“My Mother Is Like This…”

The scene: Telemachus is asking Euryklea how she treated the beggar (who is Odysseus) over night. He does not know that she knows that it is Odysseus. It is not clear whether or not she knows that he knows that this is Odysseus. So, Telemachus takes the opportunity to complain about his mom.

Odyssey 20.128-145

“She stood once she went to the threshold and he addressed addressed Eurykleia
“Dear auntie, how did you honor the guest in our home
With sleep and food—or does he lie there uncared for?
For this is the way my mother is even though she is really intelligent.
She madly honors one man of the mortal human race
Who is worse and then she dishonors another by sending him away.”

Then wise Eurykleia addressed him in turn.

“You shouldn’t blame the blameless now child.
For he sat and was drinking her as long as he wanted
And he said that he was no longer hungry—for she asked him.
But when they were thinking about going to be and sleep
She ordered the slave women to law out blankets for him
But he, just like someone who is completely wretched and poor,
Would not sleep on a bed and on blankets,
But on unworked oxhide and fleeces of sheep
He slept in the front hall. We put a cloak on him.”
So she spoke and Telemachus went out of the bedroom
With a spear in his hand. The swiftfooted dogs were following him.

στῆ δ’ ἄρ’ ἐπ’ οὐδὸν ἰών, πρὸς δ’ Εὐρύκλειαν ἔειπε·
“μαῖα φίλη, πῶς ξεῖνον ἐτιμήσασθ’ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ
εὐνῇ καὶ σίτῳ, ἦ αὔτως κεῖται ἀκηδής;
τοιαύτη γὰρ ἐμὴ μήτηρ, πινυτή περ ἐοῦσα·
ἐμπλήγδην ἕτερόν γε τίει μερόπων ἀνθρώπων
χείρονα, τὸν δέ τ’ ἀρείον’ ἀτιμήσασ’ ἀποπέμπει.”
τὸν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπε περίφρων Εὐρύκλεια·
“οὐκ ἄν μιν νῦν, τέκνον, ἀναίτιον αἰτιόῳο.
οἶνον μὲν γὰρ πῖνε καθήμενος, ὄφρ’ ἔθελ’ αὐτός,
σίτου δ’ οὐκέτ’ ἔφη πεινήμεναι· εἴρετο γάρ μιν.
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ κοίτοιο καὶ ὕπνου μιμνῄσκοντο,
ἡ μὲν δέμνι’ ἄνωγεν ὑποστορέσαι δμῳῇσιν,
αὐτὰρ ὅ γ’, ὥς τις πάμπαν ὀϊζυρὸς καὶ ἄποτμος,
οὐκ ἔθελ’ ἐν λέκτροισι καὶ ἐν ῥήγεσσι καθεύδειν,
ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀδεψήτῳ βοέῃ καὶ κώεσιν οἰῶν
ἔδραθ’ ἐνὶ προδόμῳ· χλαῖναν δ’ ἐπιέσσαμεν ἡμεῖς.”
ὣς φάτο, Τηλέμαχος δὲ διὲκ μεγάροιο βεβήκει
ἔγχος ἔχων· ἅμα τῷ γε κύνες πόδας ἀργοὶ ἕποντο.

Schol. Q ad Od. 20.131 ex.

“This is what my mother is like…” He is not slandering his mother but he means that she honors those beggars who bring good tidings about Odysseus even though they are lying but then does not honor those good ones because they don’t lie.”

τοιαύτη γὰρ ἐμοὶ μήτηρ] οὐ διαβάλλει τὴν μητέρα, ἀλλὰ λέγει ὅτι τοὺς μὲν πτωχοὺς εὐαγγελιζομένους περὶ ᾿Οδυσσέως τιμᾷ καίπερ ψευδομένους, τοὺς δὲ ἀγαθοὺς διὰ τὸ μὴ ψεύδεσθαι ἀτιμάζει. Q.


An ancient Greek vase showing Medea in the act of murdering one of her children.
Maybe his mother should have been like this…. (Ixion Painter, Medea killing a son, c. 330 BC (Louvre, Paris).)

