Blinding, Boasting and Justice: The Scholia on Odysseus and Poseidon

Od. 9.523-525

“I wish I could separate you from your soul
And your life and send you down to Hades’ home,
Then not even the earth-shaker would heal your eye”

‘αἲ γὰρ δὴ ψυχῆς τε καὶ αἰῶνός σε δυναίμην
εὖνιν ποιήσας πέμψαι δόμον ῎Αϊδος εἴσω,
ὡς οὐκ ὀφθαλμόν γ’ ἰήσεται οὐδ’ ἐνοσίχθων.’

Image result for ancient greek cyclops

Schol. ad Od. 9.525

he would not heal your eye”: [this is because] he does not want to, not because he is not capable. For Poseidon did not want to help his own son because he believed that it is right for him to be paid back for his wickedness. So the thought is ‘Poseidon will not heal you because you are evil’

Why did Odysseus so thoughtlessly demean Poseidon in saying “not even the earth-shaker will heal your eye?” Is it because he knowns that Poseidon is not a healer, but Apollo is? Or is it because he will not help him because of his wickedness?”

Why did Odysseus so thoughtlessly demean Poseidon when he said to the Kyklôps “not even the earth-shaker will heal your eye”? Antisthenes says that it is because he knows that Poseidon is not a doctor, but Apollo is; Aristotle says that it is not because he is not capable but because he is not willing, due to the Kyklôps’ wickedness.

Then why was Poseidon angry? Surely he is not upset because of the statement but because of the blinding, as the epic says “He was angry over the Kyklôps, because he had put out his eye” (Od. 1.69) even though he was completely wretched and had eaten Odysseus’ companions? Aristotle solves this problem in saying that [in terms of behavior] [responsibilities] are not the same for a free man toward a slave or for a slave toward a free man, nor again for those near to the gods toward those far away. Therefore, the Kyklôps deserved a penalty, but he didn’t need to be chastised by Odysseus, but by Poseidon, if he had any thought to help his son as he was harmed—it was the companions who started the wrongdoing.”

οὐκ ὀφθαλμόν γ’ ἰήσεται] μὴ βουλόμενος, οὐ γὰρ μὴ δυνάμενος. οὐκ ἐβούλετο δὲ Ποσειδῶν τὸν ἴδιον υἱὸν θεραπεῦσαι, δίκαιον ἡγούμενος τιμωρεῖσθαι αὐτὸν τῆς πονηρίας. ὁ δὲ νοῦς, οὐδὲ Ποσειδῶν ἰάσεταί σε κακὸν ἐόντα. B.Q.

διὰ τί ὁ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς οὕτως ἀνοήτως εἰς τὸν Ποσειδῶνα ὠλιγώρησεν εἰπὼν “ὡς οὐκ ὀφθαλμόν γ’ ἰήσεται οὐδ’ ἐνοσίχθων;” (525.) ἢ διὰ τὸ γινώσκειν ὡς οὐκ ἦν ἰατρὸς ὁ Ποσειδῶν, ἀλλ’ ὁ ᾿Απόλλων, ἢ ὅτι οὐ θεραπεύσει αὐτὰ διὰ τὴν πονηρίαν αὐτοῦ. M.

διὰ τί ᾿Οδυσσεὺς πρὸς τὸν Κύκλωπα οὕτως ἀνοήτως εἰς τὸν Ποσειδῶνα ὠλιγώρησεν τῷ λόγῳ εἰπὼν “ὡς οὐκ ὀφθαλμόν γ’ ἰήσεται οὐδ’ ἐνοσίχθων” (525.).

᾿Αντισθένης μέν φησι διὰ τὸ εἰδέναι ὅτι οὐκ ἦν ἰατρὸς ὁ Ποσειδῶν, ἀλλ’ ὁ᾿Απόλλων, ᾿Αριστοτέλης δὲ οὐχ ὅτι οὐ δυνήσεται, ἀλλ’ ὅτι οὐ βουληθήσεται διὰ τὴν πονηρίαν τοῦ Κύκλωπος. H.Q.T.

διὰ τί οὖν ὁ Ποσειδῶν ὠργίσθη, καίτοι μὴ χαλεπαίνων διὰ τὸ ἀπόφθεγμα, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὴν τύφλωσιν, “Κύκλωπος γὰρ κεχόλωται, ὃν ὀφθαλμοῦ ἀλάωσε” (Od. α, 69.), καὶ παμπονήρου ὄντος καὶ τοὺς ἑταίρους κατεσθίοντος; λύων δὲ ὁ ᾿Αριστοτέλης φησὶ μὴ ταυτὸν εἶναι ἐλευθέρῳ πρὸς δοῦλον καὶ δούλῳ πρὸς ἐλεύθερον, οὐδὲ τοῖς ἐγγὺς τῶν θεῶν οὖσι πρὸς τοὺς ἄπωθεν. ὁ δὲ Κύκλωψ ἦν μὲν ζημίας ἄξιος, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ᾿Οδυσσεῖ κολαστέος, ἀλλὰ τῷ Ποσειδῶνι, εἰ πανταχοῦ νόμιμον τῷ διαφθειρομένῳ βοηθεῖν, τῷ υἱῷ, καὶ ἦρχον ἀδικίας οἱ ἑταῖροι. H.M.T.

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