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Who was… Sarpedon?

Content of the article: "Who was… Sarpedon?"

Ah Sarpedon, the one Epic Hero of the starting 8 whose post title is very close to being an actual question. He's a son of Zeus, and while he's not a very prominent character, he's a central figure in 2 of the 24 books that make up the Iliad.

Sarpedon's first mention comes quite early on, where his forces are listed last among the Trojan Battle Order (along with Glaucus who sort of acts as his lieutenant). His next appearance is to angrily chide Hector for letting the Trojan's allies bear the brunt of the fighting, although the allies are only there because they are supporting Rome. Sarpedon's actions, to continue fighting although he isn't happy with the turn of events, contrasts that of Achilles, who sulks in his tent after his argument with Agamemnon. It is also at this point that Sarpedon kills a son of Hercules who is fighting on the Greek side, although he nearly dies himself.

Sarpedon then appears when the Trojans, winning the field, are attacking the Greeks' camp, but are unable to make it past the wall and trench that they have erected. Sarpedon tells Glaucus that they are honor-bound to lead the attack as they are nobles, and that all men are bound to die eventually, so at the very least they can either win glory or make someone else glorious for killing them. They don't manage to breach the wall and Glaucus is wounded (so that speech didn't really amount to anything), as Zeus has decided that it is Hector who should win glory by being the first to breach the wall.

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Sarpedon's final appearance is his death. He is slain by Patroclus when the latter is wearing Achilles's armor. Zeus briefly wonders if he should save his son, but is persuaded not to when Hera points out that if he does so, many of the Gods will also go to save their children who are currently dying in the war. Instead, as a healthy way of grieving, Zeus makes it rain blood, which no one seems to notice. Sarpedon, in his dying breaths, asks Glaucus to make sure the Greeks don't strip his body of his armor otherwise he's going to haunt the shit out of Glaucus, which makes the man rally the Lycians and Trojans to fight over the body. What follows is an extremely bloody fight over the body (which Zeus makes even more vicious), where we get told that it's getting really hard to recognize Sarpedon's corpse, and is similar to the fighting that will later take place over Patroclus's body. Much to Glaucus's dismay, the Greeks eventually win the fight after the courage of Trojans and Lycians fail, and they strip Sarpedon's body of its armor. Don't worry about Glaucus being haunted too much though, he dies in the Trojan War too. Zeus then sends Sleep and Death to recover Sarpedon's body and restore it so he can send it to Lycia, so he gets that at least.

On a note of Sarpedon outside the Iliad; it was later argued over whether or not the Sarpedon in the Trojan War was the brother of Minos (King of Crete 2 generations before the Trojan War) or not. In the Iliad, Sarpedon is noted to be the grandson of Bellerophon (so not the brother of Minos), but later sources said he was the son of Europa (so he is). While in both cases he would be the son of Zeus, by making him the son of Europa, he would need to be unusually long lived to take part in the Trojan War (which some said he had been granted by Zeus). CA seems to have gone with the "brother of Minos" angle, as that Sarpedon was driven out of Crete by Minos (which explains why his Homeric Victory conditions are connected to that island), as well as why he is noticeably older than the other Epic Heroes.

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