The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry

  Use the following persistent identifier:

Chapter 7. The Death of Pyrrhos

7§1. As we contemplate the ritual aspects of the Iliadic hero, we are faced with a conflict between a trend and a constant: while Achilles is becoming Panhellenic by way of Epos, the powers of the hero in hero cult remain strictly local. [1] By evolving into the hero of the epic tradition that culminated in our Iliad, the Achilles figure stands to lose his overtly ritual aspects. For illustration, let us consider the inherited poetic diction describing the prestige of a typically local hero in cult, and compare the words that our Iliad chooses to describe the destiny of its own prime hero. By losing his chance to be exempt from mortality and by being awarded as compensation a hero cult at Eleusis that will last for all time to come, the youthful Demophon is described in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter as getting a tīmḗ that is áphthitos ‘unfailing’ (Hymn to Demeter 261, 263). [2] The epithet here is crucial, because heroes are generically distinguished from gods by virtue of not having a bíos ‘lifespan’ that is áphthitos (Simonides 523.3P). [3] {118|119} Achilles, on the other hand, names as compensation for his impending death not tīmḗ but a kléos that is áphthiton ‘unfailing’ (Iliad IX 413). Whereas tīmḗ ‘honor’ is conferred by cult, [4] the prestige that kléos brings is the undying glory of Epos. [5] Within the timelessness of epic, the Funeral of Patroklos will have to serve as indirect compensation to Achilles for the absence of the ritual tīmḗ that is his due. Outside of epic, however, there evolved another form of indirect compensation that befits the Panhellenic hero in the dimension of cult.

7§4. The reality of the cult, however, is based on localization: Pyrrhos was Hero of Delphi because of the local belief that he was buried there (Pindar Nemean 7.34–35). In fact, his grave and the cult that goes with it were officially recognized to be part of the precinct of Apollo himself, as we learn not only from the words of Pindar {120|121} (above, Nemean 7.44–47) [12] and the detailed reports of Pausanias (10.24.6; cf. 1.4.4) but also from the archaeological evidence. [13] This institutional symbiosis of the Hero’s cult with that of Panhellenic Apollo must be correlated with the numerous myths which, although they vary in detail, converge on the theme that Apollo killed Pyrrhos, just as he had killed the father Achilles. [14] A sampling of the documentation can wait until we finish confronting a vital detail: the death of the father and the death of the son are both celebrated as parallel events in Pindar’s Paean 6 to Apollo (lines 78–80: Achilles; lines 117–120: Pyrrhos). Even the traditional exultation iḕ iḗ of the paean bursts forth immediately following the words retelling the death of Pyrrhos (Paean 6.121–122). Since Paean 6 was composed specifically for a Delphic setting and in honor of Apollo, we should be especially mindful of the central role of its hero as the ritual antagonist of the god. For we see here a striking illustration of a fundamental principle in Hellenic religion: antagonism between hero and god in myth corresponds to the ritual requirements of symbiosis between hero and god in cult. [15]

7§8. The myth that we are about to consider is the same one that is celebrated by Pindar in his Paean 6 to Apollo, composed for the occasion of the theoxénia at Delphi. [22] From the words of this composition, we see that Pyrrhos met his death at Delphi as the direct result of a quarrel over slices of meat that were being distributed at a sacrifice:

In another variation on this myth, the killer is not Apollo himself but one of his temple attendants: [

᾽χετο δὲ πρὸς θεὸν
κτέατ᾽ ἄγων Τροΐαθεν ἀκροθινίων·
ἵνα κρεῶν νιν ὕπερ μάχας
ἔλασεν ἀντιτυχόντ᾽ ἀνήρ μαχαίρᾳ.
βάρυνθεν δὲ περισσὰ Δελφοὶ ξεναγέται{123|124}
And he went to the god
bringing the riches of first-fruit offerings from Troy.
And there a man with a mákhaira smote him
as he got into a quarrel over slices of meat.
And the Delphians, conductors of xénoi , were greatly vexed.

Pindar Nemean 7.40–43

The thematic ingredients of (1) the attendant with the mákhaira ‘sacrificial knife’ and (2) the Delphians as xenāgétai ‘conductors of xénoi’ have interesting variants in still other versions of the myth, where the killer is named as (1) Makhaireús, son of Daítās, [
26] or (2) Philoxenídēs. [27]

7§9. Taken on the level of myth, these themes are all pertinent to the ritual of the Delphic theoxénia, which actually involved the awarding of slices of meat from the sacrificial table. [28] Consider the following testimonium, which seems to have survived for us only because of a quaint detail in the ritual proceedings:

διατέτακται παρὰ Δελφοῖς τῇ θυσίᾳ τῶν Θεοξενίων, ὃς ἂν κομίσῃ γηθυλλίδα μεγίστην τῇ Λητοῖ, λαμβάνειν μοῖραν ἀπὸ τῆς τραπέζης.

There is an arrangement among the Delphians, at their festival of the Theoxénia, that whoever brings the biggest gēthullís [a vegetable] to Leto is to get a slice of meat from the sacrificial table.

Polemon ap. Athenaeus 372a

We should note in particular the sacrificial motif of exchanging a vegetal offering for a slice of the sacrificial victim’s meat—called a {124|125} moîra. In Pindar’s Nemean 7, we have seen Pyrrhos himself being featured as one who acts in the ritual manner of the Delphic theoxénia, in that he is making a grand offering from the rich spoils of Troy in return for a slice of meat from the sacrificial table (above, line 42). In fact, even his offerings are called akrothínia ‘first fruits [of war]’ (line 41)—a word with vegetal connotations in that it is primarily appropriate for designating ‘first fruits [of Earth]’ (e.g., Aeschylus Eumenides 834; etc.). [
29] Pyrrhos gets involved in a quarrel over not receiving his due moîra of meat, and Paean 6 describes the issue in dispute as kūriân [or moiriân!] perì tīmân ‘concerning his rightful tīmaí‘ (line 118). [30] Moreover, the theme of being deprived of one’s moîra of meat at the sacrificial table is actually attested in the ritual lore of Delphi.

