Hippota Nestor

  Frame, Douglas. 2009. Hippota Nestor. Hellenic Studies Series 37. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Frame.Hippota_Nestor.2009.

Chapter 5. Iliad 23

{130|131} §2.19 We have so far looked only for similarities between Nestor and Patroclus in their respective bids to become horsemen. There is also a glaring difference between the two, namely that Nestor survived his battle with the Epeians and lived to reach old age, but in his battle with the Trojans Patroclus is slain. It is thus very significant that at the funeral games for Patroclus Nestor is again on hand for the main event, the chariot race. Nestor is too old to compete in this race himself, but his son Antilochus is a contestant, and before the race begins Nestor addresses a lengthy speech to his son on tactics for rounding the turning post. In the actual race that is then described the turning post plays no role. When the race is over and the prizes have been awarded, one prize is left over, and this is awarded to Nestor by Achilles as a memorial of Patroclus, whom Nestor will never see again. This prize should have gone to Eumelos, who had the fastest horses, but who crashed in the race and finished last. Achilles awards Eumelos a special prize, leaving last prize open for Nestor. In accepting the prize from Achilles, Nestor recalls how he once competed in the funeral games for king Amarynkeus in Bouprasion. There he won all the contests but one, namely the chariot race, which he lost to the Aktorione, the Epeian twins. It has never been sufficiently appreciated how striking it is that hippóta Néstōr should have lost only the chariot race on this day. Bearing in mind Nestor’s story in Iliad 11, which tells how he became a horseman for the first time, we may conclude that when he competed against the twins at Bouprasion he had not yet learned to take his brother’s place, and that he had yet to become a horseman. His failure in the chariot race will {131|132} then be relevant to Patroclus, who in his bid to become a horseman brought help to the Achaeans but himself met defeat. [27] {132|133}

§2.20 Nestor does not tell explicitly how he lost to the twins in Bouprasion. What he does say, however, indicates that the fact that they were twins was crucial to their victory (Iliad 23.638–642):

οἴοισίν μ’ ἵπποισι παρήλασαν Ἀκτορίωνε
πλήθει πρόσθε βαλόντες ἀγασσάμενοι περὶ νίκης,
οὕνεκα δὴ τὰ μέγιστα παρ’ αὐτόθι λείπετ’ ἄεθλα.
οἳ δ’ ἄρ’ ἔσαν δίδυμοι· ὃ μὲν ἔμπεδον ἡνιόχευεν,
ἔμπεδον ἡνιόχευ’, ὃ δ’ ἄρα μάστιγι κέλευεν.

Only with the horses did the two Aktorione surpass me,
surging ahead because of their greater number, eager for victory
because the biggest prizes were left for that event.
They were twins, you see; the one steadfastly held the reins,
steadfastly held the reins, and the other urged on with the whip.

Nestor says that the twins drove past him because of their “number” (plḗthei). He then expands on this by saying that each twin had a different function in the race, for while one of them steadily held the reins, the other urged the horses on with the whip. [28] The fact that the twins have different functions clearly suggests the Indo-European twin myth, and the reason for their victory seems rooted in an opposition between their very natures. [29] But if the twins won by their greater number, we may turn this around and say that Nestor lost by the fact that he was only one against two, and this brings us straight to his variant of the twin myth. The reason that Nestor was only one was that he had lost his brother, Periklymenos. If this was the reason for his loss, then the different functions of the two twins also relate to Nestor, and we must ask which function he had and which he did not. The two functions, holding the reins and applying the whip, can be described more abstractly as “restraint” on the one hand and “incitement” on the other. In terms of the Indo-European twin myth, “incitement” suggests the immortal twin’s function of “bringing back to life,” and that is the function that Nestor, by his very name, {133|134} must have had. It follows that the function that he lacked was an ability to control the chariot by use of the reins; “holding the reins,” in other words, must have been the function of the horseman twin, whom Nestor had not yet learned to replace. Failure to control the chariot leads to wasted motion, and this could have caused Nestor’s loss to the Aktorione. [30] But there was a more particular danger for a driver who could not control his horses, and this was the turning post. In order to make the turn the driver had to slow his chariot down, and to do so he had only the reins to use. In Nestor’s description of the twins’ victory, the turning post as the crucial point in the race is suggested by an iconic use of language. The phrase émpedon hēniókheuen, “steadfastly held the reins,” is repeated at the end of one line and the beginning of the next, émpedon hēniókheu’, and the turning post is equated poetically with the verse-end between. In the twins’ race, as it is thus described, one twin steadfastly controlled the chariot going into the turn, and he still had control of the chariot coming out of the turn, and the other twin then applied the whip on the straightaway to finish the race in victory. If we now take the reason for the twins’ victory and turn it around to find the reason for Nestor’s defeat, we must focus on the point in the race that is emphasized in the description of their victory, and this is the turning post. If Nestor lost control of his chariot at this point in the race, there can have been only one result, and this is that he crashed and did not finish the race. [31] If the whole point of this episode is, as I take it to be, to demonstrate Nestor’s lack of horsemanship, then a crash provides by far the most graphic demonstration of it, much more than, for example, a close second-place finish behind the twins. We should also bear in mind that the funeral games at Bouprasion seem to come from Nestor’s own epic tradition. He was clearly the center of attention, winning every contest but one (Iliad 23.634–640). Thus it would seem that even in defeat he must have been the center of attention, and this he would not be if he lost a close and exciting race to the twins. They would be. The episode needs a dramatic finish from Nestor’s standpoint, and this is provided by a crash.

§2.21 Now that we have interpreted Nestor’s story in Iliad 23, we must support this interpretation by considering its wider context in the poem, beginning with the rest of the chariot race in the funeral games for Patroclus. Nestor tells his story at the end of this race in accepting the vacant last prize. {134|135} It is significant that this prize should have gone to Eumelos, who crashed in his race, but who was awarded a special prize by Achilles. Instead of Eumelos, Nestor receives this prize. He then tells his story, which shows to those who understand it that last prize is precisely what Nestor deserved, at least for his race at that earlier time and place. But he also deserves it in the present because it was he who set Patroclus on the course that led to his death, and for this disaster Nestor’s crash, not his later emergence as a victorious horseman, provides the paradigm. Achilles gives last prize to Nestor as a memorial of Patroclus, whom he will never see again. By accepting it, and telling the story of his own youthful race, Nestor acknowledges his role in Patroclus’s fate. But he does so only to those who know his epic traditions, for his crash is no more acknowledged on the surface of the poem than was the real relevance of his story in Iliad 11.

§2.22 But it is not just at the end of the episode, when Nestor receives his prize and tells his story, that his story is present in the chariot race of Iliad 23. His story, to those who knew it, is present from the very beginning of the episode, when Antilochus steps forward as one of the contestants, and Nestor delivers a long speech of advice to his son on tactics for rounding the turning post. In the actual race, the turning post plays no part. It is simply ignored as the description moves from the first half of the race, in which the racers are presented as an undifferentiated group in a short but vivid passage (Iliad 23.362–372), to the much longer second half of the race, in which the individual contests unfold and are narrated at length (Iliad 23.373–533). [32] Since the {135|136} race that actually occurs ignores the turning post, why does Nestor, immediately before the race begins, deliver a 43 line speech on tactics for rounding it (Iliad 23.306–348)? [33] Either there is no reason, [34] or this speech is meant to evoke Nestor’s own race, long before, in which the turning post was decisive.

§2.23 But one would have had to know the tradition for Nestor’s crash to perceive this evocation, for on the surface of the text there are few hints. Indeed, everything in the race that Nestor foresees for Antilochus, and for which he prepares him, is different from the race that we must imagine took {136|137} place between Nestor and the twins. To begin with, and as Nestor himself acknowledges at the outset of his speech, Antilochus is already an accomplished horseman, whom Zeus and Poseidon have taught, and who therefore needs little further instruction. In particular, he knows well how to round the turning post. [35] Antilochus is the very opposite of his father, who had not yet learned horsemanship when he raced against the twins and who, in particular, did not know how to round the turning post. We can imagine a further contrast in the horses that Antilochus uses in his race, and the horses that the young Nestor must have used. Antilochus has the slowest horses and it is for this very reason that he needs to employ the shrewd tactics that he knows already and that his father is now advising him in as well. [36] The youthful Nestor, on the other hand, {137|138} must be imagined as having just the opposite sort of horses in his race, if excessive speed, and the inability to control it, was his undoing.

§2.24 After Nestor points out to Antilochus the marker (a grave) that will serve as the turning post in the race, he gives detailed instructions for rounding it (Iliad 23.334–348). He tells his son to drive his chariot close to the grave and to lean with his body to the left as he enters the turn. As he does so, he is to whip the right-hand horse and give it free rein, but he is to have the left-hand horse come close to the turning post, so that the hub of the chariot wheel seems to reach its very edge. But he must be careful not to touch the stone of the turning post, lest he damage his horses and break his chariot. This would be a joy to the others, but a reproach to himself. Antilochus should be alert and careful at the same time, for if he pulls ahead of the others at the turning post, no one could catch him, no matter how swift his horses.

§2.25 Nestor’s advice is tailored to the slow horses of Antilochus, who is to compensate for his lack of speed by turning as tightly as possible around the turning post. To do this he must achieve exactly the right balance between his horses, inciting the right-hand horse with voice and whip, while guiding the left-hand horse, presumably with the reins, as close as possible to the turning post. This balance is similar to the balance of the Epeian twins in their race against Nestor, when one twin held the reins while the other used the whip. And this was the balance that, we have inferred, Nestor himself lacked in the same race, and therefore crashed. There is thus deep irony when Nestor the old man warns his young son about the danger of a crash at the turning post, especially when he says that such a crash will be a joy to others but a shame to himself (Iliad 23.340–343):

λίθου δ’ ἀλέασθαι ἐπαυρεῖν,
μή πως ἵππους τε τρώσῃς κατά θ’ ἅρματα ἄξῃς·
χάρμα δὲ τοῖς ἄλλοισιν, ἐλεγχείη δὲ σοὶ αὐτῷ

But avoid grazing the stone
so that you don’t somehow wound your horses and break your chariot;
a joy for the others, but a reproach for yourself,
will come of that. {138|139}

But the irony is subtle because the crash that is envisioned in Nestor’s speech would result from guiding the left-hand horse too close to the turning post, and, in terms of the correct balance between the inciting of the right-hand horse and the restraining of the left-hand horse, this would mean an excessive use of restraint. But for Nestor, we have inferred, it was a lack of restraint that caused his crash.

§2.26 Thus Nestor does not really reveal himself as he once was in warning his son about the danger of a crash. The crash envisioned is one that would occur in the race of a skilled charioteer, like Antilochus, who used shrewd tactics but pressed them slightly too hard. But there is another passage in Nestor’s speech of advice in which the old man does describe himself as he must once have been. In this passage he draws a contrast between a charioteer, like Antilochus, who knows how to use shrewd tactics, and who can thus compensate for slower horses, and one who recklessly relies on his horses and chariot and fails to control them. Nestor describes the latter charioteer first, after extolling the quality of shrewdness itself, which Antilochus already possesses (Iliad 23.319–321): [37]

ἀλλ’ ὃς μέν θ’ ἵπποισι καὶ ἅρμασιν οἷσι πεποιθὼς
ἀφραδέως ἐπὶ πολλὸν ἑλίσσεται ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα,
ἵπποι δὲ πλανόωνται ἀνὰ δρόμον, οὐδὲ κατίσχει.

But the one who, trusting in his horses and chariot,
swerves widely from one side to the other without any thought,
his horses stray along the track, and he does not check them.

In the phrase oudè katískhei, “and he does not restrain (his horses),” Nestor, in effect, describes himself, and the irony is as heavy here as it is in the subsequent passage, where Nestor envisions an actual crash at the turning post. Here there is no talk of a crash or of the turning post. But such a crash is easily imagined in the case of the reckless charioteer, especially when the following lines, which depict the skillful charioteer, locate this charioteer’s skill precisely in his ability to round the turning post (Iliad 23.322–323):

ὃς δέ κε κέρδεα εἰδῇ ἐλαύνων ἥσσονας ἵππους,
αἰεὶ τέρμ’ ὁρόων στρέφει ἐγγύθεν…. {139|140}

But the one who, driving worse horses, knows all the tricks,
he, keeping his eye on the turning post, turns close to it….

If the description of the reckless charioteer is actually meant to describe the youthful Nestor, the description of the skillful charioteer is meant to describe Antilochus in the race that he is about to run. This applies not so much to his rounding of the turning post, for that is not described in the actual race, but to what follows it. The skillful charioteer, after rounding the turning post, keeps an eye on the leader, and waits for his chance to seize the lead (Iliad 23.323–325):

οὐδέ ἑ λήθει
ὅππως τὸ πρῶτον τανύσῃ βοέοισιν ἱμᾶσιν,
ἀλλ’ ἔχει ἀσφαλέως καὶ τὸν προὔχοντα δοκεύει.

and it does not escape his notice
how he may first bring his horses to full speed with the oxhide reins,
but he drives steadily and keeps his eye on the leader.

In the actual race it is Antilochus who, after rounding the turning post, keeps an eye on the charioteer in front of him, namely Menelaus, and who seizes the chance to pass him when it presents itself.

