A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 9

2016.08.26 / updated 2018.09.08 | By Gregory Nagy

The Master Narrator now approaches what can surely be seen as the highest point so far in the narrative arc of the Homeric Iliad. Achilles has not spoken since Rhapsody 1. Now, in Rhapsody 9, he will speak again. And what he says will define what can and cannot happen in the rest of the Iliad.

The embassy to Achilles with Phoenix and Odysseus in front of Achilles. Attic red-figure hydra, circa 480 BCE. Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons.
The embassy to Achilles, featuring Phoenix and Odysseus in front of Achilles. Attic red-figure hydra, circa 480 BCE. Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons.


The Master Narrator now approaches what can surely be seen as the highest point so far in the narrative arc of the Homeric Iliad. Achilles has not spoken since Rhapsody 1. Now, in Rhapsody 9, he will speak again. And what he says will define what can and cannot happen in the rest of the Iliad. [[GN 2016.08.26.]]


I.09.001–003/ anchor comment on: a Rhapsody as one of 24 units of performance
subject heading(s): rhapsodic sequencing

The beginning of Rhapsody 9 picks up where Rhapsody 8 ended. There is a brief reference at I.09.001 to the ending of Rhapsody 8. Then, in the rest of the verse at I.09.001 and continuing into I.09.002–003 there is a transition into the narrative as it now resumes. A fitting term for this sort of transition is rhapsodic sequencing. Here as elsewhere, the transition of the narrative from one rhapsody to the next shows that each one of the 24 rhapsodies of the Iliad—and each one of the 24 rhapsodies of the Odyssey—is a distinct unit of performance. In the classical period of Athens, as we see in Plato’s Ion, professional performers of Homeric rhapsodies were known as rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’. The term rhapsōidiā, translated in this comment as ‘rhapsody’, originates from the traditions of rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’ who performed poetry in competitive relay with other rhapsodes. Accordingly, the rhapsōidiai ‘rhapsodies’ of Homeric poetry can be seen as units of relay performance. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PasP 180–188.]]


subject heading(s): morphology of hetairē ‘companion’

The name Phúza, which is a personification of phúza ‘running away out of fear’ is described here at I.09.02 as the hetaírē ‘companion’ of Phóbos, which is a personification of phóbos ‘turning and running out of fear’. The immediate context is that the Trojans are now winning while the Achaeans are losing, I.09.1–2. The verse-final feminine form hetaírē, a morphologically leveled replacement of the older feminine form hétairă, likewise meaning ‘companion’, occurs only here in the Iliad. In this case, the morphological leveling can be explained as a replacement of the alternation *-́i̯ă-/-i̯ā́– by way of non-alternating *-i̯ā́-. In the Odyssey as well, feminine hetaírē occurs only once, O.17.271. Elsewhere in the Homeric tradition, feminine hetaírē occurs only in Homeric Hymn to Hermes 31 and 478. In all three of these other occurrences as well, hetaírē is verse-final. The application of hetaírē to Phúza here at I.09.02 is comparable to the application of the vocalically rhyming form krataiḗ to Moîra, personification of moîra in the sense of ‘fate, destiny’. This form krataiḗ, which is likewise verse-final, is found nine times in the Iliad but not once in the Odyssey. For the occurrences, see the comment on I.05.083. As in the case of hetaírē, this feminine form krataiḗ can be explained as a morphologically leveled replacement of an older feminine form, to be reconstructed as *krataíu̯i-ă and meaning ‘whose power [*u̯i-] has the upper-hand [krátos]’. In this case as well, the morphological leveling involves a replacement of the alternation *-́i̯ă-/-i̯ā́– by way of non-alternating *-i̯ā́-. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 351–352.]]


subject heading(s): penthos ‘grief’; akhos ‘grief’

As the Achaeans are being routed by the Trojans, I.09.1–2, they are afflicted with penthos ‘grief’. Whenever the Achaeans are losing and the Trojans are winning, they suffer penthos or, to say it by way of this noun’s synonym, akhos. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 351–352; also BA 94, 333, 337, 339; HTL 132.]]


subject heading(s): simile of a storm at sea; Boreas the North Wind; Zephyros the West Wind; Hellespont; phrix ‘shuddering’; Phrixos; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’

The penthos ‘grief’ felt by the losing Achaeans is now compared, by way of a simile, to a seastorm brought by the North Wind and the West Wind personified respectively as Boreas and Zephyros, I.09.005: these winds come suddenly and violently from the direction of Thrace, blowing across the narrow strait of the Hellespont. See the comment on I.07.063–064. As the narrative of the Iliad advances, such a violent seastorm will become a fitting synonym also for the danger facing the Achaeans as their fortunes in war start giving way to the overwhelming momentum of the Trojan offensive led by Hector. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 333, 337, 339.]]


subject heading(s): ikhthuoeis ‘fish-swarming’ as an epithet of pontos ‘crossing (of the sea)’

As an epithet describing the noun pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’, the adjective ikhthuoeis ‘fish-swarming’ signals danger. At O.14.135 and O.24.291, for example, the fear is expressed that Odysseus in his travels at sea could have died by falling overboard, and then the ikhthues ‘fish’ in the pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’ would have devoured him. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 340.]]


subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’; penthos ‘grief’

After the intervening simile, at I.09.004–008, of the storm at sea, the penthos ‘grief’ felt by the Achaeans at I.09.003 is described further: this grief, it is said at I.09.008, is felt by them inside their collective ‘heart’, as expressed by thūmos. But then, at I.09.009, the penthos ‘grief’ of I.09.003 is now reconfigured as the akhos ‘grief’ felt by the leader of the Achaeans, Agamemnon, in his individuated ‘heart’, as expressed this time by ētor, which is a partial synonym of thūmos. In this ring-composition, the penthos ‘grief’ of verse 3 comes full circle with the synonym akhos ‘grief’ of verse 9, but the circle has in the meantime rotated the perspective from a collective to an individuated ‘heart’. [[GN 2016.08.25.]]


subject heading(s): Nestor’s entanglement; evocation; epic Cycle

Here at I.09.057–058, Nestor makes a remark to Diomedes about that hero’s relatively young age. You could be, Nestor tells Diomedes, the youngest of my sons. Elsewhere, at O.03.412–415, six of Nestor’s sons are mentioned, including Peisistratos, who figures prominently in the Odyssey, and Thrasymedes, who has a major role in the fighting at Troy in the Iliad. Missing from this list in the Odyssey, because he had been killed in action at Troy, is Antilokhos. There is a passing reference to the death of Antilokhos at O.04.186–188. When Nestor makes his remark at I.09.057–058 about the youngest of his sons, the referent here must be Antilokhos, since that hero’s relatively young age is noted elsewhere as well in the Iliad. For example, in a battle scene where the Achaeans are urging each other to fight hard, Menelaos singles out Antilokhos as he urges him on, telling him there is no Achaean there who is younger. And the relatively young age of Diomedes is likewise noted in the Iliad. In another battle scene, at I.14.109–114, while addressing his fellow warriors, Diomedes boasts that ‘I am the youngest among you’ (νεώτατός εἰμι μεθ’ ὑμῖν), I.14.112. So, it may be that Diomedes is even younger than Antilokhos, but that is not the point. Rather, the point is that Antilokhos and Diomedes are comparably young. Nestor himself highlights the youth of Antilokhos when he addresses him on a later occasion, I.23.306. In view of all these other Homeric references, Nestor’s remark at I.09.057–058 about Diomedes as comparable in age to Antilokhos can be seen as an evocation of an epic moment that is awaiting Nestor in the future. At that future moment, Antilokhos, his own young son, will try to save the old hero when Nestor gets entangled in his chariot and is about to be attacked and killed by the chariot fighter Memnon. Antilokhos will succeed in saving Nestor, but it is the young son and not the old father who will now get killed by Memnon. This epic moment, which is in the future for the Iliad, is evidently narrated in a part of the epic Cycle, the Aithiopis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, as we read in the plot-summary of Proclus p. 106 lines 4–6 (ed. Allen 1912). On the epic Cycle, see the Inventory of terms and names. There is also a reference to this same epic moment in a song of Pindar, Pythian 6.28–42. These non-Iliadic passages have already been cited in the anchor comment on the relevant Iliadic passage, Ι.08.076–117. In that passage, which is already in the epic past from the standpoint of the current Iliadic passage taken from I.09.057–058, Diomedes was acting as a stand-in for Antilokhos, performing in the epic past a task that mirrors the task that will be undertaken by Antilokhos in the epic future. That task was to save Nestor from his entanglement in his chariot. Diomedes saved the life of Nestor, and Nestor knows it when he now compares young Diomedes to his own young son, I.09.057–058. As for Antilokhos, he too will save the life of Nestor, but, unlike Diomedes, he will lose his own life in performing this same task in the future, which is, to save Nestor from another entanglement. And of course Nestor does not yet know it. So, there is an irony in the remark made by the old hero here in comparing young Diomedes to young Antilokhos, though of course the character of Nestor did not intend such an irony. The intentionality, rather, is to be found in the poetics of evocation. [[GN 2016.08 via PH 208.]]


