Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

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Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:51 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 9th August) we’ll be reading Book 6 Lines 211-238
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:57 am

186 τὸν δ ̓ αὖ Ναυσικάα λευκώλενος ἀντίον ηὔδα· 187 “ξεῖν ̓, ἐπεὶ οὔτε κακῷ οὔτ ̓ ἄφρονι φωτὶ ἔοικας· 188 Ζεὺς δ ̓ αὐτὸς νέμει ὄλβον Ὀλύμπιος ἀνθρώποισιν, 189 ἐσθλοῖς ἠδὲ κακοῖσιν, ὅπως ἐθέλῃσιν, ἑκάστῳ· 190 καί που σοὶ τάδ ̓ ἔδωκε, σὲ δὲ χρὴ τετλάμεν ἔμπης. 191 νῦν δ ̓, ἐπεὶ ἡμετέρην τε πόλιν καὶ γαῖαν ἱκάνεις, 192 οὔτ ̓ οὖν ἐσθῆτος δευήσεαι οὔτε τευ ἄλλου, 193 ὧν ἐπέοιχ ̓ ἱκέτην ταλαπείριον ἀντιάσαντα. 194 ἄστυ δέ τοι δείξω, ἐρέω δέ τοι οὔνομα λαῶν. 195 Φαίηκες μὲν τήνδε πόλιν καὶ γαῖαν ἔχουσιν, 196 εἰμὶ δ ̓ ἐγὼ θυγάτηρ μεγαλήτορος Ἀλκινόοιο, 197 τοῦ δ ̓ ἐκ Φαιήκων ἔχεται κάρτος τε βίη τε.” 198 ἦ ῥα, καὶ ἀμφιπόλοισιν ἐϋπλοκάμοισι κέλευσε· 199 “στῆτέ μοι, ἀμφίπολοι· πόσε φεύγετε φῶτα ἰδοῦσαι; 200 ἦ μή πού τινα δυσμενέων φάσθ ̓ ἔμμεναι ἀνδρῶν; 201 οὐκ ἔσθ ̓ οὗτος ἀνὴρ διερὸς βροτὸς οὐδὲ γένηται, 202 ὅς κεν Φαιήκων ἀνδρῶν ἐς γαῖαν ἵκηται 203 δηϊοτῆτα φέρων· μάλα γὰρ φίλοι ἀθανάτοισιν. 204 οἰκέομεν δ ̓ ἀπάνευθε πολυκλύστῳ ἐνὶ πόντῳ, 205 ἔσχατοι, οὐδέ τις ἄμμι βροτῶν ἐπιμίσγεται ἄλλος. 206 ἀλλ ̓ ὅδε τις δύστηνος ἀλώμενος ἐνθάδ ̓ ἱκάνει, 207 τὸν νῦν χρὴ κομέειν· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες 208 ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε, δόσις δ ̓ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε. 209 ἀλλὰ δότ ̓, ἀμφίπολοι, ξείνῳ βρῶσίν τε πόσιν τε, 210 λούσατέ τ ̓ ἐν ποταμῷ, ὅθ ̓ ἐπὶ σκέπας ἔστ ̓ ἀνέμοιο.”
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:45 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:57 am
187 “ξεῖν ̓, ἐπεὶ οὔτε κακῷ οὔτ ̓ ἄφρονι φωτὶ ἔοικας· 188 Ζεὺς δ ̓ αὐτὸς νέμει ὄλβον Ὀλύμπιος ἀνθρώποισιν, 189 ἐσθλοῖς ἠδὲ κακοῖσιν, ὅπως ἐθέλῃσιν, ἑκάστῳ· 190 καί που σοὶ τάδ ̓ ἔδωκε, σὲ δὲ χρὴ τετλάμεν ἔμπης.
A few thoughts about Nausicaa's response to Odysseus. My Greek is so poor that I have no ear for differences in register and tone, so hopefully someone can help me out here - Nausicaa opens with ἐπεὶ, but this clause is interrupted by a long parenthesis about Zeus doling out fortune and misfortune. Allen renders this interruption with the raised point at line 187, and most translations don't seem to bother translating ἐπεὶ. Is it being answered by "οὔτ ̓ οὖν ἐσθῆτος δευήσεαι" at line 192, which also answers the ἐπεὶ at 191, or does she simply cut off her own thought? I read Allen's raised point more like an ellipsis ("Stranger, since you don't seem to be a bad or stupid man... Of course Zeus himself hands out fortune...") - perhaps because the confidence she's been given by Athena doesn't extend to her speech-making, so she nervously interrupts herself when the thought occurs to mention Zeus.

