In the Iliad, the relationship of Mērionēs and Idomeneus plays a peripheral role as compared to the central relationship of Akhilleus and Patroklos. As we shall see, the behavior of Mērionēs and Idomeneus towards one another is a variation on the theme of the heroic relationship of Akhilleus and Patroklos. The Iliad also describes the relations of gods and men. The antagonism of Akhilleus and Apollo is set against the backdrop of gods who aid heroes by granting kudos to them.
I aim to provide insight into the Homeric Epos by examining some of this backdrop, principally through a consideration of two words, opazō and opaōn. The phrase *kudos opazein, [1] commonly translated as 'to grant glory', expresses a notion of kudos different from that supplied by Benveniste. [2] Defining kudos as a magic talisman of supremacy, he writes, "the effect of the kudos is temporary." [3] I hope to show that, with opazō and certain other verbs, the effect of kudos is not temporary, but abiding. This hypothesis will be supported by an analysis of the etymology of opazō and the connection thereby of *kudos opazein with kudos opedei and kudos hepsetai. It is also necessary to explore the dynamics of the verbal aspects present in formulas containing opazō.
An important stage of the analysis examines the noun corresponding to opazō, opaōn. In Homer, opaōn is an epithet applied to Mērionēs in his connection to Idomeneus. Mērionēs is also called Idomeneus' therapōn, a word which is an epithet of Patroklos. Through etymological connections to Anatolian, it has been demonstrated that therapōn means ‘ritual substitute.’ [4] Thus Patroklos is the ritual substitute for Akhilleus; he dies instead of Akhilleus. [5] In order for one person to be a ritual substitute for another, he must become as close to that person as possible. He must, in a sense, become the hero. We will need to test the extent to which this is true of Mērionēs vis-à-vis Idomeneus, in order to discern the degree of affinity denoted by opaōn. The words are connected semantically because both describe Mērionēs’ relationship with Idomeneus. The sense of opaōn provided by this use is helpful in determining the effect of kudos with the verb opazō. We shall see how this verb, often or translated as ‘give’ or ‘grant’, means ‘cause to accompany.’ The opaōn accompanies the hero.
Insight into the Homeric Epos comes, on the one hand, from looking at the surface of the text, and, on the other, from considering how the text came to be as it is. Important to both approaches is the Parry-Lord theory of oral composition. [6] It is also necessary, for a semantic perspective through time, to make use of etymological evidence for the development of words. We try by these means to understand better particular aspects of the poetic tradition.
Let us turn first in this investigation to consider the type of relationship the word opaōn describes. [7]


[ back ] 1. The form *kudos opazein throughout represents the basic form of the formulas kudos + forms of opazō (opazei, opaze, etc.). The asterisk indicates that it is a hypothesized form which never actually occurs as such.
[ back ] 2. Émile Benveniste, Indo-European Language and Society, trans. Elizabeth Palmer (Coral Gables, Fla.: University of Miami Press, 1973), pp. 346-56.
[ back ] 3. Benveniste, p. 350.
[ back ] 4. Nadia Van Brock, "Substitution rituelle", Reveu Hittite et Asianique, 17, fasc. 65 (1959), p. 118.
[ back ] 5. Patroklos as a ritual substitute has been the subject of many recent studies, especially Steven Lowenstam, The Death of Patroklos: A Study in Typology, Beiträge zur Klassischen Philologie, Heft 133 (Königsten/Ts.: Verlag Anton Hain, 1981); Gregory Nagy, The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979) and Dale S. Sinos, Achilles, Patroklos and the Meaning of Philos, Innsbruck Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft (Innsbruck,1980).
[ back ] 6. Milman Parry, The Making of Homeric Verse: The Collected Papers of Milman Parry, ed. Adam Parry (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961) and Albert B. Lord, The Singer of Tales (New York: Atheneum, 1976).
[ back ] 7. The Homeric translations in my text are based on Richmond Lattimore, trans., The Iliad of Homer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961) and The Odyssey of Homer (New York: Harper & Row, 1967). They have been adjusted at times in order to present a more accurate rendering of the text. Other translations are my own.