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Penelope, surrounded by a large company of young and insolent
suitors. These he killed with the help of Athena, Telemachus, and
two henchmen, and regained his kingdom.


9. The action of the Odyssey opens in the tenth year after
the close of the Trojan War, and twenty years after Odysseus and
the other Achaeans left their homes for the siege of Troy, but
Odysseus had not yet returned to Ithaca. Since the hope of
lii- return was abandoned by all but his faithful wife, a crowd
of suitors (more than a hundred in number) for the hand of Penel-
ope gathered at his palace from Ithaca and the neighboring islands
and shores. For four years these suitors had feasted riotously on
the king's wine, flocks, and herds. The throne of Ithaca, indeed,
would naturally descend to Telemachus, Odysseus' only son. But
just as the widow of the elder Hamlet carried the scepter of
Denmark to her new husband, Claudius, so these aspirants for
Penelope's hand each hoped to gain with her the kingdom of her
former husband. Odysseus was still on Calypso's island, Ogygia,
in the far west.

a. Early in the First Book, Odysseus' patron saint, the goddess
Athena, took occasion of the absence of Poseidon (whom Odysseus
offended by the blinding of Polyphemus) to remind the gods

xxviii INTRODUCTION 9 b.

of the hard fate of the Ithacan, who was pining away in his
longing for home. Zeus sent her to the island of Ithaca to
direct Odysseus 7 son Telemachus in the course which he should
pursue, and said he would send Hermes to Calypso with orders for
Odysseus' release. She approached the palace of Odysseus in the
guise of a Taphian prince, Mentes, and claimed to be an old guest
of the house. Telemachus told her his story of the long absence
of his father, without tidings, and of the persistent insolence of
his mother's suitors ; and Athena advised him to visit Nestor, the
oldest and wisest of the Achaean chieftains, at Pylus, and Mene-
laus, who had recently returned to Sparta from an eight years'
wandering. These might advise him with regard to his father's
return. The poet devises this journey in order to bring Telema-
chus into connection with some of his father's friends, thus afford-
ing an opportunity to tell of some events which had happened since
the action of the Iliad.

b. In the Second Book of the Odyssey, Telemachus called an
assembly of the Ithacans and denounced the suitors, who threw
the blame for their course on Penelope, and urged that she should
return to her father's home and be given in marriage to a new
husband. Athena, in the guise of his father's friend Mentor, met
Telemachus, and promised to secure a ship and to attend him to
Pylus, in order to consult Nestor. This boat, with Telemachus and
a few companions, set out at evening.

c. As the sun rose on the third day of the action of the Odyssey,
at the beginning of the Third Book, Telemachus, accompanied by
Athena, reached Pylus, and found Nestor and the Pylians offering
sacrifice to Poseidon on the shore. Nestor advised Telemachus to
seek the counsel of Menelaus, and sent his son Pisistratus to escort
him to Sparta.

d. At the beginning of the Fourth Book, at the close of the
fifth day of the action of the Odyssey, Telemachus and Pisistratus
reached the home of Menelaus. Helen recognized Telemachus from
his resemblance to his father. Stories of Odysseus' valor and
prudence were told. On the next day Menelaus related part of
his own adventures, especially his meeting with the old sea god


Proteus in Egypt, who had told him that Odysseus was detained
on an island by the nymph Calypso.

At the close of the Fourth Book, Penelope's suitors on Ithaca
learned of the voyage of Telemachus and planned to lie in ambush
for him and kill him on his return.

e. With the Fifth Book begins the Odyssey proper, the NOO-TOS
'OSvo-cnJos. This Book comprises the events of twenty-five days,
the seventh to the thirty-first inclusive, in the chronology of the
entire poem. In a council of the gods very like that at the begin-
ning of the First Book, Hermes, who for some unexplained reason
did not go to Ogygia after the former council, was dispatched to
Calypso's island, where Odysseus had been detained for eight years,
in order to secure his return. Reluctantly Calypso told the Ithacan
that he might depart. Odysseus built himself a rude barge and set out
upon his return. As he was approaching the land of the Phaeacians,
he was seen by Poseidon, who raised a storm and wrecked his craft ;
but he was brought safe to land by the sea goddess Leucothea.

