Porter, Andrew. 2019. Agamemnon, the Pathetic Despot: Reading Characterization in Homer. Hellenic Studies Series 78. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_PorterA.Agamemnon_the_Pathetic_Despot.2019.
4. The Characterization of Agamemnon in the Iliad
4.2.1 Agamemnon’s Dishonoring and Hubristic Actions: 1.6–344
either now lingering or afterward again coming,
lest for you a scepter not be of help, nor the fillet of a god.
I will certainly not ransom her! Earlier upon her, in fact, old age will come
in our house, in Argos, far from [her] fatherland,
working over the loom and sharing my bed.
But come! Do not provoke me, so that more safely you may go.
μή σε γέρον κοίλῃσιν ἐγὼ παρὰ νηυσὶ κιχείω
ἢ νῦν δηθύνοντ’ ἢ ὕστερον αὖτις ἰόντα,
μή νύ τοι οὐ χραίσμῃ σκῆπτρον καὶ στέμμα θεοῖο·
τὴν δ’ ἐγὼ οὐ λύσω· πρίν μιν καὶ γῆρας ἔπεισιν
ἡμετέρῳ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ ἐν Ἄργεϊ τηλόθι πάτρης
ἱστὸν ἐποιχομένην καὶ ἐμὸν λέχος ἀντιόωσαν·
ἀλλ’ ἴθι μή μ’ ἐρέθιζε σαώτερος ὥς κε νέηαι.
but on account of the priest whom Agamemnon dishonored,
and neither released [his] daughter nor received the ransom,
οὔ ταρ ὅ γ’ εὐχωλῆς ἐπιμέμφεται οὐδ’ ἑκατόμβης,
ἀλλ’ ἕνεκ’ ἀρητῆρος ὃν ἠτίμησ’ Ἀγαμέμνων,
οὐδ’ ἀπέλυσε θύγατρα καὶ οὐκ ἀπεδέξατ’ ἄποινα,
my wedded wife, since [Chryseïs] is not worse than she,
neither in body nor in character, neither in judgment nor in works.
καὶ γάρ ῥα Κλυταιμνήστρης προβέβουλα
κουριδίης ἀλόχου, ἐπεὶ οὔ ἑθέν ἐστι χερείων,
οὐ δέμας οὐδὲ φυήν, οὔτ’ ἂρ φρένας οὔτέ τι ἔργα.
Always for you what is evil is dear to your heart to prophesy,
but a noble word not in any way have you ever spoken or accomplished!
μάντι κακῶν οὐ πώ ποτέ μοι τὸ κρήγυον εἶπας·
αἰεί τοι τὰ κάκ’ ἐστὶ φίλα φρεσὶ μαντεύεσθαι,
ἐσθλὸν δ’ οὔτέ τί πω εἶπας ἔπος οὔτ’ ἐτέλεσσας·
With Aulis as the historical backdrop for Agamemnon’s stern reply, then the “not ever” (οὐ πώ ποτέ) and “always” (αἰεί) of his prophecies join the events at Troy to Aulis. Thus, there are at least two potential examples of metonymic allusion here. First, the comparison between Clytemnestra and Chryseïs and second the characterization of Kalchas at Aulis and Troy. Together, these make Agamemnon’s response all the more ironic and portentous. As we have seen in our consideration of the Odyssey in the last chapter, and now note for the Iliad, past and future are always impinging on the narrative present.
And he said that indeed he would avenge the murder of his child, but not in reality was he about
to return again, but there he was to encounter his fate.
τοῖσιν δ’ Εὐπείθης ἡγήσατο νηπιέῃσι·
φῆ δ’ ὅ γε τείσεσθαι παιδὸς φόνον, οὐδ’ ἄρ’ ἔμελλεν
ἂψ ἀπονοστήσειν, ἀλλ’ αὐτοῦ πότμον ἐφέψειν.
Ironically, in the perspective presented once again to the poet’s external audience, the suitors ignore the wise counsel of Halitherses. 
4.2.2 Agamemnon’s Dream and the Testing of the Troops: 2.16–440
we would say [it was] a lie and turn away in disdain all the more;
But now he saw [it], who strongly boasts that he is the best of the Achaians;
But come, if somehow we can arm the sons of the Achaians!
