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The Odyssey Homer, Butler Tr.


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The addition was, I imagine, suggested by a desire to excuse and explain the non-appearance of Hermione in bk. xv., as also of both Hermione and Megapenthes in the rest of bk. iv. Megapenthes in bk. xv. seems to be still a bachelor: the presumption therefore is that bk. xv. was written before the story of his marriage here given. I take it he is only married here because his sister is being married. She having been properly attended to, Megapenthes might as well be married at the same time. Hermione could not now be less than thirty.

I have dealt with this passage somewhat more fully in my "Authoress of the Odyssey", p.136-138. See also p. 256 of the same book.

{37} 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} These last three lines are identical with "Il." vxiii. 604-606.

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

{40} 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} 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.

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{42} 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} 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} 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} 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} 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.

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The Odyssey
Homer, Butler Tr.

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