Calling All Students and Teachers to a Tragic Agôn: Playing Medea

Just a few days left to win money and immortal fame! (For students in the US and Canada, at least. The competition in Greece is open to December 18 and so is the UK version)

Let’s start with the basic details:

  1. High School and College students in North America (and UK and Greece): Create a short video of yourselves performing part of Euripides’ Medea
  2. Submit that video by October 23rd
  3. Win up to $400.00
  4. Earn kleos aphthiton (“immortal Glory”)

Ok, let’s get to some details. Playing Medea is a student theatrical competition organized by Out of Chaos Theatre, supported by a Classics Everywhere Grant from the Society for Classical Studies, a generous anonymous donor who loves Canada, and the Center for Hellenic Studies. The UK and Greece competitions are supported as well by The Classical Association and BADA (British American Drama Association).

The contest is open to high school and college students in the US and Canada (as well as the UK and Greece, but on a different schedule with different translations) and there is a $400 prize for first place, and two $200 prizes for second place.  We’re using Diane Rayor’s translation and you can choose from a selection of scenes, all of which are available here

So, record a scene from Medea and submit it by 23rd October 2020. Our panel of judges (including representatives from the British American Drama Academy) will watch all submissions and then announce the winners during the Reading Greek Tragedy Online episode on Medea on 11th November 2020. 

This competition has grown out of the weekly meetings of Reading Greek Tragedy Online. We started this project during the early days of the pandemic lockdown in the United States and have learned a lot about Greek tragedy and performance while also maintaining some sense of community even while living alone. We know that this is a year of unparalleled isolation and stress for students and teachers alike, so we designed this project to expand our community and encourage others to strengthen their own.

We encourage creativity and daring, and we welcome all contributions however modest they may seem. Entries can be recorded entirely on zoom, or by groups who are able to share the same space. University or high school groups can enter multiple times, but each actor can appear in only one submission.

Our website also includes a dramaturgy pack (thanks to Emma Pauly for putting it together) which includes information about the play, its characters, and its production history. There is also a wonderful Medea ebook created by the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama.

Here’s a video of Amy Pistone, Paul OMahony and me trying to be clear in on 3 or 5 takes.

Calling All Students and Teachers to a Tragic Agôn: Playing Medea

Let’s start with the basic details:

  1. High School and College students in North America (and soon the UK): Create a short video of yourselves performing part of Euripides’ Medea
  2. Submit that video by October 23rd
  3. Win up to $400.00
  4. Earn kleos aphthiton (“immortal Glory”)

Ok, let’s get to some details. Playing Medea is a student theatrical competition organized by Out of Chaos Theatre, supported by a Classics Everywhere Grant from the Society for Classical Studies, a generous anonymous donor who loves Canada, and the Center for Hellenic Studies.

The contest is open to high school and college students in the US and Canada (there will be separate competitions in assorted other countries) and there is a $400 prize for first place, and two $200 prizes for second place.  We’re using Diane Rayor’s translation and you can choose from a selection of scenes, all of which are available here

So, record a scene from Medea and submit it by 23rd October 2020. Our panel of judges (including representatives from the British American Drama Academy) will watch all submissions and then announce the winners during the Reading Greek Tragedy Online episode on Medea on 11th November 2020. 

This competition has grown out of the weekly meetings of Reading Greek Tragedy Online. We started this project during the early days of the pandemic lockdown in the United States and have learned a lot about Greek tragedy and performance while also maintaining some sense of community even while living alone. We know that this is a year of unparalleled isolation and stress for students and teachers alike, so we designed this project to expand our community and encourage others to strengthen their own.

We encourage creativity and daring, and we welcome all contributions however modest they may seem. Entries can be recorded entirely on zoom, or by groups who are able to share the same space. University or high school groups can enter multiple times, but each actor can appear in only one submission.

Our website also includes a dramaturgy pack (thanks to Emma Pauly for putting it together) which includes information about the play, its characters, and its production history. There is also a wonderful Medea ebook created by the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama.

Here’s a video of Amy Pistone, Paul OMahony and me trying to be clear in on 3 or 5 takes.