subject heading(s): fire of Hector; Battle for the Ships

Nestor makes a remark about the watchfires of the Trojans: these fires, he says, are too close for comfort—too close, that is, to the beached ships of the Achaeans. We see here a premonition of the Battle for the Ships and of the fire of Hector, which will threaten to burn down the ships and thus destroy the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 335.]]


subject heading(s): skēptron ‘scepter’

By virtue of holding the skēptron ‘scepter’, I.09.099, Agamemnon is the holder of royal authority when he speaks, and this authority emanates from Zeus. By implication, Agamemnon would not have the authority to speak if he did not hold the scepter. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PH 258 and GMP 53.]]


subject heading(s): noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’

This verb noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’, corresponding to the noun nóos ‘mind’, is used in contexts where the subject of the verb is taking the initiative in doing whatever is being done. Here at I.09.104–105 it is the hero Nestor who boasts of possessing a special aptitude for ‘taking note, noticing, having things in mind’, noeîn. At I.09.104–105, Nestor literally ‘has in mind’ a ‘mindfulness’, nóos, that is superior to the thinking of all other heroes. [[GN 2016.08.25 and GN 2016.09.14 via BA 51.]]


subject heading(s): atē ‘aberration’

Agamemnon here at I.09.115 admits that it was atē for him to dishonor Achilles. In such a context, the noun atē can be translated as an ‘aberration’. The noun is used here in the plural, atai, indicating specific instances of aberration, not just an overall error. After all, in his quarrel with Achilles, Agamemnon insulted the prime hero of the Iliad in multiple ways. Agamemnon goes on to say that he is ready to pay apoina ‘compensation’, I.09.120, for his aberrations. For Achilles to reject this compensation has its own risks, as we see in the comment on I.09.502–512: here too, there is a danger of atē ‘aberration’, Ι.09.512. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PH 254.]]


subject heading(s): offer of Agamemnon to Achilles; claim of Agamemnon to superiority over Achilles

Agamemnon here formulates the terms of the compensation that he offers to Achilles. The last four verses of his formulation, I.09.158–161, bluntly reassert his claim to be superior to Achilles. When Odysseus restates to Achilles the terms of Agamemnon, Ι.09.260–299, he omits what Agamemnon claims about his superiority to Achilles. It can be argued that Achilles, if he had accepted the terms of Agamemnon as reasserted by Agamemnon himself, would have put at risk his own epic stature in the Iliad. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51.]]


I.09.128–131/ I.09.270–272
Q&T via HPC 241
subject heading(s): epic deeds of Achilles before the time dramatized in the Iliad; seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; Achilles the Aeolian

Among the prizes that Agamemnon at I.09.128–131 offers as compensation to Achilles are seven captive Aeolian women who were captured by Achilles when he conquered the Aeolian island of Lesbos. The story about these women as it is told here is then retold at I.09.270–272. The significance of the Aeolian identification of these women will be analyzed in the anchor comment that follows. The focus in the present comment, by contrast, is on the moral problems that are raised in the story about the actual capture of these women—and of other women in the Iliad who suffer the same fate of captivity. Two prominent examples are Briseis and Chryseis, captured by Achilles when he conquered the cities of Lyrnessos and Thēbē respectively, as noted in the anchor comment at I.02.689–694. All these women—the seven unnamed ones and the two named ones—evidently became the common property of the Achaeans after being captured by Achilles, and it appears that Agamemnon as the Achaean over-king originally had a say, ostensibly by way of public deliberation with the rest of the Achaeans, in deciding which woman was allotted as a war-prize to which Achaean man. Even though all these women were captured by Achilles alone, they were thereafter to be distributed as war-prizes among the Achaean men as a group. In terms of this reconstruction of the story as outlined here, the role of Agamemnon in having a say about the awarding of these captive women as war-prizes is morally problematic. Likewise problematic is this over-king’s role in the original awarding of the captive woman Briseis, with the approval of the Achaeans, as a war-prize to Achilles—and in the parallel awarding of the captive woman Chryseis to himself. Moreover, the seizing of Briseis by Agamemnon after his loss of Chryseis is even more problematic. Here, then, is the overriding question to be asked about the treatment of all these women as war-prizes: is Agamemnon entitled to have a say in deciding which Achaean man will have sex with which woman? And the question can be broadened: are the Achaeans as a group entitled to make such decisions? Such a broader question extends also to Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.26.]]

I.09.128–131 / 270–272/ anchor comment on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 2
subject heading(s): conquest of Lesbos by Achilles the Aeolian; seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; conquest of Lyrnessos and Thēbē by Achilles the Aeolian; Briseis the Aeolian; Chryseis the Aeolian; Andromache the Aeolian; charter myth; aetiology; “colonization”; “Aeolian Migration”; Lesbos, Tenedos, and the facing mainland of Asia Minor; songmaking of Sappho/Alcaeus; Aeolian poetics; Achilles the Aeolian
see also anchor comment at I.02.689–694 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 1
see also anchor comment at I.11.624–627 on: Aeolian women in the Iliad, part 3

The story that is being told here at I.09.128–131 and retold at I.09.270–272 centers on one single stunning event: Achilles captured the entire island of Lesbos. By implication, this island became Aeolian precisely because it was captured by the principal hero of the Aeolians. The vastness of this story is even broader in scope, since we can see in the Iliad occasional references to other such conquests accomplished by Achilles. Most prominent are the Iliadic references to his capturing of two cities located on the Aeolian mainland of Asia Minor: they are Lyrnessos and Thēbē. In the Iliad, the conquest of Lyrnessos by Achilles and his capturing of Briseis are mentioned for the first time at I.02.690–691. What then follows at I.02.691 is a mention of his conquering the walled city of Thēbē as well. Thēbē is mentioned already at I.01.366: it was there that Achilles captured another woman, Chryseis, when he conquered that city, I.01.366–369. For background on Briseis and on Chryseis, I again strongly recommend the work of Dué 2002 and 2006, listed in the Bibliography. Another native of Thēbē was Andromache, who had been married off to Hector at Troy before the beginning of the Trojan War: she was taken captive only later, after Troy was captured, and she was then allotted as a war-prize to the son of Achilles, Neoptolemos: the story was told in an epic that was part of the epic Cycle and was known as the Iliou Persis ‘Destruction of Ilion’, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, plot summary by Proclus p. 108 line 9 (ed. Allen 1912). That said, I now elaborate further on the argument initiated in the anchor comment at I.02.689–694: the conquests of these territories by Achilles, especially his capture of Lesbos, can be interpreted as a charter myth that aetiologizes a prehistoric or even non-historical “colonization” of east Aeolis, as it were, by west Aeolian migrants from Thessaly, situated in the European mainland, which was the reputed birthplace of Achilles. See Nagy 2011b:171–173. In using the term “east Aeolis” here, I am referring to the islands of Lesbos and Tenedos, together with the facing mainland of northern Asia Minor. The “colonization” of this area has conventionally been described as the “Aeolian Migration,” and the term ‘migration’ here matches neatly the appropriate Greek word, apoikiā as used in Strabo 9.2.3 C401 and elsewhere (see Nagy 2011b:161). The reference at I.09.129 to the captive women from Lesbos can be correlated with the poetic traditions of Lesbos as later attested in the songs of Sappho and Alcaeus, both dated around 600 BCE. These poetic traditions, which are decidedly Aeolian, derive not only from the island of Lesbos but also from the island of Tenedos and from the mainland of northern Asia Minor facing these two islands. See HPC 184–185. Traces of these Aeolian poetic traditions can be seen in the Iliadic references to such figures as Briseis, Chryseis, Andromache, and the seven unnamed captive women from Lesbos. All these figures derive from Aeolian poetic traditions, and the same can be said about the figure of Achilles himself: in terms of his poetic heritage, he is Achilles the Aeolian. See Nagy 2011b:171–172. But there is an important difference to be highlighted here: Achilles is an Aeolian from European Thessaly, while the captive women are Aeolians from Asia Minor and from the offshore islands of Lesbos and Tenedos (on the captive woman Hekamede from Tenedos, see the anchor comment at I.11.624–627). In the Ionian poetic traditions of epic as exemplified by Homeric poetry, we can track the early influence of corresponding Aeolian poetic traditions as exemplified at a later period, around 600 BCE, by the songmaking of Sappho and Alcaeus. [[GN 2016.08.25 via HPC 149, 241; see also BA 140–141.]]


