Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica
THE LITTLE ILIAD (fragments)
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #8
Fragment #1 -- Proclus, Chrestomathia, ii: Next comes the "Little Iliad" in four books by Lesches of Mitylene: its contents are as follows. The adjudging of the arms of Achilles takes place, and Odysseus, by the contriving of Athena, gains them. Aias then becomes mad and destroys the herd of the Achaeans and kills himself. Next Odysseus lies in wait and catches Helenus, who prophesies as to the taking of Troy, and Diomede accordingly brings Philoctetes from Lemnos. Philoctetes is healed by Machaon, fights in single combat with Alexandrus and kills him: the dead body is outraged by Menelaus, but the Trojans recover and bury it. After this Deiphobus marries Helen, Odysseus brings Neoptolemus from Scyros and gives him his father's arms, and the ghost of Achilles appears to him. Eurypylus the son of Telephus arrives to aid the Trojans, shows his prowess and is killed by Neoptolemus. The Trojans are now closely beseiged, and Epeius, by Athena's instruction, builds the wooden horse. Odysseus disfigures himself and goes in to Ilium as a spy, and there being recognized by Helen, plots with her for the taking of the city; after killing certain of the Trojans, he returns to the ships. Next he carries the Palladium out of Troy with help of Diomedes. Then after putting their best men in the wooden horse and burning their huts, the main body of the Hellenes sail to Tenedos. The Trojans, supposing their troubles over, destroy a part of their city wall and take the wooden horse into their city and feast as though they had conquered the Hellenes. Fragment #2 -- Pseudo-Herodotus, Life of Homer: `I sing of Ilium and Dardania, the land of fine horses, wherein the Danai, followers of Ares, suffered many things.' Fragment #3 -- Scholiast on Aristophanes, Knights 1056 and Aristophanes ib: The story runs as follows: Aias and Odysseus were quarrelling as to their achievements, says the poet of the "Little Iliad", and Nestor advised the Hellenes to send some of their number to go to the foot of the walls and overhear what was said about the valour of the heroes named above. The eavesdroppers heard certain girls disputing, one of them saying that Aias was by far a better man than Odysseus and continuing as follows: `For Aias took up and carried out of the strife the hero, Peleus' son: this great Odysseus cared not to do.' To this another replied by Athena's contrivance: `Why, what is this you say? A thing against reason and untrue! Even a woman could carry a load once a man had put it on her shoulder; but she could not fight. For she would fail with fear if she should fight.' Fragment #4 -- Eustathius, 285. 34: The writer of the "Little Iliad" says that Aias was not buried in the usual way (1), but was simply buried in a coffin, because of the king's anger. Fragment #5 -- Eustathius on Homer, Il. 326: The author of the "Little Iliad" says that Achilles after putting out to sea from the country of Telephus came to land there: `The storm carried Achilles the son of Peleus to Scyros, and he came into an uneasy harbour there in that same night.' Fragment #6 -- Scholiast on Pindar, Nem. vi. 85: `About the spear-shaft was a hoop of flashing gold, and a point was fitted to it at either end.' Fragment #7 -- Scholiast on Euripides Troades, 822: `...the vine which the son of Cronos gave him as a recompense for his son. It bloomed richly with soft leaves of gold and grape clusters; Hephaestus wrought it and gave it to his father Zeus: and he bestowed it on Laomedon as a price for Ganymedes.' Fragment #8 -- Pausanias, iii. 26. 9: The writer of the epic "Little Iliad" says that Machaon was killed by Eurypylus, the son of Telephus. Fragment #9 -- Homer, Odyssey iv. 247 and Scholiast: `He disguised himself, and made himself like another person, a beggar, the like of whom was not by the ships of the Achaeans.' The Cyclic poet uses `beggar' as a substantive, and so means to say that when Odysseus had changed his clothes and put on rags, there was no one so good for nothing at the ships as Odysseus. Fragment #10 -- (2) Plutarch, Moralia, p. 153 F: And Homer put forward the following verses as Lesches gives them: `Muse, tell me of those things which neither happened before nor shall be hereafter.' And Hesiod answered: `But when horses with rattling hoofs wreck chariots, striving for victory about the tomb of Zeus.' And it is said that, because this reply was specially admired, Hesiod won the tripod (at the funeral games of Amphidamas). Fragment #11 -- Scholiast on Lycophr., 344: Sinon, as it had been arranged with him, secretly showed a signal-light to the Hellenes. Thus Lesches writes: -- `It was midnight, and the clear moon was rising.' Fragment #12 -- Pausanias, x. 25. 5: Meges is represented (3) wounded in the arm just as Lescheos the son of Aeschylinus of Pyrrha describes in his "Sack of Ilium" where it is said that he was wounded in the battle which the Trojans fought in the night by Admetus, son of Augeias. Lycomedes too is in the picture with a wound in the wrist, and Lescheos says he was so wounded by Agenor... Pausanias, x. 26. 4: Lescheos also mentions Astynous, and here he is, fallen on one knee, while Neoptolemus strikes him with his sword... Pausanias, x. 26. 8: The same writer says that Helicaon was wounded in the night- battle, but was recognised by Odysseus and by him conducted alive out of the fight... Pausanias, x. 27. 1: Of them (4), Lescheos says that Eion was killed by Neoptolemus, and Admetus by Philoctetes... He also says that Priam was not killed at the heart of Zeus Herceius, but was dragged away from the altar and destroyed off hand by Neoptolemus at the doors of the house... Lescheos says that Axion was the son of Priam and was slain by Eurypylus, the son of Euaemon. Agenor -- according to the same poet -- was butchered by Neoptolemus. Fragment #13 -- Aristophanes, Lysistrata 155 and Scholiast: `Menelaus at least, when he caught a glimpse somehow of the breasts of Helen unclad, cast away his sword, methinks.' Lesches the Pyrrhaean also has the same account in his "Little Iliad". Pausanias, x. 25. 8: Concerning Aethra Lesches relates that when Ilium was taken she stole out of the city and came to the Hellenic camp, where she was recognised by the sons of Theseus; and that Demophon asked her of Agamemnon. Agamemnon wished to grant him this favour, but he would not do so until Helen consented. And when he sent a herald, Helen granted his request. Fragment #14 -- Scholiast on Lycophr. Alex., 1268: `Then the bright son of bold Achilles led the wife of Hector to the hollow ships; but her son he snatched from the bosom of his rich-haired nurse and seized him by the foot and cast him from a tower. So when he had fallen bloody death and hard fate seized on Astyanax. And Neoptolemus chose out Andromache, Hector's well-girded wife, and the chiefs of all the Achaeans gave her to him to hold requiting him with a welcome prize. And he put Aeneas (5), the famous son of horse-taming Anchises, on board his sea- faring ships, a prize surpassing those of all the Danaans.' ENDNOTES: (1) sc. after cremation. (2) This fragment comes from a version of the "Contest of Homer and Hesiod" widely different from that now extant. The words `as Lesches gives them (says)' seem to indicate that the verse and a half assigned to Homer came from the "Little Iliad". It is possible they may have introduced some unusually striking incident, such as the actual Fall of Troy. (3) i.e. in the paintings by Polygnotus at Delphi. (4) i.e. the dead bodies in the picture. (5) According to this version Aeneas was taken to Pharsalia. Better known are the Homeric account (according to which Aeneas founded a new dynasty at Troy), and the legends which make him seek a new home in Italy.