A Heroic Judge of the Gods

Antoninos Liberalis, 4

Kragaleus: Nikander reports this in his Metamorphoses as Athanadas does in his Ambrakian Issues. Kragaleus the son of Dryops inhabited Dryopis near the Baths of Herakles, springs which the stories claim Herakles created when he clubbed the side of the moountain. Kragaleus was already old and judged to be just and far by his neighbors. When he was grazing his cattle, Apollo, Artemis, and Herakles came to him for a judgment about Ambrakia in Epiros.

Apollo was insisting that the city was his because his son Melaneus, the king of the Dryopes, had conquered all of Epiros and then had two children himself, Eurutos and Ambrakia, where the city got its name. Besides, he  had done a lot of great things for the city. For the Sisyphidai, commanded by him, went to the city to correct the Ambrakians for the war they had waged against the Epirotes and Gorgon, the brother of Kupselos took a colony army against Ambrakia from Korinth to follow his own oracle. In addition, also in accordance with his oracle, the Abrakians had revolted against the tyrant Phalaikos and, thanks to this, the masses destroyed him. Altogether, Apollo was often the one who brought an end to civil way, strife, and conflict and he promoted fair laws, order, and justice instead, which is why to this day he is respected as the Pythian Savior at feasts and festivals.

Artemis was stopping the quarrel with Apollo because she believed that she held Ambrakia with his blessing. She claimed the city according this argument. When Phalaikos was the tyrant of the city and no one could get rid of him because of fear, she had a lion cub appear to him when he was hunting. He accepted the cub into his hands and its mother jumped out of the woods, leapt upon him, and ripped his chest wide open. In this way, The Ambrakians escaped slavery and were hailed Artemis Leader. They had a bronze statue of the Huntress made and placed the animal beside it.

But the Herakles was demonstrating that Ambrakia belonged to him along with all of Epiros. For when the Kelts, Khaones, Thesprotians, and all the Epirotes attacked him, he overpowered them at the time when they joined him in the plot to steal Geryon’s cattle. At a later time, a group came from Korinth to found a colony and once they uprooted the earlier inhabitants took up the settlement of Ambrakia. All the Korinthians come from Herakles.

Once Kragaleus listened thoroughly to all these arguments, he decided that the city was Herakles’. Apollo touched him with his hand out of anger and turned him to a rock where he stood. So the Ambrakians sacrifice to Apollo the Savior, but they judge that their city belongs to Herakles and his descendants and they offer sacrificial rites to Kragaleus the hero even today, following a festival to Herakles.”

