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Chapter 5. Prayer and Supplication
From this passage two hints may be derived regarding the sense of líssomai. Men “supplicate” (lissómenoi) the gods when they have sinned by transgression or error (1. 501). This supplication (litḗ) has the purpose of obtaining pardon for a wrong done to the gods. We interpret in the same way the role of the Prayers. The point of the allegory is that the one who suffers from having sinned through blindness or distraction will be cured and achieve the fulfillment of his vows by means of Prayer (Litḗ). But if he rejects Prayer she will bring on him the punishment of Zeus. The purpose of a litḗ is to do reparation for an offence given to the gods—and not only to the gods. When Chryses presents himself with the fillets of Apollo on a scepter, in an elaborate and solemn approach, he supplicates (elísseto) all the Achaeans (Il. 1,15): “May the gods grant you to take the city of Priam and to return safe and sound to your homes; but for my part, may you also give me back my daughter and accept a ransom, showing thereby that you revere the son of Zeus, Apollo …” This is because the Achaeans have affronted the priest of Apollo and for this the god exacts payment. This litḗ of Chryses is a demand for reparation; see also Thetis when she supplicates (lissoménē) Zeus for the affront to her son Achilles (1, 502ff.). Another example is the supplications addressed to Meleager by the elders, by his parents, and by his wife to make him forget his anger (9, 553ff.); or Antilochus supplicating Menelaos to disarm his anger (23, 608ff). There are many other passages which lead to the same conception. Thus litḗ is very different from eûkhos or eukhōlḗ.