Achilles Unbound: Multiformity and Tradition in the Homeric Epics

  Dué, Casey. 2018. Achilles Unbound: Multiformity and Tradition in the Homeric Epics. Hellenic Studies Series 81. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

Chapter 2. Sunt Aliquid Manes: Ancient Quotations of Homer

A multitextual approach to Homeric epic acknowledges and even embraces an expected amount of variation between performances of oral poetry. Because this multiformity was generated within a system, the attested variations enable us to appreciate the poetry of the Homeric epics on more than just the level of a single performance. By adopting a multitextual approach, we can, following Albert Lord, train our ears to hear the echoes of many past performances and appreciate the richness and complexity of the Homeric tradition as it evolved through time. [1]

One of the earliest allusions to the text of the Iliad in ancient literature contains a well-known and much discussed multiform. The text in question is Aeschylus, Suppliants 800–801, in which the chorus sings:

κυσὶν δ’ ἔπειθ’ ἕλωρα κἀπιχωρίοις
ὄρνισι δεῖπνον οὐκ ἀναίνομαι πελεῖν

A prize for the local dogs
and a feast for the birds I do not refuse to become.

The passage does not quote Iliad 1.4–5, but certainly seems to invoke it for an Athenian audience that would have been well versed in the Homeric epics. Here is the text of the Iliad passage as it is transmitted in the Venetus A manuscript:

ἡρώων· αὐτοὺς δὲ ἑλώρια τεῦχε κύνεσσιν
οἰωνοῖσί τε πᾶσι· Διὸς δ᾽ ἐτελείετο βουλή·

heroes’ [lives], but their selves it made prizes for dogs
and for all birds, and the plan of Zeus was being fulfilled.

But Aeschylus seems to have known a different text. [
2] There is no equivalent to πᾶσι in Aeschylus. And in fact we are told by Athenaeus (Epitome 1.12) that the Alexandrian editor Zenodotus read δαῖτα here at Iliad 1.5. It would seem that δαῖτα is an ancient multiform that was known as early as the fifth century BCE. Meanwhile, all other sources read the equally Homeric πᾶσι. [3] Gregory Nagy has written of this passage, “Both variants are traditional multiforms. In a multitextual format of editing Homer, we would have to take both forms into account” (1996a:134).

Indeed, as this and the following chapters will show, the earliest attestations of the Homeric texts are exceedingly multiform in comparison with the relatively uniform medieval manuscripts. A brief look at the first ten lines of the Iliad will provide a sense of the complexity of the transmission that we will be confronting:

   [1] Μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
   [2] οὐλομένην· ἣ μυρί’ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε’ ἔθηκεν· [n: v.l. ἔδωκε],
   [3] πολλὰς δ’ ἰφθίμους ψυχὰς [n: v.l. κεφαλὰς] Ἄϊδι προΐαψεν
– [4] ἡρώων· αὐτοὺς δὲ ἑλώρια τεῦχε κύνεσσιν
– [5] οἰωνοῖσί τε πᾶσι [n: v.l. δαῖτα]· Διὸς δ’ ἐτελείετο βουλή·
   [6] ἐξ οὗ δὴ τὰ πρῶτα διαστήτην ἐρίσαντε
   [7] Ἀτρείδης τε ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν καὶ δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς·
   [8] Τίς τάρ σφωε θεῶν ἔριδι ξυνἕηκε μάχεσθαι·
   [9] Λητοῦς καὶ Διὸς υἱός· ὃ γὰρ βασιλῆϊ χολωθεὶς
   [10] νοῦσον ἀνὰ στρατὸν ὦρσε κακήν· ὀλέκοντο δὲ λαοί

Iliad 1.1–10

2: ἔδωκε read by Fulgentius, cf. Iliad 18.431 and 24.241 3: κεφαλὰς read by Apollonius of Rhodes et al., cf. Iliad 11.55 4–5: athetized by Zenodotus 5: δαῖτα read by Aeschylus and Zenodotus [according to Athenaeus Epitome 1.12] and possibly Catullus

   [1] The anger of Peleus’ son Achilles, goddess, perform its song—
   [2] disastrous anger that made countless sufferings for the Achaeans,
   [3] and many steadfast lives it drove down to Hades,
– [4] heroes’ lives, but their selves [n: v.l. heads] it made prizes for dogs
– [5] and for all birds [n: v.l. a feast for birds]; the plan of Zeus was being fulfilled—
   [6] sing starting from the point where the two first clashed,
   [7] the son of Atreus, lord of men, and radiant Achilles.
   [8] So, which of the gods was it that pushed the two to clash and fight?
   [9] It was the son of Leto and Zeus; for, infuriated at the king,
   [10] he stirred up an evil pestilence throughout the mass of warriors, and the warriors kept on dying

Numerous multiforms for these verses are attested, and they have a good deal of ancient support, both within the formulaic diction of the Iliad itself and in the debates of the Alexandrian editors (as preserved in the scholia of medieval manuscripts). The reading κεφαλὰς, for example, in line 3 was read by Aristophanes of Rhodes. At Iliad 11.55 we find powerful evidence that κεφαλὰς is perfectly formulaic: there this same verse is attested with κεφαλὰς in place of ψυχὰς. Meanwhile, the Venetus A scholia record that “some” (τινες) write κεφαλὰς instead of ψυχὰς at 1.3, “badly” (κακῶς) in the judgment of the scholiast. The scholia in the Venetus A also tell us that Zenodotus athetized lines 4 and 5, meaning he did not deem them Homeric, but Zenodotus is credited in Athenaeus with reading δαῖτα in the athetized verse 5. [

The multiformity does not stop there. An edition known to scholars in the ancient world apparently contained this single verse in place of Iliad 1.1–9:

Μούσας ἀείδω καὶ Ἀπόλλωνα κλυτότοξον

I sing of the Muses and Apollo of the silver bow.

This was the edition of Apellicon known by Crates and Nicanor (Erbse 1969:3). Another version of the proem current in antiquity, according to Aristoxenus, consisted of three verses:

ἔσπετε νῦν μοι, Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἔχουσαι,
ὅππως δὴ μῆνίς τε χόλος θ’ ἕλε Πηλείωνα
Λητοῦς τ’ ἀγλαὸν υἱόν. ὁ γὰρ βασιλῆϊ χολωθείς…

Tell me now, you Muses who have homes on Olympus,
how anger and fury took hold of the son of Peleus
and the glorious son of Leto. For angered at the king…

The two variant proems come from a scholion found in a manuscript called the Anecdotum Romanum, or Ve1 (in the edition of Allen [1931]) or Z (in the edition of West [1998–2000]). Ve1 consists of two manuscripts of scholia on the Iliad which were once part of a single whole, one from Rome (Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele 6), and the other from Madrid (Biblioteca Nacional de España 4626). [
5] The manuscript is as old as or possibly even older than the Venetus A, dating to the ninth or tenth century CE, but the information contained in it is much earlier, in that it preserves ancient scholarship dating back to Hellenistic and Roman times.


I and my collaborators on the Homer Multitext are not seeking to establish a single definitive text, and therefore we approach the early quotations from a different perspective. What do the variations preserved in fourth-century quotations tell us about the early textual history of the Homeric poems? What Iliads and Odysseys were audiences at various points in antiquity actually hearing? What impact can the attested multiforms have on our understanding of the poetics of the Iliad and the Odyssey? I will discuss in this chapter two examples of the kinds of multiformity presented by the early quotations, in order to make a case for their value not only as witnesses to the oral traditional system in which the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed, but also for their intrinsic value within the history of literature. I would like to begin my discussion of these questions with what may seem to be an extremely, even perversely, minor textual variant, the difference of a single letter in Greek. I will argue that even a variation as small as a single letter has wide-ranging implications for our understanding of the Iliad and the transmission and reception of the poem in antiquity. We will get there by way of the Roman elegiac poet Propertius.


sunt aliquid manes: letum non omnia finit.