f . In the Sixth Book, Athena suggested to Nausicaa, the beautiful
Phaeacian princess, that she should go to the river to wash the
family garments. The princess went to the shore, attended by
her maids. As they were about to return, Odysseus, who had been
sleeping, exhausted by the exertions attending his shipwreck,
awoke, and received from them clothing, food, and instructions as
to the wisest manner of approach to the Phaeacian king Alcinoiis.
These are the events of the thirty-second day.

g. The story of Odysseus' reception in the palace of Alcinoiis

I in the evening of the thirty -second day occupies the Seventh Book,
h. In the Eighth Book, Odysseus was introduced to the Phaea-
cian nobles, on the thirty -third day of the action of the poem,
i. In the evening of the thirty-third day, Odysseus began his
1 Apologue to Alcinoiis,' the story of his wanderings immediately
after leaving Troy, in the Ninth Book, and told of his adventures
(a) at Ismarus with the Ciconians (39-61), (b) with the Lotus-
eaters (62-104), and (c) in the cave of Polyphemus (105-555).
This last adventure alone is designated by the Greek caption of
the Book, KvKA.<o7rcia.


j. In the Tenth Book, Odysseus tells of his visit to the island of
Aeolus (the lord of the winds), of the destruction of his entire
fleet with the exception of his own ship by the Laestrygonians,
and of his year at the palace of Circe.

k. The Eleventh Book is occupied by Odysseus' story of his
journey to the land of Hades, in order to consult the soul of
the Theban seer Tiresias, and of his meeting with the shades of the
dead, among them being his mother, Agamemnon, and Achilles. The
consultation of Tiresias seems to have been devised as an occasion for
the interviews with his mother and the chieftains of the Achaeans.

1. In the Twelfth Book, Odysseus tells of his adventures with the
Sirens, and with Scylla and Charybdis, and of his comrades' slaughter
of one of the cattle of the Sun, in return for which their ship was
wrecked, and Odysseus alone was carried by the waves in safety to
Calypso's island.

m. In the Thirteenth Book, Odysseus was brought by the Phaea-
cians to his own island of Ithaca, in the night following the
thirty -fourth day, resuming the action of the Seventh Book.

n. In the Fourteenth Book, at the suggestion of Pallas Athena,
Odysseus sought the remote dwelling of his faithful swineherd
Eumaeus, in the morning of the thirty -fifth day.

o. In the Fifteenth Book, Odysseus remained with Eumaeus ;
and Telemachus, returning from Sparta, proceeded at once to the
swineherd's hut, on the thirty-seventh day.

p. In the Sixteenth Book, Odysseus made himself known to
Telemachus, and the two planned for the destruction of the
suitors of Penelope.

q. In the Seventeenth Book, Odysseus went to his own palace in
the guise of a beggar, and was treated with wanton insolence by
the suitors, on the thirty-eighth day.

r. In the Eighteenth Book, the insolence to Odysseus continued.
Penelope rebuked her son for allowing the unknown stranger to be
thus illtreated.

s. In the Nineteenth Book, Odysseus, still in the guise of a
beggar, had an interview with Penelope, in the evening of the
thirty-eighth day. He was recognized by his old nurse EuryclSa,


who was set to wash his feet, by the scar of a wound which he
received in his youth from a wild boar.

t. In the Twentieth Book, as the thirty-ninth day broke, the
suitors assembled, and victims were brought for the feast, for this
was a festival of Apollo.

u. In the Twenty-first Book, Penelope offered her husband's bow
to the suitors, promising to wed the one who should string it most
easily, and shoot an arrow most skilfully at a mark formed by axes.
The suitors strove in vain to bend the bow, but Odysseus (who had
now made himself known to Eumaeus the swineherd and to Philoetius
the neatherd), to whom the bow was borne by Eumaeus against
the suitors' will, bent the bow, and proved his skill in archery.

