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, Leonard Muellner, and Gregory Nagy discuss Odyssey 1.230–238. Topics include grieving over one who is missing in action; the concept of “blameless” as originating in the sacrificial language; a metaphor of ending (the war) as winding up a wool thread into a ball; and a discussion of the relation of movable nu and pauses at lines’ ends.
τὴν δ᾽ αὖ Τηλέμαχος πεπνυμένος ἀντίον ηὔδα: 230
‘ξεῖν᾽, ἐπεὶ ἂρ δὴ ταῦτά μ᾽ ἀνείρεαι ἠδὲ μεταλλᾷς,
μέλλεν μέν ποτε οἶκος ὅδ᾽ ἀφνειὸς καὶ ἀμύμων
ἔμμεναι, ὄφρ᾽ ἔτι κεῖνος ἀνὴρ ἐπιδήμιος ἦεν:
νῦν δ᾽ ἑτέρως ἐβόλοντο θεοὶ κακὰ μητιόωντες,
οἳ κεῖνον μὲν ἄιστον ἐποίησαν περὶ πάντων 235
ἀνθρώπων, ἐπεὶ οὔ κε θανόντι περ ὧδ᾽ ἀκαχοίμην,
εἰ μετὰ οἷς ἑτάροισι δάμη Τρώων ἐνὶ δήμῳ,
ἠὲ φίλων ἐν χερσίν, ἐπεὶ πόλεμον τολύπευσεν.
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:
Odyssey 230–279, on Perseus
Odyssey 230–238, on Scaife