The Shades are something: Death does not end everything.

Propertius IV 7.1

Propertius alludes directly to Iliad 23.65–104 in five more places in the poem: [15]

  • Cynthia namque meo uisa est incumbere fulcro (3) ~ στῆ δ’ ἄρ’ ὑπὲρ κεφαλῆς καὶ μιν πρὸς μῦθον ἔειπεν· (Iliad 23.68)
  • eosdem habuit secum quibus est elata capillos, / eosdem oculos; lateri uestis adusta fuit (7–8) ~ ἦλθε δ’ ἐπὶ ψυχὴ Πατροκλῆος δειλοῖο / πάντ’ αὐτῷ μέγεθός τε καὶ ὄμματα κάλ’ εἰκυῖα / καὶ φωνήν, καὶ τοῖα περὶ χροῒ εἵματα ἕστο· (Iliad 23.65–67)
  • perfide nec cuiquam melior sperande puellae, / in te iam uires somnus habere potest? (13–14) ~ εὕδεις, αὐτὰρ ἐμεῖο λελασμένος ἔπλευ Ἀχιλλεῦ. / οὐ μέν μευ ζώοντος ἀκήδεις ἀλλὰ θανόντος· (Iliad 23.69–70)
  • mecum eris, et mixtis ossibus ossa teram (94) ~ μὴ ἐμα σῶν ἀπάνευθε τιθήμεναι ὀστέ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ (Iliad 23.83)
  • haec postquam querula mecum sub lite peregit, / inter complexus excidit umbra meos. (95–96) ~ Ὣς ἄρα φωνήσας ὠρέξατο χερσὶ φίλῃσιν / οὐδ’ ἔλαβε· ψυχὴ δὲ κατὰ χθονὸς ἠΰτε καπνὸς / ᾤχετο τετριγυῖα· (Iliad 23.99–101)

These parallel passages are very close and present no difficulties. They provide a framework that allows Propertius to be in dialogue with the Homeric text and at the same time depart from it.

What could account for such a discrepancy? It seems that Propertius indeed had in mind a different text. τις is the majority reading of the manuscripts in the Iliad passage, and Eustathius is an early witness. But τι is also a possible reading. It is found in twenty-seven manuscripts of the Iliad, and it has strong support in the form of a far earlier witness. This is Plato’s Republic (386 D). In the Plato passage Socrates discusses the stories that poets tell about the nature of the underworld, concerning which he gives seven citations of Homer in quick succession, including lines 103–104 of Iliad 23. Plato’s text is considerably closer to that of Propertius: ὢ πόποι, ἦ ῥά τι ἔστι καὶ εἰν Ἀΐδαο δόμοισι, / ψυχὴ καὶ εἴδωλον, ἀτὰρ φρένες οὐκ ἔνι πάμπαν. “There is something, even in the house of Hades, a ψυχὴ and an εἴδωλον…” or, without a sense break after δόμοισι (which is how Propertius must have read it) “the ψυχὴ καὶ εἴδωλον are something, even in the house of Hades.…”

In that same 2001 article I suggested that a poem by Ovid might just prove that Propertius was in fact engaging a known textual issue—that is, he was confronting the multiformity of the Homeric textual tradition—by translating τι. Amores III 9, a poem in which critics have found connections with Propertius’ fourth book, [27] is a formal lament for the death of Ovid’s fellow elegist Tibullus. The thematic connections with Propertius IV 7 (and Lucretius, also discussed in the article) are obvious: the same questions about the immortality of poetry and the soul are explored. [28] Like Cynthia, Delia and Nemesis will live forever, according to Ovid (31). Homer plays an important role in this poem as well: Ovid’s lament is compared to laments for Achilles and Memnon (1–2), and Ovid notes that even Homer had to die, but now his poetry lives on (25–30). Towards the end of the poem, Ovid speculates as to whether a soul lives on after the death of the body. He formulates his question twice, each time as an indirect question within a conditional sentence. The first begins: si tamen e nobis aliquid nisi nomen et umbra restat… (“If nevertheless something does remain of us beyond a name and a shade…”). With this formulation Ovid questions whether there is something even beyond the existence of a shade after death. The second formulation is somewhat different: siqua est modo corporis umbra (“if only there does exist a shade of the body…”). Here he seems to question the existence of a shade at all after death. And once again, mixed up in the whole philosophical question is the key textual difference between the two formulations: the adjective aliquis versus the pronoun aliquid. Or, to put it in Greek, τις versus τι. [29]


Throughout his prosecution of Timarchus Aeschines provides carefully selected citations of Homer and the tragedians to support his claim that Timarchus has led the kind of life that, according to Athenian law, precludes him from speaking in the democratic assembly. The following is Aeschines’ text of Patroklos’ address to Achilles in Iliad 23, which the speaker cites in an attempt to refute the defense’s claim that Homer highly approved of sexual relationships between men. Aeschines’ point is that Homer never explicitly says that Achilles and Patroklos were lovers; rather, the speaker argues, they possessed the noblest of friendships (τὴν ἀρετὴν καὶ τὴν φιλίαν ἄξιον αὐτῶν 146). [34]

      οὐ γὰρ ἔτι ζωοί γε φίλων ἀπάνευθεν ἑταίρων  Iliad 23.77
78  βουλὰς ἑζόμενοι βουλεύσομεν· ἀλλ’ ἐμὲ μὲν Κὴρ  
79  ἀμφέχανε στυγερή, ἥπερ λάχε γεινόμενόν περ·  
80  καὶ δὲ σοὶ αὐτῷ μοῖρα, θεοῖς ἐπιείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ, 
81  τείχει ὕπο Τρώων εὐηγενέων ἀπολέσθαι, 
81a+ μαρνάμενον δηίοις Ἑλένης ἕνεκ’ ἠυκόμοιο. 
82  ἄλλο δέ τοι ἐρέω, σὺ δ’ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ βάλλεο σῇσιν· 
83  μὴ ἐμὰ σῶν ἀπάνευθε τιθήμεναι ὀστέ’, Ἀχιλλεῦ,  
83a + ἀλλ’ ἵνα περ σε καὶ αὐτὸν ὁμοίη γαῖα κεκεύθῃ, 
83b + χρυσέῳ ἐν ἀμφιφορεῖ, τόν τοι πόρε πότνια μήτηρ,
84  ὡς ὁμοῦ ἐτράφεμέν περ ἐν ὑμετέροισι δόμοισιν, 
85  εὖτέ με τυτθὸν ἐόντα Μενοίτιος ἐξ Ὀπόεντος 
86  ἤγαγεν ὑμέτερόνδ’ ἀνδροκτασίης ὕπο λυγρῆς, 
87  ἤματι τῷ, ὅτε παῖδα κατέκτανον Ἀμφιδάμαντος, 
88  νήπιος, οὐκ ἐθέλων, ἀμφ’ ἀστραγάλοισι χολωθείς· 
89  ἔνθα με δεξάμενος ἐν δώμασιν ἱππότα Πηλεὺς 
90  ἔτρεφέ τ’ ἐνδυκέως καὶ σὸν θεράποντ’ ὀνόμηνεν· 
91  ὣς δὲ καὶ ὀστέα νῶιν ὁμὴ σορὸς ἀμφικαλύπτοι.

