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.

More Byzantine Etymologies: Kas(s)andra

 

From the introduction to the Scholia to Lykophron’s Alexandra by John Tzetzes and his brother Isaac:

“That is a sufficient beginning. Let us talk now about the title. Why did Lykophron call this poem the Alexandra? It stands apart from the rest of his collective writings. For I said before that he wrote many plays in the tragic form. The name Kasandra is said to derive from “manly helmet” [kasis + anêr] Hektor has—and is written in the Aeolic dialect with two sigmas. Alexandra is from avoiding or fleeing the company of men [aluksô+andras] or otherwise from warding off and helping men [aleksô+andras] and human beings through oracles. But these things are rather [cold?]; still, we have to record them because there are fools who are at a loss about these trifles. Here’s another: what is the reason that he is called Lykophron? They say it is because he is riddling and cunning; wolves are also wise, you see.”

᾿Αλλὰ ταῦτα μὲν ἀρκούντως ἐρρέθη, λέξωμεν δὲ καὶ  περὶ τῆς ἐπιγραφῆς· διὰ τί Λυκόφρονος ᾿Αλεξάνδρα ἐπεγράφη τὸ παρὸν ποίημα; πρὸς ἀντιδιαστολὴν τῶν λοιπῶν τοῦ Λυκόφρονος συγγραμμάτων· εἶπον γὰρ ὅτι ξδ′ ἢ μϚ′ τραγωδιῶν ἐποίησε δράματα. Κασάνδρα δὲ λέγεται παρὰ τὸ κάσιν ἀνδρεῖον ἔχειν τὸν ῞Εκτορα αἰολικῶς δὲ γράφεται διὰ δύο ςσ ᾿Αλεξάνδρα δὲ ἢ παρὰ τὸ ἀλύξαι καὶ ἐκφυγεῖν τὴν τῶν ἀνδρῶν συνουσίαν ἢ παρὰ τὸ ἀλέξειν καὶ βοηθεῖν τοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἤτοι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις διὰ τῶν χρησμῶν. ταῦτα δὲ καὶ ψυχρά εἰσιν, ὅμως διά τινας τῶν μωρῶν τῶν τοιαῦτα λῆρα ἀπορούντων γραπτέον καὶ ταῦτα. *ὡς* καὶ τὸ διὰ τί λέγεται Λυκόφρων; διὰ τὸ αἰνιγματωδῶς καὶ πανούργως λέγειν· καὶ γὰρ οἱ λύκοι πανοῦργοι.Cassandra

Some [Crazy?] Etymologies for Comedy and Tragedy

From the introduction to the Scholia to Lykophron’s Alexandra by John Tzetzes or his brother Isaac:

“Comedy is named either because of the time of the revel (kôma), since it was developed near sleep; because of the neighborhoods which are in the narrow streets (kômais); because of the villages (kômais) in the open countries; or because it developed in the vales (kômais) and places of Dionysus. But tragedy takes its name from the tragos or truga which is new wine: since in early times they anointed their heads with the raw wine. Or, they call it tragedy because they stand in a square (tetragônôs); or it turns from trakhodia into tragodia because they take their laments from harsh songs. Satyr-play is named from the satyrs who invented it or from the farmers and poor men.

καὶ κωμωδία δὲ κλήθη ἢ ὅτι κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦ κώματος ἤτοι τοῦ ὕπνου εὑρέθη ἢ ὅτι ἐν ταῖς κώμαις τουτέστι ταῖς στενωπαῖς ἢ ὅτι ἐν ταῖς κώμαις τουτέστι τοῖς μεγίστοις χωρίοις ἢ ὅτι ἐν ταῖς κώμαις καὶ τόποις τοῦ Διονύσου εὑρέθη. ἡ δὲ τραγωδία  ἀπὸ τοῦ τράγον ἢ τρύγα λαμβάνειν τουτέστι *νέον* οἶνον ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ τρύγα χρίεσθαι τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν κατ’ ἀρχάς· ἢ ὅτι τετραγώνως ἵσταντο, τετραγωδία ἐκλήθη ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ τραχείας ὠδὰς ἔχειν τοὺς θρήνους τραχωδία καὶ τραγωδία. ἡ σατυρικὴ δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν σατύρων ἐκλήθη τῶν εὑρόντων αὐτὴν ἤτοι γεωργῶν καὶ εὐτελῶν ἀνθρώπων.

As in the case of dithyramb, this seems largely summarized from a contemporary dictionary, as in:

Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. tragodia:

“Tragedy: This is the dramatic performance of heroic lives and stories. It is called tragoidia because the prize that was given to the song was a goat [tragos têi oidê]. The song was thus the tragoidia. Or, those who won the competition took truga [“ripe grapes; or new wine”] as a prize. The ancients used to call new wine truga. Or, it is called this because the chorus had a four-sided shape [tetragônon]. Or because the choruses were composed of satyrs whom they used to call ‘goats’ [tragous] because they resembled them either because of their hairy bodies or because of their sexual zeal. For the animal was like that. Or tragedy is from the lees of wine [trugos]. This name has something in common with comedy, so the names of each type of poetry should be distinguished.