7§10. In a fragment from the Life of Aesop tradition, we see the following ritual scenario about a particular sacrificial custom at Delphi: [31]

… ἐπὰν [εἰσέ]λθῃ τ[ις] τῷ θεῷ θυσιάσ[ων ο]ἱ Δελφ[ο]ὶ περ[ι]εστήκασι τὸν βωμ[ὸ]ν ὑφ᾽ ἑαυτοῖς μαχαίρας κ[ο]μίζοντες. σφαγιασαμένου δὲ τοῦ ἱερείου [emended to ἱερέως] καὶ δείραντος τὸ ἱερεῖον καὶ τὰ σπλάγχνα περιεξελομένου οἱ περιεστῶτες ἕκαστος ἣν ἂν ἰσχύσῃ μοῖραν ἀποτεμνόμενος ἄπεισιν, ὡς πολλάκις τὸν θυσιάσαντα αὐτὸν ἄμοιρ[ο]ν ἀπι[έ]ναι. …

When someone goes in for the purpose of initiating sacrifice to the god, the Delphians stand around the altar carrying concealed mákhairai . And after the priest has slaughtered and flayed the sacrificial victim and after he has apportioned the innards, those who have been standing around cut off whatever moîra of meat each of them is able to cut off and then depart, with the result that the one who initiated the sacrifice oftentimes departs without having a moîra himself.

Pap.Oxy.1800 fr. 2 ii 32–46 = Aesop Testimonia 25 Perry

The internal motivation for this interesting description has to do with a story about Aesop and how he ridiculed this ritual at Delphi. [
32] {125|126} Elsewhere too, we find what seem to be mostly jesting allusions to the same ritual practice, as in the following proverb: [33]

Δελφοῖσι θύσας αὐτὸς οὐ φαγῇ κρέας
If you sacrifice at Delphi, you will not eat any meat yourself.

Corpus Paroemiographorum Graecorum I 393 (Appendix Proverbiorum I 95)

7§13. We come back to the first song of Demodokos in the Odyssey (viii 72–82), where the implicit theme of a future death for Achilles is correlated with the three other themes of Delphi/sacrifice/quarrel. We have now witnessed a myth about the death of Pyrrhos that—on an altogether different level—has a parallel correlation of these three other themes. The parallelism can be observed in the dimension of form as well: the verb describing the quarrel of Pyrrhos in the Pindaric narrative, [dēri]azómenon (Paean 6.119), corresponds to the one that twice describes the quarrel of Achilles in the Homeric, dērī́santo/dērióōnt (Odyssey viii 76/78). Some aspects of the parallelism, however, are still problematical. Whereas Pyrrhos is killed during a quarrel at a sacrifice in Delphi, the death of Achilles is merely presaged in Delphi—and indirectly at that: Agamemnon apparently thinks that the quarrel of Achilles at a sacrifice is only a sign that Troy will be taken, not realizing that it is also a sign of future pêma for the Achaeans when Achilles withdraws and again later when he dies. The relationship of Achilles to the themes of Delphi/sacrifice/quarrel obviously requires still further scrutiny. Let us begin by going beyond the daís ‘feast’ of the gods at viii 76, in an attempt to understand the overall testimony of hexameter diction about the hero’s relationship to sacrifices in particular and to feasts in general.

7§15. Is there, then, a special relationship of Achilles to the daís? Certainly this seems to be so not only in the case of Achilles but also in the case of all his heroic lineage, according to the Hesiodic passage that describes the Aeacids as follows:

… πολέμῳ κεχαρηότας ἠΰτε δαιτί
… delighting in war as well as in the daís

Hesiod fr. 206MW

The key, I submit, to such a close relationship of the Aeacids to the daís is the etymological connection of the word with the notion inherent in daíomai ‘divide, apportion, allot’. This notion constitutes a mythological theme that runs through the whole line of Aeacids, starting with the prime ancestor himself. The hero Aiakos, in the words of Pindar, was so fair and just as to be worthy of settling matters pertaining to the gods themselves:

The correlation here of the word díkē with the concept of making fair allotments reminds us of the wording used to describe how the honor of Achilles himself is to be tested one more time in the Iliad. As the actual setting for Agamemnon’s final offer of compensation to Achilles in return for having at the outset deprived him of his fair share, Odysseus proposes the holding of a special daís:

αὐτὰρ ἔπειτά σε δαιτὶ ἐνὶ κλισίῃς ἀρεσάσθω
πιείρῃ, ἵνα μή τι δίκης ἐπιδευὲς ἔχῃσθα
But let him [Agamemnon] make amends to you [Achilles] with a rich daís in the tents,
so that you may have no lack in díkē .

Iliad XIX 179–180

It is at this dais, when Achilles is to be tested one more time with the compensation offered by Agamemnon (Iliad XIX 268–281), that he even bids his fellow Achaeans to go and feast (Iliad XIX 275)—though without his participation. [

7§16. As we now follow the line of Aiakos down to his son Peleus, the association of the Aeacids with the themes of the daís becomes more involved. In the words of Pindar, the hero Peleus actually feasted with the gods:

καὶ θεοὶ δαίσαντο παρ᾽ ἀμφοτέροις
καὶ Κρόνου παῖδας βασιλῆας ἴδον χρυ-
σέαις ἐν ἕδραις, ἕδνα τε
And the gods had a daís with each of them [Peleus and Kadmos],
and they [Peleus and Kadmos] saw the royal children of Kronos sitting on their golden seats, and they
received wedding-gifts from them.

