New Light on the Homeric Question: The Phaeacians Unmasked

Douglas Frame
§1. If the Homeric Question is a matter of identifying the circumstances in which the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed on a monumental scale, that question, to the minds of most, has not yet been satisfactorily answered. In a book published in 2009 about the Homeric figure Nestor I proposed an answer to this long-standing question which I wish to present in more concentrated form here. [1] Before doing so, however, I must first state, in all candor, that I would not have completed my work on Nestor had I not spent the last twelve years at the Center for Hellenic Studies under the inspired directorship of Gregory Nagy. Our common interest in Homer made for the most favorable atmosphere imaginable in which to develop and articulate an extended argument like the one of my book. Our different approaches to certain Homeric issues never proved an issue between us, thanks largely to Greg’s generosity of spirit, to which the present collection of articles and essays bears eloquent witness. These tributes are richly deserved, and not least in my case.


§2. To return to the Homeric Question, the crux of the matter is the identity of the Phaeacians, the fabulous people of the Odyssey who are Odysseus’s final stopping point before his return home. They lie midway between the reality of Ithaca, a known location in the Greek world, [2] and the unreality of Odysseus’s whereabouts during his ten years of wandering. Calypso’s isle, the point of departure for Odysseus’s return home at the end of his long absence, represents the opposite pole to Ithaca on the scale of reality; and with Calypso go the Cyclopes, Circe, and virtually everything else in the tale of Odysseus’s wanderings, none of which could have been put on a map by the Homeric audience. [3]   The great majority of Homeric locations, by contrast with those that Odysseus encounters, are real; with Ithaca at this end of the scale go Troy and Mycenae, Pylos and Sparta, Egypt and Phoenicia, not to mention all the places in the Catalogue of Ships, and more.
§3. The Phaeacians mediate between the unreal world of Odysseus’s wanderings and the real world of the Homeric audience without belonging to either one. [4] They are able to enter the real world when they bring Odysseus home to Ithaca, just as they once brought Rhadamanthys to Euboea, at the center of the known Greek world. On the other hand they once lived close to the Cyclopes, before moving away from those dangerous neighbors, presumably more in the direction of the real world. In Homer the impression is given that the Phaeacians, although they live “far from men,” are nevertheless occasionally visited by men, for their special function is to provide conveyance to anyone who happens to reach them. The implication is that they can be reached, if only one knew how. The Phaeacians live in a liminal place between the real and the unreal, and their nature is likewise liminal. They are mortals, as is made explicit more than once, but they are also ankhitheoi, “close to the gods,” and this description, however vague, puts them closer to the divide between men and gods than is the case for ordinary mortals.
§4. Locating the Phaeacians in relation to the known Greek world is one issue. Locating them in relation to Greek epic tradition is another. The Phaeacians are in fact wholly owned by the Odyssey and its tradition. I say this with confidence because their essential function, which is to convey mortals who land on their shores, occurs in one case only in Greek epic tradition that we know of, namely that of Odysseus, and because—this is by far the more important reason—their essential function is taken away from them by the Odyssey when they depart the scene (Odyssey 13.180), and this could only happen if the Odyssey had also given them that function in the first place. If the Phaeacians had other mythic conveyances to their credit, the version of the Odyssey, which excludes any such further instances, would have been rejected by Greek epic tradition. That did not happen, and we may safely conclude that the reason we know of no other instances besides Odysseus is that there were no other instances. [5]
§5. In terms of their self-proclaimed function the Phaeacians exist only to take Odysseus home. [6] But there is another reason for their existence, and this is equally specific to the Odyssey. They are Odysseus’s audience when he tells the story of his wanderings, which is the very heart of the Homeric epic. The Phaeacians mirror the Homeric audience when they listen to Odysseus, just as Odysseus mirrors the Homeric poets when he tells the Phaeacians his story. The Homeric audience is reflected in the Phaeacians, and this fact can be exploited to identify what the Homeric audience actually was.
§6. Before going further I need to highlight the proposition, implicit in my argument, that poems like the Iliad and Odyssey, existing as they did in the traditional medium of Greek epic, actually had an audience that can be identified, as opposed to a multiplicity of audiences that existed at different times and in different places. I do not wish to exclude that the Iliad and Odyssey had different audiences at different times and in different places. That was manifestly the case. What I wish to propose is that the Iliad and Odyssey were first expanded to the monumental proportions in which we know them at a specific time and in a specific place. It is the question of this specific time and place to which the Phaeacians, I propose, hold the key.
§7. The time and place that I have in mind are the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC at the celebration of the Panionia in Asia Minor. This was the festival of the twelve cities of the Panionic league, the Ionian dodecapolis; this league does not appear in the full light of history until the mid-sixth century BC, but it is attested for the mid-seventh century BC, and it must have existed by the late eighth century BC. [7] The historical evidence is sufficient to establish the league’s early existence, but not the nature of its early common festival. That evidence comes from the Homeric poems and it concerns the Phaeacians.


§8. The Phaeacians’ hidden identity as the Ionians of the dodecapolis has to do with hidden identities of four members of the Phaeacian royal family, all of whom play important roles in the story of Odysseus, namely the king, queen, princess, and prince. The hidden identities of Alcinous, Arete, Nausicaa, and Laodamas will be considered one by one below, as will the picture that emerges from the Phaeacian royal family as a whole. But before we come to these specific markers of Ionian identity, general features of the Phaeacians, and of the Panionic league, need to be considered first. Certain aspects of Nestor’s Homeric role, and his Indo-European background, also need to be brought into the picture.
§9. The Phaeacians look like the Ionians, as has long been appreciated. The refinement of their way of life, their love of song and dance, and their sea-faring nature all resemble descriptions of the Ionians as found, for example, in the Delian section of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo. [8] Even their city closely matches the peninsular cities of Asia Minor, in particular Miletus. [9] The Phaeacians do not represent any one Ionian city, but the twelve cities of the dodecapolis together. Their festive way of life, with games followed by dance, followed by recitations of poetry, followed by banquets, followed by further recitations of poetry, mirrors the cities of the dodecapolis in the one context where they came together as one, namely the celebration of the Panionia. The Phaeacians have a festive way of life because they represent an actual festival. It was at this recurring festival, I argue, that the Iliad and Odyssey assumed monumental proportions over several years in the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC.
§10. The founding and growth of the Panionic league, with its cult center at Panionion on Cape Mycale, and the expansion of the Homeric poems at the Panionia, the festival celebrated at this cult center, were, I believe, concurrent and related phenomena. The view one takes of the one process will affect the view one takes of the other. With the Homeric Question as our objective we may first ask how the Ionian dodecapolis came into being. Did twelve cities randomly coalesce, to the rigid exclusion of other cities that would seem to have had equal claims to being Ionian? [10] Or was there a leader from the start among these cities, which were not always twelve, but reached that number only gradually? The cardinal evidence for the process is a political myth that by the time the dodecacapolis reached its canonical size had become the token of Panionism. The cities that came to be regarded as quintessentially “Ionian” were in fact highly diverse in terms of their pre-colonization origins in the Greek mainland. [11] Part of the process of community formation in Asia Minor was to accept the idea that the colonization of the twelve cities was more unified than it in fact was. The myth that came to unify, not all twelve, but the majority of the cities of the dodecapolis made out that the founders of the different cities all came from the royal family of Athens, the family of king Kodros. The last city admitted to the Panionic league was most likely Phocaea, its northernmost member. This city, which could not claim a Kodrid founder, gained admission to the league only when it accepted Kodrid rulers from two cities already members of the league, in which the ruling families did claim Kodrid founders as ancestors. A Kodrid founder, even at second hand, had become the token of Panionism by the time the last member of the league was admitted. [12]
§11. King Kodros famously died a sacrificial death to prevent the Dorians from conquering Athens. His son Medon inherited the Athenian kingship from him, and the subsequent Athenian dynasty was known as the Medontidai, descendants of Medon. According to the myth, Medon had a brother Neileos who led the colonization of Miletus, where the royal family were called the Neileidai, descendants of Neileos. [13] The myth of Medon and Neileos, brothers who became kings in different cities, duplicates an earlier myth in the same family, that of Neleus and Pelias. Kodros was a descendant of Neleus, the founder of Pylos. Kodros’s father had left Pylos at the time of the Dorian invasion and become king of Athens by his heroism in a border war between Athens and Boeotia; this Melanthus, as he was called, was succeeded by his son Kodros as king of Athens. [14] Neleus, the founder of Pylos, had a twin brother Pelias, who inherited the kingship of Iolcus in Thessaly from their father Cretheus. Like the later Neileos, this earlier Neleus had to leave home and found a new city when the kingship at home passed to his brother. [15] In Miletus the royal family traced its origins to the founder of the city, Neileos, but also to Neleus, the clan ancestor. Their name in fact made them descendants of both figures, whose two names are dialectal variants of the same name: Neileos is an Ionic form, and Neleus an Aeolic form. The royal family of Miletus were Neileidai in their Ionic kingdom, where the city founder mattered more than the clan ancestor, but they could also fancy themselves Nēleidai, descendants of Neleus, who was born in Aeolic Thessaly before the migration of himself and his line to Pylos, Athens, and finally Miletus. [16]
§12. The Kodrid myth was extended from Miletus to other members of the Panionic league. Besides the pair of sons Neileos and Medon, who duplicate the earlier pair of brothers Neleus and Pelias, Kodros was credited with various other sons who were held to be Kodrid founders of other Panionic cities. [17] The dominant position of Miletus relative to the other Panionic cities is clearly perceptible in the contrast between the simple and expanded forms of the Kodrid myth, but Miletus’s early dominance was later obscured when Miletus as a city was eclipsed by Ephesus, especially after the Persian wars. Even before the Ionian revolt and the sack of Miletus, in the sixth century BC if not earlier, Ephesus rivaled Miletus for leadership in Ionia. In Ephesus’s reworking of the Kodrid myth, only the founder of Ephesus was a legitimate son of Kodros; other founders were made bastard sons, and the founder of Miletus was stripped of any Athenian connection whatsoever. In the Ephesian version Neileos from Athens was elided with Neleus of Pylos, and the arbitrary nature of this reconfiguration—the founder of Pylos as also the founder of Miletus—is obvious. [18]
§13. The Kodrid myth was a tool in the construction of the Panionic league, as is still apparent in the case of Phocaea, the last city to gain admission. The myth bears the marks of Miletus, which we have good reason to regard as the league’s architect. Other cities of the league most likely did not have Athenian founders, but the myth that they did was accepted. Within individual cities there must have been parties both favorable and unfavorable to inclusion in a league fostered by Miletus, and Kodrid status may have been the reward for a family (or families) that prevailed in bringing a city into the league. The case of Phocaea is again suggestive, but there are indications of such a political process in other cities as well. [19]


