Apollo Makes A Toy Aeneas

Iliad, 5.449-453

αὐτὰρ ὃ εἴδωλον τεῦξ’ ἀργυρότοξος ᾿Απόλλων
αὐτῷ τ’ Αἰνείᾳ ἴκελον καὶ τεύχεσι τοῖον,
ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρ’ εἰδώλῳ Τρῶες καὶ δῖοι ᾿Αχαιοὶ
δῄουν ἀλλήλων ἀμφὶ στήθεσσι βοείας
ἀσπίδας εὐκύκλους λαισήϊά τε πτερόεντα.

“Then silver-bowed Apollo made an eidolon
Which was similar to Aeneas and armed in that way,
And the Trojans and shining Achaeans were struggling
Over the eidolon, striking around their chests
Their oxhide well-rounded shields and their winged light ones*.”

Schol. Ad Il. 5.449-50b

[“but he made an eidolon] On the one hand, the eidolon represents the entire framework of the cosmos which is the model of everything as it truly is when crafted by the generative gods, but beforehand by Helios, who is the lord of all that is born and seen.

The eidolon is nothing less than Aeneas, the son of Aphrodite and Trôos, which was the first native beauty. For all beauty comes from Aphrodite, around which the fundamental material of the soul does not depart when it is pressed.”

[but he made an eidolon]: [he did this] in order that the Trojans might fight more bravely because they want to save the body.”

Here is Edward Butler’s translation from his comment, taking pains to bring sense to it from Platonic traditions:

“The eidôlon on the one hand is taken to be the fabrication of the cosmos, which is the impression of Real Being arranged by all the encosmic Gods, while on the other hand, that which is previously [arranged] by Helios, who is the ruler of all that is generated and visible. Nor is the eidôlon any less Aeneas, being the son of Aphrodite and of Trôs, who is the indigenous beauty; for all beauty is from Aphrodite, about whom the more material of the souls do not cease to clash with one another.”

ex. αὐτὰρ ὁ εἴδωλον<—τοῖον>: εἴδωλον μὲν ἄκουε πᾶν τὸ δημιούργημα τοῦ κόσμου, ὅπερ τύπος ὂν τοῦ ὄντως ὄντος ὑπὸ πάντων μὲν τῶν ἐγκοσμίων θεῶν κοσμεῖται, προηγουμένως δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ ῾Ηλίου, ὅς ἐστιν ἡγεμὼν παντὸς γεννητοῦ τε καὶ ὁρατοῦ. οὐδὲν δὲ ἧττον Αἰνείου ἐστὶ τὸ εἴδωλον, υἱοῦ ᾿Αφροδίτης καὶ Τρωός, ὅ ἐστι τὸ ἐγχώριον κάλλος· πᾶν γὰρ ἐξ ᾿Αφροδίτης κάλλος ἐστι, περὶ ὃ αἱ ὑλικώτεραι τῶν ψυχῶν οὐκ ἀπαλλάσσονται συντριβόμεναι. b(BCE3E4)T

ex. αὐτὰρ ὁ εἴδωλον τεῦξε<—τοῖον>: ἵνα φιλοτιμοτέρως μάχωνται Τρῶες τὸ πτῶμα σῶσαι θέλοντες. b(BCE3E4)T

Strangeness here:  (1) What in the world is going on in the first scholion? I think it is an allegorical reading of the passage, but still.
(2) Is the scholion providing a different father for Aeneas?

 

There was also an eidolon for Helen.

Storage Jar with Aeneas and Anchises  Greek, Athens, about 510 B.C.   Terracotta

3 thoughts on “Apollo Makes A Toy Aeneas

  1. Edward P. Butler

    I think I can help you out with the first scholion, as it appears to be steeped in the language and doctrines of late antique systematic Platonism. Here’s how I would translate it, with some elucidating remarks:

    “The eidôlon on the one hand is taken to be the fabrication of the cosmos, which is the impression of Real Being arranged by all the encosmic Gods, while on the other hand, that which is previously [arranged] by Helios, who is the ruler of all that is generated and visible. Nor is the eidôlon any less Aeneas, being the son of Aphrodite and of Trôs, who is the indigenous beauty; for all beauty is from Aphrodite, about whom the more material of the souls do not cease to clash with one another.”

