Eve of the Festival: Making Myth in Odyssey 19

  Levaniouk, Olga. 2011. Eve of the Festival: Making Myth in Odyssey 19. Hellenic Studies Series 46. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Levaniouk.Eve_of_the_Festival.2011.

Chapter 7. The Cloak

After the conclusion of Odysseus’ Cretan tale, once her tears stop flowing, Penelope returns to the task at hand, the testing of her interlocutor. This transition from emotion to practicality, from premonitions of the poem’s denouement to Penelope’s suspicions about her guest’s veracity is a good illustration of the narrative tension peculiar to this part of the Odyssey. At the same time, the questioning by no means negates the impression created by Penelope’s tears, and in a sense only strengthens it. The questions Penelope asks seem too difficult to be addressed to a stranger, however intelligent and trustworthy. She demands that her guest tell her what clothes Odysseus wore when he came to Crete, twenty years ago, and that he describe his companions (Odyssey 19.215–219). Harsh suggested long ago that Odysseus has already aroused Penelope’s curiosity by initially withholding his name and then skillfully bringing the conversation back to Odysseus. By following this up with a minute recollection of Odysseus’ clothing while commenting that it is difficult to remember such details, Odysseus, in Harsh’s words, “designedly suggested his identity but warned Penelope by his reserve and by his disclaimers, especially by a slyly humorous one that Odysseus may have been dressed differently when he left Ithaca, that he does not desire open recognition at the crucial point.” [1]

Harsh does not, however, see the same level of design behind Penelope’s words, and that is the only way in which I would emend his admirable reading of the scene. At this (or any) point, Penelope hardly needs to be told that open recognition is undesirable, and her questions seem to be designed precisely to give her guest the opportunity of proving to her that he is Odysseus. Unlike a stranger, the real Odysseus should remember not simply his clothes but also those items that were particularly closely tied to his identity, and it is precisely such things that Odysseus mentions, including a red double cloak of wool, {109|110} a shining and soft khiton, and a memorable golden pin with a dog hunting a fawn (19.225–234). These possessions serve, of course, to identify Odysseus, and Penelope duly recognizes them, cries even more than before, and remarks that she herself gave these clothes to her husband and that the stranger is now philos and aidoios to her (19.253–257).

The first item the beggar mentions in response to Penelope is the cloak:

χλαῖναν πορφυρέην οὔλην ἔχε δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς, 

διπλῆν· ἐν δ’ ἄρα οἱ περόνη χρυσοῖο τέτυκτο.

(Odyssey 19.225–226)

Odysseus had a woolen purple cloak,
a two-fold one, and in it was a pin of gold.

To begin with the obvious, the cloak and the khiton together are apparently a sign of status and a gift that a guest might expect from his host. These two items of clothing, which form a complete costume, are repeatedly given, received, requested and desired, presumably because their presence and absence distinguishes a man who is a member of a social group from an outcast, a beggar, a person in trouble. The character who comes closest to making this function of clothes explicit is Odysseus himself, when, in the Iliad, he threatens to humiliate Thersites by stripping him:

μηδ’ ἔτι Τηλεμάχοιο πατὴρ κεκλημένος εἴην, 

εἰ μὴ ἐγώ σε λαβὼν ἀπὸ μὲν φίλα εἵματα δύσω, 

χλαῖνάν τ’ ἠδὲ χιτῶνα, τά τ’ αἰδῶ ἀμφικαλύπτει.

(Iliad 2.260–262) {110|111}

May I no longer be called the father of Telemachus
if I do not seize you and strip off your clothes,
the cloak and the khiton, which cover your private parts.

Once he arrives on Ithaca and assumes the appearance of a beggar, Odysseus seems to begin a quest for cloak and khiton. He tells Eumaeus how he was previously entertained by Pheidon in Thesprotia and received these items of clothing (though they were later stolen), hinting that this is the way to treat a guest. Eumaeus, being a gracious host but nobody’s fool, holds off and does not offer the clothes. When the time comes for the beggar to meet Penelope, the loyal swineherd clearly worries that his guest may tell false tales about Odysseus in order to win her over and finally acquire the clothes he desires. Meanwhile, Odysseus does obtain from Eumaeus the loan of a cloak for one night by means of his famous and problematic tale about going into an ambush with Odysseus at Troy, almost freezing to death, and then being saved by Odysseus who says that reinforcements are needed and thus causes another member of the group to fling his cloak aside and run for help. The speaker then sleeps comfortably through the rest of the night in that discarded cloak. [
3] At least one message of the tale is obvious – Eumaeus’ guest is as cold now as he was then, and he would like a cloak. Eumaeus makes a point of saying that he has no extra cloaks, but does let his guest borrow one for the night, adding that Telemachus will give him a cloak and a khiton when he comes back (14.516). When the latter arrives in the hut he lives up to this promise and offers the clothing to Odysseus. Penelope, too, offers clothes, on two occasions. First she asks Eumaeus to invite the beggar in so she can question him about Odysseus and promises that she will give him a cloak and a khiton if he speaks the truth. And secondly, she pacifies the suitors before the bow contest by saying that should the beggar string the bow his reward will not be her hand in marriage but rather clothing, a spear, a sword, and shoes. Variants of the same one-line formula are used on most of these occasions: {111|112}

αὐτός τοι χλαῖνάν τε χιτῶνά τε εἵματα δώσει.

(Eumaeus, Odyssey 14.516)

He will give you clothes, a cloak and a khiton.
ἕσσω μιν χλαῖνάν τε χιτῶνά τε, εἴματα καλά.

(Telemachus, Odyssey 16.79; Penelope, 17.550)

I will dress him in good clothes, a cloak and a khiton.

Beggar-Odysseus seems to be looking for a cloak and a khiton, but in reality he is not. In the hut of Eumaeus he utters a promise that Odysseus will come back soon, and he specifically proclaims that he will only receive his gift of a cloak and khiton if this promise comes true:

ἀλλ’ ἄγε νῦν ῥήτρην ποιησόμεθ’· αὐτὰρ ὄπισθεν
μάρτυροι ἀμφοτέροισι θεοί, τοὶ Ὄλυμπον ἔχουσιν.
εἰ μέν κεν νοστήσῃ ἄναξ τεὸς ἐς τόδε δῶμα,
ἕσσας με χλαῖνάν τε χιτῶνά τε εἵματα πέμψαι
Δουλίχιόνδ’ ἰέναι, ὅθι μοι φίλον ἔπλετο θυμῷ·
εἰ δέ κε μὴ ἔλθῃσιν ἄναξ τεὸς ὡς ἀγορεύω,
δμῶας ἐπισσεύας βαλέειν μεγάλης κατὰ πέτρης,
ὄφρα καὶ ἄλλος πτωχὸς ἀλεύεται ἠπεροπεύειν.

(Odyssey 14.393–400)

But let us now make a pact, and in the future
let the gods who hold Olympus be witnesses for both of us.
If your master returns to this house,
you shall give me clothes, a cloak and a khiton, and send me off
to Doulikhion, where I want to go.
But if your master does not come as I say,
order your servants to throw me off a high cliff,
so that the next beggar will think twice before taking advantage of you.

Eumaeus persists in thinking that the stranger needs a cloak and khiton, or at least in acting as if he does. In Book 17, when Penelope asks to see the stranger and promises to reward him with clothing if he speaks the truth, Eumaeus relates her words to Odysseus and then adds his own remark about the urgency of the beggar’s need for clothes:

εἰ δέ κέ σε γνώῃ νημερτέα πάντ’ ἐνέποντα, 

ἕσσει σε χλαῖνάν τε χιτῶνά τε, τῶν σὺ μάλιστα 

χρηΐζεις· σῖτον δὲ καὶ αἰτίζων κατὰ δῆμον 

γαστέρα βοσκήσεις· δώσει δέ τοι ὅς κ’ ἐθέλῃσι.