§2.27 This brings us to the actual chariot race in Iliad 23, in which there are two distinct contests. That between Antilochus and Menelaus is one, and we have just seen that Nestor’s speech foreshadows it briefly but significantly. The main contest is that between Diomedes, who wins first prize, and Eumelos, who has the fastest horses, but who crashes and finishes last. We will consider both of these contests, because Nestor is deeply involved in both. We will begin with the contest between Diomedes, who wins first prize, and Eumelos, for it is the race of Eumelos, who crashes, that has primary relevance to the race of the youthful Nestor as I have reconstructed it. It is Eumelos’s last-place prize, we recall, that will instead be awarded to Nestor.

§2.28 In the narrative of the race, when all have rounded the turning post, Eumelos shoots out ahead of the rest and Diomedes follows him closely. Diomedes is about to challenge for the lead when Apollo, out of spite, knocks the whip from Diomedes’ hands, and Diomedes’ chariot falls further behind. Athena, Diomedes’ protectress, has seen all this, and she now intervenes in the race. She gives Diomedes back his whip and puts strength in his horses, and, in her own show of spite, she breaks Eumelos’s yoke. With no yoke to {140|141} restrain them, Eumelos’s horses run in different directions and the chariot pole falls to the ground. Eumelos himself tumbles from the chariot, scraping elbows, mouth, and nose, and bruising his forehead. His eyes fill with tears and his voice is stopped. Diomedes turns his horses to one side and passes Eumelos, leaving the rest of the field far behind, for Athena has put strength into Diomedes’ horses and she has given glory to Diomedes himself (Iliad 23.373–400).

§2.29 The race of Eumelos, which is manipulated by two jealous gods, hardly resembles the race that we have reconstructed for Nestor against the Epeian twins, except for the fact that Eumelos too crashes. But there is more to Eumelos’s race in Iliad 23 than the race itself. He also has, as it were, a virtual race, which is presented to us in the form of a dispute that breaks out between two of the spectators, Idomeneus and Ajax. This is narrated following the description of the other contest in the race, that between Antilochus and Menelaus. The spectators are seated together, but they are too far away to see any of the action that has taken place after the rounding of the turning post. This includes all the decisive action in both contests. Idomeneus, who sits apart from the others on higher ground, is the first to hear the voice of the charioteer in the lead, which he recognizes, and to identify the markings of his horse as it comes into view. He rises and calls to the other spectators, asking if they can also see that the leader is no longer who it was when the racers disappeared from view, but someone else. Idomeneus then immediately surmises what has actually befallen the early leader Eumelos, namely that his chariot came to grief on the plain, for he is nowhere in sight now (Iliad 23.460–464):

αἳ δέ που αὐτοῦ
ἔβλαβεν ἐν πεδίῳ, αἳ κεῖσέ γε φέρτεραι ἦσαν·
ἤτοι γὰρ τὰς πρῶτα ἴδον περὶ τέρμα βαλούσας,
νῦν δ’ οὔ πῃ δύναμαι ἰδέειν· πάντῃ δέ μοι ὄσσε
Τρωϊκὸν ἂμ πεδίον παπταίνετον εἰσορόωντι.

I suppose his mares,
which were ahead to that point, were undone on the plain;
indeed the mares that I saw rounding the turn first
I cannot see anywhere now; and my eyes search everywhere
as I look out along the Trojan plain. {141|142}

Having surmised the truth of the matter, however, Idomeneus does not leave it at that, but proceeds to speculate that alternatively the earlier leader crashed not in the open plain, but at the turning post (Iliad 23.465–468):

ἦε τὸν ἡνίοχον φύγον ἡνία, οὐδὲ δυνάσθη
εὖ σχεθέειν περὶ τέρμα καὶ οὐκ ἐτύχησεν ἑλίξας·
ἔνθά μιν ἐκπεσέειν ὀΐω σύν θ’ ἅρματα ἆξαι,
αἳ δ’ ἐξηρώησαν, ἐπεὶ μένος ἔλλαβε θυμόν.

Idomeneus finishes his speech by calling on the other spectators to stand and look, for he is not sure, but he thinks that the new leader is Diomedes. A dispute breaks out when Ajax, son of Oileus, abusively contradicts Idomeneus, calling him a wild talker who is too old to see clearly when the horses are still a long way off. He ends by claiming that the same horses as before are still in the lead, and that Eumelos himself still stands in his chariot holding the reins (Iliad 23.480–481):

ἵπποι δ’ αὐταὶ ἔασι παροίτεραι, αἳ τὸ πάρος περ,
Εὐμήλου, ἐν δ’ αὐτὸς ἔχων εὔληρα βέβηκε.

The same mares are in the lead as before,
Eumelus’s, and he himself stands in his chariot holding the reins.

The dispute escalates when Idomeneus abuses Ajax in return, calling him quarrelsome and inferior to the other Argives, and challenges him to a bet. Ajax is about to make a heated reply when Achilles puts a stop to the unseemly wrangling, calling on both to sit and watch, for they will soon see for themselves how the racers finish. As soon as Achilles ends his speech, Diomedes drives his chariot in, finishing the race in triumph and ending all dispute.

§2.30 In the race that Idomeneus imagines Eumelos to have run, which we may call Eumelos’s virtual race, the gods do not interfere, and his crash takes {142|143} place where it would naturally do so, at the turning post. Eumelos’s virtual crash is, I think, meant specifically to describe Nestor’s actual crash in his youthful race against the Epeian twins. Precisely because Eumelos’s crash is distanced from Nestor in the narrative, it is allowed in its virtual form to describe Nestor’s crash exactly. Nestor’s own speech to Antilochus, as we have seen, alludes in a fragmentary way to his crash, but does not present a complete picture. The main purpose of the dispute between spectators is, I think, to present just such a complete picture. An important part of this picture has to do with the reins. Idomeneus speculates that the reins flew from Eumelos’s hands (ē̂e tòn hēníokhon phúgon hēnía) and that he therefore could not hold onto his horses around the turning post. When Ajax contradicts him, saying that Eumelos’s horses are still in the lead, and that Eumelos himself still stands in the chariot “holding the reins” (ékhōn eúlēra), attention is again drawn to the reins, and this attention, I think, has to do with Nestor’s race. We recall that when Nestor, in accepting the prize that should have gone to Eumelos, tells of his own loss to the Epeian twins, the key to understanding his loss is the repeated phrase used to describe just one of the twins, émpedon hēniókheuen, / émpedon hēniókheu’, “he steadfastly held the reins, steadfastly held the reins.” It is now clear from Eumelos’s virtual race that this phrase must be turned around and applied to Nestor in order to interpret his loss: Nestor did not hold onto the reins, and it was this that caused his crash at the turning post. The phrase that Idomeneus uses of Eumelos, phúgon hēnía, “the reins flew (from him),” is vivid, and would seem to imply that Eumelos, in the mind of Idomeneus, was flailing with the reins to make his horses go faster—that he was using the reins as a whip—and that they slipped from his grasp as a result. This is what we should also imagine for Nestor. His crash was not like the one that he warns Antilochus against in his speech, where the charioteer reins in too hard and turns too tightly. In his own race, Nestor, like the unskilled charioteer that he describes to Antilochus, did not restrain his horses at all, but used the reins to incite his horses, and then let the reins fly from his hands at the turning post, with all the disastrous consequences that Idomeneus imagines for Eumelos: the charioteer prostrate on the ground, his chariot broken, and his horses carried off the end of the course by their own speed. [39] {143|144}

§2.31 If the purpose of Eumelos’s virtual race in Iliad 23 is to make explicit the nature of Nestor’s race against the twins, what of Eumelos’s actual race against Diomedes? Does this race too have something to do with Nestor’s race? Everything in this race is distorted, as we have seen, by the interference of the gods Apollo and Athena. But if we allow for this distortion, connections with Nestor’s race begin to emerge. In the dynamics of Nestor’s race, it was the fact that he lacked “restraint” to balance his “incitement” that led to his crash. Restraint in Nestor’s race was represented by the reins, which one of his twin opponents held steadily, but which Nestor himself let fly. Eumelos too is undone by a lack of restraint in that his yoke, which Athena breaks, represents restraint no less than Nestor’s reins. But Eumelos’s “lack of restraint” is less his own characteristic trait than the result of the goddess’s action, and it is thus of a purely symbolic nature. [40] This is entirely apt if Eumelos’s race is a deliberate transformation of Nestor’s race. The “lack of restraint,” resulting from the broken yoke, is vividly portrayed in Eumelos’s race, as the two horses run in different directions, and the consequences for Eumelos are also vividly portrayed. Everything in this picture is relevant to Nestor’s crash except the breaking of Eumelos’s yoke, and this, as we have seen, is relevant indirectly (Iliad 23.392–397):

ἵππειον δέ οἱ ἦξε θεὰ ζυγόν· αἳ δέ οἱ ἵπποι
ἀμφὶς ὁδοῦ δραμέτην, ῥυμὸς δ’ ἐπὶ γαῖαν ἐλύσθη. {144|145}
αὐτὸς δ’ ἐκ δίφροιο παρὰ τροχὸν ἐξεκυλίσθη,
ἀγκῶνάς τε περιδρύφθη στόμα τε ῥῖνάς τε,
θρυλίχθη δὲ μέτωπον ἐπ’ ὀφρύσι· τὼ δέ οἱ ὄσσε
δακρυόφι πλῆσθεν, θαλερὴ δέ οἱ ἔσχετο φωνή.

The goddess broke his horses’ yoke; the mares
ran apart on the road and the pole slipped to the ground.
He himself rolled from the chariot alongside the wheel,
and his elbows, mouth, and nose were skinned,
and above his brows his forehead was bruised; his eyes
filled with tears, and his vibrant voice was stilled.

§2.32 If the symbol of restraint is shifted from the reins in Nestor’s race to the yoke in Eumelos’s race, the symbol of incitement in both races is the same, namely the whip. In Nestor’s race against the twins, just one of the twins had the function of urging the horses on with the whip (hò d’ ára mástigi kéleuen). In Diomedes’ race against Eumelos, Apollo knocks the whip from Diomedes’ hands and Athena returns it to him. As she does so, she herself performs the function of the whip by putting strength into Diomedes’ horses (Iliad 23.388–390):

οὐδ’ ἄρ’ Ἀθηναίην ἐλεφηράμενος λάθ’ Ἀπόλλων
Τυδεΐδην, μάλα δ’ ὦκα μετέσσυτο ποιμένα λαῶν,
δῶκε δέ οἱ μάστιγα, μένος δ’ ἵπποισιν ἐνῆκεν.

But Athena did not fail to notice Apollo when he tricked
the son of Tydeus, but hurried quickly after the shepherd of the warriors
and gave him his whip, and put incitement into his horses.

In terms of the basic opposition between Indo-European twins, the whip belongs to the immortal twin, whose function is to “bring back to life.” This is precisely the function that the goddess Athena plays in the race of Diomedes, when his horses are slowed by loss of the whip. When we consider Athena’s action in the race, Diomedes’ victory over Eumelos is the victory of two against one, just as the twins’ victory over Nestor was.

§2.33 In the transformation of the twins’ race into Diomedes’ race the essence of that race is preserved by Athena’s action in giving Diomedes back his whip and putting strength into his horses. There are also of course {145|146} significant differences between Athena in Diomedes’ race and the twin who plied the whip in the race against Nestor. It is two against one in Diomedes’ race, but Athena does not ride in Diomedes’ chariot. And yet Athena’s help for Diomedes in the chariot race recalls an earlier occasion when she did mount his chariot and ride with him, namely when he wounded the war god Ares in Iliad 5. [41] That famous battle of two against one provides just the right image if we want to compare Athena and Diomedes, as a pair, to the Epeian twins. [42] But let us focus rather on the differences between these two pairs. When the twins won, each of them—one holding the reins and the other plying the whip—was indispensable to the victory. In Diomedes’ race against Eumelos, he might have won anyway if neither Apollo nor Athena had interfered. He was about to pass Eumelos, or at least draw even with him, when Apollo knocked the whip from his hands (Iliad 23.382–384):

καί νύ κεν ἢ παρέλασσ’ ἢ ἀμφήριστον ἔθηκεν,
εἰ μὴ Τυδέος υἷϊ κοτέσσατο Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων,
ὅς ῥά οἱ ἐκ χειρῶν ἔβαλεν μάστιγα φαεινήν.

And the final difference between this race and Nestor’s race is the negative role that both gods play, as Apollo’s anger with Diomedes is outdone by Athena’s anger with Eumelos, at least in terms of its results. This is jealous anger, for Apollo himself bred Eumelos’s horses (Iliad 2.766), and his anger with Diomedes {146|147} thus derives in some large measure from his support for Eumelos. [44] Diomedes is likewise Athena’s favorite, and the depth of her anger with Eumelos, in causing his crash, is really just the measure of her love for Diomedes.

§2.34 In the transformation of the twins’ race against Nestor into Diomedes’ race against Eumelos, the whip that Athena gives back to Diomedes and the strength that she puts into his horses are the essential points: Athena provides “incitement.” We are not allowed to lose sight of either motif in the rest of Diomedes’ race. When Diomedes turns to avoid Eumelos’s crashed chariot and shoots out far in front of the other racers, Athena provides the horses with ménos (Iliad 23.398–400):

Τυδεΐδης δὲ παρατρέψας ἔχε μώνυχας ἵππους,
πολλὸν τῶν ἄλλων ἐξάλμενος· ἐν γὰρ Ἀθήνη
ἵπποις ἧκε μένος καὶ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ κῦδος ἔθηκε.

