Zeus in the Odyssey

  Marks, J. 2008. Zeus in the Odyssey. Hellenic Studies Series 31. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Marks.Zeus_in_the_Odyssey.2008.

After the Odyssey

Zeus’ settlement at the end of the Odyssey is meant to be permanent: Odysseus will “be ruler forever” (βασιλευέτω αἰεί, 24.483). Of course, this cannot come to pass literally; even the divinely favored Menelaos must cede Sparta and retire to Elysion (Odyssey 4.561-564). The clear implication is that Odysseus will rule Ithake until his death, at which point his heir will assume power. [1] Zeus’ further stipulation that Ithake is to be peaceful and prosperous (24.486) also implies that Odysseus’ line will proceed through orderly succession from father to son, without the disruptions that result from struggles for power among legitimate brothers, bastards and pretenders.

Indeed the Odyssey elsewhere represents Odysseus’ family as so predisposed. Asked by the disguised Odysseus why no brothers help him to oppose the suitors (16.97-98), Telemachos asserts:

ὧδε γὰρ ἡμετέρην γενεὴν μούνωσε Κρονίων·
μοῦνον Λαέρτην Ἁρκείσιος υἱὸν ἔτικτε,
μοῦνον δ῾ αὖτ’ Ὁδυσῆα πατὴρ τέκεν· αὐτὰρ Ὁδυσσεὺς
μοῦνον ἔμ’ ἐν μεγάροισι τεκὼν λίπεν.
For thus our line the son of Kronos made single:
Laertes was the only son Arkeisios bore,
and again Odysseus was the only son his own father bore; and again Odysseus
bore me only in his halls before he left.

Odyssey 16.117-120

Apart from the simple fact that Telemachos is an only son, this information is superfluous in the immediate context of Book 16, and seems motivated in part by the irony of having the son tell family lore to his own disguised father. But the ornate rhetoric, in particular the jingly anaphora built around moun– ‘only, single’ suggests a more significant function. That function, I shall argue, is to be found in the implications of Telemachos’ statement for the Odyssey’s relationship to non-Homeric traditions.

In this chapter I explore the manner in which non-Homeric Odysseus-traditions realize the hero’s post-Odyssey adventures. Particular attention is paid to three themes that recur in these stories: Odysseus’ exile, his siring of children other than Telemachos, and his death by violence or away from home. The Odyssey rejects these themes explicitly, but nevertheless preserves them in “false” tales and in allusions to discarded narrative possibilities. I then conclude by proposing that that the association of these non-Homeric accounts with major religious centers in west Greece may explain the Odyssey’s need to engage with them.

Odysseus after the Odyssey

The Odyssey’s conception of the journey Odysseus must take after his return is revealed, not at the end of the narrative, but near the middle, in the prophecy the hero receives from Teiresias. Once you have killed the suitors, Teiresias tells Odysseus,

ἔρχεσθαι δὴ ἔπειτα, λαβὼν εὐῆρες ἐρετμόν,
εἰς ὅ κε τοὺς ἀφίκηαι, οἳ οὐκ ἴσασι θάλασσαν . . .
καὶ τότε δὴ γαίηι πήξας εὐῆρες ἐρετμόν,
ῥέξας ἱερὰ καλὰ Ποσειδάωνι ἄνακτι . . .
οἰκαδ᾿ ἀποστείχειν ἔρδειν θ᾿ ἱερὰς ἑκατόμβας
ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι.
Go then, taking a well-made oar,
until you reach those who do not know the sea . . .
and then in the earth fix the well-made oar.
When you have made pleasing sacrifices to lord Poseidon . . .
return home and dedicate sacred hekatombs
to the deathless gods.

Odyssey 11.121-122, 129-130, 132-133 (cf. 23.269-281)

Through the appointed rituals, the hero will bring to an end his protracted conflict with his divine antagonist by entering the god’s service, in which respect Odysseus resembles such figures as Erechtheus. [
4] The transformation of Odysseus’ relationship with Poseidon seems also a necessary precondition of Zeus’ settlement for Ithake in Book 24, since a community of islanders depends naturally on a good relationship with the sea god (as the Phaiakes illustrate in Book 13). And while the predicted journey far inland seems likely to be arduous, no hazards or intrigues are noted, and Odysseus’ safe return is guaranteed.

An important function of this part of Teiresias’ prophecy, I suggest, is to explain the “fact” of the obligatory journey as a mere tidying up of the Odyssey’s own loose ends and to render it otherwise consistent with the themes that are identified with Zeus in the main narrative. In other words, since the larger tradition demands a post-Mnesterophonia voyage, the Odyssey realizes that voyage in terms that help to bring closure without pointing the way to a new series of adventures. The voyage likewise has no connection with the killing of the suitors, in which respect Odysseus is again assimilated to Zeus’ Orestes, whose revenge is uncomplicated by guilt, retribution from mortals, or opposition from gods. As Odysseus describes it, the projected journey hints at the exotic locales that the proem associates with the Apologoi (compare 23.267 with 1.3); but Zeus’ settlement circumscribes these adventures by reducing them to the victory lap of a blessed and pious man, leaving no purchase for sequels that would compromise Zeus’ theodicy.

Similarly poor in dramatic possibilities is the death scenario that Teiresias reveals to Odysseus. Again, this scenario, or rather range of scenarios, is linked thematically to Zeus’ settlement (the brackets are meant to preserve significant ambiguities in translation):

θάνατος δέ τοι ἐξ ἁλὸς αὐτῶι
ἀβληχρὸς μάλα τοῖος ἐλεύσεται, ὅς κέ σε πέφνηι
γήραι ὑπὸ λιπαρῶι ἀρημένον· ἀμφὶ δὲ λαοὶ
ὄλβιοι ἔσσονται.
Your own death will be [far from/away from/out of] the sea,
a very [gentle/feeble] sort it will be when it comes, which kills you
when you are worn out by sleek old age; and around you the people
will be prosperous.

Odyssey 11.134b-137a (cf. 23.281-284)

The sympathy between Teiresias’ prophecy and Zeus’ settlement is evident in the stipulation that “the people will be prosperous” when Odysseus dies (cf. 24.486). Further, Teiresias’ scenario of a peaceful death, in old age, and during a time of prosperity, implies the seamless transfer of power from ruler to son, Odysseus to Telemachos, that Zeus’ settlement implies.

An altogether different death-scenario features in a number of the non-Homeric traditions to which I have alluded already. In these accounts, further significant adventures await Odysseus after the Mnesterophonia, including exile, marriage into another royal house, fathering of epigonoi, generalship in another war, and death either violent or abroad. One of the better known of these traditions in antiquity is represented by the Cyclic Telegony:

οἱ μνήστορες ὑπὸ τῶν προσηκόντων θάπτονται. καὶ Ὀδυσσεὺς θύσας Νύμφαις εἰς Ἤλιν ἀποπλεῖ ἐπισκεψόμενος τὰ βουκόλια καὶ ξενίζεται παρὰ Πολυξένωι δῶρόν τε λαμβάνει κρατῆρα, καὶ ἐπὶ τούτωι τὰ περὶ Τροφώνιον [5] καὶ Ἀγαμήδην καὶ Αὐγέαν.

