Homer, Iliad VI 116-155

ὣς ἄρα φωνήσας ἀπέβη κορυθαίολος Ἕκτωρ:

ἀμφὶ δέ μιν σφυρὰ τύπτε καὶ αὐχένα δέρμα κελαινὸν

ἄντυξ ἣ πυμάτη θέεν ἀσπίδος ὀμφαλοέσσης.

Γλαῦκος δ᾽ Ἱππολόχοιο πάϊς καὶ Τυδέος υἱὸς

ἐς μέσον ἀμφοτέρων συνίτην μεμαῶτε μάχεσθαι.120

οἳ δ᾽ ὅτε δὴ σχεδὸν ἦσαν ἐπ᾽ ἀλλήλοισιν ἰόντε,

τὸν πρότερος προσέειπε βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης:

τίς δὲ σύ ἐσσι φέριστε καταθνητῶν ἀνθρώπων;

οὐ μὲν γάρ ποτ᾽ ὄπωπα μάχῃ ἔνι κυδιανείρῃ

τὸ πρίν: ἀτὰρ μὲν νῦν γε πολὺ προβέβηκας ἁπάντων125

σῷ θάρσει, ὅ τ᾽ ἐμὸν δολιχόσκιον ἔγχος ἔμεινας:

δυστήνων δέ τε παῖδες ἐμῷ μένει ἀντιόωσιν.

εἰ δέ τις ἀθανάτων γε κατ᾽ οὐρανοῦ εἰλήλουθας,

οὐκ ἂν ἔγωγε θεοῖσιν ἐπουρανίοισι μαχοίμην.

οὐδὲ γὰρ οὐδὲ Δρύαντος υἱὸς κρατερὸς Λυκόοργος130

δὴν ἦν, ὅς ῥα θεοῖσιν ἐπουρανίοισιν ἔριζεν:

ὅς ποτε μαινομένοιο Διωνύσοιο τιθήνας

σεῦε κατ᾽ ἠγάθεον Νυσήϊον: αἳ δ᾽ ἅμα πᾶσαι

θύσθλα χαμαὶ κατέχευαν ὑπ᾽ ἀνδροφόνοιο Λυκούργου

θεινόμεναι βουπλῆγι: Διώνυσος δὲ φοβηθεὶς135

δύσεθ᾽ ἁλὸς κατὰ κῦμα, Θέτις δ᾽ ὑπεδέξατο κόλπῳ

δειδιότα: κρατερὸς γὰρ ἔχε τρόμος ἀνδρὸς ὁμοκλῇ.

τῷ μὲν ἔπειτ᾽ ὀδύσαντο θεοὶ ῥεῖα ζώοντες,

καί μιν τυφλὸν ἔθηκε Κρόνου πάϊς: οὐδ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἔτι δὴν

ἦν, ἐπεὶ ἀθανάτοισιν ἀπήχθετο πᾶσι θεοῖσιν:140

οὐδ᾽ ἂν ἐγὼ μακάρεσσι θεοῖς ἐθέλοιμι μάχεσθαι.

εἰ δέ τίς ἐσσι βροτῶν οἳ ἀρούρης καρπὸν ἔδουσιν,

ἆσσον ἴθ᾽ ὥς κεν θᾶσσον ὀλέθρου πείραθ᾽ ἵκηαι.

τὸν δ᾽ αὖθ᾽ Ἱππολόχοιο προσηύδα φαίδιμος υἱός:

Τυδεΐδη μεγάθυμε τί ἢ γενεὴν ἐρεείνεις;145

οἵη περ φύλλων γενεὴ τοίη δὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν.

φύλλα τὰ μέν τ᾽ ἄνεμος χαμάδις χέει, ἄλλα δέ θ᾽ ὕλη

τηλεθόωσα φύει, ἔαρος δ᾽ ἐπιγίγνεται ὥρη:

ὣς ἀνδρῶν γενεὴ ἣ μὲν φύει ἣ δ᾽ ἀπολήγει.

