The Best of the Achaeans
Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry
Revised Edition
Gregory Nagy

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.

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Chapter 20

Achilles beyond the Iliad

§1. Having just seen how the neîkos 'quarrel' between Hesiod and Perses (W&D 35) serves as the context for a grand definition of dikê by way of its opposition to hubris,[1] we return one last time to the neîkos between Odysseus and Achilles (Odyssey viii 75) in the first song of Demodokos (viii 72-82). This quarrel too serves as a context for defining one theme, the mêtis 'artifice' of Odysseus, by opposing it to another theme, the biê 'might' of Achilles.[2] But here it is not simply a matter of choosing between negative and positive, as with hubris and dikê. True, the mêtis of Odysseus is vindicated as the heroic resource that will lead to the ultimate capture of Troy. But the biê of Achilles is also vindicated by the events of traditional epic narrative, in that the Achaeans survived to capture Troy only because they had been rescued earlier by Patroklos/Achilles from the onslaught of Hektor.[3] The kleos of Achilles as the best of the Achaeans in the Iliad is achieved because the Achaeans are doomed without his biê. For his own kleos as best of the Achaeans in the Odyssey,[4] even Odysseus will need to have biê against the suitors. When they fail in their attempts to string the bow of Odysseus, the suitors themselves must recognize the hero's superiority in biê:

polln d bhw pideuew san

and they were by far inferior in biê
xxi 185

ll' e d tossnde bhw pideuew emn
ntiyou Odusow

but if indeed we are so inferior in biê
to godlike Odysseus
xxi 253-254

In Penelope's own conditional words, the disguised Odysseus would have to use his biê in order to string the bow (xxi 314-315) and thereby win her as wife (xxi 316). Odysseus is of course not only about to string the bow, thus fulfilling the condition set down by Penelope. He will also kill the suitors with it.

§2. We may proceed, then, with the understanding that biê is a key to the kleos of Achilles/Odysseus in the Iliad/Odyssey. Now we are about to see that it is also a key element in epic traditions about other prominent heroes. In the case of Herakles, for example, the theme of biê is actually embodied in the hero's identity, since he is conventionally named not only as Hêra-kleês but also as biê + adjective of Hêrakleês:[1]

nominativebh Hraklheh XI 690; Hes.Th. 289, 982, fr. 35.1(MW)
genitivebhw Hraklhehw II 666; Hes.Th. 332; fr. 33(a)25, 30
dativeb Hraklhe II 658, XV 640; Hes.Th. 315, fr. 25.18, 165.9
accusativebhn Hraklhehn V 638, XIX 98, xi 601; Hes.Th. 943, fr. 33(a)23

The fact that a full declension of this periphrastic naming construct biê + adjective of Hêrakleês is attested in the diction of archaic hexameter poetry is itself striking evidence, on the level of form, that the Herakles figure and biê are traditionally linked on the level of theme.[2] Since the very name Hêra-kleês 'he who has the kleos of Hera' embodies the theme of glory through epic,[3] the traditional combination of biê with kleos in the periphrastic naming construct biê + adjective of Hêra-kleês is a formal indication that biê is a traditional epic theme. In fact, other heroic names built with kleos are also found in the same naming construct:

biê + adjective of Eteo-kleês (-klos)[4] = Eteoklheh IV 386
biê + adjective of Iphi-kleês (-klos)[5] = Ifiklheh xi 290, 296
biê + genitive of Patro-kleês (-klos)[6] = Patrkloio XVII 187, XXII 323

§3. The heroic resource of biê, then, has a distinctly positive aspect as a key to the hero's kleos. Nevertheless, it has a disquieting negative aspect as well. For our first example, let us turn again to the Odyssey. Whereas Odysseus uses biê to kill the suitors, the overall behavior of the suitors themselves in the course of the Odyssey is also characterized as biê (e.g., xxiii 31). Moreover, the biê of the suitors in the House of Odysseus is equated with hubris (xv 329, xvii 565). This noun hubris characterizes not only the outrageous behavior of the suitors (xvi 86, xxiv 352) but also that of the blood-crazed warriors belonging to Generation III of mankind (Hesiod W&D 146).[1] In fact, the hubris of Generation III is correlated with their biê (W&D 148).[2] Furthermore, the hubris that characterizes the blood-crazed warriors of Generation III is in direct opposition to the dikê of the noble Generation IV warriors (W&D 158).[3] We come back, then, to our point of departure, the negative/positive opposition of hubris/dikê as dramatized by the neîkos of Perses and Hesiod (W&D 35). We now see that biê itself has a negative aspect, an element of hubris. In this way, biê can even be contrasted directly with dikê:

ka nu dkhw pkoue, bhw d' pilyeo pmpan

Listen to dikê! Forget biê entirely!
W&D 275

§4. The ambivalence of biê is also reflected by the Iliad. Only here it is not a matter of assigning good and bad biê to good and bad characters respectively. Rather, the good/bad ambivalence of biê is built into one character, Achilles himself. The good aspect has already been mentioned: without the biê of Achilles, no mêtis can rescue the Achaeans from Hektor's onslaught.[1] As for the bad aspect, it is manifested throughout the rampage of Achilles as he finally enters his war in the Iliad. He does more, much more, than simply kill Hektor. A veritable slaughter is to precede Hektor's death, only to be followed by mutilation and human sacrifice.[2] Apollo says it all when he compares Achilles to a ravenous lion who lunges for his dais 'portion', yielding to his own savage biê (XXIV 41-43).[3] The words of Apollo describing the hero's disposition correspond to the words used by Achilles himself as he expresses his own brutal urge to devour the vanquished Hektor (XXII 346-347).[4] Such ghastly aspects of biê lead us to wonder what words the man of mêtis may possibly have used against the man of biê during their neîkos 'quarrel', which actually took place at a dais 'feast' (viii 76). One thing is certain: when Odysseus for a single moment despairs of his mêtis, the reaction of his men is to be overwhelmed by thoughts about biê. Let us observe first the hero's words of despair:

floi, o gr dmen p zfow od' p w,
od' p liow faesmbrotow es' p gaan
od' p nnetai: ll frazmeya ysson
e tiw t' stai mtiw: g d' ok oomai enai.

Dear friends! I speak because we know neither where the western darkness is nor the dawn,
neither where the sun that shines upon mortals sets below the earth
nor where it rises,[5] but let us hasten to think[6]
whether there is any mêtis any longer. I myself think there is none.
x 190-193

Then the reaction of his men:

w fmhn, tosin d kateklsyh flon tor
mnhsamnoiw rgvn Laistrugnow Antiftao
Kklvpw te bhw megaltorow, ndrofgoio.
klaon d ligvw, yalern kat dkru xontew:
ll' o gr tiw prjiw ggneto muromnoisin.

So I spoke. And their heart was broken
as they remembered the deeds of Antiphates the Laestrygonian
and the biê of the great-hearted Cyclops, the man eater.[7]
And they wept loud and shrill, letting many a tear fall.
But crying did not get them anywhere.
x 198-202

In the absence of mêtis, disorienting thoughts of biê are stirred up in the mind. And the nightmarish vision of the man-eating Cyclops in the Odyssey is marked by the same biê that marks the epic vision of a rampaging Achilles in the Iliad. Significantly, it is only here in the Odyssey that the Cyclops is ever called "great-hearted" (megaltorow : x 200)--an epithet generically applied to the warriors of the Trojan War.[8]

§5. The theme of biê is not only ambivalent in its positive and negative aspects, it is also elemental. Most prominently, the power of the winds is designated by biê (baw nmvn : XVI 213, XXIII 713) or by its synonym îs (w nmou /nmoio : XV 383/XVII 739, etc.).[1] Also, the power of fire is called the "biê of Hephaistos" (Hfastoio bhfi : XXI 367),[2] and this appellation applies at the very moment when the power of fire is defeating the power of water. The latter is manifested in the river god Xanthos, who in turn is called the "îs of the river" (w potmoio : XXI 356).[3] Before Hephaistos, Achilles himself had confronted the river god, but Xanthos says that the hero's biê will not suffice against a god (o ... bhn xraismhsmen : XXI 316). What strikes us in particular here is that the narrative is presenting the biê of Achilles as parallel to the biê of fire itself. The god of water even says it about Achilles:

mmonen d' ge sa yeosi

He is in a rage, equal to the rage of the gods.[4]
XXI 315

§6. The ultimate cosmic biê is that of Zeus himself as he readies himself for battle with the Titans:

od' r' ti Zew sxen n mnow, ll nu to ge
eyar mn mneow plnto frnew, k d te psan
fane bhn

Zeus did not any longer restrain his menos [might], but straightway
his breathing was filled with menos[1] and he showed forth
all his biê.[2]
Hesiod Th. 687-689

