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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2013

C.J. Mackie
La Trobe University
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Despite the importance of the Judgement of Paris in the story of the Trojan War, the Iliad has only one explicit reference to it. This occurs, rather out of the blue, in the final book of the poem in a dispute among the gods about the treatment of Hector's body (24.25–30). Achilles keeps dragging the body around behind his chariot, but Apollo protects it with his golden aegis (24.18–21). Apollo then speaks among the gods and attacks the conduct of Achilles (24.33–54), claiming at the end that he offends the dumb earth (24.54). Other gods too have their concerns about what is going on, and they keep trying to get Hermes to snatch the body away (24.23–4). The three most powerful divine enemies of Troy, however, Hera, Poseidon and Athena, will have none of this. They remain as hostile to Troy and Priam and his people as they ever were, and it is in this context that the Judgement of Paris is mentioned:

ἔνθ' ἄλλοις μὲν πᾶσιν ἑήνδανɛν, οὐδέ πoθ' Ἥρῃ

οὐδὲ Ποσɛιδάων' οὐδὲ γλαυκώπιδι κούρῃ,

ἀλλ' ἔχον ὥς σϕιν πρῶτον ἀπήχθɛτο Ἴλιος ἱρὴ

καὶ Πρίαμος καὶ λαὸς Ἀλɛξάνδρου ἕνɛκ' ἄτης,

ὃς νɛίκɛσσɛ θɛάς, ὅτɛ οἱ μέσσαυλον ἵκοντο,

τὴν δ' ᾔνησ' ἥ οἱ πόρɛ μαχλοσύνην ἀλɛγɛινήν.


And this was pleasing to all the others, but never to Hera

nor to Poseidon, nor to the flashing-eyed maiden,

but they remained hostile to sacred Ilios as in the beginning,

and to Priam and to his people, because of Alexander's folly,

he who insulted the goddesses when they came to his inner courtyard

and praised her who provided his grievous lust.

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 2013

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I am very grateful to CQ's anonymous referee for useful comments and criticisms of an earlier draft of this article.


2 These are the same three gods who had earlier tried to tie up Zeus and overthrow him (1.393–407). Thetis saved him from his fate on that occasion by bringing Briareus up to Olympus. He sat down beside Zeus, whereupon the three plotters thought better of their scheme. This is an obscure mythical episode, which was athetized by Zenodotus, although Willcock, M.M., ‘Mythological paradeigma in the Iliad’, in Cairns, D.L. (ed.), Oxford Readings in Homer's Iliad (Oxford, 2001), 439Google Scholar argues that it is a Homeric invention: ‘Why should Hera, Poseidon and Athene have wished to bind Zeus? … It is precisely because these are the three gods who support the Greeks in the Iliad, and who would therefore most wish to prevent Zeus acceding to Thetis' request [his italics], that they are made the opponents of Zeus in the invented myth.’ In the present passage in Iliad 24, the hatred of the three gods for Troy is linked specifically to the Judgement of Paris and is also connected, by juxtaposition, with the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (59–63), at which the dispute between the goddesses first arose.

3 Richardson, N., The Iliad: A Commentary. Volume VI: Books 21–24 (Cambridge, 1993)Google Scholar.

4 Reinhardt, K., ‘Das Parisurteil’ (1938), reprinted in Tradition und Geist (Göttingen, 1960), 1636Google Scholar; Griffin, J., Homer on Life and Death (Oxford, 1980), 195 n. 49Google Scholar, who offers a more extensive bibliography on the subject; Davies, M., ‘The Judgement of Paris and Iliad 24’, JHS 101 (1981), 5662CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Macleod, C.W., Homer. Iliad Book XXIV (Cambridge, 1982)Google Scholar. For a useful discussion of the Reinhardt article, and the issues with which it deals, see the Introduction by Jones in Jones, P.V. and Wright, G., Homer: German Scholarship in Translation (Oxford, 1997), 1820Google Scholar. A survey of the Judgement story through time, with particular focus on the Euripidean context, is found in Stinton, T.C.W., Euripides and the Judgement of Paris (London, 1965)Google Scholar: for an assessment of the Iliadic reference, see pp. 1–4.

