Appendix 3. The Suitors of Helen and the Cypria

On the general issues of catalogues of Helen’s suitors in Greek literature and early poetry’s knowledge of the tradition of the oath sworn by these worthies, see Davies and Finglass on Stesichorus fr. 87. Our particular concern here is with the question of whether the Cypria exploited the device of the oath and produced a catalogue of the suitors. Kullmann, who feels sure that the Iliad presupposes the oath on several occasions, thinks that the Cypria’s catalogue can be recovered from the list of suitors at Apollodorus Bibliotheca III 10.8. The majority of scholars (bibliography in Kullmann 1960:138n3) have by contrast presumed that Apollodorus represents an arbitrary and late abbreviation of the catalogue of Greek forces in Iliad II 484–759 [1] (of Apollodorus’ thirty-one names, four are additions to the Iliadic catalogue, which contains nineteen not in Apollodorus).
Consistently with his general views on the relationship between Iliad and Cypria, Kullmann prefers to see Apollodorus = Cypria as the source for Iliad II’s catalogue. Five of the latter’s additional names are perhaps Homer’s invention [2] ; the remaining twenty or so are far less easy to explain away. [3] But it is not merely the inadequacy of this portion of his hypothesis that makes Kullmann’s approach here unsatisfactory. He profers no positive argument in favor of his identification of Apollodorus’ list with the Cypria’s, merely an unjustifiable reluctance to suppose mythographers would abbreviate as mechanically as the alternative theory presupposes. Besides, one cannot consider the problem in isolation from the other alleged catalogues of Greek forces in the Cypria (see pages 131–133 above). It is not good enough for Kullmann (who accepts the existence of such a list of suitors for the Cypria) blandly to assert that archaic poetry was fond of catalogues! In fact, Kullmann’s case here may be slightly stronger than he realizes: see Davies and Finglass on Stesichorus fr. 87.


[ back ] 1. Certainly the source of most other lists of the Greek forces at Troy (Apollodorus Epitome 3.11–13, Hyginus Fabula 97, etc.).
[ back ] 2. Since they die in the Iliad. In fact the validity of this fact as a criterion for Homeric innovation is dubious: see Page, review of Kullmann 1960, Classical Review 11 (1961): 206–207.
[ back ] 3. As witness Kullmann’s uneasy attempts (1960:104–118). Most of the individuals involved are exceedingly unimportant.