Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

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Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:44 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 19th July) we’ll be reading Book 6 Lines 141-159 - Harvey Winesea
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:50 am

117 αἱ δ ̓ ἐπὶ μακρὸν ἄϋσαν· ὁ δ ̓ ἔγρετο δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς, 118 ἑζόμενος δ ̓ ὅρμαινε κατὰ φρένα καὶ κατὰ θυμόν· 119 “ὤ μοι ἐγώ, τέων αὖτε βροτῶν ἐς γαῖαν ἱκάνω; 120 ἦ ῥ ̓ οἵ γ ̓ ὑβρισταί τε καὶ ἄγριοι οὐδὲ δίκαιοι, 121 ἦε φιλόξεινοι καί σφιν νόος ἐστὶ θεουδής; 122 ὥς τέ με κουράων ἀμφήλυθε θῆλυς ἀϋτή· 123 νυμφάων, αἳ ἔχουσ ̓ ὀρέων αἰπεινὰ κάρηνα 124 καὶ πηγὰς ποταμῶν καὶ πίσεα ποιήεντα. 125 ἦ νύ που ἀνθρώπων εἰμὶ σχεδὸν αὐδηέντων; 126 ἀλλ ̓ ἄγ ̓, ἐγὼν αὐτὸς πειρήσομαι ἠδὲ ἴδωμαι.” 127 ὣς εἰπὼν θάμνων ὑπεδύσετο δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς, 128 ἐκ πυκινῆς δ ̓ ὕλης πτόρθον κλάσε χειρὶ παχείῃ 129 φύλλων, ὡς ῥύσαιτο περὶ χροῒ μήδεα φωτός. 130 βῆ δ ̓ ἴμεν ὥς τε λέων ὀρεσίτροφος ἀλκὶ πεποιθώς, 131 ὅς τ ̓ εἶσ ̓ ὑόμενος καὶ ἀήμενος, ἐν δέ οἱ ὄσσε 132 δαίεται· αὐτὰρ ὁ βουσὶ μετέρχεται ἢ ὀΐεσσιν 133 ἠὲ μετ ̓ ἀγροτέρας ἐλάφους· κέλεται δέ ἑ γαστὴρ 134 μήλων πειρήσοντα καὶ ἐς πυκινὸν δόμον ἐλθεῖν· 135 ὣς Ὀδυσεὺς κούρῃσιν ἐϋπλοκάμοισιν ἔμελλε 136 μίξεσθαι, γυμνός περ ἐών· χρειὼ γὰρ ἵκανε. 137 σμερδαλέος δ ̓ αὐτῇσι φάνη κεκακωμένος ἅλμῃ, 138 τρέσσαν δ ̓ ἄλλυδις ἄλλη ἐπ ̓ ἠϊόνας προὐχούσας· 139 οἴη δ ̓ Ἀλκινόου θυγάτηρ μένε· τῆ̣ γὰρ Ἀθήνη 140 θάρσος ἐνὶ φρεσὶ θῆκε καὶ ἐκ δέος εἵλετο γυίων.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:00 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:50 am
120 ἦ ῥ ̓ οἵ γ ̓ ὑβρισταί τε καὶ ἄγριοι οὐδὲ δίκαιοι, 121 ἦε φιλόξεινοι καί σφιν νόος ἐστὶ θεουδής;
(these two lines are also found at Od.9.175-6, not as a question)

In Fagles's translation:
What are they here—violent, savage, lawless?
or friendly to strangers, god-fearing men?
Something I found particularly compelling when I first read the Iliad was that the Achaeans were the ones who came across as 'violent, savage, lawless' and the Trojans as 'god-fearing men', and in the Odysseus of the Odyssey we have an antihero of Humbert Humbert proportions, who shocks 21st century morals with his killing spree later on even if we've been charmed by his tales.

