Pathak, Shubha. 2014. Divine Yet Human Epics: Reflections of Poetic Rulers from Ancient Greece and India. Hellenic Studies Series 62. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_PathakS.Divine_Yet_Human_Epics.2014.
3. Listening to Achilles and to Odysseus: Poetic Kings on the Ideal of Kléos in the Homeric Epics
Achilles as a Rhapsode Far from Phthia
tòn d’ heûron phréna terpómenon phórmingi ligeíēi,
kalē̂i daidaléēi, epì d’ argúreon zugòn ē̂en,
tḕn áret’ ex enárōn pólin Ēetíōnos oléssas∙
tē̂i hó ge thumòn éterpen, áeide d’ ára kléa andrō̂n.
Pátroklos dé hoi oîos enantíos hē̂sto siōpē̂i,
dégmenos Aiakídēn, hopóte lḗxeien aeídōn.
and lighted on him delighting in the clear sounds of a
beautifully wrought, silver-bridged lyre
that he had got from the spoils of Eëtion’s city after destroying it.
With the lyre, his heart’s delight, [Achilles] was singing of the glorious deeds of men;
and only Patroclus was sitting opposite him in silence,
waiting for the moment when this scion of Aeacus would cease singing.
What frees Achilles to present this impromptu recital is his double displacement. Having been called away from his kingdom in Phthia to combat at Troy, he has been driven away from the naval warfare there by his anger at Agamemnon, who has stolen from Achilles his slave woman Briseïs (Iliad 1.335–344).
Even though rhapsodic reciters may be recomposing in performance—and thereby may be contributing to the previously composed poems that have been passed down to them—this activity of theirs is distinct from that of the prior bardic poets responsible for much of the content that the reciters have received. Even if the Homeridae are in the same line of poetic transmission as the aoidoí known collectively as Homer, the difference between the two groups’ efforts is well worth observing and is anticipated in the Iliad itself. Indeed, Achilles’ Iliadic rhapsody belies Havelock’s dissolution of this distinction:
Given that “the hero [Achilles] … sings himself into the [Iliad] epic,”  it is important—pace Havelock—to note the type of singer that Achilles is styled, so as to understand what his singing signifies.
Achilles’ Rhapsodic Recitation:A Prolepsis of His Kléos of Conquest
dikhthadías kē̂ras pherémen thanátoio télosde.
ei mén k’ aûthi ménōn Trṓōn pólin amphimákhōmai,
ṓleto mén moi nóstos, atàr kléos áphthiton éstai∙
ei dé ken oíkad’ híkōmi phílēn es patrída gaîan,
ṓletó moi kléos esthlón, epì dēròn dé moi aiṑn
éssetai, oudé ké m’ ō̂ka télos thanátoio kikheíē.
two different destinies are taking me to the moment of my death:
if I stay here and wage war around the Trojans’ city,
then my homecoming will have been lost but I will have undying glory;
but, if I go home to my beloved fatherland,
my noble glory will have been lost, though I will have a long life
without the moment of my death quickly coming upon me.
Even though Achilles frames this pair of fates as apparent alternatives, I do not think that the hero’s early death in battle is something that he ultimately is able to select freely over an immediate departure from Troy.  In presenting this second outcome, Achilles considers what his life would continue to be, were he not constrained already to effect the first. Yet his consideration of this continued life is not simply “[c]ounterfactual,”  for this hypothetical existence provides the poetic images for his inevitable, impending death.
Héktora∙ kē̂ra d’ egṑ tóte déxomai, hoppóte ken dḕ
Zeùs ethélēi telésai ēd’ athánatoi theoì álloi.
oudè gàr oudè bíē Hēraklē̂os phúge kē̂ra,
hós per phíltatos éske Diì Kroníōni ánakti∙
allá he moîra dámasse kaì argaléos khólos Hḗrēs.
hṑs kaì egṓn, ei dḗ moi homoíē moîra tétuktai,
keísom’ epeí ke thánō∙ nûn dè kléos esthlòn aroímēn,
kaí tina Trōïádōn kaì Dardanídōn bathukólpōn
amphotérēisin khersì pareiáōn hapaláōn
dákru’ omorxaménēn hadinòn stonakhē̂sai epheíēn,
gnoîen d’ hōs dḕ dēròn egṑ polémoio pépaumai∙
for I will accept my death at the moment whenever
Zeus and the other immortal gods choose to accomplish it.
For not even powerful Heracles escaped his death,
despite being the dearest to Lord Zeus, son of Cronus.
Rather, fate felled him, as did the vexing rage of Hera.
So, too, I—if indeed a similar fate has been fixed for me—
will lie still when I die. But now allow me to win noble glory,
and to send one of the full-chested Trojan or Dardanian women
to moan vehemently while wiping off tears
from her soft cheeks with both hands.
