Alternate Names, Assumed Identities, and Secret Codes: Olysseus, Oliseus, Odysseus

Yesterday I posted about etymologies and variants for Odysseus’ names. Eustathius records: ὁ ᾿Οδυσσεύς δέ που ᾿Ολυσσεύς καὶ ἡ ᾿Οδύσσεια ᾿Ολύσσεια. In a Boiotian inscription his name is Ὀλυσ(σ)εύς (Olusseus) and a few Corinthian inscriptions have Ὀλισ(σ)εύς (Olisseus). Rudolf Wachter (Non-Attic Greek Vase Inscriptions 2001, 267) argues that the Attic Olutteus and the Corinthian form just cited likely display a form that predates the epic spelling (and that it was the epic tradition itself that influenced the regularization).

While it seems these names may be non-Greek, this does not mean that Greek audiences did not hear echoes of the roots they knew for “woolly” (oulos), “scar” (oulê) or “destructive, ruinous” (oulos) in his name. At the same time, it does not matter whether or not one form predated the other–what matters is that Panhellenic audiences may have been familiar with multiple forms.

When Odysseus meets Penelope in disguise, he first describes what ‘Odysseus’ was wearing when he went to war, and then when she weeps, he comforts her by telling her that he has heard that Odysseus is nearby. Throughout his speech there are echoes of both his epic name Odysseus and what Wachter calls his “epichoric” (i.e. ‘local’) name.

Odyssey  19.254–271

“Revered wife of Odysseus, son of Laertes
Don’t harm your fair skin or wear out your heart
At all any longer, mourning your husband. I would not find fault at all.
For someone mourns [ODUretai] when she has lost [OLESasa] a different man,
A husband, one she has slept with and borne children to,
Different from Odysseus, a man they claim is like the gods.
But cease from mourning, take my speech to heart:
For I will speak truly and I will hide nothing.
Since I have already heard about the homecoming of Odysseus
Nearby, in the rich land of the Thesprotian men,
Alive. He took many fine possession there,
Seeking help throughout the country. But his faithful companions,
He lost [Olese] them along with his gray ship on the wine-faced sea
As he traveled from the island of Thrinakia. They were hateful [odusanto] to him,
Zeus and Helios. For his companions Helios’ cattle.
They all perished on the much-sounding sea.
But the waves through him on the keep of the ship to land,
The land of the Phaeacians, who are a race close to the gods.”

ὦ γύναι αἰδοίη Λαερτιάδεω ᾿Οδυσῆος,
μηκέτι νῦν χρόα καλὸν ἐναίρεο μηδέ τι θυμὸν  (255)
τῆκε πόσιν γοόωσα. νεμεσσῶμαί γε μὲν οὐδέν·
καὶ γάρ τίς τ’ ἀλλοῖον ὀδύρεται ἄνδρ’ ὀλέσασα
κουρίδιον, τῷ τέκνα τέκῃ φιλότητι μιγεῖσα,
ἢ ᾿Οδυσῆ’, ὅν φασι θεοῖσ’ ἐναλίγκιον εἶναι.
ἀλλὰ γόου μὲν παῦσαι, ἐμεῖο δὲ σύνθεο μῦθον· (260)
νημερτέως γάρ τοι μυθήσομαι οὐδ’ ἐπικεύσω,
ὡς ἤδη ᾿Οδυσῆος ἐγὼ περὶ νόστου ἄκουσα
ἀγχοῦ, Θεσπρωτῶν ἀνδρῶν ἐν πίονι δήμῳ,
ζωοῦ· αὐτὰρ ἄγει κειμήλια πολλὰ καὶ ἐσθλά,
αἰτίζων ἀνὰ δῆμον. ἀτὰρ ἐρίηρας ἑταίρους (265)
ὤλεσε καὶ νῆα γλαφυρὴν ἐνὶ οἴνοπι πόντῳ,
Θρινακίης ἄπο νήσου ἰών· ὀδύσαντο γὰρ αὐτῷ
Ζεύς τε καὶ ᾿Ηέλιος· τοῦ γὰρ βόας ἔκταν ἑταῖροι.
οἱ μὲν πάντες ὄλοντο πολυκλύστῳ ἐνὶ πόντῳ·
τὸν δ’ ἄρ’ ἐπὶ τρόπιος νηὸς βάλε κῦμ’ ἐπὶ χέρσου, (270)
Φαιήκων ἐς γαῖαν, οἳ ἀγχίθεοι γεγάασιν·

