Part 1. Nestor’s Indo-European Background

Chapter 1. The Problem

{5|9} §1.1 There is a discrepancy between the Iliad and the Odyssey as to the number of sons that Nestor’s father Neleus is said to have had: twelve sons in the Iliad versus three sons in the Odyssey. In the Iliad Nestor himself says that he was one of twelve sons of Neleus when he tells how the other eleven sons all perished in Heracles’ attack on Pylos, leaving Nestor alone to deal with Pylos’s hostile neighbors (Iliad 11.689–693):

ὡς ἡμεῖς παῦροι κεκακωμένοι ἐν Πύλῳ ἦμεν·
ἐλθὼν γάρ ῥ' ἐκάκωσε βίη Ἡρακληείη
τῶν προτέρων ἐτέων, κατὰ δ' ἔκταθεν ὅσσοι ἄριστοι·
δώδεκα γὰρ Νηλῆος ἀμύμονος υἱέες ἦμεν·
τῶν οἶος λιπόμην, οἱ δ' ἄλλοι πάντες ὄλοντο.

Few of us were left in Pylos and we were badly off,
for mighty Heracles had come and hurt us badly
in earlier years; all the best men had been killed.
Twelve sons of faultless Neleus we had been,
but of those only I was left; the others had all perished.

In the Odyssey Nestor’s mother Chloris, whom Odysseus meets in the underworld, is said to have borne Neleus three sons, Nestor, Chromios, and Periklymenos, and also a daughter Pero (Odyssey 11.285–287):

ἡ δὲ Πύλου βασίλευε, τέκεν δέ οἱ ἀγλαὰ τέκνα,
Νέστορά τε Χρομίον τε Περικλύμενόν τ' ἀγέρωχον.
τοῖσι δ' ἐπ' ἰφθίμην Πηρὼ τέκε, θαῦμα βροτοῖσι. {9|10}

She reigned over Pylos and bore him splendid children,
Nestor and Chromios and proud Periklymenos.
After them she bore steadfast Pero, a wonder to mortals.

§1.2 The discrepancy between the twelve sons of Neleus in the Iliad and the three sons of Chloris and Neleus in the Odyssey provided an argument for the ancient khōrízontes, “separatists,” who held that the Iliad and the Odyssey were by different poets. [1] The irony of this is that Nestor himself is to a remarkable extent the same figure in both poems; he thus weighs far more heavily for the opposite view, that the two poems are related. [2] But the fact {10|11} remains that the Iliad and the Odyssey differ on a point that is not at all trivial. The separatists had good reason to draw attention to the different number of Neleus’s sons in the Iliad and the Odyssey, and the discrepancy has not yet been satisfactorily explained. [3]

§1.3 To explain the discrepancy the key point to recognize is that, however many brothers Nestor was said to have had, only one of them had a real epic tradition, namely Periklymenos; the other sons of Neleus, whether ten in the Iliad or one in the Odyssey, are shadows by comparison with Nestor and Periklymenos, the two who alone count. Periklymenos, who is named in Odyssey 11 (his only Homeric occurrence), was the great opponent of Heracles when Pylos was sacked. While he is not named in Iliad 11, the story of Heracles’ sack centered on him, as we know from Hesiod and later sources. In Hesiod Periklymenos is more than a great warrior; he is a shape-shifter who uses his exotic skill to frustrate Heracles until finally Athena points him out in the form of a bee and Heracles shoots him. [4] We do not know whether Periklymenos had the same exotic ability in Homeric tradition or was perhaps {11|12} a more conventional warrior. [5] What the Hesiodic fragments do make clear, however, is that Periklymenos alone stood in Heracles’ way in his attack on Pylos, for the other sons of Neleus fell as one when Periklymenos was slain, only Nestor escaping this fate; the point is clear despite the fragmentary nature of the text (Hesiod fr. 35.2–9 MW):

ὄφρα μὲν οὖν ἔζ]ωε Περικλύ[μ]ενος θε[ο]ειδής,
οὐκ ἐδύναντο Πύ]λον πραθέειν μάλα περ μεμαῶτες·
ἀλλ' ὅτε δὴ θανάτο]ι̣ο Π[ε]ρικλύμενον λάβε μοῖρα,
ἐξαλάπαξε Πύλοιο πόλιν Δι]ὸς ἄ[λ]κιμο[ς] υἱός,
κτεῖνε δὲ Νηλῆος ταλα]σίφρονος υἱέας ἐσθλούς,
ἕνδεκα, δωδέκατος δὲ Γερ]ήνιος ἱππότα Νέστωρ
ξεῖνος ἐὼν ἐτύχησε παρ' ἱ]πποδάμοισι Γερηνοῖς·
οὕτω δ' ἐξέφυγεν θάνατο]ν καὶ κῆ[ρ]α μέλαιναν.

