Eve of the Festival: Making Myth in Odyssey 19

  Levaniouk, Olga. 2011. Eve of the Festival: Making Myth in Odyssey 19. Hellenic Studies Series 46. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Levaniouk.Eve_of_the_Festival.2011.

Chapter 10. Odysseus and the Boar

The dialogue between Penelope and Odysseus is broken into two parts by Odysseus’ footbath and the recollection of his boar hunt on Mount Parnassus. The change of scene is dramatic: here we see Odysseus just reaching maturity (hebe), unmarried, and performing a hunting feat in the company of his relatives. Eurykleia’s recognition of Odysseus by his scar prompts the digression, but the explanation of how Odysseus received this mark is only a small part of its significance. The poetic effect of the boar hunt has to do not only with Eurykleia, but with Penelope, since it marks a change in her conversation with Odysseus. This change is prepared by what comes before it, and the hunt fits in with the thematic agenda of its narrative surroundings, first and foremost Book 19 itself. I will confine my remarks here to those aspects of the hunt that are relevant, directly or indirectly, to its role as an intermission in the conversation between husband and wife, beginning with the less obvious resonances and concluding with more direct relevance of the boar hunt for Odysseus and Penelope as a couple.

Just as Odysseus’ description of his hunting pin stands in sharp contrast to the deerskin he is wearing for the moment, so the flashback to Mount Parnassus reverses a very different association with the pig that Odysseus appears to acquire once back on Ithaca. The goatherd Melanthios meets Odysseus in beggar’s disguise on his way to town with Eumaeus and refers to him by an abusive word, μολοβρός. The meaning of this term, although not entirely clear, has something to do with pigs:

πῇ δὴ τόνδε μολοβρὸν ἄγεις, ἀμέγαρτε συβῶτα, 

πτωχὸν ἀνιηρόν, δαιτῶν ἀπολυμαντῆρα;

(Odyssey 17.219–220)

Where are you leading this molobros, you wretched swineherd,
this tiresome beggar, a spoiler of feasts? {166|167}

Aelian notes that the young of wild boar are called μολόβρια and that Hipponax refers to the boar as μολοβρίτης. [1] Ancient (and folk) etymologies derive molobros from μολοῦντα πρὸς τὴν βρῶσιν, walking towards food [2] and the etymology fits with Odysseus’ assumed persona of a hungry beggar, who complains of his ever-demanding belly and is accused of gluttony. On the other hand, a different explanation for the term has been proposed by Coughanowr on the basis of modern Greek evidence, which suggests that molobros should mean something like ‘hairless’ or ‘with uneven coat’. [3] According to Coughanowr, μαλάβρα in the dialect of Epirus refers to a kind of disease like ringworm that leads to hair loss, which would also fit Odysseus, who is, of course, made bald by Athena as part of this disguise (Odyssey 13.431). Whatever its meaning, the evidence of Aelian and Hipponax makes it clear that for an ancient audience the term would call to mind pigs, especially in the Odyssey, where, as Stanford points out, calling Odysseus a pig as he is being led by Eumaeus the swineherd makes for a good joke. [4] Moreover, if Coughanowr is on the right track, there may be a further joke when Melanthios predicts that Odysseus will ‘rub his shoulders’ on many doorposts: ὃς πολλῇς φλιῇσι παραστὰς θλίψεται ὤμους (17.221). Pigs have a habit of rubbing against trees, (perhaps to get rid of pests, thus making their coats uneven?), and this fact is noted by Aristotle, who thinks that boars do so to toughen the skin. [5] Odysseus is called a pig and his begging is described in corresponding terms.

Further, the porcine terminology continues to cling to Odysseus as he confronts Iros in Book 18, for here too Odysseus is again insulted by the mysterious term molobros and then immediately compared to a swine:

τὸν δὲ χολωσάμενος προσεφώνεεν Ἶρος ἀλήτης·
“ὢ πόποι, ὡς ὁ μολοβρὸς ἐπιτροχάδην ἀγορεύει,
γρηῒ καμινοῖ ἶσος· ὃν ἂν κακὰ μητισαίμην 
κόπτων ἀμφοτέρῃσι, χαμαὶ δέ κε πάντας ὀδόντας 

γναθμῶν ἐξελάσαιμι συὸς ὣς ληϊβοτείρης.

(Odyssey 18.25–29)

Angry at him, Iros the vagabond said:
“Look at that, how glibly this molobros talks,
like an old furnace-woman. I would devise some bad plans for him,
hitting him with both hands, and I would knock all the teeth
from his jaws onto the ground, as if he were a pig that is devouring the crops.”

If Iros and Melanthios use pig language to dishonor Odysseus, Eumaeus uses pigs themselves to do just the opposite. The importance in the poem of the swineherd and his swine is a subject too large to be discussed here fully and does not relate directly to the conversation in Book 19, but the very fact that Eumaeus is Odysseus’ most important ally, that Odysseus goes first of all to his cabin and there, next to the pig sties, and meets with his son, does {168|169} support the idea that the hero has a special relationship to the animal. One detail of Odysseus’ stay with Eumaeus seems worth mentioning in connection with Book 19. As they feast at Odysseus’ house, the suitors consume its wealth, and in particular they diminish the number of male pigs, with Eumaeus always sending the best of them:

πεντήκοντα σύες χαμαιευνάδες ἐρχατόωντο, 

θήλειαι τοκάδες· τοὶ δ’ ἄρσενες ἐκτὸς ἴαυον,
πολλὸν παυρότεροι· τοὺς γὰρ μινύθεσκον ἔδοντες 

ἀντίθεοι μνηστῆρες, ἐπεὶ προΐαλλε συβώτης 

αἰεὶ ζατρεφέων σιάλων τὸν ἄριστον ἁπάντων.

(Odyssey 14.15–19)

Fifty swine who sleep on the ground were confined [in each enclosure],
the breeding females, while the males slept outside,
many fewer in number. For the godlike suitors diminished their number
by eating them, since the swineherd always sent them
the best of all the well-fed pigs.

When Odysseus arrives at the swineherd’s hut he is naturally treated to more modest fare, namely piglets (khoirea), and Eumaeus remarks that this is what the servants eat, while the grown and fattened male pigs are for the suitors (18.80–81). Eumaeus then goes on to explain to his guest how the suitors carelessly devour Odysseus’ flocks and seem to feel safe doing so, (he presumes they have information ‘from the god’ about Odysseus’ death), and concludes by mentioning that every day he selects the best of the pigs for them:

αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ σῦς τάσδε φυλάσσω τε ῥύομαί τε 

καί σφι συῶν τὸν ἄριστον ἐῢ κρίνας ἀποπέμπω.

