|The Best of the Achaeans|
Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry
Copyright © 1980, 1997 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved. First edition 1979. Revised edition 1999. This document may be used, with this notice included, for noncommercial purposes within a subscribed institution. No copies of this work may be distributed electronically outside of the subscribed institution, in whole or in part, without written permission from the JHU Press.
§1. The social dimensions of the actual word akhos 'grief' have so far been explored mainly in terms of its thematic relationship with the concept of lâos 'host of fighting men' in epic diction. The time has now come to explore the meaning of akhos on its own terms.
§2. In Homeric diction, akhos 'grief' functions as a formulaic variant of another es-stem, penthos. Both words designate the grief of Achilles over his loss of tîmê (achos: I 188, XVI 52, 55; penthos: I 362); also, both words designate the grief of Achilles over his loss of Patroklos (achos: XVIII 22, XXIII 47; penthos: XVIII 73). Finally, not only akhos, as at XVI 22, but also penthos designates the collective grief of the Achaeans, as at IX 3; in this passage, there is special emphasis on the grief of their king Agamemnon, which is called akhos as well, at IX 9. Outside the poetic diction, we find expressions like penthos poiêsasthai 'have public mourning [penthos]' (Herodotus 2.1.1; cf. 2.46.3, 6.21.1). Even inside the poetic diction, the collective aspect of penthos is apparent in its application to the public mourning for Hektor (XXIV 708).
§3. This collective aspect is also apparent in the opposition of penthos to kleos. When the healer Makhaon is summoned to heal the wound of Menelaos, the Trojan who had wounded him is said to have kleos as opposed to the collective penthos of the Achaeans:
... tôi men kleos, ammi de penthos
... for him kleos, for us penthos
Whereas the word kleos is used in traditional poetic diction to designate the public prestige of Epos or praise-poetry, the word penthos can indicate the public ritual of mourning, formally enacted with songs of lamentation (as at XXIV 708-781, especially 720-722).
§4. The traditional relationship of penthos with kleos is reflected by its fixed epithet alaston 'unforgettable', which is morphologically parallel to aphthiton 'unfailing', the fixed epithet of kleos (IX 413). There is also an important thematic connection with kleos in the application of alaston to both penthos (XXIV 105, xxiv 423) and akhos (iv 108), since the meaning of alaston is coordinate with the inherited theme of mnêmosunê 'memory'. The conceit of Homeric poetry is that the sacred mnemonic power of the Muses is the key to the kleos of epic. The aoidos 'singer' sings what he sings because the Moûsai put his mind in touch with the realities of the past (mnêsaiat' II 492, kleos II 486, Mousai II 484).
§5. This is not the place for a detailed survey of the word kleos in its function of expressing the very notion of epic poetry within epic poetry--a task that I have attempted elsewhere. I confine myself here to the differences between the traditional genres of poetry, as expressed by the contrast of kleos with penthos/akhos. Not only does the epithet alaston 'unforgettable' of penthos/akhos conjure up the traditional theme of mnêmosunê 'memory', which is inherent in the poetic concept of kleos, but also the word penthos itself is used by the poetry of the Homeric and Hesiodic traditions as a foil for kleos. For a striking example, consider this Hesiodic passage:
ei gar tis kai penthos echôn neokêdeï thumôi
azêtai kradiên akachêmenos, autar aoidos
Mousaôn therapôn kleea proterôn anthrôpôn
humnêsêi makaras te theous, hoi Olumpon echousin,
aips' ho ge dusphrosuneôn epilêthetai oude ti kêdeôn
And if someone has penthos and is distressed having akhos
in a thûmos beset with new cares, yet, when a singer,
therapôn of the Muses, sings the kleos [plural] of men of old
and also the blessed gods that inhabit Olympus,
at once he forgets his sorrows, and his cares
he no longer remembers.
When the singer sings "the kleos [plural] of men of old," the song is in the tradition of an Iliad or an Odyssey; when he sings "the blessed gods," the song is in the general tradition of a Theogony. (I avoid saying "the Iliad" or "the Theogony" in order to suggest that the diction refers simply to established poetic traditions rather than fixed texts.) The conceptual association of Theogonic poetry with the word kleos is made overt a few hexameters earlier in the Hesiodic Theogony, where the Muses are designated as the ones who make into kleos (kleiousin) the genos 'genesis' of the gods:
theôn genos aidoion prôton kleiousin aoidêi
With song they first make into kleos the genesis of the gods, thing of reverence that it is.
A few hexameters later, after the contrast of kleos with penthos (Th. 98-103), the Muses are finally invoked to sing the contents of our Theogony, with the following words:
chairete tekna Dios, dote d' himeroessan aoidên:
kleiete d' athanatôn hieron genos aien eontôn
Hail, children of Zeus! Grant an entrancing song.
Make into kleos the sacred genos[genesis] of the immortals, who always are.
The inherited function of our Theogony, then, is to give kleosto the genesis of the gods. The hearing of such kleos is a remedy for penthos, as we learn from the passage that inaugurated this discussion, the artistic manifesto of Th. 98-103. In Theogonic language, Mnêmosunê 'mnemonic power' gave birth to the Moûsai 'Muses', who were to be the lêsmosunê 'forgetting' of ills:
tas en Pieriêi Kronidêi teke patri migeisa
Mnêmosunê, gounoisin Eleuthêros medeousa,
lêsmosunên te kakôn ampauma te mermêraôn
They were born in Pieria to the one who mated with the son of Kronos,
to Mnêmosunê, who rules over the ridges of Eleuther--
born to be a lêsmosunê of ills and a cessation of anxieties.