εἰ δ᾽ ἐθέλεις καὶ ταῦτα δαήμεναι ὄφρ᾽ ἐῢ εἰδῇς150

ἡμετέρην γενεήν, πολλοὶ δέ μιν ἄνδρες ἴσασιν:

ἔστι πόλις Ἐφύρη μυχῷ Ἄργεος ἱπποβότοιο,

ἔνθα δὲ Σίσυφος ἔσκεν, ὃ κέρδιστος γένετ᾽ ἀνδρῶν,

Σίσυφος Αἰολίδης: ὃ δ᾽ ἄρα Γλαῦκον τέκεθ᾽ υἱόν,

αὐτὰρ Γλαῦκος τίκτεν ἀμύμονα Βελλεροφόντην:155

While Hector returns to Troy, Diomedes encounters the Lycian Glaucus and professes not to know who he is. Diomedes declines to fight him if he is a god, recalling the story of the Thracian king Lycurgus, who fought against the god Dionysus and his followers and was severly punished. Glaucus at first discounts the importance of genealogy, since human generations are as ephemeral as the leaves in the forest, but then begins to trace his own ancestry.

Diomedes’ exchange with Glaucus concludes his aristeia  begun in Book Five. The entire encounter feels like a digression from the main plot, because Homer has made us feel the urgency of Hector’s mission. Classical scholars have speculated in the past that the episode was once an independent poem, which Homer incorporated into his narrative. That may be so, but this version was clearly crafted by the poet to fit his own purposes. [read full essay]

116: φωνήσας: nom. sg. aor. ptc. > φωνέω. ἀπέβη: 3rd sg. root aor. > ἀπο-βαίνω.

117: the rim (ἄντυξ) of Hector’s large sheild knocks against his ankles and neck as he leaves. The detail marks his haste. Mycenaean sheilds were of various designs. This one is man-sized, meant to cover the entire body, made of hides with a bronze rim, and having a boss (ὀμφαλός) a projection in the center ending in a button or point. ἀμφὶ: “on both sides,” i.e. above and below. τύπτε: impf., subject is δέρμα κελαινὸν, direct object μιν (= αὐτόν).

118: : “which…,” relative. πυμάτη θέεν: “ran around the edge of.”

120: μεμαῶτε: “being eager,” nom. dual ptc. > μέμονα, reduplicated perfect with present sense.

121: οἳ: “they,” “those,” nom. pl. demonstrative. ὅτε δὴ: “just when.” δὴ implies exactness. ἦσαν: 3rd pl. impf. > εἰμί. ἰόντε: dual nom. ptc. > εἶμι.

122: τὸν: Glaucus. βοὴν: “in/at the battle cry,” acc. of respect. προσέειπε: = προσεῖπε. ἔειπε is a reduplicated and augmented aorist (Graziosi-Haubold).

123: τίς δὲ: “who then…?” δὲ is often used in questions to express surprise, akin to “just who do you think you are?” ἐσσι: 2nd sg. pres. > εἰμί, Attic εἶ. φέριστε: “valiant man,” a friendly form of address, perhaps used sarcastically here. Compare φέρτατος, which is one of the superlatives to ἀγαθός.

124–127: Diomedes expands his assertion, possibly untrue but properly insulting, that he does not know Glaucus. He has never seen him in battle (124)—up to now, that is ... Now, by contrast, Glaucus has advanced far beyond the rest (125)—through overconfidence, indeed ... to await Diomedes’ spear (126) (Kirk 172).

124: ὄπωπα: 1st sg. pf. > ὁράω. μάχῃ ἔνι: = ἐν μάχῃ (anastrophe).

125: τὸ πρίν: “before,” adverbial acc. ἀτὰρ μὲν: particles in strong contrast. νῦν γε: “now,” “now in fact,” restrictive and emphatic in contrast to πρίν. πολὺ: “far,” adverbial acc. προβέβηκας: 2nd sg. pf. > προβάινω. ἁπάντων: either partitive gen., “of all the men,” or separation, “from all men.” 

126: ὅ τ’:“because,” “now that.” ὅτε (more often temporal “when,” but here expressing a reason why, after νῦν) motivates the judgment expressed in σῷ θάρσει (Graziosi-Haubold). ἔμεινας: “waited for,” 2nd sg. aor. > μένω.