v. In the Twenty-second Book, Odysseus with "his old bow slew
the suitors, with the aid of Athena, Telemachus, Eumaeus, and

w. In the Twenty-third Book, Odysseus was recognized by
Penelope, at the close of the thirty-ninth day.

x. In the Twenty-fourth Book, on the fortieth day of the action
of the poem, Odysseus went to his farm and made himself known
to his aged father, Laertes. While he was there, the friends of
the slain suitors came out to take vengeance upon him, and all
prepared for battle, even Laertes arming for the fray, but
peace was made by Athena. Thus the story ends.
10. a. Concise Analysis of the Odyssey.

a-/x. H7/'if lt<ii>ficned before the return of Odysseus to Ithaca.
I. a-8. Adventures of Telemachus.

e-0. Adventures of Odysseus on leaving Calypso's island.

i. Previous adventures of Odysseus, on leaving Troy.
. \\'hat happened after the return of Odysseus to Ithaca.
V-TT. Odysseus at the hut of Eumaeus.
p-v. Return of Odysseus to his palace.
<-w. Odysseus slays the suitors and regains his kingdom.

iis division of the poem into two main parts, each made up of three
of four books each, is curiously convenient as an aid to the
memory, though it is not absolutely exact; but no one should suppose
that the Greek poet had such a division in his mind.



b. The division of the Eiad and Odyssey each into twenty-
four books was not made by the poet himself, nor was it known
in the classical period. It seems to have been made by the scholars
of Alexandria about 250 years B.C. The ' books ' were lettered, not
numbered. The large letters of the Greek alphabet (A, B, r, KT\.)
are used by scholars to designate the books of the Iliad ; the small
letters (a, (3, y, KT\.) are used for the books of the Odyssey. The
< books ' vary in length, from 909 verses (E) to 331 ().

c The Greek titles prefixed to the several books of the poems
are of no definite authority. Some of them were the titles by
which the lays were known before the division into 'books/ as
the ' Bravery of Diomed/ the ' Catalogue of Ships/ the ' View
from the Wall.' Others may have been prefixed by editors in
the Middle Ages.


11. a. Matthew Arnold enumerates four essential character-
istics of Homer's poetry : ' Homer is rapid in his movement,
Homer is plain in his words and style, Homer is simple in his
ideas, Homer is noble in his manner. Cowper renders him ill
because he is slow in his movement and elaborate in his style ;
Pope renders him ill because he is artificial both in his style and
in his words ; Chapman renders him ill because he is fantastic in
his ideas.'

If poets and masters have thus failed, clearly it is no easy
achievement to translate Homer well, to be at the same time
rapid, plain, simple, and noble, ov TTWS a/xa Trdvra Swv/creai avros

cAea0ai. The beginner can at least be simple; he should aim to
attain the other qualities also.

b. Pope says in the preface to his translation : ' That which in
my opinion ought to be the endeavour of any one who translates
Homer, is, above all things, to keep alive that spirit and fire which
makes his chief character. In particular places, where the sense
can bear any doubt, to follow the strongest and most poetical, as
most agreeing with that character. To copy him in all the varia-
tions of his style, and the different modulations of his numbers.

11 c. HOMERIC STYLE xxxiii

To preserve in the more active or more descriptive parts a warmth
and elevation ; in the more sedate or narrative, a plainness and
solemnity ; in the speeches, a fulness and perspicuity ; in the sen-
tences [sententiae], a shortness and gravity. Not to neglect even
the little figures and turns on the words, nor sometimes the very
cast of the periods. Neither to omit or confound any rites or
customs of antiquity. ... To consider him attentively in com-
parison with Vergil above all the ancients, and with Milton above
all the moderns. 7