77 οὐ γὰρ ἔτι] οὐ μὲν γὰρ mss. 82 σὺ δ’ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ βάλλεο σῇσιν] καὶ ἐφήσομαι αἴ κε πίθηαι mss. 84 ὡς ὁμοῦ ἐτράφεμέν περ] ἀλλ’ ὁμοῦ ὡς ἐτράφημεν mss.

77  No longer will you and I, alive, apart from our dear companions
78  sit and make our plans, since the destiny, 
79  hateful as it is, that was allotted me when I was born has engulfed me.
80  And you also, Achilles like the gods, have your own destiny; 
81  to lose your life under the walls of the prosperous Trojans, 
81a + fighting for the sake of Helen with the beautiful hair. 
82  But I will say another thing, and you cast it in your heart:
83  do not have my bones laid apart from yours, Achilles,  
83a + but where the same earth covers you and me
83b + in the golden amphora, which your revered mother gave you. 
84  Just as we grew up together in your house 
85  when Menoitios led me as a child from Opoeis 
86  to your house because of a grievous killing,
87  on that day when I killed the son of Amphidamas 
88 unthinkingly, not intentionally, angered over a game of dice. 
89  The horseman Peleus received me there into his house 
90  and raised me with kindness and named me your therapōn.
91  So let the same vessel hold both our bones. 

Aeschines Against Timarchus 149

Compare the text of the medieval Venetus A manuscript, including line 92 [≈ 83b], which was athetized by Aristarchus and not quoted by Aeschines:

      οὐ μὲν γὰρ ζωοί γε φίλων ἀπάνευθεν ἑταίρων Iliad 23.77
78  βουλὰς ἑζόμενοι βουλεύσομεν, ἀλλ’ ἐμὲ μὲν κὴρ 
79  ἀμφέχανε στυγερή, ἥ περ λάχε γεινόμενόν περ· 
80  καὶ δὲ σοὶ αὐτῷ μοῖρα θεοῖς ἐπιείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ 
81  τείχει ὑπὸ Τρώων εὐηγενέων ἀπολέσθαι. 
82  ἄλλο δέ τοι ἐρέω καὶ ἐφήσομαι αἴ κε πίθηαι· 
83  μὴ ἐμὰ σῶν ἀπάνευθε τιθήμεναι ὀστέ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ, 
84  ἀλλ’ ὁμοῦ ὡς ἐτράφην [corr. ἐτράφημεν] ἐν ὑμετέροισι δόμοισιν, 
85  εὖτέ με τυτθὸν ἐόντα Μενοίτιος ἐξ Ὀπόεντος 
86  ἤγαγεν ὑμέτερον δ’ ἀνδροκτασίης ὕπο λυγρῆς, 
87  ἤματι τῷ ὅτε παῖδα κατέκτανον Ἀμφιδάμαντος 
88  νήπιος οὐκ ἐθέλων ἀμφ’ ἀστραγάλοισι χολωθείς· 
89  ἔνθά με δεξάμενος ἐν δώμασιν ἱππότα Πηλεὺς 
90  ἔτραφετ’ ἐνδυκέως καὶ σὸν θεράποντ’ ὀνόμηνεν·
91  ὣς δὲ καὶ ὀστέα νῶιν ὁμὴ σορὸς ἀμφικαλύπτοι
92  (–) χρύσεος ἀμφιφορεύς, τόν τοι πόρε πότνια μήτηρ.

Among other variations, this version is shorter than Aeschines’ quotation by at least three verses. We do not know if Aeschines’ text contained line 92 and its reference to the golden amphora of 83b, because his quotation breaks off at 91. [

To confront this situation, in which a fourth-century BCE witness challenges the medieval transmission, a scholarly consensus seems to have been reached which asserts that verses 83a and 83b are an interpolation “effecting the equation of the σορός of 91 with the golden amphora which Thetis provides for Achilles’ bones at Odyssey 24.73–77” (Haslam 1997:76). [38] In this passage from the Odyssey, the ghost of Agamemnon in the underworld recalls the funeral of Achilles:

                                     δῶκε δὲ μήτηρ
χρύσεον ἀμφιφορῆα· Διωνύσοιο δὲ δῶρον
φάσκ’ ἔμεναι, ἔργον δὲ περικλυτοῦ Ἡφαίστοιο.
ἐν τῷ τοι κεῖται λεύκ’ ὀστέα, φαίδιμ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ,
μίγδα δὲ Πατρόκλοιο Μενοιτιάδαο θανόντος.

Odyssey 24.73–77

                                     And your mother gave
a golden amphora. A gift from Dionysos
she claimed that it was, the work of exceedingly renowned Hephaistos.
In it lie your white bones, radiant Achilles,
mingled with those of the dead Patroklos, son of Menoitios.

The golden amphora referenced here would appear to be the same one depicted on the so-called François Vase, a large Archaic black-figure vase that prominently features the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, among other scenes connected to the life of Achilles. [
39] On that vase, Dionysos can be seen carrying an amphora on his back as he proceeds with the other gods to the wedding (see Plate 7A). Rather than view these multiple attestations of the golden amphora as confirmation of its traditional place in Greek myth and in Homeric poetry, some scholars assert that the Odyssey passage actually calls Iliad 23.92 into question. Michael Haslam has argued in connection with the Odyssey passage: “discussions of the amphora [on the François Vase] generally fail to realize that the verse [23.92] is an interpolation, and that the jar’s only Homeric occurrence—provided we define Od. 24 as Homeric—is in Od. 24” (Haslam 1991:36). Proponents of this explanation, including Haslam, point to Aristarchus’ athetesis of line 92, a verse that is also missing in papyrus 12, a mid-third-century BCE text. [40] They argue that verses 83a, 83b, and 92 are alternative means of bringing the Iliad passage into alignment with that of the Odyssey. (By this line of reasoning, both 83a–b and 92 are interpolations and therefore not “Homeric.”) They therefore maintain that the text from which Aeschines made his citation did not contain 92.

In the face of such a unified front, I propose to reformulate, adding some of my own examples, the general argument of Aldo Di Luzio (1969), who has shown persuasively that 83a and 83b are not likely to be interpolations based on the Odyssey 24 passage. Di Luzio argues instead that 83a and 83b were originally in the text along with 92. I omit for now but will return later to the question of whether to include 81a or the internal variations in 77 and 82. I also omit for now but will return later to the even larger question of what “interpolation” even means for an orally composed poem.

Di Luzio’s presentation of the text reads as follows:

83 μὴ ἐμὰ σῶν ἀπάνευθε τιθήμεναι ὀστέ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ,
83a + ἀλλ’ ἵνα περ σε καὶ αὐτὸν ὁμοίη γαῖα κεκεύθῃ,
83b + χρυσέῳ ἐν ἀμφιφορεῖ, τόν τοι πόρε πότνια μήτηρ,
84 ὡς ὁμοῦ ἐτράφεμέν ἐν ὑμετέροισι δόμοισιν, 
85 εὖτέ με τυτθὸν ἐόντα Μενοίτιος ἐξ Ὀπόεντος 
86 ἤγαγεν ὑμέτερον δ’ ἀνδροκτασίης ὕπο λυγρῆς, 
87 ἤματι τῷ ὅτε παῖδα κατέκτανον Ἀμφιδάμαντος 
88 νήπιος οὐκ ἐθέλων ἀμφ’ ἀστραγάλοισι χολωθείς· 
89 ἔνθά με δεξάμενος ἐν δώμασιν ἱππότα Πηλεὺς 
90 ἔτρεφέ τ’ ἐνδυκέως καὶ σὸν θεράποντ’ ὀνόμηνεν· 
91 ὣς δὲ καὶ ὀστέα νῶιν ὁμὴ σορὸς ἀμφικαλύπτοι 
92 (–) χρύσεος ἀμφιφορεύς, τόν τοι πόρε πότνια μήτηρ.