While godlike Periklymenos still lived,
they could not destroy Pylos, eager though they were.
But when the destiny of death took Periklymenos,
the mighty son of Zeus sacked the city of Pylos
and killed stout-hearted Neleus’s brave sons,
eleven of them, but the twelfth, the Gerenian horseman Nestor,
happened to be a guest among the horse-breaking Gerenians;
and so he escaped death and black doom. [6] {12|13}

§1.4 Hesiod names all twelve sons of Neleus in typical catalogue fashion when Chloris, their mother, is first introduced in the Catalogue of Women. Only Periklymenos, who is named last, receives individual attention. His skill as a shape-shifter and his death at the hands of Heracles are the subject of the passage that follows his name. Although the Hesiodic list is fragmentary, it has been restored from “Apollodorus” 1.9.9, containing a complete list of Neleus’s sons; “Apollodorus’s” source was doubtless this very passage of Hesiod (Hesiod fr. 33a.8–15 MW):

ἣ δέ οἱ ἐν μ]εγάροισιν ἐγείνατο φαίδιμα τέκ[να,
Εὐαγόρην τ]ε καὶ Ἀντιμένην καὶ Ἀλάστορα [δῖον
Ταῦρόν τ' Ἀσ]τέριόν τε Πυλάονά τε μεγάθυμ[ον
Δηΐμαχόν τε] καὶ Εὐρύβιον κλειτόν τ' Ἐπίλαον
Νέστορά τε Χ]ρομίον τε Περικλύμενόν τ' ἀγέρωχον,
ὄλβιον, ὧι πόρε δῶρα Ποσειδάων ἐνοσίχθων
παντοῖ', ἄλλοτε μὲν γὰρ ἐν ὀρνίθεσσι φάνεσκεν

And she bore him splendid children in his halls,
Euagoras and Antimenes and shining Alastor
and Tauros and Asterios and great-hearted Pylaon
and Deïmakhos and Eurybios and famed Epilaos
and Nestor and Chromios and proud Periklymenos,
the fortunate one, to whom Poseidon the earthshaker gave gifts
of all sorts, for sometimes among birds he took shape
as an eagle….

The restored line that ends the Hesiodic list, containing the names Nestor, Chromios, and Periklymenos, is identical with Odyssey 11.286, and evidently depends on it. The three previous lines, containing nine further names, were most likely a Hesiodic invention. The third of these three lines, containing the names Deimakhos, Eurybios, and Epilaos, seems to have been used in another Hesiodic catalogue for three of the children of Lysidike, a daughter of Pelops: [7] the three names thus have a generic rather than a specific quality. Of the six names in the first two lines of the catalogue Alastor and Pylaon are {13|14} aptly chosen for sons of Neleus, Pylaon because it evokes the city of Pylos, and Alastor because one of Nestor’s Pylian captains in Iliad 4.295 has this name. But apart from Nestor and Periklymenos none of the sons of Neleus is anything more than a name, and in Homer only Chromios among the other ten sons has even a name. His name, moreover, seems almost deliberately chosen to show the lack of substance of its bearer. Six different figures in Homer apart from Nestor’s brother are called Chromios, and they too are all little more than a name, occurring only in catalogues or pairs of names. [8] Oddly enough, in “Apollodorus” 1.9.9, which seems to contain Hesiod’s list of the twelve sons of Neleus, Chromios alone of the twelve sons does not occur; his name has been replaced by an equimetrical Phrasios. Since there seems to be no doubt about the name Chromios in the Hesiodic fragment, [9] the names Chromios and Phrasios must have been variants in Hesiodic tradition. One can only speculate that the name Chromios, despite its Homeric authority, was felt to be colorless and was therefore rivaled by the more expressive name Phrasios. [10] If Homeric authority for the name Chromios was disregarded in this way, the name itself looks tenuous at best. We return to the point that apart from Nestor and Periklymenos none of the sons of Neleus had a real tradition or even a fixed name. A completely different list of the twelve sons {14|15} of Neleus is in fact found in the scholia to Iliad 11.692: the only names that this list has in common with the Hesiodic list are Nestor and Periklymenos. [11]

