Od. X.86 ἐγγὺς γὰρ νυκτός τε καὶ ἤματός εἰσι κέλευθοι

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Od. X.86 ἐγγὺς γὰρ νυκτός τε καὶ ἤματός εἰσι κέλευθοι

Post by brometheus » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:37 pm

What does it mean for the κέλευθοι (NB not κέλευθα!) of night and day to be near?

This (X.82-86) is an intriguing little section -- "there a man who could do without sleep could earn him double wages, one for herding the cattle, one for the silvery sheep" (Lattimore) -- but I just don't know what the special geographic properties of this place (Τηλέπυλος) are such that "the courses of night and day lie close together."

Does it mean that the sunset is more rapid such that "daytime" and "nighttime" are closer together? Does the sun set more vertically here?

Follow-up question: Are sheep pastured nocturnally??

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Paul Derouda
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Re: Od. X.86 ἐγγὺς γὰρ νυκτός τε καὶ ἤματός εἰσι κέλευθοι

Post by Paul Derouda » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:19 pm

It is a very interesting passage, isn't it! This is how I understand this: "Homer" had heard about short summer nights in distant lands in the North, but since he had no personal experience of it, his ideas about the practical implications are a bit muddled. Merry & Riddell's commentary from 1886 (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... mline%3D81) says, among other things:
The whole sentence may be rendered, ‘There a man who took no sleep might have earned two sets of wages, one by minding cattle, the other by pasturing white sheep; for the outgoings of night and day are close together.’ Hardly has Night stepped forth upon the scene, when Day reappears too; and so we may suppose that the interval of darkness between the two periods of light is actually inappreciable. Thus a man who has had his flock at pasture from morning till just the fall of evening, brings it home before the darkness sets in; but as he enters the city-gate with his flock, he meets his fellow driving out his herd of oxen to pasture, for already daylight is beginning again— the evening twilight is melting into the dawn. The notion then strikes the poet, that if a man should take no sleep he might play the part both of the εἰσελάων and the ἐξελάων. He would bring home his sheep, change them for a herd of oxen and be off again to pasture without delay, thus earning wages in the double capacity of neatherd and shepherd.

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