103–108): {52|53}

αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ἐρέω ὥς μοι δοκεῖ εἶναι ἄριστα.
οὐ γάρ τις νόον ἄλλος ἀμείνονα τοῦδε νοήσει
οἷον ἐγὼ νοέω ἠμὲν πάλαι ἠδ' ἔτι καὶ νῦν—
ἐξ ἔτι τοῦ ὅτε διογενὲς Βρισηΐδα κούρην
χωομένου Ἀχιλῆος ἔβης κλισίηθεν ἀπούρας
οὔ τι καθ' ἡμέτερόν γε νόον.

But I will speak as seems best to me.
For no one will think of a better plan than this one
that I am thinking of, both long ago and to this very moment,
ever since the time when you, Zeus-born one, went and took
the maiden Briseis from the tent of furious Achilles,
not at all according to my advice.

Nestor tells Agamemnon that no one will devise a better plan than his, and he bases his claim, with due respect to Agamemnon, on the fact that he had been right in the first place, when Agamemnon ignored him. But the way that Nestor expresses this conveys another message, equally clear, which might be put as follows: “I, and no one else, am the man of nóos, both now, when you finally must heed me, and formerly too, when you made a mistake by not heeding me.” [108]

§1.36 The passage in Iliad 9 insists on the relevance of nóos to Nestor through the repetition of the noun and the denominative verb noéō; another passage is eloquently brief and pointed. Nestor is again the speaker when, returning from his meeting with Patroclus in Iliad 11, he encounters the Achaean leaders in full retreat and advises them to take counsel; he expresses this advice as follows (Iliad 14.61–62):

ἡμεῖς δὲ φραζώμεθ' ὅπως ἔσται τάδε ἔργα
εἴ τι νόος ῥέξει.

Let us consider how these matters will be,
if mind will accomplish anything. {53|54}

Nestor here seems to act almost as the symbol of wise counsel, for after he calls on the leaders to deliberate, he leaves it to one of them (Diomedes) to propose the plan that is actually put into effect (the wounded champions urge on their followers from behind the lines). Since Nestor’s role is raised to a symbolic level in this episode, so too is his statement. When he says, “let us take thought how these matters will be, if nóos will accomplish anything,” nóos, as subject of the active verb rhéxei, is strongly personified: nóos is equated with Nestor himself in this passage, and this is entirely appropriate if in some sense they are one and the same thing—that is, if Nestor is indeed the personification of nóos.

§1.37 Another name that is relevant to the etymology of nóos is Alkínoos, a close equivalent in both form and meaning of Iphínoos/Mycenaean Wiphinoos. Alcinous, as king of the Phaeacians in the Odyssey, has the particular function of bringing Odysseus home to Ithaca. [109] This final stage in Odysseus’s nóstos is presented poetically as a “return to life” in that Odysseus aboard the Phaeacian ship sinks into a deep sleep “most like death” (thanátōi ánkhista eoikṓs, Odyssey 13.80); his arrival in Ithaka, where he awakens, is thus simultaneously a “return home” and a “return to life.” In line with Alcinous’s function in the Odyssey his name, like the name Iphínoos, has been interpreted as “he who brings home with his might”: in both names the second part of the name is not the verbal noun nóos, originally a “bringing back to life and light,” but a verbal adjective meaning “bringing back.” [110] Alcinous, who as king of the Phaeacians brings Odysseus back to life and light, at least metaphorically, at the end of his nóstos, acts out the etymology of nóos, with which the second part of his name is closely related but not identical. [111] {54|55}

§1.38 Nestor and Alcinous are both keys to the etymology of Greek nóos, “mind.” I considered both figures in my previous study from the standpoint of nóos, and I will return to both of them from the same standpoint in Part 2 below. In my previous study I also devoted much attention to a third figure in relation to the etymology of nóos, namely Odysseus. Odysseus and Nestor are the two counselors on whom the Achaeans at Troy rely, and Odysseus like Nestor is characterized by his intelligence. In addition Odysseus is the hero who “returns,” and it is his nóstos in the Odyssey that reveals that a “return home” was in origin a “return to life.” Odysseus’s famous intelligence figures prominently in his return in the Odyssey, and this suggested to me that the two things, his return and his intelligence, are connected in the word nóos. Hence I reconstructed the original meaning of nóos as “return to life and light,” with the middle (intransitive) meaning “return” of the root *nes-. In fact I did not distinguish sharply between the active and the middle meaning of the root *nes -, but used both meanings in different parts of my argument to reconstruct the original meaning of nóos. This was a methodological problem that I did not fully recognize, for, as I now see more clearly, the noun should have had only one meaning or the other, and not both at once. I remain convinced that there is a deep connection between the return and the intelligence of Odysseus, but I no longer think that the noun nóos meant “return.” The keys to nóos are the names Néstōr and Alkínoos, which have the active sense of the root *nes -, “bring back.” The connection between Odysseus’s return and his intelligence is, I think, at least one step removed from the etymology of the noun nóos. [112]

§1.39 A number of arguments that I made in my previous study make better sense if they are modified in light of what I have just said. First, the names Alkínoos and Wiphinoos, interpreted with an active sense of the root *nes- as “he who brings back with his might” and “he who brings back with {55|56} his force” respectively, imply an active sense of the root in the noun nóos as well: a noun identical in form with the second part of these names would not be expected to contrast with them in meaning by having a middle sense of the root; since the forms are identical, the meanings should be parallel. Secondly, there is a problem in reconstructing the same original meaning, “return to life and light,” for two different nouns, nóstos and nóos: why would there have been two nouns with the same meaning, and, if there were, why did they develop such different meanings as “return home” on the one hand and “mind” on the other? The two nouns must have had distinct meanings from the beginning, and this was the case if nóos had the active sense and nóstos the middle sense of the root *nes-. [113] Finally, there is Odysseus, whose characteristic intelligence is not nóos, as it is for Nestor, but mē̂tis, “shrewdness,” as in his particularized epithet, polúmētis, “having many shrewd counsels.” This is not a clearcut issue, for common nouns like nóos and mē̂tis may be characteristic of certain figures, but their use is of course not restricted to these figures. Thus the word nóos and its derivatives are used more than once of Odysseus (in e.g. Iliad 10.247, Odyssey 1.66, and Odyssey 10.329); nóos is even used of Odysseus in connection with his escape from the Cyclops’s cave, when he himself later recalls that escape to encourage his men (Odyssey 12.211–212):

ἀλλὰ καὶ ἔνθεν ἐμῇ ἀρετῇ βουλῇ τε νόῳ τε

But even from that place, by means of my valor, plan, and intelligence,
we escaped.

To take the reverse case we have a very striking and memorable use of the word mē̂tis in Nestor’s speech of advice to his son Antilochus before the chariot race in the funeral games of Patroclus (Iliad 23.313–318):

ἀλλ' ἄγε δὴ σὺ φίλος μῆτιν ἐμβάλλεο θυμῷ
παντοίην, ἵνα μή σε παρεκπροφύγῃσιν ἄεθλα.
μήτι τοι δρυτόμος μέγ' ἀμείνων ἠὲ βίηφι· {56|57}
μήτι δ' αὖτε κυβερνήτης ἐνὶ οἴνοπι πόντῳ
νῆα θοὴν ἰθύνει ἐρεχθομένην ἀνέμοισι·
μήτι δ' ἡνίοχος περιγίγνεται ἡνιόχοιο.

But come, dear son, and put into your mind intelligent schemes
of all sorts so that the prizes do not escape you.
By intelligence the woodcutter is much better than by strength;
by intelligence, moreover, a helmsman on the wine-dark sea
holds his swift ship on course when it is battered by the winds;
and by intelligence charioteer surpasses charioteer.

If Nestor is indeed the personification of nóos, we shall certainly want to know why in this passage he repeats the word mē̂tis, the characteristic quality of Odysseus, with as much insistence as when he repeats the words nóos and noéō in his speech to Agamemnon in Iliad 9. [114] But the fact remains that mē̂tis is the quality that particularly characterizes Odysseus. It comes to the fore especially in the “return” from the Cyclops’s cave, the episode which, after the Nekyia, captures most the sense of a “return from death” in the nóstos of Odysseus. Even the name Oûtis, “no one,” with which Odysseus tricks Polyphemos, is turned into mē̂tis by way of the phrase mḗ tis, “no one,” which the other Cyclopes utter at the moment of the ruse’s success (Odyssey 9.410): εἰ μὲν δὴ μή τίς σε βιάζεται οἶον ἐόντα, “if no one is overpowering you, alone as you are.” A few lines later Odysseus makes the connection with mē̂tis overt when he says (Odyssey 9.414): ὡς ὄνομ' ἐξαπάτησεν ἐμὸν καὶ μῆτις ἀμύμων, “thus my name and faultless mē̂tis deceived him.” Later, on the night before he kills the suitors, Odysseus steels himself by remembering how he took courage in the Cyclops’s cave, until mē̂tis led him out (Odyssey 20.20–21): σὺ δ' ἐτόλμας, ὄφρα σε μῆτις / ἐξάγαγ' ἐξ ἄντροιο ὀϊόμενον θανέεσθαι, “you took courage until mē̂tis led you out of the cave, thinking that you were going to die.”

