The Right To Criticize the King: The Iliad and Freedom of Speech

Homer, Iliad 9.32-34

“After a while, Diomedes good-at-the warcry, addressed them:
“I will fight with you first because you are being foolish, son of Atreus,
Which is right, Lord, in the assembly. So don’t get angry at all.”

ὀψὲ δὲ δὴ μετέειπε βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης·
᾿Ατρεΐδη σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι ἀφραδέοντι,
ἣ θέμις ἐστὶν ἄναξ ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς.

Schol. T ad Il. 9.32b ex

[“I will fight with you first”] “It is clear that he is also criticizing the rest of the Greeks because they are consenting to the retreat through their silence. For he says the fight in opposition to the speech.”

ex. σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι: δῆλον ὡς καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις μέμφεται ὡς συναινοῦσι τῇ φυγῇ διὰ τοῦ σιωπᾶν. μάχην δέ φησι τὴν ἐναντίωσιν τοῦ λόγου. T

Schol. A ad Il. 9.33b ex

[“which is right in the assembly, lord”] This is the custom, in a democracy. It is established in the agora because it is the custom to speak with freedom of speech [parrêsia] in the assembly.

D | Nic. ἣ θέμις <ἐστίν, ἄναξ, ἀγορῇ>: ὡς νόμος ἐστὶν—ἐν δημοκρατίᾳ. | ἐπὶ δὲ τὸ ἀγορῇ στικτέον, ὡς νόμος ἐστὶν ἐκκλησίας μετὰ παρρησίας λέγειν.

Schol. bT ad Il. 9.33 ex

[“don’t get angry at all”] this is an anticipatory warning, since he is about to criticize him more severely than he has been reproached at anytime, [alleging that it is right] to speak against kings during assemblies. He asks him to set anger aside because he believes it is right to accept advantageous truth and he is clarifying the purpose of what is said—that it is not to insult.

ex. ἣ θέμις ἐστίν, ἄναξ, <ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς>: προδιόρθωσις, ἐπειδὴ σφοδρότερον αὐτοῦ μέλλει καθάπτεσθαι ὡς ἐφιεμένου μὴ ἄλλοτε, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις ἀντιλέγειν τοῖς βασιλεῦσιν. προπαραιτεῖται δὲ τὴν ὀργήν, ἀξιῶν δέξασθαι τὴν πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον ἀλήθειαν καὶ δηλῶν ὡς τοῖς εἰρημένοις, οὐκ αὐτῷ ἀπέχθεται

Image result for ancient greek political assembly
Painting of Perikles by Philipp von Foltz

The Right To Criticize the King: The Iliad and Freedom of Speech

Homer, Iliad 9.32-34

“After a while, Diomedes good-at-the warcry, addressed them:
“I will fight with you first because you are being foolish, son of Atreus,
Which is right, Lord, in the assembly. So don’t get angry at all.”

ὀψὲ δὲ δὴ μετέειπε βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης·
᾿Ατρεΐδη σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι ἀφραδέοντι,
ἣ θέμις ἐστὶν ἄναξ ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς.

Schol. T ad Il. 9.32b ex

[“I will fight with you first”] “It is clear that he is also criticizing the rest of the Greeks because they are consenting to the retreat through their silence. For he says the fight in opposition to the speech.”

ex. σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι: δῆλον ὡς καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις μέμφεται ὡς συναινοῦσι τῇ φυγῇ διὰ τοῦ σιωπᾶν. μάχην δέ φησι τὴν ἐναντίωσιν τοῦ λόγου. T

Schol. A ad Il. 9.33b ex

[“which is right in the assembly, lord”] This is the custom, in a democracy. It is established in the agora because it is the custom to speak with freedom of speech [parrêsia] in the assembly.

D | Nic. ἣ θέμις <ἐστίν, ἄναξ, ἀγορῇ>: ὡς νόμος ἐστὶν—ἐν δημοκρατίᾳ. | ἐπὶ δὲ τὸ ἀγορῇ στικτέον, ὡς νόμος ἐστὶν ἐκκλησίας μετὰ παρρησίας λέγειν.

