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Ἕλενος,—distinguished as “Πριαμίδης” from Helenus son of Oenops, a Greek hero slain by Hector ( Il. 5. 707), —figures in the Iliad as at once a seer and a warrior. He gives counsel at critical moments to his brother Hector ( Il. 6. 76, Il. 7. 44); with his brother Deïphobus, he leads a third of the Trojan host in the attack on the Greek camp ( Il. 12. 94). The story of his capture by Odysseus does not belong to the Iliad, but was probably included in the “Ἰλιὰς Μικρά” of Lesches (c. 700 B.C.),—the epic which contained the return of Philoctetes to Troy (see Introd.). Ovid associates this exploit with two other similar feats of Odysseus,—the capture of the horses of Rhesus, when their master, and the Trojan spy Dolon, were slain ( Il. 10),—and the theft of the Palladium: Met. 13. 99Conferat his Ithacus Rhesum imbellemque Dolona, | Priamidemque Helenum rapta cum Pallade captum. In Verg. Aen. 3. 346 ff., Helenus, then settled in Epeirus, prophesies to Aeneas.

The statement of the “ἔμπορος” is only part of the truth. Helenus had indeed been captured, and had said that Troy could not be taken without Philoctetes. But he had also said that Troy was destined to be taken that summer,—as if he knew that fate had decreed the return of Philoctetes,—who was then to be healed by the Asclepiadae, and to share with Neoptolemus the glory of the victory (1329—1342). Odysseus, however, believed that Philoctetes would not listen to persuasion, but must be brought back by a stratagem (103). And so the object of the “ἔμπορος” in referring to Helenus is merely to convince Philoctetes that Odysseus is coming, in order that the sufferer may become still more anxious to depart with Neoptolemus for Greece, as he supposes.


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