Annotation on How are the epic verses of the Hesiodic Suitors of Helen relevant to Achilles in our Homeric Iliad?

There seems to have been a great deal of variation in traditional narratives about the setting for the trickery of Odysseus when he succeeded in recruiting Achilles to join the Achaeans in fighting the Trojan War. In the version mediated by Statius, the setting is the island of Skyros: Achilles, disguised as a girl, is tricked by Odysseus into revealing inadvertently his manhood. As for the version we read at 11.769–803 in our Iliad, by contrast, the setting is Phthia, the homeland of Achilles. Here the trickery is not made explicit, as it is in the version of Statius, but I think that the Homeric version too shows implicit signs of deceit. My thinking here is based on some striking structural similarities I see between the “embassy” of Nestor and Odysseus in Iliad 11 on the one hand and, on the other, the “embassy” of Phoenix, Ajax, and Odysseus in Iliad 9—where the trickery of Odysseus is made more visible. It goes without saying, though, that whatever stratagem was devised by Odysseus in Phthia would have been narratologically different from the stratagem he devised in Skyros. Still, I think that the narrative about the stratagem at Skyros is just as traditional as what is narrated about the more covert stratagems devised by Odysseus in our Homeric Iliad. A most reliable indication of the folkloristic traditionality of the “Skyros version” is what we read about it in the Library of “Apollodorus” 3.13.8.



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