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

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Chapter 5. The Name of Achilles

5§6. In short, the testimony of the early Greek poetic traditions about Akhil(l)eús, by virtue of their formal and thematic archaism, can justifiably be applied as a test for Palmer’s reconstruction *Akhí-lāu̯os. We must therefore examine whether the notion framed by *Akhí-lāu̯os (and *Penthí-lāu̯os, for that matter) corresponds to the functions of ákhos (pénthos) and lāós in the poetic traditions. In addition, we must examine whether such a correspondence extends to the Achilles figure itself. Since the primary poetic tradition about Achilles is the Iliad, a brief examination of its central themes, and of the diction expressing these themes, will have to be the first task.

5§8. The Iliad does more than simply orchestrate these central themes into an artistic unity: it also names them. Either the narrative {72|73} or the characters within the narrative can actually refer to the central themes inside the Iliad, with special designations. For example, the invocation at the beginning of the Iliad announces the content of the narrative simply by naming the mênis ‘anger’ of Achilles: [17]

μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
Sing, goddess, the mênis of Achilles son of Peleus.

Iliad I 1

Through the preeminent placement of the word mênis, the theme of Achilles’ anger is singled out by the composition as the most central and hence most pervasive in the Iliadic tradition. Furthermore, the subsequent application of mênis is restricted by the composition specifically to the anger that Achilles felt over the slighting of his tīmḗ at the very beginning of the action. The anger that Achilles felt later over the killing of Patroklos is nowhere denoted by mênis. In fact, the only instance where mênis applies to heroes rather than gods in the Iliad is the mutual anger between Achilles and Agamemnon. [
18] We see in these restrictions on the application of mênis a {73|74} distinctive Iliadic association of this word with all the epic events that resulted from Achilles’ anger against Agamemnon, the most central of which is the devastation suffered by the Achaeans. Again, the wording at the very beginning of the Iliad announces the theme of devastation by referring to the countless álgea ‘pains’ of the Achaeans caused by the mênis of Achilles:

ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκεν
which [the mênis] made countless álgea for the Achaeans.

Iliad I 2

‘… λοιγὸν ἀμύνῃς’   Iliad XVI 32
‘… λοιγὸν ἀμῦναι’   Iliad I 341, XVI 75, XVIII 450
‘… λοιγὸν ἀμύνων’   Iliad XVI 80

5§11. In fact, the diction of the Iliad can designate the plight of the Achaeans during the Battle of the Ships as simply λοιγὸν Ἀχαιῶν ‘the devastation [loigós] of the Achaeans’ at XXI 134, where the Achaeans are then immediately described, in Achilles’ own words, with the following narrative gloss:

οὓς ἐπὶ νηυσὶ θοῇσιν ἐπέφνετε νόσφιν ἐμεῖο
whom you killed at the swift ships in my absence.

Iliad XXI 135

The loigós of the Achaeans during the Battle of the Ships happened because they were “apart from Achilles,” who had mênis. Already in Book I, the words of Achilles had alluded to their future predicament:

ὅππως οἱ παρὰ νηυσὶ σόοι μαχέοιντο Ἀχαιοί
that the Achaeans be safe as they fight at the ships

Iliad I 344 {75|76}

It was in this future context, in what amounts to the title of a future episode in the narrative (“Battle of the Ships”), that the words of Achilles first raised the possibility that he would be needed then for the role of warding off the loigós of the Achaeans:

… εἴ ποτε δή αὖτε
χρειὼ ἐμεῖο γένηται ἀεικέα λοιγὸν ἀμῦναι
… if ever there will be
a need for me to ward off the disgraceful devastation [ loigós ]

Iliad I 340–341

5§13. As we hear from the retrospective narrative of XVIII 444–456, where Thetis retells briefly the entire Iliad up to the moment at hand, Achilles “had refused to ward off the devastation [ loigós ]” (ἠναίνετο λοιγὸν ἀμῦναι: Iliad XVIII 450) and Patroklos had taken his place—only to be killed by Hektor through the intervention of Apollo (Iliad XVIII 451–456). The god had thus given the emblem of victory, the kûdos, to Hektor (Iliad XVIII 456). [25] When Achilles finally wins back the {76|77} kûdos by killing Hektor, he calls on the Achaeans to sing a pai ōn (Iliad XXII 391), and the song is to begin as follows:

ἠράμεθα μέγα κῦδος· ἐπέφνομεν Ἕκτορα δῖον
We won a big kûdos ; we killed brilliant Hektor!

Iliad XXII 393

The pai ōn here is to be contrasted with the only other one in the Iliad, at I 473, where it had celebrated the remedy for the álgea ‘pains’ of the Achaeans. True, the killing of Hektor has reversed the situation for the opposing sides: now it is the Achaeans who have the kûdos (Iliad XXII 393) and the Trojans who have álgea (XXII 422) because of Achilles, who is a pêma ‘pain’ for the Trojans (Iliad XXII 421–422). In fact, he is for them the pêma mégiston ‘greatest pain’ (Iliad XXII 288), in Hektor’s own words. Previously, it had been Hektor who was called a pêma by the Achaeans (Iliad XI 347, cf. VIII 176), and in fact their plight during the onslaught of Hektor was also a pêma (Iliad IX 229). [

5§18. Before we proceed, however, a few precautions may be taken about the nature of our evidence. We may by now have satisfied ourselves, on the basis of the Iliadic diction, that there is a thematic association between the Achilles figure and the notion of grief. The diction seems orchestrated to fit the main themes, or better, to express these themes by way of the placement of certain key words. For example, the deployment of the expression λοιγὸν ἀμυν- ‘ward off devastation [loigós]’ had indirectly told its own story about how Achilles’ mênis caused grief for the Achaeans. The associations of key words keep retelling the main themes of the Iliad on a formal level, beyond the more fundamental level of the actual narrative. But it is essential to keep in mind that such orchestration of the forms in such a way as to fit the main themes is a result, not a cause. In Greek epic, as also elsewhere in traditional poetry, inherited themes are expressed by inherited forms which are highly regulated by the formulaic system of the genre.

