Nates is wrong when he says The Iliad Book 2’s Catalog of Ships is not interesting.
To wit – below is a chart, of each place name, who the leader(s) are, and how many ships each of them have brought to the shores of Troy.
Harper’s Index – Book 2 of The Iliad.
Total Number of Ships – 1186
Mean Fleet Size – 37.0625
Most Common Fleet Size (mode) – 40
Largest Fleet – 100 – Agamemnon of Mycenae – “with whom followed far the best and bravest people… he was the greatest among them all, and led the most people (Lattimore Translation, II.576-580)
Smallest Fleet – 3 – Nireus of Syme – “but he was a man of poor strength and few people with him” (II.675)
Ships not Participating in the Initial Fighting on account of the rage of their leader – 50, led by Achilles of Pelasgian Argos
Surprisingly Small Fleet Size – 12 – both Odysseus (probably the most well known of the Greek leaders) and the “Greater” Ajax, described elsewhere as the second greatest warrior after Achilles.
Fleet Size Limited Presumably on Account of Injury – 7 – The Thaumakians, formerly led by Philoktetus (“yet he himself lay apart in the island [Lemnos], suffering strong pains” (II.721) – instead, Medon stands in charge
Most Bureaucratically Complicated Fleet – Rhodes (9 shipts), led by Tlepolemos, in “triple division” (II.655)
Second Most Bureaucratically Complicated Fleet – Bouprasion, (40 ships) but led by four different chieftains, each specifically in charge of 10 ships (II.615-624)
Actually, this part of the text is interesting for what it reminds us about the demographics and geography of the Greek fleet. The largest delegations are from the strongholds of the Mycenaean age – Mycenae (100), Pylos (90), and Crete (80). The forces from Athens and Sparta are only 50 and 60, respectively. There are also fascinating set-piece mini-narratives of nearly every leader, where they came from, who bore them, what notable skills they had, and so on. It’s easy on first reading for all of these things to blend together as formulaic and similar, but if you look closer, you find little things that actually distinguish the forces. I’d be interested to see a map that plotted where they were each from.
Here’s the compiled data from which I extracted the statistics above:
|Leader 1||Leader 2||Ships|