Wednesday, January 13, 2016


The Abode of the Gods

Homer, Odyssey 6.41-46 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
So the gray-eyed Athene spoke and went away from her
to Olympos, where the abode of the gods stands firm and unmoving
forever, they say, and is not shaken with winds nor spattered
with rains, nor does snow pile ever there, but the shining bright air
stretches cloudless away, and the white light glances upon it.
And there, and all their days, the blessed gods take their pleasure.

ἡ μὲν ἄρ᾽ ὣς εἰποῦσ᾽ ἀπέβη γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη
Οὔλυμπόνδ᾽, ὅθι φασὶ θεῶν ἕδος ἀσφαλὲς αἰεὶ
ἔμμεναι. οὔτ᾽ ἀνέμοισι τινάσσεται οὔτε ποτ᾽ ὄμβρῳ
δεύεται οὔτε χιὼν ἐπιπίλναται, ἀλλὰ μάλ᾽ αἴθρη
πέπταται ἀνέφελος, λευκὴ δ᾽ ἐπιδέδρομεν αἴγλη·
τῷ ἔνι τέρπονται μάκαρες θεοὶ ἤματα πάντα.
Lucretius 3.18-22 (tr. W.H.D. Rouse, rev. Martin Ferguson Smith):
Before me appear the gods in their majesty, and their peaceful abodes, which no winds ever shake nor clouds besprinkle with rain, which no snow congealed by the bitter frost mars with its white fall, but the air ever cloudless encompasses them and laughs with its light spread wide abroad.

apparet divum numen sedesque quietae
quas neque concutiunt venti nec nubila nimbis
aspergunt neque nix acri concreta pruina
cana cadens violat semperque innubilus aether
integit, et large diffuso lumine ridet.
Lucan 2.266-271 (tr. J.D. Duff):
Fitter than war for you is peaceful life and tranquil solitude; so the stars of heaven roll on for ever unshaken in their courses. The part of air nearest earth is fired by thunderbolts, and the low-lying places of the world are visited by gales and long flashes of flame; but Olympus rises above the clouds.

                 melius tranquilla sine armis
otia solus ages; sicut caelestia semper
inconcussa suo volvuntur sidera lapsu.
fulminibus propior terrae succenditur aer,
imaque telluris ventos tractusque coruscos
flammarum accipiunt: nubes excedit Olympus.
Seneca, On Anger 3.6.1 (tr. John W. Basore):
The higher region of the universe, being better ordered and near to the stars, is condensed into no cloud, is lashed into no tempest, is churned into no whirlwind; it is free from all turmoil; it is in the lower regions that the lightnings flash.

pars superior mundi et ordinatior ac propinqua sideribus nec in nubem cogitur nec in tempestatem impellitur nec versatur in turbinem; omni tumultu caret, inferiora fulminantur.
Parallels are from J.B. Hainsworth's commentary on the Odyssey (1988; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), p. 296. Lucan and Seneca, however, seem to me to be influenced more by the popular science of their day than by Homer.

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