5§20. With these thoughts in mind, I return to the evidence of Iliadic diction, on ákhos and Akhil(l)eús. If we are now about to discover a pervasive nexus between these two elements in the Iliad, I would then infer that such a nexus is integrated in the inherited formulaic system and hence deeply rooted in the epic tradition. Accordingly, the internal evidence of epic may well corroborate the proposed derivation of Akhil(l)eús from ákhos.

5§21. As we turn now to the deployment of ákhos in the Iliad, we immediately come upon an overt equation of this word with the expression páthon álgea ‘suffered pains’, involving the same word álgea that we have already seen in the context of designating the grief that the Achaeans suffered from the mênis of Achilles (ἄλγεα: Iliad I 2) and from the mênis of Apollo (ἄλγεα: Iliad I 96, 110). This equation of ákhos with páthon álgea is to be found in the words of Achilles himself:

αἰνὸν ἄχος τό μοί ἐστιν, ἐπεὶ πάθον ἄλγεα θυμῷ
the terrible ákhos that I have, since I suffered pains [ álgea ] in my thūmós

Iliad XVI 55

In the present case, however, álgea designates the grief of Achilles over his loss of tīmḗ ‘honor’ (Iliad XVI 59), not the grief of the Achaeans. For Achilles to suffer his own álgea qualifies here as ákhos (Iliad XVI 55), yet we find only thirty-three hexameters earlier that the grief of the Achaeans during the Battle of the Ships also qualifies as ákhos:

μή νεμέσα· τοῖον γὰρ ἄχος βεβίηκεν Ἀχαιούς
Do not be angry: for such an ákhos has beset the Achaeans.

Iliad XVI 22 {79|80}

The word ákhos signals le transfert du mal: the ákhos of Achilles leads to the mênis of Achilles leads to the ákhos of the Achaeans.

5§22. Such a transfer has a religious dimension, as we can see from the traditions of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. The ákhos of Demeter is instantaneous with the abduction of the Kore (Hymn to Demeter 40, 90–91). Her resulting mênis (Hymn to Demeter 350) causes devastation in the form of cosmic infertility (351 ff.). The tīmaí ‘honors’ of the Olympians are thus threatened (353–354), and it is only with the restoration of Kore that Demeter’s mênis ceases (410), as her ákhos abates (ἀχέων: 436). Demeter thereupon gets her appropriate tīmaí (461), and her anger (468) is replaced with fertility (469, 471 ff.).

5§23. Besides all the obvious convergences here, we must also note an important divergence from the pattern of Achilles: once Demeter’s mênis ceases, so too does her ákhos. This theme is also found directly in the cult traditions, as we see, for example, in the report about the Demeter of Arcadian Phigalia: the Moîrai ‘Fates’ persuaded her both ‘to lay aside her anger and to cease in her grief’ (ἀποθέσθαι μὲν τήν ὀργήν, ὑφεῖναι δὲ καὶ τῆς λύπης: Pausanias 8.42.3). [34] The pattern is different with the grief of Achilles. The abduction of Briseis brings instantaneous ákhos for Achilles (Iliad I 188), but this grief is not removed by the restoration of the girl, the vindication of his tīmḗ, and the cessation of his terrible mênis. Before these three events take place, the ákhos of Achilles is made permanent by the death of his surrogate Patroklos. When Achilles hears the news that Patroklos has been killed, his ákhos is instantaneous in the narrative (Iliad XVIII 22), and for this ákhos there is to be no remedy, as the earlier words of Odysseus had already predicted for Achilles:

αὐτῷ τοι μετόπισθ᾽ ἄχος ἔσσεται, οὐδέ τι μῆχος
ῥεχθέντος κακοῦ ἔστ᾽ ἄκος εὑρεῖν
You yourself will have an ákhos in the future,
and there will be no way to find a remedy for the bad thing once it is done.

Iliad IX 249–250 {80|81}

As Thetis predicts, Achilles will have grief for the rest of his life (ἄχνυται: Iliad XVIII 442–443). Earlier, he was grieving for Briseis (ἀχέων: Iliad XVIII 446); now he can grieve for Patroklos (ἀχεύων: Iliad XVIII 461), and after this ákhos there can be no other:

… ἐπεὶ οὔ μ᾽ ἔτι δεύτερον ὧδε
ἵξετ᾽ ἄχος κραδίην, ὄφρα ζωοῖσι μετείω
… for never again will an ákhos like this enter my heart while I am among the living

Iliad XXIII 46–47

5§24. Whereas Achilles is the man of constant sorrow, the Achaeans have ákhos intermittently. And each time that they get a remission of ákhos in the Iliad, Achilles figures as the key factor. Initially, Apollo’s mênis had given them grief because of the abduction of Chryseis; their grief was relieved when Chryseis was restored, whereas the consequent abduction of Briseis gave grief to Achilles. Later, Achilles’ own mênis gave the Achaeans grief, which was then relieved when Patroklos beat back the onslaught of the Trojans at the Battle of the Ships. The consequent death of Patroklos then left Achilles without respite from grief.

