aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Homer, Odyssey 19.225-231

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Odysseus, in disguise and pretending not to be Odysseus, tries to convince his wife Penelope that he has seen Odysseus, who Penelope believes is dead, and makes his story sound more plausible by describing in detail the clothes which the Odysseus he pretends to have seen but didn’t (because he is himself Odysseus) was wearing, and which he knows Penelope will recognise from when he (the real Odysseus) was still at home. All clear? It sounds like a convoluted comic-opera plot but this kind of complexity is what makes these books of the Odyssey so brilliant.

χλαῖναν πορφυρέην οὔλην ἔχε δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς,
διπλῆν· ἐν δ’ ἄρα οἱ περόνη χρυσοῖο τέτυκτο
αὐλοῖσιν διδύμοισι· πάροιθε δὲ δαίδαλον ἦεν·
ἐν προτέροισι πόδεσσι κύων ἔχε ποικίλον ἐλλόν,
ἀσπαίροντα λάων· τὸ δὲ θαυμάζεσκον ἅπαντες,
ὡς οἱ χρύσεοι ἐόντες ὁ μὲν λάε νεβρὸν ἀπάγχων,
αὐτὰρ ὁ ἐκφυγέειν μεμαὼς ἤσπαιρε πόδεσσι.

Noble Odysseus had  a purple woollen cloak, folded double; and on it was fashioned a brooch of gold with double clasps. On the front it was cleverly worked: a hound held a dappled fawn in his forepaws, fixing his eyes on it as it struggled. And everyone was amazed at this – how, even though they were made of gold, the hound fixed his eyes on the fawn as he strangled it, while the fawn, desperate to get away, was struggling with its feet.

Written by aleatorclassicus

September 11, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Homer

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