ἔπειτα εἰς Ἰθάκην καταπλεύσας τὰς ὑπὸ Τειρεσίου ῥηθείσας τελεῖ θυσίας. καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα εἰς Θεσπρωτοὺς ἀφικνεῖται καὶ γαμεῖ Καλλιδίκην βασιλίδα τῶν Θεσπρωτῶν.

ἔπειτα πόλεμος συνίσταται τοῖς Θεσπρωτοῖς πρὸς Βρύγους, Ὀδυσσέως [10] ἡγουμένου· ἐνταῦθα Ἄρης τοὺς περὶ τὸν Οδυσσέα τρέπεται, καὶ αὐτῶι εἰς μάχην Ἀθηνᾶ καθίσταται· τούτους μὲν Ἀπόλλων διαλύει. μετὰ δὲ τὴν Καλλιδίκης τελευτὴν τὴν μὲν βασιλείαν διαδέχεται Πολυποίτης Ὀδυσσέως υἱός, αὐτὸς δ᾿ εἰς Ἰθάκην ἀφικνεῖται. κἀν τούτωι Τηλέγονος ἐπὶ ζήτησιν τοῦ πατρὸς πλέων ἀποβὰς εἰς τὴν Ἰθάκην τέμνει τὴν νῆσον· [15] ἐκβοηθήσας δ᾿ Ὀδυσσεὺς ὑπὸ τοῦ παιδὸς ἀναιρεῖται κατ᾿ ἄγνοιαν. Τηλέγονος δ᾿ ἐπιγνοὺς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τό τε τοῦ πατρὸς σῶμα καὶ τὸν Τηλέμαχον καὶ τὴν Πηνελόπην πρὸς τὴν μητέρα μεθίστησιν· ἡ δὲ αὐτοὺς ἀθανάτους ποιεῖ, καὶ συνοικεῖ τῆι μὲν Πηνελόπηι Τηλέγονος, Κίρκηι δὲ Τηλέμαχος.

The suitors are buried by their relations. And Odysseus, having sacrificed to the Nymphs, sails to Elis, intending to look over his herds; and he is entertained by Polyxenos, and receives as a gift a mixing bowl, upon which are the stories of Trophonios [5] and Agamede and Augeas.

Then Odysseus sails to Ithake and performs the sacrifices spoken of by Teiresias. And after this he makes his way to the Thesprotians and marries Kallidike queen of the Thesprotians.

Then war breaks out with the Thesprotians against the Brygoi, and Odysseus [10] serves as commander; then Ares puts to flight those around Odysseus, and Athene engages him [Ares] in battle; but Apollo parts them. Afterward Kallidike dies, and Polypoites, Odysseus’ son [by her], receives the kingdom, and Odysseus himself makes his way to Ithake. At this point Telegonos, on a voyage in search of his father, reaches Ithake and attacks the island; [15] and when Odysseus comes to the defense, he is killed by his own son, who acts in ignorance. And Telegonos realizes his mistake and brings his father’s body, along with Telemachos and Penelope, to his mother [Kirke]; and she makes them immortal, and Telegonos marries Penelope, and Telemachos marries Kirke.

Proklos 101.1-103.20 Bernabé, 109.5-27 Allen

A similar tradition is preserved in “Apollodoros”: Odysseus, after killing the suitors,

θύσας δὲ ᾍδηι καὶ Περσεφόνηι καὶ Τειρεσίαι, πεζῆι διὰ τῆς Ἠπείρου βαδίζων εἰς Θεσπρωτοὺς παραγίνεται καὶ κατὰ τὰς Τειρεσίου μαντείας θυσιάσας ἐξιλάσκεται Ποσειδῶνα. ἡ δὲ βασιλεύουσα τότε Θεσπρωτῶν Καλλιδίκη καταμένειν αὐτὸν ἠξίου τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτῶι δοῦσα. [35] καὶ συνελθοῦσα αὐτῶι γεννᾶι Πολυποίτην. γήμας δὲ Καλλιδίκην Θεσπρωτῶν ἐβασίλευσε καὶ μάχηι τῶν περιοίκων νικᾶι τοὺς ἐπιστρατεύσαντας. Καλλιδίκης δὲ ἀποθανούσης, τῶι παιδὶ τὴν βασιλείαν ἀποδιδοὺς εἰς Ἰθάκην παραγίνεται, καὶ εὑρίσκει ἐκ Πηνελόπης Πολιπόρθην αὐτῶι γεγεννημένον. [36] Τηλέγονος δὲ παρὰ Κίρκης μαθὼν ὅτι παῖς Ὀδυσσέως ἐστίν, ἐπὶ τὴν τούτου ζήτησιν ἐκπλεῖ. παραγενόμενος δὲ εἰς Ἰθάκην τὴν νῆσον ἀπελαύνει τινὰ τῶν βοσκημάτων, καὶ Ὀδυσσέα βοηθοῦντα τῶι μετὰ χεῖρας δόρατι Τηλέγονος <τρυγόνος> κέντρον τὴν αἰχμὴν ἔχοντι τιτρώσκει, καὶ Ὀδυσσεὺς θνήσκει. [37] ἀναγνωρισάμενος δὲ αὐτὸν καὶ πολλὰ κατοδυράμενος, τὸν νεκρὸν <καὶ> τὴν Πηνελόπην πρὸς Κίρκην ἄγει, κἀκεῖ τὴν Πενηελόπην γαμεῖ. Κίρκη δὲ ἑκατέρους αὐτοὺς εἰς Μακάρων νήσους ἀποστέλλει.

“Apollodoros” Epitome 7.34-37

Though it has no part in Homeric tradition, Telegonos’ story did evolve sufficiently to take a variety of forms, including references in Hesiodic epic and Attic tragedy. [6] Again, even if these specific accounts post-date the Odyssey, the latter at least evinces awareness of similar themes. [7] On the one hand, this awareness is betrayed through wholesale de-authorization, as in the case of Telemachos’ assertion and Zeus’ settlement. But the Odyssey also appears to target themes specific to antithetical versions of its hero’s story.

