Writing Advice from Odysseus and David Byrne

A re-post in honor of Odyssey Round the World

Homer, Odyssey 12.447-453

“From there I was carried for nine days and on the tenth
The gods drove me at night to the island where Kalypso,
That nymph with the good hair, the dread goddess lives.
She was loving me and taking care of me. But why should I tell that story again?
I already told the tale of these things yesterday in this house
To you and your wife. It is super annoying for me
To say something again once it was already said clearly.”

ἔνθεν δ’ ἐννῆμαρ φερόμην, δεκάτῃ δέ με νυκτὶ
νῆσον ἐς ᾿Ωγυγίην πέλασαν θεοί, ἔνθα Καλυψὼ
ναίει ἐϋπλόκαμος, δεινὴ θεὸς αὐδήεσσα,
ἥ μ’ ἐφίλει τ’ ἐκόμει τε. τί τοι τάδε μυθολογεύω;
ἤδη γάρ τοι χθιζὸς ἐμυθεόμην ἐνὶ οἴκῳ
σοί τε καὶ ἰφθίμῃ ἀλόχῳ· ἐχθρὸν δέ μοί ἐστιν
αὖτις ἀριζήλως εἰρημένα μυθολογεύειν.”

Odysseus Yearns for Ithaca by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein

The Talking Heads, Psycho Killer 14-17

You start a conversation you can’t even finish it
You’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
Say something once, why say it again?

David Byrne

Writing Advice from Odysseus and David Byrne

Homer, Odyssey 12.447-453

“From there I was carried for nine days and on the tenth
The gods drove me at night to the island where Kalypso,
That nymph with the good hair, the dread goddess lives.
She was loving me and taking care of me. But why should I tell that story again?
I already told the tale of these things yesterday in this house
To you and your wife. It is super annoying for me
To say something again once it was already said clearly.”

ἔνθεν δ’ ἐννῆμαρ φερόμην, δεκάτῃ δέ με νυκτὶ
νῆσον ἐς ᾿Ωγυγίην πέλασαν θεοί, ἔνθα Καλυψὼ
ναίει ἐϋπλόκαμος, δεινὴ θεὸς αὐδήεσσα,
ἥ μ’ ἐφίλει τ’ ἐκόμει τε. τί τοι τάδε μυθολογεύω;
ἤδη γάρ τοι χθιζὸς ἐμυθεόμην ἐνὶ οἴκῳ
σοί τε καὶ ἰφθίμῃ ἀλόχῳ· ἐχθρὸν δέ μοί ἐστιν
αὖτις ἀριζήλως εἰρημένα μυθολογεύειν.”

Odysseus Yearns for Ithaca by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein

The Talking Heads, Psycho Killer 14-17

You start a conversation you can’t even finish it
You’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
Say something once, why say it again?

David Byrne

Ion fr. 27: A Middling Drinking Song with a Good Punch Line

“Hail to our king, father and defender—
Have our servants mix the wine bowls
drawing from pitchers ringed with silver. And have the man
who holds the golden wine jar wash our hands to the floor.
With reverence, make libation to Herakles, Alkmene
To Procles and the descendants of Perseus.
But let us begin drinking and playing with Zeus.
Let the song fly through the night.
Let anyone dance. Begin with willing cheer.
And the man who has a fine–looking woman waiting in his bed.
will drink more decisively than the rest.”

 

 

χαιρέτω ἡμέτερος βασιλεὺς σωτήρ τε πατήρ τε·
ἡμῖν δὲ κρητῆρ’ οἰνοχόοι θέραπες
κιρνάντων προχύταισιν ἐν ἀργυρέοις· †ὁ δὲ χρυσὸς
οἶνον ἔχων χειρῶν νιζέτω εἰς ἔδαφος.†
σπένδοντες δ’ ἁγνῶς ῾Ηρακλεῖ τ’ ᾿Αλκμήνηι τε,
Προκλεῖ Περσείδαις τ’ ἐκ Διὸς ἀρχόμενοι
πίνωμεν, παίζωμεν· ἴτω διὰ νυκτὸς ἀοιδή,
ὀρχείσθω τις· ἑκὼν δ’ ἄρχε φιλοφροσύνης.
ὅντινα δ’ εὐειδὴς μίμνει θήλεια πάρευνος,
κεῖνος τῶν ἄλλων κυδρότερον πίεται.

 

Ion? A poet we’ve seen before

Hermolochus (Stobaeus, Extracts 4.34.66)

 

“Often a terrible wind follows hard after fair-sailing.”

ἀντιπνεῖ δὲ πολλάκις εὐτυχίᾳ δεινά τις αὔρα

Hermolochus just defeated Wikipedia. Stobaeus made the cut, though.

(Am I the only one who loves the sound of ἀντιπνεῖ? Seriously, say it aloud a few times…)

Praxilla, fr. 750 (Schol. Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 528ff.)

 

“Friend, protect yourself against the scorpion under every stone.”

 

ὑπὸ παντὶ λίθῳ σκορπίον ὦ ἑταῖρε φυλάσσεο

 

 

This is cited by the scholiast when discussing the following passage, quite clearly about politicians (Ar. Thesm. 528-31)

 

τὴν παροιμίαν δ᾽ ἐπαινῶ

τὴν παλαιάν: ὑπὸ λίθῳ γὰρ

παντί νου χρὴ

μὴ δάκῃ ῥητωρ ἀθρεῖν.