5§25. During the intermittent period of ákhos for the Achaeans, the Trojans are described as having krátos ‘superior power’, and the complementary distribution of these two Homeric themes of ákhos/krátos is controlled by the Will of Zeus, the self-proclaimed “plot” of our Iliad. The key passage is I 509–510, where we find an overt correlation of the grief that is about to beset the Achaeans with the temporary awarding of krátos to the Trojans, and the correlation is under the control of Zeus. It is up to Zeus both to give krátos, as here (Iliad I 509), as well as to take it away, and the Achaeans in their plight fully realize the absence of krátos. [35] Diomedes speaks for them all when he says:

That is, Diomedes speaks for all except for Achilles, who stands outside the common good of the Achaean host. For Achilles, the transfer of krátos from the Achaeans to the Trojans leads to his own tīmḗ (Iliad I 505–510), and the restoration of his tīmḗ is equivalent to the Will of Zeus (cf. also Iliad II 3–5), which in turn comes to pass with the grief of the Achaeans at the Battle of the Ships (Iliad I 2–5, 559; IX 608–609). When he is praying to Zeus, Achilles says it himself:

τίμησας μὲν ἐμέ, μέγα δ᾽ ἴψαο λαὸν Ἀχαιῶν
You have given tīmḗ to me and great harm to the lāós of the Achaeans

Iliad XVI 237

With exactly these same words, the priest Chryses had prayed to Apollo (Iliad I 454); there too the lāós of the Achaeans was having grief, but that time it was still the mênis of Apollo that was causing it, not the mênis of Achilles.

5§26. Who, then, is this warrior, whose tīmḗ is instrumental in taking krátos from the lāós of the Achaeans and bringing them ákhos instead? Surely it is *Akhí-lāu̯os, the one who has grief for and of the lāós. The individual ákhos of the Achilles figure leads to the collective ákhos of the Achaean host during the Battle of the Ships, but it was their own earlier ákhos during the plague that had led to Achilles’ ákhos. If there had been no abduction of Chryseis, leading to the ákhos of the Achaeans, there would have been no abduction of Briseis, leading to the ákhos of Achilles. Achilles was as instrumental in ridding the Achaeans of their first ákhos as he was in bringing upon them the second; in fact, he had even prayed to Zeus for the grief that would come upon them (Iliad XVIII 74–77; cf. I 408–412).

5§29. In fact, such mythopoeic and ritualistic levels are also present in the cult designation of Demeter as Akhaiā́ precisely in the context of her ákhos over the abduction of Kore. In Plutarch’s De Iside 378d, we read reports of mourning rites (πενθίμοις θυσίαις) practiced by various peoples during the period of sowing (October/November) to lament the abduction of the Kore. After citing the Thesmophoria of the Athenians, where he describes the second day of the festival (12 Pyanopsion) as a period of lamentation, Plutarch’s survey turns to a corresponding ritual period in Boeotia:

καὶ Βοιωτοὶ τὰ τῆς Ἀχαιᾶς μέγαρα κινοῦσιν, ἐπαχθῆ τήν ἑορτήν ἐκείνην ὀνομάζοντες ὡς διὰ τήν τῆς Κόρης κάθοδον ἐν ἄχει τῆς Δήμητρος οὔσης.

And the Boeotians activate the chambers [mégara] of the Akhaiā́ , giving their festival a name of grief because of Demeter’s ákhos over the Descent [káthodos] of the Kore.

Plutarch De Iside 378e

There is an overt correlation here between Demeter’s cult title Akhaiā́ and her ákhos ‘grief’ over the Descent of the Kore; [
42] furthermore, her individual grief is correlated with the collective grief of the community that worships her. These correlations of the name Akhaiā́ are presented as a fact of cult; they are independent of the surface resemblance of the forms ákhos and Akhaiā́. I propose that we are dealing here with something more than a mere lexicographical association, as we might have thought if we had access only to such information as the following gloss:{84|85}

Ἀχαία [sic]· ἐπίθετον Δήμητρος. ἀπὸ τοῦ περὶ τήν Κόρην ἄχους, ὅπερ ἐποιεῖτο ἀναζητοῦσα αὐτήν

Akhaia: epithet of Demeter. From the ákhos that she had over the Kore when she was looking for her.

Hesychius s.v.

As we have already seen, the word ákhos is the traditional designation of Demeter’s grief over the abduction of the Kore (Hymn to Demeter 40, 90, 436), just as Akhaiā́ serves as a traditional epithet of the grieving Demeter during a ritual period of lamentation. Even if we were to assume that the association of ákhos with Akhaiā́ results from a contrived etymology, we would still have to concede on the basis of Plutarch’s report that the contrivance itself must be traditional and deeply archaic, not some random figment of a lexicographer’s imagination. [

krátos kratú krati kratai krataió
ákhos akhu *akhi- *akhai Akhaió

5§35. In view of such formal correspondences as

krátos Kratai-ménēs krataió
álthos Althai-ménēs althaíā

It would be tempting to consider

ákhos Akhaiménēs Akhaió

5§37. In the appendix, I also present arguments in favor of interpreting the adjectives krataió-/Akhaió– as derived from compounds shaped *kratai-u̯ī̆-/*akhai-u̯ī̆– ‘whose ī́s has krátos/ákhos’. [64] In the case of *kratai-u̯ī̆-, we have just considered the semantic parallel of Kratai-ménēs ‘whose ménos [might] has krátos’, where the element ménos has the inherited function of being a synonym of ī́s. There is also another semantic parallel, one that is even closer to the posited compound krataió– on a formal level. Since the word bíē ‘might’ also functions as a synonym of ī́s (e.g., ī́s at Iliad XI 668 is equated with bíē at XI 670), we may now in addition cite the adjective/name krataí-bios/Krataí-bios ‘whose bíē has krátos’. [65] So much for the reconstruction *kratai-u̯ī̆-. As for *akhai-u̯ī̆-, I should note simply that its posited meaning ‘whose ī́s had ákhos’ corresponds to the primary martial function of the Akhaioí ‘Achaeans’ in epic action: their prowess entails ákhos for the enemy and, simultaneously, krátos for themselves. [66] Moreover, the Iliadic tradition features an interesting variation on this theme: because Achilles {89|90} withdraws from battle, the Achaeans temporarily lose krátos to the Trojans and they themselves are overwhelmed by ákhos. Epic diction actually conveys this reversed position of the Achaeans in terms of ákhos and bíē, synonym of ī́s:

