Odyssey and Iliad: Compensation for the Beloved Dead

After the slaughter of the suitors, Odysseus warns his son that they should be wary of their families seeking recompense.

Odyssey 23.118–122:

“For whoever has killed only one man in his country,
one who does not leave many behind to avenge him, flees,
leaving his relatives and his paternal land.
And we have killed the bulwark of the city,
the best by far of the young men in Ithaca.
I order you to think about these things.”

καὶ γάρ τίς θ’ ἕνα φῶτα κατακτείνας ἐνὶ δήμῳ,
ᾧ μὴ πολλοὶ ἔωσιν ἀοσσητῆρες ὀπίσσω,
φεύγει πηούς τε προλιπὼν καὶ πατρίδα γαῖαν·
ἡμεῖς δ’ ἕρμα πόληος ἀπέκταμεν, οἳ μέγ’ ἄριστοι
κούρων εἰν ᾿Ιθάκῃ· τὰ δέ σε φράζεσθαι ἄνωγα.

This passage makes me think of Ajax’s words to Achilles in book 9 where he seems to imply that payment may be rendered in the situation of a murder.

Image result for Ajax Achilles' body

Il. 9.632-638:

“You are relentless: someone might even accept payment
for the murder of a brother or the death of his own child.
and after making great restitution, the killer remains in his country,
and though bereft, the other restrains his heart and mighty anger
once he has accepted the price. But the gods put an untouchable
and wicked rage in your heart over only a girl…”

νηλής· καὶ μέν τίς τε κασιγνήτοιο φονῆος
ποινὴν ἢ οὗ παιδὸς ἐδέξατο τεθνηῶτος·
καί ῥ’ ὃ μὲν ἐν δήμῳ μένει αὐτοῦ πόλλ’ ἀποτίσας,
τοῦ δέ τ’ ἐρητύεται κραδίη καὶ θυμὸς ἀγήνωρ
ποινὴν δεξαμένῳ· σοὶ δ’ ἄληκτόν τε κακόν τε
θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι θεοὶ θέσαν εἵνεκα κούρης
οἴης….

The scholia to the Iliad contend that Ajax is referring to an actual practice.

Schol. bT ad Il. 9.632-33a

“For it was the custom to give [recompense] to the relatives in order to go into exile for not more than a year…

ἔθος γὰρ ἦν τοῖς συγγενέσι διδόναι πρὸς τὸ μὴ πλέον τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ φεύγειν

One might wonder why Odysseus does not think it fit to offer recompense to the suitors’ families…

The Sacrifice of the Lokrian Maidens: Four Sources

Aelian, fr. 47 on the Locrian Women (cf. Apd. E. 6.20-22 below)

De virginibus Locrensibus ob stupratam Cassandram Troiam missis.

“Apollo told the Locrians that the horror would not stop for them unless they sent two maidens to Troy every year as recompense to Athena for Kasandra, “until you have fully propitiated the goddess.”

And the maidens who were sent would grow old in Troy unless replacements came.

[Meanwhile] the women were giving birth to cripples and monsters. Those who had suffered forgetfulness of the outrages done sent [representatives] to Delphi. Then the oracle did not receive them, because the god was angry with them. When they managed to learn the cause of the anger, the oracle prophesied. And it told them what was required concerning the virgins.

And they, since they could not deny the command, submitted the issue for judgment to Antigonus, concerning which Locrian city should send the payment. And the king decreed that the very thing which was entrusted to him for judgment would be decided by vote.”