εἰ μέν τις τὸν ὄνειρον Ἀχαιῶν ἄλλος ἔνισπε
ψεῦδός κεν φαῖμεν καὶ νοσφιζοίμεθα μᾶλλον·
νῦν δ’ ἴδεν ὃς μέγ’ ἄριστος Ἀχαιῶν εὔχεται εἶναι·
ἀλλ’ ἄγετ’ αἴ κέν πως θωρήξομεν υἷας Ἀχαιῶν.
and to flee on their benched ships will be the orders I will give;
But you—one from one place, one from another  —restrain them with words.
πρῶτα δ’ ἐγὼν ἔπεσιν πειρήσομαι, ἣ θέμις ἐστί,
καὶ φεύγειν σὺν νηυσὶ πολυκλήϊσι κελεύσω·
ὑμεῖς δ’ ἄλλοθεν ἄλλος ἐρητύειν ἐπέεσσιν.
But the spirit is great in Zeus-nourished basileis,
but [his] honor springs from Zeus, and he is loved by counselor Zeus.
μή τι χολωσάμενος ῥέξῃ κακὸν υἷας Ἀχαιῶν·
θυμὸς δὲ μέγας ἐστὶ διοτρεφέων βασιλήων,
τιμὴ δ’ ἐκ Διός ἐστι, φιλεῖ δέ ἑ μητίετα Ζεύς.
Odysseus has taken charge on the field. Further, in the ensuing assembly, Odysseus, not Agamemnon, speaks to the gathered troops as friends (2.299, φίλοι), encouraging them to endure (2.299, τλῆτε). 
stood, holding the scepter, which Hephaistos toiled contriving.
Hephaistos gave [it] to ruler Zeus, son of Kronos,
yet it seems Zeus gave [it] to the runner Argeiphontes;
But Hermes the ruler gave [it] to Pelops smiter of horses,
yet in turn Pelops gave [it] to Atreus shepherd of the people,
but Atreus dying left [it] to Thyestes rich in sheep,
yet in turn Thyestes for Agamemnon was leaving [it] to carry,
to rule over many islands and all Argos to rule.
Leaning upon this, in fact, [these] words to the Argives he spoke:
ἀνὰ δὲ κρείων Ἀγαμέμνων
ἔστη σκῆπτρον ἔχων τὸ μὲν Ἥφαιστος κάμε τεύχων.
Ἥφαιστος μὲν δῶκε Διὶ Κρονίωνι ἄνακτι,
αὐτὰρ ἄρα Ζεὺς δῶκε διακτόρῳ ἀργεϊφόντῃ·
Ἑρμείας δὲ ἄναξ δῶκεν Πέλοπι πληξίππῳ,
αὐτὰρ ὃ αὖτε Πέλοψ δῶκ’ Ἀτρέϊ ποιμένι λαῶν,
Ἀτρεὺς δὲ θνῄσκων ἔλιπεν πολύαρνι Θυέστῃ,
αὐτὰρ ὃ αὖτε Θυέστ’ Ἀγαμέμνονι λεῖπε φορῆναι,
πολλῇσιν νήσοισι καὶ Ἄργεϊ παντὶ ἀνάσσειν.
τῷ ὅ γ’ ἐρεισάμενος ἔπε’ Ἀργείοισι μετηύδα·
Kirk (1985:127) noted no direct indication of a family feud or curse in these lines. He felt, however, that this omission was meant to avoid distracting detail, since the principal point of the passage is kingship passing from Zeus to Agamemnon. It was not overtly emphasized, in order to keep the focus from being drawn away too far from the present narrative emphasis (Cf. Scodel 2002:15). If the feud was well known, however, then the violence that erupted could not be wholly ignored in a passage that names Thyestes, since the very naming of a character would bring to mind stories related to him.
4.2.3 Agamemnon, the Preeminent Leader in Battle: 2.477–483
4.2.4 Agamemnon’s Prayer, Oath, and Sacrifice: 3.267–302
do not wish to pay after Alexandros has fallen,
then I even in that case will fight on behalf of compensation,
remaining here, until I find an end to the war.
εἰ δ’ ἂν ἐμοὶ τιμὴν Πρίαμος Πριάμοιό τε παῖδες
τίνειν οὐκ ἐθέλωσιν Ἀλεξάνδροιο πεσόντος,
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ καὶ ἔπειτα μαχήσομαι εἵνεκα ποινῆς
αὖθι μένων, ἧός κε τέλος πολέμοιο κιχείω.
not one then of the Trojans would escape death, as many as there are,
nor one of the Argives, but that we two would put off death,
so that alone the sacred citadel of Troy we could destroy.