Iliad 23.83–92 mss. (except first half of 84) + 83a and 83b

In this version of the text, there is ring composition as in nearly every speech in Homer. This ring composition is reinforced by the repetition of the reference to the golden amphora in 83b. The ring composition is further enhanced by the parallelism between ὁμοίη in 83a and ὁμή in 91 as well as the ὀστέα of 83 and 91. The verses 83–83a then correspond to verse 91, while 83b corresponds to 92. [

Di Luzio’s arguments demonstrate that the passage as printed above is just as “Homeric” as the medievally transmitted Iliad, and possibly more so. He writes: “con 83ab, il passo 83–92 manifesterebbe una struttura isomorfica con quella di altri discorsi del testo epico in cui le frasi alla fine del discorso sono spesso la ripresa di frasi occorrenti all’ inizio di esso” (Di Luzio 1969:83). Not only is the overall structure Homeric, but the individual constructions within this structure correspond to Homeric usage as well. Together 83a and 83b form the familiar pattern of a negative protasis followed by a reinforcing positive apodosis that expresses the same idea. Compare these lines from the Odyssey:

For it is not measured out for him to perish far away from his friends,
but it is still his fate to see his friends and reach
his high-roofed house and his dear fatherland.

The three-verse structure here is nearly identical to that of 83–83b. We can observe the same phenomenon in a more compressed form in the phrase “ἔοικέ τοι, οὔ τοι ἀεικές” (Iliad 9.70). Moreover, within this structure Di Luzio distinguishes still further examples of Homeric usage (Di Luzio 1969:84–86). The first half of 83b (χρυσέῳ ἐν ἀμφιφορεῖ) consists of a complementary locative phrase which specifies the preceding clause. The second half of the line is a parenthetical relative clause of a kind that is used frequently in Homeric poetry to designate particular objects. A parallel is Iliad 4.215–216: λῦσε δέ οἱ ζωστῆρα παναίολον ἠδ’ ὑπένερθε / ζῶμά τε καὶ μίτρην, τὴν χαλκῆες κάμον ἄνδρες. There are numerous other examples.

Di Luzio’s compelling analysis illustrates precisely why variants presented by fourth-century quotations and the Ptolemaic papyri cannot be dismissed as inept or unworthy. Thus there is room to disagree with Stephanie West’s analysis of this passage. She writes: “The objections to this version are obvious: 83a seems to be based on Σ 329, but barely makes sense; its insertion makes the construction of Patroclus’ speech very confused” (West 1967:172). And yet, as we have seen, there is nothing inherently objectionable within the lines themselves. They simply do not survive in the medieval transmission of the text.

Nor does 92 present problems of usage. If we analyze it independently of 83b, we see that it contains an appositional phrase consisting of a synonym that specifies a preceding noun, the σορός of 91 (Di Luzio 1969:84). [47] To this we can compare the following examples:

                   μινυνθάδιον δέ με μήτηρ
γείνατο Λαοθόη θυγάτηρ Ἄλταο γέροντος
Ἄλτεω, ὃς Λελέγεσσι φιλοπτολέμοισιν ἀνάσσει

Iliad 22.85–86

[If I] afterwards take an oath sworn by the elders from the Trojans
not to hide anything, but to divide up everything in two
as much property as the lovely citadel holds inside

ἀλλὰ σὺ μὲν χαλκόν τε ἅλις χρυσόν τε δέδεξο
δῶρα τά τοι δώσουσι πατὴρ καὶ πότνια μήτηρ

Iliad 22.340–341

But you accept the bronze and sufficient gold,
gifts which my father and lady mother will give you

In the first example the name Altes is repeated in the same case in order to introduce a specifying relative clause. In the second example there is a similar construction, but πάντα of line 120 is further specified by the apposition of κτῆσιν at the beginning of line 121. I adduce the last example because of its striking similarity to 23.92, the very verse in question. Like 83a and 83b, it seems that on its own 92 presents no difficulties.

The problem must originate in the existence of both 83a–b and 92 together at some pre-Alexandrian stage of the text. As Di Luzio points out, this sort of doubling, though unquestionably Homeric, was just the sort of thing that troubled Alexandrian critics. It is only to be expected that one or the other would have been omitted by Aristarchus’ time in many texts. And indeed it seems that 83a and 83b had almost completely dropped out of the tradition, in deference to 92, by Aristarchus’ day but that remnants of an alternative excision of 92 still remained. The T scholiast states: ἐν πάσαις οὐκ ἦν ὁ στίχος. καὶ Ἀρίσταρχος ἐκ τῆς Νεκυίας αὐτὸν ἐσπάσθαι φησίν (“The verse is not in all. And Aristarchus says that it was taken from the Nekuia”). Di Luzio suggests that Aristarchus conjectured that verse 92 was an interpolation based on the Odyssey only after he felt compelled to explain why it was not present in all the texts available to him (Di Luzio 1969:83). This scenario is all the more likely if some of Aristarchus’ texts no longer contained 83a and 83b.

My formulation of the history of the passage is the opposite of that of Haslam, West, Janko, and Richardson. I posit the loss of 83a–b or 92 in all or most texts between the fourth and second centuries BCE rather than their insertion sometime prior to Aeschines’ quotation of them. It is easier to understand the loss of such lines that we know to have been troublesome for scholars of the Hellenistic era than to postulate an interpolation in a text as early as that of Aeschines. The attribution of interpolation to such an early text indeed stretches the limits of the term, for there could have been scant means and little motive to interpolate in a time when literacy was limited and performance was still alive and well as the primary means of access to the Homeric epics for most people. T. W. Allen hit the nail on the head in 1924 when he wrote, “The origin of additions and omissions cannot be referred to anything except to the recitation of rhapsodes, and therefore the phenomenon must have existed and presumably been most frequent during the period when a reading public hardly existed” (267). If we understand “performance” in place of Allen’s “recitation” (which implies memorization) we have here an early formulation of what Parry and Lord would later demonstrate by way of fieldwork. What Allen could not have realized is that these additions and omissions are not interpolations but genuine performance-derived multiforms no less “Homeric” than those that survive in the medieval transmission.

Not only is there no reason to theorize that 83a–b/92 is an interpolation, such a theory does nothing to explain other multiforms in the passage that are equally difficult to explain by conventional text-critical methods. The first words of the first line of the passage are not the same as we find in medieval manuscripts: οὐ γὰρ ἔτι versus οὐ μὲν γὰρ (ζωοί γε φίλων ἀπάνευθεν ἑταίρων). The phrase οὐ γὰρ ἔτι is certainly Homeric; it occurs four times in our Iliad and Odyssey. The phrase οὐ μὲν γὰρ, on the other hand, occurs forty-three times. Van der Valk objects to Aeschines’ reading, stating simply: “It is obvious that the solemn formula of the Homeric mss. οὐ μὲν γὰρ represents the original text” (1964:327n230). It is not obvious at all: the number of occurrences suggests that οὐ γὰρ ἔτι is the more marked form and arguably the more solemn. But by far the most remarkable evidence in support of Aeschines’ reading is the fact that the A scholia attest that this was the reading in some of the “city editions” (ἔν τισι τῶν πολιτικῶν). An old attestation with ancient authority, it deserves at least as much consideration as the text transmitted into medieval times.