The son of Tydeus turned aside and kept his solid-hoofed horses on course,
jumping far out in front of the others; for Athena
put incitement into the horses and set glory on him.

Attention at this point shifts to Antilochus and his race against Menelaus, and here too Antilochus recognizes that Diomedes has Athena’s help; when he calls on his horses to challenge those of Menelaus, he knows that he cannot {147|148} challenge those of Diomedes, for Athena has given them speed and Diomedes himself glory (Iliad 23.403–406):

ἔμβητον καὶ σφῶϊ· τιταίνετον ὅττι τάχιστα.
ἤτοι μὲν κείνοισιν ἐριζέμεν οὔ τι κελεύω
Τυδεΐδεω ἵπποισι δαΐφρονος, οἷσιν Ἀθήνη
νῦν ὤρεξε τάχος καὶ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ κῦδος ἔθηκεν.

You two push forward too; stretch out to full speed.
I do not command you to compete with those horses,
the ones of keen-spirited Diomedes, to whom Athena
has now granted speed, and put glory on Diomedes himself.

Near the end of the race, when Diomedes comes into view, it is the whip, which he repeatedly lashes “from the shoulder,” that dominates the scene (Iliad 23.499–500):

Τυδεΐδης δὲ μάλα σχεδὸν ἦλθε διώκων,
μάστι δ’ αἰὲν ἔλαυνε κατωμαδόν.

The son of Tydeus came racing in, close to them,
and with the whip kept driving, swinging it from his shoulder.

When Diomedes comes to a halt and leaps from his chariot, he leans his whip against the yoke of his chariot in what seems to be a deliberately symbolic act, and Sthenelos meanwhile collects first prize for him (Iliad 23.507–511):

στῆ δὲ μέσῳ ἐν ἀγῶνι, πολὺς δ’ ἀνεκήκιεν ἱδρὼς
ἵππων ἔκ τε λόφων καὶ ἀπὸ στέρνοιο χαμᾶζε.
αὐτὸς δ’ ἐκ δίφροιο χαμαὶ θόρε παμφανόωντος,
κλῖνε δ’ ἄρα μάστιγα ποτὶ ζυγόν· οὐδὲ μάτησεν
ἴφθιμος Σθένελος, ἀλλ’ ἐσσυμένως λάβ’ ἄεθλον.

He stood in the middle of the assembly, and much sweat poured
from the horses’ necks and chests to the ground.
He himself jumped from the all-shining chariot to the ground,
and leaned the whip against the yoke. Not a moment was lost
by steadfast Sthenelos, who immediately seized the prize. {148|149}

What Diomedes does as his prize is claimed for him sums up his race. In leaning the whip against the yoke he draws attention to the token of his victory, the whip, and, equally important, the token of Eumelos’s defeat, the yoke. Diomedes’ yoke remained intact, and he thus maintained the “restraint” that was one of the two elements necessary for victory. The other element, “incitement,” was provided by Diomedes’ immortal partner, Athena, for without Athena Diomedes would have had no whip to put down at the end of the race. These two symbols, the whip and the yoke, also sum up Diomedes’ race against Eumelos as a transformation of Nestor’s race against the twins, for it was from Nestor’s race against the twins that the qualities of “incitement” and “restraint” as the determinants of victory—and defeat—came in the first place.

§2.35 On the surface of the poem Nestor has no connection with the race between Diomedes and Eumelos in Iliad 23. The elaborate network of connections that does exist is all below the surface. In this respect, the race between Antilochus and Menelaus is different, for Nestor is his son’s advisor, and his connection with his son’s race is on the surface of the poem. But the underlying issue throughout the chariot race of Iliad 23, including the race between Antilochus and Menelaus, is the youthful Nestor’s crash in his race against the Epeian twins. With regard to the crash itself there is no connection on the surface in the race between Antilochus and Menelaus, for there is no crash in this race. There is, however, a connection between the quality in the young Nestor that led to his crash, namely his unrestrained “incitement,” and the race that his son runs. For Antilochus passes Menelaus by means of a dangerous—indeed reckless—maneuver that forces Menelaus to give way in order to avoid a crash. Antilochus executes this maneuver at a narrowing of the road, where part of the roadbed has been washed away and there is room for only one chariot at a time. As Antilochus begins to pass, Menelaus calls on him to restrain his horses lest he cause both their chariots to crash, and to wait for a wider road in order to pass (Iliad 23.426–428):

Ἀντίλοχ’ ἀφραδέως ἱππάζεαι, ἀλλ’ ἄνεχ’ ἵππους·
στεινωπὸς γὰρ ὁδός, τάχα δ’ εὐρυτέρη παρελάσσαι·
μή πως ἀμφοτέρους δηλήσεαι ἅρματι κύρσας.

Antilochus, you are driving recklessly, hold back your horses;
the road is narrow but will soon be wider to pass;
you will hurt us both if you hit my chariot. {149|150}

But Antilochus, far from showing restraint, as Menelaus has called on him to do, surges ahead all the more, urging his horses on with the whip as if he did not even hear Menelaus (Iliad 23.429–430):

ὣς ἔφατ’, Ἀντίλοχος δ’ ἔτι καὶ πολὺ μᾶλλον ἔλαυνε
κέντρῳ ἐπισπέρχων ὡς οὐκ ἀΐοντι ἐοικώς.

So he spoke, but Antilochus still drove on, much more even than before,
laying on with his goad, like one not hearing.

At this moment Antilochus, paying no heed to the call to restrain his horses, but lashing them all the more with his whip, is the reembodiment of his father as he once was in his race against the Epeian twins. Whereas Nestor crashed, however, Menelaus gives way to Antilochus, who thus takes the lead. A crash is avoided, but it is not Antilochus’s doing that avoids it. For his part, the crash would have occurred, and this virtual crash is described when Menelaus gives way to avoid it, and his horses drop behind those of Antilochus (Iliad 23.433–437):

αἳ δ’ ἠρώησαν ὀπίσσω
Ἀτρεΐδεω· αὐτὸς γὰρ ἑκὼν μεθέηκεν ἐλαύνειν
μή πως συγκύρσειαν ὁδῷ ἔνι μώνυχες ἵπποι,
δίφρους τ’ ἀνστρέψειαν ἐϋπλεκέας, κατὰ δ’ αὐτοὶ
ἐν κονίῃσι πέσοιεν ἐπειγόμενοι περὶ νίκης.

But behind him fell the horses
of Atreus’s son; for he himself deliberately let up from driving
so the solid-hoofed horses would not run into each other on the road
and overturn the well-plaited chariots, and they themselves
fall in the dust as they pressed for victory.

§2.36 In Eumelos’s race against Diomedes, as we earlier saw, the young Nestor’s race is reenacted insofar as there is an actual crash, but the crash is brought on by Athena, not by Eumelos himself. Unlike the young Nestor, Eumelos does not embody incitement without restraint, and he therefore does not crash at the turning post, as Nestor did, but in the open plain through no fault of his own. Only in the speculation of Idomeneus does Eumelos crash at the turning post, and thus provide an explicit picture of the youthful {150|151} Nestor’s crash. In this involved way Eumelos reenacts Nestor’s crash, but he lacks the attitude that caused it. With Antilochus it is just the opposite, for he has the attitude that caused Nestor’s crash, but he is spared the actual crash that his father suffered by the restraint of Menelaus. The two races, that of Eumelos, in both its actual and virtual forms, and that of Antilochus, complement each other in providing a complete picture of the race of the youthful Nestor. While Nestor’s connection with his son’s race is on the surface of the poem in one way (he is his son’s advisor), in another way it is as hidden as his connection with Eumelos’s race. It is the aged Nestor, in his speech of advice, who has an overt connection with Antilochus’s race. The young Nestor, on the other hand, is completely hidden in Antilochus’s race, just as he was in Eumelos’s. There are thus two Nestors to deal with in his son’s race, the old and the young, and we need to look more carefully at his son’s relationship with each of them.

§2.37 We saw earlier in analyzing Nestor’s speech of advice that Antilochus is characterized in very different terms from the youthful Nestor who crashed at the turning post. Whereas Nestor was not yet a horseman, Antilochus has been taught horsemanship by Zeus and Poseidon, and, in particular, he knows well how to round the turning post. With teachers like Zeus and Poseidon, Antilochus already knows most of what his father has to tell him, and Nestor says as much early in his speech: τὼ καί σε διδασκέμεν οὔ τι μάλα χρεώ, “therefore there is no great need to instruct you” (Iliad 23.308). Antilochus thus resembles the old Nestor, not the young, in terms of his knowledge and skill. He is further brought into relation to the aged Nestor, and distanced from the youthful Nestor, by the fact that his horses are slow. These horses are in fact his father’s, and their lack of speed reflects Nestor’s own aged condition. [45] It is because his horses are slow that Antilochus must employ shrewd tactics, particularly around the turning post. These are tactics that Nestor knows now, with his years of experience, but did not know, or at least did not use, when he raced against the twins. On the surface of the poem, then, everything in Nestor’s speech seems calculated to make Antilochus resemble the aged Nestor rather than the youthful Nestor. But the fact is, of course, that Antilochus is a young man, and in his race against Menelaus he acts like one, with all the impetuosity and recklessness of youth. If we look closely, furthermore, the aged Nestor, in his speech, prepares the way for his son’s dangerous maneuver without quite seeming to do so. We have already seen that when Nestor contrasts the unskilled and the skillful {151|152} charioteer in his speech, he really contrasts himself as a young man with his son. [46] Let us look again at his description of the skillful charioteer, whom Antilochus resembles (Iliad 23.322–325):

ὃς δέ κε κέρδεα εἰδῇ ἐλαύνων ἥσσονας ἵππους,
αἰεὶ τέρμ’ ὁρόων στρέφει ἐγγύθεν, οὐδέ ἑ λήθει
ὅππως τὸ πρῶτον τανύσῃ βοέοισιν ἱμᾶσιν,
ἀλλ’ ἔχει ἀσφαλέως καὶ τὸν προὔχοντα δοκεύει.

But the one who, driving worse horses, knows all the tricks,
he, keeping his eye on the turning post, turns close to it, and it does not escape his notice
how he may first bring his horses to full speed with the oxhide reins,
but he drives steadily and keeps his eye on the leader.

It is clear that Nestor intends Antilochus to take these words to heart for they pertain to his situation. His horses are inferior, and he will need to round the turning post tightly to stay in the race. But Antilochus already knows how to do this, and the turning post plays no part in his race. What pertains to Antilochus’s actual race is what follows. This is very clear in the final phrase of the description of the skillful charioteer, who “keeps his eye on the leader” after rounding the turning post. This is what Antilochus in fact does in his race, and Nestor’s description of the skillful charioteer breaks off with a phrase that seems intended to connect with the actual race when the narrative finally reaches it, and Antilochus calls on his horses to overtake those in front of them. But Antilochus also takes to heart what Nestor says in the previous line, and this is made clear by the last words of his speech to his horses as he fastens on his dangerous plan to pass Menelaus on the narrow stretch of road (Iliad 23.415–416):

ταῦτα δ’ ἐγὼν αὐτὸς τεχνήσομαι ἠδὲ νοήσω
στεινωπῷ ἐν ὁδῷ παραδύμεναι, οὐδέ με λήσει.

But I myself will contrive this and perceive the right moment for it,
how to pass on the narrow road, and it will not escape my notice. {152|153}

§2.38 With the final words of his speech, oudé me lḗsei, Antilochus repeats Nestor’s phrase oudé he lḗthei in his description of the skillful charioteer. When Antilochus says, “and it will not escape my notice,” he refers to perceiving the right moment to execute his dangerous plan. If we look closely at Nestor’s speech, we see that Antilochus remembers not only his father’s words, but what he meant by them. Nestor says of the skillful charioteer that, after rounding the turning post tightly, “it does not escape his notice how first to stretch with the oxhide reins.” There is no object for the verb “stretch,” but “horses” is easily understood, and the phrase “stretch his horses” must mean “bring them to full speed.” [47] Nestor says that the skillful charioteer perceives when “first” (tò prō̂ton) to bring his horses to full speed, and Antilochus hears this advice and acts on it, for he recognizes his opportunity when it comes and he seizes it. There is thus a connection between Nestor’s speech and Antilochus’s race, but it is a slender one, and it is deliberately so. It is up to Antilochus to enact the real meaning of Nestor’s advice, which relates to Nestor’s own youthful recklessness. [48] This is an issue that is carefully kept hidden from view throughout the chariot race in Iliad 23. Thus Nestor in his speech, after effectively advocating that Antilochus look for his opportunity and seize it, does not go on to sanction dangerous tactics. Far from it. Nestor changes course abruptly and says that the skillful charioteer “drives steadily” (all’ ékhei asphaléōs). [49] Nestor’s speech thus returns safely to its theme, and attention is diverted from the implication of his words. This part of Nestor’s speech then ends with the phrase kaì tòn proúkhonta dokeúei, “he keeps his eye on the leader,” which looks ahead to Antilochus’s race, where Antilochus will do exactly what he has been told. It is significant that the phrase that connects Nestor’s speech and Antilochus’s race means “does not escape notice,” for the connection itself is a deliberately subtle one. When Antilochus says that it will not escape his notice when to pass Menelaus on the narrow road, it should also not escape our notice that it is his father who has put him up to this dangerous tactic without quite seeming to do so.