§14. The Ionians who celebrated the Panionia were all notionally descendants of Neleus, the founder of Pylos. To be sure, not every Panionic city had a Kodrid founder, and even where there was such a founder, not the entire population, but only the ruling family had Kodrid status. Nevertheless the Kodrid myth had a universalizing intent, namely to provide a common ideology to an emergent community that had none. [20] Neleus’s status as the clan ancestor of the entire dodecapolis, which he had indirectly as Kodros’s ancestor, was more directly expressed in another myth, found in Homer, that Neleus had twelve sons. With two exceptions these twelve sons are insubstantial, and it is thus not as individuals, but as a group that they were intended to represent the dodecapolis. The correspondence, which was global rather than one-to-one, was meant to remain vague. [21]
§15. Besides Nestor the only one of Neleus’s twelve sons with substance is Periklymenos. Periklymenos is named just once in Homer, but he is an essential part of Nestor’s myth, and Nestor’s role in both the Iliad and the Odyssey is based upon his myth. Periklymenos was a warrior who held Heracles at bay when Heracles attacked Pylos, but ultimately Heracles defeated him and sacked Pylos. When Neleus’s sons were increased from two to twelve to correspond with the cities of the dodecapolis, the additional sons were made additional victims of Heracles, falling as one when Periklymenos was defeated. [22] Nestor’s myth is that he took the place of Periklymenos as a warrior and thus saved Pylos from extinction. That is the point of the story that Nestor tells Patroclus in the Iliad, which sets the stage for Patroclus to take the place of Achilles as a warrior and save the Greeks from extinction. [23] Nestor’s myth is a variant of the Indo-European twin myth, as exemplified by the Greek Dioscuri: Castor, the warrior twin, dies in battle, and Polydeuces, his savior brother, brings him back to life. Nestor, in his variant of the myth, does not bring Periklymenos back to life, but instead takes his place as a warrior, and his Homeric epithet, “the horseman,” is the token of his acquired warrior status. Nestor combines the different traits of both Indo-European twins, and his epithet and name signify in their combination that he is the equivalent of two twins in one. The Vedic counterparts to the Greek Dioscuri reveal that Nestor’s combination of epithet and name had an Indo-European origin, and they show what the significance of this combination was. The Vedic twins’ two dual names, Aśvinā and Nāsatyā, are cognate with hippota and Nestōr, respectively, and each name properly designated a different twin and characterized that twin’s distinctive function. [24]
§16. In terms of the Indo-European twin myth, Nestor, to merit his name, should have brought his brother back to life. Since his myth is precisely not to bring his brother back to life, but instead to take his brother’s place, the relevance of his name to his Homeric role is more complex than it would have been in the form of the myth exemplified by the Dioscuri. There is also a diachronic dimension to the semantics of Nestor’s name to be taken into account. In Homer Nestōr means “he who brings home.” The name contains the verbal root of nostos, “return home,” in an active sense, and there is good evidence that the meaning of the name is still fully alive in Nestor’s role in the Odyssey; in later Greek the name’s meaning was lost, but not so in Homer. [25] In pre-Homeric Greek epic, and in the context of the Indo-European twin myth, the meanings “return home” and “he who brings home” of nostos and Nestōr, respectively, were instead “return to life” and “he who brings back to life.” There are still traces of these older meanings of the noun nostos and the name Nestor in the formulaic diction and the traditional themes of Homeric epic. [26]
§17. In his variant of the twin myth Nestor does not bring his brother back to life, and in the Odyssey he similarly does not bring Odysseus home. This is the implicit point of the story that Nestor tells Telemachus about the last time that he saw Odysseus, which was on the island of Tenedos after the war, when Odysseus turned back and returned to Troy, and Nestor himself fled in the opposite direction for home. [27] When he splits from Odysseus on Tenedos, having never disagreed with him before when they were the Greeks’ two chief counselors at Troy, Nestor reenacts his variant of the twin myth, which is one of separation between twins. But there is a positive side to Nestor’s role in the Greek nostoi. Nestor merits the name “he who brings home” in a positive sense in relation to Diomedes, who does not split from Nestor on Tenedos, but follows his lead through the twists and turns of a tense nostos to arrive safely home in Argos in only a few days. [28] Diomedes could not have done this on his own, and Odysseus, who goes his own way, has a very long journey ahead of him compared with what he would have had if he had not split with Nestor. In the nostos of the Greeks, as Nestor himself tells the story, Nestor acts out his name, “he who brings home,” both positively and negatively, and the basis for both sides to his role is the Indo-European twin myth in its two variants.


§18. Nestor does not bring Odysseus home, but the Phaeacians do. The role that Nestor might have played ten years earlier for Odysseus is played instead by king Alcinous, and the speed with which Odysseus is delivered home in the Phaeacians’ magical ship outdoes what even Nestor himself could have provided. Alcinous is in fact a second Nestor, and this is of crucial importance in understanding who the Phaeacians are. [29] The Phaeacians, to repeat an earlier point, are the Odyssey’s blank canvas to make of what it will, and the king’s portrait, which is built up feature by feature, is unmistakable in its resemblance to Nestor. Alcinous is the son of his city’s founder, in whose place he now rules. This is Nestor’s profile, and the Odyssey uses identical language and parallel scenes to delineate both figures, first Nestor in his city, and then Alcinous in his city. The Phaeacian king’s portrait is drawn as soon as the Phaeacians appear on stage and their city, its founding, and its present ruler are described. The stage for this was set when Nestor, the morning after Telemachus’s arrival, sat down on the shining white stones where his father had sat before him. [30]
§19. The core identity between Nestor and Alcinous as present rulers and sons of their cities’ founders is set within a larger context later in the narrative, when Odysseus is about to meet the Phaeacian king and queen. A disguised Athena encounters Odysseus on his way to the Phaeacian palace and tells him in advance about the king and queen. Her description features a detailed genealogy. [31] While the emphasis in her speech is on the queen, whose good will is necessary for Odysseus to win his return home, the genealogy has to do with the king. The earliest ancestor in this complex family history was a king of the giants who, by rivaling the gods, destroyed himself and his people; only his daughter survived, and Poseidon mated with her to produce Nausithoos, the founder of the Phaeacian city. The basis for this complex family history is Nestor’s genealogy, which also appears in the Odyssey, when Odysseus tells the Phaeacians of his trip to the underworld. He saw there, among other heroines of the past, the mother of Neleus, the founder of Pylos. [32] She too was the daughter of a king who rivaled the gods and destroyed himself and his people, and she too was the sole survivor of her father’s hybris.
§20. The king and his daughter, Salmoneus and Tyro, are both named by Odysseus when he tells how he met the heroine Tyro, but her father Salmoneus’s story, well known from later sources, is not told. In Odysseus’s tale the focus is on Tyro as Neleus’s mother and not as Salmoneus’s daughter. Beyond their central identity as mothers of city founders, what identifies Tyro and her Phaeacian counterpart is Poseidon as the father of the sons born to each. But here the full picture is more complicated. Part of the subtlety of the Phaeacian identifications is that they make explicit various features of Nestor’s genealogy which are not made explicit in the case of Nestor himself or his family in the underworld catalogue. Thus Salmoneus, far from having his hybris and self-destruction made explicit, is instead called “faultless,” whereas in the case of the Phaeacians’ earliest ancestor, the king of the giants, the tale of hybris and self-destruction is explicitly told. Similarly Poseidon, as the father of Neleus, was kept from view in Odysseus’s account of Tyro’s offspring, except that here too there is a complication, and a major one. I believe that it can be shown that Odysseus’s catalogue of heroines was different in its Ionian form from what it became in its Athenian form, and that it was only in its Athenian form that Poseidon was brought explicitly into the picture. The Athenian form of Odysseus’s catalogue is what has come down to us, but the Ionian form is easily reconstructed once its existence is recognized. [33] The point is that the Phaeacian genealogy, in which Poseidon is the father of Nausithoos, makes explicit what was left only implicit in Nestor’s case: in Odysseus’s original catalogue the river god Enipeus was Neleus’s father, and Poseidon’s role was only implied insofar as Enipeus was an aspect of Poseidon in cult, specifically in Miletus. [34]
§21. The rest of the Phaeacian genealogy directly concerns Nestor himself and his version of the twin myth. This part of the Phaeacian genealogy, starting with Nestor’s counterpart Alcinous, is crucial, because it is the only explicit representation of Nestor’s twin myth in Homer. The phenomenon is the same as in the instances just discussed, in which the Phaeacians make explicit what in Nestor’s own case is left implicit. In the Iliad Nestor’s variant of the twin myth is presented to Patroclus as a paradigm to follow when Patroclus takes Achilles’ place as a warrrior, but the point is not made explicit; more than that, Nestor’s own warrior brother Periklymenos is not named in his story, and Nestor himself is presented as one of twelve sons. In the Odyssey Nestor replays his twin myth with Odysseus, and with Diomedes as a foil to Odysseus, in his own account of the Greeks’ homecoming from Troy. But there is more to Nestor’s role in the Odyssey. His role continues in the catalogue of heroines in Odysseus’s account of his underworld journey, which has already been discussed for its inclusion of Nestor’s father Neleus and the two generations preceding him. This much is in the passage on Tyro, Nestor’s grandmother, which heads the catalogue. Nestor’s own mother Chloris is also among the group of heroines in the underworld, and she appears exactly half way through Odysseus’s catalogue. [35] Nestor is here presented as one of Chloris’s three sons by Neleus. This is the only time that Periklymenos is named in Homer, but again Nestor’s twin myth is disguised, for between Nestor and Periklymenos, who alone constitute the twin myth, is inserted a third brother. This brother, although he is given a name, has no more substance than the nameless brothers in the Iliad’s group of twelve sons. [36] By the inclusion of Chromios, as he is called, Nestor’s twin myth is purposely kept out of sight, but his myth is then immediately asserted by indirect means, namely the juxtaposition of the next heroine in the catalogue, Leda, and her sons, the Dioscuri, and their version of the twin myth. Their myth features a continual alternation between life and death, and the contrast with Nestor and his myth is pointed and deliberate. [37]
§22. In contrast to the disguised twin myth in the case of Nestor himself, the Phaeacian genealogy makes Nestor’s myth explicit in the case of his Phaeacian counterpart Alcinous. Whereas Nestor is one of twelve sons in the Iliad and one of three sons in the Odyssey, Alcinous has just one brother. Like Periklymenos, this brother was a warrior who is now dead, and whose place has been taken by his brother. The dead brother’s name is Rhexenor, “Breaker of Men,” and his name alone, which otherwise in Homer is an epithet of Achilles, makes him a warrior. Indeed it is only his name that makes him a warrior, for he has no known epic tradition apart from the Phaeacian genealogy. One might imagine that he died fighting Cyclopes before the Phaeacians moved away from those dangerous neighbors, but the Odyssey does not offer any such explanation of his warrior name, saying instead that he was shot by Apollo in his halls while still a bridegroom. In their present location the Phaeacians are all about sea-faring and have nothing to do with war, and their names for the most part relate to the sea. [38] The name “Breaker of Men” is an anomaly among the Phaeacians, and the explanation for it is, I unhesitatingly assert, that it makes Alcinous’s brother the Phaeacian counterpart of Nestor’s warrior brother. With Alcinous and Rhexenor we have Nestor’s twin myth represented in explicit form, as we never do with Nestor himself.
