The Odyssey of Homer online

. (page 1 of 31)
Online LibraryHomerThe Odyssey of Homer → online text (page 1 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

11 ills


fHarmtUan*s ^orkrt Amrriran anb lEngltali (Elaaaira

A Series of English Texts, edited for use in Elementary and
Secondary Schools, with Critical Introductions, Notes, etc.

Addison's Sir Roger de Coverley.

American Democracy from Washing-
ton to Wilson.

American Patriotism in Prose and

Andersen's Fairy Tales.

Arabian Nights' Entertainments.

Arnold's Sohrab and Rustxim.

Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

Bacon's Essays.

Baker's Out of the Northland.

Bible iMemorable Passages).

Blackmore's Loma Doone.

Boswell's Life of Johnson. Abridged.

Browning's Shorter Poems.

Mrs. Browning's Poems (Selected').

Bryant's Thanatopsis, etc.

Bryce on American Democracy.

Biilwer-Lytton's Last Days of Pom-

Bunyan's The PUgrim's Progress.

Burke's Speech on Conciliation.

Bums' Poems (.Selections^.

Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.

Byron's Shorter Poems.

Carlyle's Essay on Bums.

Carlyie's Heroes and Hero Worship.

Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Won-

Chaucer's Prologue and Klnight's

Church's The Story of the Iliad.

Church's The Story of the Odyssey.

Coleridge's The Ancient Mariner.

Cooper's The Deerslayer.

Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans.

Cooper's The Spy.

Curtis' Prue and I.

Dana's Two Years Before the Mast.

Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Part I.

Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Abridged.

De Quincey's Confessions of an Eng-
lish Opium-Eater.

De Quincey's Joan of Arc, and The
English Mail-Coach.

Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and The
Cricket on the Hearth.

Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

Dickens' David Copperfield. (Two

Dickens' Oliver Twist.

Dryden's Palamon and Arcite.

Early American Orations, 1760-182'4.

Edwards' Sermons.

Eliot's Mill on the Floss.

Eliot's SUas Mamer.

Emerson's Early Poems.

Emerson's Essaj's.

Emerson's Representative Men

English Essays.

EngUsh Narrative Poems.

Epoch-making Papers in U. S. His-

Franklin's Autobiography.

Mrs. Gaskell's Cranford.

Goldsmith's The Deserted Village,
and Other Poems.

Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield.

Gray's Elegy, etc., and Cowper's
John Gilpin, etc.

Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Hale's The Man Without a Country.

Hawthorne's Grandfather's Chair.

Hawthorne's Mosses from an Old

Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter.

Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales.

Hawthorne's The House of the Seven

Hawthorne's Twice-told Tales (Se-

Hawthorne's Wonder-Book.

Holmes' Autocrat of the Breakfast

Holmes' Poems.

Homer's Iliad (Translated).

Homer's Odyssey ; Translated).

Hughes' Tom Brown's School Days.

Hugo's Les Miserables. Abridged.

Huxley's Selected Essays and Ad-

Irving's Knickerbocker's History.

Irving's Life of Goldsmith.

Irving's Sketch Book.

Irving's Tales of a Traveller.

Irving's The Alhambra.

Keary's Heroes of Asgard.

a Kempis: The Imitation of Christ.

Kingsley's The Heroes.

Kingsley's Westward Ho !

Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare.

Lamb's The Essays of Elia.

Letters from Manv Pens.

l^armiilau'fi Jorkrt Ammran nnh fcngltBlr (ElaaBtrfi

A Series of English Texts, edited for use in Elementary axd
Secondauv Schools, with Critical Introductions, Notes, etc.