< The story of the Iliad is the Anger of Achilles, the most short
and single subject that was ever chosen by any poet. Yet this he
has supplied with a greater number of councils, speeches, battles,
and episodes of all kinds than are to be found even in those poems
whose schemes are of the utmost latitude and irregularity. The
action is hurried on with the most vehement spirit, and its whole
duration occupies not so much as fifty days. Vergil, for want of
so warm a genius, aided himself by taking in a more extensive
subject, as well as a greater length of time, and contracting the
design of both Homer's poems into one which is but a fourth part
as large as his.'

c. Cowper says in the preface to his translation : ' My chief
boast is that I have adhered closely to the original, convinced that
every departure from him would be punished with the forfeiture of
some grace or beauty for which I could offer no substitute. ... It
has been my point everywhere to be as little verbose as possible.
... In the affair of style, I have endeavoured neither to creep
nor to bluster, for no author is so likely to betray his translator
into both these faults as Homer, though himself never guilty of
either. . . . The passages which will be least noticed . . . are
those which have cost me abundantly the most labour. It is
difficult to kill a sheep with dignity in a modern language, to flay
and to prepare it for the table, detailing every circumstance of the
process. Difficult also, without sinking below the level of poetry,
to harness mules to a wagon, particularizing every article of their
furniture, straps, rings, staples, and even the tying of the knots
that kept all together. Homer, who writes always to the eye,

that kej

xxxiv INTRODUCTION 11 d.

with all his sublimity and grandeur, has the minuteness of a
Flemish painter. 7

d. Two passages from the great German critic, Lessing, are
worthy to be remembered in this connection : ' The picture of the
plague. What do we see on the canvas ? Dead bodies, the flame
of funeral pyres, the dying busied with the dead, the angry god
upon a cloud discharging his arrows. The profuse wealth of the
picture becomes poverty in the poet. . . . Now let us turn to
Homer himself [A 44-53]. The poet here is as far beyond the
painter as life is better than a picture. Wrathful, with bow and
quiver, Apollo descends from the Olympian towers. I not only
see him, but hear him. At every step the arrows rattle on the
shoulders of the angry god. He enters among the host like the
night. Now he seats himself over against the ships, and with a
terrible clang of the silver bow, sends his first shaft against the
mules and dogs. Next he turns his poisoned [deadly] darts upon
the warriors themselves, and unceasing blaze on every side the
corpse-laden pyres. It is impossible to translate into any other
language the musical painting heard in the poet's words.' Laocodn
xiii. (Miss Frothingham's translation).

'When Homer wishes to tell us how Agamemnon was dressed
[B 42 ff.], he makes the king put on every article of raiment in
our presence : the soft tunic, the great mantle, the beautiful san-
dals, and the sword. When he is thus fully equipped he grasps
his scepter. We see the clothes while the poet is describing the
act of dressing. An inferior writer would have described the
clothes down to the minutest fringe, and of the action we should
have seen nothing. . . . How does he manage when he desires to
give a more full and minute picture [B 101 ff.] of the scepter,
which is here called only ancestral and undecaying, as a similar
one in another place is only x/avo-euns ^Aoio-i TreTra/o/xo/ov ? Does he
paint for us, beside the golden nails, the wood, and the carved
head ? He might have done so had he been writing a description
for a book of heraldry, from which at some later day an exact copy
was to be made. Yet I have no doubt that many a modern poet
would have given such heraldic description in the honest belief


11 g. HOMERIC STYLE xxxv

that he was really making a picture himself, because he was giving
the painter material for one. But what does Homer care how far
he outstrips the painter ? Instead of a copy, he gives us the his-
tory of the scepter. First we see it in the workshop of Vulcan ;
then it shines in the hands of Jupiter ; now it betokens the dignity
of Mercury ; now it is the baton of warlike Pelops ; and, again,
the shepherd's staff of peace-loving Atreus. . . . And so at last I
know this scepter better than if a painter should put it before my
eyes, or a second Vulcan give it into my hands.' Laocoon xvi.