Nausicaa's speech seems to make an impression on Odysseus - I can't help feeling he remembers her kind words when he's responding to Euryalos' taunts in book 8, reversing the sentiment to get one over on him.

8.166-177
“ξεῖνʼ, οὐ καλὸν ἔειπες· ἀτασθάλῳ ἀνδρὶ ἔοικας.
οὕτως οὐ πάντεσσι θεοὶ χαρίεντα διδοῦσιν
ἀνδράσιν, οὔτε φυὴν οὔτʼ ἂρ φρένας οὔτʼ ἀγορητύν.
...
ὡς καὶ σοὶ εἶδος μὲν ἀριπρεπές, οὐδέ κεν ἄλλως
οὐδὲ θεὸς τεύξειε, νόον δʼ ἀποφώλιός ἐσσι.

In the first line of both, ξεῖνʼ and ἔοικας are occupying what look like formulaic positions, but there are also other similarities between the two lines (negative construction; κακῷ/καλὸν; φωτὶ/ἀνδρὶ). Are these formulaic or just a kind of mirroring of sentiment - φωτὶ/ἀνδρὶ occupy the same metrical space, but κακῷ/καλὸν don't, for instance.

A final thought on her speech - it's interesting that she doesn't ask who he is. Is this perhaps because she has made a big show of the hospitality of the Phaeacians to all-comers, so it doesn't matter? I wonder what she would have done with him if she'd decided he was mad, bad and dangerous to know.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Aug 02, 2019 2:42 pm

Sometimes the language is just out and out beautiful (poetry, right?):

τὸν νῦν χρὴ κομέειν· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε, δόσις δʼ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε.
ἀλλὰ δότʼ, ἀμφίπολοι, ξείνῳ βρῶσίν τε πόσιν τε,

The threefold repetition of τε...τε I think is particularly striking.

Question: what is the exact sense of δόσις δʼ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε? Does she mean that strangers and the poor are the gift?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by Aetos » Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:24 pm

Sean wrote:
perhaps because the confidence she's been given by Athena doesn't extend to her speech-making, so she nervously interrupts herself when the thought occurs to mention Zeus.
Because of the loose syntax of these lines (perhaps mwh or hylander can weigh in on this), Stanford believes she is inwardly nervous and delivers this statement to give herself confidence. Here's his commentary for this week's lines:
https://archive.org/details/odysseystanford003
Hainesworth, on the other hand, says the loose syntax is "not untypical" and cites iii 103, viii 236, xiv 149 and xvii 185. He finds " indeed her self-possession(justified by 201ff.)is amusingly evident throughout this book".
Personally, I'm leaning toward Hainesworth's point of view. She gives many reasons why there is no need to fear this man and takes charge of the situation from line 198 on.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:14 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 2:42 pm
Question: what is the exact sense of δόσις δʼ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε? Does she mean that strangers and the poor are the gift?
I think the sense is 'what are small gifts for us to give would be very welcome for him to receive' (I think I've gone over my word limit with that translation). Good things may come in small packages. Merry says the scholia have ὀλίγη μὲν τῷ διδόντι, φίλη δὲ τῷ λαμβάνοντι. But I like your reading which reminds me of the parallels with Matthew 25:35-36 - I'm sure someone else will let us know if it's not allowed.

From the bit you've quoted - I'm aware βρῶσίν τε πόσιν τε is a very standard formula, but given the context is there any chance it could be heard as the Freudian slip "meat and husband"? I assume there must be some punning of πόσις/πόσις somewhere in the corpus.
Aetos wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:24 pm
Because of the loose syntax of these lines (perhaps mwh or hylander can weigh in on this), Stanford believes she is inwardly nervous and delivers this statement to give herself confidence. Here's his commentary for this week's lines:
https://archive.org/details/odysseystanford003
Hainesworth, on the other hand, says the loose syntax is "not untypical" and cites iii 103, viii 236, xiv 149 and xvii 185. He finds " indeed her self-possession(justified by 201ff.)is amusingly evident throughout this book".
Personally, I'm leaning toward Hainesworth's point of view. She gives many reasons why there is no need to fear this man and takes charge of the situation from line 198 on.
I forgot that the golden rule is always to read the commentaries first! Thanks for posting this, I don't have either - I was reading the Oxford commentary on Scribd for a while before they took it down and very much enjoying it (just not to the tune of £100 for three volumes). I agree with Hainesworth that Nausicaa is very self-possessed in Book 6, but thinking back to her being awkward with her father earlier I wonder if this being her first line makes it special. A kind of 'cough twice and make yourself sound important' moment.