αἲ γὰρ Ζεῦ τε πάτερ καὶ Ἀθηναίη καὶ Ἄπολλον
μήτέ τις οὖν Τρώων θάνατον φύγοι ὅσσοι ἔασι,
μήτέ τις Ἀργείων, νῶϊν δ’ ἐκδῦμεν ὄλεθρον,
ὄφρ’ οἶοι Τροίης ἱερὰ κρήδεμνα λύωμεν.
4.2.5 Agamemnon’s Address to the Troops: 4.231–418
4.2.6 Grievances against Agamemnon—Revisiting his Past Wrongs: Book 9
which is custom, ruler, in the agorē; but may you not in any way become angry.
My vigor for helping others first, you reproached among the Danaäns
saying that I was unwarlike and cowardly; But all these things
the Argives know, both young and old.
But to you, two divergent gifts were bestowed by the son of Kronos of the crooked counsels;
The scepter to you he gave to be honored above all,
but the capacity to help, to you he did not give, which is the greatest possession.
Ἀτρεΐδη σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι ἀφραδέοντι,
ἣ θέμις ἐστὶν ἄναξ ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς.
ἀλκὴν μέν μοι πρῶτον ὀνείδισας ἐν Δαναοῖσι
φὰς ἔμεν ἀπτόλεμον καὶ ἀνάλκιδα· ταῦτα δὲ πάντα
ἴσασ’ Ἀργείων ἠμὲν νέοι ἠδὲ γέροντες.
σοὶ δὲ διάνδιχα δῶκε Κρόνου πάϊς ἀγκυλομήτεω·
σκήπτρῳ μέν τοι δῶκε τετιμῆσθαι περὶ πάντων,
ἀλκὴν δ’ οὔ τοι δῶκεν, ὅ τε κράτος ἐστὶ μέγιστον.
even from the time when, Zeus-bred, the virgin daughter of Briseïs
from angry Achilles you led out, having taken [her] away from [his] hut,
not in any way in accordance with our purpose; For very much to you I certainly
had spoken a muthos many times in dissuasion; But you to your great-hearted spirit
having given way, an exceptional man, whom the deathless ones in fact esteemed,
you dishonored. For having seized his war prize, you presently possess it.
ἠμὲν πάλαι ἠδ’ ἔτι καὶ νῦν
ἐξ ἔτι τοῦ ὅτε διογενὲς Βρισηΐδα κούρην
χωομένου Ἀχιλῆος ἔβης κλισίηθεν ἀπούρας
οὔ τι καθ’ ἡμέτερόν γε νόον· μάλα γάρ τοι ἔγωγε
πόλλ’ ἀπεμυθεόμην· σὺ δὲ σῷ μεγαλήτορι θυμῷ
εἴξας ἄνδρα φέριστον, ὃν ἀθάνατοί περ ἔτισαν,
ἠτίμησας, ἑλὼν γὰρ ἔχεις γέρας·
4.2.7 Agamemnon in the Doloneia: 10.3–127
4.2.8 Agamemnon’s Aristeia: 11.91–283
flashed; But in response thundered Athena and Hera
to honor the king of rich-in-gold Mycenae.
… τῆλε δὲ χαλκὸς ἀπ’ αὐτόφιν οὐρανὸν εἴσω
λάμπ’· ἐπὶ δ’ ἐγδούπησαν Ἀθηναίη τε καὶ Ἥρη
τιμῶσαι βασιλῆα πολυχρύσοιο Μυκήνης.
towards [his] horses springs, then for him [Hector], strength I will grant
to kill until that point when he should arrive on the well-benched ships
and the sun set and divine dusk descend.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεί κ’ ἢ δουρὶ τυπεὶς ἢ βλήμενος ἰῷ
εἰς ἵππους ἅλεται, τότε οἱ κράτος ἐγγυαλίξω
κτείνειν εἰς ὅ κε νῆας ἐϋσσέλμους ἀφίκηται
δύῃ τ’ ἠέλιος καὶ ἐπὶ κνέφας ἱερὸν ἔλθῃ.
nor cowering in fear nor unwilling to fight,
but very much hastening into the renown-bringing fight.
Ἔνθ’ οὐκ ἂν βρίζοντα ἴδοις Ἀγαμέμνονα δῖον
οὐδὲ καταπτώσσοντ’ οὐδ’ οὐκ ἐθέλοντα μάχεσθαι,
ἀλλὰ μάλα σπεύδοντα μάχην ἐς κυδιάνειραν.