§2.39 If there is irony in the fact that Nestor puts Antilochus up to his dangerous tactic, there is further irony in the fact that Antilochus gets away {153|154} with it, and takes second prize from Menelaus, whereas Nestor himself, when he was young, paid for his unrestrained incitement with an inglorious defeat. A necessary balance between incitement and restraint has been upset in Antilochus’s race, and this balance must be restored at the end of his race before he is allowed to keep his victory. It was Menelaus who saved Antilochus from catastrophe by giving way to him on the narrow road. But Menelaus was angered by Antilochus’s failure to heed him and wait for a wider road to pass, and although he gave way, he warned Antilochus as he drove past that he would challenge his right to second prize (Iliad 23.439–441):

Ἀντίλοχ’ οὔ τις σεῖο βροτῶν ὀλοώτερος ἄλλος·
ἔρρ’, ἐπεὶ οὔ σ’ ἔτυμόν γε φάμεν πεπνῦσθαι Ἀχαιοί.
ἀλλ’ οὐ μὰν οὐδ’ ὧς ἄτερ ὅρκου οἴσῃ ἄεθλον.

Antilochus, no other mortal is more destructive than you;
down with you, since we Achaeans wrongly say you are wise.
But I swear you will not win a prize this way without taking an oath.

At the end of the race the awarding of second prize occasions a whole new contest, which begins when Achilles takes pity on Eumelos, who comes in last of all the racers, on foot, and Achilles proposes to give him second prize. But Antilochus shows the same determination in claiming second prize that he did in winning it, telling Achilles that he will be angry with him if he is deprived of what he has won (Iliad 23.543–544):

ὦ Ἀχιλεῦ μάλα τοι κεχολώσομαι αἴ κε τελέσσῃς
τοῦτο ἔπος· μέλλεις γὰρ ἀφαιρήσεσθαι ἄεθλον….

Achilles, I will be very angry with you if you carry out
this word of yours; for you are about to take away my prize….

Antilochus says that Eumelos has only himself to blame for his misfortune, and that he should have prayed to the gods who foiled him, and he tells Achilles to award Eumelos a special prize if he pities him. [50] At the end of his speech, Antilochus is defiant, saying that he will not give up the mare, his {154|155} prize, and that he will fight with anyone who tries to take it from him (Iliad 23.553–554):

τὴν δ’ ἐγὼ οὐ δώσω· περὶ δ’ αὐτῆς πειρηθήτω
ἀνδρῶν ὅς κ’ ἐθέλῃσιν ἐμοὶ χείρεσσι μάχεσθαι.

But I will not give her up; let any man try for her
who wishes to fight me with fists.

This sets the stage for Menelaus to rise up once Achilles has given in to Antilochus by awarding Eumelos a special prize. Menelaus is exceedingly angry, and he in effect accepts the challenge that Antilochus has just thrown down. Menelaus at first calls on the other Achaeans to judge between them, but then says that he will judge the matter himself in a way that no one can fault: he calls on Antilochus to take his whip in his hand and swear by Poseidon that he did not use it unfairly to defeat him in the race (Iliad 23.581–585):

Ἀντίλοχ’ εἰ δ’ ἄγε δεῦρο διοτρεφές, ἣ θέμις ἐστί,
στὰς ἵππων προπάροιθε καὶ ἅρματος, αὐτὰρ ἱμάσθλην
χερσὶν ἔχε ῥαδινήν, ᾗ περ τὸ πρόσθεν ἔλαυνες,
ἵππων ἁψάμενος γαιήοχον ἐννοσίγαιον
ὄμνυθι μὴ μὲν ἑκὼν τὸ ἐμὸν δόλῳ ἅρμα πεδῆσαι.

Zeus-fostered Antilochus, come here and, as is customary and right,
standing in front of your horses and chariot hold in your hands
the slender whip with which you drove ahead of me,
and taking hold of your horses swear by the earthholder, the earthshaker,
that you did not deliberately bind my chariot with deceit.

These words of Menelaus, in the dispute over second prize, put the contest for this prize back to where it was in the race itself when Menelaus called on Antilochus to give way and wait for a wider road in order to pass. In the race Antilochus paid no attention, but rushed impetuously ahead. Now, however, he defers to Menelaus, giving up the prize mare to him and offering to make further restitution in order not to fall from his favor. Antilochus admits his mistake and he recognizes that Menelaus is both older and better than he. This change of attitude on the part of Antilochus changes Menelaus’s attitude as well, and when Antilochus hands over the prize mare to him, Menelaus {155|156} graciously allows him to keep it, saying that Antilochus had never been so heedless and thoughtless in the past (οὔ τι παρήορος οὐδ’ ἀεσίφρων / ἦσθα πάρος, Iliad 23.603–604), and had contributed much to his own cause at Troy.

§2.40 In his race against Menelaus, Antilochus won by his unrestrained incitement, but he is not allowed to keep his prize at the end of the race until he shows the restraint that was lacking in his race itself. Thus he restores the balance that he lost when, acting on his father’s advice, he reenacted his father’s own youthful lack of restraint in his race against the Epeian twins. And since Antilochus restores this balance, his race, unlike his father’s, is allowed to have a successful outcome.

§2.41 Nestor’s youthful race against the twins underlies both contests in the chariot race of Iliad 23. The two contests come together, briefly, in the dispute over second prize, when Antilochus, who has courted disaster in carrying out his aged father’s advice, refuses to relinquish his prize to Eumelos, who has met with disaster in reenacting the youthful Nestor’s race. Moreover, it is as a result of his son’s refusal to give up his prize to Eumelos that Nestor himself is awarded Eumelos’s prize when Eumelos is awarded a special prize. There is thus a double irony in Antilochus’s action as it relates to his father, in that it is his father’s substitute to whom he refuses the undue honor of being awarded second prize, and it is his father himself who, indirectly through his son’s action, is awarded precisely the honor that is due him, that of last prize.

§2.42 The awarding of last prize to Nestor, which draws forth from him the story of his race against the Epeian twins, is the culmination of the chariot race in Iliad 23. This scene, like the rest of the chariot race, is played out on two levels. On the surface, Achilles awards Nestor a vacant prize in honor of Patroclus because Nestor is too old to compete and win prizes for himself. When Achilles says that Nestor will not box, wrestle, throw the spear, or race on foot in the games for Patroclus, this leads seamlessly to Nestor’s story of the games for Amarynkeus at Bouprasion, for these were the four contests that he won on that day. The contest that he lost, the chariot race, is left until last, and his loss is not explained, at least on the surface. Instead, Nestor tells why the twins won, namely that they outnumbered him, and that one held the reins while the other used the whip. His story ends there, as he goes on to urge that younger men participate in the games for Patroclus, for he must bow to grievous old age. He then bids Achilles to honor his dead companion with funeral games, and he finishes by accepting the prize that Achilles has given him and thanking him for the honor that he has thus shown him (Iliad 23.647–650): {156|157}

τοῦτο δ’ ἐγὼ πρόφρων δέχομαι, χαίρει δέ μοι ἦτορ,
ὥς μευ ἀεὶ μέμνησαι ἐνηέος, οὐδέ σε λήθω,
τιμῆς ἧς τέ μ’ ἔοικε τετιμῆσθαι μετ’ Ἀχαιοῖς.
σοὶ δὲ θεοὶ τῶνδ’ ἀντὶ χάριν μενοεικέα δοῖεν.

I gladly receive this, and my heart rejoices
that you always remember me, well-intentioned as I am, and I do not escape your notice
as to the honor that it befits me to receive among the Achaeans.
In return for these things may the gods give you heart-warming thanks.

These are the final lines of the episode, and on the surface all is straightforward. Nestor accepts his prize gladly (próphrōn), and, when he rejoices that Achilles always remembers him, he draws attention to his own being “kindly-disposed” (enēéos). The final line, in which Nestor calls on the gods to repay Achilles for his kindness, is wholly without ambiguity regarding the harmony between the two heroes with which the episode ends.

§2.43 But the scene is also the culmination of what has been going on beneath the surface throughout the episode. The climax at this level is the description of Nestor’s chariot race against the twins, in which the reason for the twins’ victory, the fact that one held the reins while the other used the whip, also contains the reason for Nestor’s loss if one understands (or knows) Nestor’s tradition and can thus turn the reason around and view it from Nestor’s perspective. The reason for Nestor’s loss is not given, but it will not escape the notice of those who have understood what has gone on beneath the surface of the chariot race from the very start. They will know that Nestor crashed, and that this is the real reason that he receives last prize from Achilles. There is thus a double meaning when Nestor says to Achilles at the end of the episode that his heart rejoices, not only because Achilles always remembers him, but specifically because “I do not escape your notice—oudé se lḗthō—as to the honor that it befits me to receive among the Achaeans.” The honor that it befits Nestor to receive is, from the point of view of his youthful crash, last prize, and that is what he has in fact just been given by Achilles. The irony of the phrase that calls attention to the unspoken meaning of Nestor’s prize, oudé se lḗthō, “nor do I escape your notice,” must be intentional. We have seen that variants of the same phrase are used twice earlier in the chariot race to connect Nestor’s speech of advice {157|158} to his son to the dangerous tactics that his son employs in his race: speaking of the skillful charioteer Nestor says oudé he lḗthei / hóppōs tò prō̂ton tanúsēi boéoisin himā̂sin, and when Antilochus prepares to look for the moment to seize his opportunity, he repeats his father’s words in the form oudé me lḗsei. The phrase connects Antilochus’s rash tactic to his father’s advice. But there is yet another occurrence of this phrase in the chariot race, although we have not yet taken notice of it. This occurrence is also in Nestor’s speech of advice to Antilochus, shortly after its first occurrence in Nestor’s characterization of the skillful charioteer. At the end of this characterization, Nestor goes on immediately to draw his son’s attention to the actual turning post which he must round in his race (Iliad 23.326):

σῆμα δέ τοι ἐρέω μάλ’ ἀριφραδές, οὐδέ σε λήσει.

I will tell you a very clear sign, and it will not escape your notice.

The repetition oudé he lḗthei / oudé se lḗsei in the space of four lines is striking in itself, and the second occurrence is as significant as the first. Whereas the first occurrence connects Nestor’s speech with the actual race of Antilochus, the second occurrence introduces the long, ironic description of the turning post, which has nothing to do with the actual race of Antilochus, but has everything to do with the as yet unspoken race of Nestor against the twins. It is Nestor’s emphasis on the turning post in his speech to Antilochus that serves to put his youthful race firmly in the mind of alert listeners right from the start of the episode. [51] It is thus the second occurrence of the phrase, to introduce the turning post, that establishes it as a leitmotif, not just in Antilochus’s race, but in the entire chariot race of Iliad 23. When this occurrence of the phrase, evoking the role of the turning post in Nestor’s youthful race, is added to the others, it is clear that the final occurrence of the phrase in the form oudé se lḗthō is an intentional climax. With this phrase, Nestor in effect says to Achilles: “You know that I crashed at the turning post; that is why you have given me last prize.” [52] {158|159}

§2.44 The intentional irony of Nestor’s role in the chariot race, which reaches a peak in his use of the phrase oudé se lḗthō at the end of the episode, must be kept in mind when we widen the focus and consider the relevance of Nestor’s {159|160} youthful crash to Patroclus. Achilles awards last prize to Nestor as a memorial of the funeral of Patroclus, whom he will see no more (Iliad 23.615–621):

πέμπτον δ’ ὑπελείπετ’ ἄεθλον,
ἀμφίθετος φιάλη· τὴν Νέστορι δῶκεν Ἀχιλλεὺς
Ἀργείων ἀν’ ἀγῶνα φέρων, καὶ ἔειπε παραστάς·
“τῆ νῦν, καὶ σοὶ τοῦτο γέρον κειμήλιον ἔστω
Πατρόκλοιο τάφου μνῆμ’ ἔμμεναι· οὐ γὰρ ἔτ’ αὐτὸν
ὄψῃ ἐν Ἀργείοισι· δίδωμι δέ τοι τόδ’ ἄεθλον

But fifth prize was left,
a two-handled bowl. Achilles gave it to Nestor,
carrying it through the assembly of the Argives; standing next to him he said:
“Take this now, old man, and let it be your possession
to serve as a memorial of Patroclus’s burial; for you will see him
no more among the Argives; I give you this prize like that,

Nestor has of course been deeply involved in Patroclus’s fate since he first instigated his entry into battle in Achilles’ place. We have seen that Nestor gave Patroclus a paradigm to follow in his own story in Iliad 11, telling how he once took his brother’s place as a warrior horseman, but that the point of his story was deliberately withheld. Patroclus then followed not only Nestor’s advice, but also his example in taking Achilles’ place and becoming a “warrior horseman,” but he paid for this with his life. It is thus entirely appropriate that the first and most important contest in Patroclus’s funeral games should be the chariot race, that this race should be dominated from start to finish by Nestor, and that the unspoken point of Nestor’s presence should be his own youthful catastrophe. It is a second paradigm for Patroclus, not to follow, but to explain, after the fact, what has befallen him. The point of Nestor’s example is as unspoken in Iliad 23 as it was in Iliad 11, and this is important. The consistent irony of Nestor’s role in relation to Patroclus shows that his role is truly of one piece.