Incidentally, Stanford mentions his punctuation at the end of line 187 - does he use a raised dot too?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by Aetos » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:03 pm

Hi Sean,
Rather than using the greek semi-colon (or colon, same mark), he uses what I believe is an em-dash. It's like an hyphen, except about 3 times longer and has the function of highlighting text. It can be used in place of a colon.
I posted the page on archive.org, so you can have a look:
https://archive.org/details/macmillanodyssey001
Here's the Hainesworth commentary for this week:
https://archive.org/details/hainesworthcommentary001

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by mwh » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:03 am

What I think should strike us about Nausicaa is her self-possession. That applies to her earlier interaction with her father too. Here the poet highlights the fact that unlike her maids she is not fazed in the slightest by Od’s appearance, and now that she responds to his supplication I don’t think there’s any hesitancy in her words; she's shown as very much in control of the situation. Her opening ξεῖν ̓, ἐπεὶ οὔτε κακῷ οὔτ ̓ ἄφρονι φωτὶ ἔοικας conveys her acknowledgment of his courtesy and civilized behaviour and her intention of giving a receptive reply, and the continuation (188-90) deftly absolves him of responsibility for his sorry state: it’s just what Zeus dished out to him (Agamemnon similarly shifts blame from himself in the Iliad; it’s a trope). She’s presented as considerate and tactful, and eminently marriageable.

If anything’s a “parenthesis” hereabouts, it’s the ἐπεὶ clause, which I’m inclined to read as properly elliptical: “since you seem to be a decent and sensible guy, [I’ll respond accordingly].” γάρ is often used in a similar sort of way. It typically follows the opening vocative. I wonder if δ ̓ after Ζεὺς in the next line is intrusive (as it often is). In any event, the sequence of thought is perfectly smooth.

I expect everyone registered the etiquette of supplication in last week's passage. Odysseus has no past favours towards Nausicaa to use to induce her compliance; he has no claim on her at all. In such circumstance all a suppliant can do is beg for pity (175)—and in lieu of even a prospective gift, a prayer that the gods give her her heart’s desires—viz., a man, and a happy union with him (180-185). Now in her reply (188ff.) Nausicaa avoids responding directly to that (her αιδως would restrain her, just as with her father earlier) by making the point that Zeus gives people fortune however he wishes—just as he has with poor Odysseus (to come full circle).

As to why she doesn’t ask him who he is, well, for one thing it would be impolite, and more than that, just think how much damage it would do to the poem. Homer defers the question for an exceptionally long time. He eventually lets Arete ask it in a multipart question (7.238, τίς πόθεν εἰς ἀνδρῶν; τίς ...), only to have Odysseus make Ogygia and Kalypso his starting-point. The revelation of his identity is held in reserve for when Alkinoos finally notices the effect that Demodokos’ song is having on him, hundreds of lines later (8.533, 550). Let's not forget that the poet's in charge.

Two final notes:
(1) The golden rule, of course, is never to look at commentaries first. But they can serve to quash some harebrained ideas. (And the scholia Sean quotes from Merry would have answered Barry’s question.)
(2) In my perversely puristic way I try to blind myself to the punctuation, though of course it does give an idea of how the editor is taking the text. Same with translation.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:51 pm