ὁ ᾿Απόλλων φησὶ πρὸς Λοκροὺς μὴ ἂν αὐτοῖς τὸ δεινὸν λωφῆσαι, εἰ μὴ πέμποιεν ἀνὰ πᾶν ἔτος δύο παρθένους ἐς τὴν ῎Ιλιον τῇ ᾿Αθηνᾷ, Κασάνδρας ποινήν, ‘ἕως ἂν ἱλεώσητε τὴν θεόν.’
καὶ αἵ γε πεμφθεῖσαι κατεγήρασαν ἐν τῇ Τροίᾳ, τῶν διαδόχων μὴ ἀφικνουμένων.
αἱ δὲ γυναῖκες ἔτικτον ἔμπηρα καὶ τέρατα· οἳ δὲ τῶν τετολμημένων σφίσι λήθην καταχέαντες ἧκον ἐς Δελφούς.οὔκ ουν ἐδέχετο αὐτοὺς τὸ μαντεῖον, τοῦ θεοῦ μηνίοντος αὐτοῖς. καὶ λιπαρούντων μαθεῖν τὴν αἰτίαν τοῦ κότου, ὀψέ ποτε χρῆσαι.
καὶ τὸ ἐλλειφθὲν κατὰ τὰς παρθένους προφέρει αὐτοῖς.
οἳ δὲ (οὐδὲ γὰρ ἔσχον ἀνήνασθαι τὸ πρόσταγμα) ἐπ’ ᾿Αντιγόνῳ τίθενται τὴν κρίσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ τίνα χρὴ Λοκρικὴν πόλιν πέμπειν δασμόν.
ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς ᾿Αντίγονος, ἐφεθέν οἱ δικάσαι προσέταξε κλήρῳ διακριθῆναι.

Plutarch, De Sera Numinis Vindicta 557c-d

“And, truly, it has not been so long since the Lokrians stopped sending their virgins to Troy, “the girls who like the lowest slaves, with naked feet / sweep Athena’s temple around the altar / and come to great old age without a veil”—for the crime of Ajax!”

καὶ μὴν οὐ πολὺς χρόνος ἀφ’ οὗ Λοκροὶ πέμποντες εἰς Τροίαν πέπαυν-
ται τὰς παρθένους,

‘αἳ καὶ ἀναμπέχονοι γυμνοῖς ποσὶν ἠύτε δοῦλαι
ἠοῖαι σαίρεσκον ᾿Αθηναίης περὶ βωμόν,
νόσφι κρηδέμνοιο, καὶ εἰ βαθὺ γῆρας ἱκάνοι,’

διὰ τὴν Αἴαντος ἀκολασίαν.

Timaios, FrGrH 555 F146b (=Schol. to Lyk. 1141)

“After Ajax of Lokros was shipwrecked near Guraia and buried in Tremont, in the land of Delos, the Locrians who were saved, barely, returned home. A plague and famine gripped Lokris for tree years because of Ajax’s lawless act against Kasandra. The god prophesied that they needed to propitiate the goddess Athena in Troy each year by sending two virgins by lot and vote. The Trojans who went out to meet the women who were sent, if they caught them, they would kill them, and they would burn their bones with wild, unfruited wood from the Traronian mountain near Troy and then through the ash into the sea. And the Lokrians would have to send other women. If any of them fled, once they returned secretly into Athena’s temple, they would sweep and clean it and they would not approach the goddess or exit the shrine unless if was night. They were shaven, wearing a single tunic, and barefoot.

The first of the Lokrian maidens were Periboia and Kleopatra. First they sent virgins, then the Locrians sent year-old infants with their nurses. When one thousand years had past, after the Phocian War, they stopped that type of sacrifice. This is according to the Sicilian, Timaios. The Cyrenian Kallimakhos also mentions this story.”

