Father Neleus Had How Many Sons?

Schol. A ad 11.692a

“There were twelve sons of blameless Neleus. According to the Separatists, Homer records that there were twelve children of Neleus in the Iliad but had three in the Odyssey where he provides the genealogy: “And I saw surpassingly beautiful Khloris” and soon after, “Nestor and Khromios, and proud Periklymenos”. It is likely that the children born before came to him from another woman and these three came from Khloris, for Priamos said, “I had fifty children. When the sons of the Achaeans came / 19 of them were from a single womb / the rest women bore to me in my home.”

δώδεκα γὰρ Νηλῆος <ἀμύμονος υἱέες ἦμεν>: πρὸς τοὺς Χωρίζοντας (fr. 5 K.), ὅτι ἐν μὲν ᾿Ιλιάδι δώδεκα Νηλῆος παῖδας λέγει, ἐν δὲ τῇ ᾿Οδυσσείᾳ τρεῖς γεγονέναι, ὡς γενεαλογεῖ· „καὶ Χλῶριν εἶδον περικαλλέα” (λ 281) καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἑξῆς „Νέστορά τε Χρομίον τε Περικλύμενόν τ’ ἀγέρωχον” (λ 286). ἐνδέχεται δὲ προγεγονότων αὐτῷ ἐξ ἑτέρας γυναικὸς παίδων ὕστερον ἐκ Χλώριδος τοὺς τρεῖς γεγονέναι· καὶ γὰρ ὁ Πρίαμός φησι· „πεντήκοντά μοι ἦσαν, ὅτ’ ἤλυθον υἷες ᾿Αχαιῶν· / ἐννεακαίδεκα μέν μοι ἰῆς ἐκ νηδύος ἦσαν, / τοὺς δ’ ἄλλους μοι ἔτικτον ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν <γυναῖ-κες>”

Image result for neleus and pelias
Neleus’ Brother Pelias on a Fresco from Pompeii

Silver For Gold: Strategic Gift Exchange for the Holiday Season

Julian, Letter 63 (To Hecebolus)

“…but the story is from ancient men. If, then, I were to give to you silver as swap of equal worth when you sent me gold, do not value the favor less nor, as Glaukos did, believe that the exchange is harmful, since not even Diomedes would switch silver armor for gold since the former is much more practical than the latter in the way of lead that is shaped for the ends of spears.

I am joking with you! I have assumed a certain freedom of speech based on the example you have written yourself. But, if in truth you want to send me gifts worth more than gold, write and don’t ever stop writing to me! For even a brief note from you is more dear to me than anything someone else might consider good.”

ἀλλὰ παλαιῶν ἀνδρῶν ὁ λόγος ἐστίν. εἰ δέ σοι τοῦ πεμφθέντος ὑπὸ σοῦ χρυσοῦ νομίσματος εἰς τὸ ἴσον τῆς τιμῆς ἕτερον ἀργύρεον ἀντιδίδομεν, μὴ κρίνῃς ἥττω τὴν χάριν, μηδὲ ὥσπερ τῷ Γλαύκῳ πρὸς τὸ ἔλαττον οἰηθῇς εἶναι τὴν ἀντίδοσιν, ἐπεὶ μηδὲ ὁ Διομήδης ἴσως ἀργυρᾶ χρυσῶν ἀντέδωκεν ἄν,1 ἅτε δὴ πολλῷ τῶν ἑτέρων ὄντα χρησιμώτερα καὶ τὰς αἰχμὰς οἱονεὶ μολίβδου δίκην ἐκτρέπειν εἰδότα. ταῦτά σοι προσπαίζομεν, ἀφ᾿ ὧν αὐτὸς γράφεις τὸ ἐνδόσιμον εἰς σὲ τῆς παρρησίας λαμβάνοντες. σὺ δὲ εἰ τῷ ὄντι χρυσοῦ τιμιώτερα ἡμῖν δῶρα ἐθέλεις ἐκπέμπειν, γράφε, καὶ μὴ λῆγε συνεχῶς τοῦτο πράττων· ἐμοὶ γὰρ καὶ γράμμα παρὰ σοῦ μικρὸν ὅτου περ ἂν εἴπῃ τις ἀγαθοῦ κάλλιον εἶναι κρίνεται.

Who knew that the popular Christmas song was inspired by Julian the Apostate?