Schol. bT ad Il. 9.33 ex

[“don’t get angry at all”] this is an anticipatory warning, since he is about to criticize him more severely than he has been reproached at anytime, [alleging that it is right] to speak against kings during assemblies. He asks him to set anger aside because he believes it is right to accept advantageous truth and he is clarifying the purpose of what is said—that it is not to insult.

ex. ἣ θέμις ἐστίν, ἄναξ, <ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς>: προδιόρθωσις, ἐπειδὴ σφοδρότερον αὐτοῦ μέλλει καθάπτεσθαι ὡς ἐφιεμένου μὴ ἄλλοτε, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις ἀντιλέγειν τοῖς βασιλεῦσιν. προπαραιτεῖται δὲ τὴν ὀργήν, ἀξιῶν δέξασθαι τὴν πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον ἀλήθειαν καὶ δηλῶν ὡς τοῖς εἰρημένοις, οὐκ αὐτῷ ἀπέχθεται

Image result for ancient greek political assembly
Painting of Perikles by Philipp von Foltz

The Iliad, the Assembly, and Freedom of Speech

Homer, Iliad 9.32-34

“After a while, Diomedes good-at-the warcry, addressed them:
“I will fight with you first because you are being foolish, son of Atreus,
Which is right, Lord, in the assembly. So don’t get angry at all.”

ὀψὲ δὲ δὴ μετέειπε βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης·
᾿Ατρεΐδη σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι ἀφραδέοντι,
ἣ θέμις ἐστὶν ἄναξ ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς.

Schol. T ad Il. 9.32b ex

[“I will fight with you first”] “It is clear that he is also criticizing the rest of the Greeks because they are consenting to the retreat through their silence. For he says the fight in opposition to the speech.”

ex. σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι: δῆλον ὡς καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις μέμφεται ὡς συναινοῦσι τῇ φυγῇ διὰ τοῦ σιωπᾶν. μάχην δέ φησι τὴν ἐναντίωσιν τοῦ λόγου. T

Schol. A ad Il. 9.33b ex

[“which is right in the assembly, lord”] This is the custom, in a democracy. It is established in the agora because it is the custom to speak with freedom of speech [parrêsia] in the assembly.

D | Nic. ἣ θέμις <ἐστίν, ἄναξ, ἀγορῇ>: ὡς νόμος ἐστὶν—ἐν δημοκρατίᾳ. | ἐπὶ δὲ τὸ ἀγορῇ στικτέον, ὡς νόμος ἐστὶν ἐκκλησίας μετὰ παρρησίας λέγειν.

Schol. bT ad Il. 9.33 ex

[“don’t get angry at all”] this is an anticipatory warning, since he is about to criticize him more severely than he has been reproached at anytime, [alleging that it is right] to speak against kings during assemblies. He asks him to set anger aside because he believes it is right to accept advantageous truth and he his clarifying the purpose of what is said—that it is not to insult.

ex. ἣ θέμις ἐστίν, ἄναξ, <ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς>: προδιόρθωσις, ἐπειδὴ σφοδρότερον αὐτοῦ μέλλει καθάπτεσθαι ὡς ἐφιεμένου μὴ ἄλλοτε, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις ἀντιλέγειν τοῖς βασιλεῦσιν. προπαραιτεῖται δὲ τὴν ὀργήν, ἀξιῶν δέξασθαι τὴν πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον ἀλήθειαν καὶ δηλῶν ὡς τοῖς εἰρημένοις, οὐκ αὐτῷ ἀπέχθεται

Image result for ancient greek political assembly
Painting of Perikles by Philipp von Foltz

The Man is Close: Diomedes’ Turn with a Plan

In this passage, Diomedes announces his genealogy as justification for his authority to provide a plan for the other Achaean kings. Note, the women in his family receive no introductions. The scholia to this passage tell another part of his story, first explaining why Tydeus had to leave Calydon, and then why Diomedes had to leave Argos.

