Homer: Odyssey: Books I and II 0856684694, 9780856684692

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Homer: Odyssey: Books I and II
 0856684694, 9780856684692

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HOMER Odyssey 1 & 2

P>V. Jones

HOMER The Odyssey 1 & 2

With an Introduction, Translation and Commentary by

Peter Jones

1 2 AU6 1936 Aris & Phillips Ltd - Warminster - England

Φ Peter Jones 1991. A l l rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means or in any form including photocopying without the prior permission of the publishers in writing. Φ Greek Text Oxford University Press 1917.

Reproduced with the permission of the

publishers British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Homer Odyssey books 1 & 2. - (Classical texts ISSN 0953-7691) 1. Greek Poetry I. Title IT. Jones. Peter V . (Peter Vaughan, 1942 - ) ΙΠ. Series 8S1.1 I S B N s 085668








Published by A r i s & P h i l l i p s L t d . , Teddington B A 1 2 8 P Q , England Printed by Biddies L t d , G u i l d f o r d , Surrey.

House, Warminster, Wiltshire





Introduction #1. S o m e d e f i n i t i o n s a n d a s s u m p t i o n s #2. T h e t e m p o r a l o r g a n i s a t i o n o f the p o e m #3. T h e c o n d i t i o n s o f o r a l p e r f o r m a n c e ^#4. H o m e r a n d h i s w o r l d #5. H o m e r a n d h i s t o r y #6. A s c e n e - b y - s c e n e a n a l y s i s o f B o o k s 1 a n d 2 o f the Odyssey #7. B a s i c i n f o r m a t i o n n e e d e d for s c a n n i n g the H o m e r i c h e x a m e t e r #8. T h e text Basic Homeric Grammar

T e x t a n d t r a n s l a t i o n o f the Odyssey

1 1 4 11 15 17 23 24 25

1 and 2






PREFACE T h i s edition is primarily intended for students. The addition o f grammatical and dialectical help in place o f an a p p a r a t u s c r i t i c u s at the bottom o f the page w i l l make it especially helpful to those w h o are not familiar with H o m e r i c Greek. T h e commentary was written in the shadow o f the superb work o f Stephanie W e s t i n the C l a r e n d o n edition (see b i b l i o g r a p h y ) , w i t h the editions o f W B Stanford and D B M o n r o never far from m y side. I owe particular thanks to D r R D D a w e ( T r i n i t y C o l l e g e , C a m b r i d g e ) for putting the translation right in a large number o f places and to the G e n e r a l E d i t o r , Professor M M W i l l c o c k ( U n i v e r s i t y C o l l e g e , L o n d o n ) , for his saint-like patience in submitting the rest o f the manuscript to an intensive scrutiny that it badly needed. M y best thanks too to m y colleagues i n the Department o f C l a s s i c s - e s p e c i a l l y Jonathan P o w e l l , T r e v o r Saunders, Janet Watson and D a v i d W e s t - who bore m y cries for help w i t h their accustomed equanimity. A sabbatical term ( M i c h a e l m a s 1990) ensured the completion o f the book. Peter Jones Department o f Classics University o f Newcastle upon Tyne NE17RU January 1991


ABBREVIATIONS acc. A c sen. ,AJPh act aor. Ap. Rh. CA CB CPh CSCA CQ dat Eur. f. fut. GB gen. Geog. GR ~ GRBS Herod Hes. HH HSCP

accusative Aeschylus American Journal of Philology active aorist Apollonius Rhodius Argonautica Classical Antiquity Classical Bulletin Classical Philology C a l i f o r n i a Studies in Classical Antiquity Classical Quarterly dative Euripides feminine future Grazer Beitrage genitive The G e o g r a p h y of S t r a b o Greece and Rome Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies Herodotus Hesiod T h ( T h e o g o n y ) , W D (Works a n d Days) Homeric Hymns H a r v a r d Studies i n Classical Ptiilology

//. imperat. impf. indie. infin. intrans. L C M JHS m. mid. n. nom. Od. opt. part. pass. perf. pi. plupf. pres. s. Soph. subjunc. ΤΑΡΑ


Iliad imperative imperfect indictive infinitive intransitive Liverpool Classical Monthly Journal of Hellenic Studies masculine middle neuter nominative Odyssey optative participle passive perfect plural pluperfect present singular Sophocles subjunctive Transactions o f the American Philological Association Thucydides


INTRODUCTION N o t e : a l l dates


a r e B C unless

otherwise indicated.

