Homer, Iliad VI 156-190

τῷ δὲ θεοὶ κάλλός τε καὶ ἠνορέην ἐρατεινὴν

ὤπασαν: αὐτάρ οἱ Προῖτος κακὰ μήσατο θυμῷ,

ὅς ῥ᾽ ἐκ δήμου ἔλασσεν, ἐπεὶ πολὺ φέρτερος ἦεν,

Ἀργείων: Ζεὺς γάρ οἱ ὑπὸ σκήπτρῳ ἐδάμασσε.

τῷ δὲ γυνὴ Προίτου ἐπεμήνατο δῖ᾽ Ἄντεια160

κρυπταδίῃ φιλότητι μιγήμεναι: ἀλλὰ τὸν οὔ τι

πεῖθ᾽ ἀγαθὰ φρονέοντα δαΐφρονα Βελλεροφόντην.

ἣ δὲ ψευσαμένη Προῖτον βασιλῆα προσηύδα:

τεθναίης ὦ Προῖτ᾽, ἢ κάκτανε Βελλεροφόντην,

ὅς μ᾽ ἔθελεν φιλότητι μιγήμεναι οὐκ ἐθελούσῃ.165

ὣς φάτο, τὸν δὲ ἄνακτα χόλος λάβεν οἷον ἄκουσε:

κτεῖναι μέν ῥ᾽ ἀλέεινε, σεβάσσατο γὰρ τό γε θυμῷ,

πέμπε δέ μιν Λυκίην δέ, πόρεν δ᾽ ὅ γε σήματα λυγρὰ

γράψας ἐν πίνακι πτυκτῷ θυμοφθόρα πολλά,

δεῖξαι δ᾽ ἠνώγειν ᾧ πενθερῷ ὄφρ᾽ ἀπόλοιτο.170

αὐτὰρ ὁ βῆ Λυκίην δὲ θεῶν ὑπ᾽ ἀμύμονι πομπῇ.

ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε δὴ Λυκίην ἷξε Ξάνθόν τε ῥέοντα,

προφρονέως μιν τῖεν ἄναξ Λυκίης εὐρείης:

ἐννῆμαρ ξείνισσε καὶ ἐννέα βοῦς ἱέρευσεν.

ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε δὴ δεκάτη ἐφάνη ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠὼς175

καὶ τότε μιν ἐρέεινε καὶ ᾔτεε σῆμα ἰδέσθαι

ὅττί ῥά οἱ γαμβροῖο πάρα Προίτοιο φέροιτο.

αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ σῆμα κακὸν παρεδέξατο γαμβροῦ,

πρῶτον μέν ῥα Χίμαιραν ἀμαιμακέτην ἐκέλευσε

πεφνέμεν: ἣ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἔην θεῖον γένος οὐδ᾽ ἀνθρώπων,180

πρόσθε λέων, ὄπιθεν δὲ δράκων, μέσση δὲ χίμαιρα,

δεινὸν ἀποπνείουσα πυρὸς μένος αἰθομένοιο,

καὶ τὴν μὲν κατέπεφνε θεῶν τεράεσσι πιθήσας.

δεύτερον αὖ Σολύμοισι μαχέσσατο κυδαλίμοισι:

καρτίστην δὴ τήν γε μάχην φάτο δύμεναι ἀνδρῶν.185

τὸ τρίτον αὖ κατέπεφνεν Ἀμαζόνας ἀντιανείρας.

τῷ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἀνερχομένῳ πυκινὸν δόλον ἄλλον ὕφαινε:

κρίνας ἐκ Λυκίης εὐρείης φῶτας ἀρίστους

εἷσε λόχον: τοὶ δ᾽ οὔ τι πάλιν οἶκον δὲ νέοντο:

πάντας γὰρ κατέπεφνεν ἀμύμων Βελλεροφόντης.190

Glaucus continues his family history, relating the story of his grandfather Bellerophon (or Bellerophontes). Proitos and his wife Anteia hatched a plan to have Bellerophon killed, sending him to Lycia with a sealed note that ordered the recipient to kill the bearer. After receiving the note, the king of Lycia set a series of tasks for Bellerophon meant to kill him, but all failed to do so.