§23. Nestor takes the place of Periklymenos as a warrior and this is the basis of his role in the Iliad. Alcinous also takes the place of Rhexenor, but not as warrior, for the Phaeacians have no need of warriors. Rhexenor was the father of Arete, the Phaeacian queen, and Alcinous, following Greek custom, marries his brother’s daughter when her father dies. This substitution of father’s brother for father, which allows Arete to be included in the Phaeacian genealogy, is the symbolic equivalent of Nestor’s myth of taking his brother’s place. Rhexenor adds the final piece to the Phaeacian genealogy as a deliberate imitation—a mock version—of Nestor’s genealogy. Taken as a whole the Phaeacian genealogy is a virtual fingerprint for Alcinous’s identity; a diagram of the two genealogies, Nestor’s and Alcinous’s, and the comparison between the two, shows this clearly: [39]
Salmoneus Eurymedon King who rivals gods, destroys himself and his people
| | |
Tyro = Poseidon Periboia = Poseidon Sole surviving daughter who mates with Poseidon
| | |
Neleus Nausithoos Founder of new city
| | |
Nestor – Periklymenos Alcinous – Rhexenor Present king (homebringer) – Warrior brother (now dead)


§24. Arete, the Phaeacian queen, conveniently serves the purpose in the Phaeacian genealogy just described, but in terms of correspondences with Nestor’s genealogy she does not fit, for Nestor did not marry his niece. This sole discrepancy between the two genealogies indicates that Arete has her own story in the shadow-play of hidden identities among the Phaeacians. [40] Her importance in the story of the Odyssey, as the indispensable key to Odysseus’s homecoming, also indicates that she is no mere appendage to her husband in terms of genealogy or in any other respect. Athena’s introduction of the Phaeacians to Odysseus just before he meets the king and queen answers one question, as to the king’s hidden identity, but it raises another question, as to the queen’s hidden identity. The Phaeacian genealogy identifies king Alcinous as a second Nestor, but queen Arete is thereby made an enigma. Athena’s speech begins and ends with the queen, and even in presenting the Phaeacian genealogy she mentions the queen first, saying that she has the same progenitors as the king. [41] The question that Athena raises when she appends Arete to Alcinous’s genealogy she also immediately answers when, at the end of her speech, she departs from Scheria and flies to Athens and enters the palace of Erechtheus. [42] By her action Athena reveals that Arete in relation to Alcinous represents Athena herself as the city goddess of Athens, whose relationship with the Athenian king Erechtheus is the paradigm for the Phaeacian royal couple. [43] This explains the extraordinary honor in which Arete is said to be held by her people, which has no parallel in Greek epic, or in Greek culture generally. Athena Polias as a mother goddess in Athens is likewise a unique figure, or nearly so, and even in Athens she was not destined to last as such beyond the early archaic era.
§25. Arete’s function is to be supplicated, and the dramatic high point of her role in the Odyssey is when Odysseus, who has twice been told to do so, grasps her knees and supplicates her. Her name, “she who is prayed to,” points to this crucial moment. Besides being supplicated Arete does little as the story unfolds, for as Athena’s substitute there is little for her to do. Ultimately she expresses approval of Odysseus, when Odysseus interrupts his account of his journey to the underworld after the catalogue of heroines; by its structure this catalogue focuses on Nestor’s genealogy, which is the basis of the Phaeacian genealogy, and it is the appropriate moment, at the end of this part of his account, for the Phaeacian queen to express not only acceptance, but admiration of Odysseus. Odysseus has revealed who the Phaeacians are, or at least who the king is whose function it is to bring him home, and the queen’s approval, withheld until now, ensures that his homecoming will indeed take place. [44] Before this moment, and especially in the immediate aftermath of Odysseus’s supplication of Arete at the palace hearth, Arete has the static, unreacting quality of a deity in her place of worship. Before Odysseus meets Arete she is twice described as spinning wool by the light of the fire, and that is how Odysseus finds her. This repeated description of Arete is a clue to what is otherwise an opaque subject, namely what the cult image of Athena Polias was on the Acropolis in Athens. When Arete is supplicated by Odysseus she seems to become, for a time, that image, and her initial silence is the key to the illusion. [45]


§26. Athena Polias, a mother goddess in Athens, contrasts with the Olympian Athena, the daughter of Zeus, and a virgin warrior goddess. The virgin warrior goddess is the ususal representation of Athena not only in cult but also in Homeric epic. Even in Athens, where Athena Polias was still a mother goddess in the Homeric era on the evidence of the Phaeacian queen, the city goddess was transformed into a warrior goddess by the end of the seventh century BC, most likely in imitation of the Homeric figure. [46] In the Phaeacian shadow-play of identities Athena is represented not only as the city goddess of Athens, a mother goddess, but also as the Olympian daughter of Zeus, a virgin goddess. Nausicaa, the daughter of the Phaeacian king and queen, is a virgin, and her role, as much as Arete’s, is to be supplicated by Odysseus. [47] Just as the dramatic high point of Odysseus’s encounter with Arete comes at the beginning, when Odysseus grasps her knees at the palace hearth, the dramatic high point of Odysseus’s encounter with Nausicaa comes at the beginning, when Odysseus, not long from the sea, emerges all but naked from the underbrush and supplicates her from a distance. Despite the respectful distance the situation puts Nausicaa’s virginity in danger, potentially at least, and she, like a warrior, stands her ground in the face of this danger. The danger then passes with Odysseus’s supplication and the tension is gradually defused.
§27. That Nausicaa, the unflinching virgin supplicated by Odysseus, is a representation of Athena, the virgin warrior goddess, is indicated from the start of the Phaeacian episode, when Athena visits Nausicaa in a dream to set her on the road to her encounter with Odysseus at the sea’s edge. The clothes washing expedition, in anticipation of this maiden’s imminent yet ever indefinite marriage, contains imagery from rites of Athena in a number of cities called Plynteria which were largely kept secret, and Nausicaa too keeps her purpose a secret from her parents. [48] But the most significant sign of Nausicaa’s hidden identity is Athena’s departure from Scheria after she has imparted her message to Nausicaa in the dream. This departure forms a pair with Athena’s later departure to Athens to identify Arete as her substitute as a mother goddess. Athena’s earlier departure is to Mount Olympus, and a memorable passage is devoted to a description of Olympus’s remote calm and splendor, where Athena is precisely the Olympian daughter of Olympian Zeus, and as such a virgin warrior goddess. [49] Athena’s two departures from Scheria, which individually might pass unnoticed, together demand attention. They are too deliberately paired not to have a meaning. The more important of the two departures is the second, identifying Arete with the city goddess of Athens, but the prior departure to Olympus sets the stage for this. Nausicaa’s representation of Athena as an Olympian goddess is only hinted at in Athena’s first departure, but in her second departure the purpose of both departures becomes unmistakable. [50]


§28. Athena’s departure to Athens and its hidden meaning are doubly prepared for. In the immediate context, the disguised Athena’s account to Odysseus of the Phaeacian genealogy turns Arete’s hidden identity into a riddle to be solved, which her departure to Athens immediately solves. In the wider context, which includes the entire Phaeacian episode starting with Nausicaa’s dream, a rhyme, so to speak, is created by the second of Athena’s two departures, and this rhyme, in and of itself, draws attention to its own significance. After Athena’s encounter with Odysseus on his way to the Phaeacian palace we know who both the king and the queen are in a hidden sense. The king is a second Nestor, king of Pylos, and Arete is a substitute for Athena Polias, the city goddess of Athens. Pylos and Athens are themselves of great significance in this Phaeacian shadow-play, for they are the hallmarks of Ionian identity as expressed in the Kodrid myth. In Alcinous and Arete we have the first two stages of the Ionians’ past, Pylos and Athens. [51] This past, as we have seen, is really the past of the Neleid family of Miletus, extended to other member cities of the dodecapolis.
§29. The Neleids of Miletus traced their origin to Neleus, the founder of Pylos, not through Nestor, but through Nestor’s brother Periklymenos. [52] The Homeric figure Nestor thus does not represent the Neleids of Miletus to the exclusion of other members of the dodecapolis, but in some sense he belongs to them all. In contrast to Nestor and his large Homeric role, the Neleids’ ancestor Periklymenos is named but once in the Iliad and the Odyssey. His importance in the poems is pervasive insofar as he is part of Nestor’s myth, but he is kept out of view, and it is Nestor himself who represents the Pylian past. Miletus stands out among the twelve cities only in that it has a particular son of Neleus as ancestor. But even this distinction is eliminated in the Kodrid myth, in which all Kodrids are descended from Periklymenos, and not just the Neleids of Miletus. In this myth, as in the myth of the twelve sons of Neleus, Nestor is not attached to any one Ionian city, and he is thus free to represent the Pylian past of all Panionians.
