11.225-270

"νῶι μὲν ὣς ἐπέεσσιν ἀμειβόμεθ᾽, αἱ δὲ γυναῖκες225

ἤλυθον, ὤτρυνεν γὰρ ἀγαυὴ Περσεφόνεια,

ὅσσαι ἀριστήων ἄλοχοι ἔσαν ἠδὲ θύγατρες.

αἱ δ᾽ ἀμφ᾽ αἷμα κελαινὸν ἀολλέες ἠγερέθοντο,

αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ βούλευον ὅπως ἐρέοιμι ἑκάστην.

ἥδε δέ μοι κατὰ θυμὸν ἀρίστη φαίνετο βουλή·230

σπασσάμενος τανύηκες ἄορ παχέος παρὰ μηροῦ

οὐκ εἴων πίνειν ἅμα πάσας αἷμα κελαινόν.

αἱ δὲ προμνηστῖναι ἐπήισαν, ἠδὲ ἑκάστη

ὃν γόνον ἐξαγόρευεν· ἐγὼ δ᾽ ἐρέεινον ἁπάσας.

ἔνθ᾽ ἦ τοι πρώτην Τυρὼ ἴδον εὐπατέρειαν,235

ἣ φάτο Σαλμωνῆος ἀμύμονος ἔκγονος εἶναι,

φῆ δὲ Κρηθῆος γυνὴ ἔμμεναι Αἰολίδαο·

ἣ ποταμοῦ ἠράσσατ᾽ Ἐνιπῆος θείοιο,

ὃς πολὺ κάλλιστος ποταμῶν ἐπὶ γαῖαν ἵησι,

καί ῥ᾽ ἐπ᾽ Ἐνιπῆος πωλέσκετο καλὰ ῥέεθρα.240

τῷ δ᾽ ἄρα εἰσάμενος γαιήοχος ἐννοσίγαιος

ἐν προχοῇς ποταμοῦ παρελέξατο δινήεντος·

πορφύρεον δ᾽ ἄρα κῦμα περιστάθη, οὔρεϊ ἶσον,

κυρτωθέν, κρύψεν δὲ θεὸν θνητήν τε γυναῖκα.

λῦσε δὲ παρθενίην ζώνην, κατὰ δ᾽ ὕπνον ἔχευεν.245

αὐτὰρ ἐπεί ῥ᾽ ἐτέλεσσε θεὸς φιλοτήσια ἔργα,

ἔν τ᾽ ἄρα οἱ φῦ χειρί, ἔπος τ᾽ ἔφατ᾽ ἔκ τ᾽ ὀνόμαζε·

‘χαῖρε, γύναι, φιλότητι· περιπλομένου δ᾽ ἐνιαυτοῦ

τέξεις ἀγλαὰ τέκνα, ἐπεὶ οὐκ ἀποφώλιοι εὐναὶ

ἀθανάτων· σὺ δὲ τοὺς κομέειν ἀτιταλλέμεναί τε.250

νῦν δ᾽ ἔρχευ πρὸς δῶμα, καὶ ἴσχεο μηδ᾽ ὀνομήνῃς·

αὐτὰρ ἐγώ τοί εἰμι Ποσειδάων ἐνοσίχθων.’

ὣς εἰπὼν ὑπὸ πόντον ἐδύσετο κυμαίνοντα.

ἡ δ᾽ ὑποκυσαμένη Πελίην τέκε καὶ Νηλῆα,

τὼ κρατερὼ θεράποντε Διὸς μεγάλοιο γενέσθην255

ἀμφοτέρω· Πελίης μὲν ἐν εὐρυχόρῳ Ἰαωλκῷ

ναῖε πολύρρηνος, ὁ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἐν Πύλῳ ἠμαθόεντι.

τοὺς δ᾽ ἑτέρους Κρηθῆι τέκεν βασίλεια γυναικῶν,

Αἴσονά τ᾽ ἠδὲ Φέρητ᾽ Ἀμυθάονά θ᾽ ἱππιοχάρμην.