§1.5 The main thesis that I wish to propose and develop in the study to follow is that Nestor’s origins are to be found not in Homeric epic, nor in Bronze Age Pylos, nor anywhere else in Greek tradition, but earlier, in the Indo-European twin myth. My reason for thinking this is a comparison between Nestor and the twin gods of the Rig-Veda based on Nestor’s name and one of the two names of the Vedic twins. This name is Nā́satyā, and I studied it in full in my previous work, The Myth of Return in Early Greek Epic. [12] I studied the name Néstōr in the same work, and it might be asked why there should be more to say about either name now. Here I need to say something about the chronology of my earlier work, which began as a doctoral dissertation, [13] but incorporated a new discussion of the Vedic twins when it was published. Although my revised study of the Vedic twins had important implications for Nestor, I was not able to consider them in the framework of my original study. It is for that reason that I return to the question now.

§1.6 The comparison with the Vedic twins involves not just Nestor’s name, but also his epithet hippóta, “the horseman.” The Vedic twins are also called “horsemen,” Aśvínā, and it is their two names together, Aśvínā Nā́satyā, that are a comparison for hippóta Néstōr. I was struck by this double comparison in my original study of the Vedic twins, but I did not see how it could be relevant to the problem of Nestor’s mythic origins. [14] The difference between a pair of twins and a solitary figure seemed to outweigh any etymological connection between them. I also pointed out that in both parts of the comparison there are common roots but differences of word formation. In the two words for “horseman,” the common root is Indo-European *ekwos, “horse,” giving Greek híppos and Sanskrit aśva-, but the nouns hippóta and Aśvínā are formed differently: hippóta is formed with an exclusively Greek {15|16} suffix and Aśvin- is formed with a highly characteristic Sanskrit suffix. [15] In the names Néstōr and Nā́satyā the common element is Indo-European *nes-, a verbal root whose meaning was the focus of my earlier study. I will return to this root shortly, and also to the different processes of word formation in the two names. But it is clear from the start that Néstōr, with the agent suffix -tōr, was formed differently from Nā́satyā.

§1.7 What changed my mind about the significance of the etymological comparison was the work of the Swedish scholar Stig Wikander on distinctions between the two Vedic twins as reflected in Sanskrit epic. [16] It became clear to me after reading Wikander’s study that the twins’ two names, Aśvínā and Nā́satyā, each originally designated a different twin, and the significance of this for Nestor struck me immediately: the “horseman Nestor” combines the characteristics of both twins, and this is the essence of his myth. Nestor becomes a “horseman” in order to take the place of a twin brother. This is the point of the story that Nestor tells Patroclus in Iliad 11, and Periklymenos is thus an essential part of this story. Nestor and Periklymenos are twin figures, but they are twins who separate.

§1.8 This is the main thesis of the study to follow, and it will require the full length of the study to make the case for it. One of the most intriguing aspects of Nestor’s myth, which will emerge more and more clearly as I proceed, and which for now I can simply state, is that his myth, though {16|17} known to the Homeric poets, was never fully divulged by them. One element or another of the myth was always withheld. Thus in Iliad 11, where Periklymenos is an essential part of the story, Periklymenos is not named. Nestor speaks instead of the twelve sons of Neleus. It was in fact the rival tradition of the twelve sons of Neleus that accounts for the twin myth’s always remaining partially hidden. Nestor was not just one of two brothers, however deep the roots for this tradition went; he was also one of twelve. But then what accounts for the tradition that he was one of twelve? In comparison with the Indo-European twin myth, this tradition was very recent indeed if it had to do, as I will argue that it did, with the twelve cities of the Ionian dodecapolis. This idea, which was proposed by Georg Busolt more than a hundred years ago, and has since been repeated by others, has never been fully accepted, or even fully explained. [17] The key to this tradition, I believe, is the ruling family of Miletus, the Neleids, for only they claimed descent from Neleus, and only they had a name that meant “descendants of Neleus.” Among Neleus’s sons the ancestor claimed by the Neleids, significantly, was Periklymenos, one of the original pair of brothers. [18] If the twelve sons of Neleus represented the twelve cities of the dodecapolis, it is not because each of the cities claimed a different son as ancestor [19] —we have already seen that the twelve sons are not individuals but a group—but because the Neleids of Miletus extended their own origins to the entire dodecapolis, at least in terms of this myth. It must have been the Neleids themselves who promoted a new version of Neleus’s offspring, in which there were not just two sons, but twelve. This in turn makes the Neleids prime movers in the creation of Panionism, and in the foundation of the Panionia, the common festival of the twelve cities. The actual origins of the Ionians were very diverse, as Herodotus in particular pointed out; [20] hence a common myth was needed to {17|18} unify them, and the Neleids seem to have provided one by giving twelve sons to their own ancestor Neleus. [21]