In the Cretan tales, the disguised Odysseus tells Eumaios, and later Penelope, that he has recently visited Thesprotia and there received information about “Odysseus” (the disguised Odysseus’ third-person representation of himself):

ἔνθα με Θεσπρωτῶν βασιλεὺς ἐκομίσσατο Φείδων . . .
ἔνθ᾿ Ὀδυσῆος ἐγὼ πυθόμην· κεῖνος γὰρ ἔφασκε
ξεινίσαι ἠδὲ φιλῆσαι ἰόντ᾿ ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν·
καί μοι κτήματ᾿ ἔδειξεν, ὅσα ξυναγείρατ᾿ Ὀδυσσεύς . . .
τὸν δ᾿ ἐς Δωδώνην φάτο βήμεναι, ὄφρα θεοῖο
ἐκ δρυὸς ὑψικόμοιο Διὸς βουλὴν ἐπακούσηι,
ὅππως νοστήσηι Ἰθάκης ἐς πίονα δῆμον,
ἤδη δὴν ἀπεών, ἢ ἀμφαδὸν ἦε κρυφηδόν.330
ὤμοσε δὲ πρὸς ἔμ᾿ αὐτόν, ἀποσπένδων ἐνὶ οἴκωι,
νῆα κατειρύσθαι καὶ ἐπαρτέας ἔμμεν ἑταίρους,
οἳ δή μιν πέμψουσι φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν.
There the king of the Thesprotians, Pheidon, entertained me . . .
there I myself heard about Odysseus; for he kept saying
that he had hosted Odysseus and treated him kindly as he was going to his paternal land;
and he showed me possessions that Odysseus had gathered . . .
and he said that he had gone to Dodona, so that from the god’s
lofty-leafed oak he might learn the plan of Zeus (Dios boulē),
how he would return home to the rich people of Ithake,
having already been away for a long time, either openly or in secret. [330]
And he [Pheidon] swore to me myself as he was pouring libations in his house,
that a ship had been drawn down [to the sea] and comrades were ready,
who will send him to his own paternal land.

Odyssey 14.316, 321-323, 327-333 (cf. 19.195-202; 14.325-330~19.294-299)

Such a mission would be plausible to Homeric audiences since historical Dodona was the site of a well-known oracle of Zeus. The question that “Odysseus” is to ask Zeus’ tree-oracle at Dodona, regarding how he should arrive on Ithake, is reproduced in Teiresias’ prophecy, which also admits the possibility of Odysseus’ “open” return (again, ἠὲ δόλωι ἢ ἀμφαδὸν ὀξέι χαλκῶι, 11.120; cf. 14.330=19.299). Likewise, Nestor suggests to Telemachos that his father may return and exact tisis from the suitors “either alone or all the Achaians as well” (ἢ ὅ γε μοῦνος ἐὼν ἢ καὶ σύμπαντες Ἀχαοιοί, 3.217). [
9] What “Odysseus” is apparently pondering in these lying tales is the possibility of returning at the head of an army, for Pheidon has offered ships and men to aid in his repatriation. He is however leaving it to Zeus to decide the terms of his return, which is to say that control over the course of this ersatz Odyssey rests, as over that of the main narrative, with Zeus.

A distinguishing characteristic of these “false” and non-Homeric accounts is a messy, “real-world” staging and outcome of Odysseus’ return, which again stands in contrast with Zeus’ eklēsis. This “false” scenario corresponds to a recurrent theme in ancient Greek myth and history: an ousted king or tyrant has himself reinstalled by the military forces of a neighboring ruler. Such a return is a recipe for a fleeting victory and a protracted struggle, on analogy of for instance the Theban saga or the career of the Peisistratids in historical Athens.

These messy, real-world themes include Odysseus’ exile. According to another passage from “Apollodoros”:

εἰσὶ δὲ οἱ λέγοντες ἐγκαλούμενον Ὀδυσσέα ὑπὸ τῶν οἰκείων ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀπολωλότων δικαστὴν Νεοπτόλεμον λαβεῖν τὸν βασιλεύοντα τῶν κατὰ τὴν Ἤπειρον νήσων, τοῦτον δέ, νομίσαντα ἐκποδὼν Ὀδυσσέως γενομένου Κεφαλληνίαν καθέξειν, κατακρῖναι φυγὴν αὐτοῦ, Ὀδυσσέα δὲ εἰς Αἰτωλίαν πρὸς Θόαντα τὸν Ἀνδραίμονος παραγενόμενον τὴν τούτου θυγατέρα γῆμαι, καὶ καταλιπόντα παῖδα Λεοντοφόνον ἐκ ταύτης γηραιὸν τελευτῆσαι.

But some say that Odysseus was prosecuted by the [suitors’] kin because of the dead, and that he took Neoptolemos, king of the islands around Epeiros, as judge, and that the latter, thinking that, with Odysseus out of the way, he would lay hold of Kephallenia, pronounced a judgment of exile, on account of which Odysseus came to Aitolia to Thoas, son of Andraimon, married his daughter, and, having left behind a child begotten of her, Leontophonos, died of old age.

“Apollodoros” Epitome 7.40

A fragment from the Aristotelian Constitution of the Ithakans preserves a related account:

τῶι Ὀδυσσεῖ μετὰ τὴν μνηστηροφονίαν οἱ ἐπιτήδειοι τῶν τεθνηκότων ἐπανέστησαν, [20] μεταπεμφθεὶς δ᾿ ὑπ᾿ ἀμφοτέρων διαιτητὴς Νεοπτόλεμος ἐδικαίωσε τὸν μὲν Ὀδυσσέα μεταναστῆναι καὶ φεύγειν ἐκ τῆς Κεφαλληνίας καὶ Ζακύνθου καὶ Ἰθάκης ἐφ᾿ αἵματι, τοὺς δὲ τῶν μνηστήρων ἑταίρους καὶ οἰκείους ἀποφέρειν ποινὴν Ὀδυσσεῖ τῶν εἰς τὸν οἶκον ἀδικημάτων καθ᾿ ἕκαστον ἐνιαυτόν. [25] αὐτὸς μὲν οὖν εἰς Ἰταλίαν μετέστη, τὴν δὲ ποινὴν τῶι υἱῶι καθιερώσας ἀποφέρειν ἐκέλευσε τοὺς Ἰθακησίους· ἦν δ᾿ ἄλφιτα, οἶνος, κηρία, ἔλαιον, ἅλες, ἱερεῖα πρεσβύτερα φαγίλων. . . . τοὺς δὲ περὶ Εὔμαιον ἐλευθερώσας ὁ Τηλέμαχος κατέμιξεν [30] εἰς τοὺς πολίτας καὶ τὸ γένος ἐστὶ Κολιαδῶν ἀπ᾿ Εὐμαίου καὶ Βουκολιδῶν ἀπὸ Φιλοιτίου.