τὴν δὲ μέτ᾽ Ἀντιόπην ἴδον, Ἀσωποῖο θύγατρα,260

ἣ δὴ καὶ Διὸς εὔχετ᾽ ἐν ἀγκοίνῃσιν ἰαῦσαι,

καί ῥ᾽ ἔτεκεν δύο παῖδ᾽, Ἀμφίονά τε Ζῆθόν τε,

οἳ πρῶτοι Θήβης ἕδος ἔκτισαν ἑπταπύλοιο,

πύργωσάν τ᾽, ἐπεὶ οὐ μὲν ἀπύργωτόν γ᾽ ἐδύναντο

ναιέμεν εὐρύχορον Θήβην, κρατερώ περ ἐόντε.265

τὴν δὲ μέτ᾽ Ἀλκμήνην ἴδον, Ἀμφιτρύωνος ἄκοιτιν,

ἥ ῥ᾽ Ἡρακλῆα θρασυμέμνονα θυμολέοντα

γείνατ᾽ ἐν ἀγκοίνῃσι Διὸς μεγάλοιο μιγεῖσα·

καὶ Μεγάρην, Κρείοντος ὑπερθύμοιο θύγατρα,

τὴν ἔχεν Ἀμφιτρύωνος υἱὸς μένος αἰὲν ἀτειρής.270

    Odysseus sees the ghosts of famous women.

    The so-called Catalogue of Heroines,when Odysseus meets the ψύχαι of famous women from mythology (225–332), has long been considered suspect by some classical scholars, who have complained that the content does not seem directly relevant to the main themes of the underworld episode. Some have suggested that the verses were a later addition to the original 8th century BCE poem based on a 6th century BCE work attributed to Hesiod in antiquity, but now thought to be later, called the Ehoiai. This poem exists only in fragments found on papyrus and in some quotations from ancient authors, about 1300 whole or partial verses, maybe about one-fourth of the original. Given what we now understand about the oral tradition out of which all early Greek hexameter poetry seems to have come, it’s much more likely that both the Odyssey passage and the Ehoiai are descended from a third, earlier source. Though the pre-history of the Odyssey is not our concern here, the objections raised by scholars to lines 225–334 do challenge us to think about how the catalog fits into the poem as we have it now.

    read full essay

    The catalogue is probably one of the earliest forms of Greek hexameter poetry and some scholars have suggested that Homeric epic owes its origins to this kind of narrative. The “Catalogue of Ships” in Book 2 of the Iliad (484–877) seems, for instance, to represent a much older geography for Greece than what existed in the 8th century BCE, when we think the Homeric epics came into the form we now have. Hesiod’s Theogony, probably composed about the same time or slightly later than the Odyssey, is an extended catalogue describing the origins of the gods and the rule of Zeus, with significant parallels to earlier Near Eastern myths. The form has persisted, from Virgil’s catalogue of the armies in the Aeneid (7.641–817) to Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. The examples from early Greek hexameter poetry suggest one reason why the form might have attracted poets. The frequency of place names and proper names, often lengthy and filled with more long syllables than usually appear in Greek, must have made composing these verses, in a relatively strict meter with few substitutions, very challenging. A catalog would be a virtuoso performance for an improvising poet. Perhaps the chance to show off this kind of mastery would be enough justification for including catalogues. At the same time, indulging too freely in lengthy show pieces would run afoul of the imperative to hold the audience’s attention at all costs. However absorbing the “Catalogue of Women” might be as a triumph of poetic skill, we still need to think about how it contributes to the overall plan of the Odyssey.

    The first three women, Tyro, Antiope, and Alcmene, all bore illustrious children after sleeping with gods. In the patriarchal world of the Homeric epics, to be singled out by a god to bear his children is presented as a great honor. Today, these liaisons look too much like rapes for us to be comfortable rejoicing with the mothers. The children resulting from these sexual encounters are familiar to us from other stories: Neleus, son of Tyro by the river god Salmoneus, is the father of Nestor, king of Pylos, who entertains Telemachus in Book 4 with stories of Odysseus; Antiope’s children by Zeus, Amphion and Zethus, were the founders of Thebes, the site of a cycle of myths that includes the sufferings of Oedipus and his children; Alcmene, another of Zeus’s chosen women, is the mother of Herakles. These women, then, are important because they give birth to male heroes. Their appearance here links them to Antikleia and like her, they fade away as soon as their contributions to the glories of male heroism are noted.

