The Aethiopis: Neo-Neoanalysis Reanalyzed

  Davies, Malcolm. 2016. The Aethiopis: Neo-Neoanalysis Reanalyzed. Hellenic Studies Series 71. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

Chapter 3. Commentary on Proclus’ Summary of the Aethiopis

The question of a dating of the composition relative to the Iliad has been considered above (pages 3–24), where it was seen to be an exceedingly complex issue. As for an absolute dating, the epic has a traditional author (Arctinus) who in turn is assigned a traditional floruit. The inadequacy of such traditions is now generally recognized.

On the possible relevance of Milesian colonization of the Black Sea area for the dating of our epic see page 76 below. {45|46}

ἐπιβάλλει δὲ τοῖς προειρημένοις {ἐν τῆι πρὸ ταύτης βίβλωι} Ἰλιὰς Ὁμήρου
Following the aforementioned poems comes Homer’s Iliad.

For the meaning of the verb here and the consequences that follow from it, see my forthcoming commentary on the Cypria.

μεθ᾽ ἥν ἐστιν Αἰθιοπίδος πέντε βιβλία
After which come the Aethiopis ’s five books.

For this type of phraseology used of one work appended to another cf. West’s commentary on Hesiod’s Theogony, p. 402. For the exact translation of the reference to the number of books see Burgess 2001:30.


Ἀμαζὼν Πενθεσίλεια παραγίνεται Τρωσὶ συμμαχήσουσα, Ἄρεως μὲν θυγάτηρ, Θρᾶισσα δὲ τὸ γένος.
The Amazon Penthesileia arrives on the scene, intending to act as ally to the Trojans. She is the daughter of Ares and is Thracian by birth.

Tabula Veronensis II: Πενθεσίληα Ἀμαζὼν παραγίνεται.

Apollodorus Epitome 5.1: ὅτι Πενθεσίλεια, Ὀτρηρῆς καὶ Ἄρεος ἀκουσίως Ἱππολύτην κτείνασα καὶ ὑπο Πριάμου καθαρθεῖσα… (Penthesileia, daughter of Otrera and Ares, having accidentally killed Hippolyta and been purified by Priam) …

For Amazons in general and Penthesileia in particular, see A. Mayor, The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World (Princeton 2014) 287–304. Apollodorus’ extra details on Penthesileia’s parentage and the immediate cause of her visit to Priam are probably derived from the Aethiopis, as R. Wagner (Curae Mythographicae de Apollodori fontibus [Leipzig 1891] 207–208) surmised. We find again in Diodorus Siculus II 46.5 and Servius ad Vergil Aeneid I 491 (2.226 ed. Harv.) the picture of unintentional homicide perpetrated by Penthesileia. Furthermore, the general motif of exile caused by accidental murder is exceedingly widespread (Wagner [208n1] cites nine examples from Apollodorus alone: I 8.5, II 3.1, II 4.6.4, II 4.12, II 6.2, II 7.6.3, II 8.3.4, III 12.1–2, III 13.8.4; for other specimens of the motif in early poetry cf. Iliad II 661–670, XV 431–432, XVI 573–576, XXIII 87–92, XXIV 480–482; Odyssey xv 224; [Hesiod] The Shield 11–13, 80–85). The idea of purification for homicide certainly appeared at a later stage of the Aethiopis in connection with Achilles’ killing of Thersites: see page 56 below. {46|47}

A still fuller account of the circumstances of Penthesileia’s arrival at Troy is to be found in Quintus Smyrnaeus I 18–32:

καὶ τότε Θερμώδοντος ἀπ᾽ εὐρυπόροιο ῥεέθρων
ἤλυθε Πενθεσίλεια θεῶν ἐπιειμένη εἶδος,
ἄμφω καὶ στονόεντος ἐελδομένη πολέμοιο
καὶ μέγ᾽ ἀλευομένη στυγερὴν καὶ ἀεικέα φήμην,
μή τις ἑὸν κατὰ δῆμον ἐλεγχείηισι χαλέψηι
ἀμφὶ κασιγνήτης, ἧς εἵνεκα πένθος ἄεξεν,
Ἱππολύτης· τὴν γάρ ῥα κατέκτανε δουρὶ κραταιῶι,
οὐ μὲν δή τι ἑκοῦσα, τιτυσκομένη δ’ ἐλάφοιο·
τοὔνεκ᾿ ἄρα Τροίης ἐρικυδέος ἵκετο γαῖαν.
πρὸς δ’ ἔτι οἱ τόδε θυμὸς ἀρήϊος ὁρμαίνεσκεν,
ὄφρα καθηραμένη περὶ λύματα λυγρὰ φόνοιο
σμερδαλέας θυέεσσιν Ἐριννύας ἱλάσηται,
αἵ οἱ ἀδελφειῆς κεχολωμέναι αὐτίχ᾽ ἕποντο
ἄφραστοι· κεῖναι γὰρ ἀεὶ περὶ ποσσὶν ἀλιτρῶν
στρωφῶντ᾿, οὐδέ τιν᾿ ἐστὶ θεὰς ἀλιτόνθ᾽ ὑπαλύξαι.

Here the Apollodorean details are elaborated, especially with the unique suggestion that Hippolyta was Penthesileia’s sister and the consequent lurid picture of the Erinyes-tormented Amazon queen. Precisely how much ultimately derives from the Aethiopis one would not like to say, but the chances are high that our epic underlies these later treatments, especially Quintus’ very detailed account (cf. Francis Vian, Recherches sur les “Posthomerica” de Quintus de Smyrne [Paris 1959] 18; Vian, Budé text i.13n2).

It is more helpful to follow Wagner (Curae Mythographicae, 208) in recurring to the passage from Quintus of Smyrna: if the tradition of Penthesileia’s exile therein contained derives from the Aethiopis, as he suggests, it will presumably have been intended to reconcile Iliad and Aethiopis: as a result of her exile the Amazon queen comes to help the former enemies of her family.

Severyns (1928:315) detects two further potential references by ancient critics to our poem’s presentation of Penthesileia and the Amazons. The first concerns Aristarchus’ contrast of Homer’s ignorance of κέλητες with the know-ledge displayed by οἱ νεώτεροι, which might, he thinks, presuppose that the Amazons of the Aethiopis, like those in sixth-century art, fought on horseback. The second relates to the Aristarchean interpretation of ἀντιάνειρα in Homer as meaning ἴσανδρος (see Apollonius the Sophist and Etymologicum Magnum s.v.). The great critic refused to translate the word as “opposed to men” (the meaning assigned to it by οἱ νεώτεροι) because he maintained that Homer was unaware of Amazons who opposed men in this manner. Do the νεώτεροι here included the composer of the Aethiopis?

καὶ κτείνει αὐτὴν ἀριστεύουσαν Ἀχιλλεύς.
Achilles kills her in the midst of her aristeia .

Tabula Veronensis II: Ἀχιλλεύς Πενθεσίληαν ἀποκτείνει.

Apollodorus Epitome 5.1: μάχης γενομένης πολλοὺς κτείνει, ἐν οἷς καὶ Μαχά-ονα· εἶθ᾽ ὕστερον θνήισκει ὑπὸ Ἀχιλλέως (A battle takes place in which she kills many adversaries, among them Machaon. Then she is killed by Achilles).

Again one is tempted (compare Wagner, Curae Mythographicae 207–208) to assume that the Aethiopis is Apollodorus’ ultimate warrant for enriching Penthesileia’s ἀριστεία with the death of Machaon. We should not be deterred here by the different datings of that event provided by Ilias Parva (see F7) and other sources, and still less by Proclus’ failure to mention the detail. He (or his abbreviator) follows the Ilias Parva’s scheme of things and therefore has Machaon heal Philoctetes’ wound in his synopsis of that poem’s contents (ἰαθεὶς δὲ οὗτος ὑπὸ {48|49} Μαχάονος). He must consequently omit all mention of Machaon’s death from his summary of the Aethiopis as part of the general process of eliminating such contradictions and inconsistencies. As with Memnon and Antilochus (page 61 below), the future victim of Achilles must first be elevated by a description of her own daring deeds. Quintus Smyrnaeus I 238–246 includes Podarces among the Greeks who fall before Penthesileia’s onslaught.

The clash of Greeks and Amazons at Troy was a popular subject for vase painters, and Achilles and Penthesileia can often be deduced by context or firmly identified thanks to labels. The essential reference book is, of course, Deitrich von Bothmer’s Amazons in Greek Art (Oxford 1957). See in particular pages 70–80 on Attic black-figure vases depicting the battle on foot, 80–84 for Attic black-figure representations of mounted strife, and 192–193 on early classical and classical Attic red-figure vase paintings of Achilles and Penthesileia. See too LIMC I.1, s.v. “Achilleus,” no. 719. On the picture that gives the Penthesileia Painter his name see page 51 below.

Our own limited concern, of course, is to discover whether these artifacts can tell us anything new about the Aethiopis. On the whole, the answer must be no. It is indeed interesting and suggestive that the occasional vase painting links its Amazons with the story of Memnon. Thus on a black-figure neck-amphora in Brussels (A130: ABV 308.82) “the painter,” to borrow von Bothmer’s words (95), “has added a negro archer—an attendant of Memnon—and the Amazons become followers of Penthesileia. In the Aethiopis Memnon arrived after the death of Penthesileia, and one would not expect to find the Ethiopian contingents mixing with the Amazonian, but the point need not be pressed.” On an alabastron in Berlin (inv. 3382: ARV 2 269) the scene is divided between a black individual and an Amazon so that the former helps identify the latter as a companion of Penthesileia. But whether this type of connection was meant to do anything more than facilitate just such an identification one may very much doubt.


καὶ κτείνει αὐτήν ἀριστεύουσαν Ἀχιλλεύς, οἱ δέ Tpῶες αὐτὴν θάπτουσι. καὶ Ἀχιλλεὺς Θερσίτην ἀναιρεῖ, λοιδορηθεὶς πρὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ ὀνειδισθεὶς τὸν ἐπὶ τῆι Πενθεσιλείαι λεγόμενον ἔρωτα …
(Achilles kills Penthesileia…) and the Trojans bury her. And Achilles slays Thersites because he had been insulted by that individual and reviled by him for his alleged love for Penthesileia.

Apollodorus Epitome 5.1: εἴθ᾽ ὕστερον θνήισκει ὑπὸ Ἀχιλλέως, ὅστις μετὰ θάνατον ἐρασθεὶς τῆς Ἀμαζόνος κτείνει Θερσίτην λοιδοροῦντα αὐτόν (Then afterwards Penthesileia is killed by Achilles, and he, after her death, falls in love with the Amazon, and kills Thersites for insulting him).

E. Howald (Der Dichter der Ilias [Zurich 1946] 127) thinks that the tradition of Achilles’ combat with Penthesileia is (in contrast to that of his combat with Memnon) old and early: he compares the exploits of Heracles and Theseus against Amazons. But what of the sequel? In later accounts (most explicitly Quintus Smyrnaeus I 643–674) Achilles kills Penthesileia and then falls in love with her. [

μέγα δ’ ἄχνυτο Πηλέος υἱὸς
κούρης εἰσορόων ἐρατὸν σθένος ἐν κονίηισι·
τοὔνεκά οἱ κραδίην ὀλοαὶ κατέδαπτον ἀνῖαι,
ὁππόσον ἄμφ’ ἑτάροιο πάρος Πατρόκλοιο δαμέντος.

