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 9

Poetic Categories for the Hero

§1. In the Iliad, Hektor's aspiration to get the same tîmê that is accorded to Athena (and Apollo) not only formalizes the antagonism between hero and god; it also implies a slighting of the superior god's tîmê by the inferior hero. On the level of Homeric discourse, the dimension of cult that is conveyed by the word tîmê is latent in such situations, so that the hero's stance amounts to what seems to be--on the surface of the narrative--simply a slighting of the god's honor. On the level of Hesiodic discourse, by contrast, the tîmê of the gods in an analogous situation is overtly expressed in terms of cult.[1]

§2. The passage in question comes from the Myth of the Five Generations, in the Works and Days. Let us join the narrative midstream, at the description of the Second, or "Silver," Generation of Mankind, and how it came to grief after having enjoyed only the briefest span of adolescence (W&D 132-134). We are now about to be told the reason for this sudden demise:

hubrin gar atasthalon ouk edunanto
allêlôn apechein, oud' athanatous therapeuein
êthelon oud' erdein makarôn hierois epi bômois,
themis anthrôpoisi kat' êthea. tous men epeita
Zeus Kronidês ekrupse choloumenos, houneka timas
ouk edidon makaressi theois hoi Olumpon echousin

For they could not keep wanton hubris from each other,
and they were unwilling either to be ministers to the immortals
or to sacrifice on the sacred altars of the blessed ones,
which is the socially right thing for men, in accordance with their local customs.
And Zeus the son of Kronos was angry and made them disappear,
because they did not give tîmai to the blessed gods who control Olympus.
Hesiod W&D 134-139

§3. In this passage, remarkable as it is for both its explicitness and its precision, we see the institutional observance of cult being overtly expressed in terms of giving the gods tîmai.[1] This point is essential as we read further in the Works and Days. For, despite the fact that the men of the Silver Generation did not give tîmai to the gods, they still receive what they had failed to give:

deuteroi, all' empês timê kai toisin opêdei

They are second in rank, but nevertheless they too get tîmê.
Hesiod W&D 142

The Silver Generation is "second," of course, to the First, or "Golden," Generation (W&D 109-126); by implication, it is to the Golden rather than Silver Generation that tîmê is primarily due-- next to the gods themselves.[2] Also by implication, the tîmê received by the Golden and Silver Generations comes from sacrifice, as performed by the mankind of the here-and-now.

§4. It is not immediately clear from these Hesiodic verses, however, if the Silver Generation actually represents a classification of heroes, in their ritual dimension as antagonists of gods. The specifically heroic nature of the Silver Generation becomes explicit only when we see how it complements the nature of the Golden Generation, with which it is formally and thematically coordinated. This coordination was observed in the irreplaceable Psyche of Erwin Rohde, and it is his reading that I will attempt to reformulate here.[1] The narrative of the Works and Days makes it clear that the lifespan of the Silver Generation would have been but a copy of the Golden, had it not been for the former's committing hubris 'outrage' (W&D 134-135).[2] The hubris of the Silver Generation is a consequence of its nature, which is to be contrasted with that of the Golden (W&D 129). In the case of the Golden Generation, the Hesiodic description of its nature is explicitly appropriate to heroes as they are worshiped in cult:

toi men daimones eisi Dios megalou dia boulas
esthloi, epichthonioi, phulakes thnêtôn anthrôpôn
hoi rha phulassousin te dikas kai schetlia erga,
êera hessamenoi pantêi phoitôntes ep' aian,
ploutodotai: kai touto geras basilêïon eschon

And they are the daimones, by the Will of Zeus.
They are the good,[3] the epikhthonioi, the guardians of mortal men.
They guard the dikai and against bad deeds.
Invisible, they roam all over the Earth,[4]
givers of wealth. And they had this too as a geras, befitting kings.[5]
Hesiod W&D 122-126

Whereas the Silver Generation commits hubris, the Golden is here described as upholding dikai (W&D 124). We will have more to say presently about this contrast in hubris/dikê, as also about the explicitly heroic characteristics of the Golden Generation; for now, the most important thing to observe is the description of this class of mankind as epikhthonioi (W&D 123).[6]

§5. As Rohde points out,[1] the epithet epi-khthonioi marks the earthbound condition of mankind (besides W&D 123, see Th. 416, Iliad IV 45, etc.; khthôn = 'earth'), as compared to the celestial existence of the Olympian gods, who are ep-ouranioi (see Iliad VI 129, etc.; ouranos = 'sky'). We must keep in mind that the function of epi- 'on, at' in these two formations is simply to associate figures with places. That much said, we now come to the description of the Silver Generation as the hupo-khthonioi 'those who abide under the earth':

toi men hupochthonioi makares thnêtoi kaleontai

And they are called the hupokhthonioi, blessed mortals.
Hesiod W&D 141

Let us juxtapose the corresponding description of the Golden Generation:[2]

esthloi, epichthonioi, phulakes thnêtôn anthrôpôn

They are the good, the epikhthonioi, the guardians of mortal men.
Hesiod W&D 123

True, the Silver Generation abides beneath the earth by virtue of being hupo-khthonioi, but this formation does not imply that the Golden Generation abides above the earth by virtue of being epi-khthonioi. As Rohde surveys the association of institutional hero cults with figures like Amphiaraos, Trophonios, Althaimenes, Teiresias, Erekhtheus, Phaethon, and others, he finds that the characteristics of these heroes match closely those of the Golden Generation, and yet their abodes in cult are all under the earth.[3] Even the diction of Hesiodic poetry bears out this feature. A figure like Phaethon is specifically called a daimôn in his function as nêopolos mukhios 'underground temple-attendant' of the goddess Aphrodite (Th. 991).[4] As we have already seen, those in the Golden Generation are also specifically called daimones (W&D 122).

§6. The essence, then, of the Golden and Silver Generations is that together they form a complete picture of the hero in cult. The evidence of Hesiodic diction even corroborates that both generations--not just the Golden--qualify as daimones.[1] In this respect, they are both like the Olympian gods, who also qualify as daimones (e.g., Iliad I 222, etc.).[2]

§7. If indeed the First and Second Generations of Mankind are designed as complementary categories, it remains to ask why a distinction was made in the first place. The answer is available in a study by Jean-Pierre Vernant, who has observed that the entire Myth of the Five Generations is permeated with the central theme of contrasting dikê with hubris.[1] The composition of the Works and Days elaborates this theme even further in the lengthy moral (W&D 213-285) that follows the Myth of the Five Generations (W&D 106-201).[2] We have, in fact, already seen that the concept of dikê characterizes the First Generation, as compared to the hubris of the Second. We must now add that the Third Generation is again characterized by hubris (hubries: W&D 146);[3] furthermore, it is then set off from the Fourth Generation for the specific reason that the Fourth has dikê, as compared to the Third (dikaioteron: W&D 158).[4] By virtue of dikê, the Fourth is also superior to the Third (dikaioteron kai areion: W&D 158), whereas the Second had been inferior to the First (polu cheiroteron: W&D 127). In other words, Generation I, which is marked by dikê, serves as a positive foil for Generation II, marked by hubris; correspondingly, Generation III, which is marked by hubris, serves as a negative foil for Generation IV, again marked by dikê. As for Generation V, which describes the realities of the Hesiodic world, the good is to be mixed in with the bad (W&D 179). In this world of the here-and-now, hubris is engaged in an ongoing struggle with dikê (W&D 213-218 and beyond). I could put it another way: Generation V is the quintessence of the four opposing types of human condition, Generations I versus II, and III versus IV. The here-and-now incorporates all the oppositions of the past and the hereafter.

