One of the companions of Odysseus, who were metamorphosed by Circe into swine, and afterwards back into men. Intoxicated with wine, Elpenor one day fell asleep on the roof of Circe's residence, and in his attempt to rise he fell down and broke his neck.1 When Odysseus was in the lower world, he met the shade of Elpenor, who implored him to burn his body and to erect a monument to him.2 After his return to the island of Circe, Odysseus complied with this request of his friend.3

Servius4 relates that Elpenor was killed by Odysseus himself for necromantic purposes.


Elpenor was painted by Polygnotus in the Lesche at Delphi.5 On an Attic pelike (ca. 440 BCE; Boston) the encounter between Odysseus and Elpenor's shade is portrayed. Elpenor is slowly climbing the rocks that lead out of the underworld.



  1. Homer. Odyssey x, 550 ff.
  2. ibid. xii, 57.
  3. ibid. xii, 10 ff.; comp. Juvenal, xv, 22; Ovid. Ibis, 487.
  4. on Aeneid vi, 107.
  5. Pausanias. Description of Greece x, 29.


  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.