Lincoln's Aduresses, Inaugurals, and

Lockhart's Life of Scott. Abridged.
London's Call of the Wild.
Longfellow's Evangeline.
Longfellow's Hiawatha.
Longfellow's Miles Standish.
Lcngfeliow's Miles Standish and

Minor Poems.
Longfellow's Tales of a \7ayside Inn.
Lowell's Earlier Es-says.
Lowell's The Vision cf Sir Launfal.
Macaulay's Essay on Addison.
Macaulay's Essay on Hastings.
Macaulay's Essay on Lord Clive.
Macaulay's Essay on Milton.
Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome.
Macaulay's Life of Samuel Johnson.
Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.
Milton's Minor Poems.
Milton's Paradise Lost, Books I. ani

Old English Ballads.
Old Testament Selections.
Palgrave's Golden Treasury.
Parkman's Oregon Trail.
Plutarch's Lives of Csesar, Brutus,

and Mark Antony.
Poe's Poems.

Poe's Prose Tales (Selections).
Poerns, Narrative and Lyrical.
Pope's Homer's Iliad.
Pope's Homer's Odyssey.
Pope's The Rape of the Lock.
Reade's Cloister and the Hearth.
Representative Short Stories.
Roosevelt's Writmgs.
Rrssetti's (Christina) Selected

Ruskin's Sesame and Lilies.
Ruskin's The Crown of Wild Olive

anCi. Queen of the Air,
Scoti's Guy Mannering.
Scott's Ivanhoe.
Scott's Kenilworth.
Scott's Lady of the Lake.
Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel.
Scott's Marmion.
Scott's Quentin Durward.
Scott's Rob Roy.
Scott's The Talisman.
Select Orations.

Selected Poems, for RequL-ed Read-
ing in Secondary Schools.

Selections from American Poetry.

Selections for Oral Reading.

Shakespeare's As You Like It.

Shakespeare's Coriolanus.

Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Shakespeare's Plenry V.

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

Shakespeare's King Lear.

Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's

Shakespeare's Richard U.

Shakespeare's Richard IH.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Shakespeare's Twelfth Kight.

Shelley and Keats: Poems.

Sheridan's The Rivals and The
School for Scandal.

Short Stories.

Short Stories and Selections.

Southern Orators: Selections.

Southern PoQts: Selections.

Southey's Life of Nelson.

Spenser's Faerie pueene. Book I.

Stevenson's Kidnapped.

Stevenson'sThe Master of Ballantrae.

Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey,
and An Inland Voj age.

Stevenson's Treasure Island.

Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

Teimyson's Idylls of the King.

Tennyson's In Memoriam.

Teimyson's The Princess.

Tennyson's Shorter Poems.

Thackeray's EngUsh Humourists.

Thackeray's Henry Esmond.

Thoreau's Walden.

Trevelyan's Life of Macauiay.

Virgil's ^neid.

Washington's Farewell Address, and
Webster's First Bunker Hill Ora-

Whittier's Snow-Bound and Other
Early Poems.

Wister's The Virginian.

Woodman's Journal.

Wordsworth's Shorter Poems



MACMILLAN & CO., Limited




■ ■ 'Iw^^^^^m


f ' |B

^^^^^^^^^^^__\ -i

^^^B^T^ ^^^















All rights reserved



Set up and eiectrotyped. Published July, 191 1.

NorSoaoH l^regg
S. Gushing Co. — Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



F. S.




The Greek Epics and tiieiu Influence
The Homeric Question ....
The Story of the Odyssey and its Stories
The Odyssey and "The Eternal Eeminix
Aristocracy in the Odyssey
Homer and the Lowly .
The Scope of Homer .
Translations ....
Alexander Pope
Selections for Reading
Book List ....