Κραγαλεύς· ἱστορεῖ Νίκανδρος ῾Ετεροιουμένων ᾱ καὶ ᾽Αθανάδας ᾽Αμβρακικοῖς. Κραγαλεὺς ὁ Δρύοπος ὤικει γῆς τῆς Δρυοπίδος παρὰ τὰ λοῦτρα τὰ ῾Ηρακλέους, ἃ μυθολογοῦσιν ῾Ηρακλέα πλήξαντα τῆι κορύνηι τὰς πλάκας τοῦ ὄρους ἀναβαλεῖν. (2) ὁ δὲ Κραγαλεὺς οὗτος ἐγεγόνει γηραιὸς ἤδη καὶ τοῖς ἐγχωρίοις ἐνομίζετο δίκαιος εἶναι καὶ φρόνιμος· καὶ αὐτῶι νέμοντι βοῦς προσάγουσιν ᾽Απόλλων καὶ ῎Αρτεμις καὶ ῾Ηρακλῆς κριθησόμενοι περὶ ᾽Αμβρακίας τῆς ἐν ᾽Ηπείρωι. (3) καὶ ὁ μὲν ᾽Απόλλων ἑαυτῶι προσήκειν ἔλεγε τὴν πόλιν, ὅτι Μελανεὺς υἱὸς ἦν αὐτοῦ, βασιλεύσας μὲν Δρυόπων καὶ πολέμωι λαβὼν τὴν πᾶσαν ῎Ηπειρον, γεννήσας δὲ παῖδας Εὐρυτον καὶ ᾽Αμβρακίαν, ἀφ᾽ἧς ἡ πόλις ᾽Αμβρακία καλεῖται· καὶ αὐτὸς μέγιστα χαρίσασθαι ταύτηι τῆι πόλει. (4) Σισυφίδας μὲν γὰρ αὐτοῦ προστάξαντος ἀφικομένους κατορθῶσαι τὸν πόλεμον ᾽Αμβρακιώταις τὸν γενόμενον αὐτοῖς πρὸς ᾽Ηπειρώτας· Γόργον δὲ τὸν ἀδελφὸν Κυψέλου κατὰ τοὺς αὐτοῦ χρησμοὺς λαὸν ἔποικον ἀγαγεῖν εἰς ᾽Αμβρακίαν ἐκ Κορίνθου· Φαλαίκωι δὲ τυραννοῦντι τῆς πόλεως αὐτοῦ κατὰ μαντείαν ᾽Αμβρακιώτας ἐπαναστῆσαι, καὶ παρὰ τοῦτο <τοὺς> πολλοὺς ἀπολέσαι τὸν Φάλαικον· τὸ δὲ ὅλον αὐτὸς ἐν τῆι πόλει παῦσαι πλειστάκις ἐμφύλιον πόλεμον καὶ ἔριδας καὶ στάσιν, ἐμποιῆσαι <δ᾽>ἀντὶ τούτων [δ᾽] εὐνομίαν καὶ θέμιν καὶ δίκην, ὅθεν αὐτὸν ἔτι νῦν παρὰ τοῖς ᾽Αμβρακιώταις Σωτῆρα Πύθιον ἐν ἑορταῖς καὶ εἰλαπίναις ἄιδεσθαι. (5) ῎Αρτεμις δὲ τὸ μὲν νεῖκος κατέπαυε τὸ πρὸς τὸν ᾽Απόλλωνα, παρ᾽ ἑκόντος δὲ ἠξίου τὴν ᾽Αμβρακίαν ἔχειν. ἐφίεσθαι γὰρ τῆς πόλεως κατὰ πρόφασιν τοιαύτην· ὅτε Φάλαικος ἐτυράννευε τῆς πόλεως, οὐδενὸς αὐτὸν δυναμένου κατὰ δέος ἀνελεῖν, αὐτὴ κυνηγετοῦντι τῶι Φαλαίκωι προφῆναι σκύμνον λέοντος, ἀναλαβόντος δὲ εἰς τὰς χεῖρας ἐκδραμεῖν ἐκ τῆς ὕλης τὴν μητέρα καὶ προσπεσοῦσαν ἀναρρῆξαι τὰ στέρνα τοῦ Φαλαίκου, τοὺς δ᾽ ᾽Αμβρακιώτας ἐκφυγόντας τὴν δουλείαν ῎Αρτεμιν ῾Ηγεμόνην ἱλάσασθαι, καὶ ποιησαμένους ᾽Αγροτέρης εἴκασμα παραστήσασθαι χάλκεον αὐτῶι θῆρα. (6) ὁ δὲ ῾Ηρακλῆς ἀπεδείκνυεν ᾽Αμβρακίαν τε καὶ τὴν σύμπασαν ῎Ηπειρον οὖσαν ἑαυτοῦ. πολεμήσαντας γὰρ αὐτῶι Κελτοὺς καὶ Χάονας καὶ Θεσπρωτοὺς καὶ σύμπαντας ᾽Ηπειρώτας ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ κρατηθῆναι, ὅτε τὰς Γηρυόνου βοῦς συνελθόντες <ἐβούλευον> ἀφελέσθαι· χρόνωι δ᾽ὕστερον λαὸν ἔποικον ἐλθεῖν ἐκ Κορίνθου καὶ τοὺς πρόσθεν ἀναστήσαντας ᾽Αμβρακίαν συνοικίσαι· Κορίνθιοι δὲ πάντες εἰσὶν ἀφ᾽ ῾Ηρακλέους. (7) ἃ διακούσας ὁ Κραγαλεὺς ἔγνω τὴν πόλιν ῾Ηρακλέους εἶναι, ᾽Απόλλων δὲ κατ᾽ ὀργὴν ἁψάμενος αὐτοῦ τῆι χειρὶ πέτρον ἐποίησεν ἵναπερ εἱστήκει, ᾽Αμβρακιῶται δὲ ᾽Απόλλωνι μὲν Σωτῆρι θύουσι, τὴν δὲ πόλιν ῾Ηρακλέους καὶ τῶν ἐκείνου παίδων νενομίκασι, Κραγαλεῖ δὲ μετὰ τὴν ἑορτὴν ῾Ηρακλέους ἔντομα θύουσιν ἄχρι νῦν.

