Hint: Either because he likes people. Or, animals have a good sense of smell.
Schol. A ad Il. 1.50c ex.
“First he [attacked] the mules and the fast dogs”
“Because the god is well-disposed toward human beings, he kills mules, dogs, and the other irrational beasts first, so that, by inducing fear through these [deaths], he might nurture proper reverence in the Greeks.
Or, it is because the mules and dogs have a more powerful perception of smell. For, dogs are really good at tracking beasts because of their sense of smell, and mules, when they are left behind, often rediscover their paths thanks to their sense of smell.”
Additional note: On 1.50, Aristonicus denies the claims by by some rogues that “mules” here is a word for “guards”; the bT scholia make the quasi-scientific claim that these animals are more susceptible to diseases than humans. I like the idea of Apollo trying to teach people a lesson before just murdering them all.
“…but the story is from ancient men. If, then, I were to give to you silver as swap of equal worth when you sent me gold, do not value the favor less nor, as Glaukos did, believe that the exchange is harmful, since not even Diomedes would switch silver armor for gold since the former is much more practical than the latter in the way of lead that is shaped for the ends of spears.
I am joking with you! I have assumed a certain freedom of speech based on the example you have written yourself. But, if in truth you want to send me gifts worth more than gold, write and don’t ever stop writing to me! For even a brief note from you is more dear to me than anything someone else might consider good.”
Who knew that the popular Christmas song was inspired by Julian the Apostate?
Julian is referring to the famous scene of exchange between Diomedes and Glaukos in the Iliad (6.230-236)
“Let’s exchange armor with one another so that even these people
May know that we claim to be guest-friends from our fathers’ lines.”
So they spoke and leapt down from their horses,
Took one another’s hands and made their pledge.
Then Kronos’s son Zeus stole away Glaukos’ wits,
For he traded to Diomedes golden arms in exchange for bronze,
weapons worth one hundred oxen traded for those worth nine.”
“Kronos’ son Zeus took Glaukos’ wits away”. Because he was adorning him among his allies with more conspicuous weapons. Or, because they were made by Hephaistos. Or, as Pios claims, so that [the poet?] might amplify the Greek since they do not make an equal exchange—a thing which would be sweet to the audience.
Or, perhaps he credits him more, that he was adorned with conspicuous arms among his own and his allies. For, wherever these arms are, it is a likely place for an enemy attack.”
I always thought that Glaukos got a raw deal from interpreters here. Prior to the stories Diomedes and Glaukos tell each other, Diomedes was just murdering everyone in his path. Glaukos—who already knew who Diomedes was before he addressed him—tells a great tale, gives Diomedes his golden weapons, and actually lives to the end of the poem. I think this is far from a witless move. And, if the armor is especially conspicuous, maybe the plan-within-a-plan is to put a golden target on Diomedes’ back.
“There were twelve sons of blameless Neleus. According to the Separatists, Homer records that there were twelve children of Neleus in the Iliad but had three in the Odyssey where he provides the genealogy: “And I saw surpassingly beautiful Khloris” and soon after, “Nestor and Khromios, and proud Periklymenos”. It is likely that the children born before came to him from another woman and these three came from Khloris, for Priamos said, “I had fifty children. When the sons of the Achaeans came / 19 of them were from a single womb / the rest women bore to me in my home.”
“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.”
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.”
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).
“[Metrodorus said] concerning the laws and customs among men that Agamemnon was the sky, Achilles was the sun, Helen was the earth, and Alexander was air, that Hektor was the moon and that the rest were named analogically with these. He claimed that Demeter was the liver, Dionysus the spleen, and Apollo was bile [anger].”
Some Allegorical Readings from the Scholia Vetera to the Odyssey (Dindorf)
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.
*Heraclitus the Obscure claims that Hermes is a representation of Odysseus’ rational mind (Homeric Problems 72-73)
Schol E.M. ad Od. 4.384
“The winds and every sort of breeze”: Some allegorize Proteus as matter itself. For without matter, they claim that the creator [could not] have made everything distinct. For, although matter is never clear to us, men, trees, water and all things come from it. Eidothea, you see, is thought. Matter produces thought once it is condensed. Others allegorize Proteus as the right part of the spring when the earth first begins to make the shapes of grapes and offspring. Menelaos, since it was not the right time for sailing and he missed the spring, sailed in the wrong direction. The name Proteus is suitable for allegory.”
“The holy cave of the Nymphs”: Some allegorize the cave as the universe, the nymphs are souls, they are also bees and the bodies are men. The two gates are the exit of souls, and one is creation, the entry point of the soul, in which no part of the body enters, but there are only souls. They are immortal. From this they call them olive—or, because of the victorious crown, or because…which is nourishing…”
“The problem: Polytropos [“many-wayed”] Antisthenes claims that Homer doesn’t praise Odysseus as much as he criticizes him when he calls him polytropos. He didn’t make Achilles and Ajax polytropoi, but they were direct [‘simple’] and noble. Nor did he make Nestor the wise tricky, by Zeus, and devious in character—he simply advised Agamemnon and the rest and if he had anything good to counsel, he would not stand apart keeping it hidden; in the manner Achilles showed that he believed the man the same as death “who says one thing but hides another in his thoughts.”