And allow them to know for how very long I have ceased and desisted from the war.
Achilles knows full well that reentering the war will lead to his decease, because Thetis has already revealed that he will succeed Hector in death (Iliad 18.96). Hence, Achilles connects to his own acceptance of his fated demise his requital against Hector (Iliad 18.114–116). The Phthian recognizes the inexorability of his dire destiny, likening it to the end of Heracles (Iliad 18.117–121). Here Achilles implies that, if such a fate can befall a semi-divine being who—by virtue of having been fathered by the immortal ruler (Zeus) rather than a mortal one (such as Peleus)—is even higher in status than Achilles, then he, too, as a mere great-grandson of Zeus, will die soon, despite having a divine mother. Before Achilles accrues kléos as a consequence of his own death in combat, he will make a widow out of Hector’s wife, Andromache, who indeed will be in tears and in the company of other Trojan women when she mourns him (Iliad 18.121–125, 22.515, 24.746).
polloús, hoí rha kat’ autòn hális ésan, hoùs ktán’ Akhilleús∙
pân d’ exēránthē pedíon, skhéto d’ aglaòn húdōr.
hōs d’ hót’ opōrinòs Boréēs neoardé’ alōḕn
aîps’ anxēránēi∙ khaírei dé min hós tis etheírēi∙
hṑs exēránthē pedíon pân, kàd d’ ára nekroùs
kē̂en∙ ho d’ es potamòn trépse phlóga pamphanóōsan.
kaíonto pteléai te kaì itéai ēdè murîkai,
kaíeto dè lōtós te idè thrúon ēdè kúpeiron,
tà perì kalà rhéethra hális potamoîo pephúkei∙
teíront’ enkhélués te kaì ikhthúes hoì katà dínas,
hoì katà kalà rhéethra kubístōn éntha kaì éntha
pnoiē̂i teirómenoi polumḗtios Hēphaístoio.
that thronged around it after having been killed by Achilles;
and the entire plain was dried up and the sparkling water was halted.
And, just as when at harvest time the north wind dries a newly watered orchard
quickly and delights the man who tills it,
thus was the entire plain dried up as [Hephaestus] burned through the dead bodies.
He then turned the shining flame toward the river.
Elms and willows and tamarisks burned.
Clover burned, and rushes and galingale,
all of which had grown profusely around the river’s pretty streams.
Eels and fish were afflicted, jumping out along the eddies,
along the pretty streams here and there,
while afflicted by the blast of Hephaestus, who was crafty in many ways.
Hephaestus contributes here to Achilles’ kléos by enabling the hero to best “the protective river of Troy”  —and thus to battle the city’s inhabitants while free of this formidable natural obstacle (Iliad 21.359–360). Yet the agricultural simile for Hephaestus’ act illuminates another facet of Achilles’ fame. At first glance, comparing the furnace effect of Hephaestus’ conflagration to a fast, wind-driven evaporation favorable to crops (Iliad 21.343–349) may appear bizarre, particularly in light of the Scamander River’s necessity to “the fertility of the Trojan plain, and hence [to] the life of Troy as a whole.”  But the coupling of the destructive and the productive in this comparison recalls Achilles’ own juxtaposition above of the death that threatens him at Troy and the life that he has left behind in Phthia (Iliad 9.410–416). Moreover, the barrier between these two states breaks down when considered in connection with kléos: fighting to the death at Troy will destroy Achilles, but will produce his glory, while living in Phthia has allowed him to produce wealth and ultimately acclaim for his heir, but has promised to destroy Achilles’ own prospects for fame.
ḗmōn oxeías drepánas en khersìn ékhontes.
drágmata d’ álla met’ ógmon epḗtrima pîpton éraze,
álla d’ amallodetē̂res en elledanoîsi déonto.
treîs d’ ár’ amallodetē̂res ephéstasan∙ autàr ópisthe
paîdes dragmeúontes, en ankalídessi phérontes,
asperkhès párekhon∙ basileùs d’ en toîsi siōpē̂i
skē̂ptron ékhōn hestḗkei ep’ ógmou gēthósunos kē̂r.
kḗrukes d’ apáneuthen hupò druï̀ daîta pénonto,
boûn d’ hiereúsantes mégan ámphepon∙ hai dè gunaîkes
deîpnon eríthoisin leúk’ álphita pollà pálunon.
were reaping with the sharp sickles that they had in their hands.
While some swaths were falling to the earth, one after another, in a row,
others sheaf-binders were binding together with bands.
Three sheaf-binders took their positions; then, behind them,
boys gathering the fallen swaths by the armful
gave them to the sheaf-binders, without stopping; and among them, in silence,
stood the king, holding his scepter and rejoicing to the core at the reaping row.
Apart from them, heralds were preparing a feast beneath an oak tree
and were attending to the great bull that they had sacrificed. The maidservants
strewed plenty of white barley for the laborers’ main meal.
