The Odyssey

Part 7 out of 7

This would be sure to baffle the Alexandrian editors. "How,"
they would ask themselves, "could an island be a horseman?" and
they would cast about for an emendation. A visit to the top of
Mt. Eryx might perhaps make the meaning intelligible, and
suggest my proposed restoration of the text to the reader as
readily as it did to myself.

I have elsewhere stated my conviction that the writer of the
"Odyssey" was familiar with the old Sican city at the top of Mt.
Eryx, and that the Aegadean islands which are so striking when
seen thence did duty with her for the Ionian islands--Marettimo,
the highest and most westerly of the group, standing for Ithaca.
When seen from the top of Mt. Eryx Marettimo shows as it should
do according to "Od." ix. 25,26, "on the horizon, all highest up
in the sea towards the West," while the other islands lie "some
way off it to the East." As we descend to Trapani, Marettimo
appears to sink on to the top of the island of Levanzo, behind
which it disappears. My friend, the late Signor E. Biaggini,
pointed to it once as it was just standing on the top of
Levanzo, and said to me "Come cavalca bene" ("How well it
rides"), and this immediately suggested my emendation to me.
Later on I found in the hymn to the Pythian Apollo (which
abounds with tags taken from the "Odyssey") a line ending
[Greek] which strengthened my suspicion that this was the
original ending of the second of the two lines above under

{49} See note on line 3 of this book. The reader will observe
that the writer has been unable to keep the women out of an
interpolation consisting only of four lines.

{50} Scheria means a piece of land jutting out into the sea. In
my "Authoress of the Odyssey" I thought "Jutland" would be a
suitable translation, but it has been pointed out to me that
"Jutland" only means the land of the Jutes.

{51} Irrigation as here described is common in gardens near
Trapani. The water that supplies the ducts is drawn from wells
by a mule who turns a wheel with buckets on it.

{52} There is not a word here about the cattle of the sun-god.

{53} The writer evidently thought that green, growing wood might
also be well seasoned.

{54} The reader will note that the river was flowing with salt
water i.e. that it was tidal.

{55} Then the Ogygian island was not so far off, but that
Nausicaa might be assumed to know where it was.

{56} Greek [Greek]

{57} I suspect a family joke, or sly allusion to some thing of
which we know nothing, in this story of Eurymedusa's having been
brought from Apeira. The Greek word "apeiros" means
"inexperienced," "ignorant." Is it possible that Eurymedusa was
notoriously incompetent?

{58} Polyphemus was also son to Neptune, see "Od." ix. 412,529.
he was therefore half brother to Nausithous, half uncle to King
Alcinous, and half great uncle to Nausicaa.

{59} It would seem as though the writer thought that Marathon
was close to Athens.

{60} Here the writer, knowing that she is drawing (with
embellishments) from things actually existing, becomes impatient
of past tenses and slides into the present.

{61} This is hidden malice, implying that the Phaeacian magnates
were no better than they should be. The final drink-offering
should have been made to Jove or Neptune, not to the god of
thievishness and rascality of all kinds. In line 164 we do
indeed find Echeneus proposing that a drink-offering should be
made to Jove, but Mercury is evidently, according to our
authoress, the god who was most likely to be of use to them.

{62} The fact of Alcinous knowing anything about the Cyclopes
suggests that in the writer's mind Scheria and the country of
the Cyclopes were not very far from one another. I take the
Cyclopes and the giants to be one and the same people.

{63} "My property, etc." The authoress is here adopting an
Iliadic line (xix. 333), and this must account for the absence
of all reference to Penelope. If she had happened to remember
"Il." v.213, she would doubtless have appropriated it by
preference, for that line reads "my country, my wife, and all
the greatness of my house."

{64} The at first inexplicable sleep of Ulysses (bk. xiii. 79,
etc.) is here, as also in viii. 445, being obviously prepared.
The writer evidently attached the utmost importance to it. Those
who know that the harbour which did duty with the writer of the
"Odyssey" for the one in which Ulysses landed in Ithaca, was
only about 2 miles from the place in which Ulysses is now
talking with Alcinous, will understand why the sleep was so

{65} There were two classes--the lower who were found in
provisions which they had to cook for themselves in the yards
and outer precincts, where they would also eat--and the upper
who would eat in the cloisters of the inner court, and have
their cooking done for them.