§8. It remains to ask what kind of human condition is represented by Generations III and IV. My answer will be based on the proposition that Generations I and II together form an integral picture of the hero in cult. Correspondingly, I propose that Generations III and IV together form a complete picture of the hero in epic. Furthermore, just as Generation I had represented the positive side of Generation II, so also Generation III represents the negative side of Generation IV.

§9. As in our discussion of the first two generations, let us approach the next two by beginning with the negative side of the picture. The Third or "Bronze" Generation is depicted as bent on nothing but hubris and war:

Zeus de patêr triton allo genos meropôn anthrôpôn
chalkeion poiês', ouk argureôi ouden homoion,
ek melian, deinon te kai obrimon: hoisin Arêos
erg' emele stonoenta kai hubries

And Zeus made another Generation of meropes men, the Third.
And he made it Bronze, not at all like the Silver.
A Generation born from ash trees, violent and terrible.
Their minds were set on the woeful deeds of Ares and acts of hubris.[1]
Hesiod W&D 143-146

Their very birth and essence, ash trees and bronze respectively, add up to a prime emblem of war: the generic spear of epic diction has a staff made of ash wood and a tip made of bronze, so that a Homeric word for "spear" like enkhos can bear either the epithet meilinon'of ash' (e.g., V 655) or khalkeon 'of bronze' (e.g., V 620).[2] The description of the Bronze Generation continues, with more details about their savage ways:

oude ti siton
êsthion, all' adamantos echon kraterophrona thumon,
aplastoi: megalê de biê kai cheires aaptoi
ex ômôn epephukon epi stibaroisi melessin.
tôn d' ên chalkea men teuchea, chalkeoi de te oikoi,
chalkôi d' eirgazonto: melas d' ouk eske sidêros.
kai toi men cheiressin hupo spheterêisi damentes
bêsan es eurôenta domon kruerou Aidao,
nônumnoi: thanatos de kai ekpaglous per eontas
heile melas, lampron d' elipon phaos êelioio.

And they did not eat grain,
but their hard-dispositioned thûmos was made of hard rock.
They were forbidding: they had great biê and overpowering hands growing out of their shoulders, with firm foundations for limbs.[3]
Their implements were bronze, their houses were bronze, and they did their work with bronze. There was no iron.
And they were wiped out when they killed each other,
and went nameless to the dank house of chill Hades.[4]
Terrible as they were, black Death still took them, and they left the bright light of the Sun.
Hesiod W&D 146-155

§10. As the comparative studies of Francis Vian have shown,[1] this blood-crazed behavior of the Bronze Men is like that of a runaway Männerbund on the fringes of civilized society.[2] The Bronze Men are in the same mold as various other bands of impious warriors in Greek myth--most notably the Spartoi and the Phlegyai.[3] We may note in particular that the Phlegyai are also characterized by hubris (Phleguôn ... hubristaôn: Ê.Apollo 278),[4] while the Spartoi are traditionally depicted as bearing the sign of the spear as a birthmark (Aristotle Poetics 1454b22).[5]

§11. Besides such remote figures as these Spartoi and Phlegyai, we can find a much more immediate manifestation of the heroic type represented by the Bronze Men. As we have seen in Chapter 7, Achilles himself is associated--however remotely--with the theme of plundering Delphi, as if he were of the same mold as the wanton Phlegyai.[1] Then too, Achilles himself has his epic moments of wanton slaughter, where the diction of even the Iliad presents its prime hero on the very fringes of savagery. More than that, we have seen in Chapters 3 and 4 that Achilles himself is the champion of biê in the Homeric tradition.[2] Now as we begin to see in the Works and Days that biê is also the mark of the Bronze Generation (W&D 148), we may be ready to infer that this Hesiodic classification of mankind suits the dark and latent side of the Homeric hero.[3] What may carry conviction is yet another striking convergence in detail between the figures of Achilles and the Bronze Men.

§12. We have already seen that bronze and ash wood are emblematic of the Third Generation (W&D 143-151) and that the spear of Homeric diction consists of the same elements: a tip of bronze and a shaft of ash wood. We must now observe further that the bronze-tipped ash spear of Achilles in particular is the only piece of the hero's armor that was not made by the divine smith Hephaistos (see XVII 194-197, XVIII 82-85). Rather, the spear of Achilles was inherited from his father, to whom it had been given by Cheiron the Centaur:

Pêliada meliên tên patri philôi pore Cheirôn
Pêliou ek koruphês, phonon emmenai hêrôessin

the Pelian ash-spear, which Cheiron had given to his philos father,
from the heights of Mount Pelion, to be death for heroes
XVI 143-144

In fact, Achilles is described as the only hero who could wield this magnificent spear (XVI 140-142), which is also the only piece of the hero's armor that Patroklos did not take with him when he fatally replaced Achilles (XVI 139-141) and which is therefore the only piece not to be despoiled and then actually worn by the killer of Patroklos, Hektor. As Richard Shannon points out, the spear of Achilles is a theme that reaffirms the hero's connection with his mortal father, just as the rest of his armor connects him with his immortal mother.[1] What is more, as Shannon's whole monograph shows convincingly, the meliê 'ash spear' of Achilles is a word that is "restricted in the Iliad to describing the individual weapon of a specific character in particular contexts."[2] In sum, the diction of the entire Iliad makes the bronze-tipped ash spear an emblem of Achilles just as surely as the birthmark of a spear characterizes the wanton Spartoi, or as bronze and ash wood characterize the equally wanton Bronze Men.[3]

§13. Having seen how the Third Generation corresponds to the recessive dark side of the Homeric hero, we are ready to examine whether the Fourth Generation corresponds to the dominant illustrious side, worthy of glorification by epic poetry.[1] In the process, we will also have to examine the more basic question: to what extent may we look at Generation IV as the positive side of Generation III?

§14. The Hesiodic description of those in the Fourth Generation overtly names them as the heroes who fought at Thebes and at Troy (W&D159-165). Even the diction corresponds to that of Homeric Epos: the expression andrôn hêrôôn theion genos 'the divine generation of hêrôes' (W&D 159) features the conventional Homeric word for "hero": hêrôs/hêrôes (Iliad I 4, etc.). In the entire Works and Days, the word hêrôs/hêrôes is in fact restricted to the Fourth Generation (W&D 159, 172).