After the killing of the suitors the relations of the dead rose up against Odysseus, [20] and Neoptolemos was sent for as an arbitrator by both sides and he gave a judgment that Odysseus was to depart and go into exile from Kephallenia and Zakynthos and Ithake for the killing, and that the companions and relations of the suitors were to pay yearly damages to Odysseus for the injustices done to his house. [25] He himself therefore moved to Italy, and transferred the payments to his son, ordering the Ithakans to bring them to him. These were grain, wine, honeycombs, olive oil, salt, and sacrificial animals. . . . And Telemachos freed those associated with Eumaios and mingled [30] them with the citizens; and the Koliad clan is descended from Eumaios, the Boukolid clan from Philoitios.

Aristotle Constitution of the Ithakans fr. 507 Rose (= Plutarch Moralia 294D)

As in the Telegony, Odysseus departs, marries into the royal family, and fathers epigonoi; here, however, he does not return. [
12] Most importantly, the present passages make explicit that Odysseus departs Ithake as a direct consequence of the Mnesterophonia.

We are now in a position to appreciate a further dimension of Odysseus’ death scenario as outlined by Teiresias in Book 11. As discussed, the seer generally reinforces the terms of Zeus’ settlement, but his account of Odysseus’ death retains ambiguities that suggest awareness of non-Homeric themes. Thus Teiresias does not make clear whether Odysseus dies on Ithake (though οἴκαδε at 11.132 could imply this) or elsewhere, thereby leaving open such possibilities as exile to Aitolia or Italy. Similar possibilities inhere in the prediction that the hero’s death will be ἀβληχρός (135). This adjective is usually translated as “gentle” here, but elsewhere seems to mean “feeble” or “easily penetrated,” [15] and thus could equally describe the old Odysseus dying at Telegonos’ hands on an Ithakan beach. Lastly, Teiresias predicts that Odysseus’ demise will come ἐξ ἁλός (134), a prepositional phrase that can mean either “far from the sea” or “out of the sea.” Teiresias’ prophecy therefore can be reconciled either (1) with “Apollodoros”’ Aitolian account, since Thoas’ court could be conceived of as “far from the sea” at the inland Aitolian royal city of Kalydon, or (2) with the Telegony, in that Telegonos’ attack comes from “out of the sea,” or even (3) with the scenario in which a spine from a creature “from out of the sea,” the stingray, is responsible for Odysseus’ demise. [16] What Teiresias perceives, according to the model I am advancing, are realizations of the “facts” that remain possible in the notional moment before Zeus has translated them into narrative reality.

The Odyssey and west Greek epichoric tradition

It is then my argument that the geographical references to west Greece in these non-Homeric Odysseus stories, and in the Odyssey’s “false” stories, suggest that the region may have been a locus of particularly vigorous epichoric Odysseus-traditions. While the relationship between poetical and “real” geography need not be so transparent, it is nevertheless unsurprising to find Odysseus-tradition flourishing in the area of the hero’s reputed homeland. The considerable body of non-Homeric literary evidence, as well as material evidence, allows for a fairly detailed examination of the relationship between the west Greek references in the Odyssey and the kinds of epichoric and proto-Panhellenic traditions with which the Homeric narrative may have engaged.

My purpose here is not to assess the accuracy of the Homeric view of west Greece. Rather, I survey the region with an eye to contexts in which stories about Odysseus may have been performed and disseminated. Admittedly, the evidence discussed here allows for a number of plausible reconstructions, but it is nevertheless possible to recover at least the broad outlines of the shadowy traditions that, by my interpretation, exerted a significant influence on the Homeric conception of Odysseus. Ithake not surprisingly offers abundant connections with the hero. I further propose that Thesprotia and Aitolia appear as important settings in accounts of Odysseus’ non-Homeric exile, and in de-authorized accounts of Odysseus in the Odyssey, because of the associations of these regions with the two major religious centers in ancient west Greece, the oracle of Zeus at Dodona and the cult of Zeus at Olympia, sites that could have served as the foci of regional Odysseus-traditions.


Lastly, Greek travelers from further afield, a truly Panhellenic constituency, may have had the opportunity to experience Ithakan performance traditions. Narratives developing at nominally Panhellenic sites like Polis Bay and Aetos would however correspond to what I defined in the Introduction as a “proto-Panhellenic” register of the ancient Greek epic tradition. This is because the cults on Ithake itself never achieved the kind of prominence that would allow them to develop and disseminate a narrative tradition comparable in authority to the Homeric Odyssey. Nevertheless, Ithakan traditions could have been sufficiently well-known to have exerted an influence on the Homeric Odyssey, even as they were themselves influenced by it.


Ζεῦ ἄνα Δωδωναῖε Πελασγικέ, τηλόθι ναίων,
Δωδώνης μεδέων δυσχειμέρου, ἀμφὶ δὲ Σελλοί
σοὶ ναίουσ᾿ ὑποφῆται ἀνιπτόποδες χαμαιεῦναι
Zeus lord, Dodonan, Pelasgian, dwelling far off,
ruling Dodona where the winters are harsh; and around the Selloi
dwell, your intepreters, their feet unwashed, sleeping on the ground

Iliad 16.233-235

The reference to “interpreters” (ὑποφῆται) alludes to the status of Zeus’ Dodonan cult as an oracle. That the oracle is assumed to be known to audiences of the Iliad is implicit in the fact that Achilleus, though his homeland is on the opposite side of the mainland, invokes Zeus by a west-Greek cult title, and is aware of peculiar practices of the priests of this cult. [
31] The distinctive priesthood in the Iliad complements, rather than conflicts with, the prophetic trees referred to in the Odyssey, since both seem to have been aspects of the “real” cult of Zeus at Dodona. [32]

It is in fact unusual that the Odyssey represents the cult of Zeus at Dodona as already being in operation in the time of the Trojan War. More commonly, “epic distancing” seems to motivate Homeric suppression of cult sites assumed by Greeks to have developed after the Trojan War, such as Delphi and Olympia. Relevant perhaps is the fact that Dodona was among the places believed in antiquity to have been the original Greek homeland. [33] It is in any case striking that Dodona is one of only two major historical Greek religious sites referred to as such in the Homeric epics. [34] The belief in the reputed antiquity of the oracle at Dodona does not, however, seem to reflect the actual history of the site. The archaeological record is somewhat confused, but it appears that Dodona was little frequented until the eighth century. From this point the site became increasingly popular, and by the latter part of the seventh century there are signs of regional, even Panhellenic, activity, in the form of bronze dedications from Corinth and perhaps Crete. [35] By the end of the Archaic period, Dodona’s renown as an oracular site was comparable with that of Delphi, along with which it seems to have formed part of an early festival circuit. [36] [37] The Thesprotian oracle of the dead at Ephyre was less prominent in ancient Greek life than was Zeus’ oracle at Dodona, but it did come to attract a Panhellenic constituency. This oracle, probably to be identified with a site some 30 miles southeast of Dodona, near where the river Acheron empties into the sea (cf. Thucydides 1.46.4), is not referred to as such in the Homeric epics, but is rather described as a community whose leaders have guest-friendships with local Greek heroes. It is at Ephyre that Odysseus is said to obtain arrow-poison (Odyssey 1.259-262); and it is from Ephyre, “by the river Selleis” (cf. the “Selloi” in Achilleus’ prayer) that the Elean hero Phyleus obtains armor for his son Meges, who in the Trojan War leads the contingent from nearby Doulichion (Iliad 15.528-531). [38]