These words are spoken by Patroklos to Achilles, and they introduce a concrete description of the Achaeans’ plight now that all the major heroes save Achilles have been knocked out of action by Hektor’s onslaught (Iliad XVI 23–29). The perfect formation bebíēken ‘has brought bíē upon’ at XVI 22 reverses the martial function of the Achaeans from active to passive: they ‘whose ī́s has ákhos’ are no longer inflicting ī́s but are themselves afflicted by it, so that they, rather than the enemy, get the resulting ákhos. [
68] To sum up, the warrior needs bíē to win in battle, but bíē is not enough. One can have bíē and still lose without the krátos that only Zeus can grant. [69] Even the cosmic régime of the Olympians is actually maintained by the combination of Krátos and Bíē personified (Hesiod Theogony 385–401). Thus he who is krataí-bios ‘whose bíē has krátos’ is one who not only has bíē but also wins because he has been granted krátos by the gods. The same goes for the kraterḕī́s of Odysseus at XXIII 720. But winning is an ambiguous prospect for the Akhaioí: their ī́s may fail to have krátos from the gods, and so the ákhos may be destined for them rather than the enemy.

5§39. In this light, we may compare *Akhí-lāu̯os ‘whose lāós has grief’ with the name Kharílāos (from *Kharí-lāu̯os) ‘whose lāós has mirth’, as used in Archilochus fr. 168W. The poem addresses Kharilaos and then promises to give him pleasure by making him laugh:

Ἐρασμονίδη Χαρίλαε,
χρῆμά τοι γελοῖον
ἐρέω, πολὺ φίλταθ᾽ ἑταίρων,
τέρψεαι δ᾽ ἀκούων
Kharílāos, son of Erásmōn!
I will tell you something to be laughed at,
you most phílos [dear] of hetaîroi [companions]!
and you will get pleasure hearing it.

Archilochus fr. 168W

There are implications not only in the name Kharílāos but also in the patronymic Erasmonídēs ‘son of Erásmōn’, which is related to erásmios ‘lovely’; this adjective elsewhere describes the bloom of youth that inspires poetry (Anacreon fr. 375P). [
71] Moreover, the verb térpō/térpomai ‘give/get pleasure’ conventionally designates the effect of poetry (e.g., Odyssey i 347). [72] We may also note the combination of erásmios ‘lovely’ and terpnós ‘pleasurable’ in Semonides 7.52W and compare the collocation of Erasmonídēs (Ἐρασμονίδη) and térpomai ‘get pleasure’ (τέρψεαι) in this poem of Archilochus. My point is that the pleasure and laughter promised by the poem are actually embodied in the element khari– of Kharí-lāos. [73] This element, as found in the noun kháris, [74] conveys the notion of ‘pleasure, mirth’ in conventional descriptions of poetry and its effects; [75] moreover, the context of such pleasure is social. [76] As the narrating Odysseus says in {91|92} ix 3–11, there is no accomplishment ‘having more kháris’ (χαριέστερον: line 5) than the eüphrosúnē ‘mirth’ that everyone in the dêmos ‘district’ experiences from the dinner hour performance of a poet. [77] So too with Kharí-lāos: he will get pleasure and laugh as “the most phílos [dear] of the hetaîroi [companions]” (φίλταθ᾽ ἑταίρων: line 3). In other words, the audience of the poem is a community (comprised of phíloi ‘friends’). [78] And the notion of community is also embodied in the element lāós of Kharí-lāos. [79]

5§41. As we have seen, another traditional word for the dire military situation of the Achaeans during the Battle of the Ships is loigós ‘devastation’. [81] Since the grief caused by the mênis of Achilles is thus a devastation as well, we may suppose that a name like Kharílāos could convey the notion that the lāós has mirth because some devastation is suspended. In view of this possibility, let us consider the social function of the name Kharila in Delphic myth and ritual. From the report of Plutarch Quaestiones Graecae 293e, we learn that Kharila designates not only a Delphic festival but also the figure commemorated in that festival. The corresponding myth tells that Kharila was a starving girl who begged for a share of food that {92|93} was being distributed in the community by the king; when the king knocked her away with his shoe, she hanged herself. During the enneateric festival of Kharila, a ritual dummy that is also called Kharila is knocked away by the king of the festival, whereupon it is hanged by its neck and then buried. As is generally agreed, the theme of the festival is fertility by way of banishing hunger. [82] Both the myth and the ritual of Kharila reveal an archaic social foundation in general and an archaic judicial system in particular. [83] On the basis of the social function inherited by the name Kharila, I suggest that the form may be a truncated variant of *Kharílāu̯os. We have in fact already seen other such variants: Khárillos and Kharíllēs. [84] {93|}


[ back ] 1. Chantraine I 150.

[ back ] 2. Palmer 1963:79. Here in Ch. 5 and in Ch. 6, I am offering a revised version of an article that I wrote for Palmer’s Festschrift (Nagy 1974c). See now Palmer 1979 and Nagy 1994.