Does Odysseus ask his question in lines 120-121 with any flicker of moral judgement - does he aspire to θεουδής? - or simply because he knows that he'll have an easier time with the φιλόξεινοι than the ὑβρισταί?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by Aetos » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:36 am

I'm going with simple here: "Where have I landed this time? Is it going to be the bad guys or the good guys?" I think the effect of these lines is to provide a bit of humour, which is not an unknown phenomenon in Homer. He employs it regularly when describing the interplay of the gods. Here's a snippet from the Paul Storey article, "The pathos and humour of αὖ", Classical Philology, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Jul., 1928), pp. 285-287:
"The passionate, sometimes comic, counterpart of this sentimental αὖ is the angry or impatient αὖ in the face of a recurrent annoyance. That, too, is first found in Homer. Odysseus, when he awakes in Phaeacia (Odyssey vi. 119) and again in Ithaka (Odyssey xiii. 200) exclaims, “ὤ μοι ἐγώ, τέων αὖτε βροτῶν ἐς γαῖαν ἱκάνω;The formula expresses his and the reader's sense of his persistent persecution by fate with ever new trials-what is it this time? Mr. Shewan, I think, misses this shade of meaning when in Classical Philology (Vol. XIII, p. 326), he interprets Odysseus' first words on awakening in Scheria as an expression of Odysseus' feeling that after long traversing of the μέγα λαῖτμα, he is back to civilized humankind. As the context shows (ὤ μοιand ὀλοφυρόμενος, Odyssey xiii. 200) Odysseus is thinking of his past misfortunes and exclaims "What is it now?".The locus classicus for this usage is Io's "There's that gad-fly again" in the Prometheus of Aeschylus (566). The usage is very common and the examples range from a very slight to a comic intensity of emphasis."

P.S. This is not original research on my part. This article is cited by Stanford in his notes.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:39 pm

Aetos wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:36 am
I'm going with simple here: "Where have I landed this time? Is it going to be the bad guys or the good guys?"
'Bad' - or bad for him? (and 'good' - or good for him?). I get the impression that Odysseus doesn't much care except that they present another obstacle/threat or provide a means of getting home. I'd be interested to know if there's any instance of Odysseus avoiding doing something that would further his nostos because he thinks it's 'wrong'.

Whether he identifies himself and his γένος with the "φιλόξεινοι καί σφιν νόος ἐστὶ θεουδής", or the other lot, I find much less clear. Telemachus seems to care much more about this than Odysseus himself.
Aetos wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:36 am
"The passionate, sometimes comic, counterpart of this sentimental αὖ is the angry or impatient αὖ in the face of a recurrent annoyance. That, too, is first found in Homer. Odysseus, when he awakes in Phaeacia (Odyssey vi. 119) and again in Ithaka (Odyssey xiii. 200) exclaims, “ὤ μοι ἐγώ, τέων αὖτε βροτῶν ἐς γαῖαν ἱκάνω;The formula expresses his and the reader's sense of his persistent persecution by fate with ever new trials-what is it this time?
...
As the context shows (ὤ μοιand ὀλοφυρόμενος, Odyssey xiii. 200) Odysseus is thinking of his past misfortunes and exclaims "What is it now?".
The contrast between Odysseus' "ὤ μοι ἐγώ", full of self-pity, and Job's "ἐάν τε γὰρ ἀσεβὴς ὦ οἴμμοι" (10:15) or the "οἴμοι, οἴμοι, οἴμοι εἰς ἡμέραν" of Joel 1:15 is interesting. Odysseus seems to say "Oy vey - what next!", while Job is agonising over how to resolve his punishment with his own self-perception as sinless. 'Woe is Job' because he feels his distance from his unquestionably good God, but 'Woe is Odysseus' because he feels like he's been shafted by the gods.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by Aetos » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:59 pm

I think it's safe to say that Odysseus can expect further hindrance from the bad guys or assistance from the good guys, so in that sense, yes, the presence of either group could have an impact on his personal situation. As far as identifying himself with one side or the other, you're right: it's unclear; however, considering "his" choice of words to describe his potential friends or enemies, I would say he looks favourably upon people who show φιλοξενία and θεούδεια and at the very least warily at those who are characterised by ὕβρις,ἀγριότης, ἀδικία, the former being almost requisite virtues in his world while the latter constitute bad behaviour. (We'll see ὑβρισταί used again to describe the suitors in Book 24:282). I can't imagine him not having respect for the gods in an age where this was the chief means of preventing cruel behaviour and the protection of ξένους was a function attributed to Zeus. However, if there's one thing we know about Odysseus, it's that he is a pragmatic soul.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:28 pm

Aetos wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:59 pm
I would say he looks favourably upon people who show φιλοξενία and θεούδεια and at the very least warily at those who are characterised by ὕβρις,ἀγριότης, ἀδικία, the former being almost requisite virtues in his world while the latter constitute bad behaviour. (We'll see ὑβρισταί used again to describe the suitors in Book 24:282). I can't imagine him not having respect for the gods in an age where this was the chief means of preventing cruel behaviour and the protection of ξένους was a function attributed to Zeus.
Part of what I find so beguiling about Odysseus is that, you're right, in Homer we are constantly reminded of the importance that certain characters place on hospitality - a big deal is made out of the way Nestor and Menelaus receive Telemachus - but we don't ever seem to get Odysseus himself representing these virtues. In fact, he's kind of a leech on this guest culture, constantly relying on other people to provide for him.

