Nestor (mythology)

Nestor (mythology)

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In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Nestor of Gerenia was the son of Neleus
Neleus
Neleus was the son of Poseidon and Tyro and brother of Pelias. Tyro was married to Cretheus but loved Enipeus, a river god. She pursued Enipeus, who refused her advances. One day, Poseidon, filled with lust for Tyro, disguised himself as Enipeus and from their union was born Pelias and Neleus,...

 and Chloris
Chloris
thumb|250px|right| "As she talks, her lips breathe spring roses:I was Chloris, who am now called Flora." [[Ovid]]There are many stories in Greek mythology about figures named Chloris...

 and the King of Pylos
Pylos
Pylos , historically known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former...

. He became king after Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

 killed Neleus and all of Nestor's siblings. His wife was either Eurydice
Eurydice of Pylos
In Greek Mythology, Eurydice of Pylos was the daughter of Clymenus, and wife of Nestor. Their children include Perseus, Peisistratus, Thrasymedes, Pisidice, Polycaste, Stratichus, Aretus, Echephron, and Antilochus. The wife of Nestor and mother of his children might otherwise have been Anaxibia....

 or Anaxibia
Anaxibia
Anaxibia is the name of five characters in Greek mythology.*Anaxibia, the daughter of Bias and Iphianassa, and niece of Melampus. She married Pelias, to whom she bore Acastus, Pisidice, Pelopia, Hippothoe, Alcestis, and Medusa...

; their children included Peisistratus
Peisistratus (Odyssey)
Peisistratus or Peisistratos or Pisistratus was a figure in Greek mythology, the youngest son of Nestor. He became an intimate friend of Telemachus, son of Odysseus, and travelled with him on his unsuccessful search for his father...

, Thrasymedes
Thrasymedes (mythology)
You may be looking for Thrasymedes of Paros, the sculptor.In Greek mythology Thrasymedes was a participant in the Trojan War, where he killed two people...

, Pisidice
Pisidice
In Greek mythology, Pisidice or Peisidike was one of the following individuals:* A daughter of Pelias, who, together with her sisters, killed their father, as Medea tricked them into believing this was needed to rejuvenate him....

, Polycaste
Polycaste
Polycaste is the name of two separate women in Greek mythology:*Polycaste is the daughter of Nestor and Eurydice . She bathed Telemachus on his way to Pylos and later married him. They had a son, Persepolis....

, Stratichus
Stratichus
In Greek mythology, Stratichus is the son of Nestor and either Eurydice or Anaxibia. He appears in the Odyssey....

, Aretus
Aretus
In Greek mythology, Aretus or Árêtos was one of several characters:#King Aretus of Pylos was a son of Nestor and Eurydice .#Aretus of Troy was one of fifty sons of Priam. He was killed by Automedon....

, Echephron
Echephron
Echephron is the name of three characters in Greek mythology.*Echephron, a son of Nestor and Eurydice .*Echephron, a son of Priam, king of Troy....

, and Antilochus
Antilochus
In Greek mythology, Antilochus was the son of Nestor, king of Pylos. One of the suitors of Helen of Troy, he accompanied his father and his brother Thrasymedes to the Trojan War. He was distinguished for his beauty, swiftness of foot, and skill as a charioteer...

.

Biography


Nestor was an Argonaut
Argonauts
The Argonauts ) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means...

, helped fight the centaur
Centaur
In Greek mythology, a centaur or hippocentaur is a member of a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse...

s, and participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar
Calydonian Boar
The Calydonian Boar is one of the monsters of Greek mythology that had to be overcome by heroes of the Olympian age. Sent by Artemis to ravage the region of Calydon in Aetolia because its king failed to honor her in his rites to the gods, it was killed in the Calydonian Hunt, in which many male...

. He and his sons, Antilochus and Thrasymedes, fought on the side of the Achaeans in the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

. Though Nestor was already old when the war began (he was believed to be about 110), he was noted for his bravery and speaking abilities. In the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, he often gives advice to the younger warriors and advises Agamemnon
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

 and Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

 to reconcile. He is too old to engage in combat himself, but he leads the Pylian
Pylos
Pylos , historically known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former...

 troops, riding his chariot, and one of his horses is killed by an arrow shot by Paris
Paris (mythology)
Paris , the son of Priam, king of Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends. Probably the best-known was his elopement with Helen, queen of Sparta, this being one of the immediate causes of the Trojan War...

. He also had a solid gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 shield. Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 frequently calls him by the epithet
Epithets in Homer
A characteristic of Homer's style is the use of epithets, as in "rosy-fingered" dawn or "swift-footed" Achilles. Epithets are used because of the constraints of the dactylic hexameter and because of the oral transmission of the poems; they are mnemonic aids to the poet and the audience...

 "the Gerenian horseman." At the funeral games of Patroclus
Patroclus
In Greek mythology, as recorded in the Iliad by Homer, Patroclus, or Patroklos , was the son of Menoetius, grandson of Actor, King of Opus, and was Achilles' beloved comrade and brother-in-arms....