§30. It follows that Alcinous, as a second Nestor, likewise represents all Panionians in the earliest stage of their fictive history. Athens is the second stage in this history, in line with the Kodrid myth, which, as we have seen, already existed in the Homeric era. [53] Arete, who is a generation younger than Alcinous, represents this second stage, and pointedly so insofar as the Athena Polias that she embodies is a distinctively Athenian figure. As a mother goddess this Athena can only signify Athens, and so too her Phaeacian substitute. [54]


§31. The Phaeacian king and queen show what the Phaeacians represent, namely the Homeric audience—the audience at the Panionia—in terms of its collective past as contained in the Kodrid myth. But there is more to the story. The Phaeacian royal family has another important member, namely the royal prince, Laodamas. Laodamas has a significant name. Most of the Phaeacians’ names, as already noted, relate to the sea and sea-faring, and this is true even of Nausicaa. But in the case of the king and queen, who embody the Ionians’ past, their names are an integral part of the tableau that they present. The significance of Arete’s name, “she who is prayed to,” has already been noted. The name Alcinous derives from his relation to Nestor in that –noos, the second element of his name, has the same root as Nestor’s name, and in the same active meaning, “bring home”: Alcinous is “he who brings home by his strength.” [55] The third figure in this three-generation tableau is Laodamas, whose name means “he who controls the people.” [56] This is a kingly name, and it stands out as such among the rest of the Phaeacians’ names, including those of the two kings who have so far ruled in Scheria, Alcinous and Nausithoos (like Nausicaa, Nausithoos has a sea-related name). [57] Laodamas is in fact the future king of the Phaeacians, and as such he brings the Ionian past, as represented by his father and mother, into the future—or, from the standpoint of the Homeric audience, down to the present. The third stage in the Ionians’ history, after Pylos and Athens, is Ionia itself, and Laodamas has to do with this final stage. [58]
§32. The significance of the “kingly” name Laodamas is that the last Neleid king of Miletus was named Leodamas, which is the Ionic form of Homeric Laodamas. Leodamas had a glorious start to his reign when he was chosen king of Miletus over a rival, another Neleid, for having defeated the Euboean city of Carystus in war. [59] The tradition was that rivalry for power in Miletus had grown so disruptive that both rivals were sent away to find who could benefit the city more and thereby prove worthy of the kingship. Amphitres, the other contender, failed in his attempt to defeat a foreign foe, which in our late source is the Aegean island of Melos, but most likely was rather Melia, the semi-Carian city near the site of Panionion. [60] Leodamas’s victory over the Euboean city of Carystus probably had as its context the Lelantine war between Chalcis and Eretria in Euboea, which involved many other cities in the Greek world, including Miletus and Samos in Ionia. [61] Leodamas, it was said, brought back with him from Carystus the ancestor of the Euangelidai, a family of priests who reported oracles at Didyma / Branchidai, Apollo’s oracle in Milesian territory. [62]
§33. The Lelantine war, of uncertain but long duration, is dated to the second half of the eighth and the first half of the seventh centuries BC. This span of time includes, in my view, the period of the construction of the Panionic league and the composition of the Homeric poems. Melia, according to the Roman architectural historian Vitruvius, was the thirteenth member of the Panionic league until it was destroyed by the other twelve cities of the league for its arrogance. Instead of this scenario, in which a fully formed, thirteen-member Panionic league all too closely resembles the reconstituted league of the Hellenistic era, [63] it seems rather to have been the case that four cities, including Miletus, destroyed Melia, and took over or established a cult center at nearby Panionion in Melia’s territory. This was the start of the Panionic league with Panionion as its center, although there may have been a league center elsewhere before that. The cities that divided up Melia’s territory were, besides Miletus, Samos, Priene, and Colophon (there is no evidence that Ephesus received part of Melia’s land, and the participation of Ephesus in the Meliac war, which is sometimes assumed, is unlikely). These must have been the cities that banded together to eliminate Melia. But whatever its composition at the start, it was at Panionion that the Panionic league grew to twelve members.
§34. Unlike Samos and Priene, Miletus was not primarily interested in Melia’s territory on Cape Mycale. Two epigraphically documented land disputes of the Hellenistic era, in which fully eight historians of the Meliac war were adduced to support rival claims to parts of Melia’s former territory, make this much quite clear. Samos and Priene were the rival claimants in both disputes, and their claims are set in the context of the overall distribution of Melia’s land after the war. Despite gaps and uncertainties in the inscriptions Miletus appears to have had only a minor holding from the war, which it had given up by Hellenistic times. [64] Instead of land Miletus was probably most interested in protecting shipping routes to newly established northern colonies against piracy, if piracy, a known Carian pursuit, is what the “arrogance” of Carian Melia amounted to. [65] Amphitres, who aimed at the kingship in Miletus by undertaking a war against Melia (not Melos), failed to deal with this arrogant coastal city to the north. Does it not make sense to see the successful rival for the kingship of Miletus, Leodamas, as subsequently leading a group of neighboring cities to do what Amphitres had failed to do? Once Melia had been destroyed, and the Panionic league had been established at Panionion, the celebration of the Panionia, which may have been initiated elsewhere, became a regularly recurring phenomenon at this site. [66]
§35. It was at Panionion that the Panionic league reached its canonical number of twelve cities. I propose that the league’s growth and development, including the establishment of Panionion as the league’s center, took place when Leodamas was king of Miletus, and that this Neleid king was the principal agent in creating and promoting the league. We know how Leodamas won the kingship in Miletus against a rival through his military prowess, and it is further reported that during his kingship he was much loved by his people. The end of Leodamas’s story takes a different turn, when he is assassinated by his rival, and the Neleid kingship itself comes to an end in Miletus and a different form of government succeeds it. The duration of Leodamas’s manifestly successful and prosperous kingship is not known, but it was long enough to make his kingship well remembered even down to Augustan times, when it became a model of just autocratic rule. [67]


§36. If we think of the Homeric poems as arising in the proposed Panionic context, there are formal characteristics of the poems that make sense on such a supposition. I have proposed that the performance units of both the Iliad and the Odyssey consisted of four-book segments. In the case of the Odyssey, which is considered less often than the Iliad from the standpoint of performance units, the four-book segments impose themselves, especially in the first half of the poem, but also in the second half. The council of gods that begins Book 1, and is then repeated at the beginning of Book 5, clearly marks what is in other respects as well a palpable division between the Telemachia, Books 1–4, and the four books that follow, in which the story begins anew with Odysseus, bringing the poem’s hero to Scheria and establishing him there as the nameless stranger by the end of Book 8. Books 9–12, in which Odysseus reveals his identity and narrates his adventures, is the paradigmatic case of a unified and self-contained four-book segment, the unity of which is emphasized by its single narrator. In the next segment, Books 13–16, the story is again unified and self-contained: Odysseus and Telemachus both return to Ithaca and are reunited in the swineherd’s hut, where father and son together go to sleep at the segment’s end, Odysseus having revealed his identity to his son alone. This sets the stage for the final two segments of the poem, which I need not detail here. [68] I also leave to one side the division of the Iliad into four-book segments, other than to say that the divisions are marked by the action on the ground: at the end of Book 4, the war is again underway; at the end of Book 8, the Trojan army is able to camp outside the walls of Troy for the first time since the war began; at the end of Book 12, the Trojans have just breached the wall erected by the Greeks to contain their continuing advance outside the walls of Troy; at the end of Book 16 the Trojans have finally been thrown back from the ships, but at the price of Patroclus’s life. This sets the stage for the poem’s final two segments, which both concern Achilles, who at the end of the first of these two segments, in Book 20, has entered battle to avenge his companion, but has not yet encountered his companion’s slayer, as will happen in the poem’s final segment.
§37. Despite Odysseus’s “performance” before the Phaeacians, a four-book segment was probably more than one singer could easily perform. Modern parallels suggest that a singer’s usual performance was closer to one Homeric book in length. [69] If it thus took four poets to perform a four-book segment, and if performances were widely enough separated in time, the same four poets presumably could have performed not only the Iliad, but also the Odyssey, segment by segment. Four poets would thus seem to be the minimum number needed to perform even one of the poems, but four is hardly the ideal number, especially if both poems were performed together, as I think can be shown to have been the case. [70] The Iliad and the Odyssey each have six four-book segments, and together they have twelve such segments. If the Iliad and the Odyssey were in fact performed in sequence at the Panionia, this could have been accomplished over twelve days, or, if there were two performances per day, over six days. A six-day festival is perhaps more likely than a twelve-day festival in terms of the length of time participants would have had to be absent from their individual cities. The number of cities in the dodecapolis, it will not have escaped notice, matches the number of performance units posited for the Iliad and Odyssey, and this number, I think, was also the ideal number of poets who performed the twelve segments. If every city was represented by its own poet, this would be the clearest possible sign that the growth and development of the Homeric poems at the Panionia went hand in hand with the growth and development of the dodecapolis itself. [71]
§38. Starting in the sixth century BC groups of poets performed the Homeric poems in relay at the Panathenaia in Athens, and this practice seems to have continued an earlier practice by the Homeridai on the island of Chios. The Homeridai were a guild of rhapsodes who claimed descent from Homer, but originally their name designated a group, “those who come together (for the purpose of singing)”. [72] On Chios these rhapsodes had the responsibility of learning and handing down the Homeric poems, attributed at this point to a single ancestral poet named Homer. [73] It makes sense to see the Homeridai as having come to Chios from Panionion when foreign foes made continued performance of the Homeric poems impossible at Panionion. The Lydians were the first to put pressure on the mainland cities of Ionia, and the Cimmerians, nomadic invaders from southern Russia, occupied Cape Mykale, including Panionion, for a number of years in the mid-seventh century BC. The Panionic league itself became a defensive alliance in these circumstances, and it is as such that we first see it in operation in the mid-sixth century BC, when it faced a new threat from the Persians. Before all of this, the Homeridai, I propose, were the poets who “came together” from the cities of the dodecapolis to perform the Homeric poems at the Panionia. It was, I think, at the Panionia that the poems were first composed on a monumental scale by a process of ongoing composition in performance. The poets at this stage combined the abilities of “singers” (aoidoi) and “reciters” (rhapsōidoi) insofar as both creativity and preservation were required at one and the same time. I have compared the festival of the Panionia, as the place for the ongoing composition in performance of the Homeric poems, to a fixed loom for weaving. [74] With regularly recurring festivals, most likely once a year, there was uninterrupted opportunity to bring the poems to ever higher levels of refinement—uninterrupted, that is, until foreign pressure put an end to performances at Panionion, and the Homeridai, in order to preserve what they had already created, took refuge on Chios. [75] With poems to preserve, rather than to develop, the Homeridai became known as rhapsōidoi, “reciters.” This was not an altogether novel turn for them, since preservation was part of what the poets had done from the start at Panionion. The creative side of what took place at Panionion is harder to see, and some imagination is required. The Iliad and the Odyssey are in many ways unique creations, and the process by which they were created, it would seem, is also likely to have been unique. I imagine that among the group of twelve poets that I have posited some were more creative and some were less creative, and that the ultimate design of both poems was under the control of one or possibly two master poets. Since the poems, as I see them, carry the hidden agenda of the Neleid family of Miletus, I imagine that the one master poet who surpassed all others also had a Milesian connection.