(Odyssey 17.556–559)

And if she finds that all you tell is true,
she will give you clothes, a cloak and a khiton, {113|114}
which you need very much. As for food, you can feed your belly
begging through the district. And whoever wants to will give to you.

Eumaeus’ remark seems to be indirect advice to the stranger about how to proceed: now is a good time to speak the truth since it would be in the stranger’s own interests. Eumaeus takes good care of his guest from the first moment the latter arrives at the hut, and here he paints a practical picture of how the beggar-Odysseus could manage to survive on Ithaca, starting with the most urgent need of acquiring serviceable clothes.

With Telemachus, the question of clothes disappears through Athena’s divine powers. The goddess touches Odysseus with her staff and changes not only his appearance but, first of all, his clothes. Instead of his rags Odysseus now wears a well-washed khiton and not a khlaina, but a pharos, a different type of cloak or mantle:

φᾶρος μέν οἱ πρῶτον ἐϋπλυνὲς ἠδὲ χιτῶνα 

θῆκ’ ἀμφὶ στήθεσφι, δέμας δ’ ὤφελλε καὶ ἥβην.

(Odyssey 16.173–174)

First she put a well-washed mantle and a khiton
around his chest, and increased his stature and youth.

After that, the question of Telemachus’ providing the beggar with clothes naturally disappears, since Telemachus now knows that the rags are a disguise and he hopes soon to help his father in regaining all of his possessions, not just a cloak.

With Penelope, too, the question of cloak and khiton is dropped in its simple form, even though her guest passes her tests of truthfulness. Penelope does mention the possible gift of clothing again in Book 21, but there she is speaking not to the disguised Odysseus but to the suitors, and thus has to sustain their illusion that the beggar is only a beggar and not to be feared (Odyssey 21.331–342). In Book 19, by contrast, both Penelope’s offer and Odysseus’ reaction become more complex. When beggar-Odysseus swears an oath that Odysseus will come back ‘within this very lukabas’, Penelope responds with a promise of gifts if he is right, but immediately adds that she does not have such hopes (Odyssey 19.309–316). In the meanwhile, however, she offers her guest a wash, a warm bed, a bath in the morning, and Telemachus’ company at dinner the next day. This offer seems to involve not only being clean and rubbed with oil but also being well-dressed, since Penelope says: {114|115}

πῶς γὰρ ἐμεῦ σύ, ξεῖνε, δαήσεαι, εἴ τι γυναικῶν
ἀλλάων περίειμι νόον καὶ ἐπίφρονα μῆτιν,
εἴ κεν ἀϋσταλέος, κακὰ εἱμένος ἐν μεγάροισι

(Odyssey 19.323–326)

For how will you learn, stranger, whether I in any way surpass
the rest of women in awareness and shrewd intelligence,
if you feast in our halls unwashed and wearing bad clothes?

I interpret this offer as part of Penelope’s testing strategy, based primarily on her later reaction to Odysseus’ reply. A suggestion that this question is not to be taken literally is also perhaps contained in Penelope’s reference to metis, a quintessentially Odyssean quality that usually involves scheming and clever contrivance. [
6] In this case, if Penelope’s question is taken at face value, it is not clear what the reference to metis is doing here: there is nothing surpassingly cunning about offering one’s guest a bath and a bed. In any case, Odysseus refuses everything – the bed, the bath, and the clothes, saying that cloaks and blankets have been hateful to him ever since he left his land behind, and that his nights are sleepless, not comfortable (Odyssey 19.336–347). This reply wins emphatic approval from Penelope, who never offers either clothes or bedding again to her guest and who claims that none of the other strangers that have come to her house have been so pepnumenos. A difficult word that has received much scholarly attention, pepnumenos eludes simple translation, (‘wise’, ‘prudent’, ‘intelligent’, ‘shrewd’, ‘honest’, ‘daring’, and ‘artless’ have all been suggested), but is consistently connected with positively evaluated speech. [7] {115|116} Here it is clearly complimentary and Penelope repeats it again, saying that all the stranger says is pepnumena and that he says it euphradeos, ‘sensibly’:

ξεῖνε φίλ’· οὐ γάρ πώ τις ἀνὴρ πεπνυμένος ὧδε 

ξείνων τηλεδαπῶν φιλίων ἐμὸν ἵκετο δῶμα, 

ὡς σὺ μάλ’ εὐφραδέως πεπνυμένα πάντ’ ἀγορεύεις.

(Odyssey 19.350–352)

Dear stranger – for never has such an intelligent man
come to my house from among the strangers who live far away,
and none has been dearer, so sensible and wise is everything you say.

The complexities of this reply, as with the whole Eurykleia episode which follows, are not my subject here, but there are two aspects of Penelope’s utterance that are important to mention. First of all, she makes a distinction between this stranger and all others that have come to her in the past. According to Eumaeus, many have come to Penelope with tales of Odysseus, and all have lied, and Eumaeus is clearly suspicious that his guest will do the same. In a sense, he of course does so, and yet for Penelope this beggar is entirely unlike all others who have come to her. Secondly, at this point in the dialogue it already becomes hard to comprehend what is being said on the assumption that Penelope has no suspicion about the guest’s identity. It is not clear, for example, why it should be so wise (or astute, or sagacious, or honest, or proper) of Odysseus to refuse a bath and a bed, if he is in fact a wanderer in need of all these things and one who has, moreover, honestly deserved them. On the other hand, if he is, or could be, Odysseus, it is in his interest both to keep his disguise intact and to avoid making himself in any sense at home in his house until the house is won back. By offering him the creature comforts of home, Penelope can test the seriousness of his intentions and the value of his claims regarding Odysseus’ forthcoming return. If he accepts the clothes then perhaps that is what he wanted all along. If he does not accept them, then he has other goals and the probability increases that he is in fact Odysseus and that he is determined to get it all back. In his reply, the stranger stresses {116|117} that his refusal of comforts has to do with being away from his native Crete, implying that only after returning home will he enjoy what Penelope offers. When Penelope says that Odysseus’ response is pepnumenos, she thus indicates that his response is both discreet and based on a correct evaluation of what is appropriate in his situation. For Odysseus, in contrast to any other stranger, this is not the time to accept gifts or be seen in good clothes, and in fact that time is postponed for longer than might be expected. Even in Book 23, when the suitors are already dead, Odysseus still initially faces Penelope in his rags, now bespattered with the suitor’s blood, in spite of the fact that Eurykleia has offered him a change of clothing at the end of Book 22 (22.487). Only after the couple sit for a while facing each other in silence, and Telemachus reproaches his mother for being too hard, and Penelope mentions the signs that she and Odysseus both know, and Odysseus gives instructions about a fake feast to be put on by his household, only then does Odysseus finally have a bath and put on new clothes. And, interestingly, what he dons then is not the khlaina that was offered to him by Eurykleia, but a pharos (Odyssey 23.155).

Odysseus seems to have a complicated relationship with cloaks. Just as his reunion with Penelope is a much more subtle process than his acceptance by Telemachus or recognition by Eumaeus or even his return to Laertes, so the motif of clothing receives a more intricate and elaborate treatment in Penelope’s case. All the more important, then, to understand, what signals Odysseus is sending by describing the khlaina and a khiton he used to have on Ithaca, a long-lost costume that he seems to seek, but any substitution of which he refuses to accept as a beggar.

