Chapter 6. Odyssey 3 and Iliad 8

{172|173} §2.56 In the Odyssey Nestor is the same figure as in the Iliad except that he is now at home in Pylos ten years after the war. In the Iliad he is said to have outlived two generations of men and to rule in yet a third; in the Odyssey much the same is said of him. [71] In the Iliad, as we have seen, Nestor plays a large role of an unusual sort in the story of Patroclus. His role is based upon his own epic traditions concerning his youth, as he retells them in his advanced old age. In the Odyssey he is called on to tell another story, but not about his youth. Telemachus visits him to ask about his father, Odysseus, who has not returned to Ithaca in the ten years since the war ended, but whose death has also not been reported. Telemachus wants to hear what Nestor knows, either from direct observation or from hearsay. Nestor tells him, but his story is all about what he himself saw and experienced at first hand soon after the fall of Troy, when the Achaeans left for home. He then parted company with Odysseus, and he has heard nothing about him since. Telemachus thus learns little to encourage him, and he must wait until he visits Menelaus in Sparta to learn what Menelaus heard from Proteus, the old man of the sea, that Odysseus is still alive on Calypso’s island. [72]

§2.57 In the Iliad the stories about Nestor’s youth that relate to Patroclus are told in such a way as to conceal their true purpose and point. Their relevance is not on the surface of the poem, but just below the surface. Something similar is at work in Nestor’s account of the departure from Troy. In the Iliad what is deliberately withheld is Nestor’s myth, in which he does not save his warrior brother, but takes his place. In the Odyssey the same myth remains {173|174} the essence of the figure Nestor, and it explains what really took place when Nestor last saw Odysseus. What must also be kept in mind, however, is the meaning of Nestor’s name, for this is central to his role in the Odyssey. Néstōr is “he who brings home,” and when he parts company from Odysseus at the very moment of the Achaeans’ homecoming from Troy, he reenacts his own myth, for just as he did not save his brother, he does not bring Odysseus home. What the consequences of this are for Odysseus remain to be considered, but they do involve a kind of death, just as in the case of Nestor’s brother Periklymenos. Although Odysseus will return from this death it will not be by Nestor’s agency, but through others. In and of itself, Nestor’s role in the homecoming of Odysseus is a negative one based on his own myth, and this is the unspoken point of Odyssey 3.

§2.58 The key point in this, and the point with which we begin, is that a nóstos has an essential connection with the Indo-European twin myth. This is not an obvious point when we think of the return home from Troy of an entire army or its various contingents. Nestor too knows from hearsay how various contingents fared once they departed from Troy, and he passes this information on to Telemachus, mentioning the safe return of the Myrmidons under Achilles’ son, of Philoktetes, and of the Cretans under Idomeneus (Odyssey 3.186–192). But this is not the heart of his story. Phemios also sings of the “return of the Achaeans” to the suitors in Odyssey 1, and in the brief description of his song this return is characterized as a “grim” one (Odyssey 1.326–327):

ὁ δ' Ἀχαιῶν νόστον ἄειδε
λυγρόν, ὃν ἐκ Τροίης ἐπετείλατο Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη.

He sang of the Achaeans’ grim return,
which Pallas Athena ordained for them from Troy.

It is this grim return, brought on by Pallas Athena, that Nestor recounts first, and from firsthand experience, to Telemachus. If we follow his account in detail, we will find not only how the entire Achaean nóstos is conceived of in terms of the twin myth, but also how this myth relates to Nestor and Odysseus.

§2.59 When Telemachus begs Nestor to tell him the truth, if ever Odysseus carried out a promised word or deed for him at Troy, Nestor thinks first of the grief that the Achaeans suffered at Troy, which he recalls as the place of death for all the best of the Achaeans, and he names Ajax, Achilles, {174|175} Patroclus, and his own son Antilochus, who all perished there (Odyssey 3.103–112). As for the many other evils that they suffered at Troy, he could not tell them all if Telemachus stayed five or six years to ask about them (Odyssey 3.113–117). When Nestor goes on to mention the evils that for nine years the Achaeans devised against the Trojans “with all kinds of wiles” (pantoíoisi dóloisi, Odyssey 3.119), and that Zeus barely brought to completion, the way is prepared to introduce the subject of Odysseus, and of Nestor’s own relationship with Odysseus. No one, he says, wished to compete with Odysseus in mē̂tis (Odyssey 3.120), for he was by far the best “in all kinds of wiles” (pantoíoisi dóloisi, Odyssey 3.122). [73] After paying Telemachus a compliment for his own “seemly” speech, which is so like his father’s (Odyssey 3.122–125), Nestor says that during the war he and Odysseus never disagreed with each other in an assembly or a council, but “having one mind” (héna thumòn ékhonte) they counseled what was best for the Argives (Odyssey 3.126–129):

ἔνθ' ἦ τοι εἷος μὲν ἐγὼ καὶ δῖος Ὀδυσσεὺς
οὔτε ποτ' εἰν ἀγορῇ δίχ' ἐβάζομεν οὔτ' ἐνὶ βουλῇ,
ἀλλ' ἕνα θυμὸν ἔχοντε νόῳ καὶ ἐπίφρονι βουλῇ
φραζόμεθ' Ἀργείοισιν ὅπως ὄχ' ἄριστα γένοιτο.

During the time there shining Odysseus and I
never spoke on opposite sides in assembly or council,
but with one spirit, by intelligence and wise counsel,
we advised the Argives how what was best might come about.

§2.60 But things changed after Troy was captured, as is signaled by the word, autár, “however,” as Nestor’s story continues; what happened “during the war, on the one hand” (heîos mén, Odyssey 3.126) was not the same as what happened after the war (autàr epeí, “however, when,” Odyssey 3.130). But the significance of the word autár for the relationship between Nestor and Odysseus after the war had ended will not be brought out for another twenty-nine lines. First we will hear what befell the Achaeans as a whole after Troy was sacked. This is the story of the “grim return” of the Achaeans that Phemios began to tell in Book 1. In Nestor’s account, it was first of all Zeus who devised this “grim return” for the Argives, because of the wrongs committed by some of them. But, as in Phemios’s song, it was Athena, who, {175|176} because of her own anger, caused the actual destruction of many of the Achaeans (Odyssey 3.130–135):

αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ Πριάμοιο πόλιν διεπέρσαμεν αἰπήν,
[βῆμεν δ' ἐν νήεσσι, θεὸς δ' ἐκέδασσεν Ἀχαιούς,]
καὶ τότε δὴ Ζεὺς λυγρὸν ἐνὶ φρεσὶ μήδετο νόστον
Ἀργείοισ', ἐπεὶ οὔ τι νοήμονες οὐδὲ δίκαιοι
πάντες ἔσαν. τῶ σφεων πολέες κακὸν οἶτον ἐπέσπον
μήνιος ἐξ ὀλοῆς γλαυκώπιδος ὀβριμοπάτρης.

But when we had sacked the steep city of Priam,
[and we went in our ships and the god scattered the Achaeans,]
then indeed Zeus plotted in his mind a grim return
for the Argives, since not all were prudent or just;
thus many of them met an evil fate
because of the anger of the destructive grey-eyed one, daughter of a mighty father.

What Athena did first to set this “grim return” in motion was to cause a quarrel (éris) between the two Atreidai, the commanders-in-chief of the Achaeans: ἥ τ' ἔριν Ἀτρεΐδῃσι μετ' ἀμφοτέροισιν ἔθηκε (Odyssey 3.136). The scene of the quarrel was a drunken and disorderly assembly of the entire army which the Atreidai called at nightfall (Odyssey 3.137–140):

τὼ δὲ καλεσσαμένω ἀγορὴν ἐς πάντας Ἀχαιούς,
μάψ, ἀτὰρ οὐ κατὰ κόσμον, ἐς ἠέλιον καταδύντα,
οἱ δ' ἦλθον οἴνῳ βεβαρηότες υἷες Ἀχαιῶν,
μῦθον μυθείσθην, τοῦ εἵνεκα λαὸν ἄγειραν.

Those two called an assembly for all the Achaeans,
carelessly and without proper order, as the sun was setting,
and the sons of the Achaeans came, heavy with wine;
both made speeches telling why they had gathered the warriors.

The Atreidai had called the assembly to consider the army’s return, but they disagreed over what should be done. Menelaus spoke first, and he urged the Achaeans “to remember their nóstos,” but this did not please Agamemnon, who foolishly wished “to restrain the army,” and to try to appease the angry Athena with sacrifices (Odyssey 3.141–147): {176|177}

ἔνθ' ἦ τοι Μενέλαος ἀνώγει πάντας Ἀχαιοὺς
νόστου μιμνῄσκεσθαι ἐπ' εὐρέα νῶτα θαλάσσης·
οὐδ' Ἀγαμέμνονι πάμπαν ἑήνδανε· βούλετο γάρ ῥα
λαὸν ἐρυκακέειν ῥέξαι θ' ἱερὰς ἑκατόμβας,
ὡς τὸν Ἀθηναίης δεινὸν χόλον ἐξακέσαιτο,
νήπιος, οὐδὲ τὸ ᾔδη, ὃ οὐ πείσεσθαι ἔμελλεν·
οὐ γάρ τ' αἶψα θεῶν τρέπεται νόος αἰὲν ἐόντων.

Then Menelaus urged all the Achaeans
to remember their return across the wide back of the sea;
but this did not please Agamemnon at all; for he wanted
to restrain the warriors and offer sacred hecatombs
to appease the dread anger of Athena—
the fool, he did not know that she was not to be persuaded,
for the mind of the gods who are forever is not quickly changed.

§2.61 Athena sets the “grim return” of the Achaeans in motion by causing a split between the two Atreidai. As we have noted earlier, the Atreidai, in their association with Helen, are twin figures. [74] What finally divides them is the very issue of their nóstos, and their opposition to each other in the Achaean assembly strikingly resembles, in what each brother wants to do separately, the different functions that the Epeian twins performed between them in their chariot race against Nestor: to “incite” on the one hand, and to “restrain” on the other hand. Menelaus, who “urged all the Achaeans to remember their return,” has the function of the immortal twin, which is to “incite” and to “bring back to life”; these two ideas are in fact intertwined, since the context of Menelaus’s incitement is a nóstos, with its underlying sense of a “return to life.” Agamemnon, who “wished to restrain the army,” has the mortal twin’s function. The context is again significant, for Troy, as Nestor emphasizes at the beginning of his speech, was a place of death, and to “restrain” the army there was in effect to deny it a nóstos in both senses of the word, not only a “return home,” but also a “return to life.” Thus the Atreidai exercised the functions of the twins of the Indo-European myth, but they did not work together, as the Epeian twins did in the chariot race, but split apart. For the Atreidai themselves the consequence of this split was a sharp contrast in their fates. Whereas Menelaus, despite delays on the way, {177|178} would eventually reach home in Sparta, and beyond that was fated not to die, but to be sent to live in bliss in the Elysian fields because of his marriage to Helen, the daughter of Zeus (Odyssey 4.561–569), Agamemnon would perish en nóstōi, “in his nóstos” (Odyssey 4.497) at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra. In other words, Agamemnon, despite the fact that he would again set foot on his native soil, would not have a nóstos in the sense of a “safe return.” [75]

§2.62 The division between the Atreidai had consequences not only for themselves, but for the Achaean army as a whole. When the Atreidai quarreled in the assembly about their nóstos, the army was split in two (Odyssey 3.148–150):

ὣς τὼ μὲν χαλεποῖσιν ἀμειβομένω ἐπέεσσιν
ἕστασαν· οἱ δ' ἀνόρουσαν ἐϋκνήμιδες Ἀχαιοὶ
ἠχῇ θεσπεσίῃ, δίχα δέ σφισιν ἥνδανε βουλή.

So those two stood there exchanging harsh words;
the well-greaved Achaeans rose
with a deafening roar, and were split in the counsel that they favored.

The two factions passed the night harboring harsh thoughts toward each other in their minds, and when dawn came one part of the army, including Nestor, prepared to set sail (Odyssey 3.151–154):

νύκτα μὲν ἀέσαμεν χαλεπὰ φρεσὶν ὁρμαίνοντες
ἀλλήλοισ'· ἐπὶ γὰρ Ζεὺς ἤρτυε πῆμα κακοῖο·
ἠῶθεν δ' οἱ μὲν νέας ἕλκομεν εἰς ἅλα δῖαν
κτήματά τ' ἐντιθέμεσθα βαθυζώνους τε γυναῖκας. {178|179}

We spent the night harboring harsh thoughts in our minds
against each other; for Zeus prepared pain of evil for us;
at dawn some of us dragged our ships into the shining sea
and put aboard our possessions and deeply girdled women.

But the half of the army remaining with Agamemnon was “restrained” as the others put out to sea (Odyssey 3.155–158):

ἡμίσεες δ' ἄρα λαοὶ ἐρητύοντο μένοντες
αὖθι παρ' Ἀτρεΐδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονι, ποιμένι λαῶν·
ἡμίσεες δ' ἀναβάντες ἐλαύνομεν· αἱ δὲ μάλ' ὦκα
ἔπλεον, ἐστόρεσεν δὲ θεὸς μεγακήτεα πόντον.

But half of the warriors were held back there waiting
with the son of Atreus, Agamemnon, shepherd of the warriors;
the other half of us went aboard and rowed away; the ships quickly
set sail, and the god smoothed the sea teeming with great creatures.

In these lines, with the division of the army into two halves, one of which is “restrained” while the other half begins its return, it is clear that the twin myth enacted by the Atreidai sets the basic terms for the whole “grim return” of the Achaeans. It is hard not to equate the two halves of the army with those who would achieve a safe nóstos and those who would not. This does not mean that we need to catalogue every contingent at Troy on one side or the other, or that even the poet could have done so. The division is, I think, intended to be schematic rather than comprehensive. For Agamemnon and those whom he “restrained,” the outlook was not good. At best they were guilty of “foolishness” in thinking an angered Athena could be appeased (cf. nḗpios, “foolish,” of Agamemnon in Odyssey 3.146). [76] Presumably this half of the army also coincided with the evildoers who caused Athena’s wrath in the first place, although we can name only a few of these, and perhaps the poet could not have named many more. [77] Again the categories seem to {179|180} be suggestive rather than all inclusive. The basic categories, however, are those that emerge from the twin myth as reenacted by the Atreidai. Like the Atreidai, the army was divided into those who would achieve a safe nóstos and those who would not.

§2.63 Nestor’s account, having made clear that the basic terms of the Achaeans’ nóstos are those of the twin myth, next focuses on his own role in this nóstos. As we have seen, Nestor was with the half of the army that set sail on the morning after the army was split by the quarrel. His account is about to come back to the point from which he began, and which has been left hanging in the meantime, namely his relationship with Odysseus. During the war, he said, he and Odysseus never disagreed with one another in an assembly or council, but “with one mind” they devised what was best for the Argives by their wits and shrewd council; but when Troy was sacked, things (we infer) changed. We have heard how Zeus devised an evil homecoming for the Achaeans, and how Athena split the army in two. Now, twenty-nine lines later, we learn that the unanimity between Nestor and Odysseus during the war did indeed change after the war, just as the word autár in Odyssey 3.130 implies. For when those with Menelaus reached the nearby island of Tenedos, and stopped to offer sacrifices, another quarrel (éris) broke out. Nestor does not say who the parties to the quarrel were but Odysseus was clearly one of the parties, for he turned back and returned with his ships and men to Agamemnon. Who the other party was Nestor does not say, but he makes clear that he himself was no longer of one mind with Odysseus as he had been hitherto. For when Odysseus turned back to Agamemnon, Nestor fled in the opposite direction (Odyssey 3.159–166):

ἐς Τένεδον δ' ἐλθόντες ἐρέξαμεν ἱρὰ θεοῖσιν,
οἴκαδε ἱέμενοι· Ζεὺς δ' οὔ πω μήδετο νόστον,
σχέτλιος, ὅς ῥ' ἔριν ὦρσε κακὴν ἔπι δεύτερον αὖτις. {180|181}
οἱ μὲν ἀποστρέψαντες ἔβαν νέας ἀμφιελίσσας
ἀμφ' Ὀδυσῆα ἄνακτα δαΐφρονα ποικιλομήτην,
αὖτις ἐπ' Ἀτρεΐδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονι ἦρα φέροντες·
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ σὺν νηυσὶν ἀολλέσιν, αἵ μοι ἔποντο,
φεῦγον, ἐπεὶ γίνωσκον, ὃ δὴ κακὰ μήδετο δαίμων.

Coming to Tenedos we made sacrifices to the gods,
eager to reach home; but Zeus did not yet plot our return,
hard-hearted god, but caused strife to break out again a second time.
Some turned their oared ships and went back,
those with Odysseus, the keen-spirited king with inventive mind,
bowing again to Agamemnon, the son of Atreus.
But I, with all the ships that followed me,
fled, because I recognized that the god plotted evil.

