Bring Home Hektor’s Bones

The Iliad ends with the burial of Hektor, but the mythographical tradition would not let him lie in peace. There is a tradition for the exhumation and the reburial of his remains.

Aristodemos BNJ383 F7 [“Brill’s New Jacoby”=Schol. AB ad Il. 13.1]

“the Trojans and Hektor”: He has separated Hektor in particular from the rest of the Trojans. Following the sack of Troy, Hektor the son of Priam obtained honor from the gods after death. For the Thebans in Boiotia were beset by evils and solicited a prophecy about their deliverance. The oracle told them that they would stop the troubles if they would transfer the bones of Hektor from Ophrunion in the Troad to a place in their land called the “birthplace of Zeus”. They, once they did this and were freed from the evils, maintained the honors for Hektor and during hard times they used to call for his manifestation. This is the account in Aristodemos.

Τρῶάς τε καὶ ῞Εκτορα] κεχώρικε τῶν λοιπῶν Τρώων τὸν ῞Εκτορα κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν. μετὰ δὲ τὴν ᾽Ιλίου πόρθησιν ῞Εκτωρ ὁ Πριάμου καὶ μετὰ τὸν θάνατον τὴν ἀπὸ θεῶν εὐτύχησε τιμήν· οἱ γὰρ ἐν Βοιωτίαι Θηβαῖοι πιεζόμενοι κακοῖς ἐμαντεύοντο περὶ ἀπαλλαγῆς· χρησμὸς δὲ αὐτοῖς ἐδόθη παύσεσθαι τὰ δεινά, ἐὰν ἐξ ᾽Οφρυνίου τῆς Τρωάδος τὰ ῞Εκτορος ὀστᾶ διακομισθῶσιν εἰς τὸν παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς καλούμενον τόπον Διὸς γονάς. οἱ δὲ τοῦτο ποιήσαντες καὶ τῶν κακῶν ἀπαλλαγέντες διὰ τιμῆς ἔσχον ῞Εκτορα, κατά τε τοὺς ἐπείγοντας καιροὺς ἐπικαλοῦνται τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ. ἡ ἱστορία παρὰ ᾽Αριστοδήμωι.

Pausanias, 9.18.5

“At Thebes there is also the grave of Hektor, Priam’s son. It is next to a spring called the Oedipus Spring. The Thebans say that they brought the bones from Troy to this place because of the following oracle:

Thebans living in the in the city of Kadmos,
If you want to live in a country with blameless wealth
Bring the bones of Hektor, Priam’s son, home
From Asia to be honored as a hero in accordance with Zeus

The spring was named after Oedipus because it was the same place where Oedipus washed off the blood from his father’s murder

Ἔστι δὲ καὶ Ἕκτορος Θηβαίοις τάφος τοῦ Πριάμου πρὸς Οἰδιποδίᾳ καλουμένῃ κρήνῃ, κομίσαι δὲ αὐτοῦ τὰ ὀστᾶ ἐξ Ἰλίου φασὶν ἐπὶ τοιῷδε μαντεύματι·
Θηβαῖοι Κάδμοιο πόλιν καταναιετάοντες,
αἴ κ᾿ ἐθέλητε πάτραν οἰκεῖν σὺν ἀμύμονι πλούτῳ,
Ἕκτορος ὀστέα Πριαμίδου κομίσαντες ἐς οἴκους
ἐξ Ἀσίης Διὸς ἐννεσίῃσ᾿ ἥρωα σέβεσθαι.

Lykophron in his Alexandra alludes to a strange tale of the transfer of Hektor’s remains from Troy to Thebes.  Since Lykophron is virtually unreadable, here is the account from scholia (Schol. In Lykrophon 1194):

“They say that when there was a famine in Greece Apollo decreed that they should transfer the bones of Hektor, which were at the place called Ophrunos, from Troy to some city in Greece which did not take part in the expedition against Troy.* When the Greeks realized that Thebes in Boiotia had not fought against Troy, they retrieved the remains of the hero and installed them there.”

