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The Nostoi or Nosten ( ancient Greek νόστοι , “ journeys home” ) were an ancient Greek epic in five books and told stories from the Trojan legends. They are only preserved in fragments and are included in the so-called epic cycle . In terms of content, they followed the Iliu persis , which dealt with the fall of Troy, and reported on the return of important Greek heroes such as Agamemnon and Menelaus . They wanted to provide a supplement to the Odyssey that offered a detailed account of the return of Odysseus .

Conservation status, author and time of origin

Today's knowledge of the Nostoi is mainly based on the summary of the content by an unspecified Proclus in his chrestomathy . The correctness of its table of contents can hardly be verified, since otherwise there is almost no further information on the epic, of which only 5½ original hexameters have survived. An Agias von Troizen is named as the author of the Nostoi in two testimonies, among others by Proklos . The epic probably originated in the 7th or 6th century BC. BC and, according to two quotations, was entitled Homecoming of the Atrids . There were other works that took up the same theme as the Nostoi; thus Antikleides of Athens and probably also Eumelos of Corinth created a prosaic, Stesichoros a chorus-lyric arrangement. The Nostoi used the same (pre-Homeric) sagas and epylls about the homecoming of the Troy heroes as the Odyssey.


The Nostoi probably began with the dispute between the brothers Agamemnon and Menelaus, whether they should leave Troy immediately for their journey home with their ships; for the goddess Athena was angry about the iniquity of Little Aias towards the seer Cassandra and threatened trouble. The general Agamemnon advocated waiting for the reconciliation of Athens, but other leading Greek participants in the Trojan War did not hesitate to leave, such as Diomedes and Nestor , who also reached their homeland unscathed. Menelaus also sailed before his brother, but only five of his fleet of 60 ships escaped sinking in a severe storm; with these remaining ships he was finally able to reach Egypt . This narrative partly coincides with the one given in the third song of the Odyssey, where the homecoming of other heroes besides Odysseus is briefly described. The Nostoi then stated that Leonteus , Polypoites and the seer Kalchas came by land along the coast of Asia Minor , marching south to the Ionian city of Colophon . Kalchas died there from grief that he had lost a visionary contest against Mopsos . He was also buried in Kolophon.

Although the spirit of the fallen Achilles warned Agamemnon of impending doom, Agamemnon finally sailed away and got caught in a storm sent by Zeus at the request of the angry Athena. Little Aias was shipwrecked on the Cape Rocks of Evia and drowned.

The return of Neoptolemus was probably described in considerable detail in the Nostoi. The source for this story may have been a poem of its own. On the advice of the Nereid Thetis , Neoptolemus and Phoinix first went north over land to Thrace , where he met Odysseus in Maroneia . From the table of contents in Proclus, however, it cannot be determined how detailed the Nostoi described the fate of Odysseus on his long wandering to Ithaca beyond this isolated mention . On the further march of Neoptolemus, his companion Phoinix died. Neoptolemus finally came to the Molossians , whose ruling dynasty revered him as an ancestor. His grandfather Peleus , who was there, recognized him.

The Nostoi concluded with the report of the arrival of Agamemnon and Menelaus in their homeland. During Agamemnon's long absence, his wife, Clytemnestra, had entered into an adulterous relationship with Aigisthus , and the couple then killed the returning hero. In revenge, Agamemnon's son Orestes later committed matricide by killing the murderous couple in turn. Some researchers assume that the Nostoi probably also depicts the journey of the slain Agamemnon into the underworld ( Hades ). Menelaus finally made it home several years later, but safely.


  • A. Bernabé: Poetarum epicorum Graecorum testimonia et fragmenta . Vol. 1, Leipzig, 1987.
  • M. Davies: Epicorum Graecorum fragmenta , Göttingen 1988.



  1. ^ Joachim Latacz: Nostoi. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 8, Metzler, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-476-01478-9 , Sp. 1008 .; Alois Rzach : Kyklos. In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XI, 2, Stuttgart 1922, Col. 2422 f.
  2. Homer , Odyssey 3:299.
  3. ^ Alois Rzach: Kyklos. In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XI, 2, Stuttgart 1922, Col. 2425.
  4. ^ So Alois Rzach: Kyklos. In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XI, 2, Stuttgart 1922, Col. 2424.