(Odyssey 14.107–108)

But I guard and watch over these pigs,
and carefully choose the best of the pigs and send it off to them.

The suitors also get to eat the best of goats (14.105–106) but in the setting of Eumaeus’ hut the emphasis is on the pigs, and in both cases the impression is created that the suitor’s choice of victims for their daily sacrifice has to do with more than gastronomical considerations. The male animals are more {169|170} expendable that the female ones if the flocks are to be sustained, but quite apart from such practical considerations, there is obvious symbolism in the suitors’ choice of always sacrificing the best of Odysseus’ male animals. The suitors, it seems, want to be what they eat, the strongest males around. Their daring choice of victims implies that they are no worse than Odysseus, since they can take the male flower of his flocks with impunity.

It is an open question whether or not Eumaeus’ sacrifice indicates that he has suspicions about his guest’s identity. But regardless of what Eumaeus is supposed to think, the very fact that Odysseus is treated to the best of pigs is significant in itself. This sacrifice is a step in the hero’s return, and it is surely notable that he not only partakes in it, but also receives the honorific portion, the back. The language used to describe this presages Odysseus’ reestablishment on Ithaca, since he is here called anax, and the way he is treated is described with the verb γεραίρω, also used in the Iliad when Ajax receives an honorific portion (also the back) at the feast of kings in Agamemnon’s tent (Iliad 7.321):

νώτοισιν δ’ Ὀδυσῆα διηνεκέεσσι γέραιρεν 

ἀργιόδοντος ὑός, κύδαινε δὲ θυμὸν ἄνακτος.

(Odyssey 14.437–438) {170|171}

But he honored Odysseus by giving him the long chine
of the white-toothed pig, and gratified the heart of his master.

There seems to be a touch of irony in the way Odysseus both praises Eumaeus for the honor and notes the discrepancy between his assumed persona and the treatment he receives:

αἴθ’ οὕτως, Εὔμαιε, φίλος Διὶ πατρὶ γένοιο
ὡς ἐμοί, ὅττι με τοῖον ἐόντ’ ἀγαθοῖσι γεραίρεις.

(Odyssey 14.440–441)

Eumaeus, may you be as dear to father Zeus
as you are to me, since you honor me, such as I am, with good things.

Is there a bit of teasing in this remark? Eumaeus professes to disbelieve his guest, but his actions belie his words. He may not yet be convinced that his guest is Odysseus, but he certainly no longer seems to believe that he is a simple beggar. Does Odysseus here let Eumaeus know that the discrepancy does not escape his notice? Eumaeus’ response is also far from simple, and can be taken in several ways:

ἔσθιε, δαιμόνιε ξείνων, καὶ τέρπεο τοῖσδε,
οἷα πάρεστι· θεὸς δὲ τὸ μὲν δώσει, τὸ δ’ ἐάσει, 

ὅττι κεν ᾧ θυμῷ ἐθέλῃ· δύναται γὰρ ἅπαντα.

(Odyssey 14.443–445)

Eat, remarkable stranger, and enjoy the things
that are here. God will grant one thing, and let another thing fall through,
whatever he wants in his heart: for he can do anything.

By urging him to enjoy what there is, Eumaeus seems to let his guest know that further probing into the reasons for the honor is unwelcome. When he adds that gods can give and take as they wish, he seems both to suggest that nothing is secure, and that much is possible. In any case, the conclusion, namely that everything is doable for the gods, is certainly the kind of commonplace that reverberates with suggestiveness in this setting, for surely one of its implications is that the gods could even bring back Odysseus. In Eumaeus’ hut, Odysseus progresses from eating piglets like servants to receiving the honorific portion at the sacrifice of the best of pigs, a progress {171|172} that represents a step in his gradual return, a move away from the nameless beggar and towards the king that Eumaeus so fondly remembers.

And if there is a wild animal with which that king is generally associated, it is certainly the boar and not, for example, the lion or the leopard. This association is present not only in the Odyssey but also in the Iliad, and fits Odysseus in part because the boar’s aggressive behavior, as it is represented in Homer, is a good match for Odysseus’ particular type of violence. In the Iliad, Odysseus’ association with the boar is marked, most strikingly, by the fact that he is the only character in the poem to wear the boar tusk helmet:

Μηριόνης δ’ Ὀδυσῆϊ δίδου βιὸν ἠδὲ φαρέτρην 

καὶ ξίφος, ἀμφὶ δέ οἱ κυνέην κεφαλῆφιν ἔθηκε
ῥινοῦ ποιητήν· πολέσιν δ’ ἔντοσθεν ἱμᾶσιν
ἐντέτατο στερεῶς· ἔκτοσθε δὲ λευκοὶ ὀδόντες
ἀργιόδοντος ὑὸς θαμέες ἔχον ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα
εὖ καὶ ἐπισταμένως· μέσσῃ δ’ ἐνὶ πῖλος ἀρήρει
τήν ῥά ποτ’ ἐξ Ἐλεῶνος Ἀμύντορος Ὀρμενίδαο
ἐξέλετ’ Αὐτόλυκος πυκινὸν δόμον ἀντιτορήσας,
Σκάνδειαν δ’ ἄρα δῶκε Κυθηρίῳ Ἀμφιδάμαντι·
Ἀμφιδάμας δὲ Μόλῳ δῶκε ξεινήϊον εἶναι,
αὐτὰρ ὃ Μηριόνῃ δῶκεν ᾧ παιδὶ φορῆναι·
δὴ τότ’ Ὀδυσσῆος πύκασεν κάρη ἀμφιτεθεῖσα.

(Iliad 10.260–271)

And Meriones gave Odysseus his bow and quiver,
and a sword, and put on his head a helmet
made out of leather. On the inside it was firmly strung
with leather thongs; on the outside white tusks
of a shining-tusked boar were closely set this way and that,
well and skillfully. And in the middle a felt cap was fitted into it.
This helmet Autolykos once stole out of Eleon, from Amyntor, son of Ormenos,
penetrating into his close-built house,
and gave it to Amphidamas of Cythera to take to Skandeia.
And Amphidamas gave it to Molos as a guestgift,
and he in turn gave it to Meriones, his son, to wear.
But then it was put on the head of Odysseus and protected it. {172|173}

