9.47-81

"τόφρα δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ οἰχόμενοι Κίκονες Κικόνεσσι γεγώνευν,

οἵ σφιν γείτονες ἦσαν, ἅμα πλέονες καὶ ἀρείους,

ἤπειρον ναίοντες, ἐπιστάμενοι μὲν ἀφ᾽ ἵππων

ἀνδράσι μάρνασθαι καὶ ὅθι χρὴ πεζὸν ἐόντα.50

ἦλθον ἔπειθ᾽ ὅσα φύλλα καὶ ἄνθεα γίγνεται ὥρῃ,

ἠέριοι· τότε δή ῥα κακὴ Διὸς αἶσα παρέστη

ἡμῖν αἰνομόροισιν, ἵν᾽ ἄλγεα πολλὰ πάθοιμεν.

στησάμενοι δ᾽ ἐμάχοντο μάχην παρὰ νηυσὶ θοῇσι,

βάλλον δ᾽ ἀλλήλους χαλκήρεσιν ἐγχείῃσιν.55

ὄφρα μὲν ἠὼς ἦν καὶ ἀέξετο ἱερὸν ἦμαρ,

τόφρα δ᾽ ἀλεξόμενοι μένομεν πλέονάς περ ἐόντας.

ἦμος δ᾽ ἠέλιος μετενίσσετο βουλυτόνδε,

καὶ τότε δὴ Κίκονες κλῖναν δαμάσαντες Ἀχαιούς.

ἓξ δ᾽ ἀφ᾽ ἑκάστης νηὸς ἐυκνήμιδες ἑταῖροι60

ὤλονθ᾽· οἱ δ᾽ ἄλλοι φύγομεν θάνατόν τε μόρον τε.

ἔνθεν δὲ προτέρω πλέομεν ἀκαχήμενοι ἦτορ,

ἄσμενοι ἐκ θανάτοιο, φίλους ὀλέσαντες ἑταίρους.

οὐδ᾽ ἄρα μοι προτέρω νῆες κίον ἀμφιέλισσαι,

πρίν τινα τῶν δειλῶν ἑτάρων τρὶς ἕκαστον ἀῦσαι,65

οἳ θάνον ἐν πεδίῳ Κικόνων ὕπο δῃωθέντες.

νηυσὶ δ᾽ ἐπῶρσ᾽ ἄνεμον Βορέην νεφεληγερέτα Ζεὺς

λαίλαπι θεσπεσίῃ, σὺν δὲ νεφέεσσι κάλυψε

γαῖαν ὁμοῦ καὶ πόντον· ὀρώρει δ᾽ οὐρανόθεν νύξ.

αἱ μὲν ἔπειτ᾽ ἐφέροντ᾽ ἐπικάρσιαι, ἱστία δέ σφιν70

τριχθά τε καὶ τετραχθὰ διέσχισεν ἲς ἀνέμοιο.

καὶ τὰ μὲν ἐς νῆας κάθεμεν, δείσαντες ὄλεθρον,

αὐτὰς δ᾽ ἐσσυμένως προερέσσαμεν ἤπειρόνδε.

ἔνθα δύω νύκτας δύο τ᾽ ἤματα συνεχὲς αἰεὶ

κείμεθ᾽, ὁμοῦ καμάτῳ τε καὶ ἄλγεσι θυμὸν ἔδοντες.75

ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε δὴ τρίτον ἦμαρ ἐυπλόκαμος τέλεσ᾽ Ἠώς,

ἱστοὺς στησάμενοι ἀνά θ᾽ ἱστία λεύκ᾽ ἐρύσαντες

ἥμεθα, τὰς δ᾽ ἄνεμός τε κυβερνῆταί τ᾽ ἴθυνον.

καί νύ κεν ἀσκηθὴς ἱκόμην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν·

ἀλλά με κῦμα ῥόος τε περιγνάμπτοντα Μάλειαν80

καὶ Βορέης ἀπέωσε, παρέπλαγξεν δὲ Κυθήρων.

    The unfortunate raid on Ismarus. They are driven south by storm.