Quintus Smyrnaeus I 718–721

In other words, Achilles’ feelings of pity and love and his killing of Thersites all occur over Penthesileia’s corpse. [
5] {50|51}

Figure 6. Red-figure cup: interior, Achilles kills the Amazon Penthesileia. Attributed to the Penthesileia Painter, ca. 500–450 BCE. Munich, Antikensammlungen 8705. Drawing after A. Fürtwangler and K. Reichhold, Griechische Vasenmalerei: auswahl hervorragender Vasenbilder (Munich 1904), Tafel 6.

The feelings of pity and love may perhaps be implied in the famous vase painting whose artist takes his modern title from the Amazon queen (Munich 2688: ARV 2 879.1 = LIMC I.1, s.v. “Achilleus,” no. 733 = VII.1, s.v. “Penthesileia,” no. 34: see Figure 6). Here the glances exchanged by the Greek warrior and the dying Amazon have been interpreted as indicative of nascent love between Achilles and Penthesileia (so e.g. Rzach 1922:2397.42–58; Ed. Fraenkel, Due seminari romani [Sussidi Eruditi 28 (1977)] 68). Against this we must set the skepticism of Bothmer (Amazons in Greek Art, 148: “he has put much intensity into the faces, but who is to say whether the expressions reflect love or hate, remorse or reproach, or other emotions?”) and his even more stern reminder (147) that the specifying of {51|52} the Amazon as Penthesileia and the Greek as Achilles lacks any actual evidence. But the analogous instances of “intensive Blickbeziehung” which U. Hausmann cites (“Antikentausch Louvre-Tübingen,” Archäologischer Anzeiger 80 [1965]: 162) from probable depictions of the same scene favor the traditional view.

Severyns (1925:159) makes the ingenious suggestion that the apparently humane and chivalrous attitude which the Aethiopis s Achilles displayed towards {52|53} his fallen enemy represents a development of the more courteous and sympathetic facets of the hero’s character as brought out in his encounter with Priam in the last book of the Iliad. Cf. E. Christian Kopff’s comparable hypothesis in ANRW II.31.2:93 and then in The Greek Renaissance of the Eighth Century B.C.: Tradition and Innovation (Stockholm 1983) 60–61.

καὶ Ἀχιλλεὺς Θερσίτην ἀναιρεῖ … καὶ ἐκ τούτου στάσις γίνεται τοῖς Ἀχαιοῖς περὶ τοῦ Θερσίτου φόνου.
(Achilles slays Thersites…) and after this act, a dispute arises among the Greeks, concerning the killing of Thersites.

On the general phenomenon of Thersites see H. Usener, “Der Stoff des griechischen Epos,” Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Philosophisch-Historische Classe 137 (1897): 42–63 = Kleine Schriften (Leipzig 1912–1913) 4.239–259; H. D. Rankin, “Thersites the Malcontent: A Discussion,” Symbolae Osloenses 47 (1972): 36–70. On the specific question of the relationship between the scenes in the Iliad and the Aethiopis in which Thersites featured see W. Kullmann, “Die Probe des Achaierheeres in der Ilias,” Museum Helveticum 12 (1955): 253–273 = Homerische Motive, 38–63; Ø. Andersen, “Thersites und Thoas vor Troia,” Symbolae Osloenses 57 (1982): 19–34.

It has long been recognized that the events described in Iliad II 212–277 bear a close resemblance to what may be inferred from the present part of Proclus’ summary. In both, Thersites rails against a Greek leader and is punished by a blow. This blow, of course, is fatal only in the case of the Aethiopis episode: does this entail that the motifs are “primary” in that epic? Several scholars have assumed so, Kullmann in particular. His argument is more specific than most, since he believes that Thersites’ speech at 225–242 derives closely from the parallel scene in the Aethiopis, where the charge πλεῖαί τοι χαλκοῦ κλισίαι, πολλαὶ δὲ γυναῖκες | εἰσὶν ἐνὶ κλισίηις ἐξαίρετοι κτλ. will have been leveled by the malcontent against Achilles. This last supposition is most unlikely, since for many years it has been clear that the immediate inspiration for this particular speech lies much closer to hand, in book I of the Iliad itself. Thersites’ harangue “apes,” as it were, Achilles’ complaints against Agamemnon in Iliad I 149–171 (see especially D. Lohmann, Die Komposition der Reden in der Ilias [Berlin 1970] 175–178: cf. Andersen 1978:25–26).

May the more general hypothesis of Iliadic dependence upon the Aethiopis still stand? It is true that the latter poem employs the motifs in a more “tragic” manner (at least as far as Thersites is concerned) and in a simpler fashion (Thersites is punished by the hero against whom he rails: in the Iliad Odysseus {53|54} beats him for blackguarding Agamemnon). But as we saw above in the context of a more general discussion (page 10), and as Andersen shows here in great detail (1978:23–24), the presence of elaboration and the absence of “tragic” consequences are no infallible indexes of derivative status. Even the reference to Achilles in Iliad II 220 (ἔχθιστoς δ’ Ἀχιλῆϊ μάλιστ’ ἦν [scil. Θερσίτης] ἠδ’ Ὀδυσῆϊ) need not be the telltale vestige of the story’s original form it is so often assumed to be: ὁ γὰρ τοῖς ἀρίστοις ἔχθιστος χείριστος, as Eustathius 204.38 (1.312 Van der Valk) saw: [9] this obvious antithesis tells us nothing. If Thersites were “ein sprechender Name” (“the valiant one”) interpreted κατ’ ἀντίφρασιν (see Andersen 1978:25 and 33n48), his presence at Troy might perhaps be an Homeric invention. But there is no need for such an interpretation of κατ’ ἀντίφρασιν: see H. von Kamptz, Homerische Personennamen: Sprachwissenschaftliche und historische Klassifikation (Göttingen 1982) 236 for the name as probably deriving from θράσος (pejoratively meant).

There are indeed differences between the Iliadic and the Aethiopis’s scenes which cannot be explained in terms of their interdependence. Thersites is introduced at Iliad II 212–221 without mention of father or birthplace—a sure sign of his low origin (cf. Σ bT ad loc. [1.228 Erbse]: εὖ δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἀπὸ πατρὸς αὐτὸν συνέστησεν, οὐδ’ ἀπὸ πατρίδος, ἀλλ’ ἀπὸ τοῦ τρόπου μόνου καὶ τῆς μορφής). His unpopularity with the Greek army is indicated by the general contentment induced by the drubbing Odysseus administers (274–275: νῦν δὲ τόδε μέγ’ ἄριστον ἐν Ἀργείοισιν ἔρεξεν, | ὅς τὸν λωβητῆρα ἐπεσβόλον ἔσχ’ ἀγοράων). Yet in the Aethiopis, we are assured, his death caused an uproar. It is hard not to associate this otherwise inexplicable fact with the un-Homeric tradition of an Aetolian Thersites of noble birth, son of Oineus’ brother Agrius and kinsman of Diomedes: cf. Σ Α Iliad II 212: Οἰνεὺς καὶ Ἄγριος ἀδελφοί ὡς λέγει ὁ ποιητὴς ἐν τῆι Θ. ἀλλ’ ὁ μὲν Οἰνεὺς ἦν πατὴρ Μελεάγρου, ὁ δὲ Ἄγριος Θερσίτου, μήτηρ δὲ Θερσίτου Δῖα; Σ bT: Ἀγρίου δὲ καὶ Δίας τῆς Πορθάονος αὐτὸν φασιν. εἴ δὲ συγγενὴς ἦν Διομήδους, οὐκ ἂν αὐτὸν ἔπληξεν Ὀδυσσεὺς· τοὺς γὰρ ἰδιώτας μόνον ἔτυπτεν; Eustathius 204.6–8 (1.311 Van der Valk), etc.

A more specific account of what Proclus calls a στάσις is given by Quintus Smyrnaeus I 767–771, where Diomedes, alone of the Greeks, is incensed at the killing of his kinsman. This has been taken to derive from the Aethiopis by, for instance, Kullmann (1960:86) and Vian ad loc. (i.42n1), but the difficulties of reconciling this picture with the wider implications of an Aetolian Thersites {54|55} (as one of the sons of Agrius who first imprison and then kill Diomedes’ father Oeneus: cf. Apollodorus Epitome 1.8.6) are well conveyed by Andersen (1982:19–20; cf. 1978:20). [10] The notion that the Aethiopis involved Diomedes in this way or that it indulged in any great detail over the Aetolian background is very uncertain. There are, indeed, other details within the outline provided by Proclus’ summary which we are quite unable to fill in from later accounts in literature or art (on the latter see LIMC I.1, s.v. “Achilleus,” 171–172). Was Thersites, if not the unpopular misfit of Homeric fame, at least as misshapen? [11] How exactly was he killed by Achilles? Quintus of Smyrna has him dispatched by an exceptionally severe boxing of the ear (I 742–747). [12] The Capitoline Tabula (see page 98 below) seems to show Achilles brandishing a weapon against Thersites. A normal weapon finishes him off in other authors (cf. Vian’s Budé text of Quintus Smyrnaeus i.164), and the famous red-figure Apulian vase now in Boston (03.804: Red-Figured Vases of Apulia II.113 [no. 17/75] = LIMC I.1, s.v. “Achilleus,” no. 794) depicts the beheaded corpse of Thersites. Attempts to decide priority between these versions are inconclusive (the former derivative and presupposing the Iliadic drubbing: J. Ebert, “Die Gestalt des Thersites in der Ilias,” Philologus 113 (1969): 169n6; the weapon a “secondary normalisation”: Andersen 1982:33n45). That the Capitoline Tabula Iliaca perhaps shows Thersites killed at the tomb of Penthesileia is doubtless artist’s shorthand; the building in front of which Thersites lies on the Boston vase mentioned above is merely one of a number of problems posed by that artifact. [13] {55|56}

μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα Ἀχιλλεὺς εἰς Λέσβον πλεῖ, καὶ θύσας Ἀπόλλωνι, καὶ Ἀρτέμιδι, καὶ Λητοῖ καθαίρεται τοῦ φόνου ὑπ’ Ὀδυσσέως.
And after this, Achilles sails to Lesbos, and, after sacrificing to Apollo and Artemis and Leto, is purified by Odysseus from his act of murder.

