Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

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seanjonesbw
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Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:37 am

Welcome to the Odyssey Reading Group! Anyone is welcome to join in at any time, regardless of their Greek ability. If you’re itching to explore Homer’s epic tale of survival, adventure, love, lust, kinship, betrayal and spooky dead people, hop on in, you’ll be very welcome. People who have some Greek but have never tried reading Homer before are doubly welcome.

Check the introductory thread for a description of how the group works.

We’re working from Geoffrey Steadman’s Odyssey Books 6-8, a freely-available pdf
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An introduction to Book 6 and a list of resources for deeper study are available in the group dropbox folder

I’ve also been making flashcards to go with Steadman’s text (vocab occurring >8 times in Books 6-8)
Next week (Friday 26th July) we’ll be reading Book 6 Lines 162-185 (to the end of Odysseus' supplication)
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:47 am

141 στῆ δ ̓ ἄντα σχομένη· ὁ δὲ μερμήριξεν Ὀδυσσεύς, 142 ἢ γούνων λίσσοιτο λαβὼν ἐυώπιδα κούρην, 143 ἦ αὔτως ἐπέεσσιν ἀποσταδὰ μειλιχίοισι 144 λίσσοιτ ̓, εἰ δείξειε πόλιν καὶ εἵματα δοίη. 145 ὣς ἄρα οἱ φρονέοντι δοάσσατο κέρδιον εἶναι, 146 λίσσεσθαι ἐπέεσσιν ἀποσταδὰ μειλιχίοισι, 147 μή οἱ γοῦνα λαβόντι χολώσαιτο φρένα κούρη. 148 αὐτίκα μειλίχιον καὶ κερδαλέον φάτο μῦθον· 149 “γουνοῦμαί σε, ἄνασσα· θεός νύ τις, ἦ βροτός ἐσσι; 150 εἰ μέν τις θεός ἐσσι, τοὶ οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἔχουσιν, 151 Ἀρτέμιδί σε ἐγώ γε, Διὸς κούρῃ μεγάλοιο, 152 εἶδός τε μέγεθός τε φυήν τ ̓ ἄγχιστα ἐΐσκω· 153 εἰ δέ τίς ἐσσι βροτῶν, τοὶ ἐπὶ χθονὶ ναιετάουσι, 154 τρισμάκαρες μὲν σοί γε πατὴρ καὶ πότνια μήτηρ, 155 τρισμάκαρες δὲ κασίγνητοι· μάλα πού σφισι θυμὸς 156 αἰὲν ἐυφροσύνῃσιν ἰαίνεται εἵνεκα σεῖο, 157 λευσσόντων τοιόνδε θάλος χορὸν εἰσοιχνεῦσαν. 158 κεῖνος δ ̓ αὖ περὶ κῆρι μακάρτατος ἔξοχον ἄλλων, 159 ὅς κέ σ ̓ ἐέδνοισι βρίσας οἶκόνδ ̓ ἀγάγηται. 160 οὐ γάρ πω τοιοῦτον ἐγὼ ἴδον ὀφθαλμοῖσιν, 161 οὔτ ̓ ἄνδρ ̓ οὔτε γυναῖκα· σέβας μ ̓ ἔχει εἰσορόωντα.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:57 am

We've finally arrived at the bit mwh mentioned a couple of weeks ago so I'm reposting his thoughts here.
mwh wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:55 am
3. The simile (102-108). One of Homer’s more complex similes, which always have clearly marked entry and exit points: 102 οἵη Artemis (the vehicle, in I.A.Richards’ terms), 108 ὣς Nausicaa (the tenor, a single line). The formal point of comparison is how each of them stood out among her companions, but this is reached only at the end, after the picture of Artemis and her entourage has been painted in loving detail. Homer usually keeps tenor and vehicle quite separate and avoids any interaction between them (no interference or bleeding), but here they mirror one another, so that the image of Artemis & co. at play in the mountains (παίζουσι 106) is a reflection, distorted but unmistakable, of their counterparts at play on the beach (ἔπαιζον 100).

The simile nicely anticipates Odysseus’ own flattering comparison of Nausicaa to Artemis in the next scene. But we don’t get to that till next week.

The archer goddess and her nymphs disporting themselves in the mountains, carefree—a type-scene (beloved of painters), and we know what comes next: an outsider’s intrusion, his discovery, a swift change of atmosphere and dire consequences. (Seneca already mentioned Actaeon, and there are many others.) That’s the template, at the poet's disposal to play with. Cue the discovery of Odysseus. What will the reaction be?

The simile obliquely stresses another thing that Nausicaa has in common with Artemis: they are both virgins. The point is obvious but is withheld till the very end (109): Nausicaa is not called Nausicaa but παρθένος ἀδμής (an emphatic combination)—but for how long will she remain so? The marriage theme has been insistently sounded. Cue Odysseus’ entrance into her maiden life, naked.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by seanjonesbw » Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:20 pm

Answer there came none.