What follows these verses is an elaborate description of an ultimate thunderstorm (Th. 689-712) marked by thunder and lightning (Th. 689-692, 699, 707-708) that brings fire (Th. 692-700) and is conducted by winds (Th. 706-709).[3] The Cyclopes themselves, who had actually made thunder and lightning for Zeus (Th. 139-141), are characterized by their biê (Th. 146). And here we see at least one interesting point of convergence between the Cyclopes of the Theogony and those of the Odyssey, who in turn are described as "better in biê" than the Phaeacians (bhfi ... frteroi : vi 6). We should also recall the biê of the man-eating Cyclops Polyphemus (x 200).[4] The main point remains, however, that the cosmic aspect of biê as manifested in the thunderstorm of Zeus is parallel in epic diction to the heroic aspect of biê as manifested in the martial rage of Achilles. The slaughter of the Trojans by Achilles is directly compared to the burning of a city (XXI 520-525) as effected by the mênis 'anger' of the gods (XXI 523). The anger of the gods in general and of Zeus in particular is of course manifested directly in the fire and wind of a thunderstorm inflicted by Zeus, as we have already seen in Hesiod Th. 687-712.[5] Moreover, cosmic fire marks the reentry of Achilles in battle: Athena brings about a phlox 'flame' that burns over the hero's head (XVIII 206), and the Trojans are terrified at the sight of this akamaton pûr 'inexhaustible fire' (XVIII 225). We may compare the phlox of Zeus during his thunderstorm against the Titans (Hesiod Th. 692, 697), and in addition, the phlox and the akamaton pûr of Hephaistos as the fire god stands in for Achilles by combating the element of water itself (XXI 333/349 and 341 respectively). Again I note that the phlegma 'conflagration' of Hephaistos is conducted by the thuella 'gust' of the West and South Winds (XXI 334-337),[6] just as the thunderbolt of Zeus is conducted by anemoi 'winds' (Th. 706-709).

§7. The cosmic and heroic aspects of biê combined bring us now to a striking parallel in Indo-Iranian religion and epic. The parallelism is to be found in the Indo-Iranian storm god Vâyu: his very name means "Wind," and he had once functioned as a god of the Männerbund or warrior society.[1] The parallelism is also to be found in the Indic hero Bhîma, one of the main figures in the epic Mahâbhârata. Begotten of a mortal woman Kuntî by the war god Vâyu himself, Bhîma is the very embodiment of balam 'physical might', who is destined to be "the best among the strong" (MBh. 1.114.8-10).[2] He is, for that matter, not only strong but fast as well, running "with the speed of wind" (e.g., MBh. 1.136.19). He is also decidedly brutal--a quality that occasionally earns the solemn blame of his older brother Yudhis.tô.hira (MBh. 9.58.15 ff.). In one episode (MBh. 3.153), he goes on a rampage of violence (again blamed by Yudhis.tô.hira) that is actually inaugurated by a violent windstorm. Bhîma has a younger brother Arjuna, begotten of Kuntî by the war god Indra. This hero is the embodiment not only of balam 'physical might' as applied to enemies but also of beneficence as applied to friends (MBh. 1.114.23). In this connection, we must note the important discussions of Stig Wikander and Georges Dumézil, who have convincingly shown that the relationship of the five brothers Yudhis.tô.hira, Bhîma û Arjuna, Nakula û Sahadeva, collectively known as the Pânô.dô.ava-s, reflects an ideology so archaic that it is Indo-European in origin.[3] What is of more immediate concern, however, is the specific relationship of the heroes Bhîma and Arjuna, which reflects an ideology that is no longer apparent in the relationship of the gods who fathered them, Vâyu and Indra respectively. By the time that the Mahâbhârata was taking on its present shape, Vâyu had long been obsolescent, while Indra had long ago evolved from a god of war into a far more complex and versatile figure.[4] The contrast between Bhîma and Arjuna in epic, however, remains unaffected--or at least less affected--by the trends of Indic religion. For my own purposes, I note in particular the following details of contrast from among a more extensive list of details assembled by Dumézil:[5]

§8. Each of these thematic contrasts between the two Indic figures evokes a striking parallel within the single figure of Achilles. There is on one hand the Hellenic hero's defiance of military institutions, taking the specific form of his challenge to Agamemnon in Iliad I as well as his rejection of the Embassy in Iliad IX. On the other hand, his treatment of Priam in Iliad XXIV reflects a stance of ultimate military etiquette. Or again, there is his solitary disposition as manifested in his refusal to aid the philoi despite the entreaties of the Embassy. Only after the death of Patroklos, who is to him more philos than anyone else, is Achilles finally reintegrated with the rest of his philoi.[1] Before his reintegration into the Männerbund of his philoi,[2] Achilles is pictured spending his time together with Patroklos in their mutual isolation, as we hear from the retrospective words spoken by the apparition of Patroklos himself:

o mn gr zvo ge flvn pneuyen tarvn
boulw zmenoi boulesomen

No longer shall you and I, alive, be planning our plans
as we sit far away from the philoi companions [hetaîroi].[3]
XXIII 77-78

Achilles had even expressed the wish that he and Patroklos should be the only Achaeans to survive for the grand event of capturing Troy:

a gr, Ze te pter ka Ayhnah ka Apollon,
mte tiw on Trvn ynaton fgoi, ssoi asi,
mte tiw Argevn, nn d' kdmen leyron,
fr' ooi Trohw er krdemna lvmen

Father Zeus, Athena, and Apollo! If only
not one of all the Trojans could escape destruction,
nor a single one of the Argives, while you and I emerge from the slaughter,
so that we two alone may break Troy's sacred coronal.
XVI 97-100

Finally, we come to the third contrast. Achilles, like Arjuna, has the most splendid armor, and the lengthy description of his shield in Iliad XVIII (468-608) even entails a distinct narrative form. The tradition that tells of his armor is in fact so strong that the Iliad itself reckons with not one but two occasions when Achilles was given a set of armor made by Hephaistos himself (the later occasion at XVIII 468-613, the earlier at XVII 194-197 and XVIII 82-85).[4] As for the image of an Achilles without armor, I find an interesting attestation in Pindar N.3.43-66, a rare survival from the poetic traditions that had told about the boyhood deeds of Achilles.[5] Here we see the young hero killing lions and boars while armed with nothing but a spear (lines 46-47);[6] in motion he is as fast as the winds (sa t' nmoiw : line 45), and his speed is such that he even outruns deer, hunting them down without the aid of hunting dogs or traps (lines 51-52).[7]

§9. Mention of Achilles' wondrous speed brings us back to the theme of biê as manifested by wind. The hero's speed is reflected even by the epithet system that adorns him in epic diction. Achilles is in fact the only hero in the Iliad who is called podarkês 'relying on his feet' (over 20x),[1] podas ôkus 'swift with his feet' (over 30x), and podôkês'swift-footed' (over 20x).[2] Moreover, his windlike speed is a direct function of his biê, as we see from the words directed at Hektor by Athena in disguise:

ye', mla d se bizetai kw Axillew,
stu pri Primoio posn taxessi dikvn

Dear brother, indeed swift Achilles uses biê against you,
as he chases you with swift feet[3] around the city of Priam.
XXII 229-230

In other heroic traditions as well, biê is manifested in the speed of wind. An ideal example is Îphiklos, who is also called biê + adjective of Îphi-kleês (as at xi 290, 296: bh Ifiklheh ).[4] This hero's identity, which is the very embodiment of biê and its synonym îs,[5] is determined predominantly by his windlike speed. He is pictured in Hesiod fr. 62MW (quoted by Eustathius 323.42) as racing through a field of grain with such speed that his feet barely touch the tips of the grain stalks. His epithet is podôkês 'swift footed', and he is said to have races with the winds themselves (scholia ad xi 326 and Pap.Soc.Ital. 1173.78-81). He even has a son called Podarkês 'relying on his feet ' (Hesiod fr. 199.5MW).[6]

§10. The verb theô 'run, speed', as we see it applied to the speeding Îphiklos (yen : Hesiod fr. 62.1MW), also applies to speeding ships (I 483, ii 429, etc.) and to speeding horses (X 437, XIX 415, XX 227, 229).[1] In the case of horses, we may be more specific: their speed is by convention compared directly to the speed of wind, by way of the verb theô. At X 437, the horses of Rhesos are "like the winds in speed [yeein ]." At XIX 415, Xanthos, the wondrous horse of Achilles, says that they, the hero's horse team, could run [yoimen ] as fast as the gust of Zephyros the West Wind, described as the fastest of all. Despite their speed, however, Achilles is fated to die "by îs [fi ], at the hands of a god and a man" (XIX 417). Finally, at XX 227, the wondrous horses fathered by Boreas the North Wind are described as so swift that their feet barely touch the tips of the grain stalks as they race [yon ] across fields of grain. Also, at XX 229, their feet barely touch the tips of the waves as they race [yeskon ] across the surface of the sea. Needless to say, the parallel with the speeding Iphiklos (Hesiod fr. 62MW) is striking. I lay such emphasis on the associations of the verb theô in Homeric diction because I see an interesting semantic complement in the associations of the adjective derived from theô, thoos 'swift'. As an epithet, thoos applies to Ares the war god himself (V 430, VIII 215, etc.) as well as to occasional warriors (V 571, XV 585, etc.). Moreover, the epithet Arêithoos 'swift with Ares' applies in the plural to aizêoi, an obscure noun designating warriors at VIII 298/XV 315 and hunters at XX 167. We are reminded of the Indo-Iranian war god Vâyu, whose very name means "Wind"; also of the warrior Bhîma, son of Vâyu, who runs with the speed of wind.[2] In the associations of Greek theô and thoos, we find close parallels to these Indo-Iranian themes: the semantic range of the two words combined conveys a fusion of the elemental and martial functions.[3]