This scene has long been regarded as an important stage in the development of Greek ideas concerning pollution and purification, concepts which are so conspicuous by their near absence from Homer’s poems, [
14] and so predominant in other early epics (see the list of relevant passages in Lloyd-Jones, The Justice of Zeus [Berkeley 1971] 73) and later literature. Since Rohde (1886.1:272 = 180 [Engl. transl.]), we have come to see that the issue is far more complex than was once supposed, and that such crucial notions as καθάρσις or μίασμα are unlikely to have sprung up overnight in an interval between Homer and the Aethiopis. Indeed, passages like Iliad I 314 (the Greeks after the plague ἀπελυμαίνοντο καὶ εἰς ἅλα λύματα βάλλον) and Odyssey xxii 480–484 (the use of brimstone to purify the hall after the slaying of the suitors) provide prima facie evidence that Homer was acquainted with purifications that “are thought of as cathartic in the magical sense” (to quote E. R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational [Berkeley 1951] 54n39). So instead of treating literature as a direct and simple reflection of contemporary beliefs and attitudes, we should learn to appreciate that poems are works of art with their own sophisticated inhibitions and rules as to which portions of reality to include and omit. This has nowhere been perceived more clearly than in the book of Lloyd-Jones cited above, which contains an excellent discussion of the significance of pollution and purification in archaic Greek literature (together with a full evaluation of previous scholars’ treatments). Note in particular its insistence that

we should surely expect the belief in pollution to be something ancient, something far older than any extant literature, older perhaps than any literature whatever. … Can it be that the notions of pollution and purification play a minor part in Homer not because they were unimportant in the early period, but because the epic poets did not choose to allow them any prominent place in the world depicted in their poems? … The Iliad and Odyssey are not literal reproductions of life but works of poetic fiction, whose authors were at liberty to give or refuse prominence to any belief or practice according to their pleasure. The dark, {56|57} the daemonic, the numinous side of religion is on any view surprisingly absent from the Homeric poems.


See further R. Parker, Miasma: Pollution and Purification in Early Greece (Oxford 1983) 138 and 131n102 on our passage’s importance as a document for these ideas.

“It was probably as the sister of Apollo that Artemis became a goddess of purification,” as Farnell (2:467) observes, citing the very passage under discussion. She often heals victims of madness: see J. Mannes, Der Wahnsinn im griechischen Mythos und in der Dichtung bis zum Drama des fünften Jahrhunderts (Heidelberg 1970) 42–43; H. Lloyd-Jones, “Artemis and Iphigeneia,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 103 (1983): 96–97 = Academic Papers [II], 321–322. For further light on her appearance here we may note the stress upon the purity of Artemis in such contexts as Euripides Hippolytus 73–81 and 1437–1439 or in Iphigenia in Tauris 380–384. But as with her brother, there is no other direct evidence for her connection with purification from murder. Analogies with this connection may perhaps reside in her curing of the Proetids in Bacchylides 11.85–103 (a deed that is certainly presented as an act of purification on the Canicattini crater [Syracuse 47038: LIMC VII.1, B5 (p. 524): cf. G. Schneider-Herrmann, “Das Geheimnis der Artemis in Etrurien,” Antike Kunst 13 (1970): 59–60 and plate 30.2]). One should also remember that Pherecydes FGrHist 3 F135a locates Orestes’ return to sanity in a temple of Artemis (ὁ δὲ καταφεύγει εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν τῆς Ἀρτέμιδος καὶ ἵζει ἱκέτης πρὸς τῶι βωμῶι. αἱ δὲ Ἐρινύες ἔρχονται ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν θέλουσαι ἀπονκτεῖναι, καὶ ἐρύκει αὐτάς ἡ Ἄρτεμις).

Much of what appears above as puzzling would be far less so if there were an important cult of Apollo, Artemis, and Leto on Lesbos at the time of the Aethiopis’s composition. On Apollo’s importance on Lesbos see Farnell, Cults of {57|58} the Greek States 4:162–163. On Alcaeus’ hymns to Apollo and Artemis see Page, Sappho and Alcaeus: An Introduction to the Study of Ancient Lesbian Poetry (Oxford 1955) 244–252 and 261–265. For Achilles and Lesbos see West 2013:143.

Odysseus’ task as purifier is interesting: his position within the Aethiopis’s voyage to Lesbos has reminded some scholars of his function in the visit to Chryse in Iliad I 308–311 and 430–445, and Kullmann (1960:101) characteristically sees the latter epic as specifically copying the former. It is perhaps more to the point to speak in terms of Odysseus’ tendency in epic to occupy the important role of resolver of threatening strife.


Μέμνων δὲ ὁ Ἠoῦς υἱὸς ἔχων ἡφαιστότευκτον πανοπλίαν παραγίνεται τοῖς Τρωσὶ βοηθήσων.
And Memnon, the son of the Dawn goddess, arrives on the scene with armor fashioned by Hephaestus, intent on helping the Trojans.

The marriage of Eos and Tithonus is implied by the Homeric formula Ἠώς δ’ ἐκ λεχέων παρ’ ἀγαυοῦ Τιθωνοῖο | ὄρνυθ’ ἵν’ ἀθανάτοισι φόως φέροι ἠδὲ βροτοῖσι (Iliad XI 1–2 = Odyssey v 1–2). But the notion of immortality freely (if disastrously) bestowable upon humans which the story as a whole entails is so alien to Homer’s outlook (see Griffin 1977:42 = Oxford Readings in Homer’s Iliad [Oxford 2001] 372) that no more is said of Memnon’s father in Iliad or Odyssey (except for the appearance of his name in the list of Priam’s brothers at Iliad XX 237), and the earliest attested mention of Tithonus’ unfortunate form of immortality is at Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 218 (on which see Faulkener ad loc. and index s.v.; J. Th. Kakridis, “Die Pelopssage bei Pindar,” Philologus 85 [1930]: 463–477 = Μελέτες καὶ Ἄρθρα, ed. Polites [Athens 1971] 55–68 = Pindaros und Bakchylides (Wege der Forschung 134 [1970]) 175; and F. Preisshofen, Untersuchungen zur Darstellung des Greisenalters in der frühgriechischen Dichtung [Hermes Einzelschriften 34 (1977)] 13–20). On Tithonus in general see J. Kakridis, “Tithonus,” Wiener Studien 48 (1930): 25–38; Cook, Zeus: A Study in Ancent Religion (Cambridge 1940) 3.24; R. G. M. Nisbet and M. Hubbard, A Commentary on Horace Odes Book 1 (Oxford 1969) 326–327; and D. D. Boedeker, Aphrodite’s Entry into Greek Epic (Mnemosyne Suppl. 32 [1974]) 95. {58|59}

Apart from the reference to Antilochus’ death at Odyssey iv 186–189 (see page 61 below), Memnon himself is mentioned in Odyssey xi 522, where Odysseus reassures the spirit of Achilles that his son Neoptolemus was a great warrior in all respects: κεῖνον δὴ κάλλιστον ἴδον μετὰ Μέμνονα δῖον (Memnon’s beauty [17] was inherited from both father [cf. Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 225; Tyrtaeus fr. 12.5W; etc.] and mother [who is καλή in Iliad IX 707 and art generally (page 35n11 above)]). An unreliable source appears to imply that Memnon’s tomb was referred to by “Hesiod” (fr. dub. 353 MW). The single line δουρΐ δὲ ξυστῶι μέμανεν Aἶας αἱμαῆι τε Μέμνων is attributed to Alcman (fr. 68 PMGF), and Simonides is credited with a dithyramb entitled “Μέμνων” (539 P). Pindar mentions him several times (Pythian VI 32; Nemean III 63, 6.50; Isthmian V 41, 8.54). The school of Neonalysis naturally presumes that the poet of the Iliad knew about Memnon. This may be right, but Kullmann (Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeiger 217 [1965]: 26 = Homerische Motive, 187) clearly goes too far when he argues that the figure of Phaenops (Iliad V 152–158), a father beset by old age who is not able to welcome his sons back from the war because they are slain at Troy, is modeled on the relationship of Tithonus to Memnon. The motif of “the bereaved father is a dominant figure in the Iliadic plot from Chryses to Priam,” as Griffin (“Homeric Pathos and Objectivity,” Classical Quarterly 26 [1976]: 174 = 1980:123) observed.

On the origins of the story of Memnon see E. Howald, Der Dichter der Ilias (Zurich 1946) 127, 140–141; M. Janda, Elysion: Entstehung und Entwicklung der {59|60} griechischen Religion (Innsbruck 2005) 128–142. In the present context he was clearly intended as Achilles’ foil: both heroes have a goddess as mother, and both wear armor forged by Hephaestus; [19] the death of each is closely linked with that of the other; and both are granted immortality. [20] See further Boedeker, Aphrodite’s Entry into Greek Epic, 82, where she stresses that “the Iliad passage is not necessarily the most archaic context” (84) of the motif whereby solicitous mother procures divine armor for heroic son. For other objects belonging or bequeathed to heroes and fabricated by Hephaestus see Cypria F3 and my note ad loc. For the mother fetching armor for a heroic son as a folk-tale motif, see my article, “The Hero and His Arms,” Greece and Rome 54 (2007): 145–150. Proclus’ mention of Memnon’s ἡφαιστότευκτος πανοπλία convinced Welcker (2:173) that this hero’s divine armor had been accorded the same full description as Achilles’ in Iliad XVIII 478–608. Welcker’s guess has been accepted by numerous other scholars, [21] most notably Ed. Fraenkel (in his important article “Vergil und die Aethiopis,” Philologus 87 [1932]: 242 = Kleine Beiträge 2.173), who supported it by adducing the evidence of Aeneid VIII 383–384 (Venus’ words to Vulcan): te filia Nerei | te potuit lacrimis Tithonia flectere coniunx, a passage which may imply for the Aethiopis a scene similar to Iliad XVIII 457–461. The Aeneid suggests considerable interest in Memnon’s armor; the frieze in the temple of Juno displays Eoasque acies et nigri Memnonis arma (I 489), while Dido questions Aeneas at I 751 as to quibus Aurorae venisset filius armis. Visual art did not fail to rise to the challenge: thus an elaborately armored Memnon occurs on a neck-amphora by Exekias (London B209: ABV 144.8 = LIMC VI.1, s.v. “Memnon,” 5) with an Ethiopian attendant on either side, one holding a club and the other a shield.

καὶ Θέτις τῶι παιδὶ τὰ κατά τὸν Μέμνονα προλέγει.
Thetis tells her son [Achilles] the future as regards events relating to Memnon.

In the Iliad, Thetis is frequently conceived as warning her son of his future fate: most clearly in Iliad XVIII 94–96: τὸν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπε Θέτις κατὰ δάκρυ χέουσα·| “ὠκύμορος δή μοι, τέκος, ἔσσεαι, οἷ᾽ ἀγορεύεις·| αὐτίκα γάρ τοι ἔπειτα μεθ’ Ἕκτορα πότμος ἑτοῖμος.” Achilles himself gives a slightly differing account of his mother’s prophecy in IX 410–416:

μήτηρ γάρ τέ μέ φησὶ θεὰ Θέτις ἀργυρόπεζα
διχθαδίας κῆρας φερέμεν θανάτοιο τέλοσδε.
εἰ μέν κ᾽ αὖθι μένων Τρώων πόλιν ἀμφιμάχωμαι {60|61}
ὤλετο μέν μοι νόστος, ἀτὰρ κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται·
εἴ δέ κεν οἴκαδ᾽ ἵκωμι φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν,
ὤλετο μοι κλέος ἐσθλὸν ἐπὶ δηρὸν δέ μοι αἰὼν
ἔσσεται, οὐδέ κέ μ’ ὦκα τέλος θανάτοιο κιχείη.