Pindar Pythian 3.93–95

The singular occasion for the daís of Peleus, where the Olympian gods themselves attended, was the feast of his wedding with {129|130} Thetis—a traditional theme celebrated by the Cypria as an appropriate setting for the onset of the entire Trojan Cycle (Proclus 102.14–15 Allen). There is an evocative reference to the theme of this daís even in the Iliad, where Hera reminds Apollo that he too had attended:

At this daís celebrating a marriage that led to the conception of Achilles himself, Zeus willed that Éris ‘Strife’ would bring about a neîkos ‘quarrel’ among the gods; these specific themes of éris/neîkos at a daís constitute the opening scene of the Cypria in particular and of the Trojan Cycle in general (Proclus 102.13–19: Éris/neîkos at 14/15). [
46] Short range, these themes are appropriate to the motivation of the Trojan War; long range, the very same themes also provide a setting for the evolution of Achilles as a heroic figure. [47]

7§19. In the beginning of the Iliad, the more pervasive mode of describing the loss by Achilles of his fair share is by way of the noun tīmḗ ‘honor’ and the verbs formally related to it (see especially Iliad I 505–510, 558–559; II 3–4). [55] The word tīmḗ, as we have seen, is also appropriate for designating what it was that Pyrrhos had pursued by quarreling over slices of meat: the hero’s wrangle was “on account of his rightful tīmaí” (kūriân [or moiriân!] perì tīmân: Pindar Paean 6.118). [56] As for Achilles, he loses his tīmḗ ‘honor’ specifically because Agamemnon has taken away his géras ‘honorific portion’: [57]

… ἀτάρ μιν νῦν γε ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν Ἀγαμέμνων
ἠτίμησεν· ἑλὼν γὰρ ἔχει γέρας, αὐτὸς ἀπούρας
But Agamemnon, king of men, has taken away his tīmḗ ;
for he got and keeps his géras, having himself taken it away.

Iliad I 506–507

In this particular case, of course, the géras is a captive girl. Elsewhere in the Iliad, however, the same word refers to a choice cut of meat, le morceau du héros, awarded to the foremost warrior of the moment: {132|133}

Let us contrast again the concern over the tīmḗ of Achilles in Iliad I: The situation is unlike that of Ajax in Iliad VII, in that Iliad I lacks the setting of a daís. Even later on in the Iliad, there seems to be a set of insistent allusions to this initial Iliadic divergence from the theme of the daís, as when Odysseus says to Achilles:

χαῖρ᾽, Ἀχιλεῦ· δαιτὸς μὲν ἐΐσης οὐκ ἐπιδευεῖς
ἠμὲν ἐνὶ κλισίῃ Ἀγαμέμνονος Ἀτρεΐδαο
ἠδὲ καὶ ἐνθάδε νῦν· πάρα γὰρ μενοεικέα πολλὰ
δαίνυσθ᾽· ἀλλ᾽ οὐ δαιτὸς ἐπηράτου ἔργα μέμηλεν …
Hail, Achilles! You are not without a fair daís
either in the tent of Agamemnon son of Atreus
or here and now. There is at hand much that would suit your ménos, for you to have as daís . But the concern is not
about a pleasant daís

Iliad IX 225–228

The detailed side-stepping here of the theme of a dais draws all the more attention to it. The wording of this passage, so strikingly parallel in detail to the one we have considered immediately before (Iliad VII 319–322), again conjures up for us the theme of awarding, in the context of a daís, the choice cut of meat—this time to the foremost warrior of the Iliad in its entirety. And the speaker is {133|134} Odysseus, who had quarreled in another traditional scene with Achilles himself at a daís where the preeminence of the epic heroes was somehow at stake (Odyssey viii 72–82). Later on in the Iliad, again it will be Odysseus who proposes a daís as the setting for Agamemnon’s making amends to Achilles (Iliad XIX 179–180), and it will be at this daís that Achilles finally witnesses the undoing of his loss of tīmḗ (Iliad XIX 268–281). [

7§20. The time has come to underscore an interesting contrast that has been emerging between the figures of Achilles and Pyrrhos. For the Achilles of our Iliad, the restoration of tīmḗ happens at a daís—but the same does not hold for the Strife Scene where he had originally lost that tīmḗ. Pyrrhos, on the other hand, has his Strife Scene on account of his tīmaí at an overt sacrifice; furthermore, his actions mirror closely on the level of myth the proceedings of the sacrifice on the level of ritual. To put it another way, our story of Pyrrhos is much closer to a ritual quarrel over cuts of sacrificial meat than our story of Achilles, where the narrative elements have been considerably stylized—especially in Iliad I.

7§22. Such highly elaborated formal imagery surrounding the Achilles figure in the Iliad distances him considerably from Pyrrhos, that stark figure of a savage warrior who is lunging after a choice cut of meat to which he lays claim. And yet, the same Iliad that stylizes the actions of Achilles to their ultimate epic refinement can also bridge the vast distance of heroic evolution and suddenly picture Achilles on the most fundamental level of savage behavior. The god Apollo, who brought about the death of both father and son, says these words to mark the hero of the Iliad, Achilles himself:

The use of the word daís in this image of stark savagery is particularly striking as it applies to the Achilles figure. Actually, this {135|136} characterization of the Iliadic hero is quite in tune with a latent dimension that keeps surfacing at moments of intense heroic anguish, as when Achilles is grieving over his dead hetaîros:

οὐδέ τι θυμῷ
τέρπετο, πρὶν πολέμου στόμα δύμεναι αἱματόεντος
nor was he gladdened in his thūmós
until he entered the jaws of bloody war

Iliad XIX 312–313

The verb térpomai ‘be gladdened’ can conventionally designate gratification by way of eating (e.g., Iliad XI 780), and it is precisely this theme of eating that functions as the immediate context for the passage under consideration. The elders of the Achaeans are imploring Achilles to eat (Iliad XIX 303–304), but he refuses and insists on keeping a fast (Iliad XIX 304–308, 319–321); while he is fasting, he actually reminisces about the meals that Patroklos used to serve up to him (Iliad XIX 314–318, especially 316). This grim juxtaposition of two images, the bloody jaws of war and the hero who goes without meals while Patroklos lies unavenged, is only part of a ghastly Iliadic theme that finally comes to a head at the moment when a victorious Achilles is standing triumphant over the sprawled figure of a dying Hektor and says:

αἲ γάρ πως αὐτόν με μένος καὶ θυμὸς ἀνείη
μ᾽ ἀποταμνόμενον κρέα ἔδμεναι, οἷα ἔοργας
I wish that somehow my ménos and thūmós impelled me
to slice you up and eat your meat raw, for the things you did.