§6. Let us now turn from the kleos of the Theogonic tradition to "the kleos [plural] of previous men," as our Theogony calls it (kleea proterôn anthrôpôn: verse 100). To repeat, kleos is used in epic diction to designate the epic tradition itself. Presently, however, we are concerned only with the specific use of this word as an antithesis of penthos/akhos. We begin with the song of Phemios in Odyssey i; his subject is the nostos 'homecoming' of the Achaeans (i 326-327), and his song brings grief rather than entertainment to one of his listeners, who happens to be the wife of Odysseus. Penelope asks the singer to stop his song, because it brings her penthos alaston 'unforgettable grief' (i 342). Just before, her words had described the aoidoi 'singers' generically as those who give kleos to the deeds of heroes and gods:
erg' andrôn te theôn te, ta te kleiousin aoidoi
the deeds of men and gods, which the singers make into kleos
Just after, she says that she always has her husband on her mind (memnêmenê aiei: i 343), and then we hear the following description of Odysseus:
tou kleos euru kath' Hellada kai meson Argos
who has kleos far and wide throughout Hellas and midmost Argos
From the standpoint of an audience listening to the medium of epic, the word kleos can apply to the epic of Odysseus, to the narrative tradition of the Odyssey. From the standpoint of Penelope as a character within the epic, however, the kleos of Odysseus, with all its hardships, entails personal involvement: it brings to mind a grief that cannot be swept away from the mind (cf. memnêmenê aiei 'remembering always': i 343). Telemachus does not yet realize the extent of his own involvement in the unfolding action when he rebukes his mother and urges the singer to continue his song, on the grounds that it is fitting entertainment for an audience (i 346-347). The story of the poet's song is the Will of Zeus, he says (i 347-350), and the song is popular with its audience:
tên gar aoidên mallon epikleious' anthrôpoi
hê tis akouontessi neôtatê amphipelêtai
For men would rather continue to make into kleos the song
that is the newest to make its rounds with the listeners.
On one level, the song is neôtatê 'newest' for an audience of epic, in that it tells of actions that will lead to the nostos'homecoming' of Odysseus, the last Achaean to come home from Troy. On another level, the song is "newest" specifically for Telemachus, in that he is about to become involved in the actions of this nostos.
§7. The factor of personal involvement or noninvolvement decides whether an epic situation calls for penthos or kleos. The figure of Menelaos sets the tone for the involvement of Telemachus. As a warrior who had shared in the hardships of the Achaeans at Troy, Menelaos tells Telemachus that Odysseus is the warrior whose absence he misses and mourns the most of all (iv 100-105; see especially acheuôn 'having akhos' at 100). There is a reason for this:
... epei ou tis Achaiôn toss' emogêsen
hoss' Oduseus emogêse kai êrato. tôi d' ar' emellen
autôi kêde' esesthai, emoi d' achos aien alaston
... since none of the Achaeans struggled so much
as Odysseus struggled and achieved. For him there would be
cares in the future, whereas I would have an akhos alaston[unforgettable grief] always.
This unforgettable akhos now finally involves Telemachus, as he hears from Menelaos how Odysseus is probably being mourned, at this very minute, by his father, wife, and son (iv 110-112). Telemachus indeed begins to weep (iv 113-116), and from here on we find communal weeping at the table of Menelaos when the story of Odysseus comes up (see especially iv 183-185), since he is presently the only Achaean left who is still without a nostos:
... keinon dustênon anostimon oion ...
... that wretched one, the only one who has not come home ...
Later on, Helen tells Menelaos and his guests--Telemachus included--a story of Troy as an entertainment during dinner:
ê toi nun dainusthe kathêmenoi en megaroisi
kai muthois terpesthe: eoikota gar katalexô
Sit now and dine in the palace, and be entertained
by the stories. For the things that I will say in proper order are appropriate.
Her entertaining story, however, begins on a note of grief:
panta men ouk an egô muthêsomai oud' onomênô,
hossoi Odussêos talasiphronos eisin aethloi:
all' hoion tod' erexe kai etlê karteros anêr
dêmôi eni Trôôn, hothi paschete pêmat' Achaioi
I could not possibly tell of or name
all the struggles that are the share of the enduring Odysseus.
but I will tell of this one thing that he did and endured--
--that man of kratos--in the district of Troy, where you Achaeans suffered pains [pêma plural].
All the characters listening to the story are personally involved, and we would expect its words to arouse instant grief on their part, were it not for what Helen did before telling her tale. She put a pharmakon 'drug' in their wine (iv 220), described as:
nêpenthes t' acholon te, kakôn epilêthon hapantôn
without penthos, without anger, making one forget all ills
One who drinks it would not even mourn the death of his mother, father, brother, or son (iv 222-226). What would otherwise be a penthos for Helen's audience can thus remain a kleos, since there is no personal involvement.
§8. Such a distinction between kleos and penthos is even more vivid when Odysseus himself becomes personally involved. He is an unidentified member of the audience as the poet Demodokos starts singing the klea andrôn 'kleos [plural] of men':
Mous' ar' aoidon anêken aeidemenai klea andrôn
oimês tês tot' ara kleos ouranon eurun hikane
The Muse impelled the singer to sing the kleos [plural] of men
from a story thread that had at that time a kleos reaching up to the vast heavens.
The story of the singer concerns "the beginning of pain [pêma]" (pêmatos archê: viii 81) that befell Achaeans and Trojans alike, "on account of the plans of great Zeus" (Dios megalou dia boulas: viii 82). Odysseus immediately begins to weep, though he hides his grief (viii 83-95). Later on, the still-unidentified Odysseus compliments the Trojan story of the poet as "correct":
liên gar kata kosmon Achaiôn oiton aeideis,
hoss' erxan t' epathon te kai hoss' emogêsan Achaioi
You sing in very correct fashion the fate of the Achaeans,
all the things that they did and suffered and struggled for.
He then asks Demodokos to shift ahead in subject matter (metabêthi: viii 492) and sing about the Trojan Horse (viii 492-495). The poet obliges, beginning within a traditional framework (enthen helôn hôs ... 'taking it from the place in the story where ...': viii 500), and the cumulative effect of his Trojan story is that Odysseus again bursts into tears (viii 521-534). This time the host Alkinoos draws attention to the still-unidentified guest's grief (akhos: viii 541), and he calls on Odysseus to explain what amounts to an internalized lamentation:
eipe d' ho ti klaieis kai odureai endothi thumôi
Argeiôn Danaôn ide Iliou oiton akouôn.
ton de theoi men teuxan, epeklôsanto d' olethron
anthrôpois, hina êisi kai essomenoisin aoidê
Tell why you weep and lament within your thûmos
upon hearing the fate of the Argive Danaans and of Ilion.
The gods fashioned it, and they were the ones who ordained
destruction for men, so that it might be a song for men yet to be.
What is an akhos for Odysseus is for future audiences simply a "song" like the Iliad, with its plot enacted by the Will of Zeus and his gods.