subject heading(s): seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; beauty contest in Lesbos; sacred space of Hērā in Lesbos; songmaking of Sappho/Alcaeus; pattern-weaving

The description of the women from Lesbos as victorious over other women in their beauty can be interpreted as a reference to a local tradition at Lesbos known as the Kallisteia, which was a kind of ritualized beauty contest for girls and for women. The scholia D for the Iliad give details, with specific reference to I.09.130: this beauty contest was a seasonally recurring event that took place in a federal space that was shared by five cities on the island of Lesbos, and this space was sacred to the goddess Hērā. See Nagy 2015 §§135–159. There are occasional references to this space in what remains of the songs of Sappho and Alcaeus (again, Nagy 2015). Also, as we see at I.09.128, the beauty of the women of Lesbos is matched by the beauty of their handiwork, which externalizes their aristocratic charisma. Such handiwork, as we will see in another comment, comes to life in the skillfulness displayed by women in practicing their art of pattern-weaving: a prime example is Andromache the Aeolian, described at Ι.22.440–441 in the act of pattern-weaving. There and elsewhere, the craft of pattern-weaving by Aeolian women is linked with the power of the craft of Homeric poetry to make contact with the Bronze Age. See MoM 2§§§69–81. [[GN 2016.08.25 via HPC 237, 242, 245, 302.]]


subject heading(s): claim of Agamemnon to superiority over Achilles

Here is where Agamemnon reasserts his claim to be superior to Achilles. See the comment on the whole passage, I.09.120–161. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 52.]]


Q&T via BA 50
subject heading(s): sequence of speakers for the embassy to Achilles; visual cues reinforcing verbal cues

Here is where Nestor formulates the sequence of speakers for the embassy to Achilles: Phoenix must lead, I.09.168, followed by Ajax and then by Odysseus, I.09.169. At I.09.167, Nestor reinforces his verbal formulation by specially glancing at each one of the three ambassadors. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 50.]]


subject heading(s): visual cues reinforcing verbal cues
Q&Τ via BA 51

Nestor signals to the three ambassadors, glancing at them with coded looks, especially at Odysseus. Once again, the special glances of Nestor, I.09.180, reinforce his verbal formulation. See the comment on I.09.167–170. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51.]]


subject heading(s): problematic duals of Rhapsody 9; dual vs. plural; plural vs. dual; ellipsis

As the three ambassadors and the two heralds proceed toward the shelter of Achilles, a series of dual forms is activated in the narrative, starting already with the very first verse and continuing from there: 182, 183, 185, 192, 196, 197, 198. The intervening plurals as at 186 are negligible, since plurals can normally substitute for duals in Homeric diction. But duals cannot substitute for plurals. So, the problem is, who are the referents in these contexts where the dual form is used? One way to approach the problem is to follow through on the formulation of Nestor, who had said that Phoenix must lead the embassy, I.09.168, followed by Ajax and then by Odysseus, I.09.169. See the comment on I.09.167–170. But then, when the group reaches the shelter of Achilles, it is said explicitly that Odysseus now takes the lead, I.09.192. Further, when Ajax signals to Phoenix at I.09.223, it is Odysseus who picks up the signal instead, as indicated by the verb noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’ (see further the comment on I.09.223), and now it will be Odysseus and not Phoenix who delivers the first of the three speeches. At I.09.224, Odysseus fills a goblet with wine and toasts Achilles—a gesture that may have seemed more appropriate for Achilles to perform as the host, not for Odysseus as the guest. For Odysseus to violate the etiquette is not to violate the traditions of myth, however, in that it is traditional for the figure of Odysseus to violate rules of etiquette. At O.08.475–476, to cite another example, Odysseus seems to be behaving like a host in a situation where he is really the guest. For more on this point, see HQ 142. In any case, right after pouring the wine and toasting Achilles, Odysseus starts at I.09.225 to deliver the first of the three speeches addressed by the three ambassadors to Achilles. Only after this speech of Odysseus, I.09.225–306, and after the reply of Achilles to that speech, I.09.308–429, will Phoenix get a chance to give his own speech, I.09.434–605—even though Nestor had intended for Phoenix to be the first speaker. So, returning to I.09.192, where Odysseus already takes the lead away from Phoenix, we can view this point in the narrative as the marker of a transition: before this point, the dual forms could refer to Ajax and Odysseus, as led by Phoenix, but then, after this point, the dual forms could refer to Phoenix and Ajax, as led by Odysseus. Alternatively the dual forms in these verses could have an elliptic function, where a singular X is paired with a group Y. This way, the dual still refers to a pair, even though the second part of the pair is a group. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 42–58, HQ 138–145.]]


subject heading(s): klea andrōn ‘the glories [klea] of men’; name of Patroklos; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); rhapsodic sequencing; sorrows of Andromache; lament

As the three ambassadors and the two heralds enter the shelter of Achilles, they find the hero singing klea andrōn ‘the glories [klea] of men’ while his companion Patroklos is listening to the song, waiting to continue it where Achilles will leave off. We see here a dramatization of relay singing, which is a model for the poetic world of rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’ who perform Homeric poetry in sequence. But the relay from one performance to the next is a sequencing that does not have to happen only at one particular time. The sequencing can be seen as happening over time. Relevant here is the meaning of the name of Patroklos, which is a “speaking name” (nomen loquens), Patrokléēs ‘he who has the glories [klé(e)a] of the ancestors [patéres]’. Here the etymology of the name is adjusted by way of interpreting the component kléos ‘glory’ in the plural sense of the word, not only in the singular sense that was noted in the comment on I.01.345. In terms of this meaning, the kléos ‘glory’ of song is passed on, from one generation to the next, as the living heritage of the patéres ‘ancestors’. As for the original singing of Achilles himself in his shelter, it mirrors the singing of the god Apollo, who performs his songs while accompanying himself on the lyre. In the case of the lyre played by Achilles as he sings, it had once belonged to Eëtion, father of Andromache. As we have seen in the anchor comment at I.06.407–439, Andromache in the Iliad sings laments in expressing her sorrows. Such singing is relevant to songs sung about and perhaps also by Achilles himself. In the case of songs sung about Achilles, we know for a fact that these songs touched on that hero’s direct involvement in the sorrowful fate of Andromache herself. On that involvement, see the comment on I.17.194–214. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PasP 71–73, HTL 143, HPC 239; also PH 201–202.]]


