Hour 8. The psychology of the hero’s sign in the Homeric Iliad

The meaning of psūkhē

8§1. The key word for this hour is psūkhē, as used in the context of the key word for the previous hour, sēma. This word psūkhē can refer either to the life of someone who is alive or to the disembodied conveyor of someone’s identity after that someone dies. [1]
8§2. As we saw in Hour 7, the word psūkhē is written out as ΦΣΥΧΕ in a picture painted on an art object that I have been calling the Münster Hydria. I now add that the word hydria comes from the Greek word hudriā, which designates a vessel designed for holding and pouring hudōr or ‘water’. This kind of vessel could be used for the pouring of water in rituals honoring ancestors or cult heroes, and the general term for such ritual pourings - of any liquid - is libation. When we reach Hour 17, we will consider in some detail the meaning of libations performed in honor of ancestors and cult heroes. For now, however, it suffices for me to note that the performing of libations is relevant to the meaning of the word psūkhē. Also relevant is the fact that the hydria was a vessel used not only for pouring water but also for storing the bones of the dead: there is a particularly revealing mythological reference to this custom in “Dictys” FGH 49 F 7a (Tebtunis Papyrus 268): at lines 89-91, it is said that the bones of Achilles, together with those of Patroklos, were placed into a hydria and taken away for burial at Sigeion, a city situated on the Hellespont. This city was reputed to be the authentic site of the tomb of Achilles. [2]
8§3. The lettering that spells out psūkhē, as we saw in the picture painted on the Münster Hydria, is situated next to the figure of Patroklos hovering over the {235|236} sēma or ‘tomb’ that is destined to be occupied not only by the body of Patroklos but also by the body of Achilles after he, too, is killed by Apollo. In Hour 7, I already indicated the relevant passages where Homeric poetry makes explicit references to a single tomb that is destined to contain the two bodies together: Iliad XXIII 83-84, 91-92, 125-126, 245-248; Odyssey xxiv 80-84.
8§4. In Hour 7, I used the word ‘spirit’ in translating the word psūkhē as painted next to the painted figure of Patroklos in the picture of the Münster Hydria. But there is a deeper meaning of psūkhē in the context of this picture as a whole. After all, this picture could be called in Greek a sēma, just as the tomb of a hero could be called a sēma. And the same word sēma could refer not only to the tomb of a hero or to a picture of the hero but also to any sign of the hero, such as the lettering that identifies the picture painted on the Münster Hydria. That is what I mean when I say “a psychology of signs.” The word psūkhē is a marker of such psychology.
8§5. There is “a psychology of signs” not only in the picture we see painted on the body of the Münster Hydria but also in the overall narrative of the Homeric Iliad. The use of the word psūkhē in the painting, with specific reference to the ‘spirit’ of the dead Patroklos, is comparable to the use of this same word in the epic.

The psūkhē of Patroklos in the Iliad

8§6. I start with a scene in which the psūkhē of Patroklos appears to Achilles in his sleep:

Hour 8 Text A

|58 Τhe others went to their rest each to his own tent, |59 but only the son of Peleus, by the shore of the resounding sea, |60 only he amidst all his many Myrmidons lay grieving with deep groans |61 in an open place on the beach where the waves came surging in, one after another. |62 Here sleep took hold of him, releasing him from the cares in his heart. |63 It was a sweet sleep that poured all over him, since his shining limbs had been worn down |64 with chasing Hector round windy Ilion. |65 Then came to him the spirit [psūkhē] of unhappy Patroklos, |66 resembling in every way the man himself in size and good looks |67 and voice. It [= the psūkhē] even wore the same clothes he used to wear over his skin. |68 It [= the psūkhē] stood over his head and addressed to him {236|237} these words: |69 “You sleep, Achilles. As for me, you have forgotten all about me; |70 you used to be not at all uncaring about me when I was alive, but now that I am dead you care for me no further. |71 Bury me with all speed that I may pass through the gates of Hādēs. |72 Keeping me away from there are the spirits [psūkhai], who are images [eidōla] of men who have ended their struggles; |73 they [= the spirits] are not yet permitting me to join them beyond the river. |74 So, that is how it is, and that is how I am, directionless, at the entrance to the wide gates of the house of Hādēs. |75 Give me now your hand while I weep, and I do weep because never again |76 will I return from the house of Hādēs once you all do what you have to do, which is, to let me have the ritual of fire. |77 And never again will you [= Achilles] and I be alive together as we sit around only in each other’s company, separating ourselves from our dear comrades [hetairoi], while we keep on sharing, just the two of us, |78 our thoughts with each other. My fate [kēr] has its hold on me, |79 that hateful thing. Now it has opened its gaping jaws and swallowed me. It really always had its hold on me, ever since I was born. |80 But you, Achilles, you who look just like the gods [theoeikelos], you too have a fate [moira] that has its hold on you. |81 You too are fated to die beneath the walls of the noble Trojans. |82 I will tell you one more thing, and I call on you to comply. |83 Do not let my bones be laid to rest apart from your bones, Achilles, |84 but together with them - the same way we were brought up together in your own home, |85 back when I, still a boy, was brought from Opous by [my father] Menoitios. |86 He brought me to your place because of a disastrous [lugrē] homicide. |87 It happened on the day when I killed the son of Amphidamas. |88 It was involuntary. I was feeling disconnected [nēpios]. [3] I got angry during a game of dice. |89 But then [your father] the charioteer Peleus received me in his home, |90 and he raised me in a ritually correct way, naming me to be your attendant [therapōn]. |91 So, now, let the same container enclose our bones for both of us. |92 I mean, the two-handled golden amphora given to you by that lady, your mother.”
Iliad XXIII 58-92 [4] {237|238}
8§7. Here in Text A the sharing of one single tomb by Patroklos and Achilles in death is explicitly connected with something that they had shared in life: and that something is the experience of life itself. Here I highlight two of the verses spoken by Patroklos: ‘Do not let my bones be laid to rest apart from your bones, Achilles, | but together with them - the same way we were brought up together in your own home’ (XXIII 83-84). In these two verses that I have just quoted again from Text A, the shared upbringing of these two heroes is being equated with a shared life that becomes a model for their shared death. This shared life makes Patroklos the body-double of Achilles, that is, his other self, and such an identity is indicated here by the word therapōn (XXIII 90). As we saw in Hour 6, this word is the key to understanding the very idea of the body-double in Homeric poetry.
8§8. But Patroklos is not only the body-double of Achilles: as we will now see, he is also his spirit-double or “soulmate.” Patroklos and Achilles share not only the same sēma: they share also the same psūkhē. That is, they share not only the same meaning but even the same psychic energy that leads to the same meaning. That is what is said by the psūkhē of Patroklos himself when he tells Achilles that the two of them must share the same tomb in death (XXIII 83-84), precisely because the two of them had been nurtured to go through life together on their own (XXIII 84), separating themselves from the rest of their comrades (XXIII 77) and sharing their thoughts only with each other (XXIII 77-78).
8§9. The idea of sharing the same thoughts is expressed here in Text A by the idiom boulas bouleuein, ‘to plan plans’ (βουλὰς ἑζόμενοι βουλεύσομεν XXIII 78). This idiom is appropriate for expressing the communication of thoughts between cult heroes and their worshippers, as we see in an Iliadic passage in which Hector and his advisors consult the thinking of Ilos, who is cult hero of {238|239} the city of Ilion, that is, of Troy. The consultation happens at the sēma or tomb of this cult hero:

Hour 8 Text B

Hector, accompanied by all his advisors, | is planning plans [boulas bouleuei] at the tomb [sēma] of godlike Ilos. [5]
Iliad X 414-415 [6]
8§10. The use of the word sēma here is most suggestive: as we have seen in Hour 7, with reference to the instructions given by Nestor to Antilokhos, this word sēma in Homeric diction signals not only the tomb of a cult hero (as in XXIII 331) but also a sign (as in XXIII 326) that signals the transcendent meaning of that tomb to those who are qualified to understand the mystical language of hero cult. I will have more to say about this mystical language in Hour 15§10.
8§11. I argue, then, that the reference made in Text A to the psychic powers of Patroklos and Achilles as they share each other’s thoughts in life (XXIII 77-78) extends to their psychic powers in death: once they are dead, they become cult heroes who will now share their thoughts not only with each other but also with those in the here and now who seek to make mental contact with these two heroes by concentrating on the sēma that is shared by them. This shared tomb, as a sēma, is the primary visual marker that communicates the shared meaning of Patroklos and Achilles as cult heroes.

The psūkhē of Patroklos in the picture painted on the Münster Hydria

8§12. So far, I have been arguing that Patroklos and Achilles share not only the same sēma but also the same psūkhē in the verbal art of Homeric poetry. Now I extend the argument further: these two heroes share the same sēma and the same psūkhē also in the visual art of the Münster Hydria. On this vase, the painting of the letters ΦΣΥΧΕ that spell psūkhē next to the miniature figure of Patroklos as he levitates over the sēma he will share with Achilles applies not only to Patroklos but also to Achilles, whose pose of running at ground zero alongside his speeding chariot mirrors the pose of Patroklos running in thin air above the sēma that he will share with his “soulmate.” {239|240}

Achilles and Patroklos as cult heroes of apobatic chariot racing

8§13. As I argued in Hour 7, the picture painted on the Münster Hydria represents the heroes Achilles and Patroklos in the act of engaging in the ritual athletic event of the apobatai, ‘those who step off’, as it took place at the Athenian festival of the Panathenaia in the latter part of the sixth century BCE. And here I return to the relevant argument made by Klaus Stähler concerning the apobatic poses of both Achilles and Patroklos as depicted on the Münster Hydria: according to Stähler, what is being pictured here is the beginning of the hero cult of Patroklos. [7] Now, in the light of evidence I have assembled from the verbal art of the Iliad, I propose to modify his argument: what is being pictured is the beginning of the joint hero cult of Patroklos and Achilles. And the ritualized actions of Achilles, as we see from the painting on the Münster Hydria and from other comparable paintings, show the way for the future observance of rituals of hero cult in honor not only of Patroklos but also of Achilles himself. [8]
8§14. So, how are we to imagine these rituals of hero cult as shared by Achilles and Patroklos? I will now argue that these rituals can actually be equated with the athletic event of the apobatai as celebrated at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens. In terms of my argument, the two heroes Achilles and Patroklos presided as cult heroes over this athletic event, which is a ritual of hero cult. And the death of Patroklos, which is the prototype for the death of Achilles himself, is part of the aetiology of this athletic event, of this ritual of hero cult. I repeat here my working definition of aetiology as I formulated it in Hour 7a§15 above: an aetiology is a myth that motivates an institutional reality, especially a ritual. [9]
8§15. So, the death of Patroklos is one part of the myth that becomes the aetiology for the apobatic chariot race at the Panathenaia. But there is another part of this myth that we need to keep in mind. This is the dragging of the corpse of Hector behind the speeding chariot of Achilles. In the logic of aetiologies, as I argued in Hour 7a§15, a ritual practice can be polluted by a hero in myth, and then this pollution will need to be eternally purified by succeeding generations of ordinary humans who participate in that same seasonally recurring ritual practice. [10] Here, in the case of the apobatic chariot race at the festival of the {240|241} Panathenaia, the pollution in myth was the dragging of the corpse of Hector behind the speeding chariot of Achilles. A comparable example is the case of the non-apobatic chariot race at the festival of the Olympics, where the pollution in myth was the killing of Oinomaos in the course of his fatal chariot race with Pelops, who was the cause of this death (Apollodorus Epitome 2.7). [11]
8§16. I must stress once again, however, that Achilles is performing as an athlete even while he is polluting the prototypical athletic event in which he is participating. We saw this most clearly in the vase paintings where he is shown running furiously alongside a speeding chariot that is dragging the corpse of Hector. In these pictures, Achilles is polluting the athletic event of apobatic chariot racing, but he is still performing as an apobatic athlete. So, when an athlete is making his own run alongside his own speeding chariot at the apobatic event of the Panathenaia, he is re-enacting the prototypical run of Achilles. That prototypical run in myth is an expression of the hero’s fury, which can now translate into the competitive “killer instinct” of the athlete when he makes his own apobatic run.
8§17. I had said in my earlier work: “Once Achilles steps off his furiously speeding chariot, the fury that fueled that speed must be left behind as he hits the ground running and keeps on running until that fury is spent.” [12] Just as the fury of Achilles fuels his run until that fury is spent, so also the athletic energy or “killer instinct” of the apobatēs keeps him running and running until his energy is finally spent just as he crosses the finish line.

