Achilles Can Sack Cities: Or, How Aristarchus Can be Wrong

At several key points in the Iliad Achilles receives the epithet ptoliporthos–and while ancient commentators took some issue with this, the epithet applies quite well to the hero at several key points, something which I am convinced by from the epic and some work I have read by the Homerist Dr. Emily Austin. Her future publications will show the value of this; I just wanted to take an opportunity to highlight some of the arbitrariness of ancient editors.

Il. 8.372 (=15.77)

“[Thetis] was begging me to honor Achilles the city-sacker”

λισσομένη τιμῆσαι ᾿Αχιλλῆα πτολίπορθον.

Schol A. ad. Il 15.56a

“For line 77 Aristarchus says that [the poet] never calls Achilles a city-sacker but “swift of foot and swift-footed.”

ἐν δὲ τῷ „λισσομένη τιμῆσαι” (Ο 77) φησὶν ὁ ᾿Αρίσταρχος ὅτι οὐδαμῆ τὸν ᾿Αχιλλέα „πτολίπορθον” εἴρηκεν, ἀλλὰ „ποδάρκη” (cf. Α 121 al.) καὶ „ποδώκη” (cf. Θ 474 al.). A

Schol. T ad Il. 15.77

[city-sacker] “he calls only Odysseus thus concerning Troy. But elsewhere he says, “then he noticed city-sacking Achilles”. For he sacked twenty cities.”

ex. <πτολίπορθον:> ᾿Οδυσσέα μόνον οὕτω καλεῖ διὰ τὴν ῎Ιλιον. ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ λέγει ”αὐτὰρ ὅ γ’ ὡς ἐνόησεν ᾿Αχιλλῆα πτολίπορθον” (Φ 550)· ἐπόρθησε γὰρ εἴκοσι πόλεις. T

Iliad 21.550

“But when he noticed Achilles the city-sacker…”

αὐτὰρ ὅ γ’ ὡς ἐνόησεν ᾿Αχιλλῆα πτολίπορθον…

Schol AT. ad. Il. 21.551 ex

A: “Achilles the city-sacker: because it is excessive to apply ptoliporthos so much to Odysseus, now it is applied once to Achilles. This is according to those Separatists*, for they use these texts. Some have “Achilles Peleus’s son” because they are astonished by the epithet.

T: Some have “Achilles’ Peleus’ son” because they are surprised by the epithet [city-sacking] but Achilles himself says, “I sacked 12 cities with my ships”

Ariston. ᾿Αχιλλῆα πτολίπορθον: ὅτι πλεονάζει ἐπ’ ᾿Οδυσσέως τὸ πτολίπορθος (sc. Β 278. Κ 363. θ 3 al.), νῦν δὲ ἅπαξ ἐπ’ ᾿Αχιλλέως. πρὸς τοὺς Χωρίζοντας (fr. 10 K.)· τούτοις γὰρ χρῶνται. τινὲς δὲ „᾿Αχιλλέα Πηλείωνα” ποιοῦσι, ξενισθέντες πρὸς τὸ ἐπίθετον. A

ex. (Ariston.) ᾿Αχιλλῆα πτολίπορθον: τινὲς „᾿Αχιλλέα Πηλείωνα”, πρὸς τὸ ἐπίθετον ξενισθέντες. ἀλλ’ ἤδη αὐτὸς εἶπε „δώδεκα δὴ σὺν νηυσὶ πόλεις ἀλάπαξα” (Ι 328)…T

* χωρίζοντες was a term applied to ancient scholars who believed that the Iliad and Odyssey were composed by different poets.

Iliad 24.108

“For nine days a conflict arose among the immortals
Over Hektor’s corpse and city-sacking Achilles.”

