A sampling of comments on Odyssey Rhapsody 7
|May 11, 2017||By Gregory Nagy listed under Homer commentary|
Following the instructions of Nausicaa, Odysseus approaches the palace of her father Alkinoos (latinized as Alcinous), king of the Phaeacians. This palace and the adjacent garden of Alkinoos are not only enchanting but even enchanted, as will be argued in the comments for Rhapsody 7 here. And, as we will see later in the comments for Rhapsody 13, the garden of Alkinoos was thought to have survived on the island of Kerkyra, known in Roman sources as Corcyra and in modern times as Corfù. In ancient times, the people of Kerkyra claimed that their island was in fact the fabled realm of the Phaeacians.
tagging: Eurymedon, king of the Gigantes ‘Giants’
The mythical Gigantes ‘Giants’ are relevant to Athenian mythology. [[GN 2017.05.11 via HPC 283n38.]]
tagging: Athena and Athens; ellipsis; Erekhtheus
tagging: palace and garden of Alkinoos; present-tense descriptions of permanence
The palace of Alkinoos, described at O.07.081–111, is comparable to the heavenly residence of Menelaos. See the comment at O.04.043–075. I now argue here that the garden of Alkinoos, described at O.07.112–132, is likewise presented as a heavenly place. At O.07.103–130, where we see verses that overlap the descriptions of the palace and the garden, we find that the describing verbs avoid the past tense. The descriptions are restricted to the present tense. It has been argued that a textual interpolation has happened here (West 2000:480), on the grounds that Homeric diction does not use the present tense to indicate the past, and that only those aspects of the past that are viewed as permanent can be described in the present tense: examples include the chariot of Hera, I.05.724–728; the abode of Poseidon under the sea at Aigai, I.13.021–022; the springs of the river Scamander, I.22.147–154; the harbor and cave of the Nymphs at Ithaca, O.13.096–112; and, most important for my argumentation here, the dwelling-place of the gods on Mount Olympus, O.06.043–046. Arguing against the theory of interpolation, I propose that not only the palace of Alkinoos but also his garden are modeled on an idealized and thus heavenly prototype. Both the palace and the garden are models of permanence. In the case of the palace, its permanence is actually made explicit in a reference at O.07.091–094 to golden and silver watchdogs that guard the palace and that are made to last forever by the divine smith Hephaistos. The aura of this beautiful place is not only enchanting but even enchanted. In terms of my argument, then, there is no need to posit (as does West 2000:483–486) a textual interpolation from an unattested passage that would have followed what is spoken by Nausicaa at O.06.255–303 with reference to the palace of Alkinoos and its environs. The present tenses that are used in descriptions of the palace and the garden at O.07.081–111 and 112–132 respectively are appropriate to the heavenly aura of the whole place. [[GN 2017.05.11.]]
tagging: menos ‘mental power’; epithet hieron ‘sacred’
Alkinoos here qualifies for an epithet that would mean ‘he whose mental-power [menos] is sacred [hieron]’. Instead, however, the name of Alkinoos is expressed periphrastically: ‘the sacred [hieron] mental-power [menos] of Alkinoos’, as if the agency of the king originated from his mental power, not from his existence as a person. See also O.07.178. [[GN 2017.05.18 via BA 86, 89.]]
tagging: gastēr ‘stomach’
Hunger for food in the gastēr ‘stomach’ drives the poet as guest to say what his host wants to hear. The poet, then, is dependent on the patronage of his local audiences. [[2017.05.11 via PH 190, GMP 44, 274.]]
tagging: lēth- ‘forget’; [mnē- ‘remember’]
The idea of forgetting as expressed by lēth- is the poetic foil for the idea of remembering as expressed by mnē-. [[GN 2017.05.11 via GMP 44.]]
tagging: endukéōs ‘continuously’
This adverb endukéōs ‘continuously’ expresses the idea of an uninterrupted sequence. [[GN 2017.05.11 via PasP 45n14.]]
tagging: preservation from mortality
The project of Calypso was to make Odysseus immortal, he reports. [[GN 2017.05.11. via BA 197.]]
The Ionian island of Euboea is ostentatiously described as very far away from the island of the Phaeacians. The point of this description may be related to the poetic agenda of the Odyssey in describing the kingdom of the Phaeacians as a mythological replica of the confederation known as the Ionian Dodecapolis as it existed around the late eighth and early seventh centuries BCE. (On the Ionian Dodecapolis, see the anchor comment on I.01.463; also the comment on I.02.867–869 and on I.20.403–405; see also under Ionian Dodecapolis in the Inventory of terms and names.) For a reconstruction of the poetic agenda originating from the Ionian Dodecapolis around the late eighth and early seventh centuries BCE, I recommend the analysis of Frame 2009 ch. 7. (As for a relatively later phase of the poetic agenda, where the kingdom of Alkinoos is reshaped as a mythological replica of the island-state of Kerkyra / Corcyra, I refer to my initial comments on Rhapsody 7 of the Odyssey, where I cross-refer to my further comments on Rhapsody 11.) From the standpoint of Ionian Dodecapolis, dominated by the city-state of Miletus in Asia Minor, the island of Euboea was situated far away to the west. The territory of Euboea was shared by two rival Ionian cities, Eretria and Khalkis, and the first of the two was a close ally of Miletus. The distancing of the Ionian Dodecapolis from Ionian Euboea could be explained as a playfully ostentatious reference to the far reach of East Greeks in dealing with West Greeks. [[GN 2017.05.18; see also HPC 227.]]
BA = Best of the Achaeans, Nagy 1979/1999.
GMP = Greek Mythology and Poetics, Nagy 1990b.
H24H = The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours, Nagy 2013
HC = Homer the Classic, Nagy 2009|2008
HPC = Homer the Preclassic, Nagy 2010|2009
HQ = Homeric Questions, Nagy 1996b
HR = Homeric Responses, Nagy 2003
LSJ = Liddell, H. G., R. Scott, and H. S. Jones. 1940. A Greek-English Lexicon. 9th ed. Oxford.
MoM = Masterpieces of Metonymy, Nagy 2016|2015
PasP = Poetry as Performance, Nagy 1996a
PH = Pindar’s Homer, Nagy 1990a
See the dynamic Bibliography for AHCIP.
Inventory of terms and names
See the dynamic Inventory of terms and names for AHCIP.