127: δυστήνωνπαῖδες: “the children of unlucky parents…,” “unlucky are they whose children ….” The parents have to mourn their sons’ deaths. δυστήνων is in emphatic position. τε: Diomedes’ boast takes the form of a general statement and is marked as such by the epic τε (Graziosi-Haubold, see Monro 332). μένει: “my might,” > μένος, dat. sg. object. ἀντιόωσιν: = Attic ἀντιῶσιν, 3rd pl. pres. > ἀντιάω, “stretched” to an artificial form to fit the meter (so-called diectasis).

128-43: Diomedes has begun by assuming his opponent to be mortal, but now adds complacently, or perhaps sarcastically, that he would not fight against a god. The singer makes him avoid all reference to recent exploits against gods in Book 5, where he was given special sanction by Athena, but rather adduces, in accord with the lighter and more reminiscent tone of this encounter as whole, the unfamliar exemplum of Lycrugus and Dionysus (Kirk). Diomedes explains his disinclination to fight with gods by reference to the story of Lycurgus, the king of Thrace who refused to recognize the divinity of Dionsysus, the youthful, beautiful, but effeminate god of wine. Lycurgus attempted to drive off Dionysus’ “nurses” (τιθήνας)—that is, his female worshippers known in later Greek texts as Maenads or Bacchae. Their traditional relgiously inspired mental frenzy (μανία) is here ascribed to the god himself (μαινομένοιο 121). Lycurgus attacked them, and no doubt Dionysus as well, with an ox whip (βουπλήξ). Dionysus, a proverbially “soft” or “effeminate” god, was terrified by Lycurgus and took refuge under the sea with Thetis. Lycrugus was made blind by Zeus, and did not live long after that. This is a rare mention of Dionysus in Homer, who tends to ignore the main agricultural deities, Dionysus and Demeter. Resistance to Dionysus on the part of authority figures is a promiment feature of his mythology, especially well known from the story of Pentheus in Euripides’ Bacchae. The madness of Lycurgus is occasionally depicted in Greek art, for example on an Apulian red-figured calyx-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water) dating to 350-340 BC, and now in the British Museum (1849,0623.48).

128: τις ἀθανάτων: “as one of the gods,” a predicate to the subject “you.” κατ᾽οὐρανοῦ: “down from the sky,” genitive of place from which (Monro 213.1). κατὰ is directional. εἰλήλουθας: 2nd sg. pf. > ἔρχομαι.

129: μαχοίμην: potential opt. (Goodell 479). οὐδὲ γὰρ οὐδὲ Δρύαντος υἱὸς: “No (I would not), for not even the son of Dryas...”

131: δὴν ἦν: the first of three rhymes in Diomedes’ speech. ἦν: 3rd sg. impf. > εἰμί, here existential, i.e. “lived” (Goodell 384). ὅς ῥα: “he who,” ὅς (often a demonstrative pronoun) here functions as relative pronoun, whose antecedent is Lycurgus (Monro 266). ἔριζεν: “fought with” + dat. (Monro 144).

132: ποτε: “once upon a time,” introducing the story. τιθήνας: a τιθήνη is normally a nurse, that is, a woman who breastfeeds a child for its mother and then looks after it as it grows up. Later tradition said that after Dionysus was born in Thebes he was handed over to nymphs on Mt. Nysa, who served as his nurses.

133: σεῦε: “tried to drive away, chase, hunt,” unaugmented epic aor. of σεύω. κατ᾽: “over,” extensive in sense. Νυσήιον: Mt. Nysa, the birthplace of Dionysus, was variously located depending on context and author.

134: ὑπ᾽: “because of…,” ὑπό + gen. of cause (Monro 204.3). κατέχευαν: epic aor. act. > καταχέω.

135: φοβηθεὶς: aor. pass. ptc. > φοβέω.

136: δύσεθ’: = δύσετο, unaugmented 3rd sg. “mixed” aor., with both σ and thematic ε. κατὰ: “down into,” acc. of place to which.

