Nestor was an Argonaut, helped fight the centaurs, and participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. He and his sons Antilochus and Thrasymedes fought on the side of the Achaeans in the Trojan War. Though Nestor was already very old when the war began, he was noted for his wisdom, bravery and speaking abilities. In the Iliad he often gives advice to the younger warriors, and advises Agamemnon and Achilles to reconcile. He is too old to engage in combat himself, but he leads the Pylian troops, riding his chariot, and one of his horses is killed by an arrow shot by Paris. He also had a solid gold shield. Homer frequently calls him by the epithet "the Gerenian horseman." At the funeral games of Patroclus Nestor advises Antilochus on how to win the chariot race. Antilochus was later killed in battle by Memnon.
Although Homer clearly intends his readers to perceive Nestor as an "elder statesman"-type figure worthy of respect, there are occasional flashes of humor at Nestor's expense in the Iliad, as any advice he gives to the other combatants typically serves as a pretext for his first providing his listeners with a garrulous, long-winded exposition of his own past glorious feats in similar circumstances. Homer never actually calls Nestor a bore, but the reader is left with the impression that Homer considers him a bore nonetheless.
In the Odyssey, Nestor has safely returned to Pylos, and Odysseus's son Telemachus travels there to inquire about the fate of his father. Nestor receives Telemachus kindly and entertains him lavishly as a guest, but is unable to furnish any information on his father's fate. Nestor's wife Eurydice and their remaining living sons appear in the Odyssey as well—Echephron, Stratius, Perseus, Aretus, Thrasymedes, and Pisistratus. They also had a daughter, Polycaste. Here too, Homer's admiration of Nestor is tempered by a bit of humor at his expense, as Telemachus, having returned to Nestor's home from a visit to Helen of Troy and Menelaus (where he has sought further information on his father's fate), urges Pisistratus to let Telemachus board his vessel immediately to return home rather than being subjected to a further dose of Nestor's rather expansive sense of hospitality.
- Iliad I, 248; II, 370; IV, 293.
- Odyssey III, 157, 343.