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Questions tagged [greek-language]

Questions about works of literature that were originally written in the Greek language, regardless of whether they were written or published in Greece or elsewhere.

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32 votes
2 answers
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Was Odysseus considered unfaithful to his wife in the Odyssey?

Penelope is portrayed throughout the story to be virtuous when it comes to men, meaning that she holds out hope for her husband's safety 20 years after she saw him and had no other relationships in ...
Matrim Cauthon's user avatar
31 votes
1 answer
2k views

Are there any recorded discrepancies between The Odyssey as oral tradition and The Odyssey as Homer transcribed it?

The Odyssey began as oral tradition, and was later transcribed by someone we now call "Homer." Disregarding the Homeric Question concerning the identity of the person who transcribed these works, it ...
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25 votes
3 answers
19k views

How many sailors from Odysseus' crew survived the Odyssey?

It's been a long time since I've read it, maybe 20 years. Of course, Odysseus survives, but does anyone else? How many sailors did he start with, and how many made it home with him (or safely departed ...
miltonaut's user avatar
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23 votes
2 answers
2k views

In the Iliad, why does Homer list every captain involved in the Trojan war?

In book two of the The Iliad (which you can read online), Homer does something that I find strange: he interrupts the story to list the name of every captain involved in the Trojan war: And now, O ...
user avatar
21 votes
4 answers
6k views

Are there recorded instances of asexuality in the body of ancient Greek writings?

I've been reading through a fraction of Ancient Greek literature, lately, and an odd thought occurred to me. In nearly every work of Greek literature that is tangentially related to sexuality (which, ...
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19 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why does this copy of the Iliad mention "the will of God"?

In my copy of the Iliad, which is a Mentor Book published in April 1938, it opens like this: An angry man—there is my story: The bitter rancour of Achillês, prince of the house of Peleus, which ...
Mithical's user avatar
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19 votes
3 answers
4k views

Why does the Iliad start "in the middle"?

The Iliad starts at kind of an odd spot. It starts by describing the argument between Agamemnon and Achilles (Akhilleus in my translation) over the women they have acquired from raids. It mentions off-...
auden's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
705 views

Who first referred to Odysseus as Ulysses?

When I was in high school, Homer's Iliad, Homer's Odyssey, and Virgil's Aeneid were taught as a trilogy of sorts. Was Virgil the first Roman to refer to Odysseus as 'Ulysses' or was there another (...
miltonaut's user avatar
  • 661
16 votes
2 answers
4k views

Did Homer base the Iliad and the Odyssey on mythology?

Homer's two epic poems follow the story of the Trojan War through various perspectives. Did Homer make up the stories, or was there some kind of historical/mythological predecessor that he retold (or ...
Matrim Cauthon's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why is Nausicaa named 'burner of ships'?

Nausicaa in the Odyssey is the princess of a race of seafarers. She and her people are beloved of and descended from Posidon/Neptune. Nausicaa herself is directly descended from both sides as her ...
Mirte's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
497 views

About l. 3 of the second stanza of Sappho's Ὠδὴ εἰς Ἀνακτωρίαν (Ode to Anactoria)

A long time ago, I translated all of Sappho's poems. In doing so, I had to reconstruct some parts of the texts, and do some amateur level criticism. One example of such work lies in the poem sometimes ...
MickG's user avatar
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13 votes
3 answers
6k views

Where was Homer born?

I hope not to ask a very silly question. As the title says, I want to know the place where Homer was born. According to some quick searches on the web, he was born in Ionia. But it seems strange for ...
user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
395 views

What is a bootless oath?

In Book X (10) of The Illiad Hector (edition: Britannica Great Books of the Western World (The Illiad and The Odessey together), rendered into English prose by Samuel Butler) swears the following oath ...
Mirte's user avatar
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12 votes
2 answers
1k views

Where was the Odyssean Ithaca?

It's well known that the home of Odysseus, as described in Homer's Odyssey, was the island of Ithaca. There's a modern-day Greek island called Ithaca, and according to Wikipedia: Modern Ithaca is ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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12 votes
0 answers
314 views

About Sappho's epigram for the little girl Aithopia: first line (manuscript tradition and experts' take), and authorship

Background and research: As I am planning to post this poem on my blog relatively soon, I was doing some research on the first line. From what I had written previously, I seem to have found two ...
MickG's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
244 views

Who put forward this completion to Sappho 94, and what is it actually supposed to read?

In Sappho 94 (τεθνάκην δ' ἀδόλως θέλω), there is this tercet at ll. 25-27, which is very incomplete, which Edmonds doesn't even have, and which Bibliotheca Augustana and Campbell p. 69 both read: ...
MickG's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
702 views

Would the chorus leader typically speak/sing along with the chorus in classical Greek plays?