I regard the “property” (témenos) (Iliad 18.550) over which this ruler presides not as “the kind of privilege which any great basileus [or king] might hope to return to after the war, the kind which Achilles might have had if he had chosen long life instead of a glorious death,”  but as the very patrimony that this hero has been constrained to enjoy only briefly. On this view, Phthia looms not as a potential destination, but as a piece of a completed—if fleeting—past. And this land is named aptly, assuming that its appellation “is motivated by the theme of vegetal death as conveyed by the root phthi–.”  Although the king of Phthia, Achilles, grew like a shoot after he had been born to Thetis, who tended him like a tree in the sunniest spot of an orchard (Iliad 18.56–57, 437–438), his life will be cut short in the Trojan War. And Phthia, without its king, will languish as Peleus withers away in his old age, waiting for Neoptolemus to return to his roots—from Scyrus, the island where he is being reared (Iliad 19.326–327)—and to take over.
tribémenai krî leukòn eüktiménēi en alōē̂i,
rhímpha te lépt’ egénonto boō̂n hupò póss’ erimúkōn,
hṑs hup’ Akhillē̂os megathúmou mṓnukhes híppoi
steîbon homoû nékuás te kaì aspídas∙ haímati d’ áxōn
nérthen hápas pepálakto kaì ántuges haì perì díphron,
hàs ár’ aph’ hippeíōn hopléōn rhatháminges éballon
haí t’ ap’ epissṓtrōn∙ ho dè híeto kûdos arésthai
Pēleḯdēs, lúthrōi dè palásseto kheîras aáptous.
to trample white barley on a well-built threshing floor,
and the husked grain soon appears under the feet of the loud-bellowing bulls,
like so, below great-hearted Achilles, his uncloven-hooved horses
were trampling dead bodies and shields at once. The whole axle
had been spattered beneath with blood, and the railing around the chariot,
which drops of blood—from the horses’ hooves and from the wheel rims—struck.
But Peleus’ son was speeding on, to attain honor;
and, with gore, he spattered his unhandleable hands.
The threshing action of Achilles’ immortal horses calls to mind the reaping scene depicted on his divine shield (Iliad 18.550–557). Both events involve grain—at least figuratively, if not literally: in fact, threshing is what must happen to the barley in order for humans like the reapers who have harvested it to consume it (Iliad 18.559–560). Furthermore, the productiveness of these imagined acts forms a mold for the real destruction around them. As Achilles speeds over the lifeless bodies beneath his horse-drawn vehicle, he is akin to the man guiding yoked oxen across the husks from cut stalks that are to be crushed. The thresher in this simile, like the reapers on Achilles’ shield, embodies this king’s ability to increase his country’s yield. As the shield reveals, laborers of this agricultural variety provide the might that he presumably has overseen in Phthia, and thus may be seen as an extension of his own strength. However, on the battlefield in Troy, where Achilles brandishes his shield as he leads not laborers but warriors, this king will visit his own destiny of a lost country on another ruler whose city he wants to spoil. Moreover, just as the metal Phthia of Achilles’ shield becomes a symbol of all that will be lost in Troy, so too the aforementioned blast sent from Hephaestus in Achilles’ behalf (Iliad 21.346–349) evokes a northern breeze pleasing to the kind of farmer who once was found in Phthia, in Achilles’ employ, but whose services no longer will be needed in a soon-to-be desolate Troy. Trojans will fall not only like the trees that Hephaestus burns down (Iliad 21.349–350), but also like Achilles himself, whose own growth—as Thetis bemoans (Iliad 18.54–60, 436–441)—will be cut short. But, before then, Achilles will keep mowing down Trojans. Even though the corpses crushed under his chariot in the threshing simile above are dead already, the blood that these bodies leave on his hands hints that, before reaching his end, he will continue to kill in force—as he, like “divinely kindled fire” (the-spidaès pûr), already has been doing by the time that Hephaestus discharges his “divinely kindled fire” (thespidaès pûr) near Scamander (Iliad 20.490, 21.342).
Even though Achilles will be killed by divine Apollo and human Paris (Iliad 22.359–360) and will not live to see Troy sacked by fellow Achaean Odysseus, an event anticipated in the Iliad and celebrated in the Odyssey,  the Phthian’s fate is inseparable from that of Ilium, whose downfall he is and whose name gives rise to the rubric for the epic praising his exploits.
Odysseus as a Bard on Scheria and Ithaca
aeídēi dedaṑs épe’ himeróenta brotoîsi,
toû d’ ámoton memáasin akouémen, hoppót’ aeídēi∙
hṑs emè keînos éthelge parḗmenos en megároisi.
sings to mortals delightful things in songs that he has learned from the gods,
and they are insatiably eager to hear him whenever he sings,
like so, [the Cretan] charmed me as he sat in my home.
