Read "The Iliad and the Odyssey" by Homer available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first purchase. Two of the greatest adventure stories . Free eBooks at Planet caite.info a copy of the 'Odyssey' with the Iliadic passages underlined and referred to in MS.; I have also given an 'Iliad' marked. The Greeks believed that the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed by a single poet whom they named Homer. Nothing is known of his life. While seven Greek.
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Homer's epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey, laid the foundation upon This publication features the Samuel Butler translation, and while it strays from the. INTRODUCTION. In rendering the Iliad the translator has in the main followed the same principles as those which guided him in his translation of the Odyssey. The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Iliad of Homer by Homer. This eBook is for .. R. H. Mackenzie, and appended to my prose translation of the Odyssey. The.
They make preparations to repel the suitors relatives, and go to bed. Become a fan on Facebook. This reflects the bronze-age twelfth-century world. The more we learn about oral poetry, the more difficult it becomes to define those boundaries accurately. But there was no law that forced the poet to stick to material within the traditional story. As he leaves, he tells Penelope that, if he does not return, she is to remarry when Telemachus comes of age
Helen and Menelaus tell stories of Odysseus exploits at Troy 4. As well as stories about Troy and its aftermath, we know of other epic cycles about, for example, the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, and Oedipus. But there was no law that forced the poet to stick to material within the traditional story.
It is, for example, clear that the poet has introduced all sorts of non-Odyssean material into the Odyssey,. The Ares-Aphrodite story just mentioned is obviously one. Calypso is probably an invention to allow time for Tele-machus to grow up see p.
Sometimes the joins in such material show. The result is that in an epic where Poseidon is the main antagonist, Odysseus men are finally destroyed by the sun-god. Again, consider the effect of the bow-contest upon the narrative. Athene is Odysseus great patron, but the bow is Apollos instrument: What we have to imagine then is a bard who is the absolute master of the technique of oral reproduction of traditional epic tales, and has at his disposal a large range of traditional material.
Over a long period of time, and with much experimentation, he gradually welds this material into an epic the size of the Odyssey,. But to be sung to whom? And in what context? The Iliad c.
They would each have taken between twenty and thirty hours to sing. Who could possibly listen to them? We do not know, but the evidence of the activity of the bards in the Odyssey, inclines me to believe that the context must be a royal palace, the audience the dining nobles.
Encouraged by the stability of his employment and the applause of his audience, Homer set out to create a uniquely massive epic, and night after night, after dinner, regaled his masters with the developing story, in suitable bites. The finished product if the poet understood such a concept must have been years in the making. I for one cannot see any other likely context in eighth-century Greece where an endeavour of this size and intricacy could be possible.
This raises another large and awesome problem. If Homer was in fact an oral poet, how did the poems come to be written down, and given the freedom with which the oral poet adapts his material what relation does our version bear to any version that Homer sang? Even if one believes that Homer could write, the problem will not go away. In the BC the Athenian tyrant Peisistratus is said to have produced a definitive text of the Homeric epic for recitation at the great All-Athenian Panathenaic festival which he instituted.
That suggests that there were many versions of Homer in circulation at the time, and it is just as likely that there were alternative Homeric, as well as non-Homeric, versions. Consequently the issue of whether Homer could write is not central to the problem of authenticity. Besides, it is doubtful whether a bard who freely adapted others material and saw his own equally freely adapted would have understood the concept of a single, definitive version.
On the other hand, of course, a Homer who had been working up his uniquely complex and massive version over many years, possibly with the help of writing, may well have had a greater sense of a definitive version than the more typical travelling bard, orally improvising and adapting his far shorter songs to the needs of whatever audience he could gather.
This world flourished from the sixteenth to the twelfth century BC, when it collapsed, for reasons which are not entirely clear.
It was a civilization centred on great palaces like those of Mycenae and Pylos, ruled by powerful and wealthy kings. It was aggressively expansionist, conquering Crete and taking over its centre Cnossus in the fourteenth century BC and as the archaeological record shows trading vigorously as far west as Spain, as far east as Syria and the Black Sea, and with contacts probably as far north as the Baltic, as far south as Africa.
Moreover, it was a civilization which knew writing. The script, now called Linear B, was preserved for us on clay tablets baked hard in the fires that destroyed the palaces, and subsequently excavated in their thousands. In I it was discovered that Linear B was in fact a form of Greek, and since then the work of translating and making sense of it has gone on apace.
The clay tablets have turned out to contain not literature, but the record of the economic transactions of the palace societies where they have been dug up largely in Mycenaean Cnossus and Pylos. It is this world that Homer purports to be recording. Consequently, it may be significant that, in Homer, writing is mentioned but once, and there is no indication at all that his heroes had an economic apparat, of such forbidding complexity and range as the Mycenaeans.
Perhaps such details are not the sort of thing that epic poetry would preserve anyway heroes have better things to do than record that years wool-tally. Perhaps they have been forgotten.
At all events, the Linear B script died with the collapse of Mycenaean civilization in the twelfth century, and for four hundred years Greece was illiterate. In the German adventurer Heinrich Schliemann dug into a mound in modern Hisarlik in the north-west corner of Turkey. It lies in an area known since ancient times as the Troad, where Greeks and Romans alike located Homers Troy Hisarlik was known as Ilium from at least the fourth century BC ; there were two rivers near by, called, like Homers, Scamander and Simoeis; the site lay on a plain, near the ancient not the modern coastline.
No wonder that, when Schliemann discovered an ancient strongly fortified citadel there, he thought that he had discovered Troy. And it is perfectly possible that he had. This may well be the Troy that Greeks besieged in the thirteenth century and took after ten years, to become the subject of song for future generations. It is equally possible that it is not. It must be stated firmly that place-names themselves mean nothing, since later generations were bound to try to identify the site of Homers epics we do the same, with about as much success, with for example the King Arthur legends.
