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3 There would have been less controversy about the proper
4 method of Homeric translation, if critics bad recognised
5 that the question is a purely relative one, that of Homer
6 there can be no final translation. The taste and the
7 literary habits of each age demand different qualities in
8 poetry, and therefore a different sort of rendering of
9 Homer. To the men of the time of Elizabeth, Homer would
10 have appeared bald, it seems, and lacking in ingenuity, if
11 he had been presented in his antique simplicity. For the
12 Elizabethan age, Chapman supplied what was then necessary,
13 and the mannerisms that were then deemed of the essence of
14 poetry, namely, daring and luxurious conceits. Thus in
15 Chapman's verse Troy must 'shed her towers for tears of
16 overthrow,' and when the winds toss Odysseus about, their
17 sport must be called 'the horrid tennis.'
19 In the age of Anne, 'dignity' and 'correctness' had to be
20 given to Homer, and Pope gave them by aid of his dazzling
21 rhetoric, his antitheses, his nettete, his command of every
22 conventional and favourite artifice. Without Chapman's
23 conceits, Homer's poems would hardly have been what the
24 Elizabethans took for poetry; without Pope's smoothness,
25 and Pope's points, the Iliad and Odyssey would have seemed
26 rude, and harsh in the age of Anne. These great
27 translations must always live as English poems. As
28 transcripts of Homer they are like pictures drawn from a
29 lost point of view. Chaque siecle depuis le xvi a ue de ce
30 cote son belveder different. Again, when Europe woke to a
31 sense, an almost exaggerated and certainly uncritical
32 sense, of the value of her songs of the people, of all the
33 ballads that Herder, Scott, Lonnrot, and the rest
34 collected, it was commonly said that Homer was a
35 ballad-minstrel, that the translator must imitate the
36 simplicity, and even adopt the formulae of the ballad.