TZETZ. LYKOPHR. Al. 1141: Αἴαντος τοῦ Λοκροῦ περὶ τὰς Γυραίας ναυαγήσαντος καὶ ταφέντος ἐν Τρέμοντι χώραι τῆς Δήλου, οἱ Λοκροὶ μόλις σωθέντες ἦλθον εἰς τὴν οἰκείαν. φθορὰ δὲ καὶ λοιμὸς μετὰ τρίτον ἔτος ἔσχε τὴν Λοκρίδα διὰ τὴν εἰς Κασάνδραν ἀθέμιτον πρᾶξιν τοῦ Αἴαντος. ἔχρησε δὲ ὁ θεὸς ἱλάσκεσθαι τὴν θεὰν ᾿Αθηνᾶν τὴν ἐν ᾿Ιλίωι ἐπ’ ἔτη α, β παρθένους πέμποντας κλήρωι καὶ λαχήσει. πεμπομένας δὲ αὐτὰς προυπαντῶντες οἱ Τρῶες εἰ κατέσχον, ἀνήιρουν, καὶ καίοντες ἀκάρποις καὶ ἀγρίοις ξύλοις τὰ ὀστᾶ αὐτῶν ἀπὸ Τράρωνος ὄρους τῆς Τροίας τὴν σποδὸν εἰς θάλασσαν ἔρριπτον· καὶ πάλιν οἱ Λοκροὶ ἑτέρας ἔστελλον. εἰ δέ τινες ἐκφύγοιεν, ἀνελθοῦσαι λάθρα εἰς τὸ τῆς ᾿Αθηνᾶς ἱερόν, ἔσαιρον αὐτὸ καὶ ἔραινον, τῆι δὲ θεῶι οὐ προσήρχοντο οὔτε τοῦ ἱεροῦ ἐξήρχοντο, εἰ μὴ νύκτωρ. ἦσαν δὲ κεκαρμέναι, μονοχίτωνες καὶ ἀνυπόδητοι. πρῶται δὲ τῶν Λοκρίδων παρθένων Περίβοια καὶ Κλεοπάτρα ἀφίκοντο. καὶ πρῶτον μὲν τὰς παρθένους, εἶτα τὰ βρέφη ἐνιαύσια μετὰ τῶν τροφῶν αὐτῶν ἔπεμπον οἱ Λοκροί· χιλίων δ’ ἐτῶν παρελθόντων, μετὰ τὸν Φωκικὸν πόλεμον, ἐπαύσαντο τῆς τοιαύτης θυσίας 〚ὥς φησι Τίμαιος ὁ Σικελός〛. μέμνηται δὲ τῆς ἱστορίας καὶ ὁ Κυρηναῖος Καλλίμαχος (F 13d Schn = F 35 Pf).

Apollodorus 6.20–22

“The Lokrians barely made it back to their own land; three years later, a plague struck Lokris and they obtained an oracle to propitiate Athena in Troy by sending two maidens there for one thousand years. Periboia and Kleopatra were the first selected by lot.

But when they went to Troy, they were pursued by the local inhabitants until they entered the shrine. They did not approach the goddess, but they swept and sprinkled water on the temple. They did not exit the temple; their hair was cut, they wore single-tunics and no shoes.

When they died, the Lokrians sent others and they entered the city at night so that they would not be murdered if seen outside the precinct. Later, the Lokrians started sending infants with nurses. When one thousand years had passed, they stopped sening suppliants after the Phocian War.”

Λοκροὶ δὲ μόλις τὴν ἑαυτῶν καταλαβόντες, ἐπεὶ μετὰ τρίτον ἔτος τὴν Λοκρίδα κατέσχε φθορά, δέχονται χρησμὸν ἐξιλάσασθαι τὴν ἐν Ἰλίῳ Ἀθηνᾶν καὶ δύο παρθένους πέμπειν ἱκέτιδας ἐπὶ ἔτη χίλια. καὶ λαγχάνουσι πρῶται Περίβοια καὶ Κλεοπάτρα.

αὗται δὲ εἰς Τροίαν ἀφικόμεναι, διωκόμεναι παρὰ τῶν ἐγχωρίων εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν κατέρχονται: καὶ τῇ μὲν θεᾷ οὐ προσήρχοντο, τὸ δὲ ἱερὸν ἔσαιρόν τε καὶ ἔρραινον: ἐκτὸς δὲ τοῦ νεὼ οὐκ ἐξῄεσαν, κεκαρμέναι δὲ ἦσαν καὶ μονοχίτωνες καὶ ἀνυπόδετοι.

τῶν δὲ πρώτων ἀποθανουσῶν ἄλλας ἔπεμπον: εἰσῄεσαν δὲ εἰς τὴν πόλιν νύκτωρ, ἵνα μὴ φανεῖσαι τοῦ τεμένους ἔξω φονευθῶσι: μετέπειτα δὲ βρέφη μετὰ τροφῶν ἔπεμπον. χιλίων δὲ ἐτῶν παρελθόντων μετὰ τὸν Φωκικὸν πόλεμον ἱκέτιδας ἐπαύσαντο πέμποντες.

There is actually an inscription from the historical period making arrangements for this sacrifice.

womans-cult

‘Diomedean Compulsion’: Or, Remember the Time Odysseus tried to Stab Diomedes in the Back?