5 Homer, OCT vol. 5 (Allen), p. 118 fr. II. See too Cat. fr. 210 M–W, together with March, J.R., The Creative Poet (London, 1987), 89Google Scholar. Later sources (Pind. Isthm. 8.26–48 and [Aesch.] PV 907–27) tell us that Zeus forced Thetis to marry a mortal because she was destined to bear a child who was greater than his father, and Peleus was chosen because he was the most righteous (eusebestaton, Isthm. 8.40). March argues (23) that ‘it would seem very likely that it was Pindar himself who created this innovation in the legend, because he wished to stress the stature of Achilles, who was to be greater even than the great hero Peleus, his father’. By contrast Slatkin, L., The Power of Thetis (Berkeley, 1991), 83Google Scholar takes the view that a secret power of Thetis lies within her tragic isolation: ‘the central element in the structure of Thetis's mythology, common to its representations in both Isthmian 8 and Prometheus Bound, is the covertness of her power; it is a secret weapon, a concealed promise, a hidden agenda requiring discovery, revelation. It is precisely this covert, latent aspect of Thetis' potential in cosmic relations to which the Iliad draws attention as well, both exploiting and reinforcing it, as allusion.’

6 Braswell, B.K., ‘Mythological innovation in the Iliad’, CQ 21 (1971), 1626CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 24; cf. 14.303, where Hera says that she herself has been brought up by Oceanus and Tethys.

7 Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 102.13–17.

8 This has caused anxiety in some quarters that the patronymic is too extended and that we should be thinking of another Dardanus (see the discussion of Gantz, T., Early Greek Myth, vol. 2 [Baltimore, 1996], 557–8)Google Scholar. It is important in the Iliad, however, especially Book 24, that the patronymic takes us right back to the beginnings of the city. Dardanides is used throughout Virgil's Aeneid to signify Aeneas (singular) and the Trojans (plural).

9 On the tomb of Ilus, see Griffin (n. 4), 22–4.

10 See Alden, M.J., Homer Beside Himself: Para-narratives in the Iliad (Oxford, 2000), 24 and 157–64Google Scholar.

11 On the Laomedon story and its role in the Iliad, see Lang, M., ‘Reverberation and mythology in the Iliad’, in Rubino, C.A. and Shelmerdine, C.W. (edd.), Approaches to Homer (Austin, 1982), 140–64Google Scholar. For a comparison of the sack of Laomedon's city and Priam's in the two heroic generations, see Mackie, C.J., Rivers of Fire: Symbolic Themes in Homer's Iliad (Washington, DC, 2008)Google Scholar.

12 Macleod, ad 765–6; Richardson, ad 24.765–7.

13 Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 104.1–24.

14 Cf. 24.107–10 in which Zeus describes the νɛῖκος between the gods. This complements the main description of the argument between Apollo and Hera earlier in the book.

15 Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 105.10–12.

16 Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 105.12; Schefold, K., Myth and Legend in Early Greek Art (London, 1966), 44, 61, 87Google Scholar; Gantz (n. 8), 597–603; LIMC 8.2, s.v. ‘Troilus’, 1–16 (= pp. 69–71).

17 For the future in the Odyssey, see 11.121–37, 23.268–84.

18 On ‘imperfect invulnerability’, see Burgess, J., ‘Achilles' heel: the death of Achilles in ancient myth’, ClAnt 14 (1995), 217–43Google Scholar. See now Burgess's book, The Death and Afterlife of Achilles (Baltimore, 2009), esp. 913Google Scholar.

19 The best evidence for the manner of Achilles' death in the Iliad is 21.277–8, where he says that he will be killed by the ‘swift shafts’ (λαιψηροῖς … βɛλέɛσσιν, 278) of Apollo.

20 Line 86 was rejected by Aristarchus, although with no compelling reasons; see Richardson's note, ad loc. The Neoanalysts argue that the mourning of Thetis here in Book 24, and in two other places in Homer (Il. 18.35–71 and Od. 24.47–62), presupposes an actual death of Achilles in the lost corpus of ancient epic. I myself have no problem with such a view, although it must remain speculation.

21 On the various references to the fall of Troy in the Iliad, see Kullmann, W., Die Quellen der Ilias (Wiesbaden, 1960), 343–9Google Scholar. More generally, see Anderson, M.J., The Fall of Troy in Early Greek Poetry and Art (Oxford, 1997)Google Scholar.

22 Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 107.2–14 (Little Iliad); p. 107.27–30 (Iliou Persis).

