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37 votes
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Was Odysseus considered unfaithful to his wife in the Odyssey?

No. Introduction To begin with, the question Has Odysseus been unfaithful to his wife? would not make sense to the people of ancient Greece. Such a question presupposes that the Greeks had a ...
verbose's user avatar
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28 votes

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

That's a poor translation, although an understandable one; it should be "Zeus". First I checked a number of other English translations of the Iliad; it was easy to find the relevant passage ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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22 votes
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Where was the Odyssean Ithaca?

TL;DR: Homer’s Ithaca is somewhere in the Ionian islands but his descriptions are hard to reconcile, so pending a really convincing archaeological find it is impossible to be sure how the descriptions ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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21 votes

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

Apparently, because it was true. The Iliad as we know it was composed over some centuries, transmitted orally, before "Homer" synthesized the version that was written down. Practically every word in ...
Joshua Engel's user avatar
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20 votes
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Are there any recorded discrepancies between The Odyssey as oral tradition and The Odyssey as Homer transcribed it?

On the answer Much of the structure of this answer is based on the very clear history of The Odyssey and The Iliad written by Nicolas Bertrand in a 2009 Article (PDF). The primary sources discussed ...
VicAche's user avatar
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19 votes
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Where was Homer born?

A great deal of what is believed to have happened this long ago is based on accounts written centuries later and/or archaeological finds that are open to interpretation. If Homer did exist, it shouldn'...
Josh Rumbut's user avatar
17 votes

Where was Homer born?

Modern literature very much disputes that Homer existed. Nothing is known for certain about Homer himself, and his very existence is now disputed; the Iliad and Odyssey may have different authors, ...
Narusan's user avatar
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17 votes

Why does the Iliad start "in the middle"?

Whether the Iliad starts in the middle depends on what the subject of the poem is. If the subject is the whole Trojan War, then certainly the poem starts in the middle, and finishes well before the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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17 votes

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

The Greek is “Διὸς … βουλή” where “βουλή” means “will” and “Διὸς” is the genitive of “Ζεύς”, hence “will of Zeus”. So why did Rouse translate “Zeus” as “God” here? This is clearly a deliberate ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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16 votes

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

TL;DR: Aphrodite has disguised herself as a worker in wool, an occupation which Rouse stereotypes as northern English. Aphrodite’s speech here is book III, lines 390–394: δεῦρ᾽ ἴθ᾽: Ἀλέξανδρός σε ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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14 votes
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Who first referred to Odysseus as Ulysses?

Ulysses is the Latin form of the Greek Odysseus, stemming from the Sicilian or alternate Latin form Ulixes. The first instance of these forms in literature that I can find is in the Odusia by Livius ...
CHEESE's user avatar
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14 votes

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

“Ambrosial” means “relating to the gods” in general, and does not only apply to their food. ἀμβρόσιος […] poetic form of ἄμβροτος immortal, divine, rarely of persons […] in Homer, night and sleep are ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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13 votes

Why does the Iliad start "in the middle"?

There was a whole cycle of poems detailing the Trojan war and its aftermath. See Wikipedia. Of these, only the two attributed to Homer have survived intact. So you could think of it as starting in ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
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13 votes
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Would the chorus leader typically speak/sing along with the chorus in classical Greek plays?

I have some general advice when tackling questions about ancient literature, which is to always check primary texts. Secondary sources are vital for understanding and interpreting primary texts, but ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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11 votes

Why is Nausicaa named 'burner of ships'?

I'm going to attempt an answer with the caveats that the materialists often find my etymological ideas on names to be poetic as opposed to scientific, and that I'd want to know what Graves thought but ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
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11 votes

Who first referred to Odysseus as Ulysses?

I am not a linguist, but I think it's worth mentioning that the Odysseus→Ulysses transformation is a special case of something called the "Sabine L": some words that had "d" sounds in Old Latin (or in ...
ShreevatsaR's user avatar
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11 votes
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What does "branch of Ares" mean in book II of "The Iliad"?

“Branch of Ares” is a literal translation of “ὄζος Ἄρηος”, for example in the passage quoted in the question: οὐκ οἶος, ἅμα τῷ γε Λεοντεὺς ὄζος Ἄρηος υἱὸς ὑπερθύμοιο Κορώνου Καινεΐδαο: τοῖς δ᾽ ἅμα ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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10 votes

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

There are a few gods and goddesses in ancient Greek mythology (assuming you count that as part of literature) who lead virgin lifestyles. Athena, Artemis, and Hestia come to mind as examples. Now of ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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10 votes

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

We can trace out some possible answers to this by examining the history of her life. Her father encouraged her interest in the classics from an early age. "My father was well-to-do, but he wasn'...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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10 votes

What is a bootless oath?

The specific Butler passage you reference can be found on Perseus line 272-348. An alternate 1924 translation by A.T. Murray may also be found there. The Murray is quite distinct from the Butler ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
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10 votes
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Why is this line about prophecy in book 2 of the Odyssey thought to be "spurious"?

The possibly spurious line is 2.191: πρῆξαι δ᾽ ἔμπης οὔ τι δυνήσεται εἵνεκα τῶνδε: and he will in no case be able to do aught because of these men here Homer. Odyssey 2.191. Translated by A. T. ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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9 votes
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About l. 3 of the second stanza of Sappho's Ὠδὴ εἰς Ἀνακτωρίαν (Ode to Anactoria)

To begin with, we must remember that the famous Sappho 31 is preserved only in (Pseudo-)Longinus's On the Sublime, a first century work whose authorship is disputed. Wharton, in his preface, says: ...
brianpck's user avatar
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9 votes
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Why does Odysseus decide to leave without Philoktetes?

The most natural way to read this passage is that Odysseus concedes defeat for the moment, but only in order to plan another stratagem. Odysseus is renowned for his trickery, and earlier in the play ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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9 votes
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In Homer's Odyssey, how can the one-eyed Cyclops have multiple brows?

This issue has been puzzling commentators for thousands of years, if we take it broadly as "how many eyes did Homer think Polyphemus had, and why?" The Greek text of Odyssey 9.389 uses the ...
alexg's user avatar
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8 votes
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What is a bootless oath?

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: useless, unprofitable a bootless attempt So we can replace the word bootless like this: The oath he swore was useless, but it made Dolon more keen on ...
Mithical's user avatar
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8 votes

Why did Archilochus affiliate the hedgehog with just knowing one big thing?

I don't think the question is asking about what Isaiah Berlin's essay means. I think he's simply asking what Archilochus meant. The fox is commonly regarded as a cunning figure in literature. He is ...
Kevin Ryan's user avatar
8 votes
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Vultures and wives? What does this expression mean?

Pope uses “grateful” in this sense: grateful, adj., 1. Pleasing to the mind or the senses, agreeable, acceptable, welcome. Oxford English Dictionary. and not in the more usual sense of “feeling ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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8 votes

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

The first case is book IV, line 92: ἀγχοῦ δ᾽ ἱσταμένη ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα: Here ἀγχοῦ = near; ἱσταμένη = standing; ἔπεα = words; πτερόεντα = feathered, winged; προσηύδα = spoke to, addressed. So ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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