A sampling of comments on the Iliad and Odyssey

By Gregory Nagy
Editors: Angelia Hanhardt and Keith Stone
Web producer: Noel Spencer
Consultant for images: Jill Curry Robbins
Jump to:
Iliad Rhapsody 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Odyssey Rhapsody 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
 

Iliad Rhapsody 1

2016.06.09

The comments I offered in Classical Inquiries on Iliad Rhapsody 1 through Rhapsody 24, starting here with Rhapsody 1, were based mostly on details that derive from seven books that I indicate in the Bibliography by way of these abbreviations: BA, GMP, H24H, HC, HPC, HQ, HR, MoM, PasP, PH. Each one of these books has its own index locorum. My colleague Anita Nikkanen, an Associate Editor for the online project A Homer commentary in progress, tracked the sequences of Homeric verses as listed in the indices for six of these books and then summarized my comments on those verses. Following up on her meticulous work, I am in the process of converting her summaries into a form of commentary that is being incorporated into AHCIP. My comments on the Iliad as I presented them in Classical Inquiries are merely samplings of the content that I hope to contribute to the overall commentary, to which a number of other colleagues are also contributing their own comments. That said, I now proceed to offer a sampling of comments on Rhapsody 1. At this point, my comments about this beginning of beginnings need no further introduction of their own.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig1
Figure 1. “The Rage of Achilles,” by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1757, [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

I.01.001–012

subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’; Muse; Master Narrator; narrative subject as grammatical object; aeidein ‘sing’; erizein ‘have strife’; eris ‘strife’; micro-Iliad; [First Song of Demodokos; neikos ‘quarrel’;] Cypria; epic; epic Cycle
On mēnis ‘anger’: see especially the comment on I.01.001–002
On eris ‘strife’: see the comment on I.01.008–012
On neikos ‘quarrel’: see the comment on I.02.221
The main theme of the narration is signaled right away. The signaling is accomplished by way of the first word of the very first verse of the Homeric Iliad. The word is mēnis ‘anger’, I.01.001, and it refers to the anger of Achilles. A definitive book on this word is Muellner 1996. The Master Narrator begins his narration by focusing on this anger: he calls on a Muse, whom he addresses simply as theā ‘goddess’, to sing this anger, I.01.001. (On the term Master Narrator, see the Inventory of terms and names.) The subject of this narration, the anger of Achilles, is the grammatical object of the verb aeidein ‘sing’. So, the narrative subject is the grammatical object. The Master Narrator is calling on the Muse to sing the anger, not just sing about the anger. The song is not only about the anger: it is the anger itself. The song captures the total reality of the anger. The Master Narrator proceeds to tell about this anger: it happened because of a quarrel, as signaled especially by the words erizein ‘have strife’ at I.01.006 and eris ‘strife’ at I.01.008. This quarrel in the Iliad is parallel to another quarrel that is narrated in a “micro-Iliad” that we find embedded in the Odyssey. This micro-Iliad is the First Song of Demodokos, O.08.072–083, and the quarrel there is signaled especially by the word neikos ‘quarrel’ at O.08.075. It has been debated whether the quarrel scene in this “micro-Iliad” was modeled on a quarrel-scene in the Cypria, which was part of the epic Cycle. On the epic Cycle, see the Inventory of terms and names. But the quarrel scenes of the Iliad, the Cypria, and the “micro-Iliad” can be seen as stemming from epic traditions that were originally independent of each other. On the term epic, used here for the first time in these comments on the Homeric Iliad, see again the Inventory of terms and names. [[GN 2016.06.05 via Nagy 2015.05.27 and 2015.04.10; BA 23; see also HPC 111–115.]]

I.01.001–002

Q&T I.01.001 via BA 73–74 and Q&T for part of I.01.002 via BA 73–74
subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’; [tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles;] algea ‘pains’ of the Achaeans
The mēnis of Achilles is a special kind of ‘anger’. The hero feels this anger after his tīmē ‘honor’ is damaged by the over-king Agamemnon. The Master Narrator says at verse 2 here that this special anger caused algea ‘pains’ for the Achaeans. The word mēnis does not yet refer to the anger of other persons in the narration. As the narration continues, however, it becomes clear that the god Apollo felt mēnis ‘anger’ at the Achaeans even before the hero Achilles felt his own mēnis. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 73–75.]]

I.01.001

subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’
The mēnis ‘anger’ of Achilles at I.01.001 towards Agamemnon the over-king is parallel to the mēnis of Aeneas at I.13.459–461 towards Priam the over-king. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 265; also GMP 28.]]

I.01.001

subject heading(s): aeidein ‘sing’; Muse as theā ‘goddess’; Aeolic; Aeolians; Ionic; Ionians; ennepein ‘narrate, tell’; Mousa ‘Muse’; singing as narrating
By saying ‘sing, goddess [theā]’, the Master Narrator is saying that the song that he will perform is something that he hears from the Muse. The addressing of the Muse as theā ‘goddess’ is an Aeolian signature, as it were, since the form theā is Aeolic, as opposed to the form (hē) theos, which is Ionic. See the anchor comment at I.01.463 on Aeolians as speakers of Aeolic, vs. Ionians as speakers of Ionic. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 271.]]

I.01.002

subject heading(s): oulomenē ‘disastrous’; epithet for narrative subject; lugros ‘disastrous’
The placement of this adjective oulomenē ‘disastrous’ as an epithet for mēnis ‘anger’ in the previous verse corresponds to the placement of the adjective lugros ‘disastrous’ at O.01.327 as an epithet for nostos ‘homecoming’ in the previous verse at O.01.326. See the comment on O.01.326–327. [[GN 2017.01.02.]]

I.01.002

subject heading(s): epithet for narrative subject; relative clause as introductory outline of the entire narrative
The epithet oulomenē ‘disastrous’ here at I.01.002, which describes the narrative subject of the entire performed narration of the Iliad as designated by the driving word mēnis ‘anger’ at I.01.001, is now immediately followed at I.01.002 by a relative clause that outlines the plot of this narration. Similarly, the epithet lugros ‘disastrous’ at O.01.327, which describes the poetic subject of a performed narration as designated by the driving word nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’ at O.01.326, is then immediately followed at O.01.327 by a relative clause that outlines the plot of that narration. See the comment on O.01.326–327. [[GN 2017.01.02.]]

I.01.002

subject heading(s): algea ‘pains’ of the Achaeans; akhos ‘grief’; name Akhil(l)eus as derived from akhos
The reference to algea ‘pains’ here is relevant to the etymology of the name Akhil(l)eus—if this name can successfully be explained as a shortened by-form of *Akhi- lāu̯os in the sense of ‘he who has the grief [akhos] of the people [lāu̯os]’. In comments to come, the word akhos ‘grief’, will be traced as a marker for a most pervasive theme in the Iliad: how the anger of Achilles caused grief for his people. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 77, 79; also 65.]]

I.01.003–005

subject heading(s): psūkhē ‘spirit’; Hādēs; autos ‘self’; [sōma ‘body’]; exposition of the dead body to dogs and birds; [cremation;] eschatology
In the Iliad, the word autos ‘self’ refers to the body as the basis of identity for heroes, while the word psūkhē ‘spirit’ refers to (A) the life-force of heroes when they are alive and (B) the disembodied conveyor of identity when they are dead. Here at the beginning of the Iliad, the dead body of the generic hero is identified with the ‘self’, autos. When a warrior dies in the Iliad, his psūkhē ‘spirit’ goes to the realm of Hādēs while his body, which is his ‘self’, is left behind and must be treated with proper ritual care. In the Iliad, the ritually correct treatment of a warrior’s dead body, which is called sōma, is cremation. See I.22.342–343 and the comment on I.22.335–354. The very idea of exposing a dead body to be devoured by dogs and birds is considered to be an abomination in the Iliad, as in the verses here at I.01.3–5, by contrast with the ritually correct practice of cremation. See the comment on I.22.335–354. There is also a cross-cultural contrast to be noted here: the practice of exposing a dead body to be eaten by dogs and birds is considered to be ritually correct in Iranian traditions that uphold Zoroastrian orthodoxy, while the very idea of cremating a dead body is for Zoroastrians an abomination. Both practices, exposition and cremation, are linked with ideas of eschatology, that is, of a permanent kind of afterlife. In Zoroastrian traditions, such an afterlife is endangered by cremation, while in Homeric traditions the danger comes from exposition. There will be more to say about ideas of afterlife in the anchor comment at I.23.071–076, where it will be argued that Hādēs in Homeric poetry is merely a transitional phase of afterlife for the psūkhē ‘spirit’ of a hero who died: in other words, Hādēs is not eschatological. [[GN 2016.06.05 -> 2016.12.27 via BA 208; also GMP 88, 175.]]

I.01.005

Q&T via BA 65
subject heading(s): boulē ‘wish, plan’; Will of Zeus; [sēma ‘sign’;] [nóos ‘mind’;] [mūthos ‘wording’;] plot of the Iliad; narrative arc
On boulē ‘wish, plan’ in the specific sense of ‘plan’: I.01.524–530, 1.10.043–052, I.10.415, I.11.627, I.12.235–236, I.15.056–077
The Will of Zeus is presented here as the plot of the narration or narrative arc that we know as the Iliad. The Greek noun boulē, translated here as ‘Will’, is what the god ‘wishes’, as expressed by the verb boulesthai ‘wish’. For boulesthai ‘wish’, see the comment on I.11.078–079. But the noun boulē conveys also the idea of ‘planning’, not just ‘wishing’: when Zeus wishes to do something, he engages in planning what he wishes, so that the Will of Zeus is also the Plan of Zeus. See the comment on I.01.524–530 concerning the Plan of Zeus. In comments still to come, there will be further observations on the Will of Zeus with reference to other relevant words, including sēma ‘sign’, nóos ‘mind’, mūthos ‘wording’ (see also GMP 222). [[GN 2016.06.09 via BA 65; also PH 238; more on the Will of Zeus in Nagy 2016.05.26.]]

I.01.008–012

subject heading(s): Muse; eris ‘strife’; Will of Zeus; agency of Apollo; plot of the Iliad
On eris ‘strife’: I.01.008–012, I.01.177, I.01.177, I.03.100, I.05.891, I.11.005–016
The Master Narrator calls on the Muse to explain the cause of the eris ‘strife’. (See also the pointed use of the word eris ‘strife’ at Pindar Paean 6.50–53.) It is now revealed that the god Apollo has a basic role in the plot of the Iliad, and that he too was angry at Agamemnon, even before Achilles became angry at this over-king. It is now also revealed that Apollo himself has agency in the outcome of the epic that we know as the Iliad. In the version of the epic as we have it, however, such an agency of Apollo is subsumed under the ultimate divine agency represented by the Will of Zeus. In earlier versions of the Iliad, on the other hand, the events of the epic could actually be attributed to the agency of Apollo. More on this subject in HPC 111–115. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 61.]]

I.01.015

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’
Speakers who hold a skēptron ‘scepter’, speak with a kingly authority emanating from the over-king of the gods, Zeus. [[GN 2016.06.09 via GMP 52.]]

I.01.028

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’

I.01.052

subject heading(s): aiei ‘forever’; aiōn ‘life-force, lifetime’
The adverb aiei ‘forever’ is the old locative case of the noun aiōn ‘life-force, lifetime’. The use of the locative indicates that the ‘life-force’ keeps coming back to life by way of a ‘recircling of time’. So, aiei means literally ‘in a recircling of time’, signaling an eternal return, a perpetual starting-over. [[GN 2016.06.09 via GMP 126, H24H 14§34.]]

I.01.069

Q&T via BA 32
subject heading(s): Kalkhas as ‘the best of the bird-watching seers’
Kalkhas, as ‘the best of the bird-watching seers’ belongs to a more restricted category than the category we see in the expression ‘the best of the Achaeans’. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 32.]]

I.01.074–083

subject heading(s): three kinds of anger in Homeric diction; mēnis ‘anger’; kholos ‘anger’; kotos ‘anger’; teleîn ‘reach an outcome’
The words spoken by Kalkhas the seer here at I.01.074–083 indicate three different kinds of anger: mēnis at I.01.075, kholos at I.01.081, and kotos at I.01.082. On mēnis as a kind of “cosmic sanction,” I cite the definitive work of Muellner 1996, especially ch.1. As for kholos, it is a kind of explosive anger that is generally instantaneous, as opposed to kotos, which is an anger that is timed to go off only in the fullness of time, when the course of events in the narration has come to fulfillment, as expressed here at I.01.082 by way of the verb teleîn ‘come to fulfillment’. On kotos in particular and on kholos in general, see Walsh 2013, especially ch. 1, where he analyzes the wording of the seer here at I.01.074–083 as a kind of “folk definition” for all three of the different kinds of anger mentioned in this passage.
[[GN 2017.08.08.]]

I.01.075

subject heading(s): tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles; agency of Apollo
The narration of the Iliad, from the start, sets up a parallelism between the hero Achilles and the god Apollo. [[GN 2016.06.09 via GMP 12.]]

I.01.086

subject heading(s): Doppelgänger; Achilles; agency of Apollo
When the hero Achilles swears by the god Apollo, he marks himself as a Doppelgänger of the god. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 143.]]

I.01.091

Q&T via BA 26 and 44
subject heading(s): eukhesthai ‘declare’; ‘best of the Achaeans’
The meaning of eukhesthai as ‘declare’ has to do with speaking for the record in the form of ‘boasting’ or ‘praying’ or ‘juridically declaring’ (Muellner 1976). The question of who is the ‘best of the Achaeans’ is being contested here. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 26, 44.]]

I.01.096–098

Q&T via BA 74–75
subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’; algea ‘pains’; akhos ‘grief’
Before the hero Achilles ever felt mēnis ‘anger’, the god Apollo already felt mēnis, and it was the god’s anger that ultimately led to the hero’s anger. Relevant are the words akhos ‘grief’ and algea ‘pains’, which are used in equivalent contexts. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 74–75 and 79.]]

I.01.097

tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles; agency of Apollo

I.01.110

subject heading(s): algea ‘pains’; akhos ‘grief’
The words akhos ‘grief’ and algea ‘pains’ are used in equivalent contexts. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 79.]]

I.01.122

subject heading(s): philo-kteanōtatos ‘most loving of material gain’
When Achilles insults Agamemnon by calling him philo-kteanōtatos ‘most loving of material gain’, the framing narration is referring to the general theme of Agamemnon’s greediness. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 313.]]

I.01.153

subject heading(s): aitios ‘responsible’; Will of Zeus
The theme of the Will of Zeus is relevant to questions of juridical responsibility, as expressed by the adjective aitios ‘responsible’. [[GN 2016.06.09 via PH 238; more on the meaning of aitios and its relevance to the Will of Zeus in Nagy 2016.05.26.]]

I.01.155

subject heading(s): bōti-aneira ‘she who nourishes men’; epithet; Phthiē (homeland of Achilles); phthinesthai ‘wilt, perish’
The traditional epithet for Phthie, the homeland of Achilles, is bōti-aneira ‘she who nourishes men’. There is a paradox built into this noun+epithet combination, since the name Phthiē is associated with the idea of ‘wilting’, as conveyed by the verb phthinesthai ‘wilt, perish’. See also the comments on I.19.322–323 and I.19.329–330, I.19.337. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 185.]]

I.01.159

subject heading(s): ‘having the looks of a dog’; language of praise/blame
When Achilles calls Agamemnon kun-ōpa ‘having the looks of a dog’, he is engaging in the language of blame. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 226, 312.]]

I.01.177

Q&T via BA 131
subject heading(s): eris ‘strife’; language of praise/blame
In Agamemnon’s language of blame as directed against Achilles, eris ‘strife’ is a defining feature of Achilles. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 131.]]

I.01.188

subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’; mēnis ‘anger’; Briseis; algea ‘pains’ of the Achaeans
Insulted by Agamemnon, Achilles experiences instantaneous akhos ‘grief’, I.01.188, which will then undergo a metastasis into mēnis ‘anger’. As we will see in what follows, that anger will then cause akhos ‘grief’ for the Achaeans as an aggregate, and that collective akhos ‘grief’ will end only after Achilles unsays his mēnis ‘anger’, as signaled finally at I.19.074–075. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 80.]]

I.01.197

subject heading(s): xanthos/xanthē ‘golden’ (with reference to hair); epithet; immortalization; Achilles
The epithet applied to the hair of Achilles, xanthos/xanthē ‘golden’, is a marker of the hero’s future immortalization. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 210.]]

I.01.207

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’; mēnis ‘anger’; root *men- ‘act or be in a given mental state’; synonym; formulaic system
There are three Homeric contexts where the word menos ‘mental power’ seems to be the functional equivalent of mēnis ‘anger’. But the question is, can we say that such functional equivalence is relevant to the derivation of both nouns menos and mēnis from the root *men-, which refers to mental activity or mental state? This question is relevant to another question: in the formulaic language of Homeric poetry, how do we define a synonym? [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 73; on mēnis in general see Muellner 1996.]]

I.01.225

Q&T via BA 226, 312
subject heading(s): language of praise / blame; ‘having the looks of a dog’
This insult, kunos ommat’ ekhōn ‘having the looks of a dog’, directed at Agamemnon by Achilles, exemplifies the language of blame. As also at I.01.159, the translation ‘having the looks of a dog’ conveys the idea that vision is treated as a “two-way street.” When you look at Agamemnon and he looks back at you, he both looks like a dog and he looks as a dog looking back at you. The English word look conveys a comparably two-way attitude: I can say “I look at a disgraceful person” and I can also say “this person looks disgraceful to me.” To convey the two-way attitude in the original Greek here, the wording of the translation gives ‘having the looks of a dog’ instead of merely ‘having the eyes [ommata] of a dog’. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 226, 312.]]

I.01.231

subject heading(s): dēmoboros ‘devourer of the community’; language of praise/blame; dēmos ‘community, district’; dēmós ‘fat, grease’; metaphor
This insult directed at Agamemnon by Achilles exemplifies the language of blame. Another aspect of the blame here is the double meaning of dēmo- in the compound formation dēmoboros: it could refer either to dēmos ‘community, district’ or to dēmós ‘fat, grease’. Metaphorically, Agamemnon is a ‘devourer of the community’ because he is like a predatory beast that devours the fat of his prey. (On metaphor, see the Inventory of terms and names; also MoM 0§01, 0§1 Extract 0-A.) [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 313.]]

I.01.233–246

Q&T I.01.233–237 via BA 179–180
subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’; Oath of Achilles; horkos ‘oath’; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc; mēnis ‘anger’
Achilles swears by the skēptron ‘scepter’ that he holds and then throws down to the ground. This oath of Achilles is correlated with the plot or narrative arc of the Iliad, starting from a point in time when Achilles declares his mēnis ‘anger’ all the way to the point in time when he un-declares or unsays it. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 179–180, 188.]]

I.01.233–237

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’; Oath of Achilles; horkos ‘oath’
The skēptron ‘scepter’ by which Achilles swears his Oath is here viewed as a thing of nature transformed into a thing of culture, by contrast with the scepter that is pictured in the Electra of Sophocles, 417–423. [[GN 2016.06.09 via GMP 143.]]

I.01.244

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; Master Narrator
The insulting of Achilles by Agamemnon takes on a special meaning in the Iliad because the Master Narrator recognizes Achilles as the ‘best of the Achaeans’. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 26.]]

I.01.247

subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’
The meaning of mēnis ‘anger’ in a situation where X is angry at Y does not preclude the idea that Y is also angry at X. There is an ongoing reciprocity of anger between Achilles as the supreme warrior of the Achaeans and Agamemnon as their supreme leader or over-king. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 73–74.]]

I.01.282

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’; mēnis ‘anger’; root *men- ‘act or be in a given mental state’; synonym; formulaic system
Here is one of the three Homeric contexts where menos ‘mental power’ seems to be a functional equivalent of mēnis ‘anger’. But note the further comments at. I.01.207. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 73.]]

I.01.291

subject heading(s): oneidos (plural oneidea) ‘words of insult’; language of praise/blame
Agamemnon as speaker refers to the oneidea ‘words of insult’ directed at him by Achilles, who has been resorting to the language of blame in his quarrel with the over-king. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 226.]]

I.01.320–348

subject heading(s): loigos ‘devastation’; Battle for the Ships; fire of Hector; mēnis ‘anger’
The wording of Achilles refers to the future predicament of the Achaeans during the Battle for the Ships; in this phase of the Trojan War, the Achaeans will be losing while the Trojans led by Hector will be winning, on the verge of burning down all the ships of the Achaeans and thus destroying the heroic ancestors of Greek civilization. The threat of such destruction will be signaled by references to the fire of Hector. The word loigos ‘devastation’ refers to the plight of the Achaeans during this phase of the war, when their ships are in danger of being destroyed. For parallel wording, see also I.01.341. For another context—and in this case loigos ‘devastation’ signals a cosmic disaster in the making—see I. 01.398. As for the context that is now being considered, I.01.320–348, the plight of the Achaeans is caused here by the mēnis ‘anger’ of the hero Achilles; earlier, the Achaeans suffer loigos ‘devastation’, I.01.067, I.01.097, I.01.456, when they are afflicted by the disease that is visited upon them by Apollo. In that case, their plight is caused by the mēnis ‘anger’ of the god himself. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 75–76.]]

I.01.321

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
This is the first occurrence of the noun therapōn in the Iliad; the dual form here is theraponte. In the immediate context, only the surface meaning, ‘attendant’, is evident. In other contexts, as at I.04.227, there are traces of a deeper meaning, ‘ritual substitute’. [[GN 2016.08.11.]]

I.01.335

subject heading(s): aitios ‘responsible’; Will of Zeus

I.01.337

subject heading(s): Patroklos=Patrokleēs
The name Patroklos=Patrokleēs occurs here at I.01.345 for the first time. For the etymology, see the comment on I.01.345. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 102.]]

I.01.341

subject heading(s): tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles; agency of Apollo

I.01.345

subject heading(s): Patroklos=Patrokleēs; kleos ‘glory’ (of poetry)
The name Patroklos=Patrokleēs means ‘he who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors [pateres]’. On kleos in the sense of an overall reference to the ‘glory’ of poetry, see I.02.325. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 102.]]

I.01.350–359

subject heading(s): pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’
The hero Achilles is linked with the word pontos in the sense of a ‘crossing’ of the sea—a ‘crossing’ that is dangerous but sacralizing. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 343–344.]]

I.01.362

subject heading(s): penthos ‘grief’; akhos ‘grief’; synonym; tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles; Homeric diction
The word penthos is used here to indicate the ‘grief’ of Achilles. Both words akhos ‘grief’ and penthos ‘grief’ refer to the emotion felt by Achilles over the damage done to his tīmē by Agamemnon when the over-king insults him. In general, penthos ‘grief’ is a synonym of akhos ‘grief’ in Homeric diction. (On Homeric diction, see the Inventory of terms and names.) [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 94.]]

I.01.365–392

subject heading(s): [dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’;] daiesthai ‘feast, divide (meat), apportion, distribute’; Strife Scene
The theme expressed by the verb daiesthai ‘feast: divide (meat), apportion, distribute’ at I.01.368 is at work in the Strife Scene at the beginning of the Iliad—although a ‘feast’ as expressed by the noun dais is not literally the setting. Still, the grievance of Achilles has to do with his being deprived of his equitable portion of the spoils of war. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 132.]]

I.01.396–406

subject heading(s): mētis ‘mind, intelligence’; Thetis
The mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ of the local goddess Thetis is linked with the heroic potential of her son Achilles. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 345–346.]]

I.01.403–404

subject heading(s): Briareos; Aigaion; biē ‘force, violence, strength’; pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’
The monstrous figures of Briareos and Aigaion, synthetized as one person in this context, conjure up the theme of the-Achilles-who-would-have-been if his father had been the god Zeus instead of the hero Peleus. This Achilles-who-would-have been is connected with the primal themes of biē ‘force, violence, strength’. [[GN 2016.06.05 via BA 347.]]

I.01.407–412

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; akhos ‘grief’; tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles; mēnis ‘anger’; Oath of Achilles; horkos ‘oath’; skēptron ‘scepter’; Will of Zeus; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc
In the words of the mortal hero Achilles, speaking to his immortal mother Thetis, the status of the hero as ‘best of the Achaeans’ is linked with the akhos ‘grief’ that he experiences over the damage to his tīmē—damage caused by the insult inflicted by Agammemnon in the quarrel between the two heroes. The akhos ‘grief’ of Achilles leads to his mēnis ‘anger’, which in turn will lead to the collective akhos of all the Achaeans. The horkos ‘oath’ of Achilles, Ι.01.233, which he will swear by as he holds the skēptron ‘scepter’, I.01.234, and which he then throws to the ground to mark his oath, is coextensive with the akhos ‘grief’ that the Achaeans will suffer because of the hero’s mēnis. To the extent that the Oath of Achilles is sacred, so too is the coextensive plot of the Iliad. This plot or narrative arc, leading to devastation for the Achaeans, will be enhanced by the mētis or ‘intelligence’ of Thetis, immortal mother of Achilles; and it will be enacted by the Will of Zeus. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 26, 48, 82, 188, 334, 336, 346.]]

I.01.412

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; atē ‘aberration’
The status of Achilles as ‘best of the Achaeans’ is primarily formalized by way of the epithet aristos Akhaiōn ‘best of the Achaeans’. For Agamemnon to dishonor this status of Achilles is a sign of the over-king’s atē ‘aberration’. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 26; PH 412]]

I.01.416

subject heading(s): morceau du héros; aisa ‘portion; fate, destiny’
The theme of le morceau du héros, which is the ‘champion’s portion’ of meat awarded to a dominant hero, is coextensive with the theme of a hero’s epic ‘destiny’, one word for which is aisa, as here. Literally, such a ‘destiny’ is the hero’s ‘portion’ or ‘allotment’. In the Iliad, the focus is on the destiny of this epic’s most dominant hero, Achilles. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 134.]]

I.01.418

subject heading(s): morceau du héros; aisa ‘portion; fate, destiny’

I.01.423–425

subject heading(s): dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’; Aithiopes ‘Aethiopians’; Ōkeanos; coincidence of opposites; daiesthai ‘feast, divide (meat), apportion, distribute’; Strife Scene
When the Olympian gods are away from their home situated on Mount Olympus, they customarily attend a dais ‘feast’, Ι.01.424, in the Land of the Aithiopes ‘Aethiopians’, Ι.01.423, whose home is situated at the two farthest imaginable extremities of the known world, that is, both in the Far East and in the Far West, on the banks of the world-encircling river named Ōkeanos, Ο.01.022–024. The idea that the Aethiopians live at both extremes of the world is an example of a theme that can best be described as a coincidence of opposites. When the gods attend the stylized feast of the Aethiopians, as when Poseidon visits them at O.01.022–026, they cannot pay attention to the feasts arranged by mortals in the central world of the heroes’ here-and-now. Such feasts would be sacrifices, involving a dais or literally a ‘division’ of meat. The word dais means ‘feast’ because any occasion of feasting in the heroic world requires a ritualized ‘division’ of the cooked meat of animals sacrificed for the occasion. See the comment on O.08.061. The word dais does not distinguish between an occasion where gods and humans feast together, as in the case of marginal figures like the Aethiopians, and an occasion where humans offer sacrifice to the gods, as in the case of the central figures like the heroes in the Iliad and Odyssey. For an example of dais with reference to a feast shared by Poseidon with the Aethiopians, see O.01.026 and the comment on O.01.022–026. For an example of dais with reference to a feast resulting from a sacrifice of animals to the gods, see O.08.061. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 131, 205, 213, 218; GMP 237]]

I.01.454

subject heading(s): Chryses; prayer; tīmân ‘honor, give honor to’
Chryses uses the same words in praying to Apollo as Achilles does in praying to Zeus at I.16.237. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 82.]]

I.01.456

Q&T via BA 75
subject heading(s): loigos ‘devastation’; amunein ‘ward off’
See the comment on I.01.320–348; see also I.16.032. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 75–76.]]

I.01.463

subject heading(s): Life of Homer; pempōbola ‘five-prong forks’; Aeolian, Aeolic; Ionian, Ionic; Homer the Aeolian; Homeric diction; “Aeolic default”; Homer the Ionian; Aeolian Dodecapolis
definitions for Aeolic, Ionic, Aeolian, Ionian, Homeric diction, “Aeolic default”: see the Inventory of terms and names
The anonymous author of a Life of Homer (on the Lives of Homer, see the Inventory of terms and names), in Vita 1.517–537, argues that Homer, as the poet of the Iliad and Odyssey, was an Aioleús ‘Aeolian’, and, in making this argument, he cites among other facts the existence of the form pempṓbola (πεμπώβολα) in the expression here at I.01.463, ‘and the young men were getting ready for him [= the priest Chryses] the five-pronged-forks [pempṓbola] that they were holding in their hands’ (νέοι δὲ παρ’ αὐτὸν ἔχον πεμπώβολα χερσίν). The reasoning given by the author is this: the Aeolians, he says, are the only Greek-speaking people who roast the splánkhna ‘innards’ of a sacrificial animal by using forks that have five prongs instead of three. All other Greeks use three-prong forks. This argument, based on facts of culture, is combined here with an argument based on facts of language: the Aeolic word for ‘five’ is pémpe, as opposed to the Ionic word, which is pénte. So pempṓbola ‘five-prong forks’ must be an Aeolic and not an Ionic word. (On debates about the phonology and morphology of pempṓbola, see Nagy 2011b:173–174.) In highlighting the form pempṓbola ‘having five prongs’, the narrator of Vita 1 is making the point that ‘Homer’ as a speaker of Greek defaults to Aeolic usage when he speaks about customs that are most familiar to him, as in the case of the Aeolian custom of using five-prong forks instead of three-prong forks for roasting sacrificial meat at an animal sacrifice. In terms of such an argument, that is why ‘Homer’ uses the Aeolic dialectal form pémpe ‘five’ instead of the Ionic dialectal form pénte ‘five’. This argument, combining cultural and linguistic facts, can be seen as a metaphor for explaining a linguistic process, to be defined here as the “Aeolic default.” (See also under “Aeolic default” in the Inventory of terms and names.) In terms of such a definition, Homeric diction defaults to an Aeolic dialectal form, as here, in the absence of a corresponding Ionic dialectal form. (On Homeric diction, see the Inventory of terms and names.) In general, it is this linguistic process of the “Aeolic default” that generates the Aeolic component of Homeric diction. But this component, it is essential to keep in mind, is secondary to the Ionic component of Homeric diction, which is primary. To put it another way: the Ionic component of Homeric diction is dominant, while the Aeolic component is only recessive. Such a relationship of Ionic and Aeolic components is metaphorized in myths claiming that the birthplace of Homer was the city of Smyrna, which was originally Aeolian but then became Ionian. (For historical background on Smyrna, see under Aeolian Dodecapolis in the Inventory of terms and names.) In myths about Smyrna as Homer’s birthplace, the identity of Homer as a native of Aeolian Smyrna is superseded by the identity of Homer as a native of Ionian Smyrna. (See again under Aeolian Dodecapolis in the Inventory of terms and names.) [[GN 2016.09.07 via Nagy 2011b:144 and 173–174.]]

I.01.463

anchor comment on Aeolians as speakers of Aeolic, vs. Ionians as speakers of Ionic
subject heading(s): Aeolian, Aeolic; Ionian, Ionic; Dorian, Doric; Thessaly; Boeotia; Lesbos; European/ Asiatic Greeks; Achilles the Aeolian
From a purely linguistic point of view, an ‘Aeolian’ was whoever spoke a dialect known as Aeolic, which along with Ionic and Doric was a major dialectal grouping of the Greek language. From an anthropological point of view, however, there is more to it: as we see from such sources as Herodotus in the fifth century BCE, an Aioleús ‘Aeolian’ was whoever belonged to a social and cultural grouping of Greeks who distinguished themselves in their rituals and myths from other social and cultural groupings. Thus the Aioleîs ‘Aeolians’ were socially and culturally distinct from, say, the Iōnes ‘Ionians’, as we see for example from the remarks of Herodotus 1.149 about a twelve-city confederation of Aioleîs ‘Aeolians’ located on the mainland of northern Asia Minor, which rivaled a corresponding twelve-city confederation of Iōnes ‘Ionians’ located on the mainland of central Asia Minor. (See under Aeolian Dodecapolis and Ionian Dodecapolis in the Inventory of terms and names.) And these differentiated social groupings of Aioleîs ‘Aeolians’ and Iōnes ‘Ionians’—as also Dōrieîs ‘Dorians’—corresponded neatly with the linguistic groupings of the dialects spoken in Asia Minor and in its outlying islands:
1. The Aeolian speakers of Aeolic inhabited the northern part of coastal Asia Minor together with the outlying islands of Lesbos and Tenedos.
2. The Ionian speakers of Ionic inhabited the central part together with the outlying islands of Chios and Samos.
3. The Dorian speakers of Doric inhabited the southern part together with outlying islands like Rhodes.
By contrast with the dialects of these Asiatic Greeks, however, the corresponding dialects of the European Greeks inhabiting the mainland and islands on the western side of the Aegean Sea are in some cases more difficult to track linguistically. Such is the case with Aeolic dialects spoken on the European mainland, notably in Thessaly and in Boeotia. In the case of Thessaly in particular, the various dialects spoken in this overall region are difficult to correlate with the dialect spoken on the islands of Lesbos and Tenedos as also on the facing Asiatic mainland, but it can be argued that both these sets of European and Asiatic dialects are Aeolic; and it can also be argued that the Thessalians figured themselves as true Aeolians in their rituals and myths. And their primary hero, as we will see in the anchor comment at I.02.689–694, was Achilles of Thessaly, figured as the ultimate Aeolian. [[GN 2016.09.07 via Nagy 2011b:162–167.]]

I.01.468

subject heading(s): dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’; isos/isē ‘equitable’; daiesthai ‘feast, divide (meat), apportion, distribute’; Strife Scene
The idea of ‘division’ latent in contexts where dais refers to a ‘feast’ becomes overt in expressions like δαιτὸς ἐίσης ‘equitable dais’ referring to an ‘equitable’ (adjective isos/isē) division of meat on the occasion of a feast. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 128, 133.]]

I.01.473

subject heading(s): paiēōn ‘paean’ as a song; algea ‘pains’ of the Achaeans; kūdos ‘sign of glory’
There are two comparable situations in the Iliad where a paiēōn is sung to mark a major remedy for the Achaeans. In the present situation, the singing of such a song marks the cessation of algea ‘pains’ for the Achaeans. In another situation, I.22.391, it marks the winning of a mighty kūdos ‘sign of glory’ for the Achaeans, which is, the killing of Hector by Achilles: see the overall context of I.22.391–394. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 77.]]

I.01.477

subject heading(s): Ēōs, goddess of the dawn; rhododaktulos ‘rosy-fingered’ [; thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’]; epithet
We see here in the Iliad the first occurrence of the epithet rhododaktulos ‘rosy-fingered’, applied to Ēōs, goddess of the dawn. This epithet can be explained as a substitution for another epithet, thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’, which is applied to other goddesses, most notably to Aphrodite: see the anchor comment at I.03.374. [[GN 2017.04.12 via GMP 247–250; also 150n27.]]

I.01.503–510

subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’; tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles; mēnis ‘anger’; Will of Zeus; ‘best of the Achaeans’; Oath of Achilles; horkos ‘oath’; skēptron ‘scepter’; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc; mētis ‘intelligence’
In the words of the immortal goddess Thetis, speaking to the all-powerful god Zeus on behalf of her mortal son Achilles, the status of this hero as ‘best of the Achaeans’ is linked with the akhos ‘grief’ that he experiences over the damage to his tīmē ‘honor’. The mother is here reframing the words of her son, spoken earlier at I.01.407–412. The akhos ‘grief’ of Achilles leads to his mēnis ‘anger’, which in turn will lead to the collective akhos ‘grief’ of all the Achaeans, and it will be enacted by the Will of Zeus, who is the father that Achilles never had. And the Will of Zeus will be enhanced by the mētis ‘intelligence’ of Thetis, whom Zeus never got a chance to impregnate. [[GN 2016.06.08 via 72, 81–82, 85, 132, 346.]]

I.01.509

subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’; kratos ‘winning-power’; Akhaio-/Akhaiā-; etymology; Will of Zeus
Once the Achaeans collectively have akhos ‘grief’, ordained by the Will of Zeus, the Trojans will correspondingly have kratos ‘winning-power’, likewise ordained by the god. This correspondence is relevant to the etymology of the name Akhaio-/Akhaiā-. [[GN 2016.06.08 via 81–82, 85, 334.]]

I.01.524–530

subject heading(s): boulē ‘will, plan’; Will of Zeus; Plan of Zeus; Oath of Achilles; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc; skēptron ‘scepter’
The Will of Zeus, which is made coextensive with the plot or narrative arc of the Iliad, is formalized by the all-powerful god when he nods his head, as he does here at I.01.524–530. When Zeus nods his head here to signal what is called the Will of Zeus, which is the plot or narrative arc of the Iliad, his plan is to make the story of the Iliad happen. That is the Plan of Zeus, not only the Will of Zeus. Likewise coextensive with the plot of the Iliad is the Oath of Achilles, retold at I.01.233–246, where Achilles formalizes his speech-act when he throws to the ground the scepter by which he swore when he spoke his Oath. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 188.]]

I.01.528–530

Q&T via MoM 1§102
subject heading(s): Will of Zeus; Plan of Zeus; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc; metonymy; theo-eroticism
The action of Zeus in nodding his head to express his Will results in his making contact, by way of metonymy, with the emotions of Achilles. (On metonymy, see the Inventory of terms and names.) The effect of such divine metonymy in making contact with human emotions is seen by ancient critics as an attempt at familiarizing, personalizing, and even eroticizing the gods. [[GN 2016.06.09 via MoM 1§106, with reference to the quoting of these verses by Strabo 8.3.30 C354 in the context of narrating what exactly inspired Pheidias to sculpt the colossal gold-and-ivory statue of Zeus in Olympia; also HC 4§95; also MoM 1§113 with reference to the theo-eroticism of this statue.]]

I.01.558–559

subject heading(s): Will of Zeus; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc; tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles; akhos ‘grief’; Battle for the Ships; fire of Hector
The reference here to the Will of Zeus, as recapitulated in the words of the goddess Hērā, repeats a main theme in the plot or narrative arc of the Iliad: the damaging of the tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles by the Achaeans will lead to the akhos ‘grief’ that they will experience at the Battle for the Ships, when their very survival will be threatened by the fire of Hector. What Achilles had wished for has by now become the Will of Zeus: the Achaeans will from now on keep losing until the fire of Hector reaches the ships. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 82, 132, 334, 336.]]

I.01.602

dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’; isos/isē ‘equitable’; daiesthai ‘feast, divide (meat), apportion, distribute’; Strife Scene

I.01.603–604

subject heading(s): singing/dancing/instrumentation
A totalizing idea of song—including not only the actual singing but also the dancing and the instrumental accompaniment—is embodied in a performance by the Muses and Apollo combined in the idealized context of the divine abode on top of Mount Olympus. [[GN 2016.06.08 via BA 291; also PH 351, 361.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 2

2016.07.01

The narrative of Rhapsody 2 now follows up on the dire consequences of the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon as narrated in Rhapsody 1. Achilles has already withdrawn from the war because of his anger. So, now that this greatest hero of the Achaeans is out of the picture, what will happen next? How will the absence of Achilles affect the story of the Trojan War? Many new doubts and fears set in, and the resolve of the Achaeans is harshly tested. There is negative talk, and there are omens. Thus the story of the Trojan War, as told and retold countless times in the distant past, must now be retold yet again, and Rhapsody 2 will set the terms for the retelling still to come. For setting the terms, Rhapsody 2 will need a new Catalogue of Ships, now happening in the tenth year of the war, as a replacement for any old Catalogue that would have logically happened already in the first year. This new Catalogue is of course not really new: rather, it is the oldest possible Catalogue that is now being renewed for the newest possible retelling of the Trojan War, reconsidered in the glaring light of the grim consequences facing the Achaeans now that Achilles has withdrawn from the war. With these consequences in view, the Catalogue will reassess all the Achaean heroes involved in the Trojan War. Of special interest will be the role of Protesilaos, who had been the first Achaean to die in the war, as a model for Achilles. As the Master Narrator notes most ruefully, Protesilaos is now terribly missed by his fellow warriors. So too will Achilles be missed.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig2
Figure 2. Inscription on the reverse side of the coin: ΘΗΒΑΙΩΝ. Pictured: the Greek hero Protesilaos, the first Achaean to step on Trojan soil and, according to the myth, the first to die in the Trojan War. The myth is retold in Iliad 2.695–709.

I.02.001–006

subject heading(s): False Dream; Will of Zeus; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc; sub-plot; tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles; Battle for the Ships; fire of Hector; boulē ‘wish, plan’
The False Dream that is sent by Zeus to the sleeping Agamemnon is a false Will of Zeus. Whereas the true Will of Zeus is the real plot or narrative arc of the Iliad, as noted in the comments on I.01.005 and on I.01.558–559, the false Will of Zeus is a false plot for the epic, since the eventual victory of the Achaeans over the Trojans in the tenth year of the Trojan War will not be quick and easy and painless but prolonged and difficult and painful. In the real plot of the Iliad, the Achaeans will suffer a new pain: they will find themselves on the losing side of the Trojan War while the Trojans will now be on the winning side. This temporary reversal in the tenth year of the Trojan War goes back to the moment when Agamemnon damages the tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles. Because this damage was tolerated by the Achaeans, they will suffer—and keep on suffering—the akhos ‘grief’ of being on the losing side until the fire of Hector finally reaches the ships of the Achaeans at the climax of the Battle for the Ships. By way of this reversal, through the Will of Zeus, Achilles will recover the tīmē or ‘honor’ that he had lost. At I.02.003-004, Zeus is shown in the act of planning this reversal: it is the Will of Zeus that he will give tīmē ‘honor’ to Achilles, and this honor, it is said here, will require the destruction of many warriors at the Battle for the Ships. Such destruction will be a source of great grief for the Achaeans. For them, victory at Troy will now become a most prolonged and difficult and painful goal to achieve. Such is the real plot of the Iliad, whereas the false plot that tells of a quick and easy and painless victory is only a dream. Nevertheless, the dream of this false plot is still a part of the real plot, since the Will of Zeus subsumes the false plot. The dream, then, is a subplot. After all, it is the boulē ‘will’ of Zeus to send the dream at I.02.005, and this boulē is here described as the ‘best’ boulē in the sense of a ‘best plan’ for now. The plan of Zeus here is a subplot that is the best of all possible subplots because it is part of the overarching plot of the Iliad, a master epic that subsumes all of its various subplots. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 64, 82, 132, 334, 336.]]

I.02.007–015

subject heading(s): False Dream; Will of Zeus; micro-Iliad; First Song of Demodokos; fire of Hector; kulindesthai ‘roll’; boulē ‘wish, plan’ in the specific sense of ‘plan’
The False Dream, personified, is instructed by Zeus to tell Agamemnon that the victory of the Achaeans over the Trojans will be quick and easy and painless, since the goddess Hērā at a council of the divinities has supposedly persuaded the other gods to acquiesce to such a victory. The instructions of Zeus as formulated at I.02.011–015 are carried out by the False Dream, who delivers the formulation to the sleeping Agamemnon at I.02.028–032. Later on, Agamemnon retells this formulation at I.02.065–69. I note that Zeus does not instruct the False Dream to say that these instructions are the Will of Zeus, though the wording of the False Dream implies it. The implication happens in an additional verse that follows the False Dream’s formulation as the messenger of Zeus at I.02.028–032. In this additional verse, at I.02.033, the False Dream says that the ultimate doom of the Trojans will be caused by Zeus. And the same addition is made in the retelling of Agamemnon, at I.02.070 following I.02.065–69. But there is no such corresponding addition after the verses containing the original formulation of Zeus at I.02.011–015. In any case, what results from the formulation delivered by the False Dream as messenger of Zeus is that Agamemnon will misunderstand what the god really wants. Agamemnon will think that victory over the Trojans will now be quick and easy and painless. But Zeus plans instead just the opposite: in order to restore the tīmē ‘honor’ of Achilles, Zeus will make sure that the struggles awaiting the Achaeans will be prolonged and difficult and painful, so that the Achaeans will now be on the losing side until the fire of Hector finally reaches the ships of the Achaeans at the Battle for the Ships. Likewise in the “micro-Iliad” of O.8.072–083, which is the First Song of Demodokos, Agamemnon misunderstands the Will of Zeus, not knowing what pains the god is planning to inflict on the Achaeans as well as the Trojans. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 64, 82, 334, 336.]]

I.02.026

subject heading(s): Dios angelos ‘messenger of Zeus’; ossa ‘oracular voice’
The False Dream, personified, describes himself here as the Dios angelos ‘messenger of Zeus’. Later on, at I.02.063, Agamemnon himself describes the personified False Dream as the Dios angelos ‘messenger of Zeus’. Still later on, at I.02.93, the False Dream will be equated with Ossa, personification of an ossa ‘oracular voice’. And this personified Ossa is then described at I.02.94 as Dios angelos ‘messenger of Zeus’ [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 138.]

I.02.029–030

The False Dream tells Agamemnon that he will capture Troy ‘now’. It is a promise of instant gratification. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 64.]]

I.02.036–040

Q&T via BA 65
subject heading(s): False Dream; Will of Zeus; teleîsthai ‘come to fulfillment’; algea ‘pains’ of the Achaeans
These verses describe most accurately how Agamemnon, dreaming his False Dream, misunderstands the Will of Zeus. As we read at I.02.036 here, Agamemnon is thinking things that will definitely not ‘come to fulfillment’, teleîsthai, through the will of the god. As we read further at I.02.037, Agamemnon thinks that he will now capture Troy in just one day, in accordance with the Will of Zeus. Of course he is wrong to think this, as we read still further at I.02.038–040, since Zeus is now planning to inflict many more algea ‘pains’ in battle not only for the Trojans but also, more pertinently, for the Achaeans. The Trojan War is about to be prolonged for the Achaeans, causing them much more hardship and pain. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 65, 77, 138.]]

I.02.041

subject heading(s): False Dream; omphē ‘oracular voice’; ossa ‘oracular voice’; micro-Iliad; First Song of Demodokos; pēma ‘pain’; kulindesthai ‘roll’; Will of Zeus; boulē ‘wish, plan’ in the specific sense of ‘plan’
When Agamemnon wakes up from dreaming the False Dream, he experiences the sensation of an omphē ‘oracular voice’ that has just now been poured all over him. This idea of omphē as an ‘oracular voice’ (the word is cognate with English song) is picked up by the word ossa ‘oracular voice’ at I.02.093, which refers there to the personified False Dream who had announced himself as the Dios angelos ‘messenger’ of Zeus to the sleeping Agamemnon at I.02.026. In the context of Theognis 1.808 and elsewhere, omphē refers to the oracular voice of the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. Such contexts show that omphē in the sense of ‘oracular voice’ is relevant to the misunderstanding experienced by Agamemnon in Iliad 2. Just as Agamemnon misunderstands the oracular voice that is mediated by the False Dream, so also he misunderstands the oracular voice of the god Apollo himself in the First Song of Demodokos O.08.072–083. At verses 77–78 of that “micro-Iliad,” it is said that Agamemnon was happy to see Odysseus and Achilles quarelling; at verses 79–83, it is said that such a quarrel was predicted by the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi to Agamemnon when this over-king went there for an oracular consultation. And at verses 81–82 it is said that this quarrel was really a sign that foretold a great pēma ‘pain’ that was about to befall the Achaeans as well as the Trojans in the Trojan War. [[GN 2016.06.30 via Nagy 2015.05.27; also via BA 65, 77, 138.]]

I.02.046

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’; aphthito- ‘imperishable, unwilting’; Oath of Achilles
The skēptron ‘scepter’ that is held by Agamemnon is described as golden, and gold is the symbol for the artificial continuum of immortality as expressed by the epithet aphthito- in the sense of ‘imperishable, unwilting’. But this scepter was originally wooden and then covered over in gold; and wood is a symbol for the natural discontinuity of mortal life as expressed by the verb phthinesthai in the sense of ‘wilt’. This aspect of the skēptron ‘scepter’ as a symbol for the natural discontinuity of mortal life is highlighted by the Oath of Achilles at I.01.233–246. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 179, 188; PH 278; GMP 125.]]

I.02.063

subject heading(s): Dios angelos ‘messenger of Zeus’; ossa ‘oracular voice’
The False Dream, personified, announces himself to the sleeping Agamemnon, describing himself as the Dios angelos ‘messenger of Zeus’. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 65, 77, 138.]]

I.02.082

Q&T via BA 26
subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; eukhesthai ‘claim; declare’
Countering the claim of Achilles to be the ‘best of the Achaeans’, Agamemnon here lays claim to the same title, and the verb for expressing such a claim is eukhesthai ‘claim’. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 26, 45; on eukhesthai see also Muellner 1976.]]

I.02.086

subject heading(s): skēptoukhoi basilēes ‘scepter-bearing kings’; skēptron ‘scepter’
This expression needs to be added to the cumulative evidence showing that a person who holds a skēptron ‘scepter’ speaks with the authority of a king—an authority emanating from Zeus. [[GN 2016.06.30 via GMP 52.]]

I.02.094

Dios angelos ‘messenger of Zeus’; ossa ‘oracular voice’
In this verse, I.02.094, the epithet Dios angelos ‘messenger of Zeus’ applies to the noun ossa ‘oracular voice’ as found in the previous verse, I.02.093. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 138.]]

I.02.100–108

subject heading(s): Pelops
In the Homeric Iliad, the hero Pelops figures as an archetype of political power. The sequence of kings in the Peloponnesus is limited to the dynastic lineage starting with Pelops. [[GN 2016.06.30 via PH 130, 299.]]

I.02.101

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’

I.02.108

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’

I.02.110

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant; ritual substitute’; therapontes of Ares; hero cult; cult hero
This is the second occurrence of the noun therapōn in the Iliad; the plural form here is therapontes. The surface meaning of therapōn in Homeric diction is ‘attendant’, and a fitting example is the word’s first occurrence in the Iliad, at I.01.321; the deeper meaning, however, is ‘ritual substitute’. In contexts where the plural therapontes in combination with Arēos ‘of Ares’ is applied to the Achaeans=Danaans=Argives (at I.02.110, to the Danaoi) as a grouping of warriors, the deeper meaning is more evident than in other contexts. When a warrior is killed in war, he becomes a therapōn or ‘ritual substitute’ who dies for Ares by becoming identical to the war god at the moment of death; then, after death, the warrior is eligible to become a cult hero who serves as a sacralized ‘attendant’ of the war god in contexts of hero cult. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 293–295; GMP 48; H24H 6§32.]]

I.02.119–130

subject heading(s): epic traditions of the Epigonoi; epic traditions of the Seven against Thebes
The words of this challenge directed against the over-king Agamemnon by Sthenelos, chariot driver of Diomedes, recall the epic traditions of the Epigonoi = Sons-of-the-Seven-against Thebes. Since Sthenelos figures as a character in two epic traditions, both the Iliadic and the Epigonic, his wording here can be seen as a cross-reference from the Iliadic tradition to the Epigonic. The cross-reference sets up a rivalry between the two epic traditions: the question is, are the Epigonoi as heroic characters superior to the heroic characters of the Iliad? [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 163.]]

I.02.186

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’

I.02.212

subject heading(s): a-metro-epēs ‘without measured speech’; language of praise/blame; blame as foil for epic
This word indicates the language of blame vs. praise. Such words can refer to blame as a foil for epic. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 264.]]

I.02.214

subject heading(s): Thersites as exponent of blame poetry; language of praise/blame; blame as foil for epic; erizemenai basileusin ‘engage in strife against kings’; “speaking name” (nomen loquens)
The expression erizemenai basileusin ‘engage in strife against kings’ is a programmatic way of referring to the language of blame as a challenge to royalty. In the Iliad, Thersites is a prime exponent of blame poetry. He has a “speaking name” (nomen loquen), since Thersī́tēs is related to the noun thersos/thrasos, which refers a negative kind of ‘boldness’ in contexts of blame poetry: see the comment at O.18.001–004. [[GN 2016.08.17 via BA 262-263.]]

I.02.216

subject heading(s): aiskhistos ‘most disgraceful’; aiskhos ‘disgrace, shame’; aiskhro- ‘disgraceful, shameful’; Thersites as exponent of blame poetry; language of praise/blame; blame as foil for epic; Aristotle on blame poetry
The programmatic representation of Thersites as an exponent of blame poetry is summed up in the description of this character as aiskhistos ‘most disgraceful’. In the Poetics of Aristotle (1449a), the semantics of the underlying (a) noun aiskhos ‘disgrace, shame’ and (b) adjective aiskhron ‘disgraceful, shameful’ can be seen as the basic context of blame poetry. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 262.]]

I.02.217–219

subject heading(s): Thersites as exponent of blame poetry; language of praise/blame; blame as foil for epic; ugliness of blame; Aesop as exponent of praise/blame; Thersites as pharmakos ‘scapegoat’; Aesop as pharmakos ‘scapegoat’[; ainos ‘coded words; fable’]; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; aiskhro- ‘disgraceful, shameful’; Hector; Paris=Alexandros
The content of the words of Thersites as blame poetry is matched by the form of the blame poet: just as the content is ugly, the form too is ugly. Thersites actually looks ugly. If we compare the figure of Thersites with the figure of Aesop, who is represented in myth as an exponent of blame as well as praise whenever he performs an ainos ‘fable’, those aspects of Aesop that gravitate toward blame are reflected in the portrayals of this character as markedly ugly. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 262, 308.]]

I.02.221

subject heading(s): Thersites as exponent of blame poetry; language of praise/blame; blame as foil for epic; Thersites as ekhthistos ‘most hateful’ to both Achilles and Odysseus; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; neikos ‘quarrel’; aiskhro- ‘disgraceful, shameful’; Hector; Paris=Alexandros
As an exponent of blame poetry, which is antithetical to the poetry of epic as a vehicle for praising what is good about heroes, Thersites is truly ekhthistos ‘most hateful’ to the primary two heroes of epic poetry as represented by the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, who are of course Achilles and Odysseus respectively. As we read at I.02.220–221, Thersites has his quarrels especially with these two heroes, and the verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’ as used here at I.02.221, together with the corresponding noun neikos ‘quarrel’ as used elsewhere, refers programmatically to the poetics of blame. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 260, 263.]]

I.02.222

subject heading(s): Thersites as exponent of blame poetry; language of praise/blame; blame as foil for epic; oneidos (plural oneidea) ‘words of insult’; oneidizein ‘say words of insult’
Besides the noun neikos (plural neikea) ‘quarrel’ and the verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’, on both which see the comment on I.02.221, another set of words referring to the poetics of blame as antithetical to the poetics of praise in general and of epic in particular is the noun oneidos (plural oneidea), as here, meaning ‘words of insult’, and the verb oneidein, meaning ‘say words of insult’, as elsewhere. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 263.]]

I.02.224

subject heading(s): Thersites as exponent of blame poetry; language of praise/blame; blame as foil for epic; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’
Here again, the verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’ refers to the poetics of blame. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 263.]]

I.02.225–242

subject heading(s): Thersites as exponent of blame poetry; language of praise/blame; blame as foil for epic; insults about greed
Epic quotes here directly the poetry of blame as displayed by Thersites. His words of blame are introduced and concluded at I.02.224 and I.02.243 respectively by way of the word neikeîn ‘quarrel with’. Although Thersites addresses Agamemnon, insulting him directly, he insults indirectly all the Achaeans, including Achilles. Among the specific insults hurled at Agamemnon are accusations of greedy behavior, I.02.237. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 261-263, 313.]]

I.02.235

subject heading(s): elenkhos ‘disgrace’
Thersites directs his blame at the Achaeans, ridiculing them by feminizing them. The noun elenkhos ‘disgrace’ is meant to shame the persons insulted by the poetics of blame. [[GN 2016.06.264.]]

I.02.241–242

subject heading(s): Thersites insults Achilles
Here the words of blame uttered by Thersites insult Achilles, calling into question the motives of that hero. It is as if the anger of Achilles were not real. This kind of misrepresentation by way of blame poetry is described as ekhthrā parphasis ‘invidious side-wording’ in Pindar Nemean 8.32. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 263.]]

I.02.243

subject heading(s): Thersites as exponent of blame poetry; language of praise/blame; blame as foil for epic; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’

I.02.245

subject heading(s): blaming of blame
Thersites here is insulted by words of blame because he has used the words of blame to insult the noble. Nobility, when insulted by words of blame, can stoop to insult in return by way of using the same words. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 262.]]

I.02.246–264

subject heading(s): blaming of blame
Throughout this speech, Thersites is insulted by words of blame because he has used the words of blame to insult the noble. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 262.]]

I.02.246

subject heading(s): a-krito-mūthos ‘having words that cannot be sorted out’
The insulting language of Thersites is here being insulted in return: his discourse is described as a-krito-mūthos ‘having words that cannot be sorted out’. So, the blame poetry of Thersites is bad poetry. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 264.]]

I.02.247

subject heading(s): Thersites as exponent of blame poetry; language of praise/blame; blame as foil for epic; erizemenai basileusin ‘engage in strife against kings’; “speaking name” (nomen loquens)
Here again, the expression erizemenai basileusin ‘engage in strife against kings’ is a programmatic way of referring to the language of blame as a challenge to royalty. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 262-263.]]

I.02.248–249

subject heading(s): worst of the Achaeans
Just as Achilles and Odysseus are the ‘best of the Achaeans’, Thersites is the ‘worst’, according to the insulting words of counter-blame spoken by Oydsseus. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 260.]]

I.02.251

subject heading(s): oneidos (plural oneidea) ‘words of insult’

I.02.255

subject heading(s): oneidizein ‘say words of insult’

I.02.256

subject heading(s): kertomeîn ‘say words of insult’
This word kertomeîn ‘say words of insult’ is yet another term referring to the act of insulting by way of blame poetry. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 263.]]

I.02.265–268

subject heading(s): blaming of blame

I.02.268

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’

I.02.269–270

Thersites, by blaming the heroes of the Iliad, had intended to turn them into objects of laughter by way of ridicule. But the blame is reversed, and now it is Thersites who becomes the object of laughter. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 262.]]

I.02.275

subject heading(s): epes-bolos ‘thrower of words’
This word epes-bolos ‘thrower of words’ is yet another term referring to the act of insulting by way of blame poetry. A possible parallel is Latin iocus, if derived from iaciō / iacere ‘throw’. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 264; GMP 164.]]

I.02.277

subject heading(s): oneidos (plural oneidea) ‘words of insult’

I.02.299–332

Q&T via HPC 123–125; also HC 1§8.
subject heading(s): telos ‘fulfillment’ as the outcome of the epic plot; Shield of Aeneas; epic Cycle
Here in the Iliad, the telos or ‘fulfillment’ of the plot is being realized only in the form of a prophecy—by contrast with the epic Cycle, where the conquest of Troy is the ultimate telos. (On the epic Cycle, see the Inventory of terms and names.) There are comparable themes in Virgil Aeneid 8.615-629, 729-731, featuring the Shield of Aeneas. [[GN 2016.06.30 via HPC 123–125; see also HC 1§8 and C§§15–19 on the Shield of Aeneas.]]

I.02.299–310

subject heading(s): omen of the serpent; petrifaction; terror and pity
The omen of the serpent in Iliad 2 is comparable to the omen of the serpent in Virgil Aeneid 2.199–227. [[GN 2016.02.30 via HC 1§82; also HC 1§11 on terror and pity.]]

I.02.308

subject heading(s): sēma ‘sign, signal’; etymology of drakōn ‘serpent’; thelgein ‘put a trance on, enchant’ as an effect of visual attraction; thelgein ‘put a trance on, enchant’
The omen of the serpent that devours the nine birds is a sēma ‘sign, signal’ that calls for interpretation. This interpretation is needed, in terms of the poetry itself, for understanding the plot of the Iliad. [[GN 2016.06.30 via GMP 204; also HC 1§§83–84 and §121 on the poetics of enchantment as conveyed by the story about the drakōn ‘serpent’; also on the etymology of drakōn.]]

I.02.318

Q&T via HC 1§19
subject heading(s): omen of the serpent; petrification; arizēlon / aridēlon ‘most visible’; aïdēlon ‘invisible’
The serpent, once it is petrified, is arizēlon / aridēlon ‘most visible’; according to an alternative version, the serpent does not get petrified but rather is made suddenly aïzēlon ‘invisible’. [[GN 2016.06.30 via HC 1§§26–32.]]

I.02.319

subject heading(s): arizēlo- / aridēlo- ‘most visible’; aïdēlo- ‘invisible’; variant adduced by Aristarchus; athetesis; arizēlo- ‘most visible’
The reading aïdēlon ‘invisible’ at I.02.318, adduced by Aristarchus, is incompatible with this verse, I.02.319, which is accordingly athetized by him. (On athetesis, see the Inventory of terms and names.) [[GN 2016.02.30 via HC 1§§20–21, 26, 28, 32.]]

I.02.325

subject heading(s): kleos ‘glory’ (of poetry)[; kleos aphthiton ‘unwilting glory’ as something eternal, not just long-lasting]
The expression kleos oupot’ oleitai ‘its glory [kleos] will never perish’ (κλέος οὔποτ’ ὀλεῖται), as here at I.02.325, is parallel with kleos aphthiton estai (κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται) at I.09.413, which can be translated ‘the glory [kleos] will be imperishable [aphthiton]’. This parallelism shows that aphthito- at I.09.413 and elsewhere was understood to be not just long-lasting, as some have thought, but eternal. As for the interpretation ‘the glory [kleos] will be imperishable [aphthiton]’, we will see in the comment on I.09.413 that an alternative interpretation is also possible: ‘and there will be a glory [kleos] that is imperishable’. [[GN 2016.06.30 via GMP 123–126.]]

I.02.330

subject heading(s): sign of the serpent; teleîn ‘reach an outcome’; prophecy; poetics of unchangeability; concretization; petrifaction
The petrified serpent is equated with the story of Troy, and the word teleîn ‘reach an outcome’ here conveys the inevitable outcome of that story. The prophecy expressed by teleîn reveals a poetics of unchangeability in narrating the story. And the concretization of such unchangeability is visualized as the petrifaction of the serpent. The imperfective aspect of the verb teleîn ‘reach an outcome’ here is referring to the story of Troy as it is still being told, as it is still in progress. [[GN 2016.06.30 via HC 1§§12, 18, 61, 63.]]

I.02.401

subject heading(s): mōlos Arēos ‘struggle of Ares’; biē ‘force, violence, strength’
The expression mōlos Arēos ‘struggle of Ares’ refers to a war-dance. It is as if the violence of warfare were primarily a war-dance. To be compared is the Arcadian festive event of the Mōleia, which is a ritualized dramatization of martial biē ‘force, violence, strength’. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 332.]]

I.02.402–429

subject heading(s): late arrivals of Menelaos
Epitome from Nagy 2015§§103:
Menelaos seems to be idiosyncratic in his arrivals at sacrifices. A striking example is the passage here at I.02.402–429 where Agamemnon sacrifices an ox to Zeus, I.02.402–403, 422, and makes a wish-in-prayer, as expressed by the verb eukhesthai, I.02.411, that he will conquer the city of Troy, I.02.414–415, and kill Hector together with as many other enemies as possible, I.02.416–418. To attend this sacrifice as well as the feast that follows the sacrifice, Agamemnon invites six heroes, I.02.404–407. But the hero Menelaos is not included in this group of six. Nevertheless, Menelaos does manage to attend, arriving as the seventh hero, without having been invited to the sacrifice, I.02.408–409: rather, he comes automatos, which is conventionally interpreted to mean ‘of his own accord’, or, to put it into popular idiom, ‘automatically’, I.02.408. But the reason that is given here to explain why Menelaos comes automatos is uncanny: it is because, the narrative says, Menelaos can read the mind of his brother, I.02.408–409. [[GN 2017.03.29.]]

I.02.402–429

anchor comment on prayers heeded or not heeded by gods
subject heading(s): eukhesthai ‘pray’
Epitomized from Nagy 2015§85. Here at I.02.402–429, when Agamemnon sacrifices an ox to Zeus, I.02.402–403, 422, he makes a wish-in-prayer, as expressed by the verb eukhesthai, I.02.411, that he will conquer the city of Troy, I.02.414–415, and kill Hector together with as many other enemies as possible, I.02.416–418—all within the space of one single day, I.02.413. But Zeus refuses to bring this prayer to fulfillment, I.02.419—even though the god accepts the offering of the sacrifice, I.02.420, and even though Agamemnon and his guests go ahead and cook the meat after killing the ox, dividing the beef among themselves and then feasting on it together, I.02.421–429. Although the narrative leaves it open whether, one fine day, Agamemnon will still succeed in his wish to conquer the city, I.02.419, it is made clear that the present wish-in-prayer, as performed by the hero on the occasion of this particular sacrifice, is a failure, I.02.419. To paraphrase in Latin terms: the vōtum as a ‘wish-in-prayer’ is not granted here. [[2017.04.06.]]

I.02.408–409

subject heading(s): Menelaos mind-reader of Agamemnon
Menelaos in his thūmos ‘heart, mind’ knows what Agamemnon is feeling. [[GN 2016.02.30; see also PasP 191n14 with reference to Athenaeus 5.177ef.]]

I.02.408

subject heading(s): automatos ‘having a mind of his own’; dominant and recessive twins
Epitome from Nagy 2015§104:
Point 1. The ability of Menelaos to read the mind of Agamemnon indicates a special meaning for the adjective automatos here. On the one hand, if Menelaos comes to the feast ‘on his own’, then we can expect his mind to be ‘operating by itself’—which is the meaning built into automatos as a compounding of the element auto- ‘self’ with the element ma-t-, derived from the root *men-/*mn- meaning ‘mind’. So, Menelaos has a mind of his own. On the other hand, however, something unexpected is going on here: this mind of Menelaos, exceptionally, can read the mind of the brother, and so automatos in this context means not only ‘having a mind of his own’ but also ‘having the same mind’ as the brother has. In terms of this interpretation, Agamemnon and Menelaos have the same mind because they share their own selves with each other. On twin-like mythological patterns in Homeric descriptions of Agamemnon and Menelaos, and how these patterns affect their behavior and even their thinking, see Frame 2009:177, with a further reference at pp. 72–73 n. 156. Further, as Frame pp. 209–215 demonstrates, Menelaos in the Iliad consistently fails to take the initiative whenever he undertakes an activity together with his brother. In such situations, Menelaos is recessive in his twinned thinking, while Agamemnon is dominant.
Point 2. There is an allusion in Plato Symposium 174b-d to the wording here in I.02.408. And, on the basis of Athenaeus 1.8a, we can reconstruct a relevant proverb, to which Plato’s text is also alluding. This proverb can be reconstructed as αὐτόματοι δ’ ἀγαθοὶ ἀγαθῶν ἐπὶ δαῖτας ἴασι ‘automatically do the noble go to the feasts of the noble’. In such a context, I add, not only does each noble person have ‘a mind of his own’: that mind is also the ‘same’ mind that the other noble persons have. The point is, ‘like-minded’ or ‘same-minded’ people congregate with each other automatically at dinners. [[GN 2017.03.29.]]

I.02.431

subject heading(s): dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’

I.02.484–487

Q&T I.02.485–486 via BA 16, 271.
subject heading(s): performance & composition; kleos ‘glory’ as ‘the thing heard [kluein]’
The immediacy of the Master Narrator’s performance here is counterbalanced by an attitude of remoteness from the composition. Such a counterbalance indicates the Narrator’s deference to the epic tradition of Homeric poetry. The Narrator does not claim that he knows the tradition: instead, he says he just ‘hears’ it from the Muses, and this act of ‘hearing’ is kleos, derived from the verb kluein ‘hear’. The literal meaning of kleos as ‘the thing heard’ has an enormous prestige that translates into the idealized meaning of ‘glory, fame’ as applied to the composition and performance of Homeric poetry. The Narrator of Homeric poetry is proud of his capacity to ‘hear’. To hear what? To hear ‘the thing heard’, which is kleos. This capacity translates into ‘glory, fame’ not only for Homeric poetry but also for the poet who performs the poetry. Such a poet claims access to both the form and the content of what he ‘hears’ the Muses tell him. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 16, 271; PH 148, 227, 422; PasP 61.]]

I.02.484

subject heading(s): re-invocation of Muse(s); ennepein ‘narrate, tell’; Mousa ‘Muse’; singing as narrating
lemmatizing: ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ' ἔχουσαι
In this verse, which can be translated ‘tell me now, you Muses who have your dwellings on Mount Olympus’, we see a rhyming of … Mousai, situated before the primary mid-verse word-break, with … ekhousai, situated before the verse-final word-break. Such rhyming is rare and archaizing. (On archaic patterns of rhyming in early Greek poetry, see Nagy 1974:99–101.) Of special interest here is the invocation of the Muses in the plural, to be contrasted with the invocation of the Muse in the singular at I.01.001. See the comment on I.02.761. On the poetics of re-invocation here, there will be more to say in the comments on I.02.761, Ι.11.218, I.14.508, I.16.112. For now, it suffices to observe that the re-invocation of the Muses here at I.02.484 pictures these goddesses in the plural, by contrast with the singular Muse who had been initially invoked at I.01.001. There will be another invocation of the singular Muse at I.02.761, to be followed by invocations of plural Muses at Ι.11.218, I.14.508, and I.16.112. In the case of each invocation, there is a heightened level of poetic self-awareness about the importance of what is about to be narrated. Here at I.02.484, for example, the Master Narrator shows his concern about the need for accuracy in re-creating a comprehensive catalogue of essentially all the cultural ancestors of the Greek-speaking world. On other occasions of re-invocation, there will be comparable poetic concerns, as we will see in comments still to come. [[GN 2016.10.27.]]

I.02.486

subject heading(s): elliptic plural; Homer’s ‘I’ and Homer’s ‘we’
The ‘I’ of Homer is interchangeable with ‘we’. The ellipsis of successive ‘I’-s in this ‘we’ indicates a vertical succession of performers. [[GN 2016.02.30 via HTL 174.]]

I.02.488–493

Q&T via HTL 174–175
subject heading(s): re-experiencing of performance
|488 πληθὺν δ’ οὐκ ἂν ἐγὼ μυθήσομαι οὐδ’ ὀνομήνω, |489 οὐδ’ εἴ μοι δέκα μὲν γλῶσσαι, δέκα δὲ στόματ’ εἶεν, |490 φωνὴ δ’ ἄρρηκτος, χάλκεον δέ μοι ἦτορ ἐνείη, |491 εἰ μὴ Ὀλυμπιάδες Μοῦσαι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο |492 θυγατέρες μνησαίαθ’ ὅσοι ὑπὸ Ἴλιον ἦλθον· |493 ἀρχοὺς αὖ νηῶν ἐρέω νῆάς τε προπάσας.
|488 But the number [of Achaeans] I could not tell nor name |489 (not even if I had ten tongues and ten mouths |490 and a voice that was unbreaking, and if a heart of bronze were within me) |491 if the Muses of Olympus, of Zeus the aegis-bearer |492 the daughters, did not mentally connect [mimnēskein] me, (about) how many came to Troy. |493 But now I will say the leaders [arkhoi] of the ships, and all the ships.
The performer here is re-experiencing the here-and-now of his own performance. See further the comment at I.02.492. [[GN 2016.06.30 via HTL 175.]]

I.02.492

subject heading(s): mnē- ‘mentally connect, put the mind in touch’
What the Muses do is ‘put the mind in touch’: the translation of mnē- as ‘mentally connect’ is more accurate than ‘remind’, since the idea of ‘reminding’ in a language like English restricts the idea of mental contact to the past. But the idea ‘mentally connect’ as conveyed by the word mnē- is broader. This Greek word refers to mental contact not only with the past but also with the present and even with the future. The Muses have the power to put the mind in touch with times and places other than one’s own. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 17.]]

I.02.493

subject heading(s): prooimion ‘proemium, prelude’
We see here a transition from the prooimion ‘proemium, prelude’ that introduces the Catalogue of Ships to the actual narration of the Catalogue. The transition is formalized by way of picking up a basic idea from the prooimion. This idea, signaled by the word hēgemones ‘leaders’ at I.02.487 in the prooimion, is now picked up by the word arkhoi ‘leaders’ here in the first verse of the actual narration, I.02.493. For the etymology of prooimion ‘proemium, prelude’, see the comment on O.08.074. [[GN 2016.06.30 via PH 493.]]

I.02.540

subject heading(s): ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’
Here is the first Iliadic occurrence of the epithet ozos Arēos, which can be translated generally as ‘attendant of Ares’. The application of this epithet to a hero indicates that such a hero, as a warrior, is destined to become a ritual substitute for the war-god Ares. See the anchor comment at I.12.188. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 295.]]

I.02.546–552

Q&T via HTL 161
subject heading(s): Erekhtheus; Athena and Athens
|546 Οἳ δ' ἄρ’ Ἀθήνας εἶχον ἐϋκτίμενον πτολίεθρον |547 δῆμον Ἐρεχθῆος μεγαλήτορος, ὅν ποτ’ Ἀθήνη |548 θρέψε Διὸς θυγάτηρ, τέκε δὲ ζείδωρος ἄρουρα, |549 κὰδ δ’ ἐν Ἀθήνῃς εἷσεν ἑῷ ἐν πίονι νηῷ· |550 ἔνθα δέ μιν ταύροισι καὶ ἀρνειοῖς ἱλάονται |551 κοῦροι Ἀθηναίων περιτελλομένων ἐνιαυτῶν· |552 τῶν αὖθ’ ἡγεμόνευ’ υἱὸς Πετεῶο Μενεσθεύς.
|546 And there were those who held Athens [Athênai], well-founded city |547 which was the district [dēmos of Erekhtheus], the one with the mighty heart, whom once upon a time Athena [Athḗnē] |548 nourished, daughter of Zeus, but the grain-giving earth gave birth to him. |549 And she [= Athena] established him in Athens [Athênai], in her own rich temple. |550 There he is supplicated, with sacrifices of bulls and rams, |551 by the young men of Athens, each time the seasonal moment comes round. |552 And their [= the Athenians’] leader was Menestheus, son of Peteoos.
Pictured here is the installation of the hero Erekhtheus within the sacred precinct of the goddess Athena in Athens. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 192, with other examples of such a relationship between hero and goddess; also GMP 254; HTL 161; more on Erekhtheus in HC 1§138.]]

I.02.546

subject heading(s): Athena and Athens
The name of the goddess Athena and the name of the citadel of Athens were originally the same, as we see from O.07.078–081. [[GN 2016.06.30 via HTL 161.]]

I.02.547–548

subject heading(s): Gaia, Athena, and Erekhtheus; trephein ‘nourish’
Although Erekhtheus here is born of the goddess Gaia as ‘Mother Earth’, he is nursed by the goddess Athena. This division of labor between Gaia and Athena is signaled by the verb trephein ‘nourish, nurse’, revealing a pattern of differentiation between older and newer concepts of a mother goddess. In terms of an older concept, an autochthonous hero would be both born of and nursed by a mother goddess, visualized primarily as the Earth. We may compare the wording in Plato Menexenus 237b on Mother Gaia, ‘the one who gave birth, nourished [trephein], and accepted [them] into her care’ (τῆς τεκούσης καὶ θρεψάσης καὶ ὑποδεξαμένης), with reference to the Athenians as her autochthonous children. See HTL 161, with bibliography. [[GN 2017.08.07.]]

I.02.548

subject heading(s): Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’
For the first time in the Iliad, we see here the epithet Dios thugatēr (/ thugatēr Dios) ‘daughter of Zeus’, applied in this case to the goddess Athena. This epithet is also applied to other goddesses, most notably to Aphrodite. See the anchor comment at I.03.374.
[[GN 2017.04.12 via GMP 247–249; also 150n27.]]

I.02.553–554

Q&T via MoM 2§9
subject heading(s): homoios ‘similar to, same as; relativism/absolutism
The word homoios ‘similar to, same as, used in comparisons, is essential for understanding the semantics of relativism as well as absolutism in Homeric diction. See the anchor comment at I.05.441. [[GN 2016.07.06.]]

I.02.557–568

The narrative as presented here is significantly different from the corresponding narrative as presented in Hesiod F 204.44–51. [[GN 2016.06.30 via PH 73.]]

I.02.557–558

Tradition has it that the Athenian statesman Solon once cited these verses in the context of a territorial dispute between the city-states of Athens and Megara. Such a tradition shows that myths were used as juridical evidence. Especially useful were myths mediated by prestigious forms of poetry like the Homeric Iliad. In earlier phases of Homeric poetry when this medium could still be described as a living oral tradition, any verses that would commonly be recognized as part of this poetry could thereby become acceptable as a form of proof in arguing a territorial claim. In later phases of Homeric poetry, however, when it was no longer a living oral tradition, antiquarians were prone to interpret verses once cited in territorial disputes as interpolations promoted by those whose political interests were served by tampering with the textual transmission of Homeric poetry. [[GN 2016.06.30 via PH 320 and HPC 355.]]

I.02.577

Q&T of part of the verse, via BA 26
subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’
The Iliadic entitlement of Achilles as the ‘best of the Achaeans’ is confronted here with a rival theme: Agamemnon too claims the title. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 26.]]

I.02.580

Q&T via BA 27
subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’
This verse expands on the rivalry of Achilles and Agamemnon for the title of ‘best of the Achaeans’. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 27.]]

I.02.594–600

This negative encounter between Thamyris and the Muses in the Iliad is to be contrasted with the positive encounter between Homer and the Delian Maidens in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo. [[GN 2016.06.30 via PH 376; see also PasP 178 on the reportage of Pausanias 9.30.2 on Thamyris; more on Thamyris in HC 3§41n.]]

I.02.637

subject heading(s): red. vs. purple color-coding
The ships of Odysseus here are described by way of the epithet milto-parēioi ‘with cheeks of red’; at O.09.125, the same epithet describes generic ships. To be contrasted is another epithet for ships, phoinīko-parēioi ‘with cheeks of purple’, applied to generic ships at O.11.124 and O.23.271. Inventories of chariots in the Linear B tablets of Knossos show a parallel dichotomy of red and purple in descriptions of colors painted on chariots: the noun i-qi-ja ‘chariot’ is described as either mi-to-we-sa = miltówessa ‘red’ as in Knossos tablet Sd 4407 or po-ni-ki-ja = phoinikíā ‘purple’ as in Knossos tablet Sd 4402. [[GN 2016.06.30 via PasP 172n70.]]

I.02.653–670

subject heading(s): ktisis-poetry
We see here the earliest attestation of a reference to ktisis-poetry, which is a special form of poetry centering on the colonization of daughter-cities by mother-cities. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 140.]]

I.02.655–656

subject heading(s): phūlē ‘subdivision’
The division of the island of Rhodes into three cities is comparable to the division of any given Dorian city into three phūlai ‘subdivisions’. [[GN 2016.06.30 via GMP 285.]]

I.02.658

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’; kleos ‘glory’; bíē Hēraklēeíē ‘force of Hēraklēs’
The name of Hēraklēs is linked with the epic theme of biē in the sense of martial ‘force, violence, strength’; even the name of Hēraklēs can be formulated periphrastically as ‘the force of Hēraklēs’. [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 318.]]

I.02.663

subject heading(s): ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’
See anchor comment at I.12.188.

I.02.666

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’; kleos ‘glory’; bíē Hēraklēeíē ‘force of Hēraklēs’
See the comment on I.02.658. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 318.]]

I.02.668

subject heading(s): phūlē ‘subdivision’; kata-phūladon ‘by way of subdivision’
The tripartition of the whole island of Rhodes kata-phūladon ‘by way of subdivision’ is comparable to the traditional tripartition of many Dorian cities into three phūlai ‘subdivisions’. In Dorian societies comprised of three phūlai, kings are conventionally chosen from the second phūlē. Similarly in Indic traditions, kings are conventionally chosen from the second varṇa- or ‘subdivision’ of society. [[GN 2016.06.30 via GMP 285.]]

I.02.681–694

subject heading(s): homeland of Achilles
The first part of this micro-narrative, I.02.681–685, highlights various territories unified here under the leadership of Achilles, who sails in fifty ships with warriors originating from these territories, I.02.685. Relevant names of special interest here are: ‘Pelasgian’ Argos at I.02.681, Phthīē and Hellás at I.02.683, Myrmidónes and Héllēnes and Akhaioí at I.02.684. The second part of this micro-narrative, I.02.686–694, highlights the fact that the warriors who sailed on the fifty ships and were led by Achilles have lost their leader, since Achilles is now refusing to participate in the Trojan War. And a sub-part of this micro-narrative, I.02.689–694, retells the story about the anger of Achilles over the seizing of Briseis by Agamemnon. [[GN 2016.09.07.]]

I.02.689–694

subject heading(s): epic deeds of Achilles before the time dramatized in the Iliad; Achilles the Aeolian
The Iliad refers to a variety of epic deeds performed by Achilles, and the relative chronology of these deeds is in many cases situated before or after the time-frame of the Iliad as we know it. One category of deeds stands out: before he joins the other Achaean leaders at Troy, Achilles conquers various places that are culturally identifiable as Aeolian as a result of his conquest, and, in each case, he captures aristocratic women who are likewise Aeolian—but only as a result of their being captured by Achilles the Aeolian. For a definition of ‘Aeolian’, see the anchor comment at I.01.463. The significance of the Aeolian identification of Achilles—and, by extension, of the women he captured—is analyzed in the anchor comment that immediately follows, at I.02.689–694; also at I.09.128–131 / I.09.270–272 and at I.11.624–627. [[GN 2016.10.05.]]

I.02.689–694

anchor comment on Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 1
subject heading(s): Achilles the Aeolian; Briseis the Aeolian; conquest of Lyrnessos by Achilles the Aeolian; Chryseis the Aeolian; conquest of Thēbē by Achilles the Aeolian; Andromache the Aeolian; songmaking of Sappho/Alcaeus
These verses at I.02.689–694 focus on Briseis, war-prize of Achilles. An aristocratic woman, she was taken captive by Achilles when he conquered the city of Lyrnessos and killed her husband Mynes, who was defending that city, I.02.690–691. The story about the conquest of Lyrnessos by Achilles and about his capturing of Briseis stemmed from poetic traditions that were distinctly Aeolian in origin. And this Aeolian origin has to do with a most basic fact about the principal hero of the Iliad: Achilles himself was an Aeolian, and he originated from a poetic tradition that was Aeolian. Achilles was an Aeolian not only in the limited sense that he was born and raised in Aeolian Thessaly, to the west of the Aegean Sea: much more than that, the poetic traditions about this hero’s conquests of territories to the east of the Aegean, across the sea from Thessaly, shaped his identity as a prime hero not only for the Thessalians in the European mainland but also for all Aeolians, including the Aeolic-speaking populations that inhabited the coastal mainland of northern Asia Minor and the outlying islands of Lesbos and Tenedos. As we will see in the course of further analysis, it was the myths about the conquests of Achilles in the East, including the regions of Troy and beyond, that shaped the ultimately Aeolian identity of the Aeolic-speaking populations that inhabited those eastern regions—which as I noted in the anchor comment at I.01.463 included the islands of Lesbos and Tenedos as well as the coastal mainland of most of northern Asia Minor. The conquests of Achilles in that whole area can be interpreted as a charter myth that aetiologized a prehistoric or even non-historical “colonization” by Aeolians from Thessaly. (See Nagy 2011b:171–173.) It is in this light that we may view the hero’s conquest of Lyrnessos, which was a city located in the region of Troy, south of Mount Ida. For more details about the location of Lyrnessos, see the comment on I.20.089–102. The conquest of Lyrnessos by Achilles was part of the myths conveyed by Aeolian poetic traditions, and that is how the captive woman Briseis becomes part of that tradition. In other words, Briseis is figured as an Aeolian because she is appropriated by the Aeolian poetic tradition. Likewise, as we see at I.02.691 here, Achilles conquered not only the city of Lyrnessos but also the city of Thēbē. This parallelism of Lyrnessos and Thēbē is most significant, as we will now see. Thēbē was originally not an Aeolian city, and the non-Aeolian identity of Thēbē is accentuated by way of a detail: as we read at I.06.397 and at I.06.415, the inhabitants of Thēbē before its destruction by Achilles had been non-Greek Kilikes ‘Cilicians’. And there is a striking parallelism here between Thēbē and Lyrnessos: the same non-Greek population had reportedly inhabited Lyrnessos as well. We read in Strabo 13.1.7 C586 that the region of the Kilikes was evenly divided between the cities of Thēbē and Lyrnessos. Nevertheless, as in the case of Lyrnessos, the poetic tradition about the conquest of Thēbē by Achilles was Aeolian. And when Achilles conquered the city of Thēbē, as we see at I.01.366–369, he captured there an aristocratic woman named Chryseis. So, as in the case of Briseis, Chryseis too becomes an Aeolian by virtue of being apppropriated by the Aeolian poetic tradition about the conquests of the Aeolian hero Achilles. In the case of Chryseis, she was allotted by the Achaeans to Agamemnon as his very own war-prize, Ι.01.369, while Briseis had been allotted to Achilles, Ι.01.392. (For background on the Aeolian poetic traditions about Briseis and Chryseis, I strongly recommend the work of Dué 2002 and 2006, listed in the Bibliography.) And now we come to a third aristocratic woman who is likewise identified by way of parallel Aeolian connections: she is Andromache, wife of Hector. Just as Achilles captured the women Chryseis and Briseis when he conquered the cities of Thēbē and Lyrnessos respectively, so too Achilles would have captured Andromache at the same time—if she had not been already married off to Hector, who had brought her as his bride to Troy before the Achaeans ever even arrived at Troy. Andromache originated from the city of Thēbē, as we see at I.06.394–396, and we have already seen at I.01.366–369 that Thēbē was the place where Achilles captured Chryseis when he conquered that city. The father of Andromache, Eëtion, was the king of the Kilikes who had inhabited the city of Thēbē, I.06.395–398, and he was killed by Achilles when that hero conquered this city, I.06.416–420. There is an important parallel noted by Strabo 13.1.7 C586 (also 13.1.61 C611–612): the husband of Briseis, Mynes, was evidently the king of the other Kilikes who had inhabited the city of Lyrnessos; Strabo draws attention to this parallelism in the context of citing I.02.691 and I.19.295, both of which verses refer to the time when Achilles conquered Lyrnessos and killed Mynes. In sum, all three of the women who are highlighted in these Iliadic contexts—Chryseis, Briseis, and Andromache—were appropriated by the Aeolian poetic traditions about the conquests of Achilles the Aeolian. And such Aeolian poetic traditions of songmaking are directly attested in Song 44 of Sappho about the wedding of Hector and Andromache. The songs attributed to Sappho as also to Alcaeus, both of whom are dated around 600 BCE, originate from the Aeolian island of Lesbos. There will be more to say about these traditions in the anchor comment at I.09.128–131 / 270–272 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 2. See also anchor comment at I.09.128–131 and at I.09.270–272 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 2; and anchor comment at I.11.624–627 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 3. [[GN 2016.06.30 via HPC 243.]]

I.02.695–709

Q&T via H24H 14§13
subject heading(s): Protesilaos; potheîn ‘long for’; hero cult; cult hero
This micro-narrative tells how Protesilaos, who was the first Achaean to die in the Trojan War, was sorely missed by his people back home in his native land of Thessaly. At I.02.703 and I.02.709, it is said that the natives of this land ‘feel a longing’ for the hero after his death at Troy, and this ‘longing’ is expressed by way of the verb potheîn ‘long for, desire’. The wording here, it can be argued, shows an indirect reference to the worship of Protesilaos as a cult hero. [[GN 2016.06.30 via H24H 14§§13–14; HPC 162.]]

I.02.704

subject heading(s): ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’
See anchor comment at I.12.188.

I.02.745

subject heading(s): ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’
See anchor comment at I.12.188.

I.02.760–770

Q&T 760–761 and 769 via BA 27
subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; ring-composition
The Master Narrator addresses here a singular Muse: see the comment on I.02.761. The Muse is asked for an answer to the Iliadic question: who is the ‘best of the Achaeans’? The answer of the Muse is that Achilles is the best—and that Ajax is the second-best within the framework of the Iliad. The formulation of the Muse’s answer is an exquisite exercise in ring-composition. [[GN 2016.02.30 via BA 27; PasP 61–62 on I.02.761.]]

I.02.761

subject heading(s): re-invocation of Muse(s); ennepein ‘narrate, tell’; Mousa ‘Muse’; singing as narrating
Unlike what we see at I.02.484, I.02.761, Ι.11.218, I.14.508, I.16.112, where the Muses are invoked as plural goddesses, the Muse here at I.02.761 is invoked as a singular goddess. And the Muse is of course singular also at the beginning of the Iliad, I.01.001, and at the beginning of the Odyssey, O.01.001. Similarly in the First Song of Demodokos, O.08.73–82, which is featured as a proto-Iliad, there is a singular Muse that inspires the singer of tales at the beginning of his performance, at O.08.073; so also in the Third Song of Demodokos, O.08.499–533, when the singer of tales marks the beginning of his performance at O.08.499, the anonymous ‘divinity’ that he invokes at that point is a theos, in the singular. Short-term, this theos ‘divinity’ can be understood to be either Apollo or ‘the Muse’, as the disguised Odysseus himself remarks at O.08.488. Long-term, however, Apollo and the Muses are surrogates here for Zeus himself, who at O.13.025 is finally identified as the transcendent source of inspiration for the singing of Demodokos. The figuring of Zeus as such a transcendent source was traditionally considered to be a signature, as it were, of ‘Homer’ himself, as we read in the reference at Pindar Nemean 2.1–3 to the Homēridai, a guild of singers from Chios who claimed, as ‘descendants of Homer’, to be the legitimate transmitters of ‘Homer’ as their poetic ancestor. An example of such a reference is the wording at the very beginning of Pindar Nemean 2.1–3: ὅθεν περ καὶ Ὁμηρίδαι | ῥαπτῶν ἐπέων τὰ πόλλ᾿ ἀοιδοί | ἄρχονται, Διὸς ἐκ προοιμίου ‘(starting) from the point where [hothen] the Homēridai, singers, most of the time [ta polla] begin [arkhesthai] their stitched-together words, from the prelude [prooimion] of Zeus …’ [[GN 2016.10.22 via HPC 103–109.]]

I.02.811–815

subject heading(s): kolōnē ‘tumulus’; kolōnos ‘tumulus’; language of immortals vs. language of mortals; polu-skarthmos ‘taking many leaps and bounds’
The word kolōnē ‘tumulus’ here at I.02.811 refers to the place where, as we read further at I.02.814, the sēma ‘tomb’ of an otherworldly femaie named Murinē is located; she is pictured here as polu-skarthmos ‘taking many leaps and bounds’. We may compare the word kolōnē ‘tumulus’ here to the word kolōnos ‘tumulus’ referring to the tomb of Protesilaos in Philostratus On heroes 9.1, where this same tomb is also called a sēma at 9.3, and to the tomb of Achilles in On heroes 51.12, where that same tomb is also called a sēma at 53.11 (also at 51.2, 52.3). The naming of the location known as ‘the sēma of Murinē who takes many leaps and bounds’ is said at I.02.814 to originate from the language of the immortal gods, whereas the same location is said at I.02.813 to be called Batieia in the language of mortal men. [[GN 2016.02.30 via HPC 166; H24H 14§§24–25.]]

I.02.829

subject heading(s): anthropogony; mantis ‘seer’
There is a wide variety of myths about anthropogony. According to one version, the first human was the first mantis ‘seer’. According to another version, the first human was generated from a tree. And such versions may overlap with one another. [[GN 2016.06.30 via GMP 198.]]

I.02.831–832

subject heading(s): anthropogony; mantis ‘seer’

I.02.835

subject heading(s): anthropogony; mantis ‘seer’

I.02.842

subject heading(s): ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’
See anchor comment at I.12.188.