I am likely pressing this a bit, but the wordplay from a traditional level may be toying with different notions of Odysseus as a destroyer or as one hateful to the gods while on the level of this narrative, Odysseus may be invoking aspects of his name and character in a code for a patient Penelope. Given the ornate prohibition against weeping and the strange comparison to “another man” coupled with these sound games, I am entertaining for an evening at least that Odysseus has passed a secret message (perhaps ἐμεῖο δὲ σύνθεο μῦθον is a clue too). It may be interest to note that Penelope has just said (19.257-260):

“…I will not welcome him again
after he has come home to his paternal country.
Odysseus left with a wicked fate in his empty ship
going out to see Ev(il)-Ilion, which should not be named.”

…. τὸν δ’ οὐχ ὑποδέξομαι αὖτις
οἴκαδε νοστήσαντα φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν.
τῶ ῥα κακῇ αἴσῃ κοίλης ἐπὶ νηὸς ᾿Οδυσσεὺς
ᾤχετ’ ἐποψόμενος Κακοΐλιον οὐκ ὀνομαστήν

Image result for Odysseus and Penelope

Twitter gave me help with this:

Special thanks also to @Giovanni_Lido.

Wool, Scar, Wholeness: Oúlos, Oulê, Oulos and Odysseus

In book 19 of the Odyssey, Odysseus (in disguise) confirms for Penelope that he saw Odysseus (in the past) as he was traveling to Troy by describing the woolen cloak and golden brooch he was wearing. Fewer than two hundred lines later, Eurykleia recognizes Odysseus by his scar. In Greek, the words used for the “wool”[oúlê] cloak and the scar [oulé] differ only in accent. Later in the Odyssey, Dolios uses another word that sounds the same but means something else to address Odysseus. How might audiences distinguish between these meanings? How might the epic capitalize upon their similarity? (see below for some answers)

Odyssey 19.225–227

“Glorious Odysseus had a purple wool [oúlên] cloak with a double fold
And the brooch on it was made of gold with double clasps
On the surface it had an intricate design.”

χλαῖναν πορφυρέην ‖ οὔλην ἔχε δῖος ᾿Οδυσσεύς,
διπλῆν· ἐν δ’ ἄρα οἱ περόνη χρυσοῖο τέτυκτο
αὐλοῖσιν διδύμοισι· πάροιθε δὲ δαίδαλον ἦεν·

19.390-394

“Immediately he pondered in his heart how she might not take him
And recognize his scar [oulén] and bring everything out in the open.
But she came near and took him up for bathing. Immediately
She recognized the scar [oulén] which long ago a boar gave him with its white fang
When he went to Parnassus to see Autolykos and his sons.”

αὐτίκα γὰρ κατὰ θυμὸν ὀΐσατο, μή ἑ λαβοῦσα
οὐλὴν ἀμφράσσαιτο καὶ ἀμφαδὰ ἔργα γένοιτο.
νίζε δ’ ἄρ’ ἄσσον ἰοῦσα ἄναχθ’ ἑόν· αὐτίκα δ’ ἔγνω
οὐλήν, τήν ποτέ μιν σῦς ἤλασε λευκῷ ὀδόντι
Παρνησόνδ’ ἐλθόντα μετ’ Αὐτόλυκόν τε καὶ υἷας,

Od. 24.402 (Dolios to Odysseus)

“Be well [oule] and be of great cheer. May the gods give you blessings”

οὖλέ τε καὶ μέγα χαῖρε, θεοὶ δέ τοι ὄλβια δοῖεν.