Although the helmet belongs to Meriones, he never actually wears it. Odysseus, on the other hand, is linked to the helmet doubly, not only because he wears it into ambush, but also because the helmet comes to Meriones through Odysseus’ own grandfather, Autolykos, who acquires it by theft. This “coincidence” was noted and commented upon by a scholiast, who found it pleasant that the helmet came back by such a complex route to Autolykos’ grandson. [
9] It is curious that Odysseus’ connection with the boar repeatedly intersects with his maternal grandfather, both in the Iliad and in the Odyssey. In neither case does Autolykos himself hunt, and it has been argued that the helmet in the Iliad even symbolizes Odysseus’ “Autolycan heritage,” his darker side, and his proclivity towards guile, in short his excellent suitability for a secret nocturnal mission such as he performs in the Doloneia. This may well be true, but I think there is more to the helmet. As was mentioned above, costumes have a special significance in the Doloneia, and are described both in great detail and in rare language. Diomedes’ costume, for example, includes a very strange helmet, the subject of a memorable alliterative phrase, ἄφαλόν τε καὶ ἄλλοφον, ‘without horn or crest’ (10.258). The helmet is said to be called καταῖτυξ (10.258), a Homeric hapax of unclear meaning that stumped the scholiasts. From the way it is explained in the Iliad (10.257–259) it is clear that kataitux was not a widely known word, and needed glossing. All of this suggests that the Iliad here touches upon subjects of some antiquity, and this impression is strengthened by the appearance of the boar tusk helmet, certainly a bronze-age object. [10] This helmet also receives a very detailed description, so that it draws a lot of attention to itself. Moreover, the costumes of the Doloneia have some of the properties of masks, as has long been recognized. [11] If Dolon’s wolf skin hints at playing the wolf, and if Diomedes’ lion skin similarly links the hero to the animal, then Odysseus is here identified with the boar. This is striking enough, since Odysseus does not always cut such a brave figure in the Iliad, while the boar is depicted as the most ferocious of the wild beasts. In fact, it has been suggested that, in contrast to Dolon and Diomedes’ outfits, Odysseus’ is to be interpreted as a disguise, in the sense that Odysseus is precisely not a boar and {173|174} that a fox or a wolf might be a better match for him. [12] The helmet, according to this argument, belies and dissembles Odysseus’ true character. I think that, on the contrary, the boar tusk helmet is indeed emblematic of Odysseus in the way the lion’s hide is emblematic of Diomedes, and the wolf pelt of Dolon. Odysseus may not always behave with the greatest nobility in the Iliad, but he does have boar-like qualities, including the animal’s uncompromising aggression, a subject to which I will come back shortly. The fact that Autolykos is associated with the boar hunt in the Odyssey and with the boar tusk helmet in the Doloneia suggests that being boar-like is not incompatible with having Autolycan qualities, and that the two aspects of Odysseus’ personality might indeed be connected. In fact, one of the distinctive qualities of the boar which is illustrated in Odyssey 19 is its habit of hiding in a lair and then bursting out of it, right upon the hunters, a quality well suited for a master of ambush such as Odysseus. There is even a lexical link between the word of the boar’s lair used in Book 19 (λόχμη, 19.441) and the word for ambush, λόχος, both derived from the root of λέχεται, ‘to lie down’. [13]

Odysseus is also compared to the boar in an extended simile, and the comparison between it and other such similes reveal more of the hero’s boar-like qualities. The Achaeans retreat in fear (φόβος ἔλλαβε πάντας, Iliad 11.402) and leave Odysseus alone among the Trojans. For a second Odysseus hesitates, contemplating the shameful option to flee (φέβομαι) and the chilling option to stay and perish now that Zeus has scattered (ἐφόβησε) all the Achaeans. He decides to stand firm, and it is at this moment that he is compared to a boar coming out of a thicket and being met by a throng of dogs and men:

ὡς δ’ ὅτε κάπριον ἀμφὶ κύνες θαλεροί τ’ αἰζηοὶ 

σεύωνται, ὃ δέ τ’ εἶσι βαθείης ἐκ ξυλόχοιο 

θήγων λευκὸν ὀδόντα μετὰ γναμπτῇσι γένυσσιν, 

ἀμφὶ δέ τ’ ἀΐσσονται, ὑπαὶ δέ τε κόμπος ὀδόντων 

γίγνεται, οἳ δὲ μένουσιν ἄφαρ δεινόν περ ἐόντα, 

ὥς ῥα τότ’ ἀμφ’ Ὀδυσῆα Διῒ φίλον ἐσσεύοντο

(Iliad 11.411–420) {174|175}

As when dogs and lusty young men
rush around a boar, who comes out of a deep thicket
whetting the white tusks in his curved jaws,
and they dart around him, and the gnashing of his teeth is audible,
but they stand firm and await him, though he is terrible,
so at that time Trojans rushed around Odysseus dear to Zeus.

It is interesting that the only other hero to receive a boar simile of this type in the Iliad is Idomeneus, Odysseus’ Cretan older brother in Odyssey 19. As an aside, it seems noteworthy that Crete crops up so consistently in the proximity of the boar. In the Odyssey the boar hunt follows after Odysseus’ Third Cretan Lie and interrupts his conversation as a Cretan prince with Penelope. In the Doloneia, Odysseus receives his boar tusk helmet from a Cretan, Meriones. And the other of the two Cretan leaders, Meriones’ uncle Idomeneus, is the only warrior in the Iliad to be featured in a boar simile matching that of Odysseus. It has been suggested that Odysseus and Meriones are similar in many ways, and they are certainly connected beyond Homer, as are Odysseus and Idomeneus. [14] It is perhaps not a coincidence, but a reflection of deeper and older connections, that Odysseus receives his helmet from Meriones and that he and Idomeneus are linked though their boar-similes. In Book 13, Idomeneus is also facing an intimidating foe, and the possibility of flight is raised immediately before the boar simile:

ἀλλ’ οὐκ Ἰδομενῆα φόβος λάβε τηλύγετον ὥς,
ἀλλ’ ἔμεν’ ὡς ὅτε τις σῦς οὔρεσιν ἀλκὶ πεποιθώς,
ὅς τε μένει κολοσυρτὸν ἐπερχόμενον πολὺν ἀνδρῶν
χώρῳ ἐν οἰοπόλῳ, φρίσσει δέ τε νῶτον ὕπερθεν·
ὀφθαλμὼ δ’ ἄρα οἱ πυρὶ λάμπετον· αὐτὰρ ὀδόντας
θήγει, ἀλέξασθαι μεμαὼς κύνας ἠδὲ καὶ ἄνδρας·
ὣς μένεν Ἰδομενεὺς δουρικλυτός, οὐδ’ ὑπεχώρει.

(Iliad 13.470–476)

Fear did not grasp Idomeneus like an overgrown child,
but he stood firm, like some boar in the mountains, sure in his own valor, {175|176}
who stands up to a large gang of men advancing upon him,
in a deserted place, and bristles his back.
And his eyes blaze with fire, and he whets
his tusks, keen to fight off dogs and men.
So Idomeneus famed for his spear held his ground, and did not give way.