§9. The plot in this third song of Demodokos is strikingly parallel to the plot of the Cyclic Iliou Persis as we find it in the Proclus summary (pp. 107-108 Allen). But there is an interesting variation. On the one hand, the narrative in the Iliou Persis draws to a close with the destruction of Troy and such specific scenes as the killing of Astyanax by Odysseus and the enslavement of Andromache by Pyrrhos (p. 108.8-9). On the other hand, the narrative of Demodokos is interrupted, before it draws to a close, by the weeping of Odysseus. The action stops just when various Achaean heroes are performing their various grisly feats during the destruction of Troy, such as the killing of Deiphobos (viii 516-520). At this point, the weeping of Odysseus is compared by way of a simile to the weeping of a widow who is taken as captive by a ruthless enemy after the destruction of her city and the killing of her husband (viii 523-531). The husband is described as a hero who fell in front of his city, where he was defending both the community and his children (viii 524-525). The resemblance with Hektor is unmistakable. The generic situation in the simile is thus strikingly parallel to the specific situation of Andromache at the end of the Iliou Persis. In this sense, the simile that pictures the weeping of Odysseus completes the narrative that his weeping had interrupted. And the captive widow also has akhos (viii 530), so that the akhos of Odysseus is universalized: he now feels the grief of his own victims in war, and his involvement is thus complete.
§10. In sum, we see from the evidence of epic itself that the kleos heard by its audiences may be akhos/penthos for those involved in the actions that it describes. Alkinoos perceives the akhos of Odysseus when he sees his guest's reaction to the kleos sung about the Trojan War. As a considerate host, he even asks Odysseus whether he had a male relative or hetaîros 'comrade' who died at Troy (viii 581-586). This theme brings us back to the Iliad, where Achilles has akhos/penthos (XVIII 22/73) over the death of Patroklos, his hetaîros (XVIII 80, etc.). It is this grief that impels him to go forth finally and fight, and here is how Achilles says it:
... nun de kleos esthlon aroimên
... but now let me win worthy kleos
After the death of Patroklos, the Achilles figure uses the expression nun de 'but now' (as also here) no fewer than fifteen times in our Iliad. With his akhos/penthos over Patroklos, "Achilles enters the realm of kleos."
§11. By entering his war, Achilles knowingly approaches certain death (XVIII 95-99), which in turn will bring penthos to his mother (XVIII 88). The choice for him had been clear all along: either a nostoswithout kleos (IX 414-415) or kleos without nostos (IX 412-413). If he gives up a safe homecoming--that is, if he chooses not to be the hero of a story about homecoming--Achilles will die at Troy but will have a kleos that is aphthiton 'unfailing' (IX 413). In other words, he will be the central figure of an epic tradition that will never die out. And the key to the kleos of Achilles' epic is the akhos/penthos over Patroklos.
§12. We are now ready to consider the semantics of the name Patroklos (cf. I 345, etc.)/Patrokleês (cf. I 337, etc.), a compound formation referring to the kleos 'glory' of the pateres 'ancestors' (on the latter meaning of the word pateres, see VI 209, etc.). These two notions of "glory" and "ancestors" within the compound Patro-kleês(/Patro-klos) should be compared with the two notions in the combination kleea = kleos [plural] and proterôn anthrôpôn = "previous men" in Hesiod Th. 100 (where kleos [plural] is antithetical to penthos at verse 98). The semantics of kleea proterôn anthrôpôn 'the kleos [plural] of previous men', an expression that had provided the starting point for this discussion of akhos/penthos and kleos, has a parallel in epic, where the specific application is to Achilles himself. Here is the Iliadic parallel to the combination in Hesiod Th. 100:
houtô kai tôn prosthen epeuthometha klea andrôn
We learn this also from the kleos [plural] of men of the past,
who were the heroes ... 
These words introduce the story that Phoinix tells Achilles, taken from the epic tradition of Meleager. As Dale Sinos has shown in detail, this story is intended to illustrate the ethical principle of philotês 'being a philos' in warrior society. It is an epic exemplum, or klea andrôn 'kleos [plural] of men', set before Achilles so that he may be persuaded to lay aside his anger and to rejoin his hetaîroi 'comrades-in-arms', who are his philoi.
§13. As we proceed to consider the story of Meleager, we must keep in mind the institutional and sentimental connotations of this word philos/philoi, conventionally translated as "friend" when it is a noun and as "dear" or "one's own" when it is an adjective. For a suggestive discussion, I refer to Benveniste's acute reading of philos in its Homeric contexts. For now, however, I merely cite what he sees as the results of his findings:
It would take many chapters to list and analyze with the necessary care all the examples of phílos where it is said to be "possessive." We believe, however, that we have interpreted the most important. This re-examination was necessary to expose a long-standing error, which is probably as old as Homeric exegesis, and has been handed down from generation to generation of scholars. The whole problem of phílos deserves a full examination. We must start from uses and contexts which reveal in this term a complex network of associations, some with the institutions of hospitality, others with usages of the home, still others with emotional behavior[italics mine]; we must do this in order to understand plainly the metaphorical applications to which the term lent itself. All this wealth of concepts was smothered and lost to view once phílos was reduced to a vague notion of friendship or wrongly interpreted as a possessive adjective. It is high time we learned again how to read Homer.
§14. The story of Meleager, like the story of Achilles, tells of the hero's withdrawal from battle. Like Achilles, Meleager is angry:
... cholon thumalgea pessôn
... mulling his anger, which caused pain for his thûmos
The same words apply to the anger of Achilles:
... cholon thumalgea pessei
Compare also these words addressed to Achilles:
paue', ea de cholon thumalgea
Stop! Abandon your anger, which causes pain for your thûmos.
The parallels are even deeper: while the anger of Achilles was preceded by the anger of Apollo, the anger of Meleager (IX 525, 553) was preceded by the anger of Apollo's sister, Artemis (IX 533-535). Just as Achilles is destined by tradition to die at the hands of Apollo himself (XXI 275-278; cf. Pindar Paean 6.78-80), so also Meleager (Hesiod fr. 25.9-13MW).
