In ancient Greek literature, an eidolon (plural: eidola) (Greek εἴδωλον: "image, idol, double, apparition, phantom, ghost") is a spirit-image of a living or dead person; a shade or phantom look-alike of the human form. The concept of Helen of Troy's eidolon was explored both by Homer and Euripides. However, where Homer uses the concept as a free-standing idea which gives Helen life after death, Euripides entangles it with the idea of kleos, one being the product of the other. Both Euripides and Stesichorus, in their respective works concerning the Trojan War, claim that Helen was never physically present in the city at all.
The concept of the eidolons of the dead was explored in various literature regarding Penelope, who in later works was constantly laboring against the eidolons of Clytamnestra and later Helen herself.
In popular culture
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- In the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, a summoner begins play with the ability to summon to his side a powerful outsider called an eidolon. The eidolon forms a link with the summoner, who, forever after, summons an aspect of the same creature. An eidolon has the same alignment as the summoner that calls it and can speak all of his languages.
- In The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan, three eidolons appear as antagonists. They possess Leo Valdez into starting a war among Romans and Greeks. Then they possess Percy Jackson and Jason Grace into trying to kill each other. At the novel's climax, the three eidolons try to kill Valdez, Frank Zhang, and Hazel Levesque. Their former victim, Valdez, saves Zhang and Levesque by defeating the eidolons, through his mechanical knowledge and the help of the goddess Nemesis.
- In the Warhammer 40k Universe, Commander Eidolon is the First Captain of the Emperor's Children Astartes Legion.
- In the Magic: the Gathering plane of Theros, an eidolon is a spirit created when the soul of a dead person separates from its body.
- In the multiplayer online battle arena video game Dota 2, the hero Enigma conjures minions called Eidolons with his spell Demonic Conversion.
- In Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, the main protagonist is a 16 year old girl whose father was an eidolon.
- In the 2000 video game Final Fantasy IX and the 2010 video game Final Fantasy XIII, players are able to summon entities called Eidolons to assist in battles.
- In the 2012 video game Borderlands 2's sixth expansion pack, there are undead enemies whose name's start with Eidolon.
- Holmberg, Ingrid E. (Spring, 1995). "Euripides' Helen: Most Noble and Most Chaste". The American Journal of Philology (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 116 (1): 19–42. JSTOR 295501.
- Meltzer, Gary S. (Oct. 1994). "Where Is the Glory of Troy?" "Kleos" in Euripides' "Helen" 13 (2). University of California Press. pp. 234–255. JSTOR 25011015.
- Papi, Donatella Galeotti (1987). "Victors and Sufferers in Euripides' Helen". The American Journal of Philology (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 108 (1): 27–40. JSTOR 294912.
- Barasch, Moshe (2005). "The Departing Soul. The Long Life of a Medieval Creation". Artibus et Historiae (IRSA s.c.) 26 (52): 13–28. JSTOR 20067095.
- Carpenter, Frederic I. (Mar., 1942). "Walt Whitman's "Eidolon"". College English (National Council of Teachers of English) 3 (6): 534–545. JSTOR 370944.
- http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etgloss/etg-hp.htm ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY: A Resource on Theosophy, G. de Purucker
http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advanced/baseClasses/summoner.html Pathfinder Reference Document