37 Hence came the renderings of Maginn, the experiments of Mr.
38 Gladstone, and others. There was some excuse for the error
39 of critics who asked for a Homer in ballad rhyme. The Epic
40 poet, the poet of gods and heroes, did indeed inherit some
41 of the formulae of the earlier Volks-lied. Homer, like the
42 author of The Song of Roland, like the singers of the
43 Kalevala, uses constantly recurring epithets, and repeats,
44 word for word, certain emphatic passages, messages, and so
45 on. That custom is essential in the ballad, it is an
46 accident not the essence of the epic. The epic is a poem of
47 complete and elaborate art, but it still bears some
48 birthmarks, some signs of the early popular chant, out of
49 which it sprung, as the garden-rose springs from the wild
50 stock, When this is recognised the demand for ballad-like
51 simplicity and 'ballad-slang' ceases to exist, and then all
52 Homeric translations in the ballad manner cease to
53 represent our conception of Homer. After the belief in the
54 ballad manner follows the recognition of the romantic vein
55 in Homer, and, as a result, came Mr. Worsley's admirable
56 Odyssey. This masterly translation does all that can be
57 done for the Odyssey in the romantic style. The smoothness
58 of the verse, the wonderful closeness to the original,
59 reproduce all of Homer, in music and in meaning, that can
60 be rendered in English verse. There still, however, seems
61 an aspect Homeric poems, and a demand in connection with
62 Homer to be recognised, and to be satisfied.
64 Sainte-Beuve says, with reference probably to M. Leconte de
65 Lisle's prose version of the epics, that some people treat
66 the epics too much as if the were sagas. Now the Homeric
67 epics are sagas, but then they are the sagas of the divine
68 heroic age of Greece, and thus are told with an art which
69 is not the art of the Northern poets. The epics are stories
70 about the adventures of men living in most respects like
71 the men of our own race who dwelt in Iceland, Norway,
72 Denmark, and Sweden. The epics are, in a way, and as far as
73 manners and institutions are concerned, historical
74 documents. Whoever regards them in this way, must wish to
75 read them exactly as they have reached us, without modern
76 ornament, with nothing added or omitted. He must recognise,
77 with Mr. Matthew Arnold, that what he now wants, namely,
78 the simple truth about the matter of the poem, can only be
79 given in prose, 'for in a verse translation no original
80 work is any longer recognisable.' It is for this reason
81 that we have attempted to tell once more, in simple prose,
82 the story of Odysseus. We have tried to transfer, not all
83 the truth about the poem, but the historical truth, into
84 English. In this process Homer must lose at least half his
85 charm, his bright and equable speed, the musical current of
86 that narrative, which, like the river of Egypt, flows from
87 an indiscoverable source, and mirrors the temples and the
88 palaces of unforgotten gods and kings. Without this music
89 of verse, only a half truth about Homer can be told, but
90 then it is that half of the truth which, at this moment, it
91 seems most necessary to tell. This is the half of the truth
92 that the translators who use verse cannot easily tell. They
93 MUST be adding to Homer, talking with Pope about 'tracing
94 the mazy lev'ret o'er the lawn,' or with Mr. Worsley about
95 the islands that are 'stars of the blue Aegaean,' or with
96 Dr. Hawtrey about 'the earth's soft arms,' when Homer says
97 nothing at all about the 'mazy lev'ret,' or the 'stars of
98 the blue Aegaean,' or the 'soft arms' of earth. It would be
99 impertinent indeed to blame any of these translations in
100 their place. They give that which the romantic reader of
101 poetry, or the student of the age of Anne, looks for in
102 verse; and without tags of this sort, a translation of
103 Homer in verse cannot well be made to hold together.
105 There can be then, it appears, no final English translation
106 of Homer. In each there must be, in addition to what is
107 Greek and eternal, the element of what is modern, personal,
108 and fleeting. Thus we trust that there may be room for 'the
109 pale and far-off shadow of a prose translation,' of which
110 the aim is limited and humble. A prose translation cannot
111 give the movement and the fire of a successful translation
112 in verse; it only gathers, as it were, the crumbs which
113 fall from the richer table, only tells the story, without
114 the song. Yet to a prose translation is permitted, perhaps,
115 that close adherence to the archaisms of the epic, which in
116 verse become mere oddities. The double epithets, the
117 recurring epithets of Homer, if rendered into verse, delay
118 and puzzle the reader, as the Greek does not delay or
119 puzzle him. In prose he may endure them, or even care to
120 study them as the survivals of a stage of taste, which is
121 to be found in its prime in the sagas. These double and
122 recurring epithets of Homer are a softer form of the quaint
123 Northern periphrases, which make the sea the 'swan's bath,'
124 gold, the 'dragon's hoard,' men, the 'ring-givers,' and so
125 on. We do not know whether it is necessary to defend our
126 choice of a somewhat antiquated prose. Homer has no ideas
127 which cannot be expressed in words that are 'old and
128 plain,' and to words that are old and plain, and, as a
129 rule, to such terms as, being used by the Translators of
130 the Bible, are still not unfamiliar, we have tried to
131 restrict ourselves. It may be objected, that the employment
132 of language which does not come spontaneously to the lips,
133 is an affectation out of place in a version of the Odyssey.
134 To this we may answer that the Greek Epic dialect, like the
135 English of our Bible, was a thing of slow growth and
136 composite nature, that it was never a spoken language, nor,
137 except for certain poetical purposes, a written language.
138 Thus the Biblical English seems as nearly analogous to the
139 Epic Greek, as anything that our tongue has to offer.
141 The few foot-notes in this book are chiefly intended to
142 make clear some passages where there is a choice of
143 reading. The notes at the end, which we would like to have
144 written in the form of essays, and in company with more
145 complete philological and archaeological studies, are
146 chiefly meant to elucidate the life of Homer's men. We have
147 received much help from many friends, and especially from
148 Mr. R. W. Raper, Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford and Mr.
149 Gerald Balfour, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, who
150 has aided us with many suggestions while the book was
151 passing through the press.
153 In the interpretation of B. i.411, ii.191, v.90, and 471,
154 we have departed from the received view, and followed Mr.
155 Raper, who, however, has not been able to read through the
156 proof-sheets further than Book xii.
158 We have adopted La Roche's text (Homeri Odyssea, J. La
159 Roche, Leipzig, 1867), except in a few cases where we
160 mention our reading in a foot-note.
