Of Phoenix's life before the Trojan War, it is related that he seduced his father's concubine at the instigation of his mother. Having heard about this, Amyntor punished his son by cursing him with infertility. Phoenix fled to Peleus, who in his turn took him to Chiron; the latter restored Phoenix's sight, whereupon Peleus made Phoenix king of the Dolopes. He participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar.
In Homer's Iliad, Phoenix, along with Odysseus and Ajax, urges Achilles to re-enter battle. He gives the most passionate and emotional speech of the three, as evidenced by his crying. Phoenix deeply cares about Achilles, whom he had helped raise as a child: ("So you, Achilles- great godlike Achilles I made you my son, I tried, so someday you might fight disaster off my back. But now, Achilles, beat down your mounting fury! It's wrong to have such an iron, ruthless heart.") It is possible that his speech was a later addition to the epic, as Achilles continually uses a special dual verb form in speaking with his guests, rather than a more appropriate plural form. However, it has been suggested that Achilles speaks only to Phoenix and Ajax, ignoring Odysseus, to whose guile he bears a considerable dislike. ("I hate like the gates of Hades the man who says one thing and holds another in his heart.")
- Homer Iliad
- Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 13. 8
- Tzetzes on Lycophron, 421
- Hyginus, Fabulae, 173
- Ovid, Metamorphoses, 8. 307
- Iliad, 9. 220 ff
- Il. 9. 434 ff
- Il. 9. 492 - 497
- But several scholars believe the speech to be integral; e.g., see S. C. R. Swain, "A Note on Iliad 9.524-99," Classical Quarterly 38 (1988), 271-76.
- Il. 9. 314
- Aeneid, 2. 763-764
- Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca Epitome of Book 4, 6. 12
- Tzetzes on Lycophron, 417
- Strabo, Geography, 9. 4. 14
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