§11. The form Arêithoos recurs as the name of an Arcadian hero in a particularly interesting narrative tradition preserved by the Iliad. The context is set as Nestor is reproaching the Achaeans (nekess' 'made neîkos': VII 161) because not one of them has yet taken up Hektor's challenge issued to whoever is "best of the Achaeans" (VII 50). The old man wishes that he were young again (VII 132-133), as he was at the time of his youthful exploits during a war between the Pylians and the Arcadians (VII 133-156). The tale of his exploits is concluded with a reiteration by Nestor of his wish that he were as young as he had been at that time:

ey' w boimi, bh d moi mpedow eh

If only I were that young! If only my biê had remained as it was!
VII 157

The narrative framed by Nestor's wish, which took place in those former days when he still had his full biê, concerns a duel between Nestor and a gigantic Arcadian hero--a duel that the old man is now contrasting with the present prospect of a duel between Hektor and whoever is "best of the Achaeans." The Arcadian hero was Ereutha- liôn, wearing the armor of Arêithoos:

tosi d' Ereuyalvn prmow stato, syeow fw,
texe' xvn moisin Arhyoio naktow,
dou Arhyou, tn pklhsin korunthn
ndrew kklhskon kallzvno te gunakew,
[140] onek' r' o tjoisi maxsketo dour te makr,
ll sidhre korn =gnuske flaggaw.
tn Lukorgow pefne dl, o ti krte ge,
steinvp n d, y' r' o kornh o leyron
xrasme sidhreh: prn gr Lukorgow pofyw
[145] dour mson pernhsen, d' ptiow odei resyh:
texea d' jenrije, t o pre xlkeow Arhw.
ka t mn atw peita frei met mlon Arhow:
atr pe Lukorgow n megroisin gra,
dke d' Ereuyalvni fl yerponti fornai:
[150] to ge texe' xvn prokalzeto pntaw rstouw.
o d ml' trmeon ka dedisan, od tiw tlh:
ll' m yumw nke polutlmvn polemzein
yrse : gene d netatow skon pntvn:
ka maxmhn o g, dken d moi exow Aynh.
[155] tn d mkiston ka krtiston ktnon ndra:
pollw gr tiw keito parorow nya ka nya.

Their champion stood forth, Ereuthaliôn, a man godlike,
wearing upon his shoulders the armor of King Arêithoos,
Arêithoos the brilliant, named the Club Bearer[1]
by the men and fair-girdled women of that time,
[140] because he fought not with bow and arrows, nor with a long spear,
but with a club coated with iron he smashed the army ranks.
Lukoorgos killed him--with a stratagem, not with kratos--[2]
in a narrow pass, where the iron club could not ward off
his destruction, since Lukoorgos anticipated him
[145] by pinning him through the middle with his spear, and he fell down backwards to the ground.
And he stripped off the armor that brazen Ares had given him.
And from then on he wore the armor himself whenever he went to the môlos [struggle] of Ares.
But when Lukoorgos was growing old in his halls,
he gave it to Ereuthaliôn to wear, his philos therapôn.
[150] So, wearing his armor [of Areithoos], he [Ereuthalion] was challenging all the best to fight him.
But they were all afraid and trembling: no one undertook to do it.
I was the only one, driven to fight by my thûmos which was ready to undertake much,
with all its boldness, even though I was the youngest of them all.
I fought him, and Athena gave me fame.[3]
[155] For I killed the biggest and the best man:[4]
he sprawled in his great bulk from here to here.[5]
VII 136-156

Within the limits of my present inquiry, I cannot do justice to the many details of this fascinating narrative, and I content myself by citing only those points that are immediately pertinent. Surely the key point is that Arêithoos is an ideal exponent of biê, by virtue of both his name and his primary attribute, the club. The themes of war and swiftness inherent in the name Arêithoos remind us of the warrior Bhîma, who runs "with the speed of wind" (e.g., Mahâbhârata 1.136.19). So also with the theme of the club: Bhîma has the epic reputation, well-known to other warriors, of wielding clubs (e.g., MBh. 1.123.40, 4.32.16, 9.57.43).[6] Aside from the comparative evidence, there is also the internal evidence provided by the context: Arêithoos was actually killed as an exponent of biê, which is to be contrasted with the stratagem of the man who killed him, Lukoorgos.[7] Furthermore, we may suspect that the Arcadian hero who inherited the armor of Arêithoos is also by implication a man of biê, since Nestor's whole narrative here is intended as an illustration of the old man's biê in the days when he was young.

§12. Let us pursue, then, the idea that Ereuthaliôn is a man of biê. From local Arcadian traditions, we learn that the young Nestor gave form to his joy over defeating Ereuthaliôn by doing a dance without taking off his armor (Ariaithos of Tegea FGrH 316.7). As Francis Vian points out,[1] the dance as it is described corresponds to the formal war dance called the purrhikhê.[2] In fact, what Nestor did corresponds to the basic definition of the purrhikhê as we find it in Hesychius (s.v. purrixzein ): tn nplion rxhsin ka sntonon purrxhn legon 'the word for energetic dancing in armor was purrhikhê'.[3] This word is actually derived from purrhos 'fiery red', which in turn is derived from pûr 'fire'.[4] Vian accordingly links the semantics of purrhikhê with the name Ereuthaliôn, which must mean something like "red" (cf. verb ereuthô 'be red').[5] What could be more appropriate, he asks, than a "red dance" celebrating a "red warrior"?[6] We may go considerably further than this formulation. The fact is that pûr 'fire' is a prime manifestation of biê, on the cosmic level and on the heroic as well.[7] Moreover, the figures of myth who are especially noted for their biê are frequently called by names denoting fire--we are immediately reminded of Purrhos himself, as also of the wanton society of warriors known as the Phleguai.[8] The element phleg- of Phleguai is actually the same root as in phlox 'flame', a word that marks the biê of Achilles in the Iliad.[9] The point is, the concept of purrhikhê is appropriate to the name Purrhos as well as to the adjective purrhos. In fact, there are traditions that derive the name of the dance from the name of the hero. In Archilochus fr. 304W, for example, the purrhikhê gets its name because Purrhos danced it for joy over his defeat of Eurypylos.[10] In another tradition used by Lucian (De saltatione 9), Purrhos not only "invented" the purrhikhê but also captured Troy through the power of this dance.[11] It also bears emphasizing that the dance themes of the purrhikhê seem to be connected with fires at specific occasions, such as the cremation of Patroklos[12] or the holocaust of Troy itself.[13] In sum, the name of the warrior Ereuthaliôn is not motivated by the theme of Nestor's "red dance," nor for that matter is the purrhikhê motivated by the name of Purrhos. Rather, the names of such heroes as Ereuthaliôn and Purrhos are motivated by the theme of martial biê as manifested in the element of fire--and the same goes for the dance purrhikhê. We may even say that the purrhikhê is a dramatization of biê itself. There is in fact an Arcadian festival called the Môleia, which dramatizes a duel between Ereuthaliôn and Lukoorgos (scholia ad Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica 1.164).[14] In Panhellenic Epos, môlos Arêos is combat, 'the struggle of Ares' (as at VII 147; also at II 401, etc.). In local ritual, the Môleia is a reenactment of such combat. And again, the reenactment amounts to a dramatization of martial biê.[15]

§13. Now that we have surveyed the heroic attributes of wind and fire as conveyed by the themes of Arêithoos and Ereuthaliônrespectively, we are brought back to our central point of interest, the figure of Achilles, whose biê happens to incorporate both of these elemental attributes. So far, the most direct Iliadic example of a traditional parallel between the martial rage of the hero and the thunderstorm of Zeus has been XXI 520-525, where the slaughter of the Trojans by Achilles is being directly compared to the burning of a city by divine agency.[1] But the overt description of divine power as manifested in fire and wind combined is actually to be found elsewhere, as in the Hesiodic description of the ultimate thunderstorm effected by Zeus against the Titans (Th. 687-712).[2] Moreover, an overt description of the hero's power as manifested in fire and wind is also to be found elsewhere. So far, the most striking instance has been the intervention of Hephaistos on the side of Achilles, where the phlegma 'conflagration' of the fire god is being conducted by Zephyros the West Wind and Notos the South Wind (XXI 334-337).[3] Now we may add the scene where Achilles prays to Boreas the North Wind and Zephyros the West Wind to conduct the fires that will cremate Patroklos (XXIII 194-198); without the winds, the funeral pyre will not burn (XXIII 192). As the winds blow, they literally "throw flame," and the word for flame is again phlox (flg' ballon : XXIII 217).[4]