Ambrakian raunioita.
Some Ambracian ruins

 

 

 

#NANAIHB Day 6: Thersites vs. Oilean Ajax

This is the 6th day of the Non-Atreid, Non-Achilles Iliadic Hero Bracket tournament to once and for all establish the second best of the Achaeans. 

What turned out to be the closest contest of this tournament of favorites drew some strong interest from the crowd. Odysseus gave the Aitolian Thoas some advice as he prepared to face Antilokhos who could not seem to get away from his father Nestor. Indeed, the match itself was almost called off as that old Gerenian horseman could be heard extolling the importance of deep breaths and visualizing success to his youngest son.

AvTh poll

Once he broke away from his father, he rushed straight at Thoas, dodging the first spear only to the second spear break straight through his shield and graze his thigh. The wound was minor, but Antilokhos slipped and fell on the ground, breaking his shield. For a moment, it looked like Antilokhos’ speed was nullified and in the stunned silence you could hear Achilles grumbling about how he should change his name to Antilakhos* since luck wasn’t on his side.

But as Thoas turned, dropped his shield and drew his sword, Antilokhos rolled quickly to his left where Thoas’ first spear had been deflected, and pulled it up just as Andraimon’s son tried to bring his sword down on him. Result? Aitolian with dislocated shoulder, and shredded muscles around the joint.

*lokhos means “ambush”, lakhos means “lot”.

NANAIHB Day 6a

This just might be the juiciest match-up of the first round. Indeed, there’s no way we’ll find another meeting of two potential wrestling heels: Thersites, a man so hated he unites Achilles, Agamemnon and Odysseus, and Ajax, son of Oileus, the Lokrian Homer sees fit to cover in cow-shit.

NANAIHB Day 6a (3)

Thersites, from Aitolia is the son of Agrios who was the brother of Oineus, the king of Aitolia. If you’re keeping track, that makes him a kinsman of sorts with both Thoas and Diomedes. He does not show up in the catalogue of ships and we never actually see him fight. But we do hear a bit about him. Homer doesn’t describe many of the heroes physically, but Thersites gets six lines (2.216-221):

And he was the most shameful man who came to Troy.
He was cross-eyed and crippled in one foot. His shoulders
Were curved, dragged in toward his chest. And on top
His head was misshaped, and the hair on his head was sparse.
He was most hateful to both Achilles and Odysseus
For he was always reproaching them.

….αἴσχιστος δὲ ἀνὴρ ὑπὸ ῎Ιλιον ἦλθε·
φολκὸς ἔην, χωλὸς δ’ ἕτερον πόδα· τὼ δέ οἱ ὤμω
κυρτὼ ἐπὶ στῆθος συνοχωκότε· αὐτὰρ ὕπερθε
φοξὸς ἔην κεφαλήν, ψεδνὴ δ’ ἐπενήνοθε λάχνη.
ἔχθιστος δ’ ᾿Αχιλῆϊ μάλιστ’ ἦν ἠδ’ ᾿Οδυσῆϊ·
τὼ γὰρ νεικείεσκε·

Modern scholars have written a lot about him too! Just because he’s most shameful does not mean he can’t be the second best too, does it? (The T scholion for this line helpfully notes: “most shameful: this is also said of an ape.” αἴσχιστος: τοῦτο καὶ ἐπὶ πιθήκου). The scholia report that Thersites fell off a cliff running from a boar and so his name—meaning “bold, audacious” might just be a joke. But in the criticisms he makes, another scholion also claims they say that [Thersites] is the poet’s agent, that he appropriates his essence ”Θερσίτης δ’ ἔτι: ἐπίτροπον τοῦ ποιητοῦ φασιν αὐτόν, σφετερισάμενον τὴν οὐσίαν. Because, Thersites may look scarier, but it is more frightening when you speak the Truth.
Ajax, the lesser: The son of Oileus. Also called Lokrian Ajax. Another hero Homer spends time describing physically:

“The fast son of Oileus was leading the Lokrians
Smaller, not in any way as big as Telamonian Ajax
But much smaler. He was small and wore linen armor.
But he surpassed All the Greeks and the Achaeans in spear-play.”

