The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

  Nagy, Gregory. 2013. The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013. Abridged edition 2019.



Hour 11. Blessed are the heroes: the cult hero in Homeric poetry and beyond

The meaning of olbios

11§1. They key word for this hour is olbios, which as we will see means ‘blessed’ or even ‘blissful’ for those who are initiated into the mysteries of hero cult but simply ‘prosperous, happy’ for the uninitiated. As we will also see, the cult hero is olbios, ‘blessed’, after he or she dies, and the worshipper of a cult hero can become olbios, ‘blessed’, by making mental contact with the hero – which can be achieved by way of physical contact with the earth that contains the corpse of the hero or even with a relic or simulacrum of the hero.
11§2. In the first text to be considered, we find the word olbios used with reference to Achilles as a cult hero. The reference is stylized, since Homeric poetry tends to avoid explicit references to hero cult, but the language used in the reference is consistent with the traditional understanding about cult heroes: that they were mortals made immortal after death, and that this immortalization led to the establishment of hero cults in the context of the tombs where the heroes’ bodies were buried after a proper funeral. [1] Later on, in Text G, we will see the same word olbios used with reference to Odysseus as a would-be cult hero.
11§3. Here, then, is the text featuring the word olbios as applied to Achilles:

Hour 11 Text A

|36 O you blessed [olbios] son of Peleus, godlike Achilles, |37 you who died at Troy far from Argos. And others, those all around you [= your corpse], |38 were being slaughtered, sons of both Trojans and Achaeans, the best, |39 as they were fighting over you [= your {314|315} corpse]. There you were, lying in a swirl of dust. |40 You lay there so huge in all your hugeness, no longer thinking about your feats of charioteering. … |43 Then, when we had taken you [= your corpse] to the ships, out of the battlezone, |44 we laid you on your bed and cleansed your beautiful skin |45 with warm water and with oil. And, crying over you, many tears |46 did the Danaans [= Achaeans] shed, hot tears, and they cut their hair. |47 Your mother came, with her immortal sea nymphs, from out of the sea, |48 as soon as she heard, and the sound of a great wailing went forth over the sea, |49 a sound too wondrous for words, and all the Achaeans were overcome with trembling. … |58 Standing around you were the daughters of the Old One of the sea [= Nereus], |59 weeping piteously, and they [= the Nereids] clothed you [= the corpse of Achilles] in immortalizing [ambrota] clothes. |60 The nine Muses also came, all of them, and sang antiphonally with a beautiful voice, |61 singing their song of lament [thrēneîn]; you could not spot a single person who was not shedding tears, |62 of all the Argives [= Achaeans], so loudly did the piercing sound of lament rise up. |63 Days and nights seven and ten |64 we mourned you, we mortals and immortals alike, |65 but on the eighteenth day we gave you to the flames, and, over the fire, many |66 fat sheep and many horned oxen did we slay in sacrifice. |67 You were burning while clothed in the clothes of the gods, and with plenty of olive oil, |68 also sweet honey. And a multitude of Achaean heroes |69 were dancing in their armor around the pyre as you were burning. |70 There were footsoldiers and charioteers, and a great din arose. |71 But when the flames of Hephaistos had consumed you, |72 we gathered your white bones at dawn, O Achilles, and laid them |73 in unmixed wine and in oil. Your mother gave |74 a golden amphora to hold them – she had received it as a gift from Dionysus, |75 she said, and it was the work of the famed Hephaistos himself; |76 in this [amphora] were placed your white bones, O luminous Achilles, |77 mixed together with the bones of Patroklos who had died before you, |78 and separately from the bones of Antilokhos, whom you honored most of all |79 your other comrades [hetairoi] after Patroklos had died. |80 Over these bones a huge and faultless tomb [tumbos] |81 was built; it was a tumulus that we the sacred army of spear-fighting Argives [= Achaeans] heaped {315|316} up, |82 at a headland jutting out over the open Hellespont, |83 so that it might be visible, shining forth from afar, for men at sea [pontos] |84 now living and for those that will be born hereafter. |85 Your mother [Thetis] asked for and received from the gods very beautiful prizes [āthla], |86 and she placed them in the middle of the place for competition [agōn] among the noblest of the Achaeans. |87 You must have been present at funerals of many men |88 who were heroes, and so you know how, at the death of some great king, |89 the young men gird themselves and make ready to contend for prizes [āthla], |90 but even you would have been most amazed in your heart [thūmos] to see those things, |91 I mean, those beautiful prizes that were set up by the goddess in your honor [epi soi], |92 by Thetis with the silver steps. For you were so very dear to the gods. |93 Thus, even in death, your glorious name, Achilles, has not been lost, and you will have for all eternity, |94 among all humankind, a glory [kleos] that is genuine, Achilles. |95 As for me, what solace had I in this, that the days of my fighting in war were over? |96 For, in the course of my homecoming [nostos], Zeus masterminded a disastrous [lugros] destruction for me, |97 at the hands of Aegisthus and of my disastrous [oulomenē] wife.
Odyssey xxiv 36-97 [2] {316|317}
11§4. The speaker here is the ghost or, more accurately, the psūkhē, ‘spirit’, of Agamemnon (xxiv 35), who is addressing Achilles, likewise described as a psūkhē (xxiv 24). At this moment, both psūkhai are in Hādēs. As I argued in Hour 8, Hādēs is a point of transition that can lead from death to immortalization – provided that the ritual prerequisites of hero cult are followed correctly. These prerequisites are in fact being met in the case of Achilles, as we know from the words spoken by Agamemnon in describing the funeral of Achilles and the making of his tomb. As we will see, the funeral and the tomb of a hero are two main prerequisites for hero cult. And, as we will also see, the status of the cult hero as olbios or ‘blessed’ is a third main prerequisite. So, it is significant that the psūkhē of Agamemnon addresses the psūkhē of Achilles by calling him olbios at the beginning of the text I just quoted. Later on, I will argue that both these words, olbios and psūkhē, convey the promise of heroic immortalization after death. [3] But first, I propose to delve into other salient details in Text A.

Signs of hero cult

11§5. Text A, as I just quoted it, contains some of the clearest references to hero cult in Homeric poetry. In what follows, I will analyze a few of these references.
11§6. I start with the tumulus that will become the tomb shared by Achilles and Patroklos (xxiv 80-84). The reference here in the Odyssey to the shared tomb of Achilles and Patroklos complements a set of stylized references to what is understood to be the same tomb in the Iliad (especially XIX 368-380; XXIII 125-126, 245-248). [4] And the Homeric description of the tomb shared by these two heroes matches what we know about the tombs of cult heroes from sources external to Homeric poetry. [5]
11§7. After building the tomb, the Achaeans hold funeral games in honor {317|318} of Achilles (xxiv 85-86). The details that we find in the narrative about these games match closely the details we can gather from historical evidence about athletic contests held in honor of cult heroes. [6]
11§8. The contests at the funeral games of Achilles and the prizes to be won in these contests are instituted for the purpose of compensating for his death, and such an act of compensation is expressed by way of the prepositional phrase epi soi (ἐπὶ σοί) at xxiv 91, which can be translated roughly as ‘in your honor’. As we can see clearly from a variety of other sources, which I examined already in Hour 8a above, the syntactical construct combining the preposition epi with the dative case of any given hero’s name refers to the cult of that hero. [7]
11§9. I find it relevant here to focus on a detail at xxiv 37-39, where we see that the Achaeans and the Trojans are battling over the possession of the corpse of Achilles. [8] The mentality of needing to possess the body of the dead hero, whether he was a friend or an enemy in life, is typical of hero cults, in that the corpse of the cult hero was viewed as a talisman of fertility and prosperity for the community that gained possession of the hero’s body. [9]
11§10. There is a related detail at xxiv 39-40: the corpse of Achilles is described here as larger than life. [10] As we see from lore preserved in the historical period about cult heroes, they were conventionally pictured as far larger in death than they had been in life. [11]
11§11. The future immortalization of the dead hero in the context of hero cult is indicated by the epithet for the clothes that cover the hero’s body: as we see at xxiv 59, the divine mother of Achilles and her sister Nereids clothe the hero’s {318|319} corpse in ‘immortalizing’ or ambrota clothes. [12] So, there is a special meaning built into the description of the cremation at xxiv 67: ‘you were burning while clothed in the clothes of the gods’.
11§12. We see at xxiv 73-77 another indication of the dead hero’s future immortalization: after the cremation of the corpse of Achilles, his bones and those of the already cremated corpse of Patroklos are placed into a golden amphora that had been given by the god Dionysus to the goddess Thetis. This amphora, as we know from the comparative evidence of other poetic references (especially Stesichorus PMG 234), will mystically bring the hero back to life. [13]
11§13. We have already seen a variation on the theme of this hero’s immortalization in the epic Cycle:

Hour 11 Text B = Hour 4 Text I

|12 … Thetis |13 comes with the Muses and her sisters and makes a lament [thrēnos] for her son. |14 After that, Thetis snatches him off the funeral pyre and carries her |15 son over to the White Island [Leukē]. Meanwhile the Achaeans |16 make [for Achilles] a tomb [taphos] and hold funeral games.
plot-summary by Proclus of the Aithiopis by Arctinus of Miletus p. 106 lines 12-16
11§14. The question arises: how can a cult hero be visualized as existing in two places at the same time? In the case of Achilles, for example, we see him immortalized in a paradisiacal setting, the White Island (Leukē), but we also envision him as the occupant of a tomb that contains his corpse. The answer is, such a bifocal view of the immortalized hero is typical of the mentality of hero cults. Here I review the formulation I gave about this mentality in Hour 8:

The cult hero was considered dead – from the standpoint of the place where the hero’s sōma or ‘body’ was situated; at the same time, the hero was considered simultaneously immortalized – from the standpoint of the paradisiacal place that awaited all heroes after death. Such a paradisiacal place, which was considered eschatological, must be contrasted with Hādēs, which was considered transitional. The name and even the visualization of this otherworldly place varied from hero cult to hero {319|320} cult. Some of these names are: Elysium (Ēlusion), the Islands of the Blessed (Nēsoi Makarōn), the White Island (Leukē), and, exceptionally, even Mount Olympus in the case of Hēraklēs. Many of these names were applied also to the actual site or sacred precinct of the hero cult. [14]
11§15. Of all these paradisiacal locations that are reserved for immortalized heroes, I highlight here the Islands of the Blessed, since we know a detail about the inhabitants of this mythical place that helps explain why Achilles is addressed as olbios, ‘blessed’, at the beginning of Text A, Odyssey xxiv 36. In the Hesiodic Works and Days, this same word olbios is used to describe cult heroes who are immortalized after death and who enjoy a state of bliss in the Islands of the Blessed, which is a paradisiacal setting that transcends the temporal and the spatial constraints of mortality: [15]

Hour 11 Text C

|170 And they live with a carefree heart [thūmos] |171 on the Islands of the Blessed [Nēsoi Makarōn] on the banks of the deep-swirling river Okeanos, |172 blessed [olbioi] heroes [hērōes] that they are, and for them there is a honey-sweet harvest [karpos] |173 that comes to fruition three times each year, produced by the life-giving land.
Hesiod Works and Days 170-173 [16]
11§16. As we can see from this text, heroes who are pictured as inhabitants of such paradisiacal settings qualify as olbioi, ‘blessed’ (verse 172). So, Achilles, as the once and future inhabitant of the White Island, which is another such paradisiacal setting, likewise qualifies as olbios, ‘blessed’. That is why, I argue, he is addressed as olbios, ‘blessed’, at the beginning of Text A, in Odyssey xxiv 36.