Julian is referring to the famous scene of exchange between Diomedes and Glaukos in the Iliad (6.230-236)

“Let’s exchange armor with one another so that even these people
May know that we claim to be guest-friends from our fathers’ lines.”

So they spoke and leapt down from their horses,
Took one another’s hands and made their pledge.
Then Kronos’s son Zeus stole away Glaukos’ wits,
For he traded to Diomedes golden arms in exchange for bronze,
weapons worth one hundred oxen traded for those worth nine.”

τεύχεα δ’ ἀλλήλοις ἐπαμείψομεν, ὄφρα καὶ οἷδε
γνῶσιν ὅτι ξεῖνοι πατρώϊοι εὐχόμεθ’ εἶναι.
῝Ως ἄρα φωνήσαντε καθ’ ἵππων ἀΐξαντε
χεῖράς τ’ ἀλλήλων λαβέτην καὶ πιστώσαντο·
ἔνθ’ αὖτε Γλαύκῳ Κρονίδης φρένας ἐξέλετο Ζεύς,
ὃς πρὸς Τυδεΐδην Διομήδεα τεύχε’ ἄμειβε
χρύσεα χαλκείων, ἑκατόμβοι’ ἐννεαβοίων.

Schol. ad. Il. 6.234b ex.

“Kronos’ son Zeus took Glaukos’ wits away”. Because he was adorning him among his allies with more conspicuous weapons. Or, because they were made by Hephaistos. Or, as Pios claims, so that [the poet?] might amplify the Greek since they do not make an equal exchange—a thing which would be sweet to the audience.

Or, perhaps he credits him more, that he was adorned with conspicuous arms among his own and his allies. For, wherever these arms are, it is a likely place for an enemy attack.”

ex. ἔνθ’ αὖτε Γλαύκῳ <Κρονίδης> φρένας ἐξέλετο: ὅτι κατὰ τῶν συμμάχων ἐκόσμει λαμπροτέροις αὐτὸν ὅπλοις. ἢ ὡς ῾Ηφαιστότευκτα. ἢ, ὡς Πῖος (fr. 2 H.), ἵνα κἀν τούτῳ αὐξήσῃ τὸν ῞Ελληνα μὴ ἐξ ἴσου ἀπηλ<λ>αγμένον, ὅπερ ἡδὺ τοῖς ἀκούουσιν. T
ἢ μᾶλλον αἰτιᾶται αὐτόν, ὅτι λαμπροῖς ὅπλοις ἐκοσμεῖτο κατὰ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν συμμάχων· ὅπου γὰρ ταῦτα, εὔκαιρος ἡ τῶν πολεμίων ὁρμή. b(BE3E4)

I always thought that Glaukos got a raw deal from interpreters here. Prior to the stories Diomedes and Glaukos tell each other, Diomedes was just murdering everyone in his path. Glaukos—who already knew who Diomedes was before he addressed him—tells a great tale, gives Diomedes his golden weapons, and actually lives to the end of the poem. I think this is far from a witless move. And, if the armor is especially conspicuous, maybe the plan-within-a-plan is to put a golden target on Diomedes’ back.

Image result for silver and gold still

Patroklos Talking About Oysters

Schol A. ad Il. 16.747a

This man would feed many by seeking oysters. He uses this word “oyster” only once. It is a kind of marine shellfish. See the Separatists on this. For they claim that the poet of the Iliad does not present heroes using fish at food, while the Odyssey poet does. But it is clear that, if he did not present them as using them, they knew it, from the fact that Patroklos talks about oysters. Note how the poet tends to avoid the trivial. And surely, he does not show people eating greens. But, nevertheless, he does say “The enslaved women using shit to fertilize his great property”

πολλοὺς ἂν κορέσειεν ἀνὴρ <ὅδε τήθεα διφῶν>: ὅτι ἅπαξ εἴρηκε τήθεα. ἔστι δὲ εἶδος τῶν θαλασσίων ὀστρέων. πρὸς τοὺς Χωρίζοντας φασὶ γὰρ ὅτι ὁ τῆς ᾿Ιλιάδος ποιητὴς οὐ παρεισάγει τοὺς ἥρωας χρωμένους ἰχθύσιν, ὁ δὲ τῆς ᾿Οδυσσείας (cf. δ 368. μ 331). φανερὸν δὲ ὅτι, εἰ καὶ μὴ παράγει χρωμένους, ἴσασιν, ἐκ τοῦ τὸν Πάτροκλον ὀνομάζειν τήθεα. νοητέον δὲ τὸν ποιητὴν διὰ τὸ μικροπρεπὲς παρῃτῆσθαι. καὶ μὴν οὐδὲ λαχάνοις παρεισάγει χρωμένους. ἀλλ’ ὅμως φησὶ „δμῶες ᾿Οδυσσῆος τέμενος μέγα κοπρήσοντες” (ρ 299).