, Nestor advises Antilochus
Antilochus
In Greek mythology, Antilochus was the son of Nestor, king of Pylos. One of the suitors of Helen of Troy, he accompanied his father and his brother Thrasymedes to the Trojan War. He was distinguished for his beauty, swiftness of foot, and skill as a charioteer...

 on how to win the chariot race
Chariot racing
Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing was often dangerous to both driver and horse as they frequently suffered serious injury and even death, but generated strong spectator enthusiasm...

. Antilochus was later killed in battle by Memnon
Memnon (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Memnon was an Ethiopian king and son of Tithonus and Eos. As a warrior he was considered to be almost Achilles' equal in skill. During the Trojan War, he brought an army to Troy's defense. The death of Memnon echoes that of Hector, another defender of Troy whom Achilles also...

.

In the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

,
Nestor has safely returned to Pylos
Pylos
Pylos , historically known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former...

, whereto Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

's son Telemachus
Telemachus
Telemachus is a figure in Greek mythology, the son of Odysseus and Penelope, and a central character in Homer's Odyssey. The first four books in particular focus on Telemachus' journeys in search of news about his father, who has been away at war...

 travels to inquire about the fate of his father. Nestor receives Telemachus kindly and entertains him lavishly but is unable to furnish any information on his father's fate. Also appearing in the Odyssey are Nestor's wife Eurydice (a mythological figure separate from Orpheus
Orpheus
Orpheus was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth. The major stories about him are centered on his ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music; his attempt to retrieve his wife from the underworld; and his death at the hands of those who...

's wife of the same name) and their remaining living sons: Echephron, Stratius, Perseus, Aretus, Thrasymedes and Peisistratus. Nestor also had a daughter named Polycaste.

Nestor's advice


In the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

,
too, Homer's admiration of Nestor is tempered by some humor at his expense: Telemachus
Telemachus
Telemachus is a figure in Greek mythology, the son of Odysseus and Penelope, and a central character in Homer's Odyssey. The first four books in particular focus on Telemachus' journeys in search of news about his father, who has been away at war...

, having returned to Nestor's home from a visit to Helen of Troy and Menelaus
Menelaus
Menelaus may refer to;*Menelaus, one of the two most known Atrides, a king of Sparta and son of Atreus and Aerope*Menelaus on the Moon, named after Menelaus of Alexandria.*Menelaus , brother of Ptolemy I Soter...

 (where he has sought further information on his father's fate), urges Peisistratus to let him board his vessel immediately to return home rather than being subjected to a further dose of Nestor's rather overwhelming sense of hospitality.

Nestor’s advice in the Iliad has also been interpreted to have sinister undertones. For example, when Patroclus comes to Nestor for advice in Book 11, Nestor persuades him that it is urgent for him to disguise himself as Achilles. Karl Reinhardt, in Die Iliad und ihr Dichter, argues that this is contrary to what Patroclus really originally wanted – in fact, he is only there to receive information on behalf of Achilles about the wounded Machaon. Reinhardt notes that an “unimportant errand left behind by an all-important one…Patrocles’ role as messenger is crucial and an ironic purpose permeates the encounter.”

It is interesting to note that Homer offers contradictory portrayals of Nestor as a source of advice. On one hand, Homer portrays Nestor as a wise man; Nestor repeatedly offers advice to the Achaeans that has been claimed to be anachronistic in Homer’s time – e.g. arranging the armies by tribes and clans or effectively using chariots in battle. Yet at the same time Nestor’s advice is frequently ineffective. Some examples include Nestor completely buying into the dream Zeus plants in Agamemnon in Book 2 and urging the Achaeans to battle, instructing the Achaeans in Book 4 to use spear techniques that in actuality would be disastrous, and in Book 11 giving advice to Patroclus that ultimately leads to his death. Yet Nestor is never questioned and instead is frequently praised.

Hanna Roisman, in Nestor the Good Counselor, explains that the characters in the Iliad ignore the discrepancy between the quality of Nestor’s advice and its outcomes is because, in the world of the Iliad, “outcomes are ultimately in the hands of the ever arbitrary and fickle gods…heroes are not necessarily viewed as responsible when things go awry.” In the Iliad, people are judged not necessarily in the modern view of results, but as people. Therefore, Nestor should be viewed as a good counselor because of the qualities he possesses as described in his introduction in Book 1 – as a man of “sweet words,” a “clear-voiced orator,” and whose voice “flows sweeter than honey.” These are elements that make up Nestor, and they parallel the elements that Homer describes as part of a good counselor in Book 3.150-152. Therefore, “the definition tells us that Nestor, as a good advisor, possesses the three features…that it designates.” Nestor is a good counselor inherently, and the consequences of his advice have no bearing on that, a view that differs from how good counselors are viewed today.

Historical notations


Excavations in the mid 20th century in Pylos uncovered a wine cellar reportedly belonging to King Nestor. The cellar had an estimated capacity of 1,250 gallons with several remnants of pithoi, large Greek storage jars.

The National Museum of Athens displays a two-handled wine cup made of pure gold that legend ascribes as belonging to Nestor.

Sources


  • Homer. Iliad I, 248; II, 370; IV, 293.
  • Homer. Odyssey III, 157, 343.
  • The Merchant of Venice Act I, Scene I, Line 55.
  • In James Joyce's Ulysses, the character of Deasy stands for Nestor.