Different meanings of the word olbios for the initiated and for the uninitiated

11§17. Whereas the word olbios can be understood as ‘blessed’ in the sacral context of hero cults, in non-sacral contexts it can be understood neutrally as ‘for- {320|321} tunate’. We see both meanings of olbios being used in a story of Herodotus (1.29-33) about an encounter of Croesus the king of Lydia with Solon the Athenian lawgiver. Testing Solon, Croesus asks him to name the most olbios person on earth (1.30.2), expecting that Solon will name Croesus himself (1.30.3). To his great disappointment, Croesus is told by Solon that an Athenian named Tellos is the most olbios of all humans (1.30.3-5), and that the second-most olbioi are the brothers Kleobis and Biton of Argos (1.31.1-5). As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Croesus understands the word olbios only in the non-sacral sense of ‘fortunate’, while Solon understands it also in the deeper sacral sense of ‘blessed’, referring to the blissful state of afterlife that is granted by the gods to Tellos of Athens and to the brothers Kleobis and Biton of Argos, since both the Athenian and the two Argive brothers turn out to be cult heroes. [17] I will have more to say in Hour 13 about these cult heroes, but I need to highlight, already now, the mentality of mysticism that we see at work in the bifocal meaning of olbios in this story of Herodotus. As the story implies, only those who are initiated into the mysteries of hero cult can understand the sacral meaning of olbios. [18] This sacral meaning, I argue, centers on the idea of heroic immortalization after death, which was a traditional teaching to be learned by worshippers of cult heroes in the context of initiation into the mysteries of hero cult. The actual procedures involved in such initiation will be explored in Hour 15, and for now I highlight simply the existence of these mysteries. The evidence comes from traditional wording that refers to initiation.
11§18. The idea of a deeper level of understanding, made available only to initiates, is most evident in contexts where the word olbios refers to the bliss of initiation into mysteries of immortalization in general, as we see from the use of this word with reference to the Eleusinian Mysteries: [19]

Hour 11 Text D

Blessed [olbios] is he among earthbound mortals who has seen these things.
Homeric Hymn to Demeter 480 [20]

Here is another example, found in a song of lament (thrēnos) composed by Pindar: [21] {321|322}

Hour 11 Text E

Blessed [olbios] is he who has already seen those things when he goes below the earth.
Pindar Fragment 137 [22]
11§19. Such contexts show that any initiate is olbios in the sense of ‘blessed’ only to the extent of knowing that you cannot achieve true blessedness before you experience death, which brings immortalization after death. To illustrate this point, I quote here from an inscription written on a gold lamella from Thourioi. This inscribed lamella, dated to the fourth century BCE, was found in a tomb, where it had been buried together with a dead man who is addressed with the following words: olbie kai makariste, ‘O blessed one, you who are called blessed’ (IG XIV 641 = Orphicorum Fragmenta 488, line 9). [23] As we can see from the wording in this inscription, only the immortalized dead can truly be addressed as olbioi. [24] And there are many other attestations of such inscriptions, which can be seen as initiatory texts that were meant to guide the dead toward some kind of an immortalized existence. [25]
11§20. By now we can understand more clearly the point of the story of Herodotus about Croesus and Solon: only the initiated can understand the deeper meaning of the word olbios. And, it is important to add, only the initiated can understand the aphorism uttered by Solon, when he says that you should call no man olbios until he is dead. First, Solon lists some examples of good fortune (1.32.5-6) and then, after he finishes these examples, Solon adds:

Hour 11 Text F

If, in addition to all these things [= the examples of good fortune that I have listed], someone reaches the end [teleutân] of one’s life in a good way, then this someone is the person that you [= Croesus] are looking for, that is, the person who deserves to be called olbios; but before someone reaches the end [teleutân], you should hold off from calling him olbios. Rather, just call him fortunate [eutukhēs].
Herodotus 1.32.7 [26] {322|323}

How a Homeric hero can become truly olbios

11§21. By now we have seen that you cannot achieve a state of immortalization until after you are dead: until that time comes, you may be eutukhēs, ‘fortunate’, from one moment to the next, but you cannot be truly olbios. This formula holds not only for figures like Croesus, who had fancied himself to be the most olbios of all humans in his time, but also for the Homeric heroes themselves: even such figures as Achilles and Odysseus cannot be cult heroes until they are dead, and so they cannot be truly olbioi until they reach a blissful state of immortalization after death.
11§22. In testing this formulation, I start with a passage that seems at first to contradict what I just said. When the psūkhē of Agamemnon, speaking from Hādēs, apostrophizes the still living Odysseus, here is what he says:

Hour 11 Text G

|192 O blessed [olbios] son of Laertes, Odysseus of many wiles, |193 it is truly with great merit [aretē] that you got to have your wife. [27] |194 For the thinking [phrenes] of faultless Penelope was sound: |195 she, daughter of Ikarios, kept Odysseus well in mind, |196 that properly-wedded [kouridios] husband of hers. Thus the glory [kleos] will never perish for him, |197 the glory that comes from his merit [aretē], [28] and a song will be created for earthbound humans |198 by the immortals – a song that brings beautiful and pleasurable recompense [29] for sensible Penelope |199 – unlike the daughter of Tyndareos [= Clytemnestra], who masterminded evil deeds, |200 killing her properly-wedded [kouridios] husband, and a hateful subject of song |201 she will be throughout all humankind, and she will give a harsh reputation |202 to women, female [thēluterai] [30] that they are – even for the kind of woman who does noble things. [31]
Odyssey xxiv 192-202 [32] {323|324}
11§23. The word olbios that we see being used here in the first verse is as yet ambivalent: we cannot be sure whether it means ‘fortunate’ or ‘blessed’. While a hero like Odysseus is still alive, it is dangerous for him to be described as olbios in the sense of ‘blessed’. A negative example of what can happen is the case of the hero Priam. Most telling are the words that Achilles addresses to him toward the end of the Iliad: ‘I hear that you, old man, were once upon a time olbios’ (Iliad XXIV 543). [33] When Achilles is saying this to Priam, the old man is experiencing the worst moments of his life. During those moments, he is neither fortunate nor blessed. Only after death could Priam ever become truly olbios. [34] As we will see in the case of Odysseus, however, the Odyssey shows that this Homeric hero is ultimately not only fortunate but also blessed, and so the epithet olbios will in fact ultimately apply to him.
11§24. Most telling here is a related context of the same word olbios, which I have already quoted in Text A: in the first verse there, we read ‘O you olbios son of Peleus, godlike Achilles’ (xxiv 36). [35] There in Text A, as also here in Text G, the speaker is the psūkhē of Agamemnon (xxiv 35), and he is speaking there to the psūkhē of Achilles (xxiv 24). In that case, Achilles is by now already dead, already housed in his tomb, already a cult hero. In such a sacral context, the word olbios can safely be rendered as ‘blessed’ or ‘blissful’. [36]
11§25. There is a supreme irony in the fact that the speaker who is calling Achilles olbios or ‘blessed’ in Text A (xxiv 36) is the psūkhē of Agamemnon. Since the quarrel of that hero with Achilles was so central to the Trojan War at the beginning of the Iliad, it is striking to see what Agamemnon is now saying to Achilles in Text A, which is located at the end of the Odyssey and which is showing a retrospective on the entire Trojan War. By now Agamemnon is accepting the status of Achilles as the ultimate winner in the story of the Trojan War. In fact, Agamemnon is even accepting his own status as the ultimate loser.
11§26. Further, in admitting that he is the loser, Agamemnon becomes a foil not only for Achilles but also for Odysseus. And, like Achilles, Odysseus is another ultimate winner – though this hero wins only in the Odyssey, not in the {324|325} Iliad. As we saw in Text G, Odysseus owes his own successful homecoming to the faithfulness of his wife Penelope, who deserves only praise (xxiv 193-198). And it is in this context of success that Agamemnon addresses Odysseus as olbios, ‘blessed’ (xxiv 192). By contrast, as we saw in Text A, Agamemnon blames his own wife Clytemnestra for sabotaging his own ‘homecoming’ or nostos (xxiv 96).
11§27. We saw in Text A that Agamemnon contrasts his loss of ‘homecoming’ or nostos (xxiv 96) with the poetic ‘glory’ or kleos (xxiv 94) that Achilles will keep forever. But now, in Text G, we see that Agamemnon makes another basic contrast – between himself and Odysseus. What caused Agamemnon to lose his own kleos – and his own nostos – was the fact that his wife was Clytemnestra, who was unfaithful to him and who contrived his murder (xxiv 199-202). By contrast, the faithfulness of Penelope to Odysseus helped that hero secure his own kleos (xxiv 196, in the context of 196-198). To add to the irony, Agamemnon’s words in Text A describe his violent death as lugros, ‘disastrous’ (xxiv 96), and his wife Clytemnestra as oulomenē, ‘disastrous’ (xxiv 97). Both of these epithets, as we saw earlier, are words that evoke the poetry of epic: lugros, ‘disastrous’, is the epithet of both the nostos or ‘song about homecoming’ that Phemios sings in Odyssey i 327 (Hour 9 Text D) and of the nostos that Nestor narrates in Odyssey iii 132 (Hour 9 Text E), while oulomenē, ‘disastrous’, is the epithet of the anger of Achilles in Iliad I 2 (Hour 9§29).