§2.45 What is left unspoken in Nestor’s story in Iliad 11, namely that the story concerns how he first became a horseman, becomes overt in the case of Patroclus, who is called “horseman Patroclus” when he takes Achilles’ place {160|161} in battle. Something similar occurs in the case of Nestor’s second story. The unspoken point of this story is that Nestor crashed because he could not round the turning post. This unspoken point is relevant to Patroclus not only in general terms, but also in specific terms, for Patroclus dies when he fails to do as Achilles told him to do, to turn back from battle before it is too late. The need to do this is clearly established in Achilles’ speech, when he agrees to let Patroclus go into battle but imposes a condition to protect his own honor and his companion’s safety. Achilles tells Patroclus to “come back” when he has driven the Trojans from the ships (ἐκ νηῶν ἐλάσας ἰέναι πάλιν, Iliad 16.87), and not to wish to fight without his companion, for this would bring Achilles dishonor. Achilles then warns Patroclus against getting caught up in the heat of battle and leading an attack on Troy itself, lest Apollo enter the battle in Troy’s defense. Everything that Achilles warns against is of course destined to take place, including Apollo’s hand in Patroclus’s death. What Patroclus for his part fails to do is what Achilles expressly commands, and that is to “turn back” as soon as he has brought the light of salvation to the Achaean ships (Iliad 16.95–96):

ἀλλὰ πάλιν τρωπᾶσθαι, ἐπὴν φάος ἐν νήεσσι
θήῃς, τοὺς δ’ ἔτ’ ἐᾶν πεδίον κάτα δηριάασθαι.

But turn back once you have put the light of salvation
among the ships, and let the others go on fighting along the plain.

§2.46 The failure to “turn back” is the cause of Patroclus’s death as surely as it was the cause of Nestor’s crash. If after slaying Sarpedon Patroclus had heeded Achilles’ words, he would have lived, but instead he went after the enemy in his chariot (Iliad 16.684–687):

Πάτροκλος δ’ ἵπποισι καὶ Αὐτομέδοντι κελεύσας
Τρῶας καὶ Λυκίους μετεκίαθε, καὶ μέγ’ ἀάσθη
νήπιος· εἰ δὲ ἔπος Πηληϊάδαο φύλαξεν
ἦ τ’ ἂν ὑπέκφυγε κῆρα κακὴν μέλανος θανάτοιο.

Patroclus, calling out to his horses and to Automedon,
went after the Trojans and Lycians, but he was greatly deluded,
the fool; if he had heeded the word of the son of Peleus
he would have escaped the evil doom of black death. {161|162}

Patroclus’s heedlessness—his failure to obey Achilles’ command to turn back—reminds us of the chariot race, and Antilochus’s failure to heed Menelaus’s command to restrain himself. Antilochus, urging his chariot on with his whip, is like a man who does not even hear: κέντρῳ ἐπισπέρχων ὡς οὐκ ἀΐοντι ἐοικώς (Iliad 23.430). Antilochus’s heedless incitement, we have seen, reenacts the youthful Nestor’s state of mind when he crashed at the turning post. Patroclus, we now see, also reenacts this state of mind when the gods call him to death (Iliad 16.693). [53]

§2.47 Now that we have considered the chariot race in Iliad 23 in its own right and in relation to the fate of Patroclus, let us also consider it more closely from the standpoint of the Indo-European twin myth. The basic myth is that the mortal twin dies and the immortal twin brings him back to life. This myth seems to have been transposed directly into the terms of the chariot race that the Epeian twins won against Nestor, if we interpret the function of holding the reins and restraining the horses as equivalent to death, and the function of using the whip and stirring the horses up as equivalent to bringing back to life. I have already argued that it makes sense to interpret the inciting of the horses as a matter of bringing back to life. It is perhaps less intuitive to see the restraining of the horses as a matter of dying, but there is an element in the chariot race for Patroclus that suggests that this symbolism was inherent in the twins’ race and it concerns the turning post. When Nestor points out the turning post to Antilochus, describing it in detail, he speculates that it was either made into a turning post by earlier generations, or that it is a grave. The latter alternative, the grave, occurs first, and it is the significant one (Iliad 23.326–333):

σῆμα δέ τοι ἐρέω μάλ’ ἀριφραδές, οὐδέ σε λήσει.
ἕστηκε ξύλον αὖον ὅσον τ’ ὄργυι’ ὑπὲρ αἴης
ἢ δρυὸς ἢ πεύκης· τὸ μὲν οὐ καταπύθεται ὄμβρῳ,
λᾶε δὲ τοῦ ἑκάτερθεν ἐρηρέδαται δύο λευκὼ
ἐν ξυνοχῇσιν ὁδοῦ, λεῖος δ’ ἱππόδρομος ἀμφὶς {162|163}
ἤ τευ σῆμα βροτοῖο πάλαι κατατεθνηῶτος,
ἢ τό γε νύσσα τέτυκτο ἐπὶ προτέρων ἀνθρώπων,
καὶ νῦν τέρματ’ ἔθηκε ποδάρκης δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς.

I will tell you a very clear sign, and it will not escape your notice.
A dried stump stands about an arm-span above the ground,
of oak or pine; it does not rot with the rain,
and two white stones lean against it on either side
at the juncture of the roads, and the horse-track around it is smooth;
either it is the grave of some mortal who died long ago,
or it was made into a racing marker among earlier men,
and swift-footed shining Achilles has made it the turning point now.

Since the turning post plays no part in the race to honor Patroclus, but was central to Nestor’s race, we may wonder whether Nestor, with this elaborate description, does not describe the turning post in his own race against the twins, including the fact that the turning post was a grave—perhaps the grave of king Amarynkeus, whose funeral was being celebrated. [54] If so, the reason for the symbolism of death and a return to life would be clear, for the death being celebrated by the race would itself be part of the race’s symbolism. It is at the turning post that the twin holding the reins—let us call him the mortal twin—exercised his function of restraining the horses in order to change directions. Nestor’s hint that the turning post is a grave allows us to equate this function with dying. The grave is the actual point of death, and when this point was reached, the twin with the whip—let us call him the immortal twin—stood ready to initiate the return to life. [55] {163|164}

§2.48 We next need to consider from another perspective the immortal twin’s function in the race, which is symbolized by the whip and which can be defined as “incitement.” In the Indo-European twin myth, as we have seen, “bringing back to life and light,” the function that the immortal twin exercised on behalf of his mortal brother, described a mental as well as a physical function. We found indirect evidence for this in both the Vedic and the Greek versions of the Indo-European twin myth, and we pointed to its significance for Nestor. For the etymology of his name, like that of the Vedic name Nā́satyā, seems to be closely related to the etymology of Greek nóos, “mind.” Whereas Néstōr and Nā́satya– mean “he who brings back to life,” nóos means (I argue) a “bringing back to life,” and therefore Néstōr, like the Indo-European immortal twin, should personify the mental function designated by this noun.

§2.49 The chariot race in Iliad 23 gives good reason to equate “incitement,” which characterized the youthful Nestor in his race against the Epeian twins, with nóos, and we will come to this matter shortly. But it is not immediately obvious that Nestor himself is to be connected with nóos in Iliad 23, for nóos belongs to his youthful race, and its role is therefore hidden, just as is his race itself. The speech of advice that the aged Nestor gives to his son is full of talk about “intelligence,” and the need for it in his son’s race, but it is mē̂tis, “shrewdness,” that Nestor commends to Antilochus, not nóos: it is mē̂tis that will enable Antilochus to prevail in spite of slow horses. Nestor introduces this theme with the verb mētísasthai, saying that the other racers have faster horses than Antilochus, but they do not know how to “employ more shrewdness” (pleíonamētísasthai). A virtual paean to mē̂tis follows, in which Antilochus is exhorted to use mē̂tis in every form and the advantage of mē̂tis is extolled in a list of pursuits, ending with that of the charioteer (Iliad 23.311–318):

τῶν δ’ ἵπποι μὲν ἔασιν ἀφάρτεροι, οὐδὲ μὲν αὐτοὶ
πλείονα ἴσασιν σέθεν αὐτοῦ μητίσασθαι. {164|165}
ἀλλ’ ἄγε δὴ σὺ φίλος μῆτιν ἐμβάλλεο θυμῷ
παντοίην, ἵνα μή σε παρεκπροφύγῃσιν ἄεθλα.
μήτι τοι δρυτόμος μέγ’ ἀμείνων ἠὲ βίηφι·
μήτι δ’ αὖτε κυβερνήτης ἐνὶ οἴνοπι πόντῳ
νῆα θοὴν ἰθύνει ἐρεχθομένην ἀνέμοισι·
μήτι δ’ ἡνίοχος περιγίγνεται ἡνιόχοιο.

The others have faster horses, but they themselves do not
know more than you how to devise intelligent schemes.
But come, dear son, and put into your spirit intelligent schemes
of all sorts so that the prizes do not escape you.
By intelligence the woodcutter is much better than by strength;
by intelligence, moreover, a helmsman on the wine-dark sea
holds his swift ship on course when it is battered by the winds;
and by intelligence charioteer surpasses charioteer.

The quality of mē̂tis has an undeniable relevance to Antilochus’s race. His horses are slow, and he needs skill and shrewdness to win. [56] But skill and shrewdness do not really define the bold act that brings him victory. That is a matter of nóos if we look to the dispute for second prize, and consider how Antilochus himself characterizes his transgression when he apologizes to Menelaus. He tells Menelaus to forbear, for he, Antilochus, is young, whereas Menelaus is older and better, and the transgression that he has committed is characteristic of his youth (Iliad 23.587–590):

ἄνσχεο νῦν· πολλὸν γὰρ ἔγωγε νεώτερός εἰμι
σεῖο ἄναξ Μενέλαε, σὺ δὲ πρότερος καὶ ἀρείων.
οἶσθ’ οἷαι νέου ἀνδρὸς ὑπερβασίαι τελέθουσι·
κραιπνότερος μὲν γάρ τε νόος, λεπτὴ δέ τε μῆτις.

Have patience with me now, for I am much younger
than you, lord Menelaos; you are older and better.
You know what the transgressions of a young man are like:
his nóos is swifter, but his mē̂tis is slight. {165|166}

The phrase leptḕ dé te mē̂tis is clear. “Slight” mē̂tis means too little mē̂tis, and that is what Antilochus has displayed by his reckless act. [57] But the phrase kraipnóteros mèn gár te nóos, “his nóos is swifter,” or “his nóos is too swift,” requires comment. If nóos is associated with speed in the first place—if, that is, nóos is a matter of “incitement,” and is symbolized by the whip—then a nóos that is “too swift” may in some sense be said to be too much itself rather than too little. [58] This amounts to saying that Antilochus’s bold act was indeed an act of nóos, but of nóos unbalanced by its opposite, restraint.

§2.50 Menelaus, who during the race calls out to Antilochus that he is driving “foolishly” (aphradéōs hippázeai, Iliad 23.426), after the race, when he accepts Antilochus’s apology, uses words that imply that Antilochus’s mind was uncharacteristically unbalanced in this race (Iliad 23.602–604):

Ἀντίλοχε νῦν μέν τοι ἐγὼν ὑποείξομαι αὐτὸς
χωόμενος, ἐπεὶ οὔ τι παρήορος οὐδ’ ἀεσίφρων
ἦσθα πάρος.

He concludes this line of thought with the ringing alliterative phrase νῦν αὖτε νόον νίκησε νεοίη, “but now youth has overcome your nóos.” [60] The sense of imbalance and of the recklessness of youth in Menelaus’s characterization hits the mark, but he is wrong when he says that Antilochus’s nóos has been defeated. That could have been said of the youthful Nestor, who crashed, but in Antilochus’s race it is nóos that has triumphed. We see this in the race itself, when Antilochus calls out to his horses to pass Menelaus, and he says that he himself will contrive and “perceive” (noḗsō) when to pass on the narrow road (Iliad 23.415–416):

ταῦτα δ’ ἐγὼν αὐτὸς τεχνήσομαι ἠδὲ νοήσω
στεινωπῷ ἐν ὁδῷ παραδύμεναι, οὐδέ με λήσει.

But I myself will contrive this and perceive the right moment for it,
how to pass on the narrow road, and it will not escape my notice.

The verb noéō also occurs in the introduction to Nestor’s speech of advice, when, standing by his son’s side, about to offer counsel for his benefit, he is said to direct his words to “one who already has nóos himself” (Iliad 23.304–305):

πατὴρ δέ οἱ ἄγχι παραστὰς
μυθεῖτ’ εἰς ἀγαθὰ φρονέων νοέοντι καὶ αὐτῷ.

Standing near him his father
spoke to him with good intentions, and he himself already understood.

If the phrase noéonti kaì autō̂i is a signal before the race starts of the role that nóos will play in Antilochus’s victory, then the final statement concerning his race, when second prize is at last awarded, also concerns nóos, and it underscores the crucial role that nóos has played in this race. Menelaus, who refuses to allow second prize to go to Antilochus, and who pointedly says to him “youth has overcome your nóos,” is, so to speak, corrected on both points {167|168} when, bowing to Antilochus’s own renewed sense of restraint, he hands over second prize to Antilochus’s companion, who is named, significantly, Noḗmōn (Iliad 23.609–613):

“τώ τοι λισσομένῳ ἐπιπείσομαι, ἠδὲ καὶ ἵππον
δώσω ἐμήν περ ἐοῦσαν, ἵνα γνώωσι καὶ οἷδε
ὡς ἐμὸς οὔ ποτε θυμὸς ὑπερφίαλος καὶ ἀπηνής.”
Ἦ ῥα, καὶ Ἀντιλόχοιο Νοήμονι δῶκεν ἑταίρῳ
ἵππον ἄγειν· ὃ δ’ ἔπειτα λέβηθ’ ἕλε παμφανόωντα.