Odysseus in Philoctetes (607) is "ὁ πάντ᾽ ἀκούων αἰσχρὰ καὶ λωβήτ᾽ ἔπη" ("whose repute is all shame and dishonor" - Jebb) - he pays lip service to φιλία and ξενία and expects others to act in line with these virtues when it's useful to him, but he doesn't hold himself to the same standards if it's not useful for him to do so.

It can make reading the Odyssey feel a bit like an extended exercise in how it's possible to root for someone who's a complete jerk, but a funny and clever one (cf. British politics).
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by Aetos » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:01 pm

Perhaps this will make you feel better about Odysseus- this is Stanford's description of O. in his introduction:

"Odysseus: one of the fullest and most versatile characters in literature: a symbol of the Ionic-Greek Everyman in his eloquence, cleverness, unscrupulousness, intellectual curiosity, courage, endurance, shrewdness. He is no model of moral integrity, but a realistic mixture of good and bad. He is seen at his best in his loyalty to his companions."

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:03 am

"Tony Soprano: one of the fullest and most versatile characters in television: a symbol of the Italian-American Everyman in his eloquence, cleverness, unscrupulousness, intellectual curiosity, courage, endurance, shrewdness. He is no model of moral integrity, but a realistic mixture of good and bad. He is seen at his best in his loyalty to his companions."

Quite a good summary, although I take exception to Stanford calling him loyal to his companions - he treats his crew like patsies and cannon fodder so often that I'd avoid him like the plague - and poor old Ajax!

I don't want to seem like I'm ragging on Odysseus here. He's a rich tapestry that you find new things in whenever you return to him. It's just interesting that he seems to appeal to modern sensibilities more than to ancient ones (if Attic representations and survival of manuscripts are any yardstick, which admittedly they might not be). A man who places his own happiness at the centre of his moral world, and achieves that happiness only by impressing himself with his intelligence and skill - he would have liked Ayn Rand, I think, though that may not have been mutual.

He does seem to love his dog, though.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:50 am

seanjonesbw wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:03 am
He does seem to love his dog, though.
Speaking of which - as a fellow lover of dogs, I've always found that bit in Book 17 when Argos recognises Odysseus before he dies completely devastating.

The pathos is beautiful, but I'll admit I was delighted to find there's a medieval Irish retelling of the Odyssey (cribbed from the Aeneid, only 10 pages long and with a medieval folk motif stuck in the middle) called Merugud Uilix Maic Leirtis - The Wandering of Ulysses MacLaertes - where Argos (now female) is used as a test to see if he's the real Odysseus.
Kuno Meyer's translation wrote:And when she heard the sound of Ulixes' voice, she gave a pull at the chain, so that she sent the four men on their back through the house behind her, and she sprang the breast of Ulixes and licked his face and his countenance.
Broke my sentimental little heart.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seneca2008 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:18 am

seanjonesbw wrote:I don't want to seem like I'm ragging on Odysseus here. He's a rich tapestry that you find new things in whenever you return to him. It's just interesting that he seems to appeal to modern sensibilities more than to ancient ones (if Attic representations and survival of manuscripts are any yardstick, which admittedly they might not be). A man who places his own happiness at the centre of his moral world, and achieves that happiness only by impressing himself with his intelligence and skill - he would have liked Ayn Rand, I think.
The "negative" way in which Odysseus is portrayed in Tragedy is I think a far cry from the Odysseus of Homer. Homeric heroes are problematic in democratic Athens and may be seen, in part, to illustrate the problem of assimilating "great men" into the polis. Odysseus the schemer (central to the deceptions in Philoctetes and for whom "winning one's case is the only adequate criterion for speech-making" [Goldhill] ) is more easily seen as a sophist so problematic in Athens.

It is not surprising that Odysseus is portrayed as the recipient of Guest-friendship as well as its reverse with the eg the Cyclops. He is not on a trip round the world for his pleasure he is trying to get home. Even when he gets home he continues to rely on "Guest-friendship" where dressed as a beggar he is received by Eumaios. (see the interesting discussion in Nagy "The best of the Achaeans" p 232-34).