[ back ] 3. Technically, this posited bahuvrīhi compound should be translated ‘he who has the láōs grieving’ or ‘he whose láōs has ákhos’. (The Sanskrit grammatical term bahuvrīhi literally means ‘he who has much rice’.) For the interpretation of láōs as ‘host of fighting men’ in the context of epic, see Jeanmaire 1939:11–111 and Vian 1968:59. For the connection of Greek láōs with Hittite lah̬h̬a– ‘military campaign’ and lah̬h̬iyala– ‘warrior’, see Heubeck 1969 and Watkins 1976b:122.

[ back ] 4. Palmer (1963:79) compares what appears to be another shortened form, Pénthi-los, to be derived from *Penthí-lāu̯os ‘whose lāós has pénthos [grief]’, where the first component penthi– follows the inherited Caland pattern: penthi– compared to pénthos ‘grief’, parallel to akhi- compared to ákhos ‘grief’. (On such patterns see the original formulation by Caland 1893:592; see also Nussbaum 1976.) Palmer (1963:79) adduces such other examples as Kūdi-áneira ‘whose men have glory [kûdos]’, and Oidi-pódēs ‘whose feet have swelling [oîdos]’, etc. As a parallel to the hypothetical truncation of *-lāu̯os in Akhil(l)eús (from *Akhí-lāu̯os), we may cite the coexistence of the forms Sthénelos (Iliad V 111, etc.) and Sthenélāos (Iliad XVI 586). To explain the optional doubling of the –l– in the epic forms of Akhil(l)eús, Palmer (1963:79) points out that expressive gemination seems to be a characteristic of shortened forms, adducing Khárillos/Kharíllēs compared to Kharí-lāos (from *-lāu̯os); for the forms, see Bechtel 1917:285. (On Kharila, see further at 5§39 below; also compare the formal pair Kharila and Kharí-lāos with Iólē and Ió-lāos respectively.) We may add Périllos, apparently a by-form of Perí-lāos (see Jeffery 1976:139); cf. also Philleús and Phileús, as discussed by Perpillou 1973:172 and 241n8. There remains the problem of the suffix –eús in Akhi-l(l)eús: here too Palmer can point to formal parallelisms, showing from the evidence of both Linear B and later Greek that this suffix is especially characteristic of shortened names (Palmer, pp. 78; cf. also Perpillou, pp. 167–299). As another possible instance where compounded *-lāu̯os is ultimately truncated to –leús, Palmer (pp. 80) adduces epic Nēleús and Attic Neíleōs (from *Neelēos from *Nehé-lāu̯os, apparently attested as the name ne-e-ra-wo in a Linear B tablet from Pylos, Fn 79.5); see Ruijgh 1967:369–370. In addition, I cite the by-form of Iólē, namely Ióleia (Hesiod fr. 26.31MW), and the masculine Ió-lāos; the feminine type Ióleia implies a corresponding *Ioleús. Finally, we may compare the formal types Iólāos and Ióleia with Prōtesílāos and Penthesíleia.

[ back ] 5. As precedent, I cite Frame 1978:82–83, 86, 96–99, 112 on the mythology underlying the form *Nehé-lāu̯os (n1), which means something like ‘bringing the lāós back home to safety’; Frame connects the root *nes– of *Nehé-lāu̯os not only with Nēleús and Neíleōs but also with Nés-tōr, the name of the son of Neleus. Compare the root *ag– in Agéleōs (Odyssey xxii 131, 247), from *Agé-lāu̯os ‘bringing/leading the lāós‘, and also in Ák-tōr (Iliad II 513, etc.). The contraction of *Nehe– to Nē- in Nēleús implies that the replacement of *Nehé-lāu̯os by *Neheleús had already taken place during a pre-Ionic phase in the development of Homeric diction (see Wackernagel 1953 [= 1914]:1156–1157 and n. 2).

[ back ] 6. The single most convincing piece of writing on the subject of Achilles’ inherited central role in the Iliadic tradition remains that of Whitman 1958 (Ch. IX). His book and Lord’s (1960, esp. Ch. IX on the Iliad) have been invaluable for my present efforts.

[ back ] 7. I raise this issue to allow for the possibility that the name spelled a-ki-re-u in Linear B (Knossos tablet Vc 106; cf. Pylos tablet Fn 79) stands for *Akhil(l)eús. For an articulate comparison of the historical Pylos and a possibly historical Nestor with the mythopoeic Pylos and the mythopoeic Nestor, I cite Frame 1978. For a useful general discussion of the relationship between the mythopoeic requirements of epic and the realia of history: Lord 1970:29–30.

[ back ] 8. I cite primarily my own monograph on the subject (Nagy 1974), certainly not because I think of it as authoritative but because it reflects a stage of work that has led to my present interests. Instead of listing here the parallel work of my associates in Indo-European poetics (such as Muellner 1976, Watkins 1977, Frame 1978), I prefer to pay them tribute with citations wherever they are in order. For a general introduction to the language of Indo-European poetry: Schmitt 1967 and Durante 1971/1976.

[ back ] 9. I cite again his collected papers, Parry 1971; cf. also Lord 1960/1968.

[ back ] 10. Cf. Nagy 1974:49–102; also Fenik 1968:229 and Lord 1974:193–199.

[ back ] 11. Edwards 1971, with further bibliography.

[ back ] 12. This observation about Pindar (which applies also to Bacchylides) will be developed as my argument proceeds, especially in Chs. 7, 12, 14, 20. We have already had occasion to observe the archaism of Pindaric traditions in the case of Paean 6, as discussed at Ch. 4.

[ back ] 13. Cf. Gentili 1972, esp. p. 73; also Pavese 1967, 1972.

[ back ] 14. For a particularly striking example from Pindaric poetry, see Benveniste 1945 on Pythian 3.45–53.