§39. Laodamas, the Phaeacian prince, does little in the Odyssey, but the little that he does is significant. When Odysseus appears at the Phaeacian hearth and supplicates Arete, and Alcinous, bidden by an aged retainer, raises Odysseus from the ashes, Alcinous turns to Laodamas, whom he loves best, to give Odysseus his seat, and Laodamas does so at once. This deferential gesture is simple and eloquent, expressing as it does the proper relationship of the future king to the great hero of the past. Later, when Odysseus accompanies the Phaeacians to a round of games, and Laodamas challenges Odysseus to participate in the games, Odysseus declines, admonishing the Phaeacian youths not to provoke him, for he has greater cares than games. In the scene that follows Laodamas is a bystander, but the scene is ultimately for his benefit. Another Phaeacian youth rudely calls Odysseus lowborn and unfit for games, whereupon Odysseus, his blood up, seizes a stone and hurls it beyond all the other marks. The speech that Odysseus then addresses to the offending youth, putting him in his place in no uncertain terms, has been identified as belonging to a widespread genre of poetry known as the “instruction of princes.” In this episode of athletic competition Odysseus has shown his mettle, and this is the episode’s dominant feature. But the prince who benefits from his ensuing “instruction,” even though he is not its overt target, is the bystander Laodamas. It is again as the future king that Laodamas is present in this scene, in which his only action is to invite the great hero of the past to compete, and to have his invitation turned down rather baldly. Like all princes, Laodamas needs to be instructed, and who better to offer the instruction than the great hero of the Odyssey?
§40. The connection between the Phaeacian prince Laodamas and the Milesian king Leodamas, overt in terms of name, is otherwise left to suggestion. This identification completes the tableau of the Phaeacian royal family as the embodiment of the Ionians’ past, carrying their past down to the present. It substantiates the role that Miletus and its Neleid king must have played in the growth and development of the Panionic league, and in the growth and development of the Homeric poems at the league’s common festival. No overreaching claim is made for Leodamas, the Neleid king of Miletus, if he is meant to be seen in the Phaeacian prince, for this prince’s only role is to be polite to Odysseus, and to be the indirect beneficiary of Odysseus’s somewhat heated “instruction.” [76] The only way that the insertion of this living king into the epic of the past would go beyond the proper limit is if Leodamas did not in fact play the leading role in promoting the Panionic league, and if he was not recognized by all as doing so. There are many indications that Miletus played its role in fostering the Panionic league with a light hand and from behind the scenes. The modesty of the Phaeacian prince Laodamas, and the reputation of the Milesian king Leodamas for being loved by his people, both comport with this picture. The same light hand is apparent in the Homeric poems, where Neleus’s son Nestor, who belongs to all Panionians equally, is celebrated in both poems, whereas Neleus’s son Periklymenos, the ancestor of the royal house of Miletus, is mentioned only once, and plays his role entirely beneath the surface of the poems.
§41. In the Homeric era kingship was coming to an end as an institution, and the problematic situation in which kingship found itself is reflected in the Odyssey, where the poem’s hero, Odysseus, does finally prevail in his own palace, but at a shocking cost. In Miletus things turned out differently, as kingship came to an end with the assassination of Leodamas. There is an irony here in the relationship of poetry to life. [77] But the Milesian king’s legacy, despite his tragic end, looms large if it was in fact he who, more than any other, gave the Ionians their identity, and who in the process fostered the creation of the Homeric poems in the form and on the scale in which we know them. [78]


§42. The Homeric audience, if I have defined it correctly, remained essentially the same over a period of years as the Iliad and Odyssey were expanded to their final form, each poem being structured into twenty-four books divided into six segments. Did this audience recognize itself in the Phaeacians, the Odyssey’s internal audience? Obviously some in the audience must have, but it is doubtful that all did. The Phaeacians’ hidden identities are not at all necessary to the story, and they also do not obtrude on the story. At most certain features of the story were probably rather puzzling to parts of the audience, as they have been to readers and commentators down to the present, in particular queen Arete’s prolonged initial silence following Odysseus’s supplication. [79] But even this feature can be taken as simply adding to the story’s aura of mystery and magic. The Phaeacian episode is a perfect blend of surface narrative and symbolic underpinning. Irony, to give a name to this deliberate use of different narrative levels at the same time, is a key feature not only of the Phaeacian episode, but of the Homeric poems in general. It characterizes Nestor’s role in both poems in particular. The point has already been made that Nestor’s twin myth, the basis of his Homeric role, is consistently disguised in one way or another. Unlike Alcinous, who with his single warrior brother explicitly duplicates Nestor’s twin myth, Nestor himself is called one of twelve sons in the Iliad and one of three sons in the Odyssey. There are other such examples of irony. When Nestor gives Patroclus a paradigm to follow in taking Achilles’ place, he does not do so explicitly: instead of drawing a parallel between his own youthful self and Patroclus, whose situations are the same, he contrasts himself with Achilles and his behavior, as if this was the point of his story. In the Odyssey the point of Nestor’s account to Telemachus is that Nestor and Odysseus, much to the disadvantage of Odysseus, separated at the start of their nostos after quarreling on Tenedos. To know what this meant for Odysseus it is necessary to know Nestor’s twin myth and the part played by his brother in it. On the surface of the narrative, however, not even the quarrel between Nestor and Odysseus, implied by the logic of Nestor’s account, is made explicit. But the irony of Nestor’s role is greatest and most sustained in the chariot race for Patroclus in the Iliad. [80] It is in this episode, which Nestor presides over no less than Achilles, that account is taken of the fate that Patroclus has incurred by following Nestor’s example, a fate not suffered by Nestor himself. The episode is too complex to go into, but its irony is the point, and two features may be mentioned from that perspective. Nestor persuaded Patroclus to become a warrior horseman, as Nestor himself had once done after his brother’s death, by replacing another warrior horseman, Patroclus’s companion Achilles. After the race in Patroclus’s honor, Nestor is awarded a prize left vacant from the contest just completed, [81] and in accepting this prize Nestor tells how he once competed in games at a king’s funeral in which he won every contest except the chariot race. [82] That hippota Nestor lost the chariot race, but won every other contest, is the unmistakable sign that irony is at work in this episode. How he lost the race Nestor does not explicitly say, but it can be worked out from what he does say, and it again has to do with his twin myth. [83] The second sign of irony in the episode is Nestor’s long speech of advice to his son Antilochus, one of the contestants, at the start of the race. Nestor’s speech has all to do with rounding the turning post, and this focus to his speech is doubly ironic in that Antilochus is said to know how to round the turning post already, and the turning post plays no role whatever in the race itself—the turn is not even mentioned. [84] There is something hidden here involving the turning post and Nestor’s loss to twins, and the relevance of this to the death of Patroclus. But these elements are left unconnected on the surface of the story.
§43. The Homeric audience was called on to understand Nestor’s hidden role, and, by extension, the Phaeacians’ hidden role. Presumably Nestor’s old traditions about his youthful deeds were not universally known, for then there would be no point to his role’s irony: a secret known to all is not a secret. I propose that Nestor’s old traditions were the closely held patrimony of the Neleid family of Miletus, the only family in Ionia with a claim to direct descent from Neleus, the founder of Pylos. Since their descent was not through Nestor, but through Nestor’s brother, Periklymenos, Nestor himself should be seen as the Neleids’ epic hero as opposed to their ancestor. If the youthful Nestor belonged only to the Neleids, the wide role given to the aged Nestor in the Iliad and Odyssey made of him the hero of all Panionians. This Nestor was shifted away from his twin myth to become one of twelve sons, to match the cities of the dodecapolis, and his twin myth itself was shifted to a different poetic register, that of sustained irony. Not everyone would have been aware of this irony at first, but awareness would have spread. To become aware of this irony was to be in sympathy with the Neleids’ agenda, and to join them in their Panionic aspirations.


§44. As one of Neleus’s twelve sons Nestor is notionally the ancestor of one of the twelve cities of the dodecapolis, and so too are Neleus’s other eleven sons. But connections with particular cities are left unspecified except in the sole case of Periklymenos and Miletus. Nestor’s special role as the transcendent hero of all twelve cities of the dodecapolis is more neatly realized in the case of Alcinous, the second Nestor of the Odyssey, than it is in the case of Nestor himself. When Alcinous calls together his council to consider Odysseus’s appeal to take him home, we learn that this council is made up of twelve kings, and that Alcinous himself is the thirteenth. This council is the image of the Panionic league with its twelve member cities, all of which looked to one leader, Miletus, which was one of their number, just as Nestor was one of the twelve sons of Neleus, but which also stood outside and above the group, just as Alcinous does with his council. [85]
§45. If the foregoing approach to the Homeric Question meets with approval in its main lines, it may provide a more solid basis on which to evaluate other aspects of the Homeric poems. I have stayed close to Nestor and his Homeric role in my own analysis, since it is on Nestor and his Homeric role that my case is built, and the Phaeacians are, in the first instance, a logical extension of Nestor. It remains to be seen what other aspects of the poems might be clarified in terms of their intent should they be viewed from the perspective of a nascent Panionic league under the leadership of Miletus. The other cities of the dodecapolis had their own varied origins and traditions, and the scale of the Homeric poems provided ample scope to reflect this multiplicity of traditions. [86] More interesting, perhaps, is the question of how far the Iliad and Odyssey can be seen as mirrors of the common aspirations and inevitable rivalries of the twelve league members. What do the Iliad and Odyssey have to do with the formation of an Ionian community and, more fundamentally, an Ionian identity? This is a delicate question, but one that can perhaps be posed in broader terms than I have attempted here. [87]


[ back ] 1. Hippota Nestor. Hellenic Studies 37. Cambridge MA and Washington DC, 2009 (referred to below as HN). Online version at Of the book’s fourteen chapters, Chapters 7, 8, 10, and 11 are directly relevant to the subject of this paper.
[ back ] 2. The island known as Ithaca from antiquity to the present may not in fact have been the Homeric Ithaca, which Odysseus describes as westernmost in its group of four islands. See R. Bittlestone, Odysseus Unbound: the Search for Homer’s Ithaca (Cambridge 2005) for the proposal that the Homeric Ithaca was what is now the western part of Kephalonia but was once, before geological changes, a separate island.