Homer, Iliad 14.110-132

“The man is nearby—we will not look long for him. If you are willing
To consent and each of you does not get troubled by anger
Because I am the youngest among you by birth.
I claim to be from a noble father by birth,
Tydeus, whom a heap of earth covers in Thebes.
Three blameless children were born to Portheus
And they used to live in Pleurôn and steep Kalydon:
Agrios, Melas and the third was the horseman Oeneus,
The father of my father. He was exceptional for his excellence.
But while he remained there, my father left, driven out
To Argos. This was, I guess, how Zeus and the other gods wanted it.
He married one of the daughters of Adrastos and lived in a home
Wealthy for life: he had enough wheat-bearing fields,
And there hear many orchards on all sides;
And he had many flocks. He also surpassed all the Achaeans
With a spear. You all have heard these things, if they are true.
Thus, you cannot claim that I come from low birth or I am a coward
And disregard the speech I make well for some reason.
Now, let us go to war by necessity, even though we are wounded.
There, we can keep ourselves out of the strife of the missiles,
Lest someone add a wound to a wound.
But we can go and encourage others, even those who before
Stood apart and did not fight, doing some favor for their hearts.”

ἐγγὺς ἀνήρ· οὐ δηθὰ ματεύσομεν· αἴ κʼ ἐθέλητε
πείθεσθαι, καὶ μή τι κότῳ ἀγάσησθε ἕκαστος
οὕνεκα δὴ γενεῆφι νεώτατός εἰμι μεθʼ ὑμῖν·
πατρὸς δʼ ἐξ ἀγαθοῦ καὶ ἐγὼ γένος εὔχομαι εἶναι
Τυδέος, ὃν Θήβῃσι χυτὴ κατὰ γαῖα καλύπτε
πορθεῖ γὰρ τρεῖς παῖδες ἀμύμονες ἐξεγένοντο,
οἴκεον δʼ ἐν Πλευρῶνι καὶ αἰπεινῇ Καλυδῶνι
Ἄγριος ἠδὲ Μέλας, τρίτατος δʼ ἦν ἱππότα Οἰνεὺς
πατρὸς ἐμοῖο πατήρ· ἀρετῇ δʼ ἦν ἔξοχος αὐτῶν.
ἀλλʼ ὃ μὲν αὐτόθι μεῖνε, πατὴρ δʼ ἐμὸς Ἄργεϊ νάσθη
πλαγχθείς· ὡς γάρ που Ζεὺς ἤθελε καὶ θεοὶ ἄλλοι.
Ἀδρήστοιο δʼ ἔγημε θυγατρῶν, ναῖε δὲ δῶμα
ἀφνειὸν βιότοιο, ἅλις δέ οἱ ἦσαν ἄρουραι
πυροφόροι, πολλοὶ δὲ φυτῶν ἔσαν ὄρχατοι ἀμφίς,
πολλὰ δέ οἱ πρόβατʼ ἔσκε· κέκαστο δὲ πάντας Ἀχαιοὺς
ἐγχείῃ· τὰ δὲ μέλλετʼ ἀκουέμεν, εἰ ἐτεόν περ.
τὼ οὐκ ἄν με γένος γε κακὸν καὶ ἀνάλκιδα φάντες
μῦθον ἀτιμήσαιτε πεφασμένον ὅν κʼ ἐῢ εἴπω.
δεῦτʼ ἴομεν πόλεμον δὲ καὶ οὐτάμενοί περ ἀνάγκῃ.
ἔνθα δʼ ἔπειτʼ αὐτοὶ μὲν ἐχώμεθα δηϊοτῆτος
ἐκ βελέων, μή πού τις ἐφʼ ἕλκεϊ ἕλκος ἄρηται·
ἄλλους δʼ ὀτρύνοντες ἐνήσομεν, οἳ τὸ πάρος περ
θυμῷ ἦρα φέροντες ἀφεστᾶσʼ οὐδὲ μάχονται.