I am not sure I follow the your criticism of Odysseus as "A man who places his own happiness at the centre of his moral world, and achieves that happiness only by impressing himself with his intelligence and skill." Homeric heroes are driven by the need to maximise their honour. Perhaps Odysseus represents the compromises that have to be made to ensure survival. Ajax famously couldn't compromise and had to kill himself. Whilst Odysseus is not averse to pleasure I don't see him achieving "that happiness only by impressing himself with his intelligence and skill." Do you really think that Odysseus is trying to impress himself? Or have I misunderstood what you are trying to say.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by Aetos » Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:22 am

Odysseus-Mafia Don? Not having watched The Sopranos, I will take it that Tony Soprano embodies these qualities applied by Stanford to Odysseus. I don't know enough about the series to accept or reject the notion, but if Tony Soprano is an archetypical mafia don, then I can't see Odysseus being that ruthless. Odysseus is ruthless, yes, but to the extent that like every leader, he doesn't shrink from making the difficult decisions. I'd like to write more, but this is my Herodotus hour, soon to be followed by my Homer hour (Iliad), then Dickey, then Vergil, then Livy, so I'll try to add some thoughts this afternoon.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seneca2008 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:25 am

119 “ὤ μοι ἐγώ, τέων αὖτε βροτῶν ἐς γαῖαν ἱκάνω;
120 ἦ ῥ ̓ οἵ γ ̓ ὑβρισταί τε καὶ ἄγριοι οὐδὲ δίκαιοι,
121 ἦε φιλόξεινοι καί σφιν νόος ἐστὶ θεουδής;
122 ὥς τέ με κουράων ἀμφήλυθε θῆλυς ἀϋτή·
123 νυμφάων, αἳ ἔχουσ ̓ ὀρέων αἰπεινὰ κάρηνα
124 καὶ πηγὰς ποταμῶν καὶ πίσεα ποιήεντα.
I don't find any trace of self pity in Odysseus's cry of "ὤ μοι ἐγώ". He is taken aback by the sounds he hears and lacks a Caliban (!!) to reassure him "Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not."

I think his exclamation has to be interpreted in the context of the preceding simile and the following lines 122-4. Perhaps there is humour here as has been suggested but given the association we have had with Artemis and her nymphs in the preceding simile there is clearly a sense of danger. So far things have not gone well for Odysseus why would he assume everything will go well this time. It is interesting that the translation in the Chicago Homer underlines the sense of danger by replacing the "voices" which others understand in 122 with "a female battle cry". Here be Amazons? Artemis is perhaps terrifying enough.

Sean I am not sure how you understand "θεουδής" but if you take it as "god-fearing" what do you mean by Odysseus "aspiring" to it.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by jeidsath » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:04 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:25 am
It is interesting that the translation in the Chicago Homer underlines the sense of danger by replacing the "voices" which others understand in 122 with "a female battle cry". Here be Amazons? Artemis is perhaps terrifying enough.
What else would ἀϋτή mean here? Especially after 120.

The Greeks really have no shortage of myths about savage and murderous females. It's almost the central motif. It makes you wonder what drove it. In Homer it seems much more present in the Odyssey than the Iliad though.

Edit: Google seems to indicate that "Chicago Homer" is just Lattimore interleaved with Perseus.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:12 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:04 pm
Edit: Google seems to indicate that "Chicago Homer" is just Lattimore interleaved with Perseus.
The Iliad is Lattimore, the Odyssey is James Huddleston (me neither - apparently he was a database designer whose first love was classics so he translated in his spare time. I'm not sure this is a published translation).

Lattimore's translation here is

See now / how an outcry of young women echoes about me

I'll leave you both to the discussion about ἀϋτή as I'm not quite sure what the problem is (both seem fine to me). Seneca I'll respond to your smorgasbord of questions as soon as I can!
Aetos wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:22 am
I'd like to write more, but this is my Herodotus hour, soon to be followed by my Homer hour (Iliad), then Dickey, then Vergil, then Livy, so I'll try to add some thoughts this afternoon.
Glad to see you're getting your 5 A Day, Aetos!
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by jeidsath » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:07 pm

Seneca was objecting to Pope's version (I think) with ἀϋτή as "voice". Unless he was thinking of another translator.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by Paul Derouda » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:19 pm