    The battle with the Cicones goes well enough for most of the day, but the reinforcements summoned by the locals eventually prove too much for the Greeks, who are driven back out to sea after suffering significant losses. Odysseus makes a point of saying that after their costly battle, he would not let the ships sail far before the crew cried out three times to each of their lost comrades. The gesture is apparently part of a ritual to help the souls of the dead reach their final rest in Hades. Odysseus insists on his solicitude for the lost crew, perhaps to blunt any later criticism of his strategic decisions, some of which will cost more lives. 

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    Once underway, the ships make good progress, sailing along from the coast of Thrace, where the Cicones live, until Zeus sends a storm that tears up their sails and forces the crew to row the ships back to the mainland. After two days on shore, they set off again and make it almost to the southern tip of the Peloponnesus. But just as it looks as if he will bring the expedition safely home, rounding Cape Malea and heading north to Ithaka, another storm drives the ships south past the island of Kythera.

    We note that Zeus seems to be working against the mission, twice sending storms that eventually blow the ships off course. We might expect Poseidon to be named as the Greeks’ tormentor, since he is generally in charge of the sea and, as we discovered in Books 1 and 5, holds a special grudge against Odysseus for harming his son. Yet we must remember that the narrator here is not the omniscient poet, but Odysseus, who has no special knowledge of the gods’ motives. Hermes will materialize in Book 10 to protect the hero against Circe’s magic, but Odysseus does not know why, only that the god appears. Likewise, although we know that Athena loves Odysseus and may well be helping him all along the way home, he himself does not see her hand in any of his adventures until after she declares herself to him in Book 13. From his perspective, a storm arrives and blows the ships south. Since he does not know for certain that Poseidon is the instigator, he decides that Zeus, who is both the sky god and the head deity of the universe, must have sent the bad weather, for reasons as yet undisclosed.

    Such an intervention is characteristic of the gods in the Odyssey, whose function in the story is different from what we find in the Iliad. There, the gods, in their carefree, perfected lives, serve as a constant foil for the struggle of humans to come to terms with the limitations of their existence; there, the squabbling between divine siblings, insofar as it affects only them, is always trivial and often comic, reminding us that only the fact of mortality requires humans to have virtue. The Odyssey insists—at least in the dominant heroic narrative directed by Athena—that we accept as the story’s overriding goal the restoration of right order in Ithaka, whatever the cost in misery and suffering. Gods in this kind of story appear principally to help or hinder that restoration. Poseidon hates Odysseus, Athena loves him, and Zeus tries to mediate.

    The geography of the Greeks’ voyage home has so far been recognizable. Traveling toward northwest Greece from Troy by sailing along the southern coast of Thrace, then turning south toward the tip of the Peloponnesus reflects a realistic geography, as does blowing past Kythera when Zeus pushes the ships too far. But after this detour, we will leave the world of maps and encounter a fantastic series of places that cannot be fitted into any known geography of the Mediterranean. Ingenious attempts to trace the exact route of Odysseus’s journey began as early as the 7th century BCE in Hesiod’s Theogony (1011–1016) and continue to this day. Books claiming to recreate Odysseus’s travels, with glossy photos of actual places in the Mediterranean, rest on many coffee tables. Travel agents book tours that offer the chance to sail along the same route as the Greeks took. Entertaining as they might be, these projects are largely fanciful. The important thing about all of the places Odysseus visits after he goes by Kythera is that they are not inhabited by ordinary humans, but monsters and supernatural beings, whose habits and customs allow us to think about the societies in Sparta, Pylos, and Ithaka from a detached perspective.

     

    Further Reading

    Clay, J. 1983. The Wrath of Athena: Gods and Men in the Odyssey, 133–185. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Dougherty, C. 2001. The Raft of Odysseus: The Ethnographic Imagination in Homer’s Odyssey, 3–16. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Morrison, J. 2003. A Companion to Homer’s Odyssey, 32–34. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

    Stanford, W.B. ed. 2003. The Odyssey of Homer: I–XII, xxxv–xli. London: Duckworth & Co.

     

    47  γεγώνευν: “cried out,” = Att.  ἐγεγώνουν, impf. > γέγωνα.

    48  ἅμα πλέονες καὶ ἀρείους: in apposition to γείτονες.