[ back ] 3. There is one qualification to this. Odysseus’s navigation by the stars, during which he keeps northern constellations to his left, implies that Calypso’s isle is in the west, eighteen days distant from Scheria. This exception to the unreality of Calypso’s location seems to me to have a ready explanation: from Greece the sea is open-ended only to the west, and lack of a known limit in that direction permits a passage from the unreal to the real in Odysseus’s return home as described above. This is not to say that Calypso’s isle is in the Atlantic, only that its location is beyond our ken. A. Debiasi, Esiodo e l’occidente (Rome, 2008) 95 (with bibliography), points out that the “periferia mitica” is often in the west for Hesiod and in part for Homer. Since the Phaeacians lie between Calypso’s isle and Ithaca, they too seem to be in the west, but at an undetermined distance from Ithaca because of the uncanny nature of their navigation. Because the distance from Scheria to Ithaca is undetermined the same point holds for the Phaeacians as for Calypso’s isle, that they are simply beyond our ken. A western location for them is perhaps suggested by their previous trip to Euboea, the place which (they say) is “farthest away.” But a western location for Scheria is not a necessary conclusion from this much only, since the Phaeacian belief that Euboea is “farthest away” is contradicted no matter from what direction they are imagined to have traveled. Euboea is at the center of the Greek world when Asia Minor is included, and the point of Euboea’s being the farthest destination ever reached from Scheria may be to make it impossible to tell from what direction the Phaeacians traveled, distance to the center being the same from any direction; note that Euboea is Nestor’s destination when he crosses the sea from east to west in his nostos, Odyssey 3.174. Equally ambiguous is the Phaeacians’ claim that they will take Odysseus to his destination even if it lies beyond Euboea: if they travel from the west, Ithaca does not lie beyond Euboea, and they have gone more than that distance already; if they travel from the east, Ithaca does lie beyond Euboea, but the Phaeacians are prepared to go that distance as well if that is what is required. In sum, the only indication in the Odyssey of a particular location for both Calypso and the Phaeacians, namely Odysseus’s navigation by the stars, has the purpose, paradoxically, of making these places unlocatable in the real world: the sea becomes unknown if one goes far enough west, and this makes the two places in question likewise unknown and unknowable. Even this much specificity regarding the direction of Scheria, namely that it seems to lie to the west, is undercut by Euboea’s being the “farthest” known destination from Scheria, which seems intended to mystify Scheria’s location rather than to clarify it. For the argument that the Phaeacians approached Euboea from the west, see D. Nakassis, 2004, “Gemination at the Horizons,” TAPA 134 (2004) 215–233, p. 221, n. 30, with bibliography.
[ back ] 4. For Corcyra, which claimed to be the Homeric Scheria, see n. 6 below.
[ back ] 5. If there can be no other conveyances in the future, there also cannot have been other conveyances in the past, as a moment’s reflection should show. The voyage of Rhadamanthys, in addition to being different in kind from what the Phaeacians claim to do for any errant mortal (they seem to have picked him up and returned him to his dwelling place, presumably in the Isles of the Blest), looks like it too belongs wholly to the Phaeacian episode of the Odyssey; cf. HN §2.117 (pp. 254–256).
[ back ] 6. It remains possible that the Phaeacians had an earlier existence in Greek epic tradition with a function other than conveying shipwrecked mortals. But in any such prior existence their nature and function cannot have been very distinct if they were totally remade by the Odyssey. In the end there is not much difference between saying that the Phaeacians did not exist before the Odyssey and that they were totally remade by the Odyssey. In Apollonius’s Argonautica the Phaeacians provide the setting for the marriage of Jason and Medea. A. Debiasi, “Eumeli Corinthii fragmentum novum?”, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 143 (2003), has convincingly shown that the same episode occurred in the epic poet Eumelus c. 700 BC. Despite Eumelus’s early date, I would argue that the Corinthian poet appropriated the Phaeacians from the Odyssey in order to connect them with the Corinthian colony of Corcyra, traditionally founded in 734 BC. In Hesiod Theogony 992–999 the marriage of Jason and Medea takes place not among the Phaeacians, but in Iolcus, and this seems to have been the version of the story before Eumelus. It is not difficult to see how the mythical geography in which the Odyssey places Calypso and the Phaeacians (see n. 3 above for Odysseus’s voyage eastward from Calypso’s isle toward Ithaca) could suggest Corcyra for the Phaeacians’ country, even though Scheria is not called an island in Homer, and seems not to be thought of as one. It has been argued that the Eretrians, wide-ranging mariners who colonized Corcyra before the Corinthians, first identified Corcyra with the Phaeacians, and that the Odyssey presupposes this identification (L. Antonelli, “Sulle navi degli Eubei: immaginario mitico e traffici di età arcaica,” Studi sulla grecità di Occidente, ed. L. Braccesi [Rome, 1995] 16–18, and Κερκυραικά [Rome, 2000] 27–37). I cannot accept this argument, convinced as I am that the Phaeacians are a product of the Odyssey tradition, and a relatively late product, and that the Phaeacians, like the rest of Odysseus’s adventures, lie outside the real world. The issue of Corcyra is discussed in HN n2.158 (pp. 256–257), but the discussion there needs to be updated to take account of Debiasi’s evidence for Eumelus. That evidence bears on the date when the Homeric poems became known outside Ionia. I have discussed this issue in relation to the “Nestor’s Cup” inscription found at Pithekoussai in the West, which seems to be roughly contemporary with Eumelus’s date of c. 700 BC; see HN §§4.59–4.65 (pp. 604–613).
[ back ] 7. The archaeological remains at the league’s cult center, Panionion, do not go back so far, and the reason for this remains unclear, but the literary tradition is not in doubt. The origins of the league centered at Panionion are connected with the Meliac war, in which the city of Melia was destroyed and the league’s cult center was established in Melia’s former territory. On the evidence of a Hellenistic inscription (Welles, Royal Correspondence, no. 7; see n. 64 below for Inschriften von Priene, no. 37, an equally important source for the Meliac war) the Meliac war preceded the occupation of Cape Mycale, the site of Panionion, by raiding Cimmerians, and this occupation is securely dated to the mid-seventh century BC. The Panionic league is connected with the Meliac war by the Hellenistic inscriptions mentioned above and by the Roman architectural historian Vitruvius (see n. 63 below for Vitruvius). There is archaeological evidence that Melia was destroyed c. 700 BC, and this seems to mark the end of the Meliac war and the beginning of Panionion as the league’s cult center. See HN §§4.15–4.19 (pp. 541–550).
[ back ] 8. Homeric Hymn to Apollo 146–155. For the resemblance of the Phaeacians in the Odyssey to the Ionians in this passage of the Hymn to Apollo see F. Welcker “Die Homerischen Phäaken und die Inseln der Seligen,” Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 1 (1832) 219ff., reprinted in Kleine Schriften II (Bonn, 1845; reprint Osnabrück,1973) 1–79, pp. 33–34, and HN §4.22 (pp. 552–555).
[ back ] 9. See HN n4.12 (p. 522).
[ back ] 10. M. Sakellariou, La migration grecque en Ionie (Athens, 1958), includes sixteen Ionian cities in his study; in addition to the twelve cities of the dodecapolis are Melia, Magnesia on the Meander, Pygela, and Smyrna. For Melia see n. 7 above and below in text, and for Smyrna n. 19 below.
[ back ] 11. Herodotus 1.146.1, irritated by the Ionians’ pretensions to ethnic purity, makes a point of their diversity of origins, naming as the Ionians’ ancestors Euboean Abantes, Orchomenian Minyans, Kadmeioi, Dryopes, Phocians, Molossians, Arcadians, Pelasgians, Dorian Epidaurians, “and many more besides.” Cf. HN n1.20 (p. 17) and n1.56 (p. 33).
[ back ] 12. See Pausanias 7.3.10 for Phocaea and its Kodrid kings, who were brought from Erythrai and Teos; cf. HN §4.3 (pp. 517–519), esp. n4.7 (p. 519).
[ back ] 13. Hellanicus FGrHist 323a F23 contains the entire Neleid genealogy, from Deucalion down to the founder of Miletus, who is here called Neleus instead of Neileos (a common confusion), and is credited with founding the entire Ionian dodecapolis, not just Miletus. The latter part of the fragment, starting with Kodros and his sacrificial death, is quoted in HN n4.3 (p. 517).
[ back ] 14. The first part of Hellanicus FGrHist 323a F23 details the five generations from Neleus to Melanthos; this part of the fragment is quoted in HN n4.2 (p. 516).
[ back ] 15. Odyssey 11.256–257 is the earliest source for this pair of twins. See also “Apollodorus” 1.9.8–10.
[ back ] 16. See HN §§1.17–1.20 (pp. 29–34).
[ back ] 17. The two main sources for Kodrid founders of Ionian cities are Pausanias 7.2.1–7.4.10 and Strabo 14.1.3.
[ back ] 18. Pausanias and Strabo (see n. 17 above) follow Panyassis and Pherecydes, respectively, in giving what are evidently an older (Milesian) version and a later (Ephesian) version of the Kodrid myth. In Pausanias seven of the twelve cities have Kodrid founders, namely, Miletus, Colophon, Lebedos, Ephesus, Myus, Teos, and Erythrai, and there is no distinction between legitimate and illegitimate sons of Kodros. In Strabo only four cities have Kodrid founders, namely, Ephesus, Myus, Teos, and Erythrai, and among the four Kodrid founders only Androklos, the founder of Ephesus, is a legitimate son of Kodros. In both Pausanias and Strabo the founder of Priene is the son of the founder of Miletus; this makes him a second-generation Kodrid in Pausanias and a non-Kodrid in Strabo. See HN §§4.10–4.11 (pp. 530–534).
[ back ] 19. The situation of two cities with respect to the Kodrid myth is particularly revealing, namely, Colophon, which was a member of the league and claimed Kodrid founders, and Smyrna, which was refused membership in the league, and which not only did not have a Kodrid founder, but also claimed a different, non-Kodrid foundation of Colophon for its own origins in Ionia. Smyrna was seized by exiles from Colophon after their defeat in factional strife in Colophon, and the difference between the two factions in this strife can be seen in their relationship to the Kodrid myth. See HN §§4.7–4.8 (pp. 524–528).
[ back ] 20. See HN §§4.1–4.3 (pp. 515–519) and cf. §1.8 (pp. 16–18).
[ back ] 21. The twelve sons of Neleus are referred to in Iliad 11.692. For the twelve sons of Neleus in relation to the Ionian dodecapolis, see HN §§1.1–1.9 (pp. 9–19), §1.20 (pp. 33–34), §4.1 (p. 515), and n4.13 (pp. 522–523).
[ back ] 22. For Periklymenos and the twelve sons of Neleus see Hesiod fragment 35.2-9 MW, where all twelve are named, and “Apollodorus” 1.9.9; cf. HN §§1.3–1.4 (pp. 11–15). Periklymenos is named in Homer only in Odyssey 11.286.
[ back ] 23. See HN, Chapter 4 (pp. 105–130). Nestor’s story is in Iliad 11.670–761.