φασὶν ὅτι λοιμοῦ κατασχόντος τὴν ῾Ελλάδα ἔχρησεν ὁ ᾿Απόλλων τὰ τοῦ ῞Εκτορος ὀστᾶ κείμενα ἐν ᾿Οφρυνῷ τόπῳ Τροίας μετενεγκεῖν ἐπί τινα πόλιν ῾Ελληνίδα ἐν τιμῇ <οὖσαν> μὴ μετασχοῦσαν τῆς ἐπὶ ῎Ιλιον στρατείας. οἱ δὲ ῞Ελληνες εὑρόντες τὰς ἐν Βοιωτίᾳ Θήβας μὴ στρατευσαμένας ἐπὶ ῎Ιλιον ἐνεγκόντες τὰ τοῦ ἥρωος λείψανα ἔθηκαν αὐτὰ ἐκεῖσε.

* In the Iliad, though the Boiotians (2.494-510) are named prominently in the catalogue of ships alongside the prominent city of Orchomenos (511-516), only Hypothebes is mentioned alongside recognizable topographical features of Thebes (οἵ θ’ ῾Υποθήβας εἶχον ἐϋκτίμενον πτολίεθρον, 505). One explanation for this is that “The place below Thebes” is the settlement surviving after the Epigonoi sacked the city. Diomedes, prominent in the Iliad, was instrumental in that expedition. In mythical time, then, Thebes was a ruined city for the advent of the expedition against Thebes.

The transfer of heroic remains is reported frequently in ancient texts. For Theseus’ bones see: Plut. Vit. Cim. 8.57; Vit. Thes. 36.1–4; Paus. 1.17.6, 3.3.7.  Cf. Hdt. 167-68; Paus 3.3.6 for Orestes’ bones. McCauley (1999) identifies 13 different instances of the transfer of remains in ancient Greece, with 9 of them being clearly political in motivation.

Simon Hornblower accepts that the cult of Hektor at Thebes was historical. One suggestion for this (Schachter 1981-94: 1.233-4) is that when Kassandros re-founded Thebes in 316 BCE he consciously affiliated with Hektor in response to Alexander’s earlier association with Achilles (Kassandros had a great enmity for Alexander). Hornblower (427) also posits the bone tale as an instance of rivalry between Thebes and Athens as part of Thebes establishing a connection in the Hellespont to challenge Athenian commercial interests in the region. The first suggestion places the bone transfer tale after 316 BCE; the second dates it back to 365. Hornblower suggests that there were two stages involved with an oracle being reported c. 465 BCE (428) and the bones being retrieved near the end of the century.

Image result for Hector ancient greek vase

A. Schachter, Cults of Boeotia1–4 (London, 1981-1994).

Hornblower, Simon 203. Lykophron: Alexandra. Oxford.

McCauley, B. 1999. “Heroes and Power: The Politics of Bone Transferal.” In R. Hägg (ed.) Ancient Greek Hero Cult. Stockholm, 1999:85-98

Phillips, D. D. 2003. “The Bones of Orestes and Spartan Foreign Policy.” In Gestures: Essays in Ancient History, Literature, and Philosophy Presented to Alan L. Boegehold, edited by G. W. Bakewell and J. P. Sickinger, 301–16. Oxford.

[Martial Wants] A Lucretia on the Street, but a Lais Between the Sheets (Epigram 11.104)

“Wife, leave my house or adopt my ways!
I am not a Curius, a Numa or a Tatius.
Nights made happy with drink please me:
But you hurry to leave with water to drink.
You love the shadows, but I’m happy to play
With a lamp as witness or with light let in on my ‘bulge’.
Tunics and obscuring robes must cover you:
But no girl could ever be naked enough for me!
Kisses to mimic eager doves delight me;
But you give those from a grandmother’s ‘good morning’.
It is beneath you to help out with movement or voice,
Not even fingers, as if you were readying incense and wine.
Phrygian slaves used to masturbate outside the door
Whenever the wife sat atop her Hectorean ‘horse’;
Chaste Penelope always used to keep her hand down there,
Even when the Ithacan was snoring!
You won’t abide anal sex! Cornelia permitted this to Gracchus!
Julia allowed Pompey; Porcia bent for you, Brutus!
When the Dardanian was not yet his servant mixing sweet wine,
Juno was Jupiter’s Ganymede.
If you want to be grave, then be Lucretia all day
But at night I want a Lais.”

