Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Cause for Rejoicing

Homer, Odyssey 23.47-48 (Eurycleia to Penelope, "him" = Odysseus; tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
The sight of him would have warmed your heart with cheer,
all befouled with blood and filth like a lion.

                                          ἰδοῦσά κε θυμὸν ἰάνθης
αἵματι καὶ λύθρῳ πεπαλαγμένον, ὥς τε λέοντα.
λύθρον isn't filth in general but rather "defilement from blood, gore" (Liddell-Scott-Jones).

Alfred Heubeck in his commentary on line 48:
= xxii 402. This line, omitted in many MSS, is considered by a number of editors and critics (among them Ameis-Hentze-Cauer; von der Mühll, Odyssee, col, 761; W. Schadewaldt, op. cit. (Introd.), 15 n. 9) to be a late interpolation, largely on account of its 'unseemliness', which may already have led to its athetesis by the Alexandrian critics (which then influenced the MS tradition). Such purely subjective arguments can, however, lead to false conclusions. Here it must be borne in mind that the speaker is Eurycleia who earlier had herself been moved to jubilation by the sight of the dead suitors (xxii 407 ff.: ἴθυσέν ῥ' όλολύξαι). For the authenticity of the line cf. Stanford, ad loc.; van der Valk, Textual Criticism, 271; G. Scheibner, DLZ lxxxii (1961), col. 622 ('xxiii 48 recalls once again the description of xxii 204 [sic, read 402] ff.').
I'm also reminded of Hector's prayer for his son (Homer, Iliad 6.480-481, tr. Richmond Lattimore):
                                                             ... and let him kill his enemy
and bring home the blooded spoils, and delight the heart of his mother.

                                 φέροι δ᾽ ἔναρα βροτόεντα
κτείνας δήϊον ἄνδρα, χαρείη δὲ φρένα μήτηρ.

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