Several poems of the Epic Cycle (especially the Little Iliad and the Nostoi) have a strong interest in the figure of the epigone, as does the Odyssey. Reconstruction of these cyclic epics suggests the operation of narrative conventions that are found to be pointedly inverted in the Homeric poem and thoroughly perverted in the cyclic Telegony.
In Odyssey Book 3, Nestor relates how a quarrel between the Atreidae led to a split of the Achaean army over departure from Troy. This story implies a representation of Agamemnon and Menelaus, their relationship, and their respective political roles, that is not reconcilable with that of the Iliad. I argue that Nestor’s tale reflects a tradition whose influence is visible in later texts, particularly the Cyclic Nostoi and some dramas of Euripides. While the Iliad clearly ignores this tradition, its language betrays some awareness of it; and in a few cases it is arguable that the Iliad alludes indirectly to a very different conception of Menelaus’s political role in the expedition against Troy.