Line 81a, another plus verse, holds up to similar scrutiny. This line is perfectly formulaic. The phrase μάρνασθαι δηΐοισιν occurs in verse-initial position four times in our Iliad (9.317, 11.190, 11.205, 17.148). The participle μαρνάμενον is likewise attested in various cases in verse-initial position throughout the Iliad: μαρνάμενον 3.307, 6.204; μαρνάμενοι 6.257, 6.328, 14.25; μαρναμένων 12.429, 13.579, 16.775; μαρναμένοισι 13.96. The phrase Ἑλένης ἕνεκ’ ἠυκόμοιο is also found at Iliad 9.339, and there are six instances of the phrase Ἑλένης πόσις ἠυκόμοιο, all in verse-final position. [50] Others have viewed the formulaic nature of verse 81a as proof of interpolation. [51] But this view is fundamentally at odds with the findings of Lord that in the system within which the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed, every line is formulaic. [52] Stephanie West (1967:13) is sympathetic to the idea of interpolation, but acknowledges:

Some of these [verses] may have been composed for interpolation, but it is equally possible that they come from lost hexameter poetry. Obviously none of these plus-verses is indispensable, but since there are many equally dispensable lines in our texts of Homer which no one would excise, this would not in itself be a sufficient reason for rejecting them.

West here distinguishes between two types of interpolation: those composed by the “interpolator,” and those taken out of their original context and inserted improperly by the “interpolator” into another passage. West’s own analysis suggests that the plus verses are as “Homeric” as medievally transmitted verses, but she nevertheless treats them as “interpolations” that have no place in our texts of the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Line 23.82 of Aeschines’ quotation presents a comparable difficulty for those who insist on the aberrance of the fourth-century quotations of Homer. The Venetus A at this line reads ἄλλο δέ τοι ἐρέω καὶ ἐφήσομαι αἴ κε πίθηαι. As with 77, the variation is internal to the line and therefore is not a question of plus or minus verses (or the numerus versuum, as it is often referred to by scholars). Line 82 is the only instance of this verse in Homer, although the construction is a familiar one. (Cf. Iliad 1.207: ἦλθον ἐγὼ παύσουσα τὸ σὸν μένος, αἴ κε πίθηαι.) The phraseology of Aeschines’ reading, on the other hand (ἄλλο δέ τοι ἐρέω σὺ δ’ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ βάλλεο σῇσιν), is attested eleven times in the medieval texts of the Iliad. I do not suggest that Aeschines’ reading is superior or more “Homeric”: I merely propose that it is no less so.

This passage challenges the way we deal with multiforms, particularly those that are demonstrably formulaic and in strict accordance with Homeric usage. The variations take the form of both internal variation within lines and fluctuation in the numerus versuum resulting from expansion and compression at the performance level. [58] Many of the features that are Homeric in 83–92 are present in a more compressed form even if 83a, 83b, and 92 are eliminated from the text. Let us consider:

83 μὴ ἐμὰ σῶν ἀπάνευθε τιθήμεναι ὀστέ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ, 
84 ἀλλ’ ὁμοῦ ὡς ἐτράφημεν ἐν ὑμετέροισι δόμοισιν,
85 εὖτέ με τυτθὸν ἐόντα Μενοίτιος ἐξ Ὀπόεντος 
86 ἤγαγεν ὑμέτερον δ’ ἀνδροκτασίης ὕπο λυγρῆς, 
87 ἤματι τῷ ὅτε παῖδα κατέκτανον Ἀμφιδάμαντος
88 νήπιος οὐκ ἐθέλων ἀμφ’ ἀστραγάλοισι χολωθείς·
89 ἔνθά με δεξάμενος ἐν δώμασιν ἱππότα Πηλεὺς 
90 ἔτραφέ τ’ ἐνδυκέως καὶ σὸν θεράποντ’ ὀνόμηνεν· 
91 ὣς δὲ καὶ ὀστέα νῶϊν ὁμὴ σορὸς ἀμφικαλύπτοι

The variation found within verse 84, caused by the fluctuation between the shorter and longer version, has been eliminated. There is still ring composition and verbal repetition of ὀστέα in 83 and 91. Verses 83–84 alone are a somewhat elliptical version of the construction featuring a negative protasis / positive reinforcing apodosis—if we understand an ellipse of τιθήμεναι in 84. The presence of 83a–b and 92 expands and reinforces these features. The textual critic who wishes to print an edition of the Iliad is forced to choose between these two quite different texts, either of which is defensible in terms of Homeric usage.


Throughout the Iliad there is reference to a larger event that will take place outside of the confines of the epic, and that is the death of Achilles. We are constantly reminded of his short life and impending doom, close on the heels of Hektor’s. [61] The presence here of the golden amphora, which Achilles’ mother gave him in anticipation of his approaching death, evokes in Patroklos’ reminder not only that impending death but its aftermath. [62] Our awareness of the presence or absence of the golden amphora in the narrative of Achilles’ death indicates whether he will achieve immortality through cult or pass into obscurity in the underworld. [63] Although the Iliad centers on Achilles’ mortality, here we have a glimpse of the immortality that is so important in the tradition outside of the Iliad. [64] Andrew Stewart (1983) has argued that the golden amphora is the focal point for the two conceptions of Achilles on the François Vase as well: he understands the compositional unity of the François Vase to be centered on the golden amphora depicted on it. The wedding of Peleus and Thetis is set amidst narratives that explore the tensions between mortality and immortality, peerless excellence and savage wrath, and mighty prowess and terrible hubris in the figure of Achilles. Stewart notes: “Appropriately, all these themes intersect in the motif of Dionysos’ amphora and its twin promises of death and immortality” (1983:66). The golden amphora points to a critical dichotomy in how the Achilles story ends.


Fourth-century quotations of Homer are some of our oldest witnesses and preserve information about the various epic traditions that we have otherwise lost. In one of those traditions, Achilles was not left to dwell in Hades, lamenting the choice he had made to re-enter the fight and now preferring a life of servitude to death with κλέος (as in Odyssey 11.487–491). Instead his bones were assembled and placed in a golden amphora along with those of Patroklos, thereby securing his immortality in cult. A multitextual approach can embrace both possibilities, as well as demonstrate the reality of oral performance and transmission, which requires that no oral text will ever be composed, performed, and recorded the same way twice.

Many of the issues raised by the two quotations examined here will need to be confronted again in connection with the Homeric papyri, which are discussed in the next chapter and which are similarly multiform. I would like to conclude the present chapter by making two final points about how we treat the multiforms preserved in the quotations.

The preceding analysis shows that the multiformity presented by Aeschines’ quotation of Iliad 23 is of a formulaic nature that is in no way incompatible with what we know of the system as a whole. Rather than try to find ways to dismiss, denigrate, or otherwise obfuscate such multiformity, I submit that it is better to treat each of the surviving quotations as valid, even if fragmentary, instantiations of the Iliad or the Odyssey in their own right. Allowing each instantiation to enter our awareness and our appreciation of the Iliad and the Odyssey as orally created poems is problematic only for those who insist that there is one text alone that can be authoritative, that composed by the postulated “Homer” himself. Albert Lord explains why this is not the right approach for oral poetry (1960:100–101):

Our real difficulty arises from the fact that, unlike the oral poet, we are not accustomed to thinking in terms of fluidity. We find it difficult to grasp something that is multiform. It seems to us necessary to construct an ideal text or to seek an original, and we remain dissatisfied with an ever-changing phenomenon. I believe that once we know the facts of oral composition we must cease trying to find an original of any traditional song. From one point of view each performance is an original.… The truth of the matter is that our concept of “the original,” of “the song,” simply makes no sense in oral tradition.… In an oral tradition the idea of an original is illogical. It follows then that we cannot correctly speak of a “variant,” since there is no original to be varied! Yet songs are related to one another in varying degrees; not, however, in the relationship of variant to original, in spite of the recourse so often made to an erroneous concept of “oral transmission”; for “oral transmission,” “oral composition,” “oral creation,” and “oral performance” are all one and the same thing. Our greatest error is to attempt to make “scientifically” rigid a phenomenon that is fluid.