Like Odysseus, Idomeneus is pictured as a lonely beast facing a band of men and dogs, though the two similes are not identical. Odysseus is in fact only a secondary subject of the simile in which the Trojans are compared to dogs and men attacking a boar, and this placement of emphasis seems to predict the course of the following fight: Odysseus is eventually wounded and forced to begin retreating before the superior numbers of the Trojans. In contrast, Idomeneus at first faces the enemy on his own, but then calls for reinforcements and emerges unscathed from the encounter. In his boar simile, accordingly, there is more focus on the boar and less on the men who confront him. Still, the two similes show multiple similarities, which seem significant especially in view of their rarity. [15] The closest parallel elsewhere comes from the Hesiodic Shield, where Herakles is compared to a boar as he confronts Kyknos:

οἷος δ’ ἐν βήσσῃς ὄρεος χαλεπὸς προϊδέσθαι 

κάπρος χαυλιόδων φρονέει [δὲ] θυμῷ μαχέσασθαι 

ἀνδράσι θηρευτῇς, θήγει δέ τε λευκὸν ὀδόντα 

δοχμωθείς, ἀφρὸς δὲ περὶ στόμα μαστιχόωντι 

λείβεται, ὄσσε δέ οἱ πυρὶ λαμπετόωντι ἔικτον, 

ὀρθὰς δ’ ἐν λοφιῇ φρίσσει τρίχας ἀμφί τε δειρήν·
τῷ ἴκελος Διὸς υἱὸς ἀφ’ ἱππείου θόρε δίφρου.

(Shield 384–390)

Just as in mountain woods, difficult to detect,
a large-tusked boar plots in his heart to fight
against hunters and whets his white tusks,
turning sideways, and foam flows about his mouth
as he gnashes his teeth, and his eyes are like blazing fire,
and he lifts his bristling hair along his spine and neck,
looking like this creature the son of Zeus jumped off his horse-drawn chariot. {176|177}

In all of these cases a single boar faces multiple enemies and is not intimidated by them. In the Iliad, the battle circumstances which prompt these similes are themselves similar: both Idomeneus and Odysseus are alone, both overcome fear, and both try to hold out while calling for reinforcement (αὖε δ᾿ ἑταίρους, ‘shouted for companions’, Odysseus at Iliad 11.461, Idomeneus at Iliad 13. 477). There are, besides, several elements that are shared by all or most of these similes and also by the description of the boar hunt in Book 19 of the Odyssey. The boars in Odyssey 11, Iliad 13, and the Shield all sharpen their white tusks, and this is described in diction that illustrates both the formulaic qualities of this element and the flexibility of the formulaic system: Shield has θήγει δέ τε λευκὸν ὀδόντα, ‘and he whets his white tusk’ (386), Iliad 13 has αὐτὰρ ὀδόντας | θήγει, ‘but he whets his tusks’ (474-75), while Iliad 11 has θήγων λευκὸν ὀδόντα, ‘whetting his white tusk’ (413). Just as white tusks are traditional so is the bristling of the boar’s back: ὀρθὰς δ’ ἐν λοφιῇ φρίσσει τρίχας ἀμφί τε δειρήν, ‘he makes the hair on his spine and neck bristle’ (Shield 389), φρίσσει δέ τε νῶτον ὕπερθεν, ‘and he bristled his back above’ (Iliad 13.473), φρίξας εὖ λοφιήν, ‘bristling his spine strongly’ (Odyssey 19.446). Similarly, fire flashing in the beast’s eyes is a recurrent feature: ὄσσε δέ οἱ πυρὶ λαμπετόωντι ἔικτον, ‘his eyes were like blazing fire’ (Shield 388), ὀφθαλμὼ δ’ ἄρα οἱ πυρὶ λάμπετον, ‘his eyes blazed with fire’ (Iliad 13.474), πῦρ δ’ ὀφθαλμοῖσι δεδορκώς, ‘looking with fire in his eyes’ (Odyssey 19.446). The boar in Iliad 11 comes out of a thicket (βαθείης ἐκ ξυλόχοιο, 412) and so does the boar in Odyssey 19 (ὁ δ’ ἀντίος ἐκ ξυλόχοιο, 445), the two expressions being metrically-equivalent sequences. A similar idea is expressed in the Shield, where the boar is called ‘hard to see in advance’, (χαλεπὸς προϊδέσθαι, 384). In all these cases, the animal’s power, apart from its spirit and physical strength, lies in the fact that it appears suddenly out of concealment.

As Odysseus converses with Penelope he prepares the ground for bursting out of his disguise and confronting the suitors. The first part of the conversation contains veiled claims regarding his identity as Odysseus. In the second part, Penelope will propose the bow contest, thus providing Odysseus with the next step that he will take in order to substantiate these claims. The contest also provides an occasion and means for casting off his disguise and attacking his rivals. His boar-like qualities will shine in the process and the boar hunt that divides the dialogue in Book 19 is a suggestive background against which to view the second part of the conversation.

It is a much-observed fact that when large game is killed there often appears a relationship of equivalence between the hunter and the hunted, the hero and the beast. It has been argued that in Ancient Greece (and Europe in general) the boar in particular tended to enter into this relationship, being the prevalent large quarry, the nearest equivalent to men among predators, and more violent than any other animal. [17] In the Odyssey the equivalence between the boar and Odysseus is marked by the deployment of formulaic diction: the description of Odysseus’ first shelter in overgrown bushes on Skheria is almost identical to that of the boar’s shelter in Book 19. Before he is disturbed by the footsteps of humans and dogs, the boar is invisible, hidden in a lair so impenetrable that neither wind nor sun can reach him:

ἔνθα δ’ ἄρ’ ἐν λόχμῃ πυκινῇ κατέκειτο μέγας σῦς· 

τὴν μὲν ἄρ’ οὔτ’ ἀνέμων διάη μένος ὑγρὸν ἀέντων, 

οὔτε μιν ἠέλιος φαέθων ἀκτῖσιν ἔβαλλεν, 

οὔτ’ ὄμβρος περάασκε διαμπερές· ὣς ἄρα πυκνὴ 

ἦεν, ἀτὰρ φύλλων ἐνέην χύσις ἤλιθα πολλή.

(Odyssey 19.439–443) {178|179}

There a great boar lay in its closely-knit lair.
The power of wet-blowing winds could not blow through it,
nor the shining sun strike it with its rays,
nor yet did the rain penetrate it, so solid it was,
and there was a great pile of fallen leaves on it.