§2.64 Nestor does not say that it was he who quarreled with Odysseus on the island of Tenedos, but it is clear from his account that this is what happened. When Nestor says that he “realized that the god intended evil,” he shows that he had a clear view about the situation that confronted them on Tenedos, and when he says that he fled with his ships, he shows that he had a firm conviction about what to do and acted on it. No more need be said to show that Nestor and Odysseus, who had always been of one mind during the war, quarreled bitterly and split from each other after the war on the issue of their nóstos. This is what the subtle design of Nestor’s whole account is intended to show. Nestor is giving this account to Odysseus’s son, who has come to him to find out about his father, and it is thus more than fitting that he suppress an explicit statement of the quarrel that constituted their final leave-taking from one another. This suppression is also wholly consistent with Nestor’s role in the Iliad, as we have examined it in the story of Patroclus in Iliad 11 and 23. In the way that Nestor’s role is handled poetically there is no difference between the Iliad and the Odyssey, and this as an important point in its own right. It means that we may continue to expect the kind of subtlety that marked his role in the Iliad in the Odyssey as well.

§2.65 What is the significance of Nestor’s account for the story of Odysseus? The first thing to note is that Odysseus left Troy after the first quarrel, with the part of the army that remembered its nóstos, and that, in my {181|182} view, was destined to return home safely. If the first quarrel made the basic division between the saved and the damned, so to speak, then Odysseus was among the saved, although he might not reach home safely for a long time. And what took place on Tenedos ensured that he would not return for a long time, for not only did he mistakenly return to Agamemnon and the half of the army being “restrained” by him; he also separated himself from Néstōr, “the homebringer.” The weight of this fact in the story of course depends heavily on the meaning of the name Néstōr, which I believe was still crystal clear to the Homeric audience. [78]

§2.66 For Nestor’s own story his name is of equal significance. Nestor’s myth is not to bring his brother back to life, and the same negative fact is repeated in his failure to bring Odysseus home. But Nestor, “the homebringer,” does more than simply return home in his story in Odyssey 3. Others did that, and the simple fact of returning does not bring out what is special about Nestor. Nestor, if we follow his story closely, brought another hero home. When Nestor fled from Tenedos in the opposite direction from Odysseus, he was not alone; Diomedes fled with him (Odyssey 3.165–167):

αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ σὺν νηυσὶν ἀολλέσιν, αἵ μοι ἔποντο,
φεῦγον, ἐπεὶ γίνωσκον, ὃ δὴ κακὰ μήδετο δαίμων.
φεῦγε δὲ Τυδέος υἱὸς ἀρήϊος, ὦρσε δ' ἑταίρους.

But I, with all the ships that followed me,
fled, because I recognized that the god plotted evil.
And the warlike son of Tydeus fled, rousing his companions.

Nestor and Diomedes are a pair on their nóstos, as is made clear by the next lines, which concern Menelaus, the leader of the half of the army that had left Troy for home after the first quarrel. Nestor and Diomedes leave Tenedos together, and Menelaus only overtakes them when they stop on the island of Lesbos to ponder a major decision about the rest of their journey home (Odyssey 3.168–172): {182|183}

ὀψὲ δὲ δὴ μετὰ νῶϊ κίε ξανθὸς Μενέλαος,
ἐν Λέσβῳ δ' ἔκιχεν δολιχὸν πλόον ὁρμαίνοντας,
ἢ καθύπερθε Χίοιο νεοίμεθα παιπαλοέσσης,
νήσου ἔπι Ψυρίης, αὐτὴν ἐπ' ἀριστέρ' ἔχοντες,
ἦ ὑπένερθε Χίοιο παρ' ἠνεμόεντα Μίμαντα.

Late indeed after us came fair-haired Menelaus,
and found us at Lesbos pondering our long voyage,
whether we should return above rocky Chios,
past the island of Psyria, keeping Chios on our left,
or beneath Chios past windy Mimas.

The issue was whether to cut straight across the Aegean for home, with all the risks that the open sea entailed, or to take a safer course to the south by way of Mount Mimas on the mainland and the Cyclades islands, and risk being caught by the divine wrath through this delay. A divine sign was asked for and given, to cross the sea directly to Euboea, which they did, landing on the southern tip of the island in Geraistos, where they offered a sacrifice of thanks to Poseidon (Odyssey 3.173–179):

ᾐτέομεν δὲ θεὸν φῆναι τέρας· αὐτὰρ ὅ γ' ἥμιν
δεῖξε, καὶ ἠνώγει πέλαγος μέσον εἰς Εὔβοιαν
τέμνειν, ὄφρα τάχιστα ὑπὲκ κακότητα φύγοιμεν.
ὦρτο δ' ἐπὶ λιγὺς οὖρος ἀήμεναι· αἱ δὲ μάλ' ὦκα
ἰχθυόεντα κέλευθα διέδραμον, ἐς δὲ Γεραιστὸν
ἐννύχιαι κατάγοντο· Ποσειδάωνι δὲ ταύρων
πόλλ' ἐπὶ μῆρ' ἔθεμεν, πέλαγος μέγα μετρήσαντες.

We asked the god to show us a sign, and he showed us one;
he urged us to cut across the middle of the sea to Euboea
so that we might escape the evil as quickly as possible.
A shrill wind began to blow; our ships swiftly
crossed the fishy paths of the sea to Geraistos,
putting in at night; we offered Poseidon
many bulls’ thighs, having crossed the great sea.

Menelaus is not heard of again in this account, but we learn later in Odyssey 3, when Telemachus asks Nestor where Menelaus was when Agamemnon was {183|184} murdered, that Menelaus accompanied them from Geraistos as far as Cape Sounion in Attica, where his helmsman Phrontis, the son of Onetor, died and was buried (Odyssey 3.276–285). Menelaus later departed from Sounion on his own and was blown off course when he rounded Cape Maleia, but that has nothing to do with Nestor and his return, which is the subject of Nestor’s first account. This account mentions only Diomedes, who, after sacrifices were made at Geraistos, safely reached home in Argos on the fourth day (Odyssey 3.180–182):

τέτρατον ἦμαρ ἔην, ὅτ' ἐν Ἄργεϊ νῆας ἐΐσας
Τυδεΐδεω ἕταροι Διομήδεος ἱπποδάμοιο

It was the fourth day when the companions of horse-breaking Diomedes,
Tydeus’s son, brought their well-balanced ships to rest
in Argos.

Nestor was with Diomedes from the beginning of his nóstos to the end, and having left him safely in Argos, he completed his own nóstos effortlessly with a godsent wind that never abated (Odyssey 3.182–183):

αὐτὰρ ἐγώ γε Πύλονδ' ἔχον, οὐδέ ποτ' ἔσβη
οὖρος, ἐπεὶ δὴ πρῶτα θεὸς προέηκεν ἀῆναι.

But I kept on for Pylos, and the wind never let up
after the god first sent it to blow. [79] {184|185}

This completes Nestor’s account of what he saw and experienced at first hand during the nóstos Akhaiō̂n. He reached home with great speed, and learned nothing of the fate of the other Achaeans; about them he can only tell Telemachus what he has learned from hearsay (Odyssey 3.184–187):

ὣς ἦλθον, φίλε τέκνον, ἀπευθής, οὐδέ τι οἶδα
κείνων, οἵ τ' ἐσάωθεν Ἀχαιῶν οἵ τ' ἀπόλοντο.
ὅσσα δ' ἐνὶ μεγάροισι καθήμενος ἡμετέροισι
πεύθομαι, ἣ θέμις ἐστί, δαήσεαι, οὐδέ σε κεύσω.

Thus I came, dear child, ignorant, and I know nothing
of those Achaeans who were saved and those who perished.
But what I find out sitting in my halls,
that you will learn, as is right, and I will not hide it from you.

§2.67 Nestor does not say that he brought Diomedes safely home to Argos, just as he does not say that he quarreled with Odysseus and left him behind in Troy. But there can be no mistaking the fact that when Nestor and Diomedes left Tenedos together, Nestor was the leader if it was he who quarreled with Odysseus. For in this quarrel Nestor must have argued for an immediate nóstos, and departed at once when Odysseus returned in the opposite direction to Agamemnon. Diomedes, then, must simply have followed Nestor, not only in leaving Tenedos, but through his entire nóstos. This again is not stated, but is to be understood nonetheless. After leaving Tenedos, the next point of decision was Lesbos, where Nestor and Diomedes were still pondering their course, whether to cross the open sea or not, when Menelaus caught up with them. The question was decided for them, and for Menelaus as well, who now joined them, by a sign from the god urging them to make straight for Euboea across the open sea. Nestor says that “we asked the god for a sign, and he showed one to us,” but signs from the gods must be both perceived and interpreted before they can be followed, and of the three heroes on Lesbos the likeliest to have noticed and interpreted correctly the god’s sign is Nestor, at least to judge by his own words on two occasions in the Iliad. The first is in Iliad 2, where there is an interesting contrast to be {185|186} noticed between Nestor and Odysseus with regard to signs and in other respects as well. These two both play a role when Agamemnon tests the army, and the army unexpectedly breaks for the ships. In line with the contrast between Nestor and Odysseus on their nóstos, where Odysseus plays the mortal twin to Nestor’s immortal twin, Odysseus “restrains” the army’s headlong flight, most dramatically in the case of Thersites whom he smites with the staff, whereupon Nestor “incites” them, particularly Agamemnon, to return to the business of war. [80] Each of them in his speech to the army recalls an omen that occurred on their departure for Troy ten years earlier, but whereas Odysseus recalls the portent that the prophet Calchas interpreted for all, [81] Nestor tells of a sign that he saw for himself. After telling Agamemnon to rule steadfastly, and to let those few go to ruin who wish to return home on their own before they learn whether “Zeus’s promise was a lie or not” (Iliad 2.348–349), he vouches for the favorable sign that he saw from Zeus (lightning on the right) with the emphatic first person verb phēmí, “I declare” (Iliad 2.350–353):

φημὶ γὰρ οὖν κατανεῦσαι ὑπερμενέα Κρονίωνα
ἤματι τῷ ὅτε νηυσὶν ἐν ὠκυπόροισιν ἔβαινον
Ἀργεῖοι Τρώεσσι φόνον καὶ κῆρα φέροντες
ἀστράπτων ἐπιδέξι' ἐναίσιμα σήματα φαίνων.

For on my word the mighty son of Kronos nodded assent
the day the Argives boarded their swift-traveling ships
carrying death and destruction to the Trojans;
he flashed lightning on the right and showed a favorable sign. {186|187}

The second passage is in Iliad 15, when Apollo destroys the Achaean wall and the Achaeans themselves are hemmed in by their ships. All pray to the gods, but Nestor most of all, and in his prayer he seems to refer to the same sign from Zeus that he recalls in Iliad 2 when he calls on Zeus to remember if he ever promised a safe return to “anyone” (Iliad 15.367–376):

ὣς οἳ μὲν παρὰ νηυσὶν ἐρητύοντο μένοντες,
ἀλλήλοισί τε κεκλόμενοι καὶ πᾶσι θεοῖσι
χεῖρας ἀνίσχοντες μεγάλ' εὐχετόωντο ἕκαστος·
Νέστωρ αὖτε μάλιστα Γερήνιος οὖρος Ἀχαιῶν
εὔχετο χεῖρ' ὀρέγων εἰς οὐρανὸν ἀστερόεντα·
“Ζεῦ πάτερ εἴ ποτέ τίς τοι ἐν Ἄργεΐ περ πολυπύρῳ
ἢ βοὸς ἢ οἰὸς κατὰ πίονα μηρία καίων
εὔχετο νοστῆσαι, σὺ δ' ὑπέσχεο καὶ κατένευσας,
τῶν μνῆσαι καὶ ἄμυνον Ὀλύμπιε νηλεὲς ἦμαρ,
μηδ' οὕτω Τρώεσσιν ἔα δάμνασθαι Ἀχαιούς.”

Thus they were pinned down waiting by their ships;
and shouting to each other and raising their hands
they each prayed loudly to all the gods;
but most of all Nestor, guardian of the Achaeans,
prayed stretching his hands toward the starry sky:
“Father Zeus, if ever anyone in Argos rich in wheat,
burning the fat thighs of an ox or sheep,
prayed to return home safely, and you promised and nodded assent,
remember those things, god of Olympus, and ward off the pitiless day,
and do not let the Achaeans be conquered like this by the Trojans.”

Nestor does not limit the prayers that Zeus may have heard to his own, [82] but surely his own prayer is included, for how else did he know that Zeus had {187|188} “promised” a safe return to anyone, except by noticing a sign in answer to his own prayer? [83] It is significant that the prayers of which he reminds Zeus in Iliad 15 concern a nóstos from Troy: the reason that Néstōr, the “homebringer,” prays more than the others in Iliad 15 is precisely that the Achaeans’ nóstos is at issue now that the Achaean wall has been broken. And in answer to Nestor’s prayer, Zeus reaffirms the promise that he made to him before. The sign of Zeus’s earlier promise to Nestor was a lightning bolt sent on the right (Iliad 2.353). Zeus reconfirms his promise to Nestor by thundering when he hears his prayer in the desperate situation of Iliad 15 (Iliad 15.377–378):

ὣς ἔφατ' εὐχόμενος, μέγα δ' ἔκτυπε μητίετα Ζεύς,
ἀράων ἀΐων Νηληϊάδαο γέροντος.

So he spoke praying, and the deviser Zeus thundered
hearing the prayers of the aged son of Neleus. {188|189}

We do not know who heard and understood this sign, since the text does not say, but we may be sure that Nestor himself did, since it was he who prayed for it. The only reaction to the sign that is mentioned is on the part of the Trojans, who misunderstand it, taking it as favorable to their attack (Iliad 15.379–380): [84]

Τρῶες δ' ὡς ἐπύθοντο Διὸς κτύπον αἰγιόχοιο,
μᾶλλον ἐπ' Ἀργείοισι θόρον, μνήσαντο δὲ χάρμης.

But when the Trojans heard the thunderclap of the aegis-holder Zeus,
they assaulted the Argives all the more and were minded for battle.

§2.68 Keeping in mind the two passages in the Iliad that bear on Nestor’s ability to interpret signs from the gods when a nóstos is at issue, I return to the sign that was given on Lesbos when Nestor, Diomedes, and Menelaus hesitated there, and I think that there is every reason to believe that it was Nestor who both solicited and correctly interpreted this sign. [85] This is an important point, for the only occasion on which Néstōr, “the homebringer,” truly acts out his name in the Homeric poems is when he escorts Diomedes from Tenedos to Argos, and the decision to cross the sea directly from Lesbos to Euboea was a critical moment in this journey. Nestor’s apparent action in perceiving and interpreting a sign from the god reveals something important about the function of “homebringer” itself, as designated by Nestor’s name. If we consider the entire journey, it is really a series of decisions between two alternatives, and the journey is successful because Nestor unfailingly chooses the right alternative in each case. The first correct decision was to leave Troy with Menelaus, and not to stay behind with Agamemnon. The second was to flee onward from Tenedos, and not to return to Agamemnon with Odysseus. The final correct decision, for which a divine sign was sought, was to cross the open sea as quickly as possible from Lesbos to Euboea, and not to take the slower, apparently less dangerous route to the south through the Cyclades. The accurate perception and correct interpretation of divine signs, which {189|190} is emphasized in the case of the decision made at Lesbos, also characterized Nestor’s earlier decisions. When he fled from Tenedos with Diomedes, it was because he “recognized” that the god planned evil things (Odyssey 3.166):

φεῦγον, ἐπεὶ γίνωσκον, ὃ δὴ κακὰ μήδετο δαίμων.

I fled, because I recognized that the god plotted evil.

Presumably Nestor had as clear an idea of what the gods intended when he first left Troy with Menelaus, for he calls Agamemnon “foolish” to think that by staying he could pacify Athena’s wrath with sacrifices, since the mind of the gods is not easily changed (Odyssey 3.146–147):

νήπιος, οὐδὲ τὸ ᾔδη, ὃ οὐ πείσεσθαι ἔμελλεν·
οὐ γάρ τ' αἶψα θεῶν τρέπεται νόος αἰὲν ἐόντων.

The fool, he did not know that she was not to be persuaded,
for the mind of the gods who are forever is not quickly changed.