An athletic event at Eleusis

8§18. In earlier work, I have studied other comparable examples of aetiologies for athletic events. [13] In Hour 8a below, I survey many of those aetiologies. For the moment, however, I focus on just one example, which is an aetiology for a seasonally recurring athletic event celebrated at Eleusis.
8§19. This event, known as the Ballētus, was a mock battle that was evidently the ritual kernel of a whole complex of events known as the Eleusinian Games. [14] Here is how the athletic event is defined in an ancient dictionary attributed to Hesychius (this name is a figurehead for a vast lexicographical tradition stem- {241|242} ming from the Library of Alexandria): ‘Ballētus is a festival in Athens, celebrated in honor of Dēmophōn son of Keleos’. [15] I have translated the preposition epi (ἐπί) here in combination with the name of Dēmophōn in the dative case as ‘in honor of Dēmophōn’. But this translation is inadequate and needs to be revised. As I will show later in Hour 8a below, it would be more accurate to word it this way: ‘in compensation for [the death of] Dēmophōn’. As we will now see, this revised wording is compatible with the myth that serves as the aetiology for the athletic event of the Ballētus.
8§20. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the athletic competition of the Ballētus is overtly described as an act of compensation, recurring at the right season into all eternity, and this competition is understood to be an eternal compensation for a primal pollution caused by human error. That pollution was the unintended death of an infant hero named Dēmophōn. The queen of Eleusis, mother of this infant hero, had unintentionally ruined the plan of the goddess Demeter to make Dēmophōn exempt from death. That moment happens when the queen interrupts Demeter in the sacred act of dipping the infant Dēmophōn into the fire of the household fireplace in order to galvanize this infant into a state of immortality (Homeric Hymn to Demeter 239-250). Here I quote the passage that tells about the immediate aftermath, where the goddess angrily condemns the error of the queen and announces that the infant hero Dēmophōn will now be subject to death, like all other mortals. As we are about to see, however, the dooming of the infant to death comes with a compensation:

Hour 8 Text C

|259 I [= Demeter] swear by the implacable water of the Styx, the witness of oaths that gods make, as I say this: |260 immortal and ageless for all days |261 would I have made your dear [philos] little boy, and I would have given him honor [tīmē] that is unwilting [a-phthi-tos]. |262 But now there is no way for him to avoid death and doom. |263 Still, he will have an honor [tīmē] that is unwilting [a-phthi-tos], for all time, because on my knees |264 he had once sat and slept in my arms. |265 At the right season [hōrā], every year, |266 the sons of the Eleusinians will have a war, a terrible battle among each other. |267 They will do so for all days to come.
Homeric Hymn to Demeter 259-267 [16] {242|243}
I highlight here at verse 265 the noun hōrā (plural hōrai), ‘season, seasonality, the right time, the perfect time’, as I defined it in Hour 1§§26-29 and analyzed it in Hour 1§49. As we see from the context that I just quoted here in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, this noun hōrā marks the seasonal recurrence of rituals honoring cult heroes.
8§21. The death of the infant hero, as we learn from the text I just quoted, will be compensated by seasonally recurring rituals of athletic re-enactment, as expressed by the word tīmē, ‘honor’ (verse 263), which refers here to the honor conferred upon cult heroes in the rituals of hero cult. In this case, the rituals take the form of an athletic competition that overtly simulates warfare. And these rituals will have to recur seasonally, year after year, for a notional eternity. Such a seasonal recurrence is indicated, as we have just seen, by the word hōrā at verse 265 of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. And now we see why the tīmē, ‘honor’, that the prototypical hero receives in compensation for his death is described as a-phthi-tos, ‘unwilting’ (verse 263), that is, lasting forever. Another example of such a seasonally recurring ritual is a mock battle of boys competing within a sacralized space known as the Platanistās, ‘Grove of the Plane Trees’, in Sparta: this ritual is described by Pausanias (3.11.2, 3.14.8-9), who notes that the boys made sacrifice to the hero Achilles before they started their mock battle (3.20.8).

Achilles and Dēmophōn as cult heroes of festivals

8§22. As we have just seen in Text C taken from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the goddess Demeter foretells the tīmē aphthitos, ‘unwilting honor’ (verses 261, 263), of a seasonally-recurring athletic event that the hero Dēmophōn will receive as a compensation for his death (verses 265-267). Similarly in the Iliad, the goddess Thetis foretells the kleos aphthiton, ‘unwilting glory’ (IX 413), that the hero Achilles will receive as a compensation for his own death:

Hour 8 Text D = Hour 1 Text A = Hour 0 Text F

|410 My mother Thetis, goddess with silver steps, tells me that |411 I carry the burden of two different fated ways [kēres] leading to the final moment [telos] of death. |412 If I stay here and fight at the walls of the {243|244} city of the Trojans, |413 then my safe homecoming [nostos] will be destroyed for me, but I will have a glory [kleos] that is unwilting [aphthiton]. |414 Whereas if I go back home, returning to the dear land of my forefathers, |415 then it is my glory [kleos], genuine [esthlon] as it is, that will be destroyed for me, but my life force [aiōn] will then |416 last me a long time, and the final moment [telos] of death will not be swift in catching up with me.
Iliad IX 410-416
8§23. The parallelisms in the wording that we see in these two passages highlight the parallelisms between Dēmophōn and Achilles as heroes who are linked with festivals. Just as the tīmē, ‘honor’, of the hero Dēmophōn takes the form of a seasonally recurring athletic event that is aphthitos, ‘unwilting’ (Hymn to Demeter 261, 263), because it will last forever, eternally recycled at the festival of the Eleusinian Games, so also the kleos, ‘glory’, of the hero Achilles takes the form of a seasonally recurring poetic event that is aphthiton, ‘unwilting’ (Iliad IX 413), because it too will last forever, eternally recycled in the context of a festival like the Panathenaia.
8§24. In the case of Dēmophōn, his link to the festival of the Eleusinian Games is expressed directly in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. In the case of Achilles, however, his link to the festival of the Panathenaia is expressed only indirectly in the Homeric Iliad as we know it. Only in the visual medium of the vase paintings we saw in Hour 7 is the linking of Achilles with the Panathenaia expressed directly, but even in those vase paintings he is linked not with the poetic events that took place at this festival: rather, Achilles is linked with the athletic event of the apobatai as it took shape at the Panathenaia.

Achilles as a model of rhapsodic performance

8§25. I have found, however, an indirect linking of the kleos or epic ‘glory’ of Achilles with the festival of the Panathenaia: it happens at the moment when the ambassadors sent by Agamemnon to Achilles find him in his shelter, where he is singing the klea andrōn, ‘glories of men (heroes)’:

Hour 8 Text E = Hour 2 Text D

|185 The two of them reached the shelters and the ships of the Myrmidons, |186 and they found Achilles diverting his heart [phrēn] as he was playing on a clear-sounding lyre [phorminx], |187 a beautiful one, of ex- {244|245} quisite workmanship, and its cross-bar was of silver. |188 It was part of the spoils that he had taken when he destroyed the city of Eëtion, |189 and he was now diverting his heart [thūmos] with it as he was singing [aeidein] the glories of men [klea andrōn]. |190 Patroklos was the only other person there. He [= Patroklos] sat in silence, facing him [= Achilles], |191 and waiting for the Aeacid [= Achilles] to leave off singing [aeidein]. |192 Meanwhile the two of them came in - radiant Odysseus leading the way - |193 and stood before him. Achilles sprang up from his seat |194 with the lyre [phorminx] still in his hand, |195 and Patroklos, when he saw the guests, rose also.
Iliad IX 185-195
8§26. As I indicated in Hour 2, Achilles is shown here as a model of epic performance. We may compare the evidence of the vase paintings we saw in Hour 7, where Achilles is shown as a model of athletic performance.
8§27. Here in the Iliad, Achilles is not only the model subject of songs that are the klea andrōn, ‘glories of men (heroes)’. He is also the model performer of such songs. And the same goes for Patroklos or Patrokleēs. As we have seen, the meaning of his name, ‘he who has the kleos of the ancestors’, encapsulates the very idea of klea andrōn. In the Iliadic passage I have just quoted, Patroklos is not just waiting for Achilles to stop performing the song. Rather, he is waiting for his own turn to perform the song, which must continue:
So long as Achilles alone sings the klea andrōn, ‘glories of men’, these heroic glories cannot be heard by anyone but Patroklos alone. Once Achilles leaves off and Patroklos starts singing, however, the continuum that is the klea andrōn - the Homeric tradition itself - can at long last become activated. This is the moment awaited by Patrokleēs, ‘he who has the klea [glories] of the ancestors’. In this Homeric image of Patroklos waiting for his turn to sing, then, we have in capsule form the esthetics of rhapsodic sequencing. [17]
8§28. As I outlined in Hour 7e above, Homeric poetry was performed at the Panathenaia by rhapsōidoi, ‘rhapsodes’ (Plato Ion 530a-b, 533b-c; Isocrates Panegyricus 159; and Plutarch Life of Pericles 13.9-11). The rhapsodes narrated the Iliad and Odyssey in relay, following traditions of rhapsodic sequencing: each {245|246} rhapsode waited for his turn to pick up the narrative where the previous rhapsode left off (“Plato” Hipparkhos 228b-c; Dieuchidas of Megara FGH 485 F 6 via Diogenes Laertius 1.57; Lycurgus Against Leokrates 102). And the competition of rhapsodes in performing by relay and in sequence the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer at the festival of the Panathenaia was a ritual in and of itself. [18] Moreover, the principle of equity that was built into this ritual event of rhapsodic competition at the Panathenaia corresponded to the need for equity in ritual events of athletic competition. As Richard Martin observes, “The superb management of athletic games to assure equity could easily have been extended by the promoters of the Panathenaic games in this way.” [19]
8§29. In Hour 7e, I used the term Panathenaic Regulation in referring to this tradition of rhapsodic sequencing as adopted in Athens. In the sources I have just cited (“Plato” Hipparkhos 228b-c; Dieuchidas of Megara FGH 485 F 6 via Diogenes Laertius 1.57; Lycurgus Against Leokrates 102), we see different versions of stories about initiatives undertaken in the sixth century BCE by the Athenian state to institute such rhapsodic performance in relay at the Panathenaia. [20]
8§30. This is not to make a specific argument about the dating of Text E, the Iliadic passage showing Achilles and Patroklos performing in relay: it would be a mistake, I think, to date the wording of this passage to such a relatively late era, the sixth century BCE. After all, the tradition of rhapsodic relay was already at work in the Homeric tradition as it was evolving in the eighth and seventh centuries BCE at the festival of the Panionia. [21] My general argument, rather, is that this tradition of rhapsodic relay, where rhapsodes collaborate as well as compete in the process of performing successive parts of integral compositions like the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, can be used to explain the unity of these epics as they evolved over time. [22]
8§31. So, the passage in Text E where we see Achilles and Patroklos performing in relay the klea andrōn, ‘glories of men (heroes)’, is most likely to reflect a relatively early feature of the Homeric tradition. Still, the point remains that the Iliadic reference to such a relay performance of the klea andrōn, ‘glories of men (heroes)’, can be seen as an indirect link to the recycled performances of epic at festivals, including the festival of the Panathenaia. {246|247}
8§32. So, I maintain that the kleos of Homeric poetry is in its own right a seasonally recurring ritual event, since both the Iliad and the Odyssey were performed at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens. And, as we have seen, the poetic event of a competition in performing the Iliad and the Odyssey at the Panathenaia was parallel to the athletic event of a competition of apobatai at the same festival. This athletic event, as we have also seen, is comparable to the mock battle of the Ballētus, which was the primary athletic event of the Eleusinian Games and which qualifies as tīmē aphthitos, ‘unwilting honor’, in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (261, 263), while the primary poetic event of performing epic at the Panathenaia qualifies as kleos aphthiton, ‘unwilting glory’, in the Homeric Iliad (IX 413).