[ back ] 15. Ch.2§8.

[ back ] 16. Ch.4§6.

[ back ] 17. It is traditional for an archaic poem to begin with a word that names the main subject of the narrative in the manner of a title (in this case, mênis at Iliad I 1), followed by an epithet and a relative clause setting forth the relationship of the title word to the main subject (in this case, how the mênis of Achilles was baneful and caused devastation for the Achaeans, at Iliad I 2–5). Consider also the openings of the Odyssey, Theogony, Works and Days, Little Iliad, and nearly all the Homeric Hymns.

[ back ] 18. The only exception is the mênis of Aeneas against King Priam (ἐπεμήνιε: Iliad XIII 460), which must have been the central theme of another epic tradition—this one featuring Aeneas as its prime hero. See Ch.15§2. On the restriction of mênis to Achilles among the heroes of the Iliad, compare also the use of mémonen ‘he is in a rage’ at Iliad XXI 315 (Ch.20§5n25). For the significance of this restriction from the religious standpoint of god-hero antagonism, see Ch.8§3. On the semantics of mênis: Considine 1966 and Watkins 1977. Adducing the evidence of Homeric diction, Watkins argues that mênis must have resulted from a deformation of *mnā-nis, containing the root *mnā– (*mneə 2) as in mé-mnē-mai ‘to have in mind’. This enlarged root *mnā– is built from *men– as in Greek ménos, an abstract noun indicating a ‘state of mind’ as manifested in such phenomena as ‘power’ (on the semantics: Nagy 1974:266–269) or, as it turns out, ‘anger’. Watkins has found three Iliadic passages (Iliad I 207, 282; XXI 340) where ménos is used not only in the sense of ‘anger’ but also as a functional equivalent of mênis. I would add the evidence of meneaínō ‘be angry, furious, in a rage’, a verb formally derived from this noun ménos (cf. Chantraine III 685). In view of Watkins’s convincing argument that mênis is a reciprocal notion, I cite Iliad XIX 58, where Agamemnon tells Achilles: éridi meneḗnamen ‘we were angry [at each other] in éris‘. The word éris ‘strife’ here refers to their quarrel at the beginning of the Iliad (see further Ch.7§17 and Ch.12§6). Note that Achilles himself predicts at Iliad XIX 63–64 that the Achaeans ‘will long remember’, mn sesthai, the mutual éris between him and Agamemnon (see Ch.19§3). Accordingly, I see no reason to dismiss as adventitious the designation of Agamemnon’s anger against Achilles as mênis at Iliad I 247: Ἀτρεΐδης δ᾽ ἑτέρωθεν ἐμήνιε ‘the son of Atreus, on the other side, had mênis’. The expression ἑτέρωθεν ‘on the other side’ even underscores the reciprocity of the mênis between the heroes. Achilles, however, as the prime hero of the Iliad and as the determinant of its action, is also the determinant of this anger that serves as the epic’s central theme. See now Muellner 1996; also Palmer 1979 and Nagy 1994.

[ back ] 19. Since the word álgea ‘pains’ is announced by the relative clause that expands on the ‘title’ mênis (§8n17), it is a formal as well as functional key.

[ back ] 20. Cf. Nagy 1974:135–137; also Burkert 1977:228.

[ back ] 21. On the relationship of the paiḗōn/paiā́n ‘paean’ to the death of Achilles himself, see Introduction §16; also Ch. 4 (esp. §§4–6), and Ch. 7 (esp. §§4, 24–30).

[ back ] 22. On the strictly regulated subgenre of prayers as quoted within Homeric narrative: Muellner 1976:17–67.

[ back ] 23. By contrast, even Diomedes cannot “ward off the devastation [loigós]” from the ships (λοιγὸν ἀμῦναι), as Achilles observes with satisfaction at Iliad XVI 74–75.

[ back ] 24. On krátos, see §25.

[ back ] 25. On kûdos, see the reference at Ch.4§6n15.

[ back ] 26. See Ch.4§6.

[ back ] 27. See Ch.4§6.

[ back ] 28. See Ch.4§6n14.

[ back ] 29. Cf. Ch.17§5.

[ back ] 30. See Ch.4§7.

[ back ] 31. Ch.4§7.

[ back ] 32. See §2n1.

[ back ] 33. Cf. Introduction §9.

[ back ] 34. For the function of the Moîrai here, compare the etymology of Modern Greek μοιρολόγι/ mirolòyi ‘lamentation’, as discussed by Alexiou 1974:110–128. For her argument that the word is derived from moîra, we may add the evidence from the latter-day Greek dialects in Southern Italy, where the form ta morolòya ‘funeral lamentations’ seems to be derived from the equivalent of classical móros, synonym of moîra. See Rohlfs 1964:334.

[ back ] 35. See Benveniste 1969 II:76–77.

[ back ] 36. Ajax too comes to realize this: Iliad XVI 119–121. Moreover, Homeric diction itself confirms that the presence or absence of krátos on the one or the other military side depends on the Will of Zeus. When the Achaeans briefly and unexpectedly regain the upper hand and almost capture Troy at Iliad XVII 319–322, they almost do so κάρτεϊ καὶ σθένεϊ σφετέρῳ ‘with their own krátos and strength’ (Iliad XVII 322). But this would-be event is designated as ὑπὲρ Διὸς αἶσαν ‘beyond the aîsa [allotment, fate] of Zeus’ (Iliad XVII 321). In other words, it is untraditional, since whatever runs counter to the traditional plot of the narrative is conventionally designated as ‘beyond destiny’: Ch.2§17, Ch.7§21n61, Ch.15§3n12. On the Διὸς βουλή ‘Will of Zeus’ as the traditional plot, see also Ch.7§17 and the comments on Odyssey viii 577–580 at Ch.6§8; cf. Ch.6§24n52 and Ch.10§17. In the present episode, the would-be event of Troy’s capture is not only untraditional; it is also almost accomplished by an untraditional application of krátos, in that the word is here described as being at the disposal of the Achaeans rather than Zeus. For more on the correlation of destiny and krátos, see the discussion of the expression Moîra krataiḗ at §30.