Some definitions and assumptions

o i k o s (pi. o i k o i ) means 'household' (house, inhabitants and land). p o l l s (pi. p o l e i s ) means 'city-state', the politically independent city - often i n early times s i m p l y a cluster o f villages surrounded by a defensive w a l l w i t h its tract o f adjacent countryside, from w h i c h it was not p o l i t i c a l l y differentiated. T h i s seems to be an 8thC development in the Greek w o r l d . a o i d o s means 'singer', 'oral poet'. xenos (pi. x e n o i ) means 'stranger/guest/host-ally' (see #4(c)). B y 'Mycenaean age' I mean the Greek w o r l d between 1600-1200, a bronze age, when the mainland was dominated by the great palaces o f e.g. M y c e n a e and P y l u s . It was also an age w h i c h knew writing in the form o f "Linear B \ a script used to record palace economic transactions. It was towards the end o f this period that the Trojan war may have occurred. B y 'dark age' I mean the Greek w o r l d between 1200 and 900, when the palace culture was destroyed, the art o f writing lost, many Greeks migrated to the coastal region o f western T u r k e y (known as 'Ionia' to later Greeks), and the use o f iron gradually replaced that o f bronze. The Greek w o r l d was not uniformly 'dark' at this time, however. Excavations at L e f k a n d i in Euboea, for e x a m p l e , have revealed an impressive heroic shrine or residential complex, with graves filled with goods o f eastern origin, dateable to c.1000. T h e f o l l o w i n g three hundred years (900-600) laid the foundations o f the Greeks' greatest p o l i t i c a l , intellectual and artistic achievements, i n c l u d i n g the foundation o f democracy on the back o f the p^fo-system. It w as a period of p o p u l a t i o n g r o w t h , popular leaders ( k n o w n m i s l e a d i n g l y as 'tyrants'), developing p o l e i s , colonisation, especially to the coast o f western T u r k e y , and re-development o f old trade contacts in Egypt, Cyprus and so on. I shall assume that the poet o f the Odyssey ( O d . hereafter) was a man called H o m e r ; that he was responsible for most o f the poem as we have it today; that he l i v e d towards the end o f the 8thC either on the coast o f western T u r k e y or on one o f the offshore islands; that he knew, and may w e l l have also composed, an earlier epic the I l i a d (II. hereafter); that his works are earlier than those o f Hesiod (Hes.) and the composers of the H o m e r i c H y m n s ( H H ) ; and that while he may have k n o w n writing, he was primarily an oral poet ( M o r r i s (1986) goes over this ground w e l l ; Hainsworth (1991) 1-45 surveys the field of generic and Homeric epic magisterially). f


The temporal organisation of the poem

T h e Trojan war began when Paris, son o f the Trojan king P r i a m , took back to T r o y the beautiful H e l e n , wife o f the Greek k i n g M e n e l a u s . U n d e r the

INTRODUCTION leadership o f M e n c l a u s ' brother A g a m e m n o n , the G r e e k s gathered an expedition to get her back. O d y s s e u s was o n l y reluctantly persuaded to leave his wife P e n e l o p e and n e w l y - b o r n son T e l c m a c h u s and j o i n it ( 2 4 . 1 1 5 - 9 ) , w i t h a contingent o f troops from the region o f his home island Ithaca (//. 2 . 6 3 1 - 7 ) . A f t e r ten years T r o y was taken and destroyed, and the G r e e k s returned home. O d y s s e u s , h o w e v e r , after three years o f adventures on l a n d and sea with monsters, witches and assortments o f sub- and super-humans, was entrapped by the demi-goddess C a l y p s o and held on her island for seven years. It was only in the twentieth year after l e a v i n g Ithaca for T r o y that the gods ordered his release and he was able to return to his home island. N o w H o m e r is famous for p l u n g i n g his audience 'into the m i d d l e o f the story' ( i n medias r e s H o r a c e , A r s P o e t i c a 148). In this case, however, he plunges it into the end. F o r he begins his O d . not at the point w h e n Odysseus first left T r o y to return home (after ten years' absence), but at the point when Odysseus was about actually to arrive; and he locates the action not w i t h Odysseus on his travels, but i n Ithaca, with Odysseus' n o w twenty-year o l d son Telemachus in despair at the i n c u r s i o n into the h o u s e h o l d o f 108 suitors from Ithaca and elsewhere w h o , c o n v i n c e d Odysseus is dead, are s l o w l y c o n s u m i n g Odysseus' substance w h i l e they wait for Penelope to make up her m i n d to marry one o f them. y

C l a y (1976) argues that the decision is forced on H o m e r . T h e reason she gives is that it was a traditional part o f the myth o f the heroes' returns from T r o y that Athena, angered because the lesser Ajax had desecrated her shrine (see on 1.327), had set out to take revenge on the Greek fleet. B u t A t h e n a is the patron goddess of Odysseus. It w o u l d be absurd for her to be seen to destroy her great favourite and hero o f the O d . . S o H o m e r tries to a v o i d the issue by m a k i n g Odysseus' travels a first-person narrative told by Odysseus h i m s e l f to the Phaeacians w e l l after the event ( B o o k s 9-12). S i n c e humans can never k n o w w h i c h g o d is c a u s i n g them trouble ( C l a y (1983) 2 1 ) , the poet can sweep the question o f Athena's responsibility under the carpet. C l a y ' s argument is certainly p l a u s i b l e , though not irresistible. H o m e r still rather o d d l y mentions Athena's wrath against the fleet (5.108-9); and H o m e r seems to have taken a different route out o f the problem a n y w a y , by laying the b l a m e for Odysseus' troubles at sea on P o s e i d o n and H e l i o s the sun god (see 9.528-36, 12.374-90). It is equally possible that H o m e r had a quite different motivation for beginning at the end. AristoUe tells us that H o m e r was superior to all other epic poets because he c e n u e d the story round a 'single action' ( μ ί α π ρ ο Γ ξ ι $ 0 , s e l e c t i n g o n l y those i n c i d e n t s w h i c h made the other incidents 'necessary or p r o b a b l e ' ( P o e t i c s , 1451a). In this w a y H o m e r a v o i d e d the m o n o t o n y o f those poets w h o s i m p l y recited One damn thing after another', w h i c h is rather the impression g i v e n , for e x a m p l e , by the ' C y c l i c ' poets (sec D a v i e s (1989)). If this is right, H o m e r chose to begin at the end because that focussed attention on the most important 'single action' o f the whole story, the moment when Odysseus relumed.