I.02.867–869

subject heading(s): Ionian Dodecapolis; Samos; Chios; Miletus; Carians; barbarophōnoi ‘speaking a barbarous language’
In Homeric poetry, both in the Iliad and Odyssey, there is a pattern of avoidance in making overt references to the twelve confederated states known as the Ionian Dodecapolis. In Herodotus 1.142.3, the locations of these states are listed as follows: Miletus, Myous, Priene, Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedos, Teos, Klazomenai, Phocaea, the island-states of Samos and of Chios, and, lastly, Erythrai. (See under Ionian Dodecapolis in the Inventory of terms and names.) Even in the two exceptional cases where Homeric poetry refers to any of these locations, what gets highlighted is merely the place, not the status of that place as a city-state or, when it comes to Chios and Samos, as an island-state. In one of these two exceptional cases, the mention of Chios at Ο.03.170 and at O.03.172 refers not to the famous island-state that Chios eventually became but simply to the island. In the other case, which we have here at I.02.868, the mention of Miletus refers not to the spectacularly famous polis or ‘city-state’ that Miletus eventually became but simply to the city—and this city is supposedly not even Greek as of yet. It is as if the Ionians had not yet settled Miletus: instead, Miletus at the time of the Trojan War is supposedly inhabited only by Carians, who do not even speak Greek: at I.02.867, these Carians who inhabit Miletus are described as barbaro-phōnoi ‘speakers of a barbarous language’. [[GN 2016.02.30 via HPC 227.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 3

2016.07.07

The Master Narrator of the Homeric Iliad is looking here at Helen for the very first time—or, to say it more accurately, as if for the very first time. Just as Rhapsody 2 needed a new Catalogue of Ships—or, again to say it more accurately—a renewed Catalogue, so also Rhapsody 3 needs a new look at Helen. It seems as if the Trojan War is happening all over again, starting from the very beginning. The old grievances of Menelaos about the abduction of Helen by Paris can now be renewed and even relived, becoming fresh new grievances as the estranged husband and the new lover proceed to engage in mortal combat. But this one-on-one struggle over life and death will soon modulate into a renewal of all-out war between the Achaeans and the Trojans.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig3
Figure 3. Menelaos pulling Paris by the helmet. Detail of Roman sarcophagus of Aurelia Botania Demetria (2nd c. CE); Antalya Archaeological Museum. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.03.038

subject heading(s): language of praise/blame; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; aiskhro- ‘disgraceful, shameful’; Hector; Paris=Alexandros
Hector quarrels with Paris, as signaled by the verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’. He aims words of blame at Paris, and these words are aiskhra ‘disgraceful, shameful’ because they are meant to make Paris feel ashamed. Hector’s words are shaming, since he blames things done by Paris that are perceived as shameful and disgraceful. [[GN 2016.06.07 via BA 256.]]

I.03.059

subject heading(s): language of praise/blame; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; aisa ‘portion; fate, destiny’; moira ‘portion; fate, destiny’; plot of the Iliad
In situations of strife among heroes as warriors, there is contention over status. Quarreling happens, as indicated here by way of the verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’. Positive things about each warrior need to be praised, but negative things need to be blamed. At stake for each contending warrior-hero is the honor that he is apportioned in the course of any contention, and the contention itself is expressed by way of negative and positive speech, that is, by way of blame and praise respectively. Such an apportioning of honor is the essence of a warrior-hero’s aisa, which is visualized not only as a portion of plundered goods that gets apportioned to each warrior after such goods are communally divided (as at I.18.327) but also, in general, as a warrior’s ‘fate, destiny’ (as at I.01.416, and so on). The same can be said about the word moira, which can mean not only a ‘portion’ of plundered goods (as at O.11.534) or even of sacrificial meat (as at O.03.066) but also, in general, ‘fate, destiny’ (as at I.06.488, and so on). What is at stake, in the long run, is the aisa or moira of each contending warrior-hero. And this aisa or moira, in the sense of a ‘portion’ that is being apportioned, becomes the warrior’s ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ in the poetry that tells about him. To restate in colloquial English: aisa or moira becomes the “bone of contention” in the language of praise and blame. Here at I.03.059 as also at I.06.333, Paris actually accepts the words of blame directed at him by his quarreling brother. He says that these words fit his own aisa, admitting that Hector’s words of blame here are kat’ aisan ‘in accord with aisa’ (κατ’ αἶσαν) and not huper aisan ‘in disaccord with aisa’ (ὑπὲρ αἶσαν). We find in Homeric diction comparable combinations of moira, synonym of aisa, with the same adverbs/prepositions kata ‘in accord with’ and huper ‘in disaccord with’, as for example in the case of kata moiran at I.09.059 (κατὰ μοῖραν) and huper moiran at I.20.336 (ὑπὲρ μοῖραν). Further, when the actual words of praise or blame fit the aisa or moira of a given warrior-hero, they will fit not only his destiny but even the overall plot of the epic, as at I.16.707 in the case of aisa and at Ι.16.853 in the case of moira. The plot of epic has a destiny of its own, and this overarching destiny integrates all the individual destinies of the heroes who populate the epic. [[GN 2016.07.07 via BA 287.]]

I.03.100

subject heading(s): eris ‘strife’; arkhē ‘beginning’; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; aineîn ‘praise’; language of praise/blame; Paris=Alexandros; abduction of Helen
The Trojan War is eris ‘strife’. See also eris ‘strife’ at Pindar Paean 6.50–53. That is how this war is seen in the words of Menelaos the Achaean, who claims a juridical grievance on the part of the Achaeans against the Trojans. In terms of the thinking revealed by these words, the beginning of the strife was the abduction of Helen, wife of Menelaos the Achaean, by Paris the Trojan. Accentuating the idea that this juridical grievance of Menelaos was an affair of state is the reference to Paris here by way of his princely name, Alexandros. In royal Hittite correspondences where the Hittite king speaks to and about the king of Ahhiyawa—which is the Hittite way of referring to the land of the Achaeans—we find occasional references to a princely figure by the name of Alaksandu, which is the Hittite pronunciation of Alexandros (Nagy 2015.07.22§25). By contrast, the name Paris is on the surface merely a shepherd’s name (on the symbolism, however, of the shepherd as a king-in-the-making, see Nagy 2009:309). In any case, the eris or ‘strife’ between the Achaeans and the Trojans was caused by ‘my strife’— according to Menelaos the Achaean. To say it more precisely in his words, the Trojan War was ‘because of my strife’ (εἵνεκ’ ἐμῆς ἔριδος). Correspondingly, the arkhē or ‘beginning’ of the strife as begun by Paris=Alexandros was ‘his beginning’ of that strife. To say it again more precisely in the words of Menelaos, the beginning of the Trojan War was ‘because of the beginning on the part of Paris=Alexandros’ (Ἀλεξάνδρου ἕνεκ’ ἀρχῆς). Here it is important to compare what was narrated in the Cypria, which as an epic belonging to a set of epics known as the epic Cycle. (On the epic Cycle, see the Inventory of terms and names.) In the Cypria of the epic Cycle as also in the Iliad, the Trojan War is likewise seen as eris ‘strife’. As we read in the plot-summary of the Cypria in Proclus 102.13–19 (ed. Allen 1912), it all began at a feast celebrating the marriage of Thetis and Peleus—a marriage that led to the conception of Achilles himself. It was the Will of Zeus that Eris ‘Strife’ personified would bring about a neikos ‘quarrel’ among the gods that would ultimately result in the Trojan War (Proclus 102.14/15 on Eris/neikos). As we see further in the plot-summary of the Cypria, Proclus 102.14–19, the Eris/neikos extends to the figure of Paris, who has to choose from among Hērā, Athena, and Aphrodite, Cypria/Proclus 102.14–19. This Judgment of Paris is recapitulated at I.24.025–030: the fact that Paris chose Aphrodite means that he aimed negative words at Hērā and Athena, as expressed by the verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’ at I.24.029 (νείκεσσε), while he aimed positive words at Aphrodite, as expressed by the verb aineîn ‘praise’ at I.24.030 (ᾔνησ᾽). These verbs aineîn ‘praise’ and neikeîn ‘quarrel with’ express both the social and the poetic significance of praise and blame respectively. [[GN 2016.07.07 via BA 219 and GMP 16.]]

I.03.125–128

Q&T via MoM 2§79
subject heading(s): pattern-weaving; diplax ‘pattern-woven fabric that folds in two’; porphureē ‘purple’; marmareē ‘gleaming’; huphainein ‘weave’; aethlos (āthlos) ‘ordeal’
Helen is seen here at I.03.125–128 for the first time in the Iliad. She is shown in the act of pattern-weaving. Instead of singing while weaving, she weaves her song into the web that she pattern-weaves. See also the comment on I.22.440–441, where comparable wording shows Andromache weaving a web of her own. In the case of Helen at I.03.125–128 here, the song that she weaves into her web is about the aethloi (āthloi) ‘ordeals’ of war suffered by Trojans and Achaeans alike—a war they suffered all because of her. The song of the Trojan War is the song of the Iliad—and it is Helen’s song. Purple is the dominant color of Helen’s web, matching the blood of war that stains her song. There also exists, however, a variant epithet for the web that Helen weaves at I.03.126: this diplax ‘pattern-woven fabric that folds in two’ is described in some medieval manuscripts as porphureē ‘purple’ but in others as marmareē ‘gleaming’. For more on this variant marmareē ‘gleaming’, see the comment on I.22.440-441 on the web of Andromache. [[GN 2016.07.07 via MoM 2§§79–82; on pattern-weaving, see also HPC 276; on aethlos (āthlos) as the ‘ordeal’ of war, see also PH 132, 154.]]

I.03.126

subject heading(s): en-passein ‘sprinkle’ (by way of pattern-weaving)
This word en-passein ‘sprinkle’ conveys a metaphor for the process of pattern-weaving. See further at I.22.441. [[GN 2016.12.23 via HPC 275.]]

I.03.147

subject heading(s): ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’
See anchor comment at I.12.188.

I.03.164

subject heading(s): aitios ‘responsible’; Will of Zeus; abduction of Helen
By referring to the will of the gods in general instead of the Will of Zeus in particular, Priam avoids saying directly that the abduction of Helen is part of the overarching plot of the Homeric Iliad. [[GN 2016.07.07 via PH 238.]]

I.03.237

subject heading(s): Kastōr and Poludeukēs
Kastōr and Poludeukēs, latinized as Castor and Pollux, are the Divine Twins, sons of Zeus. Another name for them is Dioskouroi ‘sons of Zeus’. Kastōr and Poludeukēs are also mentioned at O.11.300. The wording of I.03.237 and of O.11.300 is cognate with the wording we find a fragment of Stesichorus: see PH 458. (On the etymology of Poludeúkēs, I epitomize from PasP 51.) The noun Poludeúkēs as a name is straightforwardly related to the adjective poludeukḗs, in that the recessive accent of the name is typical of the naming function, as we see from such morphologically related formations as Poluneíkēs ‘having many quarrels [es-stem neîkos]’ or ‘having quarrels in many different ways’ (or ‘many times’). In the mythological functions of the divine figure Poludeúkēs, the idea of continuity, conveyed by the root *deuk-, seems as evident as that of variety, since the Divine Twins are models of consistency, perseverance, reliability (as in Homeric Hymn 33). In an astrological sense, we could say that Poludeúkēs, in the role of Morning Star, is ‘repeating many times’, the symbol of many happy returns. (On the Divine Twins as alternating Morning Star / Evening Star, I offer an analysis in GM 258–259.) And the repetition can be visualized as a cyclical one—a pattern of eternal return. There is a striking semantic and morphological parallel in poluderkḗs ‘seeing in many different ways’ (or ‘many times’), epithet of the dawn-goddess Ēōs in Hesiod (Theogony 451). [[GN 2017.06.08.]]

I.03.242

subject heading(s): aiskhos (plural aiskhea) ‘disgrace, shame’; oneidos (plural oneidea) ‘words of insult’
The noun aiskhos ‘disgrace, shame’ is used here as a synonym of the noun oneidos ‘words of insult’. [[GN 2016.07.07 via BA 255.]]

I.03.284

subject heading(s): xanthos/xanthē ‘golden’ (with reference to hair); epithet; immortalization; Achilles; Menelaos
The epithet xanthos ‘golden’ (with reference to hair) is a stylized signal of a mystical immortalization after death for mortal heroes in Homeric poetry. In the case of Menelaos, his immortalization is prophesied at Ο.04.561–569. [[GN 2016.07.07 via BA 210.]]

I.03.374

anchor comment on Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’
subject heading(s): Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’
The epithet Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’, applied here to Aphrodite, can signal the beneficence of such goddesses toward privileged heroes like, in this case, Paris=Alexandros. In general, this epithet is applied to the following goddesses: Aphrodite, as here at I.03.374, also at I.05.131 and I.05.312; Athena at I.02.548 and I.04.128 and I.04.515; Artemis at O.20.061; Persephone at O.11.217; Ate at I.19.091; the Muses at I.02.491–492 (plural) and O.01.010 (singular); finally, Helen at O.04.227 (see the comment there). This epithet Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’ is cognate with Vedic Sanskrit divás duhitár- (/ duhitár- divás) ‘daughter of the sky[-god]’, epithet of Uṣas-, goddess of the dawn, whose name actually means ‘dawn’. The Greek divinities Ēōs and Helios—Ēōs means ‘Dawn’ and Hēlios means ‘Sun’—are comparable to (and cognate with) the Indic divinities Uṣas- ‘Dawn’ and Sūrya- ‘Sun’. In Homeric diction, however, Ēōs the goddess of the dawn is never described by the epithet thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’, and this fact corresponds to another fact: Homeric tradition preserves no myth about Ēōs as a daughter of Zeus. Ēōs is conventionally described as rhododaktulos ‘rosy-fingered’, an epithet that has the same metrical shape as thugatēr Dios, uu–uu. For more on rhododaktulos as an epithet for Ēōs the goddess of the dawn, see the comment at O.12.1–010 on Ōkeanos. [[GN 2017.04.12 via BA 205 and GMP 16; also via GMP 247–249.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 4

2016.07.21

The Trojan War is being fought here as if for the very first time. There is a sense of novelty at first in contemplating all the violent woundings and deaths yet to follow. Of special interest is all the beautiful detail lavished on the wounding of Menelaos: it is as if his bleeding wound here could be pictured as the original trauma of the Trojan War.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig4
Figure 4. The healer Makhaon attends to the wounded Menelaos. Engraving by Francesco Nenci for an edition of the Iliad published in 1838.

I.04.048

subject heading(s): dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’; isos/isē ‘equitable’; daiesthai ‘feast, divide (meat), apportion, distribute’; Strife Scene
A deeper meaning of the noun dais is revealed here in the wording of Zeus, who says that his bōmos ‘altar’—which is ‘mine’, he adds—has never lacked an equitable dais or ‘portion’ of sacrificial meat whenever Priam and the people of Troy sacrificed to him. This wording reveals that a dais is not only a ‘feast’ but also a sacrifice to the gods. See the comment on I.01.423–425. The division of meat on the occasion of a dais necessarily concerns immortals as well as mortals, and the epithet isē ‘equitable’ referring to the dais or ‘division of portions’ here concerns primarily the god Zeus himself. It looks as if the word dais can evoke a primordial time when immortals and mortals once actually feasted together at one table, as it were. [[GN 2016.07.21 via BA 218.]]

I.04.110

subject heading(s): ar-ar-iskein ‘fit together, join together’; tektōn ‘carpenter, joiner’; collocation
The collocation ērare tektōn (ἤραρε τέκτων) ‘the joiner joined together’ is relevant to the etymologies of both the verb and the noun here, which are respectively ar-ar-iskein ‘fit together, join together’ and tektōn ‘carpenter, joiner’. Although the Indo-European verb-root from which tektōn is derived, *tek(s)-, is no longer attested in Greek, it does in fact survive in Latin as texō, which can refer to the craft of woodworking, not only the craft of weaving. Correspondingly, although there is no Greek attestation of an abstract noun *ar-ti- derived from the verb-root of ar-ar-iskein, such a noun does in fact survive in Latin as ars , artis ‘craft’. [[GN 2016.07.21 via BA 300.]]

I.04.118–121

subject heading(s): eukhesthai ‘pray’
Epitomized from Nagy 2015§85. When the hero Pandaros makes his announcement-in-prayer, as expressed by the verb eukhesthai, I.04.119, he says that he will perform an animal sacrifice, I.04.120, in hopes that Apollo, the god to whom he is praying, will grant him what he is wishing for, which is a safe homecoming, I.04.121. But the wish—and therefore the prayer—is a failure, since Pandaros will soon be killed on the battlefield, I.05.290-296. To paraphrase in cognate Latin terms: the vōtum as an ‘announcement-in-prayer’ is a failure here because the same vōtum as a ‘wish-in-prayer’ is not fulfilled: the hero Pandaros will never return home safe and sound. [[GN 2017.04.06.]]

I.04.128

subject heading(s): Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’
The epithet Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’, applied here to Athena, can signal the beneficence of such goddesses toward privileged heroes like, in this case, Menelaos. [[GN 2016.07.21 via BA 205 and GMP 128.]]

I.04.178-179

Q&T via GMP 299
subject heading(s): syntax of expressing wishes
The syntax here conveys a wish for a general situation based on a specific situation. [[GN 2016.07.21 via GMP 299.]]

I.04.183

subject heading(s): xanthos/xanthē ‘golden’ (with reference to hair); epithet; immortalization; Achilles; Menelaos
The epithet applied to the hair of Menelaos, xanthos/xanthē ‘golden’, is a marker of the hero’s future immortalization. [[GN 2016.07.20 via BA 210.]]

I.04.196

subject heading(s): elliptic plural
The plural toxa here and at I.04.206 is elliptic: whereas singular toxon as at I.04.124 means ‘bow’, plural toxa as at I.04.196 and I.04.206 means not ‘bow+bow+bow+bow…’ but rather, elliptically, ‘bow+arrow+arrow+arrow…’. In other words, toxa means ‘bow and arrows’. [[GN 2016.07.21 via PH 177 and HTL 158.]]

I.04.197

subject heading(s): penthos ‘grief’; akhos ‘grief’; synonym
What is penthos ‘grief’ for the Achaeans becomes a kleos ‘glory’ for the Trojans. We see here a clear example of penthos ‘grief’ as a synonym of akhos ‘grief’ in Homeric diction. In the present context, the underlying sense of pain conveyed by penthos ‘grief’ is not only individual, made real by the wounding of the hero Menelaos: it is also collective, since the pain of Menelaos becomes a pain felt by all the Achaeans, who now find themselves on the losing side of the battle because they have lost Menelaos as leader—at least, they have lost him for the moment. The healing of the pain will be up to the warrior-physician Makhaon, son of the ultimate physician Asklepios. [[GN 2016.07.21 via BA 94.]]

I.04.227

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; Eurymedon; Sthenelos; Patroklos; chariot driver/fighter; “taking the hit”
This is the first Iliadic occurrence of the noun therapōn in the singular; at I.01.321, this noun occurs in the dual; at I.02.110, it occurs in the plural. Besides the surface meaning, ‘attendant’, we can see here some traces of the deeper meaning, ‘ritual substitute’. In Iliadic battle scenes, a chariot driver sometimes “takes the hit,” as it were, for the chariot fighter who ordinarily rides with him on the platform of the war chariot. In “taking the hit,” the chariot driver could die for the chariot fighter, and, in this role, the chariot driver is sometimes described as a therapōn of the chariot fighter. Thus the chariot driver becomes the ‘ritual substitute’ as well as ‘attendant’ of the chariot fighter. Also relevant is the word hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’, the first occcurrence of which in the Iliad is at I.05.231. See Nagy 2015.05.01, 2015.05.08, 2015.05.15, 2015.05.20. Such is the relationship between Achilles as chariot fighter and Patroklos as his premier chariot driver and therapōn in the dual sense of ‘ritual substitute’ and ‘attendant’: see H24H 6§§24–42. In the present context, we see that the hero Eurymedon, named at I.04.228, is described at I.04.227 as the therapōn of Agamemnon. Eurymedon is at this moment taking care of the horse team and chariot of Agamemnon while the king leaves him behind and goes off ‘on foot’, pezos, at I.04.231, in order to harangue the troops. Evidently, Eurymedon is pictured here as the chariot driver of Agamemnon, who is of course the chariot fighter and who has just stepped off his chariot. Potentially, then, Eurymedon as therapōn of Agamemnon is also his ritual substitute. The name Eurymedon recurs at I.08.114, where he is paired with Sthenelos, the chariot driver of Diomedes: the two of them are seen in the act of taking the disabled chariot and horse team of Nestor back to a zone of safety, I.08.116–117. In the act of taking care of Nestor’s horse team, both Sthenelos and Eurymedon are described at I.08.113—and already at I.08.109—as theraponte, which is of course therapōn in the dual. Evidently, Eurymedon is visualized as the therapōn ‘attendant’ of Nestor already at I.08.113, and the context there shows that he is also the designated chariot driver of Nestor: see the comment on Ι.08.076–117. Later on, at I.11.620, Eurymedon is explicitly called the therapōn of Nestor, functioning as the ‘attendant’ of the old hero: at this moment, Eurymedon is taking care of the horse team of Patroklos, who has just driven his chariot to the headquarters of Nestor as the old hero’s guest, I.11.618–622. [[GN 2016.07.21 via BA 292 and H24H 6§§24–42, Nagy 2015.05.01, 2015.05.08, 2015.05.15, 2015.05.20.]]

I.04.241

subject heading(s): neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; language of praise/blame
The verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’ here again marks the language of blame as opposed to the language of praise. [[GN 2016.07.21 via BA 258.]]

I.04.242

subject heading(s): elenkhos ‘disgrace’; language of praise/blame
The objects of blame here are those who hesitate in battle, described as elenkhees, plural of the adjective elenkhēs ‘disgraceful’, which is a derivative of the noun elenkhos ‘disgrace’, on which see also I.02.235. [[GN 2016.07.21 via BA 258.]]

I.04.313–314

Q&T via GMP 301
subject heading(s): wishes correlated with premises
The expression of admiration here is amplified by way of a wish. And the admiration is the premise for the wish. For more on this kind of correlation of wishes and premises, see the comment on I.18.464–466. I now offer a working translation of I.04.313–314: ‘Aged sir, if only it could be that, just as surely as the spirit [thūmos] within your chest is steadfast, | so also your knees would keep up with the pace, and that your force [biē] would be steadfast [empedos] as well’ (ὦ γέρον, εἴθ’, ὡς θυμὸς ἐvὶ στήθεσσι φίλοισιν, | ὥς τοι γούνατ’ ἕποιτο, βίη δέ τοι ἔμπεδος εἴη). [[GN 2016.07.21 via GMP 301.]]

I.04.327–328

subject heading(s): Menestheus
Menestheus, as the leader of the Athenians who came to fight at Troy, is stationed here next to Odysseus and Agamemnon. On the significance of such proximity, see the comment on I.12.331–337. [[GN 2016.07.21 via HPC 161.]]

I.04.368–410

Q&T I.04.404–410
subject heading(s): neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; language of praise/blame
Agamemnon starts quarreling with Diomedes, as signaled by neikeîn ‘quarrel with’ at I.04.368. The over-king’s language of blame here is meant to diminish the epic reputation of Diomedes and his chariot-driver Sthenelos, who were prominent heroes in the Theban Wars epic tradition of the past before they became heroes also in the Trojan Wars epic tradition of the present. Diomedes and Sthenelos were main characters in the epic tradition known as the Sons of the Seven against Thebes, or Epigonoi, while their fathers Tydeus and Kapaneus were the main characters in the earlier epic tradition known as the Seven against Thebes. In terms of the blame directed at Diomedes and Sthenelos by Agamemnon, the fathers must have been better than the sons. But the rejoinder of Sthenelos at I.04.404–410 make an opposite claim: the sons were really better than the fathers, since they succeeded in capturing Thebes, whereas the fathers failed. These epic themes are comparable to the Hesiodic reference at Works and Days 156–173 to both the Theban and the Trojan Wars: here too, the burning question is whether a given generation of heroes in the present is superior or inferior to the immediately preceding generation of heroes in the past. [[GN 2016.07.21 via BA 161–163.]]

I.04.386

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’; kleos ‘glory’; bíē Hēraklēeíē ‘force of Hēraklēs’; bíē Eteoklēeíē ‘force of Eteoklēs’
The periphrasis of the name Eteokléēs here as bíē Eteoklēeíē is comparable to the periphrasis of the name Hērakléēs as biē Hēraklēeíē. See the comment on I.02.658. The element kleos in these names of Hēraklēs and Eteoklēs signals an epic theme, so that the names Hērakléēs and Eteokléēs are simultaneously treated as the epics belonging to Hēraklēs and Eteoklēs. [[GN 2016.07.21 via BA 319.]]

I.04.389

subject heading(s): nīkē ‘victory’
This verse indicates that the goddess Athena can be responsible for the nīkē ‘victory’ of a hero in an athletic event, not only in events of warfare. In most Homeric situations, however, it is Zeus who is primarily responsible for heroic victory. [[GN 2016.07.21 via HC 4§109, with a survey of all Homeric situations where either Zeus or Athena awards nīkē ‘victory’.]]

I.04.513

subject heading(s): kholos ‘anger’; [Meleagros]
The idea of mulling one’s kholos ‘anger’, where a more literal translation of pessein would be ‘cooking’ or ‘digesting’ the anger, is a theme that marks the epic traditions about not only Achilles but also Meleagros, who is presented as a model for Achilles at I.09.550–605. The same expression about mulling one’s kholos ‘anger’ appears in the story about Meleagros, I.09.565. [[GN 2016.07.21 via BA 104; on the story of Meleagros, see also H24H 2§§43–53.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 5

2016.07.28

The momentum of the war is spirited, and the fighting mood of the warriors verges on overreaching. An outstanding example is Diomedes, who already owns a glorious past as a conquering hero in the epic tradition known as the Sons of the Seven against Thebes or Epigonoi. Now in the epic present of the Iliad he has a chance to outdo himself, performing deeds so glorious that they would outshine perhaps even the deeds of Achilles, who is now out of the picture. The successes of Diomedes reach the point where he is capable of feats that are superhuman, as when he lifts a rock that even two humans today could not budge—or as when he wounds the god of war himself, Ares, and then, shortly thereafter, the goddess of love and sexuality, Aphrodite. But such momentum is not to last, and the antagonism of Diomedes toward divinities will have its consequences.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig5
Figure 5a. “Aeneas and Diomedes.” Wenceslaus Hollar (Bohemian, 1607–1677). Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.05.048

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
In this context, plural therapontes indicates the ‘attendants’ of the king Idomeneus. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.05.059–064

subject heading(s): abduction of Helen; Paris=Alexandros
This micro-narrative about Phereklos, a master carpenter who built that ships sailed by Paris=Alexandros for the abduction of Helen, concerns epic events that precede the narrative arc of the Iliad as we have it—but these events are here explained as the real beginning of that same narrative arc. In terms of this micro-narrative, the plot of the Iliad—in the sense that the name Iliad means ‘the story of Ilion [Troy]’—was started or even caused not by the mēnis ‘anger’ of Achilles, as our Iliad says at the beginning, but rather by an event that preceded that anger. According to this micro-narrative, what really started the Trojan War was the abduction of Helen, which was the kakon ‘bad thing’ that caused all the subsequent bad things, as we read here at I.05.063. And, as predicted at I.05.064, this same event caused the ‘bad thing’ that is about to happen to Phereklos himself. All these events, taken together, thus become part of the overarching plot of the Iliad as we have it. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 299, PH 307]]

I.05.059–061

subject heading(s): ar-ar-iskein ‘fit together, join together’; tektōn ‘carpenter, joiner’; collocation; tektainein ‘build-as-a-carpenter’
The collocation of tektonos huion (τέκτονος υἱόν) ‘son of the joiner [tektōn]’ at I.05.059 with Harmonideō (Ἁρμονίδεω) ‘son of Harmōn’ at I.05.059 indicates three generations of ‘joiners’, in that Phereklos is a son of a joiner who is in turn a son of a jοiner. The grandfather Harmōn has a name that can be reconstructed as a noun *ar-s-mōn, derived from the verb ar-ar-iskein ‘fit together, join together’. And the grandson Phereklos is said at I.05.061 to have ‘built-as-a-carpenter’, tektainesthai (τεκτήνατο), the ships sailed by Paris=Alexandros for the abduction of Helen. This verb tektainein is derived from the noun tektōn ‘carpenter, joiner’, which is in turn derived from the verb-root *tek(s)-. No longer attested in Greek, this verb-root *tek(s)- survives in Latin as texō, which can refer to the craft of woodworking, not only the craft of weaving. (On verbal art as woodwork, see HC 2§282n.) [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 299.]]

I.05.063

subject heading(s): arkhe-kakoi ‘beginning the evil’
The epithet arkhe-kakoi ‘beginning the evil’ at I.05.063 describes the ships in the previous verse, at I.05.062. These ships, as we have seen, were sailed by Paris=Alexandros for the abduction of Helen. The ominous tone of the epithet, and its positioning in the verse immediately following the mention of the ships, is comparable to the ominous tone of the epithet oulomenē ‘accursed’ at I.01.02 in the verse immediately following the mention of the mēnis ‘anger’ of Achilles in the previous verse, at I.01.01, which is the beginning of the Iliad. Even the meaning of the epithet arkhe-kakoi ‘beginning the evil’ at I.05.063 indicates in its own right the beginning of an epic, though of course this beginning does not correspond to the beginning of the Iliad as we have it. Another point of comparison is the epithet dourateos ‘wooden’ at O.08.493, which is a verse that immediately follows the mention of the hippos ‘horse’ in the previous verse, at O.08.492. Here again we see an ominous mention: this wooden horse, the Trojan Horse, is the marker of yet another potential beginning of an epic narration. [[GN 2016.07.28 via HC 2§283n.]]

I.05.077–078

subject heading(s): ārētēr ‘priest’; ārâsthai ‘pray’; tīein ‘honor, give honor to’; tīmē ‘honor’; dēmos ‘community, district’; hero cult; cult hero

I.05.077–078

anchor comment on the expression ‘(and) he was honored [tīein] as a god [theos] in the district [dēmos]’ (θεὸς [δ’] ὣς τίετο δήμῳ)
subject heading(s): hero cult; cult hero; the expression ‘(and) he was honored [tīein] as a god [theos] in the district [dēmos]’ (θεὸς [δ’] ὣς τίετο δήμῳ)
Wherever priests (as here at I.05.077–078 and at I.16.604–605) or kings (as in other Homeric contexts: I.10.032–033, I.13.217–218) are said to receive honor as conveyed by the verb tīein ‘honor, give honor to’ (or by the noun tīmē ‘honor’ and the verb tīmân ‘honor, give honor to’, as at I.12.310), Homeric diction is thereby referring indirectly to the receiving of hero cult by a cult hero; such reception happens in the localized context of the dēmos ‘community, district’. The cult of heroes is parallel to, though in some ways different from, the cult of gods, but the cult of gods is likewise conveyed by the verb tīein ‘honor, give honor to’ or by the noun tīmē ‘honor’ and the verb tīmân ‘honor, give honor to’. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 149, GMP 132–133; see also Nagy 2012:67–68.]]

I.05.083

subject heading(s): Moira krataiē ‘fate, whose power has the upper hand’
This verse-final adjective krataiḗ can be explained as a morphologically leveled replacement of an older feminine form, to be reconstructed as *krataí-u̯i-ă and meaning ‘whose power [*u̯i-] has the upper-hand [krátos]’. The morphological leveling involves a replacement of the alternation *-́i̯ă-/-i̯ā́- by way of non-alternating *-i̯ā́-. [[GN 2016.08.25 via comment on I.09.002.]]

I.05.103

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; aristeiā ‘epic high point’; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc
This verse shows that the hero Diomedes has a chance to qualify as the ‘best of the Achaeans’, aristos Akhaiōn. In the long run, however, in line with the plot or narrative arc of the Iliad as we have it, Diomedes fails to qualify. Still, his greatest epic moments in the Homeric Iliad are traditionally known as his aristeiā (as in the scholia for I.06.448), which I translate here as ‘epic high point’. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 30.]]

I.05.173

subject heading(s): eukhesthai ‘declare’
Here the verb eukhesthai ‘declare’ expresses a hero’s superiority not overall but only in a one given area of heroic endeavor, archery. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 45.]]

I.05.231

subject heading(s): hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’
This is the first occurrence of the noun hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’ in the Iliad. Literally, the word means ‘he who holds the reins’. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.05.263–273

subject heading(s): Dardanidai; four-horse chariot
The genealogy of the Trojan Dardanidai is appropriated here into the genealogy of Athenian kings, and the references to a four-horse chariot team at I.05.271 is an Athenian signature. In the present action, however, at I.05.272–273, the four-horse team is reduced to a two-horse team, which is the canonical number for chariot teams in the Iliad. [[GN 2016.07.28 via HPC 210.]]

I.05.269

lemmatizing: θήλεας ἵππους
In the combination θήλεας ἵππους, the first-declension accusative plural in -as, positioned before a vowel, is scanned here as a short rather than long syllable. The attestation of such a form -ăs reflects not dialectal variation but formulaic simplification: an earlier complementary distribution of prevocalic *-ăns (which becomes -ās) and preconsonantal *-ăs is simplified, resulting in occasional instances of prevocalic -ăs. [[GN 2016.07.28 via GMP 62.]]

I.05.296

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’; psūkhē ‘spirit’; luein ‘release’; release of consciousness from the body
At the moment of his death here, the hero’s menos ‘mental power’ is released from his body, and this moment of release is expressed metaphorically by way of the verb luein ‘release’. Just as a horse is released from being harnessed to the chariot that it draws, as at I.05.369, so too the menos is released from the body. (On metaphor, see the Inventory of terms and names.) In the present context, the noun psūkhē ‘spirit’ is used as a synonym of menos. [[GN 2016.07.28 via GMP 88.]]

I.05.312

subject heading(s): Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’
The epithet Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’, applied here to Aphrodite, can signal the beneficence of such goddesses toward privileged heroes like, in this case, Aeneas. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 205, GMP 251.]]

I.05.369

subject heading(s): luein ‘release’; menos ‘mental power’; psūkhē ‘spirit’; luein ‘release’; release of consciousness from the body

I.05.370–371

subject heading(s): [Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’;] Diōnē
The function of Aphrodite as Dios thugatēr / thugatēr Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’, as at I.03.374, is reinforced here at I.05.370–371 by the designation of this same goddess as the daughter of Diōnē, which is a feminized version of the name Zeus. [[GN 2016.07.28 via GMP 258.]]

I.05.395–404

subject heading(s): Hēraklēs; Hādēs; Gates of Hādēs; Gates of the Sun; Pylos; entrance to the underworld
The wounding of the god Hādēs here with an arrow shot by Hēraklēs is associated with the place-name Pylos, Pulos, which is figured at I.05.397 here as a ‘gateway’ of the sun as it passes at sunset into the underworld. The name of Pylos as a place that can serve as a setting for ritual can stand for the name of a mythical place that is associated with the given ritual. Such a mythical place is the ‘Gates of the Sun’. By implication, the setting sun passes through the same gates as do the psūkhai ‘spirits’ of the dead who are entering the underworld. [[GN 2016.07.28 via GMP 225–226.]]

I.05.401

subject heading(s): Paiēōn;
In this context, Paiēōn (from Paiāwōn) is still distinct from rather than identical to Apollo. [[GN 2016.07.28 via HPC 290n61.]]

I.05.406–415

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; Diomedes; aristeiā or ‘epic high point’; wife of Diomedes; Aphrodite; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc
Although Diomedes is recognized as aristos Akhaiōn ‘best of the Achaeans’ here at I.05.416, in the present moment of his aristeiā or ‘epic high point’, this hero’s epic momentum is about to peak, and his martial superiority will soon recede. Further, the present verses at I.05.406–415 imply that something sinister will happen to Diomedes after he comes back home from the Trojan War. His wounding of Aphrodite, goddess of sexuality and love, will have its consequences. As we read in the scholia for I.05.412, there is a myth that tells how Aphrodite punished Diomedes: the goddess induced his wife, Aigialeia, to cheat on him back home by taking many lovers. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 31 on Diomedes as aristos Akhaiōn ‘best of the Achaeans’ here at I.05.416.]]

I.05.430

subject heading(s): thoós ‘running, swift’; Ares
The adjective thoós ‘running, swift’ is derived from the verb theein ‘run’. The god Ares is traditionally pictured as thoós ‘running, swift’; by implication, he is as swift as a violent wind. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 327.]]

I.05.432–444

subject heading(s): antagonism between immortal and mortal
Apollo is engaged here with Diomedes in a deadly form of antagonism between immortal and mortal [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 143.]]
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig5a
Figure 5b. “The Combat of Diomedes” (1776). Jacques-Louis David (French, 1748–1825). Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.05.438

subject heading(s): ‘equal to a superhuman force [daimōn]’; antagonism between immortal and mortal; ‘equal to Ares’
Diomedes is daimoni īsos ‘equal to a superhuman force [daimōn]’ when this hero dares to attack the god Apollo. Ultimately, he backs off. The use of this expression daimoni īsos ‘equal to a superhuman force [daimōn]’ here at I.05.438, and also again at I.05.459, goes to the core of the central idea of ritualized antagonism between immortal and mortal. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 30–31.]]

I.05.440–442

Q&T via MoM 2§31
subject heading(s): simile[; hoio- ‘such as’; enalinkio- ‘looking like’; īso- ‘equal to’; atalanto- ‘equal to’]; ‘equal to a superhuman force [daimōn]’; antagonism between immortal and mortal; ‘equal to Ares’
These verses show the fatally serious difficulties encountered in differentiating between mortals and immortals, in the context of similes comparing mortals to immortals by way of words like hoios ‘such as’ and enalinkios ‘looking like’; of special relevance are these two words: īsos ‘equal to’ and atalantos ‘equal to’. The idea of being īsos ‘equal to’ a divinity, as expressed already at I.05.338, is made parallel here at I.05.440–442 with the idea of thinking ‘in ways that are equal’, īsa, to divine ways of thinking, as expressed at I.05.441. These ideas are part of the larger idea, centering on a basic pattern of antagonism between immortal and mortal. [[GN 2016.07.28 via MoM 2§31.]]

I.05.441–442

subject heading(s): phūlon ‘grouping’; phūlē ‘subdivision’
The word phūlon marks a given group as distinct from another group. In this case, the grouping of mortals is marked as distinct from the grouping of immortals as superhumans. Comparable is the word phūlē, which I have translated as ‘subdivision’ in the contexts of I.02.655–656 and I.02.668. [[GN 2016.07.28 via GMP 290.]]

I.05.441

anchor comment on homoio- ‘similar to, same as’
subject heading(s): homoio- ‘similar to, same as’; metaphor; simile; antagonism between immortal and mortal
As the god Apollo says at I.05.441–442, the immortals as a ‘grouping’, phūlon, are different from mortals as a ‘grouping’, phūlon. So, he goes on to say, immortals and mortals are not the same. In the Greek, the ‘grouping’ of immortals and mortals is not homoio-, I.05.441. In terms of this negative context, then, the meaning of homoio- can be interpreted to be ‘the same as’. Meanwhile, the meaning of this same word homoio- in non-negative contexts can be interpreted to be ‘similar to’. In non-negative or let us say positive contexts, homoio- exemplifies the making of comparisons in the form of metaphors and similes.
In the case of metaphors, Aristotle himself actually uses the word homoio- in his own definition of metaphor, Poetics 1459a5–8:
πολὺ δὲ μέγιστον τὸ μεταφορικὸν εἶναι. μόνον γὰρ τοῦτο οὔτε παρ’ ἄλλου ἔστι λαβεῖν εὐφυΐας τε σημεῖόν ἐστι· τὸ γὰρ εὖ μεταφέρειν τὸ τὸ ὅμοιον θεωρεῖν ἐστιν
But the greatest use of words is the use of metaphor [tò metaphorikon ‘that which is transferable’]. This is the only thing that cannot be learned from someone else; and it is also a sign [sēmeion] of a-good-quality-that-is-inborn [euphuia], since the making of good metaphors [eu metapherein ‘good transference’] is the same thing as the contemplation [theōreîn] of what is similar [homoion] to what.
(What follows is epitomized from MoM 2§§6–7.) Now we turn to similes. This term simile is derived from the neuter form of the Latin adjective similis meaning ‘similar’, from which the English word similar is in turn derived. In English, a simile is signaled by expressions such as like or as or similar to. As for Greek, the primary word for signaling a simile is homoio- in the sense of ‘similar to’. But the etymology of homoio- shows that the meaning ‘similar’ derives from a more basic meaning, ‘same as’. From the standpoint of Indo-European linguistics, the Greek adjective homoio- (ὁμοῖο-) derives from homó- (ὁμό-) ‘same as’, which in turn derives from a prototypical form *somo-, meaning ‘same as’. The English adjective same is derived from this same prototypical form. Another derivative is the Latin adjective similis, meaning ‘same as’ or ‘similar to’. In the usage of both Latin similis and Greek homoio- (ὁμοῖο-), the same semantic principle applies: for A2 to be similar to A1, it has to be the same as A1 in some respect, which is X. Further, for A2 to be the same as A1, it has to be one with A1 in respect to X. That is because the Indo-European root *som- of *somo- ‘same as’ means ‘one’, as we see in such forms as the Latin adverb semel ‘one time’. And the idea of ‘one’ in words like English same has to do with an act of comparing. When we compare things, what is the ‘same as’ something else in some respect becomes ‘one with’ that something in that respect. That is how a word like Latin similis, deriving from the concept of ‘one’, means ‘similar to’ in the sense of ‘one with’. What is similis ‘similar’ to something else in some respect is ‘one with’ that something in that respect. Similarly in the case of the Greek adjective homoio- (ὁμοῖο-), it refers to something that is ‘one with’ and therefore ‘the same as’ something else in some respect. And, as we will see in the comment on O.16.172–212, if something else is not the same, then it is alloio- (ἀλλοῖο-) ‘a different kind’, which is the opposite of homoio- (ὁμοῖο-) or ‘the same kind’. As we will also see in that same comment, the extension -io- (-ιο-) of the two adjectives homoio- (ὁμοῖο-) ‘the same kind’ and alloio- (ἀλλοῖο-) ‘a different kind’ is parallel to the extension -io- (-ιο-) of the adjectives hoio- (oἷο-) ‘what kind’ and toio- (τοῖο-) ‘that kind’.
Here we loop back to what the god Apollo says at I.05.441–442: in a negative sense, immortals cannot be the same as mortals. Still, in a special positive sense, mortals can momentarily become the same as immortals when their identities merge in contexts of ritual. Such a special positive sense applies in situations of ritualized antagonism between immortal and mortal. In such situations, the mortal becomes one with the immortal—and can die as a consequence. That is what almost happens to Diomedes, but then he backs off. [[GN 2017.07.04.]]

I.05.459

subject heading(s): ‘equal to a superhuman force [daimōn]’; antagonism between immortal and mortal; ‘equal to Ares’
Retrospectively, Apollo in his own words is saying that Diomedes was daimoni īsos ‘equal to a daimōn’ when this hero dared to attack the god. The use of this expression daimoni īsos ‘equal to a daimōn’ here at I.05.459, and also before at I.05.438, goes to the core of the central idea of antagonism between immortal and mortal. Most relevant are the intervening verses at I.05.440–442. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 30–31.]]

I.05.473–474

Q&T via BA 146
subject heading(s): Hector; ekhein ‘hold, uphold, protect, guard’; “speaking name” (nomen loquens)
The “speaking name” (nomen loquens) of Hector, Hék-tōr, is morphologically an agent noun derived from the verb ekhein ‘hold’, which can have the specialized sense of ‘uphold’ or ‘protect’ or ‘guard’, as in the present context. The expected role of Hector is to protect the city of Troy, and the direct object of ekhein ‘uphold, protect, guard’ here at I.05.473 is polis ‘city, citadel’, referring to Troy. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 146.]]

I.05.500

subject heading(s): xanthos/xanthē ‘golden’ (with reference to hair); epithet
The goddess Demeter is the only divinity in Homeric poetry who is described by the epithet xanthē ‘golden’ (with reference to hair). [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 210.]]

I.05.541

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; Achaeans=Danaans=Argives
Aeneas here kills two Achaeans=Danaans, who are described as ‘the best [aristoi] of the Danaans’. But the use of the plural aristoi in the sense of ‘best’ does not convey the same kind of zero-sum competition among the Achaeans=Danaans=Argives as does the use of the singular aristos in the sense of ‘the very best’. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 32.]]

I.05.571

subject heading(s): thoós ‘running, swift’; generic/particularized epithet; Ares
The use of this adjective thoós ‘running, swift’ as a generic epithet of a warrior, as here, is related to the use of this same adjective as a particularized epithet of Ares as god of war, as at I.05.430: Ares is as swift as a violent wind. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 328.]]

I.05.580

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’
The hero Mudōn is identified here as both a therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’ and a hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’. The collocation of these nouns therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’ and hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’ in describing Mudōn here implies that he functions as a ritual substitute for an unnamed hero who is primarily a chariot fighter. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.04.227 via Nagy 2015.05.01 and 2015.05.08.]]

I.05.638

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’; kleos ‘glory’; bíē Hēraklēeíē ‘force of Hēraklēs’
See the comment on I.02.658. [[GN 2016.09.25.]]

I.05.639

subject heading(s): thūmoleōn ‘having the heart [thūmos] of a lion’; Hēraklēs; Achilles; Odysseus
In the Iliad, Hēraklēs as the only hero besides Achilles who qualifies as thūmoleōn ‘having the heart [thūmos] of a lion’; Achilles is thūmoleōn at I.07.228. In the Odyssey, Hēraklēs is the only hero besides Odysseus who qualifies as thūmoleōn ‘having the heart [thūmos] of a lion’, at O.11.267; Odysseus is thūmoleōn at O.04.724 and O.04.814. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 137.]]

I.05.646

subject heading(s): Hadēs; Gates of Hadēs; Gates of the Sun; Pylos; entrance to the underworld; pulartēs ‘gate-closer’
The idea of the ‘gates’ or pulai of Hadēs is a variant of the idea of a ‘gate’ or Pulos of the Sun, where the mythical idea of such a Pulos is parallel to the ritual reality of Pylos as a place where the myth is realized. By implication, the setting sun passes through the same gates as do the psūkhai ‘spirits’ of the dead who are entering the underworld. [[GN 2016.07.28 via GMP 225–226.]]

I.05.669

anchor comment on noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’
This verb noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’ is attracted to contexts where the subject of the verb is seen as taking the initiative. Here at I.05.669 is the first Iliadic application of this verb to the actions of Odysseus, who is specially linked with the meaning of noeîn, ‘take note (of), notice’. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 51.]

I.05.696–698

subject heading(s): psūkhē ‘spirit; life’s breath’; release of consciousness from the body; ana-pneîn/ en-pneîn ‘take a breath, breathe in’
At the moment of his fainting or swooning here, the hero’s psūkhē ‘spirit’ in the sense of his ‘life’s breath’ is released from his body. But then he ‘comes to’, as it were, and now his life’s breath returns to him. The verb that expresses this idea of revival is ana-pneîn (ἀμπνύνθη)—variant en-pneîn (ἐμπνύνθη)—in the sense of ‘taking a breath’—‘breathing in’. So, the hero’s breath comes back into him, and that is what had left him when his psūkhē in the sense of ‘life’s breath’ had left him. But if we take this same word psūkhē in the sense of a disembodied ‘spirit’, then the spirit that has come back to the hero’s body has not only revived him: it has brought him back to life. Such a mystical sense of revival is most appropriate to the hero Sarpedon when we view a later point in the narrative of the Iliad: after he is killed in battle, Sarpedon’s funeral leads to his mystical immortalization. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 168, GMP 142.]]

I.05.710

subject heading(s): dēmos ‘community, district’
In this context, the localized meaning of dēmos in the sense of ‘district’ is still overt. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 149, PH 251.]]

I.05.722

subject heading(s): kukla ‘chariot wheels’; kuklos ‘cycle, chariot wheel’ as a metaphor for the epic Cycle; Homēros as ‘joiner, carpenter’
The neuter plural kukla corresponding to masculine singular kuklos means ‘chariot wheels’. The metaphorical use of kuklos ‘cycle, chariot wheel’ with reference to the epic Cycle as the sum total of Homeric poetry is relevant to the meaning of Homēros in the sense of a ‘joiner, carpenter’ who makes chariot wheels. See the comment on O.17.384–385. (On the epic Cycle in general, see the Inventory of terms and names.) [[GN 2016.07.28 via PasP 74–75, HPC 255.]]

I.05.733–747

subject heading(s): peplos ‘robe’; khitōn ‘tunic’; pattern-weaving; metonymy; Athena Polias (goddess of the citadel); Athena Parthenos (goddess virgin); Gigantomachy ‘battle of the gods and giants’
When the goddess slips out of her peplos ‘robe’ and into the khitōn ‘tunic’ that belongs to her father Zeus, there is an intervening moment of nudity. (See MoM 3§1-3§7.) This passage shows (a) the complementarity of the peplos ‘robe’ and the khitōn ‘tunic’ worn by Athena and (b) the complementarity of her roles as Athena Polias (goddess of the citadel) and Athena Parthenos (goddess virgin) in the myths and rituals of Athens. This complementarity is re-enacted in the Iliad. (See MoM 3§§9–12.) We see in these verses a linearity that follows a sequence controlled by time in the Homeric reference to the Peplos of Athena. This linearity substitutes for the circular sequence of the Athenians’ charter myth about Athena and the Gigantomachy, which means ‘battle of the gods and giants’. The Iliad here shows a metaphorical substitution of the Trojan War for the Gigantomachy. (On metaphor, see MoM 0§01, 0§1 Extract 0-A.) For the Athenians, Athena is the primary narrator of the Gigantomachy by way of pattern-weaving the narration in her own Peplos as a masterpiece of metonymy. (On metonymy, see the Inventory of terms and names.) [[GN 2016.07.28 via HC 4§§101, 186, 195, 233; MoM 3§§20-28.]]

I.05.734–735

subject heading(s): poikilo- ‘patterned, varied; pattern-woven’; peplos ‘robe’; Panathenaic Peplos; metonymy; metaphor ; poikilma ‘pattern-weaving’; pan-poikilo- ‘completely pattern-woven’
The peplos ‘robe’ made by the goddess Athena is seen as a prototype of a perfect masterpiece of pattern-weaving. It is also a perfect masterpiece of metonymy coordinated with metaphor. (On metaphor and metonymy, see the Inventory of terms and names.) Further, the peplos ‘robe’ of the goddess is a prototype, in the world of myth, for the re-enacting of its pattern-weaving in the world of ritual in Athens. The peplos that is pattern-woven by Athena in Athenian myth is the prototype of the Panathenaic Peplos from the standpoint of Athenian ritual. The Panathenaic Peplos was pattern-woven for ritual presentation to the goddess Athena at the climax of the quadrennial Athenian festival known as the Great Panathenaia. [[GN 2016.07.28 via PasP 65; MoM 2§§56, 94–100; 3§17.]]

I.05.795

subject heading(s): ana-psūkhein ‘revive, reanimate’; psūkhē ‘spirit; life’s breath’; release of consciousness from the body; ana-pneîn/ en-pneîn ‘take a breath, breathe in’
In this context, the hero is simply ‘reviving’ from a wound; but there are intimations, already here, of a future reanimation or immortalization that awaits this hero after he is killed at a later point in the narrative. For more, see the comment on I.05.696–698. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 168.]]

I.05.839

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’
The description of Diomedes here as aristos ‘best’ implies that he is still in contention for the absolute title ‘best of the Achaeans’ in the Iliad. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 31.]]

I.05.843

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Aetolians’; ‘best of the Achaeans’
The description of the hero Periphas here as ‘best of the Aetolians’ can be seen as a subcategory of the all-important title ‘best of the Achaeans’. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 32.]]

I.05.891

subject heading(s): eris ‘strife’; language of praise/blame
The insulting of Ares by Zeus here is parallel to the insulting of Achilles by Agamemnon at I.01.177. For both Ares and Achilles, eris ‘strife’ is a defining feature. [[GN 2016.07.28 via BA 131.]]

I.05.899

subject heading(s): Paiēōn
In this context, Paiēōn (from Paiāwōn) is still distinct from rather than identical to Apollo. [[GN 2016.07.28 via HPC 290n61.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 6

2016.08.04

A high point here in Rhapsody 6 is a tearful scene of farewell for Andromache and Hector. The loving wife will never again see her husband alive. The scene is justly admired for its artistic portrayal of this tragically doomed couple, but the verbal artistry extends even further: also to be most admired here is the remarkable precision of poetic language in representing lament as it was actually performed in ancient Greek song culture.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig6
Figure 6. Apulian red-figure column-crater (ca. 370–360 BCE) depicting an intimate family scene: Hector removes his helmet as he says his final farewell to his wife Andromache and to their child Astyanax. Public domain image by Jastrow via Wikimieda Commons.

I.06.018

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; hup-hēniokhos ‘chariot driver’
The hero Kalēsios is identified here at I.06.018 as the therapōn ‘attendant’ of the hero Axulos, who is named at I.06.12–13. In the immediate context, at I.06.018, only the surface meaning of therapōn as ‘attendant’ is evident. But Kalēsios is not only the therapōn of Axulos: he is also described at I.06.019 as the hup- hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’ of Axulos. This description of Kalēsios not only as a therapōn but also as a hup- hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’ points to the deeper meaning, ‘ritual substitute’, for therapōn. [[GN 2016.08.04 via I.05.580–581.]]

I.06.053

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
In the immediate context, at I.06.053, only the surface meaning of therapōn as ‘attendant’ is evident. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.06.067

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; therapontes of Ares
In contexts where the plural therapontes in combination with Arēos ‘of Ares’ is applied to the Achaeans=Danaans=Argives (at I.06.067, to the Danaoi) as a grouping of warriors, the deeper meaning of therapōn as ‘ritual substitute’ is more evident than in other contexts. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.02.110 via BA 293–295; GMP 48; H24H 6§32.]]

I.06.090–093

Q&T via HPC 266–267
subject heading(s): peplos ‘robe’ for Athena; peplos of Athena; pattern-weaving; Panathenaic Peplos; split referencing
Helenos is telling Hector what to tell Hecuba to do, which is, to offer a peplos ‘robe’ for Athena as the goddess of the citadel of Troy. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.06.119–149

subject heading(s): nature/culture
The encounter of Glaukos and Diomedes prompts an exquisite meditation on the opposition of heroic mortality vs. immortality in terms of nature vs. culture. [[GN 2016.08.04 via BA 178.]]

I.06.271–273

Q&T via HPC 267
subject heading(s): peplos ‘robe’ for Athena; peplos of Athena; pattern-weaving; Panathenaic Peplos; split referencing
Hector is telling Hecuba what to do, which is, to offer a peplos ‘robe’ for Athena as the goddess of the citadel of Troy. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.06.209

subject heading(s): pateres ‘ancestors’; name of Patroklos; “speaking name” (nomen loquens)
The singular noun patēr ‘father’ has an elliptic meaning in the plural: pateres in the sense of ‘ancestors’. The “speaking name” (nomen loquens) of Patroklos, Patrokleēs, means ‘he who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors [pateres]’. See the comment on I.01.345. [[GN 2016.08.04 via BA 102]]

I.06.211

subject heading(s): geneē ‘immediate paternal lineage’; genos ‘paternal lineage’
The pair geneē/genos can be analyzed as marked/unmarked members of a semantic opposition: whereas geneē as at I.06.211 here refers specifically to ‘immediate paternal lineage’, genos as at I.06.209 refers only generally to ‘paternal lineage’. [[GN 2016.08.04 via BA 178.]]

I.06.286–311

subject heading(s): antagonism between immortal and mortal; hero cult; cult hero
The general hostility of the divinity Athena toward the Trojans in this narrative sequence, despite the fact that the women of Troy are shown here in the act of formally worshipping her as the divine protector of their citadel, can be correlated with a pattern of personal hostility felt by the goddess toward Hector as a hero who aspires to some of the same roles that Athena herself exemplifies. In the case of the verses here, I.06.286–311, this goddess is worshipped in her role as protector of citadels under siege: that is why Theano as high priestess of Troy prays to Athena by invoking her as erusi-ptolis ‘protector of the citadel [p(t)olis]’ at I.06.305. Like the goddess, Hector can be seen as an exponent of defensive tactics in protecting a citadel from sieges: as we saw in the comment on I.05.473–474, even his name fits his intended role as the protector of the citadel of Troy, since Hék-tōr is an agent noun derived from the verb ekhein ‘hold’ in the specialized sense of ‘uphold’ or ‘protect’ or ‘guard’. In the context of I.05.473–474, the expected role of Hector is to protect the city of Troy, and the direct object of ekhein ‘uphold, protect, guard’ at I.05.473 is polis ‘city, citadel’, referring to Troy. But the tragedy is, Hector will fail in the role of protecting Troy, since he will abandon strategies of defending the city and will opt instead for staying on the offensive against an enemy that will ultimately capture Troy. And a key to his failure, as we will see in the course of the macro-narrative, is the fact that Athena herself will delude Hector into staying on the offensive until it is too late for him to revert to a defensive role. Such a pattern of antagonism between immortal and mortal, it can be argued, derives from the ideologies of hero cult. [[GN 2016.08.04 via BA 147.]]

I.06.286–296

Q&T via HPC 267–268
subject heading(s): peplos ‘robe’ for Athena; peplos of Athena; pattern-weaving; Panathenaic Peplos; split referencing
Hecuba goes ahead and does what she has been told to do, which is, to offer a peplos ‘robe’ for Athena as the goddess of the citadel of Troy. The repetition of ritual wording in the sequence of three passages—from I.06.090–093 to I.06.271–273 to I.06.286–296—will culminate in a master plan, as it were, for performing the ritual of presenting the peplos ‘robe’ to Athena as goddess of Troy. What has just been described as a “repetition,” however, needs to be explained further (HPC 268):
In this sequence of three passages [I.06.090–093 to I.06.271–273 to I.06.286–296], we see three consecutive restatements of the same ritual act. I say three restatements instead of one statement and two restatements because none of the three passages is basic, from the standpoint of traditional formulaic diction. Not one of the three passages is formulaically predictable on the basis of the other two passages. To put it another way, the variation that we find in the three passages shows that none of the three forms is formally prior to the other two. What priorities we find are purely a function of the narration, not of any chronological order in the composition of the three passages. In terms of oral poetics, such variation is a display of virtuosity in the art of composition in performance. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.06.289–292

subject heading(s): variant readings; detours of Helen; pan-poikilo- ‘completely pattern-woven’
lemmatizing: παμποίκιλοι vs. παμποίκιλα
There are variant stories about detours experienced by Helen after her abduction by Paris. A trip to Sidon in Phoenicia is one such variant story. Besides the verses of I.06.289–292, which represent a longer variant reading, I posit also a shorter variant featuring one verse only, I.06.289 minus I.06.290–292. In terms of such a one-verse variant, no detour of Helen is mentioned here, and the reading for the epithet describing the peploi ‘robes’ would then be pan-poikiloi = παμποίκιλοι instead of pan-poikila = παμποίκιλα. Both variants of this adjective pan-poikilo- mean ‘completely pattern-woven’. In terms of the longer variant, the peploi ‘robes’ stored in the chest were pattern-woven by Phoenician women; in terms of the posited shorter variant, by contrast, these robes presumably would have been pattern-woven by Trojan women or even by Helen. Herodotus (2.116.1–2.117.1) argued that the longer variant was truly Homeric in its grandeur, contrasting it with the shorter variant that he knew from the epic Cypria of his day. The historian treats the unaugmented story of a direct voyage of Paris and Helen from Sparta to Troy as a foil for the augmented story of their Phoenician detour. The poet of the unaugmented story, as Herodotus sees it, is a foil for Homer as the rightful poet of the augmented story. [[GN 2016.08.04 via HPC 271; see also PH 420.]]

I.06.294

subject heading(s): poikilma ‘pattern-weaving’; pan-poikilo- ‘completely pattern-woven’; Panathenaic Peplos
The noun poikilma at I.06.294 refers to ‘pattern-weaving’ in a concrete and not an abstract sense: so, ‘pattern-woven thing’. The ‘pattern-woven things’ here are the peploi ‘robes’ described by the adjective pan-poikilo- ‘completely pattern-woven’ at I.06.289. These words pan-poikilos and poikilma, which refer to the peplos ‘robe’ that is being chosen for Athena, convey not only the general idea of variation, which is relevant to the variability of the wording that describes the ritual of presenting the peplos to Athena. More than that, they convey also the specific idea of pattern-weaving a picture into a fabric. Such a picture was pattern-woven into the Panathenaic Peplos of Athena. See the comment on I.05.734–735. The adjective pan-poikilos ‘completely pattern-woven’ is the epithet of the Panathenaic Peplos (scholia for Aristophanes Birds 827), and the noun poikilma designates the pattern-weaving of the charter myth of the Gigantomachy into the Panathenaic Peplos (Plato Euthyphro 6b-c). [[GN 2016.08.04 via HPC 270–271; see also again the comment on I.05.734–735.]]

I.06.297–310

Q&T via HPC 269–270
subject heading(s): peplos of Athena; pattern-weaving; Panathenaic Peplos; split referencing
With each repetition of the wording for the presentation of the peplos ‘robe’ to Athena as goddess of Troy—from I.06.090–093 to I.06.271–273 to I.06.286–296—the master plan seems to fit more and more the ritual of presenting a pattern-woven peplos ‘robe’ to Athena as goddess of Athens at the Athenian festival of the Panathenaia. On the Panathenaic Peplos, see again the comment on I.05.734–735; see also HPC 270. Looking back at the entire narrative sequence as analyzed here—I.06.090–093, I.06.271–273, I.06.286–296, I.06.297–310—I highlight two most salient visual details at Ι.06.297, namely, the citadel or acropolis of Troy and the temple on top of that acropolis. These two details correspond to the two most visible details distinguishing the city of Athens from most other cities. At work here is a process I describe as split referencing. The reference is split between Troy and Athens. The referent is both the prehistorical citadel of Troy and the historical citadel or acropolis of Athens. As for the narrative here at I.06.286-311 about the presentation of the peplos ‘robe’ to Athena, the peplos to be chosen is highlighted as the biggest of all the peploi (I.06.90, I.06.271, I.06.294). It is the peplos that is most ‘beautiful’ or kalon (I.06.294), with the most ‘pleasurable beauty’ or kharis (I.06.90, I.06.271). The size and the beauty of the fabric evoke a vision of the quadrennial Panathenaic Peplos, which is notionally the biggest and most beautiful of all imaginable peploi. As for the association of the word kharis ‘pleasurable beauty’ with the fabric, it is appropriate not only to the peplos that is being described but also to the medium that describes the peplos. That medium is Homeric poetry as performed at the quadrennial festival of the Panathenaia. The concept of kharis conveys the charisma of Homeric poetry as described by Homeric poetry. In terms of this description, the peplos in this narrative, I.06.286-311, can be seen as a metaphor for epic as performed at the Panathenaia. This epic is notionally the biggest and the most beautiful of all epics. Like the peplos that is being offered by the women to Athena, this epic as performed at the Panathenaia has more kharis than all other epics. [[GN 2016.08.04 quoting and paraphrasing from HPC 270–271.]]

I.06.325

subject heading(s): language of praise/blame; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; aiskhro- ‘disgraceful, shameful’; Hector; Paris=Alexandros
Hector quarrels with Paris, as signaled by the verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’. He aims words of blame at Paris, and these words are aiskhra ‘disgraceful, shameful’ because they are meant to make Paris feel ashamed. Hector’s words are shaming, since he blames things done by Paris that are perceived as shameful and disgraceful. [[GN 2016.06.07 via BA 256.]]

I.06.333

subject heading(s): language of praise/blame; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; aisa ‘portion; fate, destiny’; moira ‘portion; fate, destiny’; plot of the Iliad
Here at I.06.333 as also at I.03.059, Paris actually accepts the words of blame directed at him by his quarreling brother. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.06.402–403

subject heading(s): name of Hector; Astyanax; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); Scamandrius; Aeolian traditions about the Trojan War
The first name for the son of Hector, Astyanax [Astuanax], I.06.403, means ‘king [anax] of the city [astu]’. The meaning of this “speaking name” (nomen loquens) is relevant to the heroic function of the father as guarding a citadel from sieges. See the comment on I.22.506–507. The second name for the son of Hector, Scamandrius [Skamandrios], I.06.402, derives from a rival Aeolian tradition, here undermined by the prevailing Ionian tradition of the Iliad (HPC 203–205). According to this rival tradition, as we read in Euripides Andromache 224 (together with the scholia for that verse), Scamandrius was a bastard son of Hector who survived the Trojan War, to be distinguished from the legitimate son of Hector and Andromache, Astyanax, who tragically failed to survive. According to Aeolian traditions, Scamandrius not only survived the Trojan War but later became king of Troy (scholia T for Iliad 24.735). By contrast, according to the dominantly Ionian traditions as represented by the Iliad as we have it, Scamandrius could not have survived if he was the same child as Astyanax, which is what we read here at I.06.402–403. So, the version as we have it kills off the potentially surviving half-brother. [[GN 2016.08.04 via HPC 204.]]

I.06.407–439

anchor comment on ancient Greek lament
subject heading(s): lament; sorrows of Andromache
Here at I.06.407–439, the wording of Andromache in addressing her departing husband Hector, whom she will never again see alive, is not just a speech expressing her sorrows: it is also, in terms of Homeric representation, a song of lament. What now follows is a general introduction to what is meant here. Ancient Greek lament is a deeply ritualized ritual practice, and there are survivals of this practice even to this day in some Greek-speaking communities. For background on the continuities and the discontinuities of this practice, I recommend the book by Margaret Alexiou, The Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition (1974). Aside from the specific example of ancient Greek laments, there are many other examples of such a practice to be found in a wide variety of societies throughout the world. In general, lament is understood to mean the formal expression of the emotion that we know as sadness—or, to say it more formally, sorrow. In Homeric diction, the primary words that are used for referring to sorrow are akhos or penthos, both of which I ordinarily translate as ‘grief’. In the case of ancient Greek society as also in many other cases, however, the general definition of lament as an expression of sorrow is insufficient. A lament can be more than just an expression of some inner sorrow by way of outward signs like crying. The outward signs can be formalized by way of crying and verbalizing at the same time. And the act of verbalizing can even become an act of singing, as in the case of ancient Greek traditions. In terms of these traditions, the act of lamenting is an act of singing while crying and crying while singing. And this kind of singing is crying; this kind of crying is singing. The physical aspects of crying are all integrated into the singing: the flow of tears, the choking of the voice, the convulsions of the body, and so on, are all part of the singing. And such physical aspects are also formalized into a kinetic system of stylized movements—to be seen as a kind of dancing that is integrated with the singing. On such a kinetic aspect of lament, see further the comment on I.18.051–060. [[GN 2016.08.04 -> GN 2016.12.17 via HC 1§§208–211, 2§§344–345, 4§262; H24H 3§§10–11.]]

I.06.407–439

anchor comment on three laments by Andromache, part 1
subject heading(s): lament; sorrows of Andromache
In the Iliad, Andromache is represented as singing three songs of lament for Hector. Each one of these three laments is quoted, as it were, by the Master Narrator, and each one of the quotations corresponds morphologically to a genuine song of lament as sung by a lamenting woman. It must be emphasized, however, that the laments that we see being quoted by the epic of Homeric poety do not represent the actual meter of lament as sung in real laments. The genre of epic regularly uses its own meter, which is the dactylic hexameter, in representing other genres that it quotes, including unmetrical genres (Martin 1989:12–42; also pp. 87–88, specifically on lament). But the morphology of laments quoted by epic still follows the rules of lament. On this point about the morphology of lament, see further the comment on I.19.282–302. In other words, each quotation of each one of the three laments performed by Andromache is meant to be heard as a re-enactment, performed by the Master Narrator, of a genuine song of lament. In the first lament, as quoted by the Master Narrator here at I.06.407–439, Andromache is already lamenting the death of Hector before he is even dead. As for the second lament, at I.22.477–514, Andromache will sing it when she sees the corpse of Hector for the first time. As for the third lament, at I.24.725–745, Andromache will sing it on the occasion of Hector’s funeral. The first two laments can be seen as previews, as it were, of the more formal third lament. But it must be kept in mind that the traditions of lamentation can allow for the spontaneous singing of a lament as an instant response to a deep loss that has just happened—or even as a premonition of a future loss that has yet to happen. On this point about premonition, there are further comments in H24H 3§§23–24; see also Nagy 2015.06.17. See also anchor comment at I.22.476–515 on: three laments by Andromache, part 2; and anchor comment at I.24.723–746 on: three laments by Andromache, part 3. [[GN 2016.12.17.]]

I.06.447–464

Q&T via HC 2§336
subject heading(s): lament; sorrows of Andromache
The wording of Hector, addressed to Andromache here at I.06.447–464, reveals a morbid but realistic premonition of the grim future that awaits her. This kind of premonition is typical in women’s laments: see the anchor comment at I.06.407–439. Here at I.06.447–464, however, it is Hector who expresses the premonition, which could otherwise have been expressed by Andromache herself in her own song of lament. [[GN 2016.08.04 via HC 2§§336–340.]]

I.06.466–470

subject heading(s): Hector’s helmet
The “great floating horsetail crested helmet” worn by Hector frightens his child when he first tries to embrace him: I follow here the incisive observation of Vermeule 1987:146. This wistful detail can be dated back to a world otherwise long forgotten, if Vermeule is right in saying that this kind of helmet went out of production sometime around the middle of the second millennium BCE. [[GN 2016.08.04 via HPC 310 via Vermeule 1987:146.]]

I.06.484

lemmatizing: δακρυόεν γελάσασα
As Andromache watches her husband Hector embracing their child and then giving him back into her arms, she ‘smiles through her tears’, or, more literally, she ‘smiles a smile that is tearful’. This weak smile carries over from I.06.471, where both father and mother smile when their child is frightened by the helmet of Hector.

I.06.494–496

Q&T via HPC 308–309
subject heading(s): one last glimpse
After they say farewell to each other, Hector turns away and goes off to the battlefield, facing the certainty of death, while Andromache turns away and goes off to her chamber. But ‘she keeps turning back again and again’ toward Hector, entropalizomenē at I.06.496, hoping to catch one last glimpse of the receding view of her doomed husband. [[GN 2016.08.04 via HC 1§210, HPC 308–310.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 7

2016.08.12

Up to now, Diomedes has been the hero who comes closest to Achilles in competing for the title ‘best of the Achaeans’. Here in Rhapsody 7, however, the focus shifts to Ajax, who responds to the challenge of Hector to fight in a duel the one hero among who is truly the ‘best of the Achaeans’. As we know from the overall references to Ajax in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, this hero is considered to be the second-best of the Achaeans in both epcis. So, it does not bode well for Hector that, in his duel with Ajax, he cannot succeed beyond fighting that hero to a draw. If Hector can do no better than fight to a draw the second-best of the Achaeans, he is surely doomed when the time comes for him to face the very best of the Achaeans in Rhapsody 22.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig7
Figure 7. Hector and Ajax separated by heralds, pen and ink drawing by John Flaxman, 1790’s. Image via Victoria and Albert Museum.

I.07.015–017

subject heading(s): elliptic plural/dual; hippoi/hippō as meaning not ‘horses’ but ‘chariot’
The hero Dexiades is described at I.07.015 by way of the participle epi-almenos meaning ‘one who leaps on’, and the preverb epi- ‘on’ of the participle takes as its object the noun hippoi ‘horses’ in the genitive case. But the meaning of this combination is not ‘one who leaps on horses’ but rather ‘one who leaps on the chariot drawn by horses’. That, is, hippoi in such a context is an elliptic plural referring not only to the two horses that conventionally draw a chariot in Homeric diction but to the chariot drawn by the two horses. In the action being described here, the same hero Dexiades is mortally wounded at I.07.13 by a spear-throw that hits him and knocks him out of the chariot, and here the preposition ex ‘out of’ in combination with the noun hippoi ‘horses’ as its grammatical object in the genitive case means that the hero has been knocked off the platform of the chariot, falling out of the chariot and landing on the ground with a mighty thud. In short, then, epi + the genitive of hippoi at I.07.11 means ‘on the chariot’, with reference to standing on the platform of a chariot, while ex + the genitive of hippoi at I.07.13 means ‘out of the chariot’, with reference to getting knocked out of the chariot while standing on the platform. [[GN 2016.08.11.]]

I.07.015–017

anchor comment on special ways of saying ‘chariot’
In general, the noun hippoi/hippō as elliptic plural/dual means not ‘horses’ but ‘chariot’ when this noun functions as a grammatical object in the genitive (G) or dative (D) or accusative (A) case in combination with prepositions or preverbs referring to such situations as standing on the platform of a chariot (epi+G, epi+D) or leaping down from the platform (apo+G, kata+G) or leaping up onto the platform (epi+G, eis+A) or getting knocked off and falling down from the platform (ek+G, kata+G). What follows is a list showing these occurrences of the word hippoi/hippō with the elliptic meaning of ‘chariot’ but not showing other occurrences where the ellipsis is canceled by way of correlating this word with other words like harma and diphros, both of which have the non-elliptic meaning of ‘chariot’. Here, then, are occurrences showing only hippoi/hippō with the elliptic meaning of ‘chariot’ and without an explicit mention of harma ‘chariot’ or diphros ‘chariot’: I.03.265 (ek+G), I.04.500 (para+G), I.05.013 (apo+G/D), I.05.019 (apo+G), I.05.046 (epi+G), I.05.111 (kata+G), I.05.163 (ek+G), I.05.227 (apo+G), I.05.249 (epi+G), I.05.255 (epi+G), I.05.321 (epi+A), I.05.328 (epi+G), I.05.835 (apo+G), I.06.232 (kata+G), I.07.013 (epi+G), I.07.015 (ek+G), I.07.240 (epi+G), I.08.127 (epi+G), I.08.492 (ek+apo+G), I.10.330 (epi+D), I.10.513 (epi+G), I.10.529 (epi+G), I.11.094 (ek+G), I.11.109 (ek+G), I.11.143 (apo+G), I.11.179 (ek+G), I.11.192 (eis+A), I.11.207 (eis+A), I.11.320 (apo+G), I.11.423 (kata+G), I.12.082 (epi+G), I.14.435 (ek+G), I.15.386 (apo+G), I.15.447 (kata+A), I.16.343 (epi+G), I.16.733 (apo+G), I.16.749 (ek+G), I.16.755 (apo+G), I.17.460 (epi+D), I.17.40 (apo+G), I.17.501 (epi+A), I.18.531 (epi+G), I.19.396 (epi+G/D), I.20.401 (kata+G), I.20.461 (ek+G), I.24.051 (ek+G), I.24.356 (epi+G), I.24.459 (ek+G), I.24.469 (ek+G). These elliptic usages compensate, in part, for the fact that the Mycenaean word for ‘chariot’, hikkʷiā (spelled i-qi-ja in the Linear B tablets), is missing in Homeric diction, where it would be pronounced *hippiā. The metrical shape of such a form, long-short-long, would be incompatible with the rhythmical contour of the dactylic hexameter, which generally does not tolerate forms that have such a shape. But the survival of elliptic plural/dual hippoi/hippō is not necessarily a substitution for the missing *hippiā, nor is it justified to assume that such elliptic forms represent some kind of deformity in Homeric diction. [[GN 2016.08.11]

I.07.017–061

subject heading(s): antagonism between immortal and mortal; mētis ‘mind, intelligence’
The divinities Athena and Apollo are not only supporting the Achaeans and the Trojans respectively. They are also opposing the Trojans and the Achaeans respectively. Even more than that, these divinities are also personally antagonistic toward individual heroes: Athena opposes Hector while Apollo opposes Achilles. In this passage, the antagonism between Athena and Hector is particularly evident. When the seer Helenos at I.07.047 addresses his brother Hector by describing him as comparable to the god Zeus himself with respect to Hector’s qualities of mētis ‘mind, intelligence’, the wording of this description is a direct affront to the divinity Athena, who is the goddess of mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ personified. [[GN 2016.08.11 via the comment at I.06.286–311 via BA 145, 149; GMP 204]]

I.07.021

subject heading(s): nīkē ‘victory’
The role of Athena in awarding nīkē ‘victory’ to the Achaeans is only secondary, while the corresponding role of Zeus is primary. [[GN 2016.08.11 via HC 4§109.]]

I.07.063–064

subject heading(s): phrix ‘shuddering’; Phrixos; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); simile of a storm at sea; Zephyros the West Wind; Boreas the North Wind; Hellespont; pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’
The noun phríx ‘shuddering’, which conveys the subjectivized feeling of an observer who shudders when he looks at the sea being stirred up by the West Wind named Zephyros while feeling the sudden blast of the wind, is related not only formally but even thematically to the “speaking name” (nomen loquens) of Phríxos, a hero who escaped the dangers of the pontos ‘[sea-] crossing’ that is the Hellespont, as we read in Pindar Pythian 4.160–161. The wording of Pindar goes on to say there that Phríxos was ‘saved’, saōthē, because he was carried to safety by the ram with the golden fleece. Before the occurrence of the name Zephyros here at I.07.063, the same name for the West Wind has occurred in previous similes: I.02.147, I.04.276, 04.423. In a forthcoming simile showing the sea stirred up by the North Wind named Boreas together with the West Wind named Zephyros, I.09.004–008, the subjective feeling of fear that overcomes the observer is described as kruoeis ‘chilling’, I.09.002. So, the observer shudders at the chilling power of the storm at sea. The stormy combination of Boreas and Zephyros is described as stirring up the pontos ‘sea[-crossing]’ also at I.23.230, and this sea, described here as ‘Thracian’, is to be equated with the Hellespont. [[GN 2016.08.11 via BA 340.]]

I.07.067–091

Q&T I.07.087–091 via BA 28
subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; tomb of Achilles; sēma as ‘tomb’; Hellespont
Whoever is ‘best of the Achaeans’ is challenged by Hector to fight him in a one-on-one duel. Hector boasts that he will kill this fighter, still to be named, who will then be entombed inside a sēma ‘tomb’ overlooking the Hellespont, I.07.086, and thus Hector will have a kleos ‘glory’ that is eternal, I.07.091. The irony here is that the fighter still to be named will be the winner of a future duel with Hector. That fighter will be Achilles, and the eternal kleos ‘glory’ will be primarily his. On the other hand, Hector’s wording is on the mark when he says at I.07.086 that the hero who is ‘best of the Achaeans’ will be entombed inside a sēma ‘tomb’ overlooking the Hellespont. And that hero will be Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.11 via BA 28, 341.]]

I.07.084–086

subject heading(s): tomb of Achilles; tarkhuein ‘ritually prepare’
As noted in the previous comment, the tomb of the hero whom Hector imagines he will kill is the tomb of Achilles, who in fact will kill Hector before he dies his own death. For details about the funeral and entombment of Achilles see the comment on I.16.456–457, with special reference to the word tarkhuein ‘ritually prepare’, as attested here at I.07.085. [[GN 2016.11.09.]]

I.07.089–090

The memorial language imagined here in the wording of Hector corresponds to the formulaic language of poetry written down on stone in the form of epigrams. So, Homeric diction shows here an awarenes of the genre of epigrammatic poetry. But this genre needed the technology of writing only for the sake of recording a given epigrammatic poem, not for the sake of actually composing it. Therefore, the awareness of epigrammatic language in Homeric diction does not require us to think that the technology of writing was needed for either the composition or the performance of Homeric poetry. [[GN 2016.08.11 via PH 19.]]

I.07.090

subject heading(s): aristeuein ‘strive to be the best, have an epic-high-point [aristeiā]’
In Hector’s imagined scenario of an outcome for his duel with whoever is the ‘best of the Achaeans’, the warrior he will kill be ‘striving to be the best’, as expressed by the verb aristeuein, I.07.090. The corresponding noun, not attested in Homeric diction, is aristeiā ‘epic high point’, on which see the comment on I.05.103. [[GN 2016.09.25.]]

I.07.092–169

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; aristeuein ‘strive to be the best’; goading by blaming
The Achaeans, faced with Hector’s challenge, hesitate, I.07.092–093. Their hesitation seems to indicate that not one of them is really the ‘best of the Achaeans’. Finally, Menelaos is first to volunteer for a one-on-one duel with Hector, I.07.094–103. An absence of volunteers, Menelaos knows, would be aklees ‘a thing without glory [kleos]’, I.07.100. It seems of course fitting for him to be the first, since his grievance against the Trojans over the abduction of Helen is primary, but the problem is that all the Achaean chieftains are aware of his inferiority to Hector, I.07.106, and so, fearing for his life, they restrain him from arming himself for a duel. Even the Master Narrator says outright that Hector was superior to Menelaos, I.07.104–105. Then Nestor goads the chieftains to take up the challenge of Hector, I.07.123–161, and his goading now prompts nine of these chieftains to volunteer, I.07.161–169: they are Agamemnon, Diomedes, the two Ajaxes, Idomeneus and Meriones, Eurypylos, Thoas, and Odysseus. It is significant that Nestor’s words refer to these nine chieftains as aristēes Panakhaiōn, I.07.159. For a translation of this expression, the singular form aristeus of plural aristēes first needs to be correlated with the verb aristeuein, which can be translated as ‘strive to be the best, to be aristos’, as at Ι.06.208 and I.11.784. In the second of these two passages, the referent is significantly Achilles himself. An aristeus, then, is a man who strives to be the best, aristos. Correspondingly, the expression aristēes Panakhaiōn at I.07.159 must refer to ‘men who strive to be the best of all the Achaeans’. [[GN 2016.08.11 via BA 29–30.]]

I.07.095

subject heading(s): neikos ‘quarrel’; oneidizein ‘say words of insult’
While volunteering to accept the challenge of Hector, Menelaos blames the other Achaean chieftains for hesitating. He engages them in ‘quarrel’, neikos, and ‘he says words of insult’, oneidizein. [[GN 2016.08.11.]]

I.07.122

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
In the immediate context, only the surface meaning of therapontes as ‘attendants’ is evident. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.07.123–161

subject heading(s): goading by blaming
Not only Menelaos but Nestor too blames the other Achaean chieftains for hesitating. He goads them into action not only by blaming them but also by telling a story about one of his past successes as a warrior. [[GN 2016.08.18.]]

I.07.132–157

subject heading(s): thoós ‘running, swift’; Ares
Nestor’s story of his fight with Ereuthalion amounts to a lesson about strategy in warfare. A pivotal figure in the story is the predecessor of Ereuthalion: he is Arēi-thoos, at I.07.137 and again at I.07.138, whose name is a combination of themes involving the god Ares and a primary characteristic of Ares: this god runs with the speed of wind, as conveyed by the adjective thoós ‘running, swift’, derived from the verb theein ‘run’. [[GN 2016.08.11 via BA 328–330.]]

I.07.147

subject heading(s): mōlos Arēos ‘struggle of Ares’;
See the comment at I.02.401. [[GN 2017.07.20.]]

I.07.149

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
In the immediate context, only the surface meaning of therapōn as ‘attendant’ is evident. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.07.161

subject heading(s): neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; language of praise/blame; goading by blaming
By goading the Achaeans, Nestor is engaged in the act of neikeîn: so he ‘quarrels with’ the Achaeans. This way, he engages in the language of blame as opposed to praise. And, even before Nestor starts blaming the Achaeans, Menelaos has already engaged in his own act of neikos ‘quarrel’, I.07.095. [[GN 2016.08.11 via comments at I.02.220–221, I.02.225–242, I.03.038, I.03.059, I.03.100.]]

I.07.177–180

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’
The field of nine Achaeans competing for the title of ‘best of the Achaeans’ in response to Hector’s challenge and to Nestor’s reproach is now narrowed down to three: Ajax, Diomedes, and Agamemnon. [[GN 2016.08.11 via BA 30.]]

I.07.197–198

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’; mētis ‘mind, intelligence’
Ajax boasts that he is superior to other Achaeans both by way of biē ‘force, violence, strength’, I.07.197, and by way of idreiē ‘intelligence’, I.07.198. In Homeric diction, a synonym for the second of these two words would be mētis ‘mind, intelligence’. [[GN 2016.08.11 via BA 31.]]

I.07.203

subject heading(s): nīkē ‘victory’
The role of Zeus in awarding nīkē ‘victory’ to the Achaeans is primary, while the corresponding role of Athena is only secondary. [[GN 2016.08.11 via HC 4§109.]]

I.07.228

subject heading(s): thūmoleōn ‘having the heart [thūmos] of a lion’; Hēraklēs; Achilles; Odysseus

I.07.288–289

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’; mētis ‘mind, intelligence’
Even Hector acknowledges the superior status of Ajax among the Achaeans: Ajax excels in biē ‘force, violence, strength’, I.07.288, and in pinutē ‘intelligence, I.07.289. In Homeric diction, a synonym for the second of these two words would be mētis ‘mind, intelligence’. [[GN 2016.08.11 via BA 31.]]

I.07.298

subject heading(s): eukhesthai ‘declare; pray, boast’; hero cult; cult hero
Hector seems to be saying that the Trojan women ‘pray’ to him, as expressed by the verb eukhesthai. This turn of phrase may point to the status of Hector as cult hero beyond his epic existence. [[GN 2016.08.11 via BA 149.]]

I.07.319–322

Q&T via BA 133
subject heading(s): dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’; isos/isē ‘equitable’
The theme of awarding the choice cut of meat to the foremost warrior in the context of a dais ‘feast, division’ continues to accentuate what is missing in this picture, which is the fact that Achilles lost his equitable share at the beginning of the Iliad. [[GN 2016.08.11 via BA 133.]]

I.07.324

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’; mētis ‘mind, intelligence’
The choice of the word mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ in the sense of ‘plan’ here is relevant to the undercurrent of an opposition between this word and the word biē ‘force, violence, strength’. The opposition of mētis and biē corresponds to a potential antagonism between Odysseus and Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.11 via BA 48.]]

I.07.336–343

subject heading(s): Achaean Wall
Nestor, in speaking to the assembled Achaeans, prescribes that they build a Wall for the purpose of protecting both them and their ships from the attacks of the Trojans. This purpose is spelled out at I.07.338. What Nestor prescribes for the Achaeans to accomplish here at I.07.336–343 is then actually accomplished by them, as described at I.07.434–442, where the purpose of protecting both the Achaeans and their ships is restated, I.07.437. The details of the prescription and of the description supplement each other. For example, an important detail that is absent in the prescription is supplemented in the description: the word teikhos ‘wall’, referring to the overall structure that the Achaeans are building, is absent in the prescription, I.07.337, but this word is present in the description, I.07.436. Both in the prescription and in the description, at I.07.336–338 and at I.07.435–437 respectively, the Wall is linked to the collective tomb that the Achaeans are to build for their war dead: this tomb is located right next to the pyre where the bodies of the dead are cremated, I.07.337 and I.07.436. [[GN 2016.09.29.]]

I.07.382

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; therapontes of Ares
In contexts where the plural therapontes in combination with Arēos ‘of Ares’ is applied to the Achaeans=Danaans=Argives (at I.07.382 here, to the Danaoi) as a grouping of warriors, the deeper meaning is more evident than in other contexts. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.02.110 via BA 293–295; GMP 48; H24H 6§32.]]

I.07.421–423

subject heading(s): Ōkeanos
(What follows is epitomized from H24H 10§30.) The cosmic river Okeanos is situated at the outermost limits of the world, which is encircled by its stream. The circular stream of the Okeanos flows eternally around the world and eternally recycles the infinite supply of fresh water that feeds upon itself: see I.14.246–246a, I.18.399, I.20.065. This mystical river Okeanos, surrounding not only the earth but even the seas surrounding the earth, defines the limits of the known world. Every evening, as the sun sets at sunset, it literally plunges into the fresh waters of this eternally self-recycling cosmic stream, I.08.485, and it is from these same fresh waters that the sun rises again every morning at sunrise, as here at I.08.421–423 as also at O.19.433–434. This cosmic river Ōkeanos, encircling the known world, is a boundary delimiting light from darkness, wakefulness from sleep, life from death. The movement of the sun both into and out from the waters of the Ōkeanos is envisioned as a cosmic model for an alternation between sleep and awakening, between death and rebirth. [[GN 2017.07.23 via BA 196; GMP 99, 237–238, 246.]]

I.07.433–465

subject heading(s): Achaean Wall; Trojan Wall
Within these verses I.07.433–465 is a description of the building of the Achaean Wall at I.07.434–442 that matches the prescription given by Nestor at I.07.336–343. While the Wall is being built, I.07.434–442, the gods are watching, I.07.443–444, and Poseidon makes a speech to Zeus, I.445–453, indicating that this Achaean project is against his will and, presumably, against the will of Apollo. Poseidon is concerned that the kleos or epic ‘glory’ of the Achaean Wall, I.07.451, will detract from the corresponding glory of the Trojan Wall that had been built by him together with Apollo for Laomedon, who had been king of Troy before Priam, I.07.452–453. Zeus responds with reassurances, I.07.454–464, reaffirming the kleos or epic ‘glory’ that belongs to Poseidon, I.07.458 (σὸν …κλέος). In other words, Poseidon and Apollo will never lose the epic glory that is theirs because they built the Wall of Troy. And Zeus then utters a prophecy about the teikhos ‘wall’ of the Achaeans, I.07.461: it will be destroyed once the Achaeans leave the Trojan landscape, I.07.459–464. So the kleos or epic ‘glory’ of the Achaean Wall, as signaled in the wording of Poseidon at I.07.451, will not destroy the kleos or epic ‘glory’ that is owed to Poseidon and to Apollo for their building of the Trojan Wall. In terms of this formulation made by Zeus, it is not clear whether the Trojan Wall will later be utterly destroyed or simply damaged when the Achaeans finally conquer Troy. Such a distinction is relevant to a claim made in historical times by the inhabitants of New Ilion, which was in fact the Old Ilion, otherwise known simply as Troy: the people of Ilion maintained that their Wall had not been completely destroyed by the Achaeans in the Trojan War and that their city, despite all the destruction, had never been left completely abandoned. This claim is documented but rejected by Strabo 13.1.40 C599. See Point 7 of the anchor comment at I.09.328–333 about efforts of Aeolians to possess ancient Troy and its environs in the historical period. [[GN 2016.10.01 via HPC 179–180, 207.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 8

2016.08.18

In my comments here on Rhapsody 8, I sense I am not far from reaching a critical mass of details that shed light on the unity and integrity of the Homeric Iliad. With the upcoming comments on Rhapsody 9, this sense will I hope reach a definitive stage.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig8
Figure 8. “Hera, Athena, and Iris in the Trojan War,” Jacques Réattu (1760–1833). Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.08.002

subject heading(s): terpi-keraunos ‘he whose bolt strikes’

I.08.002

anchor comment on terpi-keraunos ‘he whose bolt strikes’
This compound noun terpi-kéraunos, interpreted here as ‘he whose bolt strikes’, is an epithet that applies exclusively to Zeus: a parallel epithet, also applied exclusively to Zeus, is the compound noun argi-kéraunos at Ι.19.121, I.20.016, I.22.178, which can be interpreted to mean ‘he whose bolt shines’ (GMP 195). Both epithets fit Zeus in his role as a thunder-god. The second part of both compounds terpi-kéraunos and argi-kéraunos is clearly derived from keraunós ‘thunder’, and the first part of argi-kéraunos is clearly related to arg-ós (earlier *argr-ós) ‘shining, speeding’, but the first part of terpi-kéraunos seems at first unclear. Related forms in other Indo-European languages, however, help elucidate the meaning of terpi- as combined with keraunós. In the case of keraunós, we find in the Baltic and Slavic branches of Indo-European the parallel forms perkūnas and perunŭ respectively, both of which are nouns meaning ‘thunder’ and/or ‘god of thunder’. Although the Greek and the Baltic/Slavic roots here, *kerh 2 (u̯)- and *per(kw)- respectively, are different in form, they are parallel in meaning, ‘strike’, and the morphology of their suffixation is also parallel. (GMP 194–195). As for the terpi- of terpi-kéraunos, we find a comparable form in the Italic branch of Indo-European: it is the Latin noun quercus, meaning ‘oak tree’. This form, it can be argued, refers to the defining sacred moment when a thunderbolt strikes an oak tree: here the root of the u-stem noun quercus, from *perkwu-, is *perkw-, meaning ‘strike’ (GMP 186). So, terpi-kéraunos can be derived from *kwerpi-kéraunos via metathesis from *perk w i-kéraunos. [[GN 2016.08.16 via GMP 181–201; see also Nagy 2010:337.]]

