Achilles and Patroclus as Indo-European Twins: Homer’s Take

[Forthcoming in Gemini and the Sacred: Twins and Twinship in Religion and Mythology, edited by Kimberley C. Patton (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022).]
There are two forms of the Indo-European twin myth relevant to the story of Patroclus and Achilles in the Iliad. In one the twins remain together, in the other they separate. The Greek Dioscuri remain together, and the dynamic between them is the following: Castor, who is mortal, dies in battle, and Polydeuces, who is immortal, brings him back to life, and ever after they alternate daily between life and death together. In the second form of the myth one twin again dies but his brother, instead of bringing him back to life, takes his place as a warrior. When Patroclus takes Achilles’ place in battle Achilles is of course not dead, but only out of action. Nevertheless Patroclus’s deed is viewed in the Iliad through the prism of this second form of the twin myth. [1]
The aged counselor Nestor instigates Patroclus to take Achilles’ place. He tells Patroclus a story of his own youthful heroism and then urges Patroclus either to rouse his companion or to take his place. These are the alternatives of the Indo-European twin myth transferred to an analogous relationship, that of a warrior and his therapōn. [2] Nestor himself, although his myth is well disguised in Homer, is the chief exponent of the twin who takes his brother’s place, and the story that he tells Patroclus is at bottom this. [3]
In his story Nestor tells how he first became a warrior. He had eleven brothers and Heracles killed all of them when he sacked Pylos. This left Pylos prey to hostile neighbors until Nestor went out to meet these neighbors in battle and defeated them. Left unsaid in Nestor’s account is the name of his brother Periclymenus, who alone had been more than a match for Heracles until Heracles finally undid him (the Odyssey names Periclymenus, and Hesiodic fragments tell of his fight with Heracles). This was the mighty warrior whose place Nestor took. [4]
When Indo-European twins are viewed as a pair they are both saviors of distressed mortals and they are both horsemen. Again the Dioscuri. In a Homeric hymn addressed to the Dioscuri sailors caught in a storm call on the divine twins and they come at once through the air in their horse-drawn chariot. The Vedic divine twins provide a close comparison. Cognate with the Dios kouroi,“sons of Zeus,” the Vedic twins, whose epithet divo napātā, “off-spring of Dyaus,” makes them sons of the same Indo-European sky-god, are saviors and healers on the one hand (they too save mortals at sea) and, on the other hand, their chariot is a fixed feature in their hymns. Their two names, both in the dual, relate to their two attributes: Aśvinā, meaning “horsemen,” occurs most frequently; Nāsatyā, meaning “saviors,” occurs less frequently, but is demonstrably old. The meaning of Nāsatyā, which was probably no longer understood in Vedic, emerges from a widely accepted comparison with Germanic cognates, in particular the Gothic verb nasjan, “to save.” [5]
Characteristics shared by the twins when they are viewed as a pair become characteristics of one of them in contrast to the other when they are viewed as distinct. As a pair both Greek twins are Dios kouroi, “sons of Zeus,” but individually only Polydeuces is Zeus’ son, and Castor is the son of the mortal Tyndareus. The Vedic twins are viewed almost exclusively as a pair (in their ritual they are invoked to come to their sacrifice as a pair, and in their rescue myths they are likewise seen acting as a pair), but an exceptional verse of the Rig Veda says that only one of the twins was called the “son of Dyaus,” and that the other was called the son of Sumakha, an otherwise unknown figure, but presumably a mortal like Tyndareus. Dual paternity, a wide-spread feature in twin myths, often contrasts a god with a mortal, and in the Indo-European myth this was evidently the case. In the Greek myth the twins themselves are contrasted as immortal to mortal, and this contrast underlies yet further contrasts. The twins’ characterization as “horsemen” becomes the characteristic of the mortal Castor alone, who is represented as a warrior in contrast to his brother, and who has the distinctive epithet in epic “breaker of horses.” On the other hand the twins’ characterization as “saviors” becomes the attribute of Polydeuces alone when the mortal Castor dies in battle and the immortal Polydeuces brings him back to life. This is the central myth of the Dioscuri, and it is likely to have been Indo-European as well. The myth is not directly attested in Vedic, given the Vedic constraint against representing the twins individually, but it can be inferred from a patterned use of their two names in their hymns. Sanskrit epic, which, as we know it, postdates the Vedic hymns, preserves distinctions between the twins which are ignored in Vedic, and here we find the equivalent of Castor, the warrior “horseman.” In the epic Mahābhārata the twin gods are fathers of two of the heroes of the poem, the twins Nakula and Sahadeva, and Nakula is differentially characterized as a warrior and a horseman. The divine twins themselves must have been similarly differentiated, and in the Vedic verse mentioned above, in which one twin is called the son of Sumakha, there is a clear sign of this: this twin is also called “conquering,” and his father’s name, Sumakha, means something like “good warrior.” In epic the warrior twin’s brother, Sahadeva, is characterized by “intelligence” and associated with “cattle.” The contrast between horses and cattle that characterizes the epic twins Nakula and Sahadeva is also found in the hymns of the Vedic twins, and is paired there with a contrast between their two dual names: the name Aśvinā, “the horsemen,” is naturally paired with the idea of “horses,” and the name Nāsatyā is paired with the idea of “cattle.” This means that the twins, who are both “saviors/healers” (i.e. Nāsatyā) when viewed as a pair, must have had the same myth as the Dioscuri when viewed as distinct: one twin must have been mortal, and the other twin, the immortal son of the sky-god Dyaus, must have brought his mortal brother back to life when he died in battle. This correspondence with the Dioscuri establishes the Greek myth as also the Indo-European myth in all likelihood.
