In his recent Classical Inquiries posting, Gregory Nagy focuses on Iliad Scroll 4 and shares a sampling of selected comments with his readers. Nagy’s commentary will be incorporated into a larger, forthcoming project: A Homer commentary in progress.
tagging: therapōn ‘attendant, ritual substitute’; Eurymedon; Sthenelos; Patroklos; chariot driver/fighter
In this first Iliadic attestation of therapōn in the singular, we see at first only the surface meaning, ‘attendant’. But there are traces here of the deeper meaning, ‘ritual substitute’. In Iliadic battle scenes, a chariot driver sometimes takes the hit, as it were, for the chariot fighter who ordinarily rides with him on the platform of the war chariot. In taking the hit, the chariot driver would die for the chariot fighter, and, in this role, the chariot driver is sometimes described as a therapōn of the chariot fighter. Thus the chariot driver becomes the ‘ritual substitute’ as well as ‘attendant’ of the chariot fighter. See Nagy CI_2015.05.01 and CI_2015.05.08. Such is the relationship between Achilles as chariot fighter and Patroklos as his premier chariot driver and therapōn in the dual sense of ‘ritual substitute’ and ‘attendant’: see H24H 6§§24–42.