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[5] The death of Achilles filled the army with dismay, and they buried him with Patroclus in the White Isle, mixing the bones of the two together.1 It is said that after death Achilles consorts with Medea in the Isles of the Blest.2 And they held games in his honor, at which Eumelus won the chariot-race, Diomedes the footrace, Ajax the quoit match, and Teucer the competition in archery.3

1 According to Arctinus in the Aethiopis, when the body of Achilles was lying in state, his mother Thetis came with the Muses and her sisters and mourned over her dead son; then she snatched it away from the pyre and conveyed it to the White Isle; but the Greeks raised a sepulchral mound and held games in honour of the departed hero. See Proclus in Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, ed. G. Kinkel, p. 34. Compare Hom. Od. 24.43-92; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica iii.525-787 (the laying-out of the body, the lamentation of Thetis, the Nereids, and the Muses, and the burning of the corpse); Tzetzes, Posthomerica 431-467; Dictys Cretensis iv.13, 15. Homer tells how the bones of Achilles, after his body had been burnt on the pyre, were laid with the bones of his friend Patroclus in a golden urn, made by Hephaestus, which Thetis had received from Dionysus. The urn was buried at the headland of Sigeum, according to Tzetzes and Dictys Cretensis. In Quintus Smyrnaeus, iii.766-780 we read how Poseidon comforted Thetis by assuring her that Achilles, her sorrow, was not dead, for he himself would bestow on the departed hero an island in the Euxine Sea where he should be a god for evermore, worshipped with sacrifices by the neighbouring tribes. The promised land was the White Isle mentioned by Apollodorus. It is described as a wooded island off the mouth of the Danube. In it there was a temple of Achilles with an image of him; and there the hero was said to dwell immortal with Helen for his wife and his friends Patroclus and Antilochus for his companions. There he chanted the verses of Homer, and mariners who sailed near the island could hear the song wafted clearly across the water; while such as put in to the shore or anchored off the coast, heard the trampling of horses, the shouts of warriors, and the clash of arms. See Paus. 3.19.11-13; Philostratus, Her. xx.32-40. As the mortal remains of Achilles were buried in the Troad, and only his immortal spirit was said to dwell in the White Isle, the statement of Apollodorus that the Greeks interred him in the White Isle must be regarded as erroneous, whether the error is due to Apollodorus himself, or, as is more probable, either to his abbreviator or to a copyist. Perhaps in the original form of his work Apollodorus followed Arctinus in describing how Thetis snatched the body of Achilles from the pyre and transported it to the White Isle.

2 Compare Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.810ff.; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 174. According to the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.815, the first to affirm that Achilles married Medea in the Elysian Fields was the poet Ibycus, and the tale was afterwards repeated by Simonides. The story is unknown to Homer, who describes the shade of Achilles repining at his lot and striding alone in the Asphodel Meadow (Hom. Od. 11.471-540).

3 The funeral games in honour of Achilles are described at full length, in the orthodox manner, by Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica iv.88-595. He agrees with Apollodorus in representing Teucer and Ajax as victorious in the contests of archery and quoit-throwing respectively (Posthomerica iv.405ff., 436ff.); and he seems to have described Eumelus as the winner of the chariot-race (Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica iv.500ff.), but the conclusion of the race is lost through a gap in the text.

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