The epic twin Sahadeva, who is associated with “cattle” and is characterized by “intelligence,” preserves basic features of the immortal twin in the Indo-European stage of the myth. In Vedic cattle are associated with the name Nāsatyā, and Sahadeva’s father is thus to be seen as a singular Nāsatya (“savior”), who brings a singular Aśvin (“horseman”) back to life. The “intelligence” of this twin is connected with the miraculous cure of his brother if we draw an inference from the divine twins as a pair. As “saviors” and “healers” of mortals they are called dasrā bhiṣajau, “miracle-working physicians” in their hymns, and the epithet dasrā, “miracle-working,” actually means “skillful, clever” in terms of its Iranian cognate and Indo-European root. The epithet dasrā, which combines the notions of “intelligence” and “miraculous cures,” functions just like the name Nāsatyā in oppositions between cattle and horses in the twins’ hymns. The upshot of this functional equivalence between the epithet dasrā and name Nāsatyā is that a singular Nāsatya must have had both “intelligence” and a “miraculous cure” to his credit. The immortal twin’s “intelligence”, which in Indic is evidenced by the epic hero Sahadeva and in the Vedic twins’ epithet dasrā (both the hero and the epithet are associated with cattle), also belonged to the Indo-European myth. In Greek Polydeuces is characterized by “intelligence.” He is called “good with his fists” in Homer, and his skill as a boxer is presented as a matter of “intelligence” in his bout with the giant Amykos, a well-attested myth in later tradition. Polydeuces’ son’s name, Mnāsinoos, “he who remembers mind (noos),” occurred on two archaic sculptures in the Peloponnesus according to Pausanias, and like the names of other sons of famous fathers (Astyanax, Telemachus) it is the father’s attribute that is expressed in this son’s name.
In the Indo-European myth the immortal twin brought the mortal twin back to life, and this was a matter of “intelligence” if the Vedic twins’ paired epithets dasrā bhiṣajau, “skillful healers,” are a guide. In the Greek immortal twin Polydeuces and the Sanskrit epic hero Sahadeva “intelligence” manifests itself as a generalized attribute, but the origin of this attribute in the central myth of the Indo-European twins can be inferred. Cattle are differentially associated with the non-horseman twin in Indic on the evidence of both epic (the cattleman Sahadeva in contrast to the horseman Nakula) and Vedic (the twins’ name Nāsatyā and epithet dasrā, both contrasted with the name Aśvinā in oppositions between cattle and horses). In Greek the central myth of the Dioscuri has two episodes, a cattle-raid and a battle. The cattle-raid is a success, but the ensuing battle causes the death of the mortal warrior Castor. While Castor, “breaker of horses,” is explicitly associated with horses, Polydeuces is not explicitly associated with cattle, but the two episodes of their central myth can be traced to an opposition between the twins themselves in the Indo-European myth.