mwh wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:03 am
If anything’s a “parenthesis” hereabouts, it’s the ἐπεὶ clause, which I’m inclined to read as properly elliptical: “since you seem to be a decent and sensible guy, [I’ll respond accordingly].” γάρ is often used in a similar sort of way. It typically follows the opening vocative. I wonder if δ ̓ after Ζεὺς in the next line is intrusive (as it often is). In any event, the sequence of thought is perfectly smooth.
Thank you for offering up this reading, it's definitely more satisfying than leaving the 'since' out altogether. I'll admit though that if I was dramaturging this for the stage I'd be very tempted to have her glance at Odysseus' modesty branch after ἔοικας, take a moment to shake off that image and then say Ζεὺς (!) ☺️
mwh wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:03 am
As to why she doesn’t ask him who he is, well, for one thing it would be impolite, and more than that, just think how much damage it would do to the poem. Homer defers the question for an exceptionally long time. He eventually lets Arete ask it in a multipart question (7.238, τίς πόθεν εἰς ἀνδρῶν; τίς ...)
Impolite because he's a stranger, or because he's naked? Presumably not the former, given Telemachus asks the same question to Mentes/Athena just after he's met him/her (1.170 τίς πόθεν εἰς ἀνδρῶν;), but why does his being naked make it impolite? As for the damage to the poem, I don't buy this given Odysseus' record of lying about who he is. Surely a little white lie here wouldn't ruin the dramatic satisfaction of the big reveal later?
mwh wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:03 am
(1) The golden rule, of course, is never to look at commentaries first. But they can serve to quash some harebrained ideas.
Ha! In this case my golden rule was to look at the commentaries before posting my harebrained ideas to textkit as if I'd had an original thought.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:54 pm

Aetos wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:03 pm
Rather than using the greek semi-colon (or colon, same mark), he uses what I believe is an em-dash.
Aha! I found myself wishing for a dash.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:23 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:51 pm
Impolite because he's a stranger, or because he's naked? Presumably not the former, given Telemachus asks the same question to Mentes/Athena just after he's met him/her (1.170 τίς πόθεν εἰς ἀνδρῶν;), but why does his being naked make it impolite? As for the damage to the poem, I don't buy this given Odysseus' record of lying about who he is. Surely a little white lie here wouldn't ruin the dramatic satisfaction of the big reveal later?
A decent host will only ask his guest's name after he has eaten, and Homer says this explicitly, although I don't remember the passage(s) right now (but as mwh says, in the Phaeacian episode Odysseus revealing his name is delayed for an exceptionally long time, for the purpose of the story). In the Odyssey, the way in which a stranger is received is very standardized, and the poet describes these encounters with almost stereotypical formulas that are often repeated almost verbatim from one passage to the other; these are called "type-scenes" (other type-scenes are, for example, sacrifice, and in the Iliad arming scenes and duels). But it in the same time, there are subtle differences from one scene to another, and by paying attention to these differences you can make inferences about what kind of person the host is. I believe the Cyclops is, significantly, the only host who immediately wants to know the name of his guest, and his receiving Odysseus is more generally a perversion (or parody, as Seneca would say) of the host vs. guest type-scene.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:07 pm

Hi Paul! Welcome back from your cycling holiday 🚵‍♂️

Ah right, so it's when the question is asked that determines its impoliteness. That makes sense. Your thoughts chime with de Jong's comments on the Telemachus bit:
de Jong, A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey, p.26 wrote:The identification of the guest is a vital part of a Homeric visit, in that it guarantees the host reciprocal hospitality in the future. Only gods have no need of this ritual, because they always recognize each other (5.79– 80). Homeric etiquette requires a host to offer his guest a meal before asking him his name (and business). Consummate hosts like Telemachus (1.123– 4), Menelaus (4.60 –2), and Eumaeus (14.45–7) set their guests at ease by explicitly assuring them that they will ask after their name and/or business only after dinner. The bad host Polyphemus, upon seeing the Greeks, immediately asks them who they are (9.251–5). The anxious hostess Calypso immediately asks Hermes about his business, but receives an answer only after he has eaten (5.85–96). The bad host Antinous does not bother to ask ‘the beggar’/Odysseus for his name at all (17.365–410). The normal moment for the identification is at the opening of the after-dinner conversation (cf. 3.69–74; 16.54–9; 19.105), but in the Odyssey it is often transposed.
But to me this suggests that, having fed him (6.249), she should ask who he is to avoid being a bad host? Although as she's showing him the way to her father's palace she probably expects she will see him again and the need to exchange telephone numbers isn't quite so pressing.
Last edited by seanjonesbw on Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:19 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:07 pm
But to me this suggests that, having fed him (6.249), she should ask who he is to avoid being a bad host?
In short, no, I don't think it works that way. But I think that it would be untactful from Odysseus if he didn't tell his name at some stage before parting, because only that way he can potentially give reciprocal hospitality in the future, if the need arises. Note that it is also possible to be a bad guest in the Odyssey, the prime example being the suitors who abuse the hospitality of Odysseus' household.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:00 pm