[ back ] 37. For a detailed exposition: Jeanmaire 1939:11–111; see also Vian 1968:59 and Palmer 1955. These references are also important for appreciating the function the ra-wa-ke-ta = *lāu̯āgétās in the Linear B tablets. For detailed studies on Indo-European Männerbund: Wikander 1938 (after Höfler 1934) and Przyluski 1940. On Pindaric lāgétās, see Suárez de la Torre 1977 (and cf. Ch.6§26n53 below).

[ back ] 38. See Yoshida 1964:6 and Vian 1968 passim; cf. Lejeune 1960:139 and 1968:31–32; also Palmer 1955 passim. From the prodigious work of Georges Dumézil on the Indo-European three functions, I cite the one bibliographical entry that is by far the most important collection of comparative source material for students of Greek epic: Dumézil’s Mythe et épopée I (1968). It bears stressing, however, that the value of the evidence presented in this work is strictly comparative in nature. Almost all the evidence is taken from non-Greek epic traditions, and the significance of this comparative material for the study of Greek epic is always implicit and hardly ever made explicit.

[ back ] 39. Sinos 1975:65–81. On the function of the word phílos and its derivatives in Homeric narrative: Benveniste 1969 I:338–353.

[ back ] 40. See Jeanmaire 1939:26–43, esp. pp. 27.

[ back ] 41. On Danaós/Danaaí, see especially Hesiod fr. 128MW, in conjunction with my discussion (Nagy 1973:161) of the element dan– in Ēri-danos. On Argeîoi/Argeíē, see Clader 1976 Ch. III sec. 3, following Frame 1971.

[ back ] 42. See Festugière 1959 for a discussion of the expression μέγαρα κινοῦσιν and of the calendar dating of the káthodos. Cf. also Quinn 1971:146.

[ back ] 43. See again Festugière 1959.

[ back ] 44. I postpone until appendix §8 the problem of the Latin borrowing Achīuī, on the basis of which Akhaió– is conventionally reconstructed as *Akhaiu̯ó-.

[ back ] 45. §§25–26.

[ back ] 46. Cf. §§25–26 above. Note too the frequent application of the adjective krateró– to nouns designating ‘battle’, notably husmī́nē and phū́lopis. Conversely, pólemos ‘war’ is conventionally designated in Homeric diction as dusēkhḗs ‘having bad ákhos’ (on which see Chantraine I 302). At Iliad XVIII 242, phū́ lopis is designated as krater and its synonym pólemos as homoíios. Whatever the etymology of homoíios (see Chantraine III 799), it seems to convey the theme that the evil of war afflicts all (cf. Iliad XVIII 309).

[ back ] 47. On the correlation of fate and krátos: §25n36.

[ back ] 48. Cf. krataigúaloi ‘whose plates are firm = have krátos’ (Iliad XIX 361), applying to thṓrēkes ‘breastplates’, and kartaí-poda ‘whose feet are firm = have krátos’ (Gortynian Code IV 36), applying to larger cattle rather than próbata = sheep and goats; cf. Pindar Olympian 13.81, where kartaí-pod’ designates a bull. The translation ‘firm’ for kratai– in kartaípod– and kartaí-pedo– is perhaps overly specific. More simply, the notion of krátos mediates between the foot and its footing. In the case of kartaí-pedo– even a floor has krátos by way of giving a firm footing. As for krataí-pod-, compare khalkó-pod– ‘whose hooves are of bronze’ (Iliad VIII 41), applying to horses. Here too, the emphasis seems to be on firmness as a mark of superiority; cf. krater-ṓnukh– ‘whose hooves/ claws have krátos’, applying to horses (Iliad V 329, etc.), asses (Odyssey vi 253), and wolves (Odyssey x 218).

[ back ] 49. See Bechtel 1917:256.

[ back ] 50. For the term, see Nussbaum 1976.

[ back ] 51. On the basis of the Greek evidence, I see no need to posit, as does Benveniste (1969 II 77–83), the conflation of two separate roots in this system. The notion of ‘firm, hard’ (cf. n. 48) is not necessarily at odds with krátos in the sense of ‘superiority in a trial of strength’ (Benveniste’s working definition: 1969 II 77 = 1973:362). Even kratúnō, which Benveniste translates as ‘harden’, can be interpreted further as ‘prepare for superiority = krátos’; hence such direct objects as phálangas ‘phalanxes’ in the Iliad (XI 215).

