Dreaming of the Catalog of Ships?

Philostratus, Heroicus 6. 3-4

“I am sailing from Egypt and Phoenicia for twenty-five days at this point, somehow. As the ship was drawing up into Elaious, I dreamed I was reading the words of Homer when he describes the catalog of the Achaeans and that I was inviting all the Achaeans to get on to my ship as if it were large enough to hold them all!

When I was waking from the dream because some shiver had spread over me, I supposed that it prophesied a slow and long journey. For visions of the dead are bad signs for eager people.”

ΟΙΝ. Πλέω μὲν ἐξ Αἰγύπτου καὶ Φοινίκης πέμπτην καὶ τριακοστὴν ἤδη που ταύτην ἡμέραν. κατασχούσης δὲ τῆς νεὼς εἰς Ἐλεοῦντα τοῦτον ἔδοξα τὰ Ὁμήρου ἔπη ἀναγινώσκειν, ἐν οἷς τὸν κατάλογον τῶν Ἀχαιῶν φράζει, καὶ ξυνεκάλουν τοὺς Ἀχαιοὺς ἐμβῆναι τὴν ναῦν ὡς ἀποχρῶσαν ὁμοῦ πᾶσιν. 4ἐπεὶ δὲ ἐξέθορον τοῦ ἐνυπνίου (καὶ γάρ με καὶ φρίκης τι ὑπεληλύθει), ξυνεβαλόμην μὲν αὐτὸ ἐς βραδυτῆτα τοῦ πλοῦ καὶ μῆκος· αἱ γὰρ τῶν ἀποθανόντων ὄψεις ἀργοὶ τοῖς ἐσπουδακόσι.

Detail showing a painting of ships in a harbour from the illuminated border of the Treaty of Amiens between England and France, 18 August 1527. Catalogue reference E 30/1113. The full image is available through our Image Library.
From the UK National Archives

Cow-Days, Poseidon and Hermes: Three Allegorical Interpretations of the Odyssey’s First Fifty Lines

Schol. E ad Od. 1.8

“Allegorically, he considers the cows of Helios to be days which the companions of Odysseus endure terribly, after which they wish to return home at last,

εἰς τὰς οἰκίας αὐτῶν· ἀλληγορικῶς δὲ βοῦς ῾Ηλίου τὰς ἡμέρας νοεῖ, ἃς οἱ τοῦ ᾿Οδυσσέως φίλοι κακῶς διεβίβασαν, ὕστερον δὴ θελήσαντες ὑποστρέψαι πρὸς τὰς οἰκίας αὐτῶν. E.

Schol. E. ad Od. 1.22

“According to myth, they claim that Poseidon went to the Aithiopians at a specific time to be honored by them; allegorically, Poseidon is said to be water. Since he is water, he is certainly the ocean which circles the earthy and, because the Nile waters the land of the Aithiopians at a specific time and grows their trees, they say that Poseidon as the water is honored among them as the provider of their many blessings.”

ἀλλ’ ὁ μὲν Αἰθίοπας] μυθικῶς μέν φασι τὸν Ποσειδῶνα εἰς Αἰθίοπας κατὰ καιρὸν ὡρισμένον παραγινόμενον παρ’ ἐκείνων τιμᾶσθαι, ἀλληγορικῶς δὲ Ποσειδῶν λέγεται τὸ ὕδωρ. ἐπεὶ δὲ τὸ ὕδωρ, ἤτοι ὁ ὠκεανὸς, τὴν πᾶσαν χθόνα κυκλοῖ, καὶ ὅτι ὁ Νεῖλος κατὰ καιρὸν ὡρισμένον ἀρδεύει τὴν τῶν Αἰθιόπων γῆν καὶ αὔξει τὰ δένδρα, κατὰ τοῦτο λέγουσι τὸν Ποσειδῶνα ἤτοι τὸ ὕδωρ τιμᾶσθαι παρ’ αὐτῶν ὡς πολλῶν ἀγαθῶν ἐκείνοις παρεκτικόν. E.


Schol. E ad. Od. 1.38

Allegorically, an uttered speech is called Hermes because of his hermeneutic nature and he is the director because he manages the soul’s thoughts and the mind’s reflections. He is Argeiphontes because he is bright and pure of murder. For he teaches, and evens out and calms the emotional part of the soul. Or, it is because he killed the dog Argos, which stands for madness and disordered thoughts. He is the one who makes the reflections of the mind appear bright and clean.

ἀλληγορικῶς δὲ ὁ προφορικὸς λόγος ῾Ερμῆς λέγεται παρὰ τὸ ἑρμηνευτικὸς εἶναι, καὶ διάκτορος ὅτι διεξάγει τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ νοῦ ἐνθυμήματα, ᾿Αργειφόντης δὲ ὡς ἀργὸς καὶ καθαρὸς φόνου. παιδεύει γὰρ καὶ ῥυθμίζει καὶ πραΰνει τὸ θυμικὸν τῆς ψυχῆς. ἢ ὅτι τὸν ῎Αργον κύνα ἀναιρεῖ, τουτέστι τὰ λυσσώδη καὶ ἄτακτα ἐνθυμήματα. καὶ παρὰ τὸ ἀργεννὰ ἤτοι καθαρὰ φαίνειν τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς ἐνθυμήματα. E.


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