Schol. ad. Il. 14.114b

“Tydeus, the son of Oineus and Periboia the daughter of Hippotos. He killed his cousins who were conspiring against Oieneus, Lykopeus and Alkathoos, accidentally, he also killed with them his uncle Melanas who was dining with them. After he fled the murder, he went to Argos; and once he was purified by Adrastos, he married his daughter Dêipulê.”

b(BCE3E4)T ὁ δὲ Τυδεὺς Οἰνέως καὶ Περιβοίας τῆς ῾Ιππότου· ὃς ἀνεψιοὺς ἐπιβουλεύοντας Οἰνεῖ Λυκωπέα καὶ ᾿Αλκάθουν ἀπέκτεινεν †ἀγρόθι†, σὺν αὐτοῖς δὲ ἄκων καὶ τὸν πατράδελφον Μέλανα (συνεδαίνυτο γὰρ αὐτοῖς) καὶ φεύγων τὸν φόνον ἧκεν ἐς ῎Αργος καὶ καθαρθεὶς ὑπὸ ᾿Αδράστου γαμεῖ Δηϊπύλην τὴν θυγατέρα αὐτοῦ. T

Scholia D ad Il. 5.412

“Aigialeia, was the youngest of the daughters of Adrastos. For Adrastos had three daughters, this one [Aigialeia, who married Diomedes], Argeia, Polyneikos’ wife, and Dêipulê, Tydeus’ wife”

Διομήδους γυνὴ Αἰγιάλεια, ἡ νεωτάτη τῶν ᾿Αδράστου θυγατέρων. Τρεῖς γὰρ ἔσχε θυγατέρας ὁ ῎Αδραστος· ταύτην, καὶ ᾿Αργείαν τὴν Πολυνείκους, καὶ Δηϊπύλην τὴν Τυδέως. Τῆς οὖν μητρὸς αὐτοῦ”

And then the scholion continues….

But he, after he went to Troy, left Sthenelos’ son Komêtês, as an overseer of his position and household. The story goes as follows. Aphrodite, although she was wounded by Diomedes, could not bring up her hatred of him because of the alliance with Athena, so she made his wife crazy about screwing so that she yielded to every age of the young men as she engaged in outrages. [Aphrodite] also filled Komêtês with lust of Agialeia. When Diomedes returned from Troy, he pursued him with spearmen wising to kill him. Diomedes, benefiting from the weakness of his opponents, fled to the altar of Hera. After that, he went to the west and it is said he received some land for a colony from Daunos. And finally, when his companions were impoverished and starving, Athena turned them into herons and then Diomedes ended his life. This story is recorded by Lykophron. The Poet does not mention this account.”

῾Ο δὲ, στρατεύσας ἐς ῎Ιλιον, κατέλιπε τῆς ἀρχῆς καὶ τῆς οἰκίας ἐπίτροπον τὸν Σθενέλου Κομήτην. Κατέχει δὲ ὁ λόγος· τρωθεῖσαν τὴν ᾿Αφροδίτην ὑπὸ Διομήδους, αὐτῷ μὲν μὴ μνησικακῆσαι, διὰ τὴν τῆς ᾿Αθηνᾶς ἐπικουρίαν, τὴν δὲ τούτου γυναῖκα ἐκμῆναι περὶ πορνείαν, ὡς περὶ πᾶσαν τὴν τῶν νέων ἡλικίαν συγχορεύειν ἀσελγαίνουσαν· τῷ δὲ Κομήτῃ καὶ ἔρωτα τῆς Αἰγιαλείας ἐμποιῆσαι. παραγενόμενον δὲ τὸν Διομήδην ἐξ ᾿Ιλίου, διώκειν μετὰ δορυφόρων, ἀποκτεῖναι βουλόμενον· τὸν δὲ λοιπὸν, τοῖς ἀσθενέσι βοηθήμασι χρώμενον, καταφυγεῖν ἐπὶ τὸν ῎Ηρας βωμόν. Μετὰ ταῦτα δὲ ἀπῇρεν εἰς ῾Εσπερίαν, καὶ παραλαβεῖν λέγεται παρὰ Δαύνου [τόπους] τινὰς εἰς κατοικισμόν. Καὶ τέλος, ἀπορούντων αὐτοῦ τῶν ἑταίρων, καὶ λιμωττόντων, τούτους μὲν τὴν ᾿Αθηνᾶν εἰς ἐρωδιοὺς ἀπορνεῶσαι, τὸν Διομήδην δὲ ἐνταῦθα καταστρέψαι τὸν βίον. ῾Η δὲ ἱστορία παρὰ Λυκόφρονι. Ταύτην δὲ τὴν ἱστορίαν ὁ Ποιητὴς οὐ λέγει.