Iliad XXII 346–347

We recall the simile, uttered by Apollo himself, comparing Achilles to a carnivorous lion whose thūmós impels it to its daís ‘feast’ of sheep (Iliad XXIV 41–43). [
67] So also here, the ménos and thūmós of Achilles are bringing our hero to the verge of a bestial deed. In another simile comparing Achilles with a raging lion (Iliad XX 164–175), the beast is described as impelling itself to fight:

… ἑὲ δ᾽ αὐτὸν ἐποτρύνει μαχέσασθαι
… and it is impelling itself to fight

Iliad XX 171 {136|137}

The stance of the beast is then directly compared to the manner in which the ménos and thūmós of Achilles impel him to fight:

In effect, then, the simile is saying that Achilles has the thūmós of a lion, in that the beast’s intrinsic behavior is set in the same way as Achilles is driven by his thūmós. Little wonder, then, that Achilles qualifies as thūmoléōn ‘he who has the thūmós of a lion’ (as at Iliad VII 228). [
69] Little wonder, moreover, that the mother of Hektor reviles Achilles as ōmēstḗs ‘eater of raw meat’ (Iliad XXIV 207). [70]

7§23. By the end of the Iliad, however, these hideous dimensions of the heroic temperament are a thing of the past, as compassion finally takes hold of Achilles and he restores the body of Hektor to the grieving father. What is more, the setting for this ultimate scene of heroic compassion and refinement is again a feast—this time initiated by Achilles himself (Iliad XXIV 599–601). No sooner said than done, the feast is held, and we get our last Iliadic glimpse of Achilles as he presides over the affair—and actually apportions the sacrificial meat:

… ἀτὰρ κρέα νεῖμεν Ἀχιλλεύς
… and Achilles distributed the meat

Iliad XXIV 626

7§24. To sum up our survey: the Aeacids, we now see, have a special affinity to the theme of the daís, but for Achilles the Homeric tradition expresses this affinity in a manner that downplays the ritual aspects of the daís. For the Achilles figure, the most overt—or the least downplayed—Homeric manifestation of the ritual element is the first song of Demodokos at viii 72–82, where the hero’s future death {137|138} is implicitly linked with the themes of Delphi/sacrifice/quarrel—and these are the same themes that frame the death of Pyrrhos as it is presented in Pindar’s Paean 6 and Nemean 7.

7§26. What kind of epic composition can we imagine that commences not only with an overt sacrifice as the opening scene but also with links to the sacral lore of Delphi? To confront the first part of the question, let us look at the evidence of allusions in actual Homeric diction and theme. The most suggestive passage for our purposes is the lengthy Cretan narrative in Odyssey xiv (192–359), {138|139} told by Odysseus in the guise of a Cretan princeling. The main adventure, an expedition led by our Cretan adventurer to plunder the wealth of Egypt (Odyssey xiv 245–286), is twice directly correlated in the narrative with the great Achaean expedition to Troy (Odyssey xiv 229–231, 235–242). In fact, the hero of the narrative claims that he not only fought in the Trojan War but also was actually the leader of the Cretan contingent, along with the mighty Iliadic hero, Idomeneus himself (Odyssey xiv 237–238). Since the narrative endeavors to enhance the scale of the Egyptian expedition so as to match the epic proportions of the Trojan expedition, it is important to observe precisely how the launching of the enterprise is described. Significantly, the Cretan leader of the expedition to Egypt holds an overtly sacrificial daís lasting for six days (Odyssey xiv 249–251), and only thereafter can his ships sail off. From this passage, then, we infer that a daís might be an appropriate setting to open a narrative about a Trojan expedition.

7§29. The Trojan expedition, as it is presented in its ultimate form by our Iliad, is a grand theme which, by converging on the one main goal of Troy, unites on the level of content the heroic and material resources of the various cultural centers that may each once have had their own epic traditions about conquering various territories. [78] Aside from its centralized thematic concern about the expedition to Troy, however, the Iliad also manages some marginal references to epic traditions about various other expeditions to other places, notably Lesbos (Iliad IX 129, 271, 664), Skyros (Iliad IX 668), Tenedos (Iliad XI 625), and Lyrnessos and Pedasos (Iliad XIX 60; XX 90–92, 188–194; cf. XI 104–112). [79] These expeditions all involve territories that would have been Aeolic at the time that our Iliad took its present shape, [80] and the {140|141} Iliadic references to them consistently stress the heroic preeminence of Achilles. [81] This emphasis on Achilles is particularly striking in the case of Lesbos: the Iliad says that Achilles himself captured all Lesbos (Iliad IX 129, 271), and the significance of such a heroic deed seems to have less to do with the epic fate of nearby Troy and far more with the here-and-now of a Homeric audience in the eighth or seventh century B.C. [82] The Iliad is here verifying something that applies from the standpoint of this era: that the affinity of the Achilles figure with this particular Aeolic island is a matter of acknowledged tradition, incorporated even by Panhellenic Epos. [83]

7§30. From the standpoint of such localized epic traditions, the first song of Demodokos would have been appropriate as the opening of an epic composition about an expedition undertaken by Achilles. Such a composition would have acknowledged the Oracle of Delphi as the authority that inspired the epic expedition, and the setting of a sacrifice would provide an appropriate opening Strife Scene for motivating the eventual death of the main hero who undertook the enterprise. This much I can now say with somewhat more confidence, having found a distant parallel in the form of a Strife Scene at a Delphic sacrifice, leading to the death of Pyrrhos, son of Achilles.{141|}


[ back ] 1. For a brief survey of cult practices in honor of Achilles, see Nilsson 1906:457; cf. also Ch.6§§26/30 above and Ch.20§24n114 below.

[ back ] 2. The word tīmḗ can specify the ‘honor’ that a god or hero receives in cult. (The article s.v. τιμή in Liddell and Scott does not allow for such a distinct semantic category.) The diction of Herodotus about matters of ritual provides adequate illustration for this particular usage of tīmḗ, as at 1.118.2 (cult of a god) and 1.168 (cult of a hero). As for the verb tīmáō in the sense of ‘worship’, see Herodotus 1.90.2, 2.50.3, 2.75.4, 5.67.5 (in the last passage, the cult of the god Dionysos is designated in the same terms as the cult of the hero Adrastos, on whom see also the verb tīmáō at Herodotus 5.67.4). For a clear discussion of tīmḗ as ‘cult’, see Rudhardt 1970:6–7; also Rohde I 99n1. Besides, see Richardson 1974:260–261 on the Homeric Hymn to Demeter 311–312, where the theme of the gods’ getting tīmaí is explicitly correlated with the observance of their respective cults by mortals (see also Hymn to Demeter 353, 366–369). Note that the cult figure gets tīmḗ from two directions: the ‘honor’ is performed by mortals but determined by immortals. On the status of Demophon as a daímōn of cult: Ch.10§10.