[ back ] 52. Schmitt (1967:112n685) has noticed an interesting detail: as an epithet, krateró– is a variant of hieró– in combinations with the noun ī́s + genitive of the hero’s name (as periphrasis for the plain name). Thus we find kraterḕī̀s Odusêos at Iliad XXIII 720 besides hierḕ ī̀s Tēlemákhoio at Odyssey ii 409, xviii 405, etc. Note also krateròn ménos + genitive of the hero’s name at Iliad XVI 189 and XXIII 837 besides hieròn ménos + genitive of the hero’s name at Odyssey vii 167, viii 2, etc. (At Hymn to Apollo 371 hieròn ménos combines with the genitive of Ēélios ‘Sun’.) In the case of hieró-, we may confidently reconstruct *isə-ro-, so that the vowel e seems to be a reflex of *ə (see Schmitt, pp. 111–114). The construction of hieró– + noun meaning ‘power’ + genitive of name is not only a periphrasis of the simple name but also an obviation of a Caland System compound formation with *isə-i- as the first member; see Schmitt, pp. 111 n. 678. Schmitt accordingly posits a bahuvrīhi epithet *isəi-ménes– as the basis for the periphrasis hieròn ménos (+ genitive of the name described by this epithet). In view of the parallelism hieròn/krateròn + ménos in Homeric diction, we may perhaps also posit * kr̥ təi-ménes-. The attested name Kratai-ménēs would be only an indirect reflex, however; *kr ̥ təi– should yield krati-. The compound element kratai-/kartai– seems to be a conflation of *kr ̥ ti– (from *kr ̥ təi -) and *kr ̥ ta– (from *kr ̥ -, without –i-), and the latter seems to be attested as the adverb kárta ‘very’. As Alan Nussbaum points out to me, it is possible for elements of the Caland System, when they appear as the first member of compounds, to bear the suffix *-ə 2– in place of the more usual *-i-: consider alkă– as in Alkắ-thoos (Homeric: Iliad XII 93, etc.) and Alkă-ménēs (Bechtel 1917:35) besides alkĭ– as in alkĭ́-phrōn, Alkĭ-ménēs, etc. For an example of a compound without either connecting vowels *-i- or *- ə 2-, consider Homeric aîth-ops as compared to Aithí-ops.

[ back ] 53. See §23.

[ back ] 54. The name Akhai-ménēs may be attested in Linear B as a-ka-me-ne (Knossos tablet X 82 + 8136), although other readings of this spelling are also possible. See Chadwick/Baumbach 1963:178. Compare also krataiós and kratai– with araiós and arai-. The latter is attested in the Homeric place name Arai-thuréē (Iliad II 571), the meaning of which is something like ‘whose entrance is narrow’; cf. araiḕeísodos ‘narrow entrance’ at Odyssey x 90. For thúrai in the sense of ‘entrance’, see Odyssey ix 243, etc.

[ back ] 55. On the cult of the hero Althai-ménēs at Rhodes: Rohde I 116 and n. 1.

[ back ] 56. For a discussion of these forms: Chantraine 1968:60.

[ back ] 57. Cf. Strömberg 1940:82.

[ back ] 58. The kakón ‘bad thing’ here at Iliad IX 250 turns out to be the death of Patroklos, which is again predicted as a kakón at Iliad XI 604.

[ back ] 59. For more on Achīuī, see appendix §8. As for the Hittite form Aḫḫii̯au̯a-, there is no convincing evidence to prove any connection with the Greek word for ‘Achaean’: Steiner 1964.

[ back ] 60. Chadwick/Baumbach 1963:178.

[ back ] 61. Appendix §§1–2.

[ back ] 62. See §31n52.

[ back ] 63. See §31n52.

[ back ] 64. Appendix §§3–7.

[ back ] 65. For the adjective, see Anecdota Graeca (ed. J. A. Cramer) 318.5 and Eustathius 1938:1; for the name, see Bechtel 1917:256.

[ back ] 66. §§25–26, 30.

[ back ] 67. See also Iliad X 145, likewise referring to the plight of the Achaeans (cf. Iliad X 172).

[ back ] 68. For the notion that a victim can be afflicted by the bíē of the enemy, cf. Iliad XI 467: Menelaos fears that the Trojans are overcoming Odysseus with bíē (biṓiato), since he is alone. Consider also expressions like ḕ thanátōi biētheìs ḕ noúsōi ‘overcome by the bíē of either death or disease’ (Herodotus 7.83).

[ back ] 69. So also with athletics: in order to win, the athlete needs both bíē and krátos (Hesiod Theogony 437); cf. Pindar Isthmian 8.5.

[ back ] 70. Above, §28.

[ back ] 71. The poem itself is a response to hḗbē ‘bloom of youth’. Its words say that whoever turns his thoughts to hḗbē, which is erasmíē ‘lovely’, will dance to the sound of the flute. For a parallel correlation of song and dance, cf. Odyssey i 421–423.

[ back ] 72. Ch.1§4n9. Again, cf. also Odyssey i 421–423.

[ back ] 73. There are also other instances in Archilochean poetry where the function of a character seems to be conveyed by his name: see especially Ch.12§21 on Lukámbēs. Cf. also the poetic function of the patronymic Terpiádēs: Ch.1§4n9.

[ back ] 74. For an introduction to the relationship of noun kháris and verb khaírō ‘be well, be glad, be happy’, see Latacz 1966:125–127.

[ back ] 75. Ch.1§5n12, Ch.2§13n40.

[ back ] 76. Ch.1§5n12, Ch.2§13n40. On the notion of reciprocity conveyed by kháris, see Benveniste 1969 I:199–202.

[ back ] 77. For the text, see Ch.1§5. On the theme of eüphrosúnē ‘mirth’ in the community, see also Ch.1§5. On the dêmos as the community/audience of Dēmódokos, see Ch.1§4n9.

[ back ] 78. See further at Ch.13§2.

[ back ] 79. On lāós: §27 above.

[ back ] 80. §21.

[ back ] 81. §§9–11.

[ back ] 82. Nilsson 1906:466–467, with further references; also Usener 1912/1913 [= 1875]:116–119 on the parallel Italic ritual of saecula condere.

[ back ] 83. Glotz 1904:ix, 64; Gernet 1968 [= 1928] 58, [1948–1949] 231–232.

[ back ] 84. §2n4. I leave the accent of Kharila unmarked because I cannot verify the quantity of the last syllable. We are impeded here by the fact that this name is attested only in the text of Plutarch.