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Odyssey, Book 6 and 7

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Odyssey, Book 6 and 7

Postby huilen » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:28 pm


I've been reading Odyssey's books 6 and 7 with Cambridge Greek and Latin commentary. I had already read both books, but reading them again with this commentary was very useful, on one hand because there I've encountered many interesting discussions for most of the questions that I had, and on the other, many of the discussions got that I started to pay attention to some poetic effects, metrical issues and certain arrangment of words that I had overlooked before. Moreover, there is a lot of interesting bibliography.

I write here some questions that I couldn't resolve with the commentary. And I'd like to ask for some aid for reading the next books (from Book 9 to Book 12, for I'll have to wait until Book 13 for the next available commentary of G&L). Is there anything similar to G&L series? Also, I'd like to know more about matters of language and formulaic composition.


Book 6


40. ἔρχεσθαι: πολλὸν γὰρ ἄπο πλυνοί εἰσι πόληος.

Why ἄπο is throwing back its accent? It goes with πόληος, which is after the preposition.

2) What form would be ξύμβλητο (6.54)?


Book 7


138. ᾧ πυμάτῳ σπένδεσκον, ὅτε μνησαίατο κοίτου.

I liked very much this verse, but I would like to be sure that I'm taking it correctly, because G&L doesn't say anything about it. Should I take the optative as the protasis of a general past condition, or as a purpose secondary clause?

a) If a past gral. cond., I would read: 'They made their last libation once and again whenever they reminded of sleeping'. (This interpretation I like more).

b) If a secondary purpose clause: 'They made their last libation once and again in order that they could sleep'. Or maybe 'until they fall asleep'.

Anyway, I liked very much this verse. I think that the iterative form of σπένδω together with the adverb ᾧ πυμάτῳ makes an effective oxymorron. And with the first interpretation I like it even more, because the protasis of the gral. clause reinforces this: it explains the apparent paradox: they reminded of sleeping once and again, which implies that they also forget it once and again. So they were in a vicious circle: they reminded of sleeping and thus said "well, time to go, let's make the last libation', and they forgot that immediatly and went ahead with the feast, and that once and again. I think it is effectively expressed, (if I can read it this way).


215. ἀλλ᾽ ἐμὲ μὲν δορπῆσαι ἐάσατε κηδόμενόν περ:
216. οὐ γάρ τι στυγερῇ ἐπὶ γαστέρι κύντερον ἄλλο
217. ἔπλετο, ἥ τ᾽ ἐκέλευσεν ἕο μνήσασθαι ἀνάγκῃ
218. καὶ μάλα τειρόμενον καὶ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ πένθος ἔχοντα,
219. ὡς καὶ ἐγὼ πένθος μὲν ἔχω φρεσίν, ἡ δὲ μάλ᾽ αἰεὶ
220. ἐσθέμεναι κέλεται καὶ πινέμεν, ἐκ δέ με πάντων
221. ληθάνει ὅσσ᾽ ἔπαθον, καὶ ἐνιπλησθῆναι ἀνώγει.

Just to know your opinion, would you take it like a comic speech? Is there any instance of something like this in Homer? He repeats the idea of his stomach commanding to be filled one time and another till make it ridicule, at least to me it seemed very funny, and I could imagine an audience laughing while listening this. According to G&L this preoccupation of his stomach is characteristic of Odysseus, even in the Iliad.

246. ναίει ἐυπλόκαμος, δεινὴ θεός: οὐδέ τις αὐτῇ


I've already seen this many times: why is θεός masculine when referriing to a goddess? For the meter here would be the same, right?

285. ἐκβὰς ἐν θάμνοισι κατέδραθον, ἀμφὶ δὲ φύλλα
286. ἠφυσάμην
: ὕπνον δὲ θεὸς κατ᾽ ἀπείρονα χεῦεν.


Has κατέδραθον any other meaning than "fell sleep"? It just called my attention that he first "fell asleep" and then covered himself with the leaves.

289. δείλετό τ᾽ ἠέλιος καί με γλυκὺς ὕπνος ἀνῆκεν.


310. μαψιδίως κεχολῶσθαι: ἀμείνω δ᾽ αἴσιμα πάντα.

8 )

The neuter plural of ἀμείνων (califying αἴσιμα) would be ἀμείνονα. The neuter singular (if an adverb) would be ἀμείνον. But what would be ἀμείνω? It seems the contraction of something.


329. ὣς φάτο, γήθησεν δὲ πολύτλας δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς,
330. εὐχόμενος δ᾽ ἄρα εἶπεν, ἔπος τ᾽ ἔφατ᾽ ἔκ τ᾽ ὀνόμαζεν:
331. ‘Ζεῦ πάτερ, αἴθ᾽ ὅσα εἶπε τελευτήσειεν ἅπαντα
332. Ἀλκίνοος
: τοῦ μέν κεν ἐπὶ ζείδωρον ἄρουραν
333. ἄσβεστον κλέος εἴη, ἐγὼ δέ κε πατρίδ᾽ ἱκοίμην.

I didn't understand something that G&L says about this:

this kind of language is more likely to be found when it is the deity addressed who is asked to do the 'fulfilling'; e.g. 3.56, 21.200

But, it is not Zeus who is addressed by Odysseus? ζεῦ πάτερ is in the vocative case, and then comes an optative construction of wish in third person. Why then G&L says that here Odysseus is not addressing a deity?
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Re: Odyssey, Book 6 and 7

Postby Qimmik » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:49 pm

1. There is apparently some dispute about the accentuation of ἀπο in this line. Usually anastrophe occurs when a preposition or a preverb follows the noun or verb, but that's not the case here. Some of the ancient Greek grammarians contended that ἀπο should be accented ἄπο (i.e., anastrophe) when it means ἄπωθεν, "far from," and I think that's why some texts (van Thiel, von der Muehll) make it paroxytone (with anastrophe). However, apparently Herodian specifically insisted that in this line it should be barytone (i.e., with grave accent on the second syllable) in this line, and the Oxford text follows that accentuation. Bottom line: it's too trivial a point to worry about.