Q&T via BA 52
subject heading(s): ascending scale of affection; philos (plural philoi) ‘near and dear’; philtatos ‘nearest and dearest’; ekhthros ‘hateful, hostile’

Achilles greets the ambassadors in the dual, I.09.197–198, and not in the plural. And he refers to them first as philoi ‘near and dear’, I.09.197, and then as the philtatoi ‘most near and dear’ among the Achaeans, I.09.198; again at I.09.204, he refers to them as philtatoi ‘most near and dear’. But are the ambassadors really at the very top of this hero’s ascending scale of affection? The dual construction of the verb in the syntax of I.09.197 might indicate that one of the three ambassadors is being left out of the hero’s reference to his nearest and dearest friends among all the Achaeans. The ambassador who might be left out is Odysseus. At I.09.312–313, Achilles says to Odysseus: whoever says one thing but means another thing is as ekhthros ‘hateful’ to me as the Gates of Hādēs, I.09.313. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 52–57, 106.]]


subject heading(s): noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’; neuein ‘nod’

Here again the verb noeîn ‘take note (of), notice’ applies to the actions of Odysseus, who is specially linked with the meaning of this verb. [[GN 2016.09.14.]]


subject heading(s): speech of Odysseus to Achilles

Here is the speech of Odysseus to Achilles. It is the first of the three speeches to be delivered by the three ambassadors, and it is now being delivered out of sequence, in contradiction of the plan formulated by Nestor, who had wanted Phoenix to deliver the first speech: see the comment on I.09.182–198. See also BA 51. The speech of Odysseus starts abruptly at I.09.225, since the Master Narrator does not use formal wording to introduce the speech: instead, at I.09.224, Odysseus simply fills a cup with wine and, gesturing at Achilles, he just starts speaking directly to him, toasting him at I.09.225. [[GN 2016.08.25 -> 2016.12.31.]]


Q&T via BA 133
subject heading(s): dais ‘feast, division of portions (of meat), sacrifice’; daiesthai ‘feast, divide (meat), apportion, distribute’; Strife Scene

In these first four verses of the speech spoken by Odysseus to Achilles, there is an evocative reference to the dais as a ‘feast’ where portions of meat are being divided in an equitable way, I.09.225. The wording seems to evoke an epic scene where Odysseus and Achilles attended a dais ‘feast’ and quarreled. Such an epic scene is narrated at O.08.072–083. [[GN 2016.09.25 via BA 133.]]


subject heading(s): pēma ‘pain’

The wording of this verse, I.11.347, like the wording of the four previous verses, seems to evoke an epic scene as narrated at O.08.072–083. The future pēma ‘pain’ that is feared by the Achaeans here at I.09.229 is comparable to the future pēma ‘pain’ of the Trojan War as described at O.08.081. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 57.]]


subject heading(s): sēma ‘sign, signal’

The thunder and lightning of Zeus are interpreted here as a sēma ‘sign, signal’ of the Will of Zeus. [[GN 2016.08.25 via GMP 204.]]


subject heading(s): fire of Hector

The fear of the Achaeans is that Hector’s fire will reach their ships beached at the Hellespont, and such a disaster would surely destroy them. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 335.]]


Q&T via BA 80
subject heading(s): akhos ‘grief’; akos ‘remedy’; a man of constant sorrow

As Odysseus warns, I.09.249, Achilles will suffer akhos ‘grief’ in some unforeseeable way if he does not help the Achaeans right now. And there will be no akos ‘remedy’ for the pain of this grief, I.09.250. The warning will come true, since the future death of Patroklos will turn Achilles into a man of constant sorrow. See especially the comment on I.18.015–073; also the comment on I.23.046–047. Of special interest here at I.09.249–250 is the morphological parallelism of akhos ‘grief’ at I.09.249 with akos ‘remedy’ at I.09.250. Another morphological parallel for akos ‘remedy’ is the synonym althos ‘remedy’. Whereas akos and althos are synonyms, they are both antonyms of akhos, and the morphological parallelism of all three words serves to highlight the semantic contrast of akhos on one side with akos and althos on the other side. The morphological parallelism extends to names derived from the antonyms althos and akhos, since althos ‘remedy’ is to Althaiā as akhos ‘grief’ is to Akhaiā (see BA 88). [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 80.]]


subject heading(s): kholos ‘anger’

The wording of Odysseus refers here to the kholos ‘anger’ of Achilles. But this word is only a partial synonym of mēnis ‘anger’, which is a more specialized word that suits more accurately the relevant emotion of Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 104.]]


subject heading(s): offer of Agamemnon to Achilles

Embedded here within the speech of Odysseus is his restatement of Agamemnon’s terms for compensating Achilles. For a significant omission, see the comment on I.09.120–161. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51.]]


subject heading(s): conquest of Lesbos by Achilles; seven captive Aeolian women from Lesbos; conquest of Lyrnessos and Thēbē by Achilles the Aeolian; Briseis the Aeolian; Chryseis the Aeolian; Andromache the Aeolian; charter myth; aetiology; “colonization”; “Aeolian Migration”; Lesbos, Tenedos, and the facing mainland of Asia Minor; songmaking of Sappho/Alcaeus; Aeolian poetics; Achilles the Aeolian

In the speech of Odysseus, he reports here at I.09.270–272 what Agamemnon said at I.09.128-131, but now the action of Achilles is narrated in the second person. [[GN 2016.08.25.]]


subject heading(s): speech of Achilles in response to Odysseus

Whereas the Master Narrator did not use formal wording to introduce the speech of Odysseus at I.09.225–306, he does use formal wording both to introduce at I.09.307 the speech of Achilles and then to conclude it at I.430. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]


subject heading(s): offer of Agamemnon rejected by Achilles

In these four verses, Achilles begins his own speech in response to the speech of Odysseus, and he rejects straightaway Agamemnon’s offer for compensation. The tone is hostile toward Odysseus, not only toward Agamemnon. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 52.]]


Q&T via BA 52–53
subject heading(s): ekhthros ‘hateful, hostile’

Achilles expresses here his hostility toward Odysseus: someone who says one thing and means another thing is as ekhthros ‘hateful’ to Achilles as the Gates of Hādēs. If in fact Odysseus has misrepresented the offer of Agamemnon by leaving out the part of the offer that would have compromised the epic status of Achilles, then Odysseus is ekhthros ‘hateful’ and thus not philos ‘near and dear’ to Achilles. And that is why it can be argued that the earlier wording of Achilles in greeting the ambassadors is designed to exclude Odysseus from the company of those who are near and dear. See the comment on I.09.193–198. There is, then, a traditional enmity between these two heroes. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 52–53, 58.]]


subject heading(s): offer of Agamemnon rejected by Achilles

The response of Achilles to the speech of Odysseus continues. The passion intensifies even further. [[GN 2016.08.15 via BA 52.]]


subject heading(s): Achilles conquers 11 cities on foot and 12 cities by way of ships