“Antisthenes in interpreting this asks “why, then, is wretched Odysseus called polytropos? Really, this is the way to mark him out as wise. Isn’t it true that his manner never indicates his character, but that instead it signals his use of speech? The man who has a character difficult to penetrate is well-turned. These sorts of inventions of words are tropes/ways/manners”
“If wise men are clever at speaking to others, then they also know how to speak the same thought in different ways; and, because they know the many different ways of words about the same matter. And if wise men are also good, then this is reason Homer says that Odysseus who is wise is many-wayed: he knew how to engage with people in many ways.
Thus Pythagoras is said to have known the right way to address speeches to children, to make those addresses appropriate for women to women, those fit for leaders to leaders, and those appropriate for youths to youths. It is a mark of wisdom to find the manner best for each group of people; and it is a mark of ignorance to use a single type of address toward people who are unaccustomed to it. It is the same for medicine in the successful use of its art, which fits the many-wayed nature of therapy through the varied application to those who need assistance. This manner of character is unstable, much-changing.
Many-wayedness of speech is also a finely crafted use of language for different audiences and it becomes single-wayed. For, one approach is appropriate to each. Therefore, fitting the varied power of speech to each, shaping what is proper to each for the single iteration, makes the many-wayed in turns single in form and actually ill-fit to different types of audiences, rejected by many because it is offensive to them.
Students often complain about the lack of verisimilitude in the heroic diet–even though the Odyssey mentions that Odysseus’ companions fish and hunt birds before they kill the cattle in Thrinacia, students find something odd about a diet of meat, bread and wine.
Apparently ancient comic poets did too–and they were concerned about the reality of heroic sexual habits as well. Obviously, as the beginning of book 1 of the Iliad makes clear, eligible ladies were not in excess supply.
[Warning: this next passage is a little, well, explicit] Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 1.46
“Sarpedon makes it clear that they ate fish when he says that being captured is similar to hunting with a fishing net. In the comic charm, Eubolos also says jokingly:
Where dies Homer say that any of the Achaeans Ate fish? They only ever roast meat—he never has Anyone of them boil it at all! And not a one of them sees a single prostitute— They were stroking themselves for ten years! They knew a bitter expedition, those men who After taking a single city went back home With assholes much wider than the city they captured.
The heroes also didn’t allow freedom to the birds in the air, but they set snares and nets for thrushes and doves. They practices for bird hunting when they tied the dove to the mast of the ship and shot arrows at it, as is clear from the Funeral Games. But Homer leaves out their consumption of vegetables, fish and birds because of gluttony and because cooking is inappropriate, he judged it inferior to heroic and godly deeds.”
“Odysseus properly, as he speaks to the public, offers the prophecy of Kalkhas to please the people, since he was hateful to the sons of Atreus but sweet to the masses. Nestor, because he is trying to please the king, offers the signs of the king of the gods. For this reason Odysseus is praised by the Greeks but Nestor is praised by the king.”
“Endure, friends, and wait some time so we may learn,
Whether Kalkhas prophesied truly or not.
For we all know this well in our minds: you were all
Witnesses, at least those of you the fates of death have not carried off.
On that day long ago when the ships of the Achaeans gathered
At Aulis preparing troubles for Priam and the Trojans:
We were all around the sacred altars along a spring
Completing sacrifices to the immortal gods
Under a beautiful plane tree from where the sparkling water issued.
A great omen appeared there: a serpent with a deep-red back,
Terrible, which the Olympian himself sent to the light,
Crept up from under the altar and moved toward the plane tree.
There were newborn sparrow-chicks, immature ones
Were peering out under the leaves on the topmost bow.
There eight of them but the mother who bore them made it nine.
Then the serpent gulped them all down as they tweeted pitifully.
Their mother hopped around mourning over her dear offspring.
Well, he coiled up and grabbed her by the wing as she cried over them.
When it had swallowed the sparrow’s children and her too.
Then the god who exposed the serpent made it disappear—
The son of crooked-minded Kronos made it into stone.
We all stood in awe at the thing that happened,
That’s how terrible the portents of the gods were over our sacrifices.
Kalkhas immediately addressed us, offering his interpretation:
“Why are you silent, you long-haired Achaeans?
The great counsellor Zeus has shown us this sign:
Late coming, late completed, and its’ fame will never die.
Just as it ate up the sparrow’s children and her too,
Eight of them and the mother who bore them was the ninth,
So too we will war here for that many years
And in the tenth we will take the wide-wayed city.”