On Skheria, Odysseus similarly lies under a cover of bushes and leaves so dense that he is completely protected from the elements, and he too is awakened by a sound (of Nausikaa and her friends playing ball). The boar emerges suddenly, close by Odysseus, while on Skheria Odysseus has to walk a bit to reach the maidens, but he still startles and terrifies them. The closest verbal echo is in the description of the shelter itself:

He crept underneath two bushes
that grew from the same spot, one of phylie and one of olive.
The power of wet-blowing winds could not blow through them,
nor the shining sun strike them with its rays,
nor yet did the rain penetrate them, so close together did they grow,
intertwining one with the other. Odysseus entered
under them and with his hands heaped up a wide
bed for himself, for there was a great pile of fallen leaves there. {179|180}

It is a scholarly commonplace that Odysseus’ hunt on Parnassus has initiatory undertones (though it is not an initiation, of course). [21] Odysseus comes to Parnassus in fulfillment of Autolykos’ request that he should come once he reaches hebe, a request which Autolykos utters as he first sees baby Odysseus and gives him his name:

τῷ δ’ Ὀδυσεὺς ὄνομ’ ἔστω ἐπώνυμον. αὐτὰρ ἐγώ γε,
ὁππότ’ ἂν ἡβήσας μητρώϊον ἐς μέγα δῶμα
ἔλθῃ Παρνησόνδ’, ὅθι πού μοι κτήματ’ ἔασι,
τῶν οἱ ἐγὼ δώσω καί μιν χαίροντ’ ἀποπέμψω.

(Odyssey 19.406–409)

Let “Odysseus” be his given name. And whenever
he reaches the pinnacle of youth and comes into his mother’s great paternal house,
and to Parnassus, where I have my possessions,
from these I will give him a gift and send him back rejoicing.

The trip to Parnassus to meet his grandfather and name-giver, be received into maternal family, and carry away the promised gifts is therefore closely bound up with Odysseus’ identity. [
22] The fact that Odysseus hunts with his mother’s brothers is significant, because in many societies, including those of Ancient Greece and other Indo-European cultures, the mother’s father and her brothers have a special connection to their sister’s or daughter’s sons, and play {180|181} a large role in their education. The role of mother’s brothers as educators and helpers is attested both in myth, (Daidalos and Talos, Achilles and Menesthios, Adrastos and Hippomedon, Priam and Eurypylos, Creon and Amphitryon, etc.), and in historical record: Pindar mentions boys competing alongside their maternal uncles, and several of his laudandi follow in the footsteps of their maternal uncles by winning in the same events. [23] In his study of the importance of the maternal uncle and grandfather in Greece, Bremmer concludes his analysis of multiple examples of this phenomenon by suggesting that, “MoBr [mother’s brother] had an active role in his SiSo [sister’s son] education” and that “for the young nephew the MoBr functions as the model par excellence for imitation.” [24] He further notes that when maternal uncles hunted with their nephews, their supervision of the hunt “most likely had an initiatory significance, as probably also in other cases where a SiSo accompanied this MoBr into war.” [25] The most famous example of such a hunt in the company of maternal uncles is also the most famous boar hunt of Greek myth, the hunt for the Calydonian boar. Like Odysseus, Meleager is accompanied not just by uncles, but specifically by his mother’s brothers, and this detail is central to the myth and present from its earliest attestation. A conflict with these uncles and the (accidental or deliberate) killing of some of them is the turning point of the myth and the reason for Meleager’s own death. It has been suggested that while Odysseus’ hunt represents a successful passage from boyhood to manhood, Meleager’s represents a failed one, though not all versions of the latter myth fit this interpretation with equal ease. [26] Nevertheless, while it may be simplistic to see the Calydonian hunt as nothing but a failed initiation, it certainly has features of a rite of passage. Boar-hunts in general seem to play a special role in male upbringing, and Pausanias (3.14.10) even describes ritualized boar-fights staged by Spartan ephebes, with each boar representing a group of youths. On fifth-century vases the Calydonian hunters are beardless youths dressed only in the chlamys, a typical way of depicting ephebes. As Barringer remarks, “Contemporary views may have understood the youthful hunters in the Calydonian boar hunt depictions as ephebes or pre-adults {181|182} engaged in a hunt that exalts them to manhood.” [27] Certainly Odysseus’ hunt on Parnassus does just that: it exalts him to manhood.

A recollection of this moment seems especially potent at the end of Odysseus’ first conversation with Penelope, the conversation in which he evokes many themes associated with coming of age and with his youthful identity as a hunter. The recollection of the boar hunt takes these themes one step further, since hunting deer may be both typical and expected of a young hunter, but killing a boar represents an entirely different level of manhood. The particular importance for the establishment of manhood of this life-threatening hunt is evidenced by the story told by Athenaeus, (with reference to Hegesandros), that in Macedonia it was not customary for a male to recline at dinner until he had speared a boar without the use of nets. As a result of this rule, a Macedonian named Kassandros, though a brave man and a good hunter, had to eat sitting up next to his father, because he was not lucky enough to have accomplished this feat. [28] In Herodotus’ story, Croesus’ son Atys cannot bear to be prohibited from taking part in a boar hunt, because he believes that such abstention would render him both an inferior citizen and an inferior man in the eyes of others:

Ὦ πάτερ, τὰ κάλλιστα πρότερόν κοτε καὶ γενναιότατα ἡμῖν ἦν ἔς τε πολέμους καὶ ἐς ἄγρας φοιτῶντας εὐδοκιμέειν. Νῦν δὲ ἀμφοτέρων με τούτων ἀποκληίσας ἔχεις, οὔτε τινὰ δειλίην μοι παριδὼν οὔτε ἀθυμίην. Νῦν τε τέοισί με χρὴ ὄμμασι ἔς τε ἀγορὴν καὶ ἐξ ἀγορῆς φοιτῶντα φαίνεσθαι; κοῖος μέν τις τοῖσι πολιήτῃσι δόξω εἶναι, κοῖος δέ τις τῇ νεογάμῳ γυναικί; κοίῳ δὲ ἐκείνη δόξει ἀνδρὶ συνοικέειν;

(Herodotus 1.37)

Father, in times past it was the best and most noble thing for us to win a good reputation through warfare and hunting. But now you keep me from both these things, even though you are aware of no cowardice or faintness of heart on my part. Now what kind of appearance should I present as I go to and from the market? What kind of man will I seem to the citizens, or to my newly wedded wife? With what kind of husband will she think she lives? {182|183}

Atys concludes his list of concerns with his anxiety about the opinion of his young wife. This seems to be a particular worry of his, since he saves it for the end and then repeats it twice. In so doing he touches upon yet another connotation of the boar hunt, its connection not only to manhood but more specifically to sexual virility. This connotation is not always active and visible, but it is both noticeable and naturally connected to the hunt’s manhood-affirming power.