If Homers descriptions of the walls and gates of Troy square with those discovered at Hisarlik and in places they can be made to match it has to be asked how specific the description has to be for a match to be certain the argument takes the form of the fallacy: Homer says Troy has a sloping wall: Dates too are troublesome.
Of the two main candidates for Homers Troy, Troy level ja,. Troy 6, was destroyed c,.
Finally, there is no evidence that Greeks, besieged Hisarlik, let alone Mycenaean Greeks. But even if Schliemanns Troy was the site of a thirteenth-century Trojan war, everything we know about the transmission of oral poetry argues that Homers retelling of tales originating in the thirteenth century can bear virtually no resemblance to what happened to Troy. Oral poets exploit traditional material to please their contemporary audience.
Five hundred years of crowd-pulling, not to mention five hundred years of pressure exerted by traditional story-patterns, folk-tales and new material especially from the east would have ensured that no Odysseus-sprung-to-life would have recognized anythingresembling the truth in Homers retelling of the heroic adventures of the past. Homers epics are in fact far more likely to reflect his own world than that of the thirteenth century.
That raises a large and interesting question: Since the dialect of and locational knowledge shown by the poems suggest strongly that they were composed on or off the western coast of Greek-inhabited Ionia, not on the Greek mainland, it may well be that the Greeks who had come over to settle there since felt some special sympathy for epics about Greek triumphs in Ionia and successful returns back home to Greece.
And it is conceivable that Homer himself knew Hisarlik and constructed his epic around its ruins. But that in itself is no evidence that there was a historical Trojan war or that it took place there. The eighth-century Greek world experienced dramatic growth and expansion. The collapse of Mycenaean civilization in the twelfth century had heralded a dark age: True, this is not the universal, picture. On Lefkandi, for example, in Euboea, a massive heroic shrine, or possibly residential building, dating to , has been uncovered, together with burial complexes filled with goods of eastern origin; and a large adjoining settlement still awaits excavation.
Here at least, even during these dark ages, some people had the resources to celebrate the death of a lord with a wealthy funeral, and the labour-force to construct a building uniquely massive for its time though it may be that archaeologists of earlier generations, lacking contemporary technology, have missed identifying such buildings because the materials out of which they were made mud-brick, wood and thatch can melt unidentifiably into the ground.
But whatever lessons Lefkandi may yet have to teach us about the dark ages, archaeology, especially of cemetery sites, testifies to a huge population explosion in the eighth-century Greek world, heavy colonization east to the islands and mainland of Ionia and the Black Sea, renewed contacts with the east, the introduction of writing, and most of all the establishment of large numbers of settlements.
These clusters of villages, probably joining together for mutual self-protection, in some cases even fortifying themselves, present a vision of a society quite different from that of the Mycenaean world, where the great local palace and its overlord dominated and controlled the outlying settlements.
When we observe that temple construction and the establishment of cults to a city deity consistently begin in such sites in the eighth century, we have good evidence for the beginnings of that sense of community solidarity and self-identification which act as the precursors of the tightly knit communities known as the poleis, singular How does Homers Odyssey, fit into this picture?
I make some large assumptions here, but observe: When Odysseus describes the Cyclopes, he emphasizes that they have no assemblies for making laws, no established legal codes, but everyone makes laws for himself and cares nothing for his neighbours 9. This description is clearly meant to stand in contrast, with Odysseus way of doing things.
Law-making, assemblies and community solidarity are all hinted at here, priorities surely for any community at embryo stage. Later on, Odysseus says the Cyclopes have no ships or ship wrights, so that they cannot visit foreign places as other nations do 9.
This is surely a reference to a world of burgeoning trade, and fits well with other references to Greek contacts with Egypt which started up again at roughly this time; cf.
Homers concept of monarchy is a shadowy one. He is aware that in the epic world kings are the norm, but how kingship worked is not clear to him. The common term for king in Greek is basileus, but all the suitors on Ithaca are called basileus, and Alcinous in Phaeacia has a number of basileis, plural as advisers.
It is not at all clear how a top basileus, emerged or, in Odysseus case, that any suitor who married Penelope would automatically become top basileus, of Ithaca. The hereditary principle, too, does not seem to feature in Homers thinking 1. This fluid situation, where aristocratic nobles such as the Ithacan suitors seem able to exert arbitrary power with little reference to anyone else despite the presence of an assembly on Ithaca, 2.
In these three respects, Homers Odyssey may, well reflect contemporary or near-contemporary developments in the Greek world. But a warning is in order. We cannot date Homer with absolute accuracy, and while many people favour a late eighth-century date for him, there are others who would wish to place him in the seventh century. Linguistic considerations alone suggest strongly, but not conclusively, that the Iliad, came before the Odyssey, and that both came before the farmer-poet Hesiod, who is certainly a seventh-century figure.
Menelaus tale at 4. What is extraordinary is the way in which these worlds are on the whole so effortlessly blended. We see nothing strange about Odysseus sitting on the very seat which the god Hermes has just abandoned 5. Two of the reasons for the successful blending of these separate worlds are that Homer keeps the outrageous, the bizarre and the grotesque firmly at bay. It requires no great leap of the human imagination to envisage one-eyed giants who are cannibals, or witches who can tame animals, but excesses are firmly repressed.
Second, these supernatural figures work within the norms of Greek civilization. Calypso knows how visitors should be entertained, just as Telemachus does 5. Circe has servants who prepare hot baths and lay tables as is done in Ithaca Cyclops is a master-shepherd and cheese connoisseur, with a particularly commendable line in kitchen organization 9.