αυτη "female battle cry” - that’s definitely to the point here, I hadn’t thought about it that way before. There is definitely a sense of danger here, Artemis roaming around with her nymphs (as suggested by the preceding simile) should definitely inspire awe in mortals, even a hero like Odysseus. But I think there is some humor here as well, this still belongs to what Seneca called a parody of heroic action, because we, the audience, know that it’s just girls playing.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by mwh » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:10 am

I'm not sure that ἀυτή means a battle-cry outside of Iliadic-type battle context. I'd read κουράων θῆλυς ἀυτή much less menacingly. Certainly the nymphs of the next two verses hook up with Artemis' nymphs in last week's extended simile, but that depicted a perfectly happy and playful scene (I may have overstressed the ?discordant note of the boars there). When the princess's ball-throw went into the water, her handmaids ἄυσαν (117)—no battle-cry that! That was the θῆλυς ἀυτή that woke Odysseus up. (Do translations convey that ἀυτή echoes ἄυσαν, its cognate?) Nothing threatening about it—except perhaps to Odysseus, who has learnt to fear the worst.

The girly shrieks—or is it merely his finding himself in a strange land?—trigger his
ὤ μοι ἐγώ, τέων αὖτε βροτῶν ἐς γαῖαν ἱκάνω;
which is a very Odysseus-y thing to say—his unfailingly pessimistic or even despairing response to unprepared-for events. Don't we have to read ὤ μοι ἐγώ in the same way as in all the earlier occurrences? In the previous book, when Poseidon stepped in to disrupt his hitherto troublefree voyage to Phaeacia and whips up a storm:
ὤ μοι ἐγὼ δειλός, τί νύ μοι μήκιστα γένηται; (5.299);
again when he characteristically and wrongly suspects Leucothea of δόλος, his own speciality:
ὤ μοι ἐγώ, μή τίς μοι ὑφαίνῃσιν δόλον αὖτε (356, note αὖτε—he knows the pattern);
and yet again, most tellingly, when he finally succeeds in making it onto shore:
ὤ μοι ἐγώ, τί πάθω; τί νύ μοι μήκιστα γένηται; (465, cf. ὤ μοι 408).

And now here in bk.6 once again, as he wakes up, he is still not a happy bunny—he fears he may have landed among uncivilized folk (unlike himself, natch):
ὤ μοι ἐγώ, τέων αὖτε βροτῶν ἐς γαῖαν ἱκάνω;
ἦ ῥ᾽ οἵ γ᾽ ὑβρισταί τε καὶ ἄγριοι οὐδὲ δίκαιοι,
ἦε φιλόξεινοι καί σφιν νόος ἐστὶ θεουδής;

These three verses are less effective here than the same verses are in bk.13 (200-202), where he fails to recognize his own homeland. That strikes me as an exceptionally good example of Homeric humour (and dramatic irony), to have him finally reach his longed-for final destination and not know it. And then, of course, he's not recognized himself. He always knows who he is, but others do not—like Athena.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:38 am

mwh wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:10 am
When the princess's ball-throw went into the water, her handmaids ἄυσαν (117)—no battle-cry that! That was the θῆλυς ἀυτή that woke Odysseus up. (Do translations convey that ἀυτή echoes ἄυσαν, its cognate?) Nothing threatening about it—except perhaps to Odysseus, who has learnt to fear the worst.
Michael makes a good point about the echoing of ἄυσαν and ἀυτή - it's important to note that between these two words there's a hard shift in focalisation from Athena watching/influencing Nausicaa and those with her to Odysseus' perspective at line 119. The Greek implies that the same sound (αὔω/ἀυτή rather than, say, βοή) is perceived in both focalisations, and any English translation that uses the same verb/noun pair will struggle to shift the perceived sound from "yelp you make when you lose a ball in the river" and "battle cry" on the context alone.

Something like "bellowed" is too strong for the former and something like "yelp" too weak for the latter, so if you really believe Odysseus is hearing a battle cry in his confusion, then you have to translate them differently. The Chicago Homer translation that has "female battle cry" has "shouted at length" for ἄυσαν. Alternatively, I think you could argue that Athena has caused them to throw the ball into the pool at 116 and so she might also make them let out an unusually ferocious cry to make sure Odysseus wakes up. This seems like a bit of a stretch though here - lines 123-4 and "ἀμφήλυθε" at 122 suggest to me something more like awe at unknown sounds in the woods surrounding you (like the passage from the Tempest that Seneca mentions) than a nearby battle cry.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:39 am

Seneca:

“Homeric heroes are driven by the need to maximise their honour.”