I.08.066–077

subject heading(s): kḗr ‘cut, slice, portion, fated death’; talanta ‘scales’ of Zeus; selas ‘flash of light’; Will of Zeus
The momentum of the fighting between the Achaeans and Trojans is hanging in the balance—until high noon arrives, at which point Zeus decides to get out his golden talanta ‘scales’, I.08.69, as he readies to weigh who will win and who will lose. In just a moment, the balance will be tipped in favor of the Trojans. As we see at I.08.070, Zeus had put two kêre ‘portions’ at either end of the scales. Or, to say it etymologically, there are two ‘slices’ that are being weighed at either end, since the noun kḗr is derived from the verb keirein ‘cut, slice’. You can slice it both ways, life or death. Right from the start, though, the slicing is viewed negatively, and that is why at I.08.070 the two slices that Zeus weighs on the scales are already both viewed as ‘slices of death’. For the moment, though, these slices are really not yet ‘slices of death’, since the action is still only at the tipping point, and the outcome is supposedly still in the balance. But the negative connotations of the word kḗr in Homeric diction, which regularly means ‘fated death’ in the singular, as at I.18.118, have already predetermined the prematurely negative view of the fate that now awaits the Achaeans. Once the tipping actually gets underway, the slices for the Achaeans now sink downward at I.08.073–074, while the slices for the Trojans lift upward at I.08.074. So now the ‘slices of death’ are meant for the Achaeans, not for the Trojans. For the Achaeans, both original slices now mean death, and, in fact, the originally single slice on the Achaean side of the scales can now be viewed as many slices for the many fighters. Many of these fighters will die, and so the original kḗr or ‘fate of death’ for the Achaeans cannot any longer be seen as a singularity. Now the slices can be viewed distributively: different Achaeans will get different slices of death, and that is why the single slice that had been pictured at each end of the scale at I.08.070 can now become the plural kêres ‘slices’ of death for the Achaeans at I.08.073. Then at I.08.075 Zeus thunders from on high on top of Mount Ida, and he sends at I.08.075–076 a flaming thunderbolt toward the Achaeans. At I.08.076, the word for the thunderbolt is selas, meaning literally a ‘flash of light’. We see here the first occurrence of the word selas ‘flash of light’ in the Iliad. In occurrences to come, we will see that this powerful word signals the Will of Zeus. [[GN 2016.08.18 via BA 334–336, 338.]]

I.08.078–117

subject heading(s): hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’; parēoros ‘trace horse’; Nestor’s entanglement; evocation; epic Cycle
(What follows is a general commentary on these verses; what follows after that is an anchor comment on Nestor’s entanglement and the poetics of evocation)
Seeing the lightning sent by Zeus, I.08.076, the Achaean chieftains are now thunderstruck with fear, I.08.076–077. Mentioned by name at I.08.078–079 as those chieftains who now retreat in terror are Idomeneus, Agamemnon, and the two Ajaxes. Only Nestor, it is said, does not retreat, though not because he does not want to: he simply cannot retreat because his chariot has been immobilized, I.08.080-086. The trace horse of Nestor’s chariot team of three horses has been shot dead by Paris and has fallen down violently to the ground, I.08.080-086. The old hero, drawing his sword, is now struggling to cut himself loose from the parēoriai ‘traces’ that were connected to the fallen horse and that have now entangled the chariot team, I.08.087–088. This trace horse, not named, is analogous to the trace horse of Achilles, named Pedasos, who is killed at a much later point in the Iliad, in a scene of chariot fighting that takes place at I.16.466–476. In that scene, a spear throw by Sarpedon in the course of his chariot fight with Patroklos hits Pedasos instead of Patroklos, I.16.466–468. At I.16.471 and at I.16.474, the narrative there refers to Pedasos explicitly as the parēoros ‘trace horse’ of a three-horse chariot team. As a trace horse, Pedasos is not attached to the yoke that attaches the other two horses to the chariot. This distinction is made clear at a slightly earlier moment, I.16.145–154, leading up to the chariot fight. At this moment, the premier chariot driver of Achilles, Automedon, is harnessing for Patroklos the war chariot of Achilles. On this chariot, Automedon and Patroklos will be riding off together as chariot rider and chariot fighter respectively. At this slightly earlier moment, we see that there are two immortal horses of Achilles, Xanthos and Balios, who are attached to the yoke of the chariot, I.16.148–149, while the mortal trace horse Pedasos is simply connected to the parēoriai ‘traces’, I.16.152. (At this same moment, I.16.153, a significant detail is added about Pedasos: this horse had been captured once upon a time by Achilles when that hero killed the horse’s former owner, who was Eëtion the father of Andromache.) Then, at I.16.466–469, when Pedasos is killed by the spear-throw of Sarpedon and falls violently to the ground, the traces of this trace horse get entangled in the reins connected to the other two horses, I.16.470–471, and Automedon the chariot driver must free himself from the entanglement by drawing his sword and cutting the traces, thus severing the ties to the dead trace horse, Ι.16.472–475. Having noted what will happen in this future action, we now return to the present, I.08.087–088: so, what happens to Nestor as he struggles to cut himself loose from his entanglement? Well, meanwhile, the old hero’s predicament has been spotted by Hector, who is now driving his own chariot at high speed toward Nestor, I.08.088–090, intending to attack him before Nestor can disentangle himself from his disabled chariot. As Hector charges ahead, he is holding on to the reins of his own chariot horses, since he is described at I.08.090 as the hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’ for the moment, or, to translate the word more literally, as ‘the one who holds on to the reins’. For the moment, then, it is the chariot fighter Hector and not his chariot driver who is here taking the initative of attempting a high-speed attack on Nestor. Hector is thus taking over here from his own chariot driver, who as we will see later is a hero named Eniopeus and who at this precise moment must be standing next to Hector on the platform of the speeding chariot—but not driving the vehicle himself. This detail about Hector as the momentary chariot driver helps explain what happens later on. Eventually, Hector’s driver Eniopeus will be killed while apparently still standing on the chariot platform: it will happen at I.08.119–124, where Diomedes throws his spear at Hector but hits Eniopeus instead, who dies instantly and falls out of the chariot. In that context, we will see that Eniopeus is now and only now described explicitly as the hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’, I.08.119. There is an irony here. If Eniopeus and not Hector had been driving the chariot when Diomedes threw his spear, it could have been Hector who got hit and killed. Having noted once again what will happen in the future action, we now return to the present. The Master Narrator goes on to say at I.08.090 that the entanglement of the old hero Nestor would surely have resulted in his death at the hands of Hector—had it not been for the intervention of the young hero Diomedes, I.08.091. Urging Nestor to leave behind his disabled chariot, Diomedes offers him an invitation: let the two heroes ride together on the new chariot of Diomedes and let them now counterattack Hector, I.08.092–112. And let the two theraponte ‘attendants’ meanwhile take away the horses and the chariot of Nestor, taking them back to a zone of safety, I.08.109. The old hero agrees to the invitation, I.08.112. So, the two ‘attendants’ now proceed to take away the chariot team of Nestor, I.08.113, and these two figures are identified here as Sthenelos, chariot driver of Diomedes, and Eurymedon, chariot driver of Nestor, I.08.114. Meanwhile the old hero Nestor joins Diomedes, mounting the platform of the young hero’s chariot. And then he even takes the reins of the chariot of Diomedes in hand and drives the chariot himself, I.08.116–117. So, for the moment, Nestor takes over from Sthenelos as the designated charioteer of Diomedes. [[GN 2016.08.18 via PH 207–214 (especially 208), H24H 7§8.]]

I.08.078–117

anchor comment on Nestor’s entanglement and the poetics of evocation
subject heading(s): Nestor’s entanglement; evocation; epic Cycle
This whole epic narrative about Nestor’s entanglement and his rescue by Diomedes is evocative of another epic narrative where the old hero gets entangled—and gets rescued this time by another young hero, his own son Antilokhos, from the onslaught of another enemy, the chariot fighter Memnon. In this other narrative, however, the son will die in the act of rescuing the father. He will be killed by Memnon. There is a reference to this other epic narrative in a song of Pindar, Pythian 6.28–42. The death of Antilokhos was also narrated in a part of the epic Cycle, the Aithiopis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, as we read in the plot-summary of Proclus p. 106 lines 4-6 (ed. Allen 1912). (On the epic Cycle, see the Inventory of terms and names.) And there is a passing reference to the death of Antilokhos in O.04.186–188. That said, it is important to add a clarification: to say that the Iliadic narrative about an entanglement experienced by Nestor is evocative of another epic narrative as found in the epic Cycle is not to say that the Iliad is referring to a pre-existing text. In poetic traditions that stem from an evolving process of recomposition-in-performance, as in the case of Homeric poetry, any act of referencing needs to be viewed in terms of the historical context for any given performance. What can work as a reference in one context may not work so well—or work at all— in some other context. A performance that follows one epic version can refer—however indirectly—to another epic version, but only if those who hear the performance are expected to know both versions. Referencing can be direct, as when Sthenelos the chariot driver of Diomedes refers at I.02.119–130 to the role of these two heroes in the epic traditions of the Epigonoi, that is, The Sons-of-the-Seven-against Thebes. Or referencing can be indirect, as is the case here. The narrative about the entanglement of Nestor and his rescue by Diomedes is sure to have a special effect on those who already know of another narrative about a later entanglement of Nestor that leads to tragic consequences. So, the term evocation suits such indirect referencing. Viewed in this light, evocation in Homeric poetry can be defined simply as a reference made not directly but only indirectly from one traditional context to another. For another evocation of the epic moment when Nestor’s chariot gets entangled and his son Antilokhos gets killed in an effort to save the old hero, see the comment on I.09.057–058. [[GN 2016.08.18 via PH 207–214 (especially 208), H24H 7§8.]]

I.08.079

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; therapontes of Ares; ‘the two Ajaxes’
In contexts where the plural therapontes in combination with Arēos ‘of Ares’ is applied to the Achaeans=Danaans=Argives (here, to the ‘two Ajaxes’) as a grouping of warriors, the deeper meaning is more evident than in other contexts. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.02.110 via BA 293–295; GMP 48; H24H 6§32.]]

I.08.104

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’
Diomedes is speaking to Nestor, saying that the old hero’s chariot driver, unnamed here, has lost his energy and usefulness. Diomedes refers to this driver here at I.01.321 as Nestor’s therapōn ‘attendant’. In the immediate context, only the surface meaning of therapōn as ‘attendant’ is evident. But this particular attendant is not only the therapōn of Nestor: in the overall context of I.08.076–117, it is also evident that this therapōn is in fact the designated chariot driver of Nestor, though the specific word hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’ is not used here. The name of this driver is Eurymedon, as we see at I.08.114. He may or may not be the same hero Eurymedon as at I.04.227 [[GN 2016.08.04 via BA 292; see also the comment at I.04.227.]]

I.08.107

subject heading(s): Plato’s Homeric quotations; Koine; Aristarchus
When a word break occurs before the final metrical sequence – of the dactylic hexameter, the wording before the break tends to avoid a metrical sequence …– in Homeric manuscripts that Aristarchus considered more sophisticated, and the preferred metrical sequence is instead … . In other manuscripts that Aristarchus considered koinai in the sense of ‘common’, however, wording shaped …– instead of … is more freely allowed in that position. In Plato’s Homeric quotations, the ‘common’ version is occasionally attested. For example, in the case of I.08.107, Plato at Laches 191a-b quotes a version of this Homeric verse showing the infinitive διώκειν, with the last syllable scanned …–, whereas the medieval manuscript tradition, influenced by the judgment of Aristarchus, shows the alternative form διωκέμεν, with the last two syllables scanned … . Also, in the case of I.14.097, Plato at Laws 4.706d quotes a version of this Homeric verse showing the infinitive ἕλκειν, with the last syllable scanned …–, whereas the medieval manuscript tradition shows the alternative form ἑλκέμεν, with the last two syllables scanned … . Another kind of ‘common’ usage is the emotional exclamation αἲ αἴ (aiai) as quoted by Plato at Republic 3.388c for I.16.433, whereas the medieval manuscript tradition shows ὤ μοι (ṓ moi). Such Homeric quotations by Plato, in can be argued, indicate that he had access to a manuscript or manuscripts of Homeric poetry that reflected an official version of Homeric poetry as it was notionally owned and managed by the Athenian State in the fifth century BCE and extending into the fourth, during which period a term like koinē as applied to a Homeric manuscript would have meant not only ‘common’ but also ‘standard’, since the adjective koino- was used in general with reference to the agenda of the Athenian State. By shorthand, the Athenian State version of Homeric poetry can be described as the Koine. (For more on Aristarchus and the Koine, see under Aristarchus and see under Koine in the Inventory of terms and names.) [[GN 2016.08.18 via HC 3§165.]]

I.08.113–114

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
The dual theraponte here at I.08.113 is referring to Sthenelos and Eurymedon, named at I.08.114, who as we know from related contexts are respectively the chariot drivers of Diomedes and Nestor. For the moment, however, Nestor has replaced Sthenelos as the chariot driver of Diomedes. And, also for the moment, Nestor has also displaced Eurymedon in the role of chariot driver. For now, then, both Sthenelos and Eurymedon function merely as attendants. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.08.104.]]

I.08.119

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’; “taking the hit”
The hero Eniopeus son of Thebaios is here both the hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’ and the therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’ of Hector. When Diomedes throws his spear at Hector, it is Eniopeus who “takes the hit” instead, I.08.119–124. This detail is relevant to the fact, highlighted from the start, that Eniopeus is both the hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’ and the therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’ of Hector, I.08.119. In this context, then, the deeper meaning of therapōn as ‘ritual substitute’ is overt. The narrative goes on to say that Hector is deeply saddened by the death of his chariot driver, but he leaves the corpse of Eniopeus where that hero fell: instead of trying to rescue the corpse, Hector decides to fight on and immediately proceeds to select a new chariot driver, I.08.124–129, whose name is Arkheptolemos, I.08.128. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.04.227 via Nagy 2015.05.01, 2015.05.08, 2015.05.15, 2015.05.20.]]

I.08.123

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’; psūkhē ‘spirit’; luein ‘release’; release of consciousness from the body
At the moment of his death here, the hero’s menos ‘mental power’ is released from his body, and, in the present context, the noun psūkhē ‘spirit’ is used as a synonym of menos. [[GN 2016.08.18 via GMP 88.]]

I.08.130–171

subject heading(s): Will of Zeus
Here is where the momentum of Diomedes, aspiring for the title ‘best of the Achaeans’, is stopped dead in its tracks. Zeus signals it with his thunder and lightning, I.08.133, and now we see the Will of Zeus come alive, as anticipated already at I.08.066–077. The supreme god’s bolt lands right in front of the speeding horses that pull the chariot carrying Diomedes along with his temporary driver Nestor, and these horses now freeze in fear while the reins drop out of Nestor’s grip, I.08.134–138. [[GN 2016.08.18 via BA 334–335.]]

I.08.170–171

subject heading(s): Will of Zeus; sēma ‘sign, signal’; nīkē ‘victory’
Three times Zeus thunders from on high on top of Mount Ida, I.08.170, making a sēma ‘sign’, Ι.08.171, signaling that nīkē ‘victory’ will now go to the Trojans, not to the Achaeans, I.08.171. See HC 4§109 for a survey of all Homeric situations where either Zeus or Athena awards nīkē ‘victory’. [[GN 2016.08.18.]]

I.08.175–176

subject heading(s): Will of Zeus; nīkē ‘victory’; pēma ‘pain’
Hector recognizes the Will of Zeus here, as signaled by the nodding of the god’s head at I.08.175: for the moment, Zeus will give nīkē ‘victory’ to Hector while giving pēma ‘pain’ to the Achaeans, Ι.08.176. [[GN 2016.08.18 via BA 64, 77, 334.]]

I.08.180–183

Q&T via BA 335
subject heading(s): mnēmosunē ‘memory’; Battle for the Ships; fire of Hector
Hector predicts that there will be mnēmosunē ‘memory’, I.08.181, of the moment when he will set fire to the beached ships of the Achaeans in the epic Battle for the Ships. And this moment will be in fact pivotal for the Will of Zeus, which will find expression in the fire of Hector. It will be a moment to be recorded by the poetic memory of the Homeric Iliad. See the comments on I.16.112 and on I.16.113. [[GN 2016.08.18 via BA 17, 335.]]

I.08.185

subject heading(s): four-horse chariot; Dardanidai
Unlike other heroes in Homeric narrative, Hector has a chariot drawn by four rather than two horses. There are Athenian connotations to be seen here. As we learn from the Parian Marble, FGH 239 section 10, the Athenians claimed that Erikhthonios, a prototypical hero of Athens, was the inventor of the four-horse chariot on the occasion of the first chariot race held at the first Panathenaic festival in 1505/4 BCE. Correspondingly, there is a prototypical hero of Troy who is likewise Erikhthonios: is is said at I.20.219 and I.202.30 that this Erikhthonios was son of Dardanos and father of Tros, who in turn was the ancestor of Anchises father of Aeneas. In this light, we may compare the reference at I.05.271 to four chariot horses owned by Anchises. It can be argued that these details about four-horse chariots are relevant to Athenian agenda at work during an Athenian phase of Homeric transmission. [[GN 2016.08.18 via HPC 210.]]

I.08.215

subject heading(s): ‘equal to Ares’, armor of Achilles
Hector here is said to be atalantos or ‘equal’ to Ares. This kind of equating of a hero with the war god will figure prominently in future scenes of mortal combat. Relevant are previous scenes of mortal combat involving Diomedes: see the comments at I.05.438, I.05.440–442, I.05.459. Besides Hector, as here at I.08.215 another hero who will be pointedly described as ‘equal to Ares’ is Patroklos. Besides sharing such an epithet, Hector and Patroklos will also be sharing the armor of Achilles: first it is Patroklos who wears this armor when he goes off to fight as a substitute for Achilles; and then Hector will wear it after he kills Patroklos. [[GN 2016.08.18 via BA 294; see also BA 327.]]

I.08.220–227

subject heading(s): bay of the Hellespont; sterns of the Achaeans ships; Scamander; klisiā ‘shelter’; Hellespont; eris ‘strife’; post-heroic age; headquarters of the Achaeans; naustathmon ‘ship-station’
The ships of the Achaeans are beached along the shores of a large U-shaped bay that opens into the Hellespont. See Map 1 and Map 2 at HPC 157 and 158 respectively. Such a bay no longer exists, because of long-term silting from the river Scamander, which emptied into the bay. In the second millennium BCE and even later, however, the bay was very much of a reality, as the maps show, and the visualization in the Homeric Iliad approximates such a topographical reality. This is not to say, however, that we should imagine the ships of the Achaeans as floating at anchor in the waters of such a bay: rather, the Iliad pictures the ships are beached along the shores of the bay, with their sterns facing inland and their prows facing out toward the waters. On this positioning, see also the comment on I.14.027–036. Exploring further the Iliadic visualization, we can see that the beached ship of Odysseus is located at the bottom of the U-shaped bay, at the south in the middle of the bayline, while the beached ships of Achilles and Ajax are located respectively at the upper left and the upper right tips of the U, at the northwest and northeast. To be highlighted here is a detail about the ship of Odysseus: the king Agamemnon is shown standing on the deck of this beached ship, which is said to be located en messatōi ‘in the middlemost space’, I.08.223, and from here this over-king projects his voice of royal authority, shouting mightily to all the Achaeans stationed at their own ships, I.08.227 correspondingly, all the Achaeans stationed at all the beached ships can hear the king’s voice—from the ship of Achilles at one extreme of the U-shaped bay all the way to the ship of Ajax at the other extreme, I.08.224–226 (HPC 160–161). Agamemnon’s own beached ship, together with the ships of Diomedes and Nestor, is located near the ship of Odysseus, and it is in this ‘middlemost space’ of the U-shaped bayline that the central station of the Achaeans is visualized by the narrative, I.08.223. In the later comments at I.11.005–016, I.11.806–808, and I.14.027–036, there will be more to say about the locations of all these beached ships. To be highlighted already now, however, is the general reference to the klisiai or ‘shelters’ here at I.08.220, which are the abodes of the heroes. Then at I.08.224 the same word klisiai refers specifically to the abodes of Achilles and Ajax, mentioned at I.08.224–225. The description here shows that the klisiai ‘shelters’ of these two heroes are pointedly aligned with their beached ships. As for the ships beached at the middle of the bayline in the south, they mark a political and sacral centerpoint for the Achaeans. The evidence for the preceding formulation will be presented in the comment on I.11.806–808. [[GN 2016.08.18 via HPC 153; also HPC 160-161.]]

I.08.228–235

Q&T via BA 44
subject heading(s): goading by blaming; distributive action in the plural; dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’; micro-Iliad; First Song of Demodokos; eukhesthai ‘declare’; ‘best of the Achaeans’
By blaming or insulting his fellow Achaeans for not daring to stand up to the onslaught of Hector, Agamemnon is goading them into action. His insulting words recall a scene that took place in their collective epic past, on the island of Lemnos, where the Achaeans were competitively boasting about the exploits they will perform in the future when they fight in the Trojan War. The idea of ‘boasting’ is conveyed by the noun eukhōlē, which is derived from eukhesthai ‘declare’. As we already saw at I.01.091, what is at stake when an Achaean hero boasts in the Iliad centers on the all-important question: who is the ‘best of the Achaeans’? The noun eukhōlai ‘boastings’ in the plural here at I.08.229 indicates a distributive action: the Achaeans were boasting not as a group but individually and competitively. The object of such competition and dispute would have been: to show who is the aristos ‘best’ of them all. When Agamemnon says at I.08.229 ‘we were saying that we were best [aristoi]’, the plural construction here is distributive in meaning: ‘each one of us was saying that he was the best [aristos]’. We see in this scene of a past event at Lemnos an epic precedent for what is ongoing in the present time of the Trojan War as narrated in the Iliad. Just as there was a dispute at Lemnos, there is a dispute ongoing in the Iliad about that all-important question: who is the ‘best of the Achaeans’? A most relevant detail in the story about the dispute at Lemnos is the fact that the context for the quarreling that took place at that time over the same question, who is the ‘best of the Achaeans’, was a feast where meat was being distributed, I.08.231. So the setting for the quarrel was an event that is elsewhere called a dais, to be defined as ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’ in Homeric diction. As we saw in the comment for I.01.423–425, a dais is a feast where meat is distributed, and this meat comes from the sacrifice of a sacrificial animal. Thus the act of sacrifice converts the feast of humans into a notional feast of the gods. This notion, ‘feast of the gods’, is made explicit in the “micro-Iliad” of O.8.072–083, which is the First Song of Demodokos. At O.08.076, the setting is described this way: θεῶν ἐν δαιτὶ θαλείῃ ‘at a sumptuous feast [dais] of the gods’. So, what is happening at this feast? There is a dispute going on (δηρίσαντο at Ο.08.076), and the dispute is called a neikos ‘quarrel’ at O.08.075. The disputants are Odysseus and Achilles, who are described at O.08.078 as ‘the best of the Achaeans’. In terms of such a dispute in the context of a feast, each one of the two heroes would be claiming to be the ‘best of the Achaeans’. Similarly in the context of the feast at Lemnos as narrated by Agamemnon, each one of the heroes attending would be making such a claim. [[GN 2016.08.18 via BA 44–45.]]

I.08.315

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’; psūkhē ‘spirit’; luein ‘release’; release of consciousness from the body
At the moment of his death here, the hero’s menos ‘mental power’ is released from his body, and, in the present context, the noun psūkhē ‘spirit’ is used as a synonym of menos. [[GN 2016.08.18 via GMP 88.]]

I.08.339

subject heading(s): haptesthai ‘grab a hold of’; language of praise/blame
The verb haptesthai ‘grab a hold of’ here at I.08.339 has as its subject a hunting dog that bites and as its object the animal that is bitten by the dog, as we see at I.08.338. In other contexts, to be cited later, the same verb can be metaphorized with reference to the language of blame. [[GN 2016.08.18 via BA 226.]]

I.08.363

subject heading(s): aethlos (āthlos) ‘ordeal’; Labors of Hēraklēs
The noun aethlos (āthlos) ‘ordeal’ in the plural, aethloi, programmatically refers to the Labors of Hēraklēs. These aethloi ‘ordeals’ were life-and-death struggles imposed on the hero by Eurystheus, who was socially superior to him but inferior otherwise. [[GN 2016.08.18 via PH 138.]]

I.08.367

anchor comment on Gates of Hādēs
subject heading(s): pulartēs ‘gate-closer’; Hēraklēs; Hādēs; Gates of Hādēs; Gates of the Sun; Pylos; entrance to the underworld
The constellation of words linked with pulē in the sense of ‘gate’, such as pul-artēs ‘gate-closer’ here (genitive πυλάρταο), is linked with the idea of the pulai ‘gates’ of Hādēs. See the comments on I.05.395–404, I.05.646, I.11.671; see also Points 5 and 6 in the anchor comment at I.23.071–076. [[GN 2016.08.18 via GMP 225–226.]]

I.08.379–380

subject heading(s): exposition of the dead body to dogs and birds; cremation
The very idea of exposing a dead body to be eaten by dogs and birds, as conjured here at I.08.379–380, is considered to be an abomination in the Iliad, by contrast with the ritually correct practice of cremation. See the comment on I.01.003–005. [[GN 2016.08.18 via BA 226.]]

I.08.485–486

Q&T via GMP 257
subject heading(s): Ōkeanos
The cosmic river Ōkeanos, encircling the known world, is a boundary delimiting light from darkness, wakefulness from sleep, life from death. The sun rises from the Ōkeanos at sunrise, just as it sets into it at sunset. At I.07.421–423 we saw sunrise; now at I.08.485–486 we see sunset. [[GN 2016.08.18 via BA 196; also GMP 99, 237–238, 246, 257.]]

I.08.526–541

The words spoken by Hector here reveal an overweening desire to be an immortal god, not a mortal human. By speaking this way, the hero is challenging the cosmic order. [[GN 2016.08.18 via GMP 299.]]

l.08.526

subject heading(s): impossible wishes
lemmatizing: ἔλπομαι εὐχόμενος vs. εὔχομαι ἐλπόμενος
Aristarchus debated with Zenodotus (the debate is indicated by way of the sign ⸖ in front of the verse), who attested the variant ἔλπομαι εὐχόμενος. Aristarchus preferred the variant εὔχομαι ἐλπόμενος, which has been transmitted in the medieval manuscript tradition. As Muellner 1976:58-62 shows, both variants can be justified on the basis of analyzing the formulaic system of Homeric diction. [[GN 2016.08.18 via PasP 133, 148.]]

I.08.538–541

subject heading(s): wishes correlated with premises; aspiration for immortality
Here is a working translation: ‘If only I |539 could be immortal and unaging for all days to come, |540 and if only I could be honored [tiesthai] just as Athena and Apollo are honored, |541 —as surely as this day brings misfortune to the Argives’ (εἰ γὰρ ἐγὼν ὣς |539 εἴην ἀθάνατος καὶ ἀγήρως ἤματα πάντα |540 τιοίμην δ’ ὡς τίετ’ Ἀθηναίη καὶ Ἀπόλλων, |541 ὡς νῦν ἡμέρη ἥδε κακὸν φέρει Ἀργείοισι). Hector’s aspiration to become immortal and ageless and to receive the same honors as received by the divinities Athena and Apollo, I.08.538–540, is worded in such a way as to invite a cosmic sanction. On the syntax of the wording, see the comment on I.18.464–466. Hector’s wording here is especially dangerous because it would be provocative to Athena, who figures as this hero’s divine antagonist: see the comment on I.06.286–311. [[GN 2016.08.18 via BA 148; also GMP 294–301.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 9

2016.08.26

The Master Narrator now approaches what can surely be seen as the highest point so far in the narrative arc of the Homeric Iliad. Achilles has not spoken since Rhapsody 1. Now, in Rhapsody 9, he will speak again. And what he says will define what can and cannot happen in the rest of the Iliad.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig9
Figure 9. The embassy to Achilles, featuring Phoenix and Odysseus in front of Achilles. Attic red-figure hydra, circa 480 BCE. Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.09.001–003

anchor comment on a Rhapsody as one of 24 units of performance
subject heading(s): rhapsodic sequencing
The beginning of Rhapsody 9 picks up where Rhapsody 8 ended. There is a brief reference at I.09.001 to the ending of Rhapsody 8. Then, in the rest of the verse at I.09.001 and continuing into I.09.002–003 there is a transition into the narrative as it now resumes. A fitting term for this sort of transition is rhapsodic sequencing. Here as elsewhere, the transition of the narrative from one rhapsody to the next shows that each one of the 24 rhapsodies of the Iliad—and each one of the 24 rhapsodies of the Odyssey—is a distinct unit of performance. In the classical period of Athens, as we see in Plato’s Ion, professional performers of Homeric rhapsodies were known as rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’. The term rhapsōidiā, translated in this comment as ‘rhapsody’, originates from the traditions of rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’ who performed poetry in competitive relay with other rhapsodes. Accordingly, the rhapsōidiai ‘rhapsodies’ of Homeric poetry can be seen as units of relay performance. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PasP 180–188.]]

I.09.002

subject heading(s): morphology of hetairē ‘companion’
The name Phúza, which is a personification of phúza ‘running away out of fear’ is described here at I.09.02 as the hetaírē ‘companion’ of Phóbos, which is a personification of phóbos ‘turning and running out of fear’. The immediate context is that the Trojans are now winning while the Achaeans are losing, I.09.1–2. The verse-final feminine form hetaírē, a morphologically leveled replacement of the older feminine form hétairă, likewise meaning ‘companion’, occurs only here in the Iliad. In this case, the morphological leveling can be explained as a replacement of the alternation *-́i̯ă-/-i̯ā́- by way of non-alternating *-i̯ā́-. In the Odyssey as well, feminine hetaírē occurs only once, O.17.271. Elsewhere in the Homeric tradition, feminine hetaírē occurs only in Homeric Hymn to Hermes 31 and 478. In all three of these other occurrences as well, hetaírē is verse-final. The application of hetaírē to Phúza here at I.09.02 is comparable to the application of the vocalically rhyming form krataiḗ to Moîra, personification of moîra in the sense of ‘fate, destiny’. This form krataiḗ, which is likewise verse-final, is found nine times in the Iliad but not once in the Odyssey. For the occurrences, see the comment on I.05.083. As in the case of hetaírē, this feminine form krataiḗ can be explained as a morphologically leveled replacement of an older feminine form, to be reconstructed as *krataí-u̯i-ă and meaning ‘whose power [*u̯i-] has the upper-hand [krátos]’. In this case as well, the morphological leveling involves a replacement of the alternation *-́i̯ă-/-i̯ā́- by way of non-alternating *-i̯ā́-. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 351–352.]]

I.09.003

subject heading(s): penthos ‘grief’; akhos ‘grief’
As the Achaeans are being routed by the Trojans, I.09.1–2, they are afflicted with penthos ‘grief’. Whenever the Achaeans are losing and the Trojans are winning, they suffer penthos or, to say it by way of this noun’s synonym, akhos. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 351–352; also BA 94, 333, 337, 339; HTL 132.]]

I.09.004–008

subject heading(s): simile of a storm at sea; Boreas the North Wind; Zephyros the West Wind; Hellespont; phrix ‘shuddering’; Phrixos; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’
The penthos ‘grief’ felt by the losing Achaeans is now compared, by way of a simile, to a seastorm brought by the North Wind and the West Wind personified respectively as Boreas and Zephyros, I.09.005: these winds come suddenly and violently from the direction of Thrace, blowing across the narrow strait of the Hellespont. See the comment on I.07.063–064. As the narrative of the Iliad advances, such a violent seastorm will become a fitting synonym also for the danger facing the Achaeans as their fortunes in war start giving way to the overwhelming momentum of the Trojan offensive led by Hector. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 333, 337, 339.]]

I.09.004

subject heading(s): ikhthuoeis ‘fish-swarming’ as an epithet of pontos ‘crossing (of the sea)’
As an epithet describing the noun pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’, the adjective ikhthuoeis ‘fish-swarming’ signals danger. At O.14.135 and O.24.291, for example, the fear is expressed that Odysseus in his travels at sea could have died by falling overboard, and then the ikhthues ‘fish’ in the pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’ would have devoured him. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 340.]]

I.09.008–009

subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’; penthos ‘grief’
After the intervening simile, at I.09.004–008, of the storm at sea, the penthos ‘grief’ felt by the Achaeans at I.09.003 is described further: this grief, it is said at I.09.008, is felt by them inside their collective ‘heart’, as expressed by thūmos. But then, at I.09.009, the penthos ‘grief’ of I.09.003 is now reconfigured as the akhos ‘grief’ felt by the leader of the Achaeans, Agamemnon, in his individuated ‘heart’, as expressed this time by ētor, which is a partial synonym of thūmos. In this ring-composition, the penthos ‘grief’ of verse 3 comes full circle with the synonym akhos ‘grief’ of verse 9, but the circle has in the meantime rotated the perspective from a collective to an individuated ‘heart’. [[GN 2016.08.25.]]

I.09.057–058

subject heading(s): Nestor’s entanglement; evocation; epic Cycle
Here at I.09.057–058, Nestor makes a remark to Diomedes about that hero’s relatively young age. You could be, Nestor tells Diomedes, the youngest of my sons. Elsewhere, at O.03.412–415, six of Nestor’s sons are mentioned, including Peisistratos, who figures prominently in the Odyssey, and Thrasymedes, who has a major role in the fighting at Troy in the Iliad. Missing from this list in the Odyssey, because he had been killed in action at Troy, is Antilokhos. There is a passing reference to the death of Antilokhos at O.04.186–188. When Nestor makes his remark at I.09.057–058 about the youngest of his sons, the referent here must be Antilokhos, since that hero’s relatively young age is noted elsewhere as well in the Iliad. For example, in a battle scene where the Achaeans are urging each other to fight hard, Menelaos singles out Antilokhos as he urges him on, telling him there is no Achaean there who is younger. And the relatively young age of Diomedes is likewise noted in the Iliad. In another battle scene, at I.14.109–114, while addressing his fellow warriors, Diomedes boasts that ‘I am the youngest among you’ (νεώτατός εἰμι μεθ’ ὑμῖν), I.14.112. So, it may be that Diomedes is even younger than Antilokhos, but that is not the point. Rather, the point is that Antilokhos and Diomedes are comparably young. Nestor himself highlights the youth of Antilokhos when he addresses him on a later occasion, I.23.306. In view of all these other Homeric references, Nestor’s remark at I.09.057–058 about Diomedes as comparable in age to Antilokhos can be seen as an evocation of an epic moment that is awaiting Nestor in the future. At that future moment, Antilokhos, his own young son, will try to save the old hero when Nestor gets entangled in his chariot and is about to be attacked and killed by the chariot fighter Memnon. Antilokhos will succeed in saving Nestor, but it is the young son and not the old father who will now get killed by Memnon. This epic moment, which is in the future for the Iliad, is evidently narrated in a part of the epic Cycle, the Aithiopis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, as we read in the plot-summary of Proclus p. 106 lines 4–6 (ed. Allen 1912). (On the epic Cycle, see the Inventory of terms and names.) There is also a reference to this same epic moment in a song of Pindar, Pythian 6.28–42. These non–Iliadic passages have already been cited in the anchor comment on the relevant Iliadic passage, Ι.08.076–117. In that passage, which is already in the epic past from the standpoint of the current Iliadic passage taken from I.09.057–058, Diomedes was acting as a stand-in for Antilokhos, performing in the epic past a task that mirrors the task that will be undertaken by Antilokhos in the epic future. That task was to save Nestor from his entanglement in his chariot. Diomedes saved the life of Nestor, and Nestor knows it when he now compares young Diomedes to his own young son, I.09.057–058. As for Antilokhos, he too will save the life of Nestor, but, unlike Diomedes, he will lose his own life in performing this same task in the future, which is, to save Nestor from another entanglement. And of course Nestor does not yet know it. So, there is an irony in the remark made by the old hero here in comparing young Diomedes to young Antilokhos, though of course the character of Nestor did not intend such an irony. The intentionality, rather, is to be found in the poetics of evocation. [[GN 2016.08 via PH 208.]]

I.09.076–077

subject heading(s): fire of Hector; Battle for the Ships
Nestor makes a remark about the watchfires of the Trojans: these fires, he says, are too close for comfort—too close, that is, to the beached ships of the Achaeans. We see here a premonition of the Battle for the Ships and of the fire of Hector, which will threaten to burn down the ships and thus destroy the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 335.]]

I.09.097–099

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’
By virtue of holding the skēptron ‘scepter’, I.09.099, Agamemnon is the holder of royal authority when he speaks, and this authority emanates from Zeus. By implication, Agamemnon would not have the authority to speak if he did not hold the scepter. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PH 258 and GMP 53.]]

I.09.104–108

subject heading(s): noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’
This verb noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’, corresponding to the noun nóos ‘mind’, is used in contexts where the subject of the verb is taking the initiative in doing whatever is being done. Here at I.09.104–105 it is the hero Nestor who boasts of possessing a special aptitude for ‘taking note, noticing, having things in mind’, noeîn. At I.09.104–105, Nestor literally ‘has in mind’ a ‘mindfulness’, nóos, that is superior to the thinking of all other heroes. [[GN 2016.08.25 and GN 2016.09.14 via BA 51.]]

I.09.115–120

subject heading(s): atē ‘aberration’
Agamemnon here at I.09.115 admits that it was atē for him to dishonor Achilles. In such a context, the noun atē can be translated as an ‘aberration’. The noun is used here in the plural, atai, indicating specific instances of aberration, not just an overall error. After all, in his quarrel with Achilles, Agamemnon insulted the prime hero of the Iliad in multiple ways. Agamemnon goes on to say that he is ready to pay apoina ‘compensation’, I.09.120, for his aberrations. For Achilles to reject this compensation has its own risks, as we see in the comment on I.09.502–512: here too, there is a danger of atē ‘aberration’, Ι.09.512. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PH 254.]]

I.09.120–161

subject heading(s): offer of Agamemnon to Achilles; claim of Agamemnon to superiority over Achilles
Agamemnon here formulates the terms of the compensation that he offers to Achilles. The last four verses of his formulation, I.09.158–161, bluntly reassert his claim to be superior to Achilles. When Odysseus restates to Achilles the terms of Agamemnon, Ι.09.260–299, he omits what Agamemnon claims about his superiority to Achilles. It can be argued that Achilles, if he had accepted the terms of Agamemnon as reasserted by Agamemnon himself, would have put at risk his own epic stature in the Iliad. [GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51.]]

I.09.128–131 / I.09.270–272

Q&T via HPC 241
subject heading(s): epic deeds of Achilles before the time dramatized in the Iliad; seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; Achilles the Aeolian
Among the prizes that Agamemnon at I.09.128–131 offers as compensation to Achilles are seven captive Aeolian women who were captured by Achilles when he conquered the Aeolian island of Lesbos. The story about these women as it is told here is then retold at I.09.270–272. The significance of the Aeolian identification of these women will be analyzed in the anchor comment that follows. The focus in the present comment, by contrast, is on the moral problems that are raised in the story about the actual capture of these women—and of other women in the Iliad who suffer the same fate of captivity. Two prominent examples are Briseis and Chryseis, captured by Achilles when he conquered the cities of Lyrnessos and Thēbē respectively, as noted in the anchor comment at I.02.689–694. All these women—the seven unnamed ones and the two named ones—evidently became the common property of the Achaeans after being captured by Achilles, and it appears that Agamemnon as the Achaean over-king originally had a say, ostensibly by way of public deliberation with the rest of the Achaeans, in deciding which woman was allotted as a war-prize to which Achaean man. Even though all these women were captured by Achilles alone, they were thereafter to be distributed as war-prizes among the Achaean men as a group. In terms of this reconstruction of the story as outlined here, the role of Agamemnon in having a say about the awarding of these captive women as war-prizes is morally problematic. Likewise problematic is this over-king’s role in the original awarding of the captive woman Briseis, with the approval of the Achaeans, as a war-prize to Achilles—and in the parallel awarding of the captive woman Chryseis to himself. Moreover, the seizing of Briseis by Agamemnon after his loss of Chryseis is even more problematic. Here, then, is the overriding question to be asked about the treatment of all these women as war-prizes: is Agamemnon entitled to have a say in deciding which Achaean man will have sex with which woman? And the question can be broadened: are the Achaeans as a group entitled to make such decisions? Such a broader question extends also to Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.26.]]

I.09.128–131 / I.09.270–272

anchor comment on Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 2
subject heading(s): conquest of Lesbos by Achilles the Aeolian; seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; conquest of Lyrnessos and Thēbē by Achilles the Aeolian; Briseis the Aeolian; Chryseis the Aeolian; Andromache the Aeolian; charter myth; aetiology; “colonization”; “Aeolian Migration”; Lesbos, Tenedos, and the facing mainland of Asia Minor; songmaking of Sappho/Alcaeus; Aeolian poetics; Achilles the Aeolian
The story that is being told here at I.09.128–131 and retold at I.09.270–272 centers on one single stunning event: Achilles captured the entire island of Lesbos. By implication, this island became Aeolian precisely because it was captured by the principal hero of the Aeolians. The vastness of this story is even broader in scope, since we can see in the Iliad occasional references to other such conquests accomplished by Achilles. Most prominent are the Iliadic references to his capturing of two cities located on the Aeolian mainland of Asia Minor: they are Lyrnessos and Thēbē. In the Iliad, the conquest of Lyrnessos by Achilles and his capturing of Briseis are mentioned for the first time at I.02.690–691. What then follows at I.02.691 is a mention of his conquering the walled city of Thēbē as well. Thēbē is mentioned already at I.01.366: it was there that Achilles captured another woman, Chryseis, when he conquered that city, I.01.366–369. (For background on Briseis and on Chryseis, I again strongly recommend the work of Dué 2002 and 2006, listed in the Bibliography.) Another native of Thēbē was Andromache, who had been married off to Hector at Troy before the beginning of the Trojan War: she was taken captive only later, after Troy was captured, and she was then allotted as a war-prize to the son of Achilles, Neoptolemos: the story was told in an epic that was part of the epic Cycle and was known as the Iliou Persis ‘Destruction of Ilion’, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, plot summary by Proclus p. 108 line 9 (ed. Allen 1912). That said, I now elaborate further on the argument initiated in the anchor comment at I.02.689–694: the conquests of these territories by Achilles, especially his capture of Lesbos, can be interpreted as a charter myth that aetiologizes a prehistoric or even non-historical “colonization” of east Aeolis, as it were, by west Aeolian migrants from Thessaly, situated in the European mainland, which was the reputed birthplace of Achilles. (See Nagy 2011b:171–173.) In using the term “east Aeolis” here, I am referring to the islands of Lesbos and Tenedos, together with the facing mainland of northern Asia Minor. The “colonization” of this area has conventionally been described as the “Aeolian Migration,” and the term ‘migration’ here matches neatly the appropriate Greek word, apoikiā as used in Strabo 9.2.3 C401 and elsewhere (see Nagy 2011b:161). The reference at I.09.129 to the captive women from Lesbos can be correlated with the poetic traditions of Lesbos as later attested in the songs of Sappho and Alcaeus, both dated around 600 BCE. These poetic traditions, which are decidedly Aeolian, derive not only from the island of Lesbos but also from the island of Tenedos and from the mainland of northern Asia Minor facing these two islands. (See HPC 184–185.) Traces of these Aeolian poetic traditions can be seen in the Iliadic references to such figures as Briseis, Chryseis, Andromache, and the seven unnamed captive women from Lesbos. All these figures derive from Aeolian poetic traditions, and the same can be said about the figure of Achilles himself: in terms of his poetic heritage, he is Achilles the Aeolian. (See Nagy 2011b:171–172.) But there is an important difference to be highlighted here: Achilles is an Aeolian from European Thessaly, while the captive women are Aeolians from Asia Minor and from the offshore islands of Lesbos and Tenedos (on the captive woman Hekamede from Tenedos, see the anchor comment at I.11.624–627). In the Ionian poetic traditions of epic as exemplified by Homeric poetry, we can track the early influence of corresponding Aeolian poetic traditions as exemplified at a later period, around 600 BCE, by the songmaking of Sappho and Alcaeus. See also anchor comment at I.02.689–694 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 1 and anchor comment at I.11.624–627 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 3
[[GN 2016.08.25 via HPC 149, 241; see also BA 140–141.]]

I.09.130

subject heading(s): seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; beauty contest in Lesbos; sacred space of Hērā in Lesbos; songmaking of Sappho/Alcaeus; pattern-weaving
The description of the women from Lesbos as victorious over other women in their beauty can be interpreted as a reference to a local tradition at Lesbos known as the Kallisteia, which was a kind of ritualized beauty contest for girls and for women. The scholia D for the Iliad give details, with specific reference to I.09.130: this beauty contest was a seasonally recurring event that took place in a federal space that was shared by five cities on the island of Lesbos, and this space was sacred to the goddess Hērā. (See Nagy 2015§§135–159.) There are occasional references to this space in what remains of the songs of Sappho and Alcaeus (again, Nagy 2015). Also, as we see at I.09.128, the beauty of the women of Lesbos is matched by the beauty of their handiwork, which externalizes their aristocratic charisma. Such handiwork, as we will see in another comment, comes to life in the skillfulness displayed by women in practicing their art of pattern-weaving: a prime example is Andromache the Aeolian, described at Ι.22.440–441 in the act of pattern-weaving. There and elsewhere, the craft of pattern-weaving by Aeolian women is linked with the power of the craft of Homeric poetry to make contact with the Bronze Age. (See MoM 2§§69–81.) [[GN 2016.08.25 via HPC 237, 242, 245, 302.]]

I.09.158–161

subject heading(s): claim of Agamemnon to superiority over Achilles
Here is where Agamemnon reasserts his claim to be superior to Achilles. See the comment on the whole passage, I.09.120–161. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 52.]]

I.09.167–170

Q&T via BA 50
subject heading(s): sequence of speakers for the embassy to Achilles; visual cues reinforcing verbal cues
Here is where Nestor formulates the sequence of speakers for the embassy to Achilles: Phoenix must lead, I.09.168, followed by Ajax and then by Odysseus, I.09.169. At I.09.167, Nestor reinforces his verbal formulation by specially glancing at each one of the three ambassadors. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 50.]]

I.09.179–181

subject heading(s): visual cues reinforcing verbal cues
Q&Τ via BA 51
Nestor signals to the three ambassadors, glancing at them with coded looks, especially at Odysseus. Once again, the special glances of Nestor, I.09.180, reinforce his verbal formulation. See the comment on I.09.167–170. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51.]]

I.09.182–198

subject heading(s): problematic duals of Rhapsody 9; dual vs. plural; plural vs. dual; ellipsis
As the three ambassadors and the two heralds proceed toward the shelter of Achilles, a series of dual forms is activated in the narrative, starting already with the very first verse and continuing from there: 182, 183, 185, 192, 196, 197, 198. The intervening plurals as at 186 are negligible, since plurals can normally substitute for duals in Homeric diction. But duals cannot substitute for plurals. So, the problem is, who are the referents in these contexts where the dual form is used? One way to approach the problem is to follow through on the formulation of Nestor, who had said that Phoenix must lead the embassy, I.09.168, followed by Ajax and then by Odysseus, I.09.169. See the comment on I.09.167–170. But then, when the group reaches the shelter of Achilles, it is said explicitly that Odysseus now takes the lead, I.09.192. Further, when Ajax signals to Phoenix at I.09.223, it is Odysseus who picks up the signal instead, as indicated by the verb noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’ (see further the comment on I.09.223), and now it will be Odysseus and not Phoenix who delivers the first of the three speeches. At I.09.224, Odysseus fills a goblet with wine and toasts Achilles—a gesture that may have seemed more appropriate for Achilles to perform as the host, not for Odysseus as the guest. For Odysseus to violate the etiquette is not to violate the traditions of myth, however, in that it is traditional for the figure of Odysseus to violate rules of etiquette. At O.08.475–476, to cite another example, Odysseus seems to be behaving like a host in a situation where he is really the guest. (For more on this point, see HQ 142.) In any case, right after pouring the wine and toasting Achilles, Odysseus starts at I.09.225 to deliver the first of the three speeches addressed by the three ambassadors to Achilles. Only after this speech of Odysseus, I.09.225–306, and after the reply of Achilles to that speech, I.09.308–429, will Phoenix get a chance to give his own speech, I.09.434–605—even though Nestor had intended for Phoenix to be the first speaker. So, returning to I.09.192, where Odysseus already takes the lead away from Phoenix, we can view this point in the narrative as the marker of a transition: before this point, the dual forms could refer to Ajax and Odysseus, as led by Phoenix, but then, after this point, the dual forms could refer to Phoenix and Ajax, as led by Odysseus. Alternatively the dual forms in these verses could have an elliptic function, where a singular X is paired with a group Y. This way, the dual still refers to a pair, even though the second part of the pair is a group. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 42–58, HQ 138–145.]]

I.09.185–191

subject heading(s): klea andrōn ‘the glories [klea] of men’; name of Patroklos; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); rhapsodic sequencing; sorrows of Andromache; lament
As the three ambassadors and the two heralds enter the shelter of Achilles, they find the hero singing klea andrōn ‘the glories [klea] of men’ while his companion Patroklos is listening to the song, waiting to continue it where Achilles will leave off. We see here a dramatization of relay singing, which is a model for the poetic world of rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’ who perform Homeric poetry in sequence. But the relay from one performance to the next is a sequencing that does not have to happen only at one particular time. The sequencing can be seen as happening over time. Relevant here is the meaning of the name of Patroklos, which is a “speaking name” (nomen loquens), Patrokléēs ‘he who has the glories [klé(e)a of the ancestors [patéres]’. Here the etymology of the name is adjusted by way of interpreting the component kléos ‘glory’ in the plural sense of the word, not only in the singular sense that was noted in the comment on I.01.345. In terms of this meaning, the kléos ‘glory’ of song is passed on, from one generation to the next, as the living heritage of the patéres ‘ancestors’. As for the original singing of Achilles himself in his shelter, it mirrors the singing of the god Apollo, who performs his songs while accompanying himself on the lyre. In the case of the lyre played by Achilles as he sings, it had once belonged to Eëtion, father of Andromache. As we have seen in the anchor comment at I.06.407–439, Andromache in the Iliad sings laments in expressing her sorrows. Such singing is relevant to songs sung about and perhaps also by Achilles himself. In the case of songs sung about Achilles, we know for a fact that these songs touched on that hero’s direct involvement in the sorrowful fate of Andromache herself. On that involvement, see the comment on I.17.194–214. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PasP 71–73, HTL 143, HPC 239; also PH 201–202.]]

I.09.193–198

Q&T via BA 52
subject heading(s): ascending scale of affection; philos (plural philoi) ‘near and dear’; philtatos ‘nearest and dearest’; ekhthros ‘hateful, hostile’
Achilles greets the ambassadors in the dual, I.09.197–198, and not in the plural. And he refers to them first as philoi ‘near and dear’, I.09.197, and then as the philtatoi ‘most near and dear’ among the Achaeans, I.09.198; again at I.09.204, he refers to them as philtatoi ‘most near and dear’. But are the ambassadors really at the very top of this hero’s ascending scale of affection? The dual construction of the verb in the syntax of I.09.197 might indicate that one of the three ambassadors is being left out of the hero’s reference to his nearest and dearest friends among all the Achaeans. The ambassador who might be left out is Odysseus. At I.09.312–313, Achilles says to Odysseus: whoever says one thing but means another thing is as ekhthros ‘hateful’ to me as the Gates of Hādēs, I.09.313. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 52–57, 106.]]

I.09.223

subject heading(s): noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’; neuein ‘nod’
Here again the verb noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’ applies to the actions of Odysseus, who is specially linked with the meaning of this verb. [[GN 2016.09.14.]]

I.09.225–306

subject heading(s): speech of Odysseus to Achilles
Here is the speech of Odysseus to Achilles. It is the first of the three speeches to be delivered by the three ambassadors, and it is now being delivered out of sequence, in contradiction of the plan formulated by Nestor, who had wanted Phoenix to deliver the first speech: see the comment on I.09.182–198. See also BA 51. The speech of Odysseus starts abruptly at I.09.225, since the Master Narrator does not use formal wording to introduce the speech: instead, at I.09.224, Odysseus simply fills a cup with wine and, gesturing at Achilles, he just starts speaking directly to him, toasting him at I.09.225. [[GN 2016.08.25 -> 2016.12.31.]]

I.09.225–228

Q&T via BA 133
subject heading(s): dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’; daiesthai ‘feast, divide (meat), apportion, distribute’; Strife Scene
In these first four verses of the speech spoken by Odysseus to Achilles, there is an evocative reference to the dais as a ‘feast’ where portions of meat are being divided in an equitable way, I.09.225. The wording seems to evoke an epic scene where Odysseus and Achilles attended a dais ‘feast’ and quarreled. Such an epic scene is narrated at O.08.072–083. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 133.]]

I.09.229

subject heading(s): pēma ‘pain’
The wording of this verse, I.11.347, like the wording of the four previous verses, seems to evoke an epic scene as narrated at O.08.072–083. The future pēma ‘pain’ that is feared by the Achaeans here at I.09.229 is comparable to the future pēma ‘pain’ of the Trojan War as described at O.08.081. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 57.]]

I.09.236

subject heading(s): sēma ‘sign, signal’
The thunder and lightning of Zeus are interpreted here as a sēma ‘sign, signal’ of the Will of Zeus. [[GN 2016.08.25 via GMP 204.]]

I.09.241–243

subject heading(s): fire of Hector
The fear of the Achaeans is that Hector’s fire will reach their ships beached at the Hellespont, and such a disaster would surely destroy them. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 335.]]

I.09.249–250

Q&T via BA 80
subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’; akos ‘remedy’; a man of constant sorrow
As Odysseus warns, I.09.249, Achilles will suffer akhos ‘grief’ in some unforeseeable way if he does not help the Achaeans right now. And there will be no akos ‘remedy’ for the pain of this grief, I.09.250. The warning will come true, since the future death of Patroklos will turn Achilles into a man of constant sorrow. See especially the comment on I.18.015–073; also the comment on I.23.046–047. Of special interest here at I.09.249–250 is the morphological parallelism of akhos ‘grief’ at I.09.249 with akos ‘remedy’ at I.09.250. Another morphological parallel for akos ‘remedy’ is the synonym althos ‘remedy’. Whereas akos and althos are synonyms, they are both antonyms of akhos, and the morphological parallelism of all three words serves to highlight the semantic contrast of akhos on one side with akos and althos on the other side. The morphological parallelism extends to names derived from the antonyms althos and akhos, since althos ‘remedy’ is to Althaiā as akhos ‘grief’ is to Akhaiā (see BA 88). [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 80.]]

I.09.260

subject heading(s): kholos ‘anger’
The wording of Odysseus refers here to the kholos ‘anger’ of Achilles. But this word is only a partial synonym of mēnis ‘anger’, which is a more specialized word that suits more accurately the relevant emotion of Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 104.]]

I.09.260–299

subject heading(s): offer of Agamemnon to Achilles
Embedded here within the speech of Odysseus is his restatement of Agamemnon’s terms for compensating Achilles. For a significant omission, see the comment on I.09.120–161. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51.]]

I.09.270–272

subject heading(s): conquest of Lesbos by Achilles; seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; conquest of Lyrnessos and Thēbē by Achilles the Aeolian; Briseis the Aeolian; Chryseis the Aeolian; Andromache the Aeolian; charter myth; aetiology; “colonization”; “Aeolian Migration”; Lesbos, Tenedos, and the facing mainland of Asia Minor; songmaking of Sappho/Alcaeus; Aeolian poetics; Achilles the Aeolian
In the speech of Odysseus, he reports here at I.09.270–272 what Agamemnon said at I.09.128–131, but now the action of Achilles is narrated in the second person. [[GN 2016.08.25.]]

I.09.307–430

subject heading(s): speech of Achilles in response to Odysseus
Whereas the Master Narrator did not use formal wording to introduce the speech of Odysseus at I.09.225–306, he does use formal wording both to introduce at I.09.307 the speech of Achilles and then to conclude it at I.430. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]

I.09.308–311

subject heading(s): offer of Agamemnon rejected by Achilles
In these four verses, Achilles begins his own speech in response to the speech of Odysseus, and he rejects straightaway Agamemnon’s offer for compensation. The tone is hostile toward Odysseus, not only toward Agamemnon. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 52.]]

I.09.312–313

Q&T via BA 52–53
subject heading(s): ekhthros ‘hateful, hostile’
Achilles expresses here his hostility toward Odysseus: someone who says one thing and means another thing is as ekhthros ‘hateful’ to Achilles as the Gates of Hādēs. If in fact Odysseus has misrepresented the offer of Agamemnon by leaving out the part of the offer that would have compromised the epic status of Achilles, then Odysseus is ekhthros ‘hateful’ and thus not philos ‘near and dear’ to Achilles. And that is why it can be argued that the earlier wording of Achilles in greeting the ambassadors is designed to exclude Odysseus from the company of those who are near and dear. See the comment on I.09.193–198. There is, then, a traditional enmity between these two heroes. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 52–53, 58.]]

I.09.314–429

subject heading(s): offer of Agamemnon rejected by Achilles
The response of Achilles to the speech of Odysseus continues. The passion intensifies even further. [[GN 2016.08.15 via BA 52.]]

I.09.328–333

subject heading(s): Achilles conquers 11 cities on foot and 12 cities by way of ships
I suggest that the story embedded here about 11 cities that Achilles conquers on foot, I.09.329–333, may be an indirect reference to the 12 cities of the Aeolian Dodecapolis minus Smyrna, which was lost to the Ionians. (For details about these 12 cities, see the Inventory of terms and names under Aeolian Dodecapolis.) By contrast, Achilles conquers 12 other cities not on foot but sun nēusi (σὺν νηυσί) ‘by way of ships’, I.09.328. Similarly at I.06.640–642, Hēraklēs had earlier conquered Troy itself hex oiēis sun nēusi (ἓξ οἴῃς σὺν νηυσί) ‘by way of merely six ships’, I.06.641. The analogous deed of Hēraklēs here leads me to think that Achilles too was conquering the 12 cities in the vicinity of Troy, whereas the other 11 cities would have been situated further south on the mainland of Asia Minor, that is, in the territory of the ancient Aeolian Dodecapolis. Herodotus 1.149.1 lists the cities of the Aeolian Dodecapolis, and one of them happens to be Killa. I think that this Killa is the same place that is mentioned twice in the Iliad, I.01.038 and I.01.452, in the context of Aeolian places that are specially sacred to Apollo. The two other places mentioned both times in those passages at I.01.038–039 and at I.01.451–452 are Chrysa and Tenedos. It has been argued that the Homeric Killa cannot be the same place as the Killa mentioned by Herodotus (Leaf 1923:310), but such arguments are based on the assumption that Homeric Killa was near Lyrnessos and Thēbē, two other places said to be conquered by Achilles. Herodotus 1.151.1 notes that the Aeolian cities on the mainland of northern Asia Minor in the region of Mount Ida—that is, in the general area of ancient Troy—were grouped separately from the Aeolian Dodecapolis, but he does not list those cities by name. The reason, I suspect, is that any federation of cities situated in this area would have been already severely disrupted by the Athenian empire in the fifth century BCE, that is, in the era of Herodotus, and, earlier, by the domination of this area by the Aeolian city of Mytilene in the seventh and the sixth centuries BCE. In that era, this city on the island of Lesbos was a major rival of Athens in seeking to possess the sacred real estate, so to speak, of ancient Troy and its environs. See Point 7 in the anchor comment that follows immediately below. [[GN 2016.10.08.]]

I.09.328–333

anchor comment on efforts of Aeolians to possess ancient Troy and its environs in the historical period
There are ten points in this anchor comment, epitomized mostly from HPC 131–146:
Point 1. Our point of departure is New Ilion, which in the historical period was an Aeolian city built over the ruins of the old Troy of the Trojan War as narrated in the epic that we know as the Homeric Iliad. Archaeologists have verified that Hisarlık, which is the Turkish name for the site of New Ilion, was in fact the same place as the site of old Troy, which was also known in the ancient world as Ilion. [HPC 131]
Point 2. After a major destruction of the citadel at old Troy sometime around the beginning of the 12th century BCE, which marks the end of a phase that archaeologists recognize as Troy VIIa, the importance of the site was radically diminished, and things stayed that way through the phase known as Troy VIIb, lasting into the 10th century BCE. After Troy VIIb comes Troy VIII, which marks a “Greek era” extending all the way to the so-called “Roman era” that is Troy IX. In the earliest phase of Troy VIII, from the 10th to the mid-7th century BCE, a small population was occupying the area of the citadel, and, on the western side of the citadel wall, they left behind some archaeological remains of a “place of memory” that must have commemorated in some way the epic traditions of the Trojan War (Aslan and Rose 2013:11). At a later phase of Troy VIII, in the mid-7th century BCE, there was a destruction, to be followed in the late 7th century by a reoccupation. From this time onward, in the latest phase of Troy VIII, we see the beginnings of the historical period. Now the old Troy is on its way to becoming the new Troy, that is, New Ilion. [HPC 131.]
Point 3. As in modern times, the old Troy of New Ilion was sought out in antiquity, most prominently by rulers striving to link themselves with the heroes who fought in the Trojan War of the epic past. In 480 BCE, as we read in Herodotus 7.43.2, Xerxes the king of the Persian Empire traveled to New Ilion and made sacrifice there to the goddess Athena, and his magi made libations to the hērōes ‘heroes’ who were entombed in the environs. Over a century later, Alexander the Great likewise sacrificed to Athena in New Ilion (Strabo 13.1.26 C593; Arrian Anabasis 1.11.7). [HPC 131–132.]
Point 4. I highlight the term used by Herodotus here at 7.43.2 in referring to the goddess Athena as worshipped in her sacred space at New Ilion: she is hē Ilias, meaning something like ‘she who is in Ilion’. But the name can also be interpreted to mean ‘she who is in the Iliad’, in the sense that Ilias as an ‘Iliad’ means simply ‘the song about Ilion’. [HPC 126.]
Point 5. Elsewhere, at 5.122.2, Herodotus uses the same expression hē Ilias in referring to the territory of Ilion as inhabited by Aeolians. The context is this: a Persian general was redeploying his forces at the time of the Ionian Revolt, ongoing in the first decade of the 5th century BCE, and he was moving his troops westward in the direction of the Hellespont (ἐπὶ τὸν Ἑλλήσποντον). Then, along the way to the Hellespont, ‘he captured all the Aeolians who inhabit the territory of Ilion [hē Ilias]’ (καὶ εἷλε μὲν Αἰολέας πάντας ὅσοι τὴν Ἰλιάδα νέμονται). This detail from Herodotus concerning hē Ilias as ‘the territory of Ilion’ is a most valuable piece of evidence showing that New Ilion was at this time inhabited by Aioleîs ‘Aeolians’. I should add that there is a plethora of further evidence showing the Aeolian identity of New Ilion in the era of Troy VIII. [HPC 142–146.]
Point 6. But now we must confront a big complication. This New Ilion was not the only ‘new Ilion’. As early as the late seventh century BCE, a rival ‘new Ilion’ emerged, and its occupants claimed that their site replaced the real Troy of olden days. This alternative New Ilion was located not far from the old Troy, but it was a different site. The inherited name of the site was Sigeion, and it was situated on a promontory at Kum Kale, overlooking the entrance to the narrows of the Hellespont. Archaeologists have securely identified the site at Cape Yenişehir as Sigeion. [HPC 143; see the map at HPC 158.]
Point 7. Like the New Ilion that was built over the old Troy, the site of Sigeion used to be occupied by Aeolians. Also, for some time in the seventh century BCE, Sigeion had been dominated by one particular sub-group of Aeolians, namely, the elites of Mytilene, which was then the most powerful city in Lesbos, an Aeolian island situated due west across the sea from the Aeolian mainland of northern Asia Minor. As we read in Strabo 13.1.38 C599, the Mytilenaeans under the leadership of one Archeanax built the walls of the citadel of Sigeion from the stones of the ruined walls of the ancient citadel of Troy. Strabo thinks that this important piece of information validates arguments made in the second century BCE by the antiquarian Demetrius of Scepsis, who denied any continuity between the old Ilion and the city of New Ilion as it existed in his own day, claiming that there was no trace left of the old Ilion—and that the site of this old city was not New Ilion but rather a village located some 30 stadium-lenghts to the southeast, in the territory of Scepsis. In terms of the theory posited by Demetrius, all the stones of the old Ilion had been used up in the process of building the walls of other cities like Sigeion. But we have already seen at Point 2 that the stones of the old Ilion were in fact still very much in evidence throughout the phase known as Troy VIII, and so the theory of Demetrius is invalidated. See also the comment on I.07.433–465 on the myth about the building of the Trojan Wall by Poseidon and Apollo for Laomedon, who had been king of Troy before Priam, I.07.452–453. Still, the information reported by Demetrius and transmitted by Strabo about the re-using of stones from old Troy for the building of new Troys retains its full value. A shining example of another such new Troy was the Aeolian city of Neon Teikhos ‘New Wall’, which belonged to a confederation of twelve Aeolian cities situated on the mainland of Asia Minor and commonly known as the Aeolian Dodecapolis (Herodotus 1.149.1 lists them all). [HPC 145–146. About Neon Teikhos, see also HPC 180.]
Point 8. Unlike New Ilion, which remained an Aeolian site, the city of Sigeion underwent a drastic change in identity, and this happened already in the late seventh century BCE. Somewhere around that time, control of Sigeion was seized by the Ionian city of Athens and taken away from the Aeolian city of Mytilene-in-Lesbos, which had dominated Sigeion earlier, as we saw at Point 7. I cannot go into details here about this drastic change, but I will at least highlight the fact that Sigeion is pictured as already belonging to Athens in the poetry of Alcaeus, who can be dated to the late seventh century BCE. Herodotus notes that Alcaeus himself says in his own poetry that his armor was captured from him by the Athenians in a battle against the Mytilenaeans, and that it was displayed by the enemy at the Athḗnaion ‘sacred space of Athena’ in Sigeion. Here is the way Herodotus says it at 5.95.1: ‘the Athenians have his [= Alcaeus’] armor and they have hung it up for display at the space of Athena [Athḗnaion] in Sigeion’ (τὰ δέ οἱ ὅπλα ἴσχουσι Ἀθηναῖοι καί σφεα ἀνεκρέμασαν πρὸς τὸ Ἀθήναιον τὸ ἐν Σιγείῳ). Strabo quotes the words of Alcaeus telling about the captured armor, and these words actually give the name of Athena’s sacred space as Glaukṓpion (Alcaeus F 401B via Strabo 13.1.37 C600). This same name Glaukṓpion, derived from the sacred epithet of Athena glaukôpis ‘having the looks of the owl’, is attested in Athens as well. There it applies to the sacred space of Athena Nike at the southwest corner of the acropolis (Callimachus F 238.11), and this space, like the Glaukṓpion in Sigeion, can be dated at around 600 BCE. On the protracted war between the Athenians and the Mytilenaeans over the possession of Sigeion, I cite the primary sources here: Herodotus (5.94–95), Strabo (13.1.38–39 C599–600), and Diogenes Laertius (1.74); a most admirable secondary source is Aloni 1986. [HPC 142–146.]
Point 9. Just as Athena had a sacred space in the new Ilion of Sigeion, so also she had her own sacred space in the New Ilion built on top of the old Troy, where as we have already read in Herodotus 7.43.2 the goddess was worshipped as hē Ilias, meaning not only ‘she who is in Ilion’ but also ‘she who is in the Iliad’. As noted at Point 4, such an ‘Iliad’ was not the Homeric Iliad that we have but instead ‘the song about Ilion’ as it was known then—and as it was known even earlier when the occupants of Troy VIII were already venerating a “place of memory” commemorating the epic traditions of the Trojan War, as we saw at Point 2. [HPC 131.]
Point 10. There may be some uncertainties about positively identifying an earlier version of ‘Iliadic’ Athena—hē Ilias—as the goddess who presided over the “place of memory” in the early phases of Troy VIII, but we can be quite certain about the actual linking of the old Troy with epic traditions about an old Troy. And here again the same expression hē Ilias applies: at Point 5, we already saw that Herodotus 5.122.2 says hē Ilias in referring to the territory of Ilion as inhabited by Aioleîs ‘Aeolians’. But now we will see that Herodotus also uses the same expression hē Ilias in a context where he refers to a territory belonging not only to Ilion but also to the Iliadic tradition of poetry. The context is this: Herodotus is describing a scene where representatives of the cities of Mytilene and Athens, which have evidently already fought in many wars over the possession of Sigeion, are submitting their dispute to inter-state arbitration, and now the Aeolians of Mytilene are demanding that the Athenians give back to them the territory of Sigeion and its environs (Herodotus 5.94.2): ‘You see, the Mytilenaeans and the Athenians had been waging war with each other for the longest time. One side [= the Mytilenaeans] operated out of the city [polis] of Akhílleion and the other side [= the Athenians], out of Sigeion. They [= the Mytilenaeans] were demanding the return of the territory [khōrā], but the Athenians rejected the demand, trying to demonstrate by way of what they said that the Aeolians were no more entitled to the Iliadic territory [hē Ilias khōrā] than were they [= the Athenians] and all the other Hellenes who had joined forces in avenging Menelaos for the abduction of Helen’ (ἐπολέμεον γὰρ ἔκ τε Ἀχιλληίου πόλιος ὁρμώμενοι καὶ Σιγείου ἐπὶ χρόνον συχνὸν Μυτιληναῖοί τε καὶ Ἀθηναῖοι, οἱ μὲν ἀπαιτέοντες τὴν χώρην, Ἀθηναῖοι δὲ οὔτε συγγινωσκόμενοι ἀποδεικνύντες τε λόγῳ οὐδὲν μᾶλλον Αἰολεῦσι μετεὸν τῆς Ἰλιάδος χώρης ἢ οὐ καὶ σφίσι καὶ τοῖσι ἄλλοισι, ὅσοι Ἑλλήνων συνεπρήξαντο Μενέλεῳ τὰς Ἑλένης ἁρπαγάς). As the wording of Herodotus indicates, the Aeolian city of Mytilene in Lesbos claimed to be representing all Aeolic-speaking Hellenes in claiming possession of the Iliadic territory of Sigeion in the Troad. By contrast, the city of Athens claimed to be representing all Hellenes who took part in the Trojan War. From the standpoint of both sides, then, the disputed territory is poetic as well as political. [HPC 145.]
[[GN 2016.10.08.]]

I.09.340–343

Q&T via BA 107–108
subject heading(s): Achilles as lover
By now the feelings of Achilles about the captive woman Briseis whom he had won and then lost as a war-prize have deepened and intensified. He says that he now loves her as if she were his wife. And he asks ironically: are Agamemnon and Menelaos the only Achaeans entitled to love their wives? And do they even love them? Whether or not they do, is the wife of Menelaos, Helen, really worth fighting for and even dying for? [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 107–108.]]

I.09.346–352

Q&T via BA 46–48
subject heading(s): fire of Hector
Achilles in his speech here returns to something that Odysseus had said at I.09.241–243: how the Achaeans are afraid that Hector’s fire will reach their ships beached at the Hellespont, and that such a disaster would surely destroy them. Achilles now gives a biting response at I.09.347: let Agamemnon find a way to ward off the fire of Hector without the help of Achilles. The verb used here for the idea of finding a way, phrazesthai ‘devise a plan’, is correlated with the noun mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ in Homeric diction, as we see in the wording of Achilles at a later point, I.09.423. Since Odysseus is the primary exponent of mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ in Homeric poetry, Achilles is in effect saying to him at I.09.347: let Agamemnon rely on your mētis, Odysseus, since he cannot any longer rely on my biē ‘force, violence, strength’. As we will see in a later comment, Achilles is the primary exponent of biē ‘force, violence, strength’ in Homeric poetry, just as Odysseus is the primary exponent of mētis ‘mind, intelligence’. According to the scholia A for I.09.347, Aristarchus apparently thought that the passage we are now considering, I.09.346–352, was an allusion to another passage, O.08.072–083, which is about a quarrel that once took place between Achilles and Odysseus over one overriding question: will Troy be conquered by relying on the physical power of Achilles or on the mental power of Odysseus? [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 46–48; also BA 24, 335.]]

I.09.359–363

subject heading(s): Hellespont
As we will see in later comments, Achilles has a special relationship with the Hellespont. [[GN 2016 via BA 343.]]

I.09.360

subject heading(s): Hellespont; ikhthuoeis ‘fish-swarming’ as an epithet of the Hellespont; ikhthuoeis ‘fish-swarming’ as an epithet of pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’
At I.07.063–064, we saw that a young hero named Phríxos escaped the dangers of the póntos ‘[sea-] crossing’ that is the Hellespont, as we read in Pindar Pythian 4.160–161: Pindar’s wording goes on to say that Phríxos was ‘saved’, saōthē, because he was carried to safety by the ram with the golden fleece. But the young heroine Héllē, who was the sister of Phrixos, did not escape the dangers: she fell off the ram and drowned in the stormy waters of the Hellespont, as we read in Apollodorus 1.9.1. That is why the Hellespont is named after her: Hellḗs-pontos means ‘the [sea-] crossing of Hellē’. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 340.]]

I.09.404–405

subject heading(s): Apollo at Delphi
In the Iliad and Odyssey, Apollo at Delphi is mentioned only here at Ι.09.404–405 and at O.08.079–081. [[GN 2017.05.18.]]

I.09.410–416

subject heading(s): kḗr ‘cut, slice, portion, fated death’; kleos ‘glory’; nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’
From the standpoint of its etymology, derived as it is from the verb keirein ‘cut, slice’, the noun kḗr in the sense of a ‘cut’ or a ‘slice’ or a ‘portion’ need not convey the negative idea of a ‘fated death’. When a hero chooses between two alternative kêres or ‘fates’, one of the two alternatives may be death but the other may be life. Thus when Achilles here speaks of two alternative kêres or ‘fates’ that may await him, namely, either the kleos or ‘glory’ that he will get if he dies young in the Trojan War or the nostos or ‘homecoming’ that will be his if he abandons that war, I.09.413, the second alternative is not really a ‘fated death’ for Achilles as is the first alternative. Instead, a nostos ‘homecoming’ would give him life. But this life would be limited. It would last only until the hero’s age runs out of time, just as the age of a plant will surely run out of time. Conversely, the kleos ‘glory’ that the hero would get from dying young in the Trojan War would have an unlimited life of its own, because this kleos is conferred by poetry, and this poetry is held to be imperishable. [[GN 2016.08.25.]]

I.09.413

subject heading(s): kleos ‘glory, fame’; aphthito- ‘imperishable, unwilting’; Phthiē (homeland of Achilles); kḗr ‘cut, slice, portion, fated death’; nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’
The kleos ‘glory’ of the song that glorifies Achilles will be aphthiton ‘imperishable, unwilting’, I.09.413. The analysis here will focus first on the general sense of ‘imperishable’ and then on the specific sense of ‘unwilting’. The Greek combination of the adjective áphthiton ‘imperishable’ with the noun kléos ‘glory, fame’ here at I.09.413 is parallel to the Indic combination of the adjective ákṣita- ‘imperishable’ with the noun śrávas ‘glory, fame’ at Rig-Veda 1.9.7 (full argumentation in GMP 123–126). From the standpoint of the formulaic system inherited by Homeric diction, the function of the adjective áphthiton in combination with the noun kléos ‘glory, fame’ in the expression kleos aphthiton estai (κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται) at I.09.413 can be not only predicative, ‘the glory will be imperishable’, but also attributive, ‘there will be a glory that is imperishable’. An attributive syntax is indicated by the shorter expression kleos estai (κλέος ἔσται), as at I.07.458, meaning ‘there will be a glory’. There is also the comparative evidence of the attributive syntax that we see at work in the cognate wording of Sappho Song 44.4, … kleos aphthiton (… κλέος ἄφθιτον) ‘imperishable glory’ (line-final), and of Ibycus S151.47, … kleos aphthiton hexeis (… κλέος ἄφθιτον ἑξεῖς) ‘you will have imperishable glory’ (line-final). On the other hand, the expression kleos aphthiton estai (κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται) at I.09.413 seems to be coefficient with the expression kleos oupot’ oleitai (κλέος οὔποτ’ ὀλεῖται) as at I.02.325, ‘the glory will never perish’. See the comment on I.02.325. The syntax of kleos oupot’ oleitai ‘the glory will never perish’, if we compare it to the syntax of kleos aphthiton estai at I.09.413, may point to a predicative use of the adjective aphthiton: ‘the glory will be imperishable’. It has been suggested that the expression kleos oupot’ oleitai (κλέος οὔποτ’ ὀλεῖται) ‘the glory will never perish’ could have been used instead of kleos aphthiton estai (κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται) even at I.09.413 if it were not for the fact that the word ōleto (ὤλετο) ‘perished’ (the subject is nostos ‘[safe] homecoming’) is already used at the beginning of the same verse. It does not follow, however, that the wording kleos aphthiton estai (κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται) instead of kleos oupot’ oleitai (κλέος οὔποτ’ ὀλεῖται) at I.09.413 must be some kind of a reactive innovation: on the contrary, this wording can be an archaism that survives precisely for the stylistic purpose of avoiding an awkward duplication of wording in the same verse. As a general approach to poetics, I suggest that allowance should regularly be made for the possibility that older forms can be activated in situations where a more innovative equivalent form might create a poetically awkward side-effect (GMP 122–123). That said, my focus of analysis now shifts from the general sense of the adjective aphthito- as ‘imperishable’ to its specific sense as ‘unwilting’. This sense has already been noted in the comments on I.01.155, I.02.046, I.02.325. Unlike a plant that runs out of time, the kleos of poetic ‘glory’ is like an imperishable flower that will never wilt, never lose its vibrant color and aroma. Accordingly, the kleos aphthiton of Achilles will be like an unwilting flower. And the way for a hero to be adorned with such an unwilting flower is to experience a fated death. That is why the alternative of death in a choice between kēres ‘fates’ is the desired choice for the hero to make. And that is why the meaning of kḗr defaults to ‘a fated death’ as desired by heroes in the epic world of heroes. See again the overall comment on I.09.410–416. For Achilles, the kleos aphthiton ‘unwilting glory’ that he chooses is really an alternative form of life, while the nostos ‘homecoming’ that he ultimately rejects is an alternative form of death, since the name of his homeland is Phthiē, a “speaking name” (nomen loquens) that means literally ‘the land of wilting’. See the comment on I.01.155. See also HPC 168n67 on the ritualized idea of wearing garlands that are ‘unwilting’ in a Thessalian ritual that honors Achilles. By contrast with the hero Achilles, however, who chooses kleos or poetic ‘glory’ instead of a nostos ‘homecoming’, the hero Odysseus does not need to make a choice. In fact, as we will see in a future comment, Odysseus cannot even make such a choice, since he needs a nostos ‘homecoming’ to achieve his own kleos or poetic ‘glory’, which will be ‘a song of homecoming’. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 135; also BA 29, 35, 39, 95, 102, 111, 119, 175–176, 184–185; PH 147, 227, 244–245; GMP 122–126, 136, 138.]]

I.09.421–422

subject heading(s): plural vs. dual; dual vs. plural
The syntax for referring to the pair of Ajax and Odysseus here is constructed in the plural. To be contrasted are the earlier constructions in the dual, I.09.182–198, where the referents might be the pair of Phoenix and Ajax—or a pairing of Phoenix with the whole group that he leads. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 55.]]

I.09.434–605

subject heading(s): speech of Phoenix to Achilles
Here, finally, is the speech of Phoenix, postponed because Odysseus took the initiative of speaking first. Whereas the Master Narrator did not use formal wording to introduce the speech of Odysseus at I.09.225–306, he does use formal wording to introduce at I.09.432–433 the speech of Phoenix. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51.]]

I.09.435–436

subject heading(s): fire of Hector
Phoenix speaks here about the need for Achilles to prevent the fire of Hector from setting the beached ships of the Achaeans on fire. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 335.]]

I.09.502–512

subject heading(s): atē ‘aberration’
The words of Phoenix warn against the dangers of atē ‘aberration’, I.09.512. The Litai, goddesses of supplication personified, I.09.502, afflict with atē a man who does wrong by showing cruelty to suppliants and rejecting their supplications, I.09. 510–512. The warning here is intended for Achilles. But why is it that Achilles should heed the Litai? An answer emerges at I.09.507, where the Litai are said to heal the damage caused by the atē ‘aberration’ that is committed by wrongdoers when these wrongdoers offer compensation for such atē. As we saw in the comment on I.09.115–120, Agamemnon admits his atē ‘aberration, for which he stands ready to offer apoina ‘compensation’, I.09.120. In rejecting the Litai, one is rejecting the process whereby compensation can be awarded for damage suffered—and the word for ‘damage’ is Atē personified at I.09.504 and I.09.505. Further, the punishment for such refusal is another round of atē ‘aberration’—this time suffered by the one who rejects the Litai, I.09.510–512. For Achilles, such an atē would be the death of his other self, Patroklos, who personally experiences atē at the moment of his death, I.16.805, in the form of an aberration of the senses. See the comments on I.16.685–687 and on I.16.804–806. At I.19.268–275, Achilles seems to recognize that both he and Agamemnon have in the end been afflicted with atē. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PH 242, 254.]]

I.09.522

subject heading(s): ascending scale of affection; philos (plural philoi) ‘near and dear’; philtatos ‘nearest and dearest’
Phoenix refers to the three ambassadors, including himself, as philtatoi, the ‘nearest and dearest’ to Achilles. But the relationship of Achilles to the three has its problems, as analyzed in the comment for I.09.193–198. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 57.]]

I.09.524–599

Q&T of I.09.524–525 via BA 103–104
subject heading(s): the story of Meleagros and Kleopatra; houtō(s) ‘this is how’; [ainos ‘coded words; fable’;] klea andrōn | hērōōn ‘the glories [klea] of men who were heroes’; name of Patroklos; name of Kleopatra; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); ascending scale of affection; philos ‘near and dear’; hetairos ‘companion’
The story told by Phoenix about Meleagros and Kleopatra is introduced at the very beginning, I.09.524, by the expression houtō ‘this is how’, which conventionally introduces a discourse containing a moral message, such as a fable. The Greek word for such discourse is ainos, the meaning of which is impossible to translate by way of any single English word. For want of a better alternative, I define ainos pragmatically as ‘coded words’—a ‘coded message’. In the case of the story told by Phoenix, it is intended to carry a moral message for Achilles. The story is described, already at I.09.524, as klea andrōn | hērōōn ‘the glories [klea] of men who were heroes’. By convention, such an expression refers to song, especially to the medium of epic. We saw at I.09.185–191 a truncated version of this expression, klea andrōn, ‘the glories [klea] of men’, I.09.189, and the performer in that context was Achilles himself, singing his song while accompanying himself on the lyre. The male hero in the story of Phoenix, Meleagros, is like Achilles. He too is angry at his community, and he too has withdrawn from fighting in a war, leaving his own people in desperate trouble. Those who are near and dear to him now approach Meleagros, imploring him to return to the fight and making their appeals to him as suppliants. The narrative arranges the order of the suppliants in terms of the hero’s ascending scale of affection. Those who are starting off on the lower levels of this scale will be mentioned earlier, while those who end up on the higher levels will be mentioned later. So, the highest someone on this scale will be mentioned last. Near the top of the scale are the hetairoi ‘companions’ of Meleagros, I.09.585, who are described at I.09.586 as philtatoi ‘nearest and dearest’ to him. So also Phoenix thinks that he and his fellow ambassadors, as companions of Achilles, should be placed at the very top of his ascending scale of affection. But the highest person on the ascending scale of affection for Meleagros turns out to be his wife, named Kleopatra, I.09.556. Her name fits the moral message of the story, since Kleopátrā means ‘she who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors’. Thus Kleopatra is the very embodiment of the story described as klea andrōn | hērōōn ‘the glories [klea] of men who were heroes’, since heroes are figured as stylized ancestors of the community. But the question is, what meaning will this story have for Achilles? For this hero, the top of his own ascending scale of affection will turn out to be Patroklos, whose full name, Patrokléēs, has the same meaning as the name of Kleopátrā, but the two elements of the name, kleos ‘glory’ and pateres ‘ancestors’ are in reverse. Each of the two names is a “speaking name” (nomen loquens), and both names mean ‘he/she who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors’. Further, as noted in the comment for I.09.185–191, the etymology of the name Patrokléēs can be adjusted by way of interpreting the component kléos ‘glory’ in the plural sense of the word, not only in the singular sense: ‘he who has the glories [klé(e)a of the ancestors [patéres]’. And the same can be said for Kleopátrā: ‘she who has the glories [klé(e)a of the ancestors [patéres]’. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 103–106, 111, 238; PH 196–197, 205.]]

I.09.561–564

subject heading(s): second name of Kleopatra; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); lament
Here at I.09.561–564, it is revealed that Kleopatra had a second “speaking name” (nomen loquens), and that this name had to do with the singing of laments. Her second name was Alkuónē, I.09.562, which was given to her as a reminder of sorrows suffered by her mother, who is said to have lamented just as a songbird laments, I.09.562–564. The lamenting songbird here is the halkúōn ‘halcyon’, described as polupenthēs ‘having much grief’, I.09.563. See also the comments on I.22.483 and on Ι.24.708, analyzing further contexts where penthos ‘grief’ is connected with singing songs of ritual lament. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PasP 51.]]

I.09.590–594

subject heading(s): lament by Kleopatra; ascending scale of affection
For Meleagros, what elevates Kleopatra to the top of his own ascending scale of affection is her lament at I.09.590–594 expressing her grim premonition about a destroyed city. Suddenly, Meleagros comes to his senses and sees for the very first time that the doomed city as pictured in the lament of Kleopatra will be his very own city if he does not take immediate action. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PasP 51.]]

I.09.602

subject heading(s): fire of Hector
Once again, the fire of Hector looms as a threat to the salvation of the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 335.]]

I.09.606–619

subject heading(s): speech of Achilles in response to Phoenix
The speech of Achilles in response to Phoenix is remarkably brief in comparison to his speech in response to Odysseus. If Phoenix had spoken first, the response of Achilles would have been different. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]

I.09.617–618

subject heading(s): plural vs. dual
Once again, the pairing of Ajax and Odysseus is a plural instead of a dual construction. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 55.]]

I.09.624–642

subject heading(s): speech of Ajax, but not to Achilles
This speech is not even addressed to Achilles: Ajax speaks to Odysseus, telling him that it is not even worth trying to speak to Achilles. It is a form of ignoring a person, comparable perhaps to the partial ignoring of Odysseus by way of dual constructions. See the comment on I.09.193–198. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51.]]

I.09.628–638

subject heading(s): ascending scale of affection
Ajax here is accusing Achilles of ranking Briseis ahead of his own companions by failing to be swayed when they assure him that they are near and dear to him. There will be more about this speech in a future comment, with analysis of parallelisms between this passage and a passage dealing with a litigation scene as depicted on the Shield of Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PH 253.]]

I.09.642

subject heading(s): ascending scale of affection
As Ajax declares, the three ambassadors desire to be philtatoi ‘most near and dear’ to Achilles. So, they desire to be at the very top of this hero’s ascending scale of affection. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 106.]]

I.09.643–655

subject heading(s): speech of Achilles in response to Ajax
The response of Achiles to Ajax is stark, as we see in common on I.09.650–653. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]

I.09.650–653

subject heading(s): fire of Hector
This time, Achilles himself declares that he will not concern himself with the Trojan War until Hector’s fire reaches the Achaean ships beached on the Hellespont. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 335.]]

I.09.656–657

subject heading(s): plural vs. dual
Phoenix stays behind in the shelter of Achilles while the rest of the delegation make their way back to the headquarters of Agamemnon. Odysseus is the leader of the remaining group, I.09.657, and this group is designated in the plural, not in the dual. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51, 55.]]

I.09.664–668

subject heading(s): Aeolian women in the Iliad
In this passage, two more women whom Achilles had captured are named: (1) Diomede, daughter of Phorbas, from Lesbos and (2) Iphis from Skyros. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 140.]]

I.09.674

subject heading(s): fire of Hector
Now Agamemnon is asking Odysseus whether Achilles is willing to ward off the fire of Hector from the beached ships of the Achaeans. The obsession with this fire has lost none of its intensity. [[GN 2016.08.25.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 10

2016.09.14

My comments here on Rhapsody 10 are mere supplements to the extensive commentary of Dué and Ebbott 2010.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig10
Figure 10. Dolon. Detail from an Attic red-figure lekythos (460 BCE). Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.10.000

At the very beginning of the Iliadic text of Rhapsody 10, we find an interesting claim in the accompanying annotations known as the T scholia, which stem from Homeric research ongoing in the ancient world. According to that claim, this rhapsōidíā had been composed by Homer separately, not as part of the Iliad, and the separate composition was later arranged, tetákhthai, by Peisistratos to fit into the Iliad. Such a sense of separateness in the content of Rhapsody 10—a separateness already noted, as we have just seen, in the ancient world—is due at least in part to a single basic fact: the actions of heroes here take place at night, not in the daytime. The tactics and even the ethics of nighttime warfare are in many ways different from the protocols of daytime warfare as narrated in the rest of the Iliad, and the differences are traced in the commentary of Dué and Ebbott 2010. And I would add that there are cognate patterns of nighttime warfare in Iranian epic traditions: see Davidson 2013:95–97 (for relevant observations on the figure of Dolon in Rhapsody 10 of the Iliad, see also Davidson 1979). As for the ancient claim that Rhapsody 10 was supposedly inserted into a pre-existing series of 23 rhapsodies, I have serious problems even with the chronology of such a claim. Whereas Peisistratos of Athens lived in the sixth century BCE, the division of the Iliad and Odyssey each into 24 performance-units or rhapsōidiai can now plausibly be dated as far back as the late eighth and early seventh century BCE: see Nagy 2015.12.24 following Frame 2009 ch. 11. My view here supersedes an earlier view of mine as noted in PasP 181–182, where I considered the era of Demetrius of Phaleron, late fourth century BCE, as a possible setting for the division of the Iliad and Odyssey into 24 rhapsōidiai. [[GN 2016.09.14.]]

I.10.032–033

subject heading(s): the expression ‘(and) he was honored [tīein] as a god [theos] in the district [dēmos]’ (θεὸς [δ’] ὣς τίετο δήμῳ); hero cult; cult hero
Agamemnon in his role as king here is described in a way that goes beyond the epic action of the moment: the idea that he is honored as a god in his community back home evokes the further idea of his being worshipped there as a cult hero. See anchor comment at I.05.077–078. [[GN 2016.09.14 via BA 149, GMP 132–133.]]

I.10.043–052

subject heading(s): antagonism between immortal and mortal; boulē ‘wish, plan’; mētis ‘mind, intelligence’
In these verses, Agamemnon worries about the partiality shown by Zeus to Hector. According to Agamemnon, Zeus favors Hector because of the hiera ‘sacrifices’ offered by that hero to the god, I.10.046, and Zeus shows his favor by letting Hector win against the Achaeans. That is why the Achaeans now need to devise a boulē in the specific sense of a clever ‘plan’, I.10.043, which is kerdaleē ‘crafty’, I.10.044—a plan that is crafty enough to counter the many baneful things that Hector will do to damage the Achaeans by way of his mētis ‘mind, intelligence’, I.10.048. The idea of ‘doing by way of mētis’ here at I.10.048 is expressed by the derivative verb mētīesthai (aorist mētīsasthai)—which is later picked up by the verb mēdesthai ‘devise’ at I.10.52, referring again to the many baneful things that Hector will do—or ‘devise’—against the Achaeans. You would think, adds Agamemnon, that Hector was the son of some god or of some goddess, I.10.050. This wording about Hector evokes the reality of an ongoing antagonism between the goddess Athena and the hero Hector. Already at I.07.047, the wording of the seer Helenos is referring to such a reality: Helenos addresses his brother Hector by describing him as comparable to the god Zeus himself with respect to Hector’s qualities of mētis ‘mind, intelligence’, and the wording of this description is a direct affront to the divinity Athena, who is the very personification of mētis ‘mind, intelligence’. [[GN 2016.09.11 via BA 145.]]

I.10.212–213

subject heading(s): ep’ anthrōpous ‘throughout humankind’,
Nestor is speaking to the assembled Achaean chieftains about a spying mission to be undertaken by a volunteer Achaean: whoever succeeds in accomplishing such a mission will have kleos ‘glory’ because he will be remembered and named in a song of praise that will be sung about him, I.10.212, and such a song will be sung ep’ anthrōpous ‘throughout humankind’, I.10.21. [[GN 2016.09.14.]]