By imposing an authorial model on what has survived of Homeric poetry from antiquity, modern editors necessarily exclude an abundance of alternative instantiations of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and so a wealth of data about the system in which those two poems were composed.

Just as problematic is the fact that this same authorial approach is the one taken by the vast majority of editors of al l Greek and Roman authors, not just Homer. At the outset of this chapter we saw that Plato, like Propertius, read τι at Iliad 23.103. But until relatively recently few modern scholars could know it. When I wrote my 2001 article on this multiform, I noted that although the A and F manuscripts of Plato on which modern texts are based read τι, all modern editors of Plato that I could locate at that time printed τις. These editions make this slight but significant change in order to bring Plato’s text into alignment with the medievally transmitted Iliad, whose reading of τις, I stress, is by no means certain. In addition, only one of the editors of the more than ten editions of the Republic that I consulted indicates in the apparatus criticus that they have done so. This is a dangerous practice, and it is based on two flawed assumptions: that fourth-century quotations are not reliable witnesses to the text of Homer and that somehow the same editorial principles that apply to the rest of the text of Plato do not apply to quotations. Fortunately, the practice appears to be changing. S. R. Slings’s 2003 edition of the Republic prints τι, while noting in the apparatus that most Homer manuscripts have τις.

It is not a defensible editorial practice to alter Plato’s text here or elsewhere to bring it into alignment with our concept of a Homeric “vulgate.” No such vulgate existed during the fourth century BCE at least. [69] This can be proven from the numerous fourth-century quotations of Homer in Plato and orators such as Aeschines that do not accord with our medievally transmitted manuscripts. Moreover, the surviving papyri, the next-oldest witnesses we possess (chapter 3), as well as the ancient scholia (chapter 4), confirm that the kind of variation presented by fourth-century quotations remained a feature of Homeric texts for several centuries after Plato. When combined, the picture they present of the earliest written forms of the Iliad and the Odyssey is one of fluctuation in the number of verses and considerable variation within lines. There is no justification for insisting that Plato’s text correspond exactly with the medieval manuscripts, whose relative uniformity, as we have seen already in chapter 1, cannot be entirely explained, nor can it be traced back to a single historical source. At any rate, certainly the apparatus criticus is the appropriate place to note or comment on discrepancies such as this one. Ancient quotations, papyri, and the scholia are our only sources for variant readings that were at one time a part of the living oral tradition but dropped out. When editors not only change the reading of Plato but also fail to indicate that they have done so in the apparatus, they hide from students of Homer a window into the vibrant oral tradition that is now mostly lost to us. [70]


[ back ] 1. Cf. Lord’s formulation from The Singer of Tales (1960/2000:65): “Were we to train our ears to catch these echoes, we might cease to apply the clichés of another criticism to oral poetry, and thereby become aware of its own riches.”

[ back ] 2. I don’t mean to imply that Aeschylus was working with an actual text of the Iliad, only that he knew a different Iliad (via Panathenaic performance or otherwise) than the one we know from the medieval transmission.

[ back ] 3. The Roman poet Catullus (64.152–153) may also have known δαῖτα (so Zetzel 1978, but see Thomas’s response [1979]). For other possible echoes in Greek tragedy see Pfeiffer 1968:111. For more discussion of the significance of Aeschylus’ apparent reading of δαῖτα, see Ludwich 1885:87–89, Pasquali 1952:236–237, Nagy 1996a:134–135, and Bird 2010:34–40. Janko (1992:23) calls δαῖτα “an early emendation” (see also Kirk 1985:53). But who did the emending? What “text” did they emend? And how would Aeschylus have known it? For more on why this kind of argument in reference to an orally composed poem is inherently problematic, see my discussion of “interpolation” below.

[ back ] 4. Athetized verses were not actually removed from the text. The critical sign known as the obelos was placed next to them, indicating that the editor did not think them to be Homeric; on the Alexandrian critical signs that survive in the Venetus A, see Bird 2009.

[ back ] 5. For a more detailed description of these see Allen’s prolegomena in his editio maior of the Iliad (= Allen 1931).

[ back ] 6. Allen (1924:249–70) provides a useful survey of early Homeric quotations and the variants they preserve, building on Ludwich 1898:71–132. For a thorough study of the quotations of Homer in Plato specifically see Labarbe, L’Homère de Platon (1949). Labarbe’s overall purpose in considering the variation found in Plato is the establishment of the one true text of Homer. As a result his work is fundamentally at odds with my own approach. Nevertheless his discussion is an important contribution to the study of quotations in Homeric textual criticism. On ancient quotations of Homer see also Higbie 1997 and Usher 2000.

[ back ] 7. See above, pp. 45–46.

[ back ] 8. Van Thiel does not believe that the words of Homer himself can ever be recovered, but he does not claim that the words of Homer never existed. There may have been an authoritative Iliad, we simply don’t have the means to recover it. The best we can do, in Van Thiel’s view, is to work with our medieval sources to reconstruct an authoritative medieval text (“Laurels in textual criticism are not to be won from the text of Homer” [1991:xxiv]). West, by contrast, as we have seen in the last chapter, seeks to recover the words of Homer himself, the maximus poeta.

[ back ] 9. West called the extra verses found in fourth-century quotations “embellishments” by rhapsodes in his Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique (1973b), but in his Teubner edition of the Iliad (1998–2000) he calls them interpolations (p. vii). West nevertheless does incorporate quotations into his very thorough apparatus criticus, which contains a separate band on every page for allusions to and quotations of the Homeric texts in ancient authors. Richard Janko (1992:21) argues that extra verses were later “interpolated” into an originally dictated text. Stephanie West likewise refers to plus verses in the papyri as “interpolations,” later adding that these were largely the work of rhapsodes, and compares them to actor’s interpolations in Attic drama (1967:12–13; so also Revermann 1998). These scholars make a distinction between “Homer,” the creator, and later, non-creative rhapsodes. Following Nagy’s evolutionary model, which accounts for the changing creative process of performers as the tradition evolved over time, I do not make such a distinction. For a critical discussion of the use of the term “interpolation” by classicists in reference to performance variants, see Nagy 1996a:28–32.

[ back ] 10. See West 1998: x. T. W. Allen, on the other hand, attributes to Plato “a designed carelessness of Socrates” that makes him a doubtful witness (1924:254).

[ back ] 11. Pelliccia 1997:46. See also Finkelberg (2000), who cites Pelliccia as well as S. West (1967) and Powell (1997b) in her argument that the known variants of the Iliad and the Odyssey are too restricted to be considered multiforms.

[ back ] 12. Kirk 1985 ad 1.1, on a variant Iliad proem.

[ back ] 13. Cf. Janko’s criticism of Van Thiel’s decision not to bracket many verses considered by Apthorp (1980) to be interpolated: “This is not progress … the removal of such lines almost always improves the poem’s literary qualities” (1994:293).