[ back ] 3. On the semantics of áphthito-: Ch.10§§3–19. The word for ‘heroes’ in this passage from Simonides is hēmítheoi, which is appropriate in the dimension of cult. See Ch.9 in general and §§15–17, 31 in particular.

[ back ] 4. See n. 2. For the interpretation of tīmā́ at Pindar Nemean 7.31 as applying to Pyrrhos, see Köhnken 1971:46. For the possibility that “the tīmā́ of the Hero” in the Amphictionic law SIG3 145.32 (380 B.C.) refers to Pyrrhos: Burkert 1966b:437. In this case, the word tīmā́ specifies the sacrifice of a bull to the Hero.

[ back ] 5. Ch.1§2. We must also contrast Achilles and Demophon in this regard with Anchises in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite: in compensation for his mortality, Anchises wins immortality neither for his kléos nor for his tīmḗ, but rather for the continuation of his progeny, the Aeneadae (Hymn to Aphrodite. 196–197, 239–end).

[ back ] 6. For the tradition of the double name, see Cypria fr. 14 Allen. The names Púrrhos/Neoptólemos are more appropriate to cult/epic respectively; see especially Usener 1912/1913 [= 1904]:460–461. For the sake of convenience, I will refer to the hero as Pyrrhos. Consider also the interesting variant verse for Iliad XIX 327, where we find Purês instead of Neoptólemos (for a discussion: Delcourt 1965:31–32).

[ back ] 7. On the validity of this Pindaric testimony about the cult of Pyrrhos, see Fontenrose 1960:191–198, with polemics and bibliography. On Nemean 7 itself, see especially Köhnken 1971:37–86 and Lloyd-Jones 1973.

[ back ] 8. For a key factor in this transformation, the First Sacred War of ca. 590 B.C., see Wiechers 1961, esp. p. 24.

[ back ] 9. I refer to the discussion of the problem by Fontenrose 1960:198–205.

[ back ] 10. On the burial of Achilles at the Hellespont: Ch.20§§22–24. On the function of bones in hero cults, see Rohde I: 159–166; cf. also Ch6§29.

[ back ] 11. The Homeric tradition itself, I submit, is informed by many such interrelated Panhellenic phenomena. Following the reasoning of Pfister 1948:151, I would even suggest that the Homeric Catalogue of Ships in Iliad II amounts to a Panhellenic survey of the Homeric heroes from the diverse local standpoints of their primary cults, the locations of which are represented as their respective homelands. On the possibility that the systematization of the Catalogue is derived from Delphic traditions, I cite Giovannini 1969:51–71.

[ back ] 12. See also Pherecydes FGrH 3.63, 64a–b; Asclepiades FGrH 12.15. Note the interesting additional detail that Pyrrhos was first buried under the threshold of Apollo’s temple, only to be transferred later into the area of the god’s témenos ‘precinct’ (for discussion, see Delcourt 1965:44; cf. also Rohde I 197).

[ back ] 13. See Burkert 1972:136n12 for the basic bibliography; also Fontenrose 1960:191–198 and Burkert 1966b:440n2.

[ back ] 14. For a collection of references to the testimonia: Fontenrose, p. 212.

[ back ] 15. See Burkert 1972:17n41, 68; also Burkert 1966:102–104 and 1975:19. Cf. Delcourt 1965:38.

[ back ] 16. Pausanias 10.7.1 (cf. also 2.5.5); scholia to Pindar Nemean 7.58, 150a; Strabo 421. For parallelisms with the traditional lore about King Pyrrhos of Epeiros, see Delcourt 1965:42–43. I should note, however, my disagreement with the notion that the lore about the historical figure is the source for the theme of plundering associated with the mythical figure (cf. also Burkert 1966b:437).

[ back ] 17. The parallelism with Pyrrhos is pointed out by Burkert 1966b:437. On Phlegúās as the eponym of the Phlegúai: Strabo 442c.

[ back ] 18. Pausanias 10.7.1; Ephorus FGrH 70.93; Servius ad Virgil Aeneid 6.618; scholia ad Statius Thebaid 1.713; Eustathius ad XIII 301; etc. For an extensive discussion of the myths associated with the name Phlegúās/Phlegúai: Vian 1960:219–222. We may note in particular the claim, in the scholia (T) to Iliad XIII 302, that the verb phleguân in the dialect of Phokis means hubrízein ‘commit húbris‘. For the connotations of húbris, see Ch.9§§9–10.

[ back ] 19. See Vian 1960:221. For the mythological connection of the Pyrrhos and Achilles figures with the themes of fire, see, in general, Delcourt 1965. One of the most interesting points of formal convergence is the epithet Purrhaíē of Thetis (Hesychius s.v.), who dips the infant Achilles into fire much as Demeter had done to Demophon; see Delcourt, pp. 36–37, Detienne/Vernant 1974:136, and Richardson 1974:237–238.

[ back ] 20. On the theory that the Catalogue is organized on the basis of Delphic traditions: Giovannini 1969:51–71.

[ back ] 21. Ch.4§6.

[ back ] 22. For the relationship of Pindar’s Paean 6 to Nemean 7, see especially Köhnken 1971:71–72, with bibliography. For a pioneering study: Finley 1951.

[ back ] 23. On the basis of μοιριᾶν in the scholia to Nemean 7.94 Boeckh had suggested μοιριᾶν instead of κυριᾶν. For the morphology, I would compare moírios/moirídios with koúrios/kourídios. (For koúrios, see Iliad XIII 433c.)

[ back ] 24. For the argument in favor of this reading, see Lloyd-Jones 1973:131, pace Fontenrose 1960:223n14.

[ back ] 25. In Greek ritual, the priest or attendant may preside as a stand-in for the god himself: cf., e.g., Pausanias 6.20.9. See now Nagy 1996: Ch.3–4.

[ back ] 26. Asclepiades FGrH 12.15; Callimachus fr. 229.7 Pfeiffer; Strabo 421. From these sources, we also learn of the tradition that one of the descendants of Makhaireus was Brankhos, founder of Apollo’s Oracle at Didyma near Miletos.