    Further Reading

    Beye, C.R. 1964. “Homeric Battle Narrative and Catalogues.” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 68, 345–373.

    Dimock, G. 1989. The Unity of the Odyssey, 151–154. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.

    Heubeck, A. and Hoekstra, A. ed. 1989. A Commentary on Homer’s Odyssey, vol. II, Books IX–XVI, 90–91. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Morrison, J. 2003. A Companion to Homer’s Odyssey, 106. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

    Ormand, K. 2014. The Hesiodic Catalog of Women and Ancient Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Page, D. 1955. The Homeric Odyssey, 21–51. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    225  νῶϊ: “we two,” dual > ἐγώ.

    225  ὣς: “thus”

    229  βούλευον ὅπως ἐρέοιμι: clause of effort with optative in secondary seq. (Smyth 2212)

    232  εἴων: 1st sing. impf. act. > ἐάω, with infin.

    232  ἅμα: “at the same time.”

    233  ἐπήϊσαν: 3rd pl. impf. act. > ἔπειμι.

    234  ὃν: “her,” possessive adj.

    234  γόνον: "lineage," "descent."

    234  ἐρέεινον: “questioned.” 1st sing. impf., unaugmented.

    235  Τυρὼ: acc.

    236  ἣ (ἐ)φάτο … εἶναι: “who said that she was….” indir. discourse.

    237  ἔμμεναι: infin. > εἰμί, in indir. discourse, as in line 236.

    238  ἠράσσατ᾽: ἠράσσατο, 3rd sing. mid. aor., > ἔραμαι. In the aorist, the verb means “fell in love with,” with a gen. (ingressive aorist, Smyth 1925).

    239  ἵησι: “sends its waters,” “rushes.” 3rd sing. pres. act. indic. > ἵημι.

    240  ἐπ(ι) ... πωλέσκετο: “she used to visit,” tmesis, 3rd sing. impf. mid., unaugmented, iterative, > ἐπιπωλέομαι.

    241  τῷ … εἰσάμενος: “appearing like this one,” “in the guise of this one” (i.e., Enipeus).

    242  ἐν προχοῇς ποταμοῦ: “at the mouth of the river.”

    242  παρελέξατο: understand “her” (i.e., Tyro) as the obj. of the verb.

    243  περιστάθη: “encircled.” 3rd sing. aor. dep. > περιίστημι.

    243  οὔρεϊ ἶσον: “equal to a mountain”

    244  κυρτωθέν: “arched over them.” neut. nom. sing. aor. pass. pct. > κυρτόω, agreeing with κῦμα.

    245  λῦσε: ἔλυσε, unaugmented.

    245  κατὰ … ἔχευεν: “poured down.” Tmesis, > καταχέω.

    247  ἐν … οἱ (ἐ)φῦ χειρὶ: “he grabbed her” (lit., “he grew onto her with his hand”).

    247  ἔπος τ᾽ ἔφατ᾽ ἔκ τ᾽ ὀνόμαζε: according to Cunliffe, a formula “apparently meaning no more than ‘to address’” (lit., “he said a word and called out loud by name”)

    248  χαῖρε: “rejoice in,” with dat. imperat. > χαίρω.

    248  περιπλομένου … ἐνιαυτοῦ: gen. absol. > περιπέλομαι.

    249  τέξεις: fut. > τίκτω.

    249  ἀποφώλιοι: pred. adj., supply εἰσίν.

    250  τοὺς: “them” (i.e., her children).

    250  κομέειν ἀτιταλλέμεναί τε: infinitives used as imperatives (Monro 241).

    251  ἔρχευ … ἴσχεο: imperatives. In the middle, the verb ἴσχω is reflex., “restrain yourself.”

