The Odyssey

Page: 4

(2) The story of Penelope and the suitors, with the episode of Telemachus' voyage to Pylos. This poem begins with line 80 (roughly) of Book i., is continued to the end of Book iv., and not resumed till Ulysses wakes in the middle of line 187, Book xiii., from whence it continues to the end of Book xxiv.

In "The Authoress of the Odyssey", I wrote:

   the introduction of lines xi., 115-137 and of line ix.,
   535, with the writing a new council of the gods at the
   beginning of Book v., to take the place of the one that was
   removed to Book i., 1-79, were the only things that were
   done to give even a semblance of unity to the old scheme
   and the new, and to conceal the fact that the Muse, after
   being asked to sing of one subject, spend two-thirds of her
   time in singing a very different one, with a climax for
   which no-one has asked her. For roughly the Return occupies
   eight Books, and Penelope and the Suitors sixteen.

I believe this to be substantially correct.

Lastly, to deal with a very unimportant point, I observe that the Leipsic Teubner edition of 894 makes Books ii. and iii. end with a comma. Stops are things of such far more recent date than the "Odyssey," that there does not seem much use in adhering to the text in so small a matter; still, from a spirit of mere conservatism, I have preferred to do so. Why [Greek] at the beginnings of Books ii. and viii., and [Greek], at the beginning of Book vii. should have initial capitals in an edition far too careful to admit a supposition of inadvertence, when [Greek] at the beginning of Books vi. and xiii., and [Greek] at the beginning of Book xvii. have no initial capitals, I cannot determine. No other Books of the "Odyssey" have initial capitals except the three mentioned unless the first word of the Book is a proper name.


July 25, 1900.


Butler's Translation of the "Odyssey" appeared originally in 1900, and The Authoress of the Odyssey in 1897. In the preface to the new edition of "The Authoress", which is published simultaneously with this new edition of the Translation, I have given some account of the genesis of the two books.

The size of the original page has been reduced so as to make both books uniform with Butler's other works; and, fortunately, it has been possible, by using a smaller type, to get the same number of words into each page, so that the references remain good, and, with the exception of a few minor alterations and rearrangements now to be enumerated so far as they affect the Translation, the new editions are faithful reprints of the original editions, with misprints and obvious errors corrected—no attempt having been made to edit them or to bring them up to date.

(a) The Index has been revised.

(b) Owing to the reduction in the size of the page it has been necessary to shorten some of the headlines, and here advantage has been taken of various corrections of and additions to the headlines and shoulder-notes made by Butler in his own copies of the two books.