The death of Odysseus

11§28. As we have already seen in Text A, Achilles is called olbios, ‘blessed’, in Odyssey xxiv 36 precisely because his corpse is already housed in a tomb, as described in xxiv 80-84. So, now, the question arises: if Odysseus is rightfully to be called olbios, ‘blessed’, in Odyssey xxiv 192, where is his tomb? And we have to ask another question even before that: how did Odysseus die?
11§29. We can find an answer to both questions by considering the use of the word sēma in both the Iliad and the Odyssey. In Odyssey xxiv 80-84, the tomb that Achilles shares with Patroklos is called a tumbos (xxiv 80), but we can see from references in the Iliad that the word sēma does in fact apply to this tomb. In Iliad XXIV 16, the tomb of Patroklos is explicitly called a sēma, and, at an earlier point in the narrative of the Iliad, this tomb is described as incomplete: it will not be complete until Achilles himself is buried there together with his best friend Patroklos (XXIII 245-248). {325|326}
11§30. As I argued at length in Hour 7, quoting Text A there, the word sēma is used in Iliad XXIII 331 with reference to the same tomb; and, in that same quoted text, we see the same word sēma five verses earlier in Iliad XXIII 326, where it refers to the riddling ‘sign’ given by Nestor to Antilokhos – a sign from the father that will instruct the son about how to make a successful left turn around the tomb, used as the turning point of the chariot race in honor of the dead Patroklos. I now concentrate on the riddling use of this word sēma as the ‘sign’ of a cult hero in that text. I quote again the relevant verse:

Hour 11 Text H (part of Hour 7 Text A)

And I [= Nestor] will tell you [= Antilokhos] a sign [sēma], a very clear one, which will not get lost in your thinking.
Iliad XXIII 326 [37]
11§31. From what we have seen so far in Hours 7 and 8, Nestor’s sēma for Antilokhos is a ‘sign’ of death as marked by the ‘tomb’ of a cult hero who has not yet been identified as Patroklos. But now we will see that this sēma is also a ‘sign’ of life after death, as marked by the same ‘tomb’. [38]
11§32. The words spoken by Nestor to Antilokhos in the verse I just quoted again from Iliad XXIII 326 are matched exactly in the Odyssey, in a riddling context that refers to the death of Odysseus and, as we will see later, to the tomb that will be built for him:

Hour 11 Text I

I [= Teiresias] will tell you [= Odysseus] a sign [sēma], a very clear one, which will not get lost in your thinking.
Odyssey xi 126 [39]
11§33. This verse in Odyssey xi 126 (rephrased later in xxiii 273) comes toward the end of a prophecy spoken by the psūkhē or ‘spirit’ of the seer Teiresias (xi 90, 150; xxiii 251), who appears to Odysseus during that hero’s mystical sojourn in Hādēs. Now I quote here the entire text of that prophecy: {326|327}

Hour 11 Text J (containing Text I)

|90 Then came also the spirit [psūkhē] of Theban Teiresias, |91 with a golden scepter in his hand. He recognized me and said, |92 “Odysseus, you who are descended from the gods, noble son of Laertes, |93 why, wretched man, have you left the light of day |94 and come down to see the dead in this place without any delights? |95 Stand back from the trench and draw back your sharp sword |96 so that I may drink of the blood and tell you unmistakably true things.” |97 So he spoke, and I [= Odysseus] drew back, and sheathed my silver-studded sword, |98 putting it back into the scabbard, and then he [= Teiresias], after he had drunk the black blood, |99 began to address me with his words, faultless seer [mantis] that he was: |100 “It’s your homecoming [nostos] that you seek, a homecoming sweet as honey, O radiant Odysseus. |101 But the god will make this painful for you. I say that because I do not think |102 that the earth-shaking god [= Poseidon] will not take notice, who has lodged in his heart [thūmos] an anger [kotos] against you, |103 being angry that you blinded his dear son [= Polyphemus]. |104 Still, even so, after enduring many bad experiences, you all may get home |105 if you are willing to restrain your own heart [thūmos] and the heart of your comrades [hetairoi] |106 when you pilot your well-built ship to |107 the island of Thrinacia, seeking refuge from the violet-colored sea, |108 and when you find the grazing cattle and the sturdy sheep |109 that belong to the god of the sun, Hēlios, who sees everything and hears everything. |110 If you leave these herds unharmed and think only about homecoming [nostos], |111 then you could still make it to Ithaca, arriving there after having endured many bad experiences. |112 But if you harm the herds, then I forewarn you of destruction |113 both for your ship and for your comrades [hetairoi], and, even if you may yourself escape, |114 you will return [neesthai] in a bad way, losing all your comrades [hetairoi], |115 in someone else’s ship, not your own, and you will find painful things happening in your house, |116 I mean, you will find high-handed men there who are devouring your livelihood |117 while they are courting your godlike wife and offering wedding-presents to her. |118 But you will avenge the outrages committed by those men when you get home. |119 But after you kill the suitors in your own house, |120 {327|328} killing them either by trickery or openly, by way of sharp bronze, |121 you must go on a journey then, taking with you a well-made oar, |122 until you come to a place where men do not know what the sea is |123 and do not even eat any food that is mixed with sea salt, |124 nor do they know anything about ships, which are painted purple on each side, |125 and well-made oars that are like wings for ships. |126 And I will tell you a sign [sēma], a very clear one, which will not get lost in your thinking. |127 Whenever someone on the road encounters you |128 and says that it must be a winnowing shovel that you have on your radiant shoulder, |129 at that point you must stick into the ground the well-made oar |130 and sacrifice beautiful sacrifices to lord Poseidon: |131 a ram, a bull, and a boar that mounts sows. |132 And then go home and offer sacred hecatombs |133 to the immortal gods who possess the vast expanses of the skies. |134 Sacrifice to them in proper order, one after the other. As for yourself, death shall come to you from the sea, |135 a gentle death, that is how it will come, and this death will kill you |136 as you lose your strength in a prosperous old age. And the people all around [your corpse] |137 will be blessed [olbioi]. All the things I say are unmistakably true.”
Odyssey xi 90-137 [40] {328|329}
11§34. The mysticism of this passage is highlighted by a fact that we can see only when we read the original Greek wording of Text J here: the very first word uttered by the psūkhē (xi 90) of Teiresias as a mantis or ‘seer’ (xi 99) after he has drunk the blood of freshly-sacrificed sheep (xi 98) is the word nostos (xi 100). Here is the Greek wording: noston dizēai meliēdea …, which I translated as ‘It’s your homecoming [nostos] that you seek, a homecoming sweet as honey ….’. [41] The use of this word here is connected with the fact that, earlier in the narrative, the seer Teiresias is described as exceptionally possessing consciousness even in Hādēs, where other psūkhai are merely skiai, ‘shadows’, that flit about without any consciousness, and the word used here for the idea of consciousness is noos:

Hour 11 Text K

|490 But first you [= Odysseus] must bring to fulfillment [teleîn] another journey and travel until you enter |491 the palace of Hādēs and of the dreaded Persephone, |492 and there you all will consult [khrē-] the spirit [psūkhē] of Teiresias of Thebes, |493 the blind seer [mantis], whose thinking [phrenes] is grounded [empedoi]: |494 to him, even though he was dead, Persephone gave consciousness [noos], |495 so as to be the only one there who has the power to think [pepnusthai]. But the others [in Hādēs] just flit about, like shadows [skiai].
Odyssey x 490-495 [42]
11§35. The speaker here is the goddess Circe, and the words of her own prophecy here in Odyssey x about the later prophecy made by the ‘spirit’ or psūkhē of the seer Teiresias in Odyssey xi can be viewed as a re-enactment of the etymological link, which I explored already in Hour 10, between noos as a mystical form of ‘consciousness’ and nostos as a mystical form of ‘homecoming’ or ‘coming to’ from a state of darkness and death to a state of light and life. And it is relevant that the noos or ‘consciousness’ of the ‘spirit’ or psūkhē of the seer Teiresias becomes activated, as it were, only after he drinks the blood of a sacrificial animal that Odysseus has slaughtered in order to make mental contact with the cult hero (xi 96, 98). That animal, as we learn from the explicit instruc- {329|330} tions of Circe, is a black ram intended only for Teiresias (x 524-525). And, as we have seen already in the Introduction to Homeric poetry (0§11), a black ram is the preferred sacrificial animal to slaughter for the purpose of making mental contact with a male cult hero.
11§36. In an essay entitled “Sēma and Noēsis: The Hero’s Tomb and the ‘Reading’ of Symbols in Homer and Hesiod,” I analyzed at some length the mystical prophecy spoken by the psūkhē of the seer Teiresias as I have just quoted it in Text J. [43] As I argued in that essay, the verses of the prophecy point to the future death of Odysseus and to the mystical vision of his own tomb, where he will be worshipped as a cult hero. [44]
11§37. Most revealing is the description of what will happen to people who live in the proximity of the corpse of Odysseus as a cult hero: ‘And the people all around [your corpse] |137 will be blessed [olbioi]’ [45] (xi 136-137; retold at xxiii 283-284). Here I return to an analogous set of verses, already quoted in Text A, which describe the corpse of Achilles: ‘And others, those all around you [= your corpse], |38 were being slaughtered, sons of both Trojans and Achaeans, the best, |39 as they were fighting over you [= your corpse]’ [46] (xxiv 37-39). [47]
11§38. Having noted this analogy, which touches on the idea of possessing the corpse of the cult hero (I analyzed this idea earlier in this hour, in §9), I can now turn to the meaning of the word olbioi describing those who find themselves in the proximity of Odysseus as cult hero (xi 137, xxiii 284). In the Hesiodic Works and Days (172), already quoted in Text C, this same word olbioi describes cult heroes who are immortalized after death and who enjoy a state of bliss in a paradisiacal setting that transcends the temporal and the spatial constraints of mortality. [48]
11§39. In such a sacral context, as we have already noted, the word olbioi means ‘blessed’ or ‘blissful’, and I argue that this same meaning applies also to ordinary humans who come into mental and even physical proximity to cult heroes by way of worshipping them. We will see in Hours 13 and 14 some historical examples of hero cults that express the idea of such mental and physical contact. In the sacral context of such contact, as we will also see, the worship- {330|331} pers can be at least momentarily blessed. By contrast, the immortalized cult heroes whom they worship are permanently blessed. The distribution of blessings may be inequitable, but at least the worshippers experience a momentary transfer of bliss from the cult heroes. And there is another side to the picture: whereas the word olbioi can be rendered as ‘blessed’ or ‘blissful’ in such sacral contexts, in non-sacral contexts it can be rendered neutrally as ‘fortunate’. A perfect example is the saying of Solon in the narrative of Herodotus, as quoted already in Text F.
11§40. As I bring this part of my argumentation to a close, I need to emphasize again what I had emphasized already in the Introduction to Homeric poetry (0§13): references to hero cults tend to be implicit, not explicit, in this poetry. And that is because the religious practice of hero cults is fundamentally a local phenomenon (0§14, 8§39), while the Homeric tradition is non-local or Panhellenic, as I emphasized already in the Introduction to the whole book (00§§10-14). We need to keep in mind the non-local orientation of Homeric poetry as we consider the reference in Odyssey xi 136-137, as quoted in Text J, to people who are olbioi, ‘blessed’, in the context of the death of Odysseus. Homeric poetry says only implicitly, not explicitly, that these people are made ‘blessed’ because they worship Odysseus as a cult hero whose corpse is buried in the earth that they cultivate, and that this ‘blessing’ is realized by way of physical contact with the earth containing the corpse of the hero. This poetry refers only implicitly to existing practices of hero cult, without explicitly revealing the mysteries of the hero cult. As I promised earlier, we will explore some details about these practices when we reach Hour 15.

