Uncle Menelaos and his Glorious Hair

Philostratus, Heroicus 29

“[He claims] that Menelaos fought after most of the Greeks did, and used his brother to do everything, even though he received eagerness and good treatment from Agamemnon he was still envious of him especially of the things he was doing for them. See, he wanted to rule himself, but wasn’t worthy of it.

So, his story is that Menelaos would have permitted Orestes to be stoned by the the Argives when he was in danger in Argos, even though he was famous in Athens and throughout Greece after he avenged his father’s murder.  But Orestes attacked them with his Phocian allies and forced them to retreat. He regained his father’s power even though Menelaos was unwilling to help.

He adds that Menelaos wore a somewhat childish long hairstyle which, since it was the Spartan style at the time, the Achaeans overlooked in him. (They also resisted mocking the people from Euboia whose hair was extremely ridiculous). By this account, Menealos was the most natural speaker of all and his words were extremely concise but mixed thoroughly with charm.”

τὸν δὲ Μενέλεων μάχεσθαι μὲν μετὰ πολλοὺς τῶν Ἑλλήνων, ἀποχρῆσθαι δὲ τῷ ἀδελφῷ πάντα, καὶ τυγχάνοντα προθύμου τε καὶ εὔνου τοῦ Ἀγαμέμνονος ὅμως βασκαίνειν αὐτῷ καὶ ὧν ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ ἔπραττεν, ὑπὸ τοῦ ἄρχειν μὲν αὐτὸς ἐθέλειν, μὴ ἀξιοῦσθαι δέ. 4τὸν γοῦν Ὀρέστην, Ἀθήνησι μὲν καὶ παρὰ τοῖς Ἕλλησιν εὐδοκιμοῦντα, ἐπειδὴ τῷ πατρὶ ἐτιμώρησεν, ἐν δὲ τῷ Ἄργει κινδυνεύοντα, βληθέντα ἂν περιεῖδεν ὑπὸ τῶν Ἀργείων, εἰ μὴ Ὀρέστης ἐμπεσὼν τούτοις μετὰ ξυμμάχων Φωκέων, τοὺς μὲν ἐτρέψατο, τὴν δὲ ἀρχὴν τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ ἄκοντος τοῦ Μενέλεω κατεκτήσατο.

κομᾶν τὸν Μενέλεων μειρακιωδῶς φησιν, ἐπεὶ δὲ ἡ Σπάρτη ἐκόμα, ξυγγινώσκειν αὐτῷ τοὺς Ἀχαιοὺς ἐπιχωριάζοντι. (οὐδὲ γὰρ τοὺς ἀπ’ Εὐβοίας ἥκοντας ἐτώθαζον, καίτοι γελοίως κομῶντας.) 6διαλεχθῆναι δὲ αὐτὸν ῥᾷστα ἀνθρώπων φησὶ καὶ βραχυλογώτατα, ξυγκεραννύοντα ἡδονὴν τῷ λόγῳ.

Helene Menelaos Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2425.jpg
Helen and Menelaos: c. 480 BCE

Meta-Classics Costume Idea: Paris as Menelaos

In the Helen, Euripides pursues the version of events favored by Stesichorus and mentioned by Herodotus too: that Helen was replaced by a cloud-Helen (whom I call a Cylon). The fake-Helen went to Troy while the real one went to Egypt.

Apparently there was also a tradition that has Aphrodite pulling a Zeus-Amphitryon trick with Paris and Menelaos.

Nikias of Mallos, BNJ 60 F 2a [=Schol. V ad Od. 23.218]

“Priam’s child Alexander  left Asia and went to Sparta with the plan of abducting Helen while he was a guest there. But she, because of her noble and husband-loving character, was refusing him and saying that she would honor her marriage with the law and thought more of Menelaos. Because Paris was ineffective, the story is that Aphrodite devised this kind of a trick: she exchanged the appearance of Alexander for Menelaos’ character to persuade Helen in this way. For, because she believed that this was truly Menelaos, she was not reluctant to leave with him. After she went to the ship before him, he took her inside and left. This story is told in Nikias of Mallos’ first book”