Schol T ad 16.784

“The poet also does not show heroes eating fish or birds, but still Odysseus’ companions do try to under compulsion. Generally, the poet avoids this kind of habit because of its triviality, but he has [heroes] eat roasted meat.”

οὐδὲ γὰρ ἰχθύσι χρωμένους εἰσήγαγεν ἢ ὄρνισιν, ἀλλ’ ὅμως δι’ ἀνάγκην καὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις ἐπεχείρουν οἱ ᾿Οδυσσέως ἑταῖροι (cf. δ 368. μ 331)· καθόλου γὰρ τὴν τοιαύτην χρῆσιν διὰ τὸ μικροπρεπὲς παρῃτήσατο, κρέασι δὲ ὀπτοῖς χρῆσθαι αὐτούς φησιν.

Suda, 477 Tau

“têthea: Oysters. Know that the ancients also ate these even though they do not provide much pleasure or nourishment.”

Τήθεα: ὄστρεα. ἰστέον ὅτι καὶ τούτοις ἐχρῶντο οἱ παλαιοί, καίτοι τῆς τούτων ἐδωδῆς οὐ πολὺ ἐχούσης τὸ ἡδὺ καὶ ὠφέλιμον.

Ostreidae ja 20090114.JPG

 

Performing Prophecies

Schol. bT ad Hom. Il. 2.350 ex

“Odysseus properly, as he speaks to the public, offers the prophecy of Kalkhas to please the people, since he was hateful to the sons of Atreus but sweet to the masses. Nestor, because he is trying to please the king, offers the signs of the king of the gods. For this reason Odysseus is praised by the Greeks but Nestor is praised by the king.”

οἰκείως ὁ μὲν ᾿Οδυσσεὺς δημοχαριστικῶς δημηγορῶν τοῦ Κάλχαντος προβάλλεται τὴν μαντείαν, ὃς ἦν τοῖς ᾿Ατρείδαις ἐχθρός, τῷ δὲ πλήθει γλυκύς· ὁ δὲ Νέστωρ τῷ βασιλεῖ χαριζόμενος τὰ τοῦ βασιλέως τῶν θεῶν προβάλλεται· διὸ ὁ μὲν παρὰ τῶν ῾Ελλήνων, ὁ δὲ Νέστωρ παρὰ τοῦ βασιλέως ἐγκωμιάζεται

Homer, Iliad 2.299–330 (Odysseus)

“Endure, friends, and wait some time so we may learn,
Whether Kalkhas prophesied truly or not.
For we all know this well in our minds: you were all
Witnesses, at least those of you the fates of death have not carried off.
On that day long ago when the ships of the Achaeans gathered
At Aulis preparing troubles for Priam and the Trojans:
We were all around the sacred altars along a spring
Completing sacrifices to the immortal gods
Under a beautiful plane tree from where the sparkling water issued.
A great omen appeared there: a serpent with a deep-red back,
Terrible, which the Olympian himself sent to the light,
Crept up from under the altar and moved toward the plane tree.
There were newborn sparrow-chicks, immature ones
Were peering out under the leaves on the topmost bow.
There eight of them but the mother who bore them made it nine.
Then the serpent gulped them all down as they tweeted pitifully.
Their mother hopped around mourning over her dear offspring.
Well, he coiled up and grabbed her by the wing as she cried over them.
When it had swallowed the sparrow’s children and her too.
Then the god who exposed the serpent made it disappear—
The son of crooked-minded Kronos made it into stone.
We all stood in awe at the thing that happened,
That’s how terrible the portents of the gods were over our sacrifices.
Kalkhas immediately addressed us, offering his interpretation:
“Why are you silent, you long-haired Achaeans?
The great counsellor Zeus has shown us this sign:
Late coming, late completed, and its’ fame will never die.
Just as it ate up the sparrow’s children and her too,
Eight of them and the mother who bore them was the ninth,
So too we will war here for that many years
And in the tenth we will take the wide-wayed city.”
That’s how Kalkhas interpreted. Now all these things are being completed.”