2. This is an intransitive aorist middle, meaning here "come together with". From LSJ:

συμβάλλω , fut. -βα^λῶ: aor. -έβα^λον, inf. -βα^λεῖν: pf. -βέβληκα: aor. 1 Pass. -εβλήθην:—of these tenses Hom. uses only pres. Act., aor. Act. and Med., but most commonly Ep. intr. aor. forms συμβλήτην, -βλήμεναι, Med. σύμβλητο, -βληντο, -βλήμενος, subj. 2sg. -βλήεαι prob. cj. for -βλήσεαι in Il.20.335, 3sg. contr.


3. This is a past general clause, your preferred interpretation: "whenever they gave thought to sleep". I would translate μνησαίατο here as "gave thought to" rather than as "were reminded of".

4. There is a certain grim humor here. It might have brought a smile to the lips of the audience. Odysseus is consistently characterized as a practical individual. Achilles, for example--prima donna that he is--can go without eating for days on end out of grief, but Odysseus is always focused on results.

5. θεός is epicene: it can be either masculine or feminine. See LSJ:

II. θεός fem., goddess, “μήτε θήλεια θεός, μήτε τις ἄρσην” Il.8.7, cf. Hdt.2.35, al.; “τοῖς θεοῖς εὔχομαι πᾶσι καὶ πάσαις” D.18.1, cf. 141, Orac.ib.21.52; esp. at Athens, of Athena, Decr. ap. And.1.77, Pl.Ti.21a, etc.; ἁ Διὸς θεός, Ζηνὸς ἡ θ., S.Aj.401 (lyr.), 952 (ἡ Διὸς θεά ib.450); of other goddesses, “ποντία θεός” Pi.I. 8(7).36; ἡ νερτέρα θ.,= Περσεφόνη, S.OC1548, etc.; of Thetis, Pl. Ap.28c; of Niobe, S.El.150 (lyr.), Ant.834 (anap.): in dual, of Demeter and Persephone, “τὰ τοῖν θεοῖν ψηφίσματα” Ar.V.378 (lyr.); “οὐδ᾽ ἔδεισε τὼ θεώ” And.1.125; freq. in oaths, “νὴ τὼ θεώ” Ar.Lys.112; “μὰ τὼ θεώ” Id.Ec.155,532.


θεά is an Aeolic form, from the Aeolic element in the Homeric vocabulary. Ionic would be θεή, but this form doesn't occur in the Homeric poems (or elsewhere, if I'm not mistaken. θεά could also be Attic, but it's better explained in Homer as an Aeolism). Here θεά would result in a hiatus: θε-ά οὐ-δέ.

6. I wouldn't be so literal: take ἀμφὶ δὲ φύλλα ἠφυσάμην as explanatory of κατέδραθον, or translate κατέδραθον as "I went to sleep." 289 seems out of place after 288, doesn't it?

7-8. ἀμείνω is a contracted form for ἀμείνονα. Smyth 293:


It's hard to see this from the online version, but βελτίονα and βελτίω are alternative forms for the neuter nominative and accusative plural.

9. The point is that the prayer is addressed to Zeus, but Alcinous, not Zeus, is the person who would accomplish the fulfilling.

I will think about aids for the next books. I know there is an old Macmillan or Cambridge school edition of Book 9--you can usually get these used through abebooks at reasonable prices, but at this point, you might think about acquiring Sanford or even the Oxford commentary (edited by Stephanie West, et al.). If you read Italian (as many Argentines do), there is a Mondadori series of commentaries on the Odyssey, which may be the basis for the Oxford commentary. On Homeric language and formulas, there are useful discussions by Janko and Hainsworth, respectively, in the Cambridge commentary on the Iliad. These are more in-depth discussions aimed at scholars rather than students, but I think you may now be at a level where you could profit from more advanced materials. But you should be aware that almost anything anyone writes about the Homeric poems is bound to be controversial.
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Re: Odyssey, Book 6 and 7

Postby huilen » Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:37 am

Great, Qimmik, I'll check the options. About West, I don't worry if I don't understand every word, and considering how difficult and expensive is to order books to my country, I'll feel better if I buy one of those editions with eternal controversy which should be useful in the future too. (Yes, it is very irritating that so earthly considerations should take priority when choicing a book! Now I understand better the sense and grim humor of the speech of Odysseus :lol:).
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Re: Odyssey, Book 6 and 7

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:22 am

Commentaries: personally, I don't like Stanford very much. As much as I remember, it's general outlook is naive and outdated. Also, other commentaries keep correcting him. I think you could profit from either the 3 volume Oxford commentary (especially the first volume by S. West and Hainsworth is good) (and as far as I know, the Italian commentary is the same, like Qimmik said) or the Cambridge Green and Yellow (=Greek and Latin) commentaries. They can be pretty expensive though, especially if you have to pay high postage fees.

Generally, I think old commentaries can be quite good too, and they are available online for free. I think you have used have already used Merry's school commentary; you have also a more advanced old Oxford commentary by Merry-Riddell (books I-XII) and Monro (XIII-XIV). Old commentators are still a good help for the Greek language, but they are outdated on realia.

Qimmik: is this the commentary for book 9 you had in mind? https://archive.org/details/homersodysseywi00homegoog
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