[ back ] 24. The Vedic names are in the dual, designating both twins, but, like the name Dioskouroi, which also designates both twins, the Vedic names each properly refer to one twin as opposed to the other. The name Dioskouroi, “sons of Zeus,” refers properly to Polydeuces inasmuch as Castor is the son of Tyndareus; Tundaridai, the twins’ other name, properly refers to Castor. In Nestor the opposed qualities of Indo-European twins are combined in a single individual, and this indicates the nature of his myth, which is different from that of the Dioscuri and the Vedic twins. For the two Vedic names correlated with distinctions between the two Dioscuri, see HN, Chapter 3. For the morphological reconstruction of the name Nāsatyā in Common Indo-Iranian see HN §1.67 (pp. 89–91); I there make clear that Gregory Nagy’s brilliant morphological reconstruction of the Iranian noun *ksāyatya-, “king” (Old Persian xšāyaθiya-, New Persian šāh) provides the key to the name Nāsatyā, and for this I am deeply indebted to him.
[ back ] 25. For the name Nestor, and the importance of its meaning to the story of the Odyssey, see HN, Chapters 2 and 6, respectively. A Greek active verb meaning “bring home,” corresponding to Nestor’s name, has been posited by linguists since the days of the Linear-B decipherment, and I have shown its virtual existence in Homer, where the implications for Nestor’s name and Homeric role are obvious. See HN §1.19 (pp. 30–32) on the Mycenaean name Nehelawos, the exact equivalent of Ionic Neileos, which contains this verb, and HN §§1.23–1.24 (pp. 37–38) on the reading me nesei, “will bring me home,” for the manuscript tradition’s unintelligible m’anesei in Odyssey 18.265. A review of HN in BMCR 2010.12.04 did not take account of this linguistic evidence, which is crucial for the name Nestor, and is flawed as a result.
[ back ] 26. See HN §§1.25–1.32 (pp. 38–50).
[ back ] 27. See HN §§2.59–2.65 (pp.174–182) on Odyssey 3.126–166.
[ back ] 28. See HN §§2.66–2.68 (pp. 182–190) on Odyssey 3.165–187.
[ back ] 29. See HN §§2.109–2.133 (pp. 241–276).
[ back ] 30. For Alcinous see Odyssey 6.3–12. For Nestor see Odyssey 3.404–412; with the passage on Nestor compare also Odyssey 8.4–7, where Alcinous and his council seat themselves “on polished stones.” See HN §2.110 (pp. 244–246) for a more detailed comparison between the Pylian and Phaeacian scenes, including identical use of an otherwise unique Homeric line with reference to the two city founders: “but he had already succumbed to death and gone to Hades” (Odyssey 3.410 = 6.11).
[ back ] 31. Odyssey 7.56–66.
[ back ] 32. Odyssey 11.235–259.
[ back ] 33. The catalogue of heroines is discussed without regard to the difference between an Ionian version and an Athenian version in HN §§2.100–2.108 (pp. 227–241); the Ionian version is differentiated and separated from the Athenian version in §§2.134–2.168 (pp. 276–329). The two versions are presented in full in §2.154 (pp. 306–309) and §2.159 (pp. 314–317).
[ back ] 34. Scholia to Lycophron 722; see HN §2.136 (p. 282).
[ back ] 35. Chloris’s entry is in Odyssey 11.281–297. The catalogue’s bipartitite structure, which has been superficially preserved in the Athenian version (see HN §§2.105–2.108 [pp. 235–241] and §§2.157–2.160 [pp. 311–320]), is the key not only to the form, but also to the purpose of the catalogue’s original Ionian version; see HN §§2.134–2.156 (pp. 276–311), where the case for this is argued in detail. The two parts of the Ionian version of the catalogue mirror each other not only in the number of entries in each part (the Athenian version has also preserved this basic feature of the catalogue’s original symmetry), but also in the length of each entry, which decrease progressively in length from long first entries in each part, devoted to Tyro and Chloris respectively, to two-line entries at the end of each part. The catalogue’s bipartite structure stands out unmistakably in the Ionian version, and it draws attention to the two entries at the head of each part of the catalogue, which together point to Nestor. A review of HN in Classical Review 62 (2012), which ignores this remarkable degree of structure, dismisses the case made on pp. 276–311 for the catalogue’s original form, and for Nestor and his myth as the focus of the catalogue in this form, with a broad use of the term “analytical,” and an assertion that the case for an earlier form of the catalogue has not been made. Instead of a label and an assertion, neither of which can really be engaged with, one would have appreciated arguments.
[ back ] 36. For this Chromios, a true non-entity, see HN §1.4 (pp. 13–15) and §2.100 (p. 228). He is named, together with Nestor and Periklymenos, in Odyssey 11.286.
[ back ] 37. Leda’s entry is in Odyssey 11.298–304. The two entries, Chloris and Leda, are closely connected by Nestor’s sister Pero, whose wooing by all her neighbors is recounted at the end of Chloris’s entry (Odyssey 11.287–297). Pero, as the daughter of one of the heroines encountered by Odysseus, stands alone in the catalogue, where only sons of heroines are featured otherwise. Pero is included because she is the analogue to Helen, the sister of the Dioscuri, who was wooed by the entire heroic world. Helen is not mentioned in Leda’s entry, but when the catalogue moves from Pero, at the end of Chloris’s entry, to Leda and Leda’s offspring, Helen immediately comes to mind, and the two entries, Chloris and Leda, are thereby connected. See HN §§2.102–103 (pp. 229–234), and cf. §2.142 (pp. 289–291) and §2.147 (pp. 294–295).
[ back ] 38. For the Phaeacians’ sea-related names see HN n2.152 (pp. 252–253) and n4.179 (pp. 593–594).
[ back ] 39. Cf. HN §2.116 (p. 253).
[ back ] 40. Arete needs a parentage, for her hidden identity does not provide her with one; see below.
[ back ] 41. Odyssey 7.54–55.
[ back ] 42. Odyssey 7.79–81.
[ back ] 43. For Arete in relation to Athena see HN, Chapter 8, §§3.1–3.23 (pp. 341–372).
[ back ] 44. See HN §2.109 (pp. 241–244), and cf. §2.167 (p. 328). Arete’s speech of approval of Odysseus in Odyssey 11.337–341.
[ back ] 45. For Arete in relation to the cult image of Athena Polias in Athens see HN, Chapter 8, §§3.10–3.18 (pp. 350–365). Athena Polias was represented with a distaff in each hand in her cult image in Erythrai (Pausanias 7.5.9); see HN §3.15 (pp. 359–360). For other representations of Athena with a distaff (none certainly from Attica) see n3.36 (pp. 359–360).
[ back ] 46. See HN, Chapter 8, §3.13 (pp. 353–355) and Chapter 9, §§3.39–3.54 (pp. 393–413).
[ back ] 47. For Nausicaa in relation to Athena see HN, Chapter 8, §§3.24–3.38 (pp. 372–391).
[ back ] 48. For Nausicaa’s clothes washing expedition in relation to Athena’s festival of the Plynteria see HN, Chapter 8, §§3.32–3.37 (pp. 384–391). In Odyssey 6.67–68 Nausicaa is ashamed to tell her father that her outing is to prepare for her marriage, but Alcinous knows everything anyway.
[ back ] 49. Odyssey 6.41–47.
[ back ] 50. For Athena’s two departures from Scheria see HN, Chapter 8, §§3.3–3.7 (pp. 342–347), §3.24 (pp. 372–373), and §338 (p. 391).
[ back ] 51. See HN, Chapter 10, §4.4 (pp. 520–522).
[ back ] 52. Hellanicus FGrHist 323a F23. See n. 14 above.
[ back ] 53. To be precise, the Kodrid myth existed when Phocaea was admitted to the Panionic league, and the Panionic league already had twelve members in the Homeric era to judge by the myth of Neleus’s twelve sons. Thus the Kodrid myth must have existed in the Homeric era.
[ back ] 54. See n. 51 above. Nausicaa, as the Phaeacian substitute for Athena the Olympian goddess, does not represent part of the Ionians’ past as does Arete. Nausicaa’s role in this respect is to establish Arete’s hidden identity through the contrast of her own hidden identity, which is precisely not local; Nausicaa remains apart from the construct representing the Ionians’ past.
[ back ] 55. For the formation of the name Alkínoos compare e.g. the adjective laossóos, “inciting the warfolk,” the second element of which contains the root of seúō, “incite”; see HN n1.101 (p. 51). For the noun noos, “mind,” as having the same etymology as the second element of the compound name Alkinoos, and as originally meaning a “bringing back to life and light,” see HN, Chapter 2, §§1.33–1.41 (pp. 50–58). The noun noos and the name Nestōr are closely related in meaning, and Nestor’s Homeric role is to a considerable extent a demonstration of what Homeric noos means not only synchronically (Nestor is one of the Greeks’ two chief counselors and as such he comes close to personifying noos; see HN §§1.35–1.36 [pp. 52–54] and §2.70 [pp. 192–193]), but also diachronically: for Nestor’s deep connection with noos in specific episodes see Chapter 5, §§2.48–2.52 (pp. 164–169) and Chapter 6, §§2.69–2.70 (pp. 190–193). For the origins of noos, “mind,” in the Indo-European twin myth, see HN, Chapter 3, §1.69 (pp. 93–94), and cf. §2.51 (p. 169).
[ back ] 56. On this name see HN n2.152 (pp. 252–253) and §4.51 (pp. 592–594). For laos as “one’s own people,” and not “the enemy’s people,” see HN §2.95 (pp. 221–222) and EN2.2 (pp. 334–337).
[ back ] 57. According to Welcker (n. 8 above), p. 3, the name Laodamas expresses “das Königliche,” kingliness; see also HN §4.51 (pp. 592–594).
[ back ] 58. For the following see HN, Chapter 11, §§4.49–4.54 (pp. 590–598).
[ back ] 59. The two sources for Leodamas, both of Augustan date, are Conon FGrHist 26 F 1 xliv (Photius Bibliotheca 186, Bekker pp. 139b–140a), and Nikolaos of Damascus FGrHist 90 F 52 and 53. See HN §§4.49–4.51 (pp. 590–594).
[ back ] 60. See HN §4.69 (pp. 616–617) for the adjective Mēlieús in Conon’s account of the expedition against Melos; the ethnic adjective for Melos is Mḗlios, and Mēlieús most likely stands for Melieús, the ethnic adjective for Melia. It seems that a well known place, Mēlos, has been substituted for a little known place, Melia, in the transmission of Conon’s account, in which the correct ethnic adjective remained unchanged.
[ back ] 61. For Leodamas’s expedition as part of the Lelantine war see V. Parker, Untersuchungen zum Lelantinischen Krieg und verwandten Problemen der frühgriechischen Geschichte (Stuttgart, 1997) 125–127, and cf. HN §4.50 (p. 592).