137: δειδιότα: acc. sg. ptc. > δείδω, a perfect verb with present meaning. It modifies missing acc., i.e. Lycurgus. κρατερὸς γὰρ ἔχε τρόμος ἀνδρὸς ὁμοκλῇ: “for mighty fear got hold (of Dionysus) at the man’s shouting.”

138: τῷ: “this one,” “him,” Lycurgus (see 6.9 above). ῥεῖα: in contrast to mortal hardships.

139: ἔθηκε: “made,” aor. τίθημι + double acc. (Goodell 534).

140: ἦν: see 6.131 above. ἀπήχθετο: “became hateful to” + dat., aor. dep. mid. > ἀπεχθάνομαι.

141: οὐδ᾽ἂνἐθέλοιμι: “I would not wish,” potential opt. (Goodell 479). θεοῖς: “with,” i.e. “against,” dat. with verb of fighting (see 6.131), pres. dep. mid. inf. > μάχομαι (Goodell 525).

142: εἰ δέ τίς: “and if any,” indefinite τις before the enclitic εἰμί, parallel to 6.128. ἐσσι: 2nd sg. pres. > εἰμί, Attic εἶ. οἳ: “who,” relative pronoun.

143: ἴθ’: = ἴθι, sg. imperative > εἶμι. ὥς κεν … ἵκηαι: “so that you might approach,” purpose clause, with subjunctive + κεν (= ἄν) (Goodell 636a). ἵκη(σ)αι is uncontracted 2nd sg. aor. subj. > ἱκνέομαι. θᾶσσον: comparative adv., as often, is formed as an adverbial acc. πείραθ᾽: = πείρατα, elision with aspiration. ὀλέθρου πείραθ᾽: either “the noose of destruction” or “the ending of (i.e. the ending that consists in) destruction.” Both are possible meanings for πεῖραρ πείρατος, τό.

145: τίη: “why?” strengthened form of τί, which is elsewhere τί ἤ, “why truly?”

146: οἵη περτοίη: “what very sort … such,” correlatives (relative and demonstrative) which can be rendered “just as … such.” γενεὴ: supply a linking verb, “is.” ἀνδρῶν: supply γενεὴ and linking verb.

147: φύλλα τὰ μέν τ’ἄλλα δέ θ’: “as for the leaves, some … others,” acc. of respect (“in respect to…”). ἄλλα δέ θ᾽ ὕλη / τηλεθόωσα φύει: “but the luxuruant forest sprouts others.” φύει is transitive. θ᾽: = τε, elided before a rough breathing, here, “epic” τε, used in similes and generalizing statements (Monro 332.b).

148: ἔαρος δ᾽ ἐπιγίγνεται ὥρη: paratactic style, for “when the springtime comes.”

149: ὥς: “so,” “in this way,” finishing off the simile. φύει: here intransitive, “grows up.”

150: καὶ ταῦτα δαήμεναι: “to learn this too,” aor. inf. > aor. ἐδάην, unattested in the present (Monro 85.1). εἰδῇς: “so that you may know,” purpose clause, pf. subj. > οἶδα.

151: μιν: “it,” (= αὐτήν), i.e. his lineage. ἴσασιν: 3rd pl. > οἶδα, perfect in form but present in sense.

152: Ἐφύρη: Ephyre, which Homer locates in the northeast Argolid, was identified by ancient readers of Homer with Corinth (though Homer mentions Corinth in the Catalogue of Ships in Book 2). ἔστι: “there is” (Goodell 384.b). μυχῷ: “in the recesses,” locative dative place where without a preposition (Goodell 527.a).

153: ἔσκεν: “was,” iterative impf. of εἰμί, (see 6.19). : “who,” relative pronoun (see 6.131). γένετ: = γένετ(ο), aor. > γίγνομαι.

154: τέκεθ: = τέκετο, aor. mid. > τίκτω, with the aor. mid. referring to a father (vs. aor. act., which is used of mothers).

155: τίκτεν: “was raising,” i.e. rearing, unaugmented impf. The impf. act., as is often the case, refers to a father raising his child.

