Ancient Greece: From the Mycenaean Palaces to the Age of Homer

By Sigrid Deger-Jalkotzy; Irene S. Lemos | Go to book overview
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Pierre Carlier

Twenty years ago, I tried to analyse all the attestations of

and (276) and all the attestations of and related terms (142) in the Homeric poems.1 It would be fastidious to repeat this detailed analysis now. I will only mention a few salient facts about the use of the two words, and then offer a few comments on two very hotly debated questions: Are there kings in the Homeric poems? Are there kings in early archaic Greece?

With regard to

, there is some agreement among the homerists. often occurs in formulas (the most frequent is , which occurs 56 times), and we may conclude that is a word inherited from an old tradition. is frequently followed by a genitive indicating who is ruled, but it is sometimes a mere title especially for gods,2 but also for seers3 or powerful or venerable men like Anchises.4

is nearly always in the singular. There are only five attestations of the plural (three of them about horses left without their masters in the middle of the battle).5 and nearly always indicate a one-man rule, but this monarchical power is not always a king's. The may be the house-lord, the master of slaves or even the master of animals.

has the same range of meanings as dominus in late Latin, 'seigneur' in French or 'lord' in English. In contrast, there are many discussions about the

* I want to thank Stephie Nikoloudis for her help in correcting my English text.

1 Carlier 1984: 140–50, 215–30. Among the other analyses of the Homeric kingship vocabulary,
see Fanta 1882: 19–33; Stegmann von Pritzwald 1930: 13–46 and 64–79; Gschnitzer 1965,
99–112; Deger 1970: 45–61; Grimm 1967: col. 781–90; Benveniste 1969 II: 23–95; Lévy 1987:
291–314; Martin Schmidt, this volume.

2 34 attestations in the Iliad, 16 in the Odyssey.

3 Helenos: Il. 13.582, 758, 770, 781; Polydamas: Il. 15.453; Teiresias: Od. 11.144, 151.

4 Anchises: Il. 5.268; Aineias: Il. 5.311; the Trojan warrior Thymbraios: Il. 11.322; Teucros: Il.
23.859; Patroclus: Il. 23.173; the suitor Peisandros: Od. 18.299; Nisos, father of the suitor
Amphinomos: Od. 16.395, 18.413.

5Il. 2.177, 16.371, 16.507. In the Odyssey, Eumaios twice uses the plural

, once about
Laertes, Ulysses and Telemachus, the legitimate and good masters he likes (15.557), and once
about the suitors, the bad masters without sense who have taken hold of Ulysses' goods (14.60–1).


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Ancient Greece: From the Mycenaean Palaces to the Age of Homer
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