ἐννῆμαρ δὴ νεῖκος ἐν ἀθανάτοισιν ὄρωρεν
῞Εκτορος ἀμφὶ νέκυι καὶ ᾿Αχιλλῆϊ πτολιπόρθῳ·

There are no scholia in Erbse’s edition which contest “city-sacker” here. If the logic applied by earlier scholia obtains, however, there should be similar objections. As some have observed, however, the death of Hektor is both symbolically the death of the city and in actuality a guarantee that the city will fall. By killing Hektor, Achilles is in fact a city-sacker (in the Iliad’s) terms. Some ancient scholars would still like the preserve the epithet as part of Odysseus’ special heroic identity.

 

Schol. E ad Od. 1.2 ex.

“Why does Homer not call Achilles [city-sacker] but Odysseus instead even though Achilles sacked countless cities? Indeed, we say that although Achilles overcame those cities, Odysseus sacked famous Troy though his own intelligence—the very city the Greeks were willing to take a share of great suffering over. This is why [Homer] calls not Achilles but Odysseus city-sacker.”

ἔπερσε] διὰ τί ῞Ομηρος οὐ τὸν ᾿Αχιλλέα ὀνομάζει, ἀλλὰ τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα πτολίπορθον, καὶ ταῦτα πόλεις ἀπείρους τοῦ ᾿Αχιλλέως πορθήσαντος; καὶ λέγομεν, ἐπεὶ ὁ ᾿Αχιλλεὺς πολίδριά τινα ἐπέσχεν, ὁ δὲ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς διὰ τῆς οἰκείας φρονήσεως τὴν περίφημον Τροίαν ἐπόρθησε, δι’ ἣν οἱ ῞Ελληνες πολλῆς κακοπαθείας μετέσχηκαν κατα-σχεῖν αὐτὴν θέλοντες, διὰ τοῦτο οὐ τὸν ᾿Αχιλλέα, ἀλλὰ τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα ὀνομάζει πτολίπορθον. E.

“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).)

Sarcasm! Flesh-Tearing With a Counterfeit Grin

Suda (10th Century CE)

Sarcasm: a species of irony

Σαρκασμός: εἶδος εἰρωνείας.

Aristophanes, Frogs 996 (5th Century BCE)

Σαρκασμοπιτυοκάμπται: “Saracastic-pine-benders”

Suda

“Aristophanes uses this instead of “great men” (megaloi) because he is describing those who take and use falsely the means of war, not because they are truly interested in it, but because they care about strength. For this reason he also called Megainetus “Manes”, not because he is barbaric but because he is stupid. [In the Frogs] he appropriately uses a compound word because this is Aeschylus’ habit.”

Σαρκασμοπιτυοκάμπται: Ἀριστοφάνης φησί, ἀντὶ τοῦ μεγάλοι. ὡς ἁρπάζοντας καὶ προσποιουμένους τὰ πολεμικά, οὐκ ἀληθῶς δὲ τοιούτους, ἰσχύος δὲ ἐπιμελομένους. διὸ καὶ τὸν Μεγαίνετον Μάνην εἶπεν, οὐ πάντως βάρβαρον, ἀλλ’ ἀναίσθητον. ἐπιτηδὲς δὲ ἐχρήσατο τοῖς συνθέτοις, διὰ τὸ Αἰσχύλου ἦθος.

Plutarch On Homer 718 (2nd Century CE)

“There is a certain type of irony as well called sarcasm, which is when someone makes a criticism of someone else using opposites and with a fake smile…”

῎Εστι δέ τι εἶδος εἰρωνείας καὶ ὁ σαρκασμός, ἐπειδάν τις διὰ τῶν ἐναντίων ὀνειδίζῃ τινι μετὰ προσποιήτου μειδιάματος…

Homer, Iliad 1.560-562

“Then cloud-gathering Zeus responded to Hera in answer,
‘Friend [daimoniê] you always know my thoughts, and I can never trick you—
Buy you can’t do anything about it….

