Criticism vs. Poetry

Eustathius, Commentaries on the Odyssey – Preface:

“Many bitter critics have taken up the Odyssey as well as the Iliad, and they tend to disparage the former more than the latter. They cite as a criticism of both poems the preponderance of fabulous material. And while they make this charge, they add to it a complaint about the status truth in the poems, suspiciously considering it a mere interpolation in the general texture of lies, and something additional to the story itself. Yet, we need not act like them – rather, we must look at the work of poetry itself, knowing that it is the custom of poets not to lay out a naked and unadorned historical account, but to adorn it with a variety of mythic stories.”

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Πικροὶ τὴν ᾿Οδύσσειαν καθὰ καὶ τὴν ᾿Ιλιάδα εἰλήχασι λογισταὶ, καὶ μᾶλλον ταύτην ἤ περ ἐκείνην διασπαράττουσι. δίδωσι δὲ λαβὰς ἐκείνοις τὸ καὶ ἐνταῦθα πολὺ τοῦ μυθώδους. καὶ τοῦτο διαβάλλοντες ἐκεῖνοι, συνεκβάλλουσι τῷ μύθῳ καὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν, διὰ τὸ τοῦ ψεύδους παρένθετον ὑπόπτως ἔχοντες καὶ πρὸς τὴν ἱστορίαν αὐτήν. χρὴ δὲ οὐχ’ οὕτω ποιεῖν, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἔργον σκοπεῖν τῆς ποιήσεως, ἐκεῖνο εἰδότας, ὡς ἄρα νόμος τοῖς ποιηταῖς μὴ γυμνὴν τὴν ἱστορίαν ἐκτίθεσθαι, ἀλλὰ μύθοις καταπυκάζειν.

3 thoughts on “Criticism vs. Poetry

    1. My students say the same thing about Servius, whom they have been translating instead of the Aeneid itself (since there aren’t any easy translation cribs online!).

      The hardest part for me is trying to read through the BLOCK of text that is the Stallbaum edition.

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