Similarly enchanting are “the many other charms for mortals” (pollà … álla brotō̂n thelktḗria) that Phemius has in his repertoire (Odyssey 1.337).
állon g’, ei mḕ tō̂n hoì dēmioergoì éasi,
mántin ḕ iētē̂ra kakō̂n ḕ téktona doúrōn,
ḕ kaì théspin aoidón, hó ken térpēisin aeídōn;
hoûtoi gàr klētoí ge brotō̂n ep’ apeírona gaîan∙
ptōkhòn d’ ouk án tis kaléoi trúxonta hè autón.
unless [this stranger] is one of those men who work for the people—
a prophet or a healer of illnesses or a woodworker
or, in fact, an inspired singer, who delights by singing?
For these are the very men who are invited all over the boundless earth,
but no one would invite a beggar, who would eat him out of house and home.
Eumaeus—in justifying his invitation of the Cretan itinerant—devotes a longer description to the epic singer than to the other popular practitioners, and places the singer in the prominent final position on the practitioner list. Given that Eumaeus goes on to compare the Cretan pauper to an aoidós (Odyssey 17.518–521), the swineherd probably regards him as an aoidós (at least in his present effect, if not in his current employment).
Odysseus’ Bardic Compositions:Prolepses of His Kléos of Restoration
tòn dé toi argaléon thḗsei theós∙ ou gàr oḯō
lḗsein ennosígaion, hó toi kóton éntheto thumō̂i,
khōómenos hóti hoi huiòn phílon exaláōsas.
all’ éti mén ke kaì hṑs kaká per páskhontes híkoisthe,
aí k’ ethélēis sòn thumòn erukakéein kaì hetaírōn,
hoppóte ke prō̂ton pelásēis euergéa nē̂a
Thrinakíēi nḗsōi, prophugṑn ioeidéa pónton,
boskoménas d’ heúrēte bóas kaì íphia mē̂la
Ēelíou, hòs pánt’ ephorâi kaì pánt’ epakoúei.
tàs ei mén k’ asinéas eáais nóstou te médēai,
kaí ken ét’ eis Ithákēn kaká per páskhontes híkoisthe∙
ei dé ke sínēai, tóte toi tekmaírom’ ólethron
nēḯ te kaì hetárois∙ autòs d’ eí pér ken alúxēis,
opsè kakō̂s neîai, olésas ápo pántas hetaírous,
nēòs ep’ allotríēs∙ dḗeis d’ en pḗmata oíkōi,
ándras huperphiálous, hoí toi bíoton katédousi
mnṓmenoi antithéēn álokhon kaì hédna didóntes.
all’ ē̂ toi keínōn ge bías apotíseai elthṓn∙
autàr epḕn mnēstē̂ras enì megároisi teoîsi
kteínēis ēè dólōi ḕ amphadòn oxéï khalkō̂i,
érkhesthai dḕ épeita, labṑn euē̂res eretmón,
eis hó ke toùs aphíkēai hoì ou ísasi thálassan
anéres, oudé th’ hálessi memigménon eîdar édousin∙
oud’ ára toì ísasi néas phoinikoparḗious,
oud’ euḗre’ eretmá, tá te pterà nēusì pélontai.
sē̂ma dé toi eréō mál’ ariphradés, oudé se lḗsei∙
hoppóte ken dḗ toi sumblḗmenos állos hodítēs
phḗēi athērēloigòn ékhein anà phaidímōi ṓmōi,
kaì tóte dḕ gaíēi pḗxas euē̂res eretmón,
rhéxas hierà kalà Poseidáōni ánakti,
arneiòn taûrón te suō̂n t’ epibḗtora kápron,
oíkad’ aposteíkhein érdein th’ hieràs hekatómbas
athanátoisi theoîsi, toì ouranòn eurùn ékhousi,
pâsi mál’ hexeíēs∙ thánatos dé toi ex halòs autō̂i
ablēkhròs mála toîos eleúsetai, hós ké se pephnēi
gḗrai húpo liparō̂i arēménon∙ amphì dè laoì
ólbioi éssontai∙ tà dé toi nēmertéa eírō.
but a god will make it difficult for you, for I cannot imagine that
you will escape the notice of the Earth-Shaker, who has harbored anger at you in his heart
and continues to be rankled because you blinded his own son [Polyphemus].
But you still may reach home, even as you suffer afflictions,
if you are willing to curb your desire and that of your comrades
when you first bring your well-made ship
to Thrinacia Island—after you have eluded the blue-violet sea—
and you come upon the grazing cattle and fat sheep
of Helius, who sees everything and hears everything.