§1.40 I discussed these passages concerning Odysseus’s mē̂tis in my previous study, where I argued that the word mē̂tis and other similarly descriptive vocabulary, including the word boulḗ, “counsel,” had replaced the word nóos in the old connection between nóos and nóstos. [115] My assumption was that the Homeric poets were only dimly aware of that primitive etymological connection, and that they therefore transformed it with a new and {57|58} more highly charged vocabulary. I now think that the original meaning of nóos was not as dim to the Homeric poets as such an arbitrary process of transformation would imply. But to see the live poetic connection one must look in the right place, and that place is not in the return of Odysseus. Odysseus uses mē̂tis to escape from the Cyclops’s cave, not because of anything having to do with nóos, but because mē̂tis is his characteristic quality. The key to nóos is Nestor, and the question how far the Homeric poets still understood the original meaning of nóos belongs with the question how far they still understood the original meaning of Néstōr and of nóstos. [116] All of these questions should be kept open and considered carefully when we examine Nestor’s Homeric role.

§1.41 Since I have rejected in the preceding pages arguments that I considered carefully in my previous study, I should clearly state that I only changed my mind on such a basic question as the etymology of nóos after I realized the significance of the Sanskrit evidence for this etymology. It was the same evidence that simultaneously changed my view of Nestor. Indeed the Greek name Néstōr and the Greek noun nóos become inseparable parts of one and the same problem when they are viewed in the light of the Vedic name Nā́satyā. {58|59}


[ back ] 27. Benveniste 1948:54 cites parallels only in Avestan (four examples); Heubeck 1957:29n6 (= 1984:474n6) cites parallels in Illyrian; Neumann 1988:8, 14 cites parallels in Phrygian (three examples).

[ back ] 28. Only Alástōr (from the verbal adjective álastos) does not contain the root of a verb. Besides Néstōr, the other sixteen names (and related verbs) are: Áktōr (ágō, “lead”), Aléktōr (aléxō, “ward off”), Amúntōr (amúnō, “defend”), Daítōr (daíomai/daínumi, “divide/feast”), Damástōr, in Damastorídēs (damázō, “tame”), Dmḗtōr (dámnēmi, “tame”), Héktōr (ékhō, “hold, protect”), Epístōr (oîda, “know”), Kalḗtōr (kaléō, “call”), Kástōr (kaínumi, perf. kékasmai, “excel”), Mástōr/Mastorídēs (maíomai, “search”), Méntōr (mémona, “be eager,” see below in text), Mḗstōr (mḗdomai, “plan”), Onḗtōr (onínēmi, “help”), Sténtōr (sténō, “roar”), Théstōr, in Thestorídēs (théssasthai, “ask in prayer”). Philḗtōr is a further example if it is from philéō, “love,” but it may be a compound of phílos “dear,” and ē̂tor, “heart” (cf. Risch 1974:63).

[ back ] 29. The name Epístōr, if from epí and root *wid- like epiístōr, differs from the common noun in ignoring Ϝ and eliding the final vowel of epí; h- from Ϝ is also absent (cf. hístōr).

[ back ] 30. Later Greek has examples of áktōr, “leader” (Aeschylus), (sun)daítōr, “(fellow) feaster” (Aeschylus), perhaps onḗtōr, “helper” (conjecture in Pindar, otherwise the name of a plaster). Common nouns with the agent suffix -tēr parallel two further Homeric names in -tōr: dmētḗr, “tamer” (Homeric Hymn 22.5), paralleling Dmḗtōr, and mastḗr, “searcher” (Sophocles, Euripides), paralleling Mástōr. The suffix -tēr, unlike -tōr, was not used to form names; cf. Benveniste 1948:54.

[ back ] 31. The verb sténō is used of the roaring of the sea in Iliad 23.230: ho d’ éstenen oídmati thúōn, “it roared, seething with the swell.” The English adjective “stentorian,” deriving from Stentor’s role in Iliad 5.785, perhaps makes the evocation of Stentor’s name in this line seem more familiar that it would otherwise be.

[ back ] 32. For the root of Théstōr from théssasthai, “ask in prayer,” cf. also compounds in -thestos (polú-thestos, “much prayed for,” apó-thestos, “prayed away, despised”).

[ back ] 33. “Hector Protector” is a familiar phrase in English from a nursery rhyme.

[ back ] 34. Note that rhúskeu, “you protected,” glosses the next word ékhes in the particular sense required for ékhes; the poet clearly strives to evoke the meaning of Hector’s name. There are two other instances in which the meaning of Hector’s name seems to be evoked. In Iliad 5.473–474 Sarpedon reminds Hector of his boast to “protect” (hexémen) the city by himself: φῆς που ἄτερ λαῶν πόλιν ἑξέμεν ἠδ' ἐπικούρων / οἶος, “you once said that you would protect the city without your warriors and allies, / alone.” According to Iliad 6.403 the Trojans called Hector’s son Astúanax, “ruler of the city,” because “Hector alone protected Ilion” (oîos gàr erúeto Ílion Héktōr). O’Hara 1996:10 discusses word play with Hector’s name in the Iliad, but he omits Iliad 24.730 (in the text above).

[ back ] 35. The latter episode is Odyssey 22.205–240.

[ back ] 36. The enlarged form of the root is rare outside Greek: Greek mémona, “I am eager,” and Latin memini, “I remember,” are formal equivalents, having the simple form of the root, but the meaning of the Latin verb corresponds with that of the enlarged root in Greek. Presumably Latin memini preserves the Indo-European meaning of the simple root, which in Greek was taken over by the enlarged root.

[ back ] 37. The verb epotrúnō in this passage stands in for the virtual verb *ménō implied by the names Méntēs and Méntōr; cf. the following two Homeric passages in which the verb otrúnō functions as the transitive counterpart to intransitive mémona: in Iliad 5.482 Sarpedon speaks of his willing contribution to the war despite the fact that he is only an ally of the Trojans: ἀλλὰ καὶ ὧς Λυκίους ὀτρύνω καὶ μέμον' αὐτὸς / ἀνδρὶ μαχήσασθαι, “but even so I stir up the Lycians and am myself stirred up / to fight man to man”; in Iliad 4.73 Zeus stirs up an already eager Athena: ὣς εἰπὼν ὄτρυνε πάρος μεμαυῖαν Ἀθήνην, “so saying he stirred up Athena, who was stirred up already.” The verb otrúnō also has a close connection to the noun ménos in Homer in the phrase ótrune ménos, “he/she stirred up the ménos of,” as in the repeated line: ὣς εἰπὼν ὄτρυνε μένος καὶ θυμὸν ἑκάστου. For the close relationship between the noun ménos and the verb mémona, note Iliad 5.135–136, where Diomedes is described as “already eager,” kaì prìnmemaṓs, when “three times the ménos seized” him, trìs tósson hélen ménos.

[ back ] 38. In Odyssey 12.37–38 Circe tells Odysseus to listen to what she tells him about his journey home, and then adds that when the time comes “the god himself will remind you” (mnḗsei dé se kaì theòs autós). This is a more explicit case of “reminding” than the passage with hupothḗsetai in Odyssey 3, but it is not dissimilar.

[ back ] 39. The name is also significant when Athena, as Mentor, incites Odysseus before the final battle with the suitors. Note in particular her address to Odysseus in Odyssey 22.226–235, where the two nouns ménos and alkḗ at the beginning of her speech (οὐκέτι σοί γ', Ὀδυσεῦ, μένος ἔμπεδον οὐδέ τις ἀλκή, “your ménos is no longer firm, and you have no alkḗ”) are picked up at the end of her speech in the name Méntōr and the patronymic Alkimídēs that now occurs for the first and only time (Odyssey 22.233–235):

ἀλλ' ἄγε δεῦρο, πέπον, παρ' ἔμ' ἵστασο καὶ ἴδε ἔργον,
ὄφρ' εἰδῇς, οἷός τοι ἐν ἀνδράσι δυσμενέεσσι
Μέντωρ Ἀλκιμίδης εὐεργεσίας ἀποτίνειν.