§15. Conversely, the next epithet applied to the Fourth Generation, hêmitheoi 'half-gods' (W&D 160), is restricted in the entire Iliad and Odyssey to one attestation, XII 23. The immediate context is one of those rare moments when the narrative of the Iliaddistances itself from the epic action of the moment long enough to take in the wider view of the entire Iliad--and then the even wider view of the entire Trojan War. As the time frame expands, the perspective shifts from the heroic past to the here-and-now of the Homeric audience. The whole shift is occasioned by the topic of the wall that the Achaeans had built.[1] After a description of how the wall had functioned up to this point in the narrative (XII 3-9), we hear that it will no longer exist after a while (XII 9). Then comes a recounting of all the epic action that is yet to happen before the wall is destroyed: at this point in the narrative, Hektor is still alive (XII 10), Achilles still has his mênis (XII 10), and the Troy of Priam is not yet destroyed (XII 11). With the mention of the last theme, we are transported beyond the time frame of the Iliad into a brief account of Troy's destruction (XII 12-16)--after which Apollo and Poseidon let loose the rivers of the Troad in order to sweep away all traces of the Achaean Wall (XII 17-33, especially 26-32).[2]

§16. It is almost as if all the "props" that mark an Achaean expedition against Troy are to be obliterated once the expedition is over and the attention of epic switches to other places, other stories.[1] Among these "props" destined for obliteration, we get the following description of the remains lying on the riverbanks:

hothi polla boagria kai truphaleiai
kappeson en koniêisi kai hêmitheôn genos andrôn

where many cowhide-shields and helmets
fell in the dust--as also a generation of hêmitheoi[2]
XII 22-23

I have taken all this time in elaborating on the single Homeric attestation of hêmitheoi in order to show how closely the diction of archaic hexameter poetry responds to variant traditional perspectives on heroes. Whereas hêrôes is the appropriate word in epic, hêmitheoi is more appropriate to a style of expression that looks beyond epic.[3]

§17. In sum, I propose that the diction of the Works and Days represents the Fourth Generation of Mankind in a manner that is both appropriate to the heroes of epic tradition (consider hêrôes at W&D 159) and at the same time removed from the epic perspectives of the heroic age (consider hêmitheoi at W&D 160). It follows that we are now faced with an important question about the theme reflected by the diction. In specifically identifying the men of the Fourth Generation as those heroes who had fought at Thebes and at Troy, the Works and Days is doubtless making reference to actual epic traditions, and we have yet to ask what these may be.

§18. Let us look first at the Theban War. Actually, we may have to choose between two separate epic traditions about two separate Theban Wars: the Seven against Thebes, otherwise known as the Thebais, and the Epigonoi. Through the medium of Athenian tragedy--specifically through the Seven against Thebes by Aeschylus--we at least know indirectly the main themes inherited by the first of these two epic traditions, although there is very little that survives directly from either (see Thebais/Epigonoi at pp. 112-114/115-116 Allen). Even aside from the Aeschylean play, however, the Iliad itself gives us valuable glimpses of themes from the traditions of both the Thebais and the Epigonoi.[1] In fact, the references in Iliad IV-V reveal an interesting contrast between heroic types as represented by two distinct epic traditions.

§19. As we join the action in Iliad IV, we find Agamemnon goading Diomedes into battle with taunting words of neîkos 'blame' (neikessen: IV 368).[1] The king's taunt takes the form of an episodic narrative about the heroic exploits of Tydeus in one of his skirmishes with the Thebans (IV 370-400).[2] Since Tydeus was of course not only the father of Diomedes but also one of the Seven against Thebes, the narrative has a special application as a taunt for Diomedes, since he in turn was one of the Epigonoi. Even more important, the conclusion of Agamemnon's taunt is that Diomedes is inferior, khereia (accusative), to his father in battle (IV 400), and we note that we have seen a variant of the same word used in contrasting the Generations of Mankind (kheiroteron 'inferior': W&D 127).

§20. Diomedes responds to the taunt of Agamemnon by showing an eagerness to prove himself in battle (IV 401-402, 412-418), but his comrade Sthenelos cannot resist a rejoinder to Agamemnon. As we examine his words, we must keep in mind that Sthenelos was also one of the Epigonoi, while his father Kapaneus was also one of the Seven against Thebes:

Atreïdê, pseude' epistamenos sapha eipein:
hêmeis toi paterôn meg' ameinones euchometh' einai:
hêmeis kai Thêbês hedos heilomen heptapuloio,
pauroteron laon agagonth' hupo teichos areion,
peithomenoi teraessi theôn kai Zênos arôgêi:
keinoi de spheterêisin atasthaliêisin olonto.
moi pateras poth' homoiêi entheo timêi

Son of Atreus! Don't warp your talk when you know how to speak clearly!
We boast to be much better than our fathers.
We even captured the foundations of seven-gated Thebes,
having mustered a smaller army against a stronger fortress,
and having heeded the signs of the gods and the help of Zeus.
But they perished, by their own wantonness.
So do not bestow on our fathers a tîmê that is like ours.
IV 404-410

Although Diomedes is socially compelled to answer Agamemnon's taunt with action rather than words,[1] the very theme of the taunt leads to his vindication. If indeed action weighs more heavily than words--which is after all the ideological basis for the taunt itself-- then surely the Epigonoi are better than the Seven against Thebes, since the sons captured Thebes and thus succeeded where their fathers had failed.[2] Thus the whole interchange that began with the taunt of Agamemnon amounts in the end to an affirmation that the Epigonoi were indeed superior to the Seven against Thebes.[3]

§21. Again, we are reminded of the Hesiodic Myth of the Five Generations. Since Generation IV is not only "more just" but also "better" (areion: W&D 158) than Generation III, we may ask whether there is a traditional parallel in the theme that makes the Epigonoi superior to the Seven against Thebes. Here too, after all, we see a contrast of actual generations. Moreover, the fathers of the Epigonoi are said to have died because of their "wantonness," atasthaliêisin (IV 409), and we must recognize that the word atasthalo- 'wanton' and its derivatives are conventionally associated in Homeric diction with acts denoted by the word hubris and its derivatives (XI 695, XIII 633-634, iii 207, xvii 588, etc.); the adjective atasthalo- even serves as an epithet of the noun hubris (xvi 86, xxiv 352). So too in Hesiodic diction: in fact, it is the same epithet atasthalo- 'wanton' that marks the hubris of Generation II (W&D 134), which is parallel to the hubris of Generation III (W&D 146).