Thanks Paul, I really do learn a lot from these threads, even though my own abilities as host leave much to be desired! Perhaps I should follow the Homeric example and always begin by feeding everyone to ensure reciprocal hospitality.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by mwh » Sun Aug 04, 2019 2:29 am

Thanks for justifying my “impolite,” Paul, and saving me the trouble of explaining hospitality protocols. I think I can take a back seat from now on.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:21 am

Michael your input is obviously hugely appreciated. I apologise if I stretch the limits of human patience with my basic questions - I am immensely grateful that those with so much experience and understanding stop by to give them thoughtful consideration beyond their due.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seneca2008 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:27 am

I wonder if the role of guest-friendship discussed here has been gender blind?

Is Nausicaa really in a position to offer guest-friendship? How could she reciprocate having no oikos of her own like all the other women (as opposed to gods and Demi-gods) in the Odyssey.

My doubts about this have been fuelled by reading this article by Hèlene Whittaker, "Gender roles in the Odyssey", In Berggreen, B.; Marinatos, N (eds.), Greece and Gender 1995: 29-41. https://digitalt.uib.no/bitstream/handl ... sequence=1

Whittaker observes that "All social relationships outside of the oikos are conducted by men. The institution of guest-friendship and gift-exchange made much of by Finley concerns men only and the normal sphere of women was the house which, as far as we know, they could not leave freely, but probably did so only in exceptional circumstances."

But Nausicaa encounters Odysseus by the sea, outside the oikos she belongs to, in a limbo where status is ambiguous and so perhaps the normal rules are in abeyance. By contrast when Telemachus meets Nestor by the sea he has decamped there with his whole oikos and sits with his sons feasting - in a sense the liminality of the Sea has been mitigated by this. I think the liminality of Nausicaa's situation allows her to speak to Odysseus but is it reasonable that she is engaging in an act of guest-friendship?

Another thing to bear in mind is that Nausicaa's self possession is implanted by Athena and it is through her that Nausicaa is embolden to speak:

139 οἴη δ ̓ Ἀλκινόου θυγάτηρ μένε· τῆ̣ γὰρ Ἀθήνη
140 θάρσος ἐνὶ φρεσὶ θῆκε καὶ ἐκ δέος εἵλετο γυίων.

Because of this and taking account of the otherness of Scherie I think we should be wary of trying to make Nausicaa conform. I think this episode invites us to question the limits and scope of guest-friendship.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:44 pm

A very insightful contribution and a very interesting article (which has also raised some questions for the coming weeks)!

Are your thoughts on the crossover between the liminal and the littoral your own observation or are you referring to something specific?

Something not explored in Whittaker's article but which I've found interesting in Homer is that, in terms of physical freedom, the shore represents for men a liminal space but for women a terminal one, unless they are being 'transported' by men, like Helen. So here we see Nausicaa coming to the shore and likely reaching the limit of where she is able to go unaccompanied by men. For Odysseus himself, of course, the shore has sometimes (physically) been liminal and at other times terminal, such as his stay on Ogygia. I wonder whether, if we take their traditional etymologies, his hopes are raised in this respect by hearing that there is a 'King Mighty Mind' in charge of this island but shaken slightly by hearing later his daughter is called 'Ship-burner' (6.276).
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:00 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:27 am
I think this episode invites us to question the limits and scope of guest-friendship.
It's worth noting that we don't just have the narrative here but also Odysseus' own interpretation of this event later at 7.292-6:

τὴν ἱκέτευσʼ· ἡ δʼ οὔ τι νοήματος ἤμβροτεν ἐσθλοῦ,
ὡς οὐκ ἂν ἔλποιο νεώτερον ἀντιάσαντα
ἐρξέμεν· αἰεὶ γάρ τε νεώτεροι ἀφραδέουσιν.
ἥ μοι σῖτον ἔδωκεν ἅλις ἠδʼ αἴθοπα οἶνον
καὶ λοῦσʼ ἐν ποταμῷ καί μοι τάδε εἵματʼ ἔδωκε.