    251  μηδ᾽ ὀνομήνῃς: "Don't disclose my name." prohibitive subjunctive (Smyth 1800).

    252  αὐτὰρ … τοί: “but you know.”

    254  τέκε: ἔτεκε, aor., unaugmented, > τίκτω.

    255  τὼ … θεράποντεγενέσθην ἀμφοτέρω: dual.

    255  τὼ: “who,” dual rel. pron.

    257  ναῖε: ἔναιε, impf., unaugmented.

    257  ὁ δ᾽: “but he” (i.e., Neleus), supply the verb ἔναιε.

    258  τοὺς ἑτέρους: “these others” (mentioned in line 259).

    258  βασίλεια: i.e., Tyro.

    260  τὴν δὲ μέτ᾽: “and after her.” Anastrophe.

    261  εὔχετ᾽: “boasted (that she),” with infin. (ἰαῦσαι) of indir. discourse.

    263  ἔκτισαν: 3rd pl. aor. > κτίζω.

    264  ἐπεὶ: “since.”

    265  ναιέμεν: infin., complementing ἐδύναντο.

    265  κρατερώ περ ἐόντε: dual.

    266  τὴν δὲ μέτ᾽: “and after her.” Anastrophe.

    268  μιγεῖσα: “having sexual intercourse,” aor. pct. > μείγνυμι (μίγνυμι/μίσγω Cunliffe)

    270  ἔχεν: “had (as a wife).” 3rd sing. impf., unaugmented > ἔχω.

    ἀμείβω ἀμείψω ἤμειψα ἤμειφα ἤμειμμαι ἠμείφθην: to respond, answer; to exchange; (mid.) to take turns, alternate; to change, place, pass 225

    ὀτρύνω ὀτρυνῶ ὤτρυνα ––– ––– –––: to urge on

    ἀγαυός –ή –όν: illustrious, noble

    Περσεφόνη –ης ἡ: Persephone, Proserpine

    ἀριστεύς –έως ὁ: the best man; (plur.) leaders

    ἄλοχος –ου ἡ: wife

    ἠδέ: and

    κελαινός –ή –όν: black, dark, murky

    ἀολλής –ές: all together, in throngs or crowds

    ἠγερέθομαι – – – – –: to gather together, assemble

    ἀτάρ (or αὐτάρ): but, yet

    ἐρῶ εἴρηκα ἐρρήθην: to say, tell, speak 230

    σπάω σπάσω ἔσπασα ἔσπακα ἔσπασμαι ἐσπάσθην: to pull, pull out, gather

    τανυήκης –ες: with long point

    ἄορ ἄορος τό: sword

    παχύς –εῖα –ύ: thick, stout

    μηρός –οῦ ὁ: the thigh

    κελαινός –ή –όν: black, dark, murky

    προμνηστῖνοι: one by one, one after the other

    ἐπειμί ἐπέσομαι ––– ––– ––– –––: to go, come to/upon; to attack

    ἠδέ: and

    ἑός ἑή ἑόν: his, her, own

    γόνος –ου ὁ: that which is begotten, offspring, a child, lineage

    ἐξαγορεύω ἐξαγορεύσω ἐξηγόρευσα ἐξείρηκα/ἐξηγόρευκα ἐξείρημαι/ἐξηγόρευμαι ἐξερρήθην/ἐξηγορεύθην: to tell out, make known, declare; to tell one's lineage