I.10.213

anchor comment on ep’ anthrōpous ‘throughout humankind’, used in combination with words referring to remembrance by way of song
occurrences of ep’ anthrōpous ‘throughout humankind’: I.10.213 (with kléos [κλέος] at I.10.212); I.24.202 (with kleesthai [ἔκλε(ο)] at the same verse); I.24.535 (with kekasthai [ἐκέκαστο] at the same verse); O.01.299 (with kleos [κλέος] at O.01.298); O.03.252 (in this context, the question is where Menelaos was wandering when Agamemnon was killed by Aigisthos: the question is about that story, but the word for ‘story’ or ‘song’ here is not made explicit); O.14.403 (with eükleiē [ἐϋκλείη] at O.14.402); O.19.334 (with kleos [κλέος] at O.19.333); O.23.125 (there is a reference here to the storied fame of the mētis ‘intelligence, mind’ of Odysseus, but the word for ‘fame’ here is not made explicit); O.26.094 (with kleos [κλέος] at the same verse); O.24.201 (with aoidē [ἀοιδή] ‘song’: here the song about Klytaimestra is not glorious but inglorious); Homeric Hymn to Apollo 82 with poluōnumos [πολυώνυμος] at the same verse: the temple of Apollo will have great fame and thus it will be ‘having many names’]
The syntax of this expression ep’ anthrōpous, meaning ‘throughout humankind’, is unusual in Homeric diction, since there are no obvious parallels to be found for the combination of the preposition epi, ordinarily meaning ‘on’, with the accusative of anthrōpoi ‘humans’. Here and in other occurrences of this expression, what holds the syntax together, it appears, is the idea of a song that spreads the remembrance or even the fame and glory of a story throughout all of humanity. The anchor comment here at I.10.213 accounts for all the occurrences of this expression in Homeric diction. [[GN 2016.09.13 via BA 37.]]

I.10.224–226

subject heading(s): noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’
In the wording of Diomedes here, it all comes down to the need for noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’ in the special sense of ‘taking the initiative’, as the verb is used at I.10.224 and at I.10.225, both times in conjunction with the related noun nóos ‘mind’ at I.10.226. See also anchor comment at I.05.669 on: noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’. [[GN 2016.09.14 via BA 51.]]

I.10.227–232

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’
The catalogue here of heroes who volunteer to accompany Diomedes on his nighttime spying mission is organized by way of repeating the verb (e)thelein ‘wish’ in the specialized sense of ‘volunteer’, and the various heroes who do volunteer are figured as the subjects of the repeated verb. Each one of these heroes is a potential candidate for the title ‘best of the Achaeans’. As the narrative proceeds, Odysseus will emerge as the most qualified for that title at this moment.

I.10.228

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; therapontes of Ares; ‘the two Ajaxes’
In contexts where the plural therapontes in combination with Arēos ‘of Ares’ is applied to the Achaeans=Danaans=Argives (here, to the ‘two Ajaxes’) as a grouping of warriors, the deeper meaning is more evident than in other contexts. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.08.079 via BA 293–295; GMP 48; H24H 6§32.]]

I.10.233–240

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’
Diomedes has to choose among the volunteers who are willing to accompany him on his nighttime spying mission. Agamemnon addresses Diomedes at this point, urging him to choose the hero who is truly most qualified, truly aristos ‘best’, I.10.236, and not to defer to someone who is superior in social status but inferior in heroic status, I.10.237–238. Agamemnon fears for the life of his brother, Menelaos, who is one of the volunteers, I.10.240. Evidently, Agamemnon fears that at least one of the other volunteers in fact superior to Menelaos. But the wording of Agamemnon betrays his own potential inferiority: he says explicitly to Diomedes that he should not chose a hero just because that hero may be basileuteros ‘more kingly’, I.10.239. The same wording, ironically, is used by Agamemnon in another context, where he claims superiority to Achilles himself on the grounds that he, Agamemnon, is basileuteros ‘more kingly’, Ι.09.160. In the present context, Agamemnon neglects to think of himself as a potential referent, since he was not one of the heroes who volunteered for the nighttime mission. See also I.09.392, where Achilles sarcastically uses the same word in rejecting the offer of Agamemnon: let the over-king choose as his son-in-law someone who is basileuteros ‘more kingly’ that I am. [[GN 2016.09.14 via BA 34; see also Dué and Ebbott 2010:283–284.]]

I.10.241–247

subject heading(s): noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’; nosteîn ‘have a safe homecoming [nostos]’.
Diomedes chooses Odysseus as the most qualified to accompany him, saying at I.10.247 that he and Odysseus would have the best chance at ‘having a (successful) homecoming’, expressed here by the verb nosteîn, because Odysseus has superior expertise in ‘taking note’, expressed here by the verb noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’. Here we see the special links of the hero Odysseus with the Odyssean themes expressed by the noun/verb nóos/noeîn, basically meaning ‘mind’ / ‘take note (of), notice, have in mind’, and the noun/verb nóstos/nosteîn, basically meaning ‘homecoming’/’have a homecoming’. On the ideas expressed by noeîn in connection with Odysseus, see the anchor comment at I.05.669. [[GN 2016.09.14 via BA 34–35, 51.]]

I.10.249–253

Q&T via BA 34, 240
subject heading(s): aineîn ‘praise’; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; language of praise/blame
The words of Odysseus here, I.10.249–253, spoken in response to the preceding words of Diomedes, I.10.241–247, highlight the need for balancing the positive force of praise poetry and the negative force of blame poetry, as expressed respectively here by way of aineîn ‘praise’ and neikeîn ‘quarrel with’. The idea that Diomedes is speaking to a group who are ‘knowing’, eidótes, is a stylized way of referring to the audiences of epic in general: such audiences would be knowledgeable about how much praise and how much blame Odysseus deserves. [[GN 2016.09.14 via BA 34, 240; GMP 16; see also Dué and Ebbott 2010:289–290.]]

I.10.316

subject heading(s): podōkēs ‘swift-footed’
Except for this verse, where Dolon is described as podōkēs ‘swift-footed’, the only hero in the Iliad who is described by way of this same epithet—together with related epithets—is Achilles. [[GN 2016.09.14 via BA 326.]]

I.10.329

subject heading(s): ístō ‘let him/her be a witness’
This expression, imperative perfect of eidénai, which is normally translated ‘know’, needs to be compared with the corressponding agent noun (h)ístōr ‘witness, arbitrator’. [[GN 2016.09.14 via PH 251.]]

I.10.415

subject heading(s): boulē ‘wish, plan’
Hector here is reportedly ‘planning plans’: boulas bouleuei, at the sēma ‘tomb’ of Ilos, cult hero of Ilion, that is, of Troy. By implication, Hector achieves mental connectivity with the spirit of Ilos. [[GN 2016.09.14 via BA 145 and PH 293.]]

I.10.437

subject heading(s): thematic links for the swiftness of horses, the violence of wind, and the role of the war god Ares as a model for warriors
There is a hint here, but only a hint, of a Homeric themes linking the swiftness of horses with the violence of wind, and such a link extends also to the role of the war god Ares as a model for warriors. [[GN 2016.09.14 via BA 327.]]

I.10.437

Q&T via MoM 2§32.
subject heading(s): simile
The simile here is activated by the adjective homoio- ‘similar to’, where the likeness expressed by the simile does not have to be permanently applicable. On the concept of a simile, see the anchor comment at I.05.441. [[GN 2016.09.14 via MoM 2§32.]]

I.10.482

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’
The goddess Athena is engaged here in the act of en-pneîn ‘breathing into’ the hero Diomedes something called menos ‘mental power’, I.10.482. Such ‘mental power’ makes the hero aware of his physical power and thus energizes him to perform heroic deeds. At highlighted moments in the Odyssey, Athena engages in comparable moments of intervention. [[GN 2016.09.14 via GMP 114.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 11

2016.09.22

My comments here on Iliad 11 work around Nestor’s story at I.11.670–803 as analyzed in the the book Hippota Nestor by Douglas Frame, 2009:105–130.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig11
Figure 11. Nestor and his sons sacrifice to Poseidon. Attic red-figure calyx-krater, ca. 400–380 BCE. © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons.

I.11.001–002

subject heading(s): Ēōs ‘Dawn’, Tīthōnos
At O.05.001–002 and here at I.11.001–002, Ēōs as goddess of the dawn is linked with a myth that tells how she abducted the young hero Tīthōnos. The myth is narrated Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 218–238. [[GN 2017.04.12 via GMP 252.]]

I.11.005–016

subject heading(s): bay of the Hellespont; klisiā ‘shelter’; eris ‘strife’; post-heroic age; sterns of the Achaeans ships; Scamander; Hellespont; headquarters of the Achaeans; naustathmon ‘ship-station’
As indicated already in the comment for I.08.220–227, the ships of the Achaeans are beached along the shores of a large U-shaped bay that opens into the Hellespont. See again Map 1 and Map 2 at HPC 157 and 158 respectively. At the upper left and the upper right tips of the U-shaped bay, at the northwest and northeast, are the beached ships of Achilles and of Ajax respectively, I.11.008–009. Also at those points are the klisiai ‘shelters’ of these two heroes, I.11.007. As for the beached ship of Odysseus, it is located at the base of the U-shaped bay, at the south in the middle of the bayline, I.11.005–006. There will be more to say about this location in the later comments at I.11.806–808 and at I.14.027–036. To be highlighted already now, however, is a detail about the ship of Odysseus: the goddess Eris ‘Strife’, who is here the spirit of war personified, I.11.004, is shown standing on the deck of this beached ship, which is said to be located en messatōi ‘in the middlemost space’, I.11.006, and from here she projects her voice of divine authority, shouting mightily to all the Achaeans stationed at their own ships, I.11.005–014, and all the Achaeans stationed at all the beached ships can hear the divine voice—from the ship of Achilles at one extreme of the U-shaped bay all the way to the ship of Ajax at the other extreme, I.11.007–009. Then, Agamemnon too shouts to the Achaeans, I.11.015–016, and his royal voice is figured here as an extension of the divine voice emanating from the goddess Eris herself, I.11.005–014. Later, in the comment on I.18.587–589, there will be more to say about the klisiā ‘shelter’ of Achilles, mentioned here together with the klisiā of Ajax, I.11.007–008: it can be argued that Achilles frequents this ‘shelter’ not only as an epic hero in the time of the Trojan War but also, in post-heroic times, as a cult hero (HPC 153). [[GN 2016.09.22.]]

I.11.032–040

subject heading(s): shield of Agamemnon
In the ancient world, the description of this shield was interpreted by some as an allegory of the cosmos, analogous to the description of the Shield of Achilles at I.18.478–609. One such interpreter was Crates of Mallos, contemporary of Aristarchus. For background on Crates, see the comment on I.14.245–246–246a. [[GN 2016.09.22 via HPC 358.]]

I.11.041

subject heading(s): helmet of Agamemnon
The description of the helmet of Agamemnon here at I.11.041 is cognate with the description of the helmet of Athena at I.05.743. [[GN 2016.09.22 via HC 4§100.]]

I.11.058

subject heading(s): the expression ‘(and) he was honored [tīein] as a god [theos] in the district [dēmos]’ (θεὸς [δ’] ὣς τίετο δήμῳ); hero cult; cult hero
The description of the epic hero Aeneas here indicates that there were rituals honoring him as a cult hero, and it may be that such rituals of hero cult were linked with myths about what happened to him after death. See anchor comment for I.05.077–078. [[GN 2016.09.22 via BA 149, 269; GMP 132–133.]]

I.11.078–079

subject heading(s): aitios ‘responsible’; Will of Zeus
At I.11.078, the gods are said to hold Zeus aitios ‘responsible’, as expressed by the verb aitioûn, derived from the adjective aitios, for the fact that the Trojans are now winning in the Trojan War while the Achaeans are losing. At I.11.079, this fact is attributed to the Will of Zeus: the god ‘wishes’ for this to happen, as expressed by the verb boulesthai ‘ wish, plan’. [[GN 2016.09.22 via PH 238.]]

I.11.104–112

subject heading(s): epic deeds of Achilles before the time dramatized in our Iliad; Achilles the Aeolian
This narrative alludes to the epic deeds of Achilles in the region of Mount Ida. These deeds, taking place before the time dramatized in the Iliad, will be analyzed in another comment. [[GN 2016.09.22 via BA 140.]]

I.11.200

subject heading(s): antagonism between immortal and mortal; mētis ‘mind, intelligence’
The description of Hector here as comparable to the god Zeus himself with regard to mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ is an implicit affront to Athena, who is the divine personification of mētis. See the comments on I.06.286–311, I.07.017–061, I.08.538–541, and I.10.043–052. [[GN 2016.09.22 via BA 145 and GMP 204.]]

I.11.218–231

subject heading(s): aristeiā ‘epic high point’; ‘best of the Achaeans’; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc
This narrative centers on the aristeiā ‘epic high point’ of Agamemnon in the Iliad. On aristeiā ‘epic high point’, see the comment on I.05.103. [[GN 2016.09.22 via BA 17.]]

I.11.218

subject heading(s): re-invocation of Muse(s); ennepein ‘narrate, tell’; Mousa ‘Muse’; singing as narrating
lemmatizing: ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ' ἔχουσαι
It has already been noted in the comment on I.02.484 that the Master Narrator tends to re-invoke the Muse or the Muses at special moments of poetic self-awareness about the need for high fidelity to tradition (see also Martin 1989:238). Such a moment is now at hand as Agamemnon the over-king is about to have his own moment of experiencing an ‘epic high point’. At such a moment, the Narrator must be ready to do his very best in recapturing that heroic experience. And, to express his readiness, the Narrator in all his self-awareness will now re-invoke the Muse or the Muses. In this context, the ‘I’ who is re-invoking the Muse(s) is meant to be seen as a re-enactment of ‘Homer’ himself, as originally enacted by the speaker who invokes the Muse at I.01.001 and at O.01.001. [[GN 2016.09.22 via PasP 44n11, 61.]]

I.11.227

subject heading(s): kleos ‘glory’ of the Achaeans
Even the most minor character in the Iliad—and the hero Iphidamas here is a striking example—is willing to die simply for the chance of getting included in the kleos ‘glory’ of the present performance, which is of course the Homeric Iliad itself. What makes the example of Iphidamas even more striking is that he is not even fighting on the Achaean side in this war. [[GN 2016.09.22 via BA 57, PH 148, H24H 1§§14–20.]]

I.11.288

subject heading(s): aristeiā ‘epic high point’; ‘best of the Achaeans’; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc
Here at I.11.288, Hector is boasting that Agamemnon, ‘the best man’, ho aristos, is now out of the picture. There is an irony built into the words of Hector, and this irony emerges from the context. The aristeiā ‘epic high point’ of Agamemnon in the Iliad, inaugurated in grand style when the Master Narrator invokes the Muses at I.11.218, does not go all that well for the high king. Early on in the fighting, he gets wounded in the hand, I.11.253. He tries to fight on, but the pain from the wound finally gets to him, I.11.268–272. The intensity of his pain is compared here to the birth-pangs experienced by a woman at the climax of her labor, I.11.269–271. Unable to withstand such pain any more, Agamemnon jumps back on the platform of his war chariot and orders his driver to drive him back to the safety of the beached ships of the Achaeans, I.11.273–274, shouting to his fellow warriors that they should now follow him in retreat and defend the ships, I.11.275–278, since, as he says, Zeus has not supported the ongoing offensive initiated by the Achaeans, I.11.278–279. So, the aristeiā ‘epic high point’ of Agamemnon has not exactly turned out to be a spectacular success. And Hector knows it. As the chariot of Agamemnon speeds this over-king away from the scene of battle, I.11.280–283, Hector notices, I.11.284, as expressed by the verb noeîn ‘take note’. It is in this context, then, that Hector says what he says at I.11.288: ‘the best man’, ho aristos, is now out of the picture. But of course the truly best of all the Achaeans is not yet in the picture. [[GN 2016.09.22 via BA 31.]]

I.11.295

subject heading(s): ‘equal to Ares’; thoós ‘running, swift’; Ares; ‘equal to a blast of wind’
The description of Hector as īsos Arēi ‘equal to Ares’ here at I.11.295 is parallel to his being described as atalantos Arēi ‘equal to Ares’ at I.08.215. For Hector and in fact for any heroic warrior in the Iliad, even for generic warriors, the idea of being ‘equal to Ares’ is parallel to the idea of being a therapōn of Ares, where therapōn is to be understood in the deeper sense of ‘ritual substitute’. About this deeper sense, see the comment on I.02.110. [[GN 2016.09.25.]]

I.11.297-298

subject heading(s): Battle for the Ships
The onslaught of Hector and his Trojans against the Achaeans is pictured here as a violent blast of wind in a storm that churns up the sea, which is called the pontos here at I.11.298. This onslaught will threaten the safety of the beached ships of the Achaeans, and thus it will threaten the very survival of the Achaeans and even of all Greeks as notional descendants of the Achaeans. See further on the Battle for the Ships in the comment on I.01.320–348. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 334, 337.]]

I.11.297

subject heading(s): ‘equal to a blast of wind’; thoós ‘running, swift’; Ares
Here at I.11.297, two verses after I.11.295, where Hector is described as īsos Arēi ‘equal to Ares’ (ἶσος Ἄρηϊ), the same Trojan hero is now further described as īsos aellēi ‘equal to a blast of wind’ (ἶσος ἀέλλῃ). This verse-final phrase īsos aellēi ‘equal to a blast of wind’ (ἶσος ἀέλλῃ) matches rhythmically the verse-final phrase īsos Arēi ‘equal to Ares’ (ἶσος Ἄρηϊ). Aside from the match in form, there is also a deep-seated match in meaning here between the phrases ‘equal to Ares’ and ‘equal to a blast of wind’, since the god of war is traditionally linked with violent winds. See the comment on I.05.430. Such a link is also attested in the cognate poetics of other Indo-European languages besides Greek: analysis in a later comment (via BA 334, 337). [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 294, 327.]]

I.11.317–319

Q&T via BA 81
subject heading(s): Will of Zeus; kratos ‘winning-power’; akhos ‘grief’; Akhaio-/Akhaiā-; etymology; Will of Zeus
In the words of Diomedes, the Will of Zeus is now in effect: the plan of the god is to give kratos ‘winning-power’ to the Trojans and to take it away from the Achaeans, I.11.319. In this verse, we see that Zeus ‘wishes’ for this to happen, as expressed by the verb boulesthai ‘want, wish, plan’. See also the comment on I.11.078–079, where boulesthai ‘wish, plan’ is already expressing the same idea. And, by taking kratos ‘winning-power’ away from the Achaeans, Zeus is giving them akhos ‘grief’ instead, on which see the comment on I.01.509. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 81, 334, 337.]]

I.11.322

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; “taking the hit”
Diomedes and Odysseus agree to fight as a team, I.11.310–319. Diomedes throws a spear at Thumbraios, who is riding on a chariot and who gets knocked to the ground by the piercing wound, I.11.320–321. Then Odysseus symmetrically wounds with his own piercing spear-throw the charioteer of Thumbraios, Molion, who is described here as the therapōn of Thumbraios, I.11.322. Presumably, Molion too has been riding on the same chariot and gets knocked to the ground. Molion is not overtly called the hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’ of Thumbraios, but the context shows that he is exactly that, the chariot driver. And, although Molion is the therapōn of Thumbraios, Molion does not get to “take the hit” for Thumbraios the chariot fighter, since that fighter is hit even before his driver is hit. So we see here an unexpected variation on the theme of the therapōn as ‘ritual substitute’ as well as ‘attendant’. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.04.227 via Nagy 2015.05.01, 2015.05.08, 2015.05.15, 2015.05.20.]]

I.11.347

subject heading(s): pēma ‘pain’; micro-Iliad; First Song of Demodokos; kulindesthai ‘roll’; Will of Zeus; boulē ‘wish, plan’ in the specific sense of ‘plan’
In the words of Diomedes, Hector is a pēma ‘pain’ for the Achaeans, I.11.347. The pain that he inflicts on them is visualized by way of the verb kulindesthai ‘roll’ in this same verse, I.11.347. The comparison that is implied by this verb becomes explicit at I.13.136–142, where we will see the menacing image of a boulder that breaks off from mountainous heights overhead and starts rolling downward from above, ever increasing in speed as it nears ground zero: only when the boulder has reached a level plain does it finally stop ‘rolling’, as expressed by the verb kulindesthai at I.13.142 (see H24H 5§10). In the framing verses of I.13.136-142, this visualization of the menacing boulder that is rolling down from the heights above is being compared to Hector himself as he rushes toward the Achaeans. The same visualization is implicit in the use of the verb kulindesthai ‘roll’ at I.11.347, where Hector is pictured as a pēma ‘pain’ that is rushing toward his enemies. See also the comment on I.17.098–101, where the death of Patroklos is viewed retrospectively as a great pēma ‘pain’, I.17.099, that was sure to kulindesthai ‘roll’ down from the heights like some boulder and to crush anyone daring to attack a warrior who is being protected by a god. And the same visualization of a breakaway boulder is implicit also in the combination of pēma ‘pain’ with kulindesthai ‘roll’ at O.08.081 of the “micro-Iliad” that is narrated at O.08.072–083, which is the First Song of Demodokos. In this song, at O.08.081, the ‘beginning of the pain [pēma]’ is pictured at the very beginning of the overall narrative: the pēma ‘pain’ is starting to ‘roll’, as expressed again by way of kulindesthai, and we see further at O.08.082 that this pain will be rolling toward Trojans and Achaeans (=Danaoi) alike. Ultimately, both sides in the Trojan War will feel the pain, and it is all because Zeus willed it to be this way: everything will happen the way it will happen ‘because of the plans [boulai] of Zeus’, O.08.082 (Διὸς μεγάλου διὰ βουλάς). [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 77.]]

I.11.488

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
The immediate context here shows that the therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’ is a chariot driver. He is not named. Nor is he described explicitly as a hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’, but that is what he is doing here—driving the chariot. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.11.497–500

subject heading(s): left-right co-ordination; viewing the scene of chariot fighting; Scamander; Achaean Wall; viewing the “theater of war”
Hector does not yet notice that Ajax is fighting on the right-hand side of the battleground since he, Hector, is at this moment fighting on the left-hand side, near the banks of the river Scamander. Although the perception is attributed to Hector here, the actual perspective is that of the Master Narrator, who consistently views the scene of chariot fighting from the Achaean point of view. In terms of this perspective, Hector is now fighting on the east side of the battleground while Ajax is fighting on the west side. The map of the battleground can be visualized on the cumulative basis of references, as here at I.11.497–500, to left-right positioning in descriptions of the fighting. What follows is an outline of the overall mapping. The Achaeans are encamped in the north and defending the Wall that separates them and their beached ships from the Trojans, who are attacking from the south. The river Scamander, flowing from the southeast toward the northwest and emptying into the Hellespont, separates Troy in the northeast from the encampment of the Achaeans in the northwest. Meanwhile, the Wall of the Achaeans separates their encampment and their ships in the northwest from the Trojans who are attacking the Wall from the south. The Achaeans built the Wall because the Trojans, emboldened by the momentum of Hector, have by now crossed over from the southeast side of the river Scamander to the southwest side, moving into the plain situated to the south of the Achaean Wall. So now this whole plain to the west of the Scamander has become a battleground for chariot fighting. Hector is fighting further to the east, staying close to the west bank of the Scamander, while Ajax is fighting further to the west. [[GN 2016.09.25 via HPC 160–165 (especially 164n53), with bibliography.]]

I.11.506

subject heading(s): aristeiā ‘epic high point’; ‘best of the Achaeans’; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc; aristeuein ‘strive to be the best’
The wounding of a hero, as in the case of the wound suffered by the hero Makhaon here, can put a stop to his aristeiā ‘epic high point’. See also the comment on I.11.288. The verb aristeuein here at I.11.506 can be interpreted as meaning ‘have an epic high point’, and we see that the wounding of Makhaon has stopped him from having such a high point. For more on aristeuein, which can also be translated as ‘strive to be the best, to be aristos’, see the comment at I.07.092–169. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 31.]]

I.11.508

tag: ‘breathing-out [pneîn]; menos ‘mental power’
The idea of ‘breathing out’ something called menos ‘mental power’ implies that such power was previously ‘breathed in’, that is, ‘breathed into’ the hero, by a divine force. Such a ‘breathing in’ happens for example at I.10.482: as it is pointed out in the comment on that verse, the goddess Athena is pictured there in the act of literally ‘breathing’, pneîn, into the hero Odysseus something called menos ‘mental power’. Here at I.11.508, the aggregate of warriors who are ‘breathing-out [pneîn] mental-power [menos]’ are the Achaeans viewed as a group; so also at I.03.008; by contrast, at I.02.536, the epithet applies to a sub-group, the Abantes. [[GN 2016.09.25 via GMP 114.]]

I.11.564

subject heading(s): polu- as ‘many different’ vs. ‘many’
The epikouroi ‘allies’ of the Trojans are described as polu-ēgerées, which means not ‘consisting of many groups’ but ‘consisting of many different groups’. Compare also I.02.804, I.17.156, I.11.642. [[GN 2016.09.25 via PasP 49n29.]]

I.11.599-600

subject heading(s): viewing the “theater of war”; viewing the scene of chariot fighting
The perspective of Achilles in viewing from his shelter the scene of chariot warfare as narrated here is precisely coordinated with the overall visual mapping of the ongoing battle. See the comment at I.11.497–500. [[GN 2016.09.25 via HPC 162n43.]]

I.11.604

Q&T via BA 33
subject heading(s): ‘equal to Ares’; ‘equal to a superhuman force [daimōn]’
Achilles calls out to Patroklos, who now comes out of the shelter. At this moment Patroklos is described as īsos Arēi ‘equal to Ares’, and the very application of this epithet here to Patroklos dooms him to die as a ritual substitute for Ares as god of war. That is why the ominous remark is added: ‘and that was the beginning of his doom’ (κακοῦ δ' ἄρα οἱ πέλεν ἀρχή). Much later, when he is finally killed, Patroklos is described as atalantos Arēi ‘equal to Ares’, I.16.784. For Patroklos, however, the ritual substitution involves not only Ares who is the god of war for the generic warrior: it involves also the god Apollo as the divine antagonist of Achilles. In Iliad 16, the death of Patroklos as a ritual substitute will be marked not only by the epithet atalantos Arēi ‘equal to Ares’ at I.16.784 but also by the epithet daimoni īsos ‘equal to a superhuman-force [daimōn]’ at I.16.705 and at I.16.786. This daimōn ‘superhuman force’ will be Apollo, the divine antagonist of Achilles. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 33, 293–294; PH 307.]]

I.11.620

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; Eurymedon
Eurymedon here is explicitly called the therapōn of Nestor, functioning as the ‘attendant’ of the old hero: at this moment, Eurymedon is taking care of the horse team of Patroklos, who has just driven his chariot to the headquarters of Nestor as the old hero’s guest, I.11.618–622. That passage is analyzed in the context of comparable passages at I.04.227. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.11.624–627

subject heading(s): epic deeds of Achilles before the time dramatized in the Iliad; Achilles the Aeolian
The narrative here at I.11.624–626 refers to the epic deeds of Achilles on the Aeolian island of Tenedos. These deeds, taking place before the time dramatized in the Iliad, will be analyzed in the anchor comment that immediately follows, at I.11.624–627. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 140.]]

I.11.624–627

anchor comment on Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 3
subject heading(s): conquest of Tenedos by Achilles the Aeolian; Hekamede the Aeolian; conquest of Lesbos by Achilles the Aeolian; seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; conquest of Lyrnessos and Thēbē by Achilles the Aeolian; Briseis the Aeolian; Chryseis the Aeolian; Andromache the Aeolian
The references at I.09.128–131 and at I.09.270–272 to the story about the conquest of the Aeolian island of Lesbos by Achilles are complemented by the reference here at I.11.624–627 to a story about the conquest of the Aeolian island of Tenedos by the same hero. At Lesbos, Achilles is said to have captured seven unnamed Aeolian women, I.09.128–131 / I.09.270–272. At Tenedos, he is said to have captured one particular Aeolian woman named Hekamede, who was thereafter allotted as a war-prize to Nestor I.11.624–627. And why was Nestor allotted this war-prize? Because Hekamede excelled in intelligence, signaled here by way of the word boulē, I.11.627. On the meaning of boulē in the specific sense of clever ‘planning’, see the comment on I.11.627 immediately after this comment. For the moment, however, the focus of interest is not on the matching of Nestor with Hekamede in terms of their shared intelligence but rather on the degrading of Hekamede as a captive woman. In the narrative at I.11.624–627, we can see how it all happened. After Achilles conquered Tenedos and captured Hekamede, what must have happened next is that he handed her over to his fellow Achaeans, who then acted as a group in alloting her as a war-prize to Nestor. Parallel is the story of the seven unnamed Aeolian captive woman who were captured by Achilles when he conquered the Aeolian island of Lesbos, as noted in the anchor comment at I.09.128–131 / I.09.270–272: again, Achilles must have handed over these seven unnamed Aeolian captive women to his fellow Achaeans, who then acted as a group in allotting them as war-prizes to Agamemnon. Also parallel are the stories of two other Aeolian captive women, Chryseis and Briseis, who were captured by Achilles when he conquered the cities of Thēbē and Lyrnessos respectively, as noted in the anchor comment at I.02.689–693: yet again, Achilles must have handed over these two Aeolian captive women to his fellow Achaeans, who then acted as a group in allotting them as war-prizes—to Agamemnon in the case of Chryseis and to Achilles himself in the case of Briseis. Yet another Aeolian captive woman is of course Andromache herself, who originated from the city of Thēbē: in this case, however, as noted in the anchor comment at I.09.128–131 / I.09.270–272, she is taken captive only after Troy is conquered by the Achaeans, who allot her as war-prize to Neoptolemos, son of Achilles, as we read in the Iliou Persis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, plot summary by Proclus p. 108 line 9 (ed. Allen 1912). See also anchor comment at I.02.689–694 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 1 and anchor comment at I.09.128–131 / I.09.270–272 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 2. [[GN 2016.10.06.]]

I.11.627

subject heading(s): boulē ‘wish, plan’
The Aeolian captive woman Hekamede excels in intelligence, as does Nestor, and such excellence is expressed here by way of the noun boulē in the specific sense of ‘plan, planning’, that is, having an aptitude for cleverness in planning. [[GN 2016.10.05.]]

I.11.664–667

subject heading(s): fire of Hector
Achilles is said here to be uncaring whether Hector sets fire to the ships of the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 335.]]

I.11.668

subject heading(s): īs ‘force, violence, strength’
This noun īs ‘force, violence, strength’ is a synonym of the noun biē. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 89.]]

I.11.670

subject heading(s): īs ‘force, violence, strength’
This noun īs ‘force, violence, strength’ is a synonym of the noun biē. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 89.]]

I.11.699–702

subject heading(s): four-horse chariot; Dardanidai
Homeric references to four-horse chariot teams are rare, indicative of Athenian agenda. See the comments on I.05.263–273 and I.08.185. [[GN 2016.09.25 via HPC 210.]]

I.11.671-761

subject heading(s): Gates of the Sun; Pylos; entrance to the underworld; pulartēs ‘gate-closer’; Hēraklēs; Hādēs; Gates of Hādēs
In the course of this lengthy narrative, I.11.671-761, the idea of a ‘gate’ of the Sun is linked with Nestor’s Pylos and with the underworldly Pylos of I.05.397. See also the comment at I.05.395–404. [[GN 2016.09.25 via GMP 225–226.]]

I.11.690

subject heading(s): bíē Hēraklēeíē ‘force of Hēraklēs’; biē ‘force, violence, strength’; kleos ‘glory’
See the comment on I.02.658. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 318.]]

I.11.735

subject heading(s): phaethōn ‘shining’ as epithet of Helios
In a later posting, the links that connect phaethōn ‘shining’ as epithet of Helios with the names Phaethōn and Phaethousa will be examined. [[GN 2016.09.25 via GMP 235.]]

I.11.784

subject heading(s): aien aristeuein ‘strive to be the best always’; aristeuein ‘strive to be the best’
To ‘strive to be the best always’, that was the instruction of Peleus to his son Achilles, and this instruction is relevant to the title ‘best of the Achaeans’ as claimed by the figure of Achilles. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 28.]]

I.11.787

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’
Conventionally, the heroic superiority of Achilles is measured in terms of his biē ‘force, violence, strength’. See the comment on I.09.346–352. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 47.]]

I.11.806–808

subject heading(s): bay of the Hellespont; headquarters of the Achaeans; naustathmon ‘ship-station’; sterns of the Achaeans ships; Scamander; klisiā ‘shelter’; Hellespont; eris ‘strife’; post-heroic age
Here as well as earlier at I.08.220–227 and at I.11.005–016, also later at I.14.027–036, the headquarters of the Achaeans are said to be located at the same place where the ship of Odysseus is beached, on the shores of the south end of the bay of the Hellespont. It is here, next to the beached ship of Odysseus, that the Achaeans of the Iliad hold their assemblies and perform their sacrifices, as we see from the wording at I.11.807–808. Such a centerpoint, then, is not only topographical: it is also political—even sacral. And it is from here that the king Agamemnon shouts his speech of royal authority, as we saw at I.08.220–227. Likewise, it is from here that the goddess Eris ‘Strife’, who is the spirit of war personified, shouts at the Achaeans with her voice of divine authority at I.11.005–014, echoed by Agamemnon’s voice of royal authority at I.11.015–016. The location of this political and sacral centerpoint is the naustathmon ‘ship-station’ of the Achaeans according to Strabo 13.1.31–32 C595 (quoted at HPC 153) and 13.1.36 C598 (quoted at HPC 154), who equates such a station with something called the limēn ‘harbor’of the Achaeans’. But such a notion of ‘harbor’ is misleading from the standpoint of the Iliad. As noted in the comment on I.08.220–227, the ships of the Achaeans were not floating at anchor in the bay of the Hellespont: rather, they were beached along the shores of the bay. [[GN 2016.09.25 via HPC 155–158, 160–161.]]

I.11.818

subject heading(s): devouring of corpses by dogs
For Patroklos to picture here the devouring of heroes’ corpses by dogs is to show the intensity of his anxious feelings about the future. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 226.]]

I.11.832

subject heading(s): Cheiron the Centaur; dikaios ‘righteous’
The description of Cheiron as dikaiotatos ‘most righteous’ among the Centaurs is relevant to the conflicted temperament of Achilles: from boyhood on, this hero has a savage streak, tempered by the civilizing power of the Centaur as his mentor. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 326.]]

I.11.843

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
In the immediate context, only the surface meaning of therapōn as ‘attendant’ is evident. [[2016.08.04 via BA 292.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 12

2016.09.28

At the very beginning of Iliad 12, we modern readers may find that we have suddenly hit a wall—the Achaean Wall. It seems difficult for us to understand what the Master Narrator of the Iliad is really saying when he foretells the future destruction or deconstruction of this structure. And the main obstacle to our understanding here is not the presence of the Achaean Wall in the Iliad but rather its foretold absence—after all is said and done in the narrative. For the ancients who heard the Iliad narrated to them, by contrast, the future absence of the Achaean Wall was perfectly understandable in terms of the narration itself. And that is because the Master Narrator presupposes that there is no Achaean Wall to be seen in the Trojan landscape at the time of narration. Such a presupposition shapes the narrative of Iliad 12—and in fact it shapes the whole narrative of the Iliad. The setting for this narrative remains the world of heroes, which is larger-than-life because it is situated in the heroic past, but the setting for the actual narration of this narrative is the post-heroic world of a present time as figured by the Master Narrator himself. The staging of the heroic world by the Master Narrator is comparable to what is called the mise-en-scène in the traditions of French theater and film. And the predominant feature of the Iliadic mise-en-scène or scenery is the Achaean Wall, not the Trojan Wall. That is why the building of this structure by the Achaeans in Iliad 7 had been opposed by the gods Poseidon and Apollo, the original builders of the Trojan Wall. But the Achaean Wall needed to be built by the Achaeans to protect them and their ships from the fire of Hector—which would not be threatening them if Achilles had not been insulted by Agamemnon in Iliad 1. If we think of the overall plot of the Iliad as a scenario, then the Achaean Wall can be seen as an integral feature of the scenery for this scenario.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig12
Figure 12. “Siege of the Greek Camp.” Crispijn van de Passe (I) (1613). Public domain image, via Rijks Museum.

I.12.002–033

subject heading(s): Achaean Wall; Trojan Wall; post-heroic age
The Achaeans built the Wall to protect themselves and their beached ships from the Trojans: see the comments on I.07.336–343 and I.07.433–465. But this Achaean Wall is doomed to disappear without a trace in the future, since it was built ‘against the will of the immortal gods’, I.12.008–009 (θεῶν δ’ ἀέκητι τέτυκτο | ἀθανάτων). That is, the Wall was built against the will of the gods Poseidon and Apollo: see the comment on I.07.433–465. And when will it happen, that the Achaean Wall disappears? The timespan of the Wall, says the Master Narrator, depends on the timespan of narrating the story of the Iliad: ‘while Hector was still alive and while Achilles had-his-anger [mēniein]’, I.12.010 (ὄφρα μὲν Ἕκτωρ ζωὸς ἔην καὶ μήνι’ Ἀχιλλεὺς). But then, in the very next verse, the timespan is extended further: the Wall of the Achaeans will not be destroyed while Troy, that mighty city of the king Priam, is not yet destroyed, I.12.011 (καὶ Πριάμοιο ἄνακτος ἀπόρθητος πόλις ἔπλεν). Why the extension? It is because the epic fame of the Achaean Wall depends on the epic fame of the Iliad, and the narration of the Iliad is still in progress. Once the Iliad is narrated, there will be no further need for the Achaean Wall. But there will still remain a further need for the Wall of Troy, which will not yet be destroyed when the narration of the Iliad is completed. Meanwhile, the epic fame of the Achaean Wall, which depends of the narration of the Iliad, still in progress, is threatening the older epic fame of the Trojan Wall, as we can observe already at I.07.448–453: there we see that the Trojan Wall had been built by the gods Poseidon and Apollo for the former king of Troy, Laomedon, who was predecessor of the current king, Priam, and, in the words of Poseidon himself, the Wall built by the Achaeans has an epic glory or kleos, I.07.451, which now threatens to eclipse the corresponding glory of the Trojan Wall built earlier by the two gods, I.07.452–453. The wording at I.07.451 already highlights the epic glory or kleos of the Iliad, which concentrates on the Achaean Wall, as distinct from the kleos conferred by earlier epic traditions that concentrate on the Trojan Wall, I.07.458, as noted in the comment on I.07.433–465. After the story of the Iliad is told—or, more precisely, after Troy is destroyed and the Achaeans are already departing for home, I.12.13–16—then the gods can finally remove this Iliadic threat to the kleos of the Trojan Wall: now Poseidon and Apollo will let loose all the rivers in the region of Troy, which will then flood away all traces of the Achaean Wall, I.12.17–33. This divine action, as foretold here, of removing the mis-en-scène or scenery of the Iliad is already foretold at an earlier point by Zeus himself, at I.07.455–463. Relevant to these prophecies is what we read in Strabo 13.1.36 C598: νεωστὶ γὰρ γεγονέναι φησὶ τὸ τεῖχος (ἢ οὐδ’ ἐγένετο, ὁ δὲ πλάσας ποιητὴς ἠφάνισεν, ὡς Ἀριστοτέλης φησίν) ‘the Poet [= Homer] says that the Wall [= the Achaean Wall] had only recently come into existence, or it never existed at all, and the Poet made it up [plattein] and then made it disappear, as Aristotle [F 162 ed. Rose] says’. To paraphrase Aristotle: Homeric poetry foretells the non-existence of the Achaean Wall in a future time of its own performance, and such a future time will be a post-heroic age (HPC 155n16). On the Homeric conceptualization of a post-heroic age, see the comment on I.12.023 below, featuring the word hēmitheoi ‘demigods, half-gods’. [[GN 2016.09.27 via BA 159–160, 340; see also Nagy 2006§64.]]

I.12.015

subject heading(s): Trojan Wall
This reference here to the future destruction of Troy leaves the question open: was the Wall of Troy totally destroyed or only partially so? See the comment on I.07.433–465. [[GN 2016.10.01 via HPC 179–180, 207.]]

I.12.018

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’
Not only heroes (and their horses) but also forces of nature—such as rivers, as here—can have menos. In the comments so far, menos has been consistently translated as ‘mental power’, not just ‘power’, and this translation can apply even in the present context, I.12.018. Forces of nature can have a mind of their own, as it were, because they are connected to the mental power of divinities who control the cosmos and to whom humans using their own mental power can pray for the activation of such control. Besides rivers, as here, other natural forces that have menos include the sun (I.23.190), fire (I.06.182, I.17.565), and winds (O.19.440). Like heroes, cosmic forces have to be reminded of their menos, and this is precisely what gets done by worshippers who use their own mental power in praying to divinities controlling such cosmic forces, as we see for example in Indic traditions centering on the word mánas-, which I likewise translate as ‘mental power’ and which is actually a cognate of Greek menos. [[GN 2016.10.01 via GMP 114.]]

I.12.023

subject heading(s): hēmitheoi ‘demigods, half-gods’; Achaean Wall; hero cult; post-heroic age
As the rivers of the Trojan landscape flood away all traces of the Achaean Wall, they also obliterate all traces of the epic battles fought by the Achaean heroes in the mise-en-scène or scenery of that landscape. These heroes are called hēmitheoi ‘demigods, half-gods’ here at I.12.023, and we find no other attestation of this word hēmitheoi in either the Iliad or the Odyssey: in both epics, the word for ‘heroes’ is consistently hērōes. Unlike hēroēs, the word hēmitheoi is appropriate to a style of expression that looks beyond epic. The use of this word to mark the Achaean heroes here belongs not to the epic tradition of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey but to alternative poetic traditions having to do with cosmogony and anthropogony, as we see when we consider the attestations of hēmitheoi in Hesiodic poetry, F 204.100 and Works and Days 160; relevant too are the attestations of this word in the poetry of the Homeric Hymns, 31.19 and 32.19 (Nagy 2006§66). In the Hesiodic Works and Days, 160, the word hēmitheoi signals the last generation of heroes, who were obliterated in the time of the Theban and the Trojan Wars, 161–165, but who were preserved after death and immortalized by being transported to the Islands of the Blessed, 167–173. It can be said in general that the theme of heroic immortalization is central to myths and rituals related to hero cult, and so the use of the word hēmitheoi ‘demigods’ in this Hesiodic context is highly significant (BA 342-343): yes, all epic heroes must die, but then, by way of becoming cult heroes, they are mystically immortalized after death (Nagy 2006§§80–108). And the significance of such a theme is further heightened by the idea of divine parentage as built into the meaning of word hēmitheoi as ‘half-gods’, which shows a genetic understanding of the hero. The heroic potential is programmed by divine genes, as it were. There has to be a god involved in any hero’s “family tree.” Still, the literal meaning of the word hēmitheos as ‘half-god’ does not imply an exact half-and-half distribution of immortals and mortals in a hero’s genealogy. Rather, this meaning marks a tenuous balancing of immortality with mortality in the hero’s self. In the case of the hero Achilles, for example, the divinity of his mother is not the only ‘half’ of immortality that he inherits, since his mortal father Peleus is descended, by way of that man’s own mortal father Aiakos, from the immortal father Zeus himself. But the bitter fact remains that Peleus is a mortal. And, since Peleus as one of the two parents of Achilles is mortal, Achilles must be mortal as well, even though his other parent is Thetis, who is not only immortal but even endowed with limitless cosmic powers (BA 346–347). So Achilles, despite the limitless potential he inherits from Thetis, is subject to death. The same can be said about all other Homeric heroes: even though they are all descended in some way or another from the gods, they are all mortals. They all have to die, like ordinary mortals. No matter how many immortals you find in a heroic “family tree,” the intrusion of even a single mortal will make all successive descendants mortal. Mortality, not immortality, is the dominant gene (GN 2006§70). So, the meaning of hēmitheoi as ‘half-gods’ can cut both ways: the ‘half-divinity’ of the hero can point downward to the grim facts of mortality just as it can point upward to the sublime hopes for immortalization after death. The scenario of obliteration followed by immortalization for the hēmitheoi in Hesiodic poetry, Works and Days 161–173, must be contrasted with the scenario of obliteration followed by no mention of immortalization for the hēmitheoi in Homeric poetry, I.12.17–33. The inevitability of death for the hero enhances the pathos of hoping for immortalization after death. Such a pathos is visible in the exceptional Homeric occurrence of hēmitheoi at I.12.023, where we see a correspondingly exceptional shift in the Homeric narrative perspective: instead of viewing heroes through the lens of the heroic age, seeing them as they were back then, alive and hoping to be remembered, the poetry now views them through the lens of a post-heroic age, seeing them as already dead and hopefully immortalized after death (Nagy 2006§67). [[GN 2016.10.01 via BA 159-161, GMP 15–16, 54; many of the formulations in the paragraph here come directly from Nagy 2006; that article also explores the relevance of this word hēmitheoi ‘demigods’ to myths about cosmic floods and fires, stylized in Greek traditions as cataclysm and ecpyrosis respectively.]]

I.12.070

subject heading(s): nōnumnoi ‘nameless’
The wish is expressed, on the Trojan side, that the invading Achaean warriors should die nōnumnoi ‘nameless’ at Troy. The same word nōnumnoi ‘nameless’ is used in the Hesiodic Works and Days, 154, to describe the truly nameless warriors of the Bronze Generation, who live a life devoted exclusively to martial violence and who deserve to earn no epic glory after their violent death, 146-155. At I.12.070, the Achaean warriors are viewed through such a Hesiodic lens, as it were. [[GN 2016.10.01 via BA 157.]]

I.12.076

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute; hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’
In the immediate context, the plural therapontes functions as a virtual synonym of a word used elsewhere, hēni-okhoi ‘chariot drivers’. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.12.090

subject heading(s): breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans
Here is the first explicit reference to the objective of the Trojans to break through the Wall of the Achaeans. For further references, see the list in the comment for I.12.198. [[GN 2016.10.02.]]

I.12.111

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’
The immediate context shows that the hero Asios has a hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’ who is also the therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’ of Asios precisely because he is the chariot driver. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.12.118–123

subject heading(s): left-right co-ordination; viewing the scene of chariot fighting; Achaean Wall; elliptic plural
Reference is made at I.12.118 to the left-hand side of the encampment protecting the ships of the Achaeans. So, in terms of the Master Narrator’s perspective, the positioning refers to the east side: see the comment on I.11.497–500. Described here at I.12.118–123 is the opening in the Achaean Wall through which the charioteers drive their chariots from the Achaean encampment to the scene of chariot fighting and then back again. The use of the word pulē ‘gate’ in the plural at I.12.120 does not necessarily point to the existence of more than one gate, since the function of the plural pulai here may be elliptic: ‘the gate and related things that belong to the gate’. There is a reference to the same pulai at I.07.339–340 and at I.07.438–439. On the concept of an elliptic plural, see the comment on I.04.196. And it is next to this gate that the sacred common tomb of the Achaean dead is located, I.07.336–337. [[GN 2016.10.01 via HPC 163 and with reference also to the scholia for I.07.339b1.]]

I.12.130

subject heading(s): ‘equal to Ares’
Besides Hector (I.11.295, I.13.802), Patroklos (I.11.604), and Achilles (I.20.046) this hero Leonteus is the only other Iliadic figure who is called īsos Arēi ‘equal to Ares’ (BA 33). Relevant to the fact that Leonteus qualifies here at I.12.130 as īsos Arēi ‘equal to Ares’ is the fact that he qualifies at I.12.188 as ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’, also at I.02.745, I.23.841. For the etymology of ozos Arēos, see the anchor comment at I.12.188. [[GN 2016.10.02 via BA 33, 295.]]

I.12.159

subject heading(s): verb in plural for neuter plural subject
In Homeric diction, a neuter plural subject can “take” a verb in the plural instead of the singular. [[GN 2016.10.02 via HTL 121.]]

I.12.188

anchor comment on ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’
As noted in the comment on I.12.130, Leonteus is the only Iliadic figure who is called ‘equal to Ares’ besides Hector, Patroklos, and Achilles (see also BA 33). Relevant is the fact that he qualifies here at I.12.188 as ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’, also at I.02.745, I.23.841. The word ozos in this description, which applies also to other heroes as listed above, can be explained etymologically as *(h)o-sd-os, meaning ‘seated together with’: so a hero who qualifies as ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’ can be pictured as literally ‘seated together with Ares’ (BA 295 = ch.17§5n8). The application of this epithet to a hero indicates that such a hero, as a warrior, is destined to become a ritual substitute for the war-god Ares, in the sense that generic warriors are described as therapontes Arēos ‘attendants of Ares’ in the Iliad. See the comment on I.06.067. [[GN 2016.10.02 via BA 33, 295.]]

I.12.198

anchor comment on Battle for the Ships, fire of Hector, breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans
subject heading(s): Battle for the Ships; fire of Hector, breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans; kūdos ‘sign of glory’
In the Battle for the Ships, the objective of Hector is for the Trojans to set on fire the beached ships of the Achaeans, and, for this objective to be realized, the Trojans must break through the Wall of the Achaeans. There is a reference to such a breakthrough already at I.12.090. For further references, which occur mostly in Iliad 12, to the Trojan objective of breaking through the Wall, see I.12.090, I.12.223, Ι.12.257, I.12.261–262, I.12.308, I.12.418, Ι.12.440–441, I.13.679–680. Many of these references mention also the fire that threatens the beached ships of the Achaeans. From here on, further Iliadic mentions of (1) the Battle for the Ships, (2) the fire of Hector and his Trojans, and (3) the breakthrough of the Trojans in penetrating the Wall of the Achaeans will intensify. Accordingly, for practical reasons, comments on these mentions will from here on refer back only to the anchor comment as formulated here at I.12.198. [[GN 2016.10.02 via BA 335.]]

I.12.228

Q&T via HC 1§14
subject heading(s): theopropos ‘interpreter of signs’; hupokrinesthai ‘respond to (a sign), interpret’
The meaning of the noun theopropos as ‘interpreter of signs’ is defined clearly in this verse: the role of such a person is ‘to interpret signs’, hupo-krinesthai , that is, ‘to respond to signs’ by distinguishing what is real from what is unreal. See the note on O.19.535. Relevant are the post-Homeric uses of the derivative agent noun hupo-kritēs in two senses, ‘dream-interpreter’ and ‘actor’ (HC 1§14). Also relevant is the implication here at I.12.228 of a coextensiveness between oracular poetry and epic. [[GN 2016.10.02 via HC 1§14.]]

I.12.235–236

subject heading(s): boulē ‘wish, plan’; Will of Zeus
Hector here says that he understands the Will of Zeus, and that the god has already signaled his Will by nodding, I.12.236. We have seen such nodding before, at I.01.524–530 and at I.08.175–176. We have also seen, at I.08.175–176, that the Will of Zeus as signaled by his nodding will bring nīkē ‘victory’ to the Trojans and pēma ‘pain’ to the Achaeans. So too the nodding of Zeus here at I.12.236 signals once again the Will of Zeus, expressed in this case by way of the plural of boulē, ‘will’, which is boulai. This noun boulē, as noted already at I.01.005, I.01.524–530, I.10.043–052, I.10.415, I.11.627, also conveys the idea of ‘planning’, not just ‘wishing’. We may compare the plural boulai ‘plans’ of Zeus at O.08.082, as noted in the comments on I.11.347. [[GN 2016.10.02 via BA 64, 334.]]

I.12.252

subject heading(s): terpi-keraunos ‘he whose bolt strikes’
Zeus as terpi-kéraunos ‘he whose bolt strikes’ is asserting here his authority as the god of thunder and lightning. He now sends a violent windstorm from the heights of Mount Ida, thus making a positive signal for the Trojans and a negative one for the Achaeans, I.12.252–254. [[GN 2016.10.02 via GMP 195.]]

I.12.255–257

subject heading(s): kūdos ‘sign of glory’; breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans
Zeus, sending a violent windstorm from the heights of Mount Ida at I.12.252–254, now signals at I.12.255 that this kūdos or ‘sign of glory’ goes to the Trojans, who are already starting to break through the Wall of the Achaeans, I.12.256–257. For more on the breakthrough of the Trojans, see the list of references in the comment for I.12.198. [[GN 2016.10.02 via BA 64, 334.]]

I.12.270

Q&T via MoM 2§9
subject heading(s): homoio- ‘similar to, same as’; relativism/absolutism; Aiante
The two warriors who are jointly named by way of the dual form Aiante here, about whom there will be more to say in a later comment, are urging the Achaeans to keep up the fight. To encourage the Achaeans, the dual Aiante say that it does not matter whether different warriors will make greater or smaller contributions to the effort: after all, warriors are not homoioi ‘the same as’ each other, since some are superior and some are middling and some are inferior in warfare, I.12.269–270. The word homoio- ‘similar to, same as’, used in comparisons, displays the semantics of relativism as well as absolutism in Homeric diction. For more on homoio- ‘similar to, same as’ see the anchor comment at I.05.441. [[GN 2016.10.02 via HTL 165 on Aiante.]]

I.12.310–321

Q&T via GMP 137
subject heading(s): hero cult; cult hero; tīmē ‘honor’ of cult hero; kleos ‘glory’ of epic hero
The objective of the hero Sarpedon, as he declares here at I.12.318 to his fellow warrior Glaukos, is that the two of them must not be akléees ‘without epic glory [kleos]’. The people whom the two of us rule in Lycia, he continues, must recognize such an objective. This way, the tīmē ‘honor’ that the two of us receive in Lycia, I.12.310 (τετιμήμεσθα), which is a sign of our status there as cult heroes, will be matched by the kleos ‘glory’ that the two of us will receive as epic heroes here in the Iliad. [[GN 2016.10.02 via GMP 137; also Nagy 2012:67–69.]]

I.12.319

subject heading(s): diet of sacrificial sheep for the cult hero; hero cult; cult hero
The reference here to Sarpedon’s diet of mutton in the context of his dwelling in his native land of Lycia can be correlated with archaeological evidence showing that cult heroes received from their worshippers primarily the meat of sheep that were sacrificially slaughtered in rituals of hero cult. [[GN 2016.10.02 via GMP 137.]]

I.12.322–328

subject heading(s): immortalization for the cult hero after death
The wording of Sarpedon implies here that he is already assured of immortalization as a cult hero, but now he desires another form of immortalization as well, which is the immortal fame conferred by the medium of epic. Sarpedon now thinks that such fame is worth dying for, right away. [[GN 2016.10.02 via GMP 138.]]

I.12.331–377

subject heading(s): Menestheus; Athenian transmission
Menestheus, the leader of the Athenians who came to fight at Troy, is stationed to guard a purgos ‘tower’ of the Achaean Wall, I.12.332/333/373. It is at this point in the Wall that the attacking forces on the Trojan side are making their breakthrough, and so the station of Menestheus is evidently located next to the political and sacral centerpoint of the Achaeans, where the stations of Agamemnon and Odysseus are also located. On this concept of a political and sacral centerpoint, see the comments on I.11.806–808. The proximity of the Athenian leader Menestheus to such a centerpoint can be seen as a subtle reference to the importance of Athens in the transmission of the Iliad and Odyssey [[GN 2016.10.03 via HPC 161.]]

I.12.335–336

subject heading(s): Aiante, with or without Teukros; elliptic dual; an evolutionary model for the making of Homeric poetry; Aiante
The two warriors who are jointly named by way of the dual form Aiante here, about whom there will be more to say in a later comment, are to be identified as the greater and the lesser Ajax—in contexts where the hero Teukros, who is the bastard brother of the greater Ajax, is also named as a participant in the action. In other contexts where Teukros is not named as a participant, however, the dual Aiante are to be identified as the greater Ajax and his bastard brother Teukros. Such contexts reveal an elliptic use of the dual. The use of the dual form Aiante in the contexts of Iliad 12 can be cited as evidence for building an evolutionary model for the making of Homeric poetry. [[GN 2016.10.03 via HTL 165–166.]]

I.12.387–391

subject heading(s): eukhetâsthai ‘boast’; epea ‘words’ spoken in the act of boasting or in the act of performing epic
Heroes strive to avoid being seen in situations where they are bested: this way, they can also avoid the boasting of warriors who best them; at I.12.391, such a word for ‘boasting’ is eukhetâsthai, while the ‘words’ spoken in the act of boasting are epea—which are coextensive with the ‘words’ spoken in the act of performing epic poetry. [[GN 2016.10.03 via BA 30.]]

I.12.400

subject heading(s): Ajax and Teukros
See the comment at I.12.335–336. [[GN 2016.10.03 via HTL 165.]]

I.12.436–441

subject heading(s): Battle for the Ships; fire of Hector, breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans
Most appropriately, Hector is the very first of the Trojan warriors to break through the Achaean Wall. See also anchor comment at I.12.188. [[GN 2016.10.03 via BA 335.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 13

2016.10.13

The momentum of the Trojan onslaught led by Hector intensifies here, and the prospects of the Achaeans look grim, almost hopeless. Hector is so successful that he feels tempted, toward the end of Rhapsody 13, to equate himself with immortal gods. Meanwhile, the intensity of the narrative keeps pace, and the poetic virtuosity approaches the sublime.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig13
Figure 13. Hector and Polydamas. After a drawing by John Flaxman. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.13.023–031

Q&T via HC 1§148
subject heading(s): chariot teams driven by divinities
Poseidon’s grand entrance here, as he drives his chariot team to the scene of battle, is comparable to other narratives about ceremonial arrivals by divinities. See HC 1§145, with a line drawing of an image painted on an Attic red-figure pyxis lid: unattributed, dated at around 425–375 BCE, Copenhagen, National Museum, 731. The image shows three goddesses—Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite—arriving at the Judgment of Paris in their chariots drawn by customized chariot teams. Hērā is driving two horses; Athena, two serpents; and Aphrodite, two boyish Erōtes. Figure 10a shows the whole image, while Figure 10b shows a detail from that image. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HC 1§148.]]

I.13.046–047

subject heading(s): Aiante
On the two warriors who are jointly named here by way of the dual form Aiante, see especially the comment on I.12.335–336. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HTL 165.]]

I.13.054

subject heading(s): eukhesthai ‘declare; pray, boast’, aspiration for immortality
As noted in the comment on I.01.091, the meaning of the verb eukhesthai as ‘declare’ has to do with speaking for the record in the form of ‘boasting’ or ‘praying’ or ‘juridically declaring’ (Muellner 1976). According to the speaker here, who is the god Poseidon himself in the guise of Kalkhas, Hector aspires to be immortal by way of ‘boasting’, as expressed by the verb eukhesthai, that he is the son of the god Zeus. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 148–149.]]

I.13.066

subject heading(s): Aiante, with or without Teukros; elliptic dual; an evolutionary model for the making of Homeric poetry; Aiante
The reference here to the lesser Ajax shows that the dual Aiante at I.13.046–047 refers in this case to the greater and the lesser Ajax together, not to the greater Ajax and to his bastard brother Teukros. See the comment at I.12.335–336. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HTL 165–166.]]

I.13.084

subject heading(s): ana-psūkhein ‘revive, reanimate’; psūkhē ‘spirit; life’s breath’; release of consciousness from the body; ana-pneîn/ en-pneîn ‘take a breath, breathe in’
As at I.05.795, the heroes are simply ‘reviving’. As for intimations of a mystical revival from death, there will be more to say in a later comment. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 168.]]

I.13.111–113

subject heading(s): aitios ‘responsible’, atīmân ‘dishonor’; Will of Zeus
In the words of the god Poseidon, it is conceded that Agamemnon is aitios ‘responsible’, I.13.111, for having ‘dishonored’ Achilles, I.13.113, as expressed by the verb a-tīmân. [[GN 2016.10.13 via PH 238.]]

I.13.197

subject heading(s): Aiante
In this context, as also at I.13.201, the referents for the dual Aiante are Ajax the greater and Teukros, his bastard brother. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HTL 164–165.]]

I.13.201

subject heading(s): Aiante
See the note on I.13.197. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HTL 164–165.]]

I.13.202–204

subject heading(s): Aiante
Here the reference of Aiante shifts away from referring to the pair of Ajax the greater and Teukros. That is because the spotlight on the action shifts from Teukros to Ajax the lesser, so that the lesser Ajax can now become, retroactively, the implied second member of the dual Aiante. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HTL 164–165.]]

I.13.216–218

subject heading(s): the expression ‘(and) he was honored [tīein] as a god [theos] in the district [dēmos]’ (θεὸς [δ’] ὣς τίετο δήμῳ); hero cult; cult hero
See anchor comment at I.05.077–078. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 149, GMP 132–133.]]

I.13.227

subject heading(s): nōnumnoi ‘nameless’
The fear is expressed that the invading Achaean warriors could die nōnumnoi ‘nameless’ at Troy. On the connotations, which can be seen by way of comparing the Hesiodic Works and Days 146–155, see the comment on I.12.079. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 157.]]

I.13.242–244

subject heading(s): the look of Zeus; arizēlos ‘most visible’; augai ‘lights’ as ‘eyes’
Zeus, in the act of launching his thunderbolt, can be visualized simultaneously in two ways, as here. First, he can be seen as casting his thunderbolt by throwing it with his own divine hand, I.13.243. But, second, he can be seen as casting his divine eye on his target, and his angry looks will thus launch his thunderbolt from within: that is the sense of the expression at I.13.244 here, ‘and his eyes [augai] are most visible [arizēloi]’ (ἀρίζηλοι δέ οἱ αὐγαί). The noun augai, which means literally ‘lights’, refers here to the eyes of Zeus, as also at I.13.837. On the expression the look of Zeus, see the comment on I.19.003–017. [[GN 2016.11.26.]]

I.13.244

subject heading(s): sēma ‘sign, signal’
The lightning made by Zeus is a sēma ‘sign, signal’ that needs to be interpreted. [[GN 2016.10.13 via GMP 204, 211.]]

I.13.246

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
In the immediate context, where Meriones is highlighted as therapōn of Idomeneus, only the surface meaning, ‘attendant’, is evident. [[GN 2016.08.04 via BA 292.]]

I.13.313–314

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans'
Here the title ‘best of the Achaeans’ is narrowed in scope: Teukros is ‘best of the Achaeans’ in archery. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 32.]]

I.13.331

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
Idomeneus together with Meriones as his therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’ take their stand side by side on the battlefield. [[GN 2016.10.13.]]

I.13.347

subject heading(s): nīkē ‘victory’
The role of Zeus in awarding nīkē ‘victory’ is primary, while the corresponding role of Athena is secondary. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HC 4§109.]]

I.13.386

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’
While the hero Asios is fighting pezos ‘on foot’ against the Achaeans, I.13.385, the two horses that draw his chariot are right behind him, practically breathing down his neck—that is, down his shoulders. The driver of the horses is an unnamed hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’, who is described as the therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’ of Asios, I.13.386. After Asios is killed, I.13.386–393, and his corpse is just lying there in front of the horses that once drew his chariot, I.13.392, the focus reverts to the hēni-okhos ‘chariot driver’, I.13.394. Still standing on the chariot platform, the chariot driver freezes, failing to turn the chariot around and drive the horse team back to safety, I.13.394–396. The Achaean hero Antilokhos takes this opportunity to spear the chariot driver, who then falls out of the chariot, and now Antilokhos can mount the empty chariot and drive it away himself, horses and all, I.13.396–401.

I.13.402–423

subject heading(s): formulaic variants
Reserved for a later comment is an analysis of formulaic variants like stenakhonta and stenakhonte at I.13.423 [[GN 2016.10.13 via HTL 114–115.]]

I.13.435

subject heading(s): thelgein ‘put a trance on, enchant’
In this context, the use of a noun for ‘eyes’ as the direct object of the verb thelgein ‘put a trance on, enchant’ shows the visual connotations that are built into this verb. See the comment on I.02.308, with reference to the omen about the serpent and the nine birds: here the etymology of drakōn ‘serpent’ as ‘the one who looks [derkesthai]’ is relevant. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HC 1§121.]]

I.13.444

subject heading(s): death by Ares
At the very moment when the hero dies here, the war-god Ares literally takes away the hero’s life or menos ‘mental power’. To be compared is I.05.296, where the hero’s menos ‘mental power’ is released from his body at the moment of death. But now we see that the agent for taking away the menos of the hero is Ares. Thus the ultimate killer of the generic hero as warrior is Ares himself, no matter who the immediate killer may be—as in this case, where the killing is performed by the hero Idomeneus with the direct help of the god Poseidon. The role of Ares in taking away the life of the generic hero at the moment of heroic death is relevant to the epithet of heroes as generic warriors: therapontes or ‘ritual substitutes’ of Ares. See the comment on I.02.110. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 294.]]

I.13.459–461

subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’
Besides Achilles, another epic hero who experiences mēnis ‘anger’ is Aeneas, and this hero’s anger is directed at the king Priam. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 73, 265–266, GMP 28.]]

I.13.600

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
A nameless therapōn is mentioned here in passing: he happens to be the ‘attendant’ of the hero Agenor. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.13.628–629

subject heading(s): fire of Hector
See the anchor comment at I.12.198 on: Battle for the Ships, fire of Hector, breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.12.13 via BA 335.]]

I.13.631–639

subject heading(s): hubristai ‘men of outrage’; atasthalo- ‘reckless’
This insulting epithet hubristai ‘men of outrage’ at I.13.633 is applied here to the Trojans, whose menos ‘mental power’ is said to be atasthalon ‘reckless’, I.13.634. There will be more to say about these words in a later comment. The connotations of these words are comparable to what is said in Pindar Pythian 11.34 about the habrótās ‘luxuriance’ of the Trojans. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 163, PH 290–291.]]

I.13.659

subject heading(s): poinē ‘compensation’.
An analysis of this word is postponed for a comment elsewhere. [[GN 2016.10.13 via PH 251.]]

I.13.681

subject heading(s): ship of Protesilaos
Postponed for a later comment are further details about the beached ship of Protesilaos. For now, at I.13.681 the details are less precise: the reference to this hero’s ship is followed by a passing reference to the ships of Ajax, likewise beached along the shore, and this extended perspective now leads to a wider view of all these ships, the sterns of which are somehow contiguous with the Wall of the Achaeans, I.13.682–684. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HPC 162.]]

I.13.685

subject heading(s): Ionians in the Homeric Iliad
Here is the only direct reference to Ionians in Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. The juxtaposition of Ionians with Boeotians is significant. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HPC 227 and 227n16.]]

I.13.688

subject heading(s): fire of Hector as a phlox ‘burst of flame’
The comparison of Hector here to a phlox ‘burst of flame’ is relevant to the overall theme of Hector’s fire. See the anchor comment at I.12.198 on: Battle for the Ships, fire of Hector, breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.12.13 via BA 335, 337.]]

I.13.689–691

subject heading(s): Athenians in the Iliad
It is significant that the Ionians, mentioned only at I.13.685, are drawn into proximity with the Athenians. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HPC 227.]]

I.13.700

subject heading(s): Boeotians in the Iliad
It is also significant that the Ionians and Athenians are together drawn into proximity with the Boeotians. [[GN 2016.10.13 via HPC 227n16.]]

I.13.726–735

Q&T via GMP 204
subject heading(s): nóos ‘mind’; gignōskein ‘recognize’.
It is said here that the nóos ‘mind’, I.13.732, enables the hero to ‘recognize’, gignōskein, I.13.734. [[GN 2016.10.13 via GMP 204.]]

I.13.737–739

subject heading(s): epic traditions of the Epigonoi; epic traditions of the Seven against Thebes
The taunting here of Agamemnon by Sthenelos, chariot driver of Diomedes, recalls the epic traditions of the Epigonoi = Sons-of-the-Seven-against Thebes. See also I.02.119–130 and the comments on those verses. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 163.]]

I.13.795–799

subject heading(s): fire of Hector
See the anchor comment at I.12.198 on: Battle for the Ships, fire of Hector, breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.12.13 via BA 335, 337.]]

I.13.802

subject heading(s): ‘equal to Ares’
Hector here is said to be īsos or ‘equal’ to Ares. This kind of equating of a hero with the war god will figure prominently in future scenes of mortal combat. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 294.]]

I.13.825–829

subject heading(s): wishes correlated with premises; aspiration for immortality; antagonism between immortal and mortal
Here is a working translation: ‘|825 If only I could be the child of aegis-bearing Zeus |826 for all days to come, and the Lady Hērā could be my mother, |827 and if only I could be honored [tiesthai] just as Athena and Apollo are honored, |828 —as surely as this day brings misfortune to the Argives, |829 all of them’ (|825 εἰ γὰρ ἐγὼν οὕτω γε Διὸς πάϊς αἰγιόχοιο |826 εἴην ἤματα πάντα, τέκοι δέ με πότνια Ἥρη, |827 τιοίμην δ' ὡς τίετ' Ἀθηναίη καὶ Ἀπόλλων, |828 ὡς νῦν ἡμέρη ἧδε κακὸν φέρει Ἀργείοισι |829 πᾶσι μάλ'). Hector expresses his aspiration to be immortal—not only to be the son of the divinities Zeus and Hērā but also to be divine just as Athena and Apollo are divine. On the syntax of the wording here, see the comment on I.18.464–466. Hector’s aspiration typifies a pattern of antagonism between immortal and mortal, divinity and hero: see the comments at I.08.538–541 and, further back, at I.06.286–311. [[GN 2016.10.13 via BA 148; also GMP 294–301.]]

I.13.831–832

subject heading(s): exposition of the dead body to dogs and birds
Hector’s threat, to feed to dogs and birds the corpses of the Achaeans that he expects to kill, shows that he is ready to descend to the depths of brutality, matching the horror of such a prospect as expressed at the very beginning of the epic, Ι.001.003–005. [[GN 2016 via BA 226.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 14

2016.10.19

The momentum of the attacking Trojan warriors gets stalled here, since Hērā interrupts the ongoing Plan of Zeus. The goddess seduces the god, and the setting for their divine sexual encounter is the spectacular landscape of Mount Ida, which is the private abode of the thundering almighty. During the tryst of the god and the goddess, the Achaeans regain the upper hand in the fighting. But this new momentum is soon headed for a downturn. The divine interruption, despite all its cosmic sexual energy, becomes retrospectively a mere interlude in the narrative arc of the Iliad—once the tryst is over and the Plan of Zeus resumes its relentless course of action.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig14
Figure 14. Juno and Jupiter. Detail from “Loves of the Gods,” fresco by Annibale Carracci (1560–1609). Annibale Carracci [Public domain], Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.14.027–036

subject heading(s): bay of the Hellespont; headquarters of the Achaeans; naustathmon ‘ship-station’; micro-Iliad; First Song of Demodokos; sterns of the Achaeans ships; Scamander; klisiā ‘shelter’; Hellespont; eris ‘strife’; post-heroic age
Nestor here reconnects with Agamemnon and other leaders of the Achaeans at their headquarters, I.14.027–028. The headquarters are pictured as a massing of ships beached on the shores of the south end of the bay of the Hellespont, and this location has been reconstructed in the comments on I.08.220–227, I.11.005–016, and I.11.806–808. But there is now an added detail to be noted here at I.14.030–032: the ships had been beached with their sterns facing inland and their prows facing out toward the waters, so that the Wall of the Achaeans, built ten years after the original beaching of the ships, was made to be contiguous with the sterns of the ships lined up along the southern shores of the bay of the Hellespont. See also the comment at I.15.385. As for the other ships of the Achaeans, they had been beached along the shores of the rest of the U-shaped bay, as we read at I.14.033–036. See the comment on those verses. These other ships, then, are peripheral to the ships beached at the central shoreline of the bay, which are pictured as the headquarters of the Achaeans. And these headquarers, as noted in the comment on I.11.806–808, are called the naustathmon ‘ship-station’ by Strabo 13.1.31–32 C595 (quoted at HPC 153) and 13.1.36 C598 (quoted at HPC 154). Also, as noted in the comments on I.11.806–808, Homeric poetry pictures such a ‘station’ as a political and sacral centerpoint for the leaders of the Achaeans. See also the comments on I.08.220–227. It is this central station that becomes the political stage of Agamemnon when he stands on the beached ship of Odysseus and projects his voice of authority to all the Achaeans stationed at their ships, I.08.220–227. And it is this central station, we will see later in more detail, that becomes the prime target of the Trojan hero Hector when he succeeds in penetrating the Achaean Wall. Also in a later comment, there will be more to say about the sharing of this central space by two figures in particular, Agamemnon and Odysseus. The joint participation of these two Homeric heroes in the innermost political zone that is marked by this spatial centerpoint is homologous with their engagement in two epic quarrels involving Achilles as a political outsider: the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon in the Iliad, it can be argued, is linked with the quarrel between Achilles and Odysseus in the “micro-Iliad” at O.08.072–083, which is the First Song of Demodokos (BA 42–58). [[GN 2016.10.19 via HPC 160–162.]]

I.14.070

subject heading(s): nōnumnoi ‘nameless’
Again, as at I.13.227, the fear is expressed that the invading Achaean warriors could die nōnumnoi ‘nameless’ at Troy. On the connotations, which can be seen by way of comparing Hesiodic poetry, see the comment on I.12.079. [[GN 2016.10.19 via BA 157.]]

I.14.187

subject heading(s): kosmos ‘order, arrangement’
As Hērā readies herself for her sexual encounter with Zeus, her cosmetic self-adornment is pictured here as a cosmic ‘arrangement’, kosmos, of beauty. [[GN 2016.10.19 via PH 145.]]

I.14.200–210

subject heading(s): hieros gamos ‘sacred sexual intercourse’
Hera’s wording here rationalizes her initiating a sexual encounter with Zeus. The idea of such an encounter is conventionally known as hieros gamos—in the sense of ‘sacred sexual intercourse’ (as in Theocritus 17.131). From the dramatic standpoint of the immediate narrative context, Hērā is making up what she is saying; in the comments that follow, however, it is argued that the wording of the goddess here derives from genuine theogonic traditions centering on the idea of sacred intercourse as an act of cosmogonic creation. [[GN 2016.10.19 via HC 2§145n147.]]

I.14.201

subject heading(s): Ōkeanos
Highlighted in the comments so far on the cosmic river Ōkeanos is the role of this world-encircling fresh-water stream as a boundary delimiting light from darkness, wakefulness from sleep, life from death. Such delimitations, as we have seen, are elaborated poetically in contexts that picture the rising of the sun out of the waters of the Ōkeanos at sunrise—after its setting into these same waters at sunset. See the comments on I.07.421–423 and I.08.485–486. And now, in the context of a scene that evokes the themes of hieros gamos ‘sacred sexual intercourse’, we find that the role of Ōkeanos evokes also the themes of theogony and cosmogony. These themes are conveyed by wording that points to the role of Ōkeanos as a personified god who combines with a personified goddess Tēthus in prototypically initiating a genesis ‘generating’ of gods, as we see here at I.14.201, and even a genesis ‘generating’ of all things, as we will see at I.14.245–246–246a. [[GN 2016.10.19 via BA 196, HC 2§§132, 140, 144, 146, with reference also to Plato Cratylus 402a-d and Theaetetus 152e.]]

I.14.238–240

subject heading(s): aphthito- ‘imperishable, unwilting’
The goddess Hērā promises to commission the making of a beautiful thronos ‘throne’, I.14.238. The maker will be the divine artisan Hephaistos, son of Hērā, I.14.239–240. This throne made by the god will be aphthito- ‘imperishable’, and this imperishability will last aiei ‘forever’, I.14.238. Also, this throne will be khrūseo- ‘golden’, I.14.239. (On the combination of aphthito- ‘imperishable’ and khrūseo- ‘golden’ in symbolizing the artificial continuum of immortality, see BA 179.) The Greek combination of the adjective áphthito- ‘imperishable’ with the adverb aieí ‘always’ here is comparable to the Indic combination of the adjective ákṣita- ‘imperishable’ with the adjective viśvā́yur ‘lasting for all ages’ at Rig-Veda 1.9.7: the form viśvā́yur is the neuter of viśvā́yus-, agreeing with śrávas ‘glory, fame’. (Full argumentation in GMP 123–126 for interpreting viśvā́yur as a neuter and not masculine adjective in this context: it goes with śrávas ‘glory, fame’ and not, as some have argued, with the name of the god Indra.) The element ā́yus- in this Indic form is cognate with Greek aiṓn ‘life-force, lifetime’, the original locative singular of which became the adverb aieí, meaning ‘forever’. See the note on I.01.052. The formulaic combination áphthiton aieí is attested elsewhere as well in Homeric diction, at I.02.046 and at I.02.186. And there is even an instance of the combination kléos áphthiton aieí ‘a glory that is imperishable forever’ in an archaic piece of poetry inscribed in the seventh century BCE: κλεFος απθιτον αιFει, DGE no. 316. This combination brings us back to the wording κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται = kléos áphthiton éstai ‘there will be an imperishable glory’ at I.09.413. To be noted again is the parallelism between the Greek combination of the adjective áphthiton ‘imperishable’ with the noun kléos ‘glory, fame’ at I.09.413 and the Indic combination of the adjective ákṣita- ‘imperishable’ with the noun śrávas ‘glory, fame’ at Rig-Veda 1.9.7 (full argumentation in GMP 123–126). [[GN 2016.10.19.]]

I.14.245–246–246a

Q&T via 2§149, where these verses are quoted by Plutarch On the face in the moon 938d
subject heading(s): Ōkeanos; “plus verse”
Our source for this set of verses, I.14.245–246–246a, is Plutarch On the face in the moon 938d, whose narrative provides a context for including verse 246a in such a set. Without the testimony of Plutarch, we would not know about this verse, since it does not survive in the medieval manuscript tradition. But it had survived, as we know from Plutarch, in the text of the Homeric Iliad as edited by Crates of Mallos, Director of the Library of Pergamon (see under Crates in the Inventory of terms and names). In that text, verse 246 of Iliad 14 was followed by another verse, labeled as 246a in modern editions:
I.14.246 Ὠκεανός, ὅσπερ γένεσις πάντεσσι τέτυκται
I.14.246a ἀνδράσιν ἠδὲ θεοῖς, πλείστην <τ᾿> ἐπὶ γαῖαν ἵησιν
Taken together, these verses can be translated this way:
I.14.246 … Ōkeanos, who has been fashioned as genesis for all
I.14.246a men and gods, and he flows over the Earth in all her fullness.
What is said about Ōkeanos in the “plus-verse” I.14.246a as attested here by Crates is closely related to what we find in poetic traditions attributed to Orpheus. The existence of such Orphic traditions is clearly attested in relevant quotations and paraphrases made by Plato, especially in Cratylus 402a-c regarding the role of Ōkeanos as a primordial source of creation. Details in HPC 2§§128–147. As for Crates (F 20 ed. Broggiato 2001), he cited the “plus verse” I.14.246a as evidence in arguing for his theory that the Ōkeanos was a salt-water Ocean covering a spherical Earth. For Crates, then, these verses at I.14.245–246–246a about the Ōkeanos were an essential part of an allegory about the cosmos. According to this theory of Crates, the earth was a sphere, located at the center of a universe that was likewise spherical. Crates evidently interpreted in a modernizing sense the expression at I.14.246a: ‘[which flows] over most of the earth’ (πλείστην … ἐπὶ γαῖαν). In other words, the salt-water ocean covers most of the spherical Earth. This theory was opposed by Aristarchus, Director of the Library of Alexandria (see under Aristarchus in the Inventory of terms and names), who viewed the Homeric Ōkeanos as a fresh-water river surrounding an Earth that is circular and flat (HC 2§150). See further my comment at HC 2§153 about this dispute between Crates and Aristarchus. What was at stake, as I say in my comment there, was no trivial matter. In this case, in fact, the stakes were of cosmic proportions. Both sides of the dispute were attempting to establish their theories of the cosmos by way of deciding the rightness or wrongness of different variants in the text of Homer. I find it ironic, I went on to say, that I am describing this ancient state of affairs in an era when it appears fashionable to dismiss Homeric textual variations as “trivial,” “banal,” and even “boring.” There will be more to say in my comment on I.18.478–609, in the context of the Shield of Achilles in Iliad 18, about the conceptualization of Ōkeanos as some primordial work of art as suggested by the verb tetuktai (τέτυκται) ‘has been fashioned’ here at I.14:244. For more on the narrative that is taking shape at I.14.245–246–246a, see the comment on I.14.301–302. [[GN 2016.10.19 via HC 2§§149–157.]]

I.14.270–280

subject heading(s): swearing by the Styx
Gods can take an irrevocable oath in the form of swearing by the waters of the underworld river Styx, which is what the goddess Hērā is asked to perform here at I.14.271–276 and which she actually does perform at I.14.277–280. See further in the comment on I.15.037–038. [[GN 2016.10.27.]]

I.14.282–293

subject heading(s): a view from Lesbos
The visualization of the landscape here, as the narrative views the goddess Hērā traveling toward Mount Ida, corresponds to what you would see if you looked due north while standing on the north shore of the island of Lesbos. Across the sea, beyond the strait separating this island from the mainland to the north, is the shoreline of the region leading uphill to the heights of Mount Ida. Just as you are looking north from the shores of Lesbos when you see that skyline, so also Hērā is traveling north as she hastens to arrive at her point of assignation with the mighty thunderer on the peaks of Mount Ida. This view from Lesbos, then, shows an Aeolian poetic vantage point in visualizing the narrative space of Troy in its entirety. [[GN 2016.10.19 via HPC 182.]]

I.14.301–302

Q&T via 2§132 / 2§140, where I.14.302 (= I.14.201) is quoted by Plato Cratylus 402a-d / Theaetetus 152e
subject heading(s): Ōkeanos
The goddess Hērā refers here at I.14.302 to the cosmic river Ōkeanos as the ‘genesis of the gods’ (θεῶν γένεσιν). This reference is a continuation of the earlier reference at I.14.246 to Ōkeanos as a god ‘who has been fashioned as genesis for all’ (ὅς περ γένεσις πάντεσσι τέτυκται). Supplementing my comment on I.14.245–246–246a. I now offer further comment on those verses in the context of the narrative as it continues here at I.14.301–302. What follows is an epitome of what I have to say in HC 2§§156–157. I start with I.14.246, where the immediate point is this: Ōkeanos is a primal ancestor of the gods Zeus and Hērā. At I.14.246a, this theme is developed further: Ōkeanos is a primal force that ultimately generated humans as well as gods, and this force pervades the earth. Such a theme is actually implicit already at I.14.246, even without the explicit amplification of I.14.246a: the adjective pantessi (πάντεσσι) ‘all’ at I.14.246 implies that Ōkeanos is the father of not only ‘all’ gods but also, by extension, ‘all’ men. There is a parallel idea in Homeric references to Zeus himself as the ‘father’ of gods and men, patēr andrōn te theōn te, as at I.01.544, and so on. Further, the noun genesis (γένεσις) in the same verse, I.14.246, which I translated above by using the English borrowing ‘genesis’, implies a depersonalized cosmic power that generates not only all gods and all men but also all things. The idea that Ōkeanos is the ‘genesis’ of all is ultimately not so much the expression of an interpersonal relationship, such as parenthood in the immediate narrative context, but of a depersonalized cosmic creation, a cosmogony. Thus the adjective pantessi (πάντεσσι) ‘all’ is in fact all-inclusive, even without I.14.246a. I should add that there is nothing non-Homeric about picturing the Ōkeanos simultaneously as an anthropomorphic father of gods and as a cosmic source for everything on earth. The cosmogonic themes of I.14.246-246a, less explicit as read by Aristarchus without 246a and more explicit as read by Crates with 246a, are in any case deeply rooted in the Homeric tradition. The more explicit Homeric readings of Crates reflect, more clearly than the corresponding readings of Aristarchus, an earlier phase in the evolution of the Homeric tradition. I propose that Crates derived “plus verses” like I.14.246a from a “Homerus Auctus,” on which I have this to say at HC 2§178: “a verse like [I.14.246a], stemming from a Homerus Auctus as edited by Crates in Pergamon, need not be dismissed as an interpolation from Homeric editions that had been contaminated, as it were, by Orphic traditions. The Homerus Auctus need not be viewed as an editorial conflation of incompatible texts but as a preedited corpus of undifferentiated oral traditions that later became differentiated into distinct textual traditions that we recognize as Orphic, Hesiodic, Cyclic, and even Homeric.” On the term “Orphic” as I use it here, see the comment on I.14.245–246–246a above. [[GN 2016.10.19 via HC 2§§156–157; also BA 196 and GMP 237.]]

I.14.436

subject heading(s): ana-pneîn/en-pneîn ‘take a breath, breathe in’; psūkhē ‘spirit; life’s breath’; release of consciousness from the body; ana-pneîn/ en-pneîn ‘take a breath, breathe in’
After Hector faints, he ‘comes to’, as it were, and now his life’s breath returns to him. The verb that expresses this idea of revival is ana-pneîn (ἀμπνύνθη)—variant en-pneîn (ἐμπνύνθη)—in the sense of ‘taking a breath’—‘breathing in’. See the comment on I.05.795. [[GN 2016.10.19 via BA 168.]]

I.14.483

subject heading(s): poinē ‘compensation’
An analysis of this word is postponed for a comment elsewhere. [[GN 2016.10.19 via PH 251.]]

I.14.508

subject heading(s): re-invocation of Muse(s); ennepein ‘narrate, tell’; Mousa ‘Muse’; singing as narrating
lemmatizing: ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ' ἔχουσαι
This re-invocation of the Muses signals a false start, since the interlude of the sexual encounter between Zeus and Hērā has resulted in a reversal of fortunes that is not to last for long. Right now, while Zeus is asleep after having made love to Hērā, the temporary intervention of Poseidon on the side of the Achaeans results in a compressed sequence of clipped narratives featuring only a few personal victories for only a few Achaean heroes. At I.14.509–510, the Master Narrator is asking the Muses: which one of the Achaeans has the first of these personal victories? The answer comes right away at I.14.511: Ajax son of Telamon is the first. What follows at I.14.511–512 is a most abbreviated narrative about this personal victory of Ajax, and what follows after that is a string of comparably abbreviated narratives about further personal victories achieved by five other Achaeans, I.14.513–522. Then, once these abbreviated narratives are completed, Iliad 14 comes to a hasty end. As soon as Iliad 15 begins, Zeus will be waking up, I.15.004–005. But before the god awakens, we see within the abbreviated space of I.14.513-522 a series of five more Achaeans achieving their own personal victories. Their victories, together with the initial victory of Ajax, are narrated at a pace that is noticeably hurried. There is no time to lose, and that is because, as already noted, Zeus will soon be waking up, I.15.004–005. Once the god does awaken, the momemtum will belong once again to the Trojans. So, the Achaeans benefit here only from a temporary upswing, which will soon be followed by another downswing.
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 15

2016.10.27

The climax of the fighting in the Iliad is now approaching. Patroklos is about to enter the war, and the Will of Zeus is about to be fulfilled.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig15
Figure 15. Ajax defending the ships of the Greeks. After a drawing by John Flaxman. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.15.037–038

subject heading(s): swearing by the Styx
When gods swear by the waters of the underworld river Styx, as the goddess Hērā does here, I.15.037, their oath must be irrevocable and therefore absolute. The basis for the absoluteness of the oath is the absolute imperishability of the material substance that has been chosen as the basis for the oath. That substance is the water of this river. And the imperishability is signaled by the adjective aphthito- ‘imperishable’, which is actually used as the epithet of the Stygian waters at Hesiod Theogony 805. Further, aphthito- ‘imperishable’ at Hesiod Theogony 397 is the epithet of Styx as a personified female divinity. On the epithet aphthito- ‘imperishable, unwilting’, see the comments on I.02.325, where further attestations are also cited. [[GN 2016.10.27 via BA 187.]]

I.15.059–060

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’; en-pneîn ‘breathe into’
The god Apollo is about to be engaged here in the act of en-pneîn ‘breathing into’ the hero Hector something called menos ‘mental power’, I.15.060. See the comment on I.15.262. [[GN 2016.09.27 via GMP 114.]]

I.15.056–077

subject heading(s): boulē ‘wish, plan’; Will of Zeus; Plan of Zeus; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc
Zeus here reaffirms what he wishes or wills, that is, he reaffirms his plan. And this Plan of Zeus, which is the wish or Will of Zeus, will be coextensive with the plot or narrative arc of the Iliad, starting with the original promise of Zeus to Thetis at the beginning of the epic, at I.01.524–530. What the god had then promised, that he will honor Achilles by letting the Achaeans lose until the fire of Hector reaches their beached ships, had been signaled when Zeus originally nodded his head at I.01.524–530. Now at I.15.075 Zeus refers again to this nodding of his head as he briefly retells the plot or narrative arc extending from the time of inception, which was the time when he had originally nodded. That narrative arc now extends not only to the present time of his retelling but also into a future time that has not yet been narrated in the Iliad: within this time-frame of future events, Poseidon will stop interfering on behalf of the Achaeans, I.15.056–058, and then Hector will be re-energized by Apollo and will thus stop the present momentum of the Achaeans, chasing them back to their beached ships, I.15.059–064, and then Achilles will send out Patroklos to stop the Trojans, I.15.064–065, and then Patroklos will be killed by Hector, I.15.065—but not before Patroklos himself kills many heroes fighting on the Trojan side, I.15.066–067, and among those killed heroes will be Sarpedon, who is the son of Zeus himself, I.15.067—and then, to top it all off, Achilles will experience anger [kholos] over the killing of Patroklos by Hector and will kill Hector, I.15.068. In the course of this almost breathlessly rapid retelling of the plot by Zeus, the foretelling of events yet to happen touches on the upcoming drama of the god’s personal loss of Sarpedon, who is his own human son. But the drama of this divine loss is still being elided for the moment, since Zeus at present is saying only that Sarpedon will be killed by Patroklos. The god is not yet saying that Sarpedon is his own beloved son. But that is not all. All has not yet been retold, even at this point, at I.15.068, which signals the killing of Hector by Achilles. The god’s retelling of the plot in the form of a foretelling is not yet completed at this point. The retelling by Zeus continues even further, starting with I.15.069: after Achilles kills Hector, Zeus will plan to bring about a reversal for the Trojans, who will now be driven back from the beached ships that they had threatened to destroy under Hector’s leadership, and the story of this paliōxis ‘driving back’, I.15.069, is described in the god’s wording as if it were some kind of an artifact that Zeus himself has fashioned in the mode of an artisan: the key word is teukhein ‘make-as-an-artisan’ (τεύχοιμι), I.15.070, which takes the noun paliōxis ‘driving back’ as its direct object, I.15.069. After this story of the paliōxis ‘driving back’, fashioned by Zeus in the mode of some divine artisan who creates the story by narrating the story, there will be a relentlessly consequential narrative that will lead all the way to the very end, which is, the destruction of Troy, I.15.070–071. This ending, however, extends beyond the time-frame that will be narrated in the Iliad. And such an ending, perhaps surprisingly, is said by Zeus to result from the boulai ‘plans’ of the god’s divine daughter, the goddess Athena, I.15.071 (Ἀθηναίης διὰ βουλάς). Why does Zeus speak here about the plans of Athena, as if they were not his own plans? It is because the plans of the goddess are by implication coextensive with the plans of her divine father as well. But Zeus is not yet finished with the announcement of his plan. Having indicated the outer limit of the epic plotline, which is the destruction of Troy at I.15.071, Zeus now returns to the present, indicating how it will extend into the immediate future of the Iliad. I will not cease my anger [kholos] against the Achaeans, the god declares at I.15.072, and I will not let any other god intervene on their behalf, I.15.073, until the wish of Achilles is fulfilled, I.15.074. That wish, as we already know, is that the Achaeans will keep losing until the fire of Hector reaches their beached ships. But Zeus here does not repeat the wording of that wish, even though he has promised to make the wish happen. Instead, he simply declares that he had made for Achilles a promise by way of nodding his divine head, I.15.075, and that this promise had been formulated for him by Thetis, the mother of Achilles, I.15.076–077. What Zeus had promised, the god says, was that Achilles should be ‘given honor’, as expressed by the verb tīmân, I.15.077 (τιμῆσαι). [[GN 2016.10.27 via HTL 83.]]

I.15.064–071

subject heading(s): compressed narration; epic Cycle
The rapid retelling by way of foretelling here, starting from the time when Achilles will send forth Patroklos to stop the attack of the Trojans and continuing all the way to the time when Troy will be destroyed by the Achaeans, is a compressed narration that extends beyond the narrative arc of the Iliad as we know it. The outlines of such a compressed epic narrative, formulated here as the Plan of Zeus, resemble what we see in the surviving plot-summaries of the epic Cycle. (On the epic Cycle, see the Inventory of Terms and Names.) The narrative as narrated here by the god Zeus himself shows “the bare outlines of distinct phases in the development of the Iliad as a composition subject to ongoing recomposition-in-performance” (HTL 83). [[GN 2016.10.27.]]

