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The Odyssey Homer, Butler Tr.


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{78} I take all this passage about the Cyclopes having no ships to be sarcastic--meaning, "You people of Drepanum have no excuse for not colonising the island of Favognana, which you could easily do, for you have plenty of ships, and the island is a very good one." For that the island so fully described here is the Aegadean or "goat" island of Favognana, and that the Cyclopes are the old Sican inhabitants of Mt. Eryx should not be doubted.

{79} For the reasons why it was necessary that the night should be so exceptionally dark see "The Authoress of the Odyssey" pp. 188-189.

{80} None but such lambs as would suck if they were with their mothers would be left in the yard. The older lambs should have been out feeding. The authoress has got it all wrong, but it does not matter. See "The Authoress of the Odyssey" p.148.

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{81} This line is enclosed in brackets in the received text, and is omitted (with note) by Messrs. Butcher & Lang. But lines enclosed in brackets are almost always genuine; all that brackets mean is that the bracketed passage puzzled some early editor, who nevertheless found it too well established in the text to venture on omitting it. In the present case the line bracketed is the very last which a full-grown male editor would be likely to interpolate. It is safer to infer that the writer, a young woman, not knowing or caring at which end of the ship the rudder should be, determined to make sure by placing it at both ends, which we shall find she presently does by repeating it (line 340) at the stern of the ship. As for the two rocks thrown, the first I take to be the Asinelli, see map facing p.80. The second I see as the two contiguous islands of the Formiche, which are treated as one, see map facing p.108. The Asinelli is an island shaped like a boat, and pointing to the island of Favognana. I think the authoress's compatriots, who probably did not like her much better that she did them, jeered at the absurdity of Ulysses' conduct, and saw the Asinelli or "donkeys," not as the rock thrown by Polyphemus, but as the boat itself containing Ulysses and his men.

{82} This line exists in the text here but not in the corresponding passage xii. 141. I am inclined to think it is interpolated (probably by the poetess herself) from the first of lines xi. 115-137, which I can hardly doubt were added by the writer when the scheme of the work was enlarged and altered. See "The Authoress of the Odyssey" pp. 254-255.

{83} "Floating" ([Greek]) is not to be taken literally. The island itself, as apart from its inhabitants, was quite normal. There is no indication of its moving during the month that Ulysses stayed with Aeolus, and on his return from his unfortunate voyage, he seems to have found it in the same place. The [Greek] in fact should no more be pressed than [Greek] as applied to islands, "Odyssey" xv. 299--where they are called "flying" because the ship would fly past them. So also the "Wanderers," as explained by Buttmann; see note on "Odyssey" xii. 57.

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The Odyssey
Homer, Butler Tr.

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