§22. As we look about for an instance illustrating the "wanton" (atasthalo-) nature of the Seven against Thebes, we come upon a particularly grisly and negative theme--one that also happens to contrast sharply with a positive theme that reflects on the nature of the Epigonoi. We begin by considering the positive theme. There is a poetic tradition, as we learn from Skolion 894P, that both Diomedes and Achilles were immortalized on the Isles of the Blessed.[1] In the case of Diomedes, we see from the Pindaric allusion at Nemean 10.7 that it was Athena who brought about his immortalization. The scholia to this passage reveal the corresponding negative theme.[2] Athena was about to confer immortality upon Tydeus, father of Diomedes, as he lay dying from wounds inflicted in his duel with the Theban hero Melanippos, who had also been mortally wounded. What stopped the goddess from fulfilling her initial design was her sheer disgust at what she saw: Tydeus was eating the brains of Melanippos.[3] Here, then, is the grisly deed that deprived Tydeus of an immortality that could have been his--but was passed on to his son Diomedes. Again we may compare the Hesiodic Myth of Generations, and how the men of Generation III are assigned to Hades (W&D 153) while those of Generation IV are eligible for the Isles of the Blessed (W&D 164-173).[4] For all these reasons, I conclude that the war against Thebes at W&D 162-163 is the war of the Epigonoi.[5]

§23. Having first looked at the Theban War, let us now turn to the Trojan War. The compressed Hesiodic retelling of the fate in store for the Achaean heroes who fought at Troy (W&D 167-173) resembles the plot of the Aithiopis more than that of the Iliad, in that the heroes who fell are said to be transported after death into a state of immortality on the Isles of the Blessed (W&D 171).[1] In the Aithiopis, both the main hero and the main heroic opponent--Achilles and Memnon respectively--are similarly transported after death into a state of immortality by their respective divine patronesses, Thetis and Eos (Proclus p. 106.14-15 and 6-7 Allen). By contrast, the plot of the Iliad ends on the theme of death for both the main hero and the main heroic opponent; the death of Hektor, which is the theme that ultimately closes the composition, explicitly requires the ensuing death of Achilles (XXII 359-360), and there is no overt prediction of impending immortality for either Achilles or Hektor anywhere in the Iliad (or in the Odyssey).[2]

§24. This dichotomy in how the Achilles story ends has led to the commonplace inference that the Iliad, being apparently an older composition than the Aithiopis, somehow represents an older set of beliefs according to which the Achilles figure fails to achieve immortality after death.[1] The two underlying assumptions are (1) that the Achilles figure ends at the same point where a given Achilles story ends and (2) that Hades had always represented an eschatological rather than a transitional state. Neither assumption carries conviction.

§25. Let us begin to look beyond these assumptions by quickly examining a parallel to the Iliadic finale of Achilles, in an epic composition known as the Oikhalias Halosis ('Capture of Oikhalia'),[1] transmitted by a rhapsodic organization at Samos known as the Kreophyleioi.[2] Thanks to Walter Burkert's meticulous survey of the attested documentation about this lost epic,[3] we know that there were several features in the plot structure of the Oikhalias Halosis that paralleled the specific conventions of the Iliad. (The parallelisms between this epic composed in the tradition of the Kreophyleioi of Samos and those composed in the tradition of the Homeridai of Chios[4] had even led to a myth that has the founding father Kreophylos being "given" the Oikhalias Halosis by Homer himself, who had left Chios to visit him in Samos and had then wanted to reward the host's cordial treatment of his guest.)[5] We find perhaps the most striking parallel between the Iliad and this particular Herakles epic in the emphasis on the theme of mortality. As we see from the retelling in Apollodorus 2.7.7, Herakles at the end of the Oikhalias Halosis arranges for the funeral of those who fought on his side,[6] much as Achilles makes possible the funeral of Hektor at the end of the Iliad. Thus the Oikhalias Halosis ends on a note of death and lamentation, and Burkert infers that such an ending foreshadows the impending death of Herakles himself.[7] In fact we know from the Hesiodic tradition that the inherited story of Herakles and Iole, the central theme of the Oikhalias Halosis, presupposes his subsequent suffering and death on Mount Oeta (Hesiod fr. 25.20-25 and fr. 229MW)[8] --a traditional theme that is pictured again for us many years later by Sophocles in his Women of Trachis.[9] And yet we also know that the inherited theme of the hero's death and descent to Hades (Hesiod fr. 25.20-25MW) in turn presupposes his subsequent accession to Olympus and immortality (Hesiod fr. 25.26-33MW).[10] Note the transition from death and Hades to Olympus and immortalization:

kai] thane kai rh' Aïd[ao polustonon hike]to dôma.
nun d' êdê theos esti, kakôn d' exêluthe pantôn,
zôei d' entha per alloi Olumpia dômat' echontes
athanatos kai agêros, echôn kall[is]phuron Hêbên

And he died and went to the mournful house of Hades.
But now he is already a god, and he has emerged from all the evils,
and he lives where the others who have their abodes on Olympus live also;
he is immortal and unaging, having as wife Hebe with the beautiful ankles.[11]
Hesiod fr. 25.25-28MW

As Burkert points out, the theme of immortality in store for the hero is simply left outside the framework of the Oikhalias Halosis, by virtue of its epic ending.[12] In this respect, then, the composition bears a Homeric mark.[13]

§26. Accordingly, we should not be surprised to find an adherence to the same sort of Homeric touch in the genuinely Homeric Odyssey, where we indeed see Achilles languishing in Hades (xi 467-540, xxiv 15-18).[1] If the Odyssey is to complement the Iliad, Achilles must not yet be seen on the Isles of the Blessed.

§27. Beyond the Iliad and Odyssey, Achilles is regularly featured as having won immortality after death through the intervention of his divine mother Thetis; in this glorious state, he abides on the mythical island of Leuke (Aithiopis/Proclus p. 106.12-15 Allen),[1] which is an individualized variation on his other traditional abodes in the afterlife--either the Isles of the Blessed (Skolion 894P, Pindar O.2.68-80) or Elysium itself (Ibycus 291P, Simonides 558P).[2]

§28. The formal description of these diverse mythical places in the diction of archaic poetry presents a remarkably unified vision. We begin our survey of the relevant passages with the Homeric account of the Plain of Elysium (Êlusion pedion: iv 563), situated at the Edges of Earth (peirata gaiês: iv 563),[1] where Menelaos will be "sent" by the gods because he is consort of Helen (iv 564-569). Life here is described as "most easy" for humans (rhêïstê: iv 565), and there is no bad weather (iv 566), but instead the earth-encircling River Okeanos makes the Wind Zephyros blow so as to reanimate mortals (iv 567-568).[2] Let us straightway juxtapose this picture with the Hesiodic description of the Isles of the Blessed, the abode of such heroes as those who fell at Troy and were then given immortal life by divine agency (W&D 167-168). These Isles of the Blessed are also situated at the Edges of Earth (peirata gaiês: W&D 168), where the earth-encircling Okeanos flows (W&D 171); here too life is easy (W&D 170) and the weather is so good that the Earth bears crops three times yearly (W&D 172-173).