 

There was one prize for the latter, which is the truks [“new wine, lees”]. Later, tragedy had a common name [for the two?]. But the latter was named comedy since they used to perform them in the revels during the festivals for Dionysus and Demeter. This name came from “reveling” [kômazein] which is the song at the revel. This was developed at the time near sleep. Or it is the song of villagers [komêtai]. For larger rustic settlements are called kômai. Some farmers who were harmed by the citizens of Athens departed near the time of sleep. And those who lived near the roads used to refer to these wrongs which they suffered periphrastically. Thus, someone waits there and performs these deeds and others; as a results, there was to the injustice.

 

Τραγωιδία: ῎Εστι βίων τε καὶ λόγων ἡρωϊκῶν μίμησις. Κέκληται δὲ τραγῳδία, ὅτι τράγος τῇ ᾠδῇ ἆθλον ἐτίθετο· ᾠδὴ γὰρ ἡ τραγῳδία. ῍Η ὅτι τρύγα ἆθλον ἐλάμβανον οἱ νικῶντες· τρύγα γὰρ ἐκάλουν οἱ παλαιοὶ τὸν νέον οἶνον. ῍Η ὅτι τετράγωνον εἶχον οἱ χοροὶ σχῆμα· ἢ ὅτι τὰ πολλὰ οἱ χοροὶ ἐκ σατύρων συνίσταντο· οὓς ἐκάλουν τράγους, σκώπτοντες, ἢ διὰ τὴν τοῦ σώματος δασύτητα, ἢ διὰ τὴν περὶ τὰ ἀφροδίσια σπουδήν· τοιοῦτον γὰρ τὸ ζῷον. ῍Η ὅτι οἱ χορευταὶ τὰς κόμας ἀνέπλεκον, σχῆμα τράγων μιμούμενοι. ῍Η ἀπὸ τῆς τρυγὸς τρυγῳδία. ῏Ην δὲ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦτο κοινὸν καὶ πρὸς τὴν κωμῳδίαν· ἐπεὶ οὔπω διεκέκριτο τὰ τῆς ποιήσεως ἑκατέρας· ἀλλ’ εἰς αὐτὴν ἓν ἦν τὸ ἆθλον, ἡ τρύξ· ὕστερον δὲ τὸ μὲν κοινὸν ὄνομα ἔσχεν ἡ τραγῳδία· ἡ δὲ κωμῳδία ὠνόμασται, ἐπειδὴ πρότερον κατὰ κώμας ἔλεγον αὐτὰ ἐν ταῖς ἑορταῖς τοῦ Διονύσου καὶ τῆς Δήμητρος· ἢ παρὰ τὸ κωμάζειν, ἡ ἐπὶ τῷ κώματι ᾠδή· ἐπειδὴ ἐπὶ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦ ὕπνου τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐφευρέθη· ἢ ἡ τῶν κωμητῶν ᾠδή· κῶμαι γὰρ λέγονται οἱ μείζονες ἀγροί. Βλαπτόμενοι γάρ τινες γεωργοὶ παρὰ τῶν ἐν ᾿Αθήνῃσι πολιτῶν, κατῄεσαν περὶ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦ ὕπνου· καὶ περιϊόντες τὰς ἀγυιὰς, ἔλεγον ἀνωνυμὶ τὰς βλάβας ἃς ἔπασχον ὑπ’ αὐτῶν· οἷον, ἐνταῦθα μένει τὶς τὰ καὶ τὰ ποιῶν· καὶ ἐκ τούτου ἀνοχὴ τῶν ἀδικιῶν ἐγίνετο.

 

Comedy Vase
All Just Fools For Words

A Hellenistic Lament for Odysseus

“Poor man—it would have been better for you to remain at home,
Driving oxen and keeping the working donkey
Still under the yoke alongside them.
Better to languish in your pretended madness
than to endure the limits of such great pains.”

ὦ σχέτλι’, ὥς σοι κρεῖσσον ἦν μίμνειν πάτρᾳ
βοηλατοῦντα καὶ τὸν ἐργάτην μύκλον
κάνθων’ ὑπὸ ζεύγλαισι μεσσαβοῦν ἔτι
πλασταῖσι λύσσης μηχαναῖς οἰστρημένον
ἢ τηλικῶνδε πεῖραν ὀτλῆσαι κακῶν.

Lykophron is a bit strange and quite obscure, but this bit is nice. In some traditions, Odysseus acted crazy and plowed his field in circles (until, with a threat to his infant son Telemachus, he was shown to be faking it). According to Lykophron, the odd thing is that he yoked a donkey in with the oxen. Obviously, some things get lost in the cultural translations.

Multiformity in Myth: The Children of Odysseus

[Inspired by the Almeida Theater’s live performance of the Odyssey today, we are reposting some of our favorite passages]

(For a more conventional paper-based version of the following, go here)

When Odysseus and Telemachus finally meet in book 16 of the Odyssey, the father is suddenly stripped of his disguise to reveal himself to his son. Telemachus, shocked, believes that this is instead some god come to trick him. Odysseus, frustrated by the slight delay in reunion, tells his son that “no other Odysseus will come home to you” (16.204). Although from the perspective of the narrative the audience knows that this is in fact Odysseus (and even though Telemachus immediately relents and embraces his father), the line prompts us to think of what it means to say that this man is Odysseus and to ponder what “another” Odysseus might be.

