Homeric Greek | Odyssey 1.194–202: Wild men holding Odysseus back

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 the original, 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 make Homeric epic so exquisite and rewarding.

In this segment, Douglas Frame (CHS), Leonard Muellner (Brandeis University), and Gregory Nagy (Harvard University) discuss Odyssey 1.194–202, with attention to translation and the meaning of particles, an analysis of a possible reference to alternative/earlier versions of the Odyssey in Athena’s speech to Telemachus, and a discussion of the motif of “wild men.”

Odyssey 1.194–202:

νῦν δ᾽ ἦλθον: δὴ γάρ μιν ἔφαντ᾽ ἐπιδήμιον εἶναι,
σὸν πατέρ᾽: ἀλλά νυ τόν γε θεοὶ βλάπτουσι κελεύθου.   195
οὐ γάρ πω τέθνηκεν ἐπὶ χθονὶ δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς,
ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι που ζωὸς κατερύκεται εὐρέι πόντῳ
νήσῳ ἐν ἀμφιρύτῃ, χαλεποὶ δέ μιν ἄνδρες ἔχουσιν
ἄγριοι, οἵ που κεῖνον ἐρυκανόωσ᾽ ἀέκοντα.
αὐτὰρ νῦν τοι ἐγὼ μαντεύσομαι, ὡς ἐνὶ θυμῷ                 200
ἀθάνατοι βάλλουσι καὶ ὡς τελέεσθαι ὀίω,
οὔτε τι μάντις ἐὼν οὔτ᾽ οἰωνῶν σάφα εἰδώς.

Greek text from: Homer. The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. 1919 Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. Available online:
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‘Reading Homer’ series