[ back ] 62. This is part of Conon’s account; see HN n4.232 (p. 617–618).
[ back ] 63. Vitruvius 4.1.4–6, on which see HN §4.16 (pp. 542–544), and, for anachronisms in Vitruvius’s account, n4.72 (pp. 542–543) and EN4.3 (pp. 625–626). The Meliac war, on the basis of archaeological evidence for the destruction of Melia, ended c. 700 BC; see HN §4.18 (pp. 546–548), and EN4.5 (pp. 628–629).
[ back ] 64. See HN EN4.13 end (pp. 643–644). Only one place, most likely called Akadamis (only the first letter survives in the inscription, Inschriften von Priene no. 37.57), occurs in a context that suggests that it was taken by Miletus after the Meliac war. Miletus seems to have later given this place to Samos in exchange for two other places on Cape Mycale, Marathesion and Thebai. Given the uncertainty of the text (Inschriften von Priene no. 37.55–60) it is possible that Miletus received Marathesion as well as Akadamis after the Meliac war; see HN EN4.13 (pp. 642–644). The latter interpretation is followed by Parker (n. 61 above) 122–123.
[ back ] 65. See HN §4.68 (pp. 615–616).
[ back ] 66. See HN §4.67 (pp. 613–615) and n4.232 (p. 617–618) for the speculative suggestion that the Panionia may have first been initiated in Milesian territory at Branchidai.
[ back ] 67. In Nikolaos of Damascus; see HN n4.176 (p. 593).
[ back ] 68. At the beginning of the final segment, in Book 21, this segment all but names itself with the word phonos, “slaughter”: Penelope is about to propose the archery contest, and the poet calls this the phonou arkhē, “beginning of the slaughter,” Odyssey 21.4.
[ back ] 69. See e.g. J. A. Notopoulos, “Studies in Early Greek Oral Poetry,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 68 (1964) 1–77, pp. 9–12, and cf. HN n.4.117 (p. 562).
[ back ] 70. My view that the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed and performed together in tandem is based in large part on Nestor’s role in the two poems, which is all of a piece. Particularly important is the relationship between Nestor’s role in Iliad 8 and his role in Odyssey 3; see HN, Chapter 6, §§2.56–2.89 (pp. 173–217) for this relationship, and §2.89 (pp. 216–217) and §4.23 (pp. 555–557) for an evaluation of its significance.
[ back ] 71. Each of the twelve poets would perform the equivalent of one of the twelve segments, i.e. four books, but not four books in sequence. Many arrangements would be possible depending on factors of both composition and performance; see HN §4.27 (pp. 561–563).
[ back ] 72. The derivation is that of M. Durante, Sulla preistoria della tradizione poetica greca, Vol. 2, Risultanze della comparazione indoeuropea (Rome, 1976) 185–204, elaborating a study published in 1957; see HN §4.41 (pp. 579–582) and EN4.9 (pp. 632–636). The Vedic cognates of Homēros, Homērios (samara-, samarya-) suggest a competitive context; this would also have been a collaborative context in the case of the Homeric poems at the Panionia; see HN §4.25 (pp. 560–561).
[ back ] 73. The ambiguous suffix, used both in patronymics and to designate specialized groups, led easily to this new conception; see HN EN4.9 beginning (p. 633).
[ back ] 74. HN §4.24 (pp. 557–560).
[ back ] 75. The islands were safe from the Lydians, as a story about Croesus in Herodotus 1.27 illustrates (Croesus was dissuaded by Bias, or Pittacus, from building a fleet and contesting the islanders in their strength at sea); see HN §4.41 (pp. 579–582).
[ back ] 76. In addition to Laodamas, with his kingly name, two other sons of Alcinous appear in the Phaeacian episode, Halios and Klytoneos, both with sea-related names. All three of Alcinous’s sons stand up to compete in the games (Odyssey 8.119). Whereas Klytoneos wins the footrace (8.123), Halios and Laodamas do not win a contest; this pair, however, appears later to do a dance with a ball, which wins great admiration from Odysseus (8.370–385). What is claimed here for Alcinous’s favorite son, Laodamas, seems calibrated to be impressive, yet remain modest (he does no more than his brother Halios, neither winning a contest), and it is certainly significant that the dance—a kind of pas de deux involving astounding leaps while passing the ball back and forth—catches the eye of Odysseus. A point could be made about the social aspects of dance versus games—one a collaborative activity, the other competitive—, and which would better serve the image of a leader meant to be seen behind the Phaeacian prince. It should be noted that competition is pointedly ruled out when Alcinous bids his two sons to dance “alone (mounax), because no one could compete with them (erizen)” (8.371). Noteworthy also is the reaction of spectators to the interaction of the dancers on the ground after their leaping performance: the spectators are united in urging the dancers on (8.379–380). Competition, by contrast, would have divided the spectators.
[ back ] 77. The festival of the Panionia, as I have reconstructed its early form and purpose, was itself under threat from an early time, and when the threat finally became a reality the Homeric poems could no longer exist there. It is tempting to connect this real-life threat with Poseidon’s threat in the Odyssey to wall off the Phaeacians with a mountain, effectively putting an end to them as far as the outside world was concerned (Odyssey 13.181–187). The Ionians at the Panionia, if they saw themselves in the Phaeacians, may also have prayed to Poseidon, to whom their festival was dedicated, to preserve their common enterprise, and even their communal existence, which, in the form that they had known it, was becoming increasingly precarious.
[ back ] 78. The degree to which the name “Ionians,” which signified (and continues to signify) “Greeks” to eastern peoples as far as India, grew out of the Panionic league, is considered in HN EN4.14 (pp. 644–647). The name is first attested in Assyrian documents of the eighth century BC (this corrects the statement in the first printing of HN that the first Assyrian evidence is in the seventh century BC; see the third printing and the online version for the correction, bibliography, and alternatives for the precise date of the first evidence, late 730s or 715 BC).
[ back ] 79. For this as a problem in Homeric criticism see B. Hainsworth, A Commentary on Homer’s Odyssey, vol. 1 (Oxford, 1988), 316–317, and HN §3.10 (pp. 350–351).
[ back ] 80. See HN, Chapter 5.
[ back ] 81. Last prize is left over (Iliad 23.615) because Eumelus, who crashed, is awarded a special prize by Achilles.
[ back ] 82. Iliad 23.634–642.
[ back ] 83. He lost to the same twins that he would later chase from the field when he took his brother’s place and became a horseman and single-handedly defeated the double occupants of fifty chariots. Poseidon rescued the twins from Nestor’s path on that day (Iliad 11.747–752). Nestor’s loss to the twins in the chariot race must have preceded his day of triumph on the battlefield. See HN §§2.19–2.20 (pp. 131–134), especially n2.27 (p. 132).
[ back ] 84. Nestor’s speech to Antilochus is in Iliad 23.305–348. The turning post vanishes from the race between lines in Iliad 23.372–373; see HN §2.22 (pp. 135–136).
[ back ] 85. The council of twelve Phaeacian kings, with Alcinous the thirteenth, is in Odyssey 8.390–391; see HN §4.4 (pp. 520–523), with n4.13 (pp. 522–523).
[ back ] 86. Cf. n. 11 above for Herodotus on the Ionians’ diverse origins. As the detailed study of Sakellariou (n. 10 above) makes clear, Thessaly and Boeotia figure most prominently in the pre-colonization origins of Panionic cities (cf. also HN n1.56 [p 33]). This must be relevant to the Thessalian hero Achilles as the main hero of the Iliad. More generally, the reason that the Homeric poems are Panhellenic in scope may in large part be that the collective traditions of the Panionic cities were themselves Panhellenic in scope.
[ back ] 87. Rivalries between the cities of the dodecapolis should not be overlooked. Even in my proposed cooperative model for the expansion of the Homeric poems on a monumental scale, an element of competition among poets from different cities must have figured in the process. Viewed from the standpoint of the Homeric audience, the performance of a poet from one’s own city would have drawn particular attention, and if the incentive for a poet was not necessarily to win, it was at least not to fail; cf. HN, §4.39 (p. 577). In the political realm rivalries between cities of the league are attested for the broad period in question. Samos and Miletus, fellow members of the league, supported opposite sides in the Lelantine war: according to Herodotus 5.99 Miletus waged war together with Eretria against Chalkis, and Samos aided Chalkis against Eretria and Miletus. Leodamas’s victory over Karystos, as noted earlier, was most likely in support of Eretria in this war. Two other members of the Panionic league, Erythrai and Chios, had a breach between them which, like that between Samos and Miletus, may have originated in the Lelantine war. When the Lydian king Alyattes repeatedly attacked Miletus c. 600 BC, only Chios came to Miletus’s aid, and this, according to Herodotus 1.18.3, was because Miletus had earlier helped Chios in a conflict with Erythrai (cf. HN n4.145 [p. 581]). Miletus was thus, it appears, on good terms with Chios, but on less than good terms with two other league cities, Erythrai and Samos, at roughly the same time. An interesting parallel between these two conflicts—Samos and Miletus on the one hand, and Chios and Erythrai on the other hand—is that in each case an island was at odds with a city on the mainland opposite (Chios and Erythrai) or a city on the mainland in reasonably close proximity (Samos and Miletus). What is interesting is that both of the islands in question took an independent line in the Panionic league to judge by the fact that neither claimed a Codrid founder (see HN, n4.8 [pp. 519–520]), and this independence may in part explain their open conflicts with other league members. In the Hellenistic period, as discussed earlier, Samos came into conflict with Priene over possession of the Samian peraea, the mainland territory opposite Samos. This territory was disputed between Samos and Priene since at least the early sixth century BC, and probably since the Meliac war (see HN n4.64 [p. 540]). Priene was a kind of junior partner to Miletus in the Panionic league to judge by the fact that Priene’s Kodrid founder was said to be the son (not the brother) of Miletus’s founder, and also from the fact that Priene was given administration of the league’s common cult at Panionion, which must have had Miletus’s sanction (see HN, §§4.18–19 [pp. 546–550]). This is part of the context, it would seem, in which to view the opposition between Samos and Miletus during the Lelantine war. Miletus’s good relations with Chios, which still held at the time of Alyattes c. 600 BC, and less than good relations with Samos, should be kept in mind when considering that it was on Chios that the Homeridai ended up with the Homeric poems, whereas on Samos a rival group of rhapsodes, the Kreophyleioi, with their rival epic tradition about Heracles, took root. See HN, §4.41 (p. 579–582) and cf. §5.20 (p. 686–688).