You make this sound like a video game where you have an ‘honour meter’ in the top left corner that you need to fill up. I think deep-browed Homer is capable of giving his heroes more than one motivation. You could say that heroes of chivalric romance are driven by the need to maximise their nobility, but we still have Reynard the Fox.

Odysseus seems to me to fulfil the Jungian role of the trickster much better than that of the hero, and the Odyssey sets up a series of challenges which he overcomes through his smarts and charm, flouting normal rules of courageous action (even though he is ‘brave’ when he needs to be). I mentioned Job above - what is the difference between the way they approach their trials? Job is in agony because his fidelity to God is being implicitly questioned by his punishments. Odysseus takes pleasure in overcoming the challenges he’s presented with, because they’re an opportunity to show how clever/skilful/strong he is, even if he does truly want to get home at the end of it.

What raises Odysseus above a Reynard or Br’er Rabbit as a character is this depth of feeling for his family - we really do feel how much he wants to get back to them (and his dog). What is remarkable is the lack of moral sense he displays with respect to everyone else.

Consider another of Odysseus’ ὤ μοι ἐγὼ moments (Il. 11.404-6)

ὤ μοι ἐγὼ τί πάθω; μέγα μὲν κακὸν αἴ κε φέβωμαι
πληθὺν ταρβήσας: τὸ δὲ ῥίγιον αἴ κεν ἁλώω
μοῦνος: τοὺς δ᾽ ἄλλους Δαναοὺς ἐφόβησε Κρονίων

He’s faced with the μέγα κακὸν of being a coward, and has the opportunity to ‘maximise his honour’, but tellingly thinks it is ῥίγιον to stay and fight than to run away. This seems to me typical of Odysseus. He’s happy to let others be the hero, to say “this is the hill I am willing to die on”, but pragmatically has no moral line which he is unwilling to cross to survive.

I don’t judge him for it, and I can’t say I would do any differently - I thought it was a very powerful moment in Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old when they talked about how you were considered a coward for dropping in a shell hole in no man’s land, but all of the people being interviewed were alive because they had done exactly that.

For some characters in Homer, an honourable death is the pinnacle of life, but for Odysseus getting one over on others and being lauded for it is the height of achievement. In doing so, he impresses himself. Maybe at another time we could talk about whether Odysseus is 'hacking' the shame culture of the Homeric world by tricking others into thinking he's heroic.

Re θεουδής - I do take it as god-fearing, but then I take god-fearing as meaning pious or godly not 'fearing god'. Surely something one might aspire to?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seneca2008 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:21 am

jeidsath wrote:Seneca was objecting to Pope's version (I think) with ἀϋτή as "voice". Unless he was thinking of another translator.
I am not objecting to any translation.

This is the only occurrence of ἀϋτή in the Odyssey as compared to 24 in the Iliad (according to the Chicago Homer analysis) and this informs how I read this line.

The Murray/Dimock Loeb has "There rang in my ears a cry as of maidens..." and Wilson has "I heard the sound of female voices." Green has "An outcry of women—young girls—just echoed round about me:" and Rieu “There’s a shrill echo in my ears, as though some girls were shrieking – Nymphs”.

These translations (which I had to hand) seemed to me to be silent on the Illadic allusion and I thought it was noteworthy. There is a spectrum here from voices/cry/outcry/ shrieking to "battle cry". The line neatly illustrates the difficulty of translating a text which is so rich. The balance between strangeness and danger is difficult to capture, which is what made me think of the Tempest. Untranslated the poetry can remain ambiguous and allusive, in English decisions about meaning are made and some of the ambiguity is lost.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seneca2008 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:47 am

seanjonesbw wrote:Odysseus seems to me to fulfil the Jungian role of the trickster much better than that of the hero, and the Odyssey sets up a series of challenges which he overcomes through his smarts and charm, flouting normal rules of courageous action (even though he is ‘brave’ when he needs to be).
I am interested in your suggestion of a Jungian reading and will add this to my list of things to think about in the future.

Although we express ourselves differently I see you agree with me that " Perhaps Odysseus represents the compromises that have to be made to ensure survival."