First of all, does it make any difference whether the cloak Odysseus recalls is a khlaina as apposed to pharos? The two garments have some overlapping uses, and can be worn on similar occasions. For example, when he cries at Alkinoos’ feast, Odysseus hides behind a pharos (8.84), but when Telemachus cries at Menelaos’ dinner, he covers his eyes with a khlaina (4.115, 4.154). The overlap, however, is smaller than the difference between the two. The pharos is in essence simply a large piece of cloth (the size of which is its canonical feature, encapsulated in the formula mega pharos: Iliad 2.43, 8.221, Odyssey 5.230, 8.84, 10.543, 15.61), and in Homer it is often made of a luxurious fabric. It can be worn both by men and by women (for example, by Calypso at Odyssey 5.230) and it is also used to clothe the dead (Hektor is wrapped in one at 24.588, and Penelope pretends to weave one for Laertes). The khlaina is smaller, usually made of wool, sometimes double and worn only by males. It too can be luxurious, but it is first and foremost a practical cloak. In Homer, the pharos tends to be worn on occasions of leisure, festivity, or great importance, {117|118} and it is never connected with great physical effort. It may be an indication of status that Agamemon is the only character in the Iliad to wear the pharos in an assembly (Iliad 2.43) and even in battle, though he is shouting encouragement to his troops rather than fighting (Iliad 8.221). Otherwise, the pharos seems to be connected with female company: for example, Telemachus dons a pharos after he is bathed by Nestor’s daughter Polykaste (Odyssey 3.467). This tendency holds for pharea worn by Odysseus: it is a pharos, not a khlaina, that Odysseus receives from Nausikaa (Odyssey 6.214) in a scene permeated with the signs of romance and, more specifically, of wedding. [8] He continues to wear this purple pharos at the feast of Alkinoos, and it is with this that he covers his head while crying. He also wears it when he appears to Nausikaa after his bath, made younger and more handsome by Athena (Odyssey 6.227–237). An almost identical transformation of Odysseus occurs one more time in the poem, when Odysseus appears to Penelope on the verge of their final reunion, again wearing a pharos:

αὐτὰρ Ὀδυσσῆα μεγαλήτορα ᾧ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ
Εὐρυνόμη ταμίη λοῦσεν καὶ χρῖσεν ἐλαίῳ,
ἀμφὶ δέ μιν φᾶρος καλὸν βάλεν ἠδὲ χιτῶνα·
αὐτὰρ κὰκ κεφαλῆς χεῦεν πολὺ κάλλος Ἀθήνη
μείζονά τ’ εἰσιδέειν καὶ πάσσονα· κὰδ δὲ κάρητος
οὔλας ἧκε κόμας, ὑακινθίνῳ ἄνθει ὁμοίας.

(Odyssey 23.153–158)

And the housekeeper Eurynome bathed the great-hearted Odysseus
in his own house, and anointed him with oil,
and dressed him in a beautiful mantle and a khiton.
And Athena shed great beauty over his head and made him
taller and stronger to look at. She made thick locks
tumble down his head, like the hyacinth flower.

The khlaina, on the other hand, is worn in situations when what is needed is not beauty but warmth (though it may, of course, provide both). Odysseus in Eumaeus’ hut needs a khlaina to keep warm, and khlainai are precisely what are worn by Eumaeus himself and his men, people who work rather than sit at banquets. While the khlaina clearly encumbers running, since on several occasions Homeric characters fling off their khlainai to run (Thoas at Odyssey {118|119} 14.499–500, Odysseus himself at Iliad 2.183–184), it is still worn by men in action, those going into ambush, those taking part in an emergency night council, those traveling. On Calypso’s island, for example, Odysseus puts on a khlaina when he sets out to cut trees for his raft (Odyssey 5.229).

But of course, the khlaina is not all about practicality. Precisely because it is a male garment associated with the active life, it seems especially suited for reflecting the wearer’s achievement, and there is some evidence in Homer that it does precisely that. It may be significant that on Skheria Odysseus continues to wear the pharos that Nausikaa gave him both at the feast and then at the games, where he intends to remain only a spectator. After the games, however, and after he proves his abilities by winning in discus-throwing without even taking off the pharos, he receives a new set of clothing, and this time it includes a khlaina (Odyssey 8.455), as if Odysseus’ demonstration of his athletic abilities has entitled him to one.

But the most elaborate khlaina in Homer is worn in the Iliad by the eldest of the heroes, Nestor:

ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρα χλαῖναν περονήσατο φοινικόεσσαν 

διπλῆν ἐκταδίην, οὔλη δ’ ἐπενήνοθε λάχνη.

(Iliad 10.133–134)

And he pinned about his shoulders a dark-red cloak,
two-fold and flowing, with a thick pile of wool.

It is noteworthy that nobody else in Homer has a similar khlaina, except for Odysseus on the way to Troy, in his own description. Only Nestor and Odysseus have cloaks that are both purple and wooly, though Telemachus also wears a purple cloak and many characters have wooly ones. In addition, both Nestor’s and Odysseus’ cloaks are double and they are the only characters in Homer who are mentioned as having pins for their khlainai.

The parallel, I think, is significant, because there are so many other ways in which Nestor and Odysseus are connected to each other, and because Nestor plays such an important role in the Odyssey. To point out the obvious, both Nestor and Odysseus are heroes famed for their intelligence rather than their physical power (though both boast of that too), both are equally known for their eloquence, and they are, according to Nestor himself, always of one mind in council during the Trojan war (Odyssey 3.126–129). Both heroes are also central figures of the nostos traditions, though here their fates are very different. Nestor himself tells the story (already mentioned above) of their disagreement and parting at Tenedos, which results in two divergent fates: {119|120} Nestor returns home safely and quickly, Odysseus returns late, in trouble, and without his men. [9] Odysseus fails to do what Nestor succeeds in doing, namely returning and bringing back his crew, and through this failure he temporarily loses his very status as Odysseus, a king, a wealthy person, leader of men and ‘sacker of Troy’. Nestor never undergoes such a reversal, certainly not on his way back from Troy. When Odysseus describes his cloak and pin to Penelope, he seems to represent his pre-Trojan self as a younger Nestor, his cloak and pin symbolizing his status and function as an accomplished hero. Like the details of the Third Cretan Lie, this description not only reminds Penelope of what Odysseus used to be, but also of what he failed to be, or to remain, especially when it is delivered by the suspected Odysseus himself, dressed not in that purple cloak but in beggar’s rags. Odysseus’ previous words contain premonitions of his return, but also hint at his particular role and fate as a hero, a role that involves losses and returns, being a king but also being a “younger brother.” [10] In a similar way, the description of his splendid cloak, spoken by an ill-dressed beggar, points both to Odysseus’ achievement and the peculiar nature of that achievement. Odysseus’ refusal to accept bed, bath, and clothing also acquires an added meaning in this context. Like his assumed Cretan self, who has rejected comforts ever since he left Crete behind, Odysseus will accept nothing less than the restoration of his former status, marked by the purple cloak and golden pin in which he left for Troy. Not just any cloak will do.

There is also a mythological competition for a cloak, and yet another splendid mythological cloak on a hero’s shoulders in the myth of Jason and the voyage of Argo. The parallels between the Argonautica and the Odyssey are not exact, yet their accumulation is striking, especially considering the general similarities and points of contact of these two traditional tales. The latter is a well-established fact and needs no additional explanation, except to say that perhaps the parallels and contacts go beyond what has long been appreciated. Quite apart from such obvious elements as the Clashing Rocks and Skylla and Kharybdis, which the two traditions simply have in common, there are less obvious echoes. [14] For example, Odysseus is strangely good at carpentry. Not only does he built his own house with its famous bed, but he also builds a raft for himself, and the construction is described in detail in the Odyssey (5.234–261). This is a distinctive feature: we hear nothing of Achilles, Agamemnon, Menelaos, or even the clever Nestor, wielding a chisel. This feature, however, is apparently shared by Jason in Apollonius’ Argonautica, since he is instructed by {121|122} Athena in carpentry, even if he does not build the ship himself (1.724). [15] When Odysseus sets out to build his raft, his attire includes a cloak (khlaina), and though nothing appears to be remarkable about this particular cloak, the very fact that it is mentioned may point to a traditional association. In Apollonius’ Argonautica Jason’s instruction in ship-building is mentioned in connection with nothing less than his famous and most elaborately described cloak, which Jason receives from Athena:

Αὐτὰρ ὅγ’ ἀμφ’ ὤμοισι, θεᾶς Ἰτωνίδος ἔργον, 

δίπλακα πορφυρέην περονήσατο, τήν οἱ ὄπασσε 

Παλλάς, ὅτε πρῶτον δρυόχους ἐπεβάλλετο νηός 

Ἀργοῦς, καὶ κανόνεσσι δάε ζυγὰ μετρήσασθαι.