§1.9 We will return to the Neleids of Miletus, the formation of the Ionian dodecapolis, and the foundation of the Panionia, for all three have an important bearing on the genesis of the Homeric poems. But these matters too will take time to develop, and we are not ready for them yet. We began with the discrepancy between the Iliad and the Odyssey regarding the number of Neleus’s sons: twelve in the Iliad versus three in the Odyssey. The twelve sons, then, are to be taken as a relatively recent tradition having to do with the Ionian dodecapolis. Another tradition for just two sons, Nestor and Periklymenos, went back much further, to the Indo-European twin myth. This myth is never fully acknowledged by the Homeric poets, as we have just seen in Iliad 11, where the number of sons is twelve and Periklymenos is not named. The same holds for Odyssey 11, where Periklymenos is named, but {18|19} not as one of a pair of brothers; here he is one of three brothers. The point seems to be that if Nestor and Periklymenos are twins in their old myth, they are now also part of a larger group. Chromios has been added to the pair of brothers to make that point. Thus what looks like a discrepancy is instead a partial reconciliation of an older tradition to a newer one. Both poems had to reconcile the two traditions in one way or another. [22]

§1.10 Before we turn to the comparison between Nestor and the Vedic twins, and seek to trace Nestor’s ultimate origins to the Indo-European twin myth, we should note that Nestor’s family, beginning with his father Neleus, has twins in it already. Neleus had a twin brother Pelias, from whom he separated. Neleus left Pelias behind in Thessaly when he went to found Pylos in the Peloponnesus. This myth is referred to in the same catalogue of heroines in Odyssey 11 that features Nestor and his two brothers. The mother of Neleus and Pelias was Tyro, and she is the first heroine to speak to Odysseus in the underworld (Odyssey 11.235–259). Tyro married Kretheus, to whom she bore three sons, but first she bore twin sons to the god Poseidon: Pelias, who lived in Iolkos, and Neleus, who lived in Pylos (Odyssey 11.254–257):

ἡ δ' ὑποκυσαμένη Πελίην τέκε καὶ Νηλῆα,
τὼ κρατερὼ θεράποντε Διὸς μεγάλοιο γενέσθην
ἀμφοτέρω· Πελίης μὲν ἐν εὐρυχόρῳ Ἰαολκῷ
ναῖε πολύρρηνος, ὁ δ' ἄρ' ἐν Πύλῳ ἠμαθόεντι.

And she conceived and bore Pelias and Neleus,
who became strong servants of great Zeus,
both of them; Pelias in spacious Iolkos
had his home, owning many sheep, the other one in sandy Pylos. [23]

If Nestor truly became hippóta Néstōr by separating from his brother and taking his brother’s place as a warrior, it is not without significance that his father Neleus was a twin who likewise separated from his brother. Nestor and {19|20} Periklymenos are not called twins, but they follow the pattern of a pair of twins a generation before them.

§1.11 There is a second pair of brothers in Nestor’s extended family, Melampus and Bias, who are not called twins, but who have the attributes of twins. [24] Melampus and Bias are first of all Nestor’s cousins in that they are sons of Amythaon, one of the three sons of Tyro and Kretheus; they also successfully woo Nestor’s sister Pero. Both of these connections to Nestor come up in the catalogue of heroines. Amythaon, the father of Melampus and Bias, is named in the same passage as Nestor’s father Neleus; after Tyro bore the twins Pelias and Neleus to Poseidon she bore Amythaon and two other sons to her husband Kretheus (Odyssey 11.258–259):

τοὺς δ' ἑτέρους Κρηθῆϊ τέκεν βασίλεια γυναικῶν,
Αἴσονά τ' ἠδὲ Φέρητ' ᾿Αμυθάονά θ' ἱππιοχάρμην.

The queen among women bore her other sons to Kretheus,
Aison and Pheres and the chariot-fighter Amythaon.