A mystical vision of the tomb of Odysseus

11§41. I turn to an example of the mysteries of hero cult as implied in Homeric poetry. I have in mind the passage from the Odyssey that I have quoted in Text J, xi 90-137, where the psūkhē of Teiresias, during his moments of consciousness after drinking the sacrificial ram’s blood that is poured for him by Odysseus (xi 95-96, 98), foretells the story of Odysseus beyond the Odyssey as we know it. In this meta-narrative, we see that Odysseus confronts his death in a mystical moment where he experiences a coincidence of opposites. And what is this mystical moment? It is a point where the sea and the negation of the sea coincide. That is, Odysseus goes as far away as possible from the sea, only to experience death from {331|332} the sea: ‘death shall come to you from the sea, |135 a gentle death’ [49] (xi 134-135). And it is at this same point where the oar that he carries on his shoulder, which is an instrument linked exclusively with the sea, is mistaken for a winnowing shovel, which is an instrument linked exclusively with the earth, that is, with the cultivation of the land: ‘Whenever someone on the road encounters you |128 and says that it must be a winnowing shovel that you have on your radiant shoulder’ [50] (xi 127-128). And here is another coincidence of opposites: Odysseus at this point must sacrifice to Poseidon, god of the sea (xi 130-131) – even though this point is as far away from the sea as possible. And now we come to a mystical vision: in sacrificing to Poseidon, Odysseus must mark the place of sacrifice by sticking into the ground the oar that he was carrying on his shoulder: ‘at that point you must stick into the ground the well-made oar’ [51] (xi 129). As I will now argue, what we are seeing here is a mystical vision of the tomb of Odysseus himself.
11§42. The key to my argument is what the psūkhē of Teiresias says in introducing his prophecy: ‘And I [= Teiresias] will tell you [= Odysseus] a sign [sēma], a very clear one, which will not get lost in your thinking’ (xi 126). [52] As I noted earlier, the wording here matches exactly the wording of Nestor addressed to Antilokhos in the Iliad: ‘And I [= Nestor] will tell you [= Antilokhos] a sign [sēma], a very clear one, which will not get lost in your thinking’ [53] (XXIII 326). And, to repeat what we have seen in Hours 7 and 8, the sēma of Nestor for Antilokhos is a ‘sign’ as marked by the ‘tomb’ of a cult hero who has not yet been identified as Patroklos. In the Odyssey as well, I argue, the sēma of Teiresias for Odysseus is a ‘sign’ as marked by the ‘tomb’ of a cult hero who has not yet been identified as Odysseus himself.
11§43. There is archaeological evidence for the existence of a hero cult of Odysseus on the island of Ithaca, dating back to an early period when the Odyssey as we know it was still taking shape. [54] And, in the version of the story as we see it in the Odyssey, Odysseus dies finally in Ithaca, which figures here as his homeland (xi 132-137). In terms of this version of the story, then, it must be the inhabitants of Ithaca who will be olbioi, ‘blessed’, as a result of the hero’s death {332|333} (xi 136-137; retold at xxiii 283-284). And so we may infer that Ithaca is recognized in the Odyssey as a prime location for the hero cult of Odysseus.
11§44. This is not to say, however, that Ithaca was the only place where Odysseus was worshipped as a cult hero. From the testimony of Pausanias, for example, we see traces of a hero cult of Odysseus in landlocked Arcadia, which is located in the Peloponnesus and which is as far away from the sea as you can possibly be in the Peloponnesus:

Hour 11 Text L

There is a path leading uphill from Asea [in Arcadia] to the mountain called the North Mountain [Boreion], and on top of that mountain there are traces of a sacred space; it is said that Odysseus had made this sacred space in honor of Athena the Savior [sōteira] and in honor of Poseidon, in return for his having arrived back home safely from Ilion [= Troy].
Pausanias 8.44.4 [55]
11§45. Here we see once again the same coincidence of opposites that we saw in Text J, Odyssey xi 127-131, where Odysseus must make a sacrifice to Poseidon, god of the sea, at a place that is as far away from the sea as possible. Both Text J and Text L, where we have just read the report of Pausanias (8.44.4) about a sacred space in Arcadia that Odysseus established in honor of Poseidon, point to the existence of hero cults for Odysseus. What both texts have in common is the idea that Odysseus will put an end to the antagonism that exists between him and Poseidon by performing a sacred act in a place that is made sacred by the act itself. And this idea of a sacred space that is somehow shared by a god and a hero whose relationship is mutually antagonistic, as in the case of Poseidon and Odysseus, is typical of hero cults where the body of the hero is venerated within a space that is sacred to the god who is antagonistic to that hero. In the context of hero cults, god-hero antagonism in myth – including the myths mediated by epic – corresponds to god-hero symbiosis in ritual. [56] A classic example is the location of the body of the hero Pyrrhos, son of Achilles, in the sacred precinct of Apollo at Delphi (Pindar Nemean 7.44-47; Pausanias 10.24.6); in the myth about {333|334} the death of this hero Pyrrhos, it is the god Apollo who causes this death (as we see in Pindar’s Nemean 7 and Paean 6). [57] Similarly, I argue that the god Poseidon ultimately causes the death of the hero Odysseus: death from the sea, in whatever form death may come, would be initiated primarily by Poseidon himself as god of the sea. And I will also argue that the most logical place for Odysseus to have a tomb and a hero cult is precisely at the spot where his oar was mistaken for a winnowing shovel, and that spot would be Arcadia from the standpoint of Arcadian myth.
11§46. In terms of an Arcadian version of the Odysseus myth, as tied to the ritual site of the sacred space described by Pausanias (8.44.4) in Text L, the elemental shape of the hero’s tomb could be visualized as an oar stuck into the ground. Such a visualization corresponds to the ritual act of Odysseus in response to the coincidence of opposites that he experienced when his oar was mistaken for a winnowing shovel: as we saw in Text J, he had to make sacrifice to Poseidon at the very point where the coincidence of opposites took place (xi 130-131), and he had to mark the place of sacrifice by sticking into the ground the oar that he was carrying on his shoulder (xi 129). And such an elemental shape – an oar stuck into the ground – is actually pictured as the tomb of a seafarer in the description of the funeral of Elpenor in the Odyssey (xii 208-215). Elpenor was the comrade of Odysseus who died of an accidental fall from a roof during the sojourn of Odysseus and his men on the island of Circe, and the funeral of Elpenor is described in detail: Odysseus and his men make for him a tomb by heaping a tumulus of earth over the seafarer’s corpse and then, instead of erecting a stēlē or vertical ‘column’ on top, they stick his oar into the heap of earth:

Hour 11 Text M

|14 We heaped up a tomb [tumbos] for him, and then, erecting as a column on top, |15 we stuck his well-made oar into the very top of the tomb [tumbos].
Odyssey xii 14-15 [58]
11§47. The ritual procedure for making the tomb of Elpenor follows the instructions given to Odysseus during his sojourn in Hādēs (xi 51-80); these in- {334|335} structions were given by Elpenor himself or, more accurately, by his psūkhē (xi 51), and the wording makes it explicit that the tomb to be made is a sēma:

Hour 11 Text N

|75 Heap up a tomb [sēma] for me [= Elpenor] at the shore of the gray sea, |76 wretched man that I am, so that even those who live in the future will learn about it. |77 Make this ritual act [teleîn] for me, and stick the oar on top of the tomb [tumbos] |78 – the oar that I used when I was rowing with my comrades [hetairoi].
Odyssey xi 75-78 [59]
11§48. In the light of this description, we can see that the ritual act of Odysseus when he sticks his own well-made oar into the ground (xi 129) and sacrifices to Poseidon (xi 130-131) points to the making of his own sēma or ‘tomb’, corresponding to the sēma or ‘sign’ given to him by Teiresias (xi 126).