[ back ] 27. Scholia to Euripides Andromache 53. On the semantics of the word xénos: Ch.12§§12–16.

[ back ] 28. On the reciprocity of the theoxénia, in that the roles of host and guest are interchangeable for gods and men, see Gernet 1968 [= 1928]:32–33. The figure of Pindar himself, by virtue of his poetry on the subject, becomes incorporated into the myths surrounding the Delphic theoxénia—and eventually even into the ritual itself; for a collection of testimonia, see Deneken 1881:9–10. Here again, the most pervasive theme is that a choice cut of meat from the sacrificial table is to be awarded to Pindar, to Pindar’s ghost, or to his descendants. There is a particularly interesting ritual detail in Life of Pindar 92.50–53 Westermann 1845 (see also Drachmann I 216): every day, as the neōkóros ‘temple attendant’ is about to close the entrance to Apollo’s temple, he calls out to Pindar that the poet should have his meal with the god. Note too the tradition that Theóxenos (praised in Pindar fr. 123SM) was the poet’s lover (Life of Pindar 102.11 Westermann). On the connection between the myths in the traditional Lives of poets and the rituals surrounding the hero cults of poets, see Ch.18.

[ back ] 29. For a particularly interesting Delphic attestation, see the regulations of the Labyadai, DGE 323 D.47; the semantics of akro-thin– ‘top of the heap’ are of course readily transferable from agricultural to military contexts (cf. Pindar Olympian 2.4 and Olympian 10.57 besides Nemean 7.41).

[ back ] 30. For moiriân, see again §8n23.

[ back ] 31. The pertinence of this text was noticed by Burkert 1966b:439.

[ back ] 32. For the rest of the text, also connected with this particular story, see Ch.16§7; also Wiechers 1961:15–16.

[ back ] 33. For further allusions, in comedy and elsewhere, see Wiechers 1961:16–18; cf. Delcourt 1965:39.

[ back ] 34. Cf. also the scholia to Pindar Nemean 7.62, describing the attendants’ behavior towards Pyrrhos in these words: ὡς ἔθος αὐτοῖς ‘as was their custom’.

[ back ] 35. See Ch.16§10, esp. n. 45.

[ back ] 36. For this and other parallels, see Burkert 1966b:440n1. Cf. Hymn to Apollo 535–536; cf. also the expression κρέα διαρπάζοντας ‘snatching away the cuts of meat’ describing the Delphians in Pherecydes FGrH 3.64a.

[ back ] 37. Scholia Florentina (=Pap.Soc.Ital. 1094), line 23, to Callimachus fr. 191 Pfeiffer; see also Burkert 1966b:439n2.

[ back ] 38. On the connection of the Aeacids, especially Achilles and Pyrrhos, with the mythology of rituals featuring the pharmakoí ‘scapegoats’ of Apollo, see Wiechers 1961:43–49, with bibliography; cf. also Toepffer 1888:144. For the basic text on pharmakós, see Harpocration s.v., based on Istros FGrH 344.50 (on which there is more at Ch.16§2). For a pharmakós, our attested material indicates stoning or being thrown off a cliff as the primary modes of death; in the case of stoning, we see a specific application of this theme to Pyrrhos in Euripides Andromache 1085–1165.

[ back ] 39. Calhoun 1962:446; cf. Motto and Clark 1969:124n21.

[ back ] 40. For an alternative view, where we see the Homeric hero’s actions not as something modeled on how we ordinary mortals behave but as the epic dimension of heroes who also have a ritual dimension, see Ch.9.

[ back ] 41. At Odyssey iii 420, there is a more specific reference to the very same occasion: θεοῦ ἐς δαῖτα θάλειαν ‘to the sumptuous daís of the god [Poseidon]’.

[ back ] 42. Cf. Motto and Clark 1969:118–119. Of course, everyone gets an equal share not in the sense of the same amount but in the sense of varying amounts equal to the varying worth of each hero. For example, Ajax at Iliad VII 321–322 gets a choice cut of meat in a distribution (daís) that is described as eī́sē ‘equal’ at Iliad VII 320.

[ back ] 43. The use here of daímones to designate ‘gods’ makes the reverse theme of a mortal’s deciding allotments for the gods even more striking, since the word daímōn is derived from the same root as found in daíomai ‘divide, apportion, allot’. For the etymology, see Chantraine I 246–247. For the Homeric theme of daímōn as ‘he who apportions’, see Kullmann 1956:51–56 (cf. also Borecký 1965:75 on Pindar Pythian 3.81–82); also Richardson 1974:257 on the expression daímonos aísēi (further discussion at §21n60).

[ back ] 44. After Odysseus proposes the daís, Agamemnon approves the proposal and calls it en moírēi ‘[said] in proper measure [moîra]’ (Iliad XIX 186). Achilles, however, wishes not to eat while his comrade lies unburied and unavenged (Iliad XIX 199–214), but Odysseus argues for the necessity of having a feast before fighting (Iliad XIX 216–237). In this context, Zeus is called the tamíēs polémoio ‘apportioner of war’ (Iliad XIX 224); in nonmetaphorical contexts, the tamíēs/tamíē is a male/female functionary who allots food (e.g., Iliad XIX 44).

[ back ] 45. The verb antiáō/antiáomai ‘come forth [to get]’ used at Iliad XXIV 62 is appropriate for describing the coming of a god in order to receive the sacrifice that is being offered to him (cf., e.g., Iliad I 67, Odyssey i 25, etc.).

[ back ] 46. The éris/neîkos then extends to the figure of Paris, who has to choose from among Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite (Cypria/Proclus 102.14–19 Allen; also Iliad XXIV 25–30). In the Judgment of Paris, he brings about neîkos for Hera and Athena (νείκεσσε: Iliad XXIV 29) but aînos for Aphrodite (ᾔνησ᾽: Iliad XXIV 30). For the social and poetic significance of aînos/neîkos in the sense of praise/blame, see and the following Ch.12.