{66} Translation very dubious. I suppose the [Greek] here to be
the covered sheds that ran round the outer courtyard. See
illustrations at the end of bk. iii.

{67} The writer apparently deems that the words "as compared
with what oxen can plough in the same time" go without saying.
Not so the writer of the "Iliad" from which the Odyssean passage
is probably taken. He explains that mules can plough quicker
than oxen ("Il." x.351-353)

{68} It was very fortunate that such a disc happened to be
there, seeing that none like it were in common use.

{69} "Il." xiii. 37. Here, as so often elsewhere in the
"Odyssey," the appropriation of an Iliadic line which is not
quite appropriate puzzles the reader. The "they" is not the
chains, nor yet Mars and Venus. It is an overflow from the
Iliadic passage in which Neptune hobbles his horses in bonds
"which none could either unloose or break so that they might
stay there in that place." If the line would have scanned
without the addition of the words "so that they might stay there
in that place," they would have been omitted in the "Odyssey."

{70} The reader will note that Alcinous never goes beyond saying
that he is going to give the goblet; he never gives it.
Elsewhere in both "Iliad" and "Odyssey" the offer of a present
is immediately followed by the statement that it was given and
received gladly--Alcinous actually does give a chest and a cloak
and shirt--probably also some of the corn and wine for the long
two-mile voyage was provided by him--but it is quite plain that
he gave no talent and no cup.

{71} "Il." xviii, 344-349. These lines in the "Iliad" tell of
the preparation for washing the body of Patroclus, and I am not
pleased that the writer of the "Odyssey" should have adopted
them here.

{72} see note {64}

{73} see note {43}

{74} The reader will find this threat fulfilled in bk. xiii

{75} If the other islands lay some distance away from Ithaca
(which the word [Greek] suggests), what becomes of the [Greek]
or gut between Ithaca and Samos which we hear of in Bks. iv. and
xv.? I suspect that the authoress in her mind makes Telemachus
come back from Pylos to the Lilybaean promontory and thence to
Trapani through the strait between the Isola Grande and the
mainland--the island of Asteria being the one on which Motya
afterwards stood.

{76} "Il." xviii. 533-534. The sudden lapse into the third person
here for a couple of lines is due to the fact that the two
Iliadic lines taken are in the third person.

{77} cf. "Il." ii. 776. The words in both "Iliad" and "Odyssey"
are [Greek]. In the "Iliad" they are used of the horses of
Achilles' followers as they stood idle, "champing lotus."

{78} I take all this passage about the Cyclopes having no ships
to be sarcastic--meaning, "You people of Drepanum have no excuse
for not colonising the island of Favognana, which you could
easily do, for you have plenty of ships, and the island is a
very good one." For that the island so fully described here is
the Aegadean or "goat" island of Favognana, and that the
Cyclopes are the old Sican inhabitants of Mt. Eryx should not be

{79} For the reasons why it was necessary that the night should
be so exceptionally dark see "The Authoress of the Odyssey" pp.

{80} None but such lambs as would suck if they were with their
mothers would be left in the yard. The older lambs should have
been out feeding. The authoress has got it all wrong, but it
does not matter. See "The Authoress of the Odyssey" p.148.

{81} This line is enclosed in brackets in the received text, and
is omitted (with note) by Messrs. Butcher & Lang. But lines
enclosed in brackets are almost always genuine; all that
brackets mean is that the bracketed passage puzzled some early
editor, who nevertheless found it too well established in the
text to venture on omitting it. In the present case the line
bracketed is the very last which a full-grown male editor would
be likely to interpolate. It is safer to infer that the writer,
a young woman, not knowing or caring at which end of the ship
the rudder should be, determined to make sure by placing it at
both ends, which we shall find she presently does by repeating
it (line 340) at the stern of the ship. As for the two rocks
thrown, the first I take to be the Asinelli, see map facing
p.80. The second I see as the two contiguous islands of the
Formiche, which are treated as one, see map facing p.108. The
Asinelli is an island shaped like a boat, and pointing to the
island of Favognana. I think the authoress's compatriots, who
probably did not like her much better that she did them, jeered
at the absurdity of Ulysses' conduct, and saw the Asinelli or
"donkeys," not as the rock thrown by Polyphemus, but as the boat
itself containing Ulysses and his men.