 

Image result for Diomedes ancient greek

Diomedes, Worse and Better than His Father

Homer, Iliad 4. 370-400

Agamemnon criticizes Diomedes for not rushing into battle by telling him a story of his father. As a side note, Tydeus might not be the best example: he ate human brains.

“Oh man, son of wise-minded Tydeus the horse-tamer,
Why are you lurking, why are you peeping over the bridges of war?
It wasn’t dear to Tydeus, at least, to lurk like this,
But he fought with his enemies far in front of his companions—
That’s what those who saw him toiling say. I never met the man myself
Nor saw him. But they say he was better than the rest.
For, certainly, he went to Mycenae outside of war
As a guest when he was gathering an army with godly Polyneikos.
Then, they went on an expedition to the sacred walls of Thebes,
And they were begging that famous allies would join them.
They were willing to go and they were assenting to what they asked
Until Zeus changed their minds by revealing fateful signs.
So then, after they left and were on the road,
They arrived at the Asopos, deep in reeds and grass
And the Achaeans Tydeus forward on embassy.
There, stranger though he was, horse-driver Tydeus
was not frightened, alone among many Cadmeans.
But he challenged them to contests and won victory in all
easily. Such a guardian was Athena for your father!
But the Cadmeans, drivers of horses, were angered
and, as he departed from the city, they set up a close ambush
of fifty youths; there were two leaders,
Maeon, son of Haemon, peer of the immortals,
and Autophonus’ son, Polyphontes, staunch in fight.
But Tydeus let loose on them a unseemly fate:
he slew them all and only one man he sent to return home:
he sent Maion, trusting in the signs of the gods.
Such a man was Aitolian Tydeus; but he fathered a son
weaker than he in battle, but better in the assembly.”

“ὤ μοι Τυδέος υἱὲ δαΐφρονος ἱπποδάμοιο
τί πτώσσεις, τί δʼ ὀπιπεύεις πολέμοιο γεφύρας;
οὐ μὲν Τυδέϊ γʼ ὧδε φίλον πτωσκαζέμεν ἦεν,
ἀλλὰ πολὺ πρὸ φίλων ἑτάρων δηΐοισι μάχεσθαι,
ὡς φάσαν οἵ μιν ἴδοντο πονεύμενον· οὐ γὰρ ἔγωγε
ἤντησʼ οὐδὲ ἴδον· περὶ δʼ ἄλλων φασὶ γενέσθαι.
ἤτοι μὲν γὰρ ἄτερ πολέμου εἰσῆλθε Μυκήνας
ξεῖνος ἅμʼ ἀντιθέῳ Πολυνείκεϊ λαὸν ἀγείρων·
οἳ δὲ τότʼ ἐστρατόωνθʼ ἱερὰ πρὸς τείχεα Θήβης,
καί ῥα μάλα λίσσοντο δόμεν κλειτοὺς ἐπικούρους·
οἳ δʼ ἔθελον δόμεναι καὶ ἐπῄνεον ὡς ἐκέλευον·
ἀλλὰ Ζεὺς ἔτρεψε παραίσια σήματα φαίνων.
οἳ δʼ ἐπεὶ οὖν ᾤχοντο ἰδὲ πρὸ ὁδοῦ ἐγένοντο,
Ἀσωπὸν δʼ ἵκοντο βαθύσχοινον λεχεποίην,
ἔνθʼ αὖτʼ ἀγγελίην ἐπὶ Τυδῆ στεῖλαν Ἀχαιοί.
αὐτὰρ ὃ βῆ, πολέας δὲ κιχήσατο Καδμεΐωνας
δαινυμένους κατὰ δῶμα βίης Ἐτεοκληείης.
ἔνθʼ οὐδὲ ξεῖνός περ ἐὼν ἱππηλάτα Τυδεὺς
τάρβει, μοῦνος ἐὼν πολέσιν μετὰ Καδμείοισιν,
ἀλλʼ ὅ γʼ ἀεθλεύειν προκαλίζετο, πάντα δʼ ἐνίκα
ῥηϊδίως· τοίη οἱ ἐπίρροθος ἦεν Ἀθήνη.
οἳ δὲ χολωσάμενοι Καδμεῖοι κέντορες ἵππων
ἂψ ἄρʼ ἀνερχομένῳ πυκινὸν λόχον εἷσαν ἄγοντες
κούρους πεντήκοντα· δύω δʼ ἡγήτορες ἦσαν,
Μαίων Αἱμονίδης ἐπιείκελος ἀθανάτοισιν,
υἱός τʼ Αὐτοφόνοιο μενεπτόλεμος Πολυφόντης.
Τυδεὺς μὲν καὶ τοῖσιν ἀεικέα πότμον ἐφῆκε·
πάντας ἔπεφνʼ, ἕνα δʼ οἶον ἵει οἶκον δὲ νέεσθαι·
Μαίονʼ ἄρα προέηκε θεῶν τεράεσσι πιθήσας.
τοῖος ἔην Τυδεὺς Αἰτώλιος· ἀλλὰ τὸν υἱὸν
γείνατο εἷο χέρεια μάχῃ, ἀγορῇ δέ τʼ ἀμείνω.”