Two meanings of a sēma

11§49. There are two meanings to be found in this ritual act of Odysseus, since he sticks his oar into the ground at the precise moment when the oar is no longer recognized as an oar (xi 129). In this coincidence of opposites, as I have been calling it since §40 in this hour, the oar is now a winnowing shovel (xi 128) – an agricultural implement that is used for separating the grain from the chaff after the harvesting of wheat. You toss the harvested wheat up in the air, and even the slightest breeze will blow the chaff further to the side while the grain falls more or less straight down into a heap in front of you. The winnowing shovel looks exactly like an oar, but it is not an oar for agriculturists. Conversely, the oar looks exactly like the winnowing shovel, but it is not a winnowing shovel for seafarers. For Odysseus, however, this implement could be both an oar and a winnowing shovel, since he could see that the same sēma or ‘sign’ has two distinct meanings in two distinct places: what is an oar for the seafarers is a winnowing shovel for the inlanders. And, in order to recognize that one sēma or ‘sign’ could have two meanings, Odysseus must travel, as we see from the key wording he learned from the instructions of Teiresias. Odysseus himself {335|336} uses this key wording when he retells to Penelope a retrospective story of his travels:

Hour 11 Text O

|266 Your [= Penelope’s] heart [thūmos] will not be pleased, nor am I [= Odysseus] |267 pleased [by the telling of these adventures], since he [= Teiresias] instructed me to go to very many cities of mortals |268 while holding my well-made oar in my hands …
Odyssey xxiii 266-268 [60]

As we have seen in Text A of Hour 10 (and in Text A of Hour 9), these travels of Odysseus throughout ‘the many cities of mortals’ were the key to his achieving his special kind of heroic consciousness, or noos:

Hour 11 Text P

|3 Many different cities of many different people did he see, getting to know different ways of thinking [noos].
Odyssey i 3 [61]
11§50. Just as the implement carried by Odysseus is one sign with two meanings, so also the picture of this implement that we see stuck into the ground is one sign with two meanings. We have already noted the first of these meanings, namely, that the sēma or ‘sign’ given by Teiresias to Odysseus in Odyssey xi 126, Text I, is in fact the tomb of Odysseus, imagined as a heap of earth with an oar stuck into it on top, just as the tomb of the seafarer Elpenor is a heap of earth with his own oar stuck into it on top, as we saw in Text M and Text N (xii 14-15 and xi 75-78 respectively); in fact, as we saw in Text N, this heap of earth is actually called the sēma of Elpenor (xi 75), and the word here clearly means ‘tomb’. Accordingly, I paraphrase the first of the two meanings as a headline, “the seafarer is dead.” As for the second of the two meanings, I propose to paraphrase it as another headline, “the harvest is complete.” Here is why: the act of sticking the shaft of a winnowing shovel, with the blade pointing upward, into a heap of harvested wheat after having winnowed away the chaff from the grain is a ritual gesture indicating that the winnower’s work is complete (as we see from the {336|337} wording of Theocritus 7.155-156). [62] And the act of sticking the shaft of an oar into the ground, again with the blade facing upward, is a ritual gesture indicating that the oarsman’s work is likewise complete – as in the case of Odysseus’ dead comrade Elpenor, whose tomb is to be a heap of earth with the shaft of his oar stuck into the top (xi 75-78 and xii 14-15, Text N and Text M respectively). So also with Odysseus: he too will never again have to sail the seas. [63]

An antagonism between Athena and Odysseus

11§51. The two meanings of the sēma, ‘sign’ (xi 126), communicated by Teiresias to Odysseus can be linked with the concepts of nostos, ‘homecoming’, and noos, ‘way of thinking’, as I have reconstructed them so far. The meaning that I paraphrased as “the seafarer is dead” can be linked with the god-hero antagonism of Poseidon and Odysseus, as also with the nostos or ‘homecoming’ of the hero; as for the meaning that I paraphrased as “the harvest is complete,” it can be linked with a more complex god-hero antagonism between Athena and Odysseus, as also with both the nostos or ‘homecoming’ of the hero and his noos or ‘way of thinking’. We already saw a hint of Athena’s involvement in Text L, where Pausanias (8.44.4) says that it was not only Poseidon but also Athena sōteira, the ‘Savior’, who presided over the sacred space established by Odysseus in Arcadia. So, not only Poseidon but also Athena participates in a symbiotic relationship with Odysseus as a cult hero. In making this statement, I rely on the formulation I presented a few minutes ago, at §44, where I noted that god-hero antagonism in myth – including the myths mediated by epic – corresponds to god-hero symbiosis in ritual.
11§52. Before we consider the negative aspects of the god-hero antagonism of Athena and Odysseus in myth, let us consider the positive aspects of god-hero symbiosis in the ritual context of the sacred space that was founded by Odysseus in honor of Athena as well as Poseidon according to Arcadian myth. In terms of this myth, it was here that Odysseus experienced the coincidence of opposites that signaled his hero cult. So, in terms of the meanings that I have reconstructed for nostos, ‘homecoming’, and noos, ‘way of thinking’, it would be in this Arcadian sacred space that Athena, as the sōteira or ‘Savior’, could make it possible for Odysseus to make a mental connection between his nostos or {337|338} ‘homecoming’ and his future hero cult, and this mental connection would be made possible by the hero’s noos or ‘way of thinking’. There is comparative evidence for such a reconstruction: in some local traditions, Athena is venerated as a goddess who rescues seafarers from mortal dangers at sea by giving their pilot a sense of direction, so that his ways of thinking may focus on a safe homecoming; in this role, Athena has the epithet aithuia, which is the name of a diving bird (Pausanias 1.5.4, 1.41.6; Hesychius s.v. ἐν δ’ Αἴθυια). [64]
11§53. There is an indirect reference to this role of Athena in Odyssey v, where Ino the White Goddess saves Odysseus from drowning. While saving the hero, the goddess actually assumes the form of the diving bird called aithuia (v 337, 353). And the actions of Ino in saving Odysseus from the mortal dangers of the sea are parallel to the actions of the goddess Athena herself:

In the Odyssey, Ino as aithuia has a parallel in ensuring the salvation of Odysseus from the sea: Athena herself redirects the storm sent against the hero by Poseidon (v 382–387), and then she saves him from immediate drowning by giving him a timely idea for swimming to safety (v 435–439). … The submergence and emergence of the hero from the wave that would surely have drowned him had it not been for Athena (v 435, 438) corresponds closely to the preceding emergence and submergence of Ino herself (v 337, 352–353). Such a correspondence suggests that the former ‘mortal’ [Ino] who is now a ‘goddess’ (v 334, 335) is indeed a model for a transition from death to life anew – a transition that may be conveyed by the convergence of themes in the words noos and nostos. [65]
11§54. The god-hero antagonism between Athena and Odysseus, as I just said a minute ago, is a complex relationship. Unlike the primal god-hero antagonism between Poseidon as god of the sea and Odysseus as the seafaring hero, the negative side of the relationship between Athena and Odysseus is only implied in the Homeric Odyssey. By contrast, the positive side is made explicit, as we have seen from the story in Odyssey v that tells how Athena together with Ino the White Goddess saved Odysseus from drowning. And the help of Athena becomes even more pronounced toward the end of the epic, starting with Odyssey {338|339} xiii 299-310, where the goddess formally declares to Odysseus her support for the hero, which leads ultimately to his success in his final confrontation with the suitors. As I indicated already at the beginning of this book, however, such a positive aspect in a relationship between a divinity and a hero is actually part of the overall scheme of god-hero antagonism. I quote the wording of my formulation in Hour 1§50:

The hero is antagonistic toward the god who seems to be most like the hero; antagonism does not rule out an element of attraction – often a “fatal attraction” – which is played out in a variety of ways.

We have already seen in Hour 5 a set of texts in the Iliad illustrating the “fatal attraction” between the god Apollo and the hero Patroklos as a surrogate of Achilles himself. In the case of the relationship between Athena and Odysseus, the attraction is far less obvious, but we have already seen hints of it in Hour 9§16, where I referred to the moment when Athena herself declares to Odysseus that her kleos, ‘glory’, is due to her own mētis, ‘intelligence’ (Odyssey xiii 299). [66] I also mentioned in Hour 9§16 a primary epithet of Odysseus, polumētis, ‘intelligent in many ways’ (Iliad I 311, etc.; Odyssey ii 173, and so on), which indicates that the goddess Athena must have a special relationship with this hero; in fact, this same epithet applies to Athena herself (Homeric Hymn to Athena 2). We also saw in that same context, in Hour 9§16, that Athena is deeply involved in the nostos or ‘homecoming’ of Odysseus.

11§55. But here is where the negative side of the relationship between Athena and Odysseus becomes more explicit. As we learned from the narrative of Nestor in Odyssey iii 130-135 as quoted in Hour 9 Text E, the nostos or ‘homecoming’ of the Achaeans was lugros, ‘disastrous’ (iii 132), because the returning Achaeans had a major lapse in noos, that is, in ‘being mindful’ (iii 133), and this lapse provoked the mēnis, ‘anger’, of the goddess Athena herself (iii 135). Some of the Achaeans, the narrative continues, were dikaioi, ‘just’ (iii 133), but ‘not all of them’ (iii 134). Unfortunately for Odysseus, he was one of those Achaeans who had a major lapse in being ‘just’ and ‘mindful’. But that lapse is only implied in the Odyssey as we have it. The atrocities committed by Odysseus against the enemy during the capture of Troy are shaded over in the Odyssey, as we have already seen, but another atrocity that he committed is not even {339|340} mentioned in that epic: Odysseus desecrated the temple of Athena at Troy by taking away the statue of the goddess. That impious act of taking the statue, known as the Palladium, is mentioned not at all in the Odyssey but only in the epic Cycle:

Hour 11 Text Q

And after this [= after Odysseus infiltrates Troy in a previous adventure] he [= Odysseus] along with | Diomedes takes out [ek-komizein] the Palladium from Ilion.
plot-summary by Proclus of the Little Iliad by Lesches of Lesbos p. 107 lines 7-8 [67]
11§56. Having explored the negative side of the relationship between Athena and Odysseus, I now return to the positive side. Despite the antagonism that Athena would have felt toward Odysseus because of his serious lapses in noos, in his ‘way of thinking’ – lapses that resulted in serious threats to the completion of his ongoing nostos, ‘homecoming’, in the Odyssey – this antagonism is in the end resolved in the symbiosis that is achieved in the hero cult of Odysseus, which is a context where Odysseus can finally coexist with both his overt divine antagonist Poseidon and with his latent divine antagonist Athena.

