- Jul 2022
Imagine that when you reading The Odyssey in a WorldLiterature class, you found you were interested in
Or maybe you were interested in color the way former British Prime Minister William Gladstone was? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_Homer_and_the_Homeric_Age
Or you noticed a lot of epithets (rosy fingered dawn, wine dark sea, etc.) and began tallying them all up the way Milman Parry did? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milman_Parry
How might your notes dramatically change how we view the world?
Aside: In the Guy Ritchie film Sherlock Holmes (2009), Watson's dog's name was Gladstone, likely a cheeky nod to William Gladstone who was active during the setting of the movie's timeline.
- Nov 2021
from the river and lay down again in the rushes and kissed the grain-givingsoil.
Odysseus staggered from the river and lay down again in the rushes and kissed the grain-giving soil.
This reference to "grain-giving soil" reminds me of this quote:
History celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the ploughed fields whereby we thrive; it knows the names of king's bastards, but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. That is the way of human folly.<br/>—Les Merveilles de l'Instinct Chez les Insectes: Morceaux Choisis (The Wonders of Instinct in Insects: Selected Pieces) by Jean-Henri FabreJean-Henri Fabre (Librairie Ch. Delagrave (1913), page 242)
Culturally we often see people kneeling down and kissing the ground after long travels, but we miss the prior references and images and the underlying gratitude for why these things have become commonplace.
"Grain-giving" = "life giving" here specifically. Compare this to modern audiences see the kissing of the ground more as a psychological "homecoming" action and the link to the grain is missing.
It's possible that the phrase grain-giving was included for orality's sake to make the meter, but I would suggest that given the value of grain within the culture the poet would have figured out how to include this in any case.
By my count "grain-giving" as a modifier variously to farmland, soil, earth, land, ground, and corn land appears eight times in the text. All these final words have similar meanings. I wonder if Lattimore used poetic license to change the translation of these final words or if they were all slightly different in the Greek, but kept the meter?
This is an example of a phrase which may have been given an underlying common phrasing in daily life to highlight gratitude for the life giving qualities, but also served the bard's needs for maintaining meter. Perhaps comparing with other contemporaneous texts for this will reveal an answer?
long-suffering great Odysseus
this epithet appears 19 times by my search/count
It's use here underlines his situation as he contemplates his potential death in simply going to sleep after war and travels to return home.
Was there a Greek idea for "complaining"? The bard here is impinging on complaining on behalf of Odysseus with the description of how hard he's got it, but seems to be glorifying it and Odysseus' grit at the same time. Feels almost akin to the modern idea of the "humble brag", but with "complaining" as the root, thus suggesting "humble complaint".
The Odyssey of Homer A Close Reading - Week 1
- Will Quinn
- Dr. Elizabeth Patton
Looking at Chapters 1-4
- Council of Gods on Mount Olympus
- Journey of Telemachus (Telemachy)
Using Richmond Lattimore's translation of The Odyssey in part because he keeps the sens of the formulaic epithets.
- Longfellow used it in Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie
"This is the forest primeval."
- "The man of many ways" (Odysseus)
- much enduring Odysseus
- rosy fingered dawn
These sorts of epithets are designed to fit the epic into the dactylic hexameter.
Background of story
in Greek suffering can mean "learning"
Q: When does the council on the gods take place?
- Sep 2020
Agamemnon, son of Atreus, that king of men
Epithets are utilized to describe Agamemnon, such that the audience not only gets a picture of his father, but of his role, and of his importance as well. This description fits into the character category, as the epithet through a short and descriptive phrase, indicates key parts of Agamemnon's character at the beginning.
- Oct 2013
We thus see how the inappropriateness of such poetical language imports absurdity and tastelessness into speeches, as well as the obscurity that comes from all this verbosity -- for when the sense is plain, you only obscure and spoil its clearness by piling up words.
After reading these examples, I agree with the author. It is annoying to read pieces that have long or frequent epithets.