§14. In the Cremation Scene, the epiphany of the winds Boreas and Zephyros takes the form of a violent storm (XXIII 212-215), described as happening over the pontos 'sea' (XXIII 214).[1] This image, as I will attempt to show in the next several pages, relates directly to the figure of Achilles. We begin with a simile. When the Achaeans and their king Agamemnon are afflicted by penthos 'grief' and akhos 'grief' at IX 3 and 9 respectively, their affliction is directly compared to a violent storm brought about by the winds Boreas and Zephyros (IX 4-7); again, the storm is described as happening over the pontos 'sea' (IX 4). The akhos/penthos of the Achaeans and the corresponding kratos of the Trojans are of course brought about ultimately by the Will of Zeus, which takes the form of Hektor's onslaught.[2] In the same scene where Diomedes acknowledges that Zeus has given the kratos to the Trojans and not to the Achaeans (XI 317-319),[3] Hektor is actually being compared to a violently blowing wind that stirs up the pontos (XI 297-298). The expression pera sow ll ' equal to a violently blowing wind' at XI 297 follows a parallel simile applied to Hektor at XI 295: brotoloig sow Arh ' equal to Ares, the loigos [devastation] of mankind'.[4]

§15. But the immediate loigos 'devastation' afflicting the Achaeans in the Iliad is of course not the winds of the pontos that threaten to destroy their ships, but the fire of Hektor.[1] Significantly, even this fire threatens specifically to destroy the ships of the Achaeans, and this theme is central to the Iliad. The Will of Zeus, to give kratos to the Trojans until the Achaeans give Achilles his proper tîmê 'honor' (I 509-510), is of course what Achilles himself prays for in his mênis 'anger'. The hero's prayer in fact specifically entails that the Trojans should prevail until they reach the ships of the Achaeans (I 408-412, 559, II 3-5, XVIII 74-77). In this light, let us consider the first indication of the algea 'pains' that the mênis of Achilles inflicted on the Achaeans through the Will of Zeus (I 1-5). It happens when the Achaeans first begin to be losers in the absence of Achilles: as Zeus is weighing the fates of the two sides, the Trojans are found to be on the winning and the Achaeans on the losing side (VIII 66-74). Zeus signals the decision with thunder and a selas 'flash' of lightning hurled towards the Achaeans, who are panic stricken (VIII 75-77). As Cedric Whitman remarks, "The lightning flash which dismays the Achaeans is a direct reflex of Achilles' retirement. The action of the god and the inaction of the hero are essentially one."[2] Until now, the most successful Achaean in battle has been Diomedes, and Zeus hurls at him a special thunderbolt with a terrifying phlox 'flame' (VIII 133-135), forcing the hero to retreat and giving him akhos 'grief' (VIII 147). The thunderings of Zeus are a sêma 'signal' of victory for the Trojans (VIII 170-171), and Hektor straightway recognizes that the Will of Zeus entails the kûdos 'glory' of victory for the Trojans and pêma 'pain' for the Achaeans (VIII 175-176; recalled at XII 235-236, 255-256).

§16. Now we are ready to examine how the Will of Zeus is translated into the fire of Hektor's onslaught against the Achaean ships. Once Zeus sends the flash of his thunderstroke, "lightning carries the day; fire is on the Trojan side, and burns threateningly in the form of watchfires which at the end of Book VIII dot the plain, and burn throughout the succeeding night."[1] By the beginning of Book IX and thereafter, the threat of fire from the Trojan side is consistently formalized in one theme: Hektor will burn the ships of the Achaeans:

In fact, Hektor already realizes his function as threatening fire against the Achaeans' ships when Zeus signals victory for the Trojans by way of his thunderstroke (VIII 170-171), and the hero actually says then and there to his fellow Trojans:

ll' te ken d nhusn pi glafursi gnvmai,
mnhmosnh tiw peita purw dhoio gensyv,
w pur naw niprsv, ktenv d ka atow
Argeouw par nhusn tuzomnouw p kapno

But when I get to the hollow ships,
let there be some memory in the future[3] of the burning fire,
how I will set the ships on fire and kill
the Argives right by their ships, confounded as they will be by the smoke.
VIII 180-183

When the fire of Hektor finally reaches the Achaean ships, the Muses are specially invoked for the telling of this vital event (XVI 112-113).[4] Zeus himself has been waiting to see the selas 'flash' of the first ship to be set on fire (XV 599-600), which is to be the signal that his Will has been fulfilled, that the kûdos 'glory' of victory has been taken away from the Achaeans and awarded to the Trojans (XV 592-599). The selas 'flash' that marks the final enactment of Zeus' Will must be compared with the selas 'flash' of his thunderstroke at VIII 76, which had signaled the beginning of the reverses suffered by the Achaeans.[5] Once the fire of Hektor reaches the ships of the Achaeans, the Will of Zeus is complete: the narrative makes it explicit that Zeus will now shift the kûdos 'glory' of victory from the Trojans to the Achaeans (XV 601-602). Even this reversal is expressed in terms of "driving the Trojans away from the ships" (ibid.).

§17. Once the Will of Zeus is complete, the prayer of Achilles in his mênis is thereby fulfilled. The hero's prayer, as we have seen, has the same limit as the Will of Zeus: the Trojans should prevail until they reach the ships of the Achaeans (I 408-412, 559, II 3-5, XVIII 74-77). Thus when Achilles himself sees the fire of Hektor reaching the ships of the Achaeans at XVI 127, he sees in effect the ultimate fulfillment of his mênis. For Zeus, the selas 'flash' of Hektor's fire at XV 600 signals the termination of the Trojan onslaught, which was inaugurated by the selas of his own thunderstroke at VIII 76. For Achilles, the same fire at XVI 122-124, called phlox 'flame' at 123, signals the end of his wish that the Trojans should reach the ships of the Achaeans and the beginning of his concern that their ships should be saved from the fire of Hektor (XVI 127-128). The hero now calls upon his substitute, Patroklos, to avert the fiery threat that his own mênis had originally brought about:

ll ka w, Ptrokle, nen p loign mnvn
mpes' pikratvw, m d purw ayomnoio
naw niprsvsi, flon d' p nston lvntai

Even so, Patroklos, ward off the loigos [devastation] from the ships
and attack with kratos, lest they [the Trojans] burn
the ships with blazing fire and take away a safe homecoming [nostos].[1]
XVI 80-82

Patroklos is a savior of the Achaeans by virtue of temporarily averting from their ships the fire of the Trojans:

k nhn d' lasen kat d' sbesen aymenon pr

He drove them [the Trojans] from the ships, and he quenched the blazing fire.
XVI 293

w Danao nhn mn pvsmenoi don pr

Thus the Danaans, having averted from the ships the burning fire ...
XVI 301

Appropriately, Hektor is called flog ekelow Hfastoio 'like the phlox [flame] of Hephaistos' (XVII 88) in the very action where he has killed Patroklos;[2] the word phlox in this expression again implies the thunderstroke of Zeus.[3]

§18. To sum up, the kratos of the Trojans is signaled by the fire of Zeus in a thunderstorm, which is expressed with the same diction that expresses the fire of Hektor's onslaught against the ships of the Achaeans. On the other hand, the kratos of the Trojans is also signaled by the wind of Zeus in a thunderstorm. What is kratos for the Trojans is penthos/akhos for the Achaeans at IX 3/9, which in turn is compared by way of simile to violent winds raging over the pontos 'sea' at IX 4-7.[1] In the same scene where Diomedes acknowledges that Zeus has given the kratos to the Trojans (XI 317-319), Hektor is likened to a violent wind raging over the pontos (XI 297-298).[2] Just like Hektor's fire, these winds signaling kratos are expressed with the same diction that expresses the overall image of a thunderstorm brought by Zeus. As further illustration, I add the following simile describing the Trojans on the offensive:

o d' san rgalvn nmvn tlantoi ll,
= y' p brontw patrw Diw esi pdonde,
yespes d' md l msgetai, n d te poll
kmata paflzonta poluflosboio yalsshw,
kurt falhrivnta, pr mn t' ll', atr p' lla.

And they came, like a gust of the racking winds,
which under the thunderstroke of Father Zeus drives downward
and with gigantic clamor hits the sea, and the many
boiling waves along the length of the roaring sea
bend and whiten to foam in ranks, one upon the other.
XIII 795-799

§19. Since the traditional imagery that marks Hektor's onslaught as the ultimate bane of the Achaeans is appropriate to either the fire or the wind of a thunderstorm, Hektor is presented as a hero who is either "like fire" or "like wind" in Homeric diction. But there is an obvious difference in the Iliadic treatment of these two images. Whereas the threat of fire to the Achaean ships is both figurative and real, the threat of wind is only figurative, conveyed by similes. For the Iliad, Hektor's fire is real, even though it is expressed with imagery that suits the celestial fire of thundering Zeus; the threat of the god's winds, however, is real only as a general condition that can be expected to affect the Achaeans as a seafaring society. Still, the point remains that the most direct threat to the Achaeans, on land as well as sea, is the destruction of their ships--expressed in images most appropriate to a thunderstorm of Zeus. On the land, Achilles had it in his power both to bring the ships to the brink of fiery destruction by way of his mênis and then to rescue them from the fire by way of his surrogate Patroklos. On the sea, we may then ask, does Achilles have a power over winds that matches this power that he has over fire when he is on the land?