The blending is especially noticeable in Phaeacia, the divinity of whose surroundings and human character of whose inhabitants the bumbling, genial Alcinous, the delightful Nausicaa produce an especially memorable mix.
The gods too know their place. In the Iliad, divine intervention is commonplace. Gods appear either as themselves or in disguise usually the former and are ever-present, helping their favourites and hindering their enemies. In the Odyssey, their presence is far less noticeable, and with the possible exception of Zeus himself remains on the whole apart from the action, and when he does intervene, he is a quite unlliadic god of human justice.
Observe how Homer sets out the ethical programme of the Odyssey, in the opening book: Odysseus men brought their own death upon themselves by eating the cattle of the sun-god 1. In other words, the gods are concerned about the justice of human behaviour in a way in which they are not in the Iliad,. What, therefore, will be the consequences for the suitors of their, behaviour in Odysseus household?
The moral lesson is firmly drawn at their slaughter But there is one god with a high profile in the Odyssey -, Odysseus patron, Athene.
She stands by her favourite and guides his steps almost continually, and the teasing encounter they enjoy at It is tempting to say that Athenes continuing presence diminishes the stature of Odysseus.
But it is important to emphasize that in Homer the gods help only those who are worthy of it. Athenes patronage does not diminish but enhances Odysseus status as a hero. Her willingness to help his son Telemachus is a similar index of his, value.
The fine dividing-line which separates human from divine in the Odyssey, is matched by an even finer one separating the real from the unreal, especially real from unreal identity,. The issue of Telemachus identity has already been discussed p. Kept from human sight for seven years by Calypso the name is based on a Greek root meaning conceal , refusing to reveal himself to the Phaeacians until he tells his story at 9.
The answer is, of course, a man of masterful cunning, as he is proclaimed to be at the very opening of the This hero needs more than martial skills if he is to survive, return home see p.
His cunning is evinced in many different episodes: Restraint and endurance, deception and disguise: In the prevailing atmosphere of ignorance of the true nature of things in which characters wallow from the very beginning of the Odyssey, e.
Telemachus at 1. But whether listening or reading, newcomers to Homer will find their pleasure heightened if they are aware of some typical features of his style and compositional technique. Expect some degree of repetition at the level of word, phrase and sentence, most apparent in epithets attached to characters and objects, and in formulas of speaking and answering.
Expect repetition at the level of scene e. Observe, for example, how Odysseus is attacked not once in his palace but four times and once outside , each attack building on the last.
Odysseus repeated lying stories come into the same category. Notice again how Homer doubles up his characters and plays them off in pairs: Observe how, with certain larger-scale sequences, Homer combines fixity with flexibility. Take, for example, the scene of welcoming and entertaining a guest at 1. The sequence can be analysed down to the following outline: Athene leaves , 2.
Telemachus sees, her , 5. Telemachus goes to meet, her , 6.
Athene is led in, and her spear taken, , This sequence will occur again, with variations, at 3. In other words, the poet has a basic outline, but he plays the variations in it not Digression is a common feature of epic. Homer digresses to describe exotic places e. Calypsos cave at 5.
Menelaus long tale at 4. He keeps control of his narrative by returning at the end of the digression to the point at which he began it, with almost the same words. Take, for example, the scar episode. At , Eurycleia recognized the scar, the one Odysseus had received years before.
The story of the scar is told, and it ends It was this scar that the old woman felt and recognized. This feature is called ring-composition. It is an extremely common controlling device in Homer. Then she will send him a to Sparta and b to Pylos to find out about his father. As it so happens, Homer reverses this order of events. Athene goes to Ithaca first 1. And Telemachus goes to Pylos first 3.
This device is typical of Homer: The example quoted above characterizes another feature of Homeric narrative, that is, that events which one should expect to take place simultaneously are narrated as if they are taking place one after another, e.
Athene goes to Ithaca and Telemachus tours the Peloponnese; then, and then only, does Hermes set off with his orders to Calypso. This feature is generally in line with what is known as the paratactic nature of Homeric style; that is, that there is little grammatical and temporal interweaving. One thing stands alongside another without the relationship between them being strictly clarified. To put this in concrete terms, whereas we might subordinate a sentence and say Because, it was raining, we stayed in, Homer tends to say It was raining and, we stayed in.
Repetitions and lack of grammatical complexity both help to make Homer a swift, lively, vivid and easy read. Psychologically, too, there is a straightforwardness about Homeric characters quite different from those in the post-Freudian modern novel. Partly, this is because Homer lacks a wide conceptual and psychological vocabulary there are, for example, no words for duty or loyalty in Homer.
Homers world is one of speaking and doing, where the will is almost the equivalent of the deed, and where motive remains largely unstated. But the fact that Homer does not have the vocabulary does not mean that his understanding of human behaviour is unsophisticated.
If there is no overlay of authorial comment in Homer, the reason is that there is no need for it. It is all there in the words and the actions. Rich rewards await those who submit to careful literary analysis the ways in which characters speak and behave towards each other e. Nausicaa and Odysseus in 6, Penelope and Odysseus in That said, however, while it is true that the Odyssey, lays out an ethical programme in 1 which is fulfilled with the death of the suitors in 22 see p.
Are we to read anything into the fact that Helen puts drugs into the drinks of her guests at 4. If Homer tells us that Odysseus speech to Nausicaa at 6. Odysseus heroism has caused debate to this day; can we certainly identify non-heroic traits where Homer remains silent? Is the relationship between Helen and Menelaus in 4 one of unalloyed bliss, or strained incompatibility?