But come here, good friend, stand next to me, and see my deeds,
so that you may know what Mentor Alkimides is like
to repay good deeds in the midst of hostile men.

The currency of the English and French word “mentor,” meaning “wise and trusted counselor,” is derived less from the Odyssey than from a late seventeenth-century romance, the Télémaque of the Archbishop Fénelon, in which Mentor’s role as “counselor” is prominent (OED s.v. “mentor”); Greek Méntōr does not mean “counselor,” but “inciter,” and by extension “reminder.” Formally it is possible that Méntōr derives from ménō, “await, withstand,” but this is clearly not how the Odyssey understands the name. For consideration of the name Menélaos, which is usually derived from the verb ménō, “await, withstand,” see Part 2 below.

[ back ] 40. In Odyssey 1.326–327 the bard Phemios is represented as singing the “Achaeans’ grim return” (Akhaiō̂n nóstonlugrón) to the suitors, but it is Nestor who delivers the actual substance of this song in Odyssey 3. For Nestor’s role as narrator of the Achaeans’ nóstoi in Odyssey 3, cf. Marks 2008, ch. 5.

[ back ] 41. Apart from designating the Homeric hero, the name’s only wider use is as a type of wisdom and, more often, as a metonymy for old age. Nestor is found as a symbol of “overliving” (living too long) in Propertius 2.13.46–50 and Juvenal 10.246–255; there were presumably earlier instances of this in Greek tradition (cf. §2.71 below on Odyssey 3.108–112).

[ back ] 42. Hellanicus F 23 (cf. n1.18 above).

[ back ] 43. Herodotus 9.97: the passage concerns a temple of Eleusinian Demeter established on Cape Mykale by Philistos, a supposed follower of Neíleōs, the founder of Miletus (τῇ Δήμητρος Ἐλευσινίης [ἐστὶ] ἱρόν, τὸ Φίλιστος ὁ Πασικλέος ἱδρύσατο Νείλεῳ τῷ Κόδρου ἐπισπόμενος ἐπὶ Μιλήτου κτιστύν, “there is a temple there of Eleusinian Demeter, which Philistos the son of Pasikles founded when he followed Neileos the son of Kodros for the foundation of Miletus”); see §4.14 below for the same name Neíleōs on a sixth-century BC Samian inscription; cf. also Callimachus fr. 191.76–77 Pfeiffer (Iambus 1), where Thales’ alleged dedication of a gold cup to Apollo at Didyma reads in part τῷ μεδεῦντι Νείλεω δήμου, “to the lord of the people of Neileos” (see Martin 1993:113 on the relationship to Thales of this dedication, written by Callimachus). Pausanias uses a hybrid form Neileús of the founder of Miletus; this form also appears in Milesian territory on a second-century AD inscription from Didyma (Fontenrose 1988:197 no. 23 line 8). The grammarian Herodian similarly distinguishes between the name of Nestor’s father Nēleús on the one hand, and the forms Neíleōs and Neileús (which are interchangeable) on the other hand (Grammatici Graeci, vol. 3.2, p. 450.23–26 Lentz). But Hellanicus, the Marmor Parium, Strabo, and others call the founder of Miletus Nēleús.

[ back ] 44. Wackernagel 1891 cols. 6–7 first suggested this on the basis of the correspondence between Nei- and - in the first part of the two names, which is like the correspondence between e.g. Ionic keînos and Aeolic kē̂nos (“that one”); he did not address the difference in the second part of the names.

[ back ] 45. There is one important exception: a local inscription of the first century BC (Collitz-Bechtel 1884–1915 no. 5501) has the phrase patrias Neileidōn, “of the lineage (patriá) of the Neileîdai.” The inscription records an official of the deme Teichioussai, fifteen miles south of Miletus (cf. n4.172 below). Outside its local context the family’s name would have been influenced by the Homeric patronymic Nēlēïádēs. Herodian, who preserves the name Neíleōs, preserves the associated patronymic Neileídēs as well (Grammatici Graeci, vol. 3.1, p. 67.11, vol. 3.2, pp. 435.26, 513.16 Lentz).

[ back ] 46. For the first element in these compounds as an old third-person singular verb see Watkins 1970:94–96.

[ back ] 47. *Nese- became Nei- by loss of intervocalic -s- (already in Mycenaean, cf. n1.49 below) and subsequent (Ionic) contraction of the two vowels to secondary long e, represented as -ei-.

[ back ] 48. It was the discovery of the Linear-B name that actually led to the interpretation of the Ionic form Neíleōs; I have reversed this order in my discussion of the Ionic and Mycenaean forms to emphasize the role of the Neleids of Miletus, which I believe is of primary importance.

[ back ] 49. PY Fn 79.5; see Mühlestein 1965:157n14 for the wide agreement on the interpretation of this name (Ventris and Chadwick, Palmer, Heubeck); cf. Frame 1978:82–83. There are grounds for thinking that intervocalic -h- from intervocalic -s- was still retained in Mycenaean pronunciation (thus Nehe- from Nese-), but the feature was not normally noted in Linear-B spelling (hence ne-e-); cf. Palmer 1963:44. It should also be emphasized that the second half of the name, ra-wo, interpreted as lawos, “warfolk,” is not isolated, but is paralleled in the name a-ke-ra-wo, which is interpreted as Age-lawos, “he who leads the warfolk” (or possibly Arkhe-lawos, “he who rules the warfolk”); see Ventris and Chadwick 1973:529 for occurrences of this name; see Chadwick and Baumbach 1963:216–217 for other evidence of laós as the first element in Mycenaean compounds.

[ back ] 50. The name, which is in the dative, belongs to the recipient of an allotment of grain and olives. Sergent 1982:25, arguing that there was a noble génos of Neleids in Pylos, proposes that this could be a “retired” official of royal rank.

[ back ] 51. The vowel contraction that gave -ei- in Ionic would have given -ē- in Aeolic (as in Ionic keînos vs. Aeolic kē̂nos; cf. n1.44 above). Why the second half of the name, -laos, “warfolk,” became -leús, with the purely grammatical suffix -eús, is a problem; L. R. Palmer’s view that the name in -leús is a “short-form” of the name in -laos is the simplest and probably the best solution (Palmer 1956:9, 1963:80); for a less likely explanation by Marcello Durante see n1.54 below. For the actual process that gives the “short-form” in question, see Fick-Bechtel 1894:15–21, 373–377: names with two stems keep the entire first stem but only the beginning of the second stem, to which a new “pet-name ending” (“kosende Endung”) is added, as in e.g. Eurustheús from Euru-sthénēs, Menestheús from Mene-sthénēs (Fick-Bechtel 374; cf. also von Kamptz 1982:62, 125, 195, 209); in line with this pattern the name Nēleús keeps the full (Aeolic) form of the first element, -, but only the beginning of the second element (the l- of -laos). This etymology of Nēleús is accepted by e.g. Ruijgh 1988:164 (cf. also Ruijgh 1985:174 and 1967:369–370). The etymology is not accepted by e.g. Heubeck 1987, who regards Nēleús as similar in formation to Pēleús, Perseús, Tudeús, Atreús, etc., and who regards the patronymic Nēlēïádēs as similar in formation to Pēlēïádēs, Persēïádēs, etc. Heubeck’s view certainly has prima facie plausibilty, given the series of close formal parallels. But just as Nēleús can be explained apart from other bisyllabic names in -eús, so too the patronymic Nēlēïádēs can be explained on its own. The regular patronymic suffix in Homer is -ídēs, of which there are more than 30 examples after a second-declension name like Nehelāwos (Priamídēs, Dardanídēs, Aiakídēs, Aiolídēs, etc.). The ending -ïádēs most likely developed from -ídēs when added to second-declension names in -ios by dissimilation of the vowel (e.g. *Asklēpïídēs > Asklēpïádēs in the patronymic of Asklḗpios) and was extended for metrical reasons to names in which a long syllable precedes the suffix (e.g. *Laertídēs > Laertïádēs in the patronymic from Laértēs; see Risch 1974:148–149). The patronymics Pēlēïádēs, Persēïádēs, etc., adduced by Heubeck are explained by the presence of such a long syllable before the suffix (original forms *Pēlēw-ídēs, *Persēw-ídēs, etc.) and so too is the hypothetical form *Nehelāw-ïádēs (original form *Nehelāwídēs). For the patronymic suffix -ïádēs added to a second-declension name like Nehelāwos, there are admittedly not as many parallels as there are for names in -eús, but there is one, namely Arētïádēs, the patronymic of Árētos. As regards Nēleús, there are no other “short-forms” in -leús from compounds in -laos to compare with it, so that it too is admittedly isolated among names in -eús (cf. Mühlestein 1965:164n48 for this point). For the anomalous patronymic Lampetídēs from the name Lámpos in Iliad 15.526, cf. n1.212 below and EN1.4 to n1.212.

