Friday, June 14, 2024


A Good Land

Homer, Odyssey 15.405-411 (tr. A.T. Murray):
It is not so very thickly settled, but it is a good land,
rich in herds, rich in flocks, full of wine, abounding in wheat.
Famine never comes into the land, nor does any
hateful sickness besides fall on wretched mortals;
but when the tribes of men grow old throughout the city,
Apollo, of the silver bow, comes with Artemis,
and assails them with his gentle shafts, and slays them.

οὔ τι περιπληθὴς λίην τόσον, ἀλλ᾽ ἀγαθὴ μέν,        405
εὔβοτος, εὔμηλος, οἰνοπληθής, πολύπυρος.
πείνη δ᾽ οὔ ποτε δῆμον ἐσέρχεται, οὐδέ τις ἄλλη
νοῦσος ἐπὶ στυγερὴ πέλεται δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσιν·
ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε γηράσκωσι πόλιν κάτα φῦλ᾽ ἀνθρώπων,
ἐλθὼν ἀργυρότοξος Ἀπόλλων Ἀρτέμιδι ξὺν        410
οἷς ἀγανοῖς βελέεσσιν ἐποιχόμενος κατέπεφνεν.

406 εὔβοτος codd.: εὔβοος Jacob Wackernagel, Sprachliche Untersuchungen zu Homer (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1916), pp. 245-246
J.N. Adams, Asyndeton and its Interpretation in Latin Literature: History, Patterns, Textual Criticism (Cambridge University Press, 2021), page number unknown (on line 406):
The unity of the first pair (referring to types of livestock) is underlined by the repeated prefix. The second pair has a loose unity too, in that both terms denote an abundance of certain products of the land.
All four elements of line 406 (oxen, sheep, wine, grain) appear in the Old Hittite Telepinu Proclamation (Catalogue des Textes Hittites 19), § 20 (i 66'-68'), although I don't know if anyone has noticed the parallel. See the text and translation in Andrew Knapp, Royal Apologetic in the Ancient Near East (Atlanta: Society for Biblical Literature, 2015), pp. 83-84, 96 (translation here on p. 96 only):
And Ammuna ruled. And the gods sought (vengeance for) the blood of his father, Zidanta, and into his hand the barley, wine, oxen (and) sheep [they did] no[t ...] in (his) hand.
Calvert Watkins (1933-2013), How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 209, mentioned the passage from the Telepinu Proclamation, but didn't connect it to Homer, Odyssey 15.406.

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