How might audiences tell the difference between these two words in addition to accent? Usage in the hexameter line indicates some separation. “Scar” tends to come at the beginning of the line:

19.464 οὐλὴν ὅττι πάθοι· ὁ δ’ ἄρα σφίσιν εὖ κατέλεξεν,
19.507 θερσόμενος, οὐλὴν δὲ κατὰ ῥακέεσσι κάλυψε.
21.221      ὣς εἰπὼν ῥάκεα μεγάλης ἀποέργαθεν οὐλῆς.
23.74 οὐλήν, τήν ποτέ μιν σῦς ἤλασε λευκῷ ὀδόντι·
24.331 “οὐλὴν μὲν πρῶτον τήνδε φράσαι ὀφθαλμοῖσι,

“Woolly” tends to come before a caesura:

4.450 ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρα χλαίνας ‖ οὔλας βάλον ἠδὲ χιτῶνας (=10.451, 17.89)
4.299 χλαίνας τ’ ἐνθέμεναι ‖ οὔλας καθύπερθεν ἕσασθαι. (=7.338)

The one exception to this separation in the Odyssey seems to be when Odysseus is transformed into a better looking version of himself in books 6 and 23. Here, the “woolly hair” begins the line, placing the same sounds in the same position as his defining scar.

“She made the woolly hair come from his head like a hyacinth flower.”

6.230-231 …οὔλας ἧκε κὄμας, ὑακινθίνῳ ἄνθει ὁμοίας. (=23.158).

In this, Dolios’ hapax legomenon greeting to Odysseus seems potentially playful and interesting: οὖλέ τε καὶ μέγα χαῖρε, θεοὶ δέ τοι ὄλβια δοῖεν. Here the imperative could sound like a vocative for “wool”. But, it might also recall another word that sounds the same, οὖλος “destructive”, which appears in the Iliad but not in the Odyssey.

Ancient authors associate this imperative with “wholeness, and healthiness”:

Schol. H ad. Hom. Od. 24.402

“Oule: “be healthy, from “wholeness”. This is only said once.
οὖλε] ὑγίαινε· παρὰ τὸ ὅλην. τῶν ἅπαξ εἰρημένων. H.

Strabo 14.1.6

“The Milesians and Delians call Apollo Oulios, as if he his a bringer of health and healing. For, to oulein is to “to be healthy” [hugiainein], from which we get the word “scar” [oulê] and the [greeting] “be well and be very happy”.

Οὔλιον δ’ ᾿Απόλλωνα καλοῦσί τινα καὶ Μιλήσιοι καὶ Δήλιοι, οἷον ὑγιαστικὸν καὶ παιωνικόν· τὸ γὰρ οὔλειν ὑγιαίνειν, ἀφ’ οὗ καὶ τὸ οὐλὴ καὶ τό „οὖλέ τε „καὶ μέγα χαῖρε.”

The aural similarity between these four terms (“scar”, “wool”, “ruinous”, “whole”) and their potentially intentional juxtapositions and interplay in the Odyssey help to map out different variations on Odysseus’ character and his development in this particular epic. In folk etymology, the name  (whence Roman Ulysses through Doric Olisseus?. cf. Oulikseus below “Alternatives…”) may mark him as the “scarred man”, evoking the tale of his naming and thus an essential aspect of his character.

The “wool” may recall both his physical trait of curly hair (emphasized in his rejuvenations in the Odyssey) and his legendary tale of sneaking out under a ram after the blinding of Polyphemos (depicted in many vase images at an early period and perhaps echoed when Priam describes him as a “ram among the sheep” in the Iliad  3.197–198). But the “wool garment” has intra-textual relevance within our epic (since Odysseus in disguise keeps asking for a cloak) and as the garment that confirms his past identity to Penelope.