§2.69 The essence of Nestor’s action as the “homebringer,” then, is to make the right choice between two alternatives at each stage of the journey on the basis of an accurate perception of what the gods intend. The splitting of the issue into two alternatives at each new turn, the forging ahead quickly on the basis of an accurate perception of the right choice, and the simultaneous discarding of the wrong choice—all this describes a basic mental process. This is to say that the action of Néstōr, “he who brings home,” in negotiating each new turn on his nóstos, at the same time describes the process of nóos, “mind,” which is equivalent to Néstōr in derivation and meaning. We know from the chariot race in Iliad 23 that nóos is “incitement” as opposed to “restraint,” and that both qualities are necessary to round the turning post and complete the race successfully. A successful nóstos also involves turns, but a series of them instead of the single turn of the chariot race. Each new turn requires deliberation, and a choice must be made between two alternatives because there is doubt as to the correct course. [86] Néstōr and nóos represent the right choice in {190|191} each case, moving forward rapidly from one deliberation to the next, and to another after that, until finally the entire nóstos is successfully completed. The other half of the duality is the wrong choice, which is discarded at every new turn. In this process the “incitement” that defines nóos is at the same time a matter of “accurate perception,” for a successful nóstos depends on a perception of the correct choice at each new turn. Nestor, who accurately perceives signs from the gods, is again the embodiment of nóos, and of the verb noéō that is derived from nóos, inasmuch as the essential idea in both is “clear perception.” If nóos is both “incitement” and “clear perception,” the other half of the dual mental process is more complex. In the chariot race the Epeian twins are successful because one twin slows the chariot to make the turn, while the other incites it to win the race. The two twins stay together, and their inseparability is their strength. In the nóstos of Odyssey 3, however, there is a split between the right choice and the wrong choice, and the wrong choice is discarded. At two points the wrong choice is represented by an individual who is left behind. Agamemnon is left behind by Menelaus in Troy, and Odysseus is left behind by Nestor when he flees from Tenedos. Agamemnon and Odysseus are both in the position of the mortal twin, who dies and is not brought back to life, as in Nestor’s own variant of the twin myth. It thus appears that Nestor’s myth represents a further development of the Indo-European twin myth from the standpoint of the mental process that this myth describes. The same may also be said of nóos, which is depicted through Néstōr in the nóstos of Odyssey 3. [87] But in spite of this development, Néstōr and nóos remain involved in a duality. In the case of Néstōr, he brings Diomedes home, and Diomedes is thus in the position of the mortal twin of the Indo-European myth. He is inseparable from {191|192} Nestor, who is in the position of the Indo-European immortal twin, until his nóstos is completed. Thus at Lesbos, unlike what happened at Tenedos and Troy, no one is left behind. [88]

§2.70 The word nóos is not present in Nestor’s description of his nóstos, but the word does have an interesting occurrence earlier in his account, when he describes the harmony that existed between himself and Odysseus as counselors for the Argives during the war. He says that he and Odysseus never disagreed in assembly or council, “but having one mind we counseled what was best for the Argives with nóos and shrewd counsel” (Odyssey 3.126–129):

ἔνθ' ἦ τοι εἷος μὲν ἐγὼ καὶ δῖος Ὀδυσσεὺς
οὔτε ποτ' εἰν ἀγορῇ δίχ' ἐβάζομεν οὔτ' ἐνὶ βουλῇ,
ἀλλ' ἕνα θυμὸν ἔχοντε νόῳ καὶ ἐπίφρονι βουλῇ
φραζόμεθ' Ἀργείοισιν ὅπως ὄχ' ἄριστα γένοιτο.

During the time there shining Odysseus and I
never spoke on opposite sides in assembly or council,
but with one spirit, by intelligence and wise counsel,
we advised the Argives how what was best might come about. [89]

Nestor of course stresses the like-mindedness of Odysseus and himself with the phrase héna thumòn ékhonte, and the harmony between them at this stage {192|193} is the point. The phrase epíphroni boulē̂i, “with shrewd counsel,” nevertheless suggests Odysseus more than it does Nestor: the phrase occurs only one other time in Homer, namely in Odyssey 16, when Odysseus reveals himself to his son, and Telemachus repeats what he has always heard about his father, that he is both a warrior and “shrewd in counsel” (Odyssey 16.241–242):

ὦ πάτερ, ἦ τοι σεῖο μέγα κλέος αἰὲν ἄκουον,
χεῖράς τ' αἰχμητὴν ἔμεναι καὶ ἐπίφρονα βουλήν.

Father, I always heard your great fame,
that you are a spearman with your hands and that you are shrewd in counsel. [90]

If epíphroni boulē̂i, “with shrewd counsel,” characterizes Odysseus more particularly than it does Nestor, then nóōi, “with mind,” characterizes Nestor more particularly than it does Odysseus, and there thus seems to be a subtle division between them even in the context of their like-mindedness. The subtle distinction in the phrase nóōi kaì epíphroni boulē̂i, moreover, is reinforced by the fact that it echoes, by its wording and placement in the line, the phrase egṑ kaì dı̄̂os Odusseús two lines before. The echo of egṓ in nóōi is particularly strong, and I think that it is intentional. The intent is to draw attention to Néstōr, not only as the “homebringer,” but as the embodiment of nóos. We have already examined passages in the Iliad that equate nóos with Néstōr in an apparently deliberate way. [91] This example in Odyssey 3 belongs with them, for while it is perhaps more subtle, it is also more significant. Nestor, as the embodiment of nóos, is about to reveal what this really means by his account of his nóstos. At the same time, the subtle distinction drawn between himself and Odysseus in terms of nóos and “shrewd counsel,” even during the war, points ahead to the time when each would go his own way—Nestor to bring Diomedes home through his nóos, Odysseus to pursue his own fate through his “shrewd counsel.”

§2.71 There is another hero besides Odysseus whom Nestor fails to bring home from Troy, and this is his own son Antilochus, who dies in the war. The loss of Antilochus is a matter of close personal grief to Nestor, who in Odyssey {193|194} 3, in recalling all the grief that the Achaeans suffered at Troy (ὀϊζύος, Odyssey 3.103), remembers the death of his own son most of all (Odyssey 3.108–112):

ἔνθα δ' ἔπειτα κατέκταθεν ὅσσοι ἄριστοι·
ἔνθα μὲν Αἴας κεῖται ἀρήϊος, ἔνθα δ' Ἀχιλλεύς,
ἔνθα δὲ Πάτροκλος, θεόφιν μήστωρ ἀτάλαντος,
ἔνθα δ' ἐμὸς φίλος υἱός, ἅμα κρατερὸς καὶ ἀταρβής,
Ἀντίλοχος, περὶ μὲν θείειν ταχὺς ἠδὲ μαχητής.

There all our best men in the end were killed;
there lies warlike Ajax, there Achilles,
there Patroclus, a counselor equal to the gods,
there my own dear son, strong and unflinching,
Antilochus, fast beyond others at running and a fighter.

Antilochus’s death is also a matter of grief to Peisistratos, Nestor’s youngest son, when he accompanies Telemachus to Sparta, and Menelaus’s warm speech of regret for the missing Odysseus turns the minds of all to grief. Peisistratos grieves for his brother Antilochus, whom Memnon, son of the dawn goddess Eos, slew (Odyssey 4.186–188):

οὐδ' ἄρα Νέστορος υἱὸς ἀδακρύτω ἔχεν ὄσσε·
μνήσατο γὰρ κατὰ θυμὸν ἀμύμονος Ἀντιλόχοιο,
τόν ῥ' Ἠοῦς ἔκτεινε φαεινῆς ἀγλαὸς υἱός.

Nor did Nestor’s son keep his eyes dry from tears,
for he remembered in his heart faultless Antilochus,
whom the shining son of the radiant dawn goddess slew. [92]

For Nestor there is perhaps a special pathos in the fact that, whereas he brings Diomedes safely home, he cannot bring his own son home. The pathos is deepened by the fact that Diomedes is close in age to Antilochus, or even younger. In the council at the beginning of Iliad 9, when Diomedes defiantly rejects Agamemnon’s defeatism and says that he and his companion Sthenelos will remain to take Troy alone if necessary, Nestor gently rebukes him, as a father would his youngest son, for not reaching the “goal” (télos) of his words. Nestor himself then takes over for Diomedes, and remedies the {194|195} deficiencies in his advice by going through everything at length and in detail (Iliad 9.53–62):

Τυδεΐδη περὶ μὲν πολέμῳ ἔνι καρτερός ἐσσι,
καὶ βουλῇ μετὰ πάντας ὁμήλικας ἔπλευ ἄριστος.
οὔ τίς τοι τὸν μῦθον ὀνόσσεται ὅσσοι Ἀχαιοί,
οὐδὲ πάλιν ἐρέει· ἀτὰρ οὐ τέλος ἵκεο μύθων.
ἦ μὲν καὶ νέος ἐσσί, ἐμὸς δέ κε καὶ πάϊς εἴης
ὁπλότατος γενεῆφιν· ἀτὰρ πεπνυμένα βάζεις
Ἀργείων βασιλῆας, ἐπεὶ κατὰ μοῖραν ἔειπες.
ἀλλ' ἄγ' ἐγών, ὃς σεῖο γεραίτερος εὔχομαι εἶναι,
ἐξείπω καὶ πάντα διίξομαι· οὐδέ κέ τίς μοι
μῦθον ἀτιμήσει', οὐδὲ κρείων Ἀγαμέμνων.

Son of Tydeus, you are strong beyond others in battle
and you are best in counsel among all your age-mates.
No one among the Achaeans will find fault with your speech
or contradict it. But you have not reached the goal of your words.
Indeed you are young, and might even be my son,
the youngest born; still you say wise things
to the kings of the Argives, since you have spoken fitly.
But come, I, who claim to be older than you,
will speak out and go through everything, and no one
will disrespect my speech, not even the ruler Agamemnon. [93]

§2.72 The relationship between Nestor and Diomedes, which is compared to that between a father and son in this passage, should be kept in mind in Odyssey 3. Indeed Nestor’s claim that Diomedes has not reached the “goal” of his words (ou télos híkeo múthōn) and that he himself, by contrast, “will go through everything” (pánta diíxomai), should be seen in close relation to their eventual nóstos together, when it will be Nestor who will guide them through each new turn, at Tenedos and Lesbos, to the “goal” of their journey. The relationship between Nestor and Diomedes that is depicted in the Iliad is thus consistent with, and serves to flesh out, what is implied in the Odyssey. {195|196}

§2.73 Book 9 is not the only context in which the Iliad depicts the relationship between Nestor and Diomedes. The passage in Book 9 actually follows on and develops an episode in Book 8, in which Nestor’s trace horse is shot by Paris, and Nestor himself is rescued by Diomedes. The episode begins when Zeus weighs the fates of the Achaeans and Trojans at midday, and the fate of the Achaeans sinks. Zeus sends a lightning bolt which the Achaeans see and all then begin to flee (Iliad 8.66–79). Only Nestor remains, because his trace horse is wounded and throws his other two horses into confusion. [94] As Nestor struggles to cut the trace horse free, Hector bears down on him, and only Diomedes sees the old man’s plight (Iliad 8.80–91):

Νέστωρ οἶος ἔμιμνε Γερήνιος οὖρος Ἀχαιῶν
οὔ τι ἑκών, ἀλλ' ἵππος ἐτείρετο, τὸν βάλεν ἰῷ
δῖος Ἀλέξανδρος Ἑλένης πόσις ἠϋκόμοιο
ἄκρην κὰκ κορυφήν, ὅθι τε πρῶται τρίχες ἵππων
κρανίῳ ἐμπεφύασι, μάλιστα δὲ καίριόν ἐστιν.
ἀλγήσας δ' ἀνέπαλτο, βέλος δ' εἰς ἐγκέφαλον δῦ,
σὺν δ' ἵππους ἐτάραξε κυλινδόμενος περὶ χαλκῷ.
ὄφρ' ὁ γέρων ἵπποιο παρηορίας ἀπέταμνε
φασγάνῳ ἀΐσσων, τόφρ' Ἕκτορος ὠκέες ἵπποι
ἦλθον ἀν' ἰωχμὸν θρασὺν ἡνίοχον φορέοντες
Ἕκτορα· καί νύ κεν ἔνθ' ὁ γέρων ἀπὸ θυμὸν ὄλεσσεν
εἰ μὴ ἄρ' ὀξὺ νόησε βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης.

Gerenian Nestor, guardian of the Achaeans, alone remained,
not willingly, but his horse was in trouble, hit by an arrow
from shining Alexander, husband of beautiful-haired Helen,
at his topmost point, where hairs first
grow on horses’ heads and the most vulnerable spot is.
He reared up in pain, but the shaft sank into his brain,
and he threw the other horses into confusion, rolling about the bronze weapon.
While the old man cut the horse’s traces,
jumping in with his sword, Hector’s swift horses
came through the tumult carrying a bold driver, {196|197}
Hector himself; there the old man would have lost his life
if Diomedes had not sharply perceived him.

The suggestion in Iliad 9 that the relationship between Nestor and Diomedes is like that between a father and son grows out of this episode in Iliad 8, for this episode evokes the later death of Antilochus, which it closely resembles. [95] When Diomedes comes to Nestor’s aid, and saves him, he anticipates an event that is similar in all respects except one. Antilochus saves his father’s life as does Diomedes, but he does so at the cost of his own life. Diomedes, on the other hand, lives to be brought home by Nestor at the end of the war. The death of Antilochus occurs after the death of Hector, when the Aethiopian Memnon has become the Trojans’ champion, and it is thus Memnon who imperils Nestor and slays Antilochus. The episode lies outside the time span of the Iliad, but is recreated in virtual form by the episode in Iliad 8. The actual episode, which was known to the Odyssey and formed part of the Aethiopis, [96] is told in full in Pindar, Pythian 6, where the story of Antilochus’s death is used to illustrate the general precept to honor one’s parents. The similarities to the episode in Iliad 8 are that it is again the wounding of Nestor’s trace horse by Paris’s arrow that puts the old man in danger, and that he is rescued by a young man from the onrush of the Trojans’ chief hero, Hector in the case of Diomedes, Memnon in the case of Antilochus. Pindar tells the story of Antilochus as follows (Pythian 6.28–42): [97]

ἔγεντο καὶ πρότερον Ἀντίλοχος βιατὰς
νόημα τοῦτο φέρων,
ὃς ὑπερέφθιτο πατρός, ἐναρίμβροτον
ἀναμείναις στράταρχον Αἰθιόπων
Μέμνονα. Νεστόρειον γὰρ ἵππος ἅρμ' ἐπέδα {197|198}
Πάριος ἐκ βελέων δαϊχθείς· ὁ δ' ἔφεπεν
κραταιὸν ἔγχος·
Μεσσανίου δὲ γέροντος
δονηθεῖσα φρὴν βόασε παῖδα ὅν,

χαμαιπετὲς δ' ἄρ' ἔπος οὐκ ἀπέριψεν· αὐτοῦ
μένων δ' ὁ θεῖος ἀνήρ
πρίατο μὲν θανάτοιο κομιδὰν πατρός,
ἐδόκησέν τε τῶν πάλαι γενεᾷ
ὁπλοτέροισιν ἔργον πελώριον τελέσαις
ὕπατος ἀμφὶ τοκεῦσιν ἔμμεν πρὸς ἀρετάν.

Long ago the warrior Antilochus
was one to bear this in his mind,
who died for his father
standing up to man-slaying Memnon,
leader of the Aethiopian horde. Nestor’s horse,
slain by Paris’s arrows, had tied his chariot down; his foe
was coming at him with his powerful spear.
The aged Messenian,
his mind shaken, shouted to his son,

and the word he hurled did not fall to the ground.
Staying there the godlike man
bought his father’s safety at the price of his own death;
accomplishing a prodigious feat
he seemed to those who came later
to be the highest of those born in ancient times
for courage on behalf of a parent.

§2.74 The connection of the episode in Iliad 8 with Antilochus’s death is well understood and appreciated, but the episode has a further connection that has not been realized, namely with Odyssey 3. For when Diomedes saves Nestor, he simultaneously saves his own nóstos inasmuch as Nestor is his “homebringer.” The connection of the episode in Iliad 8 with Antilochus’s death is deepened by its further connection with Odyssey 3 through the contrast that is thereby evoked between Diomedes, who will return home {198|199} in Nestor’s care, and Antilochus, who will perish saving his father’s life. The connection between Iliad 8 and Odyssey 3 involves a deliberate reversal of roles in that Nestor, who will bring Diomedes safely home, must first be saved himself. In Iliad 8 Diomedes is the savior. The role reversal is extended by the fact that Nestor must be rescued, not when he functions as Néstōr, “he who brings home,” but when he functions as a “horseman”—as hippóta Néstōr. This is Diomedes’ domain, and if Nestor and Diomedes reenact the twin myth in their nóstos, with Nestor playing the role of the immortal twin, then the same myth is also at play in Iliad 8, where Diomedes dominates in the role of the “warrior horseman.” There is still a role reversal in that Diomedes saves Nestor, but he does so as a warrior. [98]

§2.75 The connection between Iliad 8 and Odyssey 3 goes beyond Diomedes. The real point of Nestor’s account in Odyssey 3 is not that he brought Diomedes home, but that he did not bring Odysseus home. This point is also alluded to in Iliad 8, with a role reversal paralleling that in the case of Nestor and Diomedes. For just as Nestor does not save Odysseus in Odyssey 3 in the context of their nóstos, Odysseus very pointedly does not save Nestor in Iliad 8. When Diomedes sees the old man in trouble, he shouts to Odysseus to halt his shameful flight and help drive Hector back, but Odysseus pays no heed, and dashes on to the ships (Iliad 8.90–98):

καί νύ κεν ἔνθ' ὁ γέρων ἀπὸ θυμὸν ὄλεσσεν
εἰ μὴ ἄρ' ὀξὺ νόησε βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης·
σμερδαλέον δ' ἐβόησεν ἐποτρύνων Ὀδυσῆα·
“διογενὲς Λαερτιάδη πολυμήχαν' Ὀδυσσεῦ
πῇ φεύγεις μετὰ νῶτα βαλὼν κακὸς ὣς ἐν ὁμίλῳ;
μή τίς τοι φεύγοντι μεταφρένῳ ἐν δόρυ πήξῃ·
ἀλλὰ μέν' ὄφρα γέροντος ἀπώσομεν ἄγριον ἄνδρα.”
ὣς ἔφατ', οὐδ' ἐσάκουσε πολύτλας δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς,
ἀλλὰ παρήϊξεν κοίλας ἐπὶ νῆας Ἀχαιῶν.