Aitolia and Elis

In a sense, then, Eleans could lay claim to two sets of heroes, Aitolians and a less impressive group of native sons. In the Iliad, the Eleans, who are regularly called “Epeioi” (see 2.615-624), play a minor role at Troy, where at least two of the ἄρχοντες Ἐπείων fall in battle (Diores at 4.517, Amphimachos at 13.185). The Homeric Elean-Epeians remain tied closely to west Greece. Thus an Elean exile, the aforementioned Meges, leads the contingent from the nearby island of Doulichion (2.625-630); and Nestor recalls Elean games in which his father participated (11.686~698), and others in which he himself and other Pylians, Epeians, and Aitolians took part (at the funeral of the Epeian leader Amarynkeus, 23.630-42), as well as an epic struggle between Pylians and Eleans (11.670-761).

The Odyssey appears to engage with Elean themes in a manner similar to its engagement with Thesprotian ones: Elis surfaces mainly in “false” tales and paths not taken. [50] There are no Elean characters in the Odyssey, but in the Cretan tales the disguised Odysseus at one point names Elis as his intended destination (13.275), and the disguised Athene claims a debt is owed her there (in a variant reading for 3.367). As for paths not taken, Eupeithes worries, needlessly, that Odysseus will flee to Elis (24.430-431, quoted in Chapter 3); and, again, Elis is Odysseus’ first stop on his post-Odyssey journey in the Telegony (102.4-6 Bernabé, 109.7-10 Allen). It is not however clear to where in Elis these passages refer. [51] Olympia is not named in Homeric (or Hesiodic or Cyclic) epic, though this may again be attributable to “epic distancing.” If so, the distancing seems incomplete. Nestor’s aforementioned references to games “in godly Elis” (ἐν Ἤλιδι δίηι, Iliad 11.686, 698; cf. 2.615) suggest awareness of some version of the Olympic festival. [52] Also of potential significance is the Ithakan Noemon’s statement in the Odyssey that he keeps horses in Elis (4.635-636), since Ithake is unsuitable for the animals (4.601-608), whereas Elis is “horse-nurturing” (ἱπποβότοιο, 21.347), Noemon’s stable may allude to equestrian events at the Olympics. [53] Lastly, since all the characters connected with these events hail from west Greece, the Homeric epics could reflect a time when Olympia attracted a mainly regional constituency.

West Greek epichoric tradition

Chapter conclusions

Wherever possible, the fully Panhellenic narratives exploit strategies of inclusion, or obfuscation, in order to gloss over potential conflicts with epichoric traditions. Thus Teiresias’ ambiguous account of Odysseus’ death and the uncertain fate of the Phaiakes appear to leave open narrative possibilities inconsistent with Odyssean thematics. In the case of west Greek traditions about Odysseus’ return from Troy, I propose, the inconsistencies were too fundamental, and the conflicting traditions too influential, to allow for inclusion or obfuscation, for which reason the Odyssey exploits another strategy, de-authorization through recontextualization. By framing as lies accounts of Odysseus’ return in which he wanders “real” ancient Greece, takes control of Ithake through outright assault, and suffers exile, the Homeric account undermines traditions in which the hero’s wander- and bloodlust deny him the opportunity to live happily ever after in accordance with the poem’s larger themes.

What the Cretan tales and the paths suggested but not taken in the Odyssey seem to construct, then, is a non-Homeric Odysseus, one whose journey takes him from Troy to places like Crete, Egypt, and Phoenicia (perhaps receiving the aid of the metrically equivalent Phoinikes instead of the Phaiakes), as well as Thesprotia, Dodona, and at last Ithake, where his undisguised return issues in exile and an ignominious death. Not surprisingly, one of the themes lacking from these accounts is a Dios boulē.

Zeus’ absence from the non-Homeric material may seem to problematize my association of these putative west Greek traditions with cult sites dedicated to him. However, not every narrative performed at a festival made conspicuous homage to the festival’s patron deity. Thus, for example, though Athene is considerably less prominent in the Iliad than she is in the Odyssey, there remain strong arguments for associating both poems with the Panathenaia festival at Athens.61 Further, from the perspective developed in this and the preceding chapter, Zeus’ absence is consistent with the real-world, political orientation of the themes of exile and epigonoi, mundane concerns with which the epic Zeus normally plays no part, except when dealing with his own offspring.

A further consideration is that, if the equation of divine plan and narrative plan is as I propose specific to the Panhellenic register of ancient Greek epic, a Dios boulē theme would be out of place in narratives that were not compelled make the kind of narrative decisions I ascribe to the Panhellenic, and Panhellenizing, Zeus. It is in this respect noteworthy that the subordinate Olympians Athene, Ares, and Apollo seem to conduct themselves in the non-Homeric Telegony much as they do in the Iliad (cf. Proklos 102.11-12 Bernabé, quoted above), only without the direction or arbitration of Zeus. Conversely, Zeus’ only appearance in the Homeric passages discussed in this chapter is as the offstage oracular voice of Dodona in the Cretan tales, where he is invoked in order to define the parameters of the “false” plot, that is, to determine whether Odysseus will return openly or in secret. This function, I propose, is a specifically Panhellenic one. I shall be arguing in the next chapter that another account of the aftermath of the Trojan War in the Odyssey, one told by Nestor to Telemachos, also presents Zeus in a role analogous to that which he plays in the main narrative, as the guiding force behind the narrative decisions that reduce the mass of epichoric stories about returning Greek heroes to a Panhellenic synthesis that reinforces Homeric themes.


[ back ] 1. As is for instance the case with Aeneas: νῦν δὲ δὴ Αἰνείαο βίη Τρώεσσι ἀνάξει/καὶ παίδων παῖδες, τοί κεν μετόπισθε γένωνται, Iliad 20.307-308; similarly Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 196-197.

[ back ] 2. Again, cf. Aineias, whose family is similarly characterized (at least until Romulus and Remus); Iliad 20.215-240. “Unilineal descent” here refers to the male line, along which family inheritance normally descended in ancient Greek literature and society; Odysseus does have a sister (Odyssey 15.363).

[ back ] 3. Thus Lord 1960:182-183 observes that “everything in oral tradition points to the conclusion that . . . there should be departure from Penelope and another visit to that strange world from which the hero had been rescued or released.”