Both “scar” and “wool”, then, are intimately connected with the characterization of an Odysseus from a broader mythical perspective and are introduced as positive identification for the hero in this epic.  The echo of a “destructive” hero is mostly up to speculation. The meaning of the final imperative “be whole”, however, might be intentionally jarring and telling: at this moment, Odysseus has finally confirmed his identities with everyone and has become whole, combining and transcending his identities as “woolly haired” and “scarred”.

 Image result for Odysseus and Ram

From the Iliad

5.461 Τρῳὰς δὲ στίχας οὖλος ῎Αρης ὄτρυνε μετελθὼν
5.517 εἰ οὕτω μαίνεσθαι ἐάσομεν οὖλον ῎Αρηα.
21.536 δείδια γὰρ μὴ οὖλος ἀνὴρ ἐς τεῖχος ἅληται. [=Achilles]

 

Some Etymologies

Etymologicum Gudianum

“Scar” (oulê): This is a healed wound which is still apparent. Others call it a “persistent/painful wound” [epiponaion]”

Οὐλὴ, τὸ ὑγιασθὲν τραῦμα καὶ φαινόμενον· ἄλλοι δὲ ἐπιπόναιον ἕλκος.

“Scar and wound [ôteilê] are different. For a ‘scar’ is a strike healed from an earlier wound; whereas a ôteilê is what the wound [trauma] is called. But Homer has obscured the difference when he said “the same mark [oulê] poured out black blood from the wound [ôteilês].”

Οὐλὴ καὶ ὠτειλὴ διαφέρει· οὐλὴ μὲν γάρ ἐστιν, ἡ ἐκ παλαιοῦ τραύματος ὑγιασμένη πλήγη· ὠτειλὴ δὲ τὸ πρόσφατον τραῦμα· καὶ ῞Ομηρος δὲ τετήρηκε τὴν διαφορὰν εἴπων· οὐλὴν δ’ αὐτὴν ἔρεεν αἷμα κελαινεφὲς ἐξ ὠτειλῆς.

οὐλή, ἡ: “scar”

Chantraine s.v. οὐλή, “cicatrice, blessure, cicatrisée. From *ϝολ-. Cf. lat volnus, eris?

Beekes s.v οὐλή, “scarred wound, scar”,< IE *uel- ‘draw, tear’. But “As a common basis for these nouns, the root *uelh3- ‘to strike’ must be assumed…”

οὖλος, “wool”

Chaintraine, s.v. οὖλος 2 “Le sense ancient de οὖλος “bouclé, crépu” [“curled, frizzy”] se tire aisément de 2 εἰλέω “tourner, rouler”…Le sens secondaire de “dense” etc. n’impose pas un rapport avec 1 εἰλέω “serrer, presser”.

Beeks s.v. οὖλος, “frizzy, shaggy, woolly, crinkly’ “can be connected with εἰλέω 2 “to roll, rutnr, wind’…” We may reconstruct *uol(H)-no ‘wool’, either from *uel “to twist’ or *uelH- ‘to pluck’ (Lat. Vello).

Note for 19.225 from Merry, Riddell and Montro 1886: οὔλην ‘thick,’ ‘woolly,’ from the same root as Lat. vellus, also lāna (for vlā-na). Whether it is akin to “εἶρος, ἔρια” (Lat. vervēx) is more than doubtful.”

οὖλος, “ruinous”

Chantraine, s.v. οὖλος 3 “perniceaux, funeste, destructeur”. Epithet of Ares, Achilles and in the hellinist period, Eros… Ety. Famille ὄλλυμι, *ὄλϝος à côte de *ὀλεϝός >ὀλοός…

Beekes, s.v. οὖλος 3 “baneful”…from IE *H3lh3-u– “destructive”

οὖλος, Chantraine s.v. οὖλος 1 “tout entier”, voir ὅλος.