ἄρα, ῥά (enclit.), ἄρ, ῥ᾿: so, then, as you know, you know, it seems. Very often it marks an action as natural, or reminds of something recently said. It also marks transitions.

φωνέω, aor. φώνησεν: to speak

ἀποβαίνω, aor. ἀπεβήσετο or ἀπέβη: to go away, dismount

κορυθαίολος: crest-waving, gleaming-crested

κτωρ ‑ορος : Hector

μιν: him, her, it

σφυρόν: the ankle

τύπτω: to beat, strike

αὐχήν -ένος ὁ: the neck, throat

δέρμα -ατος τό: skin, hide, leather

κελαινός: black, dark, murky

ἄντυξ -υγος ἡ: rim of a shield or chariot

πύματος: hindmost, last

θέω θεύσομαι: to run

ἀσπίς -ίδος ἡ: shield

ὀμφαλόεις: bossed, studded

Γλαῦκος -ου ὁ: Glaucus, the brave leader of the Lycians and the grandson of Bellerophon

Ἱππόλοχος -ου ὁ: Hippolochus, son of Bellerophon and father of Glaucus.

Τυδεύς -έος ὁ: Tydeus, son of Oeneus of Calydon, brother of Meleager, father of Diomedes. Having slain some kinsmen, he fled to Argos, where he married a daughter of King Adrastus. He was one of the 'Seven against Thebes.'

σύνειμι, impf. dual συνίτην (εἶμι): to go (or come) together120

μέμαα, perf.: to be eager, rush on impetuously. μεμαότες, eager

σχεδόν: close, near

προσλέγω: say in addition

βοή -ῆς ἡ: a loud cry, shout

Διομήδης -εος ὁ: Diomedes, son of Tydeus, king of Argos, one of the bravest and mightiest of the Achaeans fighting in Troy

φέρτατος: bravest, best

καταθνητός: mortal

κυδιάνειρα: renowned, glorious

ἀτάρ: but, yet125

προβαίνω: to step on, step forward, advance

θάρσος -εος τό: courage, boldness

δολιχόσκιος -ον: casting a long shadow

ἔγχος -εος τό: spear, lance

δύστηνος: wretched, unhappy, unfortunate, disastrous

μένος -εος τό: might, force, strength, prowess, courage

ἀντιάω or ἀντιόω: to meet

θάνατος -ον: undying, immortal, imperishable. οἱ ἀθάνατοι: the immortals, the gods

ἐπουράνιος: in heaven, heavenly

Δρύας -αντος ὁ: Dryas, father of the Thracian king Lycurgus130

κρατερός -ά -όν: strong, powerful, mighty

Λυκόοργος: Lycurgus, king of the Thracian Edonians

δήν: long, for a long while

ἐρίζω: to strive, wrangle, quarrel

μαίνομαι ἔμηνα μέμηνα ἐμάνην: to rage, be furious, be frantic, rave

Διόνυσος or Διώνυσος: the god Dionysus, son of Zeus and Semele. The Thracian king Lycurgus attacked the nymphs, and Dionysus fled into the sea, to Thetis.

τιθήνη: a nurse

σεύω, aor. ἔσσευα, σεῦε, or σεύατο, perf. ἔσσυμαι, ἐσσύμενον, plpf. as aor. ἔσσυτο: to drive, pursue, start; (pass.) hasten, hurry, rush

ἠγάθεος: very divine, most holy

Νυσήϊον: Mount Nysa, a mythical mountain set by the poet in Thrace

θύσθλα (pl.): thyrsi, wands used in the worship of Dionysus, with a pine cone at one end and wound about with ivy

χαμαί: on the earth, on the ground

καταχέω, aor. κατέχευσαν: to pour down, shower, let fall

ἀνδροφόνος: man-slaying

θείνω, aor. ἔπεφνον, πέφνε, inf. πεφνέμεν: to strike, beat, wound; to batter, kill (only found in forms with redupl. πεφ-)135

