A Strange Wish: The Scholia on Alkinoos’ Marriage Offer

Yesterday I collected some of the scholia’s comments on the strangeness of the Iliad There are fewer such comments in the scholia to the Odyssey, but where they do occur they seem to be rather substantial.

Odyssey 7.311-316

“I pray to father Zeus, Athena and Apollo that you,
since you are this kind of a man, understanding the things I understand too,
Might have my daughter and be called my son-in-law,
and stay here. I would give you my home and possessions,
If you wanted to stay. But none of the Phaeacians would hold you
Unwilling. This would not be dear to father Zeus.”

αἲ γάρ, Ζεῦ τε πάτερ καὶ ᾿Αθηναίη καὶ ῎Απολλον,
τοῖος ἐών, οἷός ἐσσι, τά τε φρονέων ἅ τ’ ἐγώ περ,
παῖδά τ’ ἐμὴν ἐχέμεν καὶ ἐμὸς γαμβρὸς καλέεσθαι,
αὖθι μένων· οἶκον δέ κ’ ἐγὼ καὶ κτήματα δοίην,
εἴ κ’ ἐθέλων γε μένοις· ἀέκοντα δέ σ’ οὔ τις ἐρύξει
Φαιήκων· μὴ τοῦτο φίλον Διὶ πατρὶ γένοιτο.

Scholia ad. Od. 7.311

“If Zeus father…” The prayer, they claim, is strange. For, who would pray to make someone part of their life and a son-in-law when he had no experience of him, unless he really knew him? It was in part an ancient custom to select out the best of the guests and grant them their daughters on account of their virtue. This is what happened with Bellerophon, Tydeus, and Polyneikos. For many don’t stand part in respect to wealth, but thanks to an excellence implied by their appearance.”

αἲ γὰρ, Ζεῦ τε πάτερ] ἄτοπος, φασὶν, ἡ εὐχή· μὴ γὰρ ἐπιστάμενος ὅστις ἐστὶ μηδὲ πειραθεὶς εὔχεται σύμβιον αὐτὸν λαβεῖν καὶ γαμβρὸν ποιήσασθαι. ἦν μὲν παλαιὸν ἔθος τὸ προκρίνειν τοὺς ἀρί-στους τῶν ξένων καὶ δι’ ἀρετὴν ἐκδιδόναι τὰς θυγατέρας, ὡς καὶ ἐπὶ Βελλεροφόντου, Τυδέως, Πολυνείκους. οὐ γὰρ εἰς τὸν πλοῦτον ἀφεώρων οἱ πολλοὶ, ἀλλ’ εἰς τὴν ἀρετὴν τὴν ἀπὸ τῆς ὄψεως·

Image result for Ancient Greek vase Odysseus meets princess
What a son-in-law!

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