Both views have been quite recently urged. The ancients generally agreed with that judgement on their greatest poet. But when, at the behest of Ptolemy the Greek King of Egypt and a great patron of the arts and sciences , scholars set to work in third-century BC Alexandria to produce a definitive text of Homer, they found that neither the honour in which Homer was held nor the Peisistratean recension see p. Still, they produced their text, and it is from this edited by the great Alexandrian scholar Aristarchus that our text ultimately derives.
Aristarchus, of course, could have got it wrong. But it is a relief that he took the decision not to cut out what he regarded as dubious, but simply to mark it with a dash in the margin athetesis, is the technical term , especially since he tended to athetize repetitions, the very essence of oral poetry!
Debate about what is and what is not Homeric in our text did not begin with Aristarchus we hear of scholars debating the issue in the sixth century BC , and it did not end with him either. Scholia, notes written by later scribes in the margins of our texts, and later commentaries which have survived e. For example, we learn that both Aristarchus and another distinguished editor Aristophanes not, the comic poet made Does that mean that everything after that is not Homeric?
Or that it was an alternative Homeric version? Or should we translate end as climax? Before it was established that the Homeric poems were oral in style, it was common to take inconsistencies, in story-line, language and cultural background as an index of multiple authorship and from them to try to tease out a pure, Homeric core which had been ruined by later editorial incompetents.
This method of approach, known as analysis and commonly applied to the Bible and Shakespeare in the nineteenth century , was fiercely opposed by the unitarians, who regarded every word as the purest original. Under these terms, for example, debate was joined on the following issues: The travels of Telemachus in Odysseus descent into the Underworld in II: Circe tells Odysseus to find out from Teiresias how to get home, but in fact her own instructions given on his return to her in 12 are far more informative.
Odysseus disguise in This happens in It is then entirely forgotten, and Odysseus acts as if he had been altered by time, not divine intervention. Penelope and Odysseus in 18 and Book 24, especially the final scenes: These problems will not go away, but our understanding of them has been transformed by evidence that Homers art is essentially that of an oral poet. Three points must be made. No one ever notices these problems except when they are pointed out, or under the most intensive scrutiny of the text.
In the recitation of the story, they surely passed unnoticed. Inconsistencies do not of themselves mean that different people were responsible for the text. An oral poet experiments ceaselessly with his material, drawing it from many different sources. Some of it may be incompatible. Such inconsistencies may merely indicate where the poet made his own joins between incompatible source-material.
Folk-motifs particularly can cause confusion. A hero can be disguised because of the passage of time or because of divine intervention. The poet must have known and handled both conventions. If he confuses them, doubtless he was not the first, and the overall effect of each recognition, however technically inconsistent, is highly dramatic. Traditional stories often possess a logic of their own. Subject to rational analysis, they may not make perfect sense was Little Red Riding Hood really, that unobservant?
But we do not conclude from such an observation that multiple authorship explains the problem. However we care to argue these issues, we must be fully confident that we understand the logical, cultural and linguistic boundaries within which an oral poet operates before we can start condemning passages as non-Homeric.
The more we learn about oral poetry, the more difficult it becomes to define those boundaries accurately. That said, the sheer feebleness of the ending of the Odyssey, makes it difficult for me at any rate to believe it is by Homer. First, he is the loyal hero-husband, whose eyes are fixed on one goal only: Whatever his trials, tribulations and temptations, everything is subsumed to this ultimate imperative.
Second, he is the eternal wanderer, fired with a passion for knowledge and experience. Even when he returns home, he must set out again and continue wandering till death. Third, he is an anti-hero, a mean, selfish time-server who employs disguise and deceit often to gain the most disreputable ends classical Greeks and Romans frequently Of these responses, it is fair to say that the second initiated by Dante in his Inferno, and developed by, for example, Tennyson in his Ulysses , is not Homeric.
For Homer, Odysseus is driven, helpless and against his will, during his travels in True, he does not need to explore the Cyclops island, but it is hardly in a spirit of objective research that he visits it he wants guest-gifts and food.
He listens to the song of the Sirens because he is going that way anyway and Circe has told him how to do it. Nor does he dismiss Aeolus offer of a wind to take him straight home with protestations about his anthropological interests.
The two other interpretations do arise naturally from the Homeric text. Odysseus leaves Calypso, who even offers him immortality, has no truck with the Lotus-eaters, parts from Circe when his men prompt him, and bids farewell to the luxury-loving Phaeacians. Despite the disasters he knows he will meet on the way and at his return foretold by Teiresias at The seeds of Odysseus anti-heroism are also sown in our text of the Odyssey,. He undergoes disguise and degradation, even namelessness the Cyclops believes him to be No one , to achieve his ends.
He heartlessly exploits Eumaeus. He harps on his hungry stomach to the point of embarrassment. It is easy to accuse of betrayal or bad leadership the man who cuts and runs from the Laestrygonians Many of these problems vanish if we regard Odysseus as a hero facing very different challenges from those on the battlefield.
His disguises and deceptions are all means to a justifiable and suitably heroic end. But here perhaps is the greatest problem for readers of the Odyssey,. However badly the suitors have behaved, is their mass slaughter an appropriate, punishment, especially given that Odysseus not only kills them but also plans to seek compensation for their depredations by raiding their property Four points need to be made on top of what has already been said about xenia, on p. First, in the ancient world, the survival of any household depends on its ability to feed itself.
Anyone who threatens the economic self-sufficiency of a family is, in the long term, threatening its very survival. Second, the suitors are unambiguously warned that their behaviour will lead to their destruction, but they ignore such warnings 2. Homer is careful to establish the ethical pattern of the Odyssey, at its very start, with Zeus speech that humans bring disaster upon themselves by ignoring divine warnings cf. Third, the suitors intend not merely to destroy Odysseus household if they have to, but to kill Odysseus if he returns 2.