§29. As we now look even more closely at this Hesiodic passage describing the heroes who inhabit the Isles of the Blessed (W&D 167-173), we discover a remarkable mirroring of both theme and diction between these representatives of Generation IV and those of Generation I: I:

hôste theoi d' ezôon akêdea thumon echontes

They lived like gods, having a thûmos without cares.
W&D 112

IV:

kai toi men naiousin akêdea thumon echontes

And they live having a thûmos without cares.
W&D 170

I:

karpon d' ephere zeidôros aroura
automatê pollon te kai aphthonon

And the grain-giving Earth bore crops
by itself--a great and generous supply.
W&D 117-118

IV:

toisin meliêdea karpon
tris eteos thallonta pherei zeidôros aroura

And for them the grain-giving Earth bears delicious crops
that come into bloom three times a year.
W&D 172-173

I:

hoi men epi Kronou êsan, hot' ouranôi embasileuen

And they were in the time of Kronos, when he was king in the sky.
W&D 111

IV:

toisin Kronos embasileuei

And Kronos is king for them.
W&D 169[1]

§30. The form of this ring composition is the reflex of a theme: that the progression of mankind has come full circle from Generation IV back to the Golden Age of Generation I. From these convergences in diction and theme, I infer that the ring-composed Hesiodic Myth of the Five Generations of Mankind operates in a cycle from Generation I to II to III to IV back to I, by way of the quintessential V of the here-and-now.[1] In line with this reasoning, I am ready to reinterpret the following verses:

mêket' epeit' ôphellon egô pemptoisi meteinai andrasin, all' ê prosthe thanein ê epeita genesthai

If only I no longer lived in the Fifth Generation,
but had either died before it or been born after it!
Hesiod W&D 174-175

The poet's wish to have died before the Fifth Generation would place him in the Fourth, while his alternative wish to be born after the Fifth would place him ahead into the First. Either way, he would reach the Golden Age. His longing is for the Golden Age as a permanent state: he is seeking release from the cycle of human existence, which is diachronically represented in the sequence of I to II to III to IV back to I and synchronically represented in the quintessential V.[2]

§31. The theme of a cycle that leads to the permanency of a Golden Age is attested in the traditional poetic diction of Pindar. Significantly, one attestation comes from a specific type of lamentation, a thrênos:[1]

hoisi de Phersephona poinan palaiou pentheos
dexetai, es ton huperthen halion keinôn enatôi eteï
andidoi psuchas palin, ek tan basilêes agauoi
kai sthenei kraipnoi sophiai te megistoi
andres auxont': es de ton loipon chronon hêroes ha-
gnoi pros anthrôpôn kaleontai

On whose behalf Persephone will receive compensation for a penthos of long standing,
the psûkhai of these she sends back up, on the ninth year, to the sunlight above,
and from these [psûkhai] will grow illustrious kings,
vigorous in strength and very great in wisdom.
And for the rest of time they shall be called holy heroes.
Pindar fr. 133SM[2]

The title hêroes hagnoi 'holy heroes' at line 5 recalls the words olbioi hêrôes 'blessed heroes' (W&D 172), describing the immortalized Fourth Generation. Moreover, the title basilêes 'kings' at line 3 recalls the honor appropriate to the Golden Generation, which is called the geras basilêion 'honorific portion of kings' (W&D 126).[3] In Pindar's Olympian 2, a composition that adopts the thematic apparatus of the thrênos apparently because of this genre's ad hoc appropriateness to the special circumstances of the performance and audience,[4] we see further elaboration on the traditional vision of the Golden Age:O.2.70-71: The place is the Isles of the Blessed, with the Tower of Kronos as landmark. Compare the reign of Kronos in the Golden Age, W&D 111, and on the Isles of the Blessed, W&D 169.O.2.70-72: The winds blow from the Okeanos. Compare the gusts of Zephyros blowing from the Okeanos bordering Elysium, iv 567-568; compare too the Okeanos bordering the Isles of the Blessed, W&D 171.O.2.72-74: The plant life is golden.[5] Compare the golden essence of the First Generation, W&D 109-110.O.2.75-77: Rhadamanthys is there, rendering justice. Compare his presence in Elysium, iv 564.O.2.78-80: Achilles is among those heroes who abide on the Isles of the Blessed. Compare the transportation of heroes who fell at Troy to the Isles of the Blessed, W&D 167-173.

§32. The envisioning of Achilles on the Isles of the Blessed formalizes the promise of an afterlife--a consolatory theme that is apparently intrinsic to the genre of the thrênos. In the Aithiopis, moreover, the thrênoi sung by the Muses over the dead Achilles himself lead immediately to his being transported into the actual state of immortality by his divine mother (Proclus p. 106.13-15 Allen).[1] Thus the epic narrative here fulfills on the level of content the promise that the genre of the thrênos offers on the level of form. In the Odyssey, by contrast, no such self-fulfillment can come from the mention of the thrênoi sung by the Muses over the dead Achilles (thrêneon: xxiv 61). It is Agamemnon who is telling of these thrênoi, and he is speaking to Achilles--who along with Agamemnon is at this very moment languishing in Hades!

§33. As we come back to the Hesiodic passage describing the Fourth Generation of Mankind (W&D 156-173), we can reaffirm that the heroes of the Trojan War in this representation belong to a narrative type that fits Achilles as he appears in the Aithiopis, not the Achilles of the Iliad and Odyssey. But we can also expand the comparison by considering the end in store for the Third Generation of Mankind. After these bloodthirsty warriors die, they are relegated specifically to Hades (W&D 152-155), which is in direct contrast with the Isles of the Blessed, the ultimate destination of the Fourth Generation. In this particular respect, then, the blood-thirsty warriors of the Third Generation resemble the Achilles of the Iliad and Odyssey, who is likewise destined for Hades. In other respects as well, we have seen resemblances: the wanton behavior of the Third Generation corresponds to the dark and recessive dimension of the prime Homeric hero, just as their very emblems of bronze and ash wood correspond to the spear of Achilles. As we have seen, that spear is the only mortal aspect of this hero's otherwise immortal apparatus.[1] I must add that our calling the armor of Achilles "immortal" is not a case of forcing an interpretation. The epithet ambrota'immortal' is actually applied to the teukhea 'armor' of Achilles, as at XVII 194, 202.[2]

§34. Of course, the Iliad is hardly primitive on account of its delving into the mortal aspect of Achilles. If anything, the Iliadic emphasis on mortality is a mark of sophistication, which we can appreciate only after we take another look at traditional representations of immortality.


Notes

§1n1. For tîmê as "cult," see Ch.7§1n2.

§3n1. Cf. Rohde I 99n1.

§3n2. Rohde I 99.

§4n1. See Rohde I 91-110.

§4n2. For the significance of the opposition between hubrisand dikê in the Works and Days, I will rely on the study of Vernant 1966 [= 1960].

§4n3. On the connotations of esthlos 'worthy, good': Ch.10§1n2, §3n2.

§4n4. For the interpretation of êera hessamenoi 'wrapped in mist' at W&D 125 as "invisible," see Rohde I 96n3.

§4n5. On geras 'honorific portion', see Ch.7§19n3; on the connotations of basilêïon 'befitting basilêes [kings]', see §31.

§4n6. For cogent arguments against the bracketing of W&D 124-125, see Rohde I 96n1; also Vernant 1966 [= 1960] 29. Albert Henrichs calls my attention to a remarkable parallelism between W&D 122-126 and the parabasis of Aristophanes Heroes = fr. 58 Austin. See Merkelbach 1967 and Gelzer 1969 (esp. pp. 123 ff.).

§5n1. Rohde I 97n1; so also the Proclus commentary. Cf. also Goldschmidt 1950.37, Vernant 1966 [= 1960] 25 and 1966b.274, and West 1978.182.

