The Epic Cycle

Translated by Gregory Nagy


Proclus’ Summary of the Cypria, attributed to Stasinus of Cyprus


1          Zeus, together with Themis, plans the Trojan War.

            For Eris, while attending a feast of the gods at the wedding of Peleus, instigates a feud [neikos] among Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite about beauty.

            They, by order of Zeus, are led by Hermes to Mount Ida for judgment by Alexandros.

            Alexandros judges for Aphrodite, encouraged by a promise of Helen in marriage.

5          On the advice of Aphrodite, he has ships built.

            Helenos prophesies to him about what is going to happen.

            Aphrodite tells Aineias [Aeneas] to sail with him.

            Then Kassandra foretells the events of the future.

            When he gets to Lacedaemonia, Alexandros is entertained as a xenos by the sons of Tyndaros,

10         and afterwards by Menelaos at Sparta.

            Alexandros gives Helen gifts during the feast.

            Menelaos sails off to Crete, telling Helen to provide proper hospitality for their xenoi while he is away.

            Aphrodite brings Helen and Alexandros together.

            After their intercourse, they load up a great many valuables and sail away by night.

15         Hera sends a storm down upon them.

            Landing at Sidon, Alexandros captures the city.

            They sail to Ilion. Alexandros marries Helen.

            In the meantime, Kastor and Polydeukes are caught stealing the cattle of Idas and Lynkeus.

20         Kastor is killed by Idas, but Idas and Lynkeus are killed by Polydeukes.

            And Zeus gives them both immortality on alternate days.

            Iris goes and tells Menelaos what has been happening at home.

            He returns and plans an expedition against Ilion with his brother.

            Menelaos goes to see Nestor.

25         Nestor, in a digression, tells him the story of how Epopeus seduced and carried off the daughter of Lykos,

            and the story of Oidipous [Oedipus],

            and the madness of Herakles,

            and the story of Theseus and Ariadne.

            Then they go through Hellas and gather the leaders together.

30         Odysseus pretends to be insane because he does not want to go to the war.

            But they find him out; on advice of Palamedes, they kidnap his son Telemakhos as a threat, thus forcing him to go.

            The leaders come together at Aulis to sacrifice.

            The happenings concerning the snake and the sparrows are described.

            Kalchas foretells the future events for them.

35         They put to sea and land at Teuthrania, and they mistake it for Ilion and destroy it.

            Telephos comes to its aid, and kills Thersandros, son of Polyneikes;

            but he himself is wounded by Achilles.

            As the Achaeans sail away from Mysia a storm comes on them and their ships are scattered.

            Achilles lands at Skyros and marries Deidameia, daughter of Lykomedes.

40         Telephos, guided by an oracle, comes to Argos.

            Achilles heals him, in order that he become their guide for the voyage to Ilion.

            The expedition gathers at Aulis for the second time.

            Agamemnon kills a deer on the hunt and boasts that he surpasses even Artemis.

            The goddess gets mênis and holds them back from the voyage by sending them bad weather.

45         But Kalchas explains the mênis of the goddess and tells them to sacrifice Iphigeneia to Artemis.

            They summon her as if for a marriage to Achilles and

            are about to sacrifice her.

            But Artemis snatches her away and carries her to Tauris

            and makes her immortal,

50         meanwhile placing a deer on the altar instead of the girl.

            Then they sail off to Tenedos.

            During a feast, Philoktetes is stung by a snake

            and because of the bad smell is left behind on Lemnos;

            and Achilles quarrels with Agamemnon

55         because he was invited too late.

            Then when they disembark at Ilion, the Trojans prevent them

            and Protesilaos is killed by Hektor.

            Then Achilles turns them back and kills Kyknos, son of Poseidon.

            And they bring away the corpses

60         and send an embassy to the Trojans, demanding Helen and the valuables.

            But since the Trojans do not comply, they besiege them at once.

            Going into the countryside, the Achaeans destroy the surrounding cities.

            After this Achilles longs to have a look at Helen and

            Aphrodite and Thetis arrange a place for them to meet.

65         Then when the Achaeans are eager to return home, Achilles holds them back.

            He drives off the cattle of Aineias

            and destroys Lyrnessos and Pedasos and many of the surrounding cities

            and he kills Troilos.

            Patroklos takes Lykaon to Lemnos and sells him

70         and from the ransom Achilles takes Briseis as his prize and Agamemnon, Chryseis.

            Then there is the death of Palamedes

            and Zeus’ plan to relieve the Trojans by pulling Achilles out of the Achaean alliance

            and a catalogue of all those who fought together against the Trojans.


            [The Iliad follows the Cypria.]



Proclus’ Summary of the Aithiopis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus



[The Aithiopis, in five books, follows the Iliad.]


1          The Amazon Penthesileia, daughter of Ares and Thracian by birth, comes to Troy as an ally of the Trojans.

            In the middle of her aristeia, Achilles kills her

            and the Trojans arrange for her funeral.

            Thersites, reviling and reproaching Achilles by saying that he loved Penthesileia, is killed by Achilles.

5          From this a quarrel arises among the Achaeans about Thersites’ murder.

            After this, Achilles sails to Lesbos, sacrifices to Apollo, Artemis, and Leto

            and is purified of the murder by Odysseus.

            Now Memnon, son of Eos [Dawn], who owns armor made by Hephaistos, comes to the aid of the Trojans.

            Thetis tells her son about the outcome of events concerning Memnon.