Τὴν δ’ ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφη νεφεληγερέτα Ζεύς·
δαιμονίη αἰεὶ μὲν ὀΐεαι οὐδέ σε λήθω·
πρῆξαι δ’ ἔμπης οὔ τι δυνήσεαι…

Schol. bT ad Il. 1.561a

“Divine one”: “blessed”, used sarcastically.

ex. δαιμονίη: μακαρία, ἐν σαρκασμῷ. b(BCE3)T

Phrynichus Atticus, 16.5 (2nd Century CE)

“To steal is best”: the repetitive structure (symploke) is witty. For you also have “to commit adultery is best, and similar things”. It is a kind of sarcasm to praise an evil to excess.”

ἄριστος κλέπτειν (fr. com. ad. 850): ἀστεία ἡ συμπλοκή. καὶ ἄριστος μοιχεύειν, καὶ τὰ ὅμοια. σαρκασμοῦ τρόπῳ ἐπῄνηται εἰς ὑπερβολὴν τοῦ κακοῦ.

Sarcasm

Oxford English Dictionary

sarcasmn.

Etymology: < late Latin sarcasmus, < late Greek σαρκασμός, < σαρκάζειν to tear flesh, gnash the teeth, speak bitterly, < σαρκ-σάρξ flesh.(Show Less)

  A sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt. Now usually in generalized sense: Sarcastic language; sarcastic meaning or purpose.

1579   E. K. in Spenser Shepheardes Cal. Oct. Gloss.   Tom piper, an ironicall Sarcasmus, spoken in derision of these rude wits, whych [etc.].
1581   J. Bell tr. W. Haddon & J. Foxe Against Jerome Osorius 324   With this skoffe doth he note them..by a certayne figure called Sarcasmus.
1605   J. Dove Confut. Atheisme 38   He called the other Gods so, by a figure called Ironia, or Sarcasmus.
1621   R. Burton Anat. Melancholy i. ii. iv. iv. 197   Many are of so petulant a spleene, and haue that figure Sarcasmus so often in their mouths,..that they must bite.
1661   O. Felltham Resolves (rev. ed.) 284   Either a Sarcasmus against the voluptuous; or else, ’tis a milder counsel.
Greek comedy was a popular form of theatre performed in ancient Greece from the 6th cent. BCE

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.

Odysseus, Older Brother

Od. 14.145-147

“But a longing for Odysseus who has gone wrecks me.
I am feel ashamed to name him, stranger, even though he is absent.
For he used to really care about me and take pains in his heart.
But I call him my older brother even though he is not here.”

ἀλλά μ’ ᾿Οδυσσῆος πόθος αἴνυται οἰχομένοιο.
τὸν μὲν ἐγών, ὦ ξεῖνε, καὶ οὐ παρεόντ’ ὀνομάζειν
αἰδέομαι· περὶ γάρ μ’ ἐφίλει καὶ κήδετο θυμῷ·
ἀλλά μιν ἠθεῖον καλέω καὶ νόσφιν ἐόντα.”

Translators who contend with this passage may struggle with it because it seems odd in English to say “I feel shame to name…” someone. In fact, I don’t think I would understand this passage at all (and I still might be wrong) if it were not for my wife’s language and culture (she speaks Tamil, a language from southern India). In many cultures, naming someone by their personal name is a sign of privilege; not naming them or using an honorific is a token of respect. In Tamil, for instance, there are different names for aunts and uncles depending on whether they are older or younger than your parents.

Outside of the family, as a sign of respect, one calls older men and women aunt and uncle (or grandfather and grandmother) and family friends or cousins of close age but still older “big sister” (akka) or big brother (anna).

The passage above hinges, I think, on some kind of a token of respect. Eumaios, the swineherd, is hesitant to speak Odysseus’ name and declares that he should call him êtheion. Most translators render this as “lord”, “sir”, “master”. But the scholia give a different answer.

Schol. BQHV ad Hom. Od. 14.147

BQ. “But I call him elder…” I do not call Odysseus ‘master’ but big brother because of his loving-care for me. For to êtheie is the address of a younger [brother] to an older.”