{82} This line exists in the text here but not in the
corresponding passage xii. 141. I am inclined to think it is
interpolated (probably by the poetess herself) from the first of
lines xi. 115-137, which I can hardly doubt were added by the
writer when the scheme of the work was enlarged and altered. See
"The Authoress of the Odyssey" pp. 254-255.

{83} "Floating" ([Greek]) is not to be taken literally. The
island itself, as apart from its inhabitants, was quite normal.
There is no indication of its moving during the month that
Ulysses stayed with Aeolus, and on his return from his
unfortunate voyage, he seems to have found it in the same place.
The [Greek] in fact should no more be pressed than [Greek] as
applied to islands, "Odyssey" xv. 299--where they are called
"flying" because the ship would fly past them. So also the
"Wanderers," as explained by Buttmann; see note on "Odyssey"
xii. 57.

{84} Literally "for the ways of the night and of the day are
near." I have seen what Mr. Andrew Lang says ("Homer and the
Epic," p.236, and "Longman's Magazine" for January, 1898, p.277)
about the "amber route" and the "Sacred Way" in this connection;
but until he gives his grounds for holding that the
Mediterranean peoples in the Odyssean age used to go far North
for their amber instead of getting it in Sicily, where it is
still found in considerable quantities, I do not know what
weight I ought to attach to his opinion. I have been unable to
find grounds for asserting that B.C. 1000 there was any commerce
between the Mediterranean and the "Far North," but I shall be
very ready to learn if Mr. Lang will enlighten me. See "The
Authoress of the Odyssey" pp. 185-186.

{85} One would have thought that when the sun was driving the
stag down to the water, Ulysses might have observed its

{86} See Hobbes of Malmesbury's translation.

{87} "Il." vxiii. 349. Again the writer draws from the washing
the body of Patroclus--which offends.

{88} This visit is wholly without topographical significance.

{89} Brides presented themselves instinctively to the imagination
of the writer, as the phase of humanity which she found most

{90} Ulysses was, in fact, to become a missionary and preach
Neptune to people who knew not his name. I was fortunate enough
to meet in Sicily a woman carrying one of these winnowing
shovels; it was not much shorter than an oar, and I was able at
once to see what the writer of the "Odyssey" intended.

{91} I suppose the lines I have enclosed in brackets to have
been added by the author when she enlarged her original scheme
by the addition of books i.-iv. and xiii. (from line 187)-xxiv.
The reader will observe that in the corresponding passage (xii.
137-141) the prophecy ends with "after losing all your
comrades," and that there is no allusion to the suitors. For
fuller explanation see "The Authoress of the Odyssey" pp.

{92} The reader will remember that we are in the first year of
Ulysses' wanderings, Telemachus therefore was only eleven years
old. The same anachronism is made later on in this book. See
"The Authoress of the Odyssey" pp. 132-133.

{93} Tradition says that she had hanged herself. Cf. "Odyssey"
xv. 355, etc.

{94} Not to be confounded with Aeolus king of the winds.

{95} Melampus, vide book xv. 223, etc.

{96} I have already said in a note on bk. xi. 186 that at this
point of Ulysses' voyage Telemachus could only be between eleven
and twelve years old.

{97} Is the writer a man or a woman?

{98} Cf. "Il." iv. 521, [Greek]. The Odyssean line reads,
[Greek]. The famous dactylism, therefore, of the Odyssean line
was probably suggested by that of the Ileadic rather than by a
desire to accommodate sound to sense. At any rate the double
coincidence of a dactylic line, and an ending [Greek], seems
conclusive as to the familiarity of the writer of the "Odyssey"
with the Iliadic line.