Agamemnon is alert: “Not then dozing would you have seen divine Agamemnon” (Ἔνθ’ οὐκ ἂν βρίζοντα ἴδοις Ἀγαμέμνονα δῖον). He is likewise brave: “Nor cowering in fear nor at all unwilling to fight” (οὐδὲ καταπτώσσοντ’ οὐδ’ οὐκ ἐθέλοντα μάχεσθαι). He hastens eagerly into the “renown-bringing fight” (μάχην … κυδιάνειραν). Even the panting of Agamemnon’s freshly driven horses helps to suggest the fervid effort of their lord.  As we saw in our earlier consideration of the ensuing scene, Agamemnon’s leadership qualities are portrayed less admirably in what follows, and the scene’s force is greatly diminished by the poet’s decision to locate Agamemnon’s aristeia here in his song.  Yet this reality doesn’t deter the poet from presenting us with Agamemnon as a capable fighter. 
4.2.9 Agamemnon’s Third Call for a Nostos: 14.41–134
are, in their spirits, casting anger against me, as in fact Achilles [is],
and they do not wish to fight at the sterns of the ships.
ὢ πόποι ἦ ῥα καὶ ἄλλοι ἐϋκνήμιδες Ἀχαιοὶ
ἐν θυμῷ βάλλονται ἐμοὶ χόλον ὥς περ Ἀχιλλεὺς
οὐδ’ ἐθέλουσι μάχεσθαι ἐπὶ πρυμνῇσι νέεσσι.
The poet has Agamemnon use the formula “O my, my” (ὢ πόποι), an exclamation we have seen already in a larger traditional hemistich.  As we saw earlier, the formula keys in its onomatopoeic consonance, as well as in its metonymic meaning, the level of personal anxiety and concern that Agamemnon is experiencing. He considers the possibility that the troops will not obey him out of anger for his past actions towards Achilles, and it worries him.  Nestor’s reply strongly emphasizes the confusion of the Achaians in the face of the Trojan onslaught, both generally (58–59), and thrice emphatically through closely packed vocabulary in 59–60: “being thrown into confusion” (ὀρινόμενοι), “thrown about” (κλονέονται),  and “mixed indiscriminately” (ἐπιμίξ). The defense in which they put their confidence has failed. Nestor advises a plan, but one that does not necessitate that the injured basileis reenter the fighting (61–63).
but I know [it] now when upon these, equal to the blessed gods
he bestows renown, but our courage and hands he binds.
ᾔδεα μὲν γὰρ ὅτε πρόφρων Δαναοῖσιν ἄμυνεν,
οἶδα δὲ νῦν ὅτε τοὺς μὲν ὁμῶς μακάρεσσι θεοῖσι
κυδάνει, ἡμέτερον δὲ μένος καὶ χεῖρας ἔδησεν.
Agamemnon is certain that Zeus is portending destruction and consequently urges for the third time that they flee on their ships. On this occasion, like the last, he means it. After all, so he says, Zeus “honors” (κυδάνει) the Trojans “equally with the blessed gods” (ὁμῶς μακάρεσσι θεοῖσι). Such a comparison to the “blessed gods” is found nowhere else in Homer.  The almost exclusive use of “blessed” (μακάρεσσι) with the gods is certainly a traditional component, however. Through this idiom, the Olympian gods are recognized to be in a world apart from humans.  It is in fact the very distance the referential aspect of the noun-epithet combination creates for the Trojan advantage that makes Agamemnon’s statement all the more hyperbolic. Well, at least from the audience’s point of view. Agamemnon hardly sees it as overstatement, however, as his subsequent response shows. Agamemnon answers Nestor’s call for a plan of action for the troops in battle (62) with a plan of action for the troops to leave the fighting (75–80), adding the proverb: “Better off is he who fleeing escapes evil than he who is captured [by it]” (βέλτερον ὃς φεύγων προφύγῃ κακὸν ἠὲ ἁλώῃ, 81). The ships closest to the shore, he directs, should be dragged down during the day, and the rest during the night.
Haubold’s (2000:67) comments are apt: “Agamemnon’s counseling as a ‘leader of the people’ … is so directly detrimental that he had better not counsel at all.” 
harsh rebuke; But I certainly did not order the unwilling
to drag to the sea [their] well-benched ships—the sons of the Achaians.
ὦ Ὀδυσεῦ μάλα πώς με καθίκεο θυμὸν ἐνιπῇ
ἀργαλέῃ· ἀτὰρ οὐ μὲν ἐγὼν ἀέκοντας ἄνωγα
νῆας ἐϋσσέλμους ἅλα δ’ ἑλκέμεν υἷας Ἀχαιῶν.