That’s how Kalkhas interpreted. Now all these things are being completed.”
“I say that the over-powering son of Kronos assented
On that day when the Argives took to the fast-faring ships
Bringing murder and death to the Trojans,
Showing clear and favorable signs by flashing lightning.
So let no one be compelled to return home,
Because each one has taken a Trojan wife to bed
As payback for Helen’s writhing and moans.”
It is the right time of the year for raising the dead. A few years back, a student paper on the Elpenor Pelike at the MFA in Boston drew my attention to the following passage.
Servius ad Aen. 6.107
“For this reason the place is named without joy since, as people claim, it would not have been there but for necromancy or spell-craft. For, Aeneas completed these sacred rites when Misenus was killed and Ulysses did it with the death of Elpenor.
This very scene Homer himself presented falsely from the detail of its location which he specifies along with the length of time of the journey. For he claims that Ulysses sailed for one night and came to the place where he completed these sacrifices. For this reason it is abundantly clear that he doesn’t mean the ocean but Campania.”
sine gaudio autem ideo ille dicitur locus, quod necromantia vel sciomantia, ut dicunt, non nisi ibi poterat fieri: quae sine hominis occisione non fiebant; nam et Aeneas illic occiso Miseno sacra ista conplevit et Vlixes occiso Elpenore. quamquam fingatur in extrema Oceani parte Vlixes fuisse: quod et ipse Homerus falsum esse ostendit ex qualitate locorum, quae commemorat, et ex tempore navigationis; dicit enim eum a Circe unam noctem navigasse et ad locum venisse, in quo haec sacra perfecit: quod de Oceano non procedit, de Campania manifestissimum est.
The relevant passages from the Odyssey don’t give any hint that Elpenor was intentionally killed for black magic. When Odysseus actually does summon the dead, now that gets a little dark.
“I could not even lead my companions unharmed from there.
The youngest of my companions was a certain Elpênor,
He was neither especially brave in battle or composed in his thoughts.
He separated himself from the companions in Kirkê’s holy home
Because he needed some air; then he fell asleep because he was drunk.
When he heard the noise and trouble of our companions moving out,
He got up immediately and it completely escaped his thoughts
To climb down again by the long ladder—
So he fell straight from the roof and his neck
Shattered along his spine; then his spirit flew down to Hades.”
Nekuomanteia, glossed by Hesychius as nekromanteia (i.e. “necromancy”) is an alternate name for the Nekyuia, the parade of the dead in book 11 of the Odyssey. From the Greek Anthology: ᾿Εν τῷ Η ἡ τοῦ ᾿Οδυσσέως νεκυομαντεία· (3.8); Scholia to the Odyssey, Hypotheses: Λ. Νεκυομαντεία, ἢ, Νεκυία. Cf. Eustathius, Comm. Ad Od. 1.396.10
“And many report that “it will please” does not mean “it will bring pleasure” but it will be of some use”
et multi ‘iuvabit’ non delectabit, sed usus erit tradunt.
Seneca, EM 58.5-6
“If someone beset by troubles should say, “Perhaps someday it will bring pleasure to recall these things,” then let this person fight with their whole spirit. We are conquered if we yield; if we push back against our grief, we prevail.”
In ipsis positus difficultatibus dicat: Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit. Toto contra ille pugnet animo; vincetur, si cesserit, vincet, si se contra dolorem suum intenderit.
Macrobius, Saturnalia 5.6-8
[comparing Vergil to Homer]
Hom. Od 12.208-12
“Friends, we are in no way unfamiliar with troubles: This is indeed no greater a suffering than that time When the Kyklops trapped us in his cave with violent force. But we got out of there too thanks to my courage, planning, And wit, and I think you will some how remember these things.”
Ulysses reminds his companions of only one reason for their pain while Aeneas reminds them of the results of two catastrophes in order to urge them to have hope for release from their current troubles. Ulysses is pretty indirect in saying “I think you will somehow remember these things” while Aeneas is clearer when he says “Perhaps someday it will bring pleasure to recall these things”.
But what your poet also adds here is a stronger kind of reassurance when he asks people not only to think of a time when they survived but to have hope as well for happiness in the future by promising that following their current labors they will find not only a safe home but a kingdom.”
Vlixes ad socios unam commemoravit aerumnam: hic ad sperandam praesentis mali absolutionem gemini casus hortatur eventu. deinde ille obscurius dixit,
. . . καί που τῶνδε μνήσεσθαι ὀΐω.
. . . forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
‘Sed et hoc quod vester adiecit solacii fortioris est. suos enim non tantum exemplo evadendi, sed et spe futurae felicitatis animavit, per hos labores non solum sedes quietas sed et regna promittens.
Homer, Odyssey 15.398-401
“As we two drink and dine in this shelter Let us take pleasure as we recall one another’s terrible pains. For a man finds pleasure even in pains later on After he has suffered so very many and survived many too.”