Achilles and Patroklos as cult heroes of a poetic event

8§33. I have argued so far that Dēmophōn as cult hero of the athletic event of the Ballētus at the festival of the Eleusinian games can be seen as a parallel to Achilles and Patroklos as joint cult heroes of the athletic event of the apobatai at the festival of the Panathenaia. But now I will argue that the status of Dēmophōn as cult hero of an athletic event can also be seen as a parallel to the status of Achilles and Patroklos as joint cult heroes of the poetic event of performing Homeric poetry at festivals. The parallelism is evident in the words of the goddess Thetis, when she describes Achilles as an infant hero:

Hour 8 Text F = part of Hour 4 Text G = Hour 0 Text D

|54 Ah me, the pitiful one! Ah me, the mother, so sad it is, of the very best. |55 I gave birth to a faultless and strong son, |56 the very best of heroes. And he shot up [anedramen] equal [īsos] to a seedling [ernos]. |57 I nurtured him like a shoot in the choicest spot of the orchard, |58 only to send him off on curved ships to Troy, to fight Trojan men. |59 And I will never be welcoming him |60 back home as returning warrior, back to the House of Peleus. |61 And as long as he lives and sees the light of the sun, |62 he will have sorrow [akh-nutai], and though I go to him I cannot help him.
Iliad XVIII 54-62
8§34. Similarly in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, we see this description of Dēmophōn as an infant hero: {247|248}

Hour 8 Text G

|233 And so it came to pass that the splendid son of bright-minded Keleos, |234 Dēmophōn, who was born to the one with the beautiful waist, Metaneira, |235 was nourished in the palace, and he grew up [aexeto] equal [īsos] to a superhuman force [daimōn], |236 not eating grain, not sucking from the breast. But Demeter [23] |237 used to anoint him with ambrosia, as if he had been born of the goddess, |238 and she would breathe down her sweet breath on him as she held him to her bosom. |239 At nights she would conceal him within the power source [menos] of fire, as if he were a smoldering log, |240 and his dear [philoi] parents were kept unaware. But they marveled |241 at how full in bloom he came to be, and to look at him was like looking at the gods.
Homeric Hymn to Demeter 233-241 [24]
8§35. I highlight the wording that describes the hero Dēmophōn as he is being nurtured by the goddess Demeter in Text G: ‘he grew up [aexeto] equal [īsos] to a superhuman force [daimōn]’ (verse 235); and I highlight the parallel wording that describes the hero Achilles as he in turn is being nurtured by the goddess Thetis in Text F: ‘he shot up [an-e-dramen] equal [īsos] to a seedling [ernos] (verse 56). [25] These descriptions, replete with vivid imagery centering on the wilting of plants, are typical of cult heroes who are destined to die and then receive as compensation some form of immortalization after death. [26]
8§36. I will have more to say about such descriptions in Hour 14, where I study further parallels in Hesiodic poetry, but for now I need to concentrate on the actual form of immortalization that Dēmophōn and Achilles will be granted by the divine order. In the case of Dēmophōn, as we saw in Text C (Homeric Hymn to Demeter 261, 263), he will be granted tīmē aphthitos, ‘unwilting honor’, by virtue of becoming the cult hero who presides over the prime athletic event of the Eleusinian Games; and, in the case of Achilles in Text D (Iliad IX 413), he {248|249} will be granted kleos aphthiton, ‘unwilting glory’, by virtue of becoming the cult hero who presides over the prime poetic event of the Panathenaia.
8§37. But this glory of Achilles will be shared in death by Patroklos, who as we have seen in both Texts A and B of Hour 5 receives the epithet ‘equal [īsos] to a superhuman force [daimōn]’ when he dies in place of Achilles in the Iliad (XVI 705 and 786). So, it is more accurate to say that Patroklos as well as Achilles becomes the cult hero of the primary poetic event of the Panathenaia.
8§38. A most revealing reference in the Homeric Iliad to the general idea of Achilles and Patroklos as joint cult heroes can be found in Iliad XXIII 91-92, two verses that we have already read at the end of Text A as I quoted it earlier in its entirety. In these two verses, the psūkhē of Patroklos speaks about a golden amphora that will contain his own bones mixed together with the bones of Achilles. The reference here to this golden amphora, to be placed inside the sēma that will be shared by the two heroes, is an implicit sign of the immortalization that awaits Achilles after his bones are regenerated into a living body by the power of the god Dionysus, who had originally given the vase to Thetis the mother of Achilles (there is a reference to this myth in Stesichorus PMG 234). [27]
8§39. This reference in Iliad XXIII 91-92 to the prospect of heroic immortalization after death is an indication, as we will now see, that the ideology of hero cult is actively in play here in Homeric poetry. It can be said in general that localized myths about the immortalization of heroes after death are linked with localized rituals as practiced in cults of heroes. [28]
8§40. In the case of the hero Achilles, a myth about his immortalization after death is made explicit in the epic Cycle, where Achilles is immortalized after death (plot-summary by Proclus of the Aithiopis by Arctinus of Miletus p. 106 lines 11-15). In the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, on the other hand, the theme of heroic immortalization is nowhere made explicit for Achilles. [29] But we do see in the Iliad at least two implicit references to the future immortalization of Achilles, and the passage we have just considered is one of them. There is another implicit reference in Iliad XIX 418, where Xanthos the immortal horse of Achilles is about to foretell the hero’s immortalization, but the prophecy is silenced by Erinyes or ‘Furies’. [30] {249|250}

The prefiguring of Achilles by Patroklos

8§41. In Homeric poetry, Patroklos as cult hero is more clearly defined than even Achilles himself. That is because Patroklos is not only a body-double but even a story-double of Achilles in the Iliad, where things happen to Patroklos that could otherwise have happened only to Achilles. [31] The most central of these happenings is the ritual death of Patroklos at the hands of the god Apollo in the Iliad: as we saw when we were reading Text A (XVI 698-711) and Text B (XVI 783-806) in Hour 5, this happening in the Iliad prefigures the death of Achilles beyond the Iliad. [32] And there are also other such happenings in the Iliad where the role of Patroklos as a cult hero functions as a substitute for the corresponding role of Achilles. A case in point is the story we see in Iliad XVII about the fighting between the Achaeans and the Trojans over the possession of the corpse of Patroklos after he is killed in Iliad XVI. Directly comparable is the fighting over the corpse of Achilles as we see it described in Odyssey xxiv (37-39). As we will see in Hour 11(§9), the possession of the corpse of a cult hero is essential for the fertility and prosperity of the community that worships that hero.
8§42. In view of this centrality of Patroklos as the surrogate cult hero of the Homeric Iliad, it is vital to highlight again here in Hour 8 the centrality of this same figure in the picture of Patroklos as painted on the Münster Hydria. The hero, imagined there as a miniature body-double of Achilles, hovers mid-air over the tomb that he will share with Achilles. And, in this painting, Patroklos is labeled as psūkhē (ΦΣΥΧΕ). In Hour 7, I used a neutral translation of this word’s meaning, as ‘spirit’, but the more basic meaning of psūkhē is ‘breath of life’, which in the context of hero cults signals the vital force that departs from the body of the hero at the moment of death - only to be reunited with that body after a transition, through Hādēs, into a paradisiacal setting that transcends the temporal and the spatial constraints of mortality. [33] Such a mystical reunion of the body with the psūkhē is the vision that drives the idea of heroic immortalization, which is a basic feature of hero cult. [34] In terms of this idea, as I {250|251} noted a moment ago, there is transition of the psūkhē through Hādēs: So, this realm of Hādēs is transitional, not eschatological.
8§43. Eschatology has to do with thinking about afterlife - where you “end up.” From the standpoint of basic Christian eschatology, for example, the stark alternatives are heaven and hell. Homeric eschatology is different. For example, the realm of Hādēs is not “hell.”
8§44. Here I offer an overall formulation of the contrast between Hādēs and heroic immortalization in the context of hero cults:
The cult hero was considered dead - from the standpoint of the place where the hero’s sōma or ‘body’ was situated; at the same time, the hero was considered simultaneously immortalized - from the standpoint of the paradisiacal place that awaited all heroes after death. Such a paradisiacal place, which was considered eschatological, must be contrasted with Hādēs, which was considered transitional. The name and even the visualization of this otherworldly place varied from hero cult to hero cult. Some of these names are: Elysium (Ēlusion), the Islands of the Blessed (Nēsoi Makarōn), the White Island (Leukē), and, exceptionally, even Mount Olympus in the case of Hēraklēs. Many of these names were applied also to the actual site or sacred precinct of the hero cult. [35]
8§45. I will return in Hour 11 to the distinction I am making here between transitional and eschatological phases in an afterlife.

Heroic immortalization and the psūkhē

8§46. The theme of heroic immortalization is implicit in the overall use of the word psūkhē in Homeric poetry. I emphasize that this theme is implicit, not explicit, and that the formulaic system of Homeric diction shows the implicitness by actually avoiding the use of psūkhē in certain situations while substituting alternative words like thūmos and menos in these situations. [36]
8§47. One such situation is a set of Homeric scenes where a hero swoons, that is, where he loses consciousness but does not die: in such scenes, it can be said that a hero loses his psūkhē when he swoons (as in the case of Sarpedon when he swoons in Iliad V 696), but it cannot be said that he wins back his {251|252} psūkhē when he comes to. [37] If the hero were dead, then he would not come to. But if he is not dead, then he will come to, that is, he will revive. The point is, in Homeric scenes where we see a hero reviving after swooning, that is, where the hero regains consciousness after having passed out temporarily, the ‘breath of life’ that he regains cannot be expressed by way of the word psūkhē, which can be used to express only the loss of consciousness at the moment of swooning or dying but not the regaining of consciousness at the moment of reviving. From the standpoint of Homeric diction, to say that the psūkhē as the ‘breath of life’ is regained after reviving from swooning is evidently too close to saying that the hero will revive not only after swooning but even after dying. [38]
8§48. This pattern of consistently avoiding references to the return of the psūkhē to the body shows a pervasive recognition of the theme of immortalization within the entire system of Homeric poetry. The operation of this system in Homeric poetry, I have argued, indicates that this poetry recognizes and even accepts the idea of heroic immortalization, though this idea is expressed only implicitly. [39]
8§49. Just as the idea of heroic immortalization is expressed only implicitly in Homeric poetry, it is implicit also in the picture painted on the Münster Hydria. As I have argued in Hour 7, the painting on this vase signals such a theme not only by picturing the psūkhē of Patroklos as it hovers over the tomb that he will be sharing with Achilles but also by even labeling the picture, that is, by painting the consecutive letters ΦΣΥΧΕ to spell psūkhē, where the act of painting these letters that spell out psūkhē becomes a sēma or ‘sign’ in its own right. [40] And, in the timelessness of the narrative created in this picture, as I have argued here in Hour 8, Patroklos and Achilles share not only the same sēma or ‘tomb’ but even the same psūkhē, as indicated by the sēma or ‘sign’ for the word psūkhē.

The psūkhē as both messenger and message

8§50. This shared meaning of Patroklos and Achilles as cult heroes is signaled in the Iliad not only by the tomb that they share. It is signaled even by the psūkhē or ‘spirit’ of Patroklos himself, who is sending a message to Achilles. As we have seen in {252|253} Iliad XXIII (83-84, 91-92), the psūkhē of Patroklos directly communicates his message to Achilles, telling him to undertake the construction of their shared tomb. And as I noted, there is a further reference to this tomb in Iliad XXIII (125-126). Then, even further on in XXIII (245-248), it is indicated that the tomb to be shared by Achilles and Patroklos will be incomplete so long as only Patroklos occupies it, and that the final act of making the tomb complete must wait till the death of Achilles. That final act is what we see described in Odyssey xxiv (80-84). The reference there in the Odyssey to the shared tomb of Achilles and Patroklos also complements a set of stylized references to what is understood to be the same tomb in the Iliad (especially XIX 368-379). [41] In Hour 11, I will have more to say about this tomb and about its physical setting.
8§51. Just as the word psūkhē signals the message of one tomb to be shared by Achilles and Patroklos as cult heroes in the Iliad, the same word signals the same message in the picture painted on the Münster Hydria. In the logic of that picture, the self of Patroklos as a psūkhē will become the self of Achilles, whose corpse will be placed inside the same tomb that is already occupied by the corpse of his other self, Patroklos. So, the psūkhē is both the messenger and the message of the messenger. And the visual cue for this psūkhē is the tomb over which the miniature vision of Patroklos levitates, which is not only a sēma in the sense of a ‘tomb’ but also a sēma in the sense of a ‘sign’ of a meaning - or even as a ‘sign’ of meaning itself.
8§52. It is essential for my overall argument to repeat here the simple fact that sēma is a Homeric word that means not only ‘sign’ but also ‘tomb’. That is what we saw in Hour 7 when I first showed the verse in Iliad XXIII 331 where sēma refers to the ‘tomb’ of the unnamed cult hero. And we saw the same word five verses earlier in Iliad XXIII 326, where it refers to the ‘sign’ given by Nestor to Antilokhos. When Nestor says the word for ‘sign’, he is already saying the word for ‘tomb’. Just as the act of painting an image that shows the tomb shared by Patroklos and Achilles becomes a sēma or ‘sign’ of the tomb, so also the act of saying the word sēma as a ‘sign’ becomes a ‘sign’ of the tomb in the verbal art of the Iliad. And the unspecified tomb of the unnamed hero turns out to be the specific tomb of the hero named Patroklos, who will be sharing this tomb with the hero named Achilles. Thus the sign given by Nestor is not just an unspecified sign that tells a chariot driver how to drive his chariot around a turning point that turns out to be tomb of Patroklos. It is also a specific sign that tells the {253|254} chariot driver that he is participating in an athletic ritual performed in honor of Patroklos and Achilles as cult heroes.