The story of Bellerophontes appears as a self-contained narrative inside the Glaucus-Diomedes digression, an example of what is called an “epyllion,” or “little epic.” The form itself, of which there are many examples in Greek and Latin poetry, seems to invite thought about how the inner and outer stories might be related. [read full essay]

156: τῷ: “to this one,” “to him,” indirect object of ὤπασαν (“granted”) in the next line. κάλλος: that Bellerophon was physically attractive supplies the motive for the story that follows (Kirk).

157: οἱ: “for him,” (= αῦτῷ), dative with μήσατο (“devised”). θυμῷ: “in his heart.”

158: ἔλασσεν: aor. > ἐλαύνω, Attic ἤλασεν. Bellerophon is the missing direct object. πολὺ: “by far,” adverbial acc. (acc. of extent). ἦεν: “was,” 3rd sg. impf. > εἰμί, Attic ἦν (Monro 12).

159: nearly parenthetical.  Ἀργείων: added to explain δήμου, and to make distinct the place of Bellerophon’s sojourn. Without it, the hearer might think he is in his home at Corinth. οἱἐδάμασσε: “had made subject to him (Proitos),” “had put in his power” (Stoevesandt). ἐδάμασσε: aor. > δαμνάω (= δάμνημι = δαμάζω), supply the obj. δῆμον or τοὺς Ἀργείους. Some understand Bellerophon only as the object of ἐδάμασσε, but the words suggest kingly rule in general rather than power over a single man.

160: δῖ’ = δῖα, nom. sg fem. adjective. Proitus’ wife Anteia (Sthenoboia in post-Homeric accounts) was mad for Bellerophon (ἐπεμήνατο) namely for secretly mingling with him (μιγήμεναι) in love. The Potiphar’s Wife theme is a widespread folktale one, represented in Greek mythology by Phaedra and Hippolytus in Euripides’ Hippolytus, as well as by Peleus and the wife of Acastus (Apollodorus 3.13.3).

161–2: μιγήμεναι: aor. pass. inf. > μείγνυμι. τὸν: “this one,” Bellerophon. Βελλεροφόντην below is in apposition. οὔ τι: “not at all,” τι is an adverbial acc. (Goodell 540). οὔ τι / πεῖθ᾽: “could not persuade,” = ἐπεῖθε, iterative impf. > πείθω (Stoevesandt). ἀγαθὰ φρονέοντα: “thinking noble thoughts,” “right thinking.”

163: ψευσαμένηπροσηύδα: “contrived a falsehood and said.” ψευσαμένη: aor. mid. ptc. > ψεύδω.

164: τεθναίης … ἢ κάκτανε: “either die yourself, or kill ….” τεθναίης: “may you be dead,” pf. opt. of wish > θνήσκω. κάκτανε = κατάκτανε, 2nd aor. imperat. > κατακτείνω.

165: μ’ = μοι (a rare elision of οι), agreeing with ἐθελούσῃ. The participle is concessive, “though I did not wish it.” Both datives are governed by μιγήμεναι, “mingle with.”

166: οἷον ἄκουσε: “(at) what he heard,” literally, “the sort of thing which he heard,” indirect exclamation.

167: ἀλέεινε κτεῖναι: “hesitated to kill” Bellerophon, as his wife demanded. σεβάσσατο τό γε: “he had (religious) scruples about this.” His conscience would not allow Proitοs to kill a guest with his own hand, but he did not shrink from asking his father-in-law to do the deed.

168: Λυκίηνδε: “to Lycia.” -δε implies place to which (Monro 335.2). πόρεν δ᾽ ὅ γε σήματα λυγρὰ: a South Italian Greek stamnos (jar) dating to 400–390 BC and now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (00.349a) depicts the moment when Proitos has just handed to Bellerophon the letter for King Iobates of Lycia asking him to kill the young hero.

170: δεῖξαι: aor. act. infin. > δείκνυμι. ἠνώγειν: 3rd sg. plpf. > perf. ἄνωγα. : “to his own”  = ἑῷ, dat. sg. possessive pronoun of the 3rd person > ἑός (Monro 254). ὄφρ’: = ὄφρα, purpose clause, opt. in secondary sequence (Monro 307).

171: : “this man,” “he,” demonstrative. βῆ: 3rd sg. aor. > βαίνω.