ἀλλά μιν ἠθεῖον καλέω] οὐ καλῶ αὐτὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα ἢ δεσπότην, ἀλλὰ ἀδελφὸν μείζονα διὰ τὴν πρὸς ἐμὲ φιλοστοργίαν. τὸ δὲ ἠθεῖε προσφώνησίς ἐστι νεωτέρου πρὸς μείζονα. B.Q.

H. “This is one part of the speech [?]. But it clearly means older brother”

ἓν μέρος λόγου ἐστί· δηλοῖ δὲ τὸν πρεσβύτερον ἀδελφόν. H.

êtheion: Older brother, really amazing.

ἠθεῖον, πρεσβύτερον ἀδελφὸν, θαυμαστὸν ἄγαν. V.

The sociolinguistic apparatus that conveys the full force of Eumaios’ feeling here is not fully present in English. But even just translating this as “brother” would make sense since, earlier, Eumaios claims that he would not even mourn his parents as much as he would Odysseus.

(This is a little disturbing from the perspective of how a slave defers to the master, but it works out even better for Eumaios’ view of his position in the ‘family’ since later he says that he was raised with Odysseus’ sister Ktimene).

Image result for ancient GReek vase odysseus and eumaeus

Odysseus, Ancient Athlete Enraged

Homer, Odyssey 8.165–185

Euryalus (a Phaeacian youth) has just claimed that Odysseus looks more like a pirate than an athlete.

Very-clever Odysseus glared at him and then answered in response

“Friend, you don’t speak well. You’re like a reckless man.
The gods don’t give good things to people at once in this way–
Not in form or brains or in ability to speak.
For one man is not exceptional in looks
But a god crowns his form with words. People delight
As they see him, and he speaks without hesitation in public,
With sweet reverence, and is conspicuous among those assembled,
And they gaze upon him like a god when he goes through the city.

Another is equal to the immortals in his appearance
But no charm sits well upon his words—
Just so, your shape is excellent, not even a god
Could make it differently. But your mind is limited [apophôlios].
You have raised the spirit in my dear chest
By speaking against what is right. I am no novice in sports,
As you at least claim, but I think I was among the best
When I could trust my youth and my hands.
But now I am overcome by evil and pains. I have endured much
Surviving the wars of men and the harrowing waves.
But, even so, after suffering much, I will play your games.
Your speech gnaws at my heart: you have pissed me off by speaking.”

τὸν δ’ ἄρ’ ὑπόδρα ἰδὼν προσέφη πολύμητις ᾿Οδυσσεύς·
“ξεῖν’, οὐ καλὸν ἔειπες· ἀτασθάλῳ ἀνδρὶ ἔοικας.
οὕτως οὐ πάντεσσι θεοὶ χαρίεντα διδοῦσιν
ἀνδράσιν, οὔτε φυὴν οὔτ’ ἂρ φρένας οὔτ’ ἀγορητύν.
ἄλλος μὲν γὰρ εἶδος ἀκιδνότερος πέλει ἀνήρ,
ἀλλὰ θεὸς μορφὴν ἔπεσι στέφει· οἱ δέ τ’ ἐς αὐτὸν
τερπόμενοι λεύσσουσιν, ὁ δ’ ἀσφαλέως ἀγορεύει,
αἰδοῖ μειλιχίῃ, μετὰ δὲ πρέπει ἀγρομένοισιν,
ἐρχόμενον δ’ ἀνὰ ἄστυ θεὸν ὣς εἰσορόωσιν.
ἄλλος δ’ αὖ εἶδος μὲν ἀλίγκιος ἀθανάτοισιν,
ἀλλ’ οὔ οἱ χάρις ἀμφὶ περιστέφεται ἐπέεσσιν,
ὡς καὶ σοὶ εἶδος μὲν ἀριπρεπές, οὐδέ κεν ἄλλως
οὐδὲ θεὸς τεύξειε, νόον δ’ ἀποφώλιός ἐσσι.
ὤρινάς μοι θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι φίλοισιν
εἰπὼν οὐ κατὰ κόσμον· ἐγὼ δ’ οὐ νῆϊς ἀέθλων,
ὡς σύ γε μυθεῖαι, ἀλλ’ ἐν πρώτοισιν ὀΐω
ἔμμεναι, ὄφρ’ ἥβῃ τε πεποίθεα χερσί τ’ ἐμῇσι.
νῦν δ’ ἔχομαι κακότητι καὶ ἄλγεσι· πολλὰ γὰρ ἔτλην,
ἀνδρῶν τε πτολέμους ἀλεγεινά τε κύματα πείρων.
ἀλλὰ καὶ ὧς, κακὰ πολλὰ παθών, πειρήσομ’ ἀέθλων·
θυμοδακὴς γὰρ μῦθος· ἐπώτρυνας δέ με εἰπών.”