XXV ii
, xxix


Book I. Council of Gods, Summons to Telemachus . 1

Book XL Ithacan Assembly ; Telemachus Departs . 20

Book III. Telemachus at Pyle 36

Book IV. Telemachus at Sparta 57

Book V. Calypso sends Ulysses forth on a Raft . . 93
Book VI. Ulysses lands in Phseacia . . . .114:

Book VII. Nausicaa and Alcinous welcome Ulysses . 127

Book VIII. The Stay in Phseacia 142

Book IX. Ulysses' Story Begun : The Cyclops . . 160

Book X. ^olus, the Laestriirons, and Circe . . . 182



Book XI. The Visit to the Land of the Dead . . 205

Book XII. Sirens, Scylla, Chary bdis, Oxen of the Sun . 231

Book XIII. Voyage from Ph^eacia to Ithaca . . . 249

Book XIV. Stay with Eumseus 20(5

Book XV. Telemachus and Eumseus .... 2S6

Book XVI. Telemachus recognizes Ulysses . . . 30G

Book XVII. Telemachus returns to the Palace . . 323

Book XVIII. Fight of Ulysses with Irus . . . 345
Book XIX. Ulysses meets Penelope: Recognized by

Euryclea 361

Book XX. Ulysses as Beggar in his Palace . . . 384
Book XXI. The Trial of the Bow of Ulysses . . .400
Book XXII. The Slaughter of the Suitors . . .416

Book XXIII, Penelope recognizes Ulysses . . . 434

Book XXIV. Ulysses and Laertes. Peace . . . 448

Notes ... 469


The Greek Epics and Their Influence

The two great epics of the Greeks have come down to us
as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the former (and earUer) deal-
ing with the ten years' war at lUon (or Troy), the latter with
the ten years' wanderings of Odysseus (or Ulysses) while
trying to win his way home after Troy fell.

City ruins have been found at Hissarlik, in Asiatic Turkey,
bj^ the American citizen, Schliemann, and there is a general
consensus of opinion that he is right in placing here the site
of the ancient city, Ilion. The gold objects that he found
are now in the Roj^al Etlmographical Museum in Berlin {das
koenigliche Museum fuer Voelkerkunde). To such a degree
has the subject of these immortal poems been cleared from
the mists of myth and legend.

The story of these epics hinges upon the elopement of
Helen, wife of the Greek king ■\Ienelaus, with the Trojan
prince, Paris, to Troy (where she became the wife of Paris) ;
the expedition of the allied Greeks under Agamemnon, their
ten years' fighting, crowned by the fall of Tro}', and then the
varied fortunes of the returning Greeks, particularly Ulysses.

The date of the Trojan war may be roughly set as at least
a thousand years b.c. (probably much earlier).

For the Greeks these poems were their foremost classics,
and formed the basis of the classical studies of Greek youth.
When Rome came to develop education, they, in turn, fur-


nished classical studies for the Roman schools. Further,
by inspiring Roman writers, as well as by giving them ma-
terial, the}^ intensely affected Roman Uterature. This is
particularly illustrated in Virgil, who used these poems as a
storehouse from which to draw for his great Roman epic,
the jEneid. Through the JEneid indirectly, and b}^ direct
transmission, these poems have exercised a potent influence
on modern literature ever since Dante. Our own literature
is impossible of comprehension without them. To them might
well be extended the assertion of Schopenhauer : '^\ man who
does not understand Latin is like one who walks through a
beautiful region in a fog; his horizon is very close to him.
He sees only the nearest things clearly, and a few steps away
from him the outlines of everything become indistinct or
wholly lost."

The Ho:\ieric Question

Until the time of the German scholar "Wolf (1795), the
tradition, never doubted by the keen-eyed Aristotle, was uni-
versalh" accepted, that one great poet, the blind bard Homer,
T\Tote these poems. Wolf started a controversy about the
origin of the Homeric epics that has lasted ever since his
time. Various and mutually contradictor^^ theories have
been maintained and are still being defended. There is no
generally accepted, clear, and definite theory of manifold
authorship. A^Hiile the personality of the author, or authors,
singer, or singers, editor, or editors, is not of serious impor-
tance as compared with the poems themselves, yet it is proper
that sonae words be said about the matter of authorship.