τλῆτε φίλοι, καὶ μείνατ’ ἐπὶ χρόνον ὄφρα δαῶμεν
ἢ ἐτεὸν Κάλχας μαντεύεται ἦε καὶ οὐκί.
εὖ γὰρ δὴ τόδε ἴδμεν ἐνὶ φρεσίν, ἐστὲ δὲ πάντες
μάρτυροι, οὓς μὴ κῆρες ἔβαν θανάτοιο φέρουσαι·
χθιζά τε καὶ πρωΐζ’ ὅτ’ ἐς Αὐλίδα νῆες ᾿Αχαιῶν
ἠγερέθοντο κακὰ Πριάμῳ καὶ Τρωσὶ φέρουσαι,
ἡμεῖς δ’ ἀμφὶ περὶ κρήνην ἱεροὺς κατὰ βωμοὺς
ἕρδομεν ἀθανάτοισι τεληέσσας ἑκατόμβας
καλῇ ὑπὸ πλατανίστῳ ὅθεν ῥέεν ἀγλαὸν ὕδωρ·
ἔνθ’ ἐφάνη μέγα σῆμα· δράκων ἐπὶ νῶτα δαφοινὸς
σμερδαλέος, τόν ῥ’ αὐτὸς ᾿Ολύμπιος ἧκε φόως δέ,
βωμοῦ ὑπαΐξας πρός ῥα πλατάνιστον ὄρουσεν.
ἔνθα δ’ ἔσαν στρουθοῖο νεοσσοί, νήπια τέκνα,
ὄζῳ ἐπ’ ἀκροτάτῳ πετάλοις ὑποπεπτηῶτες
ὀκτώ, ἀτὰρ μήτηρ ἐνάτη ἦν ἣ τέκε τέκνα·
ἔνθ’ ὅ γε τοὺς ἐλεεινὰ κατήσθιε τετριγῶτας·
μήτηρ δ’ ἀμφεποτᾶτο ὀδυρομένη φίλα τέκνα·
τὴν δ’ ἐλελιξάμενος πτέρυγος λάβεν ἀμφιαχυῖαν.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ κατὰ τέκνα φάγε στρουθοῖο καὶ αὐτήν,
τὸν μὲν ἀρίζηλον θῆκεν θεὸς ὅς περ ἔφηνε·
λᾶαν γάρ μιν ἔθηκε Κρόνου πάϊς ἀγκυλομήτεω·
ἡμεῖς δ’ ἑσταότες θαυμάζομεν οἷον ἐτύχθη.
ὡς οὖν δεινὰ πέλωρα θεῶν εἰσῆλθ’ ἑκατόμβας,
Κάλχας δ’ αὐτίκ’ ἔπειτα θεοπροπέων ἀγόρευε·
τίπτ’ ἄνεῳ ἐγένεσθε κάρη κομόωντες ᾿Αχαιοί;
ἡμῖν μὲν τόδ’ ἔφηνε τέρας μέγα μητίετα Ζεὺς
ὄψιμον ὀψιτέλεστον, ὅου κλέος οὔ ποτ’ ὀλεῖται.
ὡς οὗτος κατὰ τέκνα φάγε στρουθοῖο καὶ αὐτὴν
ὀκτώ, ἀτὰρ μήτηρ ἐνάτη ἦν ἣ τέκε τέκνα,
ὣς ἡμεῖς τοσσαῦτ’ ἔτεα πτολεμίξομεν αὖθι,
τῷ δεκάτῳ δὲ πόλιν αἱρήσομεν εὐρυάγυιαν.
κεῖνος τὼς ἀγόρευε· τὰ δὴ νῦν πάντα τελεῖται.

2.350–356 (Nestor)

“I say that the over-powering son of Kronos assented
On that day when the Argives took to the fast-faring ships
Bringing murder and death to the Trojans,
Showing clear and favorable signs by flashing lightning.
So let no one be compelled to return home,
Because each one has taken a Trojan wife to bed
As payback for Helen’s writhing and moans.”

φημὶ γὰρ οὖν κατανεῦσαι ὑπερμενέα Κρονίωνα
ἤματι τῷ ὅτε νηυσὶν ἐν ὠκυπόροισιν ἔβαινον
᾿Αργεῖοι Τρώεσσι φόνον καὶ κῆρα φέροντες
ἀστράπτων ἐπιδέξι’ ἐναίσιμα σήματα φαίνων.
τὼ μή τις πρὶν ἐπειγέσθω οἶκον δὲ νέεσθαι
πρίν τινα πὰρ Τρώων ἀλόχῳ κατακοιμηθῆναι,
τίσασθαι δ’ ῾Ελένης ὁρμήματά τε στοναχάς τε.