(Argonautica 1.721–724)

But around his shoulders he pinned the work of the Itonian goddess,
a two-fold purple cloak, which Pallas had given him
when he first put in place the shores for building the ship,
Argo, and learned to measure the thwarts with a rule.

What follows is an extended ecphrasis of the cloak, but the initial description is very reminiscent of the Odyssey: both cloaks are double and purple, and both are fastened with a pin (perone). Needless to say, it is quite possible that Apollonius’ description of Jason’s cloak is influenced by the Odyssey, but that hardly reduces it in significance. If Apollonius decided to echo the description it may have been precisely because he was sensitive to the similarities in poetic and mythological function of both.

In the Argonautica, Jason makes an impression on the women of Lemnos, as Apollonius describes in an elaborate simile:

Βῆ δ’ ἴμεναι προτὶ ἄστυ, φαεινῷ ἀστέρι ἶσος,
ὅν ῥά τε νηγατέῃσιν ἐεργόμεναι καλύβῃσιν
νύμφαι θηήσαντο δόμων ὕπερ ἀντέλλοντα,
καί σφισι κυανέοιο δι’ αἰθέρος ὄμματα θέλγει
καλὸν ἐρευθόμενος, γάνυται δέ τε ἠιθέοιο
παρθένος ἱμείρουσα μετ’ ἀλλοδαποῖσιν ἐόντος {122|123}
ἀνδράσιν, ᾧ κέν μιν μνηστὴν κομέωσι τοκῆες –
τῷ ἴκελος προπόλοιο κατὰ στίβον ἤιεν ἥρως·

(Argonautica 1.774–781)

And he went towards the fortress, like a shining star,
which maidens, confined in their newly-built bowers,
look at as it rises above the houses.
And through the dark-blue air it enchants their eyes
with its beautiful red gleam and a maiden brightens up,
a maiden pining for a youth, who is far away among strangers,
and for whom her parents keep her as a promised bride.
Like such a star the hero went, following in the tracks of his attendant.

The simile looks ahead to the improvised nuptial arrangements between the Argonauts and the Lemnian women, which will lead to the repopulation of the island, but it also taps into the mythological layers both crucial to the Arognautica and especially potent in this Lemnian episode. The use of the term eitheos to denote the young man who is absent, and perhaps even the fact that he is away, all suggest the period of transition into full maturity, a period when young men in myth typically undergo trials, and which often conclude with marriage. It is noteworthy that Jason’s entry into Hypsipyle’s city in his splendid cloak triggers this particular set of associations.

Cloaks, in any case, play an important role in the Lemnian myth long before Apollonius. Pindar mentions what seems to be a well-established myth that the Argonauts held games on Lemnos and that cloaks served as prizes in competition:

ἔν τ’ Ὠκεανοῦ πελάγεσσι μίγεν πόντῳ τ’ ἐρυθρῷ
Λαμνιᾶν τ’ ἔθνει γυναικῶν ἀνδροφόνων·
ἔνθα καὶ γυίων ἀέθλοις ἐπεδείξαντο κρίσιν ἐσθᾶτος ἀμφίς,
καὶ συνεύνασθεν.

(Pythian 4.251–254)

They reached the expanses of Okeanos and the Red Sea
and the man-slaying race of Lemnian women.
There they displayed the trial of their limbs in contests for the prize of a cloak,
and slept with the women. {123|124}

A sexual encounter with the women follows closely upon the acquisition of cloaks, and a new generation is produced. The unions between the Argonauts and the women represent a fresh start for Lemnos, but in myth this fresh start is also a revitalizing of the old, a restoration rather than a completely novel beginning. The most visible sign of this is the continuation of the royal line. Indeed, while all the other men are killed, the king of the island, Thoas, is saved by his daughter, and it is the same daughter, Hypsipyle, who gives birth to the next king, thus accomplishing her role of linking the generations of males, exactly as if nothing ghastly and abnormal has happened on the island. Euneos, the son of Jason and Hypsipyle, and his grandfather Thoas are both mentioned in the Iliad, where Euneos is the current ruler of Lemnos (Iliad 23.747).

Burkert writes of the cloaks that Argonauts receive on Lemnos that “[t]he attire is linked with marriage or, rather, a disorganized mass celebration of the nuptials, ending e contrario the period of hate between the sexes and the lack of men.” [16] In some sense, this assessment seems self-evident, since the competition for which the cloaks are awarded is followed so closely by the “nuptials.” But the same assessment, I think, applies to Odysseus’ cloak in Book 19: its description is designed to remind Penelope not just of Odysseus, but specifically of their marriage. In contrast to the pharos, which may be a proper garment for the wedding itself, or at least is associated with love-making, [17] the double purple cloaks worn by both Odysseus and Jason seem to be connected with marriage in a less direct way, as the visible signs of male achievement, the precursor and precondition of marriage in the mythic sequence of events. As he enters the city of Hypsipyle in his cloak Jason is ogled by women presumably because he looks like such splendid marriage prospect. Odysseus is actually married already when he sets out on his Trojan adventure, yet in the Odyssey too there is a mention of women staring at Odysseus: {124|125}

ἦ μὲν πολλαί γ’ αὐτὸν ἐθηήσαντο γυναῖκες.

(Odyssey 19.235)

And many women gazed at him in admiration.

Sitting in front of her as a ragged old beggar, Odysseus seems to remind Penelope of a subject that is her own preoccupation too, namely what an excellent match she once made in marrying Odysseus. It is a painful subject, because the promise of that splendid marriage has been replaced by twenty years of waiting, material losses, and recent dangers to Telemachus. This promise is now threatened with complete extinction by another marriage, and yet it is no doubt in part this very promise that makes Penelope despise the prospect of marrying one of the suitors, none of whom is a match for Odysseus. Penelope herself alludes to the perfection of her and Odysseus’ start in life and the grievous reversals that followed when she says that the gods were jealous of them and begrudged them the enjoyment of their youth:

θεοὶ δ’ ὤπαζον ὀϊζύν, 

οἳ νῶϊν ἀγάσαντο παρ’ ἀλλήλοισι μένοντε 

ἥβης ταρπῆναι καὶ γήραος οὐδὸν ἱκέσθαι.

(Odyssey 23.210–212)

The gods gave us pain,
they begrudged us enjoyment of our youth, our staying together
and coming to the threshold of old age together.

We never see Odysseus talking about these things to Penelope, and indeed such a conversation is hard to imagine. Once they acknowledge each other openly, the resilient couple exchange words about the trials still to come. But by describing himself in his pre-Trojan attire Odysseus does communicate to Penelope his own awareness of the contrast between the promise of that time and the miseries of the present. By doing so he prepares the ground for his forthcoming indirect claims that the promise still holds, that he is still Odysseus.