That decision, however H o m e r reached it, shapes the plot o f the O d . . It is worth summarising the advantages and difficulties it brings in its train (Jones (1988a) 18-19). B y b e g i n n i n g i n Ithaca, H o m e r can paint the situation to w h i c h Odysseus is returning and illustrate why his return is so desperately needed. W e can get some sense o f the despair o f Penelope, the plight o f Telemachus, the ruthlessness o f the suitors and the loyalty o f the few like E u r y c l e i a . There are advantages too i n putting Odysseus' travels after T r o y into flashback. Odysseus can be made to tell them himself (as he does in B o o k s 9-12), turning them into a first-person narrative. T h i s tells us m u c h about the hero, deepens his characterisation and brings the distant past v i v i d l y into the present as we re-live with Odysseus his o w n adventures in his o w n words. A n d the poet can skirt round the problem o f Athena's destruction of the fleet (see above). But there are problems too. Odysseus has been away for twenty years. W e cannot s i m p l y leave that period o f time in a vacuum. W h a t has been g o i n g on in Ithaca during it? H o w has the present situation arisen? H o m e r is at pains to weave into his Ithacan narrative memories o f and reflections on Ithaca both when Odysseus was last there and in the intervening years of his absence (see on 1.210). T h e poet w i l l also have to consider h o w he is to handle the character o f T e l e m a c h u s . If he is not man enough yet to take on the suitors, h o w can H o m e r convince us that he w i l l turn out to be a young man worthy o f his great father? B u t i f he takes too much o f the limelight, w i l l he not cast Odysseus into the shadow? H o m e r cleverly makes the growing-up o f Telemachus an issue of the O d . - indeed, t h e issue o f the early books - and raises the question i n our and the young man's m i n d : is the son o f Odysseus worthy o f his father? (See on 1.95). G i v e n that H o m e r solves these problems with such b r i l l i a n c e , it is interesting that he has nothing to say about the most significant thing to have happened in Ithaca during Odysseus' absence - the moment when the suitors decided to 'set up house' in Odysseus' o i k o s (see on 1.91). T h i s shaping o f die Odyssey is going to create even greater problems for H o m e r later o n . T h e reason is that the t e m p o r a l organisation o f the story has l o c a t i o n a l implications too. F o r i f we stait with Telemachus in Ithaca, we have at some stage to turn to Odysseus marooned on his desert island with C a l y p s o , and then bring him back home: the sequence w i l l be Ithaca - Odysseus - Ithaca. B u t the poet makes it more complex than that. F o r Telemachus, rebuffed in his efforts to eject the suitors in B o o k 2, sets out on a journey to visit and question Odysseus' o l d friends from the Trojan W a r , Nestor i n P y l u s ( B o o k 3) and Menelaus in Sparta (Book 4). A n d it is at that point that H o m e r chooses to cut briefly back to Ithaca, where we observe Penelope's distress at finding her son gone, before m o v i n g on to Odysseus on Calypso's island, at the start o f B o o k 5. Consequently the poet n o w has to interlink not two but t h r e e locations when, from B o o k 13, he brings Odysseus back from his travels - Odysseus returning from S c h e r i a where he has been staying with his temporary hosts the



Phaeacians, Telemachus returning from Sparta, and Ithaca. with great s k i l l , as follows:

He achieves this

B o o k 13: Odysseus is returned to Ithaca by the Phaeacians, is met by Athena, given a summary o f the situation and disguised as a beggar. B o o k 14: on Athena's instructions, Odysseus lodges out i n the country with the faithful swineherd Eumaeus. B o o k 15: prompted by Athena, Telemachus sets o f f from Sparta and arrives back in Ithaca. B o o k 16: again as ordered by Athena, Telemachus goes to Eumaeus' hut, and in Eumaeus' temporary absence is re-united with Odysseus. B o o k 17: Telemachus sets off for town, f o l l o w e d some time later by Eumaeus and Odysseus. They link up in Odysseus' suitor-infested o i k o s , where the action is located for the rest o f the poem up till the time w h e n Odysseus takes his revenge upon the interlopers (see A p t h o r p (1980a) on a l l this).


The conditions of oral performance

If it does not strike a modern r e a d e r o f the O d . that the organisation o f the poem in the way described above is especially demanding, that may be because it is easy to forget that H o m e r composed the O d . for o r a l recitation, before a largely illiterate l i s t e n i n g audience. The evidence for this, w h i c h I do not intend to rehearse, is carried p r i m a r i l y i n A Parry (1971), whose father M i l m a n Parry has the credit for establishing the oral nature o f H o m e r i c epic. M i l m a n Parry's work, carried out in the 1920s and 30's before his tragically early death, has since been much refined, and it is now clear that (i) 'orality' does not preclude either the writing, rehearsal or straight memorisation o f portions o f the story to be told, as Parry seemed to think it d i d , and (ii) the restrictions placed upon the poet's capacity to improvise verses are not as severe as Parry proposed. T h e result of this has been a better appreciation o f both the mechanics and the subtleties of Homeric verse composition. (a) Composing by formulas Any new reader of Homer is struck by the number o f his repetitions, especially of a personal name (Telemachus') + fixed epithet ('perceptive'), o f whole actionlines ( T h e n perceptive Telemachus spoke in reply to her'), or indeed o f whole scenes (see the notes on the scenes of reception and feasting at 1.102, 1.136-50). Such repetitions are an essential feature o f the oral poet's technique. T h e y provide him with a range of flexible expressions ready-made for adaptation into his verse. For the purpose o f effective c o m p o s i t i o n , however, it is the s m a l l phrases that are crucial, and it was M i l m a n Parry w h o first e x a m i n e d these 'formulas', or repeated word-groups, in d e t a i l . H i s w o r k has since been developed further, especially by Hockstra (1964), H a i n s w o r t h (1968), N a g l c r (1974) and perhaps most radically by Shive (1987). B r i e f l y , the system works as follows:



