Homeric Greek | Odyssey 1.93–98: Variants in Telemachus’ visits, Nestor, and Athena

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), Douglas Frame (Center for Hellenic Studies), and Leonard Muellner (Brandeis University), read Odyssey 1.93–98. Topics include:

  • scholia for these lines with a different variant
  • range of senses for pempein including ‘send; send and go along’; ritual aspect
  • nostos as a song about homecoming
  • esthlos ‘genuine’
  • kleos ‘having’ Telemachus, and a comparison with Odyssey 24
  • journey as initiation
  • the order of Telemachus’ visits
  • the meaning of ambrosial
  • another connection between Hermes and Athena
  • how Nestor did not bring Odysseus home
  • Athena as Mentor

Odyssey Scroll 1, lines 93–98[1]:

πέμψω δ᾽ ἐς Σπάρτην τε καὶ ἐς Πύλον ἠμαθόεντα
νόστον πευσόμενον πατρὸς φίλου, ἤν που ἀκούσῃ,
ἠδ᾽ ἵνα μιν κλέος ἐσθλὸν ἐν ἀνθρώποισιν ἔχῃσιν.
ὣς εἰποῦσ᾽ ὑπὸ ποσσὶν ἐδήσατο καλὰ πέδιλα,             95
ἀμβρόσια χρύσεια, τά μιν φέρον ἠμὲν ἐφ᾽ ὑγρὴν
ἠδ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἀπείρονα γαῖαν ἅμα πνοιῇς ἀνέμοιο:

Variant lines via Zenodotus

πέμψω δ’ ἐς Κρήτην τε καὶ ἐς Πύλον ἠμαθόεντα
πρῶτα μὲν ἐς Πύλον ἐλθὲ, . . .
κεῖθεν δ’ ἐς Κρήτην τε παρ’ Ἰδομενῆα ἄνακτα,
ὃς γὰρ δεύτατος ἦλθεν Ἀχαιῶν χαλκοχιτώνων.
Scholia for Odyssey 3.313

Mentioned in this video clip:

[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 1.80–124 on Perseus
Odyssey 1.93–98 on Scaife

‘Reading Homer’ series