e. Direct Discourse. Like the writers of Holy Scripture, and as
in the simple style of ballads and fairy tales and the conversation
of children and uneducated persons, the Homeric poet avoids the
use of indirect discourse; he has no long passages in oratio obliqua,
in the manner of the reported speeches in Caesar's Commentaries.
He passes quickly from indirect to direct discourse. Contrast 6
yap rjXOe Ooa<; 7rt wjas 'A^aitov | . . . /cat Ar<7ero TrdVras 'A^aiovs | . . .
vfjuv fj.lv Oioi Soiei/ 'OAv/xTria Soi/xar' e^oi/rcs | e/CTrcptrat HpLa.fj.OLO TroAtv, ev
8' ot/ca8' i/co-$at | muSa 8' e/zot \VO~CLL re <j>L\r]V TO. T' oiTTOLva Se^etr&it, I
dd/Aevoi Atos vlov, Krj(36\ov 'ATrdAAwra A 12 if. with its paraphrase
which uses indirect discourse, c\Qu>v 6 tepcus CV^CTO e/ceu>oi? jj.lv rov?
veov? oovvai cAovras rrjv Tpoiav avrov? o~<oOfjva.L ) TYJV 8c 6vya.Tf.pa, ot Avcrai
Se^tt/xe'vov? aTroiva Kal TOV Oeov ai8c(7^VTas KT\. in Plato Hep. iii. 393 E.
Cf. also A 398 ff., T 87 ff., and Acts of the Apostles i. 4 : 'He com-
manded them that they should . . . wait for the promise of the
Father, which ye have heard of me.'

f. Principal Clauses. Similar to this avoidance of indirect
discourse is the poet's frequent and ready transition from a
subordinate to a principal clause, as os /xe'ya TTOLVTW \ 'ApyetW
Kpartct /cat ot Trct'flovrat 'A^atot A 78 f. who rules with miijht over
all the Arrives and him (for whom) the Achaeans obey, <S Itn TroXXa
fj.6yr)<Ta, o6o~av 8e /xot vie? 'A^ataii/ A 162. Cf. Xen. An. i. 1. 2. This
change is most frequent at a caesural pause or at the close of a

g. Thus the poet deserts the participial for a finite construction,
as lour iv re TiTvo-/cd/xvoi AacoW T' ZfiaXXov r 80, where re ... TC mark
the imperfect as correlative with the participle. Cf. E 594.

xxxvi INTRODUCTION 11 h.

h. Order of Words. The simplicity of the Homeric order of
words is most clearly seen by comparing a passage of Homer with
a similar passage of a later Greek poet or of Vergil. Many verses
of the Iliad and Odyssey can be translated into English, word for
word as they Stand, as w^o/actf' es -rj(3r)V ieprjv Tro'Aiv 'HcrtWos, | TJ)v 8e
8t7rpa^o/xev re /cat rjyop.cv ev#aSe TTOVTO.. | ... lie 8* eAoi/ 'ArpetS^ Xpv<nyi'8a
Ka.\\nrdpr)ov KT\. A 366 if. When the order differs essentially from
the English, there are generally rhetorical or poetical reasons why the
order is what it is. No one should suppose that the meter compelled
the poet to adopt an arrangement of words that was not natural and
did not please him. The verse gave prominence not merely to the first
word but often to the word before the principal caesural pause ( 58).

i. The thought of each Homeric verse is somewhat more inde-
pendent than is the case in later poetry. Other things being
equal, a word should be construed with words in the same rather
than in another verse. Very rarely does a descriptive adjective at
the close of one verse agree directly with a noun at the beginning
of the next. The pause in the third foot also frequently indicates
the construction of a word, by separating it from the preceding or
connecting it with the following.