Hatto observes that in a mythic boar hunt the boar is identified with the hero, and that, at the same time, the boar becomes a “symbol of overmastering virility,” not only because of its exceptional ferocity, but also “in view of the boar’s masterful way of mounting his sow.” [29] Moreover, as Davies observes, “because of the physical construction of his body, the boar’s most frequent mode of wounding his human pursuers was in the groin with this tusk.” [30] Davies appeals to Burkert’s ideas about sexual excitement at the climax of the hunt to suggest that death by a boar’s tusk is akin to emasculation. Some such ideas may be behind the variation in the myth of Attis, who emasculates himself in some versions, but is killed by the boar in the Lydian version. [31] Adonis too is killed by a boar, and the description of his boar-inflicted wound in Bion’s Epitaph has clear sexual connotations:

κεῖται καλὸς Ἄδωνις ἐν ὤρεσι μηρὸν ὀδόντι, 

λευκῷ λευκὸν ὀδόντι τυπείς, καὶ Κύπριν ἀνιῇ
λεπτὸν ἀποψύχων· τὸ δέ οἱ μέλαν εἴβεται αἷμα 

χιονέας κατὰ σαρκός, ὑπ’ ὀφρύσι δ’ ὄμματα ναρκῇ, 

καὶ τὸ ῥόδον φεύγει τῶ χείλεος· ἀμφὶ δὲ τήνῳ 

θνᾴσκει καὶ τὸ φίλημα, τὸ μήποτε Κύπρις ἀποίσει.

(Bion Epitaph 8–13)

Beautiful Adonis lies in the mountains, wounded in his thigh by a boar’s tusk,
in his white thigh by a white tusk, and he brings pain to Cypris,
softly ceasing to breathe. And his black blood drips
over his snow-white skin, and beneath his brows his eyes grow dim {183|184}
and the rose color flees from his lips, and about him
dies also his kiss, which Cypris will never have.

Other examples include the murder of Tlepolemus during a boar hunt in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses. Tlepolemus’ killer, Thrasylus, proceeds to propose to his victims’ widow, which suggests that sexual rivalry is the motive. Thrasylus throws Tlepolemus’ body in the boar’s way to be mangled as if the boar really did kill him, and then spears his dead opponent on the right thigh to imitate a typical boar-tusk wound. [
32] In the context of rivalry over a woman, both the boar hunt in general and the location of the wound in particular are suggestive. Ovid seems to be playing with similar themes in his description of Ancaeus’ death in the Calydonian boar hunt. Atalanta wounds the boar with an arrow, and the male hunters are ashamed that a woman was the first to draw blood. Shouting that male weapons are superior to the female ones, Ancaeus lifts his axe and at this moment the boar stabs him with both tusks in the groin. [33]

Odysseus, of course, is wounded by the boar ‘above the knee’, in other words, in the thigh. The boar dies, while Odysseus establishes his manhood and has a mark on his thigh as a trace of the danger that he confronted. The location of Odysseus’ scar is emphasized in the Odyssey, especially at the moment when he receives the wound, with the words ‘above the knee’ in an effective enjambment:

ὁ δέ μιν φθάμενος ἔλασεν σῦς 

γουνὸς ὕπερ, πολλὸν δὲ διήφυσε σαρκὸς ὀδόντι.

(Odyssey 19.449–450)

But first [before he could strike] the boar struck him
above the knee, and gashed much of his flesh with his tusk.

Odysseus’ thighs, moreover, receive some attention in the part of the poem leading up the boar hunt. As he girds himself for the fight with Iros, a preview of what is in store for the suitors, Odysseus bares his body and reveals muscles unexpected in an aged beggar. First on the list are his thighs:

αὐτὰρ Ὀδυσσεὺς

ζώσατο μὲν ῥάκεσιν περὶ μήδεα, φαῖνε δὲ μηροὺς 

καλούς τε μεγάλους τε, φάνεν δέ οἱ εὐρέες ὦμοι.

(Odyssey 18.66–68) {184|185}

But Odysseus
girded himself with rags around his genitals and showed his thighs,
splendid and great, and his wide shoulders became visible.

Further, just a few verses later, the suitors comment precisely on the strength of his thighs:

ἦ τάχα Ἶρος Ἄϊρος ἐπίσπαστον κακὸν ἕξει,
οἵην ἐκ ῥακέων ὁ γέρων ἐπιγουνίδα φαίνει.

(Odyssey 18.73–74)

“Soon our Iros Non-Iros will have trouble of his own making,
to judge by the thigh muscle the old man reveals from under his rags.”

The overarching context both for this comment and for the boar hunt is Odysseus’ opposition to a crowd of young men who are both visibly lusting after his wife and enjoying sex with his maids. Similar concerns can be detected even in the battle between the two beggars. Threatening Iros with all manner of retribution if he loses, Antinoos concludes with a threat that they will send him to king Ekhetos, who will cut off his sexual organs and feed them to the dogs (Odyssey 18.87). With Iros being symbolically a representative of the suitors in this fight with Odysseus, Antinoos is understandably annoyed at the beggar’s evident fear and the strong possibility of his loss. The implications of Iros’ disgrace bode ill for his own self. Conversely, the threat to his manhood, which Odysseus once had to face on Parnassus, is present again. In his confrontation with the suitors, Odysseus’ manliness is being tested, and a flashback to the boar hunt is one of the ways in which it is reaffirmed.

There are intriguing items of comparative evidence for the connection between the boar hunt and access to women. In the Irish and Scottish folk tale of Diarmuidd and Grainne, Diarmuidd, a maternal nephew of king Fionn, both steals his uncle’s wife Grainne and kills the boar his uncle was hunting. [34] Moreover, it is remarkable that here again a maternal uncle and his sister’s son appear together in connection with the boar hunt. Like Meleager, Diarmuidd undermines the typically warm and supportive relationship between mother’s brother and sister’s son, and does so in connection with a boar hunt. And like Meleager, Diarmuidd is not allowed to get away with his transgression: he walks barefoot on the back of the boar and is pierced by one of the animal’s {185|186} poisonous bristles. [35] In his consideration of the pedigree of Shakespeare’s boar in Venus and Adonis, Hatto concludes that it can be traced back to the twelfth century, and that “it is in these boars of the High Middle Ages that the animal stands out essentially as a symbol of overbearing masculinity in love and war, with unmistakable and long-standing associations with nobility.” [36] A particularly clear example is the Tristan and Isold of Godfried von Strassburg. Here, Tristan is associated with the boar, which is an emblem on his shield. High Steward Marjodo, who at this time shares a bed with Tristan, dreams one night that a boar bursts into the bed-chamber of King Mark, Tristan’s maternal uncle, and befouls the sheets. When he awakes from the dream, Marjodo discovers that Tristan is gone, follows him to Isold’s chamber, and overhears the lovers. [37] Here again the boar is associated with Tristan’s sexual incursion into his uncle’s territory. In an eleventh-century Persian romance, Wis and Ramin, King Moabad is robbed of his wife Wis by his younger brother Ramin. He is waiting for Ramin in an ambush when a boar runs out of the forest and sets his army to flight. Moabad confronts the beast and is torn by its tusk from navel to the heart. [38] The loss of a woman and defeat in confrontation with boar go hand in hand.