The wooing of Pero by Melampus and Bias is alluded to in the same passage that names Nestor and his two brothers. Pero, who was born last after her brothers, was wooed by all her neighbors, but Neleus set as her brideprice the retrieval of the cattle of Iphiklos. Melampus is not named in this passage but is referred to as the “faultless prophet” who alone undertook to retrieve the cattle. His story is told more fully in Odyssey 15.225–238 in the genealogy of Melampus’s descendant, the seer Theoklymenos. Melampus wooed Pero on behalf of his brother Bias, but he was imprisoned for a year before he succeeded in winning the cattle of Iphiklos. [25] Unlike Nestor and Neleus, who separated from their twin brothers, Melampus and Bias remained together, not only in Pylos, where they wooed Pero, but also in Argos, where they went from Pylos. [26] This second set of twin figures, and their association with {20|21} Nestor’s sister Pero, is no less important than the pair Neleus and Pelias for the underlying myth of Nestor and Periklymenos.

§1.12 In the two chapters that follow I will review my earlier work on the names Néstōr in Greek and Nā́satyā in Vedic. In what I previously said about Nestor and his name there are points of detail and emphasis to be changed, but overall the basis on which I will build is in place. I have nothing to change in what I previously said about the name Nā́satyā, but there is still more to say about the Indo-European origins of what I believe I have shown is the meaning of this name in Vedic. The point of the Vedic comparison for Nestor is that it puts him in the context of the Indo-European twin myth, and the Greek Dioskouroi are essential to establishing the basic features of this myth. The Dioskouroi already played a large part in my previous study of the Nā́satyā, but there are further points of comparison to be pursued between the Vedic and Greek twins to establish the Indo-European form of their myth. Nestor too will contribute to an understanding of the Indo-European myth, both in the direct comparison between his name and the name of the Vedic twins, and in the discussion of his Homeric role, which will be pursued in Part 2 of this study. But the immediate issue, on which all else depends, is the linguistic comparison between Néstōr on the one hand and Nā́satyā on the other. {21|23}


[ back ] 1. Scholia to Iliad 11.692.

[ back ] 2. An example of this is the motif of Nestor’s three-generation lifespan, which occurs in both poems. In the Iliad this motif occurs as soon as Nestor is introduced, when he intervenes in the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon (Iliad 1.247–253):

                    τοῖσι δὲ Νέστωρ
ἡδυεπὴς ἀνόρουσε λιγὺς Πυλίων ἀγορητής,
τοῦ καὶ ἀπὸ γλώσσης μέλιτος γλυκίων ῥέεν αὐδή·
τῷ δ' ἤδη δύο μὲν γενεαὶ μερόπων ἀνθρώπων
ἐφθίαθ', οἵ οἱ πρόσθεν ἅμα τράφεν ἠδ' ἐγένοντο
ἐν Πύλῳ ἠγαθέῃ, μετὰ δὲ τριτάτοισιν ἄνασσεν·
ὅ σφιν ἐὺ φρονέων ἀγορήσατο καὶ μετέειπεν.


                    Nestor stood up between them,
the sweet-spoken clear-voiced speaker of the Pylians,
whose voice flowed from his tongue sweeter than honey.
For him two generations of mortal men had already
perished, those who were born and raised with him earlier
in holy Pylos, and he ruled among the third generation;
being well disposed to them he spoke in the assembly and addressed them.

In the Odyssey the motif is not used to introduce Nestor at his first appearance, but is uttered at a later point by Telemachus, who proposes to Athena/Mentor to ask Nestor about a new subject (Odyssey 3.243–246):

νῦν δ' ἐθέλω ἔπος ἄλλο μεταλλῆσαι καὶ ἐρέσθαι
Νέστορ', ἐπεὶ περίοιδε δίκας ἠδὲ φρόνιν ἄλλων·
τρὶς γὰρ δή μίν φασιν ἀνάξασθαι γένε' ἀνδρῶν,
ὥς τέ μοι ἀθάνατος ἰνδάλλεται εἰσοράασθαι.

But now I wish to inquire and ask about another story
from Nestor, since he beyond others knows justice and wisdom;
for they say that he has ruled during three generations of men,
and so to me he seems like an immortal when I look at him.