Uxor, vade foras aut moribus utere nostris:
non sum ego nec Curius nec Numa nec Tatius.
Me jucunda juvant tractae per pocula noctes:
tu properas pota surgere tristis aqua.
Tu tenebris gaudes: me ludere teste lucerna
et juvat admissa rumpere luce latus.
Fascia te tunicaeque obscuraque pallia celant:
at mihi nulla satis nuda puella jacet.
basia me capiunt blandas imitata columbas:
tu mihi das aviae qualia mane soles.
Nec motu dignaris opus nec voce juvare
nec digitis, tamquam tura merumque pares:
masturbabantur Phrygii post ostia servi,
Hectoreo quotiens sederat uxor equo,
et quamvis Ithaco stertente pudica solebat
illic Penelope semper habere manum.
Pedicare negas: dabat hoc Cornelia Graccho,
Julia Pompeio, Porcia, Brute, tibi;
dulcia Dardanio nondum miscente ministro
pocula Juno fuit pro Ganymede Jovi.
Si te delectat gravitas, Lucretia toto
sis licet usque die: Laida nocte volo.

*Lais was a name for a prostitute from the time of the Peloponnesian War.

The Greeks Couldn’t Let Him Rest in Peace: The Transfer of Hector’s Bones

Lykophron in his Alexandra alludes to a strange tale of the transfer of Hektor’s remains from Troy to Thebes.  Since Lykophron is virtually unreadable, here is the account from scholia (Schol. In Lykrophon 1194):

“They say that when there was a famine in Greece Apollo decreed that they should transfer the bones of Hektor, which were at the place called Ophrunos , from Troy to some city in Greece which did not take part in the expedition against Troy.* When the Greeks realized that Thebes in Boiotia had not fought against Troy, they retrieved the remains of the hero and installed them there.”

φασὶν ὅτι λοιμοῦ κατασχόντος τὴν ῾Ελλάδα ἔχρησεν ὁ ᾿Απόλλων τὰ τοῦ ῞Εκτορος ὀστᾶ κείμενα ἐν ᾿Οφρυνῷ τόπῳ Τροίας μετενεγκεῖν ἐπί τινα πόλιν ῾Ελληνίδα ἐν τιμῇ <οὖσαν> μὴ μετασχοῦσαν τῆς ἐπὶ ῎Ιλιον στρατείας. οἱ δὲ ῞Ελληνες εὑρόντες τὰς ἐν Βοιωτίᾳ Θήβας μὴ στρατευσαμένας ἐπὶ ῎Ιλιον ἐνεγκόντες τὰ τοῦ ἥρωος λείψανα ἔθηκαν αὐτὰ ἐκεῖσε.

* In the Iliad, though the Boiotians (2.494-510) are named prominently in the catalogue of ships alongside the prominent city of Orchomenos (511-516), only Hypothebes is mentioned alongside recognizable topographical features of Thebes (οἵ θ’ ῾Υποθήβας εἶχον ἐϋκτίμενον πτολίεθρον, 505). One explanation for this is that “The place below Thebes” is the settlement surviving after the Epigonoi sacked the city. Diomedes, prominent in the Iliad, was instrumental in that expedition. In mythical time, then, Thebes was a ruined city for the advent of the expedition against Thebes.

Homer, Iliad 7.81-91: Both Victor and Vanquished win Glory (A Consolation before the Superbowl)

“If I kill him and Apollo grants me that moment of victory,
I’ll gather up his arms and take them to sacred Ilion
where I will dedicate them in the temple of far-shooting Apollo.
Then I will return his corpse to the well-benched ships
so that the fine-haired Achaians may bury him
and heap up a burial mound on the wide Hellespont.
Then someday one of the later-born men may say
as he sails by in a many-locked ship on the wine-faced sea:
‘This is the gravemarker of a man who died long ago,
a man glorious Hector killed when he was at his best.’
So someone someday will say: and my glory will never perish.”