If you leave these unharmed and keep in mind your homecoming,
even as you suffer afflictions, you still may come home to Ithaca;
but, if you harm them, then I predict your destruction
and that of your ship and comrades. And—even if you yourself escape—
you will come home with afflictions after a long time, having lost all of your comrades,
on a ship that is not your own; and at home you will come upon woes,
reckless men who devour your livelihood,
while wooing your godlike wife and tendering bride-prices.
Yet, to tell you the truth, you will avenge the wrongdoing of those very men after you come home;
but—after you have killed the suitors in your hall,
either by guile or in plain view with honed bronze—
then and only then grab a well-constructed oar and proceed
until you reach people who do not know the ocean
and do not eat food mixed with salt,
and thus do not know red-prowed ships
nor well-constructed oars, which are the wings of ships.
And I will tell you of a sign that is very easy to discern and that will not elude you:
at the very moment when another traveler, upon encountering you,
says that you are carrying a winnowing fan on your shining shoulder,
right then plant your well-constructed oar in the earth,
sacrifice fine offerings to Lord Poseidon—
a ram and a bull and a boar, the mate of sows—
and return home and offer holy hecatombs
to the immortal gods who inhabit widespread heaven,
to each one in the proper order. And death of a very gentle sort will come upon
you yourself away from the sea, doing you in
when you are worn out by a pleasant old age; and, all around you, your people
will be prosperous. I am telling you the truth.
The events that Teiresias sees and foresees place Odysseus’ fate and fame in stark contrast with those of Achilles. Whereas Achilles is favored by Hephaestus, who blasts his fire to help the Phthian repel the Scamander River in Troy (Iliad 21.349–355), Odysseus has angered ocean god Poseidon, who has hindered the Ithacan’s homecoming—roiling the sea enough to disperse the remnants of Odysseus’ raft as he approaches the coast of Scheria—and who perturbs Odysseus enough on his way there that, upon arriving, he takes refuge in a much smoother river (Odyssey 11.102–103; 5.291–296, 313–332, 366–370; 7.270–277; 5.388–457; 7.278–282). Before reaching Scheria, Odysseus suffers the loss of his crewmen when he cannot prevent them from feeding on sun god Helius’ livestock on Thrinacia (Odyssey 12.353–419). Achilles himself, however, wreaks havoc on the royal owners of the oxen and sheep that he finds when he sails to Thebe; and thus is free to loot this land as he pleases (Iliad 6.416, 421–427). And, at Troy, whose people war with Achilles on sea as well as on land, he garners glory for heroics that keep him from coming home to Phthia ever again (Iliad 18.94–125). But Odysseus will be renowned not only for returning to Ithaca but also for wresting it away from the avaricious young men who have overrun it and for restoring it to its prewar prosperity once he has introduced worship of Poseidon and the other Olympians to a faraway landlocked people unfamiliar with the sea (Odyssey 11.113–114, 115–120, 136–137, 121–134).
bouloímēn k’ epárouros eṑn thēteuémen állōi,
andrì par’ aklḗrōi, hō̂i mḕ bíotos polùs eíē,
ḕ pâsin nekúessi kataphthiménoisin anássein.
I would rather be on fertile soil, hiring myself out as a laborer to another—
to a man having little land and not much to live on—
than be king over all the dead, who have perished.
These words of Achilles often have been interpreted as evidence of a change of heart on his part, a second-guessing of his so-called choice to leave Phthia to seek fame at Troy.  While I agree that Achilles’ stance represents a questioning of the Iliadic kléos of conquest, I think that such fame’s uncertainty stems from a change not in his motivation, but in his very location.
neikéoi∙ ē̂ gár seu kléos ouranòn eurùn hikánei,
hṓs té teu ḕ basilē̂os amúmonos, hós te theoudḕs
andrásin en polloîsi kaì iphthímoisin anássōn
eudikías anékhēisi, phérēisi dè gaîa mélaina
puroùs kaì krithás, bríthēisi dè déndrea karpō̂i,
tíktēi d’ émpeda mē̂la, thálassa dè parékhēi ikhthûs
ex euēgesíēs, aretō̂si dè laoì hup’ autoû.
could have quarrel with you, for certainly your glory reaches widespread heaven—
as does that of a blameless king, a god-fearing man who,
as the lord among many noble men,
upholds good laws; and the black earth bears
wheat and barley, and the trees are loaded with fruit,
and the sheep bear young continuously, and the sea provides fish
because of his good leadership; and his people thrive under him.
