In both the Iliad and the Odyssey there are many mentions of "inward meats," such as:

When the thigh-bones were burned and they had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest up small, put the pieces upon the spits, roasted them till they were done, and drew them off: then, when they had finished their work [ponos] and the feast was ready, they ate it.

(Iliad 1.464–468, translated by Samuel Butler, from the Perseus Digital Library.)

Are the "inward meats" the organ meats, meat close to the bones, or something else?


1 Answer 1


Yes, the "inward meats" are the innards, or the organ meats such as liver and kidneys. A comparison of translations of some lines near the opening of Book 3 demonstrates this. Telemachus and his sailors are nearing Pylos, where some men on the seashore are sacrificing bulls to Neptune.

The original, from the Chicago Homer site:

εὖθ' οἱ σπλάγχν' ἐπάσαντο, θεῷ δ' ἐπὶ μηρία καῖον,
οἱ δ'ἰθὺς κατάγοντο ἰδ' ἱστία νηὸς ἐίσης
στεῖλαν ἀείραντες, τὴν δ' ὥρμισαν, ἐκ δ' ἔβαν αὐτοί

(Odyssey Book 3, ll. 9–10)

The word σπλάγχνα in line 9 means viscera or guts in Modern Greek, and in Homer is taken to refer to offal and organ meats generally. The interlinear translation at the Chicago Homer site renders this as follows:

While these [i.e., the men on the seashore] tasted the entrails and burned the thighs to the god, they [Telemachus's sailors] made straight in, raised and furled the balanced ship's sail, moored her, and went ashore themselves.

(emphasis added)

Other translators use different words in place of entrails, but the word is clearly in contrast to the outer meat of muscles such as the thigh. Here is A. T. Murray in the Loeb Classical Library:

Now when they had tasted the inner parts and were burning the thigh-pieces to the god, the others put straight in to the shore, and hauled up and furled the sail of the shapely ship, and moored her, and themselves stepped forth.

Robert Fagles:

... while the people
tasted the innards, burned the thighbones for the god,
the craft and crew came heading straight to shore.

Alexander Pope:

They taste the entrails, and the altars load
With smoking thighs, an offering to the god.
Full for the port the Ithacensians stand,
And furl their sails, and issue on the land.

Samuel Butler uses the locution you asked about:

As they were eating the inward meats and burning the thigh bones [on the embers] in the name of Neptune, Telemachus and his crew arrived, furled their sails, brought their ship to anchor, and went ashore.

A footnote to this passage in Butler's translation explains:

The heart, liver, lights, kidneys, etc. were taken out from the inside and eaten first as being more readily cooked; the μηρία, or bone meat, was cooking while the σπλάγχν or inward parts were being eaten. I imagine that the thigh bones made a kind of gridiron, while at the same time the marrow inside them got cooked.

So inward meats refers denotatively to the entrails, but by extension to any organ meat.


Homer. The Odyssey. Retrieved from The Chicago Homer, Northwestern University, March 16, 2023.

———. The Odyssey. Rendered into English Prose by Samuel Butler. 1900. Retrieved from Project Gutenberg March 16, 2023.

–––. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles. Introduction and Notes by Bernard Knox. New York: Penguin, 1996. Retrieved from archive.org March 16, 2023.

———. Odyssey, Volume I: Books 1-12. Translated by A. T. Murray. Revised by George E. Dimock. Loeb Classical Library 104. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1919. Retrieved from theoi.com March 16, 2023.

———. The Odyssey of Homer, Volume I. Translated by Alexander Pope. c. 1713–1725. Philadelphia: James Crissy, 1845. Retrieved from archive.org March 16, 2023.

  • 1
    Thanks you. This is exactly the kind of answer I was hoping for.
    – gorignak
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 5:04

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