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26

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 concept of marital love and fidelity similar to ours, which they didn't. As Stephanie Coontz has pointed out, the idea of marriage as a partnership based on romantic ...


23

The entire crew died, excepting Odysseus, fairly early in the Odyssey at the hands of Zeus by request of Helios. Pretty early on, Odysseus warns the crew not to eat the sheep on Helios' island (XII 417-422, Robert Fagles): ‘My friends, in our ship we have meat and drink, so let’s not touch those cattle, just in case that causes trouble for us. For ...


20

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't surprise us that there would be no evidence of it. If Homer didn't exist, it shouldn't surprise us that for a couple thousand years most people said he did. ...


18

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 relate to reality. Why do we think there might be a real ‘Ithaca’? An important first question, one that is often neglected, do we have any reason to expect ...


18

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, if either can be said to have an author at all. The epics are certainly the product of a long oral tradition, probably dating back to at least the 12th century ...


17

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 that last sentence is subject to debate, called the Homeric Question. But this is the version that I think is most generally agreed on, and which I think best ...


17

On the answer Much of the structure of this answer is based on the very clear history of #The Odyssey# and #The Illiad# written by Nicolas Bertrand in a 2009 Article (PDF). The primary sources discussed are the following, and I will try to reference them more closely in successive edits, but this is a process that takes time, as I relied on translations to ...


13

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 Andronicus. This is an early translation of the Odyssey (third century BC). The only parts of it that survive are 46 lines from 17 books of the Odyssey, but ...


13

I'm going to start with a minor framing correction, before I go on to actually answer your question. The Iliad and The Odyssey aren't texts written by Homer. They're actually oral traditions. It's even debatable whether anyone named "Homer" even existed at all, but if they did, certainly all they did was transcribe a purely verbal story that was passed down ...


10

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 Greek) became "l" in later (classical) Latin. Examples include: lacrima in Latin from Old Latin dacrima, from Greek dakry from PIE *dakru- from which both ...


10

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 end. But is that really the subject? The opening line of the poem is: μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος That is, “sing, goddess, the rage of Peleus’ son ...


10

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 in these passages, which got me wondering about the Greek because The use of "bootless" is undoubtedly wordplay referencing Achilles' famous heel. Murray's ...


8

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 going. The oath didn't mean anything, but it made him more keen anyway. The way I'm understanding it, it's saying that it won't be kept. As Rand said, I'm not ...


8

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 the middle, or you can think of it as being one installment in a long series, most installments of which have now been lost. Much of the audience would have ...


7

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 century poets, thinking their poetry too rule-bound and stifled. He expresses some of these criticisms in the poem Sleep and Poetry:1 Could all this be forgotten? ...


6

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 Patroclus, the peer of the gods in counsel..." Source: Iliad, 17.475, A.T. Murray trans. These horses were supernatural, reputedly the offspring of a harpy ...


5

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 don't have access to his Greek Myths at the moment. Gallifreyan posted an excellent link to a scholar who pondered this question. My take on the essay is ...


5

Collectively, the stories are called the Epic Cycle. They tell the whole story of the Trojan War, from the Judgment of Paris to the death of Odysseus. It includes the Iliad and the Odyssey (though the term "Epic Cycle" is often used just to refer to non-Homeric books). Like those two, the Epic Cycle is based on older, oral stories, possibly dating back as ...


4

As I mentioned elsewhere, Shakespeare's main sources for Romeo and Juliet were Arthur Brooke's narrative poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet (1562) and William Painter's prose version of the story in the second volume of The Palace of Pleasure (1567). There is no evidence that Shakespeare read any of the French or Italian sources for this story, ...


4

Fate is controlled by the Fates, whom no god can contradict. According to Walter Otto's The Homeric Gods (Walter F. Otto, The Homeric Gods: The Spiritual Significance of Greek Religion. 1929. Translated by Moses Hadas, Thames and Hudson, 1979), the Fates are a holdover from a primordial religious belief preceding the Olympians, including Chronos, Gaia, the ...


3

This is a complex subject, and worthy of a thesis, but I'll attempt to briefly address it. The Sarpedon incident is interesting in that Zeus only contemplates altering fate. One could say that his ultimate decision to let Sarpedon die is a confirmation of the inviolability of fate. In the same way, the gods, most notably Poseidon, may argue about ...


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