What I still don't follow is why you say "Odysseus takes pleasure in overcoming the challenges he’s presented with...". I think he is shrewdly calculating in a way that say Achilles seems incapable. Achilles is obsessed with his honour at the cost of his allies, friends and lover and ultimately his own life. I think you have a more sentimental approach to Odysseus and whilst I don't share this I can understand why.

Homer interrogates Heroic Values and we will all provide our own solutions or just a list of further questions.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by Aetos » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:30 am

Glad to see you're getting your 5 A Day, Aetos!
I think of it as my Mediterranean Diet!
Concerning ἀυτή:
I didn't want the week to go by without mentioning another aspect of the phrase this word appears in - "ἀμφήλυθε θῆλυς ἀυτή". I've been reading Nagler's Spontaneity and Tradition and in the very first chapter, he mentions this phrase which was originally used by Parry to illustrate the resemblance of phrases playing a role in the production of new phrases.
There is not only the matter of sense, but that of sound. In the matter of sense, he reminds us that we must understand that the generation of an oral formula reflects the poet's worldview (not our own) and in this case, his perception of "the suffusion of sound and odor through their respective media". 'ἀμφήλυθε' has the sense of spreading in the same way as smell.
'θῆλυς ἀυτή' is referred to by Hainesworth in his notes as an "acoustic echo". While there is no other instance of ἀυτή in the Odyssey, there are similar sounding phrases, such as "ἀμφήλυθεν ἡδὺς ἀυτμή" (Od. 12.369)which could have prompted the poet to produce the phrase in 6.122.
Anyway, I'm late for Herodotus, so I'll leave it to Michael to perhaps shed some light or give a clearer explanation on this idea. BTW, Nagler's book is fascinating, but a bit like wading through treacle; however, that's probably more due to my experience level than the quality of his exposition.
EDIT: It appears that ἀυτή appears 4 times in the Odyssey (6.122,11.383,14.265,and 17.434)
Last edited by Aetos on Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by jeidsath » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:27 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:21 am
The Murray/Dimock Loeb has "There rang in my ears a cry as of maidens..." and Wilson has "I heard the sound of female voices." Green has "An outcry of women—young girls—just echoed round about me:" and Rieu “There’s a shrill echo in my ears, as though some girls were shrieking – Nymphs”.
Of these, Wilson's error is surprising to me, given her chick thing. Thank you again for pointing it out.
seneca2008 wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:21 am
This is the only occurrence of ἀϋτή in the Odyssey as compared to 24 in the Iliad (according to the Chicago Homer analysis) and this informs how I read this line.
You may want to be careful with that web app. It's wrong here, and misinformed you.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:04 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:47 am
Although we express ourselves differently I see you agree with me that " Perhaps Odysseus represents the compromises that have to be made to ensure survival."
I do agree with this - my original question at the top of the thread was whether Odysseus is self-aware about his moral state, including the compromises he makes. Michael says above "he fears he may have landed among uncivilized folk (unlike himself, natch)". His own self-perception is what I'm most interested in. When we get to book 9 sometime in 2035 we can talk more about what his own self-presentation says about him.
seneca2008 wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:47 am
What I still don't follow is why you say "Odysseus takes pleasure in overcoming the challenges he’s presented with...".
The bit just after he's boffed Polyphemus in the eye is a good example of what I mean.

9.413-4
ὣς ἄρ᾽ ἔφαν ἀπιόντες, ἐμὸν δ᾽ ἐγέλασσε φίλον κῆρ,
ὡς ὄνομ᾽ ἐξαπάτησεν ἐμὸν καὶ μῆτις ἀμύμων.

Fagles (I have a pdf so it's easy to copy and paste)
They lumbered off, but laughter filled my heart
to think how nobody’s name—my great cunning stroke— had duped them one and all.

As this is part of his own retelling of his tale, you could read it a number of different ways: something he's added in to show how he wasn't afraid, a simple sign of relief, amusement at an unexpected outcome. I read it as perversely delighting in his own ingenuity during his retelling (given the context of two gobbled-up comrades).
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seneca2008 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:02 pm

jeidsath wrote:Of these, Wilson's error is surprising to me, given her chick thing. Thank you again for pointing it out.
I don't regard it as an error and I don't like your language.

jeidsath wrote:You may want to be careful with that web app. It's wrong here, and misinformed you.
Thank you. I fear whatever the shortcomings of the app I misread the results. There are a further three instances in the Odyssey. This seems to be the same result I got from a search of TLG. These four are mentioned in Cunliffe.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seneca2008 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:02 pm

The bit just after he's boffed Polyphemus in the eye is a good example of what I mean.
I would take this as an instance of laughing at the distress of one's enemies, but I can see that it can be interpreted as Odysseus being very self satisfied.