“Therefore I will be persuaded by you since you appease me so, and I will give up
the mare, even though it is mine, so that these men may know
how my spirit is never arrogant or harsh.”
So he spoke, and he gave the horse to Noemon, Antilochus’s companion,
to lead away; then he took the all-shining cauldron.

The name Noḗmōn, derived from nóēma, “thought,” and thus indirectly from noéō and nóos, is a good name for a servant of Nestor, which is what this figure seems intended to be. [61] But he is heard of nowhere else, and he has every appearance of having been created for the occasion so that his name, and his action in taking second prize from Menelaus, may say all that needs to be said to sum up Antilochus’s victory: this was a victory of nóos—overly swift nóos to be sure, but nóos all the more for that. [62] {168|169}

§2.51 What we have found in the race of Antilochus with respect to nóos really pertains to Nestor himself. For, as we saw earlier, Antilochus reembodies the unrestrained incitement of his father in his father’s race against the Epeian twins. [63] We can now say that a sense of unrestrained incitement is as intrinsic to the noun nóos as it is to the name Néstōr. The noun and the name are indistinguishable in the analysis of Nestor’s race against the twins. The symbol of both is the whip. The danger of unrestrained nóos suggests that the word itself, and what it denoted, originated in the context of a larger duality, in which “incitement” was balanced by restraint. This amounts to saying that the noun nóos originated in the context of the Indo-European twin myth. What is most striking is that this context was still very much alive, and well understood, in the Homeric period, as we can see from Iliad 23.

§2.52 There is a further aspect of the chariot race in Iliad 23 that seems relevant to nóos and its etymological meaning “bringing back to life/bringing back to the light,” and that is the whole issue of deliberate concealment and the need by the Homeric audience to “perceive” what is intentionally left unsaid. The phrase oudé se lḗsei (and its variants) is used four times to draw attention to what is deliberately hidden, and what is hidden in the episode can be reduced to a single issue, namely the youthful Nestor’s unrestrained “incitement.” This is the missing link that connects Nestor’s speech with Antilochus’s race, and this is what is left out when the aged Nestor dwells on the care to be exercised in rounding the turning post, and when he later receives the prize that should have gone to the charioteer who crashed. The Homeric audience itself is called on to “bring back to light” the youthful Nestor’s unrestrained “incitement,” which is to say his nóos, the quality with which his name identifies him. Nestor’s role in the chariot race, one might say, is so constructed as to involve the audience in a process of nóos over the very meaning of the word. [64] {169|170}

§2.53 If Greek nóos, as derived from the root *nes-, originated in the context of the Indo-European twin myth, a question arises about Greek nóstos, “return home.” Did this noun, in its earlier meaning “return to life,” also originate in the context of the Indo-European twin myth? The key to this question is Nestor’s role in the Odyssey, to which we now turn. Before we do, however, we must touch on one last issue in Iliad 23, namely the relationship between the funeral games for Patroclus and the nóstoi of the Achaeans from Troy.

§2.54 A connection between the funeral games of Iliad 23 and the nóstoi of the Achaeans has been noticed before. [65] The clearest example is the footrace, in which the contest between Odysseus and the lesser Ajax seems to foreshadow the nóstoi of both heroes. Near the end of the footrace Odysseus prays to Athena, and she makes his limbs light and gives him victory, just as she will one day help him to return home; Ajax, on the other hand, she trips in cow dung, just as she will one day send a storm and wreck his ships. [66] There is nothing surprising in this connection between a footrace—a díaulos, with two legs and a turn between—and a return home. In Aeschylus’s Agamemnon Clytemnestra uses this very image when she says of her husband, who has not yet completed his nóstos, that he must “turn the other leg of the double racecourse back again” (Agamemnon 343–344):

δεῖ γὰρ πρὸς οἴκους νοστίμου σωτηρίας
κάμψαι διαύλου θάτερον κῶλον πάλιν. {170|171}

It is also clear from a general perspective why there should be a connection between funeral games and the nóstoi of the competitors, given the context of death of the funeral games and the underlying context of death and a return to life of the nóstoi. It would seem that the chariot race above all, in which the symbolism of a death and return to life is inherent in the grave that serves as a turning post, should foreshadow the competitors’ nóstoi, and indeed a connection between Diomedes’ blazing victory in the chariot race and his easy nóstos has been noticed. [68] There is more to say about Diomedes in this regard, and there is also something to be said about Menelaus, who eventually reaches home, and Antilochus as well, who dies in Troy. We will return to the races of all three of these heroes in relation to their nóstoi once we have considered Nestor’s role in the Odyssey and the Achaeans’ nóstoi on their own terms. But it must be recognized from the outset that the chariot race is connected with the nóstoi only secondarily. This is clear when we consider Eumelos. The reason that he crashes has nothing to do with his nóstos as far as we know. Eumelos crashes, as we have seen, in order to reenact, in transposed form, the crash of the youthful Nestor. Eumelos was chosen for this role because he had the fastest horses, and was considered, with Diomedes, the best charioteer. [69] The primary function of the chariot race in Iliad 23 is to reenact Nestor’s race in all its dimensions. Therefore the primary connection with the nóstoi is shifted to the footrace, where maximum point and contrast are achieved through the participation of Odysseus and Ajax. We should also note that the chariot race is linked to the footrace, and is illuminated by it, {171|172} in the dispute between spectators. For it is the same Ajax, who will soon be tripped in cow dung by Athena, who abusively contradicts Idomeneus, saying that Eumelos is still in first place in the chariot race. Ajax does not know that Athena has shattered Eumelos’s yoke and sent him to the ground, just as he does not foresee that she will soon do the same thing to him in the footrace, and much worse later in his nóstos. Thus the crash of Eumelos is indirectly connected with Ajax’s nóstos, but not his own. The footrace and the chariot race must be considered together to see the connection between the games of Iliad 23 and the nóstoi. It is both races that make this connection. [70]

§2.55 Something else is missing in the relationship between the chariot race and the nóstoi, and that is Nestor’s own role in the nóstoi, to which we now turn. Nestor is not a competitor in the chariot race, so he cannot be part of any transfer from one event to the other in the same way as, say, Diomedes. But Nestor is in fact far from being absent altogether from the picture. I noted earlier that Nestor is twice featured as a horseman in the action at Troy, in Iliad 8 and in Iliad 11. We have dealt with Iliad 11, where Nestor rescues the wounded Makhaon on his chariot and brings him to his tent. We have yet to deal with Iliad 8, where “the horseman Nestor” first appears as such in the poem. This episode works with the chariot race in Iliad 23 to complete the picture of Nestor’s part in the nóstoi, which is crucial, and which affects three others who compete in the two races of Iliad 23, namely Diomedes, Antilochus, and Odysseus. After we consider Nestor’s account of the nóstoi in Odyssey 3 we will consider his role in Iliad 8 and then return for a final look at Iliad 23. {172|173}


[ back ] 27. Amarynkeus, at whose funeral Nestor lost the chariot race, is an obscure figure. In particular his relationship to Augeias is not clear. Both these Epeian figures are connected with solar myth by virtue of their names (see above §1.32 and n1.92, n1.94, and n1.95). In Nestor’s two stories Amarynkeus seems to precede Augeias: Augeias is king of the Epeians in Iliad 11, where Nestor triumphs as a horseman; in Iliad 23 Amarynkeus has already passed from the scene when Nestor loses as a horseman. In Nestor’s myth, as I understand it, it only makes sense that his loss precedes his triumph (see below); hence I suspect that in Nestor’s tradition Amarynkeus was the father of Augeias. In the Catalogue of Ships, on the other hand, this cannot be the relationship between the two figures. In the catalogue the Epeians, who inhabit Elis and Bouprasion, have four leaders (each apparently from a different town, cf. n5.29 below): two of the leaders are sons of the Aktorione, another is the son of Amarynkeus, and the fourth is the grandson of Augeias (Iliad 2.615–624). Here Augeias belongs to an earlier generation than Amarynkeus, and not the reverse. The Aktorione also seem to be in the wrong generation in the catalogue from the point of view of Nestor’s stories: if they competed as young men at the funeral of Amarynkeus, they should not be in the same generation as Amarynkeus, as they are as the fathers of leaders at Troy in Iliad 2. It is possible that the patronymic Amarunkeḯdēs in Iliad 2.622, means “descendant of Amarynkeus” rather than “son of Amarynkeus”; this would allow Amarynkeus himself to belong to an earlier generation. But it is also possible, and I think more likely, that the catalogue operates outside Nestor’s old traditions and has its own agenda and sources. The catalogue, as mentioned, says that the Epeians inhabited Elis and Bouprasion. The distinction between the two places was later seen as a matter of separate kingdoms. Whether or not such a distinction was also part of Nestor’s traditions (I do not think that it was, but there is no way to be sure), it can easily be read back into his traditions: in Iliad 23 Amarynkeus is buried in Bouprasion, so this must be his kingdom; in Iliad 11 Augeias and Elis are both mentioned, so this must be the other kingdom. In a later version of the myth Augeias gives Amarynkeus, whose father came from Thessaly, a share in the rule of Elis (Pausanias 5.1.11); for further variations on the relationship between Amarynkeus and Augeias see Swoboda RE ‘Elis’ 2376–2377; cf. also Cantieni 1942:44–45, citing Robert 1920:16. As to the order of Nestor’s stories in terms of his heroic “biography,” the assumption is sometimes made that the order of the stories in the Iliad is also their chronological order; Bader 1980:17, for example, arranges Nestor’s three stories in Iliad 7, 11, and 23 in just this order, from youngest to oldest in terms of Nestor’s age. But such an order is by no means necessary, as Nestor’s brief story in Iliad 1 about the war between the Lapiths and Centaurs shows, for in this his first story Nestor is already an established warrior. Bader’s reasons for supposing that the story in Iliad 23 follows the story in Iliad 11 chronologically are not convincing. In particular, the idea that the Molione are still young and inexperienced in the story in Iliad 11 (παῖδ’ ἔτ’ ἐόντ’, οὔ πω μάλα εἰδότε θούριδος ἀλκῆς, Iliad 11.710), but had come of age in the story in Iliad 23 and therefore had a better outcome against Nestor (Bader 1980:33), puts the emphasis in the wrong place: in both stories it is Nestor’s age that matters. The Molione are a constant foil to Nestor: they are horsemen, ranked with other horsemen, in Iliad 11, and they are horsemen in Iliad 23; Nestor, on the other hand, does not join the rank of horsemen until the battle in his story in Iliad 11 begins.

[ back ] 28. The noun hēníokhos, “charioteer,” is literally “he who holds (-okhos from ékhō) the reins (hēnía).” The verb hēniokheúō means “act as hēníokhos,” and thus “drive” a chariot, but the literal meaning “hold the reins” is still clear in both the noun and the verb. “Completely incomprehensible” (“ganz unverständlich”) is Wilamowitz’s comment on these lines as the explanation of the twins’ victory (Wilamowitz 2006:343).

[ back ] 29. Both twins are horsemen, as are the two Aśvínā, but, as horsemen they are differentiated from each other. This is similar to the situation of the twins Podaleirios and Makhaon: they are both doctors, as are the two Nā́satyā, but as doctors they are differentiated from each other (see n2.19 above).

[ back ] 30. Nestor describes just such a driver in Iliad 23.319–321; see below for discussion of this passage.

[ back ] 31. A crash at the turning post must have been a regular occurrence in actual chariot races (cf. Aristophanes Peace 904–905 where one such is imagined). A spirit called Taráxippos (“disturber of horses”) was supposed to make chariots crash at a particular point of the racecourse at Olympia; this was not the turning post according to Pausanias 6.20.15–19, but see Frazer 1913 on 6.20.15 for other sources (Dio Chrysostom, Tzetzes) suggesting that it was the turning post; cf. also Nagy 1983:46 (= 1990:215).

[ back ] 32. At the end of the opening passage of the race, which is relatively short, the racers still have not rounded the turning post (Iliad 23.362–372):

οἳ δ’ ἅμα πάντες ἐφ’ ἵπποιιν μάστιγας ἄειραν,
πέπληγόν θ’ ἱμᾶσιν, ὁμόκλησάν τ’ ἐπέεσσιν
ἐσσυμένως· οἳ δ’ ὦκα διέπρησσον πεδίοιο
νόσφι νεῶν ταχέως· ὑπὸ δὲ στέρνοισι κονίη
ἵστατ’ ἀειρομένη ὥς τε νέφος ἠὲ θύελλα,
χαῖται δ’ ἐρρώοντο μετὰ πνοιῇς ἀνέμοιο.
ἅρματα δ’ ἄλλοτε μὲν χθονὶ πίλνατο πουλυβοτείρῃ,
ἄλλοτε δ’ ἀΐξασκε μετήορα· τοὶ δ’ ἐλατῆρες
ἕστασαν ἐν δίφροισι, πάτασσε δὲ θυμὸς ἑκάστου
νίκης ἱεμένων· κέκλοντο δὲ οἷσιν ἕκαστος
ἵπποις, οἳ δ’ ἐπέτοντο κονίοντες πεδίοιο.