All of this suggests additional possible connotations for Odysseus’ cloak in Book 19. In the context in which it is mentioned, following the Third Cretan Lie, the cloak brings to mind the peculiar fate of Odysseus: to be, in a sense, the great adolescent, to re-compete for his wife and re-earn his cloak, or at any rate to prove that he is still the man who did so as a youth. In this sense, the change of clothes Odysseus talks about and undergoes on Ithaca follows {125|126} the same pattern as that of Jason on Lemnos. In Pindar, the competitions for a cloak are followed by sex and procreation. Pindar mentions no particular clothing at that later stage, but if this were Homer the item of choice would have been a pharos. In Apollonius Rhodius there is no contest, but there is a splendid cloak in which Jason arrives and which is then replaced by a pharos symbolic of his love encounter with Hypsipyle. In either case, a manly competitive event is associated with a khlaina and comes first, while erotic intercourse with women is associated with the pharos and comes second. The same sequence is observed on Ithaca. First, there is the mention of Odysseus’ khlaina. He does not appear to Penelope wearing it, as he might have done twenty years prior, and as Jason appears to Hypsipyle, but its description serves a parallel function: both to remind her of that earlier appearance and in a sense to re-enact it verbally. Later, after the bow contest and what he himself ironically and cruelly calls an aethlos (Odyssey 22.25), namely the murder of the suitors, Odysseus wears a pharos, in a wedding-tinged scene. The khlaina appears only in words, but in its proper place.

The khlaina may be actually a part of the festival, one of its ritual props. Just as Odysseus’ cloak is similar to Jason’s in terms of the morphology of myth, so its setting, widely understood, is, in terms of its ritual echoes, uncan- {126|127} nily reminiscent of the mythical Lemnos visited by the Argonauts. Burkert discusses in detail the parallels between the myth of the Lemnian women and the Argonauts, and a yearly ritual on Lemnos, one of the clearest examples of a ritual period of reversal, dissolution, and devastation followed by a renewal of life. [20] Philostratus of Lemnos reports that every year fire would be extinguished on the island for nine days and during this time funerary sacrifices would be performed and secret subterranean deities would be called upon. The new, pure fire would then be brought from Delos and distributed for all necessities of life, especially the crafts of Hephaestus, and then it would be said that a new life began on the island. [21] Burkert suggests that one of these nine fireless days is also mentioned by Myrsilus of Lesbos, who says that for one day every year the women of Lemnos would stay away from men and even somehow drive men away by their smell, surely the ritual equivalent of the terrible stench inflicted by Hera on the Lemnian women in myth. [22] Burkert hypothesizes that there was also a departure of the king, corresponding to the departure, in myth, of Thoas, the king of the island and the only male to escape death. [23] Somehow, though it is hard to say exactly how, Dionysus seems to have been involved, perhaps playing a role in the return of the fire. Burkert points to the popular motif of the drunken Hephaestus being brought back to Olympus by Dionysus. Thoas is Dionysus’ son and has a distinctly Dionysiac name (‘the fast one’). [24] The coins of the city of Hephaistia, where the festival took place, show a ram, suggesting that a ram sacrifice was part of the festival, felt caps of the Cabiri, and grapes and vines. [25] The felt caps of the Cabiri establish a connection with nearby Samothrace and their cult and {127|128} mysteries there, but there were also cults of the Cabiri on Lemnos itself and a shrine to them near the city of Hephaistia. [26] In one myth, the Cabiri are children or grandchildren of Hephaestus who fled from Lemnos in horror at the women’s grisly act. [27] Burkert writes: “From the standpoint of the cult and the pre-Greek perspective, the Argo is the ship of the Cabiri bringing new fire and new life,” adding that the Dioskouroi, who accompany Jason, were often identified with the Cabiri. [28] Εven Jason’s name may point to a connection with the Cabiri or at any rate to Samothrace, since it is hardly different from Iasion, a character who is, in various sources, the husband of Demeter, brother of Dardanus, husband of Cybele, and father of Plutus, and who played a role in the Samothracian mysteries. [29]

The Lemnian city of Hephaistia dedicated its festival of dissolution and renewal to Hephaestus, its patron deity, not to Apollo, and it took place in August, not in winter or early spring as Odysseus’ return does. In the Odyssey there is no hostility between the sexes (rather, the opposite is the problem in Odysseus’ household) and fire does not disappear from Ithaca. In short, there is no question of drawing direct parallels between the Odyssey and the Lemnian rites. Moreover, the connections between the myth of the Argonauts and these rites are themselves problematic, though tantalizing. A ship is involved in both cases, and it brings new life to the island. Beyond that core event the analogies and connections are harder to tease out: was the day of bad-smelling women really a part of Hephaistia’s festival, one of the nine fireless days? Do the images on Hephaistia’s coins necessarily have to do with the city’s main festival? What was the role of the Cabiri on the island and how far back does it go? These are all unanswered questions, compounded by the fact that the evidence we have ranges from the myth of the Argonauts, too ancient for us to see its roots, to the observations of a philosopher during the Second Sophistic.

On Lemnos, King Thoas is the son of Dionysus, and the same god, who is rarely on stage in Homer, may be lurking behind the scenes in the Odyssey. Suitors are repeatedly depicted as drinking, and when the first of them, Antinoos, is struck down by Odysseus’ arrow the drinking cup falls out of his hand (22.17). The suitors also suffer from terror and mental distraction, and although it is Athena, not Dionysus, who afflicts them, the description of their fright has a distinctly Dionysiac flavor, including even the oistros, the gadfly, which often appears in connection with Dionysus and is so common a metaphor for frenzy that the word itself acquired the meaning ‘madness’: [31]

δὴ τότ’ Ἀθηναίη φθισίμβροτον αἰγίδ’ ἀνέσχεν
ὑψόθεν ἐξ ὀροφῆς· τῶν δὲ φρένες ἐπτοίηθεν.
οἱ δ’ ἐφέβοντο κατὰ μέγαρον βόες ὣς ἀγελαῖαι·
τὰς μέν τ’ αἰόλος οἶστρος ἐφορμηθεὶς ἐδόνησεν
ὥρῃ ἐν εἰαρινῇ, ὅτε τ’ ἤματα μακρὰ πέλονται·

(Odyssey 23.297–301)

And then from high above on the roof Athena held up her aegis
that destroys mortals. Then their minds grew distraught,
and they stampeded all over the hall, like cows in a herd
when a darting horse-fly attacks them and sends them spinning,
in the season of spring, when the days are long. {129|130}

Thracian wine also plays an all-important role in the cave of the Cyclops (Odyssey 9.198, 345–374). Is it an accident that the name Thoas also appears in the Odyssey? The Aetolian Thoas, who in Odysseus’ lying tale runs off and leaves behind his cloak, is not so remarkable a character in the Iliad as to justify his inclusion in the ambush along with big-shots like Odysseus and Menelaos. It has been suggested that his appearance in the Odyssey is completely ad hoc, has no traditional background, and is simply invited by his name, which means ‘swift’. Alternatively, it may be rhetorically advantageous for Odysseus to describe an Aetolian being deceived, since Eumaeus reports being taken in by an ‘Aetolian man’ (Odyssey 14.379). But the Aetolian Thoas is also a grandson of Oineus, whose name is derived from the word for ‘wine’, suggesting that in this case too, as clearly in the case of the Lemnian Thoas, this swiftness is specifically of Dionysiac nature. What went into the choice of Thoas will remain a mystery, but it is at least possible that the name was felt to have connotations appropriate to the moment. Casting off one’s cloak and running seems to be a pattern, since it is repeated in the Iliad, where the person doing it is none other than Odysseus himself. This may seem (or be) too slight a connection to justify any talk of traditional collocation, but it equally well may be just such a collocation, its outlines faint only because we are lacking so much of the relevant lore. To make things even more complicated, Odysseus runs in order to stop the Achaeans from leaving and to call them back to order, and the person whom he has to chastise most personally is another Aetolian, Thersites, whom Odysseus beats and threatens with taking away his cloak and khiton (Iliad 2.261–262). Was there actually something specifically Aetolian about casting off one’s cloak and running? The circle of associations closes with the interaction of Odysseus and Thoas beyond Homer: just as Odysseus hits Thersites in the Iliad, so Thoas thoroughly thrashes Odysseus in the Cycle, in order to make him unrecognizable. [
32] A version of the same story is present in the Odyssey: Odysseus dresses up as a beggar and enters Troy where he is recognized by Helen alone (4.244–258). The assistance of Thoas is not mentioned, perhaps because being bruised, even voluntarily, does not enhance Odysseus’ nobility. Beyond the {130|131} Odyssey, however, Odysseus has a definite tendency toward the comedic and grotesque, and it is possible that in other poems he cut quite a different figure from his Odyssean self. In any case, his associations with the Aetolians may have some reality behind them, since Odysseus also has a cultic connection to the region. Aristotle mentions that there was an oracle of Odysseus among the Eurytanes in Aetolia. [33]