The μέν of line 105 belongs to “μέν the bachelor,” rather than “μέν the widower” (Denniston 1950:359). It is patently an emphatic μέν meaning “certainly,” and it makes the preceding “but not” (ἀτὰρ οὐ) that much stronger (Denniston 1950:362, 55). This collocation makes Agamemnon’s personal denial all the more resounding. On the one hand, if Agamemnon is not trying to redeem himself here and did actually think that some heroes would stay and others leave (something that I doubt and his fellow warriors missed), then we have a thematic corollary with similar stories of dissension in the Epic Cycle. An example is the contention between Agamemnon and Menelaos, as told in the Nostoi tales:
the departure voyage. Agamemnon then, to appease Athena’s
wrath, remains behind.
Ἀθηνᾶ Ἀγαμέμνονα καὶ Μενέλαον εἰς ἔριν καθίστησι περὶ τοῦ
ἔκπλου. Ἀγαμέμνων μὲν οὖν τὸν τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς ἐξιλασόμενος
4.2.10 Agamemnon and Atē: 19.76–144
it is good for one standing to listen well, and it is not fitting
to break in; For [this would be] difficult, even for one being skilled.
But among men in a great uproar, how would any man listen
or speak? But he is affected even though being a clear speaker.
ὦ φίλοι ἥρωες Δαναοὶ θεράποντες Ἄρηος
ἑσταότος μὲν καλὸν ἀκούειν, οὐδὲ ἔοικεν
ὑββάλλειν· χαλεπὸν γὰρ ἐπισταμένῳ περ ἐόντι.
ἀνδρῶν δ’ ἐν πολλῷ ὁμάδῳ πῶς κέν τις ἀκούσαι
ἢ εἴποι; βλάβεται δὲ λιγύς περ ἐὼν ἀγορητής.
Not surprisingly, considering the results of Agamemnon’s words and actions narrated in Iliad 1, Agamemnon is uneasy about the subject he raises. On the whole, Agamemnon’s immediate opening to his speech suggests his incapacity and hesitation in the present situation (the “tentative” nature of his introduction), rather than his audacity as a speaker.  Agamemnon’s remarks are preparing his audience for the upcoming explanation of his quarrel with Achilles (a natural part of a prooimion).  “How would any man listen or speak?” (πῶς κέν τις ἀκούσαι ἢ εἴποι;) he asks. This may be Agamemnon’s attempt to ingratiate himself with a hostile crowd. Agamemnon’s words appear, at first glance, to have a kernel of what Dentice Di Accadia (2012:225) classifies as a gnomic captatio benevolentiae. The first part of Agamemnon’s saying, however, would not really have sounded especially endearing to either Homer’s internal or external audience. A speaker earns no credit with his audience by saying that they make so much of a “racket” (ὅμαδος) that he can hardly speak.  Agamemnon is a little tongue tied here, to say the least. This is to be expected. Agamemnon’s attitudes and actions towards Achilles and many other basileis have been the target of strong criticism by the Achaians throughout the Iliad’s narrative. This background now causes renewed discomfort for the paramount basileus. If Agamemnon’s hesitation here is real, as I suggest, rather than rhetorical, it may be caused in part by the “instability of the crowd” (Hammer 2002:156). Yet, it is an instability created by Agamemnon’s own past actions now returning to haunt him.
Argives listen up, and let [my] word be well recognized by each.
Many a time before [now] to me this word the Achaians spoke
and also me they would chastise; but I am not blameworthy,
Πηλεΐδῃ μὲν ἐγὼν ἐνδείξομαι· αὐτὰρ οἱ ἄλλοι
σύνθεσθ’ Ἀργεῖοι, μῦθόν τ’ εὖ γνῶτε ἕκαστος.
πολλάκι δή μοι τοῦτον Ἀχαιοὶ μῦθον ἔειπον
καί τέ με νεικείεσκον· ἐγὼ δ’ οὐκ αἴτιός εἰμι,
Agamemnon has been over these things before, though Achilles has not been present. He well knows the sentiments of his troops and is fully aware that any conversation with Achilles will bring forward in the men’s minds their own aggrieved feelings. These are feelings they have expressed again and again (πολλάκι … ἔειπον, 84), and on more than one occasion.  What the men have said seems indicated in Agamemnon’s present denial, which reaches over the past conversations in one broad sweep. They had, on the one hand, been consistently blaming him; yet now Agamemnon emphatically asserts, he (was and) is not the blameworthy “cause” (αἴτιος, 85) of the quarrel and Achilles’ subsequent refusal to fight. As Dentice Di Accadia (2012:227) argues, at this point Agamemnon is less concerned with convincing Achilles than he is in convincing the rest of the troops.
a man who will rule over those around him,
of the generation of men who are born of my blood.