[ back ] 52. Cf. Nilsson 1932:86, 143–144; Wilamowitz 2006:351–354.

[ back ] 53. Strabo 9.5.15 (form Nēlía in the manuscripts corrected to Nḗleia by Meineke); for the location, cf. Stählin RE ‘Neleia’ 2268–2269. For the relationship between the forms Nēleús and Nḗleia (Nēleús is the founding form, Nḗleia the founded form) cf. the pairs basileús and basíleia, “king” and “queen,” hiereús and hiéreia, “priest” and “priestess,” and see Chantraine 1933:103. For other evidence of the name Nēleús in Thessaly, see Sakellariou 1958:52 (a cult of Aphrodite Nḗleia in Magnesia, a fountain named Nḗleia in Hestiaiotis); cf. also von Kamptz 1982:125, who cites the similarly formed place-names Pḗleia, Túdeia, from Pēleús, Tudeús (both places are, like Nḗleia, in southern Thessaly; cf. Fick 1897:208, 1911:149–151, 1914:73).

[ back ] 54. By “Homeric times” I mean the period in which the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed on a monumental scale substantially as they exist today; in Part 4 below I define this period as the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC; cf. also n2.16 and n2.173 below. Durante 1967:35–41 has pointed out an important difference between the name Nēleús on the one hand and both the patronymic Nēlēïádēs and the patronymic adjective Nēlḗïos on the other hand. The difference is one of rhythm and it suggests that while the patronymics are deeply traditional in Homeric epic, the name Nēleús is not. All three forms contract the first two syllables of the underlying form Nehelawos (Nehe- > -), but the rhythm of the two patronymics, which excludes their first syllable from the first syllable of a foot, allows this syllable to be resolved into two short syllables in all cases (only in the late form Nēleḯdao in Iliad 23.652 is the first syllable first in a foot and therefore unresolvable). The name Nēleús, by contrast, has its first syllable first in a foot in seven of eleven Homeric occurrences. Durante concluded from this that the name behind the patronymic (originally Nehelawos) had been forgotten, and that the Homeric poets invented the name Nēleús as a back formation from the adjective Nēlḗïos on the model of such Homeric pairs as Odusseús:Odussḗïos. I was initially attracted to this idea (cf. Frame 1978:97), but I now reject it for two reasons: first, the Thessalian place-name Nḗleia indicates that Nēleús was the true Aeolic form of this hero’s name (Nḗleia is derived from Nēleús and not the reverse, pace Sakellariou 1958:51n1; see n1.53 above); secondly, the Neleids of Miletus demonstrably did not forget the original form of their original ancestor’s name (Neíleōs < Nehelawos), but applied it to a more recent ancestor. The significance of Durante’s observation is that the use of the Aeolic form of the name Neleus in epic is not as old as the use of the patronymics, and this I think is certainly true. Ι surmise that in pre-Homeric epic the form of the name was non-Aeolic Neélaos < Nehelawos (by way of example note that in Odyssey 11.254, telling how Tyro gave birth to twin sons, the line-end Πελίην τέκε καὶ Νηλῆα can be recast as Πελίην τέκε καὶ Νεέλαον). When epic replaced Neélaos with Nēleús, the change from Nee- to - in the patronymics followed automatically.

[ back ] 55. See n1.54 above for the name Nēleús as relatively recent in epic. For Neileos and Neleus as distinct figures by the late eighth or early seventh century BC, cf. Herda 1998:16; Erika Simon (LIMC ‘Neleus’ 728) also stresses that both figures must have had hero cults.

[ back ] 56. Cf. n1.20 above. Högemann 2001:61 succinctly sketches an Ionian migration that took place over considerable time in impoverished circumstances and had no single point of origin, although Boeotia and Thessaly stand out; leadership, on the other hand, fell to Ionic speakers from Euboea and Attica: “The ‘Ionian colonization’ was not a one-time enterprise, but a process that demonstrably began in the Protogeometric period (about 900 BC), as in Miletus, and came to an end only in the Homeric period. The ‘colonization’ also did not leave from a single city or region, not from Pylos, and not from Achaea or Athens, but the immigrants came from many regions of an impoverished and backward Greece, above all from Boeotia and Thessaly, and thus from the northern Mycenaean world; those who set the tone, however, were the Ionic speaking inhabitants of Euboea and Attica” (“Die ‘Ionische Kolonisation’ war…kein punktuelles Unternehmen, sondern ein Prozess, der in protogeometrischer Zeit (vor 900) nachweisbar begann, so in Milet, und erst in homerischer Zeit zum Abschluss kam. Die ‘Kolonisation’ nahm auch nicht von einer eizigen Stadt/Landschaft ihren Ausgang, nicht von Pylos, nicht von Achaia oder Athen, sondern aus vielen Gegenden des verarmten und zurückgefallenen Griechenland kamen die Einwanderer, vor allem aber aus Boiotien und Thessalien, also aus der nordmykenischen Welt; tonangebend wurden aber die ionischsprachigen Bewohner Euboias und Attikas”).

[ back ] 57. Pelias inherited the kingdom of Iolkos from his stepfather Kretheus (see n1.23 above). When Pelias was killed by Medea, Akastos, the son of Pelias, inherited the kingdom and exiled Jason and Medea to Corinth (Jason was the grandson of Kretheus through Aison); cf. “Apollodorus” 1.9.27.

[ back ] 58. Kodros himself was the son of Melanthos, a refugee from Pylos who went to Athens at the time of the Dorian invasion (the return of the Herakleidai) and won the kingship there by prevailing as the Athenians’ champion in a border war with the Boeotians; Melanthos was the fourth descendant of Periklymenos, the son of Neleus. Kodros was famous for his sacrificial death, by which he prevented the Dorians from conquering Athens (Hellanicus FGrHist 323a F 23; cf. Herodotus 5.76, who connects the Dorian invasion of Attica in which Kodros fell with the Dorian foundation of Megara).

[ back ] 59. The line of Medontidai was the subject of much historical reconstruction by Atthidographers (see n4.150 below). The line must have ended by 683/2 BC, when the list of annual archons (who replaced the former rulers) begins. The last Medontid ruler was said to be Hippomenes, who was connected with a place-name, Par’ híppon kaì kórēn, “By the horse and the maiden,” in Athens, and who was said to have been the last of his line to rule because of his cruelty (cf. n4.151 and n4.152 below). There followed (according to the Atthidographers) a succession of lifelong archons and ten-year archons, until the annual archonship was instituted in 683/2 BC. There is inscriptional evidence for the name Medontídai in Athens, but the question is whether it refers to a phratry or a génos (see n4.150 and EN4.10 below).

[ back ] 60. Twin figures do not have to be called twins, as pointed out earlier (cf. Ward 1968:3, cited n1.24 above). Of the two sons of Kodros Hellanicus FGrHist 323a F 23 calls Medon the older (presbúteros) and Neleus (sic) the younger (neṓteros); even between twins one is of course older and the other younger, but that issue is not raised. Pausanias 7.2.1 calls Medon and Neileus the eldest sons of Kodros (presbútatoi tō̂n Kódrou paídōn), setting them off as a pair without calling them twins (see below for further sons of Kodros). As is natural in the myth of twins who separate, Neleus and Pelias are said to have quarreled before they parted (“Apollodorus” 1.9.9); this motif is found again in the myth of Neileos and Medon, who, according to Pausanias 7.2.1, quarreled about the kingship because Medon, the elder, was lame in one foot and Neileus did not wish to be ruled by him; when the Delphic oracle chose Medon, Neileus left Athens and founded Miletus. In addition to Medon and Neileos, his oldest sons, Kodros was given other sons. The additional “sons of Kodros” (Kodrídai) were said to have founded a number of the other cities of the dodecapolis besides Miletus. The addition of these Kodrids to the basic set of twins is to be explained in the same way as the tradition for the twelve sons of Neleus, which was grafted onto an earlier twin myth: both have to do with the formation of the dodecapolis, and the leading role of the Neleids of Miletus in that formation. The myth of Kodrid founders was coeval with the myth of the twelve sons of Neleus (see discussion §4.1–§4.10 below); they were parallel myths meant to address the same issue from different perspectives and for different purposes.