T h e poet composes in hexameter ( ' s i x - f o o l ) verse ('epic' derives from Greek epos, 'verse'). E a c h foot is either a dactyl, in which the syllables must scan long-short-short ( ~ ) , or a spondee, in which each syllable must scan longlong (" ~), though at the end o f the line it is a l l o w e d to scan long-short (" ~). Rules for scansion arc given in #7. The pattern of the full H o m e r i c hexameter is as follows: 2nd 4th 3rd 1st 5th 6th w







(-"} Thus the first two lines o f the O d . scan as follows: andra m o i I ennepe I M o u s a pollutropon I hos mafai polfa M a n to-me tell M u s e of-many-moves who very much plangkhthe eplei Troiles fiierlon ptofilethrbn eplerse. was-driven when Troy's holy citadel he-sacked. Observe that the first line consists of (dactyls) in the first five feet, w h i l e the second line has dactyls in feet 1, 3, 4 and 5, b u t " " (spondee) in foot 2. N o w it is clear that the verse-pattern is far too complex for anyone to be able to i m p r o v i s e hexameters orally, on the spot, and expect to keep g o i n g for the duration o f the O d . (over 12,000 verses). T h i s is where the formulas, or repeated word-groups, come in. For example, Parry (1971) 302-4 analysed these opening lines o f the O d . and showed how deeply repetitive, or 'formulaic', they were: m o i ennepe M o u s a , p o l u t r o p o n hos, m a l a p o l i a , and T r o i e s h i e r o n p t o l i e t h r o n are a l l repeated elsewhere, and he went on to show how the first 25 lines o f the O d . contained no fewer than 34 directly repeated word-groups, while most o f what was not directly repeated could still be shown to be very closely paralleled elsewhere. Parry argued that this system demonstrated almost perfect 'scope' and 'economy'. B y 'scope' he meant that, no matter what the metrical gap in the line available to die poet, there was a formula which would fit it; by 'economy', that there was only one such formula per metrical shape. For example, i f the poet wants to talk about a 'ship' in the dative singular case ( n e t ) , he has the following epithets available to h i m to describe it: g l a p h u r e i ('smooth'), eusselmoi ('well-benched'), t h o e i ('swift'), k o i l e i ('hollow'), megakeut ('big-bellied'), m e l a i n e i ('black ). p o l u z u g o i ('many-benched'), p o l u k l e i d l ('many-oared'). There is great 'scope' here - many epithets, which taken together can fill almost any metrical gaps in the line - but since no epithet scans the same as any other, the system also illustrates keen 'economy': only one epithet for any one metrical gap. The point from which Parry started to think about diction and metre in H o m e r gives a clear picture o f the system at work. Take Zeus, in the nominative case, at the end o f the hexameter. Here are the possibilities available to the poet: 1. K r o n i o n son o f Cronus'



2. m7uha_Zeus 'cunning Zeus' 3. euruopaZeus^wide-seeing Zeus' 4. n e p l i e i c g e r e i a Zeus 'cloud-gathering Zeus' 5. Zeus t c r p i k e r a u n d s 'Zeus delighting in thunderbolts' 6. p a t e r a n d r o n te t t i e o n te 'father of men and gods' 7. O l u m p l o s asteropetes O l y m p i a n lightning-thrower' Observe again the principles o f 'scope' - many slots i n the metre can be filled and 'economy' - only one formula per slot. N o t e that 2. and 3. d o scan the same, but 3. begins with a vowel and w i l l therefore a l l o w elision o f a preceding vowel, whereas 2. w i l l not. The two formulas therefore are not interchangeable. The same applies to the opening foot o f 6. and 7. In the case o f 4. and 5, 4. begins with a single consonant, 5. with a double consonant (Z=sd). These w i l l affect differendy any preceding syllable. Further characteristics of epic verse have been observed w h i c h can also be tied in with oral-formulaic theory: 1. 'Enjambement' occurs when sentence and verse end do n o t c o i n c i d e (i.e. the sentence runs over into the next verse). In only about 2 5 % o f H o m e r i c verse is it the case that enjambement must occur in order for the sense to be complete (see Higbie (1990)). Thus, in the opening ten lines o f the O d . , 'necessary' enjambement occurs only at the end of line 1 and line 7. 2. The first half of the line tends to be more metrically and formulaically fluid than the second half, and certain patterns o f d a c t y l ( D ) and spondee (S) distribution predominate. T h u s o f the 32 p o s s i b l e patterns, D D D D D S , D S D D D S and S D D D D S account for nearly 5 0 % of H o m e r i c verse. 3. Formulas tend to begin and end at c o m m o n caesura (word-break) points in the line. Thus 99% of Homeric verse has a word-break in the third foot, either at " T~ ~ or This is a very common place for formulas to begin or end. ( O n points 2. and 3. above, see the very clear analysis and d i s c u s s i o n in F o l e y (1990) 63-84). A close study of Homer's diction makes it p l a i n that m u c h o f it can be understood by Parry's hypothesis. There is a system at w o r k here, whose complexity can be explained only by assuming it has been d e v e l o p i n g over hundreds of years (see Hoekstra (1989) 151 ff. for the linguistic evidence that Homeric diction must originally have been Mycenaean). It is this system w h i c h the budding oral poet has to learn and assimilate before he can recite. T h e system acLs as a powerful preservative too, embedding phrases into the diction whose precise meaning may be lost over the centuries but w h o s e sheer usefulness makes them indispensable. Thus the poet uses the formula nuktos a m o l g o i at the end of the line to mean something l i k e 'at the dead o f night', but what a m o l g o i precisely means Greeks knew no more than we. In other words, obsolescence is built into the system. Everyday language can change: formular language c a n n o t . If the system embeds phrases, it must also embed places and artifacts. A t 4.618 Homer refers to Sidon. T h i s must be a M y c e n a e a n memory, since it was unknown to 8thC Greeks. A g a i n , while H o m e r lives in the 8thC