The other Greeks are aware of Thetis’ role: Nestor in XI 794–795 raises the possibility that Achilles’ refusal to fight is based on some such admonition from his mother (εἴ δέ τινα φρεσὶν ἧισι θεοπροπίην ἀλεείνει | καί τινά οἱ πὰρ Ζηνὸς ἐπέφραδε πότνια μήτηρ … ), and Patroclus (to whom Nestor addresses these words) repeats them almost verbatim to Achilles at XVI 36–37.

Accepted by numerous scholars (e.g. Knauer, Die Aeneis und Homer : Studien zur poetischen Technik Vergils [Hypomnemata 7 (1964)] 282–283; A. M. Assereto, “Dall’ Etiopide all’ Eneide,” in Mythos [Untersteiner Festschrift (Genova 1970)] 54–55), Eduard Fraenkel’s thesis has been taken a stage further by G. R. Manton, in “Virgil and the Greek Epic: The Tragedy of Evander,” Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association 17 (1962): 11–13 and 14. As he notes, Evander’s speech of farewell to his son Pallas at Aeneid VIII 560 reminds us of the Iliadic Nestor (esp. 560 o … referat si Iuppiter annosIliad VII 132–133: αἲ γάρ, Ζεῦ τε πάτερ καὶ Ἀθηναίη καὶ Ἄπολλον | ἡβῶιμ᾽ and cf. Iliad VII 157, XI 670–676). But perhaps Vergil’s actual model was the Nestor of the Aethiopis, and Pallas’ fate is colored by Antilochus’. The paradoxical reversal of normality whereby the hero lives long enough into old age to see his son’s funeral is endured by both Nestor and Evander: but it is Nestor who is a paradigm for the futility of long life in such circumstances, [24] as represented by Latin poets like Horace Odes II 9.13–15, Propertius II 13.49–50, Juvenal X 246–255, and Ausonius Opuscula VI 7.4–5. Of the second and third of these passages Allen (in his Oxford text of the Greek Epic Cycle, 127) comments: “haec ex Arctino, seu recta seu obliqua via, videntur provenisse,” and Manton (16) is more confident and positive that their source was the Aethiopis. [25] He also suggests that Vergil’s depiction of the death of Turnus at the hands of a vengeful Aeneas is based on the Aethiopis’s presentation of the death of Memnon. Manton’s views are accepted by Kopff in his examination of Vergil’s use of the Epic Cycle (ANRW II.31.2:936).

Davies 2 fig6

Figure 7. “Bilingual” cup: Side B, Nestor’s farewell to Antilochus (red-figure). Attributed to Oltos, ca. 460 BCE. Museo Gregoriano Etrusco Vaticano, Astarita Collection; formerly AST763, now 35728. Drawing by Valerie Woelfel.

The evidence of art may be able to fill in a detail concerning Nestor’s farewell to his son in the Aethiopis. Kossatz-Deissmann examined (1981; cf. LIMC I.1, s.v. “Antilochus,” 831–832) fifteen or so red- and black-figure amphoras of the late archaic age which display a remarkably consistent schema, depicting an armed hoplite warrior inspecting, before he departs for battle, a liver held out to him by a παῖς, to the left of whom stands an old man with white beard, ἱμάτιον, and staff. One specimen (a cup by Oltos ca. 510: Vatican [Astarita Coll.]: ARV  2 1623.64 = LIMC I.1, s.v. “Antilochus,” no. 6: see Figure 7) labels the old man as Nestor, thereby allowing us to identify the group as a whole as Antilochus’ {62|63} hieroscopy, or more precisely hepatoscopy, before a battle at Troy. [26] Since this practice (on which see the bibliography adduced by Kossatz-Deissmann [1981:567n7] and [specifically on wartime hepatoscopy] W. K. Pritchett, The Greek State at War 3 [Berkeley 1979] 74–75) is absent from Homeric epic, Kossatz-Deissmann concludes (567 and 571) that the source for these vases’ scene is not an epic, or at least not directly: rather, the schema represents an adjustment, to fit contemporary sixth-century practices, of what was originally an omen of a different type. This latter hypothesis may conceivably be right: such adjustments are not unknown in vase paintings of other scenes from epic (as witness {63|64} those depictions of Priam’s visit to Achilles’ hut which represent the latter as reclining on a couch while Homer has him seated). Nor would it be difficult to devise an omen which might have stood in the original source: compare the premonitory gloom which surrounds Evander’s promise of Pallas’ participation in war at Vergil Aeneid VIII 521–522 (see P. T. Eden, A Commentary on the Aeneid: Book VIII [Leiden 1975] ad loc.; on Antilochus as one of the literary models for Pallas see page 62 above).

The link between vase and epic may, in this case, be rather closer than assumed.

καὶ συμβολῆς γενομένης Ἀντίλοχος ὑπὸ Μέμνονος ἀναιρεῖται.
A battle takes place and Antilochus is slain by Memnon.

Tabula Veronensis II: Μέμνων Ἀντίλοχον ἀποκτείνει.

The earliest as well as the fullest extant literary account of the action here occurs in Pindar Pythian VI 28–42, where Nestor’s son is cited as a paradigm of filial piety:

ἔγεντο καὶ πρότερον Ἀντίλοχος βιατὰς
νόημα τοῦτο φέρων,
ὃς ὑπερέφθιτο πατρός, ἐναρίμβροτον 30
ἀναμείναις στράταρχον Αἰθιόπων
Μέμνονα. Νεστόρειον γὰρ ἵππος ἅρμ᾽ ἐπέδα
Πάριος ἐκ βελέων δαϊχθείς· ὁ δ᾽ ἔφεπεν
κραταιὸν ἔγχος·
Μεσσανίου δὲ γέροντος
δονηθεῖσα φρὴν βόασε παῖδα ὅν· {64|65}
χαμαιπετὲς δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἔπος οὐκ ἀπέριψεν· αὐτοῦ
μένων δ᾽ ὁ θεῖος ἀνὴρ
πρίατο μὲν θανάτοιο κομιδὰν πατρός,
ἐδόκησέν τε τῶν πάλαι γενεᾶι 40
ὁπλοτέροισιν, ἔργον πελώριον τελέσαις,
ὕπατος ἀμφὶ τοκεῦσιν ἔμμεν πρὸς ἀρετάν.

In view of the numerous later references to the tradition (listed by Willcock [1983:487n7]), the story is unlikely to be a Pindaric invention.

Fraenkel (“Vergil und die Aethiopis,” 245–256 = Kleine Beiträge 2.176–177) has confirmed the plausibility of the Aethiopis as source against the contrary suggestion of Wilamowitz (Homerische Untersuchungen [Berlin 1884] 154, 1916:45; see further Fraenkel 245 = 176n2) that the Ilias Parva provided Pindar with his inspiration here. Although numerous scholars accepted Wilamowitz’s idea (bibliography in Fraenkel 245 = 176n3), it is based on a misunderstanding of Ilias Parva F5 (see my note ad loc., in my forthcoming commentary) and may safely be rejected.

ἔπειτα Ἀχιλλεὺς Μέμνονα κτείνει, καὶ τούτωι μὲν ’Ηὼς παρὰ Διὸς αἰτη-σαμένη ἀθανασίαν δίδωσι.
Then Achilles kills Memnon. And the Dawn goddess requests immortality for her son from Zeus and bestows it upon him.

Tabula Veronensis II: Ἀχιλλεὺς Μέμνονα ἀποκτείνει. {65|66}

I have discussed most of the implications of this passage above in connection with the evidence of art and the series of parallels between Achilles and Mem-non (pages 31–34). Here it will be enough to refer to J. Th. Kakridis’s theory (“Tithonus,” Wiener Studien 48 [1930]: 36–37) that the present episode’s successful plea for immortality is primary in comparison with, and indeed the inspiration of, Eos’ bungled attempt at immortality (without everlasting youth) for Memnon’s father, Tithonus. We have already seen good cause to doubt the principle that underlies such an approach (page 6 above). Besides, a botched attempt at immortality would seem to be a folk-tale motif in its own right; see my discussion of the contrasting fortunes of Tydeus and his son Diomedes in connection with Thebais F5 (The Theban Epics [Washington, DC, 2014] 81). In both cases, the hypothesis of a transference of the immortality motif from father to son can by no means be excluded.


τρέψαμενος δ’ Ἀχιλλεύς τοὺς Τρῶας καὶ εἰς τὴν πόλιν συνεισπεσὼν ὑπὸ Πάριδος ἀναιρείται καὶ Ἀπόλλωνος.
Achilles, pursuing the routed Trojans even into the city, is slain by Paris and Apollo.

Tabula Veronensis II: ἐν ταῖς Σκαιαῖς πύλαις Ἀχιλλευ[

Apollodorus Epitome 5.3: Ἀχιλλεύς … πρὸς ταῖς Σκαιαῖς πύλαις τοξεύεται ὑπὸ Ἀλεξάνδρου καὶ Ἀπόλλωνος εἰς τὸ σφυρόν (Achilles is shot at the Scaean Gates by Apollo and Paris, in the heel).

The Scaean Gates are already the witnesses of Achilles’ death in Iliad XXII 359–360, where Hector’s dying and prophetic words warn of the day

ὅτε κέν σε Πάρις καὶ Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων
ἐσθλὸν ἐόντ’ ὀλέσωσιν ἐνὶ Σκαιῆισι πύληισιν.

Vian (Budé text of Quintus Smyrnaeus i.169) detects a slight inexactitude of phrasing in Proclus’ statement that Achilles had actually entered Troy in pursuit of the fugitive enemy: “en ce cas les Grecs auraient eu beaucoup plus de peine pour ramener la dépouillé d’Achille.” Perhaps the statement derives from a misunderstanding of the idiom in a phrase such as ἐν Τροίαι or ἐν πόλει, meaning “at Troy, at the city” (see W. S. Barrett, Greek Lyric, Tragedy, and Textual Criticism: Collected Papers, ed. M. L. West [Oxford 2007] 331–332).

At first sight the sources at our disposal seem to differ over the exact responsibility for Achilles’ death. Apollo as the sole author is named by Homer (Iliad XXI 277–283), Simonides fr.8.11 W, Aeschylus fr. 350 Radt, Sophocles Philoctetes {66|67} 334, Horace Odes IV 6.1, and Quintus Smyrnaeus III 60–63; Paris is given responsibility by Euripides Andromache 655, Hecuba 387, Plutarch Quaestiones Conviviales IX 13.2 Comparison of Lysander and Sulla 4; the two act together not only in the passages now under scrutiny but at Iliad XIX 409–414 and XXII 350–354, and a still more specific account wherein Apollo guides Paris’ hand may be found at Vergil Aeneid VI 56–58 and Ovid Metamorphoses XII 597–606.