    49  ἀφ᾽ ἵππων: “from chariots,” since Homeric heroes do not fight on horseback.

    50  ὅθι χρὴ πεζὸν ἐόντα: supply μάρνασθαι as the infinitive with χρή.

    50  ἐόντα: = Att. ὄντα.

    51  ὅσα φύλλα: “as many as the leaves…,” introducing a simile.

    51  ὥρῃ: “in their season,” i.e., in spring.

    52  ῥα:  = ἄρα.

    52  παρέστη / ἡμῖν: "happened to us," LSJ παρίστημι B.IV.

    54  στησάμενοι: "standing (firm)," mid., LSJ ἵστημι A.III.2.

    55  βάλλον: "they threw at," or "they struck."

    56  ἀέξετο: impf.

    57  δ᾽: δέ here, following μέν in the previous line, simply introduces the second half of the temporal correlative construction, and needn’t be translated. See Monro 334 (δέ of the Apodosis).

    57  περ: indicates that the participle ἐόντας ( > είμί) is concessive. The participle refers to the Cicones.

    59  καὶ: used like δέ in line 57.

    59  κλῖναν: “put to flight,” = Att. ἔκλιναν.

    62  ἦτορ: accusative of respect or specifying accusative (Goodell 537; Monro 137)

    62  ἀκαχήμενοι: "grieving," pf. pass. ptc.; accented as a present.

    63  ἄσμενοι ἐκ θανάτοιο: “glad [to have escaped] from death.”

    63 ὀλέσαντες: "having suffered the loss of" (+ acc.), aor. act. ptc. > ὄλλυμι. This line is repeated in line 566, the last line of Book 9.

    65  πρίν τινα … ἀῧσαι: "before we called with a shout on each of our unfortunate companions three times." τινα is the subject of the infinitive ἀῧσαι.

    66  Κικόνων ὕπο: = ὑπὸ Κικόνων. The preposition follows its noun, causing the accent on the preposition to fall back onto the first syllable (anastrophe).

    69  ὀρώρει: "arose,"  unaugmented 3rd sing. plupf. indic. act. > ὄρνυμι; treated as an imperfect.

    70  αἱ: refers to the ships.

    70  ἐπικάρσιαι: the adjective ἐπικάρσιος appears only here in Homer, where it means either “headlong” or “crosswise, at an angle, athwart.” The second meaning is perhaps better, since a small boat paddled into a stiff wind is liable to be knocked sideways.

    70  σφιν: dative of possession.

    72  καὶ τὰ μὲν ἐς νῆας κάθεμεν: "and we lowered (and stowed) them into the ships"

    72  τὰ: τὰ ἱστία (supplied from line 70).

    72  κάθεμεν: 2nd aor. act. infin. > καθίημι, “to let down, lower.”

    75  κείμεθ(α): "we lay down (and rested)," LSJ κεῖμαι I.A.2, unaugmented impf.

    76  τέλεσ᾽: “brought around in its course,” LSJ τελέω I.7

    77  ἀνά: “up” (adverbial)

    78  τὰς: demonstrative, referring to the ships (Monro 256).

    79  νύ κεν ... ἰκόμην ... ἀλλά: "I would have arrived ... but ...," κεν is equivalent to ἄν, and introduces the apodosis of a past contrary to fact condition (Goodell 649, see Monro 324), but the protasis (where εἰ μή is expected) is replaced with an indicative clause introduced by ἀλλά.

    80  περιγνάμπτοντα Μάλειαν: “as I was rounding Cape Maleas.” Cape Maleas, in the southeast of the Peloponnese, is still known for rough seas and difficult navigation.

    81  παρέπλαγξεν δὲ Κυθήρων: “drove me off course from Cythera,” παραπλάζω + gen., “to drive off course from.” Cythera (Kithira) is the larger island to the southwest of Cape Maleas. Odysseus was attempting to sail between the cape and Cythera on a course around the Peloponnesus to Ithaka. At this point, he is blown off the map and the stops on his journey, beginning with the land of the Lotos Eaters, cannot be identified.