    This is an example of the esoteric interpretation of the Iliad to which we have many references in the later Platonists. In this reading, the Trojan war symbolizes the conflict between two classes of souls, or we might rather say two sets of psychical faculties, the one set being more intellective—these are symbolized by the Achaeans—the other more hylic or material (hylikôterai here), symbolized by the Trojans. This conflict is over embodied beauty, Helen; that is, the conflict is over whether such beauty “belongs” to the intellective or the material plane. The intellective forces want to repatriate it, so to speak, and reclaim it for mind (noös), whence the material plane has appropriated it to itself via sensation. Hence we have the production of eidôla, most famously of Helen in Stesichorus’ palinode, but here in Homer of Aeneas, by the Gods who are responsible for the world of sensation. (The scholiast reads Helios here as a mode of action of Apollo’s, because the Titan fits better with the encosmic field of play.) These eidôla symbolize all the beautiful objects of sensation that we cognize through our mortal faculties and over which this polemos of the soul is fought.

    Trôs, for the scholiast, represents the beauty indigenous to the material plane; we see a similar play on words in Hermias, to whom we owe one of the longer fragments of this esoteric interpretation of the Iliad: “the Trojans are said to be aboriginals (ithagenês), for the life-styles associated with bodies and the irrational souls all treat matter as belonging to them (oikeios).” Trôs is not literally here being substituted for Anchises as Aeneas’ father, but rather is being spoken of more loosely as his “progenitor”, because his name, insofar as it renders him the paradigmatic Trojan indigene, makes him more appropriate to the interpretative scheme than Anchises, who has direct contact with the Goddess. The terminology, finally, which is used for the friction from which the more materialistically-oriented souls or soul-faculties have no relief, with its suggestion of “grinding together”, evokes the erotic fervor incited by such beautiful apparitions.

    Here, for comparison, is the passage from Hermias about the esoteric Iliad, from Baltzly and Share’s recent translation of his commentary on the Phaedrus (82,16-83,12): “It will be convenient to set out the interpretation of Helen and Ilium and the war between the Greeks and Trojans as well [at this point] … Let us, then, understand Ilium as the generated and enmattered region, having got the name ‘Ilium’ from ‘mud’ (ilus) and ‘matter’ (hylê), in which there is also war and faction. The Trojans [will then be] the enmattered forms and all the life-styles associated with bodies, which is why the Trojans are said to be aboriginals (ithagenês), for the life-styles associated with bodies and the irrational souls all treat matter as belonging to them (oikeios). And the Greeks [will be] the rational souls travelling from Greece, that is to say, from the intelligible [realm], into matter, which is why the Greeks are called ‘latecomers’ (epêlus) and overcome the Trojans as belonging to a superior order. Battle breaks out between them over an apparition (eidôlon) of Helen, as the poet says: ‘Thus it was over an apparition that the Trojans and the noble Greeks hacked the bulls-hide shields covering on another’s breasts’ (Il. 5.451-2), where Helen signifies intelligible beauty, which is a kind of ‘attractor of intellect’ (helenoê) that draws the intellect to it. An emanation of this intelligible beauty then has been granted to matter through the agency of Aphrodite, over which emanation of beauty the Greeks fight as though over a human being. And some, prevailing over matter and successfully rising free of it, depart to the intelligible [realm], their true homeland, while others are held fast in it, which is the life of the many. Accordingly, just as the prophet in the Republic foretells to the souls how they may be led upwards and the thousand and ten thousand year cycles of souls, so too among the Greeks does Chalchas foretell [their] return after ten years, the number ten bearing the mark of a perfect period. And, just as during lives some souls are elevated through philosophy, some through the art of love, others through their kingly or martial [character], so too with the Greeks do some succeed through practical wisdom (phronêsis) and others through their martial or erotic [character], and the journey home is [correspondingly] different [for each of] them.”

    The scholion has so much in common with this passage from Hermias, which is thought to originate in lectures given by Syrianus, and other bits of this interpretation which we encounter in Syrianus’ student Proclus, that it would seem to draw upon some lost text emerging from this school.

    1. sententiaeantiquae

      Thank you for this. it is fascinating, worthy of a post on its own.

      I often find myself just floored by home much of what appears in the scholia is obscure to us because it is excerpted from or influenced by works with a very different doctrinal focus. This one definitely seems like it needs the context you have given.

      I have primarily looked at scholia in conjunction with allegorists; but now it seems I need to bone up on my neo-platonists more!

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