I do not suggest that there is a straightforward connection between these medieval boars and the one Odysseus kills on Parnassus, but taken together with the ancient examples where the boar is associated with sexual dominance, they suggest that this is a wide-spread idea, no doubt aided and sustained by actual observation of the animal, and this increases the likelihood that some such association is active in the Odyssey.

The same subject is raised indirectly in Bacchylides 5, where Meleager dies “leaving behind shining youth,” (ἀγλαὰν ἥβαν προλείπων, 154), and unmarried. That he would have made a perfect bridegroom can be inferred from the question addressed to his poor shade by Herakles, namely whether he has a sister similar to himself, whether there is a bride comparable to the bridegroom who was not to be: {187|188}

Ἦρά τις ἐν μεγάροις Οἰ-
νῆος ἀρηϊφίλου
ἔστιν ἀδμήτα θυγάτρων,
σοὶ φυὰν ἀλιγκία;
Τάν κεν λιπαρὰν <ἐ>θέλων θείμαν ἄκοι-

(Bacchylides 5.164–169)

Is there in the halls of Oineus,
dear to Ares,
an unwed daughter,
similar to you in appearance?
Her I would gladly make my radiant wife.

The idea of marriage is thus introduced into the poem, and not only the marriage of Herakles and Deianeira, but of the marriage that should have been Meleager’s lot. The last words spoken by Meleager, and the last devoted to his myth in the ode, once again seem to cut both ways, with Meleager himself brought to mind by the description of his sister, as yet ignorant of Aphrodite:

Λίπον χλωραύχενα
ἐν δώμασι Δαϊάνει-
ραν, νῆϊν ἔτι χρυσέας
Κύπριδος θελξιμβρότου.

(Bacchylides 5.172–175)

I left tender-necked
Dianeira at home,
as yet inexperienced of golden
Aphrodite, enchanter of mortals.

Returning to the Odyssey, when the boar hunt intrudes between the two halves of the dialogue in Book 19, it resonates with the themes of that dialogue and its context, and moreover it fits into its proper place in the sequence of these themes. Prior to the hunt interlude, Odysseus presents himself as Idomeneus’ (and therefore in some sense his own) “younger brother,” someone who has to regain everything already gained in his youth. The hunt picks up the theme of coming-of-age, but has to do most directly with the affirmation of Odysseus’ manhood. Odysseus has begun the process of winning back his wife and destroying those who challenge his manhood, and the boar hunt is a fitting flashback to appear at this point. It has been observed that the {188|189} digression prompted by Eurykleia’s discovery of the scar replays a complete sequence of events that made Odysseus into Odysseus in the first place. As Russo puts it:

I agree with this, but think that the process of reacquisition of his wife and kingdom has already began in the first part of the interview. Within the digression, the boar hunt completes Odysseus’ transition to adulthood and points to the next step, which is marriage. Within the dialogue, the boar hunt recaps and re-affirms the themes that have been in the background of the dialogue so far, themes having to do with growing up. Because manhood, virility, and access to women are associated with hunting the boar, the hunt also points to the resumption of marriage between Penelope and Odysseus. And just as within the hunting digression marriage is the logical next step, it is also thus outside the digression, within the dialogue. In effect, Odysseus has made a claim that he is ready to regain his wife, and the flashback to the boar hunt re-affirms this claim. When Penelope resumes the conversation, she moves at once to the question of her marriage, so that the hunt not only continues the themes of the first conversation, but ushers in those of the second. Penelope may have her doubts or fears, but the flashback to the boar hunt predicts that Odysseus will re-assert his manhood with the unmitigated violence of his animal double. {189|}


[ back ] 1. De natura animalium 7.47, Hipponax fr. 77.

[ back ] 2. Scholia on the Odyssey 17.219, Eustathius 2.141.2 (on Odyssey 17.219). Cf. Chantraine 1952:203–205 (on the meaning ‘glutton’). LSJ offers ‘greedy fellow’, while Cunliffe (1977 s.v.) restricts himself to “a term of abuse or depreciation of unknown meaning.”

[ back ] 3. Coughanowr 1979.

[ back ] 4. Stanford 1965:287 ad loc.

[ back ] 5. Jacobson 1999. Historia Animalium 6.18, 571b. Toughening of the skin in preparation for battle with other boars: καὶ πρὸς ἀλλήλους δὲ ποιοῦνται μάχας θαυμαστάς, θωρακίζοντες ἑαυτοὺς καὶ ποιοῦντες τὸ δέρμα ὡς παχύτατον ἐκ παρασκευῆς, πρὸς τὰ δένδρα τρίβοντες καὶ τῷ πηλῷ μολύνοντες πολλάκις καὶ ξηραίνοντες ἑαυτούς. Jacobson notes that “Lucilius evidently used this fact for vituperative purposes,” scaberat ut porcus contritis arbore costis, 333 M = 331 K.

[ back ] 6. Eustathius 2.165 on Odyssey 18.29.

[ back ] 7. Roisman 1990:222–233.

[ back ] 8. On the ritual details of Eumaeus’ sacrifice see Kadletz 1984 and Petropoulou 1987.

[ back ] 9. Scholia bT on Iliad 10.271.

[ back ] 10. Hainsworth 1993:179–180 ad loc., with references. The significance of dress in the Doloneia was noted by Reinhardt (1961:247). For a discussion of costumes in the Doloenia and especially of Odysseus’ boar-tusk helmet see Clay 1983:76–89, on Dolon’s wolf-costume see Gernet 1981:125–139.

[ back ] 11. Reinhardt 1961:247, Clay 1983:76–77. See also above, p143.

[ back ] 12. Clay 1983:77.