I suggest that the story embedded here about 11 cities that Achilles conquers on foot, I.09.329–333, may be an indirect reference to the 12 cities of the Aeolian Dodecapolis minus Smyrna, which was lost to the Ionians. For details about these 12 cities, see the Inventory of terms and names under Aeolian Dodecapolis. By contrast, Achilles conquers 12 other cities not on foot but sun nēusi (σὺν νηυσί) ‘by way of ships’, I.09.328. Similarly at I.06.640–642, Hēraklēs had earlier conquered Troy itself hex oiēis sun nēusi (ἓξ οἴῃς σὺν νηυσί) ‘by way of merely six ships’, I.06.641. The analogous deed of Hēraklēs here leads me to think that Achilles too was conquering the 12 cities in the vicinity of Troy, whereas the other 11 cities would have been situated further south on the mainland of Asia Minor, that is, in the territory of the ancient Aeolian Dodecapolis. Herodotus 1.149.1 lists the cities of the Aeolian Dodecapolis, and one of them happens to be Killa. I think that this Killa is the same place that is mentioned twice in the Iliad, I.01.038 and I.01.452, in the context of Aeolian places that are specially sacred to Apollo. The two other places mentioned both times in those passages at I.01.038–039 and at I.01.451–452 are Chrysa and Tenedos. It has been argued that the Homeric Killa cannot be the same place as the Killa mentioned by Herodotus (Leaf 1923:310), but such arguments are based on the assumption that Homeric Killa was near Lyrnessos and Thēbē, two other places said to be conquered by Achilles. Herodotus 1.151.1 notes that the Aeolian cities on the mainland of northern Asia Minor in the region of Mount Ida—that is, in the general area of ancient Troy—were grouped separately from the Aeolian Dodecapolis, but he does not list those cities by name. The reason, I suspect, is that any federation of cities situated in this area would have been already severely disrupted by the Athenian empire in the fifth century BCE, that is, in the era of Herodotus, and, earlier, by the domination of this area by the Aeolian city of Mytilene in the seventh and the sixth centuries BCE. In that era, this city on the island of Lesbos was a major rival of Athens in seeking to possess the sacred real estate, so to speak, of ancient Troy and its environs. See Point 7 in the anchor comment that follows immediately below. [[GN 2016.10.08.]]

I.09.328–333/ anchor comment on: efforts of Aeolians to possess ancient Troy and its environs in the historical period

There are ten points in this anchor comment, epitomized mostly from HPC 131–146:

Point 1. Our point of departure is New Ilion, which in the historical period was an Aeolian city built over the ruins of the old Troy of the Trojan War as narrated in the epic that we know as the Homeric Iliad. Archaeologists have verified that Hisarlık, which is the Turkish name for the site of New Ilion, was in fact the same place as the site of old Troy, which was also known in the ancient world as Ilion. [HPC 131]

Point 2. After a major destruction of the citadel at old Troy sometime around the beginning of the 12th century BCE, which marks the end of a phase that archaeologists recognize as Troy VIIa, the importance of the site was radically diminished, and things stayed that way through the phase known as Troy VIIb, lasting into the 10th century BCE. After Troy VIIb comes Troy VIII, which marks a “Greek era” extending all the way to the so-called “Roman era” that is Troy IX. In the earliest phase of Troy VIII, from the 10th to the mid-7th century BCE, a small population was occupying the area of the citadel, and, on the western side of the citadel wall, they left behind some archaeological remains of a “place of memory” that must have commemorated in some way the epic traditions of the Trojan War (Aslan and Rose 2013:11). At a later phase of Troy VIII, in the mid-7th century BCE, there was a destruction, to be followed in the late 7th century by a reoccupation. From this time onward, in the latest phase of Troy VIII, we see the beginnings of the historical period. Now the old Troy is on its way to becoming the new Troy, that is, New Ilion. [HPC 131.]

Point 3. As in modern times, the old Troy of New Ilion was sought out in antiquity, most prominently by rulers striving to link themselves with the heroes who fought in the Trojan War of the epic past. In 480 BCE, as we read in Herodotus 7.43.2, Xerxes the king of the Persian Empire traveled to New Ilion and made sacrifice there to the goddess Athena, and his magi made libations to the hērōes ‘heroes’ who were entombed in the environs. Over a century later, Alexander the Great likewise sacrificed to Athena in New Ilion (Strabo 13.1.26 C593; Arrian Anabasis 1.11.7). [HPC 131–132.]

Point 4. I highlight the term used by Herodotus here at 7.43.2 in referring to the goddess Athena as worshipped in her sacred space at New Ilion: she is hē Ilias, meaning something like ‘she who is in Ilion’. But the name can also be interpreted to mean ‘she who is in the Iliad’, in the sense that Ilias as an ‘Iliad’ means simply ‘the song about Ilion’. [HPC 126.]

Point 5. Elsewhere, at 5.122.2, Herodotus uses the same expression hē Ilias in referring to the territory of Ilion as inhabited by Aeolians. The context is this: a Persian general was redeploying his forces at the time of the Ionian Revolt, ongoing in the first decade of the 5th century BCE, and he was moving his troops westward in the direction of the Hellespont (ἐπὶ τὸν Ἑλλήσποντον). Then, along the way to the Hellespont, ‘he captured all the Aeolians who inhabit the territory of Ilion [hē Ilias]’ (καὶ εἷλε μὲν Αἰολέας πάντας ὅσοι τὴν Ἰλιάδα νέμονται). This detail from Herodotus concerning hē Ilias as ‘the territory of Ilion’ is a most valuable piece of evidence showing that New Ilion was at this time inhabited by Aioleîs ‘Aeolians’. I should add that there is a plethora of further evidence showing the Aeolian identity of New Ilion in the era of Troy VIII. [HPC 142–146.]

Point 6. But now we must confront a big complication. This New Ilion was not the only ‘new Ilion’. As early as the late seventh century BCE, a rival ‘new Ilion’ emerged, and its occupants claimed that their site replaced the real Troy of olden days. This alternative New Ilion was located not far from the old Troy, but it was a different site. The inherited name of the site was Sigeion, and it was situated on a promontory at Kum Kale, overlooking the entrance to the narrows of the Hellespont. Archaeologists have securely identified the site at Cape Yenişehir as Sigeion. [HPC 143; see the map at HPC 158.]

Point 7. Like the New Ilion that was built over the old Troy, the site of Sigeion used to be occupied by Aeolians. Also, for some time in the seventh century BCE, Sigeion had been dominated by one particular sub-group of Aeolians, namely, the elites of Mytilene, which was then the most powerful city in Lesbos, an Aeolian island situated due west across the sea from the Aeolian mainland of northern Asia Minor. As we read in Strabo 13.1.38 C599, the Mytilenaeans under the leadership of one Archeanax built the walls of the citadel of Sigeion from the stones of the ruined walls of the ancient citadel of Troy. Strabo thinks that this important piece of information validates arguments made in the second century BCE by the antiquarian Demetrius of Scepsis, who denied any continuity between the old Ilion and the city of New Ilion as it existed in his own day, claiming that there was no trace left of the old Ilion- and that the site of this old city was not New Ilion but rather a village located some 30 stadium-lengths to the southeast, in the territory of Scepsis. In terms of the theory posited by Demetrius, all the stones of the old Ilion had been used up in the process of building the walls of other cities like Sigeion. But we have already seen at Point 2 that the stones of the old Ilion were in fact still very much in evidence throughout the phase known as Troy VIII, and so the theory of Demetrius is invalidated. See also the comment on I.07.433–465 on the myth about the building of the Trojan Wall by Poseidon and Apollo for Laomedon, who had been king of Troy before Priam, I.07.452–453. Still, the information reported by Demetrius and transmitted by Strabo about the re-using of stones from old Troy for the building of new Troys retains its full value. A shining example of another such new Troy was the Aeolian city of Neon Teikhos ‘New Wall’, which belonged to a confederation of twelve Aeolian cities situated on the mainland of Asia Minor and commonly known as the Aeolian Dodecapolis (Herodotus 1.149.1 lists them all). [HPC 145–146. About Neon Teikhos, see also HPC 180.]

