The Unnatural Odyssey

G.C. Lewis to George Grote, (Jan. 23, 1841):

“My dear Grote,

I am sorry that you took the trouble of sending to enquire after me. I have this evening reached the stage of the crapula of a headache which though more or less unpleasant is a far better thing than the headache itself.

I hope that Mrs. Grote is recovered to day, and that she has escaped this transition state.

I return two out of the several books of yours in my possession. If you are by chance sitting in your own room pray send me the volume of Seneca, the philosopher, which contains a treatise styled Apocolocyntosis. If you are sitting upstairs, pray put it out for me to-morrow, and I will send again.

When you are next within reach of the ‘Odyssey,’ pray see if you can satisfy yourself as to the connexion of the two verses, xvii. 322-3 ἣμισυ γάρ τ’ἀρετῆς,  &c., with what precedes. The use of πότνια in Od. i. 14 disproves Hawtrey’s theory about the word: viz., that it means wife. Qu. Why is it never used in the masculine gender?

How artificial and forced the beginning of the Odyssey is, as compared with the beginning of ‘Iliad’! Aegisthus in v. 29 is lugged in by the head and shoulders without there being any apparent reason why Jupiter should be thinking of him and Orestes rather than of any other conceivable person or thing.

The speech of Minerva beginning at v. 45 is, however, quite worthy of the author of the ‘Iliad’. The verses 55-62 are, in particular, most beautiful.

Ever yours truly,

G.C. Lewis.”



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