A fusion of heroic myth and athletic ritual

8§53. I must stress once again that the idea of using the tomb of a hero as the turning point in a chariot race stems from the fact that the activity of athletics, like the activity of warfare, was considered to be a ritual. Moreover, the ritual activities of athletics and warfare were conceived as parallel to the mythical deeds of heroes. As I noted already in Hour 1, and as I will elaborate in Hour 8b, the same wording was used to refer to the ordeals of athletes and warriors in the rituals of athletics and war as was used to refer to the ordeals of heroes in myth. In the ritual ordeals of athletics and warfare, real people re-enacted the mythical ordeals of heroes. Already in Hour 1, when I looked at the Labors of Hēraklēs, I had highlighted the fusion of heroic and athletic actions.
8§54. We are seeing, then, a fusion of heroic myth and athletic ritual in the story about the chariot race in Iliad XXIII and about all the other athletic events that are narrated there. The athletic events in which the heroes participate there are a matter of ritual, but they are also a matter of myth, because it is the heroes of the heroic age who participate in the athletic events of Iliad XXIII, not the real people in the post-heroic age who re-enact the mythical ordeals of heroes.
8§55. What makes the athletic events of Iliad XXIII appear to be different from the “real” athletic events of the historical period is this: whatever is happening in Iliad XXIII appears to happen only once, whereas “real” athletic events are seasonally recurrent. We can see most clearly this concept of seasonally recurring re-enactment when we read the relevant passage in Text C above, taken from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (259-267).
8§56. But appearances are deceiving. Even the athletic events narrated in the Iliad are not really one-time events, since they were narrated again and again at the seasonally recurring festival of the Panathenaia in Athens. In Hour 7e above, I have already given a brief overview of some relevant historical facts that we can piece together about the use of this festival as a venue for the seasonally recurring performances of Homeric poetry during the sixth century BCE and later. On the basis of these facts, I maintain that the athletic events of Iliad XXIII are understood to be performed again and again in the recycled performances of Homeric poetry at the festival of the Panathenaia.
8§57. There is a comparable recycling of athletic performance in the picture {254|255} we see painted on the Münster Hydria. In this picture, Achilles is represented as engaging in a personalized apobatic race with himself. [42] He is seen running alongside the speeding chariot, having already leapt off its platform. Meanwhile, the psūkhē of Patroklos - which can double for the psūkhē of Achilles - is shown hovering over the hero’s tomb or sēma occupying the dead center of the picture. This psūkhē of Patroklos, labeled as ΦΣΥΧΕ in the painting, is running in the air - a miniature version of the running Achilles who is racing at ground zero in a re-enactment of the race being run by the other self who is running in the air.
8§58. In the narrative of the Homeric Iliad as we have it, by contrast, Achilles is never shown as an apobatic athlete - or as any other kind of athlete. Even at the Funeral Games for Patroklos as retold in the Iliad, Achilles delegates the role of the athlete to his fellow heroes. Instead of engaging in any athletic event, Achilles in the Funeral Games reserves for himself the role of the one who presides over all the athletic events. And, in this role of presider, he is substituting for the one hero in Iliad XXIII whose death must be compensated by way of athletic competitions. That one hero is Patroklos. Thus Achilles becomes the ritual representative of Patroklos, his other self, by presiding over the athletic competitions at the Funeral Games for his dead friend. His chosen role as presider here is a substitute for the role that he chooses in the vase painting of the Münster Hydria and in other such paintings, where he engages directly in the athletic competition of the apobatai. [43]
8§59. No matter which hero is shown as engaging in athletic events, whether it be Achilles or only his fellow heroes, the fact remains that heroes who engage in these events become models for athletes who compete in these same kinds of events. And they are models because they are shown as competing in athletic ordeals that are instituted explicitly in compensation for the death of one of their own kind, a hero.
8§60. This is not to say that the modeling is consistently positive. We have already seen that the actions of heroes may be negative models - even when they serve as aetiologies for existing institutions like athletic festivals, as in the case of the brutal dragging of Hector’s corpse behind the speeding chariot of Achilles. Moreover, the models for heroes who compete in athletics may be their very own selves in other phases of their own lives as narrated in epic. For {255|256} example, the heroes who compete in athletic events at the Funeral Games for Patroklos in the Iliad can unwittingly re-enact corresponding heroic events, either positive or negative, that they will experience at some point in their actual lives as characters in the heroic narration. [44]
8§61. I conclude, then that the painting on the Münster Hydria shows Achilles as a prototypical participant in his own hero cult by way of participating in the athletic event of the apobatai. Through his prototypical participation, Achilles shows the way for future athletes to participate in this athletic event of the apobatai at the seasonally recurring festival of the Panathenaia for all time to come. [45]
8§62. And I offer a parallel conclusion about the Funeral Games for Patroklos in Iliad XXIII. [46] Here too Achilles is shown as a prototypical participant in his own hero cult by way of participating in the hero cult of his other self, Patroklos. Here too he shows the way for future athletes to participate in his own hero cult by way of participating in the kinds of athletic events we see described in Iliad XXIII, especially in the chariot race. In this case, however, Achilles does not himself participate in the athletic events of the Funeral Games for Patroklos: rather, it is the other surviving Achaean heroes of the Iliad who serve as prototypical participants in the athletic events, while Achilles himself simply presides over these events as if he were already dead, having already achieved the status of the cult hero who will be buried in the tumulus to be shared with his other self, Patroklos.

Back to the glory of the ancestors

8§63. In the visual art of the picture painted on the Münster Hydria, we saw a complex sign that combines the painting of the word psūkhē with the painting of a shining white tomb foregrounded against a background of burnished red, and this complex sign signals the hero Patroklos himself, whose psūkhē will become one with the psūkhē of Achilles when the two heroes are joined in death, inside the tomb they will share forever. Similarly in the verbal art of Homeric poetry, we see a complex sign that combines two meanings of the word sēma as used by Nestor in Iliad XXIII before the commencement of the chariot race in honor of Patroklos: it is a ‘sign’ (XXIII 326) that signals a hero’s ‘tomb’ (XXIII 331), but it signals not only the tomb that Pa- {256|257} troklos will share with Achilles but also the very meaning of the hero Patroklos himself. That meaning, as I showed in Hour 2, is recapitulated in the meaning of his name Patrokleēs, ‘the one who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors [pateres]’.
8§64. This name Patrokleēs has a special meaning for Antilokhos, the hero to whom Nestor addresses his sēma or ‘sign’ (XXIII 326) by speaking as an immediate ancestor, that is, as a father. For the hero Antilokhos, as I showed in Hour 7, the highest point in his ascending scale of affection proves to be his immediate ancestor, that is, his father. As we know indirectly from a plot-summary of the epic Cycle (plot-summary by Proclus of the Aithiopis by Arctinus of Miletus p. 106 lines 4-6) and directly from the words of the lyric master Pindar (Pythian 6.28-42), Antilokhos himself dies in a chariot fight, giving up his own life while saving the life of his father Nestor, whose chariot had been immobilized. [47] Once again we see the mentality of choosing to die for someone else: I will die for you.
8§65. This same name Patrokleēs, ‘the one who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors [pateres]’, also has a special meaning for Achilles himself. Not only is Patroklos the one person who is ‘nearest and dearest’ to Achilles (philtatos XVII 411, 655). Even the meaning of the name of Patroklos, as ‘the one who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors [pateres]’, ranks highest in the ascending scale of affection that defines the hero Achilles. As I showed in Hour 2, this name Patrokleēs amounts to a periphrasis of the expression tōn prosthen klea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories [kleos plural] of men of an earlier time who were heroes’ (IX 524-525), which is used in Homeric poetry to refer to epic narrative. And what must mean more than anything else to Achilles is not only Patroklos himself but also the actual meaning of his name Patrokleēs, which conveys the idea of ‘the glories [kleos plural] of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’. For Achilles, as I argued in Hour 2, the meaning of the name of Patroklos represents the epic of the Iliad itself. And Achilles will ultimately die for that epic as conveyed by the name of Patroklos, just as Patroklos had died for Achilles.
8§66. The significance of the name of Patrokleēs as a sign of the ‘fathers’ or ‘ancestors’ in general is relevant to the scene near the end of the Iliad where Priam, as a father, appeals to Achilles to take pity and accept ransom for the body of Hector: {257|258}

Hour 8 Text H

|486 “Remember your father, O Achilles, you who look just like the gods. |487 He [= Peleus, the father of Achilles] is just like me, on the destructive threshold of old age. |488 It may be that those who dwell near him |489 are wearing him down, and there is no one to keep damage and devastation away from him. |490 Yet when he hears of you being still alive, |491 he takes pleasure in his heart [thūmos], and every day he is full of hope |492 that he will see his dear [philos] son come home to him from Troy; |493 but I am the most luckless of all men, since I fathered the best sons |494 in the city of Troy, which has power far and wide, and I can now say that there is not one of them left. |495 I had fifty sons when the sons of the Achaeans came here; |496 nineteen of them were from a single womb, |497 and the others were born to me by the women of my halls. |498 Many of them have been hamstrung by swift Arēs, |499 but he who was the only one left, who was the guardian of the city and ourselves, |500 he has been killed by you just now, while he was protecting his fatherland. |501 I mean Hector. And it is because of him that I now come to the ships of the Achaeans |502 intending to ransom his body from you. And I bring with me great ransom beyond telling. |503 Show respect [aideîsthai], O Achilles, to the gods; and have pity on me. |504 Remember your own father. But I am far more pitiable, |505 for I have steeled myself as no one yet among earthbound mortals has ever steeled himself before me. |506 I have raised to my lips the hand of the one who killed my son.” |507 Thus he [= Priam] spoke, and he stirred up in him [= Achilles] a longing to cry in lament [goos] for his own father. |508 He touched the old man’s hand and moved him gently away. |509 And they both remembered. One of them remembered Hector the man-killer |510 and cried for him, shedding tears thick and fast as he lay near the feet of Achilles. |511 As for Achilles, he was crying for his own father at one moment, and then, at the very next moment, |512 he would be crying for Patroklos. And the sounds of lament rose up all over the dwelling.
Iliad XXIV 486-512 [48] {258|259}
8§67. We see here Achilles weeping alternately for his own father Peleus and for Patroklos, whose name reflects the glory of the ‘fathers’ or ‘ancestors’. The prompt that activates the hero’s emotion of sorrow here is the very act of thinking about fathers or ancestors. Achilles thinks of his own father when he sees the sorrow of another father, Priam, over the death of another son, Hector.
8§68. Here at the end of the Homeric Iliad, Achilles will now finally emerge from the depths of brutality and ascend to new heights of humanity by way of identifying with his deadliest enemy. A father’s tears are what finally moves him. He thinks of his own father and, that way, he can think more clearly about the meaning of Patroklos. He will now finally give back to Priam the body of Hector.