§20. Since the Iliad treats the onslaught of the Trojans as wind only by way of simile, we should expect the same mode of expression for any Iliadic treatment of the theme for which we are searching: how Achilles has the power to rescue the Achaean ships from the winds. I submit that I have found this theme in the simile deployed at the very moment Achilles has just put on the new armor made by Hephaistos. As the hero takes hold of his magnificent shield, it gives off a selas 'flash' described as follows:

to d' pneuye slaw gnet' @te mnhw.
w d' t' n k pntoio slaw natsi fanƙ
kaiomnoio purw, t te kaetai cy' resfi
staym n oopl: tow d' ok ylontaw ellai
pnton p' xyuenta flvn pneuye frousin:
w p' Axillow skeow slaw ayr' kane kalo daidalou

From it [the shield] there was a selas [flash] from far away, as from the moon,
or as when from out of the pontos [sea] a selas [flash] appears to sailors,
a flash of blazing fire, and it blazes up above in the mountains,
at a solitary station, while they [the sailors] are being carried along against their will by winds
over the fishy pontos, far away from their philoi. So also the selas from the beautiful and well-wrought shield of Achilles shot up into the aether.
XIX 374-380

Previously, we have seen the selas 'flash' of fire as a signal of destruction for the Achaean ships (VIII 76, XV 600);[1] here, on the other hand, it is a signal of salvation from the winds. The winds threaten the isolation of the sailors from their philoi, while the fire promises reintegration with them. Yet, ironically, the fire of reintegration is itself isolated and remote, much as the hero who is himself signaled by its flame.[2] The fire at the solitary station overlooking the pontos shoots up into the ethereal realms (XIX 379), and the transcendence of this earthly fire marking Achilles is matched by a multiple comparison with celestial fire: the light from the hero's shield is compared both to this earthly fire and to the light of the moon as well. Moreover, the light from his helmet is then likened to that of a star (XIX 381-383). And finally, the sight of Achilles fully armed is compared to the sun itself (XIX 397-398). At this moment, of course, Achilles is about to enter his war in the Iliad. Not only in simile but in reality as well, Achilles is emerging as savior of the Achaeans.

§21. For the moment, however, let us restrict our vision to the inner world of the simile, where the fire that is compared to Achilles is pictured as rescuing sailors from the winds that blow over the pontos 'sea'. I draw attention in particular to the word pontos, which serves as the setting for the dangerous winds in our simile. We have in fact already seen pontos as the setting for the winds that are compared to Hektor's onslaught, which in turn is endangering specifically the Achaean ships (IX 4-7, XI 297-298).[1] The theme of danger is actually inherent in pontos. From a comparative study of words that are cognate with pontos in other Indo-European languages, most notably Indic pánthâhô. 'path' and Latin pôns 'bridge', Émile Benveniste found that the basic meaning of the word is 'crossing, transition', with an underlying implication that the actual act of crossing is at the same time marked by danger.[2] The semantic aspect of crossing is inherent in the place name Hellês-pontos 'Crossing of Hellê',[3] a compound recalling the myth that told how Phrixos and Hellê crossed the Hellespont by riding on the Ram with the Golden Fleece. The aspect of danger is likewise inherent in the myth itself. During their crossing, Helle drowns, while Phrixos is saved (cf. Apollodorus 1.9.1).[4] The contrasting themes of danger and salvation here are reflected formally in the words of Pindar: Phrixos was "rescued out of the pontos" by way of the Golden Fleece (k pntou sayh : P.4.161). Even the epithet system of pontos in epic diction reflects the word's dangerous aspect. Let us consider the qualifier ikhthuoeis 'fishy, fish-swarming' as applied to pontos at XIX 378 (also IX 4!)[5] and to Hellêspontos at IX 360. The application of this epithet is motivated not so much by a fanciful striving for picturesque visualizations of the sea, but rather by the sinister implication of dangers lurking beneath a traveling ship. As we survey the collocations of pontos with the plain noun for "fish," ikhthûs, the ghastly themes of danger become overt:

tn g' n pnt fgon xyew ...

... or the fish devoured him in the pontos
xiv 135

pou n pnt fgon xyew ...

... or perhaps the fish devoured him in the pontos[6]
xxiv 291

§22. We come back to the image of a fire on high that flashes salvation for sailors bedeviled by violent winds as they make their way over the pontos (XIX 374-380). It remains to ask whether there are any other instances, besides the simile of XIX 374-380, where the figure of Achilles is directly associated with such an image. The answer is yes, with an added detail that is not without interest. The flash of salvation for sailors may emanate from the tomb of Achilles himself, situated on a headland overlooking the Hellespont:

mf' atosi d' peita mgan ka mmona tmbon
xeamen Argevn erw stratw axmhtvn
kt pi proxos, p plate Ellhspnt,
w ken thlefanw k pontfin ndrsin eh
tow o nn gegasi ka o metpisyen sontai

Over their bodies [of Achilles and Patroklos] we the sacred army of Argive spearmen piled up a huge and perfect tomb,
on a jutting headland, by the wide Hellêspontos,
so that it may be bright from afar for men coming from the pontos
both those who are now and those who will be in the future.
xxiv 80-84

The preoccupation with future generations who will sail the Hellespont is also apparent in the words of Achilles himself, as he lays down instructions for the building of his tomb:

tmbon d' o mla polln g ponesyai nvga, ll' pieika toon: peita d ka tn Axaio ern y' chln te tiymenai, o ken meo deteroi n nessi poluklsi lphsye

And I bid you to build a tomb,[1] not a very big one,
only a beautiful one. Later [when Achilles dies and is enshrined with Patroklos], you Achaeans
will make it wide and tall--you who will be left behind me in your many-benched ships.
XXIII 245-248

The Achaeans of the future who survive Achilles are "Achaeans in ships." The tomb of Achilles maintains its impact on future generations even in the warped vision of Hektor, who fancies himself as the man who will kill the one who is "best of the Achaeans":[2]

tn d nkun p naw #sslmouw podsv,
fra tarxsvsi krh komvntew Axaio,
sm te o xevsin p plate (Ellhspnt.
ka pot tiw epsi ka cignvn nyrpvn,
nh polukldi plvn p onopa pnton:
'ndrw mn tde sma plai katateynhtow,
n pot' risteonta katktane fadimow Ektvr.'
w pot tiw rei: t d' mn klow o pot' letai.

And I will return his corpse to where the well-benched ships are,
so that the long-haired Achaeans may give him a proper funeral
and pile up a tomb for him by the wide Hellêspontos. And some day someone from a future generation will say
as he is sailing on a many-benched ship over the wine-dark pontos: "This is the tomb of a man who died a long time ago.
He was performing his aristeiâ when illustrious Hektor killed him." That is what someone will say, and my kleos shall never perish.
VII 84-91

Having long ago considered the irony of Hektor's words,[3] we are concerned now only with the vision of Achilles' tomb. The insistent references, here and in the other passages, to a future time beyond the narrative--a time when men will still contemplate the hero's tomb--reveal Achilles as not so much a hero of epic but rather a hero of cult. The future of the narrative is the here-and-now of the Homeric audience, and to them the tomb of Achilles is a matter of religion, reflecting this era's marked preoccupation with hero cults.[4] We recall Iliad XII 2-33, that other isolated instance where the perspective of the narrative switches from the heroic past to the here-and-now of the Homeric audience.[5] There too, the Achaean warriors who fell at Troy are suddenly perceived not as heroes of epic, hêrôes, but as heroes of cult, hêmitheoi (XII 23).[6]

§23. With his tomb overlooking the Hellespont, Achilles manifests the religious aspects of his essence as hero even within the epic framework of the Iliad and Odyssey. His cosmic affinity with fire and with the winds that blow violently over the pontos is appropriate to his being the Hero of the Hellespont, whose tomb flashes a light from afar to sailors who pass through it (xxiv 83)[1] --and we may compare again the light that is their very salvation from the violent winds of the pontos (XIX 375-378).[2] Achilles is needed because the danger is there--not only in the semantics of pontos but also in the reality of the Hellêspontos. The sailing conditions that prevail at the Hellespont have always been most difficult, and I merely cite the following report from our own time:[3]

It is probably not too much to say that on three days out of four during the sailing season what a landsman would describe as a tearing north-easter is blowing during a good part of the day right down the channel.But this is not all. A ship has not only this headwind on its sails to fight with; it has the opposing current under its keel, at least whenever it is in mid channel. The surplus of the enormous masses of fresh water poured into the Black Sea over the evaporation from its surface is enough to cause a stream; and when this is reinforced by the wind, it becomes a very serious matter for a sailing ship.