There the old man would have lost his life
if Diomedes had not sharply perceived him; {199|200}
he bellowed out a shout, rousing Odysseus:
“Zeus-born son of Laertes, Odysseus of many devices,
where are you fleeing, turning your back like a coward in the crowd?
May no one plant his spear in your back as you run away;
but stay until we drive this wild warrior away from the old man.”
So he spoke, but much-suffering shining Odysseus did not listen to him,
but darted back to the hollow ships of the Achaeans.

This is all that is said about Odysseus, in a brief episode that seems to go nowhere, and to amount to nothing more than a gratuitous slander on this hero’s reputation. [99] But the point of this little episode is to evoke the nóstoi of {200|201} Odyssey 3, for just as Diomedes needs Nestor to complete his nóstos, Odysseus does not. Morever, the suggestion of Odysseus’s cool indifference towards Nestor makes more sense when we realize that the situation is meant to call to mind the way Nestor and Odysseus would one day part from each other on the island of Tenedos in bitter disagreement—neither heeding the other. [100]

§2.76 The episode in Iliad 8 thus alludes to the nóstoi of Odyssey 3 and to the death of Antilochus simultaneously. As the episode proceeds, the relationship between Nestor and Diomedes, which is destined to culminate in their nóstos together, is of primary interest. We have already seen that this relationship is depicted in Iliad 9, when Nestor reminds Diomedes that he is young enough to be his son, and therefore has not reached the “goal” of his words in addressing the Achaean leaders, as Nestor himself then goes on to do. This episode in Iliad 9 depends on the episode in Iliad 8 in that the contrast in ages, which Nestor turns to his advantage in the meeting of the leaders, was first brought up by Diomedes on the battlefield, when he chided Nestor for his old age, his weak attendant, and his slow horses. In such terms does he greet Nestor when, without the help of Odysseus, he comes to Nestor’s rescue by himself (Iliad 8.99–104):

Τυδεΐδης δ' αὐτός περ ἐὼν προμάχοισιν ἐμίχθη,
στῆ δὲ πρόσθ' ἵππων Νηληϊάδαο γέροντος,
καί μιν φωνήσας ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα·
“ὦ γέρον ἦ μάλα δή σε νέοι τείρουσι μαχηταί,
σὴ δὲ βίη λέλυται, χαλεπὸν δέ σε γῆρας ὀπάζει,
ἠπεδανὸς δέ νύ τοι θεράπων, βραδέες δέ τοι ἵπποι.” {201|202}

The son of Tydeus, although he was alone, mixed with the fighters in front
and stood before the horses of the aged son of Neleus,
and speaking winged words he addressed him:
“Old man, younger warriors wear you out completely,
and your strength is undone, and hard old age accompanies you,
and your attendant is weak, and your horses are slow.”

Diomedes then calls Nestor onto his own chariot to see the speed of his horses, which he took from the Trojan Aeneas in battle. [101] At Diomedes’ bidding, Nestor takes the reins and drives straight at Hector, who likewise drives straight at them. Diomedes misses Hector with his spear but he kills Hector’s driver, and Hector must then find another. Before their encounter can resume, which would have had dire consequences for the Trojans, Zeus intervenes by hurling a thunderbolt in front of Diomedes’ chariot, and his horses are brought up short, cowering in fear (Iliad 8.130–136):

ἐνθά κε λοιγὸς ἔην καὶ ἀμήχανα ἔργα γένοντο,
καί νύ κε σήκασθεν κατὰ Ἴλιον ἠΰτε ἄρνες,
εἰ μὴ ἄρ' ὀξὺ νόησε πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε·
βροντήσας δ' ἄρα δεινὸν ἀφῆκ' ἀργῆτα κεραυνόν,
κὰδ δὲ πρόσθ' ἵππων Διομήδεος ἧκε χαμᾶζε·
δεινὴ δὲ φλὸξ ὦρτο θεείου καιομένοιο,
τὼ δ' ἵππω δείσαντε καταπτήτην ὑπ' ὄχεσφι.

Then there would have been disaster and deeds beyond repair would have taken place,
and the Trojans would have been penned up in Ilion like sheep,
if the father of men and gods had not sharply perceived them;
thundering dreadfully he shot out a shining lightning bolt,
and sent it down to the ground in front of Diomedes’ horses;
a dreadful flame rose from the burning sulphur,
and the team of horses cowered in fear under the chariot.

The sign from Zeus is unambiguous. It is in fact a direct warning. Nestor, who is able to perceive subtle signs from the gods that others miss, does not {202|203} miss the intent of this one, and he tells Diomedes to turn back and flee: Zeus intends to give glory to Hector today, but some other day, perhaps, he will give glory to them. Diomedes, too, knows what the sign means, for he does not disagree with Nestor’s words. But still he is greatly pained that he must flee, for Hector will boast about it among the Trojans, and Diomedes would rather be swallowed up by the earth than endure that. Diomedes is impassioned, but Nestor prevails by chiding him, saying that the Trojan women whose husbands Diomedes has killed will not believe Hector if he calls him a coward, and with that Nestor turns the horses and retreats (Iliad 8.152–158):

“ὤ μοι Τυδέος υἱὲ δαΐφρονος, οἷον ἔειπες.
εἴ περ γάρ σ' Ἕκτωρ γε κακὸν καὶ ἀνάλκιδα φήσει,
ἀλλ' οὐ πείσονται Τρῶες καὶ Δαρδανίωνες
καὶ Τρώων ἄλοχοι μεγαθύμων ἀσπιστάων,
τάων ἐν κονίῃσι βάλες θαλεροὺς παρακοίτας.”
ὣς ἄρα φωνήσας φύγαδε τράπε μώνυχας ἵππους
αὖτις ἀν' ἰωχμόν.

“Son of keen-spirited Tydeus, what a thing you have said.
For if ever Hector says that you are cowardly and weak,
the Trojans and Dardanians will not believe him,
nor will the wives of the great-hearted Trojan spearmen,
whose lusty bedpartners you have thrown in the dust.”
Having spoken thus he turned the solid-hoofed horses to flight
back through the tumult.

As they flee, Hector taunts Diomedes, just as he feared, and he must listen to himself called a woman who will never take away the wives of the Trojans. Diomedes debates in his heart three times whether to turn back again and fight, but three times Zeus thunders from Mount Ida, giving a sign of victory to the Trojans.

§2.77 When Nestor gets onto Diomedes’ chariot in Iliad 8, and the two of them are paired as horsemen, the episode moves into the domain of Nestor’s oldest traditions, his chariot race against the Epeian twins at Bouprasion. In that race the youthful Nestor, who raced alone, lacked all “restraint,” and he was thus unable to make the turn around the turning post, and he crashed as a result. In Iliad 8 the aged Nestor, with Diomedes at his side, does turn back, and he thus avoids catastrophe. In this reversal there is a balanced pair {203|204} of twins, as it were, and not a single charioteer, but Diomedes represents “incitement” and Nestor, who is far now from his youthful self, represents “restraint.” His “restraint,” however, is not the physical act of holding the reins, although he does that too, but an act of moral persuasion. Nestor calms Diomedes with his words, and this act of “restraining” is what turns them back toward safety.

§2.78 When the youthful Nestor lost control of his chariot, the reins flew from his hands, and the horses careened off the end of the course. This is of course not described directly in Iliad 23, when Nestor speaks of his loss to the twins, but indirectly, when Idomeneus speculates among the spectators about the reason for Eumelos’s disappearance from the race (Iliad 23.465–468):

ἦε τὸν ἡνίοχον φύγον ἡνία, οὐδὲ δυνάσθη
εὖ σχεθέειν περὶ τέρμα καὶ οὐκ ἐτύχησεν ἑλίξας·
ἔνθά μιν ἐκπεσέειν ὀΐω σύν θ' ἅρματα ἆξαι,
αἳ δ' ἐξηρώησαν, ἐπεὶ μένος ἔλλαβε θυμόν.

Or the reins flew from the charioteer, and he was not able
to hold on well around the post, and did not succeed in turning;
there, I think, he fell out and broke his chariot,
and his mares careened off the course when frenzy seized their spirit.

We have seen that this description, which does not apply to what actually happened to Eumelos, in fact describes what once happened to the youthful Nestor. In Iliad 8, in an episode that is meant to bring Nestor’s youthful race to mind, the aged Nestor again lets the reins fly from his hands when Zeus hurls the thunderbolt in front of Diomedes’ horses (Iliad 8.135–138):

δεινὴ δὲ φλὸξ ὦρτο θεείου καιομένοιο,
τὼ δ' ἵππω δείσαντε καταπτήτην ὑπ' ὄχεσφι·
Νέστορα δ' ἐκ χειρῶν φύγον ἡνία σιγαλόεντα,
δεῖσε δ' ὅ γ' ἐν θυμῷ, Διομήδεα δὲ προσέειπε.

A dreadful flame rose from the burning sulphur,
and the team of horses cowered in fear under the chariot.
The shining reins flew from Nestor’s hands,
and he was afraid in his heart, and he spoke to Diomedes. {204|205}

The act of dropping the reins is the same for the youthful and for the aged Nestor, but the cause and result of this act are completely changed in the second case. The youthful Nestor let the reins fly from his hands by flailing with them to gain speed, and the horses careened off the end of the course and crashed once he lost control of them. When the aged Nestor drops the reins the horses have already stopped short, frightened by Zeus’s thunderbolt, and Nestor, with fear in his own heart, addresses Diomedes in order to restrain him and turn him back. The dropped reins are a signal to recall Nestor’s youthful race, and to draw attention to the changes rung on that race in the present episode. [102] Knowing when and how to turn back is the point.

§2.79 Iliad 8, with its allusions to the nóstoi of Nestor and Diomedes (and to that of Odysseus) on the one hand, and to the chariot race of Nestor against the Epeian twins on the other hand, serves as a bridge between Iliad 23, with its chariot race, and Odyssey 3, with its account of the Achaeans’ nóstoi. [103] At the end of my discussion of the chariot race in Iliad 23 I raised the issue of connections between this race and the nóstoi of the Achaeans. I return to this issue now, and begin with Diomedes, the winner of the race. Diomedes wins the race in the games for Patroclus because he has Athena’s help, for she gives him back his whip when it is knocked from his hands by Apollo, and she puts ménos into his horses. [104] In considering Diomedes’ victory over Eumelos, which is really a victory of two against one when Athena’s help is taken into account, I argued that his race is a transformation of the race that the Epeian twins won against Nestor. Athena plays the part of the immortal twin in Diomedes’ victory by providing “incitement” to him and to his horses. But this scheme is also relevant to Diomedes himself and to his nóstos from Troy, for he will not return on his own: he will need the help of Néstōr, the “homebringer.” Thus his race is a deliberate foreshadowing of his nóstos if we are willing to view Athena’s role in the race as a transformation of Nestor’s role in his nóstos. If this is the case, it has the interesting consequence that Nestor figures on both sides in the race for first prize: the youthful Nestor {205|206} lies behind Eumelos, who crashes, and the aged Nestor, whose nóstos is still in the future, lies behind Diomedes’ helper Athena, who plays the immortal twin to Diomedes’ mortal twin in the victory over Eumelos. In this sense the aged Nestor triumphs over the youthful Nestor in the same race. [105]

§2.80 While Nestor is human and Athena is a god, and this difference is never forgotten in the Homeric poems, the two figures do have similar functions to a certain extent. We see this again in the case of Diomedes when Athena mounts his chariot in Iliad 5 and Nestor mounts his chariot in Iliad 8. This parallel, I think, is not an accident. Nor, I think, is the contrast between the two figures, for Athena mounts Diomedes’ chariot to urge him on to attack and wound the god Ares, but Nestor mounts his chariot to prevent him from challenging the clearly demonstrated will of the god Zeus, much as Diomedes is tempted to do so. Behind both figures who ride beside Diomedes on his chariot is the immortal twin, whose role is to provide “incitement.” But in Nestor’s case, although the role of the immortal twin is, so to speak, his by birthright, he has also acquired the role of the mortal twin, and in this episode he provides “restraint.” The contrast with Athena’s role in Iliad 5 has to do with the difference between human and divine, for as Nestor tells Diomedes, a man cannot force Zeus to change his mind, since Zeus is much stronger (Iliad 8.143–144):

ἀνὴρ δέ κεν οὔ τι Διὸς νόον εἰρύσσαιτο
οὐδὲ μάλ' ἴφθιμος, ἐπεὶ ἦ πολὺ φέρτερός ἐστι.

A man would not change Zeus’s mind,
not even a very strong one, since he is much more powerful.

§2.81 There is a link between Diomedes’ victory in the chariot race in Iliad 23 and his easy nóstos in Odyssey 3. In both cases he is not alone. But the link is indirect since it involves the transformation of Nestor’s future role as “homebringer” into a role played by the goddess Athena in the race. The link between Diomedes’ nóstos and Iliad 8, on the other hand, is direct. When Nestor turns the horses back to flee, he saves Diomedes from divine wrath, just as he does later, when he flees from Tenedos with Diomedes because he “realized that the god planned evil things.” Since the direct link with {206|207} Diomedes’ nóstos is made in Iliad 8, it does not need to be made again in Iliad 23, when Diomedes wins the race driving the same team of Trojan horses that carried him safely out of battle in Iliad 8. In Iliad 23, instead of having Nestor at his side to help him, Diomedes has the help of Athena from a distance, and this too is not unrelated to his nóstos. For if Nestor, and not Athena, helped him in his nóstos, it was Athena’s wrath that had to be escaped, and Athena’s favor for him, again from a distance, is implied by the fact that he did escape.

§2.82 There is a link between Diomedes’ race in Iliad 23 and his nóstos, but the direct link with his nóstos is provided by Iliad 8, and this must be taken into account first: Iliad 23 does not repeat what Iliad 8 has already laid out, but assumes it. What of the race of Antilochus in Iliad 23? His death is directly alluded to in Iliad 8, just as the nóstos of Diomedes is. In the chariot race, however, he is a victor. Is there a sense in which his failure to return home is implied in his chariot race, victory though it is? Perhaps so, if we bear in mind that Nestor himself is at the center of the events that cause his son’s death—Antilochus dies trying to save his father—and that Nestor is equally involved in his son’s chariot race without quite seeming to be. In analyzing Antilochus’s race I traced the connection from Nestor’s speech of advice to his son’s dangerous maneuver by way of the repeated phrase oudé he lḗthei, which Nestor uses of the skillful charioteer who knows when to press his horses and seize the lead, and oudé me lḗsei, which Antilochus utters when he sees his opportunity to do exactly what Nestor has implicitly advised him to do. Nestor’s responsibility for his son’s fate is the issue here, however muted it remains. Antilochus wins the race, but in a sense he does not, for he must first give up his prize to Menelaus before he is allowed to keep it. [106] The doubt that this casts on Antilochus’s victory is the key point if his race indirectly alludes to his death and failure to return from Troy. We should also perhaps consider the fact that it is Achilles who first proposes to deny Antilochus second prize, though his motivation is not to dishonor Antilochus, but to honor Eumelos. I have already suggested that when Achilles singles Eumelos out for a special prize, his action resonates against the tradition, if it is old, that Eumelos won the chariot race in the games held at Achilles’ own funeral. [107] There is the further question, however, whether Achilles’ action {207|208} also relates to Antilochus. There is both relevance and pathos if Achilles’ proposal to deny Antilochus his victory is taken as an allusion to his death in Troy, for Antilochus is Achilles’ favorite, second only to Patroclus, and the prize in question is in honor of Patroclus’s death. In the “second Nekyia” in Odyssey 24, Agamemnon tells Achilles in the underworld how the Achaeans buried Achilles at his death with the remains of Patroclus, mixing their ashes in the same vessel, while the ashes of Antilochus, whom Achilles honored most after Patroclus died, remained apart (Odyssey 24.76–79):

ἐν τῷ τοι κεῖται λεύκ' ὀστέα, φαίδιμ' Ἀχιλλεῦ,
μίγδα δὲ Πατρόκλοιο Μενοιτιάδαο θανόντος,
χωρὶς δ' Ἀντιλόχοιο, τὸν ἔξοχα τῖες ἁπάντων
τῶν ἄλλων ἑτάρων μετὰ Πάτροκλόν γε θανόντα.