[ back ] 61. The bizarre myth of Peiro, also called Elegeis, is found in two entries of the Etymologicum Magnum. Under “Elegēḯs” this is said to be the name of the daughter of Neleus, the leader of the Ionian colonization of Caria, whose proper name is Peiro. The name Elegeis is connected with a verb elegaínein, glossed as akolastaínein, “be licentious,” and the comment is added: “for this reason (dió) none of the Athenians wished to marry her.” Another entry, “aselgaínein,” says that the verb in question means properly “have unnatural intercourse with women,” but is also used of any sort of lewd behavior (akolastaínein). The verb aselgaínein is equated with the verb elegaínein, which is said to come from Elegeis, the name of the Attic woman who first invented the particular perversion. The entry concludes: “Elegeis, the daughter of Neleus, was dissolute (ásōtos); her father heard her beating her genitals and shouting: ‘Seek, seek a big man…who will take you to Miletus, a woe for the Carians’ ” (ἧς καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἤκουσεν ἐπικροτούσης τὸ αἰδοῖον καὶ βοώσης, Δίζεο δίζεο δὴ μέγαν ἄνδρα ἀ[…] ὅς σ' ἐπὶ Μίλητον κατάξει πήματα Καρσί [Gaisford ad loc. emends the two verses, both of which are corrupt, as follows: Δίζεο δίζεο δὴ μέγαν ἄνδρα ἀπόπροθι πάτρης / ὅστ’ ἐπὶ Μίλητόν σε κατάξει πήματα Καρσί]). The vocalism of the name Peirṓ should be noted since it parallels that of Ionic Neíleōs, and the two names are thus distinguished from the names Pērṓ and Nēleús in the same way. Peiro would thus seem to be the Ionic equivalent of an Aeolic Pero. With regard to the perversion of the old myth of Pero in the new myth of Peiro, see Part 4 below for a possible context, namely the rivalry of Ephesus with Miletus for leadership of the dodecapolis. If Ephesus perverted Miletus’s foundation myth, it would not be the only such instance (see §4.10–§4.11 below). I would suggest Pherekydes as the source of the Peiro myth rather than the Ionica of Panyassis, which Robertson 1988:244–245 proposes (see §4.10 below). Robertson, on the other hand, seems to me right to connect the Elegeis myth with a rite of Demeter in Eleusis other than the Mysteries (see n1.43 above for the foundation of a cult of Eleusinian Demeter on Cape Mykale by Philistos, a follower of Neileos in the colonization of Miletus, Herodotus 9.97).

[ back ] 62. Durante 1967:36 cites as examples the philosopher krátēs, the son of phronískos, and the orator Lukoûrgos, the son of Lukóphrōn.

[ back ] 63. Just as the idea arose that Plato was flat-headed because his name is connected with the adjective platús, “flat” (Diogenes Laertius 3.4), one could argue that a real king Nestor was made in epic to act in terms of the Indo-European twin myth because of his name. I repeat that I am skeptical of this.

[ back ] 64. In Homer the name Nēleús may have been connected by paronomasia with the adjective nēleḗs, “pitiless,” as it was in later antiquity (cf. “Herodian” Epimerismoi p. 92.4 Boissonade): according to Odyssey 15 Neleus held the property of Melampus for a year while Melampus won Pero for Bias, and Melampus, upon his return, somehow repaid this “wicked deed” (etísato érgon aeikés); does this story perhaps present Neleus as “pitiless”? A modern line of scholarship has accepted the etymology of Nēleús as “the pitiless one” and interpreted the figure as originally a god of the underworld like Hades, who is described in Hesiod Theogony 456 as nēleès ē̂tor ékhōn, “having a pitiless heart” (a similar phrase is used of Achilles in Iliad 9.497). This line of interpretation starts from the premise that Pylos was not originally a city, but an entrance to the underworld (see e.g. Wilamowitz 1931:337–338, and, with bibliography, Sakellariou 1958:50–51, Càssola 1957:92). Although I do not think that “pitiless” is the original meaning of the name Nēleús, there certainly was an ancient current of thought that already in Homer equated Pylos with the “gates” (púlai) of Hades, for Heracles is said to have wounded Hades “in Pylos among the corpses” (en Púlōi en nekúessi) in Iliad 5.397. It has been pointed out that already in the Linear-B texts from Pylos there is a considerable number of names having a connection with Hades (Mühlestein 1965:164n49).

[ back ] 65. The meaning of Ionic Neíleōs (< Mycenaean Nehelawos) could, I think, have remained alive in the Homeric period. The pattern of names like Agéleōs (Odyssey 22.131, 247) would still have been perceptible in Neíleōs/*Neélaos (cf. n1.54 above for a presumed name *Neélaos in pre-Homeric epic, and note that in Homer there is still an equivalence between -ei- and -ee- in pairs like contracted ἐφίλει and uncontracted φιλέεσθε; cf. Chantraine 1958:39). See below for the crucial question whether the verbal element in Neíleōs/*Neélaos, like the verbal element in Agéleōs, retained its meaning in the Homeric period (for Agéleōs as a “significant name” in the Odyssey see Haubold 2000:123–124).

[ back ] 66. The form anései can only be the future of a compound verb from the root *sed- of Greek hízō, “to seat,” and hézomai, “to sit,” but the meaning of the compound verb, which is found only in a few aorist forms in Homer, is “to set upon,” as in Iliad 13.657: es díphron d’ anésantes, “setting (a wounded warrior) upon a chariot,” and this meaning is wholly inappropriate in Odyssey 18.265. The form anései must have been understood as the future of the verb aníēmi, which means “release” (as in ánesán te púlas, “and they opened the gates,” in Iliad 21.537) and is thus vaguely appropriate in Odyssey 18.265 (“I do not know whether the god will release me or I shall die”), but the future of aníēmi is always anḗsei, with a long vowel, and thus cannot have been what was originally intended in this verse. Cf. Frame 1978:99–102.

[ back ] 67. See n1.66 above, and Frame 1978:102.

[ back ] 68. Greek néomai has an exact cognate in the Sanskrit middle verb násate, “approach, resort to, join,” in which the context of a “safe return home” seems no longer present. Both Greek and Sanskrit also have reduplicated verbs from the root *nes-: Greek nís(s)omai, “go,” Sanskrit níṃsate, “kiss”; the Sanskrit meaning “kiss” looks like a further development from the meanings “approach, resort to, join” of násate. For astam, “home,” reconstructed as*n̥s-tam (root *nes- of násate), see Mayrhofer 1956–1980 s.v. This form indicates that the context “return home” can be reconstructed for Sanskrit násate in line with Greek néomai; cf. Benveniste’s reconstruction of the meaning of the IE root *nes- as “revenir à un état familier” (Benveniste 1966:172).

[ back ] 69. Note also oíkadeneṓmetha in Iliad 2.236, 16.205. The verb’s second context (see below in text) must also be specified in Greek; Durante 1976:80 points out that in both Greek and Sanskrit verbs have a large range of meaning that must be specified in context, and that this characteristic distinguishes the two languages. See §1.27 below on Germanic, where, in the case of the cognate verb, one context is generalized to the exclusion of the other.

[ back ] 70. See Frame 1978:6–24 for a full discussion of this form and its place in the formulaic diction of Homeric epic. The root aorist found in Greek ásmenos has a Vedic correspondence in the first person plural optative [sam-]nasīmahi, RV 2.16.8; see García Ramón 2004:34, 43. García Ramón argues that in Iliad 2.629 and Odyssey 15.254 the sigmatic aorist ἀπενάσσατο, which in these lines must mean “went away,” is from néomai and not from naíō, “dwell” (nas- for as- from the zero-grade of the root would be accounted for by analogy with the syllabification of present néomai, the same explanation as for Vedic [sam-]nasīmahi in relation to present násate), and he argues further, pp. 42–43, that in Greek the root aorist (*ἄστο) was replaced by this sigmatic aorist ([ἀπε-]νάσσατο). If this argument is correct the participle ásmenoi no longer belonged to a paradigm in Homeric Greek. For further reasons to think that this was the case see below.

[ back ] 71. See Frame 1978:24–28 for a discussion of the semantic development.

[ back ] 72. The Ciconians, Odyssey 9.62–63, Cyclops, Odyssey 9.565–566, and Laestrygonians, Odyssey 10.133–134.