Fourth, without any sort of state intervention in matters of crime and punishment, responsibility for righting wrongs lies with the family. Whatever one may think of the severity of Odysseus revenge, no Greek would have argued that he did not have a right to take it. Odysseus, down the ages, has been a man of many parts.
But the text of our Odyssey, invites us to admire its multifariousness: Howard Clarke summarizes those qualities which make our Odyssey, what it is: The Odyssey, is broad and inclusive: The Greek critic Longinus described it as an ethical poem, a word that Cicero later explained Orator, 37, by a definition that could well be applied to the Odyssey -, adapted to mens natures, their habits and every fashion of their life.
PVJ Introduction to the Edition This version of the Odyssey, is, in its intention at any rate, a genuine translation, not a paraphrase nor a retold tale. At the same time, and within the rules I have set myself, I have done my best to make Homer easy reading for those who are unfamiliar with the Greek world.
Nevertheless, they are bound to find here much that is strange and I beg them to bear with me patiently through a few preliminary pages, so that I may provide them beforehand with the answers to some at least of the questions that will occur to them as they read. Homers Iliad, and Odyssey, have from time to time afforded a first-class battleground for scholars. In the nineteenth century in particular, German critics were at endless pains to show, not only that the two works are not the product of a single brain, but that each is a piece of intricate and rather ill-sewn patchwork.
In this process Homer disappeared. By now he has been firmly re-established on his throne and his readers may feel as sure that they are in one mans hands as they do when they turn to As You Like It, after reading King John.
It is beyond question that he is the earliest surviving Greek writer; probable that he lived in the tenth century before Christ in one or other of those cities which the Greeks had established on the Aegaean coast of Asia Minor; and quite likely that he actually committed his poems to writing, though that art was still perhaps hardly known save to the minstrel fraternity to which he belonged.
The rest, including his blindness, is legend or guesswork; and the reader who tries to glean from his poems something of the man, as apart from his art, will find himself baffled by the most impersonal and objective of authors. The Iliad, and Odyssey, are twin aspects of a single theme -the story of the Trojan War and its aftermath. Together they constitute the first expression of the Western mind in literary form the earliest, at all events, which we possess, for it will be obvious even to those who read them in translation that two such masterpieces could not have sprung into being without artistic antecedents.
In form they are epic poems; but it will perhaps make their content clearer to the modern reader if I describe the Iliad, as a tragedy and the Odyssey, as a novel. It is in the Iliad, that we hear for the first time the authentic voice And though it is the first, I am not sure that it is not still the best.
Let the new reader decide for himself.
Each of the two poems is complete and independent as a work of art, with an atmosphere of its own, yet, as we have seen, they share a common background in the Trojan War; and of this war something must now be said. The city of Troy or Ilium, which in Homers account was besieged for ten years and finally sacked by the Greek king Agamemnon and his feudal supporters, has been identified by archaeologists with Hissarlik, an ancient settlement near the coast of the Aegaean in the north-west corner of Asia Minor, whose remains show traces of repeated demolition and rebuilding.
It is quite likely that a marauding force from European Greece played a destructive part in its chequered life. But this is not to say that Homers account is to be taken as history. Homer was neither a historian nor an archaeologist the very ideas of history and archaeology were non-existent in his day and we shall be far nearer to the truth if we regard him as having worked up a mass of legendary and mythical material, of very ancient date and well known to his hearers, into a seemingly historical tale.
His heroes and heroines were the supposed ancestors of the nobles before whom he recited his poems. It flattered his audience to hear of their doughty deeds and, in the absence of genuine pedigrees and records, to imagine these divinely-descended and godlike beings as separated from themselves by only a few generations.
But in my view,1 at any rate, they are mythical, and Homers historical value to us lies, not in his attempt to describe an actual past, but in the picture which, in the course of this attempt, he cannot help giving us of the life and manners of his own day. Before introducing the reader to the scene he will meet with in the Odyssey, we must briefly describe the action of the Iliad, which is no more than an episode in the ten years siege of Troy.
The ships of the Greek expeditionary force are lined up on the beach; the troops are encamped in huts beside them; the fighting takes place on the rolling plain between these huts and the city walls.
Agamemnon, son of Atreus, the Greek overlord, with his brother Menelaus of Sparta, has induced the princes who owe him allegiance to join forces with him against Troy and Priam, its king, because Paris, one of Priams many sons, has abducted Menelaus wife, the beautiful Helen. The narrative covers only the short period of Achilles withdrawal from the fighting after a quarrel with Agamemnon, his resumption of arms, and the death at his hands of the Trojan prince, Hector, whose body is recovered from Achilles for burial by the personal efforts of his father, King Priam.
With Hectors funeral the Iliad, ends. Homer left it to the lesser epic poets who followed him to fill the story out at either end. His own work he resumed2 in the Odyssey, which, though with many a backward look at the actual fighting, starts at a point in the tenth year after its end and deals with the adventures of the Greek chieftains on their homeward way. All the principal heroes are carefully accounted for, but the fate of one of them, Odysseus, King of Ithaca, an island off the western coast of Greece, is for artistic purposes selected as the central theme.
Menelaus, Agamemnon, and Nestor receive special treatment. The adventures of Menelaus, indeed, are given at such length in Book 4 and bear so suggestive a resemblance to those of Odysseus that we are tempted to think that in the material at his At any rate there is a puzzle here for those who would have us believe that the pair are historical figures.
Incidentally, it is noteworthy that apart from the death of Priams daughter, Cassandra, Homer, who shows such meticulous care in winding up the Greek side of the business, concerns himself not at all with the destinies of the Trojans and their allies after the Sack. But to return to the Odyssey - I am not going to spoil my readers pleasure by an analysis of the plot.