A Festival Day Ruse

Odyssey 20.149-157

“And she, Eurykleia, the daughter of Ops the son of Peisânor
Shining woman, was calling to the other serving women in turn.

“Wake up! Some of you take your fill of sweeping the home
And sprinkle it and then throw onto the well made furniture
The purple covers. Others, wipe all the tables clear
With sponges and clean out all the kraters
And the two-handed welded drinking cups. Others go
To the stream to get water and bring it here quickly.
The suitors will not be away from the house for long today,
But they will come near dawn for it is a festival for everyone.”

ἡ δ’ αὖτε δμῳῇσιν ἐκέκλετο δῖα γυναικῶν,
Εὐρύκλει’, ῏Ωπος θυγάτηρ Πεισηνορίδαο·
“ἄγρειθ’, αἱ μὲν δῶμα κορήσατε ποιπνύσασαι
ῥάσσατέ τ’ ἔν τε θρόνοισ’ εὐποιήτοισι τάπητας
βάλλετε πορφυρέους· αἱ δὲ σπόγγοισι τραπέζας
πάσας ἀμφιμάσασθε, καθήρατε δὲ κρητῆρας
καὶ δέπα ἀμφικύπελλα τετυγμένα· ταὶ δὲ μεθ’ ὕδωρ
ἔρχεσθε κρήνηνδε καὶ οἴσετε θᾶσσον ἰοῦσαι.
οὐ γὰρ δὴν μνηστῆρες ἀπέσσονται μεγάροιο,
ἀλλὰ μάλ’ ἦρι νέονται, ἐπεὶ καὶ πᾶσιν ἑορτή.”
ὣς ἔφαθ’, αἱ δ’ ἄρα τῆς μάλα μὲν κλύον ἠδ’ ἐπίθοντο.

Schol V ad Od. 20.155 ex

“They believed that the day of the new month was from all the gods. For earlier people dedicated that day, because it was the first of the month, to the dogs and they entrusted all beginning to them, a thing they did rightly. It is necessary for those who begin all things to honor them with similar [rites]. Thus we too offer the first cuts of food to all the gods. It is likely that that day was Apollo’s since the first light is for the one most responsible for the fire—and so they also called him New-Month. This is the story according to Philokhoros.”

τὴν νεομηνίαν πάντων τῶν θεῶν νομίζουσιν εἶναι. ταύτην γὰρ οἱ πρόγονοι τοῖς θεοῖς ἀνέθεσαν διὰ τὸ πρώτην αὐτὴν εἶναι τοῦ μηνὸς, πάσας τε τὰς ἀρχὰς προσῆψαν αὐτοῖς, ὀρθῶς ποιοῦντες. τοὺς γὰρ ἁπάντων ἄρχοντας τοῖς ὁμοίοις χρὴ γεραίρειν. καὶ τῶν σίτων τὰς ἀπαρχὰς πᾶσι τοῖς θεοῖς ἀπονέμομεν. τοῦ δ’ ᾿Απόλλωνος ταύτην εἶναι νομίζειν τὴν ἡμέραν εἰκότως τὸ πρῶτον φῶς τῷ αἰτιωτάτῳ τοῦ πυρὸς, ἐκάλουν τε αὐτὸν καὶ Νεομήνιον. ἡ ἱστορία παρὰ Φιλοχόρῳ. V.

“They dedicated that day as festival and new month sacred to Apollo, so that it might be easier to attack the suitors when the men were all gathered together for the festival.”

ταύτην τὴν ἡμέραν ἑορτὴν καὶ νουμηνίαν παρατίθεται ᾿Απόλλωνος ἱερὰν, ἵνα τῶν ἀνδρῶν περὶ τὴν ἑορτὴν καταγινομένων εὔκαιρον ἔχῃ τὸ ἐπιτίθεσθαι μνηστῆρσι. V.

Image result for ancient greek festival vase
Bacchantes Dancing to a Tympanon, Detail of a red figure on a black background. About 450 B.C.E. (Paris, Louvre)