I'm reading the Loeb Iliad so I have the original Greek text alongside English and am confused when reading verse Il. 16-543:

τὸν δ᾽ ὑπὸ Πατρόκλῳ δάμασ᾽ ἔγχεϊ χάλκεος Ἄρης.

... Him [Sarpedon] has brazen Ares laid low beneath the spear of Patroclus. ...

This comes from a speech by Glaucus to Hector as he reproaches him for not defending his allies.

Note the English text probably doesn't correspond exactly to that line, I can't read Ancient Greek and the book doesn't align the translations verse-by-verse.

So, at the beginning of Book 16, Achilles tells Patroclus to don his armour and fight back the Trojans, so that they may fear it is Achilles who attacks them, rather than Patroclus in disguise. Yet at this point, Patroclus' identity has not been revealed (I think), so how can Glaucus know it is Patroclus who killed Sarpedon moments earlier?

My translation is certainly not at fault, because Πατρόκλῳ is mentioned by name.

1 Answer 1


The Greek you presented is the right line, and you're right that it's not clear what is going on.

Because the text doesn't actually say, it's anyone's guess why Homer might have had Glaucus name Patroclus. For one, there might have been a missing section that named him first, or maybe they're different traditions, or perhaps it's just Homer "nodding."

But from the text on its own terms, it isn't so strange that Glaucus knows. Maybe it is that Glaucus is near enough to Sarpedon (since he heard his voice) that he recognizes Patroclus in the armor. Homer here doesn't make that explicit, but it's plausible enough, especially since Glaucus straightaway prays to Apollo and then names Patroclus. It was also the purpose of Sarpedon's duel to find out who he was fighting:

For I myself will meet this man so that I may know who this person is who so prevails. (16.423-424).

Perhaps this is Homer's way of drawing the dots but allowing us to connect them.

  • 1
    I haven't heard of the idiom 'even Homer nods' before, and apparently I missed those verses you quote. Thank you for clearing this up for me.
    – agregate
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 12:21

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