162 The Arguments prefixed to the Books are taken, with very
163 slight alterations, from Hobbes' Translation of the
164 Odyssey.
166 It is hoped that the Introduction added to the second
167 edition may illustrate the growth of those national legends
168 on which Homer worked, and may elucidate the plot of the
169 Odyssey.
174 Wet owe our thanks to the Rev. E. Warre, of Eton College,
175 for certain corrections on nautical points. In particular,
176 he has convinced us that the raft of Odysseus in B. v. is a
177 raft strictly so called, and that it is not, under the
178 poet's description, elaborated into a ship, as has been
179 commonly supposed. The translation of the passage (B.
180 v.246-261) is accordingly altered.
187 The Odyssey is generally supposed to be somewhat the later
188 in date of the two most ancient Greek poems which are
189 concerned with the events and consequences of the Trojan
190 war. As to the actual history of that war, it may be said
191 that nothing is known. We may conjecture that some contest
192 between peoples of more or less kindred stocks, who
193 occupied the isles and the eastern and western shores of
194 the Aegean, left a strong impression on the popular fancy.
195 Round the memories of this contest would gather many older
196 legends, myths, and stories, not peculiarly Greek or even
197 'Aryan,' which previously floated unattached, or were
198 connected with heroes whose fame was swallowed up by that
199 of a newer generation. It would be the work of minstrels,
200 priests, and poets, as the national spirit grew conscious
201 of itself, to shape all these materials into a definite
202 body of tradition. This is the rule of development--first
203 scattered stories, then the union of these into a NATIONAL
204 legend. The growth of later national legends, which we are
205 able to trace, historically, has generally come about in
206 this fashion. To take the best known example, we are able
207 to compare the real history of Charlemagne with the old
208 epic poems on his life and exploits. In these poems we find
209 that facts are strangely exaggerated, and distorted; that
210 purely fanciful additions are made to the true records,
211 that the more striking events of earlier history are
212 crowded into the legend of Charles, that mere fairy tales,
213 current among African as well as European peoples, are
214 transmuted into false history, and that the anonymous
215 characters of fairy tales are converted into historical
216 personages. We can also watch the process by which feigned
217 genealogies were constructed, which connected the princely
218 houses of France with the imaginary heroes of the epics.
219 The conclusion is that the poetical history of Charlemagne
220 has only the faintest relations to the true history. And we
221 are justified in supposing that, quite as little of the
222 real history of events can be extracted from the tale of
223 Troy, as from the Chansons de Geste.
225 By the time the Odyssey was composed, it is certain that a
226 poet had before him a well-arranged mass of legends and
227 traditions from which he might select his materials. The
228 author of the Iliad has an extremely full and curiously
229 consistent knowledge of the local traditions of Greece, the
230 memories which were cherished by Thebans, Pylians, people
231 of Mycenae, of Argos, and so on. The Iliad and the Odyssey
232 assume this knowledge in the hearers of the poems, and take
233 for granted some acquaintance with other legends, as with
234 the story of the Argonautic Expedition. Now that story
235 itself is a tissue of popular tales,--still current in many
236 distant lands,--but all woven by the Greek genius into the
237 history of Iason.
239 The history of the return of Odysseus as told in the
240 Odyssey, is in the same way, a tissue of old marchen.
241 These must have existed for an unknown length of time
242 before they gravitated into the cycle of the tale of Troy.
244 The extraordinary artistic skill with which legends and
245 myths, originally unconnected with each other, are woven
246 into the plot of the Odyssey, so that the marvels of savage
247 and barbaric fancy become indispensable parts of an
248 artistic whole, is one of the chief proofs of the unity of
249 authorship of that poem. We now go on to sketch the plot,
250 which is a marvel of construction.
252 Odysseus was the King of Ithaca, a small and rugged island
253 on the western coast of Greece. When he was but lately
254 married to Penelope, and while his only son Telemachus was
255 still an infant, the Trojan war began. It is scarcely
256 necessary to say that the object of this war, as conceived
257 of by the poets, was to win back Helen, the wife of
258 Menelaus, from Paris, the son of Priam, King of Troy. As
259 Menelaus was the brother of Agamemnon, the Emperor, so to
260 speak, or recognised chief of the petty kingdoms of
261 'Greece, the whole force of these kingdoms was at his
262 disposal. No prince came to the leaguer of Troy from a home
263 more remote than that of Odysseus. When Troy was taken, in
264 the tenth year of the war, his homeward voyage was the
265 longest and most perilous.