᾽Αλέξανδρος ὁ Πριάμου παῖς ἀπὸ τῆς ᾽Ασίας κατάρας εἰς τὴν Λακεδαίμονα διενοεῖτο τὴν ῾Ελένην ξενιζόμενος ἁρπάσαι· ἡ δὲ γενναῖον ἧθος καὶ φίλανδρον ἔχουσα ἀπηγόρευε καὶ προτιμᾶν ἔλεγε τὸν μετὰ νόμου γάμον καὶ τὸν Μενέλαον περὶ πλείονος ἡγεῖσθαι. γενομένου δὲ τοῦ Πάριδος ἀπράκτου φασὶ τὴν ᾽Αφροδίτην ἐπιτεχνῆσαι τοιοῦτόν τι, ὥστε καὶ μεταβάλλειν τοῦ ᾽Αλεξάνδρου τὴν ἰδέαν εἰς τὸν τοῦ Μενελάου χαρακτῆρα, καὶ οὕτω τὴν ῾Ελένην παραλογίσασθαι· δόξασαν γὰρ εἶναι ταῖς ἀληθείαις τὸν Μενέλαον μὴ ὀκνῆσαι ἅμα αὐτῶι ἕπεσθαι, φθάσασαν δὲ αὐτὴν ἄχρι τῆς νεὼς ἐμβαλλόμενος ἀνήχθη. ἡ ἱστορία παρὰ Νικίαι †τῶι πρώτωι†.

Image result for Ancient Greek Vase Paris and Helen

This kind of doubling and uncertainty about identity is certainly at home in any discussion of Euripides’ Helen (well, at least the first third where no one knows who anybody is). But it is also apt for the Odyssey where Odysseus cryptically insists (16.204):

“No other Odysseus will ever come home to you”

οὐ μὲν γάρ τοι ἔτ’ ἄλλος ἐλεύσεται ἐνθάδ’ ᾿Οδυσσεύς,

Paris, Primal Destroyer of Troy

Pindar, Paean, fr. 8a [=52i(A) P. Oxy. 841 (5, 1908)]

[She felt him] hurrying and her divine heart
Wailed with horrible groans
And she explained the reason
With words like this: So wholly…
Wide-browed son of Kronos–
You are bringing about the fated
Pain from when Hekabe [informed]
The Dardanian women when she
Was carrying this man in her body,
She believed that she would give birth
To a fire-breathing hundred-hander
One who would drag all Ilion
To the ground with his wicked [ways]
And she spoke [of him] [confessing]
The sign that came into her dreams
[shuddering in fear] at her foreknowledge.”

σπεύδοντ᾿, ἔκλαγξέ <θ᾿> ἱερ̣[
δαιμόνιον κέαρ ὀλοαῖ-
σι στοναχαῖς ἄφαρ,
καὶ τοιᾷδε κορυφᾷ σά-
μαινεν λόγων· ὦ παναπ.[εὐ-
ρ[ύ]οπα Κρονίων τελεῖς σ̣[
π[ε]πρωμέναν πάθαν α[
νικα Δαρδανίδαις Ἑκάβ[
. . ] ποτ᾿ εἶδεν ὑπὸ σπλάγχ[νοις
φέροισα τόνδ᾿ ἀνέρ᾿· ἔδοξ̣[ε γάρ
τεκεῖν πυρφόρον ἐρι[
Ἑκατόγχειρα, σκληρᾷ [
Ἴλιον πᾶσάν νιν ἐπὶ π[έδον
κατερεῖψαι· ἔειπε δὲ μ̣[
. . .] . ´[.]ᾳ τέρας ὑπνα̣[λέον
. . . . .]λ̣ε προμάθεια

Red figure vase. Paris holding a lance and wearing a Phrygian cap. Pillar to right

What Was the Name of Odysseus’ City?

Plutarch Greek Questions, 301d

“Why was the Ithakans’ city named Alalkomenai? The reason is that Antikleia was raped by Sisyphus when she was a virgin and conceived Odysseus. This story is told by many. But Istros the Alexandrian reports in his Commentaries  that she had been betrothed to Laertes and gave birth to Odysseus as she was being taken to him near the Alalkomeneion. For this reason, Istros reports that they called the city in Ithaka this, introducing the name as they would from a mother-city.”