Ilias Kodex.jpg
Iliad Codex

“Windblown dreams and shadows of glory”: Human Life

Arsenius, 17.66

“Windblown dreams and shadows of glory”: A proverb applied to those hoping for things in vain.

῾Υπηνέμια ὀνείρατα καὶ ἐπαίνων σκιαί: ἐπὶ τῶν μάτην ἐλπιζόντων.

 

Some Words

ἀνεμώδης: “windy”

ἀνεμοσκεπής: “shelter from the wind”

ἀνεμόστρεφος: “whirling in the wind”

ἀνεμόπους: “wind-footed” [i.e. “fast”]

ἀνεμοδούλιον: “Slave to the wind”

ἀνεμαμαχία: “meeting of contrary winds”

 

Sophocles, fr. 945

“O wretched and mortal race of men:
We are nothing more than image of shadows,
Wandering back and forth, an excessive weight on the earth.”

ὦ θνητὸν ἀνδρῶν καὶ ταλαίπωρον γένος,
ὡς οὐδέν ἐσμεν πλὴν σκιαῖς ἐοικότες,
βάρος περισσὸν γῆς ἀναστρωφώμενοι

The passage from Sophocles above made me think of the following lines from Homer

Homer. Od. 10.495

“Persephone allowed him to have a mind, even though he is dead,
He alone is able to think. The others leap like shadows”

τῷ καὶ τεθνηῶτι νόον πόρε Περσεφόνεια
οἴῳ πεπνῦσθαι· τοὶ δὲ σκιαὶ ἀΐσσουσιν.’

The scholia have a few interesting things to add to this.

Schol. ad Hom. Od. 10.495

“They leap like shadows”: The rest of the dead apart from Teiresias are shadows and they move like shadows, just like the shadows that follow men who are moving. This term is used instead of souls [psukhai]. Certainly the poet has the rest of the dead come forward for comparison in this, but the rest of the dead move like shadows”

τοὶ δὲ σκιαὶ ἀΐσσουσιν] οἱ δὲ ἄλλοι νεκροὶ πλὴν τοῦ Τειρεσίου σκιαί εἰσι καὶ ὡς σκιαὶ ὁρμῶσι, καθάπερ αὗται παρέπονται τοῖς κινουμένοις. Q. ἀντὶ τοῦ αἱ ψυχαί. ὁ μέντοι ποιητὴς πρὸς τοὺς ἄλλους νεκροὺς ποιεῖται τὴν σύγκρισιν ἐν τῷ, οἱ δὲ ἄλλοι νεκροὶ ὡς σκιαὶ ἀΐσσουσιν. B.Q.T.

Boreas abducting Oreithyia

Stobaeus (1.49.54) in discussing shadows and death, notes that “if they meet their near and dear, they cannot see them nor can they converse with them, but they are walled off from aesthetic reality, they appear to them something like shadows”

Εἰ δὴ τοῖς οἰκείοις ἐντυγχάνοντες οὔτε ὁρῶσιν αὐτοὺς οὔτε προσδιαλέγονται, ἀνενέργητοι δέ εἰσιν αἰσθητικὴν ἐνέργειαν, πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἐοικότες εἶεν <ἂν> ταῖς σκιαῖς·

He also brings up the image of smoke evoked in the Iliad (23.100-101)

“He could not grasp him, but his soul went over the earth,
Twisted, just like smoke…”

οὐδ’ ἔλαβε· ψυχὴ δὲ κατὰ χθονὸς ἠΰτε καπνὸς
ᾤχετο τετριγυῖα…

 

Dabbling in the Occult: Odysseus, Necromancer

It is the right time of the year for raising the dead. A student paper on the Elpenor Pelike at the MFA in Boston drew my attention to the following passage.

Servius ad Aen. 6.107

“For this reason the place is named without joy since, as people claim, it would not have been there but for necromancy or spell-craft. For, Aeneas completed these sacred rites when Misenus was killed and Ulysses did it with the death of Elpenor.