267 The action of the Odyssey occupies but the last six weeks
268 of the ten years during which Odysseus was wandering. Two
269 nights in these six weeks are taken up, however, by his own
270 narrative of his adventures (to the Phaeacians, p. xx) in
271 the previous ten years. With this explanatory narrative we
272 must begin, before coming to the regular action of the
273 poem.
275 After the fall of Troy, Odysseus touched at Ismarus, the
276 city of a Thracian people, whom he attacked and plundered,
277 but by whom he was at last repulsed. The north wind then
278 carried his ships to Malea, the extreme southern point of
279 Greece. Had he doubled Malea safely, he would probably have
280 reached Ithaca in a few days, would have found Penelope
281 unvexed by wooers, and Telemachus a boy of ten years old.
282 But this was not to be.
284 The 'ruinous winds' drove Odysseus and his ships for ten
285 days, and on the tenth they touched the land of the Lotus-
286 Eaters, whose flowery food causes sweet forgetfulness.
287 Lotus-land was possibly in Western Libya, but it is more
288 probable that ten days' voyage from the southern point of
289 Greece, brought Odysseus into an unexplored region of
290 fairy-land. Egypt, of which Homer had some knowledge, was
291 but five days' sail from Crete.
293 Lotus-land, therefore, being ten days' sail from Malea, was
294 well over the limit of the discovered world. From this
295 country Odysseus went on till he reached the land of the
296 lawless Cyclopes, a pastoral people of giants. Later Greece
297 feigned that the Cyclopes dwelt near Mount Etna, in Sicily.
298 Homer leaves their place of abode in the vague. Among the
299 Cyclopes, Odysseus had the adventure on which his whole
300 fortunes hinged. He destroyed the eye of the cannibal
301 giant, Polyphemus, a son of Poseidon, the God of the Sea.
302 To avenge this act, Poseidon drove Odysseus wandering for
303 ten long years, and only suffered him to land in Ithaca,
304 'alone, in evil case, to find troubles in his house.' This
305 is a very remarkable point in the plot. The story of the
306 crafty adventurer and the blinding of the giant, with the
307 punning device by which the hero escaped, exists in the
308 shape of a detached marchen or fairy-tale among races who
309 never heard of Homer. And when we find the story among
310 Oghuzians, Esthonians, Basques, and Celts, it seems natural
311 to suppose that these people did not break a fragment out
312 of the Odyssey, but that the author of the Odyssey took
313 possession of a legend out of the great traditional store
314 of fiction. From the wide distribution of the tale, there
315 is reason to suppose that it is older than Homer, and that
316 it was not originally told of Odysseus, but was attached to
317 his legend, as floating jests of unknown authorship are
318 attributed to eminent wits. It has been remarked with truth
319 that in this episode Odysseus acts out of character, that
320 he is foolhardy as well as cunning. Yet the author of the
321 Odyssey, so far from merely dove-tailing this story at
322 random into his narrative, has made his whole plot turn on
323 the injury to the Cyclops. Had he not foolishly exposed
324 himself and his companions, by his visit to the Cyclops,
325 Odysseus would never have been driven wandering for ten
326 weary years. The prayers of the blinded Cyclops were heard
327 and fulfilled by Poseidon.
329 From the land of the Cyclops, Odysseus and his company
330 sailed to the Isle of Aeolus, the king of the winds. This
331 place too is undefined; we only learn that, even with the
332 most favourable gale, it was ten days' sail from Ithaca. In
333 the Isle of Aeolus Odysseus abode for a month, and then
334 received from the king a bag in which all the winds were
335 bound, except that which was to waft the hero to his home.