We can certainly say Nausicaa appears to be acting very maturely in comparison with a normal young person (or that Odysseus is trying to butter up her parents by making her out as such). Is her νόημα ἐσθλόν just good manners, respecting her elders, or is she conforming to some deeper expectation here? Perhaps her actions could be interpreted as an imitation of the guest-friendship she has seen adults provide, even though she only has meagre supplies and a river instead of a hot bath (speaking of which, the "λοῦσʼ ἐν ποταμῷ" is interesting - third person, twisting the facts to make her look better, or first person? Odysseus seems to get away with both at the same time). I've warmed to your idea of parody in this section so maybe this is another example of women performing distorted versions of type-scenes normally associated with men.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by mwh » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:25 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:00 pm
the "λοῦσʼ ἐν ποταμῷ" is interesting - third person, twisting the facts to make her look better, or first person? Odysseus seems to get away with both at the same time
It's unambiguously 3rd person. The active is transitive. Also you can’t go switching from one person to another and back again without signaling the switch.
I wouldn't say that Od is "twisting the facts to make her look better." His words echo Nausicaa's orders to her maids in bk.6: ἀλλὰ δότ ̓, ἀμφίπολοι, ξείνῳ βρῶσίν τε πόσιν τε, | λούσατέ τ ̓ ἐν ποταμῷ (209f.). Of course she hadn't personally washed him (and nor had the maids, as it happened, since Od had asked for privacy), and Od doesn't mean to suggest that she had. (Her father would be shocked if she had.)

This discussion is getting quite silly I think. Nausikaa behaved exactly as she should (as did Odysseus), regardless of liminality. And she refers to Odysseus as a ξεῖνος from her very first word. The norms of xenia are firmly in place, and remain so throughout his stay.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seneca2008 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:11 am

seanjonesbw wrote:Are your thoughts on the crossover between the liminal and the littoral your own observation or are you referring to something specific?
The idea I am using here is based on my reading of the structuralist approach I encountered as an undergraduate reading for example "Myth and Tragedy" by Jean-Pierre Vernant and Pierre Vidal-Naquet. Whilst this book is concerned with tragedy its ideas, which have fed through into the work of many other scholars, has wide applicability. It is not doctrinaire unlike its critics. When I studied the Iliad it seemed natural to think in structuralist terms. I think it is helpful to have some way of talking about the space in which books 6 and 7 are set and how and why the spaces are imagined. I don't just mean physical space but gender and political space as well.

You make a good point about the limits to Nausicaa's freedom of movement through a liminal space but I think it is helpful to think about liminality also in less physical terms. Odysseus is passing through from one state ( ship wrecked, naked and with nothing but his wit) and will achieve status as an honoured guest. Nausicaa is likewise on the threshold of moving from unmarried parthenos to married life and membership of a different oikos. These transitions are fraught with difficulties and ambiguities. The very existence of the institution of Xenia presupposes the vulnerabilities of "a "guest", who is visiting a country where, as a stranger, he is deprived of all rights, of all protection, off all means of protection." (Benveniste 1969 in Nagy "The best of the Achaeans"). I find it important to keep in mind the dangers which are implied by the existence of Xenia and this leads me to view relations as more fragile, ambiguous and dangerous.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seneca2008 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:10 am

seanjonesbw wrote:It's worth noting that we don't just have the narrative here but also Odysseus' own interpretation of this event later at 7.292-6:

τὴν ἱκέτευσʼ· ἡ δʼ οὔ τι νοήματος ἤμβροτεν ἐσθλοῦ,
ὡς οὐκ ἂν ἔλποιο νεώτερον ἀντιάσαντα
ἐρξέμεν· αἰεὶ γάρ τε νεώτεροι ἀφραδέουσιν.
ἥ μοι σῖτον ἔδωκεν ἅλις ἠδʼ αἴθοπα οἶνον
καὶ λοῦσʼ ἐν ποταμῷ καί μοι τάδε εἵματʼ ἔδωκε.
Indeed we do although I am not sure what it really adds to our discussion of Xenia. Indeed, immediately following this we have 7.302-7 in which Odysseus falsifies his account of what happened by saying it was his idea not to come directly to Alcinous.