I had assumed that the chorus leader would speak along with the chorus. He is a part of it, after all. However, when I asked my literature professor on a whim he wasn't completely sure. Doing my own ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,854
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why does the portrayal of fate in the Odyssey differ from that of the Iliad?

In the Iliad, fate and the will of the gods are two distinct concepts. This is shown when Zeus is tempted to save his son, Sarpedon, from his predestined death in battle, though he ultimately chooses ...
gray's user avatar
  • 111
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why does Aphrodite speak like this while disguised as the old woman?

In Book III of The Iliad, there's an incident where the goddess Aphrodite disguises herself to speak to Helen. The translator wrote her speech like this: Now she took the shape of an old woman who ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 25.1k
10 votes
2 answers
346 views

How did Edith Hamilton become interested in transcribing her famous Greek myths?

Edith Hamilton is probably the most famous modern-day writer of Greek myths, but how did she become interested in transcribing these myths?
George A. Solodun's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
288 views

Why is the oath sworn to Dolon by Hector a "bootless" one?

In this question I asked abouth the following oath "May Jove the thundering husband of Juno bear witnes that no other Trojan but yourself shall mount those steeds, and that you shall have your ...
Mirte's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
160 views

About Sappho's "Hector and Andromacha" poem

In a relatively short while, I'll have to write a blog post on this poem, so I've been doing some research into the sources. The first is P.Oxy. 1232, an image of which is the following. A later ...
MickG's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why are all of these things described as "ambrosial" in "The Iliad"?

In Book XIV of The Iliad, when Hera is preparing to distract Zeus on Mount Ida, her preparations are described: She closed the doors, and first she washed every speck and stain from her lovely body ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 25.1k
9 votes
3 answers
763 views

Who is the 'pale Titan-woman' in Swinburne's 'Ave atque Vale'?

For those fond of intertextual references, 'Ave atque Vale' by Algernon Charles Swinburne, an English poet's lament for the French poet Charles Baudelaire, is something of a goldmine, being absolutely ...
Tom Hosker's user avatar
  • 1,088
9 votes
1 answer
487 views

In Homer's Odyssey, how can the one-eyed Cyclops have multiple brows?

When Odysseus meets the Cyclops, the text never explicitly states that he has only a single eye. However, the unfolding action in which Odysseus and his crew blind the Cyclops by pushing a stake into ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22.6k
9 votes
1 answer
461 views

Why does Odysseus decide to leave without Philoktetes?

I am reading James Scully's translation of Philoktetes (also known as Philoctetes), in The Complete Plays of Sophocles, translated by Robert Bagg & James Scully. At one point, after getting ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,854
9 votes
1 answer
307 views

What are the other (aside from the Iliad) classical sources for the saga of Troy?

I recently read the Iliad, and I was surprised by how many of the events surrounding the fall of Troy that I had heard about here and there were left out. What are the oldest extant sources for the ...
tel's user avatar
  • 191
8 votes
1 answer
809 views

Why is Philoktetes specifically hunting "doves"?

I am reading James Scully's translation of Philoktetes (also known as Philoctetes), in The Complete Plays of Sophocles, translated by Robert Bagg & James Scully. Twice it is mentioned that the ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,854
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

Are Endymion and Hyperion by John Keats intended to be related pieces?

Hyperion and Endymion are poems by the famous poet John Keats, both based on Greek mythology. Hyperion talks about the Titan's despairing after their defeat by the Olympians, and was written in 1818-...
user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
163 views

Do we have (non-biblical) literary allusions referring to person as a "χριστός"?

A great starting place for Greek literature is always Perseus Tufts, and the entry for "χριστός" returned these dictionary entries and textual allusions. As expected, we see entries for the ...
Arash Howaida's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why is Seamus Heaney's "The Cure at Troy" so often quoted in political contexts?

The Cure at Troy is Seamus Heaney's translation and adaptation of Sophocles's Philoctetes set during the Trojan War. It seems to be very often quoted by politicians: most recently by British prime ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.8k
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

What does "branch of Ares" mean in book II of "The Iliad"?

I have been reading the Iliad in the Penguin Classics edition (translated by Emile Victor Rieu and Martin Hammond), and in the second book, when Homer is naming the groups of Achaeans and Trojans, the ...
benfd's user avatar
  • 73
7 votes
2 answers
876 views

Can the Odyssey be consumed independently of the Iliad?

The Odyssey is largely a sequel to the Iliad, both of them being attributed to Homer and describing events which are roughly part of a single overall story (Odysseus first fighting in the Trojan War ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.8k
7 votes
1 answer
278 views

Why is Helen's speech here in the Iliad described as being given "warmly"?