336 This sort of bag was probably not unfamiliar to
337 superstitious Greek sailors who had dealings with witches,
338 like the modern wise women of the Lapps. The companions of
339 the hero opened the bag when Ithaca was in sight, the winds
340 rushed out, the ships were borne back to the Aeolian Isle,
341 and thence the hero was roughly dismissed by Aeolus. Seven
342 days' sail brought him to Lamos, a city of the cannibal
343 Laestrygonians. Their country, too, is in No-man's-land,
344 and nothing can be inferred from the fact that their
345 fountain was called Artacia, and that there was an Artacia
346 in Cyzicus. In Lamos a very important adventure befel
347 Odysseus. The cannibals destroyed all his fleet, save one
348 ship, with which he made his escape to the Isle of Circe.
349 Here the enchantress turned part of the crew into swine,
350 but Odysseus, by aid of the god Hermes, redeemed them, and
351 became the lover of Circe. This adventure, like the story
352 of the Cyclops, is a fairy tale of great antiquity. Dr.
353 Gerland, in his Alt Griechische Marchen in der Odyssee, his
354 shown that the story makes part of the collection of
355 Somadeva, a store of Indian tales, of which 1200 A.D. is
356 the approximate date. Circe appears as a Yackshini, and is
357 conquered when an adventurer seizes her flute whose magic
358 music turns men into beasts. The Indian Circe had the habit
359 of eating the animals into which she transformed men.
361 We must suppose that the affairs with the Cicones, the
362 Lotus-eaters, the Cyclops, Aeolus, and the Laestrygonians,
363 occupied most of the first year after the fall of Troy. A
364 year was then spent in the Isle of Circe, after which the
365 sailors were eager to make for home. Circe commanded them
366 to go down to Hades, to learn the homeward way from the
367 ghost of the Theban prophet Teiresias. The descent into
368 hell, for some similar purpose, is common in the epics of
369 other races, such as the Finns, and the South-Sea
370 Islanders. The narrative of Odysseus's visit to the dead
371 (book xi) is one of the most moving passages in the whole
372 poem.
374 From Teiresias Odysseus learned that, if he would bring his
375 companions home, he must avoid injuring the sacred cattle
376 of the Sun, which pastured in the Isle of Thrinacia. If
377 these were harmed, he would arrive in Ithaca alone, or in
378 the words of the Cyclops's prayer, I in evil plight, with
379 loss of all his company, on board the ship of strangers, to
380 find sorrow in his house.' On returning to the Isle Aeaean,
381 Odysseus was warned by Circe of the dangers he would
382 encounter. He and his friends set forth, escaped the Sirens
383 (a sort of mermaidens), evaded the Clashing Rocks, which
384 close on ships (a fable known to the Aztecs), passed Scylla
385 (the pieuvre of antiquity) with loss of some of the
386 company, and reached Thrinacia, the Isle of the Sun. Here
387 the company of Odysseus, constrained by hunger, devoured
388 the sacred kine of the Sun, for which offence they were
389 punished by a shipwreck, when all were lost save Odysseus.
390 He floated ten days on a raft, and then reached the isle of
391 the goddess Calypso, who kept him as her lover for eight
392 years.
394 The first two years after the fall of Troy are now
395 accounted for. They were occupied, as we have seen, by
396 adventures with the Cicones, the Lotus-eaters, the Cyclops,
397 Aeolus, the Laestrygonians, by a year's residence with
398 Circe, by the descent into Hades, the encounters with the
399 Sirens, and Scylla, and the fatal sojourn in the isle of
400 Thrinacia. We leave Odysseus alone, for eight years,
401 consuming his own heart, in the island paradise of Calypso.
403 In Ithaca, the hero's home, things seem to have passed
404 smoothly till about the sixth year after the fall of Troy.
405 Then the men of the younger generation, the island chiefs,
406 began to woo Penelope, and to vex her son Telemachus.
407 Laertes, the father of Odysseus, was too old to help, and
408 Penelope only gained time by her famous device of weaving
409 and unweaving the web. The wooers began to put compulsion
410 on the Queen, quartering themselves upon her, devouring her
411 substance, and insulting her by their relations with her
412 handmaids. Thus Penelope pined at home, amidst her wasting
413 possessions. Telemachus fretted in vain, and Odysseus was
414 devoured by grief and home-sickness in the isle of Calypso.
415 When he had lain there for nigh eight years, the action of
416 the Odyssey begins, and occupies about six weeks.