§15. I save the most important point of comparison for last: the comrades of Meleager, his hetaîroi, rate as next-to-highest in the narrative sequence that catalogues those who have ties to the hero and who are now entreating him to rejoin his comrades-in-arms. The ranking of the hero's social affinities at IX 574-591 implicitly presents Meleager as one who loves the elders not so much as the priests not so much as his father not so much as his sisters not so much as his mother not so much as his hetairoi not so much as his wife. As the studies of J. T. Kakridis have shown, variations in the listing of a hero's affinities represent a relative ranking of these affinities in Homeric narrative and constitute a poetic convention in itself. In comparison with other attested occurrences of this convention, which Kakridis calls "the ascending scale of affection," the position of the hetaîroi in the Meleager story is noticeably high. This preeminence can be seen not only on the level of theme but also on the level of form. Here is how the hetaîroi of Meleager, his comrades-in-arms, are described:
hoi hoi kednotatoi kai philtatoi êsan hapantôn
... the hetaîroi,
who were for him the most cherished and most philoi of all
On the level of theme, the one relation in the listing that outranks even the hetaîroi is the wife of Meleager, Kleopatre. This name Kleo-patrê (IX 556) combines the same notions kleos 'glory' and pateres 'ancestors' as that of Patroklos ~ Patro-kleês. By their very etymologies, these compound names Kleo-patrê and Patro-kleês convey with their mutually inverted members a parallel epic theme. For Achilles, then, the story of Meleager has a distinct message: in his own ascending scale of affection as dramatized by the entire composition of the Iliad, the highest place must belong to Patroklos, whose name has the same meaning as the name of Kleopatre. In fact, Patroklos is for Achilles the polu philtatos ...hetairos--the 'hetaîros who is the most philos by far' (XVII 411, 655). The words of Achilles himself put it this way, as we find him in a later scene grieving for his fallen comrade:
alla ti moi tôn êdos, epei philos ôleth' hetairos,
Patroklos, ton egô peri pantôn tion hetairôn
But what pleasure is there for me in these things? For my philos hetaîros has perished,
Patroklos, to whom I gave more tîmê than to all the other hetaîroi.
§16. For Phoinix, however, the code of the Meleager story, as he introduces it, has a different message. In his words, the Achaeans who are "most philoi" to Achilles (philtatoi: IX 522) are now entreating him to rejoin them in their desperate battle. As Achilles refuses to relent, another of the three delegates describes the hero with these words of reproach:
... oude metatrepetai philotêtos hetairôn
... and he is not swayed by being philos of his hetaîroi
The speaker here is Ajax, and he is speaking for all his fellow delegates as he affirms that they all want to be, among all the Achaeans, "the most philoi" to Achilles (philtatoi: IX 642). Achilles himself, who had been brought up by his father to choose "being philos" over strife (philophrosunê: IX 256), actually addresses the delegates as "the most philoi of the Achaeans" (Achaiôn philtatoi: IX 198; cf. 204). Nevertheless, the delegates fail in their attempt to persuade Achilles to rejoin the philoi. The klea andrôn = 'kleos [plural] of men', the story about Meleager as told by Phoinix "in the midst of all the philoi" (en ... pantessi philoisi: IX 528), points Achilles first towards the individual philos, Patroklos, and only the death of this comrade will finally lead the central hero of the Iliad back to the collective philoi. As Sinos has argued in detail, Patroklos is the link of Achilles to the philoi. When Patroklos enters the war as the surrogate of Achilles, the Trojans are terrified, thinking that Achilles has cast aside his mênis so that he may rescue his philoi:
mênithmon men aporripsai, philotêta d' helesthai
that he has cast aside his state of mênis and has chosen being philos instead.
But it is really Patroklos who restores the philotês 'state of being philoi' between Achilles and the Achaeans. As Sinos points out, Patroklos will have to sacrifice himself and die so that Achilles may recognize his social obligation to his philoi:
oude ti Patroklôi genomên phaos oud' hetaroisi
tois allois, hoi dê polees damen Hektori diôi
I did not become the Light for Patroklos or for the other hetaîroi
who fell in great numbers at the hands of brilliant Hektor.
§17. The delegates to Achilles fail where the death of Patroklos succeeds. Despite their claim to be the most philoi to Achilles, he rejects their offer of compensation to him because--from the standpoint of the Iliad--Patroklos is even more philos than they. This ultimate motivation, however, is not yet manifest in Book IX, as Ajax is expressing his outrage at the rejection:
agrion en stêthessi theto megalêtora thumon,
schetlios, oude metatrepetai philotêtos hetairôn
tês hêi min para nêusin etiomen exochon allôn,
nêlês: kai men tis te kasignêtoio phonêos
poinên ê hou paidos edexato tethnêôtos.
kai rh' ho men en dêmôi menei autou poll' apoteisas,
tou de t' erêtuetai kradiê kai thumos agênôr
poinên dexamenôi: soi d' allêkton te kakon te
thumon eni stêthessi theoi thesan heineka kourês
has made savage the great-hearted thûmos within his breast,
the wretch. And he has no care for being philos with his hetaîroi,
the way we honored him by the ships far beyond the others,
the pitiless one. And yet it can happen that a man takes compensation from the murderer of his own brother or of his own son who is killed.
And the offending party pays much and stays there in the district,
while the injured party's heart is curbed, and so too his proud thûmos,
once he accepts the compensation. But the gods have placed in you
a thûmos that is unyielding and bad,
all on account of one girl.
Achilles may be the most philos to his comrades-in-arms, but they are not the most philoi to him. Ajax thinks that the girl taken away from Achilles by Agamemnon, with the passive acquiescence of the Achaeans, is even more philê than they. This theme again conjures up Kleopatre, who was indeed by implication the most philê to Meleager--especially in view of what Achilles himself had said of the girl Briseis, who was taken from him:
epei hos tis anêr agathos kai echephrôn
tên autou phileei kai kêdetai, hôs kai egô tên
ek thumou phileon, douriktêtên per eousan
Since whatever man is good and sensible
loves his own wife [has a wife who is philê to him] and cares for her. So also I loved her [she was philê to me]
with all my thûmos, even though she was only a prisoner.
There is another connection in what Achilles says just before this profession that Briseis is philê to him:
ê mounoi phileous' alochous meropôn anthrôpôn
Or is it that the Atreidai are the only men
who love their wives [whose wives are philai to them]?
The wife in question here is distinctly not philê: she is Helen, cause of the entire Trojan War.
