Nestor (mythology)

Dimitris Stamatios | May 24, 2023


Nestor, also called Nestor Gerenius (Ancient Greek: Νέστωρ Γερήνιος, Nestōr Gerēnios) is a character in Greek mythology. Son of Neleus and Chloris, he was king of Pylos, the oldest and wisest of the Achaeans who fought at Troy. daughter of Climenus, or else Anaxibia, daughter of Cratiæus, and among his children are named Pisistratus,Thrasymedes, Echephron, Perseus, Pisidice, Polycasta, Strataeus, Atreto, and Antilochus. In later mythographers a daughter is added; Epicasta, who was mother, by Telemachus, of Homer.

In some traditions, Nestor was one of the Argonauts, fought against the centaurs and participated in the boar hunt of Calidon. He came to the throne of Pylos, after Herakles killed his father and older brothers.

On the other hand, he led a plundering expedition against the Eleans, from which he returned with a large booty of cattle. In retaliation, the Eleians, among whom were Ctéato and Éurito, the Moliónidas Actoridas, attacked the Pilians in the city of Trioesa. In the battle that ensued, Nestor’s troops were victorious.

Homer frequently refers to him as king of Pylos, but also calls him “Gerenius,” which was interpreted to mean that his origin was from the Messenian city of Gerenia or else as an equivalent of the Greek word γέρων, the meaning of which is “old man.”

Nestor and his sons Antiochus and Thrasimedes fought alongside the Achaeans in the Trojan War that followed the abduction of Helen; and although because of his advanced age he could not fight (he had already lived three generations because the gods or Apollo alone granted him to live the years that should have lived his uncles, the sons of Amphion and Niobe slaughtered by Apollo and Artemis when the former mocked his mother the titanid Leto), he was useful in the agora and gave advice to the most illustrious in order to ensure the triumph of the Greek cause. Also in internal affairs his opinion was held in high esteem, being disobeyed only once by Agamemnon,-for Nestor had advised him not to be carried away by his anger against Achilles and not to take Briseis, and the king of Mycenae did just the opposite, although very soon Agamemnon had to recognize his mistake because of the shameful loss his army was suffering before the Trojans.

In any case, Homer presents Nestor in two contradictory ways, especially in the Iliad. On the one hand, he is described as a wise old man who is frequently asked for advice, extolling his wisdom and experience; on the other hand, however, his advice is presented as anachronistic and, at times, leads to disaster. The most notable case, is when he advises Patroclus to disguise himself as Achilles, which leads to his death at the hands of Hector. In the Odyssey he appears as a peaceful king, who is concerned above all with honoring the gods.

As the only Achaean warrior who had behaved with total justice during the siege of Ilium, Zeus granted him a relatively uncomplicated return, and in his homeland he lived peacefully and without problems in the company of his wife and children. It was while in his homeland that he gave hospitality to Telemachus, son of Odysseus, and informed him about the first incidents of the return of the Achaeans. Although he could not give certain news about Odysseus, he did provide horses for Telemachus to go to Sparta to meet Menelaus, and also entrusted his son Pisistratus to sleep with Telemachus and be his traveling companion.

In 1939, at the site of ancient Pylos (Epano Englianos), a two-story palatial complex was found, datable to the last centuries of the Mycenaean period. It was named Palace of Nestor by archaeologist Carl Blegen, who excavated the site with a team from the University of Cincinnati.

In the archive of the palace, about a thousand clay tablets written in Linear B were found. Deciphered, they were able to read the records of the last year of the palace’s existence (none of them related to Nestor or his descendants). Other finds from the same site include frescoes, a large megaron, storage rooms and a terracotta bathtub that evokes the episode of the Odyssey (Odyssey III, 465) in which Polycasta, daughter of Nestor, bathes Telemachus, son of Odysseus. A cellar with remains of pithoi, large Greek vessels, a tholos and a pit tomb discovered in 2015, much older than the palace (ca. 1500 BC), were also found.

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens exhibits a gold cup with two handles, found in circle A of Mycenae, which is known as Nestor’s cup, given its resemblance (although it is much smaller) to the one described in the Iliad (XI, 632). Another cup related to Nestor is the one discovered on the island of Ischia, where the ancient Greek colony of Pitecusas was located, dated to the Geometric Period (around 720 B.C.) On it we read an inscription generally translated as:


  1. Néstor (mitología)
  2. Nestor (mythology)
  3. ^ Dalby, A. (1996) Siren Feasts, London, p. 151, ISBN 0415156572
  4. ^ Dares Phrygius, History of the Fall of Troy 13
  5. Ilíada II, 555.
  6. Odisea 3.451–52.
  7. Biblioteca mitológica 1.9.9.
  8. Homère, Iliade [détail des éditions] [lire en ligne] Chant VII (136-160)
  9. Platon, Phèdre [détail des éditions] [lire en ligne], 261d.
  10. Állandó jelzője Devecseri Gábor fordításában az „édesszavu”.
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