Schol. ad Il. 4.400a

“[but you] are better in the assembly”: For Tydeus had no part of speech. Antimakhos claims that Tydeus was raised among swineherds; Euripides [says] “he was not clever with words, but with the shield” (Suppl. 902). [Agamemnon] speaks persuasively because he is taking precautions against this speaker, in order that he might be reluctant to respond in defense. For this reason, Diomedes says nothing.”

ἀγορῇ δέ τ’ ἀμείνω: οὐ γὰρ μετεῖχε λόγου Τυδεύς. b | ᾿Αντίμαχός (fr. 13 W.) φησι παρὰ συφορβοῖς τετράφθαι Τυδέα, Εὐριπίδης δὲ „οὐκ ἐν λόγοις ἦν δεινός, ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀσπίδι” (Suppl. 902). | πιθανῶς δὲ προφυλαξάμενος ἀγορητὴν αὐτόν φησιν, ἵνα πρὸς τὴν ἀπολογίαν ὀκνήσῃ· διὸ οὐδὲν προσφθέγγεται ὁ Διομήδης.
A b (BCE3E4)T

 

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‘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

 

What’s Special About Thebes? Two Fragments from Sophokles

Sophocles fr. 773

“Do you say to me concerning Thebes and its seven gates
That it is the only place where mortal women give birth to gods?

Θήβας λέγεις μοι καὶ πύλας ἑπταστόμους,
οὗ δὴ μόνον τίκτουσιν αἱ θνηταὶ θεούς

from Heraclides On the Cities of Greece, 1, 17

Fr. 799 (Odysseus to Diomedes)

“I will say nothing terrible to you, not how
You wander the earth an exile from your father hand,
Nor how your father killed a blood relative
And then settled as a foreigner in Argos or even
How right before the walls of Thebes he made a meal of human flesh
When he cut off the head of the child of Astacus.”

ΟΔΥΣΣΕΥΣ (τῷ Διομήδει)•
ἐγὼ δ’ ἐρῶ σοι δεινὸν οὐδέν, οὔθ’ ὅπως
φυγὰς πατρῴας ἐξελήλασαι χθονός,
οὔθ’ ὡς ὁ Τυδεὺς ἀνδρὸς αἷμα συγγενὲς
κτείνας ἐν ῎Αργει ξεῖνος ὢν οἰκίζεται,
οὔθ’ ὡς πρὸ Θηβῶν ὠμοβρὼς ἐδαίσατο
τὸν ᾿Αστάκειον παῖδα διὰ κάρα τεμών