iron age, his heroes manipulate weapons and armour o f bronze - the metal of the 13thC. Some sense o f the extraordinary melting-pot of H o m e r i c diction can be gleaned from the range o f different dialects it has embraced to generate metrically appropriate forms. Thus genitive singulars end in - o u or - o i o , the Greek for 'to us' is h Z m i n or a m m i , dative plurals end in -si or -essi, infinitives in -em or - m e n a i , all according to nothing other than metrical need. T h i s brings with it a famous p r o b l e m : i f the poet uses certain epithets or phrases because t h e m e t r e demands t h e m , can they have any 'literary' value? That said, it is also clear that the system is m u c h more fluid than Parry had originally envisaged. Hainsworth (1968) shows that Parry's model o f H o m e r i c diction is s i m p l y not able to account for the full range of produced verse as we have it, and proposes a more flexible model, in which word-groups are permitted to expand, contract and reposition themselves according to need with almost infinite variety. Observe the dexterity o f the poet's re-working o f the idea 'his knees ( g u i a , g o u n a t a ) were undone (/w-, l e l u - y (i.e. he collapsed): l u n t o de g u i a 'and ( d e ) his-knees were-undone' l u s e d e g i u a and he-undid his-knees' l u t o g o u n a t ( a ) _ ' h i s - k n c Q S were-undone' p f u l a g w a l e l u n t a ^ 'his-dear knees have-been-undone' h u p o _ g u i a l e l u n t a i ^ underneath his-knees have-been-undone' l u t h e n d ' h u p o g u i a hekastes 'and ( d ' ) underneath the-knees of-each-woman were _ undone' _ _ l e h m t o de g w a hekastou 'and the-knees of-each-man were-undone' l u t h e n c H w p o p h a i d l m a g u i a 'and underneath the-shining knees were-undone' l u t o g o u n a t a k a i p t u l o n I t o r 'his-knees were-undone and his-dear heart'. M o r e radically still, S h i v e (1987) shows that Parry's law o f scope and economy does not w o r k even for the proper-name + epithet combinations ('perceptive Telemachus', etc.), the foundation on w h i c h a l l o f Parry's subsequent w o r k was built (and cf. A u s t i n (1975) 1-80). If S h i v e is right, the implications c o u l d be serious. It is need that underpins the system: without a system, the oral poet cannot recite. B u t i f there is no system, or i f the system is s h o w n to be seriously deficient where it is apparently at its strongest, it may be proper to conclude that the poems are less oral i n nature than we had suspected, and that writing played a considerable part in their production. It is worth remembering here that Parry h i m s e l f never argued that the formulaic system p r o v e d that H o m e r was an oral poet: what it d i d demonstrate was that the H o m e r i c poems were t y p i c a l o f oral poetry. Shive's thesis forces us now to ask P r e c i s e l y how typical?' S h i v e cannot be- said to have destroyed Parry's w o r k completely, but he has created the need for a yet further modification o f it. (b) M a k i n g t h e story A r m e d with technique, what could the poet sing a b o u t ! The subject of epic was the heroic past, and we k n o w o f epics about Zeus's attack on his father Cronus and the Titans (a Titanomachy), Oedipus ( O e d i p o d e i a ) the Seven against Thebes y



( T i i e b a i s ) , Paris, Helen and the start o f the Trojan W a r ( C y p r i a ) the deaths of Penthcsilea, M e m n o n , and A c h i l l e s at the end o f the Trojan war ( A e t h i o p i s ) , further Troy stories ( L i t t l e I l i a d ) , a Sack o f T r o y and various R e t u r n s o f H e r o e s after the Trojan War, including a Telegony (what Odysseus did after he had killed the suitors). It is noticeable that none of the Troy epics deals with the subjectmatter of the //. or O d . . It is generally assumed that they were composed after the Homeric epics, to 'fill in the gaps' left by H o m e r (see D a v i c s (1989); the summaries and fragments of the epics mentioned above arc to be found in Evel>ii-Whitc(1936)). y

