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Medieval and Classical Library

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

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
(5), the famous son of horse-taming Anchises, on board his sea-
faring ships, a prize surpassing those of all the Danaans.'


(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
(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.