In it lie your white bones, shining Achilles,
mixed with those of Menoitios’s son Patroclus who had died,
but apart from those of Antilochus, whom you honored above all
other companions after Patroclus died.

Because of the parallel between Patroclus and Antilochus in their closeness to Achilles, it is right that there be a suggestion of Antilochus’s fate, which parallels Patroclus’s fate, when Achilles awards the prizes to honor Patroclus’s death. [108] Even more fitting is this suggestion from the standpoint of Nestor, who will involuntarily cause the death of his son, just as he has involuntarily caused the death of Patroclus. But the primary unspoken point in the chariot race concerns Nestor’s connection with the death of Patroclus—these are his funeral games—and not with the death of Antilochus. Hence, for the time being, Antilochus is an apparent victor. [109]

§2.83 Whereas allusions to Antilochus’s fate are indirect in Iliad 23, the allusion to his fate in Iliad 8 is direct. The situation is in this respect much {208|209} the same for Antilochus as for Diomedes. Significantly it is these two who are closest to Nestor and who mean most to him in terms of their return, in the case of Diomedes, or failure to return, in the case of Antilochus. In Iliad 8 the contrast between the death of Antilochus and the return of Diomedes is of primary concern in the episode’s rich interplay of allusions. We thus begin to see that from Nestor’s standpoint there was a need for the episode in Iliad 8. In Iliad 23 it is Nestor’s relation to Patroclus, and to Patroclus’s fate, that is of primary concern in terms of the episode’s hidden poetic agenda. Nestor’s relation to the contrasting fates of Diomedes and Antilochus is thus necessarily of secondary concern. But the fates of Diomedes and Antilochus were not of secondary concern to Nestor himself.

§2.84 Of the four main contestants in the chariot race of Iliad 23, we must still consider the race of Menelaus in relation to his nóstos. Menelaus finishes the race in third place, ahead of only Meriones, who is the worst driver and has the slowest horses (Iliad 23.530–531), and Eumelos, who would have finished first if he had not crashed. Menelaus finishes in the middle of the field of contestants, but his race is regarded as a loss rather than a victory because he is defeated for second prize by Antilochus. The reason for his defeat is that he deliberately holds back when Antilochus passes him on the narrow road. Antilochus’s act, which is one of “incitement,” is couched in terms of nóos in various ways, including his own statement in his apology to Menelaus that the nóos of a young man is “too swift.” Menelaus, who holds back when Antilochus surges ahead, hesitates in other contexts as well. On his nóstos, after leading half the army away from Troy to Tenedos, he falls behind Nestor and Diomedes when they flee from Tenedos. He overtakes them on Lesbos when they pause to seek a sign from the god, and he accompanies them to Geraistos in Euboea, and from there to Cape Sounion. If we compare his nóstos up to this point with his race in Iliad 23, we may say that he is still in the “race,” and if he has no chance of arriving home in Sparta before Diomedes reaches Argos, he has every chance of reaching home in second place after Diomedes. But then the same thing happens that happens in his race, namely he is forced to fall behind. His helmsman dies at Cape Sounion and, eager though he is to pursue his journey, he is detained in order to bury his companion and perform funeral rites; Nestor tells the story in Odyssey 3.284–285:

ὣς ὁ μὲν ἔνθα κατέσχετ', ἐπειγόμενός περ ὁδοῖο,
ὄφρ' ἕταρον θάπτοι καὶ ἐπὶ κτέρεα κτερίσειεν. {209|210}

So he stopped there, eager though he was for the journey,
until he buried his companion and performed funeral rites.

If the rapid progress of Nestor and Diomedes on their nóstos is due to Nestor’s accurate perception of the correct course and his incitement in pursuing that course through each successive turn along the way, Menelaus falls behind just when further incitement is needed to complete the journey. Menelaus lacks Nestor’s quality of nóos at a critical moment, and this is symbolized by his loss of his helmsman at Cape Sounion, for the helmsman is his ship’s guide, and the helmsman’s name, significantly, is Phróntis (Odyssey 3.282). Menelaus’s loss of Phróntis, whose name in later Greek means “thought, meditation, deliberation,” represents a deficiency in himself as well. [110] Without Phróntis, Menelaus is blown off course by a storm as he rounds Cape Malea. Had he stayed with Nestor, he would have rounded this dangerous cape without incident. In the chariot race it is Nestor’s son Antilochus whose act of nóos Menelaus cannot match and who leaves him behind.

§2.85 Menelaus is blown all the way to Egypt, and he wanders there and in Phoenicia for eight years (Odyssey 4.82) before he is finally able to return home, the last of the Achaeans to do so according to Athena/Mentes (Odyssey 1.286). Menelaus’s nóstos is exceedingly slow in comparison with that of Nestor and Diomedes, and yet he does return home in the end. But if his nóstos is ultimately successful, why is his chariot race regarded as a defeat? The answer to this may lie in the fact that Menelaus races not just for himself, but for himself and Agamemnon at the same time. The two of them cannot of course actually compete together in the same chariot, but both of them are represented in the team of horses that Menelaus drives, one of which is his, the other Agamemnon’s. This curious team is described when Menelaus rises next after Diomedes to enter the race (Iliad 23.293–295):

τῷ δ' ἄρ' ἐπ' Ἀτρεΐδης ὦρτο ξανθὸς Μενέλαος
διογενής, ὑπὸ δὲ ζυγὸν ἤγαγεν ὠκέας ἵππους
Αἴθην τὴν Ἀγαμεμνονέην τὸν ἑόν τε Πόδαργον.

After him the Zeus-born son of Atreus, fair-haired Menelaus, rose {210|211}
and led the swift horses under the yoke,
Aithe, Agamemnon’s mare, and Podargos, his own horse.

Whereas Menelaus’s horse is a male, Agamemnon’s is a female, and this fact plays a part in the race. For when Antilochus calls on his horses to overtake Menelaus’s he shames them with the thought of losing to a female (Iliad 23.407–409):

ἵππους δ' Ἀτρεΐδαο κιχάνετε, μὴ δὲ λίπησθον,
καρπαλίμως, μὴ σφῶϊν ἐλεγχείην καταχεύῃ
Αἴθη θῆλυς ἐοῦσα· τίη λείπεσθε φέριστοι;

Catch Atreus’s son’s horses quickly, do not lag behind,
so that Aithe, being female, may not heap reproach on the two of you;
why do you lag behind, brave ones?

Antilochus singles out Agamemnon’s mare to motivate his own team, and to this extent the mare is a liability in the race, and we may ask whether this fact relates to the nóstoi of the two Atreidai. [111] As far as Agamemnon’s nóstos is concerned, it is a female, his own wife Clytemnestra, who turns his nóstos {211|212} into his destruction. It is the death of Agamemnon that turns Menelaus’s own nóstos, successful though it is in itself, into a failure. The link between Menelaus’s late return and Agamemnon’s death is first established in Odyssey 3, when Telemachus asks Nestor how Agamemnon died, for linked to this question is another question—where was Menelaus? (Odyssey 3.248–249):

πῶς ἔθαν' Ἀτρεΐδης εὐρὺ κρείων Ἀγαμέμνων;
ποῦ Μενέλαος ἔην;

How did the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, die?
Where was Menelaus?

In his reply Nestor defends Menelaus’s reputation valiantly, saying that Telemachus himself knows that Aigisthos would have received no burial, funeral rites, or lamentation if Menelaus on his return home had encountered Aigisthos alive (Odyssey 3.254–261). The truth is, however, that Menelaus returned too late not only to defend his brother, but even to avenge him, for Orestes had already slain Aigisthos when Menelaus returned home in the eighth year. He arrived on the very day that Orestes celebrated a funeral for his mother and Aigisthos. For Menelaus himself there is little joy in his own nóstos because of his brother’s murder. In Odyssey 4, when Telemachus admires the splendor of Menelaus’s palace, and Menelaus tells how he gained his possessions during his eight years of travel, he ends by saying that these possessions bring him no joy because while he wandered abroad gathering them his brother was slain (Odyssey 4.90–92):

εἷος ἐγὼ περὶ κεῖνα πολὺν βίοτον ξυναγείρων
ἠλώμην, τεῖός μοι ἀδελφεὸν ἄλλος ἔπεφνε
λάθρῃ, ἀνωϊστί, δόλῳ οὐλομένης ἀλόχοιο.

While I wandered in those parts gathering much livelihood,
another man slew my brother
stealthily, unawares, by the guile of his ruinous wife. {212|213}

Menelaus’s nóstos is a failure in his own eyes because of his brother’s untimely death at the hands of his wife; Menelaus’s race seems to foreshadow this failure in the team that he drives, which represents his brother as well as himself, and which in his brother’s case draws attention to what may be called the female factor. [112]

§2.86 The hesitancy that cost Menelaus second prize in the chariot race, and that led to his long return home, continues to characterize him in his domestic life in Sparta. Compared to his wife Helen, who recognizes Telemachus as soon as she lays eyes on him from his similarity to Odysseus, Menelaus is slow to recognize him. Telemachus weeps when Menelaus says that he misses Odysseus most of those who fought at Troy, and Menelaus ponders whether to ask him who his father is or wait for him to say on his own (Odyssey 4.118–119). When Helen enters the room and surmises at once that this is Telemachus, Menelaus also perceives the likeness: οὕτω νῦν καὶ ἐγὼ νοέω, γύναι, ὡς σὺ ἐΐσκεις (Odyssey 4.148). Once Helen has pointed out the likeness, everything falls into place for Menelaus. He now sees many points of similarity to Odysseus, and he understands why mention of Odysseus made Telemachus weep (Odyssey 4.149–154). On his own, however, Menelaus perceived none of this. Helen takes the lead in other ways as well in Odyssey 4, as when she puts a drug in the wine to dull the pain of remembrance and tells a story in praise of Odysseus. Menelaus follows her lead with his own story in Odysseus’s praise (Odyssey 4.219–289). The contrast between Helen and Menelaus is still more sharply drawn in Odyssey 15, when a bird omen appears at the end of a speech of Telemachus; Peisistratos calls on Menelaus to interpret the omen, Menelaus hesitates, and Helen interprets it instead (Odyssey 15.160–173).

§2.87 Menelaus is a follower rather than a leader in the Iliad too in his relationship with Agamemnon. This is perhaps the origin of his characteristic {213|214} hesitancy, for Agamemnon is the commander-in-chief, and Menelaus necessarily follows his brother’s lead. In Iliad 10, with the Trojans camped nearby, Agamemnon and Menelaus both cannot sleep, and each rises from his bed to seek counsel. Agamemnon, who is described first, decides to seek out Nestor’s advice. Menelaus, on the other hand, goes to awaken his brother, whom he finds already up and arming himself (Iliad 10.32–34):

βῆ δ' ἴμεν ἀνστήσων ὃν ἀδελφεόν, ὃς μέγα πάντων
Ἀργείων ἤνασσε, θεὸς δ' ὣς τίετο δήμῳ.
τὸν δ' εὗρ' ἀμφ' ὤμοισι τιθήμενον ἔντεα καλὰ.

He went to rouse his brother, who ruled greatly over all
the Argives and was honored like a god by the people.
He found him putting beautiful weapons on his shoulders.

In this situation calling for wise counsel the direction of dependency is clear, with Menelaus seeking out Agamemnon, and Agamemnon seeking out Nestor. Nevertheless it is Menelaus who immediately suggests to Agamemnon the plan that is set in motion in Iliad 10, namely sending a spy against the Trojans (Iliad 10.37–38). The brothers then part to awaken different heroes and call them to council. When Agamemnon awakens Nestor, Nestor prepares to follow him and call others. But first he finds fault with Menelaus for sleeping and letting Agamemnon exert himself at this dangerous pass. When Agamemnon corrects Nestor’s misconception, he says that he is right to blame Menelaus at other times, for he often holds back and does not wish to exert himself, not out of hesitancy or dull-wittedness, but because he waits for Agamemnon’s lead (Iliad 10.120–123):

ὦ γέρον ἄλλοτε μέν σε καὶ αἰτιάασθαι ἄνωγα·
πολλάκι γὰρ μεθιεῖ τε καὶ οὐκ ἐθέλει πονέεσθαι
οὔτ' ὄκνῳ εἴκων οὔτ' ἀφραδίῃσι νόοιο,
ἀλλ' ἐμέ τ' εἰσορόων καὶ ἐμὴν ποτιδέγμενος ὁρμήν.

Old man, I urge you at other times to find fault with him,
for he often gives way and does not want to exert himself,
not because he yields to fear or helplessness of mind,
but because he looks to me and awaits my lead. [113] {214|215}

Menelaus “gives way,” not out of hesitancy or dull-wittedness, but because he needs his brother’s lead. The verb methieî, “gives way,” in Iliad 10.121 brings us back to Menelaus’s chariot race, in which he “willingly gave way” to Telemachus to avoid a crash (Iliad 23.434–435):

αὐτὸς γὰρ ἑκὼν μεθέηκεν ἐλαύνειν
μή πως συγκύρσειαν ὁδῷ ἔνι μώνυχες ἵπποι.

For he himself deliberately let up driving,
so the solid-hoofed horses would not run into each other on the road.

The verb methíēmi used of Menelaus in these two different contexts is highly suggestive. [114] What looks like hesitancy and a lack of nóos in Menelaus is due to the fact that he is not used to acting on his own. Menelaus truly acts on his own for the first time at the drunken assembly after the fall of Troy, when he opposes Agamemnon and leaves him behind once and for all. This does not change his character, however, for hesitancy and a nóos that is not fast enough mark his nóstos, when he no longer has his brother’s lead to follow. Menelaus’s chariot race in Iliad 23 anticipates his nóstos, for he is on his own in this too, and at the crucial moment he “gives way.” [115] {215|216}

§2.88 This completes the comparison of the races run by the charioteers of Iliad 23 with their later nóstoi. [116] The connection is strongest for Menelaus, since his nóstos is not alluded to more directly elsewhere in the Iliad, as is the nóstos of Diomedes, and as is also the death of Antilochus in Troy, which denied him a nóstos. As we have seen, the fates of Diomedes and Antilochus are also at issue in Iliad 23, but they play a subordinate role to Nestor’s old race against the Epeian twins, which they in different ways reenact. While Antilochus reenacts the “incitement” that characterized Nestor’s race, Diomedes, with Athena’s help from a distance, reenacts the successful race of the Epeian twins. The remaining contestant, Eumelos, reenacts the youthful race of Nestor himself, and this is the entire focus of Eumelos’s race. We know nothing of his nóstos, and it is unlikely that it concerned the poet of Iliad 23. Eumelos’s role in reenacting the youthful Nestor’s race, which is the great unspoken point of the chariot race, does not compete for our attention with a secondary purpose. [117]

§2.89 Now that we have considered the relationships that connect Iliad 8 and Iliad 23 with Odyssey 3, we should step back briefly and consider the implications of these connections for the relationship between the Iliad and the Odyssey in general. On the one hand, Iliad 8, in its allusions to the nóstoi of Diomedes and Odysseus, seems to presuppose our Odyssey 3. On the other hand, the allusion in Iliad 8 to the death of Antilochus is not to a specific text, so the allusions in Iliad 8 to the nóstoi of Diomedes and Odysseus also need not {216|217} be to a specific text. I leave the issue pending for now; we will return to it in due course. [118]

§2.90 We have now considered most of Nestor’s role in the Odyssey, which is essentially a negative one: Nestor did not bring Odysseus home; worse than that, when Nestor last saw Odysseus they had an angry dispute and parted permanently. This was the plain truth, and however unspoken it is left in Odyssey 3, it is in no way denied. But there are other factors that soften the harshness of what happened. In particular, Telemachus and Peisistratos, the sons of the two heroes who parted angrily, form a bond between them that heals that earlier breach. The presence of Athena, disguised as Mentor, also puts everything in a new perspective.

§2.91 Athena herself arranges for Peisistratos to take her place as Telemachus’s traveling companion (Odyssey 3.368–370). When the two youths leave Pylos for Sparta at the end of Odyssey 3 they together mount the chariot that Nestor has had prepared for them (Odyssey 3.481–484):

ἂν δ' ἄρα Τηλέμαχος περικαλλέα βήσετο δίφρον·
πὰρ δ' ἄρα Νεστορίδης Πεισίστρατος, ὄρχαμος ἀνδρῶν,
ἐς δίφρον τ' ἀνέβαινε καὶ ἡνία λάζετο χερσί,
μάστιξεν δ' ἐλάαν.