βουπλήξ: an ox-goad

δύω, fut. δύσω, aor. inf. δῦσαι, aor. mid. (ἐ)δύσετο, aor. ἔδυ, perf. δέδυκεν: to enter, go into, put on; πρὶν ἠέλιον δῦναι, before the sun set; γαῖαν ἐδύτην, (their souls) entered the earth


ἅλς ἁλός ὁ, ἡ: salt; sea

κῦμα -ατος τό: wave, billow

Θέτις -ιδος ἡ: Thetis, a sea goddess, wife of Peleus, and mother of Achilles

ὑποδέχομαι: to receive, entertain; to promise

κόλπος -ου ὁ: bosom

δείδω, aor. (ἔ)δεισεν, perf. δείδοικα, perf. imperat. δείδιθι, perf. partic. δειδιότες, plpf. ἐδείδιμεν: to fear, be afraid

τρόμος: a trembling, quaking, quivering

ὁμοκλή: a shout

ὀδύσσομαι: to grow angry, be enraged

ῥεῖα: easily, lightly

ζώω, partic. ζῶντος and ζώοντες: to live

τυφλός -ή -όν: blind

Κρόνος: Cronus, father of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, and Hera.

ἀπεχθάνομαι: to be hated140

μάκαρ: blessed, happy

βροτός -οῦ ὁ: a mortal man

ἄρουρα: cultivated land, plowed field, wheatfield

καρπός -οῦ ὁ: fruit

ἔδω: to eat

ἆσσον: nearer, very near

ὄλεθρος -ου ὁ: ruin, destruction, death

πεῖραρ -ατος τό: extremity, extreme limit, border; end; end of a noose, knot, string

ἱκνέομαι and ἵκω, fut. ἵξομαι, aor. ἵκετο and ἷξε(ν), aor. subj. ἵκωμαι and ἵκηαι: to come, arrive at, reach

αὖτε: again, on the other hand, however, but

προσαυδάω: to speak to, address

φαίδιμος -ον: illustrious, glorious

Τυδεΐδης: son of Tydeus145

μεγάθῡμος -ον: great-souled, high-minded

γενεά or γενεή: race, stock, family

ἐρεείνω: to ask

οἷος -α -ον: of what sort, what kind of, what, such as, as

φύλλον: a leaf

τοῖος -α -ον: such, like this

ἄνεμος -ου ὁ: wind

χαμάδις: to the ground, on the ground

χέω, aor. ἔχεεν or ἔχευε, χύντο, perf. κέχυνται, plpf. κέχυτο: to pour, heap (of a funeral mound), throw into a heap; σὺν ὅρκια ἔχευαν, broke (threw into a disorderly heap) the oaths; ἀμφὶ υἱὸν ἐχεύατο πήχεα, threw (her) arms about (her) son; δάκρυ χέων, weeping

ὕλη -ης ἡ : wood, forest

τηλεθάω: to flourish, grow, bloom

ἔαρ ἔαρος τό: spring

ἐπιγίγνομαι: to be born after, come into being after

ὥρη: season, especially the spring

ἀπολήγω: to cease, die away, die

δαήμεναι (aor. inf.), aor. subj. δαῶμεν: to learn150

ὄφρα: in order that; as long as, until

Ἐφύρα: Ephyra, a place (location unclear)

μυχός: the innermost place, inmost nook

Ἄργος -εος τό: Argos, the home of Diomedes; the realm of Agamemnon; the whole Peloponnese

ἱππόβοτος: grazed by horses

Σίσυφος: Sisyphus, son of Aeolus, father of Glaucus, who was compelled in Hades to roll a stone uphill, which would continually roll back down

κερδίων: more profitable, more advantageous, better; sup. κέρδιστος, the slyest

Αἰολίδης: son of Aeolus

ἀμύμων -ονος: blameless, noble, excellent155

Βελλεροφόντης: Bellerophon, son of Glaucus, grandson of Sisyphus. His story is told at length in lines 153-201.

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Suggested Citation

Thomas Van Nortwick and Geoffrey Steadman, Homer: Iliad 6 and 22. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2018. ISBN: 978-1-947822-11-5.http://dcc.dickinson.edu/homer-iliad/homer-iliad-vi-116-155