I.15.069–071

subject heading(s): boulē in the sense of ‘intelligence’
The use of the word boulai ‘plans’ at I.15.071 (Ἀθηναίης διὰ βουλάς) conveys not only the idea of divine planning as a prime motivation for the overall epic plotline but also the idea of intelligence as a prime characteristic of the goddess Athena (see BA 24). On connotations of intelligence by way of the word boulē in the sense of ‘planning’, see the comments on I.10.043–052, to be supplemented by the comments on I.11.200 and on I.11.627. [[GN 2016.10.27 via BA 24.]]

I.15.189

subject heading(s): tripartition
The three-way division of the cosmos among the sons of Kronos is an example of various models of tripartition as studied in later comments. [[GN 2016.10.27 via GMP 285.]]

I.15.233

subject heading(s): Hellespont
The ships of the Achaeans are beached along the shores of the bay of the Hellespont. See especially the comment on I.08.220–227. [[GN 2016.10.27 via BA 343.]]

I.15.262

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’; en-pneîn ‘breathe into’
As foretold at I.15.059–060, the god Apollo is engaged here in the act of en-pneîn ‘breathing into’ the hero Hector something called menos ‘mental power’, I.15.262. To be compared is the intervention of the goddess Athena, earlier at I.10.482. Now too, at I.15.262, such ‘mental power’ makes the hero aware of his physical power and thus energizes him to perform heroic deeds. [[GN 2016.09.27 via GMP 114.]]

I.15.309–310

subject heading(s): khalkeus ‘bronze-smith, smith’
As the divine artisan or craftsman, the god Hephaistos is conventionally called a khalkeus ‘bronze-smith’, as here. It will become clear from later contexts, like I.18.474–475, that this appelation of the god does not restrict him to work in bronze: he works in other metals as well. See the comment on I.18.468–613. [[GN 2016.10.27 via HPC 291, 298; MoM 4§4.]]

I.15.383

subject heading(s): īs ‘force, violence, strength’
This noun īs ‘force, violence, strength’ is a synonym of the noun biē. Here, as elsewhere, it refers to the elemental force or violence of a storm. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 89, 321.]]

I.15.385

As we see here, the sterns of the beached ships are contiguous with the Achaean Wall. See also the comment at I.14.027–036. [[GN 2016.10.27 via HPC 160.]]

I.15.401

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
A nameless therapōn is mentioned here in passing: he happens to be the ‘attendant’ of the hero Eurypylos. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.15.405–407

subject heading(s): language of praise/blame
Even though the attacking Trojans here are fewer in number than the defending Achaeans, they are evenly matched in strength. This detail is relevant to the taunt of Sthenelos when he insults Agamemnon at I.04.407. See the comment on I.04.368–410. [[GN 2016.10.27 via BA 163.]]

I.15.414–421

subject heading(s): suspense
Hector and Ajax are struggling one-on-one with each other here: Hector is trying to set on fire the ship that Ajax is protecting from the fire. No clear outcome of the struggle is as yet visible. [[GN 2016.10.27 via BA 335.]]

I.15.428

subject heading(s): agōn ‘coming-together’
The ships of the Achaeans, as a sum total of all the ships, are pictured here as an agōn in the sense of ‘coming together’. See the comment on I.23.257–258. [[GN 2016.10.27 via PH 136.]]

I.15.431

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; “taking the hit”
Hector is throwing his spear at the hero Ajax but misses, and the flying spear hits instead the hero Lykophron, described here as the therapōn of Ajax, I.15.431. So, Lykophron as therapōn is not only the ‘attendant’ of Ajax but also his ‘ritual substitute’. When Lykophron “takes the hit” for Ajax, he is standing right next to him, as if the two of them were standing side by side on the platform of a chariot. It is the physical reality of thus standing side by side that makes the chariot driver the prime alternative target for “taking the hit” in place of the chariot fighter. The chariot driver is thus the perfect substitute for the chariot fighter. In this case, however, Ajax and Lykophron are standing side by side not on the platform of a chariot but on the deck of the beached ship that the two of them are defending from the fire of Hector. The venue for ritual substitution is different, but the ritual pose, as it were, of standing side by side remains the same. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.04.227 via Nagy 2015.05.01, 2015.05.08, 2015.05.15, 2015.05.20.]]

I.15.494–499

subject heading(s): la belle mort
What follows is an epitome from HC 4§268. These verses containing the words of Hector, I.15.494–499, are quoted in a speech delivered by the Athenian statesman Lycurgus, Against Leokrates 103. The context is this: Lycurgus is arguing that the beautiful death foreseen by Hector, his belle mort, can be pictured as a model for Athenians when they contemplate the possibility that they too will die when they fight their wars. Lycurgus refers to the willingness of Athenian citizens to die in war not only for their own patris ‘fatherland’ but also for all of Hellas as a patris ‘fatherland’ that is koinē ‘common’ to all Hellenes (Against Leokrates 104). Lycurgus invokes as his prime example the belle mort of the Athenian citizen-warriors who fought at Marathon and who thereby won for Hellas a freedom from terror, an adeia ‘security’ that is koinē ‘common’ to all Hellenes (104). The Athenian statesman is making this reference to the interests of Athens in the context of actually quoting the words of Hector in the Iliad, who says that he is willing to die for his fatherland in order to protect it against the Achaeans (Lycurgus Against Leokrates 103 lines 4–9). These heroic words of Hector correspond to I.15.494–499 here, and Lycurgus quotes them in the larger context of saying that the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, as performed at the quadrennial Athenian festival of the Panathenaia, are the ancestral heritage of the Athenians and the primary source of their education as citizen-warriors (Against Leokrates 102). In this invocation of Homeric poetry as the most sublime expression of the Athenian empire, the statesman is quoting the words of a Trojan, not the words of an Achaean. It is the belle mort of Hector that motivates the Athenians to live up to the heroic legacy they learn from Homer.

I.15.564

In urging his fellow-warriors to fight on, Ajax says that there is no ownership of kleos ‘glory’ for those who flee in battle. The implications here are most threatening for the epic reputation of Ajax, since the momentum of the fighting will soon be forcing him into making a strategic partial withdrawal, I.16.122: see the comment on I.16.122–124. [[GN 2016.10.27 via BA 32.]]

I.15.585

subject heading(s): thoós ‘swift’
This adjective is conventionally associated with the war-god Ares, pictured as the swiftest of runners. [[GN 2016.10.27 via 328]]

I.15.592–602

subject heading(s): selas ‘flash of light’; kūdos ‘sign of glory’; Battle for the Ships, fire of Hector, breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans
Zeus has been waiting for the selas ‘flash of light’. It will appear when the first of the beached Achaean ships is set on fire, I.15.600. Once the god sees that fire with his own eyes, his promise to Thetis will be fulfilled. He will have given to Achilles the honor that he had promised when he had nodded his head to indicate his plan, which was the Will of Zeus up until now. But now the paliōxis or ‘driving back’ of the Trojans by the counterattacking Achaeans, I.15.601, can get underway, I.15.602. On the technical function of paliōxis or ‘driving back’ as a poetic term referring to a specific part of the Iliadic narration, see I.15.069 and the comment on I.15.056–077. And now the kūdos ‘sign of glory’ will shift away from the Trojans and return to the Achaeans, I.15.602. Earlier, at I.12.255, the kūdos ‘sign of glory’ had gone over to the Trojans. See the comment on I.12.255–257. [[GN 2016.10.27 via BA 64, 335–336.]]

I.15.640

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’; kleos ‘glory’; bíē Hēraklēeíē ‘force of Hēraklēs’
See the comment on I.02.658 [[GN 2016.06.30 via BA 318.]]

I.15.696–746

subject heading(s): Battle for the Ships, fire of Hector, breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans; kūdos ‘sign of glory’
Here at last begins the final push made by the Trojans in the Battle for the Ships—before Patroklos enters the fighting. Hector and his Trojans have broken through the Wall of the Achaeans, and now his fire threatens to set on fire the beached ships of the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.10.27 via BA 335.]]

I.15.704-746

subject heading(s): ship of Protesilaos; Battle for the Ships, fire of Hector, breaking through the Wall of the Achaeans; kūdos ‘sign of glory’
The ship of Protesilaos, which had been the first of all the Achaean ships to be beached on the shores of the bay of the Hellespont, now becomes the prime target for the fire of Hector. What follows is an epitome of further analysis from Nagy 2011c:193. In the course of leading the attack, Hector grabs hold of the prumnē ‘stern’ of one of the beached ships—the ship that had belonged to the hero Protesilaos, I.15.705–706, who was first of the Achaeans to be killed at Troy. On Protesilaos, see the earlier comment on I.02.695–709 and I.13.681, also the later comment below on I.15.704–706. Holding on to the prumnē ‘stern’ of this ship, I.15.716, Hector now shouts to his fellow Trojans and calls on them to bring him fire so that he may set this specially prized ship ablaze, I.15.718. In this context, Hector describes himself as fighting next to the prumnai ‘sterns’of the ships, I.15.722, which had been pulled ashore with their backs facing away from the sea and facing toward the attacking Trojans, I.15.718–725. The view of the narrative now shifts to Ajax, who is shown to be unable to hold off the attacking Trojans any longer, I.15.727: Αἴας δ’ οὐκέτ’ ἔμιμνε ‘Ajax could not hold them off any longer’. Now Ajax makes a strategic partial withdrawal, I.15.728, stepping off the ikria ‘deck’ of the ship of Protesilaos, I.15.729, which is where he had been standing, I.15.730. So, Ajax now fights on a lower level, I.15.729, and from further back inside the ship, I.15.728, but at least he continues to fight back, I.15.743–746, encouraging his fellow Achaeans to fight back as well I.15.732, and his words of encouragement, as quoted at I.15.733–741, are uttered in the form of a ritual shout, as expressed by the verb boân I.15.732. The focusing at I.15.696–746 on the stern of the ship of Protesilaos will become an essential narrative link in later phases of the narration about the Battle of the Ships. Already at I.15.704–706, Hector’s action in grabbing the stern of the ship of Protesilaos signals a tipping point: the defenses of the Achaeans, especially as represented by Ajax, are about to fail. In Bacchylides Ode 13.105–108, on the other hand, there is a reference to an alternative epic tradition about the role of Ajax. In this version, Ajax stands his ground on the stern of the beached ship: |105 ὅστ’ ἐπὶ πρύμναι σταθ[εὶς] |106 ἔσχεν θρασυκάρδιον [ὁρ]|107 μαίνοντα ν[ᾶας]|108 θεσπεσίωι πυ[ρὶ ––]| ‘(Ajax,) the one who, standing on the stern of the ship, held off Hector of the bold heart. (Hector) was attacking the ships with his fire [pūr], wondrous to tell about, […]’. [[GN 2016.10.27 via HPC 162, Nagy 2011c:187–189.]]

I.15.733

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; therapontes of Ares
In contexts where the plural therapontes in combination with Arēos ‘of Ares’ is applied to the Achaeans=Danaans=Argives (at I.06.067, to the Danaoi) as a grouping of warriors, the deeper meaning is more evident than in other contexts. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.02.110 via BA 293–295; GMP 48; H24H 6§32.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 16

2016.11.010

It seems at first as if everything is coming together here in Iliad 16. Achilles, best of the Achaeans, sends out his other self, Patroklos, to fight Hector and his Trojans, who are now on the verge of setting on fire and destroying all the beached ships of the Achaeans. Patroklos does in fact succeed in stopping the fire, which had been endangering not only the survival of the Achaeans but even the very existence of their notional descendants, imagined as the Greeks who are listening to the story of the Iliad in their own time. The conflagration that could have burned down the beached ships of the Achaeans is now literally ‘quenched’ by Patroklos, whose heroic action in putting out the fire of the Trojans is compared in a simile to a cosmic action taken by Zeus himself when this weather-god drenches and thus destroys in a violent rainstorm the farmlands of unjust men. Clearly, Zeus is now once again on the Achaean side of the Trojan War. But the success of Patroklos is not to last: soon after he kills Sarpedon, son of Zeus himself, in the course of a spectacular chariot fight, Patroklos now gets killed in the course of a second spectacular chariot fight. This time, Patroklos has gone too far, daring to attack not only Hector but also the divine protector of that hero, Apollo himself. Now everything is about to come apart again, and Achilles has yet to find out about the tragedy that awaits him.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig16
Figure 16. A chariot driver and a chariot fighter in a biga (two-horses chariot). Terracotta, Late Helladic IIIA–IIIB (ca. 1400–1200 BCE). Louvre Museum, CA 2959. Credit line: Purchase, 1934.  Image Marie-Lan Nguyen (User:Jastrow), 2009-06-28 [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons.

I.16.021

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; phertatos ‘best’
Here the idea of ‘best of the Achaeans’ is expressed by way of phertatos ‘best’. In the Iliad, only Achilles is designated as phertatos in comparison with the rest if the Achaeans as an aggregate. See also I.02.769. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 27.]]

I.16.022

Q&T via BA 79
subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’
See the comments on I.01.188, I.01.407–412, I.01.503–510, I.01.509, I.01.558–559, I.09.003, I.09.008–009, I.11.317–319. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 79, 90, 94; also HTL 132.]]

I.16.032

subject heading(s): loigos ‘devastation’; amunein ‘ward off’
See the comment on I.01.320–348. On loigos ‘devastation’ as the direct object of amunein ‘ward off’, see also I.10.456, I.15.736, I.16.075, I.16.080. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 75–76.]]

I.16.052

subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’
See the comments on I.01.188, I.01.407–412, I.01.503–510, I.01.509, I.01.558–559, I.09.003, I.09.008–009, I.11.317–319. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 94; also HTL 132.]]

I.16.055

Q&T BA 79
subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’; algea ‘pains’
See the comments on I.01.188, I.01.407–412, I.01.503–510, I.01.509, I.01.558–559, I.09.003, I.09.008–009, I.11.317–319. Here at I.16.055, the akhos ‘grief’ that Achilles feels because he was dishonored by Agamemnon and by the Achaeans in general is equated, in his own words, with algea ‘pains’, object of the verb paskhein ‘suffering’. The idea of personal heroic suffering as expressed by way of the combination paskhein and algea here in the case of Achilles is parallel to what we see in the case of Odysseus at O.01.004. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 79, 94; also HTL 132.]]

I.16.057

subject heading(s): Pedasos as variant for Lyrnessos
In this verse, Achilles is speaking about Briseis. In the scholia T for this same verse, I.16.057, a variant tradition is reported about this captive woman: it comes from the epic known as the Cypria, which was part of the epic Cycle. (On the epic Cycle, see the Inventory of terms and names.) In the Cypria, as we are told by the scholia T here at I.16.057, Achilles captured Briseis when he conquered the city of Pedasos. In the Iliad, by contrast, the city that Achilles conquered when he captured Briseis was Lyrnessos, I.02.689–694. For more about such variation between Pedasos and Lyrnessos, see the comments on I.20.089–102 and I.20.187–194. See also the anchor comment at I.02.689–694 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 1; see also the anchor comment at I.09.128–131 / 270–272 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 2. [[GN 2016.11.09 via HPC 243.]]

I.16.075

subject heading(s): loigos ‘devastation’; amunein ‘ward off’
See the comment on I.01.320–348; see also I.16.032. Here the subject of the verb amunein ‘ward off’ switches from Achilles to Patroklos. This way, Patroklos becomes the savior of the Achaeans by rescuing them from the fire of Hector. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 75–76, 328, 336.]]

I.16.080

subject heading(s): loigos ‘devastation’; amunein ‘ward off’
Here again the subject of the verb amunein ‘ward off’ switches from Achilles to Patroklos. See the comment on I.16.075. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 75–76, 328, 336.]]

I.16.087–096

subject heading(s): limits set for Patroklos by Achilles
Achilles tells Patroklos not to go beyond the limits that he sets for him in these verses. If Patroklos does exceed these limits, as he will, he will lose his shared identity with Achilles. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 293.]]

I.16.097–100

Q&T BA 325
subject heading(s): Indic heroes Bhīma and Arjuna
The heroic tendency of Achilles to behave as a lone warrior, not as a member of a group of warriors, is comparable to heroic tendencies that play out in the Indic epic known as the Mahābhārata. In that epic, Bhīma is the “loner,” as it were, while Arjuna is the “joiner.” But the characteristic of Achilles as a “loner” is complicated by the fact that Patroklos, so long as he shares his identity with Achilles, likewise behaves as a “loner” in the Iliad. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 325.]]

I.16.112

subject heading(s): re-invocation of Muse(s); ennepein ‘narrate, tell’; Mousa ‘Muse’; singing as narrating
lemmatizing: ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ' ἔχουσαι
On the use of the plural here, see the comment on I.02.484. I repeat here the translation: ‘tell me now, you Muses who have your dwellings on Mount Olympus’. It has already been noted in the comment on I.11.218 (and earlier on I.02.484) that the Master Narrator tends to re-invoke the Muse or the Muses at special moments of poetic self-awareness about the need for high fidelity to tradition. For more on the poetics of re-invocation, see also the comments on I.02.761, I.14.508. Here at I.16.112 the special moment of poetic self-awareness corresponds to the heroic self-awareness of Hector, as analyzed in the comment on I.08.180–183. Since the Muses are the goddesses of poetic memory, their re-invocation by the Master Narrator here at I.16.112 is a fulfillment of the original prediction of Hector: there will be mnēmosunē ‘memory’, I.08.181, of the moment when he will set fire to the beached ships of the Achaeans in the epic Battle for the Ships.

I.16.113

subject heading(s): the fire of Hector finally reaches the ships of the Achaeans
Here is where it all comes together: what the Muses are re-invoked to sing is ‘how the fire of Hector finally reached the ships of the Achaeans’, I.16.113: ὅππως δὴ πρῶτον πῦρ ἔμπεσε νηυσὶν Ἀχαιῶν, [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 17, PasP 61.]]

I.16.119–121

subject heading(s): Will of Zeus
Ajax sees, to his horror, that the dreaded moment has arrived. Now that the fire of Hector is about to reach the ships of the Achaeans, the Will of Zeus is finally about to be fulfilled: what Zeus now literally bouletai ‘wills’ is nīkē ‘victory’ for the Trojans, I.16.121. See also HC 4§109, with a survey of all Homeric situations where either Zeus or Athena awards nīkē ‘victory’. [[GN 2016.11.09.]]

I.16.122–124

subject heading(s): fire of Hector as phlox ‘burst of flame’
Ajax makes another strategic partial withdrawal, I.16.122. For an earlier reference to Ajax in the act of withdrawing, see I.15.727–732 and the comment on I.15.704–746. Meanwhile a fiery missile lands on one of the beached ships of the Achaeans, I.16.122–123, and a phlox ‘burst of flame’ envelops the prumnē ‘stern’ of that ship, I.16.123–124. As we know from earlier references to this ship, it had belonged to Protesilaos: see the comment on I.15.704–746. Achilles sees that the beached ship is on fire, and he now urges Patroklos to arm himself and go off to defend the ships from the fire. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 336, HPC 162.]]

I.16.140–144

subject heading(s): meliē ‘ash spear’ of Achilles
Patroklos wears the armor of Achilles, but he leaves behind that hero’s meliē ‘ash spear’ I.16.143. Only Achilles can wield that weapon, I.16.140–144. The symbolism of this spear corresponds to the myth of the bronze generation of heroes in Hesiod Works and Days 143–151, who were born of ash trees and were made of bronze, just as the shaft of the spear of Achilles is made from an ash tree while the tip is made of bronze. By contrast with the immortalizing armor that Achilles receives from his immortal mother Thetis, he receives the ash spear from his mortal father Peleus. For more on the symbolism of the hero’s ash spear, I recommend Shannon 1975. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 158.]]

I.16.149

subject heading(s): Xanthos the immortal horse of Achilles
Postponed for a later comment is an analysis of myths about solar horses; the name of Xanthos is relevant. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 209–210.]]

I.16.150–151

Q&T via GMP 238
subject heading(s): harpuia ‘Harpy’
On the word harpuia, personified as ‘Harpy’, see Parts 3 and 4 of the comment at O.15.250–251. [[GN 2017.08.02 via GMP 244–245; also 238.]]

I.16.165

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
Here, for the first time in the Iliad, Patroklos is marked as the therapōn of Achilles. His dual role as ‘attendant’ and ‘ritual substitute’ is already implicit. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.04.227; see also BA 292.]]

I.16.189

subject heading(s): kratero- ‘having the power to win’; hiero- ‘sacred’
Postponed for a later comment is an analysis of semantic and morphological links between these two adjectives kratero- ‘having the power to win’ and hiero- ‘sacred’ in contexts where they describe the noun menos ‘mental power’. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 86.]]

I.16.213

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’
This word biē ‘force, violence, strength’ and its synonym īs are conventionally associated with violent winds. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 321.]]

I.16.235

subject heading(s): hupophētai ‘spokesmen’
This word hupophētai ‘spokesmen’ refers to interpreters of oracular pronouncements. [[GN 2016.11.09 via HPC 118n12.]]

I.16.237

Q&T via BA 82
subject heading(s): tīmân ‘honor, give honor to’; Chryses; prayer
As it was noted in the comment on I.13.111–113, Agamemnon ‘dishonored’ Achilles, I.13.113, as expressed by the verb a-tīmân, and Zeus therefore punished the Achaeans. Again here at I.16.237, the Achaeans are being punished by Zeus, while he ‘honors’, tīmân, Achilles.
[[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 82.]]

I.16.240–248

subject heading(s): self-identification of Achilles with Patroklos
Achilles is sending off Patroklos to fight in his place, but he is not sure whether he can identify himself with his best friend when Patroklos goes off on his own. This uncertainty, as we will see in the comment on I.16.244, is relevant to the use of the word therapōn. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 292.]]

I.16.244

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
Here, for the second time in the Iliad, Patroklos is marked as the therapōn of Achilles. His dual role as ‘attendant’ and ‘ritual substitute’ is already implicit. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.04.227; see also GMP 130.]]

I.16.255-256

subject heading(s): klisiā ‘shelter’
Achilles is pictured as standing in front of his klisiā ‘shelter’, to get a better view of the battle scene. In the comments on I.08.220–227 and on I.11.005–016, there is more about the positioning of this klisiā. [[GN 2016.11.09 via HPC 162.]]

I.16.271–272

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Argives’
The wording of Patroklos describes Achilles as the ‘best of the Argives’—which is another way of saying that Achilles is ‘the best of the Achaeans’. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 26.]]

I.16.272

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; ankhe-makhoi ‘fighting side by side’; “taking the hit”
In the words of Patroklos, there are warriors and then there are therapontes of warriors. These therapontes are ankhe-makhoi, literally ‘fighting next to them’, that is, fighting side by side with the warriors. Here we see the stance of a chariot driver who is speaking about standing next to the chariot fighter. They stand together, side by side on the chariot platform. So, standing here side by side with the chariot fighter is his very own chariot driver, his very own therapōn in the dual role of ‘attendant’ and ‘ritual substitute’. The ritual pose, as it were, of the therapōn as he takes his stand side by side with the primary warrior on the platform of the chariot is a physical embodiment of his role as ritual substitute. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.15.431 and, secondarily, via the comment on I.04.227 via Nagy 2015.05.01, 2015.05.08, 2015.05.15, 2015.05.20. See also BA 293.]]

I.16.273–274

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; atē ‘aberration’
For Agamemnon to dishonor the status of Achilles as ‘the best of the Achaeans’, as Achilles himself says at I.01.412, is a sign of the over-king’s atē ‘aberration’. Patroklos says it again here, I.16.273–274. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 26.]]

I.16.279

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
As Patroklos rides off to battle, soon to die as the ritual substitute of Achilles, we see here standing next to him on the chariot his very own therapōn. It becomes clear, as the narrative proceeds, that this therapōn is the hero Automedon. Does this hero function here not only as the ‘attendant’ of Patroklos but also as that hero’s very own ‘ritual substitute’? The answer is: no. Automedon is temporarily the chariot driver for Patroklos, but he will not become a ritual substitute for him. True, we see Automedon functioning as an ‘attendant’ at I.16.145–154, where he yokes the horses of Achilles to the chariot that he will drive for Patroklos: so, Automedon is definitely a temporary attendant for Patroklos as well as his temporary chariot driver. But Automedon will not become a ritual substitute for Patroklos. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.16.282

Q&T via BA 106
subject heading(s): mēnithmos ‘anger’; philotēs ‘being near and dear to one’s near and dear ones’
For Achilles to renounce his mēnithmos ‘anger’ is equated, already here, to his restoring the relationship that should exist among companions who are philoi ‘near and dear’ to each other: such a relationship, as we see here, is philotēs ‘being near and dear to one’s near and dear ones’. In the Iliad, Patroklos takes on the role of restoring, by way of his own death, such philotēs between Achilles and the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 106.]]

I.16.286

subject heading(s): ship of Protesilaos
Patroklos, hastening to reach the scene of battle, finally arrives at the center of the action, where the ship of Protesilaos is beached. Now he is right next to the prumnē ‘stern’ of that ship. See also the comment on I.15.704–746. [[GN 2016.11.09 via HPC 162.]]

I.16.293/301

Q&T via BA 336
subject heading(s): quenching the fire
At I.16.287–292, Patroklos successfully defends the beached ships of the Achaeans: he kills Puraikhmēs, the foremost attacker, and he puts the other attackers to flight, thus saving the Achaeans by ‘quenching’, as expressed by way of sbennunai, I.16.293, the fire that had threatened their ships. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 336.]]

I.16.294–298

subject heading(s): ship of Protesilaos
Patroklos now leads the Achaeans in counterattacking the Trojans, leaving behind the ship of Protesilaos, half of which has by now been burned down in the battle, I.16.294. [[GN 2016.11.09 via HPC 162.]]

I.16.301

subject heading(s): averting the fire from the beached ships
The successful action so far is now summed up here: the Achaeans=Danaans, led by Patroklos, have succeeded in pushing back from their beached ships the fire that had threatened the beached ships. [[GN 2016.11.06.]]

I.16.362

subject heading(s): nīkē ‘victory’
So, Zeus has now shifted the momentum of the battle, and nīkē ‘victory’ has gone over to the side of the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.11.09 via HC 4§109.]]

I.16.364–366

The victory that Zeus is now making possible for the Achaeans is compared here to a storm that is stirred up by the god. [[GN 2016.11.09 via HC 4§109.]]

I.16.383–393

The momentum of Hector’s chariot, as he is driving away from the ships, is compared to the flooding caused by a violent rainstorm stirred up by Zeus against the unrighteous. Since Patroklos had effectively ‘quenched’ the fire that had threatened the beached ships of the Achaeans, I.16.293, the comparing of his success against the fleeing Trojans to a cataclysmic rainstorm stirred up by Zeus is all the more appropriate. [[GN 2016.11.09 via Nagy 2016.05.12§§3–4; see also BA 323, GMP 211.]]

I.16.437

subject heading(s): dēmos ‘community, district’
In this context, the localized meaning of dēmos in the sense of ‘district’ is still overt. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 149, PH 251.]]

I.16.440–457

subject heading(s): Sarpedon as cult hero; hero cult; cult hero
The description here of an impending funeral and entombment for Sarpedon is replete with references to hero cult. Some of these references, as we will now see in detail, indicate that the cult hero is destined to be immortalized after death. [[GN 2016.11.09 via GMP 138.]]

I.16.454–455

subject heading(s): Hypnos and Thanatos
The symmetry of personified Sleep and personified Death here is comparable to Homeric attestations of parallel syntax for describing explicitly an awakening after sleep and implicitly a revival after death in scenarios for the immortalization of a cult hero. [[GN 2016.11.09 via GMP 142.]]

I.16.455

subject heading(s): dēmos ‘community, district’
In this context, the localized meaning of dēmos in the sense of ‘district’ is still overt. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 149, PH 251, GMP 131–133.]]

I.16.456–457

subject heading(s): tarkhuein ‘ritually prepare’; hero cult; cult hero
These two verses, repeated at I.16.674–675 and foreshadowed by three verses at I.07.084–086 containing an indirect reference to the funeral and entombment of Achilles, refer to the funeral and entombment of Sarpedon in his role as a cult hero. Here I give an epitome of a far more detailed argumentation in Nagy 2012:60–69. In terms of hero cult, the wording that refers here at I.16.456–457 to a funeral and an entombment implies a ritual preparing of the dead body for a mystical revival after death. The word that refers to such immortalization in these Homeric passages is tarkhuein (ταρχύσουσι), at I.07.085, I.16.456, I.16.674. It can be argued that this Greek word tarkhuein, which I translate here neutrally as ‘ritually prepare’, is a borrowing from the Anatolian language that we know as Lycian, and that the corresponding Lycian word conveys the idea of ‘immortalize’. The most relevant forms in the surviving corpus of Anatolian linguistic evidence are (1) Lycian Trqqñt-, name of a Lycian thunder god; (2) the cognate Luvian form Tarḫunt-, name of the thunder god who is head of the Luvian pantheon; (3) the cognate Hittite form tarḫu-/tar(r)uḫ- (/tarxw-/), a verb meaning ‘be victorious, overcome’. Cognates of this Hittite verb tarḫu- in other Indo-European languages convey the idea of ‘overcome’ or ‘transcend’ in contexts where the object of transcendence is death itself (GMP 139). An example is the Greek compound noun nek-tar (νέκταρ), consisting of roots meaning ‘death’ (nek- as in nekros ‘corpse’) and ‘conquer’ (-tar, cognate with Hittite tarḫu-). I argue that the Lycian and the Luvian names of the thunder god convey the idea of revivifying as well as overcoming, since thunder gods as described in Indo-European languages have the power to use their thunder weapons not only to overcome violently their enemies but also to preserve and thus make sacred their own devotees—and even to revivify them (GMP 197; see also GMP 132–134).

I.16.464

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; “taking the hit”
In the first round of this duel of Patroklos and Sarpedon as chariot fighters, Patroklos is the first to aim his spear at Sarpedon, and then Sarpedon in turn aims at Patroklos, I.16.462–469. Here is what happens in these verses. First, Patroklos misses, hitting Thrasymelos, the therapōn of Sarpedon. So, the chariot driver as therapōn “takes the hit” for the chariot fighter, fulfilling his role as a ritual substitute. Then, Sarpedon misses hitting Sarpedon with his spear, hitting instead Pedasos the mortal horse of Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.16.514

subject heading(s): dēmos ‘community, district’
In this context, the localized meaning of dēmos in the sense of ‘district’ is still overt. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 149, PH 251.]]

I.16.548–553

subject heading(s): penthos ‘grief’
The Trojans experience collective penthos ‘grief’, I.16.548, over the death of Sarpedon. On the collective aspects of penthos ‘grief’ see the comment on I.04.197. On collective akhos ‘grief’, see the comment on I.01.407–412 and on I.01.509. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 94.]]

I.16.605

subject heading(s): the expression ‘(and) he was honored [tīein] as a god [theos] in the district [dēmos]’ (θεὸς [δ’] ὣς τίετο δήμῳ); hero cult; cult hero
See anchor comment at I.05.077–078. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 149, GMP 132–133.]

I.16.653

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; “taking the hit”
Before the duel of Patroklos and Hector as chariot fighters begins, the momentum is with Patroklos, and he is marked as the therapōn of Achilles in this context. His role as a ritual substitute is only implicit here. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 292.]]

I.16.670

subject heading(s): ambroto- / ambrosio- ‘immortalizing’
We see here further indications of Sarpedon’s impending immortalization: Apollo anoints the hero’s body with ambrosiē ‘immortalizing substance’ and clothes him in vestments that are ambrota ‘immortalizing’. [[GN 2016.11.09 via GMP 141.]]

I.16.671–673

subject heading(s): Hypnos and Thanatos
See the comment on I.16.454–455. [[GN 2016.11.09.]]

I.16.673

subject heading(s): dēmos ‘community, district’
See the comment on I.16.455. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 149, PH 251, GMP 131–133.]]

I.16.674–675

subject heading(s): tarkhuein ‘ritually prepare’
See the comment on I.16.456–457. [[GN 2016.11.09.]]

I.16.680

subject heading(s): ambroto- ‘immortalizing’
See the comment on I.16.670. [GN 2016.11.09.]]

I.16.682

subject heading(s): Hypnos and Thanatos
See the comment on I.16.454–455. [[GN 2016.11.09.]]

I.16.683

subject heading(s): dēmos ‘community, district’
See the comment on I.16.455. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 149, PH 251, GMP 131–133.]]

I.16.685–687

subject heading(s): aâsthai ‘veer off-course’ as the verb of atē ‘aberration’
At I.16.685, Patroklos experiences a personal atē ‘aberration’, as expressed by way of the verb aâsthai ‘veer off-course’. [[GN 2016.11.09 via PH 254.]]

I.16.705–711

subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’ of Apollo; daimoni isos ‘equal to a superhuman force [daimōn]’; antagonism between immortal and mortal
Patroklos confronts Apollo four times and then backs off, thus avoiding the mēnis ‘anger’ of the god, I.16.711. At the moment of his climactic fourth confrontation with Apollo, Patroklos is described as daimoni isos ‘equal to a daimōn’, I.16.705. The ‘superhuman force’ to which this word daimōn refers here can be understood to be Apollo himself. We see here a climactic moment in a pattern of divine-human antagonism that links the god Apollo with the hero Achilles, but Patroklos can now take upon himself the role of a ritual substitute for Achilles. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 143–144.]]

I.16.722–723

Q&T via GMP 300
subject heading(s): wishes correlated with premises
We see at I.16.722 a wish that is predicated on confidence in some specific certainty: αἴθ ὅσον ἥσσων εἰμί, τόσον σέο φέρτερος εἴην ‘If only I could be superior to you—as surely as I am that much inferior to you!’ On the syntax of such wishes, see the comment on I.18.464–466. In this case, however, the predicated certainty is falsified, since the speaker is Apollo disguised as Hector’s uncle, and the god is of course superior rather than inferior to Hector. Here I epitomize the analysis in GMP 300. Apollo now says, in the guise of Hector’s uncle: if you were that much inferior, then you would retreat in battle, I.16.723. But, since Hector is supposedly that much superior to his uncle, he is of course expected not to retreat. What is hidden in these comparisons is the relative stature of the god himself: the uncle is to Hector as Hector is to Apollo. From the standpoint of Hector, the premise in Apollo’s use of the idiom is reality: the uncle is inferior to Hector. Here I repeat the wording of I.16.722: αἴθ ὅσον ἥσσων εἰμί, τόσον σέο φέρτερος εἴην ‘If only I could be superior to you—as surely as I am that much inferior to you!’ From the standpoint of Apollo and the framing narrative, however, the premise is false: Apollo is superior, not inferior, to Hector. Therefore the wish that is based on the premise is augmented: the ‘that much’ of ‘let me be that much superior to you’ is immeasurably more than Hektor might think. [[GN 2016.11.09 via GMP 300.]]

I.16.767

subject heading(s): meliē as ‘ash tree’ or ‘ash spear’
Here the word means ‘ash tree’; elsewhere, as we saw in the comment on I.16.140–144, it means ‘ash spear’, I.16.143. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 156.]]

I.16.784

subject heading(s): ‘equal to Ares’
Patroklos has reached the point where he is about to die by way of Apollo’s direct intervention. At this point, I.16.784, he is described as atalantos Arēï ‘equal to Ares’. But this hero’s death is more complex, as we will see in the comment on I.16.786–804. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 293.]]

I.16.786–804

subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’ of Apollo; daimoni isos ‘equal to a superhuman force [daimōn]’; antagonism between immortal and mortal
Patroklos confronts Apollo four times and then, the fourth time around, he fails to back off as he had backed off in the previous confrontation at I.16.705–711. In the course of that previous confrontation, Patroklos had thus avoided the mēnis ‘anger’ of the god, I.16.711. But now he will fail to avoid the god’s anger. At the moment of his climactic fourth confrontation with Apollo, Patroklos is once again described as daimoni isos ‘equal to a daimōn’, I.16.786, just as he had been described in the previous confrontation I.16.705. And, once again, the ‘superhuman force’ to which this word daimōn refers here at I.16.786 can be understood to be Apollo himself. As earlier, we see here a climactic moment in a pattern of divine-human antagonism that links the god Apollo with the hero Achilles, and Patroklos will now take upon himself the role of a ritual substitute for Achilles. In this role, Patroklos is not only daimoni īsos ‘equal to a superhuman force [daimōn] at I.16.786: he is also atalantos Arēï ‘equal to Ares’, I.16.784. See the comment above on I.16.784. As a warrior, Patroklos is matched with Ares as the god of war. As a ritual substitute of Achilles, however, he is also matched with Apollo as the divine antagonist of Achilles. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 143–144, 293.]]

I.16.787

subject heading(s): second-person addressing of heroes
At this climactic moment of the hero’s death, the Master Narrator addresses Patroklos in the second person. Such poetic conventions reflect a phase of epic poetry when it was not yet fully differentiated from praise poetry. [[GN 2016.11.09 via PH 197.]]

I.16.804–806

subject heading(s): atē ‘aberration’
As Apollo strips away the protective armor from the body of Patroklos, piece by piece, the hero is being prepared for his ritualized death. At this moment, Patroklos is possessed by atē ‘aberration’, I.16.805. [[GN 2016.11.09 via PH 254.]]

I.16.815

subject heading(s): gumnos ‘stripped’
Patroklos is now gumnos ‘stripped’ of all his armor, ready to be killed. While he was still wearing the armor, he would have been been invulnerable. At a later point, after Hector has already taken possession of this armor and is now seen wearing it, I.17.194, the adjective ambrota ‘immortalizing’ is applied to these teukhea ‘arms’. This adjective ambroto- ‘immortalizing’ is applied to words that make the hero immune to death. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 173.]]

I.16.844–845

subject heading(s): nīkē ‘victory’
The nīkē ‘victory’ of Hector over Patrokos was granted, says Patroklos, by Zeus and Apollo. In most Homeric contexts, nīkē ‘victory’ is ordinarily granted by Zeus alone. [[GN 2016.11.09 via HC 4§109.]]

I.16.856

subject heading(s): psūkhē ‘spirit’
The psūkhē ‘spirit’ of Patroklos leaves him at the precise moment of his death. Here we see the most basic Homeric way of visualizing the psychology, as it were, of dying. [[GN 2016.11.09 via BA 168, GMP 88–89.]]

I.16.865

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
After having just killed Patroklos, Hector goes after Automedon, who is evidently still standing on the platform of the chariot and who is marked here as the therapōn of Achilles. Hector takes aim with his spear, but he misses hitting Automedon, who drives off with the chariot, I.16.864–867. Automedon here is no ritual substitute for Patroklos, nor is he now a ritual substitute for Achilles, since Patroklos has just now fulfilled that role by getting killed instead of Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 17

2016.11.18

The main preoccupation of the Achaeans here in Iliad 17 is to recover the corpse of Patroklos. Their efforts are understandable, in that they are showing their sense of solidarity by trying to rescue from harm the body of a fellow warrior who has fallen in battle. But the motivation here goes deeper. Patroklos is a cult hero in the making, and the corpses of heroes are essential for establishing hero cults in their honor. And the foreseen status of Patroklos as cult hero prefigures a comparable status for Achilles himself beyond the Iliad.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig17
Figure 17. Copperplate etching (1795) by Tommaso Piroli, after a drawing (1793) by John Flaxman. Photographed/scanned by H.-P.Haack (Antiquariat Dr. Haack Leipzig) [CC BY 3.0 or Public domain]. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.17.050–060

subject heading(s): beau mort (a dead body made beautiful by way of a beautiful death, une belle mort)
The hero Euphorbos, fighting on the Trojan side of the war, has just been killed by Menelaos the Achaean. The corpse of Euphorbos is described here as a generic beau mort, that is, as a dead body made beautiful by way of a beautiful death, une belle mort. (See the anchor comment on I.123.184–191 on the salvation of Hector’s body, with reference to Hector as the definitive beau mort of the Iliad.) There are two levels to be seen in the overall wording that describes the corpse of Euphorbos here. First, at I.17.050–051, the beauty of the body is indicated incidentally by way of focusing on a detailed description of the dead hero’s hair. Second, at I.17.53–60, the entire body of the dead hero is compared, by way of simile, to a tender young olive seedling or ernos that has just been uprooted by a violent gust of wind. [[GN 2016.11.17 via HPC 295–296.]]

I.17.051–052

Q&T via HPC 296
subject heading(s): kharis as ‘grace’ or as ‘myrtle blossom’
The droplets of blood that are foregrounded on the hair of the fallen hero Euphorbos are compared here to kharites, plural of kharis, which can mean ‘grace’ or ‘gracefulness’ in general but also, far more specifically in some Greek dialects, ‘myrtle blossom’ (scholia D [via A] for I.17.051). It is as if the besprinkling of the dead hero’s hair with droplets of his own blood could be pictured as a foregrounding of red myrtle blossoms against a background of green darkness. [[GN 2016.11.18 via HPC 296 [with n80] and MoM 4§146.]]

I.17.053–060

subject heading(s): ernos ‘seedling’; lament
The comparison of the dead Euphorbos to an olive ‘seedling’ or ernos that has just been uprooted by a violent gust of wind corresponds to conventional descriptions of the dead in songs of lament. For more on such descriptions, see the comment on I.18.051–060. [[GN 2016.11.18 via of BA 183.]]

I.17.072

subject heading(s): equal to Ares
Hector is said to be atalantos or ‘equal’ to Ares. Such a description here is part of a buildup to the eventual confrontation between Hector, who will be wearing the old armor of Achilles, and Achilles himself, who will in turn be wearing his own new armor. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 294.]]

I.17.088

subject heading(s): phlox ‘burst of flame’
Hector is compared here to a phlox ‘burst of flame’ streaming from Hephaistos as god of fire. See also I.13.688 and I.16.122–124 on the fire of Hector as a phlox ‘burst of flame’. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 337.]]

I.17.098–101

subject heading(s): pēma ‘pain’; kulindesthai ‘roll’
The death of Patroklos is viewed here retrospectively as a great pēma ‘pain’, I.17.099, that is sure to kulindesthai ‘roll’ down from the heights like some boulder and destroy anyone daring to attack a warrior who is being protected by a god. On the metaphor of such a pēma ‘pain’ as a boulder that ‘rolls’ down from the heights, see the comment on I.11.347. In the present context, I.17.098–101, the pēma ‘pain’ has descended upon Patroklos, who has dared to attack Hector while that warrior was being protected by Apollo. This pēma ‘pain’ for Patroklos prefigures what will happen to Achilles himself beyond the Iliad when he dares to attack Paris while that warrior is in turn being protected by Apollo. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 63, 77.]]

I.17.164

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; ‘best of the Achaeans’
In this retrospective, it is said that Patroklos has been killed as a therapōn of Achilles, who is described here as ‘best of the Achaeans’. The immediate context accommodates here even the deeper meaning of therapōn as ‘ritual substitute’, since Patroklos himself could become temporarily the ‘best of the Achaeans’ at the moment of his death. At that moment, he is substituting himself for Achilles by prefiguring a future moment, beyond the Iliad, when Achilles will die in a way that matches the way that Patroklos died in Iliad 16. [[GN 2016.08.04 via BA 292–293.]]

I.17.165

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; ankhe-makhoi ‘fighting side by side’
The Argives=Achaeans are described here as attended by therapontes who are ankhe-makhoi ‘fighting side by side’ with them. [[GN 2016.08.4 via the comment on I.16.272.]]

I.17.176–178

subject heading(s): nīkē ‘victory’
In most Homeric situations it is Zeus who is primarily responsible for heroic victory. [[GN 2016.11.18 via HC 4§109.]]

I.17.187

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’; kleos ‘glory’
Like other names containing the element kleos ‘glory’ in Homeric diction, the name of Patroklos=Patrokleēs can have a periphrastic alternative, as here: ‘the biē of Patroklos’. Comparable is the periphrasis of the name Hērakléēs as biē Hēraklēeíē, or of the name Eteokléēs as bíē Eteoklēeíē. See the comments on I.02.658 and I.04.386. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 319.]]

I.17.194–214

Q&T via MoM 1§101
subject heading(s): armor of Achilles; Will of Zeus; metonymy; lament; sorrows of Andromache; Plan of Zeus; plot of the Iliad; narrative arc; metonymy; theo-eroticism
When Zeus sees Hector putting on the armor of Achilles, he nods his divine head, thus signaling his will, which in this case is a specific plan to make into a part of the overall narrative a special scene where the death of Hector at the hands of Achilles will cause grief for Andromache, who will never get see Hector wearing the armor of Achilles—since her husband will never return to her alive. Instead of welcoming back her husband in Iliad 22, Andromache will be lamenting him, and the wording at I.22.444 in the context of her impending lament at I.22.476–515 is already prefigured here at I.17.207, referring to the wife’s fond hope to be reunited with her loving husband. See also the comment on I.22.444. Thus the Will of Zeus, the god’s plan, is to create an exquisite artistic effect. Zeus plans here to put in motion a scene of sublime poetic virtuosity, since the epic narrative in Iliad 22 will soon re-enact the lyrical lament of Andromache over the death of Hector, I.22.476–515. Here at I.17.194–214, Zeus is speaking as if he were already the director of the scenario for such a future scene of lament. The god is in effect prefiguring the scene here by way of formally announcing his artistic involvement. Such an involvement can be seen as a kind of metonymic contact with the emotions of Andromache. On the metonymy here, see also the comment on I.01.528–530. (See also under metonymy in the Inventory of terms and names.) [[GN 2016.11.18 via MoM 1§101; also HC 1§203 and 4§269; also HPC 127.]]

I.17.194–197

subject heading(s): armor of Achilles
The armor that was given to Achilles by his immortal mother is immortalizing, whereas the armor that was given to him by his mortal father, the ash spear, symbolizes the hero’s mortality. On the ash spear, see the comment on I.16.140–144. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 158–159.]]

I.17.194

subject heading(s): armor of Achilles; ambroto- immortalizing
The armor of Achilles, which had covered the body of Patroklos and which is now about to cover the body of Hector, is not just ‘immortal’: it is ‘immortalizing’. It will make you immortal unless it stops covering you, as when this armor falls off the body of Patroklos in the course of his death scene as narrated in Iliad 16. On the semantics of ambroto- as ‘immortalizing’, see the comment on I.16.670. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 173, 294, 325.]]

I.17.211

subject heading(s): Enūalios
The name Enūalios can function as an epithet of Ares as war god. In other contexts, the same name can refer to a separate divine personality, likewise a war god. [[GN 2016.11.18 via HPC 290.]]

I.17.213-214

Hector here is quite the picture, looking like Achilles because he wears the armor of Achilles. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 294.]]

I.17.271

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
Another retrospective: Patroklos has been killed as a therapōn of Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment at I.17.164; see also BA 292.]]

I.17.279–280

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’
Ajax is described here as second-best to Achilles both in looks and in deeds. [[GN 2016.11.118 via BA 32.]]

I.17.319–322

subject heading(s): kratos ‘winning-power’; aisa ‘portion; fate, destiny’
Here the Achaeans almost win the Trojan War. But that would be premature. In terms of the ordained narrative, such an event of winning would be ‘in-disaccord-with [huper] the portion [aisa] of Zeus’ (ὑπὲρ Διὸς αἶσαν), I.17.321. That is, the aisa or ‘apportionment’ of victory or defeat to the Achaeans and to the Trojans by Zeus is up to Zeus. Zeus gets to decide according to the plan of Zeus. And that plan cannot be contradicted, since the plot of the Homeric Iliad must be the Will of Zeus. For more on the expression huper aisan ‘in disaccord with aisa’ (ὑπὲρ αἶσαν), see the comment on I.03.059. And, since the victory of the Achaeans depends on the Will of Zeus, the very idea that the Achaeans could win ‘by way of their own winning-power [kratos]’ (κάρτεϊ καὶ σθένεϊ σφετέρῳ)—such an idea is entertained at I.17.322—is an impossibility, since kratos ‘winning-power’ comes from the gods in the logic of Homeric diction. On this logic, see the comments on I.01.509 and I.11.317–319. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 82.]]

I.17.331–332

subject heading(s): nīkē ‘victory’
Apollo, disguised as a Trojan, is claiming that Zeus still ‘wishes’, as expressed by the verb bouletai at I.17.331, to give nīkē ‘victory’ to the Trojans instead of the Achaeans, I.17.332. On the basis of what is humanly perceivable by the Trojan whom the god is impersonating here, this claim is still true, but the truth of the claim is not to last. [[GN 2016.11.18 via HC 4§109.]]

I.17.388

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
Yet another retrospective: Patroklos has been killed as a therapōn of Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment at I.17.164; see also BA 292.]]

I.17.411

subject heading(s): ascending scale of affection; philos (plural philoi) ‘near and dear’; philtatos ‘nearest and dearest’; hetairos ‘companion’
Thetis, the divine mother of Achilles, had foretold some things to her mortal son, but she did not foretell the death of Patroklos, described here as the philtatos ‘nearest and dearest’ of all the hetairoi ‘companions’ of Achilles. For Achilles, his ascending scale of affection evolves in such a way as to show that Patroklos turns out to be at the very top of this scale. See the comments on I.09.193–198, I.09.522, I.09.524–599, I.09.642. In those passages, it still seems as if the three companions who approach Achilles as ambassadors should be at the very top of his scale. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 105, PH 253.]]

I.17.432

subject heading(s): Hellespont
The Hellespont is pictured here, in a general way, as the station of Achilles. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 343.]]

I.17.456

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’
The horses that draw the chariot of Achilles are energized by the menos ‘mental power’ that Zeus literally breathes into them. Their animal mentality can now enable them to perform physically what they now need to do, which is, to draw the chariot of Achilles away from danger. In other contexts, heroes are energized by the menos ‘mental power’ that gods breathe into them, and, in this case, such an enhanced human mentality enables them to perform physically their heroic deeds. See the comments on I.10.482, I.11.508, I.12.018, I.15.059–060, I.15.262. [[GN 2016.11.18 via GMP 114, 116.]]

I.17.474–483

subject heading(s): apobatic maneuvers
Automedon, who has been the chariot driver for Patroklos, calls out to Alkimedon to take his place as the driver, since he now wants to become the chariot fighter, thus stepping off the platform of the chariot, as indicated by the verb apobainein ‘step off’, I.17.480. For background on apobatic maneuvers in chariot warfare, see Nagy 2015.05.01, 2015.05.08, 2015.05.15, 2015.05.20. The new relationship of Automedon and Alkimedon as chariot fighter and chariot driver respectively is relevant to the potential function of the chariot driver as a ritual substitute for the chariot rider. See the comment on I.04.227. [[GN 2016.11.18 via PH 211.]]

I.17.547–549

subject heading(s): name of Iris; “speaking name” (nomen loquens)
The name of Îris (῏Ιρις), the goddess who functions as divine messenger, is a “speaking name” (nomen loquens), deriving from the root *uī- as in īs ‘force, violence, strength’. This word īs and also the word biē, which likewise means ‘force, violence, strength’, is conventionally associated with the power of winds, as at I.17.739 and at I.16.213 respectively. Likewise, the goddess Iris herself is powered by windspeed, as we see from the expression podēnemos ōkea Îris (ποδήνεμος ὠκέα Ἶρις) ‘Iris swift with feet of wind’ at I.18.196 and elsewhere. [[GN 2017.07.20 via BA 327.]]

I.17.565

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’
Hector is said to have the menos ‘mental power’ of fire itself. See the comment on I.12018, where it is noted that forces of nature can have a mind of their own, as it were, because they are connected to the mental power of divinities who control the cosmos and to whom humans using their own mental power can pray for the activation of such control. One such natural force is fire, as at I.06.182 and here at I.17.565. [[GN 2016.11.18 via GMP 114.]]

I.17.627

subject heading(s): nīkē ‘victory’
Even at this relatively late stage in the plot of the Iliad, Zeus is still being perceived as giving nīkē ‘victory’ to the Trojans, not to the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.11.18 via HC 4§109.]]

I.17.655

subject heading(s): ascending scale of affection; philos (plural philoi) ‘near and dear’; philtatos ‘nearest and dearest’; hetairos ‘companion’
Once again, Patroklos is described here as the philtatos ‘nearest and dearest’ of all the hetairoi ‘companions’ of Achilles. In his ascending scale of affection, then, Achilles holds Patroklos at the very top. See the comment on I.17.411. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 105, PH 253.]]

I.17.685–690

subject heading(s): pēma ‘pain’; kulindein ‘roll’; ‘best of the Achaeans’; nīkē ‘victory’; pothē ‘longing’; hero cult; cult hero
The news of the death of Patroklos is being poetically formulated here. This death is a pēma ‘pain’, I.17.688, which a god has ‘rolled’ down, as expressed by way of the verb kulindein, upon the Achaeans. See the comment on I.11.347, where we see that this pain is pictured as some boulder that has broken away from the heights above and is now about to crush anyone and anything that stands in the way. And what is this pain? It is the death of the ‘best of the Achaeans’, who is identified here as Patroklos, ritual substitute of Achilles. And the pain caused by this death will cause in turn a pothē ‘longing’ for the hero who has fallen. This noun pothē ‘longing’, like the verb potheîn ‘long for’, evokes the feelings of those who worship cult heroes: see the comment on I.02.695–709. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 33, 63, 77.]]

I.17.736–741

subject heading(s): selas ‘flash of light’; īs ‘force, violence, strength’
The heat of battle is being compared here to the fire of lightning, I.17.737, in a thunderstorm that ravages the habitations of humankind with its selas ‘flash of light’ amidst the īs ‘force, violence, strength’ of a storm wind, I.17.739. For the special significance of this powerful word selas ‘flash of light’, see the comment on I.19.003–017. [[GN 2016.11.18 via BA 321.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 18

2016.11.25

The centerpiece of Iliad 18 is the shield of Achilles, envisioned as a work of art that defines the universe. The divine artisan Hephaistos makes this shield by way of metalwork, but Homeric poetry reconfigures the artistry of this metalwork by way of verbal art. And the artistry of Homeric poetry will now create or re-create a cosmos that is designed to contain the Iliad itself.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig18
Figure 18. “The Shield of Achilles.” Illustration originally published in The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, September 22, 1832.

I.18.009–011

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Myrmidons’; ‘best of the Achaeans’
Before he has even been told about the death of Patroklos, Achilles is feeling anxious, and his anxiety is a premonition of the bad news coming his way. He is already thinking a thought that matches what has already happened, I.18.004, that Patroklos has been killed. In thinking this thought, Achilles reminds himself of something that his divine mother Thetis had once foretold to him: that the ‘best of the Myrmidons’ would be killed while Achilles was still alive, I.009–011. But why had Achilles failed to think this thought at an earlier time? Why did this thought about death for the best of the Myrmidons never occur to him when he sent out Patroklos to fight as his own substitute? It is as if Achilles had already recognized, back then, that Patroklos as his substitute had thereby already taken over, at least for the moment, the identity of Achilles as ‘best of the Achaeans’. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 33.]]

I.18.015–073

subject heading(s): mourning for Patroklos, mourning for Achilles; lament; akhos ‘grief’; a man of constant sorrow
At I.18.015–021, Achilles gets the grim news: that Patroklos has been killed by Hector, and that the fighting to recover his body, despoiled of the armor of Achilles, is still underway. Immediately, Achilles feels akhos ‘grief’, I.18.22. But the mourning and lamentation that is caused by this grief is aimed not only at Patroklos but also at Achilles in the narrative that follows, I.18.021–073. Within this narrative, Achilles gets to have his own wake, as it were. And the akhos ‘grief’ that is now felt by Achilles will never leave him, even after he unsays his mēnis ‘anger’ later on in Iliad 22. Unlike the goddess Demeter in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, for whom the akhos ‘grief’ that she felt at verses 40 and 90 will go away at verse 436 as soon as she is reunited with Persephone, the akhos ‘grief’ of Achilles will never go away. As Thetis the lamenting mother of Achilles declares at I.18.061–062, this hero will never again stop ‘grieving’, akhnusthai, I.18.062. From now on, Achilles will be a man of constant sorrow (on precedents for this expression, see H24H 1§54). See also the comments on I.09.249–250 and on I.23.046–047. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 80, 94, 113; also HTL 132.]]

I.18.051–060

subject heading(s): lament; lament by Thetis; góos ‘lament’; group performance of lament
Thetis not only mourns her son Achilles as if he were already dead: she formally laments him in song. The wording of the verses spoken by Thetis here at I.18.051–060 corresponds morphologically to the wording of a song that could actually be sung as a lament. Leading her Nereid sisters, Thetis begins the singing at I.18.051, as signaled by the verb ex-arkhein ‘lead off [in performing]’, which indicates a performance by a lead performer in a song of lament performed by a group (see also PH 362). In this case, that group is represented by the Nereid sisters of Thetis. Such a performance involves not only singing but also a kinetic system of stylized movements—which is a kind of dancing that is integrated with the singing. On this point, see already the anchor comment on I.08.407–439. The movements of this kind of a kinetic system can be formalized by way of gestures such as swaying, tearing the cheeks, beating the chest, and so on, and it must be kept in mind that the singing of lament could regularly include the kind of stylized dancing that I describe here. As for the overall practice of singing this kind of lament, it is indicated here by a special word, góos, I.18.051. As we will see when we encounter further occurrences of this word, the góos is ordinarily sung only by relatives or close friends of the person who died. A typical theme in such a lament is what we see being sung by Thetis here at I.18.056–057, evoking the image of a tender young seedling that has tragically been cut down before its time. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 183–184.]]

I.18.070–071

subject heading(s): Achilles as a prefigured corpse
The grieving Achilles, shown lying prone here as if he himself were a corpse that needed to be mourned, is now held by the head from behind by her lamenting mother Thetis, Ι.18.071. This gesture re-enacts what typically happens at a real wake: the primary mourning woman will hold the head of the corpse from behind as she sings her song of lament. As we will see at I.24.724, such is the stance of Andromache when she cradles the head of her husband’s corpse while she sings her lament for him. See the comment on I.24.720–776. And the act of mourning performed by Thetis for Achilles here in Iliad 18 actually prefigures what will happen at the funeral of Achilles, which is of course not shown in the Iliad. At that funeral, which is shown only toward the end of the Odyssey, the corpse of Achilles will lie in state, and he will be mourned then by Thetis together with her Nereid sisters, O.24.058–059. Earlier in that narrative, as the corpse of Achilles is first seen lying in the dust after his death in battle, he is described there as larger than life in size, O.24.040: ‘you lay there, so huge in all your hugeness’ (κεῖσο μέγας μεγαλωστί). So also Achilles here in the Iliad is now being pictured as lying in the dust, and he is described here too in the same way, I.18.026–027: ‘all stretched out, so huge in all his hugeness, he lay there’ (μέγας μεγαλωστί τανυσθεὶς | κεῖτο). So, Achilles is already being prefigured here as a corpse that is larger than life. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 113.]]

I.18.073

subject heading(s): penthos ‘grief’
The akhos ‘grief’ experienced by Achilles at I.18.022 upon hearing the news about the death of Patroklos is here called a penthos ‘grief’. As in other Homeric contexts, we can see a synonymity here. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 94, 102; also HTL 132.]]

I.18.074–077

subject heading(s): Will of Zeus
In this retrospective narrative, I.18.074–077, Thetis recalls what Achilles had originally prayed for: the hero had wished that Zeus would allow the Trojans to succeed in their onslaught against the Achaeans—to the point where the attackers would reach the sterns of the beached ships of the Achaeans. At that point, the Achaeans would surely recognize how much they needed Achilles. Now that this wish of Achilles has already been translated into the Will of Zeus, what is to happen next? That is the point of the question asked by Thetis, but of course the answer of Achilles will have to be framed in terms of the consequences resulting from his original wish. Now that Patroklos has been killed, what is Achilles to do? [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 82, 334, 336.]]

I.18.076

subject heading(s): sterns of the Achaean ships
This compressed reference to the positioning of the beached ships of the Achaeans needs to be seen in the broader context of the expanded references, on which see especially the comment on I.08.220–227. [[GN 2016.11.24 via HPC 160.]]

I.18.080–082

subject heading(s): Patroklos; philos ‘near and dear’; hetairos ‘companion’
The restoration of honor for Achilles can now give him no pleasure, since the price for this restoration has been the death of the hetairos ‘companion’ who was most philos ‘near and dear’ to him. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 102, 105; PH 253.]]

I.18.082–085

subject heading(s): armor of Achilles
The armor of Achilles has been stripped from the body of Patroklos by Hector, who is now wearing it. This armor represents what Achilles has inherited from his immortal mother. By contrast, the ash spear as described at I.16.140–144 represents what Achilles has inherited from his mortal father. See the comment on I.16.140–144. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 158–159, 325.]]

I.18.095–099

subject heading(s): ōku-moros ‘soon to have a fated death’
Thetis calls Achilles ōku-moros ‘soon to have a fated death’, I.18.095, since she sees that the hero is resolved to kill Hector despite the consequences—which will be fatal for Achilles. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 102.]]

I.18.102–103

subject heading(s): hetairos ‘companion’
Achilles, recognizing his immeasurable loss in having caused the death of Patroklos, who was all along his nearest and dearest hetairos ‘companion’, has only now come to recognize his commensurate loss in having also caused the deaths of many other hetairoi ‘companions’ who died defending the ships of the Achaeans from Hector’s fire. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 106.]]

I.18.121

subject heading(s): kleos ‘glory’ (of poetry); esthlo- ‘real, genuine, good’; arnusthai ‘struggle to win as a prize’
Now that Patroklos has been killed, Achilles can finally recognize what he has to do. He has to kill Hector, thus ensuring his own death soon thereafter, and by doing so he will win for himself a kleos ‘glory’ that is esthlon ‘real, genuine, good’. The verb arnusthai, which takes kleos ‘glory’ here as its direct object, means ‘struggle to win as a prize’. For more on this verb, see the comment on O.01.05. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 102.]]

I.18.150

subject heading(s): bay of Hellespont
Now that Patroklos has been killed, the Trojans are on the attack again, and they pursue the Achaeans all the way to the last point of refuge for those notional ancestors of Greek civilization. That point, once again, is visualized as the shores of the bay of Hellespont. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 343.]]

I.18.152

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
Yet again, a retrospective: Patroklos has been killed as a therapōn of Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment at I.17.164.]]

I.18.205–206

subject heading(s): fire streaming from the head of Achilles; phlox ‘burst of flame’
As Achilles gets ready to rejoin his companions in the war against the Trojans, his head catches on fire, lit up by the power of the goddess Athena. This fire is described at I.18.206 as a phlox ‘burst of flame’. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 323.]]

I.18.214

subject heading(s): fire from the head of Achilles; selas ‘flash of light’
The word here for the fire bursting from the head of Achilles is selas ‘flash of light’. On this word, which signals the Will of Zeus, see especially the note on I.19.003.017. [[GN 2016.11.26.]]

I.18.225–226

subject heading(s): fire streaming from the head of Achilles
The word here for the fire emanating from the head of Achilles is simply pūr ‘fire’, I.18.225. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 323.]]

I.18.242

subject heading(s): kratero- ‘having the power to win’
Postponed for a later comment is an analysis of this adjective’s connections with the noun kratos ‘winning-power’. For more about this noun, see the comments on I.01.509 and I.11.317–319. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 85.]]

I.18.243–314

subject heading(s): assembly of the Trojans; antagonism between immortal and mortal; mētis ‘mind, intelligence’
At this assembly, Polydamas advocates a defensive strategy now that Achilles has re-entered the war. But Hector insists on a strategy of maintaining the offensive, and his opinion prevails. The Master Narrator comments: this was a bad decision by the assembly, to approve the strategy of Hector, since the goddess Athena had taken away from them their senses, that is, their phrenes ‘thinking’, I.18.311. If the assembly had been sensible, they would have recognized that Hector’s mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ had failed him, I.18.312. As noted in the comments on I.06.286–311, I.07.017–061, I.08.538–541, I.10.043–052, I.11.200, and I.13.825–829, there is a pattern of personal hostility felt by the goddess Athena toward Hector as a hero who aspires to some of the same qualities that Athena herself exemplifies. Like the goddess, Hector can be seen as an exponent of (1) defensive tactics in the warfare of protecting a citadel from sieges and (2) mētis ‘mind, intelligence’—two qualities that are now tragically taken away from him when he most needs to have them in the macro-narrative of the Iliad. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 147, GMP 204.]]

I.18.354–356

subject heading(s): rhapsodic sequencing
The particle de (δέ) of I.18.356 is syntactically correlated with the particle men (μέν) in a preceding verse, I.18.354. But a rhapsode (rhapsōidos) could begin his performance with the de-clause, thus “stranding,” as it were, the preceding men-clause. Here is an example, with reference to the performance of a rhapsode in the Ptolemaic era of Alexandria:
καὶ ὁ μὲν ῥαψῳδὸς εὐθὺς ἦν διὰ στόματος πᾶσιν, ἐν τοῖς Πτολεμαίου γάμοις ἀγομένου τὴν ἀδελφὴν καὶ πρᾶγμα δρᾶν ἀλλόκοτον <νομιζ>ομένου καὶ ἄθεσμον ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῶν ἐπῶν ἐκείνων·
Ζεὺς δ᾿ Ἥρην ἐκάλεσσε κασιγνήτην ἄλοχόν τε [I.18.356]
The rhapsode [rhapsōidos] was the talk of everybody—the one who, at the wedding of Ptolemy who, in marrying his own sister was considered to be committing a deed unnatural and unholy, began with the following words: ‘And [de] Zeus summoned Hera his sister, his wife’ [I.18.356]
Plutarch Table Talk 736e
The historical occasion is the wedding, in the first quarter of the third century before our era, of Ptolemy II Philadelphus to his sister, Arsinoe, in accordance with the practice of Egyptian pharaohs—and in violation of Hellenic practices. Evidently, then, the particle de could be used to begin a rhapsodic performance, even in contexts were such a use was dependent on a preceding men-clause. For an example of such a de at the beginning of a Homeric rhapsody, see the comment on O.03.001. [[GN 2017.03.29 via PP 161–162.]]

I.18.369–371

subject heading(s): aphthito- ‘imperishable’
The domos ‘abode’ of Hephaistos, I.18.369, is described as aphthitos ‘imperishable’, I.18.370, and khalkeos ‘made of bronze’, Ι.18.371. More in a later comment about the implications. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 179.]]

I.18.399

subject heading(s): Ōkeanos
The cosmic river Ōkeanos is described here at I.18.399 as apsorhoos ‘backward-flowing’ (ἀψορρόου Ὠκεανοῖο). Since this river is visualized as flowing around the world in a circle, its flow always comes back to where it started. Since the flow comes back full circle, the Ōkeanos is ‘backward-flowing’. [[GN 2016.11.20 via HC 2§165.]]

I.18.464–466

subject heading(s): wishes correlated with premises
Here is what the divine artisan wishes as he proceeds to make a new set of armor for Achilles: ‘|464 If only I could have the power to hide him from sorrowful death, |465 when his dreadful fate comes upon him |466 —as surely as there will be fine armor for him!’ (|464 αἲ γάρ μιν θανάτοιο δυσηχέος ὧδε δυναίμην |465 νόσφιν ἀποκρύψαι, ὅτε μιν μόρος αἰνὸς ἱκάνοι, |466 ὥς οἱ τεύχεα καλὰ παρέσσεται’). What follows is an epitome from GMP 296. Hephaistos is here wishing for something that is uncertain, and the wish is linked by the adverb hōde (ὧδε) ‘so’ with the conjunction hōs (ὡς) ‘as’ introducing an absolute certainty, that Achilles will have fine armor. In other words, the uncertainty of the wish, that Achilles be saved from death, is correlated with the certainty of the premise, that Achilles will have fine armor. I highlight the wording ai gar (αἲ γάρ + optative) ‘if only’, which expresses the wish, and the wording hōde… hōs (ὧδε…ὡς) ‘as surely as’, which connects this wish to the premise. We see here a parallelism with the wording ei gar (εἰ γάρ + optative) ‘if only’ when Hector expresses his wish to become an immortal, I.08.538 and I.13.825, and with the wording hōs/houtō…hōs (ὣς/οὕτω…ὡς) ‘as surely as’, which connects his wish to his premise as expressed at I.08.538-541 and I.13.825–828-that disaster will surely befall the Achaeans. In some cases, as in the three I have just highlighted, it sounds as if the speaker of the wish were expressing an obvious impossibility. But there are many cases where the wish being expressed is not at all meant to sound impossible: for an example, see I.04.313–314 and the comment there. Other such examples include O.03.218–220, O.14.440–441, O.15.341–342, O.17.494, O.17.496, O.18.235–240. For a more complicated example, see I.16.722–723 and the comment there. I save for a later comment some further examples. [[GN 2016.11.24 via GMP 294–301.]]

I.18.468–613

subject heading(s): making new armor for Achilles; ring-composition; Ōkeanos as ring-composition
The god Hephaistos makes a new set of metallic armor for Achilles to wear, replacing the older set that is now worn by Hector. The divine metalworker commences the work at I.18.468 and completes it at I.18.613. Then at I.18.614 the narrative announces that the overall work on the armor has now been completed. The metalwork itself is described as primarily bronzework, I.18.474, since bronze is the very first kind of metal that the god ‘was casting in the fire’ (ἐν πυρὶ βάλλεν), and then there are three secondary metals that are mentioned in succession at I.18.474–475: tin, gold, and silver. But bronze dominates the narrative. And the very first piece of armor to be made by the divine metalworker, as announced at I.18.478–479, is the sakos or ‘shield’, I.18.478, which is the centerpiece of the entire process of manufacturing the new set of armor for Achilles. The narrative that describes the making of the shield, which is already a description of the shield in the making, lasts from I.18.478 all the way to I.18.608. Then at I.18.609 the narrative announces that the work on the shield has now been completed. Just as the beginning of the narrative about the making of the shield announces the word sakos ‘shield’ at I.18.478, so also the ending that announces the completion of the work also announces again the same word sakos ‘shield’ at I.18.609, and thus the narrative has come full circle in a spectacular display of ring-composition. This ring-composition expresses here the circularity of the shield, but that circularity is also expressed by way of the adornment that encircles the shield. This adornment is the rim of the shield, presumably imagined as blue, and its encirclement of the shield is said to represent the cosmic river Ōkeanos, I.18.607–608. Such an encirclement of the shield by a representation of the Ōkeanos corresponds to the encirclement of the cosmos by the ever-circular flow of the Ōkeanos itself. See the comment on I.18.399. So, the correspondence shows that the shield in the making is in fact the cosmos in the making. As soon as the shield, as a narration in the making, is finally complete, the shield as an object in the making can finally be seen as a made object. What then follows at I.18.610–613 is the making of other parts of the armor: breastplate, helmet, greaves. And then comes the announcement at I.18.614, as already noted, that the work is now complete. Thus the beginning and the completion of the work on the shield, signaled in the ring-composition that starts at I.18.478 and comes full circle at I.18.608, is enveloped by a wider ring-composition that starts at I.18.468 and comes full circle at I.18.614. [[GN 2016.11.20 via BA 325; also GMP 238.]]

I.18.478–609

Q&T via HC 2§164
subject heading(s): making a new shield for Achilles
As noted in the previous comment, which analyzes the wider narrative, the narrower narrative about the making of the shield begins at I.18.478 and comes full circle at I.18.608, followed by an announcement of the completion at I.18.609. For the wider narrative, see again the comment on I.18.468–613. As for the narrower narrative here, the analysis will require a different perspective. As the camera zooms in, as it were, on the world of images that are being worked into the surface of the shield by the divine metalworker Hephaistos, the artistic microcosm that we now see being pictured here represents a physical macrocosm that turns out to be the Homeric cosmos itself, defined by the world-encircling river Ōkeanos as its outer limit. The cosmic essence of this Ōkeanos, signaled at I.18.607–608, has already been analyzed in the earlier comment on I.18.468–613. Also, as noted in the still earlier comment on I.14.245–246–246a, the Homeric traditions about Ōkeanos coexisted with older traditions attributed to Orpheus, and, already in the ancient world, various interpreters developed various influential theories about the cosmos by viewing such Orphic traditions about the Ōkeanos together with the corresponding Homeric traditions. One such interpreter was Crates of Mallos, for whom the Ōkeanos was an essential part of an allegory about the cosmos: see the comment on I.14.245–246–246a. For Crates, his interpretation of the verses about the Ōkeanos at I.14.245–246–246a as a cosmic allegory was evidently coextensive with his interpretation of the verses about the shield being made for Achilles here at I.18.478–609. And there is a further extension: for Crates, the verses at I.11.032–040 about the images worked into the shield of Agamemnon were likewise a cosmic allegory: see the comment on I.11.032–040. [[GN 2016.11.20 via HC 2§§165–167; also HPC 289, 358–359.]]

I.18.479–480

subject heading(s): antux ‘rim’; triplax ‘three-fold’; marmareē ‘gleaming’
The antux ‘rim’ that is being made for the shield of Achilles, mentioned here at I.18.479 and again at I.18.608, is triplax ‘threefold’, I.18.480, and the outermost fold or circle of this antux is the Ōkeanos, I.18.608. For Crates, as noted in the comment on I.18.478–609, this design representing the Ōkeanos is part of an overall cosmic allegory. In Eustathius Commentary on the Iliad vol. 4 p. 218 lines 14–17, the commentator draws attention to the morphological parallelism of triplax ‘threefold’ with diplax ‘twofold’, the second of which words refers at I.03.126 and at I.22.441 to a pattern-woven fabric. So, Eustathius recognizes here a crossover between the artistic worlds of metalwork and weaving. On the diplax, see already the comment on I.03.125–128. The epithet for antux ‘rim’ as marmareē ‘gleaming’ at I.18.480 is relevant, since the same word is attested as an epithet for the woven fabric that is called a diplax at both I.03.126 and I.22.441 in the medieval manuscript tradition. As we see from the attested medieval texts, the epithet marmareē ‘gleaming’ varies with porphureē ‘purple’ at both I.03.126 and I.22.441. For more on the interchangeable worlds of metalworking and weaving, see I.18.590 and the relevant comment on I.18.590–606. [[GN 2016.11.20 via HC 2§165, C§16n; also HPC 358–359.]]

I.18.483–608

subject heading(s): narrating the Shield of Achilles; ecphrasis; athetesis; Zenodotus; Aristarchus; Crates
Beginning at I.18.483 and ending at I.18.603 are the verses that actually narrate the images that are worked by the divine metalworker into the surface of the Shield of Achilles. So far in the comments on Iliad 18, I have not capitalized the first letter of the word referring to the Shield, since I have been viewing this object primarily as an object in the making. But now, as I begin to view this imagined object primarily as a narrative in the making, I write Shield, not shield. And I now apply the technical term ecphrasis to this core narrative, by which I mean the narration of visual—or at least visualized—art by way of verbal art. From the start, I find it most noteworthy to report what we learn from the testimony of the scholia A for I.18.483: that Zenodotus of Ephesus (see under Zenodotus in the Inventory of terms and names) athetized this entire ecphrasis, that is, all the verses that narrated, by way of verbal art, the visual or at least visualized narrative of the Shield, I.18.483–608. (On athetesis and athetizing, see the Inventory of terms and names.) But Zenodotus retained these verses in the base text of his edition. (On base text, see the Inventory of terms and names). We know this from the fact that Aristarchus, in his edition of Homer, reported a variant textual reading that had been attested by Zenodotus in the case of one of these athetized verses, I.18.499. See the comment below on I.18.499. By contrast with Zenodotus, an editor like Crates considered the entire narrative of the Shield to be an all-important part of the Iliad writ large: see the comment on I.18.478–609. [[GN 2016.11.20 via PP 151; also HC 2§§152, 165, 168, 173, 195, 198; also HPC 352.]]

I.18.482–489

The mapping here of earth and sky on the Shield shows the centrality of the physical cosmos in the overall design of the visual narrative. [[GN 2016.11.23 via HC 2§165.]]

I.18.487–489

subject heading(s): Orion; Ēōs; Arktos
The astral configuration of Orion the Hunter and Arktos the Bear here at I.18.487–489, recurs at O.05.273–275, on which see the comments there. [[GN 2016.11.22 via BA 201–202 and GMP 253.]]

I.18.490–491

Q&T via HC 2§173
subject heading(s): a tale of two cities
The tale of two cities begins here. So, there is a transition from the realm of a natural world to what seems at first to be the realm of a social world. The narrative connects immediately with the first of the two cities. As this narrative proceeds, it would seem as if the first city were at peace, since the second city is at war: when the narrative actually turns to the second city, starting at I.18.509 we see right away a scene of warmaking. [[GN 201 via HC 2§173.]]

I.18.491–508

subject heading(s): wedding scene on the Shield of Achilles; wallpaper effect
The first scene to be featured in the city at peace is a wedding. But there is not just one wedding: rather, there is a distributive sequence of wedding scenes to be viewed one after the other, as if each viewing were a repetition of the previous viewing. From here on, I will refer to such a visual trope as a wallpaper effect. [[GN 2016.11.22.]]

I.18.492

subject heading(s): numphē ‘local goddess, bride’
This word numphē, meaning ‘local goddess’ as at I.06.420, can refer to a ‘bride’ at the ritual moment of getting married. Such an extension of meaning, where the human can be merged with the divine, is a characteristic of climactic moments in ritual. More in other comments, especially in the comment on I.19.155. [[GN 2016.11.22 via PP 84.]]

I.18.497–508

subject heading(s): litigation scene on the Shield of Achilles; neikos ‘quarrel’; poinē ‘blood-price’; wallpaper effect
The litigants in this litigation scene are anonymous, but the noun neikos ‘quarrel’ at I.18.497 and the verb neikeîn at I.18.498 are evocative of the quarrel that took place between Achilles and Agamemnon in Iliad 1. If the plaintiff and the defendant in the litigation scene are comparable to Achilles and Agamemnon, then what would be the cause of their quarrel? In terms of the micro-narrative that has been worked into the Shield, the quarrel is about the price of a human life. The quarrel is about payment of a poinē ‘blood-price’, I.18.498, for the life of a man who perished. But who would be this man who perished? In terms of the Iliad as a macro-narrative containing the micro-narrative of this litigation scene, the man who perished could be seen as Patroklos. If Agamemnon had not insulted Achilles in Iliad 1, Patroklos would not have been killed as a substitute for Achilles. So, it would seem justifiable for Achilles to blame Agamemnon for the death of Patroklos. And if Achilles were to prosecute Agamemnon, how much would Agamemnon pay as a blood-price for the life of Patroklos? In the litigation scene, the defendant who is being blamed for the death of the man who perished claims the right to pay the blood-price in full, but the plaintiff refuses to accept any compensation at all. Following the interpretation of Muellner 1976:100–106, I translate as follows the relevant wording at I.18.499–500: ‘The one made a claim [eukheto] to pay back in full, | declaring publicly to the district [dēmos], but the other was refusing to accept anything’ (ὃ μὲν εὔχετο πάντ᾽ ἀποδοῦναι | δήμῳ πιφαύσκων, ὃ δ᾽ ἀναίνετο μηδὲν ἑλέσθαι). In this context, the collocation of the political term dēmos ‘district’ (δήμῳ at I.18.500) with the juridical term eukhesthai ‘make a claim’ (εὔχετο at I.18.499) is cognate with the collocation of the same political term dāmos (da-mo) with the same juridical term eukhesthai ‘make a claim’ (e-u-ke-to = eukhetoi) in the Linear B tablet Ep 704 from Pylos (HR 75–76). In terms of the macro-narrative in the Iliad, there is for Achilles no price that could ever repay the loss of his nearest and dearest companion. But who is to determine how to achieve justice in the course of the litigation as described in the micro-narrative? As we see at I.18.501, both litigants opted for arbitration: ‘both were heading for an arbitrator [histōr], to get a limit [peirar]’ (ἄμφω δ᾽ ἱέσθην ἐπὶ ἴστορι πεῖραρ ἑλέσθαι). The context of the arbitration is narrated at I.18.502–508. Surrounding the litigants is an outer circle of lāoi ‘people’, I.18.502, who shout their approval for one side or the other, and an inner circle of elders who compete with each other in striving to reach the most equitable formula for a successful arbitration, I.18.503–508. These elders are taking turns as each one of them stands up, with scepter in hand, to pronounce their competing formulations (details in H24H 13§36; also GMP 53, 64). Their action is thus distributive, since they make their pronouncements not as a group but individually and competitively (see the scholia A for Iliad 18.506 and the comments in HPC 67). So, when the elders are described at I.18.505 as ‘holding their scepters’, it is not that they are all holding scepters at the same time: rather, each one takes turns in holding the scepter, and you hold it only when it is your turn to speak. Again I see here a wallpaper effect. [[GN 2016.11.22 via BA 109, 312; PH 250–252, 255, 258; GMP 53, 64; HC 2§174.]]

I.18.499

subject heading(s): base text; Aristarchus; Zenodotus
The anonymous dead man whose life has been lost is described at I.18.499 as apophthimenos (ἀποφθιμένου), that is, as someone who ‘perished’. This reading comes from the base text once used by Aristarchus, but there was a variant reading apoktamenos ‘killed’ (ἀποκταμένου) in the base text used by Zenodotus. For the implications of such variation between the base texts of Aristarchus and Zenodotus, see the comment on I.18.483–608. [[GN 2016.11.22.]]

I.18.509–515

subject heading(s): a city besieged
Now the narrative turns from the first city, viewed in a time of peace, to the second city, viewed in a time of war. The city at war is under siege, and the warriors who are besieging this city have not yet decided whether to destroy it completely if they win—or whether they keep the spoils of war, dividing among themselves whatever they acquire by conquest, I.18.509–512. While the besiegers encircling the city are deliberating at ground level down below, the visual narration turns around and looks upward to view the city walls of the besieged: standing up there on the walls are the women and children and old men, I.18.514–515, awaiting their fate. The whole scene evokes the siege of Troy in the macro-narrative of the Iliad. [[GN 2016.11.22.]]

I.18.515–519

subject heading(s): picturing warriors on the attack; Ares and Athena as divinities of war
The scene picturing the besieged city now shifts to a scene picturing warriors on the attack. Leading them are the divinities Ares and Athena, I.18.516, who are pictured here as pictures, so to speak, since the divine artisan Hephaistos has metalworked them in gold, I.18.517. But these two divinities are at the same time pictured also as life-size, so to speak, since they are metalworked as larger in size than the warriors whom they lead, I.18.519. The pairing of Ares and Athena as divinities of war stems from an old tradition going back to the Bronze Age. See the comments on O.14.216. [[GN 2016.11.23 via HC 4§100.]]

I.18.519

subject heading(s): arizēlo- ‘most visible’
This epithet arizēlo- ‘most visible’, applied here to the divinities Ares and Athena as worked in gold, marks a notionally everlasting vision, pictured by Homeric poetry as a perfect and permanent work of art. [[GN 2016.11.23 via HC 1§§54–55, 2§§170–171.]]

I.18.567–572

subject heading(s): singing and dancing at a festival; molpē ‘song and dance’
After an extensive description of life in the countryside, I.18.541–566, the vision centers on occasions of festive celebration marking the successful completion of work on the land. Such celebration is figured as a festival featuring ‘song and dance’, molpē, I.18.572. The singers / dancers are parthenikai ‘young unmarried women’ and ēïtheoi ‘young unmarried men’ who have just completed the harvest, I.18.567. Taking the lead in the singing / dancing is a pais ‘boy’ positioned at the center of a group of celebrating singers / dancers, I.18.569. This leader of the song and dance is figured as accompanying himself on a string instrument while he ‘sings the song of Linus’, I.18.570. The whole group sings and dances in response to the leader of song and dance, I.18.571–572. [[GN 2016.18.23 via PH 352–353.]]

I.18.587–589

Q&T via HPC 152
subject heading(s): pastoral scene; stathmos ‘station’; klisiā ‘shelter’; sēkos ‘enclosure’; metonymy; hero cult; Hellespont
In this compressed pastoral scene, we see at I.18.589 three important words referring to places where herdsmen can shelter their herds: stathmos ‘station’; klisiāshelter’; sēkos ‘enclosure’. In what follows, I epitomize from my analysis of these three words in HPC 152–153. All three of these words are applied here in the context of describing a generic pastoral setting. When we compare the etymologies of these three words with the contexts of their usage in other pastoral settings, we find that their reconstructed meanings are interrelated: stathmos, derived from the root *sta- meaning ‘stand up’, is the makeshift post of a herdsman’s shelter or tent; klisiā, derived from the root *kli- meaning ‘lie down’ or ‘lean’, is the space in the shelter where the herdsman reclines—or, alternatively, it is a ‘lean-to’ covering that affords a makeshift shelter; and sēkos, derived from the root *sak- meaning ‘fill [an empty space]’, is the enclosure where the herdsman’s herd is penned in. By way of metonymy, the klisiā is not only an aspect of the shelter but also the entire shelter; likewise, the stathmos is not only the post of the shelter but also the entire shelter and everything contiguous with the shelter, including the sēkos. In this sense, then, the stathmos is the herdsman’s ‘station’. The pastoral word sēkos refers not only to the enclosure where a herd is penned in but also to the enclosure where a cult hero is entombed and worshipped. And it can be argued that such sacral connotations are attached to the pastoral words klisiā and stathmos as well. (On metonymy, see the Inventory of terms and names.) All three words connote traditional images typical of cult heroes. In the Iliad, the word klisiā refers to the abode that a hero like Achilles frequents in life: his klisiā is his shelter, which marks the place where his ship is beached on the shores of the Hellespont during the Trojan War, as we see at I.08.224, I.11.007, and so on. See the comments on I.08.227–227 and on I.11.005–016. In later poetry we see a related use of stathmos (plural stathma) with reference to the places where the ships of Achaean heroes are beached on the shores of the Hellespont (“Euripides” Rhesus 43); these places are also called naustathma ‘ship stations’ (Rhesus 136, 244, 448, 582, 591, 602, 673). Among these stathma ‘stations’ lining the coast of the Hellespont is the heroic space occupied by Achilles. [[GN 2016.11.23 via HPC 152–153.]]

I.18.590–606

Q&T via MoM 4§5
subject heading(s): Homer’s “signature”; khoros ‘place for singing / dancing’, group of singers /dancers’; Daedalus; Hephaistos; Ariadne
|590 Ἐν δὲ χορὸν ποίκιλλε περικλυτὸς ἀμφιγυήεις, |591 τῷ ἴκελον οἷόν ποτ’ ἐνὶ Κνωσῷ εὐρείῃ |592 Δαίδαλος ἤσκησεν καλλιπλοκάμῳ Ἀριάδνῃ. |593 ἔνθα μὲν ἠΐθεοι καὶ παρθένοι ἀλφεσίβοιαι |594 ὀρχεῦντ’ ἀλλήλων ἐπὶ καρπῷ χεῖρας ἔχοντες. |595 τῶν δ’ αἳ μὲν λεπτὰς ὀθόνας ἔχον, οἳ δὲ χιτῶνας |596 εἵατ’ ἐϋννήτους, ἦκα στίλβοντας ἐλαίῳ· |597 καί ῥ’ αἳ μὲν καλὰς στεφάνας ἔχον, οἳ δὲ μαχαίρας |598 εἶχον χρυσείας ἐξ ἀργυρέων τελαμώνων. |599 οἳ δ’ ὁτὲ μὲν θρέξασκον ἐπισταμένοισι πόδεσσι |600 ῥεῖα μάλ’, ὡς ὅτε τις τροχὸν ἄρμενον ἐν παλάμῃσιν |601 ἑζόμενος κεραμεὺς πειρήσεται, αἴ κε θέῃσιν· |602 ἄλλοτε δ’ αὖ θρέξασκον ἐπὶ στίχας ἀλλήλοισι. |603 πολλὸς δ’ ἱμερόεντα χορὸν περιίσταθ’ ὅμιλος |604 τερπόμενοι· μετὰ δέ σφιν ἐμέλπετο θεῖος ἀοιδὸς |605 φορμίζων· δοιὼ δὲ κυβιστητῆρε κατ’ αὐτοὺς 
|606 μολπῆς ἐξάρχοντoς ἐδίνευον κατὰ μέσσους.
|590 The renowned one [= Hephaistos], the one with the two strong arms, pattern-wove [poikillein] into it [= the Shield of Achilles] a place for singing-and-dancing [khoros]. |591 It [= the khoros] was just like the one that, once upon a time in far-ruling Knossos, |592 Daedalus made for Ariadne, the one with the beautiful tresses [plokamoi]. |593 There were young men there, and young women who are courted with gifts of cattle, |594 and they all were dancing [orkheîsthai] with each other, holding hands at the wrist. |595 The girls were wearing delicate dresses, while the boys were clothed in tunics [khit ōn plural] |596 well woven, gleaming exquisitely, with a touch of olive oil. |597 The girls had beautiful garlands [stephanai], while the boys had knives |598 made of gold, hanging from knife-belts made of silver. |599 Half the time they moved fast in a circle, with expert steps, |600 showing the greatest ease, as when a wheel, solidly built, is given a spin by the hands |601 of a seated potter, who is testing it whether it will run well. |602 The other half of the time they moved fast in straight lines, alongside each other. |603 A huge crowd stood around the place of the song-and-dance [khoros] that rouses desire, |604 and they were feeling delight [terpesthai]; in their midst sang-and-danced [melpesthai] a divine singer [aoidos], |605 playing on the special lyre [phorminx]; two special dancers [kubistētēre] among them |606 were swirling as he led [ex-arkhein] the singing-and-dancing [molpē] in their midst.
This set of verses is potentially a reference to Homer by Homer, as if he had left behind his own “signature” for the future, marking himself not only as an artisan of words but also as a performer of song writ large. This vision of Homer as a performer predates the later vision of Homer as a reciter of epic verses. In this older vision, Homer sings to the accompaniment of a lyre, and he is not only a soloist: he can lead the singing and dancing performed by a choral group. The word for ‘choral group’ in Greek is khoros, which refers to an ensemble of performers who dance as well as sing—unlike the English borrowing chorus, which refers exclusively to an ensemble of singers. And that is why the word khoros here at I.18.603 refers to the combined singing and dancing that we now see being performed by a festive ensemble of unmarried young women and men. But the same word khoros can also refer to the setting for such singing and dancing, as we see at I.18.590. That is, khoros can refer to the actual place where the singing and dancing happens, and, at I.18.591–592, that place is compared by way of simile to a ritual setting that had been constructed once upon a time in the city of Knossos on the island of Crete. That setting, known in other traditions as the Labyrinth, had been constructed by the prototypical artisan Daedalus for the princess Ariadne, daughter of Minos the king of Knossos. Myth has it that Ariadne was the daughter of Minos, king of Knossos in Crete, who dominated the Aegean Sea as the mighty ruler of the prototypical Minoan Empire: see Nagy 2015.08.26, 2015.09.03, 2015.09.10, 2015.09.17, 2015.09.24. So, the setting that was figured by the divine artisan Hephaistos for the performance of Homer is being compared at I.18.591–592 to a setting that had been figured by the prototypical human artisan Daedalus for a choral performance that had once taken place in the Bronze Age of Minos and Ariadne. For more on Ariadne, see the comment on O.15.001–009. It is as if the choral setting figured by Daedalus the human were a prefiguration of the choral setting figured by Hephaistos the god. But such an impression is an illusion. The god is of course timeless, and his metalwork is an art that must be synchronized with the art of Homer in refiguring what Hephaistos is figuring. For the sake of enhancing the verbal art that refigures the visual art of Hephaistos, the visual art of Daedalus can be envisioned as a precedent. And this art of Daedalus is a most prestigious precedent for Homeric poetry, going back as it does all the way to the Bronze Age. Moreover, the synchronization of the god’s art with Homeric art makes it possible for the god’s art of metalworking to be versatile enough to be comparable to still other prestigious forms of art. A shining example is the Homeric use of poikillein ‘pattern-weave’ at I.18.590 in referring to the metalwork of Hephaistos in figuring the choral scene. We see here once again a crossover between the artistic worlds of metalwork and weaving. See the previous comment on I.18.479–480 and the following comment on I.18.590. Such a crossover is also evident in the myths and rituals that were central to the festival of the goddess Hērā at Argos. In terms of local Argive traditions, the pictures that were metalworked by Hephaistos into the original Shield of Achilles were the same as the pictures that were pattern-woven into the patos or ‘robe’ (Hesychius, under πάτος) that was presented to the goddess in the context of choral singing and dancing performed by celebrants at her festival (Callimachus Aetia F 66; scholia for Pindar Olympian 7.152; Euripides Electra 432–477). [[GN 2016.11.23 via PH 352, HC 2§74; HPC 290, 299–300, 367–368; MoM 4§§5, 14, 156–157, 159.]]