The motif is the same in the two poems, but what makes the poems seem related is not only this, but also the way in which the motif is deployed in the Odyssey. Nestor does not need to be reintroduced in the Odyssey because he has already been introduced in the Iliad, and that introduction is now assumed. Thus the motif of his three-generation lifespan is presented almost parenthetically by another figure, who implies that the motif is well known by using the word phasín, “they say”; to the Homeric audience, I suggest, the word phasín would bring to mind the poet’s own authoritative statement in the Iliad. Regarding the relationship between the two poems more generally, it is the Odyssey’s awareness of the Iliad, as in the present case, that is to me of primary significance. But the Odyssey rarely shows its awareness of the Iliad in such a positive way; it does so more tellingly in a negative way, by not repeating episodes from the Iliad in its reminiscences of the Trojan war (this complementary distribution of thematic material was observed by D. B. Monro and is aptly referred to as “Monro’s Law”). The implication of such a complementary distribution of thematic material is that the Iliad and the Odyssey were meant to be experienced together as one composite, unified work. What this means for the genesis of the two poems is a question to which I will return later in this study. The issue, however, is not only whether the Odyssey is aware of the Iliad, but whether the Iliad is also aware of the Odyssey. If the latter proposition can be demonstrated it has clear implications for the genesis of the two poems.

[ back ] 3. Aristarchus (scholia to Iliad 11.692) argued that, just as Priam is said to have had nineteen of his fifty sons “from one womb” and the rest by other women (Iliad 24.495–497), a wife other than Chloris could have borne Neleus nine more sons. But the two cases are different. In order to have fifty sons Priam had to have them by more than one woman, whereas Neleus did not have to have more than one wife to have his twelve sons. More importantly, there was no tradition for any wife of Neleus but Chloris as far as we know, and as far as Aristarchus knew. The uncertainty was not about the mother of Neleus’s sons, but their number.

[ back ] 4. Hesiod fr. 33 MW; cf. “Apollodorus” 1.9.9.

[ back ] 5. The battle with Heracles is Periklymenos’s only distinctive myth in extant sources. He was one of the Argonauts according to Pindar, who addresses him with a conventional warrior’s epithet in this context (Periklúmen’ eurubía, “Periklymenos, with far-reaching might,” Pythian 4.175).

[ back ] 6. Hesiod explains Nestor’s survival of Heracles’ attack by his timely absence from Pylos “among the horsebreaking Gerenians” (par’ hippodámoisi Gerēnoîs, fr. 35.8 MW). This is evidently a Hesiodic invention based on Nestor’s Homeric epithet “the Gerenian horseman” (Gerḗnios hippóta); Gerenians are otherwise unknown in early sources. According to later sources a town of Gerenia bordered Phērai on the Messenian Gulf (Strabo 8.4.4, Pausanias 3.26.8; cf. Kiechle 1960:61); here there was a temple of Asklepios (Strabo 8.4.4) and of the Homeric hero Makhaon, a son of Asklepios (Pausanias 3.26.9, 4.3.9), and also a tomb of Makhaon (Pausanias 3.26.9, 4.3.2). According to Pausanias 3.26.8 Gerenia was once the Homeric town of Enope (Iliad 9.150, 292), a view also reported by Strabo 8.4.5. It seems to have been well recognized that the town of Gerenia was not of Homeric vintage but a latter-day invention (for Makhaon’s presence in Gerenia cf. n2.20 below). What the real meaning of Nestor’s Homeric epithet Gerḗnios was we do not know (but see n4.189 for a strong possibility).

[ back ] 7. Hesiod fr. 193.15 MW (the beginning and the end of the line have been lost): Δηΐμαχόν] τ̣ε καὶ Ε̣ὐρύβιον κλειτόν τ' Ἐ[πίλαον, “Deïmakhos] and Eurybios and famed E[pilaos.”

[ back ] 8. All six are in the Iliad, five of them Trojans or Trojan allies, to wit: one of two sons of Priam slain on a single chariot by Diomedes (5.160); one of seven Lycians slain by Odysseus (5.677); one of nine Trojans shot by Teucer (8.275); one of ten Mysian allies urged on by Hector (17.218); one of two warriors accompanying Hector and Aeneas in a futile attempt to capture Achilles’ horses (17.494 and 534). The remaining figure named Chromios is one of five Pylians around whom Nestor arranges his forces (4.295). The fact that this figure is a Pylian like the son of Neleus in Odyssey 11.286 is interesting, but it hardly gives greater subtance to the son of Neleus. Indeed the line naming Chromios as one of Nestor’s captains is itself formulaic; compare the line in question, 4.295: ἀμφὶ μέγαν Πελάγοντα Ἀλάστορά τε Χρομίον τε, “around great Pelagon and Alastor and Chromios,” with 5.677, naming three of seven Lycians slain by Odysseus: ἔνθ' ὅ γε Κοίρανον εἷλεν Ἀλάστορά τε Χρομίον τε, “then he slew Koiranos and Alastor and Chromios.” Two of the Iliadic lines with the name Chromios are very close in form to Odyssey 11.286, namely 8.275: Δαίτορά τε Χρομίον τε καὶ ἀντίθεον Λυκοφόντην, “Daitor and Chromios and godlike Lykophontes,” and 17.218: Φόρκυν τε Χρομίον τε καὶ Ἔννομον οἰωνιστήν, “Phorkys and Chromios and the augur Ennomos.” A comparison of these lines with Odyssey 11.286: Νέστορά τε Χρομίον τε Περικλύμενόν τ' ἀγέρωχον, “Nestor and Chromios and proud Periklymenos,” shows how easily the name Chromios might have suggested itself in all three lines.