This very scene Homer himself presented falsely from the detail of its location which he specifies along with the length of time of the journey. For he claims that Ulysses sailed for one night and came to the place where he completed these sacrifices. For this reason it is abundantly clear that he doesn’t mean the ocean but Campania.”

sine gaudio autem ideo ille dicitur locus, quod necromantia vel sciomantia, ut dicunt, non nisi ibi poterat fieri: quae sine hominis occisione non fiebant; nam et Aeneas illic occiso Miseno sacra ista conplevit et Vlixes occiso Elpenore. quamquam fingatur in extrema Oceani parte Vlixes fuisse: quod et ipse Homerus falsum esse ostendit ex qualitate locorum, quae commemorat, et ex tempore navigationis; dicit enim eum a Circe unam noctem navigasse et ad locum venisse, in quo haec sacra perfecit: quod de Oceano non procedit, de Campania manifestissimum est.

The relevant passages from the Odyssey don’t give any hint that Elpenor was intentionally killed for black magic. When Odysseus actually does summon the dead, now that gets a little dark.

Odyssey, 10.552–560

“I could not even lead my companions unharmed from there.
The youngest of my companions was a certain Elpênor,
He was neither especially brave in battle or composed in his thoughts.
He separated himself from the companions in Kirkê’s holy home
Because he needed some air; then he fell asleep because he was drunk.
When he heard the noise and trouble of our companions moving out,
He got up immediately and it completely escaped his thoughts
To climb down again by the long ladder—
So he fell straight from the roof and his neck
Shattered along his spine; then his spirit flew down to Hades.”

οὐδὲ μὲν οὐδ’ ἔνθεν περ ἀπήμονας ἦγον ἑταίρους.
᾿Ελπήνωρ δέ τις ἔσκε νεώτατος, οὔτε τι λίην
ἄλκιμος ἐν πολέμῳ οὔτε φρεσὶν ᾗσιν ἀρηρώς,
ὅς μοι ἄνευθ’ ἑτάρων ἱεροῖσ’ ἐν δώμασι Κίρκης,
ψύχεος ἱμείρων, κατελέξατο οἰνοβαρείων·
κινυμένων δ’ ἑτάρων ὅμαδον καὶ δοῦπον ἀκούσας
ἐξαπίνης ἀνόρουσε καὶ ἐκλάθετο φρεσὶν ᾗσιν
ἄψορρον καταβῆναι ἰὼν ἐς κλίμακα μακρήν,
ἀλλὰ καταντικρὺ τέγεος πέσεν· ἐκ δέ οἱ αὐχὴν
ἀστραγάλων ἐάγη, ψυχὴ δ’ ῎Αϊδόσδε κατῆλθεν.

Elpênor appears twice more in the epic: 11.51–80 (Odysseus meets Elpênor’s ghost when he summons the dead); 12.9-15 (Odysseus buries Elpênor).

MFA Boston, Accession Number 34.79; Caskey-Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings (MFA), no. 111; Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 070-071.

Nekuomanteia, glossed by Hesychius as nekromanteia (i.e. “necromancy”) is an alternate name for the Nekyuia, the parade of the dead in book 11 of the Odyssey. From the Greek Anthology: ᾿Εν τῷ Η ἡ τοῦ ᾿Οδυσσέως νεκυομαντεία· (3.8); Scholia to the Odyssey, Hypotheses: Λ. Νεκυομαντεία, ἢ, Νεκυία. Cf. Eustathius, Comm. Ad Od. 1.396.10

No Aristarchus, Achilles Can Sack Cities

At several key points in the Iliad Achilles receives the epithet ptoliporthos–and while ancient commentators took some issue with this, the epithet applies quite well to the hero at several key points.

Il. 8.372 (=15.77)

“[Thetis] was begging me to honor Achilles the city-sacker”

λισσομένη τιμῆσαι ᾿Αχιλλῆα πτολίπορθον.

Schol A. ad. Il 15.56a

“For line 77 Aristarchus says that [the poet] never calls Achilles a city-sacker but “swift of foot and swift-footed.”

ἐν δὲ τῷ „λισσομένη τιμῆσαι” (Ο 77) φησὶν ὁ ᾿Αρίσταρχος ὅτι οὐδαμῆ τὸν ᾿Αχιλλέα „πτολίπορθον” εἴρηκεν, ἀλλὰ „ποδάρκη” (cf. Α 121 al.) καὶ „ποδώκη” (cf. Θ 474 al.).

