Kleos, Nostos and Ponos in the Homeric Tradition

The Classical Review, 67:2 (Dec 2016): 64-71

8 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2018

See all articles by Martin Mares

Martin Mares

University College London - Department of History

Date Written: December 20, 2016


This paper analyses meaning and connectedness of Kleos (eternal glory, fame), Nostos (homecoming, heroic return) and Ponos (toil, ordeal, pain) in various myths from including the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Epic Cycle 1. Despite being essential to the analyzing cultural significance of Homeric tradition, folklore feels disconnected from initial manifestations of heroic stories. We can say that such unfortunate outcome is caused by the popularity of non-poetic narratives that have been created by numerous writers to bring the coherent plot into the foreground. This approach might be comprehensible presentation of the story, though such versions lack the essence of imprinting heroic deeds into epic poems by earning Kleos and sustaining heroes' Kleos by repeated performance. Thus, this essay explores significance of Kleos, nostos and Ponos within Homeric tradition and suggests that we should abandon a canonical way of reading these virtues because such approach does not correspond with original myths that had been passed down from generation to generation. For this purpose, above-mentioned heroic virtues will be demonstrated on examples of Odysseus, Diomedes, Telemonian Ajax, Neoptolemus and with emphasis on Achilles – the epitome of Kleos. Moreover, popular adherence to " multi-volume " way of reading the Trojan War will be re-evaluated by juxtaposing Homer's works and the Epic Cycle to locate distinct traditions regarding Kleos, Nostos and Ponos.

Keywords: Homeric Epics, Homer, Greek, Classical Studies, Trojan War, Illiad, Nostos, Ponos, Kleos, Epic Cycle, Mythology

Suggested Citation

Mares, Martin, Kleos, Nostos and Ponos in the Homeric Tradition (December 20, 2016). The Classical Review, 67:2 (Dec 2016): 64-71, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3200025

Martin Mares (Contact Author)

University College London - Department of History ( email )

Gower S
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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