§24. The Hellespont, then, is a focal point for the heroic essence of Achilles: Homeric poetry presents his tomb as overlooking its dangerous waters, the setting for violent storms expressed by the same imagery that expresses the hero's cosmic affinity with fire and wind. Moreover, epic diction presents this fire and wind as primarily endangering the ships of the Achaeans, which are conventionally described as being beached on the Hellespont (XV 233, XVII 432, XVIII 150, XXIII 2). In other words, the Hellespont is also a focal point for the heroic essence of all the Achaeans who came to fight at Troy. Moreover, Troy itself and the Hellespont are presented in epic diction as parallel markers of the place where the Trojan War took place (XII 30, XXIV 346). It is by sailing down the Ellsponton ... xyuenta ' fish-swarming Hellespont' that Achilles could have left Troy and come back home safely to Phthia (IX 359-363).[1] In fact, from the standpoint of a Homeric audience in the eighth or seventh centuries B.C., the site of the Trojan War is significant not so much because of Troy itself but because of the Hellespont, passage to the Black Sea.[2] And the prime affinity of Achilles with the Hellespont and the realms to which it leads will survive for centuries, well beyond the classical period. From inscriptions found in the Black Sea area, we know that Achilles still presides over the pontos even as late as the second/third centuries A.D.: he is in fact still worshiped as the Pontarkhês 'Ruler of the Pontos'.[3]

§25. The cosmic affinity of Achilles with the pontos in general and with the Hellêspontos in particular is of course inherited from his mother Thetis. We are reminded of the initial Iliadic scene where the solitary figure of a weeping Achilles is pictured gazing out toward the pontos (I 350),[1] actually praying to the divine Thetis (I 351-356). The goddess then makes an epiphany that is characteristic of a true Nereid, emerging from the sea like a cloud of mist (I 357-359). Of course, Thetis was actually born in the pontos (Hesiod Th. 241/244), the granddaughter of Pontos incarnate (Th. 233). In Pindar's Isthmian 8, a poem that tells how she would have given birth to a son greater than his father if Zeus or Poseidon had mated with her (lines 31-35), she is actually called pontan yen 'goddess of the pontos' (line 34). To avoid the danger that the essence of Thetis poses to the cosmic order, the gods get her married off to the mortal Peleus (lines 35-40).[2] And the son that issues from this marriage of Peleus and Thetis grows up to fulfill a function that is latent in the very word pontos:

gefrvs t' Atredai-

... and he [Achilles] bridged a safe homecoming for the
sons of Atreus.
Pindar I.8.51

In other words: by dint of his exploits at Troy (I.8.51-55), Achilles made it possible for the leaders of the Achaeans to traverse the sea and go back home. The semantics of "bridge" here correspond to the semantics of Latin pôns, cognate of Greek pontos.[3]

§26. The cosmic powers of Thetis over the pontos are evident from local traditions connected with her actual cult. Perhaps the most striking example is in Herodotus 7.188-192, the account of a shipwreck suffered by the Persian fleet off the coast of Magnesia. The precise location of the shipwreck was an aktê 'headland' called Sêpias (after sêpiâ 'sepia, cuttlefish')--given that name, says Herodotus, because local tradition had it that Thetis was abducted by Peleus at this spot (192). Moreover, the storm that wrecked the ships of the Persians took the form of a violent wind that the local Hellenic population called the Hellêspontiês (188). We are reminded that the tomb of Achilles was on an aktê 'headland' at the Hellêspontos (xxiv 82)![1] After the storm has raged for three days, the Magi of the Persians sing incantations to the wind and sacrifice to Thetis, having been informed by the natives of the lore connecting the name Sêpias with her and the other Nereids (Herodotus 7.191).

§27. The place Sêpias is connected with Thetis not only because Peleus abducted her from there. In a story that was probably incorporated in the epic Cypria, the polymorphous Thetis actually assumes the shape of a sêpiâ 'sepia, cuttlefish' at the very moment when Peleus mates with her (scholia ad Lycophron 2.175, 178).[1] This identification is most significant in view of the sepia's function as animal of mêtis in Greek lore (e.g., shph dolmhtiw in Oppian Halieutica 2.120).[2] As Marcel Detienne and Jean-Pierre Vernant have argued most convincingly, Thetis herself is a figure of mêtis.[3] To go into this topic now would be to stray far beyond my line of inquiry, which has been confined mainly to the biê of Achilles and its cosmic affinities. Suffice it to say that the mêtis of Thetis also relates to the pontos. It is a key to the fundamentals of navigation, as embodied in the orienting principles of Poros 'charted path [over the sea]' and Tekmôr 'goal', which are opposed to the disorienting principle of Skotos 'darkness'. These personifications of opposing themes stem from the local cosmogonic traditions of Laconia as preserved in the poetry of Alcman, fr. 2P. From this same fragment, we also know that the opposing figures of Poros/Tekmôr vs. Skotos are presented as fundamental cosmic principles that are transcended by one all-encompassing figure, who is none other than the goddess Thetis![4] I will simply refer to Detienne and Vernant for a discussion of the rich mythology surrounding these related themes of navigation, orientation, and cosmogony,[5] confining myself here to one point: in local traditions such as the Laconian, Thetis figures as a primordial goddess with the most fundamental cosmic powers, and her primacy is reflected by the utmost reverence that is her due in cult (consider the Laconian practices mentioned by Pausanias 3.14.4).[6]

§28. My point is that Thetis must by nature also transcend the concept of Achilles, a son who is after all a mere "demigod," hêmitheos. Her power over the pontos entails the principle of mêtis, whereas his power has affinities only with the biê of wind and fire.[1] And yet, the heroic irony is that Achilles as son of Thetis could actually be more powerful than Zeus himself, if only he had been fathered by the god instead of a mortal (Pindar I.8.31-35). We have indeed seen that the mênis of Achilles creates effects that are parallel to those created by the biê of Zeus in a thunderstorm, and that these effects are actually validated by the Will of Zeus. In this sense, Zeus himself is validating the divine potential of the mortal Achilles. Moreover, the theme of the hero's divine potential is actually conjured up by the manner in which the Will of Zeus goes into effect in the Iliad. The wind- and firelike devastation from the mênis of Achilles is willed by Zeus because Thetis asks for it (I 407-412, 503-510). Moreover, the validation of the hero's essence in the Iliad is in return for what Thetis had done for Zeus, when she rescued him from imprisonment by his fellow Olympians (I 396-406). Here we see a vital link with the theme of the hero's divine potential. Thetis rescued Zeus by summoning Briareôs the Hundred-Hander, who then frightened the Olympian rebels away from ever endangering Zeus again (I 401-406). In this context, the Hundred-Hander is specifically described as bhn o patrw menvn ' better in biê than his father' (I 404). The theme is strikingly parallel to what would have been if Zeus or Poseidon had mated with Thetis.

§29. The figure of Briareôs, also called Aigaiôn (I 404), is a sort of nightmarish variant of Achilles himself. In the Hesiodic tradition, Briareôs/Obriareôs[1] is likewise one of the Hundred-Handers (Hesiod Th. 147-153). These figures are equal to the Titans themselves in biê (Th. 677-678), and they use their biê to defeat the Titans (Th. 649-650), thus ensuring the kratos of Zeus (Th. 662).[2] Their action in defeating the Titans (Th. 674-686, 713-719) is in fact a correlate of the victorious action taken by Zeus himself with the biê of a cosmic thunderstorm (Th. 687-712).[3] In other traditions, Aigaiôn is likewise a figure who fights against the Titans (Titanomachy fr. 2 p. 110 Allen); moreover, he lives in the sea and was actually fathered by Pontos (ibid.). On the other hand, still another tradition has Briareôs fathered by Poseidon himself (scholia ad Iliad I 404).[4] These variant figures Briareôs and Aigaiôn,[5] synthesized as one figure in Iliad I 403-404, conjure up the Iliadic theme of Achilles. He too is an exponent of biê; he too has strong affinities with the pontos. Here is a hero who would have been better than Poseidon--better than Zeus himself--if either had fathered him. Just as the divine essence of Zeus was validated by the biê of Briareôs/Aigaiôn, so also the god will now validate in return the heroic essence of Achilles in the Iliad. The biê of the Hundred-Hander is an antecedent for the biê that will mark Achilles. The hero cannot be the best of the gods, but he will be the best of heroes. And in the poetry that all Hellenes must recognize, he will be the best of the Achaeans.


§1n1. Ch.19§§3-4.

§1n2. Ch.3§§1-8.

§1n3. Ibid.

§1n4. Ch.2§§12-18.

§2n1. For a survey of other such periphrastic naming constructs: Schmitt 1967.109- 111. On îs as a synonym of biê: Ch.5§37 and Ch.12§9n4.

§2n2. There is also an attestation of biê + genitive of Hêra-kleês at XVIII 117; also at Hesiod fr. 1.22MW. Periphrases combining a noun with the genitive of a name are less archaic than those combining a noun with the adjective of a name: Schmitt, p. 110n670. In this light, the preponderance of biê + adjective of Hêra-kleês over biê + genitive of Hêra-kleês is itself significant.

§2n3. Ch.18§2.

§2n4. On the semantics of this name: Ch.7§16n3, Ch.12§7n3, Ch.14§12n3.

§2n5. The element îphi- is the instrumental of îs, a synonym of biê (cf. n1). For a similar pleonasm in a naming construct, consider Hesiod Th. 332: îs + genitive of biê + adjective of Hêra-kleês (w ... bhw Hraklhehw ).

§2n6. This construct is less archaic not only because of the genitive (n2) but also because the compound name Patro-kleês is truncated to Patroklos in these combinations (Patrkloio bhn ); see Ch.6§12 and n1.

§3n1. Ch.9§21.

§3n2. Ch.9§9.

§3n3. Ch.9§§7, 21.

§4n1. Again, Ch.3§§1-8.

§4n2. On these themes see Segal 1971 and Redfield 1975.

§4n3. Ch.7§22.

§4n4. Ibid. Note that the contrast of biê and dikê in Hesiod W&D 275 is illustrated with the behavior of beasts: since they do not have dikê (W&D 278), they devour each other (W&D 276-278).

§4n5. On the theme of orientation as it relates to mêtis: §27.