The Dioscuri are the best guide to what the primary form of the Indo-European twin myth was. The secondary form of this myth, to which Nestor is the guide, [6] presupposes the myth’s primary form and plays against it. This was well appreciated by the Homeric poets, as Book 11 of the Odyssey shows. [7] Here Odysseus meets a group of dead heroines in the underworld who tell him of their offspring, and it is not an accident that Nestor and the Dioscuri are found side by side in the passages devoted to their mothers. The two heroines in question come exactly halfway through this “catalogue of heroines,” and their respective passages relate to each other in significant ways. Leda, who comes next after Nestor’s mother Chloris in the catalogue, gave birth “under Tyndareus” to “horse-breaking” Castor and to Polydeuces, “good with his fists”; both twins are said to be alive though held fast by the earth; even under the earth they receive honor from Zeus, living and dying on alternate days, and having a share in sacrifices like gods. This is the essential résumé of the Indo-European twins in the primary form of their myth: dual paternity (alluded to, if not spelled out in this passage); an opposition between mortality, including burial, on the one hand, and immortality, including divine worship, on the other hand; the mortal twin’s association with horses, and thereby with war; the immortal twin’s distinctive pursuit, a matter of brains over brawn, requiring skill with the two hands. Whereas attention is focused squarely on the Dioscuri in the passage devoted to Leda (nothing about Leda herself is said apart from her being Tyndareus’s wife), the passage directed at Nestor and his myth gives only what is necessary and sufficient for the purpose, the name of his warrior brother Periclymenus together with Nestor’s own name, and the name of a third brother as well (the third brother, a cipher, is a nod to the tradition found in Iliad 11 that Nestor had eleven brothers—Nestor’s twin myth, I repeat, is always disguised). This is the only time in Homer that Periclymenus is named, and his name is sufficient to evoke Nestor’s variant of the twin myth, which is in stark contrast to the Dioscuri (Periclymenus, unlike the Dioscuri, did not go on living once he was beneath the earth). Attention in this passage is diverted from its main point, Nestor and his myth, to Chloris herself, about whom (in contrast to Leda) we hear a good deal (father, place of birth, rank as youngest daughter, marriage, subsequent rule in a new city). This lore about Chloris precedes the birth of Nestor and his brothers in the text, and what follows their birth in the text makes a climactic connection with Leda and the Dioscuri, who come next. Like Leda, who had a daughter Helen besides the two Dioscuri, Chloris had a daughter Pero besides her sons; and like Helen, whom the whole heroic world wooed, Pero was wooed by all her neighbors. Again like Helen, who was successfully wooed by a pair of brothers, Agamemnon wooing for Menelaos, Pero was successfully wooed by a pair of brothers, Melampus wooing for Bias. Pero and the myth of her wooing end the passage about Chloris, and when Leda is named in the following line of the catalogue one is immediately reminded of her daughter as well. The fact that her daughter, Helen, is passed over in silence, whereas Pero’s story is explicitly evoked, is what binds the two passages together. Pero is the only daughter mentioned in the catalogue of heroines, which otherwise features sons, and her presence has a meaning. There is more to say about this female figure in relation to twins. [8] The Indo-European twin myth entailed a triad: the two brothers had a sister who was also their common wife. In Baltic tradition, where “sons of the sky-god” still persist in the Latvian dieva deli and Lithuanian dievo suneliai, the sister of the twins is the “daughter of the sun,” Latvian saules meita and Lithuanian saules dukterys. In Vedic this female figure is the common wife of the twins (they are called her wooers) and here too she is called the “daughter of the sun,” duhitā sūryasya. In Greek the twins’ double relationship to the female figure as both sister and wife is split into two different relationships: Helen is sister to one pair of brothers, but is wooed by another pair of brothers. Nestor and his sister follow the Greek pattern. There is more to say about what binds Nestor and the Dioscuri in the catalogue of heroines in Odyssey 11, beginning with the fact that twins are found in four other passages of the catalogue (Neleus and Pelias, Amphion and Zethos, Heracles, [9] Otos and Ephialtes), but to address this fact account must be taken of a second fact, namely that the original Ionian version of the catalogue has undergone an extensive Athenian overlay. The Ionian catalogue, without the Athenian overlay, points directly at Nestor and his myth by its structure, which is double in form. [10]
The key point in Nestor’s myth is his characterization as a “horseman.” In the aftermath of Heracles’ sack of Pylos there was no Pylian champion to keep marauding neighbors at bay. As Nestor tells the story to Patroclus in Iliad 11, cattle-raids had nearly drained the life from his city before he came on the scene. His story features two episodes, and in both he is the central figure. The first is a cattle-raid, in which the Pylians won back their livelihood, indeed their life, and the second is a battle between horsemen, in which the Pylians routed their neighbors when the neighbors came in force soon after. This two-fold structure, featuring cattle and horses in distinct episodes, is the same as in the central myth of the Dioscuri, but here the secondary form of the myth is at play. Nestor carries out the cattle-raid single-handedly, no brother having survived at his side, and then, when his cattle-raid provokes a war, he becomes a warrior as well, taking his brother’s place and in effect becoming two twins in one. Nestor’s story emphasizes that he became a “horseman” for the first time in this battle. When Nestor wants to join the Pylians rushing from their city to confront the enemy horsemen, his father hides his horses. Nestor goes anyway, on foot, and keeps pace with the Pylian horsemen until the armies clash, when Nestor at once kills the leader of the enemy horsemen and seizes his chariot. Sweeping ahead like a whirlwind in his newly won chariot Nestor proves that he is the equal of two twins at once by single-handedly capturing fifty chariots and slaying the double occupants of each chariot. The champions on the enemy’s side, the twins known as the Aktorione Molione, would also have met their end under Nestor’s spear if their father Poseidon had not saved them. In this virtual encounter with twins Nestor’s own twin myth becomes all but overt. By taking his brother’s place he has in effect become two twins in one.