πόθεν ἡ τῶν ᾽Ιθακησίων πόλις ᾽Αλαλκομεναὶ προσηγορεύθη; διὰ τὸ τὴν ᾽Αντίκλειαν ὑπὸ Σισύφου βιασθεῖσαν ἐν τῆι παρθενίαι τὸν ᾽Οδυσσέα συλλαβεῖν· ὑπὸ πλειόνων δ᾽ ἐστὶν εἰρημένον. ῎Ιστρος δὲ ὁ ᾽Αλεξανδρεὺς ἐν ῾Υπομνήμασι προσιστόρηκεν, ὅτι τῶι Λαέρτηι δοθεῖσα πρὸς γάμον καὶ ἀναγομένη περὶ τὸ ᾽Αλαλκομένειον ἐν τῆι Βοιωτίαι τὸν ᾽Οδυσσέα τέκοι· καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐκεῖνος ὥσπερ μητροπόλεως ἀναφέρων τοὐνομα τὴν ἐν ᾽Ιθάκηι πόλιν οὕτω φησὶ προσαγορεύεσθαι.

For sources  Odysseus as the son of Sisyphos, see Aeschylus, fr. 175; Sophocles Ajax 190; Philoktetes 416–17; Euripides Iphigena Aul 524

Sisyphus depicted on a black-figure amphora vase
Sisyphus. You thought that was a stone? By Swing Painter – User:Bibi Saint-Pol, own work, 2007-02-13, Public Domain,

In the Odyssey we find what seems to be a formulaic combination of three islands near Ithaca. When Odysseus describes where he’s from, he names his home and then adds (9.23-4):

“Many islands are inhabited right near each other
Doulikhion, Samê, and forest-covered Zakunthos.”

πολλαὶ ναιετάουσι μάλα σχεδὸν ἀλλήλῃσι,
Δουλίχιόν τε Σάμη τε καὶ ὑλήεσσα Ζάκυνθος.

And earlier during his discussion with Telemachus, Odysseus hears the suitors similarly described as (16.122-125; cf. 19.130-1):

“However so many of the best men who rule among the islands,
Doulikhion, Samê, and forest-covered Zakunthos.
Alongside all the men who lord over steep Ithaka—
This many men are wooing my mother and ruining my home”

ὅσσοι γὰρ νήσοισιν ἐπικρατέουσιν ἄριστοι,
Δουλιχίῳ τε Σάμῃ τε καὶ ὑλήεντι Ζακύνθῳ,
ἠδ’ ὅσσοι κραναὴν ᾿Ιθάκην κάτα κοιρανέουσι,
τόσσοι μητέρ’ ἐμὴν μνῶνται, τρύχουσι δὲ οἶκον.

Continue reading “What Was the Name of Odysseus’ City?”

There’s No Hektor Here

Euripides, Andromache, 96-102

“I have not a single but many things to mourn:
My native city, Hektor dead, and the hateful
Fate to which I was tied when I fell
Unworthily into a life of slavery.
Don’t ever say that any mortal is blessed
Before you see how they end life at death
How they finish that last day and go below.”

πάρεστι δ᾽ οὐχ ἓν ἀλλὰ πολλά μοι στένειν,
πόλιν πατρῴαν τὸν θανόντα θ᾽ Ἕκτορα
στερρόν τε τὸν ἐμὸν δαίμον᾽ ᾧ συνεζύγην
δούλειον ἦμαρ εἰσπεσοῦσ᾽ ἀναξίως.
χρὴ δ᾽ οὔποτ᾽ εἰπεῖν οὐδέν᾽ ὄλβιον βροτῶν,
πρὶν ἂν θανόντος τὴν τελευταίαν ἴδῃς
ὅπως περάσας ἡμέραν ἥξει κάτω.

168-177

“No Hektor is in this place.
Nor Priam nor their gold. But this is a Greek city.
Are you so lost in your ignorance, you wretch,
That you dare to sleep with the man who killed
Your husband and to have a child for those who
Killed your family? This is the way of all foreigners:
A father sleeps with his daughter and son with his mother,
A girl sleeps with her brother and the dearest relatives
Fall apart over murder. The law prevents none of these things.
Don’t introduce any of these practices here: it is not good
For one man to hold the reins for two wives.
Anyone who wants to avoid living badly
Prefers looking to one lover in his bed.”