[ back ] 9. The editors of the fragment indicate that only the name’s initial letter is missing.

[ back ] 10. The name Phrásios, derived from the verb phrázō, “point out, advise,” is appropriate to the counselor Nestor, hence to a supposed brother.

[ back ] 11. The origin of this list is not known. Three of the twelve names are non-Homeric: Lusímakhos, Lusíppos, and Agēsílaos (the last must have had the form Agēsíleōs if it occurred in a hexameter source, but this is uncertain). The other seven names, in addition to Nestor and Periklymenos, are Peisístratos, Álkimos, Hupsḗnōr, Pulaiménēs, Hippokóōn, Peisḗnōr, Hippólokhos. For the sake of comparison Hesiod’s ten names are again: Euagórēs, Antiménēs, Alástōr, Taûros, Astérios, Puláōn, Dēḯmakhos, Eurúbios, Epílaos, Khrómios. Cantieni 1942:58 aptly calls the ten brothers besides Nestor and Periklymenos “Füllfiguren,” whose names accordingly vary.

[ back ] 12. Frame 1978:134–152.

[ back ] 13. Frame 1971.

[ back ] 14. Frame 1971:159–160.

[ back ] 15. Hippóta contains the specifically Greek suffix -tēs (< -tās); the nominative in -ta, found in this and a few other Homeric epithets of gods and heroes (mētíeta Zeús, “deviser Zeus,” nephelēgeréta Zeús, “cloud-gatherer Zeus,” etc.), is perhaps a frozen vocative (Risch 1954, 1974:37); for various attempts to explain the -ta suffix as an original nominative see the convenient summary and further analysis in Moreschini 1984, esp. 341–342. In Risch’s view the noun hippóta may be old but need not be identical with Latin eques, -itis; in general Risch considers denominatives in -tēs (like hippóta) to be secondary to deverbatives, hence relatively recent (Risch 1974:35). Sanskrit aśvín- is formed with the suffix -in-, which in this zero-grade form is found widely in Sanskrit and less widely in Avestan, but seems not to occur with any certainty outside of Indo-Iranian (cf. Wackernagel-Debrunner 1957:349–350); elsewhere the full-grade and lengthened-grade of the suffix are found (Latin seneciō, Greek malakíōn, etc.). Sanskrit denominatives formed with -in- (like aśvín- from áśva-) are considered primary to deverbatives by Wackernagel-Debrunner 1957:348; the meaning of the suffix in denominatives is “provided with, possessed of,” as in parṇín-, “provided with wings, winged,” rathín-, “provided with a chariot, chariot-possessing,” and aśvín-, “provided with horses, horse-possessing” (see Wackernagel-Debrunner 1957:348).

[ back ] 16. Wikander 1957. I became aware of Wikander’s work in 1973 by reading Dumézil 1968. My own previous work led me to modify Wikander’s study in one crucial point (see §1.50–§1.54 and n1.143 below). I could only suggest the importance of Wikander’s work for Nestor in a footnote at the end of my study of the Vedic twins (Frame 1978:152n72).

[ back ] 17. Busolt 1885:220n1 = 1893:317n4; cf. Momigliano 1932:277; Lenschau 1944: 235, RE ‘Iones’ 1876; Càssola 1957:89.

[ back ] 18. Hellanicus FGrHist 323a F 23. See below for the Neleids of Miletus.

[ back ] 19. Momigliano (n1.17 above) thought that this was originally the case. Busolt’s idea, which Busolt did not elaborate, was criticized as a “sehr vage Vermutung” by Toepffer 1889:237n2. It is interesting to note that Busolt, who in his second edition of 1893 reacted to Toepffer’s criticism on other points, did not change his mind on this point (see n1.17 above). The idea that the twelve sons of Neleus represented the dodecapolis is undeniably vague, and it is a mistake to imagine that it was ever intended to be otherwise.