In Homer Nestor is called “the Gerenian horseman Nestor.” The epithet “Gerenian” is obscure, but it seems to relate to the Homeric figure’s old age and to the honor that old age has brought him. Behind the aged Nestor of relatively recent epic tradition is the young Nestor of older epic tradition, and that figure was simply “horseman Nestor,” hippota Nestōr. This epithet and noun combination is cognate with the two names of the Vedic twin gods, Aśvinā and Nāsatyā. While corresponding names and epithet are differently formed, they match each other in terms of roots: the word for “horse” (Sanskrit aśvas and Greek hippos from Indo-European *ekwos) on the one hand, and an Indo-European verbal root (*nes-) on the other hand. Greek “Nestor” is “he who brings home,” his name containing the verbal root of Greek nostos, “return home.” [11] One can see the salvific function of the Homeric Nestor in the Odyssey, the nostos poem as opposed to the war poem of the two paired Homeric epics. Here Nestor himself tells the story of the Greeks’ nostoi, “returns,” from Troy, and in his story he reveals himself as “savior” of the hero Diomedes, and as pointedly “not savior” of the hero Odysseus. [12] Behind the notion of “homecoming” in the Greek nostos tradition lies the notion of “returning to life,” and in terms of the Indo-European twin myth, “Nestor” means “he who brings back to life,” corresponding to the Vedic name Nāsatyā, and to the myth in which a singular Nāsatya once brought his mortal brother back to life. As the equivalent of this Nāsatya in the secondary form of the twin myth, Nestor both does and does not act out his name in relation to the heroes Diomedes and Odysseus, but in his own basic myth he cannot act out his name: his myth is not to bring his brother back to life, but to take his brother’s place. Odysseus experiences this negative side to Nestor in his own failed relationship with him after Troy.
In the comparison between hippota Nestōr and the Aśvinā Nāsatyā, one point remains unaddressed, namely the “intelligence” of the Vedic twin properly called Nāsatya. The idea that the “intelligence” of this twin is bound up with his bringing his brother back to life, as is implied by the combined epithets dasrā bhiṣajau, “skilled physicians,” characterizing both twins as a pair, gains more precise definition in Greek, where the noun noos, “mind,” is seen to be a close equivalent of the name Nestōr in terms of its etymology and semantics: if Nestōr is originally “he who brings back to life,” the noun noos (reconstructed as *nos-os, with the same verbal root as nos-tos, “return,” but in the active sense seen in Nestōr) means a “bringing back to life,” and originally probably designated “consciousness.” The Homeric Nestor, as counselor of the Greeks, has not only “intelligence,” but an affinity with the word noos itself, and it is in his story about his own homecoming in the Odyssey that the connection is played out at the most significant level. [13]
When Nestor in Iliad 11 tells Patroclus to rouse his warrior companion Achilles, or, failing that, to take his warrior companion’s place in battle, he has already given Patroclus the paradigm to follow in his own story, which is the story of how “Nestor” became “horseman Nestor” by taking the place of his fallen warrior brother. Patroclus does not put Nestor’s exhortation into effect until Iliad 16, when he finally returns to Achilles. When he does so he repeats Nestor’s exhortation, but only the second part of it, to send Patroclus into battle in Achilles’ place. Introducing this dramatic speech the poet addresses Patroclus directly with an epithet which occurs here for the first time of Patroclus in the poem, and which, together with a closely equivalent epithet, occurs six more times of him before he is finally slain, and not again after that. Both epithets mean “horseman,” and the vocative phrase “Patroclus horseman,” spoken by the poet five times, by Achilles once, and by a mocking Hector impersonating Achilles a final time, clearly evokes the phrase “horseman Nestor” in spite of differences between Nestor’s epithet, hippota, and the two vocatives in question, hippeu and hippokeleuthe. The meaning of Nestor’s story in Iliad 11 leads directly to the use of these two epithets of Patroclus in Iliad 16.