Halliwell (Greek Laughter 2008) makes the point in commenting on the contrast between Odysseus's and the suitors' laughter that (my underlined emphasis added):

"He does, however, inwardly exult over the blindness manifested by the suitors’ congratulatory prayer (18.117), just as his ‘heart laughed’ at his success in tricking the Cyclops into believing his false name (9.413, in sharp contrast to the Cyclops’ own groans, 415), and just as we shall later be told how he ‘gave a very sardonic smile in his heart (thumos)’ when he avoided the cow’s foot thrown at him by Ctesippus (20.301–2). The cautious internalisation of pleasure, as highlighted by the paradoxical imagery of inward laughter/smiling, is an index of Odyssean cunning and forbearance. It forms a telling contrast to the raucous laughter of the suitors."

So according to Halliwell the nature of Odysseus's laughter serves to highlight the difference between Odysseus and the Cyclops and the suitors. I find this more complex way of reading the laughter more satisfying than either my simple laughing at the distress of one's enemies (perhaps I was thinking too much of Medea here) or your delight in his own ingenuity. Although of course its not incompatible with either reading.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by mwh » Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:00 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:38 am
ἄυσαν and ἀυτή - it's important to note that between these two words there's a hard shift in focalisation from Athena watching/influencing Nausicaa and those with her to Odysseus' perspective at line 119.
Really? ἄυσαν is narratorial, “objective,” and κουράων θῆλυς ἀυτή is what Odysseus hears. The two exactly correspond, and the focalization of the latter (if that's how we choose to regard it) makes no difference to how the sound is described or to how Odysseus perceives it.

seneca2008 wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:21 am
I am not objecting to any translation.
There’s the difference between us. You object to none because they’re all acts of reception. I object to all because they all distort the Greek. Traduttori traditori.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:24 pm

mwh wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:00 pm
seanjonesbw wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:38 am
ἄυσαν and ἀυτή - it's important to note that between these two words there's a hard shift in focalisation from Athena watching/influencing Nausicaa and those with her to Odysseus' perspective at line 119.
Really? ἄυσαν is narratorial, “objective,” and κουράων θῆλυς ἀυτή is what Odysseus hears. The two exactly correspond, and the focalization of the latter (if that's how we choose to regard it) makes no difference to how the sound is described or to how Odysseus perceives it.
I think I'm agreeing with you here (unless I don't understand you) - I was trying to say that it's possible for shifts in focalisation in a narrative to give different contexts to the same word/cognate, but that in these lines I don't really see how you can justify it and it seems to be the same sound in both.

Whether the first bit is 'us watching Athena watching the girls' or just 'us watching the whole scene as described by the narrative voice' isn't really important, that was just my take (the focalisation is weak at best).
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 119-140

Post by seneca2008 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:45 pm

mwh wrote:seneca2008 wrote: ↑Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:21 am
I am not objecting to any translation.
There’s the difference between us. You object to none because they’re all acts of reception. I object to all because they all distort the Greek. Traduttori traditori.
In general yes. But in this specific case I was simply saying that in my post I was not objecting to a particular translation.

You might be interested in what Wilson says about academic attitudes to translation:

"Although translation might seem a natural step for a scholar preoccupied by the connections between antiquity and later texts, Wilson was dissuaded from pursuing it. “My colleagues told me: ‘You really shouldn’t be doing that kind of thing before tenure. Before tenure you have to write, you know, the right kind of book’ ” — the right kind being one on a subject that your discipline has yet to exhaust. Wilson did write a range of books before tenure, most on canonical texts: her study of suffering and death in literature; a monograph on Socrates. But, not heeding her colleagues’ advice, she began to translate Greek and Roman tragedies. A selection of Seneca’s plays appeared in 2010; four plays by Euripides in 2016. Both projects were outgrowths of her old desire to “spend a little bit longer” with these authors.

I asked Wilson why translation isn’t valued in the academy.

“Because there is no perception that it’s serious intellectually. It’s imagined as a subset of outreach. That you’re going to be communicating with the masses, which is less important than being innovative within your field. And even though I think translation is a way of being innovative within your field, my colleagues don’t see it that way.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/maga ... glish.html

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