Λοκρῶν δ’ ἡγεμόνευεν ᾿Οϊλῆος ταχὺς Αἴας
μείων, οὔ τι τόσος γε ὅσος Τελαμώνιος Αἴας
ἀλλὰ πολὺ μείων· ὀλίγος μὲν ἔην λινοθώρηξ,
ἐγχείῃ δ’ ἐκέκαστο Πανέλληνας καὶ ᾿Αχαιούς·

So, the narrative takes pains to emphasize his smallness and his swiftness, but his character emerges elsewhere. He participates in the battles well and kills the “most” men at the end of book 13 thanks to his swiftness. But he argues nastily with Idomeneus during the chariot games, receiving in turn the address “Ajax, best at the quarrel, shit-for-brains…” (Αἶαν νεῖκος ἄριστε κακοφραδὲς…23.483.” And when he competes in the footrace, he slips in cow manure and falls in a pile of it (thanks to Athena). Of course, the assembled Greeks look on and laugh as he spits the shit from his mouth (23.780-784). Ajax is, of course, most famous for raping Kassandra on the altar of Athena and helping to derail the homecoming of the Achaeans. So, not a good guy.

So what’s the choice here? A bold-talker with no fighting history or a fast-running, linen-covered, creep-fest? And, to be honest, how much does it matter? The prize for this context is to get crushed by Diomedes.

#NANAIHB Day 5: Antilokhos vs. Thoas

This is the fifth day of the Non-Atreid, Non-Achilles Iliadic Hero Bracket tournament to once and for all establish the second best of the Achaeans. 

PvMpoll

The Achaeans watched with only passing interest as Patroklos and Makhaon began their match. In truth, even the gods found something else to occupy their endless time as Makhaon’s two spears bounced of Patroklos’ (borrowed) shield. Patroklos, too, seemed half invested, quipping weakly, “Makhaon, even in healing you’re second best at the fight” (δεύτερον ἄριστος μάχεσθαι*). Patroklos landed his first javelin into Makhaon’s right shoulder and Asklepios’ son yielded the fight. His brother Podaleirios came over to tend the wound.

*A rather obvious pun since makhesthai (“to fight”) sounds like Makhaon. Achilles later told him that he could have joked about how he was better at using a blade (makhaira) to heal than fight.

NANAIHB Day 5

 

Now we turn to the best match of the tournament so far: Antilochus, Nestor’s son, vs. Thoas the Aitolian

NANAIHB Day 5 (2)

Antilochus, the son of Nestor kills his first man in book four of the Iliad (457), he fights alongside Menelaos (5.577) and is a major part of the Greek offensive throughout books 5 and 13: in book 15 Menelaos marks him out, saying “other Greek is younger than you / is faster on his feet or as brave in battle as you are!” (᾿Αντίλοχον δ’ ὄτρυνε βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Μενέλαος· /᾿Αντίλοχ’ οὔ τις σεῖο νεώτερος ἄλλος ᾿Αχαιῶν, 15.568-569). And his swift feet carry him out of the battle to carry Achilles the news of Patroklos’ death (book 17). He is also memorable for his appearance in the funeral games where he is the audience for his father’s enigmatic instructions about the chariot race (12.305-348). And then part of the drama comes from Menelaos accusing him of cheating (and replaying some of the themes from the argument between Achilles and Agamemnon in Iliad 1). Out side of the Iliad, he is famous from the lost Aethiopis where he dies saving his father from Memnon, inciting Achilles’ rage (leading to Achilles’ death before the walls of Troy).

Antilochus is fast, he’s got the advice of Nestor and the favor of Achilles

Thoas the Aitolian, son of Andraimon, may be the youngest of the council of elders (after Achilles) and one of the Iliad’s best kept secrets (I may have some money on this one). One might imagine him a kind of replacement Diomedes, since he rules in Aitolia (the kingdom Tydeus was expelled from) and has some murky mythographical ties to Odysseus. At a critical moment in the epic, he stands up and is marked out as “best of the Aitolians at the spear / and in close combat but few of the Achaeans / could conquer him in the agora, whenever the young men struggled over speeches” (Αἰτωλῶν ὄχ’ ἄριστος ἐπιστάμενος μὲν ἄκοντι / ἐσθλὸς δ’ ἐν σταδίῃ· ἀγορῇ δέ ἑ παῦροι ᾿Αχαιῶν / νίκων, ὁππότε κοῦροι ἐρίσσειαν περὶ μύθων· 15.281–285).