Let us imagine Homer deciding to sing an O d . . O n e point needs immediate emphasis. Both the //. and O d . are far larger than any other epics we k n o w of from ancient times (Griffin (1977)). They are special efforts, requiring special circumstances both for their composition and recitation. M o r e w i l l be said of this later, but it is possible to sec how H o m e r sets about p r o d u c i n g such a mighty work. First, the story of Telemachus in B o o k s 1-4 is easy to expand. In our version he visits and has long conversations with both Nestor and Menelaus, and it is possible that he visited other heroes too i n other versions (see note on 1.93). Odysseus' adventures at sea in B o o k 5 double-up disaster after disaster (Fenik (1974) 143-4), and in B o o k 8 the Phaeacian entertainment combines an ordered sequence of songs and games that strongly suggests controllable expansion - rather like the repeated tales that the beggar-Odysseus tells strangers and hosts when he finally returns home in B o o k s 13ff., and the sequence of attacks on his person from B o o k s 17-21 (see F e n i k (1974) 180-2). In other words, this poet is a master o f the repeated incident, duly varied for effect. Repeated characters are also c o m m o n : there are two faithful herders (Eumaeus and Philoetius), two faithful servants o f Penelope ( E u r y c l e i a and Eurynomc), two abusive servants (Melanthius and M e l a n t h o ) , and two leading suitors (Antinous and Eurymachus) (Fenik (1974) 172-207). The poet also introduces material from other epic stories. T h e tale o f Odysseus' bow looks suspiciously like one o f these (see on 1.262), and some o f his adventures in Books 9-12 have been re-worked from the story o f Jason and the Argonauts. The tale of Orestes acts as an important paradigm o f behaviour for the young Telemachus and is often referred to in the early books (it forms the centre-piece of the divine debate with which the O d . opens). Throughout his poem, the poet exploits to the full the resources that every epic story-teller has at his disposal. E p i c s are full o f battles, j o u r n e y s , arrivals, departures by land, sea and air (in the case of divinities), meetings in c o u n c i l , messages, encounters between heroes, omens, d i v i n e interventions, meals, and so on, and every poet developed his o w n method for h a n d l i n g them, both as individual episodes and as sequences (Lord (1960) 68-98, B o w r a (1952) 254-98). The poet of the O d . puts particular stress on the way in w h i c h strangers are treated by hosts ( x e n i a , see #4(c)) and such scenes o f x e n i a are not only frequently repeated but are superbly elaborated as the poet explores the different ways in which humans, monsters and divinities interact. The action o f about



one-fifth o f the O d . is located in the context o f a meal (see o n 1.136-50: virtually the w h o l e o f B o o k 1 is an example), and journeys by sea are also frequent. Here the t y p i c a l scene comes into play, a traditional method o f portraying frequently repeated, often rather technical, episodes, characterised by rcpetitiveness and tightness o f structure (see on e.g. 1.102, 2.3-13, 377, 389). (c) T e l l i n g t h e story V i r t u a l l y the only evidence that survives from the ancient world about what an epic performance was l i k e c o m e s from the O d . itself. T h e bard P h e m i u s ( a o i d o s , 'singer' in Greek) in Odysseus' o i k o s in Ithaca and the blind Demodocus at the Phaeacian court o f K i n g A l c i n o u s on Scheria are both described at work, Phemius i n B o o k 1, D e m o d o c u s in B o o k 8. T h e f o l l o w i n g points about their performance are relevant: 1. T h e setting is an o i k o s banquet with an audience o f listening nobles (4.15¬ 19), though the 'whole people' c o u l d also be present at such an event (9.3-10), and cf. Eumaeus on the bard as worker in the community at 17.382-6. The bard in the O d . is a p u b l i c performer and a professional, cf. the / / . , where only the b l i n d T h a m y r i s (2.595-6) seems an expert among the amateurs like Paris (3.54) and A c h i l l e s (9.196-9). T h e O d . does not make h i m out to be a person o f particularly high social status. 2. T h e bard p i c k s up the story at any point he chooses (8.499-501): he selects from a wide range o f material what is most appropriate for the occasion. 3. T h e bard a c c o m p a n i e s h i m s e l f on a stringed instrument (1.153, 8.62ff, 266ff.,499ff.). 4. T h e songs are brief. 5. T h e subject is the famous deeds o f heroes, especially their sufferings (1.336¬ 42, 24.196-201). 6. N e w songs are popular (1.351-2). 7. H i s function is to charm and b e w i t c h the listeners. Sometimes he reduces them to tears (1.336-42, 8.521-31, 17.518-21). 8. The god helps the bard by p r o v i d i n g h i m with the subject-matter for stories (8.43-5, 22.347-8). But important as this information is, it does not help us to determine the context in w h i c h poems o f the size o f the O d . could be recited, let alone the motive H o m e r may have had for composing at such length (especially since the poems sung by Phemius and Demodocus are fairly brief). True, the O d . splits up neatly into six four-book sections (the recitation units?), but the p o e m is obviously designed as a unity, to be appreciated whole, and w o u l d have taken at least 25 hours to recite. R e l i g i o u s festivals offer one possibility (cf. H H t o A p o l l o , especially 169-70); K i r k (1962) 274ff suggests more popular settings (inns, fairs); the O d . itself points to after-dinner recitation p r i m a r i l y before the nobility. T h i s last option is surely attractive. The patronage o f a wealthy lord w o u l d offer the bard leisure in w h i c h to develop and refine a story o f the Od.'s o b v i o u s length and c o m p l e x i t y , and a permanent, aristocratic after-dinner

INTRODUCTION . v . v ; c v c vNu n.b. °.c>) before w h o m this new style o f extended epic could be ; o;vd 0 - - > 145-6, Parry (1971) 455ff.). 0



song is not merely a recitation. F i n n e g a n (1977) 122-6 draws on co::v.\:ra:i\e evidence to h i g h l i g h t how important atmosphere and audience r;s;v::sc are to the poet, and how he can involve his listeners in the performance ν—vine the speed o f delivery, by gesture, facial expression and 'dramatic ^ a r ^ i c n s a t i o n ' ^cf. 8.87-92, 248). See further P . M u r r a y in W i n n i f r i t h (ed.)

