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Procrustes

(109 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle)
[German version] (Προκρούστης/ Prokroústēs, 'stretcher', Lat. Procrustes). Highwayman in Attica who would lie in wait for travellers and torture them to death by stretching them and hitting their limbs with a hammer (alternative name: Προκόπτης/ Prokóptēs, 'persuader'), until they fitted his enormous bed ('Procrustes' bed'). Together with Sinis and Sciron, P. represents a 'plague on the land' from which  Theseus with civilizing intentions liberates the region (Bacchyl. 18,19-30; Xen. Mem. 2,1,14; Diod. Sic. 4,59; Hyg. Fab. 38; Ov…

Meriones

(284 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle)
[German version] (Μηριόνης; Mēriónēs). Cretan, son of Molus (Molos). As a young soldier efficient in battle and a faithful and devoted follower of Idomeneus [1], he takes part in the Trojan campaign (Hom. Il.). Together with the sons of Nestor, Antilochus and Thrasymedes, M. represents the second guard of the Greek army consisting of younger warriors. This guard performed duties suited to their age (e.g. night watch: ibid. 9,79ff.) and had to prove their worth on the battle field, mainly after the …

Lotophagi

(200 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle)
[German version] (Λωτοφάγοι; Lōtophágoi, ‘lotus-eaters’). Peaceful, mythical fairytale people, living exclusively on the magical plant lotos. The country of the L. is the second stop on Odysseus' journey; their scouts give Odysseus and his companions a warm welcome and invite them in good faith to eat from the lotos. In doing so, they entirely forget their previously strong urge to return home and have to be brought back to the ship against their will (Hom. Od. 9,82-104). In its core, the L. story corresponds to a widespread fairytale motif [1]. In antiquity and modern t…

Demodocus

(382 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle) | Bowie, Ewen (Oxford)
(Δημόδοκος; Dēmódokos). [German version] [1] Singer at the royal court of the Phaeaces Singer at the royal court of the  Phaeaces; as an indirect self-portrait, his slightly idealized description (Hom. Od. 8), just as that of  Phemius, constitutes an important source for the self-perception, working style and social status of the Homeric   aoidoi . D. is highly regarded in society; his name (‘whom the people receives’) is very telling and specifically explained in ‘etymological’ terms in Od. 8,472. D. presents his songs accomp…

Leiodes

(75 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle)
[German version] (Ληώδης, Λειώδης; Lēṓdēs, Leiṓdēs). The son of Oenops, priest. He is one of Penelope's suitors, whom he loathes, however, keeping to himself. L. is the first suitor to try his luck in the archery contest and is then reproached by Antinous [1] for his supposedly defeatist advice (Hom. Od. 21,144ff.). When Odysseus slays the suitors, L. points out his detached relationship to the others in vain (ibid. 22,310-329). Nünlist, René (Basle)

Talthybius

(130 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle)
[German version] (Ταλθύβιος; Talthýbios). Herald and follower of Agamemnon (Hom. Il. 1,320 f.), at whose command he and Eurybates [1] unenthusiastically go and fetch from Achilles [1] the object of their dispute, Briseis (ibid. 1,327-347). T. also acts in the service of all Greeks, e.g. when he and the Trojan herald Idaeus [3a] interrupt the single combat between Ajax [1] and Hector (ibid. 7,273-312); as a general Greek herald he also appears in Euripides (Hec., Tro.), who makes the idea of the "un…

Telemachus

(472 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle)
[German version] (Τηλέμαχος; Tēlémachos). Only son of Odysseus and Penelope (cf. Telegonus). As often, the name of the son ('far fighter') reflects a characteristic of the father [1]. T. is portrayed in the Odyssey as well brought-up but uncertain and lacking initiative. He watches the activities of Penelope's suitors without feeling able to do anything about them, until Athena, in the guise of Mentes [2], encourages him to a more self-assertive demeanour (Hom. Od. 1,269-305). He summons the first …

Laertes

(236 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle)
[German version] (Λαέρτης; Laértēs). Son of Arcesius and of Chalcomedusa, husband of Anticlea, father of Odysseus (cf. the latter's patronymic, Laertiádēs, ‘son of L.’); in his various depictions, the last is the most important function of L., who has little significance of his own. The image of him in the ‘Odyssey’ is the formative one it has shaped all later representations. Before the beginning of the Trojan War, for reasons of age, L. passes his power to Odysseus. Even when Odysseus does return to assume the th…

Thrinacie

(95 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle)
[German version] (Θρινακίη; Thrinakíē). Mythical island, near Scylla [1] and Charybdis (Hom. Od. 12,260f.), on which the daughters of the sun god Helios (Sol) mind his sacred oxen. In vain Teiresias and Circe warn Odysseus that his and his companions' fate depends on the oxen's being unharmed (ibid. 11,110-112; 12,137-139): when Odysseus falls asleep, his starving companions, instigated by Eurylochus [1], slaughter the animals (ibid. 12,260-402), and all therefore later die, while Odysseus alone su…

Leocritus

(98 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle)
(Ληόκριτος, Λειώκριτος; Lēókritos, Leiṓkritos). [German version] [1] Greek participant of the Trojan War Son of Arisbas, participates in the Trojan War on the Greek side and is killed by Aeneas [1] (Hom. Il. 17,344). Nünlist, René (Basle) [German version] [2] Suitor of Penelope A suitor of Penelope. He opposes Mentor, who speaks for Telemachus, in the public assembly, sarcastically approves his travel plans and doubts that the return of Odysseus would constitute a danger to the suitors (Hom. Od. 2,242ff.). He is killed by Telemachus during the slaying of the suitors (ibid. 22,294). Nünl…

Eris

(238 words)

Author(s): Nünlist, René (Basle)
[German version] (Ἔρις; Éris). Personification of (often warlike) strife, Latin  Discordia; in allegorical genealogy interpreted as sister of  Ares (Hom. Il. 4,441) or as daughter of  Nyx (Hes. Theog. 224ff., together with other negative ‘abstracta’). In the Iliad, E. (alone or in association with Ares and other personifications) triggers the fighting (Hom. Il. 11,3ff.; 4,439ff.). The post-Homeric Cypria make E. the person actually responsible for the Trojan War due to her instigating the judgement of Paris at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (Cypria …
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