Schol. B ad Od. 19.393

“Scar”: Attic speakers call a wound that has been healed  ôteilê. In Homer, ôteilê is unhealed, and an oulê is healed.”

οὐλὴν] ᾿Αττικοὶ τὸ θεραπευθὲν τραῦμα ὠτειλήν φασι· παρὰ δὲ ῾Ομήρῳ ὠτειλὴ μὲν τὸ ἀθεράπευτον, οὐλὴ δὲ τὸ θεραπευθέν. B.

Alternatives to Odysseus’ name

Eust. Comm. Ad Homeri Il 1.446: ὁ ᾿Οδυσσεύς δέ που ᾿Ολυσσεύς καὶ ἡ ᾿Οδύσσεια ᾿Ολύσσεια

Herodian, de prosodia cath. 3.1.14: Οὐλιξεύς Ulixes, in quo Doris sequimur

From Brill’s New Pauly s.v Odysseus: Attic inscriptions: Ὀλυττεύς/Olytteús; Corinthian: Ὀλισ(σ)εύς/Olis(s)eús;

For other etymologies for Odysseus’ name, see here.

For “whole” elsewhere in the Odyssey see: 17.342-3

“Têlemakhos called the swineherd over to him and addressed him,
Once he took the whole [oûlon] loaf from the fancy basket”

Τηλέμαχος δ’ ἐπὶ οἷ καλέσας προσέειπε συβώτην,
ἄρτον τ’ οὖλον ἑλὼν περικαλλέος ἐκ κανέοιο

Roma Could have Been Remora

This passage from Ennius is preserved in Cicero’s De Divinatione 1.48

“They were struggling over whether the city would be called Roma or Remora.
And worry about which one of them would rule infected all men.
They were awaiting the word as when the consul wishes to give the signal
And all men eagerly look to the wall’s border to see
How soon he will send out the chariots from the painted mouths—
This is the way the people were watching and holding their tongues
For which man the victory would elevate to a great kingdom.
Meanwhile, the white sun receded into the darkness of night.
When suddenly a white light struck the sky with its rays.
At the same time there came flying straight down the most beautiful
Bird from the left and then the golden sun rose.
Three times, four sacred forms of birds descended from the sky
And settled themselves in propitious and noble positions.
In this, Romulus recognized that the first place was granted to him,
A kingdom and place made certain by the signs of birds.”

Certabant urbem Romam Remoramne vocarent.
Omnibus cura viris uter esset induperator.
Expectant vel uti, consul cum mittere signum
Volt, omnes avidi spectant ad carceris oras,
Quam mox emittat pictis e faucibus currus: 90
Sic expectabat populus atque ora tenebat
Rebus, utri magni victoria sit data regni.
Interea sol albus recessit in infera noctis.
Exin candida se radiis dedit icta foras lux.
Et simul ex alto longe pulcherruma praepes 95
Laeva volavit avis: simul aureus exoritur sol.
Cedunt de caelo ter quattor corpora sancta
Avium, praepetibus sese pulchrisque locis dant.
Conspicit inde sibi data Romulus esse priora,
Auspicio regni stabilita scamna locumque.

Romulus and Remus
Ah, the city of brotherly….

Say My Name: Odysseus begins his song, (Homer, Odyssey 9.14-20)

[Today the Almeida Theater in the UK is presenting a live reading of the Odyssey. Duly inspired, we are re-posting some of our favorite Odyssey themed posts]

“What shall I tell first and what shall I tell last?
The Ouranian gods gave me so many pains.
But now I will announce my name so that you all will know it
since I have avoided a pitiless day and have come
to join you as a guest in these halls.
I am Odysseus, the son of Laertes who is known among all men for tricks:
my fame reaches even up to heaven.”