    τόφρα: at that very moment

    ἄρα: now, then, next, thus

    οἴχομαι οἰχήσομαι ––– ––– ––– –––: to be gone, to have gone

    Κίκονες –ων οἱ: Ciconians

    γεγωνέω γεγωνήσω ἐγεγώνησα γέγωνα: to shout, cry out

    σφεῖς: they

    γείτων –ονος ὁ/ἡ: neighbor

    ἀρείων –ον: better, stouter, stronger, braver, more excellent

    ἤπειρος –ου ἡ: land, mainland, continent

    ναίω – – – – –: to dwell, inhabit, be situated

    ἐπίσταμαι, impf. ἠπιστάμην, fut. ἐπιστήσομαι, aor. pass. ἠπιστήθην: to know, be capable

    μάρναμαι – – – – –: to fight; contend, wrangle

    ὅθι: where

    πεζός –ή –όν: on foot

    φύλλον –ου τό: a leaf

    ἄνθος –ους τό: a flower

    ὥρη –ης ἡ: season

    ἠέριος –α –ον: early, at dawn

    Ζεύς Διός ὁ: Zeus

    αἶσα –ης ἡ: destiny; norm, rule

    παρίστημι παρήσω παρέστησα (or παρέστην) παρέστηκα παρέσταμαι παρεστάθην: to place beside; to present; to procure; to stand, be imminent, occur

    αἰνόμορος –ον: unlucky

    ἄλγος –ους τό: pain

    θοός –ή –όν: swift

    χαλκήρης –ες: of bronze, tipped with bronze

    ἐγχείη –ης ἡ: spear

    ὄφρα: while; until; so that; ὄφρα … τόφρα, while … for so long

    ἠώς ἠοῦς ἡ: dawn

    ἀέξω ἀεξήσω ἠέξησα ἠέξηκα ἠέξημαι ἀεξήθην: to increase, enlarge, foster, strengthen

    ἦμαρ –ατος τό: day

    τόφρα: at that very moment, so long; tόφρα … ὄφρα, as long as … until

    ἀλέξω ἀλεξῶ/ἀλεξήσω ἤλεξα ἠλέξηκα ––– –––: to ward off, repel, protect, defend

    ἦμος: when, while

    μετανίσσομαι – – – – –: to advance

    βουλυτόνδε: toward the time at which oxen are unyoked, toward evening

    κλίνω κλινῶ ἔκλινα κέκλικα κέκλιμαι ἐκλίνην/ἐκλίθην: to bend; put to flight

    δαμάζω δαμάσω ἐδάμασα δεδάμακα δεδάμασμαι/δέδμημα ἐδαμάσθην/ἐδμήθην: to overpower, tame, conquer, subdue

    Ἀχαιός –ά –όν: Achaean

    ἐϋκνήμις –ιδος: having lovely greaves

    ἑταῖρος –ου ὁ: comrade, companion

    ὄλλυμι ὀλῶ ὤλεσα (or ὠλόμην) ὀλώλεκα (or ὄλωλα) ––– –––: to demolish, kill; (mid.) to die, perish, be killed

    μόρος –ου ὁ: fate, destiny, death

    ἔνθεν: from here, from there

    προτέρω: further, forwards

    ἀχεύω, aor. 2 ἤκαχε, pf. pass. ἀκάχημαι: to be afflicted, be grieved

    ἦτορ τό: the heart

    ἄσμενος –η –ον: glad

    ὄλλυμι ὀλῶ ὤλεσα (or ὠλόμην) ὀλώλεκα (or ὄλωλα) ––– –––: to demolish, kill; (mid.) to die, perish, be killed

    ἑταῖρος –ου ὁ: comrade, companion

    προτέρω: further, forwards

    κίω – – – – –: go, go away

    ἀμφιέλισσα (fem. only): rowed on both sides

    δειλός –ή –όν: wretched, unfortunate; base, cowardly, vile

    ἑταῖρος –ου ὁ: comrade, companion

    τρίς: thrice

    αὔω ἀΰσω ἤϋσα ἤϋκα ––– –––: to call out, shout

    πεδίον –ου τό: plain

    δηϊόω/δῃόω δῃώσω ἐδῄωσα δεδῄωκα δεδῄωμαι ἐδῃώθην: to cut down, slay

    ἐπόρνυμι ἐπόρσω ἐπῶρσα: to stir up, arouse, excite

    ἄνεμος –ου ὁ: wind

    Βορέης Βορέαο ὁ: Boreas, North Wind (personified)