εἰ δέ κ’ ἐγὼ τὸν ἕλω, δώῃ δέ μοι εὖχος ᾿Απόλλων,
τεύχεα σύλησας οἴσω προτὶ ῎Ιλιον ἱρήν,
καὶ κρεμόω προτὶ νηὸν ᾿Απόλλωνος ἑκάτοιο,
τὸν δὲ νέκυν ἐπὶ νῆας ἐϋσσέλμους ἀποδώσω,
ὄφρά ἑ ταρχύσωσι κάρη κομόωντες ᾿Αχαιοί,
σῆμά τέ οἱ χεύωσιν ἐπὶ πλατεῖ ῾Ελλησπόντῳ.
καί ποτέ τις εἴπῃσι καὶ ὀψιγόνων ἀνθρώπων
νηῒ πολυκλήϊδι πλέων ἐπὶ οἴνοπα πόντον•
ἀνδρὸς μὲν τόδε σῆμα πάλαι κατατεθνηῶτος,
ὅν ποτ’ ἀριστεύοντα κατέκτανε φαίδιμος ῞Εκτωρ.
ὥς ποτέ τις ἐρέει• τὸ δ’ ἐμὸν κλέος οὔ ποτ’ ὀλεῖται.

Too often we use war metaphors to talk about sports—the reasons are simple, most of us act as spectators in both and sports are quite obviously ritualized substitutes as honor competitions. But the stakes are far from the same. At some level, the implied equivalence is a great insult to those who do risk their lives and all of the non-combatants who suffer.

Of course, I offer this as a prelude to the fact that I do irrationally care about the outcome of tonight’s Superbowl. While it might be of little solace to the players (and even less than the fans) that victor and vanquished are united in the story that comes after (and during) the event, Hektor offered some comfort in the speech above. For whatever its worth, it was the comfort that he probably needed most himself.

And don’t hate me: as a New Englander (in exile) it is my sacred duty to root for the Patriots.

Homer, Iliad 8.145-156

Diomedes, that expert of the war-cry, answered him thus:

“Yes, sir, you have indeed spoken truly, but this dread burden sets upon my heart and spirit, that one day, Hector will say when he is boasting among the Trojans, ‘The son of Tydeus, in his fear of me, retreated to his ships!’ Thus will he boast; and on that day, I hope the earth will swallow me in her dusty jaws.”

Nestor, the Gerenian horseman answered him thus:

“What a thing to say, thou burning-hearted son of Tydeus. If Hector should call you a knave or a coward, neither Trojan nor Dardanian will believe him, nor especially the wives of the great-spirited Trojan soldiers, since you have cast their once-stout husbands into the dirt.”

Τὸν δ’ ἠμείβετ’ ἔπειτα βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης·

ναὶ δὴ ταῦτά γε πάντα γέρον κατὰ μοῖραν ἔειπες·

ἀλλὰ τόδ’ αἰνὸν ἄχος κραδίην καὶ θυμὸν ἱκάνει·

῞Εκτωρ γάρ ποτε φήσει ἐνὶ Τρώεσσ’ ἀγορεύων·

Τυδεΐδης ὑπ’ ἐμεῖο φοβεύμενος ἵκετο νῆας.

ὥς ποτ’ ἀπειλήσει· τότε μοι χάνοι εὐρεῖα χθών.

Τὸν δ’ ἠμείβετ’ ἔπειτα Γερήνιος ἱππότα Νέστωρ·

ὤ μοι Τυδέος υἱὲ δαΐφρονος, οἷον ἔειπες.

εἴ περ γάρ σ’ ῞Εκτωρ γε κακὸν καὶ ἀνάλκιδα φήσει,

ἀλλ’ οὐ πείσονται Τρῶες καὶ Δαρδανίωνες

καὶ Τρώων ἄλοχοι μεγαθύμων ἀσπιστάων,

τάων ἐν κονίῃσι βάλες θαλεροὺς παρακοίτας.

Metagenes, fr. 19 (Athenaeaus 270e): Mocking Homer and Hector

 

 

“One bird-omen is best: fight for your dinner!”

εἵς οἰωνὸς ἄριστος ἀμύνεσθαι περὶ δείπνου

 

This is really only funny if you know the line being mocked: Iliad 12.243 when Hector says:

 

“One bird-omen is best: defend your fatherland”

 

εἷς οἰωνὸς ἄριστος ἀμύνεσθαι περὶ πάτρης.

 

See what he did? He changed the last word! Shoot, you canjoin in on the fun and choose almost any Greek word in the genitive! Any suggestions?

 

Metagenes? A funnyman so renowned that he is not in Wikipedia. Another Old Attic Comic.

 

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