As shown by Davies and Finglass on Stesichorus fr. 96, the apparent discrepancies between these three groups are of no great significance and they may all be conveying the same basic information: Apollo inspired and helped Paris to slay Achilles. Even the tradition that Apollo disguised himself as Paris all the better to shoot down his victim (Pindar Paean VI 79–80 [cf. Radt ad loc. (p. 142)] and Hyginus Fabulae 107) need be no more than a further way of symbolizing this. Apollo is shown guiding Paris’ arrow against Achilles’ heel on a little-published Attic red-figure vase dating to ca. 460 (Bochum, Ruhr-Universität S1060: cf. LIMC I.1, s.v. “Achilleus,” no. 851 = s.v . “Alexandros,” no. 92). This is, of course, precisely the sort of choice a visual depiction has to make. I still believe, therefore, that Robert’s distinction (Heldensage 1187; cf. Kakridis 1949:87n40)—which isolates Apollo’s guidance of Paris’ hand (Vergil and Ovid as cited) as preserving what is actually the earlier tradition—is basically misleading, for all that it has been accepted by numerous scholars (e.g. R. Hampe in Hampe–Simon, Griechische Sagen in der frühen etruskischen Kunst [Mainz 1964] 48).

Did the Aethiopis also attribute Achilles’ death to the one vulnerable part of his body, the famous heel, or has Apollodorus introduced that familiar motif from the later vulgate? Invulnerability is certainly un-Homeric, as Griffin has reminded us (1977:40 = Oxford Readings in Homer’s Iliad, 368), for it would mitigate and dilute the tragic antithesis of mortals and gods that is so basic to Homer’s epics. It would also diminish the heroic valor of his characters. So Antenor can reassure himself without self-deception when awaiting Achilles’ onslaught at Iliad XXI 568–570:

καὶ γάρ θηv τούτωι, τρωτὸς χρὼς ὀξέϊ χαλχῶι,
ἐν δὲ ἴα ψυχή, θνητὸν δέ ἕ φασ᾽ ἄνθρωποι

Indeed the narrative itself has established Achilles’ vulnerability a few hundred lines earlier back in the same book:

τῶι δ᾽ ἑτέρωι, μιν πῆχυν ἐπιγράβδην βάλε χειρὸς
δεξιτερῆς, σύτο δ’ αἷμα κελαινεφές.

XXI 166–167 {67|68}

Furthermore, Berthold’s claim (37–38) that the motif of invulnerability has been transferred to Achilles from his armor, which was originally (though, again, not in the Iliad) conceived of as impenetrable (cf. Griffin 1977:40 = Oxford Readings in Homer’s Iliad, 368; Ph. J. Kakridis, “Achilles’ Rustung,” Hermes 89 [1961]: 288–297) has very little to recommend it. The exact reverse may have been the case, as is argued by (for instance) E. Drerup, Das Homerproblem in der Gegen-wart: Prinzipien und Methoden der Homererklärung (Würzburg 1921) 231n3. Even Berthold considers this possibility seriously, but rejects it because he can find no convincing evidence for the early existence of the hero’s invulnerability from which the weapon’s magic powers might derive. On the possibility that impenetrable armor and skin amount to the same thing, see Davies, “The Hero and His Arms” (as cited above, page 60), 154.

Figure 8. Chalcidian black-figure amphora: the corpse of Achilles lies on the battlfield, his left ankle pierced by an arrow. Ca. 6th century BCE. Vase is now lost; drawing after R. Hampe and E. Simon, Griechische Sagen in der frühen etruskischen Kunst (Mainz 1964), Abb. 10.

The strongest argument at Berthold’s disposal is that ex silentio. Not so much the absence of any explicit literary reference [30] before the staggeringly late testimony of Statius Achilleid I 269–270 (si progenitum Stygos amne severo | armavi) et al. (see Berthold 35), but the lack of any allusion to Achilles’ invulnerability in the {68|69} Iliadic scholia (contrast the relative profusion of their comments upon Ajax’s very human capacity for wounds in their poem: see pages 84–85 below) and Achilles’ failure to figure along with Caeneus, Cycnus, and Ajax in the fourth-century a.d. Palaephatus’ περὶ ἀπίστων as another invulnerable hero (Festa, Mythographi Graeci 3.2 [Leipzig 1902]) are both disturbing. Berthold may further be right to insist (38) that the silence is not mitigated to any significant degree by the alternative tradition of Thetis’ foiled attempt to achieve immortalization of Achilles by fire. True, this version is found in authors who, if not early in an absolute sense, are at least far earlier than the time of Domitian: Apollonius of Rhodes IV 869–879 is the first of them. But Berthold argues that invulnerability did not originally feature in the tradition here and it seems impossible to disprove him (see Richardson’s commentary on the Homeric Hymn to Demeter pp. 231–232 for a full discussion of the numerous interpretations that have been placed upon this and similar legends). It may be (so Berthold 42) an altogether later importation meant to explain the equally late invulnerability tradition.

This conclusion is supported by examination of the analogous stories of invulnerability that occur throughout the world. Berthold himself mentions several of those (especially from Germany), and there is a useful bibliography of various collections of relevant material in Stith Thompson’s Motif Index 5.Z311 s.v. “Invulnerability except in one spot.” See further K. Ranke in Enzyklopädie des Märchens, 1.59, s.v. “Achillesferse”; M. L. West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth (Ox-ford 2007) 444–446; and P. Thordarson, “Die Ferse des Achilleus: Ein Skythisches Motiv?, Symbolae Osloenses 47 (1972): 109–124, especially 112–115. These esta-blish beyond doubt the primitive and widespread nature of the theme.

An invulnerable Ajax may have featured in the Aethiopis (see page 84 below). The motif was certainly used of him by the time of Aeschylus’ Θρῆισσαι (see page 86 below). Did the ancient world really have to wait until Statius before {70|71} its application to the greater hero occurred to someone? [34] The little-known Hellenistic gold ring (Los Angeles County Museum of Art 61.48.2: LIMC I.1, s.v. “Achilleus,” no. 12) which shows Thetis dipping her son in the Styx finally removes [35] that question from the world of rhetoric.

Apollodorus Epitome 5.4: γενομένης δὲ μάχης περὶ τοῦ νεκροῦ, Αἴας Γλαῦκον ἀναιρεῖ, καὶ τὰ ὅπλα δίδωσιν ἐπὶ τὰς ναῦς κομίζειν, τὸ δὲ σῶμα βαστά-σας Αἴας βαλλόμενος βέλεσι μέσον τῶν πολεμίων διηνέγκεν, Ὀδυσσέως πρὸς τοὺς ἐπιφερομένους μαχομένου (A battle arises over [Achilles’] corpse. Ajax slays Glaucus and gives the weapons [of Achilles] to carry to the ships, and, supporting the corpse, transports it through the midst of the enemy, being pelted with missiles all the while. Odysseus fights off [Trojans] trying to charge).

Wagner (Curae Mythographicae 210–211) supposes that here—as often elsewhere—Apollodorus can be used to supplement a Proclean résumé that in this case becomes so summary at one particular point as to give the wrong impression. The additional details thus supplied concern the following two issues.

(i) Ajax and Glaucus

(ii) The Arms of Achilles

The arms of Achilles are separately sent on ahead to the ships while his corpse is fought over. This separation of the armor from the corpse has an analogy of sorts in Iliad XVII 125–127, where, in spite of the earlier statement (at Iliad XVI 791–796) to the effect that Apollo had struck off the helmet, shield, and breastplate from his helpless victim, Hector is now described as stripping the dead Patroclus of his armor and then retreating before the advance of Ajax. He hands over the armor to fellow Trojans for them to carry it back to Troy; but after the scene outlined above he catches them up and dons the armor himself (189–192). Achilles’ corpse is regularly depicted naked (cf. LIMC I.1, s.v. “Achilleus,” no. 192) in art.

Severyns (1928:322) supposes that our epic’s depiction of Achilles’ death “n’était point sans beauté ni sans grandeur” and adds that its presentation of the struggle over Achilles’ corpse is “la partie qui devait être la plus belle et la plus émouvante de l’Éthiopide” (320). One would certainly like to think so.

καὶ Θέτις ἀφικομένη σὺν Moύσαις καὶ ταῖς ἀδελφαῖς θρηνεῖ τὸν παῖδα.
Thetis arrives with the Muses and her sisters [the Nereids] and laments over her son.

The Capitoline Tabula Iliaca (see page 98 below) shows Thetis and a single Muse at an altar to which they may be bringing offerings. A further incompletely {73|74} preserved female figure at the right may represent a Nereid. It is likely that the fallen body visible behind the Muse is meant as Achilles. A similar account of events leading up to Achilles’ funeral is contained within the notorious “Second Νέκυια.”

At Odyssey xxiv 42–97 Agamemnon finds it mysteriously appropriate to en-lighten Achilles as to events ten years past. After his death in battle the latter was placed on a pyre and washed and anointed. The Greeks wept over him and cut their tresses. And then (47–49)

μήτηρ δ’ ἐξ ἁλὸς ἦλθε σὺν ἀθανάτηις ἁλίηισιν
ἀγγελίης ἀΐουσα· βοή δ’ ἐπί πόντον ὀρώρει
θεσπεσίη, ὑπό δὲ τρόμος ἔλλαβε πάντας Ἀχαίους.

The nature and source of line 48’s ἀγγελίη is a great mystery, but the ἀθάναται ἁλίαι mentioned in xxiv 47 and 55 are clearly Thetis’ sisters the Nereids, the κοῦραι ἁλίοιο γερόντος of line 58.

A well-timed speech from Nestor (51–56) checks the panic referred to above. After this (58–61):

ἀμφὶ δέ σ’ ἔστησαν κοῦραι ἁλίοιο γερόντος
οἴκτρ’ ὀλοφυρόμεναι, περί δ᾽ ἄμβροτα εἵματα ἕσσαν,
Μοῦσαι δ’ ἐννέα πᾶσαι ἀμειβομέναι ὀπὶ καλῆι

The similarity cannot be denied: how is it to be explained? Are the Odyssean lines indebted to the Aethiopis (so, for instance P. Von der Mühll, RE 7 [1940]: 765.16 = Ausgewählte kleine Schriften [Basel 1975] 117) or vice versa (F. Blass, Die Interpolationen in der Odyssee [Berlin 1904] 285)?

As commentators (e.g. Ameis–Hentze–Cauer ad loc.) observe, the passages in Odyssey and Aethiopis recall the lamentation in Iliad XXIV 718–776, with the Muses taking the role of the Iliad’s ἀοιδοί who are θρήνων ἔξαρχοι (720–721). Thetis’ sisters, as kinswomen of Achilles, occupy the position of Andromache, Hecuba, and Helen, who are contrasted with the singers at line 722:

οἱ μὲν δὴ θρήνεον, ἐπί σε στενάχοντο γυναῖκες.

For a detailed account of the mechanics of such a θρῆνος, see M. Alexiou, The Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition (Cambridge 1974). Note the evidence of Philostratus On {74|75} Heroes 51.7 (p. 65 de Lannoy): ἀποθανόντα Ἀχιλλέα Moῦσαι μὲν ὠιδαῖς ἐθρή-νησαν, Νηρηΐδες δὲ πληγαῖς τῶν στέρνων.