§4n6. On phrazomai as the verb of mêtis: Ch.3§5n4, §7n2.

§4n7. Like the Cyclops, Antiphates too is a cannibal: x 116, 124. Ironically, Odysseus had defeated the Cyclops by way of mêtis (ix 414, 422). Note also the word play of mê tis 'no one' in e ... m tw se bizetai 'if no one uses biê against you' at ix 410 (cf. also ix 405, 406): mê tis conjures up mêtis!

§4n8. Besides the application of megalêtor- ' great-hearted' to a wide range of warriors in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, we may note in particular the combination of this epithet with Phlegues at XIII 302 and with the thûmos of Achilles as at IX 629 (on which see Ch.7§22). It is this same thûmos that tempts the hero to eat Hektor raw (XXII 346-347).

§5n1. Also in Hesiod W&D 518.

§5n2. Also in H.Hermes 115.

§5n3. Note also Jnyoio ... mnow 'the menos of Xanthos' at XXI 383. The noun menos, which like biê and îs is used to designate the power of heroes as well as to name heroes in periphrastic constructs, also designates the power of the rivers (XII 18), of the winds (xix 440), of fire (VI 182), of the sun itself (XXIII 190). See Nagy 1974.268-269.

§5n4. The verb memonen 'is in a rage' is from the same root *men- that yields mênis, a word applied in the Iliad to the anger of gods and to the anger of Achilles--exclusively among heroes (Ch.5§8n2). Note that menos can designate 'rage, anger' as well as 'might, power' (ibid.).

§6n1. On menos as 'might, power' and as 'rage, anger': §5nn3,4.

§6n2. Overall as well, the war between the Titans and the Olympians is settled "by biê" (bhfi : Th. 882). In fact, the cosmic régime of Zeus and his Olympians is maintained by Kratos and Biê personified (Th. 385-401). On the other hand, Zeus had originally achieved his cosmic supremacy by using both biê 'might' and tekhnai 'artifice' (Th. 496) against his father Kronos.

§6n3. Cf. the thunderstorm of Zeus at xii 403-426. I draw special attention to the thuella 'gust' of wind at xii 409; elsewhere, thuellai are described as conduits of fire (xii 68). Discussion at Ch.10§41n4.

§6n4. §4.

§6n5. Cf. again the thunderstorm at xii 403-426; in this case, the collective anger of the gods (cf. xii 349) is initiated by Helios (xii 348-349, 376, 377-383) and executed by Zeus (xii 387-388). On occasion, water rather than fire is the predominant manifestation of a thunderstorm inflicted by Zeus: cf. XVI 383-393.

§6n6. Cf. n3.

§7n1. For a basic work on the Indo-Iranian figure Vâyu: Wikander 1941. On the Indo-Iranian forms of Männerbund: Wikander 1938; for the broader standpoint of the Indo-European peoples in general: Dumézil 1969b.

§7n2. Cf. Dumézil 1968.63-64. My citations from the Mahâbhârata follow the numbering of the critical (Poona) edition.

§7n3. Wikander 1947, Dumézil 1968 part I.

§7n4. There are still traces of an archaic relationship between Vâyu and Indra in the oldest body of Indic literature: see Rig-Veda 1.139.1-2, 2.41.1-3, and the commentary by Dumézil, p. 51 (cf. also his p. 58n2).

§7n5. Dumézil, pp. 63-65.

§8n1. Ch.6§§12-22.

§8n2. On the philoi as a Männerbund: Ch.5§27.

§8n3. Compare the wording that describes the isolation of the Cyclops at ix 188-189.

§8n4. Ch.9§§12(n1),33(n2).

§8n5. In the poet's own words: legmenon d toto protrvn / pow xv 'I have this epos as spoken of those that came before' (Pindar N.3.52-53). To defend my translation "of" (instead of "by"), I cite the discussion by Schmitt 1967.93-95. (I admit, however, that my interpretation may be undermined by an apparent parallel in Pindar P.3.80; thanks to Mark Griffith.) Compare also the introduction to a tale about another hunter, Meleager, at IX 524-525 (Ch.6§12). The stories about the boyhood of Achilles may be compared with parallel traditions as attested in the Irish evidence; I cite the Boyhood Deeds of CúChulainn and the Boyhood Deeds of Finn, with translations conveniently available in Cross and Slover 1936.137-152, 360-369. Cf. J. Nagy 1978.

§8n6. It is tempting to identify this spear with the meliê that Achilles inherited from his father Peleus (Ch.9§12). From Pindar's words we also hear that Peleus himself, when he was still in his prime, had captured Iolkos "alone, without an army" (mnow neu stratiw : N.3.34).

§8n7. On the theme of the hunter in general: Vidal-Naquet 1968(b). On the manner in which Achilles eats his game: Ch.7§22n5. Even within the span of this boyhood narrative, the theme of eventually taming the savage disposition of Achilles is replayed: the Centaur Cheiron is responsible for the upbringing of the young hero, and as such he is described as "augmenting his thûmos [of Achilles] in all things that are fitting" (n rmnoisi psi yumn ajvn : Pindar N.3.58). On the savage thûmos of Achilles as replayed in the Iliad, see Ch.7§22 (compare Bhîma, who himself commits cannibalism: Mahâbhârata 8.61.5 ff., anticipated at 2.61.44-46). Cheiron, by contrast, is "the Centaur who has the most dikê" (dikaitatow Kentarvn : XI 832).

§9n1. On the meaning: Chantraine I 109-110.

§9n2. There is one exception, in the Doloneia, where Dolon is called podôkês (X 316). I do not count the instances in the plural, where podôkes is a conventional epithet for swift horses (e.g., II 764) and for their charioteers (XXIII 262).

§9n3. Cf. XXI 564, XXII 173. It is also "with swift feet" that Achilles routs Aeneas from Mount Ida (XX 189) and confronts the god Apollo himself (XXII 8). Cf. also XXI 265, where Achilles is described as podarkês as he stands up against the river god Xanthos and matches "biê against biê" (nantbion : XXI 266).

§9n4. §2.

§9n5. §2n1.

§9n6. In view of such pervasive associations between the themes of windspeed and îs/biê in epic diction, I am inclined to reconsider the standard etymology offered for Î ris: root *uî- 'bend' (e.g., Chantraine II 468-469). Instead, I propose the root *uî- as in îs 'force, might', and I defend this alternative by adducing the traditional epithet system of Iris, which consistently dwells on the theme of windspeed: podênemos 'having feet of wind' (exclusive to her, in Iliad 10x), podas ôkea 'swift with her feet' (exclusive to her, in Iliad 9x), aellopos 'having feet of wind' (exclusive to her, in Iliad 3x). The îris is a 'rainbow' at XVII 547 insomuch as it functions as a teras 'foreboding sign' either of war (XVII 548) or of a storm (XVII 549)--precisely the two themes associated with îs!

§10n1. Achilles is compared to such a speeding horse at XXII 21-24 (ysi at 23). When Achilles is chasing Hektor, the verb theô applies to both (yon : XXII 161).

§10n2. §7.

§10n3. In this connection, we should note that the feminine plural of thoos serves as the ubiquitous epithet for the ships of the Achaeans (I 12, 371, etc.), which of course have a distinctly martial function in the Iliad. We recall that the Battle of the Ships was a loigos 'devastation' for the Achaeans, who were to be rescued from Hektor's onslaught by Achilles/Patroklos (Ch.5§§10-12). What bears emphasizing is that the Achaeans were rescued because their ships were rescued from Hektor's fire (cf. XVI 80-82; further discussion at §§15-20). In this sense, Achilles (/Patroklos) is savior of the Achaeans by being the guardian of their ships (discussion at §20).

§11n1. Here the poetry itself is actually referring to an epithet as an epithet; then it follows up by explaining why the epithet is appropriate. The same epithet korunêtês 'club-bearer' is applied to Areithoos at VII 9; if we had only the latter attestation, we would never know that the epithet is directly pertinent to the story of this hero.

§11n2. The kratos 'superior power' of a warrior takes the form of biê 'might': Ch.5§37. In other words, a warrior may have biê and still lose without the kratos that only Zeus and the Olympians can grant. In this case, Areithoos implicitly has biê but has failed to get kratos from the gods. On the other hand, Lykoorgos wins by using stratagem rather than the might of biê. Still, he wins without kratos, which is properly a requisite of biê. (Even the cosmic regime of the Olympians is actually maintained by the combination of Kratos and Biêpersonified: Hesiod Th. 385-401.) The implicit biê of Areithoos is in direct contrast with the stratagem of Lykoorgos.

§11n3. On eûkhos as 'fame': Muellner 1976.110-112.

§11n4. That is, "the man with the most kratos" (krtiston ).

§11n5. Surely the phrasing here calls for an accompanying gesture by the performer.

§11n6. On the context of MBh. 4.32.16, see Dumézil 1968.90,92; cf. also his p. 63. In one episode (MBh. 3.157.68), Bhîma's club is compared to Indra's bolt, released with the speed of wind.

§11n7. For further traces of Areithoos and Lykoorgos in Arcadian lore, see Pausanias 8.4.10, 8.11.4.

§12n1. Vian 1952.242-243.