Two young heroes. One with ties to Achilles, another linked to Odysseus. Two Achaeans enter, one man leaves. Who will it be?

 

NANAIHB Day 4: Patroklos vs. Makhaon

This is the fourth day of the Non-Atreid, Non-Achilles Iliadic Hero Bracket tournament to once and for all establish the second best of the Achaeans. 

Very few of the Greeks paid much attention to yesterday’s match sending Meriones against the bulwark of the Achaeans, since most assumed that Meriones would be expire in no more than a few words.

The Cretan captain, however, saved his breath and tried to outdance the larger Salaminian. He darted left to right, throwing his spears and having them glance off the massive shield of Telamon’s son.  Ajax stood rather impassively, parrying thrusts and waiting until Meriones ran straight at him before he locked his hands together and swung them directly into the Cretan’s chest. The ax-swing blow launched him into the air. When he hit the ground, his armor rattled around him like dice in a jar.

As he struggled to get up to his elbows, Idomeneus bellowed with a laugh, “Charioteer, my brother, stay down before you get blood on the ground!*”

*A joke: in Greek, Idomeneus said… πρὶν ἐκχεῖν αἵμα ἐπ’ αἶαν, using the word aia-n for “ground” which sounds a lot like Aias, the son of Telamon.

NANAIHB Day 3

Now we turn to a strange match-up: Patroklos son of Menoitios vs. Makhaon the son of Asklepios. Perhaps this is why Apollo dislikes him?

NANAIHB Day 3 (2)

Patroklos: the son of Menoitios who fights alongside his angrier half, Achilles. He is not originally from Phthia, but grew up there in exile from Opos after he killed a child his own age in anger over a game of dice. He appears by Achilles’ side throughout the Iliad until he takes his place in battle and falls at Hektor’s hands (helped by Apollo and Euphorbos). He even patiently listens to Achilles’ singing (Πάτροκλος δέ οἱ οἶος ἐναντίος ἧστο σιωπῇ, / δέγμενος Αἰακίδην ὁπότε λήξειεν ἀείδων, 9.190-191).

Patroklos does everything for Achilles: he gives Briseis back, he makes food, he has a bed made up for Phoinix, he goes to see about Makhaon’s wound, and he leads the Myrmidons to Battle, and dies for him. (But he is not listed as one of the leaders of the Myrmidons in the Catalogue of Ships). In battle he’s a terror: he kills Sarpedon and almost breaks through the walls of Troy themselves. Before he dies he may just be the only one to temper Achilles’ rage: As a scholion states (Schol. BT a Il. 307b) “it is likely that Patroklos goes with Achilles when he is enraged for the purpose of calming his spirit. This is because he is kind, as is clear from the fact that he pities the Acheans” (εἰκότως τῷ ᾿Αχιλλεῖ θυμικῷ ὄντι ἤπιος ὢν Πάτροκλος πάρεστι πρὸς τὸ τὸν θυμὸν αὐτοῦ μαλάσσειν. ὅτι δὲ πρᾷός ἐστι, δῆλον ἐξ ὧν οἰκτείρει τοὺς ᾿Αχαιούς)

Makhaon, a healer and leader of the contingent from Oikhaliê, Trikke and Ithômê (yes, where?) is a son of Asklepios and led 30 ships to Troy. He administered his arts to Menelaos in the middle of battle (book 4) and was enjoying his own aristeia in book 11 until he was shot in the shoulder by Paris. He is so beloved by his companions that when Achilles witnesses his rescue in book 11 he sends Patroklos to inquire about him, setting off the sequence of events that will seal everyone’s fate. Also, Diogenes Laertius lets slip that he just might be Aristotle’s ancestor (Ἀριστοτέλης Νικομάχου καὶ Φαιστίδος Σταγειρίτης. ὁ δὲ Νικόμαχος ἦν ἀπὸ Νικομάχου τοῦ Μαχάονος τοῦ Ἀσκληπιοῦ, καθά φησιν Ἕρμιππος ἐν τῷ Περὶ Ἀριστοτέλους, 5.1).

Let’s be honest. This probably isn’t fair. But it just might come down to how mild a temper Patroklos actually has. Don’t take your feelings out about Aristotle on Makhaon. Diogenes might not trust his sources on this….