418 DAY 1 (Book i).
420 The ordained time has now arrived, when by the counsels of
421 the Gods, Odysseus is to be brought home to free his house,
422 to avenge himself on the wooers, and recover his kingdom.
423 The chief agent in his restoration is Pallas Athene; the
424 first book opens with her prayer to Zeus that Odysseus may
425 be delivered. For this purpose Hermes is to be sent to
426 Calypso to bid her release Odysseus, while Pallas Athene in
427 the shape of Mentor, a friend of Odysseus, visits
428 Telemachus in Ithaca. She bids him call an assembly of the
429 people, dismiss the wooers to their homes, and his mother
430 to her father's house, and go in quest of his own father,
431 in Pylos, the city of Nestor, and Sparta, the home of
432 Menelaus. Telemachus recognises the Goddess, and the first
433 day closes.
435 DAY 2 (Book ii).
437 Telemachus assembles the people, but he has not the heart
438 to carry out Athene's advice. He cannot send the wooers
439 away, nor turn his mother out of her house. He rather
440 weakly appeals to the wooers' consciences, and announces
441 his intention of going to seek his father. They answer with
442 scorn, but are warned of their fate, which is even at the
443 doors, by Halitherses. His prophecy (first made when
444 Odysseus set out for Troy) tallies with the prophecy of
445 Teiresias, and the prayer of the Cyclops. The reader will
446 observe a series of portents, prophecies, and omens, which
447 grow more numerous and admonishing as their doom draws
448 nearer to the wooers. Their hearts, however, are hardened,
449 and they mock at Telemachus, who, after an interview with
450 Athene, borrows a ship and secretly sets out for Pylos.
451 Athene accompanies him, and his friends man his galley.
453 DAY 3 (Book iii).
455 They reach Pylos, and are kindly received by the aged
456 Nestor, who has no news about Odysseus. After sacrifice,
457 Athene disappears.
459 DAY 4 (Book iii).
461 The fourth day is occupied with sacrifice, and the talk of
462 Nestor. In the evening Telemachus (leaving his ship and
463 friends at Pylos) drives his chariot into Pherae, half way
464 to Sparta; Peisistratus, the soil of Nestor, accompanies
465 him.
467 DAY 5 (Book iv).
469 Telemachus and Peisistratus arrive at Sparta, where
470 Menelaus and Helen receive them kindly.
472 DAY 6 (Book iv).
474 Menelaus tells how he himself came home in the eighth year
475 after the fall of Troy. He had heard from Proteus, the Old
476 Man of the Sea, that Odysseus was alive, and a captive on
477 an island of the deep. Menelaus invites Telemachus to Stay
478 with him for eleven days or twelve, which Telemachus
479 declines to do. it will later appear that he made an even
480 longer stay at Sparta, though whether he changed his mind,
481 or whether we have here an inadvertence of the poet's it is
482 hard to determine. This blemish has been used as an
483 argument against the unity of authorship, but writers of
484 all ages have made graver mistakes.
486 On this same day (the sixth) the wooers in Ithaca learned
487 that Telemachus had really set out to I cruise after his
488 father.' They sent some of their number to lie in ambush
489 for him, in a certain strait which he was likely to pass on
490 his return to Ithaca. Penelope also heard of her son's
491 departure, but was consoled by a dream.
493 DAY 7 (Book v).
495 The seventh day finds us again in Olympus. Athene again
496 urges the release of Odysseus; and Hermes is sent to bid
497 Calypso let the hero go. Zeus prophecies that after twenty
498 days sailing, Odysseus will reach Scheria, and the
499 hospitable Phaeacians, a people akin to the Gods, who will
500 convey him to Ithaca. Hermes accomplishes the message to
501 Calypso.
503 DAYS 8-12-32 (Book v).
505 These days are occupied by Odysseus in making and launching
506 a raft; on the twelfth day from the beginning of the action
507 he leaves Calypso's isle. He sails for eighteen days, and
508 on the eighteenth day of his voyage (the twenty- ninth from
509 the beginning of the action), he sees Scheria. Poseidon
510 raises a storm against him, and it is not till the
511 thirty-second day from that in which Athene visited
512 Telemachus, that he lands in Scheria, the country of the
513 Phaeacians. Here be is again in fairy land. A rough, but
514 perfectly recognisable form of the Phaeacian myth, is found
515 in an Indian collection of marchen (already referred to) of
516 the twelfth century A.D. Here the Phaeacians are the
517 Vidyidhiris, and their old enemies the Cyclopes, are the
518 Rakshashas, a sort of giants. The Indian Odysseus, who
519 seeks the city of gold, passes by the home of an Indian
520 Aeolus, Satyavrata. His later adventures are confused, and
521 the Greek version retains only the more graceful fancies of
522 the marchen.