172: ὅτε δὴ: “just when.” δὴ implies exactness. ΛυκίηνΞάνθον: “to…,” acc. of direction without preposition. Lycia, a region in southwest Asia Minor, was dominated by the river Xanthus (not to be confused with the Xanthus that flows around Troy, mentioned at 6.4). ἷξε: 3rd sg. aor. > ἵκω. ῥέοντα: pres. ptc. > ῥέω.

173: προφρονέως: adverb > πρόφρων.

175: ἐφάνη: 3rd sg. aor. pass. > φαίνω.

176: καὶκαὶ: “both … and.” ᾔτεε: = ἐ-αίτε-ε, impf. > αἰτέω. ἰδέσθαι: aor. inf. > aor. εἶδον, which supplies the aorist of ὁράω (Goodell 391).

177: ὅττίφέροιτο: “whatever … brought,” pres. opt. in a relative clause of characteristic, secondary sequence. ὅττί = ὅ τι. οἱ: “for him,” = ἑαυτῷ, indirect object of φέροιτο. πάρα: “from…,” “from (the side of),” governing γαμβροῖο (anastrophe).

179: πρῶτον: “first,” adv., followed by δεύτερον at 6.184. πεφνέμεν: reduplicated aor. act. inf. > aor. ἔπεφνον (see 6.12).

180: ἥ δ᾽: “and it,” i.e. Chimera. ἔην: 3rd sg impf. > εἰμί, Attic ἦν (Monro 12). θεῖον: “divine,” equivalent to θεῶν, parallel to ἀνθρώπων. γένος: “offspring,” predicate noun.

181: μέσση δὲ χίμαιρα: its middle is that of a she-goat (χίμαιρα), which lends its name to the whole mythological creature, the Chimera (Χίμαιρα). Bellerophon’s defeat of the Chimera became a popular scene in later pottery and mosaic, a scene that regularly includes Pegasus, the winged horse tamed by Bellerophon (an episode not included by Homer).

182: δεινὸν: either modyfing μένος or adv., “terribly.” μένος: neuter acc. direct object, limited by πυρὸς. 

183: τὴν μὲναὖ: “this one … and again.” τεράεσσι: dat. pl. Homer does not say what τέρας is; traditionally it is Pegasus. πιθήσας: “trusting in,” “confident in” (+ dat.), nom. sg. aor. ptc. > πείθω.

184: δεύτερον: “second,” adverbial acc., cf. 179. Σολύμοισικυδαλίμοισι: “with…,” i.e. “against…” dat. of association with a verb of fighting (see 6.141).

185: “that, he claimed, was the hardest battle with men in which he had engaged” (Stoevesandt). φάτο: “he claimed x (to be) y” + double acc., 3rd sg. impf. mid. (with no difference in meaning from active) > φημί. δύμεναι: “to enter,” infinitive of ἔδυν, root aorist > δύομαι, epexegetical (explanatory) infinitive depending on καρτίστην.

186: τὸ τρίτον: “third,” adv. acc.

187: τῷ: “for him,” i.e. Bellerophon, dat. of interest. ὕφαινε: understand Proitos, king of Lycia.

188: κρίνας: nom. sg. aor. ptc. > κρίνω

189: εἷσε: “set” (lit. “sat”), 3rd sg. aor. active > ἵζω. τοὶ: “and these,” a demonstrative pronoun referring to the men chosen by Proitos. οὔ τι: “not at all” (see 6.161).

κάλλος -εος τό: beauty, handsomeness

ἠνορέη: manhood, prowess

ἐρατεινός: lovely, charming

ὀπάζω, aor. ὤπασαν: to grant, follow, press hard upon

ἀτάρ: but, yet

οἱ (enclitic, dat. 3rd pers. pron.): (to) him, (to) her

Προῖτος: Proitos, king of Tiryns160

μήδομαι, aor. μήσατο: to contrive, plan

φέρτατος: bravest, best

Ἀργεῖος -η -ον: of/from Argos, Argive

Ζεύς Διός ὁ: Zeus, son of Cronus, the husband and brother of Hera and the wisest and mightiest of the gods

σκῆπτρον -ου τό: a staff, scepter. Princes, judges, priests, and heralds carried σκῆπτρα as symbols of authority.