[ back ] 4. Odysseus’ propitiation of Poseidon is in part a dramatization of the spread of the god’s cults; thus Malkin 1998:120-126; Nagy 1990a:231-232; Heubeck CHO 2:84-85 ad 11.121-37; Hartmann 1917:73-75, 91. On Erechtheus, Poseidon, and Odysseus, see Cook 1995:128-170.

[ back ] 5. The conjecture is based on such evidence as scholia to Odyssey 11.134. The Odyssey may allude to this tradition when Odysseus, after being wrecked by Poseidon, fears a god will send a sea monster against him (κῆτος, 5.421); note also the potential pun in the name of one of Odysseus’ adversaries in the Apologoi, the Laistrygones (Λαιστρυγόνες).

[ back ] 6. Theogony 1011-1014; see Frazer 1921 v. 2:303-305n2 for further references. Telemachos’ absence from some of these accounts is consistent with traditions in which he leaves home to marry Nausikaa and live with the Phaiakes, on which see further below.

[ back ] 7. Thus Kullmann 1980:76-79 suggests that the Telegony and Odyssey draw on conflicting alte Motive. A relatively early date for the former is supported by, e.g. Malkin 1998:126-133; Danek 1997:286; Schwartz 1924:134-156.

[ back ] 8. My argument here parallels that of Malkin 1998:125-134 (quote from 125), who, drawing on the work of Merkelbach, proposes that the Cretan tales “may ‘argue against’ other versions of the Odyssey or may simply reflect them as (ironic and intertextual?) alternatives.” Reece 1994 offers an analysis of the Cretan tales in terms that, while similar, rely on neither Merkelbach’s multiple-poet theory nor Malkin’s early dating of the Odyssey (“the Odyssey, as we know it, existed in the ninth century,” 45).

[ back ] 9. The Odyssey’s “false” story of Odysseus’ Thesprotian visit prior to killing the suitors may also help to explicate the fragmentary Telegony, since it suggests a previously-established relationship with the Thesprotians as the reason why the hero takes up residence there, rather than in Elis, his first stop after leaving Ithake.

[ back ] 10. On the Aitolian liar’s tale as a “false” Odyssey, see Marks 2003:214-217.

[ back ] 11. Note the undercurrent of class distinction here: the split between Odysseus and the rest of the Ithakans in attitudes toward Thesprotians is reproduced in the contrast between the positive valorization of king Pheidon in stark contrast with his subjects.

[ back ] 12. Eustathios 1796.50-51 cites an account in which Leontophonos (also known as Doryklos) is Odysseus’ son by a Thesprotian named Euippe, and attributes to Sophokles a play in which the son is called Euryalos; cf. Parthenios Romances 3; Pausanias 8.12.5-7 (quoted in Chapter 1); see Hartmann 1917:206 for a tabulation, and 140-143 on Odysseus’ exile. Other sons of Odysseus include Agrios and Latinos (by Kirke) and Nausithoos and Nausinoos (by Kalypso), Hesiod Theogony 1011-1018. The aforementioned version that includes the marriage of Nausikaa and Telemachos (e.g. Hesiod fr. 221 MW) can explain why Odysseus finds Poliporthes, not Telemachos, on his second return to Ithake, since the Phaiakian custom seems to be for the husband to relocate to the wife’s oikos (cf. Odyssey 6.244-245). The statement by “Apollodoros” that Odysseus “left behind” a son (καταλιπόντα, Epitome 7.40), could imply physical departure (LSJ s.v. 1), but there is no indication that the hero leaves Aitolia in this strand of the myth.

[ back ] 13. Odysseus and Thoas appear alternatively as allies and antagonists in Cyclic and Hesiodic epic; their relationship is the subject of Marks 2003.

[ back ] 14. Neoptolemos’ hostility here recreates that between his father Achilleus and Odysseus (e.g. Odyssey 8.75-82, Iliad 19.155-237); cf. Malkin 1998:101-102, 127-128; Nagy 1979:15-25. The Odyssey may be specifically undermining the possibility of a role for Neoptolemos in Odysseus’ post-Odyssey life when it has him preparing to rule his father’s kingdom in east Greece (4.5-9).

[ back ] 15. Homeric ἀβληχρός: Aphrodite’s hand pierced by Diomedes, Iliad; 5.337, Hektor’s assessment of the Greek fortifications, Iliad 8.178. Peradotto 1990:66 and 74 discusses the consequences of various translations of the adjective at Odyssey 11.135.

[ back ] 16. Ancient interpretations of ἐξ ἁλός at Odyssey 11.134 are surveyed by Bernabé 1987:104-105 ad Telegonia fr. 4; cf. Frazer 1921 v. 2:304n2. Malkin’s 1998:120-125 conclusions about this verse and the development of Thesprotian and Arkadian traditions in relation to a fixed Odyssey seem not to take into account the ambiguity of the phrase, which is nevertheless preserved in his translation (121). See Burgess 2001:153-154 for the Odyssey’s acknowledgement of the parallel traditions embraced by this ambiguity. Representative further discussion in Heubeck CHO 2:86 ad 11.134b-7; Nagy 1990b:214; Stanford 1965 v. 1:387 ad 11.134-5; Schwartz 1924:140-141; Hartmann 1917:73-75.

[ back ] 17. Malkin 1998:123-125 contrasts Zeus’ erasure of memory in Odyssey 24 with “realistic options of exile.”

[ back ] 18. A point emphasized by Antonaccio 1995:153-155.

[ back ] 19. Activity seems to have ceased by the Roman period; Strabo (1.3.18) states that the Odyssean cave of the nymphs had by his day been lost owing to changes in the landscape. Antonaccio’s (1995:152-155) argument that Odysseus-cult on Ithake is Hellenistic is effectively refuted by Malkin 1998:99-107. The latter’s conviction that the dedications were made by people familiar with Homeric poetry is in turn refuted by Cook 2000; cf. Mazarakis Ainian 1997:310; Coldstream 1977:182-184, and 347 for the conclusion that “Odysseus could have been venerated . . . in [his] own land . . . quite independently of epic influence.”

[ back ] 20. As suggested by Morgan 1988:309.

[ back ] 21. Mazarakis Ainian 1997:114, 241 and 309 discusses the case for identifying Odyssey 21.267-268 with cult activity at Aetos.

[ back ] 22. A link between the Aetos and Polis Bay sites is suggested by Malkin 1998:112-113, citing Morgan 1988:315 and Waterhouse 1996:309; Malkin also cites the Aristotelian passage apropos of the tripod dedications at Polis Bay (101-102).

[ back ] 23. Malkin 1998:62-93.

[ back ] 24. Thus for example Coldstream 1977:184 describes dedications brought “from all points on the compass” to Aetos, and Malkin 1998:114 describes Polis Bay as “a local Ithacan shrine that acquired an ‘international’ dimension,” and (116) Aetos as a “major sanctuary.” Morgan 1988:315, on the other hand, while concluding that Polis Bay was “an established cult place through the earlier Iron Age, and probably continued as such into the eighth century,” is skeptical about the extent of cult activity at Aetos.