Point 8. Unlike New Ilion, which remained an Aeolian site, the city of Sigeion underwent a drastic change in identity, and this happened already in the late seventh century BCE. Somewhere around that time, control of Sigeion was seized by the Ionian city of Athens and taken away from the Aeolian city of Mytilene-in-Lesbos, which had dominated Sigeion earlier, as we saw at Point 7. I cannot go into details here about this drastic change, but I will at least highlight the fact that Sigeion is pictured as already belonging to Athens in the poetry of Alcaeus, who can be dated to the late seventh century BCE. Herodotus notes that Alcaeus himself says in his own poetry that his armor was captured from him by the Athenians in a battle against the Mytilenaeans, and that it was displayed by the enemy at the Athḗnaion ‘sacred space of Athena’ in Sigeion. Here is the way Herodotus says it at 5.95.1: ‘the Athenians have his [= Alcaeus’] armor and they have hung it up for display at the space of Athena [Athḗnaion] in Sigeion’ (τὰ δέ οἱ ὅπλα ἴσχουσι Ἀθηναῖοι καί σφεα ἀνεκρέμασαν πρὸς τὸ Ἀθήναιον τὸ ἐν Σιγείῳ). Strabo quotes the words of Alcaeus telling about the captured armor, and these words actually give the name of Athena’s sacred space as Glaukṓpion (Alcaeus F 401B via Strabo 13.1.37 C600). This same name Glaukṓpion, derived from the sacred epithet of Athena glaukôpis ‘having the looks of the owl’, is attested in Athens as well. There it applies to the sacred space of Athena Nike at the southwest corner of the acropolis (Callimachus F 238.11), and this space, like the Glaukṓpion in Sigeion, can be dated at around 600 BCE. On the protracted war between the Athenians and the Mytilenaeans over the possession of Sigeion, I cite the primary sources here: Herodotus (5.94–95), Strabo (13.1.38–39 C599–600), and Diogenes Laertius (1.74); a most admirable secondary source is Aloni 1986. [HPC 142–146.]

Point 9. Just as Athena had a sacred space in the new Ilion of Sigeion, so also she had her own sacred space in the New Ilion built on top of the old Troy, where as we have already read in Herodotus 7.43.2 the goddess was worshipped as hē Ilias, meaning not only ‘she who is in Ilion’ but also ‘she who is in the Iliad’. As noted at Point 4, such an ‘Iliad’ was not the Homeric Iliad that we have but instead ‘the song about Ilion’ as it was known then—and as it was known even earlier when the occupants of Troy VIII were already venerating a “place of memory” commemorating the epic traditions of the Trojan War, as we saw at Point 2. [HPC 131.]

Point 10. There may be some uncertainties about positively identifying an earlier version of ‘Iliadic’ Athena—hē Ilias—as the goddess who presided over the “place of memory” in the early phases of Troy VIII, but we can be quite certain about the actual linking of the old Troy with epic traditions about an old Troy. And here again the same expression hē Ilias applies: at Point 5, we already saw that Herodotus 5.122.2 says hē Ilias in referring to the territory of Ilion as inhabited by Aioleîs ‘Aeolians’. But now we will see that Herodotus also uses the same expression hē Ilias in a context where he refers to a territory belonging not only to Ilion but also to the Iliadic tradition of poetry. The context is this: Herodotus is describing a scene where representatives of the cities of Mytilene and Athens, which have evidently already fought in many wars over the possession of Sigeion, are submitting their dispute to inter-state arbitration, and now the Aeolians of Mytilene are demanding that the Athenians give back to them the territory of Sigeion and its environs (Herodotus 5.94.2): ‘You see, the Mytilenaeans and the Athenians had been waging war with each other for the longest time. One side [= the Mytilenaeans] operated out of the city [polis] of Akhílleion and the other side [= the Athenians], out of Sigeion. They [= the Mytilenaeans] were demanding the return of the territory [khōrā], but the Athenians rejected the demand, trying to demonstrate by way of what they said that the Aeolians were no more entitled to the Iliadic territory [hē Ilias khōrā] than were they [= the Athenians] and all the other Hellenes who had joined forces in avenging Menelaos for the abduction of Helen’ (ἐπολέμεον γὰρ ἔκ τε Ἀχιλληίου πόλιος ὁρμώμενοι καὶ Σιγείου ἐπὶ χρόνον συχνὸν Μυτιληναῖοί τε καὶ Ἀθηναῖοι, οἱ μὲν ἀπαιτέοντες τὴν χώρην, Ἀθηναῖοι δὲ οὔτε συγγινωσκόμενοι ἀποδεικνύντες τε λόγῳ οὐδὲν μᾶλλον Αἰολεῦσι μετεὸν τῆς Ἰλιάδος χώρης ἢ οὐ καὶ σφίσι καὶ τοῖσι ἄλλοισι, ὅσοι Ἑλλήνων συνεπρήξαντο Μενέλεῳ τὰς Ἑλένης ἁρπαγάς). As the wording of Herodotus indicates, the Aeolian city of Mytilene in Lesbos claimed to be representing all Aeolic-speaking Hellenes in claiming possession of the Iliadic territory of Sigeion in the Troad. By contrast, the city of Athens claimed to be representing all Hellenes who took part in the Trojan War. From the standpoint of both sides, then, the disputed territory is poetic as well as political. [HPC 145.]
[[GN 2016.10.08.]]


Q&T via BA 107–108
subject heading(s): Achilles as lover

By now the feelings of Achilles about the captive woman Briseis whom he had won and then lost as a war-prize have deepened and intensified. He says that he now loves her as if she were his wife. And he asks ironically: are Agamemnon and Menelaos the only Achaeans entitled to love their wives? And do they even love them? Whether or not they do, is the wife of Menelaos, Helen, really worth fighting for and even dying for? [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 107–108.]]


Q&T via BA 46–48
subject heading(s): fire of Hector; [biē ‘force, violence, strength’; mētis ‘mind, intelligence’;] phrazesthai ‘devise a plan’

Achilles in his speech here returns to something that Odysseus had said at I.09.241–243: how the Achaeans are afraid that Hector’s fire will reach their ships beached at the Hellespont, and that such a disaster would surely destroy them. Achilles now gives a biting response at I.09.347: let Agamemnon find a way to ward off the fire of Hector without the help of Achilles. The verb used here for the idea of finding a way, phrazesthai ‘devise a plan’, is correlated with the noun mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ in Homeric diction, as we see in the wording of Achilles at a later point, I.09.423. Since Odysseus is the primary exponent of mētis ‘mind, intelligence’ in Homeric poetry, Achilles is in effect saying to him at I.09.347: let Agamemnon rely on your mētis, Odysseus, since he cannot any longer rely on my biē ‘force, violence, strength’. Achilles is the primary exponent of biē ‘force, violence, strength’ in Homeric poetry, just as Odysseus is the primary exponent of mētis ‘mind, intelligence’. According to the scholia A for I.09.347, Aristarchus apparently thought that the passage we are now considering, I.09.346–352, was an allusion to another passage, O.08.072–083, which is about a quarrel that once took place between Achilles and Odysseus over one overriding question: will Troy be conquered by relying on the physical power of Achilles or on the mental power of Odysseus? [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 46–48; also BA 24, 335.]]


subject heading(s): Hellespont

As we will see in later comments, especially starting with the comment on I.19.373–380, Achilles has a special relationship with the Hellespont. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 343.]]


subject heading(s): Hellespont; ikhthuoeis ‘fish-swarming’ as an epithet of the Hellespont; ikhthuoeis ‘fish-swarming’ as an epithet of pontos ‘crossing [of the sea]’

At I.07.063–064, we saw that a young hero named Phríxos escaped the dangers of the póntos ‘[sea-] crossing’ that is the Hellespont, as we read in Pindar Pythian 4.160–161: Pindar’s wording goes on to say that Phríxos was ‘saved’, saōthē, because he was carried to safety by the ram with the golden fleece. But the young heroine Héllē, who was the sister of Phrixos, did not escape the dangers: she fell off the ram and drowned in the stormy waters of the Hellespont, as we read in Apollodorus 1.9.1. That is why the Hellespont is named after her: Hellḗs-pontos means ‘the [sea-] crossing of Hellē’. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 340.]]


subject heading(s): Apollo at Delphi

In the Iliad and Odyssey, Apollo at Delphi is mentioned only here at Ι.09.404–405 and at O.08.079–081. [[GN 2017.05.18.]]


subject heading(s): kḗr ‘cut, slice, portion, fated death’; kleos ‘glory’; nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’