§5n2. For the textual problems at W&D 122-123, see West, pp. 181-182.

§5n3. Rohde I 111-145.

§5n4. See Rohde I 135n1, as well as Ch.10§§22-36 below; also Sinos 1975.17-37.

§6n1. The etymology of daimôn as 'he who apportions' (see Ch.7§15n1) is paralleled by the epithet ploutodotai 'givers of wealth' at W&D 126, correlated with daimones at W&D 122. For a warning against equating the daimones of Hesiodic diction with the daimones of Plato's usage, see Rohde I 96n2. Cf. also Detienne 1963, esp. the preface by J.-P. Vernant. Finally, consider the comment on the word by Nock 1972 [= 1944] 580n21: "It is a word of reflection and analysis."

§6n2. The Olympian gods in turn have some cult functions that properly belong beneath the Earth, in which contexts they qualify as khthonioi (e.g., W&D 465, Th. 767) or mukhioi(see Rohde I 135n1 for a survey of attestations in cult; cf. also Hesiod Th. 119).

§7n1. Vernant 1966 [= 1960] 20, 24-26.

§7n2. Within this passage (W&D 213-285), the words dikê/hubris occur no fewer than 27/4 times (derivatives included). On the intervening aînos of the hawk and the nightingale (W&D 202-212), see Puelma 1972; also Ch.12§18 below.

§7n3. Whether we read the textual variant hubries or hubrios, the present argument remains unaffected.

§7n4. The inherited meaning of a comparative like dikaioteros is not "X has more dikê [than Y]" but "X has dikê [as compared to Y, who does not]." Similarly, Homeric skaioteros [compared to dexios] is not "X is more left [than Y]" but "X is left [as compared to Y, which is right]"; also, dexiteros [compared to skaios] is not "X is more right [than Y]" but "X is right [as compared to Y, which is left]"; see Benveniste 1948.115-125.

§9n1. We may take special note here of the close association between the Bronze Generation and Ares, on which see Vian 1968.64-66. With regard to Ares as the god who is the essence of bronze, see Muellner 1976.82 on Iliad XX 102.

§9n2. Moreover, the meliê functions as the word for both "ash tree" (e.g., XVI 767) and "ash spear" (e.g., XVI 143). For a thorough discussion of the Homeric evidence, see Shannon 1975, esp. pp. 46-48 for his comments on W&D 143-155.

§9n3. Verses 148-149 are bracketed in Solmsen's edition on the grounds that their phraseology recurs in the Hesiodic description of the Hundred-Handers at Th. 147-153, 649, 670-673. But the textual repetitions are well motivated by the thematic parallelisms. See also Vian 1968.61-63 on the close thematic parallelisms between the Bronze Generation and the general category of earth-born Giants.

§9n4. The Bronze Men are nônumnoi 'nameless' in that their deeds cannot be glorified by poetry; so also the Achaeans would be nônumnoi if they were to be destroyed at Troy without having succeeded in capturing the city (XII 70, XIII 227, XIV 70). This is not to say that the deeds of the Bronze Men are not a fitting subject for poetry--only that the treatment of their deeds in poetry will not win them any glory (cf. §20 below). For the inherited poetic theme that the hero's name depends on being glorified by poetry, see Schmitt 1967.90-93.

§10n1. See especially Vian 1968 (with further bibliography), following Vernant 1966 [= 1960].

§10n2. In this respect, their association with Ares is significant. As Nilsson (I 517-519) points out, by classical times this god has many myths but noticeably few cults. Without cult, the figure of Ares is liable to be an outsider from the standpoint of the polis. Cf. also Vian 1968.55.

§10n3. On whom see Vian, pp. 59-61.

§10n4. See also Ch.7§5n3 on phleguân = hubrizein.

§10n5. Cf. Vernant 1966 [= 1960] 34.

§11n1. Ch.7§6.

§11n2. Ch.3§§5-8, Ch.4§5, Ch.7§22.

§11n3. See also Ch.7§17 and n4 for a correlation of Iliad I 177/V 891, where Achilles/Ares is reproached by Agamemnon/Zeus for being a lover of strife and war--precisely the characteristics of the Bronze Men!

§12n1. Shannon 1975.31. In fact, Hephaistos made not only the armor that Thetis gives to Achilles in Iliad XVIII but also the armor that has to be replaced when Hektor strips Patroklos; this earlier set of arms was inherited by Achilles from his father, who had received it from the gods in honor of his marrying Thetis (see again XVII 194-197, XVIII 82-85; cf. also Cypria fr. 3 Allen).

§12n2. Shannon, p. 93.

§12n3. Compare the picture of Achilles as a boy, armed with nothing but a spear, in Pindar N.3.43-47 as discussed at Ch.20§8.

§13n1. Contrast §9n4.

§15n1. Aside from what I intend to say here, see West 1969 for an interesting discussion of the Achaean Wall and the relation of this theme to the Iliad as a whole.

§15n2. Even the diction that frames the naming of these rivers (XII 19-23) is parallel in style to the Hesiodic catalogue of rivers (Th. 337-345), those of the Troad included (Th. 340-345); cf. West 1966.259-260.

§16n1. Note in particular that the area by the Hellespont is explicitly smoothed over by the flooding rivers (XII 30-32). I suspect that this volunteered detail is consciously offered as a variant of the tradition that tells how the Achaeans had made a funeral mound for the dead Achilles by the Hellespont (xxiv 80-84). There is then an ironic fulfillment of the dire threat made by the river Xanthos/Skamandros to bury Achilles under a mound of silt (XXI 316-323), as if the funeral mound of Achilles were to be in the end simply a natural formation adorning the landscape of the Troad. I draw attention to the irony that the River calls this mound the sêma 'tomb' of Achilles (XXI 322), from which the Achaeans will not even be able to recover the hero's bones (XXI 320-321).

§16n2. This passage marks the only Homeric attestation of not just hêmitheoi but also boagria 'cowhide shields'. (Note too the use of the word genos with hêmitheoi!) Besides W&D 160, the word hêmitheoi occurs also at Hesiod fr. 204.100MW; the context (lines 95-103) is that Zeus plans the Trojan War in order that mortals may die and thus be separated from the immortal gods. Note the word eris'strife' at line 96 and compare the opening of the Cypria as discussed at Ch.7§16.

§16n3. Note the context of the collocation genos andrôn hêmitheôn 'generation of men who were hêmitheoi' at Homeric Hymn 31.18-19 (cf. also Homeric Hymn 32.18-19). On the basis of the diction, I would infer that such compositions as Homeric Hymn 31 (and 32) are not preludes to an epic composition like the Iliad. Cf. Koller 1956, esp. p. 180. In Plato Hippias Maior 285d, stories about the "generations of heroes" (peri tôn genôn ... tôn te hêrôôn kai tôn anthrôpôn) are treated as a genre parallel to stories about colonizations (... kai tôn katoikiseôn, hôs to archaion ektisthêsan hai poleis); see Schmid 1947.xiii. On the local orientation of ktisis ('colonization') poetry and its suitability for the subject of hero cults, see Ch.7§28n3. Note also the context of hêmitheoi at Alcaeus fr. 42.13LP (aimitheôn) and at Simonides fr. 523.3P; "the best of the hêmitheoi" in the first passage is Achilles himself, while the second passage is from a thrênos, on which see further at §§31-32, Ch.10§§1-5. Finally, note the application of hêmitheoi at Bacchylides 9.10 and 13.155 respectively to the Seven against Thebes and the Achaeans who fought Hektor at Troy.

