Inventing the past in Homer and Philostratus
WithAnderson Graham
Pages 12

To see Achilles or Patroclus in a different environment in their childhood, or even at any time before the war, is to be given a private and privileged glimpse, and of this kind of material Homer is much more sparing. It is at important emotional climaxes in the action that it tends to occur. In one instance at least, Homer combines the twin perspective of distinguished genealogy and poignant personal reminiscence: in the case of Lycaon in Iliad 21, who was captured by Achilles and ransomed in Lemnos, only to be recaptured a matter of 10 days later. Homer appears to look back to the Trojan War across at least several generations. It is worthwhile to look at the perspectives on Homer close on a millennium later. So much for the way Homer can look back to past generations, but there is another kind of past: the past of the individual, of the heroic self, in a context of childhood.