The Muses’ lament over Achilles’ body is glancingly mentioned by Pindar Isthmian VIII 57–58:

ἀλλά oἱ παρά τε πυρὰν τάφον θ’ Ἑλικώνιαι παρθένοι
στάν, ἐπὶ θρῆνόν τε πολύφαμον ἔχεαν.

From Quintus Smyrnaeus III 594 and Tzetzes Posthomerica 435 we learn the unsurprising news that they arrived from Helicon. That goddesses like the Muses should come to lament over a mortal, even if that mortal be Achilles, is very striking, especially when we remember the usual reluctance of most Greek deities to witness death. (See Barrett on Euripides Hippolytus 1437, esp. the anecdote cited from Aelian fr. 11 in which the Muses quit the house of a dying poet.)

A Muse appears at the end of the Rhesus and tells the dead hero (977) θρήνοις ἀδελφαὶ πρῶτα μὲν σὲ ὑμνήσομεν, but she constitutes a special case because she is Rhesus’ mother. Different again is the point made at Euripides Trojan Women 511: ἀμφί μοι Ἴλιον, ὦ | Μοῦσα, καινῶν ὕμνων | ἄεισον ἐν δακρύοις ὠιδὰν ἐπικήδειον, and in an Attic Scolion (see page 77 below), 880 PMG (of Linus: Μοῦσαι δέ σε θρηνέουσιν), and Naevius fr. 64.1–2 (p. 69 Blänsdorf): inmortales mortales si foret fas flere, | flerent divae Camenae Naevium poetam. Since the Muses appeared at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (so Proclus’ summary of the Cypria) it may have been thought appropriate that they should mourn the death of that union’s offspring. Both features seem alien to the Homeric poems, where the barriers between mortal and divine are scrupulously observed.

On Thetis’ mourning for Achilles in later writers see F. Williams, Callimachus’ Hymn to Apollo (Oxford 1978) 31. On Nereids as mourners see A. Nock, Essays on Religion and the Ancient World (Oxford 1972) 2:925, J. M. Barringer, Divine Escorts: Nereids in Archaic and Classical Greek Art (Michigan 1995) 49–58.

Both Lament and Funeral Games are closely connected as ways of honoring the dead (cf. K. Meuli, Der griechische Agon: Kampf und Kampfspiel im Totenbrauch, Totentanz, Totenklage und Totenlob [Cologne 1968] 82), and it is interesting to see that the latter followed the former in the Aethiopis.

Severyns, who had a touching admiration for this totally vanished poem, assures us that the epic’s treatment of Achilles’ funeral must have displayed “une grandeur et une émotion” (1928:322).

καὶ τὸν νεκρὸν τοῦ Ἀχιλλέως προτίθενται.
And they lay out the corpse of Achilles.

For the verb with this meaning see LSJ s.v. προτίθημι II.1. On the mechanics and significance of the whole ritual see the indexes s.v. “prothesis” in Kurtz–Boardman, {75|76} Greek Burial Customs (London 1971) and Alexiou; on the archaeological evidence see also G. Ahlberg, Prothesis and Ekphora in Greek Geometric Art (Göteborg 1971). Cf. Burkert, Griechische Religion der archaischen und klassischen Epoche (Stuttgart 1977) 295–296 = 192 (Engl. transl.).

καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα ἐκ τῆς πυρᾶς ἡ Θέτις ἀναρπάσασα τὸν παῖδα εἰς τὴν Λευκὴν νῆσον διακομίζει.
And after this Thetis snatches up her son from the funeral pyre and carries him across to the island of Leuce,

Robert (Heldensage, 1194) assumes that here Thetis snatched up from the pyre “das unsterbliche Teil ihres Sohnes.” Cf. T. C. W. Stinton, Journal of Hellenic Studies Suppl. 15 (1987) 1–3 = Collected Papers on Greek Tragedy (Oxford 1990) 493–495. Compare the apotheosis of Heracles through the burning of his mortal part (cf. Richardson on Homeric Hymn to Demeter 231–255 [pp. 231–236]). Leuce is briefly alluded to by Euripides Andromache 1260–1262 (Thetis to Peleus): τὸν φίλτατον σοὶ παῖδ᾽ ἐμοί τ᾽ Ἀχιλλέα | ὄψηι δόμους ναίοντα νησιωτικοὺς | Λευκὴν κατ᾽ ἀκτὴν ἐντὸς ἀξένου πόρου. Compare too his Iphigenia in Tauris 435–438 (τὰν πολυόρνιθον ἐπ᾽ αἶ|αν, λευκὰν ἀκτάν, Ἀχιλῆ|ος δρόμους καλλισταδίους, | ἄξεινον κατὰ πόντον) and Pindar Nemean IV 49–50 (ἐν δ᾽ Εὐξείνωι πελάγει φαεννὰν Ἀχιλεὺς | νᾶσον [ἔχει]). For other sources see West 2013:156n43.

On the wider tradition of Achilles’ immortality see H. Hommel, Der Gott Achil-leus (Sitzungsberichte der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften Philosophisch-historische Klasse [1980]); J. Burgess, The Death and Afterlife of Achilles (Baltimore 2009); West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth (Oxford 2007) 349. The Aethiopis is the earliest attested reference to this tradition and its localization at Leuce. On the significance of our passage see especially the comments of Rohde (1886.1:87 = 65 [Engl. transl.]): “the author of the Aethiopis—always remarkable for his bold innovations in the traditional material—here ventures upon an important new touch.” That Thetis restored Achilles to life on Leuce, he proceeds,

and made him immortal the one meagre extract … does not say. But there can be no question that that is what the poet narrated—all later accounts conclude the story in this way. The parallel is clear: the two opponents, Achilles and Memnon, are both set free from the fate of mortals by their goddess-mothers. In bodies once more restored to life they continue to live, not among men, nor yet among the gods, but in a distant wonderland—Memnon in the East, Achilles in the “White Island.” The poet himself can hardly have imagined Achilles’ Island to have been in the Euxine Sea, where, however, later Greek sailors located this purely mythical spot. {76|77}

On Leuce and Achilles’ connection with it see further Rohde 1886:371n2 = 565n101, and Hommel, Der Gott Achilleus, index s.v. “Leuke (Insel),” Burgess Index s.v. Some sort of cult to Achilles on the island is clearly presupposed, and the activities of Milesian colonists in the area of the Black Sea may well (pace Rohde) be a relevant datum when we are considering the interpretation of a poem attributed to the Milesian Arctinus. See further G. Hedreen, “The Cult of Achilles in the Euxine,” Hesperia 60 (1991): 313–330, J. Hupe (ed.), Der Achilleus-Kult im nördlichen Schwarzmeerraum (Rahden 2006).

An alternative (though equally favorable) fate awaits Achilles in those authors who have the hero transported to the Islands of the Blessed, where he dwells among other worthies:

Πηλεύς τε καὶ Κάδμος ἐν τοῖσιν ἀλέγονται·
Ἀχιλλέα τ’ ἔνεικ’, ἐπεὶ Ζηνὸς ἧτορ
λιταῖς ἔπεισε, μάτηρ·
ὃς Ἕκτορα σφᾶλε, Tpoίας
ἄμαχον ἀστραβῆ κίονα, Κύκνον τε θανάτωι πόρεν,
Ἀoῦς τε παῖδ’ Αἰθιόπα.

Pindar Olympian II 78–83

φίλταθ’ ‘Αρμόδι’, οὔ τι πω τέθνηκας
νήσοις δ’ ἐν μακάρων σέ φασιν εἶναι,
ἵνα περ ποδώκης Ἀχιλεύς.

Carmen Conviviale 849.1–3 ΡMG

ὥσπερ Ἀχιλλέα τὸν τῆς Θέτιδος ὑιὸν ἐτίμησαν καὶ εἰς μακάρων νήσους ἀπέπεμψαν.

Plato Symposium 179e

or to the Elysian Plain:

ὅτι δὲ Ἀχιλλεὺς εἰς τὸ ‘Ηλύσιον πεδίον παραγενόμενος ἔγημε Μήδειαν πρῶτος Ἴβυκος [fr. 291 ΡMGF] εἴρηκε, μεθ’ ὂν Σιμωνίδης [fr. 558 Ρ].

Σ Apollonius of Rhodes IV 814–815 (p. 293 Wendel)

On the μακάρων νήσοι: see Rohde (above) and West on Hesiod Works and Days 171. A passage such as Odyssey iv 561–568 reminds us how similar the Elysian Plain was to these. See further Hommel, Der Gott Achilleus, 18–22 and F. Solmsen, “Achilles on the Islands of the Blessed: Pindar vs. Homer and Hesiod,” American Journal of Philology 103 (1982): 19. {77|78}

For the variant whereby Helen becomes Achilles’ wife on Leuce (first attested in Pausanias III 19.13) see Hommel, Der Gott Achilleus, 27.

οἱ δὲ Ἀχαιοὶ τὸν τάφον χώσαντες ἀγῶνα τιθέασι.
And the Greeks pile up Achilles’ funeral mound and carry out the rites.

On the grave mound here erected for Achilles in spite of his body’s translation to Leuce see Rohde 1886.1:87–88n2 = 94n29 (Engl. transl.). He explains it in terms of “a concession to the older narrative (Odyssey xxiv 80–84) which knew nothing of the translation of the body but gives prominence to the grave-mound. Besides which, the tumulus of Achilles—a landmark on the seashore of the Troad—required explanation.” Rhode cites other examples of cenotaphs to “translated” heroes. Compare Davies and Finglass on Stesichorus fr. 178.

Funeral games were a common focus of heroic activity and poetry for the ancients: they are often mentioned in the Iliad (cf. Iliad XI 699). XXII 162–897 τὰ ἄθλα ἐπὶ Πατρόκλωι in Iliad XXIII are perhaps the most famous (see Willcock 1973) and even within these we find references to the further funeral games of Amarynceus (630–643) and Oedipus (679).

Outside Homer the ἄθλα ἐπὶ Πελίαι were particularly popular: see Davies and Finglass, Stesichorus: The Poems 212 and in general L. Malten, “Leichenspiel und Totenkult,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Römische Abteilung 38–39 (1923–1924): 300; K. Meuli, Der griechische Agon: Kampf und Kampfspiel im Totenbrauch, Totentanz, Totenklage und Totenlob (Cologne 1968) 15.

The present funeral games are briefly outlined by Agamemnon to Achilles in Odyssey xxiv 85–92 (see page 74 above):

μήτηρ δ’ αἰτήσασα θεοὺς περικαλλέ’ ἄεθλα 85
θῆκε μέσωι ἐν ἀγώνι ἀριστήεσσιν Ἀχαιῶν.
ἤδη μὲν πολέων τάφωι ἀνδρῶν ἀντεβόλησας
ἡρώων, ὅτε κέν ποτ’ ἀποφθιμένου βασιλῆος
ζώννυνταί τε νέοι. καὶ ἐπεντύνονται ἄεθλα·
ἀλλά κε κεῖνα μάλιστα ἰδὼν θηήσαο θυμῶι, 90
οἷ’ ἐπὶ cοὶ κατέθηκε θεὰ περικαλλέ’ ἄεθλα,
ἀργυρόπεζα Θέτις· μάλα γὰρ φίλος ἦσθα θεοῖσιν.

