Little Iliad

The Little Iliad (Greek: polytonic|Ἰλιὰς μικρά, "Ilias mikra"; Latin: "Ilias parva") is a lost epic of ancient Greek literature. It was one of the Epic Cycle, that is, the "Trojan" cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic verse. The story of the "Little Iliad" comes chronologically after that of the "Aethiopis", and is followed by that of the "Iliou persis" ("Sack of Troy"). The "Little Iliad" was variously attributed by ancient writers to Lesches of Pyrrha, Cinaethon of Sparta, Diodorus of Erythrae, Thestorides of Phocaea, or Homer himself (see Cyclic poets). The poem comprised four books of verse in dactylic hexameter.

Date

The "Little Iliad" was probably composed in the latter half of the seventh century BCE, but there is much uncertainty. Ancient sources date Lesches to the seventh century; but it is typical for ancient writers to place archaic literary authors earlier (sometimes centuries earlier) than they actually lived.

Content

The "Little Iliad" is one of the better-attested epics in the Epic Cycle: nearly thirty lines of the original text survive. Nevertheless, we are almost entirely dependent on a summary of the Cyclic epics contained in the "Chrestomatheia" (see also chrestomathy) attributed to an unknown "Proclus" (possibly to be identified with the 2nd-century CE grammarian Eutychius Proclus). Numerous other references give indications of the poem's storyline.

The poem opens with the judgment of Achilles' arms, which are to be awarded to the greatest Greek hero: the contest is between Ajax and Odysseus, who recovered Achilles' body in battle. With the help of Athena, the arms are awarded to Odysseus, and Ajax goes insane and attacks the Achaeans' herd. Later, in shame, he commits suicide.

Odysseus ambushes the Trojan prophet Helenus and captures him; Helenus makes prophecies concerning the preconditions for the Greeks' conquest of Troy, notably, that the city will not fall while it harbours the Palladium.

In accordance with the prophecies, Odysseus and Diomedes go to Lemnos to bring back the hero Philoctetes, who is healed of his wound by Machaon. Philoctetes then fights Paris in single combat and kills him. After Paris' death, his wife Helen marries Deiphobus.

Odysseus brings Achilleus' son Neoptolemus to Troy, gives him Achilles' armour and Achilles' ghost appears to him.

When the Trojan ally Eurypylus dominates the field in battle, Neoptolemus kills him.

Odysseus goes into Troy disguised as a beggar, where Helen recognises him but keeps his secret; he returns safely with the Palladium, killing some Trojans on the way. On the goddess Athena's initiative, the Greek warrior Epeus builds the wooden horse, and the Greeks place their best warriors inside it, burn their camp, and withdraw to the nearby island Tenedos. The Trojans, believing that the Greeks have departed for good, breach a section of their city wall to bring the horse inside, and celebrate their apparent victory.

The emergence of the heroes from the horse, and the Greeks' destruction of Troy, seem not to be recounted in the "Little Iliad", but are left for the "Iliou persis". Nonetheless, a substantial fragment which is securely attributed to the "Little Iliad" describes how Neoptolemus takes Hector's wife Andromache captive and kills his baby son, Astyanax by throwing him from the walls of the city. ["Little Iliad" fr. 29 in West's edition (= Tzetzes "ad Lyc". 1268).]

Editions

*Online editions (English translation):
** [http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Hesiod/iliad.html Fragments of the "Little Iliad"] translated by H.G. Evelyn-White, 1914 (public domain)
** [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/348 Fragments of complete Epic Cycle] translated by H.G. Evelyn-White, 1914; Project Gutenberg edition
** [http://www.stoa.org/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Stoa:text:2003.01.0004 Proclus' summary of the Epic Cycle] translated by Gregory Nagy
*Print editions (Greek):
**A. Bernabé 1987, "Poetarum epicorum Graecorum testimonia et fragmenta" pt. 1 (Leipzig: Teubner)
**M. Davies 1988, "Epicorum Graecorum fragmenta" (Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht)
*Print editions (Greek with English translation):
**M.L. West 2003, "Greek Epic Fragments" (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press)

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Iliad — The Iliad (Greek: Ἰλιάς [iliás] (Ancient), Ιλιάδα [ili aða] (Modern)) is, together with the Odyssey , one of two ancient Greek epic poems traditionally attributed to Homer. The poem is commonly dated to the late 9th or to the 8th century BC… …   Wikipedia

  • Historicity of the Iliad — The extent of the historical basis of the Iliad has been debated for some time. Educated Greeks of the fifth century continued to accept the truth of human events depicted in the Iliad , even as philosophical scepticism was undermining faith in… …   Wikipedia

  • Hermoniakos' Iliad — The Hermoniakos Iliad (Greek: Ἰλιάς Κωνσταντίνου Ἑρμονιακοῦ) is a 14th century Byzantine paraphrase of the Iliad composed by Constantine Hermoniakos. The poem was commissioned by the Despot of Epirus, who asked Hermoniakos to write a new version… …   Wikipedia

  • Trojan War — In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy stole Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology, and was narrated… …   Wikipedia

  • Epic Cycle — The Epic Cycle ( el. Επικός Κύκλος) was a collection of Ancient Greek epic poems that related the story of the Trojan War, which includes the Kypria , the Aithiopis , the Iliou persis ( The Sack of Troy ), the Nostoi ( Returns ), and the Telegony …   Wikipedia

  • Homer — This article is about the Greek poet Homer and the works attributed to him. For other meanings, see Homer (disambiguation). Homeric redirects here. For other uses, see Homeric (disambiguation). See also: English translations of Homer …   Wikipedia

  • Troy — For other uses, see Troy (disambiguation). See also: Troad Coordinates: 39°57′27″N 26°14′20″E / 39.9575°N 26.23889°E …   Wikipedia

  • Cypria — The Cypria (Ancient Greek: Κύπρια Kypria; Latin form: Cypria) is an epic of ancient Greek literature that was quite well known in the Classical period[1] and fixed in a received text, but which subsequently was lost to view. It was one of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Odyssey — This article is about Homer s epic poem. For other uses, see Odyssey (disambiguation). Greek text of the Odyssey s opening passage The Odyssey (Ancient Greek: Ὀδύσσεια, Odysseia) is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer.… …   Wikipedia

  • Aethiopis — The Aethiopis or Aithiopis (Greek: polytonic|Αἰθιοπίς, Aithiopis ; la. Aethiopis) is a lost epic of ancient Greek literature. It was one of the Epic Cycle, that is, the Trojan cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic verse.… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.