Back to the meaning of Patroklos

8§69. Here I return to the ascending scale of affection in the compressed story about Meleagros and Kleopatra, a story described as tōn prosthen klea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’, in the Iliad (IX 524-525). This story, as told by Phoenix to Achilles and Patroklos and the other heroes assembled in the shelter of Achilles, was a story that was meant to be understood by ‘friends’, philoi (IX 528). Or, to put it more accurately, it was a story that was meant for an audience who are presumed to be friends, philoi:

Hour 8 Text I = Hour 2 Text B

|524 This is how [houtōs] we [= I, Phoenix] learned it, the glories [klea] of men [andrōn] of an earlier time [prosthen], |525 who were heroes [hērōes], whenever one of them was overcome by tempestuous anger. |526 They could be persuaded by way of gifts and could be swayed by words. |527 I totally recall [me-mnē-mai] how this was done - it hap- {259|260} pened a long time ago, it is not something new - |528 recalling exactly how it was. I will tell it in your company - since you are all near and dear [philoi].
Iliad IX 524-528 [49]
8§70. As we saw in Hour 2, the Greek word houtōs, ‘this is how’, that introduces this story about the meaning of friendship is a marker of a form of speech known as the ainos. And the “moral of the story” as encoded inside this ainos, as we also saw in Hour 2, is that Kleopatra as the wife of Meleagros is highest on her husband’s ascending scale of affection just as Patroklos as philos or ‘friend’ is correspondingly the highest for Achilles. And these characters in the epic are highest in the ascending scales of Meleagros and Achilles not only because they are wife and friend respectively but also because their names Kleopatra and Patrokleēs mean the same thing as tōn prosthen klea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’, in the Iliad (IX 524-525). That is, the name of this wife and the name of this friend mean the same thing as the medium of the epic we know as the Homeric Iliad.
8§71. So, the question is, who or what is really highest for Achilles in his ascending scale of affection? The answer is, it must be the epic itself, to which Achilles refers as his own kleos aphthiton, his ‘unwilting glory’ (IX 413), quoting the prophecy of his divine mother Thetis. But Achilles does not yet know the answer to the question I just asked, about the highest of all values, at the moment when he quotes his mother’s prophecy about his kleos aphthiton. Full knowledge of what he must love more than anything else in the world can be achieved only when the epic is fully told.
8§72. As the plot of the Iliad evolves, we can see along the way some indications of the hero’s incomplete knowledge of his own epic glory or kleos. By the time we reach Iliad IX, we can already see at least two other possible priorities for Achilles.
8§73. In terms of the first of these two other priorities, what matters most to Achilles is his love for a woman, Briseis. He says it in the form of a sarcastic question that sets up a contrast between his relationship with Briseis and the {260|261} relationship of the sons of Atreus, that is, of Agamemnon and Menelaos, with their wives:

Hour 8 Text J

|340 Are the only mortal men in the world who love their wives |341 the sons of Atreus? I ask this question because any man who is noble and sensible |342 loves [phileîn] and cherishes her who is his own, just as I, with regard to her [= Briseis] |343 with my whole heart did I love [phileîn] her, though she was only the prize of my spear.
Iliad IX 340-343 [50]
8§74. Here in Iliad IX, we have already come a long way from Iliad I, where Briseis was simply the property of Achilles and thus a mere extension of his honor. Now Briseis is to be a wife for him, just as Kleopatra is a wife for Meleagros.
8§75. In terms of the second of the two other priorities we are now considering, what about the love of Achilles for his comrades? The words of Ajax, who is one of these comrades, show that this rival hero misunderstands the priorities of Achilles:

Hour 8 Text K

|622 … And then Ajax stood up among them, |623 the godlike son of Telamon, and he said:|624 “Odysseus, descended from the gods, noble son of Laertes, |625 let’s just go, for I see that there is no fulfillment [teleutē] that will come from what we say [= the mūthos]. |626 No, on this mission, there will be no action resulting from words. We must go and tell the news as soon as possible |627 to the Danaans, even though what we say [= the mūthos] will not be good for those |628 who are waiting to receive it. As for Achilles, |629 a savage feeling [thūmos] does he have embedded in his chest, which holds within it that great heart of his. |630 What a wretched man he is! He cares nothing for the love [philotēs] of his comrades [hetairoi]. |631 With that love we honored him more than all the others over there by the ships. |632 He is pitiless. If a man’s brother or son has been killed, |633 that man will ac- {261|262} cept a blood-price [poinē] as compensation for the one who was killed, |634 and the one who caused the death, having paid a vast sum, can remain in the locale [dēmos], |635 while the other one’s heart and manly feeling [thūmos] are checked, |636 now that he has accepted the blood-price [poinē]. But for you, [Achilles,] a bad and relentless |637 feeling [thūmos] have the gods put into your chest, and this, all because of just one girl, |638 just one.”
Iliad IX 622-638 [51]
8§76. Ajax here is thinking that the main hero of the Iliad has already made up his mind, preferring Briseis over his comrades. In the long run, however, Achilles will have as his main priority neither Briseis nor his comrades as represented by Ajax. No, his priority will be a concept as encapsulated in the expression tōn prosthen klea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’. And this concept will be represented by Patroklos, who is even more than a comrade, more than a wife. For Achilles, Patroklos is his other self. And the life that Achilles shares with this other self is to be valued above everything else. Even more than that, the value of that life is beyond measure. So, it becomes impossible to put a price on the value of that life, and this impossibility is summed up in a timeless scene pictured on the Shield of Achilles:

Hour 8 Text L

|497 Meanwhile the people were gathered in assembly, and there a quarrel [neikos] |498 had arisen, and two men were quarreling [neikeîn] about the blood-price [poinē] |499 for a man who had died. One of the two claimed that he had the right to pay off the damages in full, |500 declaring this publicly to the population of the district [dēmos], and the other of the two was refusing to accept anything.
Iliad XVIII 497-500 [52] {262|263}
8§77. Here the narrative has zoomed in on a litigation between an anonymous plaintiff and an anonymous defendant. The litigation is all about the need to find the right blood-price to be paid for the loss of a life. The victim whose life has been lost is also anonymous. The anonymous plaintiff, who can be seen as a stand-in for Achilles, refuses to accept compensation offered by the anonymous defendant, who can be seen as a stand-in for Agamemnon. The defendant seeks to compensate for the loss of a human life, but whose life is it? If the defendant stands for Agamemnon, and if the plaintiff stands for Achilles, then maybe the life that cannot be paid for is the life of Achilles. After all, what matters more for Achilles than all the wealth he could possibly imagine is his own life. All the riches of Troy and Delphi put together would be inadequate as payment for this life. Here is how Achilles expresses his love for his own life:

Hour 8 Text M

|401 My life [psūkhē] is worth more to me than all the wealth |402 that was once possessed, so they say, by that well-situated citadel of Ilion, |403 back when it was still at peace, before the coming of the Achaeans, |404 or than all the treasure that is stored inside when you enter the stone threshold of the one who shoots, |405 Phoebus Apollo, at rocky Pytho [= Delphi]. |406 Cattle and sheep can be rustled in a raid, |407 and one can acquire both tripods and horses with their golden manes if he wants them, |408 but a man’s life [psūkhē] can never come back - it cannot be rustled in a raid |409 and thus taken back - once it has passed through the barriers of his teeth.
Iliad IX 401-409 [53]
8§78. But this one life, this one psūkhē, belongs not only to Achilles. As we have seen here in Hour 8, this life belongs to Patroklos and Achilles together. The two heroes share one psūkhē. That is the psychology of the sign that signals their shared sēma, which is not only their shared tomb but also their shared meaning as cult heroes.
8§79. From the standpoint of this timeless picture on the Shield of Achilles, we can now reconsider the three alternative priorities we have been considering {263|264} for Achilles as the main hero of the Iliad, (1) love for a would-be wife or (2) love for his comrades or (3) love for his own life. All three of these alternative priorities are merely foils for the ultimate priority for this hero, which is his love for tōn prosthen klea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’, which includes and transcends all the other priorities. And this love is embodied in the figure of Patroklos, ritual substitute of Achilles in the Iliad. That is the meaning of Patroklos.