10         When a battle occurs, Antilochos is killed by Memnon

            but then Achilles kills Memnon.

            At this, Eos asks from Zeus the dispensation of immortality for him [Memnon], and it is granted.

            But Achilles, while routing the Trojans and rushing into the citadel, is killed by Paris and Apollo.

            When a heated battle starts over the corpse,

15         Aias [Ajax] picks it up and carries it off to the ships

            while Odysseus fights off the Trojans.

            Then they hold funeral rites for Antilochos

            and lay out Achilles’ corpse;

            Thetis comes with the Muses and her sisters and makes a lament [thrênos] for her son.

20         After that, Thetis snatches him off the pyre and

            carries him over to the island Leuke.

            But the Achaeans heap up his burial mound and hold funeral games

            and a quarrel breaks out between Odysseus and Aias over the armor of Achilles.

Proclus’ Summary of the Little Iliad, attributed to Lesches of Mytilene

            [The Little Iliad, in four books, follows the Aithiopis.]


1          There is the judgment for the armor, and Odysseus wins by the machinations of Athena,

            but Aias goes mad and defiles the herds of the Achaeans

            and kills himself.

            After this Odysseus goes on an ambush and captures Helenos,

5          and as a result of Helenos’ prophecy about the city’s conquest

            Diomedes fetches Philoktetes from Lemnos.

            Philoktetes is healed by Makhaon;

            he fights in single combat with Alexandros and kills him.

            The corpse is mutilated by Menelaos,

10         but the Trojans carry it off and hold funeral rites.

            After this Deiphobos marries Helen.

            Odysseus fetches Neoptolemos from Skyros;

            he gives him his father’s armor,

            and the ghost of Achilles appears to Neoptolemos.

15         Eurypylos the son of Telephos comes to the aid of the Trojans as an ally,

            and while he is having his aristeia Neoptolemos kills him.

            Troy is under siege.

            Epeios constructs the wooden horse, under direction of Athena.

            Odysseus, disfiguring himself, goes into Ilion as a spy.

20         He is recognized by Helen;

            jointly, they plan the capture of the city.

            Odysseus kills several Trojans and returns to the ships.

            After this Odysseus and Diomedes carry the Palladion out of Ilion.

            The aristoi of the Achaeans climb into the wooden horse;

25         the rest burn their tents and sail away to Tenedos.

            The Trojans conclude that they have been released from the siege.

            Pulling down part of the wall,

            they accept the wooden horse into the city,

            and they feast as if they had conquered the Achaeans.


Proclus’ Summary of the Ilioupersis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus

            [The Ilioupersis (Destruction of Ilion), in two books, follows the Little Iliad.]


1          The Trojans, suspicious about the horse, stand about wondering what they should do.

            Some want to push it off a cliff,

            some want to burn it,

            and some say that it is hieros and want to dedicate it to Athena.

5          In the end, the opinion of the third group wins.

            They give over to merriment, feasting as if they had been released from the war.

            At this point two serpents appear and destroy Laokoon and one of his sons.

            Aineias and his followers grow uneasy at this marvel, and withdraw to Mount Ida.

            Sinon, who previously joined the Trojans as a pretense, lights signal fires for the Achaeans,

10         who sail back from Tenedos,

            and those in the wooden horse fall upon their enemies.

            They kill many and take the city by force.

            Neoptolemos kills Priam, who has taken refuge at the altar of Zeus Herkeios.

            Menelaos murders Deiphobos,

15         he finds Helen and leads her down to the ships.

            Aias son of Oileus takes Kassandra by force, dragging her away from the wooden statue [xoanon] of Athena.

            The Achaeans, angry at this, want to stone Aias to death,

            but he takes refuge at the altar of Athena,

            and so is preserved from the immediate danger.

20         The Achaeans put the city to the torch.

            They slaughter Polyxena on the tomb of Achilles.

            Odysseus kills Astyanax,

            and Neoptolemos takes Andromache as his prize.

            The rest of the spoils are distributed.

25         Demophon and Akamas find their mother Aithra and take her with them.

            Then the Achaeans sail off,

            while Athena plots destruction for them on the seas.


Proclus’ Summary of the Nostoi, attributed to Agias of Trozen

            [The Nostoi (Songs of Homecoming), in five books, follows the Ilioupersis.]


1          Athena causes a quarrel between Agamemnon and Menelaos about the voyage from Troy.

            Agamemnon then stays on to appease the anger of Athena.

            Diomedes and Nestor set sail and arrive back home safely.

            After them, Menelaos sets sail.

5          He reaches Egypt with five ships, the rest having been lost in a storm at sea.

            Meanwhile, those who followed Kalchas and Leonteus and Polypoites travel by land to Kolophon, and they arrange a funeral for Teiresias, who died there.

            As for those who followed Agamemnon, the image [eidôlon] of Achilles appeared to them as they were sailing off, and

            it tried to prevent them from going on by prophesying future events.

            Then the storm at the rocks called Kapherides is described,

10         and the destruction of Lokrian Aias.

            Neoptolemos, warned by Thetis, makes his journey by land, and,

            coming to Thrace, meets Odysseus at Maroneia, and

            then finishes the rest of his journey,

            after arranging a funeral for Phoinix [Phoenix], who dies along the way.


He himself arrives in the land of the Molossoi and

            is recognized by Peleus.

            Then comes the murder of Agamemnon by Aigisthos and Klytaimestra [Clytemnestra] and

            the vengeance of Orestes and

            the safe return of Menelaos.