Telemachus mounted the splendid chariot;
next to him Nestor’s son Peisistratos, leader of men,
mounted the chariot and grasped the reins with his hands,
and whipped the horses up.

The quarrel that separated Nestor and Odysseus, with such dire consequences for Odysseus, is now made up by their sons, and that is the image that we are left with at the end of Odyssey 3, as Peisistratos takes Telemachus on his way. The role that Nestor plays in the nóstos of Odysseus is based on his version of the twin myth, in which he is permanently separated from his brother. So too he is permanently separated from Odysseus at the very moment of his {217|218} nóstos. But the image at the end of Odyssey 3 is one of reintegration, and the chariot in which this reintegration takes place suggests poetically the integration of twins. The quarrel between Nestor and Odysseus has not been undone, for it cannot be, and there are echoes of this quarrel even in the very last that we hear about Nestor in the Odyssey. For so I would interpret Odyssey 15, when Telemachus returns with Peisistratos from Sparta to Pylos, but does not stop to see Nestor before embarking for Ithaca. When Telemachus asks that Peisistratos allow him to do this because of the urgency that he feels to leave, he stresses his friendship with Peisistratos himself, which is based on the earlier friendship of their fathers, and which the journey to Sparta has increased (Odyssey 15.195–198):

Νεστορίδη, πῶς κέν μοι ὑποσχόμενος τελέσειας
μῦθον ἐμόν; ξεῖνοι δὲ διαμπερὲς εὐχόμεθ' εἶναι
ἐκ πατέρων φιλότητος, ἀτὰρ καὶ ὁμήλικές εἰμεν·
ἥδε δ' ὁδὸς καὶ μᾶλλον ὁμοφροσύνῃσιν ἐνήσει.

Son of Nestor, I wonder if you would agree to carry out
what I say? We claim to be guest-friends without break
from the friendship of our fathers, and we are also of the same age;
and this journey will bring us even more to like-mindedness.

It seems significant that the word used of their increased friendship is “oneness of mind” (homophrosúnēisin), for that is what Nestor and Odysseus had while their friendship was intact, and what they lost at the moment of nóstos. That former “oneness of mind” (héna thumòn ékhonte is Nestor’s own phrase) has now been restored in the younger generation. It also seems significant that when Peisistratos grants his companion’s request, his final word should concern Nestor’s anger. Telemachus is worried that Nestor will detain him in order to show him hospitality, so Peisistratos himself performs the obligations of hospitality, giving Telemachus the gifts that he himself received from Menelaus (Odyssey 15.206–207), and urging him to set sail before Nestor hears of his presence. For Peisistratos knows how overbearing Nestor’s spirit is, and that he will come for Telemachus and not return empty-handed; in any case he will be very angry (Odyssey 15.211–214):

εὖ γὰρ ἐγὼ τόδε οἶδα κατὰ φρένα καὶ κατὰ θυμόν·
οἷος κείνου θυμὸς ὑπέρβιος, οὔ σε μεθήσει, {218|219}
ἀλλ' αὐτὸς καλέων δεῦρ' εἴσεται, οὐδέ ἕ φημι
ἂψ ἰέναι κενεόν· μάλα γὰρ κεχολώσεται ἔμπης.

For I know this well in my mind and heart:
his spirit is so headstrong that he will not let you go,
but he will come here himself and I am sure
that he will not return empty-handed; in any case he will be very angry.

That the last word in the Odyssey about Nestor should concern his anger is remarkable, but poetically it is exactly right. Overtly Nestor’s imagined anger has to do with a thwarted desire to show hospitality to the son of Odysseus, but beneath the surface it brings back to mind the role that Nestor played in the return of Odysseus himself, a role that is well summarized by the allusion to his anger. In his own account of events on Tenedos there was of course no mention of Nestor’s anger, and yet, if he was one party to the dispute, anger there must have been; we can judge this by the exchange of harsh words between Menelaus and Agamemnon in the first dispute on the shores of Troy: ὣς τὼ μὲν χαλεποῖσιν ἀμειβομένω ἐπέεσσιν… (Odyssey 3.148). The suppression of any mention of Nestor’s anger in the context where it is the main point, and the resurfacing of that anger at a safe distance, and with a crucial change of context from hostility to hospitality, is in line with the poetic treatment of Nestor in the Iliad. In Iliad 23 it was Nestor’s crash at the turning post in his race against the Epeian twins that was never mentioned directly, but which surfaced more than once indirectly in the chariot race for Patroclus. In the Odyssey the great unspoken event in Nestor’s past is his quarrel with Odysseus, and the hostility that that implied. However brief the hostility, it was the final moment in the relationship between these two heroes, and therefore all important. This final moment must be kept firmly in mind throughout Odyssey 3, and elsewhere in the Odyssey, to appreciate the full dramatic effect of Nestor’s presence in the poem, just as his crash at the turning post must be kept in mind throughout the chariot race of Iliad 23. At the beginning of Odyssey 3 the apprehension that Telemachus feels in approaching and addressing Nestor, which Athena, disguised as Mentor, helps him to overcome, has to do first of all with the coming of age of a young man with little experience of the wider world. But the drama of Telemachus’s reluctance is heightened when we understand just whom he is afraid to approach, and the circumstances under which this figure parted from his father. {219|220}

§2.92 Athena takes charge of Odysseus’s homecoming at the very start of the Odyssey, at the council of gods in Odyssey 1, and her presence in Pylos in Odyssey 3 thus puts everything in a new perspective. It no longer matters that Odysseus split from Nestor the “homebringer,” because a greater power, Athena herself, will bring him home: Athena has, as it were, already taken Nestor’s place as Odysseus’s immortal twin. In Odyssey 3 Athena’s immediate concern is for Odysseus’s son during his journey, which is a smaller version of Odysseus’s own nóstos. Athena’s disguise as the aged Mentor when she accompanies Telemachus derives directly, I think, from the figure of the aged Nestor, the principal figure in Odyssey 3. In order to hear first-hand how Odysseus lost the aged Nestor’s help when Troy fell, Telemachus travels to Pylos with the aged Mentor at his side: what was split apart has thus already been put back together in a new form, as it will be again in the case of Peisistratos and Telemachus at the end of Odyssey 3. Peisistratos replaces Athena/Mentor in the role of Telemachus’s companion, and it is Athena herself who arranges to have him do so. The point in Athena’s case even more than in Peisistratos’s case is the reversal of Nestor’s myth, which is one of separation, in favor of a new and more powerful reintegration. Athena is not an Indo-European twin figure, but the dynamics of her role are those of the Indo-European twin myth, and this is because of Nestor. [119]

§2.93 The name Méntōr was chosen for Athena’s disguise, I think, to echo the name Néstōr: the choice of name was meant to identify the figure from whom her role is borrowed. This idea, suggested in Part 1 above, can now be elaborated further. It is first of all striking that, in both these agent nouns with suffix ‑tōr, a normally intransitive verbal root has a transitive meaning. The primary meaning of Méntōr is “inciter” (root *men- of mémona, “be eager,” ménos, “spirit”), and this meaning clearly evokes Nestor, whether we think of his role in the chariot race of Iliad 23 or his swift homecoming in Odyssey 3: Méntōr, who “makes eager,” parallels Néstōr, who “brings back to life.” [120] The mental aspect of Néstōr, which is summed up in the word nóos, also has a parallel in the name Méntōr, which in the Odyssey is associated with verbs of “remembering” and “reminding,” and thus seems to have the secondary meaning “reminder”; it is because of Néstōr, I {220|221} suggest, that the Odyssey brings in these secondary associations, which are not primary in the name itself. [121]

§2.94 What the name Méntōr lacks altogether is the basic meaning of Néstōr, namely “homebringer.” [122] In Odyssey 15 Athena, no longer disguised as Mentor, still acts as a Méntōr in relation to Telemachus when she visits him openly in Sparta in order “to remind him of his return and to incite him to return”: νόστου ὑπομνήσουσα καὶ ὀτρυνέουσα νέεσθαι (Odyssey 15.3). I take this line as a virtual gloss on the name Méntōr, understood as both “inciter” (otrunéousa) and “reminder” (hupomnḗsousa), and I note the addition of the idea of “return” (in the words nóstou and néesthai) to both meanings to express what the name Néstōr contains in itself.

§2.95 There is a further piece of evidence. The name Méntōr forms a pair with the name Menélaos like such other name pairs as Áktōr/Agélaos, Héktōr/Ekhélaos, and Néstōr/Nehelawos. [123] The gloss of the name Méntōr in Odyssey 15 suggested above seems to be paralleled by a gloss of the name Menélaos, understood as “he who reminds the warfolk,” in Nestor’s account of the Achaeans’ nóstoi in Odyssey 3. If this is the case there is an obvious implication for the name Méntōr, likewise at issue in Odyssey 3. The name Menélaos is usually derived, not from the root *men- of Méntōr, but from the root *men- of {221|222} Greek ménō, “await, withstand,” as in such apparently similar compounds as menedḗios, “withstanding the enemy,” meneptólemos, “withstanding battle,” menekhármēs, “withstanding battle.” [124] But the supposed meaning of Menélaos, “he who withstands the warfolk,” has a problem: in Homer the word laós, by a wide margin, refers to one’s own “warfolk,” and not to the enemy’s; this is also the case in such names as Agélaos, “he who leads the warfolk,” Ekhélaos, “he who protects the warfolk,” and Nehelawos, “he who brings the warfolk back,” and it should be the case in the name Menélaos as well. [125]

§2.96 After the fall of Troy Menelaus “reminds the warfolk” of their “return home” when he quarrels with Agamemnon over the very issue of “return.” As Nestor puts it, “Menelaus urged all the Achaeans to remember their nóstos” (Odyssey 3.141–144):

ἔνθ' ἦ τοι Μενέλαος ἀνώγει πάντας Ἀχαιοὺς
νόστου μιμνήσκεσθαι ἐπ' εὐρέα νῶτα θαλάσσης·
οὐδ' Ἀγαμέμνονι πάμπαν ἑήνδανε· βούλετο γάρ ῥα
λαὸν ἐρυκακέειν ῥέξαι θ' ἱερὰς ἑκατόμβας.

Then Menelaus urged all the Achaeans
to remember their return across the wide back of the sea;
but this did not please Agamemnon at all; for he wanted
to restrain the warriors and offer sacred hecatombs.

§2.97 In the phrase anṓgei pántas Akhaioùs…mimnḗskesthai, “he urged all the Achaeans to remember,” the allusion to the meaning of Menelaus’s name, “he who reminds the warfolk,” is self-evident. [126] But it is also clear that nóstou, {222|223} “their homecoming,” must be added to “remember” to make Menelaus’s name relevant to his own twin myth in the context of the Greeks’ nóstoi. This additional element does not need to be specified in Nestor’s case when he replays his twin myth with Odysseus on Tenedos, for his name by itself means “the homebringer.”

§2.98 I come back to the point that the name Néstōr is central in Odyssey 3, and that the name Méntōr is meant to echo it: the two names are identical in shape, and the semantics of Néstōr are approximated in Méntōr, especially when the related name Menélaos, with its explicit connection to the idea of a nóstos in Odyssey 3, is taken into account. [127] {223|224}

§2.99 Mentor for Athena is just a disguise. In her own persona she is in control of events, and Nestor, a mere mortal, does not rival her superior power. In Odyssey 3 much attention is given to the transfer of responsibility for Odysseus from Nestor (he did not bring Odysseus home) to Athena (she will). The theme is introduced with references to Athena’s care for Odysseus at Troy and the possibility that she may bring him home even now. Since Athena herself is present in disguise, all of this is highly ironic. Telemachus wishes that the gods would give him power to defeat his mother’s suitors, but says that the gods have not granted this lot either to him or to his father. Nestor counters his pessimism with the thought that the suitors may yet be punished, either by a returning Odysseus, or by Telemachus himself if Athena loves him as much as she openly loved and cared for Odysseus at Troy (Odyssey 3.216–224):

τίς δ' οἶδ' εἴ κέ ποτέ σφι βίας ἀποτείσεται ἐλθών,
ἢ ὅ γε μοῦνος ἐὼν ἢ καὶ σύμπαντες Ἀχαιοί;
εἰ γάρ σ' ὣς ἐθέλοι φιλέειν γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη,
ὡς τότ' Ὀδυσσῆος περικήδετο κυδαλίμοιο
δήμῳ ἔνι Τρώων, ὅθι πάσχομεν ἄλγε' Ἀχαιοί·
οὐ γάρ πω ἴδον ὧδε θεοὺς ἀναφανδὰ φιλεῦντας,
ὡς κείνῳ ἀναφανδὰ παρίστατο Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη·
εἴ σ' οὕτως ἐθέλοι φιλέειν κήδοιτό τε θυμῷ,
τῶ κέν τις κείνων γε καὶ ἐκλελάθοιτο γάμοιο.

Who knows whether he will some day come and repay their violence,
either alone or with all the Achaeans?
For if grey-eyed Athena should wish to love you
as she once cared for glorious Odysseus
in the land of the Trojans, where we Achaeans suffered woes—
for never did I see gods love so openly
as when Pallas Athena openly stood by that man—
if she wished to love you and cared for you in her heart like that,
then some of them might stop thinking about marriage. {224|225}

Telemachus refuses to believe that this will happen, even if the gods should wish it, and Athena/Mentor rebukes him sharply for his attitude (Odyssey 3.230–231):

Τηλέμαχε, ποῖόν σε ἔπος φύγεν ἕρκος ὀδόντων.
ῥεῖα θεός γ' ἐθέλων καὶ τηλόθεν ἄνδρα σαώσαι.

Telemachus, what sort of word has escaped the barrier of your teeth?
A god who wished to could easily save a man however far off.

When Athena finishes her mission in Pylos and flies off in the form of a bird, Nestor recognizes her at once, and realizes that Telemachus does indeed have the same goddess to protect him that his father did at Troy (Odyssey 3.371–379). Athena’s presence is as hopeful for Odysseus and his fate as it is for Telemachus, for she herself said shortly before that a god could easily save a man even from far away. But this implication is left unstated, for Nestor has more immediate thoughts in his mind. He prays to the goddess who has just visited him to give “good fame” to himself and his family, and he promises to sacrifice an unbroken heifer with gilded horns to her (Odyssey 3.380–384). Athena hears his prayer, and most of the rest of Odyssey 3 is devoted to the honor that Nestor pays her. When they go to bed at night, it is to Athena that Nestor makes his libation and prayer (Odyssey 3.393–394). When morning comes, the promised heifer is sacrificed in full ritual splendor, and the process is described in elaborate detail (Odyssey 3.404–474). In the course of the sacrifice Nestor “prays much to Athena” for yet a third time (Odyssey 3.445–446). The great honor paid to Athena at the end of Odyssey 3 balances the scene at the beginning of the book, when Telemachus and Athena arrive in Pylos in the middle of a sacrifice to Poseidon. The shift from Poseidon to Athena heightens the attention on Athena, without dishonoring Poseidon. There has also been another shift in Odyssey 3, and that is from Nestor to Athena as “homebringer” for Odysseus. This is a shift from human to divine, and the change of level is what is brought out in Nestor’s worship of Athena at the end of the book. Odysseus, despite his long absence, has a greater power on his side now than Nestor, with whom he quarreled and split to initiate his long absence. The shift from Nestor to Athena does not dishonor Nestor, although that possibility is present throughout Odyssey 3 because of the negativity of Nestor’s role in the nóstos of Odysseus. Perhaps it is to counter this possibility that Nestor explicitly prays for “good fame” (kléos esthlón) as soon as he recognizes Athena, and that she hears his prayer (Odyssey 3.380–381, 385). {225|227}


[ back ] 71. See n1.2 above for a comparison of Iliad 1.250–252 with Odyssey 3.245–246.

[ back ] 72. Odyssey 4.555–560.

[ back ] 73. Cf. Odysseus’s characterization of himself in Odyssey 9.19–20: hòs pā̂si dóloisin / anthrṓpoisi mélō, “(I) who am a concern to (am known to) all men for my wiles.”

[ back ] 74. See n1.156 above.

[ back ] 75. Ajax too died en nóstōi; Proteus, the old man of the sea, refers to Ajax and Agamemnon in one breath as the two leaders of the Achaeans to suffer this fate (Odyssey 4.496–497): ἀρχοὶ δ' αὖ δύο μοῦνοι Ἀχαιῶν χαλκοχιτώνων / ἐν νόστῳ ἀπόλοντο, “two leaders only of the bronze-clad Achaeans / perished in their return.” Whereas Ajax perished in the middle of the sea, Agamemnon perished at home, but neither one achieved a nóstos (cf. Odyssey 24.96, where Agamemnon’s shade refers to his own death en nóstōi, “in my return”). The reason that Ajax and Agamemnon are paired in Proteus’s speech is, I think, that they are examples of the two great dangers that Odysseus must face to achieve his nóstos: surviving Poseidon’s attack on him at sea when he nears Scheria (Ajax was destroyed at sea by Poseidon), and overcoming the rivals for his wife (Agamemnon was destroyed by the rival for his wife). A successful nóstos, in the sense that Odysseus will achieve it, is contrasted with the failed nóstos of both heroes.