§18n1. We have to speak in terms of traditions rather than compositions. See Wehrli 1972 [= 1957] 65-66n27 for speculations over whether there was more than one extant composition known as the Thebais in the classical period.

§19n1. For the social context of neîkos, see Ch.12.

§19n2. Cf. also V 793-813. As yet another instance of narrated heroic exploits that serve as taunts in the format of neîkos, we will examine in Chapter 15 the duel of Achilles and Aeneas, at Iliad XX. For an interesting parallel in Old Irish narrative, consider the Tale of MacDathó's Pig; a translation is conveniently available in Cross and Slover 1936.199-207.

§20n1. Note that Agamemnon's taunt accuses Diomedes of being worse in deeds but better in words than his father (IV 400). The situation is altogether different, however, when it comes to Athena's taunt at V 793-813: her challenge is both mental and physical. Appropriately, the immediate response of Diomedes is not action but clever words (V 815-824), which in turn are justified by his later heroic action.

§20n2. Even the Catalogue of the Iliad takes into account the destruction of Thebes by the Epigonoi (II 505). The failure of the original Seven to destroy Thebes qualifies them as nônumnoi 'nameless'. The point is not that we do not know their names (we do) but that epic cannot give them a good name, as it were: see §9n4.

§20n3. There is also the clear implication that the host assembled by the Epigonoi against Thebes was superior to the host of Agamemnon at Troy, in that the Epigonoi had fewer men arrayed against a stronger defense, as Sthenelos says (IV 407). The immediate foils here are the Seven against Thebes, but the negative contrast extends to the host assembled by Agamemnon, a king who is traditionally described as having far more men than what the Trojan defense could muster (cf. II 119-130, XIII 737-739, XV 405-407).

§22n1. See further at Ch.10§1.

§22n2. See Pindar scholia, vol. 3, pp. 167-168 Drachmann; see also the scholia (ABT) to Iliad V 126 (Pherecydes FGrH 3.97).

§22n3. For the thematic associations of this act with the ideologies of cult, see Delcourt 1966; cf. also Vian 1963.204 and 1968.65. In W&D 146-147, the Bronze Generation is described as not eating grain (see §9), and the scholia ad loc. interpret this detail as an allusion to cannibalism.

§22n4. As I read W&D 158-168, my understanding is that the heroes of the Theban as well as the Trojan War are eligible. On the problem of line 166, see West 1978.192; as my discussion will show, however, I do not agree with his reasoning ("Epic is constantly telling us that they went to Hades"). See Foreword §19n21.

§22n5. The object of the war, "the sheep of Oedipus" (W&D 163), is a theme that applies not only to Eteokles and Polyneikes but also to their descendants. For sheep as an emblem of kingship, see the interesting, though diffuse, article of Orgogozo 1949. See also Ch.7§16n3.

§23n1. Whether all or only some of the heroes are meant depends on the authenticity of W&D 166 (cf. §22n4).

§23n2. For an instance of a latent prediction, see Ch.10§50.

§24n1. For perhaps the most forceful presentation of this notion, see Rohde I 84-90.

§25n1. Oikhalias Halosis pp. 144-147 Allen.

§25n2. Cf. Neanthes FGrH 84.29, Aristotle fr. 611.10 Rose, and the other sources assembled by Burkert 1972b.76-80, esp. p. 77n15.

§25n3. Burkert 1972b, esp. pp. 82-85.

§25n4. On whom see the scholia to Pindar N.2.1 (Hippostratus FGrH 568.5) and Harpocration s.v. Homêridai (Acusilaus FGrH 2.2, Hellanicus FGrH 4.20). Cf. Dihle 1970.115 and Burkert 1972b.79.

§25n5. See especially Callimachus Epigram 6 Pfeiffer, and Burkert's commentary (1972b.76-77). See also Plato Republic 600b, as well as the truncated accounts in Certamen p. 237.322-323 Allen and Proclus p. 100.11-13 Allen.

§25n6. Burkert 1972b.84.

§25n7. Burkert ibid.

§25n8. Burkert ibid. For the cult of Herakles on Mount Oeta, see Nilsson 1951 [= 1922].

§25n9. For the indebtedness of the dramatist to the Oikhalias Halosis in particular and to non-Homeric Epos in general, see the bibliography assembled by Burkert 1972b.80n27.

§25n10. See also Hesiod fr. 229MW and Th. 950-955.

§25n11. The sequence of events in Hesiod fr. 25.20-33MW (first Hades at 20-25 and then Olympus at 26-33) was confusing to scholars of the Hellenistic period and thereafter; witness the obelizing of lines 26-33 in Pap.Oxy. 2075. And yet consider Odyssey xi 601-627 and the discussion at §26n. Cf. also Roloff 1970.93.

§25n12. Burkert 1972b.83-84.

§25n13. Ibid.

§26n1. Similarly, the Odyssey presents a stop-motion picture of Herakles in Hades (xi 601-627). But the vision is hardly eschatological: Herakles is at that very moment on Olympus with the immortal gods (xi 602-604). What we see in the narrative is truly a "vision" (eidôlon: xi 602), appropriate for other phases in other tellings of the story. See further at Ch.10§48.

§27n1. The island is envisioned well beyond the Hellespont, in the Black Sea (see Alcaeus fr. 354LP and Pindar N.4.49); this orientation can be correlated with the penetration of Hellenic enterprises into that area (especially on the part of Miletos) and with the establishment of cult centers honoring Achilles in actual locales physically suitable for the description of Leukê 'White Rock'. For a survey of the places bearing that name in the Black Sea region, see Rohde II 371-373n2; for the thematic associations of the name Leukê, see Rohde ibid. and Diehl 1953; also Nagy 1973.137-148. For an illuminating article on the Iliadic evidence for the Hellenic penetration of the Black Sea, see Drews 1976, esp. pp. 20-22. See now Nagy 1990.71.

§27n2. See also Plato Symposium 179e, 180b; Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica 4.811-816; Apollodorus Epitome 5.5. For an eloquent discussion of the thematic convergences that link Leuke, the Isles of the Blessed, and Elysium, see Rohde II 365-378, esp. pp. 369-370n2. He calls Leuke the "Sonderelysion" of Achilles (Rohde II 371).

§28n1. For the themes associated with the peirata gaiês 'extremities of Earth', see in general Bergren 1975; for a correlation with the earth-encircling cosmic river Okeanos, see Nagy 1973.148-154.