They all raised their whips over the horses,
and lashed them with the reins, and shouted out vehemently
with words; the horses quickly traversed the plain,
away from the ships with speed; the dust under their chests
rose and stood like a cloud or a squall,
and their manes streamed in the blasts of wind.
Now the chariots neared the earth that feeds many,
now they rose up in the air; the drivers
stood in the chariots, and the heart of each beat
as they strove for victory; each called out to his
horses, and they flew over the plain raising the dust.

When the narrative continues in the next line, it emerges that the turning post has already been rounded without any direct mention of it, and the real races now begin (Iliad 23.373–375):

ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ πύματον τέλεον δρόμον ὠκέες ἵπποι
ἂψ ἐφ’ ἁλὸς πολιῆς, τότε δὴ ἀρετή γε ἑκάστου
φαίνετ’, ἄφαρ δ’ ἵπποισι τάθη δρόμος.

But when the swift horses were completing the end of the course
back toward the grey sea, then indeed the strength of each
showed itself, and at once the horses strained their hardest.

In Nestor’s race against the twins, as he himself describes it, the turning post is represented by a pause between verses (see §2.20 above). There is something similar in the passage above (see EN5.1 below for a more detailed analysis). The two instances are not unrelated: the silence about the turning point in the chariot race for Patroclus prepares for silence about the turning point in Nestor’s youthful race against the twins.

[ back ] 33. After Nestor finishes his speech and sits down, only one more line (the entry of Meriones as the final contestant, Iliad 23.351) intervenes before the charioteers mount their chariots, take their places according to lots, mark the turning post, and begin the race (Iliad 23.352–363). The transition from Nestor’s speech to the race itself is all but immediate (Iliad 23.349–352):

ὣς εἰπὼν Νέστωρ Νηλήϊος ἂψ ἐνὶ χώρῃ
ἕζετ’, ἐπεὶ ᾧ παιδὶ ἑκάστου πείρατ’ ἔειπε.
Μηριόνης δ’ ἄρα πέμπτος ἐΰτριχας ὁπλίσαθ’ ἵππους.
ἂν δ’ ἔβαν ἐς δίφρους, ἐν δὲ κλήρους ἐβάλοντο….

So speaking Nestor the son of Neleus went back to his place
and sat, after he had told his son the main points of each thing.
Meriones, the fifth contestant, also harnessed his beautiful-maned horses.
Onto their chariots they went and cast their lots….

[ back ] 34. The usual critical judgment.

[ back ] 35. Iliad 23.306–309:

Ἀντίλοχ’ ἤτοι μέν σε νέον περ ἐόντ’ ἐφίλησαν
Ζεύς τε Ποσειδάων τε, καὶ ἱπποσύνας ἐδίδαξαν
παντοίας· τὼ καί σε διδασκέμεν οὔ τι μάλα χρεώ·
οἶσθα γὰρ εὖ περὶ τέρμαθ’ ἑλισσέμεν.

Antilochus, young as you are, Zeus and Poseidon
have loved you and taught you all aspects
of horsemanship; therefore it is not really necessary to instruct you;
for you know well how to round the turning post.

[ back ] 36. In his speech Nestor tells Antilochus that he has the slowest horses (Iliad 23.309–312):

ἀλλά τοι ἵπποι
βάρδιστοι θείειν· τώ τ’ οἴω λοίγι’ ἔσεσθαι.
τῶν δ’ ἵπποι μὲν ἔασιν ἀφάρτεροι, οὐδὲ μὲν αὐτοὶ
πλείονα ἴσασιν σέθεν αὐτοῦ μητίσασθαι.

But your horses
run the slowest; I think that will be trouble.
The others have faster horses, but they themselves do not
know more than you how to devise intelligent schemes.

In the race it comes out that the horses are actually Nestor’s when Antilochus addresses a speech to them (Ἀντίλοχος δ’ ἵπποισιν ἐκέκλετο πατρὸς ἑοῖο, “Antilochus exhorted his father’s horses,” Iliad 23.402). In his speech Antilochus threatens them that if they do not perform Nestor will kill them (Iliad 23.410–413):

ὧδε γὰρ ἐξερέω, καὶ μὴν τετελεσμένον ἔσται·
οὐ σφῶϊν κομιδὴ παρὰ Νέστορι ποιμένι λαῶν
ἔσσεται, αὐτίκα δ’ ὔμμε κατακτενεῖ ὀξέϊ χαλκῷ,
αἴ κ’ ἀποκηδήσαντε φερώμεθα χεῖρον ἄεθλον.

For I will tell you this, and it will be done:
there will be no care for you at the hands of Nestor, shepherd of the warriors,
but he will immediately kill you with the sharp bronze,
if you two flag and we carry off an inferior prize.

In Iliad 8 Nestor himself has trouble with his horses when his trace horse is shot and gets tangled in the traces; Diomedes, who rescues him, chides the old man for his slow horses (bradées dé toi híppoi, Iliad 8.104; cf. §2.76 below). It is remarkable that in Iliad 23 Antilochus races with his father’s horses, which are old and slow like his father himself, and not with horses of his own; Nestor is as much a part of Antilochus’s race as Antilochus himself (see below).

[ back ] 37. The quality extolled is mē̂tis: see n2.57 below for more on this passage in relation to Nestor’s own intrinsic quality, nóos.

[ back ] 38. With the verb exērṓēsan Idomeneus suggests that Eumelos’s horses may have swerved off the course and so disappeared from the race.

[ back ] 39. See n2.38 above on the verb exērṓēsan in Iliad 23.468. A charioteer would of course naturally give his horses freer rein when urging them on; cf., for example, the phrase rhutà khalaínontes, “slackening the reins,” used of racers who “incite” (ephíesan) their horses in Hesiod Shield of Heracles 306–309:

ἐυπλεκέων δ’ ἐπὶ δίφρων
ἡνίοχοι βεβαῶτες ἐφίεσαν ὠκέας ἵππους
ῥυτὰ χαλαίνοντες, τὰ δ’ ἐπικροτέοντα πέτοντο
ἅρματα κολλήεντ’.

Standing on the well-plaited chariots
the charioteers incited their swift horses,
slackening the reins, and the tightly-joined chariots
flew rattling on.

But Nestor did more than give his horses free rein; he lashed his horses until the reins flew from his hands. See §2.78 below for the phrase phúgon hēnía used of Nestor himself in Iliad 8.137.

[ back ] 40. Eumelos is eager, as when he is “much the first” to step forward for the race, but he is also “the best at horsemanship” (Iliad 23.287–289):

ὣς φάτο Πηλεΐδης, ταχέες δ’ ἱππῆες ἄγερθεν.
ὦρτο πολὺ πρῶτος μὲν ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν Εὔμηλος
Ἀδμήτου φίλος υἱός, ὃς ἱπποσύνῃ ἐκέκαστο.

So Peleus’s son spoke, and the swift horsemen gathered.
The lord of men Eumelus stood up much the first,
Admetus’s dear son, who was the best at horsemanship.

Eumelos’s “eagerness” is not the same fault as in Nestor’s case.

[ back ] 41. Iliad 5.835–863.

[ back ] 42. Note that Athena takes both whip and reins in Iliad 5.840, unlike the distribution of functions between the Epeian twins in Iliad 23.641–642. Athena puts ménos into Diomedes at the start of Iliad 5, well before she enters his chariot, as she herself says (Iliad 5.125–126):

ἐν γάρ τοι στήθεσσι μένος πατρώϊον ἧκα
ἄτρομον, οἷον ἔχεσκε σακέσπαλος ἱππότα Τυδεύς.

I have put your ancestors’ unflinching ménos into your breast,
such as the shield-brandishing horseman Tydeus used to have.

She goes on to say that she has taken the mist from his eyes so that he can tell gods from men, and tells him to wound only Aphrodite among the gods.

[ back ] 43. Diomedes is called the best charioteer in Iliad 23.357; Eumelos is called the best in Iliad 23.536. We do not know which of the two would have won if the gods had not interfered; we know only that, with Athena’s help, Diomedes did win.

[ back ] 44. Eumelos is the son of Admetos (Iliad 2.714), whom Apollo served as herdsman for a year (“Apollodorus” 1.9.15, 3.10.4). This explains how Apollo came to breed Eumelos’s horses, and support him in the race. But there is also more to Apollo’s opposition to Diomedes insofar as this too continues the episode in Iliad 5: in Iliad 5 Diomedes wounds Aeneas and then Aphrodite as she tries to rescue Aeneas; when the wounded Aphrodite lets go of Aeneas Apollo protects him (5.344–346), and Diomedes attacks Apollo four times before he is finally warned off (5.436–442). In the end Diomedes retreats “avoiding the wrath (mē̂nis) of Apollo” (5.443–444), and Apollo rescues Aeneas from the battlefield. Athena had told Diomedes to attack only Aphrodite among the gods (5.129–132), and Apollo warns Diomedes to know his place as a mortal (Iliad 5.440–442):

φράζεο Τυδεΐδη καὶ χάζεο, μηδὲ θεοῖσιν
ἶσ’ ἔθελε φρονέειν, ἐπεὶ οὔ ποτε φῦλον ὁμοῖον
ἀθανάτων τε θεῶν χαμαὶ ἐρχομένων τ’ ἀνθρώπων.

Take thought, son of Tydeus, and yield, and do not wish
to think thoughts equal to the gods, since the race
of immortal gods and of men who walk on the earth is never the same.

Diomedes avoids Apollo’s wrath in Iliad 5, but a reminder of his wrath returns in Iliad 23 when he knocks the whip from Diomedes’ hands.

[ back ] 45. See n2.36 above.

[ back ] 46. See §2.26 above.

[ back ] 47. Compare Iliad 16.375, tanúonto dè mṓnukhes híppoi, “the solid-hoofed horses went full speed,” where the verb tanúonto means literally “were stretched.”

[ back ] 48. When Nestor says that the skillful charioteer knows “when first to press (the horses) with the ox-hide reins” he comes close to evoking his own disastrous race against the twins, and the role of the reins in that race. The reference to the reins, instead of the whip, is at least consistent with such an evocation.

[ back ] 49. The implication in asphaléōs of “not stumbling” is to the point here. The verb ékhei often means to “drive” horses (Cunliffe 1924 s.v. no. 39).

[ back ] 50. Note the irony of the situation when Antilochus, who succeeded with his rash tactic, refuses to yield his prize to the reembodiment of his father, who failed with a similar tactic when he was young. For a different interpretation of the dispute for second prize, see Hammer 2002:134–143, who focuses on Achilles’ role in the dispute in political terms.

[ back ] 51. At the end of the passage on the turning post comes Nestor’s warning about a crash.

[ back ] 52. In Iliad 23.652 Achilles proceeds from the chariot race to the next contest “when he had heard the whole tale of Neleus’s son,” ἐπεὶ πάντ’ αἶνον ἐπέκλυε Νηλεΐδαο; the view that aînos, “tale,” has the connotation “coded message” in Homer is strongly supported by its occurrence in this line (for aînos as “coded message” see Nagy 1979:235–241, who points to the related forms ainíssomai, “utter an oracular response,” and aínigma, “riddle”); aînos, “coded message,” would seem to be the precise term for the speech that Nestor has just delivered (cf. Meuli 1975 [1954] 752, who also sees a hidden meaning in Nestor’s aînos, but identifies it as Nestor’s veiled hint that he should receive the remaining prize; Alden 2000:102–110 offers another solution to the riddle posed by the word aînos in Iliad 23.652, namely that Nestor once accepted with restraint an unfair defeat by the Molione and that he thus contrasts favorably with Menelaus when tricked by Antilochus). In terms of seeing what is hidden from view, the spectators in the chariot race of Iliad 23 are put in the same position as the Homeric audience, and they thus represent the Homeric audience in this episode: the race becomes invisible to the spectators at the turning post, and thus an object of dispute, and it is in relation to the turning post that the Homeric audience must also see what is hidden from view. For the spectators the dispute about the leader in the race is resolved at the end of the race; for the Homeric audience the issue of the turning post’s relevance in the race is resolved by Nestor’s acceptance of last prize at the end of the episode as a whole. It is worth emphasizing that the phrase deployed to such meaningful effect in the chariot race is itself formulaic: cf. oudé se lḗthō, “I do not escape your notice,” Iliad 1.561, 10.279; oudé me lḗseis, “you will not escape my notice,” Odyssey 13.393; oudé se lḗsei, “it will not escape your notice,” Odyssey 11.126 (cf. n2.64 below for this occurrence). The deployment of the phrase in the chariot race is simply a matter of the oral poet’s artistry in the use of his conventional medium. In Iliad 2 there is a different form of the phrase that seems related to its occurrences in Iliad 23. The “baneful dream” (oûlos óneiros) sent by Zeus to Agamemnon to tell him that he can now take Troy comes in the form of Nestor; before the dream departs the phantom Nestor tells Agamemnon not to forget the dream when he awakens, and the phrase that this Nestor uses is mēdé se lḗthē / haireítō, “may forgetfulness not seize you” (Iliad 2.33–34). The real Nestor, when Agamemnon repeats his dream in council, appears to reject it, saying that if anyone but Agamemnon had had this dream the Achaean leaders would not believe it; but Nestor in fact accepts the dream and all the other leaders are persuaded by him. The irony is obvious: it is Nestor—both the phantom Nestor and the real Nestor—who persuade the Achaeans to pursue a disastrous course, but the real Nestor escapes all responsibility for the plan. This is like the situation in the chariot race for Patroclus, where there are again two Nestors, the old Nestor of the present and the young Nestor who once raced at Bouprasion, and the old Nestor of the present bears no responsibility for the calamitous actions of the young Nestor, who remains largely hidden from view. In configuring a double Nestor in Iliad 2 the Homeric poets seem to have had in mind Nestor’s role later in the poem. The phantom Nestor of Iliad 2 anticipates the hidden Nestor of Iliad 23 especially in terms of the “incitement” that each represents: in Iliad 2 it is the phantom Nestor that sets Agamemnon in motion. The connection between the two episodes is, I think, borne out by the phrase mēdé se lḗthē in Iliad 2 and its four-fold echo in Iliad 23. There are of course differences between the two episodes both in the situation (phantom self versus former self) and in the formulaic phrase (noun lḗthē versus verbs lḗthō, lḗthei, lḗsei), but there is also a remarkable similarity. Nestor’s ironic role in Iliad 2 raises a final point. Nestor in the Iliad is typically seen as a conventional supporter of established authority, and of Agamemnon in particular (see e.g. Wilson 2002:63, 73, 141–142 on Nestor’s role in the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon in Iliad 1). The point is not wrong, but it takes Nestor’s actions on the surface of the poem too much at face value; there is also an unconventional Nestor beneath the surface of the poem. In the balance between “incitement” and “restraint,” the surface Nestor is mainly “restraint,” the hidden Nestor is wholly “incitement.” For the irony of Nestor’s appearance in Agamemnon’s dream in Iliad 2 cf. Dickson 1995:147–148, who points out that Aristarchus athetized the real Nestor’s speech (Dickson 1995:147, 155n28; cf. 159).