From the standpoint of its etymology, derived as it is from the verb keirein ‘cut, slice’, the noun kḗr in the sense of a ‘cut’ or a ‘slice’ or a ‘portion’ need not convey the negative idea of a ‘fated death’. When a hero chooses between two alternative kêres or ‘fates’, one of the two alternatives may be death but the other may be life. Thus when Achilles here speaks of two alternative kêres or ‘fates’ that may await him, namely, either the kleos or ‘glory’ that he will get if he dies young in the Trojan War or the nostos or ‘homecoming’ that will be his if he abandons that war, I.09.413, the second alternative is not really a ‘fated death’ for Achilles as is the first alternative. Instead, a nostos ‘homecoming’ would give him life. But this life would be limited. It would last only until the hero’s age runs out of time, just as the age of a plant will surely run out of time. Conversely, the kleos ‘glory’ that the hero would get from dying young in the Trojan War would have an unlimited life of its own, because this kleos is conferred by poetry, and this poetry is held to be imperishable. [[GN 2016.08.25.]]


subject heading(s): kleos ‘glory, fame’; aphthito– ‘imperishable, unwilting’; Phthiē (homeland of Achilles); kḗr ‘cut, slice, portion, fated death’; nostos ‘homecoming, song of homecoming’

The kleos ‘glory’ of the song that glorifies Achilles will be aphthiton ‘imperishable, unwilting’, I.09.413. The analysis here will focus first on the general sense of ‘imperishable’ and then on the specific sense of ‘unwilting’. The Greek combination of the adjective áphthiton ‘imperishable’ with the noun kléos ‘glory, fame’ here at I.09.413 is parallel to the Indic combination of the adjective ákṣita– ‘imperishable’ with the noun śrávas ‘glory, fame’ at Rig-Veda 1.9.7 (full argumentation in GMP 123–126). From the standpoint of the formulaic system inherited by Homeric diction, the function of the adjective áphthiton in combination with the noun kléos ‘glory, fame’ in the expression kleos aphthiton estai (κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται) at I.09.413 can be not only predicative, ‘the glory will be imperishable’, but also attributive, ‘there will be a glory that is imperishable’. (For formula and formulaic system and Homeric diction, see the Inventory of terms and names.)   An attributive syntax is indicated by the shorter expression kleos estai (κλέος ἔσται)as at I.07.458, meaning ‘there will be a glory’. There is also the comparative evidence of the attributive syntax that we see at work in the cognate wording of Sappho Song 44.4, … kleos aphthiton (… κλέος ἄφθιτον) ‘imperishable glory’ (line-final), and of Ibycus S151.47, … kleos aphthiton hexeis (… κλέος ἄφθιτον ἑξεῖς) ‘you will have imperishable glory’ (line-final). On the other hand, the expression kleos aphthiton estai (κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται) at I.09.413 seems to be coefficient with the expression kleos oupot’ oleitai (κλέος οὔποτ’ ὀλεῖται) as at I.02.325, ‘the glory will never perish’. See the comment on I.02.325. The syntax of kleos oupot’ oleitai ‘the glory will never perish’, if we compare it to the syntax of kleos aphthiton estai at I.09.413, may point to a predicative use of the adjective aphthiton: ‘the glory will be imperishable’. It has been suggested that the expression kleos oupot’ oleitai (κλέος οὔποτ’ ὀλεῖται) ‘the glory will never perish’ could have been used instead of kleos aphthiton estai (κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται) even at I.09.413 if it were not for the fact that the word ōleto (ὤλετο) ‘perished’ (the subject is nostos ‘[safe] homecoming’) is already used at the beginning of the same verse. It does not follow, however, that the wording kleos aphthiton estai (κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται) instead of kleos oupot’ oleitai (κλέος οὔποτ’ ὀλεῖται) at I.09.413 must be some kind of a reactive innovation: on the contrary, this wording can be an archaism that survives precisely for the stylistic purpose of avoiding an awkward duplication of wording in the same verse. As a general approach to poetics, I suggest that allowance should regularly be made for the possibility that older forms can be activated in situations where a more innovative equivalent form might create a poetically awkward side-effect (GMP 122–123). That said, my focus of analysis now shifts from the general sense of the adjective aphthito– as ‘imperishable’ to its specific sense as ‘unwilting’. This sense has already been noted in the comments on I.01.155, I.02.046, I.02.325. Unlike a plant that runs out of time, the kleos of poetic ‘glory’ is like an imperishable flower that will never wilt, never lose its vibrant color and aroma. Accordingly, the kleos aphthiton of Achilles will be like an unwilting flower. And the way for a hero to be adorned with such an unwilting flower is to experience a fated death. That is why the alternative of death in a choice between kēres ‘fates’ is the desired choice for the hero to make. And that is why the meaning of kḗr defaults to ‘a fated death’ as desired by heroes in the epic world of heroes. See again the overall comment on I.09.410–416. For Achilles, the kleos aphthiton ‘unwilting glory’ that he chooses is really an alternative form of life, while the nostos ‘homecoming’ that he ultimately rejects is an alternative form of death, since the name of his homeland is Phthiē, a “speaking name” (nomen loquens) that means literally ‘the land of wilting’. See the comment on I.01.155. See also HPC 168n67 on the ritualized idea of wearing garlands that are ‘unwilting’ in a Thessalian ritual that honors Achilles. By contrast with the hero Achilles, however, who chooses kleos or poetic ‘glory’ instead of a nostos ‘homecoming’, the hero Odysseus does not need to make a choice. In fact, as we will see in a future comment, Odysseus cannot even make such a choice, since he needs a nostos ‘homecoming’ to achieve his own kleos or poetic ‘glory’, which will be ‘a song of homecoming’. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 135; also BA 29, 35, 39, 95, 102, 111, 119, 175–176, 184–185; PH 147, 227, 244–245; GMP 122–126, 136, 138.]]


subject heading(s): plural vs. dual; dual vs. plural

The syntax for referring to the pair of Ajax and Odysseus here is constructed in the plural. To be contrasted are the earlier constructions in the dual, I.09.182–198, where the referents might be the pair of Phoenix and Ajax—or a pairing of Phoenix with the whole group that he leads. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 55.]]


subject heading(s): speech of Phoenix to Achilles

Here, finally, is the speech of Phoenix, postponed because Odysseus took the initiative of speaking first. Whereas the Master Narrator did not use formal wording to introduce the speech of Odysseus at I.09.225–306, he does use formal wording to introduce at I.09.432–433 the speech of Phoenix. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51.]]


subject heading(s): fire of Hector

Phoenix speaks here about the need for Achilles to prevent the fire of Hector from setting the beached ships of the Achaeans on fire. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 335.]]


subject heading(s): atē ‘aberration’

The words of Phoenix warn against the dangers of atē ‘aberration’, I.09.512. The Litai, goddesses of supplication personified, I.09.502, afflict with atē a man who does wrong by showing cruelty to suppliants and rejecting their supplications, I.09.510–512. The warning here is intended for Achilles. But why is it that Achilles should heed the Litai? An answer emerges at I.09.507, where the Litai are said to heal the damage caused by the atē ‘aberration’ that is committed by wrongdoers when these wrongdoers offer compensation for such atē. As we saw in the comment on I.09.115–120, Agamemnon admits his atē ‘aberration, for which he stands ready to offer apoina ‘compensation’, I.09.120. In rejecting the Litai, one is rejecting the process whereby compensation can be awarded for damage suffered—and the word for ‘damage’ is Atē personified at I.09.504 and I.09.505. Further, the punishment for such refusal is another round of atē ‘aberration’—this time suffered by the one who rejects the Litai, I.09.510–512. For Achilles, such an atē would be the death of his other self, Patroklos, who personally experiences atē at the moment of his death, I.16.805, in the form of an aberration of the senses. See the comments on I.16.685–687 and on I.16.804–806. At I.19.268–275, Achilles seems to recognize that both he and Agamemnon have in the end been afflicted with atē. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PH 242, 254.]]


subject heading(s): ascending scale of affection; philos (plural philoi) ‘near and dear’; philtatos ‘nearest and dearest’

Phoenix refers to the three ambassadors, including himself, as philtatoi, the ‘nearest and dearest’ to Achilles. But the relationship of Achilles to the three has its problems, as analyzed in the comment for I.09.193–198. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 57.]]