δαμάζω: to overpower, tame, conquer, subdue

ἐπιμαίνομαι: (mid.) to be mad after, have a craving for

δῖος -α -ον: divine, noble, illustrious; marvelous, magnificent 

Ἄντεια: Anteia, wife of Proitos

κρυπτάδιος: secret, clandestine

φιλότης -ητος: friendship, love, affection

δαΐφρων: warlike, courageous; wise, sensible, prudent

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

ψεύδω: lie, tell untruth

προσαυδάω: to speak to, address

κατακτείνω: to kill, slay, murder

ἄναξ -ακτος ὁ: lord, king, master166

χόλος -ου ὁ: anger, rancor, bile

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

κτείνω, aor. subj. κτείνῃς, aor. (ἔ)κτανε(ν) and ἔκτα, aor. mid. as pass. κτάμενος: to slay, kill

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.

ἀλεείνω: to avoid, shun

σεβάζομαι: to fear, dread, feel misgiving

μιν: him, her, it

Λυκία: Lycia, a region on the south coast of Asia Minor, between Caria and Pamphylia

πόρον aor., πεπρωμένον perf.: gave, furnished; (perf. pass.) is fated

σῆμα -ατος τό: a sign, mark, token, character, monument, mound, portent

λυγρός -ά -όν: baneful, mournful, sad, miserable

πίναξ -ακος ὁ: a writing tablet

πτυκτός: folded

θυμοφθόρος: destroying the soul, life-destroying

ἄνωγα (perf. as pres.), impf. ἄνωγον, plpf. as impf. ἠνώγει or ἀνώγειν: to command, order, bid170

ἑός ἑή ἑόν: his, her own

πενθερός: a father-in-law

ὄφρα: in order that; as long as, until

ἀμύμων -ονος: blameless, noble, excellent

πομπή -ῆς ἡ : conduct, escort, guidance

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

Ξάνθος Ξάνθοιο ὁ: Xanthus (m. of persons and rivers; f. of town)

ῥέω, impf. ἔρρεεν or ῥέεν: to flow

πρόφρων -ονος: with ready heart, zealous; (Adv.) προφρονέως, readily, graciously, zealously

τίω: to pay honour to

εὐρύς -εῖα -ύ: wide, broad

ἐννῆμαρ: for nine days

ξενίζω or ζεινίζω, aor. (ἐ)ξείνισσε: to receive hospitably, entertain

ἱερεύω, fut. inf. ἱερευσέμεν, aor. ἱέρευσεν: to sacrifice, offer in sacrifice; slaughter, since most of the flesh of the victims was eaten, and on the other hand no flesh was eaten until a part had been sacrificed to the gods.

ῥοδοδάκτυλος: rosy-fingered175

ἠώς ἠοῦς ἡ: dawn, morning

ἐρεείνω: to ask

γαμβρός: connection by marriage, daughter's husband, sister's husband

παραδέχομαι, aor. παρεδέξατο: to receive from

Χίμαιρα: The Chimaera, a monster slain by Bellerophon, composed of a lion, she-goat, and serpent.

ἀμαιμάκετος: irresistible

θείνω, aor. ἔπεφνον, πέφνε, inf. πεφνέμεν: to strike, beat, wound; to batter, kill (only in forms with redupl. πεφ-)180

πρόσθεν: before

λέων λέοντος ὁ: a lion

ὄπισθε: from behind, behind, afterward, hereafter

δράκων -οντος ὁ: serpent, snake

χίμαιρα: a she-goat

ἀποπνέω: to breathe forth

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

αἴθω: to light up, kindle; (mid., pass.) to blaze, be consumed, be inflamed

κατέπεφνον (aor.), subj. καταπέφνῃ: killed, slew

τέρας -ατος τό: a sign, wonder, marvel

Σόλυμοι: Solymi, a Lycian tribe

κυδάλιμος: glorious, renowned, famous

κράτιστος -η -ον: strongest, mightiest185

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 

Ἀμαζόνες: Amazons

ἀντιάνειρα: (only fem., nom. pl.) equal to men, manlike, of the Amazons

ἀνέρχομαι: to return

πυκνός -ή -όν: thick, dense, strong, prudent, cunning

δόλος -ου ὁ: a bait, trap, cunning

ὑφαίνω: to weave

φώς φωτός τό: a man

ἵζω: to make to sit, seat, place189

λόχος -ου ὁ: an ambush

νέομαι: to go

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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-156-190