That Odysseus is the “blameless king” (basilē̂os amúmonos) whose “trees are loaded with fruit” (bríthēisi … déndrea karpō̂i) and whose “sheep bear young continuously” (tíktēi … émpeda mē̂la) makes sense because of the abundance of his orchards and flocks of sheep and because Aethon goes on to extol Odysseus’ regalia (Odyssey 19.109, 112, 113; 24.336–344; 14.100; 19.224–235). But Aethon does not name the absent king whom he glorifies, and thus cannot ensure that the ruler’s name will live on. Nonetheless, Aethon’s praise of Penelope suggests that his poetry resembles that of Demodocus in its efficacy. Aethon’s declaration that no one “could have quarrel with” (neikéoi) the queen, whose “glory reaches widespread heaven” (kléos ouranòn eurùn hikánei), recalls Demodocus’ song about the “quarrel” (neîkos) of Odysseus and Achilles, a song whose “glory … reached widespread heaven” (kléos ouranòn eurùn híkane) (Odyssey 19.108; 8.75, 74). Moreover, as Penelope reacts to Aethon’s yarn, she parallels Odysseus in his response to Demodocus’ ballad about the Trojan War. Although the Phaeacian aoidós sings of the Achaean victory at Troy, the Ithacan king grieves rather than rejoices:
tḗketo, dákru d’ édeuen hupò blephároisi pareiás.
hōs dè gunḕ klaíēisi phílon pósin amphipesoûsa,
hós te heē̂s prósthen pólios laō̂n te pésēisin,
ásteï kaì tekéessin amúnōn nēleès ē̂mar∙
hē mèn tòn thnḗiskonta kaì aspaíronta idoûsa
amph’ autō̂i khuménē líga kōkúei∙ hoi dé t’ ópisthe
kóptontes doúressi metáphrenon ēdè kaì ṓmous
eíreron eisanágousi, pónon t’ ekhémen kaì oïzún∙
tē̂s d’ eleeinotátōi ákheï phthinúthousi pareiaí∙
hṑs Oduseùs eleeinòn hup’ ophrúsi dákruon eîben.
énth’ állous mèn pántas elánthane dákrua leíbōn,
Alkínoos dé min oîos epephrásat’ ēd’ enóēsen,
hḗmenos ánkh’ autoû, barù dè stenákhontos ákousen.
melted, and, beneath his eyelids, tears steeped his cheeks.
And—just as a woman embraces and wails over her beloved husband,
who has fallen before his city and people
while warding away the pitiless day from his city and children,
and she, upon seeing him laboring to take his last breaths,
throws her arms around him and shrieks shrilly, but the men behind her
strike her with their spear shafts on the back and shoulders
and carry her away into slavery to suffer labor and sorrow,
and her cheeks waste away with the most piteous grief—
like so, Odysseus shed pitiful tears beneath his brows.
In shedding his tears, he eluded the attention of everyone else there
except Alcinous, the only one who looked at and took notice of him
while sitting near him, because of having heard him groaning grievously.
Penelope sorrows similarly as she hears Aethon’s story: 
tē̂s d’ ár’ akouoúsēs rhée dákrua, tḗketo dè khrṓs.
hōs dè khiṑn katatēket’ en akropóloisin óressin,
hḗn t’ Eûros katétēxen, epḕn Zéphuros katakheúēi∙
tēkoménēs d’ ára tē̂s potamoì plḗthousi rhéontes∙
hṑs tē̂s tḗketo kalà parḗïa dákru kheoúsēs,
klaioúsēs heòn ándra parḗmenon. autàr Odusseùs
thumō̂i mèn goóōsan heḕn eléaire gunaîka,
ophthalmoì d’ hōs ei kéra héstasan ēè sídēros
atrémas en blephároisi∙ dólōi d’ hó ge dákrua keûthen.
and, as she listened, her tears flowed and her body melted.
Just as snow melts on mountain peaks,
snow that the East Wind melts when the West Wind showers it down,
and—as it melts—the flowing rivers flood,
like so, her beautiful cheeks melted as she showered tears
and lamented her husband even as he sat beside her. But, although Odysseus
pitied his weeping wife in his heart,
his eyes stared ahead as if made of horn or iron,
unmoving under his eyelids; and, with deceit, even he concealed his tears.