 

The Suda Has the following Entry:

Diomedean Compulsion: “This is also called a horse; a proverb from either the son of Tydeus or from the Thracian Diomedes who compelled guests to sleep with daughters who were ugly (and whom some allegorize as horses), or he would kill them.

And some say that Odysseus and Diomedes, after stealing the Palladion, returned during the night. Odysseus, who was following, planned to kill Diomedes. But when Diomedes saw the shadow of the sword in the moonlight, because he feared Odysseus, he made him walk in front of him, slapping him with the sword in the middle of the back. This proverb is used when people do things under compulsion.

For this reason, Diomedes kept man-eating horses: in the departure he was greatly aggrieved and was not welcomed to his own home, but after he was exiled he went to Kalabria and founded a city which he called Argurippê but whose name later was changed to Benebentos.”

 

Διομήδειος ἀνάγκη. λέγεται καὶ ἵππος. παροιμία, ἀπὸ τοῦ Τυδέως ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ Θρᾳκός· ὃς ἠνάγκαζε τοὺς ξένους αἰσχραῖς οὔσαις ταῖς θυγατράσιν αὐτοῦ μίσγεσθαι (ἃς καὶ ἵππους ἀλληγορεῖ), εἶτα ἀν-ῄρει. οἱ δέ, ὅτι Διομήδης καὶ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς τὸ Παλλάδιον κλέψαντες νυκτὸς ἐπανῄεσαν. ἑπόμενος δὲ ὁ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς τὸν Διομήδην ἐβουλήθη ἀποκτεῖναι. ἐν τῇ σελήνῃ δὲ ἰδὼν τὴν σκιὰν τοῦ ξίφους ὁ Διομήδης, δείσας τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα ἐποίησε προάγειν παίων αὐτοῦ τῷ ξίφει τὸ

μετάφρενον. τάττεται δὲ ἐπὶ τῶν κατ’ ἀνάγκην τι πραττόντων. διὰ τοῦτο λέγει, ὅτι ἵππους ἀνθρωποφάγους εἶχεν ὁ Διομήδης. ὅτι Διομήδης εἰς τὸν ἀπόπλουν καταχθεὶς εἰς τὰ ἴδια οὐκ ἐδέχθη, ἀλλὰ διωχθεὶς ἀπῆλθεν εἰς Καλαβρίαν καὶ κτίζει πόλιν, ἣν ἐκάλεσεν ᾿Αργυρίππην, τὴν μετονομασθεῖσαν Βενεβεντόν.

 

Hesychios the Lexicographer discusses the same two origins for the phrase:

“Diomedean Necessity: A proverb. Klearkhos says that Diomedes’ daughters were absolutely wretched and that some were forced to sleep with them or he murdered them immediately. In the little Iliad, the story is that the phrase comes from the theft of the Palladion.

Διομήδειος ἀνάγκη· παροιμία. Κλέαρχος μέν φησι, Διομήδους
θυγατέρας γενέσθαι πάνυ μοχθηράς, αἷς ἀναγκάζειν πλησιάζειν
τινάς, καὶ εὐθὺς αὐτοὺς φονεύειν· ὁ δὲ τὴν μικρὰν ᾿Ιλιάδα
φησὶ (fr. 9 Allen) ἐπὶ τῆς τοῦ Παλλαδίου κλοπῆς γενέσθαι

There is one fragment from the Little Iliad about this moment:

“It was the middle of the night, and the bright moon lay on them”

νὺξ μὲν ἔην μεσάτη, λαμπρὴ δ’ ἐπέτελλε σελήνη.

This, admittedly, doesn’t say much. The basic story is that, in order to take Troy, the Greeks needed to steal the Palladion, an image of Athena. Odysseus and Diomedes sneaked into the city to get it. On the way back, Odysseus tried to kill Diomedes. According to the fragments of the historian Konon, Diomedes climbed on Odysseus’ shoulders to get into the city, but then left him behind to secure the Palladion himself. According to other accounts (summarized by Servius in his commentary on the Aeneid, see Gantz 1992, 643-5), Odysseus just wanted the glory all to himself.