"τὸν δ᾿ ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφη πολύμητις Ὀδυσσεύς·
“ἥρως, μή τοι τοὔνεκ᾿ ἀμύμονα νείκεε κούρην·
ἡ μὲν γάρ μ᾿ ἐκέλευε σὺν ἀμφιπόλοισιν ἕπεσθαι,
ἀλλ᾿ ἐγὼ οὐκ ἔθελον δείσας αἰσχυνόμενός τε, 305
μή πως καὶ σοὶ θυμὸς ἐπισκύσσαιτο ἰδόντι·
δύσζηλοι γάρ τ᾿ εἰμὲν ἐπὶ χθονὶ φῦλ᾿ ἀνθρώπων.”

We can return to this when we discuss book 7 but whether you regard this as a simple inconsistency or a "tactful falsehood" as Hainsworth puts it, it is a reminder not to take what Odysseus says at face value.

In this context I would like to mention line 201:

201 οὐκ ἔσθ ̓ οὗτος ἀνὴρ διερὸς βροτὸς οὐδὲ γένηται,
202 ὅς κεν Φαιήκων ἀνδρῶν ἐς γαῖαν ἵκηται
203 δηϊοτῆτα φέρων· μάλα γὰρ φίλοι ἀθανάτοισιν.

I was interested to see that the Loeb translates διερὸς with its post homeric meaning (wet, liquid) as slippery.

"There is no mortal man so slippery, nor will there ever be one, as to come to the land of the Phaeacians bringing hostility, for we are very dear to the immortals."

Hainsworth observes on this line that "διερὸς: a notorious gloss." and explains the usual way of taking it.

Those who like to be "purist" deprive themselves here of the playful possibilities of turning this line into something perhaps more than it can bear, but which is to me irresistible. Whilst Odysseus may not be overtly hostile his visit is not without tragedy for those Phaeacians who are turned to stone.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:21 am

mwh wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:25 pm
It's unambiguously 3rd person. The active is transitive. Also you can’t go switching from one person to another and back again without signaling the switch.
I'm sorry I brought this up because it really is a ridiculously minor thing but you've got me interested now.

I don't dispute for a second that in its context λοῦσʼ ἐν ποταμῷ is 3rd person and it's impossible to take it any other way (I'm not suggesting a translation of 'and I washed myself'), but surely the situation here is a bit more complex than to say there's no ambiguity at all?

In both my example (7.296) and your example (6.210) we have λούω as active and transitive, but with an implied object in both cases (me/him) and an implied subject and elision at 7.296. Doesn't this necessarily make it more ambiguous than, say, "τὸν δʼ ἐπεὶ οὖν δμῳαὶ λοῦσαν" (8.454), where nothing is implied and there is no possibility of morphological ambiguity? Perhaps we mean something different by ambiguous.
mwh wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:25 pm
I wouldn't say that Od is "twisting the facts to make her look better." His words echo Nausicaa's orders to her maids in bk.6: ἀλλὰ δότ ̓, ἀμφίπολοι, ξείνῳ βρῶσίν τε πόσιν τε, | λούσατέ τ ̓ ἐν ποταμῷ (209f.). Of course she hadn't personally washed him (and nor had the maids, as it happened, since Od had asked for privacy), and Od doesn't mean to suggest that she had. (Her father would be shocked if she had.)
If the form isn't ambiguous, the meaning at least seems to be. The LSJ uses the line I quoted as its only example of λούω meaning "bathed me, i.e. let me bathe, 7.296;", stretching the outer limits of 'i.e.' - perhaps there are other examples not cited, but this seems like circular reasoning. The Greek clearly says "she bathed [me]", but because she didn't literally bathe him the definition shifts accordingly to him being allowed to bathe himself. How is Alkinoos supposed to pick up on this distinction without his copy of the LSJ to hand to let him know how it should be interpreted in the light of the previous book?
Last edited by seanjonesbw on Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:51 am

seneca2008 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:10 am
Indeed we do although I am not sure what it really adds to our discussion of Xenia.
Perhaps I misunderstood your original post. In my mind this ran:

Seneca: Nausicaa, as a young woman, is not in a position to provide xenia, which is limited in scope to men alone (Whittaker). Her hospitality and gift giving can only be considered as part of a suspension of norms in a liminal space.

Sean: Interesting!