Some questions I have from this week's passage:

Is Odysseus' dilemma at lines 141-144 just because he's naked and salty or, as a stranger in Scheria, would he ask himself the same question fully clothed? What might the consequences be of avoiding proper supplication etiquette?

Does his opting for a μειλίχιον καὶ κερδαλέον μῦθον (148) show that he's certain he's not dealing with a god (who would presumably be immune to his charms)?

Is the tone of his speech meant to sound comically obsequious to the audience?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by seanjonesbw » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:54 am

141 στῆ δ ̓ ἄντα σχομένη· ὁ δὲ μερμήριξεν Ὀδυσσεύς, 142 ἢ γούνων λίσσοιτο λαβὼν ἐυώπιδα κούρην, 143 ἦ αὔτως ἐπέεσσιν ἀποσταδὰ μειλιχίοισι 144 λίσσοιτ ̓, εἰ δείξειε πόλιν καὶ εἵματα δοίη.
And a question about the Greek. The εἰ + opt. clause is, I assume, the one at Symth 2354. Is the difference in force from a ἵνα clause here that Odysseus really isn't sure whether either ploy will succeed?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:28 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:20 pm
Answer there came none.

Some questions I have from this week's passage:

Is Odysseus' dilemma at lines 141-144 just because he's naked and salty or, as a stranger in Scheria, would he ask himself the same question fully clothed? What might the consequences be of avoiding proper supplication etiquette?

Does his opting for a μειλίχιον καὶ κερδαλέον μῦθον (148) show that he's certain he's not dealing with a god (who would presumably be immune to his charms)?

Is the tone of his speech meant to sound comically obsequious to the audience?
To answer your first question: I think it’s just natural to assume that anyone, let alone a young girl, would rather avoid physical contact with a naked, filthy stranger, whatever the usual etiquette for supplication dictates. So this just shows that Odysseus is being tactful.

As for your last question, I don’t think it’s intended to be comical. But I’d like to jump ahead to Odysseus’ and Nausicaa’s parting scene in book 8, lines 464 ff. Odysseus’ farewell words to her:

Ναυσικάα θύγατερ μεγαλήτορος Ἀλκινόοιο,
οὕτω νῦν Ζεὺς θείη, ἐρίγδουπος πόσις Ἥρης,
οἴκαδέ τ᾽ ἐλθέμεναι καὶ νόστιμον ἦμαρ ἰδέσθαι:
τῷ κέν τοι καὶ κεῖθι θεῷ ὣς εὐχετοῴμην
αἰεὶ ἤματα πάντα: σὺ γάρ μ᾽ ἐβιώσαο, κούρη.

To my knowledge, no commentator has pointed this out, but in my opinion these last words obviously refer to their first encounter and Odysseus’ supplication to her: ”then, even at home, for all my days, I would pray to you as if to a god; for you saved my life”. Praying to someone mortal ”as if to a god” is definitely not traditional, nor is it part of the the etiquette, and I don’t think it’s even supposed to particularly obsequious. Rather, Odysseus is pointing with gentle humour to the circumstances of their first encounter: it’s thanks to her that he is no longer the naked bum on the beach that he once was, and he will never forget it. He well remembers the obsequious speech he had to deliver and doesn’t pretend to have forgotten it.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by seanjonesbw » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:00 am

A very interesting point, Paul, and interesting that we have Telemachus echoing it in his parting from Helen in Book 15.

15.180-1
“οὕτω νῦν Ζεὺς θείη, ἐρίγδουπος πόσις Ἥρης·
τῷ κέν τοι καὶ κεῖθι θεῷ ὣς εὐχετοῴμην.”

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and as so often Telemachus' journey mirrors Odysseus'. I haven't read anything on the integration of Telemachus' story into the Odyssey, or primacy of either part. I wonder how many other examples there are of Telemachian formulas being fleshed out in the rest of the Odyssey (or vice versa as the case may be).

Book 22 of the Iliad has the same formula in a very, very different context as part of Achilles' boast after killing Hector.

Il.22.391-4 (edited)
δʼ ἄγʼ ἀείδοντες παιήονα κοῦροι Ἀχαιῶν
νηυσὶν ἔπι γλαφυρῇσι νεώμεθα, τόνδε δʼ ἄγωμεν.
ἠράμεθα μέγα κῦδος· ἐπέφνομεν Ἕκτορα δῖον,
ᾧ Τρῶες κατὰ ἄστυ θεῷ ὣς εὐχετόωντο.

Edit: I was about to say that there's a pleasing visual symmetry between the image of Odysseus' supplication and the imagined prayer to Nausicaa, but in Homer people pray to the gods standing, χεῖρας ἀνασχών. Almost caught out by my post-Christian reception of the text (Seneca please place a star next to my name).
Last edited by seanjonesbw on Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by Paul Derouda » Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:30 pm

You have the Iliad line wrong, it should be 22.394.