οὐ γάρ ἐσθ᾽ Ἕκτωρ τάδε,
οὐ Πρίαμος οὐδὲ χρυσός, ἀλλ᾽ Ἑλλὰς πόλις.
εἰς τοῦτο δ᾽ ἥκεις ἀμαθίας, δύστηνε σύ,
ἣ παιδὶ πατρός, ὃς σὸν ὤλεσεν πόσιν,
τολμᾷς ξυνεύδειν καὶ τέκν᾽ αὐθεντῶν πάρα
τίκτειν. τοιοῦτον πᾶν τὸ βάρβαρον γένος:
πατήρ τε θυγατρὶ παῖς τε μητρὶ μείγνυται
κόρη τ᾽ ἀδελφῷ, διὰ φόνου δ᾽ οἱ φίλτατοι
χωροῦσι, καὶ τῶνδ᾽ οὐδὲν ἐξείργει νόμος.
ἃ μὴ παρ᾽ ἡμᾶς εἴσφερ᾽: οὐδὲ γὰρ καλὸν
δυοῖν γυναικοῖν ἄνδρ᾽ ἕν᾽ ἡνίας ἔχειν,
ἀλλ᾽ εἰς μίαν βλέποντες εὐναίαν Κύπριν
στέργουσιν, ὅστις μὴ κακῶς οἰκεῖν θέλει.

“Andromache ” by Georges Rochegrosse

Andromache’s Sons With Neoptolemos

Scholia ad Eur. Andromache, 24

“In these halls, I [Andromache] produced this male child / after sleeping with Achilles’ son, my master]:

One source says that she bore only one son to Neoptolemos while others say that there were three: Pyrrhos, Molossos, Aiakos and a daughter named Troas. Lysimachus, in the second volume of his On Homecomings, writes that Proxenos and Nikomedes the Akanthian report in Macedonian Matters that Andromache gave birth to those who were just mentioned, and from Leonassa, Kleodaios’ daughter, [he fathered?] Argos, Pergamos, Pandaros, Dorieus, Genyos, Danae and Eurylockus. They also say that Pyrrhos received the kingdom from his father and that the country was named Mossia to give honor to Molossos.”

κἀγὼ δόμοις [τοῖσδ᾽ ἄρσεν᾽ ἐντίκτω κόρον / πλαθεῖσ᾽ ᾽Αχιλλέως παιδί, δεσπότῃ γ᾽ ἐμῷ] ἰδίως ἕνα φησὶ παῖδα γενέσθαι τῷ Νεοπτολέμῷ, ἄλλων τρεῖς λεγόντων Πύρρον, Μολοσσόν, Αἰακίδην καὶ Τρωάδα. Λυσίμαχος δὲ ἐν τῷ δευτέρῳ τῶν Νόστων φησὶ Πρόξενον καὶ τὸν ᾽Ακάνθιον Νικομήδην ἐν τοῖς Μακεδονικοῖς ἱστορεῖν ἐκ μὲν ᾽Ανδρομάχης γενέσθαι τοὺς προειρημένους, ἐκ δὲ Λεωνάσσης τῆς Κλεοδαίου ῎Αργον, Πέργαμον, Πάνδαρον, Δωριέα, Γένυον, †δανάην, Εὐρύλοχον. φασὶ δὲ Πύρρῳ μὲν ἐγχειρίσαι τὴν βασιλείαν τὸν πατέρα, Μολοσσῷ δὲ τὴν ἐκ τῆς προσηγορίας τιμὴν προστάξαντα τὴν χώραν Μολοσσίαν ὀνομάζειν.

Andromache and Neoptolemus, by Pierre-Narcisse Guerin

Ignoring Women and Magic Stones: Diomedes after Troy

Juba, BNJ 275 F 5 (=Pseudo-Plutarch, Parallel Stories 23 p. 311b-c)

“After the destruction of Troy, Diomedes was shipwrecked in Libya where the king was Lykos. He had the custom of sacrificing foreigners to his father Ares. But Kallirhoe, his daughter, betrayed her father because she was infatuated with Diomedes.