Homer is the worlds best story-teller, and I can safely leave them in his hands. A few words, however, on the opening scenes may not come amiss. The tale begins with a council of the Olympian gods of whom more anon in the tenth year after the Fall of Troy. Zeus takes the chair, and comments first on the fate of Agamemnon, murdered on his return from Troy by Clytaemnestra, his wife, and her lover, Aegisthus; a tragic tale which Homer introduces here, and many times again, by way of pointing the contrast between Clytaemnestras infamy and the sterling virtue of Penelope, Odysseus queen.
Next, Odysseus himself is discussed, and it is felt that this unhappy wanderer, who, mainly through the enmity of the sea-god Poseidon, has for ten years failed to reach his home in Ithaca, should be brought back to his kingdom.
At the moment he is detained against his will in the remote island of Ogygia by the nymph Calypso, a lesser goddess who has for seven years exercised her charms in vain upon him; and it is there in Book 5 that we first meet him, and not till Book 9 that we hear what he did in the first three years of his ten years wanderings after the Sack of Troy. Meanwhile, to return to Book 1, after suggesting that Hermes, the Envoy of the gods, should be dispatched to release Odysseus, the goddess Athene, Odysseus champion and protector, visits his palace in Ithaca to stir his young son Telemachus to take active steps towards the discovery of his long-lost father, or, failing this, to bring to an end the intolerable situation that has arisen during his long absence.
For we find that his faithful wife Penelope is besieged in her own house by a host of amorous and ambitious princelings from Ithaca itself and the neighbouring isles, each eager to wed the still attractive queen and even more eager to step into King Odysseus shoes.
It is the doom of these Suitors that is slowly but surely worked up to in the magnificent climax of Book But I undertook to introduce the reader only to the opening scene. Nor, having done this, do I propose to add one more to the many appreciations of the Odyssey, that have been penned. I will content myself by drawing his attention to one or two aspects of Homers genius which have struck me with even greater force during the long period of intimate study which translation involves than they did when I tackled him as a task at school.
I put first the extraordinary insight, delicacy, and truth with which he handles his heros relations with members of the other sex I cannot simply say women, for at least three goddesses are involved, though they are by no means the less feminine for being divine. The princess Nausicaa is a peculiarly attractive figure to modern readers.
Some of us, steeped in the traditions of later fiction, may regret Homers failure to pursue Nausicaas romance to a more exciting conclusion, or may console ourselves by reading a broken heart into her last words with Odysseus.
But Homer was neither a sex-ridden romantic nor a disillusioned realist, with the happy result that his picture of Nausicaa is as Next, in an age which in spite of two savage wars is still too ready to look askance at the barbarity of its predecessors and to censure the occasional brutalities that Homer seems to condone, I cannot help dwelling on the tenderness which he expresses or rather, in some subtle manner, causes us, to feel for all those whom fate or their own follies have afflicted or cast down.
By now I have at least mentioned the chief human actors in the tale. It remains for me to repair an omission and say something of that galaxy of Olympian gods whom the reader is faced with at the very beginning of the poem and will meet as individuals on almost every page.
This is no place for a disquisition on Greek religion, but it is worth while, before describing these gods and their functions, to pause for a moment and inquire what Homers attitude towards them was. The wrong conclusion to jump to, though I have often been tempted to make the mistake, is that Homers attitude is detached and sophisticated. He does believe in his gods, and that very vividly, but whereas the Christian conception of godhead is based on our creation by God in his image and likeness, with imperfections introduced by Satan, Homer regards his gods, though immortal, as made in the image and likeness of man.
Mixed with his deep respect for their almost unlimited powers and his aesthetic appreciation of their beauty, he betrays a very tolerant understanding of their motives and frailties. This leads quite often, as in the famous Lay of Demodocus in Book 8, to a treatment that we can only regard as humorous.
But it was neither flippant nor irreverent. These powerful beings, who were so intimately connected with mens passions and desires, were there to administer, not necessarily to obey, mans moral code. Christian apologists of a later age made a mistake when they suggested that the pagans had invented the gods and their iniquities as an excuse for themselves.
Homer never censures a god nor lets a mortal use a gods misdeeds as a pretext for his own. So much, however inadequate, about Homeric religion. It remains to touch briefly The most casual reader must at every page be struck by the contrast between the carefree happiness of the Olympian company and the toiling, anxious world of men.
This contrast is woven into the very texture of the Iliad, and Odyssey, and is nowhere turned to better account than when Odysseus refuses immortality as a gift from Calypso. To us the device may seem artificial. Yet how effective an artifice! Modern novelists might well envy Homer its use. And now a few words on the individual gods who play a part in Odysseus story.
Zeus, son of Cronos, is supreme the Father of gods and men. It is left a little doubtful to what extent he is independent of Fate,1 but at all events it is he who administers the fate of men.
Justice and the punishment of the transgressor are in his hands. So is mercy, and, perhaps because supreme power engenders confidence, he is more compassionate in his dealings than most of his fellow-Olympians.
He was conceived by Greek artists as a handsome bearded man in early middle age. His consort, Here, is little more than mentioned in the Odyssey.
His brother Poseidon, the god of the earthquake, who rules the sea, as Zeus rules the heavens, is a far less attractive and imposing figure, at any rate in the Odyssey, where he is represented as persecuting the hero with implacable though not unjustified resentment. Hades, is another brother of Zeus. Remote from Olympus, he and his consort Persephone, are the austere and dreaded powers that rule in the realm of the dead. The youthful and attractive Hermes, we have already met in his capacity as Ambassador of Zeus.
He also serves as Guide to the dead. And Homer makes many references to his great exploit in slaying Argus, the monster with the hundred eyes. Ares, the War-god; laughter-loving Aphrodite, the goddess of Love; and lame Hephaestus, the Master-craftsman, though frequently heard of in the Iliad, play only incidental parts in the Odyssey, and may be summarily dealt with here.