But the parallels you found disprove me to a point when I said that praying to a person is not traditional, even if it doesn’t disprove the rest. I wonder if it has any relevance that Hector, the greatest mortal protector of the Trojans, is already dead at this moment, while Helen is Zeus’ daughter and only half mortal; praying to them would have been somewhat more appropriate.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:41 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:30 pm
You have the Iliad line wrong, it should be 22.394.

But the parallels you found disprove me to a point when I said that praying to a person is not traditional, even if it doesn’t disprove the rest. I wonder if it has any relevance that Hector, the greatest mortal protector of the Trojans, is already dead at this moment, while Helen is Zeus’ daughter and only half mortal; praying to them would have been somewhat more appropriate.
Or perhaps we need to realize how much our sacral language itself is informed by a couple of thousand years of Christian usage. The "prayer" vocabulary and accompanied activity is regularly used of both gods and mortals in ancient times. It's the normal language of an inferior beseeching a superior. A god is simply superior to a greater degree...
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by mwh » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:43 pm

No, in antiquity the distinction between gods and mortals is a hard-and-fast one, no less than the Judeo-Christian distinction between God and humans. It’s not to be reduced to a superior:inferior relationship, or to be viewed as simply a matter of degree. Gods are prayed to, fellow-mortals are supplicated, with respectively appropriate gestures (clasping a god’s knees is not recommended behavior, even if you could). In Christian times prayer language was used in addressing one’s fellow-humans (e.g. “Pray tell”, cf. “Prithee”). Not so in ancient Greek.

That’s what makes the θεῷ ὣς εὐχετοῴμην/εὐχετόωντο formula (Iliad and Odyssey both!) so interesting. It comes close to straddling the boundary, uniquely? I think there may be something to Paul’s suggestion that Helen has special status as daughter of Zeus. That’s why Menelaus is destined to go to Elysium when he dies, after all (4.561-70). It’s an exception to her normally being treated as an ordinary if exceptionally beautiful mortal. And Telemachus visits Menelaus and Helen at home in Sparta, where historically Helen was worshipped as a goddess, and when the Spartans set out for Plataea they were attended by the Dioscuri and Menelaus.
As for Nausicaa, the land of the Phaeacians is a Neverland, shortly to be erased even from the edge of the map, whose people are ἀγχίθεοι (5.35). And Hector, as Paul points out, is dead and heroized; the original Astyanax? So all three recipients of prayer “as to a god” can be seen as trailing traces of divinity? But Homeric epic, while allowing εὐχετοῴμην, won’t allow anything more than quasi-divinity: θεῷ ὣς.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:45 pm

Thanks Michael. You provided the evidence for what I suggested about Helen; I was actually precisely thinking about those (Menelaus being destined to Elysium and the fact that Helen had a cult), but I was on cycling vacation with nothing to type with except my phone, so I kept my posts to a minimum length.

But as far as Nausicaa is concerned, don't you think there's anything to what I proposed? She is not a goddess or even a heroine with a cult; the situation is different from Helen or even Hector, and I see the speech Odysseus delivers to Nausicaa at farewell as an amiable yet flattering wink to Nausicaa, reminding her of their first encounter when Odysseus was completely at her mercy and wasn't even sure (or pretended not to be sure) whether she was a mortal or a goddess.

West, by the way, thinks with Aristophanes of Byzantium, that Phaeacians still exist, but no longer in contact with the rest of the mankind, as he reads 13.158 μηδέ σφιν ὄρος πόλει ἀμφικαλύψαι, against Aristarchus and all the manuscripts. He gives his grounds in his Making of the Odyssey, p. 232; it's a bit too long to copy here, but basically he thinks 158 would have been copied from the similar line 152 (μέγα δέ σφιν ὄρος πόλει ἀμφικαλύψαι) and for the rest, for him, μηδέ makes more sense in the story.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 141-161

Post by mwh » Sun Aug 04, 2019 2:37 am

Thanks Paul. If you hadn’t been away I wouldn’t have needed to post. I’m glad we’re on the same page. If ever I say anything you disagree with, do please say. You probably know the Odyssey better than I do, and I have wondered whether you're a god yourself.

It’s clear enough that on parting with Nausicaa Odysseus refers to their first encounter. There’s no other way of understanding σὺ γάρ μ᾽ ἐβιώσαο, κούρη. And it’s appealing (though not I think necessary, given the transferability of formulas) to imagine that he’s alluding, winkingly or not, to his original pretense that she might in fact be a goddess—which he knew full well she wasn’t (so we needn’t hesitate to say it was a pretense, to ingratiate himself).

I haven’t read West on the textual point, but I’d be sceptical about the idea that Ar.Byz.’s μη was anything more than an overly clever conjecture. But however that may be, I think we obsess too much about recovering the “original” text. The important thing, for me, is that the text that was read over the course of the poem's history had μέγα.

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