[ back ] 14. I have chosen to translate the lines this way because of the tendency of Homeric verses typically to function as independent units. Another possible translation (“There is a soul, even in the House of Hades, and a likeness…) is discussed further below, but this would be a very unusual construction in Homeric Greek. This portion of the chapter is a revised and somewhat compressed version of Dué 2001b; please see the article for more on the implications of the multiform under discussion for our understanding of Propertius’ poem IV 7.

[ back ] 15. See also the editions Butler and Barber (1933), Camps (1965), and Hutchinson (2006) inter alia, as well as Hubbard 1974:149ff and Papanghelis 1987:145–198.

[ back ] 16. The one major exception is the edition of Leaf (London, 1900–1902).

[ back ] 17. Both Lattimore (“Even in the house of Hades there is left something”) and Lombardo (“so there is something in Death’s house”) seem to have chosen to translate τι rather than τις, even though both usually follow Munro and Allen’s Oxford Classical Text as the source for their translation.

[ back ] 18. Cf. Richardson 1993 ad loc., who argues that not only is τι possible, but it is superior to τις, which goes awkwardly with ψυχὴ καὶ εἴδωλον in the following line.

[ back ] 19. I agree with Labarbe’s insistence on this point (1949:169–170).

[ back ] 20. Papyrus 511 (= P. Mil. Vogl. 3.117 [inv. 425] + 3.118 [inv. 428]). For the publication history of this papyrus see the Mertens-Pack 3 database (, s.v. 1002.

[ back ] 21. On this very specialized form of allusion, see Rengakos 1993. On Alexandrian allusive techniques and the relationship between the Alexandrian poets and their predecessors, see also Giangrande 1967 and 1970, Bing 1988, and Gelzer 1993. On Roman allusive practice a great deal of work has been done; important studies include Conte 1986, Farrell 1991, Hinds 1998, Thomas 1999, Edmunds 2000, and Barchiesi 2001. For a more recent overview and bibliography see O’Rourke 2012.

[ back ] 22. On the Alexandrian scholarly debate and the scholia for these lines see also Richardson 1993 ad loc. and Van der Valk 1963:540–542. On the awkwardness of these lines in general see Labarbe 1949:170–172

[ back ] 23. ἢ φρένας λέγει οὐ τὸ διανοητικόν, ἀλλὰ μέρος τι τῶν ἐντὸς σώματος, ὡς καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ “ἔν τε φρένες ἧπαρ ἔχουσι” (~ Odyssey 9.301) καὶ πάλιν “ἔνθ’ ἄρα τε φρένες ἔρχεται” (= Iliad 16.481). ἔστιν οὖν ἀπὸ μέρους τὸ ὅλον σῶμα. οὕτως Ἀριστοφάνες ὁ γραμματικός.

[ back ] 24. ἡ διπλῆ δέ, ὅτι τὰς τῶν ἀτάφων ψυχὰς Ὅμηρος ἔτι σωζούσας τὴν φρόνησιν ὑποτίθεται. This note immediately follows the previous one in the Venetus A manuscript of the Iliad.

[ back ] 25. κάλλιον δέ, ὅτι φρένας οἱ τεθνεῶτες οὐκ ἔχουσιν· ἐμέμφετο γὰρ ὡς ἠμελημένος. (This comment is preserved in a number of manuscripts, including the Venetus B and the Townley.) This is Leaf’s view as well (1902:621).

[ back ] 26. For Leaf’s view see note 16 above. Richardson (1993 ad loc.) is inclined to accept φρένες as “physi-cal substance” with Aristophanes.

[ back ] 27. On Ovid’s intertextual relationship with Propertius see Berman 1972:170–172 and Morgan 1977. Early compilations of parallel passages include Zingerle 1869–71/1967, Ganzenmüller 1911, and Neumann 1919. See also Miller 1993, Casali 2009, and O’Rourke 2014.

[ back ] 28. See Morgan 1977:94–97, as well as Taylor 1970. Morgan analyzes some of the Propertian echoes in this poem, although she does not discuss IV 7.

[ back ] 29. Ovid’s text goes even further in its engagement of Propertius. For Ovid alludes not only to Lucretius and Propertius IV 7 and the reading of τι instead of τις, but also to Propertius II 34, where Propertius uses aliquid in a strikingly similar context: si post Stygias aliquid restabit undas (II 34.53). Moreover, Amores III 9 isn’t the only place where Ovid can be seen to play with aliquid. In Amores I 12.3 he writes omina sunt aliquid. In Metamorphoses VI 542 we find: si numina divum sunt aliquid. Ovid engages Propertius yet again in Tristia IV 10: si tamen extinctis aliquid nisi nomina restat, / et gracilis structos effugit umbra rogos… (85–86). In this final example there is no aliqua to contrast with the aliquid, but it seems that there is a play on the two Homeric possibilities that is similar to that of Amores III 9.

[ back ] 30. After Propertius and Ovid the textual debate lives on. We find in Juvenal 2.149 esse aliquos Manes et subterranea regna and in Quintilian negat ullos esse Manes. The alternative formulations of the question of life after death may have influenced actual epitaphs. Compare the following three quotations from the Carmina Epigraphica: [ back ] si tamen at Manes credimus esse aliquit (Carmina Epigraphica 1190.3) [ back ] si qui estis Manes (Carmina Epigraphica 132.1) [ back ] si quae sunt Manes (Carmina Epigraphica 2170) [ back ] It is impossible to be certain who is influencing whom, but I am inclined to believe that the epitaphs are modeled on the poetry and not vice versa. This very complex set of allusive relationships (from Homer all the way to Juvenal and Quintilian is, in the language of Hinds, untidy but not, I believe, inert [see especially Hinds 1998:34–47]). On these later echoes of Propertius and Ovid see Shackleton Bailey 1952:331.

[ back ] 31. Lange 1979:336. She notes, among other passages, Cynthia’s laudes desine habere meas (78). This farewell would be one of many, of course; Propertius renounces both Cynthia and love elegy in general elsewhere (see especially III 24 and 25).

[ back ] 32. The following arguments have been revised and adapted from Dué 2001a.

[ back ] 33. For a more general overview of the history of the treatment of plus verses—verses that are attested in quotations and papyri and the scholia, but not in the majority of medieval manuscripts—in Homeric scholarship, see Bird 2010:27–60, and especially 53–56, and chapter 3 below.

[ back ] 34. See also Against Timarchus 151 τὸ σωφρόνως ἐρᾶν. Aeschines is careful to distinguish between sexual relations between men and erotic/romantic love between men and (male) youths (which he calls ἔρωτα δίκαιον, Against Timarchus 136). He anticipates that some of his own erotic poetry will be read to the jury along with passages from the poets (Against Timarchus 132–136). See Dover 1989:39–54.

[ back ] 35. Papyrus 12 (= P. Grenf. 2.4 + P. Hib. 1.22 + P. Heid. 1262–1266). For the publication history of this papyrus see the Mertens-Pack 3 database (, s.v. 979.

[ back ] 36. 83b: χρυσέῳ ἐν ἀμφιφορεῖ, τόν τοι πόρε πότνια μήτηρ ~ 92: χρύσεος ἀμφιφορεύς, τόν τοι πόρε πότνια μήτηρ. On the possibility that Aeschines’ text did contain verse 92 see the discussion below.

[ back ] 37. Allen (1924:257) supposes that the text is that of the clerk of court’s own copy.