§18. To continue: Ajax thinks that Briseis ranks highest in the ascending scale of affection that determines the behavior of Achilles. In the passage already quoted, the protest of Ajax is founded on the surface inequity: whereas another man would accept compensation from the killer of his own brother or son, Achilles persists in refusing compensation from Agamemnon and the Achaeans--who had merely taken away from him a girl-prisoner (IX 628-638). And yet, as we have seen, the theme of Briseis as philê to Achilles conjures up the theme of Kleopatre as philê to Meleager. The words of Ajax are a code with one message for Ajax himself but with quite another message for the audience of our Iliad. Meshing with the theme of Kleopatre, the words of Ajax indirectly point toward Patroklos as the ultimate philos. But now we will also see that the theme serving as a foil for that of the girl, namely the readiness of a man to accept compensation from the killer of his own brother or son, also points to Patroklos.
§19. From the retrospective vantage point of Book XXIV, Apollo is telling why the hero Achilles is so repellent to him:
mellei men pou tis kai philteron allon olessai,
êe kasignêton homogastrion êe kai huion
For a man could easily lose someone else who is more philos,
either a brother from the same womb or even a son.
More philos than whom? Patroklos, of course! Here the issue is no longer whether or not Achilles is to accept compensation from Agamemnon and the Achaeans for the taking of a girl, but rather, whether or not he is to accept compensation first from Hektor and later from his family and the Trojans in general for the killing of Patroklos. Apollo is repelled by the refusal of Achilles to show pity and cease taking vengeance on Hektor's corpse. The theme of a brother's or son's death is already at work in the words of Ajax at IX 628-638, but there it serves as a foil for the taking of a girl, not yet directly for the actual killing of Patroklos. In both passages, IX 628-638 and XXIV 46-47, the constant is the pitiless temperament that refuses compensation.
§20. The same temperament we find frozen in the artistic microcosm of the Shield of Achilles, Iliad XVIII. This panorama of universal situations applying to the central themes of the Iliad features as one of its main scenes the image of a litigation between two parties:
ho men eucheto pant' apodounai
dêmôi piphauskôn, ho d' anaineto mêden helesthai
One man, in his declaration to the dêmos, was saying that he paid [the compensation for murder] in full,
while the other [the man with ties to the victim] was refusing to take anything.
For the translation and exegesis, I am guided by the brilliant work of Leonard Muellner, who has also shown that the archetypal quarrel pictured here concerned whether the man with affinities to the victim is or is not bound to accept the compensation offered him--the word for which is poinê (XVIII 498), precisely the same term that was applied to the compensation offered for the hypothetical death of one's brother or son in the speech of Ajax (IX 633, 636). In addition, Muellner points out that the syntax of mêden at XVIII 500 must mean that the little man in the picture on the shield will absolutely never accept any compensation. This utter inflexibility of an aggrieved party who is permanently frozen into the picture reflects the same temperament that is so repellent to Apollo in the heroic figure of Achilles. Apollo says of him:
hôi out' ar phrenes eisin enaisimoi oute noêma
gnampton eni stêthessi, leôn d' hôs agria oiden
His thinking is not right and his sense of noos
is not flexible within his breast, but like a lion he knows savage ways.
Old Phoinix had already entreated him with these words:
all', Achileu, pore kai su Dios kourêisin hepesthai
timên, hê t' allôn per epignamptei noon esthlôn
So, Achilles, you too must grant that the Daughters of Zeus [Litai 'Prayers', personified] be given their honor,
which makes flexible the noos of others, good as they are.
What Ajax had said against Achilles still applies when Apollo saysit again:
agrion en stêthessi theto megalêtora thumon
He made savage the great-hearted thûmos within his breast.
... agria oiden
... he knows savage ways
< part="I">pitiless one ...
... eleon men apôlesen
... he lost pity
§21. The savage and inflexible temperament of Achilles is a constant extending all the way to Iliad XXIV, which marks the point where pity begins to set in and the ultimate heroic refinement of the Iliadic hero is about to be achieved. The remarkable thing is that the ethical dilemma of the Iliad is already set in the Embassy Scene of Book IX, where the words of the Achaean delegates--without their being aware of it--are a code that carries the message of Patroklos for Achilles.
§22. Just as Patroklos led Achilles to rejoin his comrades-in-arms, it was Kleopatre who had impelled Meleager to reenter his war. The words of Kleopatre had conjured up the grief that happens when a city is destroyed:
... kai hoi katelexen hapanta
kêde' hos' anthrôpoisi pelei tôn astu halôêi:
andras men kteinousi, polin de te pur amathunei,
tekna de t' alloi agousi bathuzônous te gunaikas
... and she told him in their proper order
all the cares that befall men whose city is captured:
they kill the men, fire reduces the city to ashes,
and strangers lead away the children and deep-girdled wives
Within this highly compressed presentation, we see the same themes as in the formal lamentation of Andromache (XXIV 725-745) during the public penthos for Hektor. In Andromache's lament, the thematic setting for her personal grief is the portended collective grief surrounding the portended destruction of the city. In fact, Kleopatre herself has the stance of lamentation (oduromenê 'mourning', IX 591), just as those who "mourn" Hektor (odurontai: XXIV 740). Furthermore, Kleopatre even has a by-name that connotes the very essence of penthos:
tên de tot' en megaroisi patêr kai potnia mêtêr
Alkuonên kaleeskon epônumon, hounek' ar' autês
mêtêr alkuonos polupentheos oiton echousa
klaien ho min hekaergos anêrpase Phoibos Apollôn
And her father and mother in the palace called her Alkuonê,
because her mother had the fate of an alkuôn, a bird of much penthos,
and wept because far-reaching Apollo snatched her away.
In sum, it was the grief conjured up by Kleo-patrê that impelled Meleager to enter the war and thus undertake the epic deeds that resulted in "the kleos [plural] of men who lived before, heroes" (tôn prosthen ... klea andrôn hêrôôn: IX 524-525). Similarly, the grief caused by the actual death of Patro-kleês leads to the "unfailing kleos" of Achilles in the epic tradition of the Iliad (kleos aphthiton: IX 413).
§23. Because of Patro-kleês, Achilles gets kleos. Conversely, because of *Akhi-lâuos, Patroklos gets akhos/penthos from the Achaeans. In general, the akhos that Patroklos gets from Achilles at XXIII 47 is formalized in a public dimension as the Funeral Games throughout Iliad XXIII. In particular, this akhos is formalized when Achilles leads the Achaeans in lamentation for Patroklos:
... hoi d' 'môxan aollees, êrche d' Achilleus
... and they all wailed together, and Achilles led them
toisi de Pêleïdês hadinou exêrche gooio
The son of Peleus led them in frequent goos [lamentation].