I.18.590

subject heading(s): poikillein ‘pattern-weave’; Shield of Achilles; Shield of Aeneas; metonymy
At I.18.479–480, we saw a crossover between the artistic worlds of metalworking and weaving. The metalwork of Hephaistos in manufacturing the Shield of Achilles was metaphorized as the pattern-weaving of fabric. There is a comparable crossover here at I.18.590, where the word poikillein ‘pattern-weave’ refers to the metalwork performed by the god Hephaistos in making the Shield of Achilles. Here I epitomize my relevant analysis in HC C§15, where I focus on a comparable crossover in the case of Virgil’s Shield of Aeneas in Aeneid 8. I start by focusing on arma ‘armor, arms’, which is the first word at Aeneid 8.616. To be compared is the beginning of the epic, at Aeneid 1.1: arma virumque cano ‘armor I sing, and the man’. When we read Aeneid 8.616, where the narrative refers to the arma ‘armor’ of Aeneas, the description of this hero’s Shield as a shield has not yet happened. So far, only the armor in general is being described. But there is more to it: the word arma ‘armor’ at Aeneid 8.616, by way of cross-referring to the initial use of arma at Aeneid 1.1, stands metonymically for the whole epic, not only for the ‘armor’ of Aeneas. The arma ‘armor’ at the beginning of Aeneid 1.1 can apply at Aeneid 8.616 if we understand the deployment of arma at Aeneid 1.1 as a masterstroke of metonymy. What is being signaled by the arma at Aeneid 8.616 is a description of the Shield that becomes coextensive with the overall narration of the epic that is the Aeneid in its entirety. But when the actual description of the Shield begins at Aeneid 8.625, the wording makes it clear that this description defies any immediate narration: clipei non enarrabile textum ‘the shield, the weaving [textus] of which is beyond all power to narrate’. To describe the cosmic power of the Shield’s meaning will require an overall epic narration, from beginning to end, which cannot be successful until the story is fully told. Such a narration calls for a metaphor to substitute for the narration: instead of a tale that is being told, the narration is reconfigured as a ‘web’ that is being woven, a textus. The story has to be told from beginning to end, just as a web has to be woven from beginning to end. [[GN 2016.10.20 via HC C§16, HPC 291, MoM 4§6.]]

I.18.603–604–(605–)606

subject heading(s): ex-arkhein ‘lead off [in performing]’; molpē ‘singing and dancing’
In the Homeric textual tradition, there are traces of a longer version of the narrative here, containing verses 603–604–605–606, to be contrasted with a shorter version containing 603–604–606. The shorter version, which was favored by the editor Aristarchus, elided the “signature” of Homer as analyzed in the comment on I.18.590–606. By contrast, the longer version highlights this “signature.” The shorter version is what was ultimately preserved in the medieval manuscripts of Homer, while the longer version was lost. But this longer version can be reconstructed by way of attestations that we find in a source that dates back to the late second century CE, Athenaeus 5.180c–e and 181a–f. The reconstructed longer version is as follows: ‘|603 A huge crowd stood around the place of the song-and-dance [khoros] that rouses desire, |604 and they were feeling delight [terpesthai]; in their midst sang-and-danced [melpesthai] a divine singer [aoidos], |605 playing on the special lyre [phorminx]; two special dancers [kubistētēre] among them |606 were swirling as he led [ex-arkhein] the singing-and-dancing [molpē] in their midst’ (|603 πολλὸς δ’ ἱμερόεντα χορὸν περιίσταθ’ ὅμιλος |604 τερπόμενοι· μετὰ δέ σφιν ἐμέλπετο θεῖος ἀοιδὸς 
|605 φορμίζων· δοιὼ δὲ κυβιστητῆρε κατ’ αὐτοὺς 
|606 μολπῆς ἐξάρχοντoς ἐδίνευον κατὰ μέσσους). By contrast, the attested shorter version is as follows: ‘|603 A huge crowd stood around the place of the song-and-dance [khoros] that rouses desire, |604 and they were feeling delight [terpesthai]; in their midst sang-and-danced [melpesthai] a divine singer [aoidos], |605 playing on the special lyre [phorminx]; two special dancers [kubistētēre] among them |606 were swirling as they led [ex-arkhein] the singing-and-dancing [molpē] in their midst’ (|603 πολλὸς δ’ ἱμερόεντα χορὸν περιίσταθ’ ὅμιλος |604 τερπόμενοι· μετὰ δέ σφιν ἐμέλπετο θεῖος ἀοιδὸς 
|605 φορμίζων· δοιὼ δὲ κυβιστητῆρε κατ’ αὐτοὺς 
|606 μολπῆς ἐξάρχοντες ἐδίνευον κατὰ μέσσους). The deletions here are in line with the Greek text as I quote it, where we see an omission of the wording μετὰ δέ σφιν ἐμέλπετο θεῖος ἀοιδὸς 
|605 φορμίζων. And my translation here follows the Greek text as I quote it, where we read ἐξάρχοντες and not ἐξάρχοντος. In the longer version, melpesthai ‘sing-and-dance’ at I.18.604 and molpē ‘song-and-dance’ at I.18.606 refer to the combined activities of singing and dancing by the khoros, and ex-arkhein ‘lead off [in performing]’ at I.18.606 signals an individuated act of performance that interacts with the collective performance of a khoros. In the shorter version, by contrast, the very presence of such an individuated act in a choral context is elided. In later comments, there will be further analysis of I.18.603–604–(605–)606 by way of comparing O.04.017–018, O.08.370–379, O.13.024–028. Already now, in any case, this much can be said: a formulaic analysis of both the longer and the shorter versions of I.18.603–604–(605–)606 indicates that both versions are compatible with Homeric diction, suiting different phases in the evolution of this diction as a formulaic system. In an earlier phase of such an evolution, Homer could be appreciated as a lead singer interacting with choral performance; in a later phase, by contrast, he would be recognized only as a soloist who recites epic verses. [[GN 2016.11.23 via MoM 4§§9–19, 21, 22, 30, 33, 34, 37, 38, 112, 115, 123, 124; also HC 2§74, HPC 93n29, 300nn87–88.]]
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Iliad Rhapsody 19

2016.12.01

The time has come for Achilles to re-enter the war against the Trojans. For this to happen, Agamemnon must first settle with Achilles. But the over-king feels the need to say more than simply to formulate his proposed terms of settlement. His aim is to excuse himself from responsibility for dishonoring Achilles, and the story that he tells in order to achieve this aim is a retelling of a cosmic atē ‘aberration’ that resulted in the Labors of Hēraklēs. Such a retelling, however, is destined to backfire: it will result in further damage to his own royal status and in further advancement for the heroic prestige of Achilles, for whom Hēraklēs now becomes a perfect model.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig19
Figure 19. Herakles at the tree of the Hesperides, holding three of the golden apples in his left hand. Behind him is the apple tree with the guardian serpent clinging around it. Bronze, 104.5cm (Roman, 1st century C.E.). Image via The British Museum.

I.19.001–002

subject heading(s): Ēōs; Ōkeanos
The goddess of dawn, Ēōs, is pictured here as emerging from the streams of the cosmic river Ōkeanos at sunrise. The dawn emerges just as the sun itself is pictured as emerging from the Ōkeanos at every sunrise after having submerged into it at every sunset. See the comments on I.07.421–423 and I.08.485–486. [[GN 2016.11.28 via GMP 252.]]

I.19.003–017

subject heading(s): armor of Achilles; Shield of Achilles; selas ‘flash of light’; Will of Zeus; look of Zeus; look of Achilles
The goddess Thetis proceeds to bring for Achilles the armor that was made for him by the god Hephaistos, I.19.003, and she finds the hero embracing the body of Patroklos and weeping over it, mourning together with all his fellow warriors, the Myrmidons, I.19.004–006; she now makes a formal presentation of the armor to Achilles, I.19.007–013. At the sight of this armor, all the Myrmidons recoil: no one can bear to look at the divine work of art, I.19.014–015—no one, that is, except for Achilles, who now looks directly at the Shield, I.19.015–017, and whose eyes, as he is looking, now give off a terrifying selas ‘flash of light’, I.19.017. The first time we saw this word selas in the Iliad was at I.08.076, where it referred to the lightning that comes from Zeus as he thunders from on high on the top of Mount Ida—and this flash of light brings holy terror for the Achaeans, I.08.076–077. See the comment on I.08.066–077. There is a comparable reference at I.17.739 to the selas ‘flash of light’ in a thunderstorm. See the comment on I.17.736–741. Other evocative occurrences of selas ‘flash of light’ include the references at I.08.509 and at I.08.563 to the threatening fires of the Trojans. And we see yet again this powerful word in the context of I.15.599–600: it is said there that Zeus has been waiting to see with his own divine eyes the selas ‘flash of light’, I.15.600, that will appear when the first of the beached Achaean ships is set on fire. Once this divine vision is visualized, the Will of Zeus will have been fulfilled. Thus this word selas ‘flash of light’ signals the driving force of the whole epic, which is the Will of Zeus. See the comment on I.15.592–602. Another powerful moment where the Will of Zeus manifests itself as a selas ‘flash of light’ happens at I.18.214, where this word refers to the fire that bursts from the head of the enraged Achilles. See the comment on I.18.214. With regard to I.15.599–600, I also note a coextensiveness between the selas ‘flash of light’ at I.15.600 and the terrifying look of Zeus. I deliberately use the word look here because, unlike other English words for the act of seeing, the verb look and the noun look or looks can refer to a stream of vision not only as it comes into the eye but also as it goes out of it. Zeus can look at the terrifying flash of light when the beached ship of Protesilaos is set on fire, but that look of his can translate into the terrifying flash of light that comes out of his own eye in the act of his casting his thunderbolt. Zeus hurls his thunderbolt by casting his eye on the target: see the comment on I.13.242–244. I see a comparable pattern of coextensiveness here at I.19.015–017: the selas ‘flash of light’ at I.19.017 that comes from the terrifying look of Achilles as he looks at the Shield will translate into a flash of light that comes from the Shield itself: only Achilles dares to look at it, while the other Myrmidons shrink back in terror, avoiding the gaze. [[GN 2016.11.26.]]

I.19.015–017

subject heading(s): Shield of Achilles; blinding of Homer
This detail about Achilles as the only hero who can look at the selas ‘flash of light’ streaming from his Shield, I.19.017, is relevant to a myth about the blinding of Homer. I epitomize here from my analysis in Nagy 2016.02.18§§11–12 (via HPC 256–257n13). In the Life of Homer traditions, Vita 6 (see the Inventory of terms and names), there is a myth that explains the blinding of Homer as the result of a mistake he made. He conjured the poetic vision of Achilles wearing the new set of bronze armor that the divine smith Hephaistos had made for him. Here is my translation of the text (Vita 6.46–50): ‘Visiting the tomb of Achilles, he [= Homer] prayed if he could only see the hero just the way the hero was like at the moment of entering the field of battle while wearing his second set of armor. The hero then appeared to him, and, as soon as Homer looked at the hero, he was blinded by the gleam [augē] of the armor’ (ἐλθόντα γὰρ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἀχιλλέως τάφον εὔξασθαι θεάσασθαι τὸν ἥρωα τοιοῦτον ὁποῖος προῆλθεν ἐπὶ τὴν μάχην τοῖς δευτέροις ὅπλοις κεκοσμημένος· ὀφθέντος δ’ αὐτῷ τοῦ Ἀχιλλέως τυφλωθῆναι τὸν Ὅμηρον ὑπὸ τῆς τῶν ὅπλων αὐγῆς). This heroic moment, when Achilles finally returns to the field of battle, is what we have just read at I.19.014–017, where it is said that the gleam emanating from the new bronze armor of Achilles was so blindingly bright that none of his fellow warriors could even look directly at it. It is this gleam that blinds Homer himself, who is imagined as the only poet in the whole world who could conjure such a blinding vision in his own poetry. [[GN 2016.11.26.]]

I.19.031

subject heading(s): arēïphatoi ‘killed in war, killed by Ares’
This epithet, applied generically to warriors killed in war, is relevant to their relationship with Ares as god of war. [[GN 2016.11.26 via BA 294.]]

I.19.044

subject heading(s): tamiai ‘dividers of meat’; dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’
This reference made by Achilles to workers whose work it is to divide meat at feasts is relevant to the special links of this hero to the concept of dais ‘feast’ in its basic sense of ‘division (of meat)’. [[GN 2016.11.24 via BA 129.]]

I.19.047

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; theraponte (dual) of Ares
In contexts where the dual theraponte in combination with Arēos ‘of Ares’ is applied to the Achaeans=Danaans=Argives (here, to the pair of Diomedes and Odysseus) as a grouping of warriors, the deeper meaning is more evident than in other contexts. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.02.110 via BA 293–295; GMP 48; H24H 6§32.]]

I.19.056–073

subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’
In this speech of Achilles, he himself refers to his mēnis ‘anger’ by way of the verb apomēniein at I.19.062 (ἀπομηνίσαντος). This anger has been the main theme of the Iliad ever since I.01.001, and Achilles now expresses regret over the many deaths that resulted for his Achaean companions. The speech of the hero here contains also other words that are relevant to mēnis: of special interest are meneainein ‘get angry’ at I.19.058 (μενεήναμεν) and mimnēskein ‘mentally connect, remind’ at I.19.064 (μνήσεσθαι). Both of these words convey a sense of mental reciprocity in the feelings of anger as experienced by both heroes. See the comments on I.01.207 and I.01.247. See also BA 73 and 312. In the present speech, Achilles goes so far as to regret that he and Agamemnon quarreled over Briseis. If only she had died, he says at I.19.059–060, on the day when he captured her after he conquered the city of Lyrnessos. But Achilles stops short of saying that he regrets having conquered Lyrnessos. [[GN 2016.11.26.]]

I.19.058–060

subject heading(s): Briseis the Aeolian; conquest of Lyrnessos by Achilles the Aeolian
In referring to Briseis here, the words of Achilles briefly retell the story about his conquest of Lyrnessos and his capture of Briseis. I refer here again to my three anchor comments about Aeolian women in the Iliad. See also anchor comment at I.02.689–694 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 1; anchor comment at I.09.128–131 and at I.09.270–272 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 2; and anchor comment at I.11.624–627 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 3. [[GN 2016.11.27 via BA 140.]]

I.19.074-075

Q&T via BA 92
subject heading(s): unsaying the mēnis ‘anger’; root khar-, in the sense of ‘rejoicing’ in response to the unsaying
The mēnis ‘anger’ of Achilles has now finally been ‘un-said’ by the hero, as expressed by the verb apo-eipeîn, I.19.075. The response of the Achaeans as an aggregate is a collective feeling of joy, as expressed by the root khar- of the verb khairein in the sense of ‘rejoice’. By contrast, while the mēnis ‘anger’ was still ongoing, the Achaeans had collectively felt grief, as expressed by the root akh- of the verb akhnusthai ‘feel grief’ and of the noun akhos ‘grief’. See especially the comments on I.01.188 and on I.01.509. Such a semantic contrast between collective joy and collective grief is re-enacted in names like Khari -lā(u̯)os and *Akhi-lāu̯os. The second of these two names is my reconstruction of an older form of the name Akhil(l)leús: see the comment on I.01.002. (BA 77, 79; also 65). [[GN 2016.11.27 via BA 92.]]

I.19.076–138

Q&T via H24H 1§36
subject heading(s): the apology of Agamemnon; aitios ‘responsible’; atē ‘aberration’; Hēraklēs
In seeking to settle his quarrel with Achilles, Agamemnon claims that he was not aitios ‘responsible’, I.19.086. Rather it was atē ‘aberration’ or ‘derangement’ that that made him ‘act deranged’, aâsthai, I.19.091. This word aâsthai, which can be translated more literally as ‘veer off-course’, functions here as the verb for the noun atē, which can be translated correspondingly as ‘veering off-course’. In what follows, I can even translate the noun atē simply as ‘mistake’ and the verb aâsthai as ‘making a mistake’. In the verses that are being covered in this general comment, here are the occurrences of aâsthai in the sense of ‘make a mistake’ and functioning as the verb that matches the noun atē: I.19.091, I.19.095, I.19.113, I.19.129, I.19.136, I.19.137. In juridical terms, atē can refer either to a mistake that you made or to the damages that you have to pay to remedy that mistake. The mistake is the cause of the damages, and the damages are the effect of the mistake. And, since atē can refer either to the cause or to the effect of the mistake, it can be personified as a malevolent goddess Atē who presides over the whole process of cause-and-effect. That is why Agamemnon can say that I am not aitios ‘responsible’, but Zeus and his entire divine apparatus are responsible, since they inflicted on me the goddess Atē. In effect, the goddess Atē made me do it. In the verses that are being covered in this general comment, here are the occurrences of atē/Atē: Ι.19.088, Ι.19.091, Ι.19.126, Ι.19.129, I.19.136. Agamemnon has more to say about the personified Atē: this goddess had once upon a time caused even Zeus himself to make a big mistake. That mistake resulted in the epic traditions about Hēraklēs, to be analyzed in the comment on I.19.95–133. But, happily for the gods, Atē no longer lives in Olympus: she was thrown out of there by Zeus for having caused him to make a mistake, and she landed on Earth, where she could now cause trouble only for us humans. We are the ones who make mistakes, while the Olympians no longer make mistakes—now that Atē cannot go back to Olympus. I see at work here a theological fact of life: in the age of myth, gods used to make mistakes, but not today in the age of ritual. [[GN 2016.11.27.]]

I.19.076–082

subject heading(s): public speaking while seated
The following is epitomized from H24H 1§36. Agamemnon, who is the high king among all the kings of the Achaean warriors participating in the war at Troy, is speaking here in a public assembly of the Achaeans. Strangely, he speaks to his fellow warriors while remaining in a seated position, I.19.077, saying that it is a good thing to listen to a man who speaks in a standing position and that it is hard for even a good speaker to hupoballein (ὑββάλλειν) him, I.19.080. So, what does this mean? Achilles had just spoken to the assembly at verses I.19.056–073, and it is made explicit at I.19.055 that he was standing. In the Greek-English dictionary of Liddell, Scott, and Jones (LSJ), hupoballein is interpreted as ‘interrupt’ in the context of I.19.080 here. A related context is the adverb hupoblēdēn (ὑποβλήδην) at I.01. 292, where Achilles is responding to Agamemnon in the course of their famous quarrel. Some translate that adverb as ‘interruptingly’ (details in PR 20). Instead, I interpret hupoballein and hupoblēdēn as ‘speak in relay [after someone]’ and ‘speaking in relay’ respectively, and I argue that the concept of relay speaking is a characteristic of competitive speech-making (PR 21–22). As Richard Martin has shown, the Iliad can dramatize Agamemnon and Achilles in the act of competing with each other as speakers, not only as warriors and leaders, and Achilles is consistently portrayed as the better speaker by far (Martin 1989:117; also 63, 69–70, 98, 113, 117, 119, 133, 202, 219, 223, 228). At I.01.292, where I interpret hupoblēdēn as ‘speaking in relay’, Achilles engages in verbal combat with Agamemnon not so much by way of ‘interrupting’ but by picking up the train of thought exactly where his opponent left off—and out-performing him in the process. So, here at I.19.080, Agamemnon backs off from verbal combat with Achilles, using as an excuse the fact that he is wounded: I can’t stand up, and therefore I can’t compete by picking up the train of thought where Achilles left off—and therefore I can’t out-perform him (and perhaps I don’t anymore have the stomach even to try to do so). The successful performer remains standing, and the unsuccessful performer fails to stand up and compete by taking his turn, choosing instead to sit it out. He will still speak to Achilles, but he will speak without offering any more competition (PR 22). [[GN 2016.11.29 via H24H 1§36.]]

I.19.078

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; therapontes (plural) of Ares
Agamemnon addresses his fellow warriors here as therapontes (plural) of Ares. In contexts where the plural therapontes in combination with Arēos ‘of Ares’ is applied to the Achaeans=Danaans=Argives as a grouping of warriors, the deeper meaning is more evident than in other contexts. [[GN 2016.08.04 via the comment on I.02.110 via BA 293–295; GMP 48; H24H 6§32.]]

I.19.083

subject heading(s): Agamemnon declares that he is making an offer
Instead of competing with Achilles as a public speaker, Agamemnon says that all he wants to do now is to make Achilles an offer. [[GN 2016.11.29 via H24H 1§36.]]

I.19.084–085

subject heading(s): mūthos ‘wording spoken for the record’
Agamemnon says that he will say a mūthos, and the word occurs twice here: I.19.084, I.19.085. As Richard Martin (1989) has shown, this word as used in Homeric poetry means ‘wording that is spoken for the record’. Thus mūthos “is a speech-act indicating authority, performed at length, usually in public, with a focus on full attention to every detail” (Martin 1989:12). Another example of mūthos occurs at I.19.107, where it is Zeus who says something for the record, ‘wording spoken for the record’. In Homeric terms, any wording that is called a mūthos by the Master Narrator himself in the act of actually quoting the words of the wording will have the prestige of reality—to the extent that the listeners were actually expected to accept the idea that such wording had once upon a time been really spoken exactly as quoted. In short, any mūthos that is quoted in Homeric poetry must be real because it is suppsedly spoken for the record by Homer himself. The modern word myth, derived from post-Homeric uses of the word mūthos, has obviously veered from the Homeric meaning (HQ 119-125, 127-133, 152). [[GN 2016.11.29 via H24H 1§36.]]

I.19.085–086

subject heading(s): myth as rhetoric
According to Agamemnon, the myth about Hēraklēs has been used against him by the Achaeans. But he will now try to use the same myth to excuse himself. [[GN 2016.11.29 via H24H 1§36.]]

I.19.086–088

subject heading(s): holding Zeus responsible; aitios ‘responsible’
Agamemnon in claiming that it was not he but rather Zeus together with his divine apparatus that can be held aitios ‘responsible’ for the mistake that resulted in what is narrated in the Iliad. Zeus is well aware of such claims, as we will see when we read the comment on O.01.32–34. [[GN 2016.11.29 via PH 242; also 238]]

I.19.088

subject heading(s): atē ‘aberration’
The word atē, which I have been translating as ‘aberration’ or ‘derangement’ or even ‘mistake’ in the general comment on I.19.076–138, is both a passive experience, as described here by Agamemnon, and an active force that is personified as the goddess Atē, as we see later, starting at verse 91. See again the general comment on I.19.076–138. [[GN 2016.11.29 via H24H 1§36.]]

I.19.091

subject heading(s): Dios thugatēr ‘daughter of Zeus’
The application of the epithet Dios thugatēr ‘daughter of Zeus’ to the personified Atē as goddess confers on her an Olympian status here, despite her impending demotion from Olympus. [[GN 2016.11.29 via GMP 250.]]

I.19.095–133

subject heading(s): the epic narrative about Hēraklēs; atē ‘aberration’; Hērā; kleos ‘glory’ (of poetry); antagonism between immortal and mortal
The epic narrative about Hēraklēs as retold here by Agamemnon, would never have happened if Zeus had not made a mistake, as indicated by the verb aâsthai ‘make a mistake’ at I.19.095, also at I.19.113. This verb, as I noted in the comment on the overall passage, I.19.076–138, corresponds to the noun atē, which I originally translated there as ‘aberration’. To say it more formally, then: the epic narrative about Hēraklēs resulted from an aberration on the part of Zeus, who was deceived by his divine wife Hērā. Call it what you will, Zeus made a big mistake. He inadvertently allowed it to happen that Hērā, who is normally the goddess in charge of perfect timing in the cosmos, threw off the timing for the birth of Hēraklēs, so that the hero’s cousin Eurystheus was born earlier and thus became king instead of Hēraklēs. Even though Hēraklēs was by far superior as a hero, he was now by birth forever socially inferior to Eurystheus, and throughout his life he was obliged to undertake seemingly impossible tasks that were imposed on him by his malevolent cousin. But Hēraklēs prevailed in performing these tasks, which became the famed Labors of Hēraklēs, as indicated by the programmatic word aethloi ‘labors’ at I.19.133, and these Labors conferred on Hēraklēs a poetic kleos ‘glory’ that became the epic tradition of Hēraklēs. It is these same epic traditions that Agamemnon is now retelling. This retelling, it must be added, is subversive. In the very act of retelling the epic narrative about Hēraklēs, Agamemnon is inadvertently undermining his own status: just as Eurystheus was socially superior but heroically inferior to Hēraklēs, so also Agamemnon is socially superior but heroically inferior to Achilles. One big question still remains about this whole epic narrative: why is the name of Hēraklēs connected to the name of Hērā, who was the direct cause of the the social inferiority experienced by the hero? Why does the “speaking name” (nomen loquens) of Hēraklēs have the meaning ‘he who has the glory [kleos] of Hērā’? The answer is evident: if it had not been for the intervention of Hērā, Hēraklēs would never have had to perform his Labors, and, if it had not been for these Labors, he would never have won the kleos or poetic ‘glory’ that was his to keep forever. We see here the positive side of myths about antagonism between immortal and mortal, divinity and hero. [[GN 2016.11.19 via H24H 1§§35–39; also GMP 12.]]

I.19.098

subject heading(s): biē ‘force, violence, strength’; kleos ‘glory’; bíē Hēraklēeíē ‘force of Hēraklēs’
See the comment on I.02.658. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 318.]]

I.19.105

subject heading(s): divine deceit
The wording of Zeus hides the fact that Hēraklēs was fathered directly by him. [[GN 2016.11.29 via H24H 1§36.]]

I.19.111

subject heading(s): divine deceit
The wording of Hērā hides the fact that she is speaking about the mother-to-be of Eurystheus, and that this woman is the wife of the hero Sthenelos, who is the son of the hero Perseus, who in turn was fathered directly by Zeus. Later, at I.19.116 and at I.19.123, the identity of this woman is revealed. For now, however, Zeus is being deceived into thinking that Hērā is speaking about the mother-to-be of Hēraklēs. [[GN 2016.11.29 via H24H 1§36.]]

I.19.134–138

subject heading(s): atē ‘aberration’; Agamemnon’s offer of compensation; apoina ‘compensation’
Having finished at I.19.134 with the retelling of the epic narrative about Hēraklēs, Agamemnon now comes back to his admission that it was atē for him to dishonor Achilles, I.19.136. This word, as we have seen, can be translated as ‘aberration’ or ‘derangement’ or even simply ‘mistake’. In the present context, the noun atē is paired twice with the verb aâsthai, at both I.19.136 and I.19.137, and I translate this verb here simply as ‘make a mistake’. Agamemnon then declares his readiness to pay apoina ‘compensation’, I.19.138. This gesture brings us back to I.09.115, where Agamemnon had already admitted his atai ‘aberrations’ in dishonoring Achilles, adding at I.09.120 that he was ready to pay apoina ‘compensation’ for these aberrations. See the comment on I.09.115–120. [[GN 2016.11.29 via PH 242; also 254.]]

I.19.143

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; therapontes (plural) of Ares
Agamemnon here refers to his unnamed attendants as therapontes. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.19.155

subject heading(s): theoeikelos ‘looking like a god’
This epithet theoeikelos ‘looking like a god’ occurs only two times in the Iliad. Besides the occurrence here, I.19.155, we see it also at I.01.131. In both cases, the referent is Achilles. In Song 44 of Sappho, “The Wedding of Hector and Andromache,” the same epithet theoeikeloi ‘looking like gods’ occurs in the plural at line 34 (θεοεικέλο[ις]), applying to Hector and Andromache together. The act of comparing humans to divinities is a conventional trope in the ritual context of weddings, and so the application of the epithet theoeikeloi ‘looking like gods’ to Hector and Andromache on the happy occasion of their wedding is perfectly understandable. Most commonly, the bride is equated with Aphrodite and the bridegroom, with Ares. See the comment on I.18.492 (also H24H 4§§14–21). But there may be an irony in the application of the same epithet theoeikelos ‘looking like a god’ to Achilles in the Iliad, since this hero tragically dies before he can ever get married (H24H 5§§98–102, 110–114). Conversely, there may also be an irony in the application of theoeikeloi ‘looking like gods’ to Hector and Andromache in Song 44 of Sappho, since the lives of this couple, once happy, will now tragically be ruined by Achilles in his role as the bridegroom that never was: he will kill Hector and make Andromache a widow. This is not to say that the use of the epithet theoeikeloi ‘looking like gods’ in Sappho Song 44.34 evokes the Iliad as we have it. The evocation may center on a local epic tradition that was current in the Aeolic song culture of Lesbos. The doomed triad of bride and bridegroom and killer of bridegroom was surely involved in such a local tradition as well. Another sign of such a free-standing Iliadic tradition originating from a distinctively Aeolian song culture is the occurrence of the expression kleos aphthiton ‘imperishable glory [kleos]’ in the same song, Sappho 44.5. This expression corresponds exactly to the expression we find in the Iliad, kleos aphthiton ‘imperishable glory [kleos]’, as spoken by Achilles himself about his own poetic glory at I.09.413. The two matching expressions, in Song 44 of Sappho and in Iliad 9, are cognate with each other both in wording and in metrical positioning. See the comment on I.09.413. So, the doomed triad of bride and bridegroom and killer of bridegroom are not only part of comparable stories about the different kinds of doom that await each one of the three: they are also part of two comparable media, both of which are meant to make eternal the poetic ‘glory’ or kleos of all three. One of these two media has just barely survived, in Song 44 of Sappho. The other of the two, by contrast, became the definitive form of epic, as represented by the Homeric Iliad. [[GN 2016.11.30 via HPC 239; H24H 4§§15–21, 5§§36–48.]]

I.19.179–180

Q&T via BA 129
subject heading(s): dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’; dikē ‘judgment, justice’
The wording of Odysseus here refers to the special relationship of Achilles to the dais ‘feast’, I.19.179, as a ‘division’ of meat that needs to be equitable. See the comment on I.01.468 with regard to expressions like δαιτὸς ἐίσης ‘equitable dais’, referring to an ‘equitable’ (adjective isos/isē) division of meat on the occasion of a feast; see also the comments on I.04.048, I.07.319–322, I.08.228–235, I.09.225-228, I.19.044. In the present context, this kind of equitability is drawn into a parallel with the noun dikē in the sense of a ‘judgment’, I.19.180. Such ‘judgment’ likewise needs to be equitable. And for a ‘judgment’ to become so equitable, it can become idealized as absolute ‘justice’. [[GN 2016.11.30 via BA 129, 134.]]

I.19.186

subject heading(s): moira ‘portion; fate, destiny’
The use of this word moira in the sense of ‘portion; fate, destiny’ is relevant to the need felt by Achilles to get his equitable share. See the comment on I.03.059. [[GN 2016.11.30 via BA 129.]]

I.19.199–214

This speech is relevant to the need felt by Achilles to get his equitable share. [[GN 2016.11.30 via BA 129.]]

I.19.216–237

This speech is relevant to the need felt by Achilles to get his equitable share. [[GN 2016.11.30 via BA 129.]]

I.19.216

subject heading(s): ‘best of the Achaeans’; phertatos ‘best’
The addressing of Achilles here as phertatos ‘best’ of the Achaeans is most distinctive. See the comment on I.16.021. [[GN 2016.11.30 via BA 27.]]

I.19.224

subject heading(s): tamiēs ‘divider [of portions]’
The application of this noun to Zeus as the ultimate ‘divider’ of the portions of war is relevant to the need felt by Achilles to get his equitable share. [[GN 2016.11.30 via BA 129, 134–135.]]

I.19.245–246

Q&T via HPC 242
subject heading(s): conquest of Lesbos by Achilles the Aeolian; seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; conquest of Lyrnessos by Achilles the Aeolian; capture of Briseis by Achilles the Aeolian
The seven Aeolian women that Achilles had captured when he conquered the island of Lesbos—all of whom had originally been allotted to Agamemnon—are now re-allotted to Achilles, along with Briseis as an additional eighth woman. On the seven captive women from Lesbos, see the anchor comment at I.09.128–131 / 270–272. Once again, we see the dominantly Ionic traditions of Homeric poetry showing signs of influence from a dominantly Aeolic tradition as attested in the songs of Sappho and Alcaeus. Of special interest, with regard to such a tradition, is the emphasis here at I.19.245–246 on the expertise of the seven captive women of Lesbos in working on elaborate fabrics. The sub-text of such work, here and elsewhere, is the craft of pattern-weaving. See the comment on I.09.130. [[GN 2016.11.30 via HPC 242, 302.]]

I.19.268–281

subject heading(s): conquest of Lesbos by Achilles the Aeolian; seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; conquest of Lyrnessos by Achilles the Aeolian; capture of Briseis by Achilles the Aeolian
The property that Agamemnon promised to give as compensation to Achilles is now being delivered for possession. This property to be possessed by Achilles includes not only material objects but also women who are awarded as objectified war-prizes. Achilles the Aeolian will now be awarded possession of the seven captive women whom he had originally captured from Aeolian Lesbos. More than that, he will now get to repossess the captive woman Briseis, whom he had originally captured from Lyrnessos and who had originally been awarded to him by the Achaeans—before Agamemnon had forcibly taken Briseis away from him at the beginning of the Iliad, thus causing the monumental dishonor that had given shape to the entire narrative arc of the epic, up to this point. [[GN 2016.11.30.]]

I.19.268–275

subject heading(s): holding Zeus responsible; atē ‘aberration’
In this brief speech by Achilles, he seems to be holding Zeus responsible for causing the atai ‘aberrations’ that have led to this point in the epic. See the comment on I.19.086–088. The context here at I.19.268–275 shows that Achilles has in mind not only the atai ‘aberrations’ of Agamemnon but also his own. On the atē ‘aberration’ of Achilles himself, see the comment on I.09.502–512. See also the comment on I.09.115–120: there too we see atai ‘aberrations’ in the plural. [[GN 2016.12.01 via PH 242, 254.]]

I.19.275

subject heading(s): feasting and fighting
Achilles concedes here that the Achaeans must feast on meat before they can fight again. But Achilles refuses to join them, I.19.304–308. He craves instead to enter the bloody stoma ‘mouth’ of war itself, I.19.312–313. [[GN 2016.12.01 via BA 129, 136.]]

I.19.282–302

anchor comment on lament by Briseis
Q&T via HP 243–245
subject heading(s): lament; group performance of lament; Sappho as choral personality; antiphonal refrain; epi-stenakhesthai ‘wail in response
The wording of Briseis in addressing the corpse of Patroklos is not just a speech expressing her sorrows: morphologically, it is a song of lament. In what follows, I make ten points about this lament:
Point 1. On the morphology of lament, see already the comment on the wording of Andromache at I.06.407–439. It is worth repeating here a caution as expressed in that comment: the laments of characters quoted by epic do not represent the actual meter of lamentation as sung in real laments. The genre of epic regularly uses its own meter, which is the dactylic hexameter, in representing other genres that it quotes, including unmetrical genres (see again Martin 1989:12–42; also pp. 87–88, specifically on lament). But the morphology of laments quoted by epic still follows the rules of lament.
Point 2. In the case of the lament performed by Briseis here at I.19.282–302, the song is a performance by a group of captive women, led in this case by Briseis herself. Such a performance involves not only singing but also dancing, to be visualized as a stylized form of swaying accompanied by gestures such as beating the chest. See the comment on I.18.051–060, where we see Thetis and her Nereid sisters performing a song of lament for Achilles as if he were dead already. To be noted is the reference there at I.18.050–051 to the gesture of beating the chest. Such a group performance by Thetis and the other Nereids is choral, in the sense that the Greek word khoros can be defined as ‘a group of singers/dancers’: see the comment at I.18.590–606. And the same description applies to the group performance by Briseis and the captive women here at I.19.282–302: once again, the performance is choral.
Point 3. The occasion for a choral performance can be sad, as in the case of the laments led by Thetis and Briseis, or it can be happy: see the comment on I.18.590–606, where we see a description of a merry celebration at the time of a harvest.
Point 4. Viewed in such a larger context, the lament of Briseis can be seen as a masterpiece of verbal artistry. This song of lament starts as if it were a wedding song, not a lament, since Briseis is envisioned at I.19.282 as an eroticized bride who matches the goddess Aphrodite herself in beauty and gracefulness. On the convention of comparing the bride to a goddess, especially to Aphrodite, see the comments on I.18.492 and I.19.155. But as soon as Briseis sees the corpse of Patroklos, all cut up by the sharp bronze, I.19.283, happy thoughts about weddings now turn to sad thoughts about funerals. She instantly starts weeping bitterly and singing her song of lament.
Point 5. The vision of Patroklos all cut up by the sharp bronze leads to another vision. In the back of her mind is another vision, stored in her memory. It is a vision of the husband she once had, Mynes. Just as she now sees the corpse of Patroklos, all cut up by the sharp bronze, I.19.283, she remembers seeing the corpse of her husband Mynes, all cut up by the sharp bronze, I.19.292. But the sad image of Mynes, who had once been the bridegroom of Briseis, brings back happy memories as she thinks of her own wedding—and of songs sung at that wedding. Such thoughts now evoke the sad image of Achilles, that bridegroom-to-be who will not live long enough ever to become a bridegroom—and who has killed the happy thoughts of Briseis about a bridegroom in her own past. It was Achilles, Briseis keenly remembers, who had killed her lover Mynes and conquered the city of Lyrnessos, I.19.295–296, but she also remembers that Patroklos would not let her lament for Mynes, saying that Achilles would become her new lover, making her a bride of his own, I.19.297–299.
Point 6. So, the theme of a wedding song returns in this lament of Briseis, but there is a sad irony to it all, since there will never be any future wedding for the doomed bridegroom. There will be no marriage for Achilles. All that Achilles has done for Briseis is to kill off her own marriage to Mynes, and meanwhile the death of the kind and gentle Patroklos has cut short that hero’s own intermediacy in trying to arrange a marriage for Briseis and Achilles.
Point 7. In her crying and singing, singing and crying, Briseis performs as a prima donna of lament. She is a distinctly choral personality, analogous to the personality of Sappho herself in the choral songs attributed to that Aeolian prima donna of a later era. (On Sappho as a choral personality, see PH 370, with reference to Calame 1977:367–377; also 126–127.)
Point 8. Meanwhile, the choral group of lamenting women who are likewise captives is singing and swaying in response to the lead song of Briseis, I.19.301–302. Here I epitomize from some relevant remarks in Nagy 2010a:23–24. The group is shown in the act of responding to the lament of Briseis by continuing it with their own lament, in antiphonal performance, at I.19.301: ‘So she [= Briseis] spoke, and the women wailed in response’ (ὣς ἔφατο κλαίουσ’, ἐπὶ δὲ στενάχοντο γυναῖκες). The verb epi –stenakhesthai, which I translate here as ‘wail in response’, is the conventional way for epic to signal an antiphonal performance in lamentation. See the anchor comment at I.24.720–776 on laments at Hector’s funeral.
Point 9. In singing her song of lament, Briseis as lead singer touches on her feelings as a captive woman who has become the war prize of Achilles—and who hopes to become his war bride. But she also touches on the projected feelings of the ensemble of captive women who respond to her lament in antiphonal song. These women too are war prizes, and they must therefore share in some ways the sorrows felt by the lead singer as she sings her lament. But the lead singer laments primarily the death of Patroklos and only secondarily her own misfortunes, while the ensemble of women who respond in antiphonal song are lamenting primarily their own misfortunes and only secondarily the death of Patroklos. Sorrow over the death of Patroklos seems to be the primary concern of Briseis—to the extent that her lament projects the sorrow of Achilles, which is a driving theme in the plot of the epic. By contrast, the sorrow expressed by the ensemble of captive women over their own misfortunes seems to be a primary concern only for them. Or is it? In what follows at Point 10, I argue that the overall lament will communalize the sorrow expressed by the epic narrative.
Point 10. In the lament of Briseis, the sorrow of the captive women is projected as the primary sorrow of Briseis herself over her own misfortunes, which had been caused by the deaths of her husband and the rest of her family at the hands of Achilles. Briseis shows that she remembers that old sorrow, since her wording indicates that she had wanted to lament her dead husband in the same way that she now laments the dead Patroklos. That death in her past is relevant to the death of Patroklos in the present. And the love of Briseis for her husband and the rest of her family is relevant to her love for Patroklos as a stand-in for Achilles. There is a diversity of emotions here. And the antiphonal exchange of laments between the captive women and their lead singer leads to a communalization of these emotions. The example of Briseis, then, supports the argument that lament is a communalizing experience. It leads here to a communalization of diverse emotions. [[GN 2016.12.01 via HPC 243–245, 248–249.]]

I.19.284

subject heading(s): lament by an unnamed woman in the Odyssey
The wording here at I.19.284 in the lament by Briseis over Patroklos is comparable to the wording about a lament by an unnamed woman at O.08.527. See Nagy 2015.06.17. [[GN 2016.12.01 via HPC 249.]]

I.19.302

subject heading(s): prophasis ‘pretext’
Laments performed by women can focus on personal as well as communal sorrows. See the general comment on I.19.282–302. [[GN 2016.12.01 via HPC 247–248.]]

I.19.303–308/312–313/314–321

subject heading(s): feasting and fighting
See the comment on I.19.275. [[GN 2016.12.01 via BA 136.]]

I.19.322–323

subject heading(s): (apo-)phthinesthai ‘wilt, perish’; Phthiē (homeland of Achilles)
The name Phthiē here at I.19.323 is associated with the verb phthinesthai ‘wilt, perish’ at I.19.322. See also the comment on I.01.155 and I.19.329–330, 337. [[GN 2016.12.01 via BA 185.]]

I.19.314–338

subject heading(s): lament; lament by Achilles
After the epic is done with quoting, as it were, the lament of Briseis for Patroklos, I.19.282–302, it proceeds to quote the lament of Achilles himself for his best friend, I.19.314–338; here too, as in the case of Briseis, Achilles is represented as actually singing his lament. [[GN 2016.12.01.]]

I.19.327

subject heading(s): Pyrrhos(/Neoptolemos) as Purēs
In the textual transmission of this verse, there is a trace of a variant form for the name of Pyrrhos(/Neoptolemos), son of Achilles: it is Purēs. [[GN 2016.12.01 via BA 119.]]

I.19.329–330, 337

subject heading(s): (apo-)phthinesthai ‘wilt, perish’; Phthiē (homeland of Achilles)
The name Phthiē here at I.19.330 is associated with the verb (apo-)phthinesthai ‘wilt, perish’ at I.19.329 and at I.19.337. See also the comments on I.01.155 and I.19.322–323. [[GN 2016.12.01 via BA 185.]]

I.19.368–391

subject heading(s): armor of Achilles
Achilles finally puts on the armor that had been made for him by the divine artisan Hephaistos. What dominates the visualization of this armor is the Shield. [[GN 2016.12.01.]]

I.19.373–380

subject heading(s): Shield of Achilles; selas ‘flash of light’; Hellespont; pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’; lighthouse; stathmos ‘station’; tomb of Achilles
As Achilles lifts the mighty Shield, there is a selas ‘flash of light’ that streams from its bright surface, I.19.374, which is compared to the radiant light that streams from the moon; then this same selas ‘flash of light’ streaming from the surface of the Shield at I.19.374 is also compared to a selas ‘flash of light’ streaming from a fire that sends forth its light from a lighthouse, I.19.375. This saving light, with its promise of salvation for sailors lost at sea who are longing to be reunited with their loved ones at home, I.19.375, I.19.377–378, streams from a fire that is burning at a remote place described here as a solitary stathmos ‘station’ situated in the heights overlooking the dangerous seas below, I.19.376–377. By way of ring-composition, the description now returns, I.19.379, to the picturing of the selas ‘flash of light’ that is streaming from the Shield. This flash of light is aptly compared here to the moon, not to the sun, since it is nighttime, not daytime: the sailors who are lost at sea are literally in the dark, desperately looking for a light to orient them. And the source of the light as a blazing fire is most appropriate not only from a practical point of view, since a strong fire is needed for sending from the lighthouse a light strong enough to be spotted in the darkness from far away at sea, but also from a symbolic point of view, since the burning looks that emanate from the angry eyes of Achilles are compared at an earlier point to a selas ‘flash of light’ that emanates from a blazing fire, I.19.366 (πυρὸς σέλας). On the angry looks of Achilles as he streams fire from his eyes and lights up the surface of his Shield, see the comment on I.19.003–017. As for the lighthouse that sends forth the light of salvation to sailors lost at sea, it is visualized as a solitary stathmos ‘station’ situated on the heights overlooking the sea, I.19.376–377. Such a stathmos, as I indicate in the comment on I.18.587–589, can be visualized more precisely as a herdsman’s shelter that looms over the shores of the Hellespont, where the ship of Achilles is beached. This shelter is actually the tomb of Achilles, located on a high promontory that reaches into the Hellespont. See the anchor comment at I.23.125–126 on the tomb of Achilles, part 1, and the anchor comment at I.23.245–248…256–257 on the tomb of Achilles, part 2; also to be noted is the anchor comment at O.24.076–084 on the tomb of Achilles, part 3, posted in 2017.01.03. Here at I.19.373–380, the gleam from the bronze surface of the Shield is being compared to the light that streams from the blazing fire of a lighthouse marking the tomb of Achilles, and this comparison can be seen as a metaphor for the overwhelmingly radiant prestige of the Bronze Age. [[GN 2016.12.01 via HPC 151–152, 297–298, 366–367; also BA 338–340, 342; GMP 220.]]

I.19.404–418

subject heading(s): Xanthos
This immortal horse of Achilles speaks to the hero about his epic fate. Comment postponed. [GN 2016.12.01 via BA 104, 144, 209–210, 327.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 20

2016.12.09

By now Achilles has a new set of armor, and he is ready to fight the Trojans. But his first major opponent seems to be a distraction. At least, our initial impression may lead us to think that there is a distraction going on here. The first major opponent of Achilles in Iliad 20 is Aeneas, hero of epic traditions that eventually became absorbed into the Aeneid of Virgil. Is this hero, we may ask, a truly worthy opponent of Achilles? Are the epic traditions that figure this son of Aphrodite / Venus truly worthy of the epic that is the Homeric Iliad? Once we examine more closely the oldest Greek epic traditions of Aeneas, it will become clear that this hero is indeed a most important opponent of Achilles, in that he represents ancient Greek epic traditions that are different from and antithetical to the epic tradition that prevailed in the Homeric Iliad as we know it. Not only does Aeneas challenge Achilles: even the epic traditions that figure Aeneas will challenge the epic traditions that figure Achilles. To say it another way, Aeneas represents a proto-Aeneid that challenges the proto-Iliad of Achilles. What makes Aeneas and his Aeneid—or, better, Aeneids—such a formidable challenge to Achilles is the enormous political prestige of the epic tradition that backs up Aeneas. By virtue of being the son of Aphrodite/Venus, Aeneas possesses a genealogical and dynastic political charisma that threatens to overshadow the purely epic charisma of his Iliadic opponent Achilles.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig20
Figure 20. “Venus preventing her son Aeneas from killing Helen of Troy,” Luca Ferrari, circa 1650. Luca Ferrari [Public domain], image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.20.001–074

subject heading(s): council of divinities; Olympian divinities; local divinities; Will of Zeus; Xanthos; Scamander; language of immortals vs. language of mortals
Zeus convenes a council of divinities. Many gods and goddesses are invited, and they all assemble, I.20.005–006. Included are all kinds of local divinities who preside over locales of their own, such as gods of various rivers and goddesses of various wildlands, I.20.007–009. A detail is ostentatiously added here: all the river gods actually attend the council—with the notable exception of Ōkeanos, I.20.007. This council of the divinities, held on Mount Olympus, is different from other such councils, which normally exclude local divinities and include only those gods and goddesses who are imagined as living on Mount Olympus together with Zeus. What, then is this special occasion? Or, to put it in terms of the question that Poseidon asks of Zeus, I.20.015, what is the Will of Zeus here? In response, Zeus tells Poseidon that, yes, the Will of Zeus is now at work, I.20.020, and he proceeds to say what he wants to happen: while Zeus stays behind on Mount Olympus, the other divinities may now proceed to the battleground of the Trojan War, and they will be allowed to give their individual help to whichever side they favor, Trojan or Achaean, I.20.021–030. Accordingly, the divinities now travel to the battlefield, I.20.31–40, and they are listed as follows: Hērā, Athena, Poseidon, Hermes, Hephaistos, Ares, Apollo, Artemis, Leto, Xanthos, and Aphrodite. Included in this list, almost surreptitiously, is the local river god Xanthos, I.20.40. On the battlefield, the divinities line up in opposition to each other, and the matches that are highlighted are: Poseidon and Apollo at I.20.057–068, Ares and Athena at I.20.069 (also already at I.20.047–052), Hērā and Artemis at I.20.70–71, Leto and Hermes at I.20.072, Hephaistos and Xanthos at I.20.073–074. Missing, so far, from any further matchings is Aphrodite. Later, at I.21.415–433, we will see that this goddess does in fact get involved in the upcoming conflict of divinities, but not as a combatant in her own right. For the moment, what is most striking about this list of matchings is the prominence given to the river god Xanthos at I.20.073–074. And, as we learn here at I.20.074, the immortals call this river god Xanthos, but mortals call him Skamandros. See also the comment on I.02.811–815. This name Skamandros, latinized as Scamander, refers to the most important river in the region of Troy. On this river, see already the comments on I.08.220–227 and I.11.497–500. As we will see later, in the comment on I.21.001–021, the role of Scamander as the local river god of the Trojans is vitally important for the plot of Iliad 21. [[GN 2016.12.16.]]

I.20.089–102

subject heading(s): epic deeds of Achilles before the time dramatized in the Iliad; conquest of Pedasos by Achilles the Aeolian; conquest of Lyrnessos by Achilles the Aeolian; Aeneas the Ionian
Aeneas tells about a past encounter with Achilles in an epic story that is situated outside the time-frame of the Iliad, I.20.089–102. At a later point, I.20.187–194, the story will be supplemented by what Achilles himself says about such an encounter. As we will see, what Achilles says at that later point reflects a different though related version of the same story. In the story as told by Aeneas here at I.20.089–102, he was pasturing his cattle in the highlands of the mountain range known simply as Mount Ida, and Achilles evidently caught him off guard in a cattle-raid, I.20.090–091. Aeneas, as he was being pursued by Achilles, fled from the highlands of Mount Ida all the way down to the coastland in the south. The general direction of the flight of Aeneas is indicated by a detail about the pursuit by Achilles. After he chased Aeneas down from the heights of Mount Ida, Achilles conquered the cities of Pedasos and Lyrnessos, I.20.092. As we know from other contexts, I.06.034–035 and I.21.086–087, Pedasos was a city situated near the river Satnioeis, and we know from Strabo 13.1.50 C605 that this river flowed into the Gulf of Adramytteion at the coastline situated to the southwest of Mount Ida. As for Lyrnessos, it was situated further off to the east along the coastline, as we know from Strabo 13.1.60 C611. Whereas Lyrnessos was inhabited by Kilikes, as noted in the anchor comment at I.02.689–693 with reference to Strabo 13.1.7 C586, Pedasos was inhabited by Leleges, as we read at I.21.086–087. The story as told by Aeneas explains how he succeeded in escaping from Achilles: at I.20.092–093, Aeneas boasts that he received the divine aid of Zeus himself, who gave to him the superhuman speed that he needed to run away from that most prodigious of all runners, Achilles. As for the story as told by Achilles at I.20.187–194, we will see in the comment on those verses that there are added details about the escape of Aeneas from Achilles, and that some of those details do not mesh with the version of the story as told by Aeneas. [[GN 2016.12.04 via BA 140, 270.]]

I.20.178–198

subject heading(s): speech of Achilles to Aeneas
In this speech, Achilles speaks to Aeneas from the standpoint of an epic tradition that glorifies primarily Achilles. On the other hand, in the corresponding speech of Aeneas to Achilles, I.20.200–258, we will see that Aeneas speaks to Achilles from the standpoint of a different though related epic tradition. This different traditions, as we will see, glorifies primarily Aeneas himself. [[GN 2016.12.06.]]

I.20.187–194

subject heading(s): epic deeds of Achilles before the time dramatized in the Iliad; conquest of Pedasos by Achilles the Aeolian; conquest of Lyrnessos by Achilles the Aeolian; Aeneas the Ionian
Achilles tells about a past encounter with Aeneas in an epic story that is situated outside the time-frame of the Iliad, I.20.187–194. The story supplements what Aeneas says at I.20.089–098 about such an encounter, where that hero tells a different though related version of the same story. The differences are highlighted in the story as told by Achilles here at I.20.187–194, where we find additional details about the escape of Aeneas from Achilles. According to this version of the story, Aeneas seems to have escaped from Achilles not once but twice: after Aeneas ran down from the highlands of Mount Ida and reached the coastland without getting caught by Achilles, he found refuge in the city of Lyrnessos, which Achilles then destroyed—but without catching him, since Aeneas somehow escaped, I.20.190–194. In this narrative, Achilles knows that it must have been the gods who made it possible for Aeneas to escape, but he does not know the exact identity of the god who actually rescued that hero: the wording of Achilles is ostentatiously vague when he refers at I.20.194 to the action of ‘Zeus and other gods’ in rescuing Aeneas from the besieged city of Lyrnessos before Achilles destroyed it. This vagueness about the interference of the gods is relevant to what will happen in the upcoming encounter between Aeneas and Achilles. As we will see in the comment on I.20.290–352, Achilles will be literally kept in the dark about the identity of the god who will rescue Aeneas from being killed when the two heroes finally engage in mortal combat. That said, I return to my focus on the second escape of Aeneas from Lyrnessos—following his first escape when he ran down to that city from the highlands of Mount Ida. The details we have seen about the second escape explain why only Lyrnessos is mentioned in the version of the story as told by Achilles, unlike the version as told by Aeneas, where both Pedasos and Lyrnessos are mentioned. The second escape of Aeneas, from a besieged city, could only have happened at one of the two cities of Pedasos and Lyrnessos, which were both ultimately destroyed by Achilles. Aeneas could not have been present in two besieged cities at the same time. I propose, then, that Pedasos and Lyrnessos were alternative places of refuge for Aeneas in alternative versions of his story, just as these same two cities had been alternative places of residence for Briseis in alternative versions of her own story, as I noted in the comment on I.16.057. In yet another story, there was yet another city from which Aeneas escaped before it was completely destroyed. The dramatic time of this other story, unlike the stories we have just considered about the cities of Pedasos and Lyrnessos, comes after rather than before the dramatic time of the Iliad. This other story is about the city of Troy itself, and, in this story as well, Aeneas managed to escape before the city was completely destroyed. The story was told in an Ionian epic that belonged to the epic Cycle, and the name of this epic was the Iliou Persis ‘Destruction of Ilion’, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, Proclus summary p. 107.24–26 ed. Allen 1912. (On the epic Cycle, see the Inventory of terms and names.) [[GN 2016.12.05 via BA 140, 270.]]

I.20.189

subject heading(s): ‘swift-footed Achilles’
In the wording of Achilles here, his boast about his swift-footedness is a paraphrase, as it were, of the epithets that describe him as swift-footed. There are over 30 occurrences of the epithet podas ōkus ‘swift-footed’ and over 20 occurrences of podōkēs ‘‘swift-footed’. [[GN 2016.12.06 via BA 326.]]

I.20.200–258

subject heading(s): counter-speech of Aeneas to Achilles; epea ‘words; words of poetry’; neikos ‘quarrel’; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’
In this speech, Aeneas speaks to Achilles from the standpoint of an epic tradition that glorifies primarily Aeneas, not Achilles. At I.20.200, Aeneas uses the word epea ‘words’ in referring negatively to the earlier speech of Achilles, I.20.178–198, where Achilles had spoken from the standpoint of an epic tradition that glorified primarily Achilles. This word epea—pronounced as epē in prose—normally means simply ‘words’ when it is used inside of epic diction, but it can also mean ‘words of poetry’ when it is used outside of such diction in contexts referring to poetry, especially to epic poetry. In prose, this kind of usage leads to the explicit meaning of epē as ‘epic poetry’. And, exceptionally, such a meaning of epē can even occur within the diction of epic poetry itself. That is what seems to be happening in the context of I.20.200, where epea refers to the words of Achilles as if they were the ‘poetic words’ of epic—that is, as if these words were the equivalent of epic itself. Do not try to intimidate me, Aeneas says to Achilles at I.20.200–201, by telling epea ‘words’ about past epic events like our mutual encounter in the highlands of Mount Ida and beyond. Yes, some epics will glorify you, but there are other epics that will glorify me instead. See further in the comment below on I.20.248–250. By implication, Aeneas is saying here that he has access to a different though related version of epic events, and that such a version will glorify him at the expense of Achilles. In fact, the entire speech of Aeneas at I.20.200–258 is a glorification of this hero by way of an epic tradition that is different from though related to the tradition that glorifies Achilles. This different tradition, as Aeneas goes on to demonstrate, glorifies primarily Aeneas himself. Meanwhile, the poetic implications of the word epea as ‘epic’ now become more explicit at I.20.203–205. Aeneas says here that he and Achilles know stories about each other not because they have been eyewitnesses to these stories, I.20.205, but because they both have heard, as other listeners have also heard, the epea that are the stories, and these epea are pro-kluta ‘glorious’, I.20.204. In this context, then, the word epea comes close to meaning ‘epics’, since the idea of pro-kluta as poetically ‘glorious’ is linked with the etymology of this adjective as ‘prominently heard’, just as the idea of kleos as a poetic kind of ‘glory’ is linked with the etymology of this noun as ‘the thing that is heard’. See the comment on I.02.484–487. Also relevant to the sense of epea as ‘words of poetry’ is the mutual negativity of the rivalry that is ongoing here between the two different epic traditions about Aeneas and Achilles. For example, there is an insulting reference that Aeneas makes at I.20.211 to the epea as recounted by Achilles about Aeneas. Those epea or ‘words of poetry’, as a veritable ‘epic’ told by Achilles, were certainly negative about Aeneas, just as Aeneas is now speaking negatively about Achilles and about that hero’s role in those same epea. Such mutual negativity is expressed by way of using words of blame poetry as contained within the epic, even though epic sees itself as a form of poetry that engages primarily in words of praise. The negativity of blame poetry is actually signaled in the words of Aeneas at I.20.251, who uses the noun neikea, plural of neikos ‘quarrel’, in referring to the mutual negativity that the two heroes express in their speeches to and about each other. See further in the comment on I.20.244–256. [[GN 2016.12.06 via BA 270–272, 274; GMP 27.]]

I.20.209

subject heading(s): eukhesthai ‘declare’
In boasting about his own genealogy, the hero Aeneas uses the verb eukhesthai ‘declare’ here at I.20.209, thus making a most definitive epic statement of identity. When the genealogy is completed at I.20.241, the verb eukhesthai ‘declare’ recurs, indicating the simultaneous completion of the boast. For Aeneas, an all-important aspect of his lengthy genealogy is his most immediate genetic link: as this hero boasts by way of that most solemn word eukhesthai ‘declare’ here at I.20.209, he is the son of Aphrodite herself. And, from this goddess of sexuality, who is the embodiment of eternal regeneration, Aeneas has inherited what could best be described as eternal genes, as it were. Such an arresting idea is at the same time a political ideology, since any dynasty that can claim Aeneas as ancestor is thereby destined to be regenerated, successor after successor, for all eternity. There is evidence, as noted by Strabo 13.1.53 C608, for the existence of dynastic powers that did in fact claim Aeneas as their ancestor. In the end, though, only one of these powers noted by Strabo actually succeeded in making permanent such a claim. That power was Rome, and, retrospectively, the surviving record that made such a claim permanent was of course the Aeneid of Virgil, which tells how Aeneas escaped from Troy before it was completely destroyed and how he traveled all the way to Italy, where he became the originator of the world power that became Rome. [[GN 2016.12.08 via BA 269.]]

I.20.209

anchor comment on Aeneas the Ionian, part 1
So, Aeneas in the Homeric Iliad can boast about the eternal genes that make him the ideal ancestor of any dynasty that claims to be descended from him. And that is how, from the hindsight of world history, Rome could claim its destiny as the Eternal City. I have already noted that Strabo (13.1.53 C608), after listing various dynasties in the past that had been vying with each other for possession of Aeneas as their ancestor, concludes by acknowledging Rome as the world power that ultimately won out in claiming Aeneas as its founder. And Virgil’s Aeneid can go down in history as a most powerful statement of such a claim. But what about the era when the Homeric Iliad took shape? Does this epic make a claim that is comparable to what we see in the Aeneid of Virgil? Such questions need to be consolidated and asked retrospectively, not just prospectively, since the historically earlier cases where dynasties claimed descent from Aeneas are not nearly as well attested as is the case of Rome. So, the consolidated question is this: from the standpoint of the Iliad as we have it, was there any existing political power that could have claimed ownership, as it were, of Aeneas? The answer is simple: there did exist some grouping of Ionians that had such power, and, for them, Aeneas was an Ionian. But the details, as we will see in what follows, are complicated. And, to complicate things further, there were two phases of Ionian ownership, which I summarize here in the form of two points to be made from the start.
Point 1. [Epitomized from HPC 196–197.] The first of two phases for an Ionian ownership of Aeneas can be traced back to the seventh century BCE or perhaps even earlier. It was a time when the Ionians of the Ionian Dodecapolis in central Asia Minor, dominated by the Ionian city of Miletus, were continuing to expand their influence in northern Asia Minor. (For more on the Ionian Dodecapolis, see the Inventory of terms and names.) One sign of such expansionism was the success of these Ionians in making inroads into the region of ancient Troy in northern Asia Minor and establishing there a new Troy, as it were. Such success is reflected in the Ionian epic tradition. The primary example is the Ionian epic of the Iliou Persis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus. Here I offer a brief review of the relevant parts of this epic (Proclus summary p. 107.24–26 ed. Allen 1912):
After Troy was completely destroyed by the Achaeans, a handful of prominent survivors sought to find alternative places to live. The most prominent of these survivors of Troy’s total destruction was the hero Aeneas: foreseeing the destruction that was about to happen, he withdrew from the doomed city and moved to a palace he established in the highlands of Mount Ida.
This version of the Aeneas story matches not only the plot of the epic Iliou Persis. It matches also the local mythology of the city of Scepsis, located in the region of Mount Ida. As we learn from Strabo (13.1.53 C607), Demetrius of Scepsis claimed explicitly that the basileion ‘royal palace’ of Aeneas was in the city of Scepsis. The idea of a royal city founded by Aeneas in the region of Mount Ida reflects the political interests of Ionians in general, not only of Scepsis in particular. To make this point, I start by focusing on two details reported by Demetrius of Scepsis by way of Strabo (13.1.52 C607):
A. The city of Scepsis, after being founded by Aeneas, was later ruled jointly by Ascanius (Askanios) son of Aeneas and Scamandrius (Skamandrios) son of Hector.
B. The population of Scepsis was augmented at a later period by immigrants from the Ionian city of Miletus.
Scepsis had a special meaning for Ionians not only because this city was supposedly the site of the palace of the hero Aeneas but also because the ancient site of Troy was supposedly located within its territory, in the highlands of Mount Ida. Here was the kōmē ‘village’ of the Ilieis ‘people of Ilion’, a site that Demetrius of Scepsis claimed was the real ancient Troy, while the Aeolian site of Ilion, some 30 stadium-lengths to the northwest, was supposedly a false Troy (Strabo 13.1.35–36 C597–598; also 13.1.25 C593). So, the Trojan War, according to this Ionian version, supposedly happened in territory that Ionians once claimed as their own. In this version, ancient Troy was totally destroyed and then later reoccupied as a mere village, while Aeneas established at Scepsis a new city of Troy for the surviving Trojans. And the relocation of Aeneas to Scepsis at a time that anticipated the total destruction of ancient Troy now made it possible for the new Troy that was Scepsis to become the legitimate heir to the Trojan heritage—all within the framework of Ionian territory. In terms of this particular Ionian version of the Trojan War, everything happened within the Ionian territory of Scepsis. In contrast to this version of the Trojan War, which suited the interests of the Ionians, the Aeolians made a rival claim: that Troy was in fact not totally destroyed and that some of its population survived to rebuild the old city, originally called either Troy or Ilion, as the New Ilion, or, more simply, Ilion. See the anchor comment at I.09.328–333 about efforts of Aeolians to possess ancient Troy and its environs in the historical period. This rival version of the Aeolians was actively promoted by the historian Hellanicus of Lesbos, whose publications can be dated as far back as 406 BCE (scholia for Aristophanes Frogs 694). Hellanicus in his Trōïka (FGH 4 F 25b), as mediated by Strabo (13.1.42 C602), says that the city of New Ilion was in fact the same place as the old Ilion, that is, ancient Troy. Strabo (again, 13.1.42 C602) remarks that this claim of Hellanicus—who was a native of Aeolian Lesbos—reflects the historian’s partiality toward the people of the Aeolian city of New Ilion. Modern archaeology, however, has proved that the claim of the Aeolians as represented by Hellanicus of Lesbos was basically right and that the rival claim of the Ionians as later represented by Demetrius of Scepsis was wrong. There is in fact no historical or archaeological support for the claim that the old Ilion, ancient Troy, was located in the Ionian territory of Scepsis. Here I return to the Ionian version as restated by Demetrius and then by Strabo (13.1.35–36 C597–598; also 13.1.25 C593). According to this version, as we saw, the site of the old Ilion was the kōmē ‘village’ of the Ilieis ‘people of Ilion’ in the territory of Scepsis, some thirty stadium-lengths away from New Ilion. Despite the fact, however, that Demetrius thinks of this ‘village’ as the site of ancient Troy, he concedes (via Strabo 13.1.38 C599) that he could see absolutely no trace of any epic ruins there.
Point 2. [Epitomized, radically, from HPC 143–146.] The second of two phases for an Ionian ownership of Aeneas can be traced back to an era that starts, by my estimation, somewhere around the late seventh century BCE. The city of Athens, which was emerging as a primary representative of Ionian identity at that time, was making its own inroads into the region of ancient Troy, eventually establishing there a new Troy of its own by occupying and reconfiguring the city of Sigeion, which had been formerly an Aeolian stronghold. The formerly Aeolian identity of Sigeion is noted by Strabo 13.1.25 C593. As for the reconfigured Ionian identity of Sigeion as a new Troy, I refer again to Points 6 and 8 in the anchor comment at I.09.328–333. This reconfigured city of Sigeion as a new Troy became a rival of another new Troy, Ilion, which had been built by the Aeolians on the foundations of what remained of the old Troy, as noted at Points 1–5 in the same anchor comment at I.09.328–333. See also anchor comment at I.20.302–308 on: Aeneas the Ionian, part 2; and anchor comment at I.20.302–308 on: Aeneas the Aeolian. [[GN 2016.12.07 via BA 269; also HPC 196–197 and 143–146, in that order.]]

I.20.213–214

subject heading(s): eidénai ‘know’
The use of the verb eidénai ‘know’ in both verses here at I.20.213–214 is relevant to the poetics of knowing something by way of hearing the authoritative testimony of epic. There is a reference to such poetics already earlier at I.20.203, where eidénai ‘know’ refers to knowing the facts of genealogy by way of hearing epea as ‘epic’, described at I.20.204. On this point, see the general comment on the speech of Aeneas at I.20.200–258. And the basic fact about that entire speech of Aeneas is a fact of genealogy. As we saw in the comment on I.20.209, Aeneas is making a most solemn heroic boast, signaled by the word eukhesthai ‘claim’, that he is the son of the goddess Aphrodite herself. [[GN 2016.12.07 via BA 271.]]

I.20.215–219

subject heading(s): Erikhthonios
Erikhthonios, son of Dardanos, is figured here at I.20.215–219 as a kind of proto-Trojan king who was an ancestor of Aeneas. The name of this foundational king Erikhthonios, I.20.219, converges with the name of a foundational king of Athens, as we will see in the comment on I.20.230–241. Such a convergence signals an Athenian connection with the Ionian ownership, as it were, of epic traditions about Aeneas. On Athenians as would-be representatives of Ionian cultural heritage, see Point 2 in the anchor comment at I.20.209 about Aeneas the Ionian. [[GN 2016.12.08 via HPC 209.]]

I.20.230–241

subject heading(s): Erikhthonios
As we learned previously from I.20.215–219, the foundational proto-Trojan king named Erikhthonios was fathered by an even earlier proto-Trojan king named Dardanos. The narrative of the genealogical succession now continues at I.20.231–241: Erikhthonios fathers Trōs, whose name means ‘Trojan’; so, from here on, the succession of kings is no longer proto-Trojan but Trojan; then Trōs fathers Ilos and Assarakos; then Ilos—whose name presupposes the alternative name of Troy, Ilion—fathers Laomedon who fathers Priam, but Assarakos fathers Kapys who fathers Anchises; finally, Priam fathers Hector but Anchises fathers Aeneas. There is a match here in the chronological sequencing for the king Erikhthonios of Troy and for the king Erikhthonios of Athens. The Athenian king Erikhthonios was a differentiated mythological by-form of another Athenian king, Erekhtheus. Such a differentiation can probably be dated as far back as the late seventh century BCE, when the Athenians gained control of Sigeion, a city that now became their very own new Troy. See Point 2 in the anchor comment at I.20.209 about Aeneas the Ionian, part 1. What resulted from this differentiation was a set of two different kings located in two different zones of time within the genealogical sequence of Athenian kings. The earlier location of Erikhthonios in this Athenian genealogy matches chronologically the location of Erikhthonios in the Trojan genealogy that culminates in Aeneas. According to the Parian Marble (FGH 239 section 23), Troy was conquered in 1209/8 BCE, and that event would have happened roughly three centuries after an event that coincides with the era of the Athenian king Erikhthonios: according to the Parian Marble (FGH 239 section 10), the Athenians claimed that Erikhthonios was the inventor of the four-horse chariot for the occasion of the first chariot race held at the first Panathenaic festival in 1505/4 BCE. So, the differentiation of the Athenian Erekhtheus into an earlier Erikhthonios and a later Erekhtheus made it possible to connect more easily the Athenian Erikhthonios with the Trojan Erikhthonios, ancestor of Aeneas. This way, the prestige of the Trojan genealogy, culminating in the dynastic figure of the epic hero Aeneas, could be appropriated into the Athenian genealogy of kings. A signal of such an Athenian appropriation in the Iliad is a pointed reference at I.05.271 to four chariot-horses owned by Anchises, father of Aeneas, to be complemented by two chariot-horses owned by Aeneas himself. I.05.272. The narrative introduces these two sets of chariot-horses by revealing at I.05.263–270 that Anchises secretly bred six horses from the original set of chariot-horses given by Zeus to Trōs in compensation for the abduction of the king’s son, Ganymede; of these six, he kept four for himself and gave two to Aeneas, I.05.271–272. As we have already learned from the Parian Marble (FGH 239 section 10), the Athenians claimed that Erikhthonios was the inventor of the four-horse chariot for the occasion of the first chariot race held at the first Panathenaic festival in 1505/4 BCE. So, the Iliadic reference to the four-horse chariot team of Anchises is an implicit Athenian signature. To be contrasted are the two-horse chariot teams used by almost all warriors—including Aeneas himself, I.05.270–272—for fighting battles in the Trojan War. An exception is the four-horse chariot team used by Hector, I.08.185. He too, like Aeneas, is a descendant of Dardanos, I.20.240. So here again we see the makings of an implicit Athenian signature. [[GN 2016.12.08 via HPC 209–210.]]

I.20.238

subject heading(s): ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’
See anchor comment at I.12.188.

I.20.241

subject heading(s): eukhesthai ‘claim’; ring-composition
In boasting about his own genealogy, the hero Aeneas started the boast by signaling it with the verb eukhesthai ‘declare’ at I.20.209, thus making a most definitive epic statement of identity. Now that the genealogy is completed at I.20.241, the verb eukhesthai ‘declare’ recurs, indicating by way of ring-composition the simultaneous completion of the boast. For more on the semantics of boasting as signaled by eukhesthai ‘declare’, see Muellner 1976. [[GN 2016.12.08 via BA 269.]]

I.20.244–256

subject heading(s): neikos ‘quarrel’; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; oneidos (plural oneidea) ‘words of insult’
As noted in the general comment on I.20.200–258, Aeneas uses the noun neikea, plural of neikos ‘quarrel’, in referring to the mutual negativity that he and Achilles are expressing in their speeches to and about each other. Also used in the same context is the verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’ at I.20.252 and I.20.254. On the noun neikos ‘quarrel’ and the verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’ as programmatic markers of blame poetry, see especially the comments on I.02.221, I.03.059, I.03.100, I.10.249–253. Yet another word that is used in the same context here at I.20.244–256 is the noun oneidea, plural of oneidos ‘words of insult’, at I.20.244. On this word, see the comments on I.02.222. [[GN 2016.12.10 via BA 270–271, 274.]]

I.20.248–250

subject heading(s): epea ‘words; words of poetry’; mūthos ‘wording spoken for the record’
The word epea is used here at I.20.249 to mean not only ‘words’ but also, more specifically, ‘words of poetry’, such as the words of epic. The words of poetry are spoken here in an act of boasting-which is framed within the act of performing epic. See the general comment on I.20.200–258; see also the earlier comment on I.12.387–391. Here at I.20.248–250, Aeneas is cautioning Achilles about the variability of epea as ‘poetic words’. There is a wide range of different ways of saying different things. Different epics, Aeneas is saying in effect, can have different truth-values in different places. What is said in a positive sense at one place may be said in a negative sense at another place. That is the nature of mūthoi, I.20.248, which are ‘wordings spoken for the record’. For more on the Homeric sense of this word mūthos as ‘wording spoken for the record’, see the comment at I.19.084–085. As I noted in that comment, any wording that is called a mūthos by the Master Narrator himself in the act of actually quoting the words of the wording will have the prestige of reality—to the extent that the listeners were actually expected to accept the idea that such wording had once upon a time been really spoken exactly as quoted by Homer himself. In the context of I.20.248–250 here, however, it becomes clear that there were in fact different regional versions of epics as quoted, as it were, by Homer. As Aeneas says at I.20.248–249, there is no single mūthos in the sense that there is no single way of wording a story for the record: rather, there are many ways of wording a story, and so there are many mūthoi to be heard by listeners, not just one. And, to repeat, there is a wide range of different ways of saying different things. As Aeneas says it, I.20.249, the nomós or ‘range’ of epea as ‘words of poetry’ is vast, varying from place to place. The choice of wording here is most evocative: the word nomós can mean literally ‘range of lands used for pasturing’, as at I.02.475, and the metaphorical application here to the wide range of epics about Aeneas and Achilles may evoke a pastoral scene of a cattle-raid in the highlands of Mount Ida, where Achilles was once upon a time rustling the cattle that were pastured there by Aeneas. Such a pastoral scene is signaled in the story as told by Aeneas at I.20.089–102: he was pasturing his cattle in the highlands of Mount Ida, and Achilles evidently caught him off guard in a cattle-raid, I.20.090–091. See the comment on I.20.089–102. [[GN 2016.12.09 via GMP 24, 43; also BA 270–271, 274.]]

I.20.290–352

subject heading(s): why does Poseidon rescue Aeneas?
In the short-term logic of the narrative here about the one-on-one battle between Aeneas and Achilles, I.20.290–352, it becomes certain that Aeneas will lose the battle and be killed by Achilles, I.20.290. But now, most abruptly, this short-term certainty is contradicted by a long-term certainty, which is, that Aeneas must not be killed by Achilles. It simply cannot happen. And the divine agent of this long-term certainty is the god Poseidon, who notices what is happening short-term and will now intervene directly, I.20.291, in order to insure the long-term certainty that Aeneas must not be killed in this battle-scene. As Poseidon declares to his fellow divinities before he takes action, it is morimon ‘destined’ that Aeneas must avoid being killed by Achilles at this epic moment, I.20.302, since Aeneas as a descendant of Dardanos must not die without having further descendants of his own, I.20.303–306, and these descendants may then continue to rule over the Trojans even after Troy is completely destroyed, I.20.307–308. So, there is an eternity that is destined for the genes, as it were, of Aeneas, as I noted already in the anchor comment at I.20.209, since this hero’s descendants will have eternal rule over the Trojans. But this rule, says Poseidon, will not be in Troy, since both Hērā and Athena have committed themselves by oath to the complete destruction of that city, I.20.313–317. Having made these declarations, Poseidon now takes action. What happens right away is that Aeneas is literally lifted into the air by the power of the god, I.20.325, who spirits him away to a safe place that is removed from the battle scene, I.20.328–329. Once Aeneas is safe, Poseidon appears to him and declares that it would have been huper moiran ‘beyond fate [moira]’ for this hero to die at this epic moment, I.20.336. And, while Poseidon is taking action by rescuing Aeneas, he simultaneously beclouds the vision of Achilles, I.20.321–322, so that this hero cannot get to see the actual rescue of his opponent. Achilles is literally in the dark here. Then, after the rescue, the vision of Achilles is restored, I.20.341–342, and he now comprehends that some god must have arranged the escape of Aeneas, I.20.342–350. It is significant, however, that Achilles does not know the identity of the god who rescued Aeneas. Similarly, Achilles did not know the exact identity of the god who rescued Aeneas from the city of Lyrnessos, where that hero had once upon a time taken refuge from the pursuing Achilles. As I noted in the comment on I.20.187–194, the wording of Achilles is ostentatiously vague when he refers at I.20.194 to the action of ‘Zeus and the other gods’ in helping Aeneas escape from the besieged city of Lyrnessos before it was destroyed by Achilles. By contrast, the wording of Achilles is clear when he refers at I.20.192 to the action of Zeus and Athena together in helping him destroy Lyrnessos. I propose, then, that Achilles was kept in the dark about the agency of the god or goddess who helped Aeneas escape from Lyrnessos before it was destroyed, just as he is now being kept in the dark about the agency of Poseidon. Further, just as Achilles at I.20.194 is complaining about the divine help given to Aeneas, so also Aeneas at I.20.097–102 complains about the divine help given to Achilles—and there the one divinity who is singled out as that hero’s greatest divine helper is Athena, I.20.094–096. The implication of this complaint by Aeneas is that Athena gives to Achilles an unfair advantage, and that the two heroes would be evenly matched if Athena were taken out of the picture. Ironically, Athena is in fact out of the picture in the one-on-one battle between Aeneas and Achilles, and the only god who intervenes in this battle is Poseidon, who helps not Achilles but Aeneas. But, even with the help of Poseidon, Aeneas does not win the one-on-one battle. He succeeds only in escaping death at the hands of Achilles. [[GN 2016.12.09 via HPC 203.]]

I.20.302–308

anchor comment on Aeneas the Ionian, part 2
The prophecy that is made by the god Poseidon here about the descendants of Aeneas as heirs to eternal rule over the Trojans—but not in Troy—is a basic theme that pervades Ionian epic traditions. The identity of Aeneas as an Ionian depends ultimately on the idea that he must be relocated from ancient Troy, since that city simply must be destroyed completely. There are four points that now need to be made about this idea:
Point 1. A starting point is the city of Scepsis in its Ionian phase of existence. As we have already seen in Point 1 of the anchor comment at I.20.209, this Ionian city claimed control over the territory of Troy. Essentially, Scepsis now became the new Troy for the Ionians in this region. Meanwhile, the ancient city of Troy was supposedly never rebuilt and never again amounted to anything more than a simple village that was located within the territory of Scepsis. Such Trojan connections of Scepsis were not limited to this city’s claim that ‘the village of the people of Ilion’, which was under its control, had once been the sacred ground of the real Troy of the Trojan War. The city also claimed as its own the hero Aeneas. From the anchor comment at I.20.209 about Aeneas the Ionian, part I, I repeat here two relevant details reported by Demetrius of Scepsis by way of Strabo (13.1.52 C607): (A) The city of Scepsis, after being founded by Aeneas, was later ruled jointly by Ascanius (Askanios) son of Aeneas and Scamandrius (Skamandrios) son of Hector; and (B) the population of Scepsis was augmented at a later period by immigrants from the Ionian city of Miletus I also repeat here the fact that Scepsis claimed to be the original site of the basileion ‘royal palace’ of Aeneas, as reported by Demetrius of Scepsis by way of Strabo (13.1.53 C607). By implication, it was this palace that became the stronghold of the dynasty of Aeneas that survived the Trojan War.
Point 2. The descendants of Aeneas in the city of Scepsis represented the Ionians not only generally, in the sense that Scepsis eventually became an Ionian city. More specifically, as I have just reiterated on the basis of reportage originating from Demetrius by way of Strabo, Scepsis as an Ionian city was closely connected to the Ionian city of Miletus. So, the connection here is not only Ionian in general but also Milesian in particular. Such a connection is most significant in view of the fact that the Ionian city of Miletus once dominated the federation of Ionian cities known as the Ionian Dodecapolis, as we see from Herodotus 1.142.3 and other sources (HPC 216–217).
Point 3. And this Milesian connection of Scepsis is represented not only by the status of Aeneas as an adoptive dynastic hero of the city’s Ionian population but also by his prominent status as an epic hero who fought in the Trojan War. Here I return to the Ionian epic tradition about Aeneas that became part of the epic Cycle and was known as the Iliou Persis, an epic attributed to Arctinus of Miletus. As we have seen earlier, this Milesian epic narrates how Aeneas and his followers withdrew from Troy before its total destruction and moved back to his home in the highlands of Mount Ida (Proclus summary p. 107.24–26 ed. Allen 1912).
Point 4. There is a clear sign of this Ionian epic tradition in the overall Homeric narrative about the rescue of Aeneas by the god Poseidon in I.20.290–352. This god, although he is generally pro-Achaean in the Iliad, has a special link to the figure of Aeneas. That is because Poseidon also has a special link to the Ionians belonging to the federation of the Ionian Dodecapolis headed by Miletus: as Poseidon Helikōnios, he was the chief god of the Panionion, the sacred site of the festival of the Panionia, which expressed the communality of the twelve cities of the Ionian Dodecapolis as headed by the city of Miletus (Pausanias 7.24.5, scholia bT for I.20.404). See also anchor comment at I.20.209 on: Aeneas the Ionian, part 1; and anchor comment at I.20.302–308 on: Aeneas the Aeolian. [[GN 2016.12.09 via HPC 200, 202–203.]]

I.20.302–308

anchor comment on Aeneas the Aeolian
The four points that have just been made about Aeneas the Ionian need to be juxtaposed with twelve points that now need to be made about Aeneas the Aeolian, as featured in rival traditions. [These twelve points are epitomized from HPC 197–201.]
Point 1. The Aeolians of New Ilion, unlike the Ionians of Scepsis, claimed that Troy was not totally destroyed and was not left uninhabited. Rather, the Aeolians converted the ruins of Troy into the city of New Ilion. Our source for such a claim is Strabo (13.1.40 C600), evidently following Demetrius of Scepsis, who reported the claim of the Aeolians but went on to dispute it. Strabo (13.1.42 C602), however, also cites an important textual source that supported the same claim, namely, the Trōïka of Hellanicus of Lesbos (FGH 4 F 25b). See Point 1 of the anchor comment at I.20.209. As we will see, this claim of the Aeolians as reported by Hellanicus meshes with the idea that the hero Aeneas was originally an Aeolian, not an Ionian.
Point 2. In terms of the Aeolian claims, according to which Troy was not completely abandoned after its capture by the Achaeans, there was not only a surviving population that stayed in old Ilion but also a dynasty that ruled over such a population. There are traces of a traditional narrative about such a dynasty in the Trōïka of Hellanicus of Lesbos (FGH 4 F 31), as reported by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Roman Antiquities 1.45.4–1.48.1): according to this narrative, Aeneas himself was at least indirectly involved in such a dynasty. In this role, Aeneas would have been not an Ionian but an Aeolian. Here is a summary of what Hellanicus says:
A. After Aeneas escaped the capture of Troy by retreating to the highlands of Mount Ida, he negotiated with the victorious Achaeans his relocation to the city of Aíneia on the Thermaic Gulf.
B. Meanwhile, his son Ascanius was relocated as king of Daskylitis on the coast of the Sea of Marmara.
C. Eventually, Ascanius returned to the old Ilion, where he joined forces with Scamandrius (Skamandrios) son of Hector in refounding it as the New Ilion.
Point 3. Another source, however, indicates that the joint rule of the descendants of Aeneas and Hector over New Ilion was not to last. Here is what we read in the scholia for I.20.307–308: ‘but some say that the Aeolians expelled the descendants of Aeneas’ (οἱ δέ, ὅτι Αἰολεῖς ἐξέβαλον τοὺς ἀπογόνους Αἰνείου). Such a story about an expulsion from Ilion, it must be emphasized, could still be part of an Aeolic version of the story about ancient Troy. The wording here, if the text is not corrupt, would still assume an Aeolian re-founding of Ilion after the destruction of the ancient city.
Point 4. What is being problematized in the scholia that I have just cited is the prophecy made by the god Poseidon, in the Iliad as we have it, concerning the descendants of Aeneas. The god is prophesying that these descendants, to whom I will refer hereafter simply as the Aeneadae, will survive the Trojan War and will rule their subjects forever, I.20.306–308, but the context makes it clear that this rule will never happen in the old city of Troy, which will have to be destroyed completely, I.20.309–317. For now, I emphasize one basic fact about this prophecy: it implies that the Aeneadae will have to be relocated from Troy. Such a story about a relocation, of course, does not have to follow the Ionian tradition about Scepsis as a final place of refuge for the Aeneadae. The scholia for I.20.307–308, which we have already considered at Point 3, also report an alternative story about the relocation of the Aeneadae: ‘some say that it was by way of the Romans, with regard to whatever things the Poet knew on the basis of oracles emanating from the Sibyl’ (οἱ μὲν διὰ Ῥωμαίους φασίν, ἅπερ εἰδέναι τὸν ποιητὴν ἐκ τῶν Σιβύλλης χρησμῶν). So, the point made in the Iliadic text about the relocation of the Aeneadae could be explained in terms of a Roman appropriation of Aeneas: according to the Roman version, the Aeneadae were relocated from Ilion all the way to Italy, and such a relocation could still be explained in terms of the prophecy uttered by Poseidon at I.20.306–308.
Point 5. In terms of the Aeolian version of the story about the conquest of Troy by the Achaeans, as we saw at Points 1 and 2 above, the relocation of the Aeneadae was not predicated on the total destruction of Troy. The Aeolians, unlike the Ionians, did not need to own Aeneas in order to own their claim to ancient Troy, since an essential part of their overall claim was that they had built the city of New Ilion on the ruins of the original Ilion. As we have seen, our earliest source for the essentials of the Aeolian version of this story is the Trōïka of Hellanicus of Lesbos (FGH 4 F 31), as reported by way of Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Roman Antiquities 1.45.4–1.48.1). After the Trojan War, according to this Aeolian version of the story, New Ilion was ruled jointly by Ascanius the son of Aeneas and Scamandrius the son of Hector and by their descendants. But then, as we can see from the scholia for I.20.307–308, the descendants of Aeneas were expelled from New Ilion by ‘the Aeolians’, so that New Ilion was in later times ruled exclusively by the descendants of Hector. The story about the expulsion of the Aeneadae by the Aeolians from Ilion can be seen as a political reaction to the adoption of Aeneas by Ionians who claimed this hero as the founder of their very own new Ilion.
Point 6. To be contrasted with the Aeolian tradition about the New Ilion is the Ionian tradition about Scepsis. In this case, as we have seen, our primary source is Demetrius of Scepsis by way of Strabo (13.1.52 C607). After the Trojan War, according to this version of the story, Scepsis was first ruled by Aeneas. Then it was ruled jointly by Ascanius the son of Aeneas and Scamandrius the son of Hector and by their descendants. But then it was ruled by a coalition including immigrants from the Ionian city of Miletus.
Point 7. Retrospectively, in terms of the Aeolian tradition about New Ilion, Scamandrius represents the Aeolians who dominated New Ilion while Ascanius represents Ionians who may have originally inhabited the city together with the Aeolians. Once the Ionians appropriated a rival new Ilion as supposedly founded by Aeneas, however, the Aeolian version of the story would have to change: accordingly, the Aeneadae would now have to be expelled from the city of New Ilion. If the Ionians wanted to designate Aeneas as the founder of their rival new Ilion, as in the case of Scepsis, then the Aeolians of New Ilion would no longer want to designate the Aeneadae as partners in the dynasty that ruled them. In terms of the Ionian tradition about Scepsis, by contrast, Scamandrius represents the non-Ionians who ruled jointly with the Ionians the relocated new Ilion that is Scepsis, and the dominantly Ionian character of this city is then reinforced by Ionians immigrating from Miletus, leader of the Ionian Dodecapolis. There is evidence for the intensification of the Ionian identity of Scepsis over time, at the expense of its formerly Aeolic identity: Leaf 1923:273 notes a shift from Aeolic to Ionic dialect in the language found on the coinage of Scepsis around the fifth century BCE (HPC 200n145).
Point 8. The conflicting Aeolian and Ionian myths about Troy after the Trojan War can be correlated with an eventual differentiation of New Ilion and Scepsis as respectively Aeolian and Ionian cities. We know by hindsight that New Ilion was in fact a predominantly Aeolian city, whereas Scepsis, once an Aeolian city, eventually shifted toward an Ionian identity. The earlier Aeolian identity of Scepsis matches the identification of the Aeolians with the descendants of Hector, who ruled the city jointly with the descendants of Aeneas (Strabo 13.1.52 C607). And, conversely, the later Ionian identity of Scepsis matches the identification of the Ionians with the descendants of Aeneas.
Point 9. This is not to say that the Aeneadae were all along perceived as Ionians. Their Ionian identity was merely a function of the eventual Ionian identity of some of the places where they were relocated after the Trojan War, such as Scepsis. That is why the identity of the Aeneadae remains Aeolian if they are relocated to places that still have an Aeolian identity. We see an example in a myth about Aeneas as retold by the mythographer Conon, who flourished in the first century BCE and CE. According to this source (Conon FGH 26 F 1.46), Aeneas founded a settlement in the region of Mount Ida but was later displaced from there by two surviving sons of Hector, namely by Oxynios and Skamandros (F 1.46.2); Aeneas then migrated to the Thermaic Gulf (F.1.46.3), where he founded the city of Aíneia, also known as Aînos (F.1.46.4). The same name Aînos applies to a city on the banks of the river Ebros; that city, and Aíneia as well, were Aeolian settlements.
Point 10. Reviewing the various myths about Scamandrius son of Hector, as mentioned in Point 7 (also about one Skamandros son of Hector, as mentioned in Point 9), I emphasize that not one of them is represented in the Homeric Iliad, according to which the Trojans of the future will be ruled exclusively by the descendants of Aeneas, not by any descendants of Hector. The wording comes from the god Poseidon himself, as we have seen at I.20.307–308. Strabo (13.1.53 C608) quotes these same Homeric verses and then proceeds to quote a variant version of I.20.307–308, according to which the Aeneadae will rule not only over the surviving Trojans but also over all humanity. Depending on whether we follow the first or the second of the two versions as reflected in these two textual variants, we can say that the population to be ruled by the lineage of Aeneas will be either the Trojans or all humanity, I.20.307. Either way, the point that is being made in both versions is that the lineage of Aeneas will last forever, I.20.307–308, whereas the lineage of Hector the son of Priam will be extinct, I.20.302–306. The same point is being made in a prophecy made by the goddess Aphrodite in the Homeric Hymn (6) to Aphrodite (196–197). So, the version of the myth that is validated by both the Iliad and the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite is decidedly anti-Aeolian, not just pro-Ionian. The extinction of Hector’s descendants is a prerequisite in Homeric poetry as we have it.
Point 11. In terms of Homeric poetry, then, the future Trojans who are destined to be ruled by the descendants of Aeneas—and not by the descendants of Hector—could not be equated with the population of the New Ilion dominated by the Aeolians, who as we have seen ultimately expelled the descendants of Aeneas from their city, according to the scholia for I.20.307–308. That much is not surprising any more—provided that we keep in mind the Ionian ideology that drives the myth in Homeric poetry as we have it. What is surprising, however, is that the Ionian ideology that we see at work in the myths stemming from Scepsis can still leave room for the descendants of Hector as well as the descendants of Aeneas. In terms of the Homeric version as we have it, the Trojans of the future cannot even be equated with the population of the would-be new Ilion that was Scepsis, who were ruled not exclusively by Ascanius the son of Aeneas but jointly by him and by Scamandrius the son of Hector and grandson of Priam, as we saw from the testimony of Demetrius by way of Strabo (13.1.52 C607). So, what kind of Ionian ideology prevailed in the Homeric version of the myth? I propose that this ideology originated from the city of Sigeion in the Ionian phase of its existence, at a time when it was dominated by Athens. The Trojans of the future as pictured in the prophecy of Poseidon were imagined as the population controlled by the would-be new Ilion that was Sigeion, and this population was to be ruled exclusively by the descendants of Aeneas, not of Hector. Tracing the history of Sigeion forward in time into the early fifth century BCE, I propose that the possession of this city by Athens made it a more prestigious would-be new Ilion than was Scepsis, which must have gone into a severe decline after its main source of support, the city of Miletus, was captured by the Persian Empire in 494 BCE. By contrast with Scepsis, Sigeion persisted as a rival of New Ilion until sometime in the Hellenistic period. By the time of Strabo, however, who flourished in the late first century BCE, the city of Sigeion no longer even existed: the geographer reports that the site where the city had once stood had been systematically demolished (13.1.31 C595). The most likely cause of the city’s total destruction, it may be added, was its history of rivalry with New Ilion. So, by the time of Strabo, which matches the time when Aeneas became definitively recognized as the founder of the world power that was Rome, the only Ilion that still mattered any more was the Ilion of the Aeolians. But these Aeolians, unlike the ultimately doomed Ionians of Sigeion, did not need an Aeolian Aeneas as their source of legitimation.
Point 12. Here I return one more time to the two Iliadic versions of the prophecy made by the god Poseidon to Aeneas, as reflected in the two attested textual variants that we have already considered at I.20.307–308. According to the variant in one version, as quoted by Strabo (13.1.53 C608), the lineage of Aeneas will rule all of humanity, not only the Trojans of the future. Besides the textual variant that is cited by Strabo here to support this version, there is also another similar variant cited by other sources in support of the same version, as we read in the scholia for I.20.307 (see HPC 200n144, where it is suggested that the source for such a variant was Aristonicus, contemporary of Strabo). As we read in Strabo (13.1.27 C594–595), this version of the Aeneas story became suitable for appropriation by the lineage of Julius Caesar, who claimed to be descended from Iulus, alternatively named Ascanius, who was the son of Aeneas. In terms of this version, the descendants of Aeneas would one day rule all humankind, in that the Roman imperial rule of Caesar followed by Augustus and by their successors was viewed to be universal. According to the other version, on the other hand, it was the Trojans themselves who would be ruled forever by the descendants of Aeneas, and these future Trojans would have been equated with the population of Sigeion—until, as we saw at Point 11, that city was totally destroyed in the Hellenistic period. Meanwhile, the population of New Ilion remained Aeolian well into the Roman period, without ever needing Aeneas as a legitimator of their Aeolian identity. See also anchor comment at I.20.209 on: Aeneas the Ionian, part 1; and anchor comment at I.20.302–308 on: Aeneas the Ionian, part 2. [[GN 2016.12.09.]]