§28n2. The verb anapsûkhein 'reanimate' (iv 568) implies, I propose, that death had somehow preceded the ultimate state of immortality. See further at Ch.10§28. After all, the prophecy at iv 561-562 says to Menelaos not that he will not die but that he will not die in Argos. In general, the experience of death seems to be a latent element in myths telling of abductions into a state of immortality: see Ch.10§§26-28. In its other attestations, anapsûkhein overtly means not "bring back to life" but simply "bring back to vigor" (see V 795, XIII 84, Hesiod W&D 608); this semantic restriction, however, is due to specialization of contexts. Compare the behavior of psûkhê in epic diction. Both swooning and dying can be conveyed by the theme of losing one's psûkhê, as at V 696 and XVI 856 respectively; in the case of a swoon as at V 696, revival is conveyed by the theme of regaining one's breath: note ampnunthê at V 697 (here it is the wind Boreas that restores the hero's breath: V 697-698). The actual word psûkhê, however, is not even used in contexts of reviving from a swoon--let alone reviving from death. Yet the psûkhê that is lost in the process of swooning is surely the same psûkhê that is regained in the process of reviving from the swoon. For the reading ampnunthê at V 697 and XIV 436 (instead of empnunthê), see Schnaufer 1970.199n540. My interpretation, however, differs from his. Finally, consider the collocation of psûkhai (subject) and psûkhontai (verb) in the gold leaf of Hipponion (Zuntz 1976.133, line 4); note too the mention of psûkhron hudôr (ibid., line 7), flowing from the spring of Mnâmosunâ (ibid., lines 6 and 12). I propose to examine more closely the contexts of these words in another project. (See now Nagy 1990b.90-91.)

§29n1. W&D 169 has been renumbered as 173a and bracketed along with 173b-e in West's edition (1978.194-195). Even if 173b-e are indeed interpolated, it does not follow that the same goes for 169=173a. The instability of this line in the textual tradition may actually be due to a misunderstanding of the Kronos theme, which I interpret to be cyclic.

§30n1. In Celtic and Indic lore, the number 5 following the sequence 1-2-3-4 is a symbol of integration and centrality (see Rees and Rees 1961.118-204). I suspect that this symbolism is cognate with the traditions underlying the Hesiodic Myth of the Five Generations.

§30n2. The theme of being released after death from the cycle of man's existence is directly attested in the Thurian gold leaf A1 (Zuntz 1971.301 line 5), where the persona of the dead man declares:

kuklou d' exeptan barupentheos argaleoio.

I rushed out of the woeful kuklos of heavy penthos [grief].

Whether we translate kuklos abstractly as "circle" or concretely as "wheel," it clearly applies here to the human condition (Zuntz, pp. 320-322). Note that the Pythagorean word for "reincarnation" is anakuklôsis (p. 99.30DK; cf. Zuntz, p. 336). For another instance where kuklos designates the cyclic nature of man's existence, cf. Herodotus 1.207.2: if Cyrus recognizes that he is a mortal rather than an immortal, says Croesus, then he should accept the teaching "that there is a kuklos of human affairs" (ekeino prôton mathe hôs kuklos tôn anthrôpêiôn esti prêgmatôn). On a synchronic level, the immediate sense here is "wheel of fortune," but the ultimate context is still the predicament of mortality. Note that the persona of the dead man in the Thurian gold leaf A1 declares that he has become, after death, part of the olbion genos 'blessed breed' of immortals (Zuntz, p. 301, line 3; cf. also gold leaves A2 and A3) and that he will henceforth be addressed as olbie kai makariste 'holy and blessed' (line 8). Cf. olbioi hêrôes 'blessed heroes' (W&D 172), describing the immortalized fourth genos ('generation, breed') of mankind, who abide en makarôn nêsoisi 'on the Isles of the Blessed [makares]' (W&D 171). For more on the Thurian gold leaves, see Ch.10§20n5.

§31n1. For the inherited connections of the thrênos as a genre with the obsolescent institution of ancestor worship even in the classical period, see Ch.6§28: the cult of heroes in the polis evolved at least partly from the worship of ancestors in the genos 'clan'. Note that Simonides fr. 523P, which tells how the hêmitheoi (line 2) are destined not to have a bios 'lifespan' that is aphthitos'unfailing' (line 3), is an excerpt from a thrênos (Stobaeus 4.34.14). From the standpoint of the comparative method, the themes of the thrênos include elements archaic enough to be of Indo-European pedigree (see Vian 1963.118).

§31n2. The passage is quoted by Plato Meno 81b to illustrate a traditional ideology preserved in social circles that he describes as well-versed in sacral lore. For a correlation of the ideology in this thrênos with the ideology of the Thurian gold leaves, cf. Zuntz 1971.313. I draw special attention to the words poinâ 'compensation' and penthos'grief' in the Pindaric fragment. The function of the latter word as a formal mark of lamentation has already been examined in detail (Ch.6); we have also seen it characterize the kuklos of life in the Thurian gold leaf A1: barupentheos 'of heavy penthos' (see §30n2). As for the former word, it figures prominently in the Thurian gold leaves A2 and A3 (Zuntz, pp. 303 and 305, line 4):

poinan d' antapeteis' ergôn henek' outi dikaiôn

and I paid compensation for unjust deeds [deeds without dikê]

We recall the absence and presence of dikê in Generations II/III and I/IV respectively (see §7).

§31n3. Cf. §4n5. In the Pharsalian gold leaf B1 (Zuntz, p. 359, line 11), the dead man is given the following promise for the afterlife:kai tot' epeit' a[lloisi meth'] hêrôessin anaxei[sand then you will be king along with the other hêrôes

§31n4. See Finley 1955.59: "nominally an epinikion, it [Olympian 2] is in fact a consolatory poem and a meditation on death." See also Bollack 1963 and Sinos 1975.136. Note that the thrênos itself as a genre is not restricted to the actual occasion of a funeral (Proclus Chrestomathy p. 247.16 ff. Westphal); see also Nilsson 1951 [= 1911] 98.

§31n5. The same theme recurs in a genuine thrênos by Pindar, fr. 129.5SM, where the description again concerns the Isles of the Blessed; cf. Sinos 1975.134-138.

§32n1. In the Proclus summary of the Aithiopis, the distinction between the thrênoi of the Muses and the gooi of Thetis and the Nereids is blurred (Thetis, with the Muses, thrênei ton paida 'mourns his son': Proclus p. 106.13-14 Allen). We may infer, however, that the actual narrative of the Aithiopis did maintain this distinction: cf. Odyssey xxiv 58-61 and the comments at Ch.6§§23-24.

§33n1. §12 above.

§33n2. For the limited time that Hektor is to be immune from death (see XVII 198-208), Zeus seals him in the armor of Achilles (XVII 209-212). Hektor had been able to kill Patroklos and despoil the armor of Achilles specifically because Apollo had first stripped away this armor in his attack on Patroklos (XVI 787-804). By the time that Hektor delivers the mortal blow, Patroklos has been denuded of the armor (XVI 815). See Thieme 1968 [= 1952] 120-121. When Hektor in turn wears this armor, he will be immune to everything except the ash spear of Achilles, with which he is mortally wounded (see XXII 319-330). Ironically, the immortal apparatus of Achilles can thus be penetrated only by an emblem of mortality (see further at §12 above).


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