Homeric Greek | Odyssey 1.113–117: Telemachus visualizing his father

We are pleased to share this segment in the series on reading Homeric epic in ancient Greek. In each installment we read, translate, and discuss a small passage in the original Greek in the most accessible way. If you’ve ever dreamed of reading Homer in ancient Greek, here is your chance to do so with teachers who have spent a lifetime thinking about this poetry. With their guidance even new readers can enjoy “the poetry of grammar and the grammar of poetry” that makes Homeric epic so exquisite and rewarding.

In this segment, Gregory Nagy (Harvard University), Douglas Frame (CHS), and Leonard Muellner (Brandeis University), read Odyssey 1.113–117. Topics include:

  • how Telemachus visualizes his father and the scattering of the suitors
  • prolepsis
  • expressing abstractions
  • Telemachus’ generation and ancestral families
  • terminology of grief and sorrow

Odyssey 1.113–117[1]

τὴν δὲ πολὺ πρῶτος ἴδε Τηλέμαχος θεοειδής,
ἧστο γὰρ ἐν μνηστῆρσι φίλον τετιημένος ἦτορ,
ὀσσόμενος πατέρ᾽ ἐσθλὸν ἐνὶ φρεσίν, εἴ ποθεν ἐλθὼν               115
μνηστήρων τῶν μὲν σκέδασιν κατὰ δώματα θείη,
τιμὴν δ᾽ αὐτὸς ἔχοι καὶ δώμασιν οἷσιν ἀνάσσοι.

Mentioned in this video clip:

  • Claude Lévi-Strauss: La Pensée sauvage (available translated into English as The Savage Mind)
  • Richard P. Martin (1993): ‘Telemachus and the Last Hero SongColby Quarterly  Vol. 29: Iss. 3, Article 6.

[1] Greek text from: Homer. The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919.

‘Reading Homer’ series