Chryses' supplication of Agamemnon at the beginning of the Iliad is anomalous in three interconnected ways: neither the language nor the gestures is typical of supplications in the Iliad, and there is no mention of the family of the person supplicated. These apparent difficulties, however, allow Chryses' supplication to play its role in the economy of the narrative. In some ways Chryses' supplication matches Priam's supplication of Achilles, since in both incidents a father asks for the return of his child. But in other ways Chryses' supplication does not match this or other typical supplications in the epic. Chryses' supplication is described by the narrator with the verb λίσσομαι but most of the uses of λίσσομαι occur in situations which are not strong supplications. In general, supplication is characterized by the verbs γουνοῦμαι and γουνάζομαι often coupled with the action of grasping the knees, but Chryses does not use submissive language and gestures. Chryses, like Achilles, can invoke divine aid when he is wronged. If Chryses' speech act had not been a supplication, the parallel with Priam's situation would be impossible, but if it had been typical, then the parallel with Agamemnon's treatment of Achilles would be impossible. Moreover, the lack of an appeal to familial pity may be interpreted as a subtle allusion to the story of the sacrifice of Iphigeneia at Aulis and as a comment on the characterization of both Chryses and Agamemnon; and the lack of the language or gestures of submission allows Achilles to interpret and to re-interpet this first event, to place himself in two different roles, the supplicant and the supplicated, as his own understanding of the events of the story grows and deepens.

[Footnotes]

[Footnotes]
1
Il.1.500-10
Il.6.45-50
Il.11.130-35
Il.24.477-506
Od.5.445-50
Od.7.139-52
Od.13.228-35
Od.15.272-78
Od.22.310-19
Whitman 1965
Lohmann 1970
Gould 1973
Rosner 1976
Edwards 1980
Macleod 1982
Pedrick 1982
Thornton 1984
Rabel 1988
Crotty 1995.
2
Lohmann 1970:169
Whitman 1965:257-60
Macleod 1982:33-34.
3
Rabel 1988:474
4
Rabel 1988
Rabel 1988:476
Crotty 1995:55-56.
5
Crotty 1995.
6
Gould 1973:74
Il.1.14-15
Il.1.23
Rep. 3.393-94
Crotty 1995:21-22
7
Griffin 1986:37
Martin 1989
Mackie 1996.
Roochink 1990
8
Austin 1975
Clark and Csapo 1991:97
Lakoff 1987.
9
Griffin 1986
10
Lattimore 1961
11
Austin 1975:56-57.
13
Austin 1975:99-100 and 109-10.
15
Austin 1975:150-51.
17
Searle 1979:2-4
18
Searle 1979:5-8
20
Lakoff 1987
21
Il.1.283
Il.1. 174
Il.19.305
Od.15.261
Od.21.278
Od.2.68
Od.2.210
Od.3.98
Od.4.328
Il.22.338
Od.22.310.-12
22
Lateiner 1995
23
Gould 1973:76
24
Il.21.74
Od.6.149
Od.22.312
Od.22.344
Od.11.66
Od.13.324
Il.15.665
Il.1.427
Il.22.240
Il.11.130
Il.9.583
Il.15.660
Od.10.521
Od.11.29.
25
Gould 1973:81
26
Martin 1989:120ff.
27
Lakoff 1987
28
Griffin 1983:1-49
29
Il.22.338
30
Od.11.66-67
31
Il.15.662-65
32
Il.22.38-76
Il.22.82-89.
Crotty 1995:75
33
Slatkin 1991:xv
Nagy 1992.
35
Thoas (TrGF IV F 726-30).
36
Hes. frg. 23a, 17
Ventris and Chadwick 1973:286-88
37
"Iphigeneia" in LIMC, vol. V, 1, pp. 706ff.

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