[ back ] 53. Achilles describes the state of mind which Patroclus is to avoid—and which he instead enters into completely—as “exulting in warfare and battle” (ἐπαγαλλόμενος πολέμῳ καὶ δηϊοτῆτι, Iliad 16.91). It is victory over Sarpedon that brings Patroclus to this state of mind; before encountering Sarpedon he in fact heeds Achilles’ warning. When Patroclus’s horses jump the ditch (Iliad 16.380), Hector escapes (Iliad 16.383) and the Trojans flee for the city; Patroclus does not pursue them, but turns back on the Trojans left behind and forces them back toward the ships (ἂψ ἐπὶ νῆας ἔεργε παλιμπετές, Iliad 16.395). This action soon leads to his fateful encounter with Sarpedon (Iliad 16.419).

[ back ] 54. Note that if the sē̂ma described by Nestor was a grave it belonged to a man long dead (βροτοῖο πάλαι κατατεθνηῶτος); is this meant to connect the sē̂ma with the bygone era of Nestor’s own race? This would be entirely appropriate given the real purpose of the description of the sē̂ma in Nestor’s speech. In the Archaic period, perhaps in imitation of Nestor’s description, columns seem to have been used as combined tomb markers and turning posts (see McGowan 1995).

[ back ] 55. In Rome, before the Circus Maximus was built in Julius Caesar’s time, a place was simply “marked out” (designatus) in the valley between the Palatine and the Aventine for use in games (Livy 1.35.8); the starting point and the turning point for chariot races were associated with sanctuaries of two goddesses, Stimula, the “whip” personified, and Murcia, a goddess of restraint (see below). Wiseman 1995:137 makes the case that Romulus and Remus, in the augury that determined the site of the future Rome, took their stands above the two ends of the racecourse: “In Ennius’ narrative of the augury contest, Romulus is on the Aventine proper, and Remus on the mons Murcus. That means, I think, that Romulus the hasty was above the starting line of the Circus and the grove of Stimula, and Remus the slow was above the turning point of the Circus and the shrine of Murcia.” If Wiseman is right, the roles of the Roman twins in relation to the chariot race are virtually the same as in Greek; this is a fascinating correspondence, but it is unclear to me whether it is due to common inheritance or borrowing (common innovation is also theoretically possible). For the two goddesses, cf. Augustine City of God 4.16: vocaverunt…deam Stimulam quae ad agendum ultra modum stimularet, deam Murciam quae praeter modum non moveret ac faceret hominem…murcidum, id est nimis desidiosum et inactuosum, “They called a goddess Stimula who stimulated to greater than normal activity, and a goddess Murcia who did not move a man more than normal and made him murcidus…, that is, excessively lazy and inactive.” In the chariot race, it seems clear, the goddesses Stimula and Murcia represented “incitement” and “restraint.”

[ back ] 56. Note what the poet says of Antilochus when he finishes the race in second place ahead of Menelaus (Iliad 23.515): κέρδεσιν, οὔ τι τάχει γε, παραφθάμενος Μενέλαον, “overtaking Menelaus not by speed, but by tricks.” The word kérdesin here is to be compared with kérdea in Nestor’s characterization of the skillful charioteer (Iliad 23.322): ὃς δέ κε κέρδεα εἰδῇ ἐλαύνων ἥσσονας ἵππους, “but the one who, driving worse horses, knows all the tricks.”

[ back ] 57. This is so despite his father’s earlier statement that the other contestants do not surpass Antilochus in mē̂tis. The notion that a young man lacks mē̂tis implies that mē̂tis comes with age, and this too fits with the aged Nestor’s ringing endorsement of the quality in his speech of advice to his son (Nestor’s age similarly associates him with “restraint”; cf. §2.77 below and EN2.1 [end] to n2. 62 below). Another factor in Nestor’s focus on mē̂tis in this speech is that mē̂tis implies deception, and Nestor’s very use of the word, as suggested above, is itself a disguise, masking the quality that marked his own youthful crash. As Sfyroeras (unpublished) points out, the phrase huphaínein ḗrkheto mē̂tin, “began to weave mē̂tis,” which is twice used of Nestor in the Iliad to introduce plans of his own devising (the Achaean wall in Iliad 7.324 and the embassy to Achilles in Iliad 9.93), implies deception (cf. Odyssey 9.422, where dólous, “wiles,” is added as a second object to mē̂tin; cf. also Odyssey 4.678, 4.739, 5.356, 13.303, 13.386, Iliad 6.187). Nestor’s role in the Iliad is marked by irony not only in the chariot race, but throughout (cf. n2.52 above), and this pervasive irony gives him a wily aspect close to mē̂tis. For another perspective on the role of mē̂tis in Antilochus’s race, cf. Detienne and Vernant 1974, chapter 1.

[ back ] 58. For the connection of nóos with speed, cf. also Odyssey 7.36: ὠκεῖαι ὡς εἰ πτερὸν ἠὲ νόημα “fast as an arrow or a thought (nóēma),” a comparison for the speed of the Phaeacian ships, and Iliad 15.80: ὡς δ’ ὅτ’ ἂν ἀΐξῃ νόος ἀνέρος, “as when a man’s nóos darts,” a comparison for Hera’s speed; cf. Frame 1978:79 with n72. A different pairing of nóos and mē̂tis occurs in Iliad 10. 226: ἀλλά τέ οἱ βράσσων τε νόος, λεπτὴ δέ τε μῆτις, “but his nóos is too short and his mē̂tis slight”; as opposed to nóos that is too swift, nóos that is “too short” (brássōn) is nóos that is too little rather than too much.

[ back ] 59. The adjective parḗoros, which means “loosely attached (mentally),” may in this instance also contain a suggestion of loose control over horses; note that the noun parḗoros means the (loosely attached) “trace horse.”

[ back ] 60. νεοίη, “youth,” is a hapax legomenon; see Matthews 1996:385–386 for the possibility that Antimachus in the fifth century BC read νόον νίκησε νoῆμα in this line, whatever such an unlikely phrase would have meant.

[ back ] 61. The name of Nestor’s maidservant in Iliad 11, Hekamḗdē, daughter of Arsínoos, similarly reflects Nestor’s own characterization (see §2.12 above).

[ back ] 62. Two other minor figures in Homer are named Noḗmōn: one lends Telemachus his ship for the journey to Pylos (Odyssey 4.630–657); the other is a Lycian slain by Odysseus (Iliad 5.678; Odysseus slays six other Lycians in the same passage, two of whom, Alastor and Chromios, also have names connected with Nestor; see n1.8 above). It perhaps seems counterintuitive that nóos is aligned with “incitement” rather than “restraint” in an opposition between the two qualities; in Plato, where nóos represents reason as opposed to both warlike spirit (thumós) and the lower appetites (epithumíai), nóos would seem to be on the side of “restraint” rather than “incitement” (although the role of éros in causing the soul’s upward movement toward the “noetic” realm suggests a more complicated picture). In Homer too one can make the case that words for mental activity (mē̂tis, boulḗ, nóos) all tend to be used in opposition to the word or the concept of bíē, “force,” and thus to represent “restraint” as opposed to a “lack of restraint” characteristic of a warrior’s bíē (cf. Wilson 2005:9–10). But the opposition in the twin myth operates along a different axis from this; the warrior quality at issue in the twin myth, insofar as it is aligned with “restraint,” is that of the defensive warrior, for which the proper word is alkḗ rather than bíē (see Benveniste 1969:2.72–74 for alkḗ). As for nóos, significant as the etymology may be in a context like the chariot race of Iliad 23, etymology does not restrict the word’s range of use in other Homeric contexts; cf. the remarks in n1.105 above. Other questions with respect to the opposition between “incitement” and “restraint,” including how a different opposition between mē̂tis and bíē compares with it, are discussed in EN2.1.

[ back ] 63. I earlier raised the question why Nestor, if his name associates him with nóos, should extol mē̂tis in his speech of advice to Antilochus (§1.39 above). I think the answer is now clear: Antilochus’s characterization of the transgressions of a young man—that his nóos is too swift and his mē̂tis slight—is really meant to characterize the young Nestor. Thus the aged Nestor’s paean to mē̂tis, while not out of character (cf. n2.57 above), is nevertheless highly ironic. It is part of the intentional concealment of the young Nestor’s role in Iliad 23.

[ back ] 64. Nagy 1983 analyzes the relationship between the verb noéō, “perceive,” and the noun sē̂ma, “sign,” in various epic contexts, including the chariot race of Iliad 23. He draws attention to the phrase oudé se lḗsei, “it will not escape your notice,” which Nestor uses in relation to the turning post, and to the variations of this phrase throughout the chariot race of Iliad 23. He points out that in Odyssey 11, when Teiresias tells Odysseus the sē̂ma by which he will know where to plant his oar after his return home, he uses the same line as Nestor in his reference to the turning post (Odyssey 11.126 = Iliad 23.326): σῆμα δέ τοι ἐρέω μάλ’ ἀριφραδές, οὐδέ σε λήσει, “I will tell you a very clear sign, and it will not escape your notice.” A sē̂ma, “sign,” is something to be understood as well as perceived, as Nagy points out. Since the turning post is the key to the chariot race and to Nestor’s role in it, the word sē̂ma, as illuminated by Nagy, seems especially apt when Nestor himself first draws attention to it. The special importance of the word in the context of the turning post is indicated by the fact that it occurs again five lines later in Nestor’s speech, here in the meaning “grave” (text in §2.47 above). The repetition of the word is like the repetition of the phrase oudé he lḗthei, “and it does not escape his notice,” in the form oudé se lḗsei, “and it will not escape your notice,” within four lines in the very same context.

[ back ] 65. Cf. Whitman 1958:263–264 on connections between contests in Iliad 23 and the later fates of heroes.

[ back ] 66. Athena’s role in the footrace (Iliad 23.768–783) is after the turn: ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ πύματον τέλεον δρόμον, “but when they were completing the end of the course,” Iliad 23.768. For the storm sent against Ajax see Odyssey 4.499–502, and cf. Odyssey 5.108–111, and 3.135 and 166. With Odysseus’s prayer to Athena in the footrace (Iliad 23.770) one might compare his prayer to Athena near the end of his nóstos, in which he asks that he win favor with the Phaeacians, his ultimate homebringers (Odyssey 6.324–327).

[ back ] 67. The phrase νοστίμου σωτηρίας, “salvation of a return home,” is repeated from Aeschylus’s Persians 797, where the ghost of Dareios says that the defeated Persian army will not meet with νοστίμου σωτηρίας (i.e. will not return from Greece).

[ back ] 68. Whitman 1958:264.

[ back ] 69. According to “Apollodorus” Epitome 5.5 Eumelos wins the chariot race in the funeral games of Achilles. If this is an old tradition it would explain why Achilles calls Eumelos “best” and awards him a special prize despite his loss. For further discussion, see n2.117 below. In Quintus of Smyrna the chariot race for Achilles (4.500–544) has a long gap in it (after 4.524) and it is not clear who the victor is: Eumelos takes the early lead, as in the games for Patroclus, but Menelaus rejoices in his “victory” at the end of the episode (4.522 and 541). It is not clear that Menelaus’s “victory” means first prize (consider his contest with Antilochus for second prize in Iliad 23), and it is not clear why Eumelos, with the fastest horses, should have failed to win first prize; we may infer that he did not crash from the fact that two other competitors, Thoas and Eurypylos, fell from their chariots and are treated for wounds after the race (4.538–540). In what remains of the episode there is no indication how Eumelos finished the race after taking the early lead.

[ back ] 70. Antilochus, who comes in last behind both Odysseus and Ajax in the footrace (Iliad 23.785–792), is another link with the chariot race, in which he is an apparent victor. In terms of his nóstos—Antilochus dies at Troy—it is the footrace that counts; his role in the chariot race has primarily to do with his father’s former race, and not his own later fate.