[ back ] 20. Herodotus 1.146.1. Sakellariou 1958 exhaustively investigates the Ionians’ diverse origins as reflected in the traditions and institutions of the individual cities. Cf. also Vanschoonwinkel 1991:367–404 and n1.56 below.

[ back ] 21. A later myth, first attested by Herodotus 1.145, was that the Ionians of the dodecapolis came from the twelve cities of Achaea in the Peloponnesus; for this tradition cf. EN4.2 (end). We do not know when the Ionian league of twelve cities began, but a simile in Iliad 20 seems to show that the Panionia, the league’s common festival, already existed in the Homeric era; Busolt 1885 (n1.17 above) cited this simile together with the twelve sons of Neleus in Iliad 11 as evidence for the early existence of the dodecapolis. The cult celebrated at the Panionia was dedicated to Poseidon Helikonios (Herodotus 1.148.1), and the Homeric simile evokes the bellowing of a bull sacrificed to this god (Iliad 20.403–405):

αὐτὰρ ὃ θυμὸν ἄϊσθε καὶ ἤρυγεν, ὡς ὅτε ταῦρος
ἤρυγεν ἑλκόμενος Ἑλικώνιον ἀμφὶ ἄνακτα
κούρων ἑλκόντων· γάνυται δέ τε τοῖς ἐνοσίχθων.

But he breathed forth his spirt and bellowed, as when a bull
bellows as it is dragged around the altar of the Helikonian lord;
youths drag him, and the earth-shaker is gladdened by them.

Strabo 8.7.2 records the ancient view that this simile alludes to the Panionia. There were, however, cults of Poseidon Helikonios elsewhere: in Miletus (Pausanias 7.24.5, scholia to Iliad 20.404); in colonies of Miletus (Sinope and Tomi, see Nilsson 1906:78–79); in other Ionian cities, namely Samos (Köhler 1885), Teos (Pausanias 7.24.5), and probably Thebes on Mykale (there is a temple of Poseidon there, Inschriften von Priene [Hiller 1906] 364 line 3); also in Athens (Kleidemos FGrHist 323 F 1). Cf. Busolt 1893:317n4 and Peter Hommel in Kleiner et al. 1967:56. The simile in Iliad 20 could allude to any of these cults then in existence. It would seem more likely, however, that the simile evoked a shared experience of the Homeric audience. As Wilamowitz 1906/1971:46/137 suggests, the cults in individual Ionian cities may have been branches of the Panionian cult. See Part 4 below for other evidence for the date of the league and festival; an early date is supported by the literary historical record, but not as yet by the archaeological evidence at Panionion on Cape Mykale, the site of the festival (cf. Jeffery 1976:209). See Part 4 below also for the Panionia as the likely occasion for the genesis of the Homeric poems.

[ back ] 22. In Nestor’s twin myth he survived one brother, but in the new myth he survives many brothers, and this naturally makes him the youngest of the group (implicitly so in his story in Iliad 11, explicitly so after Homer). This too is at odds with his twin myth.

[ back ] 23. The phrase theráponte Diós, “servants of Zeus,” in Odyssey 11.255, implies that Pelias and Neleus were both kings; Pelias succeeded Kretheus as king of Iolkos, and Neleus went to the western Peloponnesus (“Apollodorus” 1.9.9, 1.9.11, cf. 1.9.16). The Odyssey does not specifically call Neleus the founder of Pylos, but later tradition does so (Hesiod fr. 33a.5 MW, Diodorus Siculus 4.68.6).

[ back ] 24. Cf. Ward 1968:3 for twin figures who are not explicitly called twins.

[ back ] 25. A detail found in Odyssey 11 but not mentioned in Odyssey 15 is Melampus’s use of prophecy to win the cattle of Iphiklos (thésphata pánt’ eipónta, “after he spoke all the prophecies,” 11.297; cf. “Apollodorus” 1.9.12). See below on Agamemnon and Menelaus for the motif of one brother wooing for the other.

[ back ] 26. In Argos Melampus healed the daughters of Proitos of madness in return for two thirds of Proitos’s kingdom, a third for himself and a third for his brother Bias (“Apollodorus” 2.2.2, cf. 1.9.12). In Odyssey 15.238–242 only Melampus is mentioned as having moved from Pylos to Argos, but the passage traces the ancestry of Theoklymenos, a descendant of Melampus, and there is thus no need to mention Bias, who is not in Theoklymenos’s direct line.