Conclusion: the seafarer is dead and the harvest is complete

11§57. As I have argued, the picturing of Odysseus’ own oar stuck into the ground is a stylized image of his own tomb. And, at least from the viewpoint of the Arcadian version of the Odysseus story, such a tomb would be situated as far away from the sea as possible, whereas the hero’s death is to come ex halós, ‘out of the sea’, as we can see in Odyssey xi 134, quoted in Text J. There is no need to argue on this basis that the phrase ex halós somehow means ‘away from the sea’. [68] Rather, the double meaning of the sēma or ‘sign’ for Odysseus in Odyssey xi 126, as also quoted in Text J, is formalized in the coincidence of opposites that shapes the whole myth: Odysseus finds the sign for his death from the sea precisely when he is farthest away from the sea. Such a place, where Odysseus is farthest away from the sea and where he sticks his oar into the ground, would {340|341} be of course an agricultural place, not a maritime place. So, from the standpoint of an Arcadian version of the Odysseus myth, the place for the hero cult of Odysseus is oriented toward agriculture, not seafaring. Such an orientation is fundamental for hero cult, when we think of the corpse of the cult hero who is buried in the local earth and who is worshipped there. I recall here the formulation that I gave earlier on, in §9 during this hour: the corpse of the cult hero was viewed as a talisman of fertility and prosperity for the community that gained possession of the hero’s body. [69] In this light, the two headlines that I formulated as the two meanings of the sēma, ‘sign’, of Teiresias for Odysseus in Odyssey xi 126, as quoted in Text J, can be fused into a single headline: “the seafarer is dead and the harvest is complete.” Nature and culture are fused in this setting of agriculture.
11§58. In other words, the harvest can now become complete because the seafarer has completed his life and died, so that he has now become a cult hero whose corpse gives fertility and prosperity to the people who cultivate the earth that contains that corpse. That is why the prophecy of Teiresias in Text J concludes with these words: ‘And the people all around [your corpse] |137 will be blessed [olbioi]’ [70] (Odyssey xi 136-137; retold at xxiii 283-284). As I have argued from the start of this hour, the cult hero is olbios, ‘blessed’, after he or she dies, and the worshipper of a cult hero can become olbios, ‘blessed’, by making mental and even physical contact with the hero.
11§59. So, I come back to the invocation of Odysseus as olbios at the end of the Odyssey, at xxiv 192 as quoted in Text G. By now we have seen that Odysseus becomes eligible for this invocation only after he dies and becomes a cult hero. And we have also seen that the application of this word olbios to a cult hero indicates that the hero is immortalized after death.
11§60. But where do we learn of any kind of immortalization in store for Odysseus? The answer is, everywhere in the Odyssey – but only in the metaphorical world of nostos in the sense of ‘return to light and life’. A most striking example is a coincidence of opposites that we observed in Hour 10 (§§29-31): when Odysseus enters Hādēs traveling from the island of Circe, he is in the Far West, but when he emerges from Hādēs and travels back to the island of Circe, he is in the Far East. That is why Circe, after Odysseus and his men arrive back {341|342} on her island, addresses the whole group as dis-thanees, that is, ‘those who experience death twice’:

Hour 11 Text R

|21 Wretched men! You went down to the House of Hādēs while you were still alive. |22 You are dis-thanees [= you experience death twice], whereas other mortals die only once.
Odyssey xii 21-22 [71]
11§61. So, Odysseus dies metaphorically when he goes to Hādēs in Odyssey xi and then returns to light and life in Odyssey xii. But he will die for real in a future that is beyond the limits of the story told in the Odyssey as we have it: just as the seer Teiresias had predicted it when he gave to Odysseus a sēma or ‘sign’ in Odyssey xi 126 as quoted in Text J, Odysseus will die after he experiences another coincidence of opposites – while carrying the oar that becomes a winnowing shovel.
11§62. The tradition about this coincidence of opposites as experienced by Odysseus when his oar becomes a winnowing shovel has survived in Modern Greek stories about the Prophet Elias, who figures as a christianized version of the Prophet Elijah of the Hebrew Bible. It is a historical fact that the shrines of Prophet Elias are conventionally situated on tops of hills and mountains in accordance with Greek Orthodox Christian traditions. In Modern Greek folklore, there are stories that account for this convention of situating the shrines of Elias on summits – and thus far away from the sea. According to folktales about Elias, as analyzed by William Hansen, Elias had lived the life of a seafarer, but he eventually tired of seafaring and proceeded to travel inland and upland as far as he could, carrying an oar on his shoulder. [72] Shrines sacred to the Prophet are built on tops of hills and mountains because, the story goes, it was on top of a mountain that his oar was finally not recognized – and mistaken for ‘a stick’ or the like. Here are two variants of the story, as paraphrased by Hansen: [73]

Variant 1[a]: Saint Elias was a seaman who lived a dissolute life, but he repented of what he had done and thereby detested the sea. (Vari- {342|343} ant 1[b]: because he had suffered much at sea and had often nearly drowned, he became disgusted with voyaging.) He resolved to go to a place where people know neither what the sea was nor what ships were. Putting his oar on his shoulder he set out on land, asking everyone he met what he was carrying. So long as they answered that it was an oar, he proceeded to higher and higher ground. Finally, at the top of a mountain he asked his question, and the people answered, ‘a stick’. Understanding then that they had never seen an oar, he remained there with them.
Variant 2: The Prophet Elias was a fisherman who, because of terrible weather and terrific storms, became afraid of the sea. So he put an oar on his shoulder and took to the hills. When he met a man, he asked him what it was he was carrying; the man answered that it was an oar, and Elias went on. The same happened when he met a second man. But at the top of a mountain, he asked a third man, who replied, ‘why, that’s a stick’. Saint Elias resolved to stay there. He planted his oar in the ground, and that is why his chapels are all built on hilltops.
11§63. In yet another version of the Modern Greek story of the sailor who went inland, his oar is actually mistaken for a phtyari tou phournou, which refers to a baker’s peel but which literally means a ‘winnowing shovel of the oven’. [74] As Hansen has shown, winnowing shovels and baker’s peels can in fact be virtually isomorphic. [75] So, the Modern Greek stories about the sailor who went inland show clear indications of an agricultural context for an aetiological myth that accounts for an institutional reality, which is, that the shrines of the Prophet Elias are traditionally built on the tops of hills and mountains. And there is a related institutional reality here: the feast day of the Prophet Elias is traditionally celebrated by Greek Orthodox Christians on July 20, which coincides with the season for harvesting and winnowing wheat. [76]
11§64. I conclude, then, by observing that the agricultural context of the aetiological myth about the Prophet Elias corresponds to the agricultural context of the myth encoded in the sēma or ‘sign’ given by Teiresias to Odysseus in Odyssey xi 126, as also quoted in Text J. Odysseus must stick his oar into the ground in a place where people can think only of agriculture, mistaking his oar for {343|344} a winnowing shovel. It is in an agricultural world that the cult of the hero must be situated, not in the world of seafarers. And it is in this agricultural world that the hero can become olbios or ‘blessed’, so that the people who cultivate the earth containing his corpse will become olbioi or ‘blessed’ as well – if they worship the hero by maintaining mental and even physical contact with him. {344|345}