7r.:> raises perhaps the most difficult question o f a l l : what is it about the 7ro;an war and its aftermath that attracted H o m e r to create such a uniquely large and complex talc? Whatever the answer - and one assumes it is somehow ecnnecied with the situation that 8thC Greeks found themselves in on the Ionian seaboard - Homer s epics had an immediate effect on the m a i n l a n d , where from :.~50 onwards Greeks began to show an interest i n the M y c e n a e a n past never evident before (e.g. new cults o f Trojan heroes l i k e A g a m e m n o n and Menelaus and worship at anonymous Mycenaean graves in general (Snodgrass (1971) 192¬ -"'τδ θεοί



The - φ of τ ψ remains long because it is not followed by a v o w e l , o l in fact being f o i ; and the - O L o f θ ε ο ί also remains long for the same reason, the following οΤκόνδε in fact being ^ ο ΐ κ ό ^ δ ε . But the OL of o l is shortened by correption, being followed by a v o w e l , the έ of έ π ε κ λ ώ σ α ι η - ο . f. A naturally s h o r t vowel becomes l o n g for the purpose of scansion when it is followed by two consonants ( C (=sd), ξ (=ks), and ψ (=ps) count as two consonants). This rule usually applies in Homer even to vowels followed by a combination ο ί π τ κ φ θ χ β δ γ ('mute') + λ μ ν ρ ('liquid'), a combination w h i c h in other Greek poetry (e.g. tragedy) frequendy allows a preceding v o w e l to remain short, e.g. π α τ ρ ό ς - always scans " ~ in Homer, whereas in tragedy it often scans ~ " . g. Synizesis occurs when two vowels which do not normally count as a diphthong are run together, e.g. θ ε ο ί , normally scanned ~", can be run together and scanned as a single long s y l l a b l e " . h. The pressure o f oral composition generates false quantities and a large number o f irregularities. Thus, for e x a m p l e , ' Ο δ υ σ ( σ ) ε ύ £ looks as i f it should be / ο δ υ σ ( σ ) ε ύ 9 at e.g. 1.21, 74, though elision takes place before it at 1.48, 60, 65; and the final - ο ο Γ Ο ρ έ σ τ α ο at 1.40 must be scanned l o n g . Γ


The text

The Greek text is that of T W A l l e n ( v o l . i i i , second edition, 1917, v o l . i v , second edition, 1919, Oxford), usually known as the O x f o r d Text'. Generally speaking it is fairly conservative, a l l o w i n g lines to stand where there is sometimes a case for excision (see the commentary of S West (1988) p a s s i m ) , leaving in particles to avoid hiatus, and so on. I admit to having acquiesced in its use out o f deference to tradition arid lack of confidence in my own ability to do any better. Radicals may be right to prefer the text of P. von der M u h l l (third edition, Stuttgart 1984). In accordance with the purpose o f this edition, I have replaced the traditional a p p a r a t u s c r i t i c u s listing different manuscript readings with help for those unfamiliar with Homeric grammar and dialect. One or two textual issues are discussed a d l o c . in the commentary.

BASIC HOMERIC G R A M M A R NOUNS A . First declension in -α, -η (Τ) Norn, s.: ends i n - η , even after p, ε, i , e.g. χ ώ ρ η , not χ ώ ρ α . (2) G e n . pi.: usually ends in -άων. - έ ω ν , e.g. ι>υμφάοη\ not ν υ μ φ ώ ν . (3) Dat. p i . : usually ends in - η σ ι ( ν ) , or -ης·, e.g. π ύ λ η σ ι ν = π ύ λ α ι ς - . First declension masculine in -ης* (4) Norn, s.: may end in n , not -ης-, e.g. Ι π π ό τ α , not Ι π π ό τ η ς - . (5) G e n . s.: ends in -ao, - ε ω , not -ου, e.g.' Α τ ρ ε ί δ α ο , n o t ' Α τ ρ ε ί δ ο υ . Β. Second declension f Π G e n . s.: ends in -OLO as well as - ο υ , e.g. π ε δ ί ο ι ο and π ε δ ί ο υ (2) G e n . and dat. dual: end in -oui>, e.g. ΐ π π ο ι ι ν , not ΐ π π ο ι ν . (3) Dat. pi.: ends in -οισι and -οις-, e.g. φ ύ λ λ ο ι σ ι and φύλλοις*. C . Third declension (1) A c c . s.: ends in - i v as w e l l as - ι δ α , e.g. γ λ α υ κ ώ π ι ν as w e l l γλαυκώπιδα. (2) A c c . s.: endings in -ηα correspond to - ε α , e.g. β α σ ι λ έ α = β α σ ι λ έ α (3) Gen. s.: endings in -ηος- and -ιος* correspond to - ε ω ς \ e.g. βασιλήοςΒασιλέως-, π ό λ ι ο ς - = π ό λ ε ω ς - . (4) A c c . p i . : endings in -ηας* correspond to - ε α ς \ e.g. β α σ ι λ η α ς 3ασιλέας\ (5) G e n . p i . : endings in -ηωι> correspond to -εωι>, e.g. β α σ ι λ έ ω ν βασιλέων. ( 6 ) Dat. p i . : ends in -εσσι and -σι, e.g. π ό δ ε σ σ ι , ίπεσι. (7) Note lack of contraction, e.g. ά σ τ ε α = # σ τ η , νόος- = νους-.