    ἐρεείνω – – – – –: to ask

    τοι: let me tell you, surely 235

    Τυρώ –οῦς ἡ: Tyro 

    εὐπατέρεια –ας ἡ: daughter of a noble sire

    Σαλμωνεύς –έως ὁ: Salmoneus, son of Aeolus

    ἀμύμων –ον: blameless, noble, excellent

    ἔκγονος –ον: born of, sprung from

    Κρηθεύς –έως ὁ: Cretheus, of Iolcus, the husband of Tyro

    Αἰολίδης –ου ὁ: son of Aeolus

    ἔραμαι ἐρασθήσομαι ἠράσθην ἤρασμαι: to love, to be in love with

    Ἐνιπεύς –έως ὁ: Enipeus, river-god, river in Phthiōtis

    γαίη –ης ἡ: land, region, district

    ἄρα: now, then, next, thus 240

    Ἐνιπεύς –έως ὁ: Enipeus, river-god, river in Phthiōtis

    ἐπιπωλέομαι ἐπιπέπραμαι ἐπεπωλήθην: to go about, pass through, visit, explore

    ῥεῖθρον (or ῥέεθρον) –ου τό: river, stream

    ἄρα: now, then, next, thus

    εἴδομαι εἴσομαι εἰσάμην: to be visible, appear; to seem; to know, understand

    γαιήοχος –ον: that holds the earth (epithet of Poseidon)

    ἐννοσίγαιος –ου ὁ: earth-shaker (epithet of Poseidon)

    προχοή –ῆς ἡ: outpouring

    παραλέγω παραλέξω παρέλεξα παραλέλεχα παραλελέγμαι παρελέχθην : to lay beside

    δινήεις –εσσα –εν: whirling, eddying

    πορφύρεος –η –ον: agitated; dyed purple

    ἄρα: now, then, next, thus

    κῦμα –ατος τό: wave

    περιίστημι περιστήσω περιέστησα (or περιέστην) περιέστηκα περιέσταμαι περιεστάθην: to place round; to stand around

    κυρτόω κυρτώσω ἐκύρτωσα κεκύρτωκα – ἐκυρτώθην: to curve

    κρύπτω κρύψω ἔκρυψα κέκρυμμαι ἐκρύφθην: hide, cover over

    θνητός –ή –όν: mortal

    παρθένιος [–α] –ον: of a maiden 245

    ζώνη –ης ἡ: a belt, girdle

    ὕπνος –ου ὁ: sleep

    χέω χέω ἔχεα or ἔχευα κέχυκα κέχυμαι ἐχύθην: to pour, shed

    ἀτάρ (or αὐτάρ): but, yet

    ἄρα: now, then, next, thus

    τελέω τελῶ or τελέσω ἐτέλεσα τετέλεκα τετέλεσμαι ἐτελέσθην: to finish, complete, carry out

    φιλοτήσιος –α –ον: of love

    ἄρα: now, then, next, thus

    ἕ: him, her, it; himself, herself, itself

    φιλότης –ητος ἡ: love, friendship

    περιπέλομαι περιπλοῦμαι περιεπλόμην: to move round, be round about

    ἐνιαυτός –οῦ ὁ: anniversary, year

    ἀγλαός –ή –όν: splendid, shining, bright

    ἀποφώλιος –ον: empty, vain, idle, useless, fruitless

    εὐνή εὐνῆς ἡ: pallet, bed, den; (pl.) stones (to anchor a ship), anchors

    ἀθάνατος –ον: immortal, deathless; (plur.) the gods 250

    κομέω κομήσω ἐκόμησα: to take care of, attend to, tend

    ἀτιτάλλω ἀτιταλῶ ἀτίτηλα: to rear, raise

    δῶμα –ατος τό: house (often in plural)

    ἴσχω ––– ––– ––– ––– –––: to hold; to hold back, check, restrain

    ὀνομαίνω οὐνομανῶ ὠνόμηνα: to name

    ἀτάρ (or αὐτάρ): but, yet

    τοι: let me tell you, surely

    Ποσειδῶν (or Ποσειδάων) –ῶνος ὁ: Poseidon

    ἐνοσίχθων –ονος ὁ: earth-shaker (epithet of Poseidon)