[ back ] 1. In Nagy 2012b, I survey the most striking examples of Homeric references to (1) hero cults and (2) the idea of immortalization in the contexts of these cults.
[ back ] 2. |36 ὄλβιε Πηλέος υἱέ, θεοῖσ’ ἐπιείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ, |37 ὃς θάνες ἐν Τροίῃ ἑκὰς Ἄργεος· ἀμφὶ δέ σ’ ἄλλοι |38 κτείνοντο Τρώων καὶ Ἀχαιῶν υἷες ἄριστοι, |39 μαρνάμενοι περὶ σεῖο· σὺ δ’ ἐν στροφάλιγγι κονίης |40 κεῖσο μέγας μεγαλωστί, λελασμένος ἱπποσυνάων. … |43 αὐτὰρ ἐπεί σ’ ἐπὶ νῆας ἐνείκαμεν ἐκ πολέμοιο, |44 κάτθεμεν ἐν λεχέεσσι, καθήραντες χρόα καλὸν |45 ὕδατί τε λιαρῷ καὶ ἀλείφατι· πολλὰ δέ σ’ ἀμφὶ |46 δάκρυα θερμὰ χέον Δαναοὶ κείροντό τε χαίτας. |47 μήτηρ δ’ ἐξ ἁλὸς ἦλθε σὺν ἀθανάτῃσ’ ἁλίῃσιν |48 ἀγγελίης ἀΐουσα· βοὴ δ’ ἐπὶ πόντον ὀρώρει |49 θεσπεσίη, ὑπὸ δὲ τρόμος ἤλυθε πάντας Ἀχαιούς. … |58 ἀμφὶ δέ σ’ ἔστησαν κοῦραι ἁλίοιο γέροντος |59 οἴκτρ’ ὀλοφυρόμεναι, περὶ δ’ ἄμβροτα εἵματα ἕσσαν. |60 Μοῦσαι δ’ ἐννέα πᾶσαι ἀμειβόμεναι ὀπὶ καλῇ |61 θρήνεον· ἔνθα κεν οὔ τιν’ ἀδάκρυτόν γ’ ἐνόησας |62 Ἀργείων· τοῖον γὰρ ὑπώρορε Μοῦσα λίγεια. |63 ἑπτὰ δὲ καὶ δέκα μέν σε ὁμῶς νύκτας τε καὶ ἦμαρ |64 κλαίομεν ἀθάνατοί τε θεοὶ θνητοί τ’ ἄνθρωποι· |65 ὀκτωκαιδεκάτῃ δ’ ἔδομεν πυρί· πολλὰ δ’ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ |66 μῆλα κατεκτάνομεν μάλα πίονα καὶ ἕλικας βοῦς. |67 καίεο δ’ ἔν τ’ ἐσθῆτι θεῶν καὶ ἀλείφατι πολλῷ |68 καὶ μέλιτι γλυκερῷ· πολλοὶ δ’ ἥρωες Ἀχαιοὶ |69 τεύχεσιν ἐρρώσαντο πυρὴν πέρι καιομένοιο, |70 πεζοί θ’ ἱππῆές τε· πολὺς δ’ ὀρυμαγδὸς ὀρώρει. |71 αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δή σε φλὸξ ἤνυσεν Ἡφαίστοιο, |72 ἠῶθεν δή τοι λέγομεν λεύκ’ ὀστέ’, Ἀχιλλεῦ, |73 οἴνῳ ἐν ἀκρήτῳ καὶ ἀλείφατι. δῶκε δὲ μήτηρ |74 χρύσεον ἀμφιφορῆα· Διωνύσοιο δὲ δῶρον |75 φάσκ’ ἔμεναι, ἔργον δὲ περικλυτοῦ Ἡφαίστοιο. |76 ἐν τῷ τοι κεῖται λεύκ’ ὀστέα, φαίδιμ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ, |77 μίγδα δὲ Πατρόκλοιο Μενοιτιάδαο θανόντος, |78 χωρὶς δ’ Ἀντιλόχοιο, τὸν ἔξοχα τῖες ἁπάντων |79 τῶν ἄλλων ἑτάρων μετὰ Πάτροκλόν γε θανόντα. |80 ἀμφ’ αὐτοῖσι δ’ ἔπειτα μέγαν καὶ ἀμύμονα τύμβον |81 χεύαμεν Ἀργείων ἱερὸς στρατὸς αἰχμητάων |82 ἀκτῇ ἔπι προὐχούσῃ, ἐπὶ πλατεῖ Ἑλλησπόντῳ, |83 ὥς κεν τηλεφανὴς ἐκ ποντόφιν ἀνδράσιν εἴη |84 τοῖσ’, οἳ νῦν γεγάασι καὶ οἳ μετόπισθεν ἔσονται. |85 μήτηρ δ’ αἰτήσασα θεοὺς περικαλλέ’ ἄεθλα |86 θῆκε μέσῳ ἐν ἀγῶνι ἀριστήεσσιν Ἀχαιῶν. |87 ἤδη μὲν πολέων τάφῳ ἀνδρῶν ἀντεβόλησας |88 ἡρώων, ὅτε κέν ποτ’ ἀποφθιμένου βασιλῆος |89 ζώννυνταί τε νέοι καὶ ἐπεντύνωνται ἄεθλα· |90 ἀλλά κε κεῖνα μάλιστα ἰδὼν θηήσαο θυμῷ, |91 οἷ’ ἐπὶ σοὶ κατέθηκε θεὰ περικαλλέ’ ἄεθλα, |92 ἀργυρόπεζα Θέτις· μάλα γὰρ φίλος ἦσθα θεοῖσιν. |93 ὣς σὺ μὲν οὐδὲ θανὼν ὄνομ’ ὤλεσας, ἀλλά τοι αἰεὶ |94 πάντας ἐπ’ ἀνθρώπους κλέος ἔσσεται ἐσθλόν, Ἀχιλλεῦ· |95 αὐτὰρ ἐμοὶ τί τόδ’ ἦδος, ἐπεὶ πόλεμον τολύπευσα; |96 ἐν νόστῳ γάρ μοι Ζεὺς μήσατο λυγρὸν ὄλεθρον |97 Αἰγίσθου ὑπὸ χερσὶ καὶ οὐλομένης ἀλόχοιο.
[ back ] 3. See also Nagy 2012b:49-50.
[ back ] 4. Detailed analysis in HPC 149-170 = II §§50-89. As I point out in that analysis, it is made clear in XXIII 245-248 that the tomb to be shared by Achilles and Patroklos should be incomplete while only Patroklos occupies it, and that the final act of making the complete tomb must wait till the death of Achilles. That final act is what we see described in Odyssey xxiv 80-84. I should add that the setting of the tomb of Achilles and Patroklos, as primarily indicated by the word aktē ‘promontory’ in Odyssey xxiv 82, is consistent with the setting for the funeral of Patroklos as described in the Iliad: here too the primary indicator is the same word aktē, as we see in the contexts of XVIII 68, XXIII 125-126, XXIV 97.
[ back ] 5. GM 220; in n52, there is an analysis of the relevant testimony of Pausanias 2.12.5.
[ back ] 6. BA 116-117 = 6§30.
[ back ] 7. See also PH 121 = 4§7. Perhaps the most striking example is this entry in the dictionary attributed to Hesychius: Βαλλητύς· ἑορτὴ Ἀθήνησιν, ἐπὶ Δημοφῶντι τῷ Κελεοῦ ἀγομένη ‘balletus: a festival event at Athens, held in honor of Demophon son of Keleos’ (further references to this athletic event of simulated warfare in PH 121 = 4§7n26).
[ back ] 8. Narratives about this kind of battle are attested also in the visual arts. To cite just one example here, there is a Rhodian Black Figure plate, dated to the second half of the seventh century BCE (London, British Museum 1860,0404.1 A 749), showing the figures of Menelaos and Hector battling over the corpse of Euphorbos (see Bravo 2009:17).
[ back ] 9. PH 32, 178 = 1§29, 6§59; EH §97.
[ back ] 10. I draw special attention to the wording at xxiv 39-40: σὺ δ’ ἐν στροφάλιγγι κονίης | κεῖσο μέγας μεγαλωστί ‘There you were, lying in a swirl of dust. | You lay there so huge in all your hugeness’. This same wording applies to Achilles also in Iliad XVIII 26-27, where he stages himself as a corpse in mourning the death of Patroklos and where he is mourned by Thetis as if he were already a corpse (BA 113 = 6§24, especially with reference to XVIII 71). At XVI 775-776, cognate wording applies to the corpse of the hero Kebriones. The corpse of Achilles is described as nine cubits long in the Alexandra of Lycophron (860).
[ back ] 11. Survey by Brelich 1958:233-234. Among the striking examples in this survey is the corpse of Orestes as cult hero, described in Herodotus 1.68.
[ back ] 12. On the vital importance of understanding ambrotos as ‘immortalizing’ as well as ‘immortal’, I refer to my argumentation in GM 141, with reference especially to Iliad XVI 670 and 680.
[ back ] 13. Nagy 2012b:50-51, following BA 209 = 10§50; see also Dué 2001.
[ back ] 14. This formulation is derived from EH §98. For an extended discussion, see BA ch. 10 (“Poetic Visions of Immortality for the Hero”).
[ back ] 15. GM 126, with further references.
[ back ] 16. |170 καὶ τοὶ μὲν ναίουσιν ἀκηδέα θυμὸν ἔχοντες |171 ἐν μακάρων νήσοισι παρ’ Ὠκεανὸν βαθυδίνην, |172 ὄλβιοι ἥρωες, τοῖσιν μελιηδέα καρπὸν |173 τρὶς ἔτεος θάλλοντα φέρει ζείδωρος ἄρουρα.
[ back ] 17. Nagy 2012b:58-59, following PH 243-247 = 8§§45-48.
[ back ] 18. Nagy 2012b:59.
[ back ] 19. PH 245 = 8§46n128.
[ back ] 20. ὄλβιος ὃς τάδ’ ὄπωπεν ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων.
[ back ] 21. PH 245-246 = 8§46.
[ back ] 22. ὄλβιος ὅστις ἰδὼν κεῖν’ εἶσ’ ὑπὸ χθόν’… .
[ back ] 23. ὄλβιε καὶ μακαριστέ: we see here the vocatives of olbios and makaristos, both meaning ‘blessed’. The numbering of lines in this fragment from Thourioi follows the edition of Bernabé 2004/2005.
[ back ] 24. Nagy 2012b:59.
[ back ] 25. For a useful collection of such inscriptions, I cite the work of Tzifopoulos 2010.
[ back ] 26. εἰ δὲ πρὸς τούτοισι ἔτι τελευτήσει τὸν βίον εὖ, οὗτος ἐκεῖνος τὸν σὺ ζητέεις, ὁ ὄλβιος κεκλῆσθαι ἄξιός ἐστι· πρὶν δ’ ἂν τελευτήσῃ, ἐπισχεῖν μηδὲ καλέειν κω ὄλβιον, ἀλλ’ εὐτυχέα.
