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[601] The circumstances of the scene change again. Not only is Heracles seen by Odysseus, as were Minos, Sisyphus, etc., but he recognises Odysseus, accosts him, and then returns again “δόμον Ἄιδος εἴσω”, like Achilles and Ajax (sup. 539 Minos, 563). The suggestion is certainly so tempting to pass directly from v. 565 to v. 630, and omit all that lies between; but the excision of three lines (602-604) will really dispose of almost all the arguments that have been advanced in ancient and modern times against the genuineness of the passage about Heracles in Hades. The Schol. on Od. 11.385 sums up the objections under four heads: (1) “πῶς Ἡρακλῆς ἐνταῦθα μένων θεός”; (2) “πῶς οἷόν τε τὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι καὶ ἐν ᾄδου καὶ ἐν οὐρανῷ”; (3) “ Ἥβη καθ᾽ Ὅμηρον παρθένος, ὅθεν καὶ οἰνοχοεῖ”. (4) “ἀπίθανον δὲ αὐτὸν ἔχειν καὶ τὴν σκευήν”. (5) “μὴ πιὼν δὲ πῶς ὁμιλεῖ”; Now if we are willing to extend the rejection of v. 604 (which Schol. H. calls an interpolation of Onomacritus) to vv. 602, 603 as well; we shall have disposed of the objection of Aristonicus on the ground of the post-Homeric tripartition of “εἴδωλον, σῶμα”, and “ψυχή”, nor shall we have to accept the later story of the apotheosis of Heracles, nor of the marriage of Hebe. It may be safely said that Homer knew nothing of the legend which recounts the apotheosis; for in Il.18. 117 it is distinctly said that “οὐδὲ γὰρ οὐδὲ βίη Ἡρακλῆος φύγε κῆρα”, and Diodor. Sicul. 4. 39 tells us, “Ἀθηναῖοι πρῶτοι τῶν ἄλλων ὡς θεὸν ἐτίμησαν τὸν Ἡρακλέα”, cp. Pausan. 1. 32. 4 “σέβονται δὲ οἱ Μαραθώνιοι Ἡρακλέα, φάμενοι πρώτοις Ἑλλήνων σφίσιν Ἡρακλέα θεὸν νομισθῆναι”.

Such an apotheosis of heroes was a common usage of the post-heroic age, as e. g. of Achilles ( Pind. Nem.4. 49); Diomede ( Pind. Nem.10. 7); Ajax ( Pind. Nem.4. 48); Neoptolemus (Pausan. 10. 24. 5); Hector (Pausan. 9. 18. 4); and Odysseus himself (Tzetz. ad Lycophr. 800).

Another objection of the Scholiast is (4) that Heracles though a ghost should carry his weapons with him. But, surely, it is the regular Homeric usage to represent life in the under-world as a copy, more or less faithful, of the life in the world above. The ghosts retain their original stature, voice, and features ( Il.23. 65 foll.); they wear their own armour, and still show the wounds they had received ( Od.11. 40 foll.). Teiresias holds the golden sceptre of his office, and Heracles the characteristic weapons by which he may be recognised. The armour may be as shadowy and spectral as the wearer, but there it is; Heracles is not Heracles without it; nor Orion , Orion , without his club. The objection raised to the passage, because Heracles seems to recognise Odysseus without having tasted of the blood in the pit, would apply equally well to the case of Achilles and Ajax and the rest of the ghosts, who (542) “εἴροντο κήδἐ ἑκάστη”, where we have either to suppose that this preliminary is taken for granted, “κατὰ τὸ σιωπώμενον”, or is dispensed with. Nitzsch, ad loc., takes further exception that Odysseus offers no answer to the words addressed to him by Heracles; but it is easier to state this as an objection than to show what ought or what could have been said in reply. Nitzsch finds a further objection in the allusion to the bringing up by Heracles of the ‘dog’ from Hades (inf. 623 foll.), where see notes. It may be urged that there is a peculiar propriety in the introduction of Heracles into the group of the famous dead with whom Odysseus meets in Hades, because of certain characteristic resemblances between the two heroes, both of whom are under the particular protection of Athena. There can be no doubt that the legend of the apotheosis of Heracles, though postHomeric, is still of very early date. It would appear to have been recorded in the “Οἰχαλίας ἅλωσις”, ascribed to Creophylus (Welck. Episch. Cycl.233 foll.), and it seems to be a very tenable view that the whole passage about Heracles in this 11th book is genuine, with the exception of vv. 602-604. The temptation to insert these lines, or something similar, would be a powerful influence on a rhapsodist, who might fear to offend his audience, if he seemed to leave their deified hero in the under-world. No easier means of avoiding such offence could be conceived than a simple assertion that, after all, it was only the ghost of Heracles that had its dwelling there, while the hero himself enjoyed divine honours among the gods. Probably there is not much real value in the testimony of the Scholl., that the insertion was due to Onomacritus; but it may imply that it is at any rate the work of some Attic “διασκευαστής”. Itwould be imperative to ascribe the highest honours to a hero whom the Athenians (see sup.) had learned to worship as a god. See on the whole subject C. F. Lauer, Homer. Quaest. I cap. 2.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (6):
    • Euripides, Cyclops, 233
    • Homer, Iliad, 18.117
    • Homer, Iliad, 23.65
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.40
    • Pindar, Nemean, 10
    • Pindar, Nemean, 4
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