Parallels between Nestor and Patroclus are deliberately constructed throughout their encounter in Iliad 11, and in the wider context of their encounter, which culminates in Iliad 16. The episode that sets the stage for their encounter begins on the battlefield when Nestor is called on to rescue the hero Makhaon, struck in the shoulder by Paris’s arrow, on his chariot. This is one of two episodes in the Iliad in which “horseman Nestor” takes part in the action as a still active “horseman,” driving his chariot from the battlefield back to the ships. Achilles sends Patroclus to find out who the wounded hero on Nestor’s chariot is, and the stage is set for the encounter between Nestor and Patroclus to ensue. Nestor in this prelude to his meeting with Patroclus is not only a “horseman,” but also a “savior, healer.” He treats Makhaon in his tent with an all but magical elixir, such that when Patroclus arrives doctor and patient are already enjoying a pleasant conversation together. Despite the separation in time and place we are here in the domain of the “miracle-working doctors” of the Vedic pantheon. Makhaon and his brother Podaleirios, who is also with the Greek army at Troy, are themselves twins, and they are also both doctors, Podaleirios (as the epic cycle attests) a specialist in mental diseases, and Makhaon a surgeon who treats wounded bodies. Nestor has here rescued a “mortal” twin cast straight from the Indo-European mold. Even his name Makhaon, “fighter,” bears this out. Nestor as the “savior” and “healer” of Makhaon (they form a Dioscuric pair for the limited time of this episode) sets the pattern for Patroclus, who immediately after his encounter with Nestor becomes the “savior” and “healer” of a second victim of Paris’s arrows, the hero Eurypylos. Incited by what Nestor has told him to do, Patroclus hastens to return to Achilles, but he stops out of pity to treat Eurypylos, who has dragged himself from the battlefield with a grave wound to his thigh. Like Nestor, Patroclus has the necessary medical knowledge, and in tending to Eurypylos he is kept immobilized for the time. Further losses to the Achaeans bring the battle closer to the ships as the narrative continues, and both Nestor and Patroclus must leave their patients to the care of others and return to the war. Again Nestor and Patroclus are presented in parallel, Nestor leaving Makhaon in Iliad 14 to join the retreating Achaean leaders in council, Patroclus leaving Eurypylos in Iliad 15 to persuade Achilles to send him into battle and save the Achaeans from disaster.
Patroclus and Achilles are not twins, however much their story is viewed through the prism of Nestor’s twin myth. The category of “intelligence” illustrates the limits of the twin myth as a paradigm for this pair of Iliadic comrades. On the one hand something like the distinction between the “intelligence” of the immortal twin and the “warlike” nature of the mortal twin of the Indo-European myth is found in Nestor’s speech to Patroclus when he reminds Patroclus of the time before the war. Nestor and Odysseus went then together to Phthia to recruit Achilles and Patroclus for the war, and Nestor repeats what the father of each one said, Peleus telling Achilles always to excel in war, Menoitios telling Patroclus, as the older of the two, to advise Achilles for the good. However, the essential difference here is not “intelligence,” but age. Patroclus’s medical skill likewise seems to line up with the immortal twin in contrast to the mortal twin of the Indo-European myth, but in fact it does not. As we learn in the episode with Eurypylos, it was Achilles who taught Patroclus his medical skill, and Achilles himself learned it from the centaur Chiron. Achilles’ education at the feet of the wise centaur Chiron is testimony to Achilles’ own intelligence. An even more important difference from the twin myth, as exemplified by Nestor and his brother Periclymenus, is that Achilles has not died when Patroclus takes his place, but only removed himself from action. The most important difference of all, however, is on Patroclus’s side, for unlike Nestor, who survived the battle in which he took his brother’s place, Patroclus does not survive the battle in which he takes Achilles’ place. This difference gives to the carefully balanced parallels between Patroclus and Nestor in the Iliad an underlying sense of disequilibrium. It is not too much to say that Nestor, in giving Patroclus a paradigm to follow, is responsible for his death. Since everything of significance in the relationship between Nestor and Patroclus is implied rather than stated in the Iliad (I have yet to point out that Nestor tells how he first became a horseman as if the story pertained to Achilles rather than to Patroclus, its real object) Nestor does not bear responsibility for Patroclus’s death