Similarly, in the public penthos over Hektor (XXIV 708), Andromache leads the Trojan women in songs of lamentation for her husband:
para d' heisan aoidous
thrênôn exarchous, hoi te stonoessan aoidên
hoi men ar' ethrêneon, epi de stenachonto gunaikes.
têisin d' Andromachê leukôlenos êrche gooio
And they seated next to him [Hektor's corpse] aoidoi [singers, poets] who were to lead in the thrênoi[lamentations].
They sang a wailing song, singing thrênoi. And the women wailed in response,
and white-armed Andromache led them in the goos [lamentation].
The dimension of singing lamentations, which is only implicit in the epic use of the words akhos/penthos by way of contrast with kleos, is here made explicit. As Margaret Alexiou has shown in detail, the traditional genre of lamentation is an integral element in funerary ritual, requiring an interplay of two subgenres: the kin sing gooi while poets sing thrênoi, as described in the Iliadic passage we have just considered. The genre of epic, however, imposes numerous restrictions on its own thematic treatment of lamentations. Nowhere, for instance, can we see epic overtly telling the contents of the thrênoi, even though they are suitable for singing by aoidoi 'singers, poets', as at 720-721 above; only gooi are "quoted," as at XXIV 725-745 (Andromache), 748-759 (Hekabe), and 762-775 (Helen).
§24. There is an even more important restriction evident in epic: the Iliad itself does not treat the tradition of lamentations for Achilles within the actual context of a real funerary ritual. True, Thetis and her sister Nereids have a stylized wake for Achilles as if he were a corpse being laid out for the prothesis 'wake' (cf. especially XVIII 71), and the stylized mourning for Achilles commences immediately after he gets his permanent akhos, from hearing the news that Patroklos is dead (XVIII 22-73). But the Iliadic tradition requires Achilles to prefigure his dead self by staying alive, and the real ritual of a real funeral is reserved by the narrative for his surrogate Patroklos. Only outside our Iliad, in the retrospective format of the Odyssey, can we witness the actual wake of Achilles, with the Muses and his own kin, the Nereids, singing lamentations over his corpse (xxiv 58-61). As we have already seen from its other retrospective glimpses of the Trojan War story, our Odyssey treats Iliadic traditions as if it were referring to other poetic traditions, such as that of lamentation itself.
§25. The point remains, then, that the epic tradition of the Iliad assigns the overtly ritual dimension of akhos/penthos to Patroklos. Conversely, the kleos that Achilles gets from the Iliad is distinctly nonritual on the level of epic. As we have seen from the internal evidence of epic itself, the klea andrôn 'kleos [plural] of men' are intended as an elevated form of entertainment, and they bring akhos/penthos only to those who are involved in the akhos/penthos that the kleos may happen to describe. For the uninvolved audience of epic, the death of Patroklos is a subject for kleos. For the involved Achilles, it is akhos/penthos. It follows, then, that the death of Achilles himself would be akhos/penthos for those involved and thus unsuitable for the kleos of epic. From the fact that our Iliad substitutes the death of Patro-kleês, we may infer that the death of Achilles may have been unsuitable for the kleos of the Iliadic tradition partly because the audience itself was involved in his death. There is a religious dimension here. Communal involvement in akhos/penthos requires the rituals of cult, as we have already seen from the evidence on the cult of Demeter Akhaiâ. By performing ritual lamentations, the community involves itself with the akhos of Demeter over the kathodos of Kore.
§26. The death of Achilles would be an akhos not only to the lâos, in epic, but also to the community at large, in cult. There are clear traces that we can cite from the hero cults of Achilles in the classical and even postclassical periods. For just one example, let us consider a custom in Elis that Pausanias mentions in connection with various local athletic traditions--among them the restricted use of a site with the epichoric name of hieros dromos 'sacred run' (6.23.2). On an appointed day at the beginning of the Olympic Games, as the sun is sinking in the west, the women of Elis perform various rituals to worship Achilles (tou Achilleôs drôsin es timên), and the ritual that is singled out specifically is that of mourning (koptesthai: Pausanias 6.23.3). Whereas Achilles gets kleos from epic, he gets akhos/ penthos from cult.
§27. This is not the place, of course, to attempt a detailed exposition of how the cult of heroes in Greek religion is decidedly not some relatively late phenomenon, motivated somehow by the stories of heroes in Greek epic. The monumental work of Erwin Rohde remains one of the most eloquent sources for our understanding the hêrôs 'hero' as a very old and distinct concept of traditional Greek religion, requiring cult practices that were also distinct from those of the gods. The cult of heroes was a highly evolved transformation of the worship of ancestors, within the social context of the city-state or polis. As a parallel, I would propose that the klea andrôn /hêrôôn 'kleos [plural] of men who were heroes' of Iliad IX 524-525 represents the evolution of Greek epic from earlier "stories about the ancestors," as still represented by the names Kleo-patrê/Patro-kleês, and, vestigially, by the function of the traditional figures assigned to these names.
§28. In order to understand the Homeric perspective on hêrôes, the emergence of Homeric Epos must be seen in its social context, dated to the eighth century B.C. This same era is marked by the emergence of (1) the polis and (2) intensive intercommunication among the elite of the various poleis, a phenomenon which we have defined as Panhellenism. I will leave the details and documentation to Anthony Snodgrass and others, confining myself here to the problem of contrasting the cult of heroes, which is restricted to the local level of the polis, with the Homeric kleos of heroes, which is Panhellenic and thus free from such restrictions. The point is, essentially, that the eighth century B.C. is the setting not only for the emergence of Homeric Epos but also for the upsurge of hero cults, an institution that reflects not the beginnings but rather the strong revival of a continuous heritage. Following Rohde, we may properly refer to such a heritage in terms of ancestor worship, which later became hero cult. It is in the context of the polis that the worship of ancestors evolved into the cult of heroes. Moreover, the epic tradition was also evolving within the same context. The internal evidence of the Iliad and the Odyssey reflects the ideology of the polis in general --but without being restricted to the ideology of any one polis in particular. Here, then, is the central issue: the Panhellenic Epos is the product of the same era that produced an upsurge in local hero cults.