In Book VI of The Iliad, when Hector has come to try to get Paris to fight, Helen chips in with her point of view: Hector answered nothing, but Helen said warmly: "Brother dear, I am ashamed; I ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 25.1k
7 votes
1 answer
187 views

Looking for an Aeschylus quote mistranslated from Polish

I am working through a book of poetry by Tadeusz Miciński, a Polish writer who was active toward the end of the 19th century. The book is called "W mroku gwiazd" or "In the Twilight of the Stars" and ...
Nathaniel D. Hoffman's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
170 views

On what basis are lines attributed to the whole chorus or just the chorus leader?

I was cross-referencing my translation of Aias*, James Scully's from The Complete Plays of Sophocles (translated by Robert Bagg & James Scully), with a free online translation by Ian Johnston. I ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,854
7 votes
3 answers
1k views

Can 'peripeteia' be a positive change too?

"Peripeteia" is an unexpected reversal of circumstances or a turning point. In tragedy, this sudden change of circumstances is usually a negative one. Is it possible for peripeteia to be a ...
Tessa P's user avatar
  • 71
7 votes
1 answer
304 views

How is Aias's initially informal reintroduction speech reflected in the original text?

I am reading James Scully's translation of Aias (also known as Ajax), in The Complete Plays of Sophocles, translated by Robert Bagg & James Scully. When Aias enters for the second time, during the ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,854
7 votes
1 answer
195 views

Has any writer claimed that Hector, not Achilles, is the true hero of the Iliad?

From his farewell to his wife Andromache in Book VI to the splendid description of his funeral with the which the epic concludes, Hector exhibits many of the hallmarks of the archetypal protagonist of ...
Soyuz42's user avatar
  • 560
6 votes
1 answer
576 views

Why is this line about prophecy in book 2 of the Odyssey thought to be "spurious"?

In my translation of the Odyssey by Emily Wilson, she translates part of a speech concerning prophecy by Eurymachus at the end of book 2 as this: You know many ancient forms of wisdom, but if you ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22.6k
6 votes
2 answers
662 views

Meaning and addressees of Hector's threats

The scene: Zeus and Apollo have just revived Hector who received a near-fatal blow from a boulder thrown by Ajax. Apollo and Hector then lead a refreshed Trojan onslaught on the Greeks, compelling ...
Soyuz42's user avatar
  • 560
6 votes
1 answer
363 views

What does it mean when the chorus speaks "severally" in "Aias"?

I am reading James Scully's translation of Aias (also known as Ajax), in The Complete Plays of Sophocles, translated by Robert Bagg & James Scully. Eleven different times, per the search function ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,854
6 votes
1 answer
598 views

Why do Athena and Talthybios speak "plainly" in the Iliad?

In Book IV of the Iliad, there are several instances where the translation refers to someone speaking "plainly": Athena now took the form of a Trojan, the doughty warrior Laodocos Antenor's ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 25.1k
6 votes
1 answer
387 views

Which ancient Greek politician punched a teacher for failing to carry his copy of Homer?

When I first studied the Iliad in middle school, I remember a story about about a politician in Athens punching a traveling tutor for the sin of not carrying his copy of Homer on him at all times. ...
William Grannis's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
653 views

What does Nestor's love of a "good horse" have to do with anything?

In Book IV of The Iliad, there's a part where King Agamemnon is going through the soldiers and talking to everybody. He speaks to Nestor at one point: He passed on to Nestor, and found him among his ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 25.1k
5 votes
1 answer
465 views

Where did Euripides say "keep a balance in your life"?

I've seen this attributed to Euripides in various places: The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live ...
bertday's user avatar
  • 153
5 votes
1 answer
160 views

What does it mean to "graze on the fizzy air"?

This is from James Scully's translation of Aias (also known as Ajax), in The Complete Plays of Sophocles, translated by Robert Bagg & James Scully.                      Dear boy may you be ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,854
5 votes
1 answer
123 views

What are "inward meats" in Homer?

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 ...
gorignak's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
173 views

How could the old woman's lover become rich, if it goes against the play's comic project?

I just finished reading Pluto by Aristophanes. The comic project of the play is to obtain a more fair distribution of richness which is at the beginning given only to dishonest people (or to people ...
mattiav27's user avatar
  • 307
5 votes
2 answers
145 views

Why was it necessary to put out Patroclos' pyre with wine in the Iliad?

In Book XXIII of the Iliad, after Patroclos' body has been burnt, Achillês tells the Greeks to put out the pyre with wine: Now the people were all gathering round Agamemnon. They made such noise and ...
Mithical's user avatar
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