{99} Off the coast of Sicily and South Italy, in the month of
May, I have seen men fastened half way up a boat's mast with
their feet resting on a crosspiece, just large enough to support
them. From this point of vantage they spear sword-fish. When I
saw men thus employed I could hardly doubt that the writer of
the "Odyssey" had seen others like them, and had them in her
mind when describing the binding of Ulysses. I have therefore
with some diffidence ventured to depart from the received
translation of [Greek] (cf. Alcaeus frag. 18, where, however, it
is very hard to say what [Greek] means). In Sophocles' Lexicon I
find a reference to Chrysostom (l, 242, A. Ed. Benedictine Paris
1834-1839) for the word [Greek], which is probably the same as
[Greek], but I have looked for the passage in vain.

{100} The writer is at fault here and tries to put it off on
Circe. When Ulysses comes to take the route prescribed by Circe,
he ought to pass either the Wanderers or some other difficulty
of which we are not told, but he does not do so. The Planctae,
or Wanderers, merge into Scylla and Charybdis, and the
alternative between them and something untold merges into the
alternative whether Ulysses had better choose Scylla or
Charybdis. Yet from line 260, it seems we are to consider the
Wanderers as having been passed by Ulysses; this appears even
more plainly from xxiii. 327, in which Ulysses expressly mentions
the Wandering rocks as having been between the Sirens and Scylla
and Charybdis. The writer, however, is evidently unaware that
she does not quite understand her own story; her difficulty was
perhaps due to the fact that though Trapanese sailors had given
her a fair idea as to where all her other localities really
were, no one in those days more than in our own could localise
the Planctae, which in fact, as Buttmann has argued, were
derived not from any particular spot, but from sailors' tales
about the difficulties of navigating the group of the Aeolian
islands as a whole (see note on "Od." x. 3). Still the matter
of the poor doves caught her fancy, so she would not forgo them.
The whirlwinds of fire and the smoke that hangs on Scylla
suggests allusion to Stromboli and perhaps even Etna. Scylla is
on the Italian side, and therefore may be said to look West. It
is about 8 miles thence to the Sicilian coast, so Ulysses may be
perfectly well told that after passing Scylla he will come to
the Thrinacian island or Sicily. Charybdis is transposed to a
site some few miles to the north of its actual position.

{101} I suppose this line to have been intercalated by the author
when lines 426-446 were added.

{102} For the reasons which enable us to identify the island of
the two Sirens with the Lipari island now Salinas--the ancient
Didyme, or "twin" island--see The Authoress of the Odyssey, pp.
195, 196. The two Sirens doubtless were, as their name suggests,
the whistling gusts, or avalanches of air that at times descend
without a moment's warning from the two lofty mountains of
Salinas--as also from all high points in the neighbourhood.

{103} See Admiral Smyth on the currents in the Straits of
Messina, quoted in "The Authoress of the Odyssey," p. 197.

{104} In the islands of Favognana and Marettimo off Trapani I
have seen men fish exactly as here described. They chew bread
into a paste and throw it into the sea to attract the fish,
which they then spear. No line is used.

{105} The writer evidently regards Ulysses as on a coast that
looked East at no great distance south of the Straits of Messina
somewhere, say, near Tauromenium, now Taormina.

{106} Surely there must be a line missing here to tell us that
the keel and mast were carried down into Charybdis. Besides, the
aorist [Greek] in its present surrounding is perplexing. I have
translated it as though it were an imperfect; I see Messrs.
Butcher and Lang translate it as a pluperfect, but surely
Charybdis was in the act of sucking down the water when Ulysses

{107} I suppose the passage within brackets to have been an
afterthought but to have been written by the same hand as the
rest of the poem. I suppose xii. 103 to have been also added by
the writer when she decided on sending Ulysses back to
Charybdis. The simile suggests the hand of the wife or daughter
of a magistrate who had often seen her father come in cross and

{108} Gr. [Greek]. This puts coined money out of the question,
but nevertheless implies that the gold had been worked into
ornaments of some kind.

{109} I suppose Teiresias' prophecy of bk. xi. 114-120 had made
no impression on Ulysses. More probably the prophecy was an
afterthought, intercalated, as I have already said, by the
authoress when she changed her scheme.