23 Especially Griffin, J., ‘The Epic Cycle and the uniqueness of Homer’, JHS 97 (1977), 3953CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

24 Franko, G.F., ‘The Trojan Horse at the close of the Iliad’, CJ 101 (2005/6), 121–3Google Scholar.

25 Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 135 fr. 19.3–5.

26 Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 108.8.

27 Richardson, ad 24.734–9.

28 Macleod, ad 734–8. See too Anderson (n. 21), 55–6 and Burgess, J.S., The Tradition of the Trojan War in Homer and the Epic Cycle (Baltimore, 2001), 66–7Google Scholar, both of whom consider the iconographical evidence for the death of Astyanax.

29 Griffin (n. 23). For Cassandra's prophetic power in the Cycle, see Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 103.2 (Cypria).

30 Similar sorts of questions could be asked about the figure of Helenus in Book 6, although his prophetic role is rather more fleshed out (cf. 6.76 and 7.44–54, with Kirk's note in the Cambridge commentary to 6.73–101).

31 Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 108.2–6.

32 Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 108.9 (Iliou Persis) and pp. 134–5 fr. 19 (Little Iliad).

33 This is not to suggest that Ida is not important earlier in the poem. Worth noting in this context is Il. 13.1–9 (Zeus on Ida) and 14.153–353, the Dios apatê, which takes place on the peak of the mountain. Indeed it may be said that Ida is prominent in numerous ways throughout the poem, not least as the source of all the main rivers which are really the life source of the city (12.19–33).

34 It is probably worth comparing the way that names like Scamandrius (5.49 = son of Strophius; 6.402 = Astyanax) and Simoeisius (4.488) convey the Trojan affection for their rivers (which, as it happens, have their source on Mount Ida, 12.19–22). Satnius too is named after a river (14.442–5). There are actually two Trojans called Idaeus in the Iliad, our herald (in Books 3, 7 and 24) and another Trojan (5.11, 20).

35 In the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Anchises is tending cattle on Mount Ida, which is where his sexual encounter with Aphrodite takes place (53–5, 68–80). Aeneas is thus conceived on the mountain, the place where he gathers the Trojan refugees when he leaves the city (Homer, OCT vol. 5, p.107.24–6). There is a suggestion in the hymn (76–80) that Anchises may have been with other noble youths before Aphrodite appears, although we never learn who was meant to be with him.

36 Homer, OCT vol. 5, p. 102.16–17; cf. p. 120 fr. V.5.

37 For a survey and critique of Neoanalysis in the context of the Iliad and Aethiopis, including the forerunners to Kakridis, Schadewaldt, Pestalozzi and Kullmann, see West, M.L., ‘Iliad and Aethiopis’, CQ 53 (2003), 114CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and for a response to West, Allan, W., ‘Arms and the man: Euphorbus, Hector, and the death of Patroclus’, CQ 55 (2005), 116CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

38 West, M.L., Greek Epic Fragments (Cambridge, MA, 2003)Google Scholar, 13 views the Cypria, on linguistic and other grounds, as not earlier than the second half of the sixth century: ‘the Cypria must have been composed after the Iliad had become well established as a classic’. The poet of the Odyssey shows a good acquaintance with the material contained in the Little Iliad and Iliou Persis, the former of which West (p. 16) dates to the third quarter of the seventh century.

39 For the view that the poems exploit audience knowledge of particular stories, including those outside of their own narrative field, see Scodel, R., ‘Pseudo-intimacy and the prior knowledge of the Homeric audience’, Arethusa 30 (1997), 201–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and ead., Listening to Homer: Tradition, Narrative and Audience (Ann Arbor, 2002), esp. 4–41, 47–9, 62–4, 92, 97–154Google Scholar.

40 Dowden, K., ‘Homer's sense of text’, JHS 116 (1996), 4761, at 52CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

41 I tend to think of the centaur Chiron as a good example of this characteristic from earlier in the poem. He is essentially taken out of the Iliad in favour of Phoenix, but is also named at some key moments (4.217–19, 11.829–32, 16.141–4 [=19.388–91]); see Mackie, C.J., ‘Achilles' teachers: Chiron and Phoenix in the Iliad’, G&R 44 (1997), 110Google Scholar. For a contrary view, that Chiron's association with Achilles and Peleus is post-Homeric, see March (n. 5), 25–6.

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