j. A noun at the close of one verse often has an adjective
apparently in agreement with it at the beginning of the next
verse, but this adjective may be regarded as in apposition with the
noun, and frequently serves to form a closer connection with a fol-
lowing amplifying clause, as ^VLV aeiSe Oca . . . | ovXopevrjv fj pvpC
Ts aAye' I^T/KCV A 1 f., where the relative clause explains
the wrath was mortal, deadly, because it brought ten
thousand woes upon the Achaeans. So a few verses later, vovaoy
dra oTparov wptrc Ka/cr/v, oAeKovro Se Aaot' A 10, the position of the
adjective Ka/ojv (following the pause in the third foot) is explained
by its connection with the thought of the following clause; cf.
vvv avTf. fAiv vies 'A^atwv | ei/ TraXa/x^s <f>optov<TL SiKa<77roA.oi ot re $e/u-
o-ra? TT/OOS AIDS eipvarat A 237 ff., where SiKatrTroAot is explained by
the following clause, avroi/ thus often contrasts a man with his com-
panions or possessions, as a-rro /xcv <f>i \a ct/xara 8vcra>, | avrov Se KAacoi/ra
viyas a<f>r)(rtt) B 261 ff.

12 a. HOMERIC STYLE xxxvii

k. The subject of the sentence usually precedes its verb. Almost
every exception to this remark is found either at the close of the
verse, or (less frequently) before the principal caesura, where the
same metrical freedom is allowed as at the end of the verse, 59 a 3.

1. In order to give prominence to an important word, it is some-
times placed before the relative word of the clause to which it
belongs, as o-awrepos <o? KC vtrjai A 32. This is specially frequent
when the subordinate clause precedes the principal sentence, as
"E/cTOJp 8' cos ^Kaias TC TrvAas . . . iKavev, | d/A<' apa /uv . . . Qiov KT\.


m. Adnominal genitives and adjectives generally precede their
noun, as in English, except at the close of the verse or at a caesural
pause ; but there are many exceptions to the rule in the case of
adjectives, principally, perhaps, where the adjective and substantive
are closely connected. The adjective following its noun after a
pause in the third foot is generally to be regarded as in apposition
with the noun, as Ka^v A 10, <f>L\r)v A 20 (cf.j, above). A prepo-
sition likes to stand near its noun, and so often stands between the
adjective and its noun, as ^pvcrcw ova. (7K777rrpa> A 15, Boas CTTI vrjas
A 12, i//xTpa> fvl oiKw A 30, r^as 7rt yXaQvpds F 119.

n. The infinitive generally follows the verb on which it depends.

o. When a noun is modified by two adjectives, it frequently is
preceded by one and followed by the other, as Oorj irapa. vrjl //.eAau/Tj
A 300. So in English poetry < human face divine/ < purest ray
serene,' ' old man eloquent.'

12. Epithets, a. Ornamental epithets frequently have reference
to the most marked natural characteristics of an object rather
than to a particular occasion. The ships are swift (0o.ai) even
when they are drawn up on land (A 300 and passim). The heaven
is starry even in broad daylight (Z 108). Homer calls milk XCVKOP
(A 434), of course, not to distinguish white milk from milk of
another color, but to bring the object vividly before the mind by
mentioning a quality of it which all would recognize as belonging
to the nature of the object. The choice among these stereotyped
conventional epithets was often determined by the convenience of
meter or rhythm (see 22 b f.)

xxxviii INTRODUCTION 12 b.

b. Almost every prominent person in the poems has some special
epithet or epithets. Pope calls these ' a sort of supernumerary
pictures of the persons or things they are joined to. We see the
motion of Hector's plumes in the epithet Ko/ju&u'oXo?.' No one
but Athena is yXau/<<o7ris, and the adjective becomes virtually a
proper name. She bears this epithet ninety times, generally in the
phrase Ota. yXav/ca>7ris 'AOrjvr). She is IlaXXas 'AOrjv?) forty-one times.
The Achaeans are ev/cv^/xtSe? 'A^atoi' thirty-six times, Kdprj KO/XOCOVTC?
twenty-nine times, in the genitive 'A^aiwv x a ^ KO X LT ^ VO)V twenty-four
times, vte? *A^ai(ov sixty-four times, Xaos 'A^atwv twenty-two times,
Kovpoi 'A^atwv nine times. Agamemnon is ava dj/Spwv forty-five times

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