In the Lemnian myth a herald named Aithalides negotiates between the women and the Argonauts, and Odysseus too seems to have peculiarly strong ties with heralds. He describes for Penelope the herald Eurybates, who followed him from Ithaca to Troy, and adds that he was close to Odysseus (Odyssey 19.244–248). This Eurybates appears in the Iliad as well, in Book 2, precisely when Odysseus, in a hurry to stop the Achaeans from fleeing, flings away his cloak and runs. Eurybates picks up the cloak (Iliad 2.183–184). As with Thoas, one may wonder whether the fact that Eurybates appears in connection with a cloak in both poems is a coincidence or a result of the association of ideas whose meaning is no longer transparent. It seems more prudent and realistic to assume that there is something here we are missing than to accept such an intricate network of coincidences.

In Apollonius Rhodius, Aithalides is a Thessalian, but his only moment in the limelight comes on Lemnos, when he approaches Hypsipyle on behalf of the Argonauts. It is on this occasion that Apollonius tells of Aithalides’s unusual fate: as a gift from his father Hermes, the herald has an unfailing memory, which he will keep even in the Underworld, and in addition to this, his soul will alternate between being in Hades and being among the living. The same information regarding Aithalides was known to Pherecydes. [34] Burkert sees a connection between the name Aithalides and the fact that {131|132} Lemnos was called Aithale (‘the sooty one’). Both names are derived from aithale, ‘soot, ashes’, and seem fitting for the island of Hephaestus, especially since Stephanus of Byzantium connects the name Aithale with metallurgy. [35] The festival of Hephaistia has to do with fire, and the root aith– fits into this context. This is, of course, also the root of Odysseus’ assumed name, Aithon, and of the bird-name aithuia, in whose guise Ino-Leukothea assists Odysseus in his return to the living by saving him from death at sea (Odyssey 5.337). What makes these connections seem noteworthy is partly the fact that all these words are relatively rare and partly the fact that both personal names, Aithalides and Aithon, are associated with return from the dead. Ino-Leukothea certainly shares this association. This suggests that the root aith– was associated with the notion of survival and return from the dead. Or, to put it in another way, it is possible that when fire and burning were associated with this notion, ritually and otherwise, they tended to be denoted by the root aith-. Odysseus’ salvation with Ino’s help is certainly metaphorically expressed in the Odyssey through the image of fire. When Odysseus finally reaches the shores of Skheria, he finds some dense bushes and makes a shelter for himself under their branches. As he falls asleep there under a pile of dry leaves, Odysseus is compared to a firebrand concealed by ashes:

ὡς δ’ ὅτε τις δαλὸν σποδιῇ ἐνέκρυψε μελαίνῃ
ἀγροῦ ἐπ’ ἐσχατιῆς, ᾧ μὴ πάρα γείτονες ἄλλοι,
σπέρμα πυρὸς σῴζων, ἵνα μή ποθεν ἄλλοθεν αὕοι,
ὣς Ὀδυσεὺς φύλλοισι καλύψατο.

(Odyssey 5.488–491)

As when someone conceals a firebrand under the black ashes,
far away in the country, where there are no neighbors,
saving the seed of the fire so that he will never have to rekindle it from elsewhere.
That is how Odysseus concealed himself under the leaves.

In another instance of a striking echo, the language used in Book 5 to describe Odysseus’ makeshift refuge is repeated almost exactly in Book 19, when Odysseus as Aithon is already on Ithaca. There, the thicket conceals not Odysseus himself, but the boar, who leaps out of his lair with fire in his {132|133} eyes to inflict the identity-laden thigh wound on Odysseus and be killed by him (Odyssey 19.439–454).

According to Pindar, the race in armor at the Argonaut games on Lemnos is won by Erginos, whose hair is gray as if with age (Olympian 4.19–26). According to the scholia, Erginos is first mocked by the women for competing with the young, but then demonstrates his actual age in the contests. [37] Burkert sees here a hint at Hephaestus’ victory in his own city, since the name Erginos, ‘Worker’, seems appropriate for the god. [38] This is another point of contact within the Odyssey, the notion of an older man winning in competition with the young, or perhaps of a man seeming old but in fact being young. Odysseus wins both against the Phaeacian youths and against the suitors. The games on Skheria, moreover, are followed by the song of Ares and Aphrodite, where {133|134} Hephaestus appears in person and triumphs over a younger and mightier god. [39] This has long been seen as a reflection on Odysseus, though the parallel is not exact (Odysseus does not do on Ithaca what Hephaestus does in the song). [40] Still, the very appearance of Hephaestus, and the fact that in the song the apparently weak and older craftsman is, if not more, then certainly no less capable than the young and powerful Ares, is indeed reminiscent of Lemnian notions about the god, as reconstructed by Burkert. Moreover, Odysseus’ repeatedly mentioned skill at carpentry also allies him with both Erginos and Hephaestus, both artisans. In a scene that has already been mentioned above, Odysseus wins a race at the funeral games of Patroklos, and Antilokhos, a youth, comments on the unusual fact that an older man, his hair half-gray, is faster than the young. In Pindar’s Olympian 4, Erginos also triumphs in speed, and claims that his gray hair is no indication of age:

οὗτος ἐγὼ ταχυτᾶτι·
χεῖρες δὲ καὶ ἦτορ ἴσον. φύονται δὲ καὶ νέοις
ἐν ἀνδράσιν πολιαί
θαμάκι παρὰ τὸν ἁλικίας ἐοικότα χρόνον.

(Olympian 4.24–26)

Such am I in speed.
My hands and heart are equally good. Even on young men
gray hair often grows
before the fitting time of their age.

Here, Erginos only gets a crown, but there is little doubt that in other versions of the story he must have received a cloak too, since these are the same games on Lemnos which elsewhere, including in Pindar, are said to have cloaks for prizes. [
41] {134|135}

The mental exercise of teasing out similar elements in a Lemnian myth and festival complex and in Odysseus’ return does reveal unexpected points of contact. Elements such as the prominence of the root aith– or the superior speed of a white-haired hero are especially valuable because they are not obviously motivated by their immediate contexts. There is no clear reason why Ino should appear as an aithuia and not some other bird, or why Odysseus should win the footrace in the Iliad. These are points of contact, though not necessarily of direct contact. There is no reason to think that the Odyssey was influenced by Lemnian myth or ritual, or vice versa. It is more likely that what the comparison reveals are elements of a cultural vocabulary that was used at different times, in different ways, and in different places to communicate related ideas. The Lemnian festival and the Odyssey can be seen as two different utterances that both make use of this traditional vocabulary, and there must have been other such utterances that are lost to us.

Tracing the connotations of Odysseus’ cloak has lead to a wide range of associations congruent with themes and notions already present in the Third Cretan Lie. The cloak adds another element to these themes and plays its own role in the conversation. Like everything else Odysseus says to Penelope, his description of the cloak is not just a recollection, nor even just a sign for his wife, though it is all these things. In the setting of Apollo’s festival and in the context of so many other ritual hints, signals, and echoes, the cloak-speech acquires special weight and potency. It also, like everything else Odysseus says, becomes a speech act in the sense that by saying it Odysseus takes part in Apollo’s festival and enacts, within its ritual framework, his own return. In addition to its immediate function of making Penelope recognize Odysseus’ clothes and confirming the beggar’s identity, the cloak is part of a deeper communication between Odysseus and his internal and external audiences, because it is a part of an intricate, variable, but resilient and probably very ancient complex of ideas. {135|}


[ back ] 1. Harsh 1950:11.