[ back ] 38. As set forth in two separate places within the Cambridge commentary on the Iliad, by Richardson (1993:176) ad 23.92 and by Janko (1992:28), as well as by Haslam (1997:76).

[ back ] 39. On the François Vase see Shapiro, Iozzo, and Lezzi-Hafter 2013. On the relationship of the Iliad and Odyssey passages to Stesichoros and the François Vase see also Stewart 1983 and p. 79 below.

[ back ] 40. Verses 1–85 of Iliad 23 are lost in papyrus 12, with the result that we have no direct way of knowing whether it contained 83a–b. See Haslam 1997:76.

[ back ] 41. Allen 1924:257.

[ back ] 42. “Il secondo dei versi che in Eschine seguono l’ 83 è quello che nei nostri testi noi leggiamo quale Ψ 92: segno certo che nel testo di Eschine Ψ 92 al suo posto mancava” (Pasquali 1952:221–222).

[ back ] 43. West 1967:171.

[ back ] 44. See citations in n. 38 above. I do not mean to claim that Aeschines ever quoted line 92. I merely point out that we cannot know whether the text from which Aeschines took his quotation contained 92.

[ back ] 45. See further Di Luzio 1969:84–85.

[ back ] 46. On this construction and on these lines from the Odyssey see Di Luzio 1969:85 and 110.

[ back ] 47. There are several comments by the scholiast concerning the use of three different words (σορός 23.91, ἀμφιφορεύς 23.92, λάρναξ 24.795) to refer to the same sort of object. Di Luzio effectively demonstrates their semantic equivalence in a discussion of the various Homeric uses of these and other words for vessels.

[ back ] 48. 22.121 is omitted by some manuscripts, including the Venetus A, and West does not print it, but it is attested universally at 18.512, where it likewise follows the phrase ἄνδιχα πάντα δάσασθαι in the preceding line. West and others take the verse’s presence in 18.512 as an indication that 22.121 is an interpolation, based on the earlier passage. A Parry/Lord approach would see the presence of both 18.512 and 22.121 as evidence for the formulaic nature of the poetry. In such a system, repetition is not problematic, and the poet would be free to use the verse following ἄνδιχα πάντα δάσασθαι or not, as he saw fit.

[ back ] 49. Papyrus 27 (= P.Oxy. 558). For the publication history of this papyrus see the Mertens-Pack 3 database (, s.v. 989.

[ back ] 50. Cf. Richardson 1993 ad 23.81.

[ back ] 51. As evidenced by such statements as Allen’s “a dispensable line … constructed of two Homeric pieces” (1924:257). Allen’s remark is a typical response to plus verses, even today.

[ back ] 52. See Lord 1960/2000:47 (Lord is speaking of the South Slavic tradition here, but he goes on to apply his findings to the Homeric epics by analogy). Textual critics of Homer today seem no less reluctant to accept this formulation than those of Parry’s time. See Parry’s comments (written in 1928) in Parry 1971:8–9. Parry cites Antoine Meillet, whose Origines indo-européennes des mètres grecs (1923) had appeared five years earlier: “Homeric epic is entirely composed of formulae handed down from poet to poet. An examination of any passage will quickly reveal that it is made up of lines and fragments of lines which are reproduced word for word in one or several other passages. And even lines, parts of which are not found in another passage, have the character of formulae, and it is doubtless pure chance that they are not attested elsewhere” (1923:61, as quoted in Parry 1928:10 [= Parry 1971:9]). In asserting that Homeric diction is formulaic I do not deny Homeric artistry. Cf. Parry 1932:14 [= Parry 1971:335]: “The fame of a singer comes not from quitting the tradition but from putting it to the best use.” See Dué and Ebbott 2010 for a demonstration of the complex levels of meaning that are possible in oral traditional poetry.

[ back ] 53. D’Ippolito 1977 ad Odyssey 5.24a.

[ back ] 54. See, for example, Odyssey 5.21 τὴν δ’ ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφη νεφεληγερέτα Ζεύς. Papyrus 30 (= P. Tebt. 3.697) has in place of this line τὴν δ’ ἠμείβετ’ ἔπειτα πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε (as restored by D’Ippolito), which also occurs at Iliad 1.544. D’Ippolito does print the alternate line in his apparatus. For the publication history of Papyrus 30 see the Mertens-Pack 3 database (, s.v. 1056.

[ back ] 55. Janko 1992:22. For arguments against Janko’s position, see Nagy 1996a:138–140.

[ back ] 56. Haslam’s position on plus verses and variations found in the Ptolemaic papyri is more subtle than the other positions surveyed here but still problematic. He notes: “Whatever kind of a history they have behind them, the verses existed, and while editors whose quest is the original Homer may not see fit to admit them or even to report them, the fact remains that they were just as much a part of the Homeric text as verses whose subsequent life was longer” (1997:68). I am much in agreement on this point. But Haslam reveals a prejudgment when he says, “From a transmissional point of view, however, it is easier to view plus-verses as accretions which did not gain a sufficiently firm hold to be perpetuated than as pristine material which has dropped” (1997:68). See also his 1991 article in which he calls Iliad 23.92 an “interpolation” and not “Homeric.” The distinction between “accretions” and “pristine material” is still contingent upon an original text. Haslam’s model, like those of the other scholars I have cited, excludes the possibility of a multiform text that does not privilege any single performance-based textual tradition.

[ back ] 57. See also the similar arguments made by Bird (2010:86), who asks the same question.

[ back ] 58. On fluctuation of the numerus versuum and expansion/compression see Nagy 1996a:138–140, with citations, Bird 2010:49–49, and chapters 3 and 4 below.

[ back ] 59. Di Luzio 1969:142–143. See also D’Ippolito 1977:246–247.

[ back ] 60. See especially Nagy 1979:208–209 and Stewart 1983:64.

[ back ] 61. Cf. Iliad 1.352, 416; 18.59–60, 89–90, 95–96; 19.416–417; 22.359–360; 23.80–81; 24.132.

[ back ] 62. On the significance of Patroklos’ reminding Achilles of his own death see also Di Luzio 1969:85 and Pestalozzi 1945:33.

[ back ] 63. For a discussion of Hades-type narrative closure vs. “Elysium”-type narrative closure, see Nagy 1979, chaps. 9–10.

[ back ] 64. On the hero cult of Achilles in the area of the Black Sea, where Achilles was believed to live as an immortal on the island of Leukē (“the White Island”), see Hedreen 1991.

[ back ] 65. See chapter 1 (with citations ad loc.) on the role that the state-sponsored Panathenaic festival played in the formation of the Homeric text as we now have it. I don’t mean to imply otherwise here; I mean only that there were not official state copies of the poems kept for the purposes of fixing the text in a particular form.

[ back ] 66. Van der Valk argues that Aeschines has inserted 83a–b in place of 92 early in Patroklos’ appeal in order to support his argument that Patroklos and Achilles are the archetypal pair of “chaste” lovers (1964:326–331). I do not agree with Van der Valk’s argument that the text of Aeschines’ citation supports his argument more than the medievally transmitted text does.

[ back ] 67. See, e.g., Apology 28c–d and further examples collected in Labarbe 1949:340–360.

[ back ] 68. On the authority of Homer for ancient disputes see also Perlman 1964 and Higbie 1997.

[ back ] 69. As was seen as early as 1906 by Grenfell and Hunt (68). For more on the concept of a “vulgate,” see Dué 2001a.

[ back ] 70. Martin West, for example, does not seem to have known that Plato read τι at 23.103 when he compiled his 1998–2000 critical edition of the Iliad, citing only the Propertius passage in his apparatus.