[ back ] 76. The immortal twin was marked by “intelligence,” and the “foolishness” of Agamemnon, the mortal twin in this situation, should be viewed from this perspective.

[ back ] 77. Ajax is the only real evildoer. Agamemnon himself is treated as an undeserving victim by the Odyssey. It has been argued that Odysseus too merited Athena’s wrath, but that the tradition for this is naturally minimized in the Odyssey; Jenny Clay, for example, argues that Athena’s long absence during Odysseus’s nóstos is explained by his culpability (Clay 1983:50–51, with references to similar views held by others). The case against Odysseus depends primarily on Odyssey 5.105–111, where Hermes gives Calypso an account of how Odysseus came to her island which differs from Odysseus’s own account: in Hermes’ account, when Troy was sacked and those who fought at Troy left for home, they sinned against Athena in their return (ἀτὰρ ἐν νόστῳ Ἀθηναίην ἀλίτοντο, Odyssey 5.108); Athena sent a storm against them in which all Odysseus’s companions were destroyed, but Odysseus himself escaped to Calypso’s island. This is certainly an abbreviated account, which leaves out (among much else) the cattle of Helios and the role of Zeus in destroying Odysseus’s last ship and remaining companions, and some would explain the discrepancy as due to abbreviation alone; but Odysseus too claims the authority of Hermes, through Calypso, for his version of events (in particular, the role of Zeus in dashing his ship, Odyssey 12.389–390), and this looks like a genuine conflict of traditions.

[ back ] 78. The reconstructed verb nései in Odyssey 18.265, if its occurrence in this traditional line had not yet been changed to the form anései of our manuscripts by the Homeric era, implies that the name Néstōr was still understood in the Homeric era. Conversely, if the name Néstōr was still understood, so too must the verb nései have been. Nestor’s role in Odyssey 3 is the key to both issues (cf. §1.23–§1.24 above). I use the term “homebringer” of Nestor (and “homebringing” of his function) for the sake of convenience; I have in mind the terms “homecomer” and “homecoming,” with which these terms contrast.

[ back ] 79. To reach Pylos from Argos he had to round Cape Maleia; this he did without incident, in contrast to Menelaus, whom a storm blew off course all the way to Egypt. The Nostoi followed the same tradition as the Odyssey for the return of Nestor and Diomedes on the one hand and of Menelaus on the other hand; Proclus’s summary begins as follows (Chrestomathy lines 279–287 [Allen 1912:108 lines 16–22]): Ἀθηνᾶ Ἀγαμέμνονα καὶ Μενέλαον εἰς ἔριν καθίστησι περὶ τοῦ ἔκπλου. Ἀγαμέμνων μὲν οὖν τὸν τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς ἐξιλασόμενος χόλον ἐπιμένει. Διομήδης δὲ καὶ Νέστωρ ἀναχθέντες εἰς τὴν οἰκείαν διασῴζονται. μεθ' οὓς ἐκπλεύσας ὁ Μενέλαος μετὰ πέντε νεῶν εἰς Αἴγυπτον παραγίνεται, τῶν λοιπῶν διαφθαρεισῶν νεῶν ἐν τῷ πελάγει, “Athena puts Agamemnon and Menelaus into a quarrel about the departure. Agamemnon remains to propitiate Athena’s anger. Diomedes and Nestor set sail and arrive home safely. Menelaus leaves after them and arrives in Egypt with five ships, the rest of his ships having been destroyed in the sea.” Homer seems to know nothing of the tradition, attested first for Mimnermus (fr. 22 West = scholia to Lycophron 610), that Diomedes’ wife Aigialeia was unfaithful and plotted against him, and that Diomedes had to flee Argos for Italy, where he was killed; this, according to Mimnermus, was Aphrodite’s punishment of Diomedes for his wounding her at Troy; but in the Homeric episode itself Aigialeia is called períphrōn, “prudent,” a characteristic epithet of Penelope, the paragon of faithfulness (Iliad 5.412; cf. Matthews 1996:250–253). Marks 2008, ch. 5, argues that Nestor’s account of the Achaeans’ nóstoi deliberately suppresses stories of further wanderings in the case of Diomedes and others (Neoptolemos, Philoctetes, Idomeneus), and that these traditions were therefore already in existence; this may well be the case.

[ back ] 80. In this scene Hera first tells Athena to “restrain” each man with gentle words (erḗtue, Iliad 2.164), and Athena repeats the command to Odysseus (erḗtue, Iliad 2.180), who carries it out (erētúsaske, Iliad 2.189). On the dē̂mos he uses the staff (Iliad 2.198–206), until finally all but Thersites are “restrained in their seats” (erḗtuthen dè kath’ hédras, Iliad 2.211). He then smites Thersites after his outburst (Iliad 2.265–269). Nestor then chides the army and tells Agamemnon to keep steady counsel and to rule the Argives as before (Iliad 2.344–345), ending his speech with a piece of tactical advice for the commander-in-chief. For Odysseus’s role in restraining others as typical of him, in this scene and elsewhere, cf. Lentini 2006:121n3 and 140n1.

[ back ] 81. Odysseus speaks as follows (Iliad 2.299–300):

τλῆτε φίλοι, καὶ μείνατ' ἐπὶ χρόνον ὄφρα δαῶμεν
ἢ ἐτεὸν Κάλχας μαντεύεται ἦε καὶ οὐκί.

Hold out, friends, and wait for a time until we know
whether Calchas prophesies truly or not.

He then recounts the portent of the serpent that ate nine sparrows and Calchas’s interpretation that the Argives would fight for nine years and capture Troy in the tenth.

[ back ] 82. The alternative sacrifices (ἢ βοὸς ἢ οἰὸς, “either of an ox or a sheep”), as well as the pronoun τις, “someone,” generalize the situation. Note too that in Iliad 2, when Nestor affirms the positive sign that he once saw, he responds to Agamemnon, who in his “trial” of the army denies the positive sign that he once saw (Iliad 2.111–115; cf. Christensen 2007:168–169).

[ back ] 83. Nestor’s prayer in Iliad 15 and his speech in Iliad 2 have a formal similarity in that both refer to Zeus’s “promise” and his “nod of assent.” The pattern is formulaic. In Iliad 15.374 the phrase ὑπέσχεο καὶ κατένευσας, “you promised and nodded assent,” is used (essentially the same formula occurs in Agamemnon’s “trial” of the army: ὑπέσχετο καὶ κατένευσεν, “he promised and nodded assent,” Iliad 2.112; see previous note). Nestor’s speech in Iliad 2 differs slightly in that the phrase Διὸς…ὑπόσχεσις is used instead of a verb “to promise” to suit the more complex context (Iliad 2.344–350):

Ἀτρεΐδη σὺ δ' ἔθ' ὡς πρὶν ἔχων ἀστεμφέα βουλὴν
ἄρχευ' Ἀργείοισι κατὰ κρατερὰς ὑσμίνας,
τούσδε δ' ἔα φθινύθειν ἕνα καὶ δύο, τοί κεν Ἀχαιῶν
νόσφιν βουλεύωσ'· ἄνυσις δ' οὐκ ἔσσεται αὐτῶν·
πρὶν Ἄργος δ' ἰέναι πρὶν καὶ Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο
γνώμεναι εἴ τε ψεῦδος ὑπόσχεσις εἴ τε καὶ οὐκί.
φημὶ γὰρ οὖν κατανεῦσαι ὑπερμενέα Κρονίωνα….

Son of Atreus, keep firm counsel now as before
and command the Argives in the fierce fighting,
and let these one or two who take counsel apart from the Achaeans
perish; they will have no effect;
before returning to Argos find out first
whether the promise of the aegis-holder Zeus is a lie or not.
For I say that the mighty son of Kronos nodded in assent….

Zeus’s promise is different in the two passages (a safe return in Iliad 15 versus the capture of Troy in Iliad 2) but the occasion seems to be the same; note that if Nestor’s words τούσδε δ' ἔα φθινύθειν, “let these men perish,” in Iliad 2 are taken literally he implies that the “one or two” who leave Troy prematurely will not have a safe return: the promise of a safe return, it seems, depends on staying to take Troy.

[ back ] 84. For the purposes of the plot the Trojans must press their attack at this point so that Patroclus, who is in Eurypylos’s tent, will hear them and return to Achilles.

[ back ] 85. There is a further passage in the Iliad where Nestor correctly interprets a sign from Zeus: Iliad 8.130–144. This passage, which is discussed §2.76 below, is also very much to the point here in that the episode containing it features both Nestor and Diomedes and evokes their nóstos together.

[ back ] 86. The notion of “doubt” itself offers a useful parallel. Latin dubium and dubitare, “doubt,” contain the root of duo, “two”; “to be in doubt” (in dubio esse) is etymologically “to be in two” (cf. German zweifeln from zwei). The Greek phrase en doiē̂i, “in doubt,” is the equivalent of Latin in dubio; the root of doiḗ is *dwei-, which is also found in Greek déos and deídō, “fear, be afraid.” Benveniste 1954:254–255 (= 1966:294–295) points out a striking collocation of the phrase en doiē̂i, “in doubt,” and the verb deídimen, “we are afraid,” in Iliad 9.229–231 (addressed to Achilles by Odysseus):

ἀλλὰ λίην μέγα πῆμα διοτρεφὲς εἰσορόωντες
δείδιμεν· ἐν δοιῇ δὲ σαωσέμεν ἢ ἀπολέσθαι
νῆας ἐϋσσέλμους, εἰ μὴ σύ γε δύσεαι ἀλκήν.

But seeing a very great woe, Zeus-nourished one,
we are afraid; it is in doubt whether we will save our well-benched ships
or they will be destroyed if you do not put on your might.

For the dynamics of Nestor’s return from Troy cf. Dickson 1995:80–81.

[ back ] 87. I suggested in §1.69 above that the mental process at issue in the Indo-European twin myth was an alternation between consciousness and unconsciousness. In the Greek myth the mental process is more developed that that, and perhaps it was more developed than that in the Indo-European myth as well, but the evidence is lacking: the Sanskrit evidence for the “intelligence” of the immortal twin (the epic figure Sahadeva and the Vedic collocation dasrā́ bhiṣájā) no longer relates to the basic dynamic of the twin myth, an alternation between life and death. Hence there is nothing in Indic to compare with the Greek Nestor in order to determine the mental process of the Indo-European myth.

[ back ] 88. Did Diomedes “restrain” Nestor at Lesbos before Nestor received a sign from the god to proceed with the dangerous crossing of the open sea? This does not seem altogether likely when we consider the relationship between Nestor and Diomedes in the Iliad (see below on Iliad 8.130–171, where Nestor restrains an impetuous Diomedes). But roles in the Iliad may have been reversed in the Odyssey. From the standpoint of the underlying twin myth it would be interesting if Diomedes advocated the slower, safer course through the Cyclades, Nestor the faster, more dangerous course through the open sea, and if Nestor then sought and got the sign to take the bolder course and persuaded Diomedes to follow.

[ back ] 89. The underlined phrase has only one parallel in Homer, and there boulḗ is replaced by mē̂tis: it occurs in a speech of Penelope to Odysseus regarding her reputation, which troubles her because of her inability to show him proper hospitality (Odyssey 19.325–328):

πῶς γὰρ ἐμεῦ σύ, ξεῖνε, δαήσεαι, εἴ τι γυναικῶν
ἀλλάων περίειμι νόον καὶ ἐπίφρονα μῆτιν,
εἴ κεν ἀϋσταλέος, κακὰ εἱμένος ἐν μεγάροισι

How will you learn about me, stranger, whether I surpass
other women at all in mind and shrewd intelligence,
if you dine in my halls unbathed,
dressed in rags?

[ back ] 90. The phrase ἐπίφρονα βουλήν/ ἐπίφρονι βουλῇ occurs in Homer only in the two passages discussed; there is another example in Hesiod Theogony 896 with reference to Athena: ἶσον ἔχουσαν πατρὶ μένος καὶ ἐπίφρονα βουλήν, “having strength and shrewd counsel equal to her father.”

[ back ] 91. §1.35–§1.36 above.

[ back ] 92. In his speech to Menelaus Peisistratos says that he grieves for Antilochus although he never met or saw him (Odyssey 4.199–202).

[ back ] 93. In the rest of his speech Nestor orders the young men to guard the Greek camp and he calls on Agamemnon to summon a council of elders (Iliad 9.63–78); at the council of elders he suggests his plan to send an embassy to Achilles.

[ back ] 94. It is ironic that only Nestor, the best at perceiving signs, cannot obey this one.

[ back ] 95. The Homeric poets, who knew that Antilochus died at Troy at Memnon’s hands (Odyssey 4.186–188; see §2.71 above), do not tell the story, which appears first in Pindar (see below in text). For M. L. West’s view that the Memnon tradition was unknown to the Iliad, see EN4.7 below. In my view Kakridis 1949:75–83 all but proves that the Memnon tradition was known to the Iliad (again see EN4.7 below).

[ back ] 96. In the Aithiopis (Proclus Chrestomathy lines 188–189, Allen 1912:106 lines 4–6) “Antilochus is slain by Memnon, Achilles kills Memnon.” The inscription on the Tabula Iliaca Capitolina (IG XIV 1284), which lists the Aithiopis of Arctinus among the sculptor’s sources, identifies one of the scenes as “Achilles, Memnon, Antilochus” (cf. Sadurska 1964:29–30; Allen 1912:126). Nestor’s complaint at Antilochus’s death that he had lived too long (Propertius 2.13.46–50, Juvenal 10.246–255) is a presumed feature of the story in the Aithiopis (see Allen 1912:126–127).

[ back ] 97. The Aithiopis is presumably Pindar’s source.

[ back ] 98. There is a difference between Pindar’s Pythian 6 and Iliad 8 in that Nestor calls to Antilochus for help in Pindar, but Diomedes “sharply perceives” (oxù nóēse, Iliad 8.91) Nestor’s peril. Is this act of nóos also part of the role reversal in which Diomedes is the savior instead of Nestor?

[ back ] 99. Ovid gives the episode this slant when, in the judgment of arms, Ajax describes Odysseus’s shameful behavior in abandoning Nestor (Metamorphoses 13.63–69):

qui licet eloquio fidum quoque Nestora vincat,
haud tamen efficiet, desertum ut Nestora crimen
esse rear nullum; qui cum plorasset Ulixen
vulnere tardus equi fessusque senilibus annis,
proditus a socio est; non haec mihi crimina fingi
scit bene Tydides, qui nomine saepe vocatum
corripuit trepidoque fugam exprobravit amico.

Even if he surpasses faithful Nestor in eloquence,
he still will not convince me that his desertion of Nestor
was no reproach; when Nestor, slowed by his horse’s wound
and worn out by his own old years, begged Ulysses for help,
he was betrayed by his companion; that these charges are not made up by me
the son of Tydeus knows well, who called him repeatedly by name
and rebuked him, and reproached his frightened friend for his flight.

The Iliad itself seems to recognize the danger that Odysseus has been seriously diminished as a hero by his retreat in Iliad 8, for he is given a counterbalancing scene in Iliad 11.404–410, where he resolves to stand alone against the entire Trojan army:

ὤ μοι ἐγὼ τί πάθω; μέγα μὲν κακὸν αἴ κε φέβωμαι
πληθὺν ταρβήσας· τὸ δὲ ῥίγιον αἴ κεν ἁλώω
μοῦνος· τοὺς δ' ἄλλους Δαναοὺς ἐφόβησε Κρονίων.
ἀλλὰ τί ἤ μοι ταῦτα φίλος διελέξατο θυμός;
οἶδα γὰρ ὅττι κακοὶ μὲν ἀποίχονται πολέμοιο,
ὃς δέ κ' ἀριστεύῃσι μάχῃ ἔνι τὸν δὲ μάλα χρεὼ
ἑστάμεναι κρατερῶς, ἤ τ' ἔβλητ' ἤ τ' ἔβαλ' ἄλλον.

Oh what am I to suffer? It is a great evil if I flee,
fearing the crowd of warriors; but it is more horrible if I am caught
alone; Kronos’s son has frightened the others away.
But why does my dear heart ponder this?
I know that cowards shrink from war,
and that whoever is best in battle
must stand firm, and is either struck or strikes another.

In a perceptive study of Odysseus’s role in the Iliad Pache 2000:21 explains Odysseus’s behavior in Iliad 8 as a desire to survive the war, but this alone does not free him from the charge of cowardice; Odysseus is indeed a survivor, but not at the price of cowardice, as the episode in Iliad 11 seems meant to reestablish.