Professor Sterrett {Iliad, N.Y., 1907) expresses a somewhat
conservative view as follows : —


"The events which formed the historical basis of the Iliad
of Homer took place in the second half of the second thousand
years before Christ. But long before these events occurred,
.Eolic colonists had emigrated from the region of Mt. Olympus
and Mt. Hehcon {i.e. from Thessaly and Boeotia) to the
northwestern seaboard of Asia Minor and the islands adjacent
thereto. These colonists took with them the old ballads
sung by the Thracian bards on Mt. Olympus and Mt. Helicon ;
they took with them the love of song and the ability to sing.
In their new home they lived in constant warfare with the
people whom they had displaced. Therefore they sang, not
of the Muses, but of war and of heroes. . . .

"The vEolic colonists who had settled in Asia Minor were
followed by Ionic colonists, who also fixed their new abodes
on the western seaboard of Asia and the adjacent islands, but
south of yEolia. As time went on, the lonians became the
]Dolitical and intellectual superiors of the Cohans, whose
ballads they adopted and adapted to their own use. It was
in the region w^here yEoIia abutted on Ionia that the Iliad was
composed about 850 b.c.

" The Iliad was not composed in its entirety at one
time; it grew gradually. Finally, on the confines of ^olia
and Ionia, or on an island adjacent thereto there arose a
great poet, named Homer, who made free use of the old heroic
ballads in creating the kernel of the Iliad, i.e. he created the
story of the Wrath of Achilles ; he sang of the beginning of
the Wrath, the consequences of the Wrath to the Achseans, the
abandonment of the Wrath and its results. This original
Iliad was a unit; it had a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Later on Homer himself inserted other ballads, other episodes,
in this original Iliad. After his death further additions were
made by other great and skilful, but unknown, poets.


''The Iliad was composed long before the invention of
writing. Tlie poem was carried in the memory and was
transmitted by word of mouth, first by Homer, and then by
his successors, a guild of singers, called Homerids, who re-
garded the trust as a heritage too sacred to be tampered with
lightly, and so they handed it down practically unchanged
until the time when it was finalh^ committed to writing after
the invention of the alphabet, or rather after its introduction
into Greece. Books were in existence at least one hundred
years before Pisistratus (560-527) ordered the poems of
Homer to be edited; i.e. the Iliad was committed to T^Titing
not later than 660 B.C., and it had reached its present shape
and extent not later than 760 B.C."

These conclusions, of course, would be sul^ject to the proper
modification in discussing the Odyssey, confessed!}' of later
composition than the Iliad.

Andrew Lang, a verj^ keen critic and himself a \\Titer of
genius, supplies trenchant criticism of the vreak spots in the
various theories of manifold authorship. He sharply attacks
the two chief assumptions of those who denj^ Homeric author-
ship, viz. compilation by (1) rhapsodists (the ''Homerids"),
and by (2) an editor under Pisistratus of Athens (Lang,
Homer and the Epic, 1893 ; Homer and His Age, 1906 ; World
of Homer, 1910). He bases his main arguments on the con-
sistenc}' throughout the poems in the life and objects described
or implied, and the impossibilitj'- of later ^Titers' describing
a life so remote from their own without anachrcnism, that is,
without insensibly introducing objects and customs existent
in their ovm times and nonexistent in the times of which they
are vrriting, — as Shakespeare, for example, makes his Hamlet
use a weapon of the times of Elizabeth.

Lang's conclusion is : (1) That these poems are "the work


of one age," each presenting "historical unity, unity of charac-
ter, unity of customary law, unity in its archaeology."

(2) That there is no evidence for a Homeric school, such
as the priestly schools that preserved ''religious hymns and
mythical hymns."

(3) That writing existed, and the poems were probably
transmitted from reciter to reciter in writing, not merely
by memory. (The Cretans, it is now established, could write
long before Homer.)

(4) That the theory of an editor, under Pisistratus, who
was virtually the compiler of these poems, is untenable.
(He quotes the German scholars. Dr. Blass, ''an absurd
legend," and Meyer, "a worthless tale " : Monro says, "mythi-
cal anecdotes.")

