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36 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 ...
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29 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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'...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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16 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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12 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 3,990
8 votes

Had Keats read any of Homer's works before reading Chapman's translation of them?

He was probably familiar with Alexander Pope's version, which was the prestigious version at the time.1 It's likely that Keats wasn't enamored with this version. He was famously critical of 18th ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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8 votes

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

This is book IV, line 318: τὸν δ᾽ ἠμείβετ᾽ ἔπειτα Γερήνιος ἱππότα Νέστωρ: In A. T. Murray’s 1924 translation, that’s To him then made answer the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia: “ἱππότης” means “...
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8 votes

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

The original Greek text is VI.332 τὸν δ᾽ Ἑλένη μύθοισι προσηύδα μειλιχίοισι: where μειλιχίοισι means “gentle, soothing” (the word is related to μέλι meaning “honey”). This adjective does not seem ...
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7 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 ...
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6 votes
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Can the Odyssey be consumed independently of the Iliad?

tl;dr Yes, they can be read independently. On the nature of myth (hand-wavy background stuff) In a comment to your question, you note: these were originally oral traditions rather than written books.....
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6 votes
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Why is the oath sworn to Dolon by Hector a "bootless" one?

It likely has to do with a quote by Automedon later in the Iliad: “Alcimedon, what man beside of the Achaeans is of like worth to curb and guide the spirit of [Achilles'] immortal steeds, save only ...
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  • 3,990
6 votes
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Which ancient Greek politician punched a teacher for failing to carry his copy of Homer?

The anecdote appears in Plutarch’s life of Alcibiades: After he [Alcibiades] had finished his education, he went into a school, and asked the master for a volume of Homer. When the master said that ...
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5 votes

How many sailors from Odysseus' crew survived the Odyssey?

The whole crew dies, except Odysseus. He started off to the Trojan war with a whole fleet of ships. Odysseus won the victory. Then he landed on the Achaeans land, allies of Troy. He lost 72 men there. ...
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5 votes

Why does the Iliad start "in the middle"?

The existing answers ignore the most important comment from Antiquity on this matter, namely chapter XXIII from Aristotle's Poetics (in Ingram Bywater's 1898 translation), quoted below, or in S. H. ...
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