So may Phoebus Apollo, the Archer-king, and Artemis, the Virgin Huntress, though both are often mentioned in the poem as responsible for sudden deaths. There are other and lesser deities whom we need not here describe, since Homer himself introduces them with sufficient clarity, but there remains one major figure, Pallas Athene, who commands our attention, since she plays a leading, if not the heroines, part in the plot. Athene is a daughter of Zeus, and inherits many of his powers and qualities.
She is not all-powerful nor all-wise. Her impetuosity is sometimes curbed by Zeus, and she dreads her uncle Poseidon; but subject to these Olympian limitations she stands in Homer for the intellectual and moral qualities which were most admired in man and with which he so liberally endows Odysseus cunning, resolution, industry, and unfaltering courage. It is she too who has given Penelope her outstanding gifts, her skill in fine handicraft, her excellent brain, and that genius she has for getting her way.
When Homer does not describe the disguise she has for the moment adopted, we may think of her as a tall and beautiful woman, with brilliant eyes, clad in a white robe, with the aegis, a goatskin cloak, across her breast, a crested helmet on her head, and a long spear in her hand. Most vivid and alive of Homers gods, she dominates the Odyssey,. And this is true even though there are moments when we are at a loss to say whether the poet means us to imagine her actual presence or to understand only that his characters are exercising the Finally, though the rest of Homers gods are by no means distinguished for nicety in their ideas of fun, he has endowed his favourite goddess with a sense of humour as delicate as his own.
I do not propose to embarrass the reader with elaborate rules for the pronunciation of the names of these gods and the other proper names in Homer; but two hints may be useful.
The final -e, should be sounded Athene has three syllables, Penelope four, Here two. And secondly, -eus, is a diphthong Zeus rhymes with puce, and Odysseus has three syllables only. Here too, while on the subject of names, I must point out that although I have talked, throughout this introduction, of Greece, and the Greeks, the reader will not come across these names in the text. They were not used by Homer, nor were the terms Hellas, and Hellenes, applied by him to the whole of what we call Greece, except in one highly doubtful case.
The people he describes were known to him as Achaeans, and their country as Achaea, though he calls them also Argives, and Danaans, with an apparent impartiality that we need not inquire into here. The rest of what I have to say is addressed more especially to those who know Greek and are interested in the problems involved in the translation of Homer. It has been my aim to present the modern reader with a rendering of the Odyssey, which he may understand with ease and read with appreciation.
I realize that in Homer, as in all greater writers, matter and manner are inseparably blended, and I have sought, in so far as English prose usage allowed it, not only to give what he says but to give it in his own way.
But style is one thing and idiom another. In the very attempt to preserve some semblance of the original effect, I have often found it necessary in fact my duty as translator to abandon, or rather to transform, the idiom and the syntax of the Greek.
Too faithful a rendering defeats its own purpose; and if we put Homer straight into English words, neither meaning nor manner survives. Consider the following version of Oh, that the fellow may get wherewith to profit withal, just in such measure as he shall ever prevail to bend the bow!
That is a tolerably close translation, but quite apart from the fact that the modern reader can scarcely get at the meaning without retranslating the sentence, it cannot fail to suggest to him that Homer must have sounded uncommonly turgid to his original audience. And this, we have good reason to suppose, is not the fact. Take, again, the famous phrase winged words. I submit that nobody knows what this means in English, though it may be beautiful. Are we then to leave it at that, or should we seek to discover and to reproduce the effect aimed at by the original cliche?
Much the same applies to the expression What a word has escaped you by the fence of your teeth! This is intelligible, but unidiomatic, English for What nonsense! Must we flout English usage to preserve it, if we feel convinced, as I do, that Homer took it over, as an idiom discounted by familiar use, from a long line of bardic ancestors, much as he inherited the epithet fast for ships, and has, as a result, to talk of a swift fast ship This brings me to the vexed question of the recurrent epithets.
They are a marked feature of Homers style, and as such I have endeavoured to deal with them faithfully though not without an element of variety , since there are few cases1 where English is altogether recalcitrant to their use.
I think that, whether used for ornamental or for deictic purposes, they too were a legacy from the past. But genius has a way of its own with traditional material; and Homer not only added to his legacy but extended its use in several interesting and subtle ways. For instance, Odysseus and other princes are godlike in right of their divine descent, and as a rule the word has no more significance than royal.
But in Odysseus is a superman. Then there are a number of curious cases in which, unless we credit him with self-conscious art, Homer must be regarded either as having used a stereotyped expression in a meaningless way, or as having nodded which would amount to the same thing for such a stylist. I take it as an axiom that Homer never nods, and I suggest that where in Again, Phemius lyre is called tuneful on an occasion when it is not only silent which would not matter but likely to remain silent for ever as far as Phemius is concerned Or, if this is pushing the idea too far, consider the one occasion in the whole work when early Dawn is late yet Homer persists in calling her early.
The artifice, if such it is, is untranslatable. But there is a kind of half-way usage where we can almost follow the Greek. Dogs are styled noisy, and rightly so in Here the meaning, and the translation, usually so obstreperous, are easily arrived at.
I have cited these instances to make my point that Homer does a great deal with his adjectives and does not always use them in a conventional manner. In his handling of the personal epithets, in particular, we can see how Homer the novelist triumphed over Homer the traditional bard. Just as noisy dogs do not always bark, and all fast ships are not clippers, so prudent Penelope, the wise Telemachus, and the stalwart or resourceful Odysseus are often found, as their characters evolve in the hands of their maker, to behave in a manner far removed from exemplary wisdom, patience, and sagacity.