 

Schol. QT ad Od. 8.166 ex

 “it is the Homeric custom to get a sense of the manner and character of someone you meet from their words. [This occurs elsewhere] for Telemachus: “you are of good blood, dear child, based on the way you think.” This is because he believe that being well-born and educated necessarily go together and he says everything appropriately. But Odysseus, for he did not maintain strongly that he is reckless, but says that he is like someone who is, because of his response and what he said.”

ξεῖν’, οὐ καλὸν ἔειπες] ἔθος ἐστὶν ῾Ομηρικὸν ἐκ τῶν λόγων χαρακτηρίζεσθαι καὶ τὸν τρόπον τοῦ ἐντυγχάνοντος. καὶ ἐν ἄλλοις περὶ τοῦ Τηλεμάχου “αἵματος εἶς ἀγαθοῖο, φίλον τέκος, οἷ’ ἀγορεύεις” (δ, 611.)· οἰόμενος τὸν εὐγενῆ καὶ πεπαιδευμένον ἀναγκαίως ὁμιλεῖν, πρεπόντως δὲ πάντα λέγειν. ᾿Οδυσσεὺς δὲ, οὐ γὰρ διεβεβαιώσατο τὸ ἀτάσθαλον αὐτὸν εἶναι, ἀλλ’ ἐοικέναι φησὶ τούτῳ διὰ τὸ
ἀντειπεῖν καὶ εἰρηκέναι. Q.T.

Schol. E ad Od. 8.177 ex 11-14

“Apophôlios properly means one who is not worthy of being included in the number of men, for they lack words and deeds at the right time. They call the primary schools phôleus. The one who has not frequented schools is called un-schooled.”

καὶ ἔστι κυρίως ἀποφώλιος ὁ μὴ ἄξιος συναριθμεῖσθαι ἀνδρῶν ὁλότητι ἐν φωτὶ, ἤγουν ἐν καιρῷ ἔργων ἢ λόγων δεομένῳ. φωλεοὺς λέγουσι τὰ παιδευτήρια. ὁ γοῦν μὴ φοιτῶν εἰς τὰ παιδευτήρια λέγεται ἀποφώλιος. E.

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Fish-Eaters, Meat-Eaters and Bread: A Strange Scholion and Dehumanizing Structures in the Odyssey

Homer, Odyssey 8.221-222

“I say that I am much better than the rest,
However so many mortals now eat bread on the earth.”

τῶν δ’ ἄλλων ἐμέ φημι πολὺ προφερέστερον εἶναι,
ὅσσοι νῦν βροτοί εἰσιν ἐπὶ χθονὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες.

Schol. B ad Od. 8.222 ex

“Who eat bread…” He says this because there are some races who don’t eat bread. Indeed, some are called locust eaters and fish-easters, like the Skythian race and the Massagetae are called meat-eaters. Some of the locust-eaters, after seeing bread, used to believe it was shit.”

σῖτον ἔδοντες] εἶπε τοῦτο διά τινα γένη, οἵτινες οὐκ ἤσθιον σῖτον. διὸ καὶ ἀκριδοφάγοι τινὲς καὶ ἰχθυοφάγοι ἐκαλοῦντο, ὡς καὶ τὸ Σκυθικὸν καὶ Μασσαγετικὸν κρεοφάγοι καλοῦνται. τινὲς γὰρ τῶν ἀκριδοφάγων ἰδόντες ἄρτον κόπρον εἶναι ἐνόμιζον. B.