524 DAY 33 (Book vi).
526 Odysseus meets Nausicaa, daughter of Alcinous, the
527 Phaeacian King, and by her aid, and that of Athene, is
528 favourably received at the palace, and tells how he came
529 from Calypso's island. His name is still unknown to his
530 hosts.
532 DAY 34 (Books vii, viii, ix, x, xi, xii).
534 The Phaeacians and Odysseus display their skill in sports.
535 Nausicaa bids Odysseus farewell. Odysseus recounts to
536 Alcinous, and Arete, the Queen, those adventures in the two
537 years between the fall of Troy and his captivity in the
538 island of Calypso, which we have already described (pp.
539 xiii-xvii).
541 DAY 35 (Book xiii).
543 Odysseus is conveyed to Ithaca, in the evening, on one of
544 the magical barques of the Phaeacians.
546 DAY 36 (Books xiii, xiv, xv).
548 He wakens in Ithaca, which be does not at first recognise
549 He learns from Athene, for the first time, that the wooers
550 beset his house. She disguises him as an old man, and bids
551 him go to the hut of the swineherd Eumaeus, who is loyal to
552 his absent lord. Athene then goes to Lacedaemon, to bring
553 back Telemachus, who bas now resided there for a month.
554 Odysseus won the heart of Eumaeus, who of course did not
555 recognise him, and slept in the swineherd's hut, while
556 Athene was waking Telemachus, in Lacedaemon, and bidding
557 him 'be mindful of his return.'
559 DAY 37 (Book xv).
561 Is spent by Odysseus in the swineherd's hut. Telemachus
562 reaches Pherae, half-way to Pylos.
565 DAY 38 (Book xv).
567 Telemachus reaches Pylos, but does not visit Nestor. To
568 save time he goes at once on board ship, taking with him an
569 unfortunate outlaw, Theoclymenus, a second-sighted man, or
570 the family of Melampus, in which the gift of prophecy was
571 hereditary. The ship passed the Elian coast at night, and
572 evaded the ambush of the wooers. Meanwhile Odysseus was
573 sitting up almost till dawn, listening to the history of
574 Eumaeus, the swineherd.
576 DAY 39 (Books xv, xvi).
578 Telemachus reaches the Isle of Ithaca, sends his ship to
579 the city, but himself, by advice of Athene, makes for the
580 hut of Eumaeus, where he meets, but naturally does not
581 recognise, his disguised father. He sends Eumaeus to
582 Penelope with news of his arrival, and then Athene reveals
583 Odysseus to Telemachus. The two plot the death of the
584 wooers. Odysseus bids Telemachus remove, on a favourable
585 opportunity, the arms which were disposed as trophies on
586 the walls of the hall at home. (There is a slight
587 discrepancy between the words of this advice and the manner
588 in which it is afterwards executed.) During this interview,
589 the ship of Telemachus, the wooers who had been in ambush,
590 and Eumaeus, all reached the town of Ithaca. In the evening
591 Eumaeus returned to his hut, where Athene had again
592 disguised Odysseus.