{110} A male writer would have made Ulysses say, not "may you
give satisfaction to your wives," but "may your wives give
satisfaction to you."

{111} See note {64}.

{112} The land was in reality the shallow inlet, now the salt
works of S. Cusumano--the neighbourhood of Trapani and Mt. Eryx
being made to do double duty, both as Scheria and Ithaca. Hence
the necessity for making Ulysses set out after dark, fall
instantly into a profound sleep, and wake up on a morning so
foggy that he could not see anything till the interviews between
Neptune and Jove and between Ulysses and Minerva should have
given the audience time to accept the situation. See
illustrations and map near the end of bks. v. and vi.

{113} This cave, which is identifiable with singular
completeness, is now called the "grotta del toro," probably a
corruption of "tesoro," for it is held to contain a treasure.
See The Authoress of the Odyssey, pp. 167-170.

{114} Probably they would.

{115} Then it had a shallow shelving bottom.

{116} Doubtless the road would pass the harbour in Odyssean times
as it passes the salt works now; indeed, if there is to be a
road at all there is no other level ground which it could take.
See map above referred to.

{117} The rock at the end of the Northern harbour of Trapani, to
which I suppose the writer of the "Odyssey" to be here
referring, still bears the name Malconsiglio--"the rock of evil
counsel." There is a legend that it was a ship of Turkish
pirates who were intending to attack Trapani, but the "Madonna
di Trapani" crushed them under this rock just as they were
coming into port. My friend Cavaliere Giannitrapani of Trapani
told me that his father used to tell him when he was a boy that
if he would drop exactly three drops of oil on to the water near
the rock, he would see the ship still at the bottom. The legend
is evidently a Christianised version of the Odyssean story,
while the name supplies the additional detail that the disaster
happened in consequence of an evil counsel.

{118} It would seem then that the ship had got all the way back
from Ithaca in about a quarter of an hour.

{119} And may we not add "and also to prevent his recognising
that he was only in the place where he had met Nausicaa two days

{120} All this is to excuse the entire absence of Minerva from
books ix.-xii., which I suppose had been written already, before
the authoress had determined on making Minerva so prominent a

{121} We have met with this somewhat lame attempt to cover the
writer's change of scheme at the end of bk. vi.

{122} I take the following from The Authoress of the Odyssey, p.
167. "It is clear from the text that there were two [caves] not
one, but some one has enclosed in brackets the two lines in
which the second cave is mentioned, I presume because he found
himself puzzled by having a second cave sprung upon him when up
to this point he had only been told of one.

"I venture to think that if he had known the ground he would not
have been puzzled, for there are two caves, distant about 80 or
100 yards from one another." The cave in which Ulysses hid his
treasure is, as I have already said, identifiable with singular
completeness. The other cave presents no special features,
neither in the poem nor in nature.

{123} There is no attempt to disguise the fact that Penelope had
long given encouragement to the suitors. The only defence set up
is that she did not really mean to encourage them. Would it not
have been wiser to have tried a little discouragement?

{124} See map near the end of bk. vi. Ruccazzu dei corvi of
course means "the rock of the ravens." Both name and ravens
still exist.

{125} See The Authoress of the Odyssey, pp. 140, 141. The real
reason for sending Telemachus to Pylos and Lacedaemon was that
the authoress might get Helen of Troy into her poem. He was sent
at the only point in the story at which he could be sent, so he
must have gone then or not at all.

{126} The site I assign to Eumaeus's hut, close to the Ruccazzu
dei Corvi, is about 2,000 feet above the sea, and commands an
extensive view.

{127} Sandals such as Eumaeus was making are still worn in the
Abruzzi and elsewhere. An oblong piece of leather forms the
sole: holes are cut at the four corners, and through these holes
leathern straps are passed, which are bound round the foot and
cross-gartered up the calf.

{128} See note {75}

{129} Telemachus like many another good young man seems to
expect every one to fetch and carry for him.

{130} "Il." vi. 288. The store room was fragrant because it was
made of cedar wood. See "Il." xxiv. 192.