[ back ] 47. The Thebais tradition (fr. 3 Allen) also concerns a quarrel, specifically over portions of meat. Oedipus curses his sons because they once gave him the wrong moîra of meat (the iskhíon ‘haunch, ham’ rather than the ômos ‘shoulder’). The theme of the fatal strife that ensues between the brothers Eteo- kléēs and Polu- neíkēs is even reflected in their names; for the implication of poetic genre in the contrast of kléos/praise and neîkos/blame, see Ch.14§12n39 (cf. also Ch.12§7n30). The theme of the moîrai of Oedipus is probably reflected in the expression μήλων ἕνεκ᾽ Οἰδιπόδαο ‘on account of the sheep of Oedipus’ (Hesiod Works and Days 163). For the correlation of mêla ‘sheep’ and the theme of moîrai, see §22n60 below.

[ back ] 48. Zeus wants to alleviate the Earth by depopulating the many heroes who weigh upon it (Cypria fr. 1 Allen). For more on the Will of Zeus, see n. 50 and Ch.5§25n36.

[ back ] 49. See also Iliad I 177, 210, 277, 319.

[ back ] 50. At Iliad XIX 270–274, Achilles says that his quarrel with Agamemnon was the Will of Zeus, so that many Achaeans may die; at the very next verse, Iliad XIX 275, he bids the Achaeans to go and eat at Agamemnon’s feast.

[ back ] 51. Compare this characterization (“strife and war”) with Hesiod fr. 206MW about the Aeacids in general (“feasts and war”), as discussed at §15. Note too that the same words that characterize Achilles at Iliad I 177 recur at V 891 to characterize none other than the god of war himself, Ares! The symmetry is more extensive: whereas Achilles is reproached by the socially superior Agamemnon, Ares is reproached by Zeus himself!

[ back ] 52. In the attested evidence, the closest thing to a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon in the context of a daís is the incident at Tenedos as told in the Cypria (Proclus 104.21–24 Allen). Here the mênis ‘anger’ of Achilles seems to center on his not being invited in time to a banquet, on account of which he loses tīmḗ (see the brief summary in Aristotle Rhetoric 1401b1γ; note too the wording: mênis and atīmazómenos).

[ back ] 53. For the geographical symbolism of the Aithiopes and their realm, see Ch.10§§25–45. As for the chronology of Iliad I, there are of course many details that remain unclear. This much is for sure, however: at the time Thetis is speaking to Achilles, his quarrel with Agamemnon has just happened, and it is here that she tells how Zeus and the other Olympians had left for the Aithiopes on the day before (Iliad I 423–425).

[ back ] 54. See Lowenstam 1975:132–133, (=1981:53) esp. on Iliad XXIII 205–209.

[ back ] 55. On the use of tīmḗ to specify ‘cult’ see §1n2 above. Motto and Clark (1969:119) draw a parallel between the loss of tīmḗ by Achilles and the incident in the story of Meleager (Iliad IX 533–537) where Artemis is deprived of her share in a sacrifice—which, we may note, qualifies as a daís (δαίνυνθ᾽: Iliad IX 535).

[ back ] 56. See §8. Consider also the periodic sacrifice of a bull as “the tīmā́ of the Hero” in a Delphic inscription (§1n4) where the unnamed hero may be Pyrrhos.

[ back ] 57. For more on géras in the sense of ‘honorific portion’ (and tīmḗ ‘honor’), see Benveniste 1969 II:43–50. Beyond the material discussed by Benveniste, I cite the evidence of inscriptions dealing with sacral regulations, where the same word géras (especially in the plural: gérē) specifies a cut of sacrificial meat that is destined for the god who presides over the sacrifice or, less directly, for the priest who performs the sacrifice. For documentation, see Stengel 1910:169–171, Puttkammer 1912:2, and Gill 1974:127–128. Note that the vocabulary of sacral regulations frequently fails to distinguish the god’s portion from the priest’s (Puttkammer, pp. 16–18 and Gill, pp. 128–131). In poetry too, we find the use of géras and tīmḗ in contexts that overtly specify cult—e.g., Hesiod Theogony 392–396. On Hymn to Hermes 112–141, see Kahn 1978:41–73.

[ back ] 58. The translation ‘whole’ for diēnekéessi at Iliad VII 321 is based on the evidence of the inscriptions: in the language of sacral regulations, diānek s marks a portion of meat that is not subdivided, like a whole leg or a whole back (see Puttkammer, pp. 11). Ajax gets the choice cut of meat for having fought with Hektor, who had challenged whoever is the “best of the Achaeans” to fight him (Iliad VII 50–51, 73–75); see Ch.2§3. The theme of ‘the champion’s portion’, le morceau du héros, has important Celtic parallels, discussed by Arbois de Jubainville 1899:45–47, 52, 62–63; cf. also Girard 1902:262, 268–271. In Old Irish saga, the two most relevant narratives are the Tale of MacDathó’s Pig and Bricriu’s Feast; translations are conveniently available in Cross and Slover 1936:199–207/254–280.

[ back ] 59. §15.

[ back ] 60. For a discussion of the etymology and semantics of aîsa: Chantraine I 38–39. For the interesting collocation daimonos aisêi at Hymn to Demeter 300, see Richardson 1974:257. We may add that there are in fact sporadic attestations, in the corpus of surviving sacral regulations, of aîsa designating ‘portion of meat’ (see Puttkammer 1912:40n8).

[ back ] 61. See Lee 1961:196–197. Consider especially the use of aîsa/moîra in expressions for ‘according to destiny’ ~ ‘contrary to destiny’: kat’ aîsan (Iliad XVII 716, etc.) and katà moîran (Iliad I 286, etc.) ~ hupèr aîsan (Iliad III 59, etc.) and hupèr moîran (Iliad XX 336). For more on the convention itself: Ch.2§17, Ch.5§25n36, Ch.15§3n12.

[ back ] 62. For moîra as ‘cut of meat’ in sacral inscriptions, cf. Gill 1974:124n6. The epic convention of correlating the plot at hand with the Will of Zeus (on which see again Ch.5§25n36) seems to be the basis for the imagery inherent in tamíēs polémoio ‘apportioner of war’ as epithet of Zeus (Iliad XIX 224, etc.); see §15n44.

[ back ] 63. Note the correlation of Moîrai and Kêres in Hesiod Theogony 217 (see West 1966:229). For the difficulties of the etymology and semantics, see Chantraine II 526. For an attempt at deriving the word kḗr from the same root *ker– ‘cut’ as in Latin carō, carnis ‘meat, flesh’, see Lee 1961; his most important contribution, in any case, is at pp. 196–197, where he lists the parallel combinations of kḗr and moîra in Homeric diction.