Indeed they are much too human and too well-drawn for such dull and uniform perfection. Nor, curiously enough, does his apparently inconsequent use of the epithets on inappropriate occasions detract from their effect when more pertinently used. I feel, at any rate, that there are cases where adverbial translation is justified, and I have acted accordingly, though I should be hard put to it if I were asked to lay down formal rules for such procedure.
Two points of detail, and I have done. Over the wine-dark sea I have abandoned my own principles and thrown up my pen in despair.
I know that it is wrong and ought to be wine-faced or something to that effect.
But the English language has failed me, just as it fails me, though for other reasons, when I am tempted to write of the fishy sea. What a pity it is that so natural an epithet should have been reserved by us for such But if there are some occasions when a translator of Homer may justly inveigh against the shortcomings of modern English, there are many more, I fear, when it is his own that are to blame.
And I had better come to an end, rather than invite too close a scrutiny of these, or, worse still, fall into the most heinous crime that a translator can commit, which is to interpose the veil of his own personality between his original and the reader. One of the leading pioneers in the field is Professor T. Webster, who in his brilliant work From Mycenae to Homer, London Methuen and New York Praeger , has even proved able, through a minute examination of the Homeric poems, to give us some idea of the nature of Mycenaean poetry, none of which has as yet come to light.
But though all who wrote about Homer before 19 5 z must already be feeling that their words will eventually stand in need of considerable revision, much work remains to be done; and at the moment I content myself by stating in the Introduction that I seem to have antedated Homer by at least a century.
Jones, Homers Odyssey: The Companion, comments on the text by line-number, with a gloss, and has full introductions to each book. It is usable with this, and any other accurate, translation. Dawe, The Odyssey: Translation and Analysis, Lewes: Book Guild, This massive page tome translation with commentary underneath takes the Odyssey, apart in minute, scholarly detail.
Commentaries on The Odyssey, in Greek W. Stanford, Homers Odyssey , and two vols. Macmillan, Heubeck, S. West and J. Hainsworth, A Commentary on,Homers Odyssey, vol.
Clarendon Press, Heubeck and A. Hoekstra, A Commentary on Homers Odyssey, vol. Russo, M. Fernandez-Galiano and A. Heubeck, A Commentary on Homers Odyssey, vol. Clarendon Press, i99z. Books about Homer Prentice Hall, ; reprinted by Bristol Classical Press with corrections and additions, Finley, The World of Odysseus, Harmondsworth: Pelican Books, second edition, Jasper Griffin, Homer: The Odyssey, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Latacz, Homer: His Art and his World, transl.
Holoka Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, Morris and B. Powell eds. Brill, BBC Books, Tracy, The Story of the Odyssey, Princeton: Princeton University Press, Associated University Presses, Stanford, The Ulysses Theme, Oxford: Blackwell, second edition, Duckworth, , a simple introduction, based on a series in the Daily Telegraph,.
Classics Today There are two associations for members of the general public who live in the UK: Friends of Classics. This is for adults with a love of the ancient world, however creaky their knowledge of it. It organizes seminars, social events and outings, and produces a biennial colour magazine ed. Peter Jones. The Classical Association. The CA organizes lectures at local universities, school reading competitions and an AGM, and publishes regular newsletters. For details of classical summer schools for students and adults in ancient Greek, Latin, and Greek and Roman history and culture, write to: He saw the cities of many people and he learnt their ways.
He suffered great anguish on the high seas in his struggles to preserve his life and bring his comrades home. But he failed to save those comrades, in spite of all his efforts. It was their own transgression that brought them to their doom, for in their folly they devoured the oxen of Hyperion the Sun-god and he saw to 10 it that they would never return.
Tell us this story, goddess daughter of Zeus, beginning at whatever point you will,. All the survivors of the war had reached their homes by now and so put the perils of battle and the sea behind them. Odysseus alone was prevented from returning to the home and wife he yearned for by that powerful goddess, the Nymph Calypso, who longed for him to marry her, and kept him in her vaulted cave. Not even when the rolling seasons brought in the year which the gods had chosen for his homecoming to Ithaca was he clear of his troubles and safe among his friends.
Yet all the gods pitied 20 him, except Poseidon, who pursued the heroic Odysseus with relentless malice till the day when he reached his own country. Poseidon, however, was now gone on a visit to the distant Ethiopians, in the most remote part of the world, half of whom live where the Sun goes down, and half where he rises.
Louisa Menzies. From the Iliad to the Odyssey: Benedict Flynn. The Collected Works of Aeschylus. A Book of Merlin. Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Prometheus Bound. The Twelve Labors of Hercules. Robert Newman. Works of Aeschylus. Works of Hesiod. The Aeneid. The Suppliant Maidens. The Oresteia: The Eumenides.
Tales of Troy and Greece. Quintus Smyrnaeus. The Aeneid Noslen Classics. The Aeneid Of Virgil. Works Of Virgil: The Seven Against Thebes.
The Other Four Plays of Sophocles. Orlando Furioso Volume I, Cantos Ludovico Ariosto. The Iphigenia In Tauris. The Wine of Agamemnon. John McKiernan. Lewis Carroll. Works of Homer. The Odyssey. The Complete Homer: The Iliad and The Odyssey. The Odyssey Collins Classics. Robert Fagles. Timeless Classics: The Iliad and The Odyssey Illustrated. The Iliad of Homer. Ernest Myers. The Iliad and the Odyssey.
Robert Fitzgerald. The Odyssey of Homer. The Iliad of Homer, English verse translation. Homer Complete Collection Anthologies. Harvard Classics Volume Stephen Mitchell. The Homeric Hymns. Anthony Verity. The Collected Works of Homer. Odysseus, the Hero of Ithaca by Homer. Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy.
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