Hour 8a. About the ritual origins of athletics

8a§1. The athletic event of the mock battle or Ballētus, as featured in the Eleusinian Games, was understood to be a form of eternal compensation for the primal death of the cult hero Dēmophōn, as we saw from the wording I quoted from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (259-267) in Hour 8 Text C. And there are historical parallels, including the Nemean and the Isthmian Games, which were seasonally recurring festivals featuring athletic competitions intended as eternal compensation for the prototypical deaths of two other infant heroes, Arkhemoros and Melikertes respectively. [54] I will have more to say presently about those two heroes.
8a§2. Here I invoke, as I have invoked in my earlier research on the ritual origins of Greek athletics, [55] the relevant evidence assembled by Walter Burkert in his handbook on Greek religion. [56] This evidence indicates that the traditions of ancient Greek athletics evolved out of practices originating from (1) rituals of initiation into adulthood and (2) rituals of compensation for death.
8a§3. These two kinds of rituals are actually related, since the ritual process of initiation, in and of itself, can be seen as a compensation for death. From an anthropological point of view, a common characteristic of initiation rituals is the figuring of death as a prerequisite for a rebirth from one given age class to another, as in the case of initiations from pre-adult into adult status; according to the mentality underlying rituals of initiation, as I have already noted, you must die to your old self in order to be reborn to your new self. [57]
8a§4. Here is a salient example: in the case of athletic competitions held at the festival of the Lykaia in Arcadia, these competitions were organically connected with rituals that re-enacted the separations of pre-adult and adult age {264|265} classes, and these rituals were in turn organically connected with a myth that tells about the death and regeneration of an infant hero named Arkas. [58]
8a§5. There is a comparable myth that tells about the death and regeneration of the infant hero Pelops, which was an aetiology for an athletic competition held at the festival of the Olympics in Olympia. This competition was a single-lap footrace known as the stadion. [59] The myth about the death and regeneration of Pelops is retold in Pindar’s Olympian 1, where it is artfully juxtaposed with other myths about the origins of the Olympics. [60]
8a§6. Such myths can be understood in terms of initiation from boyhood into manhood, for the purpose of preparing men for warfare. Such a ritualized purpose is evident also in such institutions as the seasonally recurring mock battle known as the Ballētus at the Eleusinian Games, which we considered in Hour 8 Text C (Homeric Hymn to Demeter 259-267). We have also considered in passing a more famous example, and that is the mock battle of Spartan boys in a sacralized space known as the Platanistās, ‘Grove of the Plane Trees’ (Pausanias 3.11.2, 3.14.8-9, at 3.20.8). On the basis of such rituals, we may infer that the institutionalized practices of athletics and warfare were originally viewed as parts of one single ritual continuum.
8a§7. Such an inference, I must emphasize, is not an attempt to essentialize warfare. Given the exponentially increasing horrors of war in modern times, most observers today (including myself) would be repelled by any such attempt. Still, there is no denying that warfare was a fact of life in premodern times – and that it was ritualized in different ways in different societies.
8a§8. Besides the narrative about the death and regeneration of the infant hero Pelops, there is also another narrative that serves as another aetiological myth for yet another athletic event at the Olympics. In this case, the narrative is about the victory of Pelops as an adolescent hero in a four-horse chariot race. In fact, this narrative serves as the aetiological myth for the athletic event of four-horse chariot racing at the Olympics, as we see from the artful retelling in Pindar’s Olympian 1. [61]
8a§9. From other retellings of this aetiological myth, we learn that the basic {265|266} motivation for the athletic event of the four-horse chariot race at the Olympics was the death of the hero Oinomaos while he was competing in a prototypical four-horse chariot race with Pelops. We learn what the Delphic Oracle is reputed to have said about the consequences of this prototypical death when we read the reportage of the antiquarian Phlegon of Tralles (FGH 257 F 1 lines 8-9): θῆκε δ’ ἔπειτα ἔροτιν καὶ ἔπαθλα θανόντι | Οἰνομάῳ, ‘then he [Pelops] established a festival and contests for prizes [ep-āthla] in honor of the dead Oinomaos’. In terms of this extended narrative, not only the chariot race but also the entire festival of the Olympics was founded by Pelops. Moreover, in the words of the Delphic Oracle as reported by Phlegon (lines 6-7), Pelops was in fact only the second founder of the Olympics: the Oracle says that the first founder was Pisos, the eponymous hero of Pisa, a place closely associated with the Olympics. As for the third founder, it was Hēraklēs, as we read further in the words of the Oracle as quoted by Phlegon (lines 9-11): τρίτατος δ’ ἐπὶ τοῖς πάϊς ᾿Αμφιτρύωνος | ῾Ηρακλέης ἐτέλεσσ’ ἔροτιν καὶ ἀγῶνα ἐπὶ μήτρῳ | Τανταλίδῃ Πέλοπι φθιμένῳ, ‘after them [= the first two founders of the Olympics] the third was Hēraklēs son of Amphitryon: he established the festival and the competition [agōn] in honor of [epi] his maternal relative, the dead Pelops, son of Tantalos’.
8a§10. Here we see the same syntactical construction that we saw in the compressed retelling of the aetiological myth that motivated the foundation of the athletic competition ‘in honor of’ the infant hero Dēmophōn. I repeat here the wording as we found it in Hesychius: Βαλλητύς· ἑορτὴ Ἀθήνησιν, ἐπὶ Δημοφῶντι τῷ Κελεοῦ ἀγομένη, ‘Ballētus is a festival in Athens, celebrated in honor of [epi] Dēmophōn son of Keleos’. Once again, I have translated the preposition epi (ἐπί) here in combination with the name of Dēmophōn in the dative case as ‘in honor of Dēmophōn’. But this translation, as I have already noted, is inadequate, and it would be more accurate to word it this way: ‘in compensation for [the death of] Dēmophōn’. After all, as we saw earlier in Text C taken from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (259-267), the athletic competition of the Ballētus is overtly described as an act of compensation, recurring at the right season into all eternity, and this competition is understood to be an eternal compensation for one single all-important fact: that the hero Dēmophōn must die.
8a§11. The necessity of this death, of this primal ordeal of the hero in myth, is what motivates in aetiological terms the corresponding necessity of the seasonally recurring ordeals of participants in the ritual athletic competition of the {266|267} Ballētus. And we have just seen a corresponding expression in the words of the Delphic Oracle as quoted by Phlegon (lines 10-11): ῾Ηρακλέης ἐτέλεσσ’ ἔροτιν καὶ ἀγῶνα ἐπὶ μήτρῳ | Τανταλίδῃ Πέλοπι φθιμένῳ, ‘Hēraklēs established the festival and the competition [agōn] in honor of [epi] his maternal relative, the dead Pelops, son of Tantalos’. Again, it would be more accurate to reword the translation: ‘in compensation for the death of his maternal relative, Pelops, son of Tantalos’. A parallel translation is needed for the wording attributed to the Delphic Oracle’s description of the competitions in honor of Oinomaos as instituted by Pelops. I repeat here the wording as quoted by Phlegon (lines 8-9): θῆκε δ’ ἔπειτα ἔροτιν καὶ ἔπαθλα θανόντι | Οἰνομάῳ, ‘then he [Pelops] established a festival and contests for prizes [ep-āthla] in honor of the dead Oinomaos’. I now retranslate this way: ‘then he [Pelops] established a festival and contests for prizes [-āthla] in compensation for the death of [ep-] Oinomaos’. In this case, as I noted earlier, the myth makes it clear that the compensation was needed because Pelops himself had caused, wittingly or unwittingly, the death of Oinomaos in the course of their chariot race with each other (Apollodorus Epitome 2.7).
8a§12. This kind of aetiology is typical of athletic contests. Another example is the Tlēpolemeia, a seasonally recurring festival of athletic contests held on the island of Rhodes and named after Tlepolemos, son of Hēraklēs and founder of Rhodes. [62] In the words of Pindar, this athletic festival was founded by the hero Tlepolemos as a lutron, ‘compensation’, for a ‘pitiful misfortune’ (λύτρον συμφορᾶς οἰκτρᾶς Olympian 7.77). The ‘misfortune’ or catastrophe to which Pindar’s wording refers is the hero’s deranged slaying of a maternal relative (7.27-32). [63]
8a§13. It can be said in general that athletic festivals were aetiologically motivated by myths that told of the pollution resulting from a hero’s disastrous death. [64] In the case of the three other most prestigious athletic festivals besides the Olympic Games in the Peloponnesus, which was the region recognized by all Hellenes as the cradle of their ancient Hellenic civilization, the relevant foundation myths are as follows: [65] {267|268}
- Pythian Games, founded by the Amphiktyones in compensation for the killing of the Python by Apollo: ἐπὶ τῷ Πύθωνος φόνῳ, ‘in compensation for the killing of the Python [by Apollo]’ (Aristotle F 637.16).
- Isthmian Games, founded by the hero Sisyphus in compensation for the death of the infant hero Melikertes, who was also known as Palaimon: τὸν ἀγῶνα ἐπ’ αὐτῷ, ‘the competition [agōn] in compensation for [epi] him’ (Pausanias 2.1.3).
- Nemean Games, founded by the heroes known as the Seven against Thebes in compensation for the death, by snakebite, of the infant hero Arkhemoros, who was also known as Opheltes: ἄθλησαν ἐπ’ ᾿Αρχεμόρῳ, ‘they [= the Seven] endured ordeals [āthloi] in compensation for Arkhemoros’ (Bacchylides 9.12). In poetic terms, the antidote for the prototypical snakebite is the singing of ep-aoidai, ‘incantations’ (Pindar Nemean 8.49), and such songs (aoidai means ‘songs’) counteract the deadly venom by celebrating athletic victories that are won at the Nemean Games in compensation for the prototypical death (Nemean 49-53).
8a§14. As we have seen, then, the idea of athletics as a ritual activity that compensates for the pollution caused by the death of a hero in myth can be expressed by combining the prefix / preposition / preverb epi- (ἐπι-) with the dative case referring to that hero. And we have seen this usage in the context of athletic competitions that are aetiologically motivated by the pollution caused by the death of a hero in myth, as in the case of the Eleusinian Games as well as the Olympic, Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean Games.

Hour 8b. The meaning of āthlos / aethlos

8b§1. In the aetiologies we have been examining so far, the Greek word referring to the ritual ordeal of the athlete in the post-heroic age who re-enacts the mythical ordeal of the hero in the heroic age is āthlos, or aethlos in epic diction. As we saw already in Hour 1, Text C, Homeric poetry refers to the Labors of Hēraklēs himself as aethloi (Iliad XIX 133). Someone who participates in such an ordeal is an āthlētēs. As we also saw already in Hour 1, this word is borrowed into English as athlete.
8b§2. The rituals of athletic ordeals, as I just noted in Hour 8a, were understood to be a compensation for the myths of heroic ordeals. I recall here the observation of Simone Weil, as we considered it in Hour 6, about the way humans feel about suffering. She observed that suffering needs compensation: I {268|269} want you to suffer exactly the way I suffered. The hero, whose sufferings were imagined to be immeasurably larger-than-life, would thus have a boundless need for compensation. But how can you suffer exactly the way a hero suffered?
8b§3. To endure such suffering, as an athlete, is to re-enact a prototypical ordeal of a hero. A more accurate way of understanding athletic contests in their archaic Greek historical contexts is to keep in mind the meanings of the ancient Greek words āthlos (epic aethlos), ‘ordeal, contest’, āthlon (epic aethlon), ‘prize won in the course of participating in an āthlos', and āthlētēs, ‘athlete, one who participates in an āthlos’. To restate the concept of athletics in ancient Greek terms: an āthlos was the ritual ‘ordeal’ or ‘contest’ of an athlete engaging in athletic contests that were taking place in the historical present, but it was also the mythological ‘ordeal’ or ‘contest’ of a hero engaging in life-and-death contests that took place once upon a time in the heroic past; moreover, the ritual ‘ordeals’ or ‘contests’ of the historical present were viewed as re-enactments of the mythical ‘ordeals’ or ‘contests’ of the heroic past. [66] As we have seen, the myths about the life-and-death ‘ordeals’ of heroes functioned as aetiologies for the rituals of athletic competition. Here I repeat my working definition of aetiology as a myth that motivates an institutional reality, especially a ritual.
8b§4. Besides āthlos and its derivatives, another ancient Greek word that proves to be essential for understanding the nature of athletic contests in archaic contexts is agōn, derived from the root ag- of the verb agō as it is used in the compound formation sun-agein, which means ‘bring together, assemble, gather’. Basically, an agōn is a ‘bringing together’ of people; and the occasion of such a ‘bringing together’ is a ‘competition’. This meaning, ‘competition’, is still evident in the English borrowing of a compound formation involving the word agōn, that is, antagonism. We can see a comparable idea embedded in the meaning of the Latin word that gives us the English borrowing competition: basically, the meaning of Latin com-petere is ‘to come together’, and to come together is to compete. [67] In the case of the Greek word agōn, the activity of competition to which it refers was understood to be a ritual ordeal, just as the Greek word āthlos meant ‘ordeal’ as well as ‘contest’, that is, competition. The concept of 'ordeal' as embedded in the Greek word agōn is still evident in the English borrowing agony. {269|270}
8b§5. These words āthlos and agōn refer to the experience of a ritual ordeal not only in athletics but also in warfare. For example, the expression arēios agōn, ‘the agōn of Arēs’, as used by Herodotus (9.33.3), refers to the ritual experience of combat in war. Similarly in the case of āthlos (epic aethlos), this word refers to the experience of warriors (Herodotus 1.67.1) as well as athletes (Herodotus 5.22.2). In epic, we find aethlos applying to the martial efforts, all considered together, of Achaeans and Trojans alike in the Trojan War (Iliad III 126), or, considered separately, to the efforts of the Achaeans in general (Odyssey iii 262) or of Odysseus in particular (iv 170).
8b§6. When it comes to re-enacting the primal ordeals of heroes, there is a seemingly limitless variety of individual experiences to be matched with the individual experiences of heroes. Every individual has his or her own way of going through an ordeal, as we see in the staggering varieties of violent death in the Iliad.
8b§7. Still, as we have just seen by observing the uses of the words āthlos and agōn, the ritual ordeals of humans fighting in war and the mythical ordeals of heroes fighting in war were not distinguished from each other. In our own terms of thinking, by contrast, when someone undergoes the real experience of war in the historical context of his own life and times, this experience is seen as distinct from the mythical experiences of heroes who fought in wars in mythical times. But the thinking is different in terms of ritual and myth, reflecting the mentality of the ancient Greeks in their own historical context: from their standpoint, a human who fights in war is undergoing a ritual ordeal that re-enacts the mythical ordeals of heroes. This way, the distinction between that human’s ritual ordeal and the heroes’ mythical ordeals is neutralized. And such a mentality of not distinguishing between human experience and heroic experience in the context of ritual and myth applies not only to the ordeals of war but also to the ordeals of athletics.
8b§8. It can be said in general that different aspects of athletics re-enact different aspects of warfare as experienced by heroes. Besides such obvious examples as the throwing of spears or javelins, however, there are other examples where it is not at all obvious how a given kind of athletic event is related to a given kind of event in warfare, even if these two kinds of events are defined by the same instrument of war. One such example is the athletic event of chariot racing. The question here is this: how exactly is chariot racing as an athletic event related to chariot fighting as an event in warfare? In Hours 7a 7b 7c 7d, I have tried to answer this question by examining two different kinds of chariot {270|271} racing as attested at two different festivals: the apobatic races at the Panathenaia and the non-apobatic races at the Olympics. In the case of non-apobatic chariot racing, the relatedness of such racing with chariot fighting is not obvious. But it is in fact quite obvious, as we have seen, in the case of apobatic chariot racing.
8b§9. I conclude by summarizing what we have observed about the uses of words like āthlos and agōn: just as the ritual ordeal of a human who fights in a real war and the mythical ordeals of heroes fighting in mythical wars are not distinguished from each other in the thinking we see reflected in the ancient Greek texts, so also the ritual ordeal of a human who competes in a real athletic contest is not distinguished from the corresponding mythical ordeals of heroes.