Q&T of I.09.524–525 via BA 103–104
subject heading(s): the story of Meleagros and Kleopatra; houtō(s) ‘this is how’; [ainos ‘coded words; fable’;] klea andrōn | hērōōn ‘the glories [klea] of men who were heroes’; name of Patroklos; name of Kleopatra; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); ascending scale of affection; philos ‘near and dear’; hetairos ‘companion’

The story told by Phoenix about Meleagros and Kleopatra is introduced at the very beginning, I.09.524, by the expression houtō ‘this is how’, which conventionally introduces a discourse containing a moral message, such as a fable. The Greek word for such discourse is ainos, the meaning of which is impossible to translate by way of any single English word. For want of a better alternative, I define ainos pragmatically as ‘coded words’- a ‘coded message’. In the case of the story told by Phoenix, it is intended to carry a moral message for Achilles. The story is described, already at I.09.524, as klea andrōn | hērōōn ‘the glories [klea] of men who were heroes’. By convention, such an expression refers to song, especially to the medium of epic. We saw at I.09.185–191 a truncated version of this expression, klea andrōn, ‘the glories [klea] of men’, I.09.189, and the performer in that context was Achilles himself, singing his song while accompanying himself on the lyre. The male hero in the story of Phoenix, Meleagros, is like Achilles. He too is angry at his community, and he too has withdrawn from fighting in a war, leaving his own people in desperate trouble. Those who are near and dear to him now approach Meleagros, imploring him to return to the fight and making their appeals to him as suppliants. The narrative arranges the order of the suppliants in terms of the hero’s ascending scale of affection. Those who are starting off on the lower levels of this scale will be mentioned earlier, while those who end up on the higher levels will be mentioned later. So, the highest someone on this scale will be mentioned last. Near the top of the scale are the hetairoi ‘companions’ of Meleagros, I.09.585, who are described at I.09.586 as philtatoi ‘nearest and dearest’ to him. So also Phoenix thinks that he and his fellow ambassadors, as companions of Achilles, should be placed at the very top of his ascending scale of affection. But the highest person on the ascending scale of affection for Meleagros turns out to be his wife, named Kleopatra, I.09.556. Her name fits the moral message of the story, since Kleopátrā means ‘she who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors’. Thus Kleopatra is the very embodiment of the story described as klea andrōn | hērōōn ‘the glories [klea] of men who were heroes’, since heroes are figured as stylized ancestors of the community. But the question is, what meaning will this story have for Achilles? For this hero, the top of his own ascending scale of affection will turn out to be Patroklos, whose full name, Patrokléēs, has the same meaning as the name of Kleopátrā, but the two elements of the name, kleos ‘glory’ and pateres ‘ancestors’ are in reverse. Each of the two names is a “speaking name” (nomen loquens), and both names mean ‘he/she who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors’. Further, as noted in the comment for I.09.185–191, the etymology of the name Patrokléēs can be adjusted by way of interpreting the component kléos ‘glory’ in the plural sense of the word, not only in the singular sense: ‘he who has the glories [klé(e)a] of the ancestors [patéres]’. And the same can be said for Kleopátrā: ‘she who has the glories [klé(e)a] of the ancestors [patéres]’. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 103–106, 111, 238; PH 196–197, 205.]]


subject heading(s): second name of Kleopatra; “speaking name” (nomen loquens); lament

Here at I.09.561–564, it is revealed that Kleopatra had a second “speaking name” (nomen loquens), and that this name had to do with the singing of laments. Her second name was Alkuónē, I.09.562, which was given to her as a reminder of sorrows suffered by her mother, who is said to have lamented just as a songbird laments, I.09.562–564. The lamenting songbird here is the halkúōn ‘halcyon’, described as polupenthēs ‘having much grief’, I.09.563. See also the comments on I.22.483 and on Ι.24.708, analyzing further contexts where penthos ‘grief’ is connected with singing songs of ritual lament. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PasP 51.]]


subject heading(s): lament by Kleopatra; ascending scale of affection

For Meleagros, what elevates Kleopatra to the top of his own ascending scale of affection is her lament at I.09.590–594 expressing her grim premonition about a destroyed city. Suddenly, Meleagros comes to his senses and sees for the very first time that the doomed city as pictured in the lament of Kleopatra will be his very own city if he does not take immediate action. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PasP 51.]]


subject heading(s): fire of Hector

Once again, the fire of Hector looms as a threat to the salvation of the Achaeans. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 335.]]


subject heading(s): speech of Achilles in response to Phoenix

The speech of Achilles in response to Phoenix is remarkably brief in comparison to his speech in response to Odysseus. If Phoenix had spoken first, the response of Achilles would have been different. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]


subject heading(s): plural vs. dual

Once again, the pairing of Ajax and Odysseus is a plural instead of a dual construction. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 55.]]


subject heading(s): speech of Ajax, but not to Achilles

This speech is not even addressed to Achilles: Ajax speaks to Odysseus, telling him that it is not even worth trying to speak to Achilles. It is a form of ignoring a person, comparable perhaps to the partial ignoring of Odysseus by way of dual constructions. See the comment on I.09.193–198. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51.]]


subject heading(s): ascending scale of affection

Ajax here is accusing Achilles of ranking Briseis ahead of his own companions by failing to be swayed when they assure him that they are near and dear to him. There will be more about this speech in a future comment, with analysis of parallelisms between this passage and a passage dealing with a litigation scene as depicted on the Shield of Achilles. [[GN 2016.08.25 via PH 253.]]


subject heading(s): ascending scale of affection

As Ajax declares, the three ambassadors desire to be philtatoi ‘most near and dear’ to Achilles. So, they desire to be at the very top of this hero’s ascending scale of affection. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 106.]]


subject heading(s): speech of Achilles in response to Ajax

The response of Achiles to Ajax is stark, as we see in common on I.09.650–653. [[GN 2016.12.31.]]


subject heading(s): fire of Hector

This time, Achilles himself declares that he will not concern himself with the Trojan War until Hector’s fire reaches the Achaean ships beached on the Hellespont. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 335.]]


subject heading(s): plural vs. dual

Phoenix stays behind in the shelter of Achilles while the rest of the delegation make their way back to the headquarters of Agamemnon. Odysseus is the leader of the remaining group, I.09.657, and this group is designated in the plural, not in the dual. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 51, 55.]]


subject heading(s): Aeolian women in the Iliad

In this passage, two more women whom Achilles had captured are named: (1) Diomede, daughter of Phorbas, from Lesbos and (2) Iphis from Skyros. [[GN 2016.08.25 via BA 140.]]


subject heading(s): fire of Hector

Now Agamemnon is asking Odysseus whether Achilles is willing to ward off the fire of Hector from the beached ships of the Achaeans. The obsession with this fire has lost none of its intensity. [[GN 2016.08.25.]]


Bibliographical Abbreviations

BA       = Best of the Achaeans, Nagy 1979/1999.

GMP    = Greek Mythology and Poetics, Nagy 1990b.

H24H   = The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours, Nagy 2013

HC       = Homer the Classic, Nagy 2009|2008

HPC     = Homer the Preclassic, Nagy 2010|2009

HQ       = Homeric Questions, Nagy 1996b

HR       = Homeric Responses, Nagy 2003

MoM   = Masterpieces of Metonymy, Nagy 2016|2015

PasP    = Poetry as Performance, Nagy 1996a

PH      = Pindar’s Homer, Nagy 1990a.



See the dynamic Bibliography for AHCIP.


Inventory of terms and names

See the dynamic Inventory of terms and names for AHCIP.