The Aethiopis or Aithiopis (Greek: Αἰθιοπίς, Latin: Aethiopis) is a lost epic of ancient Greek literature. It was one of the Epic Cycle, that is, the "Trojan" cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic verse. The story of the Aethiopis comes chronologically immediately after that of the Homeric Iliad, and is followed by that of the Little Iliad. The Aethiopis was sometimes attributed by ancient writers to Arctinus of Miletus (see Cyclic poets). The poem comprised five books of verse in dactylic hexameter.


The Aethiopis was probably composed in the seventh century BC, but there is much uncertainty. Ancient sources date Arctinus to the eighth century; but the earliest artistic representations of one of the most important characters, Penthesilea, date to about 600 BC, suggesting a much later date.


In current critical editions only five lines survive of the Aethiopis' original text. We are almost entirely dependent on a summary of the Cyclic epics contained in the Chrestomathy attributed to an unknown "Proclus" (possibly to be identified with the 2nd-century AD grammarian Eutychius Proclus). Fewer than ten other references give indications of the poem's storyline.

The poem opens, shortly after the death of the Trojan hero Hector, with the arrival of the Amazon warrior Penthesileia who has come to support the Trojans. She has a moment of glory in battle, but Achilles kills her. The Greek warrior Thersites later taunts Achilles, claiming that he had been in love with her, and Achilles kills him too. Achilles is ritually purified for the murder of Thersites.

Next another Trojan ally arrives, Memnon, son of Eos and Tithonus, leading an Ethiopian contingent and wearing armour made by the god Hephaestus. In battle Memnon kills Antilochus, a Greek warrior who was the son of Nestor and a great favourite of Achilles. Achilles then kills Memnon, and Zeus makes Memnon immortal at Eos' request. But in his rage Achilles pursues the Trojans into the very gates of Troy, and in the Scaean Gates he is killed by an arrow shot by Paris, assisted by the god Apollo. Achilles' body is rescued by Ajax and Odysseus.

The Greeks hold a funeral for Antilochus. Achilles' mother, the sea nymph Thetis, comes with her sisters and the Muses to lament over Achilles' body. Funeral games are held in honour of Achilles, at which Achilles' arms are offered as a prize for the greatest hero; and there develops a dispute over them between Ajax and Odysseus. There the Aethiopis ends; it is uncertain whether the judgment of Achilles' arms, and subsequent suicide of Ajax, were told in the Aethiopis, in the next epic in the Cycle, the Little Iliad, or in both.

Importance of the poem

Events told in the story of the Aethiopis were popular among ancient Greek vase painters. Especially popular scenes are the death of Penthesilea, and Ajax's retrieval of Achilles' corpse.

Despite being poorly attested, the Aethiopis is frequently cited in modern scholarship on the Homeric Iliad.[1] It is one of the most important paradigms used in Neoanalytic scholarship on Homer because of strong similarities between its story of Achilles, Antilochus, and Memnon, and the Iliadic story of Achilles, Patroclus, and Hector; the claim that such a similarity exists is known as the "Memnon theory".[2]


  • Online editions (English translation):
  • Fragments of the Aethiopis translated by H.G. Evelyn-White, 1914 (public domain)
  • Fragments of complete Epic Cycle translated by H.G. Evelyn-White, 1914; Project Gutenberg edition
  • Proclus' summary of the Epic Cycle translated by Gregory Nagy
  • Print editions (Greek):
  • A. Bernabé 1987, Poetarum epicorum Graecorum testimonia et fragmenta pt. 1 (Leipzig: Teubner)
  • M. Davies 1988, Epicorum Graecorum fragmenta (Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht)
  • Print editions (Greek with English translation):
  • M.L. West 2003, Greek Epic Fragments (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press)


1. ^ See e.g. G. Schoeck 1961, Ilias und Aithiopis: kyklische Motive in homerischer Brechung (Zurich); J. Burgess 1997, "Beyond Neo-analysis: problems with the vengeance theory", American Journal of Philology 118.1: 1-17; M.L. West 2003, "Iliad and Aithiopis", Classical Quarterly 53.1: 1-14.
2. ^ See especially W. Schadewaldt 1965, Von Homers Welt und Werk (4th ed.; orig. publ. 1944; Stuttgart).

