Variants for the Iliad’s Proem

The manuscript traditions of the Iliad provide in addition to the well-known 9 line proem, a few shorter, alternate beginnings:

“An Iliad which appears to be ancient, called Apellicon’s, has this proem (available in West 2003’s Loeb as Appendix Romana B; D Scholia Prolegomenon in Rom. Bibl. Nat gr. 6):

I sing of the Muses and Apollo, known for his bow…

This is recorded by Nikanôr and Crates in his Critical Notes on the Text of the Iliad. Aristoxenus in the first book of his Praxidamanteia says that some had as the first lines:

Tell me now Muses who have Olympian Homes

How rage and anger overtook Peleus’ son

And also the shining son of Leto. For the king was enraged…”

ἡ δὲ δοκοῦσα ἀρχαία ᾿Ιλιάς, λεγομένη δὲ ᾿Απελλικῶνος, προοίμιον ἔχει τοῦτο·

Μούσας ἀείδω καὶ ᾿Απόλλωνα κλυτότοξον

ὡς καὶ Νικάνωρ μέμνηται καὶ Κράτης ἐν τοῖς διορθωτικοῖς. ᾿Αριστόξενος
δ’ ἐν α′ Πραξιδαμαντείων φησὶν κατά τινας ἔχειν·

῎Εσπετε νῦν μοι, Μοῦσαι ᾿Ολύμπια δώματ’ ἔχουσαι,
ὅππως δὴ μῆνίς τε χόλος θ’ ἕλε Πηλεΐωνα,
Λητοῦς τ’ ἀγλαὸν υἱόν· ὁ γὰρ βασιλῆι χολωθείς.

Obviously, these variant beginnings don’t signal a different poem, but they do set up the audience in different ways. The latter variants especially point to a greater emphasis (perhaps) on Apollo.

This information is crammed in the critical apparatus of Allen’s edition of the Iliad (1931):Allen Iliad 1

It is also to be found in West’s more recent edition (1998):


West Iliad 1