Homeric Greek | Odyssey 1.63–79: Polyphemus, traditions of the Cyclopes, Poseidon and Zeus

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 wanted to read Homer in ancient Greek, here is your chance to do so with teachers who have spent a lifetime studying these works. Together they help even new readers explore the words and formulas that make “the poetry of grammar and the grammar of poetry” in Homeric epic so exquisite and rewarding.

In this segment, Gregory Nagy (Harvard University), Leonard Muellner (Brandeis University), and Douglas Frame (Center for Hellenic Studies), read Odyssey 1.63–79. Topics include:

  • terminology about conversation
  • epithets of Zeus and Poseidon
  • pronunciation of zeta
  • peri ‘above’ or ‘around’
  • ‘the barrier of your teeth’
  • some problematic words and glosses
  • functions of the genitive
  • meaning of the name Polyphemos
  • different etymologies and meanings of the name Kyklopes, and their multiform myths
  • how a hero who slays a monster can share its characteristics, or how the act relates to the invention of technology
  • comparisons with Indra and Cú Chulainn
  • the meaning of kratos
  • the name and genealogy of Thoosa
  • contrast between land and sea
  • sequences and consequences
  • Poseidon and Zeus

Odyssey Scroll 1, lines 63–79[1]
τὴν δ᾽ ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφη νεφεληγερέτα Ζεύς:
‘τέκνον ἐμόν, ποῖόν σε ἔπος φύγεν ἕρκος ὀδόντων.
πῶς ἂν ἔπειτ᾽ Ὀδυσῆος ἐγὼ θείοιο λαθοίμην,                          65
ὃς περὶ μὲν νόον ἐστὶ βροτῶν, περὶ δ᾽ ἱρὰ θεοῖσιν
ἀθανάτοισιν ἔδωκε, τοὶ οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἔχουσιν;
ἀλλὰ Ποσειδάων γαιήοχος ἀσκελὲς αἰεὶ
Κύκλωπος κεχόλωται, ὃν ὀφθαλμοῦ ἀλάωσεν,
ἀντίθεον Πολύφημον, ὅου κράτος ἐστὶ μέγιστον                    70
πᾶσιν Κυκλώπεσσι: Θόωσα δέ μιν τέκε νύμφη,
Φόρκυνος θυγάτηρ ἁλὸς ἀτρυγέτοιο μέδοντος,
ἐν σπέσσι γλαφυροῖσι Ποσειδάωνι μιγεῖσα.
ἐκ τοῦ δὴ Ὀδυσῆα Ποσειδάων ἐνοσίχθων
οὔ τι κατακτείνει, πλάζει δ᾽ ἀπὸ πατρίδος αἴης.                      75
ἀλλ᾽ ἄγεθ᾽, ἡμεῖς οἵδε περιφραζώμεθα πάντες
νόστον, ὅπως ἔλθῃσι: Ποσειδάων δὲ μεθήσει
ὃν χόλον: οὐ μὲν γὰρ τι δυνήσεται ἀντία πάντων
ἀθανάτων ἀέκητι θεῶν ἐριδαινέμεν οἶος.’

Books mentioned in this video:
W H Allen Vox Graeca

[1] 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. via perseus.tufts.edu
Odyssey 1.44–79 on Perseus
Odyssey 1.63–79 on Scaife

‘Reading Homer’ series