The Odyssey

Page: 209

37 (return)
[ [Sparta] and Lacedaemon are here treated as two different places, though in other parts of the poem it is clear that the writer understands them as one. The catalogue in the "Iliad," which the writer is here presumably following, makes the same mistake ("Il." ii. 581,582)]

38 (return)
[ These last three lines are identical with "Il." vxiii. 604-606.]

39 (return)
[ From the Greek {Greek} it is plain that Menelaus took up the piece of meat with his fingers.]

40 (return)
[ Amber is never mentioned in the "Iliad." Sicily, where I suppose the "Odyssey" to have been written, has always been, and still is, one of the principal amber producing countries. It was probably the only one known in the Odyssean age. See "The Authoress of the Odyssey", p260.]

41 (return)
[ This no doubt refers to the story told in the last poem of the Cypria about [Paris] and Helen robbing Menelaus of the greater part of his treasures, when they sailed together for Troy.]

42 (return)
[ It is inconceivable that Helen should enter thus, in the middle of supper, intending to work with her distaff, if great festivities were going on. Telemachus and Pisistratus are evidently dining en famille.]

43 (return)
[ In the Italian insurrection of 1848, eight young men who were being hotly pursued by the Austrian police hid themselves inside Donatello's colossal wooden horse in the Salone at Padua, and remained there for a week being fed by their confederates. In 1898 the last survivor was carried round Padua in triumph.]

44 (return)
[ The Greek is {Greek}. Is it unfair to argue that the writer is a person of somewhat delicate sensibility, to whom a strong smell of fish is distasteful?]

45 (return)
[ The Greek is {Greek}. I believe this to be a hit at the writer's own countrymen who were of Phocaean descent, and the next following line to be a rejoinder to complaints made against her in bk. vi. 273-288, to the effect that she gave herself airs and would marry none of her own people. For that the writer of the "Odyssey" was the person who has been introduced into the poem under the name of [Nausicaa], I cannot bring myself to question. I may remind English readers that {Greek} (i.e. phoca) means "seal." Seals almost always appear on Phocaean coins.]

46 (return)
[ Surely here again we are in the hands of a writer of delicate sensibility. It is not as though the seals were stale; they had only just been killed. The writer, however is obviously laughing at her own countrymen, and insulting them as openly as she dares.]

47 (return)
[ We were told above (lines 357,357) that it was only one day's sail.]

48 (return)
[ I give the usual translation, but I do not believe the Greek will warrant it. The Greek reads {Greek}.

This is usually held to mean that Ithaca is an island fit for breeding goats, and on that account more delectable to the speaker than it would have been if it were fit for breeding horses. I find little authority for such a translation; the most equitable translation of the text as it stands is, "Ithaca is an island fit for breeding goats, and delectable rather than fit for breeding horses; for not one of the islands is good driving ground, nor well meadowed." Surely the writer does not mean that a pleasant or delectable island would not be fit for breeding horses? The most equitable translation, therefore, of the present text being thus halt and impotent, we may suspect corruption, and I hazard the following emendation, though I have not adopted it in my translation, as fearing that it would be deemed too fanciful. I would read:—{Greek}.

As far as scanning goes the {Greek} is not necessary; {Greek} iv. 72, (Footnote Greek) iv. 233, to go no further afield than earlier lines of the same book, give sufficient authority for {Greek}, but the {Greek} would not be redundant; it would emphasise the surprise of the contrast, and I should prefer to have it, though it is not very important either way. This reading of course should be translated "Ithaca is an island fit for breeding goats, and (by your leave) itself a horseman rather than fit for breeding horses—for not one of the islands is good and well meadowed ground."

This would be sure to baffle the Alexandrian editors. "How," they would ask themselves, "could an island be a horseman?" and they would cast about for an emendation. A visit to the top of Mt. Eryx might perhaps make the meaning intelligible, and suggest my proposed restoration of the text to the reader as readily as it did to myself.

I have elsewhere stated my conviction that the writer of the "Odyssey" was familiar with the old Sican city at the top of Mt. Eryx, and that the Aegadean islands which are so striking when seen thence did duty with her for the Ionian islands—Marettimo, the highest and most westerly of the group, standing for Ithaca. When seen from the top of Mt. Eryx Marettimo shows as it should do according to "Od." ix. 25,26, "on the horizon, all highest up in the sea towards the West," while the other islands lie "some way off it to the East." As we descend to Trapani, Marettimo appears to sink on to the top of the island of Levanzo, behind which it disappears. My friend, the late Signor E. Biaggini, pointed to it once as it was just standing on the top of Levanzo, and said to me "Come cavalca bene" ("How well it rides"), and this immediately suggested my emendation to me. Later on I found in the hymn to the Pythian Apollo (which abounds with tags taken from the "Odyssey") a line ending {Greek} which strengthened my suspicion that this was the original ending of the second of the two lines above under consideration.]