{131} cf. "Il." vi. 289 and 293-296. The dress was kept at the
bottom of the chest as one that would only be wanted on the
greatest occasions; but surely the marriage of Hermione and of
Megapenthes (bk, iv. ad init.) might have induced Helen to wear
it on the preceding evening, in which case it could hardly have
got back. We find no hint here of Megapenthes' recent marriage.

{132} See note {83}.

{133} cf. "Od." xi. 196, etc.

{134} The names Syra and Ortygia, on which island a great part of
the Doric Syracuse was originally built, suggest that even in
Odyssean times there was a prehistoric Syracuse, the existence
of which was known to the writer of the poem.

{135} Literally "where are the turnings of the sun." Assuming, as
we may safely do, that the Syra and Ortygia of the "Odyssey"
refer to Syracuse, it is the fact that not far to the South of
these places the land turns sharply round, so that mariners
following the coast would find the sun upon the other side of
their ship to that on which they'd had it hitherto.

Mr. A. S. Griffith has kindly called my attention to Herod iv.
42, where, speaking of the circumnavigation of Africa by
Phoenician mariners under Necos, he writes:

"On their return they declared--I for my part do not believe
them, but perhaps others may--that in sailing round Libya [i.e.
Africa] they had the sun upon their right hand. In this way was
the extent of Libya first discovered.

I take it that Eumaeus was made to have come from Syracuse
because the writer thought she rather ought to have made
something happen at Syracuse during her account of the voyages
of Ulysses. She could not, however, break his long drift from
Charybdis to the island of Pantellaria; she therefore resolved
to make it up to Syracuse in another way.

{135} Modern excavations establish the existence of two and only
two pre-Dorian communities at Syracuse; they were, so Dr. Orsi
informed me, at Plemmirio and Cozzo Pantano. See The Authoress
of the Odyssey, pp. 211-213.

{136} This harbour is again evidently the harbour in which
Ulysses had landed, i.e. the harbour that is now the salt works
of S. Cusumano.

{137} This never can have been anything but very niggardly pay
for some eight or nine days' service. I suppose the crew were to
consider the pleasure of having had a trip to Pylos as a set
off. There is no trace of the dinner as having been actually
given, either on the following or any other morning.

{138} No hawk can tear its prey while it is on the wing.

{139} The text is here apparently corrupt, and will not make
sense as it stands. I follow Messrs. Butcher and Lang in
omitting line 101.

{140} i.e. to be milked, as in South Italian and Sicilian towns
at the present day.

{141} The butchering and making ready the carcases took place
partly in the outer yard and partly in the open part of the
inner court.

{142} These words cannot mean that it would be afternoon soon
after they were spoken. Ulysses and Eumaeus reached the town
which was "some way off" (xvii. 25) in time for the suitor's
early meal (xvii. 170 and 176) say at ten or eleven o' clock.
The context of the rest of the book shows this. Eumaeus and
Ulysses, therefore, cannot have started later than eight or
nine, and Eumaeus's words must be taken as an exaggeration for
the purpose of making Ulysses bestir himself.

{143} I imagine the fountain to have been somewhere about where
the church of the Madonna di Trapani now stands, and to have
been fed with water from what is now called the Fontana Diffali
on Mt. Eryx.

{144} From this and other passages in the "Odyssey" it appears
that we are in an age anterior to the use of coined money--an
age when cauldrons, tripods, swords, cattle, chattels of all
kinds, measures of corn, wine, or oil, etc. etc., not to say
pieces of gold, silver, bronze, or even iron, wrought more or
less, but unstamped, were the nearest approach to a currency
that had as yet been reached.

{145} Gr. is [Greek]

{146} I correct these proofs abroad and am not within reach of
Hesiod, but surely this passage suggests acquaintance with the
Works and Ways, though it by no means compels it.

{147} It would seem as though Eurynome and Euryclea were the
same person. See note {156}

{148} It is plain, therefore, that Iris was commonly accepted as
the messenger of the gods, though our authoress will never
permit her to fetch or carry for any one.

{149} i.e. the doorway leading from the inner to the outer court.