Hour 8c. Back to the Panathenaia

8c§1. I return to the Panathenaic Games held at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens. In this case, I have argued that the athletic event of the apobatai as celebrated at this seasonally recurring festival is understood as a ritual that is aetiologically motivated to compensate for a primal event of pollution in myth. That pollution, as I have also argued, is the death of the hero Patroklos, which leads to the revenge taken by Achilles in the form of dragging the corpse of Hector behind his speeding chariot.
8c§2. The athletic event of the apobatai at the Panathenaia shows the ritual dimension of the cult hero as a complement to the mythical dimension that we see played out in narratives conveyed by painting as well as by poetry. As we saw earlier, the main painting on the Münster Hydria shows Achilles himself competing in this athletic event, thus becoming a prototypical participant in the hero cult that he shares with his other self, Patroklos. Through his prototypical competition, Achilles shows the way for future athletes to compete in this athletic event of the apobatai at the seasonally recurring festival of the Panathenaia for all time to come. [68]
8c§3. The vase paintings that we saw in Hour 7 consistently show both Achilles and Patroklos in apobatic poses, which fits their aetiological status as cult heroes presiding over the athletic event of the apobatai as held at the festival of the Panathenaia. By contrast with the vase paintings, however, as I showed in Hour 7e, the Homeric Iliad as we know it tends to shade over any details that are typical of apobatic chariot racing and to highlight only those details that are typical of non-apobatic chariot racing as we see it attested primarily at the festi- {271|272} val of the Olympics. As I showed in Hour 7f, this tendency as we find it in the Homeric Iliad indicates a less Athenian and more “Panionian” version of epic poetry concerning Achilles, Patroklos, and the Trojan War.
8c§4. Even though the text of the Homeric Iliad as we have it has shaded over the specific idea of Achilles and Patroklos as cult heroes connected with the aetiology of apobatic chariot racing at the Panathenia in Athens, it still highlights the general idea of Achilles and Patroklos as cult heroes. Even after these two Homeric figures got disconnected from any aetiology concerning any specific event of athletic ritual, they still remained connected, as cult heroes, with non-apobatic chariot racing as a general event of athletic ritual. In Hour 7, I examined the relevant passages in Iliad XXIII where the focus for such chariot racing is a turning point that turns out to be the tomb of Patroklos. Then, in this hour, I examined other relevant passages in the Iliad showing that this tomb of Patroklos turns out to be the same sēma as the tomb of Achilles himself.

Hour 8d. Patroklos as a model for Achilles

8d§1. In the painting of the Münster Hydria, as I argued in Hour 7, Patroklos shows the way for Achilles to undertake the ritualized actions of the apobatēs. The homunculus is running the run of the apobatēs. He is the model. His message is this: do as I do. So, the apobatic run of Achilles at ground zero mirrors the apobatic run of Patroklos in thin air. By way of this mirroring, Achilles himself can in his own turn become a model. And the ritualized actions of Achilles as apobatēs will show the way for the future observance of rituals of hero cult not only for Patroklos but even for Achilles himself. [69] That is why, as we saw in Hour 7, the self of Patroklos as a psūkhē will become the self of Achilles, whose corpse will be placed inside the same tomb that is already occupied by the corpse of his other self, Patroklos.
8d§2. The painting on the Münster Hydria signals such a meaning not only by picturing the psūkhē of Patroklos as it levitates over the tomb that he will be sharing with Achilles but also by even labeling the picture, that is, by painting the consecutive letters ΦΣΥΧΕ to spell psūkhē or ‘spirit’, where the act of painting these letters that spell out psūkhē becomes a sēma or ‘sign’ in its own right. [70] In the timelessness of the narrative created in this picture, Patroklos and Achil- {272|273} les share not only the same sēma or ‘tomb’ but even the same psūkhē, as indicated by the sēma or ‘sign’ for the word psūkhē.

Hour 8e. The mentality of re-enactment at festivals

8e§1. We have seen that the paintings on both the Münster Hydria and the Boston Hydria depict an athletic event that was part of the ritual program of the greatest festival of the Athenians, the Panathenaia. Both depictions show that the ritual of an athlete’s ordeal re-enacts the myth of a hero’s ordeal. Here I will explore further the mentality of such re-enactment.
8e§2. I start with a review of my working definitions of ritual and myth:
Ritual is doing things and saying things in a way that is considered sacred. Myth is saying things in a way that is also considered sacred. So, ritual frames myth.
And now I add this to the working definition:
The epic of Homeric poetry is a kind of myth. Like all myths, epic is framed by ritual - the ritual of performance. And performance is re-enactment. You can re-enact not just by acting out a ritual but even by telling or retelling a myth that is framed by ritual.
And what I just said about the verbal art of epic applies also to the visual art of painting, as we saw in action when we viewed the pictures painted on the Münster Hydria and the Boston Hydria. These pictures show ritual and myth together, just as poetry shows ritual and myth together in the chariot race described at Iliad XXIII.
8e§3. A Greek word for the re-enactment of myth in ritual is mīmēsis. And the ritual process of mīmēsis as the re-enacting of an ordeal leads to a ritual process of purification or katharsis of emotions. Here I turn to a celebrated formulation of Aristotle, who links mīmēsis and katharsis, conventionally latinized as catharsis, in his definition of tragedy. Here is how he says it:

Hour 8 Text N

Tragedy, then, is the re-enactment [mīmēsis] of a serious and complete action. It has magnitude, with language embellished individually for {273|274} each of its forms and in each of its parts. It is done by performers [drôntes] and not by way of narrative, bringing about through pity [eleos] and fear [phobos] the purification [katharsis] of such emotions [pathēmata].
Aristotle Poetics 1449b24-28 [71]
8e§4. I sum up, then, what we have learned so far about mīmēsis: it is the process of re-enactment in a sacred context. What you re-enact is myth, and how you re-enact it is ritual, which brings about a purification of emotions, especially the emotions of pity and fear.
8e§5. This formulation is relevant to the following two points I have already made:
- Aristotle thought that the Iliad was a prototype of tragedy (Hour 2§54).
- In tragedy, the emotion of pity is a force of attraction while the emotion of fear is a force of repulsion (Hour 2§55).
8e§6. And the same formulation is also relevant to the following two points:
- The witnessing of brutality activates the emotions of fear and pity.
- The hero’s occasional moments of brutality must have been as shocking to the ancients as they are to us. {274|275}

