Music and Immortality: The Afterlife of Achilles in Philostratus' Heroicus


  • Graeme Miles


This paper examines the figure of Achilles in Philostratus' Heroicus, looking in particular at the representation of the hero as lyric singer/poet. The first section considers briefly the aspects of Achilles as he appears in the Iliad which may have led Philostratus to develop him as he does. The work of Martin and of Friedrich and Redfield on the language of Achilles will be drawn upon to indicate the features of the hero's language which may have influenced Philostratus' representation. Next, the paper will consider the significance of the song which Achilles sings on the island of Leuke, both in itself and within the Heroicus as a whole. The song, I argue, is important for an understanding of Philostratus' own ideas regarding literary creation within a traditional framework. Finally, it will consider the dialogue's broader presentation of Achilles' life and posthumous existence. Drawing on Bakhtin's concept of the chronotope, it will examine the curious, even unique treatment of time and space which Philostratus' focus on this subject requires, and the effects which this has on the presentation of Achilles.