§29. The hero of cult must be local because it is a fundamental principle in Greek religion that his power is local. On the other hand, the Iliad and the Odyssey are Panhellenic. What results is that the central heroes of this epic tradition cannot have an overtly religious dimension in the narrative. Such a restriction on the self-expression of epic led Rohde to misunderstand the Homeric evidence on heroes. In general, his thesis was that the overall Homeric silence on the subject of hero cults implies an absence of even the ideological background. In specifics, however, Rohde himself noticed sporadic instances in the Iliad and the Odyssey where some sort of reference is indeed being made to hero cults, but he did not integrate this evidence, which went against his thesis. Each of these instances would require a detailed exposition, but I restrict the discussion here to just one instance that reflects on the status of Patroklos/Achilles in the Iliad.
§30. As Rohde himself had noticed, the Funeral of Patroklos at Iliad XXIII has several features that connote the rituals of hero cults. For example, the wine libation (XXIII 218-221) and the offering of honey with oil (XXIII 170; cf. xxiv 67-68) "can hardly be regarded as anything but sacrificial." Such marginal details of cult, as also the integral element of singing lamentations at XXIII 12 and 17, give ritual form to the akhos of Achilles for Patroklos at XXIII 47. Even the central epic action of Book XXIII, the Funeral Games of Patroklos, has ritual form. In Homeric narrative, the funeral of a hero is the primary occasion for athletic contests (XXIII 630-631: Amarynkeus; xxiv 85-86: Achilles himself). In classical times, local athletic contests were still motivated as funeral games for the epichoric hero (cf., e.g., Pausanias 8.4.5). As a general principle, the agôn was connected with the cult of heroes, and even the Great Panhellenic Games were originally conceived as funeral games for heroes. The custom of mourning for Achilles at the beginning of the Olympics (Pausanias 6.23.3) is a striking instance of this heritage. As a parallel, epic offers a corresponding single event in the mourning for Patroklos that inaugurates the Funeral Games in Book XXIII. Even though there are hints within the Iliad that the Funeral of Patroklos is presented as a grand beginning of cult (XXIV 592-595), the overt singularity of the event forced Rohde to rule it out as a parallel to the cult of heroes, which is recurrent. And yet, the Iliad itself is a singularity. What is recurrent in ritual is timeless in the epic tradition, just like the kleos aphthiton of Achilles.
§2n2. Cf. also XVI 548-553: it is penthos that makes the Trojans want to recover the body of Sarpedon.
§3n1. Ch.1§2, Ch.12§3; cf. Nagy 1974.229-261.
§4n1. Nagy 1974.256.
§5n1. Nagy 1974.244-255; see also Koller 1972.
§5n2. Nagy, pp. 255-261.
§5n3. On the notion "therapôn of the Muses": Ch.17§§3-9, Ch.18§§1-6.
§5n4. Cf. Kullmann 1956, esp. pp. 11, 20.
§5n5. Cf. also line 33: humnein ... genos.
§5n6. Cf. West 1966.189.
§5n7. The connection of genos here with the notion of "theogony" is made even more explicit at Th. 114-115. On the traditional nature of theogonic poetry: Duban 1975.
§5n8. On the etymology of Moûsai: Ch.1§3n2.
§5n9. Cf. also Th. 61.
§6n1. Nagy 1974.244-255.
§6n2. Even this narrative of a narrative obeys the convention of beginning with a word that serves as title (in this case, nostos at i 326), followed by an epithet and then a relative clause that sets forth the relationship of the title word to the main subject (in this case, how Athena caused the nostos of the Achaeans from Troy to be a baneful one indeed: i 327). See Ch.5§8n1. Thus the word nostos here designates not only the homecoming of the Achaeans but also the epic tradition that told about their homecoming.
§6n3. On the Will of Zeus as the plot of the narrative, see the comments on viii 577-580 at §8; also Ch.5§25n2 and Ch.7§17.
§6n4. For the semantics of kleiô/epikleiô, compare aineô/epaineô, the technical and programmatic words for "praise" in praise poetry (e.g., Pindar O.4.14/P.2.67; see Detienne 1973.18-22). Cf. also the technical word used by rhapsôidoi for the notion of "recite Homer": Homêron epaineîn (Plato Ion 536d, 541e).
§6n5. See also n2 above. For further discussion of the two-level application of kleos to characters within the narrative and to the audience outside the narrative: Nagy 1974.11-13. More on i 351-352 in Nagy 1990.69.
§9n1. See Friis Johansen 1967.28 on the corresponding theme in archaic iconography: warriors killing children in the presence of women. In fact, the iconographical evidence indicates "a coherent Iliou Persis narrative as source" (Friis Johansen, p. 36).
§10n1. Bassett 1933.58.
§10n2. Sinos 1975.104.
§11n1. At XXIV 105, her penthos is described as alaston 'unforgettable'.
§11n2. Ch.2§11; cf. also Nagy 1974.250-255.
§12n1. Cf. Eteoklos in Hesiod fr. 70.34MW, a by-form of Eteokleês; also Dioklos (H.Dem. 153), a by-form of Diokleês/Dioklês (H.Dem. 474, 477).
§12n2. To justify my interpretation of this passage, I cite Schmitt 1967.93-95.
§12n3. Sinos 1975.67-70. For further observations about the intent of this story: Rosner 1976.
§12n4. Sinos 1975.70-79.
§13n1. Benveniste 1969 I 338-353.
§13n2. Benveniste 1969 I 352-353 = 1973.288.
§14n1. For additional parallelisms on the level of diction between the stories of Meleager and Achilles, see Rosner 1976.323.
§14n2. Cf. Lord 1967.243.
§14n3. At XXI 275-278, Apollo alone is pictured as killing Achilles; at XIX 416-417 and XXII 358-360, on the other hand, Achilles is killed by Apollo and Paris.
§15n1. Kakridis 1949.21-24.
§15n2. Kakridis, p. 21.
§15n3. Cf. Howald 1946.132.
§16n1. On the terms code and message (as used by Jakobson 1960), see further at Ch.12§§18-19.
§16n2. Sinos 1975.
§16n3. Sinos 1975.74.
§16n4. The same notion of "becoming the Light" for men by virtue of being their savior is more fully expressed by way of simile: see Ch.20§20.
§20n1. Muellner 1976.105-106.
§21n1. See Rosner 1976.321-322, supplementing Whitman 1958.203-207 and Segal 1971.18 ff.
§22n1. For the tradition of lamentation over the destruction of cities: Alexiou 1974.83-101. Compare the akhos of the captive woman in viii 530, corresponding to the akhos experienced by Odysseus when he is about to hear Demodokos narrate the destruction of Troy. Discussion at §9.
