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In Greek mythology, Elpenor was a good friend of Odysseus.

Elpenor was not especially notable for his intelligence or strength, but he survived the Trojan War, and appears in the Odyssey. When Odysseus landed on Aeaea, Circe's island, Elpenor became intoxicated and climbed onto the roof of Circe's palace to sleep. The next morning he forgot he was on the roof and fell to his death, but Odysseus and his men did not have time to bury him before they left on their quest to visit Hades. Elpenor was the first to meet Odysseus in the underworld, and pleaded with him to return to Aeaea and give him a proper burial. After finishing his task in the underworld, Odysseus returned to Aeaea and cremated Elpenor's body, then buried him with his armour and marked the grave with an oar of his ship.

Elpenor was included in a painting of Polygnotos in the Lesche of the Cnidians:

Pausanias 10.29.8

Beyond Eriphyle have been painted Elpenor and Odysseus. The latter is squatting on his feet, and holding his sword over the trench, towards which the seer Teiresias is advancing. After Teiresias is Anticleia, the mother of Odysseus, upon a rock. Elpenor has on instead of clothes a mat, such as is usual for sailors to wear.

Servius (ad Aen. vi. 107) relates that Elpenor was killed by Odysseus himself for necromantic purposes.

Sources

  • Apollodorus E.7.16

Images

The Odyssey, Homer , Robert Fagles (Translator), Bernard MacGregor Walke Knox (Introduction)


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