594 DAY 40 (Books xvii, xviii, xix, xx).
596 The story is now hastening to its close, and many events
597 are crowded into the fortieth day. Telemachus goes from the
598 swineherd's hut to the city, and calls his guest,
599 Theoclymenus, to the palace. The second-sighted man
600 prophesies of the near revenge of Odysseus. In the
601 afternoon, Odysseus (still disguised) and Eumaeus reach the
602 city, the dog Argos recognises the hero, and dies. Odysseus
603 goes begging through his own hall, and is struck by
604 Antinous, the proudest of the wooers. Late in the day
605 Eumaeus goes home, and Odysseus fights with the braggart
606 beggar Irus. Still later, Penelope appears among the
607 wooers, and receives presents from them. When the wooers
608 have withdrawn, Odysseus and Telemachus remove the weapons
609 from the hall to the armoury. Afterwards Odysseus has an
610 interview with Penelope (who does not recognise him), but
611 he is recognised by his old nurse Eurycleia. Penelope
612 mentions her purpose to wed the man who on the following
613 day, the feast of the Archer-god Apollo, shall draw the bow
614 of Odysseus, and send an arrow through the holes in twelve
615 axe-blades, set up in a row. Thus the poet shows that
616 Odysseus has arrived in Ithaca not a day too soon. Odysseus
617 is comforted by a vision of Athene, and
619 DAY 41 (Books xx, xxi, xxii, xxiii).
621 by the ominous prayer uttered by a weary woman grinding at
622 the mill. The swineherd and the disloyal Melanthius arrive
623 at the palace. The wooers defer the plot to kill
624 Telemachus, as the day is holy to Apollo. Odysseus is led
625 up from his seat near the door to a place beside Telemachus
626 at the chief 's table. The wooers mock Telemachus, and the
627 second- sighted Theoclymenus sees the ominous shroud of
628 death covering their bodies, and the walls dripping with
629 blood. He leaves the doomed company. In the trial of the
630 bow, none of the wooers can draw it; meanwhile Odysseus has
631 declared himself to the neatherd and the swineherd. The
632 former bars and fastens the outer gates of the court, the
633 latter bids Eurycleia bar the doors of the womens' chambers
634 which lead out of the hall. Odysseus now gets the bow into
635 his hands, strings it, sends the arrow through the
636 axe-blades, and then leaping on the threshold of stone,
637 deals his shafts among the wooers. Telemachus, the
638 neatherd, and Eumaeus, aiding him, he slaughters all the
639 crew, despite the treachery of Melanthius. The paramours of
640 the wooers are hanged, and Odysseus, after some delay, is
641 recognised by Penelope.
643 DAY 42 (Books xxiii, xxiv).
645 This day is occupied with the recognition of Odysseus by
646 his aged father Laertes, and with the futile attempt of the
647 kinsfolk of the wooers to avenge them on Odysseus. Athene
648 reconciles the feud, and the toils of Odysseus are
649 accomplished.
651 The reader has now before him a chronologically arranged
652 sketch of the action of the Odyssey. It is, perhaps,
653 apparent, even from this bare outline, that the composition
654 is elaborate and artistic, that the threads of the plot are
655 skilfully separated and combined. The germ of the whole
656 epic is probably the popular tale, known all over the
657 world, of the warrior who, on his return from a long
658 expedition, has great difficulty in making his prudent wife
659 recognise him. The incident occurs as a detached story in
660 China, and in most European countries it is told of a
661 crusader. 'We may suppose it to be older than the legend of
662 Troy, and to have gravitated into the cycle of that legend.
663 The years of the hero's absence are then filled up with
664 adventures (the Cyclops, Circe, the Phaeacians, the Sirens,
665 the descent into hell) which exist as scattered tales, or
666 are woven into the more elaborate epics of Gaels, Aztecs,
667 Hindoos, Tartars, South-Sea Islanders, Finns, Russians,
668 Scandinavians, and Eskimo. The whole is surrounded with the
669 atmosphere of the kingly age of Greece, and the result is
670 the Odyssey, with that unity of plot and variety of
671 character which must have been given by one masterly
672 constructive genius. The date at which the poet of the
673 Odyssey lived may be approximately determined by his
674 consistent descriptions of a peculiar and definite
675 condition of society, which had ceased to exist in the
676 ninth century B.C., and of a stage of art in which
677 Phoenician and Assyrian influences predominated. (Die Kunst
678 bei Homer. Brunn.) As to the mode of composition, it would
679 not be difficult to show that at least the a priori Wolfian
680 arguments against the early use of writing for literary
681 purposes have no longer the cogency which they were once
682 thought to possess. But this is matter for a separate
683 investigation.
689 The Odyssey

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