She saved Diomedes by releasing him from his chains. But he sailed away without any concern for the woman who helped him and she killed herself by hanging. That is the story of Juba in the third book of his Libyan Tales.”

Μετὰ τὴν ᾽Ιλίου πόρθησιν ἐξεράσθη Διομήδης εἰς Λιβύην, ἔνθα Λύκος ἦν βασιλεύς, ἔθος ἔχων τοὺς ξένους ῎Αρει τῶι πατρὶ θύειν. Καλλιρρόη δὲ ἡ θυγάτηρ ἐρασθεῖσα Διομήδους τὸν πατέρα προύδωκε, καὶ τὸν Διομήδην ἔσωσε λύσασα τῶν δεσμῶν. ὁ δὲ ἀμελήσας τῆς εὐεργέτιδος ἀπέπλευσεν, ἡ δὲ βρόχωι ἐτελεύτησεν, ὡς ᾽Ιόβας ἐν τρίτηι Λιβυκῶν.

Scholia to Lykophron Alexandra 615

“After Troy was sacked, Diomedes threw stones from the walls of Troy into his ship for ballast. When he arrived in Argos and went unnoticed by Aigialeia, his wife, he went to Italy. When he found a Skythia dragon laying waste to Phaiacia, he killed it as he held Glaukos’ golden shield (and the dragon thought the shield was the golden skin of the ram).

Diomedes was especially honored for this act and he made a statue, shaping it from the stones taken from Troy. Timaios tells this story and Lykos does too in his third book. Later on, Daunos killed Diomedes and threw the statues into the sea. But they returned again over the waves and proceeded back to their bases. That’s the story, at least.”

ἁλούσης τῆς ᾽Ιλίου, Διομήδης ἀντὶ τοῦ ἕρματος ἐκ τοῦ τείχους τῶν Τρώων λίθους εἰς τὴν ναῦν ἐβάλετο. παραγενόμενος δὲ εἰς τὸ ῎Αργος καὶ ἐλαθεὶς ὑπὸ Αἰγιαλείας τῆς γαμετῆς παρεγένετο εἰς ᾽Ιταλίαν. εὑρὼν δὲ τηνικαῦτα τὸν ἐν τῆι Σκυθίαι δράκοντα λυμαινόμενον τὴν Φαιακίδα, διέφθειρε τοῦτον, τὴν τοῦ Γλαύκου χρυσῆν ἀσπίδα κατέχων, νομίσαντος τοῦ δράκοντος τὸ χρυσοῦν δέρας εἶναι τοῦ κριοῦ. τιμηθεὶς δὲ ἐπὶ τούτωι σφόδρα, ἀνδριάντα κατασκευάσας, ἱδρύσατο ἐκ τῶν λίθων τῶν ἐκ τῆς ᾽Ιλίου. ἱστορεῖ δὲ τοῦτο Τίμαιος καὶ Λύκος ἐν τῶι τρίτωι. ὕστερον δὲ ἀνελὼν ὁ Δαῦνος αὐτόν, ἔρριψε καὶ τοὺς ἀνδριάντας εἰς θάλασσαν· οὗτοι δὲ ἀνεχόμενοι τὰ κύματα, πάλιν ἐξήρχοντο πρὸς τὰς βάσεις αὐτῶν. καὶ ἡ μὲν ἱστορία τοιαύτη.

Some other tales: Odysseus tried to kill Diomedes

Angelica Kauffman, Zeuxis Selecting Models for His Painting of Helen of Troy, c 1778

There’s No Hektor Here

Euripides, Andromache, 96-102

“I have not a single but many things to mourn:
My native city, Hektor dead, and the hateful
Fate to which I was tied when I fell
Unworthily into a life of slavery.
Don’t ever say that any mortal is blessed
Before you see how they end life at death
How they finish that last day and go below.”