I.20.350

subject heading(s): ásmenos ‘returning to light and life’
The etymology of this word can be explained as ‘returning to light and life’. See the anchor comment on O.09.566. [[GN 2017.05.31.]]

I.20.403–405

subject heading(s): sacrifice of a bull to Poseidon Helikōnios; Ionian Dodecapolis; Aeneas the Ionian; Ionian Migration
[Epitomized from HPC 229–230.] Here at I.20.404–405, the bellowing of a mortally wounded Trojan warrior is compared to the bellowing of a bull that is about to be sacrificed on the occasion of a ritual that was central to the people of the Ionian Dodecapolis in worshipping the god Poseidon. Such a comparison, which occurs in a context that is proximal to the narrative about the rescue of Aeneas by Poseidon, I.20.290–352, evokes the Ionian connections of the god with Aeneas as a hero who was appropriated by the Ionians of the Ionian Dodecapolis: see Point 4 of the anchor comment at I.20.302–308 about Aeneas the Ionian, part 2. Strabo (8.7.2 C384) makes it explicit that the Ionians even in his own time worshipped Poseidon Helikōnios and celebrated (thuein) the festival of the Panionia at the Panionion: ‘even today, the Ionians honor [tīmân] him [= Poseidon], and they still celebrate [thuein] at that place [= the Panionion] the festival of the Panionia’ (ὃν καὶ νῦν ἔτι τιμῶσιν Ἴωνες, καὶ θύουσιν ἐκεῖ τὰ Πανιώνια). And he proceeds to describe this festival as a thusiā ‘sacrifice’ in the context of noting that Homer actually mentions it here at I.20.404–405: ‘he [= Homer] makes mention, as some suggest, of this sacrifice [thusiā] when he says …’ (μέμνηται δ’, ὡς ὑπονοοῦσί τινες, ταύτης τῆς θυσίας Ὅμηρος ὅταν φῇ … [the quotation from Homer follows]). I draw special attention to Strabo’s metonymic use of thusiā ‘sacrifice’ here to designate the whole festival of the Panionia. (On metonymy, see the Inventory of terms and names.) The geographer then proceeds to quote the verses at I.20.404–405 that concern the sacrifice of a bellowing bull to Poseidon Helikōnios: ‘as when a bull | bellows when he is being dragged toward the lord who is Helikōnios’ (ὡς ὅτε ταῦρος | ἤρυγεν ἑλκόμενος Ἑλικώνιον ἀμφὶ ἄνακτα). As Strabo observes (again, 8.7.2 C384), the climax of the festival of the Panionia at the Panionion is the sacrifice of the bull to Poseidon Helikōnios—I note the word thusiā, used here in the specific sense of ‘sacrifice’—and special care must be taken by the sacrificers to induce the bull to bellow before it is sacrificed. Accordingly, Strabo continues, the reference at I.20.404–405 to the sacrifice of a bellowing bull to Poseidon Helikōnios can be used to argue that the birth of Homer ‘the Poet’ par excellence is to be dated after the Ionian apoikiā ‘migration’, on the grounds that Homer actually mentions the Panionian sacrifice of the Ionians to Poseidon Helikōnios in the environs of Priene: ‘they use [this] as evidence for aguing that the Poet was born after the Ionian migration [apoikiā], given that he makes mention of the Panionian festival [thusiā] that the Ionians celebrate in the territory of the people of Priene in honor of Poseidon Helikōnios’ (τεκμαίρονταί τε νεώτερον εἶναι τῆς Ἰωνικῆς ἀποικίας τὸν ποιητήν, μεμνημένον γε τῆς Πανιωνικῆς θυσίας ἣν ἐν τῇ Πριηνέων χώρᾳ συντελοῦσιν ῎Ιωνες τῷ ῾Ελικωνίῳ Ποσειδῶνι). (On the Ionian Migration, see the Inventory of terms and names.) As we see from Strabo, then, this Homeric passage may well refer to the special way of sacrificing bulls at the festival of the Panionia at the Panionion in Priene. The testimony of Strabo is in fact corroborated by the Homeric scholia (bT for I.20.404). As we see from the context of the Iliadic passage here, the mode of inflicting the mortal blow in sacrificing the bull highlights the vitality of the bull, who is “pumped up” with fear and rage. In the scholia bT for I.20.406a (see also bT for 404b), the commentator takes great care in noting the explosion of arterial blood at the climactic moment when the sacrificial blow severs the carotid artery of the “pumped up” animal. It appears that this mode of sacrificing the bull intensifies the rush of arterial blood spurting from the sacrificial blow. [GN 2016.12.09 via HPC 203, 230.]]

I.20.487

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; therapontes (plural) of Ares
First, the chariot fighter is killed. Then and only then is the chariot driver, the therapōn, also killed: he is pierced in the back by a javelin as he turns the chariot team around and attempts to drive away from the scene of battle. [[GN 2014.08.04.]]
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Iliad Rhapsody 21

2016.12.15

The momentum of Achilles continues to heat up. The Trojans are now retreating as fast as they can, heading back toward Troy to find safety there within the sacred walls of that ancient citadel. In their hurry to get away from the field of battle, their hasty retreat has quickly turned into a chaotic and humiliating rout. Achilles is right behind them, in hot pursuit, slaughtering the fleeing Trojans left and right. The hero seems unstoppable. But Achilles meets his match when he provokes the river god Scamander, whose clear streams he has polluted with the gore of countless Trojans that he slaughters while they are desperately attempting to ford the god’s river.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig21
Figure 21. Copperplate etching (1795) by Tommaso Piroli, after a drawing (1793) by John Flaxman. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.21.001–021

subject heading(s): Scamander
So long as the anger of Achilles remains in force, the Trojans will remain in possession of the east side of the river Skamandros, latinized as Scamander, while they continue to fight the Achaeans on the west side. On this principal river of the Trojan plain, see already the comments on I.08.220–227 and I.11.497–500. Only after Achilles rejoins his companions and returns to the battlefield will the Trojans be pushed back to the east side of the Scamander, and this major retreat finally happens here in Iliad 21. Now the raging Achilles pushes the Trojans back to the edge of the west bank of this river, I.21.001, and there they perish in droves, either at the hands of Achilles or by drowning, I.21.007–021—unless they manage to escape by crossing over to the east bank of the river, I.21.002–004. [[GN 2016.12.14 via HPC 164.]]

I.21.134–135

Q&T via BA 75
subject heading(s): loigos ‘devastation’
We see here a retrospective reference to the loigos ‘devastation’, I.21.134, suffered by the Achaeans because of the absence of Achilles. [[GN 2016.12.16 via BA 75.]]

I.21.184–199

subject heading(s): eukhesthai ‘claim’; Asteropaios; river gods; Axios; Akhelōios; Ōkeanos
In this speech of Achilles, the hero is boasting, as expressed by way of the solemn word eukhesthai ‘claim’, I.21.187, about his genealogy as son of Peleus son of Aiakos son of Zeus himself, I.21.188–189. The point of the boast that Achilles makes here is that his genealogy is superior to that of the hero Asteropaios, whom he has just killed, I.21.139–183. This hero of the Trojans, as we learn at I.21.130–143, is the grandson of the river god Axios. Provocatively, Achilles is boasting that the lineage of Zeus, from which he is descended, is superior to the lineage of any river god, I.21.193–199, and, in this context, Achilles mentions by name two of the mightiest river gods: Akhelōios at I.21.194 and Ōkeanos at I.21.195. Even the Ōkeanos, Achilles goes on to say, would be defeated by Zeus in a one-on-one combat of cosmic proportions, I.21.196–199. This whole speech of Achilles is of course a direct provocation to the river Scamander, I.21.136–138. As we saw previously at I.20.74, the name of this river Scamander, Skamandros in Greek, is also the name of the river god who embodies the river, and that is how mortals address the god of the river, as Scamander, while Xanthos is the name that the gods themselves give to him. See the comment on I.20.001–074. Thus the river god Scamander can take it personally that Achilles here is insulting not only the river god Axios, from whom his dead enemy Asteropaios was descended, but also all river gods. And Achilles goes even further: he insults Scamander directly, declaring earlier at I.21.130-132 that the river god had failed to rescue the Trojans- despite the fact that they would customarily offer sacrifices of bulls and stallions to Scamander, I.21.131-132. [[GN 2016.12.16.]]

I.21.194–197

subject heading(s): river gods; Akhelōios; Ōkeanos; athetesis
In his edition of Homer, Zenodotus athetized—that is, he rejected as non-Homeric—the verse at I.21.195, as we know from the scholia for this verse in the Geneva manuscript of the Iliad. (On Zenodotus and on athetesis, see the Inventory of terms and names.) At I.21.195, Ōkeanos is named as the referent of the relative clause at I.21.196–197, where Ōkeanos is described as a cosmic river that has always been the ultimate source for all the water in the world. If this verse at I.21.195 were omitted, then the referent for this description of the ultimate source for all water would shift from the river Ōkeanos to the river Akhelōios, which is named at verse 194. Zenodotus’ rejection of verse 195 was not the result of some arbitrary editorial decision: there is external evidence for an alternative textual tradition of the Iliad where this verse 195 was in fact missing, and there is also external evidence for an alternative oral poetic tradition where Akhelōios rather than Ōkeanos figures as the primal stream that generates all other streams (HC 2§196; also D’Alessio 2004). For example, Pausanias 8.38.10 follows a version of I.21.194–197 that does not include the verse we know as I.21.195. Similarly, at I.18.483–608 in his edition of Homer, Zenodotus athetized the entire sequence of verses that narrated the images displayed on the Shield of Achilles. By dissociating the world of the Shield from the world of Homer, Zenodotus also dissociated the Ōkeanos, the cosmic river that ever encircles and defines the Shield at I.18.607-608. See the comment on I.18.483–608. Unlike Zenodotus, however, Aristarchus in his edition of Homer refrained from athetizing the verses describing the images on the Shield at I.18.483–608 (HC 2§198, with reference to primary and secondary sources). So, he did not athetize the verses about the Ōkeanos at I.18.607–608; nor did he athetize the verse about Ōkeanos at I.21.195 (again, HC 2§198, with reference to primary and secondary sources). Here we have the clearest indication that all these verses were conventionally thought to belong to the Homeric tradition—even in the age of Aristarchus. (On Aristarchus, see the Inventory of terms and names.) Viewing the differences between Zenodotus and Aristarchus in their editorial treatment of Homeric passages involving the Ōkeanos, we can see that Zenodotus was more extreme than Aristarchus in his efforts to purge Homeric poetry from what he considered to be Orphic elements. At the other extreme was Crates, whose edition of Homer did not treat the supposedly Orphic elements as extraneous to Homeric poetry (HC 2§199). For more on Orphic elements in Homeric poetry and on the occasional preservation of such elements in the edition of Homer by Crates, see the comment on I.14.245–246–246a. (On Crates in general, see the Inventory of terms and names.) In view of what what we know, then, about the textual transmission of I.21.194–197, I argue that both the longer version, featuring Akhelōios and Ōkeanos, and the shorter version, featuring only Akhelōios, are authentic multiforms. (On multiform, see the Inventory of terms and names.) And, what is more, Homeric poetry recognizes both versions as multiforms. Here I return to the comment on I.20.001–074, where I noted that Ōkeanos is ostentatiously singled out at I.20.007 as the only river god who did not attend the council of divinities that Zeus had assembled in his divine plan to allow those attending to intervene in the ongoing struggle between the Achaeans and the Trojans. Just as this river god Ōkeanos is ostentatiously present in the story by way of being specially marked as absent at I.20.007, so also now he can continue to be ostentatiously present at I.21.195 by not being marked as absent in the longer version—or he can continue to be present by being ostentatiously absent from the words of insult formulated by Achilles in the shorter version, just as he was absent also from the original council of the divinities. The river god Scamander, by contrast, was not absent but present at that council, and he did intervene in the war, since he was provoked to fight Achilles not only by that hero’s actions when he was slaughtering droves of Trojans in the waters of the river but also by that earlier boast where Achilles claimed to be superior in genealogy to heroes who were descended from river gods. It was in the context of that boast, as I noted in the comment on I.21.184–199, that Achilles had insulted Scamander. But he also insulted Ōkeanos and Akhelōios in one version of I.21.194–197. Or at least, according to the other version, he also insulted Akhelōios. Considering that Achilles was almost destroyed by Scamander, we may infer an even worse outcome for the hero if he had faced in combat not this local river god but rather the cosmic river gods Akhelōios or Ōkeanos. By implication, Akhelōios chose not to intervene, though he was present, whereas Ōkeanos could not intervene, since he was absent. Through its multiformity, then, the Homeric tradition acknowledges both a potential presence and a potential absence for Ōkeanos. [[GN 2016.12.16 via HC 2§§144, 155, 196, 198, 207–213; HPC 356; see also GMP 238.]]

I.21.200–327

subject heading(s): battle between Achilles and the river god Scamander
Outraged by all the carnage caused by Achilles as that hero relentlessly keeps slaughtering droves of Trojans and clogs the river with their bloody corpses, Scamander as the divine embodiment of the river rises up with all his watery might and proceeds to fight Achilles one-on-one. What follows is an epitome from HQ 145–146. We know that ancient Greek narratives about hostile encounters between heroes and river gods can traditionally picture the river as taking the shape of a ferocious beast: a prime example is Archilochus F 286-287 (ed. West), where the hero Hēraklēs fights with the river god Akhelōios, who has taken on the shape of a raging bull. We may contrast the treatment of the fight between the hero Achilles and the river god Scamander here in Iliad 21, where the river Scamander does not take the shape of a bull and is not even theriomorphic: rather, the narrative opts for a variant tradition highlighting the elemental aspect of the river, as water personified, struggling with a hero whose ally, as we are about to see, will be the god Hephaistos in his role as fire personified. It has been argued, partly on the authority of the scholia for I.21.237, that the Archilochean representation is pre-Homeric. But it is enough for now to say that the Archilochean representation stems from a tradition that is independent of Homer. And the Homeric narrative goes out of its way to make an indirect reference to the other tradition. The river god Scamander, in the heat of battle with the hero Achilles, is described at I.21.237 as ‘bellowing like a bull’ (μεμυκὼς ἠύτε ταῦρος). The simile amounts to a conscious acknowledgment of a variant tradition. Finally the river god, after a lengthy struggle, is starting to overwhelm Achilles, and now this main hero of the Iliad finds himself in danger of getting swept away, cut off from all epic memory, in the flooding streams of the enraged Scamander. [[GN 2016.12.16.]]

I.21.328–384

subject heading(s): cosmic conflict between Fire and Water
In order to save the endangered Achilles, Hērā now induces her son Hephaistos to join the fray and to fight actively against the river god Scamander. Since Hephaistos is god of fire, he is the elemental antithesis of Scamander as god of water, that is, as the local god who embodies the principal river that waters the plain of Troy. So now the fight between fiery hero and streaming god escalates into a cosmic conflict between the elements of fire and water. In the end, then, fire wins over water, but now Hērā induces Hephaistos to stop his fight with Scamander. [[GN 2016.12.16 via BA 321–322.]]

I.21.385–514

subject heading(s): comic brawl between pro-Achaean and pro-Trojan divinities; divine burlesque
Following up on the combat between Hephaistos and Scamander, other gods now also join in the fight, and, the next thing you know, the cosmic conflict between the elemental forces of fire and water is transformed into a personalized brawl between divine partisans of Trojans and Achaeans. The personalization intensifies to the point of becoming ludicrous, and, once such a point is reached, the whole scene becomes an exquisite exercise in divine burlesque. As Walter Burkert (1960:132) has observed, however, such a comic form is not innovative but archaizing, and there are numerous parallels to be found in the myths and rituals of Near Eastern civilizations; this observation applies also to the divine burlesque that characterizes other narrative sequences Homeric poetry, most notably in Odyssey 8 and in Iliad 1 as well as here in Iliad 21—and in the Homeric Hymns. [[GN 2016.12.16 via HPC 88–89.]]
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Iliad Rhapsody 22

2016.12.24

The time has come for Hector to die at the hands of Achilles, and his final moments of life are singularly grim. Achilles shows him no mercy, expressing the most brutal thoughts even before he vengefully finishes off the killer of Patroklos. Hector is forced to know in advance, before he loses consciousness to the death blow from Achilles, that his executioner intends to mutilate his corpse instead of allowing for a proper funeral. And the form of this mutilation is particularly horrific and morally shocking: attaching the body of Hector to the back of his chariot, Achilles will drag it around the walls of Troy for all to see the humiliation of his hated enemy. Is there any hope, then, for transcending such degradation? Only divine intervention, in the story yet to be told, could prevent the disfigurement of a heroic body’s beauty in death. But the story of transcendence must wait. For now, the focus is on the horror and the sorrow of a heroic death as seen through the eyes of Hector’s lamenting widow Andromache.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig22
Figure 22. Copperplate etching (1795) by Tommaso Piroli, after a drawing (1793) by John Flaxman. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.22.110

subject heading(s): eü-kleiōs ‘with the genuine glory [kleos] (of poetry)’
Hector is well aware that he may die at the hands of Achilles, but he wishes to die in a way that will assure him of having the kleos ‘glory’ of poetry, and such ‘genuine’ glory, as marked by the prefix - of the adverb eü-kleiōs ‘with the genuine glory [kleos] (of poetry)’, is simultaneously ‘good’ glory, as also in the case of the adjective esthlon ‘genuine, good’ as epithet of kleos at I.18.121. See the comment on I.18.121. The overriding ambition of Hector to achieve the genuine kleos ‘glory’ of poetry is recognized at the end of Andromache’s second lament, I.22.514. See the comment on I.22.514. [[GN 2016.12.23 via BA 29.]]

I.22.122–130

Q&T I.22.126–127 via GMP 200
subject heading(s): proverb of the oak and the rock
Comment postponed until O.19.162–163. [[GN 2016.12.23 via GMP 199–200.]]

I.22.297–305

subject heading(s): Hector’s delusion; antagonism between immortal and mortal
In this speech, Hector finally understands that he has been delusional all along in thinking that he could possibly defeat Achilles. Athena has actively contributed to the hero’s tragic delusion, and now Hector sees clearly that his death at the hands of Achilles is near. Hector’s delusion is already signaled at I.18.243–314, where the assembly of the Trojans approves of Hector’s plan to stay on the offensive against the Achaeans—even after Achilles has already re-entered the Trojan War. The Master Narrator had commented at I.18.311: this was a bad decision by the assembly, to approve the strategy of Hector, since the goddess Athena had taken away from them their senses, phrenes. If the assembly had been sensible, they would have recognized that Hector’s mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ had failed him, I.18.312. As noted in the comment on I.18.243–314 as also in the earlier comments on I.06.286–311, I.07.017–061, I.08.538–541, I.10.043–052, I.11.200, and I.13.825–829, there is a pattern of personal hostility felt by the goddess Athena toward Hector as a hero who aspires to some of the same qualities that Athena herself exemplifies. Like the goddess, Hector can be seen as an exponent of (1) defensive tactics in the warfare of protecting a citadel from sieges and (2) mētis ‘mind, intelligence’—two qualities that were tragically taken away from him when he most needed to have them.

I.22.304

subject heading(s): a-kleiōs ‘without the genuine glory [kleos] (of poetry)’
Hector is now quite certain that he will in fact die at the hands of Achilles, but he wishes all the more to die in a way that will assure him of having the kleos ‘glory’ of poetry, and such ‘genuine’ glory is marked here by the negation of the adverb a-kleiōs ‘without the genuine glory [kleos] (of poetry)’. What he is saying, then, is that he wishes not to die without being assured of the kleos ‘glory’ of poetry. He has already been saying that at I.22.110. See also the comment on I.22.110, where it is already noted that the overriding ambition of Hector to achieve the genuine kleos ‘glory’ of poetry is recognized at the end of Andromache’s second lament, I.22.514. See the comment on I.22.514. [[GN 2016.12.23 via BA 29.]]

I.22.335–354

subject heading(s): mistreating the corpse of Hector; exposition of the corpse to dogs and birds; cremation
After wounding Hector mortally at I.22.326–330, Achilles now declares to his enemy his intention to expose Hector’s corpse as prey for dogs and birds to devour while Patroklos will be getting a proper funeral, I.22.335–336. In response, the dying Hector begs to be spared the horror of exposition to dogs and birds, offering ransom if his sōma ‘body’ is restored safely to his family, I.22.342, who can give him a proper funeral that features the all-important ritual of cremation, I.22.342–343. But Achilles rejects the offer, I.22.344–354, and he declares again his intention to deprive Hector of cremation and to subject his enemy’s corpse to the horrors of exposition, I.22.354. [[GN 2016.12.27.]]

I.22.346–348

Q&T via GMP 300
subject heading(s): an unthinkable wish; thūmos ‘heart’; menos ‘mental power’
Achilles declares to the dying Hector how certain he is about his ghastly intent to expose the corpse of his hated enemy for dogs and birds to devour, I.22.248 (also I.22.354). This certaintly is linked to an even more ghastly uncertainty, expressed as a wish: if only the thūmos and the menos of Achilles, I.22.346, which can be translated here as his ‘heart’ and his ‘mind’ respectively, could bring him to do something that would otherwise be unthinkable, which is, to cut up the body of Hector and eat it raw, I.22.346–347. The use of the two words thūmos and menos here at I.22.346 is relevant to a comparison made earlier by Achilles at I.22.262: Hector is to Achilles as men are to lions. Elsewhere in Homeric diction, Achilles is in fact described as thūmoleōn ‘having the heart of a lion’ at I.07.228. As for the noun menos, which can be translated more literally as ‘mental power’ in contexts where it applies to heroes, it is used at I.20.174 in collocation with thūmos ‘heart’ in describing the impetus of Achilles as an elemental force of nature, comparable to the impetus of an attacking lion, I.20.171. [[GN 2016.12.27 via BA 135–137, 320–321; also GMP 300.]]

I.22.368–375

subject heading(s): mistreating the corpse of Hector
Achilles strips the armor from the corpse of Hector, I.22.368–369, who is lying there naked on the battleground while the companions of Achilles are jeering at him and taking turns at inflicting further wounds on his dead body, I.22.369–375. Such mistreatment of the corpse can be seen as a form of degradation that anticipates an even more horrific form of degradation that is still waiting to happen, which is, the dreaded exposition of Hector’s body to dogs and birds. [[GN 2016.12.27.]]

I.22.395–405

subject heading(s): mistreating the corpse of Hector; dragging of Hector; aeike- ‘unseemly’
Further degradation awaits the naked corpse of Hector. Here at I.22.395–405, Achilles proceeds to subject the body of Hector to an act that is meant to disfigure it, and the Master Narrator hints at his own moral disapproval by referring to this act as aeikea . . . erga ‘things unseemly’, I.22.395. The generalized idea of ugliness as conveyed by aeikea ‘unseemly’ and other such words in Homeric diction is reciprocal: when you do something ugly to someone, making that someone look ugly, you are thereby making yourself look ugly as well. To be specific, I describe here in detail the ugly things that Achilles will now do to Hector. First, he pierces a hole between the ankle and the heel of Hector’s two feet, and then he threads through these two holes a leather strip that he attaches to the back of his chariot, I.22.396–398. Then he will drag the corpse through the dust and grime of the battleground as he mounts the chariot and drives off at top speed, with Hector in tow. At this horrific moment in the Homeric narrative, feelings of pity are prompted by the narrative itself at I.22.401–403. The Master Narrator prompts his listeners by focusing here on Hector’s hair, once so beautifully groomed but now all disheveled, and then on his head, with a face that was once so charming to look at—but now you expect this beautiful head to be mutilated beyond recognition, once it gets dragged over the harsh and scraping surface of the battleground. The Master Narrator concludes ruefully: the god Zeus himself is allowing all this to happen, I.22.403–404. But what is the god really allowing to happen? So far, there has been a mistreatment and even degradation of Hector’s body, yes. But, at least so far, there has been no disfigurement to be seen. As the Master Narrator takes one last look here at the corpse of Hector, the hero’s head is shrouded in a swirl of dust, I.22.405, and so his face is not visible. The next time the Master Narrator looks at the corpse of Hector, Achilles is displaying the body lying face down in the dust, I.23.024–026, near the stand where the dead body of Patroklos is lying in state, obviously face up. For a preview of this later moment, see the comment on 1.23.1–64. Even there at 1.23.1–64, though, it cannot be known whether the body that Achilles is intending to degrade has in fact already been disfigured. Once again, the face is not visible. At a later point, however, at I.23.184–191, it will become clear that the face and the head and in fact the whole body of Hector cannot be disfigured. The body is saved. In the anchor comment at I.23.184–191, there will be an analysis of this vision of salvation for Hector’s body. [[GN 2016.12.27.]]

I.22.437–475

subject heading(s): lead-in for the second lament of Andromache
Although Priam and Hecuba, the parents of Hector, have already seen with horror and sorrow what has happened to him at the hands of Achilles, Andromache does not yet know, I.22.437–439. She is in her private quarters, weaving, I.22.440–441, and she calls out to her handmaidens to prepare a bath for Hector’s expected arrival, I.22.442–444, not knowing what has already happened to him, I.22.445–446. Then and only then does she hear the sound of wailing, I.22.447, and now she starts to feel emotionally and physically undone, as her legs and arms start shaking and her weaving pin drops from her trembling hand, I.22.448. She calls out to her handmaidens, telling them to accompany her to the walls of Troy, so that she may see for herself what is happening, I.22.449–450, and then she starts to express her premonitions about the fate of Hector, which are already becoming a part of the lament that formally gets underway only at I.22.477, lasting all the way to I.22.515. While she expresses her premonitions, she is feeling more and more undone, I.22.450–459. Now her heart is in her throat, I.22.451–452. As she rushes up to the walls of Troy, where she will see what has happened, Andromache is compared to a mainás or ‘maenad’, that is, a frenzied woman possessed by Dionysus, I.22.460. Then, finally, she and her handmaidens get to see the grim scene, I.22.261–265: Hector is dead, and his corpse is being dragged behind the speeding chariot of Achilles. At the ghastly sight, Andromache faints, I.22.466–467, and her elaborate headdress comes undone, falling to the ground, I.22.468–472. The women of her immediate family surround her as she comes out of her swoon, I.22.473–475, and now she begins her lament in earnest, I.22.476–515. [[GN 2016.12.23 via HPC 246, HC 1§205.]]

I.22.440–441

Q&T via MoM 2§69
subject heading(s): pattern-weaving; diplax ‘pattern-woven fabric that folds in two’; porphureē ‘purple’; marmareē ‘gleaming’; huphainein ‘weave’; throna ‘flower patterns, love charms’
Like Helen at I.03.125–128, Andromache is shown here at I.22.440–441 in the act of pattern-weaving. And, like Helen, she is not pictured as singing while weaving: rather, she weaves her song into the web that she pattern-weaves. The song that she weaves into her web is pictured as throna, which can mean ‘flower patterns’ or ‘love charms’. It can be argued that both meanings apply in the present context. A similar argument can be made in the case of the epithet poikilo-thronos applied to the goddess Aphrodite in Sappho Song 1.1: this word can mean either ‘with varied [poikilo-] flower patterns [that are pattern-woven on your robe]’ or ‘with varied [poikilo-] love charms’. See further at MoM 2§76 (also PasP 101n40). Further, at I.22.441, there exists a variant epithet for the web that Andromache weaves: this diplax ‘pattern-woven fabric that folds in two’ is described in some medieval manuscripts as porphureē ‘purple’ but in others as marmareē ‘gleaming’. And we find the same variation of epithets for the web that Helen weaves at I.03.126: this diplax too is described in some medieval manuscripts as porphureē ‘purple’ but in others as marmareē ‘gleaming’. Similarly, the antux ‘rim’ that is being made for the Shield of Achilles at I.18.479 is described as triplax ‘threefold’ and marmareē ‘gleaming’ at I.18.480. In Eustathius Commentary on the Iliad vol. 4 p. 218 lines 14–17, the commentator draws attention to the morphological parallelism of triplax ‘threefold’ with diplax ‘twofold’. So, Eustathius recognizes here a crossover between the artistic worlds of metalwork and weaving. See the comment on I.18.479–480. See also the comment on I.09.130, where it is argued that the craft of pattern-weaving by Aeolian women is linked with the power of the craft of Homeric poetry to make contact with the Bronze Age. Finally, in the case of the two textual variants porphureē ‘purple’ and marmareē ‘gleaming’ as applied to the web of Helen at I.03.126 and to the web of Andromache at I.22.441, we learn from the scholia for I.03.126 that porphureē ‘purple’ happened to be the reading preferred by all three major Alexandrian editors of Homer—Zenodotus, Aristophanes, Aristarchus (see also HPC 274nn3, 4). [[GN 2016.12.22 via MoM 2§§69–81, 91; see also HPC 274, 281, 302, 358n81; HC 1§203.]]

I.22.441

subject heading(s): en-passein ‘sprinkle’ (by way of pattern-weaving)
This word en-passein ‘sprinkle’ conveys a metaphor for the process of pattern-weaving. As we learn from the AT scholia for I.22.441, (en-)passein in the Cypriote dialect means poikillein ‘pattern-weave’. Metaphorically, Andromache is sprinkling flowers as love charms into her story by way of pattern-weaving floral patterns into a web that tells her story of love. By extension, the metaphorical world of pattern-weaving applies also to the process of making the kind of poetry that tells about the pattern-weaving of Andromache. [[GN 2016.12.23 via HPC 273–275; see also HC 1§203.]]

I.22.444

subject heading(s): sorrows of Andromache
The wording here at I.22.444 is part of the lead-up to the lament of Andromache, which formally gets underway only at I.22.476. And the wording in this part of the lead-up, I.22.444, is prefigured by the wording of Zeus himself at I.17.207 in expressing the Will of Zeus regarding the sorrows of Andromache. In other words, the narrative arc represented by the Will of Zeus extends from the wording of the god’s plan all the way to the wording of the widow’s lament, I.22.476–515. See the comment on I.17.194–214. [[GN 2016.12.23 via HC 1§203.]]

I.22.460–474

subject heading(s): Andromache as maenad; mainás ‘maenad’; krēdemnon ‘headdress’
At I.22.460, just as she is about to see with her own eyes the corpse of Hector, the distraught Andromache is already pictured as īsē ‘equal’ to a mainás ‘maenad’ (μαινάδι ἴση), that is, she is being compared to a woman possessed by Dionysus. Earlier, in an analogous context at I.06.389, Andromache is pictured as ‘looking like a woman possessed’ (μαινομένῃ ἐϊκυῖα) when she rushes toward the walls of Troy to see for herself the fate of the Trojans on the battlefield. In the case of the present context, I.22.460, the comparison of Andromache to a maenad is relevant to the undoing of her hair when her elaborate headdress falls from her head at the moment when she goes into a swoon, I.22.468–472. The undoing of a maenad’s hair is a traditional Dionysiac theme, as we see for example in a painting on a vase made in Athens sometime in the decade of 480–470 BCE (Munich, Antikensammlungen no. 2416): this painting shows a maenad transfixed by the gaze of Dionysus, who is looking directly into her eyes, and the maenad’s loose strands of flowing curls of hair are seen cascading down from behind her ears at either side of her head garlanded with the ivy of Dionysus. As we look at the maenad’s hair coming undone, we see a distinctive sign of her starting to lose control to Dionysus, of becoming possessed by Dionysus, of surrendering the self to Dionysus. See also Nagy 2007c:252–253, citing further examples from the visual arts. Andromache looks similarly maenadic when she falls into a swoon, I.22.466–467, while at the same time letting her elaborate headdress fall from her head to the ground, I.22.468–470. What follows is an epitome of further analysis in Nagy 2007c:249–251. In the dramatic context of Andromache’s swoon, I draw attention to the evocative word krēdemnon ‘headdress’, I.22.470. It refers to the overall ornamental hair-binding that holds together three separate kinds of ornamental hair-binding that serve to keep Andromache’s hair in place, under control, I.22.469: in this verse, the three separate terms for ornamental hair-bindings are ampux ‘frontlet’, kekruphalos ‘snood’, and anadesmē ‘headband’. The overall hair-binding or ‘headdress’ that keeps it all in place is the krēdemnon, I.22.470. Similarly, Varro (On the Latin language 5.130) speaks of three separate terms for ornamental hair-bindings traditionally used by Roman matrons: lanea ‘woolen ribbon’, reticulum ‘net-cap’ or ‘snood’, and capital ‘headband’. To these three words Varro (7.44) adds a fourth, tutulus (derived from the adjective tutus ‘providing safety’), which seems to be an overall term for the generic headdress worn by brides and Vestal Virgins as well as matrons. When Andromache lets drop from her head her elaborate krēdemnon ‘headdress’, I.22.470, thus causing her hair to come completely undone, she is ritually miming her complete loss of control over her own fate as linked with the fate of her husband: we see here a ritually eroticized gesture that expresses her extreme sexual vulnerability as linked with the violent death and degradation of her husband. For Andromache to do violence to her own krēdemnon is to express the anticipated violence of her future sexual humiliation at the hands of the enemy. Pointedly, the goddess Aphrodite herself had given this krēdemnon to Andromache on her wedding day, I.22.470–471 (further analysis by Dué 2006:4, 78). Another example of such ritual miming is the moment in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, verses 40–42, when Demeter tears off her krēdemnon in reacting to the violation of her daughter Persephone by Hādēs. The explicit association of the krēdemnon with Aphrodite reveals its erotic properties. The undoing of a woman’s hair, caused by the undoing of her krēdemnon, produces what I will call an Aphrodisiac effect. So long as a woman’s krēdemnon is in place, her sexuality is under control just as her hair is under control. When the krēdemnon is out of place, however, her sexuality threatens to get out of control. This ritual symbolism is part of a “cultural grammar of hair” (Levine 1995:95). Such a “grammar” helps explain why the virginal Nausikaa would not think of going out in public without first putting on her krēdemnon, O.06.100. She won’t leave home without wearing her headdress. Her gesture here is hardly a signal of being married. Clearly, she is unmarried. So, we see that unmarried women as well as married women like Andromache wear the krēdemnon in public. The gesture is simply a signal of propriety. Such a “grammar” is in fact typical of the Mediterranean world in general. A striking point of comparison is the figure of the sotah ‘errant woman’ in Hebrew Bible traditions, who is marked by the ritual dishevelment of her hair (Numbers 5:11–31). In this case, the ‘errant woman’ is a foil for the properly married woman. [[GN 2016.12.23 via Nagy 2007c:249–251; see also HPC 246, 249; also HC 1§205.]]

I.22.476–515

anchor comment on three laments by Andromache, part 2
subject heading(s): amblēdēn ‘making a start’; [góos ‘lament’;] goân ‘make lament’; epi–stenakhesthai ‘wail in response’
In the first lament of Andromache for Hector, as we saw in the anchor comment at I.06.407–439, she was already lamenting the death of Hector before he was even dead. As for her second lament, here at I.22.476–515, she sings it when she sees the corpse of Hector for the first time. As for her third lament, to be featured at I.24.723–746, Andromache will sing it on the occasion of Hector’s funeral. The second lament here is in some ways a preview of the third, which as we will see is technically the most formal of Andromache’s three laments. The beginning of Andromache’s second lament is signaled here at I.22.476 by the technical poetic term amblēdēn, an adverb that means ‘making a start [in performance]’ just as the adverb hupoblēdēn at I.01.292 means ‘continuing [in response]’. As Andromache starts to sing her second lament, the word that refers here at I.22.476 to the form of her singing is the verb goân ‘make lament’, corresponding to the noun góos ‘lament’. We have already seen the noun góos at I.18.051, with reference to the lament sung by Thetis for the future death of Achilles. This form of lament, góos, is conventionally sung by female members of the bereaved family, and there will be more to say about this form in the comment on I.24.720–776. For the moment, however, I focus on what happens after Andromache has finished singing her lament at I.22.476–514. Now the Trojan women who are attending her respond to her lament by continuing it with their own lament, in antiphonal performance, at I.22.515: ‘So she [= Andromache] spoke, and the women wailed in response’ (ὣς ἔφατο κλαίουσ’, ἐπὶ δὲ στενάχοντο γυναῖκες). The antiphonal refrain here at I.22.515 is signaled by the verb epi–stenakhesthai ‘wail in response’, matching the antiphonal refrain at I.19.301 in response to the lament of Briseis. See the anchor comment at I.19.282–302. So, the second lament of Andromache, as we see it come to a conclusion at I.22.515, is a classic example of a group performance as rounded out by way of an antiphonal refrain. For more on such group performance, see again the anchor comment on I.19.282–302, where it is emphasized that Briseis the Aeolian is featured as a distinctly choral personality, analogous to the personality of Sappho herself in the choral songs attributed to that Aeolian prima donna of a later era. See also anchor comment at I.06.407–439 on: three laments by Andromache, part 1; and anchor comment at I.24.723–746 on: three laments by Andromache, part 3. [[GN 2016.12.19 via HC 4§262; HPC 246–247.]]

1.22.483

subject heading(s): penthos ‘grief’
In the lament of Andromache, she refers here at I.22.483 to the penthos ‘grief’ that the death of Hector has caused her. This word penthos ‘grief’ is a programmatic marker of lament, as we have already seen at I.09.562–564, where a songbird is pictured as singing a song of lament: that songbird is the halkúōn ‘halcyon’, described in that context as polupenthēs ‘having much grief’, I.09.563. See the relevant comment on I.09.561–564. [[GN 2016.12.18.]]

I.22.500

subject heading(s): Astyanax
On the naming of the son of Hector, Astyanax, see the comment on I.22.506–507. [[GN 2016.12.23.]]

I.22.506–507

subject heading(s): name of Hector; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); ekhein ‘hold, protect’; Astyanax; antagonism between immortal and mortal
Here at I.22.506–507, the meaning of the name of Hector is made explicit. As noted already in the comment on I.06.402–403, the first of two names given to the son of Hector, Astyanax [Astuanax], I.06.403, means ‘king [anax] of the city [astu]’. This meaning is relevant to the heroic role of the father as protecting a citadel from sieges. This role is expressed by the “speaking name” (nomen loquens) of Hector, Héktōr, which is an agent noun meaning ‘one who holds [ekhein]’. The translation ‘hold’ here conveys the sense of ‘uphold, protect, guard’: so Hector’s name destines him to be the ‘protector’ of the city of Troy. See the comment on I.05.473–474. The name of Hector is relevant to the fact that Hector’s son is named after him. More than that, Hector’s son is named after the primary function of Hector as signaled by the father’s name, and the rationale for that naming is made explicit at I.22.506–507: as Andromache says to her dead husband here, Astyanax is named Astyanax or ‘king of the city’ precisely because his father was protector of the city. Here is the wording at I.22.507: ‘because you [= Héktōr], all by yourself, protected [eruesthai] for them [= the Trojans] the gates and the walls [of their city]’ (οἶος γάρ σφιν ἔρυσο πύλας καὶ τείχεα μακρά). We see at work here the mythological convention of naming a son after a primary heroic trait of the father, as in the case of the son of Ajax, whose name Eurusakēs means ‘the one with the wide shield [sakos]’; this meaning is made explicit in the wording of Sophocles Ajax 574–578. In the case of Hector’s name as Hék-tōr or ‘protector’, there is a serious danger portended by his function as protector of the citadel of Troy: this heroic function of Hector makes him a rival of the goddess Athena in her own divine function as protector of the same citadel of Troy. See the comment on I.06.286–311, especially with reference to the epithet of Athena as erusi-ptolis ‘protector of the citadel [p(t)olis]’ at I.06.305. [[GN 2016.12.20 via BA 144–147.]]

I.22.514

subject heading(s): kleos ‘glory’
Reaching the end of her lament for Hector, Andromache declares ruefully: all that Hector cares about is whether the men and women of Troy will in the end think of him as a hero who deserves to have the kleos ‘glory’ of poetry. Even in defeat, Hector hopes to be worthy of epic. See already the comment on I.22.110. [[GN 2016.12.20 via BA 111.]]

I.22.515

Q&T via HPC 247
subject heading(s): lament; lament by Andromache; group performance of lament; antiphonal refrain
The lament of Andromache, as we see it come to a conclusion here at I.22.515, is a classic example of a group performance as rounded out here at I.22.515 by way of an antiphonal refrain. For more on such group performance, see the comment on I.19.282–302, where Briseis the Aeolian is featured as a distinctly choral personality, analogous to the personality of Sappho herself in the choral songs attributed to that Aeolian prima donna of a later era. [[GN 2016.12.17 via HPC 247.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 23

2016.12.30

The funeral that Achilles arranges here for Patroklos in the Iliad is in some ways a preview of the funeral that the Achaeans will arrange for Achilles himself beyond the time-frame of the Iliad. A high point of the funeral in Iliad 23 is a spectacular cremation, meant by Achilles as a perfect tribute to his dearest friend Patroklos. But the cremation of Patroklos is far from perfect: it is in fact polluted, and the pollution will make Achilles look bad, at least for the moment. The polluted thoughts of the hero, as evidenced by his dragging the corpse of Hector behind his speeding chariot, will drive him to extremes that will challenge the cosmic order, But the Master Narrator of the Iliad will remedy the pollution, and the remedy will take the form of actually narrating the grim story. In the process of this narration, a great lesson will be learned about life, death, and a hoped-for recovery of life.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig23
Figure 23. Achilles dragging the body of Hector. Copperplate etching (1795) by Tommaso Piroli, after a drawing (1793) by John Flaxman. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.23.001–064

Q&T 1.23.58–64 via H24H 8§6
subject heading(s): preparing for the funeral of Patroklos; dysfunctionality in myth vs. functionality in ritual; post-heroic age
While the Trojans are mourning Hector in Troy, I.23.001, Achilles and his fellow Achaeans have all returned to the ships beached at the Hellespont, I.23.001–002, and the hero now calls on the Myrmidons, whose leader he is, to perform special funerary rituals in mourning for Patroklos. The Myrmidon warriors are to mourn Patroklos while driving their chariots around his dead body three times, I.23.007–009, I.23.013–014, after which they are to unharness the chariots and join in a funeral feast arranged by Achilles. The ritual act of mourning while driving, as performed by the Myrmidons, is described overall as a góos ‘lament’, I.23.010, for which Achilles himself is the principal performer, as signaled by the verb arkhein ‘lead off [in performing]’, I.23.012. The words of his lead-off lament are quoted at I.23.019–023. In this lament, Achilles addresses the dead Patroklos and repeats to him at I.23.20–23 the two deeds that he had promised at I.18.334–337 to perform before the funeral could take place. First, Achilles had promised to bring back, together with the dead body of Hector, the armor that Hector had stripped from the dead body of Patroklos, and now he reiterates that promise, adding two ghastly details about the dead body of Hector: he has dragged the corpse behind his chariot and intends to feed it to the dogs, I.23.021. And, second, Achilles had also promised to slaughter twelve captive Trojan youths on the funeral pyre of Patroklos and then to cremate their bodies together with the body of Patroklos himself, I.23.022–23. After repeating these promises to Patroklos within the wording of his quoted lament, I.23.020–023, Achilles now prepares for the funeral feast—but not before displaying the dead body of Hector, lying face down in the dust, I.23.024–026, next to the stand where the dead body of Patroklos is lying in state. Then, after the Myrmidons unharness their chariots, I.23.026–027, they sit down next to the ship of Achilles in order to partake of the feast, I.23.028, and the slaughter of the sacrificial animals to be eaten at the funeral feast gets underway, I.23.029–034. Nothing is said here about cooking the meat. Instead, the last thing said about this funeral feast of the Myrmidons is that the blood flowing from the mass slaughter of sacrificial animals is streaming all around the corpse of Patroklos, I.23.034. It seems as if the Myrmidons were feasting on raw meat, just as their leader Achilles had expressed the ghastly desire to cut up the mortally wounded Hector and to eat him raw, I.22.346–347. See the comment on I.22.346–348. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Achaeans come to the ship of Achilles and persuade him, with some difficulty, to leave behind the funeral feast of the Myrmidons and to come along with them to the headquarters of Agamemnon, I.23.035–038, where the order is given to prepare for Achilles some hot water for him to wash off all the blood that still covers him, I.23.039–041. Evidently, Agamemnon is preparing for an all-Achaean feast to be attended by Achilles, who is now expected to wash up before the feast begins. And it is only at this moment that we see for the first time that Achilles is still covered in gore. The blood of all the Trojans he has slaughtered on the battlefield is still on him and with him. Already before, Achilles must have been covered in gore when he had hosted the feast for that sub-set of Achaeans who were his own people, the Myrmidons. Back then, neither Achilles nor any of his Myrmidons had washed off the human blood of the killing fields before the shedding of the animal blood at the sacrifice that preceded their funeral feast. But now, for the all-Achaean feast, Achilles is expected to wash up. Not surprisingly, Achilles refuses, declaring at I.23.043–044 that he will remain covered with gore and will refrain from washing off the blood until he performs three sacred tasks. He now names these tasks at I.23.045–046: first, he will cremate Patroklos, I.23.045, and, second, he will make a tumulus that will be a sēma ‘tomb’ for Patroklos, I.23.045, and, third, he will at an earlier point cut off a long lock of his own hair as a sacrifice to be burned on the funeral pyre of his friend, I.23.046. That said, however, Achilles goes on to urge Agamemnon to continue with the plan for an all-Achaean feast, I.23.048—provided that the Achaeans follow up on their nighttime feasting by going out next morning in order to gather firewood for constructing the funeral pyre that will be used for the cremation of Patroklos, I.23.049–053. The Achaeans proceed to indulge in their feasting and then return to their shelters for a night’s sleep, I.23.054–058, while Achilles goes off without having had anything to eat, mourning Patroklos, and he finds a solitary spot on the beach, where he lies down, exhausted, and falls into a deep sleep, I.23.059–064. What will happen next, at I.23.071-076, is the apparition of the spirit of Patroklos. Before commenting on the apparition scene, however, I must pause to note that the narrative has already indicated five salient points of dysfunctionality in the preparations of Achilles for the funeral of Patroklos:
Point 1. The intent of Achilles to slaughter twelve captive Trojan youths as a human sacrifice is understood to be ritually incorrect. See the comment on I.23.163–183. And the fact that he will go through with it and will actually perform the deed will in retrospect be understood to be morally incorrect as well. See the comment on I.23.163–183. In myth, human sacrifice is a pollution, both ritually and morally. And such pollution is typical of what can perhaps best be described as a traditional pattern of dysfunctionality in myth—as opposed to functionality in ritual, where animal sacrifice is understood to be a salvific replacement of human sacrifice. As we see from the myth of Pelops as narrated in Pindar’s Olympian 1, for example, the slaughtering of Pelops is a dysfunctional sacrifice in the heroic world of myth, but it becomes an aetiology for the functional sacrifice of rams in the post-heroic world of ritual as practiced in Olympia during the archaic and Classical periods and beyond (detailed analysis in PH 116–135). In this connection, I offer a working definition of aetiology (background in PH 118, 125–130; 141–142; 386; 395–397; also Nagy 2011a§68): an aetiology focuses on a foundational catastrophe in the mythologized past that explains and thus motivates continuing success in the ritualized present and future.
Point 2. The dragging of Hector’s corpse by Achilles is likewise understood to be ritually incorrect, and such incorrectness is in this case noted by Homeric poetry, which signals also the moral incorrectness of mistreating a corpse. See the comment on I.23.163–183. Here I invoke a general principle at work in myths about ancient Greek heroes: whenever heroes commit deeds that clearly violate moral codes, such deeds are not condoned by the heroic narrative. See H24H 1§52, where I work out an analysis of such a principle, to be summarized in this formulation: the pollution of a hero in myth is relevant to the worship of that hero in ritual. Especially relevant to this formulation, as we will see in later comments, are myths that aetiologize rituals of seasonally recurring athletic competitions: the ritual of competing in an athletic event is thought to purify the original pollution of the hero in myth (analysis in H24H 7a§14).
Point 3. The intent of Achilles to feed Hector’s corpse to dogs and birds is clearly understood to be a blatant abomination both ritually and morally. In this case, however, Achilles will never get to perform such a horrific deed.
Point 4. There is something wrong about the funeral feast of the Myrmidons as arranged by Achilles. The blood of sacrifice is not offset here by any mention of cooking the meat to be eaten.
Point 5. Achilles is ritually incorrect in not purifying himself of human blood before he undertakes the three ritually correct actions of cutting his hair, cremating the body of Patroklos, and entombing his bones.
All five of these points, as we will see retrospectively in the anchor comment at I.23.184–191, are examples of pollution. [[GN 2016.12.27.]]

I.23.012

subject heading(s): arkhein ‘lead off [in performing]’
This word arkhein ‘lead off [in performing]’ refers here to the performance of lament as song correlated with dance, and Achilles is the lead performer here. The stylized dance that is correlated here with the singing of lament includes the choreographed parading of Myrmidons riding in their chariots around the corpse of Patroklos. [[GN 2016.12.29 via BA 112, 117.]]

I.23.016

subject heading(s): potheîn ‘long for’; hero cult; cult hero
The Myrmidons, led by Achilles, ‘feel a longing’ for Patroklos as they mourn him here in lament, and this ‘longing’ is expressed by way of the verb potheîn ‘long for, desire’. The wording here evokes the feelings of those who worship cult heroes, as we see especially at I.02.703 and I.02.709: see the comments on I.02.695–709 and also on I.17.685–690. [[GN 2016.12.29.]]

I.23.017

subject heading(s): ex-arkhein ‘lead off [in performing]’; góos ‘lament’
The word ex-arkhein ‘lead off [in performing]’ refers here refers to the same performance that was signaled at I.23.07, and Achilles remains the lead performer of lament as sung and danced by the Myrmidons. The specific form of ‘lament’ here is specified as góos. [[GN 2016.12.29 via BA 112, 116.]]

I.23.045

subject heading(s): sēma ‘tomb’
The sēma ‘tomb’ that will be made for Patroklos is visualized as a tumulus. [[GN 2016.12.29 via PH 209; GMP 215.]]

I.23.046–047

Q&T via BA 81
subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’; a man of constant sorrow
The word akhos ‘grief’ here at I.23.047, indicative of lament, is embedded in the actual words of lamentation performed by Achilles at I.23.043–053. The grief that Achilles feels for Patroklos, he says, will never go away: Achilles is now a man of constant sorrow. See especially the comment on I.18.015–073; also the comment on I.09.249–250. [[GN 2016.12.29 via BA 81, 94, 112, 117; HTL 132.]]

I.23.065–092

Q&T I.23.065–092 via H24H 8§6
subject heading(s): apparition of psūkhē ‘spirit’ of Patroklos; cremation; entombment
At I.23.065, the psūkhē ‘spirit’ of the dead Patroklos appears to Achilles while the hero sleeps. Achilles is instructed by the ghostly spirit of Patroklos to cremate his corpse, I.23.070–071 / I.23.076, and to construct a tomb that will be shared by the two heroes after Achilles too is dead, I.23.083–084, 091–092. [[GN 2016.12.20 via GMP 89, 226.]]

I.23.071–076

anchor comment on what the psūkhē ‘spirit’ of Patroklos really wants for itself—and for Achilles
subject heading(s): psūkhē ‘spirit’; cremation; entombment; Ōkeanos; Hādēs; Gates of Hādēs; Gates of the Sun
On the surface, what the psūkhē ‘spirit’ of Patroklos wants is a proper funeral for the corpse of Patroklos. But what does the psūkhē really want for itself? I ask the question this way in order to highlight a basic fact about the use of the word psūkhē in Homeric diction: as a disembodied conveyor of identity after death, the psūkhē is distinct from the body once the body is no longer alive. In view of this distinction, the answer to the question I just posed is partly evident—but also partly mystical. Here is my formulation of the answer: what the psūkhē really wants for itself is to be reunited with the body, and such a reunion must be achieved by way of a proper funeral. The part that is mystical about this formulation is the fact that the very idea of a proper funeral is a ritual construct that fits the mythological construct of the psūkhē. The ritual must be done right, and then the myth of the psūkhē will turn out to be right. So, it is imperative for Achilles to get things right in preparing a proper funeral for Patroklos. And how will Achilles make sure that the funeral of Patroklos is a proper funeral? Most important, there must be a ritually correct entombment, I.23.071, and a vital part of this entombment will be the actual cremation of the corpse, I.23.070–071 / I.23.076. Before cremation of the corpse, the psūkhē as a ‘spirit’ that used to belong to the body will be haunting the world of the living, but, after cremation, there will be no more haunting, I.23.075–076. So, what will happen to the psūkhē after cremation of the body? It is often assumed by readers of these verses at I.23.071-076 that the psūkhē as ‘spirit’, once the body is cremated, will now simply join the other psūkhai or ‘spirits’ who are already in Hādēs, and that will be the end of that. But the original Greek wording does not say that. In my opinion, what it really says gets misunderstood. What follows is a reinterpretation of I.23.071–076, divided into ten points:
Point 1. I start with evidence from Homeric poetry about the underworld known as Hādēs. I argue that Hādēs is a zone of transition for the psūkhē ‘spirit’ as it journeys from the Far West to the Far East. In this mystical zone, psūkhai can get lost along the underworld pathways leading from west to east, and then they will wander around, but they can also find the way, and, from the very start, the right way can be achieved by way of cremation. There will be much more to say about Hādēs in comments on the Odyssey. For now, however, it is enough to say at least this much more on the basis of the internal evidence of I.23.071–076: without a proper cremation and entombment, the psūkhē of Patroklos will not achieve safe passage through Hādēs. I make a special point here of saying through Hādēs and not to Hādēs. As I will argue further in comments on the Odyssey, Homeric poetry treats Hādēs as something that is transitional, not eschatological. In the Iliadic passage that is now being analyzed, I.23.071–076, even the psūkhē ‘spirit’ is something that is ultimately transitional in its own right.
Point 2. At I.23.073, it is said that the psūkhē ‘spirit’ of Patroklos is not allowed by the other psūkhai ‘spirits’ to join them ‘on-the-other-side-of [huper] the river [potamos]’ (ὑπὲρ ποταμοῖο), and that is why it is then said at I.23.074 that the psūkhē of Patroklos is left to wander all over the realm of Hādēs. The point is, the psūkhē of Patroklos is already in Hādēs, wandering around, and thus his psūkhē is not being excluded from Hādēs by the other psūkhai. Rather, as I argue here, the psūkhē of Patroklos is being excluded from joining other psūkhai who are no longer wandering around in Hādēs.
Point 3. And why are these other psūkhai no longer wandering around? It is because they have already found the way to get to the other side of the potamos ‘river’, I.23.073. And what is ‘the river’ here? In terms of Homeric poetry, this river must be the world-enclircling fresh-water stream named Ōkeanos, which as we saw in the comment on I.07.421–423 is a boundary delimiting light from darkness, wakefulness from sleep, life from death. The sun rises from the Ōkeanos at sunrise in the Far East, as we see at I.07.421–423, just as it sets into it at sunset in the Far West, as we see at I.08.485–486. And the movement of the sun both into and out from the Ōkeanos in the Far West and in the Far East respectively is envisioned as a cosmic model for an alternation between darkness and light, between sleep and awakening, between death and revival from death.
Point 4. This model is most relevant to what is meant when the psūkhē ‘spirit’ of Patroklos says at I.23.073 that the other psūkhai ‘spirits’ do not allow his spirit to join them ‘on-the-other-side-of [huper] the river [potamos]’ (ὑπὲρ ποταμοῖο). In this case, I argue, the circular cosmic river Ōkeanos is imagined as separating the dead from the living in the Far East, where the sun rises, not in the Far West, where the sun sets.
Point 5. Correspondingly, the pulai ‘gates’ of Hādēs mentioned at I.23.071 are situated in the Far East, where the sun rises, not only in the Far West, where the sun sets. In support of this interpretation, I note that the pulai ‘gates’ of Hādēs at I.23.071 can be seen as a by-form of the pulai ‘gates’ of Hēlios the Sun, mentioned at I.24.012. See also the anchor comment at I.08.367 on: Gates of Hādēs. (Further analysis in GMP 225–226.)
Point 6. If, then, the Gates of Hādēs are the Gates of the Sun, then I can make more sense of what the psūkhē ‘spirit’of Patroklos is saying at I.23.071, where this spirit expresses its desire to pass through the Gates of Hādēs. I argue that the psūkhē of Patroklos here is seeking passage through the gates of Hādēs that are situated in the Far East, where the sun rises, not through the gates that are situated in the Far West, where the son sets. See also the anchor comment at I.08.367 on: Gates of Hādēs.
Point 7. Similarly, the psūkhē ‘spirit’ of Patroklos seeks to cross the world-encircling cosmic river in the Far East, not in the Far West. Whereas the other side of the river in the Far West is the zone of Hādēs from the standpoint of the living, the other side of the same river in the Far East is a mystical place beyond the zone of Hādēs—from the standpoint of the dead who are still wandering around in Hādēs but who seek a renewal of life. As the psūkhē of Patroklos says at I.23.074, his spirit is still wandering around in the zone of Hādēs. And that is because his body has not yet received the ritual of cremation, which as we will now see will lead to a recovery of life after death.
Point 8. The scenario that I have put together here is based not only on the internal evidence of the wording at I.23.071–076 and elsewhere in Homeric poetry. It is based also on the comparative evidence of cognate Indic traditions centering on rituals of cremation as correlated with myths about a recovery of life after death. There is a detailed survey in the essay “Patroklos, Concepts of Afterlife, and the Indic Triple Fire,” GMP 85–121 (the essentials can be found at pp. 87, 115–121). In terms of Indic ritual and myth, cremation leads to a reunion: once the cremation takes place, the spirit without body and the body without spirit can now be reunited, and, this way, the dead can now be revived after death. Further, such a revival results in the reunion of the revived dead with the already revived pítṛ-s or ‘ancestors’. It is most relevant to note here that the Indic word pítṛ- ‘ancestor’ is cognate with the Greek word Patro- in the name Patrokléēs, which means ‘he who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors [pateres]’: thus the role of Patroklos in instructing Achilles about the vital importance of cremation is in and of itself a deeply traditional theme.
Point 9. On the basis of both the internal and the comparative evidence that I have assembled so far, my formulation about the the ritual of cremation as visualized in myth can now be extended. In this extended formulation, I start with a scenario that reconstructs the initial phase of what happens to the psūkhē after the body is successfully cremated:
After a successful cremation, the psūkhē will cease wandering around in Hādēs and will now find its way out. The psūkhē will cross the world-encircling river in the Far East and pass through the Gates of Hādēs, which are the Gates of the Sun, just as the sun passes through these same gates when it rises at sunrise.
Point 10. I now continue with a scenario that reconstructs the next phase of what happens to the psūkhē after the body is successfully cremated. In this case, I find no internal evidence in Homeric poetry, and so I turn to the comparative evidence of Vedic poetry in Indic traditions, which show at least the broad outlines. From here on, since I now rely primarily on the Indic comparanda, I will no longer say psūkhē but simply ‘spirit’, which can serve as an adequate translation for both the Greek word and the corresponding Indic word, mánas-. This Indic word refers to the breath of life that leaves the body at death and is destined to be mystically reintegrated with the body after cremation. That said, I resume the scenario:
After finding its way out of the lower world, the sprit follows the path of the sun and joins the rising sun at sunrise, ascending into the skies and seeking to be reunited there with the body. Meanwhile, the body has already been vaporized by way of cremation, and its fumes ascend into the skies, seeking to be reunited there with the spirit.
Such a prospective reunion of spirit and body is the secret of immortalization after death, and the key to that secret is the ritual of cremation. [[GN 2016.12.26 via GMP 85–121, 226.]]

I.23.090

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; therapontes (plural) of Ares; endukéōs ‘continuously, uninterruptedly’
The spirit of the dead Patroklos is recounting how Peleus had entrusted Patroklos as a therapōn to Achilles. On the adverb endukéōs ‘continuously, uninterruptedly’, see the anchor comment at O.07.256. Here the adverb may be highlighting an idea of continuity, linked with the ritual process of serving as a therapōn. [[GN 2017.05.30.]]

I.23.093–098

subject heading(s): the dreaming Achilles responds to the apparation; cremation; entombment; cutting of hair; mistreating the corpse of Hector
Achilles responds to the apparition in his dream, I.23.094–096, declaring to the spirit of Patroklos that he intends to do exactly what this spirit has instructed him to do. But the hero’s declaration here is interwoven with a question that he asks of the spirit: why do you appear to me and instruct me to do things that I already intended to do? This interwoven question at I.23.094–096 is most curious, since it is patently unjustifiable. I argue that the things intended by Achilles fail in more than one way to match the things intended by the psūkhē of Patroklos. There are two main reasons for making this argument:
First, Achilles intends to do more than the two things that Patroklos instructs him to do. As we saw at I.23.045–046, Achilles intends not only to cremate Patroklos and to entomb him but also to cut off a long lock of his own hair as a sacrifice to be burned on the funeral pyre of his friend. And he intends to do even more than that. As we saw in the lament of Achilles where he addressed the dead Patroklos, he repeats to him there at I.23.20–23 the two deeds that he had promised at I.18.334–337 to perform before the funeral could take place: first, Achilles had promised to bring back, together with the dead body of Hector, the armor that Hector had stripped from the dead body of Patroklos, and, second, he had also promised to slaughter twelve captive Trojan youths on the funeral pyre of Patroklos and then to cremate their bodies together with the body of Patroklos himself. And there is even more: as we have seen at I.22.326–330, at I.22.354, and at I.22.248 (together with I.22.354), Achilles intends to expose the body of Hector to be devoured by dogs and birds, after having degraded the corpse by dragging it behind his chariot. But the fact is, the spirit of Patroklos had not spoken to Achilles about any of these other things.
And here is the second reason for arguing that the interwoven question of Achilles at I.23.094–096 is not justifiable: the fact is, Achilles had never spoken about any intent to have himself entombed together with Patroklos when the time comes for his own funeral. The idea of such a double entombment came from the psūkhē of Patroklos. [[GN 2016.12.27.]]

I.23.099–107

subject heading(s): the awakened Achilles reacts to the apparition; psūkhē ‘spirit’
While Achilles is still dreaming, he asks Patroklos to embrace him, I.23.097–098. With these words, Achilles finishes his speech to the spirit of Patroklos. Now the Master Narrator can take over, and he narrates how Achilles, having finished speaking to Patroklos, then reaches out to embrace him, I.23.099. But no contact can be made, since Patroklos is merely a psūkhē ‘spirit’, I.23.100, which recedes like a wisp of smoke and disappears beneath the earth, I.23.100–101. Now Achilles is jolted out of sleep, and he reflects ruefully on what he just experienced, I.23.101–106: this psūkhē ‘spirit’—he now refers to Patroklos this way at I.23.104 and I.23.106—is just an eidōlon ‘likeness’ of Patroklos and is devoid of any phrenes ‘senses’, and yet he looked just like the real Patroklos, I.23.107. The surprise expressed by Achilles here in reacting to the realistic appearance of Patroklos recalls an earlier point in the narrative: when the psūkhē of Patroklos is first sighted at I.23.065, already in that first moment of its apparition, it is pictured as life-size, I.23.066—so, it is not a miniature version of the self. In other traditions, as reflected in vase-paintings dated mostly to the late sixth century BCE, the size of such a psūkhē ‘spirit’ is in fact miniaturized. See the comment on I.24.014–121. [[GN 2016.12.27.]]

I.23.108–126

subject heading(s): firewood for the funeral pyre
Now that the spirit of Patroklos has departed and Achilles has reacted to the evanescence of this spirit, morning comes. It is time for the Achaeans to gather the firewood that will be used to construct the funeral pyre for the cremation of Patroklos. [[GN 2016.12.28.]]

I.23.113

anchor comment on Meriones as therapōn of Idomeneus
subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
Meriones is consistently marked as the therapōn of Idomeneus, just as Patroklos is the therapōn of Achilles. Though Meriones as a therapōn of Idomeneus is a ritual substitute for that king of all the Cretans, this recessive member of the pair does not die for that dominant member. We see here a radical contrast with Patroklos, who does in fact die for Achilles. Meriones stays alive, destined to become a dominant hero in his own right. And a dress-rehearsal, as it were, for this status of eventual dominance is the role of Meriones as a competing chariot driver in the chariot race of Iliad 23. It is Meriones who competes in that race, not Idomeneus. [[GN 2016.08.04 via Nagy 2015.05.01.]]

I.23.124

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
See anchor comment at I.23.113 on Meriones as therapōn of Idomeneus. [[GN 2016.08.04 via Nagy 2015.05.01.]]

I.23.125–126

anchor comment on tomb of Achilles, part 1
Q&T via HPC 150.
The anchor comment here at I.23.125–126, combined with the anchor comments at I.23.245–248…256–257 and at O.24.076–084, add up to an overall commentary on the three direct references that are made to the tomb of Achilles in Homeric poetry. In the first reference here, at I.23.125–126, it is already made clear that the place for constructing the funeral pyre that will cremate the corpse of Patroklos will be the same place where the tomb for Patroklos will also be constructed—and that this tomb will ultimately enclose not only the bones of Patroklos but also the bones of Achilles. This place is described as a lofty aktē ‘promontory’, I.23.125, and ērion is the word for the ‘tomb’ that will be prepared after the cremation, I.23.126. And it is specified that this tomb is intended for entombing not only Patroklos but also Achilles, when the time comes for his own funeral, I.23.126. So, we now see that Achilles has heeded the instructions of Patroklos to make a tomb for the two heroes to share. And, as we will see when we reach the anchor comment at I.23.245–248…256–257, this tomb will be incomplete until Achilles is entombed together with Patroklos. Ultimately, this tomb will belong primarily to Achilles. See also anchor comment at I.23.245–248…256–257 on: tomb of Achilles, part 2; and anchor comment at O.24.076–084 on: tomb of Achilles, part 3. [[GN 2016.12.26.]]

I.23.127–137

subject heading(s): funeral procession for Patroklos; cutting the hair
At the place where the firewood is gathered for the funeral pyre, Achilles organizes a funeral procession of the Myrmidons in honor of Patroklos. The Myrmidons are in in full battle gear as they make their appearance at the event: in the forefront are their chariot drivers and chariot riders, parading in their chariots, followed by the masses of infantry, I.23.132–134. Then they all cut their hair, placing the sheared locks on the body of Patroklos, lying in state, I.23.135–136. Achilles presides over the entire event as the chief mourner, I.23.136–137. [[GN 2016.12.28 via H24H 14§26a.]]

I.23.138–153

subject heading(s): making the funeral pyre; Achilles cuts his hair; post-heroic age
Now the making of the funeral pyre may begin. And, in preparation, Achilles will cut his own golden-blond hair, I.23.141, placing into the lifeless hands of Patroklos the long lock that he shears off, I.23.152–153. (What follows is epitomized from H24H 12§26a.) The long unshorn hair of Achilles had ostentatiously signaled his pre-adult status. Once his hair is cut short, he can become an adult. In this Homeric scene, as we see Achilles standing on the heights of the promontory that will become the setting for the tumulus that encloses his own body, he wistfully looks out over the seas of the outer Hellespont, fixing his gaze toward the far west, in the direction of his native land of Thessaly, and longing for the river Sperkheios that flows through that distant land: it was to the waters of that river, which he will never live to see again, that he had hoped to sacrifice his long hair after he came of age and was ready to cut it, I.23.142-153. But now Achilles cuts his long hair prematurely and unseasonally as he stands there on the promontory, I.23.142. Meanwhile, the Myrmidons led by Achilles will anticipate his example, likewise cutting their hair, I.23.135-136. (At H24H 14§26a, I need to correct what I say about I.23.135–136: it is only the Myrmidons, not the Achaeans en masse, who cut their hair here.) This ritual gesture of cutting the hair in mourning for Patroklos will later be extended after Achilles himself is killed: what then happens at his own funeral is that all the Achaeans, not only the Myrmidons, will join in the same gesture: as we learn at O.24.046, all the Danaoi=Achaeans will cut their hair for Achilles. But now, at I.23.138–153, Achilles himself will show the way by cutting his own hair, thus prefiguring what all the Achaeans will do en masse at his own funeral. Do as I do. Achilles shows the way to mourn him later by now cutting his own hair in mourning for his other self Patroklos. Moreover, this same ritual gesture of cutting the hair in response to the death of Achilles becomes an aetiology for explaining why it is that Greek men of the post-heroic age customarily wear their hair short, not long—except for such notable counter-examples as the Spartans. In a work of Philostratus, On Heroes (51.13), we read the following succinct formulation of an aetiology for this generalized Greek custom: ‘no longer could they [= the Achaeans] consider it a beautiful thing to grow their hair long, in the time after Achilles’ (οὐδὲ κομᾶν ἔτι μετὰ τὸν Ἀχιλλέα καλὸν ἡγούμενοι). In the wording of this aetiology, it is as if the death of Achilles were the single reason that explains why adult men of the post-heroic age no longer wore their hair long. It is as if all the ‘sons of the Achaeans’ were now ready to shift from pre-adult to adult status—once Achilles was dead and buried. The term ‘sons of the Achaeans’—as the Achaean warriors are conventionally described in the Iliad (I.01.162 and so on)—implies a pre-adult status for all those ‘boys’ who fought in the Trojan War. But now those fighting ‘boys’ of the heroic age have reached a post-heroic maturity that inaugurates a post-heroic age. [[GN 2016.12.28.]]

I.23.154–162

subject heading(s): attendance at the cremation of Patroklos is restricted
So far, the preparations for cremation, with all the preliminary rituals, have been open to all the Achaeans. But now Achilles urges Agamemnon to send them away to their dinners. So, attendance at the cremation will be restricted. Only the kind of person who was a kēdeos ‘mourning-relation’ for Patroklos may attend the event, I.23.160. Other than these men, only the agoi ‘leaders’ of the Achaeans are also allowed to attend, I.23.160. But there is something odd about the exclusion of the Achaean masses from participating in the cremation. This exclusion, as we are about to see, can be connected with five signs indicating that the ritual of cremation for Patroklos was about to be somehow compromised, even polluted. [[GN 2016.12.28.]]

I.23.163–183

subject heading(s): cremation of Patroklos
Now the cremation proceeds to the finish. The kēdemones or ‘mourning-relations’ who stayed behind may now complete the task of making a mighty funeral pyre, I.23.163–164, and then they place the corpse of Patroklos on top of the pyre, I.23.165. What follows next is a spectacular array of sacrificial offerings that are also placed on the pyre, to be burned together with Patroklos, I.166–178. The offerings include sacrificial animals that are ritually slaughtered before being placed on the pyre: included are sheep and cattle at I.23.166, horses at I.23.171–172, and dogs at I.23.173–174. And then, the last and most important of the sacrificial offerings are the twelve Trojan youths that Achilles had already promised to slaughter as a human sacrifice: Achilles will now personally cut their throats and leave their bodies to be cremated alongside Patroklos, I.23.175–178. Then, to finish off the ritual of cremation, Achilles addresses Patroklos, picturing him in the realm of Hādēs, I.23.179. Achilles boasts again, as he had done before, that he has done everything that he has promised to do, I.23.180—but the only one of those things that he now mentions here specifically is the sacrifice of the Trojan youths, I.23.181–182. There is something very wrong here, and the Master Narrator knows it. Already at I.23.176, where he highlights the moment when the Trojan youths are killed before being cremated, the Master Narrator says about Achilles: ‘and he had bad intentions in in his mind’ (κακὰ δὲ φρεσὶ μήδετο ἔργα). By intending things that look bad for his victims, he is making himself look bad. See also the comment on I.22.395–405, with reference to I.22.395. So, what makes Achilles look bad here? For an answer, I repeat what I already said at Point 1 in the comment on 1.23.01–064: the killing of the Trojan youths as a form of human sacrifice is in retrospect understood to be morally wrong. In myth, human sacrifice is a pollution. And such pollution is an instance of dysfunctionality in myth as opposed to functionality in ritual, where animal sacrifice is understood to be a salvific replacement of human sacrifice. And the idea that something is polluted in the thinking of Achilles when he slaughters the youths is linked to something else in his train of thought as he goes on to say one more thing about this killing: at least the bodies of the youths were devoured by the fire of cremation, I.23.183. But then he adds in the same train of thought: by contrast, the body of Hector will be devoured by dogs, I.23.183. So, Achilles expresses here once again a ghastly intention that he has expressed so many times before. But, this time, the expression becomes the final moment in the ritual of cremation for Patroklos. And to bring the whole ritual of cremation to such a conclusion is I think a sign of pollution. Here I find it relevant to epitomize what I already said at Points 2 and 3 in the comment on 1.23.01–064 about the mistreatment of Hector’s corpse by Achilles: both the dragging of the corpse and the intent to feed it to dogs and birds are signs of pollution. [[GN 2016.12.28.]]

I.23.184–191

anchor comment on the salvation of Hector’s body
subject heading(s): beau mort (a dead body made beautiful by way of a beautiful death, une belle mort)
As we will now see, the gods are well aware of the ongoing pollution, and they counteract it by way of purification, which takes the form of preserving the body of Hector from the mistreatment intended by Achilles. Right after Achilles declares once again at I.23.183 that he will expose his enemy’s body as prey to be devoured by dogs, the Master Narrator firmly contradicts him at I.23.184: no, the dogs will not be devouring the body of Hector. And why? Because the gods will not allow it. Aphrodite herself is keeping the hellish hounds away from the corpse, I.23.185–186. And the goddess is applying to Hector’s skin a salve that is ambrosio- ‘immortalizing’, thus keeping it intact and saving the beautiful flesh from any disfigurement—no matter how many times Achilles will drag the corpse behind his speeding chariot, I.23.186–187. (On the word ambroto-/ambrosio- in the sense of ‘immortalizing’, not ‘immortal’, see the relevant comment on I.16.670.) So, the goddess of sexual beauty has kept the naked body of Hector beautiful to the point of becoming sexually attractive: Hector is now the definitive beau mort, the beautiful corpse, since his dead body has been made beautiful by way of a beautiful death, une belle mort. (See HC 4§266, with bibliography on the French terminology; see also the relevant comment on I.17.050–060.) For the first time here at I.23.184–191, we see that the body of Hector was never even disfigured—despite the horrific visions of disfigurement that the Master Narrator allowed to be imagined at I.22.395–405 and even later at 1.23.1–64. (See especially the comment on I.22.395–405.) Now, all those darkly horrific visions of ugliness recede in the beautiful light of divine intervention. Not only does Aphrodite apply her immortalizing salve to Hector’s flesh, I.23.186–187, but Apollo does even more, enveloping the hero’s entire body in a divine glow that will shield it from all decay and pollution, I.23.188–191. And by now we can see that the action of the gods in perfectly preserving the dead body of Hector is an act of perfect purification that counteracts the self-pollution of Achilles in mistreating the corpse. We have already seen that the polluted thoughts of Achilles had even compromised the ritual of cremation for Patroklos. But now we will see that the saving of Hector’s body by the gods will lead to an overall purification that will in the course of time counteract not only the specific pollution of mistreating the corpse of Hector but also the overall pollution that has compromised the ritual of cremating the corpse of Patroklos. And the gods will accomplish this overall purification by saving Hector’s body as a ritually idealized corpse that is worthy of a ritually ideal cremation—which will actually take place in Iliad 24. Even before we reach the narration of that ideal cremation in Iliad 24, eight points need to be made already now about the picturing of Hector’s body as a ritually idealized corpse here at I.23.184–191:
Point 1. The etymology of the noun sōma, conventionally translated as ‘body’, is relevant to the ritual idealization of Hector’s corpse in Iliad 23. To make this argument, I start by returning here to the basic idea that Hector’s corpse is ideal because it was saved for a ritually ideal cremation—and thus saved from the horrors of exposition to dogs and birds.
Point 2. That said, I propose that this idea of something that is saved matches the etymology of sōma, which I explain as an action-noun derived from a verb that survives as sōzein in classical Greek prose, meaning ‘save’. This relatively late form of the verb, sōzein, is already attested in Homeric poetry (as at O.05.490: σώζων), though the dominant use of the same verb in this poetry preserves an uncontracted (and thus older) shape of the root, which is sa(w)o- (as at I.24.035: σαῶσαι). The contracted (and thus newer) shape of the root, which is sō-, occurs normally in the “weak” metrical positions of the Homeric hexameter (that is, in the second long of a sequence long-long, which derives from a sequence long-short-short), but there is already an attestation of this same shape in a “strong” metrical position (that is, in the first long of a sequence long-long or in the long of a sequence long-short-short): in this case, the root is attested in the adjective sōs, meaning ‘safe or ‘saved’, at I.22.332 (σῶς ἔσσεσθ’). Similarly, the root of the noun sōma is attested in a “strong” metrical position throughout its occurrences in Homeric hexameter. In terms of my proposal, then, sōma was an action-noun derived from a contracted form of its verb-root: so, from sō-, not from sao-. As an action-noun derived from a verb meaning ‘save’, it would have originally meant ‘saving’ —and then later became concretized to mean ‘the thing saved’. Here is a semantic parallel: the action-noun sperma, derived from the verb-root sper- meaning ‘sow’, originally meant ‘sowing’—and then later become concretized to mean ‘a thing that is sown’, that is, ‘seed’. An ideal corpse, then, in terms of the etymology I propose, is a thing that is saved.
Point 3. In Homeric diction, this word sōma as applied to heroes refers to a ‘body’ that is already dead but needs to be saved from mistreatment or from dangers in general. The clearest example is at I.22.342: Hector, mortally wounded by Achilles and already on the verge of death, is making a final plea to Achilles, asking him to show mercy not to the dying Hector but to the dead Hector that he will be after he has died, and this dead Hector is called here the sōma of Hector. To say it another way, Achilles is asked to show mercy to the sōma of Hector after Hector is already dead and his body is already a corpse. That is why Hector is pleading for his sōma to be returned to Troy, where the Trojans can arrange for it to have the proper ritual of cremation, I.22.342–343. Such an arrangement is anticipated already at I.07.079–080.
Point 4. By making this plea, Hector is at the same time pleading for his body not to be exposed as prey for dogs to devour, I.22.339: ‘don’t let the dogs at the ships of the Achaeans ravage me’ (μή με ἔα παρὰ νηυσὶ κύνας καταδάψαι Ἀχαιῶν). Here the future corpse of Hector is starkly equated with the present self of Hector. He is not even saying here, ‘don't let the dogs devour my body’, but instead he says more simply, ‘don't let the dogs devour me’. This idea of the dead body as the self has already been highlighted in the comment at I.01.003–005.
Point 5. As for the outcome of Hector’s plea here, I have already analyzed in the comment on I.22.346–348 the savage response of Achilles, who declares his certaintly that, yes, he will expose Hector’s corpse as prey for dogs and birds to devour, I.22.248 (also I.22.354). But I concentrate here only on the wording of the original plea that provoked the response. In terms of this wording, the sōma is something that needs to be saved for cremation and thus saved from harm. The sōma must be saved. It needs salvation. And, ideally, the sōma is in fact saved. That is the ritualized ideal that we see reflected in the etymology, to be interpreted as ‘the thing that is saved’.
Point 6. I find it relevant to add, however, that Homeric diction can also turn the meaning of sōma upside down: in two contexts, I.03.023 and I.18.161, sōma refers to a carcass that is being devoured by a ravenous lion that holds on to it and won’t let go. For wild animals, then, the sōma is something that must be saved for devouring. For humans, by contrast, the sōma is something that must be saved from being devoured by wild animals—and thus saved for cremation.
Point 7. In Homeric poetry, the saving of the corpse for cremation translates into a salvation of the self by way of cremation. Hector’s cremation in the heroic age, as we will see it described in Iliad 24, will become a model for all cremations in the post-heroic age. And this cremation of Hector in Iliad 24 will undo the pollutions that had compromised the cremation of Patroklos in Iliad 23. These pollutions will be purified by way of narrating the cremation of Hector, which will be done right and which will therefore be free of pollution. In the future, as the cremation of Hector demonstrates, there will be no more polluting of cremation as a ritual, as there had been at the cremation of Patroklos. No longer will there by any human sacrifices. No longer will the mistreatment of corpses be condoned. The polluting of rituals like cremation in the heroic age of myth will be superseded by the purifying of these same rituals in the post-heroic age of ritual, which is the era of the Homeric present, when rituals can be done right.
Point 8. The rituals of the post-heroic age include not only the aristocratic and vastly expensive practice of cremation. They include also the wildly popular medium of epic performance as exemplified by the Homeric poetry of the Iliad. If epic performance is ritualized, which is what I argue, then the actual narration of all the events that supposedly took place in the heroic age is a ritual in and of itself. And, as a ritual, epic performance can be a form of purification in its own right. Whatever events are narrated in Homeric poetry, the performance of these events, good or bad, is purified simply by way of being narrated. It is in this context that we can view the five salient points of dysfunctionality in the preparations of Achilles for the funeral of Patroklos, as listed in the comment on 1.23.01–064. In retrospect, all five of these points show examples of pollution. And all five of these examples can ultimately be counteracted by the purifying power of narration in epic performance. Epic narration can purify pollution. [[GN 2016.12.29.]]

I.23.245–248 … 256–257

anchor comment on tomb of Achilles, part 2
The tomb of Patroklos, called tumbos here at I.I.23.245, will also become the tomb of Achilles when his time comes to die. It is to be built on a small scale until Achilles is entombed there as well, I.23.245–246. But then, with the entombment of Achilles together with Patroklos, the size of the tomb will become spectacular in both height and width, I.23.246–247. So, this tomb will be incomplete until Achilles is entombed together with Patroklos—at which point it becomes truly the tomb of Achilles. So, instead of saying here that the tomb of Patroklos will also become the tomb of Achilles, it would be more accurate to say that the tomb of Patroklos will simply belong to Achilles. The spirit of Patroklos, when he appeared to Achilles and instructed him to construct a tomb for the two of them, was really pointing the way for Achilles to have a tomb of his own. There now follows at I.23.248 a pointed reference to the Achaeans of the future who will be sailing past the promontory on top of which the tomb is located and marveling at the sight of the structure, which is called a sēma ‘tomb at I.23.257. This visualization, as we will see in the anchor comment at O.24.076–084, makes it all the more clear that the tomb of Patroklos will in fact turn into the tomb of Achilles. See also anchor comment at I.23.125–126 on: tomb of Achilles, part 1; and anchor comment at O.24.076–084 on: tomb of Achilles, part 3. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]

I.23.257–258

subject heading(s): agōn ‘competition’
An agōn, as here at I.23.258, is literally a ‘coming together’ for competition; so, by extension, the word comes to mean ‘competition’. For more on the meaning and the etymology, see H24H 21§1. Here at I.23.257–258 is where the so-called Funeral Games for Patroklos will commence. And they will end at I.24.001. See the comment on that verse. The ritual practice of athletic competition as a compensation for death is amply attested in Greek tradtions: see H24H 8a§§1–14. Here at I.23.258 the agōn can now begin to compensate for the death of Patroklos. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]

I.23.326–343

Q&T via H24H 7§3
subject heading(s): sēma ‘sign, signal; tomb’
|326 σῆμα δέ τοι ἐρέω μάλ’ ἀριφραδές, οὐδέ σε λήσει. |327 ἕστηκε ξύλον αὖον ὅσον τ’ ὄργυι’ ὑπὲρ αἴης |328 ἢ δρυὸς ἢ πεύκης· τὸ μὲν οὐ καταπύθεται ὄμβρῳ, |329 λᾶε δὲ τοῦ ἑκάτερθεν ἐρηρέδαται δύο λευκὼ |330 ἐν ξυνοχῇσιν ὁδοῦ, λεῖος δ’ ἱππόδρομος ἀμφὶς |331 ἤ τευ σῆμα βροτοῖο πάλαι κατατεθνηῶτος, |332 ἢ τό γε νύσσα τέτυκτο ἐπὶ προτέρων ἀνθρώπων, |333 καὶ νῦν τέρματ’ ἔθηκε ποδάρκης δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς. |334 τῷ σὺ μάλ’ ἐγχρίμψας ἐλάαν σχεδὸν ἅρμα καὶ ἵππους, |335 αὐτὸς δὲ κλινθῆναι ἐϋπλέκτῳ ἐνὶ δίφρῳ |336 ἦκ’ ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ τοῖιν· ἀτὰρ τὸν δεξιὸν ἵππον |337 κένσαι ὁμοκλήσας, εἶξαί τέ οἱ ἡνία χερσίν. |338 ἐν νύσσῃ δέ τοι ἵππος ἀριστερὸς ἐγχριμφθήτω. |339 ὡς ἄν τοι πλήμνη γε δοάσσεται ἄκρον ἱκέσθαι |340 κύκλου ποιητοῖο· λίθου δ’ ἀλέασθαι ἐπαυρεῖν, |341 μή πως ἵππους τε τρώσῃς κατά θ’ ἅρματα ἄξῃς· |342 χάρμα δὲ τοῖς ἄλλοισιν, ἐλεγχείη δὲ σοὶ αὐτῷ |343 ἔσσεται· ἀλλὰ φίλος φρονέων πεφυλαγμένος εἶναι.
|326 I [= Nestor] will tell you [= Antilokhos] a sign [sēma], a very clear one, which will not get lost in your thinking. |327 Standing over there is a stump of deadwood, a good reach above ground level. |328 It had been either an oak or a pine. And it hasn’t rotted away from the rains. |329 There are two white rocks propped against either side of it. |330 There it is, standing at a point where two roadways meet, and it has a smooth track on both sides of it for driving a chariot. |331 It is either the tomb [sēma] of some mortal who died a long time ago |332 or was a turning point [nussa] in the times of earlier men. |333 Now swift-footed radiant Achilles has set it up as a turning point [terma plural]. |334 Get as close to it as you can when you drive your chariot horses toward it, |335 and keep leaning toward one side as you stand on the platform of your well-built chariot, |336 leaning to the left as you drive your horses. Your right-side horse |337 you must goad, calling out to it, and give that horse some slack as you hold its reins, |338 while you make your left-side horse get as close as possible [to the turning point], |339 so that the hub will seem to be almost grazing the post |340 - the hub of your well-made chariot wheel. But be careful not to touch the stone [of the turning point], |341 or else you will get your horses hurt badly and break your chariot in pieces. |342 That would make other people happy, but for you it would be a shame, |343 yes it would. So, near and dear [philos] as you are to me, you must be sound in your thinking and be careful.
(Epitomized from H24H 7§§3–6.) I concentrate here on the use of the word sēma in two verses, I.23.326 and I.23.331, concerning the sēma or ‘sign’ given by the hero Nestor to his son, the hero Antilokhos, about the sēma or ‘tomb’ of an unnamed hero. I divide my analysis into four parts:
Part 1. The two verses come from a passage where Nestor gives instructions to Antilokhos about the driving skills required for a charioteer to make a left turn around a landmark. As we will now learn from the context, this landmark is meant to be used as a turning point in the course of a chariot race that is being planned as the culminating athletic event of the Funeral Games for Patroklos in Iliad 23. In the words of Nestor, this landmark is either a sēma, ‘tomb’, of an unnamed hero of the distant past, I.23.331, or it was once upon a time a ‘turning point’, a nussa, I.23.332, used for chariot races that must have taken place in such a distant past. As I will argue, the master narrative of the Iliad shows that this sēma or ‘tomb’ is to be understood as the tomb of Patroklos himself, which he will share with Achilles once Achilles too is dead. To understand this is to understand the sēma or ‘sign’ given by the hero Nestor.
Part 2. The sēma that is the ‘tomb’ of the unnamed hero at I.23.331 is also a ‘sign’ of that hero’s cult, as signaled by the sēma or ‘sign’ that is conveyed by the speaker at I.23.326. That is what I once argued in an essay entitled “Sēma and Noēsis: The Hero’s Tomb and the ‘Reading’ of Symbols in Homer and Hesiod” (GM 202-222). As I pointed out in that essay, we know from evidence external to Homeric poetry that the tomb of a cult hero could be used as the actual turning point of a chariot race: in the historical period, starting with the adoption of chariot racing in the athletic program of the Olympics (this adoption has been dated at around 680 BCE), the turning-point of chariot-races could be conceptualized as the tomb of a hero, whose restless spirit was capable of “spooking” the horses at the most dangerous moment of the chariot-race, the left turn around the turning point. (GMP 215-216, with reference to Pausanias 6.20.15-19).
Part 3. According to the wording of Nestor, however, there seem at first to be two different interpretations of the landmark that he is showing to Antilokhos: what is being visualized is either a tomb of a cult hero from the distant past or it is a turning point for chariot races that must have taken place in such a distant past. The landmark is an ambivalent sign. At least, it seems ambivalent, short range, on the basis of Nestor’s wording in this passage. Long range, however, on the basis of the overall plot of the Iliad, this wording will lead to a fusion of interpretations. And the sign that seemed at first to be ambivalent will become clear. Long range, the tomb of the unnamed hero from the distant past becomes the same landmark as the turning point of a chariot race from the distant past. That is because the unnamed hero from the distant past becomes a named hero from the immediate present of the Iliad. That hero is Patroklos, and he died just now, as it were, in Iliad 16.
Part 4. But Patroklos dies not only in the present time of the Iliad. He also did die a long time ago, from the standpoint of later generations who are listening to the story of the Iliad. So, the storytelling of the Iliad makes it possible for the athletic event of a chariot race from the distant past to become the same thing as the athletic event of a chariot race that is being held right now, in the same immediate present time of the story, in Iliad 23. And, as I argue, this race is intended to honor Patroklos as a once and future cult hero. See also the comment on O.11.119–137. [[GN 2017.06.08.]]

I.23.528

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
See anchor comment at I.23.113 on Meriones as therapōn of Idomeneus. [[GN 2016.08.04 via Nagy 2015.05.01.]]

I.23.841

subject heading(s): ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’
See anchor comment at I.12.188.

I.23.860

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
See anchor comment at I.23.113 on Meriones as therapōn of Idomeneus. [[GN 2016.08.04 via Nagy 2015.05.01.]]