Schol. T ad Il. 15.77

[city-sacker] “he calls only Odysseus thus concerning Troy. But elsewhere he says, “then he noticed city-sacking Achilles”. For he sacked twenty cities.”

ex. <πτολίπορθον:> ᾿Οδυσσέα μόνον οὕτω καλεῖ διὰ τὴν ῎Ιλιον. ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ λέγει ”αὐτὰρ ὅ γ’ ὡς ἐνόησεν ᾿Αχιλλῆα πτολίπορθον” (Φ 550)· ἐπόρθησε γὰρ εἴκοσι πόλεις. T

Iliad 21.550

“But when he noticed Achilles the city-sacker…”

αὐτὰρ ὅ γ’ ὡς ἐνόησεν ᾿Αχιλλῆα πτολίπορθον…

Schol AT. ad. Il. 21.551 ex

A: “Achilles the city-sacker: because it is excessive to apply ptoliporthos so much to Odysseus, now it is applied once to Achilles. This is according to those Separatists*, for they use these texts. Some have “Achilles Peleus’s son” because they are astonished by the epithet.

T: Some have “Achilles’ Peleus’ son” because they are surprised by the epithet [city-sacking] but Achilles himself says, “I sacked 12 cities with my ships”

Ariston. ᾿Αχιλλῆα πτολίπορθον: ὅτι πλεονάζει ἐπ’ ᾿Οδυσσέως τὸ πτολίπορθος (sc. Β 278. Κ 363. θ 3 al.), νῦν δὲ ἅπαξ ἐπ’ ᾿Αχιλλέως. πρὸς τοὺς Χωρίζοντας (fr. 10 K.)· τούτοις γὰρ χρῶνται. τινὲς δὲ „᾿Αχιλλέα Πηλείωνα” ποιοῦσι, ξενισθέντες πρὸς τὸ ἐπίθετον.

ex. (Ariston.) ᾿Αχιλλῆα πτολίπορθον: τινὲς „᾿Αχιλλέα Πηλείωνα”, πρὸς τὸ ἐπίθετον ξενισθέντες. ἀλλ’ ἤδη αὐτὸς εἶπε „δώδεκα δὴ σὺν νηυσὶ πόλεις ἀλάπαξα” (Ι 328)…

* χωρίζοντες was a term applied to ancient scholars who believed that the Iliad and Odyssey were composed by different poets.

Iliad 24.108

“For nine days a conflict arose among the immortals
Over Hektor’s corpse and city-sacking Achilles.”

ἐννῆμαρ δὴ νεῖκος ἐν ἀθανάτοισιν ὄρωρεν
῞Εκτορος ἀμφὶ νέκυι καὶ ᾿Αχιλλῆϊ πτολιπόρθῳ·

There are no scholia in Erbse’s edition which contest “city-sacker” here. If the logic applied by earlier scholia obtains, however, there should be similar objections. As some have observed, however, the death of Hektor is both symbolically the death of the city and in actuality a guarantee that the city will fall. By killing Hektor, Achilles is in fact a city-sacker (in the Iliad’s) terms. Some ancient scholars would still like the preserve the epithet as part of Odysseus’ special heroic identity.

Schol. E ad Od. 1.2 ex.

“Why does Homer not call Achilles [city-sacker] but Odysseus instead even though Achilles sacked countless cities? Indeed, we say that although Achilles overcame those cities, Odysseus sacked famous Troy though his own intelligence—the very city the Greeks were willing to take a share of great suffering over. This is why [Homer] calls not Achilles but Odysseus city-sacker.”

ἔπερσε] διὰ τί ῞Ομηρος οὐ τὸν ᾿Αχιλλέα ὀνομάζει, ἀλλὰ τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα πτολίπορθον, καὶ ταῦτα πόλεις ἀπείρους τοῦ ᾿Αχιλλέως πορθήσαντος; καὶ λέγομεν, ἐπεὶ ὁ ᾿Αχιλλεὺς πολίδριά τινα ἐπέσχεν, ὁ δὲ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς διὰ τῆς οἰκείας φρονήσεως τὴν περίφημον Τροίαν ἐπόρθησε, δι’ ἣν οἱ ῞Ελληνες πολλῆς κακοπαθείας μετέσχηκαν κατα-σχεῖν αὐτὴν θέλοντες, διὰ τοῦτο οὐ τὸν ᾿Αχιλλέα, ἀλλὰ τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα ὀνομάζει πτολίπορθον.

05-Mosaico del Oecus. Aquiles en Skyros alta.jpg
Late Roman Mosaic: Achilles at Skyros