[ back ] 27. In the original Greek wording, the prepositional phrase meaning ‘with great merit’ cannot “modify” a noun, and so we cannot translate this wording as ‘you got to have a wife with great merit’, in the sense of ‘you got to have a wife who has great merit’; rather, the phrase modifies the verb ‘you got’.
[ back ] 28. I translate ‘his merit’, not ‘her merit’, interpreting this instance of aretē at verse 197 as referring to the previous instance, at verse 193.
[ back ] 29. The epithet for aoidē ‘song’ here is khariessa ‘having kharis’, and I interpret the concept of kharis as ‘beautiful and pleasurable recompense’ in this context. On kharis as a word that conveys both beauty and pleasure, see HC 203-204 = 2§33.
[ back ] 30. In the original Greek, thēluterai means not ‘more female’ but rather ‘female – as opposed to male’.
[ back ] 31. I offer an extensive commentary on this text in BA 36-38 = 2§13.
[ back ] 32. |192 ὄλβιε Λαέρταο πάϊ, πολυμήχαν’ Ὀδυσσεῦ, |193 ἦ ἄρα σὺν μεγάλῃ ἀρετῇ ἐκτήσω ἄκοιτιν· |194 ὡς ἀγαθαὶ φρένες ἦσαν ἀμύμονι Πηνελοπείῃ, |195 κούρῃ Ἰκαρίου, ὡς εὖ μέμνητ’ Ὀδυσῆος, |196 ἀνδρὸς κουριδίου. τῶ οἱ κλέος οὔ ποτ’ ὀλεῖται |197 ἧς ἀρετῆς, τεύξουσι δ’ ἐπιχθονίοισιν ἀοιδὴν |198 ἀθάνατοι χαρίεσσαν ἐχέφρονι Πηνελοπείῃ, |199 οὐχ ὡς Τυνδαρέου κούρη κακὰ μήσατο ἔργα, |200 κουρίδιον κτείνασα πόσιν, στυγερὴ δέ τ’ ἀοιδὴ |201 ἔσσετ’ ἐπ’ ἀνθρώπους, χαλεπὴν δέ τε φῆμιν ὀπάσσει |202 θηλυτέρῃσι γυναιξί, καὶ ἥ κ’ εὐεργὸς ἔῃσιν.
[ back ] 33. καὶ σὲ γέρον τὸ πρὶν μὲν ἀκούομεν ὄλβιον εἶναι.
[ back ] 34. Nagy 2012b:59-60.
[ back ] 35. ὄλβιε Πηλέος υἱέ, θεοῖσ’ ἐπιείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ.
[ back ] 36. Nagy 2012b:60.
[ back ] 37. σῆμα δέ τοι ἐρέω μάλ’ ἀριφραδές, οὐδέ σε λήσει.
[ back ] 38. Nagy 2012b:57, following GM 219.
[ back ] 39. σῆμα δέ τοι ἐρέω μάλ’ ἀριφραδές, οὐδέ σε λήσει.
[ back ] 40. |90 ἦλθε δ’ ἐπὶ ψυχὴ Θηβαίου Τειρεσίαο, |91 χρύσεον σκῆπτρον ἔχων, ἐμὲ δ’ ἔγνω καὶ προσέειπε· |92 “διογενὲς Λαερτιάδη, πολυμήχαν’ Ὀδυσσεῦ, |93 τίπτ’ αὖτ’, ὦ δύστηνε, λιπὼν φάος ἠελίοιο |94 ἤλυθες, ὄφρα ἴδῃ νέκυας καὶ ἀτερπέα χῶρον; |95 ἀλλ’ ἀποχάζεο βόθρου, ἄπισχε δὲ φάσγανον ὀξύ, |96 αἵματος ὄφρα πίω καί τοι νημερτέα εἴπω.” |97 ὣς φάτ’, ἐγὼ δ’ ἀναχασσάμενος ξίφος ἀργυρόηλον |98 κουλεῷ ἐγκατέπηξ’. ὁ δ’ ἐπεὶ πίεν αἷμα κελαινόν, |99 καὶ τότε δή μ’ ἐπέεσσι προσηύδα μάντις ἀμύμων· |100 “νόστον δίζηαι μελιηδέα, φαίδιμ’ Ὀδυσσεῦ· |101 τὸν δέ τοι ἀργαλέον θήσει θεός. οὐ γὰρ ὀΐω |102 λήσειν ἐννοσίγαιον, ὅ τοι κότον ἔνθετο θυμῷ, |103 χωόμενος ὅτι οἱ υἱὸν φίλον ἐξαλάωσας. |104 ἀλλ’ ἔτι μέν κε καὶ ὧς, κακά περ πάσχοντες, ἵκοισθε, |105 αἴ κ’ ἐθέλῃς σὸν θυμὸν ἐρυκακέειν καὶ ἑταίρων, |106 ὁππότε κεν πρῶτον πελάσῃς εὐεργέα νῆα |107 Θρινακίῃ νήσῳ, προφυγὼν ἰοειδέα πόντον, |108 βοσκομένας δ’ εὕρητε βόας καὶ ἴφια μῆλα |109 Ἠελίου, ὃς πάντ’ ἐφορᾷ καὶ πάντ’ ἐπακούει. |110 τὰς εἰ μέν κ’ ἀσινέας ἐάᾳς νόστου τε μέδηαι, |111 καί κεν ἔτ’ εἰς Ἰθάκην, κακά περ πάσχοντες, ἵκοισθε· |112 εἰ δέ κε σίνηαι, τότε τοι τεκμαίρομ’ ὄλεθρον |113 νηΐ τε καὶ ἑτάροισ’. αὐτὸς δ’ εἴ πέρ κεν ἀλύξῃς, |114 ὀψὲ κακῶς νεῖαι, ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους, |115 νηὸς ἐπ’ ἀλλοτρίης· δήεις δ’ ἐν πήματα οἴκῳ, |116 ἄνδρας ὑπερφιάλους, οἵ τοι βίοτον κατέδουσι |117 μνώμενοι ἀντιθέην ἄλοχον καὶ ἕδνα διδόντες. |118 ἀλλ’ ἦ τοι κείνων γε βίας ἀποτείσεαι ἐλθών· |119 αὐτὰρ ἐπὴν μνηστῆρας ἐνὶ μεγάροισι τεοῖσι |120 κτείνῃς ἠὲ δόλῳ ἢ ἀμφαδὸν ὀξέϊ χαλκῷ, |121 ἔρχεσθαι δὴ ἔπειτα, λαβὼν εὐῆρες ἐρετμόν, |122 εἰς ὅ κε τοὺς ἀφίκηαι, οἳ οὐκ ἴσασι θάλασσαν |123 ἀνέρες οὐδέ θ’ ἅλεσσι μεμιγμένον εἶδαρ ἔδουσιν· |124 οὐδ’ ἄρα τοὶ ἴσασι νέας φοινικοπαρῄους, |125 οὐδ’ εὐήρε’ ἐρετμά, τά τε πτερὰ νηυσὶ πέλονται. |126 σῆμα δέ τοι ἐρέω μάλ’ ἀριφραδές, οὐδέ σε λήσει· |127 ὁππότε κεν δή τοι ξυμβλήμενος ἄλλος ὁδίτης |128 φήῃ ἀθηρηλοιγὸν ἔχειν ἀνὰ φαιδίμῳ ὤμῳ, |129 καὶ τότε δὴ γαίῃ πήξας εὐῆρες ἐρετμόν, |130 ἕρξας ἱερὰ καλὰ Ποσειδάωνι ἄνακτι, |131 ἀρνειὸν ταῦρόν τε συῶν τ’ ἐπιβήτορα κάπρον, |132 οἴκαδ’ ἀποστείχειν ἕρδειν θ’ ἱερὰς ἑκατόμβας |133 ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι, τοὶ οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἔχουσι, |134 πᾶσι μάλ’ ἑξείης. θάνατος δέ τοι ἐξ ἁλὸς αὐτῷ |135 ἀβληχρὸς μάλα τοῖος ἐλεύσεται, ὅς κέ σε πέφνῃ |136 γήρᾳ ὕπο λιπαρῷ ἀρημένον· ἀμφὶ δὲ λαοὶ |137 ὄλβιοι ἔσσονται. τὰ δέ τοι νημερτέα εἴρω.”
[ back ] 41. νόστον δίζηαι μελιηδέα… .
[ back ] 42. |490 ἀλλ’ ἄλλην χρὴ πρῶτον ὁδὸν τελέσαι καὶ ἱκέσθαι |491 εἰς Ἀΐδαο δόμους καὶ ἐπαινῆς Περσεφονείης |492 ψυχῇ χρησομένους Θηβαίου Τειρεσίαο, |493 μάντιος ἀλαοῦ, τοῦ τε φρένες ἔμπεδοί εἰσι· |494 τῷ καὶ τεθνηῶτι νόον πόρε Περσεφόνεια |495 οἴῳ πεπνῦσθαι· τοὶ δὲ σκιαὶ ἀΐσσουσιν.
[ back ] 43. Nagy 1983a, as recast in GM 202-222.
[ back ] 44. GM 212-214.
[ back ] 45. ἀμφὶ δὲ λαοὶ |137 ὄλβιοι ἔσσονται.
[ back ] 46. ἀμφὶ δέ σ’ ἄλλοι |38 κτείνοντο Τρώων καὶ Ἀχαιῶν υἷες ἄριστοι |39 μαρνάμενοι περὶ σεῖο.
[ back ] 47. Nagy 2012b:58.
[ back ] 48. Nagy 1990b:126, with further references.
[ back ] 49. θάνατος δέ τοι ἐξ ἁλὸς αὐτῷ |135 ἀβληχρὸς μάλα τοῖος ἐλεύσεται.
[ back ] 50. |127 ὁππότε κεν δή τοι ξυμβλήμενος ἄλλος ὁδίτης |128 φήῃ ἀθηρηλοιγὸν ἔχειν ἀνὰ φαιδίμῳ ὤμῳ.
[ back ] 51. καὶ τότε δὴ γαίῃ πήξας εὐῆρες ἐρετμόν.
[ back ] 52. σῆμα δέ τοι ἐρέω μάλ’ ἀριφραδές, οὐδέ σε λήσει·
[ back ] 53. σῆμα δέ τοι ἐρέω μάλ’ ἀριφραδές, οὐδέ σε λήσει.
[ back ] 54. Currie 2005:57, with reference to Odyssey xiii 96-112, 345-371.
[ back ] 55. ἔστι δὲ ἄνοδος ἐξ Ἀσέας ἐς τὸ ὄρος τὸ Βόρειον καλούμενον, καὶ ἐπὶ τῇ ἄκρᾳ τοῦ ὄρους σημεῖά ἐστιν ἱεροῦ· ποιῆσαι δὲ τὸ ἱερὸν Ἀθηνᾷ τε Σωτείρᾳ καὶ Ποσειδῶνι Ὀδυσσέα ἐλέγετο ἀνακομισθέντα ἐξ Ἰλίου.
[ back ] 56. EH §105, Nagy 2011c §§35-44, 55.
[ back ] 57. BA 118-141 = 7§§1-30.
[ back ] 58. |14 τύμβον χεύαντες καὶ ἐπὶ στήλην ἐρύσαντες |15 πήξαμεν ἀκροτάτῳ τύμβῳ εὐῆρες ἐρετμόν.
[ back ] 59. |75 σῆμά τέ μοι χεῦαι πολιῆς ἐπὶ θινὶ θαλάσσης, |76 ἀνδρὸς δυστήνοιο, καὶ ἐσσομένοισι πυθέσθαι· |77 ταῦτά τέ μοι τελέσαι πῆξαί τ’ ἐπὶ τύμβῳ ἐρετμόν, |78 τῷ καὶ ζωὸς ἔρεσσον ἐὼν μετ’ ἐμοῖσ’ ἑτάροισιν.
[ back ] 60. |266 οὐ μέν τοι θυμὸς κεχαρήσεται· οὐδὲ γὰρ αὐτὸς |267 χαίρω, ἐπεὶ μάλα πολλὰ βροτῶν ἐπὶ ἄστε’ ἄνωγεν |268 ἐλθεῖν, ἐν χείρεσσιν ἔχοντ’ εὐῆρες ἐρετμόν, … .
[ back ] 61. πολλῶν δ’ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω.
[ back ] 62. Hansen 1977:38-39; GM 214.
[ back ] 63. PH 232 = 8n25n82. Also GM 214; the analysis there shapes the wording of the next paragraph here.
[ back ] 64. I refer to these traditions in Nagy 1985:80 = §77.
[ back ] 65. Nagy 1985:80-81 = §78.
[ back ] 66. BA 145 = 8§8.
[ back ] 67. καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα σὺν | Διομήδει τὸ παλλάδιον ἐκκομίζει ἐκ τῆς Ἰλίου.
[ back ] 68. Here I disagree with Hansen 1977:42-48. See again GM 214.
[ back ] 69. Again, PH 32, 178 = 1§29, 6§59; EH §97.
[ back ] 70. ἀμφὶ δὲ λαοὶ |137 ὄλβιοι ἔσσονται.
[ back ] 71. |21 σχέτλιοι, οἳ ζώοντες ὑπήλθετε δῶμ’ Ἀΐδαο, |22 δισθανέες, ὅτε τ’ ἄλλοι ἅπαξ θνῄσκουσ’ ἄνθρωποι.
[ back ] 72. Hansen 1977:27-41.
[ back ] 73. Hansen 1977:29.
[ back ] 74. Hansen 1977:30.
[ back ] 75. Hansen 1977:40.
[ back ] 76. Hansen 1977:35.