[ back ] 25. A parallel phenomenon can be observed in modern Indic epic; see Blackburn 1989, in particular his argument (21-30) that Indic oral epics tend to de-emphasize death and deification of heroes as their range extends from local to “pan-Indian,” which parallels the Panhellenic Odyssey’s blurring the issue of its hero’s death.

[ back ] 26. Thomas 1989:100-108, apropos of the transmission of genealogical tradition in Classical Athens, argues that such institutions as funereal sumptuary laws imply that an important aspect of family rituals was display for the community.

[ back ] 27. Thus Malkin 1998:151 argues for “an independent Ithacan version” of Odysseus’ story.

[ back ] 28. Benton:1934-1935 proposes, in part on the evidence of Hellenistic inscriptions, that Ithakans held games in Odysseus’ honor; such games would, on analogy with other festivals (see below on the Olympics), offer a likely context for the performance of poetry. The shortcomings of some of Benton’s arguments, for which see Malkin 1998:99-100; Antonaccio 1995:153-154; Morgan 1988:316, do not in my opinion undermine the main thesis.

[ back ] 29. My model is based in part on Nagy’s (1996:50-56) scheme illustrating relative degrees of Panhellenism.

[ back ] 30. In non-epic contexts, e.g. the “Apollodoros” passages quoted above, roughly the same region is also called Epeiros (cf. Strabo 7.7.5; Parke 1967:11-12), and in the Classical period Molossia, whose kings claimed descent from Neoptolemos; cf. Nostoi 95.13-16 Bernabé, 108.28-109.1 Allen; Pindar Nemea 7.40.

[ back ] 31. The relationship between the Iliad 16 passage and historical Dodona is discussed in Malkin 1998:149-150; Hammond 1967:371-372; and Parke 1967:1-10.

[ back ] 32. For the oracular trees and priests at Dodona see e.g. Hesiod frr. 240, 319 MW; Pindar frr. 57-60 SM; Prometheus Bound 831-835. Parke 1967:20-33 analyzes the complementary relationship between the two aspects of the cult.

[ back ] 33. Thus for example Aristotle Meterologika 352a33-34 speaks of Dodona as ἡ Ἡλλας ἡ ἀρχαία, and Strabo 7.7.5 calls the Dodonan oracle παλαιόν τε καὶ ὀνομαστόν.

[ back ] 34. The other is Delos, referred to as the site of an altar of Apollo at Odyssey 6.162. Some minor cult sites are mentioned, for instance in the Iliadic Catalog of Ships (2.506, 696, etc.).

[ back ] 35. Surveys of the material evidence in Morris 1998:42; Mazarakis Ainian 1997:309; Morgan 1990:148-150; Coldstream 1977:185. Cretan bronzes of course need not have been dedicated by Cretans. That the Dodonans are not part of Odysseus’ northwest Greek kingdom in the Iliad, but rather number among the Epirote contingent (2.748-755, with reference, not to the oracle, but to the area’s hard winters, Δωδώνην δυσχείμερον, 750), is perhaps attributable to the generally confused nature of Odysseus’ kingdom in the Iliad; cf. Kirk IC 1:182-183.

[ back ] 36. Morgan 1990:209, 212-223 traces the festival circuit from beginnings in the eighth century to a “great age of state activity” from the “very end” of the seventh. If as well-known as Delphi, Dodona was not as well-funded; the earliest temple remains date to around 400.

[ back ] 37. There is more than one Homeric Ephyre: the Ephyre referred to as the home of Sisyphos at Iliad 5.152 appears to be another name for Corinth; and scholia record a tradition that distinguishes Thesprotian Ephyre from the Ephyre where Odysseus obtains his poison; see S. West CHO 1:108 ad 1.257ff, Kirk IC 2:177 ad 6.152-3. No Thesprotian contingent appears in the Iliad (see Kirk IC 1 185), though see below on Tlepolemos at Iliad 2.659.

[ back ] 38. Neither Mazarakis Ainian 1997 nor Antonaccio 1995 include Ephyre in their surveys of Early Iron Age religious sites; Janko IC 4:287 ad 15.531 states that “there is no need to assume that Homer knew of the Thesprotian Ephura.” On the other hand, Burkert 1985:114 argues that the oracle “must be of ancient repute,” and that “the association of Odysseus’ journey to Hades with this spot is probably older than our Odyssey.” The material evidence is surveyed by Hammond 1967:65.

[ back ] 39. Strabo (9.2.4 with 13.1.3) relates a story about the oracle set near the time of the Trojan War.

[ back ] 40. Thus Danek 1998:286; Malkin 1998:129. Huxley 1958 relates Odyssey 11 to the Thesprotian oracle, but does not raise the issue of Dodona; cf. also Lord 1960:182. Zeus’ oracle at Dodona also played a role in Sophokles’ Odysseus Akanthoplex (frr. 455, 456, 460, 461 Lloyd-Jones); and Pausanias (9.30.6) reports a local tradition locating Orpheus’ katabasis there.

[ back ] 41. Pausanias (1.17.5) argues that the Homeric account of underworld rivers draws on Thesprotian geography. Apollodoros of Athens (FGrH 244 F 181, 198; cf. Strabo 7.7.10, 8.3.5; Eustathios 315.44) connects the river Selleis and the Selloi priesthood; cf. Hammond 1967:372-374, 379-380; Parke 1967:7-8. The other Homeric Selleis flows into the Hellespont (Iliad 12.97) and is described with the same formula as the Thesprotian river, as Hainsworth IC 3:328 ad 12.96-7 observes.

[ back ] 42. Also suggestive in this context is the tradition, preserved in the late antique compendium of Lucius Ampelius (Liber Memoralis 8, cited by Huxley 1958:246), that visitors to the nekyomanteion on occasion saw Zeus. A link between Zeus and the underworld is also prominent in the myth and cult of Persephone and Demeter; see Mylonas 1961:172, 282-289

[ back ] 43. The site has not however been located definitively; Hammond 1967:708, cf. 382, 393-395, for instance, identifies Trampya with late Archaic remains at Voutonosi.

[ back ] 44. Pausanias 8.12.5. Some argue that Thesprotis is simply another name for the Telegony; see Malkin 1998:126-127 and Davies 1988:156; at any rate, most editors of the Epic Cycle fragments do not include a Thesprotis. My arguments here, however, could be adduced in support of a distinction between a relatively more epichoric Thesprotis and a relatively more Panhellenic Telegony; and I note that the Cyclic Kypria, which takes its name from the island of Cyprus (Burkert 1992:103 and 207n10), offers a precedent for the formation of an epic’s title from its place of origin.