NANAIHB Day 3: Meriones vs. Ajax

This is the thirdday of the Non-Atreid, Non-Achilles Iliadic Hero Bracket tournament to once and for all establish the second best of the Achaeans. 

A brief recap from yesterday’s match which pitted the hero-king of Crete, Idomeneus, against one of the Epigonoi, Sthenelos the sacker of Thebes.

Idomeneus stepped away from his corner where Nestor was still giving him instructions he had not heard and stood still, waiting for Sthenelos. Sthenelos, was talking heatedly with Phoinix, and the only words any word heard sound like “father”, “better”, and “destruction of Thebes”. Sthenelos turned around and said, “Hail, descendant of Minos, Lord of Crete,King of one hundred cities, the Son of Capaneus will bring you down like the city of seven-gated Thebes!”

Idomeneus waited. Sthenelos hurled his first spear, and missed. The second lodged in Idomeneus’ shield without piercing it. Sthenelos drew his sword and charged, dropping it after he struck Idomeneus’ shield with all his force. Idomeneus was about to draw his sword when Diomedes caught his eye. The Cretan shrugged, raised his shield, and thwamped Sthenelos on the head. The light left the eyes of the Argive prince as he knelt to the ground. Unconscious, but still breathing.

As Idomeneus hefted his shield again, Epeios chuckled to Eurypulos, “ἴδε οἱ μένος!*

*ide hoi menos: “look at his strength!” a play on the name Idomeneus

NANAIHB Day 2

Today’s contest pits the Cretan Charioteer, Meriones, against the Salaminian Tower of Strength, Ajax. The winner will face Idomeneus in the next round, which will be super awkward if it is Meriones.

NANAIHB Day 2 (2)

Meriones: In the first version of this bracket, Meriones had slipped out. But there was a roar from justice as people clamored to have him back in. So, who is he? He is the half-brother of Idomeneus, often called his charioteer and he has at least seven kills in the Iliad, where he is first named as “equal to man-slaying Enyalios” (Μηριόνης τ’ ἀτάλαντος ᾿Ενυαλίῳ ἀνδρειφόντῃ, 2.651). In book 7, he is one of the 9 who stands to face Hektor in a dual and he volunteers to join Diomedes on his night raid in book 10. In each case he is second only to the more famous Ajax and Odysseus. Perhaps his most humorous moment is when he rushes out of the battle in book 13 and meets Idomeneus, saying “I am going to see if there are any spears left / in our dwellings for I have just now broken the one I was holding / when I threw it at the spear of that super-manly Deiphobos” (ἔρχομαι εἴ τί τοι ἔγχος ἐνὶ κλισίῃσι λέλειπται / οἰσόμενος· τό νυ γὰρ κατεάξαμεν ὃ πρὶν ἔχεσκον / ἀσπίδα Δηϊφόβοιο βαλὼν ὑπερηνορέοντος, 13.256-258). He stands with Idomeneus in book 13 to rally again the Trojan attack. He’s fast, he’s good with the bow too.

Ajax: What is there to say about Ajax? Outside the Iliad he is most famous for losing to Odysseus in the judgment of Achilles’ arms. He is a son of Telamon, which by most accounts makes him Achilles’ cousin (Peleus and Telamon were brothers). He came to Troy from Salamis with 12 ships and was central in later traditions for arguing the ‘ownership’ of Salamis. He is by far the best man after Achilles and Helen describes him as the “monstrous tower of the Achaeans” (οὗτος δ’ Αἴας ἐστὶ πελώριος ἕρκος ᾿Αχαιῶν, 3.229) since both he and Idomeneus standout from afar. He tears battle lines apart singlehandedly! He carries a shield as large as a tower (Αἴας δ’ ἐγγύθεν ἦλθε φέρων σάκος ἠΰτε πύργον, 7.219). When he runs out of spears, well he’s hero enough to toss boulders at people. He duels Hektor (and then later Odysseus) to a draw. But for all these he seems pretty even-headed. IN book 9, he’s the one who breaks Achilles down a bit (Iliad 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…

NANAIHB Day 2: Idomeneus vs. Sthenelos

This is the second day of the Non-Atreid, Non-Achilles Iliadic Hero Bracket tournament to once and for all establish the second best of the Achaeans. 