    πόντος –ου ὁ: sea, open sea

    δὐω δύσω έδυσα/ἔδυν δέδυκα δέδυμαι εδύθην: plunge in, go into, sink

    κυμαίνω κυμανῶ ἐκύμανα: to rise in waves

    ὑποκύομαι: to conceive, become pregnant

    Πελίης –ου ὁ: Pelias, king of Iolcus

    Νηλεύς –έως ὁ: Neleus, father of Nestor

    κρατερός –ά –όν: strong, powerful, mighty 255

    θεράπων –ονος ὁ: attendant, servant

    Ζεύς Διός ὁ: Zeus

    εὐρύχορος –ον: with broad dancing places; broad, spacious

    Ἰαωλκός –οῦ ὁ: Iolcus, a town in Thessaly on the Pagasaean gulf

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

    πολύρρηνος –ον: rich in sheep

    ἄρα: now, then, next, thus

    Πύλος –ου ἡ: Pylos, a city in Elis

    ἠμαθόεις –εσσα –εν: sandy

    Κρηθεύς –έως ὁ: Cretheus, of Iolcus, the husband of Tyro

    βασίλεια –ας ἡ: queen, princess

    Αἴσων –ονος ὁ: Aeson, son of Cretheus and Tyro, father of Jason, and king in Iolcus

    ἠδέ: and

    Φέρης –ητος ὁ: Pheres, son of Cretheus and Tyro, father of Admētus

    Ἀμυθάων –ονος ὁ: Amythaon, son of Cretheus and Tyro, father of Bias and Melampus

    ἱππιοχάρμης –ου ὁ: one who fights from a chariot

    Ἀντιόπη –ης ἡ: Antiope, daughter of Asōpus, mother of Amphīon and Zethus 260

    Ἀσωπός –οῦ ὁ: Asopus, a river in Boeotia

    εὔχομαι εὔξομαι ηὐξάμην ηὖγμαι: to pray; to make a vow, promise; to declare, affirm; to glory in, boast of (for good reason)

    ἀγκοίνη –ης ἡ: the bent arm

    ἰαύω ––– ––– ––– ––– –––: to sleep, to pass the night

    ἄρα: now, then, next, thus

    Ἀμφίων –ονος ὁ: Amphion

    Ζῆθος –ου ὁ: Zethus, son of Zeus and Antiope, brother of Amphīon, with whom he founded Thebes

    ἕδος –ους τό: a sitting-place

    ἐκτίνω ἐκτείσω ἐξέτεισα ἐκτέτεικα: to pay, pay for, atone; (mid.) to make pay, punish, avenge oneself

    ἑπτάπυλος –ον: with seven gates

    πυργόω πυργώσω ἐπύργωσα – πεπύργωμαι ἐπυργώθην: to provide with towers; to protect, to raise to lofty heights

    ἀπύργωτος –ον: not girt with towers

    ναίω – – – – –: dwell, inhabit, be situated 265

    εὐρύχορος –ον: with broad dancing places; broad, spacious

    Θήβη –ης ἡ: Thebes (usu. plural)

    κρατερός –ά –όν: strong, powerful, mighty

    Ἀλκμήνη –ης ἡ: Alcmene, wife of Amphitryon in Thebes, mother of Heracles by Zeus, and of Iphicles by Amphitryon

    Ἀμφιτρύων –ωνος ὁ: Amphitryon, king of Tiryns, husband of Alcmēna and reputed father of Heracles

    ἄκοιτις –ιος ἡ: a spouse, wife

    ἄρα: now, then, next, thus

    ἡρακλέης –ους ὁ: Heracles

    θρασυμέμνων –ον: bravely steadfast

    θυμολέων –οντος: lion-hearted

    γείνομαι ––– ἐγεινάμην ––– ––– –––: to be born; to beget, give birth to

    ἀγκοίνη –ης ἡ: the bent arm

    Μεγάρη (Μεγάρα) –ης ἡ: Megara (person)

    Κρείων –οντος ὁ: Creon, a king of Thebes, the father of Megara, or, father of Lycomēdes

    ὑπέρθυμος –ον: high-spirited, high-minded, daring

    Ἀμφιτρύων –ωνος ὁ: Amphitryon, king of Tiryns, husband of Alcmēna and reputed father of Heracles 270

    μένος –ους τό: might

    ἀτειρής –ές: not to be worn away, indestructible

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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/xi-225-270