[ back ] 73. Circe, who sends Odysseus and his companions to the underworld and receives them back, calls them disthanées, “dying twice” (Odyssey 12.22).

[ back ] 74. In my earlier study I used Mircea Eliade’s Patterns in Comparative Religion for a cross-cultural perspective on solar myth (Frame 1978:22, 32 for quotations of Eliade 1958). The key point is that the sun in setting is thought to pass through death without actually dying, unlike the moon, which in waxing and waning is actually thought to die.

[ back ] 75. Circe is associated with both west and east (sunset and sunrise) and thus both ushers the hero into and receives him back from the underworld. In Odyssey 12.1–4, when Odysseus returns from the underworld, Circe’s association with the dawn is highlighted; on the other hand, Hesiod Theogony 1011–1016, locates Circe in the west among the Etruscans. In Odyssey 10.190–192, when Odysseus first arrives in Circe’s land, the confusion between east and west is itself highlighted. See Frame 1978:47–53 for a discussion of Circe, especially p. 50 for the suggestion that the name Kírkē means “circle, ring,” with reference to the movement of the sun.

[ back ] 76. For the destructive aspect of solar myth, see Eliade 1958:136–137. In the Odyssey Helios has both cattle and sheep (Odyssey 12.127–130); for the sheep of Helios, cf. also Homeric Hymn to Apollo 411–413 and the story of Euenios in Herodotus 9.93–94 (both discussed in Frame 1978:43–44, 46–47).

[ back ] 77. The meaning of the Germanic root *nes- is reconstructed as “return to life” (“zum Leben zurückkehren”) by Feist 1939 s.v. ganisan. Gothic ganisan, “be saved,” is the equivalent of modern German genesen. The contexts of the Gothic verb, which is used to translate Greek sṓzesthai, include recovery from illness, which was generalized in the case of modern German genesen, “get well”; cf. Mark 5.23, ἵνα σωθῇ καὶ ζήσῃ, ei ganisai jah libai (“that she may get well and live”). In addition to an intransitive verb from the root *nes- (Gothic ganisan, modern German genesen), Germanic had a causative verb found in all three branches of Germanic, including Gothic nasjan, “save,” Old English nerian, “save,” and modern German nähren, “feed”; the underlying notion in the causative verb is “bring back to life.” See Frame 1978:126–132 for a full discussion of the Germanic evidence, including Nordic forms of the causative verb. For solar myth as the context of the meaning “return to life” of the IE root *nes-, the main comparison with Greek is Vedic (see below on the Vedic twins) rather than Germanic (but see Frame 1978:129–130 for a suggestive context of Old English nerian, “save,” in Beowulf 569ff.).

[ back ] 78. Thus Iliad 14.108: emoì dé ken asménōi eíē, “it would be pleasing to me,” “I would be happy with that.” For the semantic development from “having returned” to “happy” of Homeric ásmenos see Frame 1978:24–28: instances in which classical Greek ásmenos, “happy,” occurs in the context of a “return to the light” (e.g. Herodotus 8.14.1, Plato Cratylus 418c, Euripides Heracles 524) still suggest the semantic connection; Greek pháos, “light,” has the metaphorical meanings “deliverance” and “happiness” (see LSJ s.v.; Tarrant 1960:182), which are also taken into account (cf. Euripides Bacchae 608–609 and Ion 1437–1439, where pháos in this metaphorical use is collocated with forms of ásmenos).

[ back ] 79. In this line Achilles refers to Aeneas, who through Aphrodite’s help has escaped him.

[ back ] 80. In the Cyclops episode, which is more complex than the Ciconian and Laestrygonian episodes, the adaptation of the refrain occurs a hundred lines before the refrain itself; whereas the refrain concludes the entire episode (Odyssey 9.565–566), the adaptation of the refrain occurs when Odysseus and his companions escape from the Cyclops’s cave and return to their ship, where the companions who await them then grieve for those lost in the cave (Odyssey 9.466–467):

                    ἀσπάσιοι δὲ φίλοισ' ἑτάροισι φάνημεν,
οἳ φύγομεν θάνατον· τοὺς δὲ στενάχοντο γοῶντες.
                    We were a welcome sight to our dear companions,
those of us who escaped death; the others they groaned and wept for.

The contrast between those who returned and those who were lost is again clear. The verb óllumi is not used in this case of those who were lost, but is merely implied. As in the other two episodes, what was once a “return from death” in the traditional refrain has in the adaptation become an “escape from death” (thánaton phúgomen). The adjective aspásioi is again used in connection with those who escaped, although more loosely than in the Laestrygonian episode. It is again the phrase “having returned from death,” now understood as “happy from death,” that seems to have called forth the adjective aspásioi, “welcome,” in this looser adaptation of the traditional refrain.

[ back ] 81. Odyssey 10.492, 538–540.

[ back ] 82. Not all Homeric manuscripts include this line and the one before it in Circe’s speech. Of the hardships that await Odysseus on his nóstos Teiresias speaks only of the cattle of Helios (Odyssey 11.104–115). Circe, after hearing from Odysseus what he learned in the underworld (Odyssey 12.35), tells him what he will encounter on the way to the cattle of Helios (Odyssey 12.39–126); she ends by repeating verbatim what Teiresias said about the cattle, that if he harms them, he will lose his companions and ship, and that if he manages to escape himself, he will return home late and in evil condition (Odyssey 12.139–141):

εἰ δέ κε σίνηαι, τότε τοι τεκμαίρομ' ὄλεθρον
[νηΐ τε καὶ ἑτάροισ'. αὐτὸς δ' εἴ πέρ κεν ἀλύξῃς,
ὀψὲ κακῶς νεῖαι, ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους.]

But if you should harm them I foresee destruction
[for your ship and companions; if you yourself should escape,
you will return late and in bad condition, having lost all your companions.]

[ back ] 83. There are three adaptations of the line, in Odyssey 2.174, 9.534, and 13.340. In each case Odysseus’s ultimate loss of all his companions is expressed with the same phrase (ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους, 9.534, 13.340; ὀλέσαντ' ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους, 2.174); the idea that Odysseus will himself “return” also remains constant, but with more variety of expression, and without the implication of a “return to life” of Teiresias’s prophecy. When Athena meets with Odysseus soon after his arrival on the shores of Ithaca, she says that she knew all along that he would “return home” (ᾔδε', ὃ νοστήσεις, ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους, Odyssey 13.340), as he has now done. Reaching “home” is made entirely explicit when the Cyclops curses the fleeing Odysseus, praying to Poseidon that if Odysseus is fated “to see his dear ones and reach his well-built home and his fatherland” (Odyssey 9.532–533), “may he come late and in evil condition” (ὀψὲ κακῶς ἔλθοι, ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους, Odyssey 9.534). In Odyssey 2 the prophet Halitherses recalls to the suitors that he once foretold that Odysseus, who was about to leave for Troy, would “come home (οἴκαδ' ἐλεύσεσθαι) in the twentieth year unrecognized by all, having suffered many woes and having lost all his companions” (Odyssey 2.174–176):

φῆν κακὰ πολλὰ παθόντ', ὀλέσαντ' ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους,
ἄγνωστον πάντεσσιν ἐεικοστῷ ἐνιαυτῷ
οἴκαδ' ἐλεύσεσθαι.

I declared that he would come home
having suffered many evils, having lost all his companions,
unrecognized by all, in the twentieth year.

Here the three words ὀψὲ κακῶς νεῖαι, “you will return late and in bad condition,” of Teiresias’s prophecy are each elaborated and expanded upon: opsé, “late,” is specified as eeikostō̂i eniautō̂i, “in the twentieth year,” kakō̂s, “in bad condition,” is expanded into kakà pollà pathónt’, “having suffered many evils,” and neîai, “you will return,” is recast as oíkad’ eleúsesthai, “he would come home.” Halitherses’ speech retains the context of prophecy of Teiresias’s speech, but like the other two adaptations of Teiresias’s speech this one lacks the implication of a “return to life.” See Frame 1978:13–15 for a detailed analysis of the relationship between the single line of Teiresias’s prophecy and its three adaptations. I emphasize that only the traditional line with the phrase opsè kakō̂s neîai exactly fills one line: the adaptation in Odyssey 13.340 is shorter than a full line (the phrase ᾔδε', ὃ, “I knew that…,” occupies the beginning of the line); the adaptation in Odyssey 2.174–176 is expanded into two and a half lines; and the adaptation in Odyssey 9.534 (with the verb élthoi, “may he come,” for the traditional neîai, “you will return”) depends on the two previous lines for the sense of coming “home” in the Cyclops’s curse.