[ back ] 64. For an interesting local-oriented variation on this theme, see Iliad XIII 663–672; for parallel applications of kḗr and its themes to Achilles/Herakles, see Iliad XVIII 115/117.

[ back ] 65. The kléos is áphthiton ‘unfailing’ in that it is a glory conferred by poetry; for the poetic connotations of kléos, see Nagy 1974:244–255. On the contrast in genre between kléos and nóstos: Nagy 11–13; also Ch.2§§3 and 11, to be read in conjunction with and Ch.6§6n16 and 19.

[ back ] 66. Note that the daís of the lion is the meat of sheep, the prime sacrificial animals at Apollo’s Delphi, and that the god’s attendants are conventionally described as slaughtering them eagerly with mákhairai ‘knives’ (Hymn to Apollo 535–537).

[ back ] 67. The expression “yielding to the thūmós” at Iliad XXIV 42–43 (θυμῷ / εἴξας) is a reflexive equivalent of the active expression “[the ménos and] the thūmós impel,” as at Iliad XXII 346 (μένος καὶ θυμὸς ἀνείη). See n. 68.

[ back ] 68. Note that the active construction here (“the ménos and the thūmós impelled”) is drawn into a parallel, by way of the simile, with a reflexive construction at Iliad XX 171 (“the lion is impelling itself”). For the relationship of ménos and thūmós, see Iliad XXII 312–313, where Achilles fills his thūmós with savage ménos (μένεος δ᾽ ἐμπλήσατο θυμὸν / ἀγρίου); this passage is in the immediate vicinity of the threat to eat Hektor raw (Iliad XXII 346–347). On the savagery of Achilles, see esp. Redfield 1975.

[ back ] 69. In the Iliad, Herakles is the only other hero who also qualifies (Iliad V 639).

[ back ] 70. Achilles is the only Homeric hero to be described with this epithet, otherwise restricted to beasts (e.g., dogs at Iliad XXII 67). See also Robertson 1940:177–180 on Pindar Nemean 3.48: the phrasing here concerns animals not yet dead, whose marrow will be sucked by the savage young hunter Achilles (see also Apollodorus 3.13.6).

[ back ] 71. The Iliad not only veers away from the themes of Delphi: it also presents the word óssa ‘voice’ in a negative light, which may be significant in view of this word’s association with the oracular voice of Apollo (see Pindar Olympian 6.61–62). In the Iliad, the False Dream that almost aborts the Trojan Expedition (and by extension the Iliad itself) is equated with Diòs ángelos ‘messenger of Zeus’ (Iliad II 26, 63, 94), which in turn is equated with óssa personified (Iliad II 93). Compare Agamemnon’s false expectations upon hearing the False Dream (Iliad II 36–40) with his false expectations upon hearing the Oracle of Apollo (Odyssey viii 77–82).

[ back ] 72. Even though the daís at the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis is presented more as a banquet than as a sacrifice, the diction at Iliad XXIV 62–63 describes the attendance of Apollo and the other gods in a manner appropriate to gods who come to receive sacrifice. See §16n45.

[ back ] 73. See Vian 1963:83 and Parke/Wormell I 78–79; cf. also Snodgrass 1971:416–417. For a useful bibliography on the Panhellenic importance of Delphi: Giovannini 1969:66n2.

[ back ] 74. For a survey of attested epic traditions about colonizations and the prominent role played in such poetry by the Delphic Oracle of Apollo, see Schmid 1947:148–153.

[ back ] 75. On the Delphic orientation of the Catalogue: Giovannini 1969:51–71.

[ back ] 76. See §6.

[ back ] 77. For an interesting introduction to the traditional genre of ktísis (‘colonization’) poetry, see in general Schmid 1947. One of the most important lessons to be learned from Schmid’s book is that ktísis poetry is fundamentally local rather than Panhellenic in orientation, and that its contents are therefore continually subject to shifts each time the colony itself undergoes shifts in population or politics. Another is that the hero in a poem may be presented overtly as a cult figure (see esp. Schmid, p. 138).

[ back ] 78. See Schmid 1947, esp. pp. 4–8, 83–87, 141–148; also Norden 1922:16 on Iliad II 653–670, the earliest attested passage that refers overtly to the genre of ktísis poetry. In this particular instance, the ktísis of Rhodes, we already see the conventional themes of (1) a formal arkhaiologíā and (2) a description of tribal divisions (Norden, ibid.). As I have done with other Iliadic passages, I reject any assumption that II 653–670 involves the interpolation of a distinct text that is later in date than the main body of the Iliad. Instead, I would again argue that we see in this passage the incorporation of a distinct poetic tradition.

[ back ] 79. There are further references in the Cypria (Proclus 101.4–11; 102.10–12 Allen). See Bethe 1927 III:66–75 for an interesting discussion; I disagree, however, with the relative chronologies offered, as well as with the ad hoc theories of textual interpolation (notably in regard to the passages in Odyssey xxiv about the funeral mound of Achilles).

[ back ] 80. On the archaeological evidence for the Aeolic settlement of the Troad by the end of the eighth century B.C.: Cook 1973:360–363.

[ back ] 81. For a discussion of these expeditions in terms of ktísis poetry, see Schmid 1947:83–87, esp. pp. 86.

[ back ] 82. Similarly with the Hellespont, its navigational importance as the passage to the Black Sea concerns not the second millennium B.C. but rather the period of politically organized colonizations—that is, from the eighth and seventh centuries onwards. See Ch.20§24. For the importance of the thematic affinity between the Achilles figure and the Hellespont, see Ch.20 in general.

[ back ] 83. If we try to reconstruct the situation backward as well as forward in time, we observe that there are stories connecting Achilles with the conquest of Lesbos that are attested in the classical period as well. A particularly interesting example is the story of Achilles and Peisidike (Parthenius Erotica 21), which tells how the hero captured the Lesbian city of Methymna. A variant of this story is localized at Pedasos and seems to be attested already in the Hesiodic tradition (fr. 214MW). See again Schmid, pp. 83–87, 141–148.