I.23.888

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
See anchor comment at I.23.113 on Meriones as therapōn of Idomeneus. [[GN 2017.01.02.]]
[ back ]

Iliad Rhapsody 24

2016.12.31

The Iliad ends with the funeral of Hector, not of Achilles. And it is Hector, not Achilles, who is lamented at the end. But it is Achilles who makes it all happen, since he has transcended his rage and has shown mercy to an old father. The tears of Priam had made Achilles think of his own old father, of his own ancestors—and of Patroklos, who embodied the glories of the ancestors. Achilles was looking bad at the beginning of Iliad 23 and even at the beginning of Iliad 24, but he looks very good by the time Iliad 24 comes to a close.
Nagy-Sampling-Iliad-fig24
Figure 24. Mourners lament as Hector’s corpse is laid out in preparation for the funeral that closes Iliad Rhapsody 24. Copperplate etching (1795) by Tommaso Piroli, after a drawing (1793) by John Flaxman. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I.24.001

subject heading(s): agōn ‘competition’
The agōn ‘competition’, that is, the ‘coming together’ for the sake of competition, is now over. Or, to say it in Greek, the coming-together is now undone, as expressed by the verb luein ‘undo’. Now all the participants disperse, returning to their beached ships. See the comment on I.23.257–258. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.006

subject heading(s): potheîn ‘long for’
While the others sleep, Achilles is awake and restless, and he sorely misses Patroklos, as expressed by the verb potheîn ‘long for’. This verb potheîn ‘long for’, like the noun pothē ‘longing’, evokes the feelings of those who worship cult heroes: see especially the comment on I.17.685–690. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.014–018

subject heading(s): sēma ‘tomb’; mistreating the corpse of Hector; dragging of Hector
In these four verses, there is a compressed narration of what Achilles does over and over again during a sleepless night. He harnesses his chariot and drives it around the tomb of Patroklos three times while dragging the corpse of Hector. The tomb is called the sēma at I.24.16. The Master Narrator states here that this tomb belongs to Patroklos, as if the ultimate ownership of the tomb by Achilles were still in doubt. But the statement is justified, since the size of the tomb has not yet been adjusted to fit the prestige of Achilles himself: on this point see the anchor comment at I.23.245–248 and 256–257. Achilles drives his chariot around the tomb three times, then rests in his klisiē ‘shelter’, I.24.017, and then drives around three times again, and so on. Each time he rests inside his shelter, he leaves the body outside, lying prone in the dust, face down, I.24.017–018. The body has been shown before in this same degraded state: see the comment on I.22.395–405. Once again here, it is left to the imagination whether the body is horribly disfigured. It cannot be known, however, whether the body that Achilles is intending to degrade has in fact already been disfigured. Once again, the face is not visible. But, once again, it will become clear that the face and the head and in fact the whole body of Hector cannot be disfigured. This time, the clarification happens immediately, in the verses that follow. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]

I.24.018–022

subject heading(s): aeikeiē ‘unseemliness’; khrōs ‘complexion’
Once again, divine intervention prevents the disfigurement of Hector’s body. The intervention starts starts midline at I.24.018, and the narrative of the intervention extends through I.24.018: the god Apollo will not allow any aeikeiē ‘unseemliness’ to happen to the body of Hector, I.24.019. Apollo focuses here on Hector’s khrōs ‘complexion’, I.24.019, worrying that the hero’s skin will be grotesquely scraped away by the harsh surface over which it is being dragged behind the speeding chariot of Achilles, I.24.021. This time, the protective covering that is granted by the gods is not an enveloping glow, as it was at I.23.188–191 (see the anchor comment at I.23.184–191), but rather a mystical aigis ‘skin-shield’, I.24.020. Then, at I.24.022, by way of ring-composition, the thinking returns to the horrors of mutilation by way of ‘disfiguring’ the body, as expressed here by the verb aeikizein. But the disfigurement is canceled. Once again, the body is saved. See again the anchor comment at I.23.184–191, where the vision of salvation for Hector’s body is fully analyzed. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.023–28

subject heading(s): atē ‘aberration’
The gods pity Hector and are on the verge of sending Hermes to hide the corpse of Hector, but this plan is vetoed by Hērā and Poseidon, in that order. They bear a grudge against Troy and Priam because of an atē ‘aberration’ of Paris=Alexandros. But the narrative concentrates only on Hērā, since the atē ‘aberration’ that the Master Narrator has in mind involves a direct insult to that goddess. On the story of that insult, see the comment on the verses that immediately follow. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]

I.24.029–30

subject heading(s): Judgment of Paris; neikeîn ‘quarrel with’; aineîn ‘praise’
In the story about the Judgment of Paris, as we read in the plot-summary of the Cypria, Proclus 102.14–19 (ed. Allen 1912), Paris=Alexandros has to choose from among three goddesses, Hērā, Athena, and Aphrodite, Cypria/Proclus 102.14–19. Which of the three is supreme? Paris chooses Aphrodite, who rewards him by arranging his love affair with Helen. The story of the Judgment of Paris is recapitulated, in a most compressed form, here at I.24.025–030. And the story is told in terms of a contrast between positive and negative words. The fact that Paris chose Aphrodite means that he aimed negative words at Hērā and Athena, as expressed by the verb neikeîn ‘quarrel with’ at I.24.029 (νείκεσσε), while he aimed positive words at Aphrodite, as expressed by the verb aineîn ‘praise’ at I.24.030 (ᾔνησ᾽). As noted in the comment on I.03.100, the verbs aineîn ‘praise’ and neikeîn ‘quarrel with’ express both the social and the poetic significance of praise and blame respectively. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]

I.24.032–054

subject heading(s): sēma ‘tomb’; biē ‘force, violence, strength’; thūmos ‘heart; dais ‘portion (of meat); sacrifice’; [sōma ‘body’]
In the speech of Apollo here, Ι.24.032–054, there is a compressed retelling of unseemly deeds committed by Achilles. At Ι.24.050–052, the god condemns especially the violence of Achilles, and he points to the hero’s dragging the corpse of Hector, I.24.050–052, around the sēma ‘tomb’ of Patroklos, I.24.051. In this context of condemning the hero’s violence, the god compares him to a ravenous lion at I.24.041–043. The wild beast is driven by its wild instincts, described here as its biē ‘force, violence, strength’ and its thūmos ‘heart’, I.24.042, as it lunges to devour the sheep that it is attacking, and here the word dais ‘portion (of meat)’ is used in referring to the meat of its prey, I.24.43. There is an irony here in the use of the word dais, since this word is closely connected to stories about Achilles: see the comments on I.07.319–322, I.19.044, I.19.179–180. The picturing of a ravenous lion that is lunging for the meat of its prey is comparable to the use of the word sōma at I.03.023 and I.18.161: what is pictured in both these contexts is a carcass that is being devoured by a ravenous lion that holds on to it and won’t let go. Here is what I said about such contexts in Point 6 of the anchor comment for I.23.184–191: for wild animals, the sōma is something that must be saved for devouring, while for humans the sōma is something that must be saved from being devoured by wild animals. See also the comment on I.22.346–348, where I analyze other comparisons of Achilles to lions. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.055–063

subject heading(s): eris ‘strife’; neikos ‘quarrel’
In the speech of Hērā here, Ι.24.055–063, there is a reference to a primal story that is connected to the Judgment of Paris. It is the story about the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the mortal and immortal parents-to-be of Achilles. As we read in the plot-summary of the Cypria in Proclus 102.13–19 (ed. Allen 1912), there was eris ‘strife’ at the feast celebrating the marriage of Thetis and Peleus. It was the Will of Zeus that Eris ‘Strife’ personified would bring about a neikos ‘quarrel’ among the gods that would ultimately result in the Trojan War (Proclus 102.14/15 on Eris/neikos). Hērā notes that even Apollo attended the wedding, singing at the feast, Ι.24.062–063. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.064–076

subject heading(s): council of divinities
In the speech of Zeus here, Ι.24.064–076, an elaborate plan leads to a most elaborate plot for the conclusion of the Iliad. Commentary postponed. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.105

subject heading(s): penthos alaston ‘unforgettable grief’ for Thetis
Comment postponed for a later comment on O.01.342. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.112–116

subject heading(s): releasing the body of Hector
Zeus tells Thetis to tell Achilles that the gods are angry at him and want him to release to Priam the body of Hector. In this case, the Will of Zeus becomes an unambiguous moral force for the maintenance of ritual correctness in the post-heroic age. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.133–137

subject heading(s): releasing the body of Hector
Thetis conveys the Will of Zeus to her son. Her role here in Iliad 24 is symmetrical with her role in Iliad 1. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.158

subject heading(s): endukéōs ‘continuously, uninterruptedly’
See the anchor comment at O.07.256. [[GN 2017.05.30. via PasP 44.]]

I.24.187

subject heading(s): endukéōs ‘continuously, uninterruptedly’
See the anchor comment at O.07.256. [[GN 2017.05.30. via PasP 44.]]

I.24.396

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
In speaking to Priam, the god Hermes disguises himself as a therapōn of Achilles. It is as if he were the spirit of the dead Patroklos, the other self of Achilles himself. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.24.406

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
See again the comment on I.24.393. [[GN 2016.08.04.]]

I.24.438

subject heading(s): endukéōs ‘continuously, uninterruptedly’
See the anchor comment at O.07.256. [[GN 2017.05.30. via PasP 44.]]

I.24.474

subject heading(s): ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’
Here it is Alkimos who is called ozos Arēos ‘attendant of Ares’. See the anchor comment at I.12.188. [[GN 2017.01.02.]]

I.24.509–512

subject heading(s): mourning for Hector; mourning for ancestors by way of Patroklos; name of Patroklos; “speaking name” (nomen loquens)
While Priam mourns for his own son Hector, Achilles alternates in mourning for his own father Priam and for Patroklos as his own other self. By mourning for both his father and for Patroklos, Achilles shows the way—showing how to mourn for ancestors. Do as I do. Relevant is what the “speaking name” (nomen loquens) of Patroklos means: ‘he who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors [pateres]’. See the comments on I.01.345, I.06.209, I.09.185–191. Such a meaning signals the basic fact that one’s father is one’s most immediate ancestor. The kleos ‘glory’ of Achilles is thus linked, for all time to come, with a poetic glory that originates from the ancestors. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]

I.24.573

subject heading(s): therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’
The two heroes Automedon and Alkimos are both marked as therapontes of Achilles, I.24.573, by virtue of this detail: Achilles honored the two of them more than anyone else after the death of Patroklos, I.24.574–575 (tīein ‘honor’ at I.24.575). Here they are acting as the attendants of Achilles, I.24.576–580. [[GN 2017.01.02.]]

I.24.707–776

The funeral of Hector may now begin. A funeral procession takes Hector to his bier, where the laments can begin. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.708

subject heading(s): penthos ‘grief’
The word penthos ‘grief’ here at I.24.708 refers to the context for performing laments, I.24.720–776, on the occasion of Hector’s funeral. The word recurs in the actual words of the lament sung by Andromache at Ι.24.741, where she says that Hector, by dying, has caused penthos ‘grief’ and góos ‘lament’ for his parents. [[GN 2016.12.18.]]

I.24.720–776

anchor comment on laments at Hector’s funeral
subject heading(s): thrēnos ‘lament’; thrēneîn ‘make lament’; ex-arkhos ‘lead singer’; (ex-)arkhein ‘lead off [in performing]’; góos ‘lament’; goân ‘make lament’; epi-stenakhesthai ‘wail in response’; epi-stenein ‘wail in response’; dēmos ‘community, district; populace’
The laments for Hector at his funeral can be divided into two main parts, the second of which can be subdivided into three sub-parts. The first main part is at I.24.720–722, where professional aoidoi ‘singers’ who are men, I.24.720, perform thrēnoi ‘laments’, I.24.721; as they perform, the word that refers to their performance is thrēneîn ‘make lament’, I.24.722, which is a verb derived from the noun thrēnos ‘lament’. Following up on the laments performed by the professional singers are laments performed by the gunaikes ‘women’ of Troy, I.24.722. These women, as women singers, are of course non-professionals, and their role as singers is subordinated to the role of the professional singers, as we see from the use of the verb epi-stenakhesthai ‘wail in response’ at I.24.722 in referring to their performance. This act of wailing-in-response is treated here as an antiphonal complement to the singing of the professional singers, who are described as ex-arkhoi ‘lead singers’ of the thrēnoi ‘laments’ that they sing, I.24.721. By now we have reached the end of the narrative about the first main part of the laments performed at the funeral of Hector. Now the narrative about the second part of the laments can begin, and this part, as noted already, can be subdivided into three sub-parts. The Master Narrator now quotes, as it were, three laments, to be performed by Andromache at I.24.725–745, by Hecuba at I.24.748–759, and by Helen at I.24.762–775. But the two main parts in this overall scheme are not kept separate here, since the same women who sang at I.24.722 their responses to the laments sung by men who were lead singers will now perform responses to the three women who will now be singing their own laments, and these three will now be singing as lead singers in their own right, as expressed by the verb arkhein / ex-arkhein / ex-arkhein ‘lead off [in performing]’ in the case of Andromache / Hecuba / Helen at I.24.723 / I.24.747 / I.24.761. These three singing women are not professionals, but nevertheless they hold positions of great social status, since they all belong to Hector’s immediate family: as family members, they sing a form of lament that qualifies as a góos, not as a thrēnos. This word góos ‘lament’ is applied to the singing of Andromache / Hecuba / Helen at I.24.723 / I.24.747 (also at I.24.760) / I. 24.761. Of these three, the most important performer of lament here is Andromache, since she gets to cradle the head of Hector from behind while she sings her song of lament over his corpse, I.24.724. The special importance of Andromache is also signaled by the fact that the verb epi-stenakhesthai ‘wail in response’, which had signaled at I.24.722 the antiphonal singing of the women of Troy in response to the thrēnoi ‘laments’, I.24.721, that were sung by the professional lead singers, is also used at I.24.746 to signal the antiphonal singing of the women of Troy in response to the góos ‘lament’, I.24.723, that is sung by Andromache as the non-professional lead singer. The general response at I.24.746 by the women of Troy to the lament of Andromache is an intensification of the more specific response at I.22.515 by the women who attended her when she previously sang her second lament, though the wording is exactly the same at I.24.746 as at I.22.515: ‘So she [= Andromache] spoke, and the women wailed in response’ (ὣς ἔφατο κλαίουσ’, ἐπὶ δὲ στενάχοντο γυναῖκες). An even more general response, however, occurs at I.24.776, where not just the women of Troy but the entire dēmos or ‘populace’ of the city joins the antiphonal singing, as signaled here by the verb epi-stenein ‘wail in response’: ‘So she [= Helen] spoke, and the vast populace [dēmos] wailed in response’ (ὣς ἔφατο κλαίουσ’, ἐπὶ δ' ἔστενε δῆμος ἀπείρων). Now the whole community is lamenting in response to the góos ‘lament’ as re-started at I.24.761 by Helen as the last of the three women who sing here as lead singers. [[GN 2016.12.19.]]

I.24.723–746

anchor comment on three laments by Andromache, part 3
In the first of the three laments performed by Andromache, as quoted by the Master Narrator at I.06.407–439, she is already lamenting the death of Hector before he is even dead. As for the second lament, as quoted at I.22.476–515, she sings it when she sees the corpse of Hector for the first time. As for her third lament, here at I.24.723–746, she sings it on the occasion of Hector’s funeral. As Andromache starts her song of lament at I.24.723, the verb arkhein in the sense of ‘lead off [in performing]’ signals that she is leading off as a lead singer, and the song that she sings is called here a góos ‘lament’. Then, as Andromache finishes her lead song at I.24.746, the women of Troy sing an antiphonal refrain as signaled by the verb epi-stenakhizesthai ‘wail in response’. See also anchor comment at I.06.407–439 on: three laments by Andromache, part 1; and anchor comment at I.22.476–515 on: three laments by Andromache, part 2. [[GN 2016.12.17.]]

I.24.747–760

subject heading(s): lament of Hecuba.
See the anchor comment at I.24.720–776. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.761–776

subject heading(s): lament of Helen.
See the anchor comment at I.24.720–776. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

I.24.777–784

subject heading(s): firewood for the funeral pyre
It takes ten days inclusively for the people of Troy to gather the firewood needed to construct the funeral pyre for the cremation of Hector, I.24.784. See the comment on I.24.785–804 on the archaeological evidence showing the vast volume of firewood needed for a funeral pyre. [[GN 2016.12.30.]]

Ι.24.785–804

subject heading(s): cremation of Hector
The corpse of Hector is placed on top of the funeral pyre, and then the pyre is lit, Ι.24.786–787. The next morning, the fires of the cremation are extinguished and the bones of Hector are gathered, Ι.24.792–795, to be placed into a larnax ‘repository’, Ι.24.795. A tumulus is heaped over the remains, I.24.799, and the tumulus itself is called a sēma ‘tomb’, I.24.799/801. What we see here in Iliad 24, in the conclusion to the entire epic narrative, is a perfect description of a perfect entombment after a perfect cremation—to be contrasted with the ritually flawed cremation of Patroklos as described in Iliad 23. Here I find it relevant to cite the archaeological background on the practice of cremation in the Mycenaean era. I quote a brief summary in Nagy 2015.07.22§31:
When I last considered the practices of cremation in a Mycenaean context [in 1990: GMP 85–86], those practices were barely attested archaeologically. But now, with the discovery of nine cremations at the site of Chánia, some three kilometers southwest of the acropolis of Mycenae [Palaiologou 2013], the picture has changed. I note with special interest the splendor of the tumulus that contained these cremations, dated to the 12th century BCE [Palaiologou 2013.274]. The archeologist of record describes as “monumental” the stone tumulus with its circular “cyclopean” enclosure, and she notes that the ritual moment of the actual cremation, which required vast pilings of firewood, must have been “spectacular” [Palaiologou 2013.251]. This splendid tumulus, situated on a plain contiguous with Argos, was most visible to all: “it served as a landmark for the control of the commercial route to Argos and the cultivated area simultaneously” [Palaiologou 2013:275]. By this time, in the 12th century BCE, the glory days of Mycenae and of its Achaean realm were becoming evanescent, but the vitality of Mycenaean culture was still a forceful presence, acknowledged and respected by the local population.
[[GN 2016.12.30.]]

Epilogue 1: Hector as the ultimate beau mort

subject heading(s): beau mort (a dead body made beautiful by way of a beautiful death, la belle mort)
[epitome from HC 4§267]
The focus of the Iliad on Hector as the ultimate beau mort is evident at the conclusion of this epic. The Iliad as we know it ends with the funeral of Hector, not of Achilles. It is Hector, not Achilles, who is lamented at the end. Even the very last word of the Iliad as we have it is a signature for Hector: it is his ornamental epithet hippodamos, the ‘horse-tamer’, I.24.804 (Sacks 1987). So, the Homeric Iliad evolved in such a way as to highlight Hector as the primary point of interest in the poetics of terror and pity. To be contrasted is an alternative epic like the Aithiopis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, where the focus at the end is evidently on Achilles as the primary beau mort. Pindar’s reference to the dead Achilles in Isthmian 8 (56-60) alludes to this alternative epic tradition (PH 204–206). In the Iliad, the doomed figure of Hector has been substituted for the equally doomed figure of Achilles, who is the ultimate beau mort of epic. Hector in the Iliad prefigures Achilles as that ultimate beau mort. See also anchor comment at I.23.184–194.

Epilogue 2: Hector as an ideal for Athenians

[epitome from HC 4§268]
This foregrounding of Hector in the Iliad as we know it is a matter of politics as well as esthetics. The beautiful death of Hector, his belle mort, is for Athenians an expression of their empire. See the comment on I.15.494–499, where I made an epitome from HC 4§268. In what follows, I repeat the relevant parts of that epitome. The Athenian statesman Lycurgus says it best when he refers to the willingness of Athenian citizens to die in war not only for their own patris ‘fatherland’ but also for all of Hellas as a patris ‘fatherland’ that is koinē ‘common’ to all Hellenes (Against Leokrates 104). Lycurgus invokes as his prime example the belle mort of the Athenian citizen-warriors who fought at Marathon and who thereby won for Hellas a freedom from terror, an adeia ‘security’ that is koinē ‘common’ to all Hellenes (104). The Athenian statesman is making this reference to the imperial interests of Athens in the context of actually quoting the words of Hector in the Iliad, who says that he is willing to die for his fatherland in order to protect it against the Achaeans (Lycurgus Against Leokrates 103 lines 4-9). These heroic words of Hector correspond to I.15.494–499, and Lycurgus quotes them in the larger Athenian festival of the context of saying that the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, as performed at the quadrennial Athenian festival of the Panathenaia, are the ancestral heritage of the Athenians and the primary source of their education as citizen-warriors (Against Leokrates 102). In this invocation of Homeric poetry as the most sublime expression of the Athenian empire, the statesman is quoting the words of a Trojan, not the words of an Achaean. It is the belle mort of Hector that motivates the Athenians to live up to the heroic legacy they learn from Homer.
[ back ]

Odyssey Rhapsody 1

2017.03.02

The comments I offered in Classical Inquiries on Odyssey Rhapsody 1 through Rhapsody 24, starting here with Rhapsody 1, were based mostly on details that derive from seven books that I indicate in the Bibliography by way of these abbreviations: BA, GMP, H24H, HC, HPC, HQ, HR, MoM, PasP, PH. Each one of these books has its own index locorum. My colleague Anita Nikkanen, an Associate Editor for the online project A Homer commentary in progress, tracked the sequences of Homeric verses as listed in the indices for six of these books and then summarized my comments on those verses. Following up on her meticulous work, I am in the process of converting her summaries into a form of commentary that is being incorporated into AHCIP. My comments on the Odyssey as I presented them in Classical Inquiries are merely samplings of the content that I hope to contribute to the overall commentary, to which a number of other colleagues are also contributing their own comments. That said, I now proceed to offer a sampling of comments on Rhapsody 1. At this point, my comments about the beginning of the Odyssey need no further introduction of their own.

Figure 25. Athena (1810). Drawing by John Flaxman. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

O.01.001–010

Q&T via H24H 0§21, also 9§4, also 10§2 (that translation is slightly modified here)
subject heading(s): epic; theme; andra [grammatical object of anēr] ‘man’; Muse; Master Narrator; narrative subject as grammatical object; ennepein ‘narrate, tell’; polutropos ‘turning-into-many-different-selves’; epithet for narrative subject; singing as narrating
|1 That man, tell me O Muse the song of that man, the one who-turns-into-many-different-selves [polutropos], who in very many ways |2 veered from his path and wandered off far and wide, after he had destroyed the sacred [hieron] citadel of Troy. |3 Many different cities [astea] of many different people did he see, getting to know different ways of thinking [nóos]. |4 Many were the pains [algea] he suffered in his heart [thūmos] while crossing the sea [pontos], |5 struggling to merit [arnusthai] the saving of his own life [psūkhē] and his own homecoming [nostos] as well as the homecoming of his companions [hetairoi]. |6 But do what he might he could not save his companions [hetairoi], even though he very much wanted to. |7 For they perished through their own deeds-of-recklessness [atasthaliā plural], |8 disconnected [nēpioi] as they were, because of what they did to the cattle of the sun-god Hēlios. |9 They ate them. So, the god [Hēlios] deprived them of their day of-homecoming [nostimon]. |10 Starting-from-any-single-point-of-departure [hamothen], O goddess, daughter of Zeus, tell-me-as-you-have-told-those-who-came-before-me [eipe kai hēmīn].
There are three main points to be made in my comments here.
Point 1. The epic of the Homeric Odyssey begins in a way that resembles closely the beginning of its twin, the epic of the Homeric Iliad. On the term epic, used here for the first time in these comments on the Odyssey, see the Inventory of terms and names. The main theme of the Odyssey is signaled right away (on the term theme, see again the Inventory). The signaling is accomplished by way of the first word of the very first verse of the epic. This word is the noun andra ‘man’, in the accusative case, which would be anēr in the nominative. The accusative case of anēr ‘man’ here marks this noun as the grammatical object of the verb ennepein ‘narrate, tell’, O.01.001. The Master Narrator is addressing a goddess who is the Muse of the Odyssey, asking the goddess to narrate for him the story of a man who is not yet named as Odysseus. (On the term Master Narrator, see the Inventory of terms and names.) The ‘man’ is the subject of the story. In other words, he is the subject of the narration, or the narrative subject. And this narrative subject is the grammatical object of the verb ennepein, meaning ‘narrate, tell’. Similarly at the beginning of the Homeric Iliad, as analyzed at I.01.001–012, the narrative subject is the first word in the very first verse. That word is the noun mēnin ‘anger’, in the accusative case, which would be mēnis in the nominative. The accusative case of mēnis there marks that noun as the grammatical object of the verb aeidein ‘sing’, I.01.110. There the Master Narrator is addressing a theā ‘goddess’ who is the Muse of the Iliad, asking that goddess to sing for him that anger, I.01.001. The song that will be narrated by the Muse for the Master Narrator will in turn be narrated by the narrator for his listeners. That song is The Song of the Anger, in the sense that the anger is the song. The anger is the narrative subject. Similarly in the Odyssey, the Master Narrator calls on the Muse of the Odyssey to ‘narrate the man’, that is, to ‘tell the song of the man’. Here too the song that will be narrated by the Muse for the Master Narrator will in turn be narrated by the narrator for his listeners. This song is The Song of the Man, in that the man is the song. The man is the narrative subject. And the song captures the total reality of the man.
Point 2. But this reality is not so easy to capture, since the man who is Odysseus is many-sided, as we will now see. Odysseus at O.01.001 is polutropos ‘turning-into-many-different-selves’. This translation makes explicit what is only implied in an alternative way of rendering this elusive word, ‘versatile in many ways’ (H24H 0§21, also 9§4, also 10§2), where the Latin root vert- ‘turn’ of the Latinate word versatile can mean not only ‘turn around’ but also ‘turn into a different self’, as we see most clearly in the Latin word for ‘werewolf’, versi-pellis, which literally means ‘he whose skin has turned’ (Pliny Natural History 8.34; Petronius 62; details in GMP 264–265). Similarly, polutropos applies to a figure who is different at every turn, and who becomes different many times and in many ways. That is why the ultimate shape-shifter, the god Hermes, is polutropos in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes (verses 13, 439). And that is why, in the only other context where Odysseus is described as polutropos, O.10.330, he is associated in that context with his polytropic model, Hermes himself, O.10.331–332. (Further commentary in GMP 34.) Since Odysseus can turn into something different at every turn, the multiplicity of angles to be seen at every turn helps explain why this hero will not yet be named at the beginning of the Odyssey.
Point 3. There is still more to be said about this adjective polutropos ‘turning-into-many-different-selves’ describing Odysseus at O.01.001: it is used here as an epithet for the narrative subject, which in this case is anēr ‘man’. Another such epithet is the adjective oulomenē ‘disastrous’ describing the mēnis ‘anger’ of Achilles at I.01.002. See the comment there. [[GN 2017.02.28.]]

O.01.001–004

subject heading(s): poetics of multiplicity
The multiplicity to be seen in the shape-shifting figure of Odysseus is poeticized by way of repeating the element pol(l)- ‘many’ of polutropos ‘turning-into-many-different-selves’, spilling over from O.01.001 into O.01.003–004: πολύτροπον…πολλὰ |…|πολλῶν… |πολλά.

O.01.001

subject heading(s): ennepein ‘narrate, tell’; Mousa ‘Muse’; singing as narrating
By saying ‘tell me, Muse’, the Master Narrator is saying that the song that he will perform is something that he hears from a goddess who is invoked here as a singular Mousa ‘Muse’. See also I.01.001, where the Master Narrator likewise calls on a singular Muse. Although ennepein ‘narrate, tell’ here at O.01.001 does not explicitly refer to singing as does aeidein ‘sing’ at I.01.001, the narrative that the Master Narrator narrates is notionally a song in both the Iliad and the Odyssey. See in general the comment on O.01.001–010. [[GN 2017.02.28 via PasP 61.]]

O.01.001–002

subject heading(s): relative clause as introductory outline of the overall narrative
We have seen that the epithet polutropos ‘turning-into-many-different-selves’ at O.01.001 describes the narrative subject of the entire performed narration of the Odyssey as designated by the driving word anēr ‘man’ in the accusative, andra at O.01.001, used here as the grammatical object of the verb ennepein ‘narrate, tell’. Now we see that this epithet polutropos ‘turning-into-many-different-selves’ at O.01.001 is immediately followed at O.01.001–002 by a relative clause that outlines the overall narrative of the Odyssey: Odysseus veered many times and in many ways before he achieved a safe homecoming for himself. Similarly, we saw that the epithet oulomenē ‘disastrous’ at I.01.002 describes the narrative subject of the entire performed narration of the Iliad as designated by the driving word mēnis ‘anger’ in the accusative, mēnin at I.01.001, used there as the grammatical object of the verb aeidein ‘sing’. And we saw that this epithet oulomenē ‘disastrous’ is immediately followed at I.01.002 by a relative clause that outlines the overall narrative of the Iliad: the anger of Achilles caused immeasurable suffering. And we will see a further similarity when we consider the epithet lugros ‘disastrous’ at O.01.327, which describes the poetic subject of a performed narration as designated by the driving word nostos ‘homecoming’ in the accusative, noston at O.01.326, used there as the grammatical object of the verb aeidein ‘sing’. This epithet lugros ‘disastrous’ at O.01.327 is then immediately followed in the same verse by a relative clause that outlines the overall narrative there. See the comment on O.01.326–327. [[GN 2017.02.28.]]

O.01.002

subject heading(s): [mētis ‘mind, intelligence’; biē ‘force, violence, strength’; First Song of Demodokos; Third Song of Demodokos]
Odysseus in the Odyssey gets credit already here, at the very beginning of the epic, for the conquest of Troy. By contrast, Achilles will never get credit for such a deed, even though he is the dominant hero of the Iliad, which means ‘the story of Ilion=Troy’ and which presents itself as the primary epic about the Trojan War. It is made explicit elsewhere in the Odyssey, though not here at the beginning, that mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ was the heroic quality that made it possible for Odysseus to become the conqueror of Troy. This theme is relevant to an epic story about a competition between Achilles and Odysseus centering on this question: who will get credit for conquering Troy? Will it be Achilles, exponent of biē ‘force, violence, strength’, or will it be Odysseus, exponent of mētis ‘mind, intelligence’? The story is reflected in the First Song of Demodokos in Odyssey 8, and it can be argued that the beginning of the Odyssey here alludes to that story. It can also be argued that the beginning of the Iliad also alludes to that same story. See the comment on I.01.001–012. In the end, though, as we know from the story of the Trojan Horse in the Third Song of Demodokos, retold in Odyssey 8, the mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ of Odysseus did succeed. And, by implication, the biē ‘force, violence, strength’ of Achilles had already failed, since Achilles was already dead by the time when Troy was conquered. [[GN 2017.03.02 via BA 40; see also HPC 102.]]

O.01.003

subject heading(s): nóos ‘mind’[; nostos ‘homecoming, song of / about homecoming’]
Etymologically, the noun nóos ‘mind’ indicates consciousness as distinct from the unconsciousness of sleeping, swooning, and death itself. This noun is derived from the verb-root *nes- ‘return, come back’. The root *nes- has a deeper meaning as well: ‘come to’, in the sense of ‘come back to consciousness’. Another noun derived from *nes- is nostos ‘homecoming, song of / about homecoming’. This noun nostos also has a deeper meaning: ‘coming back to light and life’. See the comment on O.01.05. Two definitive books on the Greek reflexes of the root *nes- ‘return, come back’: Frame 1978 and 2009. I add here a special note on my translation of O.01.003: ‘Many different cities of many different people did he see, getting to know different ways of thinking [nóos]’. I translate nóos ‘mind’ here as ‘way[s] of thinking’ because the wording says that Odysseus gets to know different ways of thinking by making contact with many different persons in the course of all his travels. Because he gets to know their different ways of thinking, his knowledge now makes it possible for Odysseus himself to think in many different ways. So he is getting to know his own ‘mind’ differently by getting to know the different minds of others. [[GN 2017.03.02.]]

O.01.004

subject heading(s): algea ‘pains’ of Odysseus
It is announced here, at the very beginning of the Odyssey, that many algea ‘pains’ await Odysseus in this epic, O.01.004. There is a parallel announcement at the beginning of the Iliad: many algea ‘pains’ await the Achaeans in that epic, I.01.002. See further the comment on I.01.002. [[GN 2017.03.02.]]

O.01.005

subject heading(s): nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming; return; return to light and life’[; nóos ‘mind’]
Etymologically, the noun nostos ‘homecoming’ indicates a ‘return’ or ‘coming-back’, derived from the verb-root *nes- ‘return, come back’. This root *nes- has a deeper meaning as well: ‘come to’, in the sense of ‘come back to consciousness’; the noun nostos itself, meaning ‘homecoming’, also has a deeper meaning: ‘coming back to light and life’. Etymologically related to the noun nostos in the sense of ‘coming back to light and life’ is the noun nóos ‘mind’, which has the deeper meaning of ‘coming to’ in the sense of ‘coming back to consciousness’. Two definitive books on the Greek reflexes of the root *nes- ‘return, come back’: Frame 1978 and 2009. As for nostos ‘homecoming’ in the sense of ‘song of homecoming’, see O.01.326–327. [[GN 2017.01.02.]]

O.01.007

subject heading(s): atasthaliā ‘recklessness’; Will of Zeus
The companions of Odysseus are destroyed because of their own atasthaliai ‘deeds-of-recklessness’. The narrative emphasizes that the companions must own their mistakes. It is essential to note here that the destruction of the companions here is caused not by the Will of Zeus: rather, they are destroyed because they suffer the consequences of doing what they did of their own free will. I add a further note here: I translated the plural of atasthaliā ‘recklessness’ here as ‘deeds-of-recklessness’ in order to convey the fact that a singular noun expressing an abstraction can refer to concrete examples of the abstraction when it is used in the plural. So for example atasthaliā ‘recklessness’ is an abstraction, but here at O.01.007 the plural atasthaliai refers to concrete examples of recklessness—in this case, the recklessness is exemplified by the killing and eating of the Cattle of the Sun. [[GN 2017.03.02 via BA 113.]]

O.01.008

subject heading(s): nēpios ‘disconnected’
The Homeric contexts of nēpios, as the work of Edmunds 1990 | 2016 has shown, point to an etymology involving a combination of the negative prefix *n̥- with the root *Hp- in the sense of ‘connect’, as in Latin in-eptus ‘non-connected’, not with the root * ek w - in the sense of ‘speak’, as in Latin in-fāns ‘non-speaking’. What is at stake in the meaning of nēpios is connectivity with parental models and, by extension, with ancestral models. The connectivity may be merely behavioral, as in the case of young animals that survive by staying connected to the older animals that generated them. In the case of humans, the connectivity that begins at infancy is not only behavioral but also mental, extending into adult patterns of consciously following ancestral models of behavior. Further, such connectedness to models may be not only mental but also emotional and even moral. And to be disconnected from such models runs the risk of being doomed for destruction, as we see here at O.01.008 in the case of the companions who followed Odysseus. Their disconnectedness is moral as well as mental. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.01.010

subject heading(s): hamothen ‘starting-from-any-single-point-of-departure’; theā ‘goddess’; elliptic plural; Homer’s ‘I’ and Homer’s ‘we’; ellipsis of ‘we’ for ‘I’ in referring to the Master Narrator
Detail 1. I translate hamothen as ‘starting-from-any-single-point-of-departure’ as a way of differentiating this expression from enthen ‘starting-from-that-[specific-]point of departure’ as at O.08.500, where Demodokos starts his narrative at a specific point in the action.
Detail 2. The form theā ‘goddess’ is Aeolic: see the comment at I.01.001.
Detail 3. On the epithet thugatēr (vocative thugater) Dios ‘daughter of Zeus’, see the anchor comment at I.03.374.
Detail 4. I translate eipe kai hēmīn, which means literally ‘tell us also’, as ‘tell-me-as-you-have-told-those-who-came-before-me’ in order to convey the idea that the ‘us’ here refers not only to the ‘me’ of the Master Narrator but also, elliptically, to all the previous master narrators of the Odyssey. In other words, the narration acknowledges not only the horizontal singular ‘me’ of O.01.001 but also the vertical plural succession of performers that led up, in the course of time, to the ultimate ‘me’ of the here-and-now in performance. On ellipsis, the elliptic plural, and the ellipsis of successive ‘I’-s in the ‘we’ of the Master Narrator, see also the comment on I.02.486. On ellipsis in general, see I.04.196; also I.06.209, I.07.015–017. [[GN 2017.03.06 via HTL 174.]]

O.01.022–026

subject heading(s): dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’; Aithiopes ‘Aethiopians’; Ōkeanos; coincidence of opposites
The Olympians habitually go to the realm of the Aethiopians, situated on the banks of the cosmic river Ōkeanos, to dine with them there. The Aethiopians simultaneously inhabit the Far West and the Far East. This simultaneity is a mark of a theme that can best be described as a coincidence of opposites. See the comments on I.01.423–425. Here at O.01.022–026, only Poseidon is visiting the Aethiopians. Unlike other humans, the Aethiopians still dine with the gods. Other humans have been separated from the gods and must therefore sacrifice to them instead of dining with them. [[GN 2017.03.02 via BA 205–206, 213, 218; also GMP 237.]]

O.01.032–034

Q&T via PH 241
subject heading(s): atasthaliā ‘recklessness’; Will of Zeus
Near the beginning of the Iliad, in contemplating the countless algea ‘pains’, I.01.002, suffered in the Trojan War, the Master Narrator declares that his narration is the Will of Zeus in the process of reaching fulfillment, I.01.005. Near the beginning of the Odyssey, by contrast, Zeus himself declares that mortals are unjustified in saying that the algea ‘pains’ that they suffer, O.01.034, are caused by the gods. The god continues: it is of their own free will, O.01.033–034, that mortals commit atasthaliai ‘deeds of recklessness’, O.01.034, and so their pains are huper moron ‘beyond what is fated’, O.01.034. See already the relevant comments at O.01.007. So, mortals are unjustified in trying to hold the gods legally responsible, as expressed by the verb aitiâsthai ‘hold responsible’, O.01.032. [[GN 2017.03.02 via PH 241.]]

O.01.088–095

Q&T via H24H 9§16
subject heading(s): journey to Pylos and Sparta; menos ‘mental power’; punthanesthai ‘learn’; akouein ‘hear’; nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’; kleos ‘glory’ (of poetry)
|88 αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν Ἰθάκηνδε ἐλεύσομαι, ὄφρα οἱ υἱὸν |89 μᾶλλον ἐποτρύνω καί οἱ μένος ἐν φρεσὶ θείω, |90 εἰς ἀγορὴν καλέσαντα κάρη κομόωντας Ἀχαιοὺς |91 πᾶσι μνηστήρεσσιν ἀπειπέμεν, οἵ τέ οἱ αἰεὶ |92 μῆλ’ ἁδινὰ σφάζουσι καὶ εἰλίποδας ἕλικας βοῦς. |93 πέμψω δ’ ἐς Σπάρτην τε καὶ ἐς Πύλον ἠμαθόεντα |94 νόστον πευσόμενον πατρὸς φίλου, ἤν που ἀκούσῃ, |95 ἠδ’ ἵνα μιν κλέος ἐσθλὸν ἐν ἀνθρώποισιν ἔχῃσιν.
|88 As for me, I will go travel to Ithaca, going to his [= Odysseus’] son |89 in order to give him [= Telemachus] more encouragement and to put mental power [menos] into his heart [phrenes]. |90 He is to summon the long-haired Achaeans for a meeting in assembly, |91 and he is to speak out to all the suitors [of his mother Penelope], who persist in |92 slaughtering again and again any number of his sheep and oxen. |93 And I will conduct [pempein] him to Sparta and to sandy Pylos, |94 and thus he will learn [punthanesthai] the return [nostos] of his dear [philos] father, if by chance he [= Telemachus] hears [akouein] it, |95 and thus may genuine glory [kleos] possess him throughout humankind.
Here the nostos of Odysseus, O.01.094, is shown to be not only a ‘homecoming’ but also a ‘song of homecoming’. On the meaning ‘song of homecoming’, see the comment on O.01.326–327. On kleos in the sense of an overall reference to the ‘glory’ of poetry, see the comment on I.02.325. Here at O.01.088–095, we can see that nostos as a ‘song of homecoming’ is a prerequisite for the quest of Odysseus to achieve the kleos ‘glory’ of poetry. Odysseus will receive the kleos ‘glory’ of his own Odyssey only if he achieves a successful nostos ‘homecoming’, and it is the kleos ‘glory’ of poetry that turns his homecoming into a song of homecoming. What the goddess says at O.01.094 is not that Telemachus will learn about the nostos of Odysseus if he is fortunate enough to hear about it. In the original Greek text, the noun nostos is the direct object of both the verb punthanesthai, ‘learn’ and the verb akouein ‘hear’ at O.01.094 here, and that is why I chose to translate the verse this way: ‘and thus he will learn [punthanesthai] the return [nostos] of his dear [philos] father, if by chance he [= Telemachus] hears [akouein] it’. Elsewhere too in the Odyssey, we see nostos as the direct object of punthanesthai ‘learn’: O.02.215, O.02.264, O.02.360, O.04.714—as also of akouein ‘hear’: O.01.287, O.02.218, O.02.360. It is not a question of learning about a homecoming, of hearing about a homecoming. Rather, Telemachus will learn the actual song of the homecoming, the song of nostos, by hearing it. He will actually hear the song from the hero Nestor in Odyssey 3 and from the hero Menelaos along with his divine consort Helen in Odyssey 4. (This formulation is epitomized from H24H 9§20; see also Stone 2016.09.28.) [[GN 2017.03.02.]]

O.01.088–089

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’; Athena as mentor; Méntēs and Méntōr
(What follows is epitomized from H24H 9§17.) At a council of the gods, the goddess Athena declares her intention to go to Ithaca to become a mentor to the young hero Telemachus, O.01.088–089. Descending from Olympus and landing in Ithaca, the goddess assumes the human form of a fatherly hero named Méntēs, O.01.105, who proceeds to give wise advice to the young hero. In a subsequent intervention, O.02.268, the goddess will assume the human form of another fatherly hero, named Méntōr, and, as in the present intervention, this other father-substitute will likewise proceed to give wise advice to the young hero. These two names Méntēs and Méntōr are both related to the noun menos, which I translate as ‘mental power’. This word, as we can see here at O.01.089, refers to the heroic ‘power’ that the goddess Athena says she will put into Telemachus. The noun menos, usually translated as ‘power’ or ‘strength’, is derived from the verb-root mnē-, meaning ‘mentally connect’ (details in GMP 113). Likewise derived from this verb-root are the agent nouns Méntēs and Méntōr, which both mean ‘he who connects mentally’. When a divinity connects a hero to his heroic mentality, the hero will have menos, that is, ‘power’ or ‘strength’. To have heroic power or strength, you have to have a heroic mentality. See further the comment on O.01.320–322. [[GN 2017.03.02.]]

O.01.093

Q&T via Nagy 2015.09.24§35 (with modifications)
subject heading(s): Cretan Odyssey; “Cretan lies”
The text as transmitted by Aristarchus (see Inventory of terms and names) reads:
πέμψω δ’ ἐς Σπάρτην τε καὶ ἐς Πύλον ἠμαθόεντα

I [= Athena] will conduct [pempein]him [= Telemachus] on his way to Sparta and to sandy Pylos
But the text as transmitted by Zenodotus (see again the Inventory) reads:
πέμψω δ’ ἐς Κρήτην τε καὶ ἐς Πύλον ἠμαθόεντα

‘I [= Athena] will conduct [pempein] him [= Telemachus] on his way to Crete and to sandy Pylos’
The variant reading that we see transmitted here by Zenodotus (quoted in the scholia for O.03.313) indicates a variant epic tradition to which I will refer hereafter as a Cretan Odyssey. Further details at O.01.284–286, anchor comment on Cretan Odyssey. [[GN 2017.03.05 via Nagy 2015.09.24§35; see also HTL 39.]]

O.01.103

subject heading(s): dēmos ‘community, district’
Here Ithaca is figured as one single dēmos ‘community, district’. [[GN 2017.03.02 via BA 233.]]

O.01.105

subject heading(s): Méntēs
The meaning of the name Méntēs, ‘he who connects mentally’, is relevant to the plot of the Odyssey: see the comments on O.01.088–089. [[GN 2017.03.07 via GMP 113.]]

O.01.153–155

subject heading(s): Phemios; aeidein ‘sing’; kitharis ‘lyre’; phormizein ‘play on the lyre’; rhapsodes; citharodes
The singer of tales here, named Phemios, O.01.154, is ‘singing’ for the suitors as his audience, and the word translated as ‘sing’ here is aeidein at O.01.154 and at O.01.155. Such a singer is not exactly the equivalent of a “court poet,” since Phemios is singing for the suitors against his will, that is, he is singing anankēi ‘by way of constraint’, O.01.154. And what kind of a singer is this Phemios? He sings while accompanying himself on a kind of lyre, designated by the noun kitharis at O.01.153; also, his playing on the lyre is designated by the verb phormizein at O.01.055. In Plato Ion 533b-c, Phemios is described as a rhapsōidos ‘rhapsode’. The description is accurate in the sense that rhapsodes were professional performers of Homeric poetry in the classical period, as we see clearly in the overall context of Plato’s Ion. But this same description is inaccurate in the sense that rhapsodes in the classical period performed Homeric poetry without accompanying themselves on the kitharā ‘lyre’: as we see overall in Plato’s Ion and elsewhere, the rhapsodic form of ‘singing’ Homeric poetry was basically recitative, with reduced melody. By contrast, as we read in Plato Ion 533b-c, performers in the classical period who sang with full-blown melody while accompanying themselves on the kitharā ‘lyre’ were called kitharōidoi ‘citharodes’, that is, ‘kitharā-singers’. In other words, these ‘lyre-singers’ were performers of what we call lyric. At the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens during the classical period, these lyre-singers or citharodes competed with each other in singing lyric, while rhapsodes competed with each other in singing epic. As we can learn from Plato Ion 533b-c, the prototypical citharode was considered to be Orpheus, while the prototypical rhapsode was Phemios. But Phemios, even though he sings epic and not lyric, is not exactly a rhapsode in the classical sense of the term: as I have already pointed out, Phemios sings while accompanying himself on a kind of lyre, designated by the noun kitharis at O.01.153; also, his playing on the lyre is designated by the verb phormizein at O.01.055. Nevertheless, Plato has a point in considering Phemios a prototypical rhapsode, since what he sings is epic, which is what rhapsodes recite in the classical period—and which is not what citharodes any longer sing. On Phemios as a singer of epic, see the comment on O.01.325–327. [[GN 2017.03.07 via HC 3§41.]]

O.01.241

subject heading(s): abduction by gusts of wind; harpuiai ‘rapacious gusts of wind, Harpies’
The theme of abduction by gusts of wind is analyzed at length in the comment at O.15.250–251. [[GN 2017.08.03 via BA 194, GMP 243.]]

O.01.284–286

anchor comment on a Cretan Odyssey
Q&T via Nagy 2015.09.24§35
subject heading(s): Cretan Odyssey; “Cretan lies”
The text as transmitted by Aristarchus (see Inventory of terms and names) reads:
πρῶτα μὲν ἐς Πύλον ἐλθὲ καὶ εἴρεο Νέστορα δῖον,
κεῖθεν δὲ Σπάρτηνδε παρὰ ξανθὸν Μενέλαον·
ὃς γὰρ δεύτατος ἦλθεν Ἀχαιῶν χαλκοχιτώνων.

‘First you [= Telemachus] go to Pylos and ask radiant Nestor
and then from there to Sparta and to golden-haired Menelaos,
the one who was the last of the Achaeans, wearers of bronze tunics, to come back home.’
But the text as transmitted by Zenodotus (see again the Inventory) reads:
πρῶτα μὲν ἐς Πύλον ἐλθέ, …
κεῖθεν δ’ ἐς Κρήτην τε παρ’ Ἰδομενῆα ἄνακτα,
ὃς γὰρ δεύτατος ἦλθεν Ἀχαιῶν χαλκοχιτώνων.

‘First go to Pylos …
and then from there to Crete and to king Idomeneus
who was the last of the Achaeans, wearers of bronze tunics, to come back home.’
Here at O.01.284–286, as also already at O.01.093, the variant reading that we see transmitted by Zenodotus (quoted in the scholia for O.03.313) indicates a variant epic tradition to which I have already referred as a Cretan Odyssey in my comment on O.01.093. As I argue in Nagy 2015.09.24§§36–37, what we see in these variant verses is a trace of a Cretan Odyssey as primarily represented in our Odyssey by the “Cretan lies,” which are micro-narratives embedded in the epic macro-narrative of the Homeric Odyssey. In comments forthcoming, there will be more to say about these “Cretan lies.” Here I confine my comments to points that are relevant to what we read at O.01.093 and O.01.284–286. In “our” Odyssey, as Nestor reports at O.03.191–192, Idomeneus after the Trojan War returns to Crete with all his men safe and sound. In the Cretan Odyssey, by contrast, Idomeneus seems to have traveled with Odysseus after the conquest of Troy by the Achaeans, and this king of the Cretans even experienced, together with Odysseus, the horrors of the Cave of the Cyclops: such a story about joint adventures experienced by Idomeneus and Odysseus is attested in a painting on a red-figure stamnos, 480 BCE, featuring the name-tags ΙΔΑΜΕΝΕΥΣ ‘Ida-meneus’ [sic] and ΟΔΥΣΥΣ ‘Odusus’ [sic] appended to images of these two heroes, showing each one of the two clinging to a ram’s underbelly (Levaniouk 2011:105). [[GN 2017.03.05 via Nagy 2015.09.24§§35–37; see also HTL 39.]]

O.01.299

subject heading(s): ep’ anthrōpous ‘throughout humankind’
This expression ep’ anthrōpous ‘throughout humankind’ is conventionally associated with words referring to remembrance by way of song. See the anchor comment at I.10.213. [[GN 2016.09.14 via BA 37.]]

O.01.320–322

Q&T via H24H 9§18
subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’; Méntēs and Méntōr; hupo-mnē- ‘mentally connect’
|320 … Into his heart [thūmos] |321 she [= Athena] had placed mental power [menos] and daring, and she had mentally-connected [hupo-mnē-] him with his father |322 even more than before.
(Here I epitomize from H24H 9§§18–19.) The idea of menos as ‘mental power’ is elegantly recapitulated here at O.01.320–321. The goddess Athena has just finished the first phase of her role as mentor to Telemachus. She had initiated this phase at O.01.088–089 after having assumed, as we saw at O.01.105, the human shape of the fatherly Méntēs. This name Méntēs, as I indicated in the comment on O.01.088–089, means ‘he who connects mentally’. Having finished with the role of Méntēs, the goddess now transforms herself into a bird and flies out of the palace through a lightwell on the roof, and what we see here at O.01.320–321 is the wording that describes what Athena had accomplished so far in connecting the mind of Telemachus with the mind of his father. In her role as Méntēs, ‘he who connects mentally’, the goddess has given to the hero Telemachus the menos or ‘mental power’ of connecting with the heroic identity of his father. That act of doing this is expressed here at O.01.321 by the verb hupo-mnē-, which means literally ‘mentally connect’ (details in GMP 113). But the mental connectivity of Telemachus is not yet complete, as we will see in the comment on O.01.346–352. [[GN 2017.03.02 via GMP 113.]]

O.01.320

anchor comment on thūmos ‘heart’ and on phrenes as ‘heart’
The noun thūmos, which I translate here as ‘heart’, expresses in Homeric diction the human capacity to feel and to think, taken together. In some Homeric contexts, thūmos is used as a synonym of phrenes, which can also be translated as ‘heart’, as in my comment on O.01.089. In other Homeric contexts, on the other hand, thūmos is pictured as the vital force that is contained by the phrenes (details in GMP 113n111). Even in such contexts, both words can be approximated as ‘heart’. In other still contexts, phrenes is best translated as ‘thinking’. Such a meaning is not contradictory, since Homeric diction leaves room for the idea that you can think with your heart. [[GN 2017.03.07 via H24H 9§18.]]

O.01.325–327

subject heading(s): Phemios; aoidos ‘singer’; aeidein ‘sing’; nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’; epic; epic Cycle
At O.01.325, Phemios is described as the aoidos ‘singer’ who aeidei ‘sings’ epic songs, and the epic song that he sings here is the nostos of the Achaeans, also at O.01.325, where nostos can be translated as not only ‘homecoming’ but also ‘song of homecoming’. Such a song is evidently epic, as we see for example in the title Nostoi ‘Songs of Homecoming’ in the epic Cycle. See under epic and epic Cycle in the Inventory of terms and names. See also the comment on O.01.153–155. [[GN 2017.03.07 via HC 3§41.]]

O.01.326–327

subject heading(s): nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’; lugros ‘disastrous’; epithet for narrative subject; relative clause as introductory outline of the overall narrative
The syntax here in O.01.326–327 shows that the use of the noun nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’ at O.01.326 as the grammatical object of aeidein ‘sing’ in the same verse makes this same noun the narrative subject of the song that is being sung by the singer Phemios. The nostos ‘homecoming’ is the song that the singer sings, and so the ‘homecoming’ is also a ‘sing of homecoming’. My translation ‘song of homecoming’ is meant to show that the homecoming is the song. The placement of the adjective lugros ‘disastrous’ at O.01.327 as an epithet for the narrative subject nostos ‘homecoming’ in the previous verse at O.01.326 is parallel to the placement of the adjective oulomenē ‘disastrous’ at I.01.002 as an epithet for the narrative subject mēnis ‘anger’ in the previous verse at I.01.001. See the comment on I.01.001–002. Another parallel is the placement of the adjective polutropos ‘turning-into-many-different-selves’ at O.01.001 as an epithet for the preceding narrative subject anēr ‘man’ in the same verse. There is further parallelism to be noted here. The epithet lugros ‘disastrous’ at O.01.327 for the narrative subject nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’ at O.01.326 is immediately followed by a relative clause that outlines the overall narrative here: Athena caused misfortune for some of the Achaeans. Similarly, the epithet oulomenē at I.01.002 for the narrative subject mēnis at I.01.001 is immediately followed by a relative clause that outlines the overall narrative of the Iliad: the anger of Achilles caused immeasurable misfortune. See the comment on I.01.002. Also, the epithet polutropos ‘turning-into-many-different-selves’ at O.01.001 for the preceding narrative subject anēr ‘man’ in the same verse is immediately followed by a relative clause that outlines the overall narrative of the Odyssey: the hero Odysseus suffered many misfortunes by veering many times and in many ways before he achieved a safe homecoming for himself. [[GN 2017.02.28 via GMP 47.]]

O.01.338

subject heading(s): kleiein ‘turn [deeds] into glory [kleos]’; epi-kleiein ‘turn [deeds] into glory [kleos] and pass it on’
To sing the kind of song that the singer Phemios sings—the song is called nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’ at O.01.326—is described here at O.01.338 as an act of transforming the erga ‘deeds’ of men and gods into the kleos ‘glory’ of poetry. The verb kleiein ‘turn into glory [kleos]’ takes as its direct object the noun erga ‘deeds’. [[GN 2017.03.02 via BA 97, PH 150.]]

O.01.340–341

subject heading(s): lugros ‘disastrous’; epithet for narrative subject carried over from one verse to the next
At O.01.326–327, we saw lugros ‘disastrous’ functioning as the epithet of the narrative subject of nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’. The narrative subject nostos as ‘song of homecoming’, O.01.326, was followed by the epithet as the first word in the next verse, lugros ‘disastrous’, O.01.327. So, the epithet was carried over from one verse to the next. Similarly here at O.01.340–341, the word aoidē ‘song’ referring to the song of homecoming, O.01.340, is followed by the epithet lugrē ‘disastrous’ as the first word in the next verse, O.01.341. Once again, the epithet is carried over from one verse to the next. Similarly also at I.01.001–002, the word mēnis referring to the song of the anger of Achilles, I.01.001, is followed by the epithet oulomenē ‘disastrous’ as the first word in the next verse, I.01.002. Yet again, the epithet is carried over from one verse to the next. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.01.342

subject heading(s): penthos alaston ‘grief unforgettable’[; “speaking name” (nomen loquens)]; epi-kleiein ‘turn [deeds] into glory [kleos] and pass it on’
For Penelope, the song that is sung by the singer Phemios, which is supposed to turn the deeds of men and gods into the kleos ‘glory’ of poetry, as we saw at O.01.338, produces the opposite effect here at O.01.342. The song sung by Phemios reminds her of her missing husband Odysseus, making her feel penthos alaston ‘grief unforgettable’, O.01.342. This expression signals lament, which is presented here as antithetical to the kind of kleos ‘glory’ that is heard by the audience of Phemios, who are the suitors of Penelope. The personal involvement of Penelope in the song of Odysseus is what makes the kleos that she hears different from the kleos that the suitors hear. For her the kleos contains penthos, while for them it does not. Relevant here is the meaning of the “speaking name” (nomen loquens) of Phemios: the adjectival Phēmios is derived from the noun phēmē, which can be interpreted as meaning ‘something said that means more than what is meant by the one who says it’. On phēmē, see the comment at O.02.035. In terms of this interpretation, Phemios is a singer whose songs mean more than what is meant by that singer. [[GN 2017.03.02 via BA 17, 97–98.]]

O.01.346–352

subject heading(s): epi-kleiein ‘turn [deeds] into glory [kleos] and pass it on’
Telemachus argues with his mother, defending the song that is sung by the singer Phemios about misfortunes experienced by heroes in the course of seeking a successful homecoming. There is a pleasure in the hearing of such a song, Telemachus says at O.01.346–347. Evidently, he does not yet understand the personal involvement of Penelope in the story of such homecoming—or of course his own involvement—because he does not yet understand that the ultimate character in the ultimate story of homecoming will be Odysseus himself. Telemachus speaks positively about the reception of the song of homecoming as sung by the singer Phemios. He says that the audience gives glory to the song, and the verb that is used in his wording is epi-kleiein at O.01.351, which I translate as ‘turn [deeds] into glory [kleos] and pass it on’. I render the epi- of epi-kleiein here as ‘and pass it on’, in the sense that epi- conveys the idea of ‘in addition to, on top of’, supplementing -kleiein in the sense of ‘turn [deeds] into glory [kleos]’. The wording of Telemachus is justifiable to the extent that the glory of heroes and gods as produced by the singer produces also glory for the song itself as received by the audience. That is to say, this verb epi-kleiein ‘turn [deeds] into glory [kleos] and pass it on’ is reciprocal: there is not only the giving of glory by the audience to the song sung by the singer but there is also the giving of glory by the singer to the song that he sings. Thus it is justifiable for Telemachus to say that the greatest glory goes to the aoidē ‘song‘, O.01.351, that is neōtatē ‘newest’, O.01.352, since the glory to be transmitted must be the latest glory to be received. The reception by the most recent audience must be decisively successful. What Telemachus does not yet understand, however, is that the most recent audience for an ongoing song of homecoming will be not the suitors but the ultimate audience of the Odyssey. The audience of the Odyssey will be the definitive audience for the reception of this ongoing song of homecoming. And, for that ultimate audience of the Odyssey, the ultimate hero of the song of homecoming will be Odysseus himself. [[GN 2017.03.02 via BA 98, PH 69.]]

O.01.383

subject heading(s): Antinoos
Here we see for the first time the leader of the suitors. His name, Anti-noos, is antithetical to the identity of Odysseus as an exponent of nóos ‘mind’, which stands for that hero’s special way of thinking in the Odyssey. On the nóos of Odysseus, see already the comment on O.01.003. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]
[ back ]

Odyssey Rhapsody 2

2017.03.08

The mentoring of Telemachus by Athena continues. First the goddess was Méntēs. Now she will become Méntōr to the young hero. Through the mentorship of the goddess, Telemachus modulates into mental connectivity: he will no longer be disconnected from the epic legacy of his father. As he boards the ship that will take him to Pylos, he is ready to connect with the Odyssey in progress.

Figure 26.Telemachus with Athena as Mentor (1810). Drawing by John Flaxman. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

O.02.001

subject heading(s): Ēōs; ēri-geneia ‘early-generated’ or ‘early-generating’
This epithet of Ēōs, goddess of the dawn, has a prefix ēri-, meaning ‘early’. See the comment at O.19.320. [[GN 2017.07.22 via GMP 246.]]

O.02.006–008

subject heading(s): assembling an assembly; agorē ‘assembly’
Thanks to mentoring by the goddess Athena, Telemachus takes the initiative of assembling an assembly. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.026

subject heading(s): agorē ‘assembly’
As we see from the context here, the agorē ‘assembly’ that is about to take place now in Ithaca is the first assembly to be assembled since Odysseus had left for Troy twenty years earlier. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.032

subject heading(s): piphauskesthai ‘say formally’; agoreuein ‘say in assembly’; dēmios ‘of the community [dēmos]’; dēmos ‘community, district’
The verb piphauskesthai ‘say formally’, referring here to what is being spoken in the agorē ‘assembly’, can be compared with the active form of the verb, piphauskein ‘say formally’, as it is used at I.18.500 in the context of describing what is happening at an agorē ‘assembly’, I.18.497, which is the context for the litigation scene as depicted on the Shield of Achilles. Whatever is spoken at an assembly like the one that is now in progress, O.02.032, can qualify as dēmion ‘of the community [dēmos]’ if it is public business, not private business. If whatever is spoken at the assembly qualifies as public business, then it is the business of the dēmos. See also the comment on O.02.080. On dēmos as ‘community, district’, see O.01.103; see also I.05.077–078. [[GN 2017.03.08 via BA 149, PH 251.]]

O.02.035

subject heading(s): phēmē ‘something said; something said that means more than what is meant by the one who says it’[; name of Phemios; “speaking name” (nomen loquens)]
The speech of the old man Aiguptios, O.02.025–034, is described by the Master Narrator as a phēmē ‘something said’, O.02.035. This translation ‘something said’ does not fully capture, however, the deeper meaning of the word, which is something like this: something said that means more than what is meant by the one who says it. Such a deeper meaning is made explicit at O.20.100 and O.20.105. See the comment at O.20.098–121, [HR]3§23. This interpretation of the meaning of phēmē is relevant to the meaning of the “speaking name” (nomen loquens) of Phemios the singer: the adjectival Phēmios is a derivative of the noun phēmē. Accordingly, Phemios is a singer whose songs mean more than what is meant by that singer. See the comment on O.01.342. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.037

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’
The context here shows that a speaker in an assembly holds the skēptron ‘scepter’ when it is his turn to speak. See I.01.015. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.044

subject heading(s): piphauskesthai ‘say formally’; agoreuein ‘say in assembly’; dēmios ‘of the community [dēmos]’; dēmos ‘community, district’
See the comment on O.02.032. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.047

subject heading(s): ēpios ‘connected, connecting’; back-formation
This form is a back-formation from nēpios ‘disconnected’, becoming that negative word’s positive alternative. A typical source of connectivity is the father in relation to his son. Full argumentation by Edmunds 1990 | 2016. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.067

subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’
Here the word refers generally to the cosmic sanction of the immortals in reaction to injustices committed by mortals. On mēnis ‘anger’ as cosmic sanction in general, I refer to the definitive work of Muellner 1996. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.080

subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’
The gesture here of throwing the scepter to the ground is comparable with what happens at I.01.233–246. See the comment there. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.085–128

subject heading(s): speech of Antinoos; web of Penelope
This speech is most noteworthy for its incorporation of the myth about the continual weaving and unweaving of the web of Penelope. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.092–109

subject heading(s): web of Penelope; nóos ‘mind’
The intent of Penelope to outwit the suitors by way of her continual weaving and unweaving of her web is described in terms of her qualities of nóos ‘mind’, O.02.092. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.121–122

subject heading(s): noēma ‘feat of the mind [nóos]’; homoio- ‘similar to, same as’
The mental feats of Penelope are described here as noēmata ‘feats of the mind [nóos]’ that are incomparable to any other woman’s feats. The comparison is expressed by way of the adjective homoio- ‘similar to, same as’ (further analysis in MoM 2§12). This adjective homoio- ‘similar to, same as’ can be used in comparisons that express rhetorically the incomparability of the referent, as here. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.163

subject heading(s): pēma ‘pain’; kulindesthai ‘roll’
The oncoming pēma ‘pain’ is pictured here as a boulder that breaks off from mountainous heights overhead and starts rolling downward from above, ever increasing in speed as it nears ground zero: only when the boulder has reached a level plain does it finally stop ‘rolling’, as expressed by the verb kulindesthai. For other instances of such an image, see the comment on I.11.347. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.212–218

subject heading(s): journey to Pylos and Sparta; punthanesthai ‘learn’; akouein ‘hear’; nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’; kleos ‘glory (of poetry)’
Athena’s idea of conducting Telemachus on a journey to Pylos and Sparta is introduced, as we saw, already at O.01.088–095. See the comment there. Here too at O.02.212–218, as there, nostos in the sense of ‘song of homecoming’ is the direct object of the verb punthanesthai ‘learn’, O.02.215, and also the direct object of the verb akouein ‘hear’, O.02.218. Elsewhere too in the Odyssey, we see nostos as the direct object of punthanesthai ‘learn’: O.02.264, O.02.360, O.04.714. Also of akouein ‘hear’: O.01.094, O.01.287, O.02.360. Further, such nostos as ‘song of homecoming’ is linked with kleos ‘glory (of poetry)’, as at least indirectly at O.02.217 here. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.224–228

subject heading(s): Athena as mentor; Méntōr
Athena speaks as mentor and as Méntōr. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.225

subject heading(s): Méntōr
The meaning of the name Méntōr, ‘he who connects mentally’, is relevant to the plot of the Odyssey: see the comments on O.01.088–089. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.234

subject heading(s): ēpios ‘connected, connecting’; back-formation
On this back-formation from nēpios ‘disconnected’, see again the comment on O.02.047. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.239

subject heading(s): dēmos ‘community, district’
From the context here, we can see that the dēmos ‘community’ of Ithaca is populated by not only by the families of the suitors. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.262–269

subject heading(s): Athena as mentor; Méntōr; nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’; punthanesthai ‘learn’
In the exchange between Athena and Telemachus here, the role of the goddess as mentor of the young hero converges with her role as the hero Méntōr. Once again here, nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’ is the direct object of punthanesthai ‘learn’ at O.02.264. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.270

subject heading(s): menos ‘mental power’
The idea that menos ‘mental power’, O.02.270, has been instilled into Telemachus by his father is conveyed here by the verb stazein, which literally means ‘drip’. We may compare line 35 of Archilochus F 196A (ed. West), where menos refers explicitly to ejaculated semen. For other references to male arousal by way of words referring to mental power, see Nagy 1974:267–268. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.282

subject heading(s): dikaios ‘righteous’; dikē ‘justice, righteousness’
We see here at O.02.282 an occurrence that is rare in Homeric diction: dikaios in the sense of ‘righteous’, derived from dikē in the absolutized sense of ‘justice, righteousness’. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.313

tagging : nēpios ‘disconnected’
Telemachus admits here that he had been nēpios ‘disconnected’ in the immediate context of asserting that he is now no longer so. What made him grow up, so to speak? The overall context shows that it was the mentorship of the goddess Athena. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.360

subject heading(s): nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’; punthanesthai ‘learn’; akouein ‘hear’
On nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’ as the direct object of both punthanesthai ‘learn’ and akouein ‘hear’, see again the comment on O.01.088–095. [[GN 2017.03.08 via BA 40.]]

O.02.323

subject heading(s): lōbeuein ‘say words of insult’; kertomeîn ‘say words of insult’; language of praise/blame; blame poetry
The verb lōbeuein ‘say words of insult’ is parallel to kertomeîn ‘say words of insult’, on which see the comment at I.02.256. [[GN 2017.03.08.]]

O.02.350

subject heading(s): lāros ‘delicious’ as epithet of wine
This word may be related to the name Larikhos: Nagy 2015.10.01§54.
[ back ]

Odyssey Rhapsody 3

2017.03.29

Aided by the goddess Athena, young Telemachus becomes an ideal guest for his host, the elderly Nestor. Telemachus dearly needs the diplomatic skills of Athena, since Nestor is a prime devotee of the god Poseidon, who is not only a major rival of the goddess but also a relentless antagonist of Odysseus. Nestor’s stories about the travels of the Achaeans as they try to make their way back home after the Trojan War will help connect Telemachus with the ultimate story of his father’s own homecoming.

Figure 27. Nestor’s Sacrifice (1805). Engraving after John Flaxman (1755-1826). Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996. Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported).

O.03.001

subject heading(s): rhapsodic sequencing
At O.02.434, which is the last verse of Rhapsody 2, there is a clause featuring the particle men (μέν). And now at O.03.001, which is the first verse of Rhapsody 3, there is a clause featuring the particle de (δέ). It can be argued that such divisions are typical of rhapsodic practice, where one performing rhapsode (rhapsōidos) could leave off performing after he finishes with the men-part of a syntactical construction while the next rhapsode, in relay, could take up the performance by restarting with the following de-part. See the comment at I.09.001–003 / anchor comment on a Rhapsody as one of 24 units of performance. [[GN via PP 161n30, also with reference to I.18.354–356.]]

O.03.033

subject heading(s): dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’
See the comments on I.01.423–425 and I.04.048. [[GN 2017.03.29 via BA 218.]]

O.03.036

subject heading(s): Peisistratos; Peisistratidai
Here is the first mention of Peisistratos, son of Nestor, in the Odyssey. (He is not mentioned in the Iliad.) It can be argued that this Peisistratos was claimed to be the ancestor of Peisistratidai, the lineage that dominated Athens in the sixth century BCE. On Peisistratos of Athens, see also I.10.000. [[GN 2017.03.29 via PH 155, 192.]]

O.03.066

Q&T via BA 128.
subject heading(s): dais ‘feast; division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’; daiesthai ‘feast; divide (meat), apportion, distribute’
The derivation of the noun dais ‘feast; division of portions (of meat); sacrifice’ from the verb daiesthai ‘feast; divide(meat), apportion, distribute’ is re-enacted here by way of a figura etymologica: that is to say, the combination of the verb here with the noun as its direct object actually re-enacts the etymology. [[GN 2017.03.29 via BA 128.]]

O.03.083

subject heading(s): kleos ‘glory’ (of poetry); akouein ‘hear’; nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’
On the collocation of kleos ‘glory’ (of poetry) with nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’ in the context of references to the glorification of Odysseus in the Odyssey, see the comments on O.01.088–095; also O.02.212–218 and O.02.360. [[GN 2017.03.209 via BA 40.]]

O.03.112

subject heading(s): Antilokhos; Nestor’s entanglement; evocation; epic Cycle
Here is the first mention of Antilokhos, son of Nestor, in the Odyssey. On the importance of this figure in the Iliad, see I.08.078–117 / anchor comment on Nestor’s entanglement and the poetics of evocation. See also the comments on I.09.057–058. [[GN 2017.03.29 via PH 155.]]

O.03.118

subject heading(s): rhaptein ‘sew, connect threadings’ in the sense of ‘plotting’
Metaphors of fabric-work can have negative connotations, as here. [[GN 2017.03.29 via PP 64n23.]]

O.03.120–121

subject heading(s): homoio- ‘similar to, same as’
This adjective homoio- ‘similar to, same as’ and its verb homoioûn ‘compare’ can be used in comparisons that express rhetorically the incomparability of the referent, as here. See also I.02.553–554 and I.10.437. [[GN 2017.03.29 via MoM 2§9.]]

O.03.130–183

anchor comment on two variant myths in Odyssey 3 and Odyssey 4, part 1
subject heading(s): mutually contradictory local variations in mythmaking; dominant vs. recessive versions of myths; nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’; eris ‘strife’
Epitomized from Nagy 2015§§69–75:
[§69] In Odyssey O.03.130–183, old Nestor is telling a tale to young Telemachus about the various homecomings of the Achaeans after they succeeded in conquering the city of Troy. (Nestor’s tales of homecoming in Odyssey 3 reflect poetic traditions of great antiquity, which are analyzed most incisively and intuitively by Frame 2009:180–193.) The tale is told from the perspective of Nestor’s own experiences. My point of departure is a detail at O.03.169, where Nestor says that he and a group of his fellow Achaeans stopped over at the island of Lesbos on their way home from Troy, O.03.169. One time before and one time after their stopover at Lesbos, Nestor and his group participated in making sacrifices. The story about the first of these two sacrifices, as we will see [§75], contradicts a story in Song 17 of Sappho, which tells about a single sacrifice that involves Agamemnon and Menelaos.
[§70] The first of the two sacrifices mentioned by Nestor in Odyssey 3 takes place at the island of Tenedos, O.03.159, which is situated directly to the west of Troy. By contrast, the island of Lesbos is further away, to the southwest of the Trojan coastland. In Odyssey 3, the divine recipients of the sacrifice at Tenedos are designated only in general terms, as theoi ‘the gods’, O.03.159. Then, continuing their voyage back home from Troy, Nestor and his group set sail from Tenedos, and their next stopover, as already noted, is the island of Lesbos, O.03.169.
[§71] After their stopover at Lesbos, O.03.169, Nestor and his group continued their sea voyage back home. Next, they sailed over the open sea, with no more stopovers, until they reached the city of Geraistos, at the southern tip of the island of Euboea, O.03.177. By now the homecoming of this group of heroes was nearly complete, since the island of Euboea is situated right next to the European mainland. And here, at Euboea, Nestor participated in the second of the two sacrifices to which I have been referring, O.03.178–179. This second sacrifice involving Nestor was meant as a signal of thanksgiving for the successful homecoming of his group of Achaean voyagers, and the divine recipient of the sacrifice here is specified as the god Poseidon, O.03.178, whom Nestor and his fellow Achaeans honored by slaughtering, according to his tale, a multitude of bulls, O.03.178–179.
[§72] So, the second sacrifice attended by Nestor and his group, which took place on the island of Euboea, was a success. But the first sacrifice, which he had also attended and which had taken place on the island of Tenedos, was a failure. The failure, as narrated by Nestor in Odyssey 3, can be linked with a quarrel that broke out, evidently in the context of the feasting that followed this first sacrifice. The quarrel is marked by the word eris ‘strife’, O.03.160. Compare the words erizein ‘have strife’ at I.01.006 and eris ‘strife’ at I.01.008, with reference to the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon. In the case of the eris ‘strife’ at O.03.160, who quarreled with whom? The narrative answers the question: the two heroes who quarreled with each other were Nestor and Odysseus, O.03.161–166.
[§73] This quarrel between Nestor and Odysseus, O.03.161–166, cannot be understood without first considering an earlier quarrel that is central to the narration of Odyssey 3, and the narrator is once again Nestor. According to the tale as Nestor tells it, the two Sons of Atreus, Agamemnon and Menelaos, had quarreled with each other right after their victory at Troy. In this case as well, quarrel is marked by the word eris ‘strife’, O.03.136. And, as a result of this quarrel, all the Achaeans had split into two groups, so that half of them followed Menelaos as he sailed off from Troy to Tenedos while the other half stayed with Agamemnon at Troy, O.03.130–158. In terms of this story, Agamemnon intended to perform a sacrifice of one hundred cattle to the goddess Athena before leaving Troy, O.03.143–144, but Menelaos, leading half of the Achaeans, had sailed off together with Nestor and Odysseus and Diomedes before such a sacrifice could take place, O.03.153–154. It was only after Menelaos and his half of the Achaeans stopped over at the nearby island of Tenedos that they arranged for their own sacrifice there, O.03.159. And it was there at Tenedos that a second quarrel broke out—the quarrel between Nestor and Odysseus, O.03.161–166.
[§74] This second quarrel in the tale told by Nestor in Odyssey 3 resulted in a splitting of the group that had sided with Menelaos after the original splitting of all the Achaeans into one separate group siding with Menelaos and another separate group siding with Agamemnon. What resulted from the new split after the quarrel between Nestor and Odysseus was that Odysseus, together with his followers, now sailed off from Tenedos back to Troy in order to rejoin Agamemnon there, O.03.160–164, while Nestor together with Diomedes sailed on from their stopover at the island of Tenedos and arrived with their followers at the next stopover, at the island of Lesbos, O.03.165–169. When Nestor and Diomedes were already at Lesbos, O.03.169, they were joined there by Menelaos, who arrived later, O.03.168.
[§75] And here I stop to highlight the contradiction between the story as told here in the Odyssey and the story as told in Song 17 of Sappho. In the Odyssey, we see that Menelaos came to Lesbos, but there is no mention here of Agamemnon. In Song 17, by contrast, it seems that both brothers came to Lesbos [Nagy 2015§50]:
|1 πλάϲιον δη μ̣[.....]...οιϲ᾿ α̣[ ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣]ω |2 πότνι’ Ἦρα, ϲὰ χ[…..]ϲ̣ ̣ἐόρτ[α] |3 τὰν ἀράταν Ἀτρ[έϊδα]ι̣ π̣ό̣ηϲαν |4 τόι βαϲίληεϲ, |5 ἐκτελέϲϲαντεϲ μ[εγά]λ̣οιϲ ἀέθλοιϲ̣ |6 πρῶτα μὲν πὲρ Ἴ̣[λιον]· ἄψερον δέ̣ |7 τυίδ’ ἀπορμάθεν[τεϲ, ὄ]δ̣ο̣ν γὰρ̣ εὔρη̣[ν] |8 οὐκ ἐδ[ύναντο⌋, |9 πρὶν ϲὲ καὶ Δί’ ἀντ[ίαον] π̣εδέλθην̣ |10 καὶ Θυώναϲ ἰμε̣[ρόεντα] π̣αῖδα· |11 νῦν δὲ κ[αί..... …] ]...πόημεν |12 κὰτ τὸ πάλ̣[αιον {464|465} |13 ἄγνα καὶ κα̣[..... ὄ]χλοϲ |14 παρθέ[νων..... γ]υναίκων |15 ἀμφιϲ̣.[…] |16 μετρ’ ὀ̣λ̣[ολύγαϲ].
|1 Close by, …, |2 O Queen [potnia] Hera, … your […] festival [eortā], |3 which, vowed-in-prayer [arâsthai], the Sons of Atreus did arrange [poieîn] |4 for you, kings that they were, |5 after first having completed great labors [aethloi], |6 around Troy, and, next [apseron], |7 after having set forth to come here [tuide], since finding the way |8 was not possible for them |9 until they would approach you (Hera) and Zeus lord of suppliants [antiaos] |10 and (Dionysus) the lovely son of Thyone. |11 And now we are arranging [poieîn] [the festival], |12 in accordance with the ancient way […] |13 holy [agna] and […] a throng [okhlos] |14 of girls [parthenoi] […] and women [gunaikes] |15 on either side … |16 the measured sound of ululation [ololūgā].
Sappho Song 17.1–16
On the reading τόι (with the acute accent preserved in P.GC inv. 105 fr. 2) , see Nagy 2015§50. [[GN 2017.03.29.]]

O.03.130

subject heading(s): nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’; lugros ‘disastrous’; epithet for narrative subject; mēnis ‘anger’
Nestor’s story about the nostos ‘homecoming’ of the Achaeans’ is in and of itself a ‘song of / about homecoming’, as we see from the description of this nostos as lugros ‘disastrous’, an adjective that is used here as an epithet of the narrative subject. See the comment on O.01.326–327, where nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’ at O.01.326 is described as lugros ‘disastrous’ at O.01.327. See also the comment on I.01.002, where the adjective oulomenē ‘disastrous’, describing mēnis ‘anger’ in the previous verse, I.01.001, is likewise an epithet of the narrative subject. In that case, the narrative subject is the mēnis ‘anger’ of Achilles. Similarly in the context of the ‘disastrous [lugros] homecoming [nostos]’ of the Achaeans here at O.03.130, there is a foregrounding of mēnis ‘anger’, at O.03.135. In this case, the anger emanates from the goddess Athena herself. [[GN 2017.03.29 via GMP 215.]]

O.03.133–135

subject heading(s): mēnis ‘anger’; dikaios ‘righteous’; dikē ‘justice, righteousness’; noēmōnmindful’; nóos ‘mind, mindfulness’; antagonism between immortal and mortal
The mēnis ‘anger’ of the goddess Athena, O.03.135, is provoked by a failure, on the part of some of the Argives=Achaeans, to be dikaioi ‘righteous’ and noēmones ‘mindful [= having nóos]’, O.03.133–134. The wording of Nestor is diplomatic in avoiding the mention of specific heroes as deserving blame for a failure in dikē ‘justice, righteousness’ and nóos ‘mind, mindfulness’. Among those heroes who are implicated, even without being named, as Odysseus himself, so that even this hero may be a target here of the mēnis ‘anger’ of Athena. [[GN 2017.03.29 via GMP 215, with reference to a latent antagonism between Athena and Odysseus.]]

O.03.160–169

subject heading(s): splitting of groups into sub-groups
Epitomized from Nagy 2017§78:
Here we see that Odysseus together with a sub-group of Achaean followers had already sailed from Tenedos back to Troy in order to rejoin Agamemnon, who was still there, O.03.160–164, while Nestor and Diomedes together with their Achaean followers sailed on from their stopover at the island of Tenedos and arrived at the next stopover, which was the island of Lesbos, O.03.165–169. There, at Lesbos, Nestor and Diomedes were joined by Menelaos, who arrived later, O.03.168–169. [[GN 2017.03.29.]]

O.03.168–169

Q&T via Nagy 2015§100
subject heading(s): late arrivals of Menelaos
|168 ὀψὲ δὲ δὴ μετὰ νῶϊ κίε ξανθὸς Μενέλαος, |169 ἐν Λέσβῳ δ’ ἔκιχεν δολιχὸν πλόον ὁρμαίνοντας|168
He came late, golden-haired [xanthos] Menelaos did, after the two of us [= Nestor and Diomedes]. |169 It was at Lesbos that he [= Menelaos] caught up with us, as we were planning the long part of our sea voyage.
O.03.168–169
Nestor and Diomedes are already at Lesbos, and there they are joined by Menelaos, who arrived later. What follows is an epitome of Nagy 2017§§101–103, 105–106:
[§101] I interpret the wording of O.03.168–169 to mean that Menelaos arrived too late to participate fully in a sacrifice of one hundred cattle at Lesbos. And the place for this sacrifice to happen would have been the precinct of Hera on that island. From the standpoint of the local myth that originated from Lesbos, as I have argued with reference to Song 17 of Sappho (Nagy 2015§§51–67), both Agamemnon and Menelaos had announced-in-prayer, already at Troy, the arrangement of a festival for Hera at Lesbos, and what was wished-for in return was to find the best possible way to achieve a safe homecoming from Troy. So, in terms of my argument, what was announced-in-prayer was the performing of a sacrifice as the centerpiece of the festival to be arranged, but only one of the Sons of Atreus did his part in at least trying to make the sacrifice a success. That was Agamemnon. As for the other Son, Menelaos, he somehow failed to do his part. And, in terms of my reconstruction, it was because Menelaos arrived too late for the sacrifice. Similarly, as we will see in Odyssey 4, Menelaos arrived too late in his homecoming: by the time he got home, he was too late to save his brother—and he was too late even to avenge his brother’s death, since Orestes, son of Agamemnon, had already done so by killing Aigisthos, O.04.546–547.
[§102] This theme of failing by being late is an essential piece of my overall reconstruction of the myth about a sacrifice of one hundred cattle at Lesbos—a sacrifice that is featured as the climax of the festival that was announced-in-prayer by the Agamemnon and Menelaos in Song 17 of Sappho (again, Nagy 2015§§51–67). In terms of this reconstruction, Agamemnon sailed to the island and arranged to sacrifice one hundred cattle to Hera there, but Menelaos joined him only after the sacrifice was already in progress, since he did not arrive at Lesbos on time. In terms of this reconstruction, the quarrel between the Sons of Atreus, Agamemnon and Menelaos, must have happened during the feast that followed the sacrifice at Lesbos, just as the quarrel between Nestor and Odysseus happened at the feast that followed the sacrifice at Tenedos.
[§103] Menelaos seems to be idiosyncratic in his arrivals at sacrifices. For a striking example, see the comment on I.02.402–429. In that passage, we see a mental link between Menelaos and Agamemnon, allowing one brother to read the mind of the other.
[§105] At Lesbos, by contrast, it seems that the mental link between the brothers has somehow been broken. That is why Menelaos fails to arrive in time for the festival. And now the quarrel between Menelaos and Agamemnon ensues. So, who is to blame? Perhaps it was Menelaos, who was late. Or perhaps it was Agamemnon, who might have forgotten to invite Menelaos, assuming that his brother was still reading his mind.
[§106] But what was the quarrel about, anyway? Here I must add one last relevant detail to be found in Odyssey 3. As Nestor is recounting the moment when Menelaos arrives late at Lesbos, O.03.168–169, he himself adds the detail that I have in mind here: the fact is, Nestor and Diomedes and the other Achaeans who were there at Lesbos were already ‘deliberating’, O.03.169 (ὁρμαίνονταϲ), about two alternative ways of continuing their sea voyage. I argue that, in the version of the myth originating from Lesbos, Agamemnon was also part of these deliberations, and then the latecomer Menelaos joined in as well. I must stress that, although Menelaos was late for the sacrifice at Lesbos, he would have been there for the feasting that happened after the sacrifice. That was when, in terms of my reconstruction, the deliberations took place—and that was when the quarrel between the Sons of Atreus broke out in the version of the story that originated from Lesbos. [[GN 2017.03.29.]]

O.03.170–178

subject heading(s): alternative ways to sail home from Troy
What follows is an epitome of Nagy 2017§§107–108:
[§107] In the deliberations, as narrated in Odyssey 3, about two alternative ways for the Achaeans to sail home after their conquest of Troy, one of the two ways was to take the sea route north of Chios, thus venturing into the open sea and heading straight for the island of Euboea, O.03.170–171. The alternative way was to take the sea route south of Chios, O.03.172. That was the safer way. Nestor goes on to say that he and Diomedes and their followers, before deciding which sea route to take, had consulted a divinity, not named, who advised that they should head straight for the distant island of Euboea, thus taking the more direct sea route, O.03.173–178. In this version of the story as transmitted in Odyssey 3, Menelaos and his followers sailed along with Nestor and Diomedes, Ο.03.276–277. Or, to say it more precisely, Menelaos sailed with them at least as far as Cape Sounion.
[§108] Here I reconstruct another aspect of the alternative version of the story, originating from Lesbos, that told about the deliberations following the sacrifice performed by Agamemnon at Lesbos. After the deliberations, Agamemnon did not sail along with Nestor and Diomedes, and, instead, he took the more indirect sea route after he left Lesbos, while Menelaos, unlike Agamemnon, had taken the more direct sea route, choosing the same way that was chosen by Nestor. In terms of this alternative version, I argue, the deliberations about choosing between more direct and less direct sea routes led to a quarrel between Agamemnon and Menelaos, who disagreed about which way was the right way. I see an irony built into the idea that the setting for the quarrel would have been the sacrifice at Lesbos—and that Menelaos had been late in arriving at that ritual event. And, as I have already noted [§101], he will also be late—eight years too late—in arriving back home, O.04.546–547, even though he had chosen the more direct route from Lesbos. [[GN 2017.03.29.]]

O.03.202–224

subject heading(s): wishes correlated with premises
The syntax of the wording at O.03.205–207 indicates that Telemachus is on the verge of giving up hope, but the fuller use of comparable syntax in the wording of Nestor at O.03.218–224 reaffirms the hope. Telemachus uses a curtailed form of the syntax and then overtly says that his wish is impossible—only to be corrected by Nestor, who uses a full form. Telemachus wishes that the gods could give him the dunamis ‘power’ to kill the suitors: αἲ γάρ ἐμοὶ τοσσήνδε θεοὶ δύναμιν περιθεῖεν ‘if only the gods would grant me a power so great’, O.03.205. Then, instead of giving a premise as grounds of hope, he gives up hope by claiming that the gods have granted such a power neither to him nor to his father, O.03.208–209. At this point Nestor responds by resorting to a full form of the idiom: εἰ γάρ σ’ ὣς ἐθέλοι φιλέειν γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη | ὡς τότ’ Ὀδυσσῆος περικήδετο κυδαλίμοιο | δήμῳ ἔνι Τρώων ‘If only Athena with the looks of the owl would deign to love you | as surely as in those days she cared for glorious Odysseus in the district [dēmos] of Troy’, O.03.218–220. This time there is indeed a premise, there is reason to hope: if Athena does love you this much, Nestor is telling Telemachus, then the suitors will indeed be killed, O.03.223–224. [[GN 2017.03.29 via GMP 298.]]

O.03.207

subject heading(s): hubris ‘outrage’; atasthalo- ‘reckless’
These two negative terms hubris ‘outrage’ and atasthalo- ‘reckless’ are closely linked with each other in Homeric diction. [[GN 2017.03.29 via BA 163.]]

O.03.262

subject heading(s): aethlos (āthlos) ‘ordeal’
On the use of this word aethloi (āthloi) ‘ordeal’ with reference to the Trojan War, see the comment on I.03.125–128. [[GN 2017.03.29 via PH 138; for more on aethlos (āthlos) as the ‘ordeal’ of war, see also PH 132, 154.]]

O.03.267–271

subject heading(s): aoidos ‘singer’
The generic aoidos ‘singer’, as represented by the anonymous figure who is mentioned here, has the power to supervise the deeds of men and women by way of praising what is good and blaming what is bad. The aoidos that Agamemnon left behind to supervise Clytemnestra cannot be neutralized by way of removal from the scene. The aoidos does not need to see bad deeds in order to tell about them, since he can hear about them from the Muses. [[GN 2017.03.29 via BA 37–38, PH 392.]]

O.03.267

In the scholia for O.03.267 we see the only incontrovertible reference to Demetrius of Phaleron. [[GN 2017.03.29 via PasP 191n14.]]

O.03.464–468

subject heading(s): asaminthos ‘bathtub’; homoio- ‘similar to, same as’
(What follows is epitomized from Nagy 2017.03.16.) Telemachus the son of Odysseus is bathed in a tub called an asaminthos, O.03.468. The bath is part of a welcoming ceremony organized by Nestor, king of Pylos, who is hosting the young prince. Telemachus is being bathed by Polykaste, youngest daughter of Nestor. After the bath, O.03.469, Telemachus proceeds to a dinner hosted by Nestor in his honor. But while he is still finishing the bath, as we see him emerging from the bathtub, Telemachus is described this way at O.03.468: ‘he [= Telemachus] emerged from the bathtub [asaminthos], looking the same as [homoios] the immortals in shape’ (ἔκ ῥ’ ἀσαμίνθου βῆ δέμας ἀθανάτοισιν ὁμοῖος). For more on homoio- in the sense of ‘same as’, see the comment on O.16.172–212. [[GN 2017.03.29 via MoM 2§16.]]
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Odyssey Rhapsody 4

2017.04.05

With the continued aid of the goddess Athena, young Telemachus now becomes an ideal guest for his new hosts, Menelaos together with Helen. The identity of Helen as a goddess becomes more evident now that she is back in Sparta. This divine identity will point to the future immortalization of the hero Menelaos by virtue of his winning back Helen as his consort.

Figure 28. “The Fair Helen.” Willy Pogany (Hungarian, 1882–1955). Image via Flickr user C. Ojeda, reproduced under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

O.04.001–019

subject heading(s): a wedding feast arranged by Menelaos
As Telemachus, accompanied by Peisistratos, arrives at Sparta, he finds that a wedding feast is in progress, in celebration of not one but two weddings. Menelaos, king of Sparta, is giving away his daughter in marriage to Neoptolemos, son of Achilles. She will be sent off to Neoptolemos. Meanwhile, Menelaos is also marrying off his bastard son Megapenthes.

O.04.011

subject heading(s): name of Megapenthes’; “speaking name” (nomen loquens)
We see at work here the mythological convention of naming a son after a primary heroic trait of the father, as in the case of the son of Ajax, whose name Eurusakēs means ‘the one with the wide shield [sakos]’; the meaning of this “speaking name” (nomen loquens ) is made explicit in the wording of Sophocles Ajax 574–578. See also the comment on I.22.506–507 with reference to the the first of two names given to the son of Hector, Astyanax [Astuanax], I.06.403, which means ‘king [anax] of the city [astu]’. This meaning is relevant to the heroic role of the father as protecting a citadel from sieges. Such a role is expressed by the very name of Hector, Héktōr, which is an agent noun mean