[ back ] 84. As we have seen, this verb answers to the verb aponéesthai, “return home,” earlier in Odysseus’s speech.

[ back ] 85. For one such context see below on Odyssey 15.300, an adaptation of the traditional line Odyssey 18.265.

[ back ] 86. The full phrase thanátōi…halō̂nai, “to be caught by death,” occurs three times in Homer, twice in the line: νῦν δέ με λευγαλέῳ θανάτῳ εἵμαρτο ἁλῶναι, “but I was fated now to be caught by a wretched death” (Odyssey 5.312 = Iliad 21.281), once in the line: νῦν δ' ἄρα σ' οἰκτίστῳ θανάτῳ εἵμαρτο ἁλῶναι, “but you were fated now to be caught by a most pitiable death” (Odyssey 24.34); cf. Frame 1978:104.

[ back ] 87. See §1.26 and n1.74 above for the hero’s safe passage through death in the context of solar myth. For the notion of being “caught” by death, cf. Hesiod Theogony 765–766, where Thánatos, “death,” is depicted as “seizing” and “holding” its victims: ἔχει δ' ὃν πρῶτα λάβῃσιν / ἀνθρώπων, “he holds whomever of men he first seizes.” For the verb halō̂nai, “be caught,” in the context of a “return from death” there is a striking piece of evidence in Pindar Pythian 3.56–57, where Asklepios is criticized for an unholy deed, namely “bringing back from death a man already caught”: ἄνδρ' ἐκ θανάτου κομίσαι / ἤδη ἁλωκότα. The perfect participle halōkóta is ambiguous, for it could mean “having died” in accord with the elliptical usage of halō̂nai, “to die,” in Homer. But Pindar may well have in mind the literal meaning of halōkóta, “having been caught,” for in this passage the ellipsis of “by death” is exactly the same as in Odyssey 18.265; the only difference is that what is implicit in the verb nései in Homer (namely a return from death) is explicit in the phrase ek thanátou komísai, “bring back from death,” in Pindar. The passages of Hesiod and Pindar are discussed in Frame 1978:105n43 and 108–109.

[ back ] 88. The case for the semantic development “to die” of the verb halō̂nai is presented in more detail in Frame 1978:103–109. The case includes consideration of the meaning “to kill” of Homeric hairéō, “to seize,” as in the formulaic phrase hélen ándra(s) (in six of seven occurrences of this phrase hélen means “killed”; it means “seized” only in Odyssey 24.441: táphos d’ hélen ándra hékaston, “amazement seized each man”). Cf. also Iliad 11.738 (quoted n1.93 below) where hélon, “I killed,” contrasts with kómissa, “I took.” The verbs hairéō and halískomai (aorist halō̂nai) are an antithetical pair (cf. their meanings “convict” and “be convicted” in Attic legal usage); the artificial meaning “to die” of halō̂nai, I suggest, gave rise to the corresponding artificial meaning “to kill” of hairéō, which is again limited to the Homeric Kunstsprache in Greek. If the meaning “kill” of hairéō, in line with the meaning “be killed” of halískomai, is to be laid ultimately to the account of the line containing the phrase me nései, “will bring me back to life,” it is a further sign of how traditional this line was.

[ back ] 89. In Odyssey 18.265, as previously discussed, the two alternatives, “whether the god will bring me back (from death) or I shall be caught (by death),” make perfect sense with this literal interpretation of the verb halō̂nai, “be caught.” But in the adaptation of this line in Odyssey 15.300 the alternatives are no longer clear. The alternatives in this line are “to escape death” or “to be caught,” and it is not clear, in spite of the close proximity of the word thánaton, whether “to be caught” means to be caught “by death” (i.e. “to die”), or to be caught by the human agents in the situation, namely the evil-minded suitors. It is only the fact that the meaning “to die” of halō̂nai had established itself in the Homeric Kunstsprache that makes it certain that “to die” is meant in Odyssey 15.300. I take this as a further sign that Odyssey 15.300 is the adaptation and Odyssey 18.265 is the highly traditional model, and that the verb nései of the model originally meant “will bring back from death.” It is not clear what the wording of the first foot and a half of this traditional line was, other than that uncertainty was expressed; the phrase tō̂i ouk oîd’ in 18.265 could have been the model for hormaínōn in 15.300, but this was not necessarily the case.

[ back ] 90. Frame 1978:94–95.

[ back ] 91. Cf. §1.26 above.

[ back ] 92. The names Agamḗdē and Mḗdeia, both containing the root of the verb mḗdomai, “plan, devise,” are themselves closely related. The name Augeías is from augḗ, “bright light, radiance,” as in the frequent Homeric formula hup’ augàs ēelíoio, “under the rays of the sun” (cf. Frame 1978:88–89). In post-Homeric tradition Augeias is called the son of Helios; this makes Agamede, like Medeia, a granddaughter of Helios.

[ back ] 93. In the battle following Nestor’s cattle raid Nestor immediately slays the leader of the Epeian horsemen, Moulios, who is the husband of Agamede, and it is here that Agamede’s knowledge of drugs is described (Iliad 11.738–741):

πρῶτος ἐγὼν ἕλον ἄνδρα, κόμισσα δὲ μώνυχας ἵππους,
Μούλιον αἰχμητήν· γαμβρὸς δ' ἦν Αὐγείαο,
πρεσβυτάτην δὲ θύγατρ' εἶχε ξανθὴν Ἀγαμήδην,
ἣ τόσα φάρμακα ᾔδη ὅσα τρέφει εὐρεῖα χθών.

I was the first to slay a man, and I took his solid-hoofed horses,
the spearman Moulios; he was the son-in-law of Augeias
and had his oldest daughter, golden-haired Agamede,
who knew as many drugs as the wide earth grows.

In Iliad 11.698–702 Augeias deprives Neleus of the horses and chariot sent to Elis to compete for prizes; for this episode see below §5.45–§5.46.

[ back ] 94. The cattle of Augeias are closely equated with the cattle of Helios in Theocritus 25.118–121, 129–131 (see Frame 1978:89–90).

[ back ] 95. Nestor’s other story of his exploits among the Epeians concerns his participation in the funeral games at Bouprasion of a figure named Amarunkeús (Iliad 23.629–642); the name of this Epeian figure is related to the verb amarússō, “sparkle, shine,” and it thus indicates as much as does the name Augeías a context of solar myth. The report in Pausanias 4.36.2–3 of a cave near the Messenian city of Pylos in which the cattle of Neleus and Nestor were said to have been stabled is also suggestive of solar myth; cf. the sheep stabled in the Cyclops’s cave; the sheep of Helios stabled in a cave in Apollonia in the story of Euenios (Herodotus 9.93–94); and the sacred sheep of Helios on Cape Tainaron, where an entrance to the underworld was said to be (see Frame 1978:43–44, 46–47, 90–93).

[ back ] 96. Frame 1978:113–115.

[ back ] 97. The title of my Ph.D. dissertation was The Origins of Greek ΝΟΥΣ (Frame 1971); cf. §1.5 above.

[ back ] 98. KN V 962; Ventris and Chadwick 1973:591.

[ back ] 99. Mycenaean Greek preserves original -w- in all positions (note the initial consonant of Wiphinoos, lost in classical Greek Iphínoos).

[ back ] 100. Sanskrit has a root *nei̯- in the verb náyati, “lead” and the noun naya-. The noun, whose meanings include “behavior” and “worldly wisdom,” has been proposed as an exact comparison for Greek nóos, “mind,” but the absence of the root in Greek and the large semantic gap between the Greek and Sanskrit nouns make this comparison unlikely.

[ back ] 101. Intervocalic -s- was lost in Greek before the Mycenaean stage; at this stage -h- was still present in pronunciation but not normally noted in the writing system (thus ne-e-ra-wo = Nehelawos < *Neselawos). Intervocalic -y- was also lost before the Mycenaean stage. I must point out that for now I have ignored the possibility that the second element of the name Wiphinoos has no relation to the noun nóos. The name has been convincingly interpreted as containing a verbal element -noos from the root *nes- and thus as meaning “bringing back by his force” (see Mühlestein 1965:157; as a parallel for the o-grade of -noos Mühlestein cites Hippóthoos, in which -thoos contains the root of théō, “run” [IE *dheu̯-]; cf. also the Homeric epithet laossóos, “inciting the warfolk,” related to seúō, “incite” [IE *ki̯eu̯-]; for the derivation of the epithet see Frisk 1960–1972, Chantraine 1999, s.v. σεύομαι). The question is whether this verbal element is related to the noun nóos. I am convinced that it is, but the derivation of nóos from *nes- has not yet been established (see §1.38–§1.41 below for a correction of my own earlier argument), and new attempts continue to be made to connect nóos with the root *neu̯- of Greek neúō, “nod” (Krischer 1984, Heubeck 1987:236–238); these attempts, as I hope to show, are illusory and should be abandoned.