§22n2. Cf. Anthologia Palatina 9.151.8, where only the Nereids remain after the destruction of Corinth: sôn acheôn mimnomen halkuones. For the traditional connection of (h)alkuones and Nereids, see Theocritus 7.59-60. See also Alexiou 1974.97: "Like the folk songs for the fall of Constantinople, many of these ballads open with the theme of weeping birds--nightingales, swallows and cuckoos--which, as sole survivors of the disaster, bring the news to others and are called upon to join in the general lamentation."
§22n3. For a possible allusion to this theme in the Odyssey: §10. Note the last words of Andromache's first lament for Hektor: kleos einai 'that there be kleos' (XXII 514).
§23n1. More details at §30.
§23n2. Alexiou 1974.10-14. I should note that the semantic distinction between gooi and thrênoi is generally not maintained in the diction of Athenian tragedy.
§23n3. See Alexiou, p. 13, with more details about the social prestige of the thrênos.
§24n1. See Kakridis 1949.67-68.
§24n2. Cf. Alexiou 1974.10-14. Here too (as at XXIV 721), thrênoi are being sung (xxiv 61); however, now the singers are not aoidoi (as at XXIV 720) but the Muses themselves (xxiv 60). Cf. also Pindar P.3.100-103: the death of Achilles causes goos for the Danaans.
§24n3. For example, the narrative convention of the Dios boulê'Will of Zeus' as at Iliad I 5 is treated as a foil by Odyssey i 7 (see Maehler 1963.23) as well as by viii 577-580.
§26n1. For the traditional use of the word lâos outside the context of epic to designate the community at large, see Benveniste 1969 II 91-95, esp. on lêiton, leitourgiâ. Note that lêiton is described in Herodotus 7.197 as a word proper to the Akhaioi.
§26n2. For this and other examples of cult practices in honor of Achilles, see Nilsson 1906.457. In the case of Pausanias 6.23.2, I am unsure about any direct connection between the hieros dromos 'sacred run' and the lore surrounding Achilles, but it may be worth pointing out this hero's specific affinity with the theme of running; see esp. Ch.20§9 (cf. also XVIII 56 as discussed at Ch.10§11 and n4).
§26n3. Cf. Herodotus 5.67.5, where the earliest known stages of the local cult of Adrastos at Sikyon are being described: ta te dê alla hoi Sikuônioi etimôn ton Adrêston kai dê pros ta pathea autou tragikoisi choroisi egerairon 'the people of Sikyon gave tîmê to Adrastos in various ways; in particular, they honored him [gave him geras] with tragic songs/dances corresponding to the things that he suffered [pathos plural]'. On pathos 'thing suffered' as related to penthos 'grief', see Nagy 1974.258-260. Both nouns are derived from the root *k
§27n1. See especially Rohde I 146-199. For a strong critique of the opposing view as represented by L. R. Farnell, see Brelich 1958.99n81, who comments also on the irony that Farnell is a noted commentator on the poetry of Pindar. See also the criticism of Farnell by Pötscher 1961.336n91.
§27n2. Cf. Rohde I 108-110; also Brelich 1958.144n202, Nilsson I 186, Schnaufer 1970.34, Alexiou 1974.19.
§28n1. See Intro.§14.
§28n2. See Intro.§14nn1-2.
§28n3. On which see Snodgrass 1971.191-193. Cf. Intro.§18.
§28n4. Snodgrass, pp. 398-399. I cannot agree with the argument of Coldstream 1976 that the upsurge of hero cults in the eighth century is a mere result of Homeric poetry. Snodgrass himself has offered a refutation of this view in a paper presented at the Convegno internazionale sulla ideologia funeraria nel mondo antico, Naples/Ischia 6-10 December 1977 (sponsored by the Istituto Universitario Orientale [Naples] and the Centre de Recherches Comparées sur les sociétés anciennes [Paris]). The title of the paper read by A. Snodgrass was: "The Origins of the Greek Hero-Cults"; other papers include: J.-P. Vernant's "L'idéologie de la mort héroïque," A. Schnapp-Gourbeillon's "Les funérailles de Patrocle," and N. Loraux's "Mort civique et idéologie de la cité." In developing my present argument, I draw considerable encouragement from the views of Vernant and his colleagues. See now Snodgrass 1982.
§28n5. Rohde I 108-110, 228-245, esp. 235n1.
§28n6. Cf. Rohde I 167-171. This evolution can be correlated with the obsolescence of the thrênos as a genre, and with the history of vigorous legislation against it; see Alexiou 1974, esp. pp. 13, 18-19, 104, 108.
§28n7. Snodgrass 1971.435; see also Luce 1978.
§28n8. Cf. Intro.§14.
§29n1. Rohde I 184-189: once a hero ceases to be epichoric, he may become a god. Cf. also Rohde's discussion on pp. (I) 59-65, 141-145, 159-166, etc.
§29n2. For a sensible critique: Hack 1929; also Sinos 1975.91-94.
§30n1. Rohde I 14-22.
§30n2. Rohde I 16n1 = 1925.45n13.
§30n3. Besides the element of song, we also find that of dance. In Aristotle fr. 519 Rose (on which see the correction made by Meuli 1968 [= 1926] 70n3; also West 1978.372n1), there is a report of a tradition that Achilles danced the purrhikhê at the pyre of Patroklos. From the same source (ibid., ap. scholia to XXIII 130), we hear of a funerary custom in Cyprus: tôn basileôn kêdeuomenôn proêgeito purrichizôn ho stratos 'at the funerals of kings, the procession was led by the army, who danced the purrhikhê'. Compare the proceedings at the Funeral of Patroklos, XXIII 131-137 (and the commentary of Rohde I 165-166n1).
§30n4. See Sinos 1975.83-88 on the significance of the sêma at XXIII 331.
§30n5. Rohde I 14-22. Kirk (1968.115) refers to the chariot contest at the Funeral Games of Amarynkeus as "an apparent predecessor of the Olympic Games."
§30n6. Rohde I 151-152 and Nilsson 1951 [=1911] 99-100.
§30n7. It should be noted, however, that the primary hero of the Olympics is Pelops (Pausanias 5.13.1); see Burkert 1972.108-119.
§30n8. Rohde I 55-59, esp. p. 59n1; Sinos 1975.92-94.
§30n9. Rohde I 148-152.