[ back ] 45. GDI 5786, quoted and discussed by Graziosi 2002:25-27.

[ back ] 46. Sch. Vet. to Lykophron 799=Aristotle fr. 508 Rose: μάντιν δὲ νεκρὸν Εὐρυτὰν στέψει λεώς· Ἀριστοτέλης φησὶν ἐν Ἰθακησίων πολιτείαι Εὐρυτάνας ἔθνος εἶναι τῆς Αἰτωλίας ὀνομασθὲν ἀπὸ Εὐρύτονος, παρ᾿ οἷς εἶναι μαντεῖον Ὀδυσσέως. Discussion of the passage in Malkin 1998:125-128; Hammond 1967:385; Hartmann 1917:139-140.

[ back ] 47. For this conclusion about Archaic and Classical Aitolia see Coldstream 1977:184-187. Thucydides at one point (3.94.4-5) characterizes Aitolians of his day as primitive and poorly-organized, though perhaps with malice since he does so apropos of their sound defeat of an invading Athenian army.

[ back ] 48. “Aitolian” themes are not, however, limited to Elean epichoric tradition: Aitolians figured in the Athenian “Choes” festival (see Burkert 1983:222-223); the Phokians claimed that the cult statue in their temple of Athene was brought from Troy by the Aitolian hero Thoas (Pausanias 10.38.5); and the tomb of the Aitolian hero Endymion was claimed by Heraklea in Karia (Pausanias 5.1.4). Nevertheless, the number of connections in the available evidence suggests that Elean tradition drew significantly more on mythic Aitolia than did other Greek regions.

[ back ] 49. Similarly Malkin 1998:131, citing Ballabriga 1989, connects Thesprotia and Elis in the Odyssey with Odyssean “sequels and alternatives.”

[ back ] 50. The Elean Catalog of Ships entry is similarly vague, listing not cities but regions; cf. Kirk IC 1:218-219 ad 2.615-617.

[ back ] 51. A connection between the games Nestor describes at Iliad 11.698-702 and the Olympics was made in antiquity (e.g. Strabo 8.3.30; cf. Pherekydes 3 FGrH 118); cf. Raaflaub 1997:2-3; Bölte 1934:319-347.

[ back ] 52. The epithet ἱπποβότοιο ‘horse-nurturing’ is used only of Elis, Argos, and Trike in Homeric epic. Interestingly, Noemon’s claim that he keeps mules as well seems to conflict with a belief that mules could not be conceived there (Herodotos 4.30); see Nagy 1990a:336 on the significance of mules for the ideology of the Olympics.

[ back ] 53. Among the many other versions: Aitolos’ father Endymion founds Elis (Pausanias 5.1.4, 5.8.1-9.5; “Apollodoros” Bibliotheke 1.7.5); Diomedes is linked with the return of the Herakleidai to Aitolia (Strabo 7.7.7), and Aitolos is killed by the Aitolians (9.3.12); his great-grandson Oxylos takes over Elis (BCDEQ scholia to Pindar Olympian 3.12; “Apollodoros” Bibliotheke 1.7.7). Ostensible founders of the Olympian festival include, in roughly (mythical) chronological order: Kronos and Zeus (Pausanias 8.2.2), Endymion (Pausanias 5.1.4; cf. 6.20.9), Aitolos (Strabo 8.3.33), Iphitos (Strabo 8.3.33), Oxylos (Pausanias 1.4.5, 5.4.5, 5.8.5), Pelops (Pindar Olympian 1.18-24), Peisos (Phlegon FGrH 257 F 1), Herakles (Pindar Olympian 2.3-4, on which see Nagy 1990a:119-120; Lysias 23.1; Pausanias 5.7.6, 8.1, 13.8; 14.7. 2; “Apollodoros” Bibliotheke 2.7.2). Another genealogy makes Thoas son of Andraimon the grandfather of Oxylos and brother-in-law of Herakles’ son Hyllos (Pausanias 5.3.6-7).

[ back ] 54. The A scholion to Pindar’s ode cites Hellanikos and Asklepiades as the authority for the explanation that the Hellanodikai traced their offices to Oxylos; the BCDEQ scholia begin simply “Aitolian for Elean” (Αἰτωλὸς ἀντὶ τοῦ Ἠλεῖος) and proceed to summarize the story of Oxylos’ takeover of Elis.

[ back ] 55. On the development of Olympia as a Panhellenic site, see Mazarakis Ainian 1997:323; Morgan 1990:9, 49-56, 1993:20-27; Mallwitz 1988; Coldstream 1977:338-339.

[ back ] 56. Evidence for poetic performances at the Olympics (and other Panhellenic festivals) is scanty and late, such as Diodoros’ (14.109) account of rhapsodic performances in the Classical period, on which see Weeber 1991:52-55. Nevertheless, many scholars conclude that such performances were integrated into the festival earlier, for example Raschke 2002:5-6; Swaddling 1980:37. The lying Aitolian in Odyssey 14 may hint at an Odysseus-Olympia connection when he predicts the hero’s return at the summer harvest (14.384): this seasonal setting conflicts with the main narrative of the Odyssey, which is informed by themes associated with year-end rituals (on which see Chapter 3), but is consistent with the timing of the Olympic festival (see Lee 2001:7 with bibliography).

[ back ] 57. Morgan 1990:191-194 argues that Delphi and Olympia developed in competition; she also notes (208) that “Athens was the earliest state to follow Olympia so closely in the formation of its main civic festival,” a point of significance for the development of the Odyssey in an Attic performance context; see further below.

[ back ] 58. Representative arguments in Nagy 2002; Ford 1997:86-89.

[ back ] 59. There is some material evidence for what could be termed a “west Greek consciousness” in this period. Coldstream 1977:187, for instance, identifies a “collective West Greek character” in Geometric pottery from Elis to Epiros; Morgan 1990:89-90 suggests that Dodona and Elis were visited by the same kinds of people; in 1993:20 and 38n11 she also observes that offerings at Olympia and Dodona are similar in the eighth century and that, since the material at Dodona is still largely unpublished, this may be true for the Archaic period as well. Hammond 1967:429 and 433 argues that Elean colonists enjoyed a close relationship with Dodona. Historians are not unanimous on the subject; Morris 1998:42 and 55, for example, separates Dodona from Olympia in his four “broad zones of material culture that seem to be very old” (11; note however that the overlap between the Elean and Thesprotian zones in his Figure 1 extends almost to Dodona).

[ back ] 60. Thus the suitors mention Sicilian slave traders (Odyssey 20.383), and the lying Odysseus claims at one point to be “Sikanian” (24.307).

[ back ] 61. On the relationship between Homeric poetry and the Panathenaia see Nagy 2002:7-35 and Ritoók 1993 with bibliography.