As Penelope mirrors Odysseus’ sorrow, she herself resembles the apparently Trojan widow to whom he has been compared already. The horror of the Trojan War is brought home to Penelope when she hears the name of her absent and perhaps dead husband on the lips of Aethon, the apparent brother of Odysseus’ brother-in-arms. Here, as the Cretan Aethon, Odysseus departs from his earlier self-disclosure (as the unnamed Cretan) that he was fathered by Castor (Hylax’s son), and instead claims to be Minos’ grandson, Deucalion’s son, and the younger brother of Idomeneus, whom Aethon identifies as Odysseus’ close friend and fellow fighter (Odyssey 14.199–206, 19.178–191). Penelope’s reaction to hearing from Aethon of the hardships her husband faced in Crete as he tried to embark for Troy in harsh weather (Odyssey 19.185–189, 199–201)—namely, her ability to share Odysseus’ own despair at Demodocus’ Trojan War reminder—confirms for Odysseus that she will be receptive to his return and helpful to him as he strives to make Ithaca thrive once again. Odysseus will achieve glory by leaving behind the lives that he and other Achaeans have destroyed at Troy and by recreating on Ithaca a kingdom that produces as well as it has in the past. Odysseus’ departure from the Iliadic ideal is revealed by his identification with the war widow. Indeed, hearing about winning Achaeans leads him to lament like the wives of the warriors whom Achilles will have killed to obtain kléos (Iliad 18.121–125). These women include Hector’s wife, Andromache, whose natal and marital homelands of Thebe and Troy, respectively, have been and will be pillaged—in effect—by Achilles, when he collects handsome ransoms for two of the kingdoms’ most prominent inhabitants: Eëtion’s widowed queen, who is Andromache’s mother and dies—apparently in childbirth—shortly afterward; and King Priam’s most heroic son to have died, Hector (Iliad 22.515; 6.425–428; 24.493–502, 572–579). Unlike Achilles’ widow-making strikes, Odysseus’ widow-like outcry indicates that he now is ready to tend to the hurts that his own wartime absence has inflicted on his queen and kingdom.
ístō nûn Zeùs prō̂ta, theō̂n húpatos kaì áristos,
histíē t’ Odusē̂os amúmonos, hḕn aphikánō∙
ē̂ mén toi táde pánta teleíetai hōs agoreúō.
toûd’ autoû lukábantos eleúsetai enthád’ Odusseús,
toû mèn phthínontos mēnós, toû d’ histaménoio.
Let Zeus, highest and best of the gods, now be my witness first;
and the hearth of blameless Odysseus, to which I come.
I swear that all these things will come to pass as I tell you.
Within this very month Odysseus will come here,
as one month ends and the next begins.
In its opening text, Aethon’s prediction—which is “almost the same” as one that he utters to Eumaeus in regard to Odysseus’ return (Odyssey 14.158–162)  —evokes a prophecy that Theoclymenus makes on the basis of a bird omen (Odyssey 17.160–161):
atrekéōs gár toi manteúsomai oud’ epikeúsō.
ístō nûn Zeùs prō̂ta theō̂n xeníē te trápeza
histíē t’ Odusē̂os amúmonos, hḕn aphikánō,
hōs ē̂ toi Oduseùs ḗdē en patrídi gaíēi,
hḗmenos ḕ hérpōn, táde peuthómenos kakà érga,
éstin, atàr mnēstē̂rsi kakòn pántessi phuteúei∙
for I will prophesy to you precisely and will not hold back anything.
Let Zeus, first of the gods, now be my witness—and the table of hospitality
and the hearth of blameless Odysseus, to which I come—
to the fact that Odysseus already is in his fatherland,
staying still or moving while learning of these evil acts,
and he is planting evil for all the suitors.
aì gàr toûto, xeîne, épos tetelesménon eíē∙
tō̂i ke tákha gnoíēs philótētá te pollá te dō̂ra
ex emeû, hōs án tís se sunantómenos makarízoi.
“If only your word would be accomplished, my guest,
then soon you would know my favor and so many gifts
from me that anyone who met you would say that you were blessed.”
That Penelope is equally welcoming to her guests is unsurprising, given the similarity of their circumstances. Like Theoclymenus, who has fared away from his fatherland, Hyperesia (Odyssey 15.224, 272, 252–256), Odysseus journeys far from his home during much of the Odyssey; and, even when he is home, his beggar disguise distances him from his customary way of life. Moreover, both men bring Penelope happy news. While Aethon actually is not a mántis and merely can attest to alter ego Odysseus’ intention to emerge on Ithaca, Theoclymenus is inspired to prophesy the tremendous penalty Odysseus will exact from the suitors there once he is fully aware of their wicked acts. The extent of this penalty becomes clear in the vision that this prophet shares with the suitors the day after Penelope interviews Aethon:
â deiloí, tí kakòn tóde páskhete; nuktì mèn huméōn
eilúatai kephalaí te prósōpá te nérthe te goûna,
oimōgḕ dè dédēe, dedákruntai dè pareiaí,
haímati d’ errádatai toîkhoi kalaí te mesódmai∙
eidṓlōn dè pléon próthuron, pleíē dè kaì aulḗ,
hieménōn Érebósde hupò zóphon∙ ēélios dè
ouranoû exapólōle, kakḕ d’ epidédromen akhlús.
Hṑs éphath’, hoi d’ ára pántes ep’ autō̂i hēdù gélassan.
toîsin d’ Eurúmakhos, Polúbou páïs, árkh’ agoreúein∙
aphraínei xeînos néon állothen eilēlouthṓs.
“Poor wretches, what is this misfortune that you are suffering?
Your heads and faces and knees below are wrapped up in darkness,
and wailing has burst out, and your cheeks are coated with tears,
and the walls and the pretty pillars are bestrewed with blood!