This tells us little more than that the prizes were fetched by Thetis from the gods, rather like Achilles’ own weapons. Apollodorus Epitome 5.5 adds that the chariot race was won by Eumelus, the foot race by Diomedes, the discus throwing by Ajax, and the archery contest by Teucer. These details too may go back to the Aethiopis, as suggested, for instance, by Vian, Budé text of Quintus Smyrnaeus i.134. Robert (Heldensage 1189n1) observes the general resemblance between {78|79} Apollodorus’ list of events and victors and the Funeral Games for Patroclus in Iliad XXIII, [
43] where, however, Diomedes unexpectedly wins the chariot race in keeping with his importance for the themes of the whole poem (see Andersen 1978:142–144) and, just as unexpectedly, Meriones defeats Teucer in the archery contest. Whether Thetis played any role (cf. Odyssey xxiv 92) in the Aethiopis’ games is unclear. [44]

καὶ περὶ τῶν Ἀχιλλέως ὅπλων Ὀδυσσεῖ καὶ Αἴαντι στάσις ἐμπίπτει.
And a quarrel arises between Odysseus and Ajax over the arms of Achilles.

Apollodorus Epitome 5.5: τὴν δὲ Ἀχιλλέως πανοπλίαν τῶι ἀρίστωι νικητήριον τιθεῖσι, καὶ καταβαίνουσιν εἰς ἅμιλλαν Aἴας καὶ Ὀδυσσεὺς καὶ κρινάντων τῶν Τρώων … Ὀδυσσεὺς προκρίνεται (The armor of Achilles is selected as victory prize for the best hero. Ajax and Odysseus enter the contest and, with the Trojans acting as judges, … Odysseus is deemed the winner).

From our point of view there are three versions as to how a decision was reached. According to one, Nestor prompted the Greeks to send spies to the walls of Troy, where they overheard two girls debating the relative merits of Ajax and Odysseus. Since this tradition is explicitly assigned to the Ilias Parva (F2), I shall discuss it in my commentary ad loc. A second version had the Greeks themselves draw up a panel of judges who voted in favor of Odysseus. Compare Pindar Nemean VIII 26–27 (κρυφίαισι γὰρ ἐν ψάφοις Ὀδυσσῆ Δαναοὶ θεράπευσαν· | χρυσέων δ᾽ Αἴας στερηθεὶς ὅπλων φόνωι πάλαισεν) and Sophocles Ajax 1135 (Teucer upbraids Menelaus): Τεῦκρος – κλέπτης γὰρ αὐτοῦ ψηφοποιὸς ηὑρέθης. | Μενέλαος – ἐν τοῖς δικασταῖς, κοὐκ ἐμοί, τόδ᾽ ἐσφάλη. | Τεῦκρος – πόλλ᾽ ἂν κακῶς λάθραι σὺ κλέψειας κακά. [
45] This account underlies the scenes of the {79|80} Greek chieftains voting under the watchful eyes of Athena which we find on a famous cup by Douris (Vienna 3695: ARV2 429.26) and other late archaic vases surveyed by D. Williams, “Ajax, Odysseus, and the Arms of Achilles,” Antike Kunst 23 (1980): 137–145 with plates (see also O. Touchefeu in LIMC I.1, s.v. “Aias I,” 325–327). Most of them also display the initial στάσις in lively fashion.

The third and final variant is most fully conveyed by Σ HQV Odyssey xi 547. Here we are told that Agamemnon shifted responsibility for the invidious decision onto some Trojan prisoners; they had been asked which of the two heroes had harmed them most, and they replied, “Odysseus.” For other late witnesses to this story see Vian, Budé text of Quintus Smyrnaeus ii.9n2, Finglass’s commentary on Sophocles’ Ajax. On the contaminating account of Quintus Smyrnaeus V 1, see Vian, Budé text, ii.9–10.

Severyns supposes the third version to be a fairly straightforward attempt at explaining the apparent paradox of how the Trojans of all people came to have a say in the awarding of Achilles’ arms, while the Ilias Parva’s account represents a more evolved (and involved) solution of the same riddle, in which the παῖδες are perversely taken to be young girls. Robert is certainly right to say that the second version of the adjudication is the simplest and therefore likely to be the oldest. But it does not follow that the oldest account is the Aethiopis’s. Williams {80|81} (1980:142) points out that we cannot categorically exclude the eventuality that a Greek vote followed an initial verdict from Trojan captives or Trojan maidens, but such a scheme seems unnecessarily elaborate.

These most probably allude to the version of events in the Ilias Parva, since they fit the sentiments expressed by the second Trojan girl in F2 of that epic, where Odysseus’ achievement is preferred to Ajax’s. {81|}


[ back ] 1. This happens to coincide with the dating arrived at by West (2013:135–137) on independent grounds relating to his theory of an Amazonis and a Memnonis underlying the Aethiopis. For some negative comments see pages 23–24 above.

[ back ] 2. Robert (Heldensage 2.1176n1) prefers to suppose that Θρᾶισσα τὸ γένος merely refers to the home-land of Penthesileia’s father, Ares.

[ back ] 3. Add e.g. Robert, Heldensage 2.1177n3; cf. R. Heinze, Virgils epische Technik (Leipzig 1908) 198 = Vergil’s Epic Technique (Berkeley 1993) 159.

[ back ] 4. Late authors import an element of necrophily: see Vian on Quintus Smyrnaeus I 644–670 (Budé i.40n2).

[ back ] 5. For other late authors who reproduce this scheme see Vian’s Budé text of Quintus Smyrnaeus i.1n3.

[ back ] 6. Vian (Budé text of Quintus Smyrnaeus i.7), however, alleges that the sequence here remarked upon was forced on Proclus by “la commodité de l’exposition” (i.e. Penthesileia’s burial, if mentioned at any other stage, would interrupt the sequence “abuse–murder–purification”). Similarly West 2013:141: “narrative convenience.”

[ back ] 7. Achilles buried Penthesileia, according to later authors (see Vian’s Budé text of Quintus Smyr-naeus i.164). The version followed by the Aethiopis is perhaps preserved by Quintus of Smyrna I 782–810, when he says Priam persuaded the Atreidae to allow the Trojans to recover and bury Penthesileia.

[ back ] 8. It is most inconsistent of Bethe to adopt this attitude, and yet also to argue that the original epic version may be recovered from Σ Sophocles Philoctetes 445: φονευθεύσης τῆς Πενθεσιλείας ὑπὸ Ἀχιλλέως ὁ Θερσίτης δόρατι, ἔπληξε τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν αὐτῆς· διὸ ὀργισθεὶς ὁ Ἀχιλλεὺς κονδύλωι [Brunck; -οις codd.] αὐτὸν ἀνεῖλεν· ἐλέγετο γὰρ [ὅτι del. Lloyd-Jones] καὶ μετὰ θάνατον ἐρασθεὶς αὐτῆς συνεληλύθεναι [-ἐλήλυθεν Papageorgiou]; cf. Τzetzes ad Lycophron 999 (2.312 Scheer). If we follow the implications of Bethe’s own approach, we must surely conclude that this version’s combination of sadism and the erotic takes us a further step from archaic epic. This approach may, indeed, be wrong and the scholion’s details may derive from a genuinely early tradition (so e.g. Fraenkel, Due seminari romani, 57: “la scena di crudeltà è la piu antica, l’altra [in Proclus’ summary] è una volgarizzazione posteriore”: contra Robert, Heldensage 2.1179: “später hat man die Geschichte immer krasser ausgemalt”). But this does not entail that the Aethiopis employed the more ancient version of events, and Proclus’ phrasing certainly seems to exclude any such connection with the version just outlined. The refinement that Penthesileia’s beauty was only revealed when her helmet was removed (Propertius III.11.15–16, Quintus I 630 and 657), derived from the Aethiopis by West (2013:141), seems to me to belong to later combinations of sadism and the erotic.

[ back ] 9. Cf. Σ b Iliad II 220 (1.231 Erbse): τοῖς οὖν καλλίστος ἐναντίος ὁ ἔχθιστος, “die giftige krote ihren Geifer gegen die Besten spuckt” (Wilamowitz, Ilias und Homer, 271n2), etc. Severyns (1928:316) postulates a now-lost note by Aristarchus which took the Iliad’s ἔχθιστος δ᾽ Ἀχιλῆϊ to be the starting point for the Aethiopis’s fatal development of the pair’s antagonism. Cf. van Thiel 2014:2.196.

[ back ] 10. Kullmann’s thesis (1960:305–306) that the Iliad depicts an “Animosität” harbored by Diomedes against Achilles, and that this “Animosität” is to be explained in terms of the former’s anger against the latter as depicted in the Aethiopis’s treatment of Thersites’ death, is exploded by Andersen (1982:19–21).

[ back ] 11. Cf. Pherecydes FGrHist 3 F123: Φ. δὲ καὶ τοῦτον ἕνα τῶν ἐπὶ τὸν Καλυδώνιον κάπρον στρατευ-σάντων φησίν. ἐκκλίνοντα δὲ τὴν τοῦ συὸς μάχην ὑπὸ Μελεάγρου κατακρημνισθῆναι· διὸ καὶ λελωβῆσθαι τὸ σῶμα. This seems to maintain the Aetolian tradition (see page 54). But, as Andersen says (32n32), it may merely represent an attempt to account for the Homeric deformity.

[ back ] 12. Vian ad loc. (1.164) assumes that this reflects the Aethiopis’s version.

[ back ] 13. For a full description of which see Cambidoglou and Trendall ad loc. (Red-Figured Vases of Apulia II.172). Achilles reposes on an elaborate couch and Phoenix seems to display grief, while to the right Diomedes with an Aetolian soldier is restrained by Menelaus and to the left Agamemnon and Phorbas hurry to calm the situation. As the two scholars cited above conclude, “the scene depicted is unique in vase-painting and is based upon some legend of the Trojan War, perhaps recorded in one of the lost Cyclic poems or related to the Achilles Thersitoctonus of Chaeremon” (TrGF I.17–218 [Sn.]). Even more mysterious is another Apulian vase (Taranto 52265: Red-Figured Vases of Apulia I.[2]25) showing Thersites in the company of, for instance, Helen (who holds an egg), Odysseus. and one of the Dioscuri. The labeled Thersites is not at all deformed, indeed (to quote Cambidoglou and Trendall I.40–41), “his pose has a very statuesque look.” But it would be rash to follow Kullmann (1960:147n2) in associating the scene with an unattested tradition of Thersites as a suitor of Helen (for all that Aphrodite and Eros survey the scene).

[ back ] 14. As observed by Aristarchus (cf. Severyns 1928:139–140). Note especially the tone of Σ T Iliad XI 690 (3.261 Erbse): καὶ παρ’ Ὁμήρωι οὐκ οἴδαμεν φονέα καθαιρόμενον, ἄλλ᾽ ἀντιτίνοντα ἢ φυγαδευόμενον.

[ back ] 15. The difference is emphasized by, for instance, Nilsson GGR2 1.146–147 and Dyer.