We have then the following as probable conclusions : One
great poet. Homer, "wrote" the Odyssey, substantially as
it exists to-day. Its transmission for thousands of years
would necessitate minor changes both in language and
contents. This poet wrote of deeds already so far awaj^
as to have become legendary. He therefore consistently
wrote into his descriptions the customs and objects of his
own time.

Plomer lived at a time when bronze was still used for weap-
ons offensive and defensive, including therein spear, sword,
and, in part, harness, although the huge shield was commonly
of oxhide plated with bronze, and this was so because the bow
was in common use, and the light body-harness served to
protect from "the flight of arrows" but not from heavy spear
and sword. Iron, on the other hand, had come in only so
far as to be used for agricultural tools, but was not yet hard-
ened well enough to be used for weapons. He lived in a time
when in government there was a loosely constructed feudal


sj'stem with an overlord whose actual power was largely at
the mercy of his lieges — chieftains who had great power over
their retainers. The position of the chief's wdfe was very
high. Slavery, of course, existed. Marriage was accom-
panied by bride-gift, a form of marriage by purchase. The
Homeric chief was surrounded by crowds of armed retainers.
The position of priest (soothsayer), and of poet or singer, was
well defined, and well protected and honored, religion and
literature thus flourishing under the chief's protection. Hos-
pitality was a \artue appreciatively recorded by the bard,
although the requirement that the stranger guest without
credentials render obeisance and sit in the ashes at the
hearth would indicate survival of the \aew that strangers
might be held enemies and at the mercy of the chieftain.
The Greeks, wherever described, were a seafaring people.
The art is Phoenician {i.e. mainly AssjTian, with many
objects of Egyptian provenance). The dead were burned,
not buried. As to the future life it was imagined as that of
hopeless shades. The men of Homer's time had outgrown
the period of Ancestor Worship.

Homer, then, possessed in his Greece what Leon Gautier
calls the four necessary conditions of an epic. They have
been given as : —

(1) An uncritical age confusing history by legend,

(2) A national environment with religious uniformity,

(3) Poems dealing with —

" Old imhappj'- far-off things
And battles long ago."

(4) Representative heroes, — the overlord, and his peers
or paladins. To which ma}^ be added : —

(5) Iling or Chieftain protector, to whose family and re-


tainers he was expected to furnish entertainment by reciting,
night after night, epic poetry — not, therefore, "hmited,"
as the modern writer would say, "by space."

(6) A fund of romantic tales and ballads — some of them
apparently world-old — that could be adapted into the
adventures of the hero.

Homer's free use of existing songs, epics, and romantic tales
has been tersely stated by Rudyard Kipling thus : —

" Wen 'Omer smote 'is bloomin' lyre,

'E'd 'eard men sing by land and sea,
And wot 'e thought 'e might require,
'E went and took, the same as me."

So Professor Seymour concludes {Life in the Homeric Age,
1907) : "The stamp of a great personality seems to lie upon
each of the two great poems. These poems have such unity
as cannot easily be explained if they are the work of several
poets." And Professor Palmer {Odyssey, 1891) puts the matter
thus: "Whatever diverse poetic materials were originally
employed, the resulting unity is conspicuous and astonishing.
The Odyssey is no chance conglomerate. It is a masterpiece
of poetic art, beautiful in its parts, and no less beautiful in
its structure, bearing throughout the impress of a single

The Story of the Odyssey, and Its Stories

The story of Ulysses' wanderings after leaving Troy has
been summarized by Professor Seymour thus {Iliad, N.Y.,
1903) : "Odysseus was driven by a storm (perhaps the same
as that which drove the ships of IMenelaus to Crete) to the
land of the Lotus-eaters (Book IX), thence to the island of