[ back ] 102. See Frame 1978:28–31 (with references to Snell 1931:77, von Fritz 1943:88 and 1945:223; cf. n1.105 below).

[ back ] 103. The phrase oxù nóēse, “he/she perceived sharply,” which occurs eight times in the Iliad (six times in the conditional clause ei mḕ ár’ oxù nóēse, “if he/she had not perceived sharply”), is used when someone sees a danger and acts to avert it.

[ back ] 104. Specifically in the context of the Indo-European twin myth (see Chapter 3 below). For “intelligence” as an important aspect of solar myth, cf. Eliade 1958:124, 150-151 on the role of rationality and a rational elite in the further evolution of solar myth where it occurs; cf. also Frame 1978:32.

[ back ] 105. For nóos as a “perceiving” that is equivalent to a “bringing back to life and light,” cf. von Fritz 1943:89, who describes noeîn in contrast to vision as a “truer recognition which…penetrates below the visible surface to the real essence of the contemplated object,” and 1945:224, where he refers to a “νόος which penetrates beyond the surface appearance [and] discovers the real truth about the matter”; Snell 1931:77 earlier wrote: “Νοεῖν stands…in close relation to the organ of the eye. But in the word the function of the eye (seeing) appears as separated from the organ. Νοεῖν is a ‘seeing,’ but a ‘mental’ seeing” (“Das νοεῖν steht…in naher Beziehung zum Organ des Auges. Nur dass die Funktion des Auges (das Sehen) in dem Wort erscheint als abgelöst von dem Organ. Das νοεῖν is ein ‘Sehen,’ aber ein ‘geistiges’ Sehen”). Snell and von Fritz have been criticized for identifying nóos too closely with sense perception, and for excluding mental reflection from the semantics of the Homeric word (cf. Lesher 1981:9–20 and 1994:1–10). I agree that mental reflection takes place in Homer and that it should not be divorced from the semantics of Homeric vocabulary. My interest is in etymology, which is different from synchronic meaning, but which can still have an unusual relevance in a conservative medium like Homeric epic. As will be argued in Part 2 below, the reconstructed meaning of nóos as a “bringing back to life and light” has such heightened relevance for key episodes in Nestor’s Homeric role. For the formal pattern of the proposed sequence néō > nóos > noéō, cf. such parallels as phérō > phóros > phoréō and phébomai > phóbos > phobéō (unless phoréō and phobéō are deverbative rather than denominative verbs: Chantraine 1961:240 considers it impossible to determine whether phoréō is an iterative from phérō or a denominative from phóros; Frisk thinks that phobéō was originally causative but later functioned as a denominative; Chantraine 1961:240 also entertains this possibility). For Ruijgh’s suggestion to compare noéō directly with the Gothic causative nasjan, see Frame 1978:30n27. This is a formal possibility, but there is no reason to abandon the usual interpretation of noéō as a denominative from nóos; Chantraine 1999 s.v. νόος points out that the meaning of noéō corresponds exactly to that of nóos.

[ back ] 106. See below §2.48–§2.52 and §2.68–§2.70.

[ back ] 107. Both passages are discussed in Frame 1978:84–85; a third less distinctive passage may also be mentioned: in Iliad 4 Nestor concludes his tactical instructions to his Pylian warriors as follows (Iliad 4.308–309):

ὧδε καὶ οἱ πρότεροι πόλεας καὶ τείχε' ἐπόρθεον
τόνδε νόον καὶ θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσιν ἔχοντες.

Thus did earlier men sack cities and walls,
with this mind and spirit in their breasts.

[ back ] 108. The second line in the above passage (Iliad 9.104) is similar to another line, Iliad 7.358 and 12.232: οἶσθα καὶ ἄλλον μῦθον ἀμείνονα τοῦδε νοῆσαι, “You know how to think of another word better than this one.” This line is used when one speaker rejects another speaker’s proposal: in Iliad 7 Paris rejects Antenor’s proposal to return Helen to the Atreidai; in Iliad 12 Hector rejects Polydamas’s exhortation not to attack the Achaean ships. The change from mū̂thos to nóos in Iliad 9 in what amounts to Nestor’s definition of his own role is highly instructive.

[ back ] 109. The relationship between Nestor, who does not bring Odysseus home, and Alcinous, who does, is an important issue to be considered later (see Part 2, Chapter 7 below).

[ back ] 110. See Mühlestein 1965:158, who interprets Homeric Alkínoos (like Mycenaean Wiphinoos, cf. n1.101 above) as containing the root *nes-; Mühlestein notes the possibility that the noun nóos also contains the root *nes- (he cites the agreement of Alfred Heubeck and Ernst Risch on this point, 158n18), but he does not pursue the issue, which the formal evidence cannot resolve. Whatever etymological relationship there may be between such apparently similar Homeric forms as Alkínoos, “he who brings home with his might,” and ankhínoos, “close-minded, shrewd,” the two forms are of course semantically quite distinct. The question is whether the noun “mind” contained in ankhínoos is also perceived in Alkínoos, and this depends on whether the noun still has any verbal force.

[ back ] 111. He acts this out from a distance, to be sure: the sailors who take Odysseus home are his proxies. The Phaeacian ships, like the Phaeacian king, have a connection with nóos, being called “quick as an arrow or a thought (nóēma)”: τῶν νέες ὠκεῖαι ὡς εἰ πτερὸν ἠὲ νόημα (Odyssey 7.36).

[ back ] 112. From a formal standpoint nóos could be not only a nomen actionis but also a nomen rei actae: cf. the noun gónos (root *gen-), which means both a “begetting” (nomen actionis) and “that which is begotten, offspring” (nomen rei actae); on this analogy nóos could mean both a “bringing back” and “that which is brought back” (cf. Frame 1978:28n26). For the possible relevance of this to Odysseus I think of the reciprocal relationship between Alcinous (“he who brings back”) and Odysseus in Odysseus’s return home. However this may be, the role of intelligence in solar myth (cf. n1.104 above) remains in my view a dominant factor in the tradition behind Odysseus’s return. Sisyphus, who literally returns from death by his wits (Theognis 702–712), provides a striking parallel to Odysseus for the connection between intelligence and return (see Frame 1978:36–37). Other attempts to derive nóos from the IE root *nes- in an intransitive sense have been made by Frei 1968 (cf. Frame 1978:33n32) and (following Frei) Létoublon 1985:175–176. An exception in this regard is Ruijgh’s reconstruction of a transitive meaning (see n1.105 above).

[ back ] 113. Létoublon 1985:176 suggests that the noun nóstos was not created until the noun nóos had lost its connection with the verb néomai; this possibility would in fact allow both nouns to contain the root *nes- in an intransitive sense. But, as I will argue in Part 2 below, the Homeric noun nóos still has a connection with the root *nes- in a transitive sense (the name Néstōr is the key to this connection).

[ back ] 114. For this passage see below §2.49 and §2.51 and n2.57 and n2.63.

[ back ] 115. Frame 1978:69–73.

[ back ] 116. I have been careful to distinguish at each step of the argument what the Homeric poets still knew from what was embedded in traditional epic diction. The Homeric poets no longer knew the sacred meaning “return to life” of the root *nes-, but traditional epic diction preserved traces of this meaning. This is clearest in the case of the verb néomai because of its root aorist participle ásmenos and the formulaic usage of this participle. The same distinction between a sacred and a secular context of the root *nes- applies to the noun nóstos, the verb néō (nései), and the noun nóos. For none of these forms is a surface meaning “return to life”/“bring back to life” of the root *nes- still present. But while a sharp distinction between a sacred and a secular context can be made at the lexical level of these forms from *nes-, the distinction was probably far less sharp at the thematic level. By this I mean simply that a nóstos, while its meaning at the lexical level in the Odyssey was a “return home,” must have kept strong associations of a “return to life” at the thematic level because of the episodes that compose this nóstos, including a journey to the underworld, the return from the Cyclops’s cave, and the cattle of the sun. How far the same was true of the verb néō, the name Néstōr, and the noun nóos cannot be decided in the abstract but only in the context of actual episodes; the issue will return in Part 2 below.