§12n2. For collections of testimonia on the purrhikhê and related dances: Latte 1913.27-63 and Prudhommeau 1965.300-312; also Vian, pp. 249-250. One thing that emerges from Vian's documentation is the association of the purrhikhê with the kômos; the institution of the kômos, as we have seen, is in turn a partial heir to the ideologies of the lâos (Ch.12§§20-21).

§12n3. Cf. also Hephaestion 213.10 Consbruch. On poetry that can be sung to the accompaniment of the purrhikhê: Severyns 1938 II 176.

§12n4. Chantraine III 959-960.

§12n5. Vian, p. 242; on the formal relationship of Ereuthaliôn and ereuthô: Chantraine II 369.

§12n6. Vian, p. 242. Cf. Latte 1913.27-29, who argues that the "red dance" is motivated by the red garb traditionally worn by warriors in war (cf. Aristotle fr. 542 Rose on the martial phoinikis 'red cape' of the Lacedaemonians).

§12n7. §§5-6.

§12n8. Ch.7§5, Ch.9§10.

§12n9. Above, §6.

§12n10. Preserved in Hesychius s.v. purrixzein, in the same article that commenced with the basic definition of the word. For further testimonia relating to Archilochus fr. 304, see the scholia to Pindar P.2.127, the scholia (T) to Iliad XVI 617 (= Eustathius 1078.23), and Etymologicum Magnum 699.1. Cf. Latte, p. 30.

§12n11. Cf. also Eustathius 1697.1-6 ad Odyssey xi 505 and the scholia (B) to Hephaestion 299.1 Consbruch, where we hear that the purrhikhê originated when Purrhos leapt out of the Trojan Horse. On the alternative tradition that Achilles "invented" the purrhikhê: Aristotle fr. 519 Rose. On the Trôikon pêdêma 'Trojan Leap' as a dance form that apparently served to signal the Capture of Troy, see the scholia to Euripides Andromache 1139 and to Lycophron 245-246: as Achilles leapt off his ship, he hit the ground with such biâ 'force' that he caused a spring to gush forth, which was named Trôikon pêdêma (cf. Antimachus fr. 84 Wyss). On the Trôikon pêdêma of Pyrrhos himself at the hour of his death at Delphi, see Euripides Andromache 1139-1140. In the same context (verse 1135), the offensive and defensive maneuvers of Purrhos are actually designated as purrhikhai. On the offensive and defensive motions of the purrhikhê: Plato Laws 815a. As Borthwick 1967 argues cogently, the death dance of Pyrrhos at Delphi reenacts his own Trôikon pêdêma when he captured Troy. Cf. Pindar Paean 6.114-115, where Pyrrhos is described as [p /en]yornta 'leaping upon' the very altar of Priam in order to kill the old king.

§12n12. Aristotle fr. 519 Rose (see Ch.6§30n3).

§12n13. See again n11.

§12n14. Since we have only one source for this information, we cannot know for sure whether we are dealing here with a mistake, in that the duel in the Iliad is between Areithoos and Lykoorgos. On the other hand, we may be dealing with a genuine variant. Discussion by Vian, pp. 242-243n8. In either case, the essential thing is the ritualization itself.

§12n15. I would expect the reenactment of the môlos 'struggle' to take primarily the form of a dance, with a mîmêsis of the maneuvers taken by Lykoorgos against the hero of biê. Compare the epic narrative of these maneuvers at VII 142-145 with the dancelike description of a wolf's movements in Pindar P.2.83-85. Discussion at Ch.12§21. In terms of "drama," the fate of Ereuthalion/Areithoos is of course "tragic"; as for the môlos 'struggle' between Odysseus and Î ros at Odyssey xviii 233, the fate of the loser, this mock hero of biê, is of course "comic." On Î ros and the theme of biê ridiculed: Ch.12§9n4.

§13n1. §5.

§13n2. Again, §6.

§13n3. Again, §6.

§13n4. Cf. §6.

§14n1. The winds then move inland, approaching the pyre of Patroklos (XXIII 215-216). When their work is done, they take their leave the same way as when they arrived--over the pontos (XXIII 230).

§14n2. Ch.5§25.

§14n3. Again, Ch.5§25.

§14n4. On the parallelism of Ares and the winds: §10.

§15n1. Ch.5§§10-12.

§15n2. Whitman 1958.133-134.

§16n1. Whitman, p. 135.

§16n2. Cf. Whitman, ibid.

§16n3. This expression indicates a poetic recording of an epic event for audiences of the future: Ch.1§3n2.

§16n4. Again, Ch.1§3n2.

§16n5. §15.

§17n1. Cf. Ch.5§12

§17n2. He is also flog ekelon ' like a flame' at XIII 688.

§17n3. §6.

§18n1. §14; also Ch.5§25.

§18n2. Ibid.

§20n1. §§15, 16.

§20n2. Just as the fire is pneuye ' far away' at XIX 374 and the sailors are flvn pneuye 'far away from their philoi' at XIX 378, so also Achilles and Patroklos are described as flvn pneuyen tarvn 'far away from their philoi companions [hetaîroi]' at XXIII 77; discussion at §8.

§21n1. §§14, 18.

§21n2. Benveniste 1966 [= 1954] 296-298.

§21n3. Benveniste, p. 298.

§21n4. On the name Phrixos, see Radermacher 1943.312. I would also adduce VII 63-64, describing the phrix 'shudder' brought down on the pontos by Zephyros the West Wind as it begins to blow violently, "and the pontos becomes black from it [the phrix]."

§21n5. On the context of IX 4, see again §§14, 18.

§21n6. Cf. Householder/Nagy 1972.768.

§22n1. The tumbos 'tomb', also called sêma 'marker' at XXIII 257, is to be located p' ktw 'on a headland': XXIII 125. Note the parallel with xxiv 82: kt pi proxos 'on a jutting headland'.

§22n2. Ch.2§3.

§22n3. Ibid.

§22n4. Ch.6§§28-30. The narrative of the Iliad leaves it open, however, whether the Tomb of Achilles is man-made or a natural formation: Ch.9§16n1.

§22n5. Ch.9§§15-16.

§22n6. Ibid. Whereas Thetis calls Achilles joxon rvn 'best of hêrôes' in the diction of Panhellenic Epos (XVIII 56), he is called 'best of hemitheoi' in the diction of the local lyric of Lesbos (Alcaeus 42.13LP: amiyvn [ ... ], where the word for 'best' is lost in a lacuna).

§23n1. §22.

§23n2. §20.

§23n3. Leaf 1912.358-359.

§24n1. The theme that Achilles would reach home "on the third day" (IX 363) may be connected with the controversial expression tritaon nemon in Pindar N.7.17, which has been variously explained as "third-day's wind" or "third wind." For an introduction to the controversy: Lloyd-Jones 1973.130.

§24n2. On the penetration of the Black Sea in the eighth/seventh centuries B.C.: Drews 1976.

§24n3. For documentation, see Fontenrose 1960.256n37, who also points out that Farnell's 1921 book on Greek hero cults fails to take this epithet into account, even at p. 409n69. For more on Achilles as Pontarkhês: Pfister 1909.536-537 and Diehl 1953.

§25n1. Of course the pontos here is the Hellêspontos.

§25n2. Cf. Iliad XVIII 429-434.

§25n3. On Latin pôns and Greek pontos, see again Benveniste 1966 [= 1954] 296-298.

§26n1. Cf. also §22n1.

§27n1. Detienne/Vernant 1974.159(n129).

§27n2. For a wealth of further documentation: Detienne/Vernant, pp. 160-164.

§27n3. Detienne/Vernant, pp. 127-164; their argument is well worth reading in its entirety.

§27n4. For a detailed treatment: West 1963, 1967; Detienne/Vernant, pp. 134-138.

§27n5. Detienne/Vernant, pp. 127-164. Cf. also Penwill 1974; much as I admire this article, I disagree with its interpretation of Poros and with its separating of Thetis from *thétis 'creation'.

§27n6. Divine figures with local traits that resist Panhellenic systematization tend to be non-Olympian, no matter how important they may be in the local traditions; cf. Rohde I 39-40n1. So also with Thetis in the Panhellenic Epos of Homeric poetry: she is distinctly non-Olympian and is treated as socially inferior to the Olympians (cf. XX 105-107, XXIV 90-91). But her cosmic powers are clearly recognized (I 396-406, XVIII 429-434). Cf. Nagy 1974.277-278; also West 1963, 1967 (esp. p. 3).

§28n1. Similarly with the fire god Hephaistos: his fire entails not only biê as at XXI 367 but also mêtis as at XXI 355, where the god is called polumêtis 'whose mêtis is manifold'.

§29n1. On the name: West 1966.210.

§29n2. On the theme that Kratos and Biê maintain the cosmic régime of Zeus, see Th. 385-401 (cf. §11n2).

§29n3. To put it another way, in defeating the Titans the biê of the Hundred-Handers and the biê of Zeus are two variants of one theme that are combined in the narrative of the Theogony. For more on the biê of Zeus: §6 (esp. n2).

§29n4. There seems to be a concession to this variant in Th. 817-819; cf. West, p. 210.

§29n5. Solinus 11.6 says that Briareos had a cult at Karystos and Aigaion, at Khalkis.

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