Epic Cycle
Cypria | Iliad | Aithiopis | Little Iliad | Iliou persis | Nostoi | Odyssey | Telegony
Writing system: Greek alphabet 
Official status
Official language of:  Greece
 European Union
recognised as minority language in parts of:
 European Union
Regulated by:
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Official status
Official language of: Vatican City
Used for official purposes, but not spoken in everyday speech
Regulated by: Opus Fundatum Latinitas
Roman Catholic Church
Language codes
ISO 639-1: la
ISO 639-2: lat
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The epic is long, exalted narrative poetry, generally concerning a serious subject and details the heroic deeds and events important to a culture or nation.
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Greek literature refers to those writings autochthonic to the areas of Greeks|Greek]influence, typically though not necessarily in one of the Greek dialects, throughout the whole period in which the Greeks|Greek-speaking peoples have existed.
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The Epic Cycle (Greek: Επικός Κύκλος) was a collection of Ancient Greek epic poems that related the story of the Trojan War, which includes the Kypria, the Aithiopis, the Little Iliad, the
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Trojan War was waged, according to Greek mythology, against the city of Troy by the armies of the Achaeans (Mycenaean Greeks), after Paris of Troy stole Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta.
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Homer is the name given to the purported author of the early Greek poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. It is now generally believed that they were composed by illiterate aoidoi (rhapsodes) in an oral tradition in the 8th or 7th century BC.
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iLiad is an electronic handheld device, or e-book device, which can be used for document reading and editing. Like the Sony Reader, the iLiad makes use of an electronic paper display.


Main specifications:
  • an 8.1-inch (20.

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The Little Iliad (Greek: Ἰλιὰς μικρά; Latin: Ilias parva) is a lost epic of ancient Greek literature.
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Arctinus of Miletus or Arctinus Milesius (Ἀρκτῖνος Μιλήσιος) was a Greek epic poet whose reputation is purely legendary, as none of his works survive.
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Cyclic Poets are epic poets who followed Homer and wrote poems and songs about the Trojan war. Together with Homer, whose Iliad covers a mere 50 days of the war, they cover the complete war "cycle", thus the name.
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Dactylic hexameter (also known as "heroic hexameter") is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek and Latin.
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Chrestomathy (Greek, from the words khrestos, useful, and mathein, to know) is a selection of linguistic writings which can be used in learning a language.
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Eutychius Proclus (Latin; Greek Εὐτυχίος Πρόκλος Eutychios Proklos) was a grammarian who flourished in the 2nd century CE. He was born at Sicca in Africa.
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State Party  Turkey
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, vi
Reference 849
Region Europe and North America

Inscription History
Inscription 1998  (22nd Session)
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HECToR (High End Computing Terascale Resources) is a £113m supercomputer which is to be installed at University of Edinburgh in Scotland. It is due to come online in October 2007 and is expected to have the performance of 14,000 ordinary PCs[1].
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Amazons (in Greek, Αμαζόνες) were a mythical ancient nation of all-female warriors. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia.
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Penthesilea (Greek: Πενθεσίλεια, or Penthesilia) was an Amazonian queen, daughter of Ares and Otrera,[1] and sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe.
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Achilles (also Akhilleus or Achilleus; Ancient Greek: Άχιλλεύς) was a hero of the Trojan War, the central character and greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad
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In Greek mythology, Thersites, son of Agrius, was a rank-and-file soldier of the Greek army during the Trojan War.

Homer described him in detail in the Iliad, book II, even though he plays only a minor role in the story.
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Memnon was an Ethiopian king and son of Tithonus and Eos. At the Trojan War, he brought an army to Troy's defense and was killed by Achilles in retribution for killing Antilochus.
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Eos (Greek Ηώς, or Έως "dawn") is, in Greek mythology, the Titanic goddess[1] of the dawn, who rose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, the Ocean that surrounds the world, to herald her brother
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In Greek mythology, Tithonus or Tithonos was the lover of Eos, Titanid of the dawn. He was a Trojan by birth, the son of King Laomedon of Troy.

Eos kidnapped Ganymede and Tithonus, both from the royal house of Troy, to be her lovers.
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In Greek mythology, Ethiopia (Aethiopia), was a Phoenician kingdom[1] stretching from Syria down to the shores of the Red Sea. Not to be confused in any way with the modern country of Ethiopia, it included parts of present-day Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
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Hephaestus (IPA pronunciation: [hɪfiːstəs] or [hɪfεstəs]; Greek
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In Greek mythology, Antilochus (also transliterated as Antílokhos) was the son of Nestor, king of Pylos. One of the suitors of Helen, he accompanied his father to the Trojan War.
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Nestor may refer to:
  • Nestor (mythology), the son of Neleus, the King of Pylos and Chloris in Greek mythology
  • Nestor (genus), a genus of parrots in ornithology

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Paris (Greek: Πάρις; also known as Alexander or Alexandros, c.f. Alaksandus of Wilusa), mythological son of Priam, king of Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends.
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In Greek and Roman mythology, Apollo (in Greek, ἈπόλλωνApóllōn or ἈπέλλωνApellōn), the ideal of the kouros
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Ajax or Aias (ancient Greek: Αἴας) was a mythological Greek hero, the son of Telamon and Periboea and king of Salamis.
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