Odysseus, Ancient Athlete Enraged

Homer, Odyssey 8.165–185

Euryalus (a Phaeacian youth) has just claimed that Odysseus looks more like a pirate than an athlete.

Very-clever Odysseus glared at him and then answered in response

“Friend, you don’t speak well. You’re like a reckless man.
The gods don’t give good things to people at once in this way–
Not in form or brains or in ability to speak.
For one man is not exceptional in looks
But a god crowns his form with words. People delight
As they see him, and he speaks without hesitation in public,
With sweet reverence, and is conspicuous among those assembled,
And they gaze upon him like a god when he goes through the city.

Another is equal to the immortals in his appearance
But no charm sits well upon his words—
Just so, your shape is excellent, not even a god
Could make it differently. But your mind is limited [apophôlios].
You have raised the spirit in my dear chest
By speaking against what is right. I am no novice in sports,
As you at least claim, but I think I was among the best
When I could trust my youth and my hands.
But now I am overcome by evil and pains. I have endured much
Surviving the wars of men and the harrowing waves.
But, even so, after suffering much, I will play your games.
Your speech gnaws at my heart: you have pissed me off by speaking.”

τὸν δ’ ἄρ’ ὑπόδρα ἰδὼν προσέφη πολύμητις ᾿Οδυσσεύς·
“ξεῖν’, οὐ καλὸν ἔειπες· ἀτασθάλῳ ἀνδρὶ ἔοικας.
οὕτως οὐ πάντεσσι θεοὶ χαρίεντα διδοῦσιν
ἀνδράσιν, οὔτε φυὴν οὔτ’ ἂρ φρένας οὔτ’ ἀγορητύν.
ἄλλος μὲν γὰρ εἶδος ἀκιδνότερος πέλει ἀνήρ,
ἀλλὰ θεὸς μορφὴν ἔπεσι στέφει· οἱ δέ τ’ ἐς αὐτὸν
τερπόμενοι λεύσσουσιν, ὁ δ’ ἀσφαλέως ἀγορεύει,
αἰδοῖ μειλιχίῃ, μετὰ δὲ πρέπει ἀγρομένοισιν,
ἐρχόμενον δ’ ἀνὰ ἄστυ θεὸν ὣς εἰσορόωσιν.
ἄλλος δ’ αὖ εἶδος μὲν ἀλίγκιος ἀθανάτοισιν,
ἀλλ’ οὔ οἱ χάρις ἀμφὶ περιστέφεται ἐπέεσσιν,
ὡς καὶ σοὶ εἶδος μὲν ἀριπρεπές, οὐδέ κεν ἄλλως
οὐδὲ θεὸς τεύξειε, νόον δ’ ἀποφώλιός ἐσσι.
ὤρινάς μοι θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι φίλοισιν
εἰπὼν οὐ κατὰ κόσμον· ἐγὼ δ’ οὐ νῆϊς ἀέθλων,
ὡς σύ γε μυθεῖαι, ἀλλ’ ἐν πρώτοισιν ὀΐω
ἔμμεναι, ὄφρ’ ἥβῃ τε πεποίθεα χερσί τ’ ἐμῇσι.
νῦν δ’ ἔχομαι κακότητι καὶ ἄλγεσι· πολλὰ γὰρ ἔτλην,
ἀνδρῶν τε πτολέμους ἀλεγεινά τε κύματα πείρων.
ἀλλὰ καὶ ὧς, κακὰ πολλὰ παθών, πειρήσομ’ ἀέθλων·
θυμοδακὴς γὰρ μῦθος· ἐπώτρυνας δέ με εἰπών.”


Schol. QT ad Od. 8.166 ex

 “it is the Homeric custom to get a sense of the manner and character of someone you meet from their words. [This occurs elsewhere] for Telemachus: “you are of good blood, dear child, based on the way you think.” This is because he believe that being well-born and educated necessarily go together and he says everything appropriately. But Odysseus, for he did not maintain strongly that he is reckless, but says that he is like someone who is, because of his response and what he said.”

ξεῖν’, οὐ καλὸν ἔειπες] ἔθος ἐστὶν ῾Ομηρικὸν ἐκ τῶν λόγων χαρακτηρίζεσθαι καὶ τὸν τρόπον τοῦ ἐντυγχάνοντος. καὶ ἐν ἄλλοις περὶ τοῦ Τηλεμάχου “αἵματος εἶς ἀγαθοῖο, φίλον τέκος, οἷ’ ἀγορεύεις” (δ, 611.)· οἰόμενος τὸν εὐγενῆ καὶ πεπαιδευμένον ἀναγκαίως ὁμιλεῖν, πρεπόντως δὲ πάντα λέγειν. ᾿Οδυσσεὺς δὲ, οὐ γὰρ διεβεβαιώσατο τὸ ἀτάσθαλον αὐτὸν εἶναι, ἀλλ’ ἐοικέναι φησὶ τούτῳ διὰ τὸ
ἀντειπεῖν καὶ εἰρηκέναι. Q.T.

Schol. E ad Od. 8.177 ex 11-14

“Apophôlios properly means one who is not worthy of being included in the number of men, for they lack words and deeds at the right time. They call the primary schools phôleus. The one who has not frequented schools is called un-schooled.”

καὶ ἔστι κυρίως ἀποφώλιος ὁ μὴ ἄξιος συναριθμεῖσθαι ἀνδρῶν ὁλότητι ἐν φωτὶ, ἤγουν ἐν καιρῷ ἔργων ἢ λόγων δεομένῳ. φωλεοὺς λέγουσι τὰ παιδευτήρια. ὁ γοῦν μὴ φοιτῶν εἰς τὰ παιδευτήρια λέγεται ἀποφώλιος. E.

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