Polyphemus, thence to the island of ^Eolus (X), to the land
of the Lsestrygonians (where eleven of his twelve ships were
destroyed), and to the island of Circe, where he and his
companions remained during a year. Then they went to
Hades (XI) to consult the old seer Tiresias. After their
return, they pass Scylla and Charj^bdis (XII) ; they came to
the island of the Sun, and (urged on by hunger) killed one of
his cows. They were punished by shipwTeck, from which
Odysseus alone escaped, as innocent of the offence against
the Sun. He was borne to the island of Calypso, where he
remained for eight years. Then he returned to his home
on Ithaca, enduring many sufferings on the way, but recei^•-
ing kindly hospitalitj^ and aid from the Phseacians (V-XIII).
He found his faithful wife, 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 (XIV-XXI\0."

Like Virgil in the jEneid, Homer does not arrange the
order of his books in the order of the adventures of his
hero. The adventures of nearly ten j'-ears are to be nar-
rated by that wanderer to the court of the Phaeacian
King Alcinous in the island of Scheria just before the
Phaeacians bring him home to Ithaca. The action of the
poem occupies only six weeks. The first four books are
devoted to the conditions existing at his home, where his
queen Penelope is besieged bj'' a swarm of insolent suitors for
h^r hand, who are devouring the wealth of Od3"sseus, and
insulting the j^oung prince Telemachus. The goddess Pallas
Athene (Alinerva), Ulysses' great friend (in the first book),
visits Telemachus and advises him to send the suitors to
their homes and to go in search for his father. In Book II.
Telemachus' attempt to dismiss the suitors is scornfully


rejected by them, but he sails on his quest. Book III
finds Telemachus at Pylos witli aged Xestor. In the even-
ing of the next day Telemachus starts for Sparta to consult
Menelaus. In Book IV, Telemachus arrives at the joalace
of Menelaus, and is entertained, while the suitors at Ithaca,
learning of his departure, send a ship to lie in wait for him and
kill him on his return. The seventh day shows us Minerva
(Book \) urging Jupiter, who sends Mercury (Hermes) to
bid the nymph Calypso, with whom Ulysses has spent eight
years, to let the hero depart. Then the hero makes and
launches his raft, sails on the twelfth day of the action, reaches
Scheria on the thirty-second da}^ since IVIinerva visited Ithaca.
In Scheria, by the aid of the Phseacian princess Nausicaa, he
is kindly received and entertained (Books VI-XII) and tells
his stor}^ In Book XIII, the Phseacians sail with Ulysses,
and land him vnXh the rich Phseacian gifts, in his sleep, on
Ithaca's isle (the thirty-fifth day). The remaining books
give his experiences with the swineherd Eumseus, Telemachus'
return (Books XIII-XVI), Ulysses' experiences at the palace in
the disguise of a beggar, the final slaughter of the suitors, Penel-
ope's recognition of Ulysses (the fortj^-first day. Books XVII-
XXIII), Laertes' greeting of his son Ulysses and the estaljhsh-
ment of order in Ithaca (the fort3^-second day, Books XXIIII-

The poem falls, then, naturally into three larger divisions :
(.4) The Introduction, giving the chaotic conditions at Ithaca
in the absence of the overlord, the criminal folly of the suitors,
as a justification for their later massacre, and Telemachus'
quest. Thus the first four books : {B) The Vicissitudes of
the Hero for ten years until he reaches Ithaca. Thus Books
V-XIII : (C) The Vengeance and the Restoration of Good
Government. Thus Books XIV-XXIV.


An interesting illustration of the lessons our forefathers
discovered in the Odyssey maj^ be found in Bossu's essay pre-
fixed to Gary's edition of Pope's Odyssey. We add a selec-
tion : —

''A prince had been obhged to forsake his native country,
and to head an army of his subjects in a foreign expedition.
Having gloriously performed this enterprise, he was marching
home again, and conducting his subjects to his own state ; but,
spite of all the attempts with which the eagerness to return

Online LibraryHomerThe Odyssey of Homer → online text (page 1 of 31)