σήμερον ἄνδρα φόως δὲ μογοστόκος Εἰλείθυια
ἐκφανεῖ, ὃς πάντεσσι περικτιόνεσσιν ἀνάξει,
τῶν ἀνδρῶν γενεῆς οἵ θ’ αἵματος ἐξ ἐμεῦ εἰσί.
Hera’s subsequent conniving, described in a virtual figura etymologica as a ruse contriver contriving ruses,  sees her next coaxing out an oath from her unsuspecting husband, one that would guarantee he keep his word. The gist of Hera’s covert plan is to replace Zeus’ chosen ruler over the Argives, Herakles, with her own choice, Eurystheus (19.101–124), by slowing up the birth of the former and speeding up the delivery of the latter.  While atē-words are not present in the story proper, Agamemnon does interject into the middle of his tale the comment that Zeus “was deceived” (ἀάσθη, 113), in this case by swearing a “great oath.” In contrast, the introduction to the tale and the actions of Zeus following Hera’s intrigues (as interpreted by Agamemnon) are full of atē-words, both nouns and verbal forms.  The poet’s presentation is made all the more striking by his extremely rare inclusion of a personified Atē herself.  Following this etiological story, we hear Agamemnon declare what he feels naturally follows from his personal entanglement with atē: he should pay restitution (137–138):  “Yet, since I was deluded and Zeus snatched away my wits, / I am willing to make things right again and to offer considerable compensation” (ἀλλ’ ἐπεὶ ἀασάμην καί μευ φρένας ἐξέλετο Ζεύς, / ἂψ ἐθέλω ἀρέσαι, δόμεναί τ’ ἀπερείσι’ ἄποινα).
will surely be, for not in any way should a basileus be vexed
to appease a man when a certain one was first to rage.
Ἀτρεΐδη σὺ δ’ ἔπειτα δικαιότερος καὶ ἐπ’ ἄλλῳ
ἔσσεαι. οὐ μὲν γάρ τι νεμεσσητὸν βασιλῆα
ἄνδρ’ ἀπαρέσσασθαι ὅτε τις πρότερος χαλεπήνῃ.
There is a note of emphatic indignation in Odysseus’ voice. He suggests that Agamemnon has learned his lesson and will no doubt improve by acting more responsibly next time round.  Such counsel to act responsibly mirrors a familiar choice formula first used by Athena to Achilles (Iliad 1.207). She urges him to stop his anger from ending in a physical assault on the leading wanax; that is, she prods in her address to him, “if you will obey” (αἴ κε πίθηαι). This traditional saying indicates that an important decision is at hand. It does not, despite certain scholarly opinion (e.g. Kirk 1985:75), assume that Achilles will agree and relent. It is in no way a fait accompli. After all, the same formula on another occasion (Iliad 11.791) references a decision of Achilles, and whether he will be willing to relent, when approached by Patroklos. When the moment comes, Achilles will not in fact agree to help his comrades, but only gives in a bit by allowing Patroklos to enter the battle in his armor. The expression “if you will obey” (αἴ κε πίθηαι), then, is not deterministic, but rather, as Schadewaldt (1966:140) observes, typical of “Ungenauigkeit.” Odysseus’ words seem to be a real call for more responsible action the next time round. It is up to Agamemnon to react appropriately and to embody a clear response in the future.
the heroic son of Atreus, wide ruling Agamemnon,
because he dishonored swift footed Achilles,
then we really should not slack off in battle.
ἀλλ’ εἰ δὴ καὶ πάμπαν ἐτήτυμον αἴτιός ἐστιν
ἥρως Ἀτρεΐδης εὐρὺ κρείων Ἀγαμέμνων
οὕνεκ’ ἀπητίμησε ποδώκεα Πηλεΐωνα,
ἡμέας γ’ οὔ πως ἔστι μεθιέμεναι πολέμοιο.
Poseidon’s “if” is met by an instantaneous and unified reaction from the Achaians, who eagerly rally behind their leaders in tight battle ranks. If action is a reply, it is a resounding confirmation that Agamemnon is to blame. This is the last we really hear from Agamemnon. As Taplin notes, Agamemnon is “out of sight” for the rest of the Iliad, except for a minor appearance in the funeral games for Patroklos.