Footnotes

[ back ] 1. This formulation is based on my work in GM 85-121, where I offer an extensive analysis of the Homeric contexts of the word psūkhē.
[ back ] 2. In HPC 142-211 = II §§32-213, I analyze in detail the historical background of the conflicting claims made by rival cities, especially Athens and Mytilene, concerning Sigeion as the tomb of Achilles.
[ back ] 3. On the meaning of nēpios as ‘disconnected’, see the Core Vocabulary.
[ back ] 4. |58 οἳ μὲν κακκείοντες ἔβαν κλισίην δὲ ἕκαστος, |59 Πηλεΐδης δ’ ἐπὶ θινὶ πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης |60 κεῖτο βαρὺ στενάχων πολέσιν μετὰ Μυρμιδόνεσσιν |61 ἐν καθαρῷ, ὅθι κύματ’ ἐπ’ ἠϊόνος κλύζεσκον· |62 εὖτε τὸν ὕπνος ἔμαρπτε λύων μελεδήματα θυμοῦ |63 νήδυμος ἀμφιχυθείς· μάλα γὰρ κάμε φαίδιμα γυῖα |64 Ἕκτορ’ ἐπαΐσσων προτὶ Ἴλιον ἠνεμόεσσαν· |65 ἦλθε δ’ ἐπὶ ψυχὴ Πατροκλῆος δειλοῖο |66 πάντ’ αὐτῷ μέγεθός τε καὶ ὄμματα κάλ’ ἐϊκυῖα |67 καὶ φωνήν, καὶ τοῖα περὶ χροῒ εἵματα ἕστο· |68 στῆ δ’ ἄρ’ ὑπὲρ κεφαλῆς καί μιν πρὸς μῦθον ἔειπεν· |69 εὕδεις, αὐτὰρ ἐμεῖο λελασμένος ἔπλευ Ἀχιλλεῦ. |70 οὐ μέν μευ ζώοντος ἀκήδεις, ἀλλὰ θανόντος· |71 θάπτέ με ὅττι τάχιστα πύλας Ἀΐδαο περήσω. |72 τῆλέ με εἴργουσι ψυχαὶ εἴδωλα καμόντων, |73 οὐδέ μέ πω μίσγεσθαι ὑπὲρ ποταμοῖο ἐῶσιν, |74 ἀλλ’ αὔτως ἀλάλημαι ἀν’ εὐρυπυλὲς Ἄϊδος δῶ. |75 καί μοι δὸς τὴν χεῖρ’· ὀλοφύρομαι, οὐ γὰρ ἔτ’ αὖτις |76 νίσομαι ἐξ Ἀΐδαο, ἐπήν με πυρὸς λελάχητε. |77 οὐ μὲν γὰρ ζωοί γε φίλων ἀπάνευθεν ἑταίρων |78 βουλὰς ἑζόμενοι βουλεύσομεν, ἀλλ’ ἐμὲ μὲν κὴρ |79 ἀμφέχανε στυγερή, ἥ περ λάχε γιγνόμενόν περ· |80 καὶ δὲ σοὶ αὐτῷ μοῖρα, θεοῖς ἐπιείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ, |81 τείχει ὕπο Τρώων εὐηφενέων ἀπολέσθαι. |82 ἄλλο δέ τοι ἐρέω καὶ ἐφήσομαι αἴ κε πίθηαι· |83 μὴ ἐμὰ σῶν ἀπάνευθε τιθήμεναι ὀστέ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ, |84 ἀλλ’ ὁμοῦ ὡς ἐτράφημεν ἐν ὑμετέροισι δόμοισιν, |85 εὖτέ με τυτθὸν ἐόντα Μενοίτιος ἐξ Ὀπόεντος |86 ἤγαγεν ὑμέτερον δ’ ἀνδροκτασίης ὕπο λυγρῆς, |87 ἤματι τῷ ὅτε παῖδα κατέκτανον Ἀμφιδάμαντος |88 νήπιος οὐκ ἐθέλων ἀμφ’ ἀστραγάλοισι χολωθείς· |89 ἔνθά με δεξάμενος ἐν δώμασιν ἱππότα Πηλεὺς [ back ] |90 ἔτραφέ τ’ ἐνδυκέως καὶ σὸν θεράποντ’ ὀνόμηνεν· |91 ὣς δὲ καὶ ὀστέα νῶϊν ὁμὴ σορὸς ἀμφικαλύπτοι |92 — χρύσεος ἀμφιφορεύς, τόν τοι πόρε πότνια μήτηρ.
[ back ] 5. Commentary in BA 145 = 8§8n2 and PH 293 = 10§22.
[ back ] 6. Ἕκτωρ μὲν μετὰ τοῖσιν, ὅσοι βουληφόροι εἰσί, | βουλὰς βουλεύει θείου παρὰ σήματι Ἴλου.
[ back ] 7. Stähler 1967:32.
[ back ] 8. GM 94n50 and 220n54, building on the argumentation of Stähler as cited in the previous note.
[ back ] 9. BA 279 = 16§22.
[ back ] 10. PH 117-135 = 4§§2-26.
[ back ] 11. PH 199 = 4§6n15.
[ back ] 12. HPC 174 = II§98.
[ back ] 13. PH chapters 4 and 5.
[ back ] 14. PH 121 = 4§7n26. See also Nilsson 1906:414n4 and Pache 2004:76-77.
[ back ] 15. Βαλλητύς· ἑορτὴ Ἀθήνησιν, ἐπὶ Δημοφῶντι τῷ Κελεοῦ ἀγομένη.
[ back ] 16. |259 ἴστω γὰρ θεῶν ὅρκος ἀμείλικτον Στυγὸς ὕδωρ |260 ἀθάνατόν κέν τοι καὶ ἀγήραον ἤματα πάντα |261 παῖδα φίλον ποίησα καὶ ἄφθιτον ὤπασα τιμήν· |262 νῦν δ’ οὐκ ἔσθ’ ὥς κεν θάνατον καὶ κῆρας ἀλύξαι. |263 τιμὴ δ’ ἄφθιτος αἰὲν ἐπέσσεται οὕνεκα γούνων |264 ἡμετέρων ἐπέβη καὶ ἐν ἀγκοίνῃσιν ἴαυσεν. |265 ὥρῃσιν δ’ ἄρα τῷ γε περιπλομένων ἐνιαυτῶν |266 παῖδες Ἐλευσινίων πόλεμον καὶ φύλοπιν αἰνὴν |267 αἰὲν ἐν ἀλλήλοισι συνάξουσ’ ἤματα πάντα.
[ back ] 17. PP 72–73; see also HC 366 = 3§33.
[ back ] 18. HPC 22 = I§38, with reference to PR 42-47. For a comparative perspective on the concept of competition-in-collaboration, see PP 18.
[ back ] 19. Martin 2000:422.
[ back ] 20. PR 36-69.
[ back ] 21. HPC 22 = I§38, following Frame 2009:551-620.
[ back ] 22. PR 42-47; HC 325, 327, 335 = 2§§297, 304, 325; also 354-355, 366-367 = 3§§4, 6, 33.
[ back ] 23. At this point there may be a lacuna in the textual transmission.
[ back ] 24. 233 ὣς ἡ μὲν Κελεοῖο δαΐφρονος ἀγλαὸν υἱὸν |234 Δημοφόωνθ’, ὃν ἔτικτεν ἐΰζωνος Μετάνειρα, |235 ἔτρεφεν ἐν μεγάροις· ὁ δ’ ἀέξετο δαίμονι ἶσος |236 οὔτ’ οὖν σῖτον ἔδων, οὐ θησάμενος. Δημήτηρ |237 χρίεσκ’ ἀμβροσίῃ ὡς εἰ θεοῦ ἐκγεγαῶτα, |238 ἡδὺ καταπνείουσα καὶ ἐν κόλποισιν ἔχουσα· |239 νύκτας δὲ κρύπτεσκε πυρὸς μένει ἠΰτε δαλὸν |240 λάθρα φίλων γονέων· τοῖς δὲ μέγα θαῦμ’ ἐτέτυκτο |241 ὡς προθαλὴς τελέθεσκε, θεοῖσι δὲ ἄντα ἐῴκει.
[ back ] 25. Sinos 1980:28-36.
[ back ] 26. Full argumentation in BA 181-192 = 10§§10-22.
[ back ] 27. Nagy 2012b:50-51, following BA 209 = 10§50; see also Dué 2001.
[ back ] 28. EH §§98-99, 107, 113.
[ back ] 29. EH §57.
[ back ] 30. Commentary in BA 209-210 = 10§50n2.
[ back ] 31. For a general overview of the role of Patroklos as the narrative surrogate as well as the ritual substitute of Achilles in the Iliad, see Nagy 2007b (“Homer and Greek Myth”) 64-69.
[ back ] 32. On the death of Patrokos as a prefiguration of the death of Achilles, I find the book of Lowenstam 1981 to be of lasting value.
[ back ] 33. GM 88-93, 115-116.
[ back ] 34. GM 126n30, 142.
[ back ] 35. This formulation is derived from EH §98. For an extended discussion, see BA ch. 10 (“Poetic Visions of Immortality for the Hero”). See also Bershadsky 2012:17.
[ back ] 36. GM 87-88, with references.
[ back ] 37. GM 90, with references.
[ back ] 38. GM 89-92.
[ back ] 39. Nagy 2012b.
[ back ] 40. See also GM 220.
[ back ] 41. Detailed analysis in HPC 149-170 = II§§50-89.
[ back ] 42. HPC 175 = II§103.
[ back ] 43. HPC 175-176 = II§106.
[ back ] 44. Whitman 1958:169, PH 193 = 6§85, Frame 2009:170-172, 205-216.
[ back ] 45. HPC 175-176 = II§105.
[ back ] 46. HPC 176 = II§106. See also GM 88, 94, 217, 220 and PH pp. 207-214 = 7§§10-19.
[ back ] 47. PH 207-214 = 7§§10-18.
[ back ] 48. |486 μνῆσαι πατρὸς σοῖο θεοῖς ἐπιείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ, |487 τηλίκου ὥς περ ἐγών, ὀλοῷ ἐπὶ γήραος οὐδῷ· |488 καὶ μέν που κεῖνον περιναιέται ἀμφὶς ἐόντες |489 τείρουσ’, οὐδέ τίς ἐστιν ἀρὴν καὶ λοιγὸν ἀμῦναι. |490 ἀλλ’ ἤτοι κεῖνός γε σέθεν ζώοντος ἀκούων |491 χαίρει τ’ ἐν θυμῷ, ἐπί τ’ ἔλπεται ἤματα πάντα |492 ὄψεσθαι φίλον υἱὸν ἀπὸ Τροίηθεν ἰόντα· |493 αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ πανάποτμος, ἐπεὶ τέκον υἷας ἀρίστους |494 Τροίῃ ἐν εὐρείῃ, τῶν δ’ οὔ τινά φημι λελεῖφθαι. |495 πεντήκοντά μοι ἦσαν ὅτ’ ἤλυθον υἷες Ἀχαιῶν· |496 ἐννεακαίδεκα μέν μοι ἰῆς ἐκ νηδύος ἦσαν, |497 τοὺς δ’ ἄλλους μοι ἔτικτον ἐνὶ μεγάροισι γυναῖκες. |498 τῶν μὲν πολλῶν θοῦρος Ἄρης ὑπὸ γούνατ’ ἔλυσεν· |499 ὃς δέ μοι οἶος ἔην, εἴρυτο δὲ ἄστυ καὶ αὐτούς, |500 τὸν σὺ πρῴην κτεῖνας ἀμυνόμενον περὶ πάτρης |501 Ἕκτορα· τοῦ νῦν εἵνεχ’ ἱκάνω νῆας Ἀχαιῶν |502 λυσόμενος παρὰ σεῖο, φέρω δ’ ἀπερείσι’ ἄποινα. |503 ἀλλ’ αἰδεῖο θεοὺς Ἀχιλεῦ, αὐτόν τ’ ἐλέησον |504 μνησάμενος σοῦ πατρός· ἐγὼ δ’ ἐλεεινότερός περ, |505 ἔτλην δ’ οἷ’ οὔ πώ τις ἐπιχθόνιος βροτὸς ἄλλος, |506 ἀνδρὸς παιδοφόνοιο ποτὶ στόμα χεῖρ’ ὀρέγεσθαι. |507 Ὣς φάτο, τῷ δ’ ἄρα πατρὸς ὑφ’ ἵμερον ὦρσε γόοιο· |508 ἁψάμενος δ’ ἄρα χειρὸς ἀπώσατο ἦκα γέροντα. |509 τὼ δὲ μνησαμένω ὃ μὲν Ἕκτορος ἀνδροφόνοιο |510 κλαῖ’ ἁδινὰ προπάροιθε ποδῶν Ἀχιλῆος ἐλυσθείς, |511 αὐτὰρ Ἀχιλλεὺς κλαῖεν ἑὸν πατέρ’, ἄλλοτε δ’ αὖτε |512 Πάτροκλον· τῶν δὲ στοναχὴ κατὰ δώματ’ ὀρώρει.
[ back ] 49. |524 οὕτω καὶ τῶν πρόσθεν ἐπευθόμεθα κλέα ἀνδρῶν |525 ἡρώων, ὅτε κέν τιν’ ἐπιζάφελος χόλος ἵκοι. |526 δωρητοί τε πέλοντο παράρρητοί τ’ ἐπέεσσι. |527 μέμνημαι τόδε ἔργον ἐγὼ πάλαι οὔ τι νέον γε |528 ὡς ἦν· ἐν δ’ ὑμῖν ἐρέω πάντεσσι φίλοισι.
[ back ] 50. |340 ἦ μοῦνοι φιλέουσ’ ἀλόχους μερόπων ἀνθρώπων |341 Ἀτρεΐδαι; ἐπεὶ ὅς τις ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς καὶ ἐχέφρων |342 τὴν αὐτοῦ φιλέει καὶ κήδεται, ὡς καὶ ἐγὼ τὴν |343 ἐκ θυμοῦ φίλεον δουρικτητήν περ ἐοῦσαν.
[ back ] 51. |622 … τοῖσι δ’ ἄρ’ Αἴας |623 ἀντίθεος Τελαμωνιάδης μετὰ μῦθον ἔειπε· |624 διογενὲς Λαερτιάδη πολυμήχαν’ Ὀδυσσεῦ |625 ἴομεν· οὐ γάρ μοι δοκέει μύθοιο τελευτὴ |626 τῇδέ γ’ ὁδῷ κρανέεσθαι· ἀπαγγεῖλαι δὲ τάχιστα |627 χρὴ μῦθον Δαναοῖσι καὶ οὐκ ἀγαθόν περ ἐόντα |628 οἵ που νῦν ἕαται ποτιδέγμενοι. αὐτὰρ Ἀχιλλεὺς |629 ἄγριον ἐν στήθεσσι θέτο μεγαλήτορα θυμὸν |630 σχέτλιος, οὐδὲ μετατρέπεται φιλότητος ἑταίρων |631 τῆς ᾗ μιν παρὰ νηυσὶν ἐτίομεν ἔξοχον ἄλλων |632 νηλής· καὶ μέν τίς τε κασιγνήτοιο φονῆος |633 ποινὴν ἢ οὗ παιδὸς ἐδέξατο τεθνηῶτος· |634 καί ῥ’ ὃ μὲν ἐν δήμῳ μένει αὐτοῦ πόλλ’ ἀποτίσας, |635 τοῦ δέ τ’ ἐρητύεται κραδίη καὶ θυμὸς ἀγήνωρ |636 ποινὴν δεξαμένῳ· σοὶ δ’ ἄλληκτόν τε κακόν τε |637 θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι θεοὶ θέσαν εἵνεκα κούρης |638 οἴης·
[ back ] 52. |497 λαοὶ δ’ εἰν ἀγορῇ ἔσαν ἀθρόοι· ἔνθα δὲ νεῖκος |498 ὠρώρει, δύο δ’ ἄνδρες ἐνείκεον εἵνεκα ποινῆς |499 ἀνδρὸς ἀποφθιμένου· ὃ μὲν εὔχετο πάντ’ ἀποδοῦναι |500 δήμῳ πιφαύσκων, ὃ δ’ ἀναίνετο μηδὲν ἑλέσθαι.
[ back ] 53. |401 οὐ γὰρ ἐμοὶ ψυχῆς ἀντάξιον οὐδ’ ὅσα φασὶν |402 Ἴλιον ἐκτῆσθαι εὖ ναιόμενον πτολίεθρον |403 τὸ πρὶν ἐπ’ εἰρήνης, πρὶν ἐλθεῖν υἷας Ἀχαιῶν, |404 οὐδ’ ὅσα λάϊνος οὐδὸς ἀφήτορος ἐντὸς ἐέργει |405 Φοίβου Ἀπόλλωνος Πυθοῖ ἔνι πετρηέσσῃ. |406 ληϊστοὶ μὲν γάρ τε βόες καὶ ἴφια μῆλα, |407 κτητοὶ δὲ τρίποδές τε καὶ ἵππων ξανθὰ κάρηνα, |408 ἀνδρὸς δὲ ψυχὴ πάλιν ἐλθεῖν οὔτε λεϊστὴ |409 οὔθ’ ἑλετή, ἐπεὶ ἄρ κεν ἀμείψεται ἕρκος ὀδόντων.
[ back ] 54. Pache 2004:95-180.
[ back ] 55. PH 118 = 4§4.
[ back ] 56. Burkert 1985:105-107.
[ back ] 57. PH 118-119, 121-122 = 4§§5, 8, with examples and references.
[ back ] 58. PH 126 = 4§13, following Burkert 1983:86-87.
[ back ] 59. Burkert 1983:100; PH 125 = 4§12. In terms of myth and ritual, the single-lap and the double-lap footraces known respectively as the stadion and the diaulos at the Olympics were viewed together as an organic unity (Philostratus On athletics 5 and 6 respectively).
[ back ] 60. PH 121-135 = 4§§8-26; Pache 2004:84-94.
[ back ] 61. PH 199-200 = 7§1.
[ back ] 62. Nilsson 1906:462-463.
[ back ] 63. Commentary on Pindar Olympian 7.27-32, 77 in PH 140 = 5§§6-7.
[ back ] 64. Roller 1981a:107n4; an extensive set of examples is collected by Pfister 1912:496-497; see also Brelich 1958:94-95.
[ back ] 65. PH 120 = 4§6; Roller 1981a:107n5.
[ back ] 66. PH 137 = 5§3.
[ back ] 67. PH 136-137 = 5§2.
[ back ] 68. HPC 175-176 = II§105.
[ back ] 69. GM 94n50 and 220n54.
[ back ] 70. GM 220.
[ back ] 71. ἔστιν οὖν τραγῳδία μίμησις πράξεως σπουδαίας καὶ τελείας μέγεθος ἐχούσης, ἡδυσμένῳ λόγῳ χωρὶς ἑκάστῳ τῶν εἰδῶν ἐν τοῖς μορίοις, δρώντων καὶ οὐ δι’ ἀπαγγελίας, δι’ ἐλέου καὶ φόβου περαίνουσα τὴν τῶν τοιούτων παθημάτων κάθαρσιν.