Performing Prophecies

Schol. bT ad Hom. Il. 2.350 ex

“Odysseus properly, as he speaks to the public, offers the prophecy of Kalkhas to please the people, since he was hateful to the sons of Atreus but sweet to the masses. Nestor, because he is trying to please the king, offers the signs of the king of the gods. For this reason Odysseus is praised by the Greeks but Nestor is praised by the king.”

οἰκείως ὁ μὲν ᾿Οδυσσεὺς δημοχαριστικῶς δημηγορῶν τοῦ Κάλχαντος προβάλλεται τὴν μαντείαν, ὃς ἦν τοῖς ᾿Ατρείδαις ἐχθρός, τῷ δὲ πλήθει γλυκύς· ὁ δὲ Νέστωρ τῷ βασιλεῖ χαριζόμενος τὰ τοῦ βασιλέως τῶν θεῶν προβάλλεται· διὸ ὁ μὲν παρὰ τῶν ῾Ελλήνων, ὁ δὲ Νέστωρ παρὰ τοῦ βασιλέως ἐγκωμιάζεται

Homer, Iliad 2.299–330 (Odysseus)

“Endure, friends, and wait some time so we may learn,
Whether Kalkhas prophesied truly or not.
For we all know this well in our minds: you were all
Witnesses, at least those of you the fates of death have not carried off.
On that day long ago when the ships of the Achaeans gathered
At Aulis preparing troubles for Priam and the Trojans:
We were all around the sacred altars along a spring
Completing sacrifices to the immortal gods
Under a beautiful plane tree from where the sparkling water issued.
A great omen appeared there: a serpent with a deep-red back,
Terrible, which the Olympian himself sent to the light,
Crept up from under the altar and moved toward the plane tree.
There were newborn sparrow-chicks, immature ones
Were peering out under the leaves on the topmost bow.
There eight of them but the mother who bore them made it nine.
Then the serpent gulped them all down as they tweeted pitifully.
Their mother hopped around mourning over her dear offspring.
Well, he coiled up and grabbed her by the wing as she cried over them.
When it had swallowed the sparrow’s children and her too.
Then the god who exposed the serpent made it disappear—
The son of crooked-minded Kronos made it into stone.
We all stood in awe at the thing that happened,
That’s how terrible the portents of the gods were over our sacrifices.
Kalkhas immediately addressed us, offering his interpretation:
“Why are you silent, you long-haired Achaeans?
The great counsellor Zeus has shown us this sign:
Late coming, late completed, and its’ fame will never die.
Just as it ate up the sparrow’s children and her too,
Eight of them and the mother who bore them was the ninth,
So too we will war here for that many years
And in the tenth we will take the wide-wayed city.”
That’s how Kalkhas interpreted. Now all these things are being completed.”

τλῆτε φίλοι, καὶ μείνατ’ ἐπὶ χρόνον ὄφρα δαῶμεν
ἢ ἐτεὸν Κάλχας μαντεύεται ἦε καὶ οὐκί.
εὖ γὰρ δὴ τόδε ἴδμεν ἐνὶ φρεσίν, ἐστὲ δὲ πάντες
μάρτυροι, οὓς μὴ κῆρες ἔβαν θανάτοιο φέρουσαι·
χθιζά τε καὶ πρωΐζ’ ὅτ’ ἐς Αὐλίδα νῆες ᾿Αχαιῶν
ἠγερέθοντο κακὰ Πριάμῳ καὶ Τρωσὶ φέρουσαι,
ἡμεῖς δ’ ἀμφὶ περὶ κρήνην ἱεροὺς κατὰ βωμοὺς
ἕρδομεν ἀθανάτοισι τεληέσσας ἑκατόμβας
καλῇ ὑπὸ πλατανίστῳ ὅθεν ῥέεν ἀγλαὸν ὕδωρ·
ἔνθ’ ἐφάνη μέγα σῆμα· δράκων ἐπὶ νῶτα δαφοινὸς
σμερδαλέος, τόν ῥ’ αὐτὸς ᾿Ολύμπιος ἧκε φόως δέ,
βωμοῦ ὑπαΐξας πρός ῥα πλατάνιστον ὄρουσεν.
ἔνθα δ’ ἔσαν στρουθοῖο νεοσσοί, νήπια τέκνα,
ὄζῳ ἐπ’ ἀκροτάτῳ πετάλοις ὑποπεπτηῶτες
ὀκτώ, ἀτὰρ μήτηρ ἐνάτη ἦν ἣ τέκε τέκνα·
ἔνθ’ ὅ γε τοὺς ἐλεεινὰ κατήσθιε τετριγῶτας·
μήτηρ δ’ ἀμφεποτᾶτο ὀδυρομένη φίλα τέκνα·
τὴν δ’ ἐλελιξάμενος πτέρυγος λάβεν ἀμφιαχυῖαν.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ κατὰ τέκνα φάγε στρουθοῖο καὶ αὐτήν,
τὸν μὲν ἀρίζηλον θῆκεν θεὸς ὅς περ ἔφηνε·
λᾶαν γάρ μιν ἔθηκε Κρόνου πάϊς ἀγκυλομήτεω·
ἡμεῖς δ’ ἑσταότες θαυμάζομεν οἷον ἐτύχθη.
ὡς οὖν δεινὰ πέλωρα θεῶν εἰσῆλθ’ ἑκατόμβας,
Κάλχας δ’ αὐτίκ’ ἔπειτα θεοπροπέων ἀγόρευε·
τίπτ’ ἄνεῳ ἐγένεσθε κάρη κομόωντες ᾿Αχαιοί;
ἡμῖν μὲν τόδ’ ἔφηνε τέρας μέγα μητίετα Ζεὺς
ὄψιμον ὀψιτέλεστον, ὅου κλέος οὔ ποτ’ ὀλεῖται.
ὡς οὗτος κατὰ τέκνα φάγε στρουθοῖο καὶ αὐτὴν
ὀκτώ, ἀτὰρ μήτηρ ἐνάτη ἦν ἣ τέκε τέκνα,
ὣς ἡμεῖς τοσσαῦτ’ ἔτεα πτολεμίξομεν αὖθι,
τῷ δεκάτῳ δὲ πόλιν αἱρήσομεν εὐρυάγυιαν.
κεῖνος τὼς ἀγόρευε· τὰ δὴ νῦν πάντα τελεῖται.

2.350–356 (Nestor)

“I say that the over-powering son of Kronos assented
On that day when the Argives took to the fast-faring ships
Bringing murder and death to the Trojans,
Showing clear and favorable signs by flashing lightning.
So let no one be compelled to return home,
Because each one has taken a Trojan wife to bed
As payback for Helen’s writhing and moans.”

φημὶ γὰρ οὖν κατανεῦσαι ὑπερμενέα Κρονίωνα
ἤματι τῷ ὅτε νηυσὶν ἐν ὠκυπόροισιν ἔβαινον
᾿Αργεῖοι Τρώεσσι φόνον καὶ κῆρα φέροντες
ἀστράπτων ἐπιδέξι’ ἐναίσιμα σήματα φαίνων.
τὼ μή τις πρὶν ἐπειγέσθω οἶκον δὲ νέεσθαι
πρίν τινα πὰρ Τρώων ἀλόχῳ κατακοιμηθῆναι,
τίσασθαι δ’ ῾Ελένης ὁρμήματά τε στοναχάς τε.

Ilias Kodex.jpg
Iliad Codex

Leave a Reply