{150} Surely in this scene, again, Eurynome is in reality
Euryclea. See note {156}

{151} These, I imagine, must have been in the open part of the
inner courtyard, where the maids also stood, and threw the light
of their torches into the covered cloister that ran all round
it. The smoke would otherwise have been intolerable.

{152} Translation very uncertain; vide Liddell and Scott, under

{153} See photo on opposite page.

{154} cf. "Il." ii. 184, and 217, 218. An additional and
well-marked feature being wanted to convince Penelope, the
writer has taken the hunched shoulders of Thersites (who is
mentioned immediately after Eurybates in the "Iliad") and put
them on to Eurybates' back.

{155} This is how geese are now fed in Sicily, at any rate in
summer, when the grass is all burnt up. I have never seen them

{156} Lower down (line 143) Euryclea says it was herself that
had thrown the cloak over Ulysses--for the plural should not be
taken as implying more than one person. The writer is evidently
still fluctuating between Euryclea and Eurynome as the name for
the old nurse. She probably originally meant to call her
Euryclea, but finding it not immediately easy to make Euryclea
scan in xvii. 495, she hastily called her Eurynome, intending
either to alter this name later or to change the earlier
Euryclea's into Eurynome. She then drifted in to Eurynome as
convenience further directed, still nevertheless hankering after
Euryclea, till at last she found that the path of least
resistance would lie in the direction of making Eurynome and
Euryclea two persons. Therefore in xxiii. 289-292 both Eurynome
and "the nurse" (who can be none other than Euryclea) come on
together. I do not say that this is feminine, but it is not

{157} See note {156}

{158} This, I take it, was immediately in front of the main
entrance of the inner courtyard into the body of the house.

{159} This is the only allusion to Sardinia in either "Iliad" or

{160} The normal translation of the Greek word would be "holding
back," "curbing," "restraining," but I cannot think that the
writer meant this--she must have been using the word in its
other sense of "having," "holding," "keeping," "maintaining."

{161} I have vainly tried to realise the construction of the
fastening here described.

{162} See plan of Ulysses' house in the appendix. It is evident
that the open part of the court had no flooring but the natural

{163} See plan of Ulysses' house, and note {175}.

{164} i.e. the door that led into the body of the house.

{165} This was, no doubt, the little table that was set for
Ulysses, "Od." xx. 259.

Surely the difficulty of this passage has been overrated. I
suppose the iron part of the axe to have been wedged into the
handle, or bound securely to it--the handle being half buried in
the ground. The axe would be placed edgeways towards the archer,
and he would have to shoot his arrow through the hole into which
the handle was fitted when the axe was in use. Twelve axes were
placed in a row all at the same height, all exactly in front of
one another, all edgeways to Ulysses whose arrow passed through
all the holes from the first onward. I cannot see how the Greek
can bear any other interpretation, the words being, [Greek]

"He did not miss a single hole from the first onwards." [Greek]
according to Liddell and Scott being "the hole for the handle of
an axe, etc.," while [Greek] ("Od." v. 236) is, according to the
same authorities, the handle itself. The feat is absurdly
impossible, but our authoress sometimes has a soul above

{166} The reader will note how the spoiling of good food
distresses the writer even in such a supreme moment as this.

{167} Here we have it again. Waste of substance comes first.

{168} cf. "Il." iii. 337 and three other places. It is strange
that the author of the "Iliad" should find a little horse-hair
so alarming. Possibly enough she was merely borrowing a common
form line from some earlier poet--or poetess--for this is a
woman's line rather than a man's.

{169} Or perhaps simply "window." See plan in the appendix.

{170} i.e. the pavement on which Ulysses was standing.