on the surface of the poem. But at Patroclus’s funeral games it is not an accident that the main contest is the chariot race and that Nestor is again on hand, in both the foreground and the background, throughout this race. [14] At the very end of the contest, when every contestant has received a prize, Achilles awards an unexpectedly vacant prize to Nestor, saying that it is a memorial of Patroclus, whom the old man will not see again. Nestor accepts the prize gladly and thanks Achilles warmly, saying that he is too old to compete as he once did at funeral games for a long dead king near home. He says that on that distant day he won all the contests except one, the chariot race. The “horseman Nestor” lost only the chariot race on that day—this should get our attention—, and he lost it to the same twins whom he met on the battlefield—or rather did not meet on the battlefield—on a different day, when he became hippota Nestor for the first time. The reason for Nestor’s loss in that chariot race is not stated, except that he was outnumbered by the twins, who each had a different function in the race: while one twin held the reins, the other twin used the whip. This is just enough to work out what Nestor’s race must have been, and what its relevance to Patroclus and his fate is, but the story is a complex one, and is best left to one side. [15] The main point is already clear: Nestor’s loss came about because he had lost his brother, a warrior and a horseman, and had not yet learned to take his place, and was therefore outmatched as one against two in the race; Patroclus’s death came about because he too, at Nestor’s instigation, became separated from his warrior companion, but in Patroclus’s case, unlike Nestor’s, there was to be no day of redemption. Nestor without his twin failed only in games; he later made his loss good on the battlefield, when he showed himself to be the equal of two twins in one, thereby becoming hippota Nestor. When Patroclus failed to make a turn on the battlefield—Achilles had told him not to try to take Troy by himself— it was not on a race course, but already on the battlefield, and the result was fatal. In the end Patroclus is not an Indo-European twin, and his fate, which differs from Nestor’s, should be seen in a different light: Patroclus’s story is cast in terms of the Indo-European twin myth, but his fate is better viewed from the perspective of the Anatolian ritual substitute.


[ back ] 1. I developed this argument in a study called Hippota Nestor (Hellenic Studies 37. Cambridge MA and Washington DC, 2009, online, and referred to below as HN.
[ back ] 2. In the companion piece to this article Gregory Nagy investigates the nature of this relationship in its own right. The Anatolian borrowing that lies behind Greek therapōn, “attendant,” belongs to the second millennium BC. The Indo-European twin myth can be thought of as belonging, at latest, to the second half of the third millennium BC.
[ back ] 3. Nestor’s myth is the chief object of HN, Parts 1 and 2 (Chapters 1–7).
[ back ] 4. Nestor’s story in Iliad 11 is discussed in HN, Chapters 1 and 4.
[ back ] 5. The Vedic twins are discussed in HN, Chapter 3; for the Indo-European twin myth the basic comparison is between the Vedic twins and the Greek Dioscuri, but there is also important Baltic evidence, discussed with the Vedic and Greek evidence in Chapter 3.
[ back ] 6. This is the basic thesis of HN; cf. n. 3 above.
[ back ] 7. See HN, Chapters 1 and 7.
[ back ] 8. She is discussed in HN, Chapter 3.
[ back ] 9. Heracles’ brother is not named in the passage, but his brother’s father is: Amphitryon is father of the mortal Iphicles, whereas Zeus is the father of the immortal Heracles.
[ back ] 10. The difference between the Ionian and Athenian versions of the catalogue of heroines in Odyssey 11 is crucial for an understanding of the history of the Homeric text from the eighth to the sixth centuries BC, and is argued in detail in HN, Chapter 7.
[ back ] 11. The derivation and semantics of the name Nestōr are considered fully in HN, Chapter 2. The name, which lost all significance in the post-Homeric period, is deeply meaningful in Homer (see next note). It is Homeric formulaic diction, properly understood, that clinches the force of the verbal root in Nestor’s name, a point not sufficiently appreciated by those unversed in historical linguistic methods.
[ back ] 12. This is discussed in HN, Chapter 6.
[ back ] 13. See previous note.
[ back ] 14. The chariot race in the funeral games for Patroclus in Iliad 23 is discussed in detail in HN, Chapter 6.
[ back ] 15. The unspoken point in the chariot race for Patroclus is that Nestor, in his chariot race against the twins, crashed at the turning post. This youthful crash of Nestor’s underlies every aspect of the race in Iliad 23; see previous note.