In any case, the Palladion-tale is a re-doubling of other Trojan War Motifs: the requirement of Herakles’ bow and Philoktetes or the need to have Neoptolemus present, for example, are similar talismanic possessions to end the long war. Odysseus’ conflict with Diomedes, here, is not dissimilar either to his quarrel with Ajax or his feud with Achilles (mentioned in the Odyssey). This narrative, also engages with the pairing of Diomedes and Odysseus elsewhere, especially Iliad 10.

Odysseus and Diomedes

 

Cicero Called Him Ulysses, but Loved Him All the Same: Fragments from Accius’ Ajax

Cicero de Officiis III.97 (=Accius fr. 109-114, Amorum Iudicium)

We probably should not be surprised if Cicero favors Odysseus…

“What indeed do you think Odysseus would have heard if he had continued in that lie? Even when he had accomplished the greatest feats in War, he still heard these kinds of things from Ajax:

‘You all know that he was the only man to break
The sworn oath which he was the first to take
He began to pretend he was insane to avoid fighting.
If the wisdom of observant Palamedes
Had not perceived this criminal audacity
Law would have foundered with its sacred trust.”

[98] Quid enim auditurum putas fuisse Ulixem, si in illa simulatione perseverasset? Qui cum maximas res gesserit in bello, tamen haec audiat ab Aiace:

“Cuius ipse princeps iuris iurandi fuit,
Quod omnes scitis, solus neglexit fidem.
Furere adsimulare, ne coiret, institit.
Quod ni Palamedi perspicax prudentia
Istius percepset malitiosam audaciam
Fide sacratae ius perpetuo falleret.”

Elsewhere (Charisius, G.L. I. 283, 30) the fragments have Ajax getting a little sarcastic.

“Oh, I saw you, Odysseus, knock down Hector with a stone.
I saw you protect the Greek fleet with your shield,
All while I quaked and plead for a shameful flight!”

Vidi te, Ulixes, saxo sternentem Hectora
Vidi tegentem clipeo classem Doricam;
Ego tunc udendam trepidus hortabar fugam.

Ajax’s Frustration and Achilles’ Shield: Two Moments for ‘Justice’ in Homer’s Iliad

The Iliad provides two moments where some type of institutional (non-violent) conflict resolution is imagined. Note, though murder is mentioned, capital punishment is not. And Homer’s world is certainly a savage one…

At the end of the embassy in book 9, Ajax voices his frustration with Achilles (9.632-638):

“You are relentless: someone might even accept payment
for the murder of a brother or the death of his own child.
and after making great restitution, the killer remains in his country,
and though bereft, the other restrains his heart and mighty anger
once he has accepted the price. But the gods put an untouchable
and wicked rage in your heart over only a girl…”

νηλής• καὶ μέν τίς τε κασιγνήτοιο φονῆος
ποινὴν ἢ οὗ παιδὸς ἐδέξατο τεθνηῶτος•
καί ῥ’ ὃ μὲν ἐν δήμῳ μένει αὐτοῦ πόλλ’ ἀποτίσας,
τοῦ δέ τ’ ἐρητύεται κραδίη καὶ θυμὸς ἀγήνωρ
ποινὴν δεξαμένῳ• σοὶ δ’ ἄληκτόν τε κακόν τε
θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι θεοὶ θέσαν εἵνεκα κούρης
οἴης• …

On Achilles’ shield, Hephaestus creates two cities, one at war and one at peace. He also creates an assembly where a killing is being judged Il. 18.496-508

“The people where gathered, crowded, in the assembly where a conflict (neîkos)
had arisen: two men were striving over the penalty for
a man who had been killed; the first one was promising to give everything
as he was testifying to the people; but the other was refusing to take anything;
and both men longed for a judge to make a decision.
The people, partisans on either side, applauded.
Then the heralds brought the host together; the elders
sat on smooth stones in a sacred circle
as they held in their hands the scepters of clear-voiced heralds;
each one was leaping to his feet and they pronounced judgments in turn.
In the middle there were two talents of gold to give
to whoever among them uttered the straightest judgment.”