{171} The interpretation of lines 126-143 is most dubious, and
at best we are in a region of melodrama: cf., however, i.425,
etc. from which it appears that there was a tower in the outer
court, and that Telemachus used to sleep in it. The [Greek] I
take to be a door, or trap door, leading on to the roof above
Telemachus's bed room, which we are told was in a place that
could be seen from all round--or it might be simply a window in
Telemachus's room looking out into the street. From the top of
the tower the outer world was to be told what was going on, but
people could not get in by the [Greek]: they would have to come
in by the main entrance, and Melanthius explains that the mouth
of the narrow passage (which was in the lands of Ulysses and his
friends) commanded the only entrance by which help could come,
so that there would be nothing gained by raising an alarm. As
for the [Greek] of line 143, no commentator ancient or modern
has been able to say what was intended--but whatever they were,
Melanthius could never carry twelve shields, twelve helmets, and
twelve spears. Moreover, where he could go the others could go
also. If a dozen suitors had followed Melanthius into the house
they could have attacked Ulysses in the rear, in which case,
unless Minerva had intervened promptly, the "Odyssey" would have
had a different ending. But throughout the scene we are in a
region of extravagance rather than of true fiction--it cannot be
taken seriously by any but the very serious, until we come to
the episode of Phemius and Medon, where the writer begins to be
at home again.

{172} I presume it was intended that there should be a hook
driven into the bearing-post.

{173} What for?

{174} Gr: [Greek]. This is not [Greek].

{175} From lines 333 and 341 of this book, and lines 145 and 146
of bk. xxi we can locate the approach to the [Greek] with some

{176} But in xix. 500-502 Ulysses scolded Euryclea for offering
information on this very point, and declared himself quite able
to settle it for himself.

{177} There were a hundred and eight Suitors.

{178} Lord Grimthorpe, whose understanding does not lend itself
to easy imposition, has been good enough to write to me about my
conviction that the "Odyssey" was written by a woman, and to send
me remarks upon the gross absurdity of the incident here
recorded. It is plain that all the authoress cared about was
that the women should be hanged: as for attempting to realise,
or to make her readers realise, how the hanging was done, this
was of no consequence. The reader must take her word for it and
ask no questions. Lord Grimthorpe wrote:

"I had better send you my ideas about Nausicaa's hanging of the
maids (not 'maidens,' of whom Fronde wrote so well in his
'Science of History') before I forget it all. Luckily for me
Liddell & Scott have specially translated most of the doubtful
words, referring to this very place.

"A ship's cable. I don't know how big a ship she meant, but it
must have been a very small one indeed if its 'cable' could be
used to tie tightly round a woman's neck, and still more round a
dozen of them 'in a row,' besides being strong enough to hold
them and pull them all up.

"A dozen average women would need the weight and strength of
more than a dozen strong heavy men even over the best pulley
hung to the roof over them; and the idea of pulling them up by a
rope hung anyhow round a pillar [Greek] is absurdly impossible;
and how a dozen of them could be hung dangling round one post is
a problem which a senior wrangler would be puzzled to answer...
She had better have let Telemachus use his sword as he had
intended till she changed his mind for him."

{179} Then they had all been in Ulysses' service over twenty
years; perhaps the twelve guilty ones had been engaged more

{180} Translation very doubtful--cf. "It." xxiv. 598.

{181} But why could she not at once ask to see the scar, of
which Euryclea had told her, or why could not Ulysses have shown
it to her?

{182} The people of Ithaca seem to have been as fond of carping
as the Phaeacians were in vi. 273, etc.

{183} See note {156}. Ulysses's bed room does not appear to have
been upstairs, nor yet quite within the house. Is it possible
that it was "the domed room" round the outside of which the
erring maids were, for aught we have heard to the contrary,
still hanging?

{184} Ulysses bedroom in the mind of the writer is here too
apparently down stairs.

{185} Penelope having been now sufficiently whitewashed,
disappears from the poem.

{186} So practised a washerwoman as our authoress doubtless knew
that by this time the web must have become such a wreck that it
would have gone to pieces in the wash.

A lady points out to me, just as these sheets are leaving my
hands, that no really good needlewoman--no one, indeed, whose
work or character was worth consideration--could have endured,
no matter for what reason, the unpicking of her day's work, day
after day for between three and four years.

{187} We must suppose Dolius not yet to know that his son
Melanthius had been tortured, mutilated, and left to die by
Ulysses' orders on the preceding day, and that his daughter
Melantho had been hanged. Dolius was probably exceptionally
simple-minded, and his name was ironical. So on Mt. Eryx I was
shown a man who was always called Sonza Malizia or
"Guileless"--he being held exceptionally cunning.


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