[ back ] 2. Block 1985:11.

[ back ] 3. Odyssey 14.462–506. For analysis of Odysseus’ cloak tale see Block 1985:6 (who believes the tale to be modeled on the Doloneia) and Newton 1998:143–56, who discusses the way the story alludes both to other parts of Odyssey 14 and to the Iliad, and analyzes its rhetorical effects as an ainos for Eumaeus. See also Brennan 1987:1–3, for whom the fact that it is Aetolian Thoas who is duped by Odysseus is significant, since he believes that this is a joke at the expense of what he sees as a rival Aetolian epic tradition. Though I find it reductive to say that this tale is based on the Doloneia, there are certainly similarities between these two ambush narratives. For more on this question, see below, pp130–131.

[ back ] 4. See also below pp115-116.

[ back ] 5. Though Eumaeus may have his suspicions. Roisman (1990) and Ahl and Roisman (1996:167–181) offer a detailed discussion of Eumaeus’ first encounter with Odysseus and suggest that the swineherd entertains suspicions regarding the beggar’s identity, or at least regarding his status, since he treats him as an important person.

[ back ] 6. Metis might be translated as ‘artifice’ or ‘stratagem’, as suggested by Nagy 1979:45–49. For an expanded and informative discussion of the meaning of metis in Homer see Detienne and Vernant 1978:11–26.

[ back ] 7. See Heitman 2005:54–55 for a brief survey of suggested translations, including his own, ‘artless’. This translation, however, does not fit certain instances: Nestor, for example, can hardly be called ‘artless’, yet Athena calls him pepnumenos at Odyssey 3.20, right after mentioning, at 3.18, that he is likely to hide some metis in his mind. When Athena says that Nestor will not tell a lie because he is so pepnumenos, she is not saying that Nestor is artless or straightforward, but rather that he will understand that at this point it would be inappropriate to lie to Telemachus. I am grateful to Robin Greene (unpublished work) for clarifying this point. Moreover, ‘artless’ adds a negative tinge to the adjective, which is always positive in Homer. Finally, this translation completely divorces the participle from its verb πέπνυμαι, which has nothing to do with being artless. The verb, in Homer at least, quite clearly has to do with mental vigor and intelligence, perhaps especially with moral intelligence (Odyssey 10.495 is an especially clear example; the verb is applied to Odysseus and seems to have a moral aspect to it at Odyssey 23.210). The use of pepnumenos in the Odyssey as it applies to Telemachus is analyzed by Roisman (1994) and Heath (2001). For a full survey and a balanced analysis of meaning see Cuypers in Lexikon des frühgriechischen Epos s.v. One of the difficulties with the word is that it seems to combine a cognitive evaluation (intelligent, reasonable, able to correctly interpret social situations etc.) with a moral one (gentlemanly, proper, wise).

[ back ] 8. More on this below, pp271, 279, 322.

[ back ] 9. Odyssey 3.126–183. Nestor does not say that he quarreled with Odysseus, but I am persuaded by Frame’s (2009:175–193) detailed discussion of the scene that this is implied. According to Nestor’s narrative, Odysseus first sails from Troy to Tenedos along with Nestor, while Agamemnon stays on at Troy. In Frame’s analysis (2009.182), this represents a division between those who will return safely and those who will not, and Odysseus initially joins the former. Then Nestor and Odysseus apparently quarrel at Tenedos and Odysseus returns to Agamemnon. Frame shows that the quarrel and Odysseus’ subsequent separation from Nestor ensures for him a long and difficult return instead of the quick and safe return that Nestor provides for those who stay with him. Further, the divergence of the two heroes at this point correlates to their different types of intelligence (Frame 2009.192–193).

[ back ] 10. On Odysseus as a younger brother of Idomeneus in the Third Cretan Lie see Chapter Four.

[ back ] 11. Pindar Olympian 7.86, 9.97–98 with scholia and Nemean 10.44, Photius Lexicon s.v. Πελληνικαὶ χλαῖναι, Ηesychius s.v. Πελληνικαὶ χλαῖναι, Suda s.v. Πελληνικαὶ χλαῖναι (which names the games Heraia, rather than Hermaia, probably by mistake), Strabo 8.7.5, Pollux Onomasticon 7.67, Scholia to Aristophanes Birds 1421.

[ back ] 12. Pindar Olympian 9.98 with scholia; Olympian 13.109, Nemean 10.44 mention Pellenian games and these may well be the Hermaia, though the scholia identify them as Theoxenia in honor of Apollo. The relationship between the two is unclear, and the information provided by scholia inconsistent: a scholion to Olympian 9.98 mentions both games as if they were independent, but another scholion to Olympian 7.86 claims that these were the same games. Johnston hypothesizes that the Theoxenia may have been added to the existing Hermaia at some point under Delphic influence, since elsewhere festivals called Theoxenia were usually held in honor of the Dioskouroi (or Herakles), whereas Delphi held a well-known Theoxenia in honor of Apollo (Johnston 2002:117).

[ back ] 13. Plato (Lysias 206d) and Aeschines (1.10) mention only παῖδες and νεανίσκοι as competitors at the Athenian Hermaia, and there is plentiful (though mostly Hellenistic) epigraphical evidence for Hermaia as games for youngsters. See Johnston 2002:116 for a discussion with references.

[ back ] 14. See Meuli 1921 for a discussion of the Odyssey’s relation to an oral Argonautica.

[ back ] 15. See Murray 2005, especially 92–99 on the question of who actually builds the ship in Apollonius’ Argonautica and its ramifications.

[ back ] 16. Burkert 1983:192.

[ back ] 17. As mentioned above, we find Odysseus wearing a pharos in both wedding-tinged scenes in the Odyssey, one involving Nausikaa and the other in Book 23, when Odysseus faces Penelope. In the Argonautica too, while Jason first appears to Hypsipyle wearing his double cloak, the robe that is later specifically associated with their love is a different one, a pharos, which is said to be a memento of much love-making (3.1204–1206). There are also female garments that are explicitly associated with weddings both in the Odyssey and in Argonautica, and in both poems these pass through the hands of the males. In the Odyssey, Helen gives Telemachus a peplos for his bride (15.123–129). In the Argonautica, Dionysus gives a peplos to his son Thoas, who in turn gives it to his daughter Hypsipyle, and she to Jason (4.421–428).

[ back ] 18. See note 11 above.

[ back ] 19. See Nagy 1990:122 for a discussion of the notions of struggling for one’s life, symbolic death (for those who lose), and survival (for the winner) in actual ritual contest in Ancient Greece, building on the findings of Meuli (1968) and Sansone (1988).

[ back ] 20. Burkert 1983:190–195.

[ back ] 21. Philostratos Heroikos 740 Kayser.

[ back ] 22. FGrH 477 F1 = Scholia to Apollonius Rhodius 1.615. Burkert 1983:193. Athenian women at Skira achieve the same effect by chewing on garlic: Philochorus FGrH 328 F 89.

[ back ] 23. Euripides Hypsipyle fr. 64.111, Anthologia Palatina 3.10, Apollonius Rhodius 1.620–626, Theolytos FGrH 478 F 3, Xenagoras FGrH 240 F 31, Scholia to Apollonius Rhodius 1.623, scholia to Pindar Olympian 4, scholion 31b.4 Drachmann. Euneos, son of Jason and Hypsipyle mentioned in the Iliad 23.747, was also the founder of the line of Euneidai, priests of Dionysus Melpomenos at Athens (Toepffer 1889:181–206).

