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ΙΧΩΡ: the ‘blood’ of the Homeric gods. Notes on Eustathius’ commentary to Iliad 5.339-340

Sansone di Campobianco Luca
Articolo Immagine
Rivista Storica dell’Antichità
Rivista Storica dell'Antichità N. L/2020

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This paper considers the problem of the seemingly semantic discrepancy perceived by contemporary scholarship between the connotation of ichor at Hom. Il. 5.339 as ‘blood of the gods’ and its technical use in the later Hippocratic medical literature as ‘serous discharge’. After a brief survey of the solutions so far proposed it wades into an analysis of the interpretative attempt pursued by Eustathius of Thessalonica in his commentary to the Iliad. Based on this analysis, Eustathius would not anchor his understanding of the Homeric ichor to the framework set by the Hippocratic medical discourse, but rather to Aristotele’s biological research where the term is redefined as analogous to blood in non-human species. Eustathius’ interpretative strategy offers two advantages: it allows the author to bypass the inconsistencies initially observed between the Homeric and Hippocratic connotations of the term. In addition, it may offer glimpses of an investigation on divine physiology possibly conducted within the philosophical and/or scientific framework of the 4th BCE.

Keywords: Ichor, Eustathius, Homer, gods, blood.