The entryway is full of phantoms, and the courtyard is filled as well,
[with phantoms] going under the gloom of the netherworld. The sun
has disappeared from the sky, and a foul mist has spread all over!”
Thus he spoke, but all the [suitors] guffawed at him.
And Eurymachus, Polybus’ son, began to speak among them:
“The stranger who just arrived from somewhere else is out of his mind!”
The fact that Theoclymenus witnesses the future is confirmed by the correspondence between components of his vision (the bloody walls and pillars, the crowd of phantoms in the entryway and courtyard, and the foul mist) and actual events (the blood of the suitors spewing in Odysseus’ palace hall, the pile of their corpses beside his courtyard doors, and the stench of the burning sulfur that he uses as a fumigant) (Odyssey 20.354–355, 357; 22.407; 23.49–51). And Aethon, while not having prophet Theoclymenus’ access to the particulars of the suitors’ future retribution, knows at least how Odysseus intends to dispose of these evildoers.
Like Nagy’s focus, Hesiod, Aethon may evoke poet-prophets of old. Yet, his holdover eloquence concerning past events and future events has another source.
geinómenón te ídōsi diotrephéōn basilḗōn,
tō̂i mèn epì glṓssēi glukerḕn kheíousin eérsēn,
toû d’ épe’ ek stómatos rheî meílikha∙ …
and look upon at the moment of his birth,
upon his tongue they pour sweet dew,
and honeyed words flow from his mouth …
As a monarch blessed thus, Odysseus—as the unnamed Cretan and the Cretan Aethon—can call up his own keenly observed accounts of having endured an arduous journey after the Trojan War, as well as articulate eloquently his intention to replenish his realm. As he prepares to take vengeance upon Penelope’s pursuers, he personifies his strategic connection of narration and prediction:
autík’ epeì méga tóxon ebástase kaì íde pántēi,
hōs hót’ anḕr phórmingos epistámenos kaì aoidē̂s
rhēïdíōs etánusse néōi perì kóllopi khordḗn,
hápsas amphotérōthen eüstrephès énteron oiós,
hṑs ár’ áter spoudē̂s tánusen méga tóxon Odusseús.
dexiterē̂i d’ ára kheirì labṑn peirḗsato neurē̂s∙
hē d’ hupò kalòn áeise, khelidóni eikélē audḗn.
mnēstē̂rsin d’ ár’ ákhos géneto méga, pâsi d’ ára khrṑs
etrápeto. Zeùs dè megál’ éktupe sḗmata phaínōn.
grasped the great bow and looked it over on every side—
just as when a man expert in the lyre and in the art of singing
easily stretches a string around a new peg,
after fastening the skillfully twisted strand of sheep gut at both ends—
like so, Odysseus effortlessly strung the great bow.
Then he took it into his right hand and tried out the bowstring,
and it sang well under [his hand], like a swallow in voice.
A great grief now came over the suitors, and the flesh of every one of them
changed color. And Zeus thundered loudly, showing his portents.
Here, Odysseus simultaneously evokes the lyre-playing poets Phemius and Demodocus and signals the imminent fulfillment of the recurrent prediction that Odysseus will return home and kill the suitors, whose execution he initiates with his great bow—an instrument with which he dispenses his justice (Odyssey 1.153–155; 8.261–262, 266; 22.8, 15–16). Moreover, the god who grants him glory for the victories of stringing his bow and hitting his target is Apollo (Odyssey 21.338, 22.5–7)—the only deity who, in addition to being a dread archer, accompanies poetry and inspires prophecy. He himself—in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (ca. 690–640 BCE)—highlights his threefold status, making the following declaration shortly after he is born:
khrḗsō d’ anthrṓpoisi Diòs nēmertéa boulḗn.
and I will prophesy to human beings Zeus’ infallible will.
Odysseus’ invocation—prior to his own completion of a feat of archery—of the similarly poetic and prophetic Apollo becomes even clearer in light of the association of this deity’s archery with pestilence followed by purification. Just as Apollo—with his arrows—inflicts acute illness upon errant communities and gives his surviving devotees the knowledge that they need to cleanse themselves of their offenses and thus to heal,  Odysseus—from his quiver and weapon stores—visits sudden death upon the wicked suitors in his midst and purifies his palatial premises immediately afterward with the aid of his servants (Odyssey 22.8–501). Fittingly, when Odysseus avenges the suitors’ outrages, he does so “on a day consecrated to the archer god.”  With Apollo’s blessings, the arrows of sure-shooting Odysseus find their marks: suitor-intruders, whom he drives away from the doors trapping them in his own home. Once again, then, Odysseus contrasts with Achilles, who dies at the hands of Apollo and Paris, who kill the Phthian with arrows as he tries to invade the gates of Troy.