[ back ] 24. Maenads (in poetry, at least) are prone to rushing and run already in Homer. For example, Andromache rushes out like a maenad (διέσσυτο μαινάδι ἴση, Iliad 22.461) when she hears the sounds of upheaval and suspects that Hektor has come to harm. The adjective θοός and the verb θοάζω are frequently applied to maenads or appear in Dionysiac contexts. For example, both words are attested in Euripides Bacchae about maenads and the women of Thebes: θοάζω 
Βρομίωι πόνον ἡδὺν (65), ἐν δὲ δασκίοις ὄρεσι θοάζειν (219), ἴτε θοαὶ Λύσσας κύνες (977). Cf. also the occurrences in Euripides’ Trojan Women: μαινὰς θοάζει (307), μαινὰς θοάζουσ’ (349), and the name of the maenads associated with Parnassus: Thyiades.

[ back ] 25. Head 1967:262–263, Cook 1940, vol. III. 232–235.

[ back ] 26. Excavation reports in ASAA 1939/40.223–224, 1941/43.75–105, 1952/54.317–40. See Burkert 1983:194 for further references.

[ back ] 27. Photius, Lexicon s.v. Κάβειροι.

[ back ] 28. Burkert 1983:195.

[ back ] 29. Odyssey 5.125–128, Hesiod Theogony 969–974, Catalogue of Women fr. 185.6 MW, Hellanicus FGrH 4 F 23, Diodorus Siculus 5.48–49.

[ back ] 30. The most famous vase is a black-figure skyphos from the fourth or late fifth century BCE (Oxford, Ashmolean Museum G249) which shows on one side Odysseus and Circe at her loom; on the other side Odysseus (inscribed Olyteus) is shown on an improvised raft holding a trident and being blown along by Boreas (inscribed Borias): Wolters and Bruns 1940:109. There are several other Cabirion vases with Odysseus, including, for example, another skyphos from the fourth century with Odysseus and Circe and Odysseus’ companions turned into swine (Nauplion, Archaeological Museum 144) and yet another skyphos with Odysseus, Circe, a loom, and vines (University of Mississippi P116, Wolters and Bruns 1940:100). The initial publication of ceramics from the Cabirion is Wolters and Bruns 1940, augmented by Braun and Haevernick 1981. Braun (Braun and Haevernick 1981:26–29) suggests that these caricature images may represent scenes from Middle Comedy, and is followed in this assessment by Webster and Green (1978:39). Schachter (1986:99) notes, in support of this idea, that the cavea at the site was enlarged during the same period when most of the Cabirion-ware vases were produced. See Schachter 1986:99–100 on theatrical performances at the Cabirion during the panegyris.

[ back ] 31. Levaniouk 2007:190–191.

[ back ] 32. Scholia to Lycophron 780. The scholiast first reports a story in which Odysseus persuades Thoas to strike him with violent blows (πληγαῖς βιαίαις) in order to make him unrecognizable. This seems to echo the account of the episode in Odyssey 4, where Odysseus disfigures himself with ‘unseemly blows’ (πληγῇσιν 
ἀεικελίῃσι, Odyssey 4.244). Then the scholiast comments specifically on what is reported in the Little Iliad. Presumably the part about Odysseus’ request is also from the Little Iliad, but that is not clear from the scholia. What is definitely ascribed to the author of the Little Iliad is that Thoas wounded Odysseus (ὁ τὴν μικρὰν Ἰλιάδα γράψας φησὶ τρωθῆναι τὸν Ὀδυσσέα ὑπὸ Θόαντος, ὅτε εἰς Τροίαν ἀνήρχοντο), and possibly scarred him with sticks (the text is corrupt here).

[ back ] 33. Scholia to Lycophron 799: (Aristotle fr. 508 Rose) Ἀριστοτέλης φησὶν ἐν Ἰθακησίων πολιτείᾳ Εὐρυτᾶνας ἔθνος εἶναι τῆς Αἰτωλίας ὀνομασθὲν ἀπὸ Εὐρύτονος (Εὐρύτου Tzetz. ad Lyc. p. 790 Müller), παρ’ οἷς εἶναι μαντεῖον Ὀδυσσέως.

[ back ] 34. Apollonius Rhodius 1.641–651, Pherecydes FGrH 3 F 109 = Scholia to Apollonius Rhodius 1.641. Unfortunately, neither Pherecydes nor Apollonius comment further on this strange fate, reminiscent of the Dioskouroi (who are also among the Argonauts). Aithalides has one more distinction: Pythagoras claimed that the herald was his own pre-Trojan incarnation (followed by Euphorbus, Hermotimos, Pyrrhos, and finally Pythagoras), presumably in connection with Hermes’ gift which supposedly allowed the soul of Aithalides to remember all of its past lives and intermittent sojourns among the dead as it continued to migrate into new bodies (Diogenes Laertius, Vitae Philosophorum 8.4–5.). The form of the name, Aithalides, is puzzling: it looks like a patronymic or a clan or guild-name (of the Eupatridai, Homeridai type), but, being the son of Hermes, Aithalides does not have an ancestry that would explain the name. Stephanus Grammaticus (46.21) reports that the deme Aithalidai was part of the Leontis phyle in Athens, and that its name derived from Aithalides.

[ back ] 35. Stephanus Byzantius 46.10, Polybius 34.11.4. There were other places of the same name: Stephanus reports an ‘Etruscan island’ (νῆσος Τυρσηνῶν, 46.5) called Aithale because iron was produced there (he also connects the Lemnian byname with metallurgy).

[ back ] 36. Apollodorus 3.4, 3.28, Pausanias 1.44.8, 2.1.3, Zenobius Cent. 4.38, Tzetzes Scholia to Lycophron 107, 229–231, Scholia to Iliad 8.86, Scholia to Odyssey 5.334, Scholia to Euripides Medea 1284–1289, Hyginus Fabulae 2.4, Ovid Fasti 6.481–498, Servius on Aeneid 5.241. Ino’s frantic flight from her maddened husband, Athamas, and her final jump into the sea are also Dionysiac, and paralleled by the god himself in the Iliad (6.135–136). Jeanmaire saw in Ino a prototypical maenad (1951:208–210); see also Henrichs 1978:137–143. On Ino’s flight see further Burkert 1983:178, and on chase as part of Dionysiac ritual see Burkert 1983:178. See also above, n24, on Dionysiac rushing. Curiously enough, Ino also seems to have a negative connection to the Aetolians, since the latter were excluded, along with slaves, from the precinct at Chaeronea. Plutarch gives an aition for this custom: Ino went mad out of jealousy, because she suspected Athamas of having an affair with a slave girl, who was an Aetolian by the name of Antiphera (Plutarch Greek Questions 267D).

[ back ] 37. Scholia to Pindar, Olympian 4, scholion 32c.

[ back ] 38. Burkert 1983:195.

[ back ] 39. See above, pp72-74.

[ back ] 40. On the relevance and resonance of the Song of Ares and Aphrodite, see, e.g, Braswell 1982, Alden 1997.

[ back ] 41. Erginos has a speaking name which is reminiscent of another mythological carpenter, Polytekhnos, whose name, in turn, is reminiscent of Odysseus’ characteristic epithets, polymetis and polytropos. Polytekhnos, moreover, is reminiscent of Odysseus in other ways. He is married to Aedon, and the couple is extremely well-matched and happy until they become too complacent and boast that their marriage is better than that of Zeus and Hera (Antoninus Liberalis 11, Boeus fr. 1229.8 Powell 1229.8 Powell). Needless to say, the gods destroy the marriage. As I will argue below, Penelope also has a name derived from a bird-name, and shares certain features with Aedon. Moreover, as has already been mentioned, she also thinks that the jealousy of the gods is the source of her and her husband’s trouble. In different ways, Odysseus has points of contract with two carpenters, Polytekhnos and Erginos, suggesting that his own carpentry skills have deep mythological roots.