πάρεστι δ᾽ οὐχ ἓν ἀλλὰ πολλά μοι στένειν,
πόλιν πατρῴαν τὸν θανόντα θ᾽ Ἕκτορα
στερρόν τε τὸν ἐμὸν δαίμον᾽ ᾧ συνεζύγην
δούλειον ἦμαρ εἰσπεσοῦσ᾽ ἀναξίως.
χρὴ δ᾽ οὔποτ᾽ εἰπεῖν οὐδέν᾽ ὄλβιον βροτῶν,
πρὶν ἂν θανόντος τὴν τελευταίαν ἴδῃς
ὅπως περάσας ἡμέραν ἥξει κάτω.

168-177

“No Hektor is in this place.
Nor Priam nor their gold. But this is a Greek city.
Are you so lost in your ignorance, you wretch,
That you dare to sleep with the man who killed
Your husband and to have a child for those who
Killed your family? This is the way of all foreigners:
A father sleeps with his daughter and son with his mother,
A girl sleeps with her brother and the dearest relatives
Fall apart over murder. The law prevents none of these things.
Don’t introduce any of these practices here: it is not good
For one man to hold the reins for two wives.
Anyone who wants to avoid living badly
Prefers looking to one lover in his bed.”

οὐ γάρ ἐσθ᾽ Ἕκτωρ τάδε,
οὐ Πρίαμος οὐδὲ χρυσός, ἀλλ᾽ Ἑλλὰς πόλις.
εἰς τοῦτο δ᾽ ἥκεις ἀμαθίας, δύστηνε σύ,
ἣ παιδὶ πατρός, ὃς σὸν ὤλεσεν πόσιν,
τολμᾷς ξυνεύδειν καὶ τέκν᾽ αὐθεντῶν πάρα
τίκτειν. τοιοῦτον πᾶν τὸ βάρβαρον γένος:
πατήρ τε θυγατρὶ παῖς τε μητρὶ μείγνυται
κόρη τ᾽ ἀδελφῷ, διὰ φόνου δ᾽ οἱ φίλτατοι
χωροῦσι, καὶ τῶνδ᾽ οὐδὲν ἐξείργει νόμος.
ἃ μὴ παρ᾽ ἡμᾶς εἴσφερ᾽: οὐδὲ γὰρ καλὸν
δυοῖν γυναικοῖν ἄνδρ᾽ ἕν᾽ ἡνίας ἔχειν,
ἀλλ᾽ εἰς μίαν βλέποντες εὐναίαν Κύπριν
στέργουσιν, ὅστις μὴ κακῶς οἰκεῖν θέλει.

“Amdromache” by Georges Rochegrosse

What Hephaestus Really Wanted from Thetis

Schol. to Pin. Nemian Odes, 4.81

“Phylarkhos claims that Thetis went to Hephaistos on Olympos so that he might create weapons for Achilles and that he did it. But, because Hephaistos was lusting after Thetis, he said he would not give them to her unless she had sex with him. She promised him that she would, but that she only wanted to try on the weapons first, so she could see if the gear he had made was fit for Achilles. She was actually the same size as him.

Once Hephaistos agreed on this, Thetis armed herself and fled. Because he was incapable of grabbing her, he took a hammer and hit Thetis in the ankle. Injured in this way, she went to Thessaly and healed in the city that is called Thetideion after her.”

Φύλαρχός φησι Θέτιν πρὸς ῞Ηφαιστον ἐλθεῖν εἰς τὸν ῎Ολυμπον, ὅπως ᾽Αχιλλεῖ ὅπλα κατασκευάσηι, τὸν δὲ ποιῆσαι. ἐρωτικῶς δὲ ἔχοντα τὸν ῞Ηφαιστον τῆς Θέτιδος, οὐ φάναι ἂν δώσειν αὐτῆι, εἰ μὴ αὐτῶι προσομιλήσαι. τὴν δὲ αὐτῶι ὑποσχέσθαι, θέλειν μέντοι ὁπλίζεσθαι, ὅπως ἴδηι εἰ ἁρμόζει ἃ ἐπεποιήκει ὅπλα τῶι ᾽Αχιλλεῖ· ἴσην γὰρ αὐτὴν ἐκείνωι εἶναι. τοῦ δὲ παραχωρήσαντος ὁπλισαμένην τὴν Θέτιν φυγεῖν, τὸν δὲ οὐ δυνάμενον καταλαβεῖν σφύραν λαβεῖν καὶ πατάξαι εἰς τὸ σφυρὸν τὴν Θέτιν· τὴν δὲ κακῶς διατεθεῖσαν ἐλθεῖν εἰς Θετταλίαν καὶ ἰαθῆναι ἐν τῆι πόλει ταύτηι τῆι ἀπ᾽ αὐτῆς Θετιδείωι καλουμένηι.

