Sunday, June 05, 2022


The Cry of Celebration

Homer, Odyssey 22.407-416 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock; she = Eurycleia):
But she, when she beheld the corpses and the great welter of blood, made ready to raise the cry of celebration, seeing what a deed had been done. But Odysseus stayed and checked her in her eagerness, and spoke and addressed her addressed her with winged word: "In your own heart rejoice, old woman, but refrain yourself and do not cry out aloud: an unholy thing is it to boast over slain men. These men here has the fate of the gods destroyed and their own reckless deeds, for they honored no one of men upon the earth, high or low, whoever came among them; therefore by their wanton folly they brought on themselves a shameful death."

ἡ δ᾽ ὡς οὖν νέκυάς τε καὶ ἄσπετον εἴσιδεν αἷμα,
ἴθυσέν ῥ᾽ ὀλολύξαι, ἐπεὶ μέγα εἴσιδεν ἔργον·
ἀλλ᾽ Ὀδυσεὺς κατέρυκε καὶ ἔσχεθεν ἱεμένην περ,
καί μιν φωνήσας ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα·        410
"ἐν θυμῷ, γρηῦ, χαῖρε καὶ ἴσχεο μηδ᾽ ὀλόλυζε·
οὐχ ὁσίη κταμένοισιν ἐπ᾽ ἀνδράσιν εὐχετάασθαι.
τούσδε δὲ μοῖρ᾽ ἐδάμασσε θεῶν καὶ σχέτλια ἔργα·
οὔ τινα γὰρ τίεσκον ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων,
οὐ κακὸν οὐδὲ μὲν ἐσθλόν, ὅτις σφέας εἰσαφίκοιτο·        415
τῷ καὶ ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ἀεικέα πότμον ἐπέσπον."
Manuel Fernández-Galiano on line 408:
ὀλολυγή (with the long -υ- which led Cobet to suggest accentuating this word with the circumflex, ὀλολῦξαι) refers to the ritual ululation of women, as of the Trojan women in the temple in Il. vi 301, whereas the deeper male equivalent, used as a war cry in xxiv 463, was called ἀλαλητός; the verb ὀλολύζω occurs here, in 411, and in iii 450 (Nestor's womenfolk at a sacrifice), iv 767 (Penelope sacrificing to Athena and entreating her help against the suitors).
Id. on lines 411-416:
The authenticity of Odysseus' humane and compassionate speech, apparently so out of tune with the archaic ferocity of the rest of the Book, has been much disputed: see, for example, Heubeck, Dichter, 83, Erbse, Beiträge, 130—1, Eisenberger, Studien, 142. The deluge of deletions has been swollen, in addition, by the fact that this is a cento of Homeric passages from elsewhere: 414-15 = xxiii 65-6, a speech by Penelope; the beginning of 415 = Il. vi 489, and is similar to Od. viii 553; its ending, almost identical to xx 188; 416, a calque of 317 with an opening similar to that of xxiii 67. To the general condemnation, Blass adds his vote, somewhat irrelevantly alleging in reference to 414-16 that Odysseus' speeches to Eurycleia are otherwise (431-2, 481-4, 491) short and to the point (Interpolationen, 209-10). But Odysseus' sentiments can be paralleled elsewhere in Homer, in passages which condemn hybris and warn of its consequences: thus ii 168—9, Halitherses' prophecy and warning to the suitors to moderate their actions; ix 270—1, Odysseus calls to mind Zeus' protection of suppliants and strangers; xiv 83—4, Eumaeus states that the gods dislike σχέτλια ἔργα, honouring justice and αἴσιμ' ἔργα; xviii 141-2, Odysseus demands that no one be ἀθεμίστιος, and that all enjoy in silence the δῶρα θεῶν ... ὅττι διδοῖεν; xxi 28-9, the poet comments on Iphitus, σχέτλιος, and his lack of respect for the θεῶν ὄπιν and the table of hospitality; and so on. On the lofty tolerance and respect for the dead shown, for example, in 412, it has been objected (E.T. Vermeule, Archaeologia V, 125) that the adj. ὅσιος is nowhere used in Homer, and that there is only one other occurrence of the noun ὁσίη, formed from the adj. with the abstract suffix -ια *ὁσιιᾱ, and preceded by οὐχ in a parallel to the Lat. non fas est (xvi 423, where Penelope reproaches Antinous for the plot against Telemachus, οὐδ᾽ ὁσίη κακὰ ῥάπτειν ἀλλήλοισιν). Scholars have often adduced the parallel of Archilochus fr. 134 W οὐ γὰρ ἐσθλὰ κατθανοῦσι κερτομεῖν ἐπ᾿ ἀνδράσιν cited by the sch. on 412 (see also the apophthegm of Cheilon τὸν τεθνηκότα μὴ κακολογεῖν, and Cratinus fr. 102 φοβερὸν ἀνθρώποις τόδ᾿ αὖ | κταμένοις ἐπ᾿ αἰζηοῖσι καυχᾶσθαι μέγα); the Archilochean passage has even been proposed as the source of the supposed interpolation here (whereas Merkelbach, Untersuchungen, 129 n. 2 and 231, argues the exact contrary, asserting that the Archilochean passage is derivative and hence provides a terminus ante quem for these lines). The most illuminating parallel, however, is to be found in Odysseus' humane and sympathetic words on Socus, whom he has just killed, in Il. xi 450-5.

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