[ back ] 16. On the constitution of the text here see Wagner’s Teubner edition2 (Addenda) p. 270 on 203.3–9.

[ back ] 17. Sadly ignorant of the dictum “black is beautiful,” the earliest authors and artists (naturally enough, in view of his parentage) represent the Aethiopian Memnon as white-skinned. See Vian, Budé text of Quintus Smyrnaeus i.165, who presumes the same was true of the Aethiopis, and Frank M. Snowden Jr., Blacks in Antiquity (Cambridge, MA 1970) 152–160 and Burgess 2001: 159–160.

[ back ] 18. The size of Memnon’s army is stressed by Apollodorus Epitome 5.3, which Vian (Budé text of Quintus Smyrnaeus i.165) derives from our epic.

[ back ] 19. For analogies between both heroes and the figure of Rhesus see B. Fenik, Iliad X and the Rhesus: The Myth (Collection Latomus 73 [1964]) 34–35. As Hector’s successor in the rôle of Achilles’ victim he could also be said to be Hector’s foil.

[ back ] 20. With Proclus on Memnon’s armor cf. Apollodorus Epitome on Achilles’ πανοπλία.

[ back ] 21. E.g. Rzach 1922:2399.43–44 and 2405.8–11, Kopff, ANRW II.31.2:935.

[ back ] 22. The same opinion in, for instance, Rzach 1922:2400.24–25.

[ back ] 23. See further S. J. Harrison’s commentary (Oxford 1991) ad loc.

[ back ] 24. Compare the motif “was it for this that I was allowed to live to this great age?” (examples cited by Ogilvie on Livy II 40.5).

[ back ] 25. Courteney on Juvenal X 251 says the poet “seems to be thinking of dramatic representations (for attendas cf. 6.65) e.g. the Memnon of Aeschylus.”

[ back ] 26. Hardly a battle at Pylos: we would naturally assume that Antilochus was too young to venture out to war in the days before the Trojan expedition, even if Kossatz-Deissmann had not reminded us (1981:570–571) of the tradition found in Philostratus Heroicus 3.2, which represents Antilochus as initially too young to join the Greek assault on Troy. He later sneaked into the Greek camp and was saved from his father’s anger by Achilles’ intervention. For vases which may depict Antilochus’ arrival and his father’s pacification see Kossatz-Deissmann 1981:570–571 (cf. LIMC I.1, 831–832), suggesting a derivation from the Aethiopis (the Cypria would be another possibility).

[ back ] 27. Kossatz-Deissmann’s citation (1981:571n27) of “Asclepiades of Myrlea” from Eustathius 1697.52–53 is less reassuring, because the story there quoted, that Antilochus was warned by a certain Chalcon appointed by his father, probably derives from Ptolemaeus Chennus’ New History (cf. Photius Bibliotheca 147.30–32 [2.53–54 Henry]; K.-H. Tomberg, Die Kaine Historia des Ptolemaios Chennos [Bonn 1968] 103, 153–154) as argued by Herches, Fleckeisenii Annales Supplement , 1.288, followed by B. A. Müller, De Asclepiade Myrleano (Leipzig 1903) 17.

[ back ] 28. Christ in his edition ([Leipzig 1846] 185); Gildersleeve ad loc. (New York 1885) 318; Kullmann (1960:314); Burton, Pindar’s Pythian Odes (Oxford 1962) 22; Willcock as cited, etc. Boeckh (Pindar II:2.299) actually anticipated Welcker. Some skepticism is expressed by Gruppe, Gr. Myth. 1.681n4; and, more recently and radically, A. Kelly (“Neoanalysis and the ‘Nestorbedrängnis’: A Test Case,” Hermes 134 [2006]: 13–19). This article argues that Pindar actually bases his narrative on the role of Archilochus in Iliad VIII and XXIII, which passages he then undercuts and subverts, often reversing the significance of original motifs to antithetical effect. There is perhaps a methodological problem about an approach which starts by basing itself on alleged similarities between passages by two authors and ends by stressing the antithetical differences. One might quote against Kelly his (perfectly justified) criticism of a Neo-Neoanalyst (p. 12): “at what point … do the departures from the proposed model become great enough to sunder the link?”

[ back ] 29. The plural is taken literally by Pestalozzi (1945:17), followed by Hampe in Hampe–Simon, Griechische Sagen in der frühen etruskischen Kunst, 49, who refers it to the version of the Aethiopis and the Chalcidian vase considered on the next page.

[ back ] 30. Some take Paris’ wounding of Diomedes with an arrow in the foot (Iliad XI 369–377) to reflect the scene in the Aethiopis where Achilles is killed (see, for instance, Andersen, Die Diomedesgestalt in der Ilias (Symbolae Osloenses Suppl. 25 [1978]) 10). Note the warning of Fenik (Iliad X and the Rhesus: The Myth [Collection Latomus 73 (1964)] 95–96) on the Iliadic scene’s typical elements.

[ back ] 31. F. Jouan (“Le Cycle épique: État des questions,” in Association Guillaume Budé, Actes du Xe Congrès [Paris 1980] 94) confidently assumes that one arrow derives from Apollo, the other from Paris (but see page 67 above).

[ back ] 32. See, for instance, Robert, Heldensage 2.1188n5; LIMC I.1 183.

[ back ] 33. And one should probably not, because one of his examples, the Celtic hero Diarmaid, is pricked in the heel by the poisonous bristle of a boar, while he is measuring its hide by walking over it. Besides, as the late but still lamented Edwin Ardener once informed me, this particular version of the legend is so late that contamination from the tradition of Achilles’ heel cannot be ruled out.

[ back ] 34. In book I of his Posthomerica Quintus of Smyrna stresses the association between Achilles and Ajax: for details see Vian’s Budé text of that poet i.9. Vian suggests that this association (pointless in Quintus’ narrative, where Ajax retires before the decisive battle) derives from our epic, where it would have given a sort of unity, since the main climaxes of the poem were the deaths of the two heroes.

[ back ] 35. Robert, Heldensage 67 supposed the dipping to be a Hellenistic invention.

[ back ] 36. σώματος was conjectured by Schubart (Ephemerides Literariae Helmstadienses 1 [1840] 517), but Wagner (Curae Mythographicae de Apollodori fontibus [Leipzig 1891] 209n2) observed that πτῶμα “apud recentiores scriptores” could refer to a “cadaver humi prostratum” and cited Polybius XV 14.2. Note in particular the πτῶμα Ἀχιλλέως mentioned in Ilias Parva fr. 2b.

[ back ] 37. Bibliography in Rzach 1922:2402.57; Jouan, “Le Cycle épique: État des questions,” in Association Guillaume Budé, Actes du Xe Congrès (Paris 1980) 94n37.

[ back ] 38. Gruppe (Gr. Myth 1.682n5) supposed this portion of the Iliad to derive from the Aethiopis because of the similarity between Homer’s narrative and the contents of this vase. E. Howald, Der Mythos als Dichtung (Zurich 1946) 31–32 also finds the Iliadic passage a “Nachahmung” of the rescue of Achilles’ body.

[ back ] 39. The views of Aristarchus (as preserved in Σ A Iliad XVII 719 [4.426 Erbse: to the discussions he cites ad loc. add Severyns 1928:321–322]: see van Thiel 2014:3.150) were that to carry Achilles’ corpse was not a task for Ajax, and that Homer would have made no such oversight, unlike οἱ νεώτεροι.

[ back ] 40. Cf. Antisthenes’ Ajax (Artium scriptores B 19.11.12 Radermacher) and R. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship: From the Beginnings to the End of the Hellenistic Age (Oxford 1968) 1.36–37 and 37n2.

[ back ] 41. A. Schneider, Der troische Sagenkreis in der ältesten griechische Kunst (Leipzig 1886) 157, followed by Rzach (1922:2403.13–20), argued that the vase showed the battle before Odysseus’ arrival on the scene. But this explanation will not do since Odysseus is also omitted from depictions of the transportation of the corpse back to the Greek camp (on these see LIMC I.1, s.v. “Achilleus,” 185–192).

[ back ] 42. Followed by H. Erbse, Beiträge zum Verständnis der Odyssee (Berlin 1972) 194n72.

[ back ] 43. According to Kullmann (1960:112), “der tatsächliche Sieg [of Eumelus] in der Aithiopis erscheint—rein stofflich—gegenüber der blossen Erwartung des Sieges in der Ilias primär.”

[ back ] 44. Thetis also features as arranger of the games at Quintus Smyrnaeus IV 103–104. Vian ad loc. (i.140n3) distinguishes this from the Aethiopis ’s version, where Thetis seems to be absent, having removed her son’s corpse to Leuce, and the Achaeans are specified as the organizers. But Proclus’ summary is too brief for us to be absolutely certain that she may not have returned in our epic to supervise the funerary tributes to her son.

[ back ] 45. For later literary allusions to this version see Vian, Budé text of Quintus Smyrnaeus ii.8n1 (he includes Apollodorus Epitome 5.6 [καὶ κρινάντων τῶν Τρώων, ὡς δέ τινες τῶν συμμάχων, Ὀδυσσεὺς προκρίνεται], where, however, the σύμμαχοι are surely the Trojan allies [as supposed by Noack, review of F. Kehmptzow, De Quinti Smyrnaei fontibus ac mythopoeia, in Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeiger (1892): 780n4: cf. Apollodorus Epitome 3.34, 4.4, etc.; contra Gruppe, Gr. Myth. 1.683n4) and the detail an odd autoschediasm. The implications of fraud in the voting which we encounter in the two earliest extant testimonia (on κρυφίος in the Pindaric passage as entailing crooked, not secret, votes see N. O. Brown, “Pindar, Sophocles, and the Thirty Years Peace,” Transactions of the Americal Philological Association 82 [1951]: 15n23; C. P. Segal, “Pebbles in Golden Urns: The Date and Style of Corinna,” Eranos 73 [1975]: 6; contra C. Carey, “Pindar’s Eighth Nemean Ode,” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 22 [1976]: 31: cf. Köhnken, Die Funktion des Mythos bei Pindar [Berlin 1971] 27n29) are probably an ad hoc invention of Pindar or Sophocles (or both) to fit their contexts; see M. C. van der Kolf, Quaeritur quo modo Pindarus fabulas trataverit quidque in eius mutarit (Rotterdam 1923) 66–67.

[ back ] 46. Followed by P. Girard, “Comment a du se former l’Iliade,” Révue des Études Grecques 15 (1902): 255, and van der Kolf, Quaeritur quo modo Pindarus fabulas tractaverit, 66.

[ back ] 47. So Welcker, 2:177–178; Fleischer, in Roscher 1.126.10–18; Rossbach, RE 1 (1894): 933–934, etc.

[ back ] 48. Monro is doubly wrong, since he presumes that, in the version which he takes the Aethiopis to have followed, “Athene herself acted as a dicast—as she did in the equally famous trial-scene of the Eumenides.” Athena’s role is only mentioned at Odyssey xi 547, and even there, as Jebb observed, “the poet need not be understood as conceiving that she actually presided over the award … but merely that she influenced the minds of the arbiters.” The same holds true of the vases mentioned above. Compare the goddess’ rôle in Ilias Parva F2.