Image result for Thetis Berlin F2294
Hephaistos Thetis Kylix by the Foundry Painter Antikensammlung Berlin F2294

Fate-Breaker or Bag-boy? Some Odd Etymologies for the Trojan Paris

Major names in the Homeric tradition have some pretty opaque etymological origins. But folk etymologies (really any ‘false’ etymologies that are important to the reception of myths in performance) are viable objects of study both for what they tell us about Greek thoughts on language and for what they tell us about the life of myths outside our extant poems. Some of these are ridiculous–as in “lipless Achilles” or the story of an Odysseus who was born on the road in the rain. But they all tell us something about how audiences responded to traditional tales.

Here are some etymologies for Paris. (and credit to @spannycat for asking about this)

Photios

“Ill-passing” [Dusparis] someone named for evil, for example when Paris was born. A bad-nickname. Also, a place that is difficult to pass through [duspariton], unpassable. Xenophon uses it this way in the Anabasis.

Δύσπαρι (Γ 39)· ἐπὶ κακῷ ὠνομασμένε, οἷον ζήσας ὡς Πάρις, δυσώνυμε. καὶ δυσπάριτον χωρίον· τὸ ἄβατον. οὕτως Ξενοφῶν ἐν τῇ ᾿Αναβάσει (4, 1, 25).

Etym. Gud. 454.39

“Paris, of Paris [Paridos], the son of Hekabê who was called Alexander and also Paris. The name comes from the fire [Fire] in Ida. For Hekabê believed in a dream that she was giving birth to a torch which would consume the city with fire and the forest on Ida too. For this reason, she exposed him on Ida after he was born.”

Πάρις, Πάριδος, ὁ υἱὸς ῾Εκάβης ἐκλήθη ᾿Αλέξανδρος, ὁ καὶ Πάρις. παρὰ τὸ πῦρ καὶ τὴν ῎Ιδην. ἐν ὁράματι γὰρ ἡ ῾Εκάβη ἐνόμισε δάλον τίκτειν, ὅστις κατέφλεγε τὴν πόλιν, καὶ τὴν ἐν τῇ ῎Ιδη ὕλην· καὶ τούτου χάριν τεχθέντα ἐν τῇ ῎Ιδῃ ἀπέῤῥιψεν.

Etymologicum Magnum 654.37

“Paris: this is from going against [parienai] fate, which means to escape death. Or it is from a pêra which is a kind of bag. It comes from the fact that he was taken care of in a shepherd’s bag.”

Πάρις: Παρὰ τὸ παριέναι τὸν μόρον, τουτέστιν ἐκφυγεῖν τὸν θάνατον· ἢ παρὰ τὴν πήραν, ὃ σημαίνει τὸ μαρσίπιον· ἀπὸ τοῦ ἐν τῇ ποιμαντικῇ πήρᾳ ἀνατραφῆναι.

What is up with all the variant etymologies? It seems that the name Paris is not from Greek origins. As with other famous names, once the origins of a word become obscure, later audiences re-analyze them in some fantastic ways.

“The hero ’ s other name, Paris, is clearly non-Greek. Watkins indicated a possible Luvian attestation of it and related it to the name of his father Priam, which is allegedly of the same etymology (Luvian: Pariyamuvas ‘ supreme in force ’ , from pari(ya)-, which is contracted in the case of Priam).³² It may thus seem that the name Paris is equivalent in sense to Alexandros. However, it is very doubtful that the poem appreciated the meaning of a name in a foreign language…” Kanavou 2015, 85)

Kanavou, Nikoletta. The Names of Homeric Heroes : Problems and Interpretations, De Gruyter, Inc., 2015

 

Image result for greek vase paris
A Judgment of Paris Vase at the MFA.