Before we get to today’s match, here’s a brief recap from yesterday’s inaugural competition which saw the Pseudo-Rhodian Tlepolemos face off against the other son of Telamon, the Archer Teucer. Nestor stood as the corner man for the son of Herakles and Phoinix stood beside Telamon’s son.

Teucer 1 Tweet

Tlepolemos started out the contest by brandishing two spears in his massive right hand and mocking Teucer, saying “Bastard son of Telamon, smallest of the Achaeans, coward who hides behind brother’s shields! How do you expect to beat me, standing here alone, a lesser son of a lesser man against the massive scion of Herakles? I am going to….”

Tlepolemos was cut off mid-threat by an arrow piercing his throat. Teucer had turned and walked into the watching crowd before the arrow  landed, muttering without a hint of a smile, “οὐ δὴ τλῆ τὸν πόλεμον”*

*ou dê tlê ton polemon: “he didn’t endure this war”. A play on Tle-polemos’ name.

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Today’s contest pits the Hero-King of Crete, Idomeneus against Sthenelos, Sacker of Thebes.

Idomeneus is a member of the council of elders, a grandson of Minos, and friend to Ajax. Meriones is his second in command. He is listed as one of the leaders Agamemnon might despoil instead of Achilles (along with Odysseus and Ajax) and heralded by the narrator as one of the best of the Pan-Achaeans (γέροντας ἀριστῆας Παναχαιῶν, along with Nestor, both Ajaxes, Odysseus, Diomedes, and Menelaos, 2.404-408). He came to Troy from Crete of 100 cities (2.649; the Odyssey gives him only 90 cities) with 80 ships. (For comparison, Agamemnon led 100 ships and Odysseus brought 12).

Idomeneus is central to the defense of the ships in book 13 and made it out of Troy alive. In the Odyssey, he may still be ruler of Crete (although some traditions have a harsher homecoming). It is not hard to imagine narrative traditions that center this Cretan hero more: he is blamed for unfairly distributed spoils (given as an etiology for “Cretan” meaning a “liar”) and is responsible elsewhere for Odysseus’ successful homecoming. If you were drafting a heroic lineup and you wanted Ajax-level performance for a much lower price, Idomeneus would be your man.

Sthenelos: This son of Kapaneus may not be a household name, but he’s the Robin to Diomedes’ Batman and they go everywhere and destroy everything together. The pair came fro Aros and Tiryns leading 80 ships between them with Euryalos as their third (Il. 2559-568)! Diomedes is so confident with his little buddy by his side that he declares “Run away with your ships to your darling fatherland! / We two–Sthenelos and I–will fight until we find /  the end of Ilion–for we have come here with god on our side!” (φευγόντων σὺν νηυσὶ φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν· / νῶϊ δ’ ἐγὼ Σθένελός τε μαχησόμεθ’ εἰς ὅ κε τέκμωρ / ᾿Ιλίου εὕρωμεν· σὺν γὰρ θεῷ εἰλήλουθμεν, 9.47-49). This kind of confidence is infectious. Sthenelos rejects Agamemnon’s attempt to rally them in Iliad 4, declaring (4.404–410):

“Son of Atreus, don’t lie when you know how to speak clearly.
We say we are better than our fathers:
we sacked foundation of seven-gated Thebes
even though we led a smaller army before bigger walls
because we were relying on the signs of the gods and Zeus’ help.
Those men perished because of their own recklessness.
Don’t put our fathers in the same honor.”

“Ἀτρεΐδη, μὴ ψεύδε’ ἐπιστάμενος σάφα εἰπεῖν·
ἡμεῖς τοι πατέρων μέγ’ ἀμείνονες εὐχόμεθ᾿ εἶναι·
ἡμεῖς καὶ Θήβης ἕδος εἵλομεν ἑπταπύλοιο
παυρότερον λαὸν ἀγαγόνθ’ ὑπὸ τεῖχος ἄρειον,
πειθόμενοι τεράεσσι θεῶν καὶ Ζηνὸς ἀρωγῇ·
κεῖνοι δὲ σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο·
τὼ μή μοι πατέρας ποθ’ ὁμοίῃ ἔνθεο τιμῇ.”

His name means strength. He’s got a big voice and a bigger resume.

Argive vs. Cretan. Captain vs. Lieutenant. Who’s it gonna be?

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