τί πρῶτόν τοι ἔπειτα, τί δ’ ὑστάτιον καταλέξω;
κήδε’ ἐπεί μοι πολλὰ δόσαν θεοὶ Οὐρανίωνες.
νῦν δ’ ὄνομα πρῶτον μυθήσομαι, ὄφρα καὶ ὑμεῖς
εἴδετ’, ἐγὼ δ’ ἂν ἔπειτα φυγὼν ὕπο νηλεὲς ἦμαρ
ὑμῖν ξεῖνος ἔω καὶ ἀπόπροθι δώματα ναίων.
εἴμ’ ᾿Οδυσεὺς Λαερτιάδης, ὃς πᾶσι δόλοισιν
ἀνθρώποισι μέλω, καί μευ κλέος οὐρανὸν ἵκει.

The Senate Loved Augustus for His Virtue, Clemency, Justice and Piety. Truly.

Yesterday we posted a bit from Ovid’s Tristia where he appears to be a little less than sincere in his lament from exile. Today, here’s a bit from the man who allegedly exiled him–Augustus Caesar–which I do wish were a little more ironic. The full Greek and Latin texts are drawn from the Loeb and made available online by Lacus Curtius.

“In my sixth and seventh consulships [28-27 BCE], after I had ended the civil wars and had achieved power over everything by universal consensus, I returned the state from my control to the guidance of the senate and Roman people. For this, the senate decreed that I would be named Augustus: the door posts of my house were decorated with laurel; a public crown was put up over my doorway, and a golden shield was dedicated in the Curia Julia, whose inscription declared that the senate and people of Rome gave it to me to recognize my virtue, clemency, justice and piety. After that moment, I stood apart from all other men in authority, but I had no more power than those who were my associates in any magistracy.”

In consulatu sexto et septimo, postquam bella civilia exstinxeram, per consensum universorum potitus rerum omnium, rem publicam ex mea potestate in senatus populique Romani arbitrium transtuli. Quo pro merito meo senatus consulto Augustus appellatus sum et laureis postes aedium mearum vestiti publice coronaque civica super ianuam meam fixa est et clupeus aureus in curia Iulia positus, quem mihi senatum populumque Romanum dare virtutis clementiaeque et iustitiae et pietatis caussa testatum est per eius clupei inscriptionem. Post id tempus auctoritate omnibus praestiti, potestatis autem nihilo amplius habui quam ceteri qui mihi quoque in magistratu conlegae fuerunt.

34 Ἑν ὑπατείαι ἔκτηι καὶ ἑβδόμηι μετὰ τὸ τοὺς ἐνφυλίους ζβέσαι με πολέμους κατὰ τὰς εὐχὰς τῶν ἐμῶν πολειτῶν ἐνκρατὴς γενόμενος πάντων τῶν πραγμάτων, ἐκ τῆς ἐμῆς ἐξουσίας εἰς τὴν τῆς συν κλήτου καὶ τοῦ δήμου τῶν Ῥωμαίων μετήνεγκα κυριήαν. Ἐξ ἧς αἰτίας δόγματι συνκλήτου Σεβαστὸς προσηγορεύθην καὶ δάφναις δημοσίαι τὰ πρόπυλά μου ἐστέφθη, ὅ τε δρύινος στέφανος ὁ διδόμενος ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ τῶν πολειτῶν ὑπεράνω τοῦ πυλῶ2 νος τῆς ἐμῆς οἰκίας ἀνετέθη, ὅπλον τε χρυσοῦν ἐν τῶι βουλευτηρίωι ἀνατεθὲν ὑπό τε τῆς συνκλήτου καὶ τοῦ δήμου τῶν Ῥωμαίων διὰ τῆς ἐπιγραφῆς ἀρετὴν καὶ ἐπείκειαν καὶ δικαιοσύνην καὶ εὐσέβειαν ἐμοὶ μαρτυρεῖ. Ἀξιώμὰτι πάντων διήνεγκα, § ἐξουσίας δὲ οὐδέν τι πλεῖον ἔσχον τῶν συναρξάντων μοι.