λαοὶ δ’ εἰν ἀγορῇ ἔσαν ἀθρόοι• ἔνθα δὲ νεῖκος
ὠρώρει, δύο δ’ ἄνδρες ἐνείκεον εἵνεκα ποινῆς
ἀνδρὸς ἀποφθιμένου• ὃ μὲν εὔχετο πάντ’ ἀποδοῦναι
δήμῳ πιφαύσκων, ὃ δ’ ἀναίνετο μηδὲν ἑλέσθαι•
ἄμφω δ’ ἱέσθην ἐπὶ ἴστορι πεῖραρ ἑλέσθαι.
λαοὶ δ’ ἀμφοτέροισιν ἐπήπυον ἀμφὶς ἀρωγοί•
κήρυκες δ’ ἄρα λαὸν ἐρήτυον• οἳ δὲ γέροντες
εἵατ’ ἐπὶ ξεστοῖσι λίθοις ἱερῷ ἐνὶ κύκλῳ,
σκῆπτρα δὲ κηρύκων ἐν χέρσ’ ἔχον ἠεροφώνων•
τοῖσιν ἔπειτ’ ἤϊσσον, ἀμοιβηδὶς δὲ δίκαζον.
κεῖτο δ’ ἄρ’ ἐν μέσσοισι δύω χρυσοῖο τάλαντα,
τῷ δόμεν ὃς μετὰ τοῖσι δίκην ἰθύντατα εἴποι.

Xenophon, Socrates’ Apology (26): Palamedes is Better than Odysseus, Like Me

“The fact that I will die unjustly shouldn’t burden my thoughts. No, this is a matter of shame for those who convicted me. The case of Palamedes, who died like me, provides some comfort. For even now he furnishes more beautiful songs than that Odysseus who killed him unjustly. So I know that it will be known on my part in the future as time passes that I did nothing wrong and that I never corrupted any man—instead, I have worked hard on the behalf of those I encounter, teaching them whatever good I can.”

ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ μέντοι ὅτι ἀδίκως ἀποθνῄσκω, διὰ τοῦτο μεῖον φρονητέον• οὐ γὰρ ἐμοὶ ἀλλὰ τοῖς καταγνοῦσι τοῦτο αἰσχρόν [γάρ] ἐστι. παραμυθεῖται δ’ ἔτι με καὶ Παλαμήδης ὁ παραπλησίως ἐμοὶ τελευτήσας• ἔτι γὰρ καὶ νῦν πολὺ καλλίους ὕμνους παρέχεται ᾿Οδυσσέως τοῦ ἀδίκως ἀποκτείναντος αὐτόν• οἶδ’ ὅτι καὶ ἐμοὶ μαρτυρήσεται ὑπό τε τοῦ ἐπιόντος καὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ παρεληλυθότος χρόνου ὅτι ἠδίκησα μὲν οὐδένα πώποτε οὐδὲ πονηρότερον ἐποίησα, εὐηργέτουν δὲ τοὺς ἐμοὶ διαλεγομένους προῖκα διδάσκων ὅ τι ἐδυνάμην ἀγαθόν.

In the Trojan War tradition Palamedes is the one who tricks Odysseus to showing he isn’t insane when Agamemnon and Nestor arrive in Ithaca to bring him to war. Once they get to Troy, Odysseus frames Palamedes as a traitor and arranges to have him stoned to death. According to fragments and ancient scholiasts, the major tragedians each had plays on Palamedes. We have none of them. Plato has Socrates mention Palamedes too (Apology 41b):

“Then it would be a wondrous way for me to spend my time there [in the afterlife], whenever I would meet Palamedes or Telemonian Ajax or if there is any other of the ancients who died thanks to an unjust judgment, I could compare the things I have suffered to what they did…”

ἐπεὶ ἔμοιγε καὶ αὐτῷ θαυμαστὴ ἂν εἴη ἡ διατριβὴ αὐτόθι, ὁπότε ἐντύχοιμι Παλαμήδει καὶ Αἴαντι τῷ Τελαμῶνος καὶ εἴ τις ἄλλος τῶν παλαιῶν διὰ κρίσιν ἄδικον τέθνηκεν, ἀντιπαραβάλλοντι τὰ ἐμαυτοῦ πάθη πρὸς τὰ ἐκείνων…

The details are different-—notice the inclusion of another anti-Odysseus figure in Ajax—-but the tone is the same (Socrates enrolling himself in a list of wronged heroes). Plato’s Socrates seems a bit bolder, though, as he imagines hanging out with the unjustly dead.