Sean: In this later passage Odysseus suggests that she was unusually generous to him, and that more young people should act like her (young people these days!). I wonder if this suggests she is, in fact, engaging in xenia expected of her in spite of her lacking an oikos (broad definition of xenia) or perhaps this is just a kind of exceptional politeness (outside of the narrow definition of xenia implied by your first post).

New content: What separates Nausicaa's xenia/politeness from Alkinoos/Arete's xenia in the narrow definition appears to be her control of capital (*begins Marxist Feminist Odyssey Reading Group thread*) and her lack of expectation of reciprocation. But then maybe this is too transactional a way of thinking about it. I assume part of your original point is that when women are involved in xenia their work (weaving, bathing) is subsumed by men into their own process of guest-friendship, as opposed to these being freely-given by the women themselves in personal acts of xenia. I can't see any other way to interpret Whittaker's comment.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by Menoeceus » Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:10 am

seanjonesbw wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:21 am
I don't dispute for a second that in its context λοῦσʼ ἐν ποταμῷ is 3rd person and it's impossible to take it any other way (I'm not suggesting a translation of 'and I washed myself'), but surely the situation here is a bit more complex than to say there's no ambiguity at all?
I don't know about ambiguity, but I think this is pretty straightforwardly a causative active (Smyth 1711), like the phrase Caesar pontem fecit. I don't think that Odysseus means to suggest Nausicaa (who is the only possible subject of λοῦσʼ) may have washed him with her own hands, just as Caesar pontem fecit doesn't suggest Caesar held the bricks.

It's true that Odysseus doesn't clarify whether he or the slaves splashed the water onto his body, but I think the meaning of the verb λοῦσʼ is the same either way: Nausicaa said the right word, and a little while later Odysseus was clean. Maybe that's ambiguity, but it's no more ambiguity than any other time when a noble person 'washes' another person in epic.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seneca2008 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:32 pm

seanjonesbw wrote: seneca2008 wrote: ↑Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:10 am
Indeed we do although I am not sure what it really adds to our discussion of Xenia.
Perhaps I misunderstood your original post. In my mind this ran:
I don't think there was any misunderstanding. I did not mean to be dismissive of your post but it seemed to me not to contradict anything in my assertion that Nausicaa was not initiating a ritual of guest-friendship when she meets Odysseus. It is interesting that Odysseus indulges in the trope of "young people are so thoughtless" as a means of simultaneously marking himself and Alcinous as "thoughtful" and including Nausicaa in their group, although I would not want to over stress this. To my mind its a deft touch.

I don't want to get too ahead of our collective reading but it is significant that while Odysseus supplicates Arete (7.142 ff. ) for onward passage, everyone looks to Alcinous to give Odysseus a seat at the feast and thereby accept his supplication. (Prompted by Echeneüs in an interesting parallel with Nestor receiving Telemachus). I think this adds force to my argument that women do not contract guest friendships, despite partaking in parts of the ritual such as Nausicaa's gift of clothes and Arete asking, fruitlessly as it appears, Odysseus for his name (7.237-9).

There is something to be learned from this approach to strangers. If Odysseus had landed in the UK he would have been taken to a detention centre and subjected to a lengthy legal process. His desire to be repatriated would however have made him popular with the authorities although he would still have faced discrimination and outright hostility. No friendly welcome here I am afraid.

Perhaps we do need a Marxist Feminist Odyssey Reading Group thread! :D But I think we can use many different ideologies to understand the Odyssey and it is best to integrate them into a broad approach even if that causes difficulties and contradictions. I only wish that those who object to this approach would see that they too are mobilising their own ideologies while at the same time claiming to be "transparent".

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 186-210

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:28 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:32 pm
His desire to be repatriated would however have made him popular with the authorities
I laughed out loud at this! Gods this country is in a shabby state.
Menoeceus wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:10 am
I don't know about ambiguity, but I think this is pretty straightforwardly a causative active
Hi Menoeceus! Welcome to textkit, and thanks for contributing to the group.

I'm going to leave replying to this properly until we reach the line itself because it's become a massive deviation from this week's reading (my own fault), but I've checked every instance of λούω in Homer and I can't find an active indicative example of the subject definitively not also being the 'bath attendant' as you suggest, so I cleave to my reading for now. Mwh's objection that Alkinoos would be shocked by the idea of Nausicaa bathing him is a debate in itself, though as always I'm sure he has good reasons.

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