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In the interval between the Odyssey and the Lyric
Cyclic epics.
age, legends connected with the house of Pelops were further developed in some of the Cyclic epics1. The Cypria2, ascribed to Stasînus of Cyprus (circ. 776 B.C.), related the immolation of Iphigeneia at Aulis,—a story unknown to Homer,—and distinguished her from the Iphianassa of the Iliad (9. 145). A new source of poetical interest was thus created, since it could now be asked (as Pindar asks3) how far Clytaemnestra was actuated by resentment for the sacrifice of her daughter. In another epic, the Nostoi4 (by Agias of Troezen, circ. 750 B.C.), Clytaemnestra aided Aegisthus in the murder, though probably in a subordinate capacity. Further, Pylades was associated with Orestes. And the name of Pylades at once points to Delphi5,—the agency by which the primitive legend of Orestes was ultimately transformed.

Influence of Delphi.

1 The Epic Cycle (“Ἐπικὸς κύκλος”) was a body of epic poems by various hands, arranged in the chronological order of the subjects, so as to form a continuous history of the mythical world. One part of this Cycle consisted of poems concerning the Trojan war. A grammarian named Proclus (circ. 140 A.D. ?), in his “Χρηστομάθεια”, or ‘Manual of Literature,’ gave short prose summaries of the poems in the Trojan part of the Cycle. The Manual itself is lost, but fragments have been preserved by the patriarch Photius (9th century) in his Bibliotheca.

2 The Cypria related the origin of the Trojan war, and its progress down to the point at which the Iliad begins. (Cp. my Introduction to Homer, p. 153.)

3 Pyth. 11. 22. See below, § 8.

4 The Nostoi described the adventures of some Greek heroes on their return from Troy,—especially those of Menelaüs, who visited Egypt, and of Agamemnon, who was slain by Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra. (Introd. to Homer, p. 154.)

5 There happens to be an independent proof (if any were needed) that the religion of Delphi animated the Nostoi. The poem related how Calchas committed suicide, because Mopsus, whom he met at Colophon, proved to be a greater seer than himself. Mopsus belongs to the traditions of the Apolline “μαντική”: he is sometimes called the son of Apollo by Manto, a daughter of Teiresias.

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