    νεφεληγερέτα –ου ὁ: cloud-gatherer

    λαῖλαψ –απος ἡ: a tempest, furious storm, hurricane

    θεσπέσιος [–α] –ον: divine; prodigious, extraordinary, supernatural

    νέφος –ους τό: a cloud

    καλύπτω καλύψω ἐκάλυψα κεκάλυμμαι ἐκαλύφθην: to cover with

    ὁμοῦ: together, at the same place or time

    πόντος –ου ὁ: sea, open sea

    ὄρνυμι ὄρσω ὦρσα ὄρωρα ὀρώρεμαι –––: arouse, stir up; (middle) arise

    οὐρανόθεν: from heaven

    ἐπικάρσιος –α –ον: headlong; cross-wise, at an angle

    ἱστίον –ου τό: a sail

    σφεῖς: they

    τριχθά: in three parts

    τέτραχα: in four parts

    διασχίζω διασχίσω διέσχισα – διέσχισμαι διεσχίσθην: to cleave

    ἴς ἰνός ἡ: force; sinew, tendon

    ἄνεμος –ου ὁ: wind

    καθίημι καθήσω καθῆκα καθεῖκα καθεῖμαι καθείθην: to send down, let fall

    δείδω δείσομαι ἔδεισα δέδοικα (or δίδια) ––– –––: to fear

    ὄλεθρος –ου ὁ: ruin, destruction, death

    ἐσσύμενος –η –ον: vehement, impetuous

    προερέσσω προερέσω προήρεσα: to row forwards

    ἤπειρόνδε: to the mainland

    ἦμαρ –ατος τό: day

    συνεχής –ές: continuous

    ὁμοῦ: together, at the same place or time

    κάματος –ου ὁ: fatigue, exhaustion; effort

    ἄλγος –ους τό: pain

    ἔδω ἔδομαι ἤδα ἔδηδα ἐδήδοται ἠδέσθην: to eat

    εὐπλόκαμος –ον: fair-haired

    τελέω τελῶ or τελέσω ἐτέλεσα τετέλεκα τετέλεσμαι ἐτελέσθην: fulfill; pay; initiate

    ἠώς ἠοῦς ἡ: dawn

    ἱστός –οῦ ὁ: mast, beam

    ἱστίον –ου τό: a sail

    λευκός –ή –όν: white; light, bright

    εἰρύω/ἐρύω ἐρύσω/ἐρύω εἴρυσα/ἔρυσα/ἔρυσσα εἴρυσα/ἔρυσα/ἔρυσσα –– –– εἰρύσθην: to pull, draw, drag

    ἧμαι (or κάθημαι) ––– ––– ––– ––– –––: sit

    κυβερνήτης –ου ὁ: a steersman, helmsman, pilot

    ἰθύνω ἴθυνα ἴθυμμαι ἰθύνθην: to straighten; to guide directly

    ἀσκηθής –ές: unhurt, unharmed, unscathed

    ἱκνέομαι ἵξομαι ἱκόμην ––– ἷγμαι –––: come

    κῦμα –ατος τό: wave

    ῥόος –ου ὁ: a stream, flow, current

    περιγνάμπτω περιγνάμψω περιέγναμψα: to turn around, to double

    Μάλεια –ας ἡ: Malea, southern promontory of the Peloponnesus

    Βορέης Βορέαο ὁ: Boreas, North Wind (personified)

    ἀπωθέω ἀπώσω ἀπέωσα ἀπέωκα ἀπέωσμαι ἀπεώσθην: to thrust away, push back

    παραπλάζω παραπλάγξω παρέπλαγξα – – παρεπλάγχθην: to move way from, drive off course from (+ gen.); to deviate

    Κύθηρα –ων τά: Cythera

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    Suggested Citation

    Thomas Van Nortwick and Rob Hardy, Homer: Odyssey 5–12. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2024. ISBN: 978-1-947822-17-7 https://dcc.dickinson.edu/homer-odyssey/ix-47-81