One of the things nearly everyone knows is that Odysseus, the son of Laertes, has a son named Telemachus. This fact is asseverated early in the Iliad when Odysseus makes an oath based on his identity (2.260-64):

“May I be called the father of Telemachus no longer
If I don’t grab you and strip the fine clothes from your back,
The cloak and the tunic that hides your genitals;
And then I will send you wailing among the swift ships
As I beat you from the assembly with unseemly blows.”

μηδ’ ἔτι Τηλεμάχοιο πατὴρ κεκλημένος εἴην
εἰ μὴ ἐγώ σε λαβὼν ἀπὸ μὲν φίλα εἵματα δύσω,
χλαῖνάν τ’ ἠδὲ χιτῶνα, τά τ’ αἰδῶ ἀμφικαλύπτει,
αὐτὸν δὲ κλαίοντα θοὰς ἐπὶ νῆας ἀφήσω
πεπλήγων ἀγορῆθεν ἀεικέσσι πληγῇσιν.

Odysseus also refers to himself as  “Telemachus’ dear father who fights in the forefront” (Τηλεμάχοιο φίλον πατέρα προμάχοισι μιγέντα, 4.354) later in the epic. These moments are exceptional because every other hero defines himself by his patronym, by his father and past rather than his son and his future.

Most scholars seem to understand this as a nod to the Odyssey and Odysseus’ different character. The scholia present the common reaction to this from Aristonicus: The Iliad is aware of the Odyssey (Τηλεμάχοιο: ὅτι προτετυπωμένος τὰ κατὰ τὴν ᾿Οδύσσειαν μνημονεύει τοῦ Τηλεμάχου. τοῦ αὐτοῦ ἄρα ποιητοῦ καὶ ἡ ᾿Οδύσσεια, Schol. A ad Il. 4.354a 1-3).

What if this reference is not exclusive and specific (i.e. pointing to our Odyssey as we have it), but is instead selecting out and constructing one of many possible Odysseis? Yes, it is true that this notion is not incompatible with the presumption that Odysseus’ words in the Iliad ‘shout out’ to the identity of the Odysseus in the Odyssey. But at the same time, it seems to engage in a Homeric pattern of omitting or marginalizing other traditions for Odysseus—traditions that describe the events after he gets home, or provide different details about what happened after he left Troy; and traditions that transgress the strong identification between Odysseus and his son Telemachus. The larger mythical tradition, it seems, knew a different Odysseus who had many more sons.

Odysseus is said to have heard a prophecy that he would be killed by his son. So, according to some (Dictys, Hyginus) he sent Telemachus away. But what Odysseus didn’t know, allegedly, is that it had more than one son. How many? That depends on whom you believe.

What is really in Kirke's cup?
What is really in Kirke’s cup?

The question–and the various answers we can generate–illustrate both the importance of Odysseus as a figure (in terms of geography and time) and the malleability of myth. To start, here’s the list of all the named children I could find: 17 names for sons (for, I think, 13 individuals) and a daughter:

The Sons:

Telemakhos and Arkesilaos/Ptoliporthes (Penelope) [Eustathius/Pausanias]
Agrios, Latinus and Telegonos (Kirke [Hesiod]) or Auson [Lykophron]
Rhomos, Antias, Ardeas (Kirke) [Dionysus of Halicarnassos]
Nausithoos and Nausinoos (Kalypso) [Hesiod]
Leontophron or Dorukles or Euryalos (Euippê, Epirote Princess) [Eustathius]
Polypoitês (Kallidikê, Thesprotian Princess) [Proklos]
Leontophronos (Daughter of Thoas, Aitolian Princess) [Apollodoros]

The Daughter:
Kassiphone (Kirke) [Lykophron]

Now, it is fair to note that much of the attestation for these children is later than the classical period. But, with the exception of Lykophron (and more on him later), these are not authors who seem to be in the habit of making things up.
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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.

Lykophron, Alexandra 815-819: A Lament for Odysseus

“Poor man—it would have been better for you to remain at home,
Driving oxen and keeping the working donkey
Still under the yoke alongside them.
Better to languish in your pretended madness
than to endure the limits of such great pains.”

ὦ σχέτλι’, ὥς σοι κρεῖσσον ἦν μίμνειν πάτρᾳ
βοηλατοῦντα καὶ τὸν ἐργάτην μύκλον
κάνθων’ ὑπὸ ζεύγλαισι μεσσαβοῦν ἔτι
πλασταῖσι λύσσης μηχαναῖς οἰστρημένον
ἢ τηλικῶνδε πεῖραν ὀτλῆσαι κακῶν.

Lykophron is a bit strange and quite obscure, but this bit is nice. In some traditions, Odysseus acted crazy and plowed his field in circles (until, with a threat to his infant son Telemachus, he was shown to be faking it). According to Lykophron, the odd thing is that he yoked a donkey in with the oxen. Obviously, some things get lost in the cultural translations.