[ back ] 13. The verb is attested only in Hesychius: λέχεται· κοιμάται and λελοχυῖα· λεχὼ γενομένη. The aorist form ἔλεκτο may also belong to the same verb. The root *legh is attested in Hittite, Germanic, Celtic, and Slavic, and has multiple derivatives in Greek, including various words for bed such as λέκτρον and λέχος. See Chantraine 1968–1980 s.v. λέχεται for a full discussion. See further on the similarities between the boar’s lair in Odyssey 19 and Odysseus’ bed of leaves in Odyssey 5 (εὐνήν, 482; λέκτο, 487). Russo (1992 on 19.439–443) comments on this dictional link.

[ back ] 14. On the similarities and connections between Meriones and Odysseus see Clay 1983:84–89 and Haft 1984. One particularly striking example involves both heroes and also concerns helmets. Plutarch (Life of Marcellus 20) reports that helmets with the names of Meriones and Odysseus were consecrated at a temple to goddesses known as the Mothers in the Sicilian town Enguium (see also above, p105).

[ back ] 15. Idomeneus’ connection to the boar is not limited to this simile. At Iliad 4.253 he is called συῒ εἴκελος ἀλκήν, (‘like a boar in might’), an expression that appears only three times in Homer (the other two are about Hektor at Iliad 11.293 and about Ajax at Iliad 17.281).

[ back ] 16. E.g. Iliad 17.20–22: οὔτ’ οὖν παρδάλιος τόσσον μένος οὔτε λέοντος | οὔτε συὸς κάπρου ὀλοόφρονος, οὗ τε μέγιστος | θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι περὶ σθένεϊ βλεμεαίνει. Eustathius comments on these lines (4.4): οὐ μάτην ἐπὶ συὸς ἔφη τὸ “οὗ θυμὸς μέγιστος”, ἀλλ’ ὅτι ἀφυλάκτως ἔχει ὁ σῦς πρὸς τὸ παθεῖν διὰ τὸ ἄγαν θράσος. θρασὺ μὲν γὰρ καὶ ἡ πάρδαλις, ὁ λέων δὲ καὶ ἀνδρεῖον. ἄμφω δὲ φυλάξονταί ποτε παθεῖν μάλλον ἤπερ ὁ σῦς θυμῷ πολλῷ ῥέων. Ἔτι πάρδαλις μέν, φασί, καὶ λέων ἡμεροῦνται, σῦς δὲ ἄγριος ἀεὶ ἄγριος.

[ back ] 17. Meuli 1946:248–252, Burkert 1983:12–22, esp. 20–21 with references, Davies 2001, referring to Hatto 1980:xiii and 230.

[ back ] 18. Russo 1993 discusses in detail the verbal parallels and their significance, arguing for a momentary merging of identity between Odysseus and the boar. My discussion of this thematic echo is indebted to him, though I believe the merging he suggests is more than momentary.

[ back ] 19. Russo 1993:57.

[ back ] 20. Russo 1993:58.

[ back ] 21. See, e.g. Detienne 1973:303 (on boar hunt as a male initiatory rite), Schnapp-Gourbeillon 1981:138–139, Felson-Rubin and Sale 1983 and 1984.

[ back ] 22. For the name of Odysseus and its connection to the hero’s identity, see above p.160. Some representative studies on the question are Sulzberger 1926, Stanford 1952, Dimock 1956, Russo 1985:248–250, Clay 1983:59–65, Peradotto 1990.

[ back ] 23. Pindar Pythian 8.35–38, Nemean 5.41, Isthmian 6.57, Nemean 9.79–81, Isthmian 3.24. Bremmer 1983a:179 discusses these examples and lists further ones.

[ back ] 24. Bremmer 1983b:180.

[ back ] 25. Bremmer 1983b:178.

[ back ] 26. Felson-Rubin and Sale 1983, critiqued by Most 1983, response in Felson-Rubin and Sale 1984. For a comprehensive discussion of the Meleager myth see Honea 1991. For a discussion of the Calydonian hunt, including its initiatory aspects and the possible nature of Meleager’s transgression, see Barringer 2001:147–161.

[ back ] 27. Barringer 2001:154. Barringer provides a detailed discussion of the iconography. A clear example with hunters wearing only the chlamys is an Attic red-figure dinos by the Agrigento Painter, c. 459 BCE (Athens, National Museum 1489), Barringer 154.

[ back ] 28. Athenaeus 1.31.

[ back ] 29. Hatto 1980:303 and 225.

[ back ] 30. Davies 2001:5.

[ back ] 31. Pausanias 7.17.8, 10–12 (both versions). Other sources of the myth include Ovid Fasti 4.221–222, Diodorus Siculus 3.58.

[ back ] 32. Apuleius Metamorphoses 8.1–15.

[ back ] 33. Ovid Metamorphoses 8.392–400.

[ back ] 34. Ni Shéaghdha 1967.

[ back ] 35. Ni Shéaghdha 1967, K.H Schmidt in Enzyklopädie des Märchens s.v. Diarmuid (3.604).

[ back ] 36. Hatto 1946:355.

[ back ] 37. Gottfried von Strassburg, Tristan und Isold, Hrsg. F. Ranke 1930, 13512–13596.

[ back ] 38. Hatto 1980a.xi. Wis and Ramin was composed ca. 1050 by the Persian poet Gorgani (also rendered as Gurgani, Jurjani) and is thought to be based on a still-earlier popular tale. Persian text and translation in Ali and Lees 1864–5. English translation by Morrison 1962, French by Massé 1959.

[ back ] 39. Iliad 9.529–99, Hesiod fr. 25.12–13 MW, Stesichorus Suotherai (PMG 221), Pausanias 10.31.4 (referring to Phrynichus Pleuroniai), Bacchylides 5.71–154, Aeschylus Choephori 603–12, Sophocles Meleager (Radt 1977, fr. 401–406), scholia to Aristophanes Frogs 1238, Euripides Meleager (Nauck 1964, fr. 515–539), Apollodorus 1.8.1–2, Accius fr. 428–450, Diodorus Siculus 4.34.2–5, Ovid Metamorphoses 8.270–525. Arrigoni 1977:9–47 provides a full discussion of literary sources, Barringer 2001:147–161 discusses visual as well as literary evidence. It is widely thought that the Homeric version of the myth may not be the earliest, but rather presupposes a pre-Homeric version more similar to those attested later. For a discussion of this question see Hainsworth 1993:131–132 ad loc., Bremmer 1998, Kakridis 1987:11, 18–41, Felson-Rubin and Sale 1983 and 1984.

[ back ] 40. E.g., Page 1937:179, Most 1983:204–205, Séchan 1967:423–426, Woodford (LIMC, s.v. “Meleagros”). The opposite opinion is expressed by Felson-Rubin and Sale 1984:215–215 (in response to Most 1983) and Arrigoni 1977:21.

[ back ] 41. Barringer 2001:159–160.

[ back ] 42. Russo 1992:7.