PRONOUNS D. έ γ ώ Τ , συ 'you' Gen. s.: έ μ ε ΐ ο , έ μ έ ο , έ μ ε ϋ , μ ε υ , έ μ έ θ ε ν σεΐο, σέο, σεύ, σέθεν Dat. s.: σ ο ι is sometimes written τ ο ι . Ε . ήμεΐς- 'we', ύ μ α ς - you' A c c : ήμέας-, ά μ μ ε / ύ μ έ α ς - , υ μ μ ε Gen.ή μ ε ί ω ν , ή μ έ ω ν / ύμείωι/, ύμέοιν Daf α μ μ ι / ν ) , ύμμι(ι>)



F. έ "him', 'her', 'it' Gen.: εΤο, 2ο, ε υ , £ θ ε ν Dat.: έοΐ, ol (this latter form o l is extremely c o m m o n , and often acts in a possessive sense, e.g. 'his', 'hers'). G . σ φ ε 'them' A c c . : σ φ ε , σφέας, σφας Gen.: σ φ ε ί ω ν , σ φ έ ω ν Dat.: σ φ ι , σ φ ι σ ί Η. τίς (accented) 'who?', 'what?', 'which?', τις (unaccented) 'someone', 'a' Gen. s.: τ έ ο , τ ε υ DaL s.: τ έ ω Gen. p i . : τ έ ω ν Note: δ σ τ ι ς · usually appears as οτις, with δ- remaining unchanged in declension. I. δ, ή , τ ό 'he', 'she', 'it' (very rarely 'the'); and = ος ή δ, the relative pronoun 'who', 'which', 'what' N o m . p l . : o l , αϊ, ΟΓτοί, τ α ί Dat. pi.: τοις and τ ο ί σ ι ( ν ) , τάίς and ττ]ς, τ τ ] σ ι ( ν ) . Note: distinguish the relative pronoun 6ς ή δ from the possessive adjective δ ? ή 8ι> / £6ς έ ή έόι> 'one's own'. J. Observe the H o m e r i c alternation between e.g. - σ - / - σ σ - , - τ - / - Τ Τ - , - π - / - π π e t c , e.g. τόσος/ τ ό σ σ ο ς , μ έ σ ο ς / μέσσος-, π ο σ ί / π ο σ σ ί , δ τ ε ο / δ τ τ ε ο , δ π ό τ ε / δ π π ό τ ε , etc.. T h i s is metrically very useful for the p o e t K . The termination -φΐ·(ν), -οφι.(ν) may be used for the dat. (and sometimes the gen.) s. and p i . o f nouns and adjectives, e.g. βιήφι 'by force', δ α κ ρ ύ ο φ ι ν 'with tears', ό ρ ε σ φ ι ν 'in the mountains'.

VERBS Person endings L . -v for - σ α ν , e.g. ίσταν = ίστησαν -cat = -€i in 2nd. s. pres. m i d . , -ao = -ω in 2nd. s. aor. m i d . .

in 3rd. p i . act.,

M . 3rd. p i . mid./pass. often ends in - α τ α ι , - α τ ο , e.g. ή α τ ο = fjinro. Tenses Ν. Future: generally uncontracted, e.g. έ ρ έ ω (έρώ) , τ ε λ έ ω




Ο . Present/imperfect: sometimes reinforced by a form in - σ κ - i m p l y i n g repetition, e.g. φ ε ύ γ ε σ κ ο ν 'they keep on running away'. P . A o r i s t / i m p e r f e e t : i n both, the arguments may be m i s s i n g , e.g. β ό λ ο ν ( έ β α λ ο ν ) . O b s e r v e the necessary adjustments i n compounds, e.g. £ μ β α λ ε (ένέβαλε). Moods Q . Subjunctive (1) appears with a short v o w e l , e.g. Ι ο μ ε ν (Γωμεν). (2) has 2nd. s. m i d . in - η α ι , -ecu. (3) has 3rd. s. a c t in - σ ι ( ν ) , e.g. φ ο ρ ε ή σ ι ( φ ο ρ ή ) . (4) can be used instead o f the future indicative, and to express general remarks. R . Infinitive In place o f the Attic - c i v , -vat, Homeric G r e e k frequendy uses - μ ε ν , - μ ε ν α ι , e.g. δ ό μ ε ν α ι ( δ ο ύ ν α ι ) , Γ μ ε ν ( U v a i ) , ά κ ο υ έ μ ^ ν ( - α ι ) ( ά κ ο ύ ε ι ν ) , and most c o m m o n l y o f a l l £ μ ε ν , £ μ ε ν α ι , £ μ μ ε ν , ε"μμεναι for A t t i c ε ί ν α ι . Contracted verbs S. (1) W h e r e A t t i c contracts - ω - , w e often find - ο ω , - ω ω - , e.g. A t t i c ό ρ ώ ν τ ε ^ , Homeric δρόωντες . (2) Where Attic contracts - α ε to -a and - ά ε ι to -