Eusth. Comm. I Ad Hom. Od. 1.293

“Those who eat grain/bread.” This is perhaps said regarding the difference of other mortals who are not these kind of people—the kind of sort the story claims that the long-lived Aethiopians are too. These people, after they saw bread, compared it to shit. There were also those who lived from eating locusts and others who lived off fish. For this reason they are called locust-eaters and fish eaters. The Skythian race and the Masssegetic people who live primarily off meat do not wish to eat grain.”

Τὸ δὲ σῖτον ἔδοντες, πρὸς διαστολὴν ἴσως ἐῤῥέθη ἑτέρων βροτῶν μὴ τοιούτων. ὁποίους καὶ τοὺς μακροβίους Αἰθίοπας ἡ ἱστορία φησίν. οἳ ἄρτον ἰδόντες κόπρῳ αὐτὸν εἴκασαν. ἦσαν δὲ καὶ οἱ ἐξ ἀκρίδων ζῶντες καὶ οἱ ἐξ ἰχθύων. οἳ καὶ ἀκριδοφάγοι διατοῦτο καὶ ἰχθυοφάγοι ἐκαλοῦντο. τὸ δὲ Σκυθικὸν φῦλον καὶ τὸ Μασσαγετικὸν κρέασι διοικονομούμενον οὐδ’ αὐτὸ ἐθέλει σιτοφαγεῖν.

Strabo, Geographica 16.4.12

“In a close land to [the Aethiopians] are people darker-skinned than the rest and shorter and the shortest-lived, the locust-eaters. They rarely see more than forty years because their flesh is rife with parasites. They live on locusts who arrive in the spring carried by the strong winds that blow into these places. After throwing burning logs into trenches and kindling them a little, they overshadow the locusts with smoke and they call. They pound them together with salt and use them as cakes for their food.”

Πλησιόχωροι δὲ τούτοις εἰσὶ μελανώτεροί τε τῶν ἄλλων καὶ βραχύτεροι καὶ βραχυβιώτατοι ἀκριδοφάγοι· τὰ γὰρ τετταράκοντα ἔτη σπανίως ὑπερτιθέασιν, ἀπο-
θηριουμένης αὐτῶν τῆς σαρκός· ζῶσι δ’ ἀπὸ ἀκρίδων, ἃς οἱ ἐαρινοὶ λίβες καὶ ζέφυροι πνέοντες μεγάλοι συνελαύνουσιν εἰς τοὺς τόπους τούτους· ἐν ταῖς χα-ράδραις δὲ ἐμβαλόντες ὕλην καπνώδη καὶ ὑφάψαντες μικρὸν … ὑπερπετάμεναι γὰρ τὸν καπνὸν σκοτοῦνται καὶ πίπτουσι· συγκόψαντες δ’ αὐτὰς μεθ’ ἁλμυρίδος μάζας ποιοῦνται καὶ χρῶνται.

Strabo’s passage is, from a modern perspective, fairly racist (and more so even than the Eustathius). I don’t believe that the Odyssey’s formulaic line carries the same force, however. For Homer, people who eat bread are those who cultivate the earth and have to work (they don’t live easy lives like the gods). People who don’t eat the fruit of the earth are marauders and monsters.

The Odyssey’s ethnographic frame develops structures that insist to be fully human, one must (1) live in a city and (2) have recognizable laws and institutions, and (3) cultivate the earth. Creatures who don’t do these things are marginalized and dehumanized either through their behavior (the suitors and sailors) or through actual deformity (the Cyclopes, Kikones, and, well, pretty much most of the women in the poem). So, while the epic itself is not clearly racist in the modern sense, it supplies and deploys frameworks by which other human beings may be marginalized and dehumanized.

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