[ back ] 100. The verb esakoúō occurs only in Iliad 8.97 in Homer; it properly means “heed” (cf. Herodotus 4.133.2, etc.) but can also mean “hear.” Is it possible that Odysseus simply does not hear Diomedes? If that is what is meant, it is inexplicable that the poet should have chosen a verb that properly means “heed,” as if the distinction does not matter here. The distinction does matter, and the phrase oud’ esákouse must mean “did not heed.” At this point in the poem all the Greeks are forced to retreat as part of Zeus’s plan; at the end of Iliad 8 the Trojans will camp outside their walls for the first time. Diomedes is the last to yield to Zeus’s will (see below), but Odysseus has already made his decision, and the thought of losing Nestor does not stop him.

[ back ] 101. Diomedes captured Aeneas’s horses after wounding him in Iliad 5.318–327 (cf. Iliad 5.260–273).

[ back ] 102. Nestor’s explicitly dropped reins in Iliad 8 add an important confirmation that he did in fact drop the reins in his youthful race at Bouprasion; this feature of his race is of course kept out of direct view in Iliad 23.

[ back ] 103. It is worth stepping back for a moment to appreciate the unusual concentration of allusions in Iliad 8 to Nestor’s past and future all in the same episode: his race against the Epeian twins in the past; his nóstos with Diomedes in the future; the death of his son Antilochus before the end of the war; his split with Odysseus on Tenedos after the war. All these different moments are present in the episode.

[ back ] 104. She also disables the chariot of Eumelos, who has the fastest horses and is called the best driver.

[ back ] 105. This would not be the only time that Athena plays the part of the immortal twin and imitates Nestor in so doing. She does this when she disguises herself as the aged Méntōr and accompanies Telemachus to visit the equally aged Néstōr in Odyssey 3: the very name that she adopts when she pairs herself with Odysseus’s son seems to be patterned on Nestor’s name (see §2.92–§2.98 below).

[ back ] 106. Antilochus’s “victory” is a very qualified one in another sense as well: it was only the action of Menelaus in giving way that prevented catastrophe; for his own part, Antilochus deserved to crash. He will display the same reckless bravery on behalf of his father, but then no one will be able to compensate for his behavior and save him. Certainly Nestor will be powerless to do so.

[ back ] 107. See n2.69 above.

[ back ] 108. Achilles, Patroclus, and Antilochus are together again in the underworld (Odyssey 11.467–468, 24.15–16): in both passages (which are nearly identical) Achilles occurs in the first line, Patroclus and Antilochus in the second line.

[ back ] 109. Antilochus comes in last in the footrace, and this race, as already noted, has directly to do with the Achaeans’ nóstoi: the successful return of Odysseus on the one hand, and the destruction of the lesser Ajax on the other hand (cf. §2.54 above). It is not a good sign for Antilochus’s nóstos that even Ajax, whom Athena trips, finishes ahead of him. In accepting last prize Antilochus is respectful of his two older competitors, who have both defeated him (Iliad 23.787–792), and this too connects with the chariot race, where Antilochus’s respect for Menelaus becomes the issue in the contest for second prize. That prize, which Antilochus was barely allowed to keep, is put deeper in doubt by the footrace.

[ back ] 110. Phrontis’s patronymic Onētorídēs means son of “helper”: the quality of “helper” belongs to Phrontis himself in that he “helps” Menelaus on his nóstos, as is made clear by his loss, after which Menelaus wanders for years (cf. Calchas, son of Thestorídēs, as discussed §1.14 above).

[ back ] 111. The point of Antilochus’s phrase Aíthē thē̂lus eoûsa, “Aithe being female,” seems to have more to do with an attitude, namely the shame of losing to a female, than with a reality, for mares were not necessarily the weaker sex in chariot races. Eumelos’s horses, which are called the best horses of the Greeks in Iliad 2.763, are both mares; they are contrasted with Diomedes’ Trojan horses, which are both males, when the contest between them develops after the turning post and Eumelos takes an immediate lead (Iliad 23.375–378):

ἄφαρ δ' ἵπποισι τάθη δρόμος· ὦκα δ' ἔπειτα
αἳ Φηρητιάδαο ποδώκεες ἔκφερον ἵπποι.
τὰς δὲ μετ' ἐξέφερον Διομήδεος ἄρσενες ἵπποι
Τρώϊοι, οὐδέ τι πολλὸν ἄνευθ' ἔσαν, ἀλλὰ μάλ' ἐγγύς.

At once the horses strained their hardest. Then quickly
Pheres’ son’s swift-footed mares took the lead.
After them Diomedes’ Trojan male horses broke out,
and they weren’t far behind, but very close.

In the race between Menelaus and Antilochus, furthermore, Menelaus gains quickly on his opponent near the end of the race, which he would have won if the race had been longer, and the credit for this goes to the mare (Iliad 23.524–527):

ἀλλά μιν αἶψα κίχανεν· ὀφέλλετο γὰρ μένος ἠῢ
ἵππου τῆς Ἀγαμεμνονέης καλλίτριχος Αἴθης·
εἰ δέ κ' ἔτι προτέρω γένετο δρόμος ἀμφοτέροισι,
τώ κέν μιν παρέλασσ' οὐδ' ἀμφήριστον ἔθηκεν.

But he was gaining on him quickly; for the strength
of Agamemnon’s mare, beautiful-maned Aithe, was increasing.
If both had had further to run
he would have passed him and not made it a close contest.

Guichard Romero 2004:79 notes that “popular wisdom attributed to mares special virtues, different from those of horses, and mares were sometimes considered better than males in chariot competitions”; see his n. 15 for references.

[ back ] 112. The phrase thē̂lus eoûsa, “being female,” used of Agamemnon’s mare in Iliad 23 occurs only one other time in Homer. In Iliad 19 Agamemnon, likening himself to Zeus as a victim of átē, “delusion,” uses the phrase of Hera in her deception of Zeus (Iliad 19.95–97):

καὶ γὰρ δή νύ ποτε Ζεὺς ἄσατο, τόν περ ἄριστον
ἀνδρῶν ἠδὲ θεῶν φασ' ἔμμεναι· ἀλλ' ἄρα καὶ τὸν
Ἥρη θῆλυς ἐοῦσα δολοφροσύνῃς ἀπάτησεν.

For indeed Zeus deluded me, who they say
is the best of men and gods; but Hera, being female,
tricked even him by her deceit.

Clytemnestra, without being directly at issue, comes to mind in this passage; she does so in the passage of the chariot race as well.

[ back ] 113. Note how Agamemnon’s explanation is illustrated in Iliad 10.61–63, where Menelaus asks his brother for instructions:

πῶς γάρ μοι μύθῳ ἐπιτέλλεαι ἠδὲ κελεύεις;
αὖθι μένω μετὰ τοῖσι δεδεγμένος εἰς ὅ κεν ἔλθῃς,
ἦε θέω μετὰ σ' αὖτις, ἐπὴν εὖ τοῖς ἐπιτείλω;

How do you order and command me with your word?
Shall I stay there with those men waiting until you come,
or shall I run after you again, when I have given them your orders?

[ back ] 114. The verb is used of Menelaus yet a third time. When he is becalmed on his nóstos in Egypt, on the island of Pharos, Eidothee, daughter of Proteus, pities him. She questions him as follows (Odyssey 4.371–373):

νήπιός εἰς, ὦ ξεῖνε, λίην τόσον ἠδὲ χαλίφρων,
ἦε ἑκὼν μεθιεῖς καὶ τέρπεαι ἄλγεα πάσχων;
ὡς δὴ δήθ' ἐνὶ νήσῳ ἐρύκεαι….

Are you so exceedingly foolish and loose-witted, stranger,
or do you instead willingly give way and enjoy suffering woes?
For you are detained a long time on this island….

As in Iliad 10, methieîs is here distinguished from loose-wittedness. As in Iliad 23, the idea of hekṓn, “willingly, of one’s own accord,” is added to methíēmi, “give way.” The verb methíēmi is used in a similar sense in Iliad 4.516, 6.523, 13.229, 15.553, 20.361, and Odyssey 16.377; note especially Iliad 6.523, where Hector chides Paris: ἀλλὰ ἑκὼν μεθιεῖς τε καὶ οὐκ ἐθέλεις, “but you give way of your own accord and are not willing.”

[ back ] 115. Aspersions are cast on Menelaus’s reputation as a warrior in Iliad 17.588, where Apollo, disguised as a mortal, calls him a “weak spearman” (malthakòs aikhmētḗs) in urging Hector on against him. Plato Symposium 174c discusses Menelaus’s character on the basis of this passage. The scholia to Iliad 17.588 correctly point out that the attack on Menelaus’s reputation is made from an enemy’s point of view, and not from the poet’s (cf. also Nünlist 2002:453). This point, however, does not completely remove the stain from Menelaus.

[ back ] 116. About Meriones, who finishes last but for Eumelos and is the worst driver, there is nothing else to say.

[ back ] 117. It is the fact that Eumelos is a minor figure that suits him to his role in the chariot race of standing wholly and completely for the youthful Nestor: unless there is more to it than we know, there is no real interest in his own homecoming. The question does remain, however, whether the tradition that Eumelos won the chariot race in the funeral games of Achilles is old (“Apollodorus” Epitome 5.5, see n2.69 above). There seem to me to be arguments pro and con: on the one hand there is more point to Achilles’ awarding Eumelos a special prize in Iliad 23 if it is set against such a tradition; on the other hand, if Eumelos won the chariot race in the funeral games of Achilles, his nóstos must also have succeeded, but in Iliad 23 he crashes. Does Achilles’ awarding of a special prize negate the crash (and its conflict with a successful nóstos)? Did Apollo, who tries in vain to help Eumelos in Iliad 23, have a role in bringing about a successful nóstos for Eumelos? These are unanswerable questions. That the funeral games of Patroclus have something to do with the funeral games of Achilles (the brief account in Odyssey 24.85–92 is the earliest mention of the latter) can, I think, be safely assumed; for a convincing case in point see Kakridis 1949:65–83 (discussed below in n4.188 and EN4.7).

[ back ] 118. As the argument has made clear, Nestor’s role has a hidden side to it in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and this general similarity, I think, is itself of real importance to the relationship between the two poems. To me the correct explanation of the similarity of Nestor’s role is that the Iliad and the Odyssey evolved together over a period of time. To be strictly logical, however, one could also say that the Odyssey simply imitates the Iliad with respect to Nestor. But we have not yet explored all of Nestor’s role in the Odyssey, and it is thus too early to weigh this issue; I will return to it below in §4.23 and n4.104. For now it is enough to raise the issue.

[ back ] 119. In the chariot race of Iliad 23 Athena also plays the part of the immortal twin in aiding Diomedes, and this too has to do with Nestor (see §2.32 above).

[ back ] 120. For Méntōr as “inciter” see §1.15 above. The related noun ménos means something very close to “incitement” in the chariot race of Iliad 23 when Athena gives Diomedes back his whip and puts ménos in his horses; the whip suggests Nestor’s own role as “inciter” in his race against the Molione.

[ back ] 121. See §1.15 above: the verb μέμνηται, “remembers,” is used by the aged Méntōr when he reminds the Ithacans of Odysseus (ὡς οὔ τις μέμνηται, “because no one remembers,” Odyssey 2.233); the verb ὑπέμνησεν, “reminded,” is used of Méntēs when Athena, disguised as Mentes, reminds Telemachus of his father (Odyssey 1.321; the name Méntēs, as discussed in Part 1 above, amounts to a variant of Méntōr in Athena’s essentially unitary role in relation to Telemachus). The semantic distinction in Greek between the simple root *men-, “incite,” and the enlarged root *mn-ā, “remind,” is not Indo-European (cf. n1.36 above on Latin memini, “remember,” the formal equivalent of Greek mémona, “be eager”); from an IE standpoint Méntōr/Méntēs could mean “reminder,” but in Greek this meaning is secondary and poetic.

[ back ] 122. Athena gives up her role as Telemachus’s companion before he returns to Ithaca, so that as Méntōr she does not actually act as his “homebringer.” But at a less literal level she is deeply involved in his nóstos, even as Mentor: note how, as Mentor, she prays to Poseidon in Odyssey 3.60–61:

δὸς δ' ἔτι Τηλέμαχον καὶ ἐμὲ πρήξαντα νέεσθαι,
οὕνεκα δεῦρ' ἱκόμεσθα θοῇ σὺν νηῒ μελαίνῃ.

Grant that Telemachus and I return safely, having done
what we came here with our swift ship to do.

[ back ] 123. The relationship between the names in these pairs is close, but not as close as sometimes claimed: the names in -tōr cannot be considered mere short forms of the compounds in -laos, but belong to a broader category of independent agent nouns in -tōr (cf. Frame 1978:98). The first element of the compound names represents the third-person singular of an active verb (cf. n1.46 above).

[ back ] 124. So Chantraine 1999, s.v. ménō; Frisk 1960–1972, s.v. ménō; Risch 1974:191.

[ back ] 125. Exceptions to this usage of laós are rare in Homer; the evidence is discussed in EN2.2. The Homeric usage is well accounted for by Benveniste’s observation (1969, vol. 2, 90) that laós refers to a “people” in relation to its leader, as in the Homeric formula, poiména laō̂n, “shepherd of the warriors/people”; the names Agélaos etc. bear out Benveniste’s observation. Menélaos properly means “he who incites the warfolk,” just as Méntōr properly means “he who incites”; in the Odyssey there is an extension of meaning from “inciter” to “reminder” in both names (see below for Menélaos).

[ back ] 126. There is a formulaic element at work in the diction of the two passages discussed above: the phrases νόστου ὑπομνήσουσα in Odyssey 15.3 and νόστου μιμνήσκεσθαι in Odyssey 3.142 are related. The pattern is seen again in Iliad 10.509–510, at the end of the night raid, where Odysseus bids Diomedes to “remember our return to the hollow ships” (νόστου δὴ μνῆσαι…νῆας ἔπι γλαφυράς). A related pattern can be seen in phrases meaning “forget one’s return” (νόστου τε λαθέσθαι, Odyssey 9.97; νόστοιο λάθηται, Odyssey 9.102), and “be mindful of one’s return” (νόστου τε μέδηαι; Odyssey 11.110 = 12.137; νόστοιο μεδοίατο, Iliad 9.622). The formulaic quality of the diction, however, does not diminish the play on Menelaus’s name in Odyssey 3; formulaic diction is the medium of Homeric epic. In the same passage in Odyssey 3 there seems to be a play on Agamemnon’s name as well when the half of the army that does not leave Troy is restrained “waiting” with Agamemnon (Odyssey 3.155–156):

ἡμίσεες δ' ἄρα λαοὶ ἐρητύοντο μένοντες
αὖθι παρ' Ἀτρεΐδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονι, ποιμένι λαῶν.

But half of the warriors were held back there waiting
with the son of Atreus, Agamemnon, shepherd of the warriors.

The name Agamémnōn is an expressive reduplication of the verb ménō, “remain, wait, withstand” (see Chantraine 1999 s.v. mémnōn); since what separates Agamemnon from Menelaus is precisely the fact that he “remains” at Troy, a play on his name seems intended in this passage (the phrase erētúonto ménontes, “were held back waiting,” in Odyssey 3.155 is formulaic, occurring three times in the Iliad; see §2.67 above for an example in Iliad 15.367, preceding Nestor’s prayer to Zeus for a sign confirming the Achaeans’ nóstos; the use of formulaic diction again does not preclude the play on the name). Agamemnon, who “wished to restrain” the army at Troy (Odyssey 3.143–144), plays the part of the Indo-European mortal twin (see §2.60–§2.61 above); “waiting” and “restraining” are related aspects of this role.

[ back ] 127. For my interpretation of the name Menélaos in Odyssey 3 it does not matter which etymology of the name, “he who incites the warfolk” or “he who withstands the warfolk,” is correct; it matters only that the Homeric poets took the name to mean “he who reminds the warfolk,” just as they took the name Méntōr to mean “he who reminds.” It is possible that in other contexts the name Menélaos was understood differently, as for example in Iliad 3.52: οὐκ ἂν δὴ μείνειας ἀρηΐφιλον Μενέλαον, “you would not remain (stand your ground) against Menelaus” (see Martin 1989:135 for the suggestion of etymological word play here). But I would maintain that the Homeric poets got the name right in Odyssey 3, at least as regards the root. This is indicated not only by the meaning of laós, as discussed above; the meaning “he who incites the warfolk” also resonates in a figure who embodies the Indo-European immortal twin. It is Agamemnon, who embodies the Indo-European mortal twin (the warrior), whose name comes from ménō, “withstand” (cf. n2.